How to Shop for a Mattress

K, so this title is a little misleading.  There should be a question mark after “Mattress.”  I don’t know how to shop for a mattress.  I need help.

Ever bought a mattress?

Ever bought one and wish you could jump on a plane, find the person who would create such a torture device and punch them in the eyeball?

When my hunky hubs and I got hitched we slept on either my old mattress or his old mattress for the first 2 ½ years.  His was older and kind of lumpy and mine was memory foam (which I loved but him not so much).

Plus, both mattresses were queen sized which really isn’t big enough for a former football playa and another person of any size bigger than a newborn baby.

Needless to say, we decided it was time for a “real” mattress.

We had visions (fantasies, really) of walking into our bedroom and seeing a beautiful, big bed calling softly, “Rick, Erica, you’re about to have the best night of sleep ever… Remember the Venetian Hotel in Vegas???  Remember how you slept beautifully all night and woke up feeling rejuvenated?  That’s about to happen again!”

No one warned us that mattress shopping is more frustrating than buying a car.  And just about as expensive.

We spent hours online researching brands and types of mattresses.  We went to mattress stores.  Huge, big rooms filled with nothing but mattresses.  If anything should help us figure this out, it should be huge, big rooms filled with nothing but mattresses.

Ever tried shopping at a store filled with beds while trying to keep 2 kids from jumping on them?

{Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.}

We talked to friends who had recently purchased mattresses… get a pillow top, get this brand, that brand, get a Sleep Number, don’t get a Sleep Number, get a Tempurpedic, get a Beautyrest… I thought my brain would explode.

We finally went to Macy’s, tried out a few mattresses (iffya know whatti mean) (j/k) (or am I?) and settled on a pillow top king-sized mattress.

It was delivered and we were SO EXCITED to finally experience a night of good sleep.  The mattress was the perfect combination of soft but firm.  Like the perfect parent.

But like the perfect parent, the perfect mattress is, too, a unicorn.

We had 90 days to return the mattress if we weren’t satisfied.  I’m preeetty sure that we decided there was a problem on day 91.

First we noticed our bed was beginning to look like a choppy ocean.  Flat-dip-flat-dip-flat.  We would get in the bed and both roll into our respective dips.  Not sexy.

The only thing that bed said to us was, “Hey, you picked me.  I’m all you got so let’s du dis.”  Apparently we purchased the My Cousin Vinny Mattress.

Rick was already talking about getting a new one.  WE JUST SPENT A SMALL FORTUNE ON THIS THING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My back ached.  My shoulders hurt.  My neck was stiff.  How is this possible?

I was determined to make it work.  I researched the issue and discovered it’s common with pillow tops, especially king-sized pillow tops.  And the issue is so common that there’s business in creating products that will “fix” the dips.

Hey, I just spent all my money on this thing.  I don’t have $150 to fork over to you for a “fix”.

One blog I read said that the manufacturer will refund your money if the dips are greater than 2 inches.  How am I supposed to measure that?  Stick a ruler in the dip and try to line it up with the flat part?  I can assure you that the dips are greater than 2 inches.  But I’m not going to try to measure it.

Another blog I read said to stuff flat pillows under the mattress where the dips are.

So that’s where we are.

It worked for a little while.  But now it’s not working any longer.

As it stands, we will be buying another mattress soon.  Probably a Sleep Number.  Maybe.


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Look Like a Billion Bucks for Free

Ever see women who look like they really have it together?

Hair is always perfect, clothes are always stylish, shoes are always to die for, nails are always beautiful, skin is glowing, and makeup is pristine.

Then there is me.


Don’t get me wrong- I try.  But I feel so guilty spending tons of money on myself with 2 kids at home.

{Oh, sorry, kids.  No new socks this winter.  Mommy needed another pair of knee-high boots.  I only had black ones and they didn’t match this outfit.  Thanks for understanding.}

The result:  nails get manicured once or twice a year, facials on special occasions, skin that looks as tired as I feel, makeup that gets applied in my car (if at all), flip flops, pony tails, and a closet full of hodge-podge finds from TJ Maxx.

After talking to other moms, it seems a lot of us feel like we’re too busy putting out kiddie fires (hopefully not literal ones) to really plan and put ourselves together.  Not to mention the college tuition daycare costs that keep us from Jimmy.  Jimmy Choo.

I’m here to give you hope.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money or time to look like a billion bucks.  (See that?  I allowed for inflation.  We’ve been saying that we want to look like a million bucks for decades so I changed it.  You’re welcome.)

For me, the wake-up call began about 2 years ago.  I’ve never been “heavy” but I’d stopped working out and stopped thinking about what I was putting in my body.  I was eating shat.  To those who knew me it was obvious.

{Example of what my husband would say: “Uh, honey, did you just grab that donut out of the trash and eat it???”

Me: “Shut Up.”}

I was depressed.

My son has asthma but as a baby he hadn’t been diagnosed yet.  We just knew he was sick ALL THE TIME.  My husband’s job isn’t flexible so it was (and still is) up to me to take off if the kids get sick.  I felt like I had to constantly choose between my career, which I’d fought so hard to build, and my new baby, which I loved more than I could describe.  I resented having to work.  I resented my job.

The stress of knowing that work wasn’t optional for me but neither was being a mom was overwhelming.  If I’m being honest, I just wanted to disappear.

I spent most of my life fighting.  I fought to excel, I fought for relationships, I fought to compete in the corporate world, I fought to maintain my career while I moved around as an Army wife, I fought for my babies, I was tired of fighting.  I’d given up.

One day after a really bad day I bought a scale (side note: don’t EVER buy a scale on a bad day).  I’d gained 12 pounds after initially working so hard to lose all of the weight I gained while pregnant with Roman.  I’m 5’1” and very small-boned.  12 pounds on my frame is preeeetty noticeable.  I realized that if something inside didn’t change then my body and emotional well-being would continue to suffer.

The morning after I bought the scale I downloaded an app that can track the calories you eat.  I realized I was eating almost 1,000 calories a day more than I should have.

The day after that I downloaded several exercise apps.  I also started using my gym again.

My priority was me as a member of my family.  My family is #2 only to God.  If I didn’t start treating myself as a member of my family I knew it would start to affect my parenting and my relationship with my husband if it hadn’t already.

{Hey, E, your face is red again.  Are those- yep.  You need to address those hives.}

I didn’t set a goal to be Mrs. Hardbody.  Or Mrs. Universe.  Or Heidi Klum.

I just wanted my daughter to see her mom care enough about herself to get healthy so she would have a positive female example in her life.  I wanted my son to see his mom make herself a priority so he’ll know that in the future it’s ok for his spouse to do the same.  I wanted my husband to see his wife try again.

I wanted to feel good about myself again.  I was done wanting to disappear.  I wanted to live.  I wanted my kids and my husband to see what it looks like when a woman lives life happy and unapologetic.

I’m happy again because I’m deliberately living my life instead of feeling like I’m just along for the ride.  I haven’t even lost much weight.  But I work out more.  I still have treats on occasion but I’m smart about it. (Not including the 6 “fun sized” bags of M&M’s I devoured last night.  We all have weaknesses, right?)

I cook more and I cook healthy meals.  I have shortcuts so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming.  I no longer come home at 6 pm on a week night and cook until 6:30 or 7, eat, give the kids a bath, and put them to bed without having much time with them.

My friends are a priority again.  Having fun is a priority again.  I don’t allow myself to make excuses anymore for being boring.  I’m a grown-ass woman.  I’m in charge of me.

I started trying to look like I care about myself.  It doesn’t cost anything to hold your shoulders back and lift your head high.  Confidence is free but sometimes hard to find.  We should all have it.  We all deserve it.

Smiling… FREE.  I have a bad case of resting bitch face.  Being more aware of it took time and effort.  But that’s free, too.

Running was my nemesis.  Running was the Beverly Leslie to my Karen Walker.  It was the Dr. Evil to my Austin Powers.  The Robby to my Joe Dirt.  You get the idea.  I was gonna beat it.  (That’s what he said.)

My first goal: a 5k.  I downloaded Couch to 5k and learned how to run.  I ran every night in my neighborhood after I got the kids to sleep.  My neighborhood is just one little street.  I’m sure I looked cray-zee running up and down the street a thousand times every night.  I didn’t care.  I did it.  And now I LOVE running.  I made it my biatch.

That app was free.  Cost to get in shape = $0

Hair… my hair and I have always had a love-hate relationship.  In the 3rd grade I begged for a perm.  (Stop laughing.)  My hair is very fine and VERY straight.  And I have a ton of it.  First of all, there wasn’t enough room on my head to hold all of the rollers.  Secondly, my hair was too heavy.

The lady left the stuff on my hair as long as she could but the perm didn’t take.  The next day my mom asked for her money back after showing the lady that there were no curls to be seen anywhere on my head.

A no refund policy meant that she gave me another perm in an attempt to “guarantee satisfaction.”  The second perm left me with holes burned in my scalp.  And burned hair.  No Bueno.

I’d given up on curly hair or hair styles of any kind.  I’d only ever had a hair style that lasted more than a day on two occasions.  The first time was when my lovely friend Sheb did my hair and it lasted beautifully for THREE DAYS!  Three days of glorious curls and compliments.

The second was a few months ago.  I decided to give Drybar another shot.  The first attempt resulted in my hair falling within an hour of leaving the salon.  This time ANOTHER THREE DAY HAIR ‘DO!!!!

Luckily, I watched what she did.  And I practiced.  A lot.

Now I do my own blowouts.  I went from having to wash my hair daily and always pulling it back in a ponytail to washing it once every 2 or 3 days, spending 30 minutes to an hour every 3 days styling it at night once the kids are asleep and that’s it.

Cost of my blowouts = $0

No more salon manicures when I can afford it.  I do my own now.  And I love it.  If you paint your own nails once you’ve more than paid for the $8 bottle of polish.  Bella loves our girl-time painting nails.

It definitely helps that my babies are a bit older now.  I was far too overwhelmed, especially when Roman was a baby, to attempt a lifestyle change.  But I can say that I feel pretty again.  I’m happier now because I’m making myself a priority.

To all my new moms who are overwhelmed and haven’t showered in a week, you’ll find your rhythm.  No one tells you how displaced you can feel as a new mom, especially a mom of more than one baby.  Take baby steps.  Five minutes here and there can help you feel like a woman again!

Anyone else have beauty shortcuts?

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OrangeTheory. Period.

Over the past few years I’ve seen these OrangeTheory places popping up all over Atlanta.  Usually there’s also a certified sign tosser showing off her mad skills on the side of the road with an OrangeTheory sign outside the locations to cause wrecks attract customers.

I had no idea what OrangeTheory was until my neighbor, Moet, told me about it.

I thought maybe it was a new cult.  That’s the thought that always pops into my brain first when I see a new establishment but don’t know what it is… I think I’ve watched too much Dateline.  No, that’s not possible.

It sounded cool!  A group fitness gym that guides you through pre-set workouts with an instructor.  You show up, get a heart monitor, go into the fitness room, and get ready to work.

Full disclosure, I’m a female meathead.  I love working out.  I love challenging myself and beating other people internally competing against other people.  If the guy beside me does 30 pushups, I’ll do 50 and laugh.  If the chick beside me does 100 crunches, I’ll do 200 and laugh.  If it’s just me, I’ll work until I hurt and do 10 more and cry.  It’s how I relieve stress and center myself.  I’ve done power yoga, body building, step, weight lifting, boxing, tai chi, “normal” yoga, boot camp, running; you name it, I’ve done it.

So, I was excited to try OrangeTheory with Moet and Candy.  We were all set for the 8:45 class Saturday morning.  I got up, got dressed in my cute little purple tank and white shorts, tied up my shoes and was off.  Moet drove cuz she just got a sweet new ride.

The class was pretty full.  I got signed in, got my heart monitor hooked up, and walked in the fitness room.  The room is broken into 3 sections: the treadmills, the rowing machines, and free weights.  Half the class started on the treadmills and the other half started on the weights/rowers.

I jumped on a treadmill.  One thing I noticed right away was that there were monitors positioned on the walls with everyone’s screen name listed in a square.  Your square is either in the green, orange, or red zone depending on how hard you’re working.  For every minute you spend in orange or red zones you get a point.   So that tells me instantly how hard I need to work to win challenge myself.

The half of the class that started on the treadmills spent about 25 minutes there.  It goes by really quickly.  You choose a base speed that you’re comfortable at, then the instructor will signal you to get ready to push yourself.  Your “push” speed is just a little faster to get your heart rate up.  Next is your “all out” speed.  This should make you very uncomfortable but you don’t stay there long.  For those of you who know the “lingo”, it’s interval training.

All was great.  I was in my groove, I was running comfortably on the treadmill, then I noticed something.  I’m terrified of falling off of a treadmill.  I’m convinced that at some point I’ll trip over my feet, go flying off the back, and possibly take out some unsuspecting people on my way down.  This was different.

Remember those white shorts I mentioned?  Well, I started my period.  In the middle of my workout.  Totally unprepared.  Remember that thing about sometimes hating my female form?  Ugh.  Usually I have a warning!!!  What tha face, body!?

So you know what I did?  Nothing.  I pretended like everything was normal.  Luckily, it wasn’t horribly noticeable.  We were all working hard and I wasn’t bending over at that point so it was ok.  Plus, if anyone had said something stupid I would have just yelled at them for being perverted and told management that I felt harassed.  #problemsolved

Who knows, I could be Facebook shamed soon.  If so, I’ll do what everyone else does and just deny it.

“Oh, no, that’s totally not me.  Can’t you tell that someone put my face on someone else’s body???”

But then I had to get off the treadmill.

After 25 minutes or so it was time to switch with the other half of the class.  This next 25 or so minutes was weights/rowing.  Trickier for me in my new predicament.  So I did what any self-respecting female who just started her period in the middle of a workout class would do… I stayed in the back of the group!

It definitely helped that the room was dimly lit.

We did squats (ugh… of course we would), lateral raises, and 100 meter row for as many sets as we could until the instructor signaled that it was time for us to go to the next set.  Then we did ab work and TRX band work, which I’d never done before but really liked.

The class is right at an hour long.  It was high energy, fun, and I felt like I got a really good workout in, despite my, um, condition.

I believe that as long as you are working on getting or staying fit, you should do whatever gets you motivated and keeps you moving.

In my opinion, OrangeTheory is perfect for those of you who may be just starting out or who need a group setting to keep you interested.  The format the always the same but the workout is always different.

Also, it’s not as “raw” as Crossfit, which can be intimidating and scary for some people (not to mention you can really hurt yourself if you don’t know what you’re doing).

At the end of the class you get a summary of your workout emailed to you so you can see how hard you kicked ass.

OrangeTheory has various monthly membership packages or you can get class bundles.  If you aren’t ready to commit to a monthly membership just yet, you can get a pack of 10 classes just to see how it goes.

I’m a little weary of fitness fads but I think OrangeTheory has what it takes to stick around for a while.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!  But take a tampon, just in case. Unless you have a penis. You know what, bring one anyway.

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5 Lessons We Can All Learn From Pirates

In today’s edition of Tangent Tuesday, I give you:

Lessons We Can All Learn From Pirates

First, let me clarify: I mean “pirates” as in the romanticized Jack Sparrow-style pirates.  I do NOT mean the present-day-terroristic-murderous-“I de cap-tin now” type.  In my opinion, those pirates should be called something else.  Maybe “terrorists”.  Or “dead”.  I digress.

I’ve always been fascinated with pirates.  When my hubs and I got married I tried to convince him we needed to be married by a pirate at Treasure Island in Vegas.

He didn’t agree.

{My second choice was Elvis but he didn’t like that idea, either.  We did, however, get swindled out of $5 from a little person who I think tried to dress as Elvis… #lessonlearned}

Pirates were entrepreneurial rock stars before their time.

Trailblazers, rebels, and party animals.  No!  Not Mark Zuckerberg or Axl Rose.  I’m talking about PIRATES!

“Finders Keepers!” 

Pirates were opportunists.  They pillaged from the seas.  They saw a security weak spot and took advantage of it.  I’m not saying we should go steal everyone’s shat.  I’m saying take advantage of opportunities!   Seize that golden ship before it sails away!  Then save 10%, give 10%, and buy lots of Louboutins with the rest.

Long hair don’t care! 

Do you think they cared what people thought?  No. “Well, Long Beard told Captain Morgan that Red Beard had a serious case of body odor.” Red Beard would have made both of them walk the plank fo sho.  How’s that for caring.

Do you think pirates would have adhered to a dress code?  Balls, no!  “Hey, uh, Mr. Blackbeard, I need to speak with you about the length of your beard.”  Mr. Blackbeard would definitely toss that poor rule enforcer off the side of the ole ship.

{But for a sec, imagine that you are an HR Manager for a Pirate ship… that would be hur-lar-ree-us.}  

If they wanted a red beard, they had a red beard.  If they wanted a black beard, they had a black beard.  If they wanted shells in their hair, they threw a shell in it.

They each had a personal brand. 

Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn didn’t start that fad.  Pirates did.  They had clever yet descriptive names, unique costumes (though I’m sure they weren’t costumes back then, just clothes but whatever).  They even had cool lingo. So cool that there is an entire day dedicated to talking like them.

They are proof we can work from paradise.

Pirates were the first to prove you could be productive while working from home. On the beach. Or even IN THE OCEAN.  Haven’t we all dreamed of packing up and moving to paradise?  Maybe working remotely or opening a beach bar… or an airbrush T-Shirt shack… Oh, not the shack?  Yeah, me either.

They encouraged drinking on the job. 

What’s there not to like about that one???  You know that, hands down, if you’re comparing jobs with someone, the person who is allowed to drink on the job will ALWAYS win.  Talk about an employee perk.  I’m 100% certain I would be a much happier employee with a little rum in my whatever it is I’m drinking.  Or eating.  Or, heck, just give me the bottle of rum.

So there you have it.  I love pirates (the fun, Disney kind).  And I’m pretty sure you do now, too.

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Why God Created Spiders

It’s a fact: spiders bring people together.

Last Saturday my dear friend Annie P. and I embarked on a whirlwind adventure.  We signed up for an improv class at Whole World Theater!

My lovely mom drove an hour to watch our babies so my hubs could study for his Boards re-certification and I could learn how to be spontaneously funny.

By the time the class started it seemed we had already lived through an entire improv comedy sketch.
It started at 3pm and was about 20 minutes away so of course I left an hour early BECAUSE I WAS SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!  AP lives close to the theater so I swung by to pick her up.  Our first hurdle: getting her in my vehicle.

{Wow, I just sounded like a creepy serial killer.}

E’s Yukon: “Command, please.”
E: “Call Anne on mobile.”
E’s Yukon: “Calling Lauren Nieman.”

Ugh.  I’ll just send a text.  Dam Bluetooth technology.

Soon she was in my car and we were on our way.  YAY!!!!!

I’ve been to this theater many times but the last time was about 10 years ago.  My memory was a little rusty.  Apparently, Anne’s was, too.  So we may have driven past it a few times… what?

Eventually we found our intended location and parked conveniently in the lot beside the building.  We excitedly made our way inside (that’s what he said) the theater.  Before we could say anything, the girl at the front desk was mid-freak-out.

There was an S-P-I-D-E-R!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I have 2 phobias.  Pretty serious ones.  One so bad it may land me in the psych ward.  However, spiders aren’t one of them.  Luckily, Annie P doesn’t have a spider phobia either.  And she stepped up big time.

{For one, she has a much better line of sight than I do.  I couldn’t see over the counter.}

Annie P saves the day.  I thought the girl behind the counter (well, at this point she was across the room) was going to kiss her.  Unfortunately, she didn’t.  But I think there will forever be an unbreakable bond between that girl and Anne.

This one instance wouldn’t prove that spiders create forever friends.  However, two cases of such bonds may prove more than just a coincidence.

About a month ago a co-worker whom I hadn’t yet met came to my office to ask a question.  I stood up to shake his hand and while I was speaking to him I noticed a small spider on his shoulder.  Without thinking, I gently brushed it off and said, “Not that you need me to brush your shoulders off, but you had a small spider on your shirt.”

Thus began the best, most impressive heeby-jeeby freak-out dance I’d ever witnessed from a grown-ass man.  From that day on, he randomly appears and smiles at me.  He rarely says much.  Just stares and smiles.  It’s like he’s now indebted to me forever for saving his life from a 1 centimeter-sized spider.

See?  Spiders DO bring people together.  Even if it is awkward and weird.

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Have Pretty Nails AND A Latte

Here’s the dilemma:

Your nails look like crap.  You don’t want to spend $20 plus tip at a salon to get a traditional manicure because you know it will last 3 hours before you chip the polish trying to dig your kid’s toy out from behind the TV console.  You don’t want to spend $40 plus tip at a salon to get a gel manicure because you have to eat this week.  Also, what if you want to change your polish?  That’s another $25 plus tip.

Can’t take that stuff off by yourself.

(Believe me, I’ve tried.  Pinterest is a liar.  I walked around for 15 minutes with cotton balls dipped in acetone stuck to my nails with aluminum foil after scrapping off the top coat only to have big patches left that wouldn’t come off.)

Ladies, I’m about to become your new BFF.

I introduce to you Sally Hansen Miracle Gel nail polish.  I don’t usually shamelessly plug products but this stuff is AMAZING.

But, E, I don’t have a UV light.

Don’t need it.  It cures in regular light.

But, E, I don’t want to scrape that junk off of my nails!

Don’t have to.  It comes off super easily with REGULAR nail polish remover.  BOOM.

But, E, I like the way gel lasts for weeks.

This stuff will last for weeks if you aren’t tooooo hard on your nails.  If you are hard on your nails, it will still last for at least a week.

But, E, I’m horrible at doing my own nails.

Paint it messy then jump in the shower after it dries and scrub off the extra.  OR dip a cotton swab in polish remover and go over it.  I paint my own nails like an overly excited 18-month old.  I get it.

But, E, I-

Stop.  Trust me.

Chances are you’ve seen this new product without realizing how awesome it is.  It’s mixed in with the other polishes at stores but sometimes it has its own display, too.  Look for MIRACLE GEL.

You need 2 things: the color and the top coat.  Each around $8 at Target.  Don’t forget the top coat.  That’s where the magic happens.

You have 48 colors to choose from.  If you need more than that, you’re too high maintenance and I can’t help you.  I can, however, recommend a good therapist.

Just kidding.  This stuff also works with your own polish!  The “official” Sally Hansen site tells you it won’t.  But it will.  Just slap on several coats of your fave polish, WAIT UNTIL IT’S COMPLETELY DRY!!!!!!!!!  Then apply 2 coats of the Miracle Gel top coat.

Make sure your nails are clean.  Then paint 2 coats of color on your nails, letting each coat dry before applying the next.  Once the second color coat is dry, brush on a coat or two of the top coat.  It comes in a black bottle but it isn’t black.  Promise.

These are my nails.  I painted them five days ago.  No chips.  I did have one nailmergency when I thought there was a chip and I picked at it until I peeled the polish off.  Oops.  But it was quickly rectified because I can touch up at home.  Eat it, D Nails.


That’s it.  Enjoy your fancy, expensive-looking nails.  Enjoy the compliments.  Enjoy knowing you can pay your bills this week.  Enjoy knowing you won’t internally cringe when your kid asks you to fish his Power Ranger toy from the bottom of the toy box.

You can also wash dishes with ease but I won’t tell if you keep your hubs thinking it’s detrimental to the aesthetic of your beautiful nails.

What’s your beauty shortcut secret?

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Don’t Wake the Day Dreamer

Every once in a while (probably four times a day) I catch myself day dreaming.  {The rest of my day is spent not realizing I’m in a dream-like state in the daytime}.  What do I think of when I’m lost in day dreams?  Funny you should ask:

What if Joan Jett never cracked the music business and had to get a “real” job?  Would she eventually concede to the norms of society and wear cardigans and drive a minivan and volunteer to be the team mom for her kids’ soccer teams?  What would her job be?  Would she work at a bank?  Or would she be exactly as she is now and just not care?  Would she bust up in her kids’ school wearing chains, tats, and feathered hair?  Gosh, I hope so.

What if unicorns were real?  Would they use their horns as a defense mechanism?  Would they try to stab people with it?  That would be a bad dose of reality.

Doc: So, what brings you in to the ER today?  I’m going to assume it’s that gaping hole in your abdomen.

Me: I got stabbed by a unicorn.

Doc: Huh.  I thought unicorns were nice.

Me: Yeah.  Me, too.

Would you gain magical powers if you were stabbed by a unicorn and survived?  That might make it worth the pain…

What if the custom used for naming babies and pets was to allow kids to pick the name?  My little sister would be David Cholesterol.  My son’s name would be Flame.  My niece’s name would be Little Baby.  Our female Lab’s name would be Mr. Farty Pants.

If you notice I’m deep in thought, please interrupt me.  Because chances are, I’m not solving for Global Warming or the world’s energy crisis.  I’m considering a world in which dragons are the main mode of transportation.

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Mom’s Life Lessons

my beautiful mom and me
my beautiful mom and me
It’s a fact, I have the BEST mom.

I was lucky to have had a childhood filled with love.  All families are crazy.  That’s what makes them family.  But I can honestly say that throughout my entire childhood my mom put her family above everything else, crazy and all.

When I became a mom I had never really been around a baby before, at least not enough to know what it would be like to raise one.  I should have been terrified.  But I wasn’t.  I felt prepared.  I felt like a pro.  And that is ONLY because I had the best teacher in the world.

Without realizing it, I’d just graduated from Vicki’s Mom School.  Looking back, here’s what I learned:

LAUGH (cuz she’s going to)

Always laugh.  Laugh at yourself, laugh with your kids, watch funny movies, find the fun and funny in the tough situations.  Growing up, if I was acting a fool and tripped, first she made sure I was ok then she laughed (ok, there may have been a time or two that the order was switched).  And I laughed.  We were too busy laughing to be embarrassed.

JUST TRY (then try again)

I wasn’t the best at anything growing up.  I wasn’t a star athlete or the most popular.  I failed at some things that I really wanted to excel at.  There were times I studied so much I barely slept and still didn’t do well on a test.  But, no matter what, my mom always told me that as long as I did MY best I succeeded.  Work harder to do better next time.  When I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in the 7th grade, she took me to gymnastics and cheer camp.  And I realize now that she lived that philosophy as a mom.  She always did her best and every decision she made and action she took as a mom was out of love for us.


I used to get so AGGRAVATED when she would tell me to go fix my hair or iron my clothes or put on makeup.  But it only takes one bad picture to see what she meant.  It was her way of saying “always have on clean underwear”.

BE YOURSELF (just don’t get tattoos)

I can’t tell you how often I was sent to the office in high school for my choice of clothing.  I wasn’t showin’ my hoo-ha or anything (I don’t think).  But I pushed the limits.  And she let me.  My mom let me express myself.  Piercings, she didn’t bat an eye.  Crazy hair colors, she didn’t care.  Buuuuut I learned that she isn’t a fan of my many tats.  Limit.  Found.  She still loves me, though.


But if I did (and I have), she’d still love me.


She didn’t expect us to be treated better than anyone else but she sure as HELL wasn’t going to allow us to be treated worse.  If injustice was afoot, Vicki was on it.  A few teachers will probably never forget her.  Beverly Goldberg would have been her BFF, for sure.

She was a single mom.  She worked fulltime.  She had 2 kids who were involved in sports and activities.  My mom was there for us 100% of the time.  We weren’t raised by baby sitters or grandparents or the chain-smoking neighbor with rollers in her hair.  I don’t know how she did it.  But I am so, so grateful.

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What It’s Like to Be a Parent


In honor of the upcoming Mother’s Day I thought I’d take this opportunity to share what motherhood has been like for me.  My children have taught me more than I ever thought possible.  And the parenting lessons I’ve learned would be wasted if I kept them all to myself.  So, to honor the lessons taught to me by my little oompa loompas, I present to you…

What it’s like to be a parent:

Bedtime can be a struggle.  Even the kids that start off as great sleepers can become quite the little boogers once they decide they have better things to do than waste time sleeping.  Roman is that child for me.  Thus, parenthood is a constant state of exhaustion. 

Roman: Mom!  Mommy!  Mom!  Mommy, I love you!  Mom, I love you more than my motorcycle!  Mommy.  Are you up here?  Can you hear me, mom?  Do you love me more than my motorcycle???
Me: Yes, Roman.  Go to sleep.
Roman: No you don’t.

Roman: Mom! Is Chinese Spanish?
Me: No.
Roman: Then what is it?
Me: Chinese.
Roman: Oh. Do they make fire?
Me: Go to sleep, Roman.
Roman: Why?

Roman: Mommy!
Me: Go to sleep, Roman.
Roman: Can I tell you a secret?
Me: What is it, Roman?
Roman: Once upon a time there where three little bears. Do you like that story, Mom?
Me: Go to sleep, Roman.
Roman: I’m so scared.
Me: There’s nothing to be scared of, Roman.
Roman: Yes, there is.  Are you upstairs?

Kids are constantly trying to figure things out.  And mine are usually trying to figure out how to get me to understand how hard they have it so they can get out of doing anything that involves manual labor (a.k.a. picking up after themselves). Thus, parenthood is a constant state of frustration. 

Bella: Mom, I have more responsibilities than you.
Me: Oh yeah? How’s that?
Bella: I have to stay clean, I have to check on Lola every morning, I have to check on Roman every night… Actually, I don’t do that. Mom, did you know unicorns were around in the 80s?

Me: Bella, you need to pick up your room before you go downstairs and watch a movie.
Me: Uh, yes you can.  You messed it up by yourself.
Bella: Well… You just don’t get me.

Me: Roman, why did you take everything out of both toy boxes?
Roman: Because I’m taking a bath.
Me: That’s not a bathtub.  That’s a toy box.  Please get out of the toy box and pick everything up so someone doesn’t hurt themselves tripping on one of your toys.
Roman: I’m taking a bath.

Kids are like little sponges.  They soak up knowledge like crazy.  Then apply their hilarious kid-spin.  Thus, parenthood is constantly having to hold in your laughter so your kids don’t think you’re laughing at them.  (Even though you are internally dying.)

Bella: Mom. The pee is the drink and the poop is the food. Dad told me that. Or maybe I misunderstood.

Bella: Mom, what’s a sweet tooth?
Me: it means you like desserts. I have a sweet tooth and so do you.
Bella: Oh! Which tooth is it?

Bella: Mommy, how do you spell “hath” like “I hath to do sonthig”?
Me: h-a-v-e
Bella: No! I HATH to! Not THAT word!

Bella: Mom, how do you spell “nut”?
Me: “N-U-T”
Bella: Thaaaank you. And how do you spell “case”? Nutcase. It’s a compound word!

Roman: Mommy, is this my lunch?
Me: No, Roman. Boogers are not your lunch. Get your finger out of your nose.
Roman: They’re from my nose!

Bella: Mom, no one knows if snakes are sleeping or not.  Because they don’t have those things that blink.  But I know.  Actually, I don’t.

School can be challenging for “spirited” children, such as mine.  Not scholastically but socially.  It’s like trying to fit a super-smart hexagon-shaped peg into a boring, ordinary square hole.  I discovered this last year when my Bella started kindergarten.  Parenthood can be so vexing.

Bella: Mom, Melissa thought I was trying to cut her hair. But I wasn’t.
Me: Why would she think that?
Bella: I just wanted her to hear the scissors… Mrs Kirshner took my scissors away but she didn’t know I have an extra pair!

Me: Bella.  Did you have to go to the Principal’s Office today?
Bella:  No.
Me:  Mrs. Cope sent me an email and said that she sent you to the Principal’s Office.
(For the record, I cried when I got an email saying my kindergartener was sent to the Principal’s Office.)
Bella: No.  It was Ms. Boyd’s office.  She’s the Assistant Principal.
Me: Why did you have to go to Ms. Boyd’s office, Bella?
Bella: I didn’t pull the fire alarm.  I just touched it.

Me: Bella! How was your trip to the zoo?
Bella: Good.
Me: What animals did you see?
Bella: I don’t really wanna talk about it.

Kids are incredibly, sometimes painfully honest.  Parenthood is eye-opening.

Bella: Mom, you need a new look. An old-fashioned look. From the 90’s.

Bella: Mom, when you coach my cheerleading you should wear makeup. It covers up your crinkles.

Me: Bella, do you like my hair better curly or straight?
Bella: Curly. When it’s straight it’s kinda like, you know, like the way bad air smells? That’s how it looks.

Me: BELLA! I have to tell you something really important.
Bella: What?!
Me: I love you so much!
Bella: Mom, that’s not important. Breaking news is important. This is not breaking news.

They know exactly what they want making my job feel pointless.

Bella picking up a 10-pack of candy hearts at the store: Mom, these are my favorite candy!  Be-be ma-be ma… I have no idea what they say.

Bella: Nonna, you can call me Bella.  Or Flame.

Me: It’s important to decide what kind of person you want to be, Bella. For example, if you want to be a good person then –
Bella: Um no, Mom. Scratch that. I don’t want to be a good person. I want to be AWESOME.

And what they don’t want making my job, well, still feel pointless.

Bella: Mom, I am NOT supposed to be in cold weather.

Me: Roman, why did u wait until after I opened the pop tart to tell me u didn’t want it?
Roman: You talk funny and I’m a clown.

Sometimes it seems they have ALL the answers.  Parenthood can be so confusing.

Bella: Mom, you have to circle a time you’re available for Roman’s celebrating cultures day.
Me: I’m from the US so I don’t know what my culture is.
Bella: No, you’re from Mississippi.

Bella: Mommy & Daddy sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love then comes Mary. Next comes Mary with a baby carriage. That’s not all, that’s not all. Here comes Mary with a baseball bat.
Me: Why does Mary have a baseball bat?
Bella: Cuz she stole the baby!

Bella: Roman, pick a number.
Roman: 3
Bella: You’re getting married.
Roman: To you?
Bella: That’s illegal, right, mom?

Sometimes they just need a little reassurance.  Parenthood just is what it is.

Roman: Mommy, where is Thor’s hammer?
Me: You have it, Roman.
Roman: That’s right!

Bella: Um, Mooommmmy, um, you know, um, you, um, Moooommy, um. Hey!  Mommy, can I like um……. Can I, um, when is Brooke moving?
Me: She moved a month ago, Bella.

Kids can be very sympathetic.  Parenthood is rewarding!

Bella: Mom, I feel sorry for you. It must hurt!  Having two children!!

Me: Roman! Stop jumping on me!
Roman: I was just giving you a courtesy flush!

And adorably sweet.  Parenthood is something I wouldn’t trade for all of the world.

Roman: Mommy, can I keep you forever?

Bella: Roman, you shine my day.

If you’ve never experienced a simultaneous feeling of love and nausea, try this one:

Roman: Mommy, you can go on a date with me! Get on my motorcycle.

And sometimes parenthood elicits a feeling that can’t be described.  With words.  Usually because I’m laughing too hard.  Or just plain dumbfounded.

Roman: Bella, did you get your pajamas on?
Bella: WHAT? No! Do you think I’m ludicrous??? Mom, what does ludicrous mean?

Bella: Mom, what if Roman’s middle name was Middle Name?!  What if my middle name was Middle Name.  I bet my teacher would have a hard time spelling it!

Bella: I was literally throwing up in my brain.

Me: Bella, you may want a sweatshirt this morning.
Bella: Well, where is it?
Me: Probably in your bedroom.
Bella: Oh. Well, I’m good. No need to waste a good day!

Parenthood is a state in and of itself.  Rewarding, taxing, confusing, self-assuring, empowering, deflating all mashed together.  But when a little love nugget wraps her or his arms around you and tells you that you are loved… #imelt.

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Parenthood’s A Battlefield

Love isn’t a battlefield.  That is a myth perpetuated by Pat Benatar.


Parenthood is the real battlefield.  Only the enemy isn’t really an enemy.  It’s an adorable little person that you love more than life itself.

Ever tried sleeping in the same bed as a 3 year old?

Ever woken up with a black eye and a broken nose?

When my son gets mad, I could very well see whatever is in his hand come flying at my face.  Surprisingly, he has amazing aim.  Or, I could become the victim of an attempted head butt.  It’s really aggressor’s choice at that point.  But it keeps me agile.  I like that.

As they grow older the battle turns from physical to psychological.

For example, my daughter needs help with her homework.  So I offer to help.  She is supposed to come up with words that end in –ight.  Easy.  Here is the space she has to write those words:

Empty Text Box

And she does this:

Text Box

So I say, “Why don’t you rewrite that word smaller so that you have room for the other words you think of that end in –ight”.

I get this response after she throws her pencil, “YOU JUST DON’T GET ME!  I’LL NEVER GET IT RIGHT!  YOU JUST DON’T LOVE ME!”  And then she storms upstairs as dramatically as possible.  Mos def Academy Award worthy.

Wow, that’s intense.

A few minutes later she comes back to the table like nothing happened…

My hubs: Uh…

Me: Don’t question it…

It’s a fact that growing up is hard.  Surviving it as a parent is just as difficult.  But alcohol makes it better.  Alcohol infused cupcakes makes it great.  Just sayin.

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