A #FanAunt Walks Into a Rubik’s Cube Competition…

This past weekend I had two wild and crazy dreams come true: 1) to attend the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop (even though, once AGAIN, I failed to win their essay contest) and 2) to see my nephew Drew, the speedcubing champion, in a competition in real life.

Jenny Cube

(This is not creepy by the way, it’s TOTALLY NORMAL)

I was dismayed when I found out Drew’s only local tournament of the year was going to be at the same time as Erma, because last year the local tournament was the same weekend as my 15-year college reunion and I missed it. (I am starting to think that Drew plans these specifically so that I cannot attend, and I gotta say it’s a pretty plausible theory.) But HAPPILY, there was a 3-hour break in the Erma action Saturday afternoon, so even though I was TOTES EXHAUST from conferencing all weekend, I got in my sweet minivan and drove across town in time to see Drew in some finals, including Pyraminx (at which he is World Record Holder – watch him break the record here –  and some other fancy title like Lord of the Trigon)

Oh, by the way, this is a Pyraminx

Oh, by the way, this is a Pyraminx

and the regular Rubik’s cube, known to cubers and their overly-interested aunts as the “3×3”. Drew is national champion at the 3×3 but his pal Lucas is the World Record Holder aka LORD OF THE CUBE on that one (you can watch him blow the world’s mind in just 4.9 seconds here).

3 x 3 to those of us "in the know"

3 x 3 to those of us “in the know”

SO ANYWAY.  I walk in to this church gym where the competition is, and STRANGELY, there are not hundreds of people there, so I was able to walk right up front and get a seat. I didn’t see Drew’s mom (my sister-in-law Sarah) anywhere so I moseyed up to the front row where Drew was solving one cube or another. And his eyes met mine and they were filled with the glowing excitement all 16-year-olds when they see their embarrassing aunt walk into a room filled with their peers. You can imagine, I’m sure. Well, after Drew locked eyes with his fave #FanAunt, his eyes immmmmedately shifted away and then BACK to me and I saw that he had sent a secret message to his pal Lucas (see Lord of the Cube, above) and that the secret message said “MAYDAY MAYDAY! Embarrassing Adult Female Relative on the Premises!”

So naturally I got up and sauntered over to Lucas and stuck my hand out and introduced myself because OBVIOUSLY he wanted to meet me. DUH. (You’re welcome Lucas!)

I mean, look at me, you guys, I’m KIND OF a teenage dream.

Jenny is Crazy

So, I found my sister-in-law, acquired a pack of Skittles and a coke (very necessary to sugar up for cubing comps) and watched the action—which, honestly, was SO fast I could barely keep up. They had this thing really well-organized and it was all I could do to follow Drew from table to table as he completed the different rounds. I was trying really hard to be not embarrassing but in one round, he solved the Pyraminx in just 1.7 seconds and before I could stop myself, I WHOOPED aloud. Even though it was an accident, the look on Drew’s face was pretty priceless so I’m not even sorry. I DID do my best to keep it under control the rest of the time though. I SWA-EAR. And mostly, I did a great job, except for one time when he solved the 3×3 cube in just 6.36 seconds and I turned to the complete stranger next to me and declared proudly, “I saw him be born!” which is important because my being present at his birth DEFINITELY has a lot to do with how good he is at cubing.

Let's face it. I am the WIND BENEATH HIS WINGS

Let’s face it. I am the WIND BENEATH HIS WINGS

Long story long, Drew won Pyraminx, and he placed 3rd in 3×3 after his pals Lucas and Andy – which leads me to a HUGE revelation— Andy is also local to the Dayton area and ALSO HAS A FAN AUNT. When I walked in I saw another mom from my kids’ school working concessions and I was all “What are you doing here?” and she was all “my nephew helps organize this” and I was all “SO DOES MINE”! Crazy right? Turns out she’s Andy’s aunt. What are the odds? Her daughter in in Joshua’s class and her son is in Sophie’s class, so they have cubing cousins in common! Soooo I guess I’ve got some #FanAunt competition now….good thing I like you, Robin!

Here’s the fab 3, preparing to take over the world at an earlier competition:

Lucas Drew Andy

So, I really enjoyed my first cubing competition! My only regret was that I had the conference all weekend so I wasn’t able to prepare with any super embarrassing posters or life-size cutouts of Drew’s head to wave in the air.

I guess this blog post will just have to suffice!

Congrats, nephew! Can’t wait til the next one!

 

 

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Behind Enema Lines: The Day I Knew the Honeymoon Was Over

Author’s note: This was my entry for the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop Essay Contest. Once again, I LOST. But bonus, you get to hear the most embarrassing story of my LIFE, which I have actually told to very few people. I was hoping it would garner me a win! Talk about your all-time backfires. Pun intended. ENJOY!
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Behind Enema Lines: The Day I Knew the Honeymoon Was Over

 

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“Marry the person who will help you to the bathroom”.

 

So commands the title of a recent Washington Post feature in which the author describes her spouse’s tender care after her emergency C-section.

 

But I can do her one better.

 

My own emergency C-section added some marital challenges that my husband and I hadn’t foreseen. We’d always been private about “bathroom stuff”; we never dreamed we’d go from “I do” to “Can you help me pull up my mesh hospital panties?” in just under four years.

 

Courtesy of a surgery side effect called an ileus, I couldn’t poop or pass gas after birth. So, my belly, (you know, the one that just had a giant hole cut in it because my hoo-hah wouldn’t perform?) swelled back up to full-term pregnant size—and it hurt like a MOTHER. To remedy this, I got an emergency enema.

 

Fortunately for me, the enema worked. Unfortunately, it started working at the precise moment my mother-in-law chose to visit her new grandson.

 

Trust me, there’s nothing like hoping the moans of your intense pain will cover the seismic sounds of your backed up bowel contents exploding into the toilet so that your mother-in-law won’t hear. (She totally heard).

 

But the spastic colon party was really just getting started. Back in my bed, my bowels decided to prove their reactivation once again. And my poor husband? He alone had a ringside seat for this one.

 

Without warning, loud enema-fueled chemical farts started spewing forth from my nether regions. We looked at each other in shock. Farts? We don’t fart in front of each other! Before panic could even set in, volley after volley of the longest, loudest, stinkiest farts that have ever been farted came jumping out of my body. It was like an eleven-year-old boy ate a 48-ounce can of baked beans plus a tube of your grandma’s stinky antibiotic ointment and just went to TOWN.

 

Horrified, we could do nothing except laugh uncontrollably…but the laughing caused me excruciating pain. After about 15 minutes, this cycle of fart-laugh-moan had us in such hysterics that I had to banish my husband from the room so that my flatulence would be less hilarious and I wouldn’t DIE FROM THE LAUGHING PAINS.

 

Somehow, I survived—and after those odiferous fifteen minutes in that hospital room, I knew that man was in it to win it with me for LIFE. Twelve years later, we still roll with laughter when one of us brings up the “Chemical Fart Incident”.

 

So girls, please: Do marry the person who will help you to the bathroom. Or maybe? Be like me and marry the dude who can withstand your chemical farts.

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Dear Children, I Want You to Fail. Love, Mom

Note: This post was originally published on For Every Mom. I wanted to post it here first, but apparently after you neglect your blog for 3 months, it breaks! So we had to have it fixed yesterday. Oops.

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Recently Sophie and Joshua have become enamored with cooking shows, so thanks to Netflix and Hulu we’ve been watching Chopped, Cupcake Wars, and Master Chef Junior. I’ve never watched these before, but we’re enjoying them, PLUS I’m learning a lot about weird food I’ll never cook.  But, as I’ve watched and bonded with my kids over these shows, I’ve noticed a phrase that the cooking competitors say over and over again. I’ve heard it many times before in all sorts of contexts, but since we’ve been binge-watching these cooking shows, my kids and I have heard these 5 words over and over again a lot recently:

“Failure is not an option.”

And I get it. These competitors came to win, not to mess around. Winning would mean a lot for them both financially and clout-wise for their businesses.

But. I don’t like my kids hearing “Failure is not an option” over and over again. Because the truth is, failure is always an option. It is an option that all of us will have to accept at some point in our lives, willingly or unwillingly. It is a fact of life that we all need to know how to handle so that we don’t fall apart when it becomes our reality (like many of the chefs on Chopped, mere moments after we’ve confidently declared that it is not an option). I’ve been thinking about that phrase often over the past few weeks, and finally, I have to say something about it. So, pardon me while I clear my throat and take a minute to speak to my children about failure.

Dear Joshua, Sophie, and Jonah,

Hey kiddos. I want to tell you a story about your mother. When I was a junior in high school, sweet 17, I was having a pretty great year. I know it’s hard to  imagine, but I was kind of fabulous! I was the lead in the school play and the school musical. I had a solo in the honors choir. My talents were lauded and I loved what I was doing. Soon I would be a senior. The best was yet to come. (Can you imagine me being young and cool? I was, I swear.)

Jenny Annie
Your mother in her glory days. Don’t act like you’re not impressed!

At the beginning of my senior year, I approached the fall play auditions with full confidence in my abilities. I knew what part I wanted and I knew I would get it. My audition and my callback were great. There was no doubt in my mind I would succeed.

Except…I didn’t. As all of us hopefuls gathered after school around the poster in the hallway where the cast list had been posted, I eagerly looked for my name. And I looked. And I looked, and I looked. Eagerness turned to disbelief. Then the tears came. People all around me were as shocked as I was. Looks of pity abounded. I ran away humiliated.

I had failed. And not even at anything hard, kiddos. At something that came easily to me. At something I was good at. I failed big time.

I cried all the way home and all night long. I remember my mom trying to comfort me but I don’t remember what she said. I just remember the humiliation and the hurt. It was my senior year! It was supposed to be my victory lap, and I was out before the race even started. Not only did I not get the part I wanted, and I didn’t get ANY part.

Somehow I moved on—I don’t really remember how. My 18-year-old ego was bruised but I managed to show my face at school despite my failure. My friends avoided the topic, and I tried to pretend it hadn’t happened. But it was there with me, every day.

Soon, however, I had something to distract me from my failure: an accident. In one of those “urban legend” type stories, one of my best friends—a boy—had a pretty bad accident at school in shop class. And after surgeries and a solid 3 weeks of missed school, not to mention trying to study on painkillers, he needed a tutor. I was in all 3 of the required graduation classes with him, and because of my failure to win my coveted spot in the school play, I had lots of free time. Soon I was spending most days after school helping him catch up on his senior year schoolwork.

Also, since he couldn’t drive due to his injury and medications, I started picking him up for school events and soccer games. We were spending a ton of time together, and eventually, about three months after my epic failure, we started dating.
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You’re smart kids, so you’ve probably already figured out that that boy was your father. But what you didn’t know about me and your dad is that our getting together was in large part due to what at the time I considered a huge embarrassing failure. If I had gotten that part in the school play that I wanted SO badly, I would not have been available to help your dad catch up on all his school work and pass those classes he needed to graduate. I wouldn’t have become his driver, his companion, his girlfriend. Maybe God would’ve brought us together some other way, but…maybe not. After all, though I am so glad your dad and I chose each other, I don’t believe that there’s only ONE person in the world out there that you’re destined to marry. Maybe if I’d succeeded instead of failed at that school play audition, we would have remained “just friends.” Maybe I would have gone to college without a boyfriend and met some nice Christian guy there and married him instead. Maybe you kids wouldn’t be here. Maybe I would have missed a life that is so, so, so, much better than a lead role in a high school play.

Since then, I’ve failed many times over, my babies. I’ve failed at jobs, at friendships, and as you know, at countless mom moments. And that’s because, kiddos, failure is ALWAYS an option. But it’s not always a bad thing. It’s only bad if you don’t LEARN from it. In a failure you may feel pain, but you may also learn to empathize. You may be broken, but because you’re broken and desperate, you can experience the glory of being fully dependent on Christ. And you may fail at opportunities you reallyreallyreallyreallyreally want only to be available for ones you’d never dreamed of getting.

Kids, I don’t want you to be afraid of failure because I don’t want you to be afraid to TRY. I’m not looking for perfection from you, my dears, I am looking for effort. Try and care! Succeed and fail! Do it all for the Glory of God and let Him do what He wills with the results. I’m here for you no matter what. You’re loved and cherished and valued no matter what. And if you continue to give your lives to Christ, you really cannot go wrong in your failures or in your wins.

So, darlings, that’s about where I run out of wise words, but I’ll leave you with this:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” —Thomas Edison

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand”.—Proverbs 19:21

I love you guys. Now go out and try some stuff!

Love,

Mom

 

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Deck the Halls With Pasta and Gift Cards!

This post is sponsored by Piada. Naturally, all opinions, bad jokes, puns, and overly-used exclamation points (!!!) are my own.

It’s the moooost wonderful time, of the yeeeeeaaaar! (I really hope you SANG that with me as you read it. If not, please go back and DO IT AGAIN! I’ll wait…good job. Much better.)

Anyhoo. As I was saying, unless you live under a rock, you know that the Christmas season is upon us. More like ALL UP IN OUR FACES. Whew! I am feeling the holiday hustle & bustle already. Tonight is Sophie’s elementary Christmas program and although it’s usually lovely, it’s one of the most difficult nights of our year, getting everyone there and ready on time. Whew. I wish I could pay someone to do it for me and just show up and enjoy the program. (Mom of the year!!) But anyway, I am digressing AGAIN.

One of the most important parts of the holiday season for our family is giving back. We always try to involve our kiddos in the giving to show them how much better it is to give than receive, and that it is important that those who have help care for those who don’t. This year we’ve already participated in two big service events, and now we’re doing something a little different, too—participating in a gift card drive to benefit Dayton Children’s Hospital with Piada Italian Street Food.

piada

Have you ever tried Piada? When I saw one open I was a little afraid I would not be able to eat there because of my food allergies, BUT happily I CAN eat their chopped salads and THEY ARE TO DIE FOR. My husband looooooves the Piadas. So let me explain a little about what this restaurant is like if you’ve never been there.

It’s a fast casual, authentic Italian eatery with choices of fresh grill items, sauces, dressings and toppings, which can be added to three main entrees: a Piada, Pasta Bowl or Chopped Salad. Menu items are made-to-order and guests can choose from more than 30 healthy ingredients. Soooo you can really, really, really customize your food!! “Piadas” are like wraps, reimagined—they have a thin crust, made from handmade dough that is freshly baked on a stone grill. Then, the Piada is filled with Italian-inspired ingredients and hand-rolled to perfection.

Related: I AM SO HUNGRY RIGHT NOW! We have a Piada conveniently located on the way home from church in Kettering, soooo it’s a favorite place to stop for lunch! But there are actually three Piadas in our area. In addition to the one we frequent, there are locations in Beavercreek and Centerville, too.

Besides the DELICIOUS food, here’s another reason to go to Piada this holiday season. Piada is holding a gift card drive in December benefiting Dayton Children’s Hospital, and it’s a total win-win! Here’s how it works:  Gift cards, of any denomination, will be accepted at all three Piada locations in the Dayton area (Kettering, Centerville and Beavercreek). In exchange, each guest who donates a gift card will receive a free meal at Piada, including Piadas, Pasta Bowls and Chopped Salads.

DID YOU HEAR THAT? You give, you get! Personally, we have had great experiences with Dayton Children’s Hospital in both the ER and with tests our kids have had. I know many other families who have greatly benefited from the great therapies available through Dayton Children’s as well. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know I have beautiful little friend named Joy, and she is literally the poster child for the wonderful care that Dayton Children’s gives!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children's!

My girl Joy Marie is a star therapy recipient at Dayton Children’s!

Additionally, there are many kiddos who have long-term illnesses there, and they and their families will really benefit from this gift card drive! Providing gift cards to in-need patients and their families is the best way to get them exactly what they need this holiday season. In fact, gift cards are at the top of Dayton Children’s Hospital’s wish list and allow kids and families to pick out their own toys and gifts, as well as purchase necessities such as food, clothing, medicine and gasoline. Having a child in the hospital long term is extremely taxing on the emotional, physical, and financial needs of a family, and the gift cards collected at Piada will go a LONG way in soothing some of these difficulties for these precious families this holiday season.

Allright, soooo…what are you waiting for! Get ye to Piada between NOW and December 27th to give give give and eat, eat, eat!

If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments! And stay tuned…we will have a Piada GIVEAWAY coming up later in the month!

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Playing around with Wonder Forge

One of the benefits (to me) of Jenny having a job is that she has no time. (Having a job is tough, yo.) Therefore when Wonder Forge reached out to see if she would do her annual game review, she passed the honors on to me, which is awesome since they have several new Star Wars games out and I have several Star Wars fans at my house!

The first one we checked out was Galaxy Hunt. Sam was pretty pumped.

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This game requires each player to remove a certain piece from the board without causing the spring-loaded bar to move. It’s very easy to play, and requires problem-solving as well as some basic math skills, as each piece is worth positive or negative points.

We also played Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike.

star wars destroyer strike

Here’s the description:
Strategy and suspense collide in the exciting Star Wars Star Destroyer Strike Game. The Star Destroyer Finalizer is out to eliminate the Resistance. Advance your heroes to safety before the starship of the First Order has you in its line of fire. Evade surprise blasts that can happen when you least expect it, and outwit your opponents by bouncing the “laser” blasts off the deflector shield towards them. It’s fast-moving galactic fun for the whole family.

This was also a lot of fun, and Sam loved the lights and sounds. It requires some strategy, which makes it fun for the adults as well as kids. One thing that is a little different is that it’s set up on a track rather than a board. Pretty cool!

Confession time – the thing I liked MOST about these two games is that while they were Star Wars themed, those of us who are a little less, un, well-versed in the Rebel Alliance could play along without any trouble. That’s great for me, because if Star Wars trivia is involved, I can’t hold a candle to Sam or Andy.

Which brings me to…

Star Wars Pictopia

star wars pictopia

Pictopia has been on my “to buy” list for a while now. I have heard nothing but good things about it. The Star Wars version didn’t disappoint! It contains more than 1,000 questions about the planets, ships, villains and heroes, and you can wager different amounts depending on your confidence in your knowledge. (Needless to say, I took the conservative route.) This game is unique in that it combines teamwork with individual play, which puts an interesting twist on it. We liked the game so much that we ordered the Disney version for Kate for Christmas!

Wonder Forge has everything you need to make Christmas break fun! In addition to the Star Wars games, they’ve got a Peanuts Snoopy Flying Ace game, The Good Dinosaur Roarin’ River game, and more. Stay up-to-date on all of their offerings by liking their Facebook page!

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A Little Help

I often say that childcare has been the numero uno most stressful part of my parenting experience. (Which, when I think about it, makes me very, very lucky.) We are closing in on the end of that portion of our lives, as Kate can stay home by herself for short periods of time, but there are still occasions on which we need a little help.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out an app designed to make childcare arrangements a little easier, and I wanted to tell you about it. The app is called Little Helper, and it enables you to create a community of people you know and trust, and to ask (and give!) help when you need it. So, if you’re in a bind, you can send a message to your network that says “Can anyone keep my kids on Friday while I go to the dentist?” Those in your network will see it and can decide (without pressure) whether or not they can help. It takes a little of the stress off of both sides of that equation.

It’s easy. You create an event (which takes less than 30 seconds)…

little helper app

Notify your helpers…

little helper app2

And find and give help.

little helper app3

A key element to Little Helper is trust. It’s a closed environment where you know exactly who can see your request, whereas you might be a little hesitant to say “Hey, can anyone watch my kids while I leave my house empty and available for break ins next weekend?” That’s a bit dramatic, but I think you know what I mean! Even though I have privacy settings on my Facebook page, I don’t have a close relationship with each person I am friends with to say the least, and I don’t necessarily know that every single one of them is super trustworthy. Little Helper is safer in that capacity.

Some other ways Little Helper can be used:
— Co-parenting situations
— Pet care, lawn care, etc.
— Barter/credit system to trade time – people who have time rather than money and are willing to give it as payment, and vice versa.
— GPS-connected car pooling
— See more ideas on their blog

Little Helper is in the testing phase right now, which means there is currently not a fee for using it. If you check it out, leave a comment here and let me know what you think about it – I am interested to hear if it could be a solution for you!

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#DriveKia

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I recently had the opportunity to drive a Kia Sorento SXL 2.0T with all-wheel drive, and I loved it! It was super fun to have a brand new (incredibly clean) car delivered to my driveway… even though it was only for a week, I felt very fancy! It’s a contender for 2016 North American Car & Truck of the Year for a week, and I can see why.

The Sorento has a very technologically-advanced feel to me. Andy and I kept talking about just how much information is available on the dashboard.

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As you can see, it’s got a great display for a GPS (why yes, I do drive to the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe frequently. I told you I was fancy. Okay fine, I stole that photo) and it’s set up for Pandora, among other things. It was really easy for me to pair my phone with the bluetooth system. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but considering I haven’t gotten around to digging out the manual to figure out how to do it in my own van, I was excited about that. I could even use Siri through the voice recognition in the car.

And get this – it shows the speed limit of wherever you happen to be. We are living in the future, I’m telling you.

However. I haven’t told you the best part yet.

The camera.

Check this out.

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There are 360 cameras that show the entire area surrounding the car when you’re trying to park. So not only can you see what’s behind you, you can see what’s all around. Which means you don’t have to cross your fingers and hope you’re not going to sideswipe the car next to you. (What? It can’t be just me.) You can see the lines of the parking space. It is amazing.

To be quite honest, that camera/display system could be set up in a tin can and I would still love it, but the rest of the car was great too! My kids loved riding in it – they really, really wanted to keep it, actually. Andy and I enjoyed driving it as well. It drives kind of in between a car and a minivan. It is low enough that it was easy for my 90 year old grandma to get in and out of, but it is high enough to not break your back putting babies in a car seat. I’m a little past that stage of life, but I remember it well!

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Learn more about the Kia Sorento here, and follow Kia on Twitter!

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It’s National Down Syndrome Awareness Month & Pampers is Making it #BetterForBaby

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If you’ve been following this blog for any decent amount of time, you know that people with special needs, especially Down syndrome, are very precious to me. Since October is Down syndrome awareness month, I want to once again tell you about my friend Joy Marie Minor! Joy turned 3 in April and since she was an infant, it’s been my privilege to walk on her Buddy Walk for Down syndrome team and raise $$ for our local chapter of the Down Syndrome Association. ALL of the funds raised stay here in our area to help our friends with Down syndrome get the therapies and services they need to fully rock out their extra chromosome. Since I’ve had two out of my three kiddos in various therapies, I know how expensive it is. The money we raise helps out with these expenses and more! Joy works her butt off in therapy 5 days a week and has recently started taking steps on her own. She is a rock star!

This year because of my affiliation with the Pampers Baby Board, I was able to give a grant of $2500 to an organization I felt made life #BetterForBaby, which is a main aim of the Pampers brand – making life better for baby! Since the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association helps babies with Down syndrome and their families as they grow, I knew I’d be blessing the Buddy Walk with my grant! I spread the grant money out over three Buddy Walk teams that are special to me including Joy’s Team Peace, Love, and Joy which my family and I walk on. Thanks in part to Pampers we were a top fundraising team! Whoop whoop!

BuddyWalk

Joy has so many people who love and support her!

Joy has so many people who love and support her!

People with Down syndrome may have an extra chromosome, but they are just like you and me. They are people with dreams, struggles, highs, lows, talents, abilities, goals, wins, and losses. The reality is they need some extra help through therapy but SO many others do too – like I said, two out of three of my kids have. I appreciate Pampers #BetterForBaby helping to truly make life better for these amazing people who live, love, learn, and work in our community. It’s an honor and a blessing to be associated with such a giving brand who sees the value in every baby!

Thanks Pampers, for making life #BetterforBaby and for helping me to bless the Miami Valley Down Syndrome Association and the three Buddy Walk teams that are special to me: Team Peace, Love, & Joy, Emmaline Curley’s Crew, and the Carsonettes!

Happy Down Syndrome Awareness Month! To learn more about Down Syndrome, check out this link! And check out this awesome Pampers #BetterForBaby video that will make you cry!

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“He Named Me Malala” in Theaters October 9

What do you have going on this weekend? For us, it’s one of those rare times that we don’t have too much on the calendar. Soccer game tomorrow morning and dinner out with friends tomorrow night… but other than that, we’re not scheduled.

If you have some time this weekend as well, I have a good idea for how you can spend it – go to the movies!

Specifically, go see “He Named Me Malala.”

Doesn’t that look amazing?!?

It’s the story of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakastani teenager who was shot in the head for speaking out about the radical idea that girls should be able to go to school. As I’m sure you know, Malala recovered from her life-threatening injuries and has gone on to have an incredible impact on the world and was even granted the Nobel Peace Prize.

I read her book several years ago, and I had the opportunity to sit in on a conference call recently where she answered questions posed to her by mom bloggers. I was impressed with her kindness and humor, and the amazing way she articulates her vision. Did you know that providing 12 years of high-quality education for every child in the world would cost what we collectively spend on military power in just eight days?

Let that sink in for just a minute.

I really want to take Kate to see the movie! It’s a complex topic, though, and there’s a parents guide available here that will help facilitate discussion with our kids.

“He Named Me Malala” is showing in a couple theaters near us (Dayton peeps – it’s at the Fairfield Commons theater, as well as at The Greene), and I’m sure it’s showing near you as well. Check here to find out!

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Win Tickets to Marvel Universe LIVE in Cincinnati!

Jenny and I both have some serious Marvel fans in our house! Take, for instance, Halloween 2014, when Ultron, Iron Man, and Starlord were all at my house:

Joshua was Falcon from the Captain America movie and Jonah was a reluctant Ironman.

Halloween Sam

Needless to say we are SUPER PUMPED about Marvel Universe LIVE coming to Cincinnati!

Marvel fans, assemble! Marvel Universe LIVE! is taking the live entertainment experience to a whole new level, with a mind-blowing show unlike anything you’ve seen before. Watch your favorite Marvel Super Heroes including Spider-Man and the Avengers (Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and more) and threatening villains come to life in an action-packed arena extravaganza, coming to the Cincinnati. You’ll definitely feel the energy with cutting-edge special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts, motorcycles and more. It’s being hailed as the most technically advanced live show ever. Join Marvel fans of all ages for this once-in-a-lifetime, monumental performance. The fate of the universe depends on it!

Stay up to date on the show by liking their Facebook page and following them on Twitter!

Marvel Universe LIVE will have five shows in Cincinnati between December 17 and December 20. Kids’ tickets start at $20 and can be purchased through TicketMaster.

We are giving away a four-pack of tickets for the show on December 17 at 7:00 PM! To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us your child’s favorite Marvel character. The contest will close on November 1, 2015 and a winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

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