Twelve Things to Tell Your Tween Tonight

I am the mother of two tweens. TWO OF THEM. That’s double the hormones. Double the attitude. Double the drama.SAMSUNG CSC

I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this, but there it is.

Obviously, there are wonderful things about tweens, too. Like how they are mature enough to be interesting, but they’re still really kids who let you be their mommy (sometimes). But I’ll be painfully honest – it is tough, too. Because they’re mature enough to argue with you and are no longer satisfied with the “Because I said so” answer, but they’re still really kids who cannot fully handle the emotional roller coaster of life.

In my recent interactions, confrontations, and sob-fests with my own tweens, I started to think of things to say to them. I like to think that they respond truly positively to these pearls of wisdom. Here are the top twelve on that list for you to share with your tween:

1. You are literally a part of me.

frankensteinPractically every meal you eat, I cook. Practically every item of clothing you wear, I provide. I screen your music, your television shows, your books (even when you don’t realize it!). I’m trying to give you the life I always wanted while also forging you in my image. Like Victor Frankenstein made his monster, so have I made you. So no matter how foreign I might seem to you, you are a lot more like me than you want to admit.

2. You are going to be so much smarter than me someday. But today is not the day.

There is nothing that your tween brain has figured out that I cannot deconstruct. And while I am so happy that you are smart and know wholeheartedly that you will be much, much smarter than me someday, the reason I still give you boundaries is because you’re not smarter than me yet.

3. You are not a disappointment.

Yes, you do things that disappoint me. And, yes, sometimes I want to trade you in for a toaster. But the things you do are not the person you are. I might be disappointed in some of your actions, but for my entire life and yours, you will never be a disappointment to me.

4. There’s a 90% chance that the friends you care so much about now will be irrelevant to you in 5 years.

It’s about perspective. You won’t believe me when I tell you that it doesn’t matter what she thinks or it’s ok if she doesn’t want to hang out with you anymore. But I’ll tell you anyway. Because you need to hear it, even though it doesn’t sound true. Yet.

5. He’s going to break your heart.

broken heartEven if there isn’t a “he” yet, it’s going to happen. And it will hurt. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it. And you’re going to feel like you are the only one who has ever felt so bad. But you’re not, or you won’t be. And I’ll be here for you if or when that happens.

6. They’ll all break your heart, but you will get over it.

This applies to those friends who stopped hanging out with you (see 4) or the crush who didn’t pan out the way you wanted (see 5). They’ll break your heart, and you will survive. You will learn why all women worship at the altar of Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive. There is nothing on earth that can crush you. As soon as you internalize that, moving on will become so much easier.

7. You will get caught.

I don’t care what it was that you did. I don’t care how careful you think you were. I don’t care how smart you are (see 2). You will get caught. Let me repeat that. YOU WILL GET CAUGHT. Factor that in to your calculations BEFORE you do whatever it is you will get caught for. I promise, this will make your life better than it will make mine.

8. Monkeys like rutabagas, too.

rutabagaOr something equally nonsensical. Especially in moments of tension. Your life is drama, drama, drama these days and, every once in a while, I’m going to remind you that “monkeys like rutabagas” or that “pinochle isn’t a real word, no matter how many times Gramma says it.” I will say those things, and you will laugh. And sometimes that is the point.

9. Laughing makes everything better.

Thus, the purpose of 8. You take yourself entirely too seriously at times. And if I try telling you that directly, you just get even more serious. So instead, I’m going to make you laugh, even when you don’t want to. Especially when you don’t want to. And eventually, you will learn that laughing helps you get through most things in life.

10. Life is about jumping through hoops.

dolphin_jumping_through_hoop_by_carolinerutland-d6keh6uI get it. You already know how to do [INSERT TASK HERE] and you don’t understand why you have to jump through some hoop just to prove it. Especially if it is something meaningless (and let’s face it, you think everything is meaningless). Well, let me tell you something, chickie – LIFE IS ABOUT JUMPING THROUGH HOOPS. Better get good at it now, since that is what adults do all day long. If there was a way to avoid that, I would’ve found it a long time ago.

11. You should have a theme song.

There should be a song that absolutely sums up who you are right this moment – or who you want to be. Identify it and make it your theme song. Because this simple exercise forces you to be self-aware – and self-awareness is the cornerstone of happiness. You can fix anything in your life, you can make anything better, as long as you are honest about what it is that needs changing. (And, by the way, your theme song not only can change over time, it should change. No one is one thing forever.)

12. Because I’m your mother and I say so.

I promise I will try reasoning with you, sharing my logic and my thoughts. I promise I will generally follow the same set of rules so that you can learn how to anticipate my reactions and not just wait for me to give them to you. And I promise I will listen you and let myself be persuaded by your arguments at appropriate times. But, every once in a while, the answer is going to be, “Because I’m your mother and I say so.” Which I know is a totally unsatisfactory answer. Make your peace with that.

Dr. Jo: Accessible Physical Therapy

IMG_0703 (1)I met Dr. Jo a few years ago when invited by my friend, her sister, to dinner. I knew I was in the presence of a super smart family before the appetizers were served. At the time, she was enjoying her career as a physical therapist. She is still loving that career while working at a private university in their Sports Medicine Department! But now she has found a way to give almost everyone access to physical therapy with her website Ask Dr. Jo. I checked out the website as soon as I heard about it and was happy to find exercises there that applied to me! I’m not sure I want to reveal just how many…. but I’ve never really thought about doing exercises, for example, to help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. The easy-to-use design of her website helps gives you an explanation of what might cause your particular pain and a description of helpful exercises in both written and video formats.  I started doing exercises right away, and as soon as I finished, I contacted Dr. Jo to see if we could host her on Nerdy Chicks Rule. She said yes! 🙂 Now, let’s get to know her better… 

1. Thanks for joining us today, Dr. Jo! In 2012 you took your knowledge as a physical therapist online to help people. Ask Doctor Jo is now approaching a million hits! What does your site offer visitors?  

My website, which my super talented brother helped me create (he also does all the filming and editing), is designed to show correct techniques for physical therapy exercises and stretches through engaging how-to videos.  It is meant to be fun, educational, and simple without overwhelming people. 

The reason I started this website was to continue to help people as much as I can. More and more often, health care professionals, especially in the therapy field, are getting road blocked by insurance caps, limited visits, and very high co-pays for patients. Sometimes there is just not enough time to give all the instruction a patient truly needs. This website is not designed to make people stop going to their doctor or therapist. It’s just to help along the way. Nothing beats a professional PT instructing you in person where they can make sure you are doing things correctly.

2.       I love the concept and it is great to see a site like yours do so well so quickly! What is your vision for the future of Ask Doctor Jo

I am still waiting on a call from Dr. Oz or Ellen to show the world what physical therapy is really about, and that it is not just gimmicky things like ultrasound or a miracle gel that fixes everything. I am also expecting to have billions of views surpassing Justin Bieber, Jenna Marbles, and even Kid President, and being known as the most viewed YouTube sensation ever.  But seriously, I really just hope to continue to help people who might not otherwise be able to get the proper care they need because of the barriers mentioned above.

3.       I think you’ll be helping people for a long time in the future. Now let’s talk about your past influences. Your experience as a college athlete influenced your decision to pursue a career in physical therapy. What do you see as other advantages sports offer girls?  

Sports not only taught me to be a stronger person physically and mentally, but it also taught me you can accomplish great things with teamwork.  In life, you have to work and deal with people you might not be friends with, and unfortunately people you don’t like.  This is the very same lesson you learn in sports.  Teammates might not like each other, but they have to work together to win the game.  It is a great life lesson to learn at an early age.

Sports also teach you to be mentally strong.  You might not win every game, but you learn from it and play better next time.  It also taught me great time management, especially in high school and college.  Sometimes school itself can stress you out, but adding in practices and traveling…and more practices on top of that, really makes you have to use your time wisely.

With all that said, I think sports offer girls an outlet to be tough, strong, and hold her head up with pride.  It allows her a way to sweat, bleed, and get dirty.  Then step off the field, get cleaned up, and be a beautiful and proud strong woman!

4.       What advice would you give someone looking for a career in physical therapy?  

You have to have patience, and you have to be a social person.  Physical therapy can be confusing and scary for a patient, especially if they are hurting.  I have rarely had a patient able to do an exercise or stretch correctly the first time, even athletes.  Sometimes you might have to demonstrate several times and actually put patients in certain positions before they get it right. Sometimes they don’t ever get it right, and you have to be able to modify it for them. It’s not because they are being difficult, it’s because they are hurting or they just don’t understand.  If you get frustrated easily, this is not the career for you.

You also have to be able to keep a conversation going.  Many times, a patient is hurting so badly that they can only think about the pain.  If you can distract them with conversation, it not only takes their mind off the pain, but it also builds a connection with the patient that makes them feel comfortable with you and trust you.

Anyone considering a career in physical therapy should observe some physical therapists in several different settings including a hospital, a skilled nursing facility, and an outpatient clinic.  I think many people believe that physical therapists only work with athletes and everything is exciting and high level.  That is just not the case, so it is very important to see how each setting works.

In the end, it is one of the most rewarding jobs you can possibly have.  There is no greater feeling than seeing someone go from not being able to walk or perform everyday activities to them walking out of your clinic pain free after the last visit.

5.       I’m imagining that your patients who walk out pain free have an even greater feeling! On a more personal note, what’s something you like to do that might be considered nerdy, but is actually really fun?  

OMG!  I think Nerdy might be my middle name! I actually really enjoy going to physical therapy conferences and taking quizzes.  On my iPhone, I have a Board Exam prep app.  It asks physical therapy type questions to get you prepped to take your license exam.  It sounds really nerdy, but I think it keeps me sharp and up-to-date on the newest stuff out there in the PT world.  I really want to teach one day, so I feel like I need to stay sharp.  And it really is fun to see how much you remember!

I think a lot of our followers can relate to your enjoyment of conferences! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge here on Nerdy Chicks Rule.

To find out more about Dr. Jo, or to try out some of her exercises, check out her website HERE or her YouTube channel HERE. She is currently running a contest to celebrate her millionth visitor, so you could even win a fifty dollar Amazon gift card!

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“It is pretty fun being silly and goofy, and helping people along the way!” — Dr. Jo

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Chicks in the Kitchen

IMG_20140123_074626_425Did you know keeping a chicken in the kitchen is supposed to bring good luck? In some cultures a rooster in the kitchen window means “There’s health and prosperity here.” My grandmother kept a collection of ceramic chickens in her kitchen and  my mother has a small collection of them too. So when I saw these modernized versions  of traditional chickens, I had to pick them up. Who doesn’t want a little good luck?

These chickens in the kitchen gave us the idea for a new blog feature. Once a month we’re going to try to bring you a Kitchen Tips from Nerdy Chicks. You know, a favorite time-saving recipe or trick for the super-busy nerdy chick.  We’re not culinary experts, we’re just trying to make life easier for us… and you! So here is my Oh-My-Goodness-I-Have-No-Dinner-Plans fall-back recipe. This is very easy, I almost always have the ingredients on hand, and people think it is more complicated to concoct than it is. Also, I cannot tell you how many kids over the years have eaten this while at my house hanging out with my children, and not a single picky eater has ever turned it down. It takes almost no time to make, but you have to have about 45 minutes for it to bake, so plan a little ahead.

No-Fail Quiche All you need is: 6 Eggs 1 C milk 1 C grated cheese (just about any kind) 1 Pie Crust (You can make it without a crust if you grease the pan.) 1/2 tsp salt 1 C meat or vegetables (up to you what kind of quiche you want) 1 Dash pepper. Paprika works too. 3 T chopped onions (optional!) Then you just: 1. Beat eggs together with a spoon or wire whisk. 2. Add milk and continue to beat. 3. Stir in salt, pepper, and onions After that you: 1. Cover bottom of pie plate with cheese and vegetables/meat, then pour egg mixture over that. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes. Knife inserted should come out clean.

No-Fail Quiche

You only need:
6 Eggs
1 C milk
1 C grated cheese (just about any kind)
1 Pie Crust (You can make it without a crust if you grease the pan.)
1/2 tsp salt
1 C meat or vegetables (most anything works)
1 Dash pepper. Paprika works too.
3 T chopped onions (optional!)
Then you just:
1. Beat eggs together with a spoon or wire whisk.
2. Add milk and continue to beat.
3. Stir in salt, pepper, and onions.
After that you:
Cover bottom of pie plate with cheese and vegetables/meat, then pour egg mixture over that. Bake at 350 for 35 to 45 minutes. Knife inserted should come out clean.

For my favorite kind of quiche, I deviate from this recipe a bit. I fill the pie crust with broccoli, so it is more like two cups than one, and I include the onions. This will make a larger (and to me) more delicious quiche. But those picky eaters I was talking about… some of them would turn it down! And here’s a tip if you are really low on supplies: sandwich ham works for this, though I wouldn’t use a whole cup!

Final plug for this recipe: it freezes beautifully and is easy to heat up in the microwave. What kitchen tips make your life easier?

Happy Cooking!

A Winter Dream Tree Grows in Jersey

threetrees_blogOur living room Christmas decorations seemed extra twinkly this year with three trees. When I put them away, I missed the sparkle of little lights and the cheeriness of ornaments. The dark spot left by the put-away Christmas trees reminded me that last winter felt especially gloomy, both meteorlogically and emotionally. Normally, the inside warmth of my home during winter feels cozy and creative. But not last year, for some reason. So this year, to fend off any doldrums, I put up a Winter Dream Tree.

Barb's holiday tree and Polly's vision tree

Barb’s holiday tree and Polly’s vision tree

Inspired by artist Barbara Johansen Newman’s yearly holiday tree and artist Polly Law’s vision tree, I cut branches from a dead Japanese Andromeda shrub (I had mourned the loss of its life, so I was thrilled to find it a new life) and arranged them in a pitcher of stones.

visionboard_blog

My visions from 2011

At first I intended the tree to be a Vision Tree. How many of you have made a vision board—a device that sends your intentions out into the Universe to fulfill your desires like a magic genie whose bottle is decorated with ripped-out magazine pages and phrases and Modpodge? My vision board from a few years ago hasn’t kicked in yet—there is no yellow Mini Cooper in my driveway and I still haven’t been to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair. But the board still expresses my hopes and passions (are you listening, Universe?!).

Instead of pressuring my tree to be visionary, I decided to decorate it with whatever represented my inner spirit and I scoured the house for personal symbols, a.k.a. tchotchkes (my home is overrun with symbols). The decorating began: artist’s tools of the trade, family, animals, beads and keys (to the future), many clocks (time is ticking), things from Italy, jewelry bling, and a timid touch of Intentions to the Universe (writing and illustration projects). mylady_combo

Now my Winter Dream Tree is twinkling in the living room, brightening up winter’s days and my mood. I call my dog Oliver my happy pill because he constantly cheers me up. After a couple of winter weeks, I can truly say that my tree is working the same way. It probably won’t come down in spring but will just transform to reflect the new season. I’m getting so attached to the tree that it may even need to stick around and share the stage with next year’s Christmas tree.

fulltree_sunday

Anyone tempted to install a tree of your own? If so, I hope it brings you a Happy, Dreamy, Creative, and Visual New Year!

The Quotable Nerdy Civil Rights Activist

As we here in the United States celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day, we thought it would be nice to take a moment and celebrate the Civil Rights Movement, especially the many women who influenced it. The women we quote below were all leaders of the Civil Rights Movement; several were recipients  of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the NAACP’s Spingarn Medal. We hope you are as inspired by these quotes — and these women — as we are.

Source: The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

Source: The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

“Give light and people will find the way.”

-Ella Baker, Activist

“No man or woman who tries to pursue an ideal in his or her own way is without enemies.”

-Daisy Bates, Journalist

444px-Bethune42h“Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough.”

Mary Mcleod Bethune, Educator and Activist

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”

– Rosa Parks, Activist

Mary_church_terrell“Surely nowhere in the world do oppression and persecution based solely on the color of the skin appear more hateful and hideous than in the capital of the United States, because the chasm between the principles upon which this Government was founded, in which it still professes to believe, and those which are daily practiced under the protection of the flag, yawn so wide and deep.”

– Mary Church Terrell, founder of National Association of Colored Women

“Greatness is not measured by what a man or woman accomplishes, but by the opposition he or she has overcome to reach his goals.”

– Dorothy Height, former president of the National Council of Negro Women

377px-Fannie_Lou_Hamer_1964-08-22“Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.”

– Fannie Lou Hamer, organizer Mississippi Freedom Summer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)

Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”

— Coretta Scott King

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Audrey Hepburn

Audrey_Hepburn_black_and_whiteI always wanted to have Audrey Hepburn’s voice with its unique European lilt. Or those distinctive eyebrows. Or that elegant, impeccable style. Alas, the only quality I share with Ms. Hepburn is size 10 feet.

Audrey Hepburn (1929-1993) dreamed of becoming a prima ballerina, found herself in front of the camera as a model, and made her first Hollywood movie, Roman Holiday, in 1953. Not only did she get to rollick around Rome with the dreamy Gregory Peck, she earned an Academy Award. She went on to star in such memorable movies as Sabrina, Funny Face, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Charade, and My Fair Lady.

audrey-hepburn-1992-somalia---Unicef

1992—Audrey in Somalia

But Audrey felt her greatest role was as UNICEF International Goodwill Ambassador. Having lived through the German invasion of Holland during World War II, she knew real hunger and suffering. For five years, Ambassador Audrey traveled to over 20 countries witnessing innocent children struggling for survival.  Today the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund continues her work of bringing help and hope to the world’s children.

Audrey Hepburn Quotes:

• For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run his hands through it once a day. For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.

• People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw anyone out.

• Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands—one for helping yourself, and the other for helping others.

• The “Third World” is a term I don’t like very much, because we’re all one world. I want people to know that the largest part of humanity is suffering.

• Taking care of children has nothing to do with politics. I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics.

• Anyone who doesn’t believe in miracles is not a realist. I have seen the miracle of water which UNICEF has helped to make a reality.

You can read about Audrey Hepburn here and here.

Or watch this documentary about the iconic Hepburn style.

DDM coverIn case you missed it…

The winner of the DUCK DUCK MOOSE Giveaway was announced already! Click here to see who won.

Winner! Winner! Winner!

graphics-fireworks-655059We have reached the end of our week-long Moose Day Celebration.

Did you enter the MOOSE DAY Giveaway?

If you didn’t, I bet you regret it.

And if you did, you’re probably waiting with bated breath for the announcement of the winner.

I’m here to un-bate you. Because I’m just that kind of girl.

Just as a reminder, here is the lovely TRIPLE Prize:

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So, are you ready?

Really ready?

graphics-fireworks-399589graphics-fireworks-399589graphics-fireworks-399589graphics-fireworks-399589

OK, I won’t keep you waiting any longer….

The winner of the triple giveaway is:

@Loveofxena

CONGRATULATIONS!

Thanks to everyone for entering, celebrating, tweeting, posting, ducking and moosing…Mostly, thank you for helping me to welcome DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE into the world with all the love that I was hoping for. You’re the best!

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(and if you’re REALLY disappointed, get a copy of your own at IndieBound, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local independent bookseller!)