Saturday, May 13, 2017

Mother love

*This post is sponsored by Luvs.

It comes as a surprise. It's happened more than once and still, it shocks me a little, pricks at the corner of my eyes. It catches in my chest the way all the best feelings do, the ones that barrel into my consciousness, expanding out from my heart in a blink, filling my entire being with attention and awareness. In the first moment, it's awesome. In the next it's awful because I know what it is and I know that I didn't ask for it but I don't know what I'd do if it left me.

It's mother love.

It's love plain and simple and powerful. It's syrupy so that when the heat of it finally burns off I feel a little silly about it all. I feel like everyone who was not a part of what I just experienced can see it on me, a residue of intimacy, a sticky aura that makes me both an object to smile at, indulgently, and at the same time someone to giggle at, just a little. Was I really just overcome with emotion? Have I no control over my feelings?

Love is not the place at which mothers come to rest. Love happens to us. And love is the thing, the thing above all else, that makes us mothers. That's the magic of it. You can birth your baby or adopt your baby or lose and mourn and bury your baby. That's not what makes you a mother. What makes you a mother, the single thing that legitimizes you for all time, is the unexpected, unbidden, here in a white hot flash love that steals upon you from the inside out. Some of us feel it when we look into our babies' faces and cannot for the life of us look away. Some of us feel it when we sign the final line on adoption papers and say to the child our hearts knew we needed, "we are home now, we are your home, it's us." Some of us feel it in the excruciating pain of the baby we had started to love before we even named it, the baby we won't hold, or that we only get to hold for too short a time. In that terrible darkness we realize the tiny light in the distance is love, unexpected, unbidden love.

A mother's love is not limited to an outward sign. It's not a bugling belly or a toddler in hand or a cross hanging from our necks, a small reminder of a child we held in blessed arms, invisible hands that in our heart and souls. But it's also not limited to our own children. When we are teachers and confidantes, protectors and coaches of people we come to care about in such a way that their value is immeasurable to us, their safety important, their joy our laughter, their sorrows our tears, those, too are our children. They might be students or neighborhood kids, nieces or nephews, grandchildren or any number of small people we meet and grow close with. We can't know when they will become our children, too, when we will recognize that we are also their mother, even if they already have one.

But loves knows. And unbidden, unexpected, it blooms hot and wild in our chest and then we understand what it means to be the mother to a child. It means to have love visit us, sticky and sweet and binding, and to hold us so that we feel awed and awful, amazed by the gift of it and scared of the weight of it. We'd eat it up, we love it so.

This Mother's Day, let go of the false idols and myths of motherhood. Let go of guilt or shame. Let go of infertility, loss, disappointment. Let go of overbearing pride. Let go of the image you've been holding yourself to, the one of the mother who is everything, always, to all of her children. Let go of trying to control and contrive motherhood. And let yourself know and rest in the knowledge that you don't become a mother, motherhood comes to you, a flame in your very core that tests you and proves you, like precious metal in a fire, and connects you in the most special way to a precious child.

It's mother love and it's magic and it's what we all want most for Mother's Day.


Happy Mother's Day from me and Luvs diapers. For years now I've been working with them to spread love and joy to parents who have been in the trenches and have lived to tell about it. We are usually veteran parents, we Luvs lovers, who are less fussy about sterilizing the pacifier after it drops to the floor for the millionth time, and more fussy about seeing our second (or third or fourth or . . .) kid off to preschool for the first time because we know now that it's not about capturing a great picture for Instagram, it's about showing up in case that fluttery, hot feeling bubbles up on our hearts and, embarrassingly, flows out of our eyes. It's okay, we don't mind crying in public now, we understand that those are the best moments.

So, to celebrate this wonderful love, Luvs would like to give one of my readers a $50 gift card. Just enter with the Rafflecopter below. Contest ends at 12 am on 5/16/17. Even if you don't win, you can get a coupon for $1 off of any one diaper pack of Luvs with NightLock.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Luvs, the official diaper of experienced moms (and dads, too) is sharing the luv and offering a great money-saving opportunity with a $1 print-at- home coupon.

o Visit to access a Luvs coupon of $1 off any one diaperpack.

o Print-at- Home coupons expire 30 days from the date the coupon is printed by the consumer.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The official diaper of experienced parents, Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™ are softer and more absorbent than before, with large stretch tabs for easy fastening, ultra-leakage protection and a money-back guarantee.  Luvs provides features babies and parents need for less cost than premium brands.

*This post is sponsored by Luvs, the pay me to write about motherhood, the good, the bad, the stinky, and the sentimental. I agree to it because I really, really like their diapers---I used them on my own kids. All opinions are my own. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

This Valentine's I'm giving my love to the preschool teachers who loved my kids

This post is sponsored by Luvs, who compensates me for my posts.

The benefits of preschool aren't always obvious. I mean, how many scribbly drawings can you "save" in the "circular file"? But if you're lucky enough to have access to a play-based preschool, your kid will learn about self-regulating behaviors, group work, personal management, and peer relationships—all while also learning ABCs and 123s. They will all that learning while getting dirty, running on playgrounds, and singing loudly (and, let's be honest, badly) in the classroom while sitting criss-cross applesauce.

That's because preschool teachers are educational ninjas. Embarrassing case in point:

Me: "My son is doing really well in kindergarten this year. Somehow he learned to read, I guess. I mean, I didn't teach him, he's my fourth kid, ain't no momma got time for that. Hmmm, I wonder where he learned to read..."

Preschool Director: "Do you think he learned it here, Nikki? You know, at the preschool that you sent him to for three years where we read everyday and worked on the skills he'd need to become an independent learner?"

That's score one for preschool, zero for mom of fourth kid who barely remembers his name. Scooter? Buddy? Well, it'll come to me. But the point is that my son, as well as his older sisters, soaked up so many lessons so seamlessly from their preschool teachers that we barely noticed what was happening.

And all of that is down to the women (and men, from time to time), most of them parents themselves, who treat their preschool teaching jobs as a calling, not just a paycheck.

These women work overtime, without pay, because they are invested in other people's kids. Who do you think constructed that pop-up flower cart for a Valentine's unit on commerce through which your kid can play the part of the flower shop owner or the customer, all using paper play money and flowers they worked all week to create from coffee filters and pipe cleaners? Their preschool teacher, that's who.

These women give their tears, time, and talent to other people's kids because they love them, too. Who else is willing to cuddle with your kid at story time, even though he's got a snotty nose working overtime? Their preschool teacher, that's who.

These women teach writing, grouping, letter recognition, good sportsmanship, and to wash hands after going to the bathroom or before eating. They take toddlers on nature walks and let four-year-olds play with the messy stuff that mom and dad try to avoid at home. Sand, paint, water? Preschool teacher's aren't afraid of a big mess.

They understand three-year-old-talk and have bad knees from squatting so they can look little people in the eye when they speak. They laugh when our kids laugh and cry when our kids cry. They give out hugs and kiss booboos and dust our kids off when they fall. Preschool teachers do all that for love, not money.

But that's not all. THEY EVEN CHANGE DIAPERS. I mean, poopy diapers, over-filled diapers, I-eat-solid-foods-now diapers.

Here's to the fearless and fiercely devoted preschool teachers of the world. They have a finger paint handprint on the thigh of their pants and something gooey in their hair, and it looks good on them.

Luvs asked me, as part of their Luvs MVPs (Most Valuable Parents), to #ShareTheLuv with some important moms this Valentine's Day. I asked them, "What if I share it with over a dozen preschool teachers who helped my kids to grow and learn over the last seven years?" No surprise, they Luved the idea.

With some American Express gift cards (supplied by Luvs) I set out to shower over one dozen women with tokens of my appreciation. What does a hard working preschool teacher need . . .

I solemnly swear to give these things to the preschool teachers instead of keeping them for myself. Even though I am also my Valentine.

  • COFFEE. Our preschool teachers and staff recently chipped in for a Keurig. So I'm stocking it up with an assortment of post-playground pick me ups.
  • CHOCOLATE. A bunch of chocolate bars (that's right, BARS) to help the coffee and tea go down? Check. 
  • TREATS. Sweet kettle corn snacks that the teachers don't have to share with their class.
  • HAND SANITIZER. Kids are pretty germy, snotty, and generally gross (in the cutest paossible way). And no matter how good Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™ are at containing leaks, every teacher needs appreciates some hand sanitizer after a particularly intense diaper change. 
  • LUVS. Thanks to my friends at Luvs, our two-year-old classroom will now be stocked with 10 packs of size 6 Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™.
See that baby? Probably some brave preschool teacher changed her diaper the day after she ate asparagus for the first time, I mean, that's a heroic diaper change. #ShareTheLuv

I know this isn't enough. How can I ever really thank these people for loving my kids, even on the tough days and rough days when there were stubborn refusals to share and anxious tears as I waved goodbye? In a world of small moments that make parenting go more smoothly, the love of a preschool teacher for your child ranks among the best of them. And, if you're very lucky, they will even help your pre-k kiddo learn to read.

This Valentine's take a minute to share some gratitude for the moms in your life. Luvs is encouraging parents to “Share the Luv” this February with fellow deserving parents. Also—to make sure everyone gets to share in the Luv—Luvs is offering a great money-saving opportunity with a $1 print-at- home coupon.

The "plus" is not having to change the crib sheets when you go in to change the baby's diaper in the morning. 

  • Visit to access a Luvs coupon of $1 off any one diaper pack.
  • Print the coupon at home and use it at any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold.
  • All Luvs Diapers are included in this particular offer, except trial/travel sized diaper packs.
  • Print-at- Home coupons expire 30 days from the date the coupon is printed by the consumer.

This is a sponsored post, but the opinions are all mine. And my opinion is that Luvs diapers are a premium product with a budget-friendly price. I used them on my kids long before I began working with the Luvs brand.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Let's give thanks for the little (like, tiny teeny) things!

It's Thanksgiving. Cue the #thankful lists on social media. Everyone loves to talk about what they are grateful for, what they love, what they value in life. And that's great. Except sometimes it feels like other people are giving thanks for finally learning to play the harp or a kid who got into college at age 13, when the rest of us are just happy we remembered to pick up the canned cranberry sauce.

You know what? You be thankful for that cylinder of fuchsia jelly. When you've been around the parenting scene for long enough, you know the little things add up to a big ball of grateful.

You're thinking, "But it's Thanksgiving and it feels big and important and shouldn't I be thankful for health and family and 27 people coming to my house for turkey and pie?"

Look deep into your heart. If you had your choice, you'd send everyone out for chicken nuggets on Thursday if it meant you could have 5 minutes just to brush your top teeth and your bottom teeth all in one go without one of your children needing help blowing their nose. That is the big stuff. That's worth a hearty "Thanks!"

Luvs surveyed a group of moms and guess what? We are all counting the little blessings. In fact, we kind of prefer it that way. According to a survey Luvs conducted, we parents would rather shower in peace than have a hot stone massage. Check out this infographic, which basically says that moms would value a full-sized candy bar they can eat while hiding in the trunk of their minivans. That's what they value.

What can we learn from the fact that nearly 2 in 3 moms have never taken a day completely for themselves? We can learn that we will take small doses of added value anyway we can get it. Also that we should really make an effort to find a good sitter.

Luvs discovered that small kindnesses are #WhatULuv. Lean in sister moms and brother dads, here’s more of what we love, of what we value most. Not the pie-in-the-sky stuff of fairytales, but the little victories that get us through the day.

We love hot meals, eaten alone. Even if we have to eat them while hiding in our closets.

We love babies who can be lulled to sleep by a short car ride.

We love it when our kids sneeze into their elbows and not our faces.

We love toddlers who can feed themselves.

We love baby's first full night of sleep after which we remember that sometimes the sun rises before we do.

We love when baby sleeps through the night and stays dry in her Luvs Ultra Leakguard with NightLock Plus.

We love finding that one crayon in the wash before we accidentally slip it into the dryer.

We love babies who are good burpers.

We love kids who think leftover night is the best.

We love clearance rack, wash-n'-wear tee shirts in patterns that mask baby spit-up.

We love when Grandma sends holiday-themed outfits for our infants and they actually fit in the season in which they were intended to be worn.

We love Luvs diapers because they are softer and more absorbent than ever, don’t leak, and don’t cut into our secret snacks budget.

We love it when we can get the baby through the grocery store in same outfit they left the house in.

We love washable art supplies.

We love the official diaper of experienced parents who can leave the house with two kids and less than 576 things in the diaper bag.

We love 5-minute couch naps while the toddler finishes watching cartoons.

We love surviving to see another day full of giggles and minor mishaps and cuddles and creative parenting.

So, this Thanksgiving enjoy #WhatULuv. Do yourself a solid and put an extra jar of store-bought gravy in the saucepan because who cares if the turkey is a little dry when you can drown it in gravy? The time you save not making homemade gravy will give you time to wash and dry your hair before guests arrive. Besides, everyone came for the carbs, not the protein.

And before you go and finish doing all of the things and doing them like a boss, let me invite you to something that will make your life a little easier and more fun. Join a bunch of experienced moms for a #WhatULuv Twitter party hosted by @iConnect and @Luvs, on November 29th, 9-10pm EST to share what you value as a parent. There are sure to be prizes and laughs and you can come in your PJs. 

BUT THERE’S MORE: Download this print-at-home coupon and save $1 on Luvs diapers.

SPONSORED POST ALERT: Happy Thanksgiving from me and my friends at Luvs, who sponsored this post. Yep, I get paid to talk about Luvs, but I talk about Luvs because I’m a Luvs mom. I have four kids and when they were still in diapers, they were in Luvs.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Summer Family Budget (Just Burn Your Money) #spon



Where are you now? In your kitchen? Look around, are there grass clippings on the floor even though your swept 5 minutes ago? Have three children dirtied 23 cups and glasses today? Is half the neighborhood in your living room or backyard?

That's nothing. Summer's real parent gut punch isn't the giggly chaos of feral children on school break, it's the cost of actually living with your children. During the school year, when big kids head to the bus stop and little kids get carpooled to preschool, you aren't really living with your kids so much as running a hostel. A hostel, but instead of a smattering of UN-representative co-eds who don't shower often, it's just your own dirty kids in the mornings, afternoons and weekends.

When summer hits, it's no longer you and the baby waving bye-bye to big sissy. Remember that? It was only a few short weeks ago that you'd bundle off your older children and you and the baby would head to Target to unwind. Now, not only is your house crawling with short people, you can't afford a Target run.

Summer the time of year when the kiddos come home to roost, and it's the time of year when you may as well set your money on fire using a magnifying glass and the unrelenting rays of the sun.

For three seasons out of the year, you have a typical family budget. You spend on groceries and crayons and 27 pairs of gloves and new shoes for that one kid of yours with the abnormally fast-growing feet. But the summer budget is bananas. Not a euphemism, bananas are an actual purchase category along with watermelon and sweet corn and the other fruits and veggies that are in season.

Other line items in the summer family budget are:

  • Theme park admissions
  • Camp registrations
  • Vacation debt
  • Items you need to buy on vacation that you forgot back at home
  • Ice cream and popsicle allotment
  • Flip flop blowout replacement costs
  • Sunblock expenses
  • Sunblock restocking fees
  • Aloe expense
  • Pool toy expenditure
  • Weekly swim goggle replacement costs
  • Swim diaper fund
  • Snack inflation investment
  • Craft origination fees
  • Rash cream fund
  • Slushie fund
  • Impulse buys
  • Souvenir savings

By the time the end of August is here, you'll be seriously considering a second mortgage just so you can buy school supplies.

Unless you you've been smart enough to put your baby in Luvs. Not only because Luvs* keep a baby dry (with large stretch tabs, ultra-leakage protection, and a money-back guarantee), but they do it for less cash than other brands. And you need that cash to buy the baby sun hats that she'll keep ripping off and tossing in the pool while you stand there pushing her around in an inflatable floating unicorn.

The first point is summer is expensive, but your diapers don't have to be. Not only are Luvs affordable when they aren't on sale, this coupon for $2 off via and this Ibotta rebate (download the app on iOS or Android and search for Luvs to unlock the rebate) for $3 off any box of Luvs that's 54-count or larger, make them an even better deal. Now you have money leftover to spend on new beach towels, which you need because last year's towels smell funny.

The second point is that Luvs wants to help our with some of those summer budget line items by giving away ALL THIS COOL STUFF. Two people who enter this giveaway will win:
So go save here and here or here. Go enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter down there. And go take your summer cash flow back.

* Luvs is sponsoring this post, by the way, and not just because they like me, but because I was a Luvs mom when my kids were in diapers and I know they work and are affordable. So, compensation by Luvs, humor and opinions by Nicole Leigh Shaw. Also, this disclaimer: Luvs has only provided me with the product that I am using as the prizes for this giveaway. By entering the following giveaway you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a Luvs PR and shipping agency for the purpose of mailing your prize. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closure date to receive your prize.