Old School Blogging: Reflections

I’m linking up with Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life for a little Old School Blogging and today I’m doing some major reflecting on jobs I’ve had, idols, personal accomplishments and my last meal….

Who do you idolize?
The 15-year-old in me wants to shout Dave Matthews because… Dave Matthews.

The mother in me wants to say my fertility doctor because… Lola.

But really, anyone who has more creativity than me, whether it’s artistically, or musically, someone who can look at the contents of my refrigerator and cupboards and come up with an amazing meal, people that can draw anything other than a stick figure, people who are kind beyond measure and go out of their way consistently to do things for others, people that write and speak effortlessly and with passion and conviction, these are the people I idolize.

What is something you are really proud of that you have accomplished?
I hope it goes without saying that I’m really proud of my children and my marriage (most days).

I also love that I have kept up with an exercise regime that works for me and makes me feel good. I walked 534 miles in 2014!

I’m proud of the many 5Ks I’ve participated in, the one half-marathon and three (!) Susan G. Komen 3-day walks.

I’m really proud of the infertility column I wrote for SheKnows. I shared what I was experiencing on a day-to-day basis with my own struggle and it was always from my heart. I know that my words helped other women battling infertility and hopefully still do.

I’m proud that I submitted and read a piece I wrote in front of a large audience for Listen To Your Mother two years ago.

What is something that you are not so proud of?
I am not proud of my behavior sometimes. I hate that I get to a point with my son where I yell. I hate yelling!! We seem to be having a listening problem.

I have a tendency to be selfish and fly off the handle, as they say. My husband gets the brunt of it and it’s completely unfair. I’m working on my patience level and lowering my expectations.

Who was your best friend when you were 5, 6, or 7? Tell me something about them.
Charmaine was my first sleep-over-mimic-the-dance-moves to Grease 2-shaved-my-legs-with-for-the-first-time real friend. We met in second grade while both living in Karachi, Pakistan and are still friends today. She lives in Holland and I haven’t seen her since 1985 but I love that we have kept in touch over the years.

What is one thing you wish you could still do but may seem impossible right now?
A really good cartwheel or the splits. For as much yoga and other exercise that I do, I am so not flexible.

If you could chose it, what would be your last meal?
Filet Mignon with peppercorn sauce, my husband’s twice-baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, a glass of The Dreaming Tree Cabernet and cannoli for dessert.

What are two or three jobs you’ve had that you liked?
There are aspects of every job I’ve ever had that I really enjoyed. Mostly the people and relationships, and there were aspects that were downright awful. Mostly the people. Just kidding. I’m most grateful for working in publishing at two different companies, Fancy Publications and Crain Communications.

I think my favorite job was my early years of working in an advertising agency. The creativity and buzz was electric and I really felt a part of something special. It was my dream job. I thrived on the impossible deadlines and late hours, until I didn’t.

What is one job that you did not like?
The first job I accepted out of college I hated mainly because of the bitchy women and I worked with and also because I was asked to change my name. Long story but there was another Tonya on staff so I went by my middle name. It was a stupid and regrettable decision on my part.

What is your least favorite chore around the house?
Hands-down unloading the dishwasher!

How tall are you? Do you wish you were taller? Shorter?
5′ 7 1/2″ and I’m okay with it. I haven’t always been, especially when dating shorter guys.

How old are you? What is something you have learned in those years that you want to share?
I am 42 and a 1/2 and yes, the half is still important to me today as it was when I was 5 and a 1/2!

I’m still learning, but one thing lately I know for sure is that when being seated at a restaurant, it’s okay to say, “I don’t want to sit here, can we find another table?”.

I also cannot implore younger women enough to take care of their skin… sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen! Apply it everywhere, not just your face but your entire neck and upper chest. I wish I had started that process a lot earlier.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve grown more comfortable in my skin and with my body and that is something I never thought would happen.

What is one of your favorite quotes on love, life or motherhood (choose one)?
I am a collector of quotes so this is nearly impossible to answer, but one that I come back to over and over again is: “And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful then the risk it took to blossom.” – Anais Nin

But I also love: “Always be a first rate version of yourself, and not a second rate version of someone else.” – Judy Garland

And there’s this one: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasures; and have courage when things go wrong.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Okay, so it Lego or Legos?

I have always said Lego singular but my husband always says Legos plural and it drives me nuts.

It is quite possible that he adds the s just to irk me.

Whatever you call them, I hate them! They are murderous when stepped on and so difficult to keep away from baby’s tiny fingers.

Lucas and his dad spend hours together with the interlocking pieces of genius that foster fun and creativity and he is completely obsessed, as demonstrated by the number of places I find the delightful and colorful plastic bricks throughout our house. And I’m not just talking about in between the couch cushions, although we do find them there.


I’m referring to all the other the random places! These photos were taken over the course of ONE WEEK.

legoa legobI couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.

If you have a child who plays with Lego, where is the oddest place you’ve found them?

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Loving & Loathing The Holidays

This is a hard time of year for many people.

Myself included.

From the week before Thanksgiving through January 1, I waver between being on the verge of a complete panic attack, find myself anxious and excited with everything there is to do to prepare for the big days ahead, feel tempted to stick a fork in my eye over complete frustration, exhibit weepy and melancholy behavior over people I miss, how pretty all the lights are and the kindness of strangers, I’m more exhausted during the holiday season than any other time of year and I am filled with a sense of blissful happiness. During this time frame, I can go through this cycle on a daily basis.

I’m a mess.

I simultaneously love and loathe the holidays.

Pulling three bins of Christmas crap out of the garage and untangling lights is the worst. Lola’s mild but curious interest in the tree and ornaments? Magical.


The hunt for the perfect gift, piles and piles of presents, marathon wrapping sessions and ribbon paper cuts? I loathe it all! The look on their faces when they open your gift = AWESOME!


Baking with Lucas? Yes, please! Eating half a dozen cookies and having to workout a little harder… BLAH!!


The daily To Do list? No, thanks. Crossing items off, however, feels great.


Spending time with friends doing holiday related activities? Love it.


Receiving beautiful holiday cards in the mail? J’adore! Picking a decent family photo, designing a card, addressing and stamping 200 envelopes… not so much.


The Elf of the Shelf? The jury is still out, but we are definitely having fun with it!


What do you love and/or loathe about this time of the year?



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Timing My Online Life

My friend Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life recently posed the question: how many hours do you think you spend online each day? My response was as follows:

Hard for me to say, a good solid two hours every night after the kids go to bed and periodically throughout the day… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, games, etc. All on my iPhone. Maybe five hours total?

When I read blogs or write or comment, it’s usually on my laptop and nowadays that is maybe five hours per week, if I’m lucky.

Just this week for the first time Lucas asked me point blank, “Mom, why are you on your phone all the time?” That stopped me in my tracks.

I was completely guessing and in all honesty really had no idea but felt it was too much. 

I don’t work so I’m not in front of a computer all day and can’t seem to find the time to write very much anymore, but my phone is always within reach, on silent so I won’t react every time it makes a sound. I hate those people who hear a message alert that is not even their own and they grab their phone anyway. 

I thought it would be interesting to time myself daily for one week to see exactly how much time I actually do waste spend on my phone and I’m shocked at the results.

Happily shocked.

From Saturday, October 11 – Tuesday, October 21 each and every single time I used my phone or laptop, I started a stopwatch and at the end of the day, just before I fell asleep, I stopped it and captured a photo. Here are the results for nine days:

online life

I timed everything I did: looking up directions, composing texts, phone calls, searching Google, reading blogs, reading and responding to e-mails, posting to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, taking photos, editing photos, creating notes, listening to podcasts while walking, playing games, EVERYTHING! On average I spend just over three hours on my phone per day.

Incidentally, there is a smartphone usage tracking app (of course) called Moment ($4.99 on the App Store) and the creator, Kevin Holesh designed it for the exact reasons I wanted the data. “Since it’s so difficult to convince ourselves to leave our smartphones alone, Holesh said he wants people to at least find a balance of “connected and disconnected” that’s right for them.

So often make excuses for the reasons we are online and the time it takes us away from our family and friends and what’s really important and all that time can really add up.

My goal was to track my usage for one week but I ended up doing it for 11 days because it was easy and I found it so interesting. It turns out that scrolling through my Facebook feed, posting a cute pic of my kids or playing my turn in Words With Friends doesn’t take nearly as long as I thought it did.

I wonder if my usage was reduced because I was aware of the experiment. I noticed I didn’t comment as much on Facebook, read as many articles or view as many YouTube videos.

The majority of phone time was late at night when I didn’t have anyone to attend to, when I should have been reading or writing (!) or talking to my husband, however, he is a lights out at 10 o’clock kind of person and I stay up until midnight almost every night. After we caught up and watched a show or two on TV, I turned to my phone. Perhaps I’d get a more restful sleep if I put my phone down.

I also timed my laptop usage, although during the 11 days I only used it once and for roughly an hour.

If you have ever wondered about your phone usage, I encourage you to try this challenge and please share your results. And relax, it’s probably not as much as you think!

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The Great Debate [In My Head]

I hear Lola stir in her crib upstairs just as I’m half way through an article on the Today Parents Website. She’s cooing and talking joyfully at first and then her pleads became more urgent.

I know as I climb the stairs to her room I’ll never finish the article. I’ll never get back to any of the tabs open on my laptop. At least not today. I’m excited to see my baby as she has been napping for over an hour and we can now take our daily walk and play and look at books together but I’m also dismayed that the quiet me time I had been enjoying for the last 90 minutes is now over. I didn’t accomplish nearly as much as I had hoped.  Damn it! Why didn’t I spend more time writing?! 

One of the things I have tried to instill in Lucas is this mantra:


Chores before play, put away one game before setting up another, errands before park, etc.

I first heard it two years before I became a mother in the 2007 movie, The Great Debaters with Denzel Washington. I liked it then and love it now that I have children. I’ve also  tried to follow it myself and it seems to work (most of the time) with my son.

My days are long and start the second my feet hit the floor. Full of tasks I have to do…

Make beds.

Make breakfasts, lunch, snacks, bottles.

Care for the dog.

Lay out clothes.

Change the baby.

Pick up stray socks, dirty bibs, Lego.

Assist Lucas as he packs his backpack.

Load the car.

It’s no different in your house.

Mornings are particularly and notoriously busy for households with children, trying to get everyone what they need to start the day.

A mom’s “have to do’s” last All. Day. Long. As soon as one need is met, it is followed up with another and another and another. And even our free time is not our own because when the kids are in school or napping is when the real work happens. I mean, who can sweep the floor with an adorable seven-month-old scooting around or an anxious Kindergartener ready to play another round of UNO? I certainly can’t.

So, alas… the things I want to do fall by the wayside. I make sure to exercise five days a week because if I don’t, I start to get twitchy. But apart from that, all I want to do lately is write. Writing is tricky, I can’t just sit down at my desk and write, I have to first peruse the Internet, respond to an e-mail, pay a bill, place a Diapers.com order, take a Buzz Feed quiz, get lost in the vortex that is Facebook.

I must tell myself every morning: After the kids are in bed and dinner is cleaned up and put away, I’ll stay up late and write.

And every night I crash within minutes of my children or I fall into bed too exhausted to do anything but exchange a few words with my husband and watch another episode of Chopped while I play Words With Friends.

Sigh! It’s the great debate in my head these days… when to write. Not what to write, just when?!?!

I was on a roll the other day and considered giving Lola a piece of paper to keep her occupied for a few minutes. And then I thought better and got down on the floor with her and worked on spit bubbles and mouth noises. It was time better spent, but my head is on overdrive and I must find some hours in the day to devote to writing. 

Do you struggle with this too? When do you find the time to do the things you’re passionate about?

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A Good Cry

Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks) when nothing is really wrong yet nothing is really right?

It’s hard to describe.

You continue to go through the motions and you’re content and things throughout the day make you smile, but there’s still a pit in your stomach, a lump in your throat.

You feel… off.

You have a lot on your mind and it’s weighing heavy on your heart. The words aren’t there, just the feelings and your thoughts range from everything will be okay to it’s so awful.

Maybe it’s a lack of sleep or an overwhelming to do list, feeling misunderstood and under appreciated, a devastating news story you read about, a child that refuses to stay little, a friend that has disappointed you forcing you to see them in a whole new light, being the recipient of a kind and generous gesture, worried about another friend’s health prognosis and overall well being, learning that a family member has died, a combination of all of the above.

Whatever it is, you’re on the verge of tears.

Stress eating and a shopping spree don’t help, nor does wine or a long walk. That’s when you know it’s really bad.

Suddenly and mercifully, when you least expect it, you let it go.

All of it.

Unprompted by a song on the radio or a Kleenex commercial on TV, you cry.

A good cry.

A healing cry.



When was the last time you had a good cry?


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I love my neighborhood; it’s quiet, safe, close to the freeway, airport, my husband’s work, Lucas’s school, numerous parks, the kid’s pediatrician, a library and countless other things we love to do. But my favorite thing about my neighborhood is that our house is only 1.50 miles from a major street that I can walk to with Lola in tow and complete errands! 

Monday, I went to the bank, met a friend for lunch, bought Lola some teething tablets at Sprouts (a natural food store), Sharpies at Staples and Fourth of July goodies. Oh, and I got my Starbucks fix.

I love it when things are close.


What do you love most about where you live?

I don’t know if anyone does Wordless Wednesdays anymore, but this is my offering this week.

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Explaining Homelessness To A Five-Year-Old

Wouldn’t it be extraordinary if we could shield our children from the ugliness of the world, protect them from the real bad guys, drugs, poverty, racial insensitivity, discrimination and despair, but we can’t. Try as we might, it exists.

Sometimes it’s standing on the corner of a neighborhood you frequent, staring you right in the eye, daring you to face it is as a parent, forcing you to look at it through your child’s eyes, imploring you to make better choices, to make a  difference.

We saw a young woman this past weekend on the corner as we were entering the freeway, she was young, maybe mid-20s. She was holding a sign that said something like: Homeless. Need help – anything you can offer. God bless you.

We kept driving and as we did, Lucas asked what the woman was doing. He wanted to know why she was standing there and wanted to know what her sign said. We explained to her that she had no home and needed help.

You mean she has nowhere to live?

Why doesn’t she just go to the hotel and stay there?

We explained that hotels are expensive and she probably can’t afford to stay there, especially if she’s out on the street asking for money.

Why doesn’t she get a job and then she’ll have money and then she can stay at the hotel and then she won’t be homeless anymore?

We told him that there are many reasons why people are homeless; she may be trying to get a job but she can’t make enough money to stay at a hotel. She probably needs money to just eat.

If she gets a job she’ll have money and then she can eat and stay at the hotel.

We told him there could be many reasons why she can’t find a job, maybe she doesn’t have an education, maybe she’s on a lot of medications (in lieu of getting into what drugs are) that impair her brain so it isn’t working properly. We assured him that it was okay to feel sad for her and her situation.

What will she do when she does get money?

Trying to remain positive, we told him she would most likely get something to eat or find an inexpensive place to stay, like a shelter. 

This went back-and-forth a little bit longer and then all of a sudden as if he realized that the concepts we were so delicately trying to explain were too hard for him to comprehend at this young age, he suggested we should talk about something else.

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Lucas is very astute and whether he realizes it or not, in many cases we answer his questions as simplistically as we can and let him dictate where the conversation goes and how it ends.

A day later, out of the blue Lucas asked me if we had money. I said yes, we have enough money to buy the things we need and some extras from time to time and then asked why he was asking. He said that seeing the woman by the freeway had made him sad and that if we have money we should have given her some. I told him that we could have bought her lunch but by giving her money she may not spend it in a way that would help her. This was way over his head. To him, she needed money and she needed a place to stay and money is the way to obtain those things. All that came out of his sweet five-year old mouth was a quiet “oh”.

How do you explain a topic so big and abstract as homelessness to young children?

How do you become part of the solution and not the problem?

How do you tell your child that you can’t hand out money to every person asking for it?

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