Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Stacey G.

Ever wonder if there’s a surefire way to get your lazy kids off the couch fast? Or move your husband? Just say you’re going to take a nap. All hell breaks lose.

879770_22708837Let me start at the beginning. We enjoyed eating at Vic’s All Star Kitchen on Saturday mornings. Nothing beat a big stack of hotcakes, thick smoky bacon, side of hash browns and a plate of toast to induce a coma later in the day. By noon, I could barely move much less keep my eyes opened.

I said to my family, “I’ll be upstairs. Taking a nap.”

“Okay. Can I have some friends over?” my daughter asked, bolting off the sofa and stuffing a bag of popcorn in the microwave.

“Talk to your dad. I’ll be in my room with the door shut. Try to keep it down.”

Ten nanoseconds minutes passed. My husband yelled as loud as a NASCAR announcer from the bottom of the stairs, “Remember guys. Be quiet. Mom’s sleeping.”

Attempting to sleep here!

After years of trying to get my son to try piano and violin lessons, he tapped his way from the kitchen, up the staircase, down the hallway and into his room with a pair of drumsticks that had been MIA for four years. Click, clack. My eyes fluttered opened like a moth around a porch light.

And not to be excluded, our dog, Stanley, expressed his displeasure regarding my nap as well. He sniffed under the door like a coon dog and catapulted his 20 pound body forward. He gave me a smug look as the door burst free, routed in the blankets and staked out a comfortable spot at the end of the bed.

“Buddy, if you’re quiet, I’ll let you stay,” I said, hopping up to shut the door. 

What’s that? Faint rustling of feet came from the staircase. Big man feet. Like a stalker, he paused, hesitated and then ever so slowly, turned the knob on the double doors. Kabong! Doors burst free. With a shuffle of sock feet, my husband whispered, “Don’t worry. It’s just me. I’ll be done in a second and out of here.” 

Yeah, right.

After using the toenail clippers and electric razor, he stomped out of the room, pulled the doors shut and yelled downstairs to my daughter, “I’m on my way!”

I drifted off for a couple of minutes.

From outside the opened window, I detected the whine of a chainsaw and the distinct smell of gasoline. When I married my husband, he was not a lumberjack. But Paul Bunyan decided to do a little light remodeling in the backyard. Now.

Oh, come on.

I popped up in bed, blinking like crazy. Out the window I spied a saw. And a tree. Timber. Next up, I watched as he reinstalled loose fence panels with a hammer. Bam, bam, buzzzzz. When finished, with a flourish he let out a big whistle for the kids to join him and admire his workmanship.

By that point, the dog couldn’t contain himself. He charged the open window and jumped up and down to get a peek at the commotion. Ruff, ruff, growl.

Finally, I stuck my head out the window and said, “Hey!”

“Mom, did you get a good nap? Come on out.”

Yeah, a full five minutes. 

“Look what Dad just did. Isn’t it great?”

“Looks fine. I’m coming.”

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I’m going to sack out on the couch. Quietest place in the house.


img_1042300x300Note:  Stacey writes the blog, “Are You Kidding Me.”  You can read her latest post HERE.

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I’m No Superwoman by Susan E.

I always kept it with me, hidden, and I took it out only when I was alone.  But one day, my best friend Tina discovered my secret. 

to do listWe had met for coffee. I opened my purse, and it fell on the table. Tina snatched it up before I could stop her.

“Let me see that! Is this your To-Do List?!” she said gleefully.

“Give it back!” I said, but she held it out of reach.

My To-Do List was two pages of single-spaced typing, and I had folded and unfolded it so many times that the edges were frayed. I had crossed off sentences and scribbled all over it.

“Sign up and train for 5K race,” Tina read aloud. “Cool! What race?” She had recently completed the Chicago marathon.

“I don’t know,” I said. “See, this is really more like a wish list.”

“But you’ve got these sticky notes saying ‘Buy groceries for dinner’ and ‘Take dog to vet.’”

“Well, some of it is stuff I actually do.”

“Condense to one freezer.” Tina added sugar to her coffee. “You have two freezers?”

I sighed. “Three.”

“Learn more about personal finances,” she read. “Are you doing that?”

I shrugged. “I intend to. Someday.”

Tina pointed to the list. “This would make me crazy and stressed. You’ll never get all this done. Look at all these books you listed: Poetry book by Mary Oliver, Joy School by Elizabeth Berg. How long have those been on your list?”

“Well, when I go to the library, I end up checking out magazines and books from displays. I don’t follow my list.”

“I like this one: Enter Oprah’s contest.” She sipped her coffee. “You enter contests?”


The last contest I entered had a deadline of midnight and I pressed “submit” at 11:58 p.m. I had two minutes to spare, but I doubted she would appreciate that.

“Here’s a good one: ‘Update To-Do List!’ Ha, ha!”

I was beginning to hate her. 

“I’m absent-minded,” I said. “I have to write everything down or I might forget something. One time I forgot to write down ‘Pick up Jimmy.’”

“You didn’t . . . .?”

I remember the incident well. I was checking email when the phone rang.

“Mom?” It was Jimmy. “Aren’t you going to pick me up?”


Tina shook her head. “You have to get organized, Sue.”

“This works for me,” I said huffily. Maybe I needed some new friends.

That evening, I pulled out my list. Should I ‘Clean out the hall closet’ or ‘Buy a floral centerpiece for the dining room table’?

Nah. I decided to use my talents.

I took a nap.

sue_for_linkedinNote: Susan Ekins is a writer and the founder of Women Making Strides, a blog that encourages women to be leaders in their own lives. Sue is the librarian at her church and a leader in Worldwide Marriage Encounter. Find her blog at www.WomenMakingStrides.com and her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1


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Inflatable Wonderland By Missy S.

giant-inflatable-snow-globes-they-xlIn the suburbs, our grocery stores have garden centers, and electronics sections that rival Costco. What else would we do with all this land? Green space? Bah. We got to have our refrigerators, we got to have our color TV’s (apologies to Dire Straits).

One early Saturday morning – really, really early, because I had soccer games to get to – I wandered past the garden center on my way to buy soccer team snacks. Since it was a weekend morning, and the kids were home with Dad rather than at my side begging for sugar cereal, I decided to stop and smell the begonias.

In mid-sniff, they caught my eye. Yard eggs.

The yard eggs were large and metal. They were as tall as my four-year-old, as wide as three of him, and on metal stakes, ready to be jammed into my mulch for the Easter season. They were ugly, the yard eggs. I assumed they were formed in a high school metal shop, and painted with discount bin colors.

For a full three minutes I debated buying the ugly yard eggs. That was the moment I realized the suburbs are eating my brain.

There is nothing more suburban than yard stuff. I’m not talking about yard art, like my beloved flying pig (I love her so much that she now lives inside, where she’s house art). I’m not talking about a discreetly placed gnome or two. No, I’m talking about yard eggs, seasonal flags ordered from Ballard Designs, and – the yard stuff to beat all other yard stuff – inflatables.

We just had Christmas in the ‘burbs. You probably had Christmas in the cities and rural areas, too, but I wouldn’t know. I don’t get out much. During the Christmas season you can’t walk half a block in the suburbs without meeting something inflatable. Sometimes it’s Santa, flying a rocket (why not? Sleighs are so… done), often it’s a snowman (corncob pipe, button nose, etc., etc.), occasionally it’s the nativity (wrong, wrong, wrong – we do not inflate the Baby Jesus).

My favorites this year were toddler-sized versions of Darth Vader and Yoda, wearing Santa hats, wielding light sabers, and standing together. My seven-year-old believes they put aside their differences for the season; otherwise, Darth and Yoda would never share a yard. A true Christmas miracle, I tell you.

813EsMrlMPL._SY450_Last Valentine’s Day I saw an inflatable Cupid. Hand to heaven. I’ve seen Easter bunnies bobbing in the spring winds, and giant jack-o-lanterns coupled with terrifying black cats (the eyes glow; it’s creepy). There was a Tom Turkey two streets over this year, until he popped when a strong wind blew a branch right into his juicy breast meat.

We’ve been in the suburbs almost seven years now. Thus far, I’ve avoided inflatables. I’m impervious to the begging. But Mooooommm, everyone has one! Exactly. They all have one, and we don’t need to take away from what they’re doing. Look out your windows, kids, enjoy the view.

I have, however, acquired a rattan reindeer. Truthfully, I had a total of three rattan reindeer. Two of them have passed on, the elements too much for them. One literally lost his head last Christmas, and as I carried deer parts to the trash, I said, “I understand, brother. The holidays are rough on us all.”

This year I had just one, tiny reindeer, and a solar-powered, light-up Santa orb. He was cute, sitting on his stake, plunked into a pot of red cyclamen flowers. Solar Santa replaced a googly-eyed jack-o-lantern in the mums. We don’t exactly have Fall in central Texas, but that doesn’t mean we don’t decorate for it, sister. Mum’s the word, and the potted plant of choice, from October through November.

While yard stuff alone may be enough for Halloween, Easter, and the Fourth of July, at Christmastime you also need lights. And those lights better be lit at the appropriate time. I’ll explain.

1. Your Christmas lights can be applied to the house whenever Stu the Light Guy can get there. Stu charges less in September than in November.

2. If you catch Stu early and the lights are strung on your house before Halloween, that’s fantastic. Do not turn them on yet. If you like getting the side-eye at school pick-up, go ahead and light ’em, but I’m trying to help you.

3. Most years, when Thanksgiving falls a full month or more before Christmas, your lights must turn on no earlier than the day before Thanksgiving, no later than Thanksgiving night.

3a. In years when Thanksgiving creeps closer to Christmas, it’s acceptable, but not preferable, to turn on your lights a week or so before Thanksgiving. Pre-turkey day lights are a little weird, but you probably won’t be on the receiving end of whispers at the next school function.

A tip: Invest in a timer, and ask Stu to set it so your house is glowing from dusk until at least 11 p.m.; midnight is better.

I should note that we have a one-story home – a shanty by suburban standards – so my handy husband hangs our lights and installs the timer. If, however, we get a “house with stairs like everyoooone else” (sorry, kids), I’m calling Stu in August. Bet on it.

Yes, fine. I admit it: I am drinking the suburban Kool-Aid, and it tastes a lot like pinot grigio. I drink it at those damn parties where you’re expected to buy a bag or bracelet or pizza cutter. First of all, that is the best pizza cutter I’ve ever owned. Secondly, someone should really start a Yard Stuff House Party company. We would go nuts for that out here in the ‘burbs.

(Go ahead and put me down for the inflatable Christmas ornaments I’ve had my eye on ever since Judy over on Shenandoah Lane got some.)

 note:  Missy writes the blog Wonder, Friend.  You can read her latest blog post HERE.


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“How to Figure out What You Want to be Next: A Practical Guide” by Amy N.

Suburbia GraphicThere is a revolution going on and I am part of this revolution.

I don’t know you and who you were “before mommyhood” (BM), but I was a girl on the move, with a hot job (mostly), doing hot things (interpretable and debatable) and wearing cute outfits with killer shoes and yummy bags (not debatable, but definitely lamentable), and doing generally fun stuff in New York City.

Now, the above stuff, at the time, seemed like a dream that would never end, but that dream had its major speed humps of stress, and a general feeling that something wasn’t right, something didn’t jive in my soul (I use this word a lot, get ready.)

Life marches on, you hit 30, you get the baby-bug, you need to escape from it all. And that I did – to a pretty place in upstate NY that soothed my frayed nerves, and let me hitch myself to someone else’s wagon – namely my husband’s – in the form of business school.

Sure, I’d go, I’d be a supportive wife and go on this journey with him – where it would lead, I never would have guessed at the time, but we left there 2 years later with baby bunny number 1 in the oven, back to NYC, and eventually New Jersey, where I grew up.

photo_on_92211_at_5.07_pm_3My once semi-glamorous life had completely morphed into an unrecognizable suburban blahness, complete with us living in my in-laws house. Yes, you read that right, the IN-LAWS.

Now, before I get attacked for being an ingrate, yes, there are some wonderful things about being with your in-laws, most of which are utterly guessable, such as free babysitting and the wonderful experience of your kids growing up with their grandparents. Not to mention that we were finally able to pay off some big-time debt!

The downsides are ones that are also guessable; can’t come downstairs without a bra? Check. Don’t really feel like getting your groove on with mom and dad down the hall? Check , check. (fabulous for your marriage/sex life by the way). There are a few more (just a few), but that’s a whole other post!

Unfortunately, some of these aforementioned downsides only helped to degrade the person I once was – the enthusiasm, the energy, the spark! was all but lost – the woman inside who was just now on the sidelines still going for the ride, and wanting desperately to find a way off this train seemingly to nowhere.

I finally did it. Four years (I know) and a second child later, I found my way out of the maze rigged not to be solved. I created the escape and discovered the beautiful life that lay just on the other side.

I was only to create it and leave the guilt behind of taking the time for myself that I so desperately needed to get back to me, without losing my precious time with the kids, and actually rediscovering my husband, who had become a stranger over the past 5 years.

What I did was two-fold:

First, I finally started a new career in something that always interested me: Voice Over. I had an actress friend who urged me on and hooked me up with her studio to get the ball rolling. I was told I “had talent”, could do this as a career, and got my butt trained and ready to go!

Creating this reality for myself after all the years of reading, debating, researching, pondering, fantasizing about getting into it was actually here.

It felt great to TAKE ACTION and finally go after my passions…. Which led me to the second thing I did to break out of my Lost in Suburbia life – I launched my web site: Next Life Ventures. Helping Moms Uncover Their Passions and Rediscover Themselves.

Over all these years (I’m talking before college), what I hadn’t realized I was doing – reading and researching not only about voice over – but also about HOW TO UNDERSTAND and FIND YOUR PURPOSE. I have been searching for this “key” forever if feels like.

When I began speaking to other moms, I found they were sort of lost, wandering around and wondering what to do next, too.

We all loved being moms and valued our time with our kids more than anything. The big 1,000 lb gorilla in the room was always that we all wanted to do SOMETHING. We wanted to bring in an income, engage our very intelligent brains and do something that mattered, something we were truly passionate about.

Hence, a web site is born. I started to put together all the resources, articles, coaches, writers, speakers, visionaries, etc etc, that I had come across in my journey, and continue to come across every day! I also share stories of my journey to discover my true purpose and passions, along with profiles of amazing mamas who are living their legends.

I was lost and now I am found. Connecting with other moms and women who have this dazed and confused feeling is so rewarding when they tell me they found some interesting, inspiring connection, helpful information or insight from NLV.

Sometimes, the key resides within you, if you can muster the courage to look inside.

note: We finally moved out of the in-laws house! wohoo! I knew you were wondering…. 🙂

Amy writes the blog, Next Life Ventures. You can read her latest post HERE.

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Mini “Magic Mike” by Devon O.

My son, C., was outside playing before dinner last night.

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 5.29.04 PMI left him outside while I went in to start cooking; I told him he had five minutes and then he had to come in to eat. I busily started cooking, and when the five minutes were up I went outside to collect him. I opened the door and he was standing on the sidewalk completely naked. Well, let me clarify… he DID have some Spiderman tennis shoes on and his shorts and underwear appeared to be in a pool around his ankles. But he was naked enough. My mouth dropped to the floor and for a second I couldn’t even speak, I was so shocked.

“C.!” I hissed, “what are you DOING?? Get in here, right now!”

C. began to frantically pull up his pants, apologizing. I was now walking a fine line; I don’t want him to think there is anything wrong with his body, or parts of his body, and I didn’t want him to be too embarrassed; just enough so that he wouldn’t engage in public nudity anymore. Once the pants were back on, I ushered him inside.

“What were you doing without pants on, buddy?”

“Well, another boy had to go pee and he couldn’t find a bathroom so he peed on the sidewalk. Then I wanted to pee on the sidewalk, so I did, and I made a shape with my pee.”

“Okay, but when I went out neither one of you were peeing.”

“Yeah, well after I went I wanted to show him my privates.”

Oh god, I thought, he’s going to grow up to be a creepy flasher! One of those weird guys that sit in the bus station and whip it out for passerby.

Calm down, self, calm down.

“WHY did you want to show someone else your privates? You know we’ve talked about how certain parts of our bodies are only okay to be shared with ourselves or a grown up you trust, right? They’re called privates for a reason, right?”

“Yeah Mommy, but I HAD to show him.”


“Because my privates do tricks.”

I don’t even want to know. I really don’t even want to know. Boys are a strange breed.

Note:  Devon writes the blog, Little Bits of Pixie Dust. You can read her latest post, HERE!


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Season of Change by Marcia D.

Before going through “the change of life,” I was a very tolerant person.

njfklnvghjrklvnrf copyBut somewhere between screaming like a wild Banshee in the delivery room to my first hot flash, I became less tolerant. It didn’t happen all at once, but gradually, like the leaves in New England; I went from vibrant green to crusty brown. In my youth, I never understood the impatience and general crankiness of elderly people. Now that I am a card carrying AARP member, I have a license to be cantankerous. It doesn’t take much to spark my temper or tap dance on my last, sane nerve.

For instance:

It never used to bother me when people bought the newest gadget on the market. Back in the dinosaur days, that included microwaves, cordless phones and cassette tape players. Today, everyone HAS to own the latest technological wonder: iPhone, iPad….iBidet and i-Don’t-Care.

I have also become increasingly annoyed by people who feel compelled to update me daily on their latest exercise regimen/diet plan. I’m standing in line at the bakery and they’re all like, “Wow, I just lost 5 pounds!” and I’m thinking, “Butter cream or chocolate mocha frosting on those cupcakes?”

And what’s up with the fickle bladder in middle age? I used to be like a camel that could store fluids for days…but now this camel needs a colostomy bag.

I don’t have time for people with Type A personalities. When I was younger, I was accused of being one; I admired those powerful, aggressive people fighting for a cause. Now their passion exhausts me and I just don’t have patience for their soapbox drama. I’d rather be playing corn hole with a band of merry meerkats.

When I’m feeling particularly grumpy, the last thing I want to hear is how great your expensive, African safari was, how awesome your kid is at underwater basket weaving and how excited you are for buying that lucky, five million dollar lottery ticket.

Unless you’re feeling charitable enough to pay off my mortgage, I really don’t want to know how the planets aligned perfectly for you while I’m stuck in the crossfire of a meteor shower.

What disturbs me more than anything is menopausal fatigue. I used to be like the Energizer Bunny. I could simultaneously flip a pancake, nurse a baby, donate $100 to the penguin tuxedo fund and practice my Irish Riverdancing steps, all within five minutes. Now I’m yawning at 10:30 a.m. (and this is after two cups of coffee strong enough to invigorate the Walking Dead). All I want to do is hibernate under a quilt until somebody rings the dinner bell. I WAKE FOR STEAK!

I’ve hit my 50’s like the last person in a bounce house stuck in the corner crack with no one there to pull me out. Never fear, this cranky, Menopausal Mama will persevere!

Note:  Marcia writes the blog Menopausal Mother. To read her latest post, click HERE!


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Getting Comfortable with a Little “Me” Time by Linda W.

What a bizarre concept…To begin finding time for me, when its been all about them.

bubblebath-2 copyFor the last 20 years, 21 if you count the pregnancy, (and my body was clearly not my own!) it’s been all about my husband and kids (and not necessarily in that order).

I’ve never found anything that fit me as well, or made me as fulfilled, as being a parent. It’s been an amazing adventure and now the rules are changing.

I’m still a parent, though I’m not wiping noses or tushies, and a lot of my fun teachable moments seem to have become more serious ones, as my kids move into adulthood and become more independent (the joys of teen years!).

Admittedly, I’m not the best Susie Homemaker, (what I lack in “Martha Stewart”, I make up for in love and affection). Filling my day, by taking care of their needs, became my purpose. I have to admit, it feels better to focus on them, than me.

Now that my youngest is a senior in high school, those who know me well, are telling me that I will need to find something to occupy my mind and time (other than worry), once the 24/7 “mommyness” (carpools, school volunteering, bake sales, helping with homework, etc…) literally packs up and moves away.

I better start looking for that something now. Not waiting until the youngest leaves, and I’m hearing the echo of an empty house, to figure it out.

I can’t imagine a more odd feeling than having so much time for myself or not being the bottom rung on the totem pole.

Not that I minded.

It’s not that carving out a little time for me sounds bad. On the contrary, the moments that I find here and there, are like a gift. Even more so, when it’s a precious commodity. However, I’m not so sure I would ever want to be as “me” centric as when I was single.

I guess I have no choice, but to ease into it, like I have every other stage of parenting. Wish me luck.…

Note: Linda writes the blog, Carpool Goddess. You can read her latest post HERE!


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