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Handmade gifts are the best, so check out the 10 Charleston artisans creating goods with a Southern accent I wrote about for USA Today 10Best and get your holiday shopping done!

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my oasis: healing with elephants in thailand by julie lemerond

Elephant Nature Park in Thailand

About a year ago, a friend of mine referred to us as “middle-aged” in a blog post. “What the heck is she talking about?” I thought. And then it dawned on me that we were turning 40 and, if an average female American life expectancy hovers somewhere around 80, then we are indeed “middle-aged.” Because I still get carded and people seem shocked when they find out how old I am, it’s hard to wrap my brain around the idea that I am halfway through life. [Read more…]

meet ubooly, the hot holiday toy by anna crowe

I met Ubooly on a shuttle bus at the Mom 2.0 Summit. Ubooly was sitting on the lap of the woman behind me, and I was mesmerized. Possibly the cutest, fuzziest, smartest toy I’ve ever seen (it’s powered by your iPhone), Ubooly listens to your child and uses voice recognition to talk back in a fun – and educational – way. It made me wish I had grandchildren. [Read more…]

an open letter to angelina jolie by sharon stanley

In 2010, we posted a personal story from a reader, my friend Sharon Stanley, about her experience having the breast cancer gene and deciding to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy. You can read that post here. When Angelina Jolie announced publicly last week that she had done the same thing, Sharon was so appreciative and wanted to send an open letter of thanks to the actress. Here is her letter: [Read more…]

adolescence is a tough gig by lyn collins

I have two daughters who have just come through the difficult teenage years. As a mother, I’ve watched with so many different feelings and emotions. I’ve often felt helpless and unable to ease their pain and confusion as they courageously try to adjust to life. [Read more…]

An Older Mama (Uh, Me) Talks to One of the Lil’ Mamas About Raising Kids Then and Now

I was so lucky to meet so many great people on our trip to Australia with Oprah (yes, I love to casually fling those words around!) and it’s inspiring to follow what they’ve been doing since then.

You may remember Cecelia Behar-Bush (left), who wrote a powerful guest post for us, from The Oprah Show — she’s the woman who announced her pregnancy to her husband at our big bash in Sydney, so it’s fitting that she and Lauren Price recently joined Lil’ Mamas, the brainchild of their friend, actress Alisan Porter Autenrieth. The three partners refer to it as “not your mama’s mama blog,” and it’s so honest and funny and real, I wish it had been around when I had my first baby — 23 years ago!

Cecelia thought it would be fun for me, as an eldermom, to pass along my words of wisdom to the new moms who make up her audience. I assured her that, although I am definitely approaching the elderly stage, I am not particularly wise and that she should adjust my advice as she sees fit since I did feed my eight-month-old daughter french fries and unhesitatingly place my newborn son on the floor in front of our beloved chow chow for her approval. (Of the two, I only regret the french fries — and even that, not so much.)

So, I’m answering the questions instead of asking them. Thanks, Lil’ Mamas, from … a Big Mama??? Oy. [Read more…]

The Land Down Under Tops My Bucket List by Pixie Monroe

Monroe CastingI’ve always been an outgoing and adventurous kind of girl who would be happy to hug a tree. But, even better, how about hugging a koala bear in Australia? They are just so darn cute and cuddly!

I love to travel and make new friends.  I enjoy telling stories and sharing meaningful experiences. I love my job in film and television casting and production. So, where better to do all of these things than in Australia? [Read more…]

chicken soup for the flu!

Chicken SoupBecause I’m so dedicated to only touting products I’ve actually tried and liked, I spent four days in bed with the flu recently just so I could test out Spoonful of Comfort.

Ha! Those sick days were, for sure, not by choice, and they were definitely not the same as spending four days in bed, reading, watching TV and eating ice cream. I could barely lift my head, never mind catch up on the shows on my DVR.

The silver lining, though, was the big box that I found when I staggered downstairs for some Gatorade to make sure I didn’t pass out from dehydration. My husband had forgotten to tell me a package came for me – but at least he took heed of the “perishable” warning and stuck it in the fridge.

I was so excited to see the Spoonful of Comfort logo and the lovely words, “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” In my delirious state of mind, this was enough to make me teary. But then I opened the box and discovered, beautifully packed with pretty paper and a cheery yellow ribbon, a huge jar of homemade chicken soup, a package of fat and delicious-looking dinner rolls and a bag of oatmeal raisin cookies. It was like my mom had put it together just for me.

I am always skeptical of food that comes in the mail but I have to tell you this meal was so delicious and felt so full of love, I swear it made me feel better. The soup – a rich broth – was laden with chicken, noodles and veggies, and the rolls … oh, the rolls! I can’t figure out how they keep them so soft, but they were the perfect complement to the soup.

The cookies were gone that day but there was enough soup and rolls left to feed my husband’s cold when he inevitably starting coughing and sneezing two days later.

I went on the website for Spoonful of Comfort to learn more about the people behind the company. It was started by a woman in Florida when her own mother was sick. Not surprisingly, a portion of proceeds are donated to charities, including the American Cancer Society. I say “not surprisingly” because, seriously, the care that goes into this package is apparent in every detail.

With flu season in full swing, this is the perfect gift to send someone stuck in bed. It’s what I’ll be ordering for my kids 3000 miles away next time I hear one muffled sniffle over the phone. As they nourish their bodies and souls, they will feel warm inside, thinking about how loved they must be for their mother to send them these treats, lovingly made by hand – by someone else.

20 notes to a mother from a 20-year-old daughter by reid kremer

Jae KremerA mother is a daughter’s prime role model for how to be a good person. Although she can be a little opinionated at times, I know my mother simply wants me to be happy, healthy, and successful in whatever I pursue. Her nagging reminds me that she cares.

So, to moms of twenty-year-old daughters, I’ve compiled a list of twenty thoughts you may want to keep in mind while assisting us through our pathway towards adulthood. To my own mom, just know that I love you, respect you, and appreciate everything you have done, do and will do for me more than you know. Thank you for being my crazy mother. [Read more…]

Every Shoe Tells a Story by Katherine Govier

I help immigrant women tell their stories – through shoes. The Shoe Project was hatched over dinner with a sponsor, and Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator of The Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. We came up with a plan to exhibit stories and shoes that illuminate the voyage to Canada. I’ve since met two dozen brilliant women including a puppeteer from Russia, a journalist from Columbia, a dentist from Cuba.

Bata Shoe Museum

[Read more…]

laters, baby: why i relate to christian grey by rosario gonzalez

It’s the big one this month – the Silver Anniversary of my twenty-fifth birthday.  One would think that at the age of 50, I would be completely grown up, but I feel I am not.  You see, I had to be an adult at the age of four.  I had no choice; otherwise I wouldn’t be here telling you my story.

I don’t remember when I arrived in the United States or how I got here.  But I do remember being in Puerto Rico, playing on my grandparents’ farm, eating the guavas off the tree next to the pigpens and stealing the eggs from the hens.  These are the only two happy childhood memories I have from that time long ago. I was four. [Read more…]