Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Mother’s Vacation Gratitude Journal (Possibly Mine); or, Spring Break Point


Gratitude Journal Instructions — each day, write down 3-5 things for which you are grateful. Really search for the good things in life, and you will find they are bountiful.


  1. Flailing backpacks and shoes upon entering the front door mean the kids are excited for Spring Break to begin. We’re all looking forward to some downtime as a family.
  2. Last indoor football class of the season was tonight. Only five kids cried this time, and one twin’s bloody nose stopped after a couple minutes.
  3. The Gatorade vending machine was broken.
  4. We all fell asleep on the couch together at 7:30. Cozy, and charmingly cramped. Like my neck after two hours.
  5. Decided as a family to try different cuisines all week, a sort of Staycation Eat-Around-the-World Plan. Kids all asked for Mac and Cheese for dinner, so we started here in America. 🙂


  1. Kids wanted to cuddle up close with me for hours on end. I’m sure the blood and feeling will return to my extremities within a few hours. Also a good reminder that youngest needs new toothpaste.
  2. Unearthed a note from the depths of a backpack written earlier in the week by the school nurse reminding parents that kids need to be symptom-free or 24 hours before sending them back to school. That includes stomach flu, pink eye, fever, etc. We seem to have dodged a bullet, and glad the school is on top of it.
  3. Finally got one twin to engage in more than a monosyllabic conversation by asking him about Minecraft. I knew he had a lot of conversation bottled up. Didn’t think it would be three hour’s worth.
  4. Went to the library. The twins each picked out several trivia books.
  5. Made Spanikopita for dinner. Learned our smoke detector batteries are fully charged.



  1. Got a gnarly case of pinkeye thanks to previous days’ cuddling. Fortunately there is a minute clinic so convenient I could drive there with one eye closed.
  2. I can’t believe that at one point, for each child, I was worried about delays in speech development. Glad to be beyond that, and wish I could time travel and show myself the kids’ nonstop talking/fighting/singing/synonym-for-“butt”-finding. A good reminder not to worry so much.
  3. Boys very engaged in the trivia books and like sharing their information frequently and with verve.
  4. Husband looked at me when he was done working and suggested that I should take a walk while he got dinner ready. The fresh air was laced with the scent of lilacs and, after only 3/4 of a mile, I couldn’t hear my children arguing over the best way to ride my yoga ball down the stairs.


  1. Sunrise in late March is glorious. I am so lucky to have a child who never gets off school schedule and wakes when the sunlight breaks through his room. It’s good that I won’t have to get him back on schedule, and that his appetite is so healthy that he eats breakfast for three hours. I am also thankful that someday he will grow taller and will be able to get things himself.
  2. Twins still had piano lessons this week and learned the term “fortississimo,” which is how they played “Theme from Star Wars” and “Boogie Woogie” for the next six hours.  Simultaneously.
  3. Boys still liking the trivia books and sharing all the information therein, especially if I am on the phone for work. Trying to embrace their love of learning.
  4. Went out for dinner and the kids tried Japanese food for the first time. The owner of the restaurant was very understanding when youngest kept trying to catch all the fish in the indoor Koi pond with her chopsticks.
  5. The restaurant had beer.


  1. My phone lets me scroll through Facebook as I take my morning stroll. I’m happy my friends are in such warm places and enjoy tropical drinks overlooking. They all look so good in their bikinis; I’m glad I don’t have to  worry about fitting into a bathing suit because right now I am wearing four layers of clothing (it’s 32° here with a windchill of Planet Hoth). But at least it’s a dry cold.
  2. Little one is trying to be independent and write her own wrongs. Spent the day teaching her about boundaries and asking for help after she spilled nail polish, and then polish remover (acetone) on the wood table.
  3. The twins learned a little bit about resurfacing wood tables.
  4. Had enough Triscuits and string cheese to make dinner (“It’s tapas!”)

triscuits tapas


  1. The pediatric dentist had an opening!  No cavities! I told the children this was a special Spring Break Adventure.
  2. The dentist taught my kid how to wiggle his loose tooth more effectively, so he has been walking around wiggling his front tooth for hours on end, stopping only to stick his mouth in my face and push his tooth into weird positions with his tongue and ask me how it looks.
  3. We went to the park. It was 40°, but the damp, windy cold made me appreciate yesyesterday’s 32°.
  4. Super attentive during my walk today — noticed how many unmarked white vans there are driving around the neighborhood.
  5. Kids learned the international and complex history of pizza when we ordered out.


  1. Learned that the my son has taken an interest in music; his favorite band is “One Direction”.
  2. Headphones


  1. Took kids to Zootopia, a very sweet movie that made them stop spewing fabulous facts at me for 90 minutes.
  2. Only had to take youngest to the restroom 4 times.
  3. Glad I am not the parent of the child in the row behind me who seems destined for a 19th century consumption ward, because I’d feel really guilty about bringing her to a movie where all she was going to do was cough every 13 seconds.
  4. Purell


  1. No one got hurt.


  1. Nice long walk offered again by husband while entire neighborhood of children, tanned and tired of hanging out with their families came over to the house. I threw a box of Hostess cupcakes at them and headed for shelter
  2. Stared out the window blankly for a good two hours. A good reminder to take down all the Halloween decorations.


  1. The kids have wonderful teachers who will I’m sure be grateful to hear all about their adventures.
  2. Looking forward to freeing up some time by not filling in a gratitude journal anymore.



On Making Time and an Amazon Author Page

Hello, friends!

Ups and downs. Ups and downs. Remember when you were just about to outgrow the playground seesaw, so you’d sit on it with your friend and just try to balance it in the middle, where you weren’t squatting or high up in the air, just regulating the thing, occasionally shifting to see if you could take your feet off the ground?


It hasn’t been a whole lot of that the last three weeks. I’ve been pushing up to the tippy top and then crashing hard down into the ground, both of which happen partially at the whim of whoever your seesaw partner is.

My seesaw partners switch regularly these days: writing, parenting, partnering, work.

Life is full. Wonderfully, challengingly full.

First the down, because when you’re on a seesaw, that tends to be where you start:  I got two professional rejections in the last few weeks. This is not abnormal, of course; rejection is a part of the process. These felt especially heavy both because these seemed great fits for my work and also because opportunities to try again in these same formats are infrequent.  But the work was solid and, with some retooling, can be submitted elsewhere.

I push off the ground.

Then the up — amazing and good news: I have an official author page on Amazon.  Within the next few weeks, the second book to which I’m contributing (So Glad They Told Me: Women On Getting Real About Motherhood) will be there as well. Despite the fact that I am one of many contributors in both books, I’m carefully enjoying this feeling of external validation. Having a space on Amazon that acknowledges my writing is heady and powerful. It also is motivating. We’ll see what books I still have in me! (And a special thanks to the customer service people at Amazon who helped me set up the page.)

The eagle-eyed among you will notice that other than that one picture I like to use across platforms, I have not yet filled out my biographical information. For that matter, neither have I been posting here or submitting too much elsewhere this month.

tis the season

‘Tis the season when Life and Resolve battle it out Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot style. Just as I get into a writing groove after completing the obligations that always pop up at the beginning of a year, the kids (or I) get sick for weeks on end. Recently it was the stomach flu, which tends to expose all my flaws as a mother and human — while no one likes dealing with stomach flu, I have an actual phobia of other people throwing up…to the point that I will change the channel if it happens on a tv show I’m watching. It gets sporty when it’s my own kids and they’re not savvy enough to make it to a bathroom. I deal, of course, because it’s about them, not me, but I am left with something I can only describe as low-grade trauma.

What’s worse is when I try to explain this phobia, people tend to think I am inviting them to tell me all of their grossest vomiting stories. I assure you, I am not.

The stomach flu, and my worries about who would succumb next, led to about six sleepless nights in a row, followed by a brief recovery period that coincided with having about ten meetings in one week, and now the kids are sniffing and coughing. They are spacing out their sick days.

The writing is almost always a casualty when there is a seismic shift in schedule and focus. I can count on about 90 solid minutes a day of writing time when everyone is healthy.

Anne Lamott posted a provocative and gorgeous piece that talks about making time for creativity, which is something I am still practicing. For me, creativity doesn’t come unless there is silence and, weirdly-to-some, complete lack of visual distraction. The sound issue makes sense to many,  children home sick or the infernal skeet shooting from the (grandfathered-in and bane of my existence during the winter) range down the street for 12 hours every weekend ignite are distraction gremlins.

Noise-cancelling headphones still let the gun shot sounds in, and while I can work some of the writing process while listening to music, often I need and the children, if not heard, will work to be seen, and of course deserve to be seen and heard while sick. All bets are off, then.

So I practice blocking it out, or tuning it in, or pushing through rather than letting the seesaw crash.

The visual issue is a related but different bear. If there is clutter, my monkey brain focuses on that. If there is someone standing close by, waiting for me to finish so they get my attention, my brain focuses on that. I am training myself to be better about that, but for now I am allowing myself to want what I want and then work with what I have.

Ideally, my creative womb would be calm and clear and filled only with wonderful white noise or natural sounds.

(Which probably just made every parent on earth snort. Good luck with that!)

So the writing waits and gestates and will be noruished when I can nourish it.  I’ve had many passing braindrizzles that I’ve wanted to share here, but they are, for now, jots on scraps of paper. Some are patient, some are already past their prime.

I recall, with tender amusement, the months and years I worried about inspiration, worried about having nothing to say beyond a dopey 144-character quip. And here I am with pages of ideas I wish to write, stories to tell, even a book idea, and more dopey 144-character quips than I could shake an internet at.

It seems as though I am sitting on the pile of coins Anne Lamott refers to, and I’ve got a great shovel I happen to be using as a seesaw…

See you in a few days!



Yesterday, I auditioned for Listen to Your Mother in Chicago. What is this wonderfully titled show about? According to their website:

The mission of each LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER production is to take the audience on a well-crafted journey that celebrates and validates mothering through giving voice to motherhood–in all of its complexity, diversity, and humor–in the form of original readings performed live on-stage by their authors.

Pretty cool, huh?

Quite the antidote to the glazed looks I inspire at dinner parties when I tell people what I do and what I often write about. It’s also the counteragent to the many people over the years who have told me to never admit “too early” to creative artists I’m working with that I’m a mother.

Some writer/friends/instructors I know introduced me to Listen to Your Mother, and it sounded like the type of unusual and creative program I would enjoy participating in. I submitted my piece for consideration back in January and was called in to audition.

A resounding “Woohoo!” was heard throughout the land. Or at least throughout my house.

I edited the piece down to where I could read it in under five minutes and practiced until I was comfortable and unsurprised by any rogue tongue-twisters or winding sentences.

As this was a new opportunity to take a risk that was purely creative, artistic, expressive, exhilarating, and terrifying, my children took this as a challenge.

For 48 hours before my audition, the household was a flurry of stomach flu, epic meltdowns, and an existential crisis or two, all while my volunteer work presented me with time-sensitive emergencies. And there was laundry. There’s always laundry.

I went into Sunday having not slept since Thursday night and shaking from caffeine and nerves. I hadn’t been able to run the piece as much as I’d wanted in the two days prior, and I was feeling spent and drained.

I’ve auditioned for shows before, but never reading my own work. This was a different level of vulnerability/chutzpah. This mattered to me in ways other auditions hadn’t. I felt myself shaking and my voice cracking already, and I don’t usually have that in auditions.

The auditions were held at the gorgeous (and relatively easy-to-find-parking-near) Athenaeaum Theater. There was a sign-in table with a friendly note attached, kindly pointing out in various ways how happy the producers are to have us there and that we should not be nervous.

There were other moms waiting to tell their stories. One had a sick baby in her arms, the little one obviously feverish and unhappy, her head resting on her mama’s shoulders. “I figure if anyone is going to understand having a child in my arms, it’s here,” her mother explained. She was shifting her weight side to side, gently rocking her daughter in that timeless oceanic movement we have when holding babies, a motion no one teaches us, but one that seems to rise up from the earth or our feet and hips.

It was her first time auditioning for the show, she told me.

“Mine, too,” said another mom. She wondered what she was doing there. She’d written her piece as a way to process her grief over recently losing her own mother. She assumed she was going to cry during her reading. She talked about how hard that was, that she’s had to be a rock for her whole family during this whole time, and “I’m really just a marshmallow,” she said.

“You got this,” I told her, when she went in to read.

“I don’t have any tissues,” she smiled back at me. Bold and afraid, like everyone else coming in and out of that room.

A third mom came out from her audition and spoke with us and the mom holding the baby. She was dabbing tears. “I did it!” she cried, even though she had no idea who we were. “I made it to the end before crying, too!”

We congratulated her, as she did to me when I finished. She’d waited for me. We’d only just met, and in that instant we were each other’s greatest cheerleaders.

wed only just met

I thought about all the infantilising, dismissive comments about “Mommy Bloggers” and “Mommy Wars,” and too-often expressed opinions that those of us who have the awesome responsibility of motherhood are both silly and self-important, vain and shallow.

And to them I say, you’re not listening to our stories.

And to my fellow moms, I say we need to tell our stories — the ones of struggle and triumph and insecurity and identity…the ones that lie under all those other stories we tell a little more readily.

I only met and spoke with these women, these glorious mothers, for maybe five or ten minutes. That’s it. And it made my heart race just as quickly as the thought of auditioning, but in a way that reverberated and echoed through me. Through generations. Through time.

Because there was no bullshit, no competition. Just honesty. Raw emotion. Slivers of connection and recognition in a large city where we are ripping ourselves open every day needing to be heard.

Learn more about LTYM here.