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.

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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Mother's Day. march of dimes, anthem foundation, premature births, fertility, regret, postponing motherhood, baby, birth, pregnancy, labor, delivery,new mom, what labor feels like

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written in partnership with the Anthem Foundation, however, all opinions are my own.

Did you know that one in every 10 babies born in the United States is born prematurely? In fact, I was born prematurely at just barely 7-months. I weighed 4 pounds and my dad said you could fit my entire stretched out body in the space between the crook of his elbow and his wrist. I was tiny. I was jaundiced and I wasn’t what anyone expected.

Babies born prematurely before 37-weeks gestation can face a host of issues like breathing problems, difficulty with feedings, cerebral palsy, developmental delays, vision and hearing impairments. I know first-hand that these are true because I myself have had chronic breathing related issues my entire life and live with a 15% hearing loss. I was sick a lot as a child, almost constantly in the early years and fun fact, my mom said when I was born I was covered in lanugo. That usually falls off before you are born, but when you are born prematurely, you’re simply not done gestating.

In the U.S., prematurity is the number one killer of babies, and those born just a few weeks early have higher rates of illness and hospitalization compared to full-term newborns. In addition to the stress and worry toll, it takes on parents, the cost of prematurely born babies is estimated at more than $26 billion annually by the National Academy of Medicine. No new parent needs that extra financial burden on top of trying to care for a premature newborn. The Anthem Foundation is investing in healthy maternal practices, giving more babies a healthy start in life.

Can you imagine? Being so excited for your brand new baby, waiting for months to hold her in your arms and then realizing she came too early before her little body was ready to be born; before she was fully formed and functional to live on the outside. My parents said the worry was constant in those first few months, especially since they were first-time parents to this tiny premature baby. But that was a long time ago and there have been significant advancements in prenatal care and the programs women have that provide them with more easily accessible information about pregnancy and their bodies.

Since 2010, the Anthem Foundation has provided more than $4.3 million in grant funding to the March of Dimes to scale up and implement several programs that encourage and facilitate first-trimester prenatal care and help at-risk mothers commit to behaviors that reduce the numbers of low-birthweight babies.

These programs include quality improvement initiatives related to the elimination of early elective deliveries, smoking cessation, Healthy Babies are Worth the Wait Community Programs® and a group prenatal care model called CenteringPregnancy® (CP). This last program brings together 8 to 10 women with similar due dates, and from all races, ages and socio-economic backgrounds. The women meet for nine sessions. In the last year, more than three thousand women were registered, of which 1,410 were Latinas. By 2020, the Census Bureau projects that there will be more than 13.8 million Hispanic women of childbearing age.

Get Informed visit www.marchofdimes.org and https://www.anthem.foundation.

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wonder woman, girls rule Gal Gadot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For me, Gal Gadot was the perfect Wonder Woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’ve seen Wonder Woman, I’d love to hear your thoughts whether you loved it or hated it.
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what to do when your child doesn't want to grow up, explaining death to children

When your child doesn’t want to grow up, a million thoughts run through your mind. Does my kid have Peter Pan syndrome? Why would she not want to grow up when there are so many things to look forward to? She.is.at.the.beginning.

Her journey has just begun. Every single great thing is ahead of her. Falling in love for the first time. College and all the exploring and growing that comes with it.

Lying blissfully in the arms of her beloved. Her career. Travel and seeing the big wide world with fresh eyes. Freedom to find out who she is. Loving the skin she’s in.

The world is hers to conquer.

I’m in the middle. I’ve done some things but my journey has so many more experiences to explore. The world is mine and I’m ecstatic.

I’m sad she’s growing up but it would be selfish of me to want her to fit in the crook of my neck and to be able to stroke her hair as she falls asleep in my arms forever; though I would, if I could but I want her to live out loud and experience everything. I love her so much that I’ll let go because that’s what good moms do. Right?

But what do you do when your child doesn’t want to grow up?

It’s hard for me to even think about her and her sister not living under my feet. It’s weird to imagine a day when I don’t wake up to one or both of them cuddled into me in the morning. But I know it’s coming, whether I agree with it or not.

But back to my baby, why does she want to stay little? Her answer knocked the wind out of me and all I could do was hug her and let her cry.

She said, “Mama, I don’t want to grow up because that’ll mean you’re getting older and then you’ll die. I don’t want you to die.”

Her logic is accurate. It’s the circle of life, we are born, we live and then we die. But I told her I have no plans of going anywhere anytime soon. I told her that my plan is to live long enough for her and her sister to be so old that they’re getting dementia and they forget who I am. I’ll

I’ll go quietly into that good night then. Until then, I’ve got to make good on my promise to my sweet baby.

What will you say when your child doesn’t want to grow up and has such sound logic to reason it with?

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theater, broadway, mamma mia

Mamma Mia, last week was crazy and chaotic but absolutely fabulous. I had been at Mom 2.0 Summit, arrived home on a jet plane on Saturday, celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday and then on Monday, our wedding anniversary, we celebrated by taking the girls on a little road trip to go see the Mamma Mia farewell tour. I was exhausted almost to the newborn standard but it was totally worth it.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

See, I have been waiting to see Mamma Mia on stage for 8 years.

Since that one time Bella, then 4-years-old, told me that “slipping through my fingers” was “our” song while we were watching the movie. Yes, we watched Mamma Mia a lot in those days. It was during the horrible commuter years. The girls and I loved that movie because it was fun and about the mother/daughter relationship at a time when it was just us most of the time.

Anyways, if you have ever heard ABBA’s “Slipping through my Fingers,” you already know that this song can bring any parent to her knees. It was especially hard back then when I was looking at my 4-year-old and knowing that soon she would be leaving me, well, in 14 years or so. Still, her little face looking up at me with those eyes and her sweet face; I still can’t listen to that song without tearing up.

Childhood is fleeting. It just keeps moving on, whether we want it to or not. Believe me, I’ve tried to speed it up and slow it down many times but it never works. When it comes to time and parenting, we are all helpless suckers just trying not to blink and miss a single second. Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture and save it from the funny tricks of time.

The point is Mamma Mia has had a very special place in my heart for a really long time. Bella has been begging me to take her to see this production for years but I was just never sure they were old enough. I know my girls like musicals and theater (hello, have we forgotten the Moulin Rouge 5th birthday party?) but I also know that Gabi has fallen asleep during almost the last half an hour of every production we’ve ever been to because she’s still really young.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

But when the opportunity to see it came, I knew we had to take it. How could I not? It is the farewell tour and there was no way that I was going to miss experiencing Mamma Mia live with my girls. We had to drive almost 2 hours on a school night and missed a couple classes but OMG, it was so worth it. This is a memory that we will never ever forget. Every time we hear the music, we will be back in that theater, the four of us, singing at the top of our lungs like fools. Dancing, singing, incredibly happy fools. I will never forget this anniversary or that night!

theater, broadway, mamma mia

In case you have never seen or heard the story Mamma Mia, it’s about a mother (Donna), her daughter (Sophie) and 3 possible fathers. The entire situation comes to a head when Sophie is preparing to get married at the ripe old age of 20. Talk about a wild walk down the aisle.

Over 54 million people all around the world have fallen in love with the characters, the story and the music that make Mamma Mia the ultimate feel-good show. The sunny, funny tale unfolds on a Greek Island Paradise. On the eve of Sophie’s wedding, her quest to discover the identity of her father brings 3 men from her mother’s past back to the island that they last visited 20 years ago with Donna.

theater, broadway, mamma miaThe story-telling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship from a good time to the time of their lives. It truly does transport you to a magical moment and if you get the chance, I highly suggest you see Mamma Mia before it’s gone. Chances are it’s probably coming to a city near you soon.

The cast of Mamma Mia was so vibrant and perfectly cast. Betsy Padamonsky, as Donna, took the character to a new level. Her voice was pitch perfect and her big, beautiful personality shone through. Really all of the cast was stellar but I must give a shout out to Lizzie Markson, Cashelle Butler and Sarah Smith. These ladies brought the characters to life in a way that few can. We enjoyed every single second of the show and would love to see it a million times more.

I’m so happy we got to experience Mamma Mia together and before it’s gone. We will never forget it. And yes, I cried when I heard, “Slipping through my fingers.” I sat there in the theater between my two girls, holding their hands while they held my heart.

They aren’t that 1 and 4-year-old anymore. They are growing up so fast and that fact is not lost on me. I know they are slipping through my fingers. It’s like trying to catch sand or water but we will always have this moment, sitting in the theater together listening to this song on a warm night in May when nothing else mattered but being there with them.

I’ll probably never be able to listen to that song without crying and I am totally okay with that because that means I got to love in a huge, amazing way for that Mamma Mia will always have a special place in this mamma’s heart.

theater, broadway, mamma mia

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Disclosure: I was provided tickets to experience Mamma Mia on stage but all opinions and genuine love of theater are my own. 

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discipline, exercise, parenting, how to change bad behavior with exercise

I found the cure to all bad habits and I can tell you the secret of how to change bad behavior with exercise! Nope, it has nothing to do with exerting yourself and distracting yourself. It has nothing to do with feeling better about yourself or being a better person. It’s much simpler than that and I promise you, it works. I am living proof. You can change bad behavior with exercise and achieve parenting level master status. It is discipline in the best way possible.

We all have bad habits. It’s the truth. I try to be a good example for my daughters. We want our children to grow up to be upstanding citizens of the world. We want them to go out into the world and be so fierce and fearless that they impress everyone they meet. We don’t want them to be jerks. One of my life goals is for people to meet my children throughout their life and be like, “Damn, that is one bada** woman!” At the same time, I want them to be like, “What a lady she is.” That’s my mom getting in my head.

I want my daughters to be the perfect lovechild of Audrey Hepburn, Maya Angelou and Lady Gaga. I want them to be fierce, caring and relentless in their pursuit of good and happiness. That’s what I’m going for but I want them to use their words. I want their words to be the vehicle that can gain them entry into any conversation in the world. I want their brains to be their sexiest body part.

I want them to be giving, loving and embrace life and love and people. I want them to live out loud with no walls or prejudices. I want them to fully appreciate the world they live in without fear or self-doubt. I think I am succeeding, or at least on trajectory with this path, with the exception of one small kink…using their words.

This is where it happens, this is what prompted me to figure out how to change bad behavior with exercise.

Yes, embarrassing as it is, I (the writer) have failed my children in the example of using their words.  You see, I know a lot of words. I know all of the words. I am in love with the words. But sometimes, I am a lazy word user and I resort to profanity. GASP! I know shocking. Well, not really. Not if you’re a long time follower of me. I’ve been trying a lot harder to stop with the lazy words because I don’t want my girls to use all the lazy words. So, I made a decision and it is kind of shocking how well it has worked.

This is how to change bad behavior with exercise.

It’s actually very simple. I implemented a rule a few weeks ago that if you (collective you, as in my family) curse, that is an automatic 50 crunches and if you bicker and yell, that is an automatic 200 pushups and so began the hardest few days of my life. Just kidding, I’ve lived through a lot of hard stuff. I was not going to be broken by crunches and yet, 400 crunches in one day…it was pretty rough but it worked almost immediately. Who knew you could change bad behavior with exercise?

The thing that I’ve learned is that no amount of grounding, taking away of friends, tech or play dates will work to curb my children’s bad behavior. They respond much more astutely to positive reinforcement. I’m not surprised because I am the same way.  I’d prefer to get a reward at the end of hard work than to not get punished. I learned when I was pretty young that I preferred to do what I wanted and suffer the consequences, that’s just how I work and unfortunately, I think I passed that strong will along to my daughters.

However, apparently, none of us love doing crunches. In fact, we despise them. Now, these were not your average run of the mill sit ups. These were those blasted ballet/ floor barre/ physical therapy ones meant to target your lower abdomen. No one works their lower abdomen. It’s not natural and it HURTS!

3 days is how long it took to cure me of my cursing habit. 2 days is all that it took for the girls to never want to use any sort of lazy word ever again. You see apparently, our lazy words are not worth getting off our lazy butts and doing 400 crunches. And the bickering, well, my girls hate push ups even more than crunches. Bickering has been at an all-time low. I can feel my sanity returning. It’s all fun and games until someone has to do exercise.

You see, I’m a die hard, forgiveness over permission gal but I had to be the example and so crunch away I did. I’m still doing 150 every day, just in case I stub my toe or something and need that sweet release plus, I could definitely live without a FUPA. It’s so simple to change bad behavior with exercise. Why did I never think of this before?

I’ve also realized that crunches can probably cure just about any bad habit we have. Think about it. You want to gamble, each bet is 100 crunches. You want to drink, each cocktail is 100 crunches. Want to eat that whole sleeve of Oreos? That will be 50 crunches per cookie, thank you. I’m pretty sure most of us would think twice before doing that again because I don’t know about you but a swear word is not worth 400 crunches and there are no cookies worth 50 crunches. Then again, at the very least, I’d be a heathen with great abs!

Would you have ever thought it was possible to change bad behavior with exercise?

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what its like to have an eating disorder, are eating disorders hereditary, skinny, vanity, weight loss, are eating disorders genetic? , raising girls, tweens, eating disorder, bulimarexia, eating disorders, anorexia, weight

Have you ever wondered are eating disorders genetic? I have since the day I gave birth to my first daughter because the last thing I wanted to pass down to my girls were eating disorders. Many of you know that I have been in recovery from bulimia and anorexia for nearly 20 years, with very few slip-ups. But eating disorders don’t just magically leave, they plague you for life. It’s impossible to unlearn those behaviors and almost as hard not to act upon your instinct. I know that’s not what anyone wants to hear but it is my truth.

Today, it finally happened. The day I’ve been dreading since she was born. The day she compared herself to me. The day I had to really consider …

Are eating disorders genetic?

Unfortunately, my research says, yes, eating disorders are, in fact, genetic just like Bipolar disorder, depression and so many other mental illnesses. We like to think we can protect our children from illnesses but what do we do when we are the very people who gave them the genes to develop the disorder? It’s through no fault of our own. We can do everything right and still not be able to protect them from these kinds of things. I’ve tried my best to do everything right and I am super aware of the behaviors because of my own experience but what if none of that can stop any of it?

For me, there is no competition. She is better than me in every single way. She is a tall, leggy blonde with blue eyes that smile, a sweet voice and the perfect peaches and cream complexion. She is everything I hoped to be as a young girl. She is smart, graceful and strong. She is independent, cultured and not afraid to stand up for herself and for what’s right. She is my idea of perfection.

 

In many ways, we are alike. That strong, independent bossy streak that runs deep in her, is all me. Her smile, me too. The intelligence, well she got that from both of us and the culture is something I have been instilling from birth. However, the tall, graceful leggy blonde is not me at all.

I have always been average to tall, 5’7”, dark hair, hazel ish-brown eyes and small boned. My parents are not big people. My mom is 5’3” and my dad is probably around 5’10”. So, I was always the youngest and often one of the smaller kids in the class.

Today, as I was cleaning out my attic to prepare for the yearly garage sale, I was pretty excited because I have a bunch of “vintage” clothing that my newly 12-year-old can rock. These are pieces I loved but just will never look right on me again. I’m not 21 anymore and I’ve birthed 2 children; half tops and low-rise flared jeans are just not appropriate for me in my current situation. Read; an adult with some junk in the trunk and a tiny spare tire.

Anyways, as we sifted through the tubs, I got very excited because I was excited to pass these pieces on. Then it hit me, she is bigger than me now then I was at 21 ( because I was 3 years deep into my eating disorders; I was anorexic.) I knew this might happen, I’d planned to adjust for it but I forgot.

You see, a few months back, I told my oldest about my eating disorders as a preemptive strike. Now, I really struggled with whether or not I should tell the girls because I don’t want them to think less of me, think its ok or, worse still, be responsible for planting that seed in their brain. But I told her because she is starting to outgrow me in height.

Her feet are passing me by and I noticed that when I tried to give her a pair of my shoes, she compared her feet to mine. Firstly, we have different builds. Secondly, she is a ballet dancer who dances in pointe; wide feet are a by-product. But none of that matters because she was comparing herself to me and I was the bar by which she was measuring herself. She judged her difference as a deficit. I assured her that different does not mean less than, it only means not the same.

Today, as we sifted again through the bins, she began trying things on. Things she knew I wore to my bridal shower and on our honeymoon and I could see her judging herself. It broke my heart. I had to jump in and explain that we have different builds and that I was not healthy when I was that size, the size that is smaller than a 12-year-old child. In all honesty, my 9-year-old happily accepted and fits into one of my favorite outfits from when I was 25. I was sick. I could have died and none of that is ok.

I’ve tried to explain that I had already gone through puberty and my shape was different than hers is now. I also explained how I had no boobs and hairy legs when I was her age; to give her some perspective. Still, I saw the defeat in her eyes when she tried on one of my favorite skirts from the 90’s and she couldn’t fasten it.

I know that feeling because even though I was not a huge tween, I was huge compared to my mom. I outgrew her clothes around the same time. This was also the same time; I began my lifelong battle with body dysmorphic disorder so all of this is scaring the shit out of me. Like, I am literally lying awake at night wondering how this is all going to play out and praying that eating disorders are not genetic because they never go away. You are never cured. You are just in a constant state of recovery for the rest of your life. I don’t want that for my girls.

To this day, I follow girls in recovery on Instagram. I’m invested in their recovery from eating disorders. Part of it is because I miss being in control like that and part of it is to cheer them on in their recovery. I want them to get better; to survive and have a life and a family and be able to eat food without mental anguish; cruelty-free without torture. But then I get this thought in my head, what if I’m cheering them on and they see me, overweight now, and relapse?

The same way I am terrified that my clothes are going to push my daughter in that direction. She is almost as tall as me and she is going to be much taller. She is also built more athletically than me. Her father is bigger than my father. She is buying S/M in clothes and I am L/XL and I am afraid she is going to see the gap narrowing too much and see herself as bigger than she is. So, I have to get healthier so I don’t negatively affect the way she sees herself.

Believe me, I know this might sound crazy to many of you, especially if you’ve never had eating disorders but if you have, you know what I am talking about. And if it came down to it, if one of us has to be sick or feel bad or unhappy, please God, let it be me.

I may not be able to change her genetic makeup and predispositions but I can certainly be aware and be present and try my hardest to not let genetics outrank my nurturing. Maybe the answer to the question, “are eating disorders genetic?” might be yes but the outcome doesn’t have to be the same as it was for me.

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Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Z Yang, American Girl Doll, Giveaway

The Z Yang collection is available now.

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

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

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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