Friday, August 26, 2016

Play Panda Pop With Me And We Can Both Ignore Our Kids + Pop Pandas!

Oh my God, I'm almost too ashamed to be writing this post but I recently stumbled on a brand new mobile game that has me deleting all other games from my mobile device. Okay, the truth is I only had that candy game and the dot game on there but it's been days since I've played either because I've been spending all of my wasted time and generous brain cells on Panda Pop

If you know me at all you know that I have a tendency toward an addictive personality. This often translates into staying up all night to read an engaging book cover to cover, binge watching a new TV series in a matter of days as well as ignoring my kids from time to time just to make it to the next level of a video game. 

I'd like to think I inherited this trait from my mother who would literally sit and play Dr. Mario on Nintendo until she'd beat the entire game in one sitting. Clearly the apple doesn't fall far from the tree and if I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still hear the Dr. Mario theme music play inside my head. 

Panda Pop is a free app whose end goal is to save adorable little panda babies from a crazy baboon by popping bubbles and reuniting the babies with their panda mommy. You can shoot bubbles by improving your aim and therefore your accuracy. The goal is to match 3 bubbles of the same color to pop them. 

Doesn't the angry baboon look like The Lion King's Rafiki (but on LSD?) I can't stop laughing!

By tapping the basket next to the mother panda, you can switch the color of the bubble she's about to throw. You can even use the walls of the game to "bounce" the bubbles toward your target, ensuring greater bubble-popping performance. Color-changing bubbles become obstacles in later levels, however, if you pay careful attention, they change colors in a repeating sequence. Once you master that sequence, moving ahead to the next level is much easier. 

The levels start out incredibly easy and it wasn't long before I found myself on level 20. As the levels become increasingly more difficult, you're presented with special boosters to help you along your way. Once I started playing, I also connected the app to my Facebook account so that I could help my friends and they could me, too! (Funny how many of my friends were already playing by the time that I started!) 

Now when I'm laying in bed at night and can't sleep, or waiting in car line next week once school resumes, I'll be popping bubbles and saving panda babies with the best of them! 

Download the Panda Pop game today and let me know when you do so we can help each other out! 

This is a sponsored post brought to you by my working relationship with SGN to raise awareness surrounding new mobile gaming apps. The thoughts expressed above are honest and my own. 
Thank you for continuing to support ILYMYC the Blog.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Shop Back To School Shoes + Give Back, Too // Stride Rite Joins Soles4Souls

As moms and dads all across the country prepare their little ones to head back to school for an exciting year ahead, millions of children all across the world are not only unable to attend school but also more susceptible to illnesses because they don't have access to adequate shoes.

Once again, Stride Rite has teamed up with their longtime non-profile partner, Soles4Souls, just in time for the back to school retail rush. They pledge to get families in need the shoes required for their children to attend school by donating up to $100,000 to the Soles4Souls cause. 


You the consumer can help Stride Rite reach their goal by shopping their amazing, cant-miss BOGO sale one new shoes for the year ahead. Stride Rite will donate 1% of its net profit on the sale of shoes to consumers now through September 5th, 2016. In store and online through September 5th, buy one pair of shoes and get one 40% off, on select styles. 

"At Stride Rite, we're parents first 
and foremost and we believe that every 
child deserves a pair of good shoes,"
said Gillian Meek, senior vice president of product
 and marketing for Stride Rite. "We're committed to 
the mission of Soles4Souls and our extended
partnership will alow us to help give kids
the proper footwear they need to take advantage
of all the opportunities an education
can provide."

In addition, families can give back by bringing a new or used pair of shoes to a Stride Rite store and drop them in the Soles4Souls donation bin. As a thanks, they will receive 5% off a new pair of shoes on the same visit. You can find your local store here.

We recently visited our local Stride Store in the Columbia Mall in Maryland to donate several pairs of our old shoes that were in excellent hand me down condition. It was a great teachable moment for the boys and a reminder to them how fortunate they really are. 

While we were there we checked out the many back to school styles that Stride Rite is currently offering and left with three new pairs of shoes to add to the boys' back to school shoe rotation. 

When it comes to shopping for the big boys, I really try to aim for a style that is versatile enough to be worn with their school uniform as well as their casual play clothes. Thankfully we have one more year left when they aren't relegated to a specific style uniform shoe and can get away with wearing any appropriate gym sneaker that doesn't light up or make sounds. 

The Caleb sneaker in both brown and gray more than foot the bill for the style we were seeking.

For Collins, my youngest child, who seems to wear through sneakers faster than he can sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider," I couldn't resist choosing a neon sport sneaker for him in the Breccen style.

Each of the styles from Stride Rite's Made2Play line are designed with busy little kids in mind. Not only are they machine washable but they boast a memory foam footbed and anti-stink soles for increased comfort for growing feet. The easy "do-it-myself" strap also allows kids to express their independence by making it easy to pull on and take off their shoes themselves. 

I've been shopping Stride Rite for my kids since their early walker days and it's the quality and function of their footwear that keeps me coming back for more. Stylish and functional, Stride Rite brand shoes grow with my kids keeping their feet healthy and happy. 

You can find more about Stride Rite here:
Website / Facebook /Twitter / Instagram
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Monday, August 22, 2016

This Is What Extended Nursing Looks Like.

It wasn't until I sat down to write this post that I realized just how much (or how little, depending on how you look at it) I've written about my adventures in breastfeeding my three boys. 

From the very first post where I wrote about how formula saved us as an overwhelmed, exhausted and unhappy first-time nursing mother, to sharing my thoughts on nursing in public after a particular video went viral, I've shared a myriad of feelings on the subject. I continued to write about how I didn't hate breastfeeding the second time around and finally, after thirty-nine consecutive months of nursing, I recapped it all and shared my feelings on what it felt like to be an extended nursing mother, although even today, I still can't quite accept that title.

And here's why: 

"Extended nursing" sounds silly to me. It sounds like when you would tack on several minutes to a typical nursing session between you and your child rather than denote someone who chooses to extend their decision to nurse beyond the first year of life. 

No mother should need to defend her choices when it comes to the manner in which she feeds her child. I feel like I need that statement to be said right out of the gate, before I show you what extended nursing really looks like. Before I show you what it really looks like to have been nursing for fifty months.

Fifty-months. I can't even believe it. 

Mind you, those fifty consecutive months that I speak of were not for one child as you will soon find out. Those months are a combination of nursing my middle child to 22 months, stopping the day before his brother was born and nursing his brother to where he is today, nearly 2.5 years old. 

I never for a single minute expected to be nursing this long. After setting an initial goal of six weeks that quickly turned into three months and then nine months and then a year (and so the story goes), I never imagined, yet, to be nursing my twenty-eight month old. Admitting how long I've been nursing has made me fear being called "radical," "strange" or "one of those kinds of mothers." 

I'm not even sure what "that kind of mother" looks like, because honestly? She looks just like me. Looking at me, I'm certain you wouldn't guess that I've nurse my child beyond the age of two, well beyond the "normal" standard for breastfeeding but I wan't to take a stab at decreasing the stigma associated with nursing beyond the norm.

"Look at us! We're extended nursers and we're pretty normal," I want to exclaim! We do all of the same things you do! We put our pants on the same way, we take vacations at the beach, we fight, we play, we laugh, we even fail on the regular! In other words, we are no more or less perfect than "regular" nursing mothers or even non-nursing mothers. We all love our kids well and hard and are trying our best to do right by them.

Extended nursing is not glamorous. Nor is it is not something I feel I need to share with everyone (although that seems to be what I'm doing right now). As a matter of fact, it rarely, if ever, comes up in conversation with girlfriends or acquaintances and I'll usually only divulge my experience if asked, or if it's appropriate to the topic at hand.  

Extended nursing looks just like we do. 

It looks like comfort after sticking a pair of plastic sunglasses into an electrical socket and zapping yourself hard (true story). It looks like curling up in your mother's lap after a long, lazy, hot summer day, seeking comfort in those final few waking moments before sleep takes over. It's appearing at your mother's bedside in the early hours of the morning, being woken suddenly from sleep by a nightmare, tear-stained cheeks and sweaty baby head, asking sweetly, "Mama? Milkies?" 

It's seeking respite, finding "home" and settling into something warm and familiar when your senses are completely assaulted in a new, confusing and overwhelming place. Extended nursing feels like home to someone who spent nine months growing just on the other side of that space. 

And it happens in the most comfortable, least-posed places. There is no makeup team on hand as seen in many celebrity breastfeeding photos. There is no pomp, no circumstance. It just happens. 
At this stage in the game, we nurse in private (and certainly not on magazine covers) although if a situation were to arise in a public setting where that comfort was desired, chances are I wouldn't think twice. 

I will say, however, that the results of extended nursing not only benefited my son, but I found solace in this extended relationship as well. In the early mornings when no one else in our house was awake, in the moments when it was just him and I and could breathe him in selfishly without having to worry or tend to his brothers. At the end of an overwhelmingly busy day (or sometimes even in the middle) this relationship gave me reason to stop, pause and take a much-needed time out. It grounded me. 

Secretly I loved the moments when my son would pause mid-day, breaking free from being a blurry toddler tornado and come to me, even just for a minute- when he'd crawl into my lap and I'd get a glimpse of that tiny, snuggly-soft baby he was in those early days. 

I wouldn't trade those brief glimpses into our past for anything. 

I get it. Extended nursing isn't for everyone and trust me, at this juncture, I wouldn't feel comfortable nursing my three year old but I certainly don't judge those who do. Chances are, if you're nursing your three year old maybe you didn't expect to be there either, just as I didn't expect to be nursing my near two and a half year old. 

But as most things in Motherhood pan out, you can't plan for everything. 

For those of you who will vilify, assume that I'm lacking affection elsewhere or that I'm raising an Oedipus, I will just laugh. I will laugh at your ignorance and ignore the judgement you cast because at the end of the day, this isn't about nutrients (as we know that breastfeeding beyond the age of two is purely for comfort reasons) or research findings. Nursing my child this long will not cause him any long term "damage." He will not be "weird" because of it or "homosexual." He will not be a "philanderer" or "sexual sadist," because I nursed him beyond the age of two. 

Sure and I say this tongue-in-cheek, but there's a chance he could be any of those things later on in life but I can guarantee that it will not be caused by my decision to extend breastfeeding.

And I'm certainly not lacking in anything.

I imagine one day soon (or not soon) it will be the last day my son comes to me to nurse. It might be tomorrow, next week or several months from now and chances are I won't even realize it was the last time until a week or two passes by. There will be no agonizing over how to wean him, how to take away the one thing that gives me the utmost comfort. It will just be over, a relationship ending much more smoothly than it's rocky beginnings. 

I know one day I will mourn the ending of this relationship but I know, too, that I will also be happy. Happy because we both excelled and are now ready to move on to our next great adventure. While I'd like to think this will be the last post I ever write on extended breastfeeding, maybe I'll come back one day when the journey is long over and write my thoughts on it then. Talk about what it feels like to have myself back, wholly and completely. 

This is what extended breastfeeding looks like.

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