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You talked it over with your SO. Weighed the pros and cons. Eventually you decided to accept the job offer halfway across the country. Congratulations!


You will get teary eyed as you tell your friends and neighbors your news, but secretly you’re really excited about what’s to come.

Getting your house ready to put on the market will take some effort. Okay, it will be exceedingly stressful and exhausting. But you will prevail. Same if you need to help arrange new tenants for your landlord. The whole thing is logistics logistics logistics.

But somewhere around the time your house sells, or new tenants sign a lease, the reality of the move will sink in and your excitement will transform into panic.

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What are we doing?!

Too late to turn back, you’ll plunge forward with a smile on your face (for the kids, of course).

Moving can be scary, especially when your headed somewhere unfamiliar. But you will survive these stressful days, weeks, months.

How do I know, you ask?

Because I’m doing it right now. My husband and I are relocating to Houston with our two and four-year-olds. Some days it feels like a big mistake. But other days it feels like the adventure of a lifetime.

Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.


1. Go online

A quick Google search of “moving to Houston” brings up 88 million results. Pick a few dozen articles to scroll through and – surprise – Houston is hot and humid with horrible traffic. I’m willing to bet all 88 million articles reference the weather and commute in America’s fourth largest city, but there’s good news, too. Nearly every search result also talks about how nice and welcoming the people of Houston are and how much there is to do in the city. Plus, we found several resources that broke down the city by suburb that, combined with wanting to avoid a heinous commute time, led us to where we would eventually look at homes.

Take the time to do your research, because you can learn a lot about your new city before you even visit.

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2. Do recon…alone

While the Internet is a tremendous resource, it’s critical to actually visit your new city before moving there—if possible.

While you may want to plan a trip with the entire family (dependent on the age of your children and how much time until your move), I suggest making the first trip adults-only. Your kids are going to feed off of your emotions for better or worse, so take the opportunity to get comfortable, learn your way around the area a bit and find some fun things to do so that you’re stress-free (ish) when you welcome the kids for the first time.

3. Trust an expert

Find a realtor that you like and trust, because you may be spending quite a bit of time together. When my husband and I flew down to Texas to look at houses, we spent four full days with our agent. If we hadn’t gotten along it would have made our first experience in our new town quite unpleasant.

In addition to guiding you through the home buying process, a good realtor should be able to answer your questions about the area in which you’re looking to live, from describing the vibes of the various neighborhoods to directing you to the nearest Starbucks drive thru.

4. Don’t just buy a house

I really enjoy house hunting. It’s fun to compare floor plans, imagine where your own furniture would go, and even get some design inspiration (assuming it’s furnished). But when you’re moving your family to a new city, it’s very important to remember that you’re not just buying the house. You’re picking a neighborhood and a school district, too.

Make sure you love the part of town the home is in, be aware of how far away the grocery stores are and know what schools your children will attend. Also, put your realtor to good use and make sure you understand future resale potential in the area, as well.

5. Meet the locals

Unless your realtor lives down the street from your new house, it’s likely he or she won’t know every little detail about the neighborhood. Once you find an area you like, visit it during different times of the day. We love living in a neighborhood full of young families, so we were on the hunt for mini-vans, bicycles and sidewalk chalk residue.

While driving around we came across a family on a walk (the stroller was a dead giveaway) and pulled over to ask them about the area. That interaction was the most calm I felt about our move the entire time we were there. The mom even gave me her email and has been a huge resource ever since. (I told you people in Houston are known for being nice!) Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with a stranger, because they could just become your first new friend.

6. Feel all the feels

Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. Add kids and a brand new city to the mix and it’s downright overwhelming. So often when things are tough, mom puts on her brave face and acts like she is fine when she isn’t. You’re going to talk to your kids about the move and how they’re feeling, so do yourself a favor and get in touch with your own emotions – whether it’s uncertainty, disappointment or fear.

Let your partner know what you’re experiencing and talk through it together. You will feel better, I promise.

7. Remind yourself why you’re moving

When the moving truck arrives and you’ve said your goodbyes, try not to lose sight of what got you to this point. It all began with an amazing opportunity, a thoughtful discussion and a careful decision. Enjoy your new city. It’s chock full of adventure and possibilities.


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There are few kids television shows as successful as PAW Patrol. The Spin Masters series has spawned countless toys and clothing deals, a live show and now, a movie.

That's right mama, PAW Patrol is coming to the big screen in 2021.

The big-screen version of PAW Patrol will be made with Nickelodeon Movies and will be distributed by Paramount Pictures.

"We are thrilled to partner with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring the PAW Patrol franchise, and the characters that children love, to the big screen," Spin Master Entertainment's Executive Vice President, Jennifer Dodge, announced Friday.

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"This first foray into the arena of feature film marks a significant strategic expansion for Spin Master Entertainment and our properties. This demonstrates our commitment to harnessing our own internal entertainment production teams to develop and deliver IP in a motion picture format and allows us to connect our characters to fans through shared theatrical experiences," Dodge says.

No word on the plot yet, but we're gonna bet there's a problem, 'round Aventure Bay, and Ryder and his team of pups will come and save the day.

We cannot even imagine how excited little PAW Patrol fans will be when this hits theatres in 2021. It's still too early to buy advance tickets but we would if we could!

News

In the middle of that postpartum daze, the sleepless nights, the recovery, the adjustment to a new schedule and learning the cues of a new baby, there are those moments when a new mom might think, I don't know how long I can do this.

Fortunately, right around that time, newborns smile their first real smile.

For many mothers, the experience is heart-melting and soul-lifting. It's a crumb of sustenance to help make it through the next challenges, whether that's sleep training, baby's first cold, or teething. Each time that baby smiles, the mother remembers, I can do this, and it's worth it.

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Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT a NYC-based psychotherapist and author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide to Being a Happy, Healthy Mom, says she sees this in her clinical practice.

"One mother I worked with recounted her experience of her baby's first smile. At eight weeks postpartum, exhausted and overwhelmed, she remembered her baby smiling broadly at her just before a nighttime feeding," Kurtz says. "In that moment, she was overcome by tremendous joy and relief, and felt, for the first time, a real connection to her son."

So what is it about a baby's smile that can affect a mother so deeply? Can it all be attributed to those new-mom hormones? Perhaps it stems from the survival instincts that connect an infant with its mother, or the infant learning social cues. Or is there something more going on inside our brains?

In 2008, scientists in Houston, TX published their research on the topic. Their study, "What's in a Smile? Maternal Brain Responses to Infant Facial Cues", takes data from the MRI images of 26 women as they observed images of infants smiling, crying, or with a neutral expression.

The images included the mother's own infant alternated with an unknown infant of similar ethnicity and in similar clothing and position. In each image, the baby displayed a different emotion through one of three facial expressions; happy, neutral, or sad. Researchers monitored the change in the mothers' brain activity through the transitions in images from own-infant to unknown-infant, and from happy to neutral to sad and vice versa.

The results?

"When first-time mothers see their own baby's face, an extensive brain network appears to be activated, wherein affective and cognitive information may be integrated and directed toward motor/behavioral outputs," wrote the study's authors. Seeing her infant smile or cry prompts the areas of the brain that would instigate a mother to act, whether it be to comfort, care for, or caress and play with the baby.

In addition, the authors found that reward-related brain regions are activated specifically in response to happy, but not sad, baby faces. The areas of the brain that lit up in their study are the same areas that release dopamine, the "pleasure chemical." For context, other activities that elicit dopamine surges include eating chocolate, having sex, or doing drugs. So in other words, a baby's smile may be as powerful as those other feel-good experiences.

And this gooey feeling moms may get from seeing their babies smile isn't just a recreational high—it serves a purpose.

This reward system (aka dopaminergic and oxytocinergic neuroendocrine system) exists to motivate the mother to forge a positive connection with the baby, according to Aurélie Athan, PhD, director of the Reproductive & Maternal Psychology Laboratory (a laboratory that created the first graduate courses of their kind in these subjects).

These networks also promote a mother's ability to share her emotional state with her child, which is the root of empathy. "A mother cries when baby cries, smiles when baby smiles," Athan says.

While there's a physiological explanation underlying that warm-and-fuzzy sensation elicited by a smile, there may be other factors at play too, Kurtz says.

"In my clinical practice, I often observe a stunning exchange between a mother and her baby when the latter smiles at her. A mother who is otherwise engaged in conversation with me may be, for that moment, entirely redirected to focus on her little one," Kurtz says. "This kind of attention-capturing on the part of the baby can enable and cultivate maternal attunement—a mother's ability to more deeply connect with her infant. The quality of attunement in early childhood often sets the stage for one's relationship patterns in the future."

Whether a physiological response, a neural activation, simple instinct, or the tightening of emotional connection, the feeling generated by babies' smiles is a buoy in the choppy ocean of new parenthood.

And while the first smile may be the most magical by virtue of its surprise and the necessity of that emotional lift, the fuzzy feeling can continue well into that baby's childhood and beyond. It keeps telling parents, you've got this!

[This was originally published on Apparently]

Life

Chrissy Teigen is one of the most famous moms in the world and definitely one of the most famous moms on social media.

She's the Queen of Twitter and at least the Duchess of Instagram but with a massive following comes a massive dose of mom-shame, and Teigen admits the online comments criticizing her parenting affects her.

"It's pretty much everything," Teigen told Today, noting that the bulk of the criticism falls into three categories: How she feeds her kids, how she uses her car seats and screen time.

"Any time I post a picture of them holding ribs or eating sausage, I get a lot of criticism," she explained. "Vegans and vegetarians are mad and feel that we're forcing meat upon them at a young age. They freak out."

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Teigen continues: "If they get a glimpse of the car seat there is a lot of buckle talk. Maybe for one half of a second, the strap slipped down. And TV is another big one. We have TV on a lot in my house. John and I work on television; we love watching television."

Teigen wants the shame to stop, not just for herself but for all the other moms who feel it. (And we agree.)

"Hearing that nine out of 10 moms don't feel like they're doing a good enough job is terrible," she said. "We're all so worried that we're not doing all that we can, when we really are."

The inspiration for Teigen talking publicly about mom-shame may be in part because of her participation in Pampers' "Share the Love" campaign. But even though Teigen's discussion coincides with this campaign, the message remains equally important. Advertising can be a powerful tool for shifting the way society thinks about what's "normal" and we would much rather see companies speaking out against mom-shame than inducing it to sell more stuff.

Calling out mom-shame in our culture is worth doing in our lives, our communities and yes, our diaper commercials. Thank you Chrissy (and thank you, Pampers).

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Dear fellow mama,

I was thinking about the past the other day. About the time I had three small boys—a newborn, his 2-year-old brother and his 5-year-old brother.

How I was always drowning.

How I could never catch my breath between the constant requests.

How I always felt guilty no matter how hard I tried.

How hard it was—the constant exhaustion, struggling to keep my home any kind of clean or tidy, how I struggled to feed my kids nutritious meals, to bathe them and clean them and keep them warmly dressed in clean clothing, to love them well or enough or well enough.

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Those years were some of the toughest years I have ever encountered.

But mama, I am here to tell you that it doesn't last forever. Slowly, incrementally, without you even noticing, it gets easier. First, one child is toilet trained, then the bigger one can tie his own shoelaces, then finally they are all sleeping through the night.

It's hard to imagine; I really really get it.

It is going to get easier. I swear it. I'm not saying that there won't be new parenting challenges, that it won't be the hardest thing you have ever done in your life. It will be. But it will get easier.

These days, all of my kids get the bus to school and back. Most of them dress themselves. They can all eat independently and use the toilet. Sometimes they play with each other for hours leaving me time to do whatever I need to do that day.

I sleep through the night. I am not constantly in a haze of exhaustion. I am not overwhelmed by three tiny little people needing me to help them with their basic needs, all at the same time.

I can drink a hot cup of coffee. I do not wish with every fiber of my being that I was an octopus, able to help each tiny person at the same time.

I am not tugged in opposite directions. I don't have to disappoint my 3-year-old who desperately wants to play with me while I am helping his first grade bother with his first grade reading homework.

And one day, you will be here too.

It's going to get easier. I promise. And while it may not happen today or even next week or even next month, it will happen. And you will look around in wonder at the magnificent people you helped to create and nurture and sustain.

Until then, you are stronger and more resilient than you can even imagine.

You've got this. Today and always.

Love,

A fellow mama

Life
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