Archive of ‘Sentiments’ category

It Takes a Village: 6 Ways to Help a New Mom

On The Champagne Supernova blog: how to help a new mom after she has a baby!

Me and my mom a few weeks after I was born. 1982 was a good year.

I’m at a point in my life where it feels like half the people I know are either trying to get pregnant, are pregnant, or just had a baby. That’s a lot of bambinos right there. Unless the mother is a close friend, I’m sometimes at a loss for how (or whether) to respond immediately after she has the baby.

Do I call right away? Will she be annoyed by text messages and e-mails? How soon is too soon to visit the baby? Will my attempts to give her space be translated into a misconception I’m uninterested?

The struggle is real.

I was a new mom twice. Unless baby Jesus makes a second appearance here on Earth, there won’t be a third time.

The chances of lightning striking my house or me winning the lottery are greater.

That said, I remember being grateful for all the people who reached out after my girls were born to lend a helping hand. As my parents and in-laws don’t live in the same city as me and my husband, the help we received was valuable and didn’t go unnoticed.

If you want to reach out to a new mom, here are some original (and unoriginal) ways to offer your support.

Take them a Meal. If you’re a working parent who doesn’t have time to prepare a homemade meal, or you simply detest cooking, don’t be ashamed to order take-out. My go-to meal for new parents is pizza, salad, bread sticks, and a bottle of wine from a local Italian restaurant. Who doesn’t like pizza?

Nobody I want to be friends with.

Arrange a Meal Train. As most of the new parents’ friends will offer to take meals, this is a great way to  ensure the food delivery is organized. This is easy and can be arranged through a web site. Popular, free options include Take them a Meal and Mealbaby.

Caveat to moms: don’t be unreasonably picky about the type of food you want people to deliver and just be grateful. I once was invited to participate in a meal train that had so many unreasonable parameters regarding the time to deliver (15 minute window), days to deliver, specific food choices (read: filet mignon preference- literally!), and a request to coordinate the delivery with someone other than the new parents.

I was completely put off.

Take Their Older Kids to the Park. The only thing more stressful than having a new baby is dealing with older children on top of the new baby. Especially when the older children need to stay active and don’t enjoy being cooped up in the house.

One of the greatest ways to help new parents is keeping their older kids busy. Offer to take them to the park, library, or local swimming pool. This is mutually beneficial for people who also have older kids, as the children can play together. If you’re already driving to the park, what’s the harm in bringing one or two more people?

Pamper the Mama. Visitors typically take presents for the baby, but what about the new mom? Doesn’t she deserve to be pampered?

Yes, yes, yes!

Take her nice smelling soaps, a bottle of wine, bath salts, scented candles, fun magazines, or even a gift card for a manicure or pedicure. If you’re crafty, you can put together your own “care package” of high-end beauty products that are often substantially discounted at retail stores like TJMaxx, Homegoods, and Marshall’s. Depending on where you live, a gift card for a mani/pedi combo usually costs $35 with the tip included. All of these items can be obtained with a subscription to the Pampered Mommy Box, which I love. (This is an affiliate link, which means I get a financial kickback with purchases. Hey, the blog ain’t gonna pay for itself!)


Clean their House. There’s something peaceful about walking into a clean home.

Fabuloso brand floor cleaner. Mmmmmmm.

If you don’t enjoy cleaning (who does?), you can get together with other women to chip in for a cleaning lady to clean the home when the new mama is running errands. Depending on the number of contributors and the size of the mama’s house, this can be accomplished for around $20 per person.

Do their Laundry. This favor is reserved for only the closest of friends.

I get it, the idea of an acquaintance cleaning your husband’s sweaty gym clothes is awkward. However, as laundry seems to pile up and there are few things in life worse than having to fold and put away a mountain of laundry, this is a perfect way to help out.

Your help will be appreciated and will help lighten the load during the new mom’s period of uncertainty, nervousness, and insomnia.

Cheers to good friends!

    From the Mouths of Baby Mamas: 9 Things Soon-To-Be Parents Say that Make me Smirk

    I can’t help but do a little internal chuckle when I hear a pregnant woman who doesn’t already have children tell everyone about her grandiose plans for child rearing. I’ve heard all sorts of ridiculous things, but here are some of my favorites:

    “I’ll Never Give My Kids McDonald’s.” Lady, there will come a point when you don’t have time to cook a four course organic meal and a Chicken McNugget will never look so good. If our grandparents’ generation smoked a pack of cigarettes a day in their third trimesters, then an occasional french fry won’t kill anyone.

    Lighten up. 

    “My House Will Always Be Clean.” Obviously, nobody ever told this woman that “toddler” is synonymous with “tornado.” Turn your back for one minute while tidying up the living room, only to find your child has toilet-papered the bathroom.

    You have a cleaning lady? Oh, that’s nice.

    Means the only time your house will be legitimately immaculate is the period between when the cleaner leaves and your child gets home from daycare.

    “I’ll Never Raise My Voice at My Youngster.” Until they run into a busy street. Or knock over the fish tank while cartwheeling inside the house. Or purposely put gum in their sibling’s hair.

    Nope, you’ll never lose it. Ever.

    “I Won’t Let My Kids Watch TV or Use a Smart Phone.” Just wait until this parent-to-be is waiting with their child inside the lobby of a doctor’s office and would do anything to make them be quiet and keep them entertained. 

    Sure, use Mummy’s iPhone to watch all the YouTube videos your heart desires. Just don’t make a peep. 

    “I’m Still Going To Work Out Seven Days a Week and Look Good for my Husband.” This comment warrants the world’s biggest eye roll because it tends to come from women whose husbands have man boobs and spare tires

    Honey, if you want to look good, it needs to be for yourself and not for anyone else. 

    Getting up and going to the gym at 5 a.m. is one thing when you don’t have children. It’s something entirely different when your baby woke up ten times in the middle of the night, you repeatedly hunted for a pacifier in the dark, and you still have to go to work the next day.

    “I’d Never Let My Child Publicly Misbehave.” I routinely said this before I had kids of my own. I judged other parents and I judged their kids. After raising a strong-willed child and knowing that sometimes even the “death-glare” will not deter certain behavior in public, I judge no one.

    The one perk about parenting is the immunity it provides from whining, screaming, and general bellyaching. I’ve groomed myself to tune it out.

    I’m sorry, what? Your kid’s been wailing for ten minutes straight? Didn’t hear it at all.

    “My Child Won’t Leave the House Unless Dressed to the Nines.” Sometimes I’m just glad to have gotten everyone out of the house with lunches in tow. I don’t have time and I don’t care to worry about what everyone looks like. My three-year-old’s hair is combed? Great. Does it matter she picked out her own bow and it clashes with the rest of her outfit? No. Does it matter her socks are inside out? Nope, because she’ll take them off two minutes after we get into the car. Does it matter her outfit isn’t monogrammed? Well, considering she’s going to daycare where she will paint, eat leftover spaghetti, and play in the dirt, no.  

    Aside from school picture day or a special event, I generally don’t put too much emphasis on ensuring my children look perfect.

    “I Don’t Think I’ll Want to Work After the Baby is Born.” There’s a misconception the only thing stay-at-home-moms do all day is drink mimosas, get pedicures, watch reality television, and occasionally change a diaper. I know this because it’s what I used to think before I had kids. What a jerk.

    I caution every person whose ever made this statement to wait and see how hard staying at home with a young child and having to create your own routine can really be. For me, having a career is like getting paid to relax, compared to staying at home with a toddler and infant.

    “I’m Not Having An Epidural.” This comment is hilarious.  Nobody fully comprehends the agonizing out-of-body experience of labor contractions until they are living it. I know roughly ten women who attempted to have a drug-free deliveries and only one actually did it- and that was because she was so far dilated she couldn’t have an epidural, never mind she was literally begging her OB for one. I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily endure that type of pain. It’s either for bragging rights or because they think an epidural could potentially harm the child.

    You know what? Screaming bloody murder from pain in my child’s ear will harm the child. So there’s that. 

    I hear mothers-to-be say these things and all I do is nod my head, smile, and say, “well isn’t that nice, I’m excited to hear about your adventure!”

    Cheers to knowing better!

      The Spider in the Toilet: How to Explain Death to Children

      How to Explain Death to Children.

      A couple weeks ago, our neighbor, Mr. Smith, passed away. He was in his nineties and lived a rich life. After my husband and I visited Mr. Smith’s wife to offer our condolences, our three year old daughter, Arden, asked what happened to him.

      He passed away, I said.

      What does that mean?

      It means he’s in heaven.

      Is he there alone?

      No, he’s with Jesus.

      These questions continued and, because I was unprepared to think of a clever, age-appropriate answer Arden could understand, my responses were circular.

      He died. He passed away. He went to heaven. He’s with Jesus.

      Over and over again.

      Fast forward two days.

      Arden discovered a spider in the downstairs bathroom and asked me to get rid of it. I smashed it with a rolled-up magazine, picked up the remains with toilet paper, and flushed Daddy Long Legs down the commode.

      Despite watching me get rid of the spider, Arden asked where he (she?) went.

      The spider passed away.

      Where is he?

      He’s in heaven.

      Long, painful pause.

      Is Mr. Smith also in the toilet?

      I was stupefied and speechless. I looked at my husband for help. Say something. Something. What do I say?

      Please, God, don’t let Arden ask Mr. Smith’s widow if her husband is in the toilet next time we run into her at the mailbox.  

      Explaining death is difficult. I’m not sure the majority of adults like to think about it. I sure don’t.

      Death makes me feel uncomfortable because it forces me to think about my own mortality.

      When will it happen? Will I have enough time to reach my goals? Will I be able to say goodbye to the people I love? Will it be on an airplane?

      Lord, please don’t let it be on a plane. (I hate flying. My parents let me watch La Bamba when I was little and it ruined me.)

      How will my family feel? Will they get over it quickly or remain in a dark emotional slumber that lasts years? Will my husband remarry?

      I hope he remarries. And it’s to a woman who gets as annoyed as I did (do?) every time he puts wet bath towels on the floor. So he can see I wasn’t being irrational.

      Will my girls call her “mom” or call her by her first name?

      Will she know what to do or say when my girls lose a tooth, get their periods, or ask their dad for money to go on Spring Break in Cancun when they’re in college? (I will haunt them if I see them taking shots at a foam party at Señor Frog’s.)

      And here I am getting ahead of myself just like I always do. Overthinking.

      But how does someone explain death to a three year old? Kids don’t understand things they can’t see.

      I remember my mother trying to explain death to me when I was a young child. My first brush with death that legitimately affected my family happened when my mom unexpectedly lost her sister, Mary, to diabetes. This was different than the roadrunner running off the cliff. This was real. We would never see Aunt Mary again. She was gone. My mother said people who die never come back or see anyone ever again. It was a forever type of thing.

      And I understood all I needed to understand. Not coming back. Permanent.

      Mr. Smith’s death introduced the first in what will be a line of many difficult conversations that will happen while my kids are little. I just didn’t expect it would happen this soon and I wanted to be prepared, Goshdarnit.

      I’m not sure if they way I explained death to Arden was the best way to explain it. But it was my real and honest answer. Sure, I could hop on Amazon and buy one of the zillion “Talking to Your Kids About Death” books, read up on the issue, and give Arden a perfect, airbrushed answer. But it wouldn’t be my answer. It would be someone else’s answer. And I don’t want that.

      With raising kids, the parents struggling to explain a difficult concept is as important as the child trying to understand it. Sometimes it’s important for the parents to admit when they don’t really understand why or how something happened. Everyone gets to have their “a-ha! moment”.

      A time will come when my husband and I will have to explain controversial events, ideas, and ideologies to our children that make The Spider in the Toilet seem like Disneyworld. And when we do, I don’t want to be too prepared. I want the response to be authentic and unrehearsed, just the way I want my kids to be in their daily lives.


        7 Magic Words: The Foolproof Way to Halt a Dead-End Conversation


        I was at the airport this week and overheard two people bickering over Josh Duggar, the Ashley Madison website scandal, and the Duggar family in general. The female was crucifying the Duggar family for its hypocrisy in projecting themselves as Christians in the media, while raising “a pond scum, perverted, cheater.” The male defended the Duggars, arguing that no family is perfect and that one “loser” out of 19 still makes them good parents. The discussion escalated into a yelling match at Gate D7.

        There’s been a lot of recent media stories that make for interesting discussions around the dinner table. Caitlyn Jenner. Donald Trump. Sandra Bland. Tim Tebow.

        Everybody has an opinion. Some people have strong opinions. Some people are apathetic. Some people won’t have an opinion without first independently researching the issue. Some people adopt a “popular” or “politically correct” opinion without questioning how the media is crafting an issue, or because they are too scared to publicly say their real opinions.

        You know what? Absent someone asking you what your opinion is, nobody really cares. And 99.9% of the time, you will not influence anybody by being assertive about yours. So stop it already.

        It took me twenty years to realize that in some most scenarios, it’s best to keep my mouth closed, no matter how difficult. While it’s important for us to speak our truths, some conversations merit zipping it. Most importantly, I’ve learned that just because someone starts a dead-end conversation doesn’t mean I have to participate.

        There’s a lot of special people in my life. I have friends who are white, black, asian, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Jehovah’s Witness, agnostic, American, Russian, Cuban, gay, straight, transgender, poor, wealthy, parents, childless, breastfeeder, non-breastfeeder, working moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, married, divorced, illiterate, educated, depressed, and mentally stable (if there is such a thing).

        Having a diverse social circle creates the potential probability of disagreements regarding religion, politics, and controversial social issues.

        Life would be boring if everyone held the same beliefs. Our opinions are shaped by our personal experiences and observations. There’s very few instances where a philosophy is concretely wrong or right.

        And let’s be face it, I don’t want all my friends and acquaintances to be exactly like me.

        In the past, I’ve foolishly engaged in “dead-end” conversations with friends and colleagues about touchy subjects.

        Dumb, dumb, dumb.

        As a wise man (Kenny Rogers) once said:

        You gotta know when to hold ’em.
        Know when to fold ’em.
        Know when to walk away.
        And know when to run.

        When a conversation is going somewhere that could result in hurt feelings, animosity, or resentment, it’s time to fold it. If you can’t fold it, then change the subject and gracefully walk away.

        A conversation is usually making a turn for the worst when of the participants becomes visibly angry. People can become so fixated on being “right” that they aren’t considering the importance of being kind. If a person is “right,” but they project themselves in a way that makes them look like a jerk to everyone else, then how is being “right” going for them?

        Shut that bad boy down.

        The best way to shut it down is with the Seven Magic Words:

        You don’t have to agree with me. 

        The key is that if you use this phrase while projecting sincere kindness, there is no logical way for the other person to respond to keep the conversation moving in a bad direction. How do you argue with someone who acknowledges you don’t need to agree with them?

        You can’t.

        Cheers to agreeing to disagree, having an opinion, and accepting and loving those who don’t think the same way you do.



          The Preggo in the Fitting Room: 10 Universal Truths about Life and Parenting

          Me, two months postpartum, in all my acne-ridden glory. 10 Universal Truths about Life and Parenting;

          Me, two months postpartum, in all my acne-ridden glory. Where on earth were my Rodan + Fields friends when I needed them the most?

          The situation is one of my Top 5 Most Embarrassing Moments. It is burned into my memory like major life events: my parents dropping me off at college, the exact moment I discovered I passed the bar exam, my wedding day, the first time I laid eyes on my children.

          It was freezing cold in March of 2012 and I was three days past my due date with my first daughter. By this point, I could barely walk, acne had taken my face hostage, my hair looked like a “before” picture in a Frizz-Ease infomercial, my back was sore, and I was angry at the world. I got out of bed and drove to the other side of Tampa to buy dog food, as the only place that sold our preferred “high-end” brand was across town at a Petco located in a strip mall. (After we had kids, the dogs got whatever cheap-o brand was available at the grocery store. You know how that goes.)

          From the strip mall parking lot, I could see a new boutique had opened and there were mannequins wearing beautiful, “hip” clothing in the windows. (Not the type of clothes a thirty-year old pregnant lady would be caught dead wearing, if I was even lucky enough to get the pant leg over my thigh.) The entrance of the boutique was decorated with balloons and streamers.

          I decided to check it out.

          Maybe I can buy some cute clothes I can look forward to wearing a couple months after the baby is born.

          I walked inside the boutique and was excitedly met with three adorable, skinnyyoung female employees who screamed “CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’RE OUR VERY FIRST CUSTOMER” as flashes from a camera struck me in the face.

          I almost started to cry.

          Oh my goodness, I am SO SORRY I’m your first customer.

          They were probably hoping for a college student with blown-out hair, perfect eyebrows, and a tiny body who would look perfect trying on their high-waisted jean shorts, which were in style at the time.

          Instead, they got me. With black labrador retriever hairs stuck like velcro all over my (fifteen year old) fleece jacket, pajama pants that I’ve had since college, and oatmeal from breakfast still stick in my hair. They probably assumed I crawled out from the Starbucks dumpster.

          Look, if you want, I would be HAPPY to step outside until someone else can come along and be your “official” first customer.

          They wouldn’t hear of it. So I bought some rompers (that had elastic waists) and an A-line dress.

          I was the Preggo in the fitting room.

          This whole event got me thinking about truths of life. Of course this couldn’t have happened on a good day, when I showered, my hair was done, make-up on, and I was feeling presentable. Instead, it happened on a day I was feeling my worst.

          Murphy’s Law.

          Then I started thinking about other Universal Truths that are consistent as the rooster crowing, sun shining, and moon rising.

          1. It is impossible to get out of Target or Home Depot without spending more than $100.

          2. With kids, you will not be able to get out of the house on time for the most critical time-sensitive appointments. Something will happen.

          3. You will find your lost safety pin when you are walking around barefoot.

          4. One-size-fits-all is either way too big or way too small.

          5. You will accidentally send a rough draft that includes handwritten, stick-figure doodles to the client instead of the final version.

          6. The dropped piece of toast lands with the buttered side down.

          7. As soon as you sit down with a hot cup of coffee, your boss (or kids) will ask you to do something that lasts until the coffee is cold.

          8. As soon as you (finally!) find a cosmetic you like, the company discontinues it.

          9. The person with the window seat on an airplane has to get up to use the restroom a million times when you’re sitting by the aisle.

          10. You blow-dry your hair on a day it rains.

          I recently contacted the very sweet owner of the boutique to see if they could send me a copy of the pictures from the Grand Opening. Fortunately (for me), they couldn’t find them.

          I realize there are “worse things” in life that have happened to people than showing up heinous at a store’s Grand Opening. This morning, I almost got into a car accident after running a red light and stopping just in time before T-Boning a Dodge pickup truck. All because I was more focused on trying to search for Bruce Springsteen on Spotify than paying attention to the road. Lesson learned and crisis averted. That would have been worse.

          Cheers to embracing Murphy’s Law and being able to laugh about it.

          Special thanks to the awesome ladies at A Haley Boutique for being such gracious sports! You earned a longtime customer.

            You Must be a Parent


            You came to my house unannounced and weren’t appalled that it was a pigsty.

            You must be a parent.

            You smiled and moved your purse out of the way when my infant and I sat next to you on a plane.

            You must be a parent.

            You acted like you didn’t notice when my two-year-old was thrashing in the middle of a restaurant because I wouldn’t let her eat a brownie for dinner.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the server at the restaurant who didn’t get upset when we left behind a pile of puffs, sugar packets, and exploded coffee creamers on the floor underneath the table.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the co-worker who didn’t appear phased when we carpooled to a two-hour work event listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat because I didn’t notice it was playing.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the nice lady at Target who approached me in the parking lot with a loving pat on the arm and said “been there” when my child was screaming because she didn’t want to get into her carseat.

            You’re obviously a parent.

            You were the Costco employee who cheerfully gave into my daughter’s requests for sample after sample of Scooby-Doo fruit snacks.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the grocery store cashier who didn’t get annoyed when my toddler wanted to swipe my credit card in the electronic machine. Ten times in a row. And kept accidentally hitting the “cancel” button.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the customer standing in line behind me as this was going on who wasn’t giving me a homicidal glare.

            You must be a parent.

            You were the library volunteer at story time who didn’t mind answering irrelevant questions about the book before moving on to the next page.

            How many freckles are on that kid’s face?

            Do you think that camel has brothers and sisters?

            Why is that birthday party cake pink and not purple?

            You must be a parent.

            You were kind when you could have been irritated, you were tolerant when you could have been angry, you were calm when you could have been uptight, you smiled when you could have rolled your eyes.

            You must be a parent.

            And thank you.

              Parenthood: 8 Battles That Aren’t Worth Fighting

              8 Battles that Aren't Worth the Fight with your Kids;

              It was easy to judge other parents before I had kids of my own.

              Oh my Gawd, that lady is letting her three-year-old chew gum!

              Can you be-LIEVE those parents are allowing their children make a mess in this [crappy] restaurant? 

              I would NEVER let my kids entertain themselves with an iPhone! 

              Man, was I clueless.

              After I had children, I realized that some battles aren’t worth being late to work, stressed and defeated. They aren’t worth getting my blood pressure up. They aren’t worth raising my voice. They aren’t worth the eye-roll.

              Don’t get me wrong- some battles are worth fighting. Getting into a swimming pool without an adult. Petting a stray animal. Trolling around the medicine cabinet. Taking candy from strangers.

              However, in our home, some things are not, and will never be, worth the battle. Here are eight of them.

              Lipstick. A lover of cosmetics and all things “girly,” my daughter routinely invades my makeup bag and ends up looking like a clown. 

              I could rub the lipstick off her face, but the rage that would ensue simply isn’t worth it.

              So, unless we’re going somewhere important, the lipstick is staying on.

              Not worth the battle.

              Hairstyling. My daughter likes to do her own hair, which entails putting a hundred bows, barrettes, and rubber bands onto every square inch of her head. By the time she’s done, she’s proud of herself and making her take them off and re-doing her hair would shoot her self esteem.

              There’s nothing wrong with looking like a ragamuffin in public.

              Again, not worth it.

              Manicures at 6 am. My daughter occasionally wakes up at the crack of dawn and wants me to give her a manicure. Her preference is “rainbow” style, which means a different color on each fingernail.

              As there will come a time when she is a teenager and wants nothing to do with me, as long as I’m already awake, I will happily oblige.

              Not worth the battle (and so worth the memories).

              8 Battles Not Worth Fighting With your Kids;

              Wearing Pajamas to School. My daughter has a closet full of beautiful smocked, monogrammed, and brand name clothing. What does she want to wear to school? One of ten polyester Disney princess nightgowns that were purchased at Wal-Mart.

              She will not take no for an answer. If I try to put something else on her, she arches her back, scorpion-style, and it takes twice as long to get out of the house in the morning.

              So, as long as she chooses a clean set, she can rock her pajamas at school.

              Not worth the battle.

              Cookies for breakfast. Despite having a plate full of organic eggs and farm-fresh fruit in front of her, my daughter becomes fixated on a cookie from the pantry.

              As long as she first eats the eggs and fruit, I’m okay with the cookie because I know the cookie is a means to an end.

              Not worth the battle.

              Nighttime Snuggling. People have strong opinions about co-sleeping, but it doesn’t phase me.

              When it’s 3 a.m. on a Tuesday, my husband and I have to work the next day, and our daughter crawls into our bed saying “can I snuggle wiff you?” telling her to get back into her own bed isn’t a viable option.

              Definitely not worth the battle.

              Tooth Brushing. Ordinarily, this is part of my daughter’s nighttime and morning routines. There are, however, occasions where she will fall asleep in the car and we have to transport her into the house and attempt to get her into bed without her waking up.

              We are not going to risk a Hiroshima-esque event occurring in our house by waking her up to brush her teeth.

              As long as it doesn’t happen very often, tooth brushing can wait until the morning.

              Not worth the battle. 

              Reading the Same Book a Hundred Times. When my daughter likes a book, she can become obsessed with it.

              As in, she wants to read it over and over and over again.

              When it’s late at night and we are trying to get her into bed so we have a little time to ourselves, we don’t care if we read Pinkalicious every day for the last month. We are going to comply because the battle isn’t worth it.

              Jeez, Pinkalicious, quit eating all the freaking cupcakes already! 

              Absolutely not worth the battle.

              Cheers to choosing your parenting battles wisely!

                Fathers and Daughters: 5 Important Things My Dad Taught Me


                Me and my Dad on my wedding day in 2009.

                Ten years ago, my father got a phone call from his sobbing daughter, who was on the verge of what she believed was a nervous breakdown from final exams as a first-year law student.

                What did he do?

                He hopped in the car and drove four hours- round trip- and surprised her by taking her to dinner at one of her favorite restaurants, Sonny’s BBQ.

                Fast forward one decade. My dad invited me to be his “Plus One” on a trip to Italy, which he won as part of an incentive program through his company. Assuming that I would be in the throes of cleaning my kids’ spit-up and tending to a full time, “stress-free” career, he was shocked when I accepted his invitation.

                When I was growing up, my “Tour of Italy” would have amounted to unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at The Olive Garden. You can imagine that I jumped at the chance.

                We had the best time, and I’ll be forever grateful for the memories.


                Me and my Dad in Pisa, Italy.

                My sister and I have a great dad. He never let us slack off at school, never allowed us to keep questionable company, and always encouraged us to “make good decisions,” which was his motto.

                He always tried to instill important values in us, but was also forgiving when we slipped.

                Here are the five things that make my dad so special:

                My Dad Gave Up His Own Comfort for Mine. My Dad always put me and my sister before himself. As a recent example, he gave up his window seat and took my center seat on the 9-hour plane ride from Europe to the United States when we were returning from Italy. I’m terrified of flying [thanks to my parents letting me watch La Bamba when I was a little girl], and needed the window seat to keep from hyperventilating.

                He didn’t once complain about the center seat, and karma probably allowed him to easily fall asleep to boot! 

                My Dad Humored Me When He Probably Wanted to Shake Me. Growing up and through college, my Dad listened with a nonjudgmental heart when his drama queen daughter would call him crying about failed relationships. He probably wanted to shake me and tell me the best was yet to come and the guy at issue wasn’t worth the headache. Instead, he listened, never said “I told ‘ya so,” and never made me feel badly about allowing my heart to hurt.

                My Dad Was My Biggest Fan. My Dad has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. My earliest memory of this was when I was chosen to represent my public elementary school at a county-wide speech contest in fourth grade. I spoke about water conservation and another girl spoke about her brother’s physical handicap. She won. To this day, my Dad still tells the story about how I should have won and of the large number of people who approached him afterward to express disgust about my “highway robbery.”

                While it was never good to be a sore loser, my Dad thought it was also important to recognize when fair was fair.

                Even though life wasn’t always fair.

                My Dad Taught Me that it’s Ok for Men to Cry. My Dad is nicknamed the “weeping willow” of the family. This became apparent during my senior year of high school when my grandmother died of cancer. My Dad showed me that the stereotype of men being weak if they cried wasn’t true. He showed me that in order to be strong, real, and authentic, you couldn’t be afraid to reveal your vulnerabilities, even if it meant publicly crying.

                This was as true for women as it was for men.

                My Dad Taught Me the Importance of Choosing My Friends Wisely. When I was growing up, my parents never allowed me to go to anybody’s house unless they first met the friend and their parents. Their philosophy was that I’d be less likely to get into trouble if my friend was being raised by people with values similar to the values my parents were teaching me.

                “You are who your friends are” is a motto that is true, and is even more apparent now that I have girls of my own.

                What I value the most about this motto is that some of my deepest, core group of girlfriends date all the way back to my childhood.

                I’m working on passing along these five things to my own two girls.

                Cheers to the man who loved me first and knows me best.

                  10 Things I’m Glad Didn’t Exist When I was in College

                  10 Things I'm Glad Didn't Exist in College:

                  I attended undergrad in the early 2000 timeframe at somewhere similar to North Canada University when life was easy. Very few people had cellular phones, and we had to take turns sharing the dorm room landline.

                  Ahhh, the simple life.

                  If someone tried to contact you, you could pretend you never got the call, the email, or the letter that came via snail mail. You didn’t have to think about doing something immature and becoming an overnight sensation on YouTube. You didn’t have to worry about writing stupid things in an email and having it go viral.

                  Because back when my friends and I were in college, we never said or did anything dumb, immature, or regretful.

                  Here are the top 10 things I’m glad didn’t exist when I was in college:

                  Facebook. Back when I was in undergrad, they had this thing called Flashes Online.

                  No, it wasn’t one of those sites.

                  It was a company that sent photographers to college events, usually fraternity and sorority functions, to document shenanigans, tomfoolery, and debauchery. The photos were uploaded for purchase onto the internet within a couple days, and you better believe that me and all my girlfriends were glued to our IBMs, scrolling through thousands of pictures of people we didn’t know to see if our crush-o-the-month was spotted with another girl on camera. Praise God, Facebook didn’t hit the scene until my first year of law school, and even then, it wasn’t very popular.

                  Oh, and you had to actually be enrolled at a college or university to qualify for a Facebook account. Not like now, where the free world has access to it.

                  If Facebook was around in college, I would have been arrested for stalking.

                  Text Messages. These weren’t around until my senior year of undergrad and, even so, nobody really used them because it took ten minutes just to figure out how to type a seven letter word. Further, they weren’t part of my cell phone “family plan” and my Dad threatened to kill me because each incoming text cost 25 cents.

                  Back in the glory days, we actually had to pick up the phone and call someone when we wanted to make plans. Or we had to hop on our computers [usually desktops] and log into AIM to figure out what everybody was doing.

                  My screen name was chikenleggz. Don’t ask.

                  The Bachelor/ Bachelorette. While this show was technically around when I was in college, the extravagant dates on the show didn’t happen until much later. If so, the extremely over-the-top nature of “dating” would have given me an unrealistic view of relationships and made me feel insecure about my own love life.

                  You mean, you’re not picking me up at 7 to take me on a personal tour of the Grand Canyon via helicopter followed by a romantic candlelit dinner at a castle?

                  Instead, you’re taking me to the unlimited Italian smorgasbord at Cici’s Pizza?


                  Camera Phones. Back in the glory days of college, we carried around disposable cameras from the drugstore. Getting them developed was like opening presents on Christmas morning: you never knew what you’d get, and the final product would leave you equal parts disappointed and elated.

                  There was no red eye correction or skin-smoothing filter. The only way to crop a photobomber was to physically cut him or her out of the picture altogether.

                  Sometimes you had to hide your recently-developed photographs from your significant other, because you didn’t know the exact age of your disposable drugstore camera or if any of the pictures that you’d since forgotten about would get you into trouble.

                  Rule Number 1: Don’t let your mother develop your pictures.

                  This also leads us to…

                  Selfies. You couldn’t really take a “selfie” with a disposable camera. If you did, you couldn’t immediately upload it onto the internet (because there was no social media) and you had no idea how it turned out until you developed your pictures.

                  Not to mention that being caught taking pictures of yourself in the early 2000s would have gotten you labeled as vain and narcissistic.

                  Wikipedia. When I was in college, if you wanted to do any research, you had to actually walk to the library and fully acquaint yourself with the card catalogue. Nowadays, thanks to Wikipedia, college students can plagiarize from the comfort of their own couches.

                  Amazon Prime. I didn’t have a car my first two years of undergrad. If I wanted to go anywhere or needed to buy anything, I had to either take the bus or mooch a ride from my friends.

                  99% of the time, it was the latter.

                  I would have been impoverished if Amazon Prime existed when I was in undergrad. The fact that I didn’t have a job or two pennies to rub together wouldn’t have deterred me from buying nineteen bottles of Bed Head shampoo, a Juicy Couture terry cloth jumpsuit, and the new Vanessa Carlton album just because I could.

                  Click, click, boom!

                  Adorable Gifts for New Arrivals at Gymboree!

                  Smart Phones. Back in college, I had the freedom of being completely “in the moment” with my friends without the pressure of needing to instantly respond to emails and SMS messages, uploading pictures of my otherwise mundane life on Instagram, or posting witty remarks on Twitter.

                  Hashtags. #wheniwasincollege #wedidn’thavetheseridiculoushashtags #andcouldactuallybefunnyinreallife #withoutfeelinglike #wehadtobefunny #ontheinternet

                  Tinder. This is an internet application that pulls information from Facebook to create the user’s profile, and then retrieves “matches” that meet their age/sex/location criteria. The user swipes the picture to the right if they find the other user attractive, or swipes to the left if they’re not interested.

                  The Tinder concept is sick and shallow.

                  Cheers to the glory days when life was simple and unplugged!

                    To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends are Trying to Get Pregnant

                    To Ask or Not to Ask: When Your Friends Are Trying to Get Pregnant;

                    I am an open book.

                    Someone: How are you?
                    Me: Ohmygod, Arden woke up four times in the middle of the night last night, Elle threw up in her car seat on the way to school, when I got to work, my heel got stuck between the elevator and the ground floor, causing my foot to fly out of my shoe in front of a bunch of people, I had a strawberry seed stuck between two teeth all day and I couldn’t find any floss, some lady in a white Volkswagen Jetta cussed me out at the gas station because she thought I stole her pump, and so I got stressed and binge ate a Baby Ruth. How’ve you been?

                    Someone is sorry they asked.

                    While the dialogue above is generally light hearted, I’m equally revealing about life’s catastrophes. Little is left to the imagination.

                    It took me 30 years to realize that not everybody thinks, acts, or processes life the same way I do. Some people don’t want to talk about obstacles.

                    As my friends and colleagues have started settling down, getting married, and thinking about starting a family- or about extending an existing family- something I’ve struggled with is whether to inquire about their efforts to have a baby.

                    I know an unsettling number of women who have dealt with infertility. Some of these women have had miscarriages, from very early in their pregnancies before the child had a heartbeat, to very late in their pregnancies when the baby had a name, a nursery, and the parents anticipated a future that would never happen.

                    It’s heartbreaking.

                    I’m also aware that it’s not just women who struggle with infertility issues, but men also. It hurts for everyone involved. The woman might have her own issues to deal as does the man. What women go through has been mentioned above, but obviously for a man it is a bit different. Advanced Urology is something that has specialised trained doctors who can help diagnose and treat any problems that a man might have with his fertility issues. It’s never something that a man wants to admit to, but when you’re trying for a baby you just have to deal with it. That might sound harsh, but there’s no point beating around the bush about it now. Better to find out what the problem is straight away then pretend like it doesn’t exist.

                    From a social [and perhaps moral] standpoint, it’s necessary to be interested in- and show an interest about- important things that are happening in other peoples’ lives.

                    Mama always said that it’s better to be interested than it is to be interesting. 

                    Notwithstanding, if I suspect, or specifically know, that someone is trying to have a baby, I’m often at a crossroads about whether to ask how it’s going. On one hand, I don’t want to not ask and seem like I’m uninterested in something huge that’s happening [or not happening] in that person’s life. On the other hand, I don’t want to ask and pour salt in the proverbial wound if the person’s childbearing efforts aren’t progressing the way they hoped. Overall, I don’t want to project an inaccurate feeling that I don’t care.

                    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, infertility is common and defined as unsuccessfully trying to get pregnant for 12 months or longer. Approximately 10% of women between the ages of 14 and 44 have difficulty getting pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

                    Before writing this post, I undertook a completely non-scientific survey of a bunch of girlfriends, all of whom come from different geographic, age, and educational ranges, to get their views on whether they want their friends to inquire about their attempts to have a baby. Here’s what I learned:

                    Don’t assume that a woman who already has children is immune from infertility. Anna* [not her real name] has two children with her husband, and has been trying for a third for a year and a half. “What I hate is when acquaintances nonchalantly ask if we are having more children or make comments like ‘so and so has three kids… she must be CRAZY!'” Anna believes people assume she’s finished having children because she already has two, or that if she wanted to have more, getting pregnant wouldn’t be an issue. There are people out there that have trouble getting pregnant. Fortunately, there are a number of fertility pills for women that can increase the chances of getting pregnant faster.

                    Most people aren’t eager to talk about their pregnancy efforts.  After suffering a miscarriage, followed by months of not being able to conceive, Casey finally had her first child a year ago. “We got pregnant so easily the first time that ‘struggling to get pregnant,’ wasn’t a consideration. After I had the miscarriage, I thought I would get pregnant quickly like I did the first time. When it didn’t happen, it was stressful and disappointing. I’ve always been a perfectionist and a workaholic, and discovered quickly that this wasn’t a ‘problem’ I could control or micromanage. That was the hardest pill to swallow. Given how much pressure I was putting on myself and on my marriage, it wasn’t something I was readily willing to talk about with other people. However, when a close friend did ask about it, I did see those chats as more of an escape than dwelling on something I couldn’t fix.”

                    Know your audience. Elizabeth is currently pregnant with her first child, who was conceived with fertility treatment. She has many friends and colleagues who also experienced infertility and underwent treatment, some unsuccessfully. “Just like our chronically single friends don’t always want to hear about how in love we are, or all the details of the amazing wedding we are planning, our friends who are experiencing infertility may not want to hear about our pregnancy or baby all the time. Hearing about a friend’s baby can be a painful reminder of a life they want but can’t achieve. Now that I’m finally pregnant, I let my friends who are experiencing infertility bring up my pregnancy to me, but I don’t bring it up to them.”

                    If you’re close friends, then it’s always ok to ask.  With regard to specifically asking about childbearing efforts, 100% of the women I spoke with agreed: if you are close enough to the person to know they are trying to have a baby, then you are also close enough to either ask them how they are doing or let them know you are thinking about them. On the same token, all of these women agreed they wouldn’t be offended if a close friend didn’t ask. “I know it’s an awkward subject that most people don’t want to broach, mainly out of fear of a potentially bad reaction from the person they’re asking,” said Amanda, who has been trying to get pregnant for two years.

                    They also provided valuable information on things people should definitely not say to a person going through infertility:

                    Be patient and it will happen. “I knew I would eventually get pregnant, but living in the moment, you feel like it won’t,” said Kate (who now has a two year old daughter). “I hated when people told me to be patient.”

                    Just have a lot of sex. “This is probably the most infuriating thing to hear,” said Lauren, who has been trying to get pregnant for almost a year, who added, “it’s not that easy.”

                    You’re probably not getting pregnant because you took birth control for so long. “Well thank you for that outstanding observation… please let me jump in my time machine and rewind the clock,” added Lauren.

                    How old are you? Oh yeah, you’re getting up there! “Thank you Captain Obvious,” said Lauren.

                    I had such an easy time getting pregnant, I didn’t even have to try. “People who make comments like these look like socially inept jerks,” said Ashley, who has been trying to get pregnant for four years and three failed attempts at IVF.

                    I wish I could experience “trying” to get pregnant. See the comment to the statement above.

                    Would you consider adopting? “People who are trying to get pregnant want to have a biological child. If and when adoption becomes their path, they will let you know,” said Elizabeth.

                    If you’re at a loss for the right approach, sometimes the easiest way to show someone you care is by sending a text or an email that says, “Just wanted to let you know I’m thinking about you and am here if you want to talk or need anything.” This lets the person know you care without the potential difficulty of a face to face reaction.

                    Special thanks to all the women who candidly shared their stories with me.


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