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Adjusting to Summer Vacation

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

It can take a little while to adjust to summer vacation from school.

This is our second full week of school vacation and we are hitting our stride.  Last week was a bit crazy in the transition.  It seems that no matter how much you plan out summer activities the first week is still an adjustment.  Sometimes, you just have to roll with it.  Allow the week to flow and jump back in the following Monday.

I began the week fighting the tide and it was stressing me out.  I had some work that needed to be done and it all was completed by the end of the week.  Once I made the decision to leave the extras to the side, the week was more enjoyable.

It did help me to plan ahead for this week.  I was able to tweak my plan and get back on track.  Little League ended this past weekend and we are enjoying a staycation this week.  My husband is home and the kids only have swimming lessons.

We live on Cape Cod, so planning ahead at this time of year is key.  There is no running into a store quickly, driving quickly or getting into a beach late in the day.  Having grown up here, I know the tricks of the trade and enjoy all the energy tourists bring with them.  It is truly an example of rolling with it.

While you are out enjoying time with family and friends, remember to meet new people and see where those friendships can lead you.  Wherever you live, there are plenty of new people around this time of year and with each new person is a potential opportunity!

Keep smiling and enjoy all that summer has to offer.  When it gets stressful – take a moment, step back and readjust.  It will all fall into place when you make time for yourself and your family!!

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at and read some of her other thoughts at or follow her on twitter @susanfishback.



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Finding Community In Yoga

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

One of my favorite things that I’ve found in yoga is community. Through yoga, I meet a lot of people, some of whom are very like minded to me, some of whom maybe a bit less so, all from various backgrounds, but at least we all find some commonality, some connection.

Most of those I have met are the most open, loving, giving, genuine and honest people I know. Now I’m a pretty open minded person to begin with and connect to people easily in general, so maybe this is not such a stretch for me, but I do believe yoga has helped break down some of the walls that even I had built around myself and has allowed me to become more of my true self; open, accepting, and less judgmental.

I’ve written about this previously, but at our core, we are all the same, we are all connected. And Yoga helps create unity, the word itself literally means “Union”. Union of body and mind, but perhaps union of people as well.

This past weekend I went to an amazing, historic event. A yoga class on Wrigley Field. Once I saw it announced, I knew I had to go. It was a free class sponsored by Lululemon, and some 500+ yogis came out on a beautiful Sunday morning to practice together. I met up with friends that I teach with, but also recognized in the crowd students, fellow teachers, and other familiar, and even not familiar, friendly faces as well. We were all in it together, breathing, moving, enjoying the sunshine and the feeling of being alive on a gorgeous Sunday morning in one of the country’s oldest, most historic baseball stadiums.

In a few months, I will go see Bruce Springsteen perform on that very field, in a spot where many other legends before him have stood and performed. And I, and my fellow yogis, stood on that very field, for one moment and time, and saluted the sun.

Lately I’ve incorporated my kids into this yoga community as well. We’ve gone a few times now to free yoga classes in a park right by our house also sponsored by Lululemon. These weren’t specific child or even family classes, but, being in a park, it was a more relaxed atmosphere and everyone was open and accepting. My kids did great throughout the hour long practices, they did get a little antsy at times, but the promise of Dairy Queen if they hung in there definitely helped.

Overall, they had a great time, and I had a great time sharing my “yoga world” with them, and introducing them to friends and various other people I have met through the yoga community. Yoga, to me, is far more than just a physical exercise. Yes, it’s an individual practice, but it’s also about community and connectivity. We are all connected.


Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at i

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Eating Healthy When There Isn’t Time

June 30, 2012 by BlackBerry_Mom  
Filed under juggling a career and family

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james weiselman schulman chef daddy

James Weiselman Schulman CHEF DADDY

To say that the last month has been crazy in our house would be an understatement. We bought a new home, our kids finished school and started camp (two separate ones), I started a new freelance gig, we hired a new nanny, my wife went on holiday to London, and in the middle of all of this, I ended up in the hospital at 2 AM one night with a pinched nerve in my back.

It has been quite a ride. For most people (sometimes even me), this is  when we really test our food philosophies. It is easy to give the kids healthy snacks and sit down together for dinner when things are calm and stable, but our true (food) colors show when things get crazy.

Do we still make the kids’ lunches or just buy them? Do we sit down for dinner together (even if it’s brief) or just let everyone eat when they want? Do we make the bread (or beans or pasta sauce or you name it) from  scratch or do we just go out and buy it?

There is no “right” answer. There are only your beliefs and resultant actions. How important is it to have a homemade meal, no matter how simple, during which everyone sits together? For me, that is essential, and even if it means some people need to stand (yeah, I had to stand for a week because of my back), then so be it.

To me, it’s that important, and it shows our kids that even when things get crazy, we take the time (as little as that may be to throw a salad together and make an omelette) to prepare a meal and sit and enjoy each others’ company.

It may be just the right time to get the kids to help out that much more.

It  is these times, when things are hectic, that you most need the break to be with family (or the home-cooked food or the family pitching in as a  team in the kitchen). Grab a glass of wine, catch up on the day’s goings-on, and take a nice deep breath…

Got a question for Chef Daddy? Ask in the comment section below and he’ll answer in an upcoming post.

For more from James, check out his own blog at:, follow him on twitter @jamesschulman, and find his other Chef Daddy posts at


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Summer Fashions for Men

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passion for fashion

Alison Malkin Schwartz - PASSION FOR FASHION

Men, are you looking for perfect new additions to a your summer wardrobe? Women, are you looking for the perfect new additions for your man’s summer wardrobe?

Read on for easy summer fashion tips for men  so you know what to buy for the summer season…

A button down shirt is a must have for any mans closet!

My favorite style a fitted gingham shirt, in any color will do. Always a classic that can be worn with a suit and tie or wear it with the sleeves rolled up and paired with chinos or denim jeans or for a more casual look.

Try the ones available at Brook Brothers that are wrinkle free and wash them at home, they come out of your dryer without any wrinkles, its genius! As an added bonus, say goodbye to those expensive dry cleaning bills.

I also love the button down shirts with one pattern on the shirt and a different pattern found on the sleeves of the shirt. As you roll up the sleeves the two different patterns coordinate together.

Invest in some short sleeve cotton collared shirts that always look smart. If you’re feeling daring add a pop of color maybe orange even pink or lavender, both great colors and not just for women anymore.

Invest in a pair of linen pants or shorts for the season. Add in a couple pair of dark jeans, which give off a dressier and slimmer look. I’m still a fan of cargo shorts and pants. My husband loves to stick his wallet and keys in the multiple pockets plus this utility look is cool. Try on a pair of plaid shorts and pair up with a solid collared shirt or plain cotton t-shirt.

Keep your new bottoms up with a luggage-braided belt, which will work back to any color you are wearing. A luggage boat shoe or sandal will get you through the summer in style. Try a pair of Converse or Vans sneakers for an easy, comfortable look.

Happy shopping!

Read more about Alison’s Passion for Fashion at


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Teaching Children Activism

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shawnna l.m. bolick

Shawnna L.M. Bolick - HAVING A TEA PARTY

Looking back I have always been an “activist” with a cause.

In junior high and early high school years it was the environment and creating our school’s recycling program.

As a high school senior and co-captain of my high school’s varsity tennis team we went before the school board urging them not to cut funding for tennis. As we awaited their decision, the girl’s tennis team took to the car washes and raised money to off-set the possibility of paying court times on our own dime.

In college, my activism ran the gamut of helping re-elect a sitting Congressman to volunteering in the inner city to teach GED students computer skills while preparing them for their impending exam.

In my 20s I worked on public policy in Albany’s New York State Assembly, Capitol Hill in DC and even in Texas’ state capital in Austin, TX for elected officials and think tanks that were in favor of free market solutions, personal freedom, limited government and a strong national defense.

Growing our future

Now, in my mid-30s my activism has come full circle. I am now raising two young patriotic Americans ages 6 and 9 who attend tea parties with me and ask a lot of questions. My 9 year old knows what taxes are and doesn’t like paying his hard-earned chore money on video games any more than I like paying them on the food that I buy.

With the recent debt ceiling debate I had a chance to educate our future generation why you can’t spend all the money and why you need to make prudent decisions so they don’t affect our friends and neighbors’ livelihoods. I think my kids understand they shouldn’t go out and buy a new bike if they just got one last year.

More importantly, my kids understand the importance of saving up for something they desire. What they can’t understand is why it is so easy for the government to raise taxes even if they have done things the right way.

Earlier this week my son’s 4th grade teachers decided to play a “trick” on the class that tied in with their studies on the American Revolution.  They told every student that they were going to be taxed 10 cents to use a piece of white paper because the price of school supplies was increasing and they didn’t have a good supply. My son blurts out, “that’s it. Let’s have a tea party.”

I guess my subliminal teaching of activism have finally rubbed off. I just hope my kids realize I have only fought for the future and hopefully, they will leave an even larger foot print.


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The Top Ten List: Planning a Successful Playdate

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Melissa Savage - KID SMART NYC

We’ve all been there before. It’s time for you child’s playdate, which was not easy to schedule by the way, and instead of a fun experience for our kids, and some well-deserved down-time for us, it turns into chaos, micromanaging, bribery, and ultimately tears.  So, what’s the next step?

How, as parents, do we help our children be more successful on their playdates? Here’s Kid Smart NYC’s Top Ten List for planning successful playdates.  We hope this will improve you and your children’s experiences!

1. Set your child up for success: find a child who will complement your child’s needs. You might want to ask your child’s teacher for suggestions for good social matches. Prepare your child for the playdate…keep it simple. Talk to them about it and choose activities that both children will enjoy.

2. Choose the right location! Chose a location that is familiar to your child such as their home or their friend’s home. Also, try to practice in new locations (i.e., take your child to the playground without a peer so they have an opportunity to become familiar with the locations prior to the playdate)

3. Increase Motivation: conduct playdates in highly preferred and motivating settings until they are comfortable. Use praise and positive reinforcement after the playdate to encourage future playdates

4. Use Social Modeling: this means that you will be the guide! Model appropriate social skills and playskills when around other children and family members. You might need to be present and available during the first few playdates to provide cues when needed.

5. Find a Parent Partner in Crime: spend time with parents that are committed to helping their children during playdates as well. Create parenting alliances where you help each other during playdates and follow up with the parent to discuss what can make your next playdate more successful.

6. Practice Practice Practice! you can be your child’s coach at home. Practice games when you are alone, creating opportunities for coping with successes and failures.

7. Take advantage of siblings and family members: children can be agents of change for each other…older children can be models of appropriate interactions for younger children and younger siblings can provide opportunities for children to learn skills such as patience and compassion during play.

8. Consider you child’s sensory needs: is your child overwhelmed by group settings andexperiencing “sensory overload”? Or, is your child under-reactive, affecting his ability to play or socialize consistently? Knowing what your child’ needs are can help you plan their activities more successfully.

9. Use visual aids if your child needs it: create playdate schedules or calenders, read books about playdates, or create social stories (individually tailored stories about a specific area of difficulty.)

10. Ask for help! planning successful playdates can be challenging. Ask people who know your child for assistance. Try and try again….playdates can pose a challenge, but they can get better and more productive with practice!

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Have A Support System

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

Recently, I have read a lot of different articles about achieving goals and positive thinking and the one common thread has been to surround yourself with a great support group.  Many of us have different friends for different parts of our lives.  Some cross over, but you need the friend who will laugh when you have an awful diaper experience and a friend to take you out and remind you that you can still be a parent and be social.  You also need a cheerleader!

Yes, our spouses and family are wonderful cheerleaders; but often we want some outside encouragement.  That friend who routinely reads your blog posts or helps you through the decision process on when to go back to work or help you get ready on that first day.  This friend can live down the street or states away.

Anytime you put yourself out there, for an interview, to try selling items on etsy and beyond – there will be somebody doubting you.  This can be hard to swallow and makes it all the better to have someone in your corner giving you the pep talk.

When I made the decision to go back to teaching dance, I had many people question whether or not I was qualified (I have a BFA in dance).  Then I got certified in Pilates and the same people questioned that choice.  Now, I am successful in both fields and love teaching.  When I am having a bad day, my students make great progress and make me so happy.

I had to step away from the nay-sayers – even if they have been my friends since high school.  There comes a time to make a choice.  These friends still have a place in your life, but they aren’t the ones to go to when you need a little encouragement.  It is so easy to let the negative reaction undo a great day or amazing experience.  It can take a lot to hold your head high and step back, but then you can pick up the phone and share your day with your cheerleader.

It is equally important to be a cheerleader for your friends.  I find great satisfaction in my friends’ success.  I love to hear about how something went well.  I also try to pass along any info that might be helpful for them.  Remember to be open and share your experiences with friends!

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at and read some of her other thoughts at or follow her on twitter @susanfishback.


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Shopping Tips For Men

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passion for fashion

Alison Malkin Schwartz - PASSION FOR FASHION


My husband hates to go shopping for himself!

He starts out enthusiastic as we attempt to update his wardrobe with a few new added pieces each season and soon enough, he seems to get overwhelmed with racks of clothing and any patience he entered the store with soon fades away. Sound familiar?

Since my husband has the temperament of my five-year-old son once we enter any clothing store/mall I have devised some new ways to make his shopping experience a better one for all of us…

First step… purging his closet! This is the very last task any man wants to do but it helps them figure out what they already have and what they need to ditch (the holey shirt they have held onto for years). This makes it much easier to discover what he needs to replenish.  It’s not a fun task but it’s worth doing at least twice a year and of course they probably need assistance doing it.

Now that the closets are cleaned out, write up a list of new items that you need to purchase and take it with you. This will help everyone to stay focused and help save money since you won’t be buying extra things you really don’t need.

Make sure he shops on a full stomach! I know you’ve heard this somewhere before, usually before you enter a supermarket they advise you not to shop hungry well the same applies to shopping with most men. When they are not hungry they can concentrate more on the task at hand and tend not to get as crabby – it’s a fact men can get really cranky when they’re hungry!

Attempt to get your shopping destination as soon as it  opens. This results in less crowds and more attention from the sales people who can assist you with tackling your list. Weekends can be crazy at the mall so if that’s your only opportunity to shop then definitely get there early.

Don’t try to get everything you need in one day. Break up your shopping needs… shop for the office clothing and accessories on your first visit and then tackle the more casual pieces the following week.

Happy shopping!

Read more about Alison’s Passion for Fashion at


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Learning To Swim In Your Career

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

Watching my kids learn how to swim has been a great experience.  They take lessons during the winter in a pool and during the summer at the beach (our town offers lessons at the beach, ponds and lakes).

There are differences and similarities in these lessons.  Swimming in the pool has provided them with the skills needed to swim.  At the beach, they have to make the decision to pick up their feet and trust the skills they learned in the pool.

When moving forward with a career, we have to make the decision to pick up our feet.  Just as we can’t swim for our kids, no one can pursue a career for you.

Whatever your career, you need to continue to practice and build new skills.  Sometimes it becomes overwhelming and you need to take a deep breath and enjoy your surroundings before continuing forward.  Other times, we get off track from the initial goal and need to re-evaluate.

I recently took the time to look at where I am in my career and decide where I want to be heading.  Deciding to teach was a big decision and after I earned my certification, I took any class that I could get.  This helped me build confidence and really determine my direction as an instructor.  Eventually, I became more selective in my classes so that I wouldn’t miss out on too much family time.

As I continued teaching, an opportunity presented itself.  The place where I teach was looking for someone to work five hours a week helping coordinate all of the group fitness classes.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity.  The hours were short and flexible and I could continue teaching and be home with my kids.  Unfortunately, a lot of transition within the organization followed.

Quickly, I was working many more hours and fielding complaints.  It began to take away the positives of teaching.  I needed to take a breath and determine what direction I wanted to be going.  Do I want to teach or do I want to be administrative.  It wasn’t a difficult choice – I want to teach.  I love my students and all that comes with teaching.  Making the formal decision was a little stressful, but it has already opened many new doors.

There are so many great opportunities out there if you can take a moment and look around.  Sometimes treading water is necessary for the next part of the journey, but you can’t reach that point if you never pick up your feet!  Trust yourself and your skills and move forward.  You can always change direction, but first you have to start the journey.

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at and read some of her other thoughts at or follow her on twitter @susanfishback


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Finding Time To Meditate

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

This past weekend I took a 40 hour 4 day intensive Level 2 yoga teacher training and it was truly amazing.  I learned a lot over those days, a lot that needs to be soaked in and digested slowly, over time.

As a mom, it took a lot of time away from my family, and put some additional pressure on my already overworked husband, but it was such an incredible experience and I’m so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.  And, I’m not going to lie, after a week of broken dishwashers, cars needing repairs all while managing 2 kids schedules and getting them out the door on time, dressed and fed, the little escape from reality was kind of nice.

The teachers that led us were truly inspiring and amazing, true gurus, as were my fellow students.  And our training was physical and technical but also ran a lot deeper into the  philosophical and spiritual sides of yoga as well.  The sides that, as times, have been a lot harder for me to allow myself to connect with.

I’ve never had a formal mediation practice, who’s got the time for that, right?  Lately I’m lucky if I have time for my physical yoga practice.  And to be honest, I was never truly convinced it was something I wanted or needed in my life.

Well friends, I found a small, quick way to incorporate meditation into your life.  It doesn’t necessarily need to be looked at as meditation, just taking some moments throughout your busy day to reset, take a deep breath, relax yourself.  One of my gurus told us about an amazing app, the Mindfulness Bells app.

You set the timer on it for how frequently, or infrequently, you want it chime and then the bell goes off at those intervals.  You can make it once an hour, you can make it once a day. whatever you choose. When the bell chimes, you take a deep cleansing breath….. maybe reflect on one thing you are grateful for or repeat a mantra in your head.

So when you’re stuck in traffic, your kids are in the back seat fighting, you have 10 different thoughts running through your mind, this gentle reminder will help you to pause, take a deep breath, clear your mind for a moment, and maybe, just maybe find some inner peace.  Who couldn’t use that?!?




Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at




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