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Mamapedia City Voices highlights the inside scoop on your city by selected writers, from up-and-coming mom bloggers to well-known mom experts.

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Did I Do Enough?

September 1, 2014

Last night, after gingerly sneaking out of my sleeping son’s room to the familiar sounds of his gentle snores, the quiet creakiness of a house after dark (and my guilt for leaving him while he’s asleep and unable to protest) I retreated to my office to write. I needed the soothing taptaptap of my keyboard. I needed the quiet, and a glass of wine. I needed to figure out why, with all of the amazing fun that Tucker and I have had this summer… I felt so damned sad.

Last week began as many other summertime weeks have, with too-late bedtimes, playgrounds, bounce houses, belly-laughs, and mindlessly boring but encouraging imaginative play. It also began with the stress of not being able to fulfill my commitment to my job as the sitters I’d counted on for those hours cancelled four out of five of the days (seriously).

At first, I assumed that I was stressed out and feeling sad because of breaking my commitment. And then, I realized that there is more to it than that.

I’m feeling sad for the end of summer.

I’m sad, because Tucker is starting kindergarten and, in many ways, it is the beginning of the end of his childhood.

While I know that he will be a child for years and years and years, and will always forever be my baby even when he towers over me, kindergarten feels like The Milestone that, when reached, means that life as I’ve known it with my son will never be the same.

Did I do enough with him this summer? Have I done enough to prepare him to be in a classroom with a lot of typical children? Will he be afraid? Overwhelmed? Picked on?

Have I done enough to let him know how much I love him this summer? Have I done enough to celebrate his youth, his ever changing childhood, and the him that he is, has been, and will become?

Have I done enough in this life of mine? Have I done enough, ever?

I suspect that, as with many of life’s difficult questions, that the answer to all of these questions is both yes and no.

No, I have not done enough. I can do more.

And yes, I suspect that I have done exactly enough.

I have to believe that I have created a summer full of beautiful memories for my little boy. I know that he, and all of us, found glory and wonder at the beach, at his graduation party, at Dutch Wonderland (twice, as we went again this past weekend, just for the day), and waterparks, zoos, playgrounds, and even here, at home. Playing with Legos, playing hide and seek… playing. Even when it didn’t feel fun – to me – at the time, it was gratifying, afterwards.

When it comes down to it, this week has been incredible in many, many ways. It’s been more than enough, and has been full of little moments and big ones. Ones that will help to prepare Tucker for school, and ones that will help prepare me to have the faith that I need to watch him fly.

I’m thankful, for this week, and this summer. My last summer before my only child goes to kindergarten.

Kristi Campbell almost always leaves the house in either flip-flops or Uggs, depending on the weather. Although she works part-time, her passion is writing and drawing really stupid-looking pictures for her blog Finding Ninee. Finding Ninee (pronounced 9E for her son’s pronunciation of the word airplane) started due to a memoir, abandoned when Kristi read that a publisher would rather shave a cat than read another. Its primary focus is to find and provide humor and support in a “Middle World,” one where the autism spectrum exists but a diagnosis does not. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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The Moment I Stopped Caring About My Weight

August 31, 2014

In college I was a svelte 130 pounds. I could wear anything and look like a waif. I could eat buckets of ice cream or live on black coffee and cigarettes, it didn’t matter because my weight was seemingly never more than an ounce over 130 lbs. Life was pretty good.

And then I got mortgaged to my long-term boyfriend. Add 10 lbs.

And then I got pregnant. Add another 10 lbs. once the post pregnancy weight finally evened out.

And then I got married to the long-term boyfriend.

And then I went through grad school. Holy eff. And then I got pregnant with baby number two. Ugh… I ballooned to 195 lbs.

After I had my second son I went on a serious diet and crunched, squatted and celery chomped my way down 45 lbs. I landed on a firm and seemingly immovable 150 lbs. that – despite my very best efforts – will not seem to budge.

When I began my diet quest I had visions of size 4 black dresses dancing through my postpartum head. I wanted to shake my mama tushie and not feel a tidal wave of jiggle following suit. I wanted to relive my glory days of skinny but with the wisdom and self-confidence gained as Mom.

That little realization about what I wanted (skinny + confidence) was the moment when I knew I no longer cared about losing weight. I knew I was sexy. My body made TWO PEOPLE for crying out loud. Why was I so freaked out about a few extra pounds?!

While 150 lbs. at my height is not medically considered over weight, the muffin top, mom pants, and desire to give up, all indicated to me that I was in a downward spiral of fatness. Except that… who cares?

I’m married. My husband is happy if he gets any attention in the boudoir aside from nagging complaints to “Get up! You’ll be late for work!” What the hell does he care if there is a little bit more to hold on to?

And what exactly is it that I am so gung-ho to relive anyway? The last time I was a size 4, I got a lot of snarky remarks from friends and family to eat because I looked too thin.

These days I am happily living in limbo between a size 10 and a size 8. My hips will fit into one size, my Mom butt into another. Meanwhile, I am wholly consumed with the desire to find shirts long enough to cover my muffin top. You know what I wear every single day? I wear yoga pants, an old paint stained tee shirt, and if I get a chill I cover up with a flannel shirt that has seen better days.

I have not worked up the nerve to start wearing Spanx. Not yet.

My days revolve around cooking, cleaning, chasing my children, entertaining, educating, trying to remember that I require eating, bathroom breaks, and occasionally a moment to myself to breathe. Nowhere in this kind of business that comes with having very young children is there room for me to fret about something as vapid as a body issue.

My kids are watching me. The last thing these two young boys need is a mom with body issues to teach them that girls have weirdo body hang-ups. I’d rather teach them that I am a woman and a mom and as such I celebrate my body and my femininity. They need to see a strong woman with body pride.

As if that were not enough to kill my diet woes (and it is) I have this to remember as well: I have a closet full of beautiful size 8 and size 10 clothes. I donated all the size 4 dresses to Goodwill years ago.

So there. I give up on dieting. I’m perfectly happy to have some extra knocking around.

Sarah Cottrell is a member of the SAHM (Stay-At-Home-Mom) Club and proud herder of two youngsters. When she is not Mom-ing it up, Sarah is a freelance writer and editor. She is currently writing her first book, a satirical parenting manual. You can find her on her blog at Housewife Plus.

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Where is It? Hold On, Let Me Check My Uterus!

August 30, 2014

For some reason, men can’t seem to find things. Maybe it’s because they’re usually focused on other things; like what’s in their pants… or getting into yours.

Whatever the reason, my experience with men and locating items is they can’t seem to do it without my help.

Am I just a really good finder of missing items? Probably, although I often lose my dignity at karaoke bars and have trouble locating it. (It’s not at the bottom of five glasses of vodka. That’s always the first place I check.)

Maybe I’m just overly talented at finding things, and that’s why I’m often summoned to locate anything from missing car keys to the mustard in the fridge… in the same exact place it always resides.

I suspect part of the reason I’m so good at tracking things down is because I’m great at word searches. I’m fricking fantastic at those bitches. I can find the most complicated of words among a sea of vowels and consonants.

Actually, that fact doesn’t have anything to do with this post. I just wanted to find a way to sneak in the fact that I kick ass at word searches.

Mission accomplished.

Back to locating things: I don’t think I’m alone in my experience of being the go-to person for finding lost items. I think it’s a widespread occurrence.

For some reason, men need women not only for procreating, and endless hours of boob-grabbing, but also for tracking down missing underwear.

Dare I say this is an epidemic? I dare.

Dare I say it’s worldwide? I double dare.

I’m totally a daredevil when it comes to making allegations about men losing things. (I also love Double Dare and Marc Summers.

I feel confident saying that women across the globe are inundated with inquiries as to where their male loved-one last left his favorite pair of running shoes. (In the bathroom under the sink. Duh.)

This phenomenon is not limited to adult males. Rather, such forgetfulness starts at a young age.

Forgetting where they put their favorite fire engine develops into forgetting to call their girlfriends, and then eventually leads to forgetting they were supposed to be home at 6:00 to clean the house.

Okay, those last two aren’t necessarily about losing things but I think they support the overall premise that men are forgetful.

What’s my point? That’s an excellent question. My point is that either men are lazy and want to make women do all of their searching, or men are born with an inherent ability to lose things.

I’m not sure which explanation makes me sadder.

The only logical conclusion I’ve drawn from all of this (aside from the fact I will definitely get comments on this post about being a man-hater), is the reason women are so great at locating lost items is because of their uterus.

It’s one of the things that makes us different from men, and it’s clearly where we derive our ability to locate long lost possessions.

Notice I didn’t say it’s our vaginas. It’s not. Vaginas have enough things to worry about without having to locate little Timmy’s lost soccer uniform.

Plus, men can purchase artificial vaginas and I don’t think they have any better luck locating things just because they have a pocket pu$$y.

This leads me to my well-reasoned belief that women are capable of finding nearly anything simply because we have (or have had) a uterus.

It’s a fact, mostly because I said so.

The uterus is basically a beacon shining brightly, pointing the way to all of those missing puzzle pieces and lone socks. What else could be the cause of our magical powers?

Nothing. It’s the uterus.

Does that mean if you’ve had a hysterectomy you are no longer a finder of things? Of course not! If you’ve ever had a uterus, even if it was subsequently removed, you still retain your mad GPS skills because you were initially granted the infinite tracking abilities a uterus provides.

So there you have it. Mystery solved. Now you know why everyone comes to women for anything that’s lost (or in plain sight).

Come to think of it, if women were in charge of the search party, they would have found Amelia Earhart within an hour.

Lisa is a humor blogger who plays an unconvincing lawyer in real life. She shouldn’t be allowed around sharp objects, breakables, or carbohydrates. She prefers dogs over most people, and food over most everything. She will make you feel better about your own life and remind you that vodka is the answer to everything, except if the question is ‘What should I throw on this fire?’ Then the answer is definitely NOT vodka. You can find her on her blog, Facebook, TwitterNewlin, and Google+>_

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Things Every Freshman Parent Needs to Know

August 29, 2014

Having your first-born become a high school freshman is a lot like giving birth. It’s painful, messy and not at all like you expected. Worst of all there are no drugs this time around to take away the pain.

Be ready to be shocked when your child comes home after one day in high school and has suddenly become smarter than you. It’s nothing short of a miracle that so much knowledge can be attained in one six period day. Someone should really call the Pope!

You may have your Masters degree, and 14 years of parenting under your belt, but they have been through one day of freshman year surrounded by the brilliant minds of their peers. Your I.Q. just dropped 100 points.

Tempted as you may be to check, you won’t find Eye Rolling 101 on their schedules. This is a skill that must have been picked up during lunch or passing period. My theory is, let them roll their eyes all they want. It’s not bothering me, and they don’t make any noise doing it. I’m all about teenage rebellion that doesn’t make noise!

English Language is found on their schedule, but for the rest of their high school career the only words you will hear are “whatever”, “mom, you are so weird” and “yes, Mom all the other moms let their kids (insert something stupid, dangerous or expensive here).

So here’s a handy list of things every Freshman parent NEEDS to know:

  • When it comes to parenting your high school teen there is power in numbers. Get to know their friends parents and start a group text immediately. All activities must be confirmed. Parent group texting is like the condom for parenting teens. It can stop fun and prevent pregnancy with one click of the send button.
  • They will tell you their teachers are mean, unfair and out to get them. There hasn’t been so much conspiracy in the air since Kennedy was assassinated.
  • Nothing is ever their fault, and the teacher will never tell them about a research project until the day before it’s due because she hates them and wants them to fail.
  • Best defense against this injustice is to act outraged. Grab your keys and tell them you are going straight to the school to let that teacher know they can’t treat your child this way!
  • At the sight of this they will start to stutter and back peddle. Sit back and enjoy. It will be entertaining so grab some popcorn.
  • Your teen will try to convince you that no other parents chaperone dances or go on field trips. To hear them tell it, the schools just bus the kids to a location and let them wander around aimlessly. No parental supervision needed.
  • Don’t believe it! Sign up for everything. Check the bottom of their backpacks for sign up sheets.I have had so many mothers say to me “Well, they don’t want me to go!” My answer to that is if they want to be left alone they can go to and get a mortgage and move out. Until then you will see them on the field trip bus.
  • The most important thing to remember when parenting a teen in high school is to think back to what it was like when you were in high school. Aside from my failed bikini wax it was the single scariest time of my life.

High school is about survival. One wrong move and you are the butt of jokes for the next four years.

It’s like walking a tight rope without a net every single day. That kind of pressure along with raging hormones will make anyone a little crazy and cranky.

Be kind. Be patient. Be tolerant. Listen. I mean really listening and not just waiting to respond. As hard as all this is for you, it’s a million times harder for them.

Although there will be many times that your teen will seem unlovable, love them anyway. If they cringe when you hug them, hug them even tighter. When they scream they hate you for making rules and setting boundaries, set them anyway.

It’s crunch time. It is your job to make sure they are ready for what life throws at them and loving, listening, hugs and boundaries are a great place to start.

Kim Eller is the wild and crazy single mom of two teenagers and personal slave to one very spoiled beagle. Her blog Kim’s Crazy Life is featured in The Oakland Press and her hilarious stand-up was featured at the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers Conference. She believes you can have it all, but you will need to be medicated! You can find more of Kim on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+.

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10 Apps Every Parent Should Know

August 28, 2014

You may be thinking your kids are downloading apps because they are just a simple way for them to keep in contact with their friends. This is certainly true for most kids, but unfortunately, even innocent use of most of these apps can land a kid in a situation he/she never intended to be in. Here are some apps that are popular among kids and why they are potentially problematic for them:

1. Tinder: An app that is used for hooking-up and dating. Users can rate profiles and find potential hook-ups via GPS location tracking. 450 million profiles are rated every day! The good news is, this app pulls information from user’s Facebook profiles, so it is more authenticated than other apps.

Problem: It is easy for adults and minors to find one another. Also, due to the rating system, it is often used for cyber-bullying, because a group of kids can target another kid and purposefully make his/her rating go down.

2. Snapchat: This app allows a user to send photos and videos to anyone on his/her friend list. The sender can determine how long the receiver can view the image and then the image “destructs” after the allotted time.

Problem: It is the #1 app used for sexting, mostly because people think it is the safer way to sext. However, the “snaps” can easily be recovered & the receiver can take a screen shot and share it with others. Also, a lot of images from Snapchat get posted to revenge porn sites, called “snap porn”.

3. Blendr: A flirting app used to meet new people through GPS location services. You can send messages, photos, videos, rate the hotness of other users, etc.

Problem: There are no authentication requirements, so sexual predators can contact minors, minors can meet up with adults. And again, the sexting.

4. Kik Messenger: An instant messaging app with over 100 million users that allows users to exchange videos, pics, and sketches. Users can also send YouTube videos and create memes & digital gifs.

Problem: Kids use the app for sexting and sending nude selfies through the app is common. The term “sext buddy” is being replaced with “Kik buddy”. Kids use Reddit and other forum sites to place classified ads for sex by giving out their Kik usernames. Also, Kik does not offer any parental controls and there is no way of authenticating users, thus making it easy for sexual predators to use the app to interact with minors.

5. Whisper: Whisper is an anonymous confession app. It allows users to superimpose text over a picture in order to share their thoughts and feelings anonymously. However, you post anonymously, but it displays the area you are posting from. You can also search for users posting within a mile from you.

Problem: Due to the anonymity, kids are posting pics of other kids with derogatory text superimposed on the image. Also, users do not have to register to use Whisper and can use the app to communicate with other users nearby through GPS. A quick look at the app and you can see that online relationships are forming through the use of this app, but you never know the person behind the computer or phone. Sexual predators also use the app to locate kids and establish a relationship. One man in Seattle, Washington was charged with raping a 12-year-old girl he met on this app in 2013.

6. is one of the most popular social networking sites that is almost exclusively used by kids. It is a Q&A site that allows users to ask other users questions while remaining anonymous.

Problem: Kids will often ask repeated derogatory questions that target one person. Due to the anonymity of the badgering, it creates a virtually consequence-free form of cyber-bullying. has been associated with 9 documented cases of suicide in the U.S. and the U.K.

7. Yik Yak: An app that allows users to post text-only “Yaks” of up to 200 characters. The messages can be viewed by the 500 Yakkers who are closest to the person who wrote the Yak, as determined by GPS tracking.

Problem: Users are exposed to and are contributing sexually explicit content, derogatory language, and personal attacks. Although the posts are anonymous, kids start revealing personal information as they get more comfortable with other users.

8. Poof: This app allows users to make other apps “disappear” on their phone. Kids can hide any app they don’t want you to see by opening the app and selecting other apps.

Problem: It’s obvious, right? Luckily, you can no longer purchase this app. But, if it was downloaded before it became unavailable, your child may still have it. Keep in mind that these types of apps are created and then terminated quickly, but similar ones are continuously being created. Others to look for: Hidden Apps, App Lock, and Hide It Pro.

9. Omegle: This app is primarily used for video chatting. When you use Omegle, you do not identify yourself through the service. Instead, chat participants are only identified as “You” and “Stranger”. However, you can connect Omegle to your Facebook account to find chat partners with similar interests. When choosing this feature, an Omegle Facebook App will receive your Facebook “likes” and try to match you with a stranger with similar likes.

Problem: Sexual predators use this app to find kids to collect personal information from in order to track them down more easily in person.

10. Down: This app, which used to be called Bang with Friends, is connected to Facebook. Users can categorize their Facebook friends in one of two ways: They can indicate whether or not a friend is someone they’d like to hang with or someone they are “down” to hook-up with.

Problem: Although identifying someone you are willing to hook-up with doesn’t mean you will actually hook-up with them, it creates a hook-up norm within a peer group. Depending on your sexual values, this might be something you don’t want for your child. Also, because of the classification system, a lot of kids will feel left out or unwanted, which can lead to anxiety, etc.

The most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your children from dangers that are associated with the use of these apps is to talk with them frequently about their social lives. You can start by establishing yourself as an approachable parent and talking with them early and often about sexuality and romantic relationships. Without a strong bond and open communication, trying to regulate and monitor internet use won’t be very effective. However, setting technology boundaries (when and where they access the internet) and monitoring their online behavior can be effective if you have a strong foundation to build on. You can access a list of monitoring software I recommend here. Just remember to keep on top of it, there is no software that can eliminate risk or the need to parent. Ultimately, your goal is to raise an individual who can manage his/her online and offline behavior in a healthy way because he/she wants to. The process starts with you nurturing a strong emotional bond, leading by example, and setting the boundaries. You can do it!

Megan Maas, M.S. is a certified sexuality educator and doctoral candidate at Penn State. She researches and speaks nationally about technology and adolescent sexuality. You can find her on her blog, Facebook and Twitter.

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