Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dealing with jerks and getting ahead in life

Life Code: The New Rules For Winning in the Real World by Dr. Phil McGraw

Click here to purchase Life Code: The New Rules for Winning in the Real World

I admit I am a rather naive person. I believe what people tell me and I trust them. This has led to my being used as a door mat more than once.  Every time it happens, I’m shocked and a bit depressed to learn that there are so many predatory people out there. In my gullible little mind, I expect that people all want to do the right thing. It’s quite the life lesson to learn that not everyone is a good person or wants to be! I also admit, I’m a bit leery of Dr. Phil. I mean, he’s on TV…is he really a serious psychologist? Well, I’ve read a few of his books now and I realize he has smart things to say that are beneficial to my life. Maybe some of these things are common sense to some people, but some of us are slow learners 🙂 That said, the “real world” does work in a certain way–whether it matches your ideal or not. Can we change it? Do we learn to work with it? There are bad people out there and we can’t change that–so we need to learn how to deal with them. There is also the reality that if you want to get ahead, you can’t just wait for people to notice you. (I’ve tried that…it doesn’t work!) I read this book all in one afternoon and had several light bulb moments. I also underlined so many things that I needed to remember. I think this is an especially good book for those of us who wonder why we make such good doormats, but also for anyone who wants to learn how to cope better and be more assertive.

Here are the chapter titles:
Part 1
1. Life is a Game: Be a Player or Be Played
2. Who Are These People?
3. The “Bad Guys”/”BAITER” Secret Playbook
A Personal Note from Dr. Phil to the BAITERS Among Us

Part 2
4. Stop Being a Target
5. Your New “Life Code” Playbook
6. Taking the Mystery Out of Negotiation–and Negotiating the Non-negotiable
7. Parenting in the Real World
8. Conclusion

This book is divided into two parts. The first is basically about recognizing and dealing with people who will hurt you and the second is using the rules of the game to help yourself. Dr. Phil labels the “bad guys” as BAITERs. It’s an acronym, but it’s pretty clear that he’s describing people such as narcissists or those with anti-social personality disorder. These types of people will run right over your life and crush you without a thought. (BTDT–that’s why I bought the book!) He points out that certain types of people are highly likely to be exploited because they are too trusting and not cautious enough. If you are one of these people, GET THIS BOOK! If you are like me, you will find yourself nodding in agreement and finding your experiences validated. Some of the things he wrote about were exactly what had happened to me. It’s classic. Dr. Phil even gives his own example of being seriously manipulated and conned by a person with no conscience. It happens to us all, but some people are more likely to have it happen again. Read this book and find out how NOT to have it happen again! He reminds us that users are likely to come across as charming, fun and kind, but there are certain characteristics that will help you figure out who is too good to be true.

The second half of the book is about getting ahead and being successful. He doesn’t necessarily tell you to put on act or be a different person, but he does emphasize that you have to sell yourself in an honest way that plays up your best features. You have to look out for yourself and be confident–don’t give your secrets away! One thing to remember is he says “…I’m not telling you how the world should work, I am telling you how the world does work.” I think this is an important thing to remember. It is true that certain types of people succeed in life and they aren’t necessarily the smartest, prettiest or hardest working. They are the people who know how to use the unspoken rules of society. Dr. Phil gives a list of things to remember and includes tips on negotiating and setting boundaries. If you feel like you get walked on and/or aren’t getting your due recognition at work, give this book a read. There is some good life advice here.

Trying to conceive and natural pregnancy prevention

Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health by Toni Weschler

Click here to purchase Taking Charge of Your Fertility, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health

I first read this book in 2007 and was completely impressed. I’ve been telling women about it ever since. I truly believe that every woman should read this book! There are so many “women’s problems” that leave women needlessly confused or stressed out every month, (or less often,) that can be understood after reading this book. It’s ideal for women who want to get pregnant, (or to avoid pregnancy,) but it’s also a good choice for any woman who just wants to know what is going on with her health. It’s such a wealth of information that women need to know. I can’t say it enough!

Here are the chapter titles:
Part one–Breaking Fertile Ground:Toward a New Way of Thinking
1. Fertility Awareness: What You Should Know and Why You Probably Don’t
2. Taking Control of Your Reproductive Health

Part two–Rediscovering Your Cycle and Your Body
3. There’s More to Your Reproductive Anatomy Than Your Vagina
4. Finally Making Sense of Your Menstrual Cycle
5. The Three Primary Fertility Signs
6. How to Observe and Chart Your Fertility Signs
7. Anovulation and Irregular Cycles

Part three–Natural Birth Control
8. Practicing FAM Responsibly
9. Natural Birth Control Without Chemicals or Devices
10. Shortcuts: Minimum Charting with Maximum Reliability

Part four–Pregnancy Achievement
11. Maximizing Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
12. Practical Tips Beyond Fertility Awareness
13. Lovemaking vs Babymaking
14. What Next? Tests and Treatments That May Be Necessary to Achieve Pregnancy

Part five–Beyond Fertility: Practical Benefits of Charting Your Cycle
15. Maintaining Your Gynecological Health
16. Appreciating Your Sexuality and Nurturing Your Relationship
17. Choosing the Sex of Your Baby
18. Premenstrual Syndrome: It’s Not All In My Head?
19. Demystifying Menopause
20. Enriching Your Self-Esteem Through Knowledge About Your Body

This is a BIG book with lots and lots of information! The author focuses on the subject of charting one’s daily temperatures to find the fertile patterns in one’s cycle, which may not appeal to everyone; however, there is still so much to learn. I personally read it the whole way through, but you could also use it like a reference book and just read the chapters you need or browse through it to answer questions. Doctors often treat women as though we all have the same perfectly timed cycles–but we don’t. Reading this book can help you become more than just a statistic. It can also help you pinpoint due dates if you are pregnant, (or want to aim for a certain time of the year.) You can watch your own individual patterns–which is especially helpful if you do, (or don’t,) want to get pregnant, but can also be helpful if you are having problems and need to share information with your doctor. Basically, this book helps you better understand and protect your body. I think if you read it, you will walk away more educated and empowered, and that is always a good thing!


Finding real, unconditional love

Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer, M.D.

Click here to purchase Real Love: The Truth About Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships

This book is excellent and mind-opening! The ideas you can learn from the author are very helpful in a mutually loving relationship and I think this book that would be beneficial for so many people. It focuses on truly loving people as a gift rather than as an expectation, (with the theory that giving love without conditions will help you receive love as well.) I’m going to quote the author, (from page 4 of my copy,) because he says it better than I can:

When we give Real Love, we’re not disappointed, hurt, or angry, even when people are thoughtless or inconsiderate or give us nothing in return–including gratitude–because our concern is for their happiness, not our own. Real Love is unconditional.

I think this is a wonderful point! Think how much happier we would be if we loved joyfully rather than waiting to be acknowledged and ending up disappointed. I will add a disclaimer though: you have to be careful to love healthfully rather than co-dependently. If you are in an abusive or one-sided relationship, all the love in the world can’t fix the other person and you might still have to walk away for your own good. Assuming that most people are capable of love, though, this book is just filled with great ideas and quotes that will really get you thinking. I can’t say enough good things about it!

Here are the chapter titles:
1. The Missing Ingredient: What Relationships Really Need
2. Getting and Protecting: The Many Faces of Imitation Love
3. Being Seen and Getting Loved: The Tale of the Wart King and the Wise Man
4. Taking the Leap of Faith: Everyday Wise Men and How to Find Them
5. The Effect of Real Love: Like Money in the Bank
6. Sharing Your Fortune: The Power of Loving Others
7. Playing a Beautiful Duet: The Joys of Mutually Loving Relationships
8. Real Love in All Our Relationships: Spouses, Children, Friends and Co-workers
9. Dealing With Obstacles on the Path to Real Love: Disappointment, Anger and Getting and Protecting Behaviors

Baer believes that relationships fail due to a lack of unconditional love and tells us that when people feel loved, they lose their fears and anger and become more honest–which in turn strengthens the relationship. He explains that people who don’t feel loved are often so busy trying to get love that they can’t love others and they turn to “imitation” love in an attempt to get anything at all. He warns us to avoid expectations and trying to change others or force them to love us, and gives some ideas about how to deal with our partners’ behaviors that annoy us. He encourages us to have faith in the goodness of others and to realize that when they hurt us, they are usually acting on their own fears rather than anything personal. He promotes honesty and states that if you are always open and honest about yourself, you will find the people who are capable of loving you for who you are rather than those who love you for what they think you are. He also suggests we look around for mentors or “Wise Men and Women,” for examples of mature love. The book is just filled with more good points and all kinds of examples for improving one’s relationships. I can’t even begin to touch on everything, but I will say I think this is a book that could do all of us some good!

Lasting Lessons:
Real love from one person outweighs attacks and judgements from others
Be yourself so you meet the right people

Money-Making Tip

I think we all would love to find a legitimate way to make money online, right? Well, you aren’t going to get rich, but there are some sites that will pay you to do tasks or take surveys. I’ve made about $35 this week, which isn’t so bad! I aim for $5 a day and it takes minimal time. I have two main sites that I use and this one is my favorite right now:

It’s called Inbox Dollars. What I like about it is, they send you a few e-mails through the day called “PaidEmail” that allow you to make a few cents just by clicking on them and reading them. It adds up…. There are also numerous offers for free surveys–some of which are one-time-only and others are daily options. They are short and pay anywhere from 35 cents to over a dollar. I do one or two in between chores or a few while I’m eating a meal and makes some extra spending money. Also, for every survey you take, you get a free spin on their virtual wheel. You can win anything from a few cents to $5. There are also options for making money for trying free trials or for purchasing items, but you aren’t required to purchase anything to participate in the numerous free offers. Some of the offers are for placing an order through various online websites to get an incentive payment, so if you know you want to do some online shopping, just make sure you click through Inbox Dollars. For example, you can get 2% through Wal-Mart or Target, 3% through Kohls, 5% through Avon or 15% through (I wish I’d known this when I did some fall clothing shopping on, but I’ll keep it in mind for the future!) This isn’t everything–there are a lot more options for making money. Once you accumulate $30, you can cash out. It honestly doesn’t take long to get to that point. I’ve made more than that in a week and I have only done the free offers! One thing I will recommend is that you use an e-mail account that is separate from your personal or business accounts because you will get a lot of messages. Small price to pay to make extra money easily from home!

Raising happy and well-behaved toddlers

The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old by Harvey Karp, M.D.
Click here to purchase The Happiest Toddler on the Block: How to Eliminate Tantrums and Raise a Patient, Respectful, and Cooperative One- to Four-Year-Old: Revised Edition
For years, I have read excellent reviews of Karp’s book The Happiest Baby on the Block but my baby was an easy baby so I never bought that one. However, when my two year old had his first tantrum, I bought this book ASAP! I had no idea my sweet little baby could get so mad! (Good thing I’m a fast reader ;) ) The main idea behind this book is that your toddler has the emotional and communication skills of a cave man. We simply cannot expect them to understand things the way we do and their brains are not wired for them to be treated like miniature people. Fortunately, as a doctor, Karp has lots of experience dealing with frustrated children, so he shares his tips and tricks for calming them and getting them to do what he needs for them to do. He teaches us how to communicate with them in ways they can understand. I have tried many of the ideas in the book and they are very helpful. However, it doesn’t hurt to skim through it every once in a while. This book was a bestseller and the cover is filled with glowing reviews.

Here are the chapter titles:

Part One: The Happiest Toddler: Toddler/Parent Basics
1. Toddler Basics: The Gentle Art of Civilizing a Toddler
2. Parenting Basics: The Lowdown on Bringing Up a Toddler

Part Two: Connect with Respect: Toddler Communication Basics
3. The “Fast Food Rule”: The Golden Rule of Communication
4. “Toddler-ese”: A Talking Style That Really Works!

Part Three: Behavior Basics: Raise a Great Child the Green-Yellow-Red-Light Way
5. Green-Light Behaviors: How to Encourage Good Behavior
6. Yellow-Light Behaviors: How to Curb Annoying Behavior
7. Red-Light Behaviors: How to Put the Brakes on Bad Behavior

Part Four: How Do I Handle This One?
8. Taming Tantrums…Like Magic!
9. Real Answers to Common Problems

Karp begins by telling us a bit about toddler brains and development and how they differ from adult brains–specifically in that they are more emotional. He gives ideas about how to talk to your child so your child feels like you are listening–sometimes fixing their problems isn’t as important as hearing them and acknowledging their frustration. One tip includes repeating your child’s desires back to them so they know you are listening…that doesn’t mean you have to give in though. He gives ideas for taming a tantrum. For example, you want to echo your child’s wishes with emotion–but at one third of the volume. When you communicate in their “language,” they will settle down and hear you so that you can tone down the frustration, acknowledge it and then guide your child the right way. Finally, he tackles specific behaviors–how to encourage the good things and stop the dangerous actions. Towards the end is a section about working on common problems. There is so much great information in this book, I can’t even begin to describe it! But, I know it has worked for me with my toddler, (and would work even better if I were more dedicated to the techniques,) and Karp’s explanations for his techniques really help you understand and appreciate how to talk to your toddler. He really has some good experience and tips!

Lasting Lessons:
Build your child up and give him or her lots of positive attention when he or she is behaving well.Getting the right attention helps prevent tantrums.
Stay patient and remember your child does not have a fully-developed brain. He or she is a little cave person!
Make sure your child knows that you are hearing what they have to say.

Free books and a way to catalog your home library!

If you love reading and learning about new books, (and you are nerdy enough to want to catalog your books!) you may want to visit and join Library Thing! This site allows you to catalog your books, view your friends’ collections, make new friends with similar interests, get recommendations and more. You can join for free and you can start entering your book titles; however, the free membership is limited. If you want to add hundreds of books, you can join for $10 a year or $25 for life. I joined for life in 2009 and have really gotten my money’s worth. Why? Because, as a member, you can apply to be an “early reviewer.” Authors and publishers list their unreleased books that they giving away for free and you can apply to be a reviewer. If chosen, you will receive the book in the mail (or sometimes they offer e-books.) You are expected to review the book in exchange. If you don’t actually review it, there are no consequences; however, being a good reviewer lets the site give you higher priority for future free books. I always try to be fair and thorough in my reviews and I’ve received a couple dozen free books that I’ve reviewed. In fact, I discovered one of my favorite authors this way! It’s a great way for you to discover unknown authors, as well as a great way for them to let you discover their books. Good deal!

I read and reviewed Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman and liked it so much, I went on to read all of her books!

Making money by testing products!

If you live near the Cincinnati, Ohio area, you might want to consider testing products for Proctor and Gamble. You can sign up online to be considered for their research center. Most of the offers are for baby products, but they sometimes have options to test other products. The test studies require at least one visit to the center, and often more, but they can pay off quite well. My son was involved in a diaper study as a newborn and I received a $250 gift card! Most of the studies we’ve been offered have been for lower amounts, but every bit helps and it’s fun to try the new products! The payment amounts are based on the time required, but I have found them to be very generous. They always come in the form of a pre-paid gift card that you can use as a major credit card. You do want to make sure you live nearby, though, to make sure the drive is worth the reward.

Money and investment skills for building credit and savings

The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke by Suze Orman

I admit, I am not as young as the young people Orman is targeting. Fabulous is iffy–I spend most of my day with two toddlers! I am definitely broke, though, so I still look to this book for guidance on digging out of a financial hole. Some financial goals are common sense, (at least I hope!) You shouldn’t spend more than you make, you want to pay your bills on time, etc…. But other areas are a bit more confusing. For example, if you have credit card debt and student loan debt, should you still contribute to a 401k? Or if you have no emergency fund, do you build one before trying to pay off your debt? Which debts do you pay off first? The format of the book is very user-friendly and easy to read. The advice is set up as questions and answers and the answers are basic enough for someone without a finance background. The information is enough to help you without overwhelming you. Orman gives her expert opinions on these issues and explains her reasoning.  Of all the famous financial advisers out there, she’s my favorite.

Here are the chapter titles:
1. Know the Score
2. Career Moves
3. Give Yourself Credit
4. Making the Grade On Student Debt
5. Save Up
6. Retirement Rules
7. Investing Made Easy
8. Big-Ticket Purchase: Car
9. Big-Ticket Purchase: Home
10. Love & Money

To start, Orman explains credit scores and how they are determined as well as what your score should be for your best credit offers and how to raise your score. She gives practical career advice and tips on how to get your best salary. She tackles the idea of student loan debt–and advises that it is “good debt,” (with an explanation, of course.) She gives ideas on how to prioritize your money, your saving and your investing, (as well as how to get by if you don’t earn enough.) And she gives a good overview of the various retirement and savings plans available, along with their benefits and tax advantages as well as their guidelines. As a beginner who is overwhelmed by IRAs, HSA, FSA and 401ks, I enjoyed her easy-to-understand descriptions. I think this book makes a good overview for someone who is looking to build a healthy financial future.

Lasting Lessons:
If your student loans have low interest rates, it’s not necessarily best to pay them off quickly. 
Avoid non-conventional mortgages–especially variable rates and interest-only loans.
Avoiding leasing a car–when your lease is over, you still don’t own a car!

A cheap way for families to travel!

I love to travel and go on road trips, but I do not always have a lot of money to pay for hotels. My answer? I stay in a KOA Kamping Kabin! It’s not as rustic as sleeping on the ground and you don’t have to stop and pitch the tent, but it’s also not as expensive as a hotel. The kabins always have fans, electrical outlets and locking doors. I’m sure there are other campgrounds that offer camping cabins, but I stick with KOA because they are consistent and easy to use. The campgrounds are always kid friendly and the bathrooms are clean. You can also buy a membership to save 10% on your stay, (among other benefits.) Plus, there are KOAs all over the place in the US and Canada. They are a good option for traveling on a budget.

If you go, don’t forget your atlas!

I got this one for my kids:

Have fun!

The importance of touch and parenting in a baby’s first year

Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain by Sue Gerhardt

Click here to purchase Why Love Matters: How affection shapes a baby’s brain

When I was expecting my first child, I read a few books about the importance of touch. I’d heard the stories of orphaned babies who failed-to-thrive or even died despite having appropriate care and knew that human interaction was important for babies, but I had no idea how important it was! It turns out, the care one receives as an infant can affect one’s entire life. Not that you are doomed if you didn’t get good care, but having poor care really can lead to having more problems as an adult. Sue Gerhardt explains the science behind brain development and explains how experiences in infancy leave an emotional mark. It’s a very interesting book, and it can be a bit overwhelming as you realize just how important your parenting skills are! On the other hand, it also helps you realize that you don’t have to be perfect, but you do have the ability to help your child grow up to be emotionally healthy and more successful navigating through life.
Here are the chapter titles:
Part I–The Foundations: Babies and Their Brains
1. Back to the Beginning
2. Building a Brain
3. Corrosive Cortisone

Part 2–Shaky Foundations and Their Consequences
4. Trying Not to Feel
5. Melancholy Baby
6. Active Harm
7. Torment
8. Original Sin

Part 3–Too Much Information, Not Enough Solutions
9. “If All Else Fails, Hug Your Teddy Bear
10. Birth of the Future

Gerhardt begins by giving us some basic information about how the brain and nervous system work. (Don’t worry; it’s not complicated.) She introduces the theory of attachments–that is, how much a baby trusts his or her caregivers. A baby who has learned that a parent is not reliable will learn that the world is not safe and can carry this detachment into other relationships. Gerhardt also explains that brain neurons need positive experiences to connect and a stressed baby will develop too much cortisol which will hurt the developing brain. (Cortisol is a hormone that the body releases under duress. Too much of it can be harmful for adult bodies as well.) There are many examples of people who received various levels of nurturing as infants and how those experiences affected them throughout their lives. (For example: the baby of a depressed mother is 6 times more likely to be a depressed adult.) This can all seem a bit negative and scary, but of course many of the examples are extreme cases. Fortunately, if you know the information, you can take steps to nurture your baby in a way that will stay with them in a positive manner through their lives. I consider this to be one of the most important parenting books I’ve read because it’s the basis for your baby’s life.
Lasting Lessons:
Remember that your infant depends on YOU for everything and that he or she needs your help to feel safe during those early days. 
It’s important to be responsive and to watch your baby’s cues. You cannot spoil a baby!
Try to be a positive example with lots of smiles for your baby. If you are struggling, make sure you get help and support.

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