Category Archives: Uncategorized

Get your Frozen on….also…a Disney on Ice Give-Away

Happy Monday everyone. I thought it would be fun to kick-off the week with a give-away.

In case you haven’t heard, Disney on Ice Frozen is coming to the Patriot Center next month. Word on the street is tickets are going fast….so today is your lucky day. As my loyal readers know, each October I trek to the Patriot Center in Fairfax and each year I vow it will be the last time I do so, despite our love for all things Disney and Disney on Ice.  Usually it’s the rush hour traffic, one year it was the Obama presidential campaign stop on the campus of George Mason at the same time and date of our show – seriously – what are the odds?

Last year again, I vowed, never again.

Until the email landed in my inbox indicating that this year’s show is FROZEN.

Umm….Olaf?  Sven? What?

DisneyonIce_Frozen_LogoWho can say no to our beloved Frozen friends? I can’t. I thought about it but I can’t.  In the event you’re wondering if the show is exclusively just Frozen, as my eldest wondered, the answer is no, no it is not. The Feld Entertainment Disney on Ice press release indicated that Disney princesses and characters from Finding Nemo, Toy Story and The Lion King are also part of the show.

Here are the details:

The show will be at the Patriot Center from October 22-27th. Ticket prices range from $20 – $85 and can be purchased here. I’d recommend doing that soon.

How about that give-away? Frozen_Ticketmasterimage

I have 4 tickets for the Monday October 27 show at 7pm. You can enter to win simply by posting a comment to my post about this on the Wired Momma Facebook page. You have until next Monday, September 29, to comment on the FB post. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday September 30, also on Facebook.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: Feld Entertainment invited me and my family to be guests of the show but my opinions here are all my own.

Daycare? Preschool? Does searching spiral you over the edge?

Nothing like a #PolarVortex closing school or what feels like almost weekly snow days to bring the stress and worry over child care to the forefront to most parent’s minds. Today seems like the perfect day, then, to share with you the inaugural guest post for WM in 2014, written by one of my favorite area bloggers, Laura Harders from Beltway Bargain Mom. There are a few things I particularly like about Laura’s post. First, it’s practical – Laura is sharing with us a service that almost every single one of us might need. Second, the service was founded and started by a local DC area mom. Those of you who read me regularly know that I particularly love supporting small locally owned female businesses. And finally, even if you don’t need these services, you might be inspired because this is also the story of a local area mom who saw a need, in part because she is a mom, had her “aha” moment and then seized it by starting a new business.

Read on friends and thank you Laura, for this invaluable information!

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29 CLWhen it comes to your kids, you want the best. As a parent, it’s okay to be picky and want to research everything down to a “T”. Admit it. You’re the parent who always needs to know. You research the type of food your kids eat, the toys they play with, the activities and places you go. You read through all the online reviews of kid gear before you buy it. It’s in your nature — and really a part of your job description as a parent — to make sure your kids are safe, learning and thriving.

 When local mom Evgeniya “Jen” Usmanova decided to return to work after having her second child, she embarked on the journey to find a quality day care provider. Jen and her husband Patrick Matos have two small girls and had a long list of criteria that the perfect-for-their-family childcare provider should have. And not just the standard requirements that all parents want, like a licensed caregiver, clean facility, safe, responsible and happy staff. But also more specific items that were important to them: Close proximity to their home or workplace, longer hours of operation due to the demands of their jobs, specific programs introducing foreign language and culture at a young age — crucial for their trilingual family, which speaks English, Russian and French — and so on. Jen ended up spending months researching, calling, compiling key info and personally vetting day care options here in the greater DC area. It was a lengthy and labor-intensive process, and she ended up visiting 16 different child care centers before deciding on one that was the best fit for her family.

 Jen had her “aha” moment when talking with other parents about their journey of selecting a day care provider and preschool. She realized she wasn’t alone; researching and finding all the important information on day care and preschools is a painstaking process. There’s a lack of information online: few websites share tuition rates, hours of operation and specific information on program and curriculum. Parents feel the pressure of finding a nurturing and healthy environment for their child that meets their family’s unique needs and criteria, while juggling everything else in their normal, busy life. They need a resource to help organize and streamline the research process, which is honestly a daunting task for most moms and dads. Unless you’re a parent who loves spending hours scouring the internet, making calls and physically visiting numerous facilities… I’m guessing you have other ways you’d rather spend your time. And in this digital age, Jen was surprised that there wasn’t already a website that was catered toward parents searching specifically for day care and preschool options, which provided accurate and thorough information.

And so the idea for CareLuLu was born. Jen and Patrick teamed together with IT guru Gabriel Marques earlier this year to launch a web-based CareLuLu Logoplatform to help simplify the child care search for other parents. Those months of research and frustration in their own day care search, fueled their new company’s mission to create a solution for parents.

CareLuLu.com currently covers the Washington, DC market with plans to expand in the near future. It is an innovative idea: a free online resource to help parents find the perfect day care or preschool for them. The site is perfect for parents returning to work after a new baby, as well as families new to the area seeking day care providers, parents looking to switch child care facilities, or really any parent looking for local, real-life reviews of preschools and day care providers. CareLuLu aims to help alleviate the stress and simplify the child care research/interview process, by doing all the research for you and collecting all the data, along with real-life reviews, into one user-friendly platform. You can find all the important information and compare services among local providers matching criteria that matters to you. Some of the 30+ unique search factors that can help narrow down your search include: tuition prices, distance from your home or workplace, hours of operation, languages spoken, amenities, programs offered, age groups, special needs, peanut-free facilities, tree-nut free facilities, part-time of full-time, meals included, transportation offered, extra curricular activities, and more. Plus, you can use CareLuLu’s convenient online booking tool to schedule a tour of your top day care facilities.

Considering the theme of Wired Momma for 2013 was the importance of “me time”, I’m thrilled to share a free, online resource that helps parents perform a customized search and cut down on the amount of time researching day care and preschool options. Here in the tech-savvy DC area, I have a feeling moms will love this new online tool.

Any site that makes life easier for moms and enables more “me time” is winning in my book!

 To connect with CareLuLu and find or review a day care or preshool, join their growing community:

Online: http://carelulu.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Carelulu

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mycarelulu

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mycarelulu/

Blog: http://carelulu.tumblr.com/

 About the Author: Laura Harders is a part-time working mom of two who blogs at Beltway Bargain Mom. She enjoys sharing her family’s frugal adventures, free resources, and ways to save money while having fun here in our nation’s Capital.

 

2014: The Official WM Resolution Guide

Happy New Year dear readers! Those of you who have been loyal readers for a few years know that each year, I dedicate a central theme for the WM blog for that year. It’s the annual WM resolution. The first year’s theme was Moi Loves Moi. Taking a page out of moi’s hero’s playbook, Miss Piggy, we all spent less time disparaging and criticizing ourselves in our heads that year and instead focused on what was fabulous about ourselves.

Hopefully moi still loves moi, yes?

No one does Moi loves Moi better than Piggy

No one does Moi loves Moi better than Piggy

2013 brought a theme of moi-time. The hope or aspiration was to recognize that we each need moi time in order to remain sane and nice – not to mention we deserve moi-time  – and hopefully we set out carving out some much-needed time for ourselves. Sometimes moi-time for moi came in the form of running an errand solo. It wasn’t all about bubble baths, spa time and vacation without children (dream the impossible dream!!).

With that, I bring you the new theme for 2014. Pray tell, how can we possibly improve ourselves any  more, you are surely asking, after all, moi loves moi and moi spent a year giving herself moi-time…. Or rather, if you’re anything like me, you’re barely picking yourself up off the ground in a frazzled state of exhaustion, thanking the heavens that we don’t have another holiday season to contend with for another 12 months. Now that is a gift, isn’t it?

Seriously – what could be next in WM-land.
First hint, it’s always about ourselves – not the children.

Second hint, it’s always about confidence.

Final hint, it’s about owning things.  In the abstract….meta…..not literally owning crap.

okay, okay, let’s give you one more hint…..does any of the below sound familiar:

“I’m so sorry it took me so long to email you back….but…..”

“I’m so sorry, I just don’t think we can make it to Junior’s party because we have 4,323 other activities booked at the exact same time.”

“Thanks for coming over for dinner, I’m so sorry I didn’t have time to make the pasta myself, I just had to stop at Trader Joe’s and get this”

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t have time to…”

“I’m so sorry I didn’t call you back yet…”

See her. She's why we all need Moi-Time

See her. She’s why we all need Moi-Time

Do you know her? Does she sound familiar to you?

That right there is the 2014 WM Theme. STOP with the “I’m sorry.”

Enough already.

Did your best friend walk in and find you in bed with her husband?

Okay, maybe you should apologize, though that won’t help.

Did you run over your  neighbor’s cat?

You should apologize.

Did it take you 2 weeks to respond to your friend’s email?

Did you buy pre-made food at the grocery store instead of making it from scratch?

Did you cancel plans at the last-minute because your kid got horribly sick and kept you up the last 3 nights?

Quit with the apologies. No one thinks we’re all lounging around on beach chairs sipping Mai Tai’s in Miami.

Our girl Meryl in A Devil Wears Prada is the #SorryNotSorry inspiration. That's a woman who doesn't apologize for nonsense. Photo Credit: http://silverfoxes.provocateuse.com/show/meryl_streep

Our girl Meryl in A Devil Wears Prada is the #SorryNotSorry inspiration. That’s a woman who doesn’t apologize for nonsense. Photo Credit: http://silverfoxes.provocateuse.com/show/meryl_streep

Though if you are, good for you, no need to apologize for that either.

#SorryNotSorry

Just stop saying it. I dare you to just email someone back without apologizing for it. I dare you to just buy the food you need for dinner or just turn down the 10,000th bday party invitation for next Saturday because instead you need a day in your PJs with your family. Because chronic apology lady is chronic stressed out about her life lady. And that’s not awesome.  Honestly, it’s somewhat pathetic. We are better than that.

Take it from the Ice Queen, our beloved Meryl, in A Devil Wears Prada. She wasn’t walking around pathetically apologizing to anyone. Just own it, sister.

#SorryNotSorry

Note: I officially started deploying this resolution by not doing what my good friend Vanessa noted I always do when it’s been a while since I last blogged. She said I start off with an apology for my absence. She noted it’s jarring because it’s not necessary. I never knew this. She is totally right. You guys were busy. I was busy. Why am I apologizing? So I won’t. Neither should you.

#NotSorry

Can you take on this resolution with moi?  I’d especially love to know when you actually go out of your way to NOT apologize because we all know when we do it. We know when we’re about to let those dumb words come out of our mouth. Save it for when you need to actually say it.

With that, Happy New Year!  Oh, and be sure to hit “Like” on the WM Facebook page or find me on Twitter @wired_momma or Instagram @wiredmomma – otherwise you probably will be sorry.

#MoiLovesMoi

#YouNeedMoiTime

#SorryNotSorry

 

 

On loss, prematurity & early labor

November is Prematurity Awareness Month &  according to the March of Dimes, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely in this country. That figure really surprised me but I’m not sure why it did. I went into labor at 35 weeks with my oldest, for no reason that anyone could figure out, and she was born hours into the first day of my 36th week. We were tremendously lucky that she was born healthy and was able to go home with us on time but we all know someone who has been touched quite seriously by prematurity. Personally, I have a few very good friends who each have lost a child before going full term and one who had a premature baby a few months ago. I would imagine we all have been touched by prematurity at some point.

The beautiful Bowen family.

The beautiful Bowen family.

Today I’m proud to share with you an interview with Tiffany Bowen. Tiffany is a local DC area mom who also happens to be married to Redskins Captain Stephen Bowen. Despite having all the resources available to her  during her pregnancy with twins Stephen and Skyler, Tiffany faced a tremendous loss. My interview with her today is a recap of our totally honest and really insightful conversation over a great lunch a few weeks ago.

Eight years into parenting, I can tell you one thing for certain and that is: I am quite certain that it’s Murphy’s Law for Moms that the shit hits the fan when your partner is traveling. In Tiffany’s case, she abruptly went into labor with her twins at 24 weeks, with a 2 year old at home, when her husband was out of town.

During our lunch, Tiffany explained that 24 weeks is the first week a baby is viable outside the womb and when she went into labor, she was given the option of doing anything to keep her babies alive or letting nature take its course.

Just consider even facing that decision for one minute.

Tiffany wanted to do what could be done to save the lives of her twin baby boys and so her path began.  In the end, she lost one son, Skyler, after 10 days and her other son, Stephen, is now a happy, thriving two-year old. While this was happening, she had a two-year old daughter at home. She spoke so candidly and openly about this experience.

As I drove to our lunch, I considered many of the hurdles and challenges facing parents who have a very premature child. Every story and experience is different but I had to imagine that many of the feelings that come with this horrible experience must be the same.  One thing that struck me must be this overwhelming feeling of guilt or responsibility facing a mother in early labor, even though others can look in and recognize it is beyond her control. I asked Tiffany about this. She said she of course felt guilty and was searching for answers, noting that she never drank in pregnancy, she took care of herself, and she had access to excellent medical care and despite all of it, her body still went into labor. When I asked her what advice she has for other mothers in this situation, she quickly recommended counseling for both parents and even sometimes for a sibling if they’re old enough. She also said that if you are spiritual, you have to pray. In the end, there is no explanation for why her body went into labor and there can be unexplained causes of prematurity. I would think not having answers can make a difficult situation even more stressful.

Then I asked her what it’s like for her when people ask her how many kids she has, something else I considered on my drive to our lunch. I wondered what I would say and how just being asked a simple question must surely be a painful reminder for many many families of a horrible loss. She noted that she still struggles but when asked, she responds that she has three kids and one is deceased. She said he lived for 10 days online pharmacy before he died, she wants to honor his time. Knowing that others can be awkward and unsure of what to say when faced with someone in grief, I pointedly asked her about that experience and she was very honest and said it was horrible for her when people acted like it didn’t happen or suggested that one kid replaces another with the “Thank God you had twins” comment or “God Knows Best.”  She said another comment that she doesn’t care for is “God needed an angel.” Her response? “I needed my child more than God needed an Angel.”

Bottom line, Tiffany’s advice is the best thing you can say is “I’m here for you, what do you need” or “I’m so sorry this happened.” And for family and friends to insist on helping, even if it means dropping off meals.

I asked her about her marriage and how stressful this must have been for her and her husband. Again, her honesty amazed me. She noted that everyone doesn’t grieve the same way and said her husband cried once and she wanted him to keep on crying. She said for a few months, she couldn’t listen to TV or music, she just wanted silence. One day, they were driving somewhere and her husband turned on the radio and she was furious, she couldn’t believe he could just turn on the radio but her way of grieving just was not his way. In addition to losing her son, she also lost her Grandmother and her mom to muscular dystrophy, in the span of just a few months.

SkylersGift_logo187x136It’s what Tiffany has since done with her grief that I think deserves some real attention. While she was in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital with her sons, she began to learn that many people can’t afford to bury their babies and she was struck with the very real pain that mothers must feel if they leave the hospital without their baby and they can’t even leave with the baby’s remains. It was news to me that there are mass cremations for premature babies when the parents cannot afford a burial. Tiffany and her husband have since started Skyler’s Gift, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping support families during this time of loss by paying for the baby’s funeral.

Tiffany explained that though it’s been around for just over a year, they’ve already assisted with the burials of 30 babies and were March of Dimes ambassadors last year due to the amount of money they raised for the organization.  She can rattle off chilling facts and figures, like the average cost for a baby’s burial is $1500 and large companies in the United States want to give grants to organizations helping babies but for babies who survive, not for babies who have died, meanwhile the health and viability of Tiffany’s important work through Skyler’s Gift ultimately relies on grants from organizations, along with donations from individuals.

Tiffany is a passionate advocate for families facing loss in prematurity and for prematurity research. The way she has channeled her grief into action is really inspiring. You can read more details about her story here. November 17 is World Prematurity Day and while organizations around the country work to draw attention to this issue, I hope you’ll consider donating to Skyler’s Gift. Every single bit helps.

What spending time with Tiffany does is remind me of the power of a mother and how motivated we all are to do whatever we can to protect our babies. I’m inspired by her strength and passion. You can follow Tiffany on Twitter here or even better, support the organization by attending the second annual Skyler’s Gift Bowl-A-Thon in downtown DC at Lucky Strike in May. By purchasing a ticket, you’ll be supporting Skyler’s Gift and have the chance to bowl with NFL players. This is a great way for football fans to hang out with some of their favorite players while supporting such a great local cause, including individual ticket prices or corporate donations.

Thanks to Tiffany for her honest and tireless work for families across the country.