My son's big summer adventure is on the TODAY Parenting team page!

He is no longer the tiny boy who gripped my neck before preschool for a time, refusing to enter the room. We would sit outside the door and talk and I would hold him until he was ready. I had the unfettered luxury of doing that, then.

He’s big and small at the same time, and he reaches milestones faster than I can keep up.

This summer, he’ll be taking a trip with my husband on a father-son fly fishing trip a few states away from where we live. His grandfather will be there and two of his great-uncles, and they will dote on him and love having him there with them. It’s a rite of passage; my husband started traveling with his dad on this annual week-long fishing trip when he was 8 as well.

Read the full story on the TODAY Parenting team page!

My son's summer adventure is about to begin and I'm the one who needs to be brave

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Dream Kitchen Goes High Tech with LG and Best Buy

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When I bought my first house, it was a modest bungalow out in a newly-developed area north of Atlanta, Georgia. It was cookie-cutter and ready-made for us to move in, my then-boyfriend and I, and it felt like home. I was young – still in my mid-20s – and I had a lot to learn.

One of my first big decisions was to buy a couch, a washer and a dryer, and a refrigerator. I have to tell you, it was my dream growing up to have a refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser, and I was determined to have that for myself in my new grown-up life. I was so excited to pick out my own appliance with my own money.

Now, 20 years and a few houses later, I have not on the refrigerator I always wanted, but I have a kitchen where I love to talk to my family (and watch my husband cook – lucky me!)  and a small but effective laundry closet where the sounds of the washer and dryer are so rhythmic that my little boy used to laugh and dance to it.

That little boy is now 8 – nearing 9 – and one of the phrases he uses to describe himself is “always hungry”. Now my dream is to not only have an ice maker and water dispenser, but a window that will reveal what’s inside without him standing there allowing the cool air to deplete, putting all of our groceries at risk.

At the Mom 2 Summit a few weeks ago, I spent some time with the representatives for Best Buy, and they had my dream fridge on site: the LG Instaview Door-in-Door. Their whole kitchen setup was displayed in matte black, which is LG’s new exclusive collection. It’s stainless steel with a low-gloss matte finish that reminds me of the new automotive matte paint jobs. Of course it does, if you know my passion for cars.  

Yes, the LG units are envy-inducing sleek. And they’re also tech-savvy: these LG smart kitchen appliances are wi-fi and voice-enabled, allowing you to control your kitchen appliances remotely, from changing settings, to checking the status, or turning them on or off. These smart appliances would make my life easier, for sure. Especially that little knocking-on-the-glass feature to let me see what’s inside without letting all the good, cold air out.

Maybe the next model can make dinner for us, too. A woman can dream, right?

LG washers and dryers with SmartThinQ® technology will change the way you do laundry. You can start and stop wash cycles remotely, get updates when laundry is done and even receive reminders about scheduled maintenance.

If you have an Amazon Echo, or Google Home Alexa (or Hey Google) can interact with your appliances and help you run a more efficient household.

Here’s just a few examples of LG’s Smart Appliance Capabilities:

Refrigerator

  • "Alexa, turn on ice plus for my party tonight"

Range

  • "Hey Google, how much time is left on the range?"
  • (Or use your SmartThinQ app to check the time remaining)

Dishwasher

  • Receive a notification that the cycle has finished

If you’re in the market, you may be interested in these offers from Best Buy (which is, incidentally, where I bought that first refrigerator, washer, and dryer so many years ago):

Summer Kitchen Bundle (5/10 – 7/11)

  • Purchase a 4-piece Kitchen Bundle and receive up to $400 INSTANT rebate.  LG and LG Studio models are eligible for this offer.
  • The offer covers both Memorial Day and Independence Day.

LG Ultimate Laundry Room Rebate (5/10 – 7/11)

  • Purchase a qualifying laundry bundle and receive up to a $400 rebate

Drop in at your nearest Best Buy or visit BestBuy.com to learn more about these LG Matte Black Kitchen Appliances. The next time I need to heat up the oven and I’m racing home to make dinner, I can call it in remotely. Now, that’s what I call smart.

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The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card

And the winners are...

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When I was called up to the stage at #Mom2Summit, I had no idea what to say. I truly thought that one of my fellow nominees with much bigger fan bases would win the Iris Award, so I made myself content with the honor of being in their company. When I reached the microphone, I said that I'm just lucky to do what I love.

I do feel lucky. I dreamed of being a writer since I was a kid, so I still want to pinch myself sometimes. But even when you get to pursue your dreams on a national platform, it's still work that consumes you, and constantly thinking about how to improve, and finding ways to be as open and thoughtful as possible. It's worth the time to be the best I can be, and there is always room to be better.

I love working with a team made up of women who not only value what I do, they encourage and support me and my writing and they care for my words in a way that speaks to the parenting themes of their site.

Yes, there will always be people who don't believe in you, don't value you, and would rather see you fall. Don't spend your valuable time worrying how to win them over. Let your work speak for itself and focus on those who lift you up, elevate you, motivate you, and inspire you.

Thank you TODAY Parents for featuring me on your site after the Mom 2.0 Summit Iris Awards. I feel so grateful to have the support of the TODAY Parents team along with all of YOU.

https://www.today.com/…/iris-awards-mom-2-0-honor-best-mom-…

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You are Not Too Much

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Sometimes you can see the path ahead of you unfurling like a magic carpet. You know that you have to work hard and it’s going to be painful at times.

You know that not everyone wants to see you succeed. You know that not everyone wants to come along on the same route but may meet you at the end. You are derailed when a childhood friend quietly unfriends you and you don’t know why but the story you make up in your head is that you have been TOO MUCH. Too excited. Too self promoting. Too selfish.

So you look at the friends who are flanking you on every side and won’t leave you even if you lose your ever-loving mind. Because they love you even though you can’t seem to catch your breath and don’t have enough time to take care of everyone the way you want to.

You know that the work is going to be worth it. You know your dreams are ahead, just past that door. But right now the end point looks far away.

I don’t know how I’m getting there yet. But I’ll get there. And I am so grateful for the tide of love that sweeps me along when I’m feeling lost.

Broken bowl... and whole parenting

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This morning, my son spilled his bottle of juice all over the table. We were running late and I had to be at a local TV station to promote a charity event; somehow, I kept my cool, tossed him a towel, and helped him clean it up. 

"We all make mistakes," I said. 

And it's a good thing I said that, because not two minutes later, I dropped a bowl and it shattered all over the kitchen floor. What can you do at that point but sweep it up and move on, right? 

I haven't always been patient with him when messes happen, and I certainly haven't ever been a perfect parent. But when there is a small victory like that, when I can stay calm, I can remind myself that I'm doing a good job. With parenting, there is no formal assessment or annual review with a bonus; there is only the small moments day to day. 

Shattered bowl ----> whole parenting. I'll take it.

Glaring Airing: 2018 Television Shows Air Dates (Guest post by Madison Ward)

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Editor's Note: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

***

I don’t know what it is about this year--maybe it’s the particular shows I have begun watching or maybe it’s just a busy year on TV--but I have never had to wait so long for all the episodes of a season to come out. Many of the television shows I have been watching have been skipping week after week, creating a very inconsistent viewing base and driving me off a cliff. My favorites, like Lethal Weapon, Supernatural, and The Good Doctor are prime examples. Sundays I go into the week prepared to be disappointed, not knowing if this week the next episode will be on, or if I will have to wait one or two more weeks. And these aren’t even the winter breaks! Winter breaks are one too two months and then the second half of the season is wrapped up. However,  that first half and second half of the airing season has been incredibly inconsistent on it’s own: playing an episode, and another episode, then nothing, episode, nothing, nothing, episode, episode, episode, nothing, nothing, episode.

Some people I know have even had to change the way they watch TV, just to soothe their irate attitudes towards the gaps. Many have resorted to binge watching after the ENTIRE season has aired, waiting even longer because of the hassle of figuring out the complicated schedule of the airing of their favorite shows.

My shows this year that should have taken four months have transformed into six or longer. I have some amount of patience (some might disagree), but I for sure have no patience to wait this long and other viewers agree. Television shows such as Game of Thrones, True Detective, Stranger Things, and Fargo are so intricately made that they take forever to air. Not weekly, but season by season, according to Entertainment Weekly. Because of heavily computer-animated shows and Netflix Originals, some series have taken more than a year before another release. And sometimes, on the very edge of not even being able to air, because the length of the off-season left viewers lacking enthusiasm and drive to get invested in them again.

There is a specific amount of time with movies, TV series, and books with which one must deliver some type of consumption to tide over an audience before they lose interest--just like airing too frequently can easily bore fans with lack of anticipation and suspense. If one steps too far into one of these zones, not finding a happy medium with releases, then there is limited hope that that series will stay successful, no matter how good it is.

In regard to the shows I watch, I do love them enough that I am willing to wait for them, but it is still an inconvenience and an irritation. Others don’t possess the extreme obsession I have with TV entertainment. This year has some promising TV entertainment, but the year has been dreadful in consistency and if it is not careful, will lose audiences interests exponentially.

I am not an expert, but if I were these television series creators, I would set my schedule way in advance to make sure nothing veers off course. There will be always be weird instances of political disaster or weather emergencies that may interrupt a well-laid plan, but at least we have a well-laid plan, because it doesn’t feel that way right now. These rocky releases make the shows seem messy and can affect audience’s interests, and in my opinion, networks should think about that well before and create more routine than is being represented in today’s TV.

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Join me in Buda at the 21st annual wiener dog races!

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Have you ever seen a wiener dog race? Here’s your chance! "Wonder Wieners" is the theme of Buda's annual dachshund race, and every spring, people come to watch from all over the area.

The 21st annual Buda Lions Wiener Dog Races is super-fun family event, and tickets are only $5.00 per person over 12, and FREE For kids 12 and under. The annual races, which are in their 21st year, are April 28 and 29 at Buda City Park. Festivities start at 8 a.m. and end at 6 p.m., while the wiener dog races begin at 10 a.m. All proceeds go toward the Buda Lions Club. Want to enter your very own wiener dog? The entry form can be found on the Buda Lions Club page

The money raised at this event goes right back into the community. The Buda Lions Club supports kids’ vision screening events at the local schools, donating funds towards local school scholarships, and helping out the Texas Lions Camp, which is a camping facility for children with physical disabilities. 

Also at the event, you’ll find Arts & Crafts vendors, an assortment of food vendors, kids games, a BBQ cook-off, and a bake-off. New this year is a separate mixed-breed set of races. 

Firehouse Animal Health Center is the official event vet, and they are a full-service veterinary hospital with five locations in Central Texas. They combine state-of-the-art medical care, innovative design, thoughtful communication, excellent client service and a focus on total wellness to create comfortable, stress-free experiences for people and their pets. Want to give them a try? We have a $55 coupon right here.

You’ll find the full schedule of events here. Mosey on down and park at Cabela’s, which is free, and complimentary shuttles will be provided to Buda City Park. See you there!

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Make someone's day today

 Photo by  Lina Trochez  on  Unsplash

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

I wrote a note to the boss of a member of my son's school staff today to report her... for being awesome. Try it! You'll make someone's day.

"I'm sure you already know this, but I wanted to commend Amanda for being such a wonderful representative of the community in the front office. My mother was a school secretary for an elementary school for 25 years, and I was always in awe of how she knew every kid and teacher and greeted each person with a smile. Seeing Amanda every time I come to the office reminds me of my mom, and it makes me feel good. She has a stellar attitude and energy about her, and I feel lucky to volunteer in the office under her supervision."

 

Talking through the Dinosaur

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This dinosaur speaks with an English accent, kind of like Mrs. Doubtfire, and Sully the monster is her sidekick. We have discovered that if we are at an impasse on a topic, my son is willing to speak to me through the dinosaur, who listens to his concerns and makes suggestions. Tonight, it was an aspect of school that was bothering him, and he and the dinosaur came up with a solution and shook on it.

Parenting requires way more creativity than I ever imagined.

Hope Binge-ing {Guest post by Madison Ward}

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Editor's Note: Madison is our entertainment guru, keeping us up to date on the latest books, TV shows, and movies. She loves to cover pop culture and I'm glad to have her voice in this capacity.

{This post written by Madison Ward, Superstar Intern}

* * * 

Because I have introduced Netflix into the equation, it is only natural that I would reflect on one of the strongest foundations grounding the business.

The Office.

A show that reflects on the pains of the everyday workplace. A show that emulates what it really means to be alive in a world where income, and sustainability, and - most of all - patience is required. A show that breeds futility and overall disbelief, but is filled with heartfelt love and reality that perfectly displays why we do what we do day in and day out and what the little things that keep us going are really worth.

The Office is a comedic, fictional documentary about workers at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Created by Greg Daniels, Ricky Gervais, and Stephen Merchant, The Office premiered on March 24, 2005 and has lived in millions of hearts ever since.

Painfully awkward and heart-wrenchingly awkward, The Office demonstrates any type of issue we may and will find ourselves in as adults working with other inconsistent adults. The first season may have one halfway covering one’s face with a throw pillow, with some occasional muting, but seeing the dynamic way the show develops and evolves each and every one of the characters, each and every season, is unquestionably remarkable.

It is a show that displays every imperfection, every possible way to screw things up. And it is a show that advocates compassion, and responsibility, and teamwork. It is a show about family that may not be connected by blood, but that is connected by duty (which the show would indubitably make a joke out of).

The Office is so popular, in fact, the internet is flooded with GIFs and memes referencing parts of the show, which I may even call most humorous television show I have ever seen and may ever see. I have a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words“Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica”, at which my English teacher laughed and was impressed people my age are watching it--even now that it has been over for five years. The Office is an example for generations and generations to come. It will never grow old, because it’s struggles are so relate-able--so human--that I venture to guess there will always be an audience trying to escape their own similar stress.

I have watched a lot of things—especially a lot of Netflix things, new and old—but there really is nothing like The Office, and I hope there never is. I have re-watched the show, all nine seasons (really eight though, let’s be honest, the first season is painful), six times so far, and I first finished it last spring. I have almost all Dwight Schrute and Jim Halpert conversations memorized. I cry every time I watch the finale.

It may seem trivial, it may seem aggravating, and some people just may not be into that sort of thing. But this is one of the things you at least have to try, because I promise you… It is worth it.

The Office is about people, about relationships, about just some random, ordinary paper company. But it is more than that. Because it is about overcoming and about renewing, about finding what makes you happy--even working at some random, ordinary paper company.

This television show is about hopelessness. And it is about hope.

In summary: just in case you’re not already, get started on your hope binge-ing!

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It's Iris Awards Season, and it's Time to Nominate Your Favorites!

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Last year, I watched several of my friends take the stage the Mom 2.0 Summit to accept awards for the great work they have done, including Amiyrah Martin, Wendi Aarons, Jennifer Borget, and Amanda Magee. It means so much to know that your creativity is appreciated and applauded, and I was so proud of them. 

If you are a part of the Mom 2.0 community, you can vote for this year's Iris Awards. If you're NOT, you can still nominate for the Iris Awards people's choice! All nominations are due by this FRIDAY, MARCH 16. 

NOMINATE FOR AN IRIS AWARD HERE (open to Mom 2.0 community members)

NOMINATE FOR A PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD HERE (open to anyone)

If you like my work, here is a sampling of things I published this year; I would love to have your support with a nomination, if you're inclined. 

Washington Post: Teaching Kids About Healthy Relationships

TODAY Parents: How to Be the Worst Mother-in-Law Ever

TODAY Parents: The Things Mama Didn't Say

TODAY Parents: Dads Can Too, if We Let Them

TODAY Parents: Don't Be Afraid to Leap and Get Your Hair Wet

Today's Parent: My Son Idolizes Football Players, So We Had a Tough Talk

 

Life After Domestic Abuse: I Want My Son to Know that People Can Thrive After Hard Times

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Sometimes, those voices get stuck in my head that tell me I am not beautiful or smart or worthy. When TODAY Parents wanted to feature me in a video, I was excited but nervous. Who am I? Will I look terrible in the video? Will people judge me? The bottom line is that I am willing to get over all of that in order to help other women know they are not alone.

Please share this message if you can. I want women to know they too can thrive.