Monday, September 29, 2014

7 Reasons Going to Homecoming Evoked Déjà Vu

When I summoned our high school mascot over and asked if he would take a picture with my son Scotty and me, do you know how the kid responded?

"Sure, Ma'am."

He called me ma'am. Well, at least his mama taught him some manners. 

Good etiquette aside, his reply basically underscored the sentiment of the entire evening: I basically felt like an old fart amid a sea of whippersnappers. Here's why attending my high school's homecoming football game -- 20 years after I had graduated -- wasn't at all what I thought it would be...

Everything looked the same...but with a twist. So, actually, nothing looked the same.
As soon as we parked the car, I heard the thrum of the marching band's big bass drum, and as soon as we made our way to the stadium entrance, our noses were welcomed by the aroma of freshly-popped popcorn. But other than that, my eyes panned the area looking for something -- anything -- familiar. Back when I was a student at Westland John Glenn High School, the concession stand was housed inside a wooden hut and a dirt path led to the football field. All that has since been replaced by an elaborate entrance complete with paved brick, a wrought iron nameplate sign, and brushed steel lamp posts:

The people I wanted to see have since moved on.
When I approached the ticket counter, I explained to the women collecting the money that I hadn't been back in long, long time, and I inquired whether the man whom I thought was coaching the varsity football team was still coaching. Their reply? "Nope." And so then I asked if my cheerleading coach was still around. Again, "Nope." I don't know why but their reply saddened me. I know times change. I know people move on. I get that. Heck, I had done a lousy job of sticking around myself. But returning to your high school and hoping to see some familiar faces is kind of like returning home for the holidays and expecting your mom to make your favorite food...but she doesn't. It's sad.

The things I had previously identified as homecoming-ish had vanished.
The intricate homecoming floats that sophomore, junior, and senior classes had spent hours toiling under the bleachers to make? They were nowhere in sight. Similarly, the traditional cheerleading uniforms that were hotter than the dickens to wear were also MIA. Instead, in the spirit of the mega-hit The Hunger Games, the classes marched into the stadium carrying signs that pronounced them as members of a particular district. And the cheerleaders wore short shorts, t-shirts, and stark white sneakers with over-the-calf socks to match. I've got to give it to them, once I realized what The Hunger Games signs meant, I thought it was rather creative. And I realize that what the cheerleaders wore may have been a special get-up for homecoming. But, still. I like my homecoming complete with wooden floats bearing streamers and my cheerleaders wearing polyester uniforms. Sorry. I know I am apparently in the minority:

The kids now sit in what I like to call The Student Section 2.0.
You know how grandmas and grandpas regale their grandchildren with the I used to walk a mile to school story? Yeah, well, here's mine: When I was a student at John Glenn, we had a marching band and cheerleaders. And the student section was simply anywhere you could find space on the right side of the bleachers. Now? The rockets have a mascot and the student section has an official name, The Launch Pad. (Shaking my head.) For the love, can't anything stay the same? Don't answer that question. And by the way, Scotty hightailed it when he saw the astronaut. He was scared. I told Scotty that he was a superhero, but he still didn't care and fled:

When I cheered, I couldn't wait to shed my sweatshirt! But now it hides my saddlebags.
No further explanation necessary:

My crew has changed.
BFFs. Fellow cheerleaders and track runners. Revered upperclassmen. Back in the day, my clique included some pretty cool people. Now I roll with the younger set...and by younger, I mean younger as in, they prefer goldfish crackers over Big Gulps and Bubble Guppies over gangsta rap. But it's all good: They make for a cheap date because kids get into homecoming for free. And another thing: The pressure is off to find a respectable gentleman who tickles my fancy: I came -- and left -- with one:

Despite all of this, my Rocket pride is stronger than ever.
Even though I feel like the John Glenn I once knew is gone forever -- and make no mistake, it is -- the pride I currently feel for having gone there is still unwavering. Our fight song, our signature G, our vibrant red, white, and blue school colors...I love it all. It reminds me of home. And always will:

Oh, and by the way. We lost the game. By one point. ONE POINT!! Canton 22, John Glenn, 21. I'm sure it was a nail-biter, but I can't even pretend to know for sure: We were outta there before the homecoming queen was even crowned. The down side to rolling with the younger set is that there's hell to pay if you stay out past their bedtime. 
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nostalgia in the making

I’m aware that this post is strange.

Or perhaps this post isn’t strange – maybe it’s just that writing it makes me feel strange. But I ultimately decided to share my thoughts because I have a hunch that many – if not all – of you just might be able to relate...

Do you know of a song that, within seconds of hearing it, you get a particular feeling in the pit of your stomach – in your soul – because hearing said song takes you to a place emotionally where the nostalgia of it all almost leaves you breathless?

This is the story of one of those songs.

Just the other day, when I am trying in vain to feed Kennedy in her high chair, a commercial for Hampton Inn & Suites comes on ESPN. I look at Kennedy, who turns one year old this week, and in that instant I see her as a sweet-smelling, seven-pound newborn.

I almost start to cry.

You see, it had been nearly a year since I heard that song in the commercial. And hearing that song again took me right back to where I was (emotionally) when I first heard it...

Back when Kennedy was just weeks old – when I was nursing and changing her seemingly every hour throughout the night, she slept in a bassinet next to our bed and ESPN was the de facto television channel we kept the TV tuned to.

And when Kennedy would awake, I’d always see the same Hampton Inn & Suites commercial. I’d never see this commercial during the day; only in the middle of the night when the station was repeating a college football game.  I always found it ironic because when ESPN planned to play this commercial – a commercial about a hotel – I bet I am the complete antithesis of the demographic they were hoping to reach.

Think about it: Travel is the last thing on the mind of a haggard, breastfeeding mother of two little ones. Back then – when I was two weeks postpartum –  going on a road trip with my children would have been the only thing harder than staying home with them.

You can view the commercial by clicking here.

And the song in that commercial is Beth Jeans Houghton’s “I Will Return:”

I love the harmonizing and the catchy chorus, but I found the commercial most appealing back then because, it reminded me of a carefree getaway, which I so desperately needed back then.

But, now – and forever more – that song will remind me of a time when I was sleep deprived, weary, and, frankly, somewhat unsure of my abilities to mother two young children. And by the same token, it will always remind me of a most precious time in my daughter’s life, as there is nothing – absolutely nothing – like the shine of the newborn stage.

And so I ask: What song evokes feelings of nostalgia within you?

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Cold War: It isn't over.

On June 24, 2010 in a suite inside the Marriott on Florida's Hollywood Beach, an argument took place between my husband Scott and me. 

Scratch that. 

It wasn't an argument. It was the precursor of an ongoing war. 

I decided to revisit what exactly happened on that fateful afternoon by writing a story about it entitled, "The Cold War," which is featured in the anthology Clash of the Couples: A Humorous Collection of Completely Absurd Lover’s Squabbles and Relationship Spats, due out November 3, 2014 on Amazon, B&N, Apple, and other places where you typically buy books:
Here's an excerpt from the book's introduction:
Coupledom. Fact or fable, Adam and Eve birthed the perpetual relationship drama as seen on TV today. Despite the serpents, this couple HAD IT MADE. Luxury real estate, lush gardens, and privacy out the yin-yang. Life was glorious until the bare-bottomed babe could no longer resist temptation.     Despite her better half’s warnings and threats to sleep in a tree, she tasted the forbidden fruit. One bite of that seductive, juicy contraband and the stage was set for eternity— a nibble that has blossomed into an endless supply of tiny tidbits that divide lovers to this day!

Taking a cue from the naked explorers of authentic sin, Clash of the Couples is a new anthology featuring a collection of completely absurd lovers’ squabbles and relationship spats. Think couples fight over kids, sex, and money? Think again! Furniture, the last beer, and where to store the placenta are what genuinely ignite our feuds. And no argument is off limits. This book has it all!

Inside you’ll find a gut-busting compilation of stories such as: “I Can’t Believe You Ate My Sandwich," "Never Assume Anything," "Only I Can Talk About Me," and "You Want Some College Boobs?" from forty-three fearless writers. Prepare to laugh, roll your eyes, and shiver in suspense. While Eve may have had the first bite, we ate the whole tree. And made pies. 

In the video below, Scott and I try -- not surprisingly, unsuccessfully -- to seek common ground about an issue that has become the proverbial thorn in our side -- and the source of the goose bumps on my arms...

I think I'm right. He thinks he's right. Buy the book, read our story, and you be the judge. To stay updated on the release of Clash of the Couples, check out our Facebook page here, and a complete list of Clash of the Couples contributors is below:

Andrew S. Delfino of Almost Coherent Parent
Crystal Ponti of MommiFried
Camille DeFer Thompson of Camille DeFer Thompson
Meredith Napolitano of From Meredith to Mommy
Chris Dean of pixie.c.d.
Linda Roy of elleroy was here
Kevin Zelenka of Double Trouble Daddy
Sarah Cottrell of Housewife Plus
R.C. Liley of Going Dad
Mary Widdicks of Outmanned
Marie Bollman of Make Your Own Damn Dinner
Ginny Marie of Lemon Drop Pie
Mike Reynolds of Puzzling Posts
Leigh-Mary Hoffmann of Happily Ever Laughter Blog
Lisa Petty of Lisa R. Petty
Lynn Shattuck of The Light Will Find You
Jeff Bogle of Out With The Kids
Stacey Gustafson of Are You Kidding Me?
Angela Godbout of FRaPS
Courtney Conover of The Brown Girl with Long Hair
Jenny Hills of Express Bus Mama
Marcia Kester Doyle of Menopausal Mother
Julia Arnold of Frantic Mama
Jessica Azar of Herd Management
Susan A. Black of I Like That
Sarah del Rio of est. 1975
Nicole R. Wildhood of Naught Be All Else
Angela Keck of Writer Mom’s Blog
Alexa Bigwarfe of No Holding Back
Brian Sorrell of Dadding Full Time
Kathryn Leehane of Foxy Wine Pocket
April Grant of 100lb Countdown
Bev Feldman of Linkouture
Jodi Flaherty of The Noise of Boys
Scott Rigdon of Three Five Zero
Lydia Richmond of Cluttered Genius
Allie Burdick of VITA - Train for Life
Michelle Grewe of Crumpets and Bollocks
Barb Godshalk of Co-Author of Tall Tales and Short Stories from South Jersey
Jonathon Floyd of One Funny Daddy
Chris Carter of The Mom Cafe
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Friday, September 12, 2014

#AskAwayFriday with Penny Chevalley!

Today I am honored and beyond thrilled to trade questions with the awesome -- and extremely hospitable -- Penny Chevalley of The Real Housewife of Caroline County blog. I am particularly excited because we all have Penny to thank for being the brainchild of Ask Away Friday, which has since become somewhat of a Friday mainstay here in the blogosphere. Ask Away Friday is an opportunity for bloggers to connect by asking each other ten questions to really get to know one another. Penny and I agreed to swap questions some time ago (during the summer) -- which called for her to come out of her self-imposed #AskAwayFriday retirement, which I'm grateful for -- and I'm so excited that the time is now upon us. Quick story about how I came to know Penny...

It was back in January or February of this year, and I had only been blogging for a few weeks. I'm reading my Twitter notifications and see one from Penny in which she tweeted me a warm message, welcoming me to the world of blogging. From there, I began to follow her blog -- which you should be doing, too, I might add, if you're not already. What I love most about Penny, who is a wife and mom of two with another little on on the way, is that she is unabashedly candid and real. To know Penny is to love her. You can read her responses to my questions here.

So without further adu, here are my responses to her questions...

How did you and your husband meet?  Was it back in high school or later in life?
We met and married later in life, but the irony is that, technically, the first time I actually saw Scott was when I was in high school – I just didn’t know that he would one day be my husband. There’s a little bit of an age difference between us (he’s nine years older). I was a senior in high school when my father took me to my first Lions game and Scott was playing on the field! I was bored to tears and actually spent the game reading my Seventeen and YM magazines. Little did I know, my future husband and father of my children was just a few yards away…But the story of how we came to actually meet each other – nine years later, I might add – is another testament to the power of serendipity. I’ll give you the Cliff Notes’ version because I do plan to blog about this one day: I had a run-in with a book publisher in the parking lot of my town’s City Hall, where I worked at the time. (I had written a children’s book and wanted to know if it would be a good fit for her.) We hit it off and she invites me to her office to talk. Fast forward fifteen minutes into our meeting, she asks if I’m single, and tells me that one of her clients would be the perfect guy for me (she had published Scott’s children’s book years prior) -- and that he lives in Jersey (which Scott did at the time), but that he’ll be here in Michigan next week to host a black tie fundraiser for his children’s charity. She said I should come to meet him. No pressure. I went…and it was one of the best nights of my life. The rest, as they say, is history.

We've all see the sports star wife shows but what's the "reality" of being an NFL wife?  
Honestly? There isn't one blanket reality that applies to all NFL wives, and I think that is due greatly to the fact that there isn’t one blanket reality that applies to all NFL players in general. For example: A young NFL player, say, a rookie who isn’t married and doesn’t have children, is going to live a much different life than a veteran who is married with kids. It just all depends. When I met Scott, he had already retired from playing football and was ready to settle down. He wanted to get married and start a family – he was ready to have kids before I was. I know a few NFL wives – wives who were married while their husbands were still playing – and they’ve told me repeatedly that I found Scott at the best time because the rigors of traveling and everything that comes with the football season makes being married and having children a challenge. Not always, but it can be harder. I first discovered this when Scott took me to an NFL Players convention before we were even engaged, and I blogged about it here. But back to my reality. Many would find that my day-to-day life is surprisingly mundane. I mean, yeah, there are splashes of excitement here and there as it relates to the game of football. But we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like any other family. But there are things…things that I never would have considered would be a part of my life – but they are now, and I blogged about those things in my post entitled You Know You’re an NFL Wife When... One of those things is having your husband’s huge professionally framed football jerseys and/or gameday action photos adorn your walls. (I have yet to encounter a current or former NFL player who doesn’t have at least one of his jerseys in a frame hanging on his wall. And, no; I’m not over exaggerating here.) For example, in the photo below, which hangs in our home's foyer and is, trust me, larger in real life than it looks here, Scott (#76) is blocking the late Green Bay Packers and NFL Hall of Fame Defensive Lineman Reggie White:

And then there are the people who find your unlisted address and send memorabilia to your home with a letter requesting that your husband sign and return it…all so the sender can sell it for his own profit. And then there’s the fact that football MUST play a role in your wedding. I mean, die-hard fans incorporate football into their weddings, too, of course. It’s just that with a fan it’s optional…but when you’re marrying a player, it’s non-negotiable. In the photo below taken at our wedding reception, Scott and I are flanked by a few of his fellow Detroit Lions offensive linemen who were in attendance. (I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, as I had to scan the photo in because, of course, I couldn’t find the file containing the photo on our computer):
What is it like to raise children when your husband has a job that demands rigorous training and travel schedules during a huge junk of the year?
Well, since Scott is no longer playing football, I dodged a major bullet with regard to having to juggle a difficult in-season playing schedule. Save for a few events he’s done with the NFL, we always travel together as a family.

IF your husband ever got traded to a different team where would you or have you picked as top cities?  
I’ll adapt that question and answer it as if he were still playing, and my answer is a simple one: I’d actually prefer that he never got traded. Scott played his entire career for the Lions, and since I’m from here (Michigan), I wouldn’t have had it any other way. There is one exception, though: I would be okay with him being traded to the New York Jets or New York Giants, and here’s why: Scott’s entire family lives in New Jersey, so if he were traded there, at least we’d be around family. I simply couldn’t fathom raising Scotty and Kennedy in the absence of any relatives.

What is your most hated task as a momma? 
What, you’re asking for only one? I can think of two right off the bat: Folding laundry and cleaning up after my son’s spaghetti dinners. Our kitchen table ends up looking like a crime scene. There is red EV-ER-Y-WHERE.

I see you are a certified yoga instructor...any suggestions for a momma in her third trimester on best moves to stretch out?
Yes! Excellent question! Here’s the thing: There really is no such thing as prenatal yoga. Yoga is yoga. There are, however, postures that an expectant mom should shy away from (i.e. after your first trimester, it is advised that you take Savasana (corpse pose) on your right side as opposed to lying flat on your back because doing so could impede blood flow to the uterus. And on the other hand, there are yoga postures that your body would find particularly beneficial during pregnancy (i.e. hip openers are your friend, and they felt sooooo good to practice during both of my pregnancies). My yoga practice didn’t change all that much when I was pregnant, and I actually graduated from yoga teacher training when I was in my second trimester with Scotty…and the photo below was taken in our backyard during my maternity shoot when I was five months pregnant with him:
And while I was pregnant with Kennedy, I taught yoga up until my seventh month – and I had only stopped doing headstand by then because I had gained so much weight that it had become difficult to remain in the posture for any length of time without falling over! Furthermore, I taught pregnant women in my regular yoga classes all the time, and they fit right in. My greatest suggestion to you would be to study and/or attend class under the direction of an instructor who has experience teaching women who are expecting. Furthermore, take it easy, and listen to your body. Yoga is not a competition. It’s about the breath, and if you are overexerting yourself – which you need to avoid at all costs – your breath will let you know.

Being a blogger means our lives revolve around social media - it's probably worse with a husband in the spotlight - what is your most loved and hated part of social media in your life?
Actually, blogging alone keeps one tied to social media enough – so I can’t actually say that having an NFL spouse makes it worse – at least not in my experience. But I would say the aspect I’ve come to love the most about social media is the fact that everything you do has the ability to garner a response in an instant. It’s really cool when you post a blurb on Facebook, and then, seconds later, one of your readers comments or “likes” it….but, then, that can also be the worst when it’s time to unplug and you can’t because you think you’re missing out on something. It’s all about striking a balance. And it’s something I’m working on.

What is the biggest "perk" of being an NFL wife?  It can be getting invited to events or preferred treatment when you travel...anything goes!
Honestly? It’s having a built-in platform. Because of the tremendous popularity and influence the NFL yields, people tend to listen to what you have to say, and this can be particularly beneficial when it comes to philanthropy or being a champion of a cause you care deeply about. And it’s something I take very seriously. Being a football family, Scott and I both care deeply about supporting the efforts of USA Football’s Heads Up program. Scott is an ambassador, and I blog for them twice a month. We recently attended our first USA Football Parent/Player Football Clinic, which was also sponsored by the NFL and ESPN:
USA Football aims to make the game safer for youth. As the mother of a son who is likely going to play football, I want nothing more than for the game to be as safe as it can. The other perk of being an NFL wife is when you’re out somewhere and encounter a fan of your husband. No lie, I got my eyes checked a while ago, and the receptionist recognized my last name because she and her family have been life-long Lions fans, and they remember watching Scott play. Here’s the thing: Although I’ve never made it to the professional level, I spent my youth playing sports – and I know how hard it is to make it to the highest level: You can be talented, but that alone isn’t enough to make it to the NFL; you can be strong, but strength alone isn’t enough; you can really, really want it, but wanting it alone isn’t enough. I think it’s a combination of all of the above – and more – that gets you there, and even then, only .218 % of American men make it to the NFL. So it’s nice when you meet a fan who says something nice about how they enjoyed watching your husband play.

I love that you've written for "Chicken Soup for the Soul" you have a favorite?
That’s a toughy. I’m going to have to go with my first story, Prince of Pleasure, which was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: What I Learned from the Dog in 2009: 
At the time, I was working in a career that I thoroughly disliked and I wanted nothing more than to break free and make a go at a serious writing career…and getting published in Chicken Soup for the Soul signified the beginning of that. 

We know each NFL team has its "rival" but are you as competitive in the football world as your husband?  Do you have a NFL team you "booooo"? (P.S. My husband's is the Steelers ha,ha)
Nope. As boring as it may sound, I don’t boo any NFL teams. Scott and I both share a philosophy: “All in the family,” meaning all 32 teams belong to the same NFL family.  Yeah, we’re ride-or-die Lions fans – and will be for life: I was born and raised in Michigan, and Scott played here for his entire NFL career. I’m incredibly loyal to the Lions. But I also encourage others to support their NFL teams. The cheering, the bantering, that’s what makes it fun.

If you were at least mildly entertained by the responses to Penny's questions, 
please feel free to throw this Mama a"like" on Facebook, will ya? Thanks!

And if you'd like to enter our current giveaway for 
fabulous all-natural, sulfate-free soaps, click here!
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How I lost my baby weight with NFL Play60

All the pregnancy advice books tell you that, after the baby is born, you can kiss goodbye a good night's sleep for the foreseeable future.

They also tell you that, after the baby is born, alone time with your husband or significant other will be scant, at best.

But what they don't prepare you for is the harsh realization that losing the baby weight may be easy as pie after your first pregnancy, but can be slow, laborious, and downright excruciating after your second.

I had gained over 70 pounds with my second pregnancy. And, frankly, after the dust had settled and the shine of bringing my newborn home from the hospital had worn off, I'm not going to lie -- I was unhappy with my body. There. I admit it. And what with all the images of celebrities who are somehow able to fit back into their size 2 skinny jeans by the time the nurse's aide wheels them to the valet drop-off, I know I'm not the only one who has felt this way.

But I had bigger fish to fry than moping about the circumference of my thighs: I had to feed, bathe, and entertain two kids under the age of three all while tending to the dirty laundry that was multiplying like wet Gremlins. 

Another priority was instilling in my children the importance of living a healthy, active lifestyle -- especially in this day and age when tablets, computers, and iPhones are king. My husband and I both know the invaluable benefits of daily exercise -- he's a former NFL offensive lineman, and I am a former athlete myself who has since become a certified yoga instructor. 

Both our son, Scotty, and daughter, Kennedy, were born in September -- and we live in Michigan -- so we were very fortunate to still have a good two months of decent weather left before the cold set in.

I made a point to take them outside for at least an hour every single day. 

Which is precisely the mission of NFL Play60. Play60, which the NFL has dubbed movement for an active generation, aims to make the next generation of youth the most active and healthy. Launched in October 2007 to tackle childhood obesity, the youth health and fitness campaign focuses on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day. In addition to national outreach and online programs, NFL Play60 is implemented at the grassroots level through NFL's in-school, after-school and team-based programs. The NFL Play60 initiative is supported by many NFL players and coaches year round and to date, the NFL has dedicated over $200 million to youth health and wellness through NFL Play60. Here's one of my favorite NFL Play60 commercials featuring Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton:

Meanwhile, I was simply trying to walk a mile or two around our neighborhood while pushing the double stroller. After I got my walk in, I'd let Scotty frolic in the leaves, scavenge for rocks and acorns or kick his soccer ball around while I wore Kennedy, barely two months, in a baby carrier. And here's the best part, at least as far as the circumference of my thighs is concerned: My children are too young to play outside by themselves, so whatever Scotty did -- and wherever he went -- I was right behind him, with a 12-pound weight strapped to my chest, I might add.

I watched what I ate and made wiser choices, yes, but because I was nursing (and plan to continue until Kennedy is about 18 months), I wasn't able to skimp on calories. (If I was able to eat less, I imagine the weight would have come off even faster.) And I didn't work out in the conventional sense, either, and I had taken a hiatus from teaching yoga: After tending house, caring for two small kids, and blogging, there simply wasn't anything left in the tank at the end of the day.

Simply put, I credit my weight-loss success to playing outside with my children. It didn't happen over night, but it did happen, and by the time the spring rolled around, I was back in my regular jeans.
With Scotty and Kennedy being a tad older this summer, we were able to implement daily trips to the playground or our community's water park in addition to Scotty riding his bike down the sidewalk and Kennedy strolling up and down the driveway in her walker.

Ensuring that your child gets adequate exercise outside is easier in the summer months, sure. But there are still several weeks left to enjoy the great outdoors with them. You can use the certificate below as a way of emphasizing the importance of their commitment to get outside and stay healthy:
To access and print your own NFL Play60 certificate, click here, and to learn more about NFL Play60, click here.

Okay. Enough reading. Get outside!

If you've enjoyed this post, throw this mama a "like" on Facebook, will ya? Thanks.

...And if you want somethin' for nothin', click here to check out 
the awesome all-natural homemade soap giveaway we've got going on at the moment. 
Thank You.
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Monday, September 8, 2014

A man and his underwear: It's an ugly thing.

I have tried to understand, Lord knows I have, but I can't figure it out. And there's no gentle way to ask, so I'm just going to cut to the chase.

What is it with men and the condition -- or lack thereof -- of their underwear? Why is it that a man's underwear can develop more holes than a badminton racket, but men are, apparently, physically unable to part with this particular undergarment that is worse for the wear?

And the kicker is, a man's outerwear may give nary a clue to what lies beneath. His shirt can be ironed, his trousers professionally cuffed, and his shoes so clean you could practically lick the soles.

But, oh, the underwear. 

And it's not as if a man doesn't have options. I know we women -- wives, girlfriends, heck, even mothers -- are the first to spring for new pairs of underwear as requisite Father's Day and Christmas gifts. And to our dismay, sometimes these new packages of underwear never even see the light of day. They are passed over for the 'ol standbys -- the kind of underwear that a mother warns one should never be caught dead in for fear that that will be the day that we'll be run over by a Mack truck.

I know of what I speak here. I've gained extensive knowledge of this subject over the years, which has mostly come from washing and folding laundry. I'm not going to call anybody out (trust me, I do have names of various offenders), because that would just be wrong. But the general consensus is that so long as the elastic band is able to hold said underwear up around their waist, then men deem the pair worth keeping.

But in all fairness, I can't very well host an honest discussion about this epidemic without allowing The Other Side to weigh in. So here's The Hub's take:

"It’s all about the ventilation. The holes allow you to breathe and feel free. It’s like a fine automobile: It doesn’t feel right until it’s got some wear and tear on it. So guys, be proud, stay strong, and keep wearing those old reliables. And to the ladies, hands off and keep washing 'em. ”

Um, okay. Whatever.

Look, if someone were to randomly tag me to strip down to my undergarments on any given day, I'm not saying my that my bra and panties would be Victoria's Secret runway ready, either.

But I can tell you this much: At least all of my bits would be covered. I can in no way conceive of wearing a bra that is so riddled with holes that the twins would slip through two of them and hang free, thereby making my bra resemble a wearable sling-shot.

The same can't be said for men.

I've come to find that the process of underwear disintegration is a gradual one. But, regardless of the man, it remains the same. It starts innocently enough with one or two holes near the crotch, and then spreads wildly -- no, violently -- like a bad case of psoriasis.

Here is the process in photos:
Exhibit A.: After months and months of wear, tiny holes begin to emerge in the nether regions of the undergarment.

Exhibit B.: With continued wear, of course, the holes have no choice but to grow even larger.

Exhibit C.: And this is where the wheels begin to fall off. As you can see in the photo above, the holes have widened, and it is all downhill from here...

Exhibit D.: And this is where the bottom falls out -- both literally and figuratively. A note to men everywhere: When your underwear's holes grow large enough to accommodate a second pair of quadriceps, then you might want to consider retiring said pair and buying anew.

(And for the record, the underwear in this post does not belong to Scott. But I can neither confirm nor deny the source of these photos.)

I am issuing a challenge to women everywhere: Let's spare our men the embarrassment, and conduct a mass purging of these pitiful artifacts. When the coast is clear, let's rise up, raid our man's dresser drawers, and put these shreds of material in their rightful place:

In the trash.

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Thank You.
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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Letter to My Son on His Third Birthday

Dear Scotty,

You’re only three years into this thing called life, but if you had a better command of the English language – or access to Blogger, I bet you’d have a few choice words for me...

You’d probably tell me that you are more than mildly irritated that I have blogged about your heavily-soaked diapers, your idiosyncrasies with regard to your afternoon nap schedule, or your thin yet sharp-as-tacks fingernails. And I bet that if you had a blog of your own, you’d retaliate by regaling readers on the condition of my ratty nursing tank tops, my less-than-pleasant morning breath, and how I double-dip my spoon in the peanut butter jar when (I think) nobody’s looking.  

Okay, touché.

But that’s when I’d lovingly remind you that every so often, I cool it with the depreciating humor, unabashedly bear my heart, and declare how you are, unequivocally, one of the best things to ever happen to me.

This is one of those posts.

I remember when you were, oh, say, about three months or so, it would take several attempts to put you down for an afternoon nap. But really, I didn’t mind. I rather enjoyed the closeness we shared as I walked around your room, bouncing you in my arms until you finally dozed off. In fact, I confess that I held you a little longer than I needed to because I simply didn’t want to put you down. The cadence of your breath was almost music-like; your soft, fleshy cheek felt like marshmallows nestled against my shoulder; and your chubby feet looked like two half-moons stuffed inside a pair of white socks.

A year later, we shared a similar experience: You fell asleep while we watched Bubble Guppies together; your head against my arm, and your right palm flush against my swollen, pregnant belly, as if you were already welcoming your unborn baby sister. (Of course, you were thinking What exactly is going on here? when Dad brought you to the hospital to meet her for the first time. But all things considered, you’ve taken well to becoming a big brother – save for your inability to share certain toys. We’ll have to work on that, kid.)

What a difference another year makes. Today I held that same palm as we headed off to another morning of playgroup. You are still a bona fide Mama’s Boy, yes. But you’re welcoming your independence more and more each day, and the enthusiasm that emanated from you like vapors as you skipped across the parking lot was bitter sweet: While I am happy to see you grow, I am also a little sad that I am losing my little boy.

When I looked – truly looked – at your small hand, your life flashed before my eyes. I wondered what that hand would one day hold, where it would take you, and what it would enable you to do…

In the coming year – which I predict will go way too fast – that hand will draw, paint, or color one-of-a-kind artwork which I will herald as the best masterpiece known to mankind and promptly tape to the cabinets in the nook.

A few years after that, I’ll hover over that same hand at the kitchen table as I help you with your homework…and then slap it high five when you come home from school and tell me how well you did on a test.

More years will pass, and it is my hope that by then that hand will have experienced the enjoyment of philanthropy – maybe it’ll help build a home or serve food to someone in need.

Career-wise, perhaps you’ll find yourself in medicine, the arts, or somewhere in between. Regardless, I pray that your hand will contribute to work that is not only gratifying but fun.

Then, before long, you’ll be all grown up. Maybe you will have even been bitten by the love bug, prompting that hand to ask for someone else’s in marriage. That is, if I haven’t already ruined your chances by writing embarrassing blog posts about your infancy. And if that turns out to be the case, I’m sorry. But if she runs for the hills before really getting to know you, then she wasn’t The One anyway.

Now, where were we? Oh, right. Your hand.

When I kiss the palm of that hand – you do realize I will continue to do this until you go away to college, right? – I still can’t believe my good fortune. Frankly, I marvel at the fact that I helped make it.

It is my best artwork.



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Monday, September 1, 2014

Closets I Love – Jordana Brewster

Here's the thing about me and fashion: I love it, but I in no way consider myself a "fashionista." The looks that I gravitate toward the most are, in fact, ones that involve simple, comfortable pieces that would serve me well in my unexceptional life as mom. I like things that are easy to put on and take off, things that wash well, and things that, beyond all else, feel good.

Which is exactly what actress Jordana Brewster looks to be wearing here.

But there's a twist: The mustard-colored cut-offs, pairing a long sleeve button down with's unconventional, but it works. (What you don't see here is that she finishes the look with a pair of tan Birkenstock Gizeh sandals.) But the accessories -- the crossbody Hermes Eveylene bag, matching belt, and classic black shades all conspire to give polish to an otherwise very basic ensemble.

Here are two more hits from Jordana:

Apparently, Jordana isn't one of those wear-it-only-once celebrities because she has been getting some mileage out of that crossbody bag -- and that shirt appears to be the same one she's wearing in the first photo. I really like the espadrilles and the long, flowing skirt.

Now, Mama really digs this look here: A simple sheath dress, nude sandals and a classic black leather tote. Perfection. (I even like her eyewear, although that's one component of this look that I'd probably pass on.

About Closets I Love: I could spend hours (and have) on the Web searching for celebrity candid photos, which inspire me to create new looks from clothes I may already own. In this series The Look, I share some of my favorite celebrity photos.)

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