Dear Mom in Aisle 5

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Dear mom in aisle 5, yeah you, with the baby and totally rambunctious toddler.

Dear lordy, do I feel your pain…especially when you beg them to “Get back here right now.”

I understand your strain…when they won’t listen.

I know why you’re not even trying to crack a fake smile.

Or pretend to leisurely walk through the aisle.

Or trying to do anything but LEAVE THE STORE AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE.

With the kids.

And your reusable bags.

And your dignity.

I feel you.

I hear you.

Heck, I WAS you.

I just want you to know that I’ve been there.

We’ve ALL been there.

And it’s OKAY.canstockphoto0273927

You can slap me, but just as the saying goes, I want you to know that this too shall pass.

(Heck, it feels like it passes way too fast when your kids are 11 and 14.)

Even though right now, what you’re going through feels like eternity.

Oh yes, some days, when you have really little ones, the present doesn’t always feel like a gift.

Especially when you’ve had four hours of sleep.

No, the present feels more like a suburban-space ball of snot, chasing and whines. Along with a few hugs, strolls and smiles.

You’re barely holding it together some days, while others you’re on top of the world.

You can throw your middle finger at me, but all I have to say is, hang in there.

Just please have a little faith.

Because one day, they will stop acting like little crazy people.

One day, they will actually stop begging for gum on the way out the door.

One day, believe it or not, they will stop wanting to go with you to the store.

You will no longer feel mortified when you see the entrance sign.

Or worried that people will stare at the mere hint of a whine.

Because one day, you will forget about the sh*tty shopping trips.

The rushing, the trials, the germy licks.

And you’ll stare at the mom with two little tots who act a lot like yours did today.

And you’ll probably give her a wink, a nod, and even a friendly “holy-crap-I’ve-so-been-there-and-I-so-totally-feel-you” wave.

Like I did to you when you weren’t looking today in Aisle 5.

Lame mom alert: Were you fun before you had kids?

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Did you used to be fun?

I used to be fun.

Or at least in MY MIND I was fun.

I could go out and have a few drinks with my husband and friends, eat OUT at a *swanky restaurant (*OK, “swanky” enough for struggling workaholics living paycheck-to-paycheck in the city), and sometimes, if we took a cab home, we’d even go DANCING. Hello, we’d even go out for Happy Hour in the MIDDLE of the week. But we’d get up at 6:30 a.m., work out and rock a full 10-hour work day. I’d pop a couple Advils, down a cup of tea and I was fine. Ready to tackle some Mad Men-style-for-the-90’s public relations campaigns. Sometimes, I might grab a glob of carbs from the local barista to keep me going until lunch, but for the most part, I was fun.

But since I have become a mother…. No, wait, let me autocorrect that statement: Since I have become a 40-something mother, things have changed.

Drastically.

Let’s just say my lame meter is high. And my fun factor has calmed down.

Depreciated.

Deflated like a week-old balloon.

So much so, some weeks, I fear I’m turning into an octogenarian.

How lame of a mother AM I, you ask? I’ll tell you.

1. I’ll start listening to the Oldies station without even realizing it’s the Oldies.

2. I was belting out a song by Foreigner at a stop light the other day and realized a car full of 20-somethings were pointing, staring AND laughing. At ME. (Not with me, AT ME!)

3. Going to see a live band that starts at 9 p.m. used to be a once-a-week tradition, now I’m lucky if I catch a concert twice a YEAR. (And Lord help me if it STARTS at 9 p.m.)

4. I saw Neil Diamond in concert recently. And yes, I KNEW EVERY SONG. (Thankfully, the show was over by 10:30 p.m.)

5. I down two beers and feel like my head has been invaded by a VW Bug full of ass hats 12 hours later.

6. I get a migraine from red wine. And Margaritas.

7. My body can only tolerate beer and champagne now. And by champagne, only the good stuff. If it’s cheap, fu-gedda-boud-it.

8. When I do go out, I need 7 hours of sleep. IN A ROW. If I don’t get it, I’m really, really, really cranky the next day (and feel like my head has been invaded by a VW bus full of ass clowns).

9. Referring back to #8, do you know how hard it is for a 44-year-old-work-from-home-mother-of-two-human-and-two-canine-kids to actually sleep for four hours straight, let alone 7? Don’t even talk to me about my sleep patterns or night sweats during pre-PMS weeks.

10. If I stay up past 11 p.m., it’s a really, really, really big deal. As in: I might NEED a nap the next afternoon.

11. If I don’t get a chance to take a nap in the afternoon (even for 10 minutes), please revert back to #8 and toss me a vat of cheese dip, a bag of lime-seasoned Tortilla chips and leave me alone to wallow in my over-44-hormonal-misery to binge watch TLC. Thank you very much.

Yes, things have definitely changed since we had kids.

Especially since turning 44.

We still have FUN. But it’s a lot different these days.

We have fun doing simple things.

Like bike riding to the beach to catch the sunset with my 11-year-old.

Meeting the girls for brunch.

Hosting a group of tweens for a pool and pizza party.

And watching the sunrise with my husband from our back porch.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed taking my daughter and her friends to see the premiere of Pitch Perfect 2 the other night. I’m sorry, but Rebel (a.k.a. Fat Amy) makes me belly laugh.

Don’t get me wrong. I still enjoy a night out with good friends. Or date night with my husband (who makes me laugh until I tinkle). Even if it’s twice a month rather than twice a week!

I guess I can still be fun.

As long as I’m home by 10 p.m. ;)

When was the last time you did this?

Going away is one thing. But going away without your kids?

Now that’s what I call a vacation.

I have a little secret: I just went away ON A VACATION for a few days.

Oh yes, a girls’ trip, without the kids. Or husband. Or dogs.

A mini-vacation is better than a spoonful of Nutella wrapped in a crepe with five layers of whipped cream. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids. Adore them. My husband too. But I had not been away from them (for longer than a day here and there) for years. Years I tell you. Life is good, but after this “shiningly, Heeerre’s Johnny” snowy winter we had here in Rhode Island, let’s just say it was best for everyone that I got away for a couple days with some of my best friends.

So I planned a getaway in the Oregon coast, (yes, as in 3,000 miles away), with some very dear friends. Although two out of five of us couldn’t make the trip, three of us did. It was practically a miracle! And although it took me 26 hours to get there in a near-John-Candy-and-Steve-Martin-style-planes-refueling-cancelled-flights-with-trains-shuttles-hotels-and-automobiles journey, thankfully I made it in one piece. A little sleep deprived, but I made it to Portland. And we had a blast. Now, given that we are all between the ages of 44 and 50, there was no need to have a raging party. Yes, there was champagne. And seafood. And a breathtaking view of the Oregon coast thanks to a friend of a friend’s family beach house. There was, more importantly, much-needed reuniting, talking, chit-chatting, giggling and some venting, eating, walking, shopping, laughing, and more champagne. Who cares what we did. All I know is it was wonderful. IMG_6197 (2) blog

But more than anything, we experienced the kind of girl-time therapy that you just can’t get when you’re at home working, managing a house and taxiing kids around day in and day out.

All I know is I needed this trip. Really, really, really badly.

And you know that’s all I ask for, especially as Mother’s Day approaches?

Not a sense of justification. Or satisfaction. Or a “Pack your bags, I’m going on a guilt trip”.

Nah.

None of those things matter to me.

All I needed was the simplicity, the joy of reuniting with girlfriends who GET me.

Friends who honestly GET me.

Friends who understand what I’m trying to say, even if I don’t “land the plane” and get to a point right away.

The best is when you alternate not-landing-the-plane together, and go off on oh-m-g-random-girl-time-tangents and then end up laughing so hard you can hardly breathe because you totally understand where the plane is even though you landed it in a completely different place than you originally intended. (Don’t worry if you didn’t get this, it’s all good.)

The kind of friends who know YOU. And like you anyway. ;)

They laugh endlessly WITH you.

They like you, in a most Bridget Jones-kind-of-I-get-you-way, just the way you are.

And that is something that gives me such a sense of happiness.

Of rejuvenation.

And joy.

Life is so good.

When you have friends who make you laugh.

Until you almost pee.

That’s when you know you’re going to be OK.

Friends you know you can call a month from now, and can catch up in 30 seconds and pick up where you left off.

I feel blessed to have a lot of friends like this across the country. Some right here in little old Rhody and New England. You know who you are. But there is something so special about making a plan to get away with dear friends you don’t see every day. (Like when I got to see my friend in Arizona in February. It was so fabulous!)

Friends you know you’ll have until you’re old and crinkly.

Lifelong friends are worth re-connecting with, even if you only get to see them once in a while.

All I can say is if I seemed a little cranky over the winter, this trip helped. A LOT.

It helped remind me that life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

After a non-eventful planes, trains and automobiles return trip home, my husband says to me, “I don’t know how you do it.”

“What do you mean?”

“The dishes,” he says. “The dogs. The kids. Everything.”

I didn’t know what to say, except, “Thank you.”

This man is my life partner of nearly 20 years. He helps out. Although I do tend to be the one who Mr. Cleans the toilets, vacuums the floors and scrubs dishes every day, the fact that he was 100% supportive of me getting away meant the world to me. He took over, and aside from our puppy devouring dinner one night while he went to fetch the laundry, he did a tremendous job playing Mr. Mom. He rocks!

When you’re a mom, you do a lot. And sometimes you take on too much. Sometimes, you tend to do so much, you end up creating an unnecessary hamster wheel of things, making life even crazier. I was guilty of this….and knew it was time to unwind…and not feel guilty about it.

Because I know I’m a better mom and a better wife for it.

Do me a favor. Call a friend you haven’t seen in years. Not a text. Or a Facebook message. Pick up the phone. Maybe see if you can plan a trip. Even if it’s a year from now. Or two. Or five. I promise you won’t be sorry. Now have yourself a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Why You Need to Listen to Your Mother April 30

I can’t believe it’s been two years since I experienced the Listen to Your Mother show in Providence. I’m so proud of the women, my talented friends, who are co-producing this year’s show on April 30 at The Lincoln School, featuring original readings by local writers in celebration of motherhood. I have to give a virtual “Go girl” hug to my 2013 Listen to Your Mother sisters, Kirsten DiChiappariLauren Palizzolo JordanBrianne DeRosa and my blogging friend Chelley Martinka, who are all co-producers of the 2015 Providence Listen to Your Mother Show! (And another big-fellow-Texan-hug to my publisher and friend, Lane Buckman, for her LTYM performance in Austin, which I can’t wait to see on YouTube!)

Hats off to this year’s cast: Sarah Bouvier, Meri E. Brady, Bri DeRosaKirsten DiChiappari, Angela Flynn, Rebecca Ladd, Jay Potter, Allison Seed, Deborah Stoloff, Melissa Thompson and Anne Wert.

I’m so sad that I will miss the show this year due to an already planned trip, but I will be rooting them on the entire flight (as I skim through SkyMall and snack on pretzels).

To buy tickets and find out more about this year’s show on Thursday, April 30, visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1365147 By the way, the national show is founded and directed by rock star Ann Imig, of http://annimig.com/.

You can find Kirsten at http://www.thequeenoftheearth.com/, Lauren at http://www.dontlickthetrashcan.com/, Brianne here http://www.redroundorgreen.com/ and Chelley Martinka at http://aisforadelaide.com/.

The bond formed with my Listen to Your Mother sisters in 2013 was real. It was special. And it was beyond words, yet it was all about the words we read aloud for the world to hear. The experience of being a part of this national show that gives Mother’s Day a microphone struck a chord within all of us, as we swallowed our butterflies, sweat and fears before taking the stage together.2013-04-29 10.33.21

I thought it would be fitting to re-post something I wrote about in the days following my experience in 2013:

I’m still trying to come down from the natural high of being a part of the Listen to Your Mother Providence 2013 show. I feel like a second-grader waving goodbye as the last guest leaves my birthday party. There’s nothing left but deflated balloons, dented ribbons and a half-devoured birthday cake.

And a heart that burns.

Not from too much cake, but for the party to last a little longer.

Not for the presents, but for the present, to last…just a little bit longer.

I’m still reeling from the entire experience. Thirteen amazing women. All with a story to share. Original stories shared in celebration of motherhood. Of its struggles. Its highs, its lows, and everything in between. My mom and dad were so sweet, they flew in for the show! An early Mother’s Day gift!

And I got to see a ton of familiar faces, from my family to Rhody Blogger friends (Tera Norberg, Carina Aggor, Melissa Pezza, Jen Senecal, Chelley Martinka, Jodi Williston to name a few). I’m so grateful.

Today, I feel so sad to say goodbye to my show sistahs.

Together, we giggled. We cried. We laughed until we almost peed. From auditions to rehearsals, we shared our insecurities. Our worries. Funny vents. Silly side stories. Then show day, the butterflies. Natural remedies. The fears. The hairspray. And oh so much more. We gave motherhood a microphone.

We are friends 4-eva. We are LTYM sisters.

We got to be a part of something that was simply magical.

You know the saying, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”?

When I think about the Listen to Your Mother show, this old (and not quite accurate saying) couldn’t be more true. (And yes, Kirsten, this made me think of you and your piece!)

The whole experience, from audition to final show, was so much greater than the sum of the parts. And each cast member, although amazingly talented on their own, shined a little brighter when we performed as a group. One presenter flowed to the next, sharing something different. Something special. A part of themselves. Even people from the audience could tell you that there was something wonderful…a roller-coaster of emotions (in a good way)…going on in that auditorium.

I just have to say a special thank you to all my show sisters, for their courage and tenacity. Their wisdom and words.

Thank you, (in no particular order) Kelly Baraf,  Jennifer Ciplet, Laura Rossi, Jessica Severson, Carla Molina, Alicia Kamm, Kirsten DiChiappari, Lauren Jordan, Stephanie Lazenby, Brianne DeRosa, Lexi Magnusson, Phyllis Kim Myung, and the poetic queen, Marian Kent.

Thank you, co-producers and co-directors, Laura Rossi and Carla Molina, for creating an incredible ensemble and experience, and for performing such memorable pieces too. And for seeing the real me, quirks, fast-talking, self-deprecating, whisper-yells and all. Thank you for giving me a chance to say my piece (and my peace) on stage. I love you all!

Mommy Paws

Best Actress winner Julianne Moore was quoted at the 2015 Oscars for admitting, “My dogs are more work than my kids”.

Although I have been known to buy magazines just because this actress is on the cover, after she said this, it made me swoon over Julianne even Moore. (Have I mentioned that both Julianne and I have pale skin? Um, hello, we’re practically twins.)

OK, I get that kids are hard. But right now, aside from some emotional exhaustion, (mine and theirs), I have to say my children are at ideal ages right now. When your kids get older: They wipe their own boogers, bums and dishes (thankfully not in that order). When they’re past toddlerhood, take my advice: TRAVEL WITH THEM AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. Aside from being embarrassed by the fact that you’re singing Madonna’s “Holiday” while blocking the aisle, they still like you.

As Mommy Law has it, because motherhood has granted me a temporary pause from total (physical) mommy exhaustion, a new kind of paws has entered my life:

Two dogs.

Not just one. But two.

Both Goldens. After taking home a beautiful female English cream puppy, Maggie, a couple months ago, I have to say I’m in love.

And effing exhausted.

Yes, as a family, we get to snuggle two adorable dogs.

We love them very much.

I’m so proud …and pooped.

Did I mention that we now have two dogs?

Not just one, but two.

My oldest canine son, Marley, is a handsome (and he knows it) five-year-old Golden. If you come over, he will “greet” you by basically making out with your hand. He doesn’t bite. Just sucks on your palm, arm or sleeve. And when I’m on the phone, he barks at me.

So Maggie and Marley are buddies now. They nap together. Play together. Wrestle together (not like that!).

Buuuuutttt… I’m also dealing with two of everything now.

Twice the amount of pond-water drenched dog hair.

Twice the fur balls.

Twice the urine.

Twice the in-house bombs.

Twice the lawn poopsicles.

Twice the car trouble. As in, Maggie tends to cry in the car. Every time we drive somewhere. And she got a little nervous going to the groomers recently and I don’t think my car will ever be smell the same.

And twice the “incidents”. Let’s just say we used to have 23 ducks in our front “huge puddle pond,” but now it’s deserted.

I haven’t slept well in I don’t know how many weeks, my eyes have turned to slits. And I have cleaned up so many messes while trying to house-train this puppy during the WORST WINTER EVER, my hands look like they belong on the “before” shot in a Palmolive commercial.

Hmmmm. This feels very familiar. All of this exhaustion reminds me of something. A certain time in my life when I thought I was going a little wacky.

Out-of-my-mind.

Ah, yes.

Toddlerhood.

So, in case you’re thinking about getting a second dog, I’ve created this little list for you. Just give it a little glance over. Give it a little pause. And hopefully I’ll have this puppy house-trained by Labor Day!2015-02-14 19.11.57

Why puppies are like toddlers:

  • They whine.
  • They pee.
  • They poop.
  • They get into everything.
  • If they can’t reach, they FIND ways to get into everything.
  • They get noisy when you’re on the phone.
  • They make it impossible for you to leave the house.
  • They misbehave when they want attention.
  • They’re not afraid to test your patience.
  • They leave stains on your clothes, rugs, couch, etc.
  • They want to eat all the time.
  • They ruin your furniture, pants, shoes and rugs.
  • They drain every ounce of energy left in you.
  • They keep you up at night.
  • They help you justify cleaning up “doody” with your bare hands.
  • Same thing goes for eye-snot.
  • And runny noses too.
  • No matter how many times you light a candle, you can still tell smell when they last went.
  • They’re so cute, they make you forget what they just did.
  • When they nap, it’s as if everything they do is erased.
  • When they look up at you, and turn their little head to the side, you know you’re in big trouble.
  • As soon as they’re fast asleep, you’re in love again.
  • And ready to face another day of toddler mommy denial.

On Mommie Diarist, Hangers and a New Book of Essays

Does the phrase, “NO WIRE HANGERS!” ring a bell?

Ah, yes, Mommie Dearest. Only I’m not talking about the movie, I’m talking about a new book that Lane Buckman and Robyn Rasberry are releasing on April 7 from Robyn Lane Books called Mommie Diarist.

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Mommie Diarist is about the good, the bad, and the boldfaced.  It is a collection of honest essays about the hardest and best job in the world: Being a mother. And I’m honored to be a contributing author in this book of essays along with the talented Virginia WoodruffEmily ReeseDona Hightower PerkinsGina Curvin, Sheila Rosenberg, Susan Olson, Nanci RathbunSharon Laidlaw-AlmaguerKristin Vanderhey ShawRobyn Rasberry and Lane Buckman. Another talented contributing author that unintentionally was left off the list last week? Meredith McGee from http://unchartedwatersmom.com/.

You can find my essay “Mom Genes” in the book, which comes out April 7!

Here’s a classic clip from the movie Mommy Dearest in celebration of the release of the book, Mommie Diarist, edited by Robyn Lane Books: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc

Click here to order the book MOMMIE DIARIST from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

And in case you’re wondering, I’m working on my second book as well, to be released by Robyn Lane Books this fall!

A little side note: If you ever feel like you’re a bad mom, watch the movie Mommie Dearest again. If you ever feel like you’re getting a little soft in the parental disciplining area, watch this movie. No word of a lie, you will feel like the world’s most loving, giving mother. Faye Dunaway is so good at playing a crazy, obsessive and abusive mother, I spent the better part of my childhood thinking she actually was insane. (But I know now that she’s just one heck of an actress!) I would like to take this opportunity to say to my children that you can have all the wire, padded or wooden hangers you want. All the toys you want. I honestly don’t care how you hang your clothes. Nor do I ever want to see either of you scrub the bathroom floor until your knuckles burn. Because I love you unconditionally.

Snow More: 12 Things to like about this (effing) snow

Everywhere you look, there’s snow. Not just an inch or so. But piles.

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Even my dogs are tired of it.

It’s stacked so high, there’s practically nowhere else for them to go!

If you close your eyes for a minute, you’d swear you’re in Russia and not Rhode Island. (And no, I don’t mean, in a Chicken-of-the-Sea-Jessica-Simpson-way that I think Russia is actually geographically close to us. I simply mean this place is starting to look a lot like the set of Rocky IV.)

We went to Arizona a couple weeks ago, and I’m surprised we came back. Yeah yeah, so the kids had school and practice and we have work and other responsibilities. But it was so awesome to be in a warm climate during the winter. Especially THIS winter. I think the Vitamin D overload from all the Arizona sun made me delirious. That has to be the only reason I made it to the airport.

Growing up in Texas, I have to admit I appreciate having four separate seasons. Rather than Houston’s Summer-Spring-Summer-Spring we actually have Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring here in Rhode Island. But it has taken me YEARS to get used to winter. Every year, I’m still surprised at just how long the winter lasts. I think I stay in a perpetual state of Vitamin-D-deficiency-induced denial. When we first moved back to ‘lil Rhody 11 years ago, I’ll never forget showing up at work in sandals. It was after Easter, so I kind of had a Stacy-and-Clinton-what-to-wear Texas style obligation. (It was 45 degrees when I left the office.) Had it not been for my space-heater, I think I would have lost my toes.

In Texas, we’d go back-to-school shopping for fall clothes when it was 95 degrees outside. We shopped for cute long-sleeve Contempo Casual tops and Forenza sweaters because we got chilled from the blasted air conditioning.

God I miss those days.

Although it rained part of the time we were in Arizona, when the sun did finally make its debut, it stayed. For days. And as I lay poolside sipping a Heineken, that Arizona sun pumped me up with so much Vitamin D, I was on a natural high that made Kelly Ripa look depressed.

Unfortunately, it’s been a couple weeks since we’ve been home and my sunshine-buzz wore off about as fast as a mall manicure.

As February break comes to an end, (yahoooo!) I have to say, I’ve had it. This white stuff is pretty and all, but I’m kind of done. I’m happy it’s melting. Yes, it can go away now. And although I love my children dearly, they can go back to school now too. I’ve been shoveling and hosting so many play dates, I’ve been falling into my bed at night from exhaustion. I’m already rehearsing my morning “bu-byes”.

But as my husband always reminds me, you can find the positive in anything if you just put your mind to it.  (Dang it! Why is he always right?!) OK, OK, there are SOME things I LIKE about the snow.

12 Things to LIKE about the snow:

  1. If you forgot to do the leaves in November, no one will notice until March.
  2. You can wear the same pants for several days in a row and no one will ever know.
  3. If you have pale skin, you can hibernate like a vampire until the spring.
  4. You can go weeks, even months without a pedicure and I promise it will NOT matter.
  5. Got staticky hair? Just throw on a hat. Waah lah, you’re good to go.
  6. If you went a little overboard on Lindt truffles for four months straight, you have until May to become best friends with your treadmill.
  7. If you’ve missed a few work outs, pick up a shovel. You’ll be breaking a sweat in no time.
  8. If you’re not a fan of your outfit, you can cover it up with a huge winter coat.
  9. Got dry crackly hands? No worries! Just cover them with gloves.
  10. You can justify indulging in hot chocolate every day. If you’re not lactose intolerant, pile it high with whipped cream and add some shaved chocolate. It boosts your mood and builds character. (And might actually put a smile on your face.)
  11. You can tell the kids to go play outside and nine times out of 10 they will happily slide on their snow pants if it’s snowing out, (giving you just enough time to watch Netflix in peace).
  12. Go sledding with your kids. I promise it’ll make you smile…and pee a little.

Smotherly Love

I think the old saying may be true: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As soon as I start feeling like I’m succeeding as a mother, reality takes a sip of my Seltzer and spits it back in my face.

And I become….a Smother. (Yes, like Mrs. Goldberg, pictured below from the very funny modern-day-80’s-comedy.) I can’t help it! I just love my kids so much!

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I may no longer be new to motherhood, but I’m still hard on myself and often oblivious of my smothering. (Please keep reading and you’ll understand what I mean). (I promise, after this long Jackie-tangent, to get to a point!) :)

When my kids were really young, I was very hard on myself. If my son didn’t succeed at potty training every week, I felt like a failure. I honestly felt like I had failed as a mother. I have to admit, I got a little Smotherly in my potty training rituals.

As soon as I woke up, my boy was on that little potty. He was on it before play time, Callou time, before swim, after swim, before book time, before bed time. You get the idea.

And if he didn’t go, I wasn’t much fun to be around. Just ask my husband.

I was OBSESSED.

With my daughter, I was a little more relaxed at first. She was 20 months and started going on the potty successfully and I felt like I had won the Lottery. Then we flew home from Disney and I could smell a foul odor the minute we landed at TF Green Airport. Before I even had a chance to put her dirty tights in a plastic bag, I felt that familiar feeling. She went back to her old, smelly ways for several months.

I felt like I was the worst mother in the world.

My kids were behind. I thought for sure they would end up going to second grade in pull-ups.

But you know what?

They didn’t.

Before their third birthdays, they each “got it”. Barely any accidents, boom, they were trained.

For good.

All my SMOTHERING hard work paid off.

So I guess I wasn’t the worst mother in the world after all.

Now, things have changed.

Or have they?

My kids are 10 and 13, and I’m proud of them. I try to back off and not smother them too much. (Well…sometimes.)

Now we have a new member of our family. 10978707_10153048220544061_7466960826078183455_n

Yes, we took home a new eight-week-old puppy this weekend. A beautiful, English cream Golden Retriever who stole my heart the moment I saw her. And our five year old Golden, Marley, has been taking to our Maggie really well. Like any envious big brother with a gentle heart. He may give her questionable looks and steal her toys, but he also drops them on the floor to share with her as well.

I can’t help it. Having these two new “kids” reminds me of those early years as a new mother.

The first night, despite my putting Maggie in her crate at 11 p.m. and getting up at 3:45 a.m. and again at 5:30 a.m. to let her out to do her business. Each time, she ate snow or bounced around, came inside and did her business…inside. On a towel.

I felt like once again, I had failed as a mother.

So I removed the towel. Sprayed some “No Go” on the floor and tried again. Several more times.

This time, I froze …and tried to let it go. I watched Marley run outside, and allowed her to follow her big brother. She jumped up and watched Marley as he sniffed around for the perfect place to do his doody. Then she copied Marley. When he was done, she tucked in her backside, sniffed around and then..all I could see was YELLOW SNOW. She did it! Maggie PEED! She peed outside! I was literally hooting and hollering like a giddy girl. She did it!

She peed outside! Maggie did it!

She did it again and again, all day long.

So yay, I hadn’t failed as a mother smother.

She needed to figure it out on her own. And the less I intervened…and relaxed a little, the better off she was.

I’m not going to lie, she woke up and had an accident on the floor today. Once. But I know it’s going to take time. She’s eight-and-a-half-weeks old for crying out loud.

True, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Once a mother smother, always a smother mother.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to be a little less hard on myself. And them.

And try to back off …and let nature take its course. 10487496_10153048189514061_4301573419064577921_n

Could you be turning into a High-Maintenance Sally?

I beg you to give this some thought.

Could you be turning into a High-Maintenance Sally?

Do you often find yourself, due to dietary restrictions, ordering things ON THE SIDE?

The older I get, the more I realize, to my utter dismay, I may be turning into High-Maintenance Sally.

If you’ve ever seen the movie, When Harry Met Sally, you know what I’m talking about.

There is a scene when Harry Burns, (played by Billy Crystal), says to Sally Albright, (played by Meg Ryan), “There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.”

Sally replies, “Which one am I?”

“You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.”

“I don’t see that.”

“You don’t see that? Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. “On the side” is a very big thing for you.”

“Well, I just want it the way I want it.”

“I know; high maintenance.”

The older I get, the more I realize I’m starting to become high maintenance.

Maybe just a little.

I’m not trying to be a total pain in the rear.

I blame age. I just often find I need things a certain way, or the poop hits the fan.

Literally.

For example, I used to be fine with no-name-brand detergent.

Not I get a rash.

I used to be fine with no conditioner. (OK, if you’ve seen my high school portrait, I guess I really couldn’t get away with it – I just THOUGHT I could!)

I used to wake up, take a shower, get on my ten speed and go about my day. Three Rave perms a year, and I was set. I could eat ANYTHING on the menu and not worry about a thing.

Even in college, I’d go for a run, take a shower, slap on my jeans shorts and boom, I was set. I could let my hair air dry in the sun and never worry about a thing.

But after two kids and 19 years of marriage, things have started to change.

I NEED a hair dryer.

I get a headache if I order the wrong salad dressing.

I feel nauseous if I eat shellfish.

I skip conditioner for one day and I look like the lead singer of Quiet Riot.

You know you’re becoming High-Maintenance Sally when:

  • You order things ON THE SIDE because you know you’ll end up spending half the  day in bed if you don’t.
  • You try to drink a different beer than your “usual” and you end up with a hangover that lasts for days.
  • Boxed wine makes you gag.
  • Just the mention of the words, “Lemon shot” makes you cringe and want to run to the toilet.
  • You snack on ONE granola bar that happens to have artificial sweetener in it and you get a gnarly migraine.
  • You can’t pluck your eyebrows because they’re too thick and you can’t get them waxed because it causes an allergic reaction that makes you feel like the Elephant Man.
  • You have to drive 20 minutes out of the way, a few times a month, to get your eyebrows professionally THREADED.
  • Wearing cheap earrings actually does cause an ear infection.
  • You HAVE to get your hair colored professionally every 6 to 8 weeks or you look like a Golden Girl.
  • You buy a pair of jeans from the sales rack and the rear splits in half after one wash.
  • You try a new brand of yogurt, just for poops and giggles, and you end up sitting on the potty, not laughing… for
  • I’m really ashamed about this one: You get a horrible headache from the off-brand candle your daughter bought for you from her school store, so you secretly switch it out for a different scent that you can tolerate.
  • You get a rash from off-brand cosmetics.
  • You can’t skip a shower or else you look like Kramer during his bath binge.
  • You convince yourself you need a pair of boots for the rain, another for the snow, another for girls’ nights, another for carpooling and two more because you can’t just have them in black!

Style trends of 2015 (that you won’t see me embracing anytime soon)!

I have been fighting a cold for about a week now and when I’m really feeling sick, I can’t help myself. After loading my body with enough Green tea and Vitamin C to temporarily tranquilize a small rodent, I climb in bed and browse through Pinterest, Facebook, US Weekly and other “junkfood-for-Jackie’s-brain” places to catch up on the latest style trends. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with having a little fashion fest when you’re nursing a cold, right?

But during a recent Sunday online style search, I was disappointed. Very disappointed. Although the latest fashion trends for 2015 look fabulous on Kardashian and her kisters, they just aren’t for me.

I’ll throw out some examples:

1. CAPES. Some capes are really cute. I have tried to wear the “cape” look. But I look like I’m stepping off of the Scooby Mystery Mobile wearing one of my grandmother’s afghans around my shoulders. There are some people who can pull off this look. But I am not one of them. If you don’t believe me, I’ll snag my faux fur Restoration Hardware throw blanket off my couch, toss it around my neck and wait to see the kinds of looks I get at the grocery store.

  1. Mod 1960’s mini-dresses. Short mini dresses. So short, even my 10-year-old daughter calls them “inappropriate”. (I love that she says that. My only hope is that she keeps this up in high school.) OK, I love 1960’s dresses. My best friend and I practically STARTED our elementary school’s mini skirt trend in the fourth grade. Hello, have you not seen a bazillion FB pictures of me wearing my favorite Jackie O glasses (that sadly cracked in two during our recent move)? I also worship style icons from that era. My mother named me after Jackie Kennedy for crying out loud. But a dress so short that the hem line stops right past my panty line? Especially since my 43-year-old southern cheeks have been expanding from post-holiday Lindt truffle overload? Um, I think I’ll pass. No, thank you.
  2. Real fur coats. Long fur coats. I’m super happy with the new fluffy cashmere gloves my husband gave me for Christmas, but I’m not about to go out and buy a long and trendy real fur coat just because Kourtney Kardashian is wearing one. (Not a real fur coat, that’s cruel.) Mark my words, even if I did, it would go out of style the following week and someone would splash red paint on it.
  3. Military khaki. I’m OK with military jackets. But, does this mean I need to wear shoulder pads? Because, to quote Jimmy Fallon, “I can’t.” Plus, when I was 11 years old and I participated in a four-hour “Color Me Beautiful” program with my mom, I was shown that even a hint of khaki green fabric near my freckled face makes me look like I actually need to puke. I mean I can’t…I’m a spring! Not an autumn! 

5. Short sweater dresses. To quote my daughter, “Ew!” Some sweater dresses are cute. BUT…the last time I wore a sweater dress that looked good on me, I was a junior in high school. I’m sorry, but these short dresses are MEAN to a woman my age. They highlight everything. Not just my curves, but my bubbles, my flab and my back fat. No thank you.

Oh, dear, I guess this makes me officially unstylish this new year. That’s such a bummer. Being from Texas, I love to dress up and keep up with the latest fashions, but I can’t seem to EMBRACE new trends. But wait….one more search gives me hope. THANKS TO PRINCESS KATE, I’ve realized there’s a style trend I can follow! Black tights! Hello, black tights! Thank you, Kate Middleton, for bringing back simple black tights. You can drop $10 at your local drug store and look like a princess? AND tuck in muffin top without cutting off your blood circulation? And make your grandmother happy because it keeps you warm while wearing a dress? Hello, black thick tights, I love you! I guess I’m not as much of a fashion failure as I thought!

The holidays are over! The holidays are over!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Shut the front door, it’s January. How are you doing so far this NEW YEAR?

Me? I’m doing fan-fubbing-tastic.

I got my workout in this morning. I’ve had enough green tea to flood a basement. I’ve put away 85% of the Christmas decorations. I’m getting back to work. And I have a smile on my face as big as my expanding post-holiday waistline. I’m not going to lie. The cheesy grin has a lot to do with the fact that the holidays are over.

“Ba-hum-big, Jackie” you say?

Oh I said it.

I’m glad the holidays are over! I’m relieved! Yahhhoooo!

This, from http://www.annetaintor.com, says it all!

Don’t get me wrong – we had a nice Christmas break. We made great memories with our kids in our new home. With my parents. With my in-laws. With all of our relatives. We hosted and hosted and hosted until I practically bled twinkling lights and festive platters.

We had some relatives decide to stay not one week, but two. And others stay not just two weeks, but three. I love them all. I’m grateful for them all.

But as of 11:35 a.m. last Thursday? Like the Griswald holiday turkey, I was done. Dried to the bone, done. I’m not just RELIEVED the holidays are over. I’m fan-fubbing-ecstatic! OK, so it just so happens I experienced this ba-hum-bug revelation on my way home from the airport. Dropping my folks off at the airport, to be exact. Now, I love those two people who brought me into this world more than you could ever know. They are sweet people with big hearts. And I did everything possible to make sure their visit was awesome. From decorating a mini American Girl Doll-themed Christmas tree with my daughter to investing in a new Keurig, we did it all. And they appreciated it. (And mentioned anything I happened to forget. ;))

But there’s a rhetorical reason we should keep visits down to “Ten days tops,” as my husband says. “Ten days tops,” I always nod in agreement, cringing when I receive the actual reservations. I start to get a holiday facial twitch from all the stress of trying to make everyone happy. I try to control it by downing one Lindt truffle every 30 minutes.

My father will make any excuse possible to extend a trip to see his grandchildren. (Who he still thinks are 3 and 6. And me? In his eyes, I think I’m about 13.) I adore my parents dearly. But there is a point during a visit when you’re done. I’m not sure if it was Day 2 when my mom realized she forgot her prescription cough medication in Florida or Day 7 when I woke to the sound of my own snoring on the sofa at 7:30 p.m. (Or Day 10 when my dog ate an entire platter of assorted cheese, crackers and pepperoni.) Son of a…that’s another post for another time.

With the kids home for the break, relatives coming and going everyday, the dog humping the new sofa cushions, (one child home sick with flu-like symptoms an entire week before vacation), and house renovations going on during holiday prep time, I was done.

I could not wrap another gift, vacuum up another ball of Marley hair, clean another toilet, change another bed, or contemplate lunch, dinner or appetizers.

I had a migraine the size of Miami.

All day long on New Year’s Day, after forcing in a mini workout, I fought that gnarly headache. I sat in bed with my daughter watching crap TV for most of the day. And it felt like heaven.

Somewhere, in between over-dosing on Lindt truffles and forgetting to work out for several days in a row, I lost it.

And today, as I dropped my daughter off at school and proceeded to have a celebratory rock concert in my car, I realized it wasn’t all that bad.

We had a lot of fun.

We made great memories.

We had a nice time. I love my family and wouldn’t change them for the world.

I’ve come to the realization that the holidays are a lot like giving birth. You forget everything as soon as the next one comes around. You forget about all the stress, the pain (in the arse-ness) and the emotional exhaustion. You look forward to making more It’s-A-Wonderful-Life and Bing-Crosby-Christmas-Carol holiday memories with loved ones.

Life is short. Life is good. Life really is wonderful.

Here’s hoping you have a wonderful, fun-fubbing-tastic 2015!

Holiday-zilla

There’s a reason you might have seen cob webs on my blog lately. Aside from the fact that I need a new Swiffer, I’ve been caught up with a few things over the past few months. Like… oh I don’t know…moving to a new house (without professional movers). Unpacking everything with my husband and kids (and trying to understand how we have accumulated so much stuff over the years). Trying to organize and fill the house. Then repacking everything we originally unpacked on the second floor and moving it to the first floor while we have the hardwoods redone. Celebrating our new home with friends and family. Celebrating our anniversary. Finalizing a dream publishing agreement with Robyn Lane Books of Texas (woot-woot!). And…well…the obvious. The *&^%$###@ holidays.

Joy to my weekly Yahoo! calendar, the holidays are coming. How can it be the second week in December already??!

I can almost hear my parents on their way from Florida. (Which is a good thing….and a not-so-fabulous thing.)

I love them dearly, but, as my husband reminds me, I tend to get a little stressed prior to their visit, ESPECIALLY when they come during the holidays.

Why?

Because, like I said…I tend to get a little stressed this time of year.

Why?

Because no matter how hard I try, I have to admit I’m not Martha. Or Rachel. Or even my adorable 4-ft.-11 Italian mother-in-law who often finishes her Christmas shopping before Labor Day weekend. (Or my talented cousin who decorates five themed trees throughout her house that look like they belong in a New York City storefront.)

Rather than live in the present and all that other blah-blah-woof-woof I read in magazines and blogs this time of year, I tend to turn into a Gremlin. I start out all wide-eyed from rainbows-and-unicorns-expectations and morning jogs and then I gradually sneak a Lindt truffle every hour and skip enough workouts that I turn into someone who growls at the thought of another holiday deadline.

Oh yes, through the years, I have a tendency to turn into a Holiday-zilla. 

(I even have frizzy hair and stress zits from past Christmas photos to prove it.)

The days I forget to blow dry my hair, I actually LOOK like a gremlin that gets wet and snacks after midnight. It’s not a pretty sight.

Now I do appreciate the holidays. But…as soon as Black Friday arrives, I’m a goner.

After baking cookies and meat pies throughout November, rather than sing Christmas Carols, I actually feel myself tensing up just glancing at the Advent Calendar.

Now, I WANT to start Christmas shopping early.

But I never do.

I didn’t even START my list until a few days ago.

I want to order my holiday cards in November, thinking I will find that “picture perfect” picture where the four of us are captured together, smiling, without red eyes.

But I never do.

Even our dog is squinting in this year’s photo card, which I have ordered…but will probably receive two days before Christmas even though I paid extra for expedited shipping.

Through the years, my expectations tend to get so crazed, I end up screwing up something. Not everything, but something.

I also STINK when it comes to giving gifts. I do try…

I once gave a black patent leather purse for a family Yankee gift swap. I thought the “rule” was girls swap girly gifts with the women and boys swap boy-ish gifts with the men. I was born in Texas, I should have Googled Yankee swap before I participated. I ended up getting my own gift back because no one wanted it!

But my mother taught me to give gifts that YOU WOULD want to receive. (And I’m sorry, but who wouldn’t want a cute black patent leather clutch that goes with virtually every holiday ensemble?)

Last year, I gave something safe and non-gender-specific from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It was so safe and boring, I can’t even remember what it was. But I crossed it off my list, right? ;)

Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves?

Why can’t we just enjoy this time of year? THEY’RE THE HOLIDAYS. I’M SORRY, BUT THEY SHOULD BE JOLLY, NOT STRESSFUL!

Why do so many women have to be so good at it, they make the rest of us look bad??! :)

This year, Christmas is going to be different.

I’m determined to NOT turn into a Holiday-zilla.

I KNOW I can do it!

I just took an Advil. I drank some green tea. 

That’s a good start, right?

The glass is half full, not drained to a puddle.

The tree is decorated. The wreaths are up.

ALMOST all the gift have been ordered. (Except the yawn-Yankee-non-gender-specific ones.)

I have a feeling everything is going to be OK… (even if you can’t really see the tree because it’s buried in a room with everything we own from the second floor).  

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Finally, a Fairytale for Mothers!

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Have you ever noticed that in nearly every fairy tale, one parent passes away tragically?

Think of it. In Snow White, her father passes away.

Cinderella’s dad dies. 

We all know what happens to Bambie’s mom.

Even in modern-day fairy tales like Finding Nemo, the mom gets swallowed by a shark (along with, GULP, hundreds of brothers and sisters).

Goodness. That’s heavy stuff. Especially for a little kid!

I adore the classics…but can someone PLEASE throw us a bone in the form of a more uplifting fairy tale?

Enter fellow writer, Leslie Gibbons, author of A Fairytale for Mothers. When Leslie’s daughter was expecting her first baby, she was disappointed by the lack of mothers and mother-figures in fairy tales.  She begged Leslie to write a story with a living, loving mother that she could share with her family.  That’s how A Fairytale for Mothers was born.  Yeah! (Can you tell I’m excited?)

A Fairytale for Mothers cover illustration by Elese Morris

This full-color gift book illustrated by Elese Morris is perfect for moms because it’s a quick read with an inspiring message.  Mothers and children alike will appreciate this story about a mother bird’s love for her chicks, and the generous gift she shares with each one when it is their turn to leave the nest. It also shows how adult chicks don’t return to the nest after college return to share gifts of their own.  Beautifully illustrated in water color, A Fairytale for Mothers is available from Robyn Lane Books (a totally awesome publishing company) on November 18, 2014. Here’s a sneak peek at the beautiful cover! You can also find more details here.

fairytale

Ready? OK! Confessions of a Texas transplant-turned-Rhode Island cheerleader

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I have a confession to make. Although I was born and raised in Texas, I didn’t try out for cheerleading.

Of course, I always wanted to be a Derek Doll. 

But I never tried out.

Why, you ask?

Let’s see: I guess I was sort of cute when I was little, but then the hormones kicked in and I grew into a pale and gawky tween. Combine this with the fact that I was only allowed to buy things off the sales rack and I was not exactly “cheerleading” material. I was a polite kid with a lot of friends. I was on the dance team, the Sharkettes (Pop Warner) and took gymnastics, ballet and jazz. But I didn’t come out of the womb doing mid-air splits.

So I never bothered to try out for cheerleading.

I waited until I moved to Rhode Island my junior year of high school. I remember thinking, “What the heck do I have to lose?” as I rolled my Forenza jeans into my cowboy boots and coated my permed bangs with another layer of Aqua Net.

During tryouts, I did a cheer. A few kicks. Then another yell or two with moves like… Jackie. I smiled. Then my nerves got the best of me. After a few high kicks, I said something that would change my life forever.

I turned and announced to one of the judges, “I’m so nervous, I think I might pee in my pants.”

(In my defense, it was true.)

The next second was excruciating.

I remember hearing nothing in the auditorium but the squeak of my tennis shoes. It was like something out of a John Hughes movie.

Then I heard a few giggles. Followed by lots of laughing. Even a few snorts.

All the other girls were laughing. They were apparently laughing WITH ME. (OR so I hoped.). For a second, I felt like Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink.

I guess the judge appreciated my honest style because I made it.

You read that right – I made cheerleading!

When I found out I made the squad, it was as if the painful zit on my chin had finally popped, dried and flaked off. I felt free and clear. The stress that came with moving to a small town hundreds of miles away from everything I had known was lifted.

It was a dream come true. In my 16-year-old mind, I felt like I was Susan Lucci. (The up-teenth time she landed an Emmy nomination. Gooooo, Erica!)

But after a few weeks, I realized that in a small New England town, cheerleading was a lot different than it is in Texas. People don’t make as much of a big deal about it. I discovered a lot of things about cheerleading that I didn’t know before.

A few ways cheerleading is different in Rhode Island:

  • In East Greenwich, Rhode Island, there was no mandatory rule that cheerleaders permeate their locks with AquaNet.
  • The outfits don’t have to sparkle or look anything like NFL cheerleader outfits.
  • You HAVE to wear thermals or sweats under your cheerleading outfit in Rhode Island to keep from freezing your buns off.
  • There are no mothers plotting the murder of other moms so their daughters can get on the squad.
  • You don’t have to look like a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader to make the team.
  • Hair is much flatter in RI than in Texas, where they don’t condone “naked hair”. In Texas, “naked hair” is defined as hair that has not been permed, rolled, processed or curled and sprayed with enough hairspray to start a bonfire.
  • High school football stadiums in Rhode Island are like miniature Zoolander stadiums compared to the crowds that fill Texas Friday Night Lights’ games. The stadium we had in East Greenwich was a quarter of the size of the old stadium where I used to hang out with friends on fun Texas Friday nights.

Extra strength AquaNet or no AquaNet, I was still proud to be a cheerleader.

I spent some of the most memorable years of my life cheering, choreographing, and dancing with an awesome group of girls.

To this day, there are times when I will hear a Milli Vanilli song, lip synch and break into cheer, loud and clear for my kids to hear. The “beat” comes to me like the SNL Spartans squad led by Will Ferrell, as he and his female counterpart rooted on water polo matches with the “Perfect Cheer”. I can’t hold back. My hips start pumping. My head moves from side to side. Then I stop, look down, both arms to my side. “Ready? OK!” I yell out to my dog, who sits there, squinting back. (In shame.)

“Roll call boogie, check, check. Roll call boogie, check, check. So check. Us. Out.” I yell out to myself in the kitchen (the dog has walked away). “My name is Jackie, YEAH. I have a big grin. YEAH. I’ll tell you one thing, YEAH. This team is gonna win!”

Before I’m done dancing and pretending to remember the cheer, I realize my 10-year-old daughter is not only ignoring me, she is running from me, screaming, “Mom, please stop! My eyes are burning!”

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