Third Year Running With Our Family’s Memory Jar!

Since I received some cool comments, questions and messages on my Facebook pages about our family’s recent tradition of having a memory jar, here is what it is all about.  memory jarWe simply set out an empty jar on the first day of the year.  Through the year, each of us slips in little papers listing a favorite memory.  Then on New Year’s Day, we open the jar and go through the memories.  Such fun!  I must admit that my family doesn’t embrace it as much as I do, but that’s OK. They don’t all put memories in the jar every year and this year, in fact, I was the only one who placed those little papers in the glass jar.  They did in previous years, but this year was all my little notes, but the memories belong to all of us and that is what counts.  memory jar 2015And the end result is always the same.  We go through each paper, we laugh, we remember and we are thankful to have that little jar go from empty to full in the 12 busy months that always fly by.

There are the sad and challenging memories from the last 12 months, too….but the jar isn’t about that.  It is about taking one last look back at the previous year and remembering a day, a trip, an achievement, a moment that made us smile, laugh and reflect.  I sure cherish those memories.

Then letting those slips of paper go and putting a once again empty jar on the counter is sort of a cleansing, a reminder that it is time for a new year with new goals, busy days ahead and to remember to make time to create more memories.

As we start our 2016 engines, rev up and head back out there into that part of life called time, that magical and sometimes stressful word that we can’t get back. I remember holding my newborn son 18 years ago and struggling with the thought of how I would balance a new baby and a busy career.  My Mom told me that I would know the answers as I progressed through this new journey of motherhood, but to remember that the one thing we can’t get back is time.  So true and such wise words. Every year brings joys and every year brings heartbreaks.  Sometimes it is those moments in between that unexpectedly end up in the jar.

memories on papersAn example of that is the red slip of paper that says “Hot tub 7am w/ John” and a smiley face is also noted. On that day, we allowed our firstborn to drive his car on a road trip to California with friends. Two parent chaperones were also going (which is why we said yes) but we still felt our nerves get the best of us after he departed that morning at 6am.  We both agreed that we couldn’t go back to sleep and that we were tempted to sit around and worry.  So hubs fired up our brand new hot tub, made us morning cocktails (why not…it was our Spring break, too!) and we found ourselves chatting, laughing and enjoying the spa as we ventured through this next phase of parenting called letting go.  We ended up having a blast that morning and when our daughter joined us an hour later, it just had to go in the memory jar.

So there are no rules to this memory jar thing.  You can do it how you want to do it and you may find overwhelming enthusiasm or you may discover that only your handwriting made the jar.  But the end result has been pretty consistent for us.  We open that jar and laugh and my family especially loves to tease me upon discovering that I not only repeat myself verbally, but yes…more than once…on paper as duplicate memories made the jar!  They think that is hilarious!

So give it a try if your family is inclined to try this tradition.  And may your jar be full come next January 1st, 2017.  Just think of the memories that can be made in the next 365 days!

Happy New Year!


Holiday Shopping & Kids: Toys, Technology & Trade-offs

Manic:  The holiday gift wish list from kids with requests for all kinds of electronic items from conversing dolls to elaborate gaming devices and more.  To further complicate things, age appropriateness must also be considered.  Toys are not simple play things like they were when I was a child back in the late 60s and early 70s.

Managed:  Guest writer and licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Lisa Strohman shares important and valuable advice on how to make that parenting purchasing decision when it comes to selecting gifts for the kids. Before you hit the stores, read her helpful tips first….

Dr. Lisa Strohman says:

Lisa & book






      Toys, Technology & Trade-offs

tree gifts
The holidays are here.  Before being swayed by pleading requests for the latest new gaming device, I urge parents to consider their children’s age and what is appropriate for their developmental stage.

Play helps children grow, learn, and thrive. It is also extremely important for healthy physical, social, emotional and cognitive development. It is through play that children develop their gross and fine motor skills. They gain confidence, decision-making skills and acquire critical thinking skills that will prepare them for adulthood.

This year’s trends in technological based toys appear to be toys that talk, tablets that “grow up” with kids, and robotics that allow children to build. There’s even a new line of dolls that mimic lifelike conversations. While it may sound like a cool feature, these dolls aren’t appropriate for little ones that don’t understand the difference between real and pretend.

The latest gadgets and gizmos are in high demand, but traditional toys often do more to develop healthy minds and bodies. Considering the developmental stage of the child is most important when deciding what is best to for holiday gifts.

Not sure where to begin? Fear not, I’ve compiled a list of suggestions:

For young infant to toddler

  • Toys to reach for, hold, suck, shake and make noise—rattles, large rings, squeeze toys, teething toys, soft dolls, textured balls, and vinyl and board books
  • Listening—books with nursery rhymes and poems, and recordings of lullabies and simple songs
  • Visual mobiles to hang over the crib or car seat that promote interaction and the beginning of eye-hand coordination
  • Toys encouraging imaginary play—baby dolls, puppets, plastic and wood vehicles, building blocks
  • Items that promote motor skills—plastic bowls, large beads, balls, and nesting toys, and, push and pull toys

For toddler through elementary

  • Toys that teach problem solving —wood puzzles, blocks that snap together, objects to sort, and things with hooks, buttons, buckles, and snaps
  • Creative & active play — child-sized kitchen sets, chairs, play food, dress-up clothes, dolls with accessories, ride on equipment 3yrs+, tunnels, sand and water toys sand box
  • For the aspiring artist and fine motor skill development—non-toxic art supplies, paper, child scissors, chalkboard and rhythm instruments
  • To build vocabulary and attention – Picture books short stories, word play games and board gamesAlphabet Book

For Tweens and teens

  • Series books that encourage a connection and more reading
  • Gaming systems with age appropriate, educational games – along with house rules limiting access and time
  • Sports equipment – goal posts, pitch-back trainers, a basketball hoop, a new bikeon bikes
  • Life experiences – tickets to a game or concert , a special outing to a new place

If a tablet or phone is on the list, establish a family contract with rules for use. Other electronics like CD and DVD players can provide entertainment, but remember to keep all electronics out of kids’ bedrooms. Tech toys, games and gadgets can be fun, but starting down this path too early and without rules can deprive children of valuable learning and development.


About our guest writer:

Dr. Lisa Strohman is a Scottsdale-based clinical psychologist and the founder and director of Technology Wellness Center, which provides online resources and expert support to parents. Her first book, Unplug: Raising Kids in a Technology Addicted World was published earlier this year. Dr. Lisa frequently speaks at schools and to parent groups on topics related to children and technology and what parents and educators need to know. She is also a regular guest on Dr. Drew’s radio show and frequently interviewed by the media about technology and child safety. Dr. Lisa’s most important job is mother to her daughter and son, both now in elementary school. To learn more about Dr. Lisa visit her website


Our Harris Home Cats Featured In Magazine Article!

Our household has four fab felines who recently became celebrities with a magazine article all about them!  Yes, Tucker, Stanley, Lucy and Sadie are the star of the show this month.mag spreadFoothills Living Magazine writer Stephanie Hayden asked to interview our four very spoiled furry family members and the cats gave me their blessing to speak on their behalf.  The article is now running in the November issue of Foothills Living Magazine and the kitties would be disappointed if their proud cat mom didn’t share it here in my blog, so take a look and remember to also be thankful for the pets in our lives during this holiday season.  Four cats can be a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but they give us a lot of laughs and love.  How exactly did we end up with 4 of them, two boys and two girls?!  The answer is here in the short and fun article about our spoiled kitty cats….

Page 1 Picture

1st page picsPage 1 Text

page 1 cats

page 2 cats

page 3 cats

last page picsThat is our kitty story and the kitties are sticking to it!  A big thank you to Stephanie Hayden for writing such a nice article about the fab feline foursome.  They are more than a little impressed with themselves that they are featured in a magazine this month!  Tell us about your precious pets in the comments section because we are also managed moms to our furry kids, too.

18: A Milestone Birthday & 9 Months To Go

My first born turned 18 today.  And in a quick 9 months (kind of ironic), he will leave us to go to college.

18 and in a beanie for hockey in Flagstaff (a little chilly there) with his Varsity hockey team.

18 and in a beanie for hockey in Flagstaff (a little chilly there) with his Varsity hockey team.

Back in 1997, I anxiously waited 9 months for my first born, my little baby boy to come into the prego with Jack

Now 18 years later, he is anxiously waiting 9 months to go out into the world.


with newborn jackIn August he will leave the nest, a nest that I have carefully and joyfully and tearfully at times, tended to with every ounce of my being.

It’s what parents do, especially Moms.

It really does take my breath away.  It takes my breath away because it is true when they say that the days are long, but the years are short.

It is true when they say don’t blink.  Truly don’t!

Keep your eyes wide open and take it all in, parents.  Jack Christmas at 2 years oldBecause sooner than you think, that little baby will turn 18.  Trust me.  It is like a magic trick just how fast it happens!

1st day of Kindergarten

1st day of Kindergarten


A few years later after a fight cancer fundraising event with his Dad and his hockey team. Before he got taller than his Daddy.

And lucky for me the recurring theme of teenagers being tough to deal with hasn’t been 100% true…don’t get me wrong….he had his moments…like when he took his car off roading all summer, even though we told  him not to do that.  He paid every cent of the $2,000 worth of damage he caused as well!  That was a bummer and his Daddy made him take the school bus to school while his truck was being repaired as well as a few other punishments for being dishonest.  Consequences.

But those challenging teen times also became incredible learning opportunities for our son. And he did choose to learn from, grow from and take those lessons with him as he leaves us soon to go out into the world.  The teen years fly by because they are filled with milestones.  Everytime you turn around, there is another milestone….

1st day of high school

1st day of high school

Learning to drive

Learning to drive

When they get taller than Mom...a milestone

When they get taller than Mom…a milestone

And then quite a bit taller than Mom!

And then quite a bit taller than Mom!

And taller and bigger than Dad!

And taller and bigger than Dad!

And this proud Mama gets to brag a bit on this 18th birthday of his.  This boy of ours is embarking on his spring high school graduation with a 3.9 weighted GPA as he has taken a lot of AP and dual enrollment honors courses.  He scored a 32 on his ACT and a 2000 on the SAT, both really good scores!

He has been offered two academic scholarships so far and is having a terrific time playing on his high school Varsity hockey team and just made the high school all star team.  jack on ice senior yr
He just finished up his senior year with the Varsity high school golf team and he also works at a nearby golf course.Jack DV golf 2014

He is a very nice boyfriend to a very nice young lady and they have been dating for a little over a year.

Homecoming senior year

Homecoming senior year

Perhaps the thing I am most proud of is what a kind heart he sports.  And he is a nice brother.  11-30-2005-019Then and now.

Still very close even now as teens. Such a nice big brother.

Still very close even now as teens. Such a nice big brother.

Just last week after hearing us tell his little sister no to running alone in the mornings, he woke her the next morning to run with her, by her side, so she could try this type of exercise, safely and with a protector and a pal.  Her big brother.

When Jack’s friends have gone through loss or heartache, he lets me know that he needs to go and be with that friend to offer support, a listening ear or just some company for comfort.

When he dog sits, he stays for a while because he wants to be sure that our friend’s pet is getting attention.  Jack just isn’t collecting a check, but he truly cares about the pet that he is responsible for during that time.

I have more examples.  I am a proud Mom.  For me I truly believe that the most important qualities are a kind heart, work ethic and integrity.

18 years later I see these things in our son and that is why I say that he is ready to take on the world.

Jack and his girlfriend, Hannah making me dinner on a day that I was very tired. So nice!

Jack and his girlfriend, Hannah making me dinner on a day that I was very tired. So nice!

Thank you for that, Jack.  Thank you for being a kind family member in our family and for working together with us during the difficult times and the joyful ones, too.

Happy Birthday son!  I can feel that you are ready to leave us soon.  I really can feel it in my bones.

I see it and I feel it.

I now know that I will be ready for that big day in August when the moving truck arrives because, although I am sad….I am more excited for you!

And I can see that you will be ready, too.

Cap and gown pictures for yearbook. This day is coming very soon now. Kind of surreal!

Cap and gown pictures for yearbook. This day is coming very soon now. Kind of surreal!

You have so much ahead of you.  You also have a huge responsibility to make a difference in this very uncertain and unsettled world.

But for now, I am going to ENJOY the NINE months that I have left with you here in our home.  You are a wonderful young man and you have made this Mama very proud.  I love you son.  Happy 18th! my boy on Prom with me

We Are Giving Away A FREE Pogo Pass!

Have you heard of the awesome Pogo Pass?  Pogo Pass is a membership that provides 12 months of FREE access to the best entertainment venues in Phoenix.  Fun places like Pump It Up, Golfland Sunsplash, 2 Dbacks games and more!  A great idea for families looking for entertaining things to do with the kids.

****And this week is giving away one FREE Pogo Pass!****

For your chance to win, simply email your entry to [email protected]!  I just need your name and email address.  

We will do the drawing this Thursday, October 1st through and the winner will be posted on Friday, just in time for Fall Break!  So email me your entry and good luck!  Entries must be received by via email by 5pm on Thursday, October 1st (Arizona time). 

And if you don’t win, you can still save 60% off the $99.95 annual membership fee and get it for only $39.98 by simply clicking here and using the code MANAGEDMOMS.   pogo pass

And a very cool bonus is that Pogo Pass is giving away 11 awesome birthday parties through the end of this month!  One entry per pass sold so if you buy or renew your Pogo Pass by this Wednesday, September 30th, you will be automatically entered into the drawing for a chance to win a free bday party and just look at the cool venues that are participating….
birthday3And just like the sign says, all you have to do is buy or renew a Pogo Pass during the rest of this month (by this Wednesday, September 30th) to be automatically entered to win a fun birthday party!

Now is also a great time to purchase or renew a Pogo Pass since Fall Break is coming!  And remember to purchase your Pogo Pass using my blog code to get 60% off of the membership, which makes it an even better deal!  Just click Pogo Pass and use the code MANAGEDMOMS to get or renew your Pogo Pass for 60% off and to be entered in the drawing to win a FREE birthday party!

And for a chance to win a totally free Pogo Pass remember to email me at [email protected] by this Thursday.

Go for it and good luck! is proud to partner with Pogo Pass and may receive referral fees if applicable. 

Get Organized Tips For The Family To Turn Manic Into Managed

Manic:  Having a family, period!  Balancing schedules, appointments, deadlines and more while trying to keep an organized home is not easy!

Managed:  Implementing some get organized family rules and tools that have helped us to achieve a somewhat organized household…I say somewhat because there is definitely room for improvement, always…but here is what has worked well for us over the years.  I am amazed just how less stressed we are when we work together to be more organized.  Take a look at these ideas and share your ideas in the comments section, too!

More Back To School Easy & Healthy Breakfast Ideas

A healthy waffle sandwich and a yummy yogurt parfait with less sugar are both featured in my recent morning show segment.  Take a look at these kid and mom approved recipes…

AZ Local: Parents & Grandparents Check This Out For Your Child’s Safety

When local mom Lisa Cardinale wrote to me about covering an upcoming event on my blog, I immediately agreed when she told me what it was. During the month of September, families can receive free car seat checks ensuring that the car seats that their kids ride in are properly and safely installed.  This can save lives so here is what you need to know about buckling in your precious cargo from guest writer, Lisa Cardinale.  Some of the statistics she shares are shocking making this a very important thing to know about.

Lisa says:

Precious Cargo On-Board

Larry H. Miller Dealerships to Hold Free Car Seat Checks Every Saturday in September

As a first-time mother to a 4-year old daughter, I was extremely cautious with my baby and took every possible measure to ensure her safety. At eight months pregnant I drove to the Peoria Fire Department and had a trained car seat technician named Tim install her car seat. Still paranoid at the thought of my bundle of joy riding in other people’s cars one day, I came back later with both of my parents’ cars to have Tim properly install their car seats as well.

The fact that nearly seven out of ten car seats are not positioned correctly is extremely alarming, especially considering that traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for children in the United States. Many parents are unaware that there are organizations, such as Safe Kids, that have trained professionals available to inspect and fix current car seat flaws in order to keep children as safe as possible. kids in car seatsAccording to the CDC, by utilizing car seats properly, the risk of an infant’s death during a car accident decreases by 71% and the risk of death to toddlers is reduced by 54%. Those percentages are worth spending a Saturday morning to obtain.

​In honor of National Child Passenger Safety Month, the Larry H. Miller Dealerships will be partnering with Safe Kids and local first responders across the state to provide complimentary seat check events throughout September. IMG_9233The times and dates are as follows:


  • Sept. 5th (9am – noon)
    Peoria (LHM Toyota Peoria) 8633 West Bell Road, Peoria AZ 85382
  • Sept. 12th (9am – noon)
    Surprise (LHM Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram) 13165 North Autoshow Avenue, Surprise, AZ 85388
  • Sept. 19th (9am – noon) *Seat Check Saturday
    Avondale (Between LHM Dodge Ram and LHM Chrysler Jeep) 10101 W. Papago Freeway, Avondale, AZ 85323
  • Tucson (LHM Chrysler Jeep Tucson) 7800 E. 22nd, Tucson, AZ 85710
  • Sept. 26th (9am – noon)
    Mesa (LHM Nissan) 2025 W. Riverview Auto Dr., Mesa, AZ 85201

​During each event, cars will pull up to the covered tents and have their car seats and/or boosters checked for secure and proper placement. Technicians will then educate parents and grandparents about the best and safest ways to buckle children in. Larry H. Miller will provide complimentary food and drinks, plus local radio stations will offer music and entertainment. For more information please visit


Fast & Filling Back to School Breakfast Ideas

Try these easy and healthy ideas to get your kids out the door and fueled up for school.  I tested several fast and filling recipes out on my two teenagers and they worked well and I received a thumbs up! bkfast segHere is my recent morning show segment with these breakfast ideas, so give these a try….

Untitled from Rachel Harris on Vimeo.

Important Steps To Take To Protect Kids From Online Dangers

If you read yesterday’s guest article about understanding the dangers of technology when it comes to our kids in today’s social media and multiple device obsessed world, then you will want to be sure to read today’s post about what steps we can take as parents to reduce the dangers.

Our guest writer, licensed clinical psychologist, Dr. Lisa Strohman outlines the crucial steps we can take as parents to protect our children from the online world where the potential bad guys (and bad gals) can lurk.  It is a scary thought and a real danger that is something that we can’t ignore.

So take a look and ask yourself if you are taking these steps.  I know that I can do better on some of these suggestions.  One thing I would add since I have a 17-year-old and a 13-year-old is to accept that your kids may get mad at you when you ask questions and/or place limits on their technology and device time.  Teens and techToo bad because your action could be a life saving action.  Parenting is not easy, especially in today’s fast paced online world.

Dr. Strohman says:

Lisa & book

Protecting Our Children From Online Dangers

In yesterday’s piece, I outlined two very serious dangers our children are vulnerable to when they have access to the Internet without obstruction – pornography, and the risk of connecting with sex offenders.  On a daily basis, interacting with their peers, they are also more vulnerable to cyberbullying and gaming addictions.

Fortunately, recognizing the dangers is the first step and by taking action parents can minimize the risks. So, how do we protect our children?

  1. Assess the situation

The first thing every parent should do is sit down and have an honest conversation with their child about what the Internet is and its hidden dangers.  Then, assess the level of dependence your child or children may already have on technology. bigstock-Boy-Playing-Game-Console-8012650 (1)The Technology Wellness Center has developed the the TUC©, which is a tool designed for parents to assess their children’s level of risk in the areas of physical, emotional, behavioral and interpersonal health.

  1. Monitor usage

Monitoring your child’s online activities is critical during developmental years. You can download every message they send, check their contacts in their phone, connect with them on social media or utilize a program that alerts parents of the use of various key words. How you monitor and the rules you set is a parenting decision and one that will vary by age. What’s important to understand is that allowing young kids unrestricted access to the Internet is similar to dropping them off at a mall without supervision knowing there could be sociopaths and sex offenders present.

  1. Establish rules

Implementing rules and guidelines on what kids can and can’t do on their devices, when they can use them and why is the last step in protecting your kids online.  Most children are very receptive to mandatory rules that are consistently enforced. No child (that I have met) wants to take out the trash and empty the dishwasher, but they do it when it is an expected part of the daily house rules and it is enforced. Internet rules are no different. If you can talk to your children about what the rules are, why they are in place and how you will be enforcing them, then you will be laying the foundation for protecting your kids from online predators and other technology related threats.

Every family needs to determine what will work for them. The important factor in making it work is maintaining consistency and open, ongoing communication (preferably face-to-face).

Thank you Dr. Strohman for these very helpful tips.  You can meet Dr. Strohman and attend a very beneficial FREE event on August 19th in Scottsdale.  This free parenting seminar for the new school year is called the “Do’s, Don’ts and Dangers of Social Media” and I recommend this for parents.  Plus she will have a book signing immediately following the seminar.  You can get details about that here.  If you would like to attend or get more information, email Dr. Strohman at or call (480)220-4702.

And be sure to check out her helpful book for parents called Unplug Raising Kids in a Technology Addicted World that I highly recommend. Book cover (1)

Thank you to Dr. Strohman for being a valuable resource for parents. I do believe it takes a village and most especially in today’s technology plus 24/7 social media world.  It is a lot for us to naviagate, much less our impressionable kids and teens!