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Parenting

Parenting is nothing you expected and everything you could have imagined all rolled into one. I have been spit up on, pooped on, vomited on all before 7 a.m. in the newborn years. I’ve watched my toddler shove a pearl up her nose and poop in her mouth, and I’ve even masticated food. Not as fun as it sounds. I’ve survived breast buds and the sex talk. I share everything I ever learned and you might want to know about parenting from pregnancy to labor thru to the teens years.  It’s is hard but it’s the toughest job that you’ll ever love but the salary sucks.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

This year, my youngest daughter decided that she wanted to try something new and she doesn’t want to dance anymore… for now. She wanted to try cheerleading. She’s been dancing since she was 2-years-old. I started to feel her pulling away from dance last year. I tried to resist. If you could see her do ballet, she is a natural; graceful and refined but she longs for something different.

She’s trying to escape the shadow of her sister and is tired of being referred to by most as simply, “Little Bella”. At school, everyone constantly compares her to her big sister. They mistake the 2 of them all the time. They call her by her sister’s name. People have asked if they are twins, despite the fact that they are 2 years apart and look very different and have even more different personalities.  I don’t see it. I never have. I see Bella and I see Gabi.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

But Gabi has been feeling dwarfed by her big sister’s shadow. I was the big sister so I don’t know exactly how this feels. But I am sympathetic to her challenge.

Bella in the past 2 years has been diving head first into the deep end of ballet. She loves it and she wants to move forward. She’s in the youth company and she’s dedicated to the point where she has dropped every other extra-curricular activity that she was involved in. Bella knows that ballet is a sacrifice but she doesn’t mind.

READ ALSO: How to Raise Resilient Children When Everyone Gets a Trophy

Last year, Gabs wanted to do the same. Well, she wanted to be with her big sister. She joined the company and she was there a lot of hours for a ten-year-old. I was afraid it would overwhelm her. Yet, in the deepest recesses of my heart, I had daydreams of the two of them dancing Russian in Nutcracker together. I know it sounds stupid.

By the middle of last year, Gabi was overwhelmed and she quit the company before the 3rd production. I had to let her because she’s the one doing all the work but it hurt. It wasn’t what I had seen for her future.  I know ballet is not forever for them but I really wanted to see them perform together on stage.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

Then this summer, she told me that she was not doing Youth company and she wasn’t sure that she even wanted to dance. She wanted to cheer with her friends. Bella used to cheer but she’s always been more of a ballerina than a cheerleader. There is a big difference. Both take a lot of work but it’s different.

Anyways, Gabs told me that she was only going to do 1 of her recommended 3 classes and she was going to do pointe and tap. I knew, in my heart, this was letting go. She had one foot in each world. I’ve been watching her cheer and she loves it. Whether it is being with her friends or just the freedom to be loud and unrestrained, she seems happier. She looks like she can finally exhale.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

But she is such an amazing dancer. She is one of those people with so much natural rhythm and grace that it is almost a shame to not dance. She is one of the most beautiful dancers I’ve ever seen. Her lines are exquisite. Plus, when you are dancing, you are the star. Even when you are part of the corps, you are still dancing in a spotlight. Cheerleading is being the support for a team. It’s being the woman behind the man and that makes me cringe, just a little bit. But she lights up.

She was doing both. In fact, she insisted that she audition for the Nutcracker this year when I was sure that she would want to sit this one out. She cheers at games a couple times a week and then there is practice plus her dance classes. But she was adamant about auditioning.

Recently,  the cast list went up and when she saw that she was assigned a part that she has done twice previously, one that she did not do last year because she had leveled up, she was heartbroken and there was nothing I could do.

READ ALSO: What’s so Special About the Nutcracker

I tried to explain to her tiny heart broken into a million tiny pieces that when you straddle too many worlds you do them all disservice. You can’t give half the effort and expect twice the results. You have to give the dedication and hard work to move forward; to move up. It’s so hard to explain this concept to someone so young.

After a long, long cry she came to me and told me, very maturely, that she doesn’t want to dance anymore for now. She feels overwhelmed doing cheer and ballet because both schedules are demanding.

On the inside, my heart was breaking because I feel like she is making a mistake. I feel like she has a gift for ballet and she is throwing an opportunity away but then I remind myself, it is her gift to do with what she may.  I can’t force her to do the work and I don’t want to make her hate it.

ballet, dancer, cheerleader

So, I told her that she can take the year off. She will still be doing barre work and bands at home and at the end of the school year, we will reassess. Maybe she’ll realize that she misses performing and dancing. Maybe she will be glad to have it off of her plate but either way, I will always be here to support her and love her.

But, in my mamma heart, I still have big dreams of my girls dancing Russian together on the stage together. For now, you can find me on the football field cheering on the cheerleaders, at the ballet cheering on my ballerina and at home telling them both that they can be anything they are willing to work hard for and nothing worth having is free. I’ll keep leading by example and hope that’s enough.

Either way, it’s not about me. It’s about them. My hope is to raise good, hardworking, honest, self-confident girls who feel like they can come to me and talk about everything when they need to. I will listen and try not to judge. Make good choices girls but also, I will be here to guide you because that’s what moms do…even when we’re letting you choose. We let go, even when we want to hold on tighter.

The bottom line is we can’t force our children to do anything that doesn’t bring them joy and expect them to excel at it. They have to do the work and we have to respect that. But we can hope.

What have you had to let go of and let your child make the decision for themselves?

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The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

I can’t believe that Nutcracker season is already here. If you’re a ballet mom or a ballerina, you know that we mark time by Nutcracker and Swan Lake seasons. It is common knowledge that the weekend after Labor Day, Nutcracker season begins. You can’t even imagine the excitement in my neck of the woods ( the ballet studio) about the upcoming movie Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

While the rest of the world is celebrating Pumpkin Spice season, we’re celebrating the Nutcracker Season. This is our life for the next 4 months and we love every single second of it (mostly). Little kids tend to complain in the middle of it but the moment they take the stage and bask in the glow of the house lights, the magic is worth every single rehearsal, sore foot, and achy hamstrings. Believe me when I tell you that ballet dancers are more than graceful, nymph-like fairy creatures… they are fierce, elite athletes. Don’t be fooled by the tutus and pointe shoes. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to look that graceful.

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READ ALSO: What’s so Special about the Nutcracker?

My girls have been dancing since they were 2-years-old. It started with creative dance classes, once a week for ½ an hour. Now, at ages 11 and 13-years-old, they dance 5–12 hours a week, respectively and this is with scaling their schedules back. They love to dance but the intensity and dedication can be a little overwhelming and challenging, though embraced, for children this young. The commitment and passion are real.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

My husband laughs at me because every time I watch them perform, my heart swells with pride and my eyes leak because I’m so proud of them. I’ve been driving them and watching practices and rehearsals since they’ve been toddlers and what the audience sees as a few minutes, I know the hours, years and dedication it has taken to get to that one minute. I have never been so devoted to anything, except for being their mother. So for these young ladies and gentleman to give so much of themselves makes me proud of them in ways that are hard to put into words.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

Nutcracker is one of our biggest productions. Our ballet produces one of Forbes Magazine’s top 10 Nutcracker productions in the country. That’s a big reputation to live up to every year and still, every year, our creative director rises to the challenge and levels up in new and unexpected ways. Each year the Nutcracker is more magical than the last.

We had auditions last weekend and soon, we’ll find out what parts the girls have been assigned. This is my Bella’s 9th Nutcracker and will be Gabi’s 6th Nutcracker season. It’s something we look forward to every year and celebrate as a family. Nutcracker and family night, celebrated with some sugary indulgence befitting of the Land of Sweets.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

My girls and all of their friends are excited to see Disney’s new big screen version of our favorite classic ballet, the Nutcracker and the Four Realms. I’m interested in seeing the adaptation and how Disney tells the story of Clara’s adventures. The synopsis is as follows.

READ ALSO: The Lump in my Heart Runneth Over

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

All Clara (Mackenzie Foy) wants is a key – a one-of-a-kind key that will unlock a box that holds a priceless gift. A golden thread, presented to her at godfather Drosselmeyer’s (Morgan Freeman) annual holiday party, leads her to the coveted key—which promptly disappears into a strange and mysterious parallel world. It’s there that Clara encounters a soldier named Phillip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), a gang of mice and the regents who preside over three Realms: Land of Snowflakes, Land of Flowers and Land of Sweets.

Misty Copeland, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

Clara and Phillip must brave the ominous Fourth Realm, home to tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren), to retrieve Clara’s key. Hopefully, returning harmony to the unstable world. Starring Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy. Disney’s new holiday feature film “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston. Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms is inspired by E.T.A. Hoffmann’s classic tale.

Misty Copeland, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky, Ballet, Misty Copeland, Helen Mirren, Keira Knightly, Disney, Walt Disney, Disney Movie Studios, Christmas, Holidays, ballet, ballerinas

This part, the Fourth Realm and the idea of Mother Ginger as a villain have me very intrigued. I can’t wait to take my daughters to see how the story unfolds in mysterious and intriguing new ways. You know with a little Disney pixie dust, Clara’s adventure can only get more magical.

Have you seen the Nutcracker classic ballet on stage? If you have, it’s probably close to your heart and surrounded by a lifetime of fond memories.

Nutcracker, ballet, ballerina, Christmas traditionAre you looking forward to seeing Disney’s the Nutcracker and the Four Realms?

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Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District

I never thought of New Orleans as a romantic getaway but here I am writing this post Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant. After a well-timed road trip to Louisana, we got pregnant. I’m not saying New Orleans is the best travel destination to get pregnant but I’m not saying it’s not.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, before children, the Big Guy and I went away for a long weekend to celebrate our 5th year wedding anniversary and we came back pregnant with our first child. Now, it wasn’t a babymoon. We weren’t trying to conceive but we weren’t not trying to conceive either. We were in the planning to plan to conceive phase of marriage.

READ ALSO: Life is what happens when You are Busy Making Plans

On that trip, we fell in love with New Orleans and even more in love with each other. New Orleans, literally, changed our lives forever. New Orleans made us parents so it is our top best travel destination to get pregnant.

Ten Things to Do in New Orleans to get Pregnant

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA

Stay at a sexy boutique hotel complete with rose petal baths and fertility blessings

We stayed at the International House Hotel to celebrate our 5th Wedding anniversary and it was amazing. Anthony Bourdain said, “The International House sets the standard for modern hotels with its creative design and meticulous attention to detail. ” And the Big Guy and I agree. It’s beautiful, sexy and mysterious and it makes you feel all those things when you are there. They say 1 in 8 New Orleaneans practice voodoo. All I know is that magic happens at the International House Hotel.

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Indulge in Beignets

Warm, powdered sugar pastries are always delicious but the beignets at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans melt in your mouth. They taste heavenly and nothing will start your day off in a better mood than having one after sleeping in with your beloved.

Seriously, indulge in everything.

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Get a drink to go and wander the streets

Yes, you can do this is New Orleans because they operate under Napoleanic law and you can carry open containers as long as the container is plastic and the legal drinking age is 18-years-old. Go crazy, head to Pat O’Brien’s and get yourself a giant Hurricane and hit the streets.

Eat and drink your way through St. Claude Avenue

So much food and so little time. New Orleans has some of the best food you will ever eat and such a variety. You can stroll the city and taste your way around the world.

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Get a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop or the Old Absinthe House

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the oldest bar in NOLA and was once the workshop of the famed pirate, Jean Lafitte. Another favorite of ours was the Old Absinthe House. If you’re in the French Quarter, you must stop. The history is palpable.

Jazz do it!

Take a jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez .If you like jazz, there is really nothing more romantic than taking a leisurely, night river cruise on the Mississippi. I can still remember the sound of the water beneath us as the jazz band plays in the background. The boat swaying, as you dance with your partner under the moonlight, may just be the most romantic thing you never knew that you were always missing.

Speaking of jazz, listen to live jazz music in Jackson Square. Maybe a little spontaneous dancing will happen. Expect the unexpected in NOLA. I never knew before this trip just how much jazz is baby making music.

While you’re at Jackson Square be sure to stop by St. Louis Cathedral. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and if the fertility statue you got from the voodoo priestess isn’t doing the trick, light a few candles in the Cathedral just for good measure.

 

Stroll through Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District

I know it doesn’t sound romantic but strolling someplace so quiet and introspective, holding hands with your favorite person is so romantic. The Big Guy and I could have strolled that cemetery all day long.

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Go on the garden district tour

The garden district is gorgeous and on a sunny day in May, it might just be the most beautiful place in the world. It kind of felt like walking around our own private island enveloped in flowers and trees as the sun peaked through overgrown willows and it’s shadows played upon our faces. I could feel myself falling deeper and deeper in love with the Big Guy.

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Go to Bourbon street and get lit AF and let go of all of your inhibitions.

We hit the 5 for 1 beer at what used to be the red rhino. Then we stood on the balcony throwing beads to hotties. We got hit on by a couple of swingers, which only fueled our lust.  We refused their offer, drank some more and headed back to the hotel.

Things to do in New Orleans to get pregnant, international house hotel, new orleans, travel new orleans, one time in new orleans, #OneTimeInNOLA, Jean Lafitte, Old Absinthe House, Bourbon Street, French Quarter, Garden District, pizza

Eat the pizza.

Yep, Dominos pizza was being sold on the street by a vendor somewhere between Bourbon street and our hotel. We were ravenous. We bought a $5 pizza and ate a piece before a night that I can only call a blur of lovemaking and gymnastics from which I still daydream about 14 years later. Needless to say,  I now refer to Dominos as pregnancy pizza. I’m not saying the pizza had anything to do with the fact that we got pregnant but I’m not saying it didn’t either.

READ ALSO: What a Difference a Decade Makes

This is by no means a comprehensive list of things to do in New Orleans to get you pregnant or otherwise engaged, but it is my tongue in cheek list. Look, I know nothing can guarantee getting pregnant. My point is that we relaxed, stopped thinking about it and that’s when it happened. Infertility is not as easy as that but, for us, New Orleans changed our entire lives because we came back from that trip pregnant and, to us, New Orleans will always be the city of love and hope.

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I can’t wait to take our girls there someday so they see and experience the amazing, beautiful city that is New Orleans.

 

 

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Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

I think every family should go RVing before their kids grow up, at least once, if not do like some of my friends and take an entire year to explore. If you want to really connect as a family, for us, there need to be minimal distractions, intimate proximity and the freedom to unplug from the rest of the world. Your priority and attention need to be present with the people who are traveling with you. If there is a beautiful destination involved, a place where you can sit in wonder and awe, even better. This year, we discovered that for us, RVing is the only way to ensure that result.

As many of you know, my family and I are nomads. I could roam the world homeless forever. I was raised that home is where the people you love are and so home for me is wherever the Big Guy and my girls are at. That’s all I need; my health, them and the wide open road. Road trips are my jam; while I love traveling by any means possible, especially to a tropical destination, road trips allow for unexpected adventures that you just can’t plan. Detours and roadside stops or choosing a different path feels a lot like living in your own private choose your adventure game.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Last month, we had one of the best family vacations of our lives and that is saying a lot. I knew traveling by RV would be fun but I had no idea how much we would all connect. I had no idea how many beautiful memories we would make on this one trip. It was as simple as unplugging, being present and actually seeing the people and places in front of us.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeDisclosure: We were provided an RV and a campsite at a destination of our choice by Go RVing but all opinions and memories are our own.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

A screen is a beautiful thing but it pales in comparison to looking up and seeing the ocean. It is garbage compared to human contact and interaction around a campfire at night on a beach beneath the stars. It’s a poor substitute for real life. Virtual has nothing on human interaction.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The weekend before school started back, we went on a magical end of the summer trip in an RV. I like to sneak in that one last relaxing getaway with my people before schedules get hectic and we’re all neck deep in the minutia of our day to day schedules. Last year, we stayed in a parked RV model in Traverse City, Michigan and we thought that was amazing and it was but it wasn’t the same experience as driving with your family in an RV. Definitely not the same as a road trip in an SUV or car, though, I do love those too.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

READ ALSO: Why RVing is the best family trip

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

We drove 9 hours to the D.C. area to pick up our Winnebago Intent Model 31P before driving another 7 hours to beautiful Camp Hatteras campground in Rodanthe, North Carolina. Talk about style. I’m not sure what I was expecting but this Winnebago exceeded anything I could have imagined. It was almost 32′ in length and could accommodate up to 7 people with bunk beds for the kids. There were only 4 of us, so we had plenty of space.

There was plenty of storage space, both inside the RV and in the under-storage areas for food, toys and games and whatever you want to bring along. There was a television in the sitting area, the back bedroom and even outside, along with a mini-fridge and sink; perfect when you’re grilling and don’t want to miss that special game. For us, the television was perfect for when it rained outside. We’d all snuggle up and watch a movie together before a midday nap. That’s what vacations are for, right? We were sucking every bit of relaxing we could get out of this trip.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

The Outer Banks has always been on my travel bucket list and it was not a disappointment. We can’t wait to go back. There is just something about a vacation by water that is intuitively relaxing for me, especially the ocean.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were a ton of things to do at Camp Hatteras from mini golfing, corn hole tournaments, live music, ice cream socials to crafts and karaoke but we were more interested in sunsets on the sound, long walks on the beach, playing in the surf, exploring under the pier and bonfires under the stars right on the beach. You choose your family adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

You could surf, kayak, take a boat out and fish or you could build sandcastles, bathe in the sun and talk to the people on the blanket next to you on Camp Hatteras’ private beach while your kids laughed and ran from the waves. Campgrounds have a whole culture that I never knew about before and the people are all so fun and friendly. The first night we arrived, our site neighbors came out and helped us novice campers hook everything up.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Cape Hatteras can be as exciting or laid back as you choose. We opted for relaxing togetherness. I took the girls’ phones away. I only used mine for pics. We stopped worrying about ticking boxes and having to be anywhere and we just played it all by ear and it was magical. I seriously can’t recommend it highly enough. If your end goal is to relax on vacation and spend quality time with your family, go RVing.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There was no running to see sights. It was just high grass, soft sand, blue water, crashing waves and star filled nights with the three people I love most on the planet. It couldn’t get any better than that and yet, it did. There were nights of delivered pizza while listening to the wave crash from our Oceanside site. There was coming in from a scorching beautiful day on the beach to an air-conditioned, all the amenities of home RV including a hot shower and a refrigerator full of ice cream.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLifeREAD ALSO: Ogunquit Maine is the Perfect Place to Eat Cake by the Ocean

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

There were lots of laughs and lots of love. There were so many moments and memories made in the that RV and on that beach that I will never forget. If I close my eyes, I can smell the salt in the air, hear my girls giggling and feel the Big Guys hand in mine as we watched our girls run in and out of the surf, delighted by the different creatures in the sea from rogue crabs to spotting a pod of dolphins off in the distance. I can’t wait for next year’s end of the summer adventure.

Why Every Family should Go RVing before your Kids Grow Up, Go RVing, family travel, Cape Hatteras, Camp Hatteras, Rodanthe, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Winnebago, WinnebagoLife

Have you ever taken a family trip in an RV? If not, start planning next year’s trip now. We only get a handful of these precious years of togetherness like this before our kids grow up and the dynamics change. Sure, they will always be our babies but it won’t always just be us and them and they won’t always be as easily contented by spotting a pod of dolphins, splashing under the pier or sitting beneath the stars making s’mores on a starry night with nothing more than the surf and your doting heart.

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Take advantage of every single moment you can. Go RVing!

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about, the truth about motherhood, motherhood, parenting, Deborah Cruz, the truth, How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordstroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school, The Truth about Motherhood, Latina mom, Chicago,baby, pregnancy, conception, family travel, teen, parenting, Deborah Cruz, the truth, Disney

Do you dream of a high fashion wardrobe but you don’t have a trendy label fashion budget? I love clothes and so do my girls and (shhh) even the Big Guy. Fashion is our passion after travel and equal to food. We love nice clothes that feel good, wear well and look good on us. My favorite clothes are the ones that are made so well that you feel naked when you wear them. Not too bulky. Not too tight. No gross cheapy fabrics that hang weird. I want clothes that fit and move with my body and look and feel good on me.

My current wardrobe is pretty amazing. I’ve been a “clothes whore” since it was “clothes horse”. That’s how long I’ve been addicted to fashion. I got my first job just for that specific reason, to buy myself a trendy fashion wardrobe. But, full disclosure, I’m also pretty budget conscious. What can I say, I grew up poor and as much as I love the good life and nice things, spending money on myself isn’t something that I think I will ever be comfortable with.

Now, before you go thinking I’m cheap. I’m not. But I am very aware and I love a good sale. I don’t love a sale for the sake of a sale. I know people like that. No, I don’t have a stock room full of Rag and Bone Jeans or Free People dresses because they were on sale for half off. I don’t hoard clothes the way Mama June hoards toilet paper. I only like to spend money on things I want and to some degree need. And unfortunately, I couldn’t wear a stock room full of jeans in a lifetime.

READ ALSO: Fashion Police, please

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

I realized a long time ago that it makes more sense to spend $150 on a good pair of jeans that I’ll wear every day than a $25 on a pair of jeans that I will never wear. In one case, I’ve wasted $25. In the other case, I’ve gotten every bit of $150 of use out of those jeans. This is how I approach shopping. I am in it for the long game most days. I look at a good piece of fashion as an investment.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

There definitely is a difference in higher quality products versus lesser quality ones. You definitely get what you pay for unless you shop wisely. I’ll be honest, I want $500 quality for $100 so I shop like it’s my job.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

If you want to take your wardrobe from Target and Kohls to Nordstrom and Macys or even to Louis Vuitton and Burberry, these tricks work to get you the fashion wardrobe that you want and deserve. Believe me when I tell you, once you go quality fashion over trendy chic ( though, I still do love Primark, Zara and Target for cute trendy pieces for myself and the girls) you will never go back. It’s like trying to go back to a PC after using Mac. It’s just too impossible to do. You can’t unknow the good life.

Here are my tips for owning an amazing, high-quality fashion wardrobe on a budget that will last forever and fit like they were made for your body.

  1. How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-schoolShop your favorite brands when they are on sale.

Fashion seasons don’t match up with actual seasons. So don’t worry about being out of style. By the time the average person is buying their swimsuits, the fashion industry is marking it down because it’s already out of season. Fashion has to be ahead of the curve, you do not. For example, the day after the 4th of July, you can find crazy sales on bathing suits and summer clothing. If you live in the Midwest, like me, you know summer doesn’t really start until July anyway.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

2. Christmas in July.

All the Big brands have Christmas in July sales and the sales are amazing. With a little planning, you can save a ton on everything from half price appliances, to hot tubs and especially fashion.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

3.Nordstroms Annual Sale

It’s everything you want, on sale. All the name brands that your heart desires. You just have to be patient. Building an amazing wardrobe is a long game.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

4.Macy’s Stackable Sales

Ok, Macy’s lets you stack sales up to 5, I believe. So does Kohls for that matter ( if you are thinking back-to-school for the kids). Also, in case you weren’t aware, there are constantly sales going on at Macy’s. Like constantly. I am a Free People junkie. I will freely admit that I am obsessed with their products. I have gotten great deals where I have paid less than half.

  1. Prime Day

Not sure that you are going to find crazy couture on Prime Day but whatever you find will be a steal and even if it’s just a few really good quality pieces, a deal is a deal and that’s money to be spent on something else. For instance, I’ve been eyeballing a pair of Stella McCartney shoes. While the shoes are most likely not on a Prime Day sale, maybe something else is and that extra saved money can go towards my Stellas.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

6.Back-to-School

When it’s back-to-school time, everybody is shopping for their children but guess what? Sales are not just restricted to your children. College-aged people go “back-to-school” too and they are full human sized. Get your sale on. Everything is on sale. Go take advantage.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

7. Outlet Malls

Not all outlet malls are created equal. You need to find yourself a good fashion outlet mall. I have a couple favorites. I’ve scored some crazy deals on Burberry and Kate Spade at these malls. You just have to go there with an open mind.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

8. Shop the Sales Rooms and Racks at your favorite high-end stores.

One of my absolute favorite stores to shop at is Von Maur and they have amazing sales. Eventually, everything ends up on the sale rack and they do 3 markdowns and being that I’ve been a loyal customer for over a decade, I know the days they do first markdowns and subsequent markdowns. Plus, they have absolutely the best customer service, no interest, free shipping and gift wrapping. They are heaven to my budget friendly high fashion wardrobe heart. Did I mention they have an entire room for markdown shoes? Also, FYI, places like Intermix and Anthropologie also have great sales racks. You just have to be willing to take the time to search for them. You may be thinking, that sounds like so much work and I don’t have the time. I get that. I really do but what if you could find a Burberry bag for $100 that is normally $800. Is it worth it then?

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

9. Try it before You make a Huge Investment

Last but not least, if you want something trendy and you are not sure it’s “your style” but you want to try it, by all means, hit up your local Target, H&M, Zara or Primark. The prices are definitely affordable, the clothes are cute and you get a big bang for your buck. The thing is don’t expect Burberry quality at Target prices. Though, I highly recommend checking out the Target special collaborations whenever they are available. It’s a great way to dip your toe into high fashion without high fashion prices.

How to have a high quality fashion wardrobe, fashion on a budget, quality fashion, high fashion for less money, Nordtroms, Macys, Nordstrom Sale, Prime Day, Von Maur, back-to-school

10. Consignment

It is not a dirty word. I am not telling you to go to Good Will and find yourself some couture. Though, depending on where you live, that may be an option. Where I live, in the burbs, it is not. But if you are are in Chicago, NYC or L.A. gently used high fashion at a bargain basement price may not be a bad thing. In fact, in my mind, that would make you the winner, winner chicken dinner. Hell, you may even have money left to buy yourself some groceries.

There are sites like ThreadUp that can help you get that high fashion wardrobe that you covet on a reality-based mom’s budget. My favorite non-traditional ways to shop is via my favorite fashion bloggers. Look, I’m aware that some influencers might promote items because they are being paid to but honestly, I don’t care. I care about how it looks, how it fits and what it cost.

One of my absolute favorite fashion bloggers, Paola Alberdi of Blank Itinerary, always features a swipe up feature on her outfits on Instagram and not only does she share the brands she is wearing, she shares ” for less”  copy this look styles. Occasionally, if she is going to get rid of something she no longer uses, she will offer it up at a huge discount to her fans.

To be honest, you can have the fashion wardrobe that you’ve always wanted on a budget, you just have to be willing to plan and check often. It won’t be a Target budget but it’ll be worth it. You just have to decide how much you want a piece and figure out the best way to get it at an affordable price.

READ ALSO: Honey, where did all the Toilet Paper Go?

I know there are women who know how to coupon like it’s their job. They have mastered the art of saving money on food and household goods. I wish I could. I hate paying for toilet paper. But, as it stands, I can’t even remember to present the coupons…that I picked off the product…in the store to the cashier.

But, I can sniff out a Kate Spade bag on final markdown like a drug-seeking German shepherd at the airport. This is my gift and I am teaching my girls the same. Why pay full price when you can get whatever you want on sale? That’s the key…what.you.want! Life is too short to put up with uncomfortable fashion to save a few bucks and, repeat after me, every woman deserves a Louis Vuitton. And believe me, it all goes on sale. You just have to want it, look for it and be patient.

What are your secrets for how to get a high fashion wardrobe on a budget?

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Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Disclosure: This is a compensated campaign and I was hosted by Google and #WeAllGrow Latina Network to experience the Be Internet Awesome / Se Genial en Internet program and get pointers on how to stay safe online firsthand but all opinions are my own.

Trying to teach your kids to be internet awesome and stay safe online? Are you amazed by how tech savvy and online in tune your children are? I am. I didn’t use the Internet until the late 90’s when I was in college. In fact, the word processor (for you people too young to remember it was a really fancy, digital typewriter) that I owned had to be pried from my hands and I went kicking and screaming. My then tech-savvy boyfriend, now husband of 20 years, chided me for holding on to such an antiquated and outdated piece of machinery. Hey, it did the job of typing up my college papers and that was all I needed. Or was it?

I mean, I had no idea the scope of what the Internet could be. I definitely had no idea how to be internet awesome or safe. The internet was all new when I was in college. I existed before social media and the internet. Nobody was Googling me before an interview.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kidsGoogle, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Now, I could not survive without being able to Google everything. Like what actor played in that movie that we saw last week who played in that other movie? You know the one. Or being able to Google the passage in the Lord of the Flies that reminds me of that other book? You know the one. Or what was the name of that restaurant that we ate at in the little city when we took our road trip that one year? The one with the weird foods but the really cool assortment of craft beers.

I Google everything and everyone. Google everyone, how scary is that? Most people Google you now before they even meet you. Our children live in a time where very little is private, most relationships begin online and they are slowly forgetting how to interact face to face. The thing is while I am wowed by evolution, I sometimes feel like maybe we’ve gone socially backward while thrusting ourselves technologically forward. This is what scares me.

READ ALSO: Protecting Your Privacy Online

I know to be wary. I went to college before social media. And while I live and thrive in social media now, I am forever grateful that it did not exist when I was a teenager. I did enough ridiculous things that I wish I could forget. Things I would never want to be living forever on the Internet. When I think of what could have ended up online, I cringe. This makes me really want to protect my children from the Internet and themselves. But how do I do it?

How do I teach my kids to be internet awesome and stay safe online?

Yes, there are many ways to put parental restrictions on the Internet and you can try to limit your child’s exposure but the fact of the matter is that you can’t keep them in that internet bubble forever. The best thing that we can do for our children is to teach them to use the internet responsibly. We won’t be there forever so we need to teach them to make good choices. Respect themselves. Respect others and to have a healthy distrust in people that they have never met in person because a person behind a screen can pretend to be anyone and people aren’t always who they pretend to be online, or in person for that matter. It’s basically like teaching them about sex, drugs and alcohol. The internet can be an amazing place but it can also be that dangerous in the hands of unsuspecting, naive children.

When our children are young, we do our best to help them get the most out of the internet while protecting them from the risks and downsides of the online world. As children mature into the tween and teen years, our roles shift from helping them learn to make their own safe and thoughtful decisions as they begin to navigate their digital lives.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Google believes in partnering with teachers and parents to prepare students to be internet awesome:

Think critically and evaluate websites, email and other content online.

Protect themselves from online threats, including bullying and scams.

Get smart about sharing: what, when, how, and with whom.

Be kind and respectful toward other people online, including respecting their privacy.

Ask for help with tricky situation from a parent or other trusted adult.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

To aid parents in this new milestone, this year, Google has developed a multifaceted program, Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial En Internet designed to teach kids the skills they need to be safe and smart online. This FREE digital citizenship and online safety program are available to everyone.

READ ALSO: Cyber Fan or Cyberstalker and how to know the difference

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

One of the resources, Interland, is a browser-based game that makes learning these skills interactive and fun – just like the Internet itself. Developed by Google in partnership with educators, researchers, and online-safety experts at iKeepSafe.org, Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial En Internet provides fun, age-appropriate learning experiences built around five foundational lessons:

  • Share with Care | Online Reputation
  • Donʼt Fall for Fake | Phishing & Scams
  • Secure Your Secrets | Privacy & Security
  • Itʼs Cool to Be Kind | Online Harassment
  • When in Doubt, Talk It Out | Inappropriate Content

Smart, safe technology usage can enable students to help drive their own learning and help schools function better. It is a definite step toward ensuring that all students learning, exploring, and staying safe online, inside and outside school walls.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

Last week, I saw the program in action at an event hosted by Google for students and their parents at Gallistel Language Academy in Chicago. It was moving to see all these parents show up for their children on a weekday, in the middle of the day. They know that it’s important that we teach our kids to be safe online because we can’t watch them every minute of every day.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

The event was packed with eager children and willing parents, experiencing the Be Internet Awesome program; playing Interland and learning valuable lessons about the digital world. Google had plenty of staff on site to walk families through the program. The kids even received a certificate once they completed Interland and were certified to be internet awesome. It was a great learning experience and I loved seeing how proud the families were of their children.

But Be Internet Awesome/ Se Genial en Internet is not just for those who could attend the event, you can teach your own children to be internet awesome by visiting the Be internet awesome website and letting your kids learn how to navigate their digital lives safely.

Google, Be Internet Awesome, Se Genial En Internet, Gallistel Language Academy, Chicago, Keeping kids safe online, Teaching kids how to navigate the internet, Online Safety for kids

What’s the most important thing you think your child needs to know to be internet safe? Does your child know how to be awesome online / se genial en internet and stay safe online? Are you sure?

How do you teach your kids to be internet awesome/ se genial en internet and stay safe online?

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first day of school, back to school, the different kinds of moms you meet on the first day of school, letting go

How can it already be the first day of school? This morning my girls went back to school and, honestly, I am not ok with it. Usually, by this point in the summer, I am ready for them to go back to school. We all begin to get a little bored with one another and crave our routine but not today.

This morning, I wanted to sleep in and cuddle a little longer. I wanted my morning pile in. I wanted brunch and long conversations about nothing. I wanted to watch all the cheesy horror movies and rom coms together. I wanted a few more lazy days of togetherness. I wanted it to be harder for them to go but it wasn’t. It was one of the easiest mornings we’ve ever had.

We just got back from a relaxing RV beach vacation in Cape Hatteras on Monday. Tuesday, I took the girls to get their new back to school/big girl haircuts and pick up some back to school supplies. Yesterday, we had a lazy girl’s day with grandma and today, I swear my girls aged 3 years since we returned from vacation. I’m not joking, I’m positive Bella grew 2 inches this week because she’s at least 2 inches taller than me now and she wasn’t last week.

I used to write about wanting to collapse in the kindergarten corridor because all the new moms were doing it. Misery enjoys company and if everyone else is doing it, well, there’s no shame in assuming the fetal position and sobbing like a baby.  Then I moved on to doing a sort of ninja warrior sprint through the kindergarten hallway to get to my slightly older girls’ classrooms.

READ ALSO: Why 3rd Grade Sucks and I prefer the Weeping Mothers of K-2

By last year, I was cocky. I wasn’t crying. I was thrilled about the sound of silence that fills an empty house. I even brazenly walked my girls, right past those collapsed moms, stepping over the one by one, chest puffed out as I walked my girls to the middle school corridor. I walked them into their classes and kissed them just because I could. I knew they wanted to run rather than let the other kids see but unfortunately for them, years of being the cool room mom have made my presence always acknowledged by the kids.

But this morning, my big girls with their long legs and new hairstyles didn’t need me to walk them in. There was no box full of Kleenex and disinfectant wipes to use as an excuse so I dropped them in the drop off line like all the other parents. Both of them in the middle school corridor this year.

I would have been fine except the Big Guy, who obviously hates me when he kissed us each goodbye this morning told the girls to have a great first day. Bella, my eighth grader, said, “Nah, it’s going to be boring.” because that’s what eighth graders do because they are actually too cool for school. To which my brilliant and cruel husband responded, “Well, enjoy it kiddo because next year it’s off to high school for you.” Then, he left and I fell down dead. He killed me and I’m sure he didn’t think twice or even realize that I am wounded.

READ ALSO: The First Day of Kindergarten

So instead of dropping my girls off this morning and doing my happy dance for uninterrupted work time and no more background noise of tween/teen bickering, I dropped my girls off with a swift kiss and an I love you. I think my voice may have even cracked as I swallowed hard to compose myself. I don’t think they even noticed and that’s what I want. Independent, happy young ladies who face every new day and challenge like it’s an adventure. I let go and it freaking hurt. Hey, what’s going on? This isn’t kindergarten.

I won’t lie, I thought of pulling into the primary parking lot and taking a stroll into the kindergarten corridor to be among my people this morning because I could have used a good fetal position ugly cry. The girls would have never known. Instead, I came home and wrote a sad post about letting go when you don’t want to and holding on for as long as you can. But eventually, we all have to let go. And damn it, next year there’s high school. I wonder if they have a secret freshman mom hallway where I can ugly cry? Well, you know me, where there’s a will there’s a way. If there isn’t one, I’ll make one.

Happy first day of school moms.

Whether you are celebrating or sobbing, you’re doing it right and don’t get too cocky, motherhood is not a straight line. There is an unexpected ebb and flow to it. Some days you are on top of the world and other days, you are in desperate need of life’s kindergarten corridors.

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spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Disclosure: Sponsored by author T.A. Barron and the Spark Goodness Program.

How do you teach your kids to be good people? Sounds simple, right? We think its innate but really, we lead by example. It’s not something you learn just from being told to do so. The way it makes you feel also is not something you can explain. It’s like childbirth in that way. The only way to experience it is to do it and to feel it wash over you like a warm rain shower in the summertime. It feels special, beautiful and fulfilling.

I’ve always told my girls that you get out of the world what you put into it. This is something my parents taught me. Life is not about collecting all the things. It is about living a life that is meaningful, intentional and purposeful and at the end of the day, it’s about being the kind of person that you’d like to encounter in the world.

READ ALSO: The Starbucks Effect

It’s summertime and the girls have had a definite lull in their schedule compared to the school year. They are required to do service work throughout the year for school. This is something they have always done. Aside from that, they’ve always seen me volunteer my time, money and experience for many different causes that I support. I do this because I believe in it and I love actively raising awareness. It gives me purpose. It makes me feel fulfilled. I want this for my girls too.

The world is what we make of it. We have to be active participants. Waiting for life to happen to you is not very fulfilling. I want my girls to know that sparking goodness does not have to mean giant, sweeping declarations of righteousness because, honestly, the idea of creating these grand gestures can be quite intimidating and daunting. I’m showing my girls that all it takes is a spark of goodness to ignite a raging fire.

Each act of kindness we perform has ripples and they reverberate and touch everyone around. Maybe it’s nothing more than grabbing an item at the grocery store from the top shelf for an elderly woman. It takes a second but she won’t forget that kindness. Though it was a second of your time, it might have meant everything to an elderly woman struggling to get her green beans. This causes her to smile and it makes her day brighter, her disposition sunnier and that is contagious.

READ ALSO: Random Acts of Kindness

My daughters see these acts every day. They’ve seen my husband buy meals for homeless people many times. They’ve seen us help our elderly neighbors, take meals to sick friends, give clothing to the homeless shelter or friends who could use them. They’ve seen me raise 10000 for Leukemia and Lymphoma. They know that every act of kindness matters.

I see, when they think I’m not looking, holding the door for people. Helping the elderly at the stores. Donating their allowance to special causes. Volunteering their free time which they don’t have much of to begin with. I am proud that they have made this a priority in their lives. I hope they never forget that every small act reaches many lives.

This year, T.A. Barron, well known for his philanthropy and creator of the popular Merlin book series that is currently being made into a film by Disney, wants to help influence children to find their inner hero.

To support this dream of creating more light in the world, he came up with the #SparkGoodness campaign that encourages individuals to bring good and light into the world. He even provided a list of ways families can spark goodness in their own communities.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind children

Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. T.A. Barron even provided an easy sheet to track all of your families sparks of goodness this summer.

spark goodness, random acts of kindness, teaching kids to be kind, how to raise kind childrenEven though sparking goodness is its own reward, I’d love to encourage you and your families to enter T.A. Barron’s year long #SparkGoodness contest. Those that share are highlighted via his social media feeds and entered to win a monthly prize, as well as a grand prize at the end of the year. The July prize is a set of family yard games valued at over $ 200!

How do you inspire your children to commit sparks of goodness and rand acts of kindness?

 

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tarte cosmetics, How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

When I was a tween and a teenage girl, I was forbidden from wearing make-up. Not even lip gloss. If I was really slick, I could, maybe, get away with some shiny chapstick. Thank you Lip Smackers. But my teenage self had no idea how to put on make-up.

My dad was very old-fashioned and opposed to the thought of any sort of male looking in our direction and harbored even more disdain at the thought of us growing up. So, needless to say, middle school was the pits and even asking how to put on make-up was about as offensive to our dad as asking how to get pregnant.

Disclosure: I was gifted some of the products I use by Tarte cosmetics but all opinions on how to put on make-up and love for the product are my own.

Aside from the obvious and prevailing normalness of hormones, gangliness, body parts changing at lightning speed and an overall collective ugliness that hits everyone in those awkward years, I wasn’t allowed to paint my fingernails, shave my legs or wear lip gloss. It was just me and my caterpillar eyebrows fending for ourselves in a world of shaven legs and make-up.

READ ALSO: I shaved my 7-year-old

Honestly, I didn’t wear anything above that shiny Lip Smacker until prom. PROM! I was 17 and had never put make-up on my own face. Now, on this point I do agree with my dad, teenage girls are naturally beautiful. They really don’t need much but, I mean PROM, it’s like the closest thing you get to your wedding at 16 and 17. You want to be extra. More than Lip Smackers anyways.

Prom day came and I had my hair professionally done. Of course, it was a disaster because the hairdresser took my natural curls and made them into spiral curls and I looked more like Shirley Temple than I had any of intention of looking. Then there was the situation with my prom dress that needed last minute alterations. My prom date was awesome enough to pick up the dress, only to find out 5 minutes before we had to leave that she took the chest area in too much. So the girl who never wore make-up and had just secretly shaved her legs, had 17-year-old cleavage coming out to attack her date. You think that was bad?

My brother was dating my best friend so we were double dating to prom. My brother picked up the flowers from the florist and promptly put them in the freezer. They turned brown. They looked dead. I would have been hysterical had it not have been happening to me.

Then my friend offered to do my make-up. I figured why not since I had no idea what to do and compared to the terrible hair, come atcha cleavage and brown flowers…I needed a win.  In retrospect,  I should have just asked for a how to put on make-up tutorial but alas, there was no YouTube when I went to prom… just friends with good intentions and less skill. How bad could it be?

Bad! It could be awful. I looked like a goth princess. You see how that could be distracting? I had to wash my face off, and apply Lip Smackers as my mom tried to brush the Shirley Temple curls out of my hair. It was the worst. I was crying and mascara was streaking my cheeks. My poor prom date sat in the living room wondering wtf he had gotten himself into. You know, if my parents had planned this, they would win at the game of blockers for sure.

This is why I decided (that night at prom) before I ever had sex or children that I would never let that happen to my girls. When I went to college, the first thing I did was learn to put on make-up. Don’t get me wrong, during the day (most days of my life) I still love a bare face. I’m good without it. But when I go out, I want my face to look like it came to impress. I love make-up.

For me, applying a beautiful face of make-up is respecting the occasion and the people that I am spending time with, in the same way one would dress up to go out. I feel like putting no effort in reflects badly on me, like I don’t care about what I’m doing. But it’s not all about make-up. Beauty comes from within and sometimes beauty is pain. I mean, those fancy braids that look all carefree, they hurt going in. I’ve taught my girls this from the get.

READ ALSO: My Daughter Taught Me an Invaluable Lesson

The girls are ballerinas and perform on stage a lot, so at the ripe old ages of 11 and 13-years-old they already have more make-up experience than I did in high school. But, as anyone who has seen stage make-up, you know it’s not appropriate for daytime wear on young girls. It’s very heavy and dramatic because it’s purpose is to be seen under harsh, bright house lights. I’m trying to teach the girls that you can be creative, expressive and have fun with make-up without being overly dramatic and look-at-me-ish. I’m also trying to teach them that beauty isn’t just about what you look like, it’s who you are and how you behave; it emanates from within like a light.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmeticsHere is what I’ve been teaching my tween and teenage girls about how to put on make-up:

 

1.Beauty is pain.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens

2. Drink lots of water to stay hydrated, maintain your suppleness and skin elasticity.

How to teach teenage girls to put on make up, make up, how to put on make-up, raising teen girls, beauty tips for teens, beauty tips for tweens, tarte cosmetics

3. Wear huge sunglasses to keep yourself from squinting in the sun and to protect your face from the damaging rays of the sun.

4. Clean your face daily. Never go to bed with a dirty face. I use St. Ives Apricot scrub.

5. Use witch hazel after you clean your face to make sure it’s clean.

6. Moisturize your face. Moisturize your neck. Moisturize your hands and make sure that your daytime moisturizer has SPF in it. Also, moisturizing lippys never hurt anybody. My favorite for the girls is Tarte lip quenchers.

7. Always wear sunscreen

8. Don’t pull at your skin. When applying moisturizer rub up and dab around the eyes.

9. Buy good cosmetics and less is more. This is what I have found to be true for me anyways. The more pigment, the less you have to use.

10.  Apply primer and your make-up will last longer.

11. Apply setting spray and you will look flawless all day.

13. Curl your eyelashes before you apply mascara, even if you aren’t applying mascara.

14. Do not pluck your eyebrows. All of us moms who lived through the 90’s can tell you from below our anorexic eyebrows that all of the castor oil in the world can’t bring them back to life. I miss my Brooke Shields caterpillars.

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15. Love who you are because let me tell you what…confidence is the most beautiful thing a girl can possess.

What’s your best beauty secret for tween and teenage girls? At what age were you allowed to wear make-up? How do you teach your daughters about how to put on make-up?

 

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disrupt aging, AARP, invisible woman, speak up for yourself

Disclosure: This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.

People say that as women grow older, they become invisible. Well, I think women have been fed this line of bull ish since they were little girls. I don’t believe that to be true. I believe the myth of the invisible woman is not only untrue, it is unacceptable. If anything, as I’ve gotten older, my voice has grown stronger and louder. I’ve shed the expectations of others like a heavy coat in August.

I used to worry about what other people thought. When I was a little girl, I was even shy. I measured my worth and success by other people’s standards and it was impossible. It was scary. You always fall short when you’re measuring yourself against someone else’s view of who you are supposed to be.

READ ALSO: How to Empower Your Little Girl to Speak Up for Yourself

When I was a little girl, my dad told me “If you have something worth saying, stand up and tell your truth. Never be afraid to speak up and stand up for what’s important to you!” I think he was hoping that mantra applied to everyone else, except him. But for me, it applied to everyone. And believe me, if I could stand up to my strict Mexican father, I can stand up to anyone. I’m not afraid of confrontation.

I noticed as I went off to college as a young woman, I threw myself into causes. I was a member of PETA, Green Peace and planned on joining the Peace Corps after graduation. I was involved in politics and feminist organizations. I was always about power to the people but back then, I kept my standing up to organized functions and college essays.

I wanted to make the world a better place, I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to sacrifice my place in it to do it. I was young and ambitious but I was naïve and wasn’t quite sure how my voice being heard in the world could reconcile with me finding a place and the life I wanted in that same world. I was like most people.

Then, I became a mother. I gave birth and in that moment, I went from caring what other people thought about how I stood up or raised my voice and singularly concerned myself with making the world a better place for my children. Nothing else was/is more important to me. There is no room for ego in motherhood.

Some may see that as a weakness but I drew strength from those little girls. When I thought I couldn’t stand back up and speak up for what was right, when it got hard and it was easier to just maintain the status quo, all I needed to do was look to these little girls with their big eyes fixed on my every move and the answer was simple. It was right there all the time, out of the mouth of my father…stand up. Tell your truth. Never be afraid to put it on the line for what’s important to you!

READ ALSO:  How to Raise Brave Women and Compassionate Humans

I became emboldened with a fierceness that I had never known before. I was compelled to speak up when others could not. That’s when I developed my Wonder woman stance. I was ready to make the entire world hear me if it meant a better world for my girls to grow up in. Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option.

My girls are now tweens and teens and as they grow more into young ladies and are less children, I see society slowly putting its foot on their necks and I will not allow it. I’ve found that the older they get, the more they understand and they want to stand with me against the injustices of the world. Their eyes are still fixed on me, watching my every move.

I’ve hit the place in my life where I demand to be heard. I am the furthest thing from invisible. I owe it to my daughters to not give a spit what anyone else thinks of me. I want my daughters to see me speaking up, standing up and fighting for what is right. I refuse to let them see me give up when things get tough. I will never let them see me go invisible to make other people comfortable and I hope I inspire them to use their voices and never become invisible.

I will no longer let society set the expectations of who I am supposed to be. And I will never let the world tell my girls who they can, what they can do or that they should be seen and not heard.

The older I get, the louder I plan to become. The world will see me because I will refuse to become unseen and unheard.

What is the one wisdom that you want to impart to your children?

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