To the nurses, doctors and staff at the Children’s Hospital…

son hospital with dadYou probably won’t remember us. To you, it was just a normal day of work. Taking vitals, communicating to parents, and doing all the necessary paperwork and checklist items that are part of being a nurse, staff member or doctor.

But to us, it was the day I was anxious about for weeks. It was the day where my 4 year-old son would have to go under anesthesia. And although I knew his procedure was minor, I still woke up with a pit in my stomach and a desire to cancel it immediately.

And somehow, with dozens of other patients around, you made us feel like we were the most important people in the world. You talked to us like there was no time limit, no other place you needed to be. You put a ID badge of Honeybear, my son’s favorite stuffed animal, so he would feel less scared. You found blue band-aids because that’s his favorite color.

With each and every one of you that came into our room, we found comfort.

It takes a special person to work with children. It takes a VERY special person to work with their parents. Their scared, nervous and terrified parents.

So thank you to the nurses, doctors and staff of Omaha’s Children’s Hospital. You made a scary day one that went with ease. You provided comfort when I didn’t think that would ever be possible.

You did however tell my kid that there’s a Tube Fairy so you owe me a few bucks for that one, but we’ll call it even. Peace of mind and amazing kindness is worth all the money in the world…

Thank you.

 

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My goal in life

Everybody has goals in their life. Milestones we try to meet to make ourselves feel a sense of accomplishment. A sense of worth.

What’s mine, you ask?

Okay, I’ll tell you. I’m putting it all out there for you. The real, hard, honest truth.

My goal in life is to stay far away from the person who raises their hand first when the teacher asks if anyone has any questions.

Feel free to embrace it for your own life goal as well. I’m an awesome sharer like that.

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5 Things NOT to Do When Prepping Your Child for Kindergarten

mom and girlAs a parent, you read so many articles and posts about things to do and say when your little one goes to Kindergarten. So, of course, I had to do things a little differently.

I’m over on Parenting.com today with a list of the 5 Things NOT to Do When Prepping Your Child for Kindergarten.

Check it out and I’d love it if you shared it with someone that might be getting ready for that big first day! I seriously wish someone did for me last year. Might have saved me from bribing her with a new Barbie…

To read, click HERE!

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I would read her journal. And I’m a hypocrite for that.

diaryWhen I was 19 years old, I brought my first serious boyfriend home to meet my family. He was a nice, Italian boy and I knew they’d love him. We weren’t actually having sex so this story will be even more entertaining.

I have written in a journal since I was a kid. Seriously, even as a wee little girl, my first journal was a composition notebook that I decorated in Lisa Frank stickers.

And my family knew I had it and respected that privacy.

My brother never snooped, and my parents always turned a blind eye.

But then there was my grandmother.

She lived with us in the apartment above my room. And being nosy came as natural to her as breathing.

And one night, while visiting from college with that new boyfriend they all loved, she took it upon myself to read my journal. My COLLEGE journal. So you can imagine the stories that were in that baby.

We came home from shooting pool to find my entire family sitting at the kitchen table and my journal smack in the center of the table. Next to the Entenmann’s coffee cafe and a pot of Earl Grey tea.

“You’ve had sex!” my grandmother declared loudly and with her hands smacking the table like a scene out of a John Grisham movie.

No joke, this really happened.

And my poor boyfriend excused himself to the bathroom, and I stood there horrified that everyone now knew my private life. I felt completely and utterly violated.

So much so that I didn’t talk to my grandmother for a few weeks after that.

Now, fast forward twenty something years, and I’m a mother of a 6 year old girl and recently a friend asked if I would read her journal someday. My instinct, of course, was to say no.

But I’m not sure that’s the truth.

I’m not sure if I was faced with a teenager that I could resist the temptation to know what was happening beyond what she tells me.

I want us to have the kind of relationship where she’d share anything with me, but then we also need boundaries and limits.

In my heart though, I think the truth is that I would read it. Of course, I wouldn’t put it in the middle of the kitchen table, though I do love the idea of eating more Entenmann’s, but I can’t say that I could just leave the book alone and never crack open a page.

Do I hate myself a bit for thinking I’d read the journal? Yep.

Am I a hypocrite? Yep.

But it’s the real answer. I wish I could say that I’ll trust my teenage daughter completely, but I know what I did as a teenager and am petrified.

So maybe I’ll just do this. Maybe I have a chat with her first grade teacher and stop this whole “being able to write” thing right now. That seems the perfect way to avoid this whole damn situation someday… Then we can just sit at the kitchen table with mouths full of Entenmann’s coffee cake and talk about Dora the Explorer when she’s 19. Sounds perfect to me.

 

 

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How to make the perfect lemonade stand with your kids…

1. Be excited that as a parent your child is motivated to earn their own money and become a small business owner. Tell them how proud of them you are for coming up with this idea and taking their financial situation into their own hands.

2. Look in cabinet and curse loudly and profusely when you realize you agreed to this plan without actually having any lemonade or cups.

3. Go to grocery store for lemonade and cups. Walk out having spent $150 and six bags of groceries.

4. As children are attempting to make lemonade inside , carry out a folding table and two heavy-as-bloody-hell chairs outside in 92 degree heat.

5. Return to the kitchen to find a mound of lemonade powder on the floor, a puddle of water on the step stool and two children who think it is hilarious to dunk their heads into the pitcher to drink directly from it.

6. Together, though really mostly by yourself, clean up mess and fill pitcher with lemonade.

7. Carry all items to table, only to spill numerous times and have to stop when one child hits the other child with the bag of cups.

8. While both children sit in time-out, spend 20 minutes searching for the markers and poster board from the spot you hid them in last time your son drew penises all over his sister’s arm.

9. Have children make signs and stand over them so they don’t write “Lemonass” instead of “Lemonade.”

10. Just as the very first customer walks up, realize that you are still in your pajamas and now you are flashing the new elderly neighbor man your goodies.

11. Feel embarrassed until you realize he just gave your kids a $2 tip.

12. Go inside, change clothes, pour cup of coffee and sit down to read the paper for… 2 minutes. Until the kids come running in asking for more lemonade.

13. Repeat 4 more times until finally they say those words that every parent dreads, “I’m bored. I’m done with the lemonade stand.”

14. Add vodka to you cup of lemonade and go back to reading the newspaper.

lemonade and salami2This is what happens when you ask your kids to smile for a “Nice Lemonade Stand Picture”

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A little bit taller. A little bit wiser. A whole lot more happy.

Addi first day of 1st gradeYesterday was my daughter’s first day of first grade.

One year ago, she held tightly on to my leg, begging me to not let her go. Not to leave her as she entered a new school, new classroom, new teacher and a new life.

I tried not to cry as I peeled her off of me and let her teacher walk her inside.

I felt broken. Like a failure.

I tried to do all the things to prepare her for Kindergarten. We read the books, we played pretend games about school, we even went for a classroom visit.

But what I learned afterwards was that it didn’t matter. It was totally and completely normal for her to feel petrified. Heck, I was petrified too.

So when the first day of first grade came yesterday, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Just as the year before, she was giddy on the walk there. She wore her favorite new outfit, proudly showed off her favorite new hairdo, and twirled to show her new Wonder Woman backpack. (side note: how freakin’ cool is that??? A Wonder Woman backpack!!)

And when we got to the front doors of the school, I braced myself for what would come next. I had tissues in my pocket, a lollipop as bribery for later, and a note I would slip into her hands if needed.

But it wasn’t tears that I saw, it was a smile. A big, huge smile that showed that empty adorable spot where she lost her first tooth weeks before.

We kissed, hugged and high-fived. Then she was gone.

Just like that.

In one year she grew a little bit taller, a little bit wiser, and whole lot more happy. Actually, I think we both did. Okay, maybe not the taller part for me but you know, the other stuff…

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A proud mother. Why I cried at my daughter’s first triathlon…

My daughter is a cautious person. She needs to warm up to situations, is hesitant to try new things and finds a safe spot crouched next to me with her arms wrapped around my leg.

When with close friends, she transforms into a leader who laughs a bellowing roar and chants, “Girls rule, boys drool.” But when that comfort zone is not around her, she is timid.

This has been challenging for me at times. “Timid” is not a word that I think has ever been used to describe me.

But this has been a year of firsts for my girl that have filled her with a new sense of confidence. This year she moved to lap lane in swimming where she is gearing up for swim team. This year she learned to ride a bike without training wheels.  And this year she completed her first kids triathlon.

On Saturday, with a thunderstorm looming and my son’s birthday party later in the day, we all went out in the dark of the morning for my daughter to participate in her first triathlon. We practiced transitions from swim to bike to run with her, we got all the gear she’d need, and we talked up the race every single day.  But as we waited the two hours for the older kids to finish before her turn, she clung to my leg a little harder and told me she loved me a few too many times. She was nervous but trying to keep it together.

And then it was her turn.

From the second she jumped into the water, my heart soared. My daughter transformed into the most confident human being I have ever seen. She dominated that swim. Crushed that bike ride. And ran to the finish with the biggest smile on her face.

I can honestly say that I never felt so proud of someone in my entire life.

It wasn’t because she did a sport or anything like that. It was because she was afraid of something and conquered that fear with confidence and a fire I hadn’t seen before.

All day I would find myself just looking over at her and smiling. She might be wearing the finalist medal but I feel like I won that day. I won the chance to see my girl shine.

Shine on, sweet baby.

kids tri pictures

(PS. The triathlon was the Hy-Vee Pinky Swear Kids Triathlon. They are an AMAZING organization doing their part to help those families fighting childhood cancer. So so impressed by them. If they come to your city, definitely jump in and be part of it all. You won’t regret it.)

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What to expect when your child goes to Kindergarten…

first day of kindergartenLast year at this time, I was feeling all kinds of emotions.

Terrified

Excited

Nervous

Joyful

Frustrated

Why?

Because my first child was going to Kindergarten. I was a ball of mixed emotions and uncertainty. I wondered how she’d adjust. I wondered how I’d adjust.

And together, we learned.

With that knowledge, I decided to help others. I mean, I’d come deliver a mommy mimosa if I could, but the logistics of that seemed impossible. How do you keep it cold? How would I not drink it in route?

So instead, I decided to write about it.

Come check out my latest post on The Washington Post’s On Parenting section for 5 Things To Expect When Your Child Goes to Kindergarten.

I’d love it if you checked it out and maybe it shared it with someone who can use just a wee bit of reassurance (and probably a cocktail…)

Thanks!

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Divorce book project update

divorce book updateThree months ago, I shared my newest project with you. A book in which I chronicle the lives of 15 women going through their first year of divorce. (You can read the original post HERE.)

When I first put the call out on the blog and social media, I was completely humbled by the response. Over 150 women contacted me and from that, I interviewed 50 women as possible candidates for the book. I spent 20 – 30 minutes talking to each of those 50 women via phone/skype and even Google hangouts (that’s a whole new form of video I’m learning!) I was then able to pick the final 15 that I would spend the next year interviewing and chronicling.

I am now in the midst of getting to know those 15 women and am completely and utterly blown away. This project means more to me than just a book, it’s truly investing in relationships with these women and being an ear to hear all their emotions. Their fears, their anxieties, their joy.

They tell me about their hardest days and they tell me about their laughter. They share about what they can’t even tell their closest girlfriends. Or what they wish they could say to their children.

And through it all, I’m honored. I’m honored to be their voice.

Every time I get off the phone with one of them, I sit for a few minutes and breath it all in. The gift I’ve been given to tell their stories. And I don’t take it for granted.  These are women who have to find babysitters in order to talk to me, that are sneaking off to their cars during work hours just to have privacy. These are real women living real lives.

Just wait, people. It’s only the start of their journeys, and the start of my own as their storyteller, but I’m already in love with this project.

There’s a world behind divorce that people aren’t talking about. The world that can show happiness, relief, excitement. Things beyond sadness and loss. There are things people are scared to admit and things that show hope. I’m so excited to share all of that with you!

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An amazing resource for writers! Manuscript Wish List – #MSWL

mswlOne of the cool things about my literary agent, Jessica Sinsheimer, is that she is pretty forward-thinking when it comes to publishing. She has created videos and Q&A sessions about the ins and outs of publishing and querying agents. I love that about her. That she’s actually trying to HELP writers. To give them more opportunities to get their work noticed by the right people.

And one of her coolest ideas yet is blowing up.

She, KK Henden and Kelsey McKim created a site called Manuscript Wish List. It’s the mecca for all writers. It’s a place to find out what types of work agents and editors are interested in. You can search by genre, by name of agent/editor, and even find out which ones accept direct submissions. Pretty damn cool, right?

This is seriously awesome for anyone querying right now. Makes life 10,000 times easier.

Just had to share because not only am I proud of my agent, but also because I know many of you are writers and would appreciate a cool resource like this.

Check it out. http://manuscriptwishlist.com/

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Flat Martini helped Kristen get her groove back!


He’s back! And WOW! Our little cocktail of love not only got his groove on, he helped Kristen Daukas get hers on as well!  Kristen is the awesome blogger behind Ten to Twenty Parenting – a site that is chock-full of insanely helpful parenting information. Seriously, check it out. It’s awesome. And you can find Kristen on Twitter and Facebook too. Go tell her I said hi!

Without further ado – here’s Flat’s adventures with Kristen!

kristen ten to twenty

There’s a running joke among moms that the only thing that gets them thru the day is Mommy Juice, which can come in a variety of flavors, but most typically it’s wine. Mommy Juice is a perfectly good remedy when your kids are younger and their needs largely revolve around schedules, play dates and breaking bad habits like binkies.

But just you wait dear mommy friends. There’s going to come a time when you’re going to need to call in the big guns to get your bearings about you and that special time is called the teenage years.  You will be trading in your wine for a much stronger elixir – a double vodka martini, extra dry. Shaken. Not stirred. You will want that martini firmly in your manicured hands as you cry to your husband, your friends and even the checkout lady at the Harris Teeter (if you think she’ll listen) about the this strange, new creature who looks a lot like the sweet baby you birthed but who’s suddenly turned into a creature with more mood swings than that ride at the fall fair. And you will wish for the days when you were stressed out  over whether Junior should play soccer or softball this spring.

Or you can do what I did and grab that martini and get the hell out of dodge to restore your sanity and your marriage…leaving nothing more than a trail of dust behind!

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“Fend for yourself kiddies!!! You’re teens now and according to you, I know nothing and you know everything!! HAHAHAHA!! Have fun and I’ll catch ya on the flipside!!!”

Okay.. so I didn’t really leave the teenies to themselves, but I did get the hell out of dodge for a couple of trips this year.. believe me when I tell you that the smartest thing you can EVER do for yourself is to leave your kids and possibly your partner and get some YOU time. Nothing makes you remember that you are not just a taxi driver, bill payer, schedule organizer than taking a break. Perfect timing for Flat Martini to show up on my doorstep and since he doesn’t talk back or cost me money – the perfect traveling companion.

Talking Stick Resort

Hey Flat! How’d you like to go to Talking Stick Resort in Scottsdale, AZ?? That’s a loooooong way from Winston-Salem, NC!! Mom and Dad … errr… Steve and Kristen have an anniversary to celebrate and some workie-work stuff to do! We promise to protect you from the pricks and you might even get to meet a few babes!!

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Apparently, Talking Stick is THE place to party in the summer time. Something that we old people don’t know about are these epic pool parties that are THE place to be seen. Did you know that people will follow DJs around like groupies?? It’s TRUE!!! Kinda like we did with bands in the 90’s.. apparently if you get a HOT DJ to spin for your party, all the cool kids will be there. Unfortunately for us, we had to leave before crashing one of these pool parties. Flat was sad…

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… until we went to a different kind of party where there was a celebration of Native American culture. Meeting Indian chiefs and other members of their tribes was an awesome way to end the time in Arizona and leave the next day for Sin City, baby!!

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What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas…

Apparently Flat had the kind of trip to Vegas that makes it a favorite adult playground. We left the proof that we were there on the floors of the casino. Read: I can’t find any of the photos that I took of Flat’s good time in Vegas, but don’t you worry.. a good time was had by all!

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Baby, I’m a STAR!!

What happens when you’re called on to do a podcast, you pack up your mic and your martini and you give the people what they want!  It’s always a good time with the boys from The Less Desirables show and this time was no exception.  At times poor Flat felt out of place with all the craft beer in the room, but when you’ve been around as long as a classic like a martini, you pretty much own the room.

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Bahama Mama!

Ahh… another classic cocktail and another escape from the crazy teens except this escape was with my mom. Further proof that you WILL survive the teenage years and you will still love your kids no matter what terror they put you thru for a few years.

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I have to confess though.. no actual Bahama Mamas or martinis were consumed on this trip.. this was a trip fueled by mojitos and wine. It’s a cruise, yo.. what would you expect?!

Sadly, my time with Flat Martini has come to an end.. there are no more sanity-saving trips planned for this year and considering the amount of travel we did this year – maybe not next year either.

Nah… that can’t happen because as I said in the beginning…sometimes you just have to get away from it all and remind yourself that you are still a pretty cool person. No matter what your teenage kids may say!!

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Haters gonna hate, hate hate…. Shake it off.


Life works in some very ironic ways at times.

While talking to some bloggers new to blogging this past weekend, I got asked, “What happens when you get a hateful comment?”

I told them that I laugh.

I laugh at the stupidity of it all. Because just as it’s been proven through America’s Funniest Home Videos, sometimes stupid is entertaining.

Then, today this theory got tested.

Parenting.com printed an article I wrote about choosing not to breastfeed. You can read the article here.

And of course, the haters came out.

But one hater in particular came out and called me a “hoe”.

And did I laugh?

Oh my word – did I ever!

First of all, I laughed at the spelling. I’ve never been called a gardening tool in anger so it was very entertaining.

Then I laughed at the fact that she called me a “nasty hoe” for giving my child formula. Now, I did fool around a bit in college but I don’t think I ever got to “hoe” level and considering that I’m only sleeping with one man now in life, I think my chances of getting that high on the slut food chain are quite low.

So trust me, bloggers and writers, when I tell you that Taylor Swift was actually on to something. No, not about that bright red lipstick she’s always wearing, but rather about shaking it off.

And so, to the person who called me a “hoe” – this is for you.

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Bagels, bloggers and bad headshots – 5 Highlights from BlogHer15!


Remember in college when you would have those all night parties and the next day you would sleep until it was time to wake up for dinner?

That’s basically what I feel like today.

Except instead of sleeping all day, I have two humans who actually want to eat food, have me open crap or find a lost item of clothing that they are actually holding, and basically demand that I function as a parent.

So while they are entertained for what will probably be 3 minutes, I thought I’d share my BlogHer15 highlights.

Highlight #1

Being an on-air reporter for Moms Everyday. I absolutely loved stopping bloggers who were mothers to talk about everything from birth control to single parenting. Thank you to all who let a strange girl with a microphone pull you aside for a few minutes and invade your privacy.

Highlight #2

Hanging with blogger friends. If you don’t have a blogger friend, go out and make one. They are hilarious, up for an adventure and guaranteed to attempt to take selfies while laughing hysterically.

blogher4

Highlight #3

Getting to do a private in-depth interview with Lisa Stone, co-founder of BlogHer and Brianna Wu, Head of Development at Giant Spacekat. Incredible women making big differences in the world.

Highlight #4

Eating my way through Manhattan. From a nutella restaurant in Eately to pasta in Little Italy – my muffin top thanks New York by currently spilling over my jeans.

Highlight #5

Speaking at BlogHer about Twitter. So cool to meet new bloggers and share my experiences and advice. But I couldn’t help cracking up when I walked into the room and this was on the screen. Seems one of these headshots is not like the other….

blogher6

 

I could go on and on about the weekend. From amazing friends to hilarious conversations to awesome networking opportunities, it was a blast. So thank you BlogHer and Moms Everyday – I come home feeling inspired by the women I met and can’t wait until our paths cross again soon.

 

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I’m off to BlogHer! Watch out New York!


blogher speaker badgeTwo years ago, I was new to blogging and decided to attend my first blogging conference. Not to do anything half-assed, I picked the largest blogging conference I could find – BlogHer.

It was 5,000 bloggers – almost all women – gathered together for an intense three days of learning, laughing and libations! I was overwhelmed, exhausted and invigorated to really bring my writing to a new level.

I treasured that experience. I met some amazing women that I built friendships with that have endured. I learned so much that a notebook was filled from front to back, and I gained a confidence and a community.

And now, two years later, I’m going back. But this time as a speaker.

I’m leading a workshop on Twitter and how to build a community and not feel overwhelmed by the world of 140 characters.

And what’s even better is that I also get to go and be part of tapings for Moms Everyday. We’ll be taping interviews with parents and bloggers for their amazing new 30 minute television show, as well as for their website. I’m so excited!

So New York – here I come! And the icing on the cake is that I’m taking a plane ride without children, fruit snacks or a purse full of extra underwear and wipes.

Okay, so I’ll probably keep an extra pair of underwear in my purse but they’ll be mine. Ya know, drinking and laughing after kids is a risky endeavor for the bladder….

If you are a blogger/writer heading to BlogHer – I hope to meet you and enjoy some fun and merriment together. Heck, I’ll even throw in an extra pair of underwear for you too….

 

 

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I’m living with the gray hair. My end to hair dying.

gray hair

Two years ago. When the grays started their vicious attack…

Most women get excited on the day they get their hair cut and colored. But the past few times, dropping $120 and seeing grays again in 3 weeks hasn’t left me feeling that exciting. Plus, the past two times, in an attempt to make the dye last longer, my colorist has made my hair darker than I would prefer. As shocking as this is to hear, I’m actually not attempting to look like a goth-girl so the super dark hair might not be the look I’m going for these days.

So I made a decision today. The day I should be bouncing around the house with beautiful newly cut and colored hair.

I’m done.

I’m done dying my hair. If grays want to be part of my life so badly that they are willing to push their way through so quickly, then I believe it is my duty as their head of choice to give them the chance.

Will I look older? Probably.

Do I care? A little. But not so much anymore.

Of course I care about how I look, but I started to think about why I color. I color because I’m afraid I’ll look old.

But what would I look like if I just embraced the grays? Probably a lot more satisfied and at peace.

And with more money for wine.

And I realized that I’m not coloring so my husband will find me attractive – heck, I hit the lottery with him, he finds me attractive with a Goldfish cracker stuck to my ass.

No, I was doing it for me. And probably how other people viewed me. I was doing it so I didn’t look old.

But I am old. Not “ready to use Depends” old (though those do sound appealing for a night of drinking). The kind of old that has realized that confidence doesn’t have to be tied to youth-looking. That I can be confident AND beautiful with patches of grays throughout my head.

So here we go.

I’m writing it here so I don’t chicken out and sneak to the colorist in 8 weeks. It’s time to stop faking it and start living it.

You and me grays. We’ll show the world what real beauty looks like.

And we’ll maybe part my hair on the other side that isn’t so gray… Ya know, just to ease our way into this whole thing…

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