Category:

Girl Mom

Lilly Collins, Netflix, To the Bone, eating disorders, anorexia, To the Bone Realistically Portrays Life with Eating disorders, life with eating disorders

Have you ever watched a movie or seen a show and thought to yourself, “Damn, that’s me! That’s my life!” I know it happens all the time because the human condition is a shared one. We don’t live in a vacuum and life is just a series of conditions, right?

The other day, I watched a movie and I saw me, exactly who I once was and it scared me because, by the way it was written, it was someone else too. Someone else had been where I had been and that made me think again about whether or not my girls might some day go down that same path. It was the Netflix Original To the Bone.

I see me, or rather, who I used to be. The anorexic girl. The one with the conflicted home life. The Unpresent dad, the checked out Mom who tried to help in her own way, while at the same time refusing to admit that there’s a problem at all.

Denial. It where we thrived. My job was to keep my dirty secret. Their job was to pretend it wasn’t happening. I fell through the cracks of a childhood held together by rubber bands and chewing gum.

I was alone, so very alone with my disease. People don’t really want to know when these sorts of things are happening, even if they suspect or even glimpse it with their own eyes, it’s too uncomfortable to discuss; to face head on. So we all pretend it’s not happening. Meanwhile, a child is dying.

READ ALSO: A Day in the Life of a Girl with Eating Disorders

It won’t go away. It doesn’t just stop. Sometimes, the darkness is so enveloping and the loneliness so crippling that you hope they don’t notice. You’d rather just disappear into the abyss without any fanfare or long, drawn out goodbyes. You want to cease to exist and other people’s concern only serves to prolong your agony.

Lilly Collins, Netflix, To the Bone, eating disorders, anorexia, are eating disorders genetic? , raising girls, tweens, eating disorder, bulimarexia, eating disorders, anorexia, weight,Lilly Collins, Netflix, To the Bone, eating disorders, anorexia, To the Bone Realistically Portrays Life with Eating disorders, life with eating disorders

The worst part for me was realizing that I was so good at it. Worse, I was so good at hiding it and it turned me into someone I despised because the only way to survive is to lie. Soon, you’re lying about everything to keep the one secret that you hold dearest to your heart.

There are never good days. It’s just a series of days you control better than others. You are being held at gun point in a prison of your own making; your head. There is no escape. There is no chance for parole. There is just a life sentence and, if you’re lucky, a life lived in daily recovery. Every day, for the rest of your life, you have to choose life because the alternative is that you die. You will literally die.

Though it may seem soothing and tempting, the thought of no longer having to endure; but the fucking guilt of it all is unbearable so every day, you get up, and you make the choice to live or to die.

For 8 years, I restricted and threw up every single day. Every single thing I ate. I threw up. I never binged, unless it was on alcohol and that was more to forget the world of shit I was living in, the complete loss of control and the fact that I was really hungry. I was starving in every sense of the word.

Five years before that, I began dieting. It was my gateway drug to starvation. I was 12-years-old when my journey started. 12, the magical age of awkward bodies caught between a child and a woman. My dad suggested that maybe I needed to “run more”. That was enough especially at that time in adolescence when you gain weight, right before you begin to develop and everything goes to the right place. You know, the exact same age as my daughter is today.

I’ve spent my entire motherhood tenure doing everything I can to not repeat this cycle. Here we are. This precipice that silently scares me to death. I’m constantly looking for all the signs. But I’ve done a good job. She thinks she’s perfect. She loves herself and her body. Then, it happened, beyond my control.

READ ALSO: Tips for Raising Healthy Daughters

As we were leaving the pediatricians office after her well visit last week, our dr was telling the girls where they rank on the charts. My 12-year-old has consistently ranked around the 98th percentile since birth. But this time, the new dr ( a female and girl Mom) told her “your BMI is a little high, so technically you are overweight.

I shot her a death stare as I wanted to murder her on the spot but didn’t want to make a big deal of it in front of the girls. She continued, but that’s to be expected in a girl your age because most girls put on a little weight during puberty before everything goes where it’s supposed to go.

I saw the gut punch on my daughters face. I felt the humiliation of being told that you’re not perfect. Then, I saw her second guess what she’s always known about herself … we she good enough?

I spent the ride home assuring her that the doctor said this was normal at this age. I assured her that she eats right and is very active and an athlete. She trusts me because I’m her mother. She accepted my words. But I know that now, forever, the seed of doubt has been planted and that crushes me.

Words have weight. Thoughts sometimes should be kept inside your head. Actions are forever.

I know there has been some controversy about the movie To the Bone. But coming from someone who knows, I think it was far from making anorexia seem desirable, or acting as if it stems from a desire to “look skinny.” The writing is sensitive but unsparingly real because it comes from personal experience. There were lines in there that only someone who has suffered from eating disorders would say or know. An anorexic can spot another anorexic from a mile away.

It’s the directorial film debut of Marti Noxon, a writer and executive producer on such shows as UnREAL and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and to write To the Bone she drew on her own battle with anorexia. (The film’s credits note that it is based on actual events.) I wouldn’t recommend you show it to your teen daughter but as a parent of a teen girl, or someone who loves someone living with this disorder or even for the girl surviving it…this movie, in my opinion, is a must see.

Have you seen To the Bone and what were your thoughts?

Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team, so I binge a lot of Netflix, but my opinion about To the Bone and my personal experience with eating disorders are all my own.

 

 

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Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign in collaboration with CLEAN & CLEAR and #WeAllGrow Latina Network but all opinions about how to make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen are all my own.

Back-to-school is difficult for parents and kids alike. However, for tweens and teens it’s especially hard. They go away for the summer looking one way and chances are they come back looking completely different. Crazy things happen to their bodies and their faces when all those hormones are surging through their bodies.

They leave school in the spring looking like a kid and return in the fall with a growth spurt, a voice that’s changing, a body that is metamorphosing so much that not even they recognize themselves in the mirror and probably some skin issues. It’s a crazy time of year for so many reasons.

As we prepare to go back to school and get back into our routines, there is a lot of stress. Not just the regular back to school shopping for clothes and supplies but when your child is a tween/teen you have to include shopping to address your child’s skin concerns.

My daughter is 12-years-old and she is changing so fast that I hardly recognize her from one day to the next. That is no exaggeration. Growing from a child into a young lady is hard work. There are so many things going on inside and out that I want to make this time of transition as smooth and easy as possible so I try to help her navigate this time of her life with the least amount of stress and confusion.

Her skin has begun to suffer the effects of the hormonal changes. I don’t think it’s fair that she has to deal with acne on top of all the other changes so I started teaching her how to take care of her skin when she was about 10-years-old, the same age that her little sister is now.

We’ve tried all sorts of different regimens but nothing seems to work. She doesn’t have bad skin per se but she is getting a few small pimples. She’s an athlete; a dancer who performs 6 days a week. Part of dancing is dressing the part and that includes stage makeup which is terrible for her skin. She’s been having breakouts and she is not loving it at all.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

 

Recently, we started using Clean and Clear Morning Burst Facial Cleanser, Deep Action Scrub and Deep Action 60 sec shower mask. They are easy to use and the simple to follow instructions make it easy for my tween to stick to her skin cleansing routine.

 

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

The CLEAN & CLEAR® Morning Burst® Facial is a unique gel cleanser specifically formulated with effective cleansers and vitamin-enriched BURSTING BEADS® to awaken skin. Cleansers gently remove dirt, oil, and impurities, while BURSTING BEADS® with vitamins gently dissolve as you lather to help revive and awaken skin’s look.

Clean and clear, teen, tween, back to school, skin care

Steps for Using product

  • Start with clean hands.
  • Use those clean hands to splash water on your face.
  • Squeeze a small amount of cleanser onto wet palms – a dime-size should do it.
  • Work into a lather. Place the now foamy cleanser onto your face and use your fingertips to gently swirl it around…circles, figure eights…that type of thing.
  • Feel the BURSTING BEADS® start to break apart. Oooh…
  • Rinse your face thoroughly then pat it dry with a towel.

 

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action 60 Second Shower Face Mask is designed to work with the steam of your shower to deeply, but gently exfoliate away traces of dirt, oil and dead skin that can clog pores. You’ll be able to feel the deep clean as the tingling sensation builds, and in just 60 seconds, your skin will look brighter, healthy, and feel refreshed!

Directions: Wet your face then squeeze out a quarter-sized amount of the mask onto your palms.

  • Apply to mask evenly all over your face.
  • Now the important part: Let the mask sit on your face for 60 seconds… feel free to multi-task during this time.
  • After the quick 60 seconds is up, gently massage your whole face as you rinse thoroughly off.
  • If you get some in your eyes, no need to panic, just rinse your peepers with water.
  • Use 2-3 times per week alone or right after your favorite cleanser

CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub is designed to invigorate skin by cleansing pores deep down and gently exfoliating surface skin. The CLEAN & CLEAR® Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub provides a tingly, cooling sensation as you gently massage the scrub on skin — the unmistakable, revitalizing feeling of a deep cleansing action.

Directions:

Wet face. Gently massage all over face, avoiding eye area. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry. Good for daily use.

How do you make back-to-school easier for your tween/teen?

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how to explain where babies come from, where babies come from, having the talk with children, explaining sex, how to feel sexy after having a baby, new mom, marriage, pregnancy. feeling sexy after baby, vaginal dryness

Have you had “the talk” with your children yet? At what age did you decide it was time to have that conversation? It’s a big milestone in motherhood and childhood. Admittedly, it’s awkward and weird explaining to your baby where babies come from but if you don’t do it, someone else will or they’ll figure it out as it’s happening, probably too soon with someone who just wants to have sex.

I consider myself a little bit crunchy. I always have. I’ve always been a free thinker; open-minded, the spread love and equality sort. I love the earth and I think at the root, most people are good. I wear patchouli so that’s confirmation, right?

But the other day when I told the Big Guy that I thought we’re pretty hippie in our parenting ideology, he gave me the blank stare. I get it, I’ve been known to hover. But then it hit me, yes, hell yes… I have problems physically letting go of my children but I’m getting better but it’s not about me, it’s about them, this parenting thing.

I’ve always encouraged my girls to be free-range thinkers. I talk to them like people and we have open dialogues about anything they want to talk about from sex to politics and even such controversial topics as which is better…unicorns or mermaids. The point is everything we say and don’t say to our children counts.

I’m sure some people think I’m too free with my girls but I want to raise educated women who can think for themselves, no approval needed, from anyone. Radical concept, right?

My daughters are no longer toddlers. My oldest just turned 12-years-old and my youngest daughter just turned 10-years-old. Things are changing at a furiously fast pace, as they do during childhood. The tween and teen years are a whole different set of firsts.

I’ve been trying to do my due diligence as a tween mom, though. We’ve been discussing birth control and healthy/unhealthy relationships for a while now. Puberty and where babies come from became topics of discussion during preschool and I’ve just been elaborating and filling in the gaps ever since. The older you get, the more you know.

I’ve always told my children the facts as they’ve asked and let one moment lead to the next teachable moment. In fact, once the puberty conversation was done and elaborated upon and extrapolated into infinity, then we moved on to sex (for the 12-year-old). Though it was just the basics about sex, the mechanics of basic insert, ejaculate and consummate sex, she knows how babies happen.

Explaining where babies come from to your child but not birth control is not enough.

We need to explain everything. Turning children loose into the world with just that tiny amount of information is like giving a kid a loaded gun, teaching them how to shoot but not explaining that they could kill someone.

That’s why I’ve also touched on the healthy/unhealthy relationship conversation. I’ve explained that sex between two people who love each other and are mature enough to handle all of the possible outcomes is a beautiful thing. But, I’ve also explained the hard fact that just because you have sex with someone, that doesn’t always mean they love you. It could just mean that they like having sex with you and that’s okay if that’s all you both want.

I don’t want my girls to expect love in exchange for sex because that is not how it works. I think they should be prepared for that. I want them to decide when, where, why and how sex happens for them. I don’t want it to be something they do under pressure or out of some sort of expectation or obligation. You can’t put a timeline on when you are ready. You know because you know yourself better than anyone else.

My girls know where babies come from, how they get there, how they are born and (in theory) what a big responsibility babies are once they are born. Of course, I don’t think anyone fully understands that last one until the baby is in your arms.

My girls are young but they know what birth control is and that it is a woman’s right to choose; who she loves, who/when/if she has sex with and if/when she will become a mother because we are the masters of our own bodies but they also know that we must respect ourselves and our bodies.

We’ve been having the conversations about their bodies since they were toddlers. I’ve taught them that their bodies are beautiful and wonderful. I’m teaching them that sex is not shameful or bad. It’s beautiful and wonderful and babies are miracles. But I want them to know that the sex doesn’t have to mean a baby and babies shouldn’t happen until you are mature enough and ready to start a family.

Becoming pregnant shouldn’t feel like a punishment for doing something that is so natural. A baby should be something you want and try for. A baby should come from love and intention, not on accident. The only way any of this happens is if we have those awkward, uncomfortable conversations with our kids so that they can become free-range thinkers and decide for themselves.

I love the videos by Amaze.org because they are made for 10 to 14-year-olds. It’s not pornographic or above their head. AMAZE  is a collaboration between 3 expert organizations in the field of sex education: Advocates for Youth, Answer, and Youth Tech Health. They produce engaging sex education videos that cover the “mechanics” (e.g., puberty) and also more complex topics (relationships, gender identity, consent, etc.). AMAZE wants to help empower parents to be the primary sexuality educators of their kids – the goal of the videos is to inform and spark a conversation. I’m using the videos as a tool to add visual explanation and levity to an otherwise serious conversation.

If you’d like access to these tools to help you explain puberty, sex, where babies come from, contraception and much more like the @AMAZEparents Facebook page (which includes video shares as well as fantastic curated content related to sex ed, health, etc.) because the more information we have the less weird these very important conversations have to be.

How did you or do you plan to explain where babies come from to your child?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Amaze.org but all opinions about how to explain where babies come from are my own.

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wonder woman, girls rule Gal Gadot

As a little girl, I had 1 hero (besides my mom) and that was Wonder Woman. She was smart, beautiful and she was stronger than any man; plus, she was a girl. Not only was she a girl, she was a brunette and she was the superhero plus, bonus Linda Carter was a Latina.

I still remember watching Wonder Woman, sitting in my fuzzy red teddy bear rocker. It was the best thing on television as far as I was concerned. She was better than Batman or Superman because she was a girl, just like I was and that was important then… and now. 

Girls need strong female role models. My girls have women like Hillary Clinton, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and myself. But, I’ve always believed that it couldn’t just be guy superheroes who got to save the world. We don’t all need rescuing. We can be the rescuer. Women are more than just a pretty face, playing second fiddle to a guy superhero or otherwise. Even then, as a little girl, I knew that I could do and be more than just the arm candy or cheerleader to a man. I wasn’t a damsel in distress and didn’t want to be treated like one.

Then Diana Prince appeared in my young life and gave hope to all little girls everywhere because it didn’t matter if you were pretty or ugly, tall or short, where you were from or if you were poor or rich.

Wonder Woman made it not only plausible but probable that you could be strong, smart, funny and good just as good as any boy, even better. 

You could care about issues and people and you could make a difference. All you had to do is decide that’s what you wanted to do. Maybe we couldn’t all be Amazons or Goddesses but we could do and be good and we didn’t need a man’s help or permission. We could just do it.

Wonder Woman was a critical part of my childhood. She was more than a fictional superhero, she was endless possibility. She was an inspiration to stand up for what I believed in. She was permission to do what was right even when it was hard, even when people didn’t agree or gave you funny looks because “girls” aren’t supposed to do those things.

I bought the Wonder Woman boxed set when I had my first daughter. I knew that I wanted her to feel that pride in her chest that swelled up and propelled her do the right thing even when it was the unpopular one.

When I heard that a Wonder Woman movie was coming out, I knew I had to see it with my daughters.

Last week, we took our girls to see Wonder Woman in the theater. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’d heard mixed reviews. I hoped they wouldn’t mess up the feature film and over sexualize Diana Prince or make her a 1-dimensional supporting cast member in her own feature, as so often happens to so many women in real life. But I have to say honestly, for me, the movie was amazing. 

For me, Gal Gadot was the perfect Wonder Woman.

She was just the right blend of strong, smart, beautiful, conscientious and independent to play the character. She did the right thing in spite of making the hard choice. She gave up the guy to save humanity. She saved the world because she believed she could. She believed and saw the good in people and it was all embraced and respected. She was a warrior and a lady. 

Speaking of the perfect choice to play a part, Robin Wright’s General Antiope was phenomenal casting. She’s come a long way from the damsel in distress in The Princess Bride and I saw a lot more Claire Underwood in there. Her part was short but impactive.

Wonder Woman did what was right even though it meant losing everything she loved and leaving everyone she ever cared about.

She chose the human race over her own personal gain. She sacrificed herself for the greater good. She was humble and a hero.

“Be careful in the world of men, Diana. They do not deserve you.”

It may appear on the surface that someone or something doesn’t deserve our help, our sacrifice or our fight on their behalf but it’s not about them, it’s about us. It’s about the kind of person that we want to be.

I teach my girls to be good, do good. Stick up for your beliefs. Fight for your rights. Help those in need. It doesn’t matter if you are celebrated or thanked. You do good because your moral compass compels you to do so. Do it for the love and the justice of the world.

We can’t control others reactions, only our actions. Put your good into the world and let it take hold. It doesn’t matter if anyone’s watching or knows that you did it. You do it because it’s right not for the glory.

Silence is equal to doing harm. You can’t hide because it’s not what’s popular. It’s not always easy but I want my girls to do the right thing, especially when it’s hard because every choice has a ripple effect. One small kind act or word can mean the difference between life and death. Wonder Woman reminded me of that.

My soul is on fire. My heart is happy to have had the opportunity to share the experience with my girls. 

Maybe the world doesn’t deserve our girls but doesn’t our girls deserve to feel empowered and strong enough to do what’s right. Don’t our girls deserve to know they are strong and the possibilities are endless? Don’t our little girls, and ourselves, deserve to know that we are all wonder women?

If you’ve not seen Wonder Woman yet, go now! Take your girls, your boys and yourself. Celebrate the wonder that all women are!

If you’ve seen Wonder Woman, I’d love to hear your thoughts whether you loved it or hated it.
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Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

It’s May, my favorite and busiest month of the year. I don’t only love it because the world seems to be coming alive but I get to celebrate so many wonderful things in my life; birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, end of the year school performances and even the anniversary of this website. There are lots of reasons for celebrating so I will be hosting a few giveaways this month starting with the newest American Girl Doll, Z Yang.

Z Yang, American Girl’s newest contemporary character, is an imaginative 13-year-old from Seattle who develops her own take on the world around her.

Z is the latest addition to American Girl’s new series of contemporary characters and stories designed to speak to more girls’ interests, backgrounds, and experiences.

Z (short for Suzie) is a Korean-American teen who loves staying connected with friends through her vlog, Z’s Crew. Now she’s taking a shot at her dream of becoming a true filmmaker. The 18” Z doll has long dark-brown hair, warm brown eyes, and a beauty mark on her left cheek. The Z doll comes dressed in her signature outfit, along with a paperback of The Real Z by Jen Calonita.

Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

American Girl brings its popular stop-motion vlogger character, Z Yang, to life for millions of fans who have come to know and love her as the star of the company’s popular web series, Z’s Crew.

Inspired by the American Girl Stop Motion (AGSM) phenomenon, the series has garnered more than three million views on YouTube and continues to draw a large fan base.

Bonus: An Amazon Original live-action “Z” Special, An American Girl Story: Summer Camp Friends for Life, is scheduled to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on June 9, 2017.

The full Z product collection includes several creatively-inspired doll outfits and accessories that reflect her filmmaking interests, such as a wooden fold-out desk—complete with a chair and several pretend video-making supplies like a laptop and video monitor, as well as her own filming accessories like a camera, smartphone, and tripod, to name a few.

Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

The Z Yang collection is available now.

To learn more about Z and other new American Girl characters debuting throughout 2017, go to americangirl.com, Facebook at facebook.com/americangirl, Twitter at twitter.com/american_girl, Pinterest at pinterest.com/agofficial, and American Girl’s Instagram page at instagram.com/americangirlbrand. To request an American Girl catalog, call 1-800-845-0005.

Through the generosity of American Girl, I am hosting a giveaway.

If you’d like the chance to win a Z Yang doll for the special little girl in your life, enter the giveaway below and leave a comment telling me which American Girl doll you most identify with?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter

Every year, I write a love letter to my daughter on their birthday because one day, I hope that she’ll read them and get to know me in a different way. The whole purpose of this blog was to write down not only their milestones but my journey through motherhood. One day when she’s a mother, I hope she might like to read them to get to know us both from a different perspective.

Bella,

I loved you from the moment you were a blip on the ultrasound screen. Actually, I loved you before that. I loved you when you were a + sign on a pregnancy stick. I loved you before I even knew how much I could love you.

My heart filled with with so much love and happiness that I was actually dumbstruck for a moment. I couldn’t believe that this was happening to me. That I was going to get to be your mom. I was terrified, I think that’s normal. I was terrified that I was going to let you down.

Then, I watched you being born and held you in my arms and I knew. I knew that I would spend my whole life committed to loving you unconditionally and being the best mom I could be to you. I realize that is defined differently by everybody but for me, it simply meant raising you to know that you were wanted and loved and to be the best kind of human you could be. I wanted you to be happy.

 

The moment you were born and they lay you on my chest, all warm and gooey, my heart exploded. I was overcome with so much love and happiness that I was simultaneously laughing and crying. I want you to feel that same overwhelming love for your entire life and I promised myself that you would.

Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter

Now, you are 12-years-old and we are entering that part of adolescence where you are beginning to feel a little unsure of your place in the world; caught someplace between a child and a teen. Your body is changing and the hormones are making you feel unsure of a lot of things but I hope the one thing that you never doubt is my love for you, it is as strong and as fierce as the day you were born. It never wanes.

I can’t believe that I’ve been a mother for a dozen years. It seems like just yesterday that I was holding you in my arms and staring at you in awe. I couldn’t believe that we made you; our miracle. Now, you are almost as tall as I am. Soon, you will be taller than I am but to me, you will always be that tiny, newborn on my chest. That moment forever imprinted on my soul.

I wanted to tell you 12 things about you this year so one day, you can look back and know these things.

1.6th grade is a crazy transition year and, with the exception of Nutcracker season, you have handled it all with grace, dignity and just a little bit of crying, which is to be expected. I am proud of you. All those A’s, Harvard here we come.

 

2. Dancing and Singing. You always dance and sing like no one’s watching. You love the theater and everything about it. You joined the Youth Company at ballet. Your dad wanted dedication and I’d say committing to something 5-days a week plus rehearsals and performances has shown us a level of dedication that humbles us. You go girl. I still can’t believe that you’ve been dancing for 10 years. I still remember buying you your first ballet slippers.

Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter

 

3.Your smile. They say the eyes are the gateway to the soul but I can look at your mouth and know everything about you. I know your real laugh, when you think nobody is watching and you are 100% pure happy. I know your smiles; the fake one that tells me to take the picture already, your big one that goes all the way up to your eyes when you are excited like when traveling or chocolate are involved, your pursed lip smile when you want to throw your little sister or anyone for that matter out of the window for doing/saying something stupid and, my favorite, the quivering, tiny smile you get whenever you try to lie to me. You’ve had this tell since you were a toddler and I hate to break it to you, you always will. I can read your face like a book; my favorite book in the world.

Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter

4.Friendship. The way you’ve begun to handle your friendships and controversy. Can I just say that I am so proud of the way you rise above gossip? I love that you have your expectations and you stick to them. You are direct and you don’t let toxic people take up space in your life. I hope that never changes. By the same token, I love the way you love your friends like family. You are a good friend. You once told me when you were 4, that to have a good friend you need to be a good friend and I think you are succeeding at both.

Love letter, tween, 12th birthday, birthday, daughter, Disney

5.Disney, I love the way you still love all the things Disney now just as much as you did when you were a preschooler. Every trip to Disney World with you and your sister is a memory that I’ll cherish forever. And, yes, I will have a Disney princess marathons snuggled up on the sofa together with you any day of the week for as long as you ask. Beauty and the Beast on Thursday!

6.Changes, wow, I know you have gone through a lot of not only mental but physical changes this year. It’s rough being this age because everything seems to be changing at warp speed but we’ve been open and honest and I always will be. I’ve got you. As I always say, everything is a teachable moment and you can talk to me about everything no judgement. Hey and the sex talk ambush on the way to school the day before your birthday wasn’t that bad, was it?

7. Standing up for what’s right. This year, I watched you (and your little sister) become activists. You are no longer bystanders in the world, you have opinions and beliefs and you are willing to vocalize them. You are willing to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s not popular. Thanks for standing in line at the polls with me this year. Never forget, women can do anything.

8. Little kids. You are always super sweet to your little cousins. You have always been a nurturing soul. You are very patient and you look at life with a childlike wonder that allows you to relate to children and animals with a tender and kind heart.

9.Wanderlust. I’ve seen the fire ignite within you. My love of travel and yearning to embrace new cultures and people has rubbed off on you. I love the way you thirst for new experiences and new places. You even volunteered to forgo Christmas for travel. That’s my girl.

10. Self-confidence. You exude self-confidence and nothing could make me happier. I love the way you love your body. You still run around the house in your skivvies. There is no shame or second guessing, there is only loving the skin you are in. I pray that never ends. You live life in a big way. You are bold, you are fierce and you are beautiful in every way. You are kind, giving, smart and funny. You love to laugh but never at another’s expense (well, unless it’s me and the way I say cabinet.)

11. Just like Mommy. Maybe you wouldn’t want this to get out but really, I don’t think you care. I love that you ask me what I’m wearing before we go out and you try to coordinate. At an age when I was expecting to be the person you most wanted to not be like, you seemed to have clung to me for whatever reason. I don’t know why and I don’t question it because, silently, I love it. It makes me feel like you like me (the person) not because you have to but because you choose to. That means everything to me. Thank you for not shutting me out.

12. The unencumbered way that you go through life. Ever since you were a wee little one you have always done what you have wanted. You don’t see limitations. You see challenges and you just go for it because there’s never been a doubt that you can accomplish anything you put your heart to. Never forget that.

These are 12 things about you that I love. There are so many more; too many to list. Happiest of birthdays to my Bellabini! You made me a mommy and I will love you forever.

XOXO
Mommy

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Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl Mom

My girls are growing up fast. Faster than I could have ever imagined back when they were learning to crawl backwards and walk then talk. Everything used to feel like it took an eternity. Now, everything is so fast. Now, I’m the one saying, “Wait up! Stop this train. I want to get off.”

The girls are no longer toddlers and preschoolers but elementary aged girls headed straight for that awkward in-between age. You know that time where kids look like puppies with overgrown paws? You know they are going to eventually grow into themselves but they still have that dang baby face that you just want to smother them with kisses. That is until they roll their eyes at you. I swear I spend a lot of time talking about rolling eyeballs on this blog lately. My mom used to wish a daughter “just like” me on me when I was a teen. Now, I get it. I’ll have two.

Anyways, in a lot of ways they are growing up. They can do a lot of stuff on their own. Heck, I even let them play outside in the yard with no supervision these days. (why yes, I am a recovering helicopter mom.) They have their own phones and they can have real conversations about the world but, in many ways, they are still my babies.

I love seeing them develop into the kind of people they are going to be someday. I see interests and issues that they love and support. They are thinkers and doers and that makes me proud. One loves to write and the other draw. One loves to dance and the other do gymnastics. They are similar but so different. Their personalities are really emerging at this age and it’s a beautiful thing to watch. I feel like one day I will be able to say, I was there when.

One minute they are making music.lys and the next they are playing with American Girl dolls. One minute they are telling me, “No mom, I can do it myself.” And the next, they are coming in hot for mommy time. Hey, I’ll take it. I’m not complaining. I know these moments are fleeting. Yes, even the eye rolls. I’m sure one day, I will even miss those.

So, I really appreciate it when there are toys that they can play with and love but at the same time love and learn from. It’s rare that you find that because toys these days are either strictly for flexing the brain or completely pointless other than wasting your money and maybe giving your kids a few hours of entertainment. Yes, I realize those smiles are priceless.

I’ve always been a fan of dolls. Maybe because I’m a girl. Maybe because I have girls or maybe I just like the idea of a toy that teaches a child to be nurturing and compassionate; a “toy” that teaches your child to care for something else. It’s even more so when it is relateable to the child. Shared physical traits or, in the case of American Girl dolls which have their own backstory, shared interests and books to elaborate on that kinship.

This year’s American Girl of the Year is Gabriela McBride. Gabriela (the doll) is a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. In her story, Gabriela struggles with stuttering, but uses the power of poetry to find her voice and gain the confidence to make a difference in her community. I can relate to this because I was a clutterer and writing has always been my way of expressing myself.

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl MomThe first book Gabriela, hits shelves in January and tells the story of a quiet and creative girl growing up in a family of artists. Gabriela inherited a love of the arts from her parents, especially her mother, but spoken word poetry is becoming her own passion. Although Gabriela often finds herself in a battle with her own words because of her stuttering, she discovers that her poetry, filled with wit and honesty, helps her speech flow more easily and gives her the confidence to find her voice to help save her beloved community arts center from being torn down.

As many of you know, I have my own Gabi who also happens to be a creative. She dances and loves to scribble on her drawing pad or in her journal and when she’s not doing that, she is making music.lys. You see, my Gabi is also a quiet girl who is an old soul. She is very observant and loves anything artistic and animals, more than just about anything else. She’s quite shy when around new people but through music.ly, she has opened up by being able to express herself without someone looking directly at her and she has been blossoming. Her music.lys are pretty hilarious. I just love seeing her enjoy herself and double bonus when she and her sister do them together because that means they are not bickering, as they so often do lately.

 

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl Mom

The 18”Gabriela doll has curly dark-brown hair and warm brown eyes. The first thing my daughters said when they saw her was, “Look mama, she looks like you!” It’s true, we both have some pretty awesome curly hair and warm chocolate eyes. Only, I wish I was a dancer.

My Gabi fell in love with Gabriela McBride the moment she saw her. She loves that Gabriela is musically inclined and has cool accessories that she can use further personalize her experience to Gabriela like the performance case and the creative studio.

The performance case has everything Gabriela needs to set a performance or mix music. The case includes a laptop with a retractable cord for her drum pad and microphone, as well as 3 reversible and interchangeable screens. The drum pad can be plugged into the computer for sound mixing and comes with drumsticks. The case also includes a stylish pair of stylish rhinestone headphones so she can tune everybody out and prepare for a performance.

Gabriela loves nothing more than to dance, create and dream in the studio at her community center, much like my Gabriella and her beloved ballet studio. The creative studio comes with a metal barre that’s perfect for practicing moves from her ballet board and a reversible backdrop with the interior and exterior of the studio. It also comes with a water bottle, because every dancer needs to stay hydrated and a soft yellow towel because every dancer knows after a hard class, you sweat. Your tiny dancer or future YouTube, music.ly or funimate star will adore these add-ons for Gabriela.

Additional Gabriela products and books will be available starting this spring and, for the first time ever, the Girl of the Year collection will be available for a full 12 months and beyond!

To connect both boys and girls with Gabby’s inspiring message, American Girl is partnering with Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and leader in comprehensive educational materials, to create and distribute Express Yourself, a custom curriculum program that teaches 3rd-5th grade students how to use poetry as a tool for self-expression. The free materials will be available on www.scholastic.com starting March 1, 2017, and include teacher lessons and corresponding classroom activities, a poetry poster, plus parent tips and learning ideas to do at home. In addition, to celebrate National Poetry Month, the program also features a poetry contest for students that will run throughout the month of April. The Express Yourself program will encourage all students to find their creative voices and share their own personal stories, while building confidence along the way.

To learn more about Gabriela and the Girl of the Year line, go to americangirl.com, Facebook at facebook.com/americangirl, Twitter at twitter.com/american_girl, Pinterest at pinterest.com/agofficial, and American Girl’s Instagram page at instagram.com/americangirlbrand.

Gabriela McBride, American Girl, GIveaway, Girl MomI was provided a doll for review by American Girl and they are letting me give one away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment on who your favorite American Girl doll is and why below in the comments section and enter via the rafflecopter entry.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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lying, What to do when you catch a child lying, tween, mom, how to talk to your tween about sex, mother/daughter

Have you been struggling with how to talk to your tween about sex? Me, too. At what age did you have “the talk”? I mean we’ve talked about puberty. In fact, we’ve talked puberty to death. It’s old news. They both know so much about the inner workings of the female reproductive system that they could probably teach a class. But we’ve not quite made the leap to …you put the penis in the vagina and do that thang. I’ve been mulling this idea over for years, waiting for the right moment. I just haven’t been ready to see the innocence disappear from her eyes.

I told my tween that she and I would have “the talk” before she turns 12. In a culture where Teen Mom is a show that makes celebrities, I want my daughter to know babies are a lot or work and where those babies come from. She wants nothing to do with that conversation. Boys are not even on her radar yet. She is still pretty happy with unicorns, slumber parties and playing with dolls but I don’t want her getting misinformation about sex from other kids. I promised myself I’d talk to my tween about sex before she was 12 and now, I have less than a month, people.

Fool that I am, I made plans. The universe laughed at me and then life intervened. Now, I’m binge-reading all the articles on how to talk to your tween about sex because a teachable moment has arisen. No, before any of you have a stroke, it has nothing to do with her and sex. It’s more of a collateral damage situation.

But how to talk to your tween about sex is not an easy thing to figure out. It has to be the perfect balance of honesty, openness and availability.

The conversation has to be had with every child and no nervous giggling or embarrassment is allowed on the parents part. We have to be a source of information and comfort. They have to believe we know what we’re talking about and not be afraid to ask questions.

Last Tuesday was Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you know where this is going, and let’s just say the Big Guy and I were feeling particularly amorous. Him and all his damn romantic gestures. Anyways, apparently, we actually made some noise. We usually use our inside voices because, you know, KIDS! (TMI, I’m sorry.)

My 11-year-old had the misfortune of getting up to pee at the wrong time and now, we all need therapy. It’s all giving me flashbacks to the time when she was a toddler and she caught us “wrestling”. If these kids would JUST STAY IN THEIR BEDS. (Sidebar, just say no to co-sleeping this is what got us to where we are today. I jest, sorta.)

The thing is the tween is very mature in many ways but very immature in other ways. She’s at that age where she’s beginning to look like a young woman but her brain is not quite there yet. She’s caught somewhere between working her eye roll and still coming in for snuggles and mama cuddles on the regular.

Either way, you’ve got to figure out how to talk to your tween about sex sooner or later.

Anyways, to be clear, I was not howling at the moon or anything like that but when you are a kid and you hear anything coming from your parents’ bedroom other than snoring, you are instantly disgusted. We had no idea any of this took place until the following morning. We thought they were asleep.

All I know was that she got up on Wednesday morning particularly annoyed for no particular reason, as far as I was aware. I just took it for regular tween behavior. Honestly, one minute she’s being all tweeny and the next she is playing American Girl dolls with her little sister. I can’t keep up. She is a fantastic kid. She’s just a bit moody these days. I get it. I’ve been there. I am sympathetic.

But after school, I asked her point blank how her day was. Her answer was,

“It would have been fine if I had gotten more than 3 hours of sleep last night!”

I volleyed back with my standard,

“Well if you went to sleep at your bedtime instead of staying up messing around on your tablet or playing Barbies, you wouldn’t be so exhausted and grouchy.”

Big mistake.

To which she responded,

“No, mom I only got 3-hours of sleep because of you and dad!”

And with that, her lip curled and I could see the disgust. Suddenly, I felt like I was in that commercial back in the 70’s where the kid does the really shitty behavior, I think it was drugs or something, and says, “I learned it from you, dad!” It was that bam! You are to blame.

My next question, the one I wish I had never asked, “What is that supposed to mean? How is this our fault?” I was a little annoyed because I am not, in fact, to blame for everything.

The answer I didn’t want to hear,

“Well, I had to pee and when I got up I heard your “weird noises” coming from the bedroom AND my sleep pillow and FIFI were held hostage in there! How am I supposed to sleep without them and after hearing THAT!!!!!”

There it was. Firstly, I was a little embarrassed that she heard anything so I did what any sane mom would do, I told her that it was her dad. My second thought was, “Oh no, we traumatized her!” I finally did it. I irrevocably damaged my kid. I have to start saving for the therapy.

Then, I thought to myself, this “tween” who pushes me and pulls me back so much on a daily basis that I don’t know if I’m coming or going had purposely left her snuggle pillow and lovey in my room so that she could sneak in there in the middle of the night to sleep. Oh yeah, she still does that occasionally. I’m not complaining but she does bear some responsibility in all of this.I’m not going to lie. I was pretty embarrassed. I don’t get embarrassed but we were both red in the face. Then I sucked it up and said,

“Hey, I know it was uncomfortable to hear whatever you heard but we’re married and we love each other. This is what people who are married and in love do to share physical intimacy. It’s completely natural!”

Then I decided to add, “Besides, isn’t it better to hear “that” than your father and I screaming how much we hate each other behind those doors?”

To which she agreed. Then she looked at her little sister, her voice went down near a whisper and she said,

“But I didn’t want to hear you DOING.IT!”

Then, I threw up in my mouth a little bit.

My response, “Firstly, we never saying “doing it” ever again. It’s called “making love.””

Because hearing my 11-year-old say “doing it” in reference to her father and I, skeeved me out. Of course, hearing myself say, “making love” out loud was nearly as creepy. So we decided to just agree that when the bedroom door is shut, we’re probably together not sleeping. I told her if it really bothered her, I could buy her ear plugs. She was mortified but swiftly answered,

“Yes, please!”

Boundaries were set.

If the bedroom door is shut, stay out. I considered getting one of those old license plates that said, “If the bedroom’s a rockin, don’t bother knockin” and hanging it on our door but I thought it was probably still too soon for that joke.

We still have to have “the talk” but I’m pretty sure she knows what’s going on. I also feel like I need to add a disclaimer to our talk that when she has sex for the first time, what she heard will probably not be what will be happening because, you know, teenage boys are bumbling idiots.

But what am I going to do, tell her to sleep with older men if she wants it to be worth her time? Nope, I’ll just let her suffer through crappy first-time sex like the rest of us besides, after all that eye rolling shade she’s been throwing my way lately, an awkward first time when she’s at college is just what the doctor ordered. Shhh, don’t tell me otherwise. College is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anyways, I’ve still got to have this talk but now, it feels super weird because I feel like she’s going to relate the entire thing to her father and me. And EWWWW!

What would you do? What’s your best advice on how to talk to your tween about sex?

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Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

This past week, Bella performed in her 7th Nutcracker and Gabs in her 4th. I remember Bella’s 1st like it was yesterday. I remember how my heart swelled and that tiny little snowflake made my heart burst. I thought that was it. That was as big as a mama’s heart could get. I was wrong.

raising girls, to the moon and back, ballet, nutcracker

The girls are getting older and the parts are getting more advanced technically and more detailed. They are no longer the littlest ballerinas practicing for a month for one singular part on stage for 30 seconds in the first half. They have advanced into the world of double castings and multiple roles. They are battling in the first half, quick changing and ethereally descending upon the land of sweets in Act 2. This is exciting if not exhausting.

READ ALSO: The Tiniest Soldier

 

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

Gabi’s 1st Nutcracker

 

They embrace every new part and responsibility like it’s their job. You know, if you really loved your job. Every night since Thanksgiving weekend, the girls have been at either rehearsal or performances after school from 4 to 11 p.m. and that doesn’t even include the school performances they were a part of during 3 of those days.

American Girl, Doll, Children's hospital, holiday gift guide 2014, best gifts for girls

I am awed at how they not only endure this grueling schedule but embrace every single moment of it. They came home every night either dressed their American Girl dolls as the cast of the Nutcracker and reenacted the ballet or they played the Marinsky Nutcracker on-demand and danced along. How they had the energy, I will never know but they thrive in this environment. I’m exhausted just from driving them, I can’t imagine how tired I’d be if I were actually dancing every day.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

The thing with ballet and any ballet mom will tell you this, is that it takes an inordinate amount of discipline and dedication, especially when you are in those transition years between a child and a young woman. That is where my girls are at. Bella is at ballet 5 days a week and she loves every single moment. She is excited to go there; to dance and to be with her friends. It’s taken me 9 years but I finally realized that dance is not something you do, it’s a way of life.

READ ALSO: Stolen Moments

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

This year, Gabi was an angel for the second year and Bella was the lead soldier in the brigade and the biggest bonbon. Both girls did an amazing job and I’m not just saying that as their mom, I’m saying that as an avid ballet enthusiast.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

The one thing that I will never forget about this year’s Nutcracker is not the backstage drama (which there is always plenty of), the difficulty of quick change make-up and costume changes or even the sheer coma-like exhaustion we all succumb to during Nutcracker season, no the thing I will never forget is seeing my daughters’ faces light up as soon as the music begins to swell.

raising girls, to the moon and back, ballet, nutcracker

 

First, let me preface this by saying that every time that I see my daughters’ perform, I get a little misty eyed. I’m a mom, that’s what you do when you see them growing up right before your eyes. However, I don’t normally get so choked up that the tears linger long after the show is over. That happened to me this year.

raising girls, to the moon and back, ballet, nutcracker

Seeing your child do something for the first time, never gets old. Watching your child take the stage after months of practice, rehearsals and dedication and absolutely nailing it is priceless but seeing your child exude true, real happiness when performing is moving.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

This year, for the first time in a long time, when Bella took the stage as a Bon Bon I saw real happiness not only exude but actually escape her. She was smiling so hard and enjoying herself so much that you couldn’t help but enjoy her performance. It wasn’t the fake performance smile that all mothers know too well, it was genuine, complete and confident satisfaction with herself. I didn’t just get misty-eyed, I full on cried and then I cried again over dinner that night two hours later because I got so choked up remembering that smile, the same one I saw the time she took her first step.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

The girls did an amazing job and I’m so proud of them. They are already discussing which parts they hope to get next year. Collectively they’ve already played a little snowflake, a parrot, a page, an angel (X4), a baby soldier, soldier brigade (x2), a mouse and a Bon Bon. Who knows what the next year might bring? What I do know is that I will be there; watching from side stage as my girls give me a thumbs up, a wink or a special smile and I’ll be in the audience watching and getting choked up like I always do because that’s what we do. I’ll be there to support their dreams however I need to.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

What’s been a moment in parenting where you’ve just been so proud of your child that you almost couldn’t keep your composure?

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas tradition

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