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Today is the big day. As we spend time celebrating Mother’s Day and reflecting on what our moms mean to us,  I thought it’d be fitting (and fun) to look at 10 quotes that perfectly express the love and gratitude we are all feeling today. From Abraham Lincoln to Stevie Wonder, there are definitely some gems here. 

Once you’re done with the day’s celebratory meals, coffee, wine, gifts, and laughs, share these powerful words of wisdom with your favorite woman in the entire world: 

1. “God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” – Jewish proverb

2. “A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dates all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” – Agatha Christie

3. “I will look after you and I will look after anybody you say needs to be looked after, any way you say. I am here. I brought my whole self to you. I am your mother.” – Maya Angelou

4. “Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love.” – Stevie Wonder
5. “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

6. “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” – unknown

7. “A father may turn his back on his child, brothers and sisters may become inveterate enemies, husbands may desert their wives, wives their husbands. But a mother’s love endures through all.” – Washington Irving

8. “I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” – Mitch Albom
9. “Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
10. “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning

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Much like our favorite songs, mothers inspire us and are always there to provide comfort. With that in mind, I’ve gathered eight songs that represent the sweetest elements of motherhood. Mother’s Day is right around the corner, so feel free to share this playlist with your favorite person in the world: mom.

1. “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” by Carrie Underwood

This touching ballad finds Underwood paying tribute to her husband Mike and son Isaiah. With lyrics like “Never pictured myself singing lullabies / Sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of the night / In the quiet, in the dark / You’re stealing every bit of my heart with your daddy’s eyes,” “What I Never Knew I Always Wanted” is a wonderful ode to motherhood.  

2. “This Angel” by Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer Nettles wrote “This Angel” following the birth of her child. It is a testament to the enriching and transformative experience of becoming a mother.

3. “In My Daughter’s Eyes” by Martina McBride

Martina McBride’s “In My Daughter’s Eyes” is an exceptionally poignant song. In it, she describes the world as it is seen through her daughter’s eyes. Best of all, McBride then expresses her desire to see things exactly how her daughter does. 

4. “Lullaby for Wyatt” by Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow’s tender “Lullaby for Wyatt” is dedicated to her son, whom she adopted in 2007.

5. “Gabriel and Me” by Joan Baez

Folk singer Joan Baez wrote “Gabriel and Me” when her son was little. Today, he is all grown up and playing drums with his mom’s band. Such is the mother-child bond that can form through music. 

6. “To Zion” by Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill’s “To Zion” is definitely the most controversial song on this list. It is about Hill’s decision to have her son despite the urging of her music industry peers to have an abortion. Hill’s decision speaks to the complexity – and the joy – of motherhood. 

7. “Lullaby” by The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks wrote the ultimate sleepy time song with their sugary sweet “Lullaby.” The lyrics are incredibly touching, asking every mom’s favorite questions, “How long do you wanna be loved? Is forever enough?”

8. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

Lee Ann Womack’s hit “I Hope You Dance” was written by Tia Sillers and Mark Sanders. When Womack heard it, she immediately knew her experience as a mother would allow her to make it entirely her own:  “The song made me think about my daughters and the different times in their lives. As a parent, you just hope those are the kinds of things you will make your children think of.”

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With us now just under two weeks away from this year’s Mother’s Day (May 14), it is the perfect time to begin pondering creative new gift ideas for our favorite person in the entire world. After all, a sign of truly caring for someone the way we care for mom is giving them a thoughtful gift.

The truth is that selecting the perfect gift for someone you love can be a stressful task – especially if it’s the woman who lovingly raised you. Finding a thoughtful Mother’s Day gift that shows what she means to you while also being something that you know she’ll love might seem like a tall order, but it’s more doable than you think. Plus, one of the great things about moms is that you can pretty much guarantee they’re going to love whatever gifts you give them.

Whether she loves to squeeze in an early morning workout or spend the afternoon curled up with a good book, there is definitely a thoughtful gift out there just waiting for your mom’s unique personality. The best part is that you don’t really have to spend a fortune to show your mother how much you care.

With prices ranging from $10 to $100, you can easily find the perfect gift to celebrate the woman who changed your diapers, taught you to read, and hauled you and your friends all around town before you could drive on your own. Here are 5 thoughtful gift ideas guaranteed to make Mom happy on her special day. 

1. For the chef at heart

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Rather than taking your chances by buying a kitchen gadget that your mom may or may not want or need, you should sign the two of you up for a cooking class. You are often able to choose between a demonstration class in which the chef does all the cooking and a hands-on class that is pretty much all you. Either way, every time she makes that very special meal, she’ll think of you and the quality time you spent together.

2. For the bookworm

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If your mom is like mine, she loves nothing more than diving into a good book. With countless genres of books by a plethora of acclaimed authors, a subscription to Book of the Month just might be the perfect gift for your favorite bookworm. Subscriptions are now more affordable than ever before, with prices ranging from $45 for three months to $144 for a year. If you want to invest in spending more time together, you could also buy the same books for yourself for the purpose of starting a mini book club.

3. For the fitness guru

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It seems that everyone nowadays is obsessed with physical fitness, and moms are no exception. Help your mom pursue a healthier and happier life by buying her a fitness gift card that will encourage her to engage in her tried and true exercises or venture into a new method of getting healthy. Fitness options abound, with yoga and meditation classes currently all the rage. If you have a higher budget, perhaps finding your mother her own personal trainer is the best idea.

4. For the wine connoisseur

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I’m not 100% sure, but I think it’s pretty much a universal thing that moms love wine. After all, they had to deal with us as kids, right? Whether she likes red or white, you might be shocked at how much she will appreciate you buying her a bottle of her favorite wine. Not only can you buy her a bottle of wine, but you can also take things to the next level by combining her favorite wine with a set of simple wine glasses and a few carefully selected food items.

5. For the green thumb

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When I think of gorgeous green gardens, I think of moms. Some of my earliest memories are of my mother planting flowers, fruits, and vegetables. I miss those days. Luckily, there are a ton of options for those moms who own a green thumb. A gardener’s apron, rolling garden seat, or garden clogs are just some of the thoughtful gift ideas for those mothers who find peace and pleasure in their garden.

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In my last post, I sang the the praises of listening to music while exercising:

First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset. Uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.

So, lucky for us, the end result is less perceived pain and a longer workout. Dr. Costas Karageorghis of London’s Brunel University told TIME Magazine that listening to music while working out can improve endurance by close to 20 percent.

Karageorghis also explained how to choose the best workout music. You should choose a song that builds to the same beats per minute (BPM) as your target heart rate, with the target rate being somewhere between 120-140 BPM. 

I have put together a list of 6 pop and country songs that I think are perfect for working out. I hope they provide you with tons of inspiration and energy as you try to build a better you. 

“Shake It Off” – Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift’s feel-good hit “Shake It Off” not only told off the haters of the world, it also completed the young singer’s metamorphosis from country darling to pop superstar. Keep that radical transformation in mind as you look to change your physical health and appearance. 

“Dancing in the Dark” – Bruce Springsteen

If you’ve ever spent your time on a treadmill imagining yourself in a music video, you’ve probably pictured a scenario similar to the video for Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark.” In it the Boss pulls out of the audience a young lady who is fortunate enough to join Bruce onstage. Couple the fantasy of such an experience with the song’s heightened sense of urgency (“I wanna change my clothes, my hair, my face!”), and you have the ultimate workout song. 

“One Way or Another” – Blondie

Blondie’s “One Way or Another” is a catchy and energetic song that possesses the perfect amount of hook and attitude. Debbie Harry and her band of hip new wavers demonstrate the type of indomitable spirit and personal resolve that should inspire you to work out harder and longer. 

“Let Your Love Flow” – The Bellamy Brothers

The Bellamy Brothers may not have known it when they were writing it, but their hit “Let Your Love Flow” does wonders for the soul in need of a quick pick-me-up. With lyrics like these, how can you not feel inspired?

There’s a reason for the sunshine sky
And there’s a reason why I’m feelin’ so high
Must be the season when that love light shines
All around us

“Crazy Little Thing Called Love” – Queen

What could possibly be more uplifting than Queen’s Freddie Mercury channeling the swagger of Elvis Presley? Well, that’s exactly what you get with Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” This is perhaps the most feel-good song on my list, as its infectious beat and rockabilly sound are sure to provide you with all the positive vibes you’ll need to make your way through even the most difficult workout. 

“Maniac” – Michael Sembello

Michael Sembello’s 1983 hit “Maniac” is an intense, synth-drenched kick in the pants from the hugely popular soundtrack to Flashdance. It is virtually impossible to listen to “Maniac” and not want to get off your behind and burn some calories. If you’re a fan of ’80s movies like I am, the sweet nostalgia of Flashdance and “Maniac” will only add to your enjoyment as you sweat to what is now, somehow, an oldie. 

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Music Workout

Are you one of those people who can’t wait to go to the gym? Or are you the type of person who can’t wait to leave the gym? Regardless of your feelings on exercise, it is more obvious than ever that music and exercise are pretty much a perfect fit. In fact, including music into your routine has been proven to increase the efficiency of your workout.

There are some folks who can seemingly run for hours in complete silence. I am most definitely not one of them. If you’re like me, you probably can’t even begin working out without blasting some tunes. I need a sonic distraction, something upbeat to take my mind off the repetitive and sometimes painful nature of exercise.

I used to think that the exercisers who preferred silence were kind of crazy, but it turns out that this is because there are actually two distinct kinds of workout personalities.

The first type, associators, turn all of their attention inward while they are exercising. They prefer to focus on things like their form, heart rate, and breathing.

Dissociators, meanwhile, turn their focus to anything that can distract them from the hard work their body is doing, be it a book, television, or in my case, a steady stream of music.

If you think you might be a dissociator, welcome to the club. There are several reasons why music might be your best choice for a better workout.  

First, because music distracts you, you are less likely to focus on the difficult (and sometimes tortuous) work your body is doing. As a result, you are much more likely to have a longer workout. My preference is music with high beats per minute, or BPM. This will help you as you try to maintain a more rigorous workout by keeping a faster pace.

Another benefit of playing music during your workout is that the right kind of songs, the ones that offer an inspiring message (think “Eye of the Tiger” or “Walking on Sunshine”), can keep you in a positive mindset.

It is scientifically proven that uplifting tunes can cause you to push harder during a workout by reducing your perceived exertion during the most challenging/exhausting/painful moments of your session.

In short, the right songs can make you not physically feel all the negative things you might associate with working out, thus allowing you to last longer. 

Less perceived pain AND a longer workout? That is all I need to know to convince me that my iPod will always be joining me as I prepare to exercise.

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I’ll discuss some of my favorite workout songs. 

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I know it’s only early March, but I can’t stop thinking about the upcoming summer. Based on my personal experience, it is never too early to begin planning your summer family vacation.

If you’re like me, the two most important things to keep in mind while mapping out all the madness are fun and affordability.

The best way to make sure you plan a memorable vacation for everyone that won’t break the bank is to begin planning NOW! Below are 5 helpful tips for mapping out the perfect summer vacation that will, thankfully, be here before you know it. 

1. Research potential destinations with your kids.

This process can be quite enjoyable. All you need to do is spend a few hours online with your children as you investigate possible destinations. They can scout out places that pique their interest, and you keep an eye out for the best deals. 

2. Book everything NOW!

Whether it is a hotel, flight, or rental car, get the best deal possible by booking it now. It’s possible to get a great deal by booking at the last minute, but is it really worth the stress? 

Right now is the time to book the lodging you’ve been eyeing. Ask for a discount before you lock in your reservation. Simply call or email and ask if there are any discounts for special memberships such as AAA or for folks who want to book several days. 

3. Plan your meals.

Try to stay someplace with a kitchen or a fridge. If that is not an option, try to stay somewhere that offers a free breakfast. The last thing you want to do is waste time and money having to eat all your meals in a restaurant every day of your vacation. 

Have a picnic for lunch when you can. Bring your own sandwiches to the park or the beach. Remember: kids typically don’t like waiting in restaurants anyway, so try to avoid them. 

4. Resist impulse purchases by researching specific mementos.

Heading to a cool science museum? Browse the museum’s online gift shop to see which specific items you and your family are interested in. Knowing what you are looking for will help you avoid the whole “kid in a candy store” thing that often leads to spending too much money.

Encourage your kids to start a collection based on your vacation. This could include patches, stickers, or postcards. Do a little bit of hunting beforehand so that you have an idea of what to look for as you and your family begin your adventure. 

5. Replace pricey attractions with those that are free (or nearly free).

This one is sometimes easier than done. A good example of opting for a less expensive alternative is attending a minor league baseball game instead of a major league game. You will save possibly hundreds of dollars, and unless you or your family are beholden to a specific major league team, you will have the same pleasure of watching America’s pastime during the warm summer months. You might even find it a more charming experience. 

What are some tips you’d suggest for planning the most fun and affordable summer vacation ever? Feel free to share in the comments section.  

 

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