The Music Mom: Eileen Carey

One of my favorite seasons is finally upon us. Autumn is when the days get shorter and the weather turns cooler. I always consider the fall a time of reflection, as it often represents the sharpest contrast between seasons. Much like life, things change drastically during the fall.

In addition to the sound of rain falling on your windows, there are some other sounds that you will definitely find appealing. This mysteriously moody season has inspired songwriters to write some of my favorite tunes. Below are 7 songs as brilliant as the autumn leaves. Which one is your favorite?

Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”

Van Morrison – “Golden Autumn”

Moody Blues – “Forever Autumn”

Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong – “Autumn in New York”

Willie Nelson – “September Song”

Earth, Wind and Fire – “September”

The Kinks – “Autumn Almanac”

 

Have you ever wondered why some people are healthy eaters and others are not? Research shows that the eating habits we have as adults are typically established when we are children. This is incredibly important information, as it lends a special gravity to how and what we feed our kids.

Although there is plenty of focus on kids’ nutrition (including obesity prevention programs, healthy school lunches, and nutrition education), research consistently reveals that a child’s home environment is, in the end, their biggest food influence.

So where should parents turn for the right answers regarding their children’s eating habits? While that might seem like a complicated question, the good news is that all families – including yours – can develop healthy eating habits that are sure to guarantee good health and a lifetime of happiness.

To prove this point, I’ve compiled 5 healthy habits that your family can start following today. It won’t take long for you to notice drastic changes in your mental and physical health and well-being.

Habit #1: Eat together often.

While it’s all too common for individual members of families to eat separate meals, healthy families eat together as often possible. Need an incentive to gather around the table as a family? A 2011 report published in Pediatrics found that families that shared three or more meals per week were 12% less likely to be overweight, 20% less likely to eat unhealthy foods, and 35% less likely to have disordered eating.

Habit #2: Make mealtime an overall pleasant experience.

Mealtime in the homes of healthy families looks and sounds different. Absent are the patience-testing battles between parent and child. The adults serve meals family style, often with individual members passing plates. Mealtime in a healthy family’s house is a sacred time during which members take turns talking and listening to each other. It is a form of communion in which conversation and a genuine interest in each other are prevalent. 

Habit #3: Eat a wide variety of food. 

Ever feel like you and your family are stuck in the rut of eating the same old food every day? Well, healthy families meet all their nutritional needs by cooking a wide variety of food. Main meals typically have 3-5 food groups and snacks have 2-3. Processed food is typically replaced by real food options such as fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Sweet treats are usually enjoyed without guilt because they are rarely consumed. 

Habit #4: Eat with intention. 

Healthy families avoid mindless eating. This means that they avoid random snacking while watching TV or spending time on the computer. They eat with intention. They plan their meals and gather around the table as often as possible. Attention is paid to the messages their bodies send them. When they are full, they stop eating. This prevents the type of overeating seen in unhealthy families. 

Habit #5: Avoid diets and negative body talk. 

You might think that healthy families live sullen lives of denial and sacrifice. The reality is that healthy families don’t diet, restrict their food intake, or think negatively of their body. Weight is never a focus. Rather, good health, self-care, and a high quality of life are emphasized by parents and children alike. Because they care about the holistic health of their children, parents guide their young people towards a skepticism of the type of idealized body shapes seen in Hollywood and social media. 

Which of these habits are you already doing and which ones do you need to work on? Feel free to share your successes and your challenges in the comments section. 

We are only two weeks away from the second annual Family Health Festival at Kidd Park, taking place on Saturday, September 30 in Long Beach, CA. I am so incredibly excited to be a part of this fun celebration of family and health.

In anticipation of what is sure to be an exciting event, I’ve compiled a list of 7 calorie-burning activities for your entire family. In addition to being fun and easy to facilitate, each activity encourages the type of interaction that will strengthen the bond between you and your family. 

1. Go for post-dinner walks.

Building a walk into your daily schedule guarantees that it won’t get put off. You really don’t have to travel far. A simple walk around the block is enough to burn some of the calories from your dinner. This early evening stroll will also give you plenty of time to talk with your favorite people. 

2. Boogie down as you crank up the music.

One of our favorite family activities is to move our furniture to the side of the room, hook up the CD or record player with upbeat dance tunes, and let everyone do their thing. It’s amazing how much joy a little song and dance can bring. 

3. Turn household chores into a game.

Here’s one example of the type of game you can create from a simple household chore: Pretend that dust creatures are invading our dear planet and it is up to Captain [insert child’s name] to save the day by capturing them with his broom. This goes to show you how far a little creativity will go – especially when convincing your young ones to help clean up.

4. Exercise for charity.

Teaming up with your children for a fund-raising race allows you to model good health and the fine art of giving back to society. The best part is that it doesn’t really matter what you do. You can walk, or you can run. With this option, the actual physical activity you do matters less than the cause. 

5. Put your kids to work in the yard.

Autumn offers the perfect opportunity to play catch – if you think outside the box. Fetch your kids after the falling leaves, and you will see them having more fun than you thought possible. You can make it competitive by seeing who can catch the most yellow, orange, or red leaves. Next, tell your kids to rake them into piles and have fun jumping in them. This never gets old. 

6. Grow your kids into gardeners.

Kids are experts at digging up dirt (and, as we know, wearing it on their clothes), so let them turn over the soil and help you grow something new. Recent research reveals that gardening is as good as weight training, so there’s an immediate health benefit. Another benefit is that if you’re planting vegetables, your children will likely be more connected to the veggies. Why does this matter? Well, it should make them much more likely to actually eat their greens. 

7. Walk the dog.

It should come as no surprise that recent research from the North American Association on the Study of Obesity shows that dog owners had more fun losing weight and were able to keep it off longer than those who are not dog owners. Those of us who have a pooch can attest to the fact that our canine friends are always ready and willing to join us, should we hit the open road for a walk around the neighborhood. 

What are some of your favorite healthy family activities? Add them to the comments below. 

Everyone who knows me knows that I am all about a healthy lifestyle. That’s one reason why I’m so excited to be headlining the second annual Family Health Festival at Kidd Park on September 30 in Long Beach, CA. I can’t wait to help celebrate healthy living and family fun.

One of the most important elements of a healthy lifestyle is breakfast. It can make or break the rest of your day. The question of what makes a healthy breakfast is one I consistently get from friends and family.

While it depends on what your morning routine looks like, I think it’s safe to assume that for most of us parents, mornings are typically quite the whirlwind. Things are crazy, and sometimes it’s much too easy to dump some sugary goodness badness into our kids’ bowls. This might be convenient, but it’s not the way we want to fuel our kids’ engines as they start their day.

In addition to the inevitable comedown from their sugar high they’ll feel just a few short hours later, tons of research tells us that ingesting too much sugar as a child is a recipe for future disaster. That is the exact opposite of what we want for our loved ones, so it is well worth it to find healthy alternatives to the overly sweet and salty cereals and “fruit” bars that have unfortunately become the breakfast norm. 

On that note, below are 5 of my all-time favorite breakfast meals. They are easy to make, delicious, and good for you and your entire family. Enjoy! 

Gorgeous granola

There are three reasons why I love granola as a breakfast treat. First, there are seemingly endless combinations for us to explore. This is probably why it’s nearly impossible to get tired of the stuff. Second, homemade granola tastes infinitely better than the stuff you buy from a store. The freshness makes all the difference in the world. Finally, homemade granola is so much cheaper than store-bought granola. Dive into the world of granola and you’ll be happy with what you discover.

Perfectly planned porridge 

If you want to fuel up in the morning, oatmeal is a great way to do it. It’s high in whole-grain fiber and protein and low in calories. Oatmeal is a type of porridge, and the two terms are often used interchangeably, but not all porridge is made from oats. A porridge is a hot cereal that can be made from a variety of grains and vegetables. It’s typically boiled in water or milk until it is nice and mushy. Best of all, it is absolutely delicious. 

Exceptionally excellent eggs

Eggs are a tried and true favorite. The best part is that when scrambled, they can pretty much be paired with anything. Some of my faves are tomatoes, feta cheese, broccoli, and pesto. You and your kids will love bringing something new to an old and reliable breakfast classic. 

Beautiful banana bread

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There is something so incredibly comforting about the smell of baked banana bread. And then once you get the warm bread in your hand? Forget about it. This is easily one of my favorite breakfast items. If you prepare the ingredients the night before, it really doesn’t take long to make.   

Yummy yogurt and grapes or berries

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This sweet treat is healthy and ridiculously easy to make. Pretty much any fruit you have in your kitchen will go well with yogurt. The sweetness, meaty flesh, and softness of the fruit contrast perfectly with the crunchy granola. I can’t get enough of it. In fact, our entire family is addicted!

What are some of your favorite breakfast meals? I’d love to hear more ideas as we continue pursuing a healthy and happy lifestyle. 

Hello, friends! I have some news that I’ve been itching to share with you. I am super excited to be headlining the second annual Family Health Festival At Kidd Park, happening on Sept. 30 (2:30 PM) in Long Beach, CA. Consider this post an official invite. 

In anticipation of the big event, I’ll spend the next few weeks posting a bunch about health, fitness, fun, family, and music. ALL of those things are so incredibly important to me, so this is going to be a really exciting time for me. 

Oh, and more thing: if you’ve yet to follow me on Facebook, check out my official Facebook page. I’ll be spreading the word about the details of the Family Health Festival. Plus, I’m always sharing interesting articles, posts, and other tidbits of information that I hope you’ll find helpful, so drop by and give me a “like.” 

Thanks for all your continued support!

Eileen

Have you ever gotten chills from an exceptionally emotional song? Some new research suggests that it might be you – and not the music you’re listening to – that helps create these good vibes. Called frisson, a French word meaning “aesthetic chills,” these seemingly random sensations are completely natural, but not everyone is fortunate enough to experience them.

Better yet, there’s also a good chance you might be more emotionally intelligent than someone who doesn’t get these musically-induced goosebumps. An intriguing new study suggested that those of us who get goosebumps from listening to music just might be a little bit extraordinary:

The findings have come from University of Southern California PhD student Matthew Sachs, whose paper on the subject – ‘Brain connectivity reflects human aesthetic responses to music’ – has been published in the Oxford Academic. Sachs argues that those who get goosebumps when listening to music have structural differences in the brain, with those individuals possessing “a higher volume of fibers that connects their auditory cortex to the areas associated with emotional processing, which means the two areas communicate better.”

In other words, if you’re the type of music listener who gets chills while listening to a particularly nostalgic song or an exceptionally moving part of a song (think the epic rising tide of sound at the end of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” or the inspired sax solo in Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland”), you are very likely tuned into your emotions in a way that others are not.

Now that I know the source of these chills, I’m off to a find some music that will get me some new ones. Call it a mission to free my frisson!

 

 

Neo-Nazis and the KKK are marching in our streets. North Korea just detonated a nuclear bomb that they claim is small enough to attach to a missile. Houston is still under water from Hurricane Harvey, while Los Angeles is hot as hades due to its largest ever wildfire. If ever there was a time for finding your place of perfect peace, now is it.

I know quite well where I find my place of perfect peace. Give me a guitar, a notebook, and just a little bit of room, and I’ll dive right in to my personal refuge. It is here that I make sense of the world, even as it seems to spiral deeper and deeper into an illogical and fearful mess.

Music is, as it has always been for me, a sanctuary, a safe space from all the troubles of the world. Whether I’m listening to it or creating it, music is my absolute favorite hiding place. The peace that comes from discovering hidden melodies and writing expressive new lyrics is not everlasting, but it’s darn close. Tapping into my creativity is a surefire way to temporarily look beyond all that is ailing our world.

When I can’t write my own music, nothing can top the comfort I feel from listening to The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, and the rest of my all time faves. They inspire in me the type of emotions that reignite my faith in humanity, all the while providing assurance that everything will, in the end, be okay. I can’t imagine life without these saints of sonic sanctuary. 

What is your place of perfect peace? To where do you run when you seek shelter from today’s craziness? Share in the comments section the things that provide you refuge. 

The devastation from Hurricane Harvey has had me thinking about the countless obstacles our friends and family members in Texas are facing. It has also forced me to think of the many ways by which we overcome such obstacles. Music is often the answer, as it has an uncanny knack for lifting us up when things are at their worst. 

Whether it’s the complete destruction caused by a hurricane, the conflict of racism, or the countless personal struggles we must all endure, songs of survival inspire us to persevere. Here’s a playlist for when you need to fight through your own struggles. I hope these songs help you endure. 

1. “Lean on Me” – Bill Withers

2. “Don’t Stop Believin'” – Journey

3. “Don’t Stop” – Fleetwood Mac

4. “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – Pat Benatar

5. “I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty

6. “No Surrender” – Bruce Springsteen

7. “Heroes” – David Bowie

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Even as someone who uses words to make a living, it is difficult to find the right words to describe the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. It is even tougher to express how it all makes me feel. In addition to a guttural sadness and sympathy for the people of Texas, I am often overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. I feel so incredibly removed from their unfortunate situation because, well, I am.

It is at times like these that I am reminded of the one thing that brings me comfort. That one beacon of hope for me (and more importantly, for the devastated people of Texas) is that we, as Americans, have a tried and true history of supporting each other in the most challenging of times. 

If you look through our storied history, you’ll find countless examples of Americans uniting during both natural and man-made tragedies. You’ll discover thousands of stories of individuals and groups rising above their circumstances to help each other. Empathy, courage, and compassion abound. All this despite the distinct political and cultural differences that often separate us.

It is this last point that stands out to me. We are constantly referring to ourself as a divided nation. Given the current political climate, I believe that is an accurate statement. While there’s no need to rehash our many differences in this post, it is important to acknowledge that they exist. 

Despite these differences, Americans have a seemingly endless reservoir of willingness to rise above and do what is necessary to help those who so desperately need it. We see it in the countless makeshift shelters in Texas. We see it in the tweets and Facebook posts of those who speak on behalf of others who cannot call out for help on their own. We see it in the urgency of the New York City firefighters who hop in their trucks and make their way to Texas. 

These are just a few examples of the compassion, kindness, and goodwill that are aimed at Texas. Buildings, entire neighborhoods, and dozens of lives have been lost, but hope has not. As long as Americans continue to help each other, hope remains. 

 

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One of the most recently discussed topics on social media has been the unfortunate trend of mom-shaming. If you’re not familiar with it, mom-shaming is when one mother publicly criticizes the parenting skills of another mother. It is impossible to overestimate the impact of social media on the rise of mom-shaming, as it has become ridiculously easy to make disparaging comments on forums such as Facebook and Instagram.

I feel strongly that, aside from calling out blatantly inappropriate parenting practices, we should support each other as mothers. We have the toughest job in the world, and the truth is that none of us are perfect parents.

I want to suggest some ways by which we can lift up our fellow moms. Taking these steps will ensure that we don’t undermine each other as we continue doing the most important job of our lives.

1. Instead of spreading more online negativity, focus on the positive when commenting on social media.

It is so incredibly easy to find fault in every little thing our fellow moms do. Instead of making a comment about a mom who constantly lets her kids stay up too late, share an article on the benefits of our kids getting a good night’s sleep. You obviously don’t want to share it in the comments section of the post that brought the issue to your attention. Neither should you tag the offending mom, as that it is extremely passive aggressive. Wait for the right time. You’ll be spreading some good parenting advice into the world without stepping on the toes of a fellow mom.

2. Instead of judging the way moms dress their kids, share cool ideas and great sales for kids clothing.

Instead of gossiping about how a mom dresses her kids, why not share with the world the fashion tips that make your kids so stylish? Since you can’t know why a mom dresses her child the way she does (perhaps her family is experiencing financial difficulties), it is never appropriate to publicly judge a child and mother in this way. Plus, we all want to be known as parents who value people for things other than their physical appearance, so I suggest making fashion a source of goodwill and fun.

3. Instead of criticizing the actions of other kids, consistently model for your children the proper way to act and talk.

Rather than publicly insulting a mom for something her son or daughter said in school or on the playground, be a shining example of how your kids should interact with others. Keep in mind that your actions and words are being constantly observed. You have an opportunity to do much more good by treating all people with respect than by calling out the inappropriate behaviors of someone else’s child. 

4. Instead of making a judgment regarding whether or not a mother breastfeeds her baby, assume that all moms are doing what they believe is best for their children.

This is one of the biggest issues facing mothers as they try to raise a healthy child. Over the past few decades, it has become more and more taboo to feed babies via formula. While we all know that there are inherent health benefits to breastfeeding, it is impossible to know why a mother has chosen to do otherwise. There are multiple health reasons for why a mom might use a bottle, so keep an open mind. This is one instance in which it is always better to mind your own business. 

We moms know what is best for our kids. Parenting is tough enough without facing random and unwanted critiques, so be a supportive woman and do what you can to make sure you’re not shaming moms. After all, we all want the same thing: to raise healthy, happy, and well-adjusted children who love us with all their hearts. 

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You’ve probably heard the saying “if mom is happy, everyone is happy.” My experience has definitely shown this to be true. Often, though, we forget the many varied ways by which we can find happiness. We are taught from day one of motherhood that our happiness and contentment must come solely from our kids – and that choosing to spend time away from them for any reason is a sign that we don’t care about them as much as other moms care for their kids. Unfortunately, many of us believe this lie. 

Being a mother is the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the most rewarding. Due to the wonder and joy it brings, I wouldn’t trade being a mother for anything. Yet, I still find it very necessary to pursue my talents, my dreams, and my favorite activities. Here’s why I suggest you pursue some quality alone time for the purpose of chasing that career you’ve always wanted or that hobby you’ve always dreamed of. 

You are, believe it or not, your very own person!

It really seems as though sometimes folks forget this. While we are, as moms, 100% responsible for our children’s wellbeing, that shouldn’t mean that we neglect our own mental and physical wellness. So often we allow ourselves to exist solely for others, thus leading to a life that is only half as fulfilling as it could be. It is so important to rediscover the things we love – and then to find time to do them. Demand from yourself and from others permission to focus on yourself. By doing so, you will soon see that your self-awareness and self-care cause you to be a better mother. 

Give yourself some time and distance from your kids, knowing that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

This one is tough. Modern mothers are essentially forced into feeling guilty if they spend even one minute away from their kiddies. You must reject the social (and often self-imposed) pressure that comes with that mentality. Like all people and things that you love, spending a little bit of time apart from your kids will inevitably lead to a greater sense of enjoyment when you finally reunite. You will also feel incredibly refreshed, filled with more energy and patience than you ever imagined. Yes, you adore your child. None of us here doubt that. So do what is best for him and you by getting away for an hour, an afternoon, or even a day, if time allows. Both of you will be better for it in the long run.

You want to make your children proud of you and your gifts and skills, so spend time working on them.

Do your kids know what your hobbies, passions, and interests are? If not, they should. Share them and then take some time to develop your talents. You will very quickly discover that your children are impressed with you for having such interesting skills that they never even knew of. Nothing beats overhearing your kids telling their friends about your unique skills. Not only is it cool to hear them bragging about you, but you will also do them a great service by teaching them the values of practice, hard work, and belief in one’s self. 

Eventually your kids will grow older and move on, so be the best you possible. 

I don’t need to remind you that one day your kids are going to be out of your house. The realization that the time you have with them is not infinite should inspire you to make the most of the here and now. One effective way to do this is to be the best you possible. This requires you taking care of your mental and physical shape. Don’t lose sight of yourself and your needs. Finding alone time and pursuing your interests are two ways by which you can be the best mom possible. 

 

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As much as we might want to prevent it, our kids will eventually discover the ugly truth about events like Charlottesville. If we could eternally shield them from the ignorance, hatred, racism, and violence associated with groups such as neo-Nazis, the KKK, and the alt-right, we would. But we can’t. It’s out there, and with the ever-increasing reach of social media and technology, it’s more accessible than ever.

With that in mind, I was relieved to discover this article from The Los Angeles Times. Entitled “How to talk to your kids about the violence in Charlottesville,” it begins by setting the stage for why we, as parents, currently face this particular challenge:

“As violence erupted in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, with three killed and dozens injured at one of the largest white nationalist rallies in a decade, TV screens and news feeds across America were filled with images of chaos and terror. While politicians including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Senator Dianne Feinstein reacted by condemning the attacks, calling for “hope and prayers for peace” and reminders that “violent acts of hate and bigotry have no place in America,” parents seeing the news were faced with a dilemma that’s becoming an increasing concern for American families: if, and how, to talk about violence and racism with their children.”

The article goes on to list nine extremely helpful tips (all highly recommended by mental health experts and parents) for talking to your kids about what happened this weekend in Virginia. There is plenty of information to digest within the article, so they went ahead and broke it down to a few bullet points:  

How to talk to children of different ages

Elementary school age

  • Relate the issue to their world — make sure they know who they can go to if they ever feel unsafe.
  • Tell them that if they see people being picked on at school, to always tell an adult, and to treat others with respect.
  • Use age-appropriate language.

Teenagers

  • Watch/read the news with them, then ask how they feel and what they think.
  • Share your experiences.
  • Help them discover what actions they can take to educate themselves and effect change.
  • Remind them that you’re there, even if they don’t want to talk.

I hope this information helps you as you try to explain to your kids the type of things I never thought we’d need to explain in 2017. 

Love and care for each other.