The Life of (A) Dad at Mom2.0Summit

May 12, 2013
Photo Credit: Life of Dad 

My blog has been so serious lately, I thought I would update some of my more pleasurable life events.  

If someone had told me that I was going to make some of my favorite new blogging friends at Mom2.0Summit and they were gonna be a group of dudes, I wouldn’t have believed them.  I unofficially met them in the HLN Raising America with Kyra Phillips Shark Tank auditions.  People still don’t believe me that a group of grown men sang the theme song to the Little Mermaid, all while dancing around the room and climbing on chairs.  I would soon learn that was a pretty typical day for The Life of Dad blogger, Tommy Riles.  He is in charge of getting the crowd involved at the Ellen DeGeneres show.  I only wish I had been smart enough to bust out my phone to video it.  If any of my readers did video the show, I would love to have the link and I think the boys would too!  

Photo Credit: Raising America
If getting up in front of a room full of people and pitching a story wasn’t nerve wrecking enough, just imagine doing it in front of a table of the Raising America host Kyra Phillips, a few executives, and their social media maven.  Sounds like fun huh? Now just picture that, and knowing your going to follow a group of some of the funniest men you have ever met.  They very deservingly got all green lights and a room full of applause.  I just sat in my seating praying I wasn’t the person to follow them, who would want to follow that?  Did I mention I had never pitched anything television related? 

 Thankfully, I wasn’t called next but my new friend Dr. Ann Corwin from Pocket Full of Feelings was.  I said a little prayer for her.  She runs a fantastic blog about teaching children how to deal with their feelings.  Ann also gave me some incredible advice about how to help my son to deal with the transitions of my husband popping in and out of our lives.  I love her “daddy box” idea which I am going to share later.  Ann ended up getting green lights too, and I look forward to seeing all of us on Raising America (yeah, you read that right!  I got green lights too but that is another blog post).  

I bumped into Patrick Quinn from Life of Dad when we went back for our second interviews.  We were waiting in line together.  I made sure to tell him that I would never be able to watch the Little Mermaid again without thinking of them.  If you want to know more about Patrick’s personality you should read this blog post about pranking his parents.  He must have gotten his sense of humor very honestly, because his mother’s payback prank is almost as funny.  

I didn’t personally meet Tommy until we were both standing trying to get feedback from

Photo Credit: Jessica Urgelles

Rena Popp the executive producer at HLN’s Raising America with Kyra Phillips.  She was the one person on the panel that had given me a red light and I wanted to get constructive criticism.  Some of the participants were calling her the Simon Cowell of the Shark Tank.  I found she was just bluntly honest, and I could understand her original hesitation with putting me on air.  When Tommy walked over, I wanted to walk off.  I wanted to have a serious conversation and I hoped to win her over.  I didn’t want to compete with him.  I realize now that I was laughing so hard at him, it was hard for me to be nervous.  It was even funnier to hear Rena tell him he needed to turn it down a notch, and I needed to turn mine up.  Tommy suggested he could interview me and I said a quick prayer hoping that would never happen.  I can’t help but chuckle around those guys, I certainly couldn’t keep a straight face on camera.  

Rena had other cocktail party attendees to talk to and I just needed a glass of wine after that day.  My friend Jen Lovallo and I joined a group chatting on the patio, and like everyone else was drawn to the antics of The Life of Dad guys.  Did I mention I was wearing a very large flower and peacock feather veiled fascinator?  Kentucky Derby hats are very much like my southern accent, they make for good conversation starters.  We were about to join the Lowe’s Whirlpool Kentucky Derby Party to end the weekend.  The boys were feeling left out that they didn’t have cute hats, so they decided to make one.  How do you make a Kentucky Derby hat?  Well if your Tommy or Patrick, you grab the nearest folder, box, wrapping tape, and a marker.  Tommy ended up closely resembling an elf and well Patrick just looked like he skipped his meds.  They both decided they needed a little further adornment, so they snagged a rose or two from the hotel lobby.  

Photo Credit: Jessica Urgelles 
I’m not sure I have laughed that hard in a very long time.  I couldn’t imagine being the spouse or child of Tommy or Patrick.  I bet they have some very interesting days but at least their homes are full of laughter.  Hopefully, it won’t be the last time I see Tommy or Patrick.  I can’t wait to see how HLN Raising America fits them into their program. (I will take back what I said about never letting Patrick interview me, who could be nervous when your laughing at him?!) If you get a chance stop by their blog, they are an amazing group of dads and have lots of laughs to share.  I’m glad to have made some interesting new friends and a favorite blog read.  

I’m going to take the opportunity to call the guys out.  I still haven’t heard that you signed up to be Champions with the Shot@Life global pediatric vaccine access campaign?  We need you on our team, so you can help advocate for life saving vaccine access in the countries where it is needed the most.  You have a unique voice which could inspire others to get involved.  I hope all the Life of Dad bloggers will be encouraged to join us.  

Happy Mothers Day to all the Mr. Moms,

Finding Your Voice: Advocacy Starts With Advocating for Yourself

May 7, 2013

I’m not sure why I have always found it easier to stand up for others than to stand up for myself.  I have often sat aimlessly around while others bullied, lied, and hurt me.  I would forgive them time and time again.  When it came to my standing up for my friends or others, I always reacted very differently.  It was much easier to be firm and focused.  It took me a very long time to realize that if I didn’t stand up for myself, how could I stand up for anyone else?  The last few months I have advocated for global pediatric vaccine access, domestic violence victim provisions, military mental health legislation, and third world mothers.  Who was advocating for the military spouse or the military child?  Who advocated to the “psuedo” single mom?  In reality, who was advocating for me?

People can call me a “whistle blower”. They can scold me for airing my dirty laundry.  I am just tired of the ugly protecting the ugly.  I don’t need to make up stories, or pretend that I am something I am not.  When I talk to someone about the safety of vaccines, I always have my scientific research to backup my claims.  You might need to show me some scientific evidence to validate your claims or read my research to validate mine.  I don’t operate on propaganda.  I don’t need to lie because the truth always comes out in the wash. If you want to make me out to be a liar, you had better make sure I can’t make one out of you first.

This is a good piece of advice anyone.  If you have a bad dog that is roaming the neighborhood creating havoc, you might want to put it on a leash before someone calls the pound.  One bad dog can take down a house, especially when it bites someone who isn’t afraid to bite back.  I can easily point out the bad dog, the bad owner, the bad house, and the bad community.  I have a voice that people respond to and I am not afraid to use it, especially against a fear biting dog.  I always make sure my hands are clean before I point fingers, you should make sure your hands are clean too!

Just a little update..

March 27, 2013

If I seem like I cut back on posting, I have.  It wasn’t on purpose, I am trying to move my blog over to wordpress.   I also started writing over on Ask Miss A a fashion and charity e-magazine.  I will be covering Philanthropy and Charity news. Please take a second and stop by over there, lots of neat articles!

I also learned that I get to attend the Mom 2.0 Summit and I am totally excited.  Last week at our club meeting I managed to convince the Bluegrass Junior Woman’s Club ladies to take a shot to be sent to the Global Vaccine Summit.

I registered for my first full marathon today, the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, VA and I registered through the Runners World Challenge because totally failed during regular registration.  I am also in the the midst of redoing my photography website and getting it transferred.

This momma has a little boy to bath and get to bed.

Happy Wednesday,

Self-fulfilling prophecy…

February 17, 2013

How many times have you believed the worst in people or a situation, long before you know enough to make an educated decision?  I am guilty.. guilty.. guilty!  We often develop preconceived notions about people and their intentions.  We can use the theory of self-fulfilling prophecies to our advantage but often they are detrimental to us.  

Self-fulfilling prophecies are known as the Pygmalion effect.  Paul Watzlawick, an Austrian born psychologist and philosopher said, “A self-fulfilling prophecy is an assumption or prediction that, purely as a result of having been made, cause the expected or predicted event to occur and thus confirms its own ‘accuracy.'”  It is the theory that we can sabotage or improve a situation by either negative or positive thoughts about it.  

I wish I could be a perpetual optimist but unfortunately my life experiences have taught me otherwise.  I hate being pessimistic, but it can be devastating to be let down.  I have had people who I put faith in, hurt me and shatter my confidence in others. In reality I know I have (often unintentionally) done the same.  I always expect patience and understand for myself, when I am not always willing to give it freely to someone else.  

“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
~General Colin Powell

I challenge you to be more optimistic about the world around you.  Our children are taught by example.  We can’t steal the hope from their eyes.  We need to be kind, loving, hopeful, and most of all optimistic.   We need them to know they can fail with grace but they can succeed with determination.  

I will use myself as an example.  I am happy to point out that I grew up in a very rural part of southeastern Kentucky.  I am proud of where I came from.  Life isn’t always easy growing up in the foothills of the mountains.  The entire World has a preconceived notion about Kentucky and especially rural Kentucky.  I hate the stereotype that we are all barefoot and pregnant at sixteen.  This stereotype is only compounded by my thick southern accent.  

Someone once asked me, “Aren’t you afraid they will make fun of you?”.   I figured out how to use my accent to my advantage.  It is a conversation starter.  I once spent a large chunk of an evening volunteering at the KET gala entertaining then football coach Rich Brooks and his friends with my accent.  I like proving that just because, “I talk slow, doesn’t mean I am stupid.”  

Instead of walking into a room or speaking with hesitation, I speak with great confidence.  I am determined to undermine the stereotype that hinders many in Kentucky.  I am using a self-fulfilling prophecy to aid instead of hindering myself.  

We shouldn’t lower our expectations of others just out of the shear fear of disappointment.  We should aspire them to greatness with our expectations.  

Happy Spectacular Sunday,

Tomorrow I can save the world, today I’ll just be a silly girl..

February 2, 2013

So after the initial excitement of being chosen as one of the GFWC ambassadors for the Shot@Life program began to wear off (well…. enough so that I could focus on something else), I started to plan (and panic) about what to wear.  I know it is totally vain and silly, but there is a fine line between professional and frumpy.  We all know a “belle” should never be frumpy and always abide by
this rule.

Never leave the house in sweats.  A girl must be prepared to meet a dashing stranger or an old enemy

And I know my luck, the one time my hair is in a ponytail with no makeup, I’ll bump into the one person I didn’t want to see me (but that is for another rant).  It isn’t being ridiculous, it is an ugly fact about society.  We highly value appearances.  One of my college organic chemistry professors didn’t shave and rarely cleaned under her finger nails (this was a problem because she was an avid gardener).  I refused to ever take her seriously because of her lack of personal hygiene.  I will also never forget her either (and that isn’t a good thing because I can’t remember anything she taught me).  I also work better and feel better, when I am “put together” as they say.  I can put on my Burberry scarf, along with a coat of lipstick and mascara, and I am ready to take on the world!

My Southern roots go much deeper than my accent (or my haircolor).  I like dresses, heels, and pearls of course!  I reluctantly asked about the dress code for Summit, thankfully she reassured me I wasn’t the first to ask.  She told me business casual, which stirred a new debate about what exactly business casual meant among some of the girls.  It didn’t matter to me, I knew I would wear dresses, heels, and hosiery. I will publicly admit I have a new obsession with patterned hosiery (that my husband feels looks trashy no matter the brand or pattern).  I think patterned hose are trendy and stylish, but I wasn’t sure if they were appropriate for Capitol Hill.  I am also guilty of being one of those people that if they don’t know the answer, they google it.  Yes, I googled if patterned hosiery was appropriate business wear… please don’t judge me 😉  I stumbled across a new wonderful blog in the process.

Capitol Hill Style (She has some wonderful fashion advice for all budgets and nice tips on hosiery!)

So I’m more than a week out from leaving for Washington D.C., and my suitcase is packed (it was actually packed yesterday but I was waiting on UPS to deliver my Cole Haan Nike Air heels today).  My jewelry is packed in baggies by outfit/day.  I will need to put my makeup and hair tools into my bag that morning, but I am prepared (at least physically).

Mentally, I am fussing at myself for being neurotic about my clothes instead of focusing on the task at hand.  The next week I am going to devote to brainstorming so I have thoughts and ideas to share during training.  I am also trying to meet all my new “teammates” because over the next year we have to work as a team to help advocate for Shot@Life.  I am guilty of browsing everyone’s facebook page, so I can get a feel for who they are (feel free to browse mine back) .  I also also interested in finding out about how everyone got involved in advocacy.  We all seem to have a story to share.  A special shout out to Myrdin for putting up with all my questions and pestering.. Also if you don’t like cameras or having your picture taken, I’m probably not the person to hang out with but I am sure if you browsed my facebook page you will realize that.

5 Facts you should probably know about me:
1. I have a THICK southern accent, if you don’t understand something I said, just ask me to repeat it I      won’t be offended.

2.  My brother was murdered a few years ago.   I don’t mind talking about it, but it seems to startle others when I first tell them.

3.  I don’t mind voicing my opinion but I also pride myself in respecting the opinions of others.

4.  My son just turned 3 and we have never slept in separate rooms, and certainly never spent the night apart.  My first time away will be in D.C., I might be a tad neurotic.

5. Always smile around me, you never know when I might be snapping a photo and you might end up in the frame!

I am so excited about meeting everyone!  Congrats again and Good luck!  See all of you in D.C.


Starting over…

January 15, 2013

The past few years for me have been plagued by distrust and heartache.  On December 15, 1981 I became the loving older sister to a blue eyed brother that would be my playmate, friend, and adoring younger brother.  We were “irish twins” just barely 14 months apart in age.  We didn’t always get along and rarely agreed on much, but we loved and defended each other.  On May 25, 2009 my world stopped for a second.  There was a crack in the universe that could never be mended.  I lost my brother to a cruel villain.  He was murdered by my stepfather following a domestic violence altercation with my mother.  I never knew what true pain was until that moment.  People always ask why I run so much… I have the simplest answer.  When you have felt real emotional pain, physical pain becomes nothing.  There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t miss his voice or his laughter.  The middle of the night phone calls as a prank.  The fighting and the hugs.. I can tell you where I was sitting and who I was talking to the very last time I heard his voice.  I dedicate my life to him, Brandon Michael Peace.  The life that was cut short and taken from us by real evil.

For every night there is a morning.. and from the darkness you can see new light.  
It took me a while to see any good in the world after Brandon’s death.  I saw anger, hate, and rage for many months.  I was mad at God and mad at the World.   I eventually realized I had friends that would never fail me.  I saw kindness from complete strangers.  I received an outpouring of support and love.  His tragic death made me really want to live my life and appreciate it.  Brandon’s death taught me to never take a second for granted, lives are lost in the blink of an eye.  I wanted to turn tragedy into triumph, so I have devoted myself to charity and helping others.  Brandon lives on through the people that loved him.  I like to think he is always watching over me, helping guide my path.  I cherish every moment I spent with him and I am grateful I got to be his big sister.  
DECEMBER 15, 1981-MAY 25, 2009

The road less traveled..

January 14, 2013

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.
1. The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;        
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,        
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.        
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I think if you were to sum up my life, I think that The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost would describe me best. It seems that following everyone else has only led me to trouble. I have occasionally made the wrong turn, but it all led me to where I am now. I am happy with this life. After all we are only given one life and we have to make the best of it. In my situation, I live my life for 2 people (well really 3 if you count my son). My beloved brother Brandon Michael Peace was taken from us too soon (but that is for another post). I try to live every day like it could be my last. I love to travel and see the world. I find beauty in small things and I love helping others. I may not die famous but I want my family to be proud of the life I lived no matter how long or short it may be. I think people fail to realize how the small things can add up to be big things. We should take chances, smile more, laugh often, and enjoy the beauty in nature. You should never miss an opportunity to tell someone how you feel about them because you might not get that opportunity again. I am working on being more optimistic and less afraid. Remember only you can choose your road and eventually you will walk it alone….