If God had a Score Card


Jennifer Burby and her family in front of the Biltmore Mansion in Asheville, North Carolina.

Jason and me in front of the Biltmore mansion in Asheville, North Carolina. Getting young children to look at the camera is a golden delight, let me tell ya!

For the last six years since we’ve been married, my husband and I have hosted Thanksgiving at our home. This has included various venues from our wee little rental on Davis Islands after we first got married to the “big kid” home we bought five years ago in a quaint little ‘hood in Tampa.

Hosting Thanksgiving is exhausting.

Especially because I don’t cook.

So what I mean to say is watching my mother cook a Thanksgiving feast is exhausting.

Phew.

To change things up this year, my husband wanted to spend Thanksgiving out of town and in the mountains. But this wasn’t just any Thanksgiving. My Dad’s 60th birthday also happened to fall on Thanksgiving day. So we called my sister and my brother in law, got them on board, and rallied our family to rent a home in Maggie Valley. The small city is nestled in the mountains of North Carolina roughly three hours north of Atlanta (depending on your speed) and 35 miles west of Asheville.

Maggie Valley was the perfect Thanksgiving destination because my Dad’s sister, Aunt Lynda, and some of my cousins and their extended families have cabins in the area, and they were also planning on spending Thanksgiving in the mountains.

Hot diggity.

It would be an epic Thanksgiving birthday soiree.

Instead of flying to North Carolina, my husband and I drove from Tampa with our two young daughters and an SUV full of junque. Essential junque, that is.

Goldfish crackers. Coloring books. Two packages of diapers. Feather down pillows. Blankets. A stroller. A large Vera Bradley duffel bag (hello- college!) filled exclusively with my cosmetics and hair taming equipment. Twelve pairs of shoes. Ten pairs of jeans. Boogie Wipes. Stuffed Animals. A DVD player. Except ours was broken, so we settled for my husband’s 20-pound old school laptop.

Fitting even another raisin in the car would have been challenging.

We were the Beverly Hillbillies Griswolds.

Articulating the nightmare associated with traveling 10 hours with an eighteen month old and three year old is another blog post in itself.

Use your imaginations.

The Champagne Supernova: if God had a Score Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/12/if-god-had-a-score-card/

Our cabin in the woods. If I keep telling myself I like to hike, maybe it will eventually be true.

When we arrived at the cabin at 4 p.m. the day after we left Tampa, we were greeted with three large packages on the front porch. The first contained a bottle of wine (my favorite!) and the second was filled with children’s toys such as crafts, coloring books and crayons, magnets, playing cards, Christmas movies, and a Barbie sing-a-long CD. The third package was The Grand Imperial Poobah. It included gourmet popcorn, a soy candle, Skinny Girl margarita mix, whiskey, maple syrup, pancake mix, assorted teas, hot cocoa, matches, nice-smelling hand soap, and stationery.

Man, I thought. These home owners went above and beyond welcoming us into their home. They didn’t have to do this. It’s incredible!

Suddenly, the cheapskate in me hoped the owners wouldn’t take the cost of these goodies out of the security deposit.

Then I opened a card that was attached to the wine bottle.

The care packages weren’t from the owners. They were from Aunt Lynda.

This was so typical of her. Always giving with a generous heart. Giving out of love and the sheer desire of pleasing others without expecting anything in return.

How many times has someone done something like this for her? It doesn’t matter because Aunt Lynda doesn’t keep a score card.

A couple weeks ago when I was sitting in the nail salon, I overheard a woman say she wasn’t attending a girlfriend’s bridal shower because that friend didn’t go to hers. Two years ago.

I also observed a work colleague get angry with another colleague who didn’t cover a court hearing for her after she did her a favor.

Neighbor A got fed up with Neighbor B for not bringing her dinner when she had a baby, after Neighbor A was the one who organized Neighbor B’s meal train when Neighbor B had her baby last year.

Guilty over here as well.

Hate to admit, but there’s been times when I have- or haven’t- done something for another person because I’ve been held hostage by my mental score card of what that person did or didn’t do for me.

It’s ridiculous, immature, and emotionally taxing. Nonetheless, I’ve occasionally tried to justify myself.

Then I got to thinking.

What if God had a score card?

What if He kept track of all the gifts and blessings He’s given to me, as well as all of the gratitude He received in return?

What would happen if God made his blessing contingent upon my good deeds?

I would be screwed.

Thank God (pun intended) He doesn’t keep a score card.

Look. I’m not trying to say we should set ourselves on fire to make other people happy. I’m also not saying we should let other people take advantage of us. What I am saying is that we should do kind things for others because we want to do them, and not because that person did or didn’t do something for us in the past.

On the other hand, if we choose not to do something for someone, it should be because we genuinely don’t want to do it. It shouldn’t be because that person didn’t do something for us, and we know this because our stupid score cards told us so.

As 2015 closes, can we make an effort to burn those ridiculous score cards?

Special shout out to Aunt Lynda for her kindness. She will never know how appreciated and special she is in my life.

Another special shout out to anyone who has traveled, or plans on traveling, with little ones around the holidays. May the force be with all of you.

And wine. Lots of wine.

Cheers!

The Champagne Supernova: if God had a Score Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/12/if-god-had-a-score-card/

Me and some of my cousins on Thanksgiving Day. The girl gene is coming on strong!

The Champagne Supernova: if God had a Score Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/12/if-god-had-a-score-card/

When you’re three, what is better than riding the ponies outside the grocery store? Nothing. The answer is nothing.

The Champagne Supernova: if God had a Score Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/12/if-god-had-a-score-card/

Hey, they aren’t arguing. I’ll take it.

The Champagne Supernova: if God had a Score Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/12/if-god-had-a-score-card/

    Snowball and the Instagram Snafu: Why Supportive Friendships are Essential


    Why Being a Supportive Friend is Important: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/11/snowball-and-the-instagram-snafu-why-supportive-friendships-are-essential/

    I got the call a couple weeks ago.

    Jen, you won’t believe this. Kelly UNFOLLOWED Snowball on Instagram.

    Anna, one of my longtime childhood friends, lives in Atlanta and has been trying for eight years to conceive a child. Eight flipping years. She recently started an Instagram account for her Siamese cat, Snowball, and posts an adorable picture of him once a day. Anna doesn’t have a child, so Snowball is her equivalent. She wants as many people to see and interact with her account as possible. With this in mind, the idea of looking into sites similar to https://buzzoid.com/buy-instagram-followers/ is the way she wants to grow her follow count. In all fairness, companies such as Buzzoid are there for that specific reason, so good on her for doing what’s important to her. If she finds herself too busy to engage with her followers she could use something similar to an Instagram tool to help her keep up with them. Seeing as everyone is pretty much on social media these days, why not use this as an advantage?

    He’s always doing something cute in the pictures.

    Wearing a tutu.

    Doing a trick.

    Licking his paw.

    Anna downloaded an app on her phone that shows users who unfollowed their social media profiles. Using this app, Anna learned that one of our mutual friends, Kelly, stopped following Snowball’s Instagram account. Hence the phone call. But who cares, Anna can just take a look at Upleap to gain more followers, losing one person over gaining twenty more means nothing.

    In case you’re not familiar, unfollowing is to Instagram what unfriending is to Facebook.

    Ouch.

    I’m sure Kelly had no idea Anna would ever know she unfollowed Snowball’s account. I’m also sure Kelly’s unfollowing wasn’t personal, she just wasn’t interested in seeing pictures of Snowball wearing a sombrero.

    What’s noteworthy is that Kelly is a travel writer who routinely posts pictures on social media of tropical and exotic places she’s visiting. Kelly recently opened her own online travel agency and has spent considerable time promoting it on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. I’m pretty sure she’s even used sites like Nitreo to boost her online visibility to potential customers.

    And here’s the thing. Anna follows Kelly’s social media accounts and “likes,” “pins,” and “re-tweets” almost every single one of Kelly’s posts and promotions for her travel agency.

    She promotes Kelly’s endeavors because she’s Kelly’s friend and she wants to be supportive.

    Anna likely doesn’t give a crap that Kelly is eating tempura in Taiwan (like) or hiking near Dudhsagar Falls in Goa (like, comment, share!).

    For Anna, sharing Kelly’s posts, or clicking the “like” button on one of Kelly’s pictures is her way of saying, “I acknowledge this and I support you.”

    Sometimes being a good friend is supporting other peoples’ pursuits and passions, even if they genuinely don’t make a difference in our own lives. Even if we don’t “care.”

    People can be pretty judgmental about what others post on social media. I say this because I’ve been judgy as well.

    For instance, I generally get annoyed when people upload pictures of themselves working out or, specially, bragging about the number of calories they’ve burned.

    The root of my irritation is jealousy.

    Jane Doe finished hiking the Appalachian Trial while I’m sitting on my couch with a red wine mustache after I’ve downed an entire box of Cheez-Its.

    And they weren’t even the “Reduced Fat” kind. They were the whole shebang.

    Jane, I hope you take your Lululemon pants and fall into a ravine. By the way, I burned 13 calories on my rotation from the sofa, refrigerator, and bathroom. So take that!

    People can find all sorts of reasons to be annoyed by other peoples’ social media posts. Job promotions. Selfies. Political rants. Dinner. A million pictures in a row of their children. Creative endeavors. Paintings and pottery. Family deaths. Monogrammed cups and towels for sale. Pictures of “success” stories from someone’s MLM business. (FYI, if someone finds a “stomach wrap” that’s totally legit, I’ll be all over it.) Philanthropic events and fundraisers. Pregnancy announcements. Newborn announcements. Engagement pictures. A new car or home purchase. Mushy gushy love sonnets to significant others.

    Nobody is immune from judgment.

    Why Being a Supportive Friend is Important: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/11/snowball-and-the-instagram-snafu-why-supportive-friendships-are-essential/

    You know what? People can post pretty much whatever they want on their own social media accounts and nobody really has the right to judge. And further, if someone is posting something that is a milestone or special to them, then as their friends (Read: true friends, not acquaintances we sat next to in middle school biology twenty years ago), it wouldn’t kill us to be supportive and acknowledge it.

    I’m not saying someone should feel validated by the number of likes or comments they receive on the Fakebook Facebook. I’m also not saying that clicking “like” on a social media post is the litmus test for true friendship. However, I’m saying that, when looking at the “big picture,” true friends should support their friends’ endeavors.

    This isn’t limited to social media. This is real life.

    Being a true, supportive friend, is being a friend who routinely shows up.

    As we get older and have more personal, family, and career obligations, “showing up” for good friends takes different forms. It means asking about a friend’s new job. It means making an effort to see their new house or their newborn baby, even if it’s “out of the way” and inconvenient. It means attending weddings (even the second and third), baby showers, and milestone birthdays. It means making a phone call or sending a text message or e-mail to congratulate them about a “big deal” accomplishment.

    And sometimes, even sometimes, showing up means liking the living bejesus out of Snowball’s Instagram pictures.

    Because, come on, seeing pictures of him snoozing on a windowsill are the cat’s meow. (I hate me.)

    True friends say, “this is important to me because it’s important to you. So I’ll ask you about it and show an interest.”

    What if we all supported people the way we wanted others to support us? Even if we didn’t necessarily “care”? What if we all showed an interest in things that were going on in other peoples’ lives, even if it doesn’t truly matter to us? What if we all showed our friends that something they’re doing is important to us just because it’s important to them?

    What would happen?

    I can tell you what will happen… a whole lot of love and good feelings would happen.

    Cheers!

      Grammar Matters: How to Avoid Messing Up Your Holiday Card


      Stop messing up your holiday cards: How to properly pluralize your name. Grammar matters!

      The inspiration behind this blog post came twoas I clicked “send” on my online order of Christmas cards and shuddered when I entered my credit card information to pay for them.

      Those things are flipping expensive. I even had a coupon! How did they still manage to cost a small fortune? Especially when facing the harsh reality that the recipients typically trash them once the holidays are over.

      Why do we do this to ourselves?

      Oh, for the same reason we send moving announcements and birth announcements.

      Because society tells us we have to do it.

      I digress.

      Which reminds me of a pet peeve that gets flashed before my eyes once other peoples’ holiday cards start arriving in our mailbox after Thanksgiving.

      Incorrect name pluralization.

      When this happens, I see the Smith’s (yes, I meant to do that) in an entirely different light.

      Homegirl has a Ph.D. in biomechanics but can’t properly pluralize her name, and now a hundred people (the number of holiday cards she mailed out) know about it.

      Le sigh.

      Look, I realize grammar isn’t necessarily my bread and butter and effectively puts a bullseye on my back anytime I mistakenly send an email regarding the resluts of a recent trial. Because my grammar isn’t the best, I can see why anyone who is looking to improve their english and grammar would check out something like Effortless English Club to help build their confidence.

      Whoops. I hate resluts. They’re so… gross.

      Or worse, if I send a text about taht bottle of cabernet sauvignon instead of that one.

      I can only hope my grammar snafus aren’t so public. Like they are bound to be on a future blog post because of the karma I’m putting out into the world just by writing this.

      Digressing again.

      Which also reminds me of Christmastime around five years ago where a handful of girlfriends and I were sitting around a table complaining about discussing mailing our holiday cards. One of the girls, we’ll call her Kathryn, asked me how many cards we ordered.

      I told her.

      Well...,” she said smirking, “we mail out [twice the number I said].”

      Congratulations, Felicia!

      Kathryn, among other reasons, is now an acquaintance.

      Digressing again.

      How to Make Your Last Name Plural

      If Your Last Name Ends with These Letters, Add an s to the End:

      a, b, c, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, m, n, o, p, q, r, t, u, v, w, y

      If Your Last Name Ends with These Letters, Add an es to the End:

      s, x, z, ch, sh

      The Critical Bottom Line: NEVER, EVER add an apostrophe. Ever.

      Here is a walk down Burby Christmas card lane. Please note my hoarding failed because I somehow misplaced the 2010 card and those schmucks over at tinyprints.com didn’t keep a digital copy.

      How to pluralize your last name in a Holiday Card | The Champagne Supernova

      How to Properly Pluralize your Name on Your Christmas Card: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/11/grammar-matters-how-to-avoid-messing-up-your-holiday-card/

      Probably my favorite Christmas card to date.

      How to pluralize your name on your holiday card | The Champagne Supernova

      How to pluralize your last name | The Champagne Supernova

      People sometimes ask where I order my holiday cards. Year after year, I get them from this site. The customer service and paper quality is bar none. (If you purchase cards through my link, I will get credit for the sale and buy you a glass of wine next time I see you!)

      Cheers!

      Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Love, the Burbys.

      SaveSave

        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.

        Gymboree: What's Your One Big Happy?

        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.

        Shop Tea Collection Today!

        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. I have a friend who’s from Europe and is a Cultural Care Au Pair for a working mom in the US. She tells me how she helps the kids with their homework, cooks, cleans, etc. She is often thanked by the mom for helping her manage because she “couldn’t do it without you!” It’s au pairs, family members and pre-school that really helps us working moms. 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!

         

          9 Things that Stink About Getting Older


          9 Things that Stink About Getting Older: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/9-things-that-stink-about-getting-older/

          Comfort over fashion, people! It’s comfort over fashion!

          One of my favorite games I play when I go out on the town with my girlfriends (ok, going “out on the town” usually happens once a year and involves going to one “bar,” getting tired, and heading home) is seeing whether we can “pass.” What this entails is faking that we are super young and hip and seeing if we can still “pass” for twentysomethings. My cover usually gets blown when I’m observed yanking diaper rash cream out of my purse to get to my lipstick, giggling when the bouncer asks for my ID, or grimacing when I see a legitimate twentysomething dressed in one of those “in” bandage-style dresses and her breast is coming out of the top. (Or substituting the word “breast” for boob, for another matter.)

          Does her mother know she looks like that?

          I remember high school like it was yesterday. I also vividly remember graduating from college, moving into my first apartment, and starting law school. All of those things happened between the ages of 18 and 23 and they don’t seem like long ago.

          I get it. I’m 33 and realize there are people older than me who are reading this post and rolling their eyes.

          Stay with me here.

          Aren’t we all going through stages of our lives where our bodies want to slap us and say “Snap out of it, you’re no spring chicken anymore”?

          Here, in no particular order, are the 9 worst things about getting older:

          Being Called Ma’am. There are two types of people guaranteed to call me Ma’am. The first is the fourteen-year-old supermarket bag boy who mutters this word (two syllables if you live in the South) while placing groceries in my trunk. The second is usually a receptionist at the clerk of court’s office.

          And it usually involves her copping a ‘tude about not wanting to give me records in a reasonable timeframe. She also pronounces Ma’am with two syllables and it comes with a side of sourpuss and sass.

          I hate it.

          I’d much rather be called Miss than Ma’am.

          Call me Ma’am when I’m in a nursing home, have false teeth, and need to use Depends. Not when I’m in my thirties.

          Matured Taste in Reading Material. Growing up, my parents subscribed to Reader’s Digest and I thought they were so lame.

          “How come they don’t exclusively read Entertainment Weekly and The National Enquirer?” I thought.

          Because they don’t want their brains to shrivel up like raisins.

          Don’t get me wrong, I still read US Weekly and was shocked, appalled, and disgusted when I opened my mailbox on Monday and saw the headline: Khloe Kardashian is giving Lamar Odom a SECOND CHANCE.

          What an idiot?!?!

          I just don’t want to read trashy magazines all the time.

          Crow’s Feet and Other Fine Lines. I’m bearing the consequences of my undergraduate days when I would tan on the sorority sun deck using either 1. pure baby oil, or, when I was feeling particularly health conscious, 2. tanning lotion with an SPF of 4.

          Whoop dee do.

          Now, I bathe in wrinkle creams. I practice smiling and squinting in front of mirrors to determine which pose shows the least amount of wrinkles.

          In the early 2000s, it was no secret that excessive sunbathing carried a risk of skin cancer or, at the very least, premature aging. If we were able to check out these sunbathing tips back then, I know a lot of people that could have benefitted from them. I didn’t care because the time when sunbathing actually impacted me seemed so far away.

          And here we are.

          Dancing Like a Mom. Oh Wait… I am the world’s worst dancer. I have no rhythm and it’s pathetic. Elaine Benes has nothing on me.

          I mean nothing.

          In high school, I quit the freshman cheerleading squad (which was completely unselective, as every person who attended “try-outs” made the team) because I was sick of seeing the audience’s mortified reaction every time I took the field and attempted to cartwheel.

          A for effort?

          My dance moves have gotten even worse as I’ve gotten older because my body has a hard time keeping up with the beat of the music.

          As if that really makes a difference.

          9 Things that Stink About Getting Older: http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/9-things-that-stink-about-getting-older/

          “You are the dancing queen… young and sweet, only seventeen…” Wait. Nevermind.

          Not Knowing the Words to Songs Because My Hearing Has Failed. I’m a former marathon runner (as in, my last marathon was ten years ago and I don’t think my bunions could currently sustain another 26.2 mile haul). To keep my mind busy during the tedious training runs, I would use headphones and jam out on my iPod. You know, those huge iPods that are today’s musical equivalent of the Zack Morris cell phone? Just strapping it to my arm was a workout because it weighed around 3 pounds. I had to rotate arms in order to avoid looking like Popeye on my dominant arm.

          I would listen to the music on the loudest setting possible. I think dead people could hear it because it was so loud. Ten years later, I can’t hear a thing. This also means that when I like a song, I usually misunderstand the lyrics.
          For instance, I spent six months thinking Taylor Swift was singing about “Starbucks Lovers” in her song Blank Space. You know, the ones who tell her she’s insane? This was until my girlfriend broke it to me that ole’ Tay Tay was really singing about her long list of ex-lovers. However, one of my friends did show me a tv ears review the other day. Like some other hearing aids nowadays, they can be connected to the TV and can enhance the audio so people with hearing problems can better understand. They could be of use, especially since my hearing has started decreasing!

          Having to Watch what I Eat. Getting older and having kids has negatively impacted my metabolism.

          It moves at a snail’s pace.

          Gone are the days of eating donuts, french fries, pizza, ice cream, and sugary cocktails without repercussions. Now I have to choke down salmon and gag on spinach. Muffins now equate to a muffin top. While one small bag of Cheez-Its formerly carried no ramifications, it now means a hundred sit-ups and three miles on the treadmill.

          Shut up, Jen, you’re thin. On any given day, I’m wearing Spanx that are so tight, I’m afraid my eyeballs will pop out.

          Bills, bills, bills. Getting older means making adult decisions, like putting food on the table and paying the mortgage or prancing up to Hermes and buying the Kelly bag I’ve always wanted.

          Ugh.

          Choice of Weekend Activities. The weekends of my twenties were planned months in advance.

          Flying to [a faraway city] with girlfriends. Trying a new restaurant with my husband. Adult birthday party ragers. Dancing the night away and going home at 3 a.m. Now, I’d rather drink wine and watch Netflix in bed.

          You can guarantee the only time I’m up at 3 a.m. is when my toddler is screaming because her pacifier fell out of her mouth or if I’m lying awake with insomnia. Oh, insomnia… another “treat” about getting older! And it feeds awfully into the increasing fatigue you feel as you age too. You find yourself online reading up about insomnia and come across facts like 33-45% of Australians are experiencing poor sleep and think ‘Hey, at least I’m not the only one experiencing the treats of aging.’ Maybe it’s time to consider cbd oil for fatigue, and for these sleeping issues too…

          Lengthened Drinking Recovery Time. [Mom, Dad, and Grandma: if you’re reading this, I’m sorry. I only know it’s true from that one time I drank that one glass of wine.]

          In my twenties, I went out 6 nights a week (keeping the Sabbath Holy, of course!). After a late night, I could wake up at 8 am, go to class, run a 5k, volunteer with Ritalin-infused kindergarteners, pump out a ten thousand word essay, and do it all over again. Nowadays, I think if I had three glasses of wine, someone would need to call 911.

          Something else I’ve learned (the hard way): Nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever worth having to take care of kids after a night of consuming too many libations. I don’t care what you did the night before. You could have partied at Studio 54 with Johnny Depp, taken a jet to Mars, and performed the electric slide with The President and it still wouldn’t be worth it.

          Y’all know what I’m talking about.

          Cheers!

            What I Would Have Missed By “Missing Out”


            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            The Entrance to the Everglades Rod & Gun Club

            Sometimes in life, we have to do things we don’t necessarily want to do because it’s better for “the collective.” This is true in all relationships: husbands and wives, friends, parents and children, bosses and minions.

            Bending. Compromising. Being a good sport.

            Let me share with you a time when sucking it up resulted in one of the singlehanded best memories I’ve ever had.

            As background, my husband’s been trying to get me to go fishing with him in the Everglades for years. He routinely attempted to talk me into it and, envisioning a landscape chalk full of marshes, tall reeds, and crocodiles [read: Hell], I’ve always dodged the bullet.

            Arden has gymnastics on Saturdays. She can’t miss it.

            It’ll be too hot on the boat in the summer.

            I need to get my hair cut and colored.

            I can’t go because I have to stare directly into the sun, gargle razors, and eat a raw cockroach.

            I didn’t want to go.

            The time eventually came where I ran out of excuses and was forced to agree to go with him. We decided to head to the Everglades during the recent Labor Day weekend, and the carrot my husband wagged in my face was that our dear friends, Darin and Robin, would share a cottage with us at the Rod and Gun Club, the hotel where we would be staying.

            Ok, so if anything else, Robin and I can sip cocktails by the pool while the girls swim.

            As background, the Florida Everglades are a natural, tropical wetland system that begins at the Kissimmee River (near Orlando) and discharges into Lake Okeechobee which, for all you non-Floridians, is the huge lake in the southern portion of the state when you’re looking at a map. During the wet season, water leaving the lake forms a river that slowly flows southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades have a wide range of weather patterns and the landscape includes a complex ecosystem including cypress swamps, mangrove forests, pine rockland, hardwood hammocks, and the marine environment of Florida Bay. The nature is beautiful and landscape rich in history, but the area is extremely remote and there aren’t a tons of non-outdoorsey things to do. As a result of it being so remote, the internet access here in general isn’t great either. I presume this is because there isn’t the infrastructure for broadband here. I’m still surprised at the slow speeds though, as there is satellite internet which provides decent speeds to remote areas. Reading from the Satellite Internet Now website, it sounds like more people here need to look at HughesNet plans ASAP.

            Let me be clear. It’s not the place for city slickers or people who enjoy the finer things.

            My husband is an avid fisherman who’s been driving down to the Everglades to take advantage of the good fishing since he was a youngster. It’s a four hour drive from Everglades City to our home in Tampa. Part of the fishing area is so remote that he had to buy a fancy emergency GPS to wear around his neck in case there was an accident because nobody would otherwise find him.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Everglades City, the town where we were staying, is located in Collier County and has a population of roughly 400 people. The nearest city, Naples, is 35 miles northwest. It is the source of 95% of the world’s stone crabs and its annual Seafood Festival is popular among the locals.

            There are a number of “Mom and Pop” hotels in the area, but perhaps the most notable is the Rod & Gun Club. Barron Collier, an advertising entrepreneur who became the largest landowner and developer in the entire state of Florida, purchased it in 1922 and turned it into a private establishment for his highfalutin friends. The Club’s hosted five presidents- Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon- as well as celebrities, to include Mick Jagger, John Wayne, Sally Field, and Ernest Hemingway.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            The Rod & Gun Club, as it sits today.

            We arrived on the Friday of Labor Day weekend and the hotel was not what I expected, based on pictures I saw on the internet.

            I felt like an extra in the movie The Land That Time Forgot.

            The city was pretty much a ghost town, and because August and September are considered “off season,” many of the restaurants and novelty stores were closed until the beginning of stone crab season (October). There were only three other restaurants open in the entire city, and they served primarily fried food. There was nothing green on any of the menus. I’m by no means a health food nut, but by the end of the weekend, I felt disgusting and never wanted to see another hush puppy in my life.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            This home across the river from the Rod & Gun Club is rumored to be owned by the Bic (lighter) family.

            The hotel was also a ghost town, with maybe a handful of other guests the entire weekend. From what I’ve read, a family purchased the Rod & Gun Club in 1972 and, in my opinion, have pretty much let it go. There is no “receptionist” and you’re lucky if someone actually answers the phone when you call. There’s also no answering service, so if you want to make a reservation, you have to repeatedly call until someone answers. This happened to my husband. There is a restaurant on the property, but the hours are strange, and sometimes the owners unilaterally decide to send the staff home if there aren’t enough customers.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Interior bar where Teddy Roosevelt would sip drinks and discuss politics. Photo Credit: Peter W. Cross

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Interior lobby area. Photo Credit: Peter W. Cross

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            The patio door leading to the restaurant.

            Oh, and they accept only cash.

            One highlight of the weekend was when my three year old locked us out of the hotel room early one morning. My husband and Darin were fishing, and, of course, the hotel lobby was closed and nobody was answering the “after hours” phone number. Surprise, surprise.

            Robin spotted a man driving by the dock with a “MAINTENANCE” magnet on the side of his pickup truck. I walked down to the water to speak with him, and he reeked of cigarettes and was sipping a Busch Light.

            It was 8 o’clock in the morning.

            Hair of the dog?

            The maintenance man couldn’t get ahold of his boss with the skeleton key, so he climbed into the unlocked window of our hotel room and opened the door for us. He then asked me to “put in a good word” about him to his boss. Which I did. Because I was dang grateful the dude got me and the kids back in the room, where there were diapers and air conditioning. It reminded me of how much work goes into keeping the optimal performance for an air conditioner going, just like how much work that man put in to help me out.

            It is hard to find things that come close to that feeling you get when you enter a room filled with air conditioning. There was a time when my friend had forgotten what it felt like, but that was all resolved when she found this ac parts jacksonville fl service to come and fix the problem. When it was finally working again, she also agreed that nothing comes close to this feeling. On a warm summer’s day, nothing can beat it, and just having the chance to cool down can help you stay productive during the day. I’m just so thankful that the maintenance man was able to sort it out for us. My friend was glad when I told her about this dilemma, as she has been having problems with her own air conditioning, and it reminded her to get in touch with a company similar to Indoor AC, in the hopes that they will be able to get her problem resolved. I hope they can, as everything seems to feel better when you have access to a fully-functioning air conditioning system.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Our cottage. Not pictured: the window where the maintenance man broke into the cottage because my three year old locked us out.

            In short, I quickly learned that sipping cocktails with Robin by the pool was a pipe dream. While there was a nice pool, there was no poolside beverage service and no pool towels, so we had to use the hotel’s bathroom towels. Which would have been fine, except there was no laundry person available to exchange our wet, chlorine-filled towels for dry ones. Oh, and the pool deck was surrounded by the hottest material- no clue what it was- but it felt like walking across hot coals.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            The front entrance to the Rod & Gun Club when arriving by boat.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by “Missing Out”- The Champagne Supernova http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/10/what-i-would-have-missed-by-missing-out

            I was initially mad at my husband and had a bad attitude. I’m wasting a three day weekend on this? How will we keep a toddler and three year old busy all day? What. The. Frick?

            Then something happened.

            I ended up having fun. A lot of it. I realized that after the weekend came and went, I’d likely have a pass with my husband for having to return in a long time. I could say I’ve “been there, done that.” And going back to the theme, I decided to suck it up and try to have a fun weekend with the family and our friends, despite Everglades City not being the first place I would have chosen to spend a long holiday weekend.

            Our last night in Everglades City, we had dinner at a local restaurant and decided to head back to the hotel. On a whim, my husband said “let’s take a late night boat ride, because the sky is so clear you can see the Milky Way.” Ordinarily I would have been apprehensive because it was late, the mosquitos were brutal, and the girls needed to go to bed.

            What the heck?

            Ok, let’s do it.

            So we drove the boat down the Barron River, stared at the stars, and listened to the Yachtrock station on satellite radio. Kenny Loggins’ This is It came on, and the girls danced around the boat, merrily belting out the “words” to the song. They were so happy and their joy was so pure. They were having a blast.

            I will remember that moment for the rest of my life.

            If I wouldn’t have agreed to go with my husband to Everglades City, I would have missed that precious moment.

            If I would have kept my bad attitude, I would have missed that precious moment.

            If I would have insisted we not take the boat out late because it was past the girls’ bedtimes, I would have missed that precious moment.

            I would have missed it.

            This got me thinking. What other great opportunities in my life have I missed because of a bad attitude? What other chances did I miss out on because I was selfishly unwilling to bend from the rut of my own comfort zone? What else was there?

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            The Barron River where moonlight dance magic happened.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Arden by the front entrance to the Rod & Gun Club.

            The Everglades Rod & Gun Club; What I Would Have Missed by

            Sweet little Ellison enjoying herself on the cottage porch.

            I hope I can use this experience as a reminder to lighten up and enjoy finding the beauty in doing things I don’t necessarily want to do. Otherwise, I’ll lose the opportunity for memorable experiences.

            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. I knew online dating was a thing and I’ve even heard about the more lucrative arrangements some seek, such as the sugar daddy and baby kind, but never Tinder. Perhaps I find the sugar daddy relationship more interesting!

              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. They also showed me how they can use a separate tinder search where they can find specific people on the app if they were wondering if they were on the app. Where was this when I was in the dating scene? It would have made my life so much easier!

              Another colleague was telling me how her ex had been caught using Tinder while they were still in the relationship. They claimed it was their old, inactive profile but Tinder has methods of reducing the chances of inactive users (click to read more) so they broke up because of it.

              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!

                Choosing Love: How to Do it When You Feel Like Strangling Someone


                How to choose love when you really feel like strangling someone | The Champagne Supernova

                I read somewhere that love is a choice.

                I think Ozzy Osbourne was the person who said it. Or Paul Newman. Or maybe it was Cher. Doesn’t matter.

                Love is the best choice.

                Until recently, there was one person on earth who made my skin crawl. So much so that even hearing this person’s name had a negative biological effect: my skin would sweat, the back of my neck would burn, my chest would get tight, and my arms became blotchy, almost like an outbreak of hives.

                Man, I needed to get a grip.

                We’ll call this person Todd. He and I were childhood friends who attended undergrad and law school together. We had a long history and spoke on the phone almost every day. Todd was one of my best friends. After law school, he moved to a different city and began practicing plaintiff’s work, ultimately opening his own firm as a sole practitioner. I switched firms several years into my career to a trusted solicitor like Aston Knight Solicitors and eventually found myself directly against him, representing a major retail chain in a personal injury case.

                Garden variety slip and fall. No big deal.

                Well, it wasn’t a big deal until several months into the lawsuit when I discovered his client, the plaintiff, made material misrepresentations to the court and to his doctors about his past physical condition and medical treatment.

                Liar, liar, pants on fire.

                As soon as I realized the magnitude of the plaintiff’s deception, I called Todd to give him a heads-up that I was going to ask the court to dismiss the case for fraud. I didn’t want Todd to be blind sighted. As Todd worked on contingency and would only get paid if there was a settlement, the court granting my motion meant Todd would receive a big, fat goose egg. This was after he already fronted thousands of dollars on expert witnesses and travel expenses. While I felt horrible about the situation, Todd should have done his homework about his client and, at the end of the day, I was ethically obligated to do what was in the best interest of my client. Otherwise, I would have been slapped with a malpractice issue.

                Instead of understanding my position, firing his client, and thanking me for sparing him trouble down the road, Todd was hysterical. He asked me to ignore his client’s deception, not tell my client, and that we settle for a nominal value. He wanted enough money to repay the expert fees and take a small amount for himself to account for the long hours he spent on the case. “Jen… I’ll come to Tampa and I’ll take you and Jason to dinner at a fancy restaurant…”

                I didn’t accept his offer, I won my motion, the case got dismissed, and Todd hasn’t spoken to me in five years.

                Five flipping years.

                Losing Todd as a friend was painful. He wasn’t there for the birth of my children and I wasn’t there for his. I found out through Facebook that his mother passed away and I swallowed my pride and mailed a sympathy card. No clue whether he ever received it. It was a sad situation but, because Todd lived far away and we didn’t have mutual friends, he was off the radar.

                Six months ago, I unexpectedly ran into Todd in the elevators of my building at work. Seeing him was shocking and I was stupefied. Probably too surprised to play it cool.

                Hey… what are you doing here?

                We moved to Tampa and I’m renting space on the twenty-third floor.

                It was awkward. My skin was burning. I was flustered, dumbstruck, and feelings of anger that were long off the grid reemerged.

                Do you also work in this building, he asked?

                Yes. On eighteen.

                Great, I thought. Now I’m going to have to agonize about running into him whenever I get on an elevator, when I’m in the lobby, or when I head to the parking garage. That’s a lot of times in a day.

                Ugh.

                We were cordial to each other but it was forced and inauthentic. I hoped that I wasn’t rolling my eyes or sending rude body language, even though that’s what I genuinely felt like doing.

                Truth be told, I wanted to push Todd right off the elevator.

                There’s more than 7 billion people in the world and the likelihood of having that “warm and fuzzy” feeling around each of them is low. Everyone has that someone (or two) they’d rather avoid. But for me, Todd was the Hatfield to my McCoy. The Ursula to my Ariel. The Al Capone to my Bugs Moran. The Biggie to my Tupac.

                I couldn’t stand him.

                As the weeks passed (ok, maybe months), my husband probably grew tired of listening to me bellyache about running into Todd at work. My friends likely wanted to put a muzzle over my mouth. My parents and sister were probably over it.

                You know what happened? As time went on, I got sick and tired over feeling sick and tired every time there was a scintilla of a possibility I’d run into Todd. I started avoiding going to the snack stand on the first floor because I was paralyzed with fear that Todd would be in the lobby getting his shoes shined at the same time. It was ridiculous and pathetic. Straight out of a scene from SNL’s Weekend Update where Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler incredulously ask “Really?!”

                I needed to get over it and move on. Todd had likely long moved on. He wasn’t freaking out about me. He probably was clueless I even cared.

                But how would I get over it? As a serial grudge holder, this was no easy feat.

                So I started doing something really weird. Something that would have creeped out my husband, family, and friends.

                Every time I started feeling angry and anxious when I thought about Todd, I would say to myself, “I love you Todd, and I hope you are successful and happy.” I started praying for Todd. Not condescendingly, as some people sarcastically declare “I’ll pray for you!” when they’re mad at someone, but I prayed for Todd meaningfully and regularly.

                When I began the mental “I love you, Todd!” chants, they were through gritted teeth. But after a while, it became a habit when I felt the nausea or hive-y feeling of anger creeping back in. This didn’t happen overnight. But it happened.

                Eventually, I didn’t care when I’d run into Todd. I wasn’t worried about going to lunch downtown and seeing him at a restaurant. Wasn’t freaked out about the possibility of waiting in line next to him at the dry cleaner or post office.

                Over time, Todd was just “somebody that I used to know”. There was no more anger, spite, or animosity. Instead, there was nothing except underlying feelings of love.

                Yup, nada.

                When dealing with people who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt you, love is a freaking hard choice. With Todd, there really was no choice because my only options were either wholeheartedly loving him or internalizing the anger I felt toward him. The second option was a waste of time.

                Todd, if you’re reading this… I love you, friend. Let’s get coffee. I’ll even treat! If you’re not up for it, then that’s okay too.

                Cheers to choosing love.

                  The “No Gifts, Please” Party Dilemma


                  Read about whether you should still bring a gift when the party invitation says

                  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. Anyway, people usually put that because they don’t want junk gifts that will clutter up their homes – but something like a Mug Photo Personnalis? © wouldn’t do that would it? It would come in good use if you ask me!

                  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. Maybe even a wooden watch or a funky neon sign that could be kept on the walls of our home bar, like the ones you find on sites like http://www.neonfilter.com to give him the similar feeling of getting drunk in an actual bar. I’m sure he would also want a 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). Except for wine, the neon sign and a stylish wooden watch, 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, maybe something fun and practical like these Custom Photo Socks, 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!

                    It Takes a Village: 6 Ways to Help a New Mom


                    On The Champagne Supernova blog: how to help a new mom after she has a baby! http://thechampagnesupernova.com/2015/09/it-takes-a-village-6-ways-to-help-a-new-mom/

                    Me and my mom a few weeks after I was born. 1982 was a good year.

                    I’m at a point in my life where it feels like half the people I know are either trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or just had a baby. That’s a lot of bambinos right there. Unless the mother is a close friend, I’m sometimes at a loss for how (or whether) to respond immediately after she has the baby.

                    Do I call right away? Will she be annoyed by text messages and e-mails? How soon is too soon to visit the baby? Will my attempts to give her space be translated into a misconception I’m uninterested?

                    The struggle is real.

                    I was a new mom twice. Unless baby Jesus makes a second appearance here on Earth, there won’t be a third time.

                    The chances of lightning striking my house or me winning the lottery are greater.

                    That said, I remember being grateful for all the people who reached out after my girls were born to lend a helping hand, especially when it came to getting the kids to sleep. All the advice I got about sleep training came in handy. There is no rule book out there about being the perfect parent, but as time goes on, as a parent, you just learn what works and what doesn’t. As my parents and in-laws don’t live in the same city as me and my husband, the help we received was valuable and didn’t go unnoticed.

                    If you want to reach out to a new mom, here are some original (and unoriginal) ways to offer your support.

                    Take them a Meal. If you’re a working parent who doesn’t have time to prepare a homemade meal, or you simply detest cooking, don’t be ashamed to order take-out. My go-to meal for new parents is pizza, salad, bread sticks, and a bottle of wine from a local Italian restaurant. Who doesn’t like pizza?

                    Nobody I want to be friends with.

                    Arrange a Meal Train. As most of the new parents’ friends will offer to take meals, this is a great way to ensure the food delivery is organized. Moreover, last mile delivery software has been instrumental in helping businesses in the grocery industry provide an extremely reliable delivery time for their customers. This is easy and can be arranged through a web site. Popular, free options include Take them a Meal and Mealbaby.

                    Caveat to moms: don’t be unreasonably picky about the type of food you want people to deliver and just be grateful. I once was invited to participate in a meal train that had so many unreasonable parameters regarding the time to deliver (15 minute window), days to deliver, specific food choices (read: filet mignon preference- literally!), and a request to coordinate the delivery with someone other than the new parents.

                    I was completely put off.

                    Take Their Older Kids to the Park. The only thing more stressful than having a new baby is dealing with older children on top of the new baby. Especially when the older children need to stay active and don’t enjoy being cooped up in the house.

                    One of the greatest ways to help new parents is keeping their older kids busy. Offer to take them to the park, library, or local swimming pool. This is mutually beneficial for people who also have older kids, as the children can play together. If you’re already driving to the park, what’s the harm in bringing one or two more people?

                    Pamper the Mama. Visitors typically take presents for the baby, but what about the new mom? Doesn’t she deserve to be pampered?

                    Yes, yes, yes!

                    Take her nice smelling soaps, a bottle of wine, bath salts, scented candles, fun magazines, or even a gift card for a manicure or pedicure. If you’re crafty, you can put together your own “care package” of high-end beauty products that are often substantially discounted at retail stores like TJMaxx, Homegoods, and Marshall’s. You could even buy her some baby prints to put up in the nursery, it doesn’t necessarily have to have a ‘pampering’ theme! Just treat her! Depending on where you live, a gift card for a mani/pedi combo usually costs $35 with the tip included. All of these items can be obtained with a subscription to the Pampered Mommy Box, which I love. (This is an affiliate link, which means I get a financial kickback with purchases. Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself!)

                    gift

                    Clean their House. There’s something peaceful about walking into a clean home.

                    Fabuloso brand floor cleaner. Mmmmmmm.

                    There are multiple jobs that always need doing around a house. When pregnant, a lot of these jobs cannot be done. Whilst some jobs can be done by hand, there are other chores that might require a professional service to complete them. One job that might need to be maintained is the cleaning of the gutters. This can be difficult to do, however, with the help of Clean Pro Gutter Cleaning Tacoma, this job can be completed to a much higher standard. By keeping on top of this job, it prevents a lot of future problems, such as damp and structural damage. Helping to clean a new mom’s house can be difficult, but it will be greatly appreciated. For other jobs, you can get together with other women to chip in for a cleaning lady to clean the home when the new mama is running errands. Depending on the number of contributors and the size of the mama’s house, this can be accomplished for around $20 per person.

                    Do their Laundry. This favor is reserved for only the closest of friends.

                    I get it, the idea of an acquaintance cleaning your husband’s sweaty gym clothes is awkward. However, as laundry seems to pile up and there are few things in life worse than having to fold and put away a mountain of laundry, this is a perfect way to help out.

                    Your help will be appreciated and will help lighten the load during the new mom’s period of uncertainty, nervousness, and insomnia.

                    Cheers to good friends!

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