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Cheers to you dear e-mail subscribers...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Hello December

This is what this tumble of gratitude into December feels like to me. Pure stunning magic. I almost forget how big it feels but then I see my kids light up at the unveiling of each decoration, no matter how small. It is all magic to them in this sweet spot we are in, where the belief is so strong that it trumps every doubt. This is my favorite. Please let me not get so caught up in the wildness of it all that I lose sight of how beautiful it all just is. 

Photo: This is what this tumble of gratitude into December feels like to me. Pure stunning magic. I almost forget how big it feels but then I see my kids light up at the unveiling of each decoration, no matter how small. It is all magic to them in this sweet spot we are in, where the belief is so strong that it trumps every doubt. This is my favorite. Please let me not get so caught up in the wildness of it all that I lose sight of how beautiful it all just is. #sweetdecember

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy Friendsgiving (Overnight) Turkey Recipe

Oh snap... Thanksgiving is next week kids. 

My favorite part of this holiday are the gratitude (of course), wine (obviously) and the side dishes (mmmmmmashed potatoes). My husband's favorite though is the turkey. So much that we even host a Friendsgiving on the first football Sunday of the year, when we Redskins fans are so full of hope once more that we invite friends over to toast the potential together. So just because I don't eat it (I'm a vegetarian though I don't want you to judge me; I love meat eaters, I just don't love meat) doesn't mean I won't make it. It is an act of true love (take that Anna and Elsa).  And I feel that if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right. And if you are doing it right, you might as well do it simply and let the oven do all most of the work. Brace yourself, because this bird cooks all night baby. You just pour yourself a glass of bubbly and soak in the compliments- a win for team simplify! 

Friendsgiving Overnight Turkey (yes you read that right)

The Players

2 Tbsp. fresh sage
2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (plus more for drizzling)
Kosher salt (between 1/4 and 1/2 cup; depending on the size of your bird)
16-24 lb. Turkey (fresh or thoroughly thawed; don't forget to take out the giblets; it's always awkward when you, okay, I forget)
2 sticks of softened butter (it's Thanksgiving loves, we have to live a little)
2 onions, quartered
1/2 lemon
1 cup of baby carrots or sliced whole carrots
4 garlic cloves
Greek or poultry seasoning
Quart of vegetable or chicken broth

I apologize in advance because there is a little math involved in this recipe. But the kids watching you do this will be thoroughly impressed to see you use math in a real life critical situation. Please read the recipe in it's entirety so you can do all of your calculations before you begin, you math wizard you. These are the quick highlights of your math: 24 hours to dry brine (in fridge), 24 hours to be uncovered (also in fridge), 30 minutes to rest, 30 minutes at 475 degrees and an hour per pound to cook at 185 degrees and a brief resting period before carving. This is where a 24-lb. turkey proves to be the best choice because of the math factor- just over 24 hours of cooking time and pouf! You've got yourself a perfect bird. So calculate the time that you want to serve dinner and just work backwards. So with that size bird (24 lbs.), if I want us to eat at 2 p.m. the following day, I'm going to pull the brined turkey out of the refrigerator at 1 p.m. so it can rest for 30 minutes while the oven preheats and the slow cooking can begin. It's also a very forgiving recipe; it is okay if your math is off (mine always is); up the temp in the morning if you need it done faster and lower it if you need to slow it down. Don't give up on it before you begin- it is the best ever and you don't have to constantly baste the beast either so you can focus on the happy of the holiday...

The Game

So we need to start the seasoning of this bad boy 48 hours in advance (I know... but it's worth it). We are going to dry brine it which is fancy chef talk for seasoning it for a good long ass time. Mix the herbs and oil in a small bowl. Loosen the skin around the shoulders of the bird and around the cavity. Slide your hands underneath the skin to loosen it from the breast, thighs and drumsticks. Rub the herb mixture on the meat, under the skin. Don't be shy. Get in there like the future of Thanksgiving itself depends on this rubdown. Pat the skin back into place. Oh yeah baby.

Rub the salt inside the cavity and on the skin. Put the turkey in a large food-safe plastic bag (like one of those lovely turkey size roasting bags) and tie. Put the bag inside a second bag and tie. Because this is really not the time that you want leakage (not there is really ever a time that you want that). Place it breast side down and refrigerate it for 24 hours (you can even do it longer if you're a fancy one). After 24 hours, flip it to breast side up, remove the bags and uncover it for 24 hours; this allows for the skin to dry and I am told it will also result in pure deliciousness.

When it is go time (i.e. the day or night before the big feast) pull out that beautiful bird and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Patience and wine drinking greatly aid this recipe. Pat the turkey down with dry paper towels inside of the cavity. 

You do not want to stuff this bird with stuffing- it just won't be good (or healthy really) so instead put 4 onion quarters, 1/2 cup of carrots, garlic cloves and lemon inside the cavity. Put the remainder of the carrots and onions at the bottom of the roasting pan with 1 cup of water and put the rack on top. Place the turkey on the rack. Slather 1 stick of butter all over the skin (you are in it to win it). Season with greek (or poultry) seasoning to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Roast the turkey at 475 degrees for 30 minutes, breast side up.

Flip the bird (hee hee) so it is breast side down. There isn't a real lady like way to do this so you just have to get in there like the kick ass cook you are. I know they sell all kinds of turkey gadgets but I prefer to just put plastic grocery bags over my hands and grab that beast and put those breasts where the juices are (hee hee). Pour a quart of vegetable or chicken broth (or even apple cider; whatever you have on hand) over the bottom side that's now facing you. Season this side with greek (or poultry) seasoning and give it a drizzle of olive oil.

Now this is where you really have to use the math. Reduce the oven temperature to 185°F and roast your turkey for at least 1 hour per pound. The 1-hour-per-pound guideline is to ensure that the entire bird gets heated through, but roasting longer will not be a problem. On the morning of the feast, flip the bird back so it is breast side up and once more slather one stick of softened butter on top (your guests will love you) and put back in the oven for the remainder of your cooking calculation until the internal temperature of the bird is, at a minimum, 165 degrees. 

Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (enough time for photo opportunities with the beautiful bird) while you pour yourself more wine. Carve and get ready to enjoy a deliciously satisfying meal with people that you love. 

And to follow it, sorry pumpkin but you'll have to share the stage. This is one of the best desserts ever:

Real Simple Flourless Chocolate Cake (gluten free peeps unite!)
Have your pumpkin but your chocolate too. 

Cheers to you and all that you have to be grateful for...


Forgive me for not actually taking pictures of the Friendsgiving bird. 
But here is my current mantle which puts me in the simplified gratitude spirit.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Praise for the Child that Doesn't Get Straight A's

Yesterday was report card day for us. Lucy looks forward to this day like most kids look forward to Christmas. The countdown (two more weeks- eek!), the anticipation (I couldn't eat lunch today, I was just too excited to get my report card) and the victory (YES- I got straight A's- Principal's Honor Roll!!!). This was the first year that Niko got letter grades and he is definitely one that thrives more when he knows he's getting graded on something and he, too, got straight A's. This is the first year that the twins have been in school, let alone the first report card, no perfect marks or even close to it,  but they did excel in the attendance department.

I am ridiculously proud of all of them.

When Lucy was a baby, I wasted far too much time comparing her to other babies. When will she sleep through the night? When will she start rolling? Why isn't she rolling? Why isn't she crawling/walking/talking yet when the other babes at Gymboree class are? I wished her older far too quickly instead of just soaking in each place in life that she gloriously was. She was healthy and happy so why was I even wishing for more than that? I was stealing joy from both of us to be caught up in someone else's timeline. And it continues as they get older: the comparison. When are kids are great at school, we want them to be better at sports. Natural athlete at sports, so we want them to get better grades. When they are great at musical instruments, we wish them to better at helping around the house. Amazing artists, let's work harder at math. More activities, more lessons, more tutoring, more foreign languages, more sports, more camps, more training, more scouts, more dance... more, more, more to exceed unrealistic expectations that we put on them.

Enough. The quest for perfection in our children so that we feel better about ourselves is exhausting. We miss the opportunity to embrace the imperfection in us all and the beautiful gifts that we all bring to the table. I'm not saying that children shouldn't be pushed to work harder and practice and read and study and be reminded to make their beds every single day; they absolutely should. That is why we are parents and the big challenging responsibility is to make our children the most wonderful human beings possible. But that means that they don't need to do it all perfectly. It means showing up and to have the courage to do it all over again every single day.

My mother-in-law gave me some of the best parenting advice that I've ever heard:
Everyone brings their own recipe to the world.

Take a moment to think of your own recipe that you bring to the world. Now think of your child's. It doesn't have to be in the form of a textbook or the number of soccer goals scored. Or something that we can even put on a college application or a resume.

Lucy's is reading. And loving school.
Niko's is building and creating and imagining.
Micah can figure out how so many things work. He has an engineer's mind that boggles mine.
And Sophia. Sophia can make a friend wherever she goes.
She tells me "My heart is as big as my whole body."

Yes it is. And kindness, the unconditional eye opening kind, is a recipe that will serve her endlessly in this life. She might not ever get straight A's and that is completely okay.
She shows up and she makes the world bright. I will take it.

Not all things in life should be measured in the form of report cards.

Shine on warriors...

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dear Momma Expecting Twins

I see you. I see you there with your "My Pod has Two Peas" shirt stretched to its capacity, gracefully unaware that there is a crescent moon of skin peering out from between where the shirt band and maternity pants band are supposed to meet. The look in your eyes is one of fear, joy and a touch of exhaustion, which my dear friend, is the perfect combination of twin preparation.

Five years ago I was where you are, wishing I had larger maternity shirts. I was terrified and excited and overwhelmed by it all. I don't know that any words can prepare you for the journey that you have a one way ticket on, but here are some things that I wish that I knew.

1. It is hard. So fucking hard. From the moment of conception my twins felt more challenging than my two other single children (or singletons but I've also thought that word was weird; more like a sitcom than a child description). I am not trying to scare you, I just want you to now that you are not alone when you feel like you can't quite get your head above water.

2. It will get easier. Keep on treading sister. There will come a day when you will know each baby's cry, which baby swing they each will prefer, make it through a day without tears (yours) and theirs (one day) and you will sleep for over 45 minutes at a time. It doesn't (typically) happen overnight but one day, I promise, it will.

3. Fake it until you own it. This will help you get to the easier point. Shower. Wear pants that have a zipper. Put on lip gloss. Shave something. Or go and have something waxed or painted without any children in tow. It will change your life. Take care of yourself even when it is the last thing you feel like doing. Especially when it is the last thing you feel like doing. Connecting to the pre-twin you will help connect you to the joy of the post-twin you.

4. Marriage becomes more challenging. Nothing tells someone that they are your soulmate when you punch them at 2 a.m. because you've been up all night with the babies on a continuous clock of teething torture. Stick it out loves and refer to #2. It will get easier. Help each other. Talk to each other. Appreciate each other. And keep showing up. Gifts help. Flowers are good but pizza and wine are fucking money.

5. Twins are double the joy and a gazillion times more mischief. Childproof. Now. The moment you see two heartbeats on the sonogram. Do it. But don't be surprised when they defy all these methods and still attempt to stick a screwdriver in an electrical outlet. By 15 months my twins were jumping out of cribs, breaking down pack and plays, raiding syrup from refrigerators, popping locks, starting heavy machinery and needed to have their diapers duct taped because, well, twins. And all of these things happened while I was 2 feet away. It is like living with a messy wild fugitive tiny monkey meets MacGyver. Times two. Wine helps. But keep the bottle on a ridiculously high shelf. Trust me.

6. Take pictures. Evidence helps backing up the things that happen in #5. One day, one far day from now, you will laugh. And toast yourself for surviving it.

7. What you really need to register for: girlfriends, babysitters and wine. These are the lifesavers and the unsung heroes that will help you get through it all. Line them up and never feel guilty for anything that helps you feel alive and happy and present. And if you have all three at the same time, embrace it and absorb it. Tell them thank you. But not in a note. Ain't nobody got time for that. Let go of the guilt of the thank you note. Just hug them and tell them and keep going forward love.

8. You are a warrior. Really you are. It is going to drive you insane that people are going to constantly come up to tell you how lucky you are (or the more insulting: how did you get so lucky) and you are going to be so tired that you can barely give them a half smile let alone grab them by the collar and scream "What the hell are you talking about??" You are just so damn tired and waiting, yearning for the easier point. The fun point. The point where you can acknowledge the being lucky. But the truth is you are. It is okay not to see or feel it all the time. It is okay to cry because you know that you are and you feel guilty for not being completely in love with it all. You are not alone. You have two human beings that are completely relying on you for their very survival and tears are more prevalent that laughter and you are leaking from every orifice in your body and you miss your pre-maternity jeans and you weren't built with an extra arm and you want a better under eye concealer and a maid and no thank yous are spoken and no sleep is had and it is not a journey for the weak.

But you have been chosen, super woman. You were blessed in this life to bring two warriors into this world. It won't be easy but that doesn't mean that it won't be the most rewarding adventure that was entrusted to you. You are in charge of your greatness and theirs. There will be a moment that you could spill open with radiance because your life is so whole and you wouldn't want to change it for anything. Acknowledge the joy and hope of it all as each joyous and hopeful inch comes your way. And know that you are a rockstar. You've got this. Own that cape baby.

Wishing you cheers, naps and all things hopeful...


If you like this, please feel free to share it far and wide. 
My new book You are a Warrior is out on Amazon.
It is a book about kindness. For kids. And grown-ups. 
And anyone who has been bullied. 
Or is a warrior. Or wants to be one. Or wants to make this world better. 
Or likes fun childlike art made by kids. Or loves a good female hero. 
And thinks that is about time that there should be a good female hero. 
So yes, if you are into that then please check this out. 
Let's start a kindness tribe.

 You are a warrior.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

You are a warrior.

Here is the thing. Here is the inspiration. Niko brought this letter home last year at 6 years old and I thought it was one of the best things that I've ever read. This is why I wanted to write a children's book that is not so much anti-bullying as it is pro-kindness. I'm in love with the concept of taking the power away. And what if instead of being afraid that we have to do these huge giant enormous heroic acts that seem on the intimidating side of life to make a difference, what if we show our children (and ourselves) that it really can be done as just one (seemingly small but actually amazing) kind act at a time. What if it is just showing up and being kind? Everyday.

Be kind and you will be a warrior.

You will make a difference.

Also, I really wanted to write a children's book that had a female hero. It is beyond time for that.

The art is a mixed media collage featuring the illustrations of my four favorite artists, my children. Whimsy, love, hope, light and a side of warrior strength is what we were going for. If you like it please be gems and review it.

Coming your way on the 1st of November... and it is out on Kindle right now at this moment...

Wishing light and all great things to you warriors-


(if I got all the links to work right)...

Friday, October 24, 2014

Marriage. Is. Hard.

Can I just tell you something on the real and raw side? Marriage is hard. Insanely hard. There have been more moments in the last 11 years that have left me fragile and weak and broken that I would ever want to expose out loud. And you might not have ever experienced a moment in your "till death do us part" adventure that comes close to that. To which I would say to you friend "That is amazing. I hope you never do." But here is a truth in marriage (and definitely in parenting) you might not have reached your hard yet. You might not ever. But you may. And you're not alone. I think that is always okay to let one another know that we are not alone. Because that alone feeling can lead to many shades of darkness. And the thoughts that come under darkness are beyond frightening. So lets find the light. Together.

The reality is that marriage, to me, is like the ocean. Sometimes we just need to ride the waves. Sometimes we are up so high that we forget what it feels like to be down. And just as fast as that high came on, it all can come crashing down before you had a chance to brace yourself for it. And then there is the ripple effect that always follows when you are nose down in the sand. You yell. You take it out on the kids. Or the dog. Or your cell phone provider. And that's when the septic system breaks and there's a car accident and someone gets sick and we are late to practice. And Christmas is just staring at you in the face alongside the Halloween decorations. And it all looks so horrendous together that you want to scream but remember that you have dignity so you open your bag of Reese's peanut butter pumpkins and you eat them with vengeance to show that you are on Team Halloween. Ha ha ha (insert evil Halloween laugh)...TAKE THAT TARGET!

That my friends is marriage. And life. 

It rains sometimes. It is dark sometimes. And then it is light and beautiful and so full of future that you could just burst open. And it has the power to make you melt and crack then feel whole again once more. 

And sometimes all it takes is breathing in that other person. And listening to them. And turning off muting the football game in the background. And getting out of the way of your own hurt so that you can listen to them. And to not instantly pounce on judgement or defense but to just listen wide open. To own your imperfection, not to just point out theirs. 

Wine usually helps these conversations.

And you have two choices here: to harden or to soften. What outcome do you want? To build a wall or to break one down. It is as simple and as complicated as that. The softening isn't admitting defeat. It is saying: I choose you. I choose us. This day and maybe just maybe everyday, just one day at once, I am going to pick you on this path. Our path. The softening just may be the key to the lasting.

Yesterday was my husband's 35th birthday. We met when we were 20 years old so we haven't yet grown old together but more trying to survive growing up to adulthood together. I usually try to write something (irritatingly) gushy and romantic for his birthday. But this day, nothing feels more romantic than to be real. And open. And to soften.

And to say:
I am ridiculously imperfect. And I'm sorry that I enjoy shopping so much. I'm sorry that I despise laundry. And I'm not so great at cleaning but amazing at procrastinating. And googling (it is an art, thank you). But I love to cook and laugh and sing loud when I don't know the words and I love to dance like the world depends on it and in my eyes that is not such a bad combination. And I choose you. Everyday. At the end of the day there is no one else that I want to dance with. Or laugh with. Or love out loud.

So let's keep riding the waves. And to pull each other out of the sand. Movies can keep the romance. I'd rather have the love.

Here's to all of us. Cheers.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Stand for Kindness

I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed this morning and I was overcome by all the sadness and loss and negativity and bullying and judgment. It was mind blowing and numbing all at the same time. One story in particular really struck me. My father-in-law mentioned it to me and then I saw it on the very lovely site "A Mighty Girl".

It is the story of Jetta, a beautiful 10-year old who donated her hair to a charity for kids and is now enduring bullying from classmates. The school had a disappointing, less than weak response to it. Heartbreaking right? So her mom created a "Stand with Jetta" Facebook page to show support for her and I liked it instantaneously when I saw the bold think positive cover photo. I scrolled down to learn more about the story, more about the inspiring Jetta and her devoted family. I couldn't believe that here in this community of hope, optimism and anti-bullying that her mother had to remind people that this a place of encouragement; she had no choice but to post this:

I am starting to see a few negative posts and messages come through... I know that not everyone agrees with our decision to use social media, approves of Jetta's name, etc... There is no need for personal attacks... This page was set up to offer support and encourage kindness! Thank you to all of you who have been so positive and so kind!

That seems especially heartbreaking to me. Sometimes can we all just keep our negative opinions to ourselves? And it is not just on this site... it is everywhere. Adults, role models, grown ups attacking one another; people that children look up to. 

We are all human beings. So let's start acting like better ones.

Thank you Jetta.


Thursday, October 2, 2014

To Lucy On Your 10th Birthday

Dearest Lucy...

Smart stunning girl. Ten years old today. Are you sure that's right? Yes, 10 it is. 10:24 pm on 10.2.04. Thank you for simplifying the math for me (we both know that it's not my strong suit).

So I've tried, cried and bled to show you the good stuff over the last decade... I know I am no perfect teacher (ahem: nor are you the perfect student) but the world needs less attempts at perfection and more celebration of flaws. I do know time and time again that this what a child needs from their momma: to kiss your wounds when you fall, to be brave even when it is the last thing you feel like doing, to be kind no matter what. But what I haven't told you is that those things don't get any easier over time. You have to still be kind no matter what and be more brave than what you think your small body can even hold. Because there are going to be more falls, inside and out, ones that will rock you to the core and I won't always be there to kiss each one. But keep going forward. You are resilience with a hefty side of potential. You've got this next decade by the horns. You are enough. Never doubt that.

Please know this: life is not fair. Your grandfather used to drive me insane by telling it endlessly to me until it was my own mantra when I was old enough to realize that he was right. The world is not fair and it owes us nothing. We owe it with all the gifts entrusted in us to take it on each day and take it with a smile. Keep on smiling love and hold nothing back.

Don't forget this: you were born of tenacious spirit and mind. I would expect nothing less. Sugar and spice and everything nice? No thanks. I'll take my girls fierce, strong and all things mighty any day.

Always remember this: find your own happy and you will never feel at a loss for joy anywhere your life leads. Strive to be a better, more joyous you every day and let others worry about themselves. Don't get caught up in that type of worry of what everyone else thinks or comparison of what they have to what you have. It will steal your joy.  Nobody has time for that. The world needs more originals anyway.

And most importantly: when in doubt, dance. Life is always more fun when you do.

Cheers to the next decade and embracing it loud and proud. Stay awake for the adventures ahead love. The world needs more eye openers and big dreamers.

The world needs you.

You are more than I could have ever hoped for. Happy birthday beauty.



Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Taking the Crazy Out of the School Year

We need to have a chat. I feel like I never got the memo to how to stay on top of things during the school year and how to not have the exasperation with none of the benefits of running a 5K just to get the kids on the bus each morning. The whirlwind of the signing of papers and packing of lunches and "healthy" snacks and the location of cleats and clean uniforms and 4:30 dinners and oh shit we are late. Again. I often feel like I'm drowning before Halloween even hits. But this year I am determined to have my head above water and not drive myself to a one way road of insanity, dragging my children behind me. This year will be different. And not just telling myself it will but by actually doing things to make it better. 

So this is what I'm doing and honestly, most of you probably are already doing these things and holding out on me because it probably is just common sense and you have figured out how to not to turn into school momzilla. But my oldest is in 4th grade this year and I've just now realized that my lack of organization is making our lives more challenging than it really has to be. It doesn't have to be that hard. And if you are the same boat as me, come aboard sister, this year our boat stays afloat. We got this.

Taking the Crazy Out of the School Year Tips:

  • Have your kids physically lay out their clothes the night before. Socks, shoes, the whole freakin number. I know this one is a part of School 101. But the drama that can unfold when there's not a pair of matching socks in the house and the battles over having nothing to wear 7 minutes before the bus is pulling up is likely to produce tears. For everyone. I have lived to tell the tale. Save the drama for your momma the night before school instead of the morning. That is School 102.

  • Freeze your PB & J. Or your sun butter and jelly. Or just a piece of bread if that is what your child is into. This is probably the best tip ever but for some reason I had never done it until the end of last year when I thought that there has got to be a better way baby. I mean, they sell uncrustables right? Why can't I do the same thing? Well I can and you can too. The only real trick to it is to put peanut butter (or whatever alternative you fancy) on both sides of the bread and then put jelly in the middle and then smack that together (I use a sandwich cutter to take off the crusts; pottery barn kids has some fun ones) put it in a baggie (or a happy green alternative) and then when you've made a whole loaf's worth put them all in the bread bag or a large baggie and put them all in the freezer. Boom. Mom of the year. I only had one child complain that she (shocker it is the oldest girl) prefers a fresh sandwich which is completely fine because she is old enough to make her own. The other three completely dig it. Success in my book.

Eat your heart out uncrustables.

  • Have a shelf in your life that is dedicated to your kids making their own lunches. Again you might already do this and forgot to tell me about it but it is so brilliantly simple I don't know why I'm just discovering it. Better late than never. When everything is in an assembly line, the kids even the kindergartners can pack their lunch in record time. I can see when we are running low on something so it's easy to restock unlike when everything was in our pantry and the kids would just leave empty boxes stranded in there so I had no idea when we were out of something until the next morning's lunch packing/grunting. I now have a shelf dedicated in our basement and a drawer in the fridge to it now so I overlook the process to ensure they are eating more than oreos but they are the ones rocking down the line. They are helping me and I'm actually smiling through something that I used to dread.

I thought I was on fire. And then I made the mistake of going on Pinterest.
We are going to stick with our frozen sandwiches, thanks anyway Goofy.

  • Touch paper only once. It is easy to become a school paper hoarder. And it is natural to put things aside for whenever you will have more time to look over them. That time is never ever going to happen. You will have no time for these papers as long as you have a child that still rides the bus. So follow this mantra: touch it once and then take care of it. Papers signed. Done. Money that needs to be turned back in. Done. Plug the PTA meeting into your calendar. Done. Fundraisers. Done. Say yes or recycle it and move on. Don't worry, more paper will be headed your way tomorrow so hold on to only to the best ever art projects and remember that you are doing yourself and your child a tremendous favor by learning to let the rest go.

Looks like somebody had a productive day of Kindergarten.

  • Say yes to only what you and your child are into and then let go of guilt. Pick and choose and know it is okay to not be everywhere and everything all of the time. My 2nd grader actually told me that he would prefer that I not come in and read to his class this year. Did it feel like he was ripping my heart out of my chest? YES. Does that mean I can have more time for hot yoga? HELL YES. They are your world. I know. But it is okay to have a moment to focus on you too. You being over scheduled and overwhelmed will not be doing your child's psyche any favors. A more calm, more present you on the other hand, absolutely will. 

So let's do all that we can to start this year off with a little less insanity so that those moments between work and school are spent on the important things with the important people. After all, they happen to be growing up a little too fast. And this. Above all else, just please remember this:

You really are. 

Good luck rockstar mommas.
Cheers to us...

Friday, September 5, 2014

What I Have Learned From My Kids First Week of School

This marks the first week ever that all four of my babes got on that big beautiful bus to head off to school. All day. All the live long lovely day. Seeing that bus was like spotting water in the desert. Is this only a mirage? Is this really truly happening?

Oh it happened. And it was glorious. It is glorious. You know how when you have toddlers and you run into mothers of school age children at Target and they say how fast the school day goes and they don't feel like they have much time at all and you're thinking in your mind "What the fuck is this bitch talking about? I don't think we should be friends anymore. I'm disinviting her to book club. But she does bring the good guacamole..."

And you're smiling and nodding and pretending to relate when you only had six seconds of peace in your entire day and that occurred before your kids realized that you were in the bathroom. And you are on the verge of pouring your soy latte on her freshly clean and blow dried hair that smells like coconut (bitch!) but you think better of it. Because you really need that latte.

But now I can sort of relate to it. Because the time that happens when you get a moment alone for the first time since the summer of 2004 is so fucking awesome that you just don't want it to end. You want to shout from the rooftops that you are naked! and alone! and it is the best day of your life! But then the neighbors might hear and ask you to watch their kids. Or ask you to put clothes on. So you retreat to your blog to let everyone know that instead. And the time does go by fast and before you even did a quarter of your to do list it is almost time for that bus to roll back up in your business. Damn.

I love my kids, I really do.

But to be given this time to feel and comprehend and breathe and create is borderline orgasmic. Just kidding. There is nothing borderline about it. IT IS FUCKING ORGASMIC.

I actually even this week developed this wild skin rash that was all red and itchy and hot to the touch. I really think it was a reaction to my mind freaking out because it has found it's lost ability to process full thoughts again. MIND BLOWN. So it took it out on the skin because it knew that I would actually go see a doctor about that. Poor too often ignored mind, thanks for letting me know...

All is good now and healing and my mind is slowly acclimating to its new talents (i.e. thinking). I believe that some time alone should be required homework for all women (and men of course too but let's just vacation separately for now, okay?). It is a stunning form of therapy.

And yes there are to do lists and errands and real life and work projects but to choose when and how to do them, solely up to you, is where the therapy comes in. You feel that you can dictate the clock again for the first time in a long time.

So thank you, school days and brilliant patient teachers, you have given me, well... me. And there really aren't enough words to describe the gratitude in that.

Peace, love and hot yoga.

My favorite to do list.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dear Kindergarten Parents

This. This is a letter I stumbled upon in Parents magazine last September and immediately tore it out (sorry pediatrician's waiting room). It contains probably the best ever advice to preparing not exactly your child but you, YOU (a beautiful concept) to get set to put your baby out in the big big world of education. Kindergarten it turns out isn't usually as tough on the kids as it is for us grown ups. 
Thank you Vicki Glembocki. You summed it up perfectly. I'll toast my wine with olives to you next week...

Dear kindergarten parents,
Take a deep breath. I swear, you won't get a call every day informing you that your child has run out of the classroom screaming "Mooooommy!" Even if you get this call just once, like I did, it will make you feel like a bad parent for not adequately preparing your offspring for the rigors of school. Don't fret: The transition to kindergarten can be tough on everyone. To get through, you may need to do some very hot yoga. Your child? She probably just needs a good midday snack. So pack good snacks.
If you ever forget to pack a snack, you will never hear the end of it. Ever.
From here on out, in this age of ├╝ber-efficient technology, your most significant communication with your child's school will probably happen in a two-pocket folder that your 5-year-old brings home each day. When there is a note for you in the folder -- a permission slip, a reminder to send in box tops, a request to man the Pick-a-Pop booth during the pumpkin fair -- fill it out right away. Touch paper only once.
Keep in mind that some kids will start kindergarten not knowing how to read a single word while others will be reading chapter books. Kids typically level out in second grade, so stop Googling "reading tutors." Seriously. Step away from the computer. Now.
Assume that everything you say or do at home may be repeated to the kindergarten teacher. If not spoken, it can most definitely be drawn, and when the teacher offers to help write a caption for the picture, your child may say, "Mommy's Wine With Olives."
Whether or not you work outside the home, do not feel guilty if you can't attend all of the many daytime events you'll be invited to, such as "The 100th Day of School Party" or "Dr. Seuss's Birthday Party" or the four-minute Halloween parade. Yes, it's special for your child when you are there. But if you're always there, it could stop seeming special. Be involved as much as you can -- it keeps you in touch with your child's activities, and it's good for you. You'll meet the other parents whom you will likely be seeing at Back-to-School night for the next 13 years. You will make friends. Good friends. So bring a batch of brownies to the next PTA meeting and be nice.
Prepare yourself. This year, your child may come home from school with a wad of tissue in her hand, and when you open it up you'll find a teeny baby tooth inside. You will realize, maybe for the first time, that your child now has a life that you will not always be a part of. And you will feel very sad about this, and also very happy, all at the same time. So do what I did: Take another deep breath, pour a "wine with olives," and whisper to yourself, over and over: "Give her wings."
All best,
Vicki Glembocki, mom of a toddler, a first-grader and a third-grader; Westmont, New Jersey

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Survive Your Kids This Summer

I love summer. Always have. Always will. It is in my veins. But a summer with children asking for something every 4 seconds? I can see how it might not be everyone's favorite time of year. All of those hours. All of those children up in your business. All of the time. Is it possible for someone to  invent a chocolate milk dispenser (with a side of a wine dispenser with an adult friendly child lock on it pretty please)? Is it possible to survive all of the "Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom, MMMOOOOMMMMs"? Is it possible that could even be (gasp) fun?

For them and for real, you too sister, it can be. Pour yourself a glass of Pinot Noir (the old fashioned way) and let me tell you my top ten tips of summer survival:

  1. Make Friends with People with Pools. You would, of course, be friends with them any way but they kick ass all the more because their backyard equals a vacation. Pay them back by bringing the good, fun snacks for all ages and needless to say, wine. Happy kids, happy mommas.
  2. BORED = CHORES. If my kids even begin to say "I'm bor-" they are put to work. It's almost like them saying a swear word in front of me. Okay, really it's worse. I have a bored chore list so they will be scrubbing some toilets if they need an activity. Boom. Win-win. For me. Try it. You will be amazed at the imagination your kids will develop to avoid that list and how much they will avoid boredom. It is a beautiful thing.
  3. Fighting = loss of technology. You fight and seriously everyone loses. It is the opposite of the boredom chores. This one makes me suffer the most. Damn it. Don't make me take that iPad away. Shit. I have to take that iPad away. For a whole week. No negotiations. I could cry just thinking about it. Losing it for a week may seem harsh. But it has worked for my little tech lovers. Find out what they love and stick your guns with this punishment. I just realized I might be kind of a hard ass. And I like it.
  4. 5 Minute Clean Up. I have just begun being more of a regulator about enforcing this one and let me tell you, if used daily it is AMAZING. Set a timer for 5 minutes, let the kids race against the clock to clean up and you sit down and drink some wine tea (unless it is after 11 a.m. than of course a mojito would be the obvious choice). Do this in the morning and at night and your house will feel less like a tornado ran through it, your kids will be more conscious of how many toys they take out and you will feel like the fucking Queen Bee, a title you have earned. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
  5. Avoid the Grocery Store. Fo Real. But how do we avoid dragging every single dragging child to the longest trip ever each and every week to pick up milk and the "necessities" and end up spending $512? Listen young grasshopper: there are two ways.
    1. Shop the farmers market. This is always a happier way to shop for food. Your kids can see what food looks like in its natural, unpackaged state and what it should taste like and support the local farmers. Our larger farmers market even sells local wine. Another sells local crabmeat. PLEASE DON'T GO AWAY IN OCTOBER. You are deeply loved farmers market, so deeply loved. So take advantage while they are here. Your money will go farther and you will help to make a difference. Your $50 isn't going to hurt Target if you don't shop there but it will greatly help those who grow the food day in and day out.
    2. For everything else (ahem, toilet paper)- take advantage of local grocery pick up. I realize this isn't in every area but in many cities and suburbs there is grocery delivery and/or pick up curbside at the store. We use Peapod by Giant and I order all the groceries online, pay for them, choose the day and time that works for us and pull up in front, like a gangster (is that how gangsters shop? Either way it is bad ass, they should), and an angel of a human being puts them into my car. MY KIDS STAY IN THE CAR, STRAPPED IN. WITH NOWHERE TO ESCAPE. This may be one of my most favorite life savers since the pharmacy drive thru. It saves time, money and sanity. Probably lives too. 
  6. Work and Workout Early. This really applies to those of us who are "off" in the summer- teachers, writers, stay at home parents, working from home parents and any other position of spending endless hours with children and would like to do more than survive it. I find my sanity level to be in a much healthier place when I still wake up early to get a little work, workout and quiet in. Then no matter what happens in the day at least you can carry on knowing you got a little time for you in. When you've made the 12th meal of the day, the laundry is reaching the ceiling, the kids are naked painting each other and I am at the brink of losing it, I remind myself to reflect on those 10 blissful minutes of peace where I was alone. Completely alone. And that is enough to remind myself to wake up early again tomorrow.
  7. Read. Let them read every day. You read at the same time, something that you actually want to. Something with chapters. Something grown up. Just make sure that they are reading what they love and this may quickly become one of your favorite parts of the day. Lay blankets outside or a reading fort inside. Unplug. It will help them be more ready for school, no workbooks required. 
  8. Embrace Being Off the Radar. This is one of my absolute favorite parts of summer. Fun is what you are supposed to be having and people are quicker to forgive when you are. Didn't respond to an e-mail? Sorry I was on vacation. Missed a meeting? Sorry, I was thinking about vacation. When people are soaking in the sun, they are less consumed with accountability. More fun and more forgiveness are abound so enjoy it, September's consuming schedule will be here before you know it.
  9. Let Go of Guilt. So the kids have ice cream for dinner and smores for dessert. Again. So your household television time of one hour a day MAXIMUM has exceeded four hours. So you missed today's reading time. So they've stayed up too late and are up too early. Let's learn from Frozen's most valuable lyrics and just let it go. Let them be kids. Let them feel the sweetness of an open summer afternoon. Let the rest just go.
  10. Embrace the Day. Feel what it feels to not be scheduled. Play. Laugh. Throw a dance party. Start a food fight. Catch fireflies. What is the point of being a parent if you can't toss rules to the wind once in awhile and show them that you know how to have a ball? They learn so much from the way you live. Remember summer, how it used to be and how you yearn for it to be. There is limitless potential between June and August.
Summer goes by fast and childhood is even shorter. Yes you are the homework enforcer, vegetable police, clean up patrol and creator of good respectful citizens. But that also means that you are the puppeteer of childhood memories. You can make them priceless. You can give your kids the tools and the freedom to soak it all in. You are the Queen Bee after all. And you've got this.

Cheers and may survival and mojitos be with us all...

This. More of this.
Simple. Beautiful. Summer.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Merci Inventors of Ombre, Merci

I want to take a moment to thank those who invented the "ombre" hairstyle. Never has letting yourself go look so on trend. I like to think it was a mother or group of mothers who invented it. I heard it originated in France. This is how I imagine the whole situation going down:

A group of mothers are drinking wine one night at "book" club. They are commenting how they would love to go to the salon, alone, or get highlights or lowlights or something that looks like a hair style but they know the realization is that ain't nobody got time for that. Not yet. Not where they are in life.

When one momma, knee deep in Pinot Grigio, has a true eureka moment:
"Why don't we convince people that not going to the salon is stylish? Let's make people think that letting your highlights grow out 6 months past when you had a hair appointment to get them redone but little Jimmy got the stomach bug and now it is just not going to happen. That- that is the look that people should want to go for."
And another momma says with sheer joy, "Brilliant! All we need is one reality show star to get on board with it. It would help if we got a Kardashian. And the name. It just needs a good name."
One momma did a semester abroad in France 15 years ago but still obsesses about that time maybe a little too often, bursts out, "OMBRE! It means shadow en francais. Let's tell people that it started in Paris by models and they'll instantly be intrigued."
First drunk mom: "I'm pinning pictures of our hair right now to my ombre board."

They toasted their comedic genius and their already on trend grown out highlight hairstyle and the vision of ombre, thinking it would never get any further than this wine induced living room.

And here is what followed:

All it takes is one Kardashian with a Twitter account. 
And then:

Remember when roots were a faux pas?
Thank you American French book club mommas models...

Apparently not even brushing your hair is considered pin-worthy. Sweet.

My favorite part of this box is that it says "Wild Ombres".
Moms with grown out highlights are now considered bad ass rebels.

So thank you to the originators of ombre. Merci beaucoup. Let this trend last until I can get my wild, rebellious head of hair to a salon. 


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

My Kids are Hoarders

I'm not proud of my life at this moment.

The thing with hoarding is that you think you will realize it when it happens to you. Or your kids. That your life will be all like "Whoa there sister. You've got a problem." But the catch is that it's this weird gradual build up of RANDOM SHIT and you don't really have an "oh sweet baby there is so much ridiculousness taking over your room" until you there is some strange crazy odor that you don't even know what it is or where it is coming from. That is when you realize you're raising a hoarder. And it will frighten the hell out of you. Especially when you realize you really only have two options:

1. Burn the house down.
2. Clean out EVERYTHING.

Option 1 seems like the favorable one I know. But the aftermath of that clean-up seems like even more work than the pain of number 2 so I guess that is the option I am currently procrastinating.

Last night began operation clear out/hoarder no more/maybe one soon day my kids will have floors with a path by cleaning out under the girls bunk beds which is unfortunate because it hadn't been done,  well... ever and also a bummer because it was going to be one of the "fun" summer projects that I had planned. Okay it was the only summer project I had planned. Looks like cleaning the floors with a toothbrush just entered the itinerary! Happy June kids.

I'm not really sure that this counts as a real blog post. I just really needed to vent. And procrastinate. If you don't hear from me in a few days, I may actually be buried alive. Please swing by, preferably in a hazmat suit. With a professional carpet cleaner. Most preferably with a lot of wine.

May clean inspiration be with us all...

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Lies of Lyme

So this is my experience with Lyme (disclaimer: I am not a doctor or any type of expert and I am not trying to be a downer on the Friday on Memorial Day weekend so please consider this more of a public service announcement to save you a trip to Google): 

Both Niko (2 years ago) and now Sophia have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. I feel there are some myths and lies about it so I wanted to let you know from first hand experience what to look for and what to let go of guilt about. Like hourly full body cavity searches. 

Lie #1: Look for a deer tick.

I never found a tick on either one. This has made me feel like THE WORST MOMMA EVER. Because you read these things about the tick needs to hang out on you for 36-48 hours or something insanely ridiculous that you think you would notice but the little bastard tick can be a small as a poppy seed and well I've gone a day not realizing that the milk was sitting out on the table (maybe 2) so I think we need to let go of the guilt of not noticing something so freaking small especially when it is on a clothed child with an endless number of hiding spaces. 

Lie #2: Look for a bulls eye marking.

I only found a bulls eye on Niko, never on Sophia. And the bulls eye can fade. So if you see one take a picture to show your doctor. Niko's was gone within 12 hours. I think I even noticed his because my boys tend to be naked more often then my girls. Bulls eye markings don't even always appear. Guilt lifted. 

Lie #3: The blood test will reveal a positive result.

I just read that up to 50% of of the patients tested for Lyme disease receive false negative results. 50%. Tell your doctor your symptoms and/or your child's symptoms. Fight to be their best advocate. Catching early is key to preventing long term effects (Google that at your own risk; too much information isn't always a good thing; just go to the doctor early and speak up for treatment love). 


Flu-like symptoms, high fevers, headaches, fatigue. And the big one for us was that both of them complained of joint pain in their knees. That was the big sign. Not just my knee hurts. It was an internal, my knees can't bend they are in so much pain to the point of tears and requests to be carried because it was so difficult for them to walk. Lyme can look like a variety of other illnesses and viruses- it is a great imitator so if you or child has any of the above symptoms, please please get checked out. 

Sophia is getting better and has bursts of being her energetic full of fire self but it can go in waves where she just crashes and needs to lay down, especially late in the day. Niko two years after treatment is our fastest runner in the crew. He can play sports all day and night and rarely seems to ever get fatigued. I feel he shows what early treatment can accomplish. 

I don't put long pants and long sleeves on my kids to play outside in the summer like most things you read say to do. That's just mean. I think that would be letting fear win. I want them to love nature and live to not be afraid of it. It is a balance of knowing the risks and rewards.  It is a wild world we live in but it is one worth living out loud in. Just give them a little once over at night (remember that there's a difference between checking them and obsessing over them). You should show them that summer is happy too and embrace it. How many carefree childhood summers does one truly get in life? 

Be barefoot. Run through sprinklers. Climb trees. Roast marshmallows. Drink out of the hose. Throw on a some sunscreen and some insect repellent and let your kids be kids. 

Happy summer everyone...


And if you want to read more about Lyme- here is one of the best articles I have found-  Top Ten Tips to Prevent Chronic Lyme Disease. Cheers. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Let's Spray Paint the Hell Out of a Doormat

I'd have to say that there is a third type of woman: a goddess who likes to spray paint doormats. This girl likes to spray paint everything so why should a doormat be left out? This is a crazy easy project for a doormat that is need of some love and can be completely customized however you fancy.

The Players:

-Ugly, neglected doormat in need of some character
-One can of all purpose/surface spray paint in the color of your choice
-One can of matte clear all surface spray paint
-One wooden letter of your choice (or you could use a few letters- why not? Go wild with it); I found the "M" I used at Michaels but I have also seen some smaller ones at Paper Source; Etsy is also a great source for some beautiful ones

The Game:

This is so easy, I'm pretty sure actual words need not be typed to get the idea across but I've recently cleaned up a lot of vomit (not mine; those little angel children again) off of our couch and I think that it is important that I find some wit inside of me again.

Oh honey. You either need to be cleaned or get a facelift. Facelift it is.

What's happy about this font of "M" is that it also looks like the University of Maryland's "M" and that is my husband's alma mater. Win-win baby. Seriously Terps, could you get some more wins next season please? We have your M as the entrance to our home for heavens sake.

You can lay out tape in any fun way. I kept it basic because this was our first attempt and I had those small fingers assisting me. I was also out of painters tape but masking works in a pinch.

Go bat shit crazy with spray paint.
This is my brand of preference. Bonus that it is red for those Terps. And red is my favorite color.
It makes me feel like a goddess while cleaning up bodily fluids.

I used two coats of red and once it was completely dry I topped it off with clear spray paint to protect it. Here is the final product, slightly worn in and imperfect but that is really what makes a home a home anyway...

Welcome to our home of color and M's. Please have some wine.
And the painted M also looks happy hanging on a door.
M for Master of Spray Paint. Or Moore. Whichever. And M upside down is of course W for Wine. Together we have Moore Wine.
And what a fabulous reminder of all things important when we head out the door.

Until the next project or tangent...
Cheers to you-