Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mom in the Spotlight: Rockstar Blogger, Meredith Spidel

 Yeah, I AM The Mom of the Year!
Here's why...
Meredith Spidel blogs at The Mom of the Year, dedicatedly earning her title one epic parenting fail at a time.  When her kids aren't busy pummeling each other with legos or requiring their 16th sippy cup refill of the day, she tries to offer quick, relatable laughs for fellow parents of the world and all their empathizers.  She remains entirely terrified by crafts, promises to never share any useful household tips, and is fully committed to a less serious look at the world of parenting.

Follow Meredith on TwitterFacebook and Pinterest!

How old are your children?  Boys? Girls?
I have two children.  A 3 1/2 year old boy and a 1 1/2 year old girl.

What were your plans for working once you became a mom?
I had never originally planned to be a SAHM.  I was working as a social worker and after I got pregnant, we sat down and punched the numbers for daycare.  We realized my net earnings would be next to nothing.  We also have no family close and my husband works long hours, so I would have to figure out a job that allowed me to do all the pick-ups, drop-offs, sick days, etc., so it would have been really hard.

It is still so difficult to make ends meet, but we really work to be creative about ways to save money.  It's also important for us to accept this is our season of life right now.  Maybe someday there will be more vacations or dinners out, but we're so tired running after these kiddos, the energy for going out is pretty limited anyway ;)

What powerful force or idea within pulled you into the blogosphere? 
I was going through a pretty eventful time.  My daughter was just born, my grandmother had just passed, my sister got married, we had some financial issues, and my mom was dying.  I had never considered starting a blog before, but one day something sort of snapped, if you will.  I picked up my laptop and started writing.  I believe God gave me this outlet to process what was going on around me, and it was wonderful!

How long have you been blogging?  Where do you want your blog to go?  
I have been blogging for almost a year and a half.  I have no idea where I want it to go!  I have been totally thrown by the amount of work it takes to keep up with it, but it has been such a huge blessing in so many ways.  Many days it feels like a job, but there are also loads of moments that it is pure fun.  I don't have more time to make it bigger or try to write for other outlets right now, so I think I will continue with it until I feel firmly called to stop.  Or maybe in the future, more doors will open?  I'm trying to just remain accepting of wherever it goes.

What is your relationship to blogging?  Is it more like how one feels about a Cheetos addiction  or a yoga habit?
I don't do yoga and I try not to let myself eat Cheetos, so I don't know!  Somedays I love it, some days I hate it.  I do believe it is something I am supposed to be doing right now, so I am trying hard to balance the time commitment with the rest of life and not get  too swallowed up in it.

Your best FML Mommy moment?
I am so lame, I had to look up what this meant!  Oh gosh, can I say every day?  I 100% do NOT have a handle on this motherhood thing.  I am the mother chasing after her shoeless screaming toddler in the preschool parking lot in the middle of winter.  I like to say I earn my Mom of the Year title one epic parenting fail at a time.  

Most recently, when my son got into a tube of Vaseline when he was supposed to be napping and smeared it all over his hair, the bedding, and the carpet, I screamed, freaked out and told him that he had to get back in bed and not move while I cleaned it up or I was going to call the police.  I though that was a pretty rockstar moment.

You go into a Gap that has women's and kids clothes.  Do you treat yourself or the kids? 
The kids.  I'm a psycho bargain-hunter, and could never justify the prices unless something was actually NEEDED.  My clothes might be so "last-year", but they still fit!

What would you like to change the most about your parenting style?
I want to be calmer, more relaxed.  I hate being this busy all the time!

Speaking of guilty pleasures, what are a few of yours?
Star magazine, Diet Coke, wine and pretending my son is napping so I can blog (thus the Vaseline incident).

What advice would you give to mom bloggers? 
I am trying too hard to figure out balance, so I don't think I'm qualified to advise anyone!  I do know that I keep trying to focus on what is really important in this life.  I think that looks completely different for everyone, but I never want to look back on anything with regret, you know?

Not that I know anything about this, but husbands often have mixed feelings about their wives' mom blogging.  How is this issue in your family?  
My husband has been really awesome about supporting the blog.  He does all of my site support, which I couldn't begin to do to save my life.  He also reads my posts and listens to me talk about the blogging world ad nauseum.  He knows who my blogging friends are by name, even he's never met them!

I'm not saying he understands it, or doesn't get cranky when I am constantly checking in or stealing moments away to write, but he is supportive.  Blogging is a hard thing to support because it takes so much time and there is very little financial return (at least for me!).  I don't know if we could keep up the energy level of this for forever, but for right now, he gets that it is important to me.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why I'm Glad I'm not a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model

It's old news.  

The 2013 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue is out.  If you haven't seen the cover yet, here's a link.  


You can stop blinking now.

This yearly special produces a whole lot of saliva production - the cultural/ethnic/feminist critics (rightfully) spitting with rage, and, of course folks of both genders drooling with desire.

It also makes the rest of us mortal women, those who are not interested in bedding a swimsuit model, sneak a peak - almost as though we were seven, and didn't have those parts of our own.  They look so different on 20 year old models!  We start wondering about -- questioning -- our own bodies, not to mention what our lives would be like if we had bodies, faces, hair like these women.  What would have been asked of us?  What choices would we have made?  Would we never have had to buy a meal, drink, car for ourselves? How would the money and fame have changed us?  

Who knows?

But I'll venture to say that I'm glad I'm not one of those swimsuit issue babes

Here's why.  

1.  I don't have to feel responsible for a seasonal epidemic of low female self-esteem, nor am I red meat for the warriors against the patriarchy.

2.  Because people don't automatically assume I'm as intelligent and articulate as a newborn hamster.  

3.  People the world over aren't shaking their parts like a faulty touch mouse while looking at images of me.

4.  Because I am not giving the young, the emotionally unstable and the just plain stupid the idea that a woman who doesn't look like Barbie is a beast.

5. Legions of men so odious they don't deserve the unconditional love of a blow up doll don't get to write trollish Internet comments about my looks and weight. 

6.  Because people don't look at me and think, "Holy crizzap, you look so much better with carefully calibrated lighting and airbrushing!"

7.  I get to wear bathing suits that fit.  No having my size D* melons literally pouring out of a string bikini top made for a toddler.  

8.  Because wearing body paint in public should mean, "I was painting my house and got some spatters on my legs and arms."  Not, "Hey, who needs actual clothes when you can just wear PAINT!" 

9.  Because when I complain about feeling/looking inadequate people don't want to beat me with a tire iron. 

10.  I don't have to have an existential crisis, wondering if in fact I am LESS intelligent than a baby hamster about making millions by being nearly naked in Antarctica , and contracting hypothermia, the effects of which lasted after returning home. 

I have to say, I'm really beside myself over the Antarctica thing. 

Why would anyone do that?  For the modeling challenge?  For the money?  Because you think the effects will be minimal and you don't want to stand up for yourself/seem like a diva?  Because you think that if you are making money you are not being taken advantage of - that it's the classic who's exploiting whom argument?  

I would love to know her "thought process."

This is a disturbing new low for SI, but I'm not sure who is more insane -- the magazine for asking, or the model for accepting.  But I shouldn't judge. I like to think I'd kick whoever asked me so hard he'd wish himself in Antarctica to ice off his man parts. But if I were an on-the-rise, ambitious model, would I be able refuse such an offer?  Glad I don't have to decide. 

What would make me feel a hell of a lot better though, would be if we could get The Onion to do an undershirt and shorts South Pole photo shoot of Todd Akin.  In the winter.  Then I could put my bullhorn in my soapbox and walk happily home.  

*For the record, I do not have size D melons. With some extra string in the back, I am a candidate for that toddler bikini top.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Guest Post: Type 2 Diabetes: Closer Than We Think?

by Mark Benson

Lifestyle habits that lead to adult onset diabetes

The number of diabetics around the world has doubled over the last 30 years to just over 350 million people.  What has changed with regards to our lifestyle and why are so many people now in danger of developing diabetes?

Each and every day seems to bring another research report into diabetes which often concludes that a variety of lifestyle changes have encouraged the development of diabetes amongst many people. We have everything from speculation that drinking too much coffee increases the chances of developing diabetes to the fact that reduced exercise is also a major problem. So what exactly has changed over the last 30 years to more than double the number of people suffering from this potentially debilitating condition?

Is there a link between economic prosperity and diabetes?

In years past there was a belief that diabetes was more common in those with lower a financial status those at the higher end of that scale. There was also an assumption that the quality of your diet had a direct impact upon your chances of developing diabetes, but this does not always appear to be the case.

Diabetes is a major problem within Europe and also North America. It is also worth noting that diabetes is now a major problem in developing areas of South America. So, is there a link between economic prosperity and diabetes?

Dietary habits

There is less and less time for leisure activities amongst the worldwide workforce as our jobs demand more of our time.  Many of us eat on the go, forgo exercise and have very little of the rest time vital to replenish the body.

Approximately two thirds of the adult population in the USA have been impacted by obesity, diabetic numbers have trebled over the last 30 years in the USA and diabetes is a major problem from a cost perspective for the US administration. The same can be said of Mexico where we have seen a massive change in the overall health of the adult population with obesity a relatively small problem only a decade ago now impacting well over 50% of the Mexican adult population.

There is a growing concern that cheaper, fast foods have exacerbated the problem of diabetes which has in many ways prompted an explosion in type II diabetes, commonly referred to as a "lifestyle condition". The fact is that, in the eyes of many experts, type II diabetes is ultimately avoidable for the vast majority of people whereas type I diabetes is perhaps more genetically linked thereby reducing the impact of dietary changes and an improved exercise regime.

Do you exercise enough?

Twenty years ago there were some very ambitious forecasts with regards to work time v leisure time with many experts suggesting we would work less hours and have more relaxation time. If anything, we are now working more than we were twenty years ago and have less leisure time.  Where does this leave us with regards to our exercise regimes?

After a long day at work the first thing you want to do is sit down and relax in front of the television with some food and a drink. Very often it is difficult to motivate yourself  to exercise. We do need to push ourselves, we do need exercise and ultimately we do need fresh air not just for our physical well-being but also our mental well-being. Most of us do not exercise as much as we should on a weekly basis.

Tweaking your daily activities to make a difference

Obviously, reduced exercise and perhaps a lower than optimal diet are causing major problems. It is also evident that just a few small tweaks in our daily routine could have a dramatic impact upon our chances of developing type II diabetes.

Why not look at walking to work once a week? Why not get dropped off from work a short distance from your home and walk the rest of the way? Why not ensure you have a good breakfast in the morning and refrain from potentially unhealthy snacks throughout the day?

A few simple lifestyle changes can have dramatic results.  It is estimated that the number of diabetics around the world will increase enormously over the next twenty or thirty years and there have been suggestions that authorities such as the NHS in the UK could well be bankrupted due to the ever-growing cost of treating diabetes in years to come.


The ongoing increase in the number of type II diabetics perfectly illustrates the change in lifestyle many of us have experienced over the last twenty years but it does not necessarily mean we have to remain at risk.

Just a few small changes in our daily routines can have a major impact upon our overall physical health, mental health as well as potentially reducing our chance of developing diabetes.

It is our choice. . .

If you are looking for advice about diabetes, the latest news or you are struggling to cope, visit and join our 25,000 strong forum community.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mom in the Spotlight: Dancer and Blogger, Keesha Beckford

Groucho Marx is quoted as saying something to the effect of, "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." 

This is evolved into the classic description of someone who wants to get into some elite group, but then as soon as she is accepted, starts to wonder, "hey what's wrong with those folks?" and looks for something better.

This week that elite club for me would be Move LifeStyle.  Move LifeStyle is a is an "online magazine for women on the move, living life with style." Groucho Marx is quoted as saying something to the effect of, "I don't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member." 

This is the classic description of someone who wants to get into some elite group, but then as soon as accepted breaks out in hives and looks for something better.

This week that elite club for me would be Move LifeStyle.  Move LifeStyle is a is an "online magazine for women on the move, living life with style. It's a site with visual buzz that also offers food for thought and life guidance," the site's founders.

It's a website that features creative women who are accomplished and fascinating and inspiring.  The women portrayed in the Girl Friday series are stylish, and are photographed in magazine worthy surroundings.  

And they wanted ME to be one of the women profiled in their Girl Friday series!  And while I still peruse the e-pages and wonder, "how did I get here?" I am beyond honored.  

And I'm very happy to belong.

So instead of me, Keesha, asking the questions, I get to be the interviewee today!  I hope you'll get to know me a little better by clicking or touching on over to my interview at Move LifeStyle!

Thanks and MMMMMMMwah!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hell is Dressing My Daughter

It happened as soon as I knew I was having a girl.  

The fantasies of ballet lessons, mommy-daughter mani-pedis, and of course the clothes.  

It wasn't that I didn't enjoy buying clothes for my firstborn son, it was just that the color palette was so limited!  Sure boy clothes were cute, but from hipster to prep, everything looked like the miniature version of what a casually dressed grown man would wear, save maybe a conspiracy theorist hoarder.


But the mere thought of girls' clothes made me giddy.  The colors! In addition to the primaries, secondaries and neutrals were all the pinks, aquas, lavenders and peaches.  And the fabulous prints!  Add to that the bows, ruffles, tulle, ribbon, rickrack and eyelet that a grown woman had to indulge in sparingly, if not abandon altogether.  The military style jackets, moto boots and cargo pants that added an edge to all the girly - telling the world, "I may be feminine, playful, and polite, but I am a FORCE with which to be reckoned, you hear?" 

I could not wait to dress my little angel up.  With her in my belly, I would go to Baby Gap to shop for Mr. R or buy a gift, and it was all I could do not to buy the entire girls' section. Practically weeping over the adorableness of it all, I'd finger the dresses and leggings longingly, overcome by visions of my modish girlchild and I having high tea at the Drake Hotel. I satisfied my hunger by getting a few irresistible items.  With these impulse purchases, in addition to the beautiful hand-me downs I had scored from a few stylish friends and their fashionistettes, my little girl was SET.

Things went well for a while. My daughter wore what I wanted her to wear. It turned out that she was mostly in pajamas and onesies, but every now and then I had to put her in something fabulous so it wouldn’t be outgrown. A few times she looked red-carpet ready even though she was only in her Jumperoo.  

Around her second birthday, she developed a few favorites.  No biggie. Totally manageable.

Then, a few months ago, it all came to a screeching halt.  What fresh new hell was this?

It was dressing my daughter.  

That adorable Tea Collection dress? The one that cost more than many things I've bought myself recently? No. The crewcuts top? The one that I bought her instead of buying myself something?  Scorned like a vegan looking at a rack of ribs.  My attempts to pull the garments over her head produced bloodcurdling screams and thrashing that could only be bested by an Upper East Side socialite being strong-armed into a Walmart dress.  I kept trying. The protests continued.  I begged. I pleaded.  I bribed and bargained. I used a withering sarcasm reserved for unhelpful customer service agents.  

Finally I gave up.  It was over.  I would pick her outfits no more. 

We had moved into the stage where my lovely daughter would create her own fashion statements, choosing clothes that made her feel happy. Comfortable. Pretty. Good about herself.  

Unfortunately, this trend made me feel disorganized and pissy. It often made me - us - late in the mornings.  And it also made me feel insecure. Incredibly so. I really needed my daughter to provide me with some much, much needed fashion cred, so that folks didn't think I shopped at Crap Sixth Avenue and Urban Misfitters.  

Hope sprung eternal, however -- just think toddler eating -- and every day I thought "maybe now she'll accept my suggested outfits." Nope. Almost always shot down. I had to get it through my thick head that, while some of it was two-year old rebellion, my daughter was going to wear what she wanted to wear.  

She was her own girl. She was not a doll. And I was not auditioning for stylist on a preschool version of Gossip Girl.  

As annoying as it is, this Mommy-don't-pick-my-clothes thing is good.  A compliant child is definitely something I'd like to experience more often than I currently get to, but God, how boring would that be?  And if I did have a little Miss Docile, I'd wonder where we went wrong, and how to inject her with some bad-ass juice to avoid her being the doormat of friends, colleagues, and eventually significant others.  

So my new M.O. is grit my teeth, and let Lady A pick out her clothes.  I leave her alone to get dressed and pray that what she comes out wearing won’t make me want to grand jeté out the window. Now that I know her preferences (this era will be known as Purple Reign) I can buy things I know she'll like.  I will launder her favorite things often.  Soon I might dare to take her shopping and let her choose some things for herself.  

And when she is a teenager and asks for a pricey pair of shoes?

I'll gasp and say, "I have a pair of classic Uggs!  They're yours from when you were two and were worn twice.  Enjoy!"

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