Wednesday, September 23, 2015

5 Fun Girls Night Themes to Enjoy with Your Girlfriends

Author: Whitney Hollingshead

Every woman needs a chance to get together with her female friends for a few hours every once and awhile. If you are getting tired of doing lunch or heading out for dinner and a movie, try one of these fun theme nights instead:

girls night

1. Style Review

Head to a clothing store and each woman must pick out the following:

  • One outfit you would typically purchase
  • One outfit you’ve secretly been wanting to try on
  • One outfit you think will look good on each of the other women

Once all of the outfits have been selected, head to the fitting room and start with each woman trying on an outfit she would typically purchase. Model the outfits for each and give honest and sincere feedback. Discuss what you like about your friend’s look and make kind, yet constructive suggestions on how she could improve her current style.

Next, have each woman try on the outfit she secretly wants to try on. Model the outfits for each other and provide honest feedback again. (Laughing together is totally acceptable in this round.)

Finally, have each woman try on the outfits chosen for her by the other women. Let each woman model her outfits and ask each woman present to provide constructive feedback.

This activity is a great way to get some insight into your current style, give you an opportunity to explore new options, and provide you with valuable feedback that can make future shopping excursions alone much more productive.


2. Spa Night

Instead of heading out for the night, consider kicking everyone else out of the house so you can enjoy a relaxing night in. Invite your girlfriends to arrive in their pajamas and prepare some activities to pamper each other. Consider applying an organic face mask like one of these, propping up your feet, and sipping smoothies. Or have each woman bring two of her favorite beauty products and test out each other’s favorites. You can even make it specific and ask each woman to bring her favorite scented lotion and her favorite color of nail polish. This is a great way to test out other products in real life away from pushy sales people.

3. Night Hike & Stargazing

Dress in layers and comfortable shoes. Pack some water, fun snacks, a blanket, flashlights, a trail map, and a star map. Head to a local trail and enjoy a night hike together. When you reach the perfect spot to stargaze, spread out your blanket and enjoy the night sky together. Stargazing is a great way to relax, enjoy nature, and enjoy deep conversation together. For an extra fun twist, pack a night picnic full of delicious finger foods, sparkling cider, and delicious cookies.

4. Video-Game-a-Thon

Use a gaming console for some girls only fun! You can choose any game the group wants to try out. If you are in need of some fun ideas, consider any interactive game centered around playing sports, singing, dancing, or racing cars. Snowboarding? Wakeboarding? Hip Hop? Show Tunes? Why not! Let loose and have some fun exploring the games the guys and kids are experts at without the stress of their coaching.

5. Enroll in a Class

Find a class offered in your area and take the class together. Here are just a few examples of the many classes that may be offered near you:

  • Cake decorating at a local bakery
  • Floral design at a local florist
  • Cooking course at the local market
  • Photography tips from a professional photographer
  • Sewing class at a fabric store or quilting shop
  • Dance class for adults
  • Zumba, spin, or kickboxing class at a gym
  • Home improvement class at local hardware store
  • Financial planning seminar
  • Community college course on an interesting topic (ie. poetry, astronomy, foreign language)

Whether you choose a class that goes for one night, a few weeks, or an entire semester, the list of possibilities is nearly endless. You can learn new skills together and have a recurring excuse to get together often.

spa night

These five suggestions cover a variety of interests so you should have an easy time selecting a fun theme that matches up well with your friends. While these five ideas are different, the one thing all of these themes have in common is plenty of opportunities to talk. Let’s be honest, that is the best part of getting together after all. So try out your favorite theme(s) above or use this list to inspiration to branch out and try something new for your next girls night.

Monday, September 21, 2015

How to Support Women Who are Struggling with Infertility

This post is brought to you by The Stork OTC and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

My very first pregnancy was a miscarriage.  It was devastating and difficult to go through.  I had mistakenly announced my pregnancy on social media at only 7 weeks pregnant and weeks after I miscarried, people who I didn't see often would ask me how the pregnancy was going.  They didn't know I had miscarried and I had to relive the news over and over.

When I had miscarried, my sister-in-law and best friend were also pregnant.  All 3 of us were due within a few weeks of each other.  I tried to be happy for them that they were still pregnant, but honestly, it was hard.  Luckily, a few months later I was able to get pregnant again and had a sweet little girl.

I did have to go through something difficult, but I haven't had to experience infertility and I know quite a few women who have.  And I don't know what to say to them or how to help them.  I want to be supportive, but my situation is so different that I don't want to make it worse for these women.

How can I help?  What can I say?  What can I do?

pregnancy, infertility

If you're like me and just don't know where to start, I have some great articles and resources to share with you.

First a few tips: 

- Try to learn about what your friend or family member is going through; offer no answer, but simply a shoulder to cry on.

- Let them vent to you about how they’re feeling on this very difficult road. This means that when they feel at the end of their rope, you need to stay right with them, say something to the effect of “even though I don’t know what you are going through, I am willing to be here for you in any way you may need or want.”

-Unfortunately when it comes to infertility, there are no quick fixes or answers.  However difficult this fact may be to cope with, it is made easier with hope, perseverance, and support.

Some great resources: 

Challenges of living with fertile friends and family members
This is a post gives great advice for those struggling to conceive when everyone around them seems to be getting pregnant.  It's also important for those who are friends with women who are having issues with infertility.  It helps you see that they may be pulling away because of the situation and not because of you.  Communication is important.  Let them know that you love them, but don't be hurt if they don't want to come to your baby shower.  Be compassionate.

The Delicate line between infertility and friendship
This post has advice to those struggling on how emotional and relationship boundaries can be altered in surprising ways when one half of the friendship duo become pregnant.  Again, communication and compassion are important.  Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, but don't offer advice if this isn't something you've experienced.  When they are ready to talk to you about it they will.

Infertility Etiquette
“People dealing with infertility see things every day in the world that remind them of their plight."  This post has lots of things to say and not say.

When Infertility Strikes a Family Member
This is an article on how infertility might influence behaviors of all generations of families.

The Stork OTC
infertility, the stork otc
If you happen to be struggling with infertility, there is a new FDA approved product called The Stork OTC.  You can use it at home without a prescription and it has a documented success rate of around 10-20%.  The Stork OTC can be used if you are diagnosed with infertility, have tried months without success, or simply want to get pregnant more quickly.  It's a great first step before trying more costly, invasive procedures.  It is available now, online and in select retailer stores.  For where to buy visit

Twitter Mini Chat:

And if you would like to participate in a Twitter chat about knowing just what to say or how to best offer support to family or friends experiencing infertility, join me on Tuesday September 22, 2015 at 1pm EST.

Follow the #TheStorkOTC hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite:

Prizes: Three prizes will be awarded to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $25 CVS/pharmacy gift card.

Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

the stork OTC, Twitter chat


If you want to give it a try, I'm giving away a trial of The Stork OTC!  This will run for 2 weeks.  Just enter the rafflecopter widget below!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

How Another Mom Completely Changed My Day

There seems to be a lot of posts going around Facebook lately about moms.  Some are good positive things and experiences and some are not so good.  It seems that everyone has an opinion about motherhood, which makes sense, because many of us are mothers and we have all had different experiences.

I wanted to share a positive experience I had the other day from a woman I didn't even know.

mom, mom struggles, encouragement

I was at Old Navy looking for some fall and winter clothes for my kids.  If you haven't been reading my blog, you may not know, I have a lot of small kids.  I have a 4 year old, 3 year old, and 18 month old and am 6 months pregnant.  So basically, we're noisy and disruptive.  For some reason my kids think that clothing stores are playgrounds and they love to run and hide in the clothes racks no matter how much I beg and plead with them not to.  And my 18 month old just wants to be anywhere but the cart, but if I put him down for one second he's pulling clothes off the racks and throwing neatly folded shirts on the floor.  Yeah, we're that family.  And I apologize for when we come in your store. 

Of course it would be easier to shop online, but we're frugal and I like to check the clearance racks and I have a daughter who is super picky about her clothes and the smallest thing will bug her so I want to make sure she can see and feel the clothes before I purchase them.  Because you just never know if she's going to wear them when we get home.  

I'm pushing around our cart, holding my son who is kicking and screaming to be put down which is really uncomfortable with my pregnant belly. My girls are running around my feet squealing as little girls do and I'm trying to look for clothes as fast as I can - thinking about what matches the pants I already bought my daughter, what looks appropriate for a 4 year old who is in the girls section now (she wears a size 6!), and what doesn't have anything itchy on it so she'll actually wear it.  

And of course my 3 year old announces she needs to go to the bathroom.  Really?!

We have to stop everything, take the cart to the bathroom, leave it in the hall, gather my diaper bag and all the kids, and pile into the stall.  Not ideal.  

As I begin to push the cart with one hand and my kicking son in the other, a woman behind me says, "You're doing a good job.  Hang in there."  

I was completely surprised and all I could get out was a thank you.

I figure that people in the stores look at us, but I usually think they're just thinking - boy, that woman has her hands full (because I do hear that a lot!),  I can't believe how many little kids she has, better her than me, etc. 

The last thing I was expecting was to hear encouragement.  

After taking my kids to the bathroom, I came back feeling like things weren't as bad as I thought.  Yes, my kids are really difficult at stores, but I felt more patient and more love.  My step was a little lighter and I didn't feel so weighed down. 

I appreciated that woman having the courage to say something to me.

We checked out and I got some amazing deals!  And of course my kids opened a pack of Bubble gum when I told them not to, maybe 100 times, so I had to purchase that as well which I was not happy about...but those words spoken by that woman stuck with me.  

I want to be her someday.  

Someday, when I can go shopping by myself and I see another struggling, stressed out mom, I want to give her some words of encouragement.  We're all trying and we are all in different situations and we can all use a "you're doing a good job.  Hang in there."

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

5 Dental Hygiene Tips for keeping your Children’s teeth healthy

Do you have young kids who are learning to brush their teeth?  I do!  And although it's often a challenge to get all their teeth cleaned, I know it's worth it for them to have healthy smiles.

Having good dental hygiene habits is an important part of your child's development and is best learned from a young age. Teaching children proper oral care is an investment in their health and wellbeing for the future. There is research that links poor dental health to other serious diseases,
including an increased risk of heart disease.

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to keep teeth strong and healthy from childhood to old age. I’ve caught up with Sydney (Australia) based celebrity dentist Dr. Michael Tam. Dr. Tam is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and loves working with children.

teeth, dentistry, pediatric dentist, childrens health

Dr. Tam shares his top 5 tips for keeping your child’s teeth healthy:

It starts with you
Set a good example: young children are like sponges, they watch and learn from the things we do. Taking care of your own teeth and brushing regularly in front of your child will send the message that it’s an important activity that is part of normal daily routine.

Develop good cleaning habits
Encourage your child to brush their teeth twice a day. Use a pea-sized amount of a fluoride toothpaste to minimize swallowing. Teach them to clean the outer surface of the teeth by gently brushing back and forth, and then repeat the same action on the chewing surface, and don’t forget the tongue. Make teeth brushing an enjoyable activity; let them pick a toothbrush in their favorite color or with a cartoon character on it they like. This will help to make them look forward to brushing their teeth.  We also use the Disney Magic Timer app that helps my kids brush for 2 minutes.

Limit sugar
Encouraging your children to eat a healthy and nutritious diet that limits sugary foods, along with many other benefits, will reduce the amount of plaque producing acids that cause decay. Of course,
cutting sugar out altogether can be challenging, so if you do want to give your children treats, the
best time is straight after a meal when there is extra saliva in the mouth to provide extra protection for the teeth.

It’s in the water
Need another reason to encourage your children to drink water? Fluoride is an important way to strengthen and protect developing teeth and that's why it's in toothpaste. Many water supplies are now also fluoridated with just the right amount to help ward off tooth decay. To find out whether your water contains fluoride, you can contact your local water supplier. If your water supply lacks fluoride, or you prefer bottled water, you can request a daily fluoride supplement from your dentist or pediatrician.

Get to the dentist
I do recommend that you take your child to a specialist children’s dentist before their first birthday. Not only will this make sure you have the information you need for good oral hygiene, it will also help your child get used to going to the dentist from a young age. Children should have had their first dental appointment by the age of two. After the first visit, ensure your child has regular check-ups to encourage this as part of a life long routine.

Follow these five simple tips and you will be on the right path to great dental habits and hygiene for
your family.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

$250 Cash Giveaway!

Christmas is just around the corner - we're down to 3 months...which also means my baby is due in 3 months!  Crazy!

I'm involved in a fun giveaway with some other Wisconsin bloggers and this is the perfect time to start saving up some cash for Christmas!  Make sure to enter the rafflecopter widget below for your chance to win $250 Paypal Cash OR a mystery bag with $100 worth of fun prizes!

2 Prizes = 2 Winners!

Make sure you visit Krysten's blog Why Girls Are Weird to help her celebrate her birthday!

The giveaway runs from September 15th-22nd.  Good luck!

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Friday, September 11, 2015

4 Powerful Ways to Take Life Personally

Author: Whitney Hollingshead

In the movie You’ve Got Mail, the lead character says, “Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.” These wise words are often forgotten in an increasingly impersonal world; however, life will always be more meaningful when we begin everything by being personal.


So where do we start when we are ready to take life more personally? Here are four powerful tried and true ways to get personal that many of us have forgotten:

1. Use Names

Whether consciously or subconsciously, the favorite word of every person is their own name. I love seeing my name printed on anything and I love hearing my name spoken out loud. So do you and so does everyone else. Have you purchased any of the Coca Cola cans or bottles with names printed on them from the Share a Coke marketing campaign? As mentioned here, this campaign has been wildly successful because it’s so personal.

If you want to get personal, start by treating each person as an individual person instead of treating them like a number.

Here are some key ways that you can use names on a daily basis:

  • If you know a name, use it in normal conversations.
  • If you don’t know a name, politely ask for it.
  • If you learn a name, figure out a way to always remember it. Make remembering names a personal priority.
  • Use names in all greetings. Whether in person, over the phone, via email, or text message, use the individual’s name.
  • If someone in the workforce is wearing a name-tag, say thank you for any service provided and include their name in your expression.

You will be amazed at the responses you can receive, simply by taking the time to learn, remember, and use names in all of your everyday interactions.

2. Remember Preferences

living life to the fullest

You can keep things personal by remembering the preferences of those you interact with daily. When an opportunity presents itself, use your knowledge of another’s preferences to make their day a little brighter. Knowing preferences is like knowing a fun secret. The more fun secrets you know, the more you can use them to orchestrate fun surprises. And everyone loves a fun surprise!

Here are some examples:

Secret: Your co-worker loves dark chocolate.
Surprise: Leave a dark chocolate candy bar on her desk.

Secret: The doorman always wears patterned socks.
Surprise: Present him with a pair of socks as a gift as you pass through.

Secret: Your grandmother always listens to opera.
Surprise: Take her to the nearest showing of an opera performance.

Secret: Your son hates the crust on his PB&J.
Surprise: Cut off the crust before packing his lunch.

Secret: The next door neighbor orders pizza every Thursday night.   
Surprise: Intercept the delivery boy and pay for your neighbor’s pizza.

How many secrets do you already know that you can turn into surprises? How many more secrets can you learn today to plan a surprise for tomorrow?
3. Remember Events

Just as remembering preferences will help you make stronger personal connections, remembering events is also important. Depending on how well you know someone, a card or gift is not required in honor of important events. However, simply expressing well wishes on the day of an event is a great way to be personal without getting too personal.

Here are just a few of the many important events you can remember:

  • birthday
  • wedding anniversary
  • graduation
  • job interview
  • first day at a new job
  • retirement
  • performance of any kind
  • due date of new baby
  • moving day

When it comes to well wishes, remember to keep them personal. For example, when Facebook reminds you that it is someone’s birthday, send the individual a personal message that includes their name via text message instead of posting on their wall. If you struggle with finding the right personal message for other occasions, a simple “good luck today” or “thinking of you today” can still be very thoughtful, especially when you include their name.  

4. Write Notes

writing notes

In a technology centered world, most of us rely on electronics to communicate. While we can make things personal by using technology, one great alternative is to step away from technology and put a little extra effort into our communication. Using your own handwriting offers a truly one of a kind message that will always communicate a personal touch.

Here are some everyday situations that are quite conducive to using handwritten notes:

  • Send a handwritten letter or card to a family member or friend.
  • Mail handwritten postcards when away from home.
  • Leave handwritten love notes or sticky notes for family members to find.
  • Write a short handwritten message on any signed receipt.
  • Send a handwritten thank you note to anyone to express gratitude.
  • Write a letter of appreciation to any manager/owner specifically mentioning an employee who provided exemplary service to you.
  • Send anonymous “thinking of you” notes to people who may need a little more joy in life.

The possibilities are nearly endless for using your own handwriting to make your interactions more personal. Always keep some blank cards or paper and a pen handy and watch for opportunities to leave personal notes.

As you use names, remember preferences, remember events, and write notes, you can take life personally, one person at a time.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

High Heel Cupcakes

I love making cakes and cupcakes for my kids' birthdays.  Even if it's just a family party, I love decorating cakes and making something special for them.

I made these super cute high heel cupcakes for Clo's 2nd birthday.  Yeah, she's 3 now.  And this year I made a confetti cake, but I'll post that one later.  When she was two, Clo loved shoes and princesses, so I thought a princess shoe would make a great cupcake!  My mom had shown me someone who had done something similar, but I couldn't find the post.  So I had to make it from memory.


Here's what you need:

Milano cookies
Pirouette cookies
Cupcake Gems

princess party

Once you've made the cupcakes and they're cooled, simply stick a Milano cookie into the cupcake so it's wedged in there a little bit.  Then use frosting to "glue" the Pirouette cookie to the Milano cookie.  You'll need to cut the Pirouette cookie to make it the right length.  You'll also want thick frosting so they'll stick together.


After you've put the cupcakes together, use the rest of your frosting to decorate the top of the shoe (the cupcake) and do a fun little design around the foot of the shoe.  Add a couple of cupcake gems and you're good to go!

princess shoes

cute cupcakes

Pretty simple, but really cute and yummy!

My cute two year old.

And her birthday spoils!