Saturday, February 9, 2013


Greedy. Spoiled. Ungrateful. These are the names I call myself sometimes when I start to get frustrated. Not my daily frustration over the lack of finding something that I actually want to wear in my closet, or my frustration over not being able to play an entire Wii game of Just Dance with my kids without pulling every muscle in my body.

This frustration has been constant for more than two years, and I hesitate to blog about it, for the fear that some of you may start to associate me with those names above as well. Since December 2010, we've been struggling with secondary (or third-onary, would be more appropriate) infertility. We are twice blessed, with two perfect, healthy, amazing (and totally exhausting) babies. A girl and a boy. Six and four years old. Smart, beautiful, funny...I could go on and on (as any mama could!) with lists if adjectives describing my pride and joy(s), and I can start to almost convince myself that we should stop while we're ahead, and to stop being, well, greedy.

But the thing is, I don't want to. Don't want to stop, don't want to give up my hopes of being a family of five, or my dreams of adding one more little clown to our three ring circus.

When Luca was just shy of two years old, I found out I was pregnant and we were over the moon excited...but at around seven weeks, I suffered a miscarriage a few days before Christmas. It was sad and horrible, and a dark few days, but we were able to come through to the other side with our faith, and the love and support of our family and friends. (You can read that story here...

For the next year or so, we were TTC (take a guess...anyone? Bueller? Trying To Conceive), to no avail. Believe me, and I'm sure many of you ladies and gentlemen can agree, the TRYING part isn't nearly as fun as it sounds when it involves charts and body temperatures, 24 hour windows of opportunity and digital tests. It's stressful, especially when it's not working. When you are in full Operation Baby mode, there is nothing worse than dropping $20 on a pack of Clearblue Easy and seeing those dirty little words "Not Pregnant" pop up.

Finally, my doctor suggested that I have my tubes flushed- which has a big, long fancy name that I'm not going to bore you with, but basically it's like having Roto-Rooter for your Fallopian tubes. It wasn't exactly the most pleasant experience, but I went into the hospital well armed...aka I popped four Advil and two Vicodin an hour before the procedure, and wallah!  It wasn't nearly as bad as Google made it out to be.

The best part? It was a success! A few weeks later, I finally got a BFP. We decided to keep it more hush-hush this time until we were certain that all was ok. Six week appointment went well...then the eight week ultrasound, not so much. There was an empty sac. Which basically means there was a fertilized egg, but no baby. I spent the next week crying, praying, and bargaining (I promise I'll never yell at my kids again...I promise I will go to church every week...I'll start watching more Duggars, and less Kardashians). A week later we went back to the doctor, and there on the screen, was an amazing, beautiful little heartbeat...beating at 140 bpm. The baby was still measuring smaller than he/she should have been, but my doctor was very optimistic, and so was I.

I sooooo needed that optimism. It was the first week of school, we were in the process of selling our house and moving into our new home, everything in my life was stressful during September 2012. I wanted more than anything for this to all to just. work. out.

And then, September 13th comes along. I am a total Triskaidekaphobe. If there is $13 in my wallet (highly unlikely...I usually have about 45 cents and my debit card), I will take a dollar out. My TV volume has to either be on level 12 or 14. So when I realized that I scheduled my next ultrasound on the dreaded 13th, I had a bad feeling. Unfortunately, my intuition was right...the baby's heartrate had dropped to 76 bpm, and hadn't grown since the week before. Crying on the phone on my way home,  I got rear-ended, which was actually a blessing in disguise. The culprits were a lovely older Italian couple, on their way from grocery shopping, who offered me a Fudgsicle and distracted me with stories about their dogs and their arthritis for almost two hours while we waited for the police to come and do an accident report.

Needless to say, September was not my favorite month...but again, after grieving, and focusing on the positive, life did go on, as it should. And now? Well, I wish this post was my way of announcing to the world that we were expecting baby #3... but it's not. We are still on the baby train, and as much as I try not to make it a daily focus, it is always in the back of my mind. I could tell you what cycle day I'm on, faster than what the date is (36!). I think in days, weeks and due dates. Friends of ours asked if we wanted to do the Warrior Dash this summer, and my first thought was, if I got knocked up this month, how far along would I be? Turning 35 this past December was near tragic for me...all I kept thinking was that now if when I have another baby, I will be a geriatric pregnancy. You KNOW a man made up that term...a woman would never refer to herself as a geriatric. Unless she was like, 102.

What's in store for our future? We will have to wait and see. My doctors have prescribed Progesterone, since they think I am lacking enough of it to have a healthy pregnancy. My first two healthy, uneventful pregnancies? Either miracles (as all babies are...) or perhaps something in my body's chemistry has just changed, and I need to change along with it. Either way, we are rolling with the punches and hoping that our baby dreams come true. But however this story ends, I know in my heart, that we are already blessed beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.

 Greedy? Maybe. But who wouldn't want more of this?

I do have to mention that throughout all of this baby mama drama, my family is undergoing a major baby boom. My sissy Missy had her first baby, AJ, in December, and I could just stare at him for hours...such a mushy, chubby, little ball of love! My brother, Chris, and my sister-in-law, Marlene are expecting a little man in March, and my sister Karen and her husband Keith are welcoming TWINS this May! For a few weeks, all four of us were pregnant at the same time...and when I fell out of that group, I was devastated thinking about how I would survive watching everyone's bellies grow, while mine didn't (unless I overindulged on pizza and wine...quite possible). How would I get through planning and attending three baby showers, knowing that I should be looking forward to bringing home my own new little bundle of joy as well? Honestly, I prayed. A LOT. I asked God to give me strength and to banish all bitterness or jealousy I might have been feeling...and my prayers were thankfully answered. I can truly say that I have had nothing but joy in my heart watching everyone get fat excited for their families to grow, and Aunt Jen can't wait to squeeze, snuggle, and sugar up all the new little ones and then send them back home!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Time Flies When You're Having Fun Kids

What? You guys don't hang out in
meadows, while wearing your
wedding dress and play tag with
your kids? Weird.
In two weeks, my husband and I will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I remember so clearly, being on our honeymoon in Aruba, all naive and newlywed-ish, promising each other that we would return to this beautiful island every ten, yeah. Unless we head on down to JFK, find some young, naive, newlywed couple, and smuggle ourselves onto a plane in their Samsonite, I'm pretty sure that's not happening.

Even in spite of the lack of a celebratory tropical vacation, this anniversary is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the past decade and several important truths I have learned about marriage...

1. First and foremost, always purchase a house with two bathrooms. Unfortunately, I came to this conclusion after buying a house with only one bathroom, and enduring the torture of living in a one toilet abode for the past seven years. Let's just say that this mommy may have peed on a pink Princess potty once or twice in the past few years.

2. Choose your battles. My mom always reminds me of the very wise mantra, "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Sometimes it is just better to let things go, and not fight the same war over and over again. Yes, I sometimes feel like I live with Pauly D, since my hubby has the unfortunate habit of leaving the bathroom counter and floor strewn with gel, hairspray, shaving cream, dirty gym shorts and socks, after his daily GTL routine. But is it worth the rise in my blood pressure to yell about it, like Charlie Sheen on bath salts? 97% of the time, no. Catch me on a PMS/kids crying/dogs barking/bad hair day? Then, YES, totally worth it.

3. Buy a king size bed. We started off with a full size, upgraded to a queen, and now rock a California King (which is actually longer than a regular king...comes in very handy, since both of us are just slightly taller than Gary Coleman).  The reason you need the biggest bed Raymour and Flanigan has to offer? Because chances are, it  may not just be the two of you in bed. Now, I'm not suggesting a Hugh Hefner-style swinging lifestyle...I'm talking about bed guests that weigh less than 30 pounds, and usually smell like lollipops and peanut butter. Generally, in our house, by 5 am, there is at least one little foot in my face, a dog's butt on my head, and I am no longer the owner of prime bed real estate. Big bed = happy family...or at least, happy kids and dogs.

4. Wine and Dine? More than Dine, Dodge and Dash! When we first got married, I used to love discovering new recipes to try out for dinner. I would stop at the grocery store every day on my way home from work to buy the ingredients I would need for that evening's mouth-watering masterpiece. I would set the dining room table with all of our brand spanking new place mats and dinnerware, and we would enjoy a mature, delicious, quiet meal together. These days, dinnertime is slightly different. Trying to get all of the food (sometimes three different meals cooked for a total of four people) on the table, pour the drinks, clean up the spilled drinks 30 seconds later, find Luca's missing hotdog (which was stolen and ingested whole by one of our Boston Terrors), and actually shovel some food into our mouths is more like a marathon, than a meal. When our kids were younger, there would also be the aspect of mushed bananas, with the consistency of paste, being thrown across the table. Some nights I wonder why we even bother, since the post-dinner clean up usually takes longer than the cooking and eating, combined.

The resemblance is striking, no?
Perhaps the greatest thing I have realized has come about over the past five years. There is no denying the truth that kids are a game changer. I mean that in a 100% positive, amazing, insane, wonderful, rip your hair out, beautiful, heart bursting with love- kinda way.

We celebrated our 4th anniversary while I was pregnant with Bella, and my sister-in-law gave us a beautiful Willow Tree figurine of a couple holding each other close and dancing. I remember her saying that in a few months, not only was our life going to change, but also our love was going to change. Having already been the mama to two little ones, she wisely told me that it's a whole new world, when your family truly learn how big your heart is, and how much love you are capable of. I remember getting teary-eyed when she said this, and I will admit that I'm pulling a Taylor Swift, with teardrops on my  guitar  laptop right now, recalling that conversation, because it is so true.

Chris and I will say it all the time- what did we do with ourselves before we were parents? Readers without kids, please don't take this the wrong way. I know you are all not laying around poolside, drinking martinis and planning your next European excursion (but if you are, I'm very, very jealous!). But honestly, so much of our marriage revolves around our two little monkeys and what they want, and what they need...NOW! RIGHT now! Or better yet, five minutes ago.

Having a simple ten minute conversation about your day at work, the ridiculously high electric bill, or the latest episode of Modern Family, without being interrupted every 45 seconds with breaking news updates like, 'Maaammaaaa! Luca  took my Barbie doll and flushed it down the toilet!' and 'Dadddddd!! Bella is putting lipstick on the dog again!' is pretty much mission impossible.

To combat the chaos, we've learned that the most important thing we can do as a couple and as parents is to be a team. We have a common goal: to raise two healthy, happy, productive members of society, who will make their way in the world without being featured on the national news for something other than winning the Super Bowl or the Noble Peace Prize. Whenever things start to cross the line from crazy  to Octomom-crazy, taking a deep breath and reminding each other than bedtime (and a tall glass of wine) will be here before we know it, is a life saver. The old adage, "United we stand, divided we fall" is 100% true in parenting.

The past ten years, and especially the past five, have been absolutely amazing. By amazing, do I mean filled with constant romance- nightly moonlit walks on the beach, love letters, champagne and caviar, and jet setting to Fiji? Um, no. Life is not an episode of The Bachelor. But that's what makes our marriage and life truly fantastic. Supporting each other through everything, being in it for the long haul, "for better or for worse", and knowing that we have each others' back is the recipe for a perfectly, imperfect marriage.

Happy anniversary, to my partner-in-crime, grime, and good times. Here's to the next 50 years...xoxo.

P.S.- To any new readers, curious to why I am wearing my wedding dress on a farm, I was the lucky winner of a Trash the Dress photo shoot, by a very talented, local photographer, Jess Bennett.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Breaking the Silence

OK. So I'm going to start by saying that this topic has been rolling around in my head for a while, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to put it out's one of those taboos that most people don't like to talk about, much like Spring Break Cancun 1998, or the time you ate a petrified french fry that you found underneath your two year old's car seat. But, as more and more time settles between the past and the present, there is a little voice in my head telling me to write about it- the same voice that tells me to inhale spoonfuls of Nutella and almond butter at 2 am- which totally proves that this voice is very wise, and may even have a PhD from University of Awesome.

In the early morning hours on a November day in 2010, we got the exciting news that baby #3 was on board.  Our little monkeys were four years old and almost two years old, and it seemed like a perfect time to add a third ring to our circus. We went to the doctor, confirmed that I was almost six weeks along, and got a due date in July.  Since it was our third time around this block, we waited for about a week, and made our big announcement to our families on Thanksgiving. A few days later, I pretty much stood on top of Mt. Everest and shouted "WE'RE HAVING A BAAAABY!!" to the world...aka, I put it on Facebook.

Now, for those of you who know me, you know that I'm pretty much an open book, who only stops talking long enough to eat and breathe, and isn't really the best at locking up the vault and keeping things to myself. With my first two pregnancies, we waited until I was about eight weeks before announcing it to our families...there was no way I was ever going to make it to the twelve week mark, that is always held up as "the safe time" to let the cat outta the bag. Since we'd been down this road twice before, with two healthy, uneventful pregnancies, I saw no reason to keep this happy, happy news to ourselves.

And then, along came December 19th. Cue the dark and ominous overtones.

From the moment I opened my eyes that morning, the day sucked. First of all, I woke up with the stomach bug. We had our annual Girls Night Christmas Cookie Swap the night before at my house. Unfortunately, macaroons and fudge bars weren't the only thing being swapped that night. All seven of us girls, PLUS our husbands AND all of our kids were knocked down by Flu-palooza 2010. I called in sick to work, laid in bed all day, but powered through that afternoon to make it to a scheduled ultrasound.

I got to the doctor's office, feeling like I was run over by a speeding bus, and about five minutes into my appointment, I could tell by the silence from the ultrasound tech that something was not quite right. When I asked her what she saw, she said that she couldn't say, and that the doctor would want to talk to me in her office right away. Yeah. My world pretty much stopped spinning at that point. With a lump in my throat and a heart on the edge of  breaking, I gathered my things and headed upstairs.

Because I didn't have a scheduled appointment to talk to my doctor, I had to wait. And wait. And wait. I waited for an hour. Which, if you are anxiously waiting for bad news, as well as throwing up Christmas cookies and antipasta every 25 minutes, feels like 17 hours.

To pass the time, I started texting. I sent out an SOS to my best friends, filling them in on the potentially bad situation. Knowing that my peeps were praying for me and was comforting. My poor husband was dead to the world, suffering from the stomach bug epidemic as well, and had no idea what was happening at this point. A parent of a student I had in my class many years ago, who happened to be waiting for her appointment, ended up being my guardian angel that afternoon. I ended up tearfully filling her in on why I was sitting there, and she spent a half hour, filling my head with positive thoughts and distracting me with stories about her kids. I truly believe she was sent by God to be there, to calm my nerves, and to stop me from leaping over the receptionist's desk and demanding that the doctor TALKED. TO. ME. NOW.

Finally I was called back. In my group, there are six different doctors, and to make the whole experience go from bad to worse, I happened to see the one doctor who was relatively new, and I had never met before. She also happened to be the one doctor in my practice that has zero bedside manner. I'm pretty sure that Kim Jong-il would've been kinder in his delivery. Dr. Mean started by showing me the film of my ultrasound and very matter-of-factly telling me that "there is no heartbeat, and that this pregnancy is no longer viable."

The next thing I knew, the Ice Queen handed me a box of tissues and excused herself from the room so I could "compose myself". I went into the bathroom, called my mom, and lost it. I sobbed my way through the entire, terrible story, and drove home, straight into the arms of my equally-as-heartbroken husband.

I'm not going to sugarcoat was awful. I was almost ten weeks, and already completely in love. I spent the next two days, laying in bed, feeling like crapola, snuggling with my babies, and watching hours and hours of The Soprano's and Real Housewives of Everywhere and Anywhere.

 Somewhere between one of Tony's therapy sessions with Dr. Melfi and an infomercial for Sham-Wow, I had a terrible realization. I had shared the big 'bun in the oven' news on Facebook, and now I had to undo it. AND I had to undo in 420 characters or less. Not being one for brevity, writing this status took me over an hour. I hit 'post' with a pit in my stomach, but within minutes, I started getting responses. The amount of messages and posts I received from family and friends was overwhelming and completely and totally amazing. So many of you shared your own stories of loss, and because of these stories, I closed up shop on my pity-party, threw on my Uggs and some lipgloss, and went out to breakfast with my little family. That night, Chris and I went Christmas shopping. We were still sadder than sad, but we also knew that life must go on. We each mourned in our own way...sharing the joy and complete insanity of Christmas with our babies helped tremendously. Like any loss, the weight of it would hit me when I least expected it, and even now, over two years later, I have my moments of achy sadness.

But through all of that sadness, an important lesson emerged. In the weeks following, I would run into co-workers,neighbors, old friends from high school, and sorority sisters I hadn't seen in years, and because they knew of what happened via my 'retraction statement' on Facebook, so many of them would share their own story of loss during pregnancy. I found healing power and courage in each of these conversations, cards and e-mails. And with each story, I started to realize that is not a type of loss that women generally talk about. In our country, there is such a negative stigma attached to miscarriage, almost as if you should be embarrassed or ashamed if it happens to you.  With approximately one out of every five women experiencing this type of loss, it just seems ridiculous that people feel this way. There is no other loss that occurs that we feel pressured to keep a secret or speak about in whispers.

We are programmed to keep our expanding bellies hush-hush until that magical 12 week mark, when we enter our second trimester and the threat of miscarriage significantly decreases. I get that. Well, part of me gets it. The other part of me, thinks about how if no one knew that we were expecting in the first place, we would have missed out on sharing in the experiences of others, and the hundreds of healing prayers, that ultimately gave us strength. The simple act of others acknowledging that we were suffering a loss in our family was vital to making us feel whole again.

I don't regret sharing our news 'too soon' for one minute. There is power in numbers, and knowing that we weren't alone, was significant in our mourning and mending. I know everyone grieves in their own way, and not everyone wears their heart on their sleeve like I do, but talking about it, and not keeping your grief and emotions bottled up inside, can do a world of good.

Life goes on. I don't say that callously, forgetting what we went through, but it is the truth. Not a day goes by that I don't think of our littlest angel.  But I do have faith that our hope of welcoming a new baby into our family will happen. This whole experience taught me that my friends and family were there for me not just in the good times, but also in the not-so-good-mascara-running-down-my-face-blubbering-through-a-box-of-Kleenex-and-a-bowl-of-wine-times.

 I am one lucky mama.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

All I Want for Christmas Mother's Day Is...

Contrary to popular belief (and Macy's commercials), most moms aren't waking up on Mother's Day and expecting...
  • diamonds (hello, have your seen the price of gas??? At $4.15 a gallon, unless that tennis bracelet is getting me to work and back, no thank you)
  • plants (with a husband, two kids, two dogs, and two turtles, I have no need for another living, breathing thing that is going to demand food and water, AND not help me mop or cook),
  • chocolate (and expect me to rock out a bikini in less than two months?? Heck to the NO.)
Now, I'm not speaking for all moms, but I think what most of us want is to feel appreciated. A card (Hallmark or handmade, we're not picky), some flowers, pancakes and coffee our family, maybe the promise of 15 uninterrupted minutes to read, nap, pee, etc. - that's all that it takes to make most of us smile and feel loved.

That being said, the whole idea of Mother's Day is definitely one of those "First World Problems"- much like your iPhone not uploading your latest tweet about which Jersey Housewife you are siding with (Team Manzo!!) or debating which OPI polish color you should use for your mani/pedi, Tutti Frutti Tonga or Royal Flush Blush...decisions, decisions!

These life or death decisions, are obviously not literally life or death. However, there are moms out there, in our own country, and beyond, that are faced with the very reality of death daily, even as they labor to bring new life into this world.

Every minute a women dies of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing nations. For every woman who dies in childbirth, another 30 women incur injuries and infections, which are often preventable. (Source: World Health Organization.)

  • In rural Papua New Guinea, 1 in 7 women die in childbirth.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 13 women die of causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • The risk of dying as a result of pregnancy if you live in the industrialized world stands at 1 in 4,100. (Big props to Rants from Mommyland genius mommies, Kate and Lydia,  for gathering this information...and thanks for letting me steal it. xoxo) 

These figures are staggering and horrifying...But we can change that...YOU can change

While reading my favorite mommy blog, Rants From Mommyland, I found out that there is an amazing movement, Bloggers for Birth Kits, happening right now. I found out that there are brave mamas in very rural, poor areas of our world, who need our help right now. One amazing Australian mama, Adriel Booker, who blogs from the land of Olivia Newton John and wallabies, is on a mission to provide struggling women in rural areas with clean birth kits. What is a Clean Birth Kit, you may ask? Well...

This simple kit, can be put together for less than the cost of a venti Caramel Macchiato, and will make you feel a lot less jittery, and much more powerful (because let's face it, we all feel a tad bit inferior in front of those baristas).

We are so lucky to live in our bubble of first world medicine and comfortable birthing conditions. We take classes, read a million books, write a birth plan, have the choice of home-birth vs. hospital-birth, we create  special playlists on our iPods to keep us motivated, soothed and sane during the big event...but at no point have any of us worried about not having a qualified medical professional to help bring our babies into the world, or thought about giving birth on a dirt floor, armed with a contaminated water supply and no antibiotics in case of infection.
If you are feeling as blessed as I am, please join me in this cause. I am on a mission to make at least 100 Clean Birth Kits by Mother's Day (May 13th). Some ideas to get involved:
  • host a Clean Birth Kit girl's night! Assign each person a supply (and a delicious dish!) to bring. Make an assembly line, pour the wine, and....GO!
  • Ask your Church, Girl Scout troop, neighborhood, anyone to donate supplies or entire birth kits.
  • Birth Kit date night! Nothing says romance more, than a trip to Home Depot for some plastic gloves and rope (right, Mr. Grey??)
The possibilities are endless. If you want to get involved, (please, please, please!!) here is the detailed list, assembled by Adriel, below. I would be more than happy to take any kits and have them shipped to these mamas in need.

1. Soap (for the birth attendant to wash her hands). Use a hotel-size soap or cut a regular bar of soap into 1/8-sized pieces. (Microwave the bar of soap for 30 seconds to soften it for cutting).
2. One pair of plastic gloves (for the birth attendant to wear).
3. Five squares of gauze (to wipe the mum’s perineum and baby’s eyes). Gauze pieces should be about 10×10 centimeters or 3×3 inches.
4. One blade (to cut the cord). You can buy individually wrapped sterile blades at the pharmacist or buy utility blades (much cheaper) at the hardware store. We teach the women to boil the blades for sterilization, so utility blades work just fine.
5. Three pieces of strong string (2 for tying the cord, 1 for “just in case”). String should be about 30 centimeters or 10 inches long.
6. One plastic sheet (for a clean birthing surface). Sheet should be approximately 1×1 meter or 1×1 yard and can be purchased at your hardware or paint store.
7. One sandwich-size ziplock bag (to pack the contents).
If you would like to participate in this amazing event, please email me ( I will scoot over to your house in my french fry/crushed Oreo/empty Capri Sun littered mom-mobile, and pick up your kits from you, whenever and wherever.
Thank you so much for listening,sharing and helping! Hoping your Mother's Day is even better than a hot fudge sundae, smothered in melted cheddar and topped with smoked bacon. Served with a gallon of Pinot, in a dish that I won't have to wash. Oh yes, a girl can dream.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mommy + Media = Meltdown

Like millions of other 21st century mamas, I am both overjoyed and overwhelmed by the amount of parenting information available to us, 24/7/365. From the moment I saw the little plus sign on a pee stick, I researched motherhood like I was applying to be a Rhodes scholar of Mommyland. I was six weeks pregnant with a baby that was slightly smaller than one of the sesame seeds on my bagel, but I was already stressing out about whether or not to buy organic baby food, what the theme of her first birthday party should be, and what kind of college savings plan we should be starting.

One of the first things I did as a mommy-to-be, is sign up for Babycenter is a great resource when you are checking into the nervous hospital becoming a mother. They send you these handy little emails, each week, comparing your baby's size to a fruit (week 10, a kumquat!), and give you fun facts about your ever-expanding belly, butt and thighs . It all sounds innocent, until you venture onto the message boards, where ladies from all around the world are sharing (often OVERsharing) and comparing. Did I gain too much weight? Did I not gain enough? (haha, funny!!) Should I be using non-toxic, low VOC, strawberry-scented paint for the nursery, like Mary P. from San Diego? Is it too late to put the sesame seed on a waiting list for nursery school? Carrie from Topeka already paid for the first semester for her kiwi's Montessori school!

These emails don't stop there...they stalk you all the way through your child's 21st birthday. Just kidding...their 9th birthday. But that is nine loooong years of checklists and milestones that will drive you to drink (as if you didn't have enough of a reason already!). That being said, according to the emails I got yesterday, this week I should be teaching Bella the value of money, introducing her to the "birds and the bees" (yeah, I may need to be sedated for that one) and assessing Luca's phonological awareness, as well as his ability to count to 100 in Chinese.

Moving on to my favorite social media hot spot, and yours, Facebook. Now I will start with the disclaimer that I HEART FACEBOOK. Like, I wouldn't trade my login and password for a lifetime supply of bacon. It is an amazing place to keep in touch with friends and family, share stories, stalk ex-boyfriends from college and the hot blond they left you for (not from personal experience, of course, just generalizing...).

However, Facebook, much like my hair, is not always perfect.
Problem #1: Bragging rights. Many of us mommies use this platform to share our little one's latest and greatest skills and developments, which is perfectly fine. Shooting off a status about your little one learning to subtract, riding a bike without training wheels, scoring six touchdowns in a single game, or conjugating verbs in Swedish is totally acceptable, and a great way to share your exciting news with family and friends. The problem lies in your audience. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I have totally used other people's statuses about their kids' academic achievements, sports glories, and language acquisition, as a yard stick to measure what my kiddies should be doing.

Here's an example (may or may not be based on true events):

Me (nose buried in my iPad): "Honey, do you remember Suzy from college? The red head that lived on the floor above me, and was always passed out in the hallway? Her boyfriend cheated on her with the RA and then she dropped out of college and moved back home?"

My patient husband (trying to watch the Mets game): "Um, yeah. Why?"

Me: "Well, I'm on Facebook, and this morning she posted that her six-year old twins just signed a modeling contract AND are now being home-schooled by the same tutor that Brad and Angelina use! Her oldest daughter was just accepted to the American School of Ballet's intensive summer program!! I was looking through her pictures, and last year, she threw a environmentally friendly, 'green'-themed birthday party for her girls AND it was featured in Parents magazine. Instead of a cake, she made gluten-free, sugar-free cupcakes, frosted with mousse made from fair trade chocolate. All of the paper plates and cups were 100% compostable, and she used the compost to fertilize her garden. They're Fruitatarian Vegans, so they grow 90% of their own food themselves."

Hubby: "Uh-huh..."

Me (anxiety level rising): "O. M. G.!! Look at this!!! She is on a strict kale, quinoa and water diet, and is not only training for the NYC Marathon, but ALSO for the Iron Man triatholon in Hawaii!" Look at her profile pic- it's just of her abs!! That's like a 12 pack. I don't even have a 2 pack! Do you think I'm fat?"

Hubby (staring at the tv): "Uh-huh..."

Me (hitting soon-to-be-ex-husband in the head with iPad): "WHAT??!!!"

OK. So apparently I was boring my beloved, and completely lost his attention the minute I mentioned Brangelina, but the ranting, raving and complete envying I was doing over this classmate that I hadn't seen since 1997 is not only embarrassing, but totally unhealthy. Then again, the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem...

Speaking of 12-step programs, the newest addiction sweeping the mommy nation is Pinterest. I have to admit, I didn't really "get" Pinterest at first, but once I figured it out...woah. It is one spicy meatball. Basically, people (who are obviously not regular people, but crafty aliens from a parallel universe, where no one has to work or sleep) post recipes, crafts, fashion, hair styles, party themes, floral arrangements, original photography, etc.

Pinterest was making me second guess my life. Why aren't I scouring local garage sales to find chairs, circa 1912, that I can strip, sand and refinish? Should I be creating seasonal garlands for my fireplace mantel? Why didn't I make pancakes in the shape of Malibu Barbie for Bella's breakfast this morning? There were so many amazing pictures of wedding flowers, dresses and handmade invitations, that I was considering picking a fight with my husband, filing for divorce, just so we could reconcile and I could replan our wedding.

After gathering hundreds of pins, I was faced with a reality. Unless I kidnapped Martha Stewart, Giada Delaurentis and Nate Berkus and kept them as my crafting, cooking and decorating indentured servants, there was no way in heck that I was recreating half of what I saw. Pinterest account deleted and Xanax prescription avoided. Winning!

Although I truly appreciate living in the 'information age', I do sometimes wish for a simpler time. My laptop and iPhone are never more than 3 feet away from me and even though I feel very connected to "the world", I can sometimes feel disconnected from the ones who matter most, my babies. If I'm busy staring at my computer screen, finding the perfect recipe for the perfect cinnamon rolls, then I'm missing out on a great game of tag in the backyard. If I spend 15 minutes on Facebook, stalking researching my best friend's ex-boyfriend's new wife, I just lost 15 minutes that I could've spent reading a book with my girl.

My mommy accomplice, J, is so good at this. She is a computer savvy smart cookie, but her Facebook account hasn't been used in over two years, and she rather get a root canal than spend more than 10 minutes on Pinterest. She is much more likely to be found pitching to her girls in the backyard, or blowing bubbles with her little one in the driveway, rather than shopping online to find cardstock in the perfect shade of yellow for her daughter's 1st birthday party invitations.
From experience, she knows that being a part of the social media world can plunge you into a black hole of time suckage, and I admire her ability to go cold turkey.

Now, don't get nervous, I'm not buying a horse, buggy and bonnet, and moving to Pennsylvania any time this century. Technology is amazing, and it has enriched my life in so many ways. But unplugging for a day (well, let's start with an hour...) here and there, and not worrying about keeping up with the Joneses, or in my case, the Suzys, can do a world of good. Realizing that my family doesn't need handwoven Easter baskets, homemade organic fruit leather and a color-coded pantry is a game changer...all they really truly want is 100% of me

(and maybe some of those chocolate peanut butter cup cookies I found on Pinterest).

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sticks and Stones...

Last Thursday, I was talking to my little lady about her day at school, asking the usual questions...what did you learn, who did you sit with...and somewhere within my line of rapid fire questions, she mentioned that when she tried to go to the block center that morning, two of her little kindergarten pals said 'Go away, Bella- We don't want to play with you."

It's almost shocking how quickly that mother bear/Incredible Hulk instinct kicks in...It took all of my self-restraint (and most of next week's reserve) not to grab my car keys, do 90 MPH over to these kids' houses and give them a verbal smack down that would prevent them from ever even looking at my pint-sized princess in the wrong way again. A few deep breaths later...

Me: "What did you say to them?"
B: "I told them that they weren't being nice and then I went to the math center."
Me: "Are these kids always mean?"
B: "No."
Me: "What else did they say to you?"
B: "Nothing."
Me: "Should I call Mrs X?"
B: "Can I have chocolate milk?"

Translation? She was completely over it...but I wasn't anywhere close. A thousand thoughts ran through my overly-neurotic brain. Was she being treated badly at school? Was she being picked on because she's short? Did she sit with other kids at snack time? Did she have a date to the homecoming dance? I was a Sarah Palen for President sized disaster.

I had such a pit in my stomach over our conversation, that I couldn't even bring myself to repeat it to my husband until hours later. Being the Yang to my Yin, he assured me that our girl is one tough cookie, can handle herself (and did so that very afternoon) and that sadly, not everyone is going to be nice, 100% of the time.

I am no stranger to the world of mean kids. When I was in 6th grade, I had short curly hair (think little Orphan Annie, without the cool dog and freckles), huge glasses a la Sally Jesse Raphael, and a mouth full of metal. Glasses, braces AND an Afro? Jackpot!!! Not for me, of course, but for the two future comedians who sat in the back of the bus. Everyday I would get on the school bus, and hear them..."Hey Medusa! Is that your face, or did your neck throw up??" It was the same stupid joke, every single day.

Did I cry? Did I ask my parents to drive me to school? Did I even tell my parents? Honestly, no. I remember it all happening, but I really don't remember having that strong of a reaction to it. I had a great group of friends, a loving family, and good grades, despite the nasty and totally non- clever remarks coming from the rear of the bus. Life went on, and I guess, for me, ignorance was the best policy.

These 22 year old memories, had been buried deep down in my brain, somewhere between the grade I got on my 5th grade state report (a was on North Dakota- boringest. state. EVER) and the color of my junior prom shoes (blue with silver buckles AND rhinestones...awesome, I know), UNTIL this August, when I was mentally preparing myself for Bella's first school bus ride.

I was a complete wreck, trying to come to terms with how I was supposed to watch my baby board a huge yellow box with wheels, commandeered by a complete stranger, and just drive away. What if she doesn't click her seat belt correctly? What if she can't find a seat? What if a 4th grader calls her a baby? (God help that kid!!!) My mom, successfully having raised four children of her own, reassured me that everything would be just fine. She made the point that all four of us took a bus to school, everyday, for ten years each, and we all survived. That's when I started to share my horror stories from junior high, of the dumb boys on my bus, and the Queen B in my class, who once stood up, and loudly announced to everyone that my hair bore a striking resemblance to a wasp's nest that one of our classmates had brought in for a science project. I remember everyone, including my teacher (a topic for a different day!) laughing, and me wanting to crawl under a desk, or inside the infamous wasp's nest.

My poor mom. She stared at me, completely confused. "That didn't happen!" she said, "Why wouldn't you have told me about it?" I had no answer, other than much like Vegas, what happened at Van Wyck Junior High School, stayed at Van Wyck Junior High School. I think it all boils down to the fact that deep down inside, I had too much self-confidence and worth to allow ridiculous insults get me down. For that, I thank my parents, who always praised us, made us feel important and valued, and armed us with the tools needed to confidently navigate our way through the world...from that first school bus ride, to freshman year away at college, to purchasing a new home, and becoming parents ourselves.

As I look back at that conversation with Bella, regarding "Block-gate"a week later, I can breathe a little easier. This chick is going to have countless similiar situations with other kiddies over the next twelve years she is in school, because that is life. As her mama, it isn't my job to fight her battles, but it is my responsibility to equip her with the confidence, fortitude and spunk that she will need to fight them herself.

A little hair product and some fabulous shoes will go a long way, too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Liar, Liar, Mom Jeans Pants on Fire

"Honesty is the best policy." Generally, I would agree with this statement, but when it comes to my children, I probably lie more than Bill Clinton, Tiger Woods, and any other creepy, power-abusing public figure you can think of.

I should start off by saying that I am an awful liar, and honest in every other aspect of my life. Besides the teeny-weeny white lie that may have been told to my husband about the actual cost of my brand new boots, (they were on sale, honey, I promise!), I always tell the truth. Even as a kid, guilt would set in as soon as a lie would pass through my lips, and I would usually fess up before being caught. But that all changed, when I became a mom.

Some of my little lies are really just exaggerations of the truth, like "If you don't stop eating so much candy, your teeth are going to fall out, and you will only be able to eat mushed up peas and cauliflower juice for the rest of your life." (This is one that I'm still trying to sell to my little ones on a daily basis.)

But out of all the untruths that come spewing out of my mouth on a daily basis, my all-time favorite lie spun story is our family's fairy, Penelope. What?! You don't have a fairy who lives in an empty tissue box on top of your refrigerator, only eats strawberries dipped in sea salt, and watches your every move? Well, get one NOW because that talented little hussy works nothing less than miracles.

Penelope was created about a month before my lovable little drama queen, B, turned four years old. It was the end of the summer, and I was getting a little tired of her daily campaign to be elected The World's Crankiest, Whiniest (not to mention LOUDEST) Kid. So one day, I placed a call to the President of Fairyland (located about 2 hours from Timbuktu) and I requested our very own "birthday fairy." A birthday fairy is basically Santa, but in the form of a 1-inch, red-headed, winged pixie. Think Tinkerbell, but sassier and a tad bit mean.

As soon as Penelope "arrived", we noticed a definite improvement in our curly girl's behavior. She was a better listener, more agreeable, less likely to slam was ah-MAAZ-ing. She would've jumped through hoops lined with fire and broccoli (two of her biggest fears), just to impress that demanding little nymph.

Not to mention, Penelope has better surveillance than Big Brother, and there's no place to hide. When my monkeys were on their best behavior, she would leave little gifts for everyone in the family- a Hershey Kiss, a new pack of crayons, a freshly blended frozen margarita (wishful thinking). When their listening skills weren't quite up to par, Penelope would get her point across by making certain favorite toys disappear, or magically removing Nick Jr from our TV. At first, I was a little taken aback by the fact that my darling child would be so willing to please an imaginary glorified flying BUG, meanwhile she thought nothing of constantly sparring with me- the one responsible for providing her with an endless supply of chocolate milk, rhinestone tiaras and new episodes of Dora...and oh yeah, life. But, my little plan was working sooo well, that I didn't care one. tiny. bit.

After Penelope (with a little help from Target) bestowed the birthday girl with a pink Power Wheels motorcycle for her 4th birthday, we were planning on kissing that little fairy farewell. Then, we started thinking...why mess with perfection? And so, Penelope has been a very welcome house guest ever since, and believe me, that chick works hard for her room and board.

I know that this shtick won't last forever, and I dread the day that I have to reveal the truth about Santa, Finn (our very entertaining Elf on a Shelf),, and all of the other fabulously helpful imaginary personalities we have invited into our home. Although I know I'm technically "lying", it's much more than that. It's an awesome exercise of our family's imagination, and my kiddos love every moment of it. One thing I know is true... my babies' innocence and unbridled willingness to believe everything I say won't last forever, so I plan on savoring every moment of it...even if my nose grows from here to California.