How Real Love Stories Go: The “Listen To Your Mother” Video

You know that somewhat jarring feeling when you see a radio DJ for the first time, and he or she looks nothing like what you thought? Well, for those of you who only know me from my words on a screen, get ready to say, “Huh. That’s not how I imagined her at all.”

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I am incredibly excited to share the video from my Listen To Your Mother St. Louis performance that happened this past Mother’s Day weekend. My piece is called “How Real Love Stories Go,” about how a minivan turns out to be the perfect setting for a real life love story.

The highest compliment I could have ever gotten about this piece came from my very talented fellow St. Louis cast member, LaQuetta Ruston, who said:

“Your amazing story completely changed how I think of my kids & slowing down in life to enjoy them!”

Continue reading “How Real Love Stories Go: The “Listen To Your Mother” Video”

Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?”

“They just don’t know how good they really have it.”

That was the consensus among my friends at the pool the other day, as we waded in the shallow end, keeping an eye on our swimming children while chatting. The conversation was one that happens between parents who have hit the wall when it comes to surviving June, July, and August…and whose children may or may not have just made the comment that swimming at the neighborhood pool was boring because it doesn’t have a slide.

We have come to that point in the summer when things start to wear. The novelty of being out of school is over. We’ve already taken our vacation. A moratorium was called on scheduling camps and activities every week when both the family minivan and wallet each made motions that they also get a summer respite. And with me working from home more hours than before, well, things have been a little slow for the children around our house.

When things are slow, my kids seem to fill their free time with finding things to complain about. Like pools with no slides. Really?

Articles about giving your kids a “70’s Summer” are everywhere, encouraging parents to promote more laid back days filled with unstructured play, television, friends, and apparently, Tang.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that sounds fabulous. I mean, that’s pretty much the way I spent all of my childhood summers (except for the Tang. I lived on Hi-C Ecto Cooler, because I was an 80’s kid). And it has pretty much been my general modus operandi as a parent as well (even before it was trendy). But let’s face it, trying to convince my children of how cushy their lives are by starting a sentence with, “When I was a kid…” is futile. Because things were awesome when I was a kid…and still quite cushy.

No, I needed to really drive home the “first-world-problem-ness” of their first world problems if I was going to make it to the start of a new school year with any shred of sanity. Something that would shut down their whining about Disney Channel never running new episodes of their shows, or that I don’t run to the store to immediately restock the bag of chips they just finished a day after I bought them.
Continue reading “Our Summer Mantra: “Is It Worse Than Cholera?””

3 Ways to Show American Spirit Without Pinterest

I don’t know about you, but after the triple threat of Mother’s Day, End of School Year Teacher Gifts, and Father’s Day, I don’t have enough left in my Pinterest Love Tank when 4th of July rolls around. By now, I’m completely invested in my laissez-faire summer mode, so promises of “20 Simple 4th of July Party Ideas” do little to pique my interest. (It could also be that the accompanying images of perfectly sprinkled cake ball sparkler pops and INDIVIDUALLY wrapped and decorated Twizzlers make me doubt the “simplicity.”)

Being patriotic is about more than the perfect red, white, and blue themed party spread. Yes, the ingenuity displayed in pin after pin of creative desserts and decorations is certainly a trademark of the American spirit. But so are Netflix binges and maximizing your pool time. That’s the kind of patriotism I’m all about at this point in the summer. So if you’re on a Pinterest hiatus as well, here are 3 ways you can show your American spirit this 4th of July:

#1 Rank the U.S. Presidents on Hotness Level.  tweet-button(1)blog

The 4th of July is a time to put aside politics and celebrate simply being an American. And what better way to do this than to reduce our commanders-in-chief to their swoon-worthiness? Continue reading “3 Ways to Show American Spirit Without Pinterest”

Fluid: The Mirage of Beginnings and Endings

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

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Fluid

Despite what their names suggest, beginnings and endings are fluid. Nothing ever really begins…or ends.

Today has been a bit of a landmine of emotion. My grandma turns 87, just two days after being put on hospice. The symbols of her beginning and end being so close to one another is not lost on me.

Similarly this afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to take the kids back to our first home, almost 12 years to the day we moved in, and 8 years to the day we moved out. Again, the timing was not lost on me. It was the place where my daughter Grace spent the first two years of her life, and a house my son Michael never knew. Much of it was exactly as we had left it, down to the paint on the walls. It made me homesick, wanting to go back to those moments in my life that had passed. How easily I could put myself right back there…remembering how the boxwoods smelled as we worked in the yard…reading the Sunday paper while having breakfast in the tiny dining room…putting groceries away in the cramped, galley kitchen…seeing a toddler-sized, fluffy-haired Grace sitting on the floor of the living room watching Sesame Street with toys strewn around her…PhotoGrid_1433110505309

Then I turned around and saw the reality of now: this beautiful young woman with feet bigger than mine, who had no real memories at all of the house, despite the fact that I could picture her in every single corner of it. And next to her was this 6-year-old boy with kangaroo legs, sliding around on hardwood floors his chubby little baby knees never crawled on. We moved out of that house so we would have more room to bring Michael into our lives. How odd to be standing in this place with him where he never existed, if only in our dreams for the future.

It almost took my breath away how quickly life had changed in a matter of 8 years…how, standing within those walls of our first home, it felt like the beginnings of our marriage and parenthood seemed like yesterday. Yet a second later, it felt like a lifetime ago as I gazed upon my kids, who didn’t fit in this house at all: one because she was just too grown up to match the memory, the other because he was simply in existence. All the longing to be back in those days for even a moment vanished, for I realized my story couldn’t have gone the way it was supposed to if we hadn’t left that house. And leaving wasn’t really an end, but a beginning of something new, something better. Moreover, I discovered how easily I could make what was over seem like it wasn’t.

I hope that is what is happening for my grandma right now. It is as if her dementia has her in a state a bit like the one I was in as I walked through the rooms of my old house. She is living in moments of her life that are over, moments where sometimes her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren don’t even exist. Then every now and again, she is jarred into the present. Despite her failing condition, I would like to think she has points of clarity when she knows we are all here, that the way her life played out was good. Very good. And just as my husband and I will one day have to leave the house we live in now, the one that will always be known as the place where we raised our family, my grandma is facing another move…her final move.

I believe within the deepest chambers of my heart she will be moving on to a place where she doesn’t ever have to nostalgically wish to live in a moment that has passed, or feel as if life is being lived too quickly. She can be cognizant of every person she has loved. She can walk the rooms of any house she ever adored, sit in the desks of any school she ever attended, eat at any restaurant she ever held special, and sit on any Irish hill she ever dreamed of…all at the same moment. She won’t have to experience life in one-second increments. She can be in all the moments, all the time. Her end here with us will be the beginning of hopefully everything for her.

In a word, it will be fluid.

I'm pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there...
I’m pretty sure Grandpa is waiting up in Heaven to do some more of this when she gets there…

•••

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When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social

Truth time: I have been avoiding you all.

I normally sit down on Monday mornings, tap-tap-tapping away at my keys, crafting a new blog post as my cup of tea and bowl of oatmeal turn into a lemon-lime sparkling water and whatever ready-to-eat food can pass for lunch. (In other words, I eat a lot of string cheese and things that come in bags that make loud crinkling noises.) Then I schedule social media posts, browse newsfeeds, interact with blogging groups, read about ways to increase reach and website hits, and try to figure out what in my life is interesting enough to be worthy of sharing.

But considering my life has felt mostly like I’m scheduling social media posts, browsing newsfeeds, interacting with blogging groups, and reading about ways to increase reach and website hits, I come up empty-handed on that last one. So when I sat down on these last two Monday mornings, I actually felt more inspired to put away a load of laundry than do anything else. And that’s just effed up.

Back when I was struggling to breastfeed my first child, I remember thinking that the act of feeding my baby shouldn’t be something I wanted to avoid. But it was. The fact that she seemed to want to eat every two hours made me feel like just when I thought I could breathe, I had already fallen behind. And I usually had very little to offer. But I continued to give, at the expense of the things she REALLY needed, like a happy mother.

Similarly, social media doesn’t feel so social anymore. Continue reading “When Social Media Doesn’t Feel So Social”

Let the Games Begin + Giveaway Winner

Happiest of Mother’s Days to all my mama friends out there! As my buddy Kandace posted:

“It took me a while. But, I think I am all prepared for Mother’s Day…. The garbage and recycle are full, the dishwasher has been run and is ready to be emptied, the dog’s water is low, the bird feeder needs to be filled, the toilet paper and paper towel rolls need to be changed, there is a dry load of clothes in the dryer and a freshly washed load in the washer! Let the games begin!!!”

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A-MEN!!!

OH, and congratulaions to Lisa Craven for winning the Jewelry Made by Maggie​ Giveaway! As a consolation prize to everyone else, Maggie is offering 20% off at her Etsy store until June 1st! Just use the code kelly20.

Now go out and enjoy your day and love your mamas!

•••

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The Mother’s Day Hierarchy

Mother’s Day. I recall being a kid and feeling a little jealous that moms got their very own holiday (because kids are too dumb to realize the national children’s holiday is just called “Life.”) I wanted to be a part of that club who got to go through the dinner line first and unwrap gifts on a day that wasn’t Christmas or my birthday. I just knew that once I became a mom, I would have it made in the shade every time the second Sunday of May rolled around.

Little did I know.

The advent of your first bumbling baby may give you the right to be celebrated on Mother’s Day. But what most new moms don’t realize is that there is a certain seniority at play. You aren’t immediately granted a free pass to a day of complete leisure and pampering. That has to be earned through the ranks of what I like to call “The Hierarchy of Mother’s Day.”icecream

Level 1: The New Mom

You will probably get some nice jewelry from your husband, but just don’t even think about putting “sleeping in” on your wish list, especially if you’re nursing. Babies can’t read the universal memo, RE: Mom is Off the Clock Today. And they usually pick Mother’s Day as one of those “special” times when the touch, voice, glance, or even presence of anyone but Mom induces whines, tantrums, and neck clawing. So I hope you like that birthstone necklace. It’s all you’re getting this year.

Level 2: The Mom of Little People

Pinterest was invented for you. Keepsake plates decorated with your children’s adorable artwork. Footprints immortalized in garden stones. Ornaments of your children’s silhouettes. Jewelry charms made from precious fingerprints. Except YOU won’t be the one getting these gifts, because, duh…dads don’t do Pinterest. GRANDMA is going to be the lucky recipient of all these thoughtful and sentimental goodies. YOU will be the one busting your ass to get them all made while your kids try to shove quick-dry cement up their noses and stick their tongues out every time you try to snap a photo of their profiles. Then you get to dress the kids in their Sunday best (because again, duh, dads don’t do fashion) and herd them all to church before heading over to the big extended family celebration with your pot luck side dish (because, you guessed it, dads and Pinterest).  But don’t worry. You are still going to have hella appreciation heaped upon you. Get ready for some pancakes with “secret” ingredients, construction paper cards with indecipherable writing, and glitter. Damn it.

Level 3: The Mom of Teens

During Level 2, you would have given your Target Redcard for everyone to leave the house for the day so you could have some uninterrupted peace and quiet. Now in Level 3, that’s all you get…because everyone is apparently hanging out at Taylor’s house breaking in her new pool table. Well, there was that text you got that says “HMD *heart emoticon, kissy face emoticon, taco emoticon.*

Level 4: The Mom of Adult Children

Mother’s Day is becoming a sweeter affair by now. Your kids make money of their own and can finally start giving you something that doesn’t have a handprint on it. You may even get to be doubly celebrated as a mom AND and grandma, so there are bonus presents. But since your kids are likely busy being parents of tiny tots, working long hours, or just being self-absorbed d-bags (because there’s always one), everyone still looks to you for “the plan.” And it’s just as well, since your own 83-year-old mother broke her hip when she tripped over a Lego castle the last time she was at your daughter’s house, and she might catch any number of communicable diseases if the celebration is held at your son’s bachelor pad.

Level 5: The Eldest Matriarch

You’ve made it to the only level of The Mother’s Day Hierarchy where you don’t have to lift one.damn.finger. Everyone owes YOU. The party’s not at your house. You don’t have to cook a freakin’ thing. You’re first in line to eat. Good news: you are the Queen Supreme of all the Mothers. Bad news: that means your mom is dead.

Son of b. Looks like Mother’s Day kind of sucks for everyone.

Do you like your Mother’s Day with just a hint of truthful snark? Then you are going to LOVE these new cards designed by myself and three other über talented ladies: Emily of The Waiting, Meredith of Pile of Babies, and Ashley, writer at Mommyish. Emily had this great idea to put our heads together to create a Mother’s Day collection of cards that speak to the “real” and often hilarious side of motherhood. You know, non-Hallmark approved. We even made it so you can purchase and download any of these cards at our Etsy store to give to all the mamas in your life. Even better, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to an organization called Every Mother Counts, an non-profit that works to provide safe pregnancies and childbirth for women all over the world who don’t have access to the care and resources they need. So not only do you get to have a laugh at these cards, but your purchase also helps to ensure other mothers get the chance to find the humor in motherhood.

Here’s a sneak peak at the three cards I contributed to the collection:

To see the rest of the collection, go check them out on Emily’s blog, The Waiting, or head over to the Etsy store and get your own copies!

Happy Mother’s Day to all who celebrate it!

•••

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I Won, Now It’s Your Turn: Mother’s Day Giveaway

This post is all about winning. Winning for you, and winning for me…well, technically not me. For one of the dresses you so kindly helped me choose to wear to next week’s Listen to Your Mother performance. But first, let’s talk about the winning for YOU, because the dress is pretty good at being patient and can wait.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. And just like good mamas take care of their young, what better excuse is there for me to take care of my readers? I have teamed up with my friend Maggie, owner of Jewelry Made by Maggie, who designs and creates some of my favorite pieces in my jewelry box. You want understated, timeless pieces you can wear everyday? She’s got those. Want colorful, trendy statement pieces for a night on the town? She has those, too. I haven’t seen one thing in Maggie’s Etsy store that I don’t love, and my husband is thankful to have a default go-to when gift-giving occasions roll around. You know, gift-giving occasions like Mother’s Day.

Because she is totally awesome, Maggie agreed to help me treat one of my mama readers…or even a reader who just has a mama. Everyone who enters our giveaway gets a chance to win EITHER a Layered Bar Necklace (in silver or gold – valued at $34) OR a Leather Wrap Bracelet with Gold Beads (valued at $30) from Maggie’s Etsy store. Your choice!

jewelry made by maggie
Continue reading “I Won, Now It’s Your Turn: Mother’s Day Giveaway”

Please Be My Fashion Police

This is going to be short and sweet. The Listen To Your Mother St. Louis Show is just 10 days away, and this girl needs to figure out what she will be wearing on stage.

I already have my amazing (and FREE) shoes, compliments of Bronx Diba Shoe Outlet, and I found some equally pop-tastic coral-red jewelry to match (not compliments of Charming Charleys, but cheap enough to be close to free). But I need some help choosing which dress to wear. Here are my four options: Continue reading “Please Be My Fashion Police”