2014 – Best Pictures & Posts (According to Me)


January

I revealed 5 of my favorite things. Spoiler: Only one of them was cheese.

February

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I sent a friendly warning to Josh Hutcherson, or JHutch as cool people like me call him.

March

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Fresh back from a trip to Disney World, I compared and contrasted my crew of four with the infamous Griswold family.

April

I pontificated on the evils of a 24/7 cupcake dispenser then secretly prayed one would open soon in New Orleans.

May

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I recounted an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction story from my youth and probably offended PETA a little in the process. (But it was an accident!)

June

Channeling my inner Dana Carvey, I identified the five things you need to be a church lady.

July

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I shared pictures of my trip to Memphis with my mom and daughter. (Which probably explains why I am suddenly craving a fried banana and peanut butter sandwich.)

August

I lamented the loss of one of Hollywood’s biggest talents.  This post was one of my most shared of all time.

September

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I contacted the Hot Pocket Corporation to get answers to some hard-hitting questions. It’s about time, isn’t it?

October

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I confessed to what is easily one of my biggest failures as a parent.

November

I faced one of my biggest fears head on and lived to tell about it.

December

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In celebration of my 20th anniversary, I reminisced about my wedding day.

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Written in response to MamaKat’s writing prompt asking for “A year in review! Compile a years worth of your best blog posts and pictures.” 

Happy 2015, everyone!

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My Look “Into the Woods” This Afternoon


I finally got to see Into the Woods today with my girl. It opened on Christmas Day and, frankly, I’m surprised I was able to wait five whole days to buy a ticket. For those who have been paying attention around here, you know that the two things I hold dearest in this life (besides my family) are cheese and theater, specifically of the musical variety. There just aren’t enough movie musicals released these days. So I was more than ready.

Did I like it? Well, of course, I did. But then, I’m a sucker for this stuff. I love well-crafted lyrics. And Mr. Sondheim seldom disappoints. Plus the actors (some more than others) really weaved their storylines together well for me. Oh, and I should add that it didn’t hurt that Johnny Depp made a significant albeit brief appearance in the film.

But the most eye-opening part of the whole experience for me came at a moment most unexpected. For just as when I watch a play or read a book (yes, I DO read books), I often find myself identifying with at least one character in every movie I see. It needn’t always be someone in my age bracket or even a female for that matter.

But did it have to be the witch?

(NOTE: If/when Dave reads this post, he’s going to roar with laughter. “YOU??? Identify with the witch? Oh, come on. That’s just impossible!” he’ll say with more sarcasm than Roseanne Barr … Chandler Bing … Willie Wonka. I should probably start thinking now about good comebacks.)

Anyway … when Meryl Streep sings a song called Stay With Me to her “adopted” daughter  … well, let’s just say it cut a little close to the bone for me.

My daughter is 12. This holiday was already a hard one. Add that to the fact that my 15-year-old son just had his first DRIVING LESSON and … oh, just fit me for my damned straitjacket now. Black, please. If I’m going to look insane, I might as well also look skinny.

So I guess in the world of Into the Woods, I am the witch. Because, as weird as it might make me sound to so many parents counting the days ’til their kids leave for college, I’d sell my soul to freeze us all in time right now so nobody would ever leave the nest. (pregnant pause) Fine. You know what? As long as I’m making ridiculous, impossible, completely illogical requests, I’ll wish the clock back about three years and THEN freeze it. Before their teenage hormones kicked in and they learned to talk back. Might as well shoot for perfection, right?

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My two cents? Catch the movie when you can. It’s a good one. And when you see the witch, think of me. Frizzy blue hair and all.

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An Open Letter to Santa-Weary Parents


Dear Friends,

It’s Christmas 2014 … and I’m facing my first holiday season as a parent with everyone “in the know.” It’s been coming for years. I actually cried in anticipation of it the past two Christmas Eves, appreciating how lucky I was to get just one more each of those years.

Sure, it’s a lot of work. And it can be stressful.  And exhausting. But isn’t it one of those things we live for as parents? Creating the magic and wonder of a well-executed Christmas morning. I absolutely love it. And I was good at it. If I do say so myself.

I became a parent in 1999, when my son Dean was born. We welcomed his sister, Vivien, into the fold in 2002. The first few years were easy. I could literally shop FOR them WITH them. All I had to do was distract them long enough to shove something into the basket or the bottom of the stroller, wink at the cashier to keep our little secret and I was good to go. They believed so deeply that I could even get a little sloppy and no one would ever be the wiser.

Our family dynamic was interrupted a bit in 2005 with Hurricane Katrina. (Yes, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of talking about it, too.) My kids were now 6 and 3 1/2, a little older and fully invested in all things Santa. Thanks to the storm, they found themselves with more license for new toys than ever before. We had to work around a few borrowed homes and living situations for a few years but Santa didn’t miss a beat. And my kids were happy.

Once we settled back into a home of our own, we were really able to develop and dive deeply into annual family traditions. I’m pretty proud of some of the things we did as a family … like making a homemade gift for both the mailman and the sanitation department every year or blessing our Christmas tree together after we finished decorating it. I knew that each one of these things was special and would be remembered for years to come and maybe even replicated in my children’s families when they were grown.

Christmas Eve was always the hardest. But it was always my favorite. We knew we had to wait to get to work until the kids were fully asleep. And every year, that hour got a little later. And we were lucky if they waited until 7am to wake us up the next day. That was the rule. “The sun needs to be up before you are on Christmas morning.” Of course, as soon as the first sliver of daylight appeared on the horizon, my kids (who had probably been awake and staring at their ceilings for hours already) would burst into the room to wake two sleepy parents who might have gotten a broken four hours the night before.

I decided a long time ago not to care. If I was tired, I knew the contagious adrenaline would carry me through the day. It always did.

And last year on Christmas morning, I’m really glad I took the time to soak it all in. I had a feeling it would be our last year hosting a “believer.” And, sadly, I was right.

It’s a different kind of Christmas this year. Everyone knows. Fortunately, my daughter is very entertained by the whole “you’ve gotta believe to receive” mantra. So she’s indulging me. “Wonder what Santa’s bringing me, Mom,” she says, with a wink and a hug. No, it’s not the same. It’s the end of an era. But it’s the beginning of another one. It’s a new kind of special.

Why am I taking the time to write all of this down? Because I want to encourage all of my younger, sleepier, more cantankerous counterparts of the world to take note. This year, when it’s after midnight, and you’re wearily nibbling cookies on an already full stomach, making hoof marks with your slippers in the scattered reindeer food outside in the cold, stuffing stockings until you’re afraid the seams will bust and creating a toy display that rivals anything FAO Schwarz has ever seen, think of me. And know that somewhere in the world someone is actually a little jealous of you and all the work you’re doing at that very moment. I urge you to treasure it and imprint it forever in your memory. Take my word for it. It’s something you’ll never want to forget.

Sincerely,

A Nostalgic Parent Who Has Reluctantly Crossed to the Other Side

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My kids and Santa

Then …

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… and now.

(2013 actually. My last one. Thanks for humoring me, Dean.)

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Just in time for (insert name of occasion you’re celebrating)!


Just in time for Christmas! Or Hanukkah! Or Winter Solstice, flu season, your cat’s birthday … whatever you’re observing this time of year! Mel and I have a gift for YOU, our wonderful readers.


Have your heard of the film entitled The Good Lie starring Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon? It’s coming out on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 23. But YOU don’t have to battle the malls to get it. Because, thanks to our friends at Grace Hill Media, YOU could win your very own copy right here!

I know, right?

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The movie tells the true-life story of the Lost Boys of Sudan, their lives torn apart by civil war, left to grow up in refugee camps, then given the opportunity through the efforts of church groups and other charities to embark on new lives in the U.S. And, in addition to Reese (Seriously, I can call her Reese by now, right?), the film features actual former Lost Boys from Sudan. Talk about injecting it with a huge dose of authenticity. But enough of my blathering on. Watch the clip. I’m sure it will hook you just like it did me.

And don’t just take my word for it. In addition to all of its positive press, when The Good Lie opened in theaters earlier this year, audiences polled by Cinemascore rated it an “A+.” In the last thirty years, only about 50 movies have received that prestigious honor. This is a good one. You want to see it.


ENTER THE CONTEST. WHO KNOWS? YOU JUST MIGHT WIN. I ONLY WISH MEL AND I HAD ENOUGH COPIES FOR EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU.

Click HERE to win.

THE CONTEST ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2014. READ THE RAFFLECOPTER CAREFULLY. THERE ARE LOTS OF WAYS TO ENTER AND SOME ARE DAILY!


So Happy Whatever-You’re-Celebrating. Please keep reading. And thank you for your support.

(Hey, Mel, we sound like those old wine cooler dudes. Ooh, I call Bartles!)

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Random Fun Facts from My Wedding – TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY!


I drank NOTHING. From my rehearsal dinner to my wedding night, I literally had nothing to drink. I even faked my champagne toast picture. I was so afraid I was going to have to pee in that dress that I completely boycotted liquids for 24 hours.  (Good plan, Michele.)

It was drizzling on my wedding day. Drizzling! Isn’t the whole point of a December wedding cool, dry, humidity-free weather? (Stupid curly hair.)

My dress was new and modeled after a picture I saw in a magazine. My veil was my mother’s made by my grandmother. My garters were made by my aunt. And because it was Christmas, the one I threw was holiday-themed. And my shoes and purse were just some cheap, vintage-looking stuff I found on my own.

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I still have them. And I’d still wear them if I didn’t think they’d disintegrate into powder the first time I put them on.

The band played the wrong song for our first couples dance. It was supposed to be Harry Connick Jr.’s I Could Write a Book. (Ironic, right?) But instead they played Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling in Love. And I was fit to be tied. (What an idiot.)

The band (AGAIN with the poor band) was instructed not to play any line dances. Dave and I don’t like line dancing. But they played Strokin’. My guests loved it. Dave and I did not. Nor did we dance. (Couple of jerks.)

The slice of cake I cut for the traditional photo was so ridiculously thin that we almost didn’t get the shot. (Seriously, was I dieting that day?)

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 I got better on the second one … also known as the one I never even tasted!

The photographer was determined to get the traditional handholding close-up shot with our new rings. Dave and I declined. More than once. The result was worse than any of us could ever have imagined. Between Dave’s nail-biting and my failure to get a wedding day manicure (or even paint my own stupid nails!), the picture was doomed before the button was ever clicked. (And I call myself a girl.)

As we ran out of the reception for our big exit, the last person I saw was my father. He had tears in his eyes. (I get it now, Dad.)

From the horse-drawn carriage ride we took after the reception in the French Quarter, Dave saw an old friend on the street. “Hey. Whatcha been up to, Dave?” called out the old friend. “Nothing really.” Then Dave stopped to think. “Well … except getting married!” he called back. (Nice save, Dave.)

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There we are, leaving the very same hotel we would be returning to later that night. Because you need to make a grand exit, right?

It seemed so uneventful to have everybody throw rice at us in the elevator. 

Of course, one of the coolest things about my wedding day was sitting around in the bar at the hotel in my wedding dress with my parents and other immediate family … after all the festivities were over at the end of the night … just having a drink. Finally!

I can’t believe it’s been TWENTY YEARS.

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Happy Anniversary, Dave.

(Photo #2 was a near casualty of Hurricane Katrina.)

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Here’s what 20 years looks like.

(What? Nobody ever said it would be pretty.)

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6 Unusual Things That Happened to Me Since My Last Post


1. Eric Lefkofsky at Groupon has ignored me. For now. But, in his defense, it is the busiest season of the year. Perhaps he’s just bogged down in holiday parties and shopping. Or maybe it’s his responsibility to move the elf in his house at night. That’s enough to make anyone crazy. Anyway, I’m sure he’s just trying to figure out what little gift he’s going to send along with his glowing reply. That’s GOT to be it. I am not giving up. Yet.

2. I attempted to rescue a small dog to return it to its family. I failed.

3. I attempted to help an elderly couple whose tire exploded right in front of me on the interstate. I succeeded.

4. My computer crashed. Utterly and completely. The one with ALL my written work, short stories, novel segments, articles, pictures, videos, etc. on it. Was it backed up? The next person who asks me that question loses an ear. Take my advice. Go back up your computers. Right now.

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5. I seem to have developed a minor tic in my left eye. Truthfully, it first presented itself earlier this fall. But, it’s been so pronounced lately, my eyelid could effect a category three hurricane. I’m not a therapist but I’m pretty sure it’s directly correlated to #4. (I need another cookie.)

6. I almost won $10,000. I wish I was kidding. 300 tickets were sold. And, one by one, each of those tickets was pulled from a barrel until only one remained. Guess what number I was? (I will pause here to build suspense) Number two. Number TWO! I’M NUMBER TWO! (Yes, I realize the irony of that statement.)

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So these were the final four. The two green squares were the last men standing. (Insert expletive here) My sincerest congratulations to the winner.

Because, seriously, who doesn’t need the money? (Sigh)

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A Letter to My (Crossing Fingers!) New Friends at Groupon


ATTN: Eric Lefkofsky, CEO

RE: Job Opportunities at Groupon


Dear Mr. Lefkofsky,

First of all, please allow me to pander, bootlick and gush obsequiously over your impressive organization. I love Groupon. I’ve been a loyal customer for years now. From indulging my inner turophile at the local fondue restaurant to nourishing my overworked tresses with the restorative proteins of Keratin to feeding my very soul with the musical stylings of the Polyphonic Spree, Groupon has been there for me. Putting my money where it should be … back into my pockets … thus enabling me to (duh!) buy more Groupons. In short, I believe in your company.

And isn’t that what this season is all about, Charlie Brown?

Oh, and speaking of the season, I’ve been perusing your site a good bit lately, on both my laptop and my phone. I’m savvy that way. As technology (and not “Annette”) is my middle name. Not surprisingly, I’ve found several different offers I’m considering for myself as well as for my loved ones this holiday. Groupon consistently boasts such a delightfully eclectic menu of choices. I always enjoy reading them, because they are written with such character and (yes, I’m just going to say it) color!

As a freelance writer for a broad representation of clients, I pride myself on creating editorials, articles, profiles and even product reviews that people actually want to read. After all, what good is the written word if no one is there to read it?

Right? Of course, right.

Which brings me to my next point. I have been nudged for years by several friends and colleagues to reach out to you, Groupon, for professional writing opportunities. I am certain I would be a welcome addition to your ranks. I can promise you the same level of spirit, pluck and unique personality to which you’ve become accustomed. I can also promise you error-free copy, the likes of which have no place in offers targeted (ironically) to the writing community.

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Now, before you dismiss me as a lunatic … yes, I did fill out the standardized form for career opportunities on your website. I just thought I’d put in an extra good word for myself. I felt I deserved it. I’ve known for me for years and I am willing to personally vouch for myself for just about anything.

I anxiously await your response.

Respectfully,
Michele “Technology” Robert Poche

P.S. As a personal favor (are we at the point yet that I can be asking for favors?), I request that you not reprimand the staffer who crafted the new word for the writing course. Perhaps he was tired, perhaps he was distracted or perhaps he was  going for something existential in his description. In any event, without him, I would likely not have taken the time to write this correspondence. So I personally consider myself indebted to him. Or her. Either way.

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