Category Archives: Birthdays

I Look Like Morningside Mom and I Smell Like One Too


I remember exactly where I was a year ago today. Brow sweaty and tense with insecurity, I was hunched over my old (now passed on) “shitty shitty bang bang ” PC. While I glared at that massive, yellowed monitor, my mind was overwhelmed with writing that simply needed out. I remember rethinking, questioning and toiling over that first blog post. (Groan.) Word by word, out it came. And then the transition moment arrived: I clicked publish. And it was done. My Morningside Mom weblog was born.

It was a girl, awkward and new. Posts stumbled over themselves, too long, too weird, falling flat on their face. She tried to grasp HTML and SEO concepts, but they slipped through her tiny fingers, infuriating her. But little by little, my girl got stronger. Every post became a little more confident. She even found her voice along the way and does a fairly decent job at using her words nicely. She is growing up.

And now look at her. Publishing posts without even a thought, actually entertaining folks in feed readers and jet-setting off to NYC with really nice people.

And one year old!

I am so proud. No I am. I never expected much from this whole thing. Simply a place to put my thoughts when all I did was “mommy” all day. Of course, I am more than a “mommy”. I love my children but a year ago today I felt it was high time I honored myself by speaking my mind a little more often. After all, before I was a mother I was a woman, a thinker, a leader, a wife, a sister, a kid, a women’s college grad, a political junkie, a hard worker, a talker and a friend. And this blog has allowed me to be all of these things once again while I “mommy” within the four walls of my home.

So Happy Birthday little one. You have so much more growing to do but what a change in one year.

Oh and both my blog and my readers should expect a birthday gift from me soon. An almost“grown up” blog deserves to actually look the part. I am working on updating and giving my girl a new look.

Stay posted – we’ll be able to tear the paper off this sucker and see what we got very soon.


Filed under Birthdays, Blog love, Growing up, Parenting, Women, Working moms

Turning 35 and Getting Over It.

A few days ago, I turned 35 and for some reason it seems to be a bit of a milestone.  35. 5 years from 30, 5 years from 40. When I turned 30, I hardly noticed. I was deep in the trenches of tending to a newborn.  A “milk making, diaper changing, ever baby holding, never sleeping” machine. I hardly noticed it was summer, let alone that I had turned 30. It seems that since I have had children, my aging, my progress forward, my evolution in any way has kind of come to a screeching halt. And that’s been ok actually. I have been able to pretend I am still 29, the age I was when T. was born. I have almost let myself believe that everything is just at a stand-still, waiting for me to come back into the game when the coast is clear and the baby gates are down.

But here we have it – I have turned 35, and I am not so sure the game is exactly waiting around. Age is happening to me, whether I like it or not. Weight has redistributed itself – things around the back have seemed to have sucked through my body and deposited themselves on the front. Except for the top portion of my front, which actually WAS sucked away -thanks to my two boys- and I’m left with gaping, “been there done that”, A cups. I’ve got some white hairs, sun damage has become more apparent, I’ve got a bunion for cripes sakes, and I can’t focus up close when I read quite as well as I used to.

The other true indication that my life is really not stopped in place waiting for my return is the fact that my children are growing up. Nothing demonstrates the passing of time more clearly than children growing before your very eyes. 5 years have gone by since I have become a mother and turned 30, and my growing children (just add water, the Chia Child that grows…. Cha-cha-cha-cha- chia!!!) have made sure I don’t live in denial about that fact.

So yup, as so many do, I have grumped my way into 35, responding with a groan when someone wishes me well. Clearly, I am feeling sorry for myself. But, ugh though. This self pity crap is really annoying, and you know I am not the only one who does it. Why can’t we accept this inevitable aging process and the milestones that come with it?  

So to change it up, and slap some sense into myself, I think this might be a good time to take stock. I think to make myself feel better and actually celebrate this mark of 35 years, I need to list all that is good about this age.  So read along as I try really reeeeeally hard to make myself feel better and remark on what a fabulous half full glass 35 actually is.

·         I can finally just relax into my own body. It is what it is. The genes are laid down, the babies have been born and left it as so. I should be good to it, appreciate it, throw pride to the wind and wear that bikini after all, accepting that what I got is what I got.

·         By now, I have to know something. I have to have enough life experience that I can safely feel some confidence about having a clue about how the world goes ‘round. And if someone asks for it, my advice could maybe possibly hold some water.

·         Being carded at 35 is a compliment. It really is. That 18 year old kid asking for my I.D. truly makes my day. 35 probably doesn’t look as old as I think it does.

·         In my twenties, I was in a frenzy of getting engaged, planning a wedding, being married, and then trying and succeeding at having babies before my child-bearing years were over. And now, (throw some confetti in the air) I’ve done it! I got that covered. Now it’s time to figure out the next steps without that crazy pressure over my head.

·         Years ago, before children, I hated to be alone. It seemed pointless and lonely and too quiet. Now, I cherish some time alone. To remember the old me, think my own thoughts, make my own choices. Granted, I still don’t want to fly solo for too too long, mind you, but the time alone I do get, I savor and cherish.

·         At 35, all radio stations are my musical oyster. The soft rock station plays songs I actually know (honestly, it’s not THAT bad). The oldies station plays my favorite tunes from high school. I still know top 40. I still jam out to R&B (I don’t care how ridiculous this white suburbia mom probably looks). Classic rock rocks, even if it doesn’t seem THAT classic. And when I am running up to the store without the kids, I’ll even blast the alternative rock station and swear I still do “get it”.

·         White hairs on blond women can be written off as “highlights”. At least I’D like to think so.

·         I don’t care what “What Not to Wear” says, at 35, I still feel like I can buy fun t-shirts in the Jr. Section and get away with it.

·         Laugh lines just mean you’ve been happy. And when you smile, well those laugh lines just make you look happier.

·         As I raise two children, at least I know that one day, I have left this world with something really really good. That alone kind of negates any said bitching and moaning about my age.

·         35 is ONLY 35.

Now for those of you smug folks who are 5, 10, 20 years my senior and are currently rolling their eyes at my pathetic little mid-life crisis (which I am constructively trying to reconcile with a harmless little blog post, mind you), just remember you were 35 too once. We all go through milestones and experience them in our own particular self-indulgent way.

Ok then. Now that I have accepted that I am the ripe, wise and proud age of 35, maybe I can stand my ground and really show how I have gotten a clue in future years. Each year forward, I want to try very hard not to dwell (“try” being the key word) on the “getting old” bit. Really, enough already, it’s just annoying. I need to get over it and keep taking stock and celebrating those achievements – big or small. And more to the point, I need to get fired up about what I still have yet to tackle, discover, celebrate and enjoy. My boys are growing up and a bit more independent – let’s get on with it, there is so much to do!

And finally, my dearest friend also reminded me that the day we are born isn’t meant for bemoaning our white hairs and droopy body parts. Remember, we were born this day. We have come into the world, done some cool stuff, made our world better in whatever large or small way and people have loved us for it. Our friends want to cheer us on and we should accept that love, light some birthday candles and get on with the party. So, happy birthday to me. Happy birthday to me. May I get plastered you baaa…d girl, happy birthday to me. Cheers!


Filed under Aging, Birthdays, Growing up, Identity crisis, Self-analysis

Blogging for Boobies

Breast cancer is an absolute reality in my family. My maternal grandmother had a mastectomy and a lumpectomy. My mother had a malignant tumor and lumpectomy when I was in college. Her sister had the same not far after her and I am fairly sure she has had more occurrences since then, although they may have been benign. My maternal grandfather’s sister also had a malignant lump. All of these women found their lumps when they were post menopausal. In the next generation, there are four women – myself and my three cousins. None of us are post menopausal. None of us have had any brushes with breast cancer – yet. But we know there is a ticking time bomb amongst us. It seems as if it is just a matter of time.

So today I had my annual gynecology exam. A thrilling day, no doubt. Gotta love those scratchy paper robes and the cold lubricating gel. Ew. But I am religious about going. I also had a cervical cancer scare before T. was born. So pap away, Dr. I have no reservations.

After the exam was over, the Dr. and I got on the topic of breast cancer. I am 35 in a month. (…dramatic pause… 35. Older-than-35 ladies, please don’t be annoyed when I say this but 35 seems like a gateway to “old”. 40 is just years away. What the hell! Ok, I’m over it.) I already had a baseline mammogram before C. was born. All was well. He said we could probably wait until I was 40 (gulp) before we did one again. But he was very adamant about the next bit of advice: “Do your breast exams.”

And you know what? I haven’t been. I know, I know! Its like playing Russian roulette – what am I, nuts? Nah, just clearly in denial. Breast cancer is for old women who don’t get their period. Not me. Not a… 35 year old. Uh oh.

So seeing my face, the Dr. told me a little story. And I want to share it with you all. He told me about a 41 year old patient this past March who got her mammogram, and it was clear. In April, during a self breast exam, she felt a lump. By the end of that month, she was diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. It was early but she probably saved her own life. Think about it – for a lump to show up so fast (also taking into account that mammograms are by NO means perfect) – well, it’s a real lesson for me. I MUST check my boobies. Once a month. When? He said after your period. Or a good reminder is the day you start your first pill pack. So, this is my resolution to myself, heading into 35 in almost a month to the day. I WILL CHECK MY BOOBIES. And if you got ’em, you should too.

Another point about this. Did you notice how unsure I was about my family’s history at the start of this post? Interestingly, one of my cousins (the daughter of my aunt who had breast cancer) just happens to be in Florida for a conference and is coming for dinner on Saturday. I have decided to hassle her for her family’s entire breast cancer history. And I will get together mine. My plan is to collect it all and compose some sort of document that we four of cousins can share. Its time to buck up.

B.R.E.A.S.T. C.A.N.C.E.R. , dude. Its not just for old ladies, anymore. It’s for people like me.


Filed under Birthdays, Breast cancer, Dr. Visits, Family, Growing up, Health

A child’s first lesson in heartbreak over stuff.

It all started out with the best of intentions. When T. turned five last week, his grandmother sent him a crisp $20.00 bill to spend on whatever he would like. What a sweet and smart gesture! A true acknowledgement that he was a big boy – five! – and old enough to have his own money. T. and I agreed that he could take his money to Toys R Us where he could buy a special toy all by himself. So, today, holding onto some left over birthday cheer, we headed over to the recently opened Toys R Us up the road. When we got out of the car, he was absolutely fired up. He jumped up and down beside me, his $20.00 held tight in his hand. And I was excited too, I thought that he might get a good lesson about money and how to spend it. This would be fun!

Walking into Toys R Us still holds the same magic for me as it did when I was a kid. Like something out of a dream, bright primary colored toy boxes were laid out before us, as far as the eye could see, from floor to ceiling. My heart still skips a beat when I pass that wonderful candy pink aisle packed with every kind of cool Barbie stuff. I remember standing in that aisle with my own birthday money, carefully weighing my options, giddy, silly and wanting.

I asked T. where he would like to look first. He said “Star Wars stuff” so we headed there. He went straight up to the $49.00 Darth Vadar/Death Star transformer. “What about this?” “Sorry hon, too expensive.” And then pointed out what things were ok. He touched all the boxes, considering everything but he seemed a bit overwhelmed. So I said that maybe we should walk around a bit and see what else there was.

When we stopped at the Thomas the tank aisle, without any hesitation, he picked up a starter train set for $19.99 and said “I want this!” Perfect! Ok! Let’s go check out.

…”But what about the Star Wars things??”

“Um, no, hon, this train set costs $20.00. You’ve spent all of your money.”

And that’s when it happened. I could practically hear the audible snap. Greed swooped in and clutched my son’s usually rational brain – a beast took over.


He promptly burst into tears and slumped down on the platform displaying all the bikes. While C. ran up and down the bike aisle, with a bike helmet on, T. sobbed. I explained that he couldn’t have everything. $20.00 will only buy him somethings or one thing. Not everything. He was crushed. He was overwhelmed. The decision was impossible.

We finally went with the train set. As we went to check out, we steered clear of the Star Wars aisle for fear he would be set off once again. But what really made me sad was that he wasn’t giddy and excited about his purchase. He seemed resigned. Instead of getting a fun new toy, he looked like he had actually lost something. His eyes were still wet, his face was sad and walked behind me slowly. This was not the fun adventure I thought it would be. The only lesson he learned was there is so much he couldn’t have. Granted, that is a very important lesson for any child, but again, it wasn’t exactly how I thought the experience would go down when we walked in there a half hour prior.

As I have mentioned before, I try to limit too much stuff in our lives. Call it being cheap, being green, or saving space, but we honestly don’t have half the toys his friends do. And even the toys T. has, he only plays with them now and then. T. has never been a stuff guy. Presents are fun to open but he’ll leave something in its box for days and only vaguely find interest when I get his attention and ask him if he wants to open it with me. He is usually happier with a book, playing a board game, playing outside with a ball or in the sprinkler. Of course, he loves T.V. but not too much. He has always seemed “just right” with his need for any sort of excess. He has never hoarded, he has always shared well, and – shockingly – he has never begged or pleaded or demanded a toy (ice cream, yes, a toy no). Until today.

So excuse me as I unleash the mommy guilts within. But, today, I feel like I ruined a little bit of him. I let money become something exciting. I let the stuff become a fun thing to get and find and need. My heart went a little cold when he said “I want everything.” I know this is a human reaction. We all want a shopping spree. We all get excited over stuff. We all get bummed out when we can’t afford something we want desperately. Its normal, he needs to understand how buying things works and understand the value and limits of money. And, I assure you, there will be more birthday money in his future, we will set out for Toys R Us once again, and we will keep working on this lesson until it is good and learned. But, I guess, just to see his first moment where he is actually heartbroken over not getting some sort of stuff… It just didn’t feel so good.

And here’s the kicker. After lunch we pulled out the train, got it all set up (making a figure eight with train tracks is no easy feat, I mean it) and now its sitting there untouched on our family room floor. A few minutes ago, I asked him “What about your train, T.? Why don’t you play with that for a little bit?” “Its making me boring, mommy” Oh o.k. Terrific.

Stuff. We want it. We stress over it. We use money we don’t even have to buy it. We finally get it, hold it up like a trophy fish scooped out of mall’s ocean. When, most of the time, we really don’t even need it.


Filed under Birthdays, Materialism, Money, Parenting, Shopping, Toys, Unnecessary stuff

How to numb your brain in one week.

The only bit of knowledge I dare share with you this evening is my formula for complete and total brain nummage. This formula is hardly unique – and I fear many of you have enjoyed and subsequently suffered from this sort of forumla on many occasions. But here it goes anyway. Who knows. Maybe your brain is firing on all cylinders, and thats just boring, and you would like to figure out a way to make it stop. Read away, this plan should reeeeally do the trick.

(Note: Definition of the Caroline word “Nummage”: Having been numbed to a point of total neural failure.)

1 five year old birthday party for T. At home. With games, a star wars theme, self-frosted box cake, pinata, sprinklers, candy, music, beers, balloons, streamers, heat, wet kids, costumed kids, light sabering kids, screaming kids, and exhausted kids.

1 morning of sheer panic packing for a week’s vacation to the beach. Where are the UV shirts? Did you pack both blankies AND mickey mouse? Don’t forget the mega super value box of goldfish. Did we pack “Return of the Jedi”? No he doesn’t want “The Phantom Menace”, its gotta be “Return of the Jedi”, he’s ALLLLL about Luke getting away from Jabba and Boba Fett falling into the Sarlac Pit (…what?…). Wait. This place has STAIRS???? What place has STAIRS in Florida!!!! GET THE BABY GATE GET THE BABY GATE!!!

3 hours of driving to our beach destination. And we actually heard it. I thought it only happened in movies. But we heard it. The notoriously whined, in a continuous loop, starting after hour one: “Uhhhh… ARE WE THERE YET?”

7 of us – my fam, my brother, his wife, and one gloriously inquisitive and truly wonderful 18 month old – together, in a lovely townhouse, overlooking a Marina. …”GET THE BABY GATE UP!!!!! QUIIIIIICK!!!!!”

5 days of wake up, cereal everywhere, find the swim diapers, sunscreen, get the bathing suits on, find the noodles, floaties, toys, find the keys, pile in, go to pool, swim, chase, throw, catch children, pile into car, eat lunch, babies nap, we nap, everyone up, re-sunscreen, re-find everything, pile back in, go to beach, watch the undertow, watch them eat sand, stop them eating sand, pile back in car, realize someones swim diaper doesn’t smell so good, get back home, bathe, feed, play hard, to bed, parents hit the booze, eat, swear at the bug bites, appreciate how beautiful it all really is and how lucky we really are, collapse into bed and wake up and do it again.

4 hours back from our destination. There was a tanker explosion on I-75 a few days before and the traffic is fierce. It’s 99 degrees outside and my Saturn is in a full sweat keeping our A/C chugging while we crawl along. Nope, we are soooooo not there yet.

1 two year old birthday party for C. At the playground (thank God)! No games, but with a Mickey theme, another self frosted box cake, fruit, balloons, running, pushing swings, its way WAY too bloody hot, Popsicles, goopy cake, sticky kids, total baby meltdowns, and its done in less than 2 hours.

2 more birthday parties since. God help me if I have to eat another piece of frosted cake. Seriously. Birthday cake, the new white meat. It’s whats for dinner.

2 bad cases of diarrhea for both of my birthday boys. What? A diet of sand, salt water, pool water, mutual tub water, juice boxes, goldfish, and 5 lbs. of birthday cake aren’t going to keep the pipes working normally for my two boys? Soooo utterly shocking.

So yup. That’s my formula for total brain nummage. I am SHOCKED this post even got posted. I am SHOCKED I had the wits about me to move. mouse. to. box. that. says. “publish”. But I guess I did. So I must be coming around. The neurons are slowly starting to refire. I am getting feeling back in my frontal lobe. If I lay off the overscheduling-total-control-freak crack that leads to this horrid case of brain nummage, there may just be hope for me yet.

Stop laughing at me. It could happen.


Filed under Beach, Birthdays, Family, Florida, Parenting, Travel, Vacation

Busched Gardens

To distract myself from the fact that T. turned 5 yesterday – and ultimately to remain in complete denial that my baby is actually growing up (insert “shuddering sob” here) – we took the family to Busch Gardens for Memorial day. We left our home at 8am, made a quick stop at IHOP for breakfast (T. had always wanted to go) and then arrived at the park, ready to rumble. We returned back home, zombie-like, at 7pm. What a day.

And you know what? I am still exhausted. Of course, my children awoke bright eyed at 6:15am as if yesterday never happened. However, I am sitting here, sore, tired, sunburned and overwhelmed by the entire experience.

In an effort to debrief all that we did, I thought I would share our day with you.

Excited, singing, anticipating, strapped into the Saturn, almost there. Sunny, beautiful day, but – oh crap – its gonna be hot, lined up with cars, cars, cars, pay at the gate, more cars, guys waving flags, park in a row, efficient, lets get out, lets just finally GET there already. Unloading our circus: kids, sit n stand stroller, backpack fat with goldfish, pretzels, clothes, diapers, wipes, medicine, water bottles full, sippy cups sloshing. We skip the bus and speed walk to the gates. People everywhere, every shape, every color, every variety of hat, flip flop, sunglasses, stroller, tank top, tattoo, t-shirt, bathing suit. Smells like sunscreen, popcorn, animals, fun. Shuffling through the gates – moo; shiny, smiling, colorful characters dressed in gold walking on stilts meet guests, pose for pictures. T. hides. C. waves frantically. We’re in! Maps out. T. reads it carefully in stroller, C. gapes at the buildings, the fountains, the flowers, the people people people, roller coasters roaring everywhere, the birds, the loud music, the sun, the trees, the color, the movement. We take off to the new section. Shaded areas, plexiglass, OH TIGERS! Cool. T. runs to the rope playground, C. wants OUT of stroller. Climbing, splashing, wondering, yelling, screaming, LOOK AT ME MOMMY!!!, laughing, climbing and climbing and climbing. He’s so high. Diaper change time. Where is T.??? WHERE IS T.!!!! Hi mommy! Oh. Wrangling. I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Pretzels. Water. More sunscreen. Off we go. Next, the congo river rapids, I take T. He jumps and fidgets while we wait. For. a. half. hour. People. Too close. Staring at odd back tattoos. Annoying wet people. Eavesdropping. We’re almost there T. So close now. Almost there. Do you think we’ll get wet? Our turn, we jump on. 5 minutes later, we step out. We’re really really reeeeeally wet. Meet Daddy. Walking, dripping, why didn’t I wear my bathing suit? I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Lunch time. I want to go on the Merry go round!!! Where is a table. WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER?? How much for chicken fingers??? We’ll split one. Is that “God Bless America” in Carousel music? Lets go see the pirate while we wait! I WANT TO GO ON THE MERRY GO ROUND! French fries, mommy wants french fries, everyone is eating french fries, must have must have… OK, Daddy, will you take them on the merry go round? I sneak french fries. Kids back, a few bites of $6 chicken, off they run. Pack it up, throw it out. Off we go. Yelling, roller coasters, people, kids, babies, stroller traffic, teenaged couples, more tattoos, lets go on the train. Where do we park the stroller? Do you have T.? Look at the big turtles. Wow, honey, yeah, cool…. where is my camera? Mommy, here comes the train! Please keep your hands and feet inside the train at all times. C. doesn’t like that idea. Wrestle wrestle wrestle – look there’s a Giraffe! Wrestle wrestle wrestle – look there’s a rhino! Wrestle, HUG, don’t be scared of the tunnel, its ok C.! Train stops. Off we go, C. on shoulders, backpack on, T. holding hands with Daddy, on to the skyride. Another line. Waiting. More people. Weird T-shirts. Teenagers rolling their eyes. C. trying to climb over the wall. Singing “do your ears hang low” to keep kids happy. More teenagers roll their eyes. I fight urge to trip them. Onto skyride. C. clings to me but peeks out, T. in heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. I smell elephant poop. Off we go, back onto stroller, the show starts in 10 minutes! Race through more people, more tattoos, more families of 5 stretched across the walkways just not getTING OUT OF THE WAY!!!!! Excuse me! Thanks! Daddy takes C. off to the quiet monkey section with shade, waterfalls, where napping potential is high. I grab T. and run for the theater. Inside, dark, FREEZING! Clothes still wet. Sit down. MUSIC!!! LIGHTS!!! COLOR!!! Fun, beautiful, singing, puppets, animals, stories, escape. T. is enthralled. Out we walk with the crowds, moo, back into the heat, bright light, wheres Daddy? Text him. “W. R. U?” Text back. “C. slpng. w/ mnkees.” Off we go. There they are. Daddy giving loud kids playing near sleeping C. dirty looks. C. wakes up, groggy, grumpy. Off we go. More animals. More smells. More discoveries. More children elbowing their way in to see. Giraffe, meerkats, lions, hyenas, hippos, fish, turtles, alligators, elephants, snakes. Daddy takes T. onto another ride. I keep C. occupied by walking walking walking. Stopping to watch a lemur. Walking walking walking. Stop to look at an alligator. Walking. Walking. Out runs T. Happy!! The water almost got us! I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Off to find pizza. Stroller is so very heavy now. Must. Push. It. Uphill. Where IS pizza? Are you kidding me? More tattoos. More people in the way. Stroller traffic. Roller coasters zooming by. C. and T. stunned, fascinated. Over-stimmed out of their minds. Still trying to push through. More strollers. People stopped reading maps in FRONT of us. Groan. EXCUSE ME! Thank you. Find pizza. Oh. And beer! Mmmmm. Sense of humor returns. Off to kid section. Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me with this really bad princess and dragon show. Kids laughing. Keep sipping that beer. C. runs for the stage, hold by shirt until show over, then C. charges Dragon. Hugs. Hi! Hugs. Patting dragons belly. C. in love. Off to play in kid section. Ferris wheels, carousels, flying dragons, boats, more rope playgrounds, yelling, laughing, climbing, jumping, rolling, discovering, wandering, for crying out loud – where is T.?? Look at watch. Late. Tired. Lets get out of here. All accounted for. I don’t wanna go! I want more fun! Uh-huh. Push through the crowds. Push through the gates. Push past crowds for bus and walk back to parking lot. Push the stroller up hill and give bus going by dirty looks. Can’t find car. Can’t find the energy. Oh. There it is. Pop trunk, stroller in. Kids buckled in, glassy-eyed. Daddy drives. I look through pics on camera. Get home. Done. T. is 5 and I am too tired to think about it anymore.

And this morning at 6:30am, as I lay on the couch watching CNN, feeling sorry for myself since I am sore and still absolutely WIPED OUT from yesterday, T. says to me “I want to do something fun today”. Great googlie mooglie.


Filed under Birthdays, Busch Gardens, Family, Parenting