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A Letter to My Son on his 18th Birthday


 

Dear Son,

Today you turn 18. They haven’t invented a word yet that even begins to describe the rush of emotions coming at me right now. Pride, confusion, joy, nostalgia, excitement, fear … the list is a long one … and counting.

Pardon the cliché but it really does seem like only yesterday that your dad and I were bringing you home from the hospital and adjusting to life with a (very colicky) new baby who would change our perspective on everything from nutrition and hobbies to politics and personal relationships. My primary goal from that day forward was to make your world as happy, healthy and safe as I could.

It’s crazy how much has changed since you were born. Back then, people were still rewinding VHS videotapes from Blockbuster, logging onto the internet with dial-up service and worrying about Y2K. Advanced “technology” enabled us to print out written directions from one destination to another to take in the car with us thanks to MapQuest. And Britney Spears was just dropping her first single.

So I guess you’re not a baby anymore. But you will always be my baby, my child, my son. And, for that reason, I wanted to take a moment to share a few pearls of wisdom with you on this momentous occasion in your life. (Notice I didn’t call them diamonds. I’ll save those for your 21st birthday.)

  1. Be you … and don’t worry so much about what everyone else is doing. You’re moving through life at your own pace and you have years … decades ahead of you to see all of the places you want to see and do all of the things you want to do in life. There will always be someone who appears to have it all in the palm of his hand. But chances are … another someone is looking at you from afar thinking the exact same thing.
  2. Social media is a blessing and a curse. It’s a powerful tool that can be used in many positive ways, but it can also end friendships, ruin opportunities and change lives forever. Remember that what you see there is all highlight reels and bragging rights. Nobody ever shares when they stay home one night to prepare for an Econ exam or clean out the closet … but, believe me, everyone does these things.
  3. Choose your life’s path carefully. Once you’re in college, the last thing that should determine your career choice is length of curriculum. Trust your mother, a journalism major, on this one. You’re at an age when you feel like you want your life to start as quickly as possible. But a fast-earned, throw-away degree just doesn’t cut it anymore and it won’t carry you nearly as far as a more professional choice that will support not only your hopes and dreams of today but those of your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond.
  4. Beauty is skin deep. As you navigate through life dating different girls, remember that a pretty face is only part of the package. Keep searching until you find someone who is also kind, intelligent, witty and like-minded with your interests and opinions. Oh, and remember, she needs to measure up to my standards for you. And I’ll warn you in advance. That’s not going to be easy.
  5. Family is forever. Sure, we all drive each other crazy sometimes. I think somewhere that’s actually one of the published definitions of family. But the thing with family is … we’re always, always here for you. The door is always open, both literally and metaphorically. There’s always a place at the dinner table, a spot on the sofa, a gift under the Christmas tree, a slice of the birthday cake, an extra ticket to the basketball game, a burger on the grill, room on the vacation or just an ear waiting to listen to you at this house. Please remember that as you finish up your last year of high school and plan to head off to college next year.

In short, I love you … more than any letter could ever express. My life changed for the better the day you were born and, since that day, I’ve been trying to do the same for you.

And I will never … ever stop.

Love,

Mom

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Because how could I not use Bear in the Big Blue House to commemorate this occasion?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kiss My Ass, 2016


A few weeks ago, I was having a crappy day and my friend, Vanessa, shared a short video clip with me. I can always count on her to make me laugh with any number of crazy viral videos circling the globe. This one was easily among the best.

If you watch John Oliver, you’ve probably already seen it. It’s called … quite simply … Fuck You, 2016. (PLEASE don’t play it in front of your kids.)

You can’t watch it without laughing. And thinking of your own misfortunes of the past year. She and I have traded the tagline and meme’d a million little things in our lives in the past few weeks.

Like this …

Or this ….

Or even this.

The circus freak sideshow of the election aside, 2016 really was a year for the shit-stained books, wasn’t it? Racially-provoked violence all over the country the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades; the horrific, alligator incident at Disney World (I can still barely speak of it); Harambe, the slain gorilla; one of the deadliest shootings in U.S. history in Orlando; Gatlinburg and the Smoky Mountains going up in flames; the Bastille attack in Nice, France; the catastrophic flooding in my Katrina-adopted hometown of Baton Rouge … the list goes unmercifully on and on.

Celebrity deaths included … to name only a few … David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickmann, Gene Wilder, Muhammad Ali, Harper Lee, Garry Shandling, Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, Natalie Cole, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Pat Harrington, Jr. from One Day at a Time.

As far as I’m concerned, 2016 can get bent.

And, while I certainly can’t compete with the world’s problems, it wasn’t a stellar year for me either. In addition to my car getting nailed (twice) and a few other calamities about which I’m not allowed to write here, I celebrated my birthday last summer by catching my hair on fire. Fuck you, trick candle company.

What about you? 

What did 2016 do to you?

(Seriously, I want to know.)


Editor’s Note: Before I could hit publish … Debbie Reynolds. Good God, 2o16. Stand the hell down.

Happy (Gulp) 17th Birthday to My Son


The year was 1999.

Lance Armstrong won his first Tour de France title.

The euro was established as the standardized currency unit across the nations of Europe. (Nearly two decades later, Great Britain still embraces the pound. As well as tepid beer. But that’s beside the point.)

The world braced itself for the perceived technological apocalypse known as Y2K.

Advancements like Bluetooth, MySpace and Napster were just being introduced. (Also known as a means of confusing people everywhere as to whom you’re speaking, slacking off at work and, well, stealing.)

Groundbreaking shows like Friends, Frasier, ER and The X-Files were still producing and airing original episodes on prime-time television.

Moviegoers were lining up to see the highly-anticipated Stars Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace as well as blockbusters like The Sixth Sense, American Beauty and American Pie. (I only saw the last three. Unapologetically. That may never change, Dean.)

And YOU … you made me a mom … changing my life forever when you were born on October 16, 1999.

I just can’t believe you’re 17 today, Dean.

I still remember your first words and your first steps … yes, they came in that order. You did it opposite of everyone else in the world. You could speak full sentences but opted to be carried through life just a little bit longer. (Personally, I thought it was a sign of brilliance.)

You were a great eater, but you were a terrible sleeper. (I guess some things never change.) You had a belly laugh that people couldn’t help themselves but join. Your favorite audience was your baby sister. You’d spend hours working to make her laugh. And inventing nonsensical nicknames for her. I honestly believe you tagged her with over a hundred of them. (Mrs. Baybo, to name only one.) Stay close to her, Dean. You mean more to her than words could ever say.

Your dedication to your studies, your family and friends, your pet and your need to just be a good person are humbling for your dad and me to watch as your parents. Somewhere along the line, we know we obviously did something right. Thank you for that, Dean.

Stay the course. You are poised for greatness in the world. Everyone around you seems to know that except you. As much as it truly pains me to watch you grow older and slowly distance yourself from your childhood, I relish the opportunity to watch you develop into the amazing adult I am certain you’ll be.

I know I drive you crazy sometimes. The feeling is mutual, my boy. That’s all part of growing up. For both of us. The important thing is that you know your dad and I are always and forever here for you. If you ever need anything at all … day or night … near or far … sane or insane, all you have to do is pick up the phone. Or whatever the communication method of the future will be. We’ll learn how to use it. For you and your sister.

I love you, Dean.

Happy 17th Birthday!!!


Past birthday posts about Dean:

A Letter to My Son on His 16th Birthday

15 Reasons I Love My Son (on his 15th Birthday)

Happy Birthday, Dean

Happy Birthday to the One Who Made Me a Mom

Thanks, NFL, for enlightening my son …  but I’m taking some of the credit, too

 

5 Reasons to See The Conjuring 2 (Plus Prizes!)


I received an email recently from the good people at Grace Hill Media. They asked my friend Mel and me to cover the much-anticipated release of The Conjuring 2, opening in theaters on June 10. You might remember that Mel and I covered the first movie for them back in 2013. So when they asked about the sequel, naturally I said yes.

Right away, they sent me a little “thank you” package. Inside the box were two items:

Conjuring2Candle(1) A limited edition movie candle for my home (Aww. Thanks, Grace Hill. What a sweet and unique gift.) and …

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… (2) A bone-chilling, demon-exorcising prayer to recite once it’s ignited. (Seriously, Grace Hill? Totally uncool. Now I’m scared before I even step into the theater.)

Of course, since when did being scared ever stop me from doing anything? (Attention: People who know me personally. Please refrain from listing the dozens of answers you probably have to this question as it waters down the peer pressure tactics I’m about to exhibit.) Fear Schmear! I am going to see this movie. And so is Mel. And so are YOU!! And here’s why …


Five Reasons to See The Conjuring 2


Because who doesn’t love a scary movie? Okay, fine. Truth be told, I watched much of the first movie between my pathetic, trembling fingers. Yes, I am a card-carrying coward … but there was no way I was missing out on the second highest-grossing original horror movie of all time. Second only to The Exorcist. Chew on that, lily-livereds.

Because one of the leads is played by a girl from New Orleans. I just found a picture of her (Madison Wolfe) with my daughter singing in the school choir. I almost posted it then decided she’s not my child so it wouldn’t be appropriate. You’ll just have to take my word for it. And know that it’s a pretty exciting development in my little corner of the world.

Because sleep is overrated. And since this movie will have you cogitating for a while, just imagine all the things you’ll be able to get done in the middle of the night when the rest of the world is wasting its time sleeping. You could organize all of your closets, toiletries and canned goods by color, learn to speak Portuguese or even potty train your cat.

Because your body’s many physiological functions will get a full workup. You can test your heart, your circulation, your respiratory system, your kidneys, your bladder, your sweat glands, your vocal cords and even your tear ducts all simultaneously from the comfort of your cushy chair in a dark movie theater. And all for free.

Because the movie looks just fantastic. Check it out. (P.S. Yes. That’s Madison.)

Oh, and I almost forgot. We have prizes! Mel and I are giving away TWO prize packages from The Conjuring 2. Each package contains 2 movie money passes, a leather-bound journal, a T-shirt, a mug and a flashlight.

Click HERE to enter.

The contest ends on Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 12:00AM CST.


See you at the movies!!

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14 Ways to Embarrass Your Teenager … AKA Happy 14th Birthday to My Daughter!


In honor of my darling daughter’s 14th birthday, I wanted to give her gift from my heart. But, because anyone with a wallet can purchase worthless tchotchkes or paltry trinkets from a common store, I wanted to dig deeper … to showcase my intrinsic talents to create something truly meaningful for her. So I got to thinking. And right away, my personalities began fighting.

Optimistic Me: I could bake her a cake!

Realistic Me: Nah, I’ll just wind up summoning the fire department. A third time. 

Optimist: I could put together a scrapbook!

Realist: Then spend the rest of her birthday trying to get my fingers unglued.

Optimist: I could make a piece of jewelry … a patchwork quilt … or even a memory trunk!

Realist: Choking hazards, needles, hammer. Honestly, it’s like you’re not even trying, Michele. Plus we haven’t met our annual deductible yet. 

Then it hit me.

What has she told me again and again? Especially in these last few years. The answer was right under my nose. Apparently, as adults “adults” go, I am positively gifted … in the art of …

Mother-On-Daughter Humiliation.

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Naturally, I turned to social media for ideas. After all, who among us can’t use some new approaches and fresh methodology in this specialized field? My process was simple. I would pose the question across my various social platforms and let the answers just roll in. Then I could embarrass her in original, innovative ways I’d only thought, talked, or dreamed about .. until now.

So without further ado, my darling daughter, I give you the results of my project.

14 Ways To Embarrass Your Teenage Daughter

  1. “Friend” her people on Snapchat, Instagram and wherever else she spends time ignoring you.
  2. Chaperone every school dance. Bonus: Break out “The Elaine” on the dance floor.
  3. Hug or kiss her in front of her friends at school, the mall or anyplace where two or more teenagers are congregated.
  4. Bust a move to an old school dance tune at the fast food drive-thru. (Obvious song choice: Bust a Move) Bonus: Say to the cashier, “This is my jam!”
  5. Post about her and her adorable milestones (first periods, etc.) on your social media accounts and tag her so it shows up on hers.
  6. Use hashtags in all of your correspondence. Bonus: Also, use it in your oral speech. #DinnerIsReady #IsThatAPimple
  7. Breathe in and out. In public.
  8. Blow the horn in the carpool pick-up line and shout her name out of the window. Bonus: Use her babyhood nicknames.
  9. Comment on her social media posts. Be sure to use proper spelling, grammar and punctuation. The lengthier and more personal, the better.
  10. Call out her name specifically when cheering at the ball field, piano recital, chess tournament, etc. Bonus: Use her first AND middle names.
  11. Rap.
  12. Wear matching outfits and go shopping together. Bonus: Call yourselves “twinsies” to everyone you encounter.
  13. Cry unapologetically about your “baby” getting older as often as possible. Example: Make a scene at the DMV when she gets her driver’s permit. Bring balloons and cake.
  14. Use expressions like “YOLO, “On Fleek, “Yasssss!” or “Goals.” Bonus: Use them incorrectly.


Once I compiled my list, I could hardly wait to get started. Then, just as I planned to pull the trigger on my master plan, my girl went and did something completely unexpected.

Recently, I took a car full of girls to go see a friend in a school play. Not surprisingly, both the energy level and the stereo volume in the car were through the roof. Showtunes, popular music, movie soundtracks … you name it, they screamed it. And it nearly killed me when they “reminisced” about the music of their “childhood” singing all the songs from High School Musical (it’s like my people’s Grease) as I know every … single … word.

But I kept my mouth shut. Because that’s what a good mom does.

Then I heard it. I couldn’t believe I heard it. But I did actually hear it. The girls had moved on to Pitch Perfect and I heard Vivien say to her friends, “Wait … you guys … you HAVE to hear my mom sing the duet from the semi-finals with me.” Then, turning to me, she said, “Mom, you take Beca’s part. Okay?”

I. Was. Speechless.

But, of course, I had to sing … like, immediately. So I didn’t ruin it. I held back the pathetic mom tears and just went for it. With my proud daughter sitting (and singing) shotgun right next to me.

She never ceases to amaze me.

I love you, Viv.Viv14BdayCollegeHappy 14th Birthday!

Love your biggest fan,
Mom

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Want to cure boredom AND win money?


10 Reasons Your Kids Will Be Bored This Summer

“The supermarket/bank/post office line is sooo long.”

“There’s nothing to do at Dad’s office.”

“Mom wants to shop for my ugly, itchy flower girl dress for Aunt Linda’s wedding.”

“Everybody is in Disney World … except me!”

“I wake up before the sun on Saturday mornings … but Mom and Dad keep on sleeping!”

“It takes forEVER to get to the Grand Canyon.”

“It’s raining.”

“The pool is closed.”

“The movie is sold out.”

“THE CAT WON’T LET ME DRESS HIM UP LIKE A BABY ANYMORE!!!”


Any of these sound familiar? I’ve heard ’em all. Not to worry. When you find yourself in any of these situations, just introduce your little people to the DC Super Hero Girls on YouTube. Featuring a dynamic bunch of characters, from strong and fearless to edgy and fun, there’s something for everyone.

Visit the DC Super Hero Girl website to play games, download free printable activities, etc. AAAAAAAAAAND … click  HERE to take a chance to win a $100 Visa Gift Card!


Get your cape on … with the DC Super Hero Girls YouTube Playlist

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What’s the worst movie you ever saw? I saw mine last night.


Last night, I made a huge mistake.

My 13-year-old daughter and I are at the end of a three-month trial subscription to Netflix. It’s been great. We’ve enjoyed more than a dozen movies and counting. And don’t get me started on our  Fuller House marathon a few weekends ago. (Please. You love Uncle Jesse as much I do and you know it.)

So, it was with wide-eyed innocence that I selected yet another movie title last night for us to enjoy together. The premise seemed a little dumb but I’ve watched dumber. (Anyone remember Andrew McCarthy’s Mannequin?) Plus it was rated PG … so how bad could it be … right?

I couldn’t find a traditional trailer. Probably because the movie budget didn’t provide for it. Just don’t listen to this critic’s enthusiasm. He was clearly bribed. Or drunk.

Never mind the fact that I find both of the lead actors totally unappealing, the entire movie is about a paunchy old Frenchman romantically entangled with an 18 … I mean 16 … I mean 14-year-old girl. Several references are  actually made to her sleeping with him. Oh, and did I mention that THEY ARE FATHER AND DAUGHTER?!!?

(I’ll wait while you get a glass of water to rinse the vomit taste out of your mouth.)

I kept looking for something to tell me I’d misread the movie rating … or a disclaimer about it being released straight to video … or the credits to list infamous director Roman Polanski! But no. This movie was released as a family film in 1994 by none other than Touchstone Pictures, an American film distribution label of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

(sound of needle scratching across record)

Katherine Heigl plays a spoiled, fourteen year old girl who lies about her dad being her lover (is there any worse word in the English language?) to win the affections of an older boy. And if THAT isn’t gross enough for you, the movie offers many other stomach-challenging moments. To name only a few …

  1. Heigl’s entire (14-year-old!) ass hanging out of the worst bathing suit ever created which (because she is 14!) her mother obviously purchased for her.
  2. And speaking of naked … Gerard Depardieu appears wearing nothing but boxer shorts or swim trunks … WAY too much for my comfort level.
  3. The long-frizzy-haired, uber-creepy, axe murderer dude we see preying on (14-year-old!) Heigl several times and asking to “take pictures” of her. I think he was actually cast in the movie to make Depardieu seem less disgusting.
  4. As Heigl spins her unbelievable yarns about her lover/dad, she actually acknowledges that they have to claim to be father and daughter because of all the “stupid laws and stuff.” (“Hello, Walt? Can you hear me? Your corporate empire has created a comic family romp on the subject of statutory rape. Freaky Friday, this is not.”)
  5. And most of all, let’s not ignore the fact that KATHERINE HEIGL’S CHARACTER IS A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR … A SOCIOPATH. (Witness my psychology minor at work.) That kid needs so many hours of therapy she might not have time to brush her teeth anymore.

And if none of this mere sampling of ridiculous moments is enough for you, there’s the fact that …. once enlightened that his daughter has made the entire island believe him to be a raging pedophile … DEPARDIEU ACTUALLY GOES ALONG WITH IT … to help his (14-year-old!) daughter hook up with the local dude. The local, 17-year-old dude. The local, 17-year-old dude who was actually turned on by the fact that she was sleeping with an old man.

Ladies and gentleman, this is one hour and twenty-nine minutes that I will never, ever get back. Thanks, Touchstone, for releasing this family-friendly, PG-rated, super gross movie that I could show my 13-year-old daughter. Fortunately for me, she’s smart enough to have laughed and made fun of it right alongside me THE ENTIRE TIME.

We cast our votes on Rotten Tomatoes the second the credits rolled. (Shudder)

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