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 years...um, 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 expands...you 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 there...it'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 it...it 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 that...today.

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 (youshouldneversaynever@gmail.com). 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.com. 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 72...it 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 doors...it 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), http://youshouldneversaynever.blogspot.com/2011/12/he-sees-you-when-youre-sleeping.html, 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.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Man's best friend...

Now where did I put my Xanax...

Those of you who have been to my house, or even just to my Facebook page, know that one of the most domineering forces in my life is my dogs. As soon as you walk through the door, they are in your face, stealing your shoes, and possibly your wallet. They sit on the kitchen table, have chewed the eyes and ears off every stuffed animal my kids own, and are pretty much the reason I drink declare that I when these two are long gone, I will NEVER EVER get another dog.

At this point, on my side of our family, we are the only ones with children. Human ones, that is. Everyone else has at least one dog, and they are all treated better than most people's real offspring. My parents have filled their empty nest with two poodles- a beautiful Standard black poodle, named Chloe, and a tiny toy poodle, Bailey. My parents bring them on daily trips to the park, have arranged their social and vacation schedule to accomodate their new brood...I wouldn't be surprised if they started a college fund for both of them.

My sister Missy and her new hubby have THREE little dogs, and are thinking about getting a fourth. Phife, Lily and Baxter, are all adorable little creatures- especially Baxter who looks like a cross between Benji and Dorothy's Toto. My youngest sister Karen and her other half have two Pugs, Winnie and Barry- who are probably the cutest and most clueless dogs I have ever met. Seriously, when God was handing out brains, the Pugs were too busy sniffing each other's hineys and eating goose poop. Then again, I'll take dopey and loveable, over smart and mean anyday.

Then last, but not least, my brother and sister-in-law have a Shiba Inu puppy, Mia, who reminds me of an arctic wolf you might find on an iceberg in Alaska- she's one snow-white gorgeous gal. All of these dogs are well fed, well groomed, and most of all, very well loved. Not that my two little devil dogs aren't loved, but, well, things aren't quite how they used to be...

Back in July 2002, right after my husband and I tied the knot, our favorite topic of conversation was what kind of dog we were going to get. After extensive googling and some good ol' fashioned newlywed arguing, we both agreed on a Boston Terror Terrier. According to the gods of the canine world, the American Kennel Club, the Boston Terrier is "truly an All-American dog... a charming and highly intelligent breed." Sounds awesome, right? Then again, Ted Bundy was charming and highly intelligent, and I'm pretty sure we wouldn't adopt him.

That September, we found a reputable breeder, drove out to Timbuktu, and hand-picked our first baby...8 week old Mugsy. He was seriously the cutest thing we had ever seen- tiny, sweet, HUGE eyes...a cuddler, a snuggler and a snorer. And he was smart little man- our first potty training experience went off without a hitch, we brought him to Puppy Kindergarten every week, where he was the star pupil, sitting, staying, heeling, all for a piece of cold hotdog.

Then, when Mugsy was about a year old, we started noticing some strange behaviors. Barking at the ceiling, refusing to eat his food unless we threw it on the floor so he could "hunt" it (stupid humans!), staring and growling at the dishwasher for an hour and a half...after consulting our vet, we met with Dr. L, an Animal Psychologist. Literally, a dog shrink (I think we all know who really needs a shrink, right??)

Anyway, Dr. Doolittle, who p.s., costs $300 an HOUR (you know what kind of massage/facial/liposuction I can get for that kinda cash??), diagnosed Mugsy with Obsessive Compulsive disorder and an anxiety disorder. We handed her half our life savings, she handed us our golden ticket, a prescription for Prozac. Yes, real people Prozac, aka, the best $6.00 I spend every month.

Dr. L also suggested that we get another dog, so Mugsy would have a companion. Apparently, not only was he anxious, but he was bored. We found a Boston Terrier rescue, and a 25 page application, two home visits and one trip to Pennsylvania later, we adopted a 10-month old little Boston Terror girl, Rita. Then the real fun began...Double Trouble doesn't begin to explain what these two are capable of, not to mention the havoc their medical expenses have wreacked on our bank account...more on that, later.

For the first four years we were married, before we had babies, these two nutjobs were our babies. We would take them on daytrips to NYC so they could walk around Central Park. We took weekly outings to Petco to buy new treats and chews. We dressed them up in Christmas sweaters and took professional pictures with them to send out as our holiday cards...for three years in a row. Yes, we were crazy, but we loved our pups, and we had lots of time and neurosis to devote to them.

Then, the inevitable happened, and our family grew...and then grew again. Five years and two kids later, the dogs are lucky when I remember to feed them- and that's usually only because Mugsy picks up his metal bowl and drops it on the kitchen tile repeatedly, like a crashing cymbol, until I

a)yell my fool head off

b)feel guilty

c)bribe one of the kids to fill up his dish

d)spend the next 10 minutes sweeping the trail of dog food that goes from the closet to the dishes, left by my not-so-careful three or five year old.

Anyone with kids knows that having little people in your house creates enough chaos and mess...throw in two dogs, whose favorite pastimes are to bark incessantly, eat crayons and soap, and pass gas (seriously, stankiest. dogs. EVER.), and you have an instant three-ring circus. I spend quite a few hours a day, threatening to send Mugsy to "the farm" and swatting dogs off the table while they noisily slurp up whatever is left in Bella's bowl of Cocoa Pebbles.

Now, things aren't all bad...my canine devilish duo provides plenty of entertainment for my other devilish duo- allowing them to chase, tackle, and dress them up in hair bows and boas. Mugsy sings one heck of a rendition of "Happy Birthday", and Rita can outcatch anyone in a game of Frisbee. Best of all, they are truly good sports when it comes to being tortured playing with my little ones. Every night when my little monsters (of the human variety) are snoozing and the house is finally in order, I settle in on the couch with my hubby, a book and the remote. I immediately find myself covered with Bostons- 50 pounds of craziness, exhausted from a full day of driving me insane, snoring happily on my lap. I look at their smushy little faces, and I fall in love all over again.

And then someone honks their horn two miles away and the troops are alerted...there's not enough Prozac in the world...

Purely for your entertainment, here is an incomplete list of the vet bills we have incurred over the past nine years...one thing I know for sure...our vet's kids are going to Yale, while we might be able to afford the finest community college New York has to offer.

- Mugsy slipping on a patch of ice, dislocating his knee, requiring orthopedic surgery: $4000

- Rita jumping out of the back of a moving roof-less Jeep and breaking her tailbone: $1500

- Mugsy and Rita double-teaming my purse, finding a bottle of Advil, breaking it open and eating them like Skittles ON THE 4TH OF JULY, when our vet was closed and we were forced to go to the emergency vet clinic, where both dogs had to swallow charcoal and have their stomachs pumped: $2500

- Rita eating a can of bacon grease- this chick has some major food issues- giving her a major case of pancreaitis: $1800

- Rita suffering from a slipped disc in her back (probably from the 10 extra pounds she carries on her compulsive eating little body), and needing acupuncture TWICE a week for two months, at $75 a pop...I'm too tired to even do the math for that one.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Go the Fudge to Sleep

OK, so maybe 'fudge' isn't the exact word the author of this brilliant ADULT (not children's) book used, but I'll try to keep things G-rated. Or at least PG-13.

Let me start by saying that as I sit down to write this, my darling little man is hysterically screaming my name, over and over again, in a last ditch effort to get me to lay in bed with him. No, I'm not talking about my husband. I'm talking about my other darling little man,my 3 year old little howler monkey, Luca. Before you think I'm the meanest mom on Earth (although I definitley have earned that title some days), my very patient husband, Saint Chris is in there, speaking in soothing tones, talking our distressed child off the ledge. I'm sitting on the couch, iPad and snoring dog in my lap, trying to muster up the energy to get up and pour a much deserved gallon glass of wine to drown my guilt and sorrow. "Why so guilty and sorrowful?" you ask. "Surely you must be impervious to crying children by now. Just take out your super awesome hearing aids, and turn up American Idol!" Well, the truth is, I have to admit that I am 100%, maybe even 200% (if that's even mathematically possible) to blame for this nightly bedtime mama drama.

We were bit spoiled by our oldest, Bella, who despite a few nights here and there, has been always been a champion sleeper (knocking on wood now!). When Lucs came along, things seemed to be easy peesy for about the first five minutes or so...and then it all started going downhill.

Despite being a scrawny, six pound/twelve ounce peanut, he was starvin' like Marvin, summonsing his private dairy cow, aka ME, every 2-3 hours, round the clock. Out of pure exhaustion, and against my better judgement, this worn out Holstein started the very bad habit of nursing and snoozing...aka co-sleeping. In my PK (pre-kids) days, I could be found standing on my soap box, declaring, "Babies belong in their own cribs. I would NEVER let my baby to sleep in our bed." I'd like to grab that PK me, hit her over the head with her soap box and laugh in her face.

Inconsistency became the key to our downfall. When the L-man was around 16 months old, I was still nursing him just at bedtime...and then (three times) once during the night. Knowing this was a Lindsay Lohan-sized disaster, I closed up shop. I cried, stuck some cabbage in my bra, and tried to remedy the damage. What I soon discovered is that it was tooo late.

Since then, it's been an uphill battle. He sometimes fall asleep in his own bed, sometimes in our bed (watching *GASP* Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). There are nights when he passes out on the couch by 6:30 pm, from sheer exhaustion and we just pick him up and put him in his bed. I have to admit, those are jackpot nights. I couldn't be happier if I won a lifetime supply of under-eye concealer and Mr. Clean Magic Eraser sponges.

For a year and a half, we've done everything, short of filling out the online application for Super Nanny, to get our little monkey snoozing peacefully. We've bought six different night lights, filled up countless sippy cups of juice and milk (yes, can't wait to get that dentist bill!), camped out in a sleeping bag on his floor, curled up into the fetal position and slept in his bed (years of chiropractic care are in my immediate future), traded the toddler bed in for a super cool race car bed, begged, pleaded and cried for him to just GO TO SLEEP. Eventually, yes, he does fall asleep. But on the rare nights, when all of the stars are aligned, and he does fall asleep in his own room, he still somehow makes his way back into the mothership (literally) between the hours of 3 and 5 AM. 99% of mornings, I wake up, hanging off our king-size bed, with a drooling three year old, and two Boston Terrors stealing all of the surface area and covers.

I know there are solutions. My stock of parenting books rivals Barnes and Noble's. I've read and reread the sleep Bible, Sleeping Through the Night by Dr. Jodi Mindell. I've googled and purused thousands of message boards, taking notes on Ferberizing, accupuncture, slipping Benadryl into a sippy of milk... Kidding, kidding. I have friends who have climbed their way out of the deep, dark pit of sleepless nights. At one point, my mommy partner in crime had two of her girlies taking up prime real estate in her bed, all night, every night. One day, she woke up, put her very tired foot down, and instituted a "Kid Ban" on her bedroom. Within a couple of days, she was completely kid-free between the hours of 8:00 pm-7:00 am. I couldn't be anymore impressed if she had trekked up Mt. Everest wearing 3-inch platform heels.

So what's a mama to do? First off, I have to remember my mom's own parenting mantra, "This too shall pass." Secondly, I know the key to effective parenting is consistency. At this point, I'm about as consistent as Kirstie Alley's dress size. Starting tonight, no more Mrs. Nice Guy. No more nonsense. No more tears. This kid is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed, solo.

I just need to get some Valium and ear plugs first...

P.S.- would love you more than bacon if you want to share your sleep (or lack thereof) stories and suggestions. Help!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Here we go again...

These days, my third, and youngest baby, The Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale, has been the one keeping me up at night. This fundraiser was born out of a late night Bravo-induced bout of insomnia during Spring Break 2011, and has been one of the most fulfilling endeavors of my mommy life.

I had been looking at a pile of discarded toys and outgrown clothes in my laundry room, and wondering if I could muster up enough donations to organize a sale to benefit a local agency. After some googling, I choose a cause that is close to my heart, the Center for Prevention of Child Abuse of Dutchess County. They are a non-profit agency that is dedicated to educating children, parents and schools on preventing and breaking the cycle of abuse.

Last year was a test run...we started by shamelessly asking for support from our local community. My motto for the SSSCA sale quickly became "It never hurts to begask." The morning after my brainstorm, I called Hopewell EZ Storage , a locally owned storage unit business, and I connected with the amazing and generous Marge, who became integral to the success of the sale. She started off by donating a unit for the storage of our donations. That one unit quickly became two...and then three...and by the time the sale rolled around in June, we were up to five jam-packed-protect-your-head-when-you-open-the-door-because-it's-all-coming-tumblin'-out-units.

Hopewell EZ Storage became our primary and most often used drop-off location, but we had a few other local businesses and schools that were kind enough to lend us some space. My homebase, Van Wyck JHS, along with Sheafe Road Elementary School both lent us their main offices as places for parents to bring piles of clothing, books, toys and other baby gear. The Little Gym of East Fishkill, my little monsters' favorite place for gymnastic classes and birthday parties, also allowed us to use their gym as a collection site- I would get a call at least once a week that their little office was becoming happily filled with boxes of gently-used goods.

As June 18th, the date of the sale, loomed closer, we realized that we need to start sorting through everything we had accumulated. A small group of volunteers made up of family and friends, spent hours sweating like we were Zumba-ing in the Sahara, in the Hopewell EZ Storage parking lot, sorting through an endless mountain of clothes, trying to organize them by gender and size. I was so appreciative of these lovely ladies who took time away from their families and other duties to help this cause, with the only perks I could offer them being a pretty fabulous suntan, and some good karma.

At last, after two months of panic attacks preparation, the fated weekend had arrived. I had some wonderful friends, Van Wyck parents and students, as well as my always agreeable family volunteering to follow me into the fire as we set everything up. The sale was held in the Fellowship Hall of Hopewell Reformed Church, who very graciously donated this large and beautiful space. At least, the hall seemed large, until we started bringing in truckloads, yes, I said truckloadS from the storage lockers. My husband, brother-in-law, and amazing teaching partner&friend assembled a 3-man team of unloading units, loading the box truck and unloading the truck delivering everything into the Hall. I completely underestimated how long this process would take...by the end of hour #2, I was starting to get a little short of breath- and I wasn't the one doing all the heavy lifting.

Once all of the clothing, high chairs, playpens, swings, gliders, exersaucers, strollers, bathtubs, toys, bicycles, books and stuffed animals were unloaded, the crew got to work. Tables were set up, everything was laid out and priced. My parents called off their evening dinner plans with friends, and instead invited their group to come and help us set up. My in-laws invited my kiddies over to spend the night, allowing me to be 100% dedicated to the task at hand. Everyone was on a mission, and I had such an overwhelming feeling of gratitude as I looked around at the selfless group of people who made such an event possible. My husband, aka my right hand, never once questioned my sanity during this entire process. I'm sure I used up my lifetime quota of "Yes Dear"' during that two month time frame. By midnight, all was set, and we turned off the lights with an excited and nervous anticipation what the next day would bring.

We opened our doors, bright and early, Saturday morning. The sale ran for eight hours, and saw a decent amount of traffic coming through. It was a learning process, adjusting prices and policies as the day went on. In the end, we raised almost $2000 for the Center. One thing we did not think through was what to do with the large amount of leftovers...we ended up donating mostly everything to other local agencies who could use the help, as well as The Barn in Pleasant Valley.

That night, after all was said and done, I uttered the words "Now, next year..." to my husband, who's eyes I thought were going to pop out of his head. I agreed to put all planning on hold until at least the ink was dry on the check we wrote to the Center.

Fast forward a few months to October. My fantastic and always thinking girlfriend Alicia mentioned that she has been in the process of starting a fabulous new website with another local mama. She asked if I would be interested in having their help with the sale...she could hardly get the question out before I screamed hell yeah "Why, yes, that would be lovely!"

And so, this year's Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale was born. We (well, me) have partnered with Alicia and her smart and social media savvy business partner/friend/local mommy, Erika, to bring you this year's new and improved sale. Words cannot express how good it feels to have these two lovely and brilliant ladies diving into this adventure with me. I won't be surprised if my iPhone starts smoking from the rapid fire emails that we send back and forth once one of us gets an idea. Working on something together, especially when it's for an awesome cause, is exhilarating, exciting, and of course exhausting, but the other two 'ex' words totally negate the tiredness that may occur. The one major change for this year's sale is the date and location...the 2012 Shop to Stop Child Abuse Sale will be held on Saturday, April 28th at the Jewish Community Center (110 Grand Ave Pougkeepsie, NY) from 9 AM- 2 PM.

So, if you have stuck with me through this very long post (I started off by just writing a quick blurb, I swear!), you may be asking yourself, "What can I do to help?" Well, you're so sweet- thank you for asking! Here is a quick list of ways you can get involved, starting today!

1. Donate your gently-used baby/kid/maternity clothing, toys, books, and other baby gear (playpens, strollers, cradles, bathtubs, swings, walkers, exersaucers, baby gates, etc.). The only items we are not accepting are stuffed animals, drop-side cribs, car seats and husbands who forget to put the toilet seat down (3 AM swim anyone?) Drop off locations can be found on our website www.shoptostopchildabuse.com.

2. Join The Little Bloom (their link is at the top right of this page!) www.thelittlebloom.com. Alicia and Erika's aahh-MAZ-ing new venture. They have up to date information on the Sale, as well as other exciting happenings in the Hudson Valley. It's free and it will only make your life more fabulous (as if that's possible!).

3. Print out our flyer and post it EVERYWHERE! Your kid's school, dance class, Starbucks, supermarkets, church bulletin boards, bathroom stalls at Target...all of the mommy hotspots.
Copies of our flyer can be found on our website (see above) under the "how to create awareness" tab. We thank you in advance!

4. Like us! On Facebook, that is. There is a link to our FB page on the website, or you can just search for the Shop to Stop Child Abuse. You will then be in the loop of any breaking news. Be sure to "share" our page with others...just like Kody Brown would say, the more, the merrier!

5. Come hang with us! We need warm bodies, like Angelina Jolie needs a sandwich (right, fellow Golden Globe watchers??) Moms, dads, kids (age 12 and up!), community members, teachers,
sports teams, Chippendale dancers, ANYONE who wants to volunteer is encouraged to contact us through our FB page, or our email address shoptostopchildabuse@gmail.com. Please give us your information and in what capacity you would like to help, and we will be sure to get back to you ASAP!

6. If you are a local business owner, and would be able to help us advertise (donating signs, etc) or would like to adopt this cause for your school or business, give us a shout and we will make it happen! A local school gave us this idea, as they have decided to adopt the Sale as their February Mitzvah project...thank you, JCC pre-school!

I think that's all, folks! We thank you for all of your help and support in making this sale a success, and we look forward to working with each and every one of you. Smooches!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

You Are What You Eat...

<------------ Suck it, Sweeney.

Now, if that was true, I would be a giant pizza-flavored Goldfish cracker, sprinkled with cheese and covered in chocolate and peanut butter.

I used to be healthy. Seriously healthy. Like Jillian Michaels could've called me for diet and fitness advice kinda healthy. I ate my weight in fruits and vegetables, shunned sugar and carbs, went to the gym five days a week, and could out-plank anyone in yoga class.

Then, in January 2006, we happily discovered that I was expecting our first little bundle of noisy joy. Debunking those fat lady pregnancy myths, during those nine months I was, by far, the healthiest I have ever been. I ate right, dranks oceans of water, and was a fixture at Planet Fitness. A major component to my Richard Simmons lifestyle, was that my bff, J, was pregnant too, our due dates a week apart. We power walked after school, went to the gym at night, and did prenatal yoga classes on the weekends. At the risk of sounding like a world class beeotch, WE WERE AWESOME. Plus, it was summertime, so we had this amazing glow from the miracle of impending motherhood eight straight hours of lounging on a pool float or on the beach each day.

But, like all good things, my short stint as a tan, pregnant fitness model came to an end. In September 2006, I welcomed my baby girl into the world, and bid a sad farewell to the elliptical machines and free weights. My money continued to go to the gym for a few more years, but my sneakers found a cozy little niche in the back of my closet and developed a serious case of agoraphobia. Lack of motivation, energy, time...they all played a part in my downward spiral into a world of arm fat and a muffin top. The only semblance of a workout I get these days is hauling groceries and chasing my unruly enthusiastic children down the aisles at Target.

Now, although I know I'm not one Reese's Peanut Butter Cup away from being recruited for next season's Biggest Loser, I am not totally happy with myself, and the fact that even my bloomers feel tight. Who's to blame for this conundrum? It's obvious...MY KIDS.

Why don't I go to the gym? Because I have to play Barbie, cook dinner, clean up toys, wipe hineys, do bath time, read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" 17 times, bribe everyone into bed, do my Cinderella chores and then finally collapse from exhaustion on the couch at 10 pm with a bowl of ice cream and 2 hours of Bravo's finest programming.

Why don't I eat healthy? Because in a effort to be economical and non-wasteful, I find myself eating handfuls of Cheez-Its left in Bella's snack pack from school, sneaking spoonfuls of Mac and Cheese from the pot on the stove (you know you do it too!), and inhaling pizza crust and abandoned globs of cheese from my little skinnys' plates. My house is full of Oreos, Cheerios, Spaghetti-O's and every other sugar/fat/artificially flavored O's you can think of.

Alright...so I know I am being a teeny bit unfair, placing all of the blame on my innocent little angels. I guess I should take some responsibility. I guess Luca isn't force feeding me the Twizzlers that I found under his car seat (don't judge). I'm sure I could pack myself an apple and a bottle of water to bring to the park, instead of stealing sharing the kiddies' Pirate's Booty and Yoo-Hoo.

I'm thinking that the key to success and mommy-body acceptance is baby steps. Cutting out the junk, and starting to move and groove are good places to start. The fabulous thing about life is that everyday is a fresh start. Tomorrow, it's whole grain toast and egg whites for breakfast...but I think I'll start tonight by doing some lunges during commercial breaks on Jersey Shore. Again, don't judge.