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!

Taking a Second to Just Breathe…

April 25, 2013

It seems like lately life has just been completely chaotic for me.  There is always so much going on.  I feel like I have to balance my time being a full time “single” parent, and trying to sneak in a few minutes to myself.  I say single parent because when your husband has been gone with the Army for 2.5 years, I became a single parent by default.  Right now,  I know I should be asleep but instead I am writing trying to clear my head.

Gabe had soccer pictures and a soccer game on Saturday.  I seriously thought I might cry.  It was his first official sports team photo.  He is growing up too fast.  I also caught him blowing his babysitter a kiss goodbye tonight.  I am pretty sure he has a crush on Miss Morgan.  I took Escobar to the dog park, and he was just a big ball of energy.  I also discovered Aldi grocery store over the weekend.  My life seems rather monotonous.

Today was especially difficult.  Gabe has been acting out lately.  He realizes his fathers absence and he struggles.  He barely knows either of his grandfathers.  My husbands brother lives in Florida and he has seen Gabe two times since he was born.  My brother Brandon is probably always watching over us from up above and there is Stanton who has been trying to get his own life together.  Gabe has no real relationships with men.  He hangs with my girlfriends and myself.  He attends childcare at the YMCA while I run and workout, but even those caregivers are all female.  When Gabe has basketball at the Kentucky Basketball Academy, he will do anything to get and keep his coaches attention.  He wants to be a little boy with a man to play with him.  I played basketball in high school, but I don’t want to be the only one teaching him to dribble or shoot a basket.  I watched as all the other dads interacted with their children and I couldn’t help be heartbroken for Gabe.  He deserved to have a male role model months ago, and her certainly shouldn’t have to wait months more for his dad to return.  I have similar experiences with soccer. I didn’t even have the option to play soccer growing up.

There is nothing quite as delightful as a 32 year man who has never even gotten up during the night to feed their child saying he is too young to remember all this.  Every time he says that I want to shake him (him as in Gabes father not Gabe) and say what do you know about parenting.  I interact with our son every day and I watch him struggle to interact with men.  He has attention seeking behaviors.  I rightfully worry that these last few years will gravely alter his personality.  I have half given up trying to convince my husband of anything relating to Gabes behavior, admitting I am right would mean he knows he needs to come home

My husband and I are so different.  There is no job that would keep me away from my son for months on end (or my spouse).  I guess this a huge sore spot for us.  I just wish I felt like he loved his family as much as he loved the Army.  I’m sure I’m not the only military spouse who has felt this way.

This is enough of a vent for my blog and the day.  I really need to sleep.  I get to drive to Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the Nike Women’s half marathon on Sunday.  There is nothing quite like a road trip with a 3 year old!

Happy Whining Wednesday!

Shot@Life and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs: A Shot at Sisterhood

April 24, 2013

Photo Credit: Carol Waters 

I first met Carol Waters through an email.  I learned I was selected as a Shot@Life Champion through
the General Federation of Women’s Clubs partnership program.  I knew that there were four of us selected and I wanted to know more about the other ladies.  Carol Waters, Emily White, Diane Glasgow, and myself were chosen to represent GFWC. What do you do when you don’t know anyone personally but what to get a feel for who they are?  Well if your me, you scope out their Facebook.

My first impression of Carol was she had a warm smile and she was a devoted member of her GFWC club.  Carol has been a member of a GFWC affiliated club since 1977.  She is a devoted wife to her husband Denny, and has two adult children.  I am sure she is a “mother” to many other children, as a pediatric nurse.  Carol is currently the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of New Hampshire President and has held several official positions with GFWC.  

Photo Credit: Carol Waters

Carol used her dedication to nursing and medicine to fuel her passion about the Shot@Life campaign.  She discovered Shot@Life through the GFWC International President Mary Ellen Lasiter and GFWC’s original Champion Nancy Jones.  Her work as a pediatric nurse had shown her the value of vaccinations in childhood health.  She strongly believes that no child or parent should have to suffer from a disease which could have been prevented with a vaccine.  Carol was quoted as saying, “Shot at Life makes babies healthy, and Mamas happy.”  She believes that one individual working toward a cause can make a difference by creating a ripple effect.  

Photo Credit: Carol Waters  The four  GFWC Shot@Life Champions Emily, Diane, Jessica, and Carol

Carol is looking forward to bringing Shot@Life to her club at both local and state levels.  She has distributed information through her personal Facebook and through the GFWCNH.  Carol had a letter to the editor published in her local paper regarding the Shot@Life campaign.  She will present Shot@Life on May 10 at the annual GFWCNH state meeting.  Carol is working on several other ideas for fundraising and advocacy.  

The General Federation of Women’s Clubs promote sisterhood through the program “sole sisters“.  GFWC values that our membership is as active as the sole of a shoe, but we are also vital to the soul of each other and our clubs.  We are taught to inspire, encourage, and value our GFWC sisters.  I am honored that Carol is not just my GFWC sister but my Shot@Life sister as well.  The Shot@Life campaign is part of our sole/soul.

Happy 1st Birthday to the Shot@Life campaign which is coincidentally Federation Day for the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.  On April 24, 1890 the General Federation of Women’s Clubs was founded.  I hope that many of my other GFWC sisters will help celebration the birthday of two amazing organizations that are dear to the heart of many.  

There are many ways you can participate in the #birthdaybash.  You can share the Global Mom Relay posts which will earn Shot@Life a $5 donation per day.  You can also follow the hashtags #birthdaybash and #getvax on twitter.  Shot@Life has partnered with several bloggers to share stories of other Champions which are being featured on many social media outlets including their Storify page.  

Happy Birthday Shot@Life 
Happy Federation Day General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Happy Wondrous Wednesday


Calipari the Bluegrass Bear: The New Urgelles Family Addition Thanks to Honda and 4moms

April 23, 2013
Special delivery from Honda

The stork didn’t make a special delivery today but the UPS man did!  Honda sent a new addition to our family and no it wasn’t a new car 😉  Honda and 4moms sent all the Mom 2.0 Summit attendees a very cute teddy bear.

He arrived in a blue confetti filled box, and I realized the only name befitting a Bluegrass Bear would be Calipari.  If you aren’t from the Bluegrass state (heck, you should know this even if you aren’t from Kentucky) our University of Kentucky basketball coach is John Calipari.

Calipari the Bluegrass Bear 

This household bleeds blue no matter what the season but we especially love basketball.
The University of Kentucky Wildcats and Coach Calipari are the 2012 NCAA National Basketball Champions.  Calipari even plans to join his big brother Gabe at the Kentucky Basketball Academy for Wednesdays game.  Our beloved Calipari was almost named Calapari thanks to the autocorrect on my phone wanting to continually change Calipari to Calamari (he is named after a basketball coach, not seafood).  The phone eventually went with Calapari hybrid.

My son is quite fascinated with Calipari and I am looking forward to posting about their mischievous endeavors.  I’m sure the two of them will be up to no good!  Welcome to the Bluegrass Calipari the Bear!

Calipari showing University of Kentucky football Coach Stoops some love while playing basketball

Happy Manic Monday!

Liebster Award: My First Blogging Award Nomination

April 11, 2013

So apparently people actually read my blog.. lol I was nominated for my first Liebster Award by Krista over at Rollin With the Fruit Punches.  Thanks for the nomination Kristin.  I hope everyone will head over and check her blog out. 

Liebster means dearest in German.  The Liebster award isn’t really a contest.  It is a way of lesser known bloggers to honor other less known bloggers.  The nominee will nominate 11 other bloggers, answer 11 random facts about themselves, answer 11 questions from their nominator, and create 11 questions for their nominees.  So here we go! 

11 Random Facts about Me
1. I love garden tomatoes and I could eat them like apples.
2. My son was named after the archangel Gabriel.
3.  I might complain alot but I love my life as an Army wife.
4. I do alot of charity work because I want to set an example for my son
5.  I am not always sure why anyone else is interested in reading what I write.
6. I started writing for Ask Miss A kinda by accident
7. I am not nearly as outgoing as people think I am.
8. I won the 4-H state forestry competition as a kid. 
9. I love my southern accent
10. I love all things Tory Burch
11. I hate cats, well strongly dislike hate is a strong word. 

11 Questions from Rollin With the Fruit Punches:

1. If you could have a super power for a day, what would it be?
If you knew how funny or appropriate this question is.  My good friends from the United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign all claim to have super heroine alter egos.  Mine is the Black Canary. 

2. What is your guilty pleasure song?
Anything Pitbull 😉

3. What would your plan of action be if there was a zombie apocalypse?
Go to the nearest cupcake store and die happy 😉

4. What is your favorite cartoon character?

5. What does your blog name mean?
I paid homage to my southern roots and Bluegrass Belle was born

6. What inspired you to start a blog?
I needed an outlet to vent after my brothers murder and to deal with life.

7. What is your favorite vacation spot?
Scrub Island, British Virgin Island

8. What was the last good book you read?

The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society by 

9. Mention one of your obsessive compulsive habits(like not stepping on cracks, or always taking the stairs two at a time, or never sitting with your back to the room or door.)

I always sleep facing the door.  

10. If you were give a million dollars to donate to a charity… which one would you choose and why?
The United Nations Foundation Shot@Life campaign to provide global vaccine access.  I am a champion and advocate for Shot@Life.  I believe every child deserves a shot at a healthy life.

11. Who was your childhood idol / hero?
Marilyn Monroe.  Who doesn’t want to be a busty blonde when your a little girl?

11 Blog Nominations:
1. Roots and Wings Library
2. A Dose of Jules
3. My Mommy Reads
4.Pastry to Pediatrics
5.Caudill Connection
6.Advocate Momma
7.Lesser Known Feats of Awesomeness
8.Emily Does Stuff
10.This Running Moms Life
11.What does She Do All Day

11 Questions for my Nominees:
1. What do you do for fun?
2.  What do you hate to read on the internet?
3.  Strangest comment anyone has left on a blog post or Facebook wall?
4.  Most embarrassing moment? 
5. Do you sing in the shower?
6. Do you have a charity you love?
7. Have you pledged your support for the Shot@Life campaign? 😉
8. What is your favorite Pet?
9. How many hours do you sleep at night?
10. How do you feel about cats?
11. What was the best day of your life?

My story: The Tale of the (not so silver) Spoon

April 7, 2013
Baby Jessica and a photo of my son and I

Other than the details of my brothers murder, I have refrained from painting anything other than the beautiful details of my life.  It hasn’t even been a highlight reel of the chaos and ugliness that I have witnessed.  I love my southern roots, but the reality is southern women are raised to hide their problems.  Cheating spouses, abusive husbands, and deadbeat dads are easily masked with a smile and a Sunday visit to the church pew.  We are raised to fix our bleeding mascara, slap on some lipstick, put on our big girl panties, and pretend to the world that everything is okay.  This might seem like the best option in a non-idealic situation but when it starts to eat away at you.  The grief, pain, heartache, and unhappiness will eventually start to consume who you are.  There is no amount of masking it.  It will twist and contort your soul, and sooner or later you will become your problems.  Little did I know, my pain began long before I was born.  I am not just a product of a broken home, a broken childhood, or a broken heart.  

If you have ever read my previous posts, you know my father comes from a coal mining family.  Coal miners can often be like the black coals they dig from the ground.  It shouldn’t diminish from who they are, but if you spent most of your life in the dark miles below the surface of the earth you would change too.  They can be cold, hard, and rough.  How many years does it take for a piece of coal to become a diamond? How many pieces of coal never make it that far?  Long before the change occurs they often crushed and burned by mankind.  Coal miners often endure a similar fate.

My father was a coal miners son.  He was desperate to overcome his circumstance.  Growing up in a coal mining camp can’t be easy.  I have heard in high school he walked miles or hitchhiked to football practice.  It is a reality for many children in southeastern Kentucky.  The ultimate struggle to overcome poverty and circumstance.  There are

My dad and Phil Simms in the Morehead yearbook

very few ways to get out, and for my father football was the only way out.  It might seem like an insurmountable feat, we weren’t from a region of incredible football teams or players. The public high school he attended was in a rural area that didn’t always have the best fields or equipment.  He made the best of circumstance.  He became a football “Kentucky Headhunter” and eventually earned a scholarship at Morehead State University.  If you aren’t from Kentucky and that team doesn’t sound familiar, my dad played on the same team as the future Super Bowl MVP Giants quarterback Phil Simms.  You would think his life would change drastically but did it? 

I think that this enough sharing for today.  I’ll continue my story tomorrow.  I am hoping my readers will slowly get a sense of who I really am and how I got here.  

Happy Solemn Sunday,