• Amazing People,  Childhood Memories,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Go Big Or Go Home Didn’t Start With Me

    I would be hard-pressed to find just one favorite picture of my mom, because there are so many. There’s the one that used to hang in my Grandma’s house: mom wearing her ballet shoes and posing on pointe so beautifully. There are the black and white ones: her wearing knee-high white boots with a skirt/blouse vest outfit that is so 1960’s it hurts, and just hanging out with my dad next to one of their many VW Beetles. There’s the one that was staged by her wedding photographer: mom, the young bride, pulling twenty-dollar bills out of my dad’s jacket pocket. There’s the one of mom, my sister and I…

  • Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    My Mom Is Pretty And Other Mantras

    Although I wouldn’t say that I’m a worrier by nature, I do sometimes grab onto an idea or a situation and mentally wring it out for all it’s worth. My latest worry is the quality of my skin. I know how it started. Two things: 1. I recently remembered for no reason whatsoever that I will turn forty-six years old this fall. I’ve never been one to freak out about aging and I’m still not, but the fact that starting in November I will be in my “upper forties” instead of my “mid-forties” gave me pause for a moment (and yes, technically I think forty-four to forty-six is probably still…

  • Childhood Memories,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Grade School Actress

    Here’s something you likely didn’t know about me: I was once an actress. That’s right, from first grade through third grade, I spent a lot of time on the stage at Dogwood School* in Park Forest, Illinois. Well, it wasn’t actually a stage. The school didn’t have a stage. Instead, we used one end of the gym. Anyway, I played parts like one of the Native Americans in a Thanksgiving play, Betsy Ross, and my favorite, Earth. As in, the entire planet. I was the whole world. The play, produced when I was in first grade, was called “A Family in Space”. I found the actual script last night when…

  • Food,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    I’ll Do It If She Will.

    One of my favorite things to eat (besides steak) has always been movie popcorn with extra butter. I know it’s horrible nutritionally, but it tastes so good. I literally did a happy dance years ago when one of our local theaters installed the “butter-your-own-popcorn” stations because, you know, extra butter. Related: those stations can be dangerous for someone like me. I can out-eat anyone when it comes to movie popcorn with extra butter. Well, except for maybe one person: my mom. If my mom and I were each given a bucket of movie popcorn, buttered just the way we like it, I would be hard pressed to guess who could…

  • Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Family Fun,  Favorite Things,  Food,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Kid Has Mad Skillz,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz,  Review

    Birthday Traditions: Make A Cake And Eat It, Too.

    A couple of weeks ago we celebrated J’s 17th birthday. SEVENTEEN. As in, “My younger–and last born–son is seventeen.” It would be really hard for me to believe if there weren’t a trail of rainbow-colored crumbs all over our family photo albums*. You see, around here birthdays mean one thing: beautifully decorated rainbow cakes (the insides are tinted in various colors). It’s a tradition my mom started, and what I love about it is the thought that goes into it, resulting in the birthday honoree feeling extra special. I remember how creative my mom was with birthday cakes when we were kids. Over the years, she made me a Holly…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  Food,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Old Habits Die Hard.

    When he was little, J–like so many other young kids–had a strong aversion to bread crust. Unfortunately for him, I had a strong aversion to making a sandwich and then cutting off the crusts for my kid. Call me mean if you want, but I just figured that if he didn’t like the bread crust that much, he could just eat around it. I did help him out a little bit, though, by cutting his sandwiches into quarters on the diagonal. This way, he could nibble what he considered “the good stuff” all the way down to the crust. That picture above, though? That was my sandwich, from yesterday’s lunch.…

  • Childhood Memories,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Creative Parenting 101: Put Your Kids To Work

    Some of the best (and funniest) moments in parenting for me have been when I suddenly figured out why my parents did something a certain way when raising my sister and me. Let me give you an example. Our mom loves to put on garage sales. LOVES. I don’t think she’s a fan of the work (sorting, pricing, displaying) before the sale–not too many people are, I imagine–but she loves making money from stuff she’s had sitting around the house (and who wouldn’t love that?). Back in the 70’s when we were kids in the south suburbs of Chicago, Mom had a couple of garage sales each year. Each time,…

  • I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Kid Has Mad Skillz,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz

    Two Cars For One Sixteen-Year-Old

    Yesterday was a pretty exciting day around here: J turned sixteen. As you know, sixteen is a huge milestone for a teenager, with the ability to get a driver’s license and all. J will be taking his driver’s test at the end of the month, because he still has about 7 permit hours to go, and the nine-month permit period isn’t over yet. At ANY rate, I thought–especially since we are not the type of parents who would buy our kids a car at sixteen, even if we could afford it–that I would make his traditional rainbow cake in the shape of a car. Taking the idea even further, I…

  • I've Got Mad Skillz,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  My Dad Has Mad Skillz,  My Kids Have Mad Skillz,  My Mom Has Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    Parenting Secrets From Behind the Tiara

    I wrote this post a couple of years ago, for a friend who needed a guest post on her blog. She has since shut down her site, so I thought I’d post it here! My husband Jim and I are successful parents. Really. If we were in Oprah’s magazine, our mad parenting skillz would be featured on her “What I Know For Sure” page. Of course we are not the only successful parents in the world, but we’re the only ones that matter…to our kids. I am happy to report that our boys are fine, upstanding young men–and it’s not only because we think so: that’s the general consensus from…