Manic Monday with Make Your Own Damn Dinner!

Make Your Own Damn Dinner LogoWoo hoo! It’s Manic Monday – which means another installment of a hilarious parenting story by a fellow bloggers. Today’s guest is Marie from Make Your Own Damn Dinner – probably one of my favorite blog names of all time. 

After reading it, you’ll want to follow her on Facebook and Twitter because she shows the funny side of parenting in a way everyone can relate to. Really good stuff. Here she tells us what her son REALLY thinks of her…

The First Grade Project That Bruised Mom’s Ego

I love it when my kids bring home writing projects from school. It’s one of my favorite things! I love reading all the cute things they’ve written about me worked on…adorable spelling mistakes and all. Today Jack brought home a collection of ‘books’ he had written. It was titled, “Thoughts From One Fabulous First Grader.” It should have been titled, “Thoughts From One Fabulous First Grader That Made Mom Feel Like Someone Put a Knife Through Her Heart.” Let’s examine, shall we?

Each ‘book’ he wrote had a title, copyright date, and dedication.

Here is Jack’s touching dedication from story number one:

book dedication 1

Story number two’s dedication made me laugh:

book dedication 2

(This book is dedicated to my brother Ben, who doesn’t know how many kids are in my class.)

I can’t wait to see what story he’s dedicated to his dear mother.

Oh look. Story number three…it’s written not for, but ABOUT his sister Anna. How very sweet.

book dedication 3

That only leaves one member of our family…story number four must be dedicated to…

book dedication 4

Of course. Our cats, Nellie and Hazel.

The lucky recipients of story number five were:

book dedication 5

(Two very important people in Jack’s life…deserving of a dedication)

Okay, by process of elimination I figure MY dedication must be next. Let’s take a look at story number six:

book dedication 6


I’m starting to lose hope here. There are only two more dedications left. The next shout out goes to……

book dedication 7

How am I supposed to compete with NBA players?!?

Okay, CLEARLY he’s saving his final dedication for the most important woman in his life. The woman who has been there for him through thick and thin. The woman who is overflowing with love for him. The woman who would lay down her life for him. The woman who loves him unconditionally and always.

CLEARLY story number eight is dedicated to…

book dedication 8

In case you can’t see it clearly, let me clarify. That WAS my name…before he erased it and wrote the name of his ‘friend who’s a girl,’ Shelby. (I blurred out her last name for privacy). When I asked him about it he said, “What? She made me write  her name.”

And so it begins. Being bossed around by a woman and doing everything she says. He’s going to make a great husband one day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go remove this knife from my heart. Don’t worry about me…I’ll be okay.


A poop in the hand is worth two in the bush…

toilet paper in the handWhile walking through Target for our fourth time this week, I overheard the most awesome parent conversation on the face of the earth. It was between a mother and her about-as-tall-as-my-thigh kid (so, like 4 years old?) – here’s how it went down.

Kid: Mommy, I think I still have some poop in my butt.

Mother: Did you wipe all the way when you went potty before we left?

Kid: I think I forgot to use toilet paper.

Mother: Uhm…sweetie… what did you use then?

Kid: Well… uhm…my hand.

Mother: Let’s stop holding hands and find the bathroom.

What’s so damn funny about that conversation is that I was holding my own daughter’s hand at the time. And you better believe I sniffed that thing immediately.

Parenting. A world full of poop and no soap in sight.


From memoir to fiction…

I never understood what writers meant when they talked about a book changing forms over and over. When I started writing a memoir about the decade my grandmother and I wrote letters to each other, it all fell into place immediately. I found that the story stayed pretty consistent throughout drafts and I couldn’t imagine making any great plot alterations.

Then, in one day the book went from memoir to fiction.

And I understood.

When I hit Chapter 5 of writing the memoir, I found that although the story was personal and meaningful to me, it might not hold that same value to readers. I found that it lacked the humorous voice that I pride myself on. It lacked… well… me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am proud of what I have written. I am grateful to agents and publishers that have complimented me on it and showed interest. But her letters don’t tell a story to anyone else but me and I don’t want to force them to do that. I found that I was looking for bits and pieces to connect to a story that could possible be of interest to readers, when in reality, it is of greatest interest only to me. 

So I took a break from writing for a few weeks. I took a break because my dead computer told me to. And right before my new computer arrived, I sat on the edge of my bed and saw one of my grandmother’s letters peeking out of a book. I had used it as a bookmark in a book I keep next to my bed. And it hit me.

Use her letters as inspiration. Use your story – through all your obstacles in life – as inspiration. Tell about a girl whose grandmother writes her hilarious and heartwarming letters in a coming of middle-age story that makes you laugh at her falls and cheer her successes. Start each chapter with one of those entertaining letters and let the readers fall in love with both characters. Let that grandmother say all the inappropriate things you wish you could say. And let the granddaughter show readers what life in your 30′s can be like – from divorce, to dating, to struggling through parenthood with a Goldfish cracker stuck to your ass.

And when I sat down, the words came flowing. And they were my true voice. My sarcasm, my spin, and my ideas.

And yes, you’ll still find my grandmother in the story. She’s just a version of her that I think she’d even find entertaining to read.

So now I’m entering into the world of fiction. It’s a scary new place for me filled with adjectives and superlatives. But looking around, I think I’m going to like it here. Yep. It kind of feels like home.


The blue screen of death…

blue screnSo remember how I talked about going to heaven and back. Well…it seems that fate stepped in and wished that I had just stayed in Mexico.

The first day home went something like this:

6:00 am: Write post about how glorious vacation went and how happy I am to be home with my children. Happy warm feelings.

9:00 am: Turn back on my computer and receive blue screen of death. Not happy warm feelings.

9:01 am: Begin hyperventilating because I hadn’t yet backed up my computer from the last month of work. That includes writing two chapters of my book in Mexico.

9:03 am: Call husband in tears and he assures me that it will be ok. I curse at him and tell him to stop trying to solve my problems.

9:04 am: Call back husband and ask him to please solve my problem.

9:05 am: Kids ask for breakfast because they are oblivious to my pain and just want eggs and sausage. I burn the eggs just out of spite.

9:10 – 5 pm: Must pretend to be a focused mother parenting her children while googling “blue screen of death remedies” every five minutes.

5:01 pm: Call husband and ask him when he is coming home.

5:05 pm: Call husband again to make sure he doesn’t have any car trouble or reasons he will be late.

5:15 pm: Kiss the children and run out the door when my husband’s car pulls in. Leave raw meat on the counter for dinner.

5:25 pm: Run into Best Buy like a raving lunatic to see Geek Squad, only for them to tell me that my motherboard is trashed and I’ll need a new computer. However, he’s confident that data is not lost. However, it will cost $175 to put it all on external hard drive.

5:45 pm: Good friend messages me to tell me that she can help and is able to get the data off my computer. $175 saved, yet I realize I’m still in my pajamas and potentially have not brushed my teeth once during the day.

8:00 pm: Put kids to bed, and wonder what the hell I should do now without a computer. Very strange eerie feeling. Don’t like it.

8:05 pm: Borrow my husband’s computer because it feels like my fingers are going through withdrawals and aching to type.

7:00 am the next morning: New computer ordered.

So through this experience, I’ve learned that fate likes to read blogs and then mock them. Obviously it laughed when I said I was in heaven and decided to shake things up a bit. Ok, ok, fate, you win. I see the irony that the blue screen of death looked exactly like my pictures of the ocean in Mexico.

Well played fate, well played.



I’ve been to heaven…and back.

I’m a New Yorker. Even though I now live in the Midwest, I will always be a New Yorker. That means that I can’t leave my house unlocked when I go to a neighbor’s house, and I definitely can’t leave jewelry out on my dresser when I’m not home. And that over-protective nature includes going on vacation. So if you have been wondering why there hasn’t been a blog post for a few days, the cat’s now out of the bag – I’ve been on vacation and too scared to tell anyone for fear that someone would steal my kids, or worse yet, my collection of 80′s hairband records.

As for where I have been. Well, I’ve actually been to heaven for parents who leave their children for a few days. This heaven is called Cabo San Jose.

We stayed at an all-inclusive resort where as I walked in the front door, I believe I heard angels singing. You also had St. Peter (aka Michael, the bellman) hand you a Pina Colada upon check in and show you the beautiful word of swim up bars and endless snacking.

As if that wasn’t a sign you were in heaven yet, then you see the view. The view of the ocean. The view of the lounge chairs. The view of a place without any responsibilities.

Yes, I missed my children, but I’m ok saying that this trip was about being a grown up. About being with my husband and finally not hating dinnertime. We actually ate meals without rolling our eyes. We actually finished conversations. And we even read a magazine that didn’t have one spot of peanut butter and jelly on it.

And I wrote.

I woke up every morning with a cup of tea in my hand, the computer on a wicker table facing the ocean and I wrote. I wrote chapters of my book, I wrote posts for the future, and I wrote words to simply put in my journal so I can’t forget the peace I felt for a few days of staring out at the water.

Staring out of the water while also sipping rum concoctions every three hours and eating food that I can’t pronounce.

It was heaven.

And now I’m back. And it’s cold, and the kids are overtired and over stimulated.

But I smile. Because this chaos is what makes me appreciate that ocean view. And this chaos is my life. And in some weird way, when I look at the two kids lying on my chest as we watch Toy Story for the 10,000th time, I realize that heaven comes in many forms. From a cocktail on the beach with my husband, to the snores of little ones stealing my covers, I’m lucky to always be in one kind of heaven. And honestly, I’m happy to be back.

Of course, ask me that again in about 4 hours when they want to watch that damn movie again and I’m looking around for my cocktail waitress…


Manic Mondays Begin! Our First Guest: Hairpin Turns Ahead

hairpin turns ahead logoI truly believe the key to blogging is to be part of a community. Last year I took that idea and created Inside the Blogger’s Studio which featured humorous interview sessions with different bloggers each month. I loved doing the series because it was such a great opportunity to get to know fellow bloggers in a whole new way. You can check those out by typing “Inside The Blogger’s Studio” in the search for posts bar over there on the right side of the blog.

Now, it’s a new year and time to try something new.

With that in mind, I created “Manic Mondays” – it’s a simple concept. Bloggers share their funniest parenting stories. We’re not looking for serious, warm your heart kind of moments. We are talking moments that will make us snort liquid out of our nose from laughing so hard.

So it was perfect when Liesl Testwuide, from Hairpin Turns Ahead, submitted her story. After reading it, you’ll want to follow her on Facebook and Twitter - she’s that funny. Her post will definitely make me reconsider sending my son to sleep-away camp…

LETTERS FROM CAMP – by Liesl Testwuide

Like kids all over America this summer, my youngest son is spending a week away at camp. It’s the first time he has been away without his brothers. It’s been terribly quiet around here. I’ve been thinking about him constantly and crossed my fingers that he’d send me at least one letter. I missed him so much, I began to imagine what he might write to me. I fantasized that I might receive something like this:

Dear Mom,

Thank you so much for letting me go to camp. I have learned so many cool things, like how to take a fish off the hook, tie sailing knots, and even how to groom a horse. Thanks for packing the sun screen. I’ve been out on the lake a lot, so it has really come in handy. You sure think of everything! Since it’s been so hot, I’ve been drinking tons of water! See? I really listen to all your good advice.

The other boys here are really smart and nice. I’m making some lifelong friends I will cherish forever. We’ve had fun learning camp songs, playing cards, and catching frogs in our free time. During quiet time, I read the book you sent along. What a great selection! And just because you’re my mom, I made a special gift for you in arts and crafts!

I’m trying a lot of new foods, just like you suggested. You were right, the oatmeal at breakfast really isn’t bad when I add raisins. And don’t worry, Mom, I’ve been using all the manners you’ve taught me over the years.

We are camping under the stars tonight. I am hoping to see some fireflies.

I love you,



P.S. Tell my brothers I miss them!

Yesterday I received a letter from him! It’s just slightly different from what I imagined:

hairpin page 1

hairpin page 2

hairpin page 3



What we miss about them…

As many of you know, I’m in the throws of writing a memoir about the decade my grandmother and I wrote letters to each other. I’m spending hours a day editing, thinking, editing some more, and desperately trying to think less.

While reading one of her letters last week, I had a moment of sincere sadness. The kind that makes you  put down what you are reading and lay your head low. And since I knew there were probably others who felt like that, I put a call out on Facebook for folks to share what they miss about their own grandparents. The answers were beautiful and heartbreaking.

I thought I would share a few…

“My grandaddy told THE cheesiest jokes but they were still hilarious. And my grandmother giggled like a little girl every time–as if she hadn’t heard them a billion times before. I hate that they never knew my children.”

“My grandma had a bosom. She had huge breasts and it didn’t matter if you were 3′ or 6′. You were gonna get lost in her chest when she hugged you. And she was gonna hug you. A real hug, not one of those sideways “I’m afraid to let our bodies touch” excuses for a hug.”

“My grandfather was like a father to me. He would clean out my car, check under the hood, make sure our home was sound. He was more active then me. I miss him very much. He died at 89 3 years ago and I wish I had 89 more years with him. It makes me sad that my 5 yr old only had 2 yrs with him, I’d love to hear him talk about his life again.”

“The smell of her cooking. Nothing I could ever make will smell like what that woman can do in a kitchen.”

“I miss my grams sense of humor.  We used to have this saying that I wish I had recorded…It was: I love you deeper than the ocean, higher than the sky, and bigger than the whole wide world. And more than that.” 

“Her soft hands and her touch when she held my hand!”

“Everything. Just everything.”

It’s amazing that many of you are total strangers, yet we all have that common longing to spend one more hour with a grandparent. I, too, miss everything about her. Even the annoying stuff that made me want to take the Judge Judy autobiography she loved and throw it out the window.

Thank you for sharing and making me feel like what I’m writing and doing is all worth it.


The power of Frozen…

I just did the unthinkable.

I found myself singing along to the soundtrack of Frozen.

However, that’s not the bad part.

The bad part is that there weren’t any children in the car when I did it.

I quickly shut it off and put on 50 Cent’s Candyshop to make myself feel a little less… uhm… well…Disney.

However, I have to admit – I liked it when I was singing it. I liked imagining I was Elsa with long flowing hair and the ablility to run away for a bit and not feel cold. It’s 16 freakin’ degrees here in the Midwest so the idea that the “cold wouldn’t bother me” sounds great. Plus, if I could look hot and have some quality time to myself for a little bit, well then hey, that doesn’t hurt either.

I’m also totally jealous for when Elsa becomes a mom someday. How great would it be to freeze a Goldfish cracker before it hit the floor? Or catch vomit midway so you didn’t have to change crib bedding for the third time in one day.

Yeah, these are the superpowers I long for now in life. Forget flying or invisibility, I want the power to stop cleaning before it occurs.  And I want to do it in my yoga pants. When are they going to make a Disney movie with that female superhero??



The truth about those “classroom jobs” we had in elementary school…

nick mom mother funnyRemember how awesome it was to be the person who went to get milk in elementary school? How you would take the crate and get to walk the hallways without supervision?

Yeah, it wasn’t what it seemed.

My latest post for Nickelodeon’s NickMom is taking on what those classroom jobs REALLY meant.

I’m warning you, the truth hurts sometimes.

Read, then share with others from your school days – it’s time they knew the truth too…


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Playing a game with the girls from Science of Parenthood

science of parenthood logoOne of my favorite things about BlogHer this year was the really awesome folks I had a chance to meet. Two especially are near and dear to my heart - Norine Dworkin-McDaniel and Jessica Ziegler, the duo behind the illustrated humor blog Science of Parenthood.

We spent many hours talking and sharing what we have learned not just about blogging, but about parenthood, life and all the crap that makes liquid snort out of my nose when I laugh. I truly appreciated having them at the conference and feel like I met kindred spirits when we first talked.

Now, they are celebrating this blog’s 1 year anniversary! They are having an awesome giveaway too of some top blogger books and some pretty fun swag – so head over there and check that out.

However, I couldn’t just sing happy birthday off key to them to celebrate. I asked them if they wanted to play a little game with me. So I came up with 10 words and they had to take turns saying the first thing that came to their head about that word.

Here we go!

Dessert: Mmmm …. I love free-association word games like this. Reminds me of therapy. Okay, so you say dessert and I say … chocolate. I L-O-V-E chocolate. If there’s chocolate anything on the menu, that’s what I’m ordering. Unless there’s bread pudding. Then I’m having that. If I had chocolate bread pudding, I’d think I’d died and gone to heaven. Which I don’t really believe in, but I do believe in chocolate. Especially Godiva. — Norine

Parenthood: “Parenthood” sounds so serious. I don’t feel that what I am participating in warrants such a heavy title. Floopy-Flailings?  Wingin’it-hood? Those sound a little more like it.— Jessica

Alcohol: Martinis. Jessica’s husband, Greg, makes a superb martini. Unfortunately, I loved martinis a little too much … to the point where I was drinking three a night … and now I’m in 12-step recovery program. I’m doing well, thank you. Sober for two-and-a-half years. I don’t actually miss the booze. But every once in a while, I think, Yeah, it’d be nice to have one of Greg’s martinis.  — Norine

Spouse: Long-term. My husband and I will have been married for twenty years this coming September. I know. It’s ridiculous. I suppose I should have said something like “soul mate” or “partner”, instead I’ve used a word typicalyl paired with “investment” or “prison sentence”. Let’s not examine that one too closely, m’kay? — Jessica

Birth: Well … I gave birth. I have a son, who’s nearly 8. But while most moms have these great, dramatic And then my water broke in the cab … stories, I have the lamest birth story, ever. My OB wanted to induce me, so I went into the hospital at 8 pm; they shot me full of pitocin and … nada. I didn’t feel one contraction. In the morning they said, Well, this isn’t working, let’s do a C-section. Forty-five minutes later, I had my baby. Barely felt a thing. I feel kind of cheated, actually. — Norine

Minivan: Being sixteen. When I was sixteen and first had my driver’s licence one of our family cars was a big ‘ol minivan. As you can imagine, it was every Cure-listening, Daria-watching girl’s dream car. I haven’t driven one since. Not that there’s anything wrong with minivans, but I only have one kiddo. Seriously, if you have two or more kids and they have any friends at all, you need a third row! — Jessica

Boobs:  I’m gonna risk pissing off a lot of women, moms, and confess that I … like my boobs. I do. Please don’t slap me. I would swap thighs with Kate Moss any day. But my boobs, they’re okay. I’m typically a B-cup, but when I was pregnant, I ballooned up to a D. That was fun for a while. But now I know I’m quite content with what nature endowed. — Norine

Youth: Fleeting. I had big plans to be super cool about getting older; now that it’s actually starting to happen, I’m not loving it. There are many, many things I appreciate about getting older: knowing more, being more confident, yada yada … I know they only come with age and experience. But the stiff neck and wayward chin hairs? Those I could do without. — Jessica

Embarrassment: Here’s the lovely thing about getting older — I’ll be 48 next birthday — I no longer embarrass easily. Stuff that would have made me want to disappear into the floor a decade ago — like the time my mom chose the sushi bar where we were sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with other diners to ask me, loudly, if I was “really into sex toys” — that stuff just rolls off me now. I’ve discovered that 99 percent of the time, people aren’t looking at you, they’re worrying about their own shit. Unless you’ve got toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Then people probably are looking at you. Hopefully some kind soul will tell you. — Norine

Mistake: I was all ready to say, “There are no mistakes. Life is a journey, my little snowflakes!” But then I remembered this one haircut I got in 8th grade. Oh my god, it was such a mistake. This was back when everyone wanted feathered hair. My hair was stick straight and thin. There was not enough Aquanet in the world to get this mop to feather. Sooo, I figured I’d just have them cut-in the layers. I didn’t learn the term “mullet” for another fifteen years, but that is exactly what I’d requested. – Jessica

Happy 1 Year Anniversary girls! I’m toasting my martini glass to you!

Check out Science of Parenthood at




The Mother of All Meltdowns – My first book reading…

The Mother of All Meltdowns BookSunday is my first book reading and signing ever. I was lucky enough to be part of the amazing anthology of women writers sharing their best/worst parenting meltdowns. The book is called The Mother of All Meltdowns and I must admit, I’m a wee bit nervous to read it aloud to friends, family and total strangers who think there will be free food at the event.

And yes, I have thought about just imagining everyone in their underwear, but my father-in-law will be attending, and well…that’s just awkward.

I shared my thoughts and fears about the day in my latest Momaha post

And if you are in the Omaha area, come on by and say hi at The Bookworm at 2 pm on Sunday, January 19.  I’ll be the one who is biting her nails and looking for the free food…


I want to be five years old in heaven…

When my grandmother passed over a year ago, my 5 year old daughter had a lot of questions about death. Where did grandma go? Would she see her again? Where is heaven?

I felt so uncomfortable answering these questions. Not having anything to do with religion or spirituality, but because no one truly knows the answers to them. I am saying what I think and what will provide her comfort.

I told her that grandma is in heaven and has become an angel that watches over us. And someday when I/she/Daddy/her blanket/ go to heaven, we’ll see her again.

Now, here’s where it gets tricky. She asked the question that every parent dreads.

“When are YOU going to heaven, Mommy?”

I didn’t know what to tell her. I chose to focus on old age and stress the fact that most people go to heaven after living very long lives. She has not yet had to deal with the death of someone who isn’t elderly and I don’t feel ready to cross that bridge right now.

She asked, “Like 100 years old?”

I replied, “Somewhere around there.”

She’s starting to do math now. She hears me talking about turning 40 this year and “getting older” and you can see her starting to freak out a bit. She’s told me over and over again she doesn’t want me to go to heaven, she doesn’t want me to leave. I have reassured her that I will always be her angel. I’ll never be far from her, even if she can’t see me.

So when she brought up heaven again in the car yesterday, I was nervous to hear her questions. Would she get upset again? Would she ask me things that I couldn’t answer?

But instead she asked, “Can you pick whatever age you want to be when you get to heaven?”

What an interesting idea, I thought.

I smiled and said, “I can’t see why not.”

Her reply was perfect. “I’m going to pick 5 years old. Because at 5 years old, you, Daddy and Tooper (what she calls her brother) are all together.”

Kind of amazing how a 5 year old can figure out life’s biggest mysteries, then sing “Do You Want To Build A Snowman?” from Frozen two seconds later.

Parenting. It’s full of conversations where your children might actually know more than you.


My advice to bloggers…

I received an email last week from a blogger who was looking for advice. She was filling her favorites bar on her computer with all sorts of articles on editorial calendars, writing prompts, and things to “help” a blogger. She was overwhelmed and unsure how to keep her head above water.

To me, the answer was simple.

Just write.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of blogging – and that’s not such a bad thing at times – but in the end it’s about one thing – what you write. So yes, take the time to learn the business things, but when you are feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to go – do what you did in the beginning – write.

Here’s the truth. I don’t have an editorial calendar. I don’t know what I’m going to write about each week. Do you know why? Because then I wouldn’t be authentic. For the type of blog I have, I believe authenticity is key. I write about what’s happening in my life right now. I write and hope that there’s something there you can either relate to or laugh your ass off about – or maybe, sometimes, even both.

So my advice to bloggers? Just write. If you can plan, great. If you can’t – don’t sweat it. Just be real and write about what you love. And if you don’t love it – don’t write about it. Readers can see through fake faster than Miley Cyrus can take her clothes off and jump on construction equipment.

So just write.


Lessons learned in 2014…

momaha logoI don’t make New Year’s resolutions.

I’d love to lose weight or read more, but at the end of the day such resolutions only set me up for guilt. And considering that I was raised an Italian Catholic, I have plenty of that to go around.

Instead, I think about the lessons I learned in 2014. Lessons like why I love PBS during winter break, or how I can use Mac & Cheese really to my advantage with my kids…

Ya know, the serious things in life.

Come read my list for my latest Momaha post.

Did you learn any of these same things? Tell me what YOU learned…



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ADHD – What do you do when your child’s teacher recommends testing?

The Sassy Housewife - compressedYes, I’m sarcastic. Yes, I’m snarky. And most definitely, yes, I’m inappropriate at times.

However, there are those rare occasions when I’m serious and actually try to help people without the use of humor. Don’t look so confused, it’s true.

For the latest The Sassy Housewife I received an email from a mom who was scared. She was worried her son was becoming a bully and didn’t know what to do when his teacher recommended getting him tested for ADHD. She was worried about medications and what that would all mean for her son.

Come read and share your own experiences and advice. The more we talk about these things, the more people don’t feel they are alone.


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