Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why This Mom’s Bikini Picture Went Viral

For many families, spring break is just around the corner, or already happening- so if any moms are going on on a beach trip and worried about covering up, blogger and mother of three, Rachel Hollis, has a very important and inspiring message for you. 

After her recent family beach trip, Rachel shared a picture of herself sporting a bikini that inspired over 40,000 shares by other moms. Why was it so popular? Because the picture showed a beautiful, confident woman who was proud of her body and not willing to letting any insecurities get in the way of her awesome vacation. The photo empowered almost 9,500 women to comment, offering praise and support as well as sharing their own body image stories, especially post-childbirth ones.

In addition to the awesome picture, her message beneath it also offered tremendous inspiration for women afraid to flaunt their post-baby bodies. She wrote:

“I have stretch marks and I wear a bikini. I have a belly that's permanently flabby from carrying three giant babies and I wear a bikini. My belly button is saggy . . . (which is something I didn't even know was possible before!!) and I wear a bikini. I wear a bikini because I'm proud of this body and every mark on it. Those marks prove that I was blessed enough to carry my babies and that flabby tummy means I worked hard to lose what weight I could. I wear a bikini because the only man whose opinion matters knows what I went through to look this way. That same man says he's never seen anything sexier than my body, marks and all. They aren't scars ladies, they're stripes and you've earned them. Flaunt that body with pride!”

Her message is more important than ever because women feel enormous pressure to look a certain way and because of this, feel the need to cover up and hide their bodies- even on the beach! So next time you hit the beach, wear whatever you want and just focus on enjoying the sun because you look amazing just as you are.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Even Ellen DeGeneres Can't Hold Back Tears After Giving an Amazing Teacher the Surprise of Her Life

Ellen DeGeneres is known for her random acts of enormous kindness and her love for surprising others, so when she heard about a heroic teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, she just had to acknowledge her amazing deeds on the show. But of course, in Ellen fashion, she wanted it to be a complete surprise. 

Sonya Romero thought she was just a part of the audience during a recent taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, but instead, halfway through the show Ellen called her down out of the audience to give her the attention she has long deserved. To show everyone what an amazing person Sonya really is, Ellen and her team had a video prepared that had been secretly filmed at her school. The emotional segment was made up of secret footage of her being the awesome teacher that she is, as well as other teachers, colleagues, former students, and current students talking about why she is such an amazing person. 

Sonya is a kindergarten teacher at Lew Wallace Elementary in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Each morning, she asks each of her students if they need anything to eat or any clothes to wear. With a limited school budget, she often takes money from her own pockets to help her young students out. But her support and caring for her students goes beyond the walls of the classroom. When Child Protective Services intervened with two of her students, being left with no temporary home to go to, Romero stepped in and took the children into her own home. Originally they were just supposed to stay with her for a few days till the school could figure something out, but she has officially been their foster mom for over six months now. 


By the end of the emotional segment, both Romero and her son, who was seated in the audience, were in tears- even Ellen needed a tissue. Ellen then surprised the incredible woman once again by presenting her with a $10,000 donation from Target and another separate $10,000 for her school. 
Click Below To see the segment from the Ellen DeGeneres Show:




Saturday, March 21, 2015

Eileen Wacker Gives Her Take on Kids and Reading in an Article Featured on Baltimore's Child

Author, CEO of ONCEKids publishing, and mother of four, Eileen Wacker, was recently featured on Baltimore’s Child with her candid article about the subject avoided by many parents: their children’s reading skills. The busy working mom sheds light on the truth behind kids and reading; that most parents don’t find themselves with kids who love to read and just can’t wait to turn off the television and pick up a book. From a young age, it is drilled into our minds that good reading skills are vital for any success in school, so when parents find themselves with a child who is not picking up reading easily they panic- but Eileen is stepping in to say not only is that completely normal, but its okay. Nowadays, parents feel immense pressure to have their kids be excellent at everything and always one step ahead of their peers, when the reality is that for most parents that just isn’t the case. 



4 Year Old Reacts to Mom’s Seizure in a Way That Will Make Every Parent Cheer

When Calise’s pregnant mom had a seizure while her dad was at work, the 4-year-old knew exactly what to do. She immediately picked up the phone and called 911. She was able to calmly tell dispatch her age, name, address and that her very pregnant mom was “shaking and having a baby”. Not only was her mother brought to the hospital in time and taken care of, but her baby boy was delivered safe and healthy

It is amazing that the heroic little girl was able to not only know to call 911 but also could tell them in a calm voice exactly what was happening and where she lived. Calise was able to do this because her mom, an epileptic, began practicing with her when she was just 2-years-old. When she was asked about the whole experience cute little Calise said, “It was good to ride in the ambulance with mom. And she was really proud of me.” I’m sure any parent would be very proud of their brave child after such heroic actions! 

This story is the perfect example of how important it is to teach your kids exactly what to do in case of an emergency, no matter how young they are. You can never be too careful and kids are never too young to know how to be safe. Even if no one in your family have any health issues, it is still worth teaching kids the proper safety techniques because you never know what can happen or when that knowledge may come in handy. If you are not exactly sure how to start that conversation, there are great online resources that can help you sit down with your kids and create an emergency plan that works for your family. And encourage your other mom friends to create a safety plan with their kids too!

Click below to watch the full video:



Thursday, March 19, 2015

10 Lessons We Could All Learn From Kids

Parents, teachers, grandparents and other adults teach kids new lessons everyday, but there are a lot of things we could learn from kids about how to be in our own daily lives. Kids bring a lot of wonderful qualities to the table that sometimes seem to get lost along the way as we grow up. But if they were a part of us once, with some practice they can become a part of us again. There are certain aspects of our childhood that should stay a part of us forever.

 1. Remembering how to use your imagination
One of the most admirable qualities kids have are their powerful imaginations and their unlimited abilities to use them. A lot of grown-ups envy their kids’ imaginations, wishing that they hadn’t lost theirs. But in reality, adults haven’t lost their imaginations, they have just forgotten how to use them as easily as kids do.


2. How to still let yourself act ridiculous
Life gets harder as you get older, with bigger choices and more responsibilities. It can become easy to let the seriousness take charge and forget how to let loose. Kids are experts in this area, they know how to let the weird take over and goof off. The tough stuff is so much more manageable if you are able to find the humor in it. So take a lesson from the kids and let your freak flag fly once in a while.


 3. The importance of expressing how you really feel
Kids are notorious for being the most brutally honest group of people. They always speak their mind and approach a situation with honesty, even when the truth hurts. As we get older, white lies and withholding the truth can start to feel like second nature, but speaking your mind (maybe with a little more grace or compassion than some kids) can definitely get you places and show that you can stand up for yourself and do what it takes to get what you want.


4. Loving what you love without shame
Kids wear what they feel like wearing, eat breakfast food for dinner, laugh at their own jokes and don’t apologize to anyone for it. They don’t care what anyone thinks, if they like something other people’s opinions just don’t matter all that much. Life would be so much easier if adults could have that mentality all the time too.


 5. How to have unwavering confidence
If you are a parent or have ever even been around a kid, one thing stands out- kids love themselves. They laugh at their own jokes, stare at themselves in the mirror, go after what they want, and think they can do anything. We all deserve to have that kind of self esteem and confidence, but it is still possible. If we felt that confident once, we can feel it again.


 6. A good cry once in a while can do wonders
I don’t mean reverting back to the falling to your knees and pounding your firsts on the floor in public type of crying, but going to a quiet place (preferably alone, in your house) and just letting it all out every once in a while is actually really good for you- and something kids are experts at.


7. Its okay to ask for help when you need it
Its great to be an independent adult but sometimes trying to do everything on your own can be stressful and make things harder than they have to be. Asking for help when you really need it is not a sign of weakness, but actually of strength. Kids are constantly doing things for the first time and have no shame in asking people for help when they are confused.


8. Its good to still get REALLY EXCITED
Kids get excited or enthused over even the smallest things, like reading their favorite book or having pizza for dinner, and they also aren’t afraid to show how excited they are. When do we stop getting so excited over stuff? Adult life can be really cool and exciting, especially if we let ourselves get back to that place where even the smallest things can get our adrenaline going.


9. Its okay to make mistakes
Adults tend to get embarrassed or ashamed when they make a mistake- but without messing up sometimes we would never learn anything. Kids constantly make mistakes, but instead of getting upset and letting it ruin their day, they shrug it off and move forward, learning how to do it differently next time. When kids make mistakes, the adults around them comfort them and show them how to take the positives from it moving forward. We should reserve some of that patience and understanding for ourselves when we mess up.


10. You should still keep dreaming big
When kids are asked what they want to do when they grow up, they never limit themselves or think small. Just because you are an adult doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still let your imagination run wild and keep dreaming like you did when you were young. No matter how old you are, the opportunities are endless and each day welcomes new potential. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mommy Blogger Michelle Horton’s 10 Truths About Kids’ Birthday Parties

“Mom.me” blogger Michelle Horton has broken the silence by finally saying what every parent has been thinking about their kid’s birthday parties but has never said out loud. For kids, their birthdays as well as their friends’ birthdays are super exciting events that they can’t get enough of- the cake, the goody bags, the candy, the other little kids running around everywhere, it’s like kid heaven. As a parent, you feel like you’re obligated to look forward to your kid’s birthday, it’s their special day right? The day they came into the world and changed yours. But after their 1st birthday has come and gone and the parties just keep getting more complicated with more and more kids on the guest list, it can start to feel a little more stressful than exciting. Sometimes birthday parties aren’t even fun for the kids, hurt feelings can come from no-shows or missing invites, but as Michelle points out- every year parents keep going to them and keep hosting them. Despite the fact that, like Christmas madness, parents are never going to stop throwing their kids birthday parties- they are all going to keep thinking the same things. Here are Michelle Horton’s 10 Hard Truths about kids' birthday parties:


1. No parent wants to go, and no parent wants you to come.
It’s not personal. You seem perfectly lovely at school pick-up, and given a more comfortable atmosphere (somewhere without a head-splitting noise volume, and a few less hollers for “MOMMY”) maybe we could have a real conversation. But birthday parties are awkward, across the board. After huddling together with parents we barely know, making chitchat, silently pleading that our kid isn’t the one who collapses into a sugar-induced heap of tears or punches someone in the throat, we all leave grateful that it’s over, host and guests alike. Especially for the socially awkward amongst us, birthday parties are something to endure.
2. Half the guest list will RSVP the night before
When it comes to kids’ birthday parties, RSVP basically means nothing. You’re just going to have to accept it. Then parents will profusely apologize, as if they were the only one. A handful won’t respond at all, as if we won’t prepare a goodie bag and account for pizza just in case you phone in a last-minute response. At least one will cancel the day of, happens every time.

3. Prepare for siblings to come, because they will.
Don’t act surprised when a car unloads with four kids under 5, even though you only invited the one. Don’t you dare mentally count the pizza slices and goodie bags in your head; you were waiting for this moment. You’ve got this.
4. The activities you have spent so much time planning actually suck.
Musical chairs sounds fun until the first losing kid erupts into tears, elbowing kids off their seats. Scavenger hunts seem easy, until one older sibling goes on a prize-finding bender and refuses to share his winnings. If you can make it through two hours without saying, THAT’S IT, EVERYONE IN A CIRCLE AND SIT ON YOUR HANDS, then congratulations. Success.

5. Pinterest is for parents, not kids.
No kid cares about the themed food, Pinterest-inspired tablescape or décor. All of those printable tags and DIY touches? Just admit it, that’s for the camera (or maybe for other moms), not the kids. Kids want three things: sugar, loose balloons and space to run mad. Call it a day, folks. Let’s not overthink things.
6. Piñatas are the worst idea ever, stop it now.
Every time a parent emerges with a bat and the promise of candy, breaths catch in the air. Looks are exchanged around the room, silently saying, “Brace for catastrophe.” If the kids are strong enough to do some serious damage to the furniture, or to another kid’s skull, retire the piñata. The other parents thank you.
7. Goodie bags never make it out of the car.
So don’t try so hard. Kids are surprisingly easy to please.

8. All parents wish there was booze, too.
Wine would make this whole thing a lot easier, and less awkward. Sigh.

9. No one knows what to do about the gifts.
Do we open the presents in front of everyone? Do we wait? Do we avoid making eye contact with the presents?

 10. It’s never quite as bad as we anticipate.
Yes they are exhausting and awkward and, if parents are gonna be honest, way too expensive, but parents will still show up to the parties, gift in hand. They’ll still send out invitations, even if they “have to” invite the entire class. They’ll still go through the motions and get through the day, for the sake of the kids. And of course, for the birthday cake. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Most Popular Social Media Sites Parents Need to Know About

Not too long ago Facebook was the most well-known social media site, and most often the only one in use- but those days are long over. Back then it was easier for a parent to keep track of their child’s online activity, but with new apps and sites popping up every day it is getting more and more difficult for parents to know what the heck their kids are up to on their phones and computers. Even for someone who is familiar with various social media platforms and good with technology it can get pretty confusing. With all of the changes and new additions to social media, as a parent it is a waste of time to try and become an expert with all of them, however, being familiar with what is popular right now and how different apps and social media networks are used can make a huge difference in helping your child be safe and smart online. Polly Conway has done half the work for you already by creating a list of all the most popular apps and sites right now that kids and teens are using and explained what they all are- and what to watch out for

1. Kik Messenger
This is a free texting app with no message or character limits and no fees. 
What parents should know:
  • It's loaded with ads and in-app-purchases. Kik specializes in "promoted chats" -- basically, conversations between brands and users. It also offers specially designed apps (accessible only through the main app)many of which offer products for sale.
  • There's some stranger danger. An app named OinkText, linked to Kik, allows communication with strangers who share their Kik usernames to find people to chat with. There's also a Kik community blog where users can submit photos of themselves and screenshots of messages (sometimes displaying users' full names) to contests.
2. Instagram
This lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high quality and artistic.

What parents should know:
  • Teens are on the lookout for "likes." Similar to the way they use Facebook, teens may measure the "success" of their photos -- even their self-worth -- by the number of likes or comments they receive. Posting a photo or video can be problematic if teens post it to validate their popularity.
  • Public photos are the default. Photos and videos shared on Instagram are public unless privacy settings are adjusted. Hashtags and location information can make photos even more visible to communities beyond a teen's followers if his or her account is public.
  • Private messaging is now an option. Instagram Direct allows users to send "private messages" to up to 15 mutual friends. These pictures don't show up on their public feeds. Although there's nothing wrong with group chats, kids may be more likely to share inappropriate stuff with their inner circles.
3. Tumblr
This site is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: It's a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or "tumblelogs," that can be seen by anyone online (if made public). Many teens have tumblelogs for personal use: sharing photos, videos, musings, and things they find funny with their friends.

What parents should know:
  • Porn is easy to find. This online hangout is hip and creative but sometimes raunchy. Pornographic images and videos and depictions of violence, self-harm, drug use, and offensive language are easily searchable.
  • Privacy can be guarded but only through an awkward workaround. The first profile a member creates is public and viewable by anyone on the Internet. Members who desire full privacy have to create a second profile, which they're able to password-protect.
  • Posts are often copied and shared. Reblogging on Tumblr is similar to re-tweeting: A post is reblogged from one tumblelog to another. Many teens like -- and, in fact, want -- their posts reblogged. But do you really want your kids' words and photos on someone else's page?
4. Vine
 This is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. This Twitter-owned service has developed a unique community of people who post videos that are often creative, funny, and sometimes thought-provoking. Teens usually use Vine to create and share silly videos of themselves and/or their friends and families.

What parents should know:
  • It's full of inappropriate videos. In three minutes of random searching, we came across a clip full of full-frontal male nudity, a woman in a fishnet shirt with her breasts exposed, and people blowing marijuana smoke into each other's mouths.
  • There are significant privacy concerns. The videos you post, the accounts you follow, and the comments you make on videos all are public by default. But you can adjust your settings to protect your posts; only followers will see them, and you have to approve new followers.
5. Whisper
Whisper is a social "confessional" app that allows users to post whatever's on their minds, paired with an image. With all the emotions running through teens, anonymous outlets give them the freedom to share their feelings without fear of judgment.

What parents should know:
  • Whispers are often sexual in nature. Some users use the app to try to hook up with people nearby, while others post "confessions" of desire. Lots of eye-catching nearly nude pics accompany these shared secrets.
  • Content can be dark. People normally don't confess sunshine and rainbows; common Whisper topics include insecurity, depression, substance abuse, and various lies told to employers and teachers.
  • Although it's anonymous to start, it may not stay that way. The app encourages users to exchange personal information in the "Meet Up" section.
6. Secret- Speak Freely
This is a social-media app that's designed to let people voice whatever's on their minds anonymously. Similar to WhisperSecret lets people vent, confess, and share freely -- without anyone knowing who said what.

What parents should know:
  • It tries to prevent users from defaming others. When Secret first launched in Silicon Valley, its adult users started using it to smack-talk their coworkers and bosses. Secret now detects when you mention someone by name (most of the time) and sends you a warning about it.
  • It requires some private information. Despite the fact that it promises anonymity, it requires your email address and phone number.
  • Kids may encounter strong language. We came across "hell" and "f--k" almost immediately.