Tag:

tweens

first period, tween mom, the first period, how to explain menstruation

Today it happened. My little caterpillar began her official metamorphosis into a butterfly. We knew it was coming. We’ve talked about menstruation. She knew what to expect. We’ve been given different expectancies from different pediatricians but if we were going on genetics, she was right on the money.

We’ve been talking about the joys of womanhood a lot lately because I have been experiencing more than my fair share thanks to my cervical biopsy back in October. I’ve been the queen of TMI mostly because I can’t even believe this first disappearing and now, never stopping menstruation of mine. You’d think it was the last one that I’m ever having for all my life. It’s a freaking mass exodus. 3 months worth of uterine lining is.the.worst!

While I’m slipping headlong into the end of my days as a butterfly, my girl is slowly evolving into the most majestic butterfly that ever did live. Recently, I’ve begun to notice the roundness of her baby Buddha has given way to a more svelte outline. Her hair which was once stick straight has begun to wave. Mine did the same thing in middle school. And her once childlike figure is slowly fading out and in its place, a young woman is emerging.

All of these things, I expected. I prepared myself and the girls for. I didn’t want this time in their life to be traumatic like it was for me. Puberty was sort of thrust upon me one summer’s day in the middle of a McDonald’s bathroom. I immediately felt like I looked different and everyone must be able to tell. The same thing happened the first time I had sex. I didn’t want that to be the experience for my girls. I didn’t want them to feel like a freak and want to run away and hide. I wanted them to see it as something beautiful. Nothing to be ashamed of but to celebrate. No, I’m not talking a party for your period, that’s a bit much for me but the cake would be divine but who the heck wants to put on something cute when you’re bloated? Not me.

I want them to embrace their femininity with both hands and be as fierce and simultaneously as soft as they want to be. I want them to love being a woman. I want being a woman to not be so hard. I want them to be strong but able to be weak when need be. I want them to be who they are unapologetically.

So today, I picked up my little girl from school and she got in the car and said, excitedly, “Guess what?” She had a little smirk on her face. “What?” I asked. I thought maybe she had some juicy 7th grade gossip or won some kind of an award. She was in a good mood.

“Mom, I got my period.”

Just like that. As blunt as anything that has ever come out of my mouth. She said it with just the faintest blush and a big smile and a tinge of pride as if she had just joined me in my secret women’s club. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really expecting it but I wasn’t not either. I just wasn’t expecting it today.

I asked how she was feeling. She said fine. In true tween fashion she “didn’t see the big deal.” Then I asked if she felt sick in her stomach or crampy and she said no, just tired. Then, I told her this was exciting and we should celebrate because it’s not every day you begin your journey into young womanhood. She smiled, then looked at me like I was slightly deranged and we all went for ice cream in December. For the record, no one looked at me like I was deranged while they were eating their blizzards.

I long ago stocked the girls’ bathroom with sanitary napkins and liners. They know about heating pads and ibuprofen for cramps, no caffeine because they exacerbate cramps, extra water to help reduce bloating and I’m installing an app on her phone tonight so she can chart her period. I used to hate surprise periods in those first few years.

She’s sleeping now. It’s 7 p.m. I told her she can ask me anything. I’m an open book. I know she knows that but I like to say it every once in awhile just to remind her. I couldn’t help kissing her on her forehead as my sweet young lady lay there in bed clutching her Fifi that she’s slept with every night since she was born. I want to freeze this moment and make it last forever but I know I can’t.

I’m happy for her, this is a milestone in a young woman’s life, and I am scared for her because I know what lies ahead. It’s hard being a woman. I want to hug her tight and hold her in my arms like a baby once more and at the same time I want to give her freedom to become who she will be.

For now, we take it day by day. We read together at night snuggled in my bed. We talk about everything and occasionally, she rolls her eyes at me but now, we share this special new bond. I am her mother and she is my daughter and now, we are both women and its one of the most beautiful moments of motherhood so far. I never expected it. We are growing closer as the baby and mother divide closes.

When we give birth, we are everything to our children and they are everything to us. We complete one another. We need one another, like air. But this new phase on our journey as mother and daughter, we grow closer as soon she will no longer need me but instead want me in her life and the choice of her choosing me, as I chose her, is truly the most beautiful thing I’ve yet experienced.

I’m going to stop writing now because as I said, I am on day 14 of my neverending period so I may be a tad bit overly emotional plus, my baby just became a woman so there’s that.

P.S. I asked my daughters permission before posting this, she said, “Hey, you’re the one who should be embarrassed talking about your bleed out. Not me. I don’t care.” So, there’s that. Like mother like daughter.

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rape culture, girl mom, school uniforms, body image, self esteem

In light of the Matt Lauer (Russel Simmons, Louis C.K., Al Franken, Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and the seemingly endless list) allegations, I’m truly astounded by people’s reactions, especially of shock. I was not shocked. Not because any of these men seem outwardly particularly creepy but because, as a woman, I live the reality.

 

It has nothing to do with what a woman wears or how she looks. It has nothing do with her character or lack thereof. It has nothing do with any of that. It doesn’t even have to do with the man being a scummy sort, a delinquent or particularly chauvinistic or even just the little bit rapey. It has everything to do with the way we condition our children to move through the world from the time they are babies.

 

We teach little girls to be good, behave and learn to protect themselves. Little girls are taught to dole out kisses to any relative, however strange or scary, from the beginning. We use adjectives like pretty, cute and beautiful to praise our daughters. We teach them to sit right, act right and be pleasant and congenial.

 

Nobody seems to like a strong willed little girl. They label her bossy, stubborn and difficult and it is all said with a negative connotation that seethes with everything that you don’t want to be.

 

But our little boys on the other hand, we call them strong, stubborn and smart and all of those labels are said as praise. For some reason, we teach our boys that it is good to be these things when you are a boy but inconvenient when you are a girl.

 

This isn’t just parents and it’s not even willful; it’s a bad habit and we all have it. I am the feminist mom of two girls and I have to remember to change up my adjectives because I want them to know they are more than just what lies between their legs. I value everything between their ears, as well.

 

When little girls misbehave, we scold them. We tell them that is not very lady like. We ask them to tone down the natural fierceness that is them. It is not all at once. It starts on the day they are born and by the time they go to college, they have been broken. But, when boys misbehave we dismiss their bad behavior with a simple, “boys will be boys.” We hold our girls to a higher standard and give our boys more credit for doing much less. This is the society we live in. This is our reality and it has been forever.

 

I thought things had changed. We almost had a female president. But, I see now that it’s just wishful thinking. The reality is that we live in a misogynistic world and those who are not, are the minority…not the moral majority that we would like to believe.

 

For example, earlier this year at school, the seventh grade girls were sent home a special note about their uniforms. The boys did not receive this note.

 

The note was to remind us that the girls’ shirts needed to be baggy, not be worn fitted. Pants should also be baggy, not fitted. There is to be no nail polish or make up. No hair color other than their natural color. No jewelry. No adornments.

 

I can go on record and say that I hated the dress code before this note because I feel it gives the girls no room to show their personality and I tried to fight it but found that female board members are to be seen and not heard. But when I got the note, “the reminder”, I was livid because, you see, the point was not to remind all the children to adhere to the dress code it was a subtle way to remind the girls to hide their bodies.

 

Maybe you think I am reading too much into it; making fire where this no smoke. Nope. A girl wore a dress on picture day. A tween, going through puberty, developing normally and one of the older female teachers forced her to lean forward in an effort to conduct some ridiculous “taste test” to see the the dress’ neckline was too revealing when she bent over. The teacher then pulled it back and pinned it because it was “too distracting to the boys.” Take that shit in for a moment.

 

On warm dress down days, the children are allowed to wear shorts. The length of the boys’ shorts is not measured or considered. The length of the girls’ short is another story. My daughter has really long legs. I buy her modest shorts but, as anyone with long legs can attest, when your legs are long everything looks shorter. My daughter has not made it passed the office one time since starting middle school because even when the shorts are to her fingertips, that is still the center of her thigh and “too distracting”. The message is that she is being punished for being distracting. She is being punished for becoming a woman.

The worst part is that a lot of the times, its other women who are propagating this bullshit. Don’t wear that. That’s too short. That’s too plunging. That’s too revealing. It’s all done so boys don’t look and men don’t notice. Why don’t we just teach the boys and men of the world to control themselves? Why is it the responsibility of the girls?

 

You see, my response was what every mother and father of a daughter should be…outrage. Don’t tell my daughter to hide herself away, to slump her shoulders, hide her natural curves and to be ashamed that she is becoming a woman. There is nothing shameful about being a woman. We are the bringers of life. We are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Tell your sons to control their urges. Behave respectfully. It is not my daughter’s, nor any other daughters, responsibility to control the environment so that your son doesn’t get an erection. Tell him to learn to deal with his own body. Tell little boys that little girls are just like them, human.

 

I buy my daughters’ clothes to fit their female bodies. Clothes that fit appropriately. I refuse to buy them clothes that are too big and ill fitting. I refuse to be part of this problem that plagues our girls and our women. We objectify women and you can choose to embrace your body and be labeled a whore or hide it away and be labeled a prude.

 

If you are thinking to yourself, “Thank God I am a grown woman and don’t have to worry about that any longer!” Are you being honest with yourself. As women, we are always objectified. Maybe there’s no sister sending you home for your shorts being too distracting or a crazy teacher pinning your dress closed at the neckline but make no mistake, you are being seen and not heard.

 

These men in the news sexually harassing co-workers, friends, and women at large they are a symptom of the problem. Their bad behavior has been tolerated for so long that they think we are the crazy ones, the witch hunters, the wolf criers who are making mountains out of molehills. Even now, in light of all the allegations, society is crying out on behalf of the men. Where is their due process? How can we ruin their lives and careers over such a small indiscretion? Victims have to prove how victimized they were, as if one degree is valid than the other. Women are even coming to the defense of men over the victims because they think they “know a guy” better than the victim who experienced the assault.

 

I’m not saying every guy that appears to be normal is running around assaulting and harassing women but I can say with confidence that every man who has ever harassed or sexually assaulted a woman is not running around acting particularly like a rapist; so obviously most of them are walking around looking like normal, “good guys” until they aren’t.

 

I guess my point to this piece is that I don’t feel sorry for the allegations. I believe every single one of them until they are proven otherwise because I’ve lived quite a few years and I know these things happen on a regular basis first hand.

 

It’s not a witch hunt and I don’t feel sorry for men who are all “Woe’s me, I guess I can’t speak to women anymore because I’ll get accused of harassment.” In fact, to tell you the truth, I think most of us women would prefer it if most of you would keep your comments, hisses and mouthed dirty motions to yourself. We don’t welcome them and they make us feel threatened.

 

Women are finally feeling empowered enough to tell their truths; to shine a light on the horrendous treatment that women have been subject to for all their lives. How it effects your male ego is not our concern. We’re not trying to accuse innocent men of wrong doings; we are simply trying to out our assailants. If you’re not one of them, you have nothing to worry about.

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I’ve come to that point in parenting where my daughter looks at me like I don’t know anything.  In one way, I feel insulted because…hey, I know things. I have documentation and degrees that prove it so. But in other ways, I am in complete agreement with her.

Some of the stuff kids face today, I don’t know anything about (there was no Internet when I was their age…. thank God) but mostly it’s the same shit, different decade.

Hey, little girl, I’ve been where you are. It’s been awhile but some things you don’t forget. The tween and teen years are like bad shoes, they leave a scar and you don’t soon forget the trauma they’ve caused and if you do, just take a look at that scar.

And so we’ve come to this point in parenting where, I’m not sure I much like other people’s children.

Oh, no, I’m not talking about your child. I’m sure that your child is (all caps) AMAZE-BALLS (wait does anyone even say that anymore? Probably not. Scratch that.) Your kid’s probably awesome. But the rest of these kids, I’m going to be honest, they are straight up assholes 97% of the time. I know this because I did a study. I’ve been researching for the past 12 years and yep, kids are dicks.

My girls have always been pretty friendly but, even if they hate to admit it, their best friend is each other. This is exactly as I was raised and exactly as I planned. Brothers and sisters are the first friends that you can never get rid of. No matter what stupid shit they do, you have to have one another’s backs. #builtInBestie

The thing is it’s been that way for as long as they’ve been alive. They’ve had friends at school but even when their clique was small, no matter, they had one another. I saw this happening and tried to redirect the direction but I watched them segregate themselves with their inside jokes and shared experiences from their classmates. It wasn’t a bad thing but I felt maybe some variety might not be terrible. After all, there is just the 2 of them.

But in the last couple of years, I’ve noticed them making more friends outside of the friends they share and themselves. Honestly, I’ve taught them to take in the broken-winged birds because I feel like they are lucky to have one another so if you see someone who is alone, go be nice to them. I also teach them, and if you are a long time reader of The TRUTH you already know this, you can’t control how people react to what you do. You can only control how you behave and what you put into the world so put good out there. But that’s it. You can’t make someone appreciative or make someone care. You can just do good, do you and the rest is between them and God. That’s also where I insert the reason why we don’t judge. Not our business. Let people be happy.

But not everyone is like that. My girls are perfectly content with each other on most days but they have made these other friendships. It’s hard to make the jump from a sister to a friend. You expect that same loyalty and love and it is not a given. Not ever.

I see my daughters placing trust in others and it’s like watching your toddler walking towards a cliff. You want to stop them. You can see the train wreck coming from a mile away but you won’t always be there to save them so you have to let them learn. You can try to guide them with your wisdom*ahem* but I can tell you from recent experience, it doesn’t always take. It almost never does.

This happens all through parenting and it always shocks me and I find myself wanting to push other people’s kids down flights of stairs because, you toucha my kid (even metaphorically) I breaka yo face. (Remember those stupid signs from childhood road trips? I’m sure they are somehow not PC. No? Get off my grass.)

Anyways, Houston we have a situation. First let me start by pointing out the fact that tween girls love nothing more than the sound of their own voice, except for drama and attention from other tween girls. Everything is so BIG!

I feel like it’s my job to teach my daughters some of life’s greatest clichés like “Beauty is pain” (been drilling that in since birth) and “rise above”, “Kill ‘em with kindness.” But all that shit is easier said than done, especially when your tween is crying because some “friend” is “being mean.”

Remember when I said earlier that I do know some shit? I do. Because I’ve been the kid who got her feelings hurt and I’ve definitely been the bully (to my little brothers and sisters for sure) and I may have even had my moments as a mean girl in college. The point is that I.HAVE.BEEN.THERE! Right where they are.

This kid, my daughter’s “friend”, this is her third strike and like baseball, when you strike out three times in my eyes…fail me thrice and b*tch, you are out. This kid loves drama, she thrives in it and if it doesn’t exist, she will create it via 3-way calls, text sharing and good old-fashioned lying behind people’s backs. She’s pretty good at it but girl, I’ve got your number.

She broke my daughter’s heart for the first time, last spring, then again this summer and now, again yesterday. It’s like a damn ballet blister that tries to heal but she keeps picking at it and pulling at it until it bleeds. Well, I’m done watching my kid bleed. F*ck that cliff. Mama’s about to be a parachute and we are going to jump off that cliff. Make that cliff our bitch.

This kid likes to talk a lot of shit about everyone. She gets some kind of weird pleasure from dangling people on strings. Snip.Snip. NOPE.

My kid got hurt and if you think mama bears are just for toddlers, you were sadly mistaken. I won’t go all into the details but let’s just say that if you can’t trust your friends, what’s the point? If your friends don’t have your back and they enjoy hurting you, why bother? A friend is someone who loves, supports and cares for you and in return, you do the same. As my daughters were taught in preschool, to have a good friend you’ve got to be a good friend. I believe this. Of course, if my kid’s being a good friend and you are being an asshole, you are a waste of time and vice versa. All friendships are not meant to last forever. You move on not drag it out and try to punish the other person for caring about you.

I’m trying to teach my daughter that the best reaction to an attention and drama seeking bully is to ignore her. Of course, when you are a kid your first natural instinct is to cry and try to hurt them as much as they hurt you. The thing is you can’t fight fire with fire when you’re fighting with the devil.

My daughter was so annoyed because how dare I tell her not to respond when she was so clearly insulted and attacked. So, I told her to give it a couple of days. This angered her even more. She insists that I am trying to protect the other child when in fact, I am trying to protect her. We’ve all been there when our emotions have gotten the better of us and we say things we wish we hadn’t said and we let the other person get the upper hand by seeing us distraught and crying. Then they know….they won.  I’m looking at you every ex-boyfriend ever.

I insisted that she ignore her for a couple days. That drives attention seekers insane. And then in a couple days, if you want to end the friendship, by all means tell her you don’t want to be her friend.

The thing is I don’t care about this other kid. She’s not my problem. She is a hair away from being pushed down a flight of stairs if she hurts my kid again. Just kidding, I don’t advocate violence against children. I just want my kid to keep her composure when she is bringing down the hammer. Shatter her. She’s earned it. But don’t let her see you sweat. Smile and pretend it doesn’t matter to you at all.

What would you tell your daughter in this situation? I’m new to this age and these situations. I know I can’t be there to protect her forever but I feel like I need to be there to support her and keep her from getting completely destroyed if I can guide her in any way.

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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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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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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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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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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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13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

I just finished binge-watching the new Netflix series, 13 Reasons Why and it was truly thought-provoking and intensely engaging. Without giving too much away because I hate to ruin a great Netflix binge for anyone, it is the perfect watch for teens and early twenty-somethings and anyone who loves them.

13 Reasons Why, in short, is about the things we do (and don’t do) and how it ripples and effects everyone around us. Contrary to how alone or self-centered life may feel, our choices and our actions (or lack thereof) can mean the difference between life or death.

You see, I do not say this as a judgment. I own the fact and freely admit that in my teens and early twenties, I was one of the most narcissistic, egocentric and selfish people I knew. Of course, I didn’t realize it at the time. At the time, I thought I was great. Only in retrospect do I realize how truly self-absorbed I was. I was kind of an a-hole and honestly, I wouldn’t have been my friend.

But that’s the nature of the beast at that age. We all are this way. We don’t realize it. I was a good kid but my entire perspective shifted only around me. In a lot of ways, I was still a child only I was dealing with adult issues. That’s a hard time in life. I try to keep that in mind with my own children.

13 reasons why, hannah baker, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

13 Reasons Why is centered around Hannah Baker, a typical teen girl, who commits suicide.

Based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, 13 Reasons Why follows teenager Clay Jensen as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker—his classmate and crush—who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Will Clay be one of them? If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, 13 Reasons Why weaves an intricate and heart-wrenching story of teenage life that will deeply affect viewers.

13 Reasons Why stars Dylan Minnette as Clay Jensen (Goosebumps),Katherine Langford as Hannah Baker, Kate Walsh as Mrs. Baker (Private Practice), Brian D’Arcy James as Mr. Baker (Smash) , Derek Luke as Mr. Porter (Empire), Brandon Flynn as Justin Foley, Justin Prentice as Bryce Walker,Alisha Boe as Jessica Davis, Christian Navarro as Tony Padilla, Miles Heizer as Alex Standall (Parenthood) and Tommy Dorfman as Ryan Shaver.

Everyone left behind is wondering why Hannah killed herself. Her suicide leads to mass speculation because no obvious note was left. But before her death, Hannah recorded seven audio cassettes explaining the 13 reasons why she killed herself; each side of the tape tells a story of how 13 individuals did something or did nothing at all, contributing to her last moment of utter despair and loneliness.

13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

Per Hannah’s last request, the tapes are to be passed on to people until everyone has figured out why she did what she did. By the time the tapes mysteriously appear on Clay’s doorstep, two weeks have passed since Hannah’s suicide.

Clay listens to what is on those tapes to understand why Hannah ended her life but while listening to the tapes, he learns the truth behind what was really happening. He learns that even when you think what you’re doing is insignificant, it could mean everything to someone else. He learns that sometimes culpability is not just about what you did but about what you didn’t do and should have.

13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

Hannah exposes not only her truth but the secrets of her classmates who are, in her mind, responsible for her death. Each tape addresses a specific person who hurt her emotionally and physically. As a result, the students featured on the tapes become afraid for themselves and try to hide their secrets by any means necessary.

I thought 13 Reasons Why was very well-written and addressed a topic that needs to be addressed.

It is a fantastic series for parents to watch to remind us to stay in touch and keep checking in on our children, even when nothing seems wrong and a must-see for teens and anyone in their twenties because it reminds them that they are not alone and we all have these moments in our life.

13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthyThe thing is that if you are lucky enough to survive, you will see that in the grand scheme of your life, a series of small moments are just that. I know when they are compiling, especially on a young mind, they are heavy and all-consuming. But in 20 years, you will barely remember they ever happened.

13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

I think it’s also a great reminder to all that during moments of personal crisis, we need to be able to have someone to turn to; to talk to so we don’t feel so completely alone. Most importantly, it reminds us that our actions directly affect others, whether we want to believe it or not and when we see something happening that doesn’t sit well with us or that we feel we need to speak up about, we need to do what’s right and not just what’s easy because someone’s life may depend on our one second of courage.

13 reasons why, suicide, parenting teens, netflix bingeworthy

I highly recommend that everyone watch this show and that’s saying a lot as I am a Netflix stream team member and watch a lot of shows.

Have you seen 13 Reasons Why and what are your thoughts?

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Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Last night the Big Guy surprised the girls with tickets to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, now playing in theaters. This should be no surprise to anybody who knows us because everyone knows that we are huge Disney fans but more importantly, this is one of our favorite Disney films.

I went to see Beauty and the Beast with big expectations.

I wasn’t sure that the movie could live up to the way I felt about the animated movie. I mean, I’ve loved that movie for 26 years. I won’t lie, Beauty and the Beast has a very special place in my heart. In a lot of ways, the Big Guy and I are very different but when we met, we both agreed that we loved Beauty and the Beast. It was one of the first things we had in common.

The Big Guy is an artist and he loved the original Beauty and Beast because it was animation at its finest. It was traditional Disney. He’s old school like that. I loved the original movie because it was an epic love story between a bookish, headstrong brunette with a wanderlust in her heart ( ahem) and a Beast who became beautiful on the inside as his true nature was revealed. I loved the story and the characters. I couldn’t wait to see how that parlayed into live action.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

I knew the cast was stellar and so was the directing. Bill Condon outdid anything I could have expected. The film stars: Emma Watson as Belle; Dan Stevens as the Beast; Luke Evans as Gaston, the handsome, but shallow villager who woos Belle; Kevin Kline as Maurice, Belle’s father; Josh Gad as LeFou, Gaston’s long-suffering aide-de-camp; Ewan McGregor as Lumière, the candelabra; Stanley Tucci as Maestro Cadenza, the harpsichord; Audra McDonald as Madame de Garderobe, the wardrobe; Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Plumette, the feather duster; Hattie Morahan as the enchantress; and Nathan Mack as Chip, the teacup; with Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, the mantel clock; and Emma Thompson as the teapot, Mrs. Potts. With this cast, how could you go wrong?

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

The story and characters audiences know and love come to spectacular life in the live-action adaptation of Disney’s animated classic “Beauty and the Beast,” a stunning, cinematic event celebrating one of the most beloved tales ever told.

“Beauty and the Beast” is the fantastic journey of Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman who is taken prisoner by a Beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle’s enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast’s hideous exterior and realize the kind heart of the true Prince within.

My family loves musicals and Beauty and the Beast did not let us down.

I’m listening to the soundtrack as I type this post. In fact, we’ve been listening to it since watching the movie last night. The original score by Alan Menken was stunning and new songs added a level of depth to the live-action movie that wasn’t there in the original. My favorite songs are Days in the Sun, Gaston, Be Our Guest, Something There and Evermore. If you weren’t in love with the Beast by this point in the movie, his very Les Miserable like solo Evermore would make you fall head over heels with this character.

 I absolutely loved the live-action Beauty and the Beast. Dare I say, even more so than the original. The story was just as beautiful but the cinematography was out of this world and there was something about the film that not only told you what was happening but was so masterfully written, acted and directed that it immersed you in the film. I felt the film.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Scene by scene, you fall in love with the Beast along with Belle.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

We get to know his soul and it is beautiful. Near the end, when the enchanted household items begin to turn into just household items, I felt the souls leave the pieces. I know it sounds crazy but it was that good. You felt it, you didn’t need to be led by the nose to the outcome.

 

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Emma Watson was the perfect Belle, for me. She is girl-next-door, smart and strong and she plays the part without being ostentatious. I feel like Watson’s Belle was right on the mark. Her understated reaction to everything balanced out Dan Stevens powerful presence as the Beast.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Ewan McGregor and Ian McKellan as Lumiere and Cogsworth were marvelous. The Be Our Guest performance was nothing short of magical. I would have to say that it was so spectacular that it outdid the original in the wow department. I really didn’t think that was possible. Ewan McGregor’s delivery of Be Our Guest was reminiscent of Cabaret’s Vilkommen. Also, Disney fan alert, be on the lookout for the easter egg during the song.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Emma Thompson’s Mrs. Potts was spot on. She was just as wonderful as Angela Landsbury in the original but softer around the edges.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Luke Evans was the perfect Gaston. He was definitely more despicable than I remember. I guess there must be more redemption for animated characters because in that version I found his bumbling endearing. In the live-action film, I hated the character. Luke Evans played the part perfectly.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Josh Gad as LeFou was one of the highlights of the movie. I’ve loved Josh Gad since Book of Mormon (I told you we love our musicals) but Gad made LeFou endearing. In the animated movie, LeFou was annoying and a pest. In the live-action version, he was the voice of reason. He served as Gaston’s ignored moral compass. In the end, he did the right thing. His rendition of Gaston was one of the highlights of the film. Gad played LeFou with flawless delivery.

Beauty and the Beast, Disney, movie review, family review

Here are our reviews of Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast.

I love it! I would see it 100 more times and I just might because it was that magical to me and who can’t use a little more Disney magic in their life? The story was even more endearing to me than I remembered it being ( and I just watched the original over the past weekend to prep for the movie.)

The Big Guy, who I told you is an artist, an animation traditionalist and this is his favorite Disney animated film, said that he loved the live-action film but still prefers the animated one. He said he didn’t like some of the creative license that, he felt, deviated from the original. I thought it filled in the gaps nicely. Then again, I am all about the story because I am a writer and he is more about the animation.

Bella, my just turned 12-year-old, is with me. She said she LOVED the movie and she can’t wait to see it again. Her favorite part was the Be Our Guest sequence and she loves Emma Watson as Belle. She loves the pageantry of Beauty and the Beast and she said that she loved absolutely everything about it.

Gabs, my sweet 9-year-old, said she loved the movie but she isn’t ready to say whether or not she loves it more than the original. She’s my analyzer, she likes to weigh her options. However, she’s promised me a video interview that I will add later today.

Overall, our family emphatically agrees that Disney’s Beauty and the Beast live-action film is a must see.

It’s the perfect movie for all ages. The only warning I have is if you are taking really small children, there are a couple times that the Beast roars really loudly and it may startle toddlers/preschoolers but other than that, be prepared to be wowed by the magic. And you might as well get the soundtrack now because you will be wanting to play it non-stop afterward.

If you’ve seen both Beauty and the Beast versions which is your favorite and why?

 

 

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