Dec 192014

Bread! We all love it--finding a recipe that is healthy and delicious can be tricky. I am crushing on this new  product! Check it out and enjoy!****This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sara Lee® to help promote their new 45 Calories and Delightful bread.****

I’ve told this story in bits and pieces before, but it’s an important one, so bear with me. About two and a half years ago, my mother died. My dear grandma had just passed, I had a 7 mo. old and a 2.5 yr. old who couldn’t walk because he’d hung out in months in a body cast and had to relearn this basic skill from scratch. It was not a happy time.

Somehow my over-exhausted mind decided this would be an excellent point to stop the anti-depressant I’d been taking for postpartum depression. You can already guess the wild downward spiral I followed in the coming months. Weight gain, severe anxiety, horrendous sleep, low energy…yuck.

Then after about a year of this mess, something finally clicked and it was time to get my life together. I began a journey I’m still on, but with a combination of regular exercise, healthy diet, sorted medications, and a few other positive choices, I’m on a far, far better road. Praise God.

I still struggle–a lot.

And I’m always so proud of each healthy step I take because of that struggle. Even small things like drinking enough water, logging my step goal, or finding a new product that helps me keep my calorie count in check are all triumphs.

I’m guessing more than a few of you have had your own struggles. While the satisfaction that comes from victoring over these difficulties is more than sufficient, take a minute to score some extra spoils and celebrate your own strength. Head over and join up with Sara Lee®’s 45 Delightful People program. There are a bunch of prizes up for grabs ($4500 to workout gear to iPod shuffle to a year of bread!), plus each participant gets a free tee-shirt just for signing up. Sweet!

When you are done entering, go snatch up some of this healthy bread for yourself and dig into the goodness. I can’t tell you how much it has helped me pursue my own health and weight loss goals:

  • Sara Lee® Delightful Breads are delicious with only 45 calories per full-size slice. I’m looking forward to trying the new Oatmeal flavor, which joins the current line of 100% Whole Wheat (made with real honey), Healthy Multi-Grain and Wheat.
  • The Delightful breads are all heart-healthy and provide an excellent source of fiber in each serving (2 slices), with no artificial colors or flavors, and no high fructose corn syrup.
  • Enjoy Sara Lee® Delightful breads with your choice of spread (jam, peanut butter, and butter are yummy compliments!) or with your favorite lunch meats for the perfect sandwich.  They also work well in your favorite recipes for French toast, bread pudding, strata, panini and more.
  • The Delightful line is available in supermarkets nationwide and has an average price of $3.29 per 20 oz. package.

Added to this brand information is a personal recommendation. I was chatting with a friend, and it turns out she is a huge fan of this bread. As she says, “I like that it has relatively few ingredients compared to other breads – especially reduced calorie ones. Also it’s sweetened with stevia not chemical sweeteners. It’s super soft and stays that way!” My friend is one of the most uber-smart people I know, so in short: check out this bread!

Given my fits over regularity, these are currently my two favorite products (though I am excited to case out the new Oatmeal variety):


The thing of it is, this life is so short. We will all make a mess of it sometimes, but anything that can help us feel delightful and healthy along the way is so worth it.  Sara Lee® 45 Calories & Delightful is a product that can help you embrace more of these sweet moments and take charge of your own well-being. For this reason, I’m a huge fan–and I’m stocking up.

Holiday temptations, bring it on, you’ve met your match ;)

****This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Sara Lee®****

First image credit: image ID:22086991, copyright:yelenayemchuk

Dec 172014

If I can do this Christmas craft with my kids, ANYONE me. I and my non-crafty self are sharing all the secrets with you...happy Christmas crafting!

This is one of my favorite Christmas stories of all time, first published here two years ago.  We’re now all a bit older, but I continue to have active fantasies of the shirts I noted at the end of the post. Godspeed with the Christmas crafts, my friends…


Gosh, yes…I actually tried to craft with my kids.  I am so annoyingly stupid…

Once upon a time in the not-so far off land of Suburbia, there was a Mommy who was a very good at caring for her home and her family, except for the fact that she sucked at cleaning and cooking, wasn’t awesome with young kids, and was generally terrified of crafting.  This Mommy was married to a very good man; we’ll call him Daddy.  Daddy was reading a book to their little boy and chanced upon cute idea for a fun project to do with kids.  Daddy mentioned this to Mommy, and apparently Mommy had skimped on her daily sanity meds, because she thought this craft would be fun to try with the kids.  She planned to give it a whirl one morning the next week.

In general, anytime Mommy decides to “give something a whirl”, it’s best for all nearby parties to run quickly into a cave and hide.  And so this is the point where our tale takes a very nasty turn south…

Preparations for the crafting event were going relatively well until Mommy realized she needed supplies to create the popsicle stick Christmas tree craft.  Dastardly truth of crafting: supplies are necessary.  Queue to Mommy diving headfirst into several scary large Rubbermaid totes in the basement where the glitter was conveniently stored.  Listen carefully now for the sounds of angry grunts, muffled explicatives and panicked screams for baby daughter to NOT start crawling up the un-baby-gated cement steps.

After some further desperate searching and a minor hiccup when Mommy’s sweet angelic son locked her in the basement as she was juggling the glitter, the baby, a psychotic dog and a laundry basket under arm (there is always, always a laundry basket involved, right?), the necessary materials were finally secured upstairs.  Mommy then felt insanely wise for setting daughter up in her chair with some Color Wonder markers so the rest of this fun event could ensue.  The scene was mostly set with only the paper plates still needed.

For the record, paper plates are definitively integral to all craft projects.  All of them.  If you are looking to go into crafting, start buying paper plates in bulk, and stash them in every nook and cranny throughout your house.  You will always need them and you will never have them when you need them.  There can never be enough paper plates.

While Mommy went in search of the necessary paper plates, her daughter took the opportunity to eat the tip off of a marker.  After a certain amount of hysteria and speculation that Color Wonder ingestion would lead to brain damage of some sort, it was determined that everyone would survive, and the festivities could joyfully continue.

As goldfish crackers flew at Mommy’s head (an alternative activity was needed for daughter after the unfortunate incident in which she ate the provided markers), she learned that hot glue gun glue is indeed rather hot when squirted all over her hand.  As Mommy screamed through the pain, her son fled the room in terror.  But with a little convincing, he soon returned to participate in this delightful experience.

Bring our engaging tale to a close, you can tell from the pictures below, the end result was stunning.  Clearly entirely worth all the effort and served to completely re-educate Mommy, who will now be running gleefully headfirst into the next crafting opportunity after having such a blessedly positive experience.  Bring on the crafts.

Christmas tree craft

Just thought you would appreciate
that I’m still using paper plates from
my daughter’s birthday in July

Mommy is now making “I Heart Crafting” t-shirts which will be available for sale in the very near future.  Stay tuned for this one.  She’s entirely sold out for crafting and wants the world to know.


Also, pop on over to Hollow Tree Ventures and check out As (Never) Seen on Pinterest for further evidence of how crafty and artsy I am and snag some top-notch creative ideas from some of my favorite bloggers.  As a teaser, my fantastic design inspiration for your child’s train table is pictured below:

Child's Train Table Design @mererdithspidel @RobynHTV

Yes, yes we are awesome parents…


Dec 152014

Surviving all the stress and craziness of the holidays is no joke. Downed Christmas trees and all, I think I'm onto a valuable trick to help see us through. Tune in here--and grab a glass of eggnog to help us toast our survival!My daughter had a banner week last week.

Upon smelling the rank fishy odor at the grocery store and pondering the stinky source, she pointed at a innocent nearby middle-age woman and loudly concluded “EW! IT’S HER BUTT”. Super.

A kind friend gifted her an Elsa doll for Christmas. She opened it and squeed, “Yay! Now I can be like all the other kids!”. Score one for my continued claim on the Mom of the Year title.

The dog was in the middle of vomiting and my daughter decided he “needed more love” so grabbed him to give a tight stomach squeeze as he was mid-puke. She really is such a sweet child.

She then knocked over the Christmas tree.

Let me restate for effect: SHE KNOCKED OVER THE CHRISTMAS TREE. Like, the broken ornaments, shattered glass, her father was at work, “Go to your room NOW before I completely lose my crap on you!” kind of knocking over the tree.

I really liked my tree. Like, really liked it.

I inherited my delight in Christmas trees: my BFF and I used to joke growing up about my mother’s passion for our family tree. In the event of a home invasion of some sort, we imagined her crying, “Take my children, but save the Christmas tree!”

While I’m not sure I’m this far gone, I definitely have a thing for my tree.

In fact, I had planned to write a post today about how much I love and cherish all the ornaments on my tree. All of them carefully selected or made with love, most of them from my mother. As many of these meaningful ornaments now sit in a need-massive-amounts-of-super-glue pile, obviously, my post plans have changed.

And that’s probably for the best.

Christmas feeling a bit like it's crashing down all around you? It may be. And that's okay. Here's why having the best-laid holiday plans go awry isn't a total loss--I promise.

I’ve found that the older I get and the more my natural inner-planner psychosis takes root, I really need to get over myself. I can lay plans and map out my days, especially the holi-days, with an astounding fervor, but then two funny little things happened that make actually sticking to these plans a bit tricky:

Kids and life.

You see, no matter how much I plot and plan I can’t control either. While I can hope and pray my daughter plays nicely without wreaking destruction (and now is explicitly forbidden from being in the vicinity of the tree ever again), she is most wholly human–and a child. And as much I’d prefer not to spend my afternoon sucking up tree water with the shop vac, I wouldn’t have her any other way.

While my mother was supposed to be here to delight in the ornaments with me and memories from her were not supposed to be lying in shattered shards while I acutely miss her this season, I’m going to choose to trust that God knows what He’s doing. I know I sure don’t.

So what can I do when plans so utterly fail? One thing. Only, ever one thing: GIVE UP.

Completely. Totally. Give up. Things will probably work out. Or they will totally fall apart. Either way, I’m going to do my best to enjoy the parts I can and realize I have little to no control over any of it.

And I’m going to sit here and nosh on the yummy chocolate chips my sweet, sweet friend dropped off when she came over to help me heft the tree back to an upright-ish position.

I’m staring at the tree that looks like a small child on a rampage attacked it–because one did.

It’s a mess. That’s okay. There will probably be other years and other trees. And I’m guessing there were actually very few perfectly decorating Christmas trees present at the birth of Jesus. Yet somehow the angels found a reason to celebrate the holiday anyway.

Dec 012014

Taking quality family pictures can be a challenge!  Here are a few simple tips to improve your photos from a professional photographer--who REALLY knows how to work with kids!I remember the good old days.  The days when I used to hold up a camera, ask my son to look at the camera, and he would SMILE. Then somewhere about age 3, his face froze in a cheesy “CHEESE” said between gritted teeth while he focuses intently on a magical fairy dancing off to the side. For clarification, I have never actually seen said dancing fairy, I’m just assuming her presence based off of the fact that I have been unable to get my son to look at a camera for over two years and it must be something very magical to so wholely maintain his attention.

My daughter decided to follow suit in eschewing picture-taking, and their combined general unwillingness to participate coupled with my complete lack of photography skills has left us wanting in the picture department.

Which is a darn shame because I love pictures. Love them in the way one does when they have multiple frames covering all surfaces and exposed wall areas of her home. But I was failing; I simply could not get the pictures of my kids that I wanted. I just couldn’t eke out their sweet smiles whenever I had a camera in hand.

So I decided it was time to call in a professional.

I have long admired the work of Briana Latta Photography. I’ve been checking out her pictures online with a reverence of “Dang! This girl has got skills!” It’s not just that the photos she taken are beautiful, it’s that she has a unique gift of capturing her subjects as their real selves. Briana makes the love and laughter she snaps include YOU as you look at the photograph.

I was thrilled when she agreed to take our family pictures. I was wowed when she humored all my ridiculous questions about outfit choices and requests predict whether the leaves would still be on the trees on our scheduled session date without rolling her eyes. I know–she is a saint.

I was also really dreading the fight of trying to get my children to look at the camera and make “normal faces”.

I need not have worried. When Briana arrived, she took charge immediately and put my children at ease. As she laughed and joked with them, she took time to put me at ease too. Reassuring me that my kids aren’t the only ones in the world that have trouble shining genuine smiles on cue, I relaxed.

Never anything but love and laughter around here...right ? ;) Capturing Daddy and our son in this gorgeous photo was such a gift!

What followed was a fun hour of family time. We hung out in our yard. We played. And Briana snapped it all up, showing off her specialty working with kids. From her website, it’s apparent that she has a lot of experience with maternity pictures, newborn photos, and family shoots, but it wasn’t until she was here taking our pics that I got it.

Briana really, really knows what she is doing. Not only is she not put-off by energetic kiddos, she genuinely enjoys them and knows how to get the best out of them. By the end of the session, they were laughing and giggling at Miss Briana and her camera, making me believe my family CAN get pictures taken!

The natural way my kids are captured laughing and playing in these photos is fantastic! What a great family photo session--go book yours today!

It was such a blessing to work with Briana’s talent!  Make tracks over to her site and book a session ASAP for your own family. Trust me, your frames will thank you for the gorgeous updates ;) And I don’t think there is any better gift for loved ones than pictures. Grandparents swoon to get sweet photos! Or  know a pregnant mom? Treat her to a maternity or newborn session–such an incredibly thoughtful gesture!

And as a special gift for my readers, Briana is giving away one free mini-session below! Go enter and capture your family in some gorgeous photos–and have a fun time hanging out with Briana while they being are taken!*

For those of you not local to Briana, you can still enjoy her talent. As she snapped our session, I was so impressed with her skills, that I asked her to put together a few basic tips to share with all of you.  These are things that I never do, but are simple steps you can take to make a big improvement in your own pictures:

1. Consider lighting.

Overcast days are perfect days to take pictures outdoors. If it’s a very sunny day, know that the sun is particularly bright and harsh on facial skin tones from 11 am to 1 pm. Early morning and later afternoon/early evening are better times to take pictures outdoors.

2. Don’t keep the flash on automatically.

A flash sends a strong burst of light directly in front of the camera. In many situations, using flash can wash out the subjects in a picture. Try turning the flash off, and see what the pictures are like without flash in certain settings. You may be surprised how much nicer the picture looks. Of course, if you’re in a dimly lit environment, flash is probably your best bet.

3. Think about perspective. It’s very common to pick up a camera and snap a shot of your kids playing. But, consider bending down and getting eye level with them. Or, move over them and stand directly above them and get a picture of their face looking up at you.

You can make a picture so much more interesting by simply changing the angle it’s taken from. One of my favorite practices is to watch my kids playing, pick a fun vantage point, and call their names to get them to suddenly look at me as I take a picture. Then I get a quick, genuine expression of them having fun that doesn’t look posed.

I always feel weird about head shots, but I love how the photographer helped me relax so she could capture this smile! Book your own session today--you will LOVE your pictures!

Isn’t Briana so smart and savvy?? Go snap up those sweet photos, friends, and happy picture-taking!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Please note photographer does not travel more than 1/2 hour to meet for session and all details and scheduling of mini-session must be coordinated directly with photographer and are subject to her availability and determination of all terms.

All family photos featured are the work of Briana Latta Photography.

****While Briana allowed me to experience and review her work in exchange for this post, my family’s delight with our pictures is 100% genuine!****

****Thank you to Aria’s Bowtique for providing my daughter’s sweet hair bows for the photo session!****

First image credit:, image ID:26391017, copyright:michaeljung

Nov 242014

Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on.Sometimes it feels like you are just going to snap. Keeping calm is not an easy thing, and motherhood can be so demanding. But if you allow the breaking to be cathartic, you may just be able to clean up the glass and move on. It might even feel pretty amazing when you get all the tears out...I love my kids. I love the way my son works passionately to understand EVERYTHING and how he insists on praying for China at dinner because he is fascinated that it is already breakfast time there.

I love that the knees on all my daughter’s pants are stained and worn because she throws herself into playtime with vigor and how she gives me sweet little back pats when I hug her because it’s a Mommy-thing to do.

I love their laughs, their smiles and even their messy backpacks strewn all over the kitchen. It’s evidence that they are growing, learning, and thriving, right?

I think of making cut-out sugar Christmas cookies with them and the flour getting stuck into the wooden floor cracks for weeks, and I still love them. Right after I bang my head against the wall for a few minutes.

Despite all this loving, they wipe me.

Some days I don’t know what is up or what is down or which way to even start looking if I did have time between apple juice refills to figure it out.

This life is not an easy thing; it’s not supposed to be.

That’s okay.

But some days when the demands are raging, and the middle-of-the-night cries were plentiful, breathing in and out becomes a bit tricky. It’s a feeling of being swallowed into a complete loss of sanity, strength and self.

One day recently, my daughter was having A Day. You parents know what I mean. It can be tempting to check a child’s behavior as faulty discipline or poor boundaries, but after hanging out in motherhood for a few years now, I have learned that there are the children who break into an emphatic hour-long rolling tantrums because the color of the plastic Goldfish bowl they were handed is not pink and there are children who just eat the Goldfish.  There are children who can remain in a generally seated position throughout church and those who spontaneously turn into a wild climbing monkey as soon as the pastor begins speaking. I know, because I both types of children.

My daughter is more of the tantrum-ing monkey variety.

I do not want to point the finger at her exclusively. On this particular day, I was especially over-tired, my son was struggling with homework, and dinner was burning. In fact, I had already called my husband in tears twice that day, threatening to quit. Quit what, I’m not sure, as Motherhood allows no take-backs and my only boss is myself; I can’t imagine how pissed she would be if I handed in my resignation.

In any case, I sent the children out to play and decided to take one small productive step for my day; I would put away the dishes. I opened the cupboard and a glass flew out at me. It shattered all over the open dishwasher, counter, sink and floor.

It shattered all over my last tether to stability and I fell to the floor, sobbing. I crouched there, among the broken glass and just let the wails rack me, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t do this any more….Ican’tdothisanymoreIcan’tdothisanytmore…” Over and over and over again.

If anyone had been watching, it would have seemed a dramatic movie scene. The sheer, unprovoked action of the glass throwing itself out of the cupboard at me seemed horrifically cruel. It felt as the weight of a thousand impossibilities was exploded at me and were escaping through my my cries.

It felt cathartic.

It felt real.

And as some innate part of me found its way through my hysteria to carefully clean up all the glass shards before they met tiny little toes, I knew this one truth: I was right; I couldn’t do it any more.

For that day, it was too much. I had been stretched and pushed too much, and I broke. But in the breaking, the well of of all I was holding in found a way out. And that part? Felt wonderful.

I will always love and care for my children. Even when I think I can’t find a way to tidy up glass shards, I somehow will.

I will also break sometimes, and that will be okay. And on those days sobbing it out will feel pretty darn good.

And on those days I will quit. After I clean up the broken glass, of course.


Image credit:, image ID:2534803, copyright:sirylok

Nov 222014

Managing multigenerational needs can be stressful. Here are tips and advice for doing it with ease and grace. The sandwich generation has a tough calling--but it can be done!I am 35. What does this mean in this today’s world? I have young kids who run me ragged with Daniel Tiger parties while I have parents who are entering their more aged years. Or I would have “parents”, except my mother left us a couple years ago, and my very boss father is now running solo.

I’m the sandwich generation, and I’m not complaining. I think it’s a wonderful gift to have kids who know their grandparents, I like having people of different stages who need me on this earth. I like to be needed; it helps keep me away from compulsive cross-wording in boredom.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t share how tricky it can be.  I will never forget the poignant sticky-wicket of being 7 mo. pregnant with a 2 yr. old at home and visiting my father in the hospital for a health situation while caring for my dying mother. That was not “supposed” to be. But it was.

The reality is that aging parents is part of our reality in this era of quality long-living and thriving. What a blessing! But for all the times it gets tricky (managing health needs, insurance coverage, etc.), it’s great to know there is a supportive resource in

What is

It is a site that provides valuable information to consumers about the health needs and interests of our parents and grandparents. Aetna recently teamed up with to evaluate what issues are most weighing on this population and what we can do to help them address their needs.

In attending a briefing regarding the findings of this study with Dr. Randall Krakauer, M.D., Vice President and national medical director for Medicare Strategy and Innovation at Aetna and a recognized leader in geriatric care and board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology, it was reported that grandparents often regret not making wiser choices in caring for their health from a younger age.  While they often have computer and online access, navigating through healthcare responsibilities and Medicare Open Enrollment can still be a daunting task.

As the General Open Enrollment period runs from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015 and Open Enrollment for Medicare beneficiaries runs from October 15, 2014 to December 7, 2014, the holidays are a great time to discuss benefits and health goals with our parents and grandparents. Resources such as or can be very helpful in working with your family members to make informed decisions regarding their coverage.

In addition to teaming up to navigate through insurance needs, we can also help our loved ones care for themselves by encouraging healthy living habits. How can we do this?  As Dr. Krakauer says, “Don’t neglect your own health! Pay attention to your own exercise and diet and set a good example by learning about and practicing healthy habits yourself. As far as working with parents or grandparents, it is going to be very helpful to remind them that that it’s never too late to get healthier! Even if you have had high blood pressure, you can still prevent future damage by getting your blood pressure under control.”

By caring for ourselves and paying attention to our own health needs now, we can not only help our parents and grandparents, but establish healthy standards in our homes for our children as well.  It’s truly a win-win-win situation.

And while technology is newer to the older generation, as noted above, most parents and grandparents do have access. Use the internet to access great up-to-date information, and if you live further away from family, it can be a great way to communicate and check in on maintaining healthy goals. I know my dad, sister, brother-in-law and I have a lot of fun becoming Fitbit friends and keeping up with our daily progress. Sadly for us younger folks, my dad always schools us with a higher step count! Grrr.

I’m very fortunate in that my dad is incredibly savvy navigating his own way through all the Medicare choices and decision-making and does a fantastic job staying active and healthy, but I know this isn’t always the case.  The older years can be a tricky ones to find your way through, so don’t be afraid to seek help. And online resources like or are perfect places to start.

Go navigate through these years the smart way, friends!


****I participated in this program on behalf of Aetna and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.****

First image credit:, image ID:10848277, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Nov 202014

Anxious to get your kids away from the videos games and doing something active or creative with their minds? This new version of Tic Tac Toe is so much fun for the whole family! Family game night is ON!I won’t lie. Sometimes when we’re on our 1600th round of Candyland for the afternoon, I am saying silent passionate prayers for the UPS man to ring the door bell…or for the washing machine to start shooting bubbles at the ceiling…or any kind of anything that could be an excuse to toss down my plastic gingerbread dude and walk away from the game.

Playing games with my kids can be very cool, but every once in a while, shaking it up is a good idea, especially as we break into these long stretch of indoor months.

When my family received a Tic Stac Toe game to check out, I was pretty excited. Tic Tac Toe is a classic!

Except this isn’t Tic Tac Toe. It’s Tic STAC Toe, and this is not the old game.

No, Tic Stac Toe is an incredibly creative spin on the classic concept. Winner of the 2014 Creative Child Award, the Tillywig Best Family Fun Award and the Parents Choice Recommended Game Award, this is an exciting new 3D strategy game. It’s the kind of game that the whole family enjoys and engages in (nothing against Candyland, of course…)

But this isn’t why I love it.

While it’s fantastic to have something that pleases everyone for Family Game Night, what’s really cool about this game is the way that it encourages my children to build and play. Creator Robert Appelblatt and Tim Crean talk about how it “helps kids with spacial thinking”. For my son who loves to construct, piece things together and look for patterns, it is a perfect fit!

Tic Tac Toe has been rebooted in this cool new board game. Endless ways for kids of all ages to learn and grow with this as an educational tool and perfect fun for family game night!

When I’m busy juggling something online with trying to get dinner together and cranking out a few zillion other things, my son is happily set up at the table with his new toy. He will group the X’s and O’s, add them up, build towers, and then proudly ask me to check out his work before he dismantles it all and starts all over again. The pieces easily snap together and come apart–no sweat for younger child. Like I said, perfect toy.

So go get it! Tic Stac Toe is a fun, original game that will be a hit for all ages on your shopping list. Not just for the game itself, but for all the other learning and play it offers. Snatch up a bunch now and go be the cool holiday gift-giver that impresses everyone by having such a creative gift idea.

It’s truly Tic Stac Toe for the win!

Playing board games with our kids is so valuable for so many reasons! Take the time for a family game night tonight!

****Compensation for this post was provided by Tic Stac Toe, but my family’s enjoyment of this game is 100% genuine!****


First image credit:, image ID:25835207,copyright:alistairjcotton

 Third image credit:, image ID:10503233,copyright:photography33

Nov 172014

With cold and flu season upon us, knowing how to safely give your kids medication is so very important. Follow these tips and tricks to keep your family healthy--plus a bonus idea that is so smart I'll never go without it!I’d guess since my son was born five years ago, the dosing recommendations for children’s OTC medicines have changed at least 116 times. This may be an exaggeration. But it does seem like every time we go to the pediatrician, I get sent home with a new proper dosage instruction sheet. Generally,  I panic so hard over not losing the paper and putting in a safe place that I end up stashing it somewhere so secure it can never again be found. This leads a lot of frustrated crying to my husband in the midst of managing middle-of-the-night fevers, “I thought YOU knew what the right amount was.”

He does not. Neither do I. Ever.

One easy way around this would be for us to simply read the label. The logic of parents in the wee hours of the morning cannot be denied.

The thing is, we’re not alone in battling making a mistake when giving medicines to our kids.  In October,  Pediatrics revealed the results of a study indicating that every eight minutes, a child under the age of 6 experiences a medication error  outside of the doctor’s office or hospital. Most of the errors come from giving kids liquid medicine, giving them the wrong dosage amount or giving them medicines twice.

So what can we parents do to keep our kids safe? Educate.

Parents are responsible for their kids' health. Educate yourself and make sure you know how to properly dose and administer medications to those sick kids!

Knowing that cold/cough and flu season is upon us, is sharing some other tips and information that will help you make sure you are medicating your children the right way:

  • Always read and follow the label.
  • Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device. Never use longer than the label instructs or at higher doses, unless your doctor specifically tells you to do so.
  • Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
  • Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
  • Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
  • Never give aspirin-containing products to children and adolescents for cold or flu symptoms unless told to do so by a doctor.
  • Do not use oral cough and cold medicines in children under four or give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.
  • Stop use and contact your doctor immediately if your child develops any side effects or reactions that concern you.
  • Keep all medicines — and vitamins, too — up and away and out of your child’s reach and sight.
  • Teach your child about using medicines safely. Tell your children what medicine is and why you must be the one to give it to them. Never tell children medicine is candy to get them to take it, even if your child does not like to take his or her medicine.

Dose medication for your kids safely and keep everyone healthy this season!

This might seem like a lot of information, but read it over a few times, share with any adults who care for your children, print and post it inside your medicine cabinet if it helps–you need to be comfortable with safely medicating your child!

As for those blurry middle of the night efforts to squelch fevers or other nasty symptoms? My husband and I will always be a bit of fumbling mess, I’m sure, but when I was reading Meredith’s of From Meredith to Mommy essay in Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness, something she said struck me as brilliant. She mentioned pre-dosing her kids’ meds at night before she goes to bed if they are sick. Wow! Why had I never thought of that? What an easy, doable trick!  Make the measurement before you are fumbling around in the middle of the night trying to soothe a fussy child.  So simple, yet something we are definitely going to start doing in this house.  Thanks, Meredith!

Do you have a great trick that helps in your home? Please share any ideas you have to avoid medication errors with kids with us below–we can all educate and help each other. And a huge thanks to OTCsafety for providing so many great tips to help us care for our children!

****I am compensated as an OTCsafety blogging ambassador for this post, but my opinion are my own.****

Image credit:, ID:4648483, copyright: matka_Wariatka

Nov 122014

Having kids makes it a bit tricky to get an evening out. Here's how my family figured out a way to have a fun night with friends while staying in--and keeping the kidsMy husband and I have never been very big on leaving the house. At first, it was money, or lack thereof. And then it was kids piled on top of money. Let’s be honest; even if we could manage to find a sitter, she probably doesn’t want to get paid in leftover Goldfish crackers?

So we’ve gotten good, very good, at the at-home date. Stash the kiddos in bed, crack open a bottle and cue up the latest episode of Parenthood. Or, if it’s a really adventurous night, it might just be worth a swing by that nifty Redbox. We cozy in and love it up. It works.

Most of the time.

But see, once in a while…I want a teensy bit more of a soiree. Rarely, as people generally scare me.

So when one of my very best friends mentioned she had to burn an hour every week during her daughter’s lesson across the street from our house, my wheels got to turning.

What if…? No, that would be insane.  But we could…

And as soon as the thought formulated, I knew it was meant to be. With a swift call to my friend and a bottle of wine snagged, it was official. Thursday night Happy Hour in our house was ON.

How does it work? My friend brings her kids. If it’s nice, they run wild on the yard while we chill on the deck. Now that it’s bit chillier, who really cares about a tidy house? I can put all the legos away tomorrow…or never. The point is that the kids are playing together and having a blast.

The adults, my husband, friend and I cozy up to the table, pour a glass and munch away on whatever culinary fail I’ve dreamed up for the week. I am not a chef.

(But truth told, it is kind of fun to put together some yummy bites I’d never normally serve. This week I’m doing homemade soft pretzels with cheese fondue. I know, my waistline is drooling with you. But what better excuse to make something so comfort food-worthy?)

After a few weeks of our weekly dates, I got smart and started beefing up the spread a bit so it could count as dinner and I didn’t have to cook again. Score!

While the food is yummy-ish and the company superb (my friend is amazingly cool and easy to hang with), the real win of the night is that we RELAX.

Come again?

I know, I said relax. Because we do. Yes, with the kids present. After our very first Thursday Happy Hour, my entire family was in bed and snoozling by 8:30pm. It was a miracle. Talking to my husband about it the next day he said, “But we actually stopped. Hanging out like that let us all relax.”


Kids tying you to the house? Have fun anyway! Invite friends (and their whole families!) over to hang out! No stress, easy family time for everyone.

Come Thursday night, I feel beaten up by the week. Something that can help my family chill and smile? A Godsend. We pour ourselves into our hours, our days, and forget to take minutes to come up for air. Thursday nights are a sweet reminder to lift our heads up and breathe deeply.

I love them. We all do. We all look forward to our weekly Happy Hour and all the sweet breathing room that it offers.

My excuses of no money or no childcare? Shove them under the kitchen table. Uber-cheap wine and allowance for kids’ temper tantrums between sips works perfectly well when the friends are real–and the value of time together supersedes all else.

Cheers, friends–however you find your Happy Hour or make it happen!


First image credit:, ID:3756992, copyright:Valdemar

Second image credit:, ID:10836012,copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Nov 052014

I am always, always scared of taking big leaps, but I've learned this is the smartest thing we can do in this world. Be open to new things and go for it!It was typical Tuesday night. I was desperately trying to crank out some overdue blog work while hollering at my husband to just give up on the chicken nuggets and “get the kids in the bath already!”. Then my phone rang, and it was Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, “Hey, do you want to go down to Texas and be on Glenn Beck with me?”

For those of you who don’t know Stephanie, here’s the short story: SHE IS ROCKING THE WORLD. Her recent post about the astounding inappropriateness of girls’ clothing on the mass market went beyond viral. While she’s busy managing the response to this, she’s also running full speed ahead with the Blog U 2015 conference (the second annual installment of the insanely successful conference she founded last summer), and oh, raising three young children.

So basically, when the scary-fantastic Stephanie asks, you say yes.

Glenn Beck wanted us to come on his show and discuss appropriate Halloween costumes from a mom’s POV. I could do this??

Forget the chicken nuggets; I called out to my husband, “Hey babe, how do you feel about me popping down to Texas?”

We live in Pennsylvania.

Fast forward three weeks and a lot of finagling, and I found myself on a plane. And then in a green room. Like, a legit green room–you’ll excuse me while I pee myself a bit here.

And while I was hanging out in the very green room, forcing myself not to on-air nervous puke, post-show pal-ing it up with Glenn Beck and his very sweet daughter (who thanked me for doing the show because it “meant a lot to her dad”) and then madly snatching souvenirs for my kiddos in the airport while we dashed to our plane, I had some important realizations.

I have people. Not as in a “my people will call your people” situation, but as in, I’m not alone in this world. When Steph first asked, I thought, “yeah, right–I could never actually pull this off”. And then my husband offered to take a day off work, my mother-in-law drove out to help with the kids for a night, and my friend jumped at my plea to pick my kids up from school. When I asked my dad for airport transport, he simply told me give him the times–of course he would do it. Another friend was willing to cover a few-hour gap in childcare if need be and yet another friend quickly started helping me research Glenn Beck and reviewing talking points.  Hundreds of people on Facebook took the time to weigh in and help me sort out attire dilemnas–the most import element of the entire trip, obviously. The support and encouragement of others as I prepped for and then went on this wild-to-me adventure blew me away. And that people actually took the time to tune into the show and then encourage me afterwards? My eyes welled with tears as I checked my phone that night.

I know this life can all too often feel lonely, but sometimes it’s when you most need people that you realize you aren’t alone. Through this trip, I felt caught. I felt blessed. I felt grateful.

This life can be so mundane...fantasizing about how the other half lives can be so fun...really fun! Hop over for a minute with me!

Jumping is ALWAYS boss. I was the kid in college who had to take Ativan before any presentation so I didn’t faint away in panic of public speaking. Needless to say, this appearance on Glenn Beck was NOT “right up my alley”. It was very far removed from my alley, several lanes over, in fact. That and despite the nerves that left me literally shaking a few days prior and post-show, I will never, ever regret that I did it. Truth told? The green room, private hotel room and car service were pretty sweet perks that just make me feel boss. I’m okay with that.

I know how hard it is to manage this life. But listen, carving out a few minutes for friendship is one thing you will never, ever regret.  Do it now! Trust me ;)Real friendships are good. Steph and I have done a lot of huge life experiences together–cranked out a blog conference, thrown book signings, hosted a ladies’ night out, family-timed it up on the Fourth of July, and endlessly supported each other online. She wows me, of which I’ve made no secret.

The thing that you may not know is that she’s terrified of flying.  And I’m not uber-touchy-feely. I love greeting with hugs and kisses, but beyond this, not so much…Steph and I held hands on every take-off (and with lay-overs, there were several). As soon as the cameras cut on the show, she walked across the stage and I squeezed her hand for dear life. I needed support–emotionally and so I didn’t fall over in my heels. We prayed together before we went on set, and I endlessly told her how proud I was of her for accomplishing all that she has. We shared a messy steak sub in the airport and ignored the crumbs on each other’s faces. When I froze on camera, I will never, ever forget her mouthing “Isaac’s costume” from across the set to cue my talking points and help encourage me.

And none of it felt weird.  At 35, I’m not sure I was supposed to meet a genuine real-for-life friend that I can totally be myself around. But I did. And I don’t have the words to express the realness of this blessing.

I am also realizing the value of full-on supporting someone else in this world. I am so proud of what Steph is doing, and the opportunity to be there for her and help her promote her message? A gift in its truest form.

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen going forth with this whole blogging business, I will forever be grateful for the time I hung out in the green room with Steph–and for all the too-important lessons I learned while we were there.

To Texas, Glenn Beck, and crazy life experiences you were never supposed to have.

You can catch a longer clip of the 10/28/14 show and read about it here, but please pay the $1 and subscribe to 30 days of The Blaze TV so you can watch the whole show–I say way more semi-intelligent things in the second half so I don’t look quite as vapid. xo ;)

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