Category:

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.

parenting misconceptions, parenting, tweens, toddlers

Learning how to talk to your tween in a tone, patience and understanding that is required is truly a learned skill. Middle school is the worst! As a parent, it’s really easy to feel like you can’t talk to your tween about anything but I’m telling you how to talk to your tween about everything. Actually, that is probably the best advice ever. Just keep talking and listening. Don’t forget the listening bit especially when it feels awkward

I’m a pretty outgoing person. Classic ENFP. and I come from a big Catholic family so there’s not much you can throw at me that will knock me on my rear end but middle school did. Middle school pretty much FUBARed me. Yep. I said it. It did. Tween and teen chat is something I am still working on because now, the ante is upped.

It’s all that awkwardness mixed with gangliness and those hormones. When I was a tween and teen, I felt like I was living in someone else’s body and like someone or something had taken over my brain and not just mine but all of my friends. It was like from one day to the next, you never knew who you were going to be or who your friends were going to be. 

Things were changing at a dizzying pace. It’s no wonder that I was so angsty. I was spinning out of control and I could not get a handle on it. I was at the mercy of biology and if I remember correctly, biology had it out for me. Worse still, my parents had no handle on teen chat and no idea how to talk to their tween about anything. We all suffered in silence, except for my occasional hormonal rage outburst.

One day I was a little girl and the next day I was trying to hide the ever growing hair on my legs (that my dad refused to let me shave). It felt like it took years for my boobs to come in. I mean seriously all I needed until I was 15 was an undershirt. Of course, I wore a training bra in hopes they’d get the hint and start to grow. The only purpose it served was for Jason and Mike, my former best basketball buddies, to perfect their bra strap snapping technique. I was stuck in status breast buds for like 5 years. Then they came in like gangbusters overnight. I definitely didn’t peak until college. 

But I got my period the summer before 8th grade. It would have read like a Judy Blume book had it not have happened in a McDonald’s bathroom with no warning whatsoever! Wtf!!’

But here I am again… going through puberty. Well, not me exactly but there is definitely puberty happening in my house. The thing is, I don’t want the traumatic experience of middle school to be my legacy so we’ve been trying to ease into it.I’ve been talking to my girls about everything since they were toddlers.  The more you know and all that ish. They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and I think preparation makes everything easier, so we read ahead and I try to teach my girls about whats coming their way before it actually descends upon them like it did me in the bathroom at McDonalds. 

How to talk to your tween about everything. The art of teen chat.

Aside from talking about everything.all the time. My husband teases me that my girls are going to start refusing to get in the car with me because it always seems like we have the most “teachable moments” in the car. You know, when they are trapped. For example, the other day, I was taking my 12-year-old to the doctor for a viral infection. This prompted her to ask me if I had missed my yearly gynecological appointment that she knew I had last week. Bingo, teen chat moment! Teachable moments for the win.

I explained that I had to cancel because I started my period and that would just be rude. Then, I gave her an impromptu explanation about what happens at a gynecological visit because it dawned on me that many women don’t like going. I figured if she knew what she’ll be in for, it would alleviate some of the stress when the time comes to go. I explained that they are doctors and it’s just another body part and it’s necessary to be proactive in our advocacy for our own health.

Which turned into the conversation about sex and that when the time comes that she is ready, I would hope that she comes to me so we can discuss it (without judgment) and she can be prepared and safe. I explained HPV and how most birth control only prevents pregnancy, you need condoms to prevent the spread of STDs. I went on to tell her that HPV is usually undiagnosed but can cause infertility so condoms should always be on hand.

I talk to my tween about everything because if I don’t someone else will.

Then that segued into a conversation about the different types of birth control that are available to women. I may or may not have told her about the time when the patch made my entire ass break out in a rash because I ( like she) am allergic to Band-Aids. I also, may or may not have told her how the Nuva Ring popped out because…cervical fluid and she may have died on the spot laughing. But that’s how we roll. The more you know. Teen chat is not so hard if you just be yourself, know your child and follow the cues.

Anyways, not everyone is as comfortable talking to their children about all of this so thank goodness there are so many tools to help parents these days. We use Amaze.org for the videos and love the American Girl books for written reference.

Here are some of our favorite American Girl books that we use at our house.

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You 1 The Body Book for Younger Girls*

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of You 2 The Body Book for Older Girls*

American Girl: The Care and Keeping of Us A Sharing Collection for Girls and Their Moms

American Girl: Friends making them and Keeping them*

American Girl: Stand Up for yourself and your friends*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Worry*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Money*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Babysitting*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Manners*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Boys*

A Smart Girl’s Guide: Drama, Rumors, & Secrets*

And for the first-time ever, American Girl is taking its expertise on puberty and adolescence and extending it to boys and their parents with a new title: Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys. If you have a son, this is the perfect book. Guy Stuff tackles everything boys need to know about their developing bodies and minds from healthy eating, bad breath and shaving to pubic changes, moodiness and expressing emotions.

Written by Dr. Cara Natterson, board-certified pediatrician, NY Times bestselling author of AG’s Care and Keeping of You series, and mom of 12-year-old son and 14-year-old girl, tackles every subject in a down-to-earth and approachable manner will help spark conversations between parents and their sons, including those most reluctant to talk about what they’re going through.

Now, I know this is a hard time to be a mom or dad to a child in the in-between years. Just remember, while you are trying to figure them out and this new stage of parenthood, they are trying to figure out this new stage of life, living in a new body with hormones and thoughts they never had before. It’s hard for everyone concerned but it doesn’t have to be horrible. It doesn’t have to be.
Through the generosity of American Girl, I am providing the * marked books in the Smart Girl’s Guide Series listed above and the new Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys to one lucky reader. It won’t completely eliminate the awkwardness we all feel in the tween years but it will definitely help make those conversations easier and make your tween feel more comfortable in their own skin by explaining some of what’s going on with them right now. Spoiler alert: It’s all normal. Enter below for your chance to win.

  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided some of the books in this series by American Girl to review but we already owned a few of them and all opinions about how to speak to your tween about everything are my own.

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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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Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Kohl’s. I received the included Carter’s clothes as compensation but all opinions are mine.

As I lay here in the sun poolside, it’s hard to imagine that it’s already time to get the girls ready to go back to school. How can it be? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were celebrating the last day of school? Why do the summers keep flying by quicker the older my children get?

When the girls were little, a year felt like an eternity. Back in those days, I was so exhausted and overwhelmed, I wasn’t 100% sure that I was going to survive the year. Then, it passed and with each passing year, I got a little more sleep, they got a little easier and right at the time you really start to enjoy spending time talking to your little ones and being with them, the summers decide to go by at lightning speed. Not cool, time. Slow down.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

Anyways, my point is time speeds up when we least want it to and it doesn’t seem to care that I’m gripping on for dear life, pulling back while life’s propelling my babies forward. I loosen my grip but then they catapult away in every direction. So I grab hold at my first chance. This push and pull of parenting, like the ebb and flow of the surf against the shore. There’s a lot of bending and growing, the goal is to not break but to grow stronger through our intertwinement.

As the girls get older, we seem to be getting closer. My mom tells me that I’m “lucky” that my girls are “so good”. I tell her, “No, I’ve put in 12 years of hard time to get to this point.” Parenting has nothing to do with luck and everything to do with showing up every single day and being present. It’s hard work but it’s worth it and anyone who tells you it isn’t is either a liar or completely missing the point.

 

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

As my girls get older, we actually have fun hanging out together; talking, sharing and keeping secrets, laughing and loving like there is no tomorrow. They are honestly two of my favorite people.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

One of our favorite things to do together is spend the day shopping and trying clothes on. This was a favorite pastime of my sisters and me in our teens. We could shop for hours without ever spending a dime. It was the time together that was important. It may sound cliché, but there truly is something kind of magical and wonderfully bonding about girls creating fashionable outfits together. It’s more than just spending money on clothes, it’s about the conversations, the honesty and the intimacy of sharing your personal style with someone else. It’s sharing a part of your soul and in the process, making memories.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

 

My girls have to wear uniforms to school and that leaves them feeling a bit fashionably and creatively stifled so shopping together for casual clothes is something they look forward to every single year. It transcends the act of shopping for clothing and the bonding experience, it is their chance to showcase who they are. Their casual clothes allow them the freedom to express who they are on the inside.

This week my sister and her son came to visit and we did something we haven’t had the chance to do in a really long time, we went shopping together. We had a blast loading our arms full of the latest Carter’s styles and mixing and matching different pieces and having a little fashion show.

Kohls, Back-to-school, school, shopping, sale, Carters

 

The kids were giggling and laughing and having so much fun together and, in that moment, my sister and I were those two teenagers again; hanging out in the dressing room, trying to find the cutest outfit for the roller dome, or the football game or whatever party we were going to.

In those moments, we all grew closer as we posed the kids and they made goofy faces. It was simple, nothing planned or fancy, just a couple sisters shopping for back-to-school with their children but those little moments, they are when the unforgettable glimpses of forever family begin to shine through. In those snapshots of hysterical laughing and smiling until your cheeks hurt, that’s when the bond is sealed and the love grows.

If you are looking for some seriously cute back-to-school fashion for boys and girls, look no further. Kohl’s Carter’s Department has you covered because August 4 thru August 20, 2017, Carter’s Playwear is 40%-50% off. Check out the Carter’s selection.

My blog may contain links to other websites. I am not responsible for the privacy policies of those other websites. When you click on a link, your information may be collected by those websites so I encourage you to read their privacy policies.

Affiliate links are not associated with Kohl’s.

There is a 40% – 50% off Carter’s Playwear sale from 8/4 – 8/20. Shoppers can also use the BTS10 code to get $10 off $50 spent on the back to school categories (which includes Carter’s clothing).

$10 off $50 spent  – Sales Date: 8/4 – 8/20 (Promo code: BTS10)

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Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

Ever find yourself wondering how to survive summertime parenting? Oh yeah, it’s definitely different from school year parenting. Sure, at first you think it’s going to be all sleeping in and hanging out and then you realize that you’re not on summer break, just the kids are. You, my friend, are about to start working double time. That’s when your “oh Ish” moment hits you like a ton of bricks.

Summer has been blasting by and I still feel like I haven’t slept in. Well, I lied, there were those 3 days back in June where we all slept in until 10 a.m. Yep, those were a magical 3 days and here it is time for school to start back in a couple of weeks.

I don’t know about you, but when I am immersed in chaos all day, I need downtime…”me” time. Just me. It’s not about being selfish, it is about survival. During the school year, it’s nice because the girls go to bed on a schedule and I know after 9 p.m., I can spend a couple hours catching up on my favorite shows before going to bed. That’s my “me” time. Me, just chilling out, not having to be anywhere or do anything or be anyone to anybody. It’s my 2 hours of the day that are just.for.me.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

I know that it sounds crazy that only 2 hours of the day are for me, but if you are a parent, you understand. The moment that baby comes into the world, you are forever number 2 in your own life and with each child, you fall further down the line. If that’s not how you are rolling, please tell me your secret because by the time I get everyone else taken care of…I’m just too tired to care about me. My priority is sleep but before I can sleep, I must decompress.

What do you do to survive summertime parenting and decompress?

The thing is during the summer months, this entire situation goes to hell in a handbasket. Sure, it is filled with long days at the pool, traveling, sunshine, barbecues, entertaining, bike rides and all that stuff your pasty white life is missing the other 9 months of the year so how can you refuse when your child, who only has 6 more summers in your house, asks you to forgo your “me” time for some “we” time? You don’t. You give her all of it because damn it, 6 more years is not long enough.

Sounds wonderful, right? It is. Mostly. Except, even though my heart wants to give her all the “we” time I can. My brain needs a break. I need to decompress before I explode. She’s off for the summer because of school but I still have to work, now with kids home asking me to stop working to go someplace or do something or swim or bike or hike or make brownies or have a gaggle of 12-year-old girls spend the night. Do you have any idea how much 12-year-old girls talk? More. Than.me! I didn’t even think that was humanly possible.

So, I do all the things. I never exhale until they go to bed, which is no longer between 8 and 9 pm. Nope, I have 2 tweens, so sometimes while I’m trying to decompress bingeing out on  GLOW, Friends from College, Sons of Anarchy, Dear White People, Ozark, Orange is the New Black or The Incredible Jessica James (yes, I binge more than one show at a time) on Netflix, they saunter in at 10 p.m. to tell me what Kelly and Amy said about Jessica and Brittney and I listen because I’m a mom and pretty soon, they won’t want to talk to me at all. It’s like they can feel the shift in the universe when I start to relax and they can’t let that happen.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

 

Though I must admit, sometimes, I want to run my head into the wall because I just would rather find out what Jax is going to do to Clay than why one 12-year-old girl thinks another 12-year-old girl doesn’t like her because she didn’t notice that she was wearing a new bobbi pin. I mean cheese and rice; how many years did I endure Calliou? Calliou!!!That whiny little bald child and Max and a Ruby, where were their parents? Not listening to whining, that’s where. And now, they won’t even let me get through one episode without busting in to ask me why the sky is blue?

Don’t get me wrong, I want to know everything my girls want to tell me. I am all about the open dialogue but remember when the kids were toddlers and they kept asking for water from the bed so they could stall out bedtime? Yep, I think talking this bobbi pin situation is a bedtime stalling technique and I’d just rather turn my brain off and watch the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling body slam each other all over the place. I don’t want to worry about how a bobbi pin is going to put my tweens into therapy. It’s too much.

I really think my bingeing makes me a better mom to them. I need that alone time to feel like a person who has adult thoughts and isn’t just someone’s mom. Seriously, I’m so used to being referred to as Bella and Gabi’s mom that I find myself in the grocery story walking between a person and a shelf saying, “excuse us” even when I’m alone because, really, I’m never alone. As a mom, my kids are always with me, on my mind. I desperately need those bingeing after dark nights to center.

I hear things like yoga and working out help too but really, I’d rather just take a hot shower, throw on my pjs and chill with the Big Guy (or alone) and watch Netflix in beautiful silence, with only the sweet sound of Jax Teller telling people to get the eff out of his way or he’ll shoot them in the face. Call me weird, but I find it quite soothing. The point is I don’t feel guilty about bingeing. I need it. They need it. You need it.

What do you do to decompress? Do you ever sneak and binge watch shows? What’s your favorite Netflix sneak and binge?

Disclosure: I am a Netflix Stream Team member but my full on Netflix addiction was in place way before I was part of the team and the tips to survive summertime parenting are all me.

Netflix, stream team, orange is teh new black, glow, sons of anarchy, friends from college , GLOW, Dear White People, Ozark

Update: So as I was looking for pictures for this post, I realized my kids are awesome. We had so much fun this summer but still, even with all that love I’ve got for them…I need some for myself too.

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teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

It’s back-to-school for us already. Boo. Hiss. Sorry, I’ve already started my waking up early training and it’s not going so well. It’s like being hangry but with no sleep.

The girls are officially 2 weeks out from returning back to the classroom, quiet returning to my house and a regimented schedule being back in place. No more late nights giggling and staying up way past their bedtimes making s’mores or catching fireflies, no more long, lazy days lounging by the pool or playing in the sand and surf, no more impromptu road trips and no more after dinner runs for ice cream. It’s a little bit sad, especially since these days, I am acutely aware that our summers together are fading and before I know it, they will be grown and creating summer memories of their own with their children.

But today, before I go fully sentimental and start crying like the moms in the kindergarten corridor on the first day of school, we thrive in chaos. We ride the bikes under the shadows of the big branch of the trees, we feel the sun shine on our faces and we act as silly as we want; laughing at the most nonsensical things that are only funny because of inside jokes we share. Tonight, we stay up too late at the drive-in. We try to sop and soak up every second of summer together goodness.

I’m not in denial. I know what’s coming for us and it’s serious business. It’s the beginning of 5th and 7th grade. It’s first day nerves followed by the relief of seeing familiar faces and falling back into routines. It’s letting go and holding on. It’s watching my little girls’ metamorphosis into smart, funny, quirky adolescents. Being a mother is a lifetime of witnessing a series of miracles small and large. It’s seeing my past in their present.It’s being there to pick them up when they stumble. Mostly, it’s all of us growing and embracing this new phase of childhood and motherhood. It’s hard because it’s so important but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be.

My parenting philosophy has always been the same, spend your time on the things that matter the most. Prioritize like your life depends on it and never lose sight of what’s important. Work smarter, not harder. So, obviously, most days my house looks like a couple hurricanes made a pass through. Dishes often set in my sink awaiting the quiet and stillness of bedtime. The dust bunnies these days are as big as the ones in my backyard and the fingerprints on the hallway mirror are of all sizes because the girls have grown in the past six years. The thing is that I’ve had to learn to let that stuff go because if not, I waste valuable time focusing on the wrong things.

I don’t want my girls to look back in 20 years and remember how grouchy I was about disheveled pillows or unfolded laundry. I want them to look back and remember one feeling, in particular, the “my mom loved the crap out of me” feeling. I want it to come over them slowly from their head to their toes like a heart hug and I want them to smile, knowing they are loved unconditionally and for eternity. Then, I want them to go forth and spread that love to their own families.

This year, when I started my chaotic, “chicken with my head cut off” dance that I do every year (otherwise known as back-to-school shopping, a mix of half rebellion and irritation that obligation has crept into our last remaining summer days together) I reminded myself to work smarter and not harder. Firstly, I didn’t wait until 2 days before school started. I started 3 weeks early. I ordered all of our uniforms online. It was perfect because all of the back-to-school sales have started but the stock is still plentiful and all sizes are available. In fact, they are already here and hung in the closets ready for the first day of school. Unlike the year I waited until the very last minute and had to order plus size for my stick straight child because that was all that was left. It did not work out well for us and I do not recommend it.

Then, I used some gift cards that I had to order backpacks. The girls and I spent a good half-an-hour online looking through all the backpacks and I let them pick whichever ones they wanted. In the past, I limited their options and they were very limited but I feel that at 10 and 12-years-old, they know what they need to meet their backpacking needs at school better than I do. They’ll be here tomorrow.

My least favorite thing about back-to-school is the dreaded school supply list. It’s so large and tedious. The four of us pile in the Enclave, take a deep breath and get our game faces on before venturing into the back-to-school section of Walmart or Target. None of us are happy.

Every year, some or all of us have a breakdown inside the store over something like a decorated folder or stretchy book cover. It’s sensory overload with parents on edge, children on meltdown and everyone annoyed at the entire experience. All of that up and down the aisles back and forth is dizzying. I feel like I need a Dramamine just to get through it.

But then this year, I found out about TeacherLists.com when I was approached to work with them and OMG, what? I wish I knew about this before. So what is TeacherLists.com, you ask? It’s a website that makes convenience for you, its mission. Because they understand how precious these last few days of sucking out the marrow of summer are to all of us.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

It’s this simple. Go to TeacherLists.com, put in your zip code, locate your child’s school supply list immediately, click on it and the supply list will be available (if not, don’t worry it will be soon) and it curates the entire list for you. All you need to do is pick which retailer you want to use (there are several to choose from including Amazon, Target, Jet and Walmart) and then check your list, you may want to make some adjustments for style (you know backpacks, folders, and brands) and then you can put it in your cart and either have it delivered to your front door or pick up at the store if more convenient for you. The curated cart will also tell you if any of the products are not available or out of stock so you can plan accordingly.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply listsAside from saving yourself the hassle of dealing with the crazy that always exists in the stores at back-to-school and your sanity. You save yourself the aggravation of trying to locate the supply list itself because it is right there on the website. If it hasn’t been uploaded yet, you can receive an alert when the list has been posted. Then you get to spend more laughter-filled moments of ice cream running down your elbows in the sunshine with the little people you love the most instead of wasting that time being annoyed that you can’t find some imaginary brand of watercolor paints that the new teacher added to the list just to keep you on your toes.

If you really do enjoy the whole back-to-school shopping experience (you unicorn, you) you can use TeacherLists.com to print the list off and experience it in real time. I’ll pass. See you on the other side, friend.

teacherlists, back-to-school, shopping, school supply lists

Visit TeacherLists.com for a quick and convenient way to shop for your child’s school supplies. Spend that extra time together at the lake, looking at the stars, sitting around a campfire and being present together because these are the series of moments that make up a life well-lived.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by TeacherLists.com and The Motherhood. All opinions about back-to-school shopping are my own.

 

 

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ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist, Hershey's, S'mores, summer, family, traditions, fireflies, campfire

Need some tips for surviving summer camp? I’ve got you covered. Camps are hard on everyone involved. On paper, they look great. You think 2 weeks to a month of kids who aren’t “bored” and it gives parents a nice mental health break. We always seem to forget how hard it really is; emotionally, physically and mentally. That which doesn’t break us makes us stronger, right?

We are in week 2 of ballet camp. It’s not like a regular camp where you swim, ride horses and eat s’mores with your friends in the woods and miss your parents. That would be awesome, right? No, it’s a lot more like boot camp. 8-hours a day of pushing your body to the limit. It’s basically football camp without the pads. No sleeping away, just grouchy parents and kids who have to get up way too early during the summer and are perpetually tired for 14 days.

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

The girls have blisters, leg cramps and blissful exhaustion to show for it. But they’ve stopped complaining and started embracing the challenges. In fact, I think they are actually starting to feel some pride in the hard work even if they do want to rip their feet off and beat everyone with them. I’m proud of them.

Epsom salt, rest, and repeat. That’s the drill. But when you’re pushing your body that hard, some things are unavoidable. Cramps and exhaustion are coming whether you want it or not. Your body can only be pushed so hard before it gives you the middle finger.

Here are our tips for surviving summer camp

1. High protein Snacks

Snacks help to keep you going when you are working out hard. Our favorites are whole almonds that can be tossed into the mouth during classes. Starkist tear and go tuna pouches because you just tear. Eat. Go. no can opener needed. Each pouch has at least 13+ gm of lean protein and only 110 calories, or less.

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

It’s perfect for starving ballerinas for lunch or after camp. They can just eat it right out of the pouch but sometimes waiting for dinner is not an option. My girls love the New Tuna Creations Thai Chili Style tuna on a sundried tomato cracker and topped with sliced avocado. It is delicious! And we never get bored because there are so many different flavors. Available in 21 varieties, including 13 deliciously seasoned Tuna & Salmon Creations, tuna & salmon in water or oil, as well as low sodium options.

2. Water and more water

Dehydration is no joke and nothing will make your legs cramp up more than overworking dehydrated legs. The recommended daily amount of water is 64 ounces so when dancing you should strive for at least that amount.

3. Epsom salt baths

Pushing your body hard can cause your muscles to ache and revolt. It’s the price you pay for being awesome. So if you are an athlete, just starting back to working out or a ballerina dancing her toes off, a 20-minute soak in an Epsom salt bath will help tremendously. Bonus points for achy ballerina feet if you use peppermint oil in your Epsom salt bath.

4. Sleep

You know how your mom always told you that you need at least 8-hours of sleep to feel rested. Mom was onto something. When you are working your body out, you need to give it time to heal and replenish. It’s like driving a car. You’ve got to put gas in that baby to get it going. Well, for the human body you need to feed it plenty of good foods and let it rest so it can go hard again the next day. If not, you’ll burn out and won’t be able to meet your goals.

5. Blister Band-Aids

New shoes, old shoes that or too small or just pointe shoes in general if you are going to be dancing for long amounts of time, you need to invest in blister Band-Aids. They are some sort of magical little Band-Aids that are silicon not latex and are very tiny (made just to cover the blister) and helps to speed up the healing process. I used these on my daughter’s toes last week and after one day, she was fine. These would also be great for anyone who has gotten a blister from breaking in new shoes, in general. I wish I had these when I was breaking in all those flats in middle school!

ballet camp, how to survive camp, ballet, sports, Starkist

 

I know these all sound simple and like no brainers but they are still great tips for any athlete this summer; from the soccer field to the pool and even in the dance studio, these tips will help keep your little one (and yourself) upright and healthy so that they can do their best.

What are your best tips for surviving summer camp?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored collaboration with Starkist but all opinions and tips for surviving summer camp are my own.

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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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ballet, how to raise resilient hardworking children, teaching responsibility, blisters, how to heal blisters

Calling all parents of snowflake babies do you ever find yourself confronted with how to raise resilient hardworking children in a world where everybody gets a trophy?

Yesterday, ballet youth company camp started and with that comes all of the excitement and pain that anything beautiful brings with it. I’ve taught the girls that beauty is pain since they were old enough to have their hair brushed. No point in bullshitting about it, right? It’s true anything that is beautiful in this world takes some pain to get there.

Ballet is no exception, especially when you’re dancing on pointe. Have you seen a ballerina’s feet? Those poor beautiful creatures, flit and leap all over that stage looking as graceful as gazelles while their feet are bleeding and being blistered and ripped to shreds. Beauty is pain, kids. Yet, they do it all with a smile on their face because, really, how creepy would a ballerina grimacing in pain be? We only see the end result, the beauty they create. We don’t see the ugly crying and pain behind the beauty.

ballet, how to raise resilient hardworking children, teaching responsibility, blisters, how to heal

Yesterday was the girls’ first day back to the ballet after a month off. My oldest tried to do footwork but we traveled 15 of the past 30 days and it’s pretty difficult to stay focused and get it done when you’re in a hotel room and Disney World or the beach is calling to you. I blame myself but I feel like kids need a summer. Anyways, it takes 3 days to start losing muscle memory and 2 weeks to build it back up, you do the math.

My oldest came home with 2 blood blisters on each pinky toe from pointe yesterday. This was to be expected but that doesn’t stop a 12-year-old from having an epic full-on drama meltdown. To be honest, I haven’t seen her this full-blown meltdown since she was about 3 but this was much worse.

She came out of camp with a stern look on her face and I knew something was wrong but she was quiet; that scary quiet that people get right before they go postal. I inquired, she snipped, as tired tweens who just danced for 8 hours are known to do and then we got to the car and the tears came. The tired frustration that comes with working hard and not feeling like you got to where you wanted to be frustration. The feeling of failure that no mom ever wants to see on her child’s face but is completely necessary to make her a functioning member of society.

Her first action was to tell me of all the horror and pain that she was experiencing from the blisters. I sat quietly until she was finished because I know sometimes we just have to vent and we don’t necessarily want to have anyone fix it for us. We just want them to listen so that we feel heard. I did that as she cried.

I’m still learning how to raise resilient hardworking children in this crazy world where they expect everything to be handed to them. So I thought for a moment.

Then I offered up multiple ways that I would help ease her blister pain when we got home; Advil, Neosporin, ice, Epsom salt, powder and a shoulder to cry on. I also provided some empathy to let her know that we’ve been there. Her father played soccer and I wore lots of new flats and pumps in middle and high school (breaking in shoes is no joke. We’ve had blisters a plenty.) This seemed to anger her because obviously, our blisters were not the same as her ballet blisters. She became a bit hulk like and raised her voice at me. I was losing my mom sympathy pretty quickly at this point.

I must have missed the memo where I was supposed to immediately tell her it was okay to quit. But, then again, apparently, she forgot that I am the mom who doesn’t quit. I am the person who believes if you commit to something, you have to honor the commitment; even if it’s not easy. I’ve built my life on the motto, where there is a will there is a way. I am a way finder, not a quitter and I am not raising quitters because that is not doing them any favors. Don’t get me wrong, I know there is a time to let things go but that is different than just quitting because life gets a little hard.

I understand she is a proud member of the snowflake generation (this is more my fault than hers) but it’s my job as her mother to teach her to live in the real world, not the Utopia that exists in her head where all things are handed to you because, as anyone who has ever held a job, paid a mortgage or had a child knows, you’ve got to work like your life depends on it to get ahead…because it does. There has to be a sense of urgency, with some pride and respect mixed in.

I’m not as mean as I might sound. I’ve never been the rub some dirt on it kind of mom. I’ve always been the Sana Sana, kiss all the booboos mom but maybe I’ve swung the pendulum too far in the other direction and she expects me to fix everything, without even trying to fix it herself. Then the Big Guy reminded me that this is her first time experiencing any sort of pain. I’ve lived a lifetime; there has been broken bones, cuts, scrapes, giving birth twice, gallstones, root canals and heartache aplenty but this is her first blister so I needed to remember that. Damn Big Guy and his even temperament.

I still felt it was my duty to explain to her, in my most compassionate demeanor I could muster after being eye-rolled at, that the things in life that we want to accomplish are worth working hard for. I explained that as an athlete (because believe me you, being a ballerina is being one of the most intense athletes there are) you have to work to build up muscle memory, strength, and stamina. Those things are not just a given, for anyone. Anyone who is dancing ballet at the performing level is working their asses off…through the pain, through the blisters.

how to raise resilient hardworking children, teaching responsibility, blisters, how to heal

Blisters are a part of life. Blisters on the body, blisters of the heart and blisters of the soul all hurt. No one likes blisters but there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that you did it, in spite of the blisters.

Update: My evil plan to raise resilient, good human beings is working. She just called and told me that she got 2 more blisters today. She cried the whole time (so did three other girls) but she finished and I told her how effing proud I was of her and that tonight, I will take care of those nasty, old blisters. Hey, what do you expect? I’m human. Sometimes, the reward for hard work is a little babying by your mama.

What is your best tip on how to raise resilient hardworking children in today’s everybody gets a trophy world?

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