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When a Tragedy Becomes a Teachable Moment

In an ideal world, I would stick my kids in a bubble.  They’d be surrounded by only lovable people who have their very best interests in mind; who would never hurt them or make them sad; who would treat them as if they were their own.  But, sadly, I know that this ideal world would not be good for them.  It’s not real-life, and the lessons they need to learn in order to become well-adjusted, kind adults will not fester in that bubble.

An innocent child in my state was killed today.

She was last seen riding her bike to a friends house in pure daylight over the weekend.  It’s all over the news–her community came out and searched for her, and today her body was found.  It’s absolutely disgusting to think that another human could do this, and to a child nonetheless.

At first, I prayed my children–my son in particular–would not hear about this tragedy.  How can you even begin to explain that someone killed a child to a child?  I didn’t want to scare him, but him and his sister truly need to understand the concept of stranger-danger.

Sometimes I think they “yes” me in order to get on with what they want to do–like riding their own bikes with their friends.  I’ve told them both many, many times that they can not speak to strangers.  I’ve given them the whole “hey-kid-I-have-some-candy-for-you” scenario to see how they would react (to which my daughter very innocently told me she would not go to the car for candy but if it was icing, well, maybe then she would!)

After thinking about whether or not to have the conversation with them, I decided that it came down to my own children’s characters.  My son is very trusting, and my daughter is very daring.  I decided to sit them both down tonight to tell them about this tragedy, and to use it as a teachable moment to reinforce how important it is to never be alone, to always be with a buddy, and to never. ever. EVER. talk to strangers.

It was a horribly tough conversation.

I told them that if someone they did not know was trying to get their attention and they were uncomfortable, that they had my permission to yell things like “Stranger!” or “Help!” or “No!”  I assured them both that they would not get in trouble for assuming someone was a stranger.

My kids were definitely both nervous going to bed tonight, which put a pit in my stomach wondering if I did the right thing by telling them.  But, I really do think it was important to reinforce this huge safety concern, and to then reinforce how they are surrounded by people who love and care for them deeply, and that they don’t need to be scared–they need to be safe.

Where do you stand on this?  Did you/would you tell your children about this tragedy?  If so, what did you tell them?  If not, what was your reasoning why? 

in Featured

13 in ’13

I’ve always believed New Year’s Resolutions were a set up, so I’ve never made one.  Instead, I always opt to make a list of things I’d like to accomplish for the year–a bucket list of sorts–which provides me with enthusiasm for the twelve months of blank, white canvas just waiting for me to paint with colorful memories that lie ahead. None of them are huge life-changing tasks, just little things I’d like to be more conscious about over the coming year.

So, here goes.

1.  Start taking vitamins again, and stick with it!  There have been a few times in my adult life where I’ve been good with taking vitamins, and I noticed a difference almost instantly.  I am a chicken finger kinda girl, so I know I can’t rely on my diet to give my body all it needs, and between that and the growing demands of my life as a single working mom, I am easily exhausted.  Recently, I started having a GNC’s Womens Ultra Mega Maximum Nutrition shake once a day as a meal replacement first thing in the morning.  It’s not all that bad, and it’s an easy way for me to get a decent amount of vitamins & minerals.  I would like to add a Pro-biotic to my supplements, as well as more Vitamin D.

2.  Shake my ass, & get paid to do it!  I gave up teaching back in the Summer when I just could not manage juggling one more thing.   I miss teaching Zumba more than I ever thought was possible and I am determined to squeeze just one class into my schedule this year.

3.  Take my kids on a small trip each season!  I’m thinking skiing/tubing this Winter, camping this Spring, Baltimore Inner Harbor this summer, and maybe Hershey Park in the Fall.  I was originally thinking of surprising them with a Disney vacation, but to be honest, I feel like I’d rather spread out our getaways so that I have something special to look forward to with them every few months.  I miss them terribly these days and crave quality time with them.  There is so much I want to experience with them.

4.  Watch TV Regularly!  You may think this is an absurd “goal” but hear me out.  Mindless television is such a great way to clear your mind and wind down at the end of the day.  I tend to go non-stop all day long, and I have a very hard time putting away my work at night.  I want to get back into getting involved in story lines so I can push aside my own.  Even if just for a few hours a week.

5.  Get another tattoo! 

6.  Change up my decor!  I’m ready for some changes, and I am determined to grab a page from a friend of mines book and get the Pottery Barn look I adore through great steals on Craigslist!  I’ve been “country” for 10 years, and I am ready for some simplicity, some deep colors and clean lines.  I’m ready for my style to “grow up.”  I blame Pinterest for this.

7.  Keep my body exactly the same!  Sure, I’d love to be a bit firmer all over, and I wouldn’t throw a temper tantrum if I lost a few pounds, but for the most part I’m thrilled that at 32 years old with two kids and a fu&king crazy life that I can fit into a size 4.  And at 32 years old with two kids and a fu%king crazy life, keeping it this way is actually a challenge.

8.  Change my relationship status on Facebook!  I didn’t broadcast my marital problems on Facebook last year, and as a matter fact, I googled “how-to-privately-change-your-relationship-status” just so that no one would be alerted to my divorce in their newsfeed.  I wasn’t hiding it; it just wasn’t anyone’s business.  I didn’t want to shout from the rooftops that I was getting divorced.  But, what I do want to shout from the rooftops is that I am in a relationship with the most amazing man I’ve ever met.  Our relationship makes me giddy daily, and I am excited to become more open about him this year.

9.  Wear high heels more often!  I stand taller, walk more confidently and feel thinner when I wear heels….so why wouldn’t I want to wear them more often!?  I just need to find a pair that can be a go-to on days where I’m just doing mom-duties, as opposed to being in the office.

10.  Go back to Church.  I’m quite sure this has been on my list for the past 4 years, yet it’s the one thing that carries over to the new year undone. I think what I am going to do differently, though, is to redefine the word “church.”  I just want to find my faith this year.

11.  Clean out my closet/s!  I want to unload the junk in all my trunks.  If I moved something more than once and it hasn’t been used, it’s trash.  If I haven’t worn it in the past year, it’s trash.  If I don’t know what it really does, it’s trash.  And, by “trash” I do mean trashed, donated, or sold on eBay for some extra loot to buy more shit I’ll probably never use.

12.  Grow my business–the business I’ve spent four years slowly building through this blog!  What started out as a way for me to vent about my life as the “CEO” of my family has blossomed into so much more for me.  I’ve grown a resume of experience in social media, and marketing.  I’ve worked with some highly recognizable brands, and I’ve made great connections with women doing exactly what I want to do.  It’s time to combine what I’ve learned and really do something with it.

13.  Nurture the important relationships in my life.  Make time for my sisters.  Have lunch with my mom.  Call my Dad.  Have sleepovers with my cousins.  Play Bunko with my girlfriends.  Visit family out of town.  Have drinks with co-workers.  Read to my children.  Write thank you notes.

How about you?  Is there anything on my list that you would put on yours?   

in Featured, Lifestyle

This too shall pass?

My mom shared this video clip on Facebook today.

In some ways, it was so sweet it made my tooth ache.

In other ways, it made me want to stick pencils in my eye sockets and pull my hair out while while screaming obscenities at the top of my lungs.

Am I ever going to stop feeling like I got totally freakin’ jipped out of something that every little girl dreams about from the moment she plays dress-up with her fitted sheet for a veil?  Am I ever going to stop feeling robbed of that special lifelong memory of a wedding day?

I have to assume that all divorcees feel this way for a certain period of time.

It’s got to be normal.

I think the reason it bothers me so much is because I am a hopeless romantic at heart.  Like most little girls, I started planning my wedding day before I was even boy crazy.

LIGHTBULB!

Maybe that’s the problem.  Maybe we, as a society, glorify being a bride too much at too young of an age.  I know that I’ve encouraged my daughter to play “Bride” yet in the same hour tell her she is too young to like boys.  Is that sending a message to her that being a “Bride” is what matters most?

in Featured

A Serious Case of Mommy-Guilt

These days, it doesn’t take much for me to be overcome with mommy-guilt.  I’m constantly worrying about if I am spending enough quality time with my kids, and feeling guilty for forgetting to put love notes into Buckaroo’s lunch box every day.  But, one short statement my son made the other day pushed my mommy-guilt into the red.

He said:
“Mommy, our house doesn’t look like Fall.”

Bullet. To. The. Heart.

What I felt like saying was “No-shit-it-doesn’t-look-like-Fall! Be-lucky-Mommy-even-knows-what-day-it-is!”  But instead I said, “Yeah, Buddy. I know.  Mommy will take care of that.”

The hectic-ness of my “new” life has made certain things–like decorating my house–take a back seat.  But, obviously it’s something the kids notice and I want them to pull up to our house and feel like they are “home”–and not for nothing, I want that feeling too.  I used to put thought into decorating my entryway, and hanging flags for each season.  I used to have all sorts of clingy decorations on the windows, and twinkling white lights outside on my porch.  Now that things are settling down around here, I think it’s about time to find that creative bone and get to it.  Because, seriously, I don’t think this is cutting it:

Today, I have landscapers here doing a major clean-up on my yard–pulling mounds of overgrown weeds, trimming trees, and sweeping leaves.  After having a “pep-talk” with a dear friend, I’ve come to terms with the fact that flowers are not my friend {or should I say, I am not theirfriend} so in a little while, I will run off to Home Goods and Lowes to find some already-dead and fake Fall decorations.

It is my goal that, this weekend, I will transform my ho-hum-house into a happy-harvest-home.

in Featured, Lifestyle, Parenting

Save Your Sanity on School Mornings

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

It’s saves my sanity on school mornings.
It’s cheap and easy to use.
And it even makes me look like a superhero some mornings.

Run–don’t walk–over to Target to grab a 6-shelf hanging closet organizer, like this Michael Graves one that’s on sale this week for just $12.99.  Buy one for each of your school-aged kids and you are on your way to easy mornings, even if you don’t have the luxury of finishing your cup of coffee before the morning rush begins.

On Sunday night, I take a few minutes to check the weather for the week, and I proceed to then fill the sections with an outfit–complete with socks, underwear, and hair bows–for almost the entire week.  I leave one “free” day {usually gym or art day} where I only pack underwear and socks–because, seriously, my kids could skip those two entirely and be okay with it!  I usually call the kids in to see their outfits as a chance for them to “approve” their wardrobe for the week {at the most, mine may decide to swap days!}

They understand our system and know that there is no chance of wasting time spending an extra 15 minutes having “nothing to wear.”  And I don’t have to be bothered with fielding the whining about not liking their outfits before my coffee kicks in.

What about the free day? 
This is where I feel like a superhero.  I get to be lazy and not choose one outfit, and then I get to use that to my advantage all week!  Even though they start the week with this free spot, they need to earn to in order to keep it.  And they know that arguing with me about an outfit they “approved” on Sunday night is grounds for me taking away their free day.  My kids really enjoy having the creativity of putting together funky outfits, so taking away  this independent activity is actually a punishment that works in my house.

Even more! 
As soon as your kids come home with their class schedules, you can also label each section with the special classes they have each day so that you don’t forget when they need to wear things like sneakers for gym, or bring in their library books {my kids actually place their library books into the day of the week section when they are done reading it!}.  Another great way to save your sanity on school mornings!

in Featured

Puppies 4 Sale?!

A quick errand to my local CVS provided me with loads of laughter yesterday.

The kids and I were busy running Back-to-School errands, one of which included picking up a prescription at the pharmacy.  Short on time, I hit up the drive-thru at CVS.  As we pulled into the drive-thru line, the car in front of us was getting a puppy handed to them from the pharmacist behind the window.

“Look mom, they are giving away puppies today!!”
“This the the best day ever!!”
“I wonder what kind of puppy they will give us?”

As we pulled up to the window, they were yelling from the back seat to the pharmacist in excitement.  I felt so bad bursting their little bubbles, even though by that time both myself and the pharmacist were hysterical laughing ourselves.  Their excitement was contagious and so genuine–it was as if they were about to receive the most perfect surprise for no reason other than we were next in the drive-thru line.

in Featured

#Snacks4WimpyKid Dog Days of Summer

We are in the midst of the dog days of summer – shuffling back to school preparations with sneaking in every last thing we wanted to check off our summer fun list, and we can all use a break around here! The kids and I took advantage of a rainy morning to do just that – we curled up to a movie to relax our minds and enjoyed a healthy snack to get our nutritious eating back on track in time for the Fall!

I treated the kids to a copy of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid during a recent “Back to School Shopping” trip to Walmart. During the school year, I’m a huge fan of tossing Del Monte Fruit Cups into their lunchboxes because these all natural, perfectly proportioned fruit cups are a great way for me to know I’ve put something healthy into their bodies during their school day. And at just $2.00 for a pack of 4 at Walmart, they are very affordable.

I recently discovered that Del Monte was hosting a Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days of Summer contest on their Facebook page where your kids can use their app “Wimp Yourself” to draw their own version of themselves in true “DOAWK” fashion!

The grand prize winner will actually receive a hand-drawn sketch of a family portrait by Jeff Kinney, valued at $250, and they will also award 25 first place winners with free Del Monte Fruit Cups for a year!

Buckaroo took his time testing out Wimp Yourself and came up with these two fabulous Diary of a Wimpy Kid versions of himself…which do YOU like best?

After carefully illustrating himself and entering into the contest, we all sat down with our Del Monte fruit cups and enjoyed some much needed family time.  And because we are still in summer mode, a trip to the ice cream store followed!  Hey–we tried!  We will all slowly return to our healthy back to school selves in about three weeks!

For more information on you can enter the Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days contest, visit Del Monte on Facebook and Twitter.

THIS SHOP HAS BEEN COMPENSATED AS PART OF A SOCIAL SHOPPER INSIGHTS STUDY FOR
COLLECTIVE BIAS AND DEL MONTE FOODS #CBIAS.  ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN. 
in Featured

Chipping Away at my “Things I’ve Never Done” List…

Back in November, a Writers Workshop assignment prompted me to post a list of 22 things I had yet to do in life. I sit here, a little over 8 months later, and that list is officially down to 10 things left!!

1.  I’ve never gotten a tattoo.  {My two sisters & I are going to be doing this in the Spring, though!}

Take a peek at my official first ink {note “first” – loved the feeling so much that I am planning my next one!}

2. I’ve never been to Vegas.  Always wanted to, never had the chance.

3. I’ve never driven a convertible.  I’ve been in one, but never had the chance to drive one myself.

So. Much. Fun.

4. I’ve never seen a West Coast sunset.

5. I’ve never been a stand-up comedian.  This is seriously something I’d love to attempt to do. I love to make people laugh, and I have no problem telling jokes at my own expense.  This could be a total hoot!

6. I’ve never paid someone to clean my house.  Who wouldn’t dream about hiring a maid at some point in their life!?

Ok, so, I didn’t exactly have to pay for this but I did get a chance to review a local cleaning company for my other website. And, it’s safe to say that I’ll never hire a maid again.  I prefer to clean my own house thankyouverymuch.

7. I’ve never spent more than $100 on a pair of shoes.

Um….what to say.  Since November, I’ve accomplished this twice.  They were on sale AND I had an additional coupon each time but still…

8. I’ve never flown overseas. If I had my choice, I’d visit France.  Sipping tea with Princess Kate would be a close second.

9. I’ve never gotten so drunk that I didn’t remember the night. Maybe I can combine this with Vegas & make a mom version of “The Hangover.”!?

10. I’ve never seen Male Dancers. When my sister Kelly gets engaged, I am totally booking her some raunchy, hot male dancers purely for the sake of this list. You know, because I had to.

“Magic Mike” was enough for me.  More than enough.  Unless, of course, Channing Tatum brings it to Broadway then, yes, you bet your hot ass I’m buying front row seats to that.

11. I’ve never read “The Notebook.” I’ve seen the movie like a gazillion times but I’ve never actually sat down and read the book.  I’ve wanted to.

12. I’ve never gone skinny dipping.

13. I’ve never seen a horror flick.

14. I’ve never made out with Brad Pitt.

15. Or George Clooney.

16. Or Jude Law {major swoon!}

They all couldn’t even compete at this point…

17. I’ve never been to Ground Zero.

18. I’ve never ran a race.

Still haven’t actually ran one, but I did train for a half-marathon.  And we did run a celebratory “race” which ended with us drinking beer in a sleezy bar in Seaside Heights, NJ at 10:30am.

19. I’ve never published a book.

It’s totally under way – and mark my words….BEST SELLER.

20. I’ve never kissed passionately in the rain like in a scene out of a chick flick.

Um, yes please.

21. I’ve never invented something new.

22. I’ve never won the lottery

Or have I?

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