Rolling with the Punches #BetterStartsNow

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2015 has been a love/hate relationship in the last 30 days. Some really awesome things have happened and some really shi**y things have happened. And resolutions? Ha you know I don’t even TRY to create those. No one follows them and it’s a waste of time to try to create unrealistic goals you know you won’t meet. Instead of letting yourself down – stop trying to make the impossible happen and do little things that will ultimately make you feel better about yourself. 

I’ve learned you have to roll with the punches. You may think I live this fun, glamorous life up here in NYC, but just like anyone else, I experience a lot of pitfalls and problems. The thing is, I just never let it get me down. I look at them as challenges I have to accept, and to this day, I’ve always been able to find a way to make whatever happen that I want. Seriously. Life gives you lemons – stop holding them crying saying you asked for limes. Cause you’re going to get a lot of limes, and the life lesson is learning how to make YOURSELF happy with limes. 

I am getting ready to move here in NYC and if I explained the process, you’re head would spin off and explode. It costs upwards of $10,000 cash upfront and you have to find, love, and move in AND out all within 30 days. The best question someone asked me? What if you don’t find an apartment? haha – well here in NYC there IS no plan B. You find an apartment or you live on the streets. This is probably why New Yorkers are so resilient. We don’t have an option to fail here or the city will swallow you. This is how I have come to be a strong person. You have to learn to say yes and no more, but to the things you would be saying the opposite.

#BetterStartsNow

Citizens Watches just opened up a new store in Times Square, and to highlight the opening, we had a little event including ways to make yourself better – starting now. Simple little 5 minutes changes to your schedule that can make a world of different in your life. I thought this was a great idea – start thinking about the little things you can do now to make yourself happier and better instead of these huge long-term goals you will feel guilty not to keep. Work yourself up to them.

Step outside your comfort zone

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photo credit: Randi Zinn

Ok yeah you’ve heard this before – and I’m not saying go jump out of an airplane – just do something you want to do but need the help to do it. Case in point. I’ve always wanted to try spin classes, but since I don’t get to workout and often as I want, I wasn’t sure it was something I could keep up with. When Randi Zinn invited me to join her, I knew this was my chance. Being in a room full of peers gave me the push to keep going, I wasn’t going to be the one who couldn’t finish. I also loved the encouragement from the trainer, Sunny. Seriously – Soul Cycle isn’t just a workout – it’s an experience (that I am now hooked on by the way). Think of something you want to do but just keep pushing it off and get a friend to go with you and “hold your hand.” You’ll be surprised to see you can accomplish it, and will feel empowered by your new-found strength. We all need our #virtualvillage, but we also need a in-real-life village, too. 

Do it for yourself

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One of my favorites? Christian Zamora taught us some quick beauty tips to look good in 5 minutes or less. I see you rolling your eyes saying you’ll never do it – but seriously, even Molly Sims herself said it yesterday – if you force yourself to get dressed and look pretty everyday, you’ll FEEL better. Ever hear about how they tell people who work at home to just wear heels at the desk? Something simple makes you feel more pulled together. I’ve been really wanting to work on my eyebrows. 

Ask for help

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We all have a flaw in ourselves we want to fix, and Christian not only took the time to show me and help me pick out makeup that would make them look fab – he invited me in to do a makeup tutorial next week. You know why? Because I ASKED HIM. People want to help others – stop thinking you have to do it all on your own – if you have a makeup artist standing there – ask him for tips. If you have a friend standing there while you’re struggling to clean up after your toddler and make a deadline, ask her to help!

YOLO

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Yes I said it. Listen life is too short to be sitting around miserable and crying about all the things you WISH would happen. If you feel better about yourself, you’ll be more daring to make changes you were afraid to in the past. With that, I say spoil yourself a little. Heck, I really say it all the time! Now don’t go breaking the bank, and you can’t do it ALL the time, but go invest in something that is really going to make you feel better – a new pair of shoes, a classic dress, great pair of jeans or a fantastic piece of statement jewelry. I’m known for my manly, chunky watch that I wear every single day, but lately I’ve been feeling more minimal, and I wanted something that would be a classic piece when I dress up from time to time. Chunky watch doesn’t go with little black dress. So this beautiful, chic Citizen’s Sunrise watch ($350) is perfect for my evening wear. PS – did you know that no Citizen watch uses a battery? They all run on sunlight, called eco-drive. That means you never have to change a battery again!

How are you dealing with the day-to-day grind? Share your favorite quick pick-me-up tips! 

Travel with Toddlers {Giveaway}

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Traveling with toddlers (or kids of any age) is a real science. You can’t just jump in a car and hope for the best. It takes a lot of strategic planning. Since I’ve been traveling to Pittsburgh and back from New York City about every other month since Max was born, I have a lot of tips and takeaways to help make the long distance car ride much more enjoyable for everyone. 

1. Have entertainment.

Max is currently obsessed with his iPad. I try not to let him use it too much at home, but when on the road, it’s a great way to keep them busy. I also try to make sure they have something EDUCATIONAL. 

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My favorite: PlayKids. This app has it all – games, videos, “books on tape” – and they all work WITHOUT wi-fi.  The app is filled with over 200 videos, shows, stories and educational games that are constantly updated to provide full entertainment for kids up to 5 years. The most famous and loved characters of the world are here like Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat, and Heroes of the City (one of Maximo’s favorite!). You can download all your favorite videos in advance, and have them all hosted on the app so they’re ready to play even during those really remote patches of highway through the middle of no where. Available for Apple and Google.

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2. Pack light.

Traveling with kids can test your limits on packing. You’ll find yourself bringing their entire room of clothes and toys, but be realistic. You can’t fit all of that into the trunk of a car let alone a suitcase for a flight. Pick clothes that are easy to pair and match with other items so you can mix them up, and only bring a few key pieces. 

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My favorite: Cute, one-of-a-kind tees from Littlebean Threads. These simple and cute tees are versatile, and unique so your child will still look chic while traveling for hours on the road.

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3. Have a plan

Pittsburgh is about six hours from New York City. I try to leave about an hour before Max takes his nap so he’s had some time to run out his energy in the morning, before sleeping the first leg of the trip in the car. This makes the first part enjoyable as the kids get a nap, and parents get quiet time, or can listen to their own music for once. I stop half way in for a lunch break, usually at a place like Chick-Fil-A that has a great (and clean!) kid-friendly area and food options so he can again burn off some energy before the last couple hours in the car (which are usually occupied by the iPad). 

4. Prep

Always plan in advance for a hiccup. Whether it’s a weather delay in the airport, or a flat tire on the side of the road (they’ve both happened!), be prepared in advance in case of the worst. That doesn’t mean you have to overpack, just “prep.” If you’re driving in the winter, make sure you have a blanket in the car. If you’re flying, make sure you have something to entertain them in the airport. Have a change of clothes available just in case of an unexpected vomit. (this TOO has happened! – I recommend getting off an exit and using a hotel bathroom – they’re clean and usually totally understanding of the situation. Plus they’ll have an extra garbage bag to throw those smelly clothes in to block the smell until you get where ever you’re going). 

This also includes food. Traveling usually means not a lot of heathy options – if any at all! You don’t have to bring full meals, but you’re going to wish you had some simple snacks like a banana, peanut butter sandwich or crackers when the baby starts yelling, and the next exit is 20 miles away (that only has a sketchy gas station!). Also, ALWAYS have water on you – for emergencies. If someone is thirsty, if you break down, or if you have a messy accident, water will always save the day.

{Giveaway}

 Win a six-month subscription to Playkids for your next adventure (also GREAT for underground travel on the NYC subway), and your own cute new tee from Littlebean Threads!

Six month Subscription to PlayKids and custom tee from LittleBean Threads

 

Why Is It So Hard To Be A Calm Mom?

Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am what they refer to as a “laid back mom.” A mom who sits back and lets their child explore the world on their own, only intervening when serious pain or damage will be inflicted to my son, another person or thing. You may think: “Hey, I’m a laid back mom too!” Good for you, but let’s talk about why it’s not always easy being the calm mom.

Trust me, I am not a “calm” person by nature. I am loud, outspoken and occasionally kick a cab when it gets too close to my stroller. However, as a parent, I tend to let my son “be a kid.” Let me give you some examples.

Scenario #1

The other day I attended a “kid-friendly” birthday party for a mom. Since the invite stated to bring the kids along, I brought Max. It was a setup. This was not a kid-friendly home. Everything was made of glass or had sharp edges—and they were all within reach of my toddler’s hands. Surprisingly, they have two kids of their own, and all the kids (ages 4 to 10) were confined to the bedroom to play. I think you can see where this is going.

Toddlers don’t like to be confined. Toddler boys like to climb, explore and maybe toss some toys around. As long as he’s not going to send anyone to the emergency room, or costing me a month’s rent in damage, I let him do his thing. However, sometimes this isn’t okay to other parents. Especially uptight parents. Max didn’t want to play with the kids—he wanted to climb up on the couch and look out the window at the trains going by outside. Nothing wrong there, I thought, but apparently this made the host extremely nervous. Then Max got overly excited and threw a rubber toy on the floor.

It was later brought to my knowledge that the hosts were not fond of Max, and thought he was going to dent their wood floors or break something, including his neck climbing on the couch. So, why say this is a kid-friendly event? I felt like I was on that episode of Sex and the City where the hosts don’t serve brown food or drink at a house party because they don’t want to risk any spills. If you’re going to act like this, why have a party (or invite kids) in the first place?

If you had to choose between Max having a full breakdown in front of everyone because I won’t let him watch the trains, which is harmless, or making him sit in a bedroom with older kids, what would you do? Being the classy person that I am, I just calmly rounded up Max’s things and left without saying good-bye and causing a scene. But since when were kids expected to act like perfect angels under the age of two?

Scenario #2



There was once an awful scary time when I had to call 911 and an ambulance showed up. (You can read the entire story here.) I rode with Max to the hospital, holding him in the back of the ambulance and the medics told me I was the calmest mother they had ever seen. I didn’t think anything of it, and took it as a compliment that I could stay calm in an emergency situation.

Later I learned that it’s a red flag, and the natural reaction is to freak out. Being calm can mean we actually hurt our child, looking for attention like we are the hero. I swear! I even know a friend who was reported for being too calm!

As a child, I grew up on a farm far away from people and hospitals. I learned that when something serious happens, you have to be able to stay calm and react because guess what—no one is there to help you. There were no cell phones, and the closest hospital could be over 30 minutes away from your home. If you were in the field, on a tractor—well, let’s just say we hope it isn’t life threatening!

Are we teaching ourselves as parents, and thus showing our children, that it’s not okay anymore to remain calm or take a step back? To let children explore and climb? Some people scour when I tell them I have been taking Max on the New York City subway since he was two months old. How could I ever expose my child to such filth? Well, guess what, Maximo never even got sick until after he turned one. How’s that for exposure?

My point?

If you say your place is kid-friendly, make sure you aren’t going to need a Xanax because I bring my son along.

If you see my son climbing on the jungle gym on the playground, know that I am there and watching, but from a distance. He’s fine.

Realize that if some seriously bad stuff goes down, you’re going to be happy there is a calm mom like me around to help handle the situation.

This post was originally published on MommyNearest.com.