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Pretzels, Pepsi and Pee

Everyone needs a good laugh from time to time. It frees the spirit and detracts from finance woes and mounting laundry. And since all modesty flew out the window after delivering my first child, I’m not embarrassed to set aside my pride for others’ amusement.

In my list of personal confessions on the Flair Brained Facts page, I mentioned a story about Pretzels and Pepsi. I think now’s the time to share this little gem.

It’s important to know I have an experimental mind. Even when I was little, my mom would catch me taking things apart and then putting them back together again.

As I grew older, I never lost that curiosity. It just morphed into a bizarre flair for trying stuff that others would probably have the common sense to avoid. This is one such event. Prepare yourself for something stupidly awesome and totally Jessi.

I’d like to preface this by saying I was younger, okay, 27, but that’s still younger. I was pregnant with my second son at the time. Had I known how it would turn out, I wouldn’t have been quite so knocked up for this experiment.

Okay…so this is what happened. I was cruising to the babysitter’s house to drop of my first stooge, when I caught the tail-end of a blurb on the radio about there being some magic number of pretzels a person can consume (without taking a drink) before she couldn’t physically swallow anymore.

My first mistake was, I failed to remember what that number was or what size of pretzel. So anyhoo…later that day, I was home from work for a few hours (gotta love a split shift) and had nothing better to do. I was all alone with my three chihuahuas when the pretzel experiment came to mind.

I thought…in a moment of pure insanity…that maybe I should give it a go. I’m always up for a challenge. So I waddled to my kitchen, swiped one of the hubz’ Pepsis and grabbed a bag of pretzels.

I settled into my over-sized chair and started munching. Munch, count, munch, count. Imagine a round chick, in office attire, grubbin’ on some pretzels in a ludicrously giant chair, with three chihuahuas staring, heads cocked, waiting for Clutzo McPregerton to drop some goods.

So, by the time I hit pretzel 67, I realized that I’d far-surpassed said magic number, and then thought to myself, “Hmm…maybe they weren’t meaning the bite-sized Rolled Golds I was chompin’ down.”

With this epiphany bustin’ my mojo, in all it’s “Hey doofus, you’ve compromised the experiment” glory, partnered with the fact that I pretty much couldn’t physically swallow another bite, I decided it was time to abort the mission.

Mistake number two: While I love a deliciously frosty, sweet and refreshing Pepsi, if my throat is dangerously coated with chewed up pretzels it’s not smart to go for a carbonated beverage.

Caution: This is where the experiment really breaks bad. If you’re faint of heart, don’t keep reading.

I grab the Pepsi and pop the top.

I take a long, hard pull of that sweet nectar of the soda gods.

I realize instantaneously, but a touch too late, that chewed up pretzels paired with carbonated soda, served up in a bone-dry esophagus, equals a serious choking hazard.

So there I am, choking on pretzel-Pepsi paste and my only rescue support comes from a trio of drooling toy dogs, which by the way seemed to be laughing and calling me a dumbass by now. I think I may have even seen them exchange a few bucks in some sort of back-alley wager.

Thankfully, I was able to cough (and gag) up the concoction before passing out, but the mercy was not without consequence.

I’m here to tell ya, folks, in a life-saving effort to cough up a ball of goo, you very well run the risk of spontaneous urination.

That’s right, kids, I peed myself. Hardcore. In my giant chair. In my work clothes. With Chihuahuas as spectators.

I had just enough time to scrub the chair, shower and redress myself before heading back to the office.

What I learned from this experiment, because honestly, there probably will be a second trial (this girl’s no quitter):

  • Conduct the experiment in the bathtub
  • Choose water
  • Without pants on (choose audience accordingly)
  • Have a human spotter
  • For everyone’s safety and a better chance at bladder control, don’t do this while pregnant

That is all.

Photo: flickr.com/photos/anaulin/1778051036/


Lindsay’s Story

I’m so pleased to present to you another “Mama’s Story” Wednesday.  This post is from my bloggy bestie, Lindsay, of A New Breed of Mom. She’s a total sweetheart, super supportive, so funny, completely genuine and we have a ton in common. I’d go into it more, but she tells it better than I do. Thank you so much, Ms. Lindsay, for sharing with us.

Just a Mom…Seeking to Encourage and Inspire Other Moms to Dream Big

My name is Lindsay Williams and I am the woman behind A New Breed of Mom. I am a ‘has been’ single mom who’s always been a working mom, a wanna-be stay-at-home mom, learning to be a step-mom, new breed of mom. I am also a wife, daughter, sister, and friend. Three short months ago, out of a desire to transform my own life and live out the life of my dreams, A New Breed of Mom was born.

A New Breed of Mom is a collection of articles, anecdotes, and advice meant to encourage and inspire modern day moms like me. We want to do it all! There are a variety of other roles we play in life besides being a mom. So how do we juggle it all? How can we be everything to everyone and still find time for ourselves?

I am still searching for the answer to that question.

Only, now I am searching for the answer to that question while also being a part of a community of strong, independent, and determined women – moms who blog. That is how I met Jessi. She was the first bloggy mommy friend I made out there in the blogosphere. Actually, our friendship pre-dates Mama’s Got Flair.

What I love most about Jessi is that she is authentic. She’s not putting on an act to draw readers to her blog. Her posts, about women’s issues, are entrenched with her great sense of humor and her unbiased opinions. Jessi’s goals in life are very similar to mine.

My five year plan includes writing and publishing a book, launching my life coaching program, and creating enough revenue from these endeavors to become an official WAHM – work-at-home-mom. The book will, of course, be titled A New Breed of Mom: Motherhood for the New Millennium. Although, I’m only in the very beginning stages of a very rough draft of the book proposal, I do know exactly what I want the book to be. It will be a book to encourage and inspire other mothers to step out of their comfort zones and start living the life of their dreams.

The Life Coaching Program I have been working on has made it a little further into the realm of possibility than the book has at this point. A Life Coach is a cross between a cheerleader, a spiritual leader, and a therapist. But, life coaching is NOT therapy. The Life Coaching Program that I am working on (and will hopefully be launching in the next couple of weeks) is called The Transforming My Life Project. The 90-day program involves a process of guided self-discovery aimed at mothers who are ready to start living their lives by design.

Currently, I am in the process of transforming my own life. The short story is that I had my son when I was twenty. I was not married, I was uneducated, and I was in a bad relationship. My son deserved better. I finished college, graduating with a Bachelors of Art Degree in Psychology and went on to get my Masters Degree in Social Work. I found my way out of that unhealthy relationship. Then after six years as a single mother, I met the love of my life and was married last August. Our one year anniversary is August 22nd.

The day I became John’s wife, I also became Khegan’s stepmother – for better or worse, til death do us part. Becoming a stepmother has been a challenge for me, and not for the reasons that most people think. Whenever I commit to something, I do it wholeheartedly. I doubted that I could ever love Khegan like I love Riley, but I was going to treat them just the same. To my surprise, I fell in love with that little boy and can honestly say I love him like my own. However, it has taken a lot of soul-searching and patience to form a positive relationship with Khegan’s mother. It’s been touch and go, but we are slowly starting to develop into, what I like to call, one big modern family.

Our first year of marriage has had other challenges as well. To my dismay, I did not immediately get pregnant after our wedding. I am still not pregnant. Secondary infertility has been a big hurdle for us to overcome this last year. After about 6 months of trying to conceive, I was getting pretty down on myself. Since the time I was 20, and committed to my beautiful, little, blonde-haired baby boy that I’d make something out of myself, I have always been working towards one goal or another. And I’m not talking about little goals – I’m talking about big, giant-sized goals. College. Grad School. My own place. A promotion. Finding love.

A side-note here about finding love… I had a list. A list of qualities I wanted in a man. A list of qualities that I didn’t think existed in one human being. My mom always had faith for me. She had faith that God would bring that man to me. I had hope, but not faith. When I finally started believing, truly believing, that someone was out there for me and I just had to find him – I found him. Almost immediately. It just took me six years to wise up and believe in myself.

But I digress.

Goals. I had always had giant size goals, and now, after the wedding was over, and the planned pregnancy did not happen, I had nothing – no next big thing. I needed a next big thing. I was a touch depressed, in all honesty. So I decided to start focusing on something I had wanted to do my whole life – write a book.

In the past I had never had any good book ideas, but about nine months ago, as I was starting to slip into depression, it occurred to me that I was a new breed of mom. It occurred to me that moms today are different than ever before in history. And with that thought, things began to flow. We have the power to dream big. We ask. We believe. We achieve. I decided that I was going to share this knowledge with other women. However, since I couldn’t just run out a write a book and expect a publisher to buy it, I had to have a platform. For that reason, I started my blog.

That brings us full circle. My life’s purpose is to encourage and inspire other mothers to Dream Big.

Motherhood is a journey. Life is a journey. We can groan and complain and resist and fight against life’s indignities. Or, we can start changing our thinking. We can start re-framing our thoughts. We can start living our life by design.

If you would like to share your story on a Mama’s Story Wednesday, please contact me at mamasgotflair at gmail dot com. ~Jessi

10 Minute Breaks for Mom’s Sanity

Life has a way of stressing us out. Family, work, a bad driver cutting you off, tomatoes that need to be picked…it all adds up. A gal needs a way to quickly unwind and put a halt to an on-coming bad mood from time to time.

You know when Ugly Mom is about to strike. You can feel your blood pressure rising. Your palms are starting to sweat. The tension in your muscles is starting make you crazy.

You need a time out. Period.

Carve out a ten minute “you” break to get a grip, so your family won’t suffer and you won’t add another gray hair to your bodacious quaff.

Here are some ideas…

  • Go to your room, young lady. Keep a funny or tranquil CD in your radio and lay on your bed for a few minutes. Stop thinking about what’s making you upset and just listen.
  • Phone a friend. Give your pal a call and ask how her day was. If it was awful, help her to feel better. Helping others makes you feel good. If she had an awesome day, laugh and ask her secret to success.
  • Stimulate your noodle. Pull out a book or magazine and drink in a chapter or article. If you’re into crosswards or the dreaded sudoku, work on a puzzle.
  • Jam out. Throw in Poison’s Greatest Hits and get crazy. Burning off some of the negative energy can make a huge difference in your mood. Plus, being silly always brings a smile to a girl’s face.
  • Get your calm on. Take a minute to meditate. Clear your head and start over.
  • Stretch your stems. A walk will work wonders for ya, especially if it’s to an ice cream shop. What? I’m just sayin’.
  • Crunch something. Munching on something crunchy like celery or carrots will relieve stress. Try it, I triple dog dare ya.
  • Chant some gratitude. Step away from the situation and tell yourself, over and over, “I’m blessed to have…” or “I’m so lucky, because…”
  • Smooch away stress. Assuming that you’re not steaming mad at your partner, pull him (or her) aside and lay one on him. I’m not talking G-Rated either. When was the last time you made out? Walk away without saying a word. If you don’t feel empowered, I’ll eat my underwear. Okay, so maybe not, but you’ll feel empowered, trust me.

If you can tell you’re on the verge of freaking out, whether that’s yelling, crying or having a full-on mom tantrum (Hey, I’m guilty, too.), you need to step away from the situation. Reclaim your cool and everyone will be better for it. If all this doesn’t work…rant at me on twitter (@JessAriasCooper)…I guarantee I can cure what ails ya, or at least make you laugh about it.

Btw…I know the picture doesn’t make sense, but when I saw it, it just felt right. Photo by: flickr.com/photos/jemstone/21157046/

Coupon Mountain Nike Gift Card Giveaway

Hey, mamas (and, heck, even papas)!

When was the last time you bought yourself some name-brand sneakers? Are you stressed about finding the cash to buy your kids 10 bajillion pairs of back-to-school shoes?

Do yourself a favor and hop over to Coupon Mountain and enter to win $50 worth of gift certificates to the Nike Store. Entering is as easy as the spending will be!

You better hurry! The contest ends at midnight on August 16th!

Good luck and enjoy!!


Nikki’s Story

On Wednesdays, I’ll be posting insightful, inspirational true stories from women who are working on reclaiming their identities and finding themselves again. Today’s post is from a lovely lady named Nikki, who inspired me to start these guest posts. I thank her for her courage in sharing her story. It wasn’t easy for her, but I know everyone can take something valuable away from what she has to say. And by the way, all of the photos included are from her personal collection…

When Jessi first asked me to write a guest blog, my first thought was how flattered I was. Then came the feelings of nervousness and self-doubt. The same old tapes running through my head that have been there for years. You know the ones. “What could I possibly have to say that people will want to hear?” and “Do I really want to share my failures with the public, so they can see what a mess I am?” Then I came back to the difficult lessons I have learned over the past several years. I need to share my imperfections. I need to be real with myself and others. If I don’t, then what I have gone through meant nothing.

My name is Nikki and I am a photographer. Those words don’t come easily. For almost 20 years, I identified myself as a stay-at-home mom, wife and home-schooler. It was much more than that, though. I was also the housekeeper, cook, gardener, accountant…you name it, I did it. Not only did I do it, I had to be good at it. Identifying myself as a photographer somehow means I didn’t do the other things as well as I should’ve. I now have to be someone else, when in actuality, that person was there all along and should’ve been allowed out sooner.

I don’t blame anyone for the feeling of having to do it all. My husband wasn’t cruel or abusive in any way; he was just busy. I knew if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t happen, or, at least, that’s how I felt. If he helped with the dishes or vacuuming I thanked him, because, somehow, those were my jobs. He had enough on his plate and how difficult is managing a household anyway? I had read all of the books on moms needing to find time for themselves, but rarely did it myself. I used the excuse of being an introvert; I’d rather just be at home. While true, what I didn’t realize is what I needed was time on my own. I needed to feed my own soul, so I would be better able to feed the soul of my family.

By the middle of 2006, I knew I was beginning to fall apart. I couldn’t focus, the kids schooling was deteriorating. All I could think of was, “How do I get out?” I just wanted to run, to escape. I was extremely angry, mostly at my husband. I felt myself blaming him for not being around and “making” me be everything for him and the kids. I no longer wanted him around.

I look back now and think I had a breakdown, although I didn’t know it at the time. In March of 2007, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I had to either leave or I was going to die. So I left. It was like I was walking through a dream. I don’t remember much of it. What I do remember is being able to breathe. I no longer felt like I was drowning. Once I left, I realized I couldn’t go back. It wasn’t my husband I was leaving; it was the way I was when I was with him. I had found myself again and I couldn’t risk ending up in the same position.

It’s been over three years since that day. Yes, I have regrets, mostly involving my kids. I came from a divorced family and never wanted my kids to go through that. I knew what leaving would mean though, and I chose that path. For me, it was a choice between that and no one ever seeing me again.

During that time photography became a savior to me. I picked up a camera and the world disappeared. I was free to explore and discover a world I had never seen before – the one through a lens. I was learning, making mistakes and creating. I felt like I had found myself again. Not only did it make me happy, but others seemed to get enjoyment out of my photographs as well. I wish more than anything that I had found it years ago. I honestly believe it could have made a big difference in how I dealt with my life. Shooting gives me the time I need to recoup and reenergize, to just be with me.

So here we are today. I’ve survived. I’m happy. I’m not perfect. My apartment is a mess a lot of the time. My kids are great, but definitely make mistakes. I eat too much. I yell at the guy I love (and he doesn’t leave and neither do I). I allow myself to feel; to not only be happy, but angry, stressed and frustrated. Trying to do and be it all for everyone around me didn’t work and can’t work. No one is perfect, but I tried to live like I was for most of my life.

There are some very important lessons I’ve learned and am still learning from the mistakes I made. I’m putting them here hoping it will help some of you, so you don’t have to go through what I did.

  • Be real. This doesn’t mean baring your soul to anyone that asks how you are day is, but don’t be afraid to show that you mess up
  • Talk to friends. Find someone you can cry with, laugh with, and scream at
  • Don’t do it all. The world will not collapse if the dishes aren’t washed and beds aren’t made. Relax
  • Find a hobby. Something you enjoy. Not something for your kids or husband. Just you
  • Take breaks without feeling guilty. Go out for a night on your own. Get your nails done. Have a coffee. Go to the library without the kids and read a book in silence
  • Be honest with your husband/partner. Don’t feel like you have to shoulder it all on your own. Tell him when it gets to be too much. You are a team – make sure to remember that

Thanks so much, Jessi, for allowing me to take up space on your blog. If any of you would like to know more or just need someone to talk to, feel free to email me at nicoleraephotos(at)gmail(dot)com.”

To read more from Nikki, thank her for sharing or see more of her breath-taking photography, drop by her blog, Nicole Rae.

More photos from Nikki’s portfolio:

Winds of Change

In my last post, I outlined the new direction of Mama’s Got Flair:

Do you feel you’ve lost touch with your identity since becoming a wife and mother? Mama’s Got Flair is a haven for mamas who want to rediscover themselves, their dreams and personal goals. There’s no shame in finding a healthy balance between love for your family and yourself. Happy mamas who value themselves, raise respectful, confident children who do the same. If you’re ready to reclaim yourself, celebrate your strength, express your individuality and build your self-confidence, welcome to Mama’s Got Flair.

Since committing to my mission, I’ve received so much fabulous support and excited response, it’s become abundantly clear to me, I’m on the right track. I’ve heard a bajillion incredible stories from women in various stages of the journey to reclaiming their individuality. It’s simply delicious.

Thank you to all the extraordinary women who’ve shared their dreams, triumphs and struggles with me. While reading, I laughed, cried and even clapped. It’s a good thing y’all couldn’t see me, it may have been a touch embarrassing. You ladies are my inspiration. Keep your stories coming. I want to hear from everyone.

All that goodness being said, I want to take the opportunity to tell y’all why this endeavor is near and dear to my heart.

Modern moms, myself certainly included, are shouldering the weight of the world. And the worst part is, we’re doing it to ourselves and each other (albeit, unintentionally). We’re concentrating so completely on juggling a burdensome combination of careers, romantic relationships, children and households, we wind up losing touch with ourselves. We make a conscious effort to shelf our personal aspirations and desires in the name of motherhood.

We need to put a stop to the martyrdom and think about what we’re doing to ourselves. In the last few days, multiple women have told me they (and their families) have suffered in one way or another. Because they felt so much pressure to be “perfect,” they eventually broke down in a “What about ME” moment and made irreversible decisions they now regret.

The same women told me that after these events took place, they realized they’d been neglecting themselves. They felt guilty about meeting their personal needs, because their time and effort should be spent on their families. In retrospect, they all feel that had they made themselves more of a priority, asking for help from their support systems and doing little things for themselves, things may have turned out differently.

I’m in no way suggesting we should completely shirk our responsibilities to our families, I’m saying we need to find a balance. There will always be an element of sacrifice to parenthood. We’re no longer living for ourselves alone. We signed that contract when we conceived our little wonders. HOWEVER, by always putting ourselves last, we’re begging for mental, physical and emotional exhaustion and our families will suffer.

This is my challenge to you. Sit down and make two lists.

The first list should contain at least 3 goals or dreams, big or small, that you have for yourself. This list is personal, so there’s no judgment. What’s something you’ve always wanted to do or recently took interest in? Do you want to write a book? Visit a foreign country? Participate in a local theatre production? Start a book club? Earn a degree? Take a cake decorating course at the local community college?

The second list is of indulgences you haven’t been affording yourself. Make the list as long as you want. What little extras would make you feel special? Throwing that $4 bottle of dulce de leche coffee creamer in the grocery cart? Taking an hour here and there just to soak in the bathtub? Wearing sexy lingerie under your soccer mom t-shirt?

Put these lists somewhere you’ll see them regularly. If they’re out of sight, they’ll be out of mind, which totally defeats the purpose. The more you look at them, the more inspired you’ll be to follow through. Keep them handy, we’ll be revisiting them again.

If you’re feeling bold enough to share your lists (anonymously, if you’d like) email them to me and I’ll create a page. Maybe your ideas will get the gears turning in another lovely lady’s head.

We’re in this together ladies. Welcome to your new-found flair.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/2350197001/

I’m Up for the Challenge: Day 1

If you build it, they will come.

I’ve been working on this blog for a while and I haven’t been satisfied. Something’s been missing. With the help of the SITS Girls’ Problogger “31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge”, I realized, in a major slap to the forehead moment, the missing piece to the puzzle was direction.

While I enjoy posting random thoughts and stories, I sometimes feel a lack of inspiration, because I’m not sure exactly where I’m headed. Today, I officially unveil my intentions and aspirations for this blog.

Without further ado:

Challenge 1: Write an Elevator Pitch

Definition from Wikipedia: “An elevator pitch is an overview of an idea for a product, service, or project. The name reflects the fact that an elevator pitch can be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride (for example, thirty seconds or 100–150 words).”

Mama’s Got Flair’s new Tagline: Making yourself a priority for the benefit of your family

Elevator Pitch: Do you feel you’ve lost touch with your identity since becoming a wife and mother? Mama’s Got Flair is a haven for mamas who want to rediscover themselves, their dreams and personal goals. There’s no shame in finding a healthy balance between love for your family and yourself. Happy mamas who value themselves, raise respectful, confident children who do the same. If you’re ready to reclaim yourself, celebrate your strength, express your individuality and build your self-confidence, welcome to Mama’s Got Flair.

Giving a specific meaning to my blog revitalizes me. I may revisit my mission from time to time and tweak it, but I feel this is the direction I need to head in. It’s what sings to me.

Please, give me some feedback. Constructive criticism will only help me meet my goals and fuel my ambitions. Thank you all for your support.