Sep 152014
 

myCharge Giveaway

The kids are back to school, but Moms know that’s only the beginning! Now that the school year is in full swing, there’s no slowing down. In fact, things can start getting pretty hectic this time of year between your work and your kid’s homework, after-school clubs and sports, music lessons and carpools, birthday parties and play dates…the list goes on and on!

Even the most organized Mom will tell you things can change at the last minute, and Moms of all people can’t afford to run out of power…we mean for your phone or tablet, of course! myCharge knows how important it is for you to stay charged and connected all day – and all school year – long, so they’re giving the gift of portable power so you’re never left in the red!

To keep you charged and connected myCharge is giving 3 lucky winners each an iPad mini with a myCharge HUB 6000 portable charger! The amazingly compact Hub 6000 features built-in cables and connectors for smartphones, tablets, e-readers and more. Get up to 27 hours of additional talk time for your devices, as well as integrated, quick-charge wall prongs. The Hub series is commonly known as the “Swiss Army Knife of portable power devices.

myCharge HUB6000 @meredithspidel

 

Additionally, 40 winners will each receive an Energy Shot compact portable charger for their smartphones that delivers an additional boost when you need it most. They come in a variety of styles and can give you up to 10 hours of talk time! (Please note, smart phone not included in giveaway).

 

myCharge Energy Shot

So Moms, stay out of the red this school year! myCharge is here to keep you charged and connected! For more information on products visit the myCharge website or follow them on Facebook. You can find myCharge products available at retailers such as Target and Kohl’s.

Fill out the entry form below September 15, 2014 – October 15, 2014 for your chance to be one of 40 winners to receive an Energy Shot Charger (10 winners randomly selected each week) and one of 3 grand prize winners randomly selected on October 15, 2014 to receive one iPad Mini with a myCharge HUB 6000 portable charger. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age or older, must live in the United States and have a valid shipping address. See giveaway form for complete list of rules and details.

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This is a sponsored post from myCharge.

Sep 012014
 

My Dearest Summer,

I’ll be honest, love, I thought about not writing you.  You are busy saying goodbye to your fans, and who else really cares about how we spent our last three months, anyway?  But then I remembered that sometimes it really isn’t about anyone else.  It’s just about you and me, and we had a pretty magnificent affair this season.  I would be remiss not to send a thank you (my mother would have found it rude), and after all, what is any decent fling without a passionate love letter to record it for future memory?

To start, you were in your finest form, spookily on your game.  Very little brutal, slaying heat, and only a few adorable rain showers thrown in for variety.  In fact, I may have longed for a good raging hot day to irrationally blame some excess irritability on, but you gave me no room.  You were too busy filling our evenings with perfect lightening bug-catching temps and blowing gentle breezes across the moments we played in the sun.

...and this.  Minor obsession with fresh farmers market flowers here...

…and this. Minor obsession with fresh farmer’s market flowers here…

While winter selfishly incapacitates us and dominates our hours with obscenely long grocery store lines for bread and milk, you shine your sunny glow upon us and send us off to play.  Under your reign, while our skin chicly bronzed (albeit under safe UV-protection, of course), we hit amusements parks, frolicked endlessly in the pool, fell in love with Daniel Tiger, vacationed with family, and snuck in countless hours swinging on swings and sliding on sliding boards.  There were too-fun birthday parties, grilling galore, and visits with friends more precious than words can capture.

Truth told, we were all exhausted all the time.  But who doesn’t know that comfy pillows and crisp sheets are really made for summertime?  Sweet exhaustion is, after all, sweet, most especially when done with the windows open and the fresh night air filling the house.

There is some powering magic to your sunshine.  It allows Mommy to do things like tackle massive body challenges, host an author afternoon at the library, and be part of the most awe-inspiring blog conference ever.  There was also the less significant, but equally scary, day she decided to make homemade tomato sauce, but miraculously did not burn the house down. Victory!

...and this. I dont have words for this one.

…and this. I don’t have words for this one…

And then she got this blog thing trademarked and for a day, became her own hero.  Told you Summer, your power is magic.

In the months of your fabulousness, husbands psychotically foster bee-keeping hobbies, build gorgeous fountains, and make mad progress remodeling basements.  Children grow inches, teach themselves to use the potty, and get on the school bus for the first time. Yes, Mommy is still a bit sobby about that one.

You have packed our days and filled our hours.  Through you we have grown, flown, and delighted to our hearts content. So maybe part of those alleged bus-stop tears are due to the fact that you are leaving me.

I love you, anyway.

So stash this note in your memory box in the back of the closet.  Dig it out in the lonely cold months to come if you long for a sunny smile, but don’t mourn too long or hard for our lost days.  I have a feeling you and I run pretty deep–and we’ve got loads more of these hot hot weather flings in the years to come.  To the future, my love.

I’ll be hibernating and busy being a slug until we meet again. xo…

...and this.  I know.

…and this. I know.

Aug 152014
 

In most books, I find something that I like.  It might be the uniqueness of the plot, the strength of one of the characters, the time period in which the story is set…endless possibilities of cool attractions a book can hold.  At the beginning of this summer, though, it had been a while since I found a book I truly loved.

One that carried me away and swept me up in its world.

One that I couldn’t put down and didn’t want to put down.

One that made losing all that sleep in the wee hours totally worth it…

And then, somehow I met up with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and was a complete goner.  I couldn’t exactly put my finger on why I loved the book so much if I tried; I just delighted in being caught up in Cath’s world.  In the warmth and love of the college-age characters, in the tender sweetness of new love, and the slow unveiling of the realization that in staying true to ourselves, we are far stronger than we might imagine.

I was so taken with Fangirl, that I bought it.  I haven’t bought a book in years, but I desperately wanted to hold onto this one and read again–and make sure everyone near and dear to me read it too.  I then immediately put all three of Rowell’s other books on hold, counting down the days until her most recent, Landline, would be released on July 8.

 

In Eleanor and Park, I visited the world of fiery teen facing a horrible battle.  Attachments hit all the funny and poignant notes of relationships and employment in today’s twenty-something world.  And then Landline blew me away by revealing some of the most true truths of parenthood I will ever know.

On page 220-221 of Landline, Rowell reached out and grabbed my heart with the words,

“Georgie was pretty sure that having kids was the worst thing you could do to a marriage.  Sure you could survive it. You could survive a giant boulder falling on your head–that didn’t mean that it was good for you.  Kids took a fathomless amount of time and energy…And they took it first. They had first right of refusal on everything you had to offer.

Having kids sent a tornado through your marriage, then made you happy for the devastation.  Even if you could rebuild everything just the way it was before, you’d never want to.”

Wow. WOW.  The rawness, the realness, and the honesty of these lines are magnificent, especially to this mom, who spends about 99% of her day figuring she must be doing something wrong because it’s so darn hard.

Rowell’s writing is like a sweet, welcome gut punch of the vulnerability that is within us all as we travel through life’s stages, And I can’t get over how classily she takes readers on this journey without relying on unnecessary shock factors or salacious content.  She allows her fantastically-developed characters stand on their own, telling beautiful stories of self-discovery.

It’s been a good summer, a great summer, for many reasons, but in my book, it’s Rainbow Rowell for the win with her books.  What a perfect summer treasure.  Thanks, Rowell.

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

What have YOU read this summer?  I can’t get enough chatting about books, so let me know below!  And if you’re looking for some more recommendations, check out the titles my Facebook friends shared:

Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat –anything by Tana French and the Game of Thrones series (she has finally convinced me to dig into this epic series!)

Michelle of Frazzled ShellBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (I LOVED this book!)

Rebecca–the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich (or anything by her, really) and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Claire

BarbaraThe Enemy series by Charles Higson &  Ken Follett’s new Edge of Eternity in The Century Trilogy.

Jenn of Something Clever 2.0–Anything by Vonnegut, especially Breakfast of Champions, & anything by Christopher Moore (but she recommends starting with Lamb)

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

And I continue to regularly stalk books on Goodreads, so please join me there too.  Happy reading, friends!

 

 

Aug 112014
 

Running with Melissa Physical Therapist Goodbye Hugs @meredithspidel My son is brilliant.  I love the way his mind works, jumping from one cool discovery to another. I love his strength, the way he’s risen through adversity and allowed it to make him stronger.  From the first summer of his life when his colic was so severe I questioned whether either of us would make it through, to when he was body-casted at 28 months as a result of a severe femur break.

Though he still remembers almost every detail of his hip spica cast, it’s now a thing of the past.  While my little guy had to learn to walk all over again and worked hard for two and a half years to be able to run and keep up with the other kiddos his age, I’m now so proud to report that he has officially finished with physical therapy!

It’s been a long road, a bit of messy road, and there is no way we could have trod it without the encouraging, smart skill of his physical therapist, Melissa Geffers from Austill’s Rehabilitation Services.  You see, my son is a sweet, neat kid, but he is stubborn. No idea where he gets that from…If he gets a notion into his head that he doesn’t want to do something, forward progress can be tricky at best.  Nothing makes his resistance more apparent than situations that are fearful to him.

Learning to jump and ride a bike can be scary for any kid, much less one with his disposition and the resulting challenges of his break. He needs someone who can be endlessly patient, but who can be firm in pushing him on to new goals.  Someone who is wicked clever at tricking him into trying new tasks in the form of creative play and games.  Someone who makes him work, but makes the work fun.

Son playing hopscotch as part of physical therapy @meredithspidel

I feel so blessed that God brought Melissa into our lives two summers ago.  She was just the person we needed and He knew it.  Through her work and instruction I saw my son grow in ways I was never sure he would.  Melissa is also just a very, very neat person.  For two years, she has visited our house weekly and accepted us for all that we were. She put up with my fussy toddler daughter, my unwashed hair, the millions of teeny Legos all over our carpet, our psycho chocolate lab, and the fact that my preschool son sometimes was simply having a bad day, like preschoolers tend to do.

Physical therapist playing with kids @meredithspidelI was touched that Melissa always brought little gifts for not only my son on the holidays, but my daughter as well.  Both kids got to squee together over bubble and sticker time at the end of our sessions.  She got to know Isaac’s best friend and my Mother’s Helper. During her visits, Melissa updated me about all the exciting things in her life and patiently let me babble about the latest books I was reading.  She truly treated our whole family with her therapy, befriending us all, and teaching us new skills that we could do together to help Isaac.

That’s his name: Isaac.  It means laughter, and I will never forget Melissa’s part in helping my sweet, smily boy get one of the most precious parts of his childhood back–running around laughing.  Because he can run now, you know.

Son running and laughing--finally!  @meredithspidel

****Melissa, we love you and will always be so grateful for what you have done for our family.  So excited to see all of the wonderful ways you bless others with your talent and all of the beautiful things to come in your own life!*****

Aug 062014
 

Clothes Mentor West Chester @meredithspidelMy husband has adapted very well, with a general acceptance, to my endless string of crushes.  These crushes range in subject from Jesse Pinkman to new TV shows (Orange is the New Black, anyone??) to an incredibly pretty shade of Urban Decay lipstick.  Most recently, my fashion obsessions have been raging, finding exciting territory in StitchFix, maxi skirts and collectively, anything found in People Style Watch.

The only slightly sticky wicket of all my fascinations is that they cost money. Snap! It just feels like rocking out sweet styles should be a given freebie or something, right?

Mmhhh…sadly, looking gorgeous isn’t necessarily an easy no-cost-given on this earth.  Enter Clothes Mentor.  Self-advertised as “a huge walk-in closet for fashionable women”, I started swooning immediately upon learning of this local shop.  I have long been in love with consignment and re-sale.  The truth?  I like brand-names and adorable stuff, but our still-paying-endless-school-debt/WAHM salary doesn’t allow for a lot of first-pass Kate Spade and Micheal Kors.

I like Kate Spade and Michael Kors.

A lot.

So it was time for a Clothes Mentor-intervention.  Could my budget really meet my high-brow taste?

Shopping at Clothes Mentor @meredithspidelI grabbed my friend Sara for the Christmas in July sale and we were off to discover the depths of money-saving/brand-name snagging glory at the West Chester location of Clothes Mentor.

And…Holy Cow!

I was wowed by how huge the store was and how very-filled the racks were.  Throw in a brand-new Free People dress in my size? I was swooning. It wasn’t entirely pretty.  When the Ann Taylor new-with-tags dress entered the scene, the drooling got rather intense.

This store was HUGE and packed to the gills with sweet finds.  Moreover?  The staff was so very friendly and helpful.

In Main Line suburbia, there are a boatload of excellent consignment shop finds, but the pleasure of uncovering a store that not only has so many nifty items but also excels in customer service?  I’m a goner.

Check out this sweet staff...ready to help you! Carrie, Juli & Aly...at your service!

Check out this sweet staff…ready to help you! Carrie, Juli & Aly…at your service!

I have already scheduled my return to Clothes Mentor in my personal calendar and am counting down the days to my next visit.  I’m also sort-of crushing on an adorable brown leather clutch I saw in the shop, but don’t tell my husband this; cool?

Clothes Mentor @meredithspidel

As the Clothes Mentor website says, “Clothes Mentor is a resale store like you’ve never seen before.  At 70% off mall prices, we carry current women’s fashions in sizes 0-4x, plus athletic wear, petites and maternity–with thousands of better name-brand clothes under one roof. We also carry jewelry, handbags, shoes, wallets, belts and so much more! You’ll find a huge designer selection, from handbags to jewelry.”

Clothes Mentor is also a great place to sell any extra items you may have: “How do we build our fabulous inventory of like-new women’s fashions? By paying our customers CASH-on-the-spot all day, EVERY day for their items…We understand that life changes–so bring those fashions that no longer fit, whether they are the wrong size or just don’t fit your personality any more.”

The selection was endless...

The selection was endless…

Ready to try Clothes Mentor for yourself?  Locally, they have shops in both West Chester and Springfield, but check out their shops nationally.  And the owner of the local stores, Chris, is so very cool.  She is offering one of my readers a free retail therapy party.  What is a retail therapy party and why is it such a neat event?

Local shop owner Chris explains her philosophy, “Clothes Mentor is a store based on a community of women.  Women who support each other and who empower each other—no matter how big your budget or how important your job, everyone is on a level playing field in our store and our team makes you feel like royalty even if you are not.  Women do not spend enough time building each other up.  We need a place to celebrate and throw “attaboys” at each other—with a high-five and a butt bump or two!  Here is what the give-away of a retail therapy party for 6 or more includes:

  1.  Appetizers and beverages of choice
  2. Personal stylist assigned to the party to help with outfit/clothing selection and to help with party set up.  This stylist will support the entire party at the dressing rooms to make trying on clothes easier and will take photos to share with the hostess after the party.
  3. 20% discount for everyone who attends the party—but there is no requirement to shop or to buy, just come and have a fun evening out with girlfriends.
  4. If the party (at either the Springfield or West Chester store) is scheduled before September 1, the hostess also receives a $25 shopping credit to use during the party.”

I love the way this party is set-up as a way for women to celebrate each other and enjoy some fun with fashion!  Are you also swayed? Ready to check out Clothes Mentor for yourself?  Enter to win this retail therapy package!  Pop in the Rafflecopter below.*  

Another great reason to head to Clothes Mentor soon?  Chris is also offering all my readers a 20% discount through September 1 if you mention “The Mom of the Year” at checkout!

Friends, when isn’t it time to update your wardrobe?  Having some fun, new, affordable cool clothes and accessories is within reach.  Go find your inner-fashionista at Clothes Mentor.  Fall in love with a new item…or two or a bunch.  I’ll be here cheering on all of your adventurous money-saving shopping from the comfort of my jazzy new leopard-print pants!

Appalling, I know.  But I really like that consignment-pricing afforded me the chance to rock these pants that I would never have otherwise-looked at...

Love that consignment-pricing afforded me the chance to snag these pants that I otherwise wouldn’t have even tried on!

And make sure to follow Clothes Mentor on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay tuned on the latest store items and events!

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*E-mail addresses entered in Rafflecopter will be added to Clothes Mentor’s mailing list.

Our total haul? 7 (yes, SEVEN!) dresses (tags still on Ann Taylor and Free People), 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of earrings, and a pair of jeans and a pair of pants for $119!

Our total brand-name haul? 7 (yes, SEVEN!) dresses (tags still on Ann Taylor and Free People), 2 pair of shoes, 2 pair of earrings, a pair of jeans and a pair of pants for $119!

****Clothes Mentor has compensated me for reviewing their store, but my awe of their business remains 100% genuine!****

Aug 032014
 
We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit...

We may have gotten our spots mixed up a bit…

Dutch Wonderland‘s tagline of “A Kingdom for Kids” couldn’t be more perfectly fitting.  Upon walking through the castle gates, you enter a land of fairytales-come-true.  There are princesses and dragons (all friendly, of course), kiddie rides galore, a water park, and magic.

I still remember going here as a kid and being wowed.  (Most specifically, I remember my grandparents taking me, sailing down a sliding board into a puddle of mud and my grandma hauling me to a store across the street to get a new outfit because I was a hot mess, but this is another story…).

I remember the mezmerizing-to-kids Dutch Wonderland signature features: the giant pretzel, the milkable cow (not real), the mini church, the birthday cake you could walk through and the gingerbread house with the teeny bakers-at-work.

A few days ago, my family got to spend the day at Dutch Wonderland, and one of my favorite parts was watching my daughter as enraptured with those gingerbread bakers as I used to be:

Sweet captivation

Sweet captivation

We visited on a gorgeous day, and I think my son would have played in the water park area for forever if we had let him.  I love Dutch Wonderland‘s water area because it is truly little-kid friendly.  It is isn’t too huge, so it’s easy to keep track of your little ones.  There are three separate areas: one for little little kids, one for water gun-shooting and other water play, and another with three not-enormous slides that are very well-manned by life-guards.  All are closely lined by lounge chairs for parents who want to grab a seat, but still keep a close eye on their kids.  In short, it’s a paradise for both kids and adults.

He was in his bliss!

He was in his bliss!

After running around the water park all morning and breaking for lunch, it was then time to hit the rest of the park.  We were all excited to visit Exploration Island with its new-for-2104 dinosaur exhibit and take a spin on the remodeled Turnpike:

What I love most about the picture is that my daughter wasn't quite tall enough to make it in--out her hands are still peeking out.

My daughter wasn’t quite tall enough to make it in, but her little hands still make an appearance ;)

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Nothing like a late-afternoon drive.

Then we were off to (not-so-scary) roller coasters, the big flume ride, bumper cars, a family boat cruise and few old-fashioned kiddie rides for good measure.

Seeing her delighted over this ride was especially sweet–the exact same first one I rode as a kid and then operated as a teen!

Let’s be honest: a day at an amusement park with kids is never a relaxing event as a parent, but Dutch Wonderland makes a big day out pretty darn easy and fun.  It is truly a child-friendly park.  All of the rides are geared for little ones.  While my husband took our son on some of the “bigger” rides that my daughter was still too small for (The Kingdom Coaster and the bumper cars), there were loads of toddler-friendly rides (and gingerbread exhibits) within easy reach to keep us amused as we waited for the guys.

All of us had fun and were thoroughly delighted with our day in the Kingdom.  The only thing I’m left wishing for? That we get to back again very soon.

*****Thank you to Dutch Wonderland for hosting our family for the day!  Our delight in the park is 100% genuine, as is our desire to return ASAP!*****

Despite my best intentions to get a cute photo of my guys playing at the park in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits "the softest, most comfortable suit Ive ever worn", according to my husband), I had to settle for capture their summer cuteness at home!

Despite my intention to snag a cute photo of my guys playing at Dutch Wonderland in their new Tom and Teddy swimsuits (“the softest, most comfortable suit I’ve ever worn”, said my understated husband), I ended up capturing their summer fashionableness poolside.  They are loving these suits–and I’m loving them in them!

 

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 repetitive 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 had spent nine months fruitlessly trying to figure out how be on time and I had to officially 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) walks in the door late.

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…

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