Friday, December 11, 2015

So You Don't Believe in Santa

Here is a helpful holiday tip so that people won't hate you.
I'd like to clarify something about the holidays. Let's say your child has decided that Santa Claus is not real and you've discussed it and everyone at your house is all on the same page. That's great! Seriously. Good for you. But if you're having these conversations, there is one crucial element that I am literally begging you to include in the discussion. Ready?

THE FIRST RULE OF DECIDING THAT SANTA IS NOT REAL IS KEEPING THAT INFORMATION TO YOUR DAMN SELF. It's like Fight Club. You don't talk about it. Everyone knows that rule, don't act like it's a surprise. You can talk about how you don't believe in magic and awesomeness and whatever else when you're with your friends at the fight club, ok? But when you're in the first grade lunch room or at the bus stop with a bunch of pre-schoolers playing and happily chattering about Christmas, that's not cool and you need to quit it.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Responsibly - No Excuses For Not Being a PITA

As many of you know, I'm part of's blogger team this year and for December, they've asked us to look over some of their survey data about drunk driving and respond to it. The holidays mean parties, getting together with friends and more social occasions on the calendar than we normally have. Having a drink at a party is part of the fun for me - but I don't always do it. First of all, I'm prone to making an ass of myself in public under the best circumstances. Second, I am terrified of not being fine behind the wheel. If I have to drive home, I will rarely drink and if I do - I usually stop at one.

I know my body pretty well but for some reason, when I'm out and about, alcohol can sometimes affect me differently. Sometimes, I'll have two drinks at dinner and feel completely fine. Other times, I'll have two drinks and be ready to table dance. Don't believe me? Last weekend, I attended a wedding. My husband was the driver so I had three glasses of cabernet and ended up thinking it was a great idea to do The Wobble with all the young people. This sort of makes sense when you consider that according to's survey data, 63% of Americans don't know what the legal limit is for BAC (blood alcohol concentration - and it's .08).*

*Sadly, there is no legal limit for middle-aged white people doing The Wobble. 

That means that the majority of us don't know what our limits are. And we're out there this month, celebrating with friends and family, and then getting in our cars. Let that sink in.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Should you give kids just a sip?

I’m very happy to be part of #TalkEarly’s blogger team this year, working to encourage families to have a lifetime of open and honest conversations with their kids about alcohol and making healthy choices.

The holidays are officially upon us and with that time comes entertaining, parties, and the toasting of all we have to be grateful for. For a lot of families, including mine, it may also be a time of year where our kids see us drinking socially more than we normally do. Upon watching the adults in their life enjoy themselves with a drink and friends or seeing champagne fizzle in a  glass, it may lead to the following question:

Can I have a sip?

I’ve always said yes, as my desire was to de-mystify alcohol and drinking and be as transparent as possible with my kids about all of it. It’s also what my parents did with me. And what their parents did with them. My mom and dad also spent time in Europe right before I was born and they felt that the laid-back, no-nonsense attitude towards drinking they saw there (particularly in regards to kids and young people) made a lot of sense. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Vegetable Soup

Today would have been my grandmother's birthday, so to honor her memory I made her delicious vegetable soup last night and told this story to my kids.
Once, back in the olden days (sometime in 2003), we went to see Grandmom Joyce at her tiny, perfectly clean house in Trenton, NJ. My uncle and my cousin were also there visiting. They're both vegetarians so when we asked what was for lunch, Grandmom Joyce said: "vegetable soup". When we sat down to eat, it was clear that the soup had about 6 pounds of delicious, tender pot roast in it. My uncle looked confused.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The ongoing struggle w Imposter Syndrome

I originally wrote this in 2010 and came across it today. I really needed to read it. My life has changed a lot in the past five years, but for better or worse,  I'm still the same. So I updated this post to reflect my current reality in the hopes that someone else might feel better knowing they're not the only one out there pretending at life.

Ever since I was a kid, I've felt like a faker. A big phony, as Holden Caulfield would put it. And that feeling persists. Throughout my life, on the occasions that I’ve done well or had people praise me for something, one part of me has always sort of felt like: “Well thanks, but if you had any idea of what I was really like…”  Let's be honest - I'm not what I seem.

I've always been awkward like that. I wore the wrong clothes, and I always said something completely random that made people wonder if I'd recently suffered some sort of head trauma.  I tried too hard when that wasn't cool, and I didn't care when I was supposed to.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Help Homeless Kids Have A Great Halloween!

Hi everyone! 

My 12 year old daughter is doing a really great Girl Scout Silver Award project. She's been working for months on a Halloween party for the children at the Katherine K Hanley Family Shelter in Fairfax, VA. The kids will be able to "shop" for costumes for Halloween and she hopes to have enough left over to create a permanent dress-up/creative play area at the shelter. She did some research and found that creative play helps all kids develop and grow, but can be especially helpful for kids who have experienced trauma. 

If you have any gently used costumes you would like to donate, please consider sending them to this awesome project. 

If you live locally (around DC or Northern Virginia) and would like to volunteer at the event, that would AWESOME! Here's the sign-up genius to learn more:

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Eulogy for My Grandmother

My grandmother passed away this afternoon. The last few months of her life she was very ill and sadly, her family and dear friend were in conflict around her, as sometimes grief and fear do not bring out the very best in people. I will not dwell on that. Her family loved her and now in her absence, we continue to love each other. 

She had a long life, spent entirely in Trenton, NJ, which (if you know Trenton) is an accomplishment in itself. She saw the world change so much in her 90 years and showed me that having fun and doing things your own way are not the providence of the young. She loved the Yankees and especially Derek Jeter. She was an amateur trash talker (Yankees fan, so obviously). She travelled, she gambled a lot, and won more than a normal person should. 

She would occasionally say things that were both inappropriate and hilarious (for example, anything that was a big mess she would refer to as a "Polish picnic"). She introduced me to really good Italian food, and taught me to cook the things that will bring me home for the rest of my life, no matter where I am.  

She conditionally baptized me as a Catholic against my parents' wishes and didn't really care that it bothered them. She was there for me as a little kid when I really, really needed her. I knew her well, but also not all, as her life was mystery to me (like the time she handed me a red formal dress and said: "Oh, I wore this to President Johnson's Inaugural Ball - take it."). 

She appreciated being comfortable and the value of home. She always insisted on having the best she could get. For some reason, she thought I was the best. As her favorite grandchild, she saw only the best in me (even when I did not deserve it) and the strength of her love allowed me to see her and know her at her very best. 

I will miss her, and always be grateful for her, and am so glad she is no longer suffering. I pray that she rests in peace and that for her sake, there is both casino gambling and major league baseball in heaven.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2015

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

No Time to Talk? 6 Easy Ideas for When to Talk with Kids

This post is sponsored by as part of their #talkearly campaign.

School is starting and I’m about to freak out. My kids are heading into 7th, 5th, and 1st grade, which means I’m smack in the part of their lives where everything whizzes by so fast it makes my head spin. Once our school schedule clicks into place, we’re running from thing to thing and we can go days without slowing down long enough to have a conversation.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Staying in My Own Lane

Last week I had to bribe my son to swim backstroke. He hates it and as a result, he'd refused to do it since the beginning of this year’s swim season. With the prospect of money on the table, he was willing to give it one last try. 

Watching him race, I could see how much he'd improved, but he was still dead last in his heat. Though he finished strong, he got out of the pool hanging his head. He'd taken 14 seconds off his backstroke, which is remarkable, but in that moment all he cared about was the fact that he'd come in last. Had he been in a different heat that night, he might've won or come in third. In either of those cases, he would've felt pride in the accomplishment of getting so much better. Yet there he was, humiliated, hating a moment that should've been cause for celebration.

How did we get here? How did we land in this spot where (to quote the immortal sage Ricky Bobby) “If you’re not first, you’re last”?  

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

10 Things I Learned from Actually Doing a Swim Practice

From Memorial Day until late July of every year, my family is consumed with summer swim team, also known as the Water Cult. For the past couple of years, the swim coaches have offered a "Masters Swim" for parents, many of whom are former swimmers themselves. The emails have been inviting us parents to join in for years. I have always deleted them.

This year, however, I have succumbed to the positive peer pressure of my friends, who are participating because they care about "fitness" and "health". I feel that my presence has downgraded the entire experience for everyone and that the practices should now be referred to as "Masters" with intentionally sarcastic air quotes. I mean, the only skills I've mastered are the world's slowest backstroke and how to be consistently ten minutes late to practice.

But it's been a fascinating learning experience that has made me appreciate what my kids go through every day and also how truly great the sport is. So here are 10 things I learned from actually doing a swim team practice:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Experiment: Apple Cidar Vinegar vs Stomach Flu

Last Friday, roughly 25% of the second grade at my kids' school was sent home with a nasty stomach bug that had kids puking in buckets in their classrooms. OH HELL NO. Parents received an email co-written by (no kidding) the Principal and the health department, with guidance from the CDC on how to handle such an infectious outbreak of nastiness.

I dubbed it #PukeFest2015 and of course, my friends, it has hit home.

My 4th grade son woke up the day before yesterday feeling sick, and has been periodically puking ever since. He's actually doing a lot better today, thank you baby Jesus, but we live in fear that this highly contagious virus will spread to other members of the family during this - the last week of school.

SIDEBAR: The last week of school is not all coasting, watching videos in school, and eating popsicles. The last week of school here is an activity-filled, non-stop, shit-show that requires to-the-minute scheduling and includes things like:

Friday, June 19, 2015

I am Terrible at Father's Day

This post is sponsored by Minute Maid as part of their #DoinGood campaign. The give-away is now closed and the $250 gift card has been awarded!

I am terrible at Father's Day. I never know what to get my husband and the ideas I have for my father are borderline demented. For example, I was very disappointed that the three foot tall garden gnomes are no longer available at my local retailer, as that would have been perfect for my dad. Because everyone wants an enormous garden gnome, right? Yes, of course they do.

I think one of the reasons I'm so bad at Father's Day is that my husband is a pretty self-sufficient guy, who usually says he doesn't need anything when asked. He also hates to spend money. These things combined make it very hard to know what to get for him. So we have to get creative and that's usually where we fail. I guess I could be like: "Happy Father's Day! Here is a pack of undershirts I got you at Costco because you're a wonderful dad and I noticed your old ones were fraying because our dryer eats things. God bless!"

That seems insufficient.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Being a Condition Setter

This post is sponsored by as part of their #talkearly campaign.

In January, I got to hear a parenting coach named Meghan Leahy give a talk about what she does and how she helps parents. I was mildly in love with her by the end of her seminar but also a little put out because she is so much smarter, funnier, and cooler than me, while also being like me in many ways. You can find Meghan on Facebook or read her column in the Washington Post. I found her stuff to be really helpful, honest, and reassuring.

I had two big take-aways from her talk and I want to noodle them here with you. They felt really TRUE and I know when I get that spidey-sense prickly feeling of truth, I need to do something.  Here they are:

As parents, we are the condition-setters. What we do is what's important. If we're stressed and anxious, our kids will be. If we try and give ourselves a break - our kids will not only do the same for us but for themselves.

We need to be there when we are there. When we're with our kids, we need to really be present. We can't be checked out and that is truly so much harder than it sounds.

Monday, June 1, 2015

I Went to Awesome Con with My Kids

Last weekend, I went to Awesome Con in downtown DC.  It's a huge geek culture conference and festival of fandoms, like the huge upcoming Comic Con in San Diego next month or Dragon Con in Atlanta in September. I went for two days and I brought a total of four kids with me both times. On Saturday, it was me and three kids ages 10-13.

This was my first all-in con experience, though my son and I spent a couple of hours wandering around Metro Con in Tampa last June. After doing that & having a blast, I wondered if going to a con (especially on my own) with kids was doable. Here's everything I learned, starting with what to do before you get there:

Prepare your kids for what they might see. We saw some stuff. Some of it was great - in fact most of it was better than great and we're all still buzzing about it. But you should know that some of it was a little "Hey, that's an entire bare bottom right there, covered by a teeny loincloth, four inches from my small child's face as we wait in line to buy Lego Marvel mini-figs." There was some cleavage on display. There were also some scary-looking cosplayers (think really well done Heath Ledger-style Jokers from Batman, etc). We talked about what to do if they saw something or someone who freaked them out, but nothing phased them.

There's also some gender reversal cosplay, dudes dressed as Black Widow or women dressed as the 10th doctor or Thor. If that kind of thing bothers you or you don't want your kids to see it, then honestly, you should probably just stay home. I was blown away by how inclusive, diverse, friendly, and respectful the vibe was. And to be specific, the number of times I saw cosplayers in stuff I felt was inappropriate for people to wear in public was exactly twice. And there were an estimated 30,000 people there over three days.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Teens and Drinking: Talking it up or Lock it up?

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for your advice on a couple of issues related to teens and drinking. Here's what I asked:
(1) Do you make alcohol too big a deal if you lock it up? Are you creating safe boundaries or creating an irresistible temptation?(2) How do you continue the ongoing conversation about alcohol with your kids, once the temptation and/or pressure to try it actually becomes a reality?
I got some AMAZING advice and feedback from you on Facebook, Twitter & in the comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your thoughts with us. Let's start with whether we think parents should lock up their alcohol if they have teens at home.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What the hell is going on?

Last week I wrote about my grandmother's health crisis. It's been a challenge to process everything when absolutely nothing is certain. The uncertainty is making us all feel... Off balance. Stressed. For me, this manifests itself as a constant stomach ache. I have moments where I feel fine, where I get absorbed in my daily life and responsibilities, and then it hits me. My vision blackens around the edges. My core contracts. I feel shaky.

This is so hard because we all love her. But there is conflict. I don't know what to do. I'm trying to make sense of it. I have no idea what the hell is going on. People who are scared and in pain sometimes grasp at things that in broader context, don't make any sense. I want to yell at them for that. I also want to cut of all contact with them. I also want to comfort them and make sure they're ok. I want to run up there and take care of every last detail. I also want to pull up the drawbridge, hug my babies close, and pretend none of this is happening.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

It's time to refresh my funny

Please note that this meme has nothing to do with wine.
Check out this pinterest board for more funnies.
This year, I’m working with as one of their #TalkEarly bloggers. The point of this partnership is to help families have ongoing conversations about drinking and alcohol. In May, they’re focusing on a campaign called #RefreshYourFunny. It’s a month-long effort to get us thinking about what we're sharing on social media - specifically, all the mommy and drinking memes. So this month, I’m not going to be sharing memes or cracking jokes about mommy juice or drinking.

Maybe this seems like a huge change for me, or maybe you’ve noticed that it’s actually been changing for some time. A couple of years ago, we ran a guest post about drinking called “The Domestic Enemies of Recovering Alcoholic Mom”.

It made me question the impact the ‘mommy juice’ jokes and memes were having on all of us across the spectrum - from social drinkers to non-drinkers to people in recovery to those actively struggling with addiction. All of a sudden, when hundreds of people would share things with me or tag me on things that were alcohol related, I was taken aback. OH MY GOD. Why do thousands of people associate me so closely with drinking and wine? Because I’m a dummy and I’ve spent the last couple of years making wine the punchline of every other joke. Once all of that clicked into place and I became aware of it, it changed my perspective.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Coming to Terms

So this week is horrible. Last week was also bad. My grandmother holds a very special place in my life and she seems to have taken a permanent turn for the worse. She is in the hospital and as of Monday, is no longer mentally competent. Death and dying seem to bring out the worst in some people and this situation is no exception. There's conflict between her family and her primary caregiver. I’ve thrown my hands up in the air, not because I just don’t care, but because there is literally nothing I can legally, physically, or emotionally do to change anything in this situation and once I accept that, I hope I'm able to calm the hell down and start to process my grief. 

She's still here but she feels lost to me. I feel a little lost myself.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Dear Mom, You're doing better than you think.

Today is the Mother's Day party that we throw every year. I am so excited and also exhausted and those things together make me really emotional. The whole point of this party is to make something useful and nice for another mom, someone who might otherwise receive nothing. These moms, by the way, are currently staying in either a domestic violence or homeless shelter with their kids. 

This party has become a yearly reminder for me that as parents, we're all in this together. It also shows me that so many of the experiences of being a mother are universal. What do we put in the gift bags? The same things we all need. Why? Because no matter where you live, your children will use your shirt as a snot rag and it will be gross. And tampons are tricky and sneaky, and hide in your purse when you need them the most, so we always need a couple of extra. We all need soap and shampoo and toothpaste (that will somehow make a huge sticky mess somewhere toothpaste has no business being). We need snacks for us and our kids, and know that our kids will always gobble up all the good ones before we can even get a nibble. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Horrifying Conversations with Mini: Eggs

Last week, my Daisy girl scout troop participated in an event called “Cupcake Wars”. I should have known, given the name, that something horrifying would be said. Mini is after all (and always shall be) my precious cupcake baked by the devil. Perhaps the name was some sort of cosmic literary device - foreshadowing. A nomen omen, per se.

My older daughter’s 6th grade troop was running the event, so the young ladies in charge of coordinating and steering the little kids were all well known to Mini (as they’ve been her sister’s friends her whole life). This becomes important later.

First, let’s begin with the actual cupcake decorating portion of the evening.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Help This Woman: I Have Teens, Should I Lock Up The Liquor?

Photo credit: iStock
A couple of weeks I ago I wrote a post about trying to manage my stress, including talking to my kids about how we should and should not do that. One of the specific things I wrote about was trying not to perpetuate this idea that stressed people drink to feel better. No, we don’t. We play Trivia Crack and watch Property Brothers. LIKE CHAMPIONS. 

Anyway, the post led to some really interesting feedback including some emails from folks who were struggling with how to be honest and open with their older kids (tweens and teens) about alcohol. I GET IT. My oldest is heading into 7th grade. Middle school is a whole new ball game, you guys. So I was pretty excited to ask for your advice on a couple of questions relating to middle/high school kids and alcohol. 

Let’s start with this email:

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Washington Post's On Parenting Blog

I've had a couple of stories run on The Washington Post's website and I'm waaaayyy overdue putting looks to them on the blog.

Here's a post about the extremely serious and widespread teen sex trafficking problem in Northern Virginia and the sex ed curriculum for grade schoolers.

Here's a post I wrote about talking to your kids about the Ebola epidemic. Bear in mind it was written when people were freaking the freak out that we were all going to die, I was trying to talk folks off the ledge.

I'll post more as I write more stuff for them.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2014

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Dang it, Marvel! WHERE IS BLACK WIDOW??

I love the Disney, Marvel, the Avengers (and the whole dang franchise) so much it's not even funny. Do you know how hard it is to be mad at something that you really, really love? Of course you do, you're parents.

I just got an email from Disney (maybe you got it, too?) promoting all the new Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise in advance of the movie's release on May1st. This is a movie my whole family is really excited to see, so I clicked through to the Disney store to see all the new stuff. I have two kids with birthdays coming up, you guys, so I was ready to drop some coin. But I was really disappointed. Because guess who is missing from almost all of the merchandise? AGAIN? Black Widow.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

What I Learned about Stress, Mommy's "Me Time" & Talking to My Kids

Photo from
In February, I made some major lifestyle changes. I had been feeling like garbage - eating food that was convenient and easy (instead of healthy), not getting enough sleep, snacking late at night, and of course - drinking wine more nights than not. I'd also forgotten to go to the gym for the past 11 months or so. So I did something drastic. It's called the Whole 30 - and I cut out dairy, sugar, wheat, legumes, alcohol, almost everything I enjoy putting in my mouth for 30 days. My body needed this radical change.

What it really needed, though, was for me to pay more attention to it.

Life has been stressful in my house since the holidays. We all have those stretches of time when life can get really... lifey. When it's all difficult and complicated and we have to be tougher than we want to be and deal with things. I knew we'd get through it, but I knew it would be hard. I managed by being 100% focused on being productive and calm during the day and rewarding myself with "me time" each night.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Helping Moms in Need on Mother's Day!

I had always thought Mother's Day was a tough nut to crack. It seemed to be less a day of rest or a celebration of my maternal awesomeness than a reminder that being a mom is a 24/7/365 type of gig and that our small overlords have decreed that no breaks are allowed. Mother's Day often left me feeling like a I wanted to sit in a chair and sigh, while looking sadly out the window.

Then four years ago, all that changed. A couple of readers shared with us that they were making gift bags for moms in their local Domestic Violence Shelter. We asked if we could copy their idea and they said HECK YES. So we threw a party and invited all our friends and made over 100 swag bags for women in domestic violence and homeless shelters in our community. By helping others, my perspective completed changed and Mother's Day suddenly became awesome. Here's an example:

Before: I'm not really sure why my husband and kids thought I would like lemon raison oatmeal. It actually looks and smells terrifying. 
After: It was so sweet of them to make me something for breakfast, even if it does cause vomiting. 

Before: Why do I have to unload this freaking dishwasher on Mother's Day?? ONE DAY NO DISHWASHER - That's all I ask! GAH!
After: Thank God I have a dishwasher. Dishwasher, you are a precious angel that makes my life easier and you never ask for anything in return or roll your eyes at me when I say no more Xbox.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

I poop glitter.

I was walking through the Wal Marts yesterday and I saw this little beauty on clearance. Before I even knew what I was doing, I had whipped out my phone and taken a picture of it. About 30 things were running through my head simultaneously:
  • No, it does not really say that. 
  • If I don't take a picture then no one will believe that this is real.
  • I would buy it but nothing that poops glitter is coming inside my house.
  • Cleaning up regular glitter is a goddamn nightmare, so poop glitter probably takes all day.
  • The only way that you can poop glitter is if you eat glitter and if that rabbit is eating enough glitter that it becomes his primary marketable characteristic, then he's an idiot.
  • That doll looks vapid and vaguely medicated, like she doesn't even realize it's a rabbit on the end of the leash and not some small breed of large-eared dog. 
  • She looks like the kind of asshole who would buy a glitter-egg pooping bunny for Easter then abandon it at a kill shelter before the first of May. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Allowance or No Allowance?

Photo by Ponsulak via
Last week I got an email from my friends at Let's Talk Live asking me if I would be willing to come on the show and talk about allowance for kids. Is it a good idea? A bad idea? How much and how often?

Of course I have no idea about this stuff. We don't do allowance at my house because of a couple of very good reasons:
  • Mommy forgets to pay kids because she never has the right amount of cash and then she gets all confused about how much she owes people and everyone gets dissapointed/angry.*
  • The kids are SUPER ENTHUSIASTIC about our allowance plan! For maybe two weeks. 
  • The longer my kids associate chores with money, the more they seem unwilling to do anything they're not getting paid for.
*I hear the tooth fairy has the same problem. Get it together, ladies.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Results & Follow Up - Updated

It's Day 31 and I did a couple of important follow up things today:
  • I weighed myself (finally).
  • I took "after" measurements.
  • I added dairy (in small amounts) back into my diet, otherwise I'm still eating clean because I don't want to make myself sick.
  • I went to the doctor for a full check-up with bloodwork.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Day 30

I did it. Well, I almost did it. I'm going to bed in a few minutes and when I wake up, I'll be done with the Whole 30. So this is today's gif:

Right On


Monday, March 16, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Days 26-29

This will be the shortest post ever. I'm terribly sorry about dropping off the planet as far as the (near) daily blogging of they Whole 30 is going, but my real life got very busy and by the end of each day I was wiped and just went to bed.

I don't actually remember what I ate 3 days ago, but I can tell you this:
1) It was eggs for breakfast.
2) It was 100% compliant the rest of the time.
3) I probably had at least one snack per day (like apples w cashew butter or a Nick's Stick or something).

So in case you were worried, I didn't cheat or back track. Just got busy with kid activities and work on my house. Tonight I had contractors in my kitchen so I couldn't cook. We went to Outback where I got non-seasoned grilled steak and shrimp, with steamed broccoli on the side ordered off the gluten-free menu.  It was one of two meals I've eaten in a restaurant since starting this. It was nowhere near as good as I remember Outback tasting - that is true. But I had forgotten how incredibly delicious food tastes when it is prepared by someone else. It was AMAZING.

So tomorrow is my last day of my Whole 30. Holy crap. I miscounted and thought my last day was Wednesday. But no. I am actually done tomorrow. HOW DID THAT HAPPEN AND WHAT IN THE HELLING HELL DO I DO NEXT? I never thought I'd make it past the first few days and now here I am. It's all very confusing. So I picked you this for today's gif, because I feel like Brit:


So tomorrow, I'll be wrapping up my last day. Then I'll do a follow up a week later to see how all this food reintroduction is going. Spoiler alert: wine is coming back first.

(c) Mommyland Blogs 2013-2014

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Whole 30 Quiz

Have you done a Whole 30? Well, I'm on Day 27 and it's been amazing. Did you learn so much about your relationship with food? Did you figure out lots of new things about yourself? I did! I learned that I love almonds but they don’t love me. Also, that I'll lose my schmidt if my husband decides to eat my left-overs for a snack WHEN DAMN IT HE CAN EAT LITERALLY ANYTHING HE WANTS ON THE PLANET SO WHY THE HELL IS HE STEALING MY FLANK STEAK??

No? Just me. Kidding. That never happened.

I decided to create a little quiz for us! So we can see all that we've learned and accomplished over the past 30 days. Please answer these questions as honestly as possible. (Note: If you lie, the admins on the unofficial Whole 30 boards will find out and then attempt to publicly shame you.)

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Day 24 & 25

It happened! I felt the TIGER BLOOD today and I was WINNING. I ran around doing all of the things including taking a really, really epic walk and still have tons of energy. It's crazy. Thank you, Tiger Blood, I am in love with you. I could seriously get used to this. It probably doesn't hurt that I got a great night's sleep last night. No one woke up. Nobody snored at me. And I woke up early and hit the ground running and pretty much haven't stopped.

Oh by the way, the reason I didn't blog last night? My kids would not go to sleep. Would Not. It was no bueno. I may have yelled. A lot.

Another update! After doing a really great but ass-kicking workout on Monday, I can finally lift my arms above my boobs so I'm no longer eating like I'm a t-rex. So that's nice for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Day 22 & 23

Oh my god. I just want to have a glass of wine. I don't even care about the sugar and I'll give up pasta forever. JUST ONE GLASS. Sigh. 23 days in and I'm not quitting but Kombucha in a wine glass is just not cutting it tonight.

Yesterday was so dumb. I worked out with E at her gym and did a workout that was very fun (though hard) and reminded me a lot of a crossfit workout without the Olympic lifting. I lifted teeny weights and did sit ups and squats and pushups and it was simultaneously awesome and horrible. The coaches who ran the class were AMAZING and the other women in the class with us were really nice. It's so cool to see women of all different ages, sizes, and backgrounds just killing it with kettle bells and stuff. RAWR LADY POWER!

Within a couple of hours I realized I might have possibly overdone it when I couldn't lift my arms higher than my boobs. It's slightly better today but I had to run a Daisy scout meeting this afternoon and getting up and down off the floor during circle time was downright embarrassing.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Day 21

So I'm just about done with Week 3 of Whole 30. I have to say - now that I'm in the swing of things, I'm really not feeling like this way of eating is so hard. Crazy, right? I just wish less time was spent on cooking, prepping, and cleaning. That part of it all is exhausting.

So this morning I woke up way too early and went to a nutrition talk with E given by her coach/personal trainer/fitness guru. He's a young guy who trains a bunch of people I know and they all adore him. His talk was really good. He walked a group of us through Wegmans and talked to us about what to buy and what to avoid and all that good stuff. I was glad to have gone because I learned some new stuff and met some very nice people and got a good price on some chicken thighs.

Unlike yesterday when I was starving all day, today I was forgetting to eat. I had lots of energy but still not experiencing that elusive "Tiger's Blood" people talk about.

Reluctant Whole 30 Day 20

I'm publishing this late because I went and hung out with my friend last night and chatted and had fun. Just two friends with no kids or distractions and it was wonderful! She drank lovely red wine like a champion. I drank Kombucha like some sort of person. Who drinks fermented tea. For fun.

Who have I become?

I found myself super hungry yesterday and couldn't really explain why. Some of it was actual hunger and some of it was stress/emotional related. So I ate several snacks but you know what? If I'm eating healthy, real food that is totally Whole 30 compliant - then I'm not going to sweat it. Because there is a HUGE difference between what I wanted to stress eat and the healthy stuff I actually chose to eat. So I call that a win.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

All you parents need to watch this video with me right now

I just had a melt-down because I got the location wrong on one of the 4,327 things my family has to do today. IT SHOULD NOT BE THIS HARD. I had no idea how much I needed to see this right now. Hat tip to the queens of awesomeness at Essence Magazine for bringing this to my Facebook feed and bringing me back to my senses.

This amazing video is starring Adrienne C. Moore (from Orange is the New Black) and is sponsored by an organization called Make It Work, which surprisingly has nothing to do with Tim Gunn, and everything to do with helping create economic security for working Americans.

We are not screwing this up, people. Standing slow clap for this woman.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Day 19

Today I had so much energy that I was actually itching to go work out but of course, it was yet another snow day so I couldn't (sad trombone). Today I also learned that maybe I'm eating too many carby vegetables and my stupid PCOS is like - I'm sorry but you can't lose weight because insulin resistance and you ate a single freaking carb.

By the way, I learned that from a superstar who left a comment on yesterday's post and once I read it, I was like. Yes, she's right and went back and re-read a bunch of crap and now I can't eat potatoes, either so damn.

I also learned that although I love and adore almonds, I'm pretty sure they don't love me back. That makes me sad. I ate something with ground almonds in it for lunch and I felt terrible. I have suspected for a long time that part of my heartburn issues prior to Whole 30 stemmed from eating a handful of almonds in the afternoon or evening when I felt hungry or low blood-sugary. Stupid almonds are supposed to be good for you.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Day 18

We got about 6 inches of snow today and I made approximately 458 cups of cocoa with whipped cream on top and didn't even want any! I did want to squirt whipped cream directly into my mouth, though. But that's ok. Only 12 more days and I can reintroduce dairy.

Here's what I miss: cheese, milk in my coffee, a glass of wine at night after the kids go to bed, Girl Scout cookies, a nice piece of dark chocolate.

Here's what I don't miss: bread, pasta, rice, cereal, oatmeal, anything carby. This is actually a huge surprise to me, but I just don't miss them at all. I miss wine, but I don't miss the unconscious way I used to reach for it most nights. I don't miss the fuzzy feeling in my head early in the morning when I stayed up watching House Hunters International too late and had another glass. I miss the idea of sweets like cake and cinnamon rolls, but now I don't actually want to eat them because I know how crappy they're going to make me feel.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Day 16? 17? I've lost count.

Food was easy today - SO EASY. I was barely even hungry. I had to force myself to eat because I kept forgetting. Normally, if I were to say something like that, it would be because I was pretty close to dying of something like consumption. Also, my energy was great all day.

Some nice people asked me for the recipe for the shrimp salad that was so delicious that it made me eat all of it one day even though that's gross and glutenous and very, very bad. Shrimp salad is powerful stuff. I copied the recipe from my friend E who made some and gave me a bite a couple of weeks ago.

I'm a HUGE nerd who loves my job

I show this version of Maslow's Hierarchy every semester.
So some of you may know that I teach undergrads at a college that I could never have gotten into myself because I made bad choices in high school. I haven't written much about it here, maybe because it's my real job and worlds colliding and all that.

I teach Public Health. The class I teach is a great fit for me because it's a survey course, which means we cover hundreds of years and topics in one semester. As a result, the course content is (as my dad would say somewhat derisively) a mile wide and an inch deep.

By now you know that I'm also a big dork who dearly loves things like Totoro and Korra and Marvel and Harry Potter and too many other geekish things to list here. But I love Public Health the most. Oh my gosh, you guys. I want to talk about drug resistant gonorrhea all the time. Did you know that many of the US-funded Ebola treatment centers in west Africa have never treated a single patient?? Social determinants of health are my jam, you guys.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Day 16

I realized I'm annoyed about something tangentially related to doing Whole30. Facebook groups can be super helpful and they can also be really, really irritating. I just dropped out of one that was intended to help me through this process because it was not good for my mood equilibrium. You guys have spoiled me and I was starting to think everyone out there on the world wide interweb was cool and funny and smart and basically kind-hearted.

Here's a few things I needed to remind myself of when seeking advice from randoms on the internet:

  • If you take advice from randoms on the internet without fact checking anything, that is no bueno.
  • Sometimes the randoms say things with decisive authority and it turns out they're actually full of shit.
  • Sometimes, randoms on the internet enjoy not being particularly nice for no apparent reason.
  • Sometimes, I fall into that category and have to delete my comment because even though it was fairly nice, it will open me up to comments that will make me feel like I have a petulant army of crawfish in my pants. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30- Day 15

Another snow day that isn't actually a snow day! Another day on Whole 30!

I barely slept last night. I kept waking up to check and see if school had been delayed or cancelled and like a bunch of SUPERSTARS, the school district waited until 6am to make the call. By 6am, I was just up and unable to go back to sleep.

Plus, and this is going to sound really stupid - but last night I beat one of my behavioral dragons that made me not want to do Whole 30. I love to watch Downton Abbey and have a glass of wine (or 2) and some snacks. I love it so, so much. It's my happy time. And I sort of wondered if I could even enjoy watching it without the wine and snacks, knowing they were off limits. The answer is yes!  It was fun and I didn't miss the wine at all. I had a snack and it was healthy and everything was all good.  I can't believe I even worried about it now!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 - Day 14 & Week 2 Wrap Up!

So I'm nearly half way there! Today is the day I'm like - why the hell isn't this a Whole 28? That would make a lot more sense. But I have never understood these Paleo people and their so-called "logic".

Lemme talk about a couple of things:

I feel really good though I do not feel any thinner. This process is supposed to be about what they call "NSV" (non-scale victories) and I have plenty of those. No need for Tums or Pepcid since day 2 or 3. Sleeping better than I have in years. Less hungry than I remember being, except for that time last year when I had pneumonia. More energy than I remember having since I became a parent almost 12 years ago. I may not be losing weight (which frankly, wouldn't surprise me given how much meat and fat I'm eating) but something positive is at work here. In order to keep myself honest, I've scheduled a full check-up with blood work for Day 30. The last work up I had was around this same time last year, so we should be able to do a pretty good before and after snapshot when this is all done.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary Day 13

Sigh... It's a 3 gif day, you guys.

Today was "The Annual Saturday of Mandatory Girl Scout Obligations". We had a cookie booth sale and then we had World Thinking Day and then we had to meet up with friends all over town to sell and deliver cookies. But you know what today really was? Today was the day of people offering me things to eat that I can not eat. Some of the things were very easy to say no to. Others - like chocolate mousse and girl scout cookies and some sort of Korean seaweed delicacy - were not so easy. But I handled it really well. I was all like, "no thank you" firmly but with a smile.
no animated GIF

Friday, February 27, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary Day 12

I've been up since 5:45am and I went to the gym and even though I'm a little tired, I still have energy and it's 9:00pm. Say WHAT?? That's crazy for me. Since working out early this afternoon, I've been super hungry and nibbling here and there, but making good choices. Like a champion. Like a winner. So behold, my pre-workout gif of the day:



Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary - Day 11

Yet another snow day with the kids home from school!

I actually think it's easier to do this on snow days, being home with the kids, because it frees up time to cook and prep food. If I had to do all of that in the 35 minutes I usually have on Thursday nights between getting home from a dance lesson and when the kids melt down from hunger, I'd be stressed-out and snapping at people.

Honestly, I'm getting to the point where this Whole30 feels sort of freeing, rather than restrictive - I don't have to think about what I'm going to eat or if I should snack - I just know I have to eat compliant foods, I eat them, and then I move onto the next thing. Too many choices are tiring sometimes. I have fewer choices and they're all healthy and they all taste good. My only fear is messing up and having to start over. I just don't think I could handle that. I made PBJ's for my kids snack today and I almost licked some peanut butter off my finger - just out of habit. That might have been enough for some purists to say I'd have to go back to Day 1. If I do mess up, it'll be over something stupid like that.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary Day 10

Double digits, y'all! DAY 10!

I didn't feel awesome today for a couple of reasons that actually had nothing to do with Whole 30:

  1. I ate too many macadamias last night and they made my stomach hurt.
  2. Some stressful shit happened early this morning and as soon as I was alone, I cried in my car like big dumb baby and I got a headache afterward. Am I the only person in the world who gets "I cried too hard" headaches? 
  3. I worked out like a beast this afternoon. That is defined as me walking and running on the treadmill at a brisk 17 minute mile pace for 45 minutes. Then I came home and my legs fell off. Then I suddenly realized I was ravenously hungry, so I ate this coconut milk/chia seed/organic raisin thing that almost tasted like pudding (because I haven't had actual delicious sugar in ten whole, entire days). And I ate too much of it and then it happened - my blood sugar went from too low to high and I felt all yucky and draggy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary - Day 9

I am so, so, so tired right now because I've been going non-stop since very early this morning. Then this evening when I should have had some down time, I spent 3 hours prepping and cooking stuff from a huge Costco run this afternoon where I found... wait for it... COMPLIANT BACON!

I was literally this woman at the Fairfax Costco at 1:45pm today and I wasn't even embarrassed. Dig it, you guys:
Mom Moves

Reluctant Whole30 - What You Should Know About The First Week

Hi friends! Hi and waving! Julie here. Trying to wrap my head around doing this Whole 30 thing when I'm not sure I even want to. My ol' buddy Guru is starting next week, so I'm writing this week one wrap-up for her so she knows what to expect.

There's another reason I'm writing it. Guru told me that the one reason she now feels ready to do this is because I'm doing it and I'm not some healthy, cross-fitting, marathon-running person who is good at being an adult. I am a jackass and a very normal, part-time working, mostly stay-at-home mom who doesn't really take care of myself. And I got through the first week fairly easily.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Reluctant Whole 30 Diary - DAY 8

Today starts week 2! If you want to read about week 1, click here. That post had all 7 days in it and it got a little long and unwieldy so I'm posting day by day now.

So there's some good news about Day 8! I didn't feel hungover and my desire to cram food in my piehole was... minimal. I got hungry and I ate. I stuck to three meals with (almost) no snacks. I slept really well and the bizarro dreams (while still there) were not intrusive. I woke up feeling good.

I had steady energy all day, enough in fact, to go for a nice long walk with the Brady dog. His idea of a nice walk was to leap in and out of snow drifts and drag me onto patches of black ice and watch me almost fall to my death. I was THISCLOSE to breaking a hip and not being found till morning. I love that dog but good Lord, he's a pain in the ass in the snow. He loves it too much and his exuberance is going to cause a fatal injury. By the way, I walked for 50 minutes and my stupid Fitbit was all: "You only walked 3,500 steps all day. Ha ha."

Lessons from a Pre-Blizzard Grocery Basket

Image: Market Basket by Suet Eman from
We had another snow storm yesterday and it kind of hit our area by surprise. It's been a week filled with snow and cold, with schools being closed 4 out of 5 days. The kids are starting to get crabby and cabin-fevery. [Editors' note: I live in Boston. You don't know cabin fever, woman. -Guru Louise] While I love snow, I had mixed feelings about this surprise storm. I'm a week into an austerity diet that is taking over my life.

The diet makes being snowed in with my kids (as they eat Girl Scout cookies and drink cocoa while snuggled next to me on the sofa) a lot less fun. I was also stressing out about driving on icy roads and what if we lose power and my husband is still freaking out of town and GOOD LORD WHY DID I PICK NOW TO STOP DRINKING??

Friday, February 20, 2015

Brutally Honest Whole30 Diary Week One

Whole30 Day 0:

Later this week, I'm starting a diet/nutrition/sadness program called Whole30. Where you eat nothing but strict Paleo, clean food for 30 days. No sugar, no dairy, no wine, no joy.

I don't want to do this and everyone says it's really hard even when you're totally committed (but it's worth it and you learn a lot). Here's the deal, I'm doing this because I feel like shit all the time. I'm insulin-resistant due to having PCOS. I'm always tired no matter how much sleep I get. My weight sucks and feels totally out of control.

So will it be hard? I'm sure it will be. But feeling like garbage all the time is hard, too. At this point I'd rather be hungry and never eat cheese again than continue to feel like this.

So let's see how this goes. Right now I'm reading the book "It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways" (affiliate link) which is supposed to be step one of this thing. It's an easy read so far and it all makes sense and everything.

My friend E is about to do this for the third time and she's being extremely helpful and encouraging. The joke is on her though, because she has no idea how grouchy and overly-dependent my shit is about to get. I also reached out to Guru, who just bought the book, and she sent me a text that said: "I look forward to changing my life in unexpected ways with you." ((snort)) She's such a smartass.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Proposed Titles & Concepts for Barbie Movies

This one is Mini's favorite. It's not my favorite.
(image from
My husband, the attractive yet curmudgeonly Cap'n Coupon, took the kids and I out to dinner and for some reason, we all started talking about Barbie movies. Mini loves them and we have about a million of them on DVD from when Lina was little. 

I hate to admit this. But we all have our favorite Barbie movie. I like many of them in spite of myself. I don't want to, OK? But I do. The songs are often very nice. Also, there's surpassingly good voice talent in a  lot of them (Angelica Houston and Martin Short, for example). 

And it's not just me, either. Once long ago when people still went to BlockBuster on Fridays and that dictated how happy their weekends would be, I went to rent something. Standing in front of me was an enormous biker in head-to-toe black leather with a large, faded out neck tattoo. In one hand was his skull helmet and in the other was a copy of "Barbie in Swan Lake". 

He caught me looking at it and shrugged. Then he said: "My 4 year old loves it and honestly, it's not that bad!" and I was like: "Oh I know. I like that one. Have you seen Barbie in the Princess and the Pauper? That's also good." And we chatted about Barbie movies for the duration of our wait in line and it was lovely moment.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Valentines for the Real World

(Originally published 2/1/2/13) 
Last night I went to Target and I got distracted by the card section. I decided to buy my beloved Cap'n Coupon a nice Valentine. But I could not find one - not one - that I even remotely liked. And then I made the mistake of looking at how much they cost.

HOLY MOTHER OF GANDALF. When did greeting cards start costing upwards of $5? If I bought my husband a $6 greeting card he would be like: "What are you doing? Are you trying to upset me? Why don't you just write 'Happy Valentine's Day' on a $5 bill and then throw it away?"

So I decided to come up with a series of Valentine's Day Cards for the real world. The Cap'n even helped me a little.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Some things to Remember When Grown Ups Let You Down

We know a couple of families who are going through divorces right now. No matter how well it's handled, it's hard on everyone. Sometimes both parents are amazing and do everything right. Sometimes it's a total poop show on both sides. Sometimes we're tempted to pick sides and declare a good guy and a bad guy. When you're a kid, those distinctions are horrible because both sides are literally a part of you. Pick a bad guy and suddenly all the parts of you that come from that parent feel... bad? At least, they feel confusing.

Since this seems to be the year of me having difficult conversations with my kids, I thought I would share a few things with our collective brood(s) of children about my experiences as the product of divorce. Really though, this is for any kid who is currently reaching the conclusion that one (or both) of their parents are not the people they thought they were and perhaps more importantly, are not the people that they need them to be.

Monday, February 2, 2015

I Have Said All These Things in The Past Two Hours Because Today Is Not My Best Day

Today is not my best day. I'm super tired which means I'm also grouchy. I'm slightly resentful that I have picked up the same Littlest Pet Shop toy at least five times. I love my kids so much but I need their help and I'm not getting it. Today is icy and cold and grey and they would rather stay in jammies and play or watch TV or snuggle up on the couch and mess around on the iPad. Guess what, hot shots?! ME TOO. But instead I get to pick up hundreds of crusty, inside-out kid socks and thousands of hair elastics and then unload the dishwasher. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nerd Crafts: Sneakers

Remember when me and my kids made super geeky Halloween costumes? Well, we have come to dearly love nerd crafts. Last month, I saw this image in my Facebook feed and showed it to my oldest daughter and she was like: OH YES. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

from FanBoy Fashion
We did this over winter break and it was really fun. If you guys are getting pounded by snow days and feel like you're going to lose your mind, I'd like to humbly suggest picking up some cheapo sneakers and some fabric Sharpies (regular Sharpies work, too) and making an afternoon of it. We had a blast and nobody whined or yelled at each other for like - at least 45 minutes. All supplies cost about $30 and we all ended with a sweet new pair of kicks.

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