Category Archives: lists

Making the commute work for me.



Like many moms I drive a lot. At a minimum, I drive 40 minutes each way to and from work, and that is if I don’t have to take Newt anywhere. Add in a stop for her and I tack on another 20 to 40 minutes depending on the day and destination. In my world, where there is never enough time in the day to get everything done, this commute was just the ultimate of wasted time.

Until I made it work for me. I discovered Podcasts.

I’m probably late to the party, but I’m here now. I think for me, podcasts allow me to engage in my curiosity. To think about grown up things again (that aren’t work related). To lose myself for 40 minutes or so. You know- what I used to do when I had time to read a book. I found myself actually looking forward to driving again. And traffic jam? No problem, I may actually be able to finish this podcast before I get home. So, in no particular order, some of the podcasts that I have enjoyed listening to:

Grown-up Time Podcasts

  1. Serial– Ok, this one is pretty obvious, but it is the reason I even bothered to explore what that mysterious pre-loaded podcast app on my phone had to offer.  I heard about this podcast EVERYWHERE and I wanted to know what it was all about. In what is arguably the most well known podcast to date, Serial began as a spin off from This American Life. It has only had one 12 episode season so far, but is already confirmed for 2 more seasons. Serial is amazing. Just really engrossing, sometimes maddening story telling about a real murder and a possible miscarriage of justice. After I finished those 12 episodes, I have listened to another podcast, Undisclosed, which uncovers even more information about the case, but from a more biased point of view.
  2. Invisibilia– This one is all about the invisible forces that control human behavior- ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Well done and very interesting. My favorite episode was Fearless- which explores the function of fear and sometimes dysfunction of fear. For a super anxious person like me, this made perfect sense.
  3. Stuff You Should Know– I love this one because I feel like I am learning something and there are so many episodes to choose from about a variety of topics.  Some of these episodes are only 5 minutes long, some 40 minutes or more. Some of my favorites: How Albert Einstein’s Brain Worked, What happened to the lost colony at Roanoke, How Ouija boards work, and What’s the deal with Rasputin’s Death.
  4. Really anything from How Stuff Works– Stuff You Should Know is one of the podcasts from How Stuff Works. Other podcasts are: Stuff You Missed in History Class– discussing history, Stuff Mom Never Told You– discussion of issues relating to women, Stuff to Blow Your Mind– just anything and everything, Brain Stuff– science behind how stuff works, and Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know– fun times for conspiracy theorists. What’s great about all of these are that so many different topics are discussed you will always be able to find something of interest.
  5. Lore From the time I was a youngun, I have always loved a good spooky story. Each episode focuses on a different folklore or scary tale and explores the “truth” behind the lore.
  6. The Black Tapes Podcast–  The official site for this podcast describes the series as follows, “The Black Tapes Podcast is a serialized docudrama about one journalist’s search for truth, her enigmatic subject’s mysterious past, and the literal and figurative ghosts that haunt them both.” For me- another place to explore some good scary stories- at least during my day time drives. This is not one I listen to after dark!
  7. The X-Files Files Ok, so this one is a little more niche, but I still love the X-Files after all these years. Each podcast discusses a specific episode from the series. But it is funny and smart and hosted by Kumail Nanjiani, who plays my favorite character from HBO’s Silicon Valley! One of my favorite parts of the show is when he goes back and reads posts from message boards from the week the episode first aired.
  8. You Must Remember This–  This is about the “secret and/or forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.” I found I don’t even have to be familiar with the film or star discussed in an episode to be transfixed. Featuring some dramatizations, film clips and awesome music, this podcast is perfect for this pop cultured obsessed mommy.

Don’t Forget The Kids

It didn’t take me long to realize that there are some really great options for listening when Newt is in the car with me. If given the choice between listening to a podcast or listening to music, my kid often picks the podcast, and my kid loves music!

  1. Stuff You Should Know– Yup. This is the same one I mentioned in the grown up section. With offerings like, Scooby Dooby Doo, Where are You?, Oh No, Snakes!, and Why does toothpaste make orange juice taste bad, it also presents an opportunity for the kiddo to learn something as well. Though it is not geared towards children and many subjects are probably not appropriate, the podcast is not crude and does not have bad language. Some of the scientific concepts probably go over Newt’s 5 year old head, but she understands enough of it to be engaged.
  2. Audio Books For Children– Developed by Templeton Institute for Neurology, “Enhance your child brain imagination ability by focusing on auditory stimulation through audio books specifically developed by our neurologists at Templeton Institute for Neurology. These stories are written by cultures all over the world, refined over many generations of story telling. They are amazing adventures with powerful values and invaluable lessons.” The best are tales from 1001 Nights and from the Myths of the World entries.
  3. Grimm’s Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm The classic tales available to hear in the car. Great narration. Some stories are 4 minutes long and some are over 20. Loyal Books has many many classic tales available for free in audiobook or e-book form. Not just stuff for kids, classic novels too.
  4. Barefoot Books Podcast I have a couple of these gorgeous books with classic stories so when I saw the podcast I had to listen. I was not disappointed. Very good story telling and some songs, too. Even younger children would enjoy these tales. I noticed that they have not added more content since 2013, but there are plenty of things to enjoy.

8 Tips to Get Your Kids Talking


Relationships with others are important- the backbone of society. A child’s relationship with his or her parents sets the stage for the types of relationships they will have in the future. Communication is the foundation of a successful relationship. Therefore the communication between a child and his or her parents is important. Here are some tips to get the communication going!

  1. Use open-ended questions rather than close-ended when you want a conversation. Closed- ended questions are questions that can be answered with only a word or two. The question is specific so the answer will be specific. Open ended questions allow the person to answer in any way they would like and usually with more descriptions. Consider how different the responses would be in the following 2 questions- Did you have a good day in school today? (Closed-ended). Or- What did you do in school today? (Open-ended).
  2. Use close-ended questions when you are trying to make a decision with your child. I think it’s important to find ways to empower children and allow them to feel some control over their lives. That said, there are usually limits that we have to place on choices. For these situations, give the child several options to choose from. Consider what your child would say if you asked, “What do you want to do this weekend?” If your kid is like mine- the answer would be, “Disney World!!” Instead, try a close-ended question such as, “Would you like to go to the movies or bowling this weekend?”
  3. Avoid asking “why”. For some reason- the word “why” tends to make some kids feel on guard. An alternative that works better is to say, “How come?”
  4. My favorite phrase is “Tell me about….” Gone are the days when your little one proudly shows you their masterpiece and you can see them actually deflate when you ask, “What is it?” Instead just ask them to tell you about their beautiful artwork. That is just one application. “Tell me about…” is such a useful tool for encouraging communication. Those 3 little words are actually conveying that you want to know about them. It is permission to talk openly. This phrase works on everyone from little ones to tweens, teens and even adults.
  5. Make time to talk. Everyone is busy. There is never enough time to get everything done- much less to find time to talk with our kids or partner about anything of substance. There are a few times; however, when making time to talk is a little easier: dinner time and time in the car. Even if it is just a few times a week- eat dinner together and have good, deep conversation. Turn down the radio in the car and talk. (Tips for meaningful talk later.) The 2 places I tend to talk with my kiddo are in the car and at night when I am putting her in bed.
  6. Be respectful of when your kids don’t want to talk. Just like you, they have moods and times when they are not going to talk. Respect that. And let them know that you are there when and if they want to talk.
  7. Be patient. If verbal communication is not something that comes easily in your family, think of this as learning a new skill. And learning a new skill requires practice. Keep at it.
  8. Make it fun and interesting. Most of the conversations in families are very goal oriented. And by goal oriented, I mean- the goal is just to get through the day in one piece. Get to know more about the people that live under the same roof as you. Get to know what and how they think and feel. Let them know about you too. To help with this, click on the “conversation starters” link below to download a pdf that you can print and cut out into cards. At least once or twice a week, have your family talk about whatever is on a card. Everyone answers. There are 3 blank cards too, so come up with some questions of your own. When you do sit down to talk about the topic, make sure to leave whatever stress or frustration you are having behind and focus on what everyone is saying.

Conversation Starters

5 Parenting Faux Pas I do Anyway


1) I play chase with Q before bed

People say if you want your child to go to sleep easily, you should not encourage hyperactivity in the hours pending bedtime. In my world, Q falls asleep around 8pm each evening. On a good day, I am home from work around 6pm, which means I have 1.5 hours before his bedtime routine begins. Q smiles and laughs when he sees me and after five minutes of being home he starts running around (usually at me or away from me, beginning the game of cat and mouse).

If he wants me to run around the living room with him, then that’s exactly what I am going to do. That’s our quality time. All electronics are off. We are laughing together. To me, this is exactly what I should be doing before bedtime.

2) I laugh when Q breaks the rules

No, I don’t want to encourage bad behavior. But I’m only human…and my son is funny! For the most part, it’s Q trying to play his dad’s guitar. He makes eye contact, a smile grows across his sweet face and he touches the strings gently. I attempt to hide my laugh, and Q giggles at himself as runs away. Smart boy.

3) I’m the picky one when it comes to food

I don’t believe there is anything wrong with deciding what a child will eat (Q is currently being raised pescatarian), but I may take it to an extreme. I hand-make his food, organize it into little containers daily, and write instructions for the loving people who take care of Q while my husband and I work. So far, so good. But I am well aware that I may panic if he gets off schedule. BREATHE, I tell myself.

4) He’s better dressed

My husband told me last weekend that it’s like Q is my own baby doll that I enjoy dressing. Umm, have you SEEN baby outfits lately? They’re adorable! The problem with this is that I spend significantly less time planning my outfit for the day than I do Q’s.

5) I Google things.

Google is a wonderful, but dangerous thing. I don’t Google all the time, and I discourage my clients from doing it at all. I need to know all about vaccines? Google. Is he sleeping enough? Google. Is this postpartum or my new normal? Google. Am I doing this right? Is there a better way? Google. I can’t believe I am admitting this, but I have even Googled images of diaper rash (I am a therapist with a focus on childhood trauma. I was terrified it was something else!)

I have a love/hate relationship with Google. I put enough pressure on myself to do it all and do it well, and Google does not help that. But I do it anyway.

And it’s okay if you do it, too.