But Did You Die?

Ah, parental advice. We’ve given it, we’ve received it, we’ve fucked it right up on both ends.

Am I right?

I have been distinctly far less prolific on my blog over the last few months than I had hoped to be. And so, when my friend and self-publishing queen Jen Mann sent out a call for essays to include in her new anthology, I made it my mission to get my act together and produce a clearly uncrappy piece of writing for her on the topic of parental advice.

After all, I have given some truly bad advice. There were so many ways I could ridicule my own parenting mis-steps and properly chronicle them for my kids to have in print always and forever.

And then it hit me.

Why would I do that when I could instead throw my own mother under the bus?

OK, that wasn’t my exact thought.

I love my mom. She has been very good to me and has given me some very solid, lifelong advice. But I’d be lying if I said that one particular gem of wisdom didn’t continue to resurface as a family joke on a semi-regular basis. It’s the kind of thing that has taken on a life of its own over the years.

And since it was on topic for the new book, I went for it.

I typed it up, revised and re-edited it several times. I took some creative license (but not much) for dramatic effect. Once pleased with the final product — on the day of the submission deadline — I sent it to my mom with a quick message along the lines of “Please don’t  hate me but this is mostly true and by the way it’s not just for my blog but going in a book if Jen accepts it and I have like 12 minutes left before the deadline so please let me know if it’s no OK with you but honestly I might have to submit it anyway OK thanks love you talk to you later.”

Thankfully, she called me five minutes later and was laughing. She loved it and found, interestingly, that I didn’t even have to exaggerate the story very much.

And so goes the tale of how I embarrassed my mom in a book and she loves me anyway. Isn’t she a good sport?

So, what was this legendary, book-worthy advice she gave me? One hint: It has to do with the one place in New York City where she forbade my sisters and I to ever go, under any circumstances. To this day, the fear of this place remains with us.

Want to know more? There’s only one way to find out, my friends.


But Did You Die? is officially on sale today, and is the fifth in the NY Times best selling series, I Just Want to Pee Alone. I’m incredibly grateful to be included yet again with the fabulously funny writers who appear in this new anthology.

Here’s where you can buy this exceptional Father’s Day present, or your beach reading to make you feel like less of a parental failure:

Amazon paperback




Google Play

And because my mom cares about all of you, too, make sure you read and heed her advice before your next trip to Manhattan.


Did you like this? Share it:

Life with a Rising Food Network Star

We’re going to have a meal-time quiz. Please have a look at these statements.

  • “The sear on this meat is great and I’m impressed that the inside is also so tender.”
  • “Your cake is moist and flavorful, but I think you could’ve done more with the presentation.”
  • “How long did you let this marinade for?”
  • “Don’t you want to use the other whisk?”
  • “The egg whites in the carton don’t whip as well as the ones we separate ourselves.”

Now, tell me if you think they are from:

A) Food Network shows

B) My six year-old daughter

C) Both A & B

If you answered C, you are correct.

Welcome to my life with a 45-pound Food Network addict.

I’d like to thank the recent surge in kids’ cooking competitions for fueling my eye-of-the-tiger daughter with the drive to perfect her craft. And to critique her mother every step of the way.

It started last year, very innocently, with her newfound love of baking. We kept it easy — cakes, muffins, cookies and cupcakes from boxed mixes and icing from cans. She enjoyed helping me mix and decorate. Life was simple then.

I bought her a little baking cookbook for her birthday last summer, and that’s when her focus became a little more intense. She would dog-ear the pages of the recipes she aspired to make with me and discuss at length how I needed to adjust my grocery list to accommodate her plans.

And then the Kids’ Baking Championship came along on the Food Network, and her mind was blown. Frankly, so was mine. How the hell do these kids know how to come up with these creative baking solutions on the spot and impress Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman (both of whom, incidentally, now rank at near-Santa celebrity status in my daughter’s eyes)?

In her weekly trips to the school library, she blew off Fancy Nancy in favor of borrowing baking cookbooks. We practiced reading at night by using words like non-stick, vanilla and Bundt.

My DVR quickly filled up with every episode of Kids’ Baking Championship. She watched them repeatedly, to the point where her two-year-old brother would throw his arms up in despair and exasperation because — and I quote — “she’s watching the macaroons again.”

The baking lists became longer.




While her favorite show went on seasonal hiatus, she discovered Chopped Junior. I was relieved to get a change of scenery on the TV and was also pleasantly surprised that she was branching out beyond baked goods. For a while.

She cooked breakfast for us (because who doesn’t prep eggs in a tankini?).


And, with adult assistance, some dinner as well.


And (bonus points!) my birthday cake.


This was really turning out nicely — a mother/daughter bonding experience in the kitchen, where I could pass along life lessons or share the divine recipes of my grandmother with her.

OR, it could go another way. Instead of memorable bonding, my daughter could instead begin judging my culinary techniques and output, asking if perhaps the pork was a touch overdone or if I planned to season the broccoli with anything else, or if maybe our station was too messy — all while pretending to be on live television as she narrates every move on our countertop.

I think she is actually starting to believe she is being filmed by a hidden production crew that magically fits in my house. She even allows her older brother to be a guest judge sometimes.

Once our actual food prep is complete and she re-hashes how I can do a better job in the future, we generally move on to pretend role play in the form of re-enacting the cooking and baking shows. In these games, she chooses a contestant from a beloved episode (invariably, a girl who wore pink or purple) and then recites their food preparation notes back to the pretend judge (me). She marches out to the elimination round with her hands behind her back, just like the Food Network standards, and awaits her pretend fate. She feigns shock every time when she prods me to declare her the winner.

Is it Oscar season yet?

The other component that has become very important in recent weeks is practicing her introduction for any potential appearance on these shows. You know, the way you get acquainted with a contestant in the opening minutes through a brief and peppy bio. She first likes to work on her entrance into the competitive TV studio kitchen (often a hybrid of the I-can’t-believe-I’m-here and I’m-confident-as-hell approaches, both tried and true), as well as the facts she’d choose to present about herself to her adoring audience. (Which gymnastics move should she do in the footage? Does she have to mention her older brother by name?).

Her toddler brother, ever the apprentice in this process, has been instructed to perfect his entrance and not run so quickly past the judges. To date, he hasn’t been great about absorbing and incorporating constructive feedback. She’s working on him. He is the sous chef to her cooking championship dreams, following her around and asking with sincere curiosity who got chopped at the end of the episode.

“Becky? Becky got chopped?” he demands.

“Yes,” she confirms, her eyes cast downward in clear disappointment. “She did not have one of the basket ingredients on her final plate.”

“OH,” he says, “Can we put on Paw Patrol now?”

And so it goes. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all in the test kitchen.

And, hey, thanks Food Network, for your latest installment into overachieving children with flames: Kids’ Barbecue Championship. You just made my summer grilling far more complicated.

In the meantime, I have to go check my seasonings and straighten up my station before the head chef gets home.



Did you like this? Share it:

The Road to Perfection Fell Off My Map

Failed perfectionists, unite! I have your summer beach reading right here!

Oh, wait. Unless your kids are coming to the beach with you. Because then you’ll be too busy chasing them down to slather on sunscreen, fielding their snack requests, and hauling 68.8492 metric tons of provisions with you for a wholly enjoyable seaside afternoon that feels like the opposite of a vacation situation.

So, maybe forget the beach reading idea and save the book for the 12 minutes of consciousness you have on the couch each night after the kids go to bed. That way, you can extend your reading pleasure for months.

Lately, my kids have been making more and more comments about me not having a job. I find it ironic, if not wholly insulting, that I am usually buried under twelve laundry piles while simultaneously changing a diaper and calling out spelling words for tomorrow’s quiz as I defend my full-time occupation. And so I tried to explain that, in addition to my all-consuming domestic gig, my sometimes-job is to write.

This makes them tilt their heads, fully unaware of this blog’s existence that has documented some of their best and worst moments. And mine {which are mostly driven by them}.

In my daydreams, my sometimes-job as a writer gets upgraded to full-time status with a magical salary, a cult-like following and an unbelievably slimming gown for me to wear on the Oscar red carpet to watch the screen adaptation of my acclaimed novel(s) sweep the awards season circuit. I’m thinking perhaps something in a rich midnight blue or even the navy palate, but we’ll have to see what’s trending that year.

But back under my laundry pile, this sometimes-writer has been incredibly lucky to be included in some fantastic anthologies with groups of very funny and talented women. Each time I’m selected to be in another book, I’m both completely incredulous and extremely grateful.

Today, there’s a new one out. How great is that?



Yep — it’s the latest installment in the I Just Want to Pee Alone (the New York Times Best Seller — which, come on, of course I’m going to slip in anywhere I can in perpetuity) series!

What’s that you say? You, too, have tried and failed numerous times as a mom to do too much, to overachieve, make it all work? Yeah, so have we, and we’re here to tell you how badly we fucked it up.

And by we, I mean this fine list of writers:

Jen Mann – People I Want to Punch in the Throat / I Just Want to Pee Alone

Bethany Kriger Thies – Bad Parenting Moments

Deva Nicole Dalporto – MyLifeSuckers

Julianna Wesby Miner – Rants From Mommyland

LOLA LOLITA  – SammichesPsychMeds / MockMom

Kim Bongiorno – Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig – The Shitastrophy

Kathryn Leehane – Foxy Wine Pocket

Harmony Hobbs – Modern Mommy Madness

Erin Dwyer Dymowski – Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Tara Wood – Love Morning Wood

Kelcey Kintner – The Mama Bird Diaries

Lisa René LeClair – Sassypiehole

Joelle Wisler – Joelle Wisler, Writer

Christine McDevitt Burke – Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Meredith Spidel – The Mom of the Year

Meredith Gordon – Bad Sandy

Nicole Leigh Shaw – NicoleLeighShaw.com

Allison Hart – Motherhood, WTF?

Jennifer Lizza – Outsmarted Mommy

Suzanne Fleet – Toulouse and Tonic

AK Turner – Vagabonding with Kids

Robyn Welling – Hollow Tree Ventures

Ashley Fuchs – The Malleable Mom

Kim Forde – The Fordeville Diaries

E.R. Catalano – Zoe vs. the Universe

Chrissy Woj – Quirky Chrissy

Stacey Gill – One Funny Motha

Wendi Aarons – wendiaarons.com

Jen Simon – jensimonwriter.com

Janel Mills – 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.

Jessica Azar – Herd Management

Susanne Kerns –The Dusty Parachute

Audrey Hayworth – Sass Mouth

Hedia Anvar – Gunmetal Geisha

Christine Organ – christineorgan.com

Shya Gibbons – ShyaGibbons


That’s a lot of fantastic imperfection, right? As in, you just got the urge to curl up with a good book over the holiday weekend and let the kids watch a movie in another room/floor/universe so that you enjoy the failure of others in silence?

I know how you feel.

Well, don’t let me stop you.

For the Amazon/Kindle/I-must-have-it-ASAP Prime set, here you go.

Barnes and Noblers/Nook folks, please find us here.


I hope you’ll pick up/download a copy. And I hope you’ll remember that there’s a profound joy in knowing that someone else screwed up worse than you did.

We can prove it.

Did you like this? Share it:

Coach Taylor Ruined My New Year’s Resolutions

Is the New Year’s resolution window closed yet? Because, on that topic, I have good news and bad news.

Good news: I have resolutions. I gave them a lot of thought and I mean(t) business.

Bad news: I’m getting derailed.

More good news: I have someone to blame.

Coach Taylor.

Yeah, him. Of the Dillon, Texas Panthers. Of my current Friday Night Lights Netflix bender.

It’s no secret that I’m constantly behind when it comes to the shows that everyone is watching. The singular exception is Lost, which I watched in real time, but I can’t talk about it right now because I’m still sad that it’s over and, frankly, my brain still hurts like hell from trying to process the last season.

But let’s have a look at what I’ve missed in recent years:

  • 24
  • Game of Thrones
  • Homeland (yes, really)
  • Mad Men
  • Parenthood
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Downton Abbey
  • Orange is the New Black
  • House of Cards
  • The Walking Dead

Sad but true. Can we still be friends? Just spare me your lectures about what I’m missing – I’ve heard them all. I may not be able to talk about any of these shows, but don’t think I haven’t noticed that there hasn’t been a new Paw Patrol episode in months. I do wonder why the guys at Nick Jr. are holding out. Even my two year-old is all eyeroll-y with the repeats and relentless character merchandising.

Moving on.

Speaking of the two year-old, when he was an infant and never, ever, ever slept, I ended up using those crazy middle-of-the-night-hours-long feeding sessions as my first binge watching bender. I got sucked into Walter White’s world of Breaking Bad, and my poor child will probably end up on a therapy couch someday with fleeting memories of his infancy spent in front of TV meth labs and Jesse Pinkman.

It was a great time.

And when it was over, I took about a two-year break from Netflix. Said hiatus recently came to a distinct halt toward the end of Christmas break, when my husband and I decided to give Friday Night Lights a try. You know, just an episode or two.

Or three or four. Per night.

Which brings me to the swift demise of my New Year’s resolutions. Let’s have a look.

Go to bed earlier. I told myself that 2016 would be the year when I would stop staying up so late. I would get six to seven hours of sleep each night, not five or less. But now what the hell can I do? Tim Riggins has been drinking again and Buddy Garrity got punched out by his mistress and don’t even get me started on Landry and Tyra. I need to know. Clear eyes, full heart, can’t sleep (current time: 12:46am).

Stress less. I was going to stop sweating the small stuff this year. It was time to stop getting myself all worked up. But Coach Taylor and his wife have really given me a good look at the special fun of raising a combative teenage daughter. And really, their 16 year-old has solidified, like a cold and hard cement, every single fear I have about that entire stretch of parenting that will greet me in the next ten years. Also, where is Smash going to play college ball? My blood pressure can’t deal.

Blog more. No more stretches of weeks at a time without writing. 2016 will be a downright prolific year, I said. More focus and energy on doing what I really love. But, shit, it’s so hard to type while I’m watching this show. I just had to rewind that last conversation between Riggins and Street like three times. I can’t afford to lose momentum like this, or I’ll only get in two episodes a night.

Put down the phone. I can’t say I was going to surrender my iPhone and cancel my social media accounts, but I had made a mental commitment to tone it all down. Well, you know how a show is better when you can chat about it with someone? I mean, my husband is watching it with me, but all he really wants to know is where Minka Kelly has been all of his life. I had to go straight to my friend Melody, who is also watching FNL (albeit a few seasons ahead of me) and is responsible for talking me into this life of high school football insanity. The price she must pay for bringing me into the Dillon vacuum is to text with me about the pressing questions on this show (Why do they all have perfect teeth? Do the Panthers ever go into halftime in a winning position? Why didn’t my high school have pep rallies like this?). So much for my light phone usage.


Friday Night Lights


It’s funny when I get reactions from people about the show. You know, people who didn’t have to use a Flux Capacitor to time travel and watch it, but who were cool enough circa 2006 to get on board. They get nostalgic and wistful for those times. I can’t tell if they’re happy for me, or jealous, or maybe both.

“You’re only on season two? Ohmygod, you have so much in front of you. Cherish every moment. Once it’s over, it’s over.”

“I couldn’t say goodbye to those kids. I couldn’t. I wish I could start it over again.”




Yes, I’m only on season two and I have already been emotionally put through the damn wringer. When my husband called yesterday afternoon and said he had a last-minute work dinner, I should have thought about several things – like why I bothered to cook or who was going to take the dog out in the freezing cold. But, no. My absolute first/only/urgent thought was that I had to get the Netflix account info from him so I could set it up  on my phone and not just on his. Because who wants to be left in this state of vulnerability? No woman should be that dependent on a man.

Then he launched into the whole debate about me getting an episode or 62 ahead of him. But I’m stuck home with three kids and he’s having beers and steak in the city. The unspoken truth (unless you’re me, in which case the unspoken part doesn’t count) is that I win.

Marriage is complicated.

But so is high school football in Texas.

Did you like this? Share it:

Coming Soon: I Still Just Want to Pee Alone

I wish I had more time to write. With each crashing item my toddler throws to the ground or Code Red bodily harm situation he puts himself in around the house, I have less and less time on my hands. My blog feels a little dusty (was that a tumbleweed I just saw fly by on the screen?) but sometimes real life needs me more than usual.

However, there are some projects for which I will always make time. For which I will brush off even my most pressing DVR programming after the kids go to bed in order to contribute. When Jen Mann (People I Want to Punch in the Throat) knocks on your door (well, on your email) and asks you to write for her latest anthology, no amount of rose ceremonies or Us Weekly is going to get in my way. Because I’m committed, damn it. Or should be committed, probably.

I was thrilled to be included in Jen’s first two anthologies, I Just Want to Pee Alone and I Just Want to Be Alone. Fun fact: IJWTPA has spent nearly two years as a national best-seller on Amazon. Apparently, moms everywhere can’t pee alone. So, on March 27, there will be more!





I’m excited to be included with all of these fabulous writers. Here’s a peek at who you can find in the book:


Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Bethany Kriger Thies of Bad Parenting Moments

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig of The Shitastrophy

JD Bailey of Honest Mom

Kathryn Leehane of Foxy Wine Pocket

Suzanne Fleet of Toulouse and Tonic

Nicole Leigh Shaw of Nicole Leigh Shaw, Tyop Aretist

Meredith Spidel of The Mom of the Year

Rebecca Gallagher of Frugalista Blog

Rita Templeton of Fighting off Frumpy

Darcy Perdu of So Then Stories

Christine Burke of Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Amy Flory of Funny Is Family

Robyn Welling of Hollow Tree Ventures

Sarah del Rio of est. 1975

Amanda Mushro of Questionable Choices in Parenting

Jennifer Hicks of Real Life Parenting

Courtney Fitzgerald of Our Small Moments

Lola Lolita of Sammiches and Psych Meds

Victoria Fedden of Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds

Keesha Beckford of Mom’s New Stage

Stacia Ellermeier of Dried-on Milk

Ashley Allen of Big Top Family

Meredith Bland of Pile of Babies

Harmony Hobbs of Modern Mommy Madness

Janel Mills of 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of

Kim Forde of The Fordeville Diaries

Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha

Beth Caldwell of The Cult of Perfect Motherhood

Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus

Michelle Back of Mommy Back Talk

Tracy Sano of Tracy on the Rocks

Linda Roy of elleroy was here

Michelle Poston Combs of Rubber Shoes In Hell

Susan Lee Maccarelli of Pecked To Death By Chickens

Vicki Lesage of Life, Love, and Sarcasm in Paris

Kris Amels of Why, Mommy?

Mackenzie Cheeseman of Is there cheese in it?

Tracy DeBlois of Orange & Silver


Great company to keep, right? If my literary legacy is one with toilets on the cover, I’m happy to be there with these ladies.

And now you’ll have the perfect Mother’s Day gift for all the other women you know who just can’t pee alone.



Did you like this? Share it:

So, You’re Considering the Corn Maze

You love fall, right? The crisp air. The produce. Boots. Jeans. All of it.

I do too.

And that’s precisely how people like us end up in corn mazes.

It starts with the innocent trip to the apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Because parental amnesia is a real thing and you fail to remember every year how annoying those outings are in actuality.

Anyway, there you are with baskets of more gourds or apples than you can possibly Pinterest into edible items in four lifetimes. You are thinking about the $100 you will have to pay upon check out and you are cursing about the fact that this place does not have an on-site winery. It is then that your children remind you, just as you think you’re about to pluck the last piece of hay from your sweater, that we haven’t done the corn maze yet.

Oh. Riiiiight. The corn maze.

How bad could it be? After all, I was trapped in one with my in-laws three years ago and lived to tell. So hey, why not? Let’s take a few minutes to go in.

Although, as we approached, this one seemed a little more legit than our previous corn mazes. Super tall stalks of corn. No obvious exit. And a 14 year-old employee working the entrance who snorted, “Good luck” to us.

Well, no matter. I immediately thought of how fortunate we are that my husband has a great sense of direction. This, unfortunately, was immediately followed by my deep regret of leaving him home with the baby on this particular day. He was tasked with painting the baby’s room. Not that the kid, at 15 months old, would get an identity crisis from the purple walls, floral decals and frilly chandelier. But sleeping under his sister’s initials was potentially going to send him into therapy in 20ish years. The room overhaul was a tad overdue.

So, as my husband either painted or ate all of the Entenmann’s in the house while watching football, it was my mom, my two older kids and me to fend for ourselves at the corn maze. Basically, three generations of the directionally challenged. The snarky 14 year-old employee handed us what was probably meant to be a map but looked more like a Spirograph on steroids.


I’m pretty sure that entire crops matured and seasons changed during our time in this corn maze. Let me just end the suspense for you and disclose that it took 26 minutes on the clock, but a lifetime in my head. Here are some highlights of our journey.

Minute 1: I love a good fall photo opp. Which filter should I use on Instagram?

Life was simpler then.

Minute 3: Oh, maybe that map thing was for real and served some functionality. Because, holy shit, this is no joke. I hope nobody has to pee.

Minute 6: Isn’t this supposed to be a family-friendly farm experience? Or are we earning a scouting badge of some kind? Is this the farming equivalent of “Get off my lawn,” or perhaps a secret “Survivor” audition?

Minute 10: Time and space seem to be playing tricks with my mind. I feel like we’ve been in here for dayyyyys. I’m questioning my ability to guide everyone through this, in the event we have to spend the night in the corn. I mean, clearly, food won’t be a problem but what about the horror movie factor? Because I don’t think I need to name a certain obvious movie that comes to mind and the fact that I’m waiting to see Malachai at every corner of this maze.

Minute 12: Why do I never wear sensible shoes? Why? And where is everyone else?

Minute 13: Wait! This is why God invented the iPhone! All hail technology!

It appears I should have purchased the iPhone 6 for this outing because my 5 won’t display the layout of a fucking corn maze on Google Maps. At this point, my mother suggests the use of the compass. This helps establish when we are heading west, which is the direction from which we are guessing the music and other sounds of post-corn maze life are emanating. I’m no math genius, but I think there is a 25% chance we are right.

Minute 14: Omg, is that Malachai? Damn you, Stephen King.

Minute 17: Why didn’t I purchase the apple donuts before entering the corn maze? Speaking of donut consumption, I wonder if my husband has started painting yet. I think we all know the answer.

Minute 18: Like any family in crisis, we all begin to turn on each other. First, the sibling bickering escalates (“No, you made the last wrong turn. No, YOU did”). I threaten to withhold all apple donuts, foreverrrrrr, if they don’t stop. Then, I decide to blame my mother for passing on the lack of direction gene. Not in a broader life’s meaning sense, just with maps and such.

Minute 21: An integral turning point. A lovely young couple with a sleeping baby happens upon us. They inform us that, despite our best Apple-led efforts to head west, that’s not going to work. They are holding the Spirograph on steroids map and, more importantly, they seem to be deriving information from it. Bonus. We swallow all remaining pride (aka none) and shamelessly follow them. Until I realize that they could be serial killers and we’ve totally walked right into their evil trap. It’s possible that I’ve been watching too much late-night TV.

Minute 21:30: I follow them anyway, because: desperation.

Minute 23: The maybe-serial-killers with a baby have not revealed their evil plot. Yet. I distract myself from this possibility by imagining, if I survive, all of the Pinterest recipes I will comb through with my plentiful new apple bounty. I decide that I’ll bring a delicious apple crisp to this couple if they spare our lives and get us out of the maze before sunset.

Minute 25: I don’t want to appear melodramatic but we are losing steam. Our morale is down and our can-do attitude is gone. We just want to go back to life as we knew it, BCM (Before Corn Maze).

Minute 26: What is that sound? A bell? Ringing? Why, yes, it is. But what does it mean? The serial killers with the baby lead us to it. Oh, shit, shit, shit. It’s Malachai, isn’t it? This is it. Is he ringing it to signal the end is nigh? No. It’s not him! It’s the We-Found-The-Exit Bell! We are free! I am tempted to kiss the ground but decide to beeline for the homemade donut stand instead. I resist the urge to kick dirt up at the 14 year-old employee as we pass him.

The day is done. We have prevailed. While I hold my debit card with two apple donuts in my mouth and wait quietly to pay my $100 charge for six freshly-picked apples, I look around. I notice how beautiful the farm is. I do love the fall, after all.

I gaze over in the direction of the maze and notice the sun is beginning to set over the land. It is idyllic.

I just hope nobody is still in there.




Did you like this? Share it:

So This is What It’s Like to Be Early

How’s your summer going?

I hope it’s fun-filled, sun-kissed and wine-laden.

Here in New Jersey, we still have six weeks left, which is great-ish. Most days. This notation on time is particularly important when I tell you about what happened in Target last week.

It was a first.

No, I did not leave with a bill under $200. But, perhaps more improbably, I was there for this.

Is it a unicorn sighting? Almost.

Stand back and behold, folks: A fully stocked Target back to school section. That’s right — I encountered a wide variety of notebooks, folders, writing instruments and the like. No more of this bare shelves over Labor Day weekend bullshit. Finally, a year when I didn’t have to send my son off to school with a single used pencil and a reassuring pat of “Godspeed.”

Oh yes, I was six weeks EARLY and I had choices aplenty of all things Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty and Star Wars. No more aggressive elbowing to get that last pencil sharpener. Hell, I even bought a variety pack of protractors, even though my oldest is only entering second grade and not yet showing signs of re-enacting Good Will Hunting. But I purchased them anyway. Because. I. Was. There. First.

Victory was miiiiiine.

{OK, so maybe I was in Target to return a few items and browse for kids’ sandals. And maybe I took a wrong turn and maybe I accidentally stumbled upon the school supplies section. But whatever. Because I am fucking swimming in Crayola merchandise and 24-packs of pencils. Pre-sharpened like a boss.}

Anyway, this episode makes me think that maybe I am more on the ball than I give myself credit for. Maybe my level of parental preparedness is not in the abysmal category. Nah. Because then I arrived home to a few emails about fall registration for kids’ activities and my brain almost exploded.

Baby steps.

But now that I am in possession of a coveted Skylanders spiral notebook surplus that I may or may not re-sell at a premium on eBay on or around August 30, it freed up more of my time to think about how else I can rock this summer parenting gig. And since I have more pencil cases and dry erase markers than you do, allow me to share some of the working titles I have in mind for my how-to book series.

  • Pool Essentials for Young Kids: The Only 2,361 Items You’ll Ever Need
  • Your Complete Panera Dinner Guide
  • White Wine By the Case: Because Buying in Bulk is Responsible
  • The 7,000 Calorie Burn: Wrestling A 1 Year-Old Out of a Wet Bathing Suit in the Direct Sun (with companion DVD)
  • The Water Park is Closed and Other Lies I Told
  • I Carried a Watermelon

But why stop there? Clearly I have some time on my hands now that I’m not stressed about binders and colored pencils (64 pack here, ahem). Perhaps Children’s Literature is more my calling.

  • Changing it Up: How to Ask for a Different Snack Every Six Minutes
  • I’m Boooooooooooored, and Other Ways to Get a Lift to the Fro Yo Place
  • The Art of Debate (One Child’s Journey from “No”)
  • 872 Fun Places to Hide Your Overdue Library Books
  • Let’s Get Up With the Sun! 
  • The Beginner’s Guide to Dodging Sunscreen Applications (also available as a picture book)
Sure, it will take me a while to finish these up, but I feel good knowing I can be of some help to parents and kids alike in getting through the summer. I mean, we’re all in this together, right? In that spirit, feel free to contact me for an early bird special on my school supplies stockpile.
In the meantime, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get to the Target back-to-school section first. You can easily redeem yourself when they set up the Halloween display in early August.




Did you like this? Share it:

Evening News: Winter Break Edition

Thank you for joining this special edition of the evening news. Tonight we take a look back at Winter Break 2013/14 through the eyes of one family.

  • I loved the break! It lasted so, so, soooo long! My favorite part was the extra screen time my mom gave us, especially when everyone was throwing up.” — Child, age 4
  • “Can I go back to work now? Maybe taking seven vacation days was really going overboard. And what is that crusty substance on the floor of the minivan?” — Husband/Father
  • “***(^&&^%&^%$$^%&” — Infant, age 6 months {Translation: “They tried to sleep train me but I prevailed. I own these people, especially overnight. And what’s with all the vomiting?”}
  • “What? Who? Where? Did someone puke again? Is the break over yet?” — Wife/Mother

But first, we start our coverage with some breaking news.

After an extensive search & rescue effort, there are now reports that a patch of carpet has finally been spotted under the pile of wreckage known as Hurricane Christmas.

Yes, folks. A mere ten-ish days after Santa left the building, unnamed sources close to the family claim there is hope to restore this area to its pre-December status as a functioning living room.

These accounts remain unconfirmed at this hour. We do know for sure that wrapping paper remnants, boxes and toys have overtaken what has been called “a shockingly unacceptable perimeter.” More on this as recycling bags and European vacuums are delivered to the sight.


In other news:

  • Moving on to the weather: Last Friday’s snow storm {sponsored by karma} produced about 8-10 inches outside. But the real story here is the shit storm that was happening in the house. Laundry accumulations outperformed even the most outrageous estimates, especially after the stomach bug took out all five family members over the holiday break. At last calculation, it appeared that the residence has accrued approximately 749 metric tons of dirty clothes, but experts warn that these figures are considered preliminary and could continue to climb.
  • In today’s health news: Christmas cookies for breakfast — just how much is too much? If you answered, “even one serving after January 1,” you might be surprised. Household members taken down by the Gastroenteritis Christmas Plague beg to differ. Says one unnamed mom, “But I had no source of calories or blood sugar regulation for 48 hours. Surely this is the fastest path to resetting my system to its normal levels. And is it wrong to alternate between yoga pants and pajamas for two and a half weeks? It is? Shut up — when does school start?”
  • Taking a look at consumer spending trends in the area, it sure has been a windfall for local liquor sales. In fact, one nearby wine store in particular reported unprecedented sales coinciding with the announcement of public schools being closed on Friday after students had reported back just one day earlier.
  • Let’s talk sports! This household is producing some major contenders who have been training 24/7 since school was released on December 20. While previously unranked beyond the domestic level, look for members of this family on the Sochi medal podium in events such as Whining & Bickering Doubles, Synchronized Distance Vomiting, Parental Speed Drinking and Decathalon Sleep Deprivation. Put your support behind Team USA!

We’re just about out of time for tonight’s special report. We hope you enjoyed this look at Winter Break.

Please join us next week for “Dear God, Is it Still January?”

Did you like this? Share it:

The Secret Post-Baby Workout

You know what I love? Seeing those highly realistic Body After Baby articles in women’s magazines. And they’re even better when they have photos, aren’t they? Because a side of self-loathing goes a long way with the six total minutes I can spend daily, on average, reading on an uninterrupted basis.

Since the baby was born in June, I haven’t had as much time to work out as in the past. Something about the sum of a newborn,  lack of sleep, two older kids and everyone needing three meals a day just wins out over exercise.

Or so I thought.

It turns out that the guilt I have been feeling about this is misplaced. Because, you guys, I have been unknowingly getting a highly effective full-body workout, courtesy of my four month-old. Right in the comfort of my home.

It’s true! Have a look at the various aspects of my regimen:

Agility: Wrestling a tiny, resistant baby into a jacket is no fucking joke. If you think I don’t break a sweat and get my heart rate up by battling his freakishly strong limbs, you’re mistaken. Calories burned: 612.

Strength Training: I have some questions about the infant car seat. Let’s start with: Why the hell can’t I lift this thing? What are they using in the manufacturing process? Is it lead? It is, right? Look, I am no stranger to these seats. My two older kids used them — I have photos as evidence. But, when, for the love of all things holy, did the infant car seat start weighing about 78 lbs? I know I’m older now, but seriously? I feel like I’m hauling around my six year-old — and possibly a spare first grader — in that seat all day. And, as a result, is that a bicep pop I see? Why, yes. Yes, I believe it is. And that’s also my back going out and the sound of a chiropractor on speed dial from the minivan.

Cardio: Forget the Stair Master. Forget the Insanity DVDs. Because you know what starts to make one feel sweaty and insane? Dragging around a mountain of laundry that mutates into its own zip code and can be seen from Google Earth. Add in two flights of steps for each load and this is a serious calorie burner. Plus, my wine fridge is located on this well-treaded path, so I may — at times — be seen increasing my workout intensity by adding a bottle of dry white to the pile. It’s all about challenging yourself.

Speed Drills: Now, here is where the “put pacifier back in baby’s mouth before he wakes up the whole house at 4am” technique is really working for me. I can assure you that you have never seen someone go from horizontal REM mode to a full-on sprint so quickly. Although, without my contact lenses and in the dark, this portion of my workout has proven to produce the highest number of sports-related injuries. Damn walls.

Flexibility: I will spare you a visual, but the lengths to which I can stretch to avoid being hit by projectile spit-up or a rogue diaper-changing urine spray is astounding. Even circus-like. Because, damnit, if I have on a clean shirt, I am not going down without a fight. I am in the safe zone before you can say Lululemon.

Core: I know that baby carriers exist for the comfort and security of the child. And yes, the hands-free component for the parent is great. But do you have any idea what type of core strength is required to accomplish various tasks with an infant dangling from your person? Oh yes, I am undoubtedly working my core to its limit while bagging a week’s worth of groceries and loading them into the car with my squirming son strapped across my torso. P90X? Please. Until they add a component where you must bathe a four year-old with a crying infant hanging off of your mid-section during the proverbial witching hour, I call bullshit. Planking is for the weak.


Not to be left out of my in-home fitness pursuits, I should also mention that my older two kids have added tremendous value to these workouts. This happens mainly in the critical areas of repetition and mental endurance, which go hand in hand. Because until you have listened to a blow-by-blow recap of a Jake & The Neverland Pirates episode five consecutive times, you just haven’t trained the part of your brain that can tune out the noise and focus. {On wine.} In this capacity, my six and four year-old are the Bela and Marta Karolyi of athletic training. They will bring you to your knees.


So, forget the magazines. Forget the Maria Kang post-baby-body controversy. For all you new moms {or new-ish moms, or not really new moms at all} out there, I hope this helps to clarify just how fit we actually can get at  home all day.

Sure, the tight, vise-like grip that my ice cream addiction has on me could be hindering me from my goals. But just a few more nights of Pacifier Retrieval Sprints should put me right back on track.



Did you like this? Share it:

Parenting, The Disney Vault Way

I spent Friday afternoon watching The Little Mermaid with my kids. I had waited a long time to share this — one of my favorite Disney movies — with them, because, until now, it has not been available to purchase on DVD in their lifetimes. Sure, we could have watched the VHS version my mom had saved from 1989, but my VCR/time machine was broken.

But now that Ariel & company were released from The Disney Vault, their emancipation made us all disproportionately happy to see them. {By “us,” I mean me, for the childhood nostalgia aspect, and my husband, for Ariel’s seashell bra and 22-inch waist aspect.}

Not familiar with The Disney Vault? This is the term that the Mouse Empire uses for its policy of putting home video releases of its films on moratorium. Each Disney film is available for purchase for a limited time, after which it is put “in the vault” and not made available in stores for several years until it is once again released. Disney claims this process is done to both control their market and to allow Disney films to be fresh for new generations of young children.

Translation: They are masters at controlling their brand and jacking up demand/pricing.

And this got me thinking about the genius of Disney marketing.

And then it got me thinking about my own marketing skills on the domestic front. Perhaps I could learn something from Disney.

Instead of just not preparing a favorite family meal, or wishing an annoying toy away, what if I added some Disney spin?


What if I started putting things in The Vault?


It would go like this:

Mom, where are the Oreos? You ran out of Oreos! Mom, Mom, Mommy, Mom, Mommmmmmmmmmmmm. MOOMMMMMMM!

You know, darn it, they’re in The Vault. They’ll be released sometime next year! I’ll let you know just before that date by sprinkling your room with pixie dust, at which point you can forfeit a year’s worth of allowance to enjoy them again for a limited time.


Or, like this:

Honey, you haven’t made homemade meat sauce in ages. Can we have some soon?

The one that takes seven hours to make? Oh, gee, did I forget to tell you that it’s in The Vault? I’ll send you an email when I have a release date available, but we could probably expedite the process if I negotiated with The Vault from, say, a remote spa weekend locale. In the meantime, how about some pasta with butter? For a small premium, you have the option of Mickey-shaped noodles.


Or, maybe even like this:

Kids, remember, this is your last week to play with the Play Doh.

Ohhhhh noooo, it’s going in The Vault? Where the Rainbow Loom lives?

That’s right! But look what we have in the meantime — this 1946 Bambi playset that just got released from The Vault!


Oh yes. I am rubbing my hands together like a bitchy Disney villain just thinking about all the things I could put in The Vault.

  • Glitter in all forms, including toys with glitter and craft supplies of glitter.
  • Any candy that is not my favorite.
  • LEGOS. All of them.
  • The Elf on the Shelf. Obviously.
  • My vaccuum.


And you know what? If I were a true student of Disney, I’d make sure to do this right. I’d send a series of increasingly annoying notes to my family over the course of six months ahead of an item’s release from The Vault. You know, to build buzz. And then, just as they start to show some mild interest by setting aside their cash, I’d give the item a sparkly new modifier in its name and increase its price. Sort of like how my kids, ever the victims of marketing, are referring to our new Little Mermaid DVD by saying, “Hey, let’s go watch Diamond Edition again!”

Hm. I could offer them:

  • Platinum Oreos
  • Never-Fucking-Happening-Again Meat Sauce
  • Sayonara, Limited Edition Play Doh


And, finally, I’d fill everyone with trepidation and gratitude over the short period of time we’re given to enjoy these released items.

“How’s that sauce, honey? You know, only three weeks until it goes back into The Vault — FOREVER…Bwahahaha!”


Obviously, my potential access to The Vault is making me giddy. Drunk with power, even {or maybe just drunk}. But I mustn’t get sidetracked — there’s a lot of prep work to do if I’m going to make this happen. Starting with the collection of 3,879,558 Legos.






Did you like this? Share it: