Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blah, blah, blah

6 weeks.

That is how long it has been since my last post. 6 freaking weeks.

It isn't that I didn't have things to write about, or stories to share, it is that I am at an odd place in my life when it comes to the blog.

Let me explain.

Lately my time has been spent mostly on picking out things for the new house. Oh, yeah! Remember that new house we are building? That we were supposed to move into in August...then October...then in two weeks? Well it has about two more months of work left to be done on it.

I have so many stories to share about this process - SO MANY - but I am scared to write about any of it on the blog because, universe forbid, someone that works on my house reads it, and then it gets back to my contractor and then he delays us even further. This is the way I think now.

Once we are moved in I will be ready to share like I have never shared before. I will share photos and mood boards and unbelievable stories like our tile being installed in our master shower by a small Vietnamese man with a lit cigarette hanging from his mouth who told me he hates the tile I picked out, who I then told "well then it's good that you never have to see this damn shower again once you are finished!"(And yes I told our contractor to tell that tiny man never to smoke in my house again!)

I am also hesitant to share things that happen in my life because I have been told that I occasionally "over share" and I should "be careful" what I put out on the internet. Too late for that I guess! But after hearing this from a couple of people I am hesitant to post things like M looking at my naked body and asking "what happened" to me to make me look this way (this I found hysterical BTW).

Hubs is kicking ass and taking names at work. Every time I go to write something lately I think, "what if one of Hubs' co-workers read this?" and then I decide not to share about the week where one of our daughters decided to pee in the tub every night, or the time a diaper-less post-bath Val decided to poop on the rug (see what I am doing here? )

My life has become all about what counter stools to buy and what wallpaper to put in the dining room - these are the things that keep me up at night. Life is good. I have no complaints (those will be shared after our house is done). Who wants to read about spending hours picking out cabinet hardware? You better, because in two months I am an open book...

Until then. Live long, and prosper.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Acting a Fool!

I was just in the bedroom playing with Val on the floor. She stood up and walked over to my side, put her hand on my shoulder and said "it's ok Mommy," and then leaned in and gave me a huge hug and a  kiss...and then another kiss and an even bigger hug. My heart melted. This is one of the many "bits" she does that gets me to smile ear to ear and be thankful that I have such an amazing child.

She made up a knock knock joke that she loves to tell everyone she meets:

Val: Knock, knock, who dare?
Me: Who's there?
Val: Donut
Me: Donut, who?
Val: Donut Chicken!!!

It kills every time.
You can't see it but her shirt says
T is for Trouble.

She is loving, she is funny, she is fearless and just perfect...90% of the time.

With M, who will be 5 in December, we were lucky to never experience the terrible twos. She was honestly a little angel. Sure there was some 'tude here and there, but never a big fit. Those actually didn't come until the mid-4s (so fairly recently). With Val, it is a whole different ballgame. This kid is already giving me a run for my money and she just turned two in August.

We recently began experiencing major fits in public places. Last weekend we were at a museum and she actually laid down in the middle of a crowded area and screamed bloody murder while flailing her legs and arms around. My husband and I, who are new to this type of behavior, couldn't help but laugh and look at each other like, "should we pick her up? Should we let her work it out? Did a demon possess our child in the play kitchen area?" Ultimately I grabbed her by the waist, trying to avoid getting punched or kicked and removed her to a different location and calmed her down.

This morning she was totally content running errands with me, until we got to the fabric store. I don't know what set her off but as soon as we entered the fabric store she started in with "No! I want Daddy! I want to go see Daddy at work!" She refused to move from the entrance area, so I once again had to pick her up by the waist and carry her screaming with me through the store - this time though she was giving me what I call the "stiff body" and tensing her whole body. I ended up just planting her down a few feet away from me while she kept screaming "I can't! No! I can't!" and tried to listen to the overly sweet woman explain to me how I figure out which fabrics can be used as napkins for M's school. I still do not know which fabrics are suitable as five minutes into the store I had to once again pick up 'Ole Stiff Body McGee and carry her out of the store, where she immediately calmed down.

At home we are dealing with things like hitting her sister, or hitting the pooch. Val likes to steal whatever M is playing with, then play nice and offer the toy to M and say "here you go M!" only to run away with said toy in her hand at the last minute, while cackling her little evil laugh. I'm not going to lie, this I think is hysterical.

Val is also a runner. By runner I mean that she likes to bolt whenever you put her down. She will run away from me at grocery stores (I actually have to use the safety straps on the cart), when we are walking the dog (I now put her in the Ergo on my back to stop this) and her latest favorite place to run away from me is the parking garage in our building. She about gave me a heart attack last night when we returned home and I got her out of the seat, went to lock the car (she usually stands there and helps me lock the car) and out of the corner of my eye I see her running away from the car. I scream her name but of course this just makes her laugh and run faster. This kid!!!

It used to be that being tired or hungry set her off, but now it seems to be anything and everything can flip her switch and make her "act a fool," as I like to say. This behavior even further solidifies our decision to only have two kids. Serenity now!!!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Rules of the Road

The apartment we are currently living in while our house is being built is approximately 30 minutes (give or take 5 minutes depending on traffic and school buses) away from M's school. This means that I spend at least 2 hours a day in the car. Most days I am in the car for at least 3 hours, as I have to run errands, take Val to class or doctor's appointments, in addition to driving to and from M's school. I have gone from filling up my gas tank every 10 days to every 5. My back has been aching more than usual as I am sitting behind the wheel much more than I used to. Needless to say, I am not happy about this situation, but I have to deal as our house (which will be a four minute drive to school) is taking a lot longer to be finished than we had hoped. point is that I am driving a lot. 

Lately I have been thinking about driving etiquette and actual rules of the road and have come to the conclusion that 99% of the people on the road need to go back and take their driving test again because they drive like A-Holes (caps intended). I decided I should take it upon myself to refresh you all with proper driving behavior (in my opinion, and in some cases, the state of Massachusetts opinion too). Here goes: 

1. The wave. The wave goes a long way in my book. It can stifle a potential hurricane of anger inside me. It is a show of thanks, of compassion and in some cases regret. The wave I am referring to is the wave that is exchanged between drivers. A simple raising of the hand. When should said wave be used? All the time. You can't wave enough when you are driving. Someone let's you out in front of them? Give them a wave. You cut someone off, and truly didn't mean it? Give them a wave. Hell, if you cut someone off and did mean it, but don't really want to get them riled up - give them a wave. If everyone would just wave to each other while driving, the world would be a happier place. I had someone turn in front of me that required me to pretty much slam on the breaks today - the anger started to bubble, but out the window came his hand and just a couple back and forths my anger's cool, he didn't mean it (even if he did, I appreciate the wave buddy.)

2. The left lane. People let's finally get this straight. The left lane is for passing only. That is highway rules 101. You do not just choose a lane and drive whatever speed you want to in that lane. The left lane of the highway is for people driving faster than the people in the middle lane. The right lane is for the grannies with walkers, or those about to exit the highway. You get into the left lane only if you are driving faster than the people in the middle and right lanes. If someone comes up behind you in the left lane, and they are driving faster than you (which in most cases is me), you pull over into the middle lane and let that person pass you. You do not drive 60 MPH in the left lane and force people to pass you on the right. That is just madness.  

3. Emergency vehicles. How do people not know that when a police car, firetruck or ambulance is coming up behind you you pull the eff over? You do whatever you have to do to get out of the freaking way. If you are on a two lane road and you see one of these vehicles coming in the opposite direction you also pull over and stop. Get out of their Don't just sit there at the light twiddling your thumbs (I'm talking to you, cars on route 9 last week who just sat there while the ambulance was honking it's horns and flashing it's lights) - get out of the way. 

4. Use your turn signals. I heard a funny thing on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago. Jimmy Fallon had people tweet their favorite lines of advice they have received from their fathers and he shared his favorites on the show. One girl said "my dad told me never to use my turn signals as it was nobody's business where I was going." People that don't use turn signals drive me insane. Are you too lazy to move your finger? Do you think you own the road? Do you just like keeping people on their toes? Don't be an ass...use your signals. 

5. If there is no sign telling you "No Turn on Red" you can make a right on a red light. I promise this is ok. 

6. And the one that I deal with multiple times a day...If you are in dead stop traffic, and I am trying to make a left across the street on which you are "parked" temporarily, do not stop directly in front of my car so that I cannot make my left. I know you see me there. I know you are just being a total dick and making me suffer along with you by making me wait to make my left. You could have just not moved and let me in front of you to make my turn, but no, you purposefully moved up and blocked me. Oh look, that nice person behind you actually backed up so that I could get out in front of her. She gets a wave, you would get a finger you d-bag, but I have kids in the car, so you get a mental finger from me. 

So to sum it up, if you see black Highlander come up behind you while driving in the left lane, put on your turn signal, pull over to the middle lane and I will happily give you a wave.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

These are a few of our favorite books!

Back in the day when I could actually call myself a blogger (meaning when I used to post multiple times a week, not months like now) I was good about sharing lists of our girls' favorite books. As I was just reading the same book to M that we have been reading to her every night since I purchased it two weeks ago (The Snatchabook), I realized that I am long overdue in sharing the wonderful titles that we have been reading to the girls here goes!!

M's faves (age 4 years and 9 months):

The Snatchabook by Helen Docherty - I love a book with sweet little animal characters and a wonderful rhyming story. This one will tug on your heartstrings if you are a parent who loves to read to your kids at night.

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and David Roberts - I was immediately drawn to this book due to the brilliant illustrations. M loves all things fashion (as does her Mama) so I didn't even read this before I brought it home for her because I knew as soon as I looked at the inside cover she would love it...and it did not disappoint!

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers - It is pretty rare to come across a book that is just as enjoyable for the parent as it is as a kid, but The Day the Crayons Quit is that book and more. It is funny, it is smart, it is silly and it is a joy to read over and over and over and over....get it, now!

I Had a Favorite Dress  by Boni Ashburn and Julia Denos - Another fashion book that I was drawn to immediately due to the illustrations and which ended up having an adorable story along with it. It won't teach your children any life lessons, or make your feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it is cute, and M loves it.

Crafty Chloe and Crafty Chloe: Dress-Up Mess-Up by Kelly DiPucchio and Heather Ross - These are books after my own heart. You had me at "crafty" in the title! Both of these stories about the creative Chloe are sweet and unique. They are great for the girl or boy that might not be the best at traditional things, but who is a thriving artist at heart.

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen and Dan Hanna - The latest in the Pout-Pout Fish series (one of our all time favorites) tells the story of our protagonist's first day at school. Just like all of Diesen's books this one teaches your child a valuable lesson: just because you don't know something doesn't mean you can't learn it, and school is the perfect place for that.

Val's fave at age 2:

Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems - Obsessed is an understatement. I have read these two books to Val every night for the past 6 months, and I can honestly say I don't mind reading them over and over! Her favorite thing to do is to spot the hidden pigeons (ok, they aren't that hidden, she just loves to say "I found da pigeon!") throughout the books and to do the "Kuh-nuffle/Nuffle!" scene along with me. These are just perfect for any 2 year old with a short attention span as they aren't too long, the drawings are great and the story is adorable.

A Sister More Like Me by Barbara Jean Hicks and Brittney Lee - My girls are not as into Frozen as most girls their age. They like it, and have the dolls, but we have only watched the movie a handful of times. Now, the music, we know that backwards, forewords, inside and out and have made our own music videos. Val is much more into the characters than M, so she loves reading this incredibly beautifully illustrated book that delves deeper into the childhood of Anna and Elsa. It is really neat to learn some back story about the characters and get a peek into what it was like growing up for them in Arendelle

Sesame Street Night, Night Elmo by Sesame Street - It's Elmo. It has flaps to lift. Mama does her best Elmo voice when she reads it (which isn't half bad if I do say so myself).

Tons of Trucks by Sue Fleiss and Betsy Snyder - For all the books about Princesses and fashion that I buy the girls I like to round out their library with "boy themed" books as well. This lift the flap book about trucks is one of Val's all-time favorites.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Apartment Living Week One

Just over one week ago we closed on the house we had been living in for the last four years. When we first bought that house we thought we would be living there pretty much for the rest of our lives. Then the house started to need unexpected repairs and we were sinking a ton of money into it. And then our neighbors started to annoy us, especially the ones that would have expletive laced fights on their front porch and the others that yelled at us for parking in front of our own house (which was across from their driveway - ridiculous).

Last year an opportunity to build our dream house landed in our lap so we took it - but said house is not scheduled to be finished until October. Thinking it would take a couple months to sell our house, we put it on the market in late May. To our great surprise we had two offers within 24 hours of listing the house, which is why today I write to you from the corner of a dark living room in a little apartment, which will serve as our home until the house is finished. 

Ok, that is kind of an exaggeration. The apartment is nice. It is much nicer than all the rodent infested 200 year old buildings I have lived in before in the city! The girls each have their own bedrooms, which is a blessing, and there is a decent amount of living space. This whole situation works though because I would say 80% of our personal items are now in storage. We only brought with us minimal furniture and about two boxes each full of clothes, and you know what? That is all we really need! It is amazing how much junk you accumulate over the years that you think you need, but now that it is out of sight it is totally out of mind. 

I could get used to living in close quarters with my family. I bought one of those old lady metal shopping carts (like I used to have in the city) so that I don't have to make multiple trips up the elevator from the garage after shopping. If anything breaks I can just call someone to come fix it. There is a little playground on the property for the kids, and they even have a swimming pool! It's like we are living in a hotel, without the housekeeping and room service. It is not too shabby!

The things I am not loving about apartment living are the following: 

- Having to take my dog out throughout the day. I got used to having a backyard at the house and being able to let her out to pee when she needed too. Now I have to leash her up, and actually take her for a walk. 

- Hearing my upstairs neighbors have sex. Yes, this happens. 

- Hearing the doors in adjacent apartments open and close. 

- Having to lug my trash to the trash room which is about 1/4 mile away from our unit (at least it feels that far)

- Trying to keep the dog and the kids quiet so that we don't get kicked out because we don't have anywhere else to go right now!

Other than that, life is great here in Hotel Mama J. Oh except for the fact that my contractor hasn't called me back in a week and we are so far off our schedule that we might be living in this apartment longer than expected!! That drama I will save for another post...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

...Wash me in the water

"If you are comfortable in your life, then you really aren't living..." - ME (I will explain below!)

I am honored to say I among a privileged group of ladies that has had the opportunity to get in front of the uber talented Michelle Gardella's camera as part of her River Story project. Here is a sneak peek at the amazing results:, Michelle Gardella Photographer
I know, right? Amazing!!

So about the day...

I traveled down to Conncecticut and had my make-up done by super talented Julie Rondini of Simply Gorgeous by Erin Make-Up, then drove about an hour into the country and met Michelle at our rendezvous point by the Salmon River. When I pulled into the parking area where we were to meet I was incredibly nervous. Like stomach churning before a dance performance nervous. I was about to get into an evening gown in the woods and travel into a flowing river in the middle of nowhere with a stranger. Who does this? 

But as soon as Michelle and I started talking, I started to immediately relax. She has this presence about her - a calming force - that makes you feel like you have known her for 20 years as soon as you meet her. 

The florist who did my floral crown, Jakki of Jakkelyn Iris Flowers, met us, fitted my crown and then off we drove to what Michelle calls a place where the "whispers of our ancient Grandmothers are undeniable." Awesome. 

The weather was a perfect 74 degrees. The sun was setting and casting a glow like I had never seen. The river water was warm and inviting...and in I went. 

As soon as I entered the water a hawk flew over Michelle and I...then another large bird...then a fish jumped out of the water...then a dragonfly almost landed on my head. I was like Mother Nature calling all my children to me. It was incredible. 

Here we were in this magical setting, just the two of us exploring the natural ebbs and flows of the river and sharing an hour together that I will never forget. We talked about our kids, our families, our daily lives. We laughed about what our bodies have become after having children. We talked about our struggles and stresses. We shared time that I will never forget. 

I told Michelle I was up for doing absolutely anything she wanted me to do in the river, so she had me do some underwater shots. Just looking at this photo makes me want to drive back to the river and dive in!
Michelle Gardella Photographer,

I truly believe that if you are comfortable in your life, you aren't really living...let me explain. 

The idea of this photo shoot gave me butterflies. At first they were exciting butterflies, but the closer I got to the date, it was more like sick to my stomach butterflies. I was nervous about the whole situation - being in a remote location by myself, being gone the whole day from my kids, getting hurt while in the river, having the photos not turn out, etc. - for days before the actual shoot. But look at the results (and these are the only two photos I have seen so far)! And every time I think about the experience it makes me incredibly happy - that I did something for myself, that I did something I have never done before, that I met someone I will never forget, that she made me feel like I was truly a beautiful person and not just a stay at home mom who wears yoga pants every day. 

It's the same with other things in my life, whether it be going out to dinner with people I have never met before, or attending an event with my husband, starting a new class with one of my kids, showing my jewelry at a show, talking in front of other parents at my kid's school. All of these things make me nervous for days in advance, but after the fact, they all bring me joy and make me realize that all that worrying was for nothing. 

I could just go about my daily life, not sign up for anything at my kid's school, not attend events with my husband, not put my talents out there to be judged, stay home on the couch instead of going out and doing new things, but what kind of life would that be? No life at all. 

I challenge you to find your own version of a River Story photo shoot! Find something you have been wanting to do, and instead of putting it off because it would make you uncomfortable, just do it! Sign up for that half marathon! Take that cooking class! Go on that girl's weekend trip! Go out to dinner with those parents you like from your kids school - you could be making a friend for a lifetime! 

Or, schedule your own River Story photo shoot with Michelle Gardella. It is an experience of a life time - until I meet her again next summer in the river with my mother and daughters!! 

Take me to the river...wash me in the water!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Take me to the river...

My husband and I do not live a lavish lifestyle. We go out on dates to nice dinners once every other month, if we are lucky. We do not drive fancy cars. We do not buy expensive things for ourselves (besides our new house, but that doesn't count at the moment). My husband does not buy me jewelry (because I am the type of woman that would rather him save the money and just buy me Apple TV). Sure I buy myself the sale rack, with a coupon. I buy most of my shoes at DSW (with a coupon I got in the mail of course). I do not carry a Louis Vuitton purse, I carry a diaper bag or my beat up wristlet jam-packed with old receipts and 10 year old lip gloss.

The last vacation my husband and I went on, that was more than 3 days/2 nights without kids was in 2007. Seven years ago, people.

The point I am getting at is that we do not spoil ourselves. (Our kids? Well, that is another story entirely...)

I decided a few months ago that I wanted to do something for myself. I wanted to get in front of the camera - and not just anyone's camera. I stumbled upon this ridiculously talented young woman, Michelle Gardella, through a mutual friend on Instagram. She has an ongoing project where she takes photos of women in a river, while wearing floral crowns. I know what you are thinking - huh? I saw her work and was immediately moved by the haunting, magnificent photos of these goddess in the river. I tracked her down, and found out she would be in Connecticut for a bit and because of our mutual friend she squeezed me into her busy schedule.

Tomorrow she is taking me to the river...

I have my fancy dress. I am getting my make-up professionally done beforehand. I am meeting the florist at the location for a fitting of my floral crown...and then I step in the front of someone else's camera.

You might think it is odd for me, who takes Instagram selfies fairly frequently, to be nervous about getting in front of the camera. Well, this is the real deal people. This is not me in a wig with a puppet with my iPhone on a timer, shooting from the shoulders up. Michelle's work is in magazines, and she is doing me the honor of allowing me to be in front of her magical eye! And I am nervous as hell!

I feel like this experience will be somewhat of a cleansing experience. We will be in a remote location, as the sun is setting...just Michelle and I and nature. I have butterflies just thinking about it.

This year has been a rough year for me personally. During the first half of the year my father was battling cancer. It started as skin cancer, then spread through his lymph nodes, to his lungs and finally his brain. I put on a brave face and remained positive through this experience, because I knew eventually he would beat this monster. Did I really whole-heartedly believe it? I don't know that I can say that, but I told myself over and over that he was strong, and a fighter and we would all get through this.

Last month he had a brain and body scan that came back clear. And to this day I am still in shock when I say it out loud. (I will go into more detail about this situation in another post at a later date...)

I also lost my grandmother in May. I didn't realize how hard that would hit me. I still break down in tears when I think about her, or see something that reminds me of her, or hear one of her favorite tunes on the 40s channel on the radio.

My husband has been working like a fiend this year, which means I have been spending a lot of time alone with the girls, and just alone. I am not one of those women that can't be without their husbands, but I don't like being away from Hubs - because I really, really like him (which is a good thing for our marriage, huh?)

I have had sleepless nights over the building of our house (which right now is a total shit show - again, another post that needs to be written, I just haven't had the balls to tell the story on that situation).

I have had irritable bowels about the selling of our current house (which happened way too fast and now we are headed for temporary housing for a few months while we wait for new house to be built).

Oh, our dog has lyme disease, and has no control over her bladder...

All of these sad and stressful things I want to be washed away by the river water. Ok, so I don't truly believe that me getting all dolled-up and wet in a river and having my photo taken will make stress go away in my life, but I am excited to be doing something so amazing for myself. And just the fact that I have had this experience to look forward to has brought some joy to my life.

I am excited to meet Michelle down by the river (always makes me think of Chris Farley when I say that) tomorrow at sunset and make some magic with her.

Better go practice my "smize" in the mirror.

Kidding...kind of.

Monday, July 14, 2014

#MamaJSays everyone needs to watch Derek

I haven't written in a few weeks, mainly because I haven't had anything of value to share...until now.

I love all things Ricky Gervais. I've been a huge fan ever since I saw the original Office series when it first came out. I loved Extras. I read his Flanimals books to my kids. I've seen all his movies, his stand-up and listened to every single podcast of his at least 10 times (this includes all five podcast series, the Best of XM Radio and the Guide Tos). I consider listening to the podcasts over and over like watching reruns of Seinfeld - they never get old.

This all may sound funny coming from a 35 year old stay at home mom who lives in the suburbs, but it is true. I love all things Ricky Gervais (even when he hosted the Golden Globes - gasp!).

When I happened upon Ricky (if I may call you Ricky) on the Charlie Rose show talking about his new creation, Derek, I was immediately interested of course.

So, last year, Hubs and I sat down to watch the first episode of season one and were surprised when we realized it wasn't as funny as we thought it was going to be. Not to say it wasn't funny at all, but it was much more serious and sad that we had expected - not a bad thing, just unexpected. We never got around to watching the rest of the first season, until...

Fast forward to two days ago. After reading online that the second series of Derek had come out on Netflix, I figured I should finish watching the first, so I sat down at my computer after the kids went to bed and dove in. Two days, a box of tissues and a bottle of wine later I have finished both seasons of Ricky Gervais' masterpiece, Derek.

I am not even sure where to begin. Everything about this show is perfect. It is the perfect balance of humor and drama. It is beyond perfectly cast (my only gripe is that Karl Pilkington left in the beginning of season 2 - who knew that "round headed twat" could act so well!) It is beautifully shot, beautifully scored and should win every award possible (Ricky was nominated for a Lead Acting Emmy this year - how Kerry Godliman and David Earl were passed over is beyond me).

Kerry Godliman as Hannah
Ricky plays the title role of Derek, a special man with a heart of gold and abundant love of all earth's fuzzy creatures. He does not judge. He is never negative. He sees the good in every human being, and is able to bring it out for them to see as well. We should all take a page from Derek's illustrated book (on cats.)

Derek works in a nursing home called Broadhill, which is lead by over-worked and under-paid Hannah, brilliantly played by Kerry Godliman. She is the type of woman that your heart aches for, you want to have a drink with and you want to give all your money to because she has dedicated her life to the lives of the elderly people living in the home. She is a mother figure (although younger in age) to Derek, and loved by everyone she works with and takes care of. She is passionate and kind, but not afraid to hit someone over the head with a rolling pin (well deserved of course).

David Earl as Kev
If you thought Jim from the American version of the Office was the master of the "looking into the camera" face, wait until you meet Kev, an unemployed alcoholic pervert who spends his days and nights at the home with Derek, his best friend. At first you want to put a hand through the screen and slap Kev, but as the show goes on he wins you over and you all of the sudden want to hug him...and give him a shower.

The rest of the cast - Vicky, Tom, Dougie and all of the elderly residents - are just brilliant.

Maybe I am so touched by this show because just two months ago I lost my grandmother, who spent her last few years in a home much like this one. I picture her sitting in a room, much like the common room at Broadhill on the show, surrounded by other residents of the home, talking about her family and enjoying a cup of tea or serenading the residents on the piano. The episodes that featured family members coming to visit their eldery relatives touched my heart and brought me to tears because I only got to see my grandmother once in the last 5 years before she died (she was in Denver to my Boston - still not an excuse.) I wished we were closer so that I could have shared more quality time with her before she passed.

I know my grandmother would have absolutely loved this show too. She had that same dry British humor and loved all British television. I wish she was alive today to talk about the cast of characters - I know she would have loved Kev!

There are so many heartwarming moments in the series - the husband that visits his wife with alzheimer's every day, a young girl with a bad home life finding a love and support while working at Broadhill, Derek reuniting with his father he never wanted to see, Dougie cursing out a money grubbing daughter of a dead resident, Hannah and Tom trying for a baby, Derek learning to ride a bike and possibly my favorite, Kev building the sculpture of Oliver for Derek...tears! (Don't worry! I didn't spoil anything for you!)

We could all learn something from watching Derek. We should all be nicer to each other. We should all be honest and tell each other how we feel. We should forgive. We should send that letter we have been meaning to send, or make that call we have been meaning to make before it is too late.

So go! Go watch it on netflix, now! Be prepared to laugh out loud and cry at every episode. And let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hide and Seek

My children are hands down the worst hide and seek players...and I never want them to change.

We have been housebound a lot these last two weeks due to both my kids having the hand, food and mouth virus, which means we have been playing a lot of hide and seek.

Here is how hide and seek goes in our house:

Mommy covers her eyes and counts backwards from 10.

The giggles commence as the girls run around the house looking for a place to hide.

Val hides in the exact same spot (behind the princess dresses hanging on the wall in the playroom) and once she is settled in there she counts along with me.

"Free, twoooooooo, one!!! Here I am Mama!!"

Val has been found.

I pick Val up and we go "Find Marlo! Find Marlo!"

I know where Marlo is, because she hasn't stopped giggling since I started counting down from 10. I, of course, play dumb and start the, "is Marlo in the dining room?" bit, to which Marlo responds, "I'm not in there, I'm in the closet!"

I continue to question her whereabouts while Val points to the closet and screams, "Marlo in closet! Marlo in closet!" and I playfully ignore her.

Ultimately Marlo will pop out of the closet and say "I was in the closet Mama!"

Game over.

Then it is my turn to hide.

Marlo and Val both cover their eyes as I run and hide. This could be the cutest thing I have ever seen and heard because Val is only able to count back from 3, so she just says "free, twooo, one!" over and over while Marlo counts back from 10 (this drives Marlo crazy of course.)

I hide in a legitimate hiding spot...behind the curtains, in the closet behind coats, behind a piece of furniture, etc....and they can never find me. Let me correct myself - Marlo can never find me - Val always seems to spot me quickly.

For example, yesterday I hid behind the curtains in the dining room. Let me tell you this important fact - the curtains are sheer. Anyone who looked at the curtains could plainly see my large body hiding behind the curtains, except for my girls.

A minute or two goes by and they haven't found me. Marlo is starting to get annoyed that I am not answering her when she asks where I am, so I say, in a funny voice, "I'm over here."

They run right by me.

Say it again Mama!

The come in the room, look out the window that I am clearly standing next to behind the curtains, and still don't see me.

Then Val spots me, "'ere she is!!!! 'ere she is!!" (Val speaks with a cockney accent obviously.)

Marlo comes in the room, stands next to Val, who is now pointing at me behind the curtains and laughing hysterically and still doesn't see me...until I jump out and scare the living daylights out of her. Good times.

So if you are ever looking to win a few bucks off my kids, ask them to play hide and seek and bet on them losing...every time. I wish they would stay this young and cute forever.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sheriff Callie's Lying West (Why I loathe the Disney Junior show and why I think Doc McStuffins is the best show for kids)

Phew...that was quite a title.

I have to be honest - I have been crafting this post in my head for almost five months now, ever since the first episode of Sheriff Callie's Wild West aired on Disney Junior back in January. Previews for the show started airing last year during the holidays, and the first time my girls got a peek of the pink-ten-gallon-hat-wearing, talking female cat, they were hooked. I was looking forward to a new show in the mix, and knowing Mandy Moore was the voice of Callie (whom I absolutely adore in everything she is in) I had high hopes for the cartoon.

And then I watched the first episode...and I wanted to punch all of the characters in the throat.

Ok, that might be a little harsh, but I was annoyed from the very beginning - not only by the whiney characters, but by the terrible plot lines of each episode.

If you haven't seen the show, here is how Wikipedia describes it: In a western town called Nice and Friendly Corners, everyone is an anthropomorphic and cute animal. They all get along and are friendly to each other. However, there are times when the townsfolk get into problems or don't get along with each other. The series follows Sheriff Callie, a female Calico cat and the sheriff of Nice and Friendly Corners alongside her friends Deputy Peck, a male red Woodpecker and keeper of the town jail and Toby, a male Saguaro Cactus. Together they all solve problems and teach the townsfolk to get along with each other while working hard to make the town the friendliest in the west.

Yeah, you read that right, one of the main characters is a cactus. Before I even get into why I no longer let my kids watch this show, let me tell you about one of my main gripes about Sheriff Callie's show. I cannot stand a show where animals are made to seem human, but still have animals for pets. Why do all of the animal characters talk, but Callie and Peck still have pets that don't speak, and are actual animals (I speak of Callie's horse and Peck's donkey)? It will always be my main issue with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse...why can Goofy speak but Pluto, who is also a dog, can only bark and acts like an actual dog? I think they should have humans as that would be a show I would watch...maybe. 

Back to my point. 

The real reason I don't like my kids watching this show is because most of the episodes feature a storyline where one of the characters is lying about something, trying to trick someone into doing something or just being a terrible person (woodpecker, cactus...whatever). I kid you not, the majority of the episodes are about someone lying: the stork character making up a story for the newspaper, Farmer Stinky lying about having more peppers than he actually does, Toby the cactus lying about being sick, Peck lying about losing Callie's golden nugget, a salesman lying about the a shirt making people more powerful (yeah this one is a doozie)...every character at one point or another, besides the always-honest Sheriff Callie, is featured in the episode where their storyline is about them not telling the truth. 

The moral of all of these episodes is, or course, that you should always tell the truth. But are my kids getting that at 4 1/2 and almost 2? Heck no! Do they really understand what is going on in these shows for the most part? Probably not...but I know M, my 4 year old, is starting to get it for sure. A few months ago I heard her fake coughing and then she went on to tell me she was being like Peck from Callie and pretending to be sick. That was the end of Callie in our house. 

Now every time it comes on tv M goes "oh mom! Callie's on - the show you do NOT like!" 

Now, Doc McStuffins? There is a show that every kid should be watching. 

I credit Doc McStuffins with my kids loving to go to the doctors. No joke, they love everything about the doctors, and even constantly play doctor when we are at home. Every episode of Doc has a true to life message that my kids actually understand, like "it's ok to ask for help," or "everyone get's hurt sometimes," or even something as simple as the fact you need to brush your hair and teeth every day. 

The other day we were playing in the backyard on a hot day and M quickly ran up on the deck under the umbrella. I asked her what she was doing and she said to me, "I have to take a break in the shade for a bit and have some water. Doc said you shouldn't be in the sun too long, and you should take breaks in the shade...and I need to hydrate like that fire truck toy on doc did." 

Come on now!! The writes and creators of that show should be proud!!

The writers of Sheriff Callie should be smacked. I'm just saying is all...