Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to FAMILY Magazine

It is once again FAMILY Magazine’s Birthday! Just like a parent watching a child grow up, it is hard to believe that so much time has passed since we started FAMILY Magazine in the basement of my home. This year marks the 20th year for our publication and it has been a fantastic journey so far. This has been a team effort, and I have been fortunate to have some GREAT team members along the way. Thanks to all who have worked with and supported FAMILY Magazine.

All year long we are celebrating our 20th Anniversary. I certainly hope you are participating in the great contests every month on Facebook. So far, we have given away $600 in cash and a terrific digital camera. This month we are giving away CASH again, but in a more fun way.

We are having a party! And at the party we will be passing out CASH. What fun! But to find out about the party – where and when – you have to fan us on Facebook. And to get the secret code to win some money, you have to be signed up for our eNewsletter. This is going to be a sort of a scavenger hunt for the cash!

TO MAKE IT EVEN MORE FUN, the more people who fan us on Facebook, the more cash we will give out. So sign up NOW, have your friends sign up, and be sure to come to the party. Find us at We will be sharing the details with our fans. And, watch our eNewsletter for clues on where the party will be.

Although April is going to be a very fun month for all of us at FAMILY Magazine, I have some personal sadness I want to share so you can all send positive thoughts my way. If you were a reader of FAMILY Magazine in the past, you know that my son, BJ, has been on 2 deployments to the Middle East. In 2008, he celebrated his birthday in Iraq. That year I baked angel food cakes and shipped them over to him. This is a picture is BJ celebrating with his cakes. Our traditional family birthday cake is an angel food cake with vanilla icing. The icing recipe is the same one we use for our annual Christmas cookies and belonged to my husband’s grandmother.

Sadly for me (although he is excited), BJ is shipping out to the mountains of Afghanistan in June. He will be spending his birthday this April training for his third deployment. I will be able to spend 4 days with BJ on Mother’s Day. I am really looking forward to some personal time with him before he leaves.

On April 30, his birthday, please send your positive thoughts to BJ. And, if you are a long time reader of FAMILY Magazine, you will remember that BJ loves vanilla birthday cakes, so send him your thoughts in vanilla! I know he will want to share his birthday cakes with his team, so I am already planning how I will ship several cakes to him this year while they are training for their deployment. At least he won’t have to worry about getting sand in the icing this year.

Happy Parenting, Brenda

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Talk to Your Kids

Did you know that March is “Talk to Your Kids About Sex” Month? I wonder why March was chosen as this month of sexual conversation. I had forgotten that March had this theme until recently when my oldest daughter reminded me of a story.

The magazine was just a year old when we ran an article on how you should engage your children in conversation at the dinner table. I thought this was a great idea, so every night at the dinner table, I would engage the kids in talking about current events and news items.

One day, I heard a news item about a school system that was going to pass out condoms to high school students without permission from their parents. At this particular time, we had one child in high school, one in middle school and our youngest was in first grade. My oldest daughter was already off to college.

I thought this news item might create some lively conversation, so at the dinner table, I asked the kids what they thought about this. Our high schooler (who is also the most liberal person in the family) thought it was a great idea. High school kids should have control over their lives and make their own decisions. Our middle schooler (who is the most conservative in the family) was outraged. Parents should make those decisions and the schools should not step in. After this exchange our first grader raised her hand (like a dutiful first grader) and asked, “What is a condom?”

I was stunned. In my haste to create conversation, I had forgotten that she might not know about condoms. I can still remember the panic I felt at that instant. What do I say? How do I explain this at the dinner table? Help!

As my husband will tell you, I am not known for thinking fast on my feet. I like to mull things over and come up with solutions. He can beat me in a debate any day of the week. But at this moment, when it was important, I had a stroke of genius.

One of the tricks of parenting is to first find out how much they know. That will tell you a lot and help you answer many questions. So I asked her, “What do you think it is?”

She said, “All those houses in a row.”

And, I answered, “Yes” and, promptly changed the subject.

This experience is very funny in retrospect, but at the time I felt like I had dodged a bullet. But the best thing about it was that WASHFM had a contest just a couple years later for the funniest family story. And we won! The prize was a week’s vacation at Disney World. We had a great time that week and every time I tell the story, I still chuckle.

So, remember this March to talk to your kids about sex. You don’t have to talk about it all month, as they probably would not like that. Having a month set aside with this theme might be a good way to keep this important conversation top of mind.

Happy Parenting,


Saturday, March 5, 2011

What do we expect from leaders?

Meg Garlinghouse , Head of Employment Branding and Community at LinkedIn wrote recently about a visit to the Mountain View campus of LinkedIn by world-renowned author teacher and thinker Deepak Chopra. I thought his words were interesting and offered me a chance to evaluate my leadership at FAMILY Magazine. We may be a small company, but the idea struck home for even our small staff.

Ms. Garlinghouse wrote, “Deepak contends that the best way to empower employees is to focus on their strengths. He cited Gallup research that shows that the four most important things people expect of their leaders are hope, compassion, trust and stability.

He spoke about how good leaders take calculated risks that comes from a deeper understanding of context, meaning and relationship. The most important thing, Deepak said, is living up to your values, being responsible for feedback and maintaining good health."

“If you focus on success, you’ll have stress,” Deepak said. “But if you pursue excellence, success will be guaranteed.”

Those were inspiring words for me. I am going to focus more on excellence and let the rest follow. Any comments out there?