Wednesday, January 28, 2015

NO Muffin-Top With These Jeans

So I looked in the mirror today and groaned. I've put on a few pounds and have been living in my yoga pants and leggings. Looking mighty schlumpy there, Mom!

I want to wear jeans, but every time I try on a pair, my muffin top hangs out. 


I usually get so discouraged and depressed that I leave stores without buying anything. 

So today, I ran over to Sears, determined to buy jeans – in whatever size I fit, without any self-criticism. I tried on several sizes in different brands (staying away from ones I KNOW don't fit well for me, like Gloria Vanderbilt.  If the jeans didn't fit, showed my muffin-top, or felt uncomfortable, I ditched them.  And the winner is.....drumroll please....

Lee Natural Fit Just Below The Waist Stretch

These Lee Jeans contain my muffin-top!

These are pull-on jeans, so they may qualify as Mom Jeans, but I don't care. There's no zipper to stick out and I'm not tucking anything in - my tops all cover the waistband anyway. They stretch, but don't feel like leggings or, worse, jeggings. There are back pockets, but no embellishments to draw attention to my ass-etts and they STRETCH. No ironing required.  They hold my butt in and aren't too tight. The size I wear was a little large, but that's fine. And the best part:


This is not me wearing Lee Jeans - just thought you should know.

They actually pull my tummy in a little.  And they're oh, so COMFY!

These are going to be my everyday, “not feeling frumpy,” “not ashamed of my size” pants.  I can wear them to work and to school and not feel inferior to those Size 6 moms.  They make me feel good!

It's hard, but I need to remind myself every day that my self-worth should not be based on the number on the scale or the number on a pair of jeans. No matter what size I am, I deserve to look good and feel good. These jeans accomplish both.

What are your favorite jeans?  Let me know!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't Panic If Your Pediatrician Prescribes This

A few years ago, my daughter was in the pediatrician's office with a cough that just wasn't getting better. Now, I'd never seen this doctor in the practice before; he was a little fluttery, nervous and I didn't like him. I liked him even less when he said, “I'm going to prescribe a nebulizer for your daughter."  I freaked. 


He gently explained that she needed something to help her breathe in the medicine he was gong to give her.  (He also probably branded me as a whack-a-doodle.)   After finding out that the device was covered under insurance, he handed me the nebulizer and a prescription for the medicine it would administer. 

In hindsight, the doctor gave us the most helpful device ever!

This is a nebulizer.

A nebulizer changes medication from a liquid to a mist so a patient can easily inhale it into their lungs. It's almost like a personal vaporizer that you place under the nose and inhale directly. Nebulizers are often used when a large dose of an inhaled medicine is needed. Nebulized therapy is also known as a “breathing treatment” and is common for the relief and maintenance of symptoms of asthma. For more on how to use one, click here.

This nebulizer is so cute!

The doctor gave us home or tabletop model which gets plugged into an electrical outlet and prescribed a medicine to help open her airways. Within a day or so, she was feeling much better. Since then, almost everyone in the family uses the nebulizer when they have a cold, but not necessarily with a prescribed medication.

Here's an incredible tip given to me by one of the other pediatricians in the practice:


As I said, the nebulizer is kind of like a personal vaporizer and a few salt water treatments help us get over colds faster. Now, I am not a doctor or medical person, but as a mom, I can't tell you how many times we've used this amazing device.

So if your doctor does prescribe a nebulizer, don't freak or think he/she is being an alarmist like I did. Your physician is doing you a favor! Take that device out and use it whenever someone in your family is getting sick. It's definitely the most helpful piece of medical equipment we have!

Another adorable nebulizer!


Friday, January 23, 2015

What To Bring To A Gymnastics Meet

As regular readers of this blog know, my daughter competes in gymnastics. It's been a WONDERFUL experience for her on SO many levels. She's made new friends, learned all about nutrition, it's great exercise, and has given her fantastic lessons in winning, losing, and how to handle competition in general. In fact, we're getting ready for a meet this weekend.

In looking at the various resources on the web, I noticed that no one had compiled a list of what to bring to a meet. Never fear, I am here!

There's LOTS of stuff to bring to a gymnastics meet!

Here's a list of what you might want to bring with you when your child is competing in gymnastics:

For Your Child:

Competition Leotard
Competition Warm-Ups
An extra set of clothes if your child likes to change afterwards
Elastics and/or competition scrunchie (we have one that matches the leotards)
Water bottle
Hair pins
Snacks (meets are LONG)
Anything else that helps your gymnast relax such as a stuffed animal or Ipod)

Flower are a great reward for competing in a gymnastics meet!

Hair spray (for your daughter)
Aspirin (for you – these things are nerve wracking)
Needle & thread
Safety Pins
Coaches gifts (if you give them)
Snacks for you and the rest of the family
Water for you and the rest of the family
Flowers (for the gymnast and/or her friends – sometimes I bring chocolate instead)
Your camera (fully charged)
An extra battery for your phone (because it WILL fail just when you need it)
A pencil & notebook (for jotting down notes, scores, etc.)
Extra money (because these things are EXPENSIVE)
I also carry lavender oil which helps me relax and, on one or two occasions, has helped HER relax

If you've been to these meets, you know they take many hours. You live for those few seconds when your daughter competes.

Make a copy of this checklist and use it as a guideline as you tweak it to meet your family's needs. Oh, and if I've forgotten something, please let me know.

Thanks for reading my blog!!!  Please recommend it to your friends!  

Thursday, January 22, 2015

5 EASY Tips For Talking With Your Teenage Son (Really! It's Possible!)

As Junior is progressing through his teenage years (he's now 14), I've noticed something: his vocabulary seems to be shrinking, at least as it pertains to me.

Teenage boys often do little more than grunt.

A typical conversation after school goes like this:  

Me: How was school?

Him: Fine.

Me: What'd you learn? Anything stand out? 

Him: Nothing. Nope.

Me: Did you have any club meetings? 

Him: Yes.

Me: What'd you do?

Him: Nothing.

See the pattern?

Then he goes up into his room to do his homework and Skype with his friends and I don't see him again until he wanders down, like a man lost in the wilderness, looking for food before he, once again, returns to his cave.

In an effort to break this pattern and really communicate with him, I've discovered these tips for talking with my teenage son:

  1. Time it right. Obviously, right after school is not the best time for my son. He needs to decompress. When we're driving to or from a friend's house, however, IS. He's more open to communicating, is captive, and seems eager to talk. Dinner time is prime talking time as well. We don't often eat as a family, but when he comes down to supper, I sit with him. Lastly, just before bed is the BEST time to find out what's on his mind. I've learned more in the 15 minutes before bedtime than at any other time in the day! 

  2. Ask open-ended questions. That was one of my mistakes above. What I should have done was ask questions like:
    • What was the easiest/hardest question on your test today?
    • Who's your favorite teacher and why?
    • What current events are you talking about in school? This is a great one that can lead to ALL kinds of discussions!

  1. Validate his feelings and reflect what you hear. Statements like “I hear how frustrated you are!” and “Wow! That must have been hard!” let him know that his feelings are okay. Similarly, don't try to solve his problems. Let him talk it out. Only give help when directly asked for it.

    I love the sound of my son's laughter!
  2. Don't pressure him to talk, but let him know you're open to it. Say, for example, “I see that you don't want to talk right now. If you want to later, I'm here for you.” Then, when he comes to talk to you, drop what you're doing and listen! You're showing him that you respect his wishes but are still leaving the lines of communication open.

  3. Listen more than you talk. Sometimes teens perceive that parents are lecturing, even if we're not. For example, a little while ago, my son heard the sentence “Putting your backpack away will help you find your book” as a full discourse on his messiness. Oh boy – I shouldn't have said that. But when he's sitting down to eat, I try to use active listening skills like looking him in the eye when possible, using engaging body language, etc. (learn about active listening skills here).

Remember, that the teenage years are a time of transition. 

There will be periods in which your boy is processing all that he's going through and may seem withdrawn. Let him know that he can always talk to you about anything and then, when he does, LISTEN and don't' fix or judge! 

To read my helpful notes on a presentation I attended entitled “Get Out Of My Life” - “The Road Map For The Rocky Road Of Teenage Life”, click here).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Wisdom Teeth Problems? Here's What I Learned

As much as I love it, I'm convinced popcorn is the Devil's food. I've had more dental complications (a chipped porcelain cap, pieces I couldn't get out from between my teeth, etc.) from this, my favorite snack! I try to stay away from it, but recently, on a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I caved and grabbed a sample of Amish kettle corn. 


My wisdom tooth cracked! 

It was a wisdom tooth, one that already had a large filling in it. A visit to my dentist confirmed that the tooth was unrepairable. It would have to come out. I, of course, panicked.

I'd heard HORROR stories about people getting their wisdom teeth out – how much pain and suffering was involved. 

So I did what every anal person does and researched the teeth, the procedure, and, since I had the thing extracted yesterday, want to share some of my new wisdom with you. Note: I am not a medical professional. I'm just a lay person sharing her experience and what she's learned. Here goes:

About The Teeth

These third molars have been called “teeth of wisdom” since the Seventeenth Century. Since they appear far later than other teeth (between the ages of 17 and 25) and at an age when a person is maturing into adulthood, it is “wiser” than when other teeth have come in. (Source:

According to my oral surgeon, they're actually relics from earlier times when ancient people had much larger jaws. Evolution has made our jaws much smaller and sometimes, when these molars are misaligned, they come in horizontally, may be angled toward or away from the second molars, or be angled inward or outward. This can crowd or damage the adjacent teeth, jawbone or nerves.  Ow!

About The Procedure – It's All About The Place

How simple or complicated the procedure is depends on their position and stage of development. My tooth was on the top and already erupted, so it was taken out like any other tooth. But a third molar that's underneath the gum line and embedded in the jawbone means the doctor will make an incision into the gums and then remove a portion of bone that lies over the tooth. According to, “often, for a tooth in this situation, the tooth will be extracted in small sections rather than removed in one piece to minimize the amount of bone that needs to be removed to get the tooth out.”


About My Experience

Fortunately, my fears were mostly unfounded. Again, because the molar was on top and already erupted, the doctor gave me a few shots of Novocaine. Then there was a lot of rocking of the tooth. The weirdest parts were the “cracks” I heard as the tooth came out. I made him stop once or twice because it was so unnerving. After the tooth was out (and I got it – for the Tooth Fairy, you know), the surgeon put a few stitches in. He gave me a prescription for Tylenol with codeine (which I never did get filled). I kept gauze in my mouth for the first hour after the extraction, but my mouth still tasted like blood for most of the night.

Now, 24 hours later, it's just sore. I've been drinking kefir and eating ice cream. I'm also taking Advil for the pain, but it's really not too bad. Tonight I'll begin rinsing with salt water to help with healing and later this week, I get my stitches out. 

So what did I learn from this experience?

  • Don't believe the hype. Just because others have had terrible experiences getting their wisdom teeth out, doesn't mean you will.
  • It can be survived. Having my wisdom tooth isn't something I would choose to do, but compared to other experiences (giving birth, root canals), it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated.
  • Popcorn is not worth the pain it causes.
  • Any experience where a doctor TELLS you to eat ice cream, can't be all terrible. 

Oh, and just for the record, the Tooth Fairy was good to me and left me these:

For even more about wisdom teeth, visit this great article from

Thanks for reading!

Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Tips To Extend Your Smartphone Battery Life

I'm very excited, People! After the non-battery related death of my Samsung Galaxy Note II a few weeks back, I received a replacement (you can read about my misery here). Now, in the past I did have problems with the Galaxy's battery capacity, so much so that I was carrying an extra charger on me. I mean, it's a BEAST of a phone with a large display, so if I'm using it a lot, it's not wonder that it's taking a toll on the battery. But this time, I'm determined to prolong the battery life of my beautiful device. 

I love this phone!

So are 5 tips I've learned, and what's working for me, to extend the daily charge of the battery:

Turn off location services. Okay, so most apps only want my location to “improve” my smartphone experience. But unless I'm using a Maps app, I really don't need the location on. Facebook doesn't need to know where I am.  Plus,  I'm not fond of letting people know when I'm not home (aka being “tagged”) - I mean, why not just hang a sign on your front door telling burglars you're not home?!

Periodically clear out apps. Even if you're not using an app, it can run in the background and drain battery life. I just go to “Application Manager” and turn off apps I'm sure I'm not using.

Use a very dark wallpaper. I noticed that my display was draining a LOT of power from the battery, even though I've got it pretty dim. Since my Android has an AMOLED display, each pixel on the screen drains a little power in order to light up. Using black pixels draws less power. I'm even using a dark screensaver.

Don't use a live screensaver! Yes, they're cool and I love them, but they drain battery life QUICKLY! Honestly, I just don't think they're worth it for two seconds of "oohing" and "ahhing."

Turn off wifi when driving. Smartphones are always trolling for networks. If I'm not in a place with wifi or at home, there's no reason for it to be on, draining my battery. Of course, the flip side is that when I'm in a store or at home, I need to remember to turn it back on!

These tips are DEFINITELY extending my cellphone battery!

Yep, I'm definitely getting more life out of my battery!  It's lasting longer and doesn't get as warm as it used to. Sure, I still carry a battery backup and have a charger in the car, but I'm delighted by how long an initial charge is lasting.

And in case you're wondering why I LOVE the Samsung Galaxy Note II:

  • I LOVE the stylus! Whipping the stylus from the phone brings up a note screen and I can jot down phone numbers, draw, etc. The stylus also let me take screen shots which I can save to Photos.

  • It's not that heavy and even though it's big, fits nicely in my purse (if I had to put it in a pocket, I might love the phone less).  And it's not cumbersome at all to talk on. 

  • The display is gorgeous!  Considered a phablet, it gives me the combined benefits of a phone and a tablet. 

  • The Best Faces mode on the camera which snaps 20 shots so I can choose which shot of the kids I like the best (usually it's the one where they're not blinking or squinting). 

For more on this phone, check out thislink to's review of my beloved device.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Here's A Novel Way To Re-Use Wine Corks AND Candle Wax

Having grown up poor, I try not to waste stuff.  We didn't have much money, so if I wanted something, I'd either have to go without or make it in some way.  My mantra has always been:

There's GOT to be another use for everything!!

Wine corks used to tick me off. I mean, I KNEW they were good for more than just corking wine.   I'd looked at dozens of ideas on Pinterest and even made a less-than-attractive trivet using my corks. 

But recently, when I saw all the melted wax in a candle I'd been burning, I had an EUREKA moment!

Wine corks + discarded candle wax =

I grabbed a few corks and dipped them in the melted wax. After they'd dried, I tried using them in the fireplace to start a fire.

They were easy to make, worked perfectly and helped me re-purpose two materials: melted candle wax and wine corks.


I found this nifty tutorial on how to make firestarters using dryer lint, an empty cardboard egg carton, old candle stubs, dental floss, and scissors.  While I like it and they like like cute little packages, I'm too lazy to make them.  

So I modified thes “recipe” by instead, cutting a cardboard egg carton apart, filling each compartment with dryer lint, and then pouring melted candle wax into the cups. They're not as pretty as the ones in the tutorial, but work well. 

Guess I've GOT to go drink more wine!  


Saturday, January 10, 2015

9 Fascinating Tidbits About Germs, Handwashing & Keeping Your Family Healthy

Unlike some mothers, I am not a germophobe. I mean, kids get sick. Period. And they unwittingly spread germs. Period. In all likelihood, their father brings back more germs from his commute into the big city (subways – ewwww) than the children. Still, I am not a fan of my kids being sick. Right now, both are complaining of sore throats, although I always wonder if my younger one is telling the truth. Every time I complain of a menopausal hot flash, she claims she's having one, too. 

Being sick is no fun for anyone...

I did, however, perk up when I saw some posters about germs posted in one of the classrooms at the school where I work. 

 Let me share with you some fascinating stats about germs from the website

  • Nearly 22 million school days are lost yearly due to the common cold (not the flu – COLDS).

  • Frequent handwashing and refraining from sharing items like cups, towels, and utensils with an infected person should decrease the spread of viruses to other people.
  • More than two-thirds (or 32 million) school-aged kids (ages 5 to 17 years) in the United States missed school in the past 12 months due to illness or injury.
  • Some illnesses can live on places like doorknobs for up to two hours.
  • Students don't clean their hands as often as they should or well enough. In one study, only 58% of female and 48% of male middle and high school students washed their hands after using the bathroom. Of these, only 33% of the females and 8% of the males used soap. Ewwww....
  • Adults need to clean their hands better, too. In one study, 92% SAID they always wash their hands in public bathrooms, but only 77% were seen doing so. 

And here are some more stats from the website

- Guys are doing better at washing their hands than they have in the past. 77% of men washed their hands publicly in 2010 as compared to 66% in 2007.
- But men could do better at handwashing in sporting venues. Atlanta's Turner Field stadium had the worst percentage for men in 2010 at only 65% of men doing it. That's better, however, than just 57% in 2007. Turner Field did have the best stats for women among the sporting venues with 98% of women there washing their hands.
- Women are washing their hands more and more in public restrooms with a jump from 88% in 2007 to 93% in 2010.

I think the message here is that we really should be washing our hands more than we already are as a first line of defense against getting sick.

While soap and water is always the best, most of us hang those little bottles of hand sanitizer on our kids' backpacks; honestly, I'm just not sure my wee folk are using them all the time.

So here's what I do to minimize the chances of the family getting sick:

- Have hand sanitizer front and center when people walk into the house. I keep a big bottle of it on a cabinet and as soon as the kids or hubby walk in, they go for it.
- Always have some handy in the car or in a purse. I keep it on my purse and try to have the kids use it when they get in the car,especially after my daughter gets out of gymnastics (those mats can be NASTY). Wipes are fine, but I learned the hard way that they freeze in the winter.
- If I know someone who is sick has been in my car, I'll Lysol the car after they've been in it.
- Similarly, if a person who has been sick has been in the house, I'll wipe down doorknobs, faucets, light switches, etc. with a sanitizing wipe.
- I use hand sanitizer after using my credit card in a store. Those pens you sign with are teaming with bacteria!
- If possible, I'll use my own pen in public. Pens, again, harbor germs and you never know who has sneezed into their hands and then written something.
- Remind the family to use moisturizer on their hands at night. All that handwashing and sanitizing can dry out skin. Cracks invite germs into the body. Moisturizing stops that.
- Drink plenty of water. Flushing germs and keeping the mucous membranes hydrated during the dry winter months is essential in helping those parts of the body eliminate germs that do get into the body.

I'm not afraid of germs. I'm just vigilant about them. What methods do you take to keep your family healthy? I'd love to know!

Please note that I am not a doctor, healhcare professional or anything medical-related.  I'm just a humble mom, passing on advice that works for me.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Preserving The Magic When You've Been Caught Red-Handed

Around Christmastime I wrote about what to do if your Elf-On-A-Shelf “forgets” to move around and how to cover yourself when you screw up.  

Since that time, I've had two experiences which caused my daughter to question her belief in the magical. 

Ah, the magic of childhood!

On Christmas Day, she swore that she'd seen my son's Christmas gift stored in my closet. When I asked why she had been in my closet, she claimed she'd been reading a lot of mystery books and was compelled to snoop. Yeah, right. As for the gift, my son, in an effort to help me, said it must have been another model because the one Santa got him wasn't the one he'd asked for. 

Still, Lily, on her own, concluded that Santa had “stored” Junior's gift in my closet because the sleigh just had too much to hold. I'm saving that one for future reference. 

Then, the other day when Lily lost a tooth, she found a bunch of her baby teeth in one of my drawers while she was “looking” for a hairbrush. I have no doubt she was looking for the brush, but she was also snooping amongst my things. She told her father about the teeth and asked if either him or I was the tooth fairy. He said it wasn't him and she should ask me. She never did.  That night, after Lily put her tooth under her pillow,

the fairy covered her enormous magical butt by leaving a note explaining that teeth get heavy and she's hidden them in Lily's mom's drawer because she couldn't carry them.

 She also said she'd elicited the help of another fairy to finally get them out of the drawer. Since I “didn't know” they were there in the first place, the explanation sufficed. 
The magic of the tooth fairy.

Clearly, there are three issues here: 1) Why my daughter is snooping in my things. She's curious, but this has got to stop. 2) Knowing that I have a Nancy Drew on my hands, I've got to get more creative and smarter than the 9-year old. 3) Whether Lily is too old for magical thinking. 

I've heard from many parents who believe that magical thinking is deceiving your kid. 

They think that “tradition be damned, I'm not gonna do it.” Obviously that's their choice. But in listening to Lily and her friends in the nightly carpool to gymnastics, I was intoxicated to hear how happy the Tooth Fairy and Santa make the girls. They shared stories and compared notes, especially when it came to the fairy (what she looks like, when she comes, when she leaves notes, and, most importantly, how much each child got for a tooth!). The anticipation of a visit made each child ecstatic and I relished the stories and their exquisite innocence. 

I don't remember feeling betrayed when I left that way of thinking behind, but still, I wanted to double-check and hear it from someone I knew would tell me the truth: my teen. So I asked He-Who-Doesn't-Hold-Back-Anymore how he felt when that bubble was burst. He stroked his new mustache for a second and replied:

“Mom, it's a really nice feeling believing that there are friendly, unknown beings out there. I never held it against you and, in fact, I think it's cool how much work you put into me feeling special. It's the love and intentions that count.” 

Why shouldn't there be magic in childhood?

So I will continue to help with the magic, no matter what it takes. Fortunately, when I screwed up, Lily came to her own conclusions. Why can't these beings get a little help from parents? Why should they do it on their own? Sure, they can store stuff in the house, write notes to kids, and share in the milestones of these incredible changelings. I'm going to preserve the magic for as long as I can.

As always, thank you for being here and reading this blog!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

5 Tips For Helping Your Child Accept Going To The Dentist

I've seen plenty of articles about getting your child to “love” the dentist. I hate using that word in that context. It's not like a kid is going to “love” getting a dental checkup the way they would “love” to go to Disneyworld.

It's always been my goal for my kids to “accept” going to the dentist as part of healthy living.

This hasn't been easy. I've had SO much work done on my teeth that I am petrified of all things dental. And my daughter, at 9 years old, has had 5 (count'em 5) root canals. Apparently, despite our best efforts, she just has very bad teeth. Her first memories of the dentist included being “papoosed” or, basically, encased in a straightjacket so that she wouldn't move around during the procedures. She cried, I sobbed (when she wasn't looking)  – it was a mess! 

Yet, now, amazingly enough, she doesn't mind going to the dentist. 

Why the flip-flop? While part of it is that she's maturing and understanding more, I did take some steps to help her.  Here's what I did:

This is my favorite book about teeth and going to the dentist!

  1. Leaving my emotional luggage at the door – As hard as it has been, I have had to table my fears of the dentist anytime we head to her office. I have to constantly remind myself that going is healthy and prevents further problems. A positive attitude on my part translates to a positive attitude for my child. If I'm getting nervous, I just take a moment and step out of the room. 

  2. I stay with her in the examination room – Some professionals don't like this, but after I stood my ground a few times, the staff gave in, as long as I wasn't intrusive. Every once in a while they'll give her an instruction she doesn't understand (as in today when they asked if she was “nauseous” during an extraction – I explained to her that the word meant “sick,” “dizzy.”). 

    Another warm book about dental visits and their importance.

  3. Emphasizing the positives of going to the dentist – We've gone over why it's healthy, what teeth do, and why good dental hygiene is important. I encourage her to ask any questions when we're in the doctor's office. This means she's not afraid to discuss any discomfort she's having.

  4. We've read books about going to the dentist – Some of our favorites are: The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist by Stan and Jan Berenstain, and Just Going To The Dentist by Mercer Mayer. 

  5. Not Talking Too Much About It – Just like errands, a trip to the dentist is something we need to do. Afterwards, if she's been really good and it's been a somewhat difficult session, we'll stop at the Dollar Store to get her a small stuffed animal or toy. I don't use it as a bribe or promise it beforehand. It's a spontaneous reward.

    Both kids thought this was the funniest book about going to the dentist.

She's described to her friends that going to the dentist is “relaxing” because of the big, comfy chair, the fact that they let her choose the flavor of toothpaste they use, and the goodies the staff gives her after every visit. Even today, after having two cavities filled and a tooth pulled, she's happy (well, not so much now as the Novocaine is wearing off). 

Does she “love” going? No, but Lily knows that whatever happens at the dentist is for her own good. Dental health is important. And that's a perfectly acceptable attitude.