Protecting Our Children: The Power of 5 & The Fight Against Malnutrition

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Thank you to Amway and Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign for inspiring this conversation.

My small dude is closing in on his ninth birthday. While he still has a couple of months to go, (two if I’m being exact) I was wandering around his room the other day, contemplating the number of things that haven’t changed since he was an infant….the chair I used to rock him to sleep, the itty-bitty baseball jersey we first bought as decoration, the ‘C-O-O-P-E-R-S-T-O-W-N’ (his name is Cooper) emblazoned across his wall… and this picture that was taken of me when I was expecting him.

Danielle Maternity Cooper

The thing about this picture? Not only is it one of my favorites…. Coop has refused to let me move it. In my world, it represents so much…not only the collection of dreams I had for him then, but those I still do. At that moment, I was wrapped up in the hope that I would have a healthy baby – ten fingers, ten toes, a strong beating heart, healthy lungs and everything that goes with it. There is so much I took for granted just thinking the word ‘healthy’, not even considering that he was blessed to be coming in to a family that could ensure his food and care.

It never occurred to me as it does to so many mothers, that the age of five is such an incredible milestone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), children who do not receive the proper nutrition by the age of 5 – essentially within their first 1000 days – can suffer serious health consequences. Their bodies and brains don’t have the opportunity to develop as they should, they are stunted mentally and physically and that is a loss that cannot be recovered.

Launch of Nutrilite Little Bits Power of Five campaign. Zambia.

Why am I telling you this? Because I suspect that many of you, like me, think the idea that there are children in our big beautiful world struggling with malnutrition is heartbreaking. At yet it is happening. WHO tells us that seven million children under the age of five die of preventable causes each year….and 45% of those are related to malnutrition. And worse, what we understand to be ‘malnutrition’ is shifting as countries of all economic backgrounds – low, middle and high are facing this crisis to some degree. You see – ‘malnutrition’ as a condition can include undernutrition, overweight/obesity or a combination of these.

Amway - Nutrilite Little Bits

But here is the good news – we can do something about it because there are organizations banding together for GOOD.

So what is this GOOD? I think of it as being broken down in to bite-sized pieces that make it easy to understand – there is the Education, the Inspiration and the Action.

First, let’s talk about the Education:

Amway has sponsored the Malnutrition Mapping Project, a digital visualization of malnutrition and how it is currently effecting all countries – low, middle and high income. It was developed by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition  or GAIN to offer perspective on how proper nutrition effects the health of the people from all economies. There is data used from more than 30 different countries. The map allows you to compare and analyze everything from birth weight to anemia in children to obesity and diabetes in adults by country.

Malnutrition Mapping Project, sponsored by Amway™

This education is the first step in understanding malnutrition on a global scale – from its effects in the United States to further south in Central and South America and across the ocean in Africa.

Next, be inspired by the work that is currently being done and the help that is currently being offered every day.
Amway_Powerof5_Nutrilite

Amway™ and its Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign are already fighting childhood malnutrition. Nutrilite™ Little Bits™ are a a micronutrient supplement that are currently being distributed in a handful of countries including the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa and Zambia. Little Bits™ are designed to provide children essential vitamins and minerals, helping them not only to survive, but to flourish through their first 5 years of life.

And finally, to Action.

You knew I was going to tell you that you could help too, right?

Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign

Of course you can donate. That is the easiest thing to do. Giving $5 or $10 allows Amway™ and its Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign to continue to do the good work they are doing, to continue to fight malnutrition worldwide and allow small people to grow up to be big people, sailing past the age of five just like my Cooper has done.

But beyond that, and you can read about it on the Nutrilite™ Power of 5 website under ‘Get Involved’ – you can Participate in a Raise Your Hand event – they are hoping to break the 30,006-person Guinness World Record™ for the largest collage of handprints. April 7th is World Health Day – take the time to share the Malnutrition Mapping Project that I shared with you above so that others can understand malnutrition on a global scale.

Or you can be an Advocate. Tell someone you support the Nutrilite™ Power of 5 Campaign, you believe in their message and where they can learn more.

Thank you, as always, for being here and for believing in the power of good.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Amway. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. 

A Beautiful Mess: When Your Insides and Outsides Don’t Match

I’ve sat down to write this more than a dozen times and each one has ended with a tightness in my chest, an inability to breathe, and often tears.

It’s fear, I know. I’ve developed a fear of writing.

I’m no stranger to the tears as of late. They’ve been a regular companion for the last few months, such a frequent guest that I often don’t realize they’ve arrived until I’m questioned about them.

Life is beautiful.

Life is messy. Especially lately.

I know you wouldn’t be able to tell from spending any time with me online. I have long preferred to focus on the good, the ‘beautiful’ instead of the messy.

Delaney Mom Getting Ready

But for the past while, I have been holding myself together by a collection of chewing gum, sports shoelaces, salty tears, the listening ears of a few friends and the tiny hands that seem to know just when to reach out and grab me.

Cooper Kiss

Family Cards Game Spring Break 2015

I know you often only see the happy, the smiling, the ‘good’ side of our world ….as that is all I’ve had the strength to share. And often the hard, the messy and the painful isn’t my story to broadcast. The quagmire of pain that can keep you up at night, that arrives in the form of a late night phone call, rocking your world and making it impossible for anything to ever be the same, that can have you at first opening your computer to work and then slamming it shut with an inherent inability to function falls into the category of ‘no one’s business’ and ends up looking to the outside world a lot like this.

Mum Danielle

Or like this.

FamilyPrePAO Soccer

Because again, sadness isn’t a story I often share or one I’ve chosen to reveal….for so many reasons…. Not because I prefer an image of perfection, but rather because the sadness is hard, it is scary, because I have been, for months now, paralyzed by a deep fear of my own inadequacies and most importantly, those stories are not entirely mine to reveal.

And yet it is the most kind, innocuous comments  that appear on simple Instagram pictures with my small dude  like, ‘I just love how wonderful you seem to balance it all and generally have a positive outlook’ that finally prompted me to write this…. just to say, I don’t. I can’t. I never feel that way.

Instagram Cooper Mom

My outsides and my insides don’t always match.

They don’t match for the online world, they don’t match for people I see every day, and they don’t match for my small people. Because sometimes putting on a brave face when you’re hurting is part of being an adult. And a mother. And a friend. And a business owner.

Is that always the case? No.

Let’s face it…. you don’t want me to complain every day. You don’t want me to cry and rant every day. You don’t want to know how hard it is to get out of bed sometimes. You don’t want to know how angry and hurt I am.

Right?

Because I don’t want to be that person. If I’m being perfectly honest, I miss me. I miss the me that just WAS happy all the time, that didn’t stare out her office window wishing for a way to put the pieces back together.

I keep hoping that if I act like me, if I look like me, maybe those insides and outsides will match again more often that not.

In the mean time, know this….I truly believe it is acceptable to keep some thoughts inside and I don’t believe it makes you (or me) inauthentic. The part of me that I share is still me, it just isn’t ALL of me. And I want you to know that I bet many of you do a bit of this too – keep a portion of you held back, choose to share a certain side, recognize that someone else’s story is not your story to share.

If the shiny, the happy, the good is what you share and you bury the rest beneath the version of you that feels right, it is ok. You aren’t alone. I certainly wish I could have skipped the last few months, but I’m hoping they are making me stronger.

I believe he Beautiful Mess is doing the same for you.

I have always said that I will never share if I get into a true fight with my husband, if I am mad at my parents or my in-laws. It has been my personal policy to avoid airing my battles in this space. I want to respect privacy, allow my family to maintain dignity and keep from revealing anything that would result in embarrassment. Naturally, I respect anyone who chooses otherwise, but this ‘policy’ means that sometimes the heart-breaking and brutal will continue to be masked by one smile after another, one sporting event after another, one beautiful, messy, average completely-out-of-balance moment after another.

Thank you for being here. I am, as always, grateful for you.

5 Must-Have Easter (and Spring!) Desserts

I can’t believe it’s almost Easter.  I love this  time of year. The trees are started to bud, grass is getting green and the sun is shining and more often than not, it is WARM.  I also love the desserts that come this time of year. You know, the ones that just remind you of spring? Carrot cake, little bird nest cookies and anything with coconut. Yum! I share a lot of desserts on my blog, All Things Mamma, each day – but some of my favorites are the ones that match perfectly with your Easter Ham. Check them out! I hope you get a few ideas for your own table this year.

Top 5 Must-Have Easter Desserts

#1 on my list is always….

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

CARROT CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
These yummy and surprisingly simple cupcakes are delicious and can be made into a cakes or bars. Choose whichever option is easiest for you.

Next up is another one of my favorites – but it does take a little more time.  I think this year I’ll try this recipe as cupcakes!

Hummingbird Cake

HUMMINGBIRD CAKE
Oh my goodness….If you’ve never had this cake or tried to make it – do yourself and everyone a favor and make it happen. It is simply divine.

This is a little spin on plain carrot cake and is oh so delicious….

Zucchini Carrot Bars with Cream Cheese Frosting

ZUCCHINI CARROT BARS WITH LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
The lemon cream cheese frosting makes these simple bars light and refreshing.  So perfect for get togethers.

If you’re looking for a show stopping dessert – this is it!

Chocolate Cheesecake Cake

CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE CAKE
A layer of chocolate cheesecake sandwiched in between chocolate cake and topped with a chocolate sour cream frosting and chocolate shavings.  No more explanation needed.  TRY IT!

This has always been a family favorite for birthdays, holidays and more!

These Coconut Cream Cupcakes are delicious and so easy to make!

COCONUT CREAM CUPCAKES
Light and fluffy and sweet! These cupcakes are sure to please everyone who sits down at your table.

There you have it – 5 of my favorite Easter desserts. I hope you found something you’d like to try this year with your family!  Also, check out my All Things Easter and Spring Pinterest Board for more inspiration!

Family Game Night: Tips to Make it Memorable

It is Monday morning after a packed weekend of games – not the ‘family’ kind…though I’d like to tell you I participated – if cheering, clapping, losing my voice and standing in the cold can count as a sport. As is typical in our house, we were all in on the family front as my son and his team, the Rookies (with dad as coach) won a hard-fought, local soccer tournament.

Cooper PAO Soccer 2015 Family Game Night

Cooper PAO Soccer 2015 Family Game NightAs is always the case after a series like this, I’m desperate to spend time focused on our family at home. I love to watch my small people play. I love to watch them tackle sports they adore. But I always love a little time that is reserved just for the four of us – and time that allows me to ‘get in the game’….if you know what I mean. These traditional sports are mainly reserved for Coop, Delaney and of course Jeff as he is the coach for virtually every sport they play. I’m definitely fine with my job on the sidelines ( I don’t know the rules well enough to be on the field) but sometimes it is nice to PLAY.

So, Family Game Night it is.

How you can you make a Family Game Night both successful and memorable? Inspired by a new show premiering on the Game Show Network, I’m sharing my top five favorite tips over on SheKnows as one of their Experts.

Just for fun, I’ll tell you my first tip….

Make it Regular. Choose the one night a week your family is guaranteed to be home. For you, that could be Friday or Sunday nights. In our house, most weekends are usurped by games (clearly) and there are definitely some practices during the week. While it has taken some juggling, and we do sometimes shift the day of the week based on the season, we’ve become fairly settled on Wednesdays. Yes, I know during the school year, that can’t be a late night ,but we work around it.

For my other thoughts (and because I’d love to know what you do in your family), head on over to visit me on SheKnows. And, if you are feeling so inspired, include GSN’s new show Idiotest in your family festivities. You’d be amazed how easy it is to LOSE to your small people if you aren’t paying attention!

Game Show Newtwork - Idiotest

The show, Idiotest, is based on a popular app that requires you to be paying attention to each question, each scene and gives you points based not only on correct answers, but a quick mind. I love the opportunity to face-off against my family when something other than Monopoly money and balls and strikes are on the table. (And the new Season premieres on Wednesday, April 1 at 8/7C)

I’d love to know how your family celebrates a night like this. What is your favorite ‘game’ to play together and how often do you do it? Are there special traditions you include?

Disclosure: Thank you to SheKnows Experts and the Game Show Network for inspiring this conversation. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

Creating White Space: Tips for the Busy Mom

Raising children is an all-consuming task. Motherhood begins at sun up and barrels straight on to sun down, then right on through the night for the lucky ones. It’s overwhelming and busy, and sometimes the whole of it threatens to swallow us.

As one who is not always top notch at creating a little white space in life to just breathe, I’ve found myself making more of a conscious effort as of late to remove myself, sometimes for only a few moments, and take time to breath. It isn’t easy, and the always unwelcome companion of guilt likes to trail along more often than I care to admit, but finding those moments is important.

White space makes me a better mom.

But how do we do this, moms? How do we find the time, and take advantage of it, when there is so very much needed of us? What do we do when life is too full to step back?

It’s true, the demands are great. Between the kids who need you, the spouse who wants you, the house that begs for you, and the host of other people who are counting on you, time is spread thin. And if you’re anything like me, you can lay down at the end of the day and recount a handful of ways in which you failed someone or something.

You didn’t get a nutritious dinner on the table.

You didn’t get the baseball pants washed in time.

You couldn’t sit down with all the children who needed homework help, so someone had to figure it out on his own and he probably got half the paper wrong.

You were too exhausted to give your husband what he wanted when all the children settled.

You didn’t do this, didn’t accomplish that, dropped the ball here, and the list could go on…

What do you do when you feel like you’re falling at every turn?

Here are 3 Tips for Creating White Space When You Feel Like a Failure

1.) Start by thinking about all the things you did right

At the end of the night, when the house is finally, blissfully, quiet, think through the ways you succeeded that day. Because the truth is that when we constantly feel like we’re failing we will spin our wheels harder trying to succeed, and that leads to nothing but burn out.

2.) Set aside some time every day to be alone

I am careful when I say this, because I don’t want to encourage anyone to feel as though they should demand alone time. We don’t take these solitary moments because we feel we deserve them, but because we simply know we need them. And it doesn’t have to be long stretches of time. Getting out of bed fifteen minutes earlier to sit with your coffee before the house explodes with activity may be all it takes to charge your batteries.

3.) Be realistic with what you can really accomplish

Part of the struggle of motherhood is there because we place it directly upon ourselves to accomplish all the tasks every single day. We write out To-Do lists that are near impossible to complete, and we wonder why no one will help us, and why we feel so burned out by the time the day is finished.

Sweet moms – We don’t have to do it all. It’s okay if there’s dirt on the floor for a few days. It’s okay if your kids don’t get in the full 30 minutes of reading every single night. It’s alright if the laundry stays piled up for a little while, and if dinner isn’t organic, made from scratch, wholesome fare. It’s okay, moms.

You’re doing okay.

ExMommyblessed

At the end of the day when you lay down your head, you can rest in knowing that your children are loved. They’re seen and they’re known, and you have their backs. And you can rest assured that while you may not be excelling at every thing you do, you are pretty amazing at the most important thing.

Because a child who goes to bed loved is blessed, and the mother who pours herself out for him is the key to that blessing.

So don’t wear yourself thin, moms. Give yourself the freedom to step away every once in awhile, and breathe. Take it all in, the crazy hard whole of it, and then let it out and close your eyes, letting the peace of that white space moment cover you like a blanket.

You, dear mom, are extraordinary. Believe it.

Style: Day to Night ‘Date Night’ Outfit Ideas

I am going to assume that most of you ladies reading this are busy women. Working, raising children, cooking dinners, running errands — you know the drill. So when it comes to a fun night out, who has time to create a whole new outfit? I know I don’t. I just want to upgrade the outfit I have on. Unless, of course, there are remnants of the day left on my clothing to remind me of my day job! Thankfully, my kids are getting older and I don’t have as much of that anymore. So today I thought I would share with you three different ways to upgrade an outfit to be ready for an evening out.

Day to Night Outfit ideas

Day to night outfit ideas

Before we get started with some examples, let me share the best tips I’ve got to make an outfit fancier.

  • Heels – Hands down the best way to dress up an outfit — any outfit! — is to add a pair of sexy heels. If you’re not a heels kinda girl, wedges work too! Anything to give you height and lengthen your legs.
  • Cinch it up – When things are more streamlined you look more put together. Add a belt, a blazer, a tie anything to help create shape.
  • Jewelry – Another easy and sure-fire way to dress up an outfit is with jewelry. A statement necklace, rings, or some arm candy will spice it right up.
  • Makeup – I didn’t really touch on it here because we’re sharing outfit ideas, but think about adding some red lips or a cat eye. You’ll look fancier in no time.

Okay, let’s get started!

 Jeans & a Tee to Casual Night out

day to night outfit idea

We all love the easy jeans, tee and a pair of boots outfit. It’s comfortable, casual and still cute. But it’s not really date-night ready, if you know what I mean. So instead swap the riding boots for a pair of booties, cuff your jeans, half-tuck your shirt to show off a cute belt and add a blazer. Isn’t that simple? As you can see, the look is more pulled together and ready for a casual night out with friends.

Day to Night Leggings

day to night out ideas leggings

Everyone loves their leggings or yoga pants. It’s a known fact. But they’re not really all that fancy or date-night appropriate. An easy way to still have the comfort of the yoga pants but look more ‘dressed up’ is to swap out the leggings for a pair of jeggings! I know, it sounds so silly, but trust me on this one! The pair I’m wearing here are a lot thicker than leggings, have back pockets, and even can be cuffed so they look like real jeans! Add a cute pair of heels and a fancy necklace and you are good to go!

Dress it up

day to night outfit idea dress

Who would have thought that a dress could be casual? I didn’t either at first, but this long-sleeved sweater-dress from Zara is amazing. It’s like pajamas but cute. It can be worn for running errands during the day with a pair of sneakers and easily dressed up with a pair of booties, a cute belt and a fancy necklace and call your hubby! You are looking good lady!

I hope these gave you some ideas to upgrade your day-time outfit to date-ready in no time. I’d love to hear how you get ready for dates. Leave any date to night get ready tips in the comments.

Spring Accessories to Brighten Your Wardrobe

It’s been a snow-filled Winter for most of the country, so I am more than ready for a little Spring. Are ya with me?! Even if the weather isn’t cooperating for you yet, there are plenty of ways to infuse a little bit of Spring into your wardrobe!

My favorite Spring staple is always floral print. From shoes, to scarves, to jewelry there a multitude of options! Floral sneakers? Colorful cuffs? Yes, please.

floral print accessories for spring

 

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If floral print really isn’t your thing, then brights are a great alternative! Even if you’re still feeling the freeze, brights are the perfect way to add a little pep to your step! I mean, how could you not smile when wearing an attention-grabbing tangerine bag?!

brights for spring

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What are your favorite Spring accessories?

Tackling F-e-a-r: Lessons from a School Spelling Bee

F-E-A-R of E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-S-M-E-N-T.

It can paralyze even the most confident of us. We see an opportunity to do something great, something we know we can do, but that trepidation of being made fun of overcomes us … pushing us off the stage before we could take a step up onto it.

This is the story of a little girl overcoming her greatest fear and proving that putting oneself out there … is A-O-K.

At Assumption School, the reward for winning the 5th grade class spelling bee is the opportunity to compete… on stage… in front of the entire school…for the right to represent the student body at the Missouri-Illinois Bi-State Regional Spelling Bee. 8 Students, 2 from each 5th thru 8th grade class are competing. Winner moves on…

Rewind, 6 weeks prior to the All-School Spelling Bee. 3:40pm. Front Door opens. Delaney shuffles in… We silently wait … Delaney plops down on the couch, buries her face in her hands. My wife and I are sewing, dusting, ironing, tasks we normally accomplish on a Friday afternoon at 3:41pm. Delaney’s freckly face re-appears from her paws with one tear streaming down her left cheek. We both hug her and reassure her that it’s okay, and she can try again next year to win her class Spelling Bee…

“I won”

Is this a tear of a joy or a tear of …

“I’m scared Daddy”

F-E-A-R

“Now, I have the All-School Spelling Bee… In front of the whole school… Speak into a microphone with all of my friends, classmates, everyone watching. What if I mess up? What if I’m the first one out? What if I mis-spell my own name? Nope, not doing it. No way.”

We assure Delaney of a few things.

  1. The All-School Spelling Bee isn’t for another 6 weeks so let’s celebrate this win. Now. With Ice Cream. The great mind numb-er… brain freeze… thus allowing amnesia to set in…
  2. Her friends will support her, which they will and they did by the way. Great story if you keep reading.
  3. Trust us, Delaney, it won’t be that bad. Yah, that was a dumb thing to say… so, I back pedaled from that statement, then jammed the car in drive and off to Dairy Queen we went…

Delaney Spelling Bee Words

Now, fast-forward to Spelling Bee Eve. Delaney kneels down for bedtime prayers, “Dear Lord, don’t let me mess up. Let me get one word right. Maybe two. Oh, how about three, but please just don’t let me mess up.” Then it’s my turn to pray, “Dear Lord, thank you for Delaney. The End. I mean. Amen.” She laughs when I say “The End.” Got to keep it light, right?

Night Falls. Morning Follows. It’s Bee Big Day.

Delaney comes down to breakfast. “How did you sleep kiddo?” exclaims an energetic, overzealous, rested, proud papa. “Not a wink, Daddy. I’m so scared.” Time for Hugs and Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, They’re G-R-E-A-T. More spelling. I can’t stop. I’ve caught the bug. It was time for the pre-game speech from dear old Dad.

Delaney, listen. You’re already a winner. You won your class spelling bee. Anything that happens today is just a bonus, like extra credit on a test. There will be one All-School winner and 7 Class winners. No losers. It’s true. All 8 of you have won already. But, there has to be an All-School winner, so why not you? 500 students started this competition. It’s down to the Elite 8. After today, 1 will stand, and my money is on you. I’m serious. You’re going to win this darn thing. Do you believe me (she nods in disagreement)? Will you believe me after you win (another nod in disagreement)? Alrighty then, after today, there will be another winner. Me. I’m ready. Let’s Fly like a butterfly and Sting like a …

“Bee-Have Students of Assumption,” bellows a voice over the Gymnasium loud speaker. “Today, we’ve all gathered together for the 2015 Assumption All-School Spelling Bee. Please give a round of applause for your 8 Finalists now sitting on the stage! (Crowd Cheers). The winner of today’s competition will advance to the Bi-State Regional Bee with that winner flying to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Let the Spelling Bee-gin (moderator laughs at her own pun). Sheesh, puns, lowest form of humor. Not punny.

Delaney Spelling Bee School Champion

Round 1 – All answer correctly. I sigh in relief. “Today”… Her first word. It starts slow.

Round 2 – All 8. U-N-S-C-A-T-H-E-D. Delaney’s voice is unwavering, she stares straight ahead and is as calm as an F-15 Fighter Pilot. Ice cold. No mistakes. That’s the way she spells.

Round 3 – The Lord has answered. Delaney is thru 3 as are the other 7 geniuses. Her third word was “Knead” in case you were curious.

Round 4 – Whoops, We lose 1. I feel for that young girl. Even more for her parents.

Round 5 – Double Whoops, 2 more are out. 5 remain after 5. One of those is Mini-D aka Delaney aka My Pick to Click. Her word “parlor.“

Rounds 6-8 – Clean for the Fab 5. I’m, surprisingly calm, she’s still hanging in there. She’s won her grade. She’s proven she belongs. I begin to relax. A little.   Meaning, my right foot has stopped tapping 55mph.

Round 9 – Another falters… Final Four. One of which is the youngest kid on stage, guess who?

Round 10 – Down to Three after this round…

Quick Note: I was satisfied after Round 3, really happy when she wasn’t the first eliminated, elated when it was Delaney and two of the older kids, but then the amazing happened. Round 11…

Round 11 – A former champion falters, staggers, seems to recover but then errs and bows out after 10 correct words. The crowd graciously applauds her strong effort.

Delaney Spelling Bee Cheering Section - Lauren

And, then there were two… , a former champion, super smart, center stage confident 8th grader versus the little girl stage left whose eyes remain fixated on the moderator. She won’t blink. Then, the students begin an impromptu chant of “Delaney!… Stomp… Delaney!… Stomp… Delaney!” Her 5th grade class, the 6th grade class, the gym is pulling for the underdog. The 7th graders join the chant mob. I, actually, feel bad for the 8th grader now. My eyes are welling. Delaney versus the Champ for the right to represent her school at Regionals. And, more importantly, for me to be correct. I mean, more importantly, for her to realize that there has to be a winner, so why not her. A life lesson happening before my watery eyes… My wife is squeezing my hand so tight that I have permanent blood flow issues in my left hand now. Possible exaggeration.

Round 12 – Both answer correctly

Round 13 – Same Result. I’m exhausted. I can’t see because my hand hurts so badly. The pain is rushing to my head. I’m about to faint. I’m hanging on… I need some water. I can’t see. Everything is foggy… Cut me Mick, Cut me… then I hear it.

Round 14 – To the Champ… the word is Ultimatum. He spells “U-L-T-I-M-A-T-E-M.” Ugh. The Champ is down. But, the kid challenger must answer her last word correctly or the Champ gets up to fight again. “Stalwart… S-T-A-L-W-A-R-T”

Then a pause…

“STALWART!” whispers MY DAUGHTER into the microphone.

The Moderator… states … for the record… CORRECT!!!

… and bedlam ensues in the Assumption Gymnasium. The Delaney Chants echo throughout the school. The smallest, youngest, quietest kid on the stage is the new Champ. She’s so shy. She wants to hide. As soon as the moderator dismisses the student body, I rush to the stage, pick her up and she screams at me to put her down. F-E-A-R of E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-S-M-E-N-T. Even moments after her big win. I whisper her in ear… “I’m so proud of you. You did it. Oh, and by the way, I was right, you won!”

She stopped asking me to put her down, hugged me and whispered back, I love you Daddy.

I won too.

Sincerely,

A Daddy

Beauty Routine Favorite: How to Shave with the Gillette® Venus Swirl™

I shave my legs every day.

Yes. Every. Single. Day.

It doesn’t matter if it is Winter or Summer…this is just, quite simply, one of those little beauty routine ‘musts’ for me. After nearly 30 years of shaving, I guess you could say it is a habit, or a ritual that makes me feel a little more like me, but either way, it is not something I want to spend hours doing (now you know why I DON’T wash my hair every day). I just don’t have the time.

How to Shave: Gillette Venus Swirl

I can still remember begging my mom to first LET me shave, and then, of course, needing her to teach me how. I promptly put a lovely gash right down my right shin. I wore a bandaid for weeks as it healed. Fortunately, my technique has improved, but so has the technology that makes shaving both easier and more efficient. I was recently introduced to the Gillette® Venus Swirl™ and honestly now spend less time shaving (yes, still every day) and I don’t miss all of those crazy little blond hairs that like to gather and hide around my knees and ankles. (You know the ones that you don’t see until you are out in the sun on the beach or at the pool?)

I made a video to show you all of the reasons the Gillette® Venus Swirl™ and its new technology stand out for me.

As a quick recap, the Venus Swirl™ is the first razor of any kind (for men or women) to have the Flexiball™ technology.

How to Shave: Gillette Venus SwirlThat silver ball right in the middle of the handle allows the blades to swivel from side-to-side instead of just up and down. It is this, plus the Microfine comb and 5 blades that contour to your leg that make shaving so quick and easy.

How to Shave: Gillette Venus Swirl

How to Shave: Gillette Venus Swirl

No surprise, I’m hooked. And….I if you are a mother of a small girl (mine is 10) it is good to know the teaching process will be MUCH easier than it was for my mom.

If you are looking for a new razor, or even want to try something new for a better, happier shave, the Gillette® Venus Swirl™ is available at Walmart.

How to Shave: Gillette Venus Swirl

If you try it, I’d love to know what you think.

Disclosure: I was happy to have partnered with both SheSpeaks and Gillette® Venus Swirl™ for this post. As always, all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone.

 

5 Full-Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

Hi everyone.  It’s Kasey from All Things Mamma.  I’m back to share a few delicious recipes with you this month. Enjoy! 

Being a busy mom, I love taking short cuts to make my life easier.  Whether it’s running several errands at one time when I’m out or combining several household tasks to complete at once. If it makes sense to make things easier, I’m all about it. Another way I like to make things a little easier is by using my Slow Cooker for meals. I love that I can put a series of ingredients in the Slow Cooker in the morning and by dinner time, it’s a full meal and ready to go. It is so convenient whether you’re on the go, at home doing homework or for after work. The Slow Cooker can be your best friend. Here are  5 of my favorite Full-Flavor Slow Cooker Meals that are sure to be a hit in your family, too.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

I’m including a few of my top “healthier” slow cooker meals to help you make life easier a few evenings this week.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

One of our favorite, time saving meals is this Italian Chicken Sandwich.  Easy to put together and full of flavor. It is sure to become a family favorite in your home as well.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

I love soup – especially this time of year.  This Vegetable Beef Barley Soup looks amazing….and it’s good for you.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

Honey Garlic Rosemary Chicken.  YUM!  This recipe is sure to be one that is full of flavor.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

Tacos are always a hit with adults and kids alike.  This Slow Cooker Hawaiian Tacos are fun and are a twist on the traditional meal.

5 Full of Flavor Slow Cooker Meals

Keeping on with the Mexican theme – these Slow Cooker Enchilada Chicken Nachos are amazing….

Do you have any favorite go-to recipes?