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The sun descended into the ocean, a fiery orange ball igniting disco-like flashes across the rolling waves.


Sunburned, the kids were weary, beginning to fray. Parents faced the aftermath of a full day at the beach, involving lots of sand tracks through the house and messy baths because of said sand. The grandparents turned their attention to dinner: It was burger night.

Unlike everyone else, my son’s burger was plain; he wouldn’t let lettuce and tomato ruin his hamburger. The cousins sat together at the bar, boys to one side, the giggly girls the other. Coughing and vomiting suddenly hushed all laughter and conversation

“Ewww! Gross,” the girls shrieked.

A cousin had pranked my son, hiding a small succulent piece of lettuce in his burger. Everything in my kid’s stomach from the day now decorated his once-plain burger.

I caught my weary head in my hands. This scene was a vivid reminder that our son had issues with vegetables. He started rejecting fresh produce as a wee toddler but it wasn’t until he began gagging and throwing-up that I accepted his aversion wasn’t in his mind or a childish act of rebellion. With the exception of applesauce, he simply couldn’t tolerate the texture of produce.

As he grew, he enjoyed junk food of every kind like any kid. Candy. Ice cream. Cookies. Soda. Chips. When junior high arrived, energy drinks were the rage and my son’s friends introduced him to Monster and later, Red Bull. I felt a helpless as a mom, trying to balance what I knew was ‘normal’ while also agonizing that unlike most kids, my son refused carrots or grapes. He looked the picture of health, but I worried a lifetime of bad eating habits would dog him.

My admonitions that he re-try fruits and vegetables every so often—Give them a second chance!—didn’t only fall on deaf ears, they deepened his resistance. All things considering, I let go. I couldn’t fix this. Instead, I choose to prioritize my relationship him.

And then, one day, everything started changing. My son was required to read Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma Young Readers Edition for his high school freshman English class. Using the question “What’s for dinner?” as a prompt, Pollan unpacks what is hidden in the everyday foods we consume. My teen son’s curiosity was whet. What he learned appalled him.

“Do you actually know what we are eating, Mom?”

His reaction was pure disgust as he learned what processed food is. Frowning, he read food labels. Around the dinner table he singled out corn, but not in the way you may think.

“Corn-filler is slipped into just about everything we eat. It’s terrible for you!”

I was getting lectured but I didn’t mind. Every fleeting anxiety I’d had about his posture toward food vanished. Overnight, he had morphed into an advocate for health and wellness, urging me to quit buying white rice. White rice, he explained, was stripped of all its protein and minerals so it had a longer shelf life.

“Brown rice is loaded with protein. Get that.” Nodding, I listened in silence. This book was teaching him in ways I couldn’t.

When he changed, I had to change, too. Whole-grain bread for sandwiches and protein-packed energy bars fill my grocery cart. For breakfast, granola fresh out of the grocery storage bins or oatmeal, the old-fashioned rolled oats kind, Not the instant packets, Mom!

I had been regularly buying ice cream for my teens but suddenly it got freezer-burn. Sugary cereal got stale in the box. He quit asking me to buy Cool Whip, previously used to top whatever he fancied. He cut back on all of the processed foods I’d stocked the pantry with. Pretzels, Cheez-Its, unacceptable. Energy drinks? No way. He boosted his water intake. Gratefully, he had always liked fish and we stepped up our consumption.

On an ordinary school night, I tap on his bedroom door. “Tea.”

He’s quit dessert and instead, ends the day with hot tea. Taking chamomile back to his room also gives me a chance to say good-night to my high schooler. In the morning out of the corner of my eye I see him remove a bag of Pringles from his brown-bag lunch.

“That’s junk, Mom. Empty calories.” He reaches instead for almonds and cashews.

“I’m still getting the hang of this!” Truly, I am.

There may come a day when he reattempts a hamburger with lettuce. But even if he doesn’t, his foundational thinking about food and health no longer troubles me.

I know I can’t take any credit for this victory and honestly, it doesn’t matter. I long ago accepted that it takes a village to raise a child. Today, I recognize that books are influential members of this community as well. 

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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Jessica Simpson celebrated her baby shower this weekend (after getting a cupping treatment for her very swollen pregnancy feet) and her theme and IG captions have fans thinking this was not just a shower, but a baby name announcement as well.

Simpson (who is expecting her third child with former NFL player Eric Johnson) captioned two photos of her shower as "💚 Birdie's Nest 💚". The photographs show Simpson and her family standing under a neon sign spelling out the same thing.

While Simpson didn't explicitly state that she was naming her child Birdie, the numerous references to the name in her shower photos and IG stories have the internet convinced that she's picking the same name Busy Philips chose for her now 10-year-old daughter.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to name nerds and trend watchers.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

Simpson's older kids are called Maxwell and Ace, which both have a vintage feel, so if Birdie really is her choice, the three old-school names make a nice sibling set.

Whether Birdie is the official name or just a cute nickname Simpson is playing around with, we get the appeal and bet she can't wait for her little one to arrive (and her feet to go back to normal!)

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Mamas, if you hire a cleaning service to tackle the toddler fingerprints on your windows, or shop at the neighborhood grocery store even when the deals are better across town, don't feel guilty. A new study by the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School shows money buys happiness if it's used to give you more time. And that, in turn could be better for the whole family.

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As if we needed another reason to shop at Target, our favorite store is offering some great deals for mamas who need products for baby. Mom life can be expensive and we love any chance at saving a few bucks. If you need to stock up on baby care items, like diapers and wipes, now is the time.

Right now, if you spend $100 on select diapers, wipes, formula, you'll get a $20 gift card with pickup or Target Restock. Other purchases will get you $5 gift cards during this promotion:

  • $20 gift card when you spend $100 or more on select diapers, wipes, formula, and food items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select beauty care items
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select household essentials items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock
  • $5 gift card when you buy 2 select Iams, Pedigree, Crave & Nutro dog and cat food or Fresh Step cat litter items using in store Order Pickup
  • $5 gift card when you buy 3 select feminine care items using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock

All of these promotions will only run through 11:59 pm PT on Saturday, January 19, 2019 so make sure to stock up before they're gone!

Because the deals only apply to select products and certain colors, just be sure to read the fine print before checking out.

Target's website notes the "offer is valid using in store Order Pickup, Drive Up or Target Restock when available".

The gift cards will be delivered after you have picked up your order or your Target Restock order has shipped.

We won't tell anyone if you use those gift cards exclusively for yourself. 😉 So, get to shopping, mama!

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