My Other Ex – My interview with the contributors of this new anthology


my other ex bookOne thing I love to do is support bloggers when they write books. It’s a tough transition to go from blogger to book writer so I applaud those who take the risk and put themselves out there. So when I saw that some of my favorite bloggers contributed to an awesome anthology, I reached out and asked if I feature them. Yep, it was ME who reached out. Normally authors reach out to bloggers but I loved it so much I wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

The anthology is called My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends. It’s the book about how in life we sometimes have to choose to put ourselves first and end what could be an unhealthy friendship.  At the heart of each essay is the recognition from each writer that she has lost something very real and very personal, a connection that will never be forgotten. You will hurt at their pain and smile at their triumphs. It’s definitely a book to pull at your heart strings.

I interviewed four of the contributors and played a little game with them. Hell, I still have to see the humor in things, even in serious matter! The four bloggers were Suzanne Barston from Fearless Formula Feeder, Angela Amman, Shannan Ball Younger from Mom Factually, Kristin Vanderhey Shaw from Two Cannoli and Meredith Napolitano from From Meredith to Mommy.

Hi ladies! How about you tell me how you got involved in the My Other Ex project?

MEREDITH: I heard about My Other Ex when the editors shared the idea for the project in one of my blogging groups. I knew I had stories to share, and I knew it would be a good process for me to write them down.

SHANNAN: I first found out about The HerStories Project after editor Stephanie Sprenger and I connected by writing for the same website and were both in Listen to Your Mother casts in 2013, her in Denver and me in Chicago.

What’s the one sentence you’d love your ex friend to say to you if you saw her/him on the street and she/he stopped you?

ANGELA: “I understand.”

KRISTIN: “I’m sorry that I stopped responding to you and ended our friendship so abruptly. I know it hurt you.”

What was the hardest thing about writing your story?

SUZANNE: The pain it brought up. I had sort of been in denial about the demise of our close bond, brushing it off by pretending it was about distance or business or whatever. But as I wrote, I realized just how real this division was.

MEREDITH: The hardest thing was remembering the story when I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life closing off that part of my memory. In addition, I had to wonder if these women would ever read it and I wanted to make sure I wrote a fair account of the situation, just in case I was ever confronted about it (Spoiler alert: I was).

OK, now I have to lighten the mood a bit, tell me the first thing that pops into your head when I say this word. And of course, we want to know why the heck it popped into your head!

  1. Word: PIG

SUZANNE: Needles. When I was little I went to a sleepaway farm camp and one of my duties was to help give shots to sick pigs.

  1. Word: VODKA

KRISTIN: Pumpkin martini. Yesterday, my friend Erin posted a list of all of the available pumpkin products available, and the pumpkin vodka caught my eye to make martinis at my annual pumpkin carving party.

  1. Word: LAUGH

SHANNAN: Loud.  This popped to mind because I met someone at Starbucks today for the first time, and I laughed at one point and was embarrassed by just how loud my laugh was.  Oops.

  1. Word: DINNER

ANGELA: Again? Lately, dinnertime in our house is an exercise in my most delicate negotiation techniques. I’m fairly certain I’m losing.

  1. Word: BELIEVE

MEREDITH: Journey. Don’t judge me.

Thank you so much ladies – you rock! And thank you to Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger for daring to put this anthology together. It’s the risk takers that get the world talking. Hope you’ll all check it out. To find out more, go to their website or purchase on Amazon HERE.

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I have to learn to accept her for who she is…


introvert girlI’m struggling.

My almost six-year-old daughter is the most beautiful soul I have ever met in a girl. She is kind, loving and wants to please everyone. I love her deeply.

But I don’t understand her.

She is so different from me.

She is shy, introverted and scared to try anything new. So scared she often seems paralyzed by fear.

I’ve spent the past years trying to pull her out of her shell. Sometimes through tough love and other times with a strong, softer touch. But in the end, she still clings to my leg and cries at the hint of independence.

This past weekend we visited close friends who moved to a new city. They have two young children as well and they watched as my daughter cried hysterically when she couldn’t do the balance bike and felt left behind by the rest of the kids, or when we asked her to reach out and play with their cousins joining us for dinner and she nervously stood behind me. They saw how uncomfortable I was and how she struggled.

And as we stood in their kitchen while our children all slept that night, my friend said a phrase that I can’t stop thinking about.

“You have to accept her for who she is.”

Funny, you hear that about such serious things like someone’s sexual orientation or career choices, but you never think about it in smaller, specific contexts. My daughter is an introvert and has a very hesitant cautious personality. I need to accept that and use a kinder approach. I need to truly know that she isn’t like me. That the things that come naturally to me might not come naturally to her. And I have to be okay with that. I’m just not sure how.

What I do know is that I would do anything to see her smile. And the idea that I might not be giving her the opportunity to do that by being too tough kills me.

So I’m going to try.

I’m going to try to put myself in her shoes more. I’m going to let her stand behind me and stop telling her to be outgoing. I’m still going to challenge her to try new things but I want to be kinder. Kinder to the fact that she has to find her own way – that my way isn’t the only way.

I’m okay with her knowing that, but my husband better not go finding out my way isn’t always the best. I’ve worked hard to pull off that illusion for the past eight years. This kid better not go screwing that up.

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My BIG news! I HAVE AN AGENT!!!

typewriter

The inspirational typewriter in my office…

If you have been a reader of Martinis and Minivans for a while now, you probably know that I recently completed my first novel. It was an amazing process that provided a unique kind of therapy after my grandmother passed. Considering one of the main characters is a grandmother figure, she was present in every key I typed and every word I put on the page.

And when I finished it, I started querying agents. I received such amazing feedback and interest and was beginning to start the revision process for the second time when an interesting call came my way.

One of the agents whom I queried, the illustrious Jessica Sinsheimer from the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, said that she wanted to offer me representation.

But not for my novel.

She had read my freelance work and my blog and felt my voice was the right fit to pen a non-fiction narrative. That we would work on it together. Build it from the ground up.

She believed in me and what I could write.

So I sat on it for a week. I contacted some of the other interested agents, I talked my husband’s ear off until I finally realized he was secretly watching ESPN on his phone as I rattled on and on, and I spent a lot of time pacing my office while listening to that damn catchy “All About That Bass” song.

And after four days, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating. But I realized it was not from nervousness or anxiety – it was from excitement. I turned on my computer and couldn’t stop writing.

I knew what I had to do.

I called up Jessica Sinsheimer and accepted her offer.

And so now it begins.

And what is this book about, you ask?

It’s about being the girl who once told her parents that her lifetime ambition was to take lovers throughout Europe–which now, frankly, sounds exhausting–and how she eventually transformed into a mother who longed to figure out how to turn an ice cream truck into a vehicle that sells wine to fellow stressed out mothers in the middle of the afternoon. But, mostly, it’s a humor book about the challenges and hilarity of charting your own path–even when that means no longer being afraid to live in the strange, and often terrifying, foreign country called “parenthood.”

And my goal is to make people laugh their asses off. (Though, by the size of my ass these days, it obviously is only working on others and not myself.)

I hope you’ll join me on this journey. Because in the end, my goal is exactly what it was when I started this blog – to have you laughing and crying all at the same time. And to show you a different side of parenting – the ones mothers usually only talk about when they’ve had a few glasses of wine and an overnight babysitter. The side about what it means to be yourself–a woman–an individual spirit–in a culture that tries to make it all about the kids and (only when you have time) your husband.

It’s about finding your own kind of martini to drink, the one that only you know how to make, and enjoying it after a long day of carting the kids around in a minivan filled with crushed Goldfish crackers and melted fruit snacks–and knowing that, when you get home and the kids are all asleep – you are still that same girl who dreamed of taking lovers in Europe. (Only now it’s just one lover, and you’re not in Paris but rather Omaha, Nebraska, and you dream of doing it with your yoga pants on in time to watch Dancing With The Stars. Yeah.)

So wish me luck and stay tuned – the fun is just starting!

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A letter to my muffin top


letter-to-muffin-topDear Muffin Top,

Don’t fret. This isn’t goodbye. I’m not writing you to tell you about a new exercise plan I’m beginning or a diet I’m starting that would cause you to wither away day by day. No, you can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that we are together for life.

However, I’m writing to let you know that you aren’t going to be an only child anymore.

You see, sweet muffin top of mine, they are putting a Dunkin Donuts one mile from our home.

I know you are confused and can’t imagine a world where you don’t get all the attention. But the time has come for you to share the fat on this body. My thighs and ass are ready to plump up. They are ready to fill with the delicious icing that is shot into creme-puff donuts. They have been waiting their whole life to feel the weight of fried dough pulsing in their veins.

But don’t panic. I still love you. I will always love you in the unique way you love your first born. But now you must learn what it means to share. To watch as another part of the body learns how to get squished and shoved into pants. You will be a role-model to them. The thighs and ass will look to you on how to stick out properly and of course, how to be used as a shelf for holding beverages when in the sitting position.

So take a deep breath and get ready. Your world is about to change but know that you aren’t going anywhere. I’ll never abandon you.

Love,

Your donut-loving body

 

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When Simon Says goes very very wrong…


simon says caution sign“Hey, mommy, guess what?” my daughter asks, holding my hand as we walk home from school.

“What’s that sweetie?”

“When I had a turn at playing Simon Says with the girls, I made everyone laugh by telling them to touch their vaginas.”

It’s as if the music came to a screeching halt at a nightclub.

“Uh…uhm…what did you just say?” I gulp down the lump in my throat and look around to see if any other parent just heard what my child said a bit too loudly to me.

“Yeah, you can really make people laugh a lot when you tell them to touch their vagina.”

Oh dear Lord, I think. Did she really say that? Did my daughter really get the girls in her class to touch their private parts during a friendly game of Simon Says?

“So…uh…did the teacher happen to see this?” I ask, begging for the answer to be no. Please let it be no.

“Nah, she was telling some boys not to hit each other.”

All I can think of in that moment is how much I am grateful that little boys like to smack the life out of each other at recess.

After a few minutes of trying to get my breath back, I begin the talk with her about how we don’t use our private parts as a way to make people laugh and then attempt to answer the many “why” questions she asks following that decree.

But in the end, she is smiling and laughing about going to school, and if you followed my adventures I wrote about for The Washington Post, you’ll know that’s quite an accomplishment.

So I’m thinking, heck, if it takes a group of girls all touching their privates to have a great day, I’ll take it. But man I hope that tomorrow they let someone else lead the game. Or at least I hope the boys keep smacking each other so the teacher doesn’t figure it out anytime soon.

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My weekend as an on-air personality…


I wear casual clothes almost every day of my life. Makeup consists of a little bit of blush and sometimes, if I’m feeling wild and floozy, a bit of mascara.

I had a glimpse into the world of broadcasting this weekend when I was asked to be on a panel for the new 30 minute programming being filmed for Moms Everyday. I flew to Colorado and joined four amazing professional moms and we spent three days filming six shows to air on different stations across the country.

I felt so lucky to be there. Especially because I didn’t have a freakin’ clue what I was doing. Luckily, they all were patient and had pity on me when I constantly asked, “Do I talk now? How about now? Now?”

But harder than reading from a teleprompter, or trying not to look at the hair out of place on your head in the monitor above you, was the fact that for three days, I had to be a grown-up professional in my appearance. No yoga pants. No flip flops and definitely no Goldfish cracker stuck to my ass. And when the show wrapped, I was exhausted. Not from the work but from having to look somewhat decent for that long.

Hats off to those in broadcasting – it’s a lot of makeup and a lot of hair products. And what’s even harder, it’s a lot of slow talking – an action I’m completely incapable of doing.

But you know what? I had a blast. I loved watching something awesome come together with a group of powerful, amazing women. It was such a female-empowering experience. I learned from these ladies and appreciated the hard work of the folks behind-the-scenes.

I must admit, I dreamed of going on that microphone from the control room and pretending to be God talking down to everyone. They did humor me though and let me change the words on the teleprompter for one of the ladies and got her to talk about swinging and sleeping with multiple partners.

Gotta love an experience that embraces a good practical joke…

Plus, I stalked, I mean, nicely chatted while she tried to get quickly away in the elevator, with Amber Rose in our hotel. She was very pleasant and can seriously wrote a crew cut. Plus, you gotta see her latest dress for the MTV Video Music Awards – google it. Damn.

And on top of that, I got to try out hair extensions, courtesy of Bao Vang, one of the panelists, who let me borrow hers for some fun after the shoot. I’m definitely getting some of those for my 40th birthday next month. Nothing says “I’m not old” like trying to look like a 20 year-old.

Here’s some pics from the insanity…

 

Thank you – to all the ladies of Moms Everyday and the amazing crew – you gave me a weekend I’ll never forget. And neither will my poor little toes who currently hate me for attempting to wear heels. I’ll send you the podiatry bill…

 

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Is she taller? The final post in my series for The Washington Post’s On Parenting…

It’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. My daughter started kindergarten and I feel like I’ve been holding my breath ever since. I’ve held her as she’s cried, ignored her as she whined and tried to encourage her when she felt scared. It’s truly been a roller coaster.

But today, something happened.

I believe she might have grown taller.

Come read what I mean in my final post in my kindergarten series for The Washington Post’s On Parenting site.

And thank you for reading along and being part of the journey. Your comments of support and encouragement have been wonderful. I know there are more serious things in the world to talk about but thank you for making me always feel like my anxieties mattered.

To read, click HERE.

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Maybe tomorrow will be great… The latest in my series for The Washington Post’s parenting site


first week of kindergartenMy daughter has always had a spark about her. Something that made her eyes glisten just that extra bit. You know the one I’m talking about – ALL our kids have it. But to us, their parents, they shine a bit brighter.

Right now, my daughter’s spark is missing and I’m feeling a bit lost.

Come read my latest in the special series for The Washington Post’s parenting site, On Parenting.

To read, click HERE.

 

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The world’s best game you can play with your kids


best game to play with kidsMany a time I have had to be the sick animal patient as my children pretend to be Doc McStuffins. I’ve been everything from a bear with a prickle bush in his side, to a dragon who can’t seem to breathe fire. And after about ten minutes, I usually wish I had just bought them a pony or something so I’d never have to stick my tongue out while various miscellaneous unclean tools are shoved inside of it.

So this weekend, I came up with the world’s most brilliant game.

I probably should receive a national parenting award for this one.

It’s called “Hotel.”

Here’s the concept:

You find a very large comfy couch with your favorite blanket, pillow and a book you’ve been dying to read for months.

You move it close to the play kitchen.

You put a bell on the pillow next to your couch.

You then tell them that you are a guest at the hotel and they need to be your hotel staff.

Then, you spend the next 40 minutes being waited on while you read your book on the couch and ring a bell every few minutes so they can come clean up your Little Debbie Snack Cake. You close your eyes while they sing horribly out of tune lullabies to you but it doesn’t matter because your eyes are closed. I repeat – for five minutes you ACTUALLY get to close your eyes.

And that folks – is hotel.

The world’s best game you can play with your kids.

I’m working on a patent for it shortly.

And also, I’m over at NickMom today with the evolution of jeans. What your jeans goes through from childhood to motherhood – my poor poor jeans… To read, click HERE.

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Is spanking children okay or not?


morning blend augustOnce a month I have the great pleasure of being a panelist on Omaha’s The Morning Blend to talk about parenting topics. Imagine The View but with men and no stylists. Yeah, it’s the one day a month I actually iron.

This month we talked about spanking children and if it is appropriate or not.

It was a great discussion and we definitely disagreed and stirred up the pot a bit. But what I loved is that we were able to disagree yet still respect each other. That’s an awesome thing, don’t you think?

Take a look and let me know what YOU think of spanking children. Is it okay or not okay?

To watch video, click HERE.

 

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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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