Dear Kids: You Are Worth It


Photo credit: Synthia Therese Photography 

Dear Kids,

You are worth it.

You are worth the sleepless nights.

You are worth the sacrifices to my career. 

You were worth it when most of my hair fell out after you were born. I’m sure you’ll still be worth it when my hair falls out when you’re a teenager.

You are worth my snail-paced metabolism.

You are worth me not being able to fit into my skinny jeans. 

You are worth substituting The Real Housewives for Peppa Pig.

You are worth switching old school rap for KidzBop.

When I fantasize how rich I’d be if I didn’t have kids, I still think you’re worth it.

Photo Credit: Synthia Therese Photography 

You are worth the deflated boobs.

You are worth the diminished thigh gap.

You are worth all the time I no longer have to myself. The chipped nail polish. The old clothes. All the books sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read.

When I think all the friends I don’t get to see as often as I’d like, I remember it’s because you are my priority and that’s worth it.

You are worth me having to re-learn math so I can help you with your homework. 

You are worth it when I wake up in the middle of the night to wash your sheets when you are potty training. 

You are worth me never having privacy in the bathroom. 

You are worth it when I go broke buying your school pictures because all of them are too cute to pass up. 

You are worth it when I have to make heartbreaking choices that I know will be better for you in the long run. 

Photo Credit: Synthia Therese Photography 

You are worth it.

Love, Mom.

    Finding a Nanny, or “Internet Dating for Parents and Caregivers” Part 1 of 4: Writing Your Personal Ads


    How to find a nanny | The Champagne Supernova

    My kids have been in daycare since they were a couple months old. I never had the luxury of having a nanny for them, so I jumped at the opportunity for a guest post from my friend, Shylie Bannon, when she offered to write one.

    This is the first installment in a four part series about finding a nanny. I’m so grateful for Shylie and her insight, as well as her friendship.

    Here goes:

    When I grew up, both of my parents worked outside of the home. My mother had her own OB/GYN practice which often required her to keep “odd” hours (babies love to be born on the weekends and in the middle of the night), and so I grew up raised by my parents, with the help of some very loving, reliable caregivers. We developed close relationships with these caregivers, and to this day, we exchange holiday cards, birthday cards, and even invited them to our wedding. When I became pregnant, it seemed like a no-brainer to me that I would choose the same kind of arrangement for my son.

    I thought to myself, “This will be easy! How hard can it be to find the right, qualified caregiver for my three-month-old?”

    Famous. Last. Words.

    Finding a nanny is a very weird combination of interviewing prospective employees and going on blind internet dates.

    You have to come across as appealing to the prospective nannies, but you also have to ensure that the prospective nannies understand your “non-negotiables.” You have to figure out if you and your candidate have the right “chemistry.” You are interviewing someone who is going to spend more time in your home during waking hours than you do. Unlike internet dating, the consequences of a bad nanny matchup are more than just a potential “ghosting” and funny story to later relate at cocktail parties. You may end up in the lurch without childcare at a moment’s notice.

    When you decide you are going to search for a nanny for your kid(s), the very first step you should take is to sit down with your partner and make a list of job duties, requirements, and character traits you are looking for in a nanny. You should consider:

    How much can you afford to spend on care? Apart from paying a nanny her wages, being an employer comes with so many hidden costs. Nannies are considered “household employees” and should be paid as W-2 employees. Employers are responsible for paying employer contributions to social security taxes, Medicare taxes, and both Federal and State unemployment taxes. Are you willing to offer paid vacation? If your nanny is transporting your child, are you going to compensate her for gas/wear and tear on her vehicle?

    Hours you need care: Be realistic about this and if you are using your nanny to care for your child while you are at work, build in a bit of a cushion for unanticipated last minute tasks, late-running meetings, or bad traffic. Likewise, don’t expect your nanny to show up and you to run out the door in the morning. You should expect to have an overlap of approximately 10-15 minutes each morning and evening with your caregiver to “debrief” and exchange important information. Your caregiver must be available for these talks, and it’s best for neither party to feel harried or rushed. Keep in mind that nannies are entitled to overtime pay for all hours worked over 40. Those extra hours can add up quickly.

    Location: Is it non-negotiable for you to have the nanny provide care in your home, or are you willing to drop your child off at the nanny’s home? If you are comfortable having your child watched in another location, make sure you consider what materials/equipment you will be expected to supply, and the condition of the equipment the nanny has in her home. You should also consider safety hazards and who else might be in the home while your child is being watched. Is the nanny willing to let you do a complete walkthrough of her home with little to no advanced notice?

    Household tasks you want your caregiver to complete: Some families expect caregivers to perform household chores for the entire family, others expect their caregivers to perform tasks related only to the child in their charge. Considering what role you expect your caregiver to take will affect the type of candidate you are looking for, as well as how much you may have to pay.

    Tasks associated with caregiving: For an infant or toddler, your caregiver must be comfortable handling all tasks for a completely dependent little person. If you are looking for a nanny for an elementary or middle school aged child, will you expect the caregiver to provide homework assistance? Supervise other children during play dates? Transport to after-school lessons?

    -Other specifics you should contemplate:

    Are you comfortable with a smoker or someone who lives with a smoker?

    Are you comfortable letting the caregiver bring their own child with them to work? For that matter, are you open to a caregiver who has children of her own, and if so, do you have preferences regarding the age of the caregiver’s children?

    How much experience do you expect your caregiver to have, and are you looking for a specific type of prior experience? Daycare, teacher, in-home provider?

    Is the caregiver fluent in a language in which you are fluent? Is the caregiver comfortable communicating with others in English?

    Does the caregiver’s age matter to you? Some people prefer a mature, grandmotherly type, and others are looking for a younger, more contemporary caregiver. The physical tasks associated with your job may play a role in determining whether you have an age preference. Keep in mind that with infants and young children, caregivers will be sitting and/or laying on the floor with your child and carrying them often.

    Do you require a caregiver to have her own transportation? (Even if you do not expect the caregiver to transport your child, this may be important to ensure reliability.)

    If you have pets, ensure potential applicants are aware of what type of pet you have so if they are afraid of animals or allergic to animals, you don’t waste anyone’s time.

    After making this list, you should categorize these preferences as “Non-Negotiables,” “Preferred,” and “Desired/Fantasy” items. As we interviewed candidates, we quickly found that a number of our preferences shifted amongst these categories. We knew how much money we could afford to pay, and that was a non-negotiable for us. In order to get a qualified candidate with whom we felt comfortable, we ended up having to reduce the number of hours of care. Fortunately, our employers were willing to work with us on alternative office schedules—for example, my husband is in his office at 7 AM so he can leave earlier in the day, and I go to work a little later than I previously did, but stay later. We initially were flexible about hiring a caregiver who had her own young child (whom she did not bring to work), but after a bad experience, decided that it was “non-negotiable” that our nanny have no children younger than school-age children so that there would be no concerns she would be exclusively focused on our son when she was on the job.

    When creating your job posting, make sure you include some information about yourself and your family. After all, you have to make sure that your family is a good fit for your nanny as well. I tried to convey a sense of who we were and what was important to us as a family in our ad (our love for the Florida Gators featured front and center). Make sure you put all of your non-negotiables in the job listing, other than your rate of pay. This will save you a lot of time and energy making your way through an interview with someone who seems like the perfect candidate until you find out that she is, in fact, incredibly allergic to cats when you have two fluffy feline members of the household (this actually happened to me). I recommend putting a few of your “preferred” traits in the posting as well, but ultimately, I found that a number of applicants would just parrot my listing back to me when describing themselves because they knew that was what I wanted to hear.

    Once you’ve figured out what you’re looking for, and how to advertise it, you next have to navigate the interview process—aka, the Courtship. Will you swipe left or right?

    Shylie Bannon is a graduate of the University of Florida and lives her son and husband in Jacksonville, where she is employed as an attorney. 

      Tropical Smoothie Cafe: Your Holiday Beverage Destination


      Holiday Smoothies from Tropical Smoothie | The Champagne Supernova

      This blog post is sponsored. All opinions are my own. 

      Does anyone else feel like the holidays just snuck up on them this year?

      I feel like we were just soaking up the sun at the beach and- bam!- we are now breaking out Elf on the Shelf and writing wish lists for Santa.

      I have to affirmatively do certain things to get myself mentally prepared for the hustle and bustle of the holidays.

      Things that put me in the mood for the holidays:

      • Listening to Mariah Carey’s “Merry Christmas” album;
      • Forcing my family to watch back-to-back episodes of Home Alone and The Christmas Story;
      • Burning cinnamon-flavored candles in the house;
      • Baking gingerbread cookies; and
      • Taking walks around the neighborhood to look at the lights.

      I’ve recently added another thing to the list:

      (more…)

        I Asked God


        I asked God at Mt. Vernon | The Champagne Supernova

        I asked God if He would love me if I was skinny, fat, or had a thigh gap.

        He said yes.

        I asked God if He would love me if I spoke perfectly or a cuss word occasionally snuck out.

        He said yes.

        (more…)

          Be Prepared for Hurricanes with Clorox


          How to be prepared for hurricane season | The Champagne Supernova

          This post is sponsored by Clorox. All opinions are my own. 

          Confession: I still have major post-traumatic stress disorder from when Hurricane Irma struck Florida’s coast last year. Television footage from the recent aftermath of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas only exacerbated the PTSD.

          Regarding Irma, the days before the hurricane were awful. Being glued to the T.V. trying to figure out the storm’s projected path. Gathering hurricane supplies like fresh water, sand bags, flashlights, perishable food, gasoline containers, and making sure the generator was in good working order. Figuring out whether to stay or go.

          We decided to stay in Tampa and “rough it out” until the day before the storm was supposed to hit. At that point, the path changed with the storm’s eye heading literally for my neighborhood. My husband and I packed the car with our kids and the few worldly possessions we cared about (baby photos, birth certificates, credit cards, cash, and passports), and headed to a friend’s house in south Florida.

          (more…)

            Cheers to the Do Nothing Weekend


            Here's to wonderful weekends of not doing anything | The Champagne Supernova

            Long live the “Do Nothing Weekend.”

            This was the first weekend in a long time where there was nowhere we HAD to be and nothing we HAD to do. No scheduled birthday parties, volunteer events, kids’ sports games, or social obligations.

            The entire weekend was my oyster.

            While this type of weekend is some peoples’ Nirvanas, as someone with “ants in the pants” who thrives from being busy, the idea of it initially freaked me out.

            I don’t know how to sit still and hate not planning things.

            However, it ended up being one of the best weekends of all.

            On Friday, we got popsicles with my daughters’ buddies after school and went to the local pool with friends for an impromptu swim and dinner night. On Saturday, I slept in (until 7 am- cut me some slack), went to a circuit class, my mom came over and made lunch, and then we hit up Home Depot for plants to spruce up the front porch. That evening, we made a pretend campground in the living room and watched a cartoon from Red Box. On Sunday, we went to breakfast, ran errands, took the kids bowling, and I put together a jigsaw puzzle with my dad. (I also went to the tire store to get a screw removed from my brand new tire, but we will omit that part from my weekend utopia.) Tonight before bed, my kids and I laughed and laughed making iPhone videos of ourselves doing Pee-Wee Herman impressions. (If you know me, text me and I’ll send them to you.)

            Yes, that sounds like a lot, but everything I did was on my OWN terms. I was only at places I wanted to be, when I wanted to be there. I got to enjoy the weekend with the people I love and be in the moment. It was pretty great.

            Being parents automatically means we are going to be busy. But we also live in a world that perpetuates business where everything is go-go-go.

            “Go here.”
            “Buy these tickets.”
            “Do That.”

            It’s nearly at the point where you feel guilty for sitting around and being still.

            But here’s a secret. It’s better when you do less and slow the heck down.

            Cheers to the “Do Nothing Weekend.”

              To My Low Maintenance Friends


              Why it's best to have easy friendships without drama | The Champagne Supernova

              This week I’m having dinner with one of my best friends from college.

              She lives in Westchase and I live in South Tampa and when you’re married with a husband and a stressful career and young children and one of you is still breastfeeding, the distance between Westchase and South Tampa, while only fifteen miles or so, may as well be different continents.

              It’s okay. We understand each other is busy and going literally months without speaking isn’t personal and, to be honest, isn’t noticed. We are so excited to catch up. 

              Time goes so fast at this stage. Our free time is consumed with dance class and soccer practice and school activities and birthday parties and when we have true time to ourselves, sometimes we just want to sit in our beds and read a book without having to talk to anyone or go anywhere.  (more…)

                Back to School with FAGE Yogurt


                This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of FAGE; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed my own. 

                If you’re a busy parent like me who is knee-deep in back-to-school chaos (note: we are all busy parents), then you’re probably looking for new and fun ways to get your kids to eat healthy. While protein shakes, hardboiled eggs, and avocado toast all fit the healthy checkbox, they aren’t necessarily fun to make.

                The problem? You’re so busy with your kids’ soccer and dance schedules that you don’t have time to search the internet for new recipes, and you dang sure don’t have an hour to devote at the grocery store wandering around the aisles to find obscure ingredients you don’t already have in your fridge or pantry.

                Well, here’s the solution, everybody! 

                healthy breakfast options for kids with FAGE yogurt | The Champagne Supernova

                With the help of FAGE Total Plain Greek yogurt, I created my own yogurt bar.

                It’s healthy. It’s easy. There were no tears from me or the kids.

                My girls enjoyed eating their masterpieces nearly as much as they enjoyed making them.

                How do you create a yogurt bar? Simple. Use whatever nutritious toppings you want.

                FAGE yogurt | The Champagne Supernova

                Ingredients:

                FAGE Total  Plain Greek Yogurt (we prefer ours made with 5% milk fat, but it does offer options in 2% and 0%)
                Strawberries
                Blueberries
                Bananas
                Blackberries
                Raspberries
                Dried Cranberries
                Granola
                Peanuts
                Cinnamon Toasted Cashews
                Honey

                The process is simple: place the toppings in their own containers next to a cup of yogurt like you would do for an ice cream sundae bar and let your family choose which toppings they want.

                My husband’s favorite topping combination? He’s a peanut- granola- honey type of guy.

                My six year-old? She loves strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

                Me? My favorites are cinnamon toasted cashews, blueberries, and dried cranberries.

                My four year-old? Nothing because she’s four and picky.

                Me enjoying FAGE yogurt | The Champagne Supernova

                I realize that when shopping for groceries, the dairy aisle can seem daunting and there are tons of great yogurt options to choose from.

                What makes FAGE Total Greek yogurt stand out from the rest?

                It is all natural Greek strained yogurt made with only milk and live active yogurt cultures. It is Non-GMO Project Verified and free of glutens, additives, and preservatives. As it contains only naturally occurring milk sugar, FAGE Total yogurt contains no added sugars. Aside from tasting rich and creamy, FAGE is packed with protein and is a great source of calcium.

                FAGE Total Greek yogurt can be found at a grocery store near you.  (Click!)

                Create your own yogurt bar with FAGE | The Champagne Supernova

                Enjoy and cheers!

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