Monday, November 30, 2015

Family is What You Make It

I was raised in a big family. One of those big, obnoxious families that knew everything about everyone. Sometimes, it was a blessing, (like when I sprained my ankle and my entire family was in the waiting room waiting to make sure I was okay), and sometimes it was not, (like when my mom called my entire family when I got my period.)

After my grandmother passed away, my family started moving apart and things just... changed. 

My mom and dad moved first. Then my husband and I. Then, my sister and her family. Then my aunt and uncle. 

My mom has since passed. My dad is in and out of our life. My sister and her family, are mostly busy in their world. I see them from time to time, but it's not as often as I'd like. My cousins and I talk on social media, mostly. I randomly see my aunts and uncles if they come to Florida or if we go to New York. 

So this Thanksgiving, I invited my father to join us for the day. At first he said yes. Then, he mentioned that he told the guys at the Elks Lodge that he'd go there. I don't even remember the last time that he's seen my kids. I tell him just to let me know. He didn't even call. 

My dad isn't a spring chicken; this year, he turned 71. One would think that he'd want to spend it with his daughter, his grand kids.. 

Flipping through social media on and around the holidays is like stabbing myself with a red hot poker in the gut. It burns, badly. This sharp, deep, intense pain that I can't seem to shake. I hate seeing pictures of my friends or family with their extended family. I hate seeing my friends that I grew up with sharing a meal with their moms and dads.. I hate seeing their newborn baby or toddler, and even their big kids being loved on by their grandparents. 

I hate hearing even my best friends cheerfully sharing their family get together with me, or even their crazy psycho family moments. 

These are big, dark words that I don't often use, but around the holidays, I feel inundated with them. 

Then, I go shopping with the girls, and we go to Applebee's and have a couple of two-fers, and everything seems right in the world. Until we pass a woman, about my age, holding the door open for her 60 something year old mom, smiling and laughing as they enter the restaurant, my heart strings tear back open, throbbing, aching, burning inside. 

So other than that, Thanksgiving was good. I made my mother's stuffed mushrooms; maybe that's my way of keeping her near. I hope your Thanksgiving was one filled with great food, and great company. 


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Look, Mommy, it's a CHICKEN!

I blame it all on Paw Patrol.

We went to the park the other day, because the weather was just amazing. There was a nice breeze, and there were fluffy clouds in the sky. Weather like this is why I love living in Florida.

So we pull into the parking lot, while finishing our lunch, and up squeaks Zackie-doodle.. "Hahaha, look mommy, it's a chicken!"

"A chicken?!?! Where?"

"Up there!!"

Okay, so while this may be the worst cell phone picture I've ever taken in my life, I had to snap it! Sure enough, there's this big, fluffy bird, hanging out at the top!

"It does kind of look like a chicken, but it's a seagull."

"No it's a chicken!"

"Chickens don't go to the beach, silly."

"Yes they do.. Chickaletta does."

Um. Yeah. Well, you got me there, kid.


Monday, November 9, 2015

That place between being a kid and a grown-up (aka My Daughter Snuck Makeup on This Morning)

This morning was rainy and nasty, and we missed the bus. It was one of those days where you just wanted to stay in your blankly and read a good book... so I got it. I told my daughter to hurry in the bathroom, and I reluctantly dragged my feet getting myself and my little guy ready. Knowing that I took longer than I should have, and got two ready, I gave a shout to the bathroom, and told my daughter to hustle and get in the car. She hurried past me, and scooped up her brother, telling him to snuggle with her so he didn't get wet.

We squeak into the car and head off to school. The kids are both in the back, and we head up the road to school. I realize that she didn't grab a granola or anything, so I decide to hit the fast food place near her school. She climbs into the front seat to eat, and looks at me. 

Pure ivory skin, dark brown hair, rosy cheeks, slightly pinker, shimmery lips. Gosh, my daughter is beautiful. ....Wait, my daughter's wearing makeup!?! 

While I'm a bit....flustered... I take a breath and ask her about it, without sounding like I'm angry, (I made sure to pay attention to my tone), so her feelings don't get hurt. She shrinks down, all bashful and doesn't talk. 

Honey, tell me? Nothing. 
Sweetheart? I'm just wondering, because you don't normally want to wear makeup.. Nothing. 

I swear it felt like 3 hours.

In my head I am trying to run every scenario through my head. She's dealt with mean girls, and with provocative girls, she's dealt with bully boys, and boys who swoon at her desk. Is it a boy? Is it a girl? Is it a mean girl teasing her, because Jesus, if it is I will....

...Sigh. I don't know, mommy.

Tell me, honey? 

Well, I've noticed that sometimes the girls who wear makeup get the boys to look at them and then they like them. 

Oh honey!

So we spent the next several minutes talking about boys, and girls, and makeup, and being ready to wear makeup, and how the boys usually like the girls who don't wear a ton of makeup more, and how she's beautiful without it. We talked about when she *is* allowed to wear makeup (holidays, dances, special events), how when you're little, you want to grow up, and when you're older you wish you were young again, and how she's got the rest of her life to wear makeup, and that in 5th grade, if she still feels like she wants to wear makeup, I have no problem with her wearing lip gloss. 

She wipes her mouth after eating her sandwich, (just as a natural habit) and I notice the shimmer is almost off. There she is... My beautiful girl, don't be in such a rush to grow up! I love you, just the way you are.. always and forever.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

B1G1 Free Starbucks! 11/12-11/15 (Plus giveaway!)

Mmmmmm.... coffee!!!! Starbucks fans unite, and go for coffee November 12 - 15th from 2-5pm. My favorite is Peppermint Mocha, what's yours?

**GIVEAWAY** Share a cup o' joe on me!

Comment below for your chance to win a $5 Starbucks gift card, or $5 paypal deposit! Open to residents of the US, ends 12:00 pm EST on 11/14!


Holiday Fun at the Tampa Theater

I cannot believe it's November. It was just July and people were whining that it was too hot, and those who lived in the North-east were promising that they wouldn't complain about the heat, because of the crazy winter last season. In just a blink, it will be Christmas.

We usually head home (to NY) for Thanksgiving, although, this year, we are not going. We were thinking about heading up around Christmas/New Years, but I don't know if that's going to work, either. I am excited that I'll get to go Black Friday shopping with my girlfriends this year, though!!

I may try to do something fun with the kids, like take them to the Tampa Theater for one of their Classic Holiday shows. Not only do you get to enjoy one of your favorite movies, guests get to enjoy singing along to Christmas carols with the Mighty Wurlitzer Theater organ, and even a visit from Santa before the show!! My kids would have so much fun with that!!!

If you're in the Tampa area, be sure to check out these showtimes and visit for more details!!

3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 29


Macy's executive Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) hires a kindly old man (Edmund Gwenn) to play Santa in the department store’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but he claims to be the real Kris Kringle. His incredible claims convince both Doris’ daughter Susan (Natalie Wood) and a young lawyer (John Payne), who decides to defend Kringle in court when he is institutionalized as insane. 
1h 36m/Not Rated/Family Drama

Before the film, Santa himself will be in the lobby for family photos starting at 2 p.m., and he’ll share a special story from the stage immediately before the film at 3 p.m.


3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6


Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire play successful song-and-dance men Jim Hardy and Ted Hanover. They are best friends, but they have a tendency to fall for the same women. When dancer Lila Dixon (Virginia Dale) leaves Jim for Ted, Jim leaves Broadway to pursue his dream of running a little hotel that only opens on national holidays. He hires Linda Mason (Marjorie Reynolds) to perform there, and before long, the old friends are competing again, this time for the lovely Linda’s affections. 
1h 40m /Not Rated/Musical Comedy




3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13


Army buddies Bob Wallace (Bing Crosby) and Phil Davis (Danny Kaye) team up to become a top song-and-dance act after the war. Davis plays matchmaker and introduces Wallace to a pair of beautiful sisters, Betty and Judy (Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen), who also have a musical act. When Betty and Judy travel to a Vermont lodge to perform a Christmas show, Wallace and Davis follow, only to find their former commander, General Waverly (Dean Jagger), is the lodge owner. A series of romantic mix-ups ensue as the performers try to help the General. 
2h /Not Rated/Musical Comedy


IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946) - Eight Show Times!

7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18

3 & 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19 - 20

7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 21 - 23


This year, it’s a wonderful week!  George Bailey (James Stewart) has spent his entire life giving back to the people of Bedford Falls. But when George's Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell) loses a bank deposit from the family’s modest building and loan company on Christmas Eve, the rich and heartless Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore) threatens to destroy the company. Thinking his wife (Donna Reed) and their family would be better off with him dead, George contemplates suicide, but his faith is restored when an angel named Clarence (Henry Travers) shows him what life would have been like if he had never existed.  
2h 10m/ Not Rated/Comedy-Drama

HOME ALONE (1990) Celebrating Its 25th Anniversary!

3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 27


When bratty 8-year-old Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) acts out the night before a family trip to Paris, his mother (Catherine O'Hara) makes him sleep in the attic. After the McCallisters mistakenly leave for the airport without Kevin, he awakens to an empty house and assumes his wish to have no family has come true. But his excitement sours when he realizes that two con men (Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern) plan to rob the McCallister residence, and that he alone must protect the family home.
1hr 43m/ Rated PG/Comedy-Family

Tickets for the Family Favorites classic movie series are $10 for adults and $8 for children and Tampa Theatre Members at the Box Office or online at ($2 convenience fee applies).
The series is presented with media support by WEDU and Creative Loafing.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Fresh Dose of Perspective

I do love the movie Ratatouille. Disney hit the nail on the head with a lot of areas most people should improve in... You know, areas like "judgement". Or "assumption". Or "chasing your dreams". Most ironically, it all boils down to "perspective". (See what I did there, boils down.) 

One may say I've been "well seasoned" but the one thing I always want YOU to say is that you like my perspective. Everyone sees things differently, there's no news flash there, but today there are so many people that tip toe around everyone else. There are others who put so much pressure on each other that they're likely to spontaneously combust in 3....2....1....

Seriously though, I'm so tired of bending over backwards for everyone in my life that I've decided to take the bull by the horns and put me first for once, in over 12 years. 

I recently learned how to crochet. When I say 'crochet' don't get your bloomers in a bunch. I'm not running and opening an etsy shop any time soon.. in fact, I only know how to do two stitches. Thankfully, that's all I need to know to be able to crochet a kick ass, super soft and snuggly blanket. I started on one for my friend's daughter (who is now 4 months old). By the time I finished learning, I thought the poor kid was going to be in kindergarten! Any who.. I figured it out, and then realized that it was so damn soft, that I should make one for me, for the couch, because we're always snuggly on the couch, and a blanket would be nice. So I got yarn and BOOM, made a blanket. 

My bestie comes over and called me an old lady. My neighbor told me I'm "channeling my dead grandmother" who, by the way, NEVER crocheted (to my knowledge) a day in her life. My husband rolled his eyes. 

Then I went to my daughter's away softball game. When I say away, I mean literally, an hour away from Bumblefuck in North Bumblefuck. I was glad I brought my crocheting. The umpire was a jackass. Changing the rules, yelling at our girls, and pissing off the parents. Other parents were upset, and challenged his calls a few times. Then it got worse. So much so that my loud NY mouth shouted, "IF YOU'RE GOING TO KEEP MAKING OUR GIRLS CRY CAN YOU AT LEAST EXPLAIN WHAT THEY'RE DOING WRONG?! C'MON!!" This was after he made 2 girls cry. Our girls (except 2) have never played a day in their life before this season. They had placed most of the season with the same sets of umps, and none of them called these shitty calls, or changed the rules. I got a round of applause, and then the ump threatened to kick us all out of the stands. 

The kids thought they were playing correctly, because it was how they were taught, but according to the ump, they were playing against that field/leagues rules. Whatever. He had shitty perspective. And a worse attitude, making kids cry. I bit my tongue, picked up my crochet and began to stitch away furiously. A few plays later, one of the moms said, "Did you see that?!" to which I reply, "NOPE, I'm CROCHETING", and the stands crack up. Now, at every game where the ump makes a crappy call, the other parents joke and pretend to stitch.. or ask for me to pass the blanket. One husband asked his wife why I always crocheted at games, to which she replied, "For sanity, and so we're not kicked out of the game." See, that lady right there, has good perspective. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Life has a funny way of happening.

Once upon a time, I was a mom blogger in the height of the mom-bloggy boom. (It's a real thing, I googled it.) I flew around the country, got to review the hottest toys, games, household gadgets and gizmos. I felt like I was someone important.

Then life hit me. Hard. And without support, I faltered. 

My son's Autism Spectrum Diagnosis (as well as his various other processing, functioning disorders) threw me for a loop. 

My daughter had some unexplained health scares, that while they're not as scary as they once were, they're still pretty damn scary. 

My mom died. It happens, but it's not supposed to happen until your parents are old and wrinkly. 

My baby (who's 3 and may forever be called "the baby") also got a diagnosis of Sensory integration and processing disorder. 

I started a new business, to try to supplement my income, and did pretty well with it. 

My best friend (since the 9th grade) passed away unexpectedly at 34 years of age. 

My marriage was falling apart, and while I have a few good friends where I live now, I was still missing something. 

An outlet. A place where I could be me- free of judgement on how fat or skinny I am, how pissed off at the world I sound, or why I'm excited because I found a bag of Cheetos on sale. I'm not a crazy coupon mom, and while I might post a recipe or two, this blog is not for that. 

Primarily, it's for me. To help me through this slump, and to help me find my voice again. 

It's for my kids- so that they can experience all of the fun things it is to be a kid of a bloggy mom. 

It's for my fans. Because once upon a time I had a shit ton of them, too. 

And it's for other women. Maybe they can read my stories, or experiences, or reviews, or whatever and relate. Know they're not alone, and they're not completely bat shit for feeling the way that they do.. about life.. about grief.. about parenting.. about everything. 

So... hey, I'm Lauren. I've lost myself in the past 2-3 years, and am actively looking for me again. I like books, music, travel, food, movies, wine, booze with the girls from time to time. I don't smoke, and I hate to exercise, even though I really need it, and should exercise more. My favorite place on earth to be is the beach, and while I love the change of seasons, most of the time (until it's 90* in November) I like living in the Tampa Bay area. 

Thank you for joining me on this journey, and I look forward to seeing some comments, so I know I'm not just talking to the walls. Or the computer. Or .. well, you get it. 



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