Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile

7th Jazz Brunch Birthday

Once upon a time my girls were happy, crooked smile, super cute, very confident little girls.  As my daughters approach their teen years the questions and conversations around their bodies, female celebrities’ bodies, models’ bodies in magazines and ads, has picked up considerably.  Middle school is a grand experiment in social dynamics and insecurity as 100s of kids enter (or don’t) puberty.

How could you not have bodies on the brain when change is happening all around you every day?

I have thought a lot about how to talk to my girls about their bodies, and how to answer their questions. The one thing I know for sure is that like most of parenting it’s about modeling the behavior you hope to see in your kid.  What that means is that I eat healthy in front of my kids, and have the occasional treat too.  I don’t talk about regretting something I ate, and I cook – a lot.  We talk about balance rather than labeling foods as off limits, and in the end, just try not to make such a big deal about it in the first place.

And I never, ever use the word diet.

EVER.

And then there is reality.  No matter what, tweenage angst is inevitable.  Frizzy hair?  Breakouts?  Crooked teeth?  Yup.  And we’re dealing with all of that too.  And wow, have products gotten better for all of those things since I was a tween!  Where was no-frizz cream when I was 13?

I also talk a lot about the value of a smile.  It really can light up your face, make you more approachable, and even change your mood – not an easy thing for a moody tween to believe.  And of course, if you’re self-conscious about your teeth a smile is the last thing you want to show off.

I never had braces.  The orthodontist said it was “optional,” which my 12 year old self heard as “not necessary at all.”  My parents heard it that way too.  But, I’ve never liked my teeth. They always seemed too big, and not quite straight, and, guess what?  My teeth have completely moved as I’ve gotten older, and not for the better! As I’ve watched my daughters teeth become perfectly straight and aligned over the last 2 years I have to admit I’d like to to follow their lead.

Every time I walk into the orthodontist’s office with my girls I have the same conversation with her – basically picking her brain about Invisalign since she’s a preferred provider.  I’m more than a little obsessed.

I’ve also now had two friends go through the process and I can’t quite believe how well it worked.  But it really did – without the metal mouth that there is no way I would endure at my age.

You can take the Invisalign Smile Assessment to see if you would be a good candidate for Invisalign – and to see the Invisalign results.  Plus it’s really cool to play around with the Smile Assessment tool and get an idea of what your teeth could look like!  I had a little too much fun trying it out.

I know there are a lot of moms out there who would love to be able to give this to themselves.  Or to their teen.  Who needs to have another thing to make the teen years awkward?  And who wants to be 40 with a mouth full of braces?  No one.

So, I’m really excited about this Invisalign Countdown to Confidence Sweepstakes.  They are awarding one winner $100 each day for 60 days plus a chance to win the grand prize: free Invisalign treatment and $1,000! 

1-WIN-INVISALIGN

You can enter every day at: http://bit.ly/1r4IkSH  But hurry because the sweepstakes ends November 13th!

And for more info you should follow Invisalign on Social Media:

Invisalign on Twitter

Invisalign on Facebook

Invisalign on Pinterest

I have a feeling that when my daughters finish their orthodontic treatment in the next few months I will be taking their place in the orthodontist’s chair!

This post was sponsored by Invisalign.  I was compensated for my writing, but as always the opinions and words are very much my own.

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

Top 5 Takeaways from Disney Social Media Moms Celebration 2014

When a conference is called a celebration you know there is something else going on.  I was fortunate enough to go to Disney Social Media Moms last year, and this year I went again, but this time to Disneyland in California.  And, since the celebration coordinated perfectly with my daughters’ spring break and Passover we decided to make it a real family trip and stay in Los Angeles to have our seder with all of our family that lives there.  It was Kismet.

I love Disneyland.  I love its charm, its uncomplicated, easy to cover size, and most of all its history.  I believe you can feel Walt Disney’s optimism and desire to build something really special when you’re there.  I hadn’t been to Disneyland since my daughters were 4 years old (8 years ago!)

IMG_0264

And I’m happy to say, my daughters still loved it, even as jaded tweens.

 

One of the things I love about this conference is that they don’t tell you the full agenda and all of the surprises that are in store while you’re there.  And, they include so many different facets of Disney – so there are always unexpected and interesting people and initiatives worth learning about.

Here are my Top 5 Takeaways from this year’s Celebration:

1.  Cars Land is spectacular.  No, really.  Ever wonder what it would be like to step inside an animated film?  Well, this is pretty much as close as you will ever come.  I recommend going at night when the full neon glory of Cars Land is lit up and you can be immersed in the 1950’s vibe.  The Radiator Springs ride is crazy fun – and the backdrop landscape of Route 66 is genius.

Route 66 Neon

 

2.  It’s not the size of the castle that matters…

3. It’s the character of the princess

One of the movies I am most excited about this year is Maleficent – and we got an extra dose of maniacal fabulosity at the celebration – and an extra dose of sweet from Sleeping Beauty herself, Elle Fanning.  She is as adorable as she looks…

Elle-Fanning blows out bday cake

photo by Josh Hallett

There is also royalty of a different kind – a CEO who built a business from scratch and is now using her success for empowering students and teachers.

photo by Josh Hallett

photo by Josh Hallett

That’s Chief Exec Bear, Maxine Clark, founder of Build a Bear Workshop, who spoke to us about teachers – good and bad – and the impact they have on children’s lives.  Hearing from incredibly successful women entrepreneurs is always inspiring, but there’s an even stronger impact when it’s someone like Maxine Clark who is also honest and supportive of other women entrepreneurs.  And I love that she started Build a Bear with an underlying belief that every child should be able to buy a basic bear and fill it with love.

4.  There is magic, everywhere you look.

 Like this unexpected surprise in the headboard at the Disneyland Resort

5. Everyone is creative

When you spend time with the people at Disney you quickly come to realize how incredibly talented everyone who works at Disney is, and how diverse those talents are. But, more importantly is this belief that every cast member has a creative spark that can be brought out.

One of my favorite videos to illustrate that is this one of the janitorial team making art with water:

These things are why this is not a conference, but a celebration.  A celebration of magic, family and inspiration with a big dose of serious fun.  And most importantly for those of us that write, or film, or share our stories, is this quote from Walt Disney…

 

 

Showing off our Disney Side at a Tweentastic Disney Tea Party –

Showing off our Disney Side at a Tweentastic Disney Tea Party –

I don’t think there is any bad age or best age for Disney.  The real magic of Disney is that all ages can find something fun, wonderful and plain ol’ optimistically wonderful to celebrate and explore.  My daughters never went through a Princess phase, but they did go through a fairy phase.  Even when my daughter dressed up like Belle for Halloween at 4 years-old she added a pair of wings…

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As my daughters have gotten older they’ve experienced more and more of the things that make Disney unique, from being able to stay up really late at Walt Disney World to the Broadway world of Disney.  So when we were given the opportunity to host a Disney Side party at our home we immediately brainstormed about what would be special and fun for them and their tween girl friends.  Given that we were throwing this event after school, a tea party made perfect sense – and one that could easily be made supercalifabulous enough for tweens.

The menu:

Cinderella Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

pumpkin chocolate chip bread

Belle Craisins® scones

craisins scones

Mickey Mouse shaped finger sandwiches (cream cheese and cucumber, tuna, and PB&J)

mickey mouse sandwiches

And of course, hot cocoa and tea.

The table was set for an afternoon of Disney fun…

disney side tea party

And then the fun began…

Of course no tween party is complete without some crafting.  The girls went to work on cutting, decorating and styling Hanes T-Shirts into personalized fashion statements…

It was great to get all these girls together and have them express their Disney Side!  Plus, that Mickey Mouse shaped cookie cutter makes every sandwich irresistible!

Want to learn more about Disney Side?   Check out DisneySide.com and DisneySideCelebrations.com and get inspired to show off your Disney Side!

I was provided a suitcase full of great supplies and ideas by Disney to create this fantastic party.  The ideas, opinions, and guests are all my own!

Inside the KidzVuz Holiday House Party (Video)

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

photo credit: Josh Strauss Studios

100 mom and dad bloggers from all over the Northeast  – and their awesome kids, about 140 of them! – came ready to party with KidzVuz in NYC on November 24th, 2013.  We had amazing large sponsors like Homewood Suites by Hilton, Dermalogica, Samsung, Nintendo, Hasbro, Spinmaster and Audible.com along with smaller NY based brands we love like Downtown Bookworks, IScream NY,  Battery Pop, Green Mustache, Fairway Market and Chloe’s Soft Fruit.  Plus incredible non-profits like The Broadway League, ESRB and The Lamp NYC.

With hands-on activities throughout the room, and video stations where kids could talk about the fantastic products and sponsors that they really loved, the KidzVuz Holiday House Party kicked off the holiday season with joy, fun and plenty of candy to go around!

Watch the video and you’ll instantly see why KidzVuz is the only company that truly brings kids, families and awesome brands and experiences together in a really engaging and unique way!

Braces, Brushing and Other Tween Tooth Issues (plus a Listerine Challenge)

listerine challengeMy daughters wear glasses. They’ve worn them since they were 5.  So when they heard they were going to get braces this year it didn’t go over so well.  Glasses AND braces – a tween nightmare.  But, luckily for us we found a fabulous Orthodontist, Dr. Jennifer Stachel – whose purple painted office, incredible patience, tween-erific assortment of cool rubber band colors, and all around great demeanor made the process not quite as traumatic.

girls and braces

She sent the girls home with a whole little kit of toothbrushes, bracket brushes, floss, wax, dental mirrors – you name it.  Because here’s the one thing that is overwhelmingly true once your kid gets braces – they have to super clean their teeth and gums, at least twice a day, or they risk serious tooth decay, staining and worse over the next 2 years.  Also, all that trapped food makes for horrendous tween breath.

Things went very well the first week.  The braces were new and exciting.  Teeth brushing with all the new little gizmos and doodads was kind of fun.  Then that wore off.  And we still had at least 104 weeks to go.  Not good.  So, we had to find some new incentives and new products in the arsenal.  Now we’re taking the Listerine Oral Care Challenge to amp up everyone’s oral health.

First, I scared my daughters with some facts like these:

  • There are more germs in your mouth than there are people on earth! 
  • Oral disease is now the most chronic childhood illness in the U.S.
  • Millions of children are suffering and experiencing pain so severe, it affects their ability to eat, sleep and learn.
  • As many as 130 million Americans lack dental insurance, including more than 15.4 million children.
  • More than 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental disease, leading to increased educational disparities and decreased productivity. 

So, after freaking them out, I also incentivized them with doing good.

For every person who signs up for the challenge, the LISTERINE ® Brand will make a contribution to help Oral
Health America’s Smiles Across America® program toward their goal of connecting 210,000 children with
needed oral health services in 2013.

I love the idea of kids doing good for other kids.  And this is a really easy way for them to develop better habits for themselves and give back to other kids who don’t have the same access to great dentists and Orthodontists like they do.

It’s still a battle to get my girls to carefully and completely clean their teeth and braces twice a day (I had to give up on the after lunch brushing at school.)  But, I’m hoping with the whole family taking this 21 day Listerine Ultraclean Challenge they will see that we are all dedicated to good oral health.  And by swishing and rinsing twice a day with Listerine, I’m hoping their Orthodontist will notice a difference too.  (I’ll let you know after their check up in a few weeks…)

You can sign up for the Listerine 21 Day Challenge on their facebook page to get tips, and an app to help you improve your oral care, and help connect kids with dental providers across the country.

I received products from Johnson & Johnson Healthcare Products Division of McNEIL-PPC, Inc. and The Motherhood as part of my participation in the LISTERINE® 21 Day Challenge. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Getting My Artsy Girls to Play Sports (Hint: It’s about the outfit and gear)

My daughters never liked team sports.  At 4, when I enrolled them in a kiddie soccer class they turned the goal upside down and declared it a spaceship, climbed on in and then proceeded to create a story about going to the moon that captivated the other kids and made it impossible for the 24 year-old coach to interest any of the kids in dribbling the ball through cones.  Needless to say, the other parents were not fans of my girls.

I realized quickly that team sports were just not my girls’ thing.  But keeping them active is important and we didn’t give up on finding sports that they would like and do well in.

Land sports – not for them.  But, luckily water is their thing.  Swimming, skiing, skating – if it involves some sort of water they are into it.

If it involves a uniform, costume or awesome gear then they are REALLY into it!  So, I was excited to head over to the new #RookieUSA store on Columbus Avenue on the Upper West Side to check out all the fab clothes and shoes.  And while my girls are not land sport crazy, we are New Yorkers and we walk everywhere, so my girls live in sneakers – and having a giant selection is just what we need.  They also started tween spin this year and are in serious need of some cute workout shorts that won’t chafe.

I have also found that I need to canvas a new store without my daughters for the first visit – otherwise it’s a frenzy of “I need this.”  “I must have that.”  A little preparation goes a long way when guiding tween girls through a merchandise heaven.   And merch heaven it is…

I ended up getting these super soft and lightweight Nike shorts for my girls that are perfect for spinning, and a pair of fabulous purple Levis jeggings.  You can see the full photo spread on my Google + post

Purple and aqua – that’s how we roll in our house.

This is a seriously welcome addition to the Upper West Side – especially for the jeans and sneakers.  I have to add that the customer service was incredibly lovely too.  Not only did a saleswoman help me figure out the sizing (they really do need to post size charts for that Nike stuff) the cashier signed me for the rewards program and gave me the discount even though I couldn’t find my $20 coupon.  That really doesn’t happen in NYC.

Plus, it’s right next to Michaels – so after stocking up on sporty stuff I can feed my daughters’ artsy side with crafty goods galore, and then grab lunch at Whole Foods.  Perfect Upper West Side morning.

Check out RookieUSA on Twitter and Like them on Facebook so you can know when the online store launches!

Leave a comment below and tell me what sports your kid is into.  The first 5 commenters get a $20 Rookie USA gift card! 

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Rookie USA #CBias #SocialFabric

The Digital Family Summit: A Weekend Devoted to Tech, Video, Social Media for Tweens and Teens!

At KidzVuz we believe that technology is not the enemy, and that our kids need the right tools and knowledge to become creative, responsible digital citizens.  That’s why we are so excited to be part of the first ever Digital Family Summit in Philadelphia from June 29th-July 1st.  The Digital Family Summit is an interactive, hands-on conference for teen and tween digital media creators and their families.  If you or your kid is interested in blogging, entrepreneurship, creating videos, games or animations this conference will help build skills and make connections that will take him or her to the next level.

We also believe that the Digital Family Summit is the perfect way to kick off your family’s summer so that your kids can apply the amazing skills they learn over the weekend all summer long, and have a technological leg up starting the new school year.  Plus, we hope that your kids will take this new-found video making and editing savvy and become a member of KidzVuz.com where they can safely create and share their videos with other like-minded kids from all over the country!  We will certainly be looking for future star reviewers in this fabulous crowd.

Now the fun part.  You can get a 25% discount on a family pass right now using code KIDZVUZ at checkout.  Even more exciting, we are giving away a Digital Family Summit Family Pass for you and your kids to attend!  Just click on over to KidzVuz Parents Blog and enter to win!