Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Relax Momma, They Won't Go to College Like That

This post is sponsored by Acorn - an influence company. Thank you Acorn and Underjams for helping to take the embarrassment out of bedwetting!

Some phases are just frustrating.

Take the one we're currently in with Madison right now. I have no idea how or where she picked it up, but she's got the attitude, sass, backtalk, and expressions of a teenager these day and I am this close to busting out with "I am sick of your attitude, young lady!"

We're in the midst of it right now, and all those amazing strategies haven't started to work yet, and it's easy to think that my sweet, mature, charming little girl has turned into something much less sweet. That this is the rest of our life.

We're also trying to encourage Reagan off her nighttime pacifier addiction. She kicked her daytime habit, but she's clinging to that bedtime bink with incredible ferocity. I know there are some who would encourage us to just force her to go cold turkey, but since timing the "pacifier fairy" just right with Madison worked, and since waiting for Reagan to essentially potty train herself worked, I'm trusting my instincts that she won't go to college with it, and I don't have to go the tough love route. But I can't see the end from where we are and I feel like we'll just be in this stage forever.

I'm not alone in this. Because a few weeks ago, I read a thread on a message board about bedwetting that just made my heart hurt. For the mom and the kid, because this was a battle that just wasn't pleasant for either of them. This is a board for kids born the same month Madison was, so these kids are just shy of five. They aren't in kindergarten. They're still little kids.

Anyway, this particular mom was at the end of her rope when it came to overnight potty training. Her child had day trained quickly and easily, but wasn't even close to night trained. And this mom was done. She was asking for advice, saying that she'd already cut off all liquids three hours before bed, had the child use the potty twice during the bedtime routine and woke the still sleepy preschooler twice overnight to sit them on the potty. And still  - wet sheets in the morning. The mom was convinced that it was behavioral. She had her poor four year old helping to change the sheets every day to teach him about the consquences, but worse, in her own frustration and embarrassment, was starting to shame.

Only babies need nighttime pants. Big kids don't wet the bed.

My heart hurt so much for both of them. I get the frustration you get when you feel like every other child has moved out of a stage and you are still deeply in it. I get the I am not buying any more diapers! frustration. I get the annoyance of washing load after load of laundry.

But that kid is four. FOUR. A four year old being called a baby because he is still doing something, something that is out of his physical control, something that over 15% of kids are still doing consistently at five years old. This preschooler is getting his sleep interrupted nightly, and feeling like a failure every morning. The cover ups and lying are starting. Discouragement is setting in.

For many of my friends, their cue to start potty training was waking up dry. If that was the cue I'd waited for, Reagan would still be in diapers, and Madison wouldn't be long out of them. Madison wore "nighttime pants" until just after her fourth birthday, and Reagan is still wearing them. They are both potty trained, but nighttime is a different story. An overtired kid sleeps hard, bladders are still small, and sometimes that part of their body matures a little later.

The embarrassment of waking up wet, especially daily, can start to take a toll on a kid. Trust me moms and dads, no kid wets the bed on purpose. Until they’re ready, help them have skills to head off nighttime enuresis, and the supplies to stay dry - like Pampers UnderJams.  They're quiet and cloth like, with a low waist. No one needs to know what your kid has on under those jammies. Parents can learn even more about how to help kids at PampersUnderJams.com. That’s where you can watch videos and read articles with lots of great information from Moms who are leading pediatricians. They have experience helping their own children deal with bedwetting.

And that was my comment to this mom, this mom who was frustrated and embarrassed and wondering why her smart, awesome four year old couldn't cross this final hurdle in the potty training Olympics. It's normal. Give that kiddo sometime time. Avoid the daily sheet changes with Underjams for a while. They aren't diapers - they're pants for big kids who need some help overnight. And relax - you won't be packing them when it's time for college.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015


In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not a girl who likes rocking boats. Controversy doesn't fire me up. I always try to believe the best of intentions.

But yesterday I was hit over the head a few times by some assumptions about me, and I'm having a hard time keeping my fingers quiet.

Now let's be fair. These assumptions weren't really about me. I, Meredith, obviously was not at the forefront of either writer's mind as they wrote. What these pieces were was a blanket statement about a group that I fit pretty solidly into, and a very negative blanket statement at that. Both authors felt, very securely, that they had enough personal experience to make these assumptions - via reality television shows and/or "a Facebook friend of mine".

Yes, as sources go, those are definitely credible ones. But these also weren't written for CNN. Opinion pieces are, as a general rule, full of opinion. I get that. You are entitled to have one, and to write about it.

I don't want to get too deeply into either article or why I felt slapped when I read both (which, unfortunately, was back to back). I will say that one was on "girl moms" and specifically "dance moms", of which I am now immersed in, and the other was about homeschooling. Both maintained a mocking tone about families who had chosen those roads. One was full of suggestions that the parents that chose that road were not intelligent enough to see how wrong they were, and the other writer quoted directly from a recital handbook, thanking God she wasn't "cursed with a daughter". Suggesting that a homeschooling mom should make sure to teach her children to recite "do you want fries with that" (since that's all they'll amount to) or that anyone who would dare to put dance attire or makeup on their daughter is basically readying her for the pole crosses the line between "opinion" and cruelty.

I can tell you that I've found both the homeschooling community and the dance mom community to be among the most supportive groups I've found. I can tell you that, despite my initial skepticism about both of these paths, I have found these stereotypes and assumptions that I used to have way off. I've written before about how thrilled I am to have stepped out in faith and into these worlds where I wouldn't have initially been comfortable.

If I'd gone on assumption, I would have avoided a dance world that was "full of drama" and "age inappropriate attire and dance". Instead, my daughter has found role models that I'm proud for her to look up to. She's seen what hard work can accomplish and she has become motivated - with no assistance from me - to stretch and practice and watch and strive to become just like those big girls. The sweet ones who have incredible bonds with each other, their teachers, and the younger girls who look up to them so much. There's so much good that I would have missed if I'd only heard about the "horrors" of stage makeup, or the abusive relationships shown on reality TV and had let my assumptions drive my behavior.

I don't think either writer is a bad person. I think they've found a topic that people are willing to play into. It's fun to make fun of the closeted homeschoolers up in their turret, learning solely about creationism and bigotry. It's fun to mock the little girl (or more often, her mother), who in a close up picture, does look a little silly in her stage make up meant to make her face visible under bright lights at a distance. People will agree with you. People will share your work. And honestly, if you don't know anyone in those worlds, what's the harm? If your panties are going to get all twisted, then you need to get a sense of humor. Or thicker skin. Or you read it wrong. Or you're a troll. Or crazy.

So here's what I'm trying to teach my girls, who right now have no idea that people may someday be making these assumptions about them, based on their - and my - choices.

You will never talk someone into believing that their assumptions are wrong. Arguing on the internet...has anyone ever really had their opinion changed?

Lead by example. Be kind. Be simple. Be sophisticated. By all means, speak up for yourself, but breathe and count to five before you type or speak. Pause. Gather your thoughts. Reply calmly, kindly, and simply, and then show your truth. Be the example you want a little girl to see. Show them how hard you work. Show them that you can be a role model. Be smart. Choose happiness, and let your contentment shine. Kindness matters, and kindness speaks volumes.

I hope that's how I present myself. I show that the decisions I'm choosing are right for us, because we're happy. We're proud. And we're kind. And that's what you can do with you assumptions about me.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Creating a Broadway Kid

Yup, she's mine.

In case anyone was confused, Madison is definitely my kid. She may have started off looking like Adam, but now the most popular reaction to any picture shared on social media is how much she looks like me. She loves her bath and would stay there indefinitely. She loves to read and devours any book set in front of her. She will watch a show over and over again and enjoy it just as much as she did the first time.

Or maybe I have the personality of a toddler....let's not think about that too much.

And now she's started to become a little obsessed with musical theater.

When I was little, I picked up this bug early. I remember playing my parent's original Broadway recording records on my Fisher Price record player, and then putting on impromptu shows. I had all the songs memorized and started acting them out. The first show I remember seeing was a community theater production of the The Music Man and I was hooked. There were kids in that show! Acting and singing and dancing! I could dance! I could sing! I was a kid! I could totally do this! 

For the next twelve to fifteen years, I did as much performing as I could. My town had a summer drama program that I adored. I took dance classes. I took voice lessons. I was in every elementary school play they offered and angled for the lead (my crazy memorization focused mind gave me an edge). When I was old enough to realize it was out there, I started reading the audition listings in the Sunday newspaper and coercing my parents to drive me to auditions and, ultimately, rehearsals. I was in Annie more times that I can count. I spent one summer in two different productions of Bye Bye Birdie, playing the teenage lead in a "youth theater" that included young adults and the adult lead in a "children's theater" that topped out at 18. I listened almost exclusively to musical theater soundtracks. My best trips were the ones I took to see shows on Broadway. I loved it. I saw Les Mis several times. Phantom on the rainiest day. Rent. A Funny Thing Happened. Beauty and the Beast. Wicked. I loved them all. When I was eighteen I got my "dream role" as Maria in the Sound of Music - the perfect culmination to my "Broadway Babe" youth before heading off to college to pursue the more practical, yet still artsy, fulfilling career as a music teacher, which I did for ten years before my move to still practical, much less artsy, yet still fulfilling career as a stay at home mom and occasional writer.

Now, in the days of iPods, Madison hasn't seen my stash of musical soundtracks. We often save her educational DVDs for the car, occasionally playing some Kidz Bop. She knows every song to all the Disney cartoon musicals and can sing every word, but she hasn't attended her first community theater production or seen "real people" singing and dancing on stage.

Until recently.

There's a long story leading up to this, but basically, I was inspired to look up a performance on YouTube. I'd read a description of this particular musical number, and I vaguely remembered seeing it performed, and I wanted to refresh my memory. And in the days of YouTube, that's pretty easy to do.

So I was sitting on my couch, watching it on my phone, smiling at the memory and realized that Madison was watching over my shoulder, mouth agape, eyes locked on the little screen.

She was hooked.

We quickly started watching all sorts of clips, following YouTube's suggestions, occasionally my own brainstorms. We stumbled into some clips of Matilda, and Madison was even more hooked. She knows the story (we read the book a few months ago) and she was fascinated by those four Matildas, singing and dancing with attitude. She wanted to watch them all the time.

We checked the soundtrack (along with a few others I thought she'd like) out of the library, and added those into our car rotation. Before long, they were added to her iTunes playlist, and became a regular part of her dance performances.

Yes, she choreographs dances to the music on her iTunes list and performs dances regularly. She improvises and adjusts until she's happy, occasionally changing things up if she's seen the older girls at her studio doing a new move, and then performs them several times a day with consistent choreography. How I didn't see that "dance performer" would easily leap to "musical theater performer" is beyond me.

And in the days of tablets and WiFi and browser suggestions, she found out about performances much more quickly than I did. It wasn't long before she was running up to me with the Matilda page open on her iPad, saying "Mom! It says tickets available!"

That's great, honey! Good reading and good searching. Did you happen to read the part about how much a Broadway ticket costs?

Clearly, the interest was there. We went to see a middle school production of Seussical as a "test run", and she loved it.

So maybe we will be walking the New York streets soon, Playbills in hand, ready to experience one of my favorite performance mediums. And I'll experience that first love through her eyes, and see if the bug bites her too.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Are YOUR Feet Ready for Summer?

Ahhh...hear that? It's the sound of spring fever.

What's the best sign that sunnier, warmer, happier days are here?

It's not the spring peepers. It's not the chirping birds. It's not even the happy squeals of the kids as they finally get to play outside without snow gear.

It's the chatter at the nail salon, with every pedicure chair occupied as ladies prepare to break out the open toed shoes, sandals, and flip flops. 

It's always momentous when I decide it's time for the first "summer" pedicure. I may go once over the winter, but the thought of either having to wait for ages to have dry enough toes to stuff back in my boots, or having to endure freezing temps with my toes exposed doesn't appeal to me. So by going back to my "open toe ready" routine, what I'm really saying is that I think the warm weather is here to stay. And if the buzz in my regular nail place is a sign, other ladies are thinking it too.

Here's the thing though - as my toes get prettier to show off in my flip flops, my heels...not so much. Cushy LL Bean slippers keep them smooth during the year, but as I start wearing my summer shoes, they get rougher and rougher. By the time the pool is open, my heels are looking worn. And I just can't make myself pay the premium for the heel treatment at my pedicures.

I want both! Exposed toes and happy heels.

Anyway, now that spring has (finally!) sprung, and I’m teaming up with The Invention Brothers to give you a chance to win a fabulous new beauty exfoliator called The Skoother® Skin Smoother, as well as an iPad Mini! 

If you suffer from dry, cracked heels, the 'Get Ready for Summer Giveaway' is for you! Enter today for your chance to win an iPad Mini, a Skoother Skin Smoother to help cure your cracked heels, or a Margarator giant party blender. With 25 prizes to be won, you don't want to miss out! 
Have you heard of the Skoother? It’s the most effective way to quickly and easily smooth rough skin and calluses on your feet, heels, elbows and hands, and it’s unique design makes it much more effective than pumice stones, emery pads, metal graters (ouch!), motorized sanders, and other skin-smoothing gimmicks. If you suffer from dry, cracked heels, the 'Get Ready for Summer Giveaway' is for you! Enter today for your chance to win an iPad Mini, a Skoother Skin Smoother to help cure your cracked heels, or a Margarator giant party blender. With 25 prizes to be won, you don't want to miss out! 
It’s easy to hold. It conforms to your body, making it quick and easy to use. It doesn’t require batteries. The Micro-Abrasive Screen is rough enough to remove stubborn calluses on your heels, but gentle enough also lightly smooth the skin on more delicate areas like your hands and knees. It has been medically-tested by a team of doctors at the University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor. It’s easy to clean. And by entering the Rafflecopter form below, you will have a chance to win one (1) of 20 Skoothers to get your skin ready for summer. But wait - it gets better! We're also giving away 4 Margarators® (1 Gallon Party Blender) and one (1) grand prize of an iPad Mini! What a great way to kick off the warm weather! All you have to do is complete the form below to enter between April 20, 2015 at 12:00 am EST and April 30, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway 

And if you don't win but would still like to be one of the first to experience the Skoother, simply sign up using THIS FORM between May 1, 2015 and June 14, 2015. The Launch Day Special for a Skoother is only $12 + free shipping. We will contact you through your email sign-up to give you more details! 

Good luck! 

For complete contest rules and regulations, CLICK HERE.  

From Meredith to Mommy received no compensation for sponsoring this event, and is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. Prize delivery is the sole responsibility of The Invention Brothers / Comstock Studios Inc. Twenty-five (25) winners will be drawn randomly and notified by email. The winners will have 48 hours to respond in order to claim their prize. If they do not respond within the 48 hours, they will forfeit the prize and an alternate winner will be chosen. This post may contain affiliate links.   photo mediumsignature_zpsbff01a79.png

Monday, April 6, 2015

Moms Have Influence and a BIG giveaway!

It was just under three years ago that I started this blog. Why did I start? Because I was a newly minted stay at home mom with two girls under two and a husband who worked from home. I was happy with my new life, but I wasn't getting that regular adult conversation anymore. I didn't have as many people to talk to and tell my stories.

I'll tell you, very truthfully, that I did not start this blog with the intention of becoming a brand ambassador, of writing articles for other sites, of being featured in anthologies, of making any money at all. I started this blog just to have a place to "talk" when I had stories I needed to get out. If you ask most "mommy bloggers", I suspect that's not uncommon.

But I wrote and I connected and I found a community. And somehow, more people than just my immediate family and my best friends were reading my posts. And not only reading, but really listening to what I was saying. They were interested and they trusted my opinion. And, bizarrely, I actually did find I had some influence. When I found things I liked, I really enjoyed connecting my readers to them. In lots of ways, it really was like being back in the teacher's room, just sharing my opinions with people who were listening. When you have a cool new lunchbag, you share where you got it. If you find a company that not a lot of people know about, you share it.

Moms have influence. And blogging moms have an audience to share it with.

Social media personalities and bloggers have become a few of the most influential people. Both men and women are finding and sharing their voices with others all around the world. Like so many, they have a desire to be heard and create change. The MPM blogging network has been interacting with these influencers for six years. During that time, we have discovered that creating presence is more than just who you know, it is what you know.


With that in mind, Mom Powered Media, LLC proudly presents:

MPM 2015 is a conference environment designed to bring brands together with online influencers including bloggers and social media personalities. Our primary goal with this conference is to focus on education and national brand awareness. Proudly bringing together: 500 Infuencers in a two day event 2 Day Event covering 13 market areas.

Now for the giveaway! One lucky grand prize winner will receive $2,500! 13 additional weekly winners will receive select prizes from MPM 2015 sponsors. Open to the US residents Only, ages 18+. Only one entrant per household, per address. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. Giveaway ends July 3rd, 11:59pm Central Enter using the giveaway form below.

Good luck!

 MPM 2015 Sweepstakes    

Disclaimer: The participating bloggers have not been compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. Mom Powered Media is responsible for the shipment of the prize of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media outlet. Contact teri@mompoweredmedia.com if you have any additional questions or comments.  photo mediumsignature_zpsbff01a79.png

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Was I Doing Here Again?

You know when you're pulled in many different directions? And you have lists upon lists of things to do and to pack and to remember? And you have emails and texts dinging away on your phone? And various piles of paperwork that needs dealing with?

And you're answering and you're doing it and you're keeping up and sure, yes, thanks, you are busy, but no thanks, I've got it, and you are keeping your head above that water and getting it done?

And then...you're caught up.

And you sit down to get back to your regular life.

And you have no idea what you were doing?

That's me right now. I had Madison's dance competition to prepare for and preschools to call for Reagan and doctor's appointments to schedule and thank you notes to get ordered and sent and bills to pay and emails to respond to and a pile to deal with and another pile to deal with and a car that needed cleaning and a house that needed cleaning and a fridge that needed cleaning and a pile of stuff from Reagan's room redecoration that needed dealing with.

Now all that stuff is done, and I'm sitting at Starbucks, time to write upon me, time to breathe beckoning...

And my mind has just been wiped clean.

I'm glancing through drafts, and none seem to be speaking to me. I'm looking through my scribbled notes, and they don't seem to make sense.

I went to several stores on my way here, with definite reasons for driving my car to and parking at said stores, and ended up wandering aimlessly around, with no idea of what I was looking for or why I entered the store in the first place.

I hurry the girls down for rest time, ready to tackle my chores, only to drift aimlessly around my to-do list, never getting anything done.

But when I'm actually under the gun, this doesn't happen. 

It's like if I'm not stressed and under a deadline, I'm just sort of ... drifting.

What is this? When it's actually something important, I can knuckle down and get it done. I was prepared for that dance competition. My kid's dance bag was stocked and organized and every single eye shadow brush had her name labeled. But my dining room table...not so much. If I have a deadline, I can manage to write about anything, from Depends to Monster Trucks. When I don't, I look at drafts with random sentences and think what? When we need to get out of the house on time, we do. I have never once been late to dance or the doctor or any of the events we go to. But when I try to get us out of the house to the gym or the library, it's a nightmare of rushing and brushing and shoes and coats and wait, I forgot to eat my breakfast!

I seriously don't get it. And don't try to give me the "you just have to make deadlines for yourself" nonsense. My brain doesn't do that. Trust me. I've tried. I write my gym time in my planner, to make it seem more official, but my brain scoffs at that. I make very specific to do lists. Nope. I assign myself deadlines. Nope. My brain realizes that these are imposters, things where the world will keep spinning if I miss them, and therefore, not worthy of high functioning neurons, no matter how many times I try to trick it.

I'm really hoping that this is the last bit of winter slush being cleared from my mind. Spring is coming - it is - and my brain will come out of hibernation and wake up refreshed and ready to work on regular days, not just when something is hovering over me with lightning bolts.

And if it doesn't, would someone be willing to hang around me with lightning bolts? Because I really need to get this laundry done.


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