I’m leaving on a jet plane… for my trip to CHINA!


China last post

Well here it is. My last post before I leave for my trip to China next week with Mandarin Journeys. 5 writers, 1 country, 1,000 emotions!

As parents we are told to put our child first. But this time, I’m not doing that.

I’m putting me first.

And you know what? It feels damn awesome.

It’s just for nine days but those nine days are all mine and I’ll admit it, I feel exhilarated at the thought. And although I’ve wrestled with some guilt about leaving, at this moment, right now, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

I sometimes wonder if a man would feel these same range of emotions. I’m by no means male-bashing, it’s actually quite the opposite. I’m in awe of how some men can compartmentalize successfully. Like they understand the needs of work and balance them with the needs of family. And most times they can keep the emotions out of it.

But me, I’m not very good at that.

I know that my posts from China will show all of what I’m experiencing. The adventures, the camaraderie, but also the emotions of doing this completely on my own.

So my plan, if the internet world agrees with us over there as we’ve been told it will, is to post at the end of every day. There is a big old time difference between the US and China so you might actually be reading my stuff in the middle of the day. I’ll share pictures, experiences and of course, my emotions. But no worries, I’m sure most of them will be filled with sarcasm and cynicism, as usual. And remember, Flat Martini is joining the fun!

And hey, if you don’t hear back from me by next month, go look for me bathing in a pool of dumplings and wontons. I plan on eating my way through that country and bringing a huge ass muffin top home as my souvenir…

You can follow along on the trip here on the blog, and with even more fun pics and stuff on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And remember to check out the hashtag #bucketlistChina to follow all five of us writers going. It’ll be really cool to read each of our perspectives on the trip.

Okay friends – here we go!!

3 Comments

I feel like a senior citizen at a rave on Instagram…


instagram

So I leave for China with Mandarin Journeys in one week. That feels insane to actually type, by the way. I mean, who types the phrase, “I’m leaving for China in a week”???  Nuts. Craziness.

Anyway, I’m leaving for China in a week and am planing to photograph the life out of that country. I want to remember every color, every tint, every hue of what I see.

And I’m kicking myself for flirting with Nate Bunting in tenth grade instead of paying attention in photography class. Mostly because once I kissed him I realized his breath stank like skunk, but also because I really could have used a few tips in taking pictures. But I’m going to try my best and also count my blessings that I never have to kiss Nate again.

So because of my dedication to photography for this trip, I’ve joined Instagram.

And I feel really old.

I have to wear my glasses to read all the hashtags, I’m confused who some of the people I followed really are and I’m baffled at why folks think I care about what they look like at the gym.

But, I’m on it and I’m going to commit to putting pictures of China up on it, as well as other insane photographic experiences. Ya know, if I can actually figure out how to do it.

So come on over to that Instagram-thingy-majiger and say hello. As long as I don’t have to see pictures of you lifting weights, I’m happy to join in the fun.

You can find me on The Instagram HERE. Or here’s the link: https://instagram.com/martinisandminivans/

And remember, you can follow along on my trip by following the hashtag #bucketlistchina

Wish me luck. I’m hoping that I don’t accidentally post a picture of my boobs. Though, I wonder if my followers would increase or decrease…

18 Comments

Flat Martini goes to Virginia Beach!


The Oscars, a photo shoot & a wedding! Hot damn, Flat Martini got spoiled rotten on his trip to Virginia Beach with Katy Blevins from the awesome blog Chaos & Kiddos.

Katy’s blog is crazy helpful. If you are looking for a way to get organized, keep your life somewhat in order or just get tips to inspire you each day – she’s your girl. Seriously, check it out. I wish I could be even one-quarter as organized as she is. However, the only thing I don’t lose in a day is my Little Debbie Snack Cakes. That’s because I hide them and just eat them all in one sitting.

Anywooo. Without further ado – here’s Katy’s adventures with Flat Martini!

katy blevins

Somer and I welcomed him to Virginia Beach, VA and he hopped right in with the crazy that is the life of two small business owners with 5 kids under 5 and one massive LLC company with 4 different brands. Our social calendars were packed full of fun and Flat Martini went everywhere we did! Work hard, play hard – Flat Martini got to visit just about every corner of Virginia Beach, meeting up with local folks, community causes, and truly memorable moments.

#OscarNight13 – Flat Martini attended a live Twitter event at ABC Channel 13 News Now on Oscar Night! Representing Chaos & Kiddos and Modern Femme Photography, Flat Martini joined us as we watched the Oscars along with Hampton Roads’ most avid bloggers, live tweeting throughout the night about our favorite speeches, fashion choices and memorable moments. Flat even got the chance to meet local personality and social media expert, Naoma Doriguzzi, of Ask Naoma!

FLATMARTINIOSCARNITE

Taste of Hampton Roads – A massive community-wide effort to battle hunger in Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Flat Martini was thrilled to join us at the Taste of Hampton Roads. Planned and coordinated by our amazingly awesome gal pal, Apryl Roberts, of Memorable Events by Apryl, we were on hand representing The Hampton Roads Creative, to celebrate her accomplishment and join in on the fundraising efforts. Tasting truly unique top notch fare from over 40 local restaurants and culinary businesses, this event was a show stopper of drinks, dancing and mind-blowing food. Flat Martini fit right in!

FlatMartiniTasteofHR

Modern Femme Photography – Flat Martini got an extra special sneakity peekity behind the scenes for a recent photo shoot at The Studio Hampton Roads! On hand as we styled our client with hair and makeup, Flat Martini got to see the inspiration behind the creative madness that is Modern Femme. An outside-the-box, Henna inspired shoot, it was a day of laughter, art and true beauty. Flat was all smiles and quite the ladies’ man.

FlatMartiniModernFemme

Nicole & Simon are Married! – My beautiful bestie Nicole got married and Flat Martini was an honored guest! He even got some special love from the bride herself, as we partied the night away, stuffed ourselves with cupcakes and celebrated the forevermore of two, perfectly matched soul mates. Never one to disappoint, Flat joined us on the dance floor and was the life of the party.

FLATMARTININICOLE

Thanks for letting Flat Martini spend some time with us in Virginia Beach! Happy travels, Flat!

And be sure to stop by Katy’s blog at Chaos & Kiddos, and visit her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest. Tell her Martinis and Minivans sent ya!

3 Comments

Where have all the GIRL superheroes gone???


wonder womanI’m RAGING. Seriously raging today.

I spent all morning going from store to store in search of something for my six-year-old daughter for Easter. Well, not just something, but rather something that revolves around female superheroes.

My girl loves princesses. She loves dolls. She loves playing school and doing hair. But the thing she loves more than anything in the world right now is girl superheroes. I’m talking about Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl.

We’ve been watching old cartoons from the 80’s (Super Friends, Spider Man & Friends) and back then Wonder Woman kicked some serious ass. She had a gold lame’ crown. She made everyone tell the truth when she caught them in her lasso of truth. And damn, you can’t beat riding around in an invisible jet, right?

But what’s happened? Where have all the female superheroes gone? Why do I have to search through 80’s television series to find a Firestar or a Supergirl? Why don’t we have any shows on today that my daughter can see a strong and powerful FEMALE superhero?

I know that female superheroes exist in graphic novels, but I’m talking about mainstream television. Why has Batman, Superman and Spider Man endured and not one single female superhero lived on?

A I walked around department store after department store today, I found my rage building. Walls lined tshirts, pajamas and even bathing suits filled with male superheroes showing strength and endurance. But when you rounded the corner to the girl clothing, a collection of ruffles and frills with the images of Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse. And yes, Frozen was there too. I do love Anna’s strength and Elsa’s independence, but where are the superheroes??

So I took matters into my own hands. I made her a cape out of shiny blue fabric and a golden lasso out of a jump rope. And I know she’ll love it. But my hope is that someday that wall in the department show can offer more than just a world beyond pretty and cute. And she can see that it’s okay for a girl to choose superheroes over ruffles.

6 Comments

3 Weeks until my trip to China and THIS is what happened when I told the kids…


suitcase ChinaToday marks three weeks until I leave for China with Mandarin Journeys for my bucket list trip of a lifetime. I’ve bought tons of crap, researched the heck out of Shanghai and even scheduled a cut and color for my currently way-too-gray and shabby hair – woo hoo!

But there’s one thing that I’ve been putting of doing.

Telling my kids that I’m going.

My daughter, who is six, has typically freaked out when I’ve left for trips. Of course, the second I’m actually gone, she’s totally fine and probably does a dance of joy and starts plotting out how she can watch a movie every night while eating Cheetos. But the day or two leading up to the trip is a lot of, “I don’t want you to go’s” and that sort of heart-breaking talk that ends in me feeling like a horrible mother for being independent.

So this time I decided to take a different approach. I was going to talk about what a great opportunity this is for Mommy and all the amazing pictures I’ll get to take of the places I go.

I was honest with how long I’d be gone. Talked up the time with Daddy and all the ice-cream they’d probably binge eat.

I told her how much I’d miss her and her brother and Daddy. How I’ll think about them all the time and try to Skype with them.

Then I waited. Waited for the tears to start, waiting for the whining to begin, waited to feel guilty over my decision to go.

She looked up at me and said, “Ohhhh, are you going to bring me back a present?”

“Uhmmm… yep. Definitely,” I said, as I watched anxiously for what came next.

“Cool. Can I have a piece of gum now?”

And that was that. She smacked her gum, looked out the car window and I was left sitting there like I was a character in a Wes Anderson film that doesn’t know what the hell is happening.

But I’m bracing myself. It’s still three weeks away. It can’t go this smoothly, can it?? And is it bad that I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t even get one little tear from her???

#bucketlistchina

 

6 Comments

Flat Martini is in The Berkshires!


If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really love Twitter. I’ve met some amazing folks on it and am always guaranteed a laugh – especially from Jennifer Weedon Palazzo, one of the MomCave moms. She’s one of three moms and a dad, all veterans of the entertainment industry, who have created an award-winning web series for moms called MomCave TV.

And I’m actually going to be a guest on it this week, so definitely check it out!

So let’s see what adventure our little laminated cocktail of love went on this week. Welcome Jennifer Weedon Palazzo! (And be sure to check stop by and say hello to them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And of course – the most important place – their awesome show!)

jennifer weedon palazzo flat martini

 

Flat Martini came into my world just in the nick of time. After living in Manhattan for the last 20 years, my family made a big move this past week. No, not over the river to New Jersey. No, instead we moved to The Berkshires, which is as different from New York City as you can get.

This city girl went (albeit a bit unwillingly) from living in a one-bedroom apartment on the 13th floor, to a four-bedroom house on 40 acres. in an area so rural there’s no mail delivery, no garbage pick up, and no cell phone reception!  Needless to say, I needed a martini STAT! But I’m five months pregnant, so a real martini was not an option. Enter… Flat Martini!

On our first day together, Flat Martini joined my son and I for our first time playing in the yard. And by yard, I mean silent wilderness with snow up to my hips.

Flat Martini Snow (1)

My mom flew in for a quick trip to check out the new house and we took Flat Martini out to dinner to introduce him to what I like to call rural Chinese food. Out to dinner used to mean walking five minutes to the corner. Now it meant digging out the car and driving behind a snow plow for thirty minutes to the nearest town.

flat martini chinese restaurant

On our second day together, Flat Martini tagged along on a round-trip to Manhattan. My husband’s band had a gig and I had a meeting with my fellow MomCave creators. We arrived in the city a little early for my meeting, so while the hubs went off to play jazz, I wandered around one of my favorite places, Chelsea Market. I introduced Flat Martini to this kitchen supply store where you can buy inexpensive restaurant quality glassware. He found the wine glasses there too cheap for his tastes. He told me he was made of much higher quality glass.

Of course,  being preggo, I had to stop to pee every thirty minutes. Flat Martini got used to checking out the various ladies rooms of lower Manhattan. He’s a dude, so he looked away while I emptied my bladder for the zillionth time.

flat martini bathroom (1)

We met up at a restaurant in the meatpacking district  with Stephanie, Valisa, and Sib, the co-creators of MomCave. We had business to discuss. Each of them ordered something healthy like a salad but Flat Martini and I split an order of meatball sliders. We were excited to discuss our up-coming trip to Las Vegas for the IAWTV Awards. (International Academy of Web TV.) We’re pretty psyched that our show MomCave LIVE was nominated for Best Live Series!

Flat Martini momcave (2) (1)

The next day, Flat Martini tagged along on a trip to the OB-Gyn. I think he was a little embarrassed during the pelvic exam, so I put him face-down. The doctor decided to send me to the far-away “city” hospital for my 20 week ultrasound because (and this was written in capital letters in my chart) I was of advanced maternal age elderly primagravida’ which means OLD in doctor jargon. Awesome.

So a few days later, we drove over an hour to Springfield, MA, for the ultrasound. The doctor asked Flat Martini if he was excited to be a dad. He blushed and I had to clear up the fact that we were not, in fact, a couple. Of course, with all the craziness going on with the move and the new baby, and the fact that I’d been abstaining from alcohol lately, I WAS starting to get the hots for Flat Martini. What I wouldn’t give to savor him down slowly while lounging in a bubble bath.

hospital flat martini (1)

But alas, a romance was not meant to be. Bloated looking pregnant ladies wearing snow-gear and muck boots aren’t that hot, so Flat Martini moved on to his next adventure but not before joining my son for a pants-optional tap dance. Flat Martini, please come back in approximately four months when I can actually drink you.

flat martini tapping (2)

 

Leave a Comment

A shooter of a different kind…


Today is my husband’s birthday. I’m five years older than him so I really don’t have a great deal of sympathy when he starts whining about body aches and aging. I also can’t stand the fact that when I talk about David Rice grabbing my ass at senior prom while we slow danced to “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, he points out that he was just about to enter middle school then.

Good times.

But, I try to get over my annoyance at his youth by having our kids make him super cute homemade cards and gifts. He’s gotten everything from a coupon book of kisses to a collection of drawings of them together holding hands. You know, the stuff that makes you forget how they puke and pee on you in the middle of the night.

However, this year’s gift from my son really takes the cake. Not for it’s cute factor. No, not at all. But rather, well… uhm… how about I just show you?

nerf gun cut out

Any guesses? Any ideas of what my darling little three-year-old son made for his daddy?

Ya ready for this?

It’s a Nerf gun.

Or like my son said, “It’s a Nerf Shooter – it shoots squishy things out of it.”

Yeah, I’m not kidding.

The most hilarious part was my husband’s face. He tried, really tried, not to laugh hysterically as he held a penis-like piece of construction paper in his hand. But when my son started asking him to “Shoot it, Daddy”, he couldn’t take it anymore and let all the laughter out, much to the confusion of our son.

So happy birthday dear husband. I might be older than you but at least I don’t have to hold a paper penis and pretend to shoot squishy stuff out of it.

2 Comments

I’m leaving for China in ONE MONTH!


one month china

It’s one month until my plane takes off carrying me to China with Mandarin Journeys. One month until I try to squish a fedora I bought on a whim at Target into my suitcase. One month until I carry the four novels I’ve been dying to read onto my 14 hour flight. One month until I attempt to use the fancy camera my father gave me, still in its case, two years ago. One month until Flat Martini and I get to finally drink together and celebrate our laminated love. And one month until I leave my husband and children for nine days.

That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Leaving your husband and children for nine days.

This isn’t my first time leaving them. Far from it. I have traveled for speaking engagements, conferences, and many girls weekends away. But this one is different. This one is to mother freakin’ CHINA!

I remember the first time I went away by myself a few months after my daughter was born. I went to visit my best friend in Virginia. The plane ride felt surreal. Like at any moment someone would hand me a baby and tell me to snap out of it and stop reading People magazine.

But they didn’t. And I read. And it was awesome.

But I felt terrible telling my husband how awesome it was. I knew he was taking care of our infant as I was reading about the speculations that George Clooney might marry Stacy Keibler. (Spoiler: he didn’t.)

That’s how I feel about this trip. I want to shout it from the rooftops but I find myself feeling a desire to mute it when I’m around my family and friends. Like I’ll just be able to slip off into the night and show up nine days later without anyone noticing. I don’t want to be that bragging person who says, “Look at this cool thing I get to do!” Yet, that’s what I’m really saying on the inside.

And the crazy thing is that I know they are all happy for me. I know that they would listen with a huge smile on their face and a supportive hug. That’s how amazing they are.

So I’m going to try to let the words out more. To talk about the ridiculous fedora I bought that makes me look like I’m trying to be Britney Spears, or how I spent two full hours pretending to read a book in bed when I was secretly looking at my phone trying to learn how to order various cocktails in Chinese.

So I’ll start here. I’m letting the thoughts in my head out.

YES I WILL MISS MY HUSBAND & CHILDREN BUT I’M GOING TO CHINA AND I’M SO DAMN EXCITED!!!

Ah yes, that does actually feel better. Thank you for that.

And hey, remember how I said that I’m one of five writers going? Come read their stories and who these awesome ladies are… Click HERE to read their bios… And check out my bio pic – thought you guys might appreciate it.

 

2 Comments

Flat Martini goes to Michigan!


The really exciting thing for me about Flat Martini traveling the world is how it gives me an opportunity to connect with my readers. Lynne Beaudoin is the perfect example of that! The poor woman is stuck in Michigan during one of the worst winters ever. Yet, she still found a way to show Flat Martini a good time – kudos to you, girl!

So without further ado, here’s Lynne’s adventure with Flat Martini!

lynne beaudoin

 

It was a Wednesday when Flat Martini arrived at the Beaudoin household.  I was somewhere in the middle of “ I’m ready for summer. NOW!”  & “Yeah. I better get on the treadmill.” He was tucked away safe and sound but by his pale appearance I knew more than one postal worker had definitely felt him up on his long trip.

lynne and flat martini

And how do you think I greet friends?  By stuffing them with fried food and alcohol, of course! We struck an agreement that I would stay away from martinis and stick with the bourbon.  There’s a bit of devil inside those drinks. They make your mouth say all sorts of interesting things. Most of which you will not remember in the morning.

IMG_4097

Within a few days after arriving, he got to have the maiden voyage home in my new hot rod. And by hot rod, I do mean my shiny new red minivan. Heated steering wheel? I’ll take it. Heated seats? Yes. Please! Can I get a bathroom and live in it?

I threatened the kids with putting them in the floor compartments should they become whiny and unruly during long road trips. I mean, that’s what they are there for, right?  They do not find me humorous. I’m not sure why. I think I am hilarious.

IMG_4086

Since Flat Martini has become my “Shotgun Rider”, he has joined me several times at my favorite store in town.  Some call it a liquor store but I call it my survival store. They sell me the goods that allow me to get through dinner time, weekends and the 5th consecutive snow day off. Everyone has their own survival store near them. It’s a place where “everyone knows your name.”

IMG_4094

Cabin Fever is tough for all of us in Michigan but, when you have a sister like I do, she’ll show up for dinner and bring a good adult game along with her. Flat Martini took part in a very feisty game of Cards Against Humanity. Lucky for me, whatever happens between these walls, stays here. He may or may not have heard us say some pretty raunchy phrases.

IMG_4003

That’s what it’s all about here. Whiskey, swearing & random sexual innuendos. We call it the “Red Light Special.” This is all after the kids go to bed, of course. I don’t think I can answer one more question on the things they may have heard coming from the kitchen.

All in all, I’m certain Flat Martini has enjoyed his stay at our 3 Ring Circus and somehow, managed to keep a smile on his face the entire time. Me & him are currently working on a deal to open a new age concession stand during those long weekend baseball tournaments.  We would provide “supplies” (ie cocktails) to the over-stressed & overheated parents who so desperately need a smiling face and a cup full of something other than gatorade. Whenever they see the sign hanging, they’ll know their very own survival store.

IMG_4089

5 Comments

Can children have memories of former lives??


children former livesWhen my grandmother passed a few years ago, I felt her presence so strongly. I felt as if her arms still wrapped around me when I sat at my office chair and I could even close my eyes and feel her soft, brown age-spotted hands clasp mine while I watched Dancing with the Stars. When she was alive, I would sit as close as I possible could to her. She had wonderful rolls of chunkiness to her body and they always felt so soft when I cuddled up close to her.

I choose to believe she’s still somewhere out there. Whether it is heaven or the universe or something else isn’t for me to know. But I feel as if she’s not completely gone.

So since then, I’ve often wondered about life after death.

But I can honestly say, I never wondered about life BEFORE death. Or if we come back after dying, do we come back as something different? Another person entirely?

Then I saw this clip on the Today show. It’s about a study that looks at children who claim they were someone else in a previous life. Yeah, I kid you not. There’s an actual study about this stuff.

And I felt really uncomfortable watching it. I wondered if there was any truth to the claims or should I feel anger at the parents of these children for letting them be part of the study? Was it just a child’s imagination? Were the parents pushing this stuff on the kid? Or could there be an actual link to the past like this?

Here’s the clip:

Return To Life: How some children have memories of reincarnation

So I’m dying to know (no pun intended) – what do YOU think? Think it’s real or just the wild imagination of children?

Let’s discuss!

 

6 Comments

Flat Martini Takes Manhattan!


From the West Coast to the East – Flat Martini is going cross country this week to the lovely and talented Dawn Yanek, creator of the blog Momsanity. (How great is that blog name??) I swear, these adventures just keep getting more and more hilarious. I can’t stop laughing every time he returns. This little cocktail of love is seeing more things in one week than I have enough energy to see all year. I never thought a laminated paper beverage could make me feel so lazy. But then again, that laziness could be from how much I enjoy sitting and drinking actual real cocktails….

So Dawn is a pretty cool lady. She’s logged countless hours in the entertainment industry, appeared in more than 2,500 TV and radio segments, discussing lifestyle, relationships, celebrity news, fashion and pop culture. She was the public face of Life & Style Weekly and Match.com, as well as a columnist and senior editor for Stuff Magazine. And if that’s not enough, she’s a mom of a toddler. Just that alone makes me exhausted.

You can find her on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Just be sure you tell her Flat Martini sent ya!

So without further ado – here’s Flat Martini’s adventure with Dawn Yanek!

momsanity dawn

When I heard that Flat Martini would be visiting me in New York City, I started thinking about all of the cool places I could take him—amazing restaurants, secret bars, VIP-studded clubs. Then I remembered that I’m a mom and that he should’ve visited me 10 years ago if he wanted all that fancy crap.

Still, as kid-centric as my life is, it can be interesting and grown-up from time to time…and I’m pretty sure that confused that the hell out of my boozy little visitor.

Flat Martini unfortunately missed our fabulous trip to Colorado by a few days. Instead, he joined us when we got back to the city—just in time for a sick dog and a 3-year-old with the stomach flu. It was delightful over here, let me tell you!

At least he was spared from the sickness (further proof that alcohol kills germs). When we recovered, we took him to Madison Square Garden to see Sesame Street Live. He got really excited when he thought this cute little cocktail might be joining us, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

FullSizeRender-7

Still, he was quite the sport and even got into the Sesame Street spirit—and the $6 popcorn—with Elmo and friends.

IMG_7878-2

Next up: Getting a birthday gift at the Disney Store in Times Square. Now, Times Square will drive anyone to drink, but the Disney Store was so adorable, I thought that we’d get our very own fairy godmother appointed to us at the front door.

Maybe better than a fairy godmother, we got a photo opp with Sven from Frozen, who put in a good word for us with Elsa. Because who doesn’t like their martinis perfectly chilled?

sven

Then I caught sight of some baby clothes. They were so tiny and cute, I promptly forgot about my sidekick. Oops! But seriously, look at this stuff….

dresses

Just when Flat Martini had resigned himself to the boring life of this Manhattan mom, I went ahead and did something exciting. In my non-kid, non-mom-blogger time, I’m an actor, and I was invited back to Law & Order: SVU. One little, frenetic scene as a reporter in an upcoming episode, so tune in later this month—and don’t blink!

FullSizeRender-8

I got the full treatment in wardrobe, hair and makeup, and Flat Martini didn’t recognize me for a minute, much like my son when he was a baby and I’d head out for an audition. It’s that look of: “Hmmm…you seem familiar, but you don’t have purple bags under your eyes and you’re not wearing yoga pants.”

Flat Martini felt all Hollywood as he hung out in my trailer and spied Ice-T in the distance…and was excited to see what would come next in this more adult week. Well, this was it!

messy room

Bless this mess? Hell, no. Take a blowtorch to it. Then I wouldn’t have to fold the rest of that godforsaken laundry.

The remainder of the week consisted of a few kiddie classes, three snowstorms, 900 toys and one very cooped-up 3-year-old. By the time Saturday rolled around, Flat Martini wanted to hightail it out of here. But I had a little going-away surprise for him first.

IMG_8041

My good friend Cara Lynn Shultz, author of the awesome Spellbound and Dark World series, and I took him to an afternoon showing of Fifty Shades of Grey. Seeing ridiculous, guilty-pleasure movies that we can openly mock (and smuggle alcohol into) is kind of our thing.

So what did I think of it? Pass the martinis. Jamie Dornan (aka Christian Grey) is beyond lovely to look at in all of his shirtless, butt-baring glory, but his character has the mentality—and dialogue—of a serial killer. Seriously, what is attractive about a guy who wants to control every aspect of your life, stalk you and then beat you in a Red Room of Pain? I. Don’t. Get. It.

Still, Flat Martini apparently felt a little frisky afterward….

IMG_8071

And he was ready to party by the time we got back uptown…where cheese, wine, beer, sippy cups and our boys were waiting for us.

wine and cheese

I think he may have imbibed a little too much, though, because at one point, this happened.

IMG_8085

That Flat Martini is quite the party animal. Come back anytime! But maybe offer to help with the laundry on your next visit….

8 Comments

5 writers, 1 country, 1,000 emotions – I’M GOING TO CHINA with Mandarin Journeys!


bucket list china 2

Yes, you read that correctly. I’m going to CHINA!!! (if you are imagining me yelling that in a loud Oprah-like voice, you would be absolutely correct.)

I am still stunned. Still feel heart palpitations. Still amazed that I was asked by Mandarin Journeys to be part of this unbelievable experience. To be one of five writers to travel for eight days throughout China. To write about our experiences and share a world so different from our own. To leave our families, our jobs, our responsibilities and get immersed in a culture and beauty that I’m sure will leave me in awe. I’m anticipating my mouth open in every single picture.

And it’s not one of those cookie cutter tours. This is a personalized tour of experiences off the beaten path. We’ll be part of a tour made just for us. From taking a sidecar motorcycle tour around Shanghai to learning how to cook a home style meal to seeing the Shanghai Acrobats and Yu Gardens and to getting our minds and body challenged by Tai Chi – we’ll be doing all the things on my bucket list. Which is why we are calling this #bucketlistChina if you want to follow along!

Check out some of the places we are going to see…

city view

bucketlistchina2

The trip is the end of April. We’ve been told we’ll have internet access so I’m planning to post about our adventures, as well as my feels and experiences before and after the trip.

And of course, I’ll be bringing Flat Martini along! He’s very excited to meet some new cocktails on the 14 hour flight over there….

But I don’t want to just post about the things we did. I want to post about my feelings and thoughts about this all. About leaving my family and doing something truly just for me. I am struggling a bit with that. Wondering if it’s okay for me to leave my responsibilities and indulge. It’s not a trip with my husband. It’s not a family vacation. It’s truly something just for me. It’s a strange exhilarating feeling, mixed with bouts of guilt.

But I’m doing it. I’m doing it because I need to seize these moments. Not just for myself but to show my kids that their mom is more than just a mom. To show them that it’s okay to leave. That it actually makes us better parents.

I hope you’ll follow along with me. Let’s go on this adventure together!

How can you follow along?

 

Disclaimer: Mandarin Journeys invited me to travel with them to China and are providing accommodations. All opinions are my own.

 

10 Comments

Flat Martini visits California!


If you thought Flat Martini’s first trip was exciting, just wait until you check out this week’s adventure. When I got the pictures from it, I couldn’t stop hysterically laughing. And it was that kind of laugh where your kids say, “Mom, what’s so funny?” and you have to quickly shut the top of your laptop so they can’t see and ask you why there’s a laminated cocktail plastered all over your screen.

Flat Martini was a lucky guy this week. These two ladies are readers who are so awesome. They comment, they share, and they laugh at my ridiculous Facebook posts. What more can a writer possibly ask for? I loved that they are friends who wanted to show Flat Martini around together. How sweet – Flat Martini bringing people together.

I asked them to each write a few sentences about themselves. Even their bios are hilarious.

Joanna James: Joanna lives in Ladera Ranch, Calif., far too close to one of those “Real Housewives,” with her husband Richard and 10-year-old son, Travis. When not wasting time on Facebook or playing tennis, she works as an accountant, helping small businesses not go broke. She would rather be sitting on a Hawaiian beach with her toes in the sand and a tropical drink nearby than writing this.

Juliana Kelly: After moving from Connecticut to California for college, Juliana found her Prince Charming, had two more little “charmings” and woke up surprised to find herself living in Orange County after years of making fun of tan, planned communities. She is a registered nurse, a really bad elementary school tutor, a very fast driver (why are we always late?!) and a pretty chill friend. Occasionally she participates in half marathons, but currently her interests are Cadbury mini eggs and her furry Restoration Hardware blanket. Joanna claims that Juliana is Martinis and Minivans (Danielle Herzog) doppelgenger but this can only be proven by matching birthmarks.

 

So without futher ado, here’s their adventure with Flat Martini!

joanna and juliana martini

Flat Martini had an amazing time with the real housewives of Orange County, California. No, not those housewives…the REAL housewives of Orange County; the ones who have professional type jobs, who do homework with their kids, shuttle them to baseball and other activities and most definitely need some three-dimensional martinis to deal with all that shit.

Sure, those other housewives drink martinis, and sometimes even in the same places we do. But despite the way things might appear on TV, we have WAY more fun.

staples center

That includes fun in places like Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. Just like those other housewives, Flat Martini’s hosts Joanna and Juliana escape from our more inland abodes to the sand, art galleries and great restaurants/bars.

Flat Martini didn’t quite understand, though, that we usually go to the beach to cool off, not to be someplace warmer (note Juliana’s winter vest vs. bikinis on the beach, but c’mon – it was like 67 degrees at my house).

bikini lady

Either way, he was happy to enjoy the company of other martinis at Nick’s in Laguna Beach, see the lifeguard shack and be someplace warm enough where people are going shirtless. Except, ewww…maybe not that one!

topless man

Enjoying our “secret lives” at Nick’s while the kids are in school.

drinking together

Flat Martini also met the official greeter of Laguna Beach, Eiler Larsen (who Juliana thinks was another homeless guy.  Even homeless guys are famous in the OC!).  After greeting random European tourists and annoyed Tesla-driving Barbies we all sat in the sand and declared “How cute are we?!” cause we had unintentional matching pedicures.  Cheers! We match!

pedicure

Then he went shopping with us on the way back home to help us stock up for dealing with the rest of our fun-filled lives. (Organic means its good for you right?)

organic vodka Waving

Because here in Orange County, despite what the rest of the world may have seen on TV, it’s not all fun in the sun. Sometimes our lives are filled with the really craptastically amusing stuff, like fifth grade homework that usually makes someone mad and someone cry.  Ok it’s us, we are the ones crying and screaming.  But have you seen this common core shit? There’s not enough vodka in the world for this stuff to make sense.

But that’s OK…as long as you show your work, and explain your thinking, Flat Martini is an acceptable answer.

boys homework

The occasional cosmo or lemon drop are also good answers to the question, “How was baseball practice?”

cocktails

See, the baseball field is where Juliana and Joanna will be spending a big part of the next three months. Field practice, batting practice PLUS two games a week. The real fun will be when the boys’ teams play one another (#weareallwinners).

Here’s the worst thing…the signs at the park entrance say, “NO ALCOHOL.” Are you kidding me? Does the Little League not know how much money it would make if the snack bar had a frickin’ liquor license?!?   ‘Cause we are walking distance, just sayin.  They could make it like a rave or something.  We are too old to have gone to raves but we imagine that if a rave were to be at the little league snack bar it would be like this:  at 8pm a mysterious line starts up at the back of the snack bar, people jostle for position, parents are actually happier at the end of baseball even though it’s 9pm on a school night. 

(End dream sequence here.)

Flat Martini was a little unsure of what to make of baseball practice. The kids didn’t look like they were having that much fun, and that’s what this is supposed to be about. Or maybe the boys had fun at practice, they just didn’t understand why they were posing for a picture with a drawing of…well, we’d like to pretend that they don’t know what that is, but they’ve definitely seen their mommies holding a few of them.

baseball

Thanks for reading – and cheers to Flat Martini for visiting!

HA ladies! I seriously can’t stop laughing. That last picture of the boys looking so unbelievably peeved to be holding Flat Martini is awesome. So so awesome.

Thank you ladies for being such amazing hosts to my laminated cocktail of love. Can’t wait to see where he goes next week for his next adventure!

 

6 Comments

Literary agent Jessica Sinsheimer answered your questions!


Since I announced signing with the amazing Jessica Sinsheimer from Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency a few months ago (you can read about that HERE), I have had many folks ask me questions about what it’s like to work with an agent and the various aspects of publishing. So instead of me answering, I thought I would go right to the source – Jessica herself.

So I put a post up on Facebook asking you to send me your questions for Jessica, and lo and behold, I received a ton of them.

I picked the questions that I felt would be most helpful to budding writers, as well as questions that would make you (and hopefully her!) smile. And then I made her participate in a video question and answer session about ridiculous things so everyone can realize that literary agents are actual human beings and not mythical creatures who only read all day long. Though, man, I would seriously choose that mythical creature over a unicorn any day of the week.

Okay Jessica, after a rough day at work, you walk into a bar and order a ___________ ?

Actually, I’m not really that hardcore. I probably wouldn’t walk into a bar to have a drink alone. (To solve that problem, years ago, I started a Google Group of supportive agents/editors that everyone could reach with one email if they’d had a bad day—I called it Emergency Drinks Group, and we even threw a launch party–complete with red martinis Photoshopped onto emergency vehicles, printed on card stock–and decorated the table with them.)

However, if I was in a bar or restaurant or lounge and ordering something to drink, it’d be the gin and tonic, for several reasons: 1) You can’t really mess it up, 2) There aren’t really any terrible gins out there—that I know of, 3) Low calorie, and 4) If you drop it on yourself, it won’t stain. (I’ve actually never dropped one—or anything—on myself for years, but I do like to think about these things, just in case. Plus, far too many people decorate with expensive white couches, and I don’t want to take any chances or flip any cushions.)

If I’m feeling extra fancy, I do like gin, elderflower liqueur, and lemonade.

How does someone become a literary agent? 

Most agents start out as interns at agencies, publishing houses, or magazines. They slowly build their knowledge and skills to a point where they can assist an agent or editor—and then start to take on a list of their own. While, theoretically, anyone could decide, “I am going to call myself an agent today!”—well, most agents start by working with experienced agencies, learning through years of osmosis.

How do we know an agent is legit?

A large part of it has to do with their agency and that agency’s reputation. There’s a site called Preditors & Editors that will list those who are, you know, scam artists—and I know we hear about those, and “schmagents,” so much—but that really isn’t the norm.

Look on Publishers Marketplace for deals in your genre. Ask if that agency follows the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) guidelines. Ensure that they don’t charge reading fees. Ideally—and this is changing somewhat, but still, ideally—they won’t accept any payment from you except 15 percent of what your book makes.

If you could go back at any point in your career and change something, what would it be?

It’s funny, because I thought about this for a long time. I actually don’t have any regrets. There are certainly things I could have known sooner that would have made my life easier—but I had to learn those lessons; everyone does. And you learn better if you’re there and experience it, versus having someone tell you.

If I could go back and tell Baby Agent Jessica one thing, it’d be that it’s okay to be different, open, exuberant, friendly. Every agent develops his or her own style—and that’s not only okay—it’s great! Agents vary a lot. And I love that about us.

What makes or breaks a pitch for you?

Voice. It’s always voice. Of course there are a lot of things that could break it, but it’s never the stuff writers seem to worry about most. I wouldn’t auto-reject for a typo, for example. Or even (much as it annoys me) someone who says “Dear Agent” at the beginning of a pitch. Perhaps the concept won’t work for me (and there are many reasons this could be the case). But, 95 percent of the time, it really just comes down to voice, and whether I want to read more.

How can I make my book proposal stand out to a publisher? How many chapters do you include and should the book be complete?

I say between 30 and 50 sample pages. In terms of standing out—that’s going to have to do with all of the aspects of your proposal, including the concept and overview, what’s on the market now (and how your book compares and adds something new), your platform, and—of course—execution.

The book does not have to be complete if it’s nonfiction—though, in some cases (especially with memoirs), it may make sense for you to write more, so that you gain a fuller understanding of the book’s narrative arc.

There’s a book I love called The Art of the Book Proposal by Eric Maisel. He talks about how book proposals are not just this thing you have to do—they’re also a tool to help you focus your ideas.

Speaking of proposals, if a man was going to propose to you over a homemade meal, what would it be?

Homemade pasta, preferably from an old-fashioned pasta crank. If you’ve never made it, you’re missing out. You can blend just about any steamed vegetable in the blender and add it to the dough, which is great fun.

What happens after you say “yes” to a manuscript? Walk us through the process. Are you very editorial? Do you share everything a publisher says to your authors?

I’m incredibly editorial, as you know, Danielle (though you were very patient when I kept going “Wait! Let me read it just one more time! We should move that comma!”). I love that step of the process—I get to feel like I’m helping to shape something, to bring it into focus. It feels very creative.

Then—this will surprise no one—I like to obsess over which editors get what when. If I had a massive, wall-sized whiteboard for all of the projects I had out, with arrows, it’d be like The Six Degrees of Manuscripts (as awesome as Kevin Bacon). I have charts for each author, organized into editor, imprint, house, status, rounds—and all of the important dates go on my calendar. It gets really intense.

In terms of what I share with authors, that depends on the author. Most prefer to see everything, but some just want a summary.

What happens if you’ve been working with a writer for a year but you can’t find a publisher willing to work with him/her?

Most likely I’d ask, “So, what are you working on next? Great! Let’s get started.”

This is the thing: I sign people because I think they have potential. Not because of that one book, but because of that person’s creative capacity. If the first or second or even third book doesn’t work, we’ll just keep trying.

I’m really lucky in that I’ve had some delightful surprises on this front—authors I signed for one project who emailed me one day with “Hey! So I’ve been working on this new thing…” and it turns out to be incredible.

My clients are amazing. I have no idea where they get so much creative energy, but it could definitely illuminate a small city, Monsters Inc. style.

Plus, they’re lovely people—which always helps. I think everyone works best when they feel happy, safe, appreciated, and understood. And I’m lucky enough to feel that with all of my clients.

Awhh shucks. I’m blushing. Though, she could be talking about a different client. Actually, she probably is. Who am I kidding? 

Now on to the very important questions. Check out this hilarious little video interview I made Jessica suffer through, I mean, participate in…

 

And if you are a querying writer, check out Jessica’s submission guidelines here. She’s also the co-creator of Manuscript Wish List, an awesome resource that shares what editors and writers are currently looking for in submissions. Check it out here.

And thanks to Jessica for taking time out of her insane schedule to answer these questions. I’m sending a virtual gin & tonic your way girl…

 

18 Comments

FLAT MARTINI – His first trip!


It’s like Christmas morning in my world today. Not because a large, bearded man snuck into my house and left crap that makes a lot of noise and requires batteries we never actually have. But because…

FLAT MARTINI is here! And he’s back from his first trip. I’m guessing the little guy is napping right now from his crazy adventure.

Alyson gets a special hats-off for being the first. She didn’t even have time to get Flat Martini in the mail because she wanted to take him on her island vacation so she printed him out herself, gave him a trim & took him on his very first trip. What a trooper!

So without further ado, I’ll pass it off to Alyson Herzig. She’s the blogger and writer behind the utterly hilarious blog called The Shitastrophy.

alyson martini

If you have had a child in school in the last two decades you have probably met Flat Stanley. Stanley is a boy who travels around to near and far locales. His adventures are documented with the help of your lovely little protégé. If you want to witness parents going deep-six on their seven year olds homework this is the pinnacle of helicopter parenting.

The time has come to kick the overdone Stanley to the curb for a new and improved adult version – Flat Martini. I am honored to be the first person to pop his olive. Martini, my son, and I (minus The Hubs – it was so risqué) headed off on a weeklong trip to the island of Dominica in the Caribbean (and no it is NOT the Dominican Republic). Just getting to our final destination required four planes and one overnight layover, but it was worth it.

Dominica Mountains

The Dominica Mountains

 

Poor Martini was desperate to get out and see the sights after being trapped in my backpack for two days. I tried to enjoy a Mojito with him, but realized in the end I am a true beer lover. He took it well, and accepted there would be no clandestine affair between us on our vacation.

He became more of a wingman, and considering it was Carnival I couldn’t have been any more in the need. Especially that one night I lost my backpack with him in it, oh and my shoes. Thank God security at our hotel found it and gave it to someone in our party – of course it would have been lovely had they called me to let me know, but then I would have had no reason to freak the fuck out at 5 am and search the hotel compound envisioning how I would explain to my husband I needed to cancel my credit card and he should probably wire me some cash.

The whole purpose of the trip to Dominica was to scuba dive in some of the most beautiful water in the world. Here is the village of Soufriere from our boat.

Soufriere Dominica

The little dude made quick friends with our dive masters. Here he is with Jim Brown, who came over from St. Thomas to join us on the trip! Jim certified my 11-year-old son and I last year, and no doubt he is still suffering from PTSD after that experience. My kid could send Mother Theresa to the bar, and no doubt Jim would be in desperate need of some Martini’s after a week of diving with us.

Jim with Martini

Since alcohol and scuba diving are a no-no, I trusted my little partier with our wonderful boat captain Mano while we headed undersea to view the amazing coral reefs and vibrant fish. I’m pretty sure Mano was wishing Martini was real when I asked him to pose for this picture.

Mano with Martini

Martini with Scuba Gear

It wasn’t all scuba diving while we were there though. The island of Dominica has much to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Our group headed up to Trafalgar Falls and enjoyed a quick hike to the beautiful waterfall, and then a much-needed soak in one of the many hot springs on the island.

I hope you all appreciate that I have included this not so flattering photo of myself sans makeup. I may have cropped the bottom of this pic out to save a little dignity, I’m sure you understand.

Me with Martini TFalls Hot Springs

On our last day we hiked into the rainforest to visit Meddleham Falls. Luckily we had Monsieur Martin, our Tour Guide, to show us the way.  Oh and to keep me from imploding when I had to listen to one person in our group whine about the hike taking more than the posted 45 minutes (psst – that’s because you kept taking breaks because you are out of shape).

As if the adult bitching was not enough I almost lost my shit on my son who insisted on wearing his crocs and then proceeded to complain when he broke his shoes half way into the hike. I would have really loved Flat Martini to be an actual martini at this point, and possibly to have reproduced into a whole bottle of alcohol.

Martin with Martini

All in all Flat Martini was a wonderful travel companion. He was my trusted wingman at Carnival, enjoyed a lovely adventure when I lost him and my backpack at the hotel, didn’t get sea sick on the boat, and even read the map – which is more than most men would do. Maybe Flat Martini is really a woman?

Martini on Meddleham Falls Pic

 

Thanks Alyson – that was awesome! Stay tuned next week to see where life takes Flat Martini. I have a feeling things are going to be getting a little crazy up in here with the folks I heard he’s visiting next week…

And stop by and visit Alyson’s blog. You can also catch her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram. Tell her Flat Martini sent ya.

13 Comments