Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Green Team, Baby! PLUS, Win $1000 from eBay!

I'm pretty excited to share something with you that I think is, like, so totally awesome. It's my latest obsession and it's name is eBay Green, my new fave spot for eco-friendly education, inspiration, and, of course, shopping (one of my fave pastimes).

In 2012, it's all about reducing, reusing, and recycling, and this new eBay site is going to make the 3 R's as easy as possible for you. While helping you earn money, of course. How so? Well, because the site is dedicated to being entirely green. While helping you earning money, of course.

And it's not only a shopping portal (although, let's face it: shopping is a major bonus!). There's also the Green Team Talks where you can get schooled on all things "green," like composting and the impact of the aluminum can. (And then, get your shopping on, baby!)

PLUS: If you have a question, you can post it in the "Ask the Green Team Community," and other eBay Green community members can help answer.

PLUS: On the eBay Green site, community members can create Eco Shopping Lists on pretty much anything. Household products, baby products, nursery items... take your pick!

Can't think of anything "green" to list? Simple solution! With the exception of old appliances, anything that's already in existence and can be re-used can be considered "green." Think "refurbished, pre-owned (or "pre-loved"), and re-purposed." And there you have it -- GREEN! As a super dope eBay Green Team member puts it, "The greenest product is one that already exists." WORD!

For your chance to win a $1,000 eBay gift card, follow these steps below:
  1. Visit the eBay Green website.
  2. Sign with your eBay User ID and password.
  3. Join the Green Team.
  4. On the homepage (green.ebay.com) identify the “Greener Alternative” and “Eco Shopping Lists” sections.
  5. Next to these sub headers, you’ll see “add an item” or “create a list.”
  6. To enter the contest, select the proper category and click on “add an item” or “create a list.”
  7. By adding an item URL from the eBay marketplace and explaining why it’s a greener alternative or creating a list of eco items, you are entered to win.
  8. Once the listing appears on the site, you are entered to win a $1,000 eBay gift card!
{Full Disclosure: As an eBay Parent Panel Ambassador, this post and giveaway is being sponsored by eBay. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Monday, January 30, 2012

Common Misconceptions of Single Mothers (And Dating)

Since venturing out into the dating world as a single mother, I’ve experienced some highs and lows, ups and downs, some good first dates, some great dates, and er, a story of “love” and loss. Remember them? Sigh.

But now that "I guess I got my swagga back" (Cue Jay-Z and Kanye), I’m reflecting on some of the things that people think about single moms who date. And I don’t like ‘em. I may be independent, but I still have my moments of insecurity and doubt every now and again, especially whenever my love life hits a bump in the road… just like every other single person out there. And the misconceptions don’t help with those insecurities. So… it’s high time that I set the records straight.

We’re not all looking for the next father for our kid(s).
Aiden already has his other parent. And even if he’s not as involved as I would expect a parent to be, he’s still Aiden’s other parent. So if I agree to go on one date, it’s not because I’m looking for Aiden’s next other parent. Negative. Not even close. I agree to go on dates for the same reason any other single person agrees to go on dates – companionship. That’s all. If it works out, like way, way, waaaayyy down the line, then I would hope that dude would be a father figure for Aiden, but not today. Or tomorrow. Or in three months.

We’re protective of our kid(s).
More often than not, the child of a single parent has already been through something major in their lives (like divorce or separation), and in Aiden’s case, a parental break-up. So I’m protective of him, and rightfully so gosh darn it! I once had a guy ask if he could take both Aiden and me out… for a first date. Umm… heck no! I’m sure he was trying to do the “I can totally be a good step-father” thing and whatnot, but I wasn’t having that. There’s no easy way to put this, but to me, it just sounds pedophile-esque. If and when the time is right, I’ll be happy to introduce Aiden to the guy I’m seeing. But not a second sooner.

We’d want to date the guy, not his bank account.
Not all single mothers are gold-diggers, just like not all women are gold-diggers. Baby, I have my own money and my own bank account. And I think I’m doing pretty well so I don’t need Mr. Man to hold it down for me financially. That being said, with the right guy, it’s… nice. It’s nice to have someone to share with and depend upon if/when it’s necessary. Which brings me to my next point…

We appreciate when Mr. Man pays for dates.
Not all of the dates. But some of them. Like I said, it’s… nice. I’m independent and self-sufficient, but damn, I’m not rich. So while I won’t expect Mr. Man to offer to pay for babysitting and all, fronting the bill for dinner and drinks is a little gesture that’ll go a long way. If dude thinks that that’s too expensive, he should just think about how much babysitting costs per hour. And then offer to pay.

We appreciate when Mr. Man plans in advance.
Calling to ask me out the same day will not work most of the time. My babysitters have lives too. Not to mention, it’s just bad forum to call a girl up the same day and ask for a date. So even if I wasn’t a mother, I’d have an issue with it. It would make me feel as though dude’s first choice fell through and he thought I was second best. Homie don’t play that.

We’re busy.
If I say “I’m busy, Aiden has ______,” it’s usually because I’m actually busy and Aiden actually has ______. I’m not “playing hard to get” (not too hard anyway) and I’m not playing games. I’m just busy. However, if I chronically use that line on the same dude, eek! Well, that’s just single mom speak for “not interested.”

Now… everyone share this list with a single, hot, well-mannered, driven, smart, fun, ambitious, and sexy guy that you know and tell him good things about me. Just kidding. (Sorta.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Supermom and Superwoman: Balancing It All

Time to time, I receive messages and emails from people asking something along the lines of, "How do you balance it all and manage to fit it all in?" While I am absolutely flattered that readers feel comfortable coming to me to ask questions, etc, I must say that I am in no way an expert on balancing life as a single mother. But I try because that's what truly counts in life anyway, right?

One way that I always answer the question is something along the lines of this: I try to prioritize as much as possible. Sometimes that looks different depending on the week. Case in point: this week Aiden has Kindergarten interviews so that has been my main focus.

(By the way, I'm totally having a "Argh... I hate NYC and the entire private school admissions process/Why didn't I move to the suburbs?/ Why can't every kid just go to a good school?" type of week. So be sure to send Aiden your well wishes. But I digress...) Between prepping myself for typical interview questions, trying not to be nervous in front of Aiden, and bribing him with ice cream encouraging him with the little rewards, I've been a busy bee.

But it's always like that. I'm always busy.

My focus just shifts depending on the week. Sometimes I stay up until 3am to write articles, sometimes I'm too tired so I go to bed by midnight. Sometimes I cover media events around NYC. Sometimes I want to be able to tuck Aiden in bed and read him a bedtime story.

Sometimes I need to give our apartment my attention by cleaning and cooking and all that jazz. Sometimes I'd rather contribute to the mess by playing with Aiden on the floor (floor puzzles seem to be his favorite activity at the moment). Sometimes I need a rigorous hour-long kick-ass workout. Sometimes I need a low key 30-minute hey-this-is-better-than-nothing walk.

Sometimes I need to go-go-go to get ish done. Sometimes I need to slow down and meditate. Sometimes I need to go out on the town with my girlfriends because that gives me a different kind of energy. Sometimes I need to stay in because, well, I just don't feel like going out.

But what I always, always, always do is this one thing: prioritize what needs to get done for the next week or two and make a reasonable plan to get it done. ("Reasonable" being the operative word here.) And then I move on to the next thing. And I make a reasonable plan to get that done. And so on and so forth. And slowly, but surely, things get done.

So I guess the "secret" is this: I can balance multiple things because my full focus, energy, and attention are only on one or two of those things at a time.

What about you? How do you balance it all and get things done?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Staying Faithful to Your New Year's Resolution

By Marie Hunter

A new year has begun and with it, resolutions have been declared. Lose weight/start a diet, quit smoking, travel more – whatever you've chosen to change in your life, know that you can be successful. You'll need to be dedicated but you don't have to see your resolve disappear before the spring thaw.

While it's great to be ambitious, don't overshoot the moon. If you want to lose weight or start a new diet, always be sure to be kind to yourself. You're human; if you 'slip' and eat something that's not on your new plan, remember that it's not the end of the world. You can get back on track with your next meal, all while the world continues revolving. Consider using a service like grocery delivery to make sure you have fresh fruits and vegetables on hand. Making things easier on yourself can help you be successful and give you the time to focus on goals related to your resolution, such as getting to the gym for a workout.

It's best to be specific with your resolutions, although it's wise to leave a little wiggle room. For instance, if you have vowed to become a vegetarian this year but you've been a carnivore your whole life, take things slowly. Start with a modest goal, such as two vegetarian meals during the week. Doing so will give your body time to adjust to your new way of eating and won't feel you leaving deprived should you want a hamburger. Similarly, go slowly when it comes to difficult tasks like quitting smoking. Again, you can be successful. If you're smoking a pack a day in January and haven't completely quit by your March 1 deadline, don't stress. Make notice of the progress you've made and continue towards your eventual goal.

Getting away for a weekend trip or vacation is certainly fun, which is likely why people around the world vow to travel more when declaring their resolutions for the New Year. Make plans for your future getaways and make some definite plans. If you enjoy hiking, consider planning a trip that will allow you to explore new terrain. Being a bit concrete about your goals can help you see them to completion, rather than sitting by the proverbial window and dreaming about a someday road trip to some city. If you always drive, consider taking the train. Buy your tickets and schedule time away from work so that you'll actually take the trip instead of pushing plans to the back burner where they will linger and be forgotten until it's time to make resolutions in December.

It's easier said than done, but don't beat yourself up if one of your resolutions doesn't turn out the way you want it to. For instance, a goal of learning a new musical instrument is noble, but don't feel you've failed if you're not ready to perform a solo with the local orchestra by the time summer arrives. Always keep in mind the progress you've made, that you made a big change in the first place, and what you've gained and learned since declaring your resolution. You'll probably surprise yourself at just how much you've changed without realizing it.

About the Author: Maire enjoys baking Snickerdoodles, crafting with her niece and nephews, going on hikes with friends, and blogging on behalf of Sears and other brands she trusts.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What "Fresh Diet" Taught Me About Dieting (And Myself)

Last week, I kept in line with the "2012 is totally going to be our best year" theme and talked about sampling a food delivery service, Fresh Diet. After a week of having my meals prepared, packaged in the right portion sizes for me, and delivered to my doorsteps, I feel like Cinderella must have felt at the strike of midnight.

Sigh. Back to reality. And back to cooking again. Double sigh.

Now remember, with Fresh Diet, you get to chose your meals (amongst many) and then the chef prepares three fresh, healthy, calorie-controlled meals and two snacks for you. The meals are then delivered to your home. Everyday. Personally, I really enjoyed the service and the fact that my meals were prepared for me. The presentation of the food was creative and appealing. And tasty.

{Mandarin cheese crepes with fresh strawberries}

This trial week taught me a few things about dieting and about myself. Here goes:

1. I'm really lazy when I have someone else preparing my meals for me. And, like, I totally forget that I have a kid and he needs to eat too. (And nope, I didn't share my already prepared meals with him.)

2. I like carbs. A lot.

3. I don't eat a lot. Like the whole, "Eat five small meals per day" thing? Yeah, that's not me. At all. I eat less than five meals per day.

4. I suck at dieting. Really. When I was choosing my meals, a message would always pop up that read something along the lines of, "You shouldn't choose that for dinner because you chose a 'heavy' lunch." Okay. I guess...

5. I like carbs. A lot. (Did I say that already?)

6. I think it's a much better idea to commit to a healthier lifestyle/eating habits than trying to "go on a diet." I mean, if I was really on a diet last week and the Fresh Diet online system wasn't there to tell me not to choose certain meals, I would have totally chosen them. And then my "diet" would have, well, no longer been a diet.

7. Support systems are so important when you're trying to change your lifestyle. Even if it's an online system telling you not to choose certain meals and showing you what a real balanced meal looks like. Which is why Fresh Diet is pretty neat. It's a good support system, but not a nagging one.

{Jamaican chicken wrap with fruit chutney}
Want to try Fresh Diet for yourself? Fresh Diet is currently offering a deal to Mommy Delicious readers. Start today for $29.99 per day and get 3 days FREE. Visit the website to take advantage of this special offer or call 866-FRESH-50 (866-373-7450) and use the promo code: singlejan3

{Disclosure: This post is being sponsored by Fresh Diet. I was also being provided with a week trial offer in order to facilitate this review.}

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Freckleface Strawberry: The Musical

Last weekend, Aiden and I bundled up and headed to the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center (MMAC) Theatre in Midtown Manhattan to see Freckleface Strawberry, The Musical

The musical is based on actress Julianne Moore's best-selling children's book, "Freckleface Strawberry," which emphasizes self-acceptance and self-love. Just as in the book, in the musical, the protagonist Strawberry, battles with accepting and owning the fact that she has freckles all over her face. She tries several things to hide them, including scrubbing them off and wearing a mask. She wishes she was someone else -- one of the other characters. Meanwhile, all of the the other characters battle their own issues with self-acceptance. And not only the stereotypical "nerds," but also the "jocks," "perfect girl," and "popular kids."

Freckleface Strawberry is more than a musical. It is a message. And one for the entire family because we've all been there before. We've all struggled to love the skin we're in at some point. We've all felt self-conscious about something before. I know I have. I've written about it too. Seeing the characters struggle with everyday issues and then trying to resolve those inner conflicts is a great way to open the dialogue about self-acceptance with our children. It is also a great transition into talking about bullying and the power of our words. (The affects of teasing is touched upon in the musical.)

As Aiden and I sat in our front row seats, we became engrossed in the performance. I was worried that little dude wouldn't be able to sit for the entire performance, but between the wonderful choreography, the energetic songs, and the engaging acting, he was completely mesmerized. And so was I. I found myself dancing along with the cast members, laughing, and singing. Such fun!

After the performance, we were able to meet the cast members, pose for photo ops, and get their autographs! Score!

Performances for Freckleface Strawberry, The Musical are Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm and 3pm. Tickets can be ordered through Telecharge at 212. 239.6200. Visit the website for more information. DISCOUNT CODE: Use code MAMADRAMA at the box office or online for $40 tickets. Click HERE to order your discounted tickets.

{Disclosure: I received tickets to this performance via MamaDrama in order to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jessica Alba Launches "The Honest Company"

{The beautiful and elegant Jessica Alba}
This week was a pretty epic one for Jessica Alba, environmentalist, author, and mom of two little cutie pie girls. Along with Christopher Gavigan, former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World, author, and dad, Jessica gave birth to her "third baby," as she describes it -- The Honest Company.

The Honest Company is an eco-friendly line of family essentials that is offered through a monthly subscription service at Honest.com. After attending the media event for the launch of the company earlier this week, can I just say... wowsa! Folks, I am thoroughly impressed. The Honest Company is the real deal! I love that it was created for parents by parents, and the creators are committed to making safe and sustainable products that we could all use more convenient, more stylish, and most of all, more affordable. (Can I get an "amen"?)

{Co-Founders Jessica Alba & Christopher Gavigan}
Says Jessica, "I've spent way too many hours researching products and driving around trying to find safer, eco-friendly options for my kids. I knew that most people didn't have that kind of time, nor the means to pay the premium prices. We had to make it easier."

And made it easier she did! Not only does The Honest Company line carry essential products all families universally need -- diapers, wipes, bath/skin care, and household cleaning products all made from completely natural, non-toxic ingredients -- but the products are curated into personalized bundles, automatically shipped and delivered right to your doorsteps. Every. Single. Month. Doesn't get much simpler than that, folks. (As I said before, I am thoroughly impressed.) And the products smell good too! I've been applying the lotion all week and love that it goes on so smoothly.

{The Eco-Friendly line}

{How stylish and fashionable are
these diapers?! Love!}
The media event was hosted by Nicole, the beauty and brains behind the Momtrends brand, a company that I am happy to be apart of as a freelance writer. And boy does Nicole know how to throw a party! Flocks of Bloggers and other media personnel headed out to ABC Kitchen in Union Square, NYC for the soiree. We mixed, mingled, and sipped specialty drinks, including a signature cocktail for the event. This single momma had one too many cocktails (and not enough dinner) and felt a bit tipsy by the end of the night. Luckily I had Serena (Mama Goes Natural) to accompany me on my trip home.

Doesn't Nicole look absolutely stunning?!
{L to R:Christopher Gavigan, Nicole @MomTrends, Jessica Alba}

Apparently Jessica and I got the dress code memo: black blouse, colorful blazer, beautiful smiles. I scored this cobalt blue blazer from Zara and I've been in love ever since!
{Mommy Delicious and Jessica Alba}
Want to try The Honest Company line out for yourself? Of course you do! Get a FREE Discovery Kit that includes a sample pack of diapers and wipes, or trial-sized versions of the bath, skin and cleaning products. Visit Honest.com to set up your account and get you some of that eco-friendly good stuff! (You're welcome!)

Here's to saving the world... one fashionable diaper at a time!

*Photos via Sherri Schubert of MomTrends.com.

{Thanks so much to MomTrends for hosting such a great event. Event attendees received a gift bag. All opinions expressed herein are my own.}

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Have You Found Your "Happy"?

The other day, I saw a status update on a friends Facebook page that really struck a chord with me. It read something like, "When you learn that happiness is a choice, you begin to make different choices..." Choose happiness.

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with an old [single] girlfriend. She was going on and on about how sad (and lonely) she was/is because she lacks that special someone in her life. She went so far as to say that she felt almost cried the previous night because she wanted to go out, but didn't have a guy to go out with.


I get it. Sometimes being single can feel lonely. But I'm a firm believer in being proactive to create the life that you want and surrounding yourself with things that make you... happy. I'm a firm believer in choosing happiness. So naturally my response was that she should have called a few of her girlfriends up and make plans to hit up one of their favorite spots in the city. Easy enough. Her response? She wanted to go out with a man. Okay. I'm single. I can totally dig wanting to be all boo'ed up for a Saturday-night date night. My response? "Well, how are you going to find 'him' if you're at home moping around on a Saturday night. You're young (she's, like 25 or something), go out, have fun, enjoy your 20's."

Then I made the mistake of putting myself into the equation. I said, "I'm single and I have fun. You can always come out with my friends and me should you feel the need." Her response? "Maybe marriage is not for you; I [pointing to herself] am a relationship girl."


I was in no mood to fight that battle on that lovely Sunday afternoon.

I'm sure there's a reason why I'm here... at this particular place in my life. (And you. And you.) There's some lesson to be learned, some experience to become engrossed in, some goal to achieve. It's not entirely easy learning how to be alone and enjoy your own company, but I do think that it is necessary. Not to mention, once you're there, it is pretty awesome.

Sure I'd like to have someone to share my life with -- the dope things and the dreadful things -- when the time is right. But, until then, I'm choosing happiness. If I want to go out, best believe that I call my girls up and say something along the lines of, "Let's do something fun. Get dressed, we're going [insert name of favorite spot here]." One doesn't find happiness by simply being in a relationship. That's a huge myth, if there ever was one, and those who think that's the case are in for a rude awakening.

I feel like I'm finally at the point where I'm making conscious decisions to just... be happy. It's not always easy because sometimes it requires making difficult decisions, but the peace of mind and serenity is totally worth it.

I once read, "This is your life. Do what you love and do it often... If you are looking for the love of your life, stop. They will be waiting for you when you start doing things that you love" and things that make you happy.

I found my "happy" and I'm holding on to it come heck or high water.

Have you found yours? What are you doing to hold on to it?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

From Regular Mom to Millionaire Mom

By Suzanne Cramer
Being a single mom is rewarding, but takes its toll in many ways; financially speaking being a single parent makes it tough to make your financial health a priority.

To better prepare yourself for your future it's important to take steps to save for retirement, emergencies, and goals you may have. Saving is an intricate piece of your financial puzzle and should be made a priority.

Let's find out if you are financially on track.

Have you figured out what you need to retire?

Many of us haven't, according to the Retirement Confidence Survey, Only about four out of ten of us have tried to calculate what it would take for a comfortable retirement, and one-third of those who have can't remember what figure they came up with. Without knowing how to get where you need to be how can you develop a plan to get there?

CNN Money offers a simple yet effective retirement calculator to help you determine what you need to save today for your future. 

Do you save a portion of your income regularly?

According to MSN Money the current U.S. savings rate is below 1 percent; are you part of that 1%? If so, let me stress to you the importance of saving at least 5% of your income; coupled with investing you can continue to grow your nest egg for a comfortable retirement.  

Do you pay off your credit cards every month?

Carrying a balance on your credit cards is a dangerous trap to fall into. That balance may be costing you more than you think each month in interest and fees. 
Responsible credit card use involves paying off your balance each month and making timely payments, failure to do so results in higher interest rates and late fees. 
If you are currently only paying the minimums or are getting behind on payments now is the time to develop a plan for paying down your debt. If you are not sure how to get started consider reviewing this article on your debt relief options.

Are you protecting what you have?

As a single parent your kids depend on you to take care of them, but what if? It is imperative that you review all of your insurance plans to ensure you have the right coverage for you.

  • Health insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Auto insurance
  • Homeowners or rental insurance 
Today millions of Americans are without health insurance or adequate coverage; the financial losses suffered by an unexpected medical emergency are enough to frighten anyone. 

Are you taking the right steps to achieve your financial goals?  Saving is not always easy especially when raising children on your own. Making savings a line item in your budget will help you to pay yourself first and help prepare you for the unexpected and your future. 

Suzanne Cramer is a certified credit counselor and a Social Media Specialist for CareOne Debt Relief ServicesSuzanne writes for Divorce, Debt and Finances and Major Life ChallengesFollow Suzanneon Twitter @ADivorcedMom where she shares her insights as a single-divorced mom with tips and tricks to keep your finances in check.


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