Archive of ‘Home + Entertainment’ category

Educators Weigh In: How to Raise Successful Children

Teachers give advice on how to raise successful children | The Champagne Supernova

Is there a magic formula for how to raise successful children?

What are the common denominators for children who flourish versus those who fail?

In my life, I’ve witnessed some children grow into successful, contributing adults and others  fall into the trenches and never seem to recover.

In this post here, I wrote about an adolescent friend who came from a background of abuse, neglect, and poverty. While unfortunate, it was no surprise she grew into an adult who couldn’t overcome her rough upbringing and has already taken steps to repeat the sad cycle with her own children.

On the other hand, we also know children who seemingly came from loving and supportive homes (while not knowing what goes on behind closed doors) who also managed to fall off track.

We’ve also heard of the kids who, despite terrible upbringings, beat the odds and manage to become adults who are financially secure leaders.

As the working mother of two very young girls, I often wonder “what gives?”

And while my children will ultimately make their own decisions, I want to arm them with the best resources and emotional support possible to ensure those decisions are good ones.

Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?


    There are No Parenting Experts

    There's no such thing as a parenting expert | The Champagne Supernova

    Last year, I met an older man while I was on a layover at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

    Shook my hand.

    Asked me what I did for a living and what I was returning to in Tampa.

    I explained I was an attorney who blogged and did freelance writing on the side.

    He handed me his business card.

    Below his name was the title Parenting Expert.

    At the time, my then four-year-old daughter was in the throes of having inconsolable tantrums and I wanted his advice.

    Running into this guy was like hitting the lottery.

    Wide eyed, I asked, How old are your kids?

    I don’t have children.

    Bear hunting, I thought, He must have said bear hunting expert. Or patenting. He’s a patenting expert.

    Oh, I must have misunderstood. I thought you told me you were a parenting expert. What did you say you did for work?

    You heard right, I’m a parenting expert.

    But you don’t have children?

    He looked at his watch, said he needed to use the restroom, and walked away.

    Excuse me for assuming that one had to be a parent to be considered an expert in the arena!

    I know a secret.

    You know the people who consider themselves parenting “experts”?

    They don’t exist.

    The internet articles that profess the “Do’s and Don’ts” of child rearing?

    While offering useful advice, they’re mostly garbage.

    The people who sit on panels giving other people advice about how they should raise their kids because they are well-studied “experts” and, therefore, know much better than you do?

    They’re full of it.

    So are the people who don’t have children who hold themselves out to the public as parenting experts.

    There is no such thing as a parenting expert. Everyone is trying to determine how to nurture mother nature. Everyone is just trying to figure it out.

    I’ll tell you a personal story.

    My oldest daughter, now five, has a lot of grit. She says what’s on her mind and likes to do what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. It can be difficult for her to control her emotions (She get it from her Mama…) and raising her has been challenging.

    (Another personal sub-story: when I was pregnant with her, I prayed that God would give me a spitfire instead of a wallflower. I absolutely got what I wished for.)

    When my daughter was two, she started having inconsolable tantrums.

    Some of them lasted for hours.

    She would frequently wake up in the morning and hysterically sob without any known reasons. Her teachers often complained the tantrums disrupted the entire class and would be triggered for silly reasons, one of them being that a classmate simply made eye contact with her. Sometimes during the tantrums, my daughter would become so enraged that she would bang her head on the ground. The tantrums were making her sick and sometimes she would get so worked up that she would vomit.

    There was once a time where my daughter was having such a bad tantrum at daycare during drop off that I had to toss her over my shoulder and carry her all the way back to my car kicking and screaming. In the two-minute trek between the classroom and the parking lot, I received text messages from three different friends who witnessed the ordeal and were offering their compassion.

    Stay strong! Been there and it’s the pits. 

    I sat in my car and sobbed to myself.

    Why is she doing this? Where have I failed along the way?

    My husband and I fruitlessly tried everything we could imagine to stop the tantrums.

    Google searches. Appointments with her pediatrician. Meetings with teachers and guidance counselors. Asking other parents. Calling my mom and grandmother. Reaching out to nannies and caregivers with extensive childcare experience. Reading parenting books.

    We heard and read the same piece of advice from the “experts” over and over again.

    She’s a smart girl who is trying to control the family with the tantrums. You must completely ignore them and they will go away. If you coddle her and give attention to the tantrums, they will indefinitely continue. It is critical that you pay them no mind and be patient. She’ll eventually grow out of it. 

    So that’s what we did.

    We ignored the tantrums.

    But they got worse.

    One day, during an hour-long tantrum that was triggered by something ridiculous, I defeatedly got down on my daughter’s level, looked her in the face, told her I loved her, and gave her a hug.

    The tantrum stopped almost immediately.

    We did a few more modifications, such as an earlier bedtime and implementing a strict “time-out” policy but, in sum, the major catalyst for the tantrums ending involved simply getting down on her physical level (e.g., my hands and knees) and hugging her.

    This was exactly what all the “experts” told us not to do.

    Here’s the deal.

    Nobody really knows what they are doing.

    All children are different. Just because something works for 99.9% of the population doesn’t mean it is a perfect fit for your child.

    Unless you have a rule-following “kid in a box,” you have to do everything you can do until you solve the problem.

    Even if it means doing what the “experts” tell you not to do.

    One of my friends compared parenting to a scratch-off ticket. You just have to keep trying different options until you hit the jackpot.

    And here’s another thing.

    Don’t feel like you are a bad parent just because your kid’s behavior stinks.

    Keep doing your best and it will probably stop.

    Speaking from experience, I felt like a failure that my husband and I couldn’t quickly get a handle on my daughter’s emotions.

    My negative thoughts began snowballing into irrational catastrophes.

    What if she’s nuts? What if this continues and she gets kicked out of school? What if this behavior rubs off on her little sister? What if, what if, what if?


    I was going crazy.

    For nothing.

    The tantrums eventually subsided. Don’t get me wrong, she still occasionally has them, but they are age appropriate we are usually able to stop it and notice a correlation to lack of sleep the night before.

    Girl needs her beauty rest.

    Thank God we didn’t rely on the “experts.”

    You know your child better than anyone else. Go with what feels right in your gut.



      How to Eliminate Clutter

      Tips and tricks on how to eliminate clutter | The Champagne Supernova

      To promote my upcoming role as Guest Editor for the January 2017 edition of Tampa Bay Parenting magazine, I was invited to present a segment on Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend news show about eliminating the clutter of holiday toys before the new year.

      Great subject!

      Except anyone who’s ever been inside my home or has seen the inside of my car probably feels like they’re on an episode of Hoarders. I’ve got some junk in my trunk. (Za-zing!)

      Really. I have no business telling other people what to do with their “stuff” because, with a two-year-old and four-year-old, I have issues of my own.

      (All I want for Christmas is for my husband go find Alice the Housekeeper from the Brady Bunch and have her come move in with me.)


      I enlisted the help of some professionals and expert moms regarding how they purge toys and clothes to free up space in time for the new year. Here’s some of my favorite suggestions.


        Small Businesses: What People Don’t Know


        This post was sponsored. Because Christmas is coming up and baby wants a pony. 

        The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday.

        I feel like I run two small businesses, aside from working full time in my regular career.

        My husband has an engineering firm that he established when I was eight months pregnant with our oldest daughter (perfect timing- NOT!)

        The blog is run as a business.

        I understand the nuances of hiring employees and subcontractors, as well as the importance of having quality products to help make a best “first impression.”

        We use paper to print graphic designs, send proposal letters, make presentations, create marketing materials, and for general office letterhead.

        Why is it important to think about your paper purchase? Ostensibly, it seems this doesn’t matter and that paper is one-size-fits all.


        I judge people who use paper that appears cheap and flimsy.

        Shallow, but true. (#keepingitreal)

        For instance. Consider when you’re at the greeting card rack at Target. The quality of card you purchase depends on the recipient. Kids’ birthday party? Go with the .99 cent area because you know the kid won’t care about the poor quality and the card will be trashed (or lost) within two days of it being opened. It’s the thought that counts, right?

        But what if you’re buying a sympathy card for a death? Or it’s Boss’s day? Then you go with the fancier Hallmark card with better texture and superior colors.

        With printer paper, here is a clear difference in value and performance between the options on the shelf.

        Selecting the right paper can ensure the colors pop off the page, black ink doesn’t bleed to the other side, paper doesn’t jam in the printer (my personal pet peeve!), printed pages look amazing, and you get the most out of every single solitary sheet.

        Don’t believe me about the quality of paper making a huge difference?

        Here, I tested Boise POLARIS Premium Multipurpose paper against the Equivocal Hammermill product: Hammermill Premium Multipurpose. I received reams of both types of paper to touch, feel, and test.

        While the differences are outlined below, what cannot be reflected in the photographs is that the POLARIS paper was slightly heavier than the competitor paper. A paper that is too sheer can not only make a document feel less sophisticated, but it can also make it impossible to print on both sides.


        The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left.


        The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left. I noticed the Hammermill paper is more see-through, while the ink appeared richer on the POLARIS paper.


        The POLARIS paper is on the right, and the Hammermill paper is on the left. Notice the difference in the opacity of the paper and the richer appearance of ink on the POLARIS paper.

        A few other perks about Boise POLARIS Premium Multipurpose paper: it carries a 99.0% jam-free performance guarantee that is certified by a third party, the Buyers Laboratory, Inc.. Further, it is available in three different weights, depending on your needs. It is made in the good ole’ U-S-of-A and is made from wood fibers that come from a sustainably-managed forest. Lastly, and my favorite, is that all paper packages include Box Tops for Education, so you can learn money for local schools while also getting a great printed document (read my blog post about Box Tops here).

        Cheers for a great product and getting a lot of bang for your buck!

          The Customer’s Always Right

          Customer service and workers who are annoying | The Champagne Supernova

          It blows my mind how businesses, especially small ones, permit employees to be rude to their clients and customers.

          Take The Write Stuff, for instance. They sell the loveliest invitations, gifts, and home decor and accessories on this side of the Mason-Dixon, but the older man who works there is consistently rude. Like he’s annoyed that someone dared to enter the store and ask him to ring something up, causing him to do his freaking job. And Heaven forbid a customer request that something is gift wrapped because they might as well be asking him to lasso the moon.

          South Tampa people, you feel my pain, you really do.

          But I love their Rifle Paper Company stationery so I keep returning.

          What’s more stifling is when the business owner is the rude one.

          He or she spends time, energy, and moolah on marketing materials and public relations but is too dumb to realize the lasting impact of poor customer service.

          Like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld: No referral for you! No return business for you!


            Shopping: Top Ten Ways to Hide Your Loot from Your Husbands


            The only reason I maintain gainful employment is so I have an alternate place to ship boxes of stuff I buy shopping online so my husband won’t find out.

            Okay. And because I have law school loans and a mortgage.

            But still.

            My primary vice is Amazon, especially because I have Prime membership. I subconsciously feel like I’m getting a “good deal” because the shipping is free, even though I actually spend more money than I would under normal circumstances. And the product arrives two days from the date of purchase, so I don’t have to impatiently sit around and wait for whatever useless tchotchke to show up the way I do with the regular 5-7 day ‘biz the other retailers offer.

            Because I “need” things like one hundred children’s hair bows (I’m a mom of girls), a tape measure, a “Haunted Battlefields of the Civil War” book, non-toxic nail polish, a Ronald Reagan face mask, windshield wipers, and a Patrick Dempsey pillowcase.

            And you know what? It doesn’t matter that I work and bring home the bacon. When multiple boxes arrive at my door step on the same day, my husband usually ends up questioning me about them.

            What’s in those boxes?

            Your mom.



              Gift Ideas: What Women Really Want

              Gift ideas for women reflecting what women ACTUALLY want | The Champagne Supernova

              My mother-in-law had a big birthday earlier this month, and I wanted to get her the perfect gift.

              I won’t tell her age.

              But it rhymes with nifty.

              (She’s my husband’s stepmom, so don’t bother doing the math. She didn’t have him when she was fourteen.)

              I struggled to determine what I could get for her that she would truly enjoy.

              She already has what she needs, and what she didn’t already have, she could go out and buy.


              I didn’t want to cop out and get her a gift card.

              I wanted to get her something that I, myself, would actually want as a gift. 

              Here, my friends, are some of the best gifts that women actually want.

              That they’re excited to get.

              And all of them can easily be purchased online (click, click, boom!) or at your local Target. (Or online at Target, where shipping on purchased over $25 is free.)

              The majority of products in the gift basket are from Beautycounter, where not only am I consultant, but I also legitimately use all of their products in my own daily routine. Read about why I switched to these safer products here, instead of the usual chemical cocktails from the days of yore.

              Beautycounter’s Ingredient Selection Process ensures safer and cleaner products that work beautifully (less is more!). This rigorous process handpicks the best ingredients, such as hydrating shea nut, derived from shea fruit.

              What’s not included?

              Approximately 1,500 questionable or harmful chemicals on Beautycounter’s “Never List” that are never used to formulate the products.


              The whole shebang.


              Beautycounter citrus mimosa body bar.


              Beautycounter citrus mimosa hand cream.

              Bella tin candle in Amber & Vetiver scent.

              Beautycounter soothing face oil. (This stuff is the Grand Poobah mack daddy. Many of my clients have seen a difference in their skin in two days. Two. All you need is two drops on your fingers before bed. Bam!)


              Beautycounter Sugar Body Scrub in lemongrass.

              Beautycounter lip conditioner balm in calendula (also sold in peppermint!)

              birthday_presents_grown_women3Clean eating cookbook: Gwyneth Paltrow “It’s all Easy.”  I know ‘ole Gwen is a controversial figure, but my mother-in-law is a healthy, “green” eater, so throw me a bone.

              Hardbound journal.  I bought this in the store at Target but couldn’t find it online, but here is a similarly sweet one.

              Starbucks coffee.

              Honorable mention not originally included in this basket because I found out about these companies after I published this post: Fabletics workout clothes. This is an affordable athleisure brand that was co-founded by Kate Hudson targeted toward men and women of all shapes and sizes who are interested in fun, fashionable athletic wear. Now you don’t have to spend tons of money to look great at the gym. Another great gift idea is Knix Tanks & Tees: these work like tank tops with a built in bra. With great reviews, this T-shirt has your back by protecting your armpits!

              What would you add to a gift basket for a loved one?

              Some, but not all, of the links are affiliate links where I receive credit for the sale. My electric bill ain’t gonna pay for itself. 


              Epic Classical Academy

                On Your First Day of School

                How to mentally prepare when your kids are starting school | The Champagne Supernova

                My oldest daughter starts Pre-Kindergarten in a couple days.

                She’ll be going to a different school than the daycare she’s attended the last few years.

                Everything will be new.

                She’s four.

                She loves Peppa Pig, Anna and Elsa, wearing dresses, swimming, trying to do cartwheels, painting, reading books, eating watermelon, building sandcastles, saying memorable one-liners, and drinking Shirley Temples (with extra maraschino cherries, of course!) She hates having sunscreen applied, pinto beans, and having her tangly hair brushed.

                Can’t say I blame her.

                It’s hard to believe it’s time for her to start “real school.”

                Just me and a million other parents across the country, commiserating about our kids growing up and crying into their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that we’re up late at night preparing for the next morning.

                According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in the fall of 2015, about 55 million students attended elementary and secondary schools. Of that figure, 35.2 million were in Pre-Kindergarten through 8th grade.



                  Relationships: Dating versus Marriage

                  The difference between dating and marriage | The Champagne Supernova

                  Me and my main squeeze on our wedding day, June 20, 2009.

                  Seven years ago, I said “I do” to fine young man in front of a hundred family members and best friends. As we ate good food and danced the night away, I envisioned our post-honeymoon lifestyle to resemble that of June and Ward Cleaver.

                  Homemade meals every night. Perfectly well-mannered children.  Laughing while we shared deep conversations.

                  Longing looks and meaningful glances.

                  For the rest of our lives.

                  How I envisioned my post-marriage self.

                  How I envisioned my post-marriage self.

                  Then, reality set in and my marriage began to resemble Dan and Roseanne Connor’s.

                  Who has time for homemade meals?

                  “Keeping the romance alive” is difficult with young kids, career ventures, and the stress of everyday life.

                  Sure, it’s easy to become complacent. But don’t we all do it?


                  Here, my friends, are the differences between dating and marriage. It’s the reality that good ole June and Ward never revealed:


                    I’m a Big Bootie Fan

                    Hi Friends, I’m on vacation this week but my friend, Allison Arnone of the AA blog, was kind enough to guest post for me. We collaborated together back in October with this post about Tinder and she’s so funny that I keep coming back for more. Get ready for some laughs:

                    To quote my coworker/friend Meghan, “I’m a big bootie fan.”  Even though it came out sounding like she was talking about a Kim K-style derriere, she actually meant the shoe version of “bootie.”  Ya know, these guys:


                    [source: Polyvore]

                    And ya know what?  I’m a big bootie fan, too.  So when I took off of work on Friday (keepin’ that week-long birthday celebration going) to go shopping with my mom, I couldn’t help but notice a cute pair in…well, I can’t say the name of the store.

                    I’m too embarrassed because of what transpired.


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