Category Archives: Smile

If moms were on “The Circle”

A little late to the party, I know, but I’m finally watching “The Circle” on Netflix, and I am hooked.

For the unfamiliar, “The Circle” is reality competition, which pits together a bunch of millenials in an attempt to see who’s the savviest social-media master. Contestants live in a giant apartment complex with no access to the other players, save for communication via a portal known as the “circle.” Each contestant can play as any persona they wish, whether themselves or someone completely fictional, and share photos and videos, as well as text chat.

With the players mostly being young and single, you can imagine many of the chats go in a flirtatious or even sexual direction, and of course there’s lots of scheming and backstabbing.

As I was watching the show, I wondered how I would fare in such a competition. I am a married mom of two, so I probably wouldn’t get far playing the “sexy” card.

This got me thinking: what would “The Circle” be like if it was all moms in the competition?

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Now, let’s be honest, if you’re a mom, you are probably living some version of “The Circle” right now. How many of us spend way too much time in various parenting groups, trying not to punch our screens when we read stupid comments? Or is it just me?

If they ever made a mom version of “The Circle,” they’d have people lining up to be on this show. A bunch of days alone in your own apartment, and nobody allowed to bother you?

Where do I sign? Continue reading

We all contribute to our families’ success

“Who has more bills, you or daddy?”

My son asked me, while we were chatting in the kitchen.

“Neither of us do,” I answered. “Dad may pay a certain amount to use the gym, and I may pay a certain amount on my dance class, but we share a budget, and all of us contribute, even you and your brother.”

I went on to explain while his father is the one who brings in the most financially, and that it is important to recognize that, it is just as important to recognize the non-monetary contributions all of us make.

I spoke about how my writing, though not a big moneymaker, enables me to be home when needed, take care of household chores (however poorly I manage them), take his brother to speech services, and other tasks that would be difficult to complete if I was working full-time.

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I reminded my son his role (and his brother’s) is just as important as his parents. I explained how helping with the laundry, cleaning up his toys and being a good brother, all contribute to happy and well-functioning household.

We are all in this together, and we all play a part. Continue reading

Simple, flavorful roasted cauliflower

I eat a (mostly) vegetarian diet, which means produce plays an important part of my diet. Living with a bunch of meat-loving boys (my husband included), meant that I was often left eating my veggies on my own.

Over the years we’ve been together, I have shown my husband that many of the vegetables he thought he didn’t like could actually be very tasty, if cooked the right way.

For me, roasting vegetables is almost always the best way to bring out their delicious flavor — with the help of a good blend of spices, of course.

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One of the easiest, and tastiest, vegetable dishes, I love to make, is roasted cauliflower.

Cauliflower provides a neutral palette for a variety of seasoning options, but my go-to is turmeric. Not only does this spice give the cauliflower a beautiful color, it adds a nice smokey undertone, and has lots of nutritional benefits to boot.

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

1 cauliflower head chopped, or one bag pre-cut cauliflower

3 Tbsp – Olive oil

1 Tsp – Salt

1 Tsp Pepper

1 Tsp Turmeric

Directions:

Toss cauliflower in olive oil, than mix in the salt, pepper and turmeric.

Place cauliflower in casserole pan, baking sheet or whatever else you have on hand, just be sure it is large enough to spread out the cauliflower pieces.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes (or to desired crispness).

And that’s it. An easy dish that is healthful and flavorful

This cauliflower dish makes a great side, or even a good snack. Even my four-year-old enjoys it.

So whether you are going meatless or just want to eat more veggies, this dish is a simple, tasty addition to your rotation.

 

This book made me appreciate teachers even more

Whenever I think about who inspired me to become a writer, my second-grade teacher comes to mind.

When I think about who inspired me to think critically, and ask questions, a high school teacher comes to mind.

When I think about who will shape and influence my children over the years, teachers come to mind.

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The importance and value of great teachers cannot be understated. These dedicated servants to education can make all the difference in the lives of our children.

I have long had a deep respect for this profession, yet, I never fully understood the depth of work and devotion to this career, until I got my hands on a copy of Schooled: A Love Letter to the Exhausting, Infuriating, Occasionally Excruciating Yet Somehow Completely Wonderful Profession of Teaching. Continue reading

Ten hilarious toddler theories on what we do in the bathroom

Before children, I had no idea how lucky I was to be able to use the bathroom in peace and privacy. Ah, to just use the toilet with nobody pounding on the door or screaming for you the whole time. Those were the days.

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Once I had kids, I soon learned peeing with the door closed is a luxury reserved for those without kids.  Any attempt to shut the door and do my business was thwarted by the blood-curdling screams of tiny humans who couldn’t handle me “disappearing” for five minutes.

Small children have no concept of time, so whether their parents go on a trip for a week, or to work for several hours, their reaction is pretty much the same every time: flip the eff out. For some reason, however, when their parents decide to spend a few minutes in the bathroom, these little ones really lose their shit.

I mean it is just bonkers the reaction tiny tots have to the simple act of a grownup trying to use the facilities.They scream and panic as if they are being tortured, and because no parent wants to be accused of torture, we often settle for peeing with the door open.

But, when parents do decide to bravely shut the bathroom door for some much needed solace, where do the concerned babies and toddlers think we disappear too?

I have some theories:
Continue reading

Groceries and gratitude

“The card didn’t go through,” the cashier said, after I attempted to pay for my groceries.

I inserted my credit card into the reader once more.

Again, nothing.

I sighed heavily, baffled by why my card wasn’t working.

I don’t struggle financially.

My payments are on time.

I was annoyed.

After a failed third attempt, I used a different card.

I left the store still annoyed and embarrassed.

I hated the idea of people thinking I couldn’t afford those groceries — that I was deemed unfit by the credit card company to pay in such a manner.

But, as I drove away, I felt something deeper.

Shame.

Not the shame of feeling misjudged for my economic status,

But the shame at myself for allowing myself to think so negatively of those who are less fortunate that the mere idea that others would perceive me in the same light made me so angry.

I like to believe I am a compassionate person.

I support many causes.

I try to give back in my community and beyond.

And, yet, I am still part of a society which teaches us to put so much worth and value in one’s economic standing.

From a young age, we are inundated with the notion that those who work the hardest will be rewarded, and that those who are less fortunate than we are simply didn’t try hard enough.

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We are conditioned to believe:

Poor equals lazy.

Poor equals stupid.

As if there aren’t plenty of rich, lazy people roaming the earth.

But, thinking negatively of those who have less makes it easier to write them off.

It makes it easier for people like me to feel better about ourselves.

But, we all know the truth.

How much any of us has doesn’t make any of us a better human being.

Living in a huge house doesn’t make us any kinder.

Having a designer wardrobe doesn’t make us any more empathetic.

Driving a nice car doesn’t make our actions any greater.

Going on expensive trips doesn’t make our souls any more fulfilled.

Our stuff doesn’t make us better.

In this time of year when it is easy to focus on being grateful for the material things, I am going to remember that things I hold in my hands are nothing compared to what I hold in my heart.

I will encourage my children to think of others this season, and do my best to model acts of kindness.

I will pause before judging others, whose situations I do not know, and even better, try to take the time to learn more about them.

And, I will allow myself room for growth, and forgiveness.

A version of this post originally appeared on the Maybe I’ll Shower Today Facebook page.

Tech-free tips for keeping kids happy on the go

Unpredictable moods, constant whining and non-stop hunger make traveling with children a daunting task for families. And, while many parents, including me, are grateful for the wealth of tech products to keep our kids entertained, often we need, or want, to leave the gadgets behind.

Whether you are a tech-free family or your devices simply ran out of power, there are lots of reasons to turn to old school forms of entertainment on your next family road, air or train trip.

I asked my followers on Facebook to share their tech-free tips for keeping kids occupied and happy while traveling, and they delivered. Continue reading

Put down the screaming toddler, and pick up this book

Moby Dick, Crime and PunishmentThe Catcher in the Rye, these are just a few of the many books that speak so boldly to the human experience. The anguish, the despair — the general disdain and confusion for humanity — are all laid out for the reader’s consumption.

Yet, no piece of literature has so perfectly captured the essence of toddlerhood …

until now.

Silence Is A Scary Sound, the latest release from Clint Edwards, the hilarious person behind the beloved blog, No Idea What I’m Doing, is an honest, humorous and heartfelt depiction of the pure wonder and insanity that is raising two and three-year-olds. Continue reading

It’s not your fault, some babies are just hard

You push the stroller through the door of your local baby group, amazed you were able to make it out the door. Your eyes are bloodshot and droopy from not having a good night’s sleep in months. You gaze around at all the put-together, well-rested parents, each holding happy, well-behaved babies, and just hope, for once, your fussy child, will be able to get through this without screaming.

You wonder: what am I doing wrong?

Nothing.

You are doing nothing wrong.

Some babies are just hard.

This isn’t just me, science agrees, so if anyone tries to smugly shame you for not doing the “right” thing to soothe your baby, or believes they are somehow how superior because their baby sleeps through the night at two months, feel free to ignore them.

New parents who are gifted with an easy baby are lucky, that’s all.

Before I continue, let me insert a bit of a disclaimer here and say that I understand “easy” is relative. I am not trying to compare my experience to a parent whose baby required non-stop medical care, or any other circumstance beyond the typical scope of babyhood.

I am talking about developmentally typical, relatively healthy babies, and even when most of these factors are the same, some babies will be harder to deal with than others. That is just how they are born.

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Many parents learn this truth after their second, or third kid. They live in a blissful state of self satisfaction, believing they somehow cracked the code on parenting, and then, BAM!, out pops a baby who screams non-stop, and these parents realize they weren’t the “experts” they once believed.

Other parents, like me, are blessed with a more challenging newborn on their first go. And, if you haven’t spent much time with other babies (I hadn’t), you really believe that 1) this is just how it is, and 2) if you can’t fix it, it’s totally your fault.

I genuinely thought it was normal for my baby to want to be on my boob every 30 minutes. I assumed all babies hated sleep, or at least not sleeping on top of another human. Continue reading

Sukkot: The awesome Jewish holiday you (probably) never heard of

If you are Jewish (or have at least a few Jewish friends), you probably saw a lot of stuff about Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. Indeed, those two holidays are, in my estimation, the most widely observed among the Jewish people, with Yom Kippur, in particular, holding a good deal of weight.

Lesser known among non-Jews, and even among more secular Jews, is the holiday of Sukkot, which is a shame because it is pretty awesome.

Sukkot is an eight-day-long festival celebrating the harvest and remembering the time when the Jewish people were wandering from Egypt to Israel. This last part is honored today by the practice of building a sukkah — a temporary hut, usually crafted from simple materials with branches and other natural material used for a “roof.”

As a child, I loved decorating my family’s sukkah with tinsel, garlands and other various items my parents have gathered over the years. Now as a mom, I am enjoying passing on this tradition with my own children. I love that is a chance for us to come together as a family to build something we can all share.

During Sukkot, families such as mine will eat, relax and enjoy time with family in the Sukkah. For kids this is a really cool experience, and makes family meals a special time. Some people even sleep in the Sukkah, to get the full feel of what it might have been like for the Jews in the wilderness. My family has never done this, as unlike in the Middle Eastern desert, this time of year gets pretty chilly where we live!

Sukkot is a wonderful time to connect with family, and, because we spend a lot of it outside, it is a great time to connect with nature as well.
Continue reading