Family * Travel * Food

LOVEUARY is the new February on Hallmark Channel with the Original Premiere of "Welcome to Mama's" on Saturday, Feb. 26th at 8pm/7c!

Today's post is sponsored by Hallmark Channel 

Can you believe that we are getting ready to close out the month of February already? One of my favorite things about February is the coziness and warmth of the most romantic month of the year. I enjoy all of the festivities surrounding Valentine's Day from the fancy meals, flowers, decadent treats, and just the feeling of love in the air. I particularly enjoy doing special things for my family to show a little extra love. I write little love notes to go in their lunch boxes, as well as send a love-themed treat. Of course you can't enjoy the month of February without Hallmark Channel movies, the go-to destination for romantic movies. It's Where Love Happens! Loveuary is the new February.


We are super excited for the last movie premiere in the Hallmark Channel's Loveuary line-up. "Welcome to Mama's" will premiere on Saturday, Feb 26th at 8pm/7c. Welcome to Mama's stars Melanie Scrofano, Daniel di Tomasso and Lorraine Bracco. 

After she inherits an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn, manager Amy teams up with a master chef to relaunch the establishment and make her loved ones proud. You'll have to tune in to find out of she cooks up! 

Be sure to enter the Loveuary Sweepstakes where you can show off your heart hands for a chance to win a prize. Also you can grab virtual backgrounds for your Zoom meetings as well as check out some tasty Loveuary recipes

I will be cozied up on the couch with my snacks and drinks to watch the premiere. I will be live-Tweeting @momfiles, and hope you will join me! We'll be giving away (1) $50 Visa Gift Card at the end of the movie, so you won't want to miss that.  

We are also happy to offer a reader giveaway for one winner to win (1) $25 Visa Gift Card. We'd love to know what love means to you. Check out the details below to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway  

This giveaway is open to U.S. Residents only and ends on March 7, 2022. Must follow rules in Rafflecopter. One winner will be chosen randomly. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by! 

xoxo, Shelly


It's Our Anniversary!

Another year has gone by, and today we celebrate 24 years of marriage. It really is so hard to believe that it has been that long since the day we said I do. Marriage isn't the easiest thing, but I feel like it gets sweeter with time. This last year was a bit a test. I lost both of my parents, and felt like I wasn't fully present most of the time. My sweet husband has been so supportive and definitely put me first. I guess in reality, that's how marriage is supposed to work. You have to be strong when the other is weak.

I am thankful to have someone to catch me when I fall, and that I can do the same right back. You don't question anything, you are just there. I tell younger or newer couples to never give up on each other. I'm sure that's easier said than done, but I believe in putting in the work. So many of the arguments that couples have can be worked out. I wish for everyone to have the kind of marriage that I have. It's a wonderful feeling knowing that I don't have to face anything alone.
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband and best friend of 24 years. Cheers!
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How Being Middle-Aged Has Changed My Life

I have been going through so many changes this year. It has been an unfortunate year filled with loss in a lot of different ways. I have really learned who is truly in my corner, through good and bad. It turns out that number has tremendously dwindled, and I struggled with it. I have been taking time out for myself to rest, refresh, and reset almost daily. If I'm not close to 100% emotionally and physically, well then I'm simply no good to anyone.

I have experienced some really great things this year. When I chose to stop focusing so hard on what I have lost, it opened my heart and mind to clearly see how much I have gained.
  • Worrying- I had to put a stop to this. I became so immersed in worry/anxiety/panic that it started to affect my well-being. I had to pound into my head that I can't change or control everything. Obsessing over things that might go the wrong way, or maybe go the right way isn't living. I had to come to a point where I say to myself, "Whatever the outcome may be, I will deal with it". As small as that might seem, it has helped me a lot. Things are going to happen the way they are intended. I can't do a thing about anything that has happened in the past. I can only focus on what's to come. 
  • Putting myself first- Most women don't know what this even means or how you even do it. I have made my health and happiness a priority. That is not negotiable. I no longer feel guilty doing nice things for myself or even indulging in what I want. As long as I don't go above my means, I allow myself the pleasures of life. I don't skimp on things for myself any more. 
  • Eating and sleeping- It's so hard sometimes to eat properly when all you want is cheese fries and sushi. I still fight hard to maintain balance, but don't deny myself of what I really want on occasion. I do drink plenty of water daily, and know if I haven't had enough by the way I feel. I find myself taking naps as I need. I don't worry about the dishes in the sink because they will still be there when I get up. Some nights I go to bed before 10:00. A well-rested Shelly is a happy Shelly. 
  • Protecting my spirit- I have been staying away from watching the news. The negativity really gets to me, especially when it deals with sexual abuse. It has come to the point where I have to deactivate some of my social media accounts for short periods of time. If it's not positively feeding my spirit, I steer clear of it. 
  • Saying no- For most of my life, I have felt a deep obligation to doing things for people. I would feel so guilty to not help. It has come to a point that if my gut tells me to say no, I say just that. The best part is I offer little to no explanation. Now that's some real growth right there! 
  • Ditching the planner- I have spent way too many years planning every single moment of my life down to the minute. I dumped my planner somewhere in my office and life has gone smoothly since then. Sometimes my husband will ask me if I want to take a ride to the beach or up north on a whim. This normally would have freaked me out because it wasn't planned, but now I don't care. I grab my shoes and bag and GO! 
  • Getting in pictures- I learned some time last year that my husband has been sneaking photos of me every time we travel. He would take pictures while I was applying make-up or cooking. I saw some of the photos and was like, you better not let anyone see these awful pictures of me! He didn't see it that way at all. He explained that my true essence shined through as I did the things I would normally do. I was being ME. He simply wants our children to have photos to look back on of me doing things either for myself, with them, or with him. Memories is what it's about. I've stopped being so hard on myself and started hopping in front of the lens instead of behind it. All of my 'imperfections', belly pooch and all are perfectly me, and I have grown to accept them.

Although I have experienced significant growth over the last year, I know I still have more to go. I'm open to it and not letting fear get in my way. So what's next? I don't know, and I don't intend on planning for it. I will let things be. Thanks for stopping by today.
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The Family Files - Can Siblings With Big Age Differences Get Along Well?

These kids of mine are truly something special. They are all so different for the most part, yet have some striking similarities. Their ages are now 22, 20, and soon-to-be 9. It's funny, I often call William an "only child" because his sisters are adults. The nice part is that his big sisters come home from work/school and are fully ready to do child-like things with him. He always complains that his siblings are his biggest botherers 😆The girls are fully obsessed with their little brother. Every little thing he does is so cute to them. Oh, and the fact that he is the most adorable little thing makes everything even cuter! This is why they stay in his face. 

The older siblings do indeed start stuff with the little one. William will be so calm and quiet all day until they get home. That's when the adult children start to behave like little children. I admit, it's a lot of fun seeing the bond between the three of them. William will be the first one to get sad if one of his sisters have to go out of town or are spending the night away from home. By the way, he calls them "my girls". He asks me all day, "When will my girls be home?" And when they do finally get home.....

There are so many days where my husband and I listen to those kids laugh together, talk to each other through the walls, or get into some sort of mischief that results in all of them getting yelled at. It reminds us of how very blessed we are to have children who really love each other and enjoy time together. Our biggest hope is that they will be this way forever.

Do you have children with big age differences? Do they get along well?

Cheap or Free Ways You Can Help Others

The inspiration for this post came from something I heard my 7 year old son say... "Wow, my dad helped the neighborhood and he helped the world". I wanted to share some ideas of how you can help people in little ways to make their lives better. This may spark something within them to want to pay it forward and help someone else.

  • Volunteer at your child's school. 
  • Getting rid of outgrown clothing from younger, school-age children? Consider donating them to your local elementary school's nurse's office. They always have the need for bottoms, underwear and socks. 
  • Text a friend just to let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Smile. A genuine smile triggers other people to smile. 
  • Check up on your neighbors.
  • Be a "Mystery Reader" for your child's class.
  • Offer to help an elderly person in the grocery store.
  • Hold the door open for someone.
  • Compliment a stranger (within reason).
  • When you get a buy-one-get-one free deal, why not share the freebie with a friend or neighbor.
  • Offer to babysit for a new mom.
  • Give your neighbor's dog a treat at the fence.
  • If you are in a store and see someone purchasing something that you have a coupon for, offer it to them. You would be amazed at the joy $1 off can bring to someone.
  • Be the Coupon Fairy. Leave coupons in front of the items they are for in a store. Someone will be very happy to save a little extra money. 
  • Call someone out of the blue. 
  • If you baked something, send in extra for you child's teacher.
  • Always ask the cashier at the store you are at how their day is going. No matter the attitude they may give off, you can still show that you care.
  • Tell someone that you love them. 
  • If you get a gift certificate for purchasing a certain amount in a store, consider giving it to someone. My kids give me their $10 Kohl's cash certificates all the time and it makes me so happy.
  • Hug someone.
  • Make people laugh!
  • Rake or blow leaves for your elderly neighbor.
  • Do a chore for another person in your home. I love when my walk into my bedroom and see my bed already made up.
  • Paying with a gift card and have a small balance left? Give it to the person behind you in line. 
  • Saying, "good morning" or "have a great day" gives off a positive vibe. 
  • A simple "thank you" is always in order.
  • Allowing your inner happiness to shine can bring much needed light to others.
  • Send in a special treat for your child's class or your spouse's co-workers.
  • Write notes to your family members.
  • Write a letter and mail it to a friend. Embellish the envelope with fun stickers.
  • Let your kids eat dessert for dinner once in a while. There's nothing wrong with the occasional ice cream sundae dinner.
  • Show gratitude and appreciation every day.
Sharing love is FREE! What will you go out and do today that will make a difference to others? 

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I remember many years ago when we first moved into our home, the front and back yard was littered with various trees, shrubs and bushes. The previous residents were renters and let's just say that yard maintenance was not a priority to them. My husband and I spent countless hours, weekend after weekend chopping, trimming, pruning and removing anything that was manageable for us to do ourselves. We were pretty certain that the yard trash collection guys hated us because there was always a pile of branches, bags of leaves or some time of yard debris for months on end. I think it took us a good 2 years to really get the yard under control. We did have some plum trees, one Bradford pear and a couple other big trees that up to this day, we really never knew what kind they were.

Of course when you have large trees so close to your house, there comes a lot of risk. Every storm that blew through, we would panic that a large branch would crash through our bedroom window or it would break and fall onto the roof. It finally came the point of letting it all go. In late December, we had our trees removed with the exception of the Bradford pear since it was not causing any problems. It was really hard watching the trees that our daughters used to climb and swing from the branches get cut down. They were just too overgrown and the roots were getting way out of control. We just couldn't risk keeping them anymore. When all of the trees were removed it looked and felt so strange outside. We no longer had shade and our back yard became overly plain and sad looking. I have hinted around to my husband for probably more than 7 years that I really wanted a willow tree in the back yard. Now that all of our trees were gone, it made him a bit more open to getting one planted for me. Of course, he complained that I wanted so badly to hire The Local Tree Experts to get rid of the other trees only to turn around to get more trees.

We were looking around our local Lowe's recently and noticed that all of their trees were on clearance. Although we were just browsing, we came across a willow tree. Even better, the clearance price was only $5.00! My husband did not hesitate to buy it for me. I'm pretty sure he was side-eyeing me just a pinch :)

So here she is, my lovely corkscrew willow! The branches are supposed to have a curvy shape as the tree grows and it is supposed to be pretty for all 4 seasons. I'm so happy to watch her grow and add some much needed beauty and shade (eventually) to my big, empty yard. My hubby even threw in a few evergreens on the fence line. We are planning to plant a poplar tree on the other side since we need a fast-growing tree to give some extra shade. I guess good things come to those who wait. Even better, on clearance!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend xoxo

Feb 13th is Valentine’s for Dogs – Say I LOVE YOU with treats! #ValentinesForDogs (Giveaway)

It's officially the Valentine's season and we give flowers, chocolates and gifts with those we love the most. Of course, we can't forget our fur babies. Dogs give so much unconditional love to their families that we must give some love back. This year, let's celebrate our wonderful animal companions by making February 13th Valentine's Day For Dogs (#valentinesfordogs).  On this day, we make sure we're also giving our pups the attention they deserve. How? I might take them out for a special walk at their favorite dog park, buy them a fluffy and comfy pet bed, or give them Milk-Bone dog treats. The good folks at Milk-Bone, Pup-Peroni, Milo's Kitchen, and Canine Carry Outs have made it easy for you this year with a doggie Valentine's Day card.

Aren't these cards adorable? Aside from my dog, I think the neighbor's dogs would appreciate a special Valentine's treat from their dog buddy.  Get yours today at  They are super easy to download and print. All you do is cut them out, insert a special treat and share with your favorite dog pals.

Also, check out this fun info graphic with hilarious findings about pets and their pet parents. It is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

If you participate in any Valentine's activities with you dog, be sure to share on social media using the #ValentinesForDogs hashtag directed at @milkbone.

How would you like to win an assortment of treats to spoil your pup with? Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on February 18, 2015. Winner will be contacted via email to claim prize. Mom Files does not directly ship prizes and is NOT responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received a prize pack in exchange for spreading the word about the doggy Valentine's from Milk-Bone and hosting a reader giveaway. All opinions are my own. 

Wordless Wednesday- What Happiness Looks Like

This photo was taken at a recent field trip to the zoo with William's kindergarten class.

Meet our new addition

Hi everyone! I wanted to introduce you to our new family member, Rocco Anthony. Rocco came into our lives last week and we are all completely smitten by him. He is a purebred long coat cream and tan chihuahua. He's only 11 weeks old.

Rocco's breeder recommended that we keep him indoors and away from people and other pets until after his next set of puppy shots. He weighs probably 2 pounds and is a great snuggler. Our family just wasn't the same since our beloved Milo passed away in January. The house has been too quiet and we have all been battling the blues and anxiety. Rocco has really turned things around for us emotionally and seems to fit right in with his new family. Funny thing, the breeder told us he had never put his ears up or even seen the light of day, so this would be a big adjustment for him. When we brought him home he shook out of fear for maybe 5 minutes and after that, his ears popped up and his tail wagged steadily. He adjusted immediately.
We are working on the potty training and sleep patterns. It feels like we have a newborn baby all over again. Rocco is a good eater and seems to be growing overnight. We purchased a play yard AKA "dog condo" for him to have a safe place to be when we leave the house for extended periods of time. He's not spoiled at all ;-)

So far things are going well and we all are enjoying Rocco being a part of our family. He even barked for the first time yesterday. He enjoys playing with his toys and is going through the puppy chewing phase. William really enjoys having his own dog. We are happy he has one to grow up with just as the girls did with Milo. We look forward to making a lot of great memories and feel like a little bit of Milo's spirit lives in Rocco. I promise to go easy on the "crazy dog lady" posts. I wish you all a great week!

SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks Over-Ear Headphones Perfect for Mom or Dad (Review & Giveaway)

**WINNER-- Thomas Murphy- Congratulations!**
As the month of April comes to a close, it's time to start thinking about Mother's Day and Father's Day. For so many of us, it seems like you run out of gift ideas for the special moms and dads in your life. I always look for something that they wouldn't necessarily purchase for themselves because they are always working hard and giving so much to everyone else. Mom and dad deserve to be spoiled! I have a great gift suggestion that is sure to please any mom or dad, SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks Over-Ears Headphones.

These headphones are the perfect to help mom or dad "get away" from the hustle and bustle of the day. They truly will change the way you listen to music! The Master Tracks are the most comfortable headphones I have ever tried. They have extra soft speaker pads for a more enjoyable listening experience. The sound quality is superior and really allows you to relax and enjoy your music without interruption. As a matter of fact, you will hear every single note! Oh my, truly the most amazing listening experience ever! You can easily plug them into your iPad, iPhone or iPod and zone out. These are prefect for me to take with me in the school pickup line and even comes with a convenient carrying case. Just a warning, these headphones can cause maximum relaxation and should be kept away from prying teenagers :)

Some product details of the SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks Over-Ear Headphones:
  • Interchangeable Headbands
  • Headband is virtually indestructible. Constructed of an advanced polymer compound, the FlexTech™ Sound Track headband is built to withstand heavy abuse. Twist it, bend it, drop it - it’s not going to break.
  • SONICSOFT™ Speaker Pads- Listen In Comfort & Isolation Supple, noise-isolating ear cushions let you enjoy your music in comfort for hours.
  • 3-Button Mic+Music Control- Adjust the volume, pause/resume/skip music and answer/hang-up calls. The high clarity mic captures every word possible. 
  • X3 Sound Engine- Master Tracks X3 Sound Engine Speakers deliver an immersive music experience balanced with powerful bass, clear highs and supreme vocal accuracy.
  • Comes in 3 colors- Electro Blue, Gunmetal and White. 
  • Retail price: $199.99 
For the mom or dad on-the-go, you might consider the SOL REPUBLIC Relays. These ear buds are easy to put in and won't fall out. They would be great for the parent who is very active. Retail price is $79.99.

You can find SOL REPUBLIC products on their site and connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for products updates and promotions.

How would you like to win a pair of these SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks Over-Ear Headphones? One very lucky Mom Files reader will win a pair!! Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on May 4, 2014. Please follow giveaway rules in Rafflecopter widget. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Momfiles is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

I received complimentary products in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 


I used to think all dog people were crazy

If you told me 11 years ago that your dog was your child or slept in your bed, I would look at you like you were nuts. Growing up in my culture, dogs were taboo in the home. My parents discouraged animals of any kind and would not even visit people if they had a house pet. I did not have the desire to ever have a pet because of my upbringing. When our first child was old enough say the word "dog", she asked for one. I refused to entertain that idea. I told my husband that until we bought a house and had a fenced in yard, I would *think* about it. Of course, the time came that we got the house with the yard and the question came up again. I let my husband and first born have their way and we got a 3 month old long coat chihuahua puppy. He was kind of cute, I admit. It took me no time at all to end up falling in love with this little pooch known as, Milo. We raised Milo as if he was our child. Anyone who visited, even non-dog lovers couldn't resist Milo. He was a cute and sweet dog. He loved everyone except the postal service workers, FedEx and UPS delivery people and the occasional stranger. If he sensed you were not supposed to be around our home, he would let you know it!
Over the years, Milo has been a faithful companion. He was always with one of his family members. He did not like to be left out of anything that was going on. If my husband was outside doing yard work, Milo was there. If I was working in my office, he would nap at my feet. If the kids were watching television, Milo lounged on the couch or floor near them. He was a family dog.

About two months ago, Milo started coughing. It was the first time we had ever heard him do that. We watched him for a few days and decided it was time to get him checked out at the vet. After a thorough examination, x-rays and blood work, it was determined that he had congestive heart failure. At that time, his lungs were full of fluid and he had a heart valve infection. It also was discovered that he had an enlarged heart that was pressing against his windpipe. That was what caused him to cough. We went ahead and got him some immediate treatment and had him put on 4 medications as well as a low-sodium prescription diet. The prognosis was that he may do well on the medications and live a relatively normal life or the opposite. For the first two weeks being on the medication, we noticed a difference and he seemed to be improving. Unfortunately, that didn't last long. He was getting sick again. The coughing came back. It got to the point that he was having a hard time breathing normally. We tried him on another batch of antibiotics as well as his other heart medications and he did not improve. He worsened.

It came down to having to make that big decision. Do we keep watching him suffer or let him go be at peace? It was a unanimous decision by our family (minus William since he doesn't fully understand) that we would have him put down. I always used to tell the girls when Milo was younger that pets don't live for a long time. They aren't the same as humans. I guess we didn't realize that time would come so soon. Ten years flew by and we had to do the right thing for Milo. We spent all of last week saying our final goodbyes to Milo. We let him do as he wanted and fed him like a king. It was hard. We all cried. I cried so much that I couldn't recognize my own face. I did not know I could love a dog that much.

We officially had him put down on Saturday morning. It was so hard. Everyone was very upset, but we knew it was the right thing to do. I think that knowing what was going to happen made it easier to handle. Milo has given us over 10 years of unconditional love and loyalty. We were so blessed to have him in our family. He is gone, but will forever remain in our hearts and memories.

The hardest part now is all the little reminders of him around the house. I no longer have the need for baby gates when we leave the house. I don't have to worry about leaving certain things on the floor in fear he might tear it up. I still hear him though. I hear faint barks and whimpering. I hear the jingle of his collar tags and his nails on the floor as if he is walking around the corner. It feels like he's still here. I have called the kids Milo almost a dozen times already. It will take time. We will all heal. For now, I focus on how much better a person I am because of him. I also know that dog people are definitely not crazy. They have extra big hearts.

Rest in sweet peace, Milo Anthony. You gave us 10 awesome years! We know you are living it up with all your friends in Heaven ♥

How teens are giving our community a little H.O.P.E. this holiday season

My high school daughter, Briahnna is one very busy student. She is involved in two magnet programs at school and takes all honors/IB courses. She is the sport's editor of her yearbook and is also involved in the Youth Action Council as well as H.O.P.E.. HOPE stands for Helping Other People Everywhere. The HOPE organization at her school collects coats, unwrapped toys and non-perishable food items for needy families in the community. Each year the HOPE chair sets a goal on how many food items they want to collect. The goal this year is over 20,000. Being involved in HOPE means that you have to sacrifice time on the weekends as well as after school. That is very hard with Briahnna's demanding courses, but she manages to get the job done! They have students volunteer for a time slot to collect food donations in front of grocery stores that have given them permission to do so. It's a win-win since the store will sell the items that end up being donated and the teens are able to have a secure place for collections.

As a family, we all pitch in and help where we can. I have volunteered to help purchase food items with any money they collect, since I know how to stretch a buck! Briahnna and a couple of her team members set up in front of Sam's Club last weekend and just in their 2-hour shift, they FILLED my very large car trunk and part of the back seat with so many donations! We helped her to get the items to the storage unit on the school campus to be sorted when they got back to school that following week.
I am so proud of Briahnna and her fellow HOPE team members for all of the time they are putting in to help others. Brie has really been enjoying herself despite having to wake up early some Saturday mornings. She is very passionate about this worthy cause.
We have used this time to explain how important it is to help others to little William. He really enjoyed helping to bring items into the food storage unit. He was sad when he learned that there are so many families who don't have a lot of food in their home. He was devastated when he found out that some kids may not get any toys for Christmas. I love that he is understanding it as much as a five year old can.
HOPE will collect food donations until the second week of December. They are already off to such an amazing start and I anticipate they will make their goal. All of the coats, food and toys will be delivered to a local food bank to distribute to needy families in our community. I look forward to attending the unveiling of all their hard work at the HOPE Assembly next month. I will be sure to post an update.

From the Marriage Files: Dating your spouse

Life gets hectic almost all of the time. We have to juggle children, work, activities, bills and other life obligations. It can weigh heavily on a marriage. Although I don't make any resolutions for the new year, I did make a vow to have more dates with my husband in 2013. We both realize how important it is for us to have time together, away from the kids. Ever since January, we have taken time to go out alone whether it is for lunch, browsing the stores or just for cocktails. Having that alone time has brought us closer together and it is nice to engage in intimate conversation and a little laughter. So far we have managed to stick with our dating arrangements. The key to making it happen is to not plan it. We just randomly decide, "hey, do you want to go have dinner or catch a movie?"

Of course there are those times that my hubby looks up Columbia SC Flowers and surprises me with a gorgeous arrangement. After 19 years of marriage, he still buys me flowers. Having them delivered is a romantic touch as well. Just this past weekend, Dwayne asked me out on a date in a formal way. It was so sweet! It's also fun to get all dolled up and even wear heels to have some fun time away from the kids. Even if you don't have a lot of extra money, it is so worth squeezing out a few dollars to go out on a date with your honey.

Do you date your spouse? What do you usually do?


Dove’s Self- Esteem weekend is October 5th-7th | Let's do our part to help young girls build strong self-esteem #spon

Did you know that 6 out of 10 girls stop doing what they love because they feel bad about their looks?


I can certainly believe this from my own experiences. I remember for most of my childhood, I was ashamed to wear certain clothes or participate in sports because I was so thin. I was often made fun of and spent many nights crying myself to sleep. Most people think only overweight girls go through feelings of shame but it turns out that underweight girls feel just as much pain. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I was so "skinny" and thankfully feel good about myself. With two teenage daughters, I work extra hard on helping them feel good about themselves.

Dove® research shows that it is still important for us to address girls' anxiety about looks, as there is a universal increase in beauty pressure and a decrease in girls' confidence as they grow older. Key findings from our latest research include:

 • Only 4% of women around the world consider themselves beautiful (up from 2% in 2004)
 • Only 11% of girls globally are comfortable using the word beautiful to describe themselves
 • 72% of girls feel tremendous pressure to be beautiful • 80% of women agree that every woman has something about her that is beautiful but do not see their own beauty
 • More than half (54%) of women globally agree that when it comes to how they look, they are their own worst beauty critic

 SOURCE: Dove Research: The Real Truth About Beauty: Revisited
Join women across the county, October 5-7, when Dove will be holding a nationwide rally to talk about beauty, confidence and self-esteem. Commit to talk to the girl in your life during the weekend and beyond – it all starts with a conversation. If you can’t share over the weekend, any time is a good time to start the conversation.

Not sure where to start? Download the Let’s Talk Toolkit  Created with Jess Weiner, Dove Global Self-Esteem Ambassador, this is a great resource for all women on starting a conversation in a simple way. Ask, Share, Listen and Act -- you’ll find unintimidating ways to do make these a natural part of your talk about Self-Esteem.

You can share your commitment to girls’ self-esteem with your friends on Facebook! Visit the Dove Facebook Page or use the Send a Note of Confidence Link to select your message and share with your friends. Also follow Dove on Twitter and use the hashtag #DoveInspired.

With so many simple ways to get involved, won't you do your part to help build strong self-esteem in our girls?

This article is sponsored by Dove. 
Shelly, Mom Files

What motherhood has taught me

My life changed forever when I became a mom. From the moment I heard the cries of my firstborn child, I felt differently inside. I instantly became very protective. I felt fear, anxiety, happiness, sadness and so many other emotions all at once. I knew from that day that my life was never going to be the same. Of course this feeling repeated itself 2 more times. I went through days that I wondered what to do about certain changes my kids were going through. Am I doing enough? So many times I just had to figure it out, even try different techniques. I have made many mistakes along the way. At the same time I have made many strides in my mommy role. I have gained a great bond with each child. My children show me daily how much love, respect and appreciation they have for me.  They have shown me how much my hard work as a mom has paid off through their actions, personalities and more importantly through their hearts. I have learned how important unconditional love is and showing my children how important they are. I embrace how different each child is and praise them for it. I want to make sure my kids all have a memorable childhood. It took me almost the duration of my years as a mom to know that I am doing enough. I am more than enough.

The best advice I ever got about being a mother came from one of the greatest and most inspirational women that ever walked the earth, the late Mrs. Emma Stevenson. She told me that the most important thing you can ever do as a mother is to talk to you kids. Even if you are not sure they are mature enough to understand, you still talk to them. You give them all the knowledge you can about every subject. Teach them before their peers or others get to them. To this day, those words carry on in my actions as a mother. It is truly the most valuable thing I have ever learned.

I want to wish all my mom friends and family a very Happy Mother's Day. Celebrate your great contribution to the world... being a GREAT Mom! xoxo

Shelly, Mom Files

It's always the little things

Time flies when you have children. They truly do grow up fast. As a mom, I try to do my best to make sure they feel special every day. With my daughters being teenagers it seems like quite a challenge sometimes. The good thing is they appreciate the littlest things. I love doing something unexpected for them when they get home from a long day at school. Many times I have purchased their favorite candy and left it on their bed so it is the first thing they see when they walk into their room. I stand at the top of the staircase to listen to their reaction. It's amazing how excited a teenage girl can get over some candy that cost me 2 bucks! Then having them run up the stairs to grab a big hug and thank me is the best feeling in the world. It makes my heart full to know that they are so grateful for the small gestures done out of love.

The other day I made this Creamy Oreo Pie for the girls. It was intended to be the dessert for a mom party I hosted in our home. I realized that all the moms might not want this sort of dessert and I asked the girls for other suggestions. You should have seen the look of sadness in their faces. Well obviously I still made the pie and I also made an additional dessert as well. I only had a few Oreos left to garnish the finished pie with and I plopped a few dollops of COOL WHIP on as well. I looked at it and thought that it looked a bit sloppy. You see, dolloping is not my talent. I just get it on there the best way I can! Of course the girls thought it was absolute perfection. My guests felt the same way too. It just goes to show that it does not take a whole lot to make your loved ones feel special. 

Be sure to visit the COOL WHIP Facebook page to share your own ways on the little things you do to make your family feel extra special. While you are there, be sure to check out all the great recipes and download a coupon (while supplies last). 

I am working in partnership with the COOL WHIP brand and I am receiving compensation for my participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are 100% my own.  

Shelly, Mom Files

And it hit me...

I was just blow-drying my hair when I glanced over at the burgundy velvet box that was sitting on the dresser. Inside the box are the most gorgeous gold hoop earrings my husband bought for me as an anniversary gift. I love them so much that I decided I would only wear them for special occasions and if I am not wearing them, they would be tucked safely away in the box. Then I thought to myself...wait... why am I not wearing them right now? Last time I checked, EVERY day is a special occasion! I decided that I will wear the earrings as often as I want and enjoy them fully! What good do they do me if they are sitting in the jewelry box? I challenge everyone to eat your weekday dinner on that fine china that sits up on a high shelf. Grab those crystal goblets and drink Kool-aid out of them! Forget the holidays, silverware can be everyday ware! Why keep the special stuff locked up when we can be enjoying them NOW!

Shelly, Mom Files

18 years!

This weekend Dwayne and I will be celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary. We have big plans and are both excited to share this time together. It still amazes us both how long we have been together, 22 years in all. Regardless of whatever life has thrown our way, we hung in there. We have seen each other through the darkest of times and have celebrated the the greatest moments of our lives-- together.
I appreciate and cherish our relationship and can't wait to see what the future holds for us *ahem* I am thinking luxury cruise?! ;-)
Shelly, Mom Files
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