Do Only Weenies Wear Turtlenecks?

“You have no style Mom,” my youngest remarked teasing as we stepped out of  an elevator in the mall, “only weenies wear turtlenecks.” christmas-234105_640-3 I stopped and stared into the nearest mirror.  I was wearing an oversized gray sweater, bland, white cotton turtleneck, stretchy pants, and sneakers.   My hair was pulled back in a ponytail. No makeup.  As I studied myself in the mirror I said, “I’ve become a frumpy housewife.”

shopping-mall-1316787__340My attire was in stark contrast to the trim mannequins in the store windows.  They were decked out in skimpy dresses and pants that I probably only would have fit into in second grade.

My problem isn’t that I don’t know what to wear.  It’s that nothing fits.  I discussed this distressing situation with my son who is about to fly home for the holidays.  “Mom you started wearing stretchy pants in your 30s,” he told me.  “Whatever happened to jeans?” Jeans just don’t seem to fit me well with my middle-age belly bulge. “You gave up too early,” my son said, suggesting a vegetarian diet.

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An older woman who overheard my daughter sassing me in the elevator tried to console me.  “It’s a phase she’ll outgrow,” the woman said thinking she was talking to a novice. People always assume that my youngest is my first and only child because I had her in my forties.   I actually don’t mind when my daughter pokes fun.  christmas-cookies-1042541_640Children are innocent and tell us the truth that no one else will except maybe our mothers.

I hate having to watch my weight. I’ve had to do it my entire adult life.   I find that I gain the most at the holidays.  I’m cold, cooped up, and temptation is everywhere.  Every Christmas cookie, piece of cake, or glass of wine has my name on it.  My husband certainly doesn’t help matters.  He has his own small business and clients always bring him sweets that he takes home. “Oh go ahead,” he says encouraging me to eat, “it’s the holidays.” Just for the record, he considers National Potato Chip Day, National Elephant Appreciation Day, and Festivus holidays.

I also get very anxious at the Christmas holidays and I overeat.  biscuit-83807__340The stress comes from all of the errands and worry.  I fret over whether I’ve  sent enough cards, bought enough gifts, prepared enough meals.   I worry that even though my reverend tells us to pray for peace, parishioners are praying for presents. I worry that the Elf on the Shelf told Santa that I regifted the waffle iron my mother-in-law gave me. broken-216728_640I’m worried that when my mother-in-law visits she’ll ask for a waffle.

Mother Who Can Name All Nine Reindeer Prefers Sugar Plums Over Shopping

In a few short weeks Christmas 2016 will pass into holiday history leaving you with more bills to pay than there are days in December.  You might as well be a contestant on the old Shop ’til You Drop show.  The Christmas countdown is here.  Millions of  bargain-hungry shoppers jumped up from the Thanksgiving table to tackle each other in the stores rather than watch football players do it on the field.  The shoppers racking up more yards and touchdowns than the Steelers on fire in

I look forward to shopping as much as I do bagging dog poop, having a drunk teenager barf in my car, or getting a Tetanus shot. I’ve decided that I won’t take the clickbait this year or wait in long lines at stores searching for gifts when I have no clue what anyone wants.  At least Santa has a list.  This whole holiday shopping is crazy. Who can deny that the frenzy was concocted by Madison Avenue. It’s all so a hard-drinking, chain-smoking ad man like Don Draper from the Mad Men show can afford a hotel room to cheat on his wife.

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christmas-314377_640We are spoiling an entire generation of kids who think life is over if they don’t find a Nerf N-Strike  Remote Control Drone Blaster under the tree.

We need to focus on family and holiday traditions.  Why doesn’t everyone carol in the neighborhood and sing  Fa-La-La-La,  or how about reading books to the kids?  My mom read me so many holiday stories that I can name all nine reindeer.  I have fond memories listening to my mom read  The Night Before Christmas.  It speaks to the wonder of childhood with children “nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.”  In this magical story Santa’s strange fleet of reindeer are called:Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen.

christmas-eve-1846481_640 “I thought there were nine reindeer?” I asked my mom when she first read me the story.

“You mean poor Rudolph?” she said, “he came later.”

It was a copywriter named Robert May who worked for the Montgomery Ward department store in Chicago who came up with the idea of  Rudolph in 1939 for a Christmas book the store gave out. Leave it to an ad man to come up with a reindeer with a glowing nose so Santa can deliver toys even when it’s foggy.  Maybe May should have had Santa wear a London Fog trench coat.  I think it’s time I wrote a story about Santa growing weary of packing his sleigh.  He sets his reindeer free and hobbles along with a little knapsack filled with nothing but a few stocking stuffers.

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So next time Don Draper saunters over to his bar and pours a Rye Whiskey as he works on his next holiday pitch, you can tell him to put a stock in it.




How to Throw a Sleepover Without Singing the Slumber Party Blues


Ever wonder why they call it a slumber party when no one gets any sleep? My daughter just talked me into having a slumber party with middle school girls.  The last time I threw one for her she was in elementary school.

We had too many girls – 14 to be exact.  The girls looked adorable when they first arrived all huddling together in fluffy PJ’s, with matching slippers.

After they got jacked up on soda, candy and cake, they started running amok,  jumping on beds and having pillow fights.

You might as well be watching a scene from the movie Where the Wild Things Are with the kids ready to let the rumpus begin!  One child was giving my daughter’s favorite American Girl doll a crewcut fit for a marine, and another was hiding in my linen closet  smearing more chocolate on my sheets than you’d find at Hersey Park, whining, “I’m starving, there’s NOTHING to EAT!”  She’s the redhead with pigtails who already left a snow cone melting on my den rug.

At 1am when the girls wouldn’t go down, I started cursing the inventor of the sleeping bag.  Then my husband yelled, “There’s a mouse in the house!” seeing a rodent scampering behind the tv cabinet, moving faster than Bo Jackson in his heyday making a 40-yard dash.

hamster-birthday-hatMy husband didn’t  realize that the girls let my daughter’s hamster out of the cage.  By that point, I was  actually thinking of calling  parents in the middle of the night.

Blogger Lori Lite of  Stress Free Kids  has some great tips for a birthday party. She tells me that her post Stress Free Birthday Party  was inspired by a middle school party.  She talks about the need to limit choices, manage technology, and set boundaries.  I obviously didn’t do this.  The girls at my daughter’s party spent hours arguing over  which Movies On Demand to rent  and kept sending messages to each other on cell phones. Lite suggests limiting movie choices with the birthday girl deciding ahead of  time and collecting cell phones at a certain time.birthday-947438_640

I would also advise you to avoid slumber parties before kids reach middle school age. The little kids are way too young for group overnights.  Have  the younger kids come to a  “pajama party” instead where they dress for bed and watch movies and eat pizza but leave by 9:30pm.  This way you won’t end up with more bags under your eyes than you’ll find in a box of Lipton Tea.

Girl Drama 101: How to Survive the Middle School Years

Our girls enter middle school playing with American Girl dolls, and leave flirting with boys.  Some even have boyfriends and are dating by the time they head to high school.  In middle school our girls are trying to grow up, but still have a lot of “kid” left in them.

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It’s a lot of change in a short time. Raging hormones, painfully awkward social interactions, and academic pressure lead to stress.   The stress usually winds up dumped on our doorstep.  Between the ages of 10 and 13, tempers flare and conflicts with parents increase. So does the backbiting directed at other girls.  Any mother of a middle school girl would be lying if she didn’t tell you that this stage comes with  drama.  One moment they act like angels, and the next the fangs come out.  You may  need more wearwolf hunters than you’ll find on an episode of  Teen Wolf.


When the cliques form in middle school, there is always one girl in the group who deserves an Oscar for Best Tween Drama Queen.

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Some girls  thrive on the negative attention.  girls-914823_640They  gossip, betray confidences, and pit one friend against another to remain center stage.   You need to stop it while you can still mold them like a piece of clay, or they’ll be the type of toxic adults you avoid at high school reunions. The rapid physical and emotional changes can put almost any  middle school child on edge as they struggle to find their identity.  Are they a nerd, a jock, a goth?  They worry that they won’t fit in.  One minute they are deliriously happy, and the next miserable.

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Any little thing can set them off and trigger back talk or a meltdown worse than any toddler you’ve seen.

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Experts say that arguments with parents are normal as they separate  and assert independence. The key as a mother is to keep calm. Do not take the bait and resort to sarcasm,  name-call or fly off the handle and yell. I find yelling doesn’t work.  The “loudmouths” may have gotten high ratings on Morton Downey Jr.’s old “trash” TV show, but your child turns it around and asks, “Why do you yell?” If they yell, the best way to get them to stop is to tell them that they don’t want to sound that way.  You also need to pick your battles or kids will rebel if  you are too rigid.   Middle school meltdown triggers can include:

  • Not being able to find a hair tie
  • Their favorite pants are in the wash
  • They are forced to admit you are their mother publicly
  • You turned off their computer before they caught a Pokémon
  • Jimmy Kimmel has you tell them that you ate all of their Halloween candy and plan to eat their Christmas stocking stuffers too, down to the last peppermint pattie

A recent study found that having a child in middle school is the most stressful time in a mother’s life.  It’s just such a roller coaster.  But look at the bright side, at least they’re potty-trained and share their feelings.

Jennifer Aniston Pushes Back: She’s Not a “Sad, Childless Human”

Hollywood superstar Jennifer Aniston opens up about her life in the latest issue of Marie Claire.  In an intimate interview, the actress calls out the notion that a woman who doesn’t have kids should be pitied.

In the Marie Claire article in the December issue out on newsstands November 15, the 47-year-old actress says:


In the  interview, the former Friend’s star explains why she fought back against the harsh judgment women feel for not getting married or having children in her powerful Huffington Post op-ed she wrote in July. In that piece she said:

“The sheer amount of resources being spent right now by press trying to simply uncover whether or not I am pregnant (for the bajillionth time… but who’s counting) points to the perpetuation of this notion that women are somehow incomplete, unsuccessful, or unhappy if they’re not married with children.”

She now tells Marie Claire that she wants to change the critical lens through which we look at women.   You can get a sneak peak at the article here.

I feel there is also harsh judgement doled out on mothers.  When I worked in TV news, people who hardly knew me would come up in the supermarket and start shaming me about the long hours that I worked at a demanding  job away from my kids.  “Why did you have kids if you didn’t want to raise them?” one ballsy neighbor asked after word spread that I was late for my own daughter’s birthday party.  I was covering a political convention.

Interviewing former Lieutenant Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey at the Democratic State Convention in NYC, 1998. Seated next to McCaughey is RNN Talk Show Host Richard French. He and I provided live convention coverage together throughout this event.

Interviewing former Lieutenant Governor of New York Betsy McCaughey at the Democratic State Convention in NYC, 1998. Seated next to McCaughey is RNN Talk Show Host Richard French. He and I provided live convention coverage together throughout this event.

It didn’t matter that I had called my husband, who had left work early to back me up. The MOTHER wasn’t there.  “Liar, liar, pants on fire,” my daughter said when I arrived late quoting from the phrase kids use when they think someone is lying.  I had promised her that I would be there. I let her down. She ran into the house sobbing.  Having other people pile on only made it worse. “What kind of a mother are you?” said another woman lashing out.  Her daughter was a party guest and she had stayed to help my husband.   I felt  belittled. I felt condemned.  No one cared that I had just scooped the competition.

It’s sad that a beloved megastar like Aniston, who has brought so much joy to our lives, feels she’s been shamed too.

You have to wonder how many women feel this way who try to achieve.  In the Marie Claire interview,  Aniston candidly says her love life has been “shamed” throughout her career, including her 2005 divorce from Brad Pitt.  Aniston is now happily married to actor Justin Theroux.

Aniston is so right that we need to stop “picking” women apart. One size does not fit all, unless you are a teenager shopping at Brandy Melville.

Halloween and the Giant Skull Head Mushroom Monster Mash

This Halloween too much sugar and a graveyard bash with Dracula could be a pain in the neck at my house. What really irks me about Halloween is all of the sugar we let our kids eat.  Teachers give kids candy at school. helloween-1021366_640 They get it at Halloween parades and carnivals.  candy-corn-1726481_640 In our neighborhood, we even pre-game with parties where  kids load up on the candy and cupcakes  before they even start trick-or-treating.  I’m a dentist’s daughter and Dad always said nothing good comes of eating candy.

The tell-tale signs of too much candy consumption aren’t hard to miss. By now, you’ve probably all seen the anti gravity video for the song “Upside Down & Inside Out” by the rock band OK Go.  It was a single released on their fourth studio album, Hungry Ghosts.  You can watch it here.

This year Halloween falls on a school night.  I think that stinks too.pumpkin-958251_640 A lawmaker in  Connecticut tried to get Halloween moved to the last Saturday in October when it would be more convenient but people thought he would upset tradition.  dog-714861_640Many believe Halloween is rooted in a holiday started by the Celts.  I’m not talking about the Boston Celtics basketball team.  I’m referring to Celtic tribes 2,000 years ago in what is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France. They would  light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off the dead they believed  returned to earth on  Samhain,  a Pagan festival celebrated on October 31.  img_0970I’m beginning to wonder if they might have been on to something  thinking about the skull head mushroom that is haunting my backyard.


Universal Studios, Hollywood, CA 2016.  Pictured are Frankenstein’s Monster, left, Dracula, my husband, and The Mummy.

It’s very creepy  and emerged from the ground  just in time for Halloween.   I’m beginning to fear that the skull will do the  “Monster Mash” on my lawn with other ghosts, ghouls and goblins.img_1097  My husband, who loves hanging out with monsters,  says he’s stocking up on  Killer Bloody Marys with a Skull garnish  for the graveyard bash.  He’s having trouble though figuring out how many guests to prepare for since there is no guest list.img_0995

His toast for all the uninvited guests will be:”Rest in pieces.”



Monkey See, Monkey Do: How To Be Role Models for Our Kids

We tell our children not to lie or their noses will grow like Pinocchio. The puppet’s creator Italian author Carlo Collodi, who died in 1890, was a writer and social commentator. He was steeped in an 18th century Italian culture where marionette plays helped teach kids right from wrong.  There are some who believe his children’s story about a naughty puppet had a powerful social message. pinocchio-1193969_640In the original story, Pinocchio’s carpenter father lies, and then so does his puppet son.

One of my kids is getting confirmed this year. The reverend told parents that we need to model the behavior we want to see in our kids. He said that if  we don’t want our kids to drink, take drugs or smoke, then parents shouldn’t do so either.  It’s the old motto:”Monkey see, monkey do.  I couldn’t agree more.  Which brings us to the case of a chain-smoking chimp who learned how to do it from his trainer.   The video is going viral.  You can watch it here.


My advice to parents is to stop mucking around. pinocchio-595732_640-1 Children have a memory of what we do that is longer than Pinocchio’s nose.

Save Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers Before the Wicked Witch’s Hourglass Runs Out

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is heading down the Yellow Brick Road on a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to conserve  Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers.  The Smithsonian is asking the public to help save the slippers, trying to raise $300,000. Over half of the money needed has already been raised in two days.  Judy Garland wore the slippers in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz.           


Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.

Museum spokesperson Melinda Machado tells me that the slippers have “wear and tear and fading over time you’d expect for something which has been so cherished by the public.” 4e1309997b3410a8e7e02c982c676a68_original

She said the slippers have been damaged by light and need to be restored and preserved in a new state-of-the-art display case.  She said that an anonymous donor bought them at an auction and gave them to the Smithsonian in 1979.  Aside  from cleaning them and briefly loaning them out to places like the Victoria and Albert Museum in England and to Oprah Winfrey’s Show, Machado says this national treasure has been on  continuous display in the American Stories exhibit at the museum.

Kickstarter is a third-party online funding platform where the goal must be met within 30 days.   The launch began on October 17th.  If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, Kickstarter says backers’ credit cards are charged when time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged. Funding  is all-or-nothing.  If the goal is exceeded, the museum will use the extra funding for outreach and educational programs.

The public can back the project on the Kickstarter page, .  The campaign ends Nov. 16.39c4d0fd73afb878350564ab83deebd5_original

In 2018 the slippers will be moved to a new pop culture exhibit tentatively called On With the Show along with American treasures such as Muhammad Ali’s training robe, Jim Henson’s Muppets, John Coltrane’s saxophone, R2-D2 from Star Wars.

dolls-373469_640-1Another campaign is raising money for other iconic treasures to be displayed at the National Over the Hill Museum in Palm Beach, Florida.  These items  include my bubble cap, stretchy pants and retired flip phone.  So far $1.50 has been raised that was pledged by my mother.

the-wizard-of-oz-516687_960_720You can follow the Ruby Slippers campaign on social media using the hashtag #KeepThemRuby. Tony Award-winning Broadway costume designer William Ivey Long  has created an exclusive, custom Ruby Slippers design for many of the rewards given to project backers.  These include rewards for contributions from $10 to $100, including digital and printed posters, a decal, tote bag and t-shirt.  Long will sign and “hand-glitterize” posters at the $500 reward level. Other rewards include a custom hand-sewn replica pair of the Ruby Slippers by Randy Struthers, and a behind-the-scenes look  at the Ruby Slippers at the museum.

You Better Pass on the Crumpets and Prune Juice

If you want to fudge about  your age, it’s not just sitting and knitting that will give you away.  Pass on breakfast.crumpets-1385193_1280

BuzzFeed  says that what you eat for breakfast gives your age away.  They even have a test you can take here.

I took the Buzzfeed test and my choices reveal that I’m 24 years old.

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-10-05-11-amcereal-635741_640Even though Ovaltine and Raisin Bran weren’t on the menu, I found this result very surprising for someone who is over the hill.  The test told me that I like convenience.  If eating a convenient breakfast is actually making me younger, maybe I should head over to a fast food place.   McDonald says it’s serving breakfast all day.  So if I eat a savory sausage, egg and cheese McGriddles at midnight while watching The Late Show, I may be able to hold off on the cold cream.

A fisheye image of a woman dressed for a beach vacation guzzling a fancy cocktail.

If that doesn’t do the trick, tossing out the OJ and having a Ponce de Leon cocktail may help me find the Fountain of Youth.



How Mother Hens Can Cope When Their Kids Fly the Coop

When our children are young we measure the milestones. When they are grown and far we measure the miles and the minutes we get  to see them. boy-526223_960_720 I have two older children who live very far away and miss them each day. One friend whose child just moved said:”You spend the whole time raising them desperate for a moment to yourself, and when they leave you hope for a moment together.”  So true.

I won’t be an empty nester anytime soon since I had a third child in my forties. Even so, I miss the ones who are gone.

It’s lonely settling into a new routine without your kids.   It really hits you for the first when you drop them at college.  I’ve done this twice.  The first few weeks are really tough. You even miss their footsteps at 2:00 am in the morning – fumbling in their pockets for their cell phones to wake you up like you ever went to sleep not knowing where they were.  I sobbed when my kids left for college.

I cried when they graduated and moved away.   I cry each time they come and go.  I’m probably personally responsible for an increase in Kleenex sales.   I do talk to parents who say: “It’s time,” when their kids leave.   I never felt this way. I’m a helicopter parent and mothers like me probably have the hardest time.  We are used to doing everything for our kids.  My husband always tells me to be happy  that the kids are developing  the skills to live on their own.

The Free Dictionary defines a basket case as  “a person who is suffering from extreme nervous strain; nervous wreck.” Here’s how to prevent the basket case blues when kids fly the coop:


  • Avoid sitting in your child’s room  unless you enjoy going to funerals
  • Wait until they dump whoever they dated before putting together their graduation photo albums  so you can get those pictures photoshopped
  •  Set a date when you know you’ll visit the child if they’ll let you
  • Resist calling and wait until they call so they don’t think you are a desperate housewife

Remember that it’s tough for children too.   They get used to living on their own.  When they come home it isn’t about rules and curfews anymore. chicks-1433003_960_720-1 They don’t want some real mother hen clipping their wings or hatching up plans and feeding them worms.starbucks-569062_960_720  They want to head to the Hen House Market  and get  a chicken panini and a caffè latte at Starbucks and call it a day.