Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Living in the relaxing, low maintenance “Sunshine State” has drastically reduced my need for “stuff”.  However, there are some Floridian essentials, such as a favorite pair of flip-flips, a great fitting bathing suit and the perfect pair of sunglasses.

Normally, I am the type of person who can spend up to an hour in a store trying on numerous pairs of glasses before making a purchase.  Are they the right fit, the right shape, the right weight?  And most importantly, do they make me feel like a rock star?

I currently have an awesome pair of black Prada’s that I love.  But I was looking for a neutral, lighter pair of shades for the summer. So, I decided to try shopping for my new pair of glasses online. Admittedly, I was skeptical about making a purchase without being able to see them on my face in person. Enter GlassesShop. offers an impressive selection of frames with both prescription and non-prescription lenses.  To make the selection easier, I was able to narrow down my search by choosing the color, prescription type and price.

After finding the perfect pair of glasses, I was able to virtually try them on, which was my favorite part of the GlassesShop web site.  Snapping a quick picture with my webcam gave me a pretty good idea of what the glasses would look like on my face, and allayed my fear of being stuck with a pair of shades that I didn’t really like.

In addition, ordering was a cinch.  I simply picked out the frames (I chose Lena-Oval in tortoise), the lens type (distance, computer, reading, bi-focal, progressive, sunglasses), the tint (I chose the brown tint) and that was it.  For those of you who wear prescription sunglasses, there is an option to enter your prescription information before checkout.

Now, I get really excited when I know there is a package coming for me in the mail (yet another benefit of ordering glasses online). Who doesn’t, right?  So when I saw the glasses-shaped box in the mail, I couldn’t wait to tear it open! 

As I slipped my new specs onto my face, two words came to mind.  Rock. Star.

With the glasses on my face, I fell into a dreamlike state, enticing paparazzi with a smile while showing off my new shades.  I was mentally trying on all of my clothes, finding the perfect outfits to complement my new sunglasses. In other words, I was thrilled!

After spending some time in the hot Florida sun with my new glasses, I found that they are perfectly lightweight, but sturdy and well-fitting at the same time.  Who knew that spending half the time and half the money would result in such a great pair of glasses

And thanks to GlassesShop, my inner rock star is now always on display.

If you want to find your inner rock star, go check out and use my discount code for 50% your purchase!

Code: GSHOT50

Thanks for reading! 

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own and not influenced by the developing company or any of its affiliates.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Un-Stepdad

No matter how many similarities all parents may have, the truth is that we are all unique in our own ways. How you do your family is probably a little different than how we do ours, and when you have a step-family, those differences only increase. 

I once explained my situation to a friend, and he was pretty vocal about his disagreement and thought a step-father should play a more prominent role in my kids’ lives. Though he made some valid points, I held fast to the idea that what works for my family doesn’t necessarily work for everyone else.
My children have a father, who is not my husband John. So prior to introducing my girls to the new man who would be in their lives, I had a long discussion with John about what I needed his role to be when it came to my children. I wasn’t looking for a helping hand, or a babysitter, or a father figure. I was looking for a man who was willing to take a back seat to my children’s father. We ultimately agreed that he could offer his friendship and some minimal guidance. But as for parenting? No thanks. I got this.

However, just last year (after a three year engagement), John and I finally tied the knot. Though our marriage certificate officially gave him the stepdad title, I didn’t want that piece of paper to change the relationship he had built with my girls. I didn’t even want the term “stepdad” to be used, as the word “dad” implies that John has some of the same powers as their father does. For some, the role of stepfather includes certain expectations like disciplining, attending events for the child, giving financial assistance, helping the kids with homework or teaching them to play a sport. While those expectations do exist for my ex-husband, they do not exist for John. And I didn’t ever want my girls to feel conflicted about where their loyalties should lie.

As you can imagine, the scenario I have created for John’s association with my daughters is probably not an easy adjustment for anyone. Asking the man, who coexists with your children, to limit his involvement and give up a certain amount of control over the children he has come to love is not ideal.  However, John’s agreement to be a part of this crazy domestic structure has given my children a third constant in their lives - the “un-step-dad”.

Having John in our lives provides my girls with a relationship that can be the hardest to create as a parent. He is able to tap into their friendship during the times when my ex-husband and I need to be parents.

John embodies his role as buddy by creating an environment where my girls can feel silly and curious and playful. Even when they are acting up, rather than yelling at them, I’ve overheard him whisper, “Hey girls, I’m not trying to tell you what to do, but if your mom sees what you’re up to, she’s probably not going to be happy.” And he leaves it at that. 

Because he is not the rule enforcer or the speech giver, he is a safe place for them. While he makes it known that his support is always with me, he also gives them an outlet to just be themselves. He doesn’t solely act like a friend-he actually is their friend. 

He is their cheerleader, their creative guru, their chess partner, their encyclopedia, their roughhousing champion. He is what lies beneath the layer of parenting that my ex-husband and I provide. He may be invisible to my girls as a parental figure, but the very reason this family succeeds is because of him- the un-step-dad. 

*This piece was published on The Good Men Project on June 17, 2016.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Summer at Camp Mom

Recently, my eleven year old daughter divulged her plans to attend college in Switzerland. Initially, the thought of this filled me with pride and excitement for her. Then, the mom in me roared her ugly head, reminding me that while I do a pretty decent job at mothering, I still have quite a way to go.

My best “mom” strength is my follow-through. For example, I once threatened to cancel a day in Disney due to a behavior issue. And guess what? I turned my car around mid-ride, and we sat home instead. Ever since “The Mickey Incident”, I’ve never had to repeat myself. Yeah…so I’m no joke.

BUT…when it comes to educating my daughters about what they will need to be productive members of society, I tend to sabotage my super human follow-through strength, and I get a bit lackadaisical. I think it’s partly because A) the more “grown up” tasks I show my kids, the more it makes me realize that the “I-need-my-mom” time with them is getting shorter, and B) it’s always easier and faster if I just complete these tasks myself.

So this summer, I have decided to bite the bullet and begin teaching them how to do some small daily chores on their own that will hopefully benefit them as adults. It’s time to say hello to autonomy.
I’m starting slowly…with a jar that I’ve labeled the “Things We Will Learn This Summer at Camp Mom”. It’s nothing fancier than a container I found at the dollar store with a “Camp Mom” clip art printout from a Google search taped to it. But inside is where the “fun” begins.

The Camp Mom Jar

I’ve individually folded up a number of responsibilities that I will be transferring to them this summer, and once per week, they will dig inside the container and choose their mission. There are some jobs that will be more challenging, like balancing a checkbook, or planting and caring for a fruit or vegetable in our yard. But there are others which they have inconsistently done before, like making their own breakfast and picking out their clothes for the day. Going forward, no more help from mom.
For all of you silently muttering that my kids should have been doing this stuff years ago, I know. And for those of you thinking I am a tyrant for expecting too much of my girls over the summer, think about it. Back in the 1800s, six-year-old kids used to hunt for their food, skin it, cook it, make their own butter, and do their own laundry in a wash basin. Okay, maybe I’ve watched too many Little House of the Prairie episodes, but you get my point.

Camp Mom Little House

I believe it’s okay to expect more from my kids. Oh…and by the way, we’re going to Ireland on a family vacation this summer, so I’m not oppressing them too much, right?

As they get older, I hope to keep this summer tradition and continue to teach my daughters tasks like how to change a light bulb, hang a picture frame, find a local bus route and take public transportation. I’m hoping I don’t forget anything too vital. But mostly, I hope that my super mom follow-through power will not fail me as I go through the hardest task of all – letting go.

*This piece was published on Reality Moms on June 5, 2016.