Hurricane Tornado Crazy Mom.

Hi.  It’s me.  I was going to write about how skinny people get wrinkles even though they’re skinny and my fat easily fills the lines on my face in but then I thought that wasn’t so nice.  Plus, who am I kidding, I have both fat and wrinkles.  So instead I will write about one of the biggest “oh my I’m raising sons” mistakes I’ve ever made.    This mistake has come back to haunt me and I’ve dubbed it “I’m too tired to follow through on your bullshit” mistake.  You’re welcome for my technical and psychological expertise.

So this is how it goes.

MOM:  “Clean your room.”

SON:    “OK Mom, I will….after I finish this game.”

MOM:   “OK” (I naively and foolishly comment)

Two days later I realize that he never cleaned his room.  Do I follow through?  It depends on my energy level.  To be honest I often repeat myself until I’m so damn tired and realize that it’s easier to pick up his dirty clothes myself.  MISTAKE ALERT! WHOOT WHOOT WHOOT!

My sons have trained me, outlasted and outsmarted me.  They have won the resilience battle.  It’s really not fair because I have three kids to follow through with and they only have one mother to push back on.  I am the ONLY woman in this household except my dog Mocha!  What was I thinking?   And let me say something about my Mocha.  She’s a sweetheart.  She keeps her brother Cap clean and licks the gunk out of his eyes while her eyes are matted like crap because he is not going to clean her because he is MALE.  OK I digress.

So then I erupt into this huge monster hurricane tornado kind of mom and am met with complete embarrassment and attitude.  “Seriously, like my other friend’s moms don’t behave this way.” To which I will reply “I AM FRIENDS WITH THOSE MOMS AND YES THEY DO!”  What usually then follows is an exaggerated walk to the refrigerator by (pick any of my son’s names) and a slow drink of water until he sloooowwwwly goes upstairs to take four hours to clean a room that should have taken five minutes.

Dear future daughter-in-laws I am so very sorry.

One day I wrote a note to my son Ryan.  The note said “Ryan, is that your plate in the basement I see on the TV cabinet?”  Later when I passed that note I saw a reply.  The reply said “Maybe.”  OUT came the hurricane tornado mom only to find that he cleaned up his damn plate and now I AM the crazy one….again.

My point is?  I try.  I really try to follow through.  To be honest I do a great job until they turn 16. That’s a magical age.  That’s when the hormones and the body odor and the attitudes all peek at once and it’s just easier to hide from them.  That’s when you feel like a boxer in a boxing ring and wonder where you went wrong and why you’re feeling down for the count.  As they approach twenty you start to understand that you don’t care where you went wrong and start to dream about beach homes and long vacations.

But for now?  I’m Hurricane Tornado Crazy Mom.  However when my husband intervenes and puffs out his chest and sternly tells them to listen?  I’m SUPER SULTRY SEXY WIFE!





No. I didn’t see your Facebook post.


No, I didn’t see your Facebook post or maybe I did and just didn’t focus on it.  I liked something or I didn’t like something or I was lazy and switched gears and went to a news site.  If you think that I’m intentionally ignoring you or selectively using social media to send you a message then you need to understand that social media is not a good tool to measure human interactions and relationships.  I have the attention span of a five-year old most of the time so please don’t read into what I do or don’t do on social media.   Be kinder to yourself.  You’re worth more than what Facebook wants you to believe.

I’m not offended by what you say, what you write or what you do in your life.  If that changes I will simply unfriend you in real life.   I don’t believe you have a picture perfect life and I don’t believe you always look hot or skinny, because unlike your selfies I don’t view you from ten feet above your head.    You may be a great mom, but I also know that you really suck at motherhood because all of us do.  There’s no such thing as mother of the year.  Trust me, I know….I’ve been losing that contest for twenty-two years straight.   Your marriage isn’t perfect.  I know this because I’m married.  Your kids are great and I also know they suck.  I know this because I have kids.   You’re on vacation?  So was I!  Maybe you saw the pictures?  No?  That’s OK!  I’ll tell you all about it over lunch or I won’t.

No, I didn’t see your  Facebook post or maybe I did and just didn’t focus on it.  Pick up the phone and give me a call.

I knew I was in Sweden when…

IMG_0417It’s summer and that means I went to Sweden with the boys to visit family.

I knew I was in northern Sweden when:

  • I had to wear a knit hat on one particularly cold summer day.
  • My kids jumped into the lake fully clothed.
  • A mosquito took a nose dive towards my nether regions while I was on the toilet.
  • My son fed a worm to a baby bird. That baby bird is now dead because the mother was attacked by a cat.
  • I lost all desire to put on makeup, shave or wear any clothes other than sweat pants and Levi’s.
  • It took me a freaking hour to make hard-boiled eggs. Seriously what the heck is that? My sister-in-law said it’s because the eggs are so fresh.  No way. This is a country that imports lots of food and I’m not buying that.
  • I’ve made fire after fire to keep warm outside.
  • I’ve served my kids half and half instead of milk due to not reading Swedish labels and being half asleep.
  • Ice cream is now a food staple.
  • My kids added Tack, OY, and hej to their vocabulary.
  • I’ve been using the lawn tractor and push mower weekly.
  • I’ve become a one-handed warrior mosquito killer.
  • I’ve tried some jungle salt licorice candy that caused shooting pains up the sides of my jaw. Really guys?
  • Pork is not steak. Enough with the pork Sweden.
  • Have engaged in fun political discussions with my Swedish friends.
  • I have fished and fished and fished.
  • I went nuts when I discovered it was going to be hot one day at a high of 68 degrees!
  • I’ve enjoyed the most beautiful sunsets.IMG_1002.JPG
  • My kids have been outside running around every single day.
  • I went to Svansele and ate moose and artic char.
  • I saw a moose! A living one!
  • A Cinderella toilet has changed my life!

Not all of this is glamorous but it refreshes the soul.  There is plenty of time to get back into the hustle and bustle of life back in the U.S.  This is a gift to my sons, and is the number one reason why I don’t return to work; my annual summer month in Sweden.

Sweden has changed me.  I am two different people now.  Many of you see the sometimes sarcastic, introspective,  often humorous American friend and colleague.  In Sweden I can build a mean fire, bait maggots and worms on a hook, and can drive a lawn tractor so fast it puts landscapers to shame.   Being true to both of those personas is important to me.

I love you Sweden.  Until we meet again.  Back to my reality!



Politics and the death of integrity and character.

I don’t identify with our political two-party system.  I am fiscally conservative but believe in social responsibility. I have been blessed and don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes.  I think if you are healthy and able, you should be working in order to put food on the table.  I believe in a woman’s right to choose and yet I can’t stomach abortion.  I believe in the second amendment.  I believe in universal healthcare.

You can’t fit me into a box of political making and I firmly believe if you agree to put yourself into one of those boxes you are selling yourself short.  Policy is important and so is integrity, character, leadership, and honesty.  For this reason I am struggling to support many of our politicians on both sides of the aisle.

We are a nation divided.  We are torn between policy, politicians and our values.  I see so much hypocrisy, especially on Facebook.  I see church-going people post pictures of their kid in church and then use the word libtard and whiners in their next status update.  I see celebrities take pictures of a headless Trump and people defending it because “they did it to Obama too.”  NO.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  More people need to stand up for what is right.

INTEGRITY:  firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.

CHARACTER:  the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation.  moral excellence and firmness.  (Merriam-Webster)

The death of integrity and character is upon us.  We expect Congress to work together on healthcare but we can’t stop ourselves from spewing hatred on social media and at each other.  Change needs to happen.  We need to hold our politicians accountable and we need to hold ourselves accountable.   Be the change you want to see in the world and all that.  It starts with us.

So be brave.  If someone victimizes another because of their race or religion then speak up regardless of your affiliation or political party.  If you don’t support the President but someone disrespects him to such a disgusting length, then please speak up!  Don’t spread the toxic nature that is growing like a weed between the citizens of this great country.

Stop making excuses and don’t justify horrible behavior.  Don’t use someone’s past transgressions as a justification for present transgressions because quite frankly, it doesn’t make it right, it only makes it petty.

Be brave.  Be human.  Be true.

And for goodness sake….vote more and hold all candidates to a higher standard.  Our values as Americans are on the line and it’s not pretty.

The lesson your kids may be missing.

This week was a tough parenting week.  Worst week ever!    My motherhood crown came flying off of my head.  I handed in the trophies and went into a corner and wallowed in cluelessness and self-pity.  My weakest personality trait reared its ugly head and served me a nice big cup of wake the hell up coffee.  I also had a bit of an epiphany so it’s all good.

So that’s what I’m going to cryptically write about today.  This week I have realized that I was the weakest link in my sons’ perspective on life and the people around him.  I taught him how to be kind to others but I didn’t fully teach him how to be compassionate to himself.

You see, I always see the good in people.  ALWAYS.  I’m a typical victim.  I’m the girl who dated guys that were bad for her because, well, there were good moments too.  I’m the friend who put up with so much negative bullshit because sometimes that friend was actually kind and supportive.  I’m the person who will put herself last and put others first even when they absolutely don’t deserve it.  I’m an annoying optimist and pride myself on my own strength.  That strength is also a weakness because I will hold up the world alone, to my own detriment and sing “Don’t Worry Be Happy.”

When I was younger, my mom told me that sometimes people are just not good for you.  In fact, I’ve given her that advice also.  Why would I listen to my own advice?  I have now taught my children to see the goodness in everyone and it’s blowing up in my face.   When you don’t teach your children to hold others accountable for their actions or inaction, you are invalidating their worth.

Invalidating their worth.

The truth is that some people are jerks.  Some people are selfish and not everyone shares your values.  Going into a situation and automatically believing that someone who has already let you down over and over will change or switch gears is just a fantasy.  If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s a duck.  No it’s not a prince or a friend, it’s a damn duck.

Actions speak louder than words.

So I have reversed course a bit with the kids.  Be kind but be kind to yourself and others.  Forgive those who want to be forgiven, not the person who will take a dump on you again.  Don’t sacrifice yourself to save someone else.  YOU ARE WORTHY of all the love and support and friendship life has to offer and YOU CAN BE PICKY about who you give your own love and time and support to.  STOP wasting time with people who take take take and then take again.  You know who your true friends are so stop wasting time with the ones that just don’t matter.

Mic drop.



The Romanian Travel Prayer

When we travel overseas I become “that American person,” in a sea of different languages and cultures.  I’m the one who asks strangers if they want me to take a picture of their family when I see them struggling with a selfie.  I smile and strike up random conversations.  I once helped a silent monk find a way to his airline gate with the help of other friendly American passengers who were going in the same direction.  Americans, by their very nature are weird friendly.  On one particular visit to the grocery store, my Swedish mother-in-law asked me if I knew the woman who was shopping at the deli counter because we struck up a mutual friendly conversation about some jacket she was wearing.   When I told her I had no clue who this person was, she expressed surprise and simply shook her head.  This behavior, to complement a stranger, to offer help or assistance is very American and is a behavior I am very proud to display.  Of course this is different than the American who wears bright white tennis shoes and who loudly asks if there is a Jack-in-the-Box fast food restaurant in the middle of Cannes because they haven’t had a decent thing to eat in France (true story).  Oh the stereotypes we create in the places we must go!

On one particular business trip to Paris with my husband, this weird friendliness came out in full force.  It was December and Paris was getting hit with a ton of snow .  Our plane was sitting on the runway, still in view but the airport was a mess. Technically we missed our flight because the doors were closed and therefore had “departed.”   My husband and I got into a long customer service line to rebook our trip.  He went into full business survival mode intent on rebooking our way home surrounded by travel chaos.

Then I saw her.

A grandmotherly Romanian woman was walking back and forth at the gate completely distraught.  It was clear she didn’t speak any English.  She looked scared and confused.  Much to my husband’s surprise I invited her to wait in line with us.  Somehow she had not been given any help, was supposed to be traveling from Austria to DC and was instead rerouted to Paris and didn’t understand why she wasn’t able to board the plane. She didn’t speak a word of French or English.  We let her use our cell phone to call her daughter in the U.S. who translated and helped us understand her predicament.

One look at my face and my husband knew I was going to temporarily adopt a grandmother.

We walked up to the counter and explained the situation to the frazzled agent.  It was clear that they were not rebooking many people right away and that we were all stranded for at least a day.   The relief on that agent’s face when I told her we would take care of this woman was priceless!  I can remember her repeating the words back to me “So you will take care of this woman and make sure she gets on the plane tomorrow?”  A resounding yes got us a free hotel room with my temporary grandmother down the hall, free dinner tickets and a seat in business class!

Upon arrival at the hotel we promised her daughter we would get her up on time for the flight.  Breakfast followed and a seamless flight home to Dulles airport ensued.  Home sweet home!    Rikard and I breezed through customs.  As I looked back I saw one of the border control agents giving our travel companion a difficult time.  Once again I looked at my husband who smiled as I ran back to the agent and told him the story.  They let her in the country once I vouched that she had a person in-country meeting her. The love and gratitude from this woman and her daughter warmed my heart.

But why am I telling you all of this?  Why now when this happened years ago?

Because today, years after this incident I found the gift she gave me.   Using Google translate I was able to finally understand the words on the card.  She gave me a Romanian travel prayer card that she had on her person!  This is the translation:

Save us and Keep us Safe, Travel Prayer.

Lord Jesus Christ, our God, all the way, the way, the truth and the life, and he traveled with your servant Joseph and with you my servant blessing my journey. Send me the guardian angel, to be my foreman And protector, to keep me safe from all evil happenings, that in peace and in health I will return to mine and all my life to glorify Your name, the Father of the Son and of the Holy Father

She kept this travel card as a talisman on her person because she was so nervous about flying.  I bet she prayed and prayed during this trip and just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong.  Giving this to me was a thank you that I didn’t even understand, a thank you for a prayer answered.  It is moments like this one that makes me understand even more that love and kindness are truly what make life worth living.

I’m a strong believer in making a difference in this world one person at a time.  Never underestimate the joy you can bring to another human being.  I often think of her when I see this card and now it means even more to me now that I have translated the words.  You’ve got to love Google translate!  It’s summer now and many of us are traveling.  Let’s spread love and kindness wherever we all go!












Fill your life with experiences not things (or Facebook)!

Last week I allowed the boys to spend their entire first week staring at their video games.   Epic mom fail alert!  The whites of their eyes started to get bloodshot!   Summer is here!

We have friends visiting from Sweden and on the first day, their young children woke up, had breakfast and ran outside.  Mine slept in and later grabbed their game controllers.  I had to ask myself some difficult questions.  Why did I think it was OK to leave them to their own devices just because my boys are older?  Older doesn’t necessarily mean they engage in productive activities, it simply means they are easier to ignore.   Truth!

When they were younger it was absolutely imperative that I plan outings.  Trips to the park, trips to the pool or outdoor activities drawing with chalk and riding their bikes were a daily occurrence.  As they got older they started to bicker, push back and drag themselves slowly out of bed.   At the same time I simply got tired of planning things and literally FIGHTING them to put on their bathing suits or get out of bed.  I GAVE UP!

I had to sit down and explain that to truly “live,” you had to fill your time up with experiences, not things.  We surprised Ryan with a birthday trip to NYC and we shut down Max’s iPad for the first time yesterday.  Ryan can’t stop talking about N.Y. and Max beat his mom, yours truly, at Monopoly and couldn’t stop smiling.  I casually left some other board games out and caught Ryan playing SORRY! with his friend later that evening.  The trampoline was cleaned off and the boys went outside and wound up gazing up at the sky and talking for a couple of minutes before it started to rain.

There’s a greater lesson here.  How many times are you on Facebook in one day?  How many times do you look at your phone?   Experiences in life are what makes you grow as a person.  Technology is really great but can also encourage you to be a passive observer in your own life.

It’ summer!  Let’s fill our time up with experiences so that we have stories to tell, not videos to post or stuff to show.   This message is for all of us, those with children and those without children.  Have an adult college student?  He or she needs to get a job.  That’s the activity you plan with that child!

Today the kids have plans to go to the pool with a friend and I’m heading off to the dementia care home.

Go out and LIVE.








Should you watch “13 Reasons Why?”

A scene from “13 Reasons Why” on NETFLIX

I just finished watching the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” a story about a young girl who commits suicide and leaves behind cassette tapes that detail how several “friends” and circumstances contributed to her decision to take her own life.  The series is based on a book with the same title.  There have been many comments about this series, some say that it glamorizes suicide and that it may be tricky or dangerous for your teen to watch.  Others say it opens up important dialogue and serves as an eye opener for parents and young adults.    Both assessments are true.  The series is graphic and depicts one horrible occurrence after another.  We’ve all been through our school years but the events in her life just go on and on.  It’s painful to watch in more ways than one.  If you are a parent or grandparent, this post is definitely one you should be interested in.

Should you watch this series?  I would say YES if you have a young tween or teenager in your life that may have even already watched this series or has access to Netflix.  What about your teen?  Should you let your teen watch this series?  I can’t answer that for you but I can tell you how I reacted and encourage you to view the season in its entirety beforehand.

After finishing the series I felt sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t stop talking about the plot to my husband and I felt dark, depressed and beyond sad.  I wanted to cry.  I’m an extremely sensitive soul so the end result of this series was despondency.  I can’t  even imagine how a sensitive and self-conscious teen would feel watching the same series.  If your son or daughter is facing a difficult situation in school, I fear that those feelings would only intensify after watching this story unfold.  For others, getting the message that it MATTERS how you treat others is a good one.  However, if your son or daughter is struggling or sensitive, I can see why reviewers show concern.  Our kids already know that school can suck.  This isn’t news to them.  Getting ugly confirmation after ugly confirmation, episode after episode can be soul crushing for many struggling teens.  They may see themselves in Hannah.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

This series brought a flood of school memories back.  I remember the bullies, the drug dealers, the boy who committed suicide and two kids who lost their lives to cancer.  I remember the girl in my dorm who was raped by Joe Cool and who disappeared quietly without any of us paying any attention.  There were girls cutting themselves, perverts exposing themselves and awkward and lonely children that no one helped.  Bullies were plentiful and usually came from broken and abusive homes.   I remember thinking that I could not wait to get the HELL out of school.

And after watching that series today I was in tears.  The fact of the matter is that there is pain all around us.  My parents probably knew some of these stories but they definitely did not know all of them.  Neither will we.  It’s worse for our children.  Our children are exposed 24/7 through technology.  We could go home but our children can not get away from it all.  Our children are under assault by social media.

Technology has brought a new dynamic to our children’s’ world and that dynamic cannot be underestimated.  As we allow our kids to go on Snapchat, Instagram and play with their smart phones continuously, we also open them up to a magnification of bullying and difficulties that can sometimes occur during those difficult teen years. They don’t have any reprieve.   Please do not dismiss the need for some peace and downtime.  Kids leave school and they are still exposed through their phones until they go to sleep.   Loudoun County has already had four suicides this year and the counselors, teachers and parents are at a loss for how to handle the ongoing tragedy in our neighborhoods.

“13 Reasons Why” is worthy of binge watching but I suggest you watch the series in its entirety before your child watches it, although many tweens have already done so.  I also would consider very carefully the type of child you have before exposing them to this story.  I believe it could make a teen who is already struggling feel even more sadness and hopelessness while at the same time, lead other teens to understand why empathy and giving a shit is more important than popularity.  The series does not suggest ways of getting help and exposes our teenagers to many graphic scenes, ones that should be a bit restricted in nature.

The creators of this series have signed up for a season 2.  As parents we must keep open a dialogue with our kids and pay attention to the world around them.  Ask them the hard questions.  Who are the bullies?  Are there drugs in the schools?  Do they see anyone suffering alone?  You may be surprised by their answers, especially if these questions are indirect and encourage dialogue.  Share with them ways to get help or how to give a lifeline to a friend in need.  The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433. Both are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Should you watch “13 Reasons Why?”  Perhaps, if only to keep up with the culture that surrounds our children and to start a conversation that more of us need to have with the ones we love.

My struggle with myself and anxiety.

In the last couple of years I have had quite a few changes in my life.  My husband is in the middle of a job transition, I am turning fifty, and I’ve started to suffer debilitating anxiety attacks while driving.   I’ve viewed these as three separate situations in my life until recently.  I now believe that my truth is a bit more complex than I had originally thought.

While discussing my anxiety with my mother, it came to light that she too started to suffer from panic attacks at my age.  There seems to be a link between hormonal chaos and anxiety.  My lucky husband!  First PMS and now this!  I have found numerous articles on the subject but of course my gyn/doctor says there’s no relation and suggested an antidepressant.  I declined her offer, not because I believe antidepressants do not help people, but because my symptoms were quickly dismissed. I’m also the kind of person who not only sees the glass as half full, but I also see sparkles in the water.   I don’t want to jump on medication as my answer without further investigation.

What do I mean by anxiety?  What were my symptoms? Continue reading

I AM….Two of the most powerful words in midlife.


In my childhood I was naive.  In my teen years I was insecure and a bit of a brat towards my parents.  My college years consisted of chaos and some education mixed in.  In my twenties I defined my adult identity but rushed it and would up married with a baby and unsure of my place in life.  In my thirties I was a divorced single mom.  In my forties I was mother to three, a wife and career minded.   This year I turn fifty and I am actively considering the new me.  I am trying to finish the phrase “I am.”

50! Continue reading