There’s nothing quite like Pajama Jeans on Valentine’s Day

I can’t believe it’s almost Valentine’s Day. And my dad’s birthday! (Happy birthday, Dad!)

Are you prepared? We do something to celebrate the holiday every year. My husband and I have been married for 22 years. Because we tend to get a little tired of the same-old, same-old every Valentine’s Day, we do something a little out of the ordinary. We go all-out for birthdays, Christmas and our anniversary. But Valentine’s Day, not so much. We actually treat it as opposite day. Gag gift day. Kind of a joke day with some candy and other goodies to boot.

My husband is witty. He likes to use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to give me the cheesiest Infomercial-inspired gag gift possible. Through the years, he has given me a Snuggie (with a free reading light), Pajama Jeans, roses from the gas station, an As Seen on TV-featured “Ahh Bra” and the Time/Life Country Love Songs collection, which I still blast in my car. If you hear me singing along to Willie Nelson at a stop light, you’ll realize that it’s no joke how much I love that gift.

I can’t wait to see what he’s getting me this year. I’m secretly hoping for a useless As Seen on TV gag gift like this one: https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Booty-Pop-Enhancing-Panties/dp/B005Q1NQRM/&tag=rankercom-20

 

 

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Merry, merry Christmas

Just wanted to sneak in a little note to wish you a very Merry Christmas! With all the rushing around, it’s easy to forget the true reason for the season. (Who can blame us? The pressure to try to get everything done in a matter of weeks can be maddening.)

I’ve been guilty of forgetting what it’s all about some days too. The good news I think I’ve finally forgiven Santa for forgetting to give me Baby Alive in 1975. Hello, we were in Texas! We didn’t even HAVE a fireplace!)

Hug your kids. Be extra grateful for loved ones, near and far. (And for those really near, try to be patient with your 92 year old aunt, jello mold and all.)

The memories from these times last a lifetime.

This year, I’m incredibly grateful for my precious family and friends, …(and Amazon).

Wishing you and your family an incredible day! 🎄🎀💕🎄🎀💕

As Seen on Providence Moms Blog: Don’t Let the Holidays Stress You Out. Follow These Sanity-Saving Tips

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‘Tis the season for holiday cheer. And holiday stress. So, what is a mom to do?Breathe in and out. And follow my holiday sanity-saving tips below.

Give back. Give something. Anything. Whether your time, your talent, gifts, or meals to those in need. Inspire your kids to get involved. Do something with a charity that means something to you. This can instantly put you in the holiday spirit and remind you and your family about the true meaning of the holidays. One of my local favorite charities is Ronald McDonald House of Providence. I gathered some friends recently to do a charity walk in support of RMH. It was an inspiring day! Find a charity road race in your area to help kick off the season in a positive way.

Be a thoughtful gift-giver. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. Set a gift-giving budget that makes sense for your family. And remember, the more THOUGHT you put into the gift, the better.

-Decorate in stages. Don’t expect to put every holiday decoration up in one day. Be realistic. Make it a family affair. Do it in stages. Outdoor lights one entire weekend, wreaths the next. Then the tree. And so on, and so on. Start early so it’s fun.

Make holiday cards less taxing. Don’t worry about taking a professional family portrait for your holiday card every season. Use an existing family photo and create a card online using sites like Shutterfly.com, TinyPrints.com or Snapfish.com. You can also print existing photos and place them in ready-made photo cards found at card shops like The Paper Store. If you’re having a busy year, take a break and send an email card to loved ones. Or surprise them with a New Year’s card instead. Or have your kids create a Christmas drawing and make multiple copies and give them out as cards.

Create a new tradition. If you’re tired of dragging your kids to different places every holiday, create a new tradition and invite family and friends to your house. If you get stressed out about planning a party, remind yourself it can be anything you want it to be. Make the event more of an open house, prepare a couple simple dishes ahead of time, and ask people to bring items to help lessen the load. Remember, it’s not a contest. It’s about being together for the holidays.

Think outside of the (Big) Box. If you don’t know what to buy for someone, stay away from Big Box stores and visit local shops in your area. The gifts they have in store may surprise you. Plus it’s more fun!

Give something homemade. Make something homemade like cookies or pastries and place them in decorative baskets, boxes, or tins. Have your kids pitch in to make it even more special. These make thoughtful gifts for teachers, neighbors, friends, and relatives. Tie it with special ribbon to add a nice touch.

– Start a Secret Santa Swap. Talk to family members about starting a Secret Santa gift exchange to lessen the load. We do this with our extended family so you only have to buy one gift if you have 25 cousins and three aunts, for example. You can set a specific price limit so you’re respectful of everyone’s budgets. The idea also means less shopping for everyone. We use Elfster.com to help pick names for loved ones who live out of state.

Shop online. The internet is your friend this time of year. Use it to do all your shopping if necessary. But never leave your computer open to gift-giving web sites or you’ll spoil the fun. Either pin favorite items on Pinterest.com or email yourself specific web sites so you don’t forget what’s on your list.

– Special messages. If you’re out of ideas for special people in your life, try a “homemade and from the heart” gift – a Holiday Memory Jar. You don’t have to be a Pinterest queen, I promise. This is something we’ve done for my mother and mother-in-law (and my grandmother who passed away last year). All you need: One empty mason jar, a bow and small pieces of paper. Divide the papers (365 individual pieces for daily messages or 52 for weekly messages) evenly throughout your family. Each family member (especially kids) writes a special or funny saying, message or memory on each piece of paper. The recipient can enjoy opening a new message every day of the year.

Host a Swap. Start a White Elephant or Yankee Swap gift exchange with friends or family members. Invite them to your gift swapping party and enjoy the evening over cocktails and appetizers. If this stresses you out, wait and do it in January!

Share Stories. Looking to give something a little different this year? Give the gift of family stories through a web site called Storyworth.com. Each week, a loved one answers prompted questions about their life and childhood and by the end of the year, they receive 52 stories compiled into a hard cover book for family members to enjoy. I’ve given StoryWorth to my husband and dad and they both say they’ve enjoyed it immensely. We look forward to seeing their private books in 2018. For more details, visit StoryWorth.com.

Give experiences. If you can’t think of what to give that special someone who has everything, do something different this year. Give EXPERIENCES rather than traditional gifts. Make a Year of Wishes Jar filled with 52 pieces of paper listing individual weekly ideas for you to do together. Ideas can range from simple to extravagant, from going on a bike ride to tickets to a concert. Tailor the wishes according to that person and your budget.

http://providence.citymomsblog.com/holiday/holidays-stress-sanity-saving-tips/

Taking Some Quiet Time in Their Honor

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In honor of Veterans Day, I’m doing something this week that I rarely do ­­– observing a moment of silence. Taking some quiet time in their honor. I know it’s hard to imagine, but it’s for something close to my heart. My grandfather fought in two wars and survived Pearl Harbor. He was an amazing man and went through more than anyone in our family could ever comprehend. As a kid, you hear war stories from your grandfather and then jump back on your Huffy, because it’s too much to take in. Can you imagine trying to tell your children today? When you really stop and think about what veterans go through, it’s mind-boggling. And not only their sacrifices, but the emotional roller coaster endured by their mothers. Can you imagine sending a child off to war? Your own child? Our mother’s mothers, our grandmother’s mothers and even our grandmother’s…

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Blogging Moms

I hope you’re having an awesome summer!

In case you missed it on Facebook (or maybe you’re not even on Facebook), I wanted to share my latest article from a site where I feel right at home (and I’m honored to be a contributing writer): Providence Moms Blog!  

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Comparing Ourselves to Other Women: She Said, We Said.

I’ve done it. You’ve done it. We’ve all done it.

But you may not realize how harmful it can be. I’m not talking about eating gluten at midnight or consuming free celebrity gossip while waiting in line at the grocery store. I’m talking about comparing yourself to other women.

There’s nothing worse than comparing yourself to other women, especially when you become a new mom. Comparing myself to other moms brings out a side of me that thankfully not too many people get the pleasure of seeing (except, of course, my husband and kids).

The crazy thing is it didn’t start when I became a new mom. It started when I was pregnant.

Well into the first trimester of my first pregnancy, I’d look down at my 1999 (mom) jeans with a rubber band tied around the button-fly waist and think, “Well, this isn’t going to hold out much longer.” My husband and I hardly had enough money to pay for parking in downtown Seattle, let alone buy stylish “office-appropriate” maternity clothes. (I happened to be pregnant with my first child before Target or Old Navy launched their maternity lines. Yes, I’m that old.) I’d see all the hip young moms-to-be strutting around Seattle wearing designer maternity suits and stress out when I couldn’t find one that cost less than what my husband and I were paying on a monthly basis to rent our one-bedroom apartment.

I was excited about being pregnant, but didn’t realize the harm I was doing by comparing myself to other women so early on.

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So I got creative. I stuck with basic black and consignment store finds and pressed on.

For another month.

The further along I got in my pregnancy, the more worries started worming their way into my head.

With random questions popping up, such as:

Why is that mom reading literature to her unborn child in the park? (As I put down a copy of US Weekly.) Will my baby come out humming Pearl Jam and asking about Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt?

Should I be teaching him a second language? (¿Dónde está el baño?) (I barely had enough energy to meet work deadlines, let alone cram in post-college Spanish sessions.)

Will my child be an under-achiever because I don’t play Baby Mozart for him in the womb? (As I turned up Cyndi Lauper in my car.)

How many more weeks can I stretch my basic black elastic waist-band skirt until it pops? (It popped about a week later.)

When it came to a delivery plan, I started to second-guess my choices based on what other mothers were doing, from Washington to Women’s Health magazine. Although I admired women like Ricki Lake who had a natural birth, I had an incredibly challenging first birth experience (including false labor, hemorrhaging, and surgery), which meant the word “Epidural” was my new best friend. I didn’t realize I’d be judged by other women for having one. And these were women who weren’t even my friends. They were women I’d met casually through birthing class, the doctor’s office or friends of friends. “Excuse me for not wanting to DIE in childbirth,” I’d think to myself. And because of the trauma, I was not physically able to breast feed. Lord knows I caught flack for bottle-feeding. I loved my new little guy, all 8 pounds, 9 ounces of him.

But I always ended up feeling like somehow, I wasn’t doing the right thing for him. My grandmother once told me being clueless is what being a new parent is all about. None of us know what the heck we’re doing when we become parents, but you have to trust yourself, open your mind, and know it’s going to be OK.

Sixteen years and two children later, I’ve had my fair share of re-thinking my decisions on everything from potty training to playdates. Honestly, I’m more concerned about curfews and college tours these days. But that’s fodder for another post.

I remember hearing moms brag about their 19-month-olds directing their urine stream perfectly into a Cheerio. (While my toddler son would turn to me and pause before peeing in a Pull-Up.) At the time, I thought I was a failure for not succeeding at potty training him at 20 months. Oh, we tried. My entire family knows I tried. But I can assure you, he did not go to preschool peeing into a Pull Up. He was fully trained a few months later and never had an accident.

Through the years, I’ve learned to stop.
To stop listening to the noise. The comparisons. The celebrity advice. And go with what works for me.

Oh, I enjoy learning from other moms. But I’d rather giggle with them. I find that the more confidence I have in what works for me and my family, and the less I compare myself to other women, the better off I am. (The better off we all are!) I’d rather laugh with other moms and celebrate our imperfections. It’s more fun (and a heck of a lot healthier) for everyone.

I hope you can find some time to visit Providence Moms Blog. I promise you’ll find something special written by fab moms who share pieces of wit and wisdom. And feel free to visit this link to find some other articles I’ve written too.

Maybe we can be friends on Snap Chat? Or not.

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I realize I promised I wouldn’t write about my kids any more. But as a mom of two teenagers, sometimes, to quote a line from Risky Business, you’ve got say, “What the f**k, Joel.”

I feel like I’ve been holding in gas for a year.

Besides, they’ll never read this, right? I mean, are you friends with your kids on social media? Let me rephrase that: Are you friends with your teenagers on ALL of their social media accounts?

Exactly. (No judging here, I get that everyone parents differently.)

I tried friending my 16-year-old son who opened a Facebook account solely for school-sports-team reasons. He politely ignored my friend request. A few weeks went by and I asked him about it. The boy inherited his father’s quiet, dry wit. He looks at me, laughs and says, “Sorry mom, it’s never going to happen.”

And you can forget Instagram or Twitter. I tried friending my 13-year-old daughter on both and during breakfast one morning (after sending her invitations to befriend the woman who brought her into this world), she basically said, “Nope. Sorry, mom” with her eyes.

My teens are still great, caring kids. Especially when they’re sleeping.

As if my social media life isn’t pathetic enough, a very dear friend recently introduced me to Snapchat. I’m still awaiting my kids’ friend requests. (I’m on there as Jackie Hennessey or ventingsessions – I can’t seem to figure out how to add SnapChat to my laptop. One thing at a time, right?)

I think I have 12 friends on SnapChat. I swear I’m not a social Shrek. It’s just that everyone I know my age has yet to open a SnapChat account, let alone figure out this app that is probably one of the most popular communication tools used by teens. Think trading notes in study hall in the 1980’s. My kids are constantly taking selfies, only to disappear into some God-forsaken social chat candy land. A place where rainbows and unicorns actually exist.

I personally like the SnapChat filters where it erases my stray eyebrow hairs and age spots. But my daughter claims I’m using it wrong.

“Doing what wrong? I’m responding to my friend’s Snap Chat text messages.”

“You’re not really Snap-chatting, mom.”

Whatever. As if. True story. I actually muffled these very words under my breath and went to my room to listen to Madonna on Pandora.

I do recommend trying out SnapChat. It’s like text messaging with Cybil Shepard filters. And it’s not about being the most popular. (Because apparently, I’m sitting at the lunch table of the misfits.) If anything, you get to learn why your teens are busying themselves in this fantasy land. If you ask me, it’s nothing compared to MTV in the 1980’s. But it helps you relate to their world a little. It kind of reminds me of taking Jazzercise with my mom back in the 1980s. We had fun. Until I turned 13. Skip, ball change, I love my mom. But to this day, every time I hear a De Barge song, I cringe a little, and experience PJSD post-Jazzercise-stress-disorder flashbacks.

I found a smiley face link inside the SnapChat app that allows me to share bitmojis. Bitmojis are basically cartoon versions of ourselves. Oh yes. Caricatures. You get to sport permanent eyeliner, a waist and you can wear skinny jeans that don’t fall off your butt. FullSizeRender-2

So my mom friend and I sometimes swap caricatures of ourselves playing the piano or hanging out on a sofa wearing skinny jeans. Another friend and I exchange laugh-out-loud bitmoji messages where we’re doing Karoake. And she’ll send selfies wearing a flowery princess crown. I do the same and have actually saved the photo to use as a potential Facebook profile pic. (Where I have hundreds of friends.https://www.facebook.com/jackie.hennessey1) (Or Twitter, https://twitter.com/JackieHennesse1 where I have lot of friends too. 2,700 and counting.) IMG_6412

I know, I know. It seems like a total waste of time. But it’s a cool tool. And very 13 of me. But fun at the same time.

Just don’t tell my kids.

Listen Up, Moms

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There’s a show that’s coming to town that can’t be found in movie theaters, on Netflix or on Hulu. One that’s downright entertaining and inspiring. I’m talking about the 2017 Listen to Your Mother Show. If you’ve never heard of it before, it’s an on-stage show created by Ann Imig that features original readings by local writers in celebration of motherhood. If you are familiar, you’re aware that it is a Mother’s Day phenomenon that has grown from one performance in one city to 29 shows around the country. And it has featured some amazing people.

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I felt the need to write about the Listen to Your Mother show because sadly, it is coming to an end nationally this year. The last Providence show is this week, Thursday, May 4. I’m honored to share the stage for the finale with cast members Karen CL Anderson, Liana Cassar, Elizabeth DaRosa, Brianne DeRosa (director/producer/cast member), Kirsten DiChiappari (director/producer/cast member), Chelley Martinka (producer), Magnolia Perez and Alexandra Vaillancourt. Proceeds from the show help support Foster Forward, an organization that helps connect mentors for children in foster care.
I recommend seeing the finale in your city. (It’s in RI on May 4 at the Providence Public Library at 7 p.m.). I’ve seen performances from the audience… and from the stage.
It’s been four years since I was a cast member of the inaugural Providence show. 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 and fears before taking the stage.
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The whole experience, from audition to final show, was so much greater than the sum of the parts. Each cast member, although 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. And no one left disappointed.
It was an experience I’ll never forget. And I’m so proud of the women co-producing this year’s show, my fellow 2013 LTYM cast mates, Kirsten DiChiappari and Brianne DeRosa and my friend and Rhody Blogger sister, Chelley Martinka.
I’m honored to be sharing the stage with an incredible group of women this year, including my friend, fellow Barrington mom, Liana Cassar. We’ve already laughed and cried together during rehearsals and the connection is real. This year’s ensemble is made up of remarkable women who have stories to share that will have you giggling one minute and grabbing a tissue the next.
For more information about the Listen To Your Mother Show, please visit http://listentoyourmothershow.com/providence/2017/
What: Providence Listen To Your Mother Show
When: May 4, 2017
Where: Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street
How: Tickets can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets: www.ltympvd17.brownpaper

Does this blog make my butt look big?

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I haven’t written about this formally. (Not that I’ve ever been mistaken for being formal.) But I had an expansion problem the better part of 2016. Meaning my ass had expanded so much, if I wore a new pair of PJ pants one-size-too-small, I stretched them out to the point of can’t-be-returned. Now I realize people in Hollywood often pay big bucks for a big bum. But no one would want this brand. One that comes with a side of back fat and doesn’t stop until it reaches the pre-thunder-thigh region.

I’d look in my closet mirror and realize my backside was effing unrecognizable. My front side too.

I was in total shock.

How did this happen?

I was always on the thinner side. As a kid, my nickname was Snack-a-lyn Jacqueline because I could eat like a lumber Jack and get away with it. Today, if I dare list “what I eat in a day,” poor gorgeous Gwyneth would Goop in her organic cotton shorts. My metabolism was so fast in my teen years, I’d consume as many calories as a weight lifter, ride my bike, swim, jog and Jazzercise it off and wake up and eat four bowls of Wheaties. And probably lose a pound in the process.

But things changed after having kids. After turning 40. And REALLY took a turn nearly a year ago. The very day I turned 45. Before I could shove down a tiny slice of Death by Chocolate birthday cake, I felt like I had grown a third butt cheek.

It wasn’t that I had increased my calorie intake.

Or stopped exercising.

It was simple: When I turned 45, my body didn’t work the same way. It remembered things. Like the cookie I ate after 8 p.m. The cheese dip I had at a party Friday night. Or the chocolate I consumed after dinner.

Now, I love everything about getting older.  The wisdom. The not giving a crap about what other people think. The laughter. The friendships. The experiences. The wisdom mixed with occasional brain pharts. My marriage. My family. But I could definitely do without the expansion problem.

Since September, I’ve started a new thought and get -thinner process that has allowed me to reduce the size of my booty (and other body parts).

If you want a bittier booty, try these 10 tips:

  1. Move your body. This advice comes straight from my dear BFF here in RI who is a Yoga gal and looks like a Barbie doll at age 51. Move it or lose it, people.
  2. Make it a point to walk or jog every day, rain or shine. If I’m not in the mood to run or walk outside, I go on the treadmill in my garage. And giggle to Chelsea Handler or Mindy Kaling. If I don’t have time for the treadmill, I jog in place while drying my hair. (You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.) If I can’t jog in place, I take the steps rather than the elevator or park my car far away from a store so I can sneak in some extra steps.
  3. Sneak in stretches and squeezes. If you can’t take a class, try stretching while you’re drying your hair!
  4. Don’t drink your calories. I used to have a soy green tea latte every morning. Little did I know that such a seemingly healthy drink would end up becoming an unhealthy addiction. A 240-calorie one at that! Now I order a jade mint green tea heaped in hot water. And I try to avoid soy milk because for some reason, it has a tendency to make my butt grow.
  5. GRAZE. I swear it’s a good thing. If I go hours without eating, I’m more likely to crave unhealthy options. But if I graze or snack often on good stuff, mixed with some chocolate and then maybe some more treats, I’m good to go.
  6. Drink water. Then more water. Then some more. Avoid sports drinks unless you’re training for a triathlon or marathon.
  7. Never skip breakfast. Whether it’s a smoothie, a handful of almonds or a piece of turkey bacon, eat something. If you skip, trust me, you’re going to feel weak and crave macaroni and cheese by 11:30 a.m.!
  8. Throw out your scale. (Or at least put it away for a while.) Weighing myself can be downright depressing. I drink a glass of water and gain two pounds. It’s about how you feel and look in clothes that makes all the difference.
  9. Make it in a mason jar. Every week, I make a week’s worth of mason jar salads filled with gorgeous greens, sweet peppers, carrots, tomatoes and banana peppers. You name it, it’s in there. Email me if you want to know my trick to making a salad stay fresh, delicious and soggy-free for a week! jackie@ventingsessions.com
  1. Be balanced. I love juicing veggies, but I’ve never gone on all-juice cleanses because I’m hypoglycemic and my blood sugar dips if I don’t consume enough protein or calories. Everyone is different. Instead, I take Juice Plus dried veggie and fruit capsules to help me stay on track. Visit my BFF’s site for more information: http://taylorwells.juiceplus.com/us/en I also eat chocolate every day. I give into cravings, but make sure I move my body the next day. It’s about creating a cycle of good habits that help me feel better and reduce the size of my booty!

From leather to like buttah: Easy steps to softer skin

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Something has to be said about winter skin. I have a feeling you know what I’m talking about. The dry, crackly, chalkiness that rears its leathery head right around Christmas break. And lasts until you squeeze into your Easter dress.

If you’re over 40, you may find an extra dic-26516-11chin hair in there to make it that much more attractive.493277815314351e9d0ee999dc602b90

I’ve embraced the fact that the shade of my skin resembles milk this time of year. Maybe vanilla bean ice cream if I add a dab of tinted moisturizer to my routine. (Something I’ve always bragged about from heeding my grandmother’s advice by the way – moisturizer. I’ve worn it on my face since I was 18 years old and I may not be Reese Witherspoon, but people do tell me around spring time that I act look like I’m in my mid-30’s.)

But winter skin?

That’s a drier story.

So when a dear friend who represents CRUNCHI, a very on-trend brand of cosmetics that offers a mix of organic and synthetic ingredients volunteered to give me a makeover, I felt like a 14-year-old walking into the cosmetic department at Foley’s at Baybrook Mall. https://crunchi.com/rep/lisadavis/ (Minus the light blue eyeshadow and buffet of unidentified 1985 made-for-Texas-beauty-pageant-queens toxins, of course.) I needed all the help I could get. And the fact that this line is toxin-free was a bonus! https://crunchi.com/our-story/

So I did it. I sat in her adorable dining room chair with my hair pulled back, ready to be beautified. /

We chatted up a storm.

She removed a layer of tinted moisturizer and mascara and eyeliner, a-la-Tammy Fay. I was bare-faced and begging for mercy. Then, after applying moisturizer a second time, she got quiet.

Moments later, after applying primer, she was still quiet.

Then after trying a third time to apply primer, then moisturizer, then concealer, she finally said, “Oh my goodness, your skin is dry, Jackie. REALLY, REALLY dry.”

Tell me something I DON’T KNOW! The struggle with winter skin is real. I wash my face every night and wear night serum, wash it every morning and slather on moisturizer with 25 SPF every day. But..(and with me, there’s usually a but) I didn’t realize I was missing a step in my daily and nightly routine.

A step probably every gal in America knows about, except me. (I blame it on the fact that I don’t have a sister by the way.)

So, I put my listening ears on and she told it to me straight.

“Do you use toner?”

“Did you say boner or toner?”

(Oh C’mon. You would have said it too.)

In all seriousness.

“You HAVE TO use toner before you moisturize!”

“Really? But doesn’t that dry my skin more?”

“No! If you don’t use toner, it’s like…stepping into the shower with your clothes still on!”

“Oh, well, holy heck, how about that? I learn something new every day!”

So, the lesson here?  Use toner. Applying an astringent or toner before you moisturize doesn’t dry out your skin. It actually helps your skin drink in the moisturizer! I also highly recommend primer if you use concealer as generously as I do post-mid-life-insomnia nights.

This is how good of a friend she is: She told me I can use WITCH HAZEL! The odd-smelling stuff that comes in a hydrogen peroxide-style bottle that you used on mosquito bites when you were 12? Yeah, that stuff! A bottle of Witch hazel costs maybe $6 at CVS. And you know what else? IT WORKS! My skin has been so much softer looking since I’ve started using toner BEFORE I moisturize.

So heed the advice of my chemical-free beauty guru friend: Wash, tone, moisturize. Rinse and repeat daily!

Ways to de-crank your winter

I know, I get it. There are many reasons to be in a cranky mood right now.

It’s winter. It’s raining. It’s fil_570xn-835145738_fg7treezing.

Your to-do list is a mile long.

The amazing Mary Tyler Moore (R.I.P.) sadly just left this world.

You know who is making headlines. Sorry, it’s not my thing to talk politics here (or at the dinner table).

But if you stop for a moment, without checking your feed, breathe (and breathe some more), you may realize there is a reason or two to NOT be a total crank. To not put everyone around you in an even crankier mood.

Even in winter. When it’s effing freezing.

Embarrassingly enough, this truth came to me while recently binge-watching the HBO series, The Leftovers. You could call it my “cotton candy for the brain” after the kids go to bed. Let’s just say when you’re the only one up at 10:30 p.m. watching this show and your husband (and the dogs) are simultaneously snoring, you tend to put things into perspective.

So here it is…

My list of reasons to de-crank and crack a smile this winter:

  1. Just be effing grateful to be alive.
  2. You never know when those around you will suddenly disappear, without a trace. (OK, I get it, The Leftovers is a fictitious show.) But you NEVER KNOW. That alone should put a pig-eating grin on your face.
  3. Things may be crazy right now, but it’s not like we live among monsters and have to run from them every morning just to get a stinking coconut.
  4. The Zombie Apocalypse is not real.
  5. And even if it was real, you’d still have an opportunity to pick up an adequate supply of clean water, food (and axes).
  6. Do you have a roof over your head? A way to pay the bills? Grin.
  7. Do you have your own teeth? Smile for crying out loud.
  8. Do you have access to wine? Beer?
  9. Chocolate chips? Cashews? M & Ms?
  10. I recommend pouring #8 into a glass, then carefully combine ingredients from #9 into a small mason jar, shake it up, and binge-watch something after everyone goes to bed!

Happy, Hurried, Joy, Joy

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When I was in my 30’s, I was a working mom. A bit harried (but a happily married) working mom. When I was working full-time, I have to admit, I didn’t have time for a lot of things. I’m not just talking about professional eyebrow pluckings or pedicures. There were moments when my friends wondered how I even managed to leave the house with a clothed child, let alone remember to put my own clothes on.Working mother and child. Vector.

Although I’m proud to say I never commuted to work naked, (now THAT would have been an interesting blog post) I do remember times when I’d arrive in two completely different shoes. With dried up baby barf on my blazer. And split nails. (Not broken nails. You see, that would imply that I actually had enough time for an occasional professional manicure.)

I do vividly remember plucking my eyebrows during traffic jams.  (And I also recall my son getting car sick all over the back seat two blocks from the daycare. On more than one occasion, the poor thing.)

Thankfully, I managed to quickly jog, shower, fix breakfast and slap on some concealer (and clothes) before my daily commute. But most days, I’d arrive disheveled. Sometimes with a pounding head. And most days, with a hankering for a tall hot tea containing enough caffeine to wipe away weeks of mommy insomnia.

When I look back, I don’t know how I did it. I just did it. I had no choice. Then again, I was much younger.

Time. Ahhhhh, time.

Back then, I never seemed to have enough time. And although I’ve always been a positive person, not having enough free time made me downright cranky at times.

These days, I no longer have little ones. And I no longer work full time. I’m blessed with a  healthy tween and teen and work from home as a consultant, and most days, I’m transformed into a glorified but unpaid mommy uber driver.

Over time, a lot has changed. But then again, I’m still a happily married working mom. But I’m no longer harried. Harry, yes, in between eyebrow appointments, but not harried. My husband and I are happy together, raising two kids who are growing up before our eyes.

But these days, I have to say, I’m less hurried, less harried a heck of a lot less harry.

I actually carve out time for myself. I find time to fit in more joy. It took years of hard work to get to this place in life. I didn’t just wake up and randomly become a consultant. I built up my career over the course of more than 20 years. Two decades of sleepless nights, crazy schedules and budgetary sacrifices. And we planned things out together to get where we are now. Sure, there’s still crazy days. Occasional sleepless nights.

But somehow, I find time to fit in more joy. In everyday moments. From singing in the car with my kids to watching them play sports to joining my husband for a “date” night at home on a Friday night (in between ubering) to taking a walk to the beach with my best friend.

Life is fleeting. And all I’m saying is, it’s worth it to find time for more joy.

Hello, January

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ht_january_jones_lb_150403_16x9_992January.

Ah, January.

(I’ll bet January Jones (aka Betty Draper) is feeling especially important this month.)

So many look forward to you.

So many look forward to saying goodbye to December. (Side thought to ponder: Could December ever be a contender for a Hollywood baby name? Probably not, but you never know?)

Now is the time to embrace January. In all its glory. (Not the adorable actress, the month.)

(Freezing rain, snow and all.)

Just think- a whole new year.

A year of brand new days.

A blank slate.

New promises.

New habits.

A new you.

Me?

Oh, I’ve been part of that “so many” before. And I’ve been away from this page for a while too. For many unexpected reasons. I don’t want this to be all about those sad reasons, except to say that this year, I’m not about unrealistic expectations. (Except I do hope the new hair brush I bought recently helps calm my frazzled winter hair.)

I don’t want it to be about crazy, unrealistic promises.

Or unattainable habits.

Or a new me.

I actually like the “me” I am today. And the one I was last week. And last year. Fly-away hair and all. When you’re over 40, I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about. Not just about unmanageable hair, but celebrating who you are.

Rather, I want 2017 to just “be”.

I want it to be about appreciating the people in my life.

The people who have come and gone.

About being present.

Quiet. (Well, maybe not completely quiet, bust listening more and talking a little less. Or maybe not talking less, but taking a teensy pause here and there.)

Laughing, like I always do.

And not sweating the small stuff.

And doing everything with meaning.

So yeah, 2017 is going to be a good year.

But I think last year was pretty awesome too.

Remember, it’s not about the headlines.

It’s not about what an article promises.

It’s not about what some expert says…or doesn’t say.

When it comes down to it, 2017 is about what YOU make of it.

 

 

 

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.