Missing Teeth, Losing Kids and an Ode to the Minivan

The view during a snow shoe hike with a friend Sunday morning that took the edge off missing teeth and children.

The view during a snow shoe hike with a friend Sunday morning that took the edge off missing teeth and misplaced children.

Usually here on Sundays I do a little Week in Review thing cleverly disguised as just another post.

Really, I consider it a value-added day because not only do I usually tell a little story but I point out other posts I had written throughout the week that you might not have known existed, slipping through the Facebook cracks between suggested posts for Sparkle paper towels and what state people are told by a quiz they should be living in. Or maybe you just never got around to opening the email.

Just looking to help a sister (or brother, as is sometimes the case) out.

But after losing my fucking tooth last night, and really needing to make a very short story quite long, there wasn’t really room to tack on the requisite posts from earlier in the week. I mean, since this blog is written and posted on the Internet, there is actually an infinite amount of space, but I’m already pretty chatty — I use way too many words when writing these things, — and studies show that people reading anything online can deal with about 300-400 words at a sitting and until they click over to somewhere else.

I tend to run a little longer than that.

Anyway, now that I’ve really warmed you up and you’re practically begging for more (or conversely, ready to click over to Facebook), here are some of the very exciting things that have been happening in my life over the last seven days including the humiliating loss of a tooth, a rage against Valentine’s Day and a love story starring a minivan …


photo-6That Time My Tooth Fell Out

I tend to have recurring dreams, with many of the same themes cycling through my brain, night after night.

There’s the one where I’m packing a suitcase or boarding an airplane. I always seem to be taking off and never landing. (READ MORE … )



IMG_3118Valentine’s Day is Stupid

I am not a festive person. I do not come from festive people.

As such, I do not own colorful sweaters, necklaces that light up like Christmas tree lights or candy cane earrings.

It used to bum my children out that I didn’t want to create a cemetery in our front yard for Halloween or string twinkly lights in the front bushes in December. Isn’t it enough I buy costumes and put up a tree? Can’t they be happy with a wreath?

Seriously. (READ MORE … )


800px-08_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_TouringPutting the Sexy Back in Minivans

You might have read here that I am on a quest to bring the minivan back.

I’ve been rocking my Town & Country rental all week.

Since I started driving my shiny white beautyfollowing a little run-​​in with a tractor-​​trailer, I’ve started thinking a lot about – given all the vehicle’s bells and whistles, not to mention roominess – why so many of us parents insist on driving around the suburbs in big rigs. (READ MORE … ) 


IMG_3742Am I Stupid?

It happened again this week. For maybe the fifth time in his life, I left my youngest child some place he wasn’t supposed to be.

And he’s getting tired of it and frankly, I can’t say I really blame the kid.

Someone should take away my mom license. (READ MORE … )


photo-4Museum of the Fairly Ordinary Life

There’s a house around the corner from us, set along a busy thoroughfare running through town, which has had stacks of books piled up on an enclosed porch in front for as long as I can remember. The entrance is lined with curtained windows through which passersby can see mountains of books surrounding the room, piled high into the middle of each window. (READ MORE … )


valentine’s day is stupid

IMG_3118I wrote this post last year and what a difference 12 months can make (or maybe not having a job).

This year, not only had I purchased cards and candy well ahead of Valentine’s Day, I even was organized enough to send bags of candy to the two college kids in Virginia that even GOT THERE EARLY.

I’m never that together.

I also stumbled upon the aisle of boxed Valentine’s cards when I happened to be in Target in January, yes January, and called my fifth grader to tell him what was there and get ahead of the game.

“I’m not doing that,” he almost spat when I suggested he make a selection.

“But they have a million choices!” I told him. “Sponge Bob. Superman. Transformers.”

In the end, he relented to my prodding and picked NBA-themed cards.

I brought them home and they’ve sat on a counter in our kitchen until yesterday.

“Buddy,” I said to him last night. “Don’t you want to start working on your Valentine’s cards?”

“Nah,” he answered. “I’m not going to bring them in.”

So as it seems to happen so often in my life, my timing was once again way off. 

So if any of you parents are feeling frantic because you forgot to get your kid cards in time, as you’ll see below that I did last year, you can come on over and grab mine.

I have a whole box.


IMG_3123I am not a festive person. I do not come from festive people.

As such, I do not own colorful sweaters, necklaces that light up like Christmas tree lights or candy cane earrings.

It used to bum my children out that I didn’t want to create a cemetery in our front yard for Halloween or string twinkly lights in the front bushes in December. Isn’t it enough I buy costumes and put up a tree? Can’t they be happy with a wreath?


But it’s the make-believe holidays that make me crazy. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Valentine’s Day.

These are the phony holidays created solely to get you to spend money on things that nobody needs, like Barbie Pez and ties.

So, imagine my chagrin when I found myself last night at Target searching for Valentine’s Day goodies for my two kids still living at home.

Nothing says “I’m a horrible procrastinator” like standing in the seasonal aisle at Target at 5:30 the night before Valentine’s Day, huddled with all the other working moms and clueless dads in front of the few remaining pink stuffed animals and Necco Wafers that all the organized parents hadn’t already scooped up last week. It was like landing on the Island of Misfit Toys: Valentine’s Edition.

But there I stood, thinking, “This is stupid,” while one young mom kept telling her preschooler he was a brat and another mom, who had three little kids hanging out of her shopping cart, employing the “f” word to stop the all their bickering. Right there next to the bags of miniature Snickers bars.

This was obviously not a happy time of day to be at Target (and man, I am usually really happy to be at Target).

Of course at this point, there is not one box of Valentine cards to be found for my 10-year-old son to bring to school the next day. No Dora. No Thomas the Tank Engine. Nothing.

I was talking to my younger sister, who is  like 14 years younger than me and has one toddler, on the phone while casing the joint and reported my findings.

“Go on Pinterest!” she says, and starts describing excitedly something she saw where I’d take my son’s picture holding out his arms and print it out and tape a lollipop to it. And I’m thinking, “Okay, I can do this,” and grabbed one of the remaining bags of lollipops from a bottom shelf.

I turned the corner and ran into a big display of Fun Dip cards that are pretty much the paper pouches containing the sugary dip and weird candy stick that kids can write classmates’ names on. I reached my hand out and hesitated for about two seconds, remembering then that you pretty much can’t send any food items into school anymore due to allergy restrictions, and then grabbed it anyway.

I’ll take contraband over crafting, all day long.


Putting the Sexy Back in Minivans

800px-08_Chrysler_Town_&_Country_TouringYou might have read here that I am on a quest to bring the minivan back.

I’ve been rocking my Town & Country rental all week.

Since I started driving my shiny white beauty following a little run-in with a tractor-trailer, I’ve started thinking a lot about – given all the vehicle’s bells and whistles, not to mention roominess – why so many of us parents insist on driving around the suburbs in big rigs.

It’s got me wondering why we need to define ourselves by the vehicles that we drive and resist being labeled by who and what we really are – moms and dads who spend a fair amount of time hauling kids to school and soccer and the mall.

It’s fascinating that we need to pretend that we are something that we’re not – like a cowboy, maybe, or a contractor— because that’s who should be driving vehicles with a two-ton tow capacity and four-wheel drive.

Why is the SUV cooler, presumably, than the minivan? And why does it matter?

For years I hauled my guys around in a giant Chevy Suburban and while I really loved it and could parallel park that thing like it was a VW Bug, it was a pain in the ass. It ate gas, you had to hoist baby seats up and in because it was so high off the ground, and the extent of any parental conveniences was maybe five cupholders.  My first Suburban even had the back door that swung open off to the side, not even straight up so you had to make sure the coast was clear before you released the hounds, so to speak. 

Minivans are just chock-full-of conveniences for parents, with magic sliding doors and a deep well in the way back to hold $200 worth of groceries and prevent anything from falling out when the door is opened. And if yours is full of a few months’ worth of The New York Times neatly bundled, as is mine, you can STILL load all your groceries on top, as I did yesterday.

I think if Cadillac or Audi made a van, they’d fly out the door.

Over the years, I’ve logged a fair amount of time sitting on my therapist’s couch and talking about why I worried about what others thought of me. Why I needed to feel validated by how I thought things looked to the outside world. It was how I measured my self-worth.

It wasn’t until I started worrying about what was going on underneath the shiny exterior that things started to change.

And it lets me sit next to the other mom driving a Land Rover in the next lane, presumably on her way to a safari, at a red light and not feel weirdly less. 

I’ve become much more concerned about what I think of me rather than what others think of me and while it’s not totally perfect – I still struggle with my vanity and ego – it’s a work in progress.

I was watching Kelly and Michael this week (I haven’t even mentioned how OBSESSED I am with Kelly Ripa) and heard them talking about a recent survey about what ladies consider the sexiest cars for men to drive and the pickup truck was at the top of the list.

Michael joked that the minivan was probably the least sexy vehicle for a dude to drive.

“I don’t know,” said Kelly, wearing some adorable outfit. “I see those guys driving around a whole bunch of kids and think that they’re obviously sexy to somebody.”

When I was younger, it was the glitter of the outer shell that really caught my attention. “OOOOh, shiny,” I’d think, mesmerized by all the flash.

But now I know better. 

Now, I know you need to pop open the hood and  make sure everything is running smoothly underneath. I know now that I like things that make my life easier rather than putting up with shortcomings because of how something looks.

I’d rather have solid and dependable — with good highway mpg — than zero to 60 in a heartbeat.

Because sexy is fun but reliability and practicality are better suited for the long haul.


Am I Stupid?

IMG_3742It happened again this week. For maybe the fifth time in his life, I left my youngest child some place he wasn’t supposed to be.

And he’s getting tired of it and frankly, I can’t say I really blame the kid.

Someone should take away my mom license.

I dropped him off yesterday afternoon at the elementary school in town about a mile and a half away from our house for what I thought was a 4:00 basketball practice.

I even had a nagging feeling while doing so — because practices are usually on Wednesdays — but I checked my iPhone and, yup, I was in the right place at the right time, according to my calendar.

I waited as he slowly made the walk from my car to the gym door, a sulky trip since he was mad at me because in his mind, I was somehow the reason kids had homework. Yes, that’s right: I’m the culprit. He’s resisting doing his homework lately, which is really out of character, but he’s busy blaming me, his teacher and really just THE MAN for the nightly 30 minutes of work that takes him away from looking at one screen or another or bouncing a Nerf basketball off his bedroom wall.

I returned home to my laptop, which I spent so much time looking at while working for my former employer that now that I’m out of work, find myself automatically opening up and wondering what to do with myself.

About a half hour later, the doorbell rang and I opened the door to find my 11-year-old standing there on the front step, his big blue eyes brimming with tears.

“Did I mess up the time?” I asked, and he burst past me and stomped up the stairs to his room.

By the time I got him to unlock the door for me, I found him sitting on his bed rubbing his legs, which were bright pink from making the long walk home in his basketball shorts with nothing more than a sweatshirt on top.

Did I mention it was about 20 degrees in my part of New Jersey yesterday afternoon?

I held out some cozy sweatpants to cover his freezing legs and brought him downstairs to the den to lie down on the couch in front of the fire and tucked his favorite blanket around him and left him alone.

After he had some time to pretend to fall asleep, I came in with a big mug of hot chocolate with extra marshmallows and a big splash of half and half, just the way he likes it.

“How about you do your homework in here tonight by the fire?” I suggested, and he took a sip of his cocoa and nodded his head.

His body and his mood thawed and eventually, he was happily showing me how good he was solving the evening’s math problems.

I apologized for the hundredth time as he was getting ready for bed later that night.

“It’s okay, Mom,” he said, but really, it’s not. If his dad kept leaving him the wrong place, I’d be all like, “What’s his problem?”

What the hell is my problem?

So far, I’ve left him alone in the neighbor’s basement when he was about four while we all went out to deliver Thanksgiving dinners (he told me he jumped on their trampoline to keep busy until we got back), and at the wrong baseball practice that left him sitting on the curb until I returned some 90 minutes later. I even bought him a cell phone last year to avoid these mixups.

I’ve also left his older sister off the wrong time for a basketball game and left my oldest son, who was probably around 5 at the time, playing outside on the swing set in the backyard while I drove his two younger sisters to a babysitter for the day.

I remember looking into the back of the minivan through my rearview mirror about 10 minutes into the trip and not seeing his head, told him to sit up in his seat.

“He’s not here,” piped up one of the sisters.

Really, you didn’t think this was important information to share with me?

And I don’t know what to cite as the cause. Certainly, it can’t be because I have too many kids (since half are away at school right now). And it’s certainly not because I’m a working mom (because I am currently unemployed).

It’s not even because I was busy making dinner (since the kids went to their dad’s last night for that).

Methinks perhaps I’m stupid.

Which was confirmed earlier today when I loaded about three months worth of New York Times daily papers, all bundled and tied, into the back of my minivan to drop off at town recycling center on my way to the grocery store first thing this morning.

They’d been tied up and sitting on my mudroom floor for about a week and I just couldn’t look at them one more second.

I had noticed on our town website that there would be no recycling pickup on my usual day this week – Wednesday – because of Lincoln’s Birthday (I mean, what?) and the center would be closed as well.

But I forgot today was Wednesday. I thought it was Tuesday. I’m all mixed up in the head.

So I went not once but twice to the recycling center this morning, sitting in my minivan and staring at the locked gate blocking the entrance while mentally composing the snippy phone call I was going to make to borough hall when I returned home.

And then I realized that it was Wednesday.

I drove home and saw my neighbor Susan had put a bunch of cardboard boxes out for recycling pick up and instead of texting her that there was no pick up today, I went and dragged a giant box out of my garage and added it to her pile.

So, what can I chalk this all up to? Super-early dementia? Dumb-dumbiness? I am alarmed.

However, since I was so encouraged to learn the other day that I wasn’t the only one hoarding baby teeth, I’m hoping maybe you guys can share some of your own not-so-stellar-moments in scheduling. Or parenting, I suppose.

I’d like to feel like less of a dope.



Snow Kidding

photo(102)My cell phone, positioned on the nightstand next to my bed and about three inches from my head, rang at 4:40 this morning and because I have this deep-seeded aversion to answering any calls coming in from 1-800 numbers, I let it go to voicemail.

I figured it was The Gap calling to tell me my payment this month is like, three days late. I could understand if I was three months delinquent in paying something. By all means, give me a heads up and maybe a little attitude. But The Gap gets snippy when you forget to pay within the allotted pay cycle and starts suspending your card and calling to strong-arm you and shit.

Don’t they know I’m well-intentioned? I just tend to put things off, like paying bills and getting things fixed. It’s a character flaw, to be sure. But I’m very friendly.

I would like to know how some people handle the stress of not paying their mortgage for like two years straight. I’ve got straight up PTSD from being a month late to pay The Gap.

Anyway, as I probably should have known had I not been dreaming about getting on an airplane (my go-to dream theme) seconds before the piano ringtone began to trill by my head, The Gap doesn’t begin its strong arming tactics until more traditional business hours and it was instead one of those Code Red calls from the middle school to say that school would have a delayed opening this morning because of the snow.

Wait, what? Snow?

Has it gotten to the point this winter that an impending couple of inches of snowfall doesn’t even register on our radars any more? That it’s snowed so much this winter that we only take note when legit blizzards are bearing down on us? That even the media takes a ho-hum stance and not its usual, “IT’S SNOWMAGEDDEN!! GET TO THE SUPERMARKET NOW AND BUY ALL THE MILK AND BREAD YOU CAN AFFORD.”

Well, that seems to be the case, because I had absolutely no idea that snowfall was imminent and I’d be enjoying the kids’ company a little later than usual this morning.

And for maybe the thousandth time, I am thankful that I work from home. I’m glad I’m not supposed to be up and dressed for a meeting in an office 45 minutes away, and can instead have a proper conference call in the comfort of my leopard onesie while cooking up some French toast for my stragglers.

Of course, it could be worse. I saw a post on Facebook yesterday from my college girlfriend who has been trapped inside her Brooklyn apartment this week with her two little guys because of the wickedly-cold temperatures here in the Northeast, unable to let off some five-year-old steam at the playground. Or another mama I know in the Chicago area whose kids have been home from school for days because of the weather, coating her living room floor in dress up clothes and stuffed animals.

My guys will gone by mid-morning and I’ll be able to return to my regular routine of checking my e-mail and Facebook every 8 minutes and wiping the kitchen counter.

I’ll still be rocking the onesie, though. There is snow on the ground, after all.





Guilty As Charged

photo(104)I don’t know if it’s the Catholic in me, the mother in me, the daughter in me or just the woman in me, but I spend a fair percentage of each day feeling guilty about one thing or another.

Whether it’s my reluctance to buy into purchasing organic products, the poison I pay a service to put on my lawn to keep it green that is probably leaching into my children’s drinking water, or that I am morally and ethically opposed to wet cat food although it would probably make her a lot less fat, I feel bad about a lot of stuff.

And so I made a list:

  1. Cheating during spin class
  2. Not drinking enough water
  3. Drinking too much wine
  4. Not doing Kegels
  5. Hitting the snooze button
  6. Not writing in my journal
  7. Blowing off writing for sleep
  8. Watching three episodes of “Scandal” in a row
  9. Spending $300 every time I go to Target even if it’s just to return something
  10. Not reading as much to my younger children as I did with their older siblings
  11. Only getting past Chapter 2 of A Wrinkle in Time with my youngest child
  12. The 500 pages left to read in Middlemarch
  13. The brown sugar I put in my oatmeal
  14. The half and half I put in my coffee
  15. Knowing more about Kelly Ripa than Edward Snowden
  16. The 20,000 (legit) emails in my work inbox
  17. That my children had to live through a divorce
  18. The amount of money I spend on my hair annually
  19. All the unread books on my nightstand
  20. Not sending birthday cards
  21. Having a closet full of grey, black and camel-colored clothing
  22. Those 10 extra pounds that climbed on for the ride a few years ago
  23. That I don’t read the whole newspaper like I used to each day
  24. Buying plastic water bottles
  25. My carbon footprint
  26. Leaving the water running while I brush my teeth
  27. Not flossing every night
  28. The half-finished sweater lying in my crawl space I never finished knitting
  29. Wanting to be as thin as Kelly Ripa
  30. Not cleaning the kitty litter box every day
  31. Being freaked out by online dating
  32. Making my kids feel like they don’t measure up
  33. That I ever wished my kids would grow up
  34. My  constant struggle with forgiveness
  35. Judging a book by its cover
  36. My big ego
  37. My bouts with narcissism
  38. Not going to Mass
  39. Letting my fourth child off the Catholic hook
  40. All the chicken nuggets and mac-n-cheese I’ve fed to my children over the course of 20+ years.
  41. This list

What makes you feel bad? Tell me so I can feel better.






Being a Mom Never Ends. Dammit.

IMG_2049There are some things about becoming a mother that nobody ever tells you, and I’m not talking about how funky your bottom is for a while after giving birth or that your newborn will probably cry so hard at some point it will briefly not make a sound or that some day that same baby – with whom you spent countless hours up in the middle of the night trying to console – will tell you it hates you. Guaranteed.

No, those are the little tidbits you don’t even consider when you are pregnant with your first child and fantasizing about all the fun things you’d do together some day like visiting museums and joining up for mother-daughter yoga classes.

It’s not fucking happening.

No, the most critical piece of information that anyone who’s gone down that parenting road ahead of you has neglected to mention is that it never stops. There is no end to the job.

Which is funny, because I was under the impression when I took the position that it would be about an 18-year assignment.

You kept all of their fingers and toes in check, fed them the occasional vegetable and made sure they could read and they’d eventually go off to college and you’d get back to whatever it was you were doing before they arrived on the scene.

Like, having fun.

What I’d like to travel around the country and tell expectant parents is that they are signing up for a life sentence. Once that little sucker pops out into the bright light of day, there would be no turning back.

You are in it for the long haul.

(Someone should actually put that as a warning label on a box of condoms. Like how Trident used to use the “4 out of 5 dentists agree” line: “Four out of five parents agree that they should have used a condom.”)

I’m being reminded of this lifetime commitment this week as I watch one of my kids struggle with rejection and feel helpless, unable to make anything better. I keep going over in my mind what more I could have done, something I could have said that would have altered the course of events.

Because of course as parents we want to make the road of life less bumpy for our children. That’s why we cut their steak for them long past the point that they can manage a knife themselves or let them go into school a little late when they’re feeling needy or hand them a $20 bill for gas instead of making them dip into their own limited funds.

We want to shield them from life’s challenges, the many disappointments.

And when they do grow up some day and start making their way out into the world, you’re still connected. It’s like this thin filament that stretches as far as they go but is anchored to your heart. And when they feel pain and sorrow, you feel the zap of sadness, too.

No one told me how much I’d love them and that – even though they’d fly off and start their own lives – they’d always be my babies.


So, when I wasn’t fretting about one of my many children this week, I did have this to say:



The day my husband of 18 years moved out of our house for good, the mirror that had been hanging quietly over our bathroom sink slipped from its nail and crashed onto the floor below.

I had been out of the house while he packed the last of his ties and running shoes, and hadn’t been home long after he left when I heard a thud overhead and the sound of breaking glass. (READ MORE … )


photo(97)The Divorce Diet

Looking for a sure-fire way to drop 5 to 10 pounds fast?

Forget what you read in all the magazines or the ads you see on TV.

My advice is to get a divorce. (READ MORE … )


IMG_0582What About College?

Anyone who has seen the Hungtington Learning Center commercial on TV — “Face it! I’m not getting into college!” – has had the pleasure of hearing a dramatic scene taken from the pages of my own life. (READ MORE … )



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Waiting for the New Year to Begin


My mom bought these bastards, that literally come in a giant tin bucket, online from Hahns Old Fashioned Cake Company in Farmindale, NY. www.crumbcake.net

I’m finding it very difficult to embrace the New Year and all the new things I resolved to do and not to do when it still seems like 2013 around here. Actually, you could tell me it’s still 2011 and I wouldn’t really be all that surprised.

The problem might have a little bit to do with the giant bucket of crumbs that have been sitting on my kitchen counter since Christmas (wherein some evil genius decided to completely eliminate the pesky cake portion of coffee cake and package only the sugary topping) that I just can’t bear to toss in the trash.

It’s hard to resist all their little voices, calling out to me as I make my coffee each morning. I hate to be rude.

But the real problem is that I am surrounded, day in and day out, by people who are still on vacation. My college kids don’t go back for two more weeks and now that the holidays are over, they don’t really have much to do but watch Netflix and play video games.

And make paninis.

Just when things started to get back to normal and the younger two kids returned to school on Jan. 2, a Nor’easter slammed New Jersey and deposited those two back on the couch with the older ones the following day.

So I still feel like I’m in a quasi-holiday, snow day, everyday-is-Saturday state of mind.

I did manage to squeeze a little bit of writing in between using my vacation days this past week to load up – once again – on a bizarre amount of dairy products from Costco, take a quick trip to Delaware to see my dad and play untold hours of Walking Dead Monopoly.

Here’s what I had to say:


babies pix-1Blast From the Past

As noted on this blog ad nauseum, I pretty much killed 2013.

By now, we all know how I launched a blog, went to a blogging conference, traveled to Greece alone and kind of, sort of, tried to date (okay, not the greatest victory there). (READ MORE … )



photo 2How Not to Hate Your Teens

If you’re like me, you are finding that it’s not always so easy to like all the people who you’re living with. Much less love them.

At least once a day, I find myself in a combative situation or heated conversation with someone I gave birth to.

I even made that observation aloud to one of them this week, in the midst of one such episode, “This is not how people usually talk to me.” (READ MORE … )


And while I did not actually write this post this week, I did reference it on Facebook and folks seemed to like it. Maybe you will too …

DSC00672This is How I Miss Him

In the almost four years since my ex-​​husband moved out, there have been a few times that I really wished the guy was still around.

Like when it snows. Say what you will, but that man could shovel like a motherfucker. He’d be outside for hours, first clearing the driveway and front walk as the snow was falling and then again later, after the storm had passed. He’d clear a path in the back for the dog to get to a spot to do his business and when he ran out of stuff to shovel here, he’d start in at the neighbors’ next door. He never asked for help and we all stayed warm and cozy inside while he labored in the snow. (READ MORE … )





How Not to Hate Your Teens

photo(72)If you’re like me, you are finding that it’s not always so easy to like all the people who you’re living with. Much less love them.

At least once a day, I find myself in a combative situation or heated conversation with someone I gave birth to.

I even made that observation aloud to one of them this week, in the midst of one such episode, “This is not how people usually talk to me.”

But he just grunted and kept at it.

Not long ago, I posted a friendly link in the Facebook inboxes of my two older kids about a college coed who had fallen asleep (read: passed out) on a front stoop after a night out in freezing cold temperatures and was now facing amputation of one of her limbs due to hypothermia.

I saw it as a cautionary tale that I wanted to share with them so as to avoid future amputations and the need for any prosthesis. God knows their tuition bills are enough to finance.

I had also recently shared a link with my 21-year-old son to an article reporting that smoking too much cannabis can cause man boobs, which he thought was funny.

Apparently, he did not think the frozen girl was funny or valuable in any way because he called me soon after freaking out about it.

“Don’t send me that shit,” the conversation began and quickly ended with me screaming “Fuck you!” into the phone and hanging up.

I promise you: This was never a part of my grand master parenting plan, nor was the moment after I hung up the phone when I had to walk back into the kitchen to find my two younger children – 16 and 11 – sitting on stools and staring at me.

Not exactly the model of conflict resolution I wanted them to see.

Needless to say, the matter was discussed in-depth with my therapist when we next met and she helped me see that while I thought I was using the poor girl’s possible amputation as a teachable moment for my kids, my son viewed it as a message from me that he would be dumb enough to do something like that in the first place.

He was insulted.

And who knows, maybe the day of that terrible conversation I was getting my period, or ovulating or whatever it is nowadays that makes my hormones go a little crazy, which added fuel to the emotional fire.

But historically, he and I are good at pushing each other’s buttons and quickly making the other one crazy. We tend to jump right out of the frying pan and roll around in the fire.

And it’s not just him. I get into tussles with everyone around here. I like to joke that my little guy’s been strapping on his teenager training wheels lately because sometimes there’s that tone in his voice when he has to answer one of my many, apparently, annoying questions, and he’s given some sassy responses lately, too.

Et tu, my sweet young boy?

And while my therapist recommended things like having follow-up conversations with all the kids about the amputation blow up, meditating and making a jar that I put money in every time I act like an asshole (or something like that), I think I have struck upon the perfect antidote to potentially hostile situations with my kids.

Last week I picked up a box full of home movies I had converted to DVDs at Costco and was reminded – at least for a few hours – of how fucking sweet my children were. Are. Is.

Sure, we’ve got boxes of old pictures and photo albums filled with shots from Christmases of long ago. But to actually see the kids in action and hear their little voices – so young and innocent – and watch how we all interacted was wonderful and terrible all at once.

Like, how did we get from there to here?

In retrospect, some of the scenes are classic signs of personalities to come: my older daughter shy and hesitant in the hospital room meeting her new little sister but super-excited for the candy in her Christmas stocking; the little sister – at 4 – decked out in a kooky lingerie-inspired outfit and belting out some made-up song on her Barbie karaoke machine, pausing only to scream at her older brother to stop “annoying” her.

Total diva.

But to me, one of the most compelling moments of those recordings was watching my oldest son open his Christmas presents, circa 2001. He was in third grade and had just turned 9 and apparently Santa really thought he wanted a lot of books that year. But instead of disgust, he happily opened his deluxe Narnia Chronicles set and lifted the heavy Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire tome over his head in victory.

He was that sweet. And I knew just how to make him happy.

Sometimes I tell myself stories about my kids. “He’s always been this way,” or “She’s always been like that.”

And sometimes it’s the truth and other times, it couldn’t be further from it.

But I know that since I watched my son lift that Harry Potter book over his head, I’ve been looking at him a little different over this long break home between semesters. I’m seeing him not in a new light, but the way I used to see him.

The two of us went out to dinner last night and had a great time. The conversation was easy — we talked about everything from Breaking Bad to LeBron James — and there was never any point that I felt like I had to say something annoying, like “Put your napkin on your lap,” or “Use your knife.”

He already knew what to do.

photo 2And I’m reminded that even though he’s a lot taller and hairier than he used to be, inside — and sometimes maybe it’s so deep down in there you’d need an excavation crew to find it — he’s still that same sweet boy I knew all those years ago.

And I’m glad I found him again.










A Very Gosling Christmas

IMG_0005Even though my days of getting fancy gifts are on hold right now – there were no diamond studs under the tree this year – I still got some pretty amazing presents for Christmas.

And because, according to my therapist, I am to view all challenges, hardships and difficult people in my life as gifts – here to help me learn about myself and grow – receiving less-expensive items has taught me a lot.

First, the people in my life know me really well and give me amazing presents. And second, great gifts don’t need to cost a lot of money (first witnessed last year with the amazing deck of cards my daughter made me).

Don’t get me wrong: I wouldn’t say “No” to a Cartier watch. But for now, I’m happy to settle for opening amazingly-thoughtful things.

There were definitely some themes to the gifts I was given: Of course, it was a Very Gosling Christmas this year and I got not only the probably-soon-to-be-best-selling book 100 Reasons to Love Ryan Gosling (I am partial to #29: He can do the Dirty Dancing body lift and #99: It is biologically impossible not to love Ryan Gosling) from my daughter, but a pair of earrings from my BFF featuring the young actor’s scruffy face and giving new meaning to the term “stud earrings.”


Only on Etsy can you find such treasures.

Who thinks to make these things?

I got lots of stuff with my name or ‘A’s on them, like notecards and pillows, a makeup bag and not one but two cool bracelets.

And speaking of makeup bags, this one from my gal pal was pretty funny:


My kids totally nailed their gifts to me.

I got the Walking Dead version of Monopoly from my older daughter that I’ve already played twice and a sticker of the cover illustration from The Giving Tree to put on the back of my laptop and makes it look like the boy is plucking the apple from the tree.

My oldest son gave me a stuffed zombie that you can pull apart and see its guts. Sweet.

My little guy gave me a pair of silver heart earrings, which I was told he hand-selected and I am tempted to make a joke about what a stud he is, but think that might come off as really creepy.

And my younger daughter gave me a fleece cheetah-print onesie so that I could now work from home without the annoyance of pesky yoga pants waistbands digging into my muffintop. I spent about 36 hours wearing it after Christmas and can attest to its comfort but am concerned that it seemed to raise my body temperature 10 degrees, leaving in a bit of a perpetual sweat during its wearing.

I liked pairing the outfit with a scrunchie atop my head and am concerned that if I started eating Cheez-Its in bed with the suit on and drinking wine, I just might be single forever.

So for now, it’s hanging on the back on my bathroom door. (I thought about posting a picture of me wearing the suit, but decided that no one, especially potential love-interests, need to see that selfie).

But I loved how thoughtful my gifts were and how much the people I love really “got” me.

And that is really the greatest gift of all (besides the Cartier watch). Right?

When I wasn’t opening presents or running around in my onesie this week, I was busy blogging about my fondness for dudes and that sometimes the Elf on the Shelf inspires kids to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Check it out ..



I ♥ Dudes

Dear Men of the World,

I learned an interesting thing about how it seems I am perceived by you fellas – as a divorced lady – when I hosted a party the other night. (READ MORE … )



photo(86)Sometimes, Elves are Okay

I went to my annual cookie exchange the other night and as we sat around the hostess’s kitchen island eating the salad she prepared to balance out the fondue and Trader Joe’s wontons we’d been feasting on earlier, someone pointed to the elf perched high atop the cabinets.

“That’s Steve,” out hostess said brightly and picked up her iPad. “Wait, you’ve got to see this.” (READ MORE … )