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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

You Are Not Just a Mother

I need a favor from you, queen bee. I need you to stop saying that you are "just" a mother. I need you to stop right now. I need you to stop saying it in your future. Your child is so much more than just. Your life is more than just. You are so far beyond just... just doesn't deserve you.

Here is what you are (just in case you need the reminder):

You are
a hope
a light
a vault
a believer
a dreamer
a warrior
the love
the glue
the glitter
the future.

And this is what you do (again and again and again):

you chauffeur
you work
you pay
you cook
you clean
you fold
you teach
you build
you create
you laugh
you play
you call
you answer
you listen
you speak
you inspire
you believe
you remember
you release
you forgive
you endure
you hold
you lift
you climb
you carry
you glow
you dream
you sacrifice
you cry
you bleed
you bandage
you spill open

you show up.

There is nothing slight about it. There is nothing just about it. You do not have time for the justs, the justifications and the judgements. You are doing the best that you can. And you are killing it.
Rock on momma.
You are extraordinary.
Thank you for showing up.

Cheers to us.

Thank you to The Honest Body Project for their stunning work and celebration of truth and motherhood.
This is beautiful Amiah with beautiful James. Not just a baby. Not just a mother.
So. Much. More.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Love Letter to my Mother-in-Law

Dearest Yia-Yia...

I feel like there are too many things that I haven't told you. I think that is the thing with super women. We just assume that they know how extraordinary their super powers are that we forget to voice them out loud. We forget that everyone needs to have their cup refilled (yes, your exact words that you've said to me). I think it is beyond time that I expressed my gratitude out loud for the way you love out loud. There aren't enough words or pages for all of the things so here is just a beginning.

You love my children. You say yes to them and dedicate whole days to the word yes. They know Yia-Yia is synonymous with laughter and play and swinging and all that is important in childhood. And adulthood. Whenever I am in doubt about the right decision of how to handle a situation with my kids I usually ask myself What Would Yia-Yia do? And that always finds a way to bring me to the right path; the happier path; the path of yes.

You love me. You love me like I was one of your own children which makes me feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. You have been a therapist, a friend and a mother. You not only watch my children but you have slipped me money when I've gone out the door for girls weekends. You give the best gifts from shoes to clothes to Anthropologie happiness. I know love has nothing to do with the material but I am astonished by the thought behind each and every thing. I know that I haven't thanked you enough because I am the worst ever at thank you cards but I know your generosity is lined in it all. I myself am stitched together by flaws laced in hopeful intentions but you never point them out. You never make me feel like not enough but instead like I am a light and I am not alone. You have an understated way of making everyone feel like they have gifts in this world that need to be shined for all to see. You see all of our children's strengths, all of their gifts. Not to say that they don't each have their faults, of course they do, but what a hopeful world it is to just look for the good. That in itself is a gift of yours. It is not a slight thing to be able to see everyone's light.

You've shown me the love that is food. And that there isn't a situation in life that couldn't be improved by a glass of Chardonnay. You are a brilliant, bountiful and beautiful chef. You make the type of food that people yearn to be in your kitchen. You provide the company that people don't want to leave. And when they do they will not leave empty handed. I have not left your kitchen without at least 3 tupperware containers of your delicious food in the last 15 years.

You've given me your son. He is of course both of ours, for better or worse and I still call dibs on you should we ever get a divorce but when we got married, you handed him to me with grace. You handed him to me with hope. He will always be one of the best people I will ever meet in this world and that is to your credit. He is a strong man and he was raised by a strong woman. I am in awe of the tenacity in those genes and am grateful that blood that thick is coarsing through my children.

And there is you. Resilience personified. You take nothing lying down and you take it with a smile. You find humor in what others would hide from. You bring laughter with a side of spanakopita. Dirty jokes with wine. Strength with spirit. You do not let things break you. You overcome.

I hope that when I become a mother-in-law that I do half as good a job as what you have done for me. That would be the ultimate success. I know I never have called you Mom but that doesn't mean that I would ever consider you as anything else. Thank you. Thank you for everything. You will always be more than I could hope for.

Love you.


Friday, March 6, 2015

F#ck You Winter

Disclaimer: I am an eternal optimist. I see through rose colored glasses at a glass half full. I believe that everything will work out. Always.

But there comes a time every year when I stomp on those rose colored glasses and drop f-bombs out of my children's range of hearing. It happens around one of the last (sweet Jesus it better be) snow storms of the season in March. MARCH.

Fuck. You. Winter.

I curse Mother Nature and her angry bitchy ways. My kids had a two day school week this week. The last time they went 5 straight days was in mid-October. The weight of winter carries a burden that the heat of summer could never contend with. Winter feels limited and heavy. Summer is all things light and free.

I don't live in New England or Chicago or Alaska or a land that is known for a crazy long ass snow filled winter; I don't know how those people do it (seriously how do you do it?). I live in Maryland, a state of mild lovely seasons that embraces warm; a drinking state with a boating problem. I want to hear a bird chirp and a flower emerge and feel that moment of unzipping your coat and breathing in the light of the sun without the bitchslap of a chill to your bones.

I would have an orgasm today if that happened.

Today it is too cold to feel your face. Today your eyelids may freeze to your eyeballs. Today it is too cold for my husband's ATV to start so he can plow the driveway. He and my sons are old school shoveling it. It is actually orgasmic that he is outside and I am not. Thank you husband. I'm so glad I didn't stab you the other day when you asked what I did all day when all of the children were home on snow day #217.

So I've declared this day a day of gluttony and I will eat chocolate with a vengeance and drink wine like bikini season will never come. Who knows maybe it won't this year... fuck you endless dark stupid winter.

I've heard that you should wish for the people that you love enough cold days that you appreciate the warm ones. Done and done. Do you hear that Mother Fucking Nature? We surrender. You've granted us the winter wishes now we are ready for the spring ones. And we promise to be eternally grateful.

Until next winter.

Love and hope and red wine in the meantime...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gluten Free Granola Bars

Yesterday was snow day 117 here. I wanted to make something with my kids that would show them I love them and in the look at us we are cooking together way but not so far as I want to clean up the kitchen all day way. Enter these granola bars. No oven or sweat required. Really easy and even cost saving (those store bought gluten free bars can really add up). And there is enough for leftovers. So they can be reminded of the kitchen bonding again and again. Score one for team we can't even wait for spring...
cheers to almost March my friends.

Gluten Free Granola Bars

adapted from Minimalist Baker

1 cup packed raisins or dates, pitted (deglet nour or medjool)
1/4 cup maple syrup (or honey or agave)
1/4 cup creamy salted natural peanut butter or sun butter 
1 cup roasted salted sunflower seeds (or chopped almonds)
1 1/2 cups gluten free rolled oats 
3/4 cup chocolate chips
           optional add-ins: dried fruit, vanilla, nuts, banana chips, flax seed, etc.

1 Process raisins or dates in a food processor or Vitamix until small bits remain (about 30-40 seconds). It should form a "dough" like consistency. (mine rolled into a ball); can also add oats to help them process easier
2 Place oats, seeds and raisins in a bowl - set aside.
3 Warm maple syrup and sun or peanut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir and pour over oat mixture and then mix, breaking up the raisins to disperse throughout.
5 Once thoroughly mixed, transfer to an 8x8 dish or other small pan lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper so they lift out easily. (A loaf pan might work, but will yield thicker bars.)
6 Press down until uniformly flattened. Cover with parchment or plastic wrap, and let set in fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes to harden.
7 Remove bars from pan and chop into even bars. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. I kept mine in the freezer to keep them extra fresh and they taste even more delicious the next day and can be eaten straight from the freezer. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Imperfect Love Letter to my Kids

I know that I tell you I love you an endless number of times a day. I know I also raise my voice too much and I'm grumpy before I have had caffeine and I have high expectations of you and all of that is probably never ever going to change. So please remember this: I am beyond proud of you. I am overwhelmed with the luck that you were born to me. And I know that I don't tell you that enough.

Here are just some of the reasons of why my soul could burst with pride:

Because sometimes you say please and thank you without me having to ask you to.

Because you have a laugh that is stunning and contagious.

Because you sometimes remember to not pick your nose in the living room.

Because you are so kind.

Because if I wasn't your parent, I'd want to be the type of friend you'd want to have a sleepover with.

Because you sometimes choose to go to the bathroom indoors. In a toilet.

Because I don't really mind when you go outside. I'd still want to have a sleepover.

Because you show up.

Because you sometimes sleep until after 6:30 in the morning.

Because you don't mind when dirt is under your fingernails.

Because you keep on trying.

Because you are okay with wearing mismatched socks when I'm behind on laundry.

Because your heart is so big it can barely be contained in your body.

Because you appreciate the greatness that is an ice cream sundae.

Because you live out loud.

Because you help clean the bathrooms.

Because you love books.

Because you aren't perfect.

Because you know that I'm not either.

Because you've taught me more than I thought I was capable of learning.

Because you know that success isn't measured in dollars.

Because you know that joy isn't either.

Because you give the type of hugs that make me forget to exhale.

Because you are stubborn. Like your father.

Because you are smart. Like me.

Because you love a good party.

Because you run so fast when you get off the bus, like the front door can't come quickly enough.

Because you remind me to stop taking it all so seriously.

Because you draw and build and dance.

Because you see opportunity in a rainy Saturday.

Because you can dream things that the world needs.

Because you are light.

Because you are the future.

Because you have set fire to the past.

Because you have made my present.

Because of you, I know what pride is. I know what happy feels like.
And I get to be awakened and blanketed by all that is good. Every. Single. Day.

I love you. I am proud of you. For all that you do... thank you.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Life with Twins

Here are snapshots of a life with twins. Here are just some of the priceless moments of our last 5 years with these babes in our world. And of course what we have learned...

To everyone with babes, one, two or oh so many more, stock up on the wine, laughter and caffeine friends. And don't forget to take pictures. 


There's a lot of cuteness. 

There's a lot of trying to be like pinterest. Until you realize every project will result in tears.

There's a lot of this.
And this. Sharing germs is our favorite. 

So is stealing electronics.

Life is a little bit messy. 

Or a lot. 

Don't worry Mom. We can find the jar of Aquaphor on our own. 

They're willing to try anything. Thanks Uncles. 

They will consume things that are not even close to being food.

Seriously...who keeps putting these diapers on? 

Duct tape = survival.

When you blink they will do this... 
The only time they prefer to wear clothing is actually the places where they're not supposed to.

    Potty training may have taken 3 years.

Dirt and nudity will find them wherever they go.

Is there really a better way to read?

Life is really all about the shoes.

And sometimes we are upset because we tried to put on too many pairs of underwear. 
Everything becomes a toy. Or a way to get onto a counter.

Or sometimes things are just in their way. Like all of these clothes that were in drawers.

Make-up is the most fun. Especially on Christmas. When we are hosting it. And momma hasn't put any on yet.

They will find a way to do anything.
Anything can become a swing.

 Or a new chair. Like this sink. 

Chairs are so much more fun if you don't wear pants. 
Pants are so overrated. 

They can do anything at all.

And everything at once.

They will find a way to get bruises and you have no idea what they did.

They literally exhaust themselves to the point of this.

They will find a way to escape. Always. 

    They will find a way.

And find the keys to the ATV.

And just when you think they will color on paper...

I swear we own clothes. 

Seriously it is that exhausting to keep up with your twin.

And then the next time you blink, here they are. Clothed and holding hands.
And you don't know how you all made it.
But you did.
And you try not to do anymore blinking because this journey is just the most fun.
And exhausting.
And you wouldn't want it any other way. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

10 Thoughts that I Had During my First Bikram Yoga Class

I may be a yoga instructor but Bikram still intimidates me. I have avoided it for far too long because something about that 104 degree room and the idea of the same 26 poses just didn't strike my zen fancy.  But then a Groupon came my way and I figured it was time to give heat a chance. When I walked into that stifling room for the first time I was intrigued, excited and scared shitless.

Here are ten thoughts that crossed and lingered too long on my mind during my first Bikram class:

1. Is it too late to run out of this room? Did I just walk into a sauna? Surely they just keep it this hot to welcome us. I've broken a sweat just in unrolling my mat. I'll just be sure to be in the back row in case I decide to go for a Starbucks run instead. Oh no. The instructor closed the door. Arrivederci Caramel Macchiato. It is okay. I've got this.

2. Am I doing this right? I don't got this. Excuse me... what is this breathwork and why are we standing? I'm not following. I guess I'll just pretend that this is all normal and we all look completely normal. Note to self: do not try this breath in public. Ever.

3. Sweet fancy Moses, her body is ridiculous. Dear front and center girl, I see your better than Channing Tatum abs and your barely covering your cheeks spandex shorts. WE ALL SEE YOU. You are front and center posing like a gazelle in front of a wall full of mirrors. Bitch. I mean I know yoga isn't a competition but I can not bring myself to stop staring at her. Wait is that J. Lo? I'm pretty sure it is. Or her more built body double. I'm going to need to watch Monster-in-Law later to confirm.

4. I'm sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. ARE WE ON THE SUN RIGHT NOW? Is anyone else finding it damn near impossible to breathe? Has anyone else's mat turned into a slip n' slide? I'm so overdressed and I'm only wearing a tank top.

5. Correction: the guy next to me is sweating more than anyone else in the history of ever. I'm not trying to judge you yet I can not look away. If I'm attempting to balance on a slip n' slide than that guy is doing tree pose on top of Niagra Falls. Could we get Mr. Itty Bitty Spandex an extra towel? Or all of the towels? Maybe a mop? Rain barrel? If he's coming here to get laid than I am so sorry friend but it's not going to happen. Maybe you'll have better luck at Zumba.

6. I should have done some training for this. My body has never before been so pissed off at me. It's like deciding while eating a banana split to drop it to go complete a triathlon. Stupid fucking Groupon.

7. I want to get a tattoo. I am channeling all of my energies into fantasizing about being one of the almost-naked-I-have-Chinese-food-in-my-fridge-older-than-them-built-like-gladiators girls in the front row. They are barely even sweating. J.Lo and I shall become besties and drink wheatgrass after front and center Bikram together. And we will travel to Thailand and get small om tattoos somewhere on our ab area so the wannabes in the back row will have to squint to read them. This class is the best thing ever.

8. Is this class ever going to actually end? Did I misread the description and sign up for a 900 minute class instead of a 90 minute one? Now all of my fantasies are about snow and Antartica. Fuck Thailand. I'm sorry Thailand, nothing against you it's just I need to be among Eskimos right now. At least we've made our way on to the floor which is good because I'm not sure that I'll ever be able to stand again. I could have gone to Starbucks AND watched Monster-in-Law AND drank a margarita in this amount of time. I. AM. SO. THIRSTY.

9. Thank you Mother of all things holy, the instructor dimmed the lights. The end is near! The end is near! I've never been more excited for darkness. Savasana you are the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

10. I survived. I actually made it. Exhausted like how you would feel if you had your intestines ripped out of you, to be cleaned, ironed, neatly folded and then put back in again while using no drugs, of course. And wow. I actually feel like a bad ass warrior. Sweaty, spent and glorious. That Savasana put it all into delicious perspective for me. God bless laying down. This. This is the feeling I guess we all strive for- overcoming our minds so that our bodies will thank us. This is detox at its natural crazy best. A celebration of what the body can do and a release of the things that need to be let go of. Bikram you have sold me though I may need to work on the abs a wee bit more before heading back.

I can't wait to shower (maybe one where I'm sitting down; I suppose that's called a bath but I don't want to swim in my current sweat situation). A sit shower it will be. And I'm actually even looking forward to the next class. Groupon's got me for 14 more.

Cheers to you warriors...
May your hot yoga experience be paved with extra towels.

Love & namaste,

Doing snow angels naked in this is what Bikram fantasies are made of.

My new book is available on Amazon now. A happy gift for all the warriors in your life.