What I Learned Folding Leggings

I just completed my second – and final – stint working in retail and have a few takeaways that I think might benefit the public at large.

For a year, I was lucky that I got to spend a few days a week at an upscale athleisure emporium at my local, like, fancy strip mall, and I worked with pretty awesome customers. I enjoy giving other people my opinions, so lording over a dressing room while ladies tried stuff on was right up my alley.

But there were some head-shaking moments; situations where I’d find myself whispering, “Really?” to a fellow legging-folder.

One customer, who’d tried on pretty much half the store and had me running around trying to find her size in a few items — emerged from her dressing room holding a handful of items she was buying and said, “You’re gonna hate me.”

And I was like, “Stop! Go on! Have a nice day!”

As she walked away, I pulled back the curtain and thought, “I totally hate her.”

Half the store lay inside out and scattered all over the floor.

And don’t even get me started about having to lift those adhesive bathing suit pantyliners off the floor with paper towels. Woof.

So, who knows? Maybe I’d been guilty of committing some of the same crimes in the past before I knew any better. My youngest daughter certainly thinks I have. Consider this my mea culpa. Shoppers, please take note:

  1. Clean up after yourself.

Seriously, ladies, I already have four kids and am way too old to be cleaning up after you. Don’t leave clothes inside out on the floor or piled on a chair. I’m not saying you need to hang them up perfectly to go right back out onto the floor, but putting things back on hangers is a basic courtesy. Like using the chicken wing when you sneeze. People working retail are not getting paid enough to coddle your body dysmorphia (see #3) and clean up after you. Not even close.

  1. Keep your hands to yourself.

I understand the urge to touch stuff when you’re shopping. I’m big on that, too. But if you’re looking through a pile of, say, t-shirts, for your size and a salesperson asks if she can help find if for you, for the love of Christ say “yes.” She is not asking to be nice. She is asking so that she doesn’t have to re-fold the entire bloody pile after your tornado hands have moved on. 

  1. Stop feeling bad about yourself.

I have logged enough hours standing in a dressing room to say, with confidence, that most women hate their bodies. Or at the very least, certain parts of their body. This goes for women in amazing shape as well as a 91-year-old gal I helped not long ago who fretted over her upper arms. Ladies! Let’s just be happy we’re here and can afford to shop for athleisure wear! Honestly. The good news is that it’s made me super-aware of when I start to do that stuff myself. Please smack me if you hear me complaining about my midsection.

  1. Gentlemen: don’t harass legging folders.

To the old coot who recently suggested I pull up my shirt as I helped him pick out a couple of outfits as gifts, this is not 1977. That is no longer the culture. Just ask Harvey Weinstein. I just wish I hadn’t been so shocked when he said it that I was unable to call him out for being a scuzzy old pig. Instead, I finished helping him shop and then threw the stuff on the checkout counter — where someone gift wrapped it for him — and ran to the back of the store.

  1. Everyone should work in retail or the food industry at some point in their lives.

This will teach us all how not to be jerks when we’re out to eat and buying stuff.

  1. It’s just yoga pants.

The best part of the job was that I got to work with great women of all ages, who I slowly got to know (through my sly interrogation techniques) and learned that they were so much more than legging folders. They were studying for the LSATs or going to school to become registered nurses or working full-time in the city or auditioning for acting roles or running busy households and shuttling kids to colleges and sports tournaments. In other words, legging folding was just something they were doing on the side. I’m going to miss their company.

It was fun while it lasted but working nights and weekends started to get challenging with just a 14yo boy and a puppy left living at home. Plus, I got tired spending all the money I made on clothes. It felt like I was bartering my time for Salutation tights (although they are frigging amazing).

So, I’ve decided to commit to my writing and freelance jobs full-time and now I have drawers full of leggings and sweats to stay cozy for this new phase of my life. As do my daughters and friends.

My work here is done.

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Friday Faves: Stuff I’m Legit Obsessed With

Let me just say that when I like something, I really like it. That holds for wine, Game of Thrones and certain ex-boyfriends. Oh, and outerwear. Can’t get enough outerwear.

Lately, I’ve been hot for a bunch of things and it goes without saying that two of them are Seed to Sprout’s Kimchi Rice Bowl (which I’ve eaten from lunch and dinner twice this week) and the pumpkin spice blend at Rook (which is where I’m headed when I’m done writing this). Need. Every. Day.

My kids are ob-sessed with these two condiments from Stonewall Kitchen (which we get at Sickles), which they slather on anything that’s not moving (watch it, puppy!).

Last weekend, my older daughter and I made took some coupons and made our fall pilgrimage to Bath & Body Works for our favorite candles. And even though it hasn’t been really autumnal here until today, that hasn’t kept me from burning this candle 24/7. It just makes me happy and smells better than the lingering stench from my 14yo’s football pads (honestly, that is a seriously smelly sport).

One of the fun things about working at my local athleisure emporium is digging through the online returns bin and finding a pair of shoes (since we don’t sell them in the store). I hit pay dirt recently and found these babies and wear them, literally, every day. Right there, I used the word “literally” in the right context. They are beyond comfortable, match everything and I get compliments galore. I am usually an 8 but my score was an 8.5 and even though the baby manager at the store cursed me for stealing them out from under her, her young feet don’t have the same concerns as my aging tootsies. Plus, they fit great. Buy them and then please write me a thank you note. Or send wine.

Oh, if you’re feeling fat like me and trying to be really good — I mean, really really good — here’s a teeny snack that I nibble on at night and it hits the spot and one bag in a mere 2 grams of sugar, which my friend Dan says is okay if you can’t live without sugar. Which I can’t (sns).

At the end of the summer, my oldest bf (this is not literal) came to visit for the weekend and proved that she is nothing if not a good friend. While I was at work folding leggings one afternoon, she drove around and kept herself busy and when she picked me up, handed me a bag from Lowe’s with a yellow plastic gizmo to unclog my shower drain. After a summer of both my girls home a lot, the shower in my bathroom would fill up like a tub in minutes. I told my pal and she took matters into her own hands. We got home and I was like, “I’m gonna go shove this down the drain,” and she was like, “I’m right behind you.” I unscrewed the drain and jammed the long thing in and gave it a twist and started to pull it back up. When we recovered from the horror that emerged from my shower drain — months and months of hair and soap scum — I asked my friend if she would describe it as the size of a baby squirrel. “No, that was a full-sized squirrel,” she said. Anyway, it’s a horrible reality (and I didn’t even go into the smell that burped its way out of the drain) but a magical way of dealing with it and way cheaper and safer than pouring gallons of Drano down there.

Finally, I am sorry to report that managing my facial hair has become a thing. Or, maybe it’s always been a thing but my uber-magnification mirror has just brought it to my attention. I mean, it’s not baby-squirrel bad, but still. At any rate, I tried scraping it all away for a while with this little gadget. But honestly, it kinda breaks after a few trips around my jawline. So this week, my brow lady suggested I buy this here doohickey and it’s battery operated and makes quick work of my de-whiskering. Am trying to lure aforementioned 14yo into the bright light of my bathroom so I can go to town on his new manly facial fuzz, which gives my beard a run for its money. It’s definitely baby-squirrel sized amount of fuzz I think.

As always, please feel free to share what’s changed your life lately. God know I’m open to any and all possibilities.

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Friday Faves: Jersey Corn Style

My 20yo, who’s a junior at a big state school, decided last minute to come home last weekend and take a break from exams, projects and weekend daging (day drinking+ rage = daging).

Naturally, one of the the most important topics of conversation as we prepared for her arrival, other than how she was going to snuggle me like a baby otter, was what would be on the menu for the weekend.

While my other children would be totally happy if I told them I’d just order a pizza for Friday night dinner, this girl has higher standards. Even away at school, she and her roommates cook dinner every night and I’m not just talking pasta with a jar of sauce dumped on top of it (which is probably more than I would have ever cooked when I was in college). They make curries and sweet potato hashes and work with ingredients like harissa and tempeh.

I remembered she’d pulled a recipe out of a Real Simple magazine that came over the summer that she’d pinned to the bulletin board in our kitchen but we never got around to making it before she left in late August.

/> Pasta With Chicken Sausage, Corn, Leeks, and Mushrooms https://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/pasta-chicken-sausage-corn-leeks-mushroom


I took a picture of it and sent it to her and asked her what she thought and pointed out that one of the ingredients was in season right now here in New Jersey.

That cracked me up.

She arrived home just in time to help put it all together, which was perfect because there was a little bit of chopping involved — especially the leeks — and my hospitality major is a wiz at slicing and dicing things up. I am good at microwaving ears of corn and slicing the sweet, white kernels off the cob. The only change we made is, since we are spicy people, I used a hot chicken sausage. And I’m not super-mushroomy, so I didn’t go nuts with them. Just a handful for flavor.

It was so good. Like, so good. Her older brother arrived home and joined us for dinner and we kept talking about how yummy it all was.

We went out to an early dinner the next night and sat at the bar and drank smoky mezcal margaritas rimmed with some kind of magic dust and ate guacamole and tacos at my new favorite place in Asbury that I can’t stop talking about and honestly, it was a pretty perfect weekend.

I hope yours is, too.

Got a fave? By all means, please share.

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Friday Faves: Stuff I’m Obsessed With This Week

It’s the first Friday in August but honestly, by this time of the summer, all the days begin to blend. The only way I really can tell it’s the weekend nowadays is that it’s impossible to park near the beach and my adult children — who’ve “moved out” — are standing in my kitchen eating all the Tostitos in the pantry.

I spent some time this week having a mini reunion with a bunch of women I went with to St. Barths last summer. We gathered in Bay Head, a swanky beach town along the Jersey Shore, where one of the girls rents a house for the summer. We tried to relive the magic of the Caribbean via Jersey with cocktails and yummy food and a little late night dancing for good measure (apologies to the neighbors). It wasn’t quite the Beyonce situation that was St. Barths but it wasn’t shabby, either.

My girlfriend owns a store up in Chatham, NJ that sells tons of cute gifts and accessories so I always show up sans jewelry and just pick from her amazing array of baubles. I borrowed the cutest pair of yellow dangly earrings to jazz up the outfit I had on for dinner and briefly contemplated pocketing them the next day to take home. Always the ethicist, I instead asked her if she could get me a pair from her store and she said they were long gone.

“They sell them here in town!” she told me and explained how to navigate my way to the most darling shop (Carrie Dunham, 92 Bridge Ave.) owned by the woman who designs a handbag I have been lusting after for years. Those bags are kinda pricey for me right now so instead I picked up the cutest little polka-dotty number that’s perfect for holding my phone and lipstick when I go out. I was in a hurry when I stopped in and need to get back to give the place a more thorough once over. And a house of my own in Bay Head.
















Other stuff I’m heavily into this week:

  • These socks, which stalked me hard on Facebook for so long I finally had to relent and buy them. I know. I’m a part of the problem. But they’re really cute and soft and, what can I say, I’m a sucker. Plus, bumblebees.
  • I am really not into wearing real bras, which may because of all the pinching and wires or also may be because menopause has caused an expansion in that region. Whatever the case, I continue to be obsessed with these bras and we just got some cute colors in at work and had to buy 2 more. They’re not exactly the most supportive and probably not meant to be worn out to dinner but that’s just how I’m rolling these days.
  • I’m on a bit of a Netflix role and cranked through “Friends From College” in no time and am now working on “Ozark,” even though it got iffy reviews. I mean, anything with Laura Linney in it can’t be all bad. And it’s not.
  • No week is complete without a good cat video.
  • There are some mornings this summer when I wake up and look in the bathroom mirror that I’m surprised a glass of rose isn’t staring back at me. Between bars hawking “froze” and “Rose All Day” memes, it’s, like, everywhere. It stands to reason that they’d start selling the stuff in cans and now, they do. I picked up a 4-pack to bring with me to Bay Head and it was quite the hit. I mean, who doesn’t want to drink their fizzy cocktails out of straws? It’s just plain festive.
  • Finally, last Friday my Lady-cation pals and I went into NYC to see “Come From Away” on Broadway. We had gone on an adventure to Newfoundland last year and — after doing some shots and kissing a cod — have come to think of ourselves as honorary islanders. The show focuses on the days after Sept. 11, after 7,000 people flying that terrible day were diverted to the island and taken in by a small town there. It’s a fascinating bit of history and if you can’t actually get to Newfoundland, probably the next best thing. Plus, it’s trendy.

What are you obsessed with? Please share in the comments below because I’m always looking for a new bee in my proverbial bonnet.

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Moving to a New House: The Final Act

When she came home at the end of the school year in May to find moving boxes still on the floor of her mother’s office and pictures stacked against the walls, my youngest daughter finally realized she needed to take matters into her own hands.

By that point, we’d been in the new house for well over a year and had ample time to settle in. We’d bought it in the beginning of 2016 and officially moved in that March, but some remodeling continued through April. So, while there were new carpets and refinished hardwood flooring and pretty much every square inch of wall space and trim had a fresh coat of paint, I still couldn’t bring myself to hang pictures on the walls or find a home for boxes of knickknacks I’d dragged from our old house.

In the past, my home interior design aesthetic veered towards the busy; I loved color and patterns and whimsy and never met a picture frame or window treatment I didn’t love. But in the new house I was hoping to tame those baser instincts and instead go for a cleaner, more grown up (if you will) vibe. I painted all the walls a pale, pale greige and only put blinds on a few windows for privacy purposes. I had no problem unpacking boxes of pots and pans and office supplies, but had no idea what to do with all the sentimental doodads I’d amassed over the years, which then sat on the floor of my office for months.

I had a big moving box filled with all the photo albums I carefully curated throughout the 1990s to document my children’s lives — which they then thoughtlessly pulled apart in the following decade — leaving countless empty plastic sleeves and visual gaps between Christmases and Easters of long ago. There were smaller boxes filled with all the overflow photos from a time when you’d pay a little extra to get doubles when you got your film developed, and then ended up with more copies than you’d ever need of people looking away at the last minute or errant fingertips.

Another box contained binders full of news clips I’d written over the years. Carefully clipped articles I wrote for my college newspaper were stuffed in folders alongside pieces I’d written for journalism courses, typed on thin sheets of typing paper with comments along the margins from various professors who suggested stronger ledes or less adjectives when describing, say, the university’s mineral collection.

And then there was the box holding all the weird chatchkas I’d assembled over the last 25 years. The colorful collection of wooden cats my younger daughter and I had taken to bringing home for each other from trips; the street sign from the first house we lived in the town we’ve called home for almost 23 years; a jar of seaglass I gathered off Stanley Beach on our last day in Hong Kong, amazed that there could be so much worn down glass in one place – a seemingly never-ending supply – and wondering how exactly the Chinese people disposed of glass bottles and jars; and a weird amount of signs with positive affirmations folks have given me over the years ranging from “Don’t Forget to be Awesome” to “The Ocean Fixes Everything.”

As is my wont, I learned to accept the boxes and wall hangings that took up a fair amount of real estate in my new office and went about starting and abandoning a host of other projects. It’s pretty standard that I’d go through the entire moving process – from getting my old house ready to sell to packing up 13-years’-worth of Legos and hair elastics to overseeing a new kitchen and bathroom remodel – but stall at the very end. Like, after picking out cabinets and appliances, why was it so hard to hang things on the walls?

One of the things I love about our new house is that it has lots of nooks and crannies for people to get lost in. It’s a Tudor-style built in 1929 and unlike houses built today, with big open spaces, our house has lots of clearly-defined rooms separated by walls and doorways. And while we struggled in the bedroom department – I needed to figure out how to stuff 5 grown people into 3 bedrooms – there was a fair amount of living space to spread out in.

Initially, I thought I’d make the sunny room running along the back of the house another place to watch TV. The former owners took advantage of the great light the room gets at all hours of the day and used it as a kind of sun porch; a great place to sit and chat or read or watch TV. But I already had one or two of those rooms and really, who even watches TV on a TV nowadays? Then, when I was trying to figure out where to set up my writing desk and wondering whether I could squeeze it into this new sitting room, it occurred to me that THE WHOLE ROOM COULD BE MINE. I could make it my office and fill it with all the things I love: my books, my pictures and my doodads.

I bought a couple of bookcases from Ikea (the Liatorp) to hold all my books and my printer and some office supplies. A set of drawers from World Market to store smaller supplies and stuff like notecards and stamps. And a super groovy and comfortable Lucite desk chair from IKEA that balances the heavy desk that was from my younger sister’s childhood bedroom but that I’ve repainted and repurposed a number of times since I acquired it 25 years ago.

And then, I proceeded to store anything I didn’t know what to do with in the room for six more months until I bought a reading chair from Ballard Design and needed to make room for its arrival. It’s my dream piece of furniture. Something I’ve lusted after for years. I fantasized about curling up on a cold winter afternoon to read a good book or propping myself up on pillows to work on my laptop. In other words, it would become my downstairs bed.

But to prepare for my beloved’s arrival, I needed to get hella boxes out of my office and this coincided with my younger girl’s arrival home for the summer, who helped get my butt into gear. She’s super a little bit bossy and a lot taller than I am so she uses that height to her advantage. She’s all about threats and intimidation. She said she’d help me create a picture gallery on the wall near my desk but told me that first, I had to get to work unpacking those final boxes.

So one weekend in May, I got tough on a lot of the crap I’d been hanging onto for years and filled up a number of contractor’s bags with signs about cats and picture frames I bought at Marshall’s in the late ‘90s. Then, I went to Target and bought a long storage piece with 8 baskets into which I shoved all the photos and wooden cats and other things I couldn’t figure out what to do with but wasn’t willing to part with, either.

And then we went through all the pictures stacked on the floor and finally found places to hang them on walls throughout the house. When we were done, all that was left was my collection of really special pieces that friends and family had given to me that I’d been dreaming of making a wall gallery out of for years next to my desk.

So that’s what we did. We spread them out of the now-clear floor of my office to figure out how they should be grouped and when it seemed a little finky (adj: a word used by a friend’s mother to mean not enough or sparse or just plain lacking in something), we grabbed things off my bookshelves to give a little oomph to the project. I threw in a sign my baby from another lady embroidered for me along with that old street sign and grabbed my favorite sign about teenagers that sat on the windowsill in my old kitchen for years. We finished it off with a random mirror I bought at an antiques store last summer in Woodstock when I had visions of recreating the amazing Airbnb we stayed in; and finally, we added a framed illustrated print my bestie gave me of all-time-favorite books from my childhood (hello Forever).

To make sure the display would transfer from the floor to the intended wall, my daughter traced each object on a big roll of brown paper, which she then cut out and arranged on the wall using blue painter’s tape. We moved them around a bit and adjusted the spacing and when we thought it looked just right, used Command Strips to hang everything up on the wall. That part was my girl’s job because she is all about measuring tape and a level and I am all about taking chances and regret.

We kinda think we killed it.

We were so impressed with ourselves, we made another gallery situation on another wall in the office, this time using picture frames I’d bought at Target, like, three years ago that sat in the basement of my old house. Sadly, they’ve been up for about two months and – true to form – I still haven’t put pictures in them. The daughter is not pleased.

And for our final act, we decided that all the remaining signs of affirmation and children’s artwork I’ve been clinging to all these years would look perfect on the stairway leading down to the basement.

And it does (although this picture is horrible due to the tight angle of the stairway).

We’ve taken a break from our mad wall gallery making and buying bulk packs of Command Strips at Costco. I’m thinking we might be at our gallery limit for one house but then again, I am a firm believer that you can never have enough of a good thing. I’ve got my eye on the wall along the stairway leading upstairs or maybe on one of the halls on our upstairs landing, which remain blank while I ponder my options.

Obviously, I need to hurry up and make up my mind about what I want to do before the girl goes back to school next month because I have no idea how to work a level. Or measure, for that matter.

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Join Me for Wine, Laughs & Leggings at Athleta, Shrewsbury

You guys, let’s hang out!

My lovely, and patient, friends at Athleta, Shrewsbury are putting together a little shindig for us next week to do just that! We can grab a glass of wine, I’ll tell some stories and we can get distracted by Athleta’s new Spring line (SPOILER ALERT: everything is adorable).

Grab your best pal and head to the Shrewsbury, NJ store in The Grove on Thursday, April 20 and we’ll have some fun from 7-9 p.m. You can RSVP here.

Can’t wait.

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Post Traumatic Stress


Hello, my name is Finn. I would like to lick your feet, eat some sticks and poop on your floor. 

I have a new baby in the house. As such, I’ve been getting up at the crack of dawn, adhering to feeding and pooping schedules and wearing a lot of sweatpants. I’ve also been struggling with that sense of isolation that only someone who’s been trapped in their house with a helpless creature – day after endless day – could ever understand. On the bright side, no one is trying to latch onto my nipples and make them bleed.

In the almost three weeks since I brought an 8-week-old puppy home, I’ve re-learned a very valuable lesson: keeping babies alive is a pain in the ass.

This goes for the two-legged variety as well. I’ve been reminded how hard it was when the kids were little – feeding them, cleaning them, putting them to bed, singing, dancing, drawing, talking, swinging, wiping, oh all that wiping – tables, hands, faces, butts. I’d forgotten, in all my romanticizing of the early years with my children, just how relentless it all was. There was always another chicken nugget to cook, diaper to change, dance lesson to load everyone in the car to drive to. There is something to be said for having children old enough to heat up their own pizza bagels and then disappear for the night to watch Netflix.

Having this puppy — a situation akin to having an 18-month-old careening drunkenly around my kitchen without diapers – also ushers militant scheduling and containment back into my life. Things that have been missing for a while. Let it be known that I am really good at the latter; when my children were young I was all about confinement and embraced playpens in my house and on the beach and when they needed a little more room, I’d set up a big play yard in the TV room. Now we have a baby gate at each of the three doorways into my kitchen and a play yard filled with toys and his blankie for when I can’t keep my eye on our pup because, apparently, that’s the perfect milisecond to squat and pee on the floor. He should be that speedy when we’re standing outside in the rain.


My new baby – I mean puppy – also requires me to be pretty faithful to a schedule and just ask the ladies I work with at Athleta, I am not always amazing at that. Sometimes I forget to show up for a shift and once I was folding leggings for an hour before someone realized I wasn’t even on the schedule for that day. Caring for infants was similarly haphazard. I mean, I never forgot to feed them or anything terrible, but I’d have a hard time remembering the last time I nursed someone or when they last slept. Maybe it’s just my powers of observation aren’t that sharp. Like, I often wished babies came with LCD screens on their foreheads that would display helpful messages like “HUNGRY” or “HAS 10 POUNDS OF URINE IN DIAPER” to help me figure out why they were crying.

Another thing I’ve been reminded of is that I’m really good at is letting someone cry it out. In fact – as long as I know all their needs have been met – I don’t even hear the weeping after a while. When I stick him in his playpen, the puppy will give it his all for about five minutes – he’ll throw in a little howling for good measure – then he’ll downgrade the session to some whimpering before lying down and resigning himself to his fate. I’ve had people fall on the floor and weep at Target when I refused to buy a Bionicle, so I can easily wait out three minutes of crying coming from a playpen in my kitchen. My children on the other hand can barely take 30 seconds of the charade. They try to shush him or tell him it’s “okay.” Sometimes they even pick him up and cuddle him. Suckers.

I knew what I was getting into with the pup. Or at least, I thought I knew. Like, I figured I’d be responsible for the bulk of his upkeep, but not all of it. I figured, since the children were so incredibly hot for me to get a dog, they’d do their share of standing outside with him at 6 a.m. watching him chew a stick rather than tinkle. But therein lies the rub: the kids were excited for ME to get a dog. Not really US. And so lately, I’ve also been harboring a teensy bit of rage, another feeling I haven’t really felt in a while. It’s like a big ball of resentment festering in my chest and waiting to pounce at the slightest invitation. I mean, it could have something to do with this whole menopause thing, too, as all my estrogen is running out faster than red wine at book club.


It’s similar to how trapped I often felt when the kids were small and I was home with them full time. Their dad could come and go as he wanted but the children were always my problem. I think it’s that way for most women, really, whether or not they work and even in the best of marriages. Meal planning. Earaches. Permission slips. Dentist appointments. These things all tend to fall under a mother’s purview while the dads remain blissfully unaware of all the moving parts that make the family machine run.

It’s probably why I resisted getting a new dog after our very fine dog died five years ago. It was nice having one less thing depend on me. I mean, even though my actual children are older now – some of them even commute and pay income taxes – they still need me. They call me when they’re feeling blue or when good news comes their way. And I’m still teaching them things, like “What are taxes?” and “How the U.S. Postal System Works” (SIDEBAR: a few years ago my son texted me FROM COLLEGE in Virginia to ask if he needed to use a stamp to mail something to Ohio).

I still badger them to get make dentist appointments or to get weird foot things looked at by someone other than me. And with a 14yo, I’m trying to figure out how to set parameters around that magic computer he keeps in his pocket plus I still have another round of high school to get through. Pray for me.

I worry about their jobs; whether they’ll fall in love and have healthy relationships; that they’ll find happiness no matter whom they’re with or what they do. Honestly, when I was so hot to have four kids all those years ago, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Maybe none of us do.

This I do know: I wouldn’t change any of it. Because it is all hard, hard work, raising puppies and babies, but the payoff is what keeps pulling us back in. It’s how we find ourselves back at a breeder or in the delivery room. Waking up at all hours. Loving someone even when they’ve done something less-than-lovable. It’s the little hands on your cheeks pulling you in for a kiss; the pup asleep at your feet; the teenager who holds your hand when it’s your turn to get a shot.

So what is the alternative? Being alone? That might work for some but I guess not for me. I’ve learned that I need to be a part of a tribe, and there’s always room for one more. Provided he doesn’t poop on my floor.

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Naughty Pictures

freakyfriday-290My 14yo hastily cleaned out his backpack before school the other morning and after he’d left, I found a neatly folded sheet of loose leaf paper sitting all alone on the kitchen table tucked under a planter. Upon opening it, I discovered a quite impressive pencil rendering of the male anatomy leading me to wonder – not for the first time in my almost 25 years of parenting – why I hadn’t been paying better attention to my children growing up. I mean, the thing even had a few hairs sprouting out from its undercarriage and shading on the, er, shaft.

There was also some writing, including the name of one of his buddies, indicating that it was probably something they were fooling around passing back-and-forth in class instead of actually learning but from the looks of the picture, someone had at least been paying a little attention during health class. And here I was assuming they were all still into Pokemon.

I considered sharing a picture of my baby’s artwork on social media, so I folded it back up and put it in a wire basket next to my sink that ostensibly is supposed to be holding apples and bananas but ends up instead stuffed with things like remote controls and a box of Celestial Seasonings (Tension Tamer) and anything else I like to keep handy and remember that I own. If I could, I’d try to put my sanity in there for safe keeping but fear at this stage of the game it would just slither to the counter between the wires and get lost under the basket.

The boy came home from school and, in an unusual and ironic move, pulled some schoolwork out of a folder in his backpack to show me. Honestly, there are times when I’m not even sure the kid goes to school when he walks out my door each morning in his hooded sweatshirt and cuffed khakis (what better way to show off his impressive collection of weird socks, regardless of the weather?). The kid never seems to have homework or to require studying. He never even asks me to go to the CVS and buy him poster board, which would at least signal he’s got a project due. If I wasn’t certain the authorities would have reached out to me by now if his seat in homeroom remained empty day-after-day, I’d be convinced he went and sat on a curb somewhere in town and watched YouTube videos on his iPhone all day. His monthly data usage would definitely support that hypothesis.

But he seemed pretty eager to show me an illustration he’d made for social studies class that day. They’d been talking about editorial cartoons and then the kids got to draw their own and my son chose to riff on that basketball player who recently floated the idea on some podcast that the Earth was flat. In these end days of alternative facts and rampant conspiracy theories, this assertion doesn’t even seem as crazy as it might have seemed even a year ago. Apparently, and thankfully, my own child agreed and drew a pretty good likeness of the dude spinning a flat basketball on his finger. Well played.

“What do you think?” he asked, all smiley as we stood next to the kitchen sink and, alas for him, the wire basket, from which I began to pull the folded sheet of loose leaf.

“I think you’re a pretty good artist,” I said and handed him the paper. “Here’s how I know.”

He gamely began to unfold the paper and as he opened the final flap his face registered that he knew what he was about to see.

“Well, Mom,” he said as he quickly crumpled the note in his hands, “that was weird.”

He slid open the trash that sat between us and threw the paper inside before closing it and walking away with a tight smile on his face that said, “Let’s never talk about this again.”

I’m sure he was afraid that I’d see the drawing as the opening to yet another one of my spontaneous conversations about sexuality that I’m always trying to start with my children. Much to their horror, I’m always looking for teachable moments, opportunities to have frank discussions about stuff like periods and contraception. But I’ve learned over the years that my children would rather learn everything there is to know about sexuality from their idiot friends or websites like milfhunter.com. Don’t even ask how I know something like that exists.

But he escaped that day unscathed from any of my “sexual curiosity is healthy” speeches. I’d given a moving talk about pornography not long ago so backed off and let him slink up to his room and hopefully not hunt for milfs.

It’s interesting that here I sit, a 50yo menopausal lady on one end of the sexual vortex living with a 14yo boy who’s on the completely opposite end. Like, if you were to divide our brains into pie slices based on what we thought about most days, the piece from mine devoted to sex would be a tiny sliver – you’d probably want some ice cream alongside it – whereas my son’s portion would need a pretty big plate to accommodate it. You might as well just get a fork and eat right out of the pan. As for my brain, it’s pretty much split down the middle between worrying about my midsection and waning mortality.

Now that would be a funny premise for an updated Freaky Friday. I would morph into a horny teenager and be reminded of just how mesmerizing sex can seem and he would spend time as a tired old lady who’d really just rather read a good book and not have to worry about somebody pawing at her.

Somebody call Ron Howard.

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Totems From My Childhood

Tfp_aus_vhsDear Boys and Girls,

I am going to try to describe something that might be really hard for you to understand, given the world of instant gratification that you’ve grown up in. For most of your sweet young lives, you’ve been able to watch pretty much any movie or TV show that caught your fancy at any given moment. Through the gentle push of a remote control button, you have access today to an endless number of channels geared towards young’uns, programs recorded on your parents’ DVR or plucked from the Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and all the other magic apps that appear on your flat screen television.

Even way back in the dark ages of the early 1990s, when there were exactly three cable channels geared towards kids (Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel), my children also had an impressive VHS library of shows to choose from and could watch Bambi or Thomas the Tank Engine when the kids shows on our PBS station signed off for the day in late afternoon (I refused to let them watch the stuff on cable back then. #ohhowthemightyhavefallen).

When I was growing up amongst the Mayan ruins of the Triassic period (just go with it), way back in the early 1970s, there were zero cable channels dedicated to kids as there was no cable and we mostly had to get our fill early in the morning during the week and for a few precious hours Saturday mornings (can you imagine?). Other than that, we had to make do with reruns from 20 years earlier (like The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons) or old movies.

Of course, it wasn’t until later, like in the 1980s, that we could record shows on VCRs (but honestly, who could ever really figure out how to do that?). So when a show came on TV that you really enjoyed you savored that shizz. It was really, really special.

I remember my mom letting me stay up, a rarity, to watch The Wizard of Oz which only came on once a year (maybe Easter or Thanksgiving?). That was great until that part where Dorothy’s house is caught up in the tornado and Miss Gulch rides by on her bike and then turns into the witch and practically gave 6yo me a heart attack. Christmas specials, like Rudolph and Charlie Brown, only came on once a year and I can’t tell you how many times I’d seen bits and pieces of movies — like Yours Mine and Ours and Charade — but never the full thing from beginning to end. It all depended on when I found it on my TV dial.

And then there were television specials of my youth that aired once or twice and then disappeared like the Carnation Breakfast Bars and Chocodiles of long ago.

This all brings me to earlier this week when a conversation with my 14yo son reminded me of one of my most beloved TV specials from the 1970s: the muppet version of The Frog Prince. I was such a lame little girl that I’d have given anything to be the beautiful Princess Melora, even if I would have to talk wackbards. And I’m pretty sure we had the album at one point because I still know all the words to the songs and a lot of the dialogue.

How do I know this? Because before my son even knew what hit him, I had him trapped on the couch with the laptop resting on our legs watching The Frog Prince on YouTube. He resisted at first, telling me he was no longer into muppets, but I turned on some hardcore pressure.

“This is everything you need to know about me,” I told him, pointing to Kermit the Frog floating in a pond on the computer screen. “Seriously,” I said, pulling him way too close for his liking, “this is the most important TV show of my life.”

And, because he is a really nice boy and was probably tired from his basketball game earlier that day, he snuggled in and watched all 50 minutes with me — songs, corny jokes and all. Not to mention me singing along.

It just made me happy to share that important totem from my childhood and now am just wondering how I can pull off the same stunt with Free to Be, You and Me. I’ll have to catch him off guard again.

Please write with any suggestions and of course, let me know what your favorite shows from childhood were in the comment section below because that kid’s not going to college for another five years and I could really use some other reasons to make him sit a snuggle with me and stop looking at his phone (which you’re probably doing now, too.

Your friend,


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What to Wear on Your Flight to London

London Tourist

Following a recent trip to London I took with my four kids between Christmas and New Year’s, I’ve decided that I totally spend as much – if not more – time obsessing over what to wear on the plane than when I’m on the actual vacation.

Unlike most other outfits I’d need to pack for our vacation – clothes for touring the Tower of London or enjoying an elegant tea with my daughters – my travel ensemble needed to serve a number of functions.

First and foremost, it needed to be cozy enough for a seven-hour overnight flight in coach that would allow sleep. Critical. The outfit also had to take me through a day of sightseeing once we landed. And finally – and most importantly – I obviously also wanted to look cute and not like I was a crazy person walking around in my pajamas.

No problem.

The other critical piece to the travel puzzle – because it is a puzzle, n’est-ce pas? – was figuring out what accessories would help facilitate my goals. I needed a bag and shoes that would encourage comfort whilst preventing me from looking like the Ugly American (and I was already planning on walking around with my camera around my neck for most of the trip).

In the end, I think the weird amount of time I spent thinking about these things paid off. I slept a good amount of the flight (thank you, Valium), spent a day hopping on and off the Big Red Bus and a spin around the London Eye at dusk, and – because we were so exhausted by the end of that first day – stayed in my travel outfit for dinner at a gastropub around the corner from our hotel. At the end of our meal, the owner sent us over glasses of champagne to celebrate our first night in London and I can’t decide if it’s because he was delighted with how chic we all looked or felt sorry for our sad state of affairs.

Needless to say, I peeled that 24-hour outfit off that night and thanked it for its service. It had done its job.

Travel Essentials London

ONE: Cardigan/Garnet Hill; TWO: Blanket Scarf/Mark & Graham; THREE: Travel Blanket/Sac; FOUR: Leggings/Athleta; FIVE: Passport Holder/Cuyana; SIX: Boots/Clarks; SEVEN: Sports Bra/Athleta

  1. Cashmere Cardigan: As a 50-year-old lady who is prone to feeling like her hair is on fire at any given moment, I am an advocate of layering – with cashmere, where appropriate. Honestly, it’s like wearing a very cozy blanket. Throw over this cute tank and you’re ready for your nap.
  2. Blanket Scarf: I bought these big, soft scarves for my daughters for Christmas that doubled as cozy throws for the flight. I am also now completely devoted to the site because I not only nabbed them at Black Friday prices but the free gift wrapping they arrived at my door in seemed almost more expensive than the scarves themselves. Well-played, Mark & Graham.
  3. Travel Blanket/Pillow: I’ve had this cozy set for years and it’s come with me on all sorts of adventures like Greece and Hong Kong. Even though they hand out blankets in sanitized plastic wrap for longer flights, I’d still rather know where my pillow has been.
  4. Leggings: Okay, I currently work at the store but even if I didn’t, I’d still rave about these tights. They have just the right bit of compression, cute zippers at the ankle and the waist is nice and high and doesn’t cut into your midsection while you’re cramped in your seat mid-flight. Plus, it kinda just smoothes out the whole middle situation, if you know what I mean (see 50-year-old lady bit above).
  5. Passport Holder: I honestly didn’t know I needed a passport holder until my BF gave me this chic little number for Christmas. The soft leather has this wonderful pebbly grain and my initials embossed in gold on the bottom corner. It ended up being the perfect wallet for a trip abroad, where you’re really only carrying around your license, credit card and some currency. You can leave your Costco card at home.
  6. Black Suede Boots: At one point in early December, it looked as if my bedroom was doubling as a Zappos warehouse. I just kept ordering boots that I thought might fit the bill of being comfortable to walk all over London and yet not make me look like too much of a granny. I mean, I do have a reputation to uphold. In the end, these babies from Clarks made love to my feet all day long. There’s really no other way to say it. And their looks kinda grew on me throughout the trip, even after my younger daughter observed during our Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour that they somewhat resembled the Sorting Hat. Maybe that just makes me a wizard.
  7. Sports Bra: This should really have made it to the top of my list because I spent so much time thinking about finding the right undergarment for sleeping and sightseeing. I only wish I’d discovered this bra before my 16-hour flight to Hong Kong a couple of years ago because it’s so comfortable. In fact, now that I’m home, I still find myself throwing it on most days instead of a regular bra with wires and hooks. Imagine me like Oprah right now freaking out over bread: You MUST have this bra! GO GET this bra!
  8. Cross-Body Bag (Not Pictured): Need a great bag for sightseeing that’s also super-stylish? Go buy this bag from Madewell right now. Yes, I’m still talking like Oprah.
  9. Book a Trip!!: You say you have nowhere to go! It’s not too late to book a spring break getaway! You can still snag a fabulous rental someplace warm through Tripping.com, which is kinda like the Kayak  (my flight/hotel fave) of vacation rentals. It’s one-stop-shopping for rentals listed on all the top sites like TripAdvisor, VRBO and Homeaway. Don’t know where to go? We hear Florida is the hot destination du jour (in more ways than one). Get booking!

Stop being so greedy already! Share your own travel must-haves in the comments below. You’re the best. Sign up to get all of my latest posts sent right to your inbox by typing your email into the box below and new posts will arrive without you having to remember to look for them. Everything should be this easy. You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and (what the hell) Pinterest[wysija_form id=”1″]