Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping On


From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping on! http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/11/working-mom-to-stay-at-home-moms

Me and Arden on my first day back to work after maternity leave in 2012. This is the working mom version of “double fisting.”

When my friend Amber of one of my favorite lifestyle and parenting blogs, Cupcakes and Coffee Grounds, approached me to collaborate with her on a post about stay at home moms and working moms, I was flattered but apprehensive.

It’s been done a million times before. Amber’s post is HERE.

The topic has been written about as much as breastfeeding versus formula, cloth versus regular diapers, organic food versus Burger King, and I didn’t know how I would meaningfully contribute to the conversation without sounding like a broken record.

Then I saw an article that really got my proverbial goat.

A couple months ago, Harvard Business School performed a study finding working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons than stay at home moms. The findings are here. I saw it plastered all over my social media news feeds and some girlfriends encouraged me to share it on my blog’s Facebook page, as I customarily post newsworthy stories on days I’m not promoting my own blog.

No freaking way.

Firstly, I don’t know the testing Harvard used to come up with its “findings,” but the study, and publicity of the outcome, resulted in polarizing working moms and stay at home moms.

Aren’t we all in this together?

Truth be told, if one of my stay at home mom friends shared a story about how stay at home moms had more successful children than working moms, I’d think she was a jerk.

You know what, Harvard? You can trash your silly findings.

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Whether a mother works outside the home or doesn’t will not, by itself, give a child an “edge” on success. Here’s what will:

Spending Quality Time With Your Children. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they spend quality time with them. Asking about their day and actively listening to the stories that follow. Wanting to know about what they learned at school. Helping them do their homework. Telling jokes. Reading books. Watching them explore the world. Engaging in hobbies together.

Monitoring Who Their Friends Are. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they give a darn about who their friends are. It’s true that one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. In my life, I’ve seen children with huge potential and abundant talents get sucked into a black vortex when their parents didn’t take the time to know who their friends were. Parents who are allowing their children to spend time with other kids who are habitually engaging in illegal activities (see: underage smoking and drinking), skipping school, or who are sexually promiscuous shouldn’t be surprised if their child is doing the same things.

Letting Them Make Mistakes. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they allow them to make mistakes so they can learn from them. You want to wait until the eleventh hour to make your science fair project? Ok, but don’t ask me to help and don’t get upset when you earn a bad grade and, as a result, can’t participate in a school-sponsored sports team.

Sometimes small mistakes lead to big opportunities for growth. Just ask Bill Gates about the failure of his first company, Traf-O-Data.

Being a Good Example. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they are good examples themselves. As people, we are imperfect. I’ve done things in my youth that I’m not proud of, and that I will likely never admit to my children until they are grown (if ever). Now that I’m a parent, I know my kids are always watching. They hear what my husband and I say. They watch what we do. They listen to what we are listening to. And while there have been times when I’ve completely lost my cool, I overall try to set a good example.

And hope they forget about the times I lost my cool.

Holding Them Accountable. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they hold them accountable for their actions. A bad report card means being grounded until the grades improve. Acting disrespectful to peers and adults will have consequences.

When I was in middle school, my math teacher called my mom at work to tell her I was more concerned about socializing in class than I was about learning algebra. Shocking. When I got home, I was immediately sent to my room. There was no “asking for my side of the story” or giving me the benefit of the doubt. Nowadays, parents are more likely to blame the authority figure than they are to question their own children. This leads to a long term loss of accountability.

Cultivating Their Authentic Passions. Parents are more likely to have successful children when they focus on what their children want to do instead of what they want them to do. My daughters don’t want to be doctors, lawyers, or accountants when they grow up? Instead, they want to be tattoo artists? That’s cool. I’ll enroll them in creative classes that will provide them the educational background essential to promote their artistic talents. Heck, maybe they can earn an MBA while they’re at it so they can own the tattoo company as well.

And you know what? A parent can do all of these things and still have the wheels come off. Go figure.

Regardless, Harvard Business School needs to lay off the mom guilt.

As a mom, the decision to stay at home or work is a choice. Why are we criticizing other women’s choices?

Absent criminal conduct, I generally don’t care how other mothers choose to raise their children.

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Hear me out. I know my emotional limitations, and I completely lack the mental stamina required to stay at home all day with two young children. I’ll likely feel differently when my girls, now ages 1 and 3, are a few years older, but that’s how I feel now. This past weekend, I flew out of state with both girls to visit longtime girlfriends. (My husband went hunting out west, and he got a Get Out of Hell Free card because he doesn’t give me trouble when he has both children and I’m away on a girls’ weekend.)

While the girls were generally good on the trip, this is how I felt when I pulled back into my driveway when the weekend was over:

From a Working Mom to Stay at Home Moms: Keep on Keeping on! http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/11/working-mom-to-stay-at-home-moms

Brit Brit… I feel for ya, girl. I really do.

Getting the girls packed, on a plane, and safely in a different city without that extra set of hands (my husband) was no joke. I don’t know how single parents do it. More than that, I don’t know how stay at home moms do it every dang day.  

Stay at Home Moms: you’re doing a great job. Working Moms: so are you.

Let’s all just keep on keeping on.

Cheers!

 

    Did Halloween Come Early? No, It’s Just Tinder.


    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Call me a fuddy-duddy. Old fashioned. Square. Fogy.

    Until recently, I had no idea what Tinder was.

    You’re on an app called Tinder? Is that where you call the car that comes and picks you up at your house?

    No. That’s Uber.

    I learned about Tinder from my single work colleagues. They showed me the app and I shamefully giggled as they swiped right and left, scoping out the other singletons within a certain geographic vicinity.

    The college girl in me laughed and said “eew” at some of the male suitors who popped up on the screen. The mom (and quasi adult) in me was appalled and slightly heartbroken by the superficiality.

    These are real people with real feelings who are hoping to find real love, and here we are mocking them? How would I feel if I was on this site and someone swiped to the left (meaning uninterested) after my picture appeared? 

    Yada yada yada.

    Some of this is funny.

    And then we came to a crop of potential suitors and didn’t know whether to laugh, cry, or call whatever authorities are responsible for invoking a Baker Act.

    I don’t have a Tinder account because polygamy is illegal and my husband would freak out. Therefore, I enlisted the help of some college girlfriends and Allison of the AA blog to help find the most eligible (!?) Tinder suitors in cyberspace. Here, ladies and gentlemen, are some of the more noteworthy gems:

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: Vittorio is what would happen if Rainbow Brite, Rosie O’Donnell, and Mr. T had a baby.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Allison: I’m less horrified about this guy’s bloody profile picture and MORE horrified about his cat owning situation. Sorry, Derek, deal breaker.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: I do enough “Paperhustling” at the office. It’s no fun. Not sure it’s the same type of paper hustling ole’ Chucky is referring to.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Allison: Cool, Anthony- well, I’ll have to take your word for it that you’re good looking since Tinder doesn’t allow users to upload five photographs and let us decide for ourselves. Oh wait, they do!

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: Ronen knows pizza is the only way to a girl’s heart. If I was still in undergrad, we’d be a match made in heaven.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Allison: David, your bio makes absolutely no sense. Referencing Jared from the Subway/ child molestation scandal is a surefire way to get LEFT SWIPED. Get off the internet.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: Dang, Anthony. Your undies look comfy, for real. Thirtysomething mom problems.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Allison: I… like your Martin Luther King tattoo? #IHadADreamIDidn’tNeedtoGoOnTinder.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: It’s like Darth Vader meets a basett hound. Regardless, this picture makes me Juan-t to vomit.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: His real name isn’t Jeff. It’s Satan.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Me: If this dude committed a crime, his fingerprints would immediately give him away.

    Hilarious Tinder Profiles courtesy of The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/funny-tinder-profiles/

    Allison: Christopher has a very specific age requirement (um, does he know you set the age limit requirement yourself?) and also needs his potential life mate to have a carrear. A CARREAR.

    The dating pool these days is no joke.

    Special thanks to Allison and my girlfriends who helped make this post possible. You know who you are. [Wink.]

    Cheers!

      The “No Gifts, Please” Party Dilemma


      Read about whether you should still bring a gift when the party invitation says "No Gifts, Please."

      Me and my cousins- rocking the birthday scene 1985 style.

      I was overwhelmed with panic as I stared at the Evite.

      At the bottom of the electronic invitation riddled with giraffes, elephants, and tigers was a not-so-unusual mandate:

      “No Gifts, Please.”

      I started sweating.

      What do I do? Bring nothing, or run to Target and grab something? 

      This happens often with requests of this nature.

      I get it. The party hostess likely didn’t want more junque to trip over that she would ultimately donate to the Salvation Army. She probably couldn’t stand to look at one more Elsa figurine, Melissa & Doug puzzle, or Lincoln Log (impalement risk: hello!). At two, the guest of honor wasn’t old enough to know she was “missing out” on what some kids consider the best part of a birthday party: presents!

      I’ve been there, lived it, and understand.

      Between Grandpa, Grandma, Pap, “Gammy”, aunts, uncles, and our friends, my kids have more toys than they will ever be able to play with. Some toys were accidentally destroyed before they came out of the packaging. (See: the time I accidentally cut the electrical cord of a flying fairy when I was opening the container). Some toys melted in my car. Some toys were inadvertently left at our local pool, only to be considered another child’s treasure when discovered in the “Lost and Found” box. Our children have so many toys that we have a schedule of “rotating toys” where some are stored away in a closet for a couple months before we reintroduce them. We like to call it “Christmas in July”.

      However, asking that guests of children’s birthday parties not bring gifts puts parents in a quandary because there are always some (and in most cases, many) parents who don’t honor the request. It would be different if every single person complied. But it never happens that way. There is always someone who makes everyone else look like jerks.

      The noncompliant guests bring gifts because:

      1. Their mothers (rightfully) taught them to never show up to a party empty-handed;
      2. The attendee wants to give a gift; and/ or
      3. Nobody wants to be perceived as a cheapskate by being “that person” who didn’t bring a gift, despite clear instructions to the contrary.

      I surveyed women between the ages of 26 and 40 regarding whether they bring presents to “No Gifts, Please” events. Eight percent said they comply with the request, and a whopping 92% said they bring something, but usually a scaled-down version of what they would regularly give, such as a book or candy.

      One of my girlfriends recently attended a “No Gifts, Please” party and had a run-in with the birthday girl’s mother. As my friend was placing her present on the dining room table (which was littered with gifts from other attendees), the hostess passive-aggressively said, “I guess nobody read the invitation…”

      On one hand, you don’t want to dishonor the requests for “No Gifts, Please.”

      On the other, you don’t want to show up empty handed because you’re darn sure other parents are still going to bring gifts.

      You don’t want to feel ashamed and judged as you pass the present table without making a contribution.

      I threw my husband a party for his thirtieth birthday and requested that our guests not bring gifts. This was because I wanted them to attend the party and enjoy the food, drinks, and company without feeling like they needed to buy him- a grown man- a present. Besides, what do you get for the guy who has everything? Sure, he enjoys wine and craft beer, but what he really would have wanted was a Yeti cooler, new boat, or a trip to Alaska, and those would have been too extravagant coming from friends, acquaintances, and work colleagues (and maybe even his wife). With the exception of wine, which surely would have been consumed, everything else would have ended up stashed in a “to be re-gifted” bin in our hall closet.

      The birthday mantra for my husband was “our guests’ presence was the present.”

      Maybe the “No Gifts, Please” phenomena is a fad. Maybe it’s a permanent “thing.” Regardless, I’ll continue to bring a small gift, and will discretely place it on top of the dining room table when the birthday child’s mama isn’t looking.

      Cheers to good-intentioned noncompliance!

        Wedding Gifts: Nope, Not an Option.


        people who attend a wedding without giving a gift

        My husband and me on our wedding day, June 20, 2009. Photo by Karlin Perez.

        I’m going to admit something that could make me look like a petty jerk.

        Ok, I’ll say it.

        I remember the two guests at my wedding who never sent a gift.

        I got married six years ago. I’m not a grudge holder. Nope. No grudges here.

        It’s out and I feel slightly ashamed. On one hand, I’m grateful people spent their time and money coming to my wedding and celebrating our special day. On the other hand, these people attended a nice event, ate a free meal, enjoyed an open bar, and had a good time on the dance floor. There wasn’t much arm-twisting involved. Once it was over, the least they could have done was send a $3.99 card from Hallmark wishing us well.

        I am not alone in my animosity.

        I recently attended a girls’ dinner with around 20 other married women. Every single one of them had at least one wedding guest who never sent a gift and these women still remembered exactly who the offenders were

        Some of these women have been married for as long as fifteen years and still have not forgotten. 

        Wedding Paper Divas - Sitewide Sale

        I’m going to be a tad sexist and assume the primary group of non-gifting offenders are men, who are often ignorant about etiquette and likely forget to send a gift after the wedding comes and goes. Before my husband and I met, he was invited to the wedding of one of his engineering school classmates. He told me about how he RSVP’d that he was attending the wedding, but something unexpectedly came up and not only did he not attend, but he also never sent a gift. He was probably 23 years old at the time. When he told me this story, I was mortified at his inconsideration and rudeness, even though being inconsiderate and rude was not his intention. He chalked it up to pure ignorance.

        The bottom line: if you RSVP that you are attending a wedding and you don’t show up, you better be in the morgue. And if you’re not in the morgue, you’re going to be mentally dead to the bride. I promise. Further, not only should you still send a gift, but it needs to cover the cost of the meals you RSVP’d for, because that money was flushed down the toilet by your failure to attend.

        http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/wedding-gifts-present-what-to-get/

        Dancing and other tomfoolery at my wedding reception. Photo by Karlin Perez.

        There also appears to be a positive correlation between people who get married young and people with a high number of non-gifting attendees. This is probably because the guest list includes many unmarried “youngsters” who are fresh out of college, struggling to make ends meet, and going online to check out a wedding registry genuinely slipped their minds.

        Of the non-gifting attendees, the ones I find the most incredulous are the women who were once brides themselves.  These women should know better.

        One of my work colleagues recently told a story around the water cooler about a couple in her circle of friends who notoriously attend weddings without sending gifts. Apparently, everyone talks about it behind their backs and my colleague was a “victim” herself. A few weeks ago, she received an invitation for a coed baby shower where the non-gifting couple were the guests of honor. For the couples’ fifth daughter. My colleague was appalled the couple was soliciting gifts when they already had tons of “girl” gear and, more importantly, they were expecting gifts when they never give any gifts themselves. Life isn’t fair, but that didn’t seem just.

        Giving a wedding gift is not optional. It is required. It’s not about the money; rather, it’s about the thought and consideration behind the gift. There are many inexpensive choices for guests who are low on cash to give a gift without going bankrupt. A picture collage. An original poem. A paperback book about love or advice about marriage. Movie tickets. Heck, a mixed CD.

        Something.

        Playwright William Conegreve got it right. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. 

        I can tell you the groom won’t remember the guest who didn’t send a wedding gift. But the bride will remember. She might never utter a word about it to her husband, her friends, or even her own mother, but she will remember. Don’t be the target of a bride’s scorn.

        Cheers!

          9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them


          Worried about what to bring to the party host? Here are 9 of the best hostess gift ideas. Cheers!

          Housewarming parties. Dinner parties. Anniversary parties. Birthday parties. Baby showers and bridal showers (when you’re the honoree). Overnight visits. Themed parties. Holiday parties.

          It can get exhausting to find unique gifts to serve as mementos to thank your hostess (or host) for his or her hospitality.

          Likewise, it’s sometimes confusing to determine whether giving a hostess a gift is appropriate.

          I asked Myka Meier, the founder and director of Beaumont Etiquette, to weigh in:

          When are you required to bring a hostess gift? “You should bring a hostess gift when you are invited to someone’s home for any reason. It can be something small and thoughtful, and it constitutes a thank-you for an invitation to host you. Never show up empty handed.”

          When is a hostess gift not required? “When you are invited to someone’s home for an event or dinner, you should always ask the host what he or she would like you to bring. Sometimes the person may assign you to a dish. In that case, the dish would be your contribution. It would be extra generous (and unnecessary) to also bring a hostess gift.”

          How much should I spend on a hostess gift? “There is no specific amount; rather, it’s the thought behind the gift. For instance, bringing homemade cookies would be as suitable as monogrammed cocktail coasters or an expensive candle from the host’s favorite store.”

          What is the not-so-obvious thing to bring as a hostess gift? “Flowers that are not already in a vase or container. It is the hostess’s sole responsibility to ensure her guests feel comfortable and welcome when they enter her home. The moment you will arrive with flowers, the hostess will need to cut their stems and find a vase to fill with water. While she is trying to accommodate the flowers you got for her, she has not been able to do her job as a hostess and may have missed greeting guests as they arrive.”

          Here are nine of my favorites.

          Scented candles. I love scented candles and usually wouldn’t splurge on one for myself. My favorites are from the Seventh Avenue Apothecary in Tampa, Florida, which is family owned and operated by a group of great women.

          7th

          Rifle Paper Company recipe box. How perfect is it to gift a recipe box for a dinner party hostess? This Citrus Floral Recipe Box is made by the Rifle Paper Company (a Florida enterprise flagshipped in the charming town of Winter Park) and is available for $34. They also offer a diverse online section of other gift ideas to suit your hostess’s taste or hobbies.

          9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Michael Aram pomegranate catch all.  I love the pomegranate catch all from the Michael Aram collection. At $49, this natural bronze beauty is perfect for the hostess to place in her kitchen for her “whatevers.”

          Aram2

          Corkcicle. This little device is $17.95 of goodness and is ideal for the wine aficionado hostess. You freeze it, then stick it into a wine bottle so it stays cold. If you purchase them through the Corkcicle website, you get 15% off your first purchase. Good reason to buy them in bulk. Cheers!

          9 Best Hostess Gifts on The Champagne Supernova; http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Hen House Linens kitchen towels. Bright and colorful, these towels from Hen House Linens will spruce up any kitchen.

          9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Gourmet Cheeses. It’s fun to give the hostess something she can look forward to enjoying when the party’s over. You can get gourmet cheeses almost anywhere (and who doesn’t like cheese?) but I prefer to shop local and purchase mine at Cheese Please in Tampa. It’s run by two hilarious and personable guys who have a knack for fine cheeses and chocolates.

          9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Menagerie wine pourer/ aerator. I discovered these gems at a tasting at the Gundlach Bundschu winery in Sonoma. There are 64 styles made from original hand-sculpted designs and forged from high-grade stainless steel. At roughly $29 a piece, they combine quality, functionality, durability, and style. My husband is an avid hunter, so I got him the elk pourer, but as a University of Florida alumnus and fisherman, he would have been equally thrilled with the alligator or fish pourers.

          wine

          Funny cocktail napkins. For the hostess with a sense of humor, funny cocktail napkins make the perfect gift. I love these “Real Housewives” themed cocktail napkins from Caspari, which also sells boxed note sets, candles, matchboxes, and picture frames online.

          9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Bathroom guest book. For the regular entertainer, make every trip to the powder room an event to remember with the Bathroom Guest Book available at Z-Gallerie. This witty little book is a great conversation piece, and at $14.95, each guest’s deep thoughts on the loo will live in infamy.

          9 Best Hostess Gifts: Yes, You Have to Bring Them. http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/08/best-hostess-gifts/

          Cheers to being a gracious guest!

           

            The 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette


            The Champagne Supernova- 10 Commandments of Workplace Etiquette http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/07/the-10-commandments-of-workplace-etiquette/

            I’ve worn many hats over the years.

            I’ve been a grocery store cashier, a restaurant server, a receptionist at a home sales center, a mortgage loan officer at a bank, a summer clerk at a small law firm, and an associate attorney at a large law firm.

            While I am not an etiquette expert, and often prefer the company of people who do things their way, there are a few observations I’ve had in the work environment over the past decade that are worth mentioning. These are the 10 things guaranteed to annoy your colleagues:

            Thou Shalt Control the Sound of Your Bodily Functions. There’s no reason someone sitting on the opposite side of the office should be able to hear you sneezing, coughing, chewing food, or clearing your throat. One of my daughters would jump in utero at the sound of a colleague’s sneezes.

            It is entirely possible to control the decibel of your bodily functions. If you wouldn’t make the loud and distracting noise in a church, at a funeral, or in a library, then you should have equal consideration in the workplace.

            Thou Shalt Help Keep the Restroom Tidy. When you work in a large office building where everyone on the floor shares a bathroom, it’s embarrassing to direct multimillion dollar client representatives into a restroom where there might be toilet paper stuck to the floor, water splashed all over the sink, or, worst of all, a toilet that wasn’t completely flushed.

            Clean up after yourself.

            Thou Shalt Not Reheat Smelly Food. I once attended a crowded deposition in a small room where the air conditioner wasn’t working. Despite being packed in the room like sardines (pun intended), one of my colleagues took a container of stinky cheese out of her mini cooler, and proceeded to spread it all over crackers before eating it. The sound of her smacking jaw and the repugnant odor of the cheese in the hot, tiny room was nauseating.

            Fish.

            Broccoli.

            Curry.

            Burned popcorn.

            Keep these smelly culprits out of the office.

            Thou Shalt Not Take Food That’s Not Yours. People shouldn’t have to label or initial food items that are placed in the community refrigerator. If you didn’t bring it to work, then don’t eat it without permission.

            Easy peasy.

            Thou Shalt Replenish the Coffee. This is one of the simplest ways to make your co-workers despise you. It takes ten seconds to brew a fresh pot of coffee. If you don’t know how to use the coffee maker, then someone will be happy to show you.

            Ignorance doesn’t justify inconsideration.

            Thou Shalt Not Be a Mooch. Don’t be “that person” who routinely attends potluck work events without contributing. If you didn’t have time to bring something from home, then call Domino’s and have something delivered to the office.

            Everybody loves pizza.

            Thou Shalt Keep Personal Internet Use at a Minimum. Nowadays, Big Brother is constantly monitoring how you spend time on the internet at work. This also true if you’re logged into your employer’s wi-fi on your smart phone. I’ve heard of several instances where employers audit their employees’ computer use to ensure they’re not burning work time on the internet.

            If you are completing your assigned tasks or are on your lunch break, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional internet diversion. However, if you are getting paid to perform a job but, instead, are spending your time shopping online or catching up with your Facebook friends, you are arguably stealing from your employer.

            Thou Shalt Turn off the Music. I’ve never been the person who can perform thoughtful activities while listening to music. It’s hard to concentrate with it in the background, and I find myself focusing on the words and rhythm of the song, as opposed to the task at hand.

            If you work in an open office environment, turn your music off completely. If you listen to music on headphones, make sure it isn’t so loud that other people can hear it. If you listen to music in a private office, keep the door closed.

            Thou Shalt Dress Appropriately. I once worked at a law firm where one of the older assistants routinely wore a letterman-style Skittles jacket to work.

            Skittles. As in, taste the rainbow.

            Nobody over the age of 12 should wear a Skittles jacket in public, let alone to a professional environment.

            Wear clothing that is suitable for your age, body type, and the nature of your career. If you are 25 years old and employed at the Victoria’s Secret headquarters, then it is likely appropriate (and encouraged) to wear short skirts to work.

            In 99% of other situations, nobody wants to see your bra strap or the outline of your underwear through your tight pants. (See also: nobody wants to see the tattoo of the Disney character on your breast- cover up the cleavage.) Further, don’t wear items that are ripped, stained, or make you look like you are one of the People of Wal-Mart. Depending on the work environment, open-toed dress shoes are acceptable, as long as the person has their corns, callouses, and cracked heels under control.

            Thou Shalt Show Gratitude. Your employer doesn’t owe you a holiday party, paid maternity leave (in the United States), and, in many cases, a year-end bonus or raise. While you likely worked hard to achieve these things, showing a bit of gratitude by acknowledging the benefit and thanking your supervisors will go a long way. It takes two seconds to say “thank you.”

            Cheers!

              The First Birthday Party for a Second Child: How to Not Go Insane


              Arden's birthday from the Champagne Supernova http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              Arden’s First Birthday Party

              Let me be up front and say I’m not Martha Stewart. I don’t cook. I don’t clean. I don’t make cutesy crafts. I don’t plan parties. I don’t enjoy planning parties. Don’t get me wrong… I love attending parties and admire anyone who loves managing big events, it’s the planning and effort that make me crazy. Even if I didn’t have a full time job or kids, I wouldn’t like putting these things together.

              I’m not criticizing anyone who chooses to throw massive birthday parties for their toddlers, I’m just saying that I won’t do it again until my children are old enough to remember and appreciate it. That’s all.

              Case in point: my own wedding. I don’t like the stress associated with planning an event and feeling responsible for things running smoothly or guests having fun. So when I got married almost 6 years ago with all the proverbial bells and whistles, I spent the majority of the morning of my wedding day crying in the bathroom from anxiety. We should have just eloped.

              I get it. My husband, Jason, told me so. 

              When Arden turned one a couple years ago, we threw her a Pinterest-worthy soiree that was the toddler equivalent of a Quincinera. It had a circus theme and we rented carnival games from an events company, tables and chairs from an outside vendor, and had matching invitations, cupcake toppers, napkins, and food labels to boot. It was over-the-top, expensive, unnecessary, and to be honest, the party was more about entertaining our family, friends, and friends’ children than it was about celebrating Arden. Let’s be real: a one year old is clueless about their surroundings and has no memory about what happened yesterday, let alone at their own birthday party when they are only one.

              http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              Yes, people, these are CIRCUS GAMES. At a first birthday party. Doh!

               

              http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com/admin

              The Pinterest-inspired snack table. Read: I am an idiot.

              http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              The area where Arden had her first morsel of cake. Where frosting ended up on the wall.

              A Snapfish photo album and some Facebook shots are the only way she’ll ever know the party truly happened. And the three dozen leftover lollipops that are sitting in my storage closet (if my dog or husband don’t get to them).

              For her first birthday party, Arden would have been just as content if we ordered bar-be-que, a gallon of chocolate ice cream, and called it a day.

              I certainly would have had more fun.

              What the Facebook world didn’t get to see was how the day ended up:

              http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

              It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.

              Lesson learned.

              Enter the second child: Elle. She turned one this past weekend and, instead of throwing a party, we opted for a three-day weekend at the beach with our families. The invitations were sent via text message. The decorative napkins and plates were from the local grocery store. The birthday hat was a hand-me-down from her sister.

              It was a blast.

              http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com/admin

              Jason, Elle, my Mother in Law, and Me celebrating the beginning of a great year.

              Being a second-time parent has made me wiser than I was the first time around. With my first child, if a person would have told me to hold off on a huge party for my one-year-old, I would have been annoyed at their unsolicited advice, have mentally slapped them, and would have thrown the party anyway. Now, I am that person.

              I ran into a mother of one of Arden’s classmates in the school parking lot yesterday. You missed the best birthday party on Saturday, Jen. It was at a park and the mom ordered pizza and a bounce house. It was the perfect party for a three-year-old and everyone had so much fun. I give a big, fat, “Cheers” to that mama.

              In the end, what the birthday person remembers (if they are old enough to remember) is whether they had a good time and if they were surrounded by people they love. And if a mom wants to throw in a life-size piñata at the party, power to her. It just ain’t gonna be me.

              Cheers!

              Note, while my family and I were at the beach celebrating Elle, one of my girlfriends, Julie Borm of the Everyday Happiness blog, was busy throwing a birthday party for her one-year old that would put ole’ Martha to shame. Read about her hilarious experience (and confession) here.

                The Spanker Man: Lies We Tell Our Kids to Make them Behave


                Disclaimer: Do not read this post if you are politically correct, become easily offended, are a child psychologist, a parenting know-it-all, or have no sense of humor. You’ve been warned.

                Read about the mythical creature of the spanking man on The Champagne Supernova blog.

                This is who I envisioned The Spanker Man to look like.

                Before there was Elf on a Shelf, there was The Spanker Man.

                Before there was Mensch on a Bench, there was The Spanker Man.

                The Spanker Man is a fictional character my mother created to deter my younger sister and me from misbehaving in public. She told us public places, particularly restaurants, had hidden cameras where The Spanker Man was watching in a back room to ensure that children acted appropriately. If The Spanker Man observed kids who were bratty, sassing their parents, or having tantrums, he would remove them from the premises and give them an apocalyptic whoopin’.

                You better believe my sister and I never received a visit from The Spanker Man. As children, we didn’t have an opportunity to discover he didn’t exist because we were on our behavioral A-Game in public.

                While joining us for dinner, my parents’ friends usually sat in awe of our good behavior. They couldn’t believe that two young children could be so well behaved in public. When receiving compliments on our behavior, my parents just smirked at each other. I think even in the mid-1980s when spanking was accepted, and sometimes expected, The Spanker Man concept would have been too taboo for my folks to advertise.

                Nowadays, if parents told their children about The Spanker Man, someone would call the Department of Children and Family Services, the kids would be thrown into foster care, and the parents would be featured on 60 Minutes.

                Having kids can make parents do desperate things.

                I get it.

                I’ve told my three year old some mighty tales when, during extreme acts of desperation, I’m trying to get her to do something she doesn’t want to do.  I’m susceptible to doing this on weekday mornings when she’s fighting with me about putting her shoes on for school, I’m trying frantically to get both girls in the car because I’m late for a hearing, my infant spits up on my work clothes, and I’m furiously scrubbing a Clorox Bleach Pen against my suit so I can pretend I’m professional. For instance, I’ve told her that if she didn’t brush her teeth, bugs would crawl into her mouth when she was sleeping and would eat the gunk. [For the record, that doesn’t work].

                If you’ve told your children creative stories to control their actions, you’re not alone. A study from the University of California, published by the International Journal of Psychology, suggests the vast majority of parents lie to their children to get them to behave.

                I’ve polled my girlfriends regarding childhood whoppers their parents told them, or even lies they’ve told their own kids. Here are some of the gems:

                – “My parents told me [and my sibling] they would call the adoption agency and have them come get us and take us away if we didn’t listen.”

                –  “My mom told me that if I didn’t eat everything on my plate, the number of crumbs left is how many pimples my husband would have. I was a devoted member of the clean plate club, and my husband has really good skin.”

                – “I told [my five year old daughter] that if she didn’t stop picking her nose and eating it, she would actually turn green and look like a witch. When that didn’t work, I Googled “stretched out nostrils” and showed her images that her nose would look like if she kept putting her fingers up there. Seems to work.”

                – “We tell our son that we’ll call the police if he doesn’t listen. We usually end up hearing sirens in our neighborhood so he believes it.”

                – “My parents told me [and my brother] that our cookie dough eating habit would give us worms. As our Dad was a veterinarian and we were no strangers to the world of parasitic infections in critters, we took it as gospel.”

                – “My mom said that if I ever hit my brother or sister, then when I was dead and buried, the hand I hit them with would stick out of the grave and I’d never truly Rest in Peace.”

                Woah. 

                Fortunately, my sister and I didn’t need therapy because of The Spanker Man. My mom didn’t want us acting like jerks in public, so she did what she had to do to keep us under control. Ultimately, there was no harm and no foul. If anything, it’s been a hilarious topic of conversation among my friends and the concept catapults my mom into genius status.

                If only she would have been the one to create Elf on a Shelf. We’d be rich.

                Cheers!

                  Easy, Healthy Salsa: I’m Not Martha Stewart


                   

                  Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

                  I stink at cooking. Ok, I don’t stink at it because it’s not rocket science to be able to follow a recipe. “I avoid cooking” is more accurate. While I love sampling delicious food, making it myself is too much of a hassle and too much of a time suck. Not only do I have to find recipes that I’m interested in making, but then it becomes a process of figuring out which ingredients I already have at my house (usually zero), running to the store to buy the ingredients I don’t have, and then finding the time to execute everything.

                  I stumbled across a variation of this recipe inside a mini Clean-Eating style magazine that was included as an insert in my recent Better Homes and Gardens subscription, and decided to improvise by adding a little bit of this and removing a little bit of that. What caught my eye about the recipe is 1) it involved only a few ingredients, 2) it is healthy (and would cancel out the Chic-Fil-A fries and chicken sandwich I ate the day before), and 3) can be eaten with chips… anything that requires dipping is good for me. Most importantly, it is easy. We had a family cookout at my house over Easter weekend and this was so good that we made it two nights in a row, and then my mom made it as a dish for a recent pool party at one of her girlfriends’ houses.

                  Once you have all the ingredients, the recipe takes less than five minutes of preparation.

                  This is what you need:

                  1. One package of frozen corn
                  2. One pint of cherry tomatoes cut into quarters
                  3. One container of pre-cut feta cheese
                  4. 1 cup- Fresh parsley
                  5. 1 cup- Fresh cilantro
                  6. 2 tsp lime juice
                  7. Salt and pepper to taste.

                  Combine everything together and keep adding salt and pepper until it tastes the way you like it. If you are feeling extra healthy and adventurous, you could add small cubes of avocado (but be careful not to mush them). Cheers to an easy hit.

                  Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

                  Salsa1Easy, delicious, clean salsa from The Champagne Supernova; http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com Easy, Healthy Salsa (I Promise!)- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/04/easy-salsa-clean-healthy-few-ingredients/

                    The 10 Best Songs of All Freaking Time


                    Larry Busacca; Getty Images

                    “When you hear a great song, you can think of where you were when you first heard it, the sounds, the smells. It takes the emotions of a moment and holds it for years to come. It transcends time. A great song has all the key elements- melody; emotion; a strong statement that becomes part of the lexicon; and great production.” -Jay Z

                    I don’t care how old I am or where I am in my life. There are certain songs that make me want to go euphorically insane when I hear them. Here are the top ten:

                    10. More than a Feeling: Boston. This is the ultimate dive bar jukebox song. Reminds me of my freshman year of college when my girlfriends and I would listen to this while getting ready to go out, “pre-gaming” (do they still call it that?), and hitting the town wearing the official college uniform of the early 2000s: black pants, a solid colored spaghetti-strapped top, and Reef flip flops.

                    9. Fortunate Son: Creedence Clearwater Revival. I was old enough to appreciate this song and the meaning behind it when it was featured on the Forrest Gump soundtrack. I feel sorry for anyone who gets stuck in a car next to me when this song is on the radio. Free entertainment.

                    8. Free Fallin: Tom Petty. When I was in elementary school, my parents allowed my middle-school aged neighbor, Brandy, to babysit me and my sister. Brandy was a “bad girl,” but she would sweet talk my parents a-la-Eddie Haskell, and at $2 per day, she was cheap labor. She would sometimes babysit us at her house next door, and I remember watching the music video of this song in her upstairs bedroom with the pink canopy bed and Barbie Dream House. The video stood out to me because my parents would have flipped if they knew Brandy was letting us watch MTV (this was when watching MTV would buy you a first class ticket to the epicenter of Hell) and I recall Tom Petty riding escalators in the video. Brandy probably ended up in prison, but I ended up a lifelong Petty fan.

                    7. Summer of 69: Bryan Adams. If this song doesn’t make you want to dance, then we can’t be friends.

                    6. The Train: Quad City DJ’s. Shamefully, I love this song. LOVE IT. I’ve always wondered who Michelle, Tamika, and Tonya were to receive such an amazing shout-out.

                    I think I can, I think I can. 

                    5. Livin’ on a Prayer: Bon Jovi. Tommy and Gina, I want to know you. I want to be your friends.

                    4. Shawty Swing My Way: KP and Envyi. This song puts me in the parking lot of high school in tenth grade when my best girlfriend, Nicole, was kind enough to drive me to and from school every day, before I had a car. She bought this song as a cassette single and we blasted it in the morning prior to rolling into 7-Eleven for a Frappuccino before heading into the school parking lot, where we sat in the car pretending we were cool until the bell rang. This has been the theme song for bachelorette parties, weddings, and girls’ nights. Man, I love this song.

                    3. Tiny Dancer: Elton John. Elton is the greatest performer who ever lived. Not many “artists” write their own music, play an instrument, and perform their own songs. Sorry Beyonce. My parents took me to my first Elton concert in middle school, and I’ve seen four more after that. It never gets old.

                    More Styles On Sale Now at Tea Collection

                    2. Don’t Stop Believin’: Journey. If college had a theme song, this would be it. So many memories are associated with just one song.

                    1. Sweet Child O’ Mine: Guns N’ Roses. I know Slash’s solo at the beginning of this song like the back of my hand and just hearing it gives me heart palpitations. The world stands still. This song has sentimental value. Childhood babysitter Brandy (see Number 8) was obsessed with GNR and introduced my sister and me to the band when we were kids. I remember watching the videos of Axl Rose (before the freaky plastic surgery) wearing biker shorts, a red bandana, and dancing in front of a microphone.

                    What are your favorite songs? Which ones conjure the best memories and why?

                    Cheers!

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