The first week of Kindergarten – Who the heck is this kid? My series for The Washington Post’s On Parenting…

first week of schoolRemember that sappy post last week about the first day of school?

Yeah, things are a bit different after finishing the first WEEK of school.

I’m not sure who this kid is. I’m not sure who I am.

Come read what I mean.

To read, click HERE.

 

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30 Days of Bitching Challenge. Ya in?


bitchingSo over the past few months, I’ve noticed the growing popularity of 30 Days of Happiness or 30 Days of Gratefulness challenges.  People post about how wonderful their children are and how they cooked an amazingly healthy dinner. And that’s all nice and sweet, but what about those of us that might not have be having a good day?

We are so often told to “cheer up” and “appreciate what we have in life.”  And I do. I seriously do. I love my kiddos, feel like I hit the lottery with my husband and think that it is amazing that I get to write for a living.

However, we are all human. We need to complain every once in a while.

So with that, I created my own challenge.

I call it “30 Days of Bitching.”

Every day I’ll put a post up on Martinis and Minivans Facebook Page about something I’m bitching about.  I’ll give you the opportunity to bitch about anything you want. ANYTHING! I’ll start and you continue by dropping your “bitching” in the comments.

Come join in the fun. And the key word here is FUN. This is a chance to get out some complaints without judgement. Let it rip!

And be sure to use the hashtag #30DaysofBitching - let’s get this stuff going viral!

To join, head to the Martinis and Minivans Facebook Page and add your bitching! And check out my first one today. It’s taking on the wonderful world boob sweat…

 

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What people battling depression want YOU to know about depression…


Yes, I’m a mother who loves a great sarcastic post and providing humorous observations about the insanity of parenting. But I’m also finishing my MA in Counseling with a focus on school counseling. I often see the world of depression around me from a young child or adolescent point of view. So when Robin Williams recently committed suicide, it made me think about all the wrong information out there about depression.

I decided to reach out and talk to the people who deal with it every day. The people who are battling depression. And I asked them them this one simple question:

What do YOU want people to know about depression?

I received hundreds of answers. Hundreds. From comments on Facebook to tweets on Twitter to personal emails sent from friends and strangers. I was blown away. Which shows you that there’s too many wrong things being said about depression and not enough right.

I picked a few of the comments that really struck a cord with me to share.

Do me a favor, would you? Share this with your friends. Your family. Your co-workers. Hell, share it with your ex-boyfriend. Just share it so more people know the REAL truth and not something they try to figure out on their own.

I have never battled depression but as a person in the mental health world as well as a friend to a few who are, I will only say this. It’s not a matter of realizing the world loves them or about being happy. It is a chemical imbalance that sometimes is so draining that the people fighting it get tired of trying to find the solution. So don’t ask a person why they are depressed, just ask them what you can do to help.

Here’s their words:

Dani Lyn: “People say suicide is an act of cowardice. It is not. It’s also not selfish. It is a complete and total act of desperation and despair. Until you walk a mile in someone’s shoes, you should judge them.”

Kristen: “When people tell you, “you have so much in your life to be happy about. You have kids, a home, a spouse who loves you. Why are you even depressed? You have no reason to be!”  I could have everything that I want, but it will still feel like everything around me is crumbling. I don’t chose to feel this way. My mind does it for me.”

Tracy: “There is a darkness inside that aches and their is no light insight. No matter how much and hard you try to make things better or at least pretend it’s better it’s like the darkness sucks you in deeper. You can’t or don’t want to talk because you feel stupid for feeling the way you feel as their is no explanation or reasoning behind it. No one understands and because of this you’d rather disappear.”

It’s Why You Like Me:  There are days that are darker than others. Likewise there are days that are bright. I cannot control which day I get and need those that love me to accept me as I am.”

Pon: “That depression is not always the one who cant seem to get their shit together and wears depression like a badge that elicits sympathy. But its also the breadwinner of the family, the caretaker, the one who plans activities, the one who holds things together for the family, with a smile on their face. Behind all that they can be depressed and hide it from everyone to not be a burden.”

Deena: “Some days I’m so disconnected that I don’t recognize myself in the mirror. I wish people understood that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain. If I could “just think happy thoughts” and “POOF” all gone, don’t you think I would have done that even without your brilliant advice?”

Dede: “You can’t “snap out of it”! Being sad and depressed is not a choice, it’s a dark tunnel that your are thrown into and become trapped in.”

Sandy: “You’re told to ‘pull yourself together’, ‘take control of it’ or the favorite, ‘go to the doctor and get pills’. Depression isn’t taken seriously because ‘we all get depressed at some time in our lives’. But what if the pills don’t work (they don’t for me) and you’ve tried and tried but you can’t take control of it (and somehow that makes you a failure in your own mind)? What’s left then? You smile and laugh and joke and ‘how are you?’ gets answered with ‘I’m fine’ because no-one wants to hear the truth anyway. You slowly withdraw and no-one notices. Then one day you realize you haven’t gotten out of bed for weeks other than for small periods of time and you haven’t left the house for months. Your car sits neglected in the garage because you go nowhere and you avoid people at all costs. Yes, you love your family. Your children are your everything and you really are blessed to have such a good, understanding husband. But what if your depression is actually harming them because you’re not really present, are you? What’s left then?”

Theresa: “Don’t tell me to snap out of it. When I’m crying and trying to talk to you, I don’t want to hear that. I want to hear that everything will be okay and that you love me. Don’t try to fix it, just listen to me!”

Thank you to all who shared. Your words moved me and hopefully will move others. Thank you for being willing to talk about it. You are brave and I truly appreciate it.

 

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Her first day of kindergarten. My series on The Washington Post’s On Parenting…


first day of school washington postLast week, I shared the anxieties and feelings my daughter and I had about her starting kindergarten in my first post of a special series on The Washington Post’s parenting site, On Parenting. (You can read it HERE)

This week, it was the much-anticipated first day of school.

Did she cry? Did I cry? And how the heck did that floozy Barbie weasel her way into our first day?

Come read it HERE.

And stay tuned for next week. If the second day of school today is any indicator, things might not be as they appear…

 

Why my husband kicks ass…


There are moments in parenthood where you look at your spouse and think, “Damn, you seriously rock at this.”

This morning was one of those moments.

My husband is a guy’s guy. He loves sports. He played lacrosse growing up. He looks like a kid on Christmas morning whenever March Madness begins. I’m not kidding. The guy wakes up on the first day of games singing, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

And he loves it when our 3 year-old son wants to toss a ball around or tackle him as soon as he walks in the door from work, which is pretty much every single day.

But he also has another side of him that balances that tough sporty guy.

This morning our 5 year-old daughter decided to dress her brother up in a pink mini skirt, ruffled top,  hair bows and makeup. My son came bouncing down the stairs with his newly painted pink fingernails happy as could be.

He ran into the kitchen where my husband was eating breakfast, laughing and a smile ear to ear and said, “Look Daddy! I’m a girl!”

I watched my husband in that moment and waited.

Would he roll his eyes? Would he tell him to go change into “boy” clothes?

But I knew exactly what he would do.

He smiled, leaned over and kissed him. Then he patted his head and said, “You are an adorable girl.”

And that folks, is why I think my husband kicks ass.

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My special series on The Washington Post’s parenting site On Parenting…


washington post danielle herzog pictureI’m so excited to be doing a post each week for the next month for The Washington Post’s parenting site On Parenting on what it’s like to have your first child go to kindergarten.

And it’s not just my perspective – I’m interviewing my daughter each week to see how she’s feeling about it all. I’ll share her answers, as well as the truth, both real and funny, about what the experience is like for a first time mother.

I hope you’ll come read the first installment… it’s one that might pull on your heartstrings a bit… It’s my feelings about having only a few days left.

To read, click HERE.

 

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My son is now three and here’s the lists to prove it…

me and the boyWhen a blogger has a child who is celebrating their birthday, it is very common to see a sappy post written by their parent. It usually consists of how loved they are and how proud they are of their accomplishments.

Well, as you figured out by now, I might not be the most normal of bloggers.

So in honor of my son’s third birthday tomorrow, I thought I would do something a wee bit different. No cute pictures of their development, no letters showcasing the highlights of their growth. No, I’m going to make a few lists. Lists of a few of my son’s favorite things…

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Top 3 Favorite Activities

1. Pooping his pants

2. Peeing his pants

3. Pooping and peeing his pants then laughing

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Top 3 Favorite Foods

1. Anything off of my plate

2. Anything off his sister’s plate

3. Anything off the floor

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Top Things To Play With

1. The boogers he stores on the top railing of his bed

2. My breasts when he thinks it is funny to motorboat them

3. Anything that can be used as a weapon

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Top Favorite Games

1. Dumping out and losing the pieces of Operation

2. Putting the plastic figurines from Candyland down the toilet

3. Seeing how far his finger can go up his sister’s nose

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Favorite Places to Pee

1. The neighbor’s front yard tree

2. The other neighbor’s front porch

3. Anywhere but the potty

 

My Now 3 year-old’s Best Qualities

1. He’s cute

2. He’s funny

3. And he loves me even when I tell him that he can’t shoot pee across the room to knock down his army men.

 

I love you, handsome. 

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Can you figure out this movie drawing?

I love when other bloggers want to guest post here on Martinis and Minivans. It’s fun to get a fresh new perspective or do an interesting interview. This time, though, we are taking it to a silly new level.

Robyn Coden, the blogger behind Dim Sum and Doughnuts, contacted me about doing a guest blog. Robyn is a blogger, cake-eater and mistake-maker. Dim Sum and Doughnuts focuses on parenting, growing up and Robyn’s life with her husband and two girls at their summer camp in Northern Michigan. You never know what you’re going to get with Robyn—sometimes controversial, sometimes comedic, but always a voice that’s powerfully honest and entertaining. She’s the real deal.

I told her that instead of words, let’s do a game of pictures. We both have five-year-old girls so we asked them each to draw a picture of their favorite movie. The two caveats were that it couldn’t be Frozen and they had to draw it in 30 seconds.

So here’s the drawing by Robyn’s daughter.

movie pic

Can you figure out the movie?

I guessed Wall-E but was wrong. You have to head over to Robyn’s, Dim Sum and Doughnuts, for the answer.

As for what my kid drew on her site? The answer: Monsters Inc.

Yeah, she’s not giving Picasso a run for his money anytime soon. Poor girl can’t sing either. I’m wondering if that side of the brain got all screwed up by that week I had of drinking before finding out I was pregnant. Sorry kid.

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Do You Want To Have A Cocktail?

carpool confessions

Whitney from Carpool Confessions


Some people share some crazy-ass stuff with me on Twitter. I’ve gotten everything from siamese cats singing opera to men dancing only wearing socks. And usually, I just delete and move on with my life. I’m not a big “video sharing” kind of girl.

But today – that changed.

Whitney from Carpool Confessions sent me THIS VIDEO she made and I just about peed my pants.

Why?

1. It’s hilarious

2. It’s how I feel every single day of parenting

3. It’s Friday and I’m itching for a cocktail. I feel like a criminal who just got out of jail and is looking for a bank to rob.

Happy Friday, people. Remember to open the door when a desperate mother comes knocking with a martini glass in her hand. (Watch it to the end to see what I’m talking about…)

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xW5Lf3-rZA&feature=youtu.be

 

 

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What I was like in high school…

girl-hitting-boy

What I wished she did to him…

I recently went to Target. Well of course I went to freakin’ Target because that’s the address I should list as my official residence. Anyway, I went to Target and watched as a high school girl let her boyfriend say “shut up” to her over and over again. I wrote a post on Facebook about how she should dump him and date the guy who tutors the cheerleaders in Biology.

But it got me thinking.

Was I that girl in high school?

I think the answer is no. But I can say that I’d definitely be disappointed to see how I acted at times now through the lens of a mother.

I’m 39 years old. I went to high school over 20 years ago. I look back at that person and want to shake my head. I cared so much what other people thought. And yes, I know that is normal for the age but I gave up the chance to make some amazing friends with some nice, normal people because I was always trying to be something I wasn’t. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. Couldn’t figure out if I was pretty or gawky. And spent way too much time caring about stupid boys instead of the nice guys who actually liked me for my personality. I wasn’t a mean girl but I definitely wasn’t always nice.

What’s kind of interesting is that I wasn’t funny in high school. I wasn’t known as the class clown or don’t think anyone would describe me as funny.

Now, I make a living as writer, hoping to pull at people’s heartstrings while making them laugh. And I don’t care what anyone thinks. Well, that’s not true, I do care. I just don’t let it dictate who I am. People say they have no regrets in life but that’s not the case for me. I do have regrets. I regret that I didn’t say yes to more things and no to others. I know I can’t change it, but the truth is that I wish I could go back sometimes and slap my ass and say, “Go get em’ girl – you got this.”

I hope that girl in Target finds that sort of clarity soon. It would be a shame for her mouth to stay closed for any more length of time than it already has. I’m pretty sure she’s got some amazing things to say. The first would be “F’ You” to the boy next to her.

 

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The email that I will never forget. She wanted to come out to her parents and was terrified.


The Sassy Housewife - compressedWhen I approached Momaha about a writing a parenting advice column, everyone involved imagined it being a funny, entertaining way to amuse parents. Now, a year later, it’s really developed into something much more than that. The Sassy Housewife still shows humor and provides entertainment, but now people are writing in about real, meaningful problems and are truly looking for help.

I have loved seeing it change yet still stay true to the goal of using my slightly/occasionally funny voice to let others know that I’m not an expert. I’m simply a mom/wife/daughter/member of one ridiculously large Italian family who might be able to offer a different view.

With that said, the email I received a few weeks ago is one I will never forget. It’s from a 15 year old girl who is scared to come out as a lesbian to her adoring parents.

I’ve never had a teenager write to me before and I truly felt honored.

I hope you’ll check out her email and offer your support as well. Every teenager needs a community around them – gay or straight.

To read, click HERE.

 

 

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Your blogging questions answered… Part II


blogging-questionsAs promised, here is the second part to the blogging questions some of you submitted a few weeks ago. Let me state again – I am by far not an expert in blogging. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a computer, asking it to love her. Okay, okay, enough of my homage to Notting Hill.

As a reminder, if you don’t see your question featured, it simply meant that someone asked it first. Thanks again for submitting!

1. Erin from Girl Gone Veggie asked: When do you get most of your writing done? Do you have a writing process?

Yes, I have a writing process. It goes like this.

Step 1. Turn on PBS for kids

Step 2. Run to office and shut door

Step 3. Type fast

Step 4. Repeat for 2-3 shows or until my son poops his pants and I have to change him.

But seriously, I don’t really have a process as much as I keep notes on my phone about topics or things I notice that I want to write about. I write during nap times, at night, early mornings and I’m lucky enough to have a husband who takes the kids on an adventure one morning during the weekend which gives me about four hours to crank.

2. Leah from The Bauble Blog asked: Any tips for how to make money on your blog?

I get asked this question a lot. The truth is that I don’t make a lot of money from my blog per-say. Yes, I have ads on the sidebar but I made a conscious choice not to fill it with ads because I wanted to stay true to the nature of the blog – which is to be a storyteling blog.  However, the blog has been a vehicle for me to make money writing. It has opened doors to freelance opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to do without it. It has built an audience that reads other things I write. I make far more money writing freelance pieces than an ad will give me.

3. Robyn from Dim Sum and Doughnuts asked: What is your favorite time of day/day of the week to post?

Well, when do you like to read blogs? When do you sneak a peek at what’s happening on People.com? That’s the same for blogging. I usually post first thing in the morning. People love to check their email and catch up on life a bit before starting work.  There are plenty of professional sites that say not to do that but in my stats, it shows otherwise. Also, after bedtime also tends to get good numbers. I’m a big believer in not posting every single day. People bore easily. Unless you are offering some fantastic thing every day, space it out a bit. And to answer your question – my favorite day to post is Friday. Lots of people pretending to work when really reading sarcastic parenting blogs…

4. Lisa from The Golden Spoons asked: Which social media outlet drives the most traffic to your blog?

Facebook. Then Pinterest. Then Twitter. I don’t do Instagram because I can’t take a decent picture to save my life. And I also don’t do Tumblr because it bothers me that there is no “e” in the word.

I know that everyone says that Facebook doesn’t show as many posts as you’d like and that’s true but there are ways to still get people reading. Don’t just send out links to your posts. Send out fun updates. Send out pictures. And share. Sharing is the key.

5. Gretchen from Odyssey Through Nebraska and Bolton from Bolton Carley asked: What are some resources you rely on to make your blog successful?  (books, apps, people, etc…) and how do you get more people to comment on your posts?

The best resource is my blogging community. I’m part of Facebook and Twitter groups. I write for sites like Nickelodeon that is chock full of amazing writers, and I’m always tapping them and fellow bloggers for ideas and tips. The amazing thing about the blogging world is that everyone is really trying to help each other. And as for comments on posts – make them feel like they are one of your girlfriends. Don’t just talk to them. Talk with them. Take guest blogs from non-writers that share something in common with what you are writing about. Ask for quotes from people. Pose questions. Make it a community and they will give back.

 

Thanks all for the great questions. And thanks especially for reading. You guys rock.

 

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I chose not to breastfeed and lost a friend because of it…


Today is an exciting day for me. One of my dreams as a writer is to write for The Washington Post. Their parenting site, On Parenting,  is an amazing source of information and articles that cover everything from tips for parents to controversial topics that gets us all talking.

I’m thrilled to be over there today with my first piece ever for them.

And it’s one that I was terrified to put out there to such a big community but felt I had to. As you all know, I don’t shy away from rocking the boat sometimes.

Speaking of, I should probably put on my life vest before reading the comments…

It’s about how I chose not to breastfeed. Yes, I chose it. And how I lost a friend because of it.

To read it, click here.

(http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/17/i-chose-not-to-breastfeed-and-lost-a-friend-because-of-it/)

 

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My kid is never going to college if she asks me for one of these…


You know how Bed Bath & Beyond sends out their weekly ad with that big ass coupon on the back? Well this week I sat down with my cup of tea while ignoring my children and browsed through it. I stopped dead in my tracks and spit out my drink when I saw what they were advertising in the “Going to College” section.

Ya ready? Here it is…

pop up tent bubble

What the hell is a “Privacy Pop Bed Tent”?

Oh I’ll tell ya what it is. It’s a place where a horny college girl can take her captain-of-the-soccer-team boyfriend and tap that ass while her poor lonely roommate (definitely not me, of course) doesn’t have to pretend to be sleeping.

So I have two thoughts on this.

Thought #1: If I was actually a cool college student, this would be so money. Not that I really hooked up an insane amount, but every once in a blue moon I got my groove on (all clothes on, I swear Mom) and this would have been awesome for those very rare moments.

Thought #2: As a parent, I want to go to every Bed Bath & Beyond and buy them all and burn them so my daughter and son can never find one to buy. It’s bad enough we have a finished basement that I thought was a good idea for a playroom and now freak out at the thought that someday teenagers will be down there. But now businesses are giving out coupons to buy hook up beds? My poor old soul can’t take it.

And another question this advertisement begs me to ask. Why the hell is that adult guy sitting on a stupid bean bag to work? Dude, get a desk. You’re a grown up.

 

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Mommy A to Z – My interview with Meredith Peters Hale


book cover for meredith haleI love when authors reach out to me. It’s such a cool community to be part of and I’m thrilled when I get to see a really great writer publish something that is unique, fun and definitely worth reading. So when Meredith Peters Hale told me about her new book,  Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders and Absurdities of Motherhood, I asked if I could interview her so you can get a kick out of her as much as I do. And she even shared what made her self-publish, which was a bold decision seeing that she was formally an editor at a publishing house.

Plus, I love interviews – it makes me feel like a younger but not-as-hot Barbara Walters.

1. If you had to pick three words to describe the book, what would they be?

Well, I may be biased, but the first word that comes to my mind is “relatable.” Mommy A to Z focuses on the small moments we moms face each day, from battling leaky sippy cups to surviving awkward playdates to admitting to your second grader that you have no idea where Mount Everest is (it’s in the Himalayas, in case you’re wondering—and if, like me, you’re still wondering, that’s South Asia). Mommy A to Z is an honest, no-holds-barred look at day-to-day life as a mom.

The second word that I’d use to describe Mommy A to Z is “funny.” As I say in the intro, “sometimes laughter is the only barrier between motherhood and madness.” I think to survive motherhood, you have to find the humor in it all. Whether you’re pretending your kid’s imaginary friend isn’t creepy, or smiling through your third princess party of the weekend, sometimes you just have to laugh.

The final word I’d use to describe the book is “loving.” When I wrote the book, it was important to me not to come across as mean-spirited or complaining. I love being a mom, no matter how hectic or overwhelming it can be. And so I included entries like “J is for Joy,” to remind myself how truly blessed I am to be a mother.

2. What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

I think all moms who write struggle with time management. It’s difficult to explain to your five-year-old that you can’t play Barbies because you’re writing about the joys of conception (or what you remember of it). Or to tell your husband that you can’t watch House of Cards because you’re struggling to explain the complexities of sippy cups. I often found balancing work, family, and writing to be a challenging task. Frequently I managed by writing into the wee hours, after everyone else had gone to bed. It was exhausting—but absolutely worth it in the end.

3. Tell us about the publishing process. Did you have an agent or go the self-publishing route? What advice would you give to other writers from your experience?

I chose to self-publish my book as an eBook, even though (in my life before kids) I was an acquisitions editor at a publishing house and still believe in the printed book. Personally, I was excited about the prospect of controlling every aspect of the process—from the cover design to the content to the distribution. One thing I learned as an editor is how much compromise an author has to make—whether it’s accepting a cover you’re not wild about or changing the book’s title to suit the marketing department. That said, I have to warn authors considering the self-publishing route that this control is a double-edged sword. Self-publishing means navigating the labyrinth that is the iTunes store. On your own. With a toddler sitting on your laptop. It means finding and hiring the right professionals to work with you. This can be hard for a new author, and requires perseverance.

For authors considering working with an agent, I have one word for you: platform. Book publishers want to know that an author (especially a nonfiction author) already has an audience in place. Before contacting an agent, try to build up your blog, or newsletter, or whatever you use to reach readers. This will help agents interest editors in your proposal, and help editors pitch your book to the sales, marketing, and other departments at acquisitions meetings.

4. What’s the best thing about being a parent?

This isn’t a terribly original answer, but I have to say love. What surprises me most, as an only child, is the joy I take from seeing my son and daughter interact with each other. The way they love each other—even when they’re arguing over a piece of lint on the floor—inspires me every day. I never understood the whole sibling thing before my son was born, but now I totally get it.

5. What’s the worst thing about being a parent?

The laundry. The relentless, unremitting piles of laundry that mock me on a daily basis from my kids’ laundry baskets. Before I even take the clean clothes out of the dryer, the piles have resurrected like something out of The Walking Dead, determined to crush my spirit with wet towels and soiled bathing suits. Oh, and the flu isn’t much fun either.

6. What’s your favorite letter of the alphabet and why?

I really enjoyed writing “M is for Movies” (which you can read here). We’re a family of movie geeks, and my husband and I couldn’t wait to start taking my daughter to the theater. Until, that is, we discovered that whoever writes for Disney has a serious dark side. As I frequently joke, everything my daughter learned about death, she learned from Disney. That said, movies have helped us broach a lot of serious issues in our family. Recently, my daughter lost her grandmother, and she explained it to us as “Nana is in the stars with Mufasa.” Which, when you think about it, is a beautiful way of looking at things.

Also, I strangely enjoyed writing “U is for Ultrasounds,” because, for the first time, I was able to admit that I never saw anything in those damn pictures. I think there’s something therapeutic in moms sharing that we’re not perfect. And there’s lots of imperfection in Mommy A to Z!

7. If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

I wish I had more time to see friends. As we all know, being a mom – as well as a writer or a blogger – can be isolating. Nowadays, most of my real-world interaction is from behind a computer screen. I miss sitting across from girlfriends over sushi and catching up on our lives. Oh, and I’m a terrible parallel parker. I would gladly change that.

8. How can someone get your book?

Mommy A to Z is available as an eBook for only $5.99 at Amazon, Bn.com, and Apple. To learn more about the book, you can also visit MommyAtoZ.com or the Mommy A to Z blog.

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