Fathers and Daughters: 5 Important Things My Dad Taught Me


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Me and my Dad on my wedding day in 2009.

Ten years ago, my father got a phone call from his sobbing daughter, who was on the verge of what she believed was a nervous breakdown from final exams as a first-year law student.

What did he do?

He hopped in the car and drove four hours- round trip- and surprised her by taking her to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, Sonny’s BBQ.

Fast forward one decade. My dad invited me to be his “Plus One” on a trip to Italy, which he won as part of an incentive program through his company. Assuming that I would be in the throes of cleaning my kids’ spit-up and tending to a full time, “stress-free” career, he was shocked when I accepted his invitation.

When I was growing up, my “Tour of Italy” would have amounted to unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at The Olive Garden. You can imagine that I jumped at the chance.

We had the best time, and I’ll be forever grateful for the memories.

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Me and my Dad in Pisa, Italy.

My sister and I have a great dad. He never let us slack off at school, never allowed us to keep questionable company, and always encouraged us to “make good decisions,” which was his motto.

He always tried to instill important values in us, but was also forgiving when we slipped.

Here are the five things that make my dad so special:

My Dad Gave Up His Own Comfort for Mine. My Dad always put me and my sister before himself. As a recent example, he gave up his window seat and took my center seat on the 9-hour plane ride from Europe to the United States when we were returning from Italy. I’m terrified of flying [thanks to my parents letting me watch La Bamba when I was a little girl], and needed the window seat to keep from hyperventilating.

He didn’t once complain about the center seat, and karma probably allowed him to easily fall asleep to boot! 

My Dad Humored Me When He Probably Wanted to Shake Me. Growing up and through college, my Dad listened with a nonjudgmental heart when his drama queen daughter would call him crying about failed relationships. He probably wanted to shake me and tell me the best was yet to come and the guy at issue wasn’t worth the headache. Instead, he listened, never said “I told ‘ya so,” and never made me feel badly about allowing my heart to hurt.

My Dad Was My Biggest Fan. My Dad has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. My earliest memory of this was when I was chosen to represent my public elementary school at a county-wide speech contest in fourth grade. I spoke about water conservation and another girl spoke about her brother’s physical handicap. She won. To this day, my Dad still tells the story about how I should have won and of the large number of people who approached him afterward to express disgust about my “highway robbery.”

While it was never good to be a sore loser, my Dad thought it was also important to recognize when fair was fair.

Even though life wasn’t always fair.

My Dad Taught Me that it’s Ok for Men to Cry. My Dad is nicknamed the “weeping willow” of the family. This became apparent during my senior year of high school when my grandmother died of cancer. My Dad showed me that the stereotype of men being weak if they cried wasn’t true. He showed me that in order to be strong, real, and authentic, you couldn’t be afraid to reveal your vulnerabilities, even if it meant publicly crying.

This was as true for women as it was for men.

My Dad Taught Me the Importance of Choosing My Friends Wisely. When I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to go to anybody’s house unless they first met the friend and their parents. Their philosophy was that I’d be less likely to get into trouble if my friend was being raised by people with values similar to the values my parents were teaching me.

“You are who your friends are” is a motto that is true, and is even more apparent now that I have girls of my own.

What I value the most about this motto is that some of my deepest, core group of girlfriends date all the way back to my childhood.

I’m working on passing along these five things to my own two girls.

Cheers to the man who loved me first and knows me best.

    10 Things I’m Glad Didn’t Exist When I was in College


    10 Things I'm Glad Didn't Exist in College: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/06/10-things-college/

    I attended undergrad in the early 2000 timeframe when life was easy. Very few people had cellular phones, and we had to take turns sharing the dorm room landline.

    Ahhh, the simple life.

    If someone tried to contact you, you could pretend you never got the call, the email, or the letter that came via snail mail. You didn’t have to think about doing something immature and becoming an overnight sensation on YouTube. You didn’t have to worry about writing stupid things in an email and having it go viral.

    Because back when my friends and I were in college, we never said or did anything dumb, immature, or regretful.

    Here are the top 10 things I’m glad didn’t exist when I was in college:

    Facebook. Back when I was in undergrad, they had this thing called Flashes Online.

    No, it wasn’t one of those sites.

    It was a company that sent photographers to college events, usually fraternity and sorority functions, to document shenanigans, tomfoolery, and debauchery. The photos were uploaded for purchase onto the internet within a couple days, and you better believe that me and all my girlfriends were glued to our IBMs, scrolling through thousands of pictures of people we didn’t know to see if our crush-o-the-month was spotted with another girl on camera. Praise God, Facebook didn’t hit the scene until my first year of law school, and even then, it wasn’t very popular.

    Oh, and you had to actually be enrolled at a college or university to qualify for a Facebook account. Not like now, where the free world has access to it.

    If Facebook was around in college, I would have been arrested for stalking.

    Text Messages. These weren’t around until my senior year of undergrad and, even so, nobody really used them because it took ten minutes just to figure out how to type a seven letter word. Further, they weren’t part of my cell phone “family plan” and my Dad threatened to kill me because each incoming text cost 25 cents.

    Back in the glory days, we actually had to pick up the phone and call someone when we wanted to make plans. Or we had to hop on our computers [usually desktops] and log into AIM to figure out what everybody was doing.

    My screen name was chikenleggz. Don’t ask.

    The Bachelor/ Bachelorette. While this show was technically around when I was in college, the extravagant dates on the show didn’t happen until much later. If so, the extremely over-the-top nature of “dating” would have given me an unrealistic view of relationships and made me feel insecure about my own love life.

    You mean, you’re not picking me up at 7 to take me on a personal tour of the Grand Canyon via helicopter followed by a romantic candlelit dinner at a castle?

    Instead, you’re taking me to the unlimited Italian smorgasbord at Cici’s Pizza?

    Shucks.

    Camera Phones. Back in the glory days of college, we carried around disposable cameras from the drugstore. Getting them developed was like opening presents on Christmas morning: you never knew what you’d get, and the final product would leave you equal parts disappointed and elated.

    There was no red eye correction or skin-smoothing filter. The only way to crop a photobomber was to physically cut him or her out of the picture altogether.

    Sometimes you had to hide your recently-developed photographs from your significant other, because you didn’t know the exact age of your disposable drugstore camera or if any of the pictures that you’d since forgotten about would get you into trouble.

    Rule Number 1: Don’t let your mother develop your pictures.

    This also leads us to…

    Selfies. You couldn’t really take a “selfie” with a disposable camera. If you did, you couldn’t immediately upload it onto the internet (because there was no social media) and you had no idea how it turned out until you developed your pictures.

    Not to mention that being caught taking pictures of yourself in the early 2000s would have gotten you labeled as vain and narcissistic.

    Wikipedia. When I was in college, if you wanted to do any research, you had to actually walk to the library and fully acquaint yourself with the card catalogue. Nowadays, thanks to Wikipedia, college students can plagiarize from the comfort of their own couches.

    Amazon Prime. I didn’t have a car my first two years of undergrad. If I wanted to go anywhere or needed to buy anything, I had to either take the bus or mooch a ride from my friends.

    99% of the time, it was the latter.

    I would have been impoverished if Amazon Prime existed when I was in undergrad. The fact that I didn’t have a job or two pennies to rub together wouldn’t have deterred me from buying nineteen bottles of Bed Head shampoo, a Juicy Couture terry cloth jumpsuit, and the new Vanessa Carlton album just because I could.

    Click, click, boom!

    Adorable Gifts for New Arrivals at Gymboree!

    Smart Phones. Back in college, I had the freedom of being completely “in the moment” with my friends without the pressure of needing to instantly respond to emails and SMS messages, uploading pictures of my otherwise mundane life on Instagram, or posting witty remarks on Twitter.

    Hashtags. #wheniwasincollege #wedidn’thavetheseridiculoushashtags #andcouldactuallybefunnyinreallife #withoutfeelinglike #wehadtobefunny #ontheinternet

    Tinder. This is an internet application that pulls information from Facebook to create the user’s profile, and then retrieves “matches” that meet their age/sex/location criteria. The user swipes the picture to the right if they find the other user attractive, or swipes to the left if they’re not interested.

    The Tinder concept is sick and shallow.

    Cheers to the glory days when life was simple and unplugged!

      Summer Reading: 9 Great Books that Don’t Require a Thinking Cap


      Best Summer Reads that Don't Require a Thinking Cap: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/06/best-books-for-summer-9-books/ ‎

      Last year, I made the mistake of trying to get through The Goldfinch during summer vacation. As Donna Tartt won the Pulitzer prize for this novel, I figured toting it around the pool would make me look sophisticated it would be worth the read. It took literally four months to get through all 784 pages of this bad boy, which could have been shortened 500 pages if Ms. Tartt wouldn’t have been trying so hard to impress readers with her verbosity.

      C’mon… get to the point!

      While the book had a great story (or three great stories combined into one book), I don’t want to have to put on my thinking cap when I’m doused in sunscreen, drinking a pina colada, and trying to prevent my kids from drowning.

      I got together with some of my favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs to come up with the best summer reading that doesn’t require you to think too hard.

      Casey of Fly Away with Me recommends The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. “I couldn’t put this book down one summer. It took me back in time immediately! It’s a historical fiction novel about the building of a cathedral in the town of Kingsbridge. It’s a long but heart-wrenching story about family, love, loss, strength, and the human spirit. It’s also a beautiful story about medieval architecture.”

      Kristin of Better Together recommends To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. “This classic is an oldie-but-goodie. It is probably my favorite book of all time, a spot it’s held since it was forced summer reading between eighth and ninth grades. I re-read it every few years, and I feel like I glean a little more from the book each time. The theme that resonates most with me is the main character’s innocence and naivety in the face of racial injustice. If only we could all look at certain parts of life through the eyes of a child. In anticipation of the July release of Harper Lee’s long-lost (and unknown until recently) second novel, dust off your old, highlighted copy from high school and dive right in!”

      Julie of The Bedford Wife chose Little Bitty Lies by Mary Kay Andrews. “I’m only halfway through this one, but like all of her novels. It’s easy to read and hilarious (just don’t be surprised if beachgoers look at you funny if you laugh out loud). The book is written around the life of Mary Bliss McGowan, a southern woman whose husband leaves her and her daughter, without warning- taking all of her wealth with him. To reclaim what’s left, she tells one little lie… that leads to another and another.” Julie’s favorite excerpt is “Mama always said the sign of a lady’s breeding was in her chicken salad. White meat, finely ground or hand shredded, and some good Hellman’s mayonnaise, and I don’t know what all. She used to talk about some woman, from up north, who married into one of the Coca-Cola families. She uses dark meat in her chicken salad. Trailer trash.”

      Morgan of Pampers and Pearls picked The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. “Set in South Carolina in 1964, the book centers around Lily Melissa Owens, a 14 year old whose life has been shaped around the faint memory of her mother’s death. She lives with her abusive father, and they have an African-American maid, Rosaleen, who is Lily’s best friend and “surrogate mother.” After Rosaleen is arrested for pouring a jar of dip on three white men, Lily breaks Rosaleen out of jail (really a hospital) and they decide to leave town. While hitch-hiking toward Tiburon, South Carolina, Lily begins a journey of learning both about the world and her mother. The Secret Life of Bees is a literary triumph about the search for love and belonging, and is a novel that possesses rare wisdom about life and the power of divinity and the female spirit.”

      Tracie of Tracie Domino Events recommends When to Rob a Bank… and 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. “This books celebrates the 10th anniversary of their landmark book Freakanomics as a curated collection of their best blog posts over the years. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. They ask and examine a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken? I like it because they examine every day life and provide fascinating insights about the surprising ways our world fits together. Each chapter is just a few pages, so you can easily stop reading between pool days.”

      Carlee of Crown and Ginger chose Tell All by Chuck Palahniuk. “Think Old Hollywood ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane’ mixed with the comical detail comparable to that of Chelsea Handler. It’s a story about a “seasoned” actress who is taken by a young, preppy buck who may be planning her demise, at least that is what her maid thinks. She narrates the entire story and believes this Gaston has planned many ways for her to fall and then sell her Tell All as his own. I love this book because, with my ADD, I need to read something that will hold my attention and not spend a lot of time in a scene or dragging out a setting. The author sucks you in, and you never have to wait for something to happen. Not to mention the amount of humor is enough to keep you bursting out loud on the beach this summer.”

      Julie of Everyday Happiness picked two books: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and The Husband’s Secret by Laine Moriarty. “The Nightingale is a heavy beach read, but full of romance and family drama with World War II history and it truly takes you to the place of these characters. I finished the book in two days, tears streaming down my face once it was over. It’s rare you find characters and a story with such depth.” Once you’re finished with The Nightingale and need something lighter, turn to The Husband’s Secret. “It’s a fascinating, engrossing story about Cecilia Fitzpatrick, who thinks she has the perfect life and family until she uncovers a haunting secret. I found myself wanting to be friends with Cecilia and also wanting to yell at her at the same time.”

      My choice: When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris. This collection of the best selling humorist’s [short-ish] essays are purely hilarious. The stories are based on the nuances of everyday life and are Seinfeld-esque. They include anecdotes about trying to make coffee when the water is turned off, having a lozenge fall from your mouth and into the lap of a fellow plane passenger, lancing a boil from someone’s derriere, and moving to Japan to quit smoking cigarettes. When you feel like you are engulfed in flames from basking in hot vacation sunshine, this book goes right along perfectly.

      Cheers!

      Disclaimer: some of the links in this post contain clickable affiliate links. This means that if you purchase a product from one of these links, TCS receives a commission. I believe in all of the products featured on this site and would never recommend them if I didn’t believe they were awesome.

        To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends are Trying to Get Pregnant


        To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends Are Trying to Get Pregnant; http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

        I am an open book.

        Someone: How are you?
        Me: Ohmygod, Arden woke up four times in the middle of the night last night, Elle threw up in her car seat on the way to school, when I got to work, my heel got stuck between the elevator and the ground floor, causing my foot to fly out of my shoe in front of a bunch of people, I had a strawberry seed stuck between two teeth all day and I couldn’t find any floss, some lady in a white Volkswagen Jetta cussed me out at the gas station because she thought I stole her pump, and so I got stressed and binge ate a Baby Ruth. How’ve you been?

        Someone is sorry they asked.

        While the dialogue above is generally light hearted, I’m equally revealing about life’s catastrophes. Little is left to the imagination.

        It took me 30 years to realize that not everybody thinks, acts, or processes life the same way I do. Some people don’t want to talk about obstacles.

        As my friends and colleagues have started settling down, getting married, and thinking about starting a family- or about extending an existing family- something I’ve struggled with is whether to inquire about their efforts to have a baby.

        I know an unsettling number of women who have dealt with infertility. Some of these women have had miscarriages, from very early in their pregnancies before the child had a heartbeat, to very late in their pregnancies when the baby had a name, a nursery, and the parents anticipated a future that would never happen.

        It’s heartbreaking.

        From a social [and perhaps moral] standpoint, it’s necessary to be interested in- and show an interest about- important things that are happening in other peoples’ lives.

        Mama always said that it’s better to be interested than it is to be interesting. 

        Notwithstanding, if I suspect, or specifically know, that someone is trying to have a baby, I’m often at a crossroads about whether to ask how it’s going. On one hand, I don’t want to not ask and seem like I’m uninterested in something huge that’s happening [or not happening] in that person’s life. On the other hand, I don’t want to ask and pour salt in the proverbial wound if the person’s childbearing efforts aren’t progressing the way they hoped. Overall, I don’t want to project an inaccurate feeling that I don’t care.

        According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infertility is common and defined as unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 12 months or longer. Approximately 10% of women between the ages of 14 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

        Before writing this post, I undertook a completely non-scientific survey of a bunch of girlfriends, all of whom come from different geographic, age, and educational ranges, to get their views on whether they want their friends to inquire about their attempts to have a baby. Here’s what I learned:

        Don’t assume that a woman who already has children is immune from infertility. Anna* [not her real name] has two children with her husband, and has been trying for a third for a year and a half. “What I hate is when acquaintances nonchalantly ask if we are having more children or make comments like ‘so and so has three kids… she must be CRAZY!'” Anna believes people assume she’s finished having children because she already has two, or that if she wanted to have more, getting pregnant wouldn’t be an issue.

        Most people aren’t eager to talk about their pregnancy efforts.  After suffering a miscarriage, followed by months of not being able to conceive, Casey finally had her first child a year ago. “We got pregnant so easily the first time that ‘struggling to get pregnant,’ wasn’t a consideration. After I had the miscarriage, I thought I would get pregnant quickly like I did the first time. When it didn’t happen, it was stressful and disappointing. I’ve always been a perfectionist and a workaholic, and discovered quickly that this wasn’t a ‘problem’ I could control or micromanage. That was the hardest pill to swallow. Given how much pressure I was putting on myself and on my marriage, it wasn’t something I was readily willing to talk about with other people. However, when a close friend did ask about it, I did see those chats as more of an escape than dwelling on something I couldn’t fix.”

        Know your audience. Elizabeth is currently pregnant with her first child, who was conceived with fertility treatment. She has many friends and colleagues who also experienced infertility and underwent treatment, some unsuccessfully. “Just like our chronically single friends don’t always want to hear about how in love we are, or all the details of the amazing wedding we are planning, our friends who are experiencing infertility may not want to hear about our pregnancy or baby all the time. Hearing about a friend’s baby can be a painful reminder of a life they want but can’t achieve. Now that I’m finally pregnant, I let my friends who are experiencing infertility bring up my pregnancy to me, but I don’t bring it up to them.”

        If you’re close friends, then it’s always ok to ask.  With regard to specifically asking about childbearing efforts, 100% of the women I spoke with agreed: if you are close enough to the person to know they are trying to have a baby, then you are also close enough to either ask them how they are doing or let them know you are thinking about them. On the same token, all of these women agreed they wouldn’t be offended if a close friend didn’t ask. “I know it’s an awkward subject that most people don’t want to broach, mainly out of fear of a potentially bad reaction from the person they’re asking,” said Amanda, who has been trying to get pregnant for two years.

        They also provided valuable information on things people should definitely not say to a person going through infertility:

        Be patient and it will happen. “I knew I would eventually get pregnant, but living in the moment, you feel like it won’t,” said Kate (who now has a two year old daughter). “I hated when people told me to be patient.”

        Just have a lot of sex. “This is probably the most infuriating thing to hear,” said Lauren, who has been trying to get pregnant for almost a year, who added, “it’s not that easy.”

        You’re probably not getting pregnant because you took birth control for so long. “Well thank you for that outstanding observation… please let me jump in my time machine and rewind the clock,” added Lauren.

        How old are you? Oh yeah, you’re getting up there! “Thank you Captain Obvious,” said Lauren.

        I had such an easy time getting pregnant, I didn’t even have to try. “People who make comments like these look like socially inept jerks,” said Ashley, who has been trying to get pregnant for four years and three failed attempts at IVF.

        I wish I could experience “trying” to get pregnant. See the comment to the statement above.

        Would you consider adopting? “People who are trying to get pregnant want to have a biological child. If and when adoption becomes their path, they will let you know,” said Elizabeth.

        If you’re at a loss for the right approach, sometimes the easiest way to show someone you care is by sending a text or an email that says, “Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you and am here if you want to talk or need anything.” This lets the person know you care without the potential difficulty of a face to face reaction.

        Special thanks to all the women who candidly shared their stories with me.

        Cheers!

          6 Things I Don’t Understand: It’s Not Just You


          FUNNY- People are Jerks! http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/05/6-things-i-dont-understand-its-not-just-you/

          Life can be confusing. The following are, in my opinion, the top 6 doozies.

          Acrylic Toenails. Apparently this is a thing. I didn’t know about it until I was at a “salon” around a year ago and witnessed one of the employees hacking away at an old acrylic nail so he could glue a new one to some lady’s big toe.

          It was like Tampa Chainsaw Massacre. Toenail style.

          I was really confused.

          Failed, Awkward Sarcasm. Sarcasm is an art. If not executed properly, it’s completely awkward and, at a minimum, rude. Example:

          Me: Excuse me, sir, will you please tell me where I can find a restroom?
          Sir: No.
          Me: Standing there, confused, not sure what to say, unaware of whether this dude is trying to be funny or if he’s just a jerk. 
          Sir: Laughing. It’s across the hall.

          I hate when this happens. Then I have to let out some insincere, fake laugh and I just want to ask the person why he can’t answer the flipping question like a normal human being in the first place.

          I was confused.

          Social Media Love Sonnets. “To [my husband]: I love you so much and am thrilled to have spent the last [x] years with you. I can’t wait to have our baby tomorrow, you’re the best person, I love sharing this journey with you, and I thank God for you daily.” 

          Huh?

          Isn’t this lady’s husband sitting next to her, watching reruns of The Family Guy, while they ignore each other because they are both on their phones? Doesn’t she live with him? Why can’t she text, email, call, or better yet, tell her husband these things? Face to face. Why’s it gotta be all over the internet?

          I’m so confused. While we’re on the topic of social media…

          Twitter. It doesn’t make sense. I can’t figure out how to make my “tweets” include a picture or how to tweet something in the first place and then make a lot of people discover my tweet so they can “re-tweet” it. [How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck…]

          This must be how my grandma feels when she tries to use an iPhone. Or send a text message.

          I’m so confused.

          Extreme Couponers. You know, those people who spend fifty hours locating and cutting coupons, only to end up with seven hundred rolls of toilet paper and nineteen jars of peanut butter after saving $15. Do the math. That was slave labor.

          The only way they will benefit from this is if North Korea drops a bomb and all the peanut butter comes in handy.

          You want to murder these people if you get stuck behind them in the grocery line.

          I’m so confused.

          People Who Spend Tons of Money on Weight Loss Pills/Shakes/Magic Ingredients and are Still Overweight. Get ready for it ‘cuz I’m about to save you some money. Pills, shakes, and magic ingredients won’t make you skinny. They will just make you angry and give you a feeling like you’re “riding in a Chevy and you feel something heavy.”

          They only way you will lose weight and keep it off is by eating healthy, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep. Shortcuts won’t work. Weight loss products and pyramid schemes are a gimmick unless they help you lose weight the old fashioned way [e.g.- by doing the three things I referenced above].

          Please don’t try to sell me a product by showing me a “before” picture that was taken with you pushing your gut out, and then another “after” picture that is essentially identical to your “before” picture, except you got spray tanned, sucked in your gut, and stood up straight.

          I’m so confused.

          Cheers!

            Liebster Award: Oh Goody, I Get to Talk About Myself!


            I started this little ole’ blog in January of 2015 and can’t believe how much my writing has improved since then. I laugh when I read some of the first few posts because of how formal and crap-ola they sound. I’ve grown as a blogger, mainly because I stopped caring what people would think and, instead, started caring solely about what I think. Working full time and being married with young kids has its own challenges, and I wish I had more time for blogging. One of my blogging buddies, Michelle of Grammie Time, recently nominated me for a Liebster Award and I was stoked! Thank you Michelle! And then I thought “Huh? What is a Liebster award?” You can find out more about it here.

            liebster

             

            First, 11 random facts about me: I went to law school (and hated it); studied abroad in the Netherlands at the same university where Einstein used to teach; recently went to Italy with my Dad (oh just wait… there will be a post about it!); have run three marathons; can do a goat impression; am an amateur photographer (read: wannabe professional); have a Barbie collection of nearly 100 dolls that I started collecting when I was 7 or 8 years old, all of them are still in their original boxes; speak-a a little-a bitt-a of Espanola; enjoy taking over juke boxes anywhere there is a juke box (I will injure anyone who puts their quarter in ahead of mine); grew up wanting to be a plastic surgeon until I realized that I suck at math; and sneakily hand my infant off to my husband every time I catch wind of a dirty diaper (because the last person who touches the child, cleans the child!)

            Michelle’s questions for me to answer: 

            How long have you been blogging and what made you start? I launched my blog five months ago and started because I didn’t have any meaningful hobbies and wanted a creative outlet to fulfill my passion for writing, connecting with others, and laughing.

            What is the best and worst thing about blogging? Best: Making new contacts and meeting awesome people from all over the world. Worst: Finding time to do it, battling writer’s block, and trying to create posts on topics that haven’t already been written about ad nauseam. 

            How long have you been married and where did you go on your honeymoon? Six years next month. We went to Kauai, the smallest, northernmost Hawaiian island. There was wine. Lots of wine.

            What was your career before you became a parent? A full time litigator. And now, aside from being a baby booty wiper, snot wiper-upper, and drowner-preventer, I’m still a full time litigator. Shoot me.

            If you could only wear one makeup item, what would it be? Fuchsia lipstick.

            Would you go out to dinner or a movie on your date night? Dinner. And I’d order a steak and drink lots of wine (see Answer to Number 3).

            Advice you would give to your younger self? Do what you authentically want to be doing, hang out only with people who will make you better, don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t take any crap along the way.

            What is one household chore you dislike doing? ALL of them. The absolute worst: folding laundry and putting it away. Second worst: unloading the dishwasher. Third worst: cleaning up the floor after my geriatric labrador has an accident.

            Your best Disney movie? The Little Mermaid. When I was a kid, I wanted to marry prince Eric and live in his family’s castle with Sebastian and Flounder.

            Coffee, tea, or cola drinker? Coffee. It’s liquid personality for me.

            Describe “YOU” in one word. Spitfire.

            This was fun! I list the following nominees for the Liebster award:

            Julie Borm of Everyday Happiness

            Casey McMillan of Fly Away with Me

            Julie Bedford of The Bedford Wife

            Julie Tingley of A New Happy Hour

            My questions for my nominees are (in addition to providing 11 random facts about yourselves):

            1. If you could take three people (dead or alive, famous or normal) on a trip around the world for a month, who would you choose?
            2. Would you rather have a leg growing out of your forehead or still be connected to your mother via umbilical cord?
            3. What are the things you love and dislike most about yourself?
            4. What is your biggest pet peeve in others?
            5. What do you think is the difference between serving others with an attitude of selflessness and love verses having people take advantage of you? (oh man, that’s a deep one!).
            6. Who is your favorite Disney villain?
            7. What song epitomizes your childhood?
            8. If your first name wasn’t already ______, what would you choose for it to be?
            9. What is the best and worst part about blogging?
            10. Have you received any negative blogging feedback and how have you dealt with it?
            11. What was your first car?

            Cheers to all the Liebsters out there!

              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.

                Stuff My Three Year Old Says: From the Mouths of Babes


                http://www.thechampagnesupernova.com

                The Honey Badger herself, when she was almost 2.

                Arden turned three in March of 2015, but has run the roost since she was just a couple months old. We knew that she’d be a spitfire but, given the choice, I still would have preferred a spitfire over a wallflower.

                I’ll likely be eating those words when she’s a teenager.

                As parents, part of our jobs is embarrassing our kids, usually not on purpose, when they get older. This entails showing up at school drop-off in our pajamas, answering the phone when their friends call, and generally just breathing and being alive.

                On the other hand, when our kids are young, we pray they won’t say anything in public that is mortifying or likely to get us shot. Like loudly commenting about the overweight lady eating a hot dog in her bikini at the beach. Or the stinky European guy at Disney with the long armpit hair. The list goes on.

                So far, in her first three years, Arden’s managed so say some hilarious things. Luckily, none have gotten us shot. Here are some of the gems:

                Arden: Mommy, what’s that mole doing on your chin?

                Me: It’s not a mole. It’s a beauty mark.

                Arden: No. Pretty sure it’s a mole.
                _____

                Arden: Mommy, can I wear this princess dress to school?

                Me: No. It’s a 5t and you wear a 3t. You can wear it when you get bigger.

                Arden: Okay. And when I get bigger, I can drink beer and wine and coffee.
                _____

                Arden: Mommy, put Elle’s hand on the stove.

                Eat Clean $30.00 Off
                _____

                Background: Arden and her girlfriend, Emerson, are each enjoying their own brownie sundaes.

                Husband: Arden, can I have some of your brownie?

                Arden: Hey Emerson, wanna give my Daddy a bite of your brownie?
                _____

                Arden [pointing at food that dropped on the floor]: Don’t eat that- it’s a casualty.
                _____

                Me, trying to diffuse a temper tantrum: Arden, stop the drama.

                Arden [dramatically]: This isn’t drama. It’s real life.
                _____

                My sister: Arden, what noise does a pig make?

                Arden: Oink, oink.

                My sister: What noise does a cow make?

                Arden: Moo.

                My sister: What noise does Kuma [our geriatric labrador, who practically has one paw on the plank of the rainbow bridge] make?

                Arden: pants heavily with tongue out.
                _____

                Background: Arden is in the car seat returning home from a trip to the grocery store with my mom.

                Arden: Grammy, I have to go potty.

                Grammy: You need to hold it for a little while.

                Arden [confused]: Do I hold it in my hands?

                Man, I can’t get enough of this kid.

                What are some of your favorite things your kids have said?

                Cheers!

                  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/

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