Thursday, June 30, 2011

The "S" on your chest


When the “S” on Your Chest Stands for STRESS
(How it effects your children and ways to handle it!)

By Camille McDaniel, LPC, NCC, CPCS


Wife, Sister, Friend, Aunt, Employee, Employer, Bottle Warmer, Diaper Changer, House Cook, Tear Wiper, Taxi Driver, Comforter...

There are so many titles that moms have today, it’s no wonder a little stress (or A LOT) may fall your way. I frequently meet moms who set rather high standards and goals for juggling all the titles they posses, in order to make sure everyone else is happy. After all, that’s what moms do right? Hmmm. When they are not able to meet these monumental goals, they are disappointed and stressed.

Stress can come from many sources, in addition to constant high expectations of yourself. If by chance you are a mom that doesn’t have a strong support system to lean on then you may experience increased amounts of stress.

The University of Rochester completed a study. They followed 169 diverse children for 3 years. The findings of their study were published in a journal called Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The researchers discovered that continuous parent and family stress can increase strep infections and other illnesses in children. It also appears that children effected by chronic parent and family stress experience and increase in their natural killer (NK) cell function. NK cell function is the part of the body’s immune system that prepares to kill germs that don’t belong, unlike adults, whose function is decreased with chronic stress.

So maybe chronic stress is good for my child since the immune system increases those natural killer cells right? Well let’s put it this way, using the heart as an example. When you get into a situation that frightens you, your heart may start racing, pumping blood to all the organs needed to help you flee danger. However, if that heart doesn’t stop racing, over time it starts to exhaust it’s strength and wears down. That is true for the immune system functions too.

So how can you turn the S on your chest from STRESS to SERENITY? Well let’s try these 5 steps for starters:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

WW: A gift

WORDLESS (almost) WEDNESDAY


Amelia begged to buy Daddy a present at the store.

She said he needed something sparkly.

Daddy is thrilled with his new magic wand:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Field Trip

Leaves crunched underneath our sneakered little feet. Birds sang from treetops and clouds. Fuzzy gray squirrels scampered here and there as the terrifying herd of 2nd graders tromped through the woods.


We chattered and giggled throughout the day, trying to listen to the nice man in green as he explained various phenomena of nature. We gawked at the animals in habitat enclosures, especially enjoying the funny little otters as they splashed and chased and dunked.


We slouched comfortably in large padded theater chairs, waiting for the planetarium show to begin. Our eyes twinkled with the reflections of stars from the domed ceiling. We marveled at constellations, hoping to spot them in the real-life sky later that night.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What storm?

I attended a lovely event tonight at the Atlanta AVEDA store in Lenox Mall (co-hosted by the lovely ladies behind The Blogrollers).

Once again, I was able to connect a few real-life faces with blogs and Twitter handles. I also...

--Learned a lot about AVEDA products
   (did you know they are extremely eco-friendly?)

--Received a fabulous hand treatment massage
   (try it! hand massages are offered free just for browsing the store.)

--Got my face "done"
   (AVEDA employees are happy to do yours too - just ask!)

--Tasted their popular hot tea
   (caffeine-free, sugar-free, and delicious!)

On the way home, I battled a severe thunderstorm. I leaned forward over the steering wheel and squinted my eyes, trying to see something in between the fast swish-swish of wiper blades. I blindly followed the brake lights in front of me, occasionally dodging giant pools of standing water. Sometimes hitting them as well, sending tsunami-like sprays over my vehicle and at least six feet in from the curb.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sweet weekend

Ode to my favorite days of the week!


W is for Waiter. Mama doesn't cook on weekends.   

E is for Eager. Always looking forward to a fun family activity! 

E is for Economy. Mama is going shopping.

K is for Kitchen. I try to stay out of it. Except for art projects and Play-Doh.

E is for Endearing. Nothing turns me to mush like quality daddy-daughter playtime.

N is for Nature. Parks, playgrounds, and picnics. Time to get outdoors.

D is for Daddy. He is home with us. All day long. For two days!

You know what would make weekends even better?
Three days.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

I've been there


Everyone's life has its ups and downs. Periods of joy, eventually knocked aside by times of distress.

If you are in a time of joy, embrace it. Let your entire being melt into it. Don't take it for granted. Don't let the distractions of the modern world take away your best moments.  

If you have been sideswiped (or hit head-on) by trauma, sadness, or strife, breathe. Take time for yourself. Allow your own needs to be in the forefront, even for just a moment each day. How you handle a difficult time now can determine what sort of time you may face down the road. Even when an immediate stress is gone, the effects can remain.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Art expressions


In the eyes of a child,
Every project is a masterpiece.

In the eyes of a child,
The fridge is a hallowed gallery.

In the eyes of a child,
Glue is a mystical force.

In the eyes of a child,
Buttons become jewels.

Glitter transforms into fairy dust.

And stickers are badges of honor.



We nourish their bodies with healthy foods and build their strength with exercise. Art and creativity play an important role in growing their minds too.

What creative activities do you enjoy with your kids?

- - - -
This post inspired by Mama Kat's Writers' Workshop. The prompt was to post a photo from this week and write a poem about it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Wish

Wish I was here!

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I could use a quiet morning on the beach right now.


- - - -

Want a summer treat? Don't forget to enter the Rufus' Roar and ice cream giveaway! Ends 6/28. Simply leave a comment on this post: Monster In The House

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monster in the house

My little girl is a monster!

A pretend one, thankfully.

She has been practicing her "rooaar!" ever since reading the new children's book, Rufus' Roar.

Rufus is a very large red monster. He is gentle and always polite, but whenever he speaks, the humans only hear his "rooaar!". When he sets out for a treat to calm his rumbling tummy, Rufus quickly finds himself in lots of trouble. All because of a teeny misunderstanding.

My three-year-old daughter loves books, but many fall to the bottom of the book bin if they just can't hold her attention. The bold and colorful images and emotion-filled story of Rufus captivated her from the start. It was wonderfully age-appropriate for her, but may also be enjoyed at much older ages when they can read for themselves. We read Rufus' Roar together three times that afternoon. And we've read it daily ever since.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Daddies in my life

Happy Father's Day!

Extra-special thanks and wishes to the two dads in my life...

My dad (who makes a wonderful Granddad too!)
"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope."
  ~Bill Cosby

This quote makes me laugh, because I distinctly remember picking out soap-on-a-rope for many, many consecutive Christmases. Dad, I hope you liked them!



And Amelia's fantastically fun Daddy
"Daddy can't be a princess, but he is my very favorite prince"
  ~Amelia


- - - -

Re-visit my poem "If at first you don't succeed", a tribute to the never-ending support of good Daddies.
 
- - - -
 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bump Rockin'

Disclaimer:
I am not currently pregnant. These are pics from 2007/2008. Don't go starting any rumors!



I have had so much fun reading all the Rockin' the Bump posts this week. It's only fair that I show you mine.



My first bump photo - totally rockin' the cuteness:
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A bump update - and my favorite maternity shirt. Looks like I was still rockin'!
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Is that a beached whale? Oh no, it's just me. January 2008, about 26 weeks pregnant.
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Scholarship Opportunity

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PBM Products for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
I can't imagine my little princess going off to college. I also can't believe she is already three years old. Potty-trained. Intelligent. And, well, a bit bossy. The light of my life is growing up, and I can barely keep up.
She will be in college before I know it.

I remember the excitement I felt during those last two high school years. Independence, new experiences, and new friends were just around the corner.

My parents were probably less thrilled. College came with a pretty hefty price tag.

Today, I am thrilled to be able to help spread the word about  Parent’s Choice Infant Formula Savings Sweepstakes.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mama says

Trying my hand at fiction again for The Red Dress Club! This post is pure fiction. It is not about me, my past, or anyone I know. Nor does it represent pageant enthusiasts as a whole.
- - - - - -

I don’t like that sound. That hissing sound from too many spray cans in one place. I don’t like the smell. Fumes, Mama calls them. Just fumes. Nothing to worry about.

I cannot remember a time without the fumes.

Fake tan. Hairspray. Body glitter. Even more hairspray.

I am a five-year-old beauty queen.

Despite being six months away from Kindergarten, I am already considered a pro. My Hello Kitty bedroom is full of ribbons and trophies. I was two years old for my first pageant. My walk is sassy and confident. My smile is white, bright, and big. My hair? Even bigger. Mama has a passion for hairspray.

Mama has a passion for pageants. She is always pushing. Practice more. Stand up straighter. Don’t squint.

I never asked to be a beauty queen.

Mama told me I would be a beauty queen. She always said it was something she couldn’t do. She always said it was important. It was what I was meant to do. Because I’m pretty.

No one asked me.

Today is my best friend Audrey’s birthday party. She turned five on Thursday while we were at school. Our teacher, Ms. Linda, gave her a birthday hat and we all sang “Happy Birthday” during snack time. We had cupcakes for our special snack that day – pink cupcakes with sprinkles on top. My birthday was last month. Mama didn’t have time to send in a special snack, but at least I got to wear a birthday hat.

I did not have a birthday party. We had a pageant that weekend. Instead of playing with my friends and eating cake, I pranced and posed and shimmied. Mama said it was a really special weekend – such an important competition for me. She sculpted my hair into a big poof and snapped a hairbow on to hold it in place. The hairbow pulled and hurt a little. I wanted to cry, but Mama told me there was a price for beauty.

I wish I could have had a party.

It was hard to fall asleep last night. Thoughts of Audrey’s birthday party swirled through my mind. But when Mama shook me awake early this morning, she was wearing her big button proclaiming “Pageant Mom. I (heart) my daughter!”. It was good I hadn’t had breakfast yet, because my tummy did a sad little flip. That button could only mean one thing; we were going to a pageant. Mama smiled and picked at my hair. She always complains that I sleep on it funny. I cried – silently, because Mama doesn’t like the sound. How could she forget about Audrey’s party? Mama said parties are for babies, we have a good chance to win today. And why would I want to miss that?

Crying makes my eyes puffy, so I had to stop.

In the car, we listened to my song six times. Mama said I will sing better tonight after the hot tea. I think hot tea is gross.

We crossed the state border and arrived at the civic center by 11:05.

Audrey’s party started at 11:00.

I wonder if she’s having fun?

- - - - - -




This week's prompt:

Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stung

When I was 17 years old, I fell into the boyfriend trap.

I slipped away from my friends and spent every spare moment with my love of the year.

After the novelty of the new relationship wore off, I opened my eyes. I opened my eyes and saw my friends off to the side, enjoying each other’s company. Laughing. Chatting. Planning weekend activities. Activities that no longer involved me.


There was no Facebook in the mid 1990s, so I turned to the most popular high school “social media” at the time - I wrote a note. A simple note on lined paper torn from my 5-subject World Geography notebook.

    Let’s hang out this weekend! I miss you.

I folded the note precisely and slipped it to my friend as we exited the classroom. We parted ways for different 6th-period destinations. My heart skipped a beat; I did the right thing. I vowed to get my friend back.

When the final bell signaled the end of the school day, I searched the halls for my friend. I was antsy to connect with her as soon as possible. What fun activities would we get ourselves into on Saturday? I could hardly wait. But I did not find her.

Disappointed, I made my way to my gray metal locker, dialed the combination lock, and yanked it open. Yellow paper fluttered to the floor. Yellow paper, which had been previously stuffed through the upper slats in my locker door.

It was a note. Or, more accurately, a letter. Three full pages of handwritten words on slightly crumpled yellow lined paper. I flipped to the back – it was from her! Happily, I skimmed the words.

Then my heart plunged to the pit of my stomach.

My eyes widened with astonishment.

My hands began to tremble.

This was not what I expected.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The clingy kid

Alright people, I am ready to make a confession.

I do not like to play.

I get painfully bored playing preschool games. I do not enjoy sitting on the floor. I can only change the 3" tall princesses' clothes so many times before I have a pounding headache. Play-Doh? Just makes me antsy about the mess.

I do not like to play.
Gasp! What a horrible mom.

I guess I should say, I do not like to play, but I do it anyway.

I am a busy work-from-home mom. I work for an advertising agency. I also blog, tweet, take care of the house, do laundry, run errands, and cook meals. I also take time out each day to play with Amelia.

Granted, it may not be for long. 30-45 minutes of undivided attention from me makes her day. I find a way to stop what I am doing and let her take the reins. During this time, she directs our play. Sometimes, if my schedule looks clear, we go out to a playground or indoor play center. I encourage her to venture out, to have confidence playing alone. I will also find moments to join her. To interact. To cheer her on as she climbs a tower or chase her as she runs and giggles. I admit, I do not love it. But the joy on her face breaks down my walls and forces a smile. Those moments are priceless.

Eight or nine times out of ten, do you know what happens?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Annual safety reminder!


As I sit at the pool, visit the waterparks, and lounge by the beach this summer, I will cringe countless times.



I will avert my eyes - and say a prayer - as I watch children dive, headfirst, into shallow waters.

I cannot even express how much this bothers me.

Before last summer, I never thought twice about it.

For those of you who don't know, my sister-in-law suffered a terrible fall on July 8th, 2010 and is facing life paralyzed from the chest down. We spent countless hours (months) at the rehab hospital with her.

100+ people are at this one facility on any given day.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Wellness

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

What do you think about "generic" products?

Me, I love them! I am definitely a store-brand kind of girl. Especially when it comes to health & wellness products; you can usually check the active ingredients and immediately see there is NO sacrifice for the money savings.

I just returned from a vacation to Arizona. The desert dryness and breezes wreaked havoc on my eyes. I quickly stopped into a Walgreens to buy their store brand Sterile Rewetting Drops for soft contact lenses. At $5.99 for a full half-ounce, these were the best selection for the money. And the quality was great! My eyes were very thankful.

I have used many Walgreens Brand Health & Wellness Products over the years, and they have never let me down. They are a great value and contain the same active ingredients as the major brands. Did you know these products also come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee? But wait... there's more! Each purchase also benefits the Walgreens Way to Well Fund™. Great value and socially-conscious. I like that!

**You can win!** Several bloggers are giving away Walgreens Gift Cards right now! If you win, you can stock up on high quality, great value products for yourself! Check out the current giveaways by clicking here: giveaways

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I'm OK, you're OK

Once again, the blogosphere has connected me to a fantastic person. I am so happy to have recently connected with Onesie Mommy. She left a touching comment on a recent post - so touching, in fact, that I had to post it myself! Check it out HERE.

Tonight, I am honored to have a guest post published on the Onesie Mommy blog!

I have only one child.
She is over age three.
Am I an anxious mess because I do not have a second child yet?
Nope. This is how I like it.

Please visit my guest post HERE.
Tell me... what do you love about your unique family?


Dont' forget to follow @OnesieMommy on Twitter!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Got (Gummiberry) juice?

I miss Saturday morning cartoons.

Before the time of all-cartoon cable networks, prior to a Disney Channel subscription in my home... those were the days when children across the country longed for Saturday morning.

Saturday mornings had a purpose; these days held a higher level of excitement than any other throughout the week. It did not matter that I was awake past my bedtime the night before, or that I was battling fatigue from hours of summer swimming pool play.

I got out of bed as soon as my eyelids fluttered open. 

I headed straight for the television.

Snorks.  Smurfs.  Pee Wee's Playhouse.

My favorite of all-time? Sandwiched between Snorks at 8:00 and Smurfs at 9:00, was Disney's Adventures of The Gummi Bears.

25+ years later, I can still sing the theme song verbatim.

Dashing and daring,
Courageous and caring,
Faithful and friendly,
With stories to share.
All through the forest,
They sing out in chorus,
Marching along,
As their song fills the air.

Gummi Bears!!
Bouncing here and there and everywhere,

High adventure that's beyond compare,
They are the Gummi Bears!

Magic and mystery,
Are part of their history,
Along with the secret,
of Gummiberry juice...

- - - - -
I wonder which theme songs Amelia will remember when she's in her 30s? Little Einsteins? Mickey Mouse Clubhouse? Maybe the Backyardigans or Fresh Beat Band?

Today, Saturday morning is just like any other morning.

Disney Channel. Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network. PBSKids.

There is such a vast selection of shows every morning of the week, maybe she won't remember any of them?

That breaks my heart just a little bit.


- - - - -

 
Another fabulously fun memoir prompt from The Red Dress Club!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Part 2: WATER FUN

"When you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses."
 --Joyce Brothers

Did you miss yesterday's post? Part 1: DESERT

So, what else is there to do in a land of dry air, dust and heat? Swimming pools and water parks, of course! I'm so glad we grabbed a waterproof disposable camera - the photo quality isn't the best, but we captured some fun moments!

Vacation, Part 2: WATER FUN

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Ahhh, mama needed this!

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"Go, Daddy, Go! Yaaay!"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Part 1: DESERT

"A vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in"
 --Robert Orben

Summer vacation 2011: Arizona

We awoke bright & early and flew into Phoenix. Our agenda? See some desert sites and spend a lot of time splashing in beautiful resort pools.

Mission accomplished.

Vacation, part 1: DESERT

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"Wow, we're really high in the sky! It's windy up here."

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(Mom, being "creative")

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One of the coolest locations for a chapel - ever.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Modern mama

Posted this a year ago... Pulling it from the archives!

Why I am grateful NOT to be a 1950s housewife:

Men's cotton boxer shorts and/or an oversize t-shirt are much more comfortable to sleep in than a modest, full-length, long-sleeved nightgown.

I can take my makeup off and pull my hair back in a headband before my husband arrives home from work - and any other time of the day I feel like it.

Cookies come in quick and easy "break & bake" packages, taking only a couple seconds beyond baking time for a warm & delicious treat.

(And speaking of food...) Dinner can be Chinese delivery, a previously frozen pizza, sandwiches, or sometimes even cereal if I've had a rough day and just don't feel like the extra effort for something better.
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