Parenting Feed

Letter to my kids. Today.


My hearts, my loves,

We check in with each other every day, but how much do we really know? How are you really?  How am I really? Sometimes the days fly by so fast that our inquiries about each other seem so monotonous and unfeeling.  We start to just tell each other we're fine before we even know we've said it. It forces me to ask again...are you ok? And then I worry when you give the same "I'm fine" answer.  You notice my brows curl inward a little and add a "..really" to the end to give me reassurance.  But I'm never reassured.

What am I looking for?  I don't know because I don't really WANT there to be more.  More in this case could actually mean worse.  I want to be content with you being content.  I want your answer to sit well with me every day and not lead me to get trapped in my own unsettled thoughts.  I want you to be exactly what you say you are...FINE.

Maybe I put too much stock in my own childhood and the person I was then.  I shouldn't do that, I know.  I should know that you are both also a product of your daddy who is calm and rational and loving and transparent and everything everything. And you are your own, too. You are not me.  

But that small part that IS like me is what causes my head to spin with every fine answer. What makes my parental spidey senses go into overdrive.  Maybe there's some essential oil or something I could diffuse to mute that a bit. 

But until then, I'll keep asking.  Probably to the point of annoyance. Probably until you're old and grey. 

How are you?

I love you.


My Reserve, Our Coasts: Save Our Local Resource - the JCNERR

I don't get political too often and there is good reason for it.  I don't follow politics.  I am not well versed in them.  With the way the world is now, I don't WANT to know them either, quite frankly.  What I DO know is that when something that is good for my family, the community, my friends, and the world is threatened, I will fight  for it.  

Right now, the funding for our coastal reserves is in danger due to budget cuts within several federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Our local reserve the Jacques Cousteau National Estuarine Research Reserve (JCNERR) - where our children learn about our area - could be shut down.  In fact, without our help, it could be gone as early as 2018. That means research will stop.  Jobs will be lost.  Our children will lose the most convenient environmental resource available to them.


You probably don't realize how much you have used the JCNERR.  If you'e ever visited the Tuckerton Seaport's third floor, you should know that all that great hands-on equipment is there because of the JCNERR.  If you've ever taken a class at the Field Station, that's run by the JCNERR.  

I asked around to see how many of my local friends have utilized the resources at the JCNERR  and was so pleased to learn that SO many have taken their classes with rave reviews:

 "They have great programs there, all three of my kids have been involved over the years. What a unique opportunity to learn about our local environment! Losing funding and those programs would cheat the coming generations." - Vicki Falkinburg 
"I took my boys when they were little. Loved it. Austin dissected a squid when he was 7. The "build a water robot class" was amazing. We also made a birdhouse that we still use.  We went seining one day too." -Kate Janney 
Austin and Ryan Janney with their underwater robot
"I took the boys there twice. We had a great time! The staff was super informative and so nice! The boys loved it. They did the underwater robot and the penguin visit."- Samantha Colandrea
"We went one summer and it was great. I was hoping to do one this summer for Hope. She wants to be a scientist when she grows up and loves these types programs."- Jessica Shertenlieb
"The kids really enjoyed all of the hands on experiences."- Maureen Tyhanic
"Stephen (grandson) attended the summer classes since he was in first grade until he was too old to attend. Big classes full of children learned a lot each summer."- Joan Neuroth
Leanora Earle after a great class at the JCNERR

 If you have a great experience with the JCNERR. please tell everyone about it! You can comment on this post, or share it on social media using hashtag #MyReserveOurCoast.  

PLEASE read the article in the Sandpaper for more information. 

I know I'm not doing much justice to how important saving this program is for our future.

Find out what else you can do to save your local reserve by checking out .  Use the hashtag #myreserveourcoasts whenever you're taking pics at the beach or visiting your local reserve!

The best thing is to get the word out that WE LOVE OUR RESERVE, OUR COASTS!  Share this article, share your experience, call your local representatives, do whatever you can.  

Thank you. 


Save every time you shop with Groupon Coupons

If you've been following along for a while, you know that my blog is mostly about feelings.  I'm a feelings person.  Everything I do has some sort of feeling attached.  I try my best to make most of those feelings good ones.  And I don't particularly like writing about things I don't like.  When I get the opportunity to work with a brand, I will NOT write about it if I don't like it regardless of compensation.  If you see it on here, you can be sure it's because I like the product. In this case, this is a sponsored post, but I look at it as a bonus for writing about a product I truly adore. 


With that in mind, I'm glad to be posting once again about Groupon.  

Back in November of 2015, I had the pleasure of introducing Groupon Coupons to you here on my blog.  Since then I'm happy to report they are still going strong and still saving me plenty of money both online and off. 

A quick story for you...

My son recently got a hand-me-down drum set from a friend.  He took to it pretty quickly and loves banging out tunes for us, which made us want to fix up the set for him.  Our quest lead us to Guitar Center to find out how much the replacement parts would cost.  While there, we found that buying a new-to-us (AKA: used) set would be more cost effective, so we did.  

Now the only thing our little Josh Dun/Neil Peart wannabe wants to do is drum and visit Guitar Center.  I love watching his eyes light up when he sees the newest arrivals on the sales floor.  It gives me great ideas for gifts.  I like to take pics with my phone for reference so I can come home and sneakily purchase that new set of sticks or the cowbell he was eyeing up at the store.  But before I purchase anything, I check Groupon first!  Right now, Guitar Center has over 50 coupons listed - most for online purchases, but with some In Store printables.  

Look for yourself: 

Of course Guitar Center isn't the only store Groupon has coupons for.  There are over 11,700 stores using Groupon's services with over 79,700 FREE coupons.  

Oh, did I mention using Groupon is also FREE?

So next time (and every time after that) you want to buy ANYthing, check Groupon first. You may be surprised at the savings you can get by simply taking one tiny extra step. 

 Some more examples of Groupon Coupon deals: 

 Check their site for even more! 

...of my whole life


Sometimes I hear young people say so-and-so was the best whatever of my whole life.  I've said it, too.  When I was younger, I didn't realize that life hadn't even started yet.  Even now, I know that telling younger people that life really doesn't start until you are well into your 20s or 30s sounds ridiculous.  Unbelievable.  Absolute garbage.  But it's true, and I wish that there was a way I could tell every young person.  But young people don't find stats as cool as I do.  They don't want to listen to an old happy person talk about the pleasure of watching their small children do homework at the kitchen table or how fulfilling it is to grow an avocado tree from a seed.  They need info quick and now and to their liking.  I often wonder if there is a way to get the point across without sounding like an old codger stumbling over "when I was your age..."

I worry.

I think kids are the same as we were when we were kids, but with different surroundings.  They know so much more about so many different things than we did.  They have access to anything they want to know within milliseconds of typing in a word.  They don't even have to finish typing that word and the world responds with information.  It's that fast.  Processing all that information can sometimes be scary and intimidating.  Their brains can sometimes be overloaded with information about things they know exist, but haven't actually participated in themselves, giving them false senses of experience. They think they are worldly.  But they are just kids.

 I try my best to step back into my own kids' shoes and remember what it was like when everything I did was the best thing of my whole life.  I remember that that statement was actually true at the time.  When I was 12 I entered a cooking contest and thought winning 2nd place was the best thing in my whole life.  Then in high school when the guy I liked called me, that was the best thing in my whole life.  

Then I think about now and how I still have the ability to say that about experiences.  What does that mean?  It means that when I was young, those experiences that were the best ones of my whole life have gotten even better.  Now I can cook for my family.  Now I am married to the man of my dreams.  These are the best things of my whole life.  

The point is, the best things keep getting better and better with age.  They don't stop once you say it once.  You can continue to have the best every single day and that best will always be better than the one before.  It's important for kids to know that.  

Bad days happen, but so do good days.  So do the BEST days.

Open letter of thanks to Kelly Joseph and Laura Dun

Where to start...

I obviously don't know either of you personally.  I hope I don't overstep at all with this post.  I have just been feeling this overwhelming urge to write it.


This has always been one of my favorites by @bridge.art_

A post shared by Cindy Dudas (@wthbonbon) on

We share a bond as moms.  Whether we know each other or not, we still know the same love and yearning for our respective children's health, happiness, and success. We may be at different stages of their lives as parents, but I am certain the feelings remain regardless of their ages or ours. I just want to point out something that you probably already know and don't need to hear from a stranger, but regardless... here it is... your sons are wonderful.  They have changed my daughter's life with their music.  

I want - no, NEED to thank you for that.

I know all parents think their kids are rock stars.  In your case, that's obviously 100% accurate. While mine aren't in the global spotlight, they are still rock stars within our own realm.  My son is still very young and is thriving in 3rd grade.  My daughter just started middle school.  Her report card just came home with straight As for the second marking period in a row in her accelerated academic program. She kills it on the basketball court and is becoming such a great artist, it amazes me.

Pure. Rock. Star.

But there are plenty of times when she doesn't think so.  Like a lot of teenagers, she can not see what I see on more than a few occasions.  She can not feel the happiness I feel.  She does not think she should.  I know this because I had the same feelings when I was her age.  Maybe you did, too?  I don't know.


A post shared by Art🎨 (@bridge.art_) on

I'm not going to pretend to know what your sons were like before their fame or even before their desire to make music took over.  But from the lyrics I've heard and the hearts they display so boldly on their sleeves (well, arm in Josh's case considering I don't think I've really seen him with many sleeves) I can tell they are true to their Few/Proud/Emotional stance.  I can tell they have been through some thoughts that may not have been easy for you to take comfort in as their moms.    

I just want to thank you for being there.  For raising these boys (and of course all your other children as well) to be kind and share their gifts with the world.  I truly believe they were put here for the purpose of hope. 

When my daughter started listening, like really listening to twenty one pilots, I secretly started listening too.  I wanted to know what could possibly be taking up so much of her time?  Why was she suddenly immersed in red and black clothes and drawing little skeletons and aliens?  So I listened.  And I got it. 

I love how every song not only acknowledges pain, but then takes it further to explain that it's ok.  It's ok to feel the way we feel sometimes.  Sadness isn't the end.  Sadness can be overcome.  I love that every song gives that hope to my daughter.  By making it all so upbeat and light, it just makes it all seem much more acceptable.  Not as scary.  

There are so many times when I just don't know.  I don't know if "I'm fine, Mom" is accurate.  I am grateful that she has your sons' music to turn to when she doesn't know either.  

 So thanks.  For being their moms.  For supporting them so they can support so many. 



A post shared by Cindy Dudas (@wthbonbon) on

Today I felt small

I found this post lurking in my unpublished folder just now.  I am not sure why I didn't publish it.  I can only assume that I was waiting until that "small" day had passed and it was far enough away that I wouldn't remember at all what day it was.  I guess today is that day.  So here you go...


Today I felt small.

I hate days like this because they start with the feeling of hands covering my head pushing me down into a dark corner with wild laughing eyes staring at me from above and all around.  Telling me I'm wrong.  Holding their arms and hands up and walking away as if I'm a dog they want to stay put.  Only glancing back while they move on to other things.  Leaving me there in a heap to question myself forever.

But then the day shifts and I stand up without a care for those who put me in my slump.  Because they didn't really put me there.  I did that myself.  And I realize that I'm still in control no matter what.  My ideas are good.  My thoughts are strong.  And it's OK to be happy.  

I learn a lot about myself on days like today.  

The stuff I crave

Yesterday my daughter and I got to spend some quality time together. We get to spend a lot of time together on a daily basis, but about 19 minutes of that time is quality.  And I'm talking per week, not per day, it seems.  Most of the time we just happen to be going the same direction but completely in our own worlds just glancing over to give a thumbs up or blow a quick kiss.  But yesterday we had about 4 full hours of embracing each other's voices and holding onto each word while it seeped in.  We talked about everything we wanted.  Some serious, some silly.  And I saw something I had been missing.

My daughter is growing up.

It didn't hit me like a ton of bricks, but it trickled in as the day went on. Little things like carrying a purse.  With actual money in it and hand lotion. Using chopsticks to eat the spicy tuna roll she picked for her lunch.  Trying on jeans just for fun.  Skipping the toy store. 

I have always been excited and scared to watch my kids grow up.  I know I'm half of the team who is in charge of their upbringing (along with all our loved ones, of course) and that is terrifying.  I screwed up so much in my youth that I never thought I could do this.  But then days like yesterday...

There is never an end to parenthood and there is never any way of knowing whether or not we are doing a good job.  Sometimes you need your daughter's offer to buy you a smoothie from the mall food court with her own money to show you it's all alright.

This post makes me uncomfortable

For some reason I felt the need to write this down and share it.  I don't know... maybe to help me remember when times aren't as easy as I'd like them to be.

This morning, my son came downstairs dressed as he normally would for school.  Jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt.  He looked presentable, but today he is going to sing Christmas carols at the local nursing home with his classmates so I asked him to please change into a nicer shirt.  I didn't ask for an entire wardrobe change, just a shirt.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

I brought him the shirt and he grumbled the whole time he was putting it on.  "I don't like it." "It makes me feel cold."  "Can't I just wear my other shirt?"  "Why do I have to wear this?"

Maybe it was the fact that my daughter had also just told me she doesn't like the toaster strudels we have because they are strawberry and not her favorite raspberry flavor, but I sort of lost it.  I went on a rant for a few minutes about the difference between disliking something and it simply not being your favorite.  There IS a difference.  Just because something is not your #1 top pick does not mean it is no good.  In a nutshell, this is what I told them:

Here's the thing... You're not always going to be comfortable.  

You're not always going to have your favorite thing to eat.  People aren't going to always laugh at your jokes.  You're going to hear and see people do things that make you squirm.  In a lot of cases, those people will be people you love and admire.  Some days will be just a little too warm for you.  Some days will feel too cold.  Sometimes you will watch a friend fail.  Sometimes you will just feel blah and not know why.

It's ok.

Eat the food anyway.  Wear the shirt that doesn't feel 100% right.  Keep telling jokes.  Put on a sweater.  

It's ok to feel uncomfortable sometimes.  You don't always get everything you want in life.  But there are times when it's not about you.  It's about being there for others.  Maybe wearing a nice shirt inconveniences you, but it sure does look nice and will most likely make the nursing home residents smile.  And isn't that worth it?  Yes, it is.

That small amount of personal "sacrifice" (I put that in quotes, because is it REALLY a sacrifice to wear an uncomfortable shirt? No.) will come back to you at least 10 fold.  Those smiles you will get will wash away the stiffness of the collar in no time.  And if they don't, then we'll have another talk.

And guess what?  Tomorrow, you can wear whatever you like and I'll probably make you your favorite dinner while we sit in our 72° kitchen.

There are so many HUGE things in the world that are so much worse than a little discomfort.  Get past it.  Move on.  Make someone smile when you can, because it will make you smile, too.  

 I also feel the need to add this little note:  I'm not talking about anything more than being uncomfortable in little situations like discussed above.  If you ever feel more than uncomfortable, trust your gut and get out of the situation immediately.  I'm simply offering the suggestion of learning the difference between tolerable,acceptable discomfort and knowing something is downright wrong.  There IS a difference.


How to be a Cool Kind Kid - my review of Tanner Wants to Be COOL


Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  All opinions about Cool Kind Kid and this book are my own.

My son is in second grade.  He has always been a cool kid in my eyes.  But now that he's been in school full time for a few years he is starting to wonder for himself what being cool really means.  In a world full of bullying and people who may be less than kind in many situations, defining "cool" to a second grader can be hard.  We have always tried to instill in his little mind that being yourself is what's cool.  But there is definitely more to it than just being yourself.  Being cool has to do with how you treat others.  

I recently started working with Cool Kind Kid to help get the word out about their products that are specifically made to help define "cool".  I was happy to receive the book Tanner Wants to be COOL written by Cool Kind Kid creator Barbara Gilmour and illustrated by James J Dunn to review here on my blog.  

Tanner Wants to be COOL is the first in a series of picture books Barbara developed called You Can be a Cool Kind Kid.  This first book tackles the subject of how to be a caring, kind friend.  It's written in cartoon form with speech bubbles telling Tanner's story of how he figures out how to be a cool kid.  I love the illustrations of children who all looked different working together to help Tanner understand how to be cool by using manners and being kind to others.  Each picture teaches a different lesson while showing that cool is not synonymous with bullying or being mean to others.  

There is also a soundtrack  by Steve Megaw accompanying the book which can be downloaded for free using a special code found within the book.

After reading it myself and really enjoying the message, I thought the only way to get some proper feedback was to have my son read it, too.  He left me this little embellished note when he was done, so it MUST be a good book:


I plan on asking my son's teacher if I can read Tanner Wants to be COOL to the class.  I think it would make a great addition to any classroom, playgroup, or home library.  It's easy to read, has wonderful engaging pictures throughout, and gets right to the point that everyone can be cool.  I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series!

To get your copy of Tanner Want to be COOL for $12.95 including the FREE downloadable soundtrack visit  While you are there, check out all the other great products Cool Kind Kid has to offer!  

Since October is National Bullying Prevention month, Cool Kind Kid is offering 10% off their retail products throughout the month if you use code SAYNO2BULLYING at checkout!


Making Memories at Jenkinson's: How we do Mother's Day #JenksMemory

Ever since my sister and I started our own families and found ourselves so busy it sometimes hurts, we have been celebrating Mother's Day with my mom on a completely different day.  We find it much easier to celebrate our roles as moms when we don't feel all that pressure Mother's Day tends to throw at us.  It was our mom's idea.  None of us are the "brunch" type, really.  We prefer the beach, some boardwalk food, and watching the kids ride all the rides that we used to at their age.  (We even get on some ourselves.)

As it turns out...This year, I was very happy to have been chosen as a Jenkinson's Boardwalk Memory Maker through Jersey Moms Blog.  They supplied me with wristbands for my family free of charge so that we could go and enjoy our day at Jenkinson's Beach and Boardwalk in Point Pleasant and then report back here with our findings.  The wristbands included access to the beach, the bathhouse, all the miniature golf courses, all the rides, the Funhouse, and the Aquarium!

As you can probably guess, our Mother's Day was a blast.

Point Pleasant beach will always hold a special place in my heart.  Since I moved to the South Jersey shore area, meeting my North Jersey family members at Point Pleasant beach in the summer is perfect.   It's right in the middle of us all.  Jenks Beach Crew

We started with the beach, of course.  There are lifeguards everywhere.  We were nervous about crowds at first because we saw about 6 summer camps walking onto the beach right before we got there, but the beach is so big we had plenty of space to enjoy ourselves without being at ALL crowded.

After about an hour of beach antics, the kids went to play mini golf while the moms stayed put on the beach.  Ahhh!  The kids loved playing at the course and came running back to tell us their scores.

Then we all went up to the bath house to clean up a bit before heading to the boardwalk.  I am going to say this with all honesty: that was the highlight of my day.  I had never visited the bath house before and was very pleased!  It was very clean and felt seriously luxurious after all the sand, sun and sunscreen.  I felt like a million bucks walking out of there with fresh clean clothes on.  I will use that every time I go from now on! 

We then went to the Aquarium.  We are no strangers to the Jenkinson's Aquarium.  My kids love visiting the sharks, penguins, seals, and all the aquarium has to offer.  This week (July 6-10), Jenkinson's is celebrating Shark Week, so the aquarium offered a lot of shark information, crafts and games.   Shark attackHere is my son participating in a game to determine what types of food a shark likes to eat.  He won these cute glasses! Aquarium Collage

After the aquarium, it was on to the Funhouse.  Not all of us made it in there.  My kids opted to stay outside with Grandma and Aunt Amy.  So I took my niece and nephew in.  It's safe to say that all three of us had a great time, even though our hearts might have been on the brink of bursting at every turn!   IMG_6572 Jenksrollercoaster

We then had some dinner and went to the rides.  Jenks rides are awesome.  They have something for every age.  Both of my kids experienced their first rides ever at Jenks when they were little: the little clown fish. If I can find the pictures, I'll add them later.  But this time, everyone tackled the "big kid" rides.  The Pendolo was their favorite! ... even though just looking at it made me queasy.  Grandma even got on a few!   Grandma

OK, I know this is a sponsored post and you might think I'm about to say is a result of the free wristbands, but I assure it it isn't.  I love Jenkinson's Boardwalk.  It has been a place that has given my family so many memories over the years going all the way back to my own childhood.  My parents took us down at least once a summer to enjoy Jenkinson's beach and have a great seafood dinner somewhere nearby.  My friends and I would drive down from Morris County almost every week once we got our driver's licenses.  I love reminiscing and then watching my kids experience the same things I did in the same exact spot.  I love watching their faces when they win some plush toy after being first to fill the water balloon at a boardwalk game.  I love listening to them talk about how great the peppers smell wafting from the sausage stand.  I love that they just HAVE to get zeppolis and they HAVE to get a slice from Joey Tomatoes.  They are making their own memories and they don't even know it.

So now comes the fun part...

I was given a voucher - that is EXACTLY the same kind  I used - to give away to one lucky reader!  If you are chosen as the winner, you will receive 1 (one) VIP voucher for a weekday visit (Valid Monday-Friday, excludes holidays, Non-transferable) which entitles up to 5 (five) people to complimentary use of the Amusements, Beach, Bath House, Mini Golf, Aquarium, and Fun House.

We want you to make as many memories as you can this summer!  Including Jenks in your plans would be awesome, don't you think?

All you have to do is complete the activities on this Rafflecopter form.  Some are mandatory, but you can complete additional tasks to receive more entries.  PLEASE be sure to actually complete the tasks and not just click the button or your entries will not count.  Good luck to you!  The giveaway will end on 7/16/15.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more information about Jenkinsons Boardwalk, you can visit their website at  Times, directions and pricing for all the above mentioned activities and amusements are listed there.  You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest in what' going on at Jenks! 

And for more information about Jersey Moms Blog, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and at