Jul 212014
 
Go ahead, Summer, throw us your best, we are suited up and ready to take it!

Go ahead, Summer, throw us your best, we are suited up and ready to take it!

I love summer.  I love swimming in the pool, walking barefoot and the splash of freckles across my nose.  I love lazy evenings on our deck, the smell of fresh-cut grass and sleeping with the windows open.  I love the ease of trading in snowsuits for sandals and how ridiculously blue freeze pops turn my kids’ tongues.  I love watching them chase each other through the sprinkler in the sunshine and then chase fireflies in the moonlight.

I love summer so much I’ll even tolerate the not-fun things.  The infinite number of flies that always get inside our house no matter how many times I holler to shut the door, the inanely popular notion that I should expose my legs to the world at large by wearing shorts, and my endless non-sexy sweating.  For the chance to wear cute sandals, I’ll agree to endless toenail-painting.  And because I am a good sport, I’ll even put up with the fact that those popsicles make every single surface of my home sticky, including my children.

I won’t lie; I jumped for joy when the school year ended.  Mostly because I spent nine months fruitlessly trying to figure out how be on time and I officially had to resign my title as The Late Mom. Darn.

I longed for staying-in mornings, relaxed visits with friends, birthday parties, a beach vacation, precious help from my Mother’s Helper, an amusement park visit and lingering hours of daylight.  It was all going to be glorious.

And you know what?  It IS glorious–all of it.  I love every minute of our summer so much.  So much that it is actually starting to hurt. It hurts in the form of countless missed naps, running from dawn to past-dusk, endless fun with friends, completely obliterated schedules and lots of cherished US-ALL-BEING-TOGETHER-ALL-THE-TIME.

I was chatting about this with a friend who is experiencing the same “exciting summer intensity”. I went home, ruminated on it, and then had my epiphany.  “It’s the PACE of summer!”, I later declared to her.  “It’s the pace.  It’s all good, it just never ends.”

Those rare few minutes we could snag in the middle of winter of settling down into our couch? I’m honestly not sure if my couch is still there.  It might have been moved.  I’ll check in September and get back to you on this.

I know I have oft-shared how I pass out from exhaustion early in the evening, but let me give a true glimpse of how our summer nights go down:

My husband (who bizarrely has extended hours in the summer, so gets home late) walks in the door.

I glare at him. I know, I know; he’s a lucky guy.

Shaking it off and coming back for more…

We may or may not eat dinner.  The kids and are in a fabulous state of mixed-dress combining elements of wet bathing suits, day wear and pajamas. If I attempted to put on make-up that day earlier, it is now streaming down my face and congealed in pretty globs as an effect of repetitively chlorine-bathing my face.  I am hot; again, he is lucky.

Somehow the kids land in their beds. I then romantically look at my husband and ask if he would like to watch an episode of Game of Thrones.  We cozy in, I pick up my knitting and then…

It is morning.  I have literally no clue how I landed in my bed or what happened after the yarn was broken out.  It’s sort of like wild college days with a more suburban, middle-age vibe and less booze.

Regardless, Summer has clearly won.  It has overtaken my life and weakened all my defenses of order and routine while exhausting me beyond capacity.  But like a classy victor, it leaves its adversary respecting its methods.  And in this case, it leaves me wanting more…and more of all the sweet stuff it has to offer.

Well played, Summer.  Well played…

Jul 072014
 

MomAssembly @momassembly @meredithspidleIf I had to guess my most oft-said phrase in my parenting journey, “I’m losing my mind” would probably go for the win.  From the moment my son let loose his first wail, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of being completely clueless.

I had read all the books.  I had friends. I even managed to find the phone under some of the piles of burp cloths so I could call them. I still felt alone.  I still felt lost.  I still longed for someone to hold my hand and tell me exactly what to do.

Five years later, I now have a daughter in addition to my son, but overall, there are far less diapers to change and food doesn’t need cut in quite as small pieces.  It’s a bit less never-being-able-to-sleep-more-than-an-hour-at-a-time, but there are other fun things.  Like trying to figure out discipline and making decisions about preschool.

The truth is, I don’t feel like I know anything more than when I first started being a mom.  I have questions every day.  I find myself longing for an instruction manual…

Enter MomAssembly, the world’s first online video-education site for moms.  It’s an interactive university, available 24-7 from the comfort of your home, that gives you all the information you need to raise happy, healthy kids. Whether you are interested in child-oriented topics like baby development, sleep or behavior or want to focus on more parent-focused goals like finding work/family balance, losing the baby weight or childproofing your marriage, it’s all there. MomAssembly was co-founded in 2012 by Jill Spivack, LCSW and Jennifer Waldburger, MSW , who have nearly two decades of experience as family and parent educators.  These ladies are experts at knowing what help moms need, and they are bringing it to you in this incredibly convenient format.

I’ll admit, when I first heard of  MomAssembly, I was a bit skeptical.  A site full of expert parenting video courses sounds fantastic, but the idea of taking a course was somewhat intimidating.  Would there be grades?  Was there a weekly schedule to keep up with?  Exams?  I have trouble finding time to shower, so wasn’t sure if I could handle going back to school.

But how wrong I was.  MomAssembly couldn’t be easier.  There are no exams, schedules, or grades.  It is super user-friendly.  You log into the site, and the menu of courses immediately pops up.  You click on the age and stage of your children, and all the available courses of interest appear. To take a course, you click on it and then press the play button.

@MomAssembly @meredithspidel

Courses are broken up into class segments, average of about 8 classes per course.  Each class is typically around 5-10 minutes.  You can start and stop them at any time. Read: sippy cup emergency?  Hit the pause button and it’s fine.  Come back when you can–or wait a few hours (or even days if need be!) and come back when you can.

I love that the courses are audio-friendly, meaning that I can set-up my laptop on the kitchen counter while I attack the dishes and still take my classes.  If you’re a bit more modern than my old school self, you can also snatch up the learning from your phone/iPad/etc while you are on the go.  It’s all online, so whatever is easiest for you.

The price of this assistance is minimal.  For only $7.99/mo., you receive access to over 500 classes, over 50 downloadable handouts & workbooks, and you can add up to 4 family members & caregivers to your account for free.  Ready to sign up for the whole year?  It’s only $3.99/month with the annual plan!  Both options come with a 7 day free trial to make sure than MomAssembly is a good fit you.

And as a special offer to my readers, the first 10 Mom Of The Year readers who sign up for a MomAssembly plan from THIS LINK will get their first month of membership free!

Mom Assembly‘s user-friendliness is fantastic, but my favorite part of the courses is that they soothe me.  I know, this might sound a bit odd, but it’s true.  The first course I took was Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting 101.  More than any other course, this title appealed to me (My stress level of late managing my 2 and 5 yr. old has a “bit” high), so I eagerly selected this course.  As I listened to the the instructor speak, I felt myself relax, normalize, if you will.  I was feeling like someone got me and was giving me welcome advice on how to manage my life better.

Once I started, I kept taking more and more courses as I realized how helpful the classes were.  Raising Children that Other People Like to Be Around?  Yes, please!  Please help me figure out a way for my kids not to be the weird ones at social gatherings.  Coping with Preschool Panic may actually be more for me than them, but my family needs this course.  It’s a really hard and sad/happy things sending your kiddos off to school for the first time and I’ll take any help I can get.

And The Discipline Do’s and Don’t’s course has been a blessing–am I the only one who never received the clear instruction manual on how to raise kids?? Check out one of the classes from this course for a sample of how MomAssembly works:

Remember my longing for an instruction manual?  This quote from MomAssembly sold me, “Good news! Babies do come with instructions!”.  The truth is, as a new mom, as a current mom of toddlers/preschoolers, this remains the promise I most want to hear.

Thanks to MomAssembly, the instruction manual is here, and I am grateful.  So, so grateful.

May 302014
 

PACT clothing @meredithspidel @wearPACTEarlier this week I wrote about embracing a thus unknown fashion sense with Stitch Fix.  And while I really do have high hopes of vogue-ing it up a little in the days to come, truth told: as a WAHM of two young ones on any given average day, it is very convenient when my carefully chosen “outift” can roll over from daywear to jammies to exercise gear the next morning.  It’s all about efficiency around these parts.

So when PACT asked me to check out their line of super-soft organic cottonwear, it didn’t take much convincing.  I live and breathe in cottonwear–tees, undies, leggings and socks, all of which PACT specializes in. These duds are my happy, comfy home.

I have spent years seeking the perfect cotton tee without success.  Sure, I have found some fav brands from my familiar haunts, but I had yet to discover the truly perfect tee.  A tee that not only fits well, but also holds up well through the wash and is super-soft.

I had yet to discover such a tee, that is, until PACT, a line of super-soft organic cottonwear for men, women and babies.

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

Check out these sweet items for the ladies!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

My husband was excited to try his new stuff too!

I love all the stuff I got from PACT. The undies have a great fit and don’t ride up at all (I have already ordered 2 more pairs). The leggings are obscenely comfortable.  The tights?  Please bring on winter again for the sole reason that I can’t wait to wear them.

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I sport printed leggings and post a pic of myself in them for all the world to see...SO COMFY!!!

You know that ONLY for a brand I love would I post a pic of myself in printed leggings…SO COMFY!!!

But the tees.  The tees.  The tees.

The thing is, PACT tees fit.  They look cute.  And they wash well. Very well.  So well, in fact, that after multiple launderings, they have not pilled, thinned, or lost their shape–all while remaining incredibly soft.

The prices are very reasonable in my opinion. When you consider that a PACT tee will be hanging out in your closet for a loooong time, it’s worth it to spend a few extra dollars over the mass-marketed cheapies that need replaced after every season.

LOVE this blue color!

LOVE this blue color!

It’s the quality of this clothing that I can’t highlight enough.  PACT clothing is the real deal.

I am thrilled to find a cool new line of clothing that is committed to not only superb standards, but to also respectfully caring for our environment.  As their site says, PACT is obsessed with a big idea: super soft organic cotton that makes the world a better place. Socks with soul, altruistic underwear and other everyday essentials ethically manufactured with fabrics that feel good and go easy on the environment. Sounds good? Oh it is.”

They make fab duds for men and littler ones too!

You know what they say–the couple that wears PACT tees together…;)

It is so good.  And the fact that this company describes their underwear as “altruistic” makes me love them a little more. ;)

Go check PACT out, love on them and enter below for a chance to score a PACT sock wardrobe!  As long as you are a 18 or older and a resident of the continental U.S., you are eligible to win!*  One winner will win one of the 5-pack socks below (winner can choose which pack to claim) Below are pictures of all the different sock packs winner can choose from:

Ladies' socks

The ladies are stepping out!

Deck that dude out

Deck that dude out

Sweet feet for baby girls!

Sweet feet for baby girls!

The little man's gotta take his first steps in style!

The little man’s gotta take his first steps in style!

I am thanking my lucky stars that I’ve finally found a brand that will deliver those perfect tees I have long been fantasizing over.  Next time I need to stock up on tees?  PACT it is.  PACT it SO is.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

****PACT provided compensation for me to review their product, but my love of this brand is 100% genuine****

*PACT will be adding e-mail addresses of those who enter the giveaway to their mailing list

May 282014
 
I asked my husband to pick up "fancy crackers" for book club.  I love him.  Also, if you get hungry anytime in the next 5 years, please stop over.

I asked my husband to pick up “fancy crackers” for book club. I love him. Also, if you get hungry anytime in the next 5 years, please stop over.

Friends, there is very little of interest in my life.  I wake up, I reach for my vitamins caddy and then lube up with my Vaseline Lip Therapy for the day.  I feel blissfully 80 yrs. old and have zero interest in pursuing anything seemingly younger.

On good days, I fascinate over John Stamos’ obsession with me.

I like knowing what will come next, and like knowing exactly what came before. I like order. I like knowing what panties I will wear tomorrow.  And what panties I will wear Thursday.  If there was ever a candidate for Day-of-the-Week panties, it is me.  Please send me organized panties. Please.

As it turns out, life did not mean for this season of my life to be an organized bliss.  Unstated curses following HERE.

You see, within 29 days’ time,  my son will have had eye surgery, he’ll have graduated from preschool, we will have enjoyed some massive Blog U prep time, book club with lots of Ritz crackers will have been hosted, our yard will be played upon by an energetic camping birthday party/sleep-out for my son’s 5th birthday, Blog U will actually happen, and we’ll pop out for a beach vacay.

I want a nap.

The truth is, I can rage against these harried life circumstances all I want; they will still exist. I might have planned better while designing our schedule, but when isn’t hindsight 20/20?

Regardless, I don’t think this current period of life was never meant to be one of order.  Sure, I wish there was more Things That Made Sense, time for teeth-brushing and remembering-to-get-the-mail.  But the truth is, God has always designed me for a reason and a season.

And this season? I will be late. For everything. I will have wet hair. For everything. Mascara will be a solid bonus and fresh socks will rock enough extra credit points to lend me into a powerful woman. On the days in between? My head really itches from lack of showering and I am so proud when I remember to fill the wipes case

There is a time for the hospital duds. Yes, there is always a time

There is a time for the hospital duds.

I am tired, very tired, but the thing is–for now, this just is.  We all land on times like this in our lives, when the wave of the days doesn’t just carry us, it floods us.  Busy days wouldn’t be busy without the slower times to define them.

Sure, I hope that in a couple months, things will settle. In the meantime, check the hospital-gown cutie-pants, because they are The It Fashion right now, and, really, are kind of cute.

Of course I will always, always dream of more sleep and all the fun late-night People Style Watch readings a less harried life suggests.  But truth told? Right now, let’s slug out what’s on the plate.

Cool?

Sure. Yes.  Let’s roll.  Just don’t blame me if I enjoy the surplus sangria from book club without abandon along the way.

You’ve gotta keep these Busy Days real, after all…

May 262014
 

I vaguely remember something called a dressing room?  It was small and squarish with a privacy curtain and a bench so you could sit down.  Actually the more I think about it, it sounds like a pretty blissful place.  Perhaps I should just take my next vacation to Target and save on gassing up the minivan for the trek down to the beach…

In any case, shopping carts with toddlers don’t fit well into the teeny rooms, and whiny public temper tantrums don’t fit well into Mommy’s desire to avoid migraines, so jaunts to these little magical portals have been tabled for the time being.  When I need to stash up on my go-to crew neck tees and Denizen jeans, I just cozy up in front of my laptop, click in through ebates and have the friendly UPS man swing by yet again.

This arrangement has worked remarkably well.

Except for when I began my fashion renaissance.

In truth, this new passion has amounted to little more than diligently paging through my People Style Watch and buying some adorable glittery sandals.  When I tried to be edgy with some Urban Decay turquoise eyeliner, I scared myself when I looked in the mirror.

And while I can read up all I want, I’m not naturally a fashionista.  I would never instinctively know that pairing a flowy floral skirt with tough ankle booties would become my definition of Suburban Mom Boss, unless a magazine editor had suggested it.

So I’m not saying it’s time for this Mom of the Year to step full-force into a more vogue world.  But I have started to think that trading in my basic crew-necks for something slightly more trendy might not be terrible.  Note to self: this doesn’t mean just buying the ones with the pockets and feeling diversified.

The only problem?  When I don’t leave the house to shop for clothes, I never have that fun, sort-of giddy experience of seeing something adorable on the racks and trying it on just for the heck of it.  When the item was a total score and I loved it?  That was shopping at it’s best.

I miss this.  I miss trying on fun things and being surprised at how cool they looked.

Enter StitchFix. Rock my world.

Personalized style cards are included with every fix.

Personalized style cards are included with every Fix.

Basically, you sign up online, enter a ton of questions about your size, preferences, etc., and a personal stylist selects five items for you and ships them to your home.  You pick the frequency and the price range.  And you can keep all of the items, some of the items or ship them all back, no shipping charge.

I am so in love with this service, it’s ridiculous.  When my friend Christine of More than Mommies first clued me in, I was intrigued.  My excitement only built the more I learned about StitchFix.  In the days preceding my scheduled Fix, I was like a school girl prepping for the prom: nervous, hopeful and madly texting her friends.  What would be in my box?

Then the day arrived, it came, and I was WOWED.  I was so impressed by the obviously personalized choices my stylist, Kendra, had made, and the accompanying letter she wrote suggesting how they could best be worn.  Unlike me, she knows her fashion and knows what she is doing.

This canvas tote bag is so adorable, it breaks my heart a little.

This canvas tote bag is so adorable, it breaks my heart a little.

Would have given anything if these cuties could have fit

Would have given anything if these cuties could have fit!

This was SO ME--but, so much me, I already had a very similar top

This was SO ME–but, so much me, I already had a very similar top

CUTE wrap dress!

CUTE wrap dress!

The winner!  I would NEVER have picked this top out on my own, but love the way it fits--and have been wearing it non-stop!

The winner! I would NEVER have picked this top out on my own, but love the way it fits–and have been wearing it non-stop!

Not that you all need a close-up of my boobs, but check out this detailing...

Not that you all need a close-up of my boobs, but check out this embroidered detailing…

When you're done? Pop it in your mailbox and await next month's treasures!

When you’re done? Pop it in your mailbox and await next month’s treasures!

While the 25% discount for keeping all of the items is tempting, money is always tight around here.  Also, while I have hopes of losing more weight, the shorts simply didn’t fit.  So after trying everything on in the delightful privacy of my own home at my leisure, I decided to just keep one item and send back the rest.

And the thing is, you communicate with your stylist about all of the items she sent: what you liked, didn’t like, how the fit was, if you liked the price, etc., so StitchFix keeps getting better and better about sending you goods you will completely swoon over.  I’m tickled that I’ve already signed up for my second Fix and can’t wait for my next box!

I’m not getting paid at all to share StitchFix with you, but I do get a nifty referral credit for each person I send their way, so if you do check this service out, pretty please hop over and sign up through my link.  I appreciate it–and then you can pass the stylish love on and share your own link with your friends!

Do something fun for yourself and treat yourself to trying on some fun new finds.  Yes, you can grow your fashion know-how from the comfort of your own living room!

Okay, I’m off to rock out my new striped tank and feel summer-fresh.  Go show your wardrobe some sunshine and happy Memorial Day, friends!

May 152014
 

I’m excited to introduce a new friend to you today, readers. You may have noticed Fluent in Blonde bringing a dash of beauty to my sidebar recently. Ashton is the blogger behind the Blonde, and it’s been too fun getting to know her and her new blog.  The thing about Ashton is that she is as witty as she is gorgeous.

I’ll admit–I look at those long flowing golden locks and am slightly terrified that this gal is too-perfect to be real, but trust me, she’s as down to earth as they come.

She describes herself as “mom-blonde”.  Ashton explains, “That’s a tricky way of saying my post-baby personal hygiene is leaving something to be desired, and I can’t say I care. My husband is really great about complimenting me 5x a day when I wash my hair or shave my legs as positive reinforcement for my desirable behavior. His standards have really come down. I shouldn’t be entertained by that.”

Educated as an English teacher, Ashton now lives in Las Vegas, where she falls more and more in love with her seven months old little guy every day.  She does hair by day (and she’s obviously got mad skills–check out her styling!), and is now delving into the world of blogging.  She pursues all of this in the corners while she works hard at figuring out what the heck this momhood gig is all about.  Ashton notes that while everyone had loads of labor horror stories to share while she was pregnant, but “no one told me anything about the mommy part! I’m trying to figure out my new role while juggling work…and leaky boobs”.

Beautiful Mama, beautiful baby... Even the little guy is craving The Blonde!

Beautiful Mama, beautiful baby…
Even the little guy is craving The Blonde!

I love that Ashton is real and funny. But what really gets me is that she enjoys things like clothing, home decor, hair, make-up, jewelry…style.  In the past year or so, these things have become more important to me too.  Important in the way that when I pay attention to them I feel a little more human.  And  little less of like the Mom Who Has Completely Given Up (but will never surrender her yoga pants because they are too comfortable).

I think it’s fantastic that Ashton delights in beauty and pretty things, and includes this in her writing.  And that she does it all with the perfect touch of fun.  In her recent post about a trip to Home Goods, she kills me with,  “HomeGoods is a type of personal sanctuary that I hold in high regards, paralleled only by select Marshall’s.”  Select…love it!

She then wrote a whole post about what the heck moms are supposed to wear to the pool–because what the heck are moms supposed to wear to the pool with their kids??

And I think my favorite post (so far, because you know there is way more brilliance to come), “Death By Pink, and Other Bad Decisions“. You simply have to read the post to fully appreciate it. I don’t know what I love more–that she has pink hair, that she dyed her parents’ dog pink, or that she documented the entire process with pictures and witty commentary.

I cannot get over this post.  I don’t want to. Also, I now really, really want to meet and kick back with Ashton and hang with her and the pink dog in person over a few laughs.

The cool news is that she will be back next month to share a post of hers here and let you get to know her even better.  Stay tuned! But for now, readers, go love on Ashton, send the dog a sympathy card, and join me in welcoming this delightful new voice to the blogosphere!

********************************************************************************

Fluent in Blonde has claimed this month’s Mom of the Year Award, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share my genuine enchantment with Ashton with all of you.  Want to me help spread the word about you own fantastic blog?  Snatch up a spot now–using May’s BOGO promo, when you purchase a spot (any spot), you will be sent a code to get another month for free!  Get two months for yourself or share with a friend!

May 112014
 

There are very few things in this world that make me feel as boss as blogging.

It was never something that was planned.  It just happened.  But it quickly became a saving grace as my daughter grew from newborn to infant, as my mother died, and as my son found himself in a body cast.  And then it didn’t stop. I found a voice, I met some of the best friends of my life through the blogosphere, and I continue to daily challenge myself to new things–vlogging? Why not? Plan a blog conference? Sure. Put on a pair of printed leggings and snap a pic of myself for a sponsored post?  I may have to get back to you on that one…

Long and short–BLOGGING IS A BLESSING TO ME.

So when I saw that Cristi of Motherhood Unadorned had made t-shirts specifically for bloggers, I was elated as my fingers madly fumbled over the keyboard in a dash for my Paypal account.  When I understood that Cristi designed them herself and she was doing it as a fundraiser for suicide prevention, I was in awe of her.  She’s sharing her story below, and friends, settle in because it’s a neat one.

And then go buy one.  For yourself, if you’re a blogger, as your own Mother’s Day presentbecause let’s be honest, do the hubs and kids ever really get it right?  Or order one for a blogger you know.  Worried they already have one?  Don’t be.   As I told Cristi, I want it in every style and would proudly wear this shirt daily.

You see, I am a blogger.  This is me.  This is what I do. And this Mother’s Day, I’m taking a moment to just be proud of that.  Proud of myself.  I know my mom is smiling down on this one too.

After all blogger is a pretty darn boss thing for a mom to be.

Blogger Tee Pride @meredithspidel

******************************************************************

In Cristi’s words:

In 2010, I lost a dear lifelong friend to suicide. It really rocked my world, particularly because I have mental illness myself and had been suicidal in the past. I started blogging that year to sort of write out my feelings and grieve, but very quickly it took on a life of its own. At that time I also started raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Back then I admit, I really didn’t know much about the foundation. It was yet again a way for me to “do something” with my grief.

But since then I’ve learned so much more. I started volunteering and this year I joined the Board of Directors for our local chapter. I can say without a doubt the AFSP is doing great things for suicide prevention and support for those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

You can find out more here about what the AFSP does and why I’m raising funds for their national Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk. This amazing event is a 17-mile walk literally over night from dusk till dawn. I did it for the first time in 2013 in Washington DC and the event truly changed my life. When they announced that this year’s walk would be in my hometown of Seattle I was thrilled, but also nervous about raising the funds since I had just done it last year. So I got a little creative.

Yes, sometimes I just stare at the words in this graphic and feel validated.  TRUE STORY.

Yes, sometimes I just stare at the words in this graphic and feel validated. TRUE STORY.

I decided to reach out within my blogger community and sell shirts with original artwork by me about being a blogger. I call it the Butterfly Blogger t-shirt. If you look closely it says the word “Blogger” in the body and within the wings you’ll see words that represent the many “hats” we wear as bloggers and social media influencers. The art itself actually has nothing to do with suicide prevention, its just my way to raising funds for this important cause. Each year 38,000 people die by suicide and around a million make an attempt. Its the 10th leading cause of death in our country and that is unacceptable. If you and I can help bring suicide out of the darkness I truly believe we can stop suicide.

Please consider buying a t-shirt or tank top to support my suicide prevention fundraising. 40-50% of the sales are directly donated to the AFSP. If you can’t buy, please share this link. To me this is also about raising awareness. The more people know that its okay to talk about mental health and suicide, the more people will reach out for help. They’ll feel less alone. They’ll be less ashamed of their very real illness.

Cristi Comes is a mom, wife, mental health advocate and writer at Motherhood Unadorned. She’s also a member of the Board of Directors for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Washington State, and is on the editorial leadership team for Postpartum Progress. You can reach her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

****This post is not sponsored, I am just very proud of Cristi and her work with these tees! Though I may be actively trying to persuade her to send me the tank top version because that wasn’t an exaggeration, I really do want it in every style…****

May 092014
 

Friends, we all know I love my products.  I find something I love and I don’t shut up about it.  I annoy those around me endlessly babbling about the latest and greatest. It was almost embarrassing when I spent over half of the goodbye Bible Study raving about my new Huggies Clutch ‘n’ Clean.

Almost, but not quite.

Because I am so taken with this product.  In fact, I had already included them in a post about the new items I was crushing on.  Then I published the post and indignantly declared to my husband, “I can’t believe Huggies hasn’t asked me to write about this new wipes case.” He looked at me like I had three heads.

But then they did ask me to write about them! Wa-hoo! Celebrations of all sorts around here. My husband? Obviously embarrassed over his lack of recognition of my pull with the diapering industry…

If I have to pick, my favorite one. Hey, I'm a sucker for flowers.

If I have to pick, my favorite one. Hey, I’m a sucker for flowers.

Why do I love this new wipes case, “The Latest Must-Have for Parents On-the-Go” so much? Three reasons:

1. Those hard plastic refillable wipes cases of back-in-the-day? We emptied them in under two seconds in this family.  I needed something larger.

2. I had a gorgeous cloth wipes case that I still love and use. But it was cloth, so I still had to stick a case of plastic wipes inside it. I wanted something adorable that was more convenient.

3. I had resolved to carrying a disposable pack in my purse. But, it felt a)wasteful, b)covered with cute pictures of giraffes and c)very large at until we used the pack for a bit.

I am not opposed to giraffes. Or large packs of things.  But my children are (gasp!) nearing being fully potty-trained. We still need wipes aplenty for random messes and to survive meals.  I love that Huggies is giving me a means to meet this wipes need in a fashionable, user-friendly, and economical way.

My new Jenny Lynn Bag is adorable, but I need this wipes case that can actually fit in it!

My new Jenny Lynn Bag is adorable, and I need a wipes case that can fit in it!

I can stash up on the refill cases and then just add more to my pretty new Huggies Clutch ‘n’ Clean as needed.  If we have a huge day out planned, I can stuff it up, but if it’s just a regular errand run, I can fill up my case just enough to get us through our running while still fitting it smoothly within my bag.

So snatch one up for yourself.  They are available nationwide everywhere for $3.99–I got mine at our local grocery store.  You will love the new portable designs, the trendy designs, and the fun strap that makes it it versatile and accessible anywhere, from the diaper bag and the stroller to the car seat handle and more!

My only problem? I now want them in every single design.  Go check them out–promise you’ll love ‘em ;)

Can you sense the genuine giddiness over my my new Huggies Clutch n Clean?  I love them!

****This is a post sponsored by Huggies Clutch ‘n’ Clean* Wipes, but my love for them is 100% genuine.  Just ask any of my IRL friends I annoy on a daily basis.****

May 062014
 
Source Because that is the gift of a teacher--managing to look perky and cute while patiently handling "amazing" students.

Source
Because that is the gift of a teacher–managing to look perky and cute while patiently handling “amazing” students.

Let’s be honest–there’s not a whole lot going for you in 8th grade.  There’s the cute boy you’re crushing on, sure, but extensive orthodontia, zit-pocked faces and the very confusing matter of Your Period can often prevent you from making any real headway with the hottie in algebra.  It’s rough, and forget your parents, AKA Aliens from Another Planet. So if you have a teacher who gets you?  World of difference.

My world of difference was Mrs. McKinley.  I have no idea why she loved me, but she did.  For five years, because I was nerd enough to take Spanish electively for five years because I enjoyed it.  She was fun. She was real. She was kind and she loved on her students. She tirelessly taught us conjugative verbs and proper nouns with a smile and a dash of humor. I would have shot myself in her position.

I will never forget wading through Don Quixote in all it’s glory for the expanse of senior year. I wanted to hate on the parts that were too challenging, but you know what?  I loved it.  All of it.  And I would give a lot to go back to my 17 yr. old alert brain and read it in the original Spanish again.

I’ll never forget the CRAPPY day I was having one year, an exam day as luck would have it.  Sensing that I was out of sorts, Mrs. McKinley patiently told me to regroup, try again, and allowed me to stay after to finish up.

But it wasn’t just that she was a good teacher and was caring to us.  It was that she loved us.

It was that she stayed in touch long after graduation, loved on my 7 yr. younger sister the same way when she came through the Spanish-class ranks, still stays in touch with both of us today, and reads this blog.

Yeah, she’s an awesome woman.  When my sister and her friends would show up on her porch every year and shout , “Pobre Innocente!“, she was thrilled to embrace those kiddos.

I’m so thankful for Mrs. McKinley and all the love and support she has poured in my life. As I zero in on midlife, I realize I may never have thanked her properly and this is terrifyingly sad.

My own mother was a dedicated high school teacher for 40 yrs. and I know how hard she worked. The thought that teachers might not know how much we appreciate them and how much inspiration they poured in our lives breaks my heart.

If you have a teacher you love?  Go show them now!  Check out this video from Kronos, explaining why we need to #ThankATeacher, and then go enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom to score a $50 Amex gift card for yourself and a $100 Staples gift card for your favorite teacher.

Bottom line?  This is chance to love on some teachers who have really loved on us.  They work so hard; let’s appreciate them!

And personally–THANK YOU MRS. MCKINLEY!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*****This post is sponsored by Kronos Incorporated, but my love for teachers, especially Mrs. McKinley is 100% my own! *****

Apr 302014
 
My knowledge is extensive.  Also, I want this shirt.

My knowledge is extensive. Also, I want this shirt.

I’m all for technology; it’s super.

That’s a lie.  It’s a love/hate thing. Or maybe sometimes completely a hate thing. Or always a hate thing.

You see, I spent a morning last week trying to modify and personalize a Google+ status update.  The downside? I had to read 14 relevant articles and didn’t get the dishes washed until 3 hrs. later. The upside? I felt pretty boss for figuring something out on my own.  Yet I loathe doing dishes, so I suppose I can’t honestly lament this with integrity.

The next morning? Good news! Twitter‘s got a new face, and I think it’s classy and much more user-friendly. But the header stumped me.  I simply couldn’t figure out how to properly resize it for the new format.  I called my husband, and he patiently explained that he was Very Important at a Paid Job and couldn’t deal with it until he came home. I only partially pouted; tremendous progress since last week, but I think the end result is sharp, so the frustration may have just been worth it?

And it now only takes me 5 minutes to complete the process of unplugging and switching out my cell battery.  My phone crapped out before we’re due for new ones and the battery must now be externally charged. But this is cool because, hey, like I said, now it only takes me 5 minutes to set up the charge. And what mom doesn’t have an extra 5 in the morning?  It’s super.

Source Right. EXACTLY what I was thinking, laptop.

Source
Right. EXACTLY what I was thinking, laptop.

Have I mentioned how much I love my word game on my Kindle? I love my word game on my Kindle. As it turns out, the lifespan of me begging Dr. J to virtually stand on his head every five days and coax the beast into a magical connection of actually charging is limited.  When he broke out the soldering gun and started talking about having to order more parts on Amazon, I waved my white flag of surrender and called it a firm day with my precious word game. Sad, very sad. End of story.

And then my Fitbit. God love the Fitbit. It now requires an extraordinary amount of prayer and several of those cheap plastic clips you get with balloon bunches to force a connection so it will actually charge.

Apparently I have a significant charging difficulty with all my technological devices.  I also think this means I need to buy more balloon bunches because they make me happy.

I won’t lie. Snatching up my knitting and cozying up to Wheel of Fortune at the end of day sounds blissful.  Nothing needs charged, and the worst sticky wicket that comes up with a yarn is a nasty knot–which I can fix without an outlet. Holing up in such elderly-friendly anti-tech evenings?  Yes, please.

Somehow logging onto Facebook and sharing the intimate details of my life with a bunch of people I don’t really know after a long day seems less fantastic.  Not that I’m not dying to read about the latest cute craft you did with your kiddos.  Craaaap.  Now I sound like a grouchy beast.

I’m not. Really. Or I am.  I’m just definitely antisocial.  And I love technology.  Or I don’t.

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