It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
And
It’s the most stressful time of the year!

We are weeks away, are you ready?
Hosting Thanksgiving can be overwhelming and stressful and beautiful all at the same time, so it’s important to stay calm and prep ahead. There are so many things you can do in advance to make life easier, like decorations, cleaning out the fridge, and even cooking ahead.

My day doesn’t usually start until I’ve had that first cup of coffee. My Keurig brewer has been a lifesaver, especially on busy days like Thanksgiving. So before I get started, I enjoy a little me time and use my Keurig K-Latte Single Serve Coffee and Latte Maker to brew a fresh cup.

Then, it’s off to the races as I dive into meal prep, decor and making room in the fridge.

Before you know it, everyone has arrived and we’ve all enjoyed a delicious meal together. From there, it’s time for dessert and no dessert is complete without coffee for all, especially on Thanksgiving.

I also like to set up a dessert and coffee station with everything my guests need, including the Keurig K-Latte coffeehouse brewer. A lot of specialty coffeemakers can be complicated, time-consuming and messy, but the Keurig K-Latte Coffeehouse Brewer is simple to use. Everyone of my guests can enjoy exactly what they want, from a fresh cup of coffee to a creamy latte made from any K-Cup pod in just minutes and all from the same brewer!

Then we all find ourselves in my living room on the couch, stuffed and happy.

The Keurig K-Latte Coffeehouse Brewer is available exclusively at Walmart for only $99.

This Post is in Partnership with Keurig

 

The Great Exploration with The Ford Expedition

Every year one of our summer travel traditions is that we head up to Canada and every year it is a long drive.

Sometimes we can do the drive in less than 10 hours, but with 3 kids and several different bladder schedules (most moms know what I am talking about here) and various appetites, we often make a lot of stops.

One of the cool things we do at The MOMS is we get the opportunity to try new products and sometimes test out new cars and we are currently on the hunt for a new vehicle now. We definitely need a 3rd row SUV with 3 kids in this family and safety comes first.

We got to test-drive the new Ford Expedition on the way up to Canada. The vehicle was by far the most comfortable for a family of 5. Everyone had their own space and enough room to really spread out. Equipped with driver-assist technology such as Pre-Collision Assist with pedestrian detection, Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, and lane-keeping assist, I felt safer and more confident on the road than ever before.

Our first stop into Canada was Toronto. We spent time with my husband’s family before heading further North to “cottage country” which was another 3-hour drive. This has become a family tradition of ours where every summer we drive up to Toronto first and then to Lake Muskoka to spend time with more Canadian family.

Lake Muskoka has become a very special place for us, where we can really relax and where we are really away from everything. We kayak, canoe, go boating, make s’mores and sleep. It is really peaceful compared to action packed New York City where we live. The drive to Lake Muskoka has some very windy long dirt roads and the Expedition was so safe and again super comfortable for all the back bumpy roads.

 

After Muskoka, we then head to Haliburton, which is a tiny town near my son’s sleep away camp. We actually pull directly into his camp and drop him off. That is the hardest moment of our trip for me. I know he has the best time. I know the independence is good for them. I know being in the wilderness and camping is his favorite, but when he leaves, it is like a stinger to my heart. It is hard to watch your kids grow up and become so independent. You want this for them and you don’t, all at the same time.

Following the Haliburton camp drop off we then adventured into Algonquin Park in our Expedition. The park is famous for its wildlife and home to a large population of moose. My son actually canoed through the park with his camp this summer, which is his favorite activity of all.

We then drove back to New York City and did the drive straight without overnighting. I sat in the back with my youngest daughter and we watched a movie together. That is another bonus to The Expedition; you actually want to sit in the back with your kids because it is so comfortable! I am not saying I want to do this on all car rides, but for the right vehicle and of course the right movie, anything is possible.

School Year is Parents New Year

Some members of our families received complimentary Invisalign® treatment but we really love it and all of the opinions below are our own.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  It may only be August, but for moms and dads and families, this is the real time to celebrate the New Year.  Some of us might still be in the midst of summer mode, but we are winding down and beginning to prepare for the new school year.
We are starting to plan our kids after school activities.  We are starting to get emails and mail from school.  We are starting to connect again with the local moms who we may not have seen with all of our busy summer schedules.  We are gearing up for carpools and back to school shopping.

DENISE
The Family New Year is also the best time for Family New Rules.  With my boys away at camp this summer, I have thought about things that have been working and things that haven’t.  As a mom who doesn’t cook, I realized, one of the biggest fights with my boys are about food.  What to have for a snack, what to have for dinner.  Well now, I’ve hung a sign on the refrigerator, in preparation for the new school year, that lists each day and what dinner will be served, so they know in advance.  

I have always been organized with our daily schedules, sending an email out every week to their dad, my mom and our sitter with all of the activities and who is dropping off and picking up.  I have always had a central dry/ erase calendar in the kitchen that is color coordinated for each child and, because we are divorced, for each parent as well.  Now is the time to add more organization with the daily dinner list, and other new rules.  We will have a family meeting to sit and go through our Family New Year.  We also will tackle technology rules and homework rules.

It’s also the best time to celebrate how responsible they have been with their ®Invisalign® treatment.  They both have new, improved smiles and are proud to show them off.  They have been so great taking charge of their treatment: remembering to wear the clear aligners for 20-22 hours a day, changing them weekly (since treatment times are now up to two times faster with weekly aligner changes), keeping their cases with them and brushing their teeth after each meal before putting the aligners back in.  So that makes me think that they can handle more responsibilities.  I can’t wait to sit with them to decide what to add to their New Year list!

MELISSA
Back to School means back to the juggle.  Back to school can feel so overwhelming for so many mothers.  It’s important to ease into all the routines instead of making that switch the night before and expecting all the kids to just go to bed at a new hour.  You do have to start planning everything earlier so you don’t feel maniacal when it happens and so the kids don’t feel lethargic and confused.

Planning schedules early is crucial and making those appointments now will make life easier.  For our household, our kids are going to have Back to School orthodontist appointments before school starts. We are doing an exciting giveaway that you can all enter here to win an Invisalign treatment. The winner will be selected at the end of the year, just in time for a holiday gift! With Invisalign treatment, we won’t have to worry about scheduling many of these visits because they get all their clear aligners in advance for weekly changes, and this saves us all so much time.  We also aren’t back and forth to the orthodontist due to broken brackets or wires, either.  So, at the top of our to do list is our Invisalign appointment. The other big one on our to do list is back to school shopping. In the past we have always waited because we are in denial about school starting and we end up at the store with so many supplies sold out.  This year we won’t live in denial and we will plan ahead.  Another big to do for our family is all the school lunches and meal planning.  My big goal this year is to have at least 3 home cooked meals planned each week and where we can all sit down together as a family.  A mom can dream right?!

Back to School Survival Guide

Don’t look now, but summer is winding down, and kids around the country are getting ready to go back to school. After a summer of lazy beach days, it can be tough to shift gears into school mode. Recently, Melissa, teamed with YourUpdateTV to provide some helpful tips on navigating the stressful back to school season.

Perk Up The Morning:

Going from summer mode to back-to-school is not always an easy transition to make. With super-early wakeups, busy mornings, and packed after-school activity schedules, it’s important to take moments to unwind. A cup of fresh coffee in the morning or an afternoon latte can go a long way in this regard.

The new Keurig® K-Latte™ Single Serve Coffee & Latte Maker allows coffee lovers to enjoy regular, single serve coffee or creamy lattes in the comfort of their own home using any single cup coffee pod including any K-Cup® pod. This is the perfect time-saving and cost effective addition to any back to school routine. Why drive 3 miles when you can enjoy a latte and coffee for under a dollar and in less than 3 minutes? While most specialty coffeemakers can be complicated, time-consuming and messy, the Keurig® K-Latte™ Single Serve Coffee & Latte Maker is simple to use, allowing you to prepare coffee or lattes in minutes. Brew. Froth. Enjoy. This coffeehouse brewer is available exclusively at Walmart.com and in Walmart stores for $99.00.

Creating a ‘Cool’ Environment:

For moms, it’s very important to make sure they are doing everything they can to help their kids, and that starts with the temperature. The first weeks of school can still be really hot! So, when my kids come home, I want to make sure they have a cool, study-friendly environment for them to stay focused. Research has shown that hot temperatures can really impact learning, decreasing both interest and alertness for children.

Maintaining your family’s comfort as they transition back into school mode is essential. LG just released a new line of smart window air conditioners that deliver advanced cooling and an unprecedented increase in energy efficiency of 40 percent on its best-performing model. LG is the first to use an innovative DUAL Inverter Compressor™, which allows the units to constantly adjust speed precisely to maintain desired temperature levels – unlike typical units that turn on full force and then off to reach the desired temperature, and waste energy in the process. Not only will these the units save energy and you money on your energy bills, they are ultra-quiet – just 44 decibels – which is perfect for when kids need to study – and offer smart connectivity which allows you to adjust temperatures, fan speed, and power, all from your smart phone – no matter where you are, using the LG SmartThinQ app, Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. For busy moms, this is a life saver.

Making Time Amidst Busy Schedules:

With school around the corner, parents are thinking about their summer to-do lists. Orthodontic treatments are usually at the top of the list, as parents look to take advantage of the last bit of time off for scheduling appointments.

Invisalign clear aligners take the hassle right out of the process. They are the most technically advanced clear aligner system in the world and can fix simple to complex cases for teens.They are removable so kids can still eat and drink whatever they want – simply brush and put back in. With Invisalign clear aligners, treatments are now up to 2 times faster with weekly aligner changes as opposed to two-week wear (at the discretion of the provider). To learn more and find a provider in your area, visit www.invisalign.com.

Last Days of Summer Mean Last Minute Trips:

Taking advantage of the last days of summer to get away with the whole family before school starts can help ease the pain of adjusting to the daily rigors of the school year. The good news is that the end of summer is a great time to save on last-minute trip ideas.

Megabus.com is a terrific low-cost bus service – with fares as low as $1 – that can take the whole family from city-center to city-center, on an awesome and comfortable double decker bus. Thanks to onboard technology like the megabus Ride App, free WiFi, and power outlets at each seat, the entire family can relax and enjoy the ride. It’s a great alternative to cramped and crowded family car rides OR overpriced airline tickets. Megabus.com serves more than 100 major cities across the U.S., so before you start planning that last-minute trip, make sure you check it out!

Rocked It Fathers Day Weekend!

For years, we have been hearing about Rocking Horse Ranch and for years we have wanted to visit. We finally found the perfect weekend to head up, which was this past Father’s Day. This family of 5 with a 16 year old, 13 year old and a 9 year old, need space for our road trips. We were thrilled when we had the opportunity to test drive the new Chevrolet Equinox, which made our ride extra comfortable and allowed me to relax too.


When we arrived at the ranch, we were welcomed by an outdoor barbeque with a country western band. Immediately, we felt like we were in the wild wild west with the sounds and smells of this gorgeous ranch. After lunch, we toured the property and the kids didn’t’ know where to start first.

We kicked off our activities with a dip in the pool, followed by a banana boat ride on their lake and then a mini golf game. After drying off, it was our turn to saddle up and take in a trail ride. We have a horse back rider in our house, so this was her turn to shine. She got right on her horse as if she just rode yesterday (even though it had been months). She asked for more time, so we were lucky enough to schedule a quick private lesson.

After the Horseback riding, we were back in the outdoor pool which was then followed by bungee jumping and then the indoor pool which was like a water park with obstacle courses and splash areas. This year round resort also offers wintertime fun and activities that include snow tubing, skiing, sledding, skating and I hear the best hot chocolate around.

Then came time for our Fathers Day dinner set in a gorgeous western décor dining room. Our Fathers Day dinner turned into a date night for us as the kids ate in record time and left us alone to take on the arcade. To be honest, we didn’t mind the alone time.

After the busiest day ever, we headed back into our Chevy Equinox and drove back to Manhattan. The vehicle is quite impressive with the warning seat vibrations. When you don’t drive often, these extra safety features are an added comfort when driving around a family. Of course the kids loved the Apple Car Play and 4G LTE Wifi, and what Mom does not love that for a long car ride!

We rocked our Fathers Day weekend at Rocking Horse Ranch thanks to Chevrolet and everyone at the ranch. Maybe this will be our new Fathers day tradition, if not, we are more than happy to take on another adventure soon with the Chevrolet Equinox.

Denise’s story on People.com, “Sharing My Story Helped Me Each Day”

Denise Albert is co-founder of The MOMS media company. She is a cancer survivor and the mom of two boys, Jaron, 13, and Jaylan, 10. She speaks and moderates panels at many breast cancer-related events and was the recipient of the 2017 Susan G. Komen NY Impact Award. She lives in New York City.

I am a survivor every day. I remind myself that every day. I may be cancer free, but the diagnosis and continuing medications and decisions are forever.

I began my cancer journey in January of 2015. I was finally happy. I was a happily divorced mom of 2 boys, happy with my boyfriend and building my business, when I felt a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer just 3 months after a clear mammography.

I had a lumpectomy, aggressive chemotherapy for six months, radiation daily for six weeks and immunotherapy infusions for a year. When my treatment ended a year ago, I called it #MyBreastYear (though it was 2 years of treatment).

Just like there’s no parenting manual, there’s no cancer manual. Everyone’s journey is different. For me … I tried to live my life. I threw parties and planned trips with my kids for the end of each phase to have something to look forward to.

Sharing my story helped me each day, and speaking to my new cancer-community friends across the country each day gave me more inspiration to keep sharing and hopefully helping others.

I hosted one of our Mamarazzi events with Jennifer Garner just an hour after shaving my head. I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert the night before chemo began. Some days, walking my kids to school was all I could do. I lost my taste and had no appetite, lost 10 lbs., lost all my hair everywhere. I couldn’t look in the mirror — with no hair, no eyebrows, no eyelashes it was impossible to think I would ever look healthy again.

Denise Albert:
On my first business trip to California after chemo ended, I was mistreated by the TSA — you may have seen the video. I then volunteered my time to shoot a public service video to make sure every one knows the best way to travel with cancer and to remind their agents of protocol.

My hair is now growing back, though I prefer the wigs (no hair drama ever!). I have gained the weight back and I’m finally back to a normal lifestyle.

I was recently diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis and have also been living with rashes all over my body for the past two years. Apparently the treatment may have triggered something in my body and I’m now basically allergic to everything.

I have scheduled surgery three times in the past nine months. I have cancelled it each time. The surgery is called a salpingo-oophorectomy. It’s an elective surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes. I asked my oncologist why some women decide to do this surgery. His answer was so simple. “Well, for women similar to you … if you keep thinking and worrying about the cancer recurring there.”

I keep thinking about it although I have no evidence of cancer. The doctors don’t really believe I’m at increased risk for ovarian cancer but can’t say for sure. Because of the kind of breast cancer I had, I am on medicine for ten years and also get a shot every three months (also for ten years) to shut my ovaries down. I get another shot to strengthen my bones since estrogen is needed for that too.

The estrogen the ovaries make is what feeds my cancer, but not having the estrogen puts me at risk for other things like osteoporosis, mood swings, anxiety, depression, change in sex drive and possibly pain during sex.

I met with the gynocology oncologist surgeon last summer. After I asked him a million questions, he said it was a reasonable and good choice. I scheduled the surgery. Then cancelled it. I sent an email and asked my oncologist about it again. I scheduled the surgery again. I cancelled it. I then set up another meeting with the surgeon. I probably asked him the same questions. I scheduled it.

I don’t think my decision or emotions about this surgery has anything to do with the fact that now I really won’t be able to have kids anymore. It sounds so final but I don’t think that’s an issue for me. It’s more about my life now. I’m finally on a good run. But after further questioning and research I learned that ovarian cancer is hard to detect. It’s often caught too late.

Now I’m really beginning to think I should follow through with the surgery. Maybe I learn to live without my ovaries the way I’ve learned to live without my hair and with my wig. Newer, easier, better. And just keep living. Positively. Why would I keep my ovaries and tubes?

Maybe the surgery is just the next step in this journey.

Click here for the story on People.com

What Do You Do When You Have No Headspace Left?

Are you a mindful parent? I think as a parent we all try to be mindful. But I bet you didn’t know that meditation can actually make you parent better.

I recently attended a beautiful luncheon hosted by Momtrends and learned that parents who practice meditation are more responsive to their children. A mindful parent can actually help a child learn to manage their behaviors and how they respond to you and also in the classroom. But it’s not just mindful parenting that attracted me to Headspace. It’s the lack of peace I have in my life.
My headspace has actually reached maximum capacity. Recently, I feel like I am on the edge of breaking down because of the amount of overload and the stress that happens to me as a working parent and especially during the end of the school year. You would think that we are all winding down but I feel more overwhelmed than ever.
Yes, I exercise almost daily which is a great release and I try to take time for myself but to be honest those things don’t solve the underlying problem. How do I become less stressed daily and how do I find the peace in my everyday life?

With Headspace I discovered that I will be on a new journey. A journey that can hopefully help with my stress, happiness, work, parenting and so much more. The App allows you to try several levels of meditation and allows you to discover so many things about yourself you may not have even known. The App also has sessions for students. This is so helpful for all those stressed out teens who might be taking final exams right now.

Do you feel overwhelmed? Is your Headspace at maximum capacity? If so, I have a special gift for you.

You can try Headspace for 40% off. This offer expires July 4, 2018! Click the link below and upload the code. This will give you access to the full Headspace library.

https://www.headspace.com/buy/checkout/summary?voucherCode=THEMOMS

I know I am not alone here when it comes to feeling overwhelmed as a Mom. I am hoping the Headspace App can be my start to managing some of the stress in my life and hopefully this App can be helpful for you too.

Let’s all try to find some Headspace.

This is a Sponsored Post, all opinions are my own.

Sesame Street Parade is Marching through SeaWorld

What a day! We headed to San Diego to host an event at SeaWorld where we experienced their new Sesame Street Party Parade, enjoyed the day and learned about their animal rescue.

It was so special to be at SeaWorld for the launch of their Sesame Street Party Parade. It doesn’t matter your age. We are all truly just kids who loved it all! Plus in real life is still better than online. We Loved hosting this event for mom influencers and entrepreneurs that we have followed and connected with through our podcast and social media. Plus we love the animals and shows and learning about their animal rescue! Coming in 2019: Take a walk down Sesame Street for the very first time, connecting your family to all of the fun, laughter and learning of the world famous street and have as much fun as we did!

The Sesame Street Party Parade is marching excitement throughout SeaWorld. This colorful, musical, and show-stopping parade is fun enough to get the whole family dancing.
This event features 10 larger-than-life themed floats including Sesame Street favorites such as Mr. Hooper’s Store and Count’s Castle. The whole family will be singing and dancing along with Elmo and his furry cast of friends as they join more than 20 dancers along the parade route.

You can explore the iconic neighborhood, watch as Elmo and his friends dance down the parade and enjoy the exciting rides, wet and dry play areas, and interactive experiences designed to entertain your entire family.

Anything Is Possible…Run DMC and Denise’s son!

Anything IS Possible….with hard work, passion and dedication my kids saw that first hand when Run DMC’s Darryl McDaniels honored my son Jaron for all he’s done for The FELIX Organization which sends Foster Children to camp.

It’s truly amazing how things work in life. It all started as a small project when we learned of The FELIX Organization from Kay Kay Clivio and what she does for them with Om This Way and Equinox when she started doing yoga with us during my #FutureCancerSurvivor journey. Jaron went to an event and bonded with Darryl and Myra Scheer. Jaron wrote and rapped a song about his experience, raised a ton of money (thanks to so many). Trust me when I tell you this is life changing and equally as important in different ways and just as helpful for my family, for my son, as it is for the kids it serves.

Meet “lil Fisch”! He killed it the other night. It’s hard to find the words to share when your 13 year old son is honored for his charity work. Over 15 foster kids will go to camp for a week this summer because of Jaron. What my son learned, felt and continues to feel and inspire him, you can’t buy, teach or tell.

 

Family Getaway to Celebrate Life

As the last day of my 43rd year approached, I was so grateful to end this year with so many of my favorite people at one of our favorite places, Woodloch Resort with my boys & my love & my MOM & my bonus kids & my bff and her kids.

 

I am ending the year the happiest and healthiest I have been in awhile. I am reminded how lucky I am in life and health and choose to see it that way. I will think about how to make 44 the happiest and fullest of life and love and hard work and passion as ever before. I remind all of you to try to do the same. Live and love life.

One of the kids said to me one morning when we were choosing between all of the activities here at Woodloch Resort, “We know you just want all of us to be happy today.” They were right. I’d say we all had a great day and few days for my birthday because as you probably know by now…I love to celebrate life.

 

This is 44. Big Smile! That’s the outside. Happy. Full of love. Comfortable. Living. Just being me. That’s the inside. All together…44 is being happy & healthy & comfortable being me. Anywhere I am. Whoever I am with. Doing what I am passionate about. I hope you all find this too – no matter your age. I am grateful to all of you. I am grateful to be Woodloch Resort with so many I love and looking forward to the road ahead (and continued celebrations).

Why Invisalign® Treatment Was The Right Choice For My Family!

My girls and I received complimentary Invisalign® treatment and are partnering with the Invisalign brand to share our experience with you.

I am a working mom with 3 kids ages 16, 12 and 9. My work schedule pulls me in different directions constantly and I often don’t know from one day to the next where I will need to be. My children have just as busy schedules. So, when I discovered the ease and convenience of Invisalign treatment, and how you can get amazing results up to two times faster (Invisalign providers can prescribe weekly aligner changes vs. two-week changes, at their discretion), I couldn’t wait to make our first appointment. My kids can wear the aligners, and change them weekly without having to return to the office and miss school and their extra curricular activities for emergency visits related to broken wires or brackets.

I had always thought of Invisalign treatment as an option for adults only. I was thrilled to learn that Invisalign treatment works for teens, too. It started with a visit to Park Avenue Orthodontists where we were digitally scanned with an iTero® scanner and educated on how the Invisalign system works. I actually learned that over 1 million teens have been treated with Invisalign clear aligners. I was quite excited to learn our orthodontist, Dr. Janet Stress-Allen (find your own doctor here) would give us several aligners at a time. That is such a bonus with my work schedule and with my kids busy after school schedules.
My daughters were totally fascinated by the technology and how easy it was to get all set up for their Invisalign treatment. They have actual images on the computer that can show you where your teeth are today, where they will be moved and how the Invisalign treatment will work. I watched my kids’ faces as our provider explained this to them and they were in awe seeing how their teeth can shift.

We have two performers in our house who are on stage often and knowing that the aligners are clear gives them a boost of confidence while fixing their teeth. We talked about our smiles, and our teeth and what was bothersome. For my youngest she had lots of crowding and she got a sneak peek at what her mouth would look like at the end of treatment. My older daughter has some space issues and her bite needs to be adjusted. For me, I have never been in love with my smile so I am fine-tuning some separation, which will get closed by the end of my treatment. I hope to fall in love with my new smile when I am done.

The other exciting thing about Invisalign clear aligners is that you don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in wires and brackets. My girls can have all the popcorn they want (a favorite) because you take out your aligners to snack and eat meals. That left them quite happy. I do love popcorn too so I was thrilled to learn this.
After everyone was set up and ready to head home with our aligners on, my girls had some great questions for our doctor. They wanted to know what happens if they lose an aligner or what they do if they go to sleepaway camp and how to clean them. All great questions and the good news is, you can work with your doctor to get a replacement aligner and you can bring your aligners to camp and change them every week like you do at home.

I couldn’t believe, in my opinion, the ease of it all and how unnoticeable they are when you wear them. We are all looking forward to seeing the progress and new and improved smiles for all of us.

If you would like to learn more, take the Invisalign smile assessment. Find out if the Invisalign treatment is right for you or someone in your family.

Not “Wasted Away” at The Margaritaville Beach Resort

I take my 3 kids away by myself a lot now. At first, it was quite overwhelming; the thought of me alone on a plane and in a hotel with all 3 of my kids by myself was kind of scary. I have been doing this for over 8 years now, since my 3rd was only a few weeks old.

I am tough and they listen. This is how it has always been in our home. We practice “tough love.” When you have a consistency in your house, your kids know and understand how you operate, so it is not any different when we travel.

I took my 3 children last month to Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort for a few days to explore and relax over Presidents Break. I had no idea what to expect. Was Jimmy Buffett going to be at the front door? Would we hear “Wasted Away Again At Margaritaville,” all day long?

We arrived to a gigantic flip flop in one of the most gorgeous hotel lobby’s I have ever seen. The kids instantly went for the flip-flop, it was a sight! We checked in and hit the pool and the beach. The pool was a beautiful oasis that was no deeper than 4 feet, which meant I could relax a little too and not worry about the deep end. The hotel also has the FlowRider, which was a huge hit. It is a surfing simulator and what I liked the most, was they had a surf “coach” who really helped the kids improve and attempt standing up.

We also loved the location of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, it is right on the Broadwalk so you have instant access to great restaurants, stroll fun shops and of course the beach! But if you want to just stay close, there is The Landshark Bar and Grill and of course Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant which the kids loved, because you can sit in a boat that also has a TV. This is great for the kids and for Mom and Dad who may want to have a conversation together.

Another great aspect of this hotel are the rooms. They are all spacious and beachy and renovated with beautiful accents. They have a fridge, which is helpful with kids and snacks and drinks, and they also have a fabulous view of the beach, so you can sit on your balcony and take in the sunrise or sunset.

We happened to be at Margaritaville on National Margarita Day. So this Mom, at 45 years old had her first Margarita ever. It was fun to celebrate the day with others, who couldn’t believe I had never experienced this drink.

We do hope to be back at Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort soon. We will never be “wasted away” but I will always remember the fun we had and the joy I get being able to take my 3 kids away by myself even if I read the same chapter of my book over and over again. Every mom knows what I am talking about…

Every Mom Needs a She Shed and an Afternoon with Genevieve Gorder!

Ever meet someone and you instantly feel like you have known them forever? Where you are finishing each others sentences and you just cannot get enough of each other…Well, this happened to me last week. I had a chance to meet the wonderful design expert and TV host, Genevieve Gorder!

We talked about being from the Midwest, we talked about our daughters, we spoke about New York City and chatted about the importance of celebrating “me time” in style. We talked and talked while snacking on Fiber One’s new Brownie Bites which are the perfect, guilt-free snack to indulge on when you need a moment to yourself.

As a busy mom of 3, I fully understand the importance of #metime. I rarely take it (I am working on this) so that’s why I invited a few friends and took a few hours out of my day to relax and explore Fiber One’s She Shed with Genevieve. I let her know that I am design inept and have actually broken into a sweat while trying to choose a paint color. Genevieve was comforting, charistmatic and obviously very talented as she walked me around her designs. She showed me some simple design ideas and enhancements you can do on a budget and we talked about how it would be a dream of mine for someone like her to come into my home one day and just take over. I struggle with making design choices, and I am constantly searching for that Feng Shui gene that many people have.

When you are a mom of 3 living in an apartment, you most definitely need your own space to relax and feel zen like. It is so necessary to also take that time for yourself where you can breathe a little and laugh a little since raising a family can be so exhausting and challenging.

So here’s to more of #MeTime, here’s to more time with friends and here’s to hopefully creating my very own She Shed one day! A little nook or place that I can call my own. I will also make sure to always have Fiber One’s new Brownie Bites on hand, they are perfectly portioned, guilt-free indulgences that I plan to stash in my very own She Shed, away from the kids!

This Post is in partnership with Fiber one

We Love Ariane Gold and Goldno.8 Here’s why…

Ariane Gold is the owner and designer of goldno.8. Ariane has worked for some of the biggest names in the fashion industry over the past 20 years including Ralph Lauren, TSE, Catherine Malandrino and Isaac Mizrahi. Her designs have been featured in top fashion magazines across the globe including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, W and Marie Claire and sold at top retailers worldwide.

In addition to her fashion career, Ariane launched a successful home décor business called BUTCH & harold with her sister. The brand has been sold in stores ranging from Bed Bath and Beyond to MOMA Design store and has been featured in top publications and TV shows.

Juggling life as a successful Creative Director and mother of two can be challenging on the fashion front. goldno.8 was conceived in part because her busy lifestyle. Constantly running from work, to the gym, to the boy’s activities, and evenings out demanded a bag that was both fashionable and functional. And so, goldno.8 was born and we couldnt be happier! Go Ariane Go!

Melissa Gerstein, Ariane Gold (founder Goldno.8) Michelle Gold (sister) Denise Albert.

Click here to shop Goldno.8!

How They Did It: Introducing Em & Liz

The MOM IDEA…The Em and Liz Box! The Em and Liz Box was inspired by our passion for shopping for the sparkliest, girliest products and accessories for our own daughters as well as incorporating elements from our own childhood. Each box is curated with 4-6 full size, high quality age appropriate items that closely tie into a monthly theme. The boxes also feature 2 sheets of theme based stationary and our SurPRIZE Pod.

We vividly remember collecting Lisa Frank stationary, writing letters to friends and eagerly checking the mailbox everyday for a special note. Our aim for the Em and Liz stationary is to ignite that lost art of letter writing and to encourage friends to send fun messages or drawings to one another. The Em and Liz SuPRIZE Pod is a mixture of our take on the pop culture phenomenon of surprise eggs and our nostalgic nod to vending machine prizes. With all of these features mixed into one fun subscription box, the Em and Liz Box allows young girls to experience and prolong the magic of girlhood month after month.

To the left Riki and Elizabeth (Liz). To the right Effie and Emanuella (Em).

 

Click here to shop The Em & Liz Box.

How She Did It: Introducing Melissa from Baked by Melissa

My goal in life has always been to find something that I was passionate about and would leave me exhausted from hard work at the end of the day. On family vacations, my brother and I would lie on the beach and think up new business ideas; then we’d come home and actually try to implement them. I didn’t realize at the time, but all that dreaming would come in handy. In 2008 I was working as an assistant media planner. I certainly wasn’t passionate about my job, and I guess it was clear to the people at the company because – I was fired. On that day, I called my brother, and he told me, “Don’t worry, it’s the best thing that could ever happen to you.”

He was right. “Go home and bake your cupcakes; we’ll start a business out of it” is what he told me. I ran to the supermarket, looking for flavor inspiration. That’s when I thought up s’mores, cookie dough, and peanut butter cup cupcakes — three of my favorite things in the world. These went along with the flavor I famously had been making for all my family and friends — tie-dye.

Following a serendipitous series of events, I got a tasting with a well-known NYC caterer. We needed a name and a logo, and my brother insisted that it have a personal touch. We settled on Baked by Melissa. My friend Matt was twiddling around on his computer; within minutes he turned his monitor around and asked, “What do you think of this?” It was the exact same logo that we have today.

I went to that meeting with the NYC caterer with boxes that I got from the deli across the street from my apartment, our new logo printed on a piece of paper that we glued on top of the box. Inside were my cupcakes, which I decided to make mini without paper, so the aesthetic was just like they are to this day – simply designed with a little touch of the stuffing on top. The caterer loved them and from there, everything was a whirlwind. We created a website, baked cupcakes for events and holiday markets in the city, started selling at a pop up, and then launched our first retail location – a pickup window in Soho.

Baked by Melissa has always been a group vision. In those early days, I had an amazing team of friends (old and new), plus my brilliant brother, parents, and now husband! You can’t do something like this alone: you have to recognize what you’re great at and surround yourself with people who have the strengths that you don’t. That’s exactly what we did, and that is what we do today. Now we have 14 locations and ship our baked goods nationwide. It’s been a magical ride, and there is so much more to come. I feel so fortunate to wake up each day and make life sweeter for people everywhere.

Click here to shop Baked By Melissa.

WILL YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON BE MERRY OR MADDENING?

Whether you’re hosting at home or traveling for the holidays, no one has time to deal with a cold for longer than necessary. I cannot have time for a cold as a Mom of 3.  But if you do feel a cold coming on, for my family we always have the new homeopathic Cold Remedy Medicated Fruit Drops from Zicam® in our medicine cabinet.

These gummy drops shorten the length of a cold when taken at the first sign of symptoms.

If your family is like mine, everyone likes a different flavor so its great that there’s assortment of fruity flavors….And they are delicious.

This time of year it’s not just cold symptoms that people need to worry about. People can also feel more lonely and isolated when they have a cold. That’s why Zicam® is passionate about finding ways to help people stay connected.

Zicams ColdSense mobile app not only helps people stay on top of their potential exposure to the common cold, but also connects them to digital ‘get well’ messages to send to friends and loved ones this cold season.

Traveling or hosting for the holidays can be stressful. I’m sure we have all been in the situation of having to suffer through sleeping on the couch at your in-laws, or even more uncomfortable…. having them sleep on your couch.

During the holidays why not think about planning a mini-vacation and looking for a place that you can have an experience.

If you are going to have visitors this year it would be great for them to try out Hilton Garden Inn.  This year, Hilton Garden Inn made even more enhancements to its already award-winning food & beverage offerings, and have some amazing new menu items and inventive handcrafted cocktails.

My family stays at a Hilton Garden Inn every year when we travel to Toronto for the holidays. The manager even knows us and always welcomes us.  And my kids love the made-to-order breakfast.  

 

From made-to-order breakfasts to gourmet coffee to small plates like flatbreads and fresh hummus and veggies, to delicious larger meals, you can enjoy a wonderful experience dining at your hotel before heading to visit family.

 

And after spending the day celebrating with family, you can wrap up your time together back at the Hilton Garden Inn and enjoy some of the handcrafted cocktails created by a mixologist.

Check out Hilton Garden Inn’s website to find a location near you or near where you’re traveling. www.hgi.com

This Post is in partnership with Hilton Garden Inn and Zicam.

I never take a back seat in life, but I will in a Chrysler Pacifica

Road trips have never interested me. They just aren’t my thing.  I find them exhausting and I become the “server” to all the little people in the backseat all day long.  I like to get to our destinations quickly.  There are so many direct flight options out of New York City that you can pretty much get to anywhere you want to go very easily.

But, for some reason this past Fall we took to the roads over the skies.  I thought about all the foliage and autumn scenery that it might make for a nice change.  We headed to Montreal last month in the new Chrysler Pacifica, which my youngest says is like having our own house but on wheels.  This time she asked me to sit in the back with her, which I have never done.  She said, “Mommy come join the movie theatre.”  She has such an imagination, but she was right, it was like having your own personal movie theatre.

First off, the middle section seats recline back like theatre seating and the sound system is amazing.  We held hands while watching movies together and laughed and it was such a change for me from sitting in the front seat head down into my phone.  It made all the difference in the world.  The Pacifica has this incredible Uconnect® Theater features with dual 10.1-inch HD touchscreens with Blu-ray™ player, dual HDMI inputs, wireless headphones, Bluetooth® remotes, downloadable games and apps. My kids were in heaven!

When you are a family of five and you are on the road for hours, everyone needs their own space.  The Pacifica offers more room than any other vehicle we have ever driven and my kids never quarreled once while we drove to Montreal.  They could stretch out and relax with their own screens and plenty of space.

For all those families out there with teenagers, this vehicle is packed with outlets.  You might think how silly, but when you are on those long road trips, outlets are a moms best friend, to keep all those devices charged up.  This allows the parents a more relaxing experience so you are not hearing every 5 minutes, “are we there yet?”

Yes, the most important factor to any family on any road trip to anywhere is their safety.  The Chrysler Pacifica has the highest safety ranking in its class.  At the end of the day, that is all that really matters.  The comfort of the Pacifica and all it’s high tech new features are impressive but safety is first and foremost and that is what will put our family back on the road in this vehicle time and time again.

So here’s to my next road trip adventure and always taking a back seat with The Chrysler Pacifica.

*This post is in partnership with Chrysler*

After Surviving Breast Cancer, I Was Diagnosed With Rheumatoid Arthritis

I’m still here. I can still do things to feel good. I can still enjoy life with my kids and family.  I’ve written this piece so many times in my head. Now that I’m actually typing it … I realize it is hard to share these thoughts. Each time I share something I try to convey my experiences; my life, my journey with breast cancer, my experience with the TSA, my divorce, parenting and my work, in an authentic way that perhaps also may help others.

I have written and said I have never thought, “Why Me?” when dealing with my cancer. I have said that I knew why. I felt I had a voice and a way to help others. I would be lying though if I didn’t admit that in the past few months I did think, “Why Me?” I wouldn’t be authentic if I didn’t admit I have felt sorry for myself. You know what … I think that’s okay too. I have gone through a lot beyond my chemo and radiation treatments.

To read the full story visit Good Housekeeping.