Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dear Mommies,

So school's out and here it comes, the dreaded summer cold. While it's 80 degrees outside, you're shivering under a pile of blankets inside. You can thank all the kids, set free from their classrooms to spread germs far and wide.

Treatment options include: drinking lots of fluids, resting as much as possible and take in a few fashion movies. These movies are pure eye candy, they won't make you cry (you're eyes aand nose are probably already running), they won't make you think too hard (your head hurts any way) and they may just make you sleepy--here are some of my favorites:

1.       Devil Wears Prada

2.        To Catch a Thief

3.       The Dressmaker

4.       Pret-a-porter

5.       YSL (Yves Saint Laurent)

6.       Singing in the Rain

7.       My Fair Lady

8.       Grace of Monaco

9.       After the Ball

10.   Supermodel

Also fashion documentaries: "Dior and I" and "Iris." Below are surprising movies wear you'll see pretty clothes. A lot.

1.       The Blindside

2.       Magic in the Moonlight

3.       Marie Antoinette (2006 Academy Award for best costume)

4.       Breakfast at Tiffany's

5.       The Handmaiden

6.       Great Gatsby (both versions and newcomer: Live by Night) - All flapper inspired costumes.

7.       Personal Shopper

For TV episodes there's Sex in the City, Lipstick Jungle, and Pretty Little Liars. What are your favorites?

Seriously though, get some sleep & relax mommies you've got this.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

I was once told in my young, teen-ish days that I looked like Princess Leia. I considered the compliment wildly inaccurate. But still, it was nice to hear. Carrie Fisher who was Princess Leia has passed away. But, I’d like to add my voice to the chorus--specifically what she did for girls (and writers) everywhere.

Before Princess Leia, most princess characters were fluffy, frivolous and in desperate need of rescuing. Leia Organa turned that trope on its head. Born into royalty, Leia became a general. And, over the 39 years of Star Wars, Fisher showed those in the industry that a tough little girl who can take care of herself (thank you very much) actually resonated with movie goers worldwide. She became a perennial hero. Also due to talented writers, gritty female protagonists who made the most of their horrible situations were often box office smashes.

I'm sure this archetype inspired the writing of Disney’s movies. Heroines like “Belle” of Beauty & the Beast chose a more noble path than most characters who came before her. Like Princess Leia they chose the better path, resisted when necessary. They put themselves on the line for those they loved. They fought with brains and guts and sometimes weapons. These female characters who took chances and endured the consequences without bawling for a knight in shining armor are the types of characters to whom every girl can relate. 

Besides being an actress and a writer, Carrie Fisher was called in to be a script doctor. These wizards of words were called upon by industry executives to take a screenplay and/or script and polish the piece until the director (and everyone else) is happy. She was rarely credited for any work she did in this regard.

Fisher, was also a mother, as was her character, Leia. Both the woman and the character played a rather hands-off role in the raising of their children--for a variety of reasons. There's no telling if this was a good decision. I won't make excuses for Carrie Fisher, but I know she battled addiction. 

Fisher’s tough princess gives a lot of us non-princesses a role we can aspire to. Not the cleanest, mother of the year, glamour queen, but a real, down-to-earth broad, who admitted her frailties and sins and challenged herself to get better, be better. It’s the least any hero can do.

Relax Mommies, you've got this.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why my kid?

 They wouldn't let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games!

  Aw, who needs 'em anyway...

There will be a time as a mom when you'll see your child getting the short end of the stick.

There are many children who excel in academics, sports, the arts--you name it. But there are just as many who don't. Chances are, your child may be one of the ones not picked for basketball. Your child may be bullied for being bad at sports, mocked for having a lisp, called stupid for failing math; left out of the reindeer games.

It won't feel so good. You'll have to stand by and watch your child not do well in things. It may range from the silly--being laughed at for not coloring in the lines or the serious--being diagnosed with autism.

You may be tempted to protect your child, to remedy the situation. But as painful as these situations are, they are life lessons. It's your chance to teach your child, she may not succeed at everything she tries. But she is still valuable and lovable. Remind her every day how special and irreplaceable she is. It never gets old to be told you're one of a kind. She doesn't need perfect A's in English to be a great kid.

If she's mocked, tell her she doesn't need to retaliate, she can ignore the bullies and move on. Some of the most painful things she may hear can come from peers or teachers or siblings.

An insult may be only temporary but it can last a lifetime. We tend to hang on to hurts. Help her deal with them now before she grows up. Without balance and forgiveness, a hurt child can grow into bitter adult.

Relax mommies, you've got this.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Yay, Fall!

 I heart Halloween…part 2

And of course, it’s time for the great pumpkin! You’ll see the pumpkins being harvested. One of my favorite veggies (a squash by birth), it really is abused. Carved, baked, processed, pureed, tossed smashed, and then after the end of the year--ignored. During Halloween, the pumpkin is called Jack o’ Lantern. The alternate name change also changes its persona. Once a fat little squash it suddenly becomes mean and nefarious. Horrible faces gleam from its surface and inside its gleam seems unworldly. I prefer an intact squash whose color is warm and bright and reminiscent of an autumn sunset.

I love the softness of Halloween. The warm, worn memories. The feast and festivals were never meant to be scary or edgy. The living commemorated the dead, they had a comfort with death. They did not run in terror of the knife-wielding, zombies who sort of resembled their loved-ones. It was a time to remember those who went before you and to remember them fondly, not of hauntings and “boos” but, laughter and a few tears. Good times.

Leave Halloween alone. Keep your gore and screams. I’ll take the leaves and the warmth and the memories of my loved ones.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Yay, Fall!

 I heart Halloween…

But not for the reasons you think.

I’m not a big horror movie fan—so you won’t find me watching Friday the 13th or even Halloween on Halloween. I don’t do haunted hayrides or field of screams. I don’t like blood and gore. I worked in a trauma unit so I’m good (for rest of my life). I don’t even buy candy for trick or treaters'. We stopped getting little ones a long time ago. We do take our kids out to another neighborhood for a safe trick or treat experience. There are no sidewalks where we live. I’ve had maybe one or two Halloween parties and that’s fine with me.

I love Halloween. The real thing—the whole thing, the before and the after, and the true meaning of it, because it is the best part of fall. The term Halloween is a corruption of the words, “All Hallows' Eve.” It marks the night before All Saints Day, followed by All Souls Day. These feasts got a little bigger and turned into festivals. Many cultures developed all manner of traditions accompanying the festival. No need for a history lesson. There are other things I love about this time.

The temperature is decidedly cooler. The daylight is shortened naturally (and man-made daylight savings time). Leaves turn and the fall colors, which typically reach their peak in October, are glorious--bright yellows, deep reds, and rusty browns. The oranges, golds and purples add amazing depth and richness to the foliage. If you’ve never been outside during fall, you’re missing the best show ever. And it’s like a series, always something different.

Halloween indicates the end of the harvest and the beginning of the thanks for produce; plentiful and sustaining. Whether you can or freeze, there’s nothing better on your table than homemade sauces and soups (and healthier too). The apples are picked now in earnest, and can go until mid-November.

There’s the harvesting of the corn, soybean and hay before the crops go dormant. The grape harvest and subsequent wine-making is another favorite of mine. When Halloween arrives, it marks the time for frost wines. Grapes are picked on or near the first frost. The chilly crystals sitting on top of the grapes is supposed to add a delicate taste to the wine. Either way, the wine tastes good whether or not you can detect the difference. Some wines are bottle but others are uncorked.

(And there’s more next week…)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Enjoy the Season

Fall is Here!

Fall is a great time of year—but it can be so tough on a mom.

The summer is over and the kids are back in school. It might be quiet(er) in the house but you’ll still be busy. There’s a ton of school events; meeting the teachers, field trips, concerts, plays and fundraisers. If you’re a home-schooling mom, you’ve got lessons and projects and planning galore.

It also reminds me that my children are getting older, they are going into the next grade and doing “bigger” things with more responsibility and less hovering from me.

Yet, it’s time for the harvest, piles of leaves, canning, hay rides and pumpkins, and the best weather ever—sweater weather. There’s fun sports for the little gals and guys— soccer, cross country running, football and hockey. And then, we’re closing in on the end of another year.

What a rush to get it “over with” --  silly retail stores have Halloween and Christmas decorations side by side. Pick one and enjoy it.

 Halloween cupcakes-taking goodies to a whole new level.

I love Halloween—the quintessential fall festivity! I love everything about it. The costumes and parties and all the activities that bring you outside to enjoy weather that doesn’t involve sunburn. I don’t mind the drama of selecting the right costume. One that’s popular, but not so popular that everyone isn’t trick or treating in the same thing. One that fits and works an keeps them covered and lasts for just a few hours. Until they get home and go into candy comas.

 Fall is so beautiful but so brief. 

Don't you wish Fall were longer? I wish we could just savor the last few days of warm summer-like afternoons and frosty-breath evenings next to a bonfire. Instead, we’re rushed past Thanksgiving with light speed and then smashed into Christmas. Why not just enjoy each season?

I beg you mommies, let this be the year you send a pumpkin to someone. And jump in a pile of leaves. 

Relax Mommies you've got this!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Loser's Lessons

What motivates you to try?

I was never a big fan of slow and steady. I can’t slow down -- I’m raising children! It’s a sprint ‘til college. You go, go, go every day. You take care of them, try to keep them safe, fed and educated. You try to capture the milestones, do your best to plan and arrange to make things special for them. First birthday parties, Christmases, monster cupcakes for the Halloween classroom festivities; everything has to be made with love. And still, we blink and there’s so much we miss.

I recently learned the hard way I need to slow down and take one day at a time. In everything I do.

I wanted to lose weight, but was never consistent with any eating or exercise plan. At picnics and parties, there was no way to eat anything healthy except the crudité—usually served with luscious ranch dip. I accepted food I didn’t want to eat out of politeness. When I was feeling down, I indulged in self-pity eating and creamy lattes. I had a rotten relationship with food. Like most "clean plate" moms, I hated to see food wasted and became the leftover-eating queen of my house. Last year, after receiving ugly cholesterol numbers, I knew I needed to change.

As motivation, I entered a Biggest Loser Challenge at work. It was a 12-week challenge. I had done it before and lost a grand total of three pounds. This time, I promised myself, it would be different. So I asked advice from the previous BL winner. They told me: Treat the BL Challenge as a marathon. As a long and grueling race. One that you may not win, but one that you will finish. Most of all--stay the course; keep your emotions steady. Ew? Was the advice?!

The BL coordinator offered this: Eat healthy, exercise and have fun! She made it sound easy. For more motivation, we were divided into two teams—the winning team would get some cash. I rushed into the Challenge thinking all I needed was a little self-control. 

 Towards the end, just when I thought I was doing great, I stumbled.

In the final weeks, I behaved as though I had already crossed the finish line. I was sliding the medal around my neck, celebrating, happy dancing. And then sabotaged all my good weight loss efforts by rewarding myself with food treats, letting an exercise session or two slide away. The pounds crept back on. Any marathoner will tell you this moment of do or die is the dreaded “mile twenty” -- with less than several miles to go, within sight of the goal, you lose focus and muscles start to seize up. Many runners end up quitting.

So I slowed down. Literally.

I ate slower, I walked instead of ran. I sipped rather than gulped my coffee. And I thought of all kinds of ways to make this BL thing a permanent lifestyle change, not a once and done competition. I learned that without any sort of external stimulus, significant weight loss is hard to do. We need something external to reset our internal compass. Whether it be a gym membership, walking the new puppy every day, buying a new wardrobe, or getting a cholesterol panel—it has to be an intimate and important investment of your time, talent and $$ or you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I also noticed that while encouragement from the Team (people in the same boat) is great for weight loss, it can let you down. A weight loss buddy or fitness app will help keep you accountable. And you’ll get support. But here at work, where the atmosphere is already highly-competitive, when someone won a week or a month, there were very few good wishes or encouragement. Teams were starving themselves, “hangry” and aching to quit. We all hit our “mile twenty” mark at the same time. Team members stopped talking to each other. They deleted the weight loss support emails. A few team members went AWOL during lunch (the office is right next to: McD’s, BK, Dunkin, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Red Robins and Taco Bell) instead of working out together. Team players became team haters. There was a black cloud of bitchiness that hung over the office scale.

This negative behavior was a priceless life lesson for me. I cannot lose weight to make other people happy, gain their acceptance or good graces. They’ll dislike me skinny or fat. I have to do it for myself. I have to want to make the change in me. Or else, I’ll be eating a breakfast burrito, an enchilada and a double-cheese-bacon burger all before lunch. And be dead before dinner.

Above all, I reminded myself, we’re moms!  We can always slow down and hug our “motivators!” Words like, “I love you mommy,” get me through nearly every life “marathon” I will encounter.

I want to lose weight for them. Because I want to be able to have the energy and stamina to be with them—fast or slow--even beyond college.

Relax Mommies, You've got this!