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New Mom Monday

American Girl Doll of the Year Blaire Wilson Giveaway, Blaire Wilson, American Girl Doll, GOTY, Giveaway, American Girl Doll of the Year 2019

My girls love American Girl Doll. They’ve loved them since our first trip to the American Girl Doll Store in Chicago when they were just little girls. Since then, they’ve been American Girl Doll obsessed. It was not surprising to me when my Gabs told me that she was excited for AG doll of the year Blaire Wilson and I’m assuming she’s not the only one so we’re hosting a giveaway.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for American Girl Dolls because I remember my niece playing with them when I was in college. But I’ve really loved the fact that each American Girl has a story to tell. I like women and girls of substance and American Girl never disappoints.

Disclosure: We were generously sent an American Girl Doll of the Year Blaire Wilson to review and 1 to giveaway. All thoughts, opinions and my daughters’ love for all things AG is our own and authentic. 

This year’s Girl of the Year (GOTY) Blaire Wilson is no exception. She’s a young chef-in-training who loves bringing people together. Ms. Wilson joins American Girl’s family of characters and stories designed to help girls think about their own character and who they want to be.

READ ALSO: Disney’s Nutcracker and the Four Realms DVD Giveaway ( Ends 2/8/19)

American Girl Doll of the Year Blaire Wilson Giveaway, Blaire Wilson, American Girl Doll, GOTY, Giveaway, American Girl Doll of the Year 2019Meet American Girl Doll of the Year Blaire Wilson.

A natural people person, Blaire excels at gathering people around the dinner table, however, she needs help finding the balance between the digital world and the real world. Sounds familiar. I can definitely relate to this digital debacle that Blaire finds herself in. My girls relate to this as they are getting older.

READ ALSO: The Day My Teen Girl Told Me How She Really Felt

Through Blaire, girls will learn the importance of staying connected to the people they care about. This means more than clicking and swiping—it means truly being there. This is something that I still struggle with myself as a mother and a digital content creator. It is hard to find that balance between really immersing myself in my job and being present in my life; for my children and my husband. I have to stop myself often and just disconnect from the online world. The last thing I want to do is miss what’s going on in the real world. Being present for the moments, even the little ones, is what means the most.

Blaire Wilson is an everyday girl who thrives in using her many talents to make meaningful connections with others.

This is a lesson that I’ve been teaching my girls. Be present and connect with people in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, the online world is amazing. There are so many opportunities for connection and growth there but nothing can ever replace face-to-face connections.

Blaire’s story unfolds in a chapter book series written by Jennifer Castle and published by Scholastic. There are two books available now. Blaire loves to put her cooking and decorating talents to good use on her family’s sustainable farm and bed-and-breakfast in upstate New York. She loves watching cooking shows and spending time with her mom in the kitchen. She looks for inspiration online and saves her favorite cooking and decorating ideas. This sounds so familiar, Gabs and Bella do the same. We watch cooking shows on the weekends as a family and the girls can pin recipes with the best of them.

When the opportunity to plan the farm’s first wedding arises, Blaire jumps in with gusto. However, between overextending herself to create the perfect farm-fancy event and a newly diagnosed food sensitivity that makes her self-conscious, Blaire finds herself more engaged on her devices than at real-life gatherings with others. Like most of us, she’s learning the balance between time on a tablet and real-life connections. Ultimately, through the help of her family and friends, Blaire finds a healthy balance and learns the value of being fully present at every occasion.

READ ALSO: The Art to Being a Good Mother

Blaire comes to life for girls via a beautiful 18-inch doll, featuring bright green eyes and curly red hair. Blaire’s world features an array of outfits, accessories, and products that reflect her life on Pleasant View Farm, including a sweet lamb and piglet, festive party decor, and Blaire’s Family Farm Restaurant, with everything needed to play out a show-stopping farm-to-table celebration.

Some important guidance that our girls can learn from Blaire Wilson (GOTY)

Guidance for girls today. Blaire Wilson is learning to bring her creative ideas to life, while also finding time for ever-important, real-life relationships.

Staying connected. Sharing a meal, sharing a talent, sharing a story. Spending time together grows relationships, and Blaire teaches girls that real-world interactions are the best kind of social media.

Inspiring creativity. Expressing herself through cooking and decorating not only allows Blaire’s confidence to grow, but it serves as a chance to give joy to others.

Finding balance. Discovering creative inspiration online is exciting, however, Blaire must learn to keep a healthy combination of tech time and real-time with friends.

American Girl Doll of the Year Blaire Wilson Giveaway, Blaire Wilson, American Girl Doll, GOTY, Giveaway, American Girl Doll of the Year 2019

Fans can learn more about American Girl of the Year 2019 Blaire Wilson at the following events and activities:

  • Blaire Online Play: Girls can visit http://play.americangirl.com/play/girl-of-the-year/blaire for book excerpts, games and activities, and Blaire’s Life at Pleasant View Farm Vlog posts from her family’s sustainable farm, featuring delicious recipes, gardening tips, cooking and craft videos, and more.
  • Blaire’s Family Dinner Series: To promote mealtime togetherness, families are invited to attend a Blaire-inspired dinner series at select American Girl retail restaurants across the country in 2019.

The Blaire collection became available on January 1, 2019, at americangirl.com; at all American Girl retail locations nationwide.

Want to learn more about Blaire Wilson, connect with American Girl

Facebook: @americangirl

Twitter: @American_Girl

Instagram: @americangirlbrand

Pinterest: agofficial

YouTube: American Girl

I am giving away one American Girl Doll of the Year, Blaire Wilson. All you need to do to enter is leave a comment on this post and enter using Rafflecopter. For extra entries, please see Rafflecopter below. Good luck.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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what giving birth feels like, giving birth. New mom Mondays. new moms, parenting, pregnancy

Good Morning moms and dads of the Internet. I’ve been a mom in the motherhood for quite some time now but that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be a new mom. It was hard. So hard. I remember those first moments after I gave birth and physically feeling the mental shift in my existence. It was profound. It was terrifying and, if we’re being completely honest (and I always am), it was overwhelming. That’s why I’m starting this New Mom Monday series here on the blog.  We all need a little guidance, support and let’s admit a little commiseration.

For this first post, I thought, why not start at the beginning, birth.  If you are like the rest of us, you’ve read all the books, blogs and heard all the advice that your brain can hold. I’m pretty sure that when I was boning up on how to treat a colicky baby, how to tie my shoes got shoved right out of my brain. Anyways, as I said, this first post is about birth. Not the watered down version that the book and your moms and sisters have given you. This is the unadulterated truth. If you are squeamish, you may want to look away but if you are pregnant and don’t want to be shook while giving birth, read on, my friend.

READ ALSO: What Does Birth Feel Like

No one can truly tell you what giving birth feels like. Well, we can but it’s sort of like Marie Kondo writing about her folding methods. Sure, we read all about it but reading about it doesn’t quite make sense. Giving birth is something that you actually need to see to understand and to really get a grasp about what it feels like, you have to give birth. It’s a bum deal but that’s the reality. Of course, I never had anyone even try to explain it to me and that’s why I’m going to explain it to you as honestly as possible.

The only thing people told me about giving birth at my baby shower was that it was going to be such a blessing and as soon as you held that new baby, you would forget all about the pain of childbirth. As if pain could just melt away from your memory like an ice cream cone on a hot July day. I knew then that this was suspect.

I was scared before I even went into the hospital to get induced. What if I pooped on the table? I mean what if I full on, as a grown woman, lost control of my bodily functions in front of a room front of people including my husband? What then? Well, I’ll tell you what then…it’ll happen and you will survive and you will get over it because that will not be the most profound thing that happens to you on that day, not even close.

I didn’t eat for 24 hours before I gave birth because, well, my vanity wouldn’t allow me to purposely poop on the table but maybe my body had other plans. I don’t know. No one will tell me. And anyways, who would notice with all that other stuff coming out of you like a human being. By the way, eat before you give birth. It is a lot of work and I don’t recommend going into 13 hours of induced labor without any food in your belly.

READ ALSO: Mommy Truisms

The day was unlike any other day I had ever experienced in my life. I arrived at the hospital at around 6 am. They did all the normal stuff like check me in and check my vitals. Then, after a slight freak out about the gown not fitting me and the “mortification” of my butt hanging out the back, Pitocin was administered. Recalling how crazy I acted about doctors and nurses possibly seeing my exposed derriere, when there would, in fact, be several doctors “checking my progress” throughout the day, is hilarious. Thank you teaching hospital for giving me a lesson in humility.

Shortly after this, they broke my water. I came into the hospital 4 centimeters dilated. You’d think that would mean that I was ahead of the labor and delivery game but you would be wrong. I still had 6 centimeters left to dilate and as far as I can remember, 6 centimeters is about the same distance as a transatlantic flight for babies being born.

I remember my early contractions felt like period cramps. I got all cocky and thought to myself, this is no big deal. It was uncomfortable but nowhere as annoying as my broken water that kept replenishing and gushing out. Yes, that is completely normal and completely gross (to me.) Then somewhere around hour 5 and centimeter 6, I asked for something to take the edge off but refused to get my epidural. Instead, I opted for a drug that ended up making me feel completely drunk but took away none of the pain.at.all. It was the worst.

Finally, around 7 hours in and 7 centimeters dilated, the Big Guy asked me, “Is there anything I can do to help?” To which I whispered (because that was all that I could muster), “Get the anesthesiologist!!!” What I really wanted to say was, “You do this laboring bit!” He told the nurse to which she replied, “Sorry, the anesthesiologist is in surgery right now. She’ll have to wait.” Did I mention that there was only 1 anesthesiologist in the entire hospital and he was now, in surgery?

I’m sure I looked like a caged, wild animal when I looked at the picture window across from where I was laying and tried to contemplate whether or not, in my state, I could make it to the window to jump out. That’s how bad the pain was. My contractions were on top of one another and hyped on Pitocin, they were coming on fast and furious. I was shaking, my teeth were chattering, I was nauseous and trapped. Held hostage by my body, my baby. It felt like a near-death experience only I never saw any white light. I couldn’t talk or yell, all I could do was take refuge in my head. Try to stay as still as possible, cry and survive this crazy ride.

I never used the breathing that I learned in all of those Lamaze classes. I think I kept waiting until I “needed” them but we went from annoying contractions to frantic, trying to escape the situation contractions in the matter of a few minutes. I laugh at naïve me who wanted a natural birth. I ended up getting accidental non-medicated transition labor anyways thanks to my refusal of the epidural when it was originally offered.

By the time the anesthesiologist arrived, my teeth were chattering so hard I thought I might have broken some and my head felt as if it was going to spin off of my neck from the pain, while he was trying to inform me of all the side effects. I foggily remember something about migraines and paralysis and me telling him, that I didn’t care if I couldn’t walk, just put the damn needle in my back so the pain went away. Mind you, this was after the nurse annoyingly had asked me if I could sit “Indian Style” while I was experiencing off the Richter scale contractions only a minute apart.

READ ALSO: Play Dates What Every New Mom Should Know

*Now, I think I should reiterate here that both of my births were induced and, though I’ve never gone into labor naturally, I’m assuming (hoping) that going into labor naturally is less painful as your body is doing what it needs to to not being forced into labor before your body is quite on board. **

All of that being said, after finally getting the epidural, I laid back and they checked me, I was fully dilated and ready to push, if I wanted to. There is nothing quite like experiencing transition labor unmedicated only to lay back, get checked and hear the nurse say, “Well, would you look at that you are fully dilated.” Then the anesthesiologist says, “We’ll just turn this up high enough to take the edge off the ring of fire.” I felt pretty jipped but at least I didn’t want to jump out of any windows anymore.

The nurse asked me if I wanted to push or wait for the doctor. Since I was much more comfortable, I opted to wait for the doctor. 3 hours later she arrived and I pushed my baby girl into the world, with the help of a mirror and the support of my husband and a needle the size of Texas in my spine.

The “ring of fire” was nothing in comparison to the Pitocin fueled transition labor. Bella came flailing into the world at 4:54 p.m. on a Thursday in March. She weighed 7 lbs. and 13 ounces and was 21.5 inches long. The cord was wrapped around her neck and she didn’t cry at first. She was purple.

I didn’t scream or yell once…because I couldn’t. I didn’t have the energy; I was in too much pain. I had a silent birth and I still don’t know if I pooped on the table. No one told me if I did and I really just didn’t care to know at that point.

They laid my sweet baby on my chest and I simultaneously laughed and cried. Joy makes you act like a psycho, in case you experience the same. You’re not crazy, just blissfully happy. The first thing I did once I let my baby go to be checked was call my sister-in-law and ask her why the hell she didn’t warn me and she said, “Once you’re pregnant, what’s the point. It’s coming out and it’s going to hurt whether you know it’s coming or not. There’s nothing you can do about it but worry for 9 months and what’s the point of that?” She was right.

But I’m here to tell you, those who want to know, unless an anvil falls on your head after you give birth and causes you to completely lose your short term memory, you will never forget what giving birth feels like. It’s indescribable, unforgettable and unexpected but 1000x worth it. And while you might not forget about the pain, after holding your new baby and looking deep into the soul of those eyes of the human being you made, you won’t care. You’d go through it a million more times if in the end you got to hold this baby and that, my friends, is how the species survives.  Not because women forget but because we are tough and love really does trump everything else.

My advice to you, try to go into labor naturally if medically possible. Get the epidural before you are in excruciating pain, maybe around centimeter 5. There are no awards for experiencing pain. Your baby won’t pop out and hand you a trophy and it won’t prevent the eye rolls that they will give you as teens. Bring Dermaplast with you to the hospital. It will be a savior after giving birth.

A birth plan is not a guarantee so unclench your hands from around that piece of paper, unclench your jaw, forget about what you look like and try to relax and enjoy the experience. It only feels like it lasts forever; before you know it, you’ll be choosing to do it all over again.

If you’ve already given birth, tell me about your birth story. If you are pregnant and about to give birth for the first time, please leave any questions that you might have about it in the comments. I’ll answer any that I can.

Do you remember what giving birth feels like?

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Chicago, toddler, preschooler, teenager, atoddler, preschooler and a petulant teenager, raising kids of different ages, age gaps, parenting through age gaps

With the current living arrangement due to the Big Guy’s career, we decided that I needed some help around the house with the girls. Luckily for us, I happen to know of a super, terrific Joe Jonas look alike ( according to my daughters and to their great enjoyment) a little brother who is a great help, when he chooses to be. The alternative was me a toddler, a preschooler, and a petulant teenager.

A couple of weeks ago my little brother came and helped enormously. It was priceless, the assistance that he gave. He was patient, understanding, funny, sweet, pliable, did I mention PATIENT. I mean way more patient than I think I am, at times, and I’m the Mommy. He’s one of those rare finds, that loves kids and just lets them jump, pull and hang all over him. Needless, to say I was impressed & was looking forward to an encore performance from my little brother.

Chicago, toddler, preschooler, teenager, atoddler, preschooler and a petulant teenager, raising kids of different ages, age gaps, parenting through age gapsREAD ALSO: New Mom Monday

Last Wednesday, I picked him up and he escorted us downtown to a meeting for the girls at a modeling agency. He was very helpful and I couldn’t have managed without his help. Well, I could have but it would have been a much more difficult task.

But by Friday, my little Manny (Male + Nanny) apparently had enough and was evolving into a petulant teenager. He is, in fact, still a teenager. It started with my 5-year-old adamantly refusing to eat her apple sauce ( seems lately they refuse to do anything  I actually want them to do). After about 10 minutes of her and

I going back and forth, the Manny looks her dead in her little blue eyes and says, “Eat it or I’ll throw it in your face!”

Chicago, toddler, preschooler, teenager, atoddler, preschooler and a petulant teenager, raising kids of different ages, age gaps, parenting through age gaps

WTF???? Excuse me, crazy..if anyone is going to throw anything in anyone’s face…It’ll be me and until I reach that moment of complete insanity, it’s not going to happen.

“Excuse me? Don’t say that to my girls!”

Him: “I was just kidding.”

He wasn’t and if he thinks I am stupid enough to believe that well, then let’s say my little brother’s opinion of my intelligence must be pretty low! My five-year-old was in shock, and I think a little scared but mostly she just ignored it and filed his comment away for some future therapy session.

Chicago, toddler, preschooler, teenager, atoddler, preschooler and a petulant teenager, raising kids of different ages, age gaps, parenting through age gaps

Come to think of it, this complete breakdown may have started on Wednesday when my 2-year-old refused to carry her own apple juice. The doting manny (fabulous uncle) put it in his coat pocket, only to find out that as he was walking around downtown Chicago he was leaving a trail of apple juice that was seeping through his new Pea coat’s pockets. What to do?

READ ALSO: I’ll Love You Forever

Now, instead of having help, I have a toddler, a preschooler, and a petulant teenager. Not fair! I want my sweet, helpful manny back. Do boys get PMS? Maybe that’s it. All I know is that the only way to deal with a toddler, a preschooler, and a petulant teenager is to take into consideration each of their ages and treat them each accordingly.  My brother has been so helpful, it’s easy to assume he’s an adult but at the end of the day, he’s still just a giant child and that’s bad on me. The key to having 3 kids at three very different stages in their childhood is to treat them all as individuals; little people with feelings and hopes and dreams of their own.

Hopefully, he will wake up today and it will have passed. No matter what, look at how my girls love him! That’s gotta count for something.

Chicago, toddler, preschooler, teenager, atoddler, preschooler and a petulant teenager, raising kids of different ages, age gaps, parenting through age gaps

A toddler, a preschooler, and a petulant teenager

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couple,periods, pregnancy, hot flashes, wonder woman within, adam and eve

It seems like the phases of womanhood boils down to periods, pregnancy and hot flashes. It sounds utterly simplistic but it’s anything but. Each phase brings with it a renewed perspective revealing to us an undiscovered inner strength and the Wonder Woman within us all.

If I’ve scared you with some of the information in the previous post, that was not my intention. For those of you who have been through any of the phases of womanhood already, you’re laughing because it’s all true (and believe me, misery enjoys company). If you’ve not been through all of it yet; you’re either laughing hysterically thinking, this lady and her metaphors are hilarious, or you are heeding my warning and doubling up on the birth control. Either way, I speak the truth.

READ ALSO: Rantings of a Crazy Lady or My First Pregnancy

Nothing in life is free. Chances are your mother told you this. Mine did. Remember men don’t buy cows who give free milk. Wow! That’s a sexist thing to say not to mention, did they just call women cows? Speaking of being a woman, why Eve why? Our first foray into motherhood is marked by blood. I mean that should be a red flag ( pardon the pun) of what’s to come. We get our periods, which means theoretically we can know the joys of pregnancy.

Ironically, if we’re young and/or single the chances of pregnancy is obviously greater. It’s not enough that we’re blessed by nature’s gift that keeps on giving, we must be on constant alert as to not be taught a lesson. If you don’t want to get pregnant and you are young or single, be extra cautious because you are in the highest risk category of those most likely to conceive.

There is a Wonder Woman Within us all

In contrast, if you’re a married woman, in your mid 20’s or 30’s, with the closest thing to sufficient income trying to get pregnant, now it becomes infinitely more difficult. How badly do you really want it? Sometimes it’s easy with a little careful charting and planning (isn’t that sexy?) but other times you have to really work for it… hormones, in-vitro, etc. and it’s anything but sexy. In fact, it’s downright ugly sometimes.

READ ALSO: What Does Birth Feel Like?

The older you get, when it should actually be easier for you to care for a child, the more you want it, the harder it becomes. There is, however, a group in there (who I hope you all fall into) that has a wonderful, loving marriage and after celebrating their fifth year anniversary decide that it is time to bring a child into the family. They go on a nice, sexy vacation somewhere; have a little drink, do a little dance, get down tonight and wham, bam! 10 months later a baby changes everything. No worries, you planned for it (as best you can plan for such things in life). That’s the fairy tale. It’s the dream we all had right after we planned our weddings when we were twelve.

Here we are 18 years and a master’s degree later. We all know that in our hearts this pregnancy/motherhood gig is what puts us over the top. We rule. Motherhood is the phase of womanhood that brings out our wonder woman within. We’re forever are on a pedestal for giving our husbands children (they can’t do that on their own). They can do a lot of shit, but they can’t have babies without us.

READ ALSO: The TRUTH about Motherhood that No One Will Tell You

Motherhood turbo launches us into sainthood. But it’s a slippery slope because; the same is not guaranteed for those poor unfortunates (I only say unfortunate because you never know how the guy’s going to react in that situation) girls who get pregnant on accident. Then you run the risk of some jackass taking away your glory and treating you like you owe him, for sticking him with a baby. Be careful.

Enjoy your glory because soon will come the hot flashes and then the unavoidable invisibleness that soon follows. Really, it’s just the next phase of womanhood and what no one realizes until they are going through it is that it is fabulous too. With invisibility comes the freedom to say and do what we please. It also means our children are probably old enough to let us pee alone and sleep through the night and that’s worth celebrating.

Wonder woman within party at my house.

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