Should Facebook Have a Bully Button?


Can you recall a time when you were bullied as a kid? I can. I clearly remember what it is like to be teased, shunned and physically overwhelmed by someone bigger and stronger than myself. It felt awful. Even now, 24 years later, I can still remember the shame, pain and embarrassment of it all. I cannot imagine growing up in today’s world with technology and social media around every corner. “Cyber bullying” is not just a buzz word rampant in today’s social stratosphere, it is a living nightmare for so many vulnerable kids day after day. The internet empowers bullies to speak more cruelly, threaten more harshly and gain more momentum than ever before because their actions have little to no repercussions. As a parent, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless in regards to cyber bullying.

This week I had the absolute honor to interview Emily-Anne Rigal, whom Lady Gaga calls a young woman with, “strong convictions and a beautiful soul.” At only eighteen-years-old, this college freshman has already founded and is running a grass roots movement called, WeStopHate. The mission of the organization is to raise “self-esteem in teens through various social media platforms that engage teens to help each other gain confidence.” They also stress that “WeStopHate is more than just an anti-bullying program, it’s a call-to-action to stop hate: stop hating on yourself, stop hating on others, stop letting others hate on you.” It is a program started by teens and run by teens.

Emily-Anne was bullied so much as a young girl, because of her weight, she was forced to switch schools to escape her tormentors. Deciding she could transform her pain into something beautiful to help others, she started www.WeStopHate.org. Her movement has gained national attention from the media and celebrities alike. What is most meaningful to Emily-Anne? The stories she hears from her fellow peers who have joined this movement. When teens go on her site and connect with other teens who are being bullied or feeling ostracized, they don’t feel as alone anymore. They feel connected and empowered. Emily-Anne has even gotten letters from participants that have stated her website saved their lives. Emily-Anne admits how overwhelming that thought is to her. Those letters keep her motivated while working late into the night, as she juggles her full-time work for WeStopHate with being a college freshman at the prestigious Columbia University.

I asked Emily-Anne, as a parent, what could I do to help my child who is being bullied? Emily-Anne gave me some great tips:

1. Know that if your child mentions that he is being bullied in any way, you can assume the situation is much worse than then he lets on, so take it seriously. There is so much shame and embarrassment tied to being bullied. Often a child will feel that is it is a major failure or wrong-doing on his own part. Often, he will downplay the bullying and try to minimize it.

2. The best time to get information about what is actually happening to your child is in a one-on-one setting. Bringing up the situation during a family dinner or in a group setting is not the ideal way to approach your child. Try to find a quiet moment with just the two of you in order to gently investigate the situation.

3. When you do find out the details of the bullying, go directly to your child’s school administration and fight as hard as you can for your child, even if it is cyber bullying. The administration may not want to get involved, but it is important to take the issue as far as you can. Often parents feel that a solution to cyber bullying is simply taking away the child’s computer or phone. The problem at hand is much more pervasive and cannot be remedied that easily.

According to www.dosomething.org, over 58% of kids report that someone has said something hurtful or mean to them online. Many teen suicides have been linked to cyber bullying. It is reported that bullying victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to consider committing suicide. These statistics were far too much for Emily-Anne to accept. She decided to campaign for Facebook to add a “Bully” button to its site. This button would allow others to report the actions of cyber bullies, in order to subject them to an investigation, which could lead to their Facebook account being temporarily suspended. If you think Facebook should have a Bully Button to protect your kids against bullies, check out this link to join your voice with Emily-Anne’s and be heard: http://bullybutton.org/?utm_expid=69135234-2 .

I asked Emily-Anne if any of the kids who bullied her reached out to her after she started her organization. Thoughtfully, Emily-Anne told me they hadn’t, but that she feels her “painful memories serve a purpose” and that “she doesn’t resent them because the past is the past.” Emily-Anne received a TeenNick HALO Award in 2011. I am contemplating framing Emily-Anne’s acceptance speech and hanging it in my daughter’s room. Here is what she said to the audience of teens cheering her that night:
“Speak your truth, even when your voice shakes. Always be who you are. Spend time with the people who make you happy and not the people you have to impress. And please know that making a difference means doing what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

Can we say future Nobel Peace Prize Winner? I think so!

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How Six has Blossomed: My Interview With Jenna Von Oy

Jenna Von Oy doesn’t talk fast anymore, as her character “Six” from the hit 1990s television show “Blossom” was famous for. There is nothing fast paced about her life in Nashville these days. How can you move fast when you have a little baby attached to your hip 24 hours a day? The fact of the matter is, Jenna doesn’t want to move fast. She is relishing her time as a stay-at-home mom and enjoying her new career as an author. Jenna writes a weekly blog, www.CradleChronicles.com, which is a heart-felt, honest and hilarious reflection on motherhood, and she is working on two book projects.

After graciously agreeing to be interviewed via Skype, Jenna appears on my computer screen with the same beauty and endearing charm that we all loved her for in 1993. No, she is not wearing a quirky hat! She immediately asks me to pardon her sweatpants, her messy house and her snoozing pug “Boo” lying behind her. If her house was messy, I didn’t notice. But she and I are essentially wearing the same outfit, “nice” black sweats, a comfortable black top and a gray sweater. Jenna is so relatable that I begin the interview feeling like we are old friends and we spend the next two hours talking about motherhood-everything from breastfeeding, to growing pains, to faith, to the gift of being able to connect with other mothers, including her former co-star Mayim Bialik.

Surprisingly, the first question of the interview is not asked by me. As soon as we sign on to Skype, Jenna explains that she had nursed her 9-month-old daughter Gray to sleep, only to find out she had awakened five minutes later.

JENNA: I know that she has to learn to take naps on her own, but she’s not having this. This is not in her repertoire at the moment. It has been very dramatic and traumatic, probably more for me than for her. I’m beside myself about it. Maybe you can give me some sort of pep talk or advice? I know that I have to give her a little room to grow without me being right there. Loving my daughter means giving her boundaries. Loving her also means not making her feel like I’ve abandoned her. So which one means loving her more? I don’t see a compromise for that. Naptime is not for parental sissies.

I can offer no advice on sleeping. My own daughter was frequently awake 18 hours a day when she was a baby. To my delight, beautiful Gray appears on screen (carried in by her dad).

CASEY: So Gray, how was your day?

JENNA: Good, we crawled a lot. We knocked a lot of things over; pulled DVDs off the shelves. It was a good day.

Honestly, Gray is adorable and smiley as she attempts to communicate with me in baby coos. Her dad comes back in to take her downstairs so Jenna and I can chat. We both pour glasses of Syrah, Jenna’s pick, and toast to our respective computer screens. I marvel at what a happy soul Gray is. Jenna emphatically agrees.

JENNA: Even as an infant the only time she would ever cry would be when her tummy hurt. She had some really bad tummy troubles. I went dairy-free for four months to see if it would help her.

CASEY: I saw that in your blog. Did giving up dairy help her?

JENNA: It was a miracle for her. I wasn’t entirely certain that I believed in the dairy-free thing. I knew it was going to be tough, and it was. It’s hard to get into it initially, and finding substitutes is difficult for some things. I am a foodie so for most things there are no substitutes. I was the last person that I thought would be able to do that from a will power stand point, but obviously it was so worth the result. I just wanted her to feel better. It’s such a small price to pay. I am not an expert on it. All I can say is, when I started going dairy-free, 8-10 days later, perhaps it was coincidence, I saw a huge difference. She had been projectile-vomiting like The Exorcist prior to that.

After explaining that any strange noises I may hear are from her other pug snoring at the foot of the computer, (which she tells me is propped up on her daughter’s high chair), we start talking about Jenna’s exquisite writing and the courageous way in which she shares her life experiences as a mom.

CASEY: I am really touched by your writing and how real it is. I particularly loved your story about going to Target and getting your first post-pregnancy bathing suit because your pre-baby bathing suits did not fit. We all go through all of these things. In a world where you hear women on television have a baby and then strut down the Victoria Secret Runway weeks later— which is great if you can do it…

JENNA: Not everyone can do that in this life. Not everyone is going to be a supermodel, and whip back into shape. When you see people in the press that lost their post-pregnancy weight that quickly, assuming they did it in a healthy way, it’s because that’s their body type. I’m five feet tall, so that is not my body type and I am okay with that. If I’m going to have a voice as a mom and as an actress, and if I’m going to use my blogs as a platform to stand up and voice my opinions, I really feel it’s imperative that I make sure there’s honesty and vulnerability in my words. I appreciate the celebrity bloggers who are telling the truth, who are willing to stand up and say, “okay, I am totally imperfect; I am very flawed.” I have insecurities about being a mom. For example, when I started breastfeeding my child, I worried if I was giving her enough food, or if I was over feeding her. I have all the same worries that every mom out there has, and if I don’t share that, if I am not honest about it, what’s the point of being out there to begin with?

CASEY: I think there is a lot of strength in your voice because you are a celebrity. The fact that you are using that strength to talk about things that are universal, to talk about things that leave you vulnerable, to connect to other women, is wonderful. So many people don’t talk about the real stuff.

JENNA: It’s a risk to put opinions out there about parenthood. There’s a lot of blame that goes around where parenthood is concerned because everyone wants to feel like they’re doing the best job they can. For instance, Gray was at a birthday party a few months ago. She was just starting on solid foods and was only eating pureed stuff. I love to cook so instead of spending a ton of money on store-bought food, I make a bunch of food and put it in travel pouches so I can take it with us. One of the fathers there said, “I’ve never seen that kind of pouch before. What brand is that?” I told him I’d made it at home and put it into the pouch myself. His wife happened to walk up at that same time and said, “Well, I did that with our first child too. But once you have another one, you don’t have time anymore. It’s not saying anything against us as parents.” She immediately got defensive, and took it as a personal affront, as if I was saying they weren’t doing the right thing by not making their food at home. Which I would never say! I felt bad because we have created this motherhood forum where everybody is afraid they are not doing the “right” thing. When you are a parent who takes a risk, who voices an opinion and puts it out there, it does open the door for some backlash. Inevitably there are going to be parents who are worried that what you are saying is, “My way is the best way. I am the better parent because I choose to do this.” When in fact what you are saying is, “Hey is anybody else out there choosing this same route? Let’s be supportive of one another.”

CASEY: We are quick to be more defensive and let our insecurities get the best of us instead of saying, “Hey, I think that is awesome.” It makes me so sad. I feel like sometimes there is “Mom Political Correctness.” You have to say, “I love breastfeeding, BUT I know that not everyone can do it and I know it is not good for every mother and child.”

JENNA: I am the same way. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. I do feel the need to follow up with disclaimers and that is unfortunate, but that’s the way our society works. Nobody knows my intentions or my heart but me. So I don’t want people to get hung up on the wrong thing because I failed to make a disclaimer. The message is the important part to me.

CASEY: The other controversial issue is working-mom versus stay-at-home mom versus part-time working-mom.

JENNA: To that point, I have felt the need in the past to make sure people know that when I say I’m a stay-at-home mom, I know it’s a blessing, not a chore. As with anything, there are so many sides to the equation. There are so many different viewpoints on it. We put labels on everything, attachment parents, helicopter parents, all of these things. All of a sudden people are like, “Oh, are you trying the Ferber Method?” I don’t know what any of these titles are! I am just trying to find what works for my child, feels comfortable and doesn’t make my heart hurt.

CASEY: That brings peace and sanity in your home.

JENNA: Yes, that makes my home a happier place. That’s going to be a different scenario for each person. I always hate when someone sits back and states, “If you exercise option “A,” you are not an okay parent. You are doing the wrong thing.” In my humble opinion, unless you are truly abusing your child, only you can know what the wrong thing is. Listen to the pediatrician, listen to the people you trust for good advice, then sift through all of those things and add your maternal instinct to the equation. You decide what the best answer is for how to get you and your child from point A to point Z.

CASEY: Do you find since motherhood you talk to your mom more?

JENNA: My mom and I have always been really close, and then we went through a phase where we weren’t quite as close, as I think most women go through with their mom. I think my mom and I started talking more once I got married. There was that connection that was suddenly reinforced because we had something in common that was new. Especially once I had my daughter, because my mother is head over heels for her. It’s phenomenal to see the love that comes from my mom where my daughter is concerned. To my mother’s huge credit she has been nothing but supportive and appreciative of my parenting style.

CASEY: When my daughter was first born, my husband and I had this revelation. We talked about how we totally understand our parents more now that we have a child. Parenting is hard. You do the best you can.

JENNA: Part of it is the first-hand realization that, as cliché as it is, “There is no rule book.” Nobody really knows what they’re doing. There’s no prep for motherhood. Nobody knows more than anybody else because we all start with a clean slate. Inevitably we will be making mistakes and doing dumb things.

CASEY: Yes, I feel like our daughter has survived us thus far.

JENNA: It does give you a whole new appreciation for what a good job your parents did to get you to the point where you can turn around and do the same for your child. And it’s not to say we are going to make all of the same decisions our parents did. I am sure all of us can look back at our parents and go, “Man, they really screwed up that part!” But, I am going to screw my kid up in some ways too. Not because I want to, not because I am trying to, but because there is just no getting around it. I can’t offer my daughter perfection.

CASEY: I think a lot of people in our generation are taught that you have to do everything perfectly. Everyone has so much pressure to be the best, to go to this school, to get this career. A lot of people take that same mentality and try to apply it to motherhood, which is impossible.

JENNA: There shouldn’t be narrow stipulations on how to mother your child. It’s not fair to anybody. For instance, it really bothers me that so many people want to verbally attack my former (“Blossom”) co-star Mayim (Bialik) about her affiliation with attachment parenting. I have a huge amount of respect for her, not only for standing by her convictions, but for being open about them to the public. She’s allowing a lot of vulnerability to show by putting herself out there. I have read her book, never once did she say, “You are an inappropriate parent if you do not follow these rules and regulations that I follow.” She’s saying, “This is what works for me and my family. This is what makes my heart feel okay.” What’s really cool is the fact that even though Mayim and I may have differing opinions on how we raise our children in certain instances, we have been there to support each other. She has talked me through problems that I have had breastfeeding, because she is a certified lactation consultant. She has been there for me as an emotional support system. I wish we could all manage to do that. I wish we could look at each other and go, “Okay, we don’t necessarily have the exact same way of raising our child but that is what makes it beautiful.”

CASEY: We live in a very polarized world, whether it comes to politics, religion or even parenting. Sometimes, people get on one side or the other very staunchly and cannot come together. It’s really unfortunate because we fail to learn more about ourselves, grow individually, and grow as a community when we block everything out and say, “No, no, it’s my way.”

JENNA: I’m sure we are all guilty of it at some point or another, in some respect or another. It’s so unfortunate that motherhood and parenting fall into a political warzone. Motherhood should not be a political warzone.

CASEY: I feel like as a parent you can NEVER say never.

JENNA: I am guilty of it. Several years ago a good friend of mine had a baby. I said these words and I am eating them at this point, “Oh, I totally believe in the cry it out method.” This is, mind you, prior to my becoming a parent, so really, who the hell was I to make a comment on this at the time? “Oh I just really believe that kids need to learn that it’s okay to feel frustrated and it’s okay to be alone, to soothe themselves to sleep.” With that said, my friend said, “Well, that didn’t work for our daughter and that just doesn’t work for every child.” And now here I am, going, “Well that doesn’t work for my child either.” Now I understand, “never say never.”

CASEY: It is really nice that you and Mayim are still so close.

JENNA: I think motherhood is like the grand bridge. It really brought me together with a lot of people that I lost touch with over the years. In a way I feel like we are closer now because we have this connection of our children we can talk about. Of course, we have that history too, which probably means more to us now than it did back then.

CASEY: What life lessons did you learn on the show as compared to the life lessons you are learning as a stay-at-home mom?

JENNA: It’s really hard to paraphrase everything I learned back then and I’ve only been a mom for 9 months. I have so much left to learn that I don’t even know if there are comparisons. I wish I would have allowed myself to be a kid a little bit more. I wish that I had looked in the mirror and understood that I was beautiful at that moment, that it didn’t take another ten years when I knew how to kiss boys and walk across a room wearing tight jeans to feel good about myself. I wish that I had felt that I could give some of my own validation instead of expecting it from everybody else. It is difficult to have a show during the most awkward, gawky years. When I was on Blossom, I was angst-filled and hormonally charged. I hope that, if I can teach my daughter anything, it is to be true to herself. If I had been truer to my heart, and a little less concerned about being flawless, I might have indulged my sarcasm a little earlier and allowed my convictions and my voice to come through a little sooner. And those are the things I love most about myself now. I realize I have a little bit of a dark side sometimes and I embrace it. I wish I had embraced it then. I wish I had understood that coloring outside of the lines was okay, that conforming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

CASEY: What helped you become more of yourself? What changed? I know there are still so many adults who are still struggling with all of the issues you have mentioned.

JENNA: I think it was getting off the show, and having time to figure out what it was that I really wanted, not what other people wanted of me. I also think that it is an age thing. I feel a hell of a lot more comfortable in my own skin in my thirties than I ever did in my twenties. And when I was sixteen, I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. I looked in the mirror and I wished for thinner thighs, smaller facial features and all of those things. I always wanted to change something about myself. My priorities are so different now.

CASEY: You have talked in your blog how Gray already loves singing and posing for family photo shoots. Do you have any strong feelings on whether or not you would want Gray to enter show business?

JENNA: If Gray came to me, when she was old enough, and we talked about it and I felt that she had made that decision based on her own passion, I would not keep her from it. I’m impressed by the fact that my parents, who knew nothing about this industry, had the wherewithal to say, “I don’t know what the hell we are getting ourselves into, but if she wants it that badly we are willing to support her.” My parents both came from small towns. They had no clue how to go about getting me into show business, how to keep from falling victim to scams. They didn’t know the first thing about it. But they knew that I wanted it so badly and they loved me so much, they were willing to dive into the deep end and say, “Okay, we are in.” I don’t know what I would have done if God hadn’t given me parents who felt that way. So if Gray is that child, I hope that she was given to me because I’m a good enough, understanding enough, compassionate enough parent to be supportive of her in the same way my parents were. Do I have concerns about her getting into the industry? Of course, but I have concerns about her going to high school and meeting boys too. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.

CASEY: Are you a particular religion?

JENNA: I grew up Catholic.

CASEY: Faith is such a huge part of my life. I struggle sometimes with the Church’s teachings.

JENNA: Growing up in that faith has very much been a blessing and a gift for me. I don’t feel like I would be the same person without it. I realize the Catholic Church has a sort of rigidity associated with it, and many people only see a narrow path. It never felt that way to me, either in the church I grew up in or with the way my family is. I don’t generally talk about my faith publicly, although after the Newtown tragedy, I wrote a piece which acknowledged it. It was the most vulnerable I have ever made myself. I grew up in Newtown. I am so attached to my hometown. My parents still live there. My brother still lives there. It’s where I went to school and graduated. It’s where I got married and baptized my child. I too am in mourning. People that I grew up with in high school lost their daughter. My friends lost their daughter. I can’t reconcile it and I never will. I wake up every morning thinking about that. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s horrible. My intention in writing that piece was to open my heart and say, “This town is so much more than this tragedy that happened;” to mourn with every parent whether they have a direct connection or not. Before that moment I don’t ever remember saying out loud that I was Catholic in the press because that is so personal; so close to my heart. I don’t resent anyone, or feel that anyone is wrong, believing something that is different from what I believe in. I believe that having spirituality and faith is more important than whether or not our faith is for the exact same figurehead. I hope that I can teach my daughter to be open-minded and understanding.

It is now about two hours since Jenna and I began our interview. For the past hour, Gray has been with us, periodically breastfeeding, playing on the floor and tapping on the computer keyboard. It is way past Gray’s bedtime and almost time for our talk to end. I ask Jenna some final “Standard Mommy Questions.”

CASEY: What is your favorite song to sing to Gray when you are rocking her to sleep?

JENNA: A song I made up for her. It’s called, “Goodnight Bean.”

CASEY: What is your favorite book to read together?

JENNA: The Hungry Caterpillar, in French

CASEY: What is your favorite beverage to drink after a long day?

JENNA: A glass of wine.

CASEY: One character trait of yours you hope Gray will have?

JENNA: Sarcasm.

CASEY: One character trait of yours you are praying will bypass Gray?

JENNA: O.C.D.

CASEY: Fifty years from now how would you like Gray to complete this sentence: I’m so proud of my mom for always….

JENNA: Letting me be me.

CASEY: What word do you use in front of your daughter instead of using a curse word?

JENNA: Crumb. Gosh Darnit. If I am being perfectly honest, I still sometimes use curse words and I know I need to alter

that soon.

CASEY: Describe a mommy moment when you momentarily thought, “I don’t know if I can do this?”

JENNA: Teaching naptime. I will take a billion stinky diapers over teaching my daughter naptime.

CASEY: Describe a mommy moment that you wished lasted forever.

JENNA: There is something so special about this bonding time together (as Gray breastfeeds).

CASEY: Complete this sentence: I cannot wait until Gray is bigger so we can…

JENNA: Sing together.

CASEY: What did you and your husband do your first night out of the house without the baby?

JENNA: We went out to a restaurant and made sure we enjoyed drinks and dessert too.

CASEY: What is one thing that totally grossed you out before having Gray, that doesn’t even phase you post-baby?

JENNA: Honestly nothing. I am not a break-a-nail, need-a-hairdryer person, and with five dogs, you can be sure I have cleaned up my fair share of poop and vomit before Gray.

CASEY: Your past was on television and working as a recording artist. Your present days are filled immersing yourself in the role of a stay-at-home mom while finding time to write. Where do you see yourself in the near future?

JENNA: I would love to have another child. Because I am the oldest of four, I strongly believe in having siblings. I am working on publishing “The Betweeners,” which is a book for young adults. I am also in the process of writing another book which is based on my blog. Now, whether Gray will sleep long enough to allow me to write a couple of chapters in the next year, well, you will just have to ask her!

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We Are All Americans, When The Day is Done

Our Newest Picture Book Manuscript!

We’re All Americans When the Day Is Done

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans when the day is done.

My name is Lupe. My parents immigrated here.

In their small village they lived in poverty and fear.

They’ve chosen this place to raise their family,

With hopes of liberation and opportunity.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

My name is Roxy. I have a Poppy and a Dad.

They adopted me and I’m so very glad.

We are a loving and a happy family,

With dreams of recognition in this land of liberty.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

My name is Isaiah. My Grandma raises me,

In our walk up apartment, in the heart of the city.

We rely on each other and our close-knit family,
With a devotion to service and our church community.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

My name is Donna. I live just outside the city.

on a tree lined street that in the fall looks pretty.

We live in a house and my mom stays home with me.

We’re grateful to be living in the land of the free.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

My name is Will. Life on the farm is what I know.

We all work together to help our crops to grow.

The money from our crops feeds our growing family.

We’re a part of a tradition of farmers in our nation’s history.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

My name is Omar. I live with my dad and mom.

We are a close knit family that practices Islam. .

My brother’s in the Army and of this we are so proud.

We pray for his safe homecoming every night aloud.

We’re all Americans each and every one.

We’re all Americans, when the day is done.

As we say goodnight to those who give us care,

It is so very nice for us all to be aware,

That though our differences may seem so great in number,

We have so much more in common as we’re tucked into our covers.

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The Art of Curse Word Substitution

          The other day, I dropped a cast iron skillet on my pinky toe. I was aware my daughter was in ear shot, so I let out a long string of faux curses that I always say, “Mother of goodness…holy bananas… mother farger, that hurt!” I then limped around my kitchen until I was able to see straight again.  My daughter hearing the crash and my yelp called in from the living room, “Mom, are you okay?” I assured her I was fine, picked up the skillet and went back to preparing dinner.

             After my toe injury, I started wondering what words other parents use in lieu of curses.  I reached out to my Facebook and Twitter community to see what other people had to say. What I received in return was a hilarious and sometimes surprising list of G-rated words used when an R-rated word is not acceptable.

Ten Ways In Which to Avoid Using Curse Words

  1. When another driver cuts you off on the road, you can call him a “Son of a Biscuit!”
  2.  When your insurance company hangs up on you after you’ve waited almost an hour to talk to a live person shout, “Well, sprew you, you mother trucker!”
  3. When your neighbor lets his dog poop on your lawn for the 100thtime and doesn’t pick it up you can call him a “Forging Bass Stitch.”
  4. When you stub your pinky toe on the bed post in the middle of the night best to say, “You Motha Jumpa!”
  5. When you are quickly trying to bake a cake for your mother-in-law and you realize after you’ve put it in the oven that you forgot to add the sugar you can say, “Oh applesauce!”, “Oh coconuts!”, or “Oh my peas!”
  6. When your child promises she did not eat the whole box of cookies right before dinner despite the mounting evidence against him you can call him out on by saying, “Bullfeathers!” or “Bulldinkie!” or tell him he’s “Full of soup.”
  7. When you only realize it is school picture day, after everyone’s in the car, feel free to smack your forehead and exclaim, “Frick!” or “Fudge!”  or even yell “Curses!” in your best pirate voice.
  8. When your child, who is just starting to wear underpants, decides to wait until he gets to the top of the steps to pee so it cascades down all twelve stairs, culminating in a puddle on the first floor you may shout, “Cheese and Rice!”, “Horse Hockey!”, “Heavens to Betsy!” or “Sugar Boogers!”   
  9. Finally after taking a second to use the bathroom, and returning to find your two-year-old has reached into the litter box and is playing with your cat’s feces, try whispering under your breath, “Skittlefarts!” or “Shuckerdoodles!” 

Or if all else fails, use the phrase my co-workers’ grandma always used,   “Oh, bad words!”

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How To Make Snow Cream

If you are hanging out on the Northeast Coast tonight, chances are you may be covered in at least a foot of snow!  Here is a unique and delicious way to take advantage of the winter wonderland, while keeping your snowbound, snow bunnies entertained.  

Yummy delicious!

Ingredients:

8 cups of fresh clean snow –NOT the yellow variety

¾ cup of sugar

1 cup of whipping cream

1 tbsp of vanilla extract

Directions:

First, take your second largest bowl and put it outside in a spot where it is off the ground and away from any potential gross falling objects (dryer vents, gutters, ect…).  If snow has already fallen, thoroughly inspect snow before collecting it!  Leave snow outside until rest of snow crèam is prepared.

Take your largest bowl and mix together the whipping cream, vanilla and sugar with a whisk. You may also use milk or almond milk.

Bring the snow inside and add 8 cups of the snow to the cream mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until well combined.

I recommend adding diced strawberries and chocolate chips on top! Serve immediately and enjoy!

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Rest In Peace Disney Princess Phase

After being in our lives for almost three years, our dear Disney Princess Phase, recently passed away, just five weeks shy of my daughter’s 5th birthday.

“Mom, Disney Princesses are for little kids. I am a BIG kid. I’m interested in things like crafts, baking, decorating and rock stars now.”   It was then that I knew it was over. 

I was warned by other parents who have experienced this loss that our time with Disney Princess Phase was limited.  After many months of endless sparkly-pink everything, falsetto singing throughout the house, princess dolls, princess stickers, princess outfits and even princess toothbrushes, I admit that I had whole heartedly looked forward to Disney Princess Phase’s demise. But my friends said, “One day it will be gone, and then you will want it back more than anything.”

Listening to the warning of other parents and seeing early signs of disenchantment in our daughter, my husband and I decided to book a trip to Disney World this past September to make the most of our last days with Disney Princess Phase. We booked breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle and I begrudgingly made an appointment at the Bippity Boppity Boutique, a service where stylists named “Fairy Godmothers” give your little prince or princess a sparkly makeover.

My husband and I had taken our daughter to Disney World a couple of years ago, when Disney Princess Phase had just entered our lives. During this first trip, I saw girls coming out the Bippity Boppity Boutique looking like the poor unfortunates on the television show “Toddlers and Tiaras.” I said to my husband in my most judgemental tone, “I will NEVER allow our daughter to do that!”

I am pretty sure that person who came up with the expression “Never Say Never” is the wisest person in the universe. When my daughter found out that we were going to Disney World a second time she said, “I really wish we can see where the princesses get ready for their day! That would be amazing!” So there we were, 2 and half years later, at the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Cinderella’s Castle, watching my baby pick out a pink hair piece and have pink makeup smeared onto every inch of her face. It was the culmination of many years spent together with Disney Princess Phase. My daughter was in heaven.

Just three months after our magical trip to Disney World, Disney Princess Phase ceased to exist. As I did my shopping this past Christmas, it was bittersweet to first pass the bright pink baby and toddler toys, then pass the many Disney Princess aisles and instead go straight to my daughter’s new world of crafts, Barbie and cake pop decorating kits. For the first time in a long time, there was nothing Princess related on her Santa list and she did not want a Disney Princess themed Birthday Party.  The death of Disney Princess Phase was another milestone in my daughter’s development; a sign of her getting bigger and losing some of the magic of her younger years.

Some women’s rights activists feel that the big business of Disney Princess is damaging to young girls. They feel that it makes young girls shallow, dependent and brain washed and limits the notion of what it means to be a woman.  I disagree. Disney Princess Phase is survived by my still independent, strong willed, unique daughter. The lasting legacy that I see the Disney Princess Phase imparting is one of kindness, charity, seeing the best in others, being true to one’s self and of course, the love of everything sparkly-pink.       

The Magic Of Being Two

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Wherefore art thou missing socks?

Wherefore art thou missing socks?

But, soft! Clean and fresh this detergent makes.
Six loads of laundry and my wash is done.
Envious am I, who fold along the way.
Sick with the flu, a plague upon my house,
I had cast it off, my wash, until a fairer day.
I have not a maid, but am envious
Of those who do, making me sick and green.
Inside out underwear, we fools do wear it.
Dirty towels, too wet, are unadvised.
My husband does nothing: what of that?
“What man art thou?” I scream.
I am too bold, ‘tis not to me he speaks.
Wrapped up in his business, he’s a mere mortal.
As daylight fades, I fold the wash of white.
I begin to start my daughters’ clothes, so bright.
Missing socks, missing socks, wherefore art thou missing socks?
Did you get lost in the dryer, in the bosom of the air?
Get taken by a winged messenger from heaven?
Without you my wash does not smell as sweet.
What satisfaction canst I have to-night?
I turn my wandering eyes to gaze upon the clean wash pile.
Six loads of laundry, sixteen lone socks?
Parting is such sweet sorrow.

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Easy Brownie Peaunt Butter Cupcakes

How to Make Easy Brownie Peanut Butter Cupcakes on YouTube

Fall is here and Halloween is just around the corner. Brownie Peaunt Butter Cupcakes is an easy, delicious treat that is a crowd pleaser for sure. I once raised $50 for charity in a silent auction for the recipe to this tasty baked good along with a tin full of them! I hope you enjoy!

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Life Lessons Learned In Preschool

I simply cannot believe my little preemie is about to enter her last year of preschool.  Where did these past four years go?  She started school in pre-k 2, going a few hours a week.  The pre-k 4 kids had always looked so big to me.  It was so hard to believe my baby would one day seem so big.  It is amazing how much she has grown.

                I am really grateful for my daughter’s preschool. They have done such a good job balancing kindness and compassion with structure and discipline.  My daughter has grown and learned so much while there.  While she was learning her lessons and growing as a person, I feel I was growing and learning as a parent at the same time. From listening to her stories, it seems the following lessons are what she will take away from her years spent at her preschool. 

1.       You get what you get and you don’t get upset.

When my daughter was just two, she came home and fed me the above line at the dinner table. I almost fell off my chair and asked her to repeat it. Apparently, this was a big phrase used by the teachers in the class; you know, during snack time, or when art supplies were handed out, or when the students were told what their jobs were for the day.  I immediately took this phrase to heart and have applied it to my grown up life- my infertility issues, the fact that I will never be athletic enough to go to the Olympics, the parking space I didn’t get in the mall parking lot among other things. This phrase is the tot version of the Serenity Prayer, “Accept the things I cannot change.”

2.       People can be mean for no good reason and not everyone is going to like you.

So last year in Prek-3, my daughter had her first taste of how mean other kids can be.  It is a cruel, awful reality that not everyone is going to like you, and sometimes people are mean to you for no good reason. For some reason my daughter had this fascination with a little blonde girl in class. There were various mean things said to my daughter by this girl throughout the year. One day my daughter came home and said, “Suzy said I couldn’t go over to her house because I have curly black hair. Only girls with blonde straight hair can come to her house.”  I was livid and upset for my daughter who just wanted to be friends with this girl. I was also frustrated because my daughter refused to stay away from this girl and continued to want to try and be friends with her.  But, whenever there was an issue my daughter came to talk to me about it and we figured out ways to cope with the issue and ways she could stick up for herself and express her feelings.  For instance the next school day my daughter went up to this girl and said what we rehearsed, “You really hurt my feelings when you said I couldn’t come to your house.”   The girl replied, “Well I guess you can come over, but you have to take your shoes off at the door like everyone else.”  We never did go over for a play date, but I feel that my daughter is starting to learn how to cope with meanness and figure out how to pick friends.  My hope is that my daughter keeps feeling comfortable speaking to me about all of this.

3.       The opposite sex can sometimes seem like they are from another planet.

Boys and girls can be SO different!  Just check out the self-help section of any bookstore, there are hundreds of books about males and females and how to navigate their differences.  My daughter does not understand why some boys will get in her face and yell, or chase after her or, when she was really young, drive trucks into her feet.  I can’t tell you how many of the moms will come to me as we wait for class and say, my son always talks about your daughter and how much he likes her. It is those same boys whom my daughter will sometimes complain about. She doesn’t get why if a boy likes her he will do things to annoy her.    I feel like her time spent with the boys in class are the first of many life lessons she will learn in dealing with the opposite sex.

4.       No one is the line leader every day.

In my daughter’s classroom there is a list of 6 classroom tasks that get rotated among the students every day.  The most coveted position is by far the line leader. The line leader is at the front of the procession line as the students travel to and from the gym or outside to play. Everyone wants to be the line leader. Every time my daughter was the line leader, she came home raving about her day.  When she was stuck in the middle of the line, she was not happy.  I think it is such a valuable lesson, not only in learning to take turns, but also in having every kid feel special and important and having every kid let someone else have that special and important job.  We all have different gifts in life, and in some things we are rock stars in our own right and in other things, we struggle and do not stand out as much.  I think both are equally as important.  

5.       When you fall down, you get back up; if you can’t get up, ask for help.

I remember leaving my daughter in her prek-2 classroom for the first time.  Luckily, I did not have to deal with her crying for the first 6 weeks like other moms at drop off. (By the way, stay strong, moms who have to deal with the crying at drop off. Trust your child’s teacher, your child will stop crying eventually and your child will have a good time and be stronger for it) But I was the one who was crying and a wreck, not my daughter.  What if she needed me and I was not there? What if she gets hurt, or sick or sad?  Over the past three years she has had scrapes and bruises, some not on her teacher’s radar and some that were fixed with a Band-Aid from the principal. My daughter even threw up once in class due to the sudden onset of a stomach virus. But she survived and learned to cope without me. She has learned to self soothe and reach out to other trusted adults when she is in trouble.  These are skills that she didn’t learn at home with me, but are invaluable skills she will need throughout her entire life.

The start of a new school year is upon us! I always think about all of the parents who are sending their little one to school for the first time. It honestly was harder on me than my daughter. But I know for many families, it is equally hard on both.  But know that although change can be hard, it is the only thing that makes us grow as people.  My daughter has grown so much in these past few years. I am going to cherish her last year in pre-k. Next stop: Kindergarten!

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The Priceless Gifts of Motherhood

My four year old daughter is so excited for Mother’s Day this year. It is very touching to see her make such a big deal about it.  She is making a gift for me at her preschool that is a “BIG SURPRISE”. I hear her conspiring with my husband about plans for Mother’s Day.   My daughter is a very passionate and enthusiastic person and she also happens to be quite thoughtful.  It is a personality mix that brings me so much joy every single day, and most especially on holidays.

Although I don’t want to dampen her adorable enthusiasm, I feel like sitting her down and telling her that she doesn’t have to give me anything.  SHE is the reason I get to celebrate this day and SHE is the greatest gift that will ever be bestowed on my life. It was only 5 years ago that I had spent my Mother’s Day drinking mimosas while shuffling around to different family functions, and crying in the car to my husband about my deep sadness and pain over not being able to celebrate this day as a mom.  My struggle with infertility is what makes me so incredibly grateful to be a mom. But we all have our difficult journeys filled with hardship, our own personal reasons that we look at our children as gifts not to be taken for granted.  

Being a mom to my daughter has taught me so much about myself, and I have grown in ways I never thought possible.  This Mother’s Day I wanted to focus on the many gifts that motherhood has brought to my life. 

1.       Patience- I have to say, patience was never one of my best traits. I remember being shocked at how much patience is needed to be a mom and how quickly that patience is called upon: first, desperately trying to get my preemie to finish a bottle without having her fall asleep; then, months later, trying to get that same tired screaming baby to sleep in her crib throughout the night; then potty training, tantrums and disagreements over meals and wardrobe among the many other things we do while sleep deprived, which require patience on a daily basis.  It took me awhile to catch on that the more calm and patient I am, the more calm and obliging my little one is.  I surely have moments of impatience, but I am a whole different person than I was ten years ago when it comes to how I handle trying situations.

2.       Joy- I have to say that being a mom has made me understand the word “joy” on a whole new level. That is not to say I never knew joy or happiness before I had my daughter. There have been a great many things in my life that have brought me much happiness and satisfaction.  But only my daughter brings me pure, euphoric joy.  Multiple times a day I look at the beauty and wonder of her, and I could cry as that overwhelming swelling of love engulfs my heart.  Her hugs, her kisses, her laughter, and seeing her happy are the greatest gift.  Her joy satisfies me in a way that I didn’t even know existed. 

3.       Survival Skills- Being a mom would make me the best contestant the television show “Survivor” has ever seen.  I now can accomplish incredible things even after being sleep deprived for weeks (sometimes months!) on end.  I can survive on little food for long periods of time, and I can even eat while standing, running or crawling on the floor.  I am immune to gross things and am a pro at dealing with bodily fluid.  I can also thank my daughter for my habit of carrying a number of survival supplies with me at all times. At any given moment I have basic first aid supplies, non-perishable food and drink, anti-bacterial wipes and some form of entertainment, all in my hand bag.      

4.       Selflessness-   I remember learning about Jesus and the saints in religion class growing up and the idea of surrendering ones’ life for God.  The idea was mind blowing.  It wasn’t until I became a mom that I could truly begin to grasp what that meant.  From the minute my little one was born, my body, mind and heart all had one goal, to ensure the health, wellbeing and happiness of this little soul.  There was nothing else that mattered or that was as important.   As moms, we surrender our own health, happiness and many other needs to see to it that our children have all they need first.  We often surrender basic things like eating, privacy in the bathroom or, some days, taking a shower, to attend to our children’s needs.  I am not advocating this behavior!  I think it is really important for us moms to take care of our own needs and to find a healthy balance. But I do think being a mom and learning to put my daughter’s needs before mine has been a gift and has allowed me to grow as a person and also understand my own parents on a more profound level.

5.       Hope-  I know I am incredibly lucky to have a healthy, thriving four year old.  I am so very grateful to have her in my life and to be her mom especially knowing how much I struggled with infertility. The greatest gift my daughter has given me is the gift of hope.  We have all been at stages in our journey where we have no hope. When there is no hope left, the world can be a very dark and scary place. As long as this love between me and my little girl exists, I can have hope even in the most desperate situations.  Things will be okay because we have each other.  It is my responsibility to make things okay, to make her life as calm and normal as possible so she can focus on growing and learning about herself and her gifts.  This gift of hope may be the greatest gift of all.

These gifts are just a few that I will be thanking my daughter for this Mother’s Day.  I will hug her at least a million times because SHE is my gift on Mother’s Day and every day. As she gives me the present she made at preschool, I will be the most passionate and enthusiastic gift-receiver the world has seen.  I will be teary eyed for much of Mother’s Day in gratitude for my daughter, especially remembering my difficult journey to become a mother. I will also be saying prayers and sending love to all of those in the infertility community who are struggling, as well as all of those moms and daughters who may be experiencing more sadness than joy on this day due to the loss of a loved one.

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