Life is a Journey

Whenever I attend a shabbat service at my synagogue, there is one incredibly moving passage that has brought great meaning to my life – especially when friends and family members have experienced profound loss. While it’s incredibly hard to find the right words to comfort someone who has lost someone close to them, what I would like to share is this incredible poem, written by Rabbi Alvin I. Fine.
Please take a moment, read it and share it with those you love.
Life is a Journey
By: Rabbi Alvin I. Fine
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey:
From childhood to maturity
and youth to age;
From innocence to awareness
and ignorance to knowing;
From foolishness to discretion
and then perhaps to wisdom.
From weakness to strength or
from strength to weakness
and often back again;
From health to sickness
and we pray to health again.
From offense to forgiveness
from loneliness to love
from joy to gratitude
from pain to compassion
from grief to understanding
from fear to faith.
From defeat to defeat to defeat
until looking backwards or ahead
We see that victory lies not
at some high point along the way
but in having made the journey
step by step
a sacred pilgrimage.
Birth is a beginning
and death a destination
And life is a journey;
A sacred journey to life everlasting

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

greenbeanscasserole_s4x3_lg.jpgAs we head into the coldest months of the year, I do believe some comfort food is in order. Try this creamy update to the old school Green Bean casserole. This time, hold the can of soup…..
Green Bean Casserole:
2 LBS trimmed green beans, cut in half
Bechamel or White Sauce:
6 TBS butter
4 cups whole milk
4 TBSflour
1/4-1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (adjust it to your liking)
1 tsp salt (adjust to your liking with more, a little at a time)
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 -2 cups canned fried onions like French’s or ones from Trader Joe’s that my sis told me about which have a lot fewer ingredients-healthier
Steam green beans after they have been trimmed and cut in half. Set aside or refrigerate and use the next day if you like.
In a medium sized sauce pan, heat up the butter over a low flame until melted.
Stir in the flour with a whisk until fully incorporated with the butter.
Slowly add in the milk, whisking all the while.
Keep whisking now over a low to medium flame. Whisk every minute or so until the mixture becomes thick like pudding. This may take about 10-15 minutes.
Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper and add more of each if you need to.
In a medium sized bowl, mix together the green beans and the bechamel sauce.
Place mixture in a casserole dish and top with the fried onions.
Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for about half hour or until mixture is bubbling and heated through. Serve immediately and enjoy!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Homeless Man Reunited with Mom on Early Show

I was watching the new edition of “The Early Show” this week and came across a story that will touch anyone’s heart. A homeless man was literally discovered via YouTube because he has the most unbelievable voice you’ll ever hear. Someone shot a video of him and it received millions of views and just like that, he was plucked out of obscurity and his life changed forever. This morning, the man, whose name is Ted Williams (no relation to the famed ball player) got the chance to be reunited with his mom – who is in her nineties and never thought she’d ever see him again.
Anyone can turn their life around. Just take a look…

Win a $10,000 Kitchen Makeover!

KitchenAfter.jpegI don’t know about you, but my kitchen is in desperate need of a facelift. Between the hardwood floors that need to be sanded and refinished; the laminate countertop that I would one day love to replace with granite; the 11 year old stove whose knobs become scorching hot every time you turn on the oven and the stainless steel sink that’s been through the ringer and back; I would so love to have a budget to replace all those eyesores that have been bugging me lately. Don’t even get me started on my fridge with all the broken shelves and drawers. Incidentally, the photo above is a shot of the kitchen I dream I’ll have one day – not our current work in progress.
Lucky for me, I just found out about a contest from the folks at Jif that might put me in the running for the chance to win a kitchen makeover. Here’s the dealeo…
The makers of Jif® Peanut Butter are asking creative cooks to share the innovative ways they incorporated peanut butter into their holiday spread this season.
Consumers have until January 17 (its last call!) to log on to www.jif.com to enter The Jif Holiday Spread Recipe Contest. There they can share their favorite recipes with fresh twists on holiday favorites, all for the chance to win one of two $10,000 prizes for a kitchen makeover!
I don’t know about you, but Jif Peanut Butter is definitely a must have item in our pantry and I’m pretty psyched to see the creations people came up with for their peanut butter recipes. Better head on over to the website and enter my peanut butter fondue recipe stat!
For recipe ideas, inspiration, complete details and the Official Rules, visit www.jif.com.

Let the Clean Start Challenge Begin!

scj-300x250-t3.jpgI am really excited to share that I will be participating in a 12 week challenge on Lifetime Moms to help boost kids’ self esteem. The topic is near and dear to my heart since I grew up battling a weight problem, bullies and mean girls – starting at the tender age of 10. Fast forward several decades, and as fate would have it, my own daughter has unfortunately, experienced bullying first hand.
As a mother, you instantly want to whip into action and protect your child the moment someone hurts their feelings, gets rough in the school yard or wages a war of words on their Facebook wall. But the problem is, as our children get older, we can’t be with them 24 hours of the day (nor should we be). Instead, it’s the responsibility of parents, teachers and community leaders to help guide our kids towards making responsible decisions. And that’s why, as part of the Lifetime Moms Clean Start Challenge, I plan to host an event in my community that will inspire kids to support one another by not doing hurtful things to their peers.
Over the past decade, I’ve been a board member of Love Our Children USA, the national nonprofit leader that works to break the cycle of violence against children. Love Our Children USA works to eliminate behaviors that keep children from reaching their potential. It redefines parenting and creates kid success by promoting prevention strategies and positive changes in parenting and family attitudes and behaviors through public education.
In 2005, Love Our Children USA launched Stomp Out Bullying, a campaign that focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country.
I hope to help kids and parents in my community at an event where they can get much needed advice from bullying and cyberbullying experts, as well as hear from teen ambassadors who have become role models in their own communities by standing up to bullies and advocating on behalf of kids. It is my hope, that kids will think twice when they taunt another child physically, verbally or online. It’s time we empower our children to Stomp out Bullying once and for all!
The Lifetime Moms Clean Start Challenge is sponsored by SC Johnson and will also offer readers the opportunity to enter a sweepstakes that begins on 1/4/2011 and ends on 3/31/2011. Three monthly prizes of $1,000 and a Grand Prize of $5,000 will be awarded. All winners will also receive a gift basket of products from SC Johnson. Five entries per day are permitted.
The Clean Start Challenge Overview:
Follow three teams of real moms as they bring positive change to their communities.The Clean Start Challenge 2011 is a video contest and sweepstakes presented by SC Johnson and hosted on Lifetimemoms.com. Over the course of twelve weeks, three teams of Mom bloggers tackle the causes they are passionate about and work toward bringing positive change to their communities. Each team will reach out to experts and regular people who have been affected by their target issue in an effort to gather information and learn about available resources and strategies for making positive changes. The knowledge and tools the teams acquire will be shared at a local event they’ll organize to engage and inspire their communities to get involved in achieving solutions that will improve the lives of others.
Every week as they work toward their goals, the teams will share their progress in brief videos on the Clean Start Challenge 2011 microsite. The American public watches and votes on these video updates, learning about the issues at hand and getting involved by lending their support to the group they feel is making the greatest impact. The winning team will receive $10,000 to donate to the charity of their choice; runners-up teams receive $2,500 to donate to their chosen cause. Click here for the official sweepstakes rules. And to support Team Beth, visit this link to find out more, Like our Facebook page and vote!

Girdle Chronicles: Let the Dieting begin!

I know – I shouldn’t say I’m dieting again. Instead, I’m eating what I want but less of it. Either way, it’s January and that it means it’s time to focus on downsizing. Which is why I love this video from The Today Show featuring inspirational weight loss stories from real people – not celebrities who only seem to look slightly plump if they’re pregnant and then slim down to the size of a spaghetti strand.
Check out their stories and get ready to hear mine. I’m going to lose 15 pounds by June – really I am. You heard it here first and this time, I really, really mean it.

For more of my New Year’s resolutions, check me out in Lifetime Moms.

Setting Goals with Your Kids from the Organized Mom

Gather round the dinner table and make your New Year’s Resolutions with your kids, says the Organized Mom, Lorraine Brock

iStock_000014631526XSmall.jpgWhy is it that when the new year comes around, adults have plenty of New Year’s goals but we often don’t include the entire family? Maybe it’s because we consider our kids goals as unimportant or worse, they don’t have a vision for themselves. It’s true in some cases that a child’s goal can be totally off the mark of self help or betterment, like obtaining the next level in a video game or making a wish list of superficial items they want to gain the next year, but with some direction from parents kids can set goals at every level.
In our home, my husband and I have three teenage boys. Each year around New Year’s, we whip out the pen and paper and set down together to discuss our goals. This could be done around the dinner table or by having a quiet moment around the fire.
In order to get our boys started we try to have three main categories for which to set goals; school, personal, and spiritual. This does not mean they can only have three goals; on the contrary they can have as many goals as they want. But we do ask them to make an effort in improving at least one thing in each of these categories.
For example, our youngest son last year listed the following as his goals:
· B+ or higher in Math
· Walk Strider (our dog) and play ball with him more
· Bond more with dad (Dad time)
· Being a more Godly and polite young man
While this seems like a pretty mature list of goals, it did not start out that way. If I recall leveling on a game or buying a new game topped the list at first. But with the direction of what goal setting really was about and the importance our family unit placed on it, the light began to immerge in that little brain.
Once we had our goals there needed to be some accountability throughout the year. I know it’s hard for adults to stay focused, much less a child. So periodically throughout the year we bring the goals out to see the progress we had or had not made. I would suggest that you put on your calendar “check goals” about three times during the year. This will ensure you don’t forget to have periodic goal checks.
You’re probably wondering how many goals my three boys actually follow through on, well I will share. Our youngest met three of his four goals, our middle son meet all of his goals, and our oldest met half of one goal, out of four. Over all pretty great results, I’d say.
Just a note of advice that when reviewing the goals, just as with setting them up, you go over them as a family; it’s accountability. Yes, you will probably have one that is a little slack in meeting some of their goals, but if done with love and much encouragement he or she will see the benefit and growth in their siblings and want to jump aboard.
As always goal setting is best done as a family, so that others around you can help you meet those goals. Not to mention written goals can be treasures now and for the future; allowing each family member a glimpse back in time.
Lastly, goal setting each year allows your child to see where they have been and are today, with the added bonus of seeing the process of getting there. They being to see over time that every decision they make needs to help them get closer to their goals. It teaches them to question why they are doing what they are doing.
For example if your child has a goal of wanting to work with animals, should they be volunteering in a junior officers program? If that’s their only time to volunteer, I’d say the better choice would be to find a local veterinary clinic, city pound, zoo or other animal facility to volunteer at. Trying always to keep what you’re doing in alignment with your goals.
So grab a cup of coffee for you and hot chocolate for the kids, and then spend some time helping each other set their goals. You will see over time that each person’s goals normally become their passion and purpose.
IMG_3957_retouched.jpgLorraine Brock is a professional organizer, family coach, speaker, and founder and owner of “Get Organized!” “Get Organized!” is a professional organizing company in the Dallas, Texas area. “Get Organized!” specializes in organizing and de-cluttering homes as well as implementing systems in the home for better family management.
A popular media guest, Lorraine has appeared on Dallas’ two top morning television shows: Good Morning Texas and Good Day Fox, and has been featured on various radio outlets. She has been hallmarked in many local, regional, and national print and online magazines, such as the Dallas Morning News, The North Texas Kids Magazine, SheKnows.com, and Daily Candy Kids. To get more helpful advice from Lorraine, visit her blog Get Organized!

Cool or Hot?

Essie-Merino-Cool nails.jpgI wouldn’t say I was the trendiest person… but I do like to know about the latest trends, especially when it comes to nail polish! Back in my “former life”, before kids and working hard long days in corporate America, I would always treat myself to a weekly manicure. My hands always looked great. There was a manicure place across the street from my apartment called Jay’s Nails and after going there every week without fail for eight years Jay and I were close friends!
Now, with two little kids and work and just life in general, my manicures are few and far between! So when I do get a chance to run to the manicure place I have a hard time deciding what color to put on because I want it to be good and I need it to last! I like to ask the ladies at Sophia’s Nails what the popular colors are. A few months ago they recommended Essie’s “Merino Cool” and after trying to decide if I loved it or hated it, I fell in LOVE with it! I even bought it so I could touch it up and do it myself. I even put it on my toes! I can’t even tell you how many people complimented my nails. Complete strangers would stop me and ask what color I was wearing! I was so excited to have MY color and not have to think about it when I get my manicure.
But then I went to get a manicure for New Years Eve and when I sat down with my bottle of Merino Cool the woman said “try this, it’s very nice and popular… Essie’s Smokin’ Hot”. What to do?? Do I dare!? Well, it was New Years Eve and even though I was going to a party with my kids at least my hands could look hot… so I went for it. It’s a little darker than I’m used to, but thumbs up! Now I have two colors to choose from. I can be cool or hot! If you are looking for a great color nail polish this winter, try Essie’s Merino Cool or Smokin’ Hot!
s h nails.jpg