A Letter to My Daughter on her 13th Birthday


Dear Vivien,

As of 7:20 this morning, you are officially a teenager. I’m as excited about that as I am scared. You’ve got so many amazing milestones coming up … starting with your elementary school graduation today (how many kids get to graduate on their birthdays?), a new school in the fall and maybe even a few dance dates next year. (We’re going to have to medicate your poor dad on those weekends. I’m not sure he’ll be able to stand it.)

You were a pretty easy baby, arriving only one day before your due date after a mere five hours of labor. Being a younger sibling, you were (and still are) determined to do everything at the same time as your older sibling. I’ll never forget the first time your brother, an overprotected first-born, had gum. He was five years old. You know when you first had gum? Three seconds later when two-year-old you who was sitting next to him at the time demanded it. I guess that’s not uncommon for younger siblings. Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself all these years.

Irish novelist and playwright Oscar Wilde (you’ll learn about him in high school) once said, ‘With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.” In other words, don’t be in too much of a hurry to grow up. As someone with probably a little more age than wisdom, I’d like to impart some of the more important things I’ve learned (and am still learning) in my lifetime.

If you’ll indulge me just a moment …

Brush your teeth. I’ve been telling you this one for as long as I can remember. But there’s a reason. If I could do it all over again, I’d work harder to have way less metal in my mouth. You only get one set of adult teeth. (And at such an early age. Seriously, that’s a poor design.) Treat them better than you’d treat your own jewelry.

Keep up with your school work. If your assignment is to go home and read The Taming of the Shrew, do it. Once you fall behind, it’s almost impossible to catch up again. And no amount of Spark Notes and chatter with classmates will serve as a replacement for simply doing the work. Plus you might actually like the book. They don’t call them classics for nothing.

Avoid girl drama. I cannot emphasize this one enough. I know gossip can be tempting. And sometimes even entertaining. But it’s not worth it. And you will always feel bad when you allow yourself to give in to it. Take the high road, smile politely and excuse yourself from the table to get something to drink. Chances are, when you come back they’ll be onto another subject.

Do not cut off all your hair because you’re having a bad day. This sentence could also have started with “Do not perm your hair because … yada yada yada.” When you wake up the next morning, whatever’s troubling you will likely have lessened and things will be way better if you’re not looking at them through a fuzzy mop top.

Learn to eat well. Truth? I’m still learning on this one. (Pathetic, right?) By “well,” I don’t mean everything has to be kale and carrots. Eating well means learning to balance the healthy with the indulgent … everything in moderation. Extreme behavior never works and will set you up for a lifetime of food struggles. Do yourself a favor and adopt a healthy lifestyle now.

Trim the fat. If there’s someone in your life who’s causing you nothing but stress and unhappiness, find a way to eliminate them from your circle. Surround yourself with people you can trust. People who can make you laugh until you choke on your own spit. Or cry until your face is swollen to twice its size. These are the people you’ll take with you for the entirety of your life.

Do not let boys control you in any way. I’m sorry. I know your dad is a boy. And your brother. And grandfather, etc. But I guarantee they would all agree with me. Teenage boys are notoriously stupid. They take risks and act without thinking. A lot. And they pressure others to join them in these foolish endeavors. Please remember that no boy is worth doing something you know isn’t a good idea.

Which reminds me …

If I couldn’t be there beside you

watching whatever it is that you’re doing,

it’s probably a bad idea.

 

Please find another activity.

 

The bottom line is … so far, you’ve been a wonderful daughter who has made me proud to be your mother (almost) every day now for thirteen years. Do I expect the same greatness in the coming years? Hell to the yes, I do. Do I expect you to stumble and make mistakes from time to time? Well, unfortunately, that’s also a yes. But know that I’ll be waiting for you … every time you fall … to help you get up and dust yourself off again. That’s a promise you can take to the bank. Like my own mother, I plan to be there for my children until my time here is done.

So please know that whether you’re struggling over an English exam, a big promotion at your glamorous job or even a new baby one day, I will always be there for you. You (and your brother) are my absolute pride and joy. And there is literally nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

Happy Birthday.

Happy Graduation.

Happy Just to Be Your Mother.

Love,
Mom


“Children make your life important.”
– Erma Bombeck

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Mamakat writing prompt: Share a lesson you learned from your Mother that still sticks with you to this day.

“I plan to be there for my children until my time here is done.”

 

Seen this award-winning film yet? Maybe I can help.


Just a few days ago, I was contacted by my friends at Grace Hill Media about conducting another movie promotion. I was reluctant. This week is a crazy busy one for my family. In addition to a sizable freelance job I’m working on in every spare minute, it’s also final exams for both of my kids as well as my daughter’s birthday and her elementary school graduation. I really, really didn’t want to add anything else.

But then my friend Gary at Grace Hill said two said words: American Sniper.

I stopped what I was doing to reply simply “I’m in.”

To quote Gary’s email to me, “Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-nominated adaptation of Chris Kyle’s autobiography is moving and meaningful filmmaking, depicting the heroism of both the service member in combat and the family left stateside. It is not an easy film to watch, given its subject matter, but it is, I believe, an essential film to watch to help us better understand the cost, to those on the battlefield and on the home front, of the freedoms we hold so dear.”

American Sniper hits stores Tuesday, May 19 … just in time for Memorial Day. But I might be able to save you the trip. Because I’m giving away a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack to one lucky reader.

CLICK HERE for a chance to win.

Enter daily until 12:00AM on 5/24/15.

To the winner of the contest … I want to say congratulations in advance. And to everyone else … I want to encourage you to go pick up your own copy of the movie. Why? Because Warner Bros. is donating a dollar from each sale, up to $1 million, to the Wounded Warrior Project, a program that enlists public aid and provides direct services to meet the needs of our injured military personnel.

I can’t think of a better reason to buy the movie.


Oh, and one more thing …

Grace Hill was good enough to give me an extra copy of the film to gift to a special veteran in my life.

My friend, Mitzi, served as an AG2 (Aerographer’s Mate) aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in the U.S. Navy for five years.

Thank you, Mitzi, for your commitment.


To order American Sniper from Amazon.com, click here.

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It wasn’t on my Bucket List … but it SHOULD have been!


I had a little experience this week that was … well, it was too good to be true. I was in a fashion show. Me. And it wasn’t to work the lights or the sound board … or to clean up in the dressing rooms after the show. I WAS A MODEL, YOU GUYS! That may never happen in my life again.

So there was NO WAY I was going to miss the opportunity to write about it.

There were nine women, all mothers at my daughter’s school, in the show and we each modeled two different ensembles. As a nice, little perk, we all went to the venue early for hair by H20 (a local salon) and make-up by Chanel. And the ladies from the department store showed up with all of the clothes and accessories. Plus there were staff members from the venue serving food. And drinks. Seriously, there were as many people on the prep team waiting on us as there were models.

(I think I just found another reason to hate supermodels.)

Were we nervous, you ask?

Well, sure. So I did my best to calm everyone’s nerves by broadcasting a YouTube clip in the dressing room. I’m sweet like that. CLICK HERE to view it. (P.S. Do not view with kids in the room!)

But you know that? Despite my innate spazzery … and complete inability to walk in heels, I did it. WE did it. All of us. And nobody fell. Wanna see?

Every single person who sees this picture comments on the empty wine glass. Hello? That was not mine. If you look near me, you will see a champagne flute. And it is full. FULL! … But would later be emptied … twice.

A selfie that was probably taken a bit too close. (Damn my short limbs.) Thankfully, I’d already visited the make-up artist. And no. My hair is not done yet.

Backstage with friend and fellow model, Melissa. (P.S. When I texted this dolled-up picture of myself to Dave, what I got was “Is that my shirt?”)

So we converted Dave’s shirt into a graduation drape for the occasion. Hair before husband’s wardrobe, right?   

Ready to get our runway on!
Feet … plus legs, arms, bladder, intestinal system and other potentially hazardous body parts … don’t fail me now!

Headed down in the elevator with friend and fellow model, Vanessa.

  
Holy crap, I’m next!

 
All the fabulous models in the show.

 
It’s over. We did it. We can finally join the party. I’m ready to EAT! (That’s the difference between me and a real supermodel.) (Fine. There are probably several differences.)

Why does the best picture I take always have to be the one that looks like it’s haunted by a demonic spirit?

It was a fun night. Would I do it again? Absolutely. In a second. Only this time, I’d take those freaking heels off AS SOON AS I finished the show. It’s been two days and my feet still hurt!

And I call myself a girl.

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For Mamakat’s writing prompt: Go back in time and choose a different career path for yourself. What do you choose?

It’s a shame I didn’t CHOOSE this profession for myself, isn’t it? Because that’s the only reason I’m not modeling now. Because I didn’t CHOOSE to do it. At 5’3″ tall. And 100-and-mind-your-own-damned-business-pounds.

Pity.

The Mystery of the Illegible Grocery List


My part of the world has always taken the term “April showers” very seriously. Today was no exception. There was severe lightning, there was hail, there was flooding and there was excessive, driving, sideways rain … all wrapped up in a tornado warning. And I … I was at the grocery store in the midst of all of it. With a basket FULL of assorted, paper-packaged, refrigerator-requiring shit.

I’m such a dumb ass.

Loading AND unloading my car full of groceries has never been a wetter, more harrowing and I’m-guessing-hilarious-to-watch experience in my life. I was truly afraid I was going to struck by lightning today. Thank goodness for people. And humor. And … you know what? Let me back up a little bit.

When I first started grocery shopping, everything was business as usual. It was a little dark outside, but I knew I could get it done quickly. I navigated the aisles like an Olympic skier trying to finish off my handwritten list and get through the check out line before the skies opened.

All was going according to plan until I came to the very last item on my list. I stared at it intently for a few minutes and finally just laughed out loud (maniacally, of course) at the mystery I’d created for myself. Then naturally, like any responsible adult caught in a tornado warning, I turned to Facebook and wrote this post.

In the interest of time and my own personal safety, I decided to dismiss it for the time being and ran to the check out line so I could get home as soon as possible. Imagine my surprise when, after loading bag after bag into my car in the pouring rain and then UNloading it all again at my house, I saw all the responses I’d gotten to that post. There I stood in my kitchen surrounded by saturated, distintegrating cardboard packaging. I was so wet that my underwear and bra were actually dripping.  And all I could do was laugh.

Take a look.

You people are hilarious!!!

I should add that … for the record … my disgraceful, physician-writing-a-prescription-style handwriting is reserved only for personal things like grocery lists. My real penmanship is totally legible and has even been complimented on occasion.

Oh, and a few of you actually guessed right, by the way. The mystery grocery item on my list was in fact ….

For the record, I never figured it out at the store. But they were on sale (two for one!), so I guess fate … or the Winn-Dixie gods … intervened today.

You guys are the best. The comments are still coming in. Thanks for the laughs!

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Ever Ingested 100 Things in One Day? I have.


Summer is almost here. I can see it, smell it, feel it. Remember I live just 2,000 miles from the equator. The humidity here is visible to the naked eye. So I’ve started thinking about shorts, summer dresses and (shudder) bathing suits. I really need to get in shape. And I need start taking better care of myself.

(rolling eyes at self … which is harder to do than you would think)

I say that every year. And every year I do it. Kinda. Because I diet. I cut calories. I cut fat. But inevitably, I wind up binging on too many 100-calorie packs of junk food and other novelty fat-free snacks. And missing out on nutritious things like fruit and vegetables because I don’t want to “waste” my limited calories. Which means I’m shortchanging myself from valuable vitamins and nutrients in search of lower numbers on the scales (hanging head) I know better. Shame on me. How can you even LOOK at me right now?!!?

Enter Vivia Formula’s VF-360 defense system*

The quirky little video below explains it all rather well. But I should add that, although the man’s name in the video is Dave and he has an orange cat, this initially-vitamin-deficient dude has nothing to do with my husband. Or my orange cat, Milo.

Um … is it just me or did Dave get lucky at the end of this video?

I was totally jazzed when Vivia selected me to review their product. It’s just what I need to jumpstart my health movement and know I’m covered nutritionally. Like it said in the video (the video that I know you watched and didn’t just skip, right?), the complete system comes in three bottles:

  1. The morning supplement gets you moving with countless traditional vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, D3, E, B2, B6 and B12 as well as calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, etc.
  2. The noon supplement keeps you going with a wealth of earthy nutrients including acai berry, goji berry, blueberry leaf, lemongrass root, ginger root, shitake mushroom powder, etc.
  3. The night supplement helps you wind down with valuable and often neglected superfoods such as spirulina algae powder, green tea leaf extract, dandelion root, pomegranate fruit extract, etc.

All in all, I counted nearly 100 different vitamins and minerals in the four-day course.

Seriously?!!?

Do YOU have time to seek out a centuplicate of DIFFERENT nutrients every day?

Well, of course you don’t. Because you’re a normal person, right? So just do what I did. Get everything you need every day in three bottles. I’ve taken Vivia VF-360 dietary supplements religiously for two weeks now. I’m a regular vitamin taker anyway so trying this system was an easy decision for me. And I love them because they take all the label comparison and guesswork out of the equation.

Here are just a few of the things Vivia has kept me from having to worry about for the past 14 days:

  • how much of each vitamin I’m getting versus the RDA (recommended daily allowance)
  • what time of day is optimum for each nutrient
  • what nutrients should be taken together for maximum absorption
  • skipping breakfast

Confession: I skip breakfast. A little. Well … a LOT. Fine … almost every day. (Geez, stop needling me!) But … by signing on with Vivia, it has “regimented” me into having a small, healthful breakfast every single day now for 14 days. Sure, that’s an indirect benefit but, for me personally, it’s huge!

But enough about me. The only person who enjoys reading about that is my mom. (Hey,  Mom. Did you catch Grey’s Anatomy last night?) Interested in trying the system for yourself.  I’ll give you TWO ways:

1. Purchase at a discount. Visit viviaformula.com and enter 360B2G1F at checkout for FREE merchandise … as in BUY TWO PACKS and GET THE THIRD FREE.

OR

2. CLICK HERE TO WIN until Thursday, April 30, 2015. There are lots of ways to score entries, some daily. And tell your friends! (Unless you don’t want them to win. Which is pretty unsportsmanlike if you ask me).


 Good luck, everyone!

* Made in the USA in an FDA-approved cGMP facility

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Thanks, Blake Lively, for teaching me a valuable lesson


Guess where I went yesterday? Have you seen this trailer?

Last night, I took a break from my normal life to attend a special preview of The Age of Adaline with my 12-year-old daughter, Vivien. She’s been wanting to see it since the trailers first came out. And, of course, it’s rated PG-13. For that reason, I was a little concerned about taking her to a movie I knew so little about. But I talked to Dave and showed him the trailer. And we finally decided just to let go and assume good things would follow. Actually, that’s sort of the whole message in the movie. Eventually.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to give anything away.

Blake Lively, who I’ve heard of but never seen in anything before (because I am SO not the Gossip Girl-type) did a nice job of portraying a pretty old broad “trapped” in a young person’s body. Of course, when I first saw the premise, I thought “Oh, yeah. That would really suck. No wrinkles, no grays, no saggy boobs. Talk to me when you have real problems, Adaline … or whatever alias you’re sporting at the moment.”

Nonetheless, I liked the movie. Quite a lot actually. Sure, it made a few convenient choices. And there was a coincidence or two that was truly mind blowing. But, despite its silly shortcomings, the movie does, in fact, make you stop and think. And, if I’m being completely honest, cry … just a little bit. Because I’m a mom. And probably also because I’m a little hormonal at the moment. (“At the moment” meaning daily.) Because as a daughter and a sister and a wife and a mother and a friend, all I kept thinking about was ….

How could you ever allow yourself to love anyone if you knew you would always have to watch them die before you?

Never mind her fear of probing scientists or her woes about living like a refugee and needing to reinvent herself every decade. I think the choice to witness the loss of every single person I ever loved OR be alone for eternity would literally do me in. No, thanks, fountain of youth. I’ll gladly welcome the aging process. (pause for reflection) It’s an interesting movie. Definitely worth the price of the ticket. Plus, according to Vivien, you just can’t get popcorn like that anywhere else in the world.

I so love that kid.


The Age of Adaline

It’s like Benjamin Button with a side of Dorian Gray and just a hint of Groundhog Day … all thrown into a blender and poured into a tall, blonde glass.


“Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years.” – Ausonius

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Mamakat’s writing prompt – Write a post inspired by the word break.

 

Have you ever feared you were really someone else? No? Just me?


Something super weird happened to me this morning. The kids and I had to be somewhere shortly after lunch so we were getting dressed when off in the distance the house phone rang. (YES, I still have a house phone. U-Verse swears to me that my bill will actually go up if I turn it off. And NO, that doesn’t make sense to me either.)

Anyway, like all suspicious American families, we never answer the phone until we know who it is. I’ve been swindled into far too many surveys and donations that way. (Bah!) These days, it’s all about Caller ID. And my son was actually the first one to reach the screen and read it. I called out to him as I was running over, “Well?? Who is it?”

He just stared at the screen, looking very confused. “It’s … you.” (cue swell of creepy music)

“What? What do you MEAN it’s … wait, WHAT?!!?” I actually interrupted myself as my eyes focused on the phone’s screen. He was right. It listed my name and the very same phone number as the number it was calling. (bloodcurdling scream)

THE CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE PHONE!!

I can’t explain why this odd phenomenon actually frightened me, but it totally did. I literally backed away from the phone. How could I be calling myself AT the same number I was calling FROM? The whole thing was way too Being John Malkovich for my comfort level. So I fled the room in oddly-inappropriate terror.

Then I started thinking.

What if the person on the other end of the phone was the real Michele Robert Poche? What if I’m the imposter? I’ve been using her credit cards, wearing her clothes and even posing as her children’s mother. She is going to be pissed! Who the hell am I, anyway? And why did I steal this woman’s life?!!? Oh, my God, you guys! EVERYTHING I KNOW IS A LIE!!!

Then I Googled it and realized it was just the latest telemarketing scam. (cough) Crisis averted. (slinks out of room)

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Per MamaKat’s writing prompt: Write a blog post inspired by the word born.

In the words of David Hannum, “there’s a sucker born every minute.” You’re welcome to ALL of the other people born within my particular minute. Glad I could take one for the team.