Walt Disney World via Selfies by MommyQ

We recently visited Disney World in Orlando after Thanksgiving for a pre-holiday vacay. Lots of fun to be had, but sadly I forgot to pack my selfie stick. Booo! I did actually see a few other folks with their selfie sticks, so I knew it would’ve been fun. Oh well. Mom brain.

Anyhoo, we managed to snap a few shots between the lines, FastPass stress, expensive food, small thunderstorms, character meetings, way too many strollers, lack of alcohol and…oh, wait….I digress. Yes, I took a few selfies on the rides themselves. I learned some stuff too. #1 – I’m awful at taking selfies. #2 – The spinning tea cups still make me feel like I’m gonna puke.

It was a great trip and seeing Cinderella Castle “Frozen” with the amazing parade and fireworks was worth it! Still magical after all of these years…

Disney World Tomorrowland, Cathy Hale, MommyQ, Cathy Hale AustinWe’re all buckled in for a drive in Tomorrowland Speedway. Let’s just say I’m really glad none of my kids are driving anytime soon.. Space Mountain, Disney World, MommyQ, Cathy HaleThe best ride, especially on a rainy day, was the PeopleMover! We must have been on that ride 8-9 times, because the kids loved drive through Space Mountain and seeing the inside of the famous coaster without riding it. This was right before we were hurled into the darkness…at like 2mph…ha-ha!

Small World ride, Disney World, MommyQIt’s a Small World after all….it’s a small, small world….

Dang the Mad Tea Party and those spinning tea cups! I almost puked twice and dropped my phone into oblivion four times. This was captured mid-spin. Obviously, we are having a horrible time. 😉

Cinderella Castle Frozen

This pic doesn’t do the “Frozen” Cinderella Castle justice, because in person the purple/blue icicles are really amazing. Disney World definitely knows how to do Christmas. Just wish they knew how to do eggnog too…

Steele LT Football players

Five Years Beyond Autism Diagnosis: High Hopes & Happiness

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, thanks to a very intense full-time job. I love it, but it certainly takes up most of my time. Anyway, for those of you that have followed MommyQ, you know I have an autistic son. He was diagnosed at the age of three and now he’s eight years old! Wow! Over the last five years, I’ve talked to so many parents about autism. The one piece of advice I give over and over again is, “Take it one day at a time.”  There’s no need to worry needlessly into the future, because it does nothing for you. Make each day count and be thankful for every milestone. It may sound too simple, but when you’re trying to live in the moment, simple is good.

If you had asked me where my son would be now as far as school, sports, etc, my outlook was originally bleak. Not because I’m a pessimistic person, but because autism is such a mysterious reality. The good news is he’s doing great. (You can see his smiling face in the photo above – he’s in the light blue shirt, posing with our high school football team.) Thanks to a solid support system of friends, family and community, he is thriving.  He learns in a regular classroom with one-on-one help as needed. He reads, writes, does math and enjoys science. He’s faster on a computer or iPhone/iPad than I am. He can play tennis and soccer and swims like a fish. A few months ago, he started Kung Fu and today his skills are impressive, not to mention he uses a staff. It’s like having my own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle! He’s learning a routine for his school’s Talent Show, so I’m very excited for him.

I remember the days when he hardly spoke, couldn’t complete directions, didn’t take interest in the world around him and had minimal physical strength. He existed in his own world and we desperately fought to bring him out of it. Today, he’s a normal kid who loves chocolate cake, hates cauliflower, fights with his little brother and blushes when a female classmate gives him a hug. His perspective of the world will always be different, but different isn’t bad. I’ve learned that a big dose of hope brings happiness. Keep your chin up.

Breast Milk Baby Doll: Let’s Hear Dad’s Perspective

breastfeeding doll MommyQ

If you haven’t heard the buzz about this new doll, I’ll break it down for you. Breast Milk Baby is a doll that allows little girls to simulate the act of breast-feeding. And as you can imagine, this toy is creating waves of controversy as it will soon be available in the US. So what’s the big deal about another doll? I mean, we already have plenty of dollies that eat, pee and poop. Well, it could be the vest with sensors to trigger nursing or the suckling sounds or the fact that little girl can loosely experience latching. Pick one. Here’s a recent article from ABC News.

Today, I spoke with FOX 7 about it and shared my thoughts as not only a mother, but a mother who happens to know a lot about baby products. I even posted something on Facebook about my impending interview, which created its own little swirl of debate. This is a controversial doll for many reasons. Instead of exploring the obvious, I thought it was far more interesting to hear reactions about the doll from dads. After all, dads shower their daughters with gifts. Will they buy Breast Milk Baby for their daughters? One dad added his two cents to my lively Facebook discussion by posting the following:

“Don’t want to drag another ‘party’ to the discussion unknowingly… But having had this very discussion today…. It’s not about sexuality or nourishment as much as it seems to be about the publicity of it. Should be private and between a mom and child, not public and out for display for everyone to share. I think public display kind of sensationalizes it. Back to the doll – is that the right WAY to send the message or teach our children? My girls will never own one of these, but you can bet they will know everything they want and need to about breastfeeding and discretion.”

Bravo, daddy! I think he illustrates great points and let’s face it, dads are an integral part of parenting, so why dismiss their feelings? Many dads seem to be annoyed by the doll, because they feel young girls don’t need to experience something reserved for grown women. It’s simply too much, too soon. Other dads think there is a shady sexual undertone that just makes them feel slightly ill. Loving daddies might not want to imagine their sweet little girls as mothers quite yet, especially with all of the valid fears of teenage pregnancies.

Weigh in, dads! What do you think about this doll? Will you buy it for your daughter?

Marths Speaks Talking Dog Soup

Martha Speaks Dog Days of Summer: Viewing Party & New Episodes

Marth Speaks PBS
What do you get when you combine alphabet pasta, 10 dogs, 10 excited kiddos, aliens that drink lemonade through their ears and vocabulary words? Well, a Martha Speaks viewing party, of course. Thanks to the fabulous folks at PBS, we had a “sneak peek” viewing party of two new summer episodes that will begin airing tomorrow, June 27th on PBS.

If you haven’t met Martha yet, this is a great opportunity to introduce your children to this clever and well-spoken canine. This week will feature new episodes of Martha enjoying outdoor activities like camping, canoeing and watching fireworks with her friends. We got to see Martha’s Slumber Party of the Weird and The Long Rotten Summer/The Case of the Shattered Vase. In addition to the entertaining stories and great vocabulary words, kids also learn why they shouldn’t watch scary movies right before going to bed. (A lesson I should revisit myself.) Look at those cuties playing with their new plush Martha pups!

New Martha Speaks Episodes

Summer Fun Week:
Monday, June 27th – Martha’s Slumber Party of the Weird (2 parts)
Tuesday, June 28th – Martha puts Out the Lights (2 parts)
Wednesday, June 29th – Escape from Flea Island/ No Dogs Allowed
Thursday, June 30th – Martha in the Hold/Get Along, Little Doggies!
Friday, July1st – The Long Rotten Summer/The Case of the Shattered Vase

Click, click, click:
Don’t forget to visit Martha Speaks online for terrific games
. My son’s new favorite? Make The Band. It’s hilarious!
Watch my son’s impromptu interview about why he loves Martha Speaks
Martha has gone mobile! You can download Martha Speaks Dog Party App.


Disclaimer: PBS did supply me with a DVD of the new episodes and 10 swag bags. My opinions are my own. If I didn’t personally love this talkative pup, I wouldn’t write about it. Promise.

Who Wants to Raise a Bully? Moms Who Are Also Bullies

“Come get me if they give you any crap.”

As a parent, I often learn valuable lessons by simply observing the actions of others. For example, this is why my hubby will never exercise shirtless at a park. On a serious note, I witnessed the epitome of “what not to do” parenting last week at the pool. Before I explain my story, I’m assuming none of us want to raise a bully. Right? We all know the actions of a bully may not leave physical scars, but the mental abuse can leave lifelong wounds or worse. Well, this jackass of a mom didn’t get the memo…

At the table next to me, I overheard a teenage boy tell him mom that a group of girls were playing with his inner-tube. First, as moms we all know toys at the pool are community property. That’s the law. Second, the boy was 13-15 and the girls playing with inner-tube were 6-years-old. I know this because they’re my son’s friends. Sweet, innocent and young girls. The floatie was abandoned in the pool and they started playing with it. These things happen.

My head was on a swivel as soon as I heard the mother tell her son in a very unkind tone, “Well, that’s your toy, so go get it! What are you standing there for?! Go get your toy.”

The boy wasn’t feeling comfortable with her response and you could tell he wished he hadn’t said anything about it. He said, “No, mom. You know. It’s okay. They’re having fun and I’m going to sit with you for a while and take a break.”

The mom retorted, “No, you’re not. Go get your butt in the pool and tell those girls that’s your toy. Do it! Come get me if they give you any crap.”

A mom (who happens to be a bully) was bullying her son (who was trying to be nice) into being a bully. Omg. There are so many things wrong with this on so many levels, I can’t even address it all. My head was spinning. I couldn’t even believe it. Yeah, watch out for 6-year-old girls giving a teen boy “crap” about an inner-tube. I’m sure they would’ve pounced on him and screamed “NO WAY!” at the top of their lungs. Classic pathetic motherhood moment. I wanted to reach out and slap that woman. I wanted to shake her and yell, “Do you even realize what you’re doing? Why do people like you procreate?” Yes, she made me want to be a bully. I get the irony.

Why wouldn’t she offer to assist her son and help him initiate the conversation with the girls? He was obviously feeling bad about ruining the fun. Instead of mediating and helping him grow, she just bullied him and bullied him. She wasn’t nice or sensitive or caring in any way, shape or form. She was a jerk and she was trying to force her son to be one too. Oh, and here’s her memo from me, MommyQ:

stop bullies

I really wish she had looked at my reaction to her during the ordeal, because I was saving up a super-duper eye roll/disapproving scowl for her. My brows were poised in the ultimate furrow position. She would’ve probably said something rude to me and I would’ve happily told her to bite me. It would’ve been a spectacular, “Jersey-Shore-Real-Housewives-table-tossing-hair-pulling” moment. Sadly, it didn’t happen. And sadly, that poor boy knows the example she is setting is wrong, yet his smart choices go unnoticed. Sad for everyone.

Let’s kick bullying to the curb, people. Learn more at StopBullying.gov.

Family Movie Night: Field of Vision Airs Tonight on NBC

Walmart and P&G movies

“Sometimes being a leader is tougher than winning.” That’s a pretty important lesson for children to understand. Thanks to Walmart and P&G bringing back Family Movie Night, the made-for-TV movie, “Field of Vision,’ will bring that message home. The movie boasts a star-studded cast like Faith Ford (Murphy Brown) and tackles serious issues like bullying. It will air tonight (June 11th) on NBC at 8pm ET/ 7pm CT.

I was lucky enough to attend a behind-the-scenes movie event as a guest of Walmart and P&G a few years ago and after speaking with the producers, writers and actors, their passion for family-friendly entertainment was evident. Family Movie Night films like “Field of Vision” address topics relevant to all families in an attempt to provide not only a fun experience for the viewers, but an opportunity for parents to start a dialogue with their kids about these issues. As the mom of two young boys who, I appreciate their dedication.

Here’s a synopsis of the movie:

Through mysterious footage captured on an old malfunctioning video camera, Sinclair High School’s star quarterback, Tyler McFarland, learns that some of his teammates have been bullying Cory Walker, a troubled new transfer student. Aware that sharing this information with the coach might get his friends kicked off the team and ultimately cost the school the state championship, Tyler must choose what’s more important: winning or doing what’s right.

As these events unfold, the camera also reveals more surprising footage to Tyler’s kid sister Lucy… She learns that Cory has a secret past, unknown even to him. Now Lucy must convince her mom (Faith Ford, Murphy Brown) and family that the camera’s revealing insight is not a product of her imagination as she enlists their help to find the answers Cory so desperately needs. It’s a compelling and intriguing story that shows both the challenges and rewards of doing the right thing even when it’s tough to do.

Tune in tonight on NBC and don’t be afraid to start a conversation!

Walmart and P&G did provide me with viewing materials, so I could participate in this Family Movie Night event. All of these opinions are my own.

Why We Love Martha Speaks: Unscripted Video Proof

If you follow MommyQ at all, you know I’m a huge fan of PBS shows. In fact, a few months ago I caught a hilarious moment on video of my kiddos playing Martha Speaks games online They were laughing so much, I assumed they were up to no good. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they were playing educational games online. A mother’s dream, right?

Earlier last week, I got an email that instantly caught my attention. “New Studies Show PBS KIDS Martha Speaks Has Impressive Impact on Children’s Vocabulary.” I excitedly read the findings and wanted to share them with my readers. Now remember, I have no connection with PBS. This is just one mom’s sincere love for a smart, talkative, yellow cartoon dog.

My experience is a bit different from other parents, because my oldest son is autistic. At the age of 4-years-old, he was hardly talking and strangers couldn’t understand him at all. That’s why we get very giddy when he likes shows like Martha Speaks that actually make a big effort to help his development. Now this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but here’s proof of how far he’s come. He’s 6-years-old now and just finished kindergarten. I asked him (totally on-the-fly), what he thinks about Martha Speaks. Get a load of this….


Study Results
Three recent independent studies highlight the impressive impact that Martha Speaks is having on young childrens’ vocabulary development, and its strength as an early-intervention tool across broadcast and online platforms. These studies not only measured the impact on children who viewed episodes of the show, but additionally saw a significant increase in vocabulary skills among children playing with the Martha Speaks Dog Party iPhone app.

A few notable takeaways from the studies include:
• On average, children who watched Martha Speaks had a significantly greater increase in vocabulary knowledge compared to children who did not watch the show.
• Martha Speaks is an effective tool in helping bridge the vocabulary gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers.
• Martha Speaks facilitates inexpensive language opportunities at home.
• Program-specific vocabulary knowledge translated into higher standardized vocabulary scores for urban boys and rural children living in low socioeconomic-status homes.
• Children 3-to-7 years-old who played with the Martha Speaks Dog Party app tested up to 31 percent higher in vocabulary.
• Children were able to retain the increased vocabulary, and showed even greater gains on targeted words weeks after the study ended.

These studies are now available on the PBS KIDS website.