Just be You, Mom

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regina-georgeSomething that comes easy to me as a middle-aged mom?

Aside from making my kids cringe while dancing to Madonna in the kitchen?

Being myself.

When you turn 40, 41, Lordy help me I’m 45. I don’t want to be filling this post with long division before I get to my point here.

I have found that at 45, it’s so nice to just be yourself. Being yourself rocks. You can be yourself around old friends. New friends. Acquaintances. Dear, close friends. And I’ve also found you can be yourself around a cranky 15-year-old when you’re 45 and could give two popsicles what they think. It’s quite exhilarating, actually.

It’s the equivalent of putting on a pair of PJ pants after coming home from nonstop meetings.

It’s like an internal Yoga Ommmmmmmmm.

It’s like whipped cream piled on top of hot cocoa on a freeze-your-buns kind of day.

You get the idea.

When you are yourself and can surround yourself with friends who accept you, and I’m borrowing from Bridget Jones here, just the way you are, it’s really refreshing.

I’ll never forget, growing up in Texas, I had the best friends. I was lucky. We had such fun times, listening to the Go Gos in our mini skirts and bi-level hair-dos. I could be myself around them and it was glorious.

But when I was in junior high school, things began to change. My friends were still awesome, but I started to reach that age when your body isn’t exactly fabulous and your hair isn’t exactly the most stylish. You feel awkward being you. Because you’re not sure who you are just yet.

Sometimes, you start to act like someone else. And this isn’t a good feeling. At all.

Imagine growing up outside of Houston. Live Barbie dolls are effing everywhere. Born with Marsha Brady hair and Wonder Woman legs. In my intermediate school, there were girls who would look you up and down when they talked to you. Just to see what you were wearing. Think Mean Girls, Texas-sized. OK, I’ll admit, I wasn’t much to look at. I was a wee bit awkward at 11, 12, 13. But I was always myself and used my babysitting money to go to the mall with my friends to find something cute from the Express sales rack.

I should also mention that my hair was permed. By my mom.

And I weighed 95 pounds. Soaking wet.

One day, while talking with my best friend at my locker, in a totally new Forenza outfit mind you, a girl who could have passed as Regina George looked me up and down, shot me a dirty look, turned and laughed with her friends.

I was 12. And obviously, I never forgot that look.

Or that feeling.

My daughter is 12.

She’s a totally different child than I was at 12. She tells me, as she’s making me belly laugh with her quick wit, she doesn’t care about what others think. She accepts herself just the way she is, God bless her. She a tween, so she doesn’t like it when I write about her, so I’m not going to focus on her anymore. I’m going to talk about you.

How often, as a woman, do you let others dictate how you feel about yourself?

How often, as a mom, do you care about what other moms think of you?

It has taken me dozens of years to realize what mean moms think doesn’t matter.

If you still care about your suburban version of Regina George, I beg you to stop. And look at your bad self in the mirror. And all its awesomeness. And promise me you’ll give yourself a high-five today…after dancing in the kitchen while making your kids cringe.😉

 

Sweata Weatha

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Enough about yoga pants, are you as excited as I am about SWEATA WEATHA? The nights are getting chilly. So it’s time to put away your sleeveless tops and bring out your favorite sweaters. The fact that I get to bury any semblance of arm dangle in a long sleeve or hide a tired turkey neck for a few more months is like… buttah.
SWEATA WEATHA means it’s fall in New England. You know, one of the four seasons.

Growing up in Texas, you had two seasons. Summer and not summer.

Now, you could go to the mall (shopping is considered a sport in Texas) and buy an adorable sweater and wear it in October. Inside. In 65-degree air conditioning.

But the moment you walk outside in your wooly runway wear, you’re exposed to a hot flash that’s also known as the great Texas outdoors. When it’s 90 degrees in October in Houston, you can feel the sweat oozing from your forehead down to your pits as soon as you walk outside. Your neck gets moist and you feel like you’re in Gilley’s with Sissy and Bud, about to get on that mechanical bull. You realize it’s quite possible to die from being over-dressed, albeit in a cute and fluffy cardigan.

So, what I’m trying to say is it’s nice to be living in SWEATA WEATHA.

You don’t like sweata weatha? Well, whateva.

As the weather begins to change, something else happens to me. (Don’t worry, I don’t turn into a werewolf. That only happens hormonally-speaking once a month.)

I get very cold here in little Rhode Island. And I have a tendency to repeat outfits. I’ll wear them over and over. Like CNN updates, I want to make sure everyone sees it.

I do this with my sweater cardigans. I have three that I’ve worn for the past five years.

I’ll often wear one, then repeat it again in another two days.

In case you may have missed me one day, well, I’ll most likely be wearing the same sweater I wore two days ago. Now, I wash my clothes. I take a shower every day. But I also get attached to certain items.

Like jeans.

I actually feel bad for my jeans.

When they start to fall off of me, not from losing weight, but from sheer over-use, you know it’s time for them to get tossed in the washer. Sometimes, I Fabreze them and toss them in the dryer, or at least spritz the crotch area. (A fun secret that I advise you to use should you find yourself in a laundering predicament.)

Have you ever run into someone you know twice in the same week, wearing the same thing?

Happens to me all the time.

Or you rotate and “shop your closet” and wear something you haven’t worn in three years?  Then wear it to a fun outing with friends. You’re all having a selfie celebration. Your friend posts a ton of photos online. Everything is awesome.

Until the next day. While in line at the local café, a Facebook memory pops up from three years ago.

And you realize you’re wearing the exact same sweata.

 

 

 

Speaking of Yoga Pants

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I’ve seen so many posts in response to the “Yoga Pants” letter to the editor that was published in this week’s Barrington Times. I have included a snapshot of it below in case you’re not familiar. After giggling and getting offended Wednesday evening, I decided maybe enough is enough. I’ll keep my voice down.

Then I realized, as a former journalist, I really need to give my take on the whole situation. And as a Barrington resident and mom, I owe it to moms in this town (and my daughter, for that matter) to share my opinion. In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m wearing yoga pants as I write this because I just worked out and played Uber-mom all morning. And I’m not 20 years old or pairing them with a blousy shirt either.yoga-pants-parade

But, seriously, I do have something I need to share.skinny

First of all, I believe the letter to the editor was rude. I believe it was obnoxious. A little sexist. And, surprisingly silly. It was, in my opinion, written from the perspective of someone who isn’t exactly on trend when it comes to fashion. I can’t remember the last time I even used the words “slacks” and “yoga pants” in the same sentence. After almost peeing in my not-so-skinny jeans at the absurdity of it all, I noticed a lot of people were posting on Facebook that they couldn’t believe that our local newspaper printed it in the first place.

Let me tell you a little something about hometown newspapers. They are required to print letters like this because it’s their journalistic duty. They receive piles of letters from local residents. About a lot of nutty things. I know because I worked as an assistant editor and columnist in Seattle, Washington, writing and editing multiple newspapers filled with articles and these types of letters every week. Before yoga pants were even a thing!

As a blogger, you get a chance to say what you want. But I’m not just a blogger. I’m also a former journalist and PR professional who respects journalistic integrity. Something that often gets lost in today’s sometimes seaweedy sea of social media.

I think The Barrington Times is not at fault for printing the letter. The Times, in my opinion, was standing by its journalistic integrity and printing every letter that comes through the door. The shock value comes in the contents of the letter and the fact that it comes from a man who in my opinion, is a little cranky and didn’t think before he wrote. Maybe he’s the type who also gets offended if whipper-snappers are walking on his property? Who knows.

We live in a small town.

We should almost feel a little grateful to be able to talk about something like this in our community and share our different views. (While wearing yoga pants! Or slacks!) And make national news! And to be able to plan an actual Yoga Pants Parade in response to it all? (To be held this Sunday at 2 p.m. by the way. ) I mean, that’s pretty awesome. Because if this is as bad as it gets, I see it as a sign that things aren’t really THAT bad. We have it pretty good in this community. And I’m sorry, but for that, I’m pretty grateful.

Walking Bed-Head

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How do you feel about skipping a day?

I’m talking about washing your hair.

I’m having one of those “Walking-Dead-bed-head-lordy-please-pull-the-hair-back-because-it’s-better-for-society” kind of days. And with the popularity of dry shampoo and other pillow-hair-prevention products, I’m trying to be fashionable. So I sprayed some dry shampoo on my unwashed hair this morning. Then puffed some powder. The result?

Nothing less than frightening. I could scare away Zombies.

I’m trying to support this hair care trend. But I fear I’m a little fashionably late. Like skinny white jeans, this is a trend I’m having a touimg_2474gh time embracing. (Which is why I posed this way. I’m trying to shake off the frustration.)

Do you ever skip a day? And if so, how many days can you get away with not washing your hair? You know, before it starts to get really noticeable? And greasy?

One of my best friends can go two, three, sometimes FOUR days on dry shampoo alone. And she still looks fabulous. It’s a gift, really.

She’s a brunette.

If you are a brunette like my friend, know that you are very lucky. You may still be upset that you had to be Kate Jackson’s character when you played Charlie’s Angels as a little girl. I get it. Just be glad you didn’t have to play Charlie. (I won’t go into my Dorothy Hammel hair-do drama stories right now.) But I will admit, as a dish-water blond as my mom calls it, my hair has a tendency to look like it’s fresh off a Bridget-Jones-convertible ride if I skip washing for one day, spritzed with Pam cooking spray if I skip two and a victim of a food fight if I go for three. (A hair trauma I’ve never had to experience, which I realize makes me a very poor candidate for Survivor. Unless they give out free shampoo samples along with rice.)

I also have a beautiful blond BFF who can go days without washing her hair and still look like she’s ready for a shampoo commercial.

I know. I need to give it time. Friends tell me dry shampoo is their saving grace. Let me tell you a little something about dry shampoo on me. 

It’s all good. For about an hour. Then dry shampoo makes my hair look… crispy. Not as stiff as that scene from There’s Something About Mary. But it’s pretty close. The issue I have is that when I skip a day, I actually LOOK like Kramer from Seinfeld when he decided to stop taking showers and took baths instead. Think pillow hair. With fly-aways.

I realize it’s good for your hair to skip a day or two of washing. But this doesn’t mean it’s good for EVERYONE. image-1

 

Presidential Pause: A non-toxic wish list before Election Day

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After a crappy argument with someone, you usually go for a walk, right? Maybe a jog? Talk to a friend? Or work things out?

Regardless, following the argument, you usually feel like a doggie doo-doo bag.

That’s how I think we’re all feeling following the presidential debate. I feel like we’re all suffering from a post-debate political hangover. And hamburgers and sleep just aren’t cutting the misogynist mustard.

And the realization that Election Day is looming isn’t making things any easier. After the presidential debate, I felt like I needed to go for a long warichard_dawsonlk.  To Canada. But it was late, so I ate some chocolate. (And some frosting off of a mini cupcake.) The next day, I definitely needed a second shower. And a media and social-media detox.

I think, perhaps, we all need a presidential pause.

Now I don’t think it’s polite to talk about politics at the dinner table. Consider this my native-and-nice-Texan-turned-Rhode-Island-resident way of helping to make the world a saner, less toxic place given everything we’re facing as a nation. A reason to smile again possibly? I’m not saying we shouldn’t take things seriously. I’m just needing a teensy break from it all.

Here is a non-toxic wish list we can all use before Election Day:

  1. I wish the presidential campaign could be treated like a reality show, where past candidates are still eligible for a chance at winning the top prize. You know, like America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway or The Biggest Loser? Some past candidates deserve a second chance.
  2. I wish Joanna and Chip Gaines, the adorable couple from Waco, Texas from the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, could fix up this whole mess we have going on. Maybe add some sideway subway tile or ship-lap, and renovate the heck out of what we have going on. Make this mess of a campaign look like an open-concept campaign with some genuine, restored integrity.
  3. I wish we could erase the past several weeks by pressing the RESTART button.
  4. I wish we could white board this whole thing. Bring on the snacks, flash cards, white board and intellectual conversation! I know a few senior executives (and 7th graders) who could make a much smarter plan.
  5. I wish we could look on the bright side for a moment. If there’s any indication of things looking UP, it’s that this is NOT a Zombie Apocalypse.
  6. Anything is better than a Zombie Apocalypse.
  7. And if there really were a Zombie Apocalypse coming, maybe it would explain Trump. Not just the unbearable behavior, the hair or unnatural skin tone, just him in general.
  8. I wish the Trumps and Clintons could go on Family Feud. Not to decide the election, but just for the sheer entertainment of it. With the original host from the 1970’s, Richard Dawson, co-hosting the final round. I would love to see how well Chelsea and Bill would do given 15 seconds on the clock.
  9. I wish we could just reflect for a moment and be happy that Joan Rivers is in a better place. As the former winner of The Apprentice, she would never put up with this crap.
  10. And finally, I wish I could see what’s happening in The Good Place right about now. Because I have a feeling Bernie Mac, R.I.P., Robin Williams, R.I.P., Gene Wilder, R.I.P. and some other very funny folks who passed away in recent years are holding a political comedy night in the clouds, giggling up a storm. The next time I hear thunder, I’ll know it’s Bernie Mac saying, “America, can you believe this?”.

 

 

 

On Chelsea Grammar

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One of my favorite snarky female comedians has a new late-night-styled show on Netflix that I often watch when I’m by myself. In my garage. Jogging on my treadmill. (And yes, I do realize that I said jogging. I don’t necessarily run fast like everyone else in my family. I like to jog. Or, as Ron Burgundy would pronounce it, “Yog”.)

Chelsea Handler has a new show on Netflix simply called, “Chelsea”. This show has so many inappropriate things in it, I hope my mom never reads this post. (Oh, crap. It may be too late.) What can I say, we all have our guilty pleasures. My favorite was watching Sex and the City while eating chocolate and drinking a beer after the kids go to bed. I have to admit, I still find myself glued to the re-runs while folding laundry. But I also tend to crave something fresh every now and then, especially when I’m trying to get my mind off the fact that I’m in my garage. On a treadmill. Yogging.

AP SUNDANCE CHELSEA HANDLER A FILE ENT USA UT

FILE – In this Jan. 22, 2016 file photo, Chelsea Handler poses for a portrait to promote the film, “Chelsea Does”, at the Toyota Mirai Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Handler reveals her personal fears and biases in her new Netflix docu-series as she explores marriage, drugs, racism and technology. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File) ORG XMIT: NYET423

I’m only human.

“Chelsea” is only 30 minutes with no commercial interruptions. Hello, candid Chelsea? And no interruptions? Yes, please. (Except when my daughter will surprise me by opening the garage door and I’ll turn it to something totally PG like Cake Boss.) supposedlynot-supposably

The host may be totally irreverent. I get that the show is not for everyone. But I like it. I once saw Chelsea live and I think she’s a character and as a female comedian, she has what I like to call lady b@lls.

Think of the show as a delicious treat for me to indulge in when my kids aren’t around. From Chelsea interviewing 93-year-olds about the presidential election to her dog Chunky walking around the set waiting for her to finish, I cackle out loud during most episodes. On my treadmill. In my garage. While jogging.

One time, I was caught off guard and almost fell off the machine while she was drinking wine and giggling with actress Drew Barrymore.

One part of the show called “Chelsea Grammar”, which features an SNL-styled intro by actor Kelsey Grammer and addresses Chelsea’s grammatical pet peeves, inspired me to mention some of my own here. As a former journalist turned public relations professional, I have a tendency to become a pill when it comes to grammar.  My kids will say something that’s not grammatically correct and I often have to hold myself back from correcting them on the spot. I’ve proofread many menus in my day too. I thankfully give myself a lot of freedom in this blog because it’s part of my voice. I don’t like to be all stuffy because that’s not who I am in person. But there are some things that make me cringe. Like certain things people say out loud that don’t make any sense.

Here are some examples that make me cringe:

  • When people say supposeably when they mean supposedly or suppose. Supposeably isn’t a word!
  • When people use the word “proper” at the end of a sentence when they mean to say “properly”. Example: “Do your job properly.”
  • Chelsea mentions this one and I totally agree: When folks say “So, anyways”.
    • ANYWAYS is not a word, people.
    • Anyway is a word. And even it gets misused a lot.
  • While we are on the subject, “alot” is not a word. It’s “a lot”.
  • When people say “Irregardless”.
    • I understand we all make mistakes. But it’s regardless, not irregardless.
    • Irregardless is not a word. Please just say Regardless. Yeah! I knew you could do it! Thank you!

I’m sure there are a lot more examples to add to this list. But I already feel better sharing these out loud. If many of these examples were used in a sentence, I could say: “I suppose I still have a lot to learn from Chelsea Handler and the dictionary. Regardless, I hope this inspires a lot of people to use these sayings properly anyway.”

And scene.

 

Life can be simple, if you just let it…

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Do you ever have days (or weeks) when nothing goes your way?

You let the dogs in, and their paws are plastered with mud. A day after you had them professionally groomed. You’re expecting friends in 15 minutes, and your house smells like teen spirit…and wet dog. You get into a groove with your workload and reflect on how refreshing it is to have the kids back at school, only to realize holy eff – tomorrow is Friday.

My husband, a very positive and supportive life partner, often reminds me, “You know babe, life can be simple”.

Uh huh.

“If you just let it.”

This is something my husband reminds me of on a regular basis. And I appreciate his positive mental attitude. But not when I’m brushing clumps of dried poop off my puppy’s back side and nursing a Hershey bar hangover.

I realize life really can be simple.

If I just let it.

But sometimes, I get in my own way.

My inner voice often makes things more complicated than they need to be. I don’t think I’m the only one who goes through this. Anyone? Bueller?

Some days, when I can pound out a press release or two, Uber-mom the kids around, fix a healthy dinner, make plans with friends and plan playdates (pardon me: scheduled time for my kids to hang out with friends with parental supervision) in a single bound, I’m on top of my game. Feeling groovy.

Life can be nice and simple.

And I’m grateful. I realize the poop can sometimes hit the fan, but for the most part, as one of my dear friends (my BFF) reminds me often, when you’re trying to do something and it feels like you’re paddling upstream, it might just be the universe telling you something. A woman paddling a kayak boat

Life doesn’t have to be so crazy. Or so hard.

It can be simple. And joyful.

If you just let it.

That’s how I started to feel about this blog. And I think it’s because I was paddling upstream in my mind. When I should have been going with the flow.

It should just be simple. As simple as not being afraid to embrace who I am on the proverbial page, arm dangle and all. I’ve thought about not blogging anymore because my kids are older and they don’t want me to write about them. But just because I’m not writing about potty training and play pens doesn’t mean I’m no longer a mom who needs to vent some stuff out.  I never call anyone out or embarrass anyone except myself, in a self-loving way. I use this blog as a venting session for myself and other women (and men) who appreciate good old-fashioned, organized word vomit. Hence the name. I’m referring to Venting Sessions. (Word vomit wasn’t moving any units, so I stuck with Venting Sessions.)

Yes, I’m a mom. And a wife. And my dogs think I gave birth to them. But I’m also a 45-year-old woman and professional consultant who wants to thrive for the next 45 years or more (and one day bring back aerobics so seniors can feel the burn). I’m a woman who needs to write or else I make life ridiculously complicated (and not very fun) for the people around me.

I still look at this blog (and hope you do too) as a place to giggle. To reflect. To release the stress of being a parent and a life partner. No matter how old you are or how many kids you have. Because (cringe ;)) my husband is right. Life can be simple. And if you just give yourself a break every once in a while and laugh at yourself, sooner or later you’ll find yourself paddling downstream. (Oh, farts, just watch out for the waterfall!😉

 

Turtle down

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You know the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969, Let it Bleed)?

My favorite line from that song is, “You can’t always get what you want… you get what you need”.

But never, in my 45 years, did I imagine that this line would apply so perfectly to a pet turtle entering our lives.

Allow me to explain. You see, our kids have been begging for a pet turtle over the past, oh I don’t know, eight years. The begging actually reminds me of an episode of The Goldbergs where Barry constantly asks his dad for a dog. Our son really, really, really wanted a pet turtle. And my daughter decided after a few years that she really, really wanted a pet turtle too. Through the years, it would go something like this:

“Can we get a turtle, Mom?”

“Sorry, no.”

“Can we get a turtle, Mom?”

“No. Ask your dad.”

“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”

“No.”

“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”

“No.”

“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”

“Uh, let me think about it,…No.”

You get the idea. Let me mention here that we have two dogs. Two rambunctious Golden Retrievers that are so loyal, we’re almost positive the oldest thinks I’m his real mother. So it’s not as if we are the worst img_1944-digbyparents in the world who don’t allow any pets in the house. (Not that NOT having a pet is a bad thing. Oh lordy, I can just feel the comments coming.) We just haven’t heard positive things about turtles, from emitting off-putting odors to transmitting potential diseases. So we’ve steered clear of them, praying our kids would one day forget about the little critters.

Then one day last week, while unpacking a new side table from an oversized cardboard box, my husband noticed a small toy fall out of the packaging. Thinking it was one of our son’s old mini Godzilla toys, he tossed it on top of his work bench in the garage. He went about his day, and came back an hour or so later to find that the small “toy” had moved. Not fallen. But moved from the workbench to the garage floor. He looked closer and realized it was moving. The toy wasn’t a toy, it was a moving rock. No, it was a turtle! A tiny turtle. And the box was labeled from Indonesia. This turtle is about the size of a mini plastic army guy. No bigger than a potato chip. And able to jump from a workbench in a single bound.

So my husband gathered some leaves and placed it in a safe box. We were surprised yet secretly overjoyed that we were now the parents of two kids, two Golden retrievers, four goldfish, a koi and a turtle.

I could just picture the smiles.

The looks on our kids’ faces.

Even our teenager!

“Where is it?”

“I want to name it Lola!”

“No, not Lola!”

“Can we keep it, Mom?”

“Can we keep it, Dad?”

“Yeah, can we?” Even I started to chime in, hoping it would be named Lola.

Then we Googled turtles.

We found out it’s a snapping turtle. A baby snapping turtle. These turtles can apparently live up to 80 years or something crazy like that and weigh like 80 pounds, which leads my very witty husband to decide, “I’m going to raise it like it’s my own.”

Now we’re all in love with a moving rock that my son has named Digby Bevan James. (No idea why, but my daughter and I had named our second dog, so Lola was out.)

We take it down to Petco. We’re all anticipating positive feedback.

But they tell us that we shouldn’t keep it. Not because of a disease or off-putting odor. Simply because, “You don’t want to keep it.”

Fan-fubbing-tastic. First we don’t want a turtle, then we have a turtle, then we all need the turtle, then we can’t have it.

We all want it at this point. So we took the turtle to an animal shelter to get a second opinion.

They recommend that we release it into the wild. On our own.

So before we say our final goodbyes, we’ve decided to temporarily place it a water-logged area in our backyard. We will be taking it to a bigger pond soon. Together. To release it back into the wild, where baby snapping turtles hiding in packages apparently originating from Indonesia belong.

Even though we were all secretly hoping that Mr. Digby Bevan James would be with us for the next 20 years. I guess it’s time to say goodbye.

Because you can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.

 

 

So Verklempt

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This week, I celebrated the birthdays of some dear, close friends and loved ones.

It’s interesting how birthdays often land on the same day. The same week. (Like my entire family’s birthdays – oh the leftover cake. I’m getting a sugar high just thinking about it.) All these people who I care about, all in one swoop. One week. One time of the year. All true friends. The kind you can share serious, life-changing events with and the next minute, laugh with until you almost pee through your Spanx. I also have two relatives who share the same birthday. They both have the biggest hearts and a sense of humor that often has me running to the nearest ladies room.

There were laughs, hugs, cards, toasts, giggles, dinners, brunches, gifts, four kinds of chicken salad, three kinds of salads and 45 reasons to celebrate this week. I’m honestly so verklempt. And I still need to celebrate with one of my dearest friends next week! I hosted a brunch for a very dear friend, my soul sister, who is such a breath of fresh air. And that familiar saying from SNL, “I’m Verklempt,” kept coming up as the tears welled up in her eyes. I repeated it, with a giggle or two. Because we both knew it was a special time. A genuine feeling of gratitude for good friends and good times. Print

And then, after a self-imposed and much-needed pause from Facebook, I checked my newsfeed. (I can’t help myself. It’s like chocolate for the brain.) Right then, I saw a post from one of my best childhood friends. A post that makes you pause. And hold your breath. And forget about all the trivial and political b.s. polluting the internet. All these happy moments. And then it slaps you in the face of how short life really is.  

My friend lost her grandfather this week. He was over 100 years old. She always shares updates about her visits with her grand dad, highlighting how despite his age, he maintained a sense of humor and intelligence that rivals some 65-year-olds. He was one of the good ones. Then I saw another post and then another from friends who have lost loved ones this week. Births. Deaths. Birthdays. Funerals. I honestly believe it doesn’t matter how old the person is when they pass. It’s their presence in your life that matters. The loss still leaves a huge hole in your heart. One that can linger the rest of your life.

It’s not my intention to have this post bring you down. But to remind you why we should celebrate. And to do it with meaning. We often get so caught up in our own stuff, schedules, menus, streamers, the this and the that. We worry so much about taking pictures of everything (yes I’m totally guilty of this), we forget to enjoy the moment. The moments. And to grab hold of the important people and take in the experiences. The present, not all the presents. (Not that hanging up adorable streamers is a bad thing. Especially when they’re pink. Or giving cute frames from Home Goods is a crime.) All I’m trying to say is that we need to remember the good times. The good people. And appreciate that although it feels like it, some of us aren’t going to be around in 50  or 60 years. But in 60 years, the people we love will remember the moments. The times we had. The sweet, precious times. So all I’m asking is make this year, this day, this moment count.

And have a piece of cake for crying out loud.😉

 

No more living in la-la-ah-la-soap-opera land, it’s time to write again

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If you grew up watching soap operas on lazy hot-as-heck summer days, then you know that it is quite phourglass1ossible (in TV land) for time to stand still. Every time I walk into a nail salon for a much-needed pedicure, I am reminded of this very fact. The characters on the TV monitor hairstyles may change, but the story line stays pretty much the same. Then a musical montage and credits followed by a monotonous theme song. (For the record,  I’m still wondering what happened to Cricket and Danny Romalotti on Young and the Restless and laugh every time I watch the movie Mr. Mom when Jack realizes that Victor’s vasectomy “didn’t take”. My friend K and I think we spotted Danny’s twin as a background guitarist at a recent concert by the way!)

And I digress. I’m standing before you (in a blog sense) admitting that I have been living in la-la-ah-la-soap-opera land, waiting for THIS to happen before I can do THAT. Until recently, I haven’t exactly been living in the present. I haven’t “seen” the present as a gift so much as a kind but passing gesture. The characters (meaning me as well as my loved ones, and no we are nothing like the Abbotts. Much less stuffy and my hair is always out of place) has changed but the story line in my mind’s eye has pretty much stayed the same. I’ve been waiting for THAT to happen so I can do THIS, and then things will be back on track. Well, guess what? Life isn’t a freaking soap opera. Although it would be pretty cool to have a wardrobe consultant and professional hairstylist at my convenience, I realize I’m 45 years old and it’s time to stop waiting for stuff to happen to do what I’m meant to be doing. I wanted to wait until house renovations were over, until my parents were feeling better, until the summer was over, until the kids went back to school, until yadda yadda yadda to get back into writing. ENOUGH. I can’t take it anymore. I’m ready to stop with the excuses and realize that although writer’s block is a real thing, writing for perfection is a big effing myth. If I can just write and not be afraid to write imperfectly, then maybe, just maybe (we will find out what happened to Cricket) I will find more joy in what I’ve always loved doing. (Which is writing. Because I’m writing right now.) I once read that writing is like sitting in front of a computer screen and waiting for your head to burst. That’s what writer’s block was like for me. I suffered from it for months. Weeks I tell you. And I feel bad for my husband, my super-patient and always funny husband who has a lot of patience, especially as the spouse of a writer. He knows me and he has seen it firsthand. If I’m not writing, even if it’s just writing for the heck of it, he knows I’m feeling off. And hard to live with…and kind of a pain in the arse. And who needs that? I think I just need to ignore the noise in my head that everything needs to be just right before I can do this or that. So here I am, trying to take a stab at this blog again. Living in the bold and beautiful present. And trying to write and eat more salad. Maybe it’s all the green stuff in my diet lately, but I’m feeling a sense of clarity that battles the sands in the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Call it a guiding light. I’m feeling like now’s the time.😉

 

Walshed Out?

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This summer, something happened.

I turned into the mom from 90210. Yes, I became, without trying or wanting to, Cindy Eff-ing Walsh.

Old school 90210, guys. You know the mom who sported a total mom-hair-do, never had a life because she was too busy swooping into random scenes, dropping off cookies or driving Brenda and Brandon to the Peach Pit? Hosting after-school parties and encouraging her kids and their friends to make good choices that circle back to an unrealistic but addicting TV plot?

That’s me.

awhhoh

OK, this is not really me, but I’ve been acting a lot like her this summer. Image from https://90sflashback.files.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

OK, I get it. We may not live in Beverly Hills. We may not have slow-but-sad-90’s-electric-guitar-melodies playing in the background. And God help me, I’m grateful I’m not raising Shannen Daugherty in mom jeans. (Brandon, now he’s a sweetheart, Brenda, she was a handful.) Anyhoo. My point, if I may try to land this ever-loving plane, is that I’ve become the new Mrs. Walsh. Replete with an iPhone, semi-updated but very end-of-summer-dead-endy-hair-do, two active but TV-ready Golden Retrievers and two great kids who at times may not think they need me and their dad anymore, but definitely had a fun summer because we provided free transportation, food and fun just about every day. (I’m not an Uber driver, but there were times I felt like one.)

Basically, this summer, I turned into something I often make fun of in spite of myself. I became a mommy martyr. I did everything for everybody else and put myself second, third, and sometimes, last. As a result, I stopped writing and put a “pin” in a lot of professional and personal projects. I let my ass go (grow). And I got a little cranky from time to time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a mom. But I have to say, I also like it when I’m not over-mommying.

And I definitely over-mommed and Mrs. Walshed my way through the break.

Oh, I did some stuff without my kids. Like going grocery shopping (and scrubbing grout). OK, I jogged (occasionally). And even went out with dear friends a couple times. But aside from those rare moments, I’m secretly thankful the summer break is over. I will miss the sunshine, swimming and s’mores fo-sho, but not the times I Mrs. Walshed my way through it.

I often wonder if my mom had this same problem. But then I realize back then, moms didn’t even know where we were half the time. We would wave goodbye after shoving down two bowls of Cheerios (with five spoonfuls of sugar) and not come home until the street lights came on. We could have joined a gang (at the mall) or tried to dye our hair (like Cyndi Lauper or Cindy Crawford), but we rode home safely on our Ten Speeds, just in time for The Muppets and Manwich Night.

I tried to capture a back to school photo (at 7 a.m.) today, and my kids didn’t really care. (Sniff, sniff.) Instead, my son, who is a sophomore in high school and my daughter (7th grader, like whatevs) decided to be silly by not smiling when I snapped the photo. My daughter playfully turned her back to the camera and my son made a faux-sad face.

Why would I expect anything different? They asked me to please not take a picture. “It’s too early, mom.” “We’re getting too old for this, mom.” But I did it anyway. Why? Because I’m Mrs. Eff-ing Walsh.

My kids are funny. They’re great kids. And I love them dearly. I’m grateful to be their mom. But….I’M ALSO VERY, VERY, VERY, VERY EXCITED THAT THEY ARE GOING BACK TO SCHOOL, BACK TO A ROUTINE, SO I CAN TOO! And so I can stop Walshing around and go back to being Jackie again.😉

 

 

Ode to Unwanted Facial Hair

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Dealing with unwanted facial hair makes you wonder if Lucy was onto something! – Image from I Love Lucy, the original TV series.

 

As the sun flashed through the windshield, it lit up every hair on my son’s 15-year-old face.

His chin. Even the fuzzy blond ones above his top lip.

I smiled, drove on, and didn’t really think about it.

Until we came to a stop light, and I caught another glance…

And realized what was staring back at me was something so familiar, my denial didn’t stand a chance.

I had no choice but to do the unthinkable, and turn the rear-view mirror ever so slightly toward me.

Holy.

Son-of-a.

OMG.

It can’t be.

Is that a teenage boy’s facial hair staring back at me?

As the sun exposed every one of my unwanted facial hairs.

From the invisible ones above my lip to the stubborn, long ones that shoot from the middle of my brows.

For every hair he had not shaved, I had one just like it times three,

Praying to be plucked and set free.

“Dang,” I thought, driving that day.

Wondering why the sun has to highlight every unwanted hair as plain as day.

Since turning 45, regardless of how much I thread, tweeze or pluck,

The hairs on my face seem to grow as quick as f**.

Forget about fancy waxes, tools or creams, it’s too late now.

My facial hair isn’t just “hair” anymore.

It’s stiffer, stronger and has a mind of its own.

Just when I think it’s taken care of, another five more grow.

It takes a professional village to keep these hairs at bay.

And just when I think I’m in the clear, a long, salt-n-peppa one comes my way.

Forget about the hairs on my chin, for it grows weekly,

Sometimes daily,

And has the ability to sprout overnight.

Showing up, unannounced, in the blinding sunlight.

Just in time for a big event.

And often accompanied by a painful (and bumpy) adult zit.

Something I had professionally threaded last week, seems to reappear after only a matter of days.

The one I can’t seem to figure out is the single, grey-ish, course one that randomly buds on the side of my face.

Oh unwanted facial hair, unwanted facial hair, what is it with thee?

I have you threaded, tweezed even plucked off, but you come back with a vengeance and it hasn’t even been a week.

Oh effing unwanted facial hair,

Nagging, effing unwanted facial hair.

You can suck the age spot forming on my left cheek.

Spanx and concealer

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sephora-concealer-penAllow me to let you in on a little secret, my friend: It’s not 40 you need to worry about.

No, at 40 you’re still feeling and looking like you’re an oh-so-Blake-lively 35.

Your stomach even bounces back after binging on white wine and a pint of Ben and Jerrys.

But somewhere between 43 and 45, let’s just say something wicked this way comes. And it’s not a Kard-dash-a-b-dong-a-dong that you need to worry about. That’s something you earn, girlfriend.

You know those nights when you’re psyched about your daily workouts and consistent low-carb, organic intake, so you decide to partake in a piece of cake or even a sleeve of chips? What happens to your body the next day at this age? Well, I don’t know how to break it to you.

What happens sucks donkey b@lls. Although you may have consumed equal parts water and wine and slept six to 8 hours, by 7 a.m., your stomach decides to take on a life of its own. Your stomach doesn’t know the difference between salt and vinegar chips and a gourmet chocolate torte. Regardless of the planks after your morning Zumba class or the rigorous run the day before, your stomach knows you took in something that’s not approved by Dr. Oz. So it decides to take the single devil dog you secretly devoured over the sink and transform into a dish sponge the size of a honeydew melon. Think of a squishy water balloon. Now add two more and place it on your belly. Your stomach has managed to absorb every salty, sugary, fun thing you’ve decided to treat yourself to the night before, expanding into a mound of flesh that hangs over your jeans like a plumber with a reverse crack problem.

But you slip on the Spanx and waa-laa, your pooch spreads out a little, making your bloated-ness SEEM like it has disappeared. (Only to prevent you from eating too much especially if you’ve purchased the off-brand Spanx at TJ Maxx five years ago, when you were actually a dress size smaller than you are now.)

OK, now onto my second little secret when you hit your mid-40s.

Concealer.

Ah, concealer.

I keep my Sephora friend in my car. In my purse. In my travel bag.

It is my special friend. Me and my concealer, we are like peas and carrots.

OK, to the friends of mine who don’t wear make-up, this doesn’t apply to you. I love you dearly, but I don’t get it. Wear something to the rest of us feel better, please. Tinted moisturizer even. Just once. Not everyone could possibly be this naturally beautiful without some kind of coverage. Or eyeliner. I grew up in Texas, where every girl’s mother had a make-up kit as big as a Barbie house and enough levels of Merle Norman, color-me-beautiful eyeshadow options that would make even Tammy Baker salivate.

Unlike the days when I would experiment with my mom’s makeup drawer before catching the school bus, showing up in homeroom with an orange foundation jawline fighting my Snow White neck, nowadays I don’t wear concealer because I want to. I do it so I don’t scare away small children. Mine included.

Now I don’t wear a lot of makeup, if you compare me to Mrs. Roper. But even the smallest amount helps cover up the bags under my eyes, the dark spots I’ve gained from sunning myself with Crisco in my hot-as-a-hotdog-in-hell Texas teen years. I wear sunscreen now even in the winter thanks to my grandmother scaring the Ba-Jeebus out of me about skin cancer on my oh-so-fair skin. Even when I wear sunless tanning lotion on my legs, all you can see are the streaks. (If you care to hear more about this dilemma, please revert back to my Pale Mom Legs column.)

So all I’m saying is when you turn 43, 44 and 45, don’t be shocked if you need these two things. And don’t be surprised at how much better you feel because you remembered them before leaving the house.

Spanx and concealer.

A 45-year-old girl’s new best friends.

And the Worst Mother of the Year Award Goes to….

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badmom4

There are many reasons I could be a candidate for Worst Mother of the Year. Or at least Worst Mother of the Month (especially if it’s THAT time of the month.)

There’s the emergency room Triaminic episode when my son was 3 (Triaminic does NOT contain fever-reducing medicine in case you’re wondering) , the dried blueberry barf episode when my daughter was 2, the portable-potty-training fail in the Regal Reptiles parking lot, the tantrum in the Barrington Middle School soccer field when my daughter just started running walking. And my very own whisper-yelling incidents while shopping with my kids. Pick any trip to the store, from any store, from 2001 to 2006, and I’d take home the Showcase Showdown.

I do try. But I think as a mom, when I try too hard to do the right thing, I end up looking like…a &hitty mom.

As my kids age, I keep thinking I’m in the clear. (My kids are 11 and 14, and will be turning 12 and 15 in a matter of weeks.) But a recent family movie night demonstrates that I’m sadly mistaken.

And that I’m still in the running to becoming America’s Next Top Worst Mom. americas_next_top_mom

I blame my mommy brain – I seem to recall the good stuff and block out the bad.

Allow me to back up a minute.

My daughter recently begged us to watch Forrest Gump for our family movie night. I think she saw the preview somewhere because we’re not sure where it came from. Given the fact that my husband and I often quote “Run, Forrest, Run” and “You can’t sit he-ah” and other lines from this 1994 Academy-award-winning movie without even realizing it, we thought it was a good idea. So after dinner and homework, we snuggled on the sofas with the dogs and started watching the story about the endearing fictitious character played by Tom Hanks. We laughed and congratulated ourselves as parents.

Until the part where you can hear Ms. Gump having sex. (So Forrest can attend public schools, mind you). And we forgot to hit fast-forward.

Or the scene where Forrest is in college and realizes he really, really likes Jenny and I practically twist my ankle reaching for the remote. And another swear word.

And then, oops, another scene, thank God I hit pause on Lieutenant Dan.

Thank God my kids can distinguish right from wrong. Bad words from appropriate words. And that some incidents go over the head of an almost 12-year-old.

I honestly forgot how inappropriate some movies are for kids. Even though I was practically a kid when I watched a lot of inappropriate movies. Hey – they were rated G and PG!

My dad took me and my best friend to see Stripes for crying out loud.

We saw Grease and my friends and I had a blast singing and acting out scenes from GREASE. I was 8 1/2 years old! (I had no idea what half of the underlying references were!) I was in the 6th grade when I saw Mommie Dearest, and to this day, I still quote lines from this cult classic.

My husband said he saw Jaws in the movie theater with his family the summer it was first released. He’s still scared to go in the pool.

Wow. How times have changed.

I guess you could say my kids built character from that movie night. And they joke that now they know even MORE words they SHOULDN’T say. (As if life doesn’t open them up to enough.) Thankfully, we giggled about the parental-guided deleted scenes. The bad words. And the reaching-for-the-g-d-remote incidents. There was still a universal message in Forrest Gump that warmed our hearts, regardless of the other stuff.

I guess next time, we’ll play Monopoly or Life or watch something from this century.

In the meantime, I will keep my head held high and grab hold of my imaginary award with pride, and thank God we’re not raising Kardashians.

 

 

Cold Snap

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My kids are off from school today. It’s a professional day in Barrington. Not to celebrate Leap Day. (It’s just a coincidence.) Did I mention they were also off for mid-winter break?

We had nine days at home.

Together.

In the winter.

Did I also mention it was in the middle of February?

And I work from home?

In Rhode Island?

During one of the coldest weeks in New England history.

Some towns had President’s Day off. We had nine consecutive days off.

In the middle of the winter.

Oh and we didn’t actually go away.

They just call it February vacation to make you feel better. mid-winter-break

In my mind, I envisioned my kids running on the beach in 85-degree weather. (While my husband and I indulged in treats with tiny umbrellas.)

But then we found out our kids had sports commitments that couldn’t be missed. And practices all week long.

“It’s all good, we’ll have a staycation,” I said out loud in a June Cleaver casserole-eating-grin as I lowered my head… and my expectations. And then proceeded to down a handful of chocolate chips.

I had to gulp back dreams of February vacation days gone by when the kids were little and sports commitments didn’t conflict with school breaks. So I pulled out the sleds, set up Sorry and begrudgingly clicked “LIKE” on Facebook posts from friends vacationing in Cancun (and God knows where else).

We had nine days ahead of us with practice schedules and “hang out” plans with friends.

Don’t get me wrong. It was relaxing. For the first couple of days.

Then, snap.81dd715ac569

I didn’t actually snap. I mean cold snap.

Not just any ordinary winter storm. But one of those holy schnikies-below-freezing-New-England-winter-storms-where-your-nose-(and left nipple)-nearly-falls-off-when-you-open-the-door”.

Our plans to host sledding parties were replaced with frozen pipes and plumbing issues. At one point, the temperature fell to 45 degrees. In our family room. Eventually, the heat came back on. The pipes thawed out. And life went back to normal. I brought a car load of teenagers to the ice skating rink, the mall, and Dave and Busters. We went out to eat, baked cookies, hosted some friends and family and my husband and I even managed to fit in a date night in Boston.

In retrospect, it wasn’t that bad. No, we didn’t go to Disney World or Paradise Island. We didn’t come back with sun or ski tans.

But we did get to spend some quality family time together. From the Game of Life to the Walking Dead and a lot of giggles in between, we had a great time.

Even in the middle of the winter.

For nine days.

Together.

But for the love of everything scholastic, I pray that the kids don’t have any holidays, snow days, professional days or any unexpected days off for a few weeks so I can get back to a routine.

I think we’re in the clear.

Shut the front door.

I forgot about Spring Break!