Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gratitude for 2009

Well, it's almost time to say goodbye to 2009. It seems like just a couple of months ago that I was sitting down with my journal and writing down my intentions for this year and here we are, almost done.

I love this time of the year. I love the energy that is almost palpable, as people all around the world, pause to take a look at what the last year has brought to them and for them. I love to revisit my dreams and see what came to pass, what didn't and the surprises in between. I am always amazed about how many wishes manifested in ways that I could have never imagined: amazing people I've met, learning opportunities encountered and the chances to strengthen my personal faith.

One of my favorite things to do is make a list of what I am grateful to from the perspective of the passing year. It sets the tone for how I want to begin the year because I believe very strongly, that gratitude is the prelude to dreams coming true in many ways I can't even understand.

So, here is my list of 15 reasons for abiding gratitude in 2009:

1. My health and that of many of the people I love dearly.

2. The fact that I still get to talk to my parents, even if far away.

3. The support of my amazing husband who doesn't understand my journey half of the time, yet encourages me just the same.

4. The never ending learning in the laboratory of life that I get to have by consciously parenting the  incredible little soul that is our 8 year old daughter!

5. Our new home. A blessing in ways I can't even comprehend.

6. The power of the love and undying support from my friends, my tribe, my peeps.

7. The opportunity to live my life's passion through my work as a parent coach and educator

8. The traveling I got to do this year, connecting with very special family and friends.

9. The trust of so many people that believed that there was a place for The Soulful Parent in this world. 

10. The fact that I not only have access to so many great books, but that I have the ability to read them and learn from them.

11. The convenience of a tool I love for entertaining, educating and relaxing: my trusty i Pod (thank you honey!)

12. The deep reconnection with my dog and my understanding that he's part of the "bigger" plan in my life.

13. The fact that regardless of how you feel about politics, I love living in a country where I don't have to worry about my family finding my body in a ditch because I disagreed with somebody.

14. The daily gifts of birds in my backyard, squirrels on the trees, stars bright as diamonds now that we live a little bit farther away from "civilization"

15. The absolutely humbling fact that there's someone out there other than me, that is reading this!

What are you grateful to 2009 for?

Here's to a successful, abundant, expanding 2010!

Sandra Huber-CEO
Chief Encouraging Officer
The Soulful Parent

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is your child a quitter?

I know. I personally don't believe it is a good idea to label our children because once we do, we act from that place and our expectations become locked into that label.

I have wondered in the last couple of years, when we have gone from trying Tae-Kwon-Do, ballet, cheer leading, pottery, swimming and piano lessons, if my 8 year-old simply is not able to stick with one activity.

Our last "struggle" came after a week of not practicing the piano because of Christmas. My husband decided our daughter needed to resume her daily practice of 20 minutes to honor her agreement to keep up her skills. I tell you, it would have been easier to extract a tooth from an alligator than it was to convince her of the value of keeping up the practice. She sat in front of the piano, in complete defeat, crying that she didn't know how to "do it". The first thing that went through my mind (and I am glad it stayed there!) was how much I wanted to scream that she was being an ungrateful, little stinker. My husband, with his infinite patience took over immediately once I gave him "the look". He knows that look means "I am done with YOUR child: you need to take over". She continued to whine and protest and eventually did start playing and did an excellent job.

For the next two days we had the same situation: power struggles every single day. After a call to my good friend Susan, I realized that even though this was a great opportunity for our daughter, it was important for me to "let go" of my need for her to appreciate it and to enjoy it. The fact remained, I couldn't make her do it and I wasn't willing to fight about it every single day.

On the way to her piano lessons, I calmly told her she only needed to finish her lessons until the end of January and after that she was free to quit. I told her that as an 8 year old she gets to make some choices and this was one of them: if she didn't want to do piano anymore, I wasn't going to force her.
No sooner had I finish saying that last sentence, when I hear from the back of the car: I AM NOT QUITING! You can't make me quit. I will continue to do my piano lessons because I like them. I don't want to quit. And that's final!

Parenting is an adventure: Most of the time I can appreciate that no matter how many books I've read, how many degrees I have and how many classes I teach/take, there's no substitute for the "hands-on" experience my 8 year-old offers me everyday! You never know how anything you do is truly going to turn out. She's establishing her independence while I am establishing a nice set of gray hair.
How have you taken the "struggle" out of your power struggles? Do you have any stories to share? I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Wishing you the best Holiday Season yet!

As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to to the same~~ Marianne Williamson

I want to wish you the best Holiday Season and may your light shine brightly now and all year round!
It's said that even a lone blooming flower, (for example a poinsettia since 'tis the season) uplifts the world. Just imagine how each one of you with the humongous task of raising amazing children uplifts the world. Shining your light at home and in the hearts of those you love!

Let's celebrate. Let's shine!


Sandra Huber-CEO
Chief Encouraging Officer
The Soulful Parent

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What our kids can teach us about the power of forgiveness!

It is hard to tell what our kids know and understand about forgiveness. We ask them to say "I am sorry" to their friends if they hurt them, even if they obviously don't mean it. We show them by example by coming back and apologizing if we don't handle their behavior in the kind and respectful manner we intend to.
Yet, I still wonder what my own child understands about the power of forgiveness.

Marissa: I remember that "Cindy" (her very best friend in the world) made fun of me in front of everybody 3 years ago when we were in Kindergarten

Me: Hmmmm.. you have really good memory. Are you still mad at her for what she did in Kindergarten?

Marissa: Noooo..(now with an annoyed look on her face) I was just telling you a story about my friend Cindy.

Me: But I have heard that story a few times now and I wonder if you have forgiven Cindy for acting like that when you were in Kindergarten.

Marissa: Moooom... of course I have forgiven Cindy.. She's my best friend!

Me: How do you know you have forgiven Cindy?

Marissa: Because when I think of what happened, I remember it in my head not in my heart!

That's the power of true forgiveness as I learned it from an 8 year old. What lessons have you learned about forgiveness??

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Opposites are Necessary!

I don't know about you but I sometimes wonder how to best teach our daughter the qualities we want her to grow into. I came across this poem and felt the reassurance that where she's at at every stage of her development is part of the process and therefore, OK. I can learn to love all aspects of her as I discover the whole of who she's becoming!

If you want your children to be generous

you must first allow them to be selfish

If you want them to be disciplined.

you must first allow them to be spontaneous.

If you want them to be hard-working,

You must first allow them to be lazy.

This is a subtle distinction,

and hard to explain to those who criticize you.

A quality cannot be fully learned

without understanding its opposite

(from The Parent's Tao Te Ching by William Martin)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to use your energy wisely during the holidays

The older I get the more I realize that my energy really is a form of currency, the same way money is currency: we don't usually have unlimited supplies of either one, especially if we are moms of young children!

So, what does it mean to use our energy resources wisely? If I use the analogy of currency and the use of a bank account, it's clear that we are expected to write checks and use the ATM only if we have put money in the account. Otherwise, we ran intro trouble, right? Many times we are tempted to run on "empty", to go on the red, taking out more than we put in! As moms, we tend to push ourselves, go-go-go and end up feeling depleted. We find ourselves "bouncing" our energy checks!

During the Holiday Season, it seems easier to forget to take a minute, breathe and remember the great opportunity before us for connection and meaning, without overdoing it.

Here are 3 simple ways I have found to help us practice good "energy management":

  1. Practice being comfortable with saying NO more than you say yes, especially for socially events that are not meaningful. If you are doing something out of obligation, scratch it off your list.
  2. Make sure to surround yourself with people who share their vitality and passion for life. Watch out for energy vampires and other unhealthy people who ride the “take, take, take” train!
  3. Nurture yourself in mind, body and spirit: taking good care of yourself will insure you have energy to give to others: get enough sleep, eat healthy foods and limit those calorie-filled, tempting desserts and drinks.

As a mom of a very active 8 year-old, I am aware that these ideas are simple yet not always easy to implement. My suggestion to all of us: baby steps. What a great opportunity to start a new tradition this Holiday Season: taking care of you!

As we approach one of the busiest times of the year for many of us, please take a moment to remember (and practice) The Soulful Parent #1 Manifesto Rule for this time and every time of the year: You can't give from an empty cup!!

Wishing you endless moments of awe and joy! 

Sandra Huber CEO- The Soulful Parent

Chief Encouraging Officer

P.S.: Stay tuned for more details on our FREE teleseminar in January offering you a great opportunity to set your  parenting goals and intentions for 2010!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Have a happy holiday with stress-less tips by Ellen Delap, CPO

To Do... Or Don’t? We all have a full schedule heading into the holidays.  Host a family meeting to decide on the holiday traditions which are most meaningful. Have each member voice their personal favorite.  Combine this list and write it in on a month at a glance calendar. Seeing conflicts on dates or other tasks? Right away decide which is going to take priority and eliminate what won’t work. Post this calendar where your family can see it each day.  Meet weekly during the holiday season to update and keep your kids and spouse up to date. 

Save the Date.
Planning a holiday gathering for family or friends? There are few Friday and Saturday nights in December. Send a quick e-mail to friends, and follow up later with real invitations or by or  Perhaps a Sunday afternoon is an alternative party time?   Start a family tradition with your extended family meeting on the same weekend each year, but not the holiday itself.  Many families enjoy the opportunity of spending Christmas Eve or day on their own.  

Share the fun.  It is more fun to share the holiday experience in sharing the holiday operations.  Create family partnerships with mom/daughter baking, dad/daughter outside light installation, all kids gift wrapping together or any combination of family members with assigned jobs to get tasks accomplished.  Projects are completed with more fun and less stress. 
Collate a Holiday Notebook.
Choose a notebook with holiday theme color, add tabbed dividers with labels for:

  • recipes you make each year
  • gift lists and catalog pages of gift ideas
  • a pocket for receipts
  • printouts of online orders
  • holiday card address list

and perhaps some pictures of each room fully decorated (so you know what goes where each year.)
Now all your holiday ideas and more are together!

Delap” Family Inexpensive Holiday traditions: 

  • Tour your neighborhood after dark and look at the lights
  • Drive through the downtown of your cit and look at the lights
  • Have a puzzle set up on a table throughout the season
  • Make holiday cookies as a family and decorate
  • Read holiday stories, Frosty the Snowman or Polar Express
  • Watch White Christmas, National Lampoon Christmas Vacation, or the TBS or Hallmark channels with all the holiday movies 

Happy organizing and Happy holidays!


Making a difference for others has always been important to Ellen Delap. Ellen has worked in a major volunteer capacity organizing efforts for two charities, Mothers Against Cancer, a fundraising effort for children’s cancer research funds for Texas Children’s Hospital, and Kingwood Women’s Club, a philanthropic women’s group working in the Northeast area of Houston, Texas. Ellen’s passion for organizing, as well as her desire to assist and empower others, led her to create ( in 2000. In May 2007 Ellen earned the highly esteemed and lite title of Certified Professional Organizer (CPO®) through the Board of Certification for Professional Organizers. Ellen has trained with Coach Approach for Professional Organizers™ and is a Certified Family Manager Coach™.

Working along side her clients, Ellen encourages and teaches her clients simple systems and routines leading to personal organizing solutions for home, school, work and life


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Potty Training in December by Brenda Nixon M.A.

December is a crazy month with holiday shopping, parties, visiting relatives, long days, and extra events. Although it’d be nice to have your toddler out of those expensive diapers, December is also a dangerous time to start potty training.
As I travel the country speaking to parents – and childcare providers – I’m often asked about potty training, which I prefer to call toilet teaching. We don't “train” kids like they're seals balancing a ball on their nose. Anyhow, that's just a personal peeve of mine. But they do learn, and boy, are kids fast learners!

If you feel your tot is ready to learn, you may ask “Why not now, Brenda?” Well, first, young children are extremely perceptive. They sense your angst, stress, busyness and crowded schedule. They know when you're uptight and frazzled. With immature skills to express feelings verbally, they act out their awareness of stress. Acting out takes the form of regressive behaviors like sucking the thumb, whining, or infantile behaviors or they become more aggressive through increased tantrums or defiance. If your holidays are crazed like most of us, this isn’t the time to ask your tot to learn a new, complicated skill. Plus it’ll pile more frustration on your plate if you have to take time out to clean up poopy clothes and accidents, or stand in the bathroom waiting on your child to "do something."
Second, children learn to use the potty better when their life – and schedule – is comfortably predictable. Choose a time when your family is most relaxed or you're back to "normal" routine. Some parents skip over Christmas and begin toilet teaching in January or February, thereby avoiding the seasonal excitement.
Your little one must exhibit the signs of readiness so don't jump in too soon. In The Birth to Five Book, p. 94, I reveal some of the signs that your tyke is ready for toilet learning. Space prohibits me from going into detail here. In the book I share, “Somewhere between two and three years of age, most children add toilet learning to their list of achievements. About 82 percent have mastered it by age three. But it is not solely a calendar issue; it is a readiness-to-learn issue.” Remember, that birth order, temperament, gender, parenting style, and even the season all play a role in your child's readiness.

When Sandra asked me to guest blog about toilet teaching, she asked me to share, “What NOT to do.” My number one recommendation – once you've determined your child is ready and you're committed to teaching – is NEVER ask, “You want to go potty?” Dah! Most self-respecting toddlers would rather not interrupt their agenda to sit on that new contraption. You'll most likely hear, “No.” Simply make the statement, “It's time to sit on the potty.”
For toilet teaching success, I encourage you to keep your expectations realistic. For example, expect your tot to sit on the pot, jump up, and say, “I’m done” without producing. At least he/she tried to cooperate. It's better that he/she gets familiar with it by frequent usage. Your goal – besides getting ‘em out of diapers – is to help your child feel safe and comfortable using the potty. Also, expect accidents for a while. As smart as your child is, it takes a while to adjust to the new behavior and routine. And finally, expect daytime success before nighttime achievement. Most tots can understand and cooperate with your teaching during the day but, when they're in deep slumber overnight and their little internal muscles are relaxed, they'll probably eliminate. It's not a will power issue but, a biologic one.

When my children were toddlers I was eager to end the wet and smelly messes, clothing changes, and cost. But I reminded myself that from their point of view, I was communicating a foreign set of behaviors. I tried to be positive and patient once I committed to the task. Likewise, I encourage you to keep in mind your role as “teacher.” Be instructive, understanding, patient, and persistent. Eventually, your child will be out of diapers – probably by next Christmas – and you'll have stories to tell others.

As the former Kansas City FOX TV4 parenting expert, Brenda Nixon ( is the author of the award-winning The Birth to Five Book available at Amazon and bookstores. Recently quoted in Parenting and Good Housekeeping magazines, she is a frequent media guest expert and speaker to parents and childcare professionals. From schools to synagogues, businesses to bookstores, conferences to churches, audiences rave that Brenda "engages, educates, and encourages!" Brenda is also co-author on A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, and a freelance writer for family publications. In September, Brenda was named "Mom of the Week" by Lifetime Entertainment. She lives in Ohio with her husband and near her two young adult daughters and son. Brenda's internet radio program, The Parent's Plate, debuts January 2010 on
Brenda Nixon, M.A., Building stronger families through parent empowerment