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.

healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with the Anthem Foundation, however, all opinions and tips to keep your kids healthy are my own.

Ever wonder if you are keeping your kids in their best health? I think that is something all parents worry about at some point or other. I have girls and I have always been very aware of the importance of teaching my girls good healthy habits while they are young, so later in life, they are not having to relearn how to eat, move and control their portions. Then it becomes work.

healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem, ballet, ballerinas

Eating shouldn’t be work. Being healthy shouldn’t feel like a punishment. And, for me, kids shouldn’t have to worry about any of it. It’s my job as a parent to keep my girls healthy by teaching them not telling them. More fruits, vegetables, and exercise. Sounds simple but it’s easier said than done, right?

Did you know that nearly 1 in 3 young people and 41% of Hispanic youth are considered overweight or obese? It’s scary but true. I don’t want my daughters to be another statistic.

healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem, ballet, ballerinas

I’m lucky, I’m afforded the luxury of being able to spend the time and money to research and buy healthy products. I’ve always made exercise a daily part of my children’s lives by putting them in physical activities like dance, gymnastics, cheer and other extracurricular activities that gets them moving. I’m not naïve, I know this is a luxury because not everyone can afford to do this.

Unhealthy food is usually less expensive than organic, healthy food. It’s faster, it’s more convenient (especially for families on the go like most of us are these days) and you definitely get more for your money. However, more is not always better. I try to shop my circulars and buy what is in season and on sale so that I can get the most healthy food for my family at the best prices.

healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem, ballet, ballerinas

Joining organized club sports, dance, cheer or any other kind of extra-curricular activities cost money and, in some instances, a lot of money. It’s almost impossible to be able to give our kids everything that we want and they deserve on a modest budget. Sometimes I feel as if I need to be a millionaire just to afford for my kids to be healthy. Most of us don’t fall into the category of millionaires. But, most sports and activities do offer scholarships and financial aid, you just have to apply. It might not cover all of it but every bit helps.

This month is Hispanic Heritage month and I’ve been thinking a lot about how we take care of our children’s health as a community and trying to figure out how we can do better by our children and their health. Anthem Foundation in an effort to create a healthier generation of Americans supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Triple Play youth wellness program. Triple Play is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier healthy lifestyles program, focused on improving the mind, body and soul of our nation’s kids and teens.

healthy, how to keep your kids healthy, happy children, healthy habits, Anthem, ballet, ballerinas

Programs like Triple Play are critical to educating kids and teens on positive health and wellness. Anthem Foundation partnered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America because they share the passion for and commitment to healthy, active lifestyles and to reducing childhood obesity. 23% of Club kids are Hispanic or Latino.

Anthem believes the best place to demonstrate its efforts is by making a difference in people’s  lives and helping residents in the communities it serves to be actively engaged in leading healthier lifestyles.

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camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I’m definitely a 5-star resort kind of girl . I love luxury, lazy rivers, hot tubs, and wifi. I blame my husband. Before him, I was the outdoorsy type. I’m not sure if I loved roughing it or I just grew up in a family of 6, so roughing it was the standard on vacation. I never considered that RVing is the best family trip you can take your children on.

I could often be found hiking, swimming, rolling down some grassy hill, laying outside looking up at the stars or just staring in wonder at the natural beauty surrounding me. I took great pleasure in the simple things. The beauty of a sunset, the grass beneath me and the sand and surf between my toes. These things made me happy.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I graduated from university, started having babies, a bad back and no time. Suddenly, 5-star resorts became my gold standard. I’m not afraid to admit that I adore a good room service breakfast in bed. Achy bones and a weary body make a good bed and a deep tub my happy place. Until a couple years ago.

READ ALSO: Why Every Family should go RVing before their Kids Grow Up

I attended an epic road trip with Ford where I drove from Kamloops to Calgary and it was a life-changing moment for me. I was reminded of how truly awesome this world is and how it is ever changing. I knew then that I needed to share this with our girls.

I came home from that trip changed forever. I wanted nothing more than to immerse them in that inspiring, mind-blowing beauty in person; to see how breathtaking mother earth is without the distractions and noise of everyday life. I wanted to take them to this quiet solitude with nothing but the hum of cicadas, the soft summer breeze as it rustles the trees and the crash of the surf meets the shore. I wanted them to hear the ripple of their life that you can only hear when alone in nature.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

My love for nature is innate. Both of my parents descend from farmers, so we appreciate the earth because we know it gives life. I guess I just never realized how damn beautiful she was until that moment in Banff. I was ready to share this immediately but photos can’t do justice to that sort of beauty. It always falls short plus that kind of natural peace has to be felt to be understood. But due to circumstances beyond my control, that moment would have to wait.

Finally, last month, we got the chance to give them a taste of all that beauty. We took the girls on a camping trip to Michigan, courtesy of the Traverse City KOA and GoRVing and it did not disappoint.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

A bad back and age sometimes make me feel like I’m in my 80’s. But, I dream of sharing all the national parks in the United States with my girls; being outdoors and appreciating the small things that we take for granted so often. I want them to look up at the sky at night and see the millions of stars surrounded by nothing but nature and love. I want them to see the Aurora Borealis dance across the sky and be left breathless. To do all of that, you have to leave the bright lights of the city and go to where nature is still untouched. You have to go camping to really be in it.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We stayed in a stationary RV that looks just like a cabin but is actually built on an RV chassis and towed to its final destination. It was gorgeous and perfect for the first time camper, the person who wants to be one with nature but prefers indoor plumbing, the avid glamper or those of us who just might prefer some of the luxuries of home, while communing with nature.

READ ALSO: The Secret to the Best Road Trip Ever

However, you slice it, I would highly recommend staying at the Traverse City KOA and renting a GoRVing RV, stationary or otherwise. You won’t be disappointed. I know we weren’t. It had all the comforts of home, including tv and WiFi, which we didn’t really use but it was nice to know it was available if we needed it.

Our trip was for 4 days and it was the best vacation we had all summer. We travel a lot and we do love it. We love big cities and exciting things but being in nature is a different kind of vacation. There was no need for scheduling and planning. The only plan was to get on the open road, enjoy one another and the nature all around us.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Camping is the kind of trip that refuels your soul. There was something absolutely magical about sharing the Sleeping Bear Dunes with my daughters, swimming on a private beach and eating the best pizza ever at a market.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

We combed the beach for rocks to make kindness rocks for others. We danced and sang with our tweens as we barbecued outside and laughed so hard that we cried while sitting around a bonfire talking and roasting smores. It was magical because we slowed down enough to just be with one another. We talked. We listened. We laughed. We came back together stronger.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I don’t know about you and your family but I suspect it’s similar to mine, we work all the time. We work hard. Between the Big Guy and I working, the girls going to school and 6 days of ballet a week, there is not a lot of time for just being, as much as we would love more of it. We try to have dinner together and we do talk to each other every day. We make the effort to ask questions even when we are all so busy and tired all we want is a nap and some silence. Camping together allowed the rest of the world to fall away for four days and it was just us and nature and it was truly the most special time.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

Before we even got home, the Big Guy was talking about making this an annual trip. But I think we want more. I’m hoping to get to take my family to the national parks out west next summer, hopefully in an RV. I want that togetherness that camping provides.

camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel, Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On

I only have 6 more summers with my oldest daughter before she goes off to college and that fact is not lost on me. Each moment is precious. I’d love to have at least 6 more RV camping trips with our girls. I want them to look back on their childhood fondly and remember all the magical moments together standing in awe of the beauty of nature surrounded by all the love.

Why RVing is the Best Family Trip You can Take Your Children On, sleeping bear dunes, camping, GoRVing, Traverse City KOA, KOA, Michigan, Family travel

I want to extend a sincere thank you to GoRVing.com and the Traverse City KOA for facilitating this absolutely magical trip for my family. It’s changed the way we vacation. I guess I’m not as much of the 5-star hotel girl as I thought I was. The outdoorsy me is still inside and begging to sleep out under the stars.

If you don’t have an RV, staying in a park model cabin like the one we stayed in is a popular option to try out the RV lifestyle.  Some campgrounds also have travel trailers all set up on site available for rent.
In addition, there are some companies like Camp N Style located in San Diego that will bring an RV (could be a travel trailer or a motorhome) right to the campground and hook it up so when you get there, its ready to go!  These are generally equipped with pots, pans, dishes, full kitchen & bath, AC & heat, too!.

Ready to plan an RV adventure of your own?  Visit GoRVing.com for info on how to get started, how to choose the RV that’s right for you, where to go, what to bring and so much more!

 

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milo's kitchen, homestyle dog treats, fur baby, pet owner, pet parent

Do you consider your fur baby to be one of the family? We do. Our 5-year-old Victorian bulldog, Lola, truly does feel like our third child. We love her and she is definitely part of our family. For every celebration or milestone that happens in our family, we want to include her with a treat of her own. Recently, we discovered Milo’s Kitchen home-style dog treats at our local Meijer store and Lola loves them almost as much as we love her.

milo's kitchen, homestyle dog treats, fur baby, pet owner, pet parent

She deserves to be treated and rewarded just like the rest of us do. Lola has taught our girls not only a love of animals but a respect for all beings and a kindness towards the world. Lola is the gift of love and I think everyone should know the love of a dog and then they’d know how to put that kind of love into the world.

milo's kitchen, homestyle dog treats, fur baby, pet owner, pet parent

You see, Lola came into our lives at a time when we had a lot of love to give and a void of where to direct it. In May of 2012, I miscarried our third child. In August of that same year, we lost our beloved 13-year-old Boxer, Saffaron. For the second time in the span of one year, our family felt an incredible loss. Loss hung over our heads like a storm cloud but despite all that grief we still had so much love to give.

The girls started asking for a puppy around Thanksgiving, which by the way was the due date of when our third child would have been born. I think that made the wound in our hearts feel a little more gaping. The Big Guy and I began to give the idea some thought because we wanted to encourage the girls to heal and them wanting to move on and take a chance on loving another dog was a huge step in that direction. So on December 14, we just felt like we needed to direct all that love someplace and Lola was going to be it. The rest is history.

Lola came into our lives and filled up the hole in our family’s heart. She closed that gaping wound in our soul and she made us feel whole again. That’s a tall order for a dog. In fact, even as a lifetime dog owner, I never could have expected an animal could be such an integral part of a family but she is. She came in and healed us in ways that we didn’t even know we had been broken.

So the least we can do is give her Milo’s Kitchen home-style dog treats. They are mouthwatering treats inspired by the snack we make in our own kitchens but unlike unhealthy table food, Milo’s Kitchen home-style treats are made just for dogs with 100% real chicken, beef, duck and sweet potato and free of artificial flavors and colors. The best thing is the snacks don’t just look like jerky, sausage slices and meatballs but are actually 100% real jerky, sausage slices and meatballs.

milo's kitchen, homestyle dog treats, fur baby, pet owner, pet parent

Lola is part of our family and she deserves to be treated just as good as the rest of us. We want to keep her healthy and alive for as long as possible because we love her. Nothing says, “I love you,” more than something made with love and care.

So far, Lola’s favorite Milo’s Kitchen home-style dog treats are the Steak Griller’s Recipe with Angus Steak (Delicious, tender strips made with real Angus Steak full of beefy flavor), Premium Chicken Jerky Strips (a great-tasting, home-style recipe made with real chicken for the best mouthwatering jerky taste) and the Chicken & Apple Sausage Slices. She can’t get enough of them.

milo's kitchen, homestyle dog treats, fur baby, pet owner, pet parent

If you treat your fur baby with Milo’s Kitchen home-style dog treats or if you would like to give them a try, you can take advantage of this mPerks offer of 30% off Milo’s Kitchen home-style dog treats now through 10/7 (while supplies last) before you head into Meijer today!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and The J.M. Smucker Company, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #miloskitchen https://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

 

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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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