Five things to make 2017 better

I like to start off the New Year with resolutions in mind and a clean slate of sorts. Having inherited a bit of my mother’s superstitions about the importance of “newness” in the New Year, I try to

  1. Alexa: We’ve heard about Siri for years, but my family recently got acquainted with Alexa in late November when we got an Amazon Echo and Echo Dot during Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. It was love at first command. If anything, I’m the one who is most likely to mess up using the virtual assistant, because I often to forget to say her name first and will accidentally say something like “What’s the weather like, Alexa?” which always makes my kids laugh. “No, mama. You have to say her name FIRST.” Anyhow, we talk to her frequently, asking her for the time, the weather, to play songs, to convert food measurements, to settle debates, to give us the day’s news roundup, to order items via Amazon Prime, and more.
  2. A Good “Mom” bag: Here in Montgomery County, bags aren’t free, so I need an everyday bag that not only accommodates my essentials (wallet, phone, notebook, small cosmetics bag, water bottle) but also a quick shop and whatever random stuff my kids might pass onto me on any given day. SCOUT sent me their Pocket Rocket Tote to try out, so I decided to give it a try. It’s got SIX deep pockets that can hold water bottles, toys, devices, balls, you name it. And the inside recently fit all of my things, my daughter’s things and about a dozen folded/small purchased items.
  3. Snack Subscription: We want to try healthier snacks beyond what’s offered at Trader Joe’s or Costco, so we’re trying to mix things up with occasional subscription boxes like the Jerky Boxes from People’s Choice Beef Jerky. My husband and son, the resident jerky experts, tried and deemed indeed worthy of the name. In fact, my son takes so much jerky on a week-long backpacking trip through the AT each summer that he wants to make sure he’s fully stocked with the Teriyaki and Original jerky from the family-owned jerky company in Los Angeles. We also recommend Try the World, which had a limited three-for-one special around the holidays. It themes each box with treats from a different country. Our boxes were curated from Brazil, Portugal & Michelin-starred foods. If you join through this referral, you will receive one extra box for free.
  4. Fitness Tracker: So far, I’ve used my new fitness and activity tracker, the Garmin Vivosmart HR, every day, and it’s great. I did a ton of research, reading professional and user reviews and decided that as much as I preferred the UP3 and Fitbit’s style, I wanted a tracker I didn’t have to take off in the shower or in the pool.
  5. Mindfulness App: One of the participants in the Wellness Challenged I joined recommended an App called Headspace, and you can try it for free for 10 days. I tried it for one day and instantly fell in love with the instructor Andy Puddicombe’s voice. It’s so calming (and British). He is not only a mindfulness expert but an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk! But I found a couple of promos that offered three months’ off an annual subscription and decided to use some Christmas money (don’t laugh, but my husband’s aunt gives us a check to spend as we please, to treat myself to the gift of mindfulness). The promo code is “CALMAGAIN,” but I don’t know how long it will last.