“Good Night Moon” for College Students

This time of year, our Facebook feeds are all flooded with back to school posts. What’s strange for me is that I had my kids so late, I’m completely out of sync with many of my peers.  While I’m still trying to get an infant to sleep through the night, I’ve got friends sending kids to middle school, high school–even college!

But I’d like to think that parents of the littlest and biggest kids can still find common ground.  That’s why I’ve rewritten this classic baby bedtime book for college students.

Sleep well, everybody.

good night moon

In the great dorm room,

There was a three foot bong.

And a bag of shrooms.

And a picture of Jim Morrison, gone too soon.

And there were three open beers for saying “cheers.”

And The Catcher in the Rye and a tapestry, tie-dyed.

And shower shoes and moldy food.

And a guitar amp and a lava lamp.

And a stranger passed out who has a tramp stamp.

And a next door neighbor screaming, “Stop playing Crosby Stills & Nash already—this isn’t summer camp!”

Good night, dorm room. Good night, moon.

Good night, Jim Morrison, gone too soon.

Good night, bong and good night, shrooms.

Good night, beers. Good night, cheers.

Good night, Rye. Good night, tie-dye.

Good night, shoes. Good night, food.

Good night, amp. Good night, lamp.

Good night, whoever that is, with the tramp stamp.

Good night, bars. Good night, stanky air.

Good night, lucky bastards everywhere.

dorm room with arrows

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All The Times I Said “No” to My 4-Year-Old Today

I used to be a “Yes” mom.

Yes, you can jump off the swing.  Yes, you can squirt shaving cream in the bath and pretend it’s snow.  Yes, you may peform opera in the supermarket.

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But now I have two kids.  A little one who’s up all night and a bigger one who is a bottomless pit of need.  Factor in sleep deprivation, constant nursing, juggling two wildy different schedules and my general irritation, and it seems I have turned into a grumpy old “no” mom.

No, you can’t carry the baby.

No, you can’t stick your finger in her mouth.

No, do not use her body as a drum.

No sneezing on the baby!  For Chrissakes.  No.

No, I’m not going to unlock your car window so you can open and close it 30 times.

No, you can’t eat all of my ice cream and your ice cream too.

No, you cannot share my water while you have green snot.

No, I will not be making jelly sandwiches for all your meals.  (Thanks a lot, Bread and Jam for Francis.)

No nudity on our front steps.

No picking the neighbor’s flowers.  Fine, one.  I said one!

No, I will not paint your nails right before you eat popcorn.  That is just pointless.

No more Bubble Guppies today. Or maybe ever.

I told you no video unless you cleaned up your toys.

Hiding all your dress up clothes under a blanket does not count as cleaning up, no.

No, don’t stick your nose in my bum crack.

No, the people in Target do not need to see my underwear.

Nope, stop it, my nipple is not a toy.

No, I am not going to leave you in the car while I go into the house, as tempting at that sounds.

No, my checkbook is not for coloring.

No, Barbie can’t wear my good jewelry.

Nooooooo why is the magazine I just started reading ripped into 10,000 pieces?  Did I say you could make a collage with Vanity Fair?  No, I did not.

No matter how many times you ask me, you cannot carry the baby up the stairs.  No.

V and C honeymoon dress

Sometimes, the kid gives me no choice, but I don’t like how I sound.  And I don’t want to crush every last one of her dreams just because I’m too tired and cranky to reframe the request into a suitable alternative.

I wish I could change the conversation so I can be that “Yes” mom once again.  In my fantasy, it goes like this:

Mommy, can I sit here and color while you stare into space?

YES.

Can I be the doctor and you be my patient and I examine you while you lie down?

YES.

Do you love me even when I drive you crazy?

YES.  YES.  YES. YES. YES. Read More »

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A New Mom’s Guide To Capturing Moments

The bad news: Lifetime Moms is shutting down.  I have loved writing for that site for the past two years, and working with my fantastic editor Melissa Kagan, but such is life.  The good news: I went out with a bang, writing a final post about taking photos of my kids (my favorite pasttime). It’s sponsored by LG and I got to use their amazing camera phone.  Check out the results…

As a first time mom, I made a few mistakes. Okay, a lot of mistakes. I woke a sleeping baby. Ran out of diapers on a road trip. Might have let the baby roll off the bed. Whoops. But one thing I did right, in those early days, was to take a zillion pictures.

When you’re in the thick of new motherhood, you think you’ll remember every magical moment forever. But you don’t. One day your baby’s learning to crawl, and the next day she’s dancing in her first ballet recital. New memories rapidly replace the older ones. The only way I know how to hold onto those special moments that I don’t want to lose is by taking photographs. They’re like a time machine to my favorite parts of the past.

With the recent addition of another beautiful baby girl, our little family of three has grown to four, and there are even more special moments to capture–like the first time my 4-year-old made our newborn laugh. We were playing with a bubble maker outside. Big sister was popping bubbles and giggling, narrating the whole experience for her little sister, and the baby started cracking up. I wished my husband could be there to see her face—he misses so much good stuff when he’s at work! Luckily, I had my LG G4 phone and was able to snap some great shots.

Bubbles chloe smile crop

I can’t get enough of pictures of my girls bonding and delighting in each other—even the slightly too aggressive hugs (I call it “smother love”). My husband sometimes thinks I’m insane for taking so many pictures, but I consider myself our family’s historian, and I take my job seriously. These images spark the stories we’ll be telling for decades.

So how do I capture the moments? As a veteran mom-tographer, I do have a few tips for how to get the most out of your family photos:

1. Always be ready – When I only had one baby, I used to haul my fancy digital camera (with bulky case and charger) everywhere I went. Now that I’m juggling two little ones, I just don’t have time—or room in my diaper bag—to worry about multiple devices. Instead, I rely on my LG G4 phone, which has a top of the line camera that I can whip out at a moment’s notice. Though I try to keep it charged, mom brain doesn’t always allow for that, so I count on its long battery life to cover me. The battery is removable, so it’s also easy to just swap it out.

2. Don’t say cheese – My 4-year-old daughter is gorgeous and expressive–right up until the moment you ask her to pose for the camera. Then, she’ll grit her teeth and grimace, in a goofy imitation of a smile. It’s kind of funny, and kind of frustrating. What I’ve learned is that the best shots of my kids are candids. An unposed photo of my daughter gazing adoringly at her baby sister is often way better than the deer in headlights shot of her staring down the lens. One of the plusses of shooting most of my pictures with my phone is that it’s a low profile gadget, so I can do it without the kids really noticing—meaning, no time to pose and grimace.

Keep reading at Lifetime Moms for my photography tips… Read More »

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10 Things “Friends” Taught Us About Marriage

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Congratulations to one of our favorite “Friends!”

Rachel—I mean Jennifer Aniston—has tied the knot with longtime boyfriend Justin Theroux, and Monica—I mean Courteney Cox—stood up for her as Maid of Honor. If only Joey could have officiated.

Despite the recent rash of celebrity divorce announcements, I have high hopes for Jennifer. She took her time, learned from her mistakes, and perhaps most importantly, she was on “Friends,” which taught us everything we need to know about love and marriage:

1. You have to want the same things. Despite their age difference, Monica and Richard (Tom Selleck) had incredible chemistry. But Richard didn’t want to have children with her, and Monica was smart enough to move on.

2. Sex is important. Rachel and Joey shared romantic feelings, but kissing him made her giggle uncomfortably. If the chemistry’s not there, it’s not meant to be. Monica, on the other hand, admitted that Chandler was the best sex she ever had, perhaps in part because of the memorable episode in which she taught him about women’s erogenous zones (“Seven! Seven! Seven!”)

3. Absurd ultimatums will doom a relationship. Newlyweds Ross and Emily got off to a rocky start when Ross blurted out Rachel’s name at the ceremony. Emily insisted that Ross never speak to Rachel again, but it was too high a price to pay, and their marriage soon ended.

4. You gotta have each other’s back. Phoebe donated her wedding fund to charity, then changed her mind and asked for a refund. Despite the extreme awkwardness, fiancé Mike (Paul Rudd) supported her choices and shared the shame. Princess Consuela Bananahammock and Crap Bag truly were made for each other.

Continue reading at mom.me…

Read More »

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9 Reasons I’m Glad My Kids Are 4 Years Apart

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The moment my first child was born, and I felt that crazy love, I wanted another baby right away. I wanted 100 babies. We started trying in earnest when our daughter was barely a year old. Which was crazy. Had I gotten pregnant right away, I could have had two kids under two. And I would now be bald, having ripped out all my hair.

I’m sure there are all sorts of plusses to having kids close in age, like the way they play together, but it just looks so damn hard. Two kids in diapers. Two kids in tantrum. Two Xanax for Mommy.

Knowing what I know now, I’m so glad my children ended up being more than four years apart. Some would say that’s too big a spread for them ever to be BFF’s, but I disagree. There are siblings close in age who despise each other, and others who’ve overcome wide gaps to become best buds. Time will tell. Until then, I’m enjoying 8 amazing advantages of the four year spread:

1. Preschool – Since my older daughter is already in school, I have alone time with my little one every morning, and I treasure it. The first half of the day is quiet, lazy and sweet. The second half is utter chaos, and that’s okay, but if I didn’t have my solo baby time, I’d be way more frazzled.

2. Drop off play-dates – At age four, the big one’s just old enough to spend a few hours at a friend’s house without separation anxiety or drama, freeing up me up to handle small baby-mergencies when needed.

3. Baby safety – It’s comforting that a 4-year-old can understand the baby rules: wash your hands before touching, no fingers on baby’s face, and be gentle. I’d say she follows these rules at least 62% of the time. At least I know she’d never purposely try to hurt the baby, though sometimes her affection can be borderline smothering. Which brings us to…

4. Baby love – A younger child might ignore an infant, but my 4-year-old adores her baby sister. The first time I let her cuddle our newborn on her lap, she exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m holding a real live baby!” Way better than a Corolle doll. Except mom won’t let her drag the real live baby up and down the stairs.

5. My little helper – Sometimes Big Sister takes her role very seriously, assisting me by fetching wipes, tossing dirty diapers in the pail and singing a soothing round of Twinkle Twinkle when needed. She can be really helpful…unless she’s watching Sophia the First, and then I’m on my own.

6. Less gear – My 4-year-old is done using her crib, high chair and other baby/toddler gear, so it’s all ready (if a little banged up) for baby.  And there’s no need for a double stroller, since she never sits down.

7. Good talks – When my first kid feels frustrated by the changes in our family, she knows how to express herself, telling me in no uncertain terms, “Mom, you need to spend more time with me!” I’m grateful for her honestly, and sometimes I can head off a big melt-down just by hearing her out and scheduling a frozen yogurt date.

8. Their own identities – Jan Brady grew up in the shadow of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. But my girls won’t even attend high school at the same time. Hopefully, the little one can escape comparisons and forge her own path.

9. A slowly emptying nest – When my first is headed to college (sniffle, sniffle, sob), my little one will just be starting high school, which I hope will help ease the pain. Maybe, just as insurance, we should have one more baby four years from now. Shhh, nobody tell my husband.

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