17 Reasons Why Raising a Toddler Is One Helluva Workout

MjAxMi1jNTg2MjI1YWI5YjNkOGVmRaising toddlers can be … shall we say, hellish? Hair-raising? Exhausting? Wine provoking? From the DIY to the defiance to the daily drama … it’s challenging, on a good day.

There’s many reasons you’re out of breath sometimes. It’s grueling to make it to parental utopia bedtime. Here’s 17 of the toughest physical challenges of parenting a toddler.

1. Attempting the perfect Elsa-the-naughty-ice-queen-French-braid from Frozen. It is harder than it looks (unless you’re an origami master or hairdresser). And princess wannabes are not known for their patience.
2. Keeping shoes tied during the “I can do it!” phase. No, he can’t. And that means mom has to bend down to tie his shoes 30 times today while fake-smiling in support (working your core and face muscles).
3. Dressing a little boy who has unexpectedly pitched a tent in his underwear. No better test of your fine motor skills than zipping jeans over a boner.
4. Dressing a girl in skinny jeans. They are called skinny for a reason … to drive you insane. Certifiable if she’s refusing to get dressed. Nothing gives a mom a sweaty lip quicker than stuffing kicking legs into those infuriating little holes.
5. Laundry. Moms who aren’t a natural size two from the loads of laundry alone were robbed. Seriously. You deserve to be able to eat ice cream and not gain a pound for your stain fighting, sorting, and folding super powers.
6. Stocking backpacks for school and camp requires at least one trip up the stairs (more like ten in most frazzled moms’ homes). Do they really need all this sh*t?
7. Scraping caked-on remains of the food fight at dinner off of your ceiling.
8. Same goes for dried pee on the toilet. You need to chisel it off at times.
9. Chasing after your toddler in a Chariots of Fire way when he bolts down the aisles at the grocery store. That’s one way to get your cardio in for the day.
10. Carrying screaming kids and groceries into the house (no one is ever home to help, and if they are they don’t hear or choose to ignore your cries).
11. Fighting the good fight … to get your kid into the car and buckled in his car seat. It requires a level of stealthiness and karate skills you simply didn’t have when you were single.
12. Packing healthy, nut-free lunches with cute ‘I love you’ notes to keep pace with the Bento box moms. Or packing lunches. Either way, anything to do with toddler eating is hard. Muttering “toddlers” and “eating” in the same sentence burns calories in moms. It’s a fact.
13. Snow or swim hats. Trying to force one on your kid’s head, and keep it on there. Yeah, good luck with that. Snowsuits? Even harder.
14. Running after your giggling toddler who thinks carrying the germ-infested dog toy in his mouth is absolutely hilarious.
15. Juggling your luggage and your toddler’s suitcase because he “doesn’t feel like carrying it anymore” while holding his hand, keeping track of the tickets, and undressing enough to get through security. That’s a workout, gym rats.
16. Tracing letters and numbers over and over and over. They get it one day and forget it the next. This exercise can give some moms muscle definition.
17. Breaking up sibling fights. Turns out you could have been a damn good NFL referee.

Which physical challenges would you add to the list?

Posted in Family, Kids, Life, Mommy, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The 50 Steps of Mommy Morning Mayhem

photoHave you ever had one of those mornings where you have to dodge more kid land mines than you should have to in an entire day? When all is said and done, there’s smashed banana smeared on the carpet, pee-soaked underwear dangling from the bathroom faucet, and toys “bad mommy” had to confiscate on top of the fridge. Echoes of temper tantrums reverberate in your head. You sit down slowly (careful to protect yourself from stray legos), look around, and shake your head in disbelief that you survived.

Today, I had one of those mornings. Here’s how it all went down, in 50 steps.

1. Wake up at 4:00 a.m. due to my shit shih tzu with restless leg syndrome.
2. She jumps off the bed, runs down the hall, and licks my four-year-old’s face. Why did I adopt this dog again?
3. Son stumbles down the hall and crawls under my covers. Little shit shih tzu takes a flying leap after him and misses. I have to reassure my son she doesn’t have a boo-boo.
4. Say “ssssshhhhh” at least 77 times.
5. Then it comes … wait for it … the obligatory ask for a glass of water. I am always prepared for it so I just have to reach over to the nightstand. Yes!
6. Feel proud of myself. Obviously, I have been mommying for awhile.
7. Maybe I should reward myself with a pair of boots?
8. Silently devise plan to order them once my little posse falls asleep again. I so deserve them.
9. My son asks random questions. I answer him and shush him.
10. Son and dog mercifully nod off.
11. Let the online shopping begin! No need to fumble around for my credit card. It’s saved in my phone and I know the little 3 digit code. Not only do I have the mommying thing down, I am super smart at this whole mommy-needs-a-treat-to-get-through-the-day thing, too.
12. Kid wakes up extra early. Interrupted sleep makes him even more of a resident rooster.
13. Walk down the stairs and almost step in dog poop. She made a deposit in the middle of the night before waking my son up. She’s lucky she’s beyond cute.
14. Give my dog the evil eye as I clean it up. It’s completely ineffective.
15. Go to make coffee. Hello, lover. The single cup maker is off. Have to wait for it to take its sweet time to warm up. Brew coffee. Look in the fridge for half-and-half. None. Almond milk? Not enough.
16. Who’s running this joint?! Oh yeah, me.
17. Dodge my son’s light saber attack … all except the initial lunge at my butt (didn’t feel that much anyway).
18. Become “mean mommy” when I take my little Luke Skywalker’s weapon of choice away.
19. Prepare not one but two kinds of oatmeal for my son who has been begging to try it again.
20. Make a fun game of it, telling him he’s going to be a taste tester and tell me which one is better.
21. He takes one look at the brown throw up food and refuses.
22. I bargain. I bribe. I get him to stick his tongue out for a little taste and he spits it on the table.
23. Clean that up.
24. Step on a stray toy. Swear up a storm in my head. The naughty cuss words … totally taboo … ones suburban moms don’t use.
25. Feel badass with all of my internal swearing. Walk with a little swagger back into the kitchen with the rejected bowls of oatmeal. Choke down some cold black coffee.
26. Offer my son 15 other breakfast choices. He settles on a banana.
27. Turn my back to get my son’s outfit. When I return, I see strings of banana all over the couch. He “doesn’t like the strings.” He prefers to throw them on the furniture instead of the trash.
28. Inhale. Exhale. Make son pick up banana strings despite his loud protests.
29. Go to feed the dog. Hear my son running towards the bathroom.
30. “Moooooommmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy!”
31. Son explains he thought he had to “make a toot but pee came out instead.” Underwear is soaked. The top of his pajamas are wet. First morning pee. Of course I am dealing with the volume of first morning pee.
32. He proudly shows me his poop in the toilet. I am silently grateful for small favors. At least that thing is where it belongs.
33. It’s a three-wiper.
34. Lather his hands with soap so he has no choice but to wash his hands. Feel gratified that I am stealth enough to trick a toddler (at times).
35. Son bolts out of the bathroom, stark naked, and “hides” under the dining room table.
36. Ugh. Bare post-poop butt on my rug. No thanks.
37. Get son out enough to start getting him dressed. He’s not a willing participant.
38. Get kicked … more than once.
39. Try the evil eye again. Completely ineffective. Why didn’t I inherit that talent from my mom?!
40. Threaten to take his beloved basketball away. It works long enough to get the outfit and sneakers on … only because I am damn quick.
41. Son tells me he “needs a day off from school.” Begs me to pick him up early. He repeats his requests at least 30 times, getting whinier and whinier.
42. Ah, wine. I’d love some wine.
43. Is it bad that I even had that thought at 8:00 a.m.?
44. Get dressed in the living room to keep an eye on things.
45. Son yells, “BRA! I SEE YOUR BRA! And there’s Sasha.”
46. Realize blinds are open and my neighbor is walking his dog, Sasha, right in front of the window.
47. We awkwardly avoid eye contact. I vow to pretend he didn’t see me standing in my bra and jeans.
48. I have had enough. Dress quickly, apply lipstick, and leave with my son who is crying in protest.
49. Dog squeezes through the door on our way out. Son runs after dog. I look like a hot mess with these two. Surely, my neighbor will chat about the whole bra incident and the great dog escape. I am not going to the neighborhood Halloween party after this fiasco. Hell no.
50. Catch boy and dog (I am sweating). Put them in the car, fasten seat belts, and sigh. Do a quick check for the essentials. Backpack, check. Wallet, check. But where’s my phone?

Can you relate to my mommy morning mayhem or what?

Posted in Family, Kids, Life, Mommy, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Why Compassionate Care Is Way Overdue

She managed to smile through all of the pain. She deserved the right to choose when she wanted to die.

She managed to smile through all of the pain. She deserved the right to choose when she wanted to die.

There are remarkably poised women in this world who unknowingly reach right into my soul, grab it, and shake it up. They’re the ones who lock eyes with adversity and stare it down … turning it into a positive through sheer will. They have a pure sense of self awareness that is enviable. They somehow gain power in a powerless position. And I never forget them … those women who manage to transform me on some level.

My mom was one of those women. I quite literally cling to the lessons she taught me during her 11 year duel with ovarian cancer … to live in hope, to always choose humor, to find beauty in every day, to wear lipstick even when you feel like sh*t, to stop worrying about things you can’t change … and to change the things you can.

At 41, I am still my mom’s student in life almost one year after her death … at times failing miserably. So, it is beyond incomprehensible to me that women like Brittany Maynard — you know, the 29-year-old who is going to die on her own terms on November 1, exist.

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

Courtesy Brittany Maynard

If you, by chance, haven’t heard of Brittany Maynard, I will tell you a little about this woman I have added to my personal never ever forget list. Diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma (a malignant brain tumor), doctors say Brittany will die in a “terrible, terrible way.” Instead of accepting her fate, she reworked it. She moved to Oregon — famous among the terminally ill for its Death With Dignity Act — so she can go when she is ready to say goodbye. She’s choosing to exit this world two days after her husband’s birthday … hopefully before her suffering gets to the point of “terrible.”

Brittany’s plight hit me … hard.

My mom didn’t fear dying, she was scared about how she would die. We had countless conversations about it, ones where I was brave in front of her and then burst into tears in the privacy of my car. She couldn’t stop talking about a documentary she watched about a woman who planned her death in Oregon. Her family threw her a party — the best kind, with laughter and tears — and then she went peacefully, before she had to wait to die. That’s what a lot of terminally ill people do, by the way, if you’ve never witnessed it — they wait to die.

The year my mom died, an assisted suicide ballot question did not pass in our home state of Massachusetts. My mom was devastated. She only shared that heartache with me, knowing I would get it … as I was so frightened about how she would die, too. We talked about going to Oregon … it was like a promised land, in a way … but, thankfully, she wound up dying without wasting away in hospice (of sepsis).

No one wanted to live more than my mom (except maybe Brittany), but her disease was out of her control. She knew she would die and she didn’t want it to be in the most excruciatingly painful way possible. I never wanted to let my mom go (I still don’t), but I valued the quality of her life more than the quantity because I loved her so much. Who can’t understand that? Why is this even an issue?

Brittany is spending her last month alive campaigning for the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, an end-of-life choice advocacy organization, to fight for expanding death-with-dignity laws nationwide. Her choice is obviously beyond brave, and her voice is much needed, but it is truly sad this young woman must take this on when she is facing so much already. If you oppose compassionate care, I hope photos of my mom and Brittany Maynard shake you up. Chances are, you’re only thinking in hypothetical terms; you’re not dying. It’s time to listen to the people who are dying. They’re the only ones who matter in this debate.

Please consider supporting the Brittany Maynard Fund to expand death-with-dignity to all Americans.

Posted in Life, ovarian cancer, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hot Baby Names Are Pretty Cold (If You’re the One Saddled With Them)

baby-name-surprisedI am proud my son is number 46 on the mid-year list of most popular baby names. Technically, he’s not even ranked on Nameberry’s list—his legal name is Alex, not Alexander (which I thought was too stuffy for my offspring and I was right), but it’s pretty close. Middle name James, number 17. Alex James. I am doing something right as a parent giving him an unpopular name.

In 2014, names near the bottom of the list are ones that are easily pronounced, don’t belong in a fruit bowl (still reeling from Gwynnie’s naming of her daughter, Apple), on the wing of a plane (Hello, North West), or could double as the name of a breakthrough pharmaceutical drug (Imogen is the no. 1 girls’ name. Imogen!).

Call me crazy, but when I named Alex I sang the Bananafana song to make sure his name didn’t rhyme with any swears or humiliating words. You know…Chuck, Chuck, bo buck, Bananafana fo fuck. Yeah, it sucks to be Chuck in the second grade. When it’s Alex’s turn to sing his Bananafana song on the playground he can be proud, baby, because his mama thought of everything. I even made sure his initials didn’t spell out anything cringe-wrothy, as one of my friends growing up had initials that spelled A.S.S. and it traumatized me (he managed to overcome just fine).

So, what are the top ten names that are trending for boys (the ones I cannot pronounce are highlighted with ***)?
1. Asher

2. Declan ***

3. Atticus

4. Finn

5. Oliver

6. Henry

7. Silas ***

8. Jasper

9. Milo

10. Jude (I am a Beatles fan, so this is cool).

And for girls:
1. Imogen

2. Charlotte

3. Isla *** (Is this Is-la or Ila? Not a bad name, but it confuses me.)

4. Cora

5. Penelope

6. Violet

7. Amelia

8. Eleanor (All I can think of is Eleanor Roosevelt, forever. No one else can own that name. Sorry, newborn Eleanors.)

9. Harper

10. Claire (Who associates Claire with The Breakfast Club? That would be me.)

Am I the only person who thinks the top baby names should not include Silas, Declan, and Harper? These are not celebs…everyday people are on the Imogen bandwagon. What is going on?


Posted in Baby, celebrity, Family, Kids, Mommy, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Quinoa Crack

IMG_1673Guaranteed the only place you will find quinoa and crack in the same sentence is right here. Do a quinoa and crack search on Google and Mommy Dish will own it. YES!

Anyway…

Have you ever tried a dish at a party that is so incredibly good it stays with you long after your tenth helping? You may find your mouth watering involuntarily as you recall the moment the succulent dish met your lips. You may fantasize about fresh farm vegetables nestled in protein-packed quinoa, artfully drizzled with a delectable mix of fresh lime juice, cilantro, and EVOO. You may drive yourself insane trying to figure out the ratio of the ingredients to recreate the intense high of food porn. I have been there. I’ve got you.

Lucky for you, being the side dish slut that I am (with Chef Julie connections), I am about to share a healthy dish that will ensure your July 4th festivities come off with a bang. Quinoa Crack is not wack. It is addictive, but in a OMG-I-actually-freaking-love-a-healthy-vegetarian-dish-that-won’t-give-me-sneaky-swimsuit-plumber’s-crack-this-summer way. You can thank me later, loves.

Ingredients

3 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of corn, cooked (if possible, use fresh…it is summer!)
2/3 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, chopped
Handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons cumin
2/3 cup of EVOO
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients together, adding the lime juice, EVOO, and salt and pepper at the end. Refrigerate overnight to intensify the flavors. Enjoy!

Posted in Diet, Dishes, Holidays, July 4th, recipes, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Obituary Revisited: My First Motherless Mother’s Day

She was always the life of the party. She made life worth celebrating.

She was always the life of the party. She made life worth celebrating.

As I approach my first motherless Mother’s Day, I feel compelled to rewrite my mom’s obituary. When my exquisite, brilliant mom died six months ago, I was numb with overwhelming and debilitating grief. I had so much to do to say goodbye to the woman who gave me life. It was all about the funeral arrangements, the tributes, the flowers, the logistical planning. It was nonstop. When it came time to place the obituary in the newspaper, I published the typical announcement with a few personal touches. I immediately regretted that decision. I wasn’t emotionally capable of writing a proper obituary for my mom.

It’s my Mother’s Day gift to all mothers to introduce you to the one who truly got motherhood right.

Michele Ann Goldman, age 64, passed away on November 8, 2013, after a valiant 11 year fight with ovarian cancer. According to statistics, she should have succumbed long before then but her hopeful heart, unbreakable spirit, and sheer will to live repeatedly beat rogue cancer cells into submission. Doctors credit Michele’s tenacity more than the countless chemotherapy treatments, operations, and drugs she endured for her longevity. She was a deeply devoted mom, grandmother, and friend who desperately wanted to be here.

Michele was born on September 7, 1949 in Newburgh, New York. Her childhood was exceptionally difficult but equipped her with survival skills, remarkable resilience, and a true sense of self that would serve her well in life. Michele’s professional career included achievements in retail and in paralegal work, but her real contribution to the world was not measured in dollars and cents. She was gardener and landscaper extraordinaire, a gourmet chef, an avid bird watcher who could identify every wing, beak, and chirp. She saw the beauty in ugly situations and appreciated the smallest gestures. She volunteered for every field trip and bake sale, seizing all opportunities to be a present and involved parent in her children’s lives. A legendary joke-teller, she demanded an audience wherever she went and had the best fits of laughter. Favorite pastimes included cranking up the music for long drives down remote roads in search of cherished antiques; chasing butterflies; traveling to faraway places—both physically and in her mind; planning surprises; leisurely lunches with her girlfriends; dancing like a dork for a giggle; masterful storytelling; slipping her grandkids cash just because; stopping to help wild turkeys cross the road; and offering hugs to anyone in need. Michele didn’t use her past or her illness as an excuse to be bitter about her present. She overcame. She dealt with hard situations head-on using tremendous strength that far outpowered her 5’1” frame. She radiated joy from the inside. She inspired countless people to choose gratitude despite the obstacles. She ironed her perfectly coordinated outfits and put lipstick on before every chemotherapy treatment, refusing to give into her damned disease, refusing to be defined as a cancer patient.

Throughout her illness, Michele managed to help her daughter through a difficult pregnancy; add her flair for decor to her grandson’s nursery; take her family on an incredible trip to Disney World; travel to Costa Rica to celebrate her adored granddaughter’s birthday; make mosaics to decorate friends’ homes; beautifully set her table for the holidays; bake dozens of types of Christmas cookies; light every candle on the Menorah; and hand-select perfect gifts for everyone she loved. She waited to wrap them until the last minute, but that was part of her charm.

Michele is survived by her daughter, Jodi, who is thankful breathing is involuntary because she often feels like she can’t breathe without her mom. They were the very best of friends who fought and forgave readily (especially working side-by-side in the kitchen), loved fiercely, and remained loyal to each other through the seasons of her life. Her son, Adam, wishes she was still here to be his partner on memorable adventures, to introduce his daughter Charly to new ideas and thinking, and to shower her with affection. Michele’s grandchildren continue to mourn their zany grandmother who always made silly faces and offered ring pops. Her grandson, Alex, often looks up towards the sky and calls for his “best Grandma Mimi.” He vows to slip on his Spider-Man suit and build a super duper web to gently pull her down from Heaven and into his arms again.

I love you.

I love you.

Mom, I will live my life trying to be half as good of a mom as you were, to be half as brave as you were in the face of tremendous adversity that never seemed to relent. I will don an invisible cloak of your wisdom to defend me against hardships, which continue to this day. I will teach my children to appreciate natural beauty, little victories, and the wicked joy of creating a haunted house on Halloween. I bask in the beautiful glow of your spirit; being an extension of you makes me so proud. The indelible mark you made on the core of my being as my mom will never be erased. I will always love you, mommy, and I will always need you to show me the way. I miss you every second of my life. Happy Mother’s Day.

Posted in Family, Kids, Life, Mommy, Mother's Day, ovarian cancer, Parents, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Saturday Morning Fun

roll upI get up with Alex at 6:30 a.m. every Saturday. Every week I think that will change, that he will sleep later, but it doesn’t happen. I have no idea why I don’t accept my reality. He remains our resident rooster and he doesn’t nap. Get over it, Jodi. You look refreshed only because you invest in great eye cream, not because you sleep. It is what it is.

My internal dialogue is pretty nasty in the morning. Don’t judge.

Anyway, after I have rolled out of bed (maybe creaked is a better word…something in my 41-year-old body usually cracks), I make coffee to transform into a pleasant parent. After proper caffeination, I come up with mommy-and-son cooking project. It’s become our thing.

This morning, we made organic fruit roll-ups. I am so wary of all snacks laced with perservatives, pesticides, and chemicals. As a general rule, if I can’t read the ingredients on the box I do not buy it. Yup, I am one of those moms. Our fruit roll-ups are delicious with only two ingredients your toddler will be able to pronounce. Bonus.

Fruit Roll-ups

Ingredients

3 cups of berries. I used a mix of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries…but you can choose any fruit you’d like. Frozen is okay too, just make sure you thaw beforehand.

Honey, to taste

Method

Cut up the fruit and place in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Pour berry mixture into a saucepan and cook on low-to-medium heat for about ten minutes. Drizzle in honey, to taste. It will thicken up. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Coat the parchment paper with the berry mixture evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake in a 170 degree oven for three hours.Cut into strips with a pizza cutter and roll it up. It’s a delicious, nutrient-rich snack everyone will love!

He has a special knife that won't chop his hand off...no worries. Plus, he has great skills.

He has a special knife that won’t chop his hand off…no worries. Plus, he has great skills.

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Posted in Family, Food, Kids, Mommy, recipes, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Boston Is Stronger

One year ago today, the great City of Boston changed forever. I remember feeling numb with fear as I watched coverage of two bombs exploding near the finish line of the 117th Boston Marathon. The cheers were silenced by chaos. The streets were littered with limbs instead of confetti. As a Bostonian, I felt like I was repeatedly punched in the gut watching it unfold.

I cried when I heard that Martin Richard, just 8 years old, lost his life doing what I did so many times as a child: cheering for the runners from the sidelines. I mourned the other victims of this cowardly act of terrorism, Krystle Campbell and Lingzi Lu. More than 260 people sustained horrific injuries. It was so much to absorb, and even harder to accept.

But then … I saw it. I saw Boston. The heroes running towards the plumes of smoke to save lives. The people opening their hearts and homes to strangers in need. The countless blood drives. The outpour of donations. I knew we would get through this unspeakable tragedy, and we did. Here are some of the many ways Boston is stronger:

– More than 36,000 people are running on Marathon Monday. They will not cower to terror.

– Record crowds are expected to cheer them on. One million of us will be there! No one is staying home in fear.

– People who were injured in the blast found each other, fell in love, and got married this year. The terrorists united us. They didn’t break us.

– Some injuries have healed and others improve every day. Survivors have overcome incredible adversity to walk again, to dance again, to celebrate life again.

– The runners who recently participated in a coast-to-coast relay to raise money for bombing victims raised $425,000. Their One Run for Boston began March 16 in Santa Monica, Calif., and ended in Boston on Sunday. The commitment to helping those affected by the bombings hasn’t wavered one bit. We stick together.

– One of the terrorists is dead, and the other is behind bars. They are not free, but we are free.

– All eyes are on our unbeatable city today as we reflect. We commemorate the courage. We remember the victims. We honor the heroes. We show the world how to be #BostonStrong.

– It was completely silent at 2:49 p.m. today. We stood in solidarity at the time the first bomb wreaked havoc on our beloved Boston. We will forever stand in solidarity on this day.

– The Boston Marathon has always been a source of pride, but now it’s not just about pride. It’s about attitude. Everyone has the “See you on Monday!” attitude. Don’t mess with Boston.

How are you feeling today? Do you think Boston is stronger?

Posted in Boston, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let It Go! Top Five Reasons ‘Frozen’ Is for Boys, too.

An anonymous Michigan dad feels his wife is “setting his son up to be beat up for the rest of his life” because he’s having a Frozen-themed birthday party. I think the kid is being hurt more by his chest-thumping dad’s stereotypical beliefs than he will ever be by a couple of Disney princesses.

I heard about this story after it aired on Michigan’s Mojo in the Morning…on the day my husband came home with the Frozen DVD for our son. I didn’t ask him to do it; he has big enough balls to buy a “princess movie” as a surprise for our little boy. He knows I took our three-year-old to see Frozen in theatres—both the regular and sing-a-long versions. And he’s smiled through the pain of our off-key rendition of “Let It Go” once or twice (okay, maybe a little more than that but I am a sucker for power ballads).

We are safely on superhero turf for my son’s birthday party in May—but that was his decision. If he asked for a Frozen party, he would get one. Here’s the top five lessons my son learns by watching Frozen:

1) The opening song of the movie, “Frozen Heart”, is all about the flannel…strong, husky men sawing and loading huge chunks of ice. Their deep voices sing in unison. They are focused. They get the job done. This scene gets my boy off his feet as he tries to saw everything in my living room. It gets us one hundred calories closer to bedtime so I am obviously a fan. It teaches him about hard work and teamwork and all that good stuff, too.

2) Elsa sacrificed her own happiness to keep her sister safe. After she accidently zaps Anna with her magic powers during childhood, she lives in isolation, ignoring her sister’s repeated requests to play. How hard is that for a kid? My son is looking for me after thirty seconds of alone time. Elsa is the epitome of selflessness and strength. (Sidebar: Alex thinks she’s “beautiful”… especially the naughty Ice Queen Elsa with the messy French braid. Help.)

And that voice! Elsa sings about asserting her independence (key lesson for my son in my ongoing quest to pee in peace) with flair. She creates a snow monster to protect her glittering masterpiece of a castle. Monster anything speaks to boys. My son roars at other kids as a method of greeting in the Whole Foods checkout line. Lesson learned here is the snow monster doesn’t win…the good guys do…so I have hope Alex will start saying hello again with Frozen on replay.

3) Anna is a spunky, quirky girl with a zest for life. She has a vivid imagination and strong sense of self. When Elsa turns their sunny, idyllic kingdom into a winter wonderland with the spark of her ungloved hand, she runs away in disgrace. Anna sticks up for her sister and hops on her horse to chase after her without hesitation. Screw the winter coat and the planning. Determination in the face of adversity is a lesson for all. So is sacrificing true love’s kiss to save your sister’s life. Anna does all that and more. She’s funny, too.

4) Kristoff is a stereotypical man’s man, close-minded Michigan dad. He deals with ice for a living. He can sleep on a pile of hay in the dead of winter without complaining. He can fend off wolves and navigate his way through a blizzard with nothing more than a reindeer named Sven and a sled. That’s badass. But he’s balanced, too. He doesn’t let the one he loves get away. He doesn’t get too tripped up on pride to turn around and make things right. He has a genuine smile and he’s grateful for life’s gifts coming from humble, hobbit-like beginnings. He’s heroic and handsome.

5) Olaf is a goofy snowman full of one-liners who just wants to feel the sun on his face. You can basically dismember him and he will pick himself back up and put himself together again. His happiness radiates from the inside. He is helpful, kind, and generous…all good traits for my son to emulate.

So, what do you think about the dad who is upset that his son loves Frozen so much? Would you (or your husband/significant other) hesitate to give your boy a Frozen party if it was his wish?

Posted in Family, Kids, Life, Mommy, Parents, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Saving Face: I Had Basal Cell Carcinoma

Workin' the bandage! Stitches are in for one week. UGH. Send cover-up suggestions my way. I can start slathering it on 10 days post-op.

It all started with an innocent-looking pink bump near my jaw line. Maybe a zit, I thought, though I am not prone to those (don’t hate me for clear skin; remember, I‘ve had a black cloud stalking my ass for more than one year). The pink bump flared up and went away, just like a good little blemish should. But then it came back in the exact same spot a couple of weeks later. Intrigued, I just couldn’t leave it alone this time…and it bled. Profusely.

I just knew it was cancer. Between my stint as a health reporter and my unrelenting obsession with Google, I am an MD by osmosis. I called my dermatologist and pleaded to be seen right away. One punch needle biopsy later and my diagnosis was confirmed: basal cell carcinoma.

Really? Four months after my mom died of cancer and I have it, too? I am convinced I have a reputation up above as a badass.

I agonized about what to do. Post-mommyhood, I have pretty much given up from the neck down (screw you, Gisele), but I still liked my face. Do I try the chemotherapy cream with a considerably lower cure rate that would burn my face but eventually leave me with no scar? Or do I go for tissue-sparing Mohs surgery with a 98 percent cure rate and a definite scar? Despite my vanity, I chose Mohs…and had the wound closed by a leading plastic surgeon. Good balance, yes?

I am recovering from my surgery today, one day before my 41st birthday…the first one I will celebrate without my mom. I missed being my mom’s daughter so much yesterday. If she were alive, she would have dragged herself out of bed to make me laugh and hold my hand during my five hour procedure. She would have bought beautiful pajamas and new slippers for my recuperation period in the house. She would have delivered homemade soup to nourish my sad soul. She would have sent me inspirational emails, called me 100 times per day, and put things in perspective. And she would have been the one splurging on La Mer restorative concentrate to minimize my scar (that shit better work).

I can’t believe I had cancer—the good type, the kind that no one dies from, the “easy” one—and she wasn’t here to give me a hug. I wonder if she even sees what I am going through. I know the tumor is completely gone, and I am grateful, but the silence of her death hurts much more than my swollen, achy jaw right now. Sometimes I just need my mom, and it is beyond difficult living without her.

Below are the signs of basal cell carcinoma. When in doubt, see your doctor (I always go and have the co-payments to prove it!). Basal cell skin cancer grows slowly and is usually painless. It may not look that different from your normal skin but some symptoms include:

• A skin sore that bleeds easily
• A sore that does not heal
• A scar-like sore without having injured the area
• Irregular blood vessels in or around the spot
• A sore with a depressed (sunken) area in the middle
• Sores can look pearly or waxy; white or light pink; or flesh-colored or brown

Posted in Cancer, Family, Life, Mommy, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 6 Comments