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Thought I Was Perfect

by Wendy McGee (a Womensforum Parenting Expert and Network Partner)

Wendy McGee’s Thought I Was Perfect blog takes the life we all dreamed of, with the white picket fence, wonderful husband, perfect kids, and butler at our side, and turns it into real life: the imperfect, yet beautiful and wonderful world filled with love, laughter, family, and friends. Wendy McGee’s humorous blog illustrates an honest view of the real world, including the moments that would never make it to the second chapter in a fairy tale.

Wendy McGee
Make Dinnertime Family Fun Time

Weeknights for many families means football practice, swimming or theater until late at night. The kids will come back home exhausted and hungry, ready to go to their rooms to do homework and text their friends. Where does a sit-down family mealtime and home cooked dinners factor into these hectic schedules (including your own)? Is this still a possibility in this day and age? 

Well, it should be! Licensed Professional Counselor Jennifer Palermo of Southwest Psychotherapy Associates says that in today's society, basic needs like eating and sleeping have been made almost an afterthought to make way for other things. 

"We put off eating in order to do these other things, but in the end, it’s eating that we need more than being able to play football or play the piano, or do math," says Palermo. "Because if we don’t nurture our bodies and keep ourselves healthy, none of that really matters." 

With a few steps, you can make dinner time your family's favorite bonding experience and the dinner table a "secure base" that everyone returns to.

"Over time and with consistency, the dinner table becomes a safe place where your kids feel like they can share ideas and themselves and feel seen and heard." - Jennifer Palermo

Palermo says, "Over time and with consistency, the dinner table becomes a safe place where your kids feel like they can share ideas and themselves and feel seen and heard." And with these easy ideasyou can put delicious rich flavors on the table that'll keep everyone lingering long after the meal is finished.

Don't worry, that doesn't mean you're expected to spend hours you don't have toiling in the kitchen on weeknights! Here are a few ways to add some extra fun during mealtime by making it interactive and giving each family member a role. We have even included some conversation starters that'll make dinner time a part of the day your kids look forward to.

1. Build Your Own Meal

For nights when you're really pressed for time, make everyone plate their own dish, something like spaghetti and meatballs is perfect. It lets everyone take control of how much pasta, grated cheese or meatballs he or she wants. The more control kids feel over their plates the more they are willing to eat.

2. Daily Quiz

Take a night and mix dinner and games together. Fix something easy to cook and easy to eat, like our Easy Chicken Parm sandwiches and grab a game like cards or even something easy like 20-questions.

3. Meal Surprise

Make one meal a week with a 'meal surprise. This is really easy and fun with Quick Spaghetti & Meatballs as you can add extra fun toppings like deep fried eggplant (trust us, it's delicious),  or a side of garlicky breadsticks or cheesy cauliflower. Changing things up but still making something familiar makes it easier to get kids to try new things.

4. Surprise Sweets

Speaking of surprises, your whole family will love a special dessert each week for after your comfort dish. Make it a fun project by pairing different parents with kids to concoct a surprise dessert so kids get that one-on-one time with a parent. 

The best way to get the family excited about coming to the dinner table is to make it something special whether that means playing games or just spending time cooking with your kids.

Wendy McGeeRead More
Why You Should Vacation With Just Your Family

Vacations are a way for the whole family to reconnect.

We just came back from seven, sun-filled days in Mexico and in hindsight, it was hard to believe that I was nervous about vacationing with family before we went. Looking back, it was the best decision we could have made.

Wendy McGeeRead More
How To Define Home

Right now, we are on the way home from vacation.

Coming back from the East coast, it is hard to believe that two years have passed since we first moved our way out West.  "Which do you prefer, California or Connecticut?" our friends and family have asked. How can I answer that question? Where is home?

Wendy McGeeRead More
A Mom’s Guide To California College Admissions

The world consists of two kinds of people, rule followers and rule breakers.

I know when rule-breaking turns into a bad thing however, at what point does rule following turn into a bad thing as well? My daughter, a UCLA freshman, was granted in-state residency when we moved from Connecticut to California but ONLY after incessant interrogation.

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Parenting 101: Push Don't Shove

When you get your driver’s license you take a drivers test. When you become a stock broker, you take your Series 7 Exam.

When you become a lawyer you pass the Bar Exam. What happens when you become a parent? Exactly.The most important job in anyone’s life and there are no guides, no instructions, and no classes.

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Why A Mom Needs to Put Herself First Sometimes

Moms seem to take care of everyone else first, which seems like her job, right?

Yesterday I missed my flight to Thailand. I often think of the oxygen mask on the plane and how we are instructed in an emergency to put on our mask first, and then secure the mask around our children. Put mine on first. Is that even possible? Isn’t that like asking someone who is in in a wheelchair to get up and walk?

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What The UCLA College Experience Is Really Like

If you ever feel that you would like to experience a privileged life, head off with your kids one weekend to college.

This past weekend we did just that, and I am convinced that I was better off not knowing the other side. I am happy for her, however the idea of thinking she was slaving away at good grades made me feel ok about the $35,000 tuition bill. After two days, I have decided that I want to be the one at college. Learning, pushing you outside of your comfort zone and bonding with your sorority sisters seems pretty good to me, even if it came with the late nights at the library. 

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Letting Your Children Pick Their Own College

Just when I have finally gotten used to one of my babies being out of the nest and away at college, another farewell is around the corner.

As her senior year is rapidly drawing to a close, I can feel my throat constrict. When she initially applied to schools we focused on the West Coast. Although we have deep roots on the East coast, she wanted to stay in California to be closer to her family and more specifically to her sister. They had grown up like twins. It was all planned out. They would share a room as kids, attend college together, and one day lives on the same street. The only problem is that my oldest being the first to go to college, set the stage. The school she chose, UCLA, was as easy to get into as securing a private visit with the Pope.

Wendy McGeeRead More
How Yoga Protects Your Kids From Sports Injuries

Kids, sport, and injuries go hand in hand.

Recently I got certified as a Sports Medicine Trainer, which is hard for me to believe considering how I barely made it through science class. They never tell you how your brain changes in menopause. For the first time, I am looking at skeletons without making a joke about anatomy. Now, I am insatiable.  

Wendy McGeeRead More
Creating Peace In Your House

I have found the secret to marital bliss.

Every day I am in trouble, doing something wrong or saying something I regret. I call it getting to know someone. My husband calls it involving myself in someone else's business. People like to share, I tell him. It is a way of letting someone know that you care about them. Besides, I add, who has more friends than me?

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Redecorating Causes Self-Realization

How one shopping adventure turned into self-realization about getting older.

At the end of the day, mothers have a lot on our minds.

This past week, I have been inspired to redecorate my house. It is always all or nothing. Either I will stay in my new house packed in boxes for 6 months, or I will go over the top, not sleep, and spend all my money on furniture, pictures, new drapes, and ridiculously overpriced pillows.

Wendy McGeeRead More
How To Find Happiness

When happiness doesn’t come natural, you have to work on it until it comes as easy as breathing. 

You can’t just give into gloomy feelings. After moving with my family from Connecticut to California (the only similarity being the two C’s), I had work in store and was determined to keep at it until I became extraordinarily skilled.

It had been one year since we relocated, and I was tired of waking up in the morning feeling sad and thinking about all the things that I was missing on the East Coast.

Wendy McGeeRead More
How Our Behavior Can Hurt Our Children

This was not a long book. It wasn’t a difficult book to read or understand. It was a book that quickly cut to the problems with parenting in 2013.

It hurt and struck cords, leaving parents, including myself, pondering the question: Is my parenting style helping or hurting my kid? As I got to know the author, I had the opportunity to talk with her about motives for writing. Clearly she had not wanted to divide the town she lived in or to be ridiculed and chastised. “I am a teacher at a local university. I teach health and wellness.” Siah shared.

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A Mom's Advice on Maintaining Your Friendships When Your Child and Your Friend's Child Are Fighting

Last week was my birthday. Somehow I am not sure yet whether I love birthdays or I don’t.

On one side, I feel that it is my day. The world should revolve around me on my day, right? On the other side, I dislike the heightened emotion and the pressure on everyone around me for that day. Every year I repeat to myself that I am not going to define my relationships by the people who remember the day I was born. But yet, there I am on Facebook, reading my 192 notifications for my birthday wondering why so and so never reached out. Did she forget about me? Does she really love me or is it me expending all the energy on our friendship?

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A Mom's Advice on Helping Your Homesick College Student

It has been two weeks since leaving my daughter at college, and I am wondering when the tears will stop.

Tonight on the phone, I told her that I couldn’t find a reasonably priced ticket home for the coming weekend and expected that she would roll with it. Instead, I had to keep speaking loudly into the earpiece. “Hello?” No answer. “HELLO!!!” I repeated. All I could hear on the other end was sniffling.

Wendy McGeeRead More
Parenting Advice on Leaving Your First Child at College

This past weekend we moved our daughter into college. Believe it or not, it's not as bad as you think... 

The month leading up to the big event was filled with packages, mail orders, decorating tips, and chaos. Despite the number of times that I told her she was not moving to Zimbabwe, she was adamant that she had to have everything ready and prepared.

Daily, we would check and recheck our list. Mattress Pad... check, matching comforters... check, coffee pot... check, microwave... check, and the list goes on. 

Wendy McGeeRead More
What to Do if You Think Your Child Has a Learning Disability

A mom’s advice: I think my child has a learning disability. What should I do?

Fighting for our children should be a full time job. I have four children, two of which have ADHD and were diagnosed as dyslexic, not to be confused with dumb, in denial, or desperate to get under their parent’s skin.

In the past, I thought my family was divided into two sections, driven to succeed in life, and driven to get to the remote first.

Wendy McGeeRead More
How to Move to the Next Chapter and Sell Your Home

I was pregnant at the time, lucky me, so I didn’t have to do the heavy lifting.

Feeling my sadness, my husband took me out for a surprise outing to the culinary institute. He knew how hard this was on me and he wanted to do something fun as a diversion. I remember because he announced that he was taking me for a surprise outing and I cried because I didn’t have shoes that fit my swollen feet.

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A Mom's Advice: Accepting the Hot Flash

Hot Flash! Heat takes on a new definition when approaching midlife.

Sitting still, I can feel the heat rising from my toes. “No not now, please not now. I am the cool mom.” My 14-year-old son and his buddies look over at me as the dealer passes out three cards during our card game. “Mrs. McGee are you ok?” How would I explain that I wasn’t ok? Right before their eyes I was going through a metamorphism. Soon, the cocoon would break and there wasn’t going to be a pretty butterfly on the other side.

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Mom's Advice: How to Let Children Go

Letting go is hard. Letting go of a child that heads off to college is even harder.

Life is full of milestones, which crescendo when the building process is complete. Although cliché, it is a journey, whether it be the journey of raising your children to be responsible loving adults, or the journey of building a professional career. I only wish I could encapsulate the special moments along the way in a snow globe so that when I dip low, I can look inside, shake the snow, and remember.

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