Happy (Healthy) New Year!

cute cuties

I don’t know about you but but December 31st each year I am super-ready for some healthy eating after a month of splurges, parties and cookies galore. I wrote some tips for “getting back in the healthy saddle” over at LiveWell Colorado.

And I will be putting those tips in place right after I go to that party tonight, then make that delicious french toast tomorrow, then have that big pasta dinner to celebrate New Year’s Day – well, maybe on the 2nd 🙂

Here’s a teaser:

After a long couple of months of parties, holiday cookies and all other manner of food indulgences, January 1st can be a time to “get back in the healthy saddle.” Some of us look forward to going back to the routine of work, school, exercise and more moderate food intake; but others of us can struggle to give up the sweets and treats that have been so abundant since Halloween.

So how can you return to (or start) healthy and sustainable eating and exercise habits in the new year?

One step at a time.

It can be tempting to set lofty goals like exercising everyday, never eating dessert and giving up soda on January 1. But for most of us, setting multiple, large goals at once just isn’t realistic.

To increase your chance of success, try setting one or two small, manageable goals at a time. For example, take a walk two times per week, and limit sodas to once per day. Once you have achieved your initial goals, add more – eventually you will get to where you want to be.

Read the rest of the article at LiveWell Colorado.

Healthy Pancakes for the Holidays

We have 3 days to go until Christmas and I am already on junk food/sugar cookie/artichoke dip overload.  So when my kids had a sleepover this weekend, I couldn’t bear to consume one more sugary, unhealthy meal.  Luckily these girls were game for a breakfast that didn’t come in a box, so we headed over to the Produce for Kids website and chose these Nutty Apple Pancakes.

I’m a big pancake fan, and we already had most of the ingredients so we gave it a go.

Here’s how it went:

Mixing the dry ingredients

Mixing the dry ingredients



Putting is all together

Putting it all together

This recipe was great because it included some new, unique flavors.

This recipe was great because it included some new, unique flavors – and doesn’t it look pretty?

Good to the last bite!

Good to the last bite!

Nutty Apple Pancakes were a big hit with this crew.  Check out the recipe here.  To learn more about Produce for Kids, or to find more of their kid-friendly, delicious and healthy recipes check out their website.

10 Thumbs Up!

10 Thumbs Up!


Do you need some last minute ideas for holiday snacks? Looks at these!


Holiday Stress – Can Heels Be the Cure?

Screen shot 2013-12-19 at 7.05.36 AMCrunch time has begun! Only one weekend left until Christmas – for some that means lots of excitement and joy, for others it means stress levels are reaching an all-time high.  I wrote some tips about how to manage the highs and lows of the season over at Produce for Kids.  Here’s a glimpse:

Come up with a plan. Finances can be one of the biggest sources of stress around the holidays. To avoid over-spending, devise a budget and a plan for gift giving – and stick to it! Most people agree that the holidays aren’t about big, fancy gifts, so try keeping it simple and inexpensive, and leave the stress behind.

Read the rest of the tips here.


On another note: I seriously love the graphic above! Maybe if I wore heels to do my shopping I wouldn’t be so stressed? Hmmm.

Keeping It Real at Christmas

I recently received a Christmas card with the following note:

After reading your last blog entry I couldn’t resist sending you a copy of our Christmas card.  It is a far cry from Martha Stewart, but it should give you a good laugh.

Here it is:

Christmas Card

Seriously, how darling is that family?

Here’s the real-life, not-perfect, but super-cute story behind the photo:

We decided that our Christmas card needed some explanation this year:  
Let’s just say there were hopes and dreams of the “perfect family photo” for this card.  

About 10 minutes into our photo secession, son #1 found a section of perfectly flat, bright green, artificial turf.  

Naturally, he decided to run onto the grass…only to find that it was not.  

Imagine his surprise as the carpet of pond scum parted as he fell face first into the water.
This photo was candidly taken right after pulling him out.  

It describes life with 3 children perfectly!

 Merry Christmas!

Thanks so much for sharing, Mandy! Your Christmas card certainly shows us that real and honest – along with it’s accompanying scum – makes for the most memorable (and sincere) holiday greetings!

Why I Hate the Holidays (Hint: It’s the Most Stress-filled Time of the Year)

no turkey

Sorry to be a downer, but I find the holiday season to be the most stressful and unpleasant time of the year.  Each year at this time, I find myself daydreaming of far away beaches, mountains, deserts, plains – anywhere that would provide an escape from the stressors of the holidays at home.

Many folks have very good reason to find the holiday season difficult: the death of a loved one, the break-up of a marriage, the loss of a job.  These painful events can make the holidays excruciating for people, and I don’t want to discount the real-ness of their pain.  But their are also other – albeit less tragic – aspects of the holidays that can make them a struggle for people as well.

Our families don’t change.  Very few of us have “perfect” families.  Awkward blended families, alcoholic uncles, inappropriate in-laws – we all have at least one family member that drives us crazy – or worse.  But for some reason, many of us expect that our families will be magically transformed after Halloween and become the happy, smiling, super-functional families we see on cookie tins and Christmas cards.  Well, hope all you want folks but the family you started the year with is the same one you’re stuck with now – maybe even worse.

There’s only one Martha Stewart.  Ms. Stewart started a wave of domestic arts that seems to be reaching a fever pitch with the growing use of Pinterest, Etsy and similar sites.  I have to admit, I do love crafts and all things Martha, but the pressure to look perfect while serving the perfect meal in the perfect house while your perfect children are doing a perfect craft is overwhelming, and quite frankly impossible to achieve.  There’s is only one Martha Stewart people – and you are not her.

A lot of traditions are dumb.  <—– OK, that wasn’t a very mature sentence, but it’s true.  Roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving because it’s “tradition?”  Ick.  I can be just as thankful (and a whole lot more gastronomically satisfied) with a big plate of spaghetti and meatballs.  So why do I stress out about making a bird every year? Beats me.  Sure, there are a few, very meaningful traditions in my family which I love – but what I would really love is to ditch the dumb ones that drag me down and make the holidays drudgery.

They’re so darn long.  Why, oh why do we need to start celebrating one holiday after another with no break whatsoever starting on October 15th?  Seriously, two and a half months of anything will get old.  And the holidays are no different.  The retail chains and box stores may be a lost cause when it comes to shortening the holiday season, but at least I can resist celebrating Christmas until at least December.  Better yet, December 24th.

Bah humbug.

Click here for more tips for managing holiday stress.

Click here for more about why the holidays are tough.

Click here for more about surviving the holidays with flair.




Elf on the Shelf: Cool or Creepy?

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 4.27.56 PM

Am I the last mother on Earth not to adopt Elf on the Shelf as a holiday season behavioral management tool?  I think I may be.

I don’t actually own an Elf on the Shelf, so I am no expert, but the whole idea seems a little bit creepy to me.  A doll that watches your every move, reports everything back to Santa, and can’t be touched by humans?  Am I missing something?

From my super-scientific Facebook research I notice that many of my friends and colleagues use EOTS to help their kids stay in line during holiday season.  And it looks like parents also have fun finding a place for him to move each night after the kids are in bed.  Here are some thoughts:

The psychologist (and Scrooge) in me says: This is not a good thing.  Not only is the idea of a little elf running around the house, and then flying up to the North Pole and back scary for kids (and adults, eek!), but lying to our kids and coercing them into good behavior with the threat of being exposed to Santa? – this can’t be a psychologically healthy parenting tool!  And don’t even get me started on Santa himself: what are we telling our kids anyway? Stay away from strangers all year, except this large guy whose face is obscured by all manner of facial hair.  And kids, don’t just talk to him, sit on his lap and whisper in his ear about all the material things you want but probably can’t afford and certainly don’t need. Blech.

The parent in me says: This sounds like a lot of work.  So on top of everything else this month I have to remember to move this little guy around…or else?  After asking my kids their thoughts, #1 says she thought it would be creepy, too.  She even wondered aloud how scary it would be to have something roaming around in the house while we were all asleep.  Child #2 says we NNEEEEEEDD an Elf on the Shelf because everyone else has one, and she would probably have perfect behavior if we had one too.  Doubtful.  Child #3 had no comment.

So, EOTS-practicing parents, what are your thoughts?  What am I missing?  Help me understand why this little guy has become a December staple!  Better yet, send me your best EOTS pictures and I will post them here.



Please send pictures to stephanie@drstephaniesmith.com or post on my Facebook wall

Elf at play

Elf at play

Injured Elf

Injured Elf

Healed Elf

Healed Elf



Why the Holidays Are Tough

I hate to be bah-humbug about it, but the holidays suck are tough.  Every year around this time my mood fluctuates like crazy, and I can tell the people around me are feeling the same way.  I’ve written about holiday stress many times before, but this year I really tried to stop and think about WHY the holidays are so hard for so many of us.  Beyond offering tips for coping with holiday turmoil, here’s my best guess as to why this season can stink (to put it mildly):


Perhaps in the “good old days” the holiday season meant spending time with loved ones and enjoying the meaning of the season (whatever the meaning might have been).  But these days, it feels like it has become the season of measuring up:

  • Do you have enough money to by your sweetie the diamonds, luxury cars, and furs shown on TV ads?
  • Have you decorated your house with hand-dyed partridge feathers and spiced citrus?
  • Do have a perpetually-smiling brood of 4 or 5 who love to play Parcheesi and giggle while sipping on homemade cider?


Well, guess what? Me neither.  And I am here to tell you that no one measures up to those kinds of standards.  Not even Ms. Martha Stewart herself would come out on top with the above as goals.  So, let’s put an end to this measuring-up, and deal with ourselves, our family, our friends, and our finances for who and what they are: imperfect.  I propose that we simply do our best to get through this month with our mental health intact.  Happy Holidays!