The Importance of Being Reese: May 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Recap

I hope you guys all had a fantastic Memorial Day Weekend. We spent the weekend in Gatlinburg, Tennessee with James's family; relaxing and soaking up the fresh mountain air. The weather was perfect and the scenery was breathtaking. It was definitely a much needed vacay, and although little rest was had, it was worth every second. We created some beautiful memories and captured some gorgeous photos that hopefully the munchkin will have to reflect upon for the years to come.

On Friday, we kicked off the weekend by saddling up our car with all the necessities and hitting the road for the grueling 4 hour drive into the mountains. Because we left a bit late and hit traffic heading up the mountain, we didn't arrive at the campsite until after 11:00 p.m. So as soon as we loaded everything into the RV we hit the sack. Even Jasmine didn't put up much of a struggle when we put her in her bed.

Saturday morning we woke up early and enjoyed a yummy breakfast and tried to figure out how to spend the day. The great thing about Gatlinburg is it has something for everyone. The possibilities are endless.


We started off our adventure by heading the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Aquarium. This was the Bean's first trip to an Aquarium so she was beyond excited. As soon as we crossed the threshold into the aquarium, she was off like an adorable little rocket. Weaving in between people and pressing her nose against the glass and excitedly shouting "fishy! fishy."

I've never been a huge fans of Aquariums, but this one was amazing. I definitely foresee future trips to their other locations. Especially once Jasmine gets a bit older and doesn't try to jack another kids stroller (yes, she totally did--climbed right on in and refused to budge)


Next we headed to the Ole Smoky Distillery where we learned all about Moonshine. We also took advantage of the free moonshine tasting and tried out some of their best sellers including: Lemonade, Blueberry and Apple Pie (my favorite). The children, of course, did not partake in these festivities, but they had plenty fun chilling outside in rocking chairs and listening to live music.

I'll admit, everything I learned about Moonshine comes from Moonshiners (hey, don't judge) so it was neat to actually see the process in person. Ole Smoky Distillery was basically like the grown-up version of the Coca-Cola Factory. Tons.Of. Fun.


Finally we decided to tack on one last adventure (a personal favorite of mine). The WonderWorks Museum    This was my second time at the location in Gatlinburg and about my fifth time overall and it was just as fun the fifth time around as the first. The Bean and her cousins had such a blast. It was amazing to watch their little faces light up every time they discovered something new.


They played every game and rode every ride. Twice. And so did we.

Basically this weekend was one of the best we've had in a while. James got the chance to spend time with his dad and brother. I got to spend time chatting it up with my awesome sister-in-law and mother-in-law, and most importantly, we all got the chance to close our eyes and listen to the sound of all six children giggling, playing and laughing while we enjoyed being in each others company.




So what did you guys do for Memorial Day? As always, feel free to link up your recaps in the comment section below.

Until next time, 

5 Fun Memorial Day Crafts For the Kids

5 memorial day crafts for kids
Being the daughter of a retired solider, I believe in showing our men and women in uniform some love and respect. That being said, Memorial Day is taken very seriously in our household.

Since the Bean came along, I've been scouring the internet in search of some neat Memorial Day crafts for us to enjoy together as a family. I happened upon some pretty great projects, and since I believe that sharing is caring, I decided to let you guys in on the fun.

I also found a great resource for educational Memorial Day printables for children. The best thing about these printables is they are made for children ranging from fourth grade to high school, so they'll be plenty of activities for every member of the family to enjoy. This is a great way to discuss Memorial Day and what it stands for with your children while learning a few new things yourself.

Enjoy!

Patriotic Noisemakers
 
(Source: Family Chic)
Although these noismakers are sure to drive you up the wall, they were just too cute to pass up. Check out Family Chic for a detailed tutorial + some really awesome gardening and decorating tips.
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 Memorial Day Paper Weights
(Source: Spoonful)
Not only is this project super cute, but it's super cheap. All you need are a few rocks, paint, and a dash of creativity and imagination. These will look great as table decorations for a Memorial Day BBQ. So not only will your children get to make something fun, but you'll be able to showcase their project for all your friends and family to admire. 
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 Patriotic Hand Print
(Source: B-InspiredMama)
Here is another fun and cheap project for the kiddos this Memorial Day. This project is perfect because kids of all ages can participate. It's also a great way to preserve memories that you can reflect upon for many years to come.
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 DIY Ribbon Wands
This project is sure to make you the talk of the town...or at least the talk of the playground. The best thing about this project is it something your kids will be able to hang on for years and years.
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 Patriotic Layered Drinks
By now your expert crafters have probably worked up quite a sweat creating their masterpieces. What better way to cool off then with a delicious and refreshing drink? Have you little munchkins give you a hand with the drinks and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of your hard labor.
***

If you do one of these projects with your kiddos, be sure to come back and link it up so I can show you off on the blog. Happy Memorial Day and may you take a moment to remember those who have given their lives so that we can continue to live the American Dream.

   
*Note* If you guys are going to pin this to pinterest, please take a moment to click on the link to the origional source and pin from there. These ladies put together fantastic ideas and it's only fair that they get the credit.




It's My Baby, I Will Birth How I Want To

Shameless opportunity to include my favorite birth pic of the Bean
This topic has been on my mind for quite a while now. To be honest, I have two similar posts sitting in my draft section; still unpublished out of fear that the topic will unleash an unholy flood of angry commentators hell-bent on "educating" me on just how uninformed I am on the subject of birth.

And that's cool, people have a right to form their own opinions. I've never been the type to stand in the way of that. However, this is my blog, I have every right to publish posts as I see fit. Just as you have every right to disagree or choose not to read. Now that we've gotten that long-winded disclaimer out of the way.

A few months ago I accidentally stumbled upon a site written by a certain feminist blogger--one who is well-known for her controversial topics. At first I was I thought the particular topic of discussion was pretty interesting-- and then I started to notice something. Every time a lone commenter would politely disagree with the idea of having a home birth, every time a commenter would dare mention the fact that they had a medical condition that ultimately resulted in an emergency c-section, it was as if they had painted a target sign on their backs and had subjected themselves to a verbal town-square stoning. By the end of the night, more than 50 mothers had taken the time out of their day to tell another woman just how terrible of a decision she had made by choosing the c-section rather than delivering naturally.

These incidents that I'm talking about are not isolated incidents. In fact, a few years ago I had a disagreement with an old high school friend-- now turned Doula. Despite the fact that I had three serious medical conditions throughout my pregnancy: Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura, Hyperthyroidism, and Preeclampsia, my former friend was completely convinced that I could have delivered from the comfort of my home. Needless to say, after the incident I quietly made my way to that little unfriend button on facebook and made use of it.

I suppose before I became a mother I was under the misguided belief that there was some sort of solidarity that bonded mothers. I thought that becoming a mother instantly allowed you full access to a supportive network of other mothers who would not only provide you with information and encouragement, but would also respect your personal opinions about childbirth and child-rearing. I know, I know; so delusional, so young, so naive.

Two years in and I'm finally starting to see that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't daylight, it's a train heading straight towards you filled with judgey moms just waiting to tell you how much better they could have handled your situation. And I know, we ALL occasionally let the judge monster sink it's claws into us. It's a part of human nature. I do it, you do it, we all do. What I'm asking is that we find a way to control it. I wrote an excellent post about being judgmental that everyone should give a once over. Sometimes I have to go back, reread it and let the words digest.
 
At the end of the day, we don't know or understand everyone's personal situation. They may be dealing with things that you can't even fathom. Maybe that woman you keep snidely telling that choosing to bottle-feed rather than breastfeed makes her "less of a woman" works three jobs to keep food on the table and a roof over her families head.  Maybe the woman that elects to have that emergency c-section is more concerned with ensuring her child is safely brought into this world than the idea that having bright lights or a room full of doctors will somehow delay her babies fine motor skills development.  

Statistics are great; unless you're faced with the possibility that you may be one of the 2.2% that are on the bad side of those odds.
 
Self-preservation dictates that as humans we have a will to survive. Motherhood dictates that should we feel our children are in jeopardy, we will fight with every breath in our bodies to ensure they are safe. If an unsightly scar below my belly is the only price I have to pay to see my daughters warm brown eyes light up in happiness every morning I walk in to wake her up, then it's a price I will gladly pay again, again and again. I know I am not alone.


That said, to all of my mommas who have had unplanned or planned c-sections. I've got your back. For all of the mothers that choose to get that epidural. I've got your back. To any mother anywhere who has been made to feel that she is less of a woman because she choose to deliver in a hospital rather than in her home, you are not alone. Your child will love you just as much as had you gone though a home birth.

At the end of the day, we are all mothers. We are all extraordinary human beings that have given life. We all have unique feelings, thoughts and fears. And we all have beautiful stories to tell. It would be wise to listen.

What are your thoughts? What is your story?


7 Lessons Learned at Bloggy Boot Camp Charlotte

This past Saturday I, along with 140+ bloggers, gathered at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina for another wonderful Bloggy Boot Camp Conference. I'll admit, I went in nervous. Like most bloggers embarking on their first conference, I spent the day before feverishly pouring over other Bloggy Boot Camp recaps hoping to get an idea of what to expect. By the time I finished reading that last post from Bold Butter Baby about Blissdom, I was equal parts ecstatic and equal parts petrified.

Seriously, I was having flashbacks from the fight scene in Mean Girls...

source: movie clips 
 
 Luckily, my experience at BBCC was nothing like that. Tiffany and Francesca of the SITSGirls were fantastic. The information I learned was well worth the price of the ticket. The connections I made were invaluable. The encouragement I received strengthened my desire to make something of this little ole blog here. And even though I have a long road ahead of me, it all seems a bit more possible knowing that I have a tribe of bloggy sisters willing to take the journey with me.

At the Collective Bias cocktail party the night before BBCC I talked blogging strategies over a glass of wine with the fabulous Bonnie of Hobby to HOT!, whose amazing site just launched. I also chatted it up with two lovely ladies from ATL, one of whom runs an awesome wedding blog.

The next day durning the conference, I quickly made friends with Michelle from Coco Michelle's Lifestyle Blog & Tracy from The Uncoordinated-Mom. And had a blast speaking with the dynamic blogging duo Christine and Janene from More Than Mommies whom I've partnered up with a few times in the past. I even got a chance to speak with once of my longtime blogging idols Nellie of Brooklyn Active Mama, who is just as fabulous in real life as she is on her blog.

The best part, however, is I met a TON of bloggers (@modernmint, @xxxPollyPocket, 4hensandarooster, JaelDesignsINC) in the Charlotte-Raleigh area, so I foresee some local blogger meetups in our near future.


Here's my favorite shot of the conference. This photograph was taken by the fabulously talented Lindsey Wynne who was our photographer for the day. You should check out her photos, she's got a great eye!

One Moscato. Two Moscato. Three Moscato. Floor...
The structure of the conference was perfect. I've heard a few complaints in the past about the assigned seating, but personally I thought it was a great way to force us out of our comfort zone and get us to meet new friends. The speakers were on point. Each of them knew their stuff. I'll be posting info about them in the upcoming weeks, so be sure to keep a lookout for that. The sponsors were friendly and seemed interested in our thoughts and opinions. Overall, I would say that #BBCCHAR was a raging success.

As far as what I learned at the conference, I don't want to go to far into detail because I feel that if you're really looking to take your blog to the next level, attending Bloggy Boot Camp is a must. I will, however, share a few of the most important tips and lessons I took away from the conference.

1. Form a Tribe 
Connect with other bloggers in a similar genre as you. Partner up with them on projects and giveaway. Help each other out. The biggest misconception about blogging is that it's done in solitude. This is not true. In order to really make it as a blogger you have to have friends you can count on.

2. Interact on Social Media. A Lot
 This actually adds on to my bit about blogging not being done is solitude. If you really want to make a big splash in the blogosphere, you've got to get noticed. Make sure that your interactions aren't just about you. Retweet people, share posts, be a good neighbor. It will come back to you. And please, make sure you are on Google+, that's where the real party is.

3. A Good Blog Design IS Important
 Sometimes having a good blog design is more attractive to a potential business partnership than the amount of pageviews you have. Invest in your blog. You will thank yourself for it later.

4. Goodbye Blogger, Hello Wordpress 
 The title pretty much says it all. Blogger is not the place to be if you are ready to get serious about blogging (she typed on her blogger page). I know, blind leading the blind, but in my defense I have been making moves to switch over to Wordpress.

5. Good SEO is Key
If you want to dominate the search results, you're going to have to put in the work. Keyword research, metadescriptions, alt tags, the whole nine. If you need a bit of help, talk to @thatgeekcasey. This man really knows his stuff.

6. Schedule. Schedule. Schedule.
Schedule your posts. Schedule your tweets. Schedule your facebook updates. You can't be everywhere at once, but thanks to technology, you can sure seem to be. Keep office hours. Be consistent. If you want to get serious about blogging, you need to treat it like it's your job.

And by far, the most important lesson was a quote from Danielle Smith of Extraordinary Mommy.

"If it's not a hell yes, it's a no."

You don't have to say yes to everything that comes your way. If it's not for you, pass it along to another blogger. And be happy when another blogger gets a great opportunity. Tweeting nasty messages and talking about how they don't deserve whatever great opportunity they have been presented with basically guarantees that you won't get anywhere. We are a sisterhood and as the lovely Tiffany Romero said "When one of us makes it, we all do." 

Expect big changes in the near future. This weekend I learned that I have my work cut out for me. I'm planning to take it slow and just see what works for me. I'm considering taking a month long break this summer so that I can spend time doing the behind-the-scenes work and cleaning house. We'll see.

Anyhow, did any of you guys go to Bloggy Boot Camp? What did you guys take away from the experience? Interested in attending Bloggy Boot Camp? (Which I highly recommend). Be sure to check em out online.

Until next time
Happy Blogging

Friday's Letters

Dear Friday's Letters,
Okay so it's been a while. I admit, I've been slacking as of late, but now hopefully I'm back on my A-game, although at this point even my M-game would do.



Dear Bloggy Boot Camp
It's about to get real...



Dear Cold,
Nah, nah, nah, boo, boo. You may have taken my only free week before summer session classes start again, but you will not take Bloggy Boot Camp from me. Prepare for battle. Today I'm bringing out the big guns: Dayquil, Nightquil, Advil, Aleve, Percocet whatever it takes, you are going down...



Dear Certain UNCC professor
I'll admit, I'm still a bit bent out of shape that I missed getting the Chancellors list by 15.5 points. I just want you to know I'm not angrily throwing darts at a photo I printed out of you and neurotically reviewing all my notes and papers to find out where I went wrong. Just kidding...Sorta.


Now come join the party and link up with us at:


How Skimpy is Too Skimpy?

*Sigh*

It happened again.

I took Jasmine to the little indoor kiddie pool Uptown last week. She's a water baby, so if you put her within two feet of water, she's the happiest kid ever. But that's not what I'm posting about.

I'm going to caveate this by saying, I am in no way trying to point the finger of blame or judgement, but at the same time, I'm a bit concerned. It seems every year bathing suits for little girls are getting skimpier and skimpier. And it freaks me out a bit.

While we were at the pool I just happened to glance up and see this adorable little girl. She had the most beautiful blue eyes and a head full of curly hair. And then I looked down. And had to divert my eyes because that adorable little girl was in a swim suit that looked like this:


The only difference is that it didn't have the pink ruffles. Which is actually even worse. At first I figured I was overreacting, but then I started to look around at the other reactions, and I realized it wasn't just me. Other moms had literally stopped in their tracks and were watching in horror. It was really bad. Like noticeably uncomfortable bad. Still, the mom (who was dressed remarkably similar) didn't seem to notice or care. 

When we were done at the pool, as I was loading Jasmine into her carseat, I smiled at her, buckled her in, and told her if I ever caught her running around in a bathing suit that small, she would be grounded until the Simpsons finally went off air (so basically until she's like 40). 

But still, that entire ride home, the only thing I could think about was that little girl. I guess as an adult it's one thing to wear what you want to wear. If you want to wear a shirt with so much cleavage that the astronauts orbiting space can see that you've got the new Infinity Bra on by Victoria's Secret, that's cool. You're an adult, you can make your own decisions and suffer the consequences, should there be any. But with babies, it makes me extremely uneasy. 

We all watch the news. In the back of our minds we know that child predators are real. They exist. And they are sick. And terrifying. And another number of choice adjectives, but we can at least admit they are real. So I have to wonder, if we are aware that they are out there, why are we dolling our children up like they're grown women? Why are we forcing our children to grow up faster and faster these days? Why, just why?

How do you guys feel about this? How skimpy is too skimpy when it comes to swimsuits for our little girls? Not to single you guys out, but if you disagree, please let me know. Comments and disagreement are always welcome here. In fact, your point of view may provide another perspective that I've never considered.

XOXO Reese

Calling All May Swappers



Roses are red,
violets are blue.
Swapping with me,
is the right thing to do.

-Reese

P.S. click here for more info on ad swaps.

Abercrombie & Fitch: Why They Refuse to Sell Larger Sizes

abercrombie and fitch refuse to make larger clothingIt's no secret we live in a society that thrives on the idea that being attractive is directly correlated wearing a size small. Every day we are constantly assaulted with hundreds of ad's depicting young skinny attractive care-free models that implicitly promise acceptance and desirability simply by purchasing the product they are selling.

By now news of Abercrombie and Fitch's refusal to sell clothing to anyone who wears a size 10 or larger has spread. In the past 24 hours, Abercrombie and Fitch's social media sites have been bombarded with a thousands of angry comments. Former loyal customers are lashing out at the multimillion dollar company; angry at the discriminatory statements made by the CEO.

Here are a few of the comments I snagged from their Facebook page.

"NEVER going into A&F again, LOST a customer. I have a daughter that is a size 3, but because of this store's corporate BS about larger sizes, she will not be allowed to go into your store or make a purchase from your store and any further gifts from this store will be returned. I will no longer buy my nephew anything out of this store again. My other daughter is a size 18 and I will NOT have her discriminated against. You all should watch the movie Shallow Hal and take notes."

" Your company is absolutely disgusting.The comments made by your CEO were so asinine. I cant even go into your store without getting a headache it smells so bad. But now I wouldnt wear any of your clothing even if it was purchased at a thrift store. I hope to raise my children to know their self worth isn't measured by what kind of clothing they are wearing or people around them. Shame on you."

In case you missed all the hubbub, allow me to give you a  snippet from an interview conducted in 2006 with Abercrombie and Fitch's CEO, Mike Jeffries.

"In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,' he explained candidly. 'We go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely....That’s why we hire good-looking people in our stores. Because good-looking people attract other good-looking people, and we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that." 


I'm going to allow a few moments for you guys to let that statement marinate for a while...

Okay, finished?

Honestly, I can't say I'm particularly surprised about this "revelation". In fact, my Persuasion course this semester has made me acutely aware of the various tactics that advertisers use to appeal to their target demographics. However, those tactics are typically discussed in quiet boardroom meetings. As a rule of thumb, most CEO's tend to keep their discriminatory statements to themselves. Apparently Jeffries didn't get the memo.

These statements only reinforces my distain for this company and others like it. The companies that send the message that in order to be considered attractive you have to be a size 2 or smaller. The companies that send the message that if you are unattractive, or a minority, you are not welcome.

I'm not sure about you guys, but I will take great pleasure in watching their stock plummet daily until Abercrombie and Fitch is no more than a case study that young marketing students refer to as a cautionary tale.

So what do you guys think of this whole situation with Abercrombie and Fitch? Do you shop there frequently? Will you continue to do so? Sound off in the comment section below.

Photo cred) businessinsider

XOXO Reese


Finals Week: May The Curve Be With You

The end is nigh.

I know, I know, it's a tad bit dramatic, but also highly appropriate for what we are getting ready to suffer through. Again.

When finals week approaches, students use a variety of methods to cope with the stress. Some choose to deny. Some drink. I however, scour the internet in search of the funniest memes to post on my blog with the hope that some young desperate student who hasn't slept in two days and is hyped up on RedBull and coffee will stumble across my blog and find some comfort.

So, if you are one of 14,400,000 + students across the country prepping for finals, happy finals week, and may the curve be ever in your favor.

Enjoy!









































Happy Studying
XOXO Reese

Wine it Out Wednesday

I like wine. A lot. I blame this entirely on my dad. As a teen, I was given the role of "wine girl" at family/friend gatherings. It was my job to make sure his glass was filled at all times. I took my job very seriously.

I kid, I kid. Before you guys go dialing CPS, it was a running joke between my dad and I.

My love of wine really evolved from watching how much others enjoyed it. While my college classmates were chugging beers and doing keg stands, I  was too busy being fascinated by wine to join in. Everything from the smell to the taste. It's tempting and delicious. It draws you in, and before you know it, you've gone though half the bottle.

I also think of wine as my own personal therapist. Had a rough day? Get a glass of wine. Had a fight with the mister? Get a class of wine. Kids driving you up the wall? Tuck kids into bed early, and get a glass of wine. Who needs an over priced counselor when you can stop by your local grocery store and stock up on relatively inexpensive therapy. (Thank you Harris Teeter).

Anyhow, to all of the mothers that have spent the day chasing around your half-clothed, screaming toddlers who have done every single thing you've asked them not to, this one's for you...







Now that you've had a few laughs, I wanted to share my favorite wine this month. Peter Lehmans Futures Shiraz.



This is a wonderful blend, and because it's so bold, it goes great with nearly everything; Beef, Lamb and even Pork Chops. A few weekends ago, I paired it up with a raspberry filled dark chocolate and it was delicious. I'm typically not a fan of dark chocolate, but it is such a great combination with Shiraz that it's the only way I'll eat it.

So what are your favorite wines? Vineyards? Funny ecard wine memes? Feel free to link it up in the comment section. 

Until next time,

XOXO Reese