Michelle Smiles

Teaching my children to question authority, except mine.

Dannon – Give Hope With Every Cup


I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by  Mom Central on behalf of Dannon. In addition, I received a gift certificate and products to thank me for taking the time to participate.

As October draws to a close, so does National Breast Cancer Awareness month.  But the fight doesn’t end when the calendar page flips and the pink ribbons become less visible.

Most of us have seen the other yogurt campaign that has us all mail the pink lids in.  I have to admit that while I am always happy to see companies help good causes, I couldn’t understand why they insisted on making it cumbersome to participate.  I’ve ranted about it on more than one occasion to my husband.

Then I saw Dannon is making it easier.  Buy a specially marked cup of Dannon yogurt (marked with the pink ribbon and Give Hope With Every Cup logo) until November 30th.  Then instead of mailing it, you go to the website www.cupsofhope.com and enter the code.  Voila.  Done.  And for each code entered, 10 cents is donated to  NBCF (National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc).  Dannon guaranteeing a minimum of $500,000 donated and up to $1.5 million.

Yogurts with the participating codes include Light & Fit, Fruit on the Bottom, Activia, and All Natural.  We can have yummy yogurt while facilitating a donation to NBCF – everyone wins.

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by  Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Dannon. In addition, I received a gift certificate and products to thank me for taking the time to participate.

posted under Misc. | 4 Comments »

Cute overload


Is the whole point of Halloween to maximize the cute factor for the littlest ones (while of course maximizing the slutty factor for anyone over the age of 15)?  I almost can’t stand it!  My MOMS Club had its annual Halloween party today – a whole park full of little cuties!

There will be more cute witch and ladybug photos on Sunday because I can’t help myself.  So! Cute!

posted under family | 4 Comments »

Dull, boring update…move along


This post is for the people who’ve asked how things are coming along…the rest of you will find it horribly dull so feel free to move along.

We actually did some relaxing this weekend – we were pooped.  As a result, we didn’t get nearly as much done as we should have at this point.  We’ve started some lazy decorating.  Leaning artwork instead of hanging it:

And instead of painting the girls rooms, personalizing with wall decals.  Tessa’s room is a lovely yellow to begin with – she chose Dora.

Sabrina’s room is a neutral gray…I was going to paint it but decided to wait a year until I feel like it she is able to really give some input.  She chose The Princess and the Frog.

This photo is for my BFF who insists on bragging about her pre-school and its great communication.  (D – a plethora of kitchen cabinets AND a luxurious bathroom.)

I don’t normally decorate much for holidays outside of Christmas other than putting those gel clings on the window for the girls but I found these glowing cat eyes in a catalog and thought they would be seriously cool in our windows.  They are hard to get a good photo of…without flash:

With flash:

But they are a little disturbing from the inside in the morning when I wake up (these are my bedroom windows):

Totally worth it if I scare the bejezus out of some kids this Halloween.

And this has nothing to do with anything but it made me laugh when someone posted it on FaceBook last night.  My kindergarten class:

I’m on the right with the white hair and mustard yellow shirt.

posted under House stuff | 4 Comments »

Live from the new house


The move went as well as moves can go.  We still have too many a few car loads of stuff to get from the old house and then I have to go and clean it.  I’m contemplating making a fort from all of these boxes instead of unpacking them.  But the kitchen and bathrooms are fully functioning at this point so we have the important stuff covered.  (Also?  Friends sometimes bring you dinner when you have just moved.  I never used to let people do nice things like that – I didn’t want them to go to the trouble but this time I smiled and said thank you.  So incredibly wonderful.) I catch myself looking around the house and thinking it is so pretty that it can’t possible be ours and the bank’s!

My camera, its cord, and my computer all live in the same house now! Here is a hodge podge from the last few days.

The first thing Steve always hangs when we move into a new place – my Believe sign.

Our nanny this week. Seriously, it has been bad.  They’ve watched way too much TV.

Ready for all of the fun gatherings we now have room to host!

Ummm…I might have a small problem with spices and vinegars and oils and herbs.  I can’t stop buying new ones.  Has anyone else with this type of affliction found a good way to store them?  I have one of those staggered shelves and it doesn’t work as well as it should.  And I don’t want a spice rack on my counter – besides they wouldn’t fit.

Do you think they like the new playset?

Even the dog tried to get in on that action

And why do all children decide that slides are meant for going up instead of down?


Success! After several days of trying, Sabrina finally made it all of the way up the big slide.

I think this is called a butterfly bush (feel free to correct me) but ours seems to attract moths.  Lots and lots of moths.  It kind of freaks me out because I walk by and they all come flying out into my mouth face.  But the girls LOVE the “butterflies” and try to catch them.

The girls did great sleeping the first night in their beds.  They both seem to be adjusting fine.  Steve and I need about 3 days of uninterrupted sleep while elves put away all of our belongings but are enjoying the new house too.

Sanity from Nick Jr


I have to call foul right now.  Once, many moons ago, I took you all to task for not telling me what a holy mess biter/teething biscuits made.  Now I want to know why you were all holding out on me about the difference between Nickelodeon and Nick Jr.  We just had our TV service installed at the new house.  I needed the kids out from under my feet for 30 minutes so I turned it on and started searching through 600 channels for PBS.  In the late afternoon, PBS is the only channel I normally let the girls watch if we turn the TV on at all.  Disney is full of tween dramedies at that time.  Nick is all SpongeBob all the time.  PBS has some good programing (the Electric Company got a serious revamp – it was no where near that cool when I was a kid).  But somewhere between channel 543 and channel 8 (where PBS apparently resides), I stumbled upon Nick Jr.  It was showing things that used to appear in the morning on Nick but have since vanished.  No one told me that that Wonder Pets and Backyardigans and everyone else except Dora was hiding over on this little channel of toddler nirvana.  It was only very recently that I came to understand that they were 2 distinct and different channels but I didn’t realize that at least for the purposes of keeping my children occupied that Nick Jr was so vastly superior.  Help a momma out next time!

I even got to go to the bathroom by myself for the first time in a year.


I have photos but my camera and computer aren’t in the same house at the moment.  Tomorrow, they will both live happily together.  The movers arrive at 8:30 in the morning.  We have a good bit of our stuff already at the new house – the kitchen is fully functional and we should be in decent shape once the furniture gets there.  I will be so freaking glad when I can call this move finished.  And they will have to pry my lifeless, cold, dead body from that house far in the future because I never want to move again.

posted under parenting | 9 Comments »

I own it but it was not my fault


October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Every year, I talk about it a little.  I provide some links.  I tell a story or two from my days of working in shelters.  I, sometimes, allude to my past.  This year, I decided to tell my story.  I was inspired about 6 months ago by a story I read and realized that while my story isn’t terribly dramatic it might give someone a little piece of understanding or comfort.  It really can happen to anyone.  It happened to me: a smart, educated, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ADVOCATE AND EDUCATOR.  It can be slow and insidious.  It can happen so slowly, so slyly that you don’t realize until it is too late.  I don’t think I’ve ever told anyone the whole story.  I was too ashamed – I was supposed to know better.  I spent years telling women it wasn’t their fault and I finally decided to believe my own words.  To read my story, click here.


Often when I am typing a comment on someone’s post, I realize I’ve just written a mini blog post.  It happened again this weekend. I was commenting on a lovely post by Stacey.  She wrote about how knowing someone’s story can change how we view them and their actions.  It is a cautionary tale of judging others because you often don’t know their story.  It reminded me of something from my days at the shelter.

I spent the first and happiest chunk of my career working in domestic violence shelters in various capacities.  When you work in an emotionally charged arena, you often develop a bit of gallows humor and can be a bit jaded – it is a defense mechanism.  You have to walk a fine line between caring and taking care of yourself.  People who are good at the work are able to walk that line.  People who aren’t either care too much and burn out or quit caring enough and need to go work elsewhere.

Alice (not her real name, obviously) was in her 50’s when she came into my shelter one weekend.  The shelter staff told me she was a little off.  Alice carried around a notebook and wrote in it during her free time.  She told us she was re-writing the bible.  The staff all shared a private chuckle at that piece of information.  Pssst…the new client is a little whack-a-doo…she says she is re-writing the bible.  Who does that?  Hehehe. The clinical staff casually discussed exploring if there was a mental health issue behind that behavior.

But then we really talked to her.  Not just a casual “What are you writing Alice?” but a conversation.  Alice shared that her husband used scripture from the bible to justify beating her.  He would quote passages about the man being the head of the house and women submitting to the man in order to make her understand it was his right to beat her.  He used something she held sacred to tear her apart physically and emotionally.  He used her God against her.  She wanted to re-write those bible scriptures in such a way that he (and other men) couldn’t take them out of context any more.  She wanted to make the bible into the safe haven it had once been for her – an instrument for comfort and peace not violence and control.  Suddenly, Alice seemed like the sanest person in the room.  She saw a problem and was trying to fix it the only way she knew how.  And I’ll never forget her.

It really is all about framing…all about stories.  Everyone has one.  And if we take a moment to find out the story of someone who seems odd or difficult or a little nutty, we might find that they are doing the best they can.  Just like the rest of us.

posted under political | 19 Comments »

Just a typical Sunday morning around here


Doesn’t she look way older than 4? Gah!

Tessa has reached the age of stopping to submit to having her photo taken but refusing to smile.

posted under family | 7 Comments »

Race for the Cure


I would like it a lot more if I didn’t have to get up at dawn to do it.  But did it in honor of a friend’s mom who is currently battling…and also with my step-mom, who is a survivor, in my thoughts.

I walked with a group of friends complete with feather boas, ribbon stickers on our faces, and pink do-rags on our heads. I wasn’t overjoyed that summer decided to return today making our 5K walk a little warm but it is better than cold and rainy like it was last year.  But it was amazing seeing the thousands of women and men there to support the cause.

I usually do a quiet boycott of all things Susan G. Komen in October.  Obviously, I support breast cancer research!  But the Komen foundation has the best PR machine of any non-profit, ever.  It tends to eclipse all else in October.  My passion lies with a cause that also calls October its official awareness month:  Domestic Violence.

If you need help, the national hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE

You can find more general information about domestic violence here or here or for a more global perspective about ending violence against women click here.

Also, a few of my favorite things combined: Tim Gunn (love me some Project Runway), Marshalls, and shoes.  If you buy shoes at Marshalls (until Oct 15th), $1 will be donated to the national domestic violence hotline.

If you want to read some personal stories from survivors and lend support through comments, visit Violence Unsilenced.

posted under political | Comments Off on Race for the Cure

To Do List Trumps Blog


My week has been consumed with errands and trips to the new house.  Yesterday, I had 14 items on my To Do List.  Unfortunately, only 6 were completed because I received a call that Sabrina got sick at school.  Fortunately, she is fine.  Apparently there were cupcakes for snack and they didn’t agree with her tummy.

Target and I hadn’t been speaking much for the past couple of months (such a bad influence…a trip in for a bottle of shampoo turns into $75) but we’ve kissed and made up.  I’ve been there 3 times this week. I’m hoping to have to go back today – I’ve promised Sabrina that if we have a day with no time outs, we can go buy Beauty and The Beast.

I’ve been obsessed with finding a cute little black and white bath mat for the powder room.  I don’t know why this small detail has become such a fixation – probably a combo of the fact that I can’t find one and that it is a detail I can actually afford unlike the new couch and chairs I would like for my living room.   But between online retailers and brick and mortar retailers, I’ve found a grand total of 3 options.  While telling Steve this, he begged me to let him paint the ceiling white.  He really dislikes the black ceiling.  In all honesty, if he had said it after the first time we saw the house I would have held the ladder…but it is really growing on me and I’m starting to dig it.  I told him that I want to keep it for a little while but in 6 months or a year  if he still hates it I’ll let him paint it.  This is the photo from the MLS listing.  Thankfully, they took the bad magnolia art with them.  Everyone else – hate it or intrigued?

The girls…well let’s just say it hasn’t been the most stellar week in the behavior department.  Sabrina has really ramped up the torture of her little sister – mostly be refusing to leave the poor child alone.  She follows her around in order to be bossy and take toys she deems to be hers.  Constantly.  Tessa has been clingy and screamy.  And this is the week I’ve made a serious resolution to stop yelling.   (Monday was  failure but the rest of the week has been a success in that way at least.) I know there is some anxiety for them – suddenly our things are being boxed up and taken elsewhere.  Hopefully, once the move is done and we are settled they will feel a little more secure.

I haven’t had the camera out all week so I’ll try and take some photos soon for the Grandma types out there.

Pumpkin Mousse/Pudding


This isn’t my recipe.  Rachel at Southern Fairytale posted it last week. Steve loves pumpkin treats so I decided to try it.  Steve loved it.  I liked it too.  I will likely make it again but I think I will decrease the Cool Whip a bit just to allow the texture to be a little more pudding like – it was a little mousse-like.  But the flavor was spot on.  And don’t skip the gingersnap crumbs – yum!

Pumpkin Pudding

  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding (I used sugar free)
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup whipped topping (like cool whip)
  • 3 or 4 gingersnaps, crushed

Whisk together the pudding mix and milk.  Whisk in the pumpkin and spice until soft set.

Gently whisk or fold in the whipped topping.  Put into serving dishes and top with crushed gingersnaps.

Thanks Rachel!

posted under food | 5 Comments »
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