Type A Parent Blog Conference Swag Helps Support Homeless Americans In Atlanta

Blog Conference Swag

If you’re following me at all on social media (Shameless plug: I would love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) you undoubtedly already know that I attended my first ever blog conference this past weekend in Atlanta, Georgia.  As a relatively new-ish (sort of) blogger, I had no idea what to expect from the Type A Conference. The things I learned, the experiences I had, and the connections I made during my time there far exceeded anything I could have ever imagined and I plan on sharing all of that with you in a later post (I know, I’m such a tease). Tonight, I want to spend some time chatting about all of that wonderful conference SWAG that you get when you attend events like these and what I decided to do with some of mine to (hopefully) help a stranger in the Atlanta metro.

Conference Swag

 

Before I begin, I think it’s important for me to mention what inspired me to do this. I am a pretty sarcastic person in my normal day-to-day life. I’m someone who has a very dry sense of humor but underneath all of that is a person who really, really cares about others. This past Spring, I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans and one of the things I noticed during my time there was the massive numbers of displaced Americans living on the streets throughout the city. Homelessness is a real, very serious issue in our country and it’s not something we talk about as often as we probably should. Fast forward a few months to a warm evening in August when I had an encounter with an incredible and very friendly homeless citizen at the Country Club Plaza here in Kansas City. As I was speaking to this guy, I started thinking about my three year old daughter and it hit me: Homeless Americans have families, too.

thought bubble

That homeless man on the corner, the man who probably hasn’t eaten all day, he’s got a mom who he once lovingly referred to as “Mommy” much like my own daughter does to me.

That homeless teenager, the girl who probably hasn’t showered this week, she’s got parents of her own.

All too often we overlook homeless citizens who are living on the streets. They’ve become invisible to us and we have a tendency to simply ignore them.

All too often, we forget that these people matter too.

World Help

When I checked in at my conference on Thursday, I was given a bag with an assortment of goodies from some of our sponsors. I am lucky. I am lucky because I have all of things that I need in my life and I knew that I wanted to take some of this stuff that I had been given to do something that would help someone else, even if it’s in a very small way. So I began collecting. Throughout the weekend, I gathered small items (some from sponsors of the conference who were giving them away and some that were complimentary items from the hotel) and, on the last day, I packed them up and gave them away with an extra shirt that I had in my suitcase.

Helping The Homeless In Atlanta

What I was able to give back to a random stranger, admittedly, wasn’t much but I hope that it helped make their day just a little bit easier, just a little bit brighter. Beyond that, I hope that sharing what I did with each of you inspires you to do what you can, with what you have, to help others. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in this World but you can. You really can.

So get out there and do something. Buy someone a coffee. Stop to say “hi” to a beggar on the street, even if you have nothing to offer but your time. Do something, anything. 

A huge thanks to some of the sponsors of this year’s Type A Parent conference who provided some the goods that went directly to help someone in need in Atlanta.

http://calraisins.org/ http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=7b22b46b476a7410VgnVCM100000290115acRCRD http://www.restonic.com/ https://www.popmoney.com/ http://jscreen.org/?gclid=CN6iuLi3-8ACFcRcMgoduGIAeQ http://grandatlanta.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html http://www.gogosqueez.com/ https://www.facebook.com/BeechNuthttps://www.taboola.com/

 

I can’t wait to share my journey at Type A with each and every one of you in the coming weeks! Until next time…

Special thanks to my friend Kate for helping me distribute the bag at the end of the conference. I could not have done this without you. 

How “Queen Elsa” Broke My Heart

Elsa Frozen

My daughter celebrated her third birthday a couple of weeks ago (more on that in a later post) and, now that she’s getting older, we’ve started allowing her to watch Disney films. It would be an understatement to say that we’re movie fans in this household (duh- I write movie reviews) and that love for film is something my husband and I are passing along to our child. I don’t mind when my daughter pretends as if she’s Queen Elsa from Disney’s “Frozen” or Merida from Disney’s “Brave” but she said something the other day that caught me completely off guard.

“I want to be just like Queen Elsa.”

Now I know it’s common for little girls to emulate and want to be like their role models (and Queen Elsa is a great role model to have) but it broke my heart to hear my three year old child say that she wanted to be anyone other than the amazing little lady that she already is.

We live in a World where most of us are constantly trying to be like everyone else, chasing unattainable standards of beauty (you can read more of my thoughts on this from my previous posts on the subject), thinking we’re never good enough, and nothing could have prepared me for the day when my daughter wanted to be different from who she already is. I explained to her that many of the same characteristics we appreciate about Queen Elsa are ones that she already has.

She is strong.

She is smart.

She is wonderful.

I recognize the innocence in my daughter’s words. I understand that she may not already be feeling that sense of inferiority that seems to plague us all with time but the mere fact that she feels the need to be different from the perfect person she is concerns me.

How do we find a balance, especially in our society, of encouraging our daughters as they look up to the heroes around them and teaching them that just being the person that they already are is good enough?

Mad About It Monday: The Label Makers

Mad About It Monday- Copyright It's An Ordinary BlogWelcome to Mad About It Monday

…because passive aggressive Facebook posts were so yesterday…

Happy Monday, Everyone! If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I usually take some time each Monday to discuss something that’s been bothering me (either seriously or sarcastically). If you’re new here, you can find some of my old posts here:

Today I want to talk about something that’s been bothering me for years: Labels.

Generalizations | Labels | Stereotypes 

Some labels are okay; like the one that tells you that your favorite beverage contains “100% Juice” or the one that helps you better understand how to care for that 97% cotton, 3% spandex article of clothing. Those labels are great. They’re beneficial and they’re necessary. Nutrition and product labels are the only ones that matter. Society could stand to do without the rest of them, don’t you think?! I’ve talked before about that feeling of never being good enough (Never Enough) but labels are something that other people give us that are beyond our control.

Muslims Are Terrorists | Overweight People Are Lazy | People With Disabilities Aren’t Intelligent

I think one of the most dangerous things about labeling a person is that it is a shortcut.  It creates a false sense of understanding, without having to put in the requisite time and effort to truly comprehend the nature of that which is being labeled, be it an individual, organization, or an entire society.  Labeling something suggests that it can be defined by that one thing, but nothing is ever so black and white.  People are complicated, as are countries, religions, and anything else that one may be tempted to define in a bumper sticker sized sentence.  True understanding requires that we first recognize and then cast aside our preconceived notions.

Last night I listened to a TED talk that summed my feelings towards religion and doubt more eloquently than I ever could.  Though the speaker did not specifically talk about labeling people, I think the need to cast doubt upon our own understanding can be applied to our understanding of individuals as well as the broader subject of religion and faith.  Belief without introspective questioning and doubt is shallow and incomplete.  It is the same kind of intellectual dishonesty as labeling an individual.  Both are the easy path, but the easy path is usually not the best one.

I encourage you all to not take the easy path.  Don’t label someone, because you would not want to be labeled.  You are not that easily defined and neither is anyone else.

You may not be able to prevent others from labeling you but you can set the example by not labeling others. 

When you have the chance, take the time to watch Lesley Hazleton’s TED Talk. I promise, it’ll inspire you.

My friend and new blogger Aimee over at Here Comes Baby B asked me if I was going to offer a link up this week. So I said, “Sure, why not?!” If you’re interested in sharing your own “Mad About It Monday” post, you can do so here:

In Memoriam

Image Credit: TNT Emerson

I love that our nation takes the time to honor and celebrate those who risk, and have given, their lives in dedication to our country on Veterans, Memorial, Independence, and Labor Day. The sacrifices that these men and women make for future generations is one of the greatest gifts that could ever be given to the people of this nation. I feel like I always say the same thing when I make a post dedicated to our troops but there really is not enough ‘thanks’ in the world that can effectively articulate how incredibly grateful I am and how proud I am to be an American.

I’ve been asking myself a lot of those big questions lately (in terms of what I believe): Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? The one thing I keep coming back to is that maybe the answers to those questions don’t matter as much as this: We are here. We are here with one another. We are here with one another and we should make the most of of that. We should strive to be better than our forefathers, to give hope to the children of the world, and to provide the kind of example that will make a lasting and positive impact on those who will come after us. The men and women of our armed forces, law enforcement, and emergency services do just that. More so than any professional athlete, musician, or actress: the men and women who dedicate their careers and their lives in service to their people are truly an inspiration. They are who I want my child (and subsequent future children, maybe someday) to look up to and admire.

To those who give their time and all of their efforts: Thank you.

To the families of our dearly departed: Thank you. 

As we move forward into the hustle and bustle of summer, I hope we can all take a little bit of time to express our gratitude for the freedoms we have, and the people who work to get them for us. Happy Memorial Day.

Happy Mother’s Day

It's An Ordinary Blog

 

Three years ago today was a little difficult for me. My husband and I had been trying, unsuccessfully, for five months to get pregnant again after experiencing a loss in November 2009. I’ll always remember the feeling I had on June 22nd, 2010 when, after several positive pregnancy tests, we found out that we were going to be parents. It was a feeling of pure joy. I felt it again, a little more intensely, on October 4th, 2010 when we found out that the baby growing inside me was a little girl. Both of those moments were trumped with C’s birth in February 2011. I felt  (and still feel every day) so incredibly blessed. Motherhood is my greatest joy, my biggest passion, and my most precious gift.

I was surprised yesterday afternoon with an early Mother’s Day gift. After playing outside for a little while, my husband had me go inside before he and C did. When they walked through the door, flowers in hand, my daughter came up the stairs and said, “Happy Mother’s (Day) Mommy!”.

I’m not big on commercialized holidays but I do think it’s nice to honor the special people in your life on their respective days (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, etc) and hearing my daughter wish me a Happy Mother’s Day (along with a hug and very thoughtful flower presentation) was the best gift I could have gotten. It brought me to tears. Today was wonderful. We slept in (until 9:30!) and then got up and had a nice breakfast together as a family. We ran errands, got the supplies for C’s new big girl room (more on that later), ran some errands, and then enjoyed a nice Lunner (lunch/dinner) at McAlisters. Tonight we’ll watch the season finale of Survivor on CBS before C goes to bed for the night. I literally could not have asked for a better day. Thanks to my husband and my amazing daughter (who can’t read this yet) for making this day such a special one for me. I love you guys to the moon and back.

To all of the wonderful moms out there, including my own mom (hi!): Happy Mother’s Day.

I hope that this day has been a great one for you. 🙂

 

The Strong Willed Child

| Difficult | Stubborn | 

There are a lot of labels we put on individuals in life. Perhaps accurately. Perhaps unfairly.

But I don’t believe in labels (unless, of course, your label for me is awesome).

It's An Ordinary Blog

My two year old is amazing. Being her mom is, hands down, the greatest joy in my life but not every day is full of puppies, rainbows, and glitter. The “mean mommy voice” surfaces far more than I’d like and I often find myself saying things like, “You need to be ALL DONE!” and “Your behavior right now is UNACCEPTABLE!”. Parenting, for me, becomes a balance of lessons and love. (Read my post “Walking the Line”: On Parenting). My child, like many other others, enjoys doing her own thing. She likes to make her own choices (even when they don’t fall in line with what my husband or I want), and she isn’t always receptive to change. Maybe it’s just a phase that she’ll grow out of, maybe not. As frustrating as that can be, I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing.

If her personality at two is any indication of how she’ll be as an adult (maybe minus the crying at nap time and the difficulty sharing with friends), I am confident that she’ll go on to do amazing things. She’ll march to the beat of her own drum. She’ll be confident enough to do what she thinks is right instead of following the crowd. She’ll set goals and work hard to achieve them. She will have a vision for her life that is uniquely her own and she will work hard to make her dreams come true.

No matter what she does or who she grows up to be, I will always love her.

I will always be proud of her. She will always be my little lady. 

So maybe the world views raising strong willed children as a challenge but I view it as an opportunity to grow the kind of human being who will one day go on to make great differences in the world around them. In the meantime, we’ll continue setting boundaries, teaching her lessons about life, and loving her each and every day.

Heartbreak & Hope: Reflecting On The Week in Boston

What an emotional week for us here in America. Boston started it off by honoring the fallen victims from the Newtown tragedy during their annual marathon only to be faced with an act of terrorism that shook the region, and the nation, to the core. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did. On Thursday, the bombing suspects were at war with local law enforcement and the FBI. There were bombs, guns, grenades, and the unprecedented lockdown of an entire city. I, like many Americans, were left wondering what’s next? As we reflect on the events that unfolded this week, we can only pray that it won’t happen again. But how do we move forward from here? How do we explain to our children what happened? And why? I’m not sure there are any easy answers…This morning I woke up with two feelings: overwhelming sadness and hope.

I was up almost all night on Thursday reading the live updates online and listening to the police scanner from Boston, trying to make sense of everything that was happening. It just didn’t seem real, like scenes out of a movie. I was heartbroken for the people of Boston, the police officers who were up against something they’ve likely never had to deal with before, and the families who anxiously awaited their return to their normal lives. It’s something that we don’t typically have to deal with here in the United States and, for that reason, I think it’s easy to forget that we’re at war with extremism. I’ve always had this underlying fear that it was only a matter of time before we experienced another attack on American soil and the prospect of something like this happening again is very scary.

I had the news on Friday, trying to follow whatever updates I could while they searched for the 19-year-old who was responsible for much of the chaos throughout the week and I realized that I was subjecting my child to it. How unfair for her. I turned it off and decided to try to focus on the things I can control: my life, my happiness, and what I can give to my family. As I hugged my daughter, tears in my eyes, it hit me. Hope.

Our children will grow up in a world faced with problems that we didn’t have to deal with when we were little. Because of advances in media and technology, they’ll have to see things that we never had to while we were growing up. I have to hold hope that our children will one day work together to put an end to it. To live in a more peaceful world. We had the news on last night, watching the people of Boston cheer for the police, FBI, and military who had worked so hard to keep them safe. That’s the kind of news, more than anything else, that I want to share with my child.

The people in my country give me hope. We may have differences in opinion when it comes to politics, religion, how to raise children, how to define marriage, or any other hot issue but at the end of the day we’re Americans. In times of struggle, need, or despair we band together. At the end of the day, the only thing I see is love. We love our nation and we love each other. It’s amazing and, even though the events of this week have been horrible and dim, it makes the future seem just a little bit brighter. Thank you to all of the men and women who make a commitment to protect and serve their community. You are amazing and you are heroes.

To the people of Boston: Our hearts are with you and you try to move forward from this situation and return to some semblance of normalcy.

Mad About It Mondays: “Oh, Wow. Bad Outfit Choice!”

Mad About It Mondays

I’ve touched on this kind of thing before (if you’re intrested you can find my posts here and here) but somehow hearing rude comments from people in public or in the media never ceases to amaze me (and not in a good way).

It was a beautiful seventy-something degree day on Saturday and so my husband, daughter, and I decided to enjoy some play/workout time outside. I decided to wear my Old Navy compression capris and a t-shirt. Why?! Because when I go to get dressed for a workout I think, “Man, I’ll really look sexy working out in this!!!”. No. It’s because when it comes to doing things that are both fun and good for you, comfort is important and it’s not a beauty contest.

Aftewards we ran into Costo to grab a few things and while we were in line to check out a couple who was coming up behind us very loudly started discussing what they thought was a poor outfit choice. I don’t know if the multiple “Oooh, that was not a good outfit choice. Oh wow! Oh wow!” was about me or not (they weren’t even looking at me) but I don’t care and it doesn’t matter because it was about someone.

So let me just say this and I’ll wrap up my short Mad About It Monday post for the day: If someone’s outfit choice elicits that kind of response from you, the problem isn’t with what they’re wearing. Maybe, just maybe, the problem is with you…

Walking The Line: On Parenting

It's An Ordinary Blog

As my toddler daughter continues to develop, change, and learn about the world I, too, am growing as a parent. One thing I’ve come to realize over the past few months is that being a parent is really a big balancing act and the future of your child is what’s at stake. One of the toughest things about being a mom is finding that perfect balance between letting your child express their creative individuality and ensuring that they learn the proper boundaries which will help them later on in life. How strict is too strict? How lenient is too lenient?

At two years old, C is constantly on the go. She likes to explore, try new things, and test her limits. I try to give her just enough room to be herself but not enough that she might accidentally get hurt or break the rules we have in the house. But it’s hard, parenting. Sometimes I get frustrated and I raise my voice. Sometimes I lose patience and stick my child in time out when I probably should just sit down and talk to her calmly. Sometimes, okay a lot of times, I feel like a complete jackass. Those are the moments when I realize that we need more balance.

As a mom, I need to understand that my daughter is not perfect. I need to recognize that I’m not perfect.

I need to be okay with that.

I have to learn to take the extra time to help my daughter through a rough moment when we’re out in public instead of offering (sometimes) empty threats of timeout at the store (I have actually had to sit her in time out at Target). I have to recognize that just as I’m learning what it means to parent a toddler my child is learning what it means to be a toddler. I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be for her (it’s probably a good thing that we don’t remember those years) to have this great big world full of challenges and things to explore and to lack the ability to fully express her wants and needs with the people who are responsible for her safety and well-being.

Finding that balance requires me to take a step back, a deep breath, and to look at situations more objectively. To remind myself that my daughter is young and that the moments of frustration she has are only temporary and that it’s my job to help her through them. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world but it’s definitely one of the most important and it is so, so worth it.

Mad About It Mondays: Bullies

Mad About It Mondays

Welcome to “Mad About It Mondays”! Instead of a long post on how much I hate bullies (don’t we all?!) I thought I would share a Ted Talk that I watched today. It’s incredible and worth sharing…Next week I promise you an “actual” MAM post. In the meantime…enjoy:

Ted Talk Stop A Bully

I guess you have to actually click on the link…I promise, it’s worth it!