Vacation tale: Sand in my flipflop

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What would summer be without a little vacation. Mothers & More member Melissa Riske shares her own vacation story. 

Sand is still stuck to my flip flop and there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be washed and put away. Technically vacation ended a few days ago, but my mind is still thinking about the waves and the kids running to the edge of the water and back, careful to look for cool sea shells along the way.

I should be focused on the deadlines, the in-box of emails still waiting to be answered and getting the kids back to a more normal routine of eating and sleeping.  Instead I find myself flipping through photos on my phone.

But I suppose that’s the sign of good vacation– the kind that truly takes your mind off things for a while and lets you enjoy your family, good food and the chance to explore uncharted territory.

It’s hard not to romanticize a life more permanent in a beach town. Being able to walk to the edge of the sand and enjoy breezy summer days. Over and over my husband would turn to me and say, “Wouldn’t it be great to live here?” We’d walk through the beach town and fantasize about which beach house we’d want, or debate the merits of a beach house versus a beach condo. It was fun to play pretend.

It’s hard not to love it when my children who rise with the morning sun slept in until nearly 8 a.m. every morning (exhaustion + amazing blackout curtains=sleep for mom and dad).

Living outside a major metropolis, our local news seems to devote the first 10 minutes to crime, tragedy, poverty and corruption and I find myself cringing as my nearly five-year-old asks why they are talking about shooting as I fumble for the remote to change to kid-friendly PBS. In this small beach town, even with local news from a sizeable city, stories talked about boating safety, sunny weather and local farming. Life seemed to move at a slower pace and we soaked it all up.

Yes, it is a good vacation when we can unwind, soak up some sun and enjoy family dinners that don’t require my prep or clean up.

At home my children have a plethora of toys that seem to seep from their cube containers and become strewn about the house in a daily ritual. Away from home for a few days they were content to play with the several toys in a freezer bag back at the hotel room and digging in the endless sand at the beach. It’s as though they too unwind from their routines.

There are seashells to wash out. There is a suitcase still waiting to be stuffed back in the closet and suntan lines on my back. There’s still some sand in my flipflop and the beauty of the sun over the ocean playing as a scene in my mind. There’s a photo of my boys grinning as they chase the surf and the relaxed look on my hubby’s face. There is the daydream of someday and the reality of knowing we’ll be back again for more adventures.

Melissa Riske is a member of the DuPage, Ill., chapter of Mothers & More. She is a mom of  two active young boys that love the beach and a freelance writer. She and her husband are daydreaming about abandoning the suburbs for a home near a beach in North Carolina. 

Got a tale to tell, Mothers & More members are invited to share their own vacation tale or other stories with the blog, drop a note to blog@mothersandmore.org and share your stories here.

Mothers Shouldn’t Always Have To Be Strong

Diaper Drive!

Not all moms are receiving wrapped presents or are going out for a Mother’s Day celebration today. For many, it’s a normal day of being strong and trying to do the best for their children yet struggling to afford even clean diapers. Members of Mothers & More and their communities nationwide are celebrating Mother’s Day by helping other moms, and they invite you to take only a few minutes to “Make A Mother’s Day” too! With your gift you may remember or honor a special mom in your life.

Donate Diapers HERE

Motherhood is tough, and without clean diapers, it becomes exponentially tougher for moms and their children. No mother should have to struggle with depression, anxiety, sick children, an inability to send her child to child care and even job loss because she can’t afford enough clean diapers for her child. No mother should have to be that strong.

Why Do Diapers Matter?

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Mothers & More member Mara Orrico and her daughter, Sadie, donate diapers to the Porter County, IN Chapter’s Diaper Drive in Valparaiso. Photo credit: Annette Arnold, The Times

Mothers & More honors all moms as they find strength each day to take care of their families and themselves. During April and May, Mothers & More chapters in more than 26 communities across the United States are holding diaper drives to collect diapers and donations for low-income mothers who can not afford this basic necessity. As part of Mothers & More’s 15th Annual Mother’s Day Campaign, Chapters are holding special events and providing collection boxes at drop-off locations in partnership with grocery stores, schools, recreation centers, libraries and other locations.

Porter County, IN Chapter of Mothers & More is collecting diapers in 11 different locations and has collected more than 2,500 diapers, which is more than 4 times what they collected last year during the Mother’s Day Campaign.

Chapters will distribute the donations they collect to their local diaper banks or community organizations including women’s shelters, houses for pregnant and parenting women in need, organizations serving homeless and low-income children and other nonprofit organizations. Donations collected here on the Mothers & More website will be distributed to the National Diaper Bank Network which has 230+ diaper bank members operating in 46 states to raise awareness, collect donations and distribute diapers to families in need.

Oakland County Lakes Area, MI Chapter of Mothers & More has already collected more than 10,000 diapers with support from community members and local businesses including Krogers, Meijer’s, Target, Walmart and UHaul.To me, THIS is what our organization is about.  Helping each other and as many moms as we can” said Leah Halpin, member of Oakland County Chapter.

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Chester County/Main Line, PA Chapter of Mothers & More proudly displays donations they collected during their Make A Mother’s Day Diaper Drive.

Mothers & More members are passionate about helping other moms, especially since nearly one-third of mothers in the US struggle to afford enough clean diapers to keep their children clean and healthy. Federal anti-poverty programs such as food stamps (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) do not help pay for diapers, which can cost $70 or more per month per child.  This is known as #DiaperNeed, and is a direct cause of maternal depression and anxiety according to a 2013 study published in Pediatrics

What can you do to help other moms this Mother’s Day and everyday?  Make a diaper donation, support a Mothers & More diaper drive or hold your own, advocate for the removal of state taxes on diapers, advocate for other issues that affect women and mothers through organizations like MomsRising, and as Joanne Samuel Goldblum, Executive Director of the National Diaper Bank Network writes in a recent article in The Washington Post, “we can stop judging” mothers who live in poverty and whose children are hurt by bad policies. 

Join the Mothers & More Diaper Drive with hundreds of moms across the country and “Make A Mother’s Day!”

Where Can I Recycle This Thing?

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By Thea Kearney

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, I thought it would be a good time to post some useful information that I have found on how to recycle some odd items that most people don’t usually think about recycling and talk a little bit about the past, present and future of recycling.

Most cities and towns in The United States now have regular routine household recycling pickup for the local residents, mine included. However, I often find myself with other unwanted items that my town does not recycle. I feel guilty about just throwing these items out, so I started doing a little research in my local area to find out where I might be able to recycle things like old, used sneakers, or the Styrofoam™ packaging that comes in electronics boxes.

I discovered 1800recycling.com which is a very useful web site for finding out where to recycle all sorts of things. You just enter your zip code and the type of item that you want to recycle and a listing will come up with places near you that recycle those items.

At my house, with two small growing boys, we go through a lot of sneakers, and once they are worn out, the sneakers usually just go into the garbage when not suitable for donation to places like Soles4Souls and One World Running or second-hand stores like The Salvation army or Goodwill that take donations of new or useable shoes and clothing.

Thanks to the internet, it is so much easier to find places that recycle these items. At 1800recycling.com I was able to do an online search and find Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe Program. Nike’s in-store drop-off recycling program collects old sneakers/athletic shoes that are not suitable for donation to charity and turns them into new Nike products. On the web site, you can do a search and find places locally and around the world where Nike stores and outlets have recycling bins. Near me, I found a Nike Outlet store at the Jersey Gardens Mall in Elizabeth, NJ that has a collection bin. I just store a bag of old sneakers until I get a chance to visit this mall and drop them in the Nike bin when I am there. The shoes do not need to have been made by Nike. Any brand of athletic shoe is accepted. The only catch is that the shoes can’t have any metal in them, so no cleats or spikes. If you can’t find a location near you, you can also mail the sneakers to Nike for recycling at the address listed on the Reuse-a-Shoe website.

How to RECYLE (1)

During my internet search, I even found a place near me in Springfield, NJ called Foam Pack Industries. Foam Pack Industries recycles White CLEAN EPS (Expanded Polystyrene), most commonly known as Styrofoam™ — the stuff that is found in furniture, appliance and electrical packaging and identified by the recycle symbol #6. It felt great to be able to haul a big pile out of my basement and bring it to Foam Pack Industries for recycling. Foam Pack Industries even accepts food service products such as cups, meat trays and food shipping coolers as long as they have been washed thoroughly.

Conceivably, with a little time and effort and the help of a site like 1800recycling.com, anyone’s residence could become a zero waste or almost zero waste household by composting food waste, recycling paper products and plastics along with just about everything else from appliances, clothing, shoes, batteries, computers and electronics, compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs), eyeglasses, foam packing, ink/toner cartridges, sports equipment, furniture and so on. The only things either not compostable, recyclable or reusable are things like animal product waste, toxic pesticides, chemicals, motor oil, medications and the like, but many of these items can at least be disposed of properly at local hazardous waste collection sites, medicine take-back events and cleaning products can be donated to others in need.

Reduce, reuse and recycle have become common words now, but the concepts they represent have been in existence since the dawn of mankind and are part of the natural cycle of things. Humans have always found ways to be resourceful even back when we were hunters and gatherers. Humans found ways to use every part of an animal from the skin used for clothing, meat for food and bones as weapons, tools and jewelry. And more recently, during WWII, my grandparents and parents had to save string, newspapers and tin cans for the war effort. Somehow along the way, we have forgotten this. There are many reasons — the industrial revolution, mass production and concepts like planned obsolescence are some of the main culprits.  Planned obsolescence is a business strategy in which the obsolescence (the process of becoming obsolete—that is, unfashionable or no longer usable) of a product is planned and built into it from its conception. This is done so that in the future, the consumer feels a need to purchase new products and services that the manufacturer brings out as replacements for the old ones.[1]

 I learned about planned obsolescence from watching a ground-breaking animated video called “The Story of Stuff” made back in 2007. The concept of planned obsolescence and its relationship to current economic structures is explained in far better terms than I could ever give at The Story of Stuff Project’s web site which I highly recommend visiting.

Now a new concept is becoming popular which is upcycling. A quick online search will lead you to many inspirational sites that show creative DIY crafting types how to make new stuff out of old stuff. Or in more formal terms from Wikipedia: “Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or for better environmental value.”

I was actually “upcycling” long before I knew the term when I started making shadowboxes in my teens by saving various found objects, trinckets, and other sundry “junk” that would have ended up in the landfill. I collected empty, used cigar boxes and created pieces of art, many of which are still hanging on my walls today. There is also a collection of wine corks in my basement that I have been saving since the 80’s to make some sort of craft. To my amazement I found that corks are now being recycled in many locations, and I have come across old wine cork trivets and bulletin boards made from recycled corks. I even still have old gum wrappers that I saved to make paper chains and belts out of.

These and so many other upcycling projects are now being done by crafty people, artists and designers all over the world. If upcycling and reusing are just not your thing, you can still become a zero waste household by composting and using resources like 1800recycling.com where you can find places to recycle just about anything. By working with your neighbors and collecting things like Styrofoam™ packaging and then recycling in bulk, you can take recycling even further to encourage your local community to join in.

I think the old saying “haste makes waste” really applies here and brings up a related topic that I will probably write more about in the future. Traveling, being rushed for time, fatigue and distraction all make it more likely that I will get lazy and just throw something away instead of taking the time to think about how I can reuse it or upcycle it. Today everyone is busier than ever and not necessarily happier or healthier for it. Slowing down to take the time to be more conscious of our habits and choices extends to every area of life — slow food instead of fast food and savoring experiences more than acquiring more stuff. By slowing down to enjoy life we can take the time to repurpose or think twice before buying something new. Compost takes some time and effort vs. just throwing things away, but there is no away, only here, which is where my children will hopefully live and thrive long after I am gone.

Even with the terrible amount of waste that humans are still producing, I feel that there is hope for the future as we gradually, but steadily wake up to and respond to the new green economy that is developing all around us. If we all try our best to reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle we can have a big impact on helping the environment!

Hmm, maybe I can get my kids to help me finish those paper gum wrapper chains while we enjoy using the lighting provided by the solar panels on our roof…

1. March 23, 2009, The Economist http://www.economist.com/node/13354332, “Idea: Planned obsolescence”. The Economist. March 25, 2009.

  

Mothers & More member Thea Kearney is the mother of two sons, ages 6 and 9. She lives with her husband in New Jersey, but grew up in New York City. She is a visual artist, face-painter, blogger, singer-songwriter and guitarist. She has a blog called “The All Purpose Life Blog” that can be found at www.allpurposelife.com.  

Reaching Out to Moms Through Resales and Swaps

Oswego Resale

Have you ever experienced the thrill of finding a super cute outfit or perfect toy at just the right price? Or have you enjoyed the extra closet space by letting go of items you no longer need? Mothers & More members have experienced the value of swaps and community resale events for years.  It’s a win for everyone: giving extra life to gently used children and maternity items, helping families save and earn money, raising money for chapters, being involved in the community and giving moms an opportunity to learn about how they can connect with local moms.

For the Oswego Area, Illinois Chapter of Mothers & More, the Spring and Fall resale events are its most successful way of introducing moms to the benefits of joining its incredible community of mothers. Kimberly Allgaeuer, Chapter Leader and Resale Committee Member for Oswego knows this first-hand. Kimberly said. “I joined the Oswego Chapter after attending the resale and was able to make a lot of mom friends since most of my friends at the time didn’t have kids.” For Kimberly, the camaraderie is important. “We’re all trying to raise these little humans to be good people.  I like talking with and relating to other moms.”

# 1 (1)Kimberly didn’t know about the resale when her daughter was born, so she was thrilled to save money on her son’s clothes. Now she joins a committee of 10-12 members and numerous volunteers who organize two sales per year. Even though there are other sales in the community, there is plenty of interest in the Oswego sale, which is unique because it allows items that were tagged for other sales as long as the tags have key information.

Each resale is set up a little differently, but most give sellers a percentage of what is sold. Dupage County, Illinois, chapter uses the proceeds of their resale to subsidizes events for members throughout the year, including the holiday party, Mother’s Day celebration, various gatherings and playgroups. Oswego shares the proceeds from the one dollar entrance fee with the school that provides the space for the sale.

By offering incentives such as tickets to a pre-sale and higher selling percentages for members, committee members, volunteers and sellers, resales are able to have good participation. Oswego for example has approximately 54-50 sellers in the Spring and 65-70 in the Fall, with as many as 400-500 shoppers attending each event! Volunteers help with planning, promoting, checking the items to be sold, sorting items before and after the sale, managing payments and so much more.

Resales are extremely popular with mothers, because as Kimberly noted, “everyone is looking for the best deal possible.” Big ticket items such as strollers and high chairs fly out the door, and everybody enjoys the selection of clothing items.

Like any event, promotion is key, especially through Facebook. “We have a Facebook page that’s only about the resale with contests and opportunities to like and share posts, get jump-the-line passes, pre-shop passes and more,” explained Kimberly, “but we also hand out flyers at daycares, schools, libraries and other community kid-friendly places of business.”

Resale events are one of the best ways for some of the Mothers & More chapters to reach out to other moms. As Kimberly can attest, these efforts work!

The Maplewood/South Orange, New Jersey chapter of Mothers & More has a Spring Swap for its members. This is also an excellent option for groups that want to offer their moms good deals without coordinating a full scale community resale event. Check out some of these chapter resale and swap events located in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey:

Oswego Area Chapter,  Illinois 

Dupage County Chapter, Illinois 

Metro East Chapter, Illinois 

Williamsport Area Chapter, Pennsylvania

Maplewood/South Orange Chapter, New Jersey

 

Thanks for listening

Sometimes a mom has to roar...or at does she to be heard?

“Did you turn on your listening ears” is a common phrase around my house. My husband started using it, no doubt after hearing it from his mom, a teacher by trade. These days it seems my boys seem to have their listening ears switched to off, as they are content to ignore my requests, pleas, yells and occasional screams. Every task I seem to repeat myself, over and over again.

Wash your hands. Did you wash your hands? Why don’t you wash your hands so we can eat? For the love of all that is holy go to the sink and wash those filthy hands.

And that is just for a snack break.

I used to think I had a soft voice. I hear it on video and it seems so quiet, and girl like. But then pushed to the brink of near insanity on a daily basis it seems I’ve acquired a pretty good yell. Still, they don’t listen.

Put your seat belt on. This car isn’t moving until you put on your seat belt. Did I hear that seat belt click? Put it on…NOW!

I know kids don’t listen to their parents. I get that. But I didn’t realize it started when they are so young.  I mean, I thought that was a pre-teen thing, not a preschool (and younger) phase.

Sometimes, rather than yell or repeat, I simply leave the room, wondering if they will notice the food prep ceased. Sometimes, they do come and seek. Sometimes they continue right on playing oblivious to my requests, demands.

Maybe that’s one more reason why I love Mothers & More. I love going to any event, from Mom Nights Out, to scrapbooking to the fun venting/laughing event where whoever is willing/able leaves their home, meets at a local coffee shop to chat on whatever is on her mind.  I love when I see my fellow Mothers & More friends and I get a chance to talk and be heard. I can listen. I can vent, laugh and learn too. 

When we get together, there is that bond, that understanding that exists as we share our trials, triumphs and of course the latest story of complete embarrassment. 

And I know when we sit down to snack or indulge in a coffee or hot coco, everyone has already washed their hands. Yup, and no one had to tell them either.

Melissa Riske is a member of the DuPage chapter of Mothers & More and in between raising two preschool-age boys and attempting to clean her home she is a freelance writer who sneaks in bites of chocolate when her children aren’t watching. 

Building Relationships Through Volunteering

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Krisy Golden reflects upon how her volunteer experiences have helped her to meet her closest friends including other moms, expand her professional skills and help others. A member of Delaware County Chapter of Mothers & More , Krisy volunteers both nationally and with her local chapter.

Moving to a new city can be very hard, especially when you’re a mom and you don’t have a lot (or any) family around.  Some people would lean on their friends. However, I always found it hard to make friends as an adult. I’ve finally realized that many of the relationships I’ve developed were made through my volunteer experiences.

Long ago when I moved away to college, I was lucky to meet a group of locals during move-in day that became fast friends. They were funny, smart, and a good resource to have as I learned about my new city.  (Little did I know that one of these guys would end up being my husband.)

Half way through school, I wanted to seize more opportunities in college while I still could.  I became a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha National Sorority and found some of my best friends, who are now also some of my best mommy-friends.

When I graduated, I wasn’t ready to stop being involved in AΣA. I began volunteering.  This allowed me to make even more friends with alumnae that went to different schools and were in all different phases of life.  It was not only a way to give back to the organization, but it was an opportunity for me to build on professional skills that I didn’t get at my day-job.

Still, I wanted to learn more so I could be better at my day-job as a corporate meeting planner.  I began volunteering for the local chapter of Meeting Professionals International, one of the leading hospitality professional networks. My position on the board of directors allowed me to build a network of relationships with several key industry contacts, which helps me immensely at my job.  

After I became a mom, I found that my friends were scattered all over the area and “girls night out” soon disappeared off of our calendars.  I wanted to learn more from local moms about resources in my own neighborhood.  

That is when I found Mothers & More, who had a local network of members that met at night so I could get there after work.  Though, even when I can’t get to a live, in-person meeting, the online resources still help me navigate my new life with a toddler.  

I find volunteering for all of these organizations worthwhile because I want to be a part of the system that keeps them running, so that other people can have the same opportunities.

Volunteers are what makes organizations come alive. Some membership networks are generally small, sometimes having only one or two full-time staff in place. By volunteering for Mothers & More, I’ve not only met some amazing women, but I also gained more skills that I can apply to my professional life.  

Even if you don’t think you have time, there is always an opportunity to give back to the organizations you love.  Even just an hour a month can help Mothers & More on an initiative they are trying to roll out.  Or if there is a skill you want to work on building, like writing or web development, there is a way to practice that through volunteering. To learn more about volunteering for Mothers & More, contact Andrea Babbit at andreababbit@mothersandmore.org.

Krisy GoldenKrisy Golden is a mom to one toddler boy and one cat who thinks he’s people.  Krisy works outside of the home full time, but is an aspiring blogger and business owner.   Most nights she struggles with getting her picky toddler to eat, while fending off the cat from eating her dinner.

Krisy is the owner of www.personalmarketingllc.com, a consulting firm that serves both small business and individual clients with their marketing and graphic design needs.

Coaching moms to identify and work towards their own goals

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Brenda Crawshaw, entrepreneur, Certified Professional and Whole Life Coach and member of Mothers & More for more than 17 years, shares her views on balancing the demands of motherhood while pursuing one’s own passions and goals. Brenda is the founder of With A Bird’s Eye View, a personal coaching business where she helps people to identify and achieve their goals. With A Bird’s Eye View is a Swag Bag sponsor for the Mothers & More Online Expo: Mothers’ Time Matters, January 25-31. The Expo offers moms a chance to take time for themselves and find inspiration and resources for their own personal journeys.

Click HERE for more Expo details

At one time or another, all mothers face the challenge of taking care of themselves and working towards their own goals while also taking care of their families. What are your top three suggestions for helping mothers who face this challenge?

You know how when you are on a plane and they do the emergency prep talk and say “Put your OWN oxygen mask on first!”?  That would be the number one thing I would tell moms; always make sure that you take care of yourself – something a lot of moms let go by the wayside – at LEAST as much as you take care of your family.  You cannot take care of anyone or anything if you are out of commission.

The second thing is to give yourself plenty of slack.  These little love bugs don’t come with manuals and I have yet to see a fool proof plan for the perfect marriage.  You need to love yourself as much as you love your family and you need to forgive yourself for your mistakes.  You ARE going to make them – TONS of them! – and the sooner you realize that and make up your mind to learn from them and move on without beating yourself up the happier you all will be.

Lastly, make sure you put your relationships with your significant other(s), immediate family members and/or yourself high on the priority list.  The most important thing you can model for your family are good relationships with the people who matter to you and your kids.  Show them that people can disagree and still live in harmony, that they can have completely different viewpoints and still respect one another, that families come in all varieties and it is how we honor and nourish the relationships of the people we love that really matters.

How has your experience with Mothers & More impacted your own journey as a mom and entrepreneur?

I discovered – and immediately joined! – Mothers & More Chapter 95 (woot, woot!)  right after my son was born more than seventeen years ago. The women were angels sent from God because I never would have made it through those first few years without the support and wealth of wisdom from these awesome women.  Because I have experienced first hand the diversity and scope of experiences of all these other moms I am able to bring that much more to MY mothering.  And now coaching moms of all types I am able to relate to moms with a deeper connection and far more acuity.

I am certain that I will forever be a member of Mothers & More and am awaiting the day when we start a “Grandparents Sub-Group”!

In your recent blog post Resolutions Shmesolutions! Choose Your Words to Live By and Watch Your Life Change! you talk about choosing annual words to live by. What are your own words for this year and what inspired you to choose them?

My Words To Live By this year are “What am I doing instead?”.  I chose these because I needed something that would challenge me when I was questioning my choices.  And the beauty of this phrase is that it works both ways meaning if I am procrastinating (yes, sometimes Coaches do that, too!) I can immediately redirect myself when I am unable to defend my (in)actions.  But there are times when I have “priority overload” and sometimes in the middle of something truly legitimate I will start to wonder if I should perhaps be working on something else.  This phrase allows me TO defend the challenge and then have the peace of mind and confidence that I am on track.

When considering your own Words To Live By, choose something that forces you to ask yourself a question that can help you either put or keep yourself on the path you are excited about following.  These phrases are meant to shore you up and reinforce your drive!

How can a mother (or anyone) benefit from the services of a Whole Life Coach?

My job (which I LOVE) is not to tell you what to do or how to do it.  My role is to first help you uncover what you truly want in your life, for yourself, from yourself and then to help you identify any obstacles you are facing and the resources you have and can acquire.  Together we take all that information and create a map – an itinerary – that can get you to where you want to go.  

Anyone who has a goal who would like someone to help them break down the journey to achieving that goal into manageable, doable steps and help them to be self-accountable is an ideal coachee.  And I named my business “With A Bird’s Eye View” because it’s not that I am any smarter or more experienced than anyone else; it’s merely that I have a bird’s eye view into what you are experiencing and can help identify alternatives and solutions that you might not be able to fully see from your perspective in the center of the adventure you are undertaking.

What are your favorite activities when you need to re-charge?

I love to read and while a lot of my reading is for clients I do love a good juicy novel; Daniel Silva, Edward Rutherford and John Sanford are some of my faves.  I am a magazine junkie, too and am on system 5,382 for managing all the neat ideas, recipes and tips I like to rip out of them.  I am also an avid paper crafter so I like to scrapbook and stamp and teach the occasional class which is a blast for me. And I will confess here only to this group (hah!) that I am unabashedly addicted to Pinterest so I allow myself to browse away when watching the few hours of TV a week in which I indulge.  Something about the plethora of ideas and sheer eye candy is, to me, exciting and inspiring though I will admit to more than one spectacular Pinterest Fail at home!

 

Brenda Crenshaw_400HBrenda Crawshaw is a mother of one son, almost 18 (!) and married for 26 years, facts which both occasionally shock her.  When not working with clients, writing articles and white papers and researching, she is lovingly tending her growing family of dust bunnies, trying out new culinary experiments, paper crafting and playing Rummikub. You can read her (brand new) blog and learn more about her coaching services by visiting her website at http://withabirdseyeview.com/ or her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/WithABirdsEyeViewCoaching She welcomes questions and comments at Brenda@WithABirdsEyeView.com.

 

Preparing Kids And Parents for Social Media: Meet Author Christa Melnyk Hines

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Christa Melnyk Hines, keynote speaker at the Mothers & More Expo, shares about herself and her expertise in family communication and healthy connections during motherhood. Hines is a freelance journalist, speaker, author and alum member of Mothers & More. She is co-presenting at the Mothers & More Expo on January 26th with author Jen Mann about following one’s goals and passions throughout motherhood.

On January 27th, Hines will discuss ways to prepare kids for social media based on her latest book, Happy, Healthy and Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World. (This presentation is especially for parents of four to 13-year-olds.)

You may also chat with Mann and Hines at their Twitter Party January 27th, 8pm CST where attendees may win a copy of their books. #MMExpo

Click HERE for more EXPO details

What inspired you to write Happy, Healthy and Hyperconnected?

I’m passionate about helping families build stronger communication skills. And as the mom of two technology-charmed boys, ages 7 and 9, I’m just as concerned as other parents about the many issues surrounding child-rearing in this digital age. That said, I’m also incredibly inspired by the many benefits that technology offers our kids.

Even though we are learning to parent this digital generation in a revolutionary new way, teaching old-school social skills remains critical if our kids are going to be successful in forming healthy, strong relationships. Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected is a helpful guide for any parent interested in raising their children to move confidently between online and offline interactions with ease and grace. 

Do you see any new challenges in 2015 with how youth communicate online?

The biggest challenge for all of us continues to be striking a healthy balance between our online and offline interactions. Without setting predetermined boundaries, we can easily slip into an unhealthy pattern of overusing technology to the detriment of our relationships and our health.

As parents, it’s important for us to emphasize to our kids that online interactions are an extension of their “in real life” interactions. We need to treat people online with the same respect that we would face to face–and with a firm set of boundaries. For example, a friend of a friend who you have never laid eyes on is still a stranger and while it is important to be polite, that individual should still be held at arm’s length until they become a person you know well.

I highly recommend that parents familiarize themselves with social media if they haven’t already. The more familiar you are with how it works, the more you can be a credible resource to your child when she gets online. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be the person my child comes to when faced with an online problem than him taking advice from a peer.

Popular apps will continue to change in 2015. Stay informed, be aware of what they are downloading, monitor your kids’ tech use and talk often about making good, thoughtful choices online.

 What are the benefits of online communication?

Online interactions are wonderful ways to keep up with friends and relatives and grow your social circle. Kids can Facetime or Skype with grandparents and traveling parents. They can play games remotely with their friends. They can learn through online communication by watching educational videos and playing games that help them learn new concepts and think creatively. They can learn to blog and podcast, make digital photo books and share their creations with family and friends. Many schools are beginning to integrate social media to help kids learn directly from experts in the field. For example, a classroom can connect with an expert through Skype or on Twitter and ask questions regarding a topic they are studying.  I love this because it helps kids learn to use social media in a responsible way.

 In your book Confidently Connected you write about how moms can navigate transitions, manage personal relationships and have a satisfying social life. What are some of the resources that have helped you with your own transitions in motherhood?

Mothers’ groups were instrumental in helping me feel supported and part of a community as a new mother. After my oldest son was born, I took a break from my career to stay home with him full time. With no extended family nearby and a husband who traveled frequently for work, I was completely unprepared for how isolated and lonely I would feel. I lacked confidence in my ability to mother and had more questions than answers, often feeling unsure if I was doing the right thing for my son.

After joining a mother’s group, I felt a surge in energy. My spirit responded right away to being part of a community of moms who I could relate to. As a result my confidence in myself as a new mom began to grow.  

When I moved to Kansas City, I found myself again without a network. That’s when I joined Mothers & More. I really connected with many of the moms. I loved being able to get together with other moms at group playdates and scheduling moms’ night outs. I also liked having the ability to post questions on the email “loop,” which is a Facebook page now. It was helpful for me to see that many moms shared similar concerns and worries as I did, and there was almost always someone with a smart idea, helpful tip or supportive comment.

What are your favorite hobbies or activities for when you’re not writing, blogging, speaking and volunteering?

I love to read. I started a neighborhood book club just so I could have an excuse to get together with some of my fun neighbor friends to discuss books and enjoy lively conversation! I also like to do yoga, walk my dogs, cook, watch movies, try new restaurants, travel, and veg out with my family!

What books are on your reading list for 2015?

Non-fiction:

Home for Dinner: Mixing Food, Fun and Conversation for a Happier Family and Healthier Kids by Dr. Anne Fishel and Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think and What We can Do About It by Jane Healy

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholas Carr

Fiction (this list is lengthy so I’ll just give you the highlights!)

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

 

Headshot2014 (1)To learn more about Hines and her publications, visit her website at http://www.christamelnykhines.com/. To hear her presentations at the Mothers & More Expo, January 25-31, 2015, register here.

Win a $100 Gift Card from Babies “R” Us

$100 Gift Card

Win a $100 Gift Card to Babies “R” Us, sponsor of the Mothers & More Online Expo: Mothers’ Time Matters! The Expo gives mothers a chance to re-charge with a week of online presentations, demo classes, giveaways, vendors, resources and MORE! Mothers deserve to take time for themselves. Check it out and see how the Expo can inspire you or a mom in your life!

Learn More About The Expo Here 

Enter to Win!

To win the $100 Gift Card from Babies “R” Us, complete the box below by January 25th, 11:59 PM CST: Just two steps – we said it was easy!

  1. Visit the Mothers & More Expo Registration page HEREOnce you have explored the exciting Expo offerings, return to this blog post and leave a comment telling us how the Expo could inspire you, or a mom you know, for 2015. To leave a comment, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on “Leave a Reply.” It’s OK if you don’t see the comment immediately, it will show within the day.  You don’t have to register for the Expo to enter the Babies “R” Us giveaway, but we would love it if you did!
  2. Tweet! You may tweet once per day for more chances to win. (Optional)

Enter Using the Box Below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Thank you for entering to win a $100 Babies “R” Us Gift Card! Giveaway! (5)

Mothers & More will notify the winner by email on January 26th. For chances to win other giveaways, join the Expo Twitter Party, hosted by City Moms Blog Network, January 25, 8:00-9:00pm CST, #MMExpo and register for the Mothers & More Expo: Mothers’ Time Matters, January 25-31.

While you are here, check out Mothers & More!

Mothers & More celebrates and connects mothers, offering inspiration, education, motivation and resources throughout the year. Follow us on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter and be a part of a strong community of mothers.

Give a new mom or a friend a gift that will last throughout motherhood: Give a gift membership to Mothers & More!

Give yourself a gift of friendship and connection with other moms. Join Mothers & More  for only $45 per year.

Thank you to our Expo sponsor

babies r us

Toys“R”Us® Inc. is the world’s leading dedicated toy and baby products retailer, offering a differentiated shopping experience through its family of brands. Merchandise is sold in 893 Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores in the United States and Puerto Rico, and in more than 730 international stores and over 205 licensed stores in 36 countries and jurisdictions. 

The Mom Behind The Mothers & More Expo

Honey-Dews-Logo-Full-Color

 

Honey Dews Baby Expo is a partner with the Mothers & More Online Expo: Mothers’ Time Matters. For Kristal Ronnebaum, founder of Honey Dews Baby Expo, the Online Expo is a personal passion, inspired out of love for her son. Kristal has been the leading inspiration behind the Mothers & More Online Expo, taking great care to ensure that every participating speaker and vendor offers something that pampers, celebrates, educates, motivates, and inspires mothers. Her touch is also evident in designing a “venue” that is intimate and supportive. Kristal found close friends and mentors through Mothers & More, received support that was “life altering,” and is now passionate about helping other moms to find their communities.

Interview with Kristal Ronnebaum, founder of Honey Dews Baby Expo:

What inspired you to start Honey Dews Baby Expo?

Standing in my son’s nursery and becoming a mom later in life I realized we need more support for new moms. Having a child is my greatest experience and I wanted to help other new moms learn what they need to know. There are Bridal Expos all year but no Baby Expos, and Kansas City deserved to have this. I wanted a day of pampering, education and celebration for moms. I wanted to do it, never worried about it, and seven months later held the first Honey Dews Baby Expo. It was a close and intimate event where we showcased the true gems of Kansas City to help the families in one convenient and beautiful location. The second year it doubled in size to 300 people, and this year Honey Dews partnered with Omaha’s Baby Love Essentials and renamed it Baby Love ~ Kansas City’s Only Baby Fair. It requires a lot of faith to see it grow and change as we serve more moms.

Where did the idea for the Mothers & More Online Expo come from?

In a coffeeshop! I met with Jill Gaikowski, Executive Director of Mothers & More, and we talked about having an online expo so that moms could attend at their leisure, on their schedule. We (moms) want to have it all and our time is extremely important. I was already a member of Mothers & More at that time.

How has being a member of Mothers & More impacted you?

I have always wanted to be connected with my girls. After my son was born, I realized the importance of being connected with moms who are always supportive. I surround myself with like-minded, strong, supportive people, and not judgment or criticism. There’s too much of that. I found my people there (the Johnson County Chapter of Mothers & More). The members were mentors for me and their support was life altering.

What advice do you have for other mom entrepreneurs?

Some people wait for that lightning moment… if that moment hits, follow it with every bit of soul and hard work that you have. Later on, it might look completely different than you imagined.  Just keep following in that direction, use your talents and skills and don’t worry. Don’t focus on self-doubt (we all have those voices in our heads – myself included). Focus on the positive.

There is a lot about self-care at the Expo. How do you take care of yourself?

It’s the biggest thing I preach, but I forget to take care of myself. We need to be conscious to do it. We go in so many directions and have access to so much information, I always have to remind myself. Time with girlfriends, time with family, and soon I’m taking off work on my birthday for a spa day where there will be no interruptions!

Kristal Ronnebaum lives with her husband and son and they are expecting another child this year. She is an active member of the Johnson County, KS Chapter of Mothers & More. You can learn more about Honey Dews Baby Expo by visiting http://www.honeydewsbabyexpo.com/.

Click HERE to learn more about the Mothers & More Online Expo, January 25-31, 2015