Hey, Parents: You’re Doing A Great Job! {giveaway}


30341531There are days, lots of them, that parents need to hear “You’re doing a great job!” There are the days we snap at our children and make them cry (when we are really snapping at ourselves). There are the days you try to go out to lunch and end up mortified. The days your child learns a new four-letter word. Or the days when your adult son needs an ambulance. But all the fretting and rushing and worry of the older years don’t compare to the earliest times when we still counted our child’s life in months.

Whether it’s the monotony, the unknowing about what counts as “normal” or worrisome, or the horror of listening to The Wiggles again and again and again, parenting during those long days that lead to short years often means feeling like a failure. Or, at least, knowing you could have done a heck of a lot better. On those days, the last thing a new-ish parent needs more of is advice. What she or he needs is a hug, a pat on the back, and a reminder that sounds a lot like what overflows in this new book from One Bad Mother podcast hosts Biz Ellis and Theresa Thorn: YOU’RE DOING A GREAT JOB! 

This book reminds parents that it’s okay to have a low bar. Celebrate what did happen, not what didn’t, including gems such as:

Did you get up this morning? Great! You’re doing an awesome job!
Your kid fell asleep? Even if it was just for two hours, that’s amazing. Good job!
Has your kid eaten? That’s probably your doing, so yeah, you’re a winner!

You get the idea. Each page is a new affirmation of the little things that earn you a Good Job! Parents deserve a participation ribbon when they’re having really bad days, too.

If you or someone you know is a new parent and could use a comforting, understanding, non-judgy hug in book form, comment on this post for a chance to get a brand spanking new copy in your mailbox! I’ll mail one copy to a lucky commenter as long as that person has a U.S. address.

I’ll collect comments until May 5th to make sure I can get the book to the lucky commenter before Mother’s Day. Good luck!

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Lazy Mom’s Guide to Dying Easter Eggs

So, true to form, I’m about 20 years late to another trend: Pre-Dyed Eggs. Am I alone here in seeing this on grocery shelves? Even the Swiss do it! There was no price listed, and I was too lazy to chase down someone knowledgeable about ShopRite prices. Also, there was no information about what kind of eggs they are, but they look pretty homemade. I mean, they have uneven color and splotches. Plusses in my book.


Here are some other plusses: No mess, no vinegar smell, no kids fighting about who gets the blue again, no spilled dye onto wood that soaks it up and keeps the stain for decades, no over-boiling the eggs and having them crack and all the yolk seeps out, no buying brown eggs by accident and having to return them and explaining that two were already broken when I bought them. (Really they were.)

But I didn’t buy them. Somehow all those problems I see now as an adult made up the joy I remember from my childhood. That, and my mom has taken over dying eggs with my kids. If you’re going old school, here’s Real Simple instructions: real simple! And if you need reasons to just buy dyed eggs from ShopRite, here is inspiration from Scary Mommy and a fewotherblogs.

Have you purchased these pre-dyed eggs? How were they? If you haven’t, would you?

Posted in Lazy Mom, Parenthood | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

#IWD2017’s No Judgment Reminder of Our Privileges

IMG_1753There are plenty of lefty think pieces (is that what we’re calling them these days?) about how there are many women who aren’t able to strike today, the #DayWithoutAWoman. There are plenty of righty commentaries about how women who are striking today are just “taking a vacation” on the backs of hard-working conservatives. IMO, which you know I love to share, both of those attitudes miss the mark in much the same way.

Strikes are meant to be sacrifice. So claiming people “able” to strike are privileged dismisses the very real risks and hardships that some of the strike participants are making. Similar to this, viewing a strike as a vacation dismisses the everyday hardships and sacrifices to which the events are attempting to draw attention. Either way, it’s a judgment. And, no thank you; we have enough of that.

On the other hand, events like this provide a fantastic opportunity to recognize the many ways we are all privileged in one way or another. Am I able to strike from my job without worrying about losing wages or the job? Privilege! Am I able to afford bus or train fare to join a protest in NYC? Privilege! Can I wear a symbol of my religion without a constant worry that someone may attempt to remove it? Privilege! And on and on. FullSizeRender

What the recognition is meant to stimulate is gratitude, not defensiveness. Empathy, not resentment. A call to serve, amplify, and support with a hand up, not separation, shame, or turning away. And it’s not always easy to admit privilege, especially when someone has fought her own battles with society and hardship and discrimination. But admitting privilege doesn’t take away from your hard work and sacrifice; it simply acknowledges the advantages you have enjoyed because of gender, economy, being able-bodied, race, religion, sexual orientation, education, health, a nurturing childhood, access to reliable health care, geography. Again, on and on. We have all had some privileges, have we not?

Finally, I ask you to consider that what you may have considered GOOD LUCK in your life, career, or interactions with authority figures may actually be privilege. No judgment.

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Glad I Saw It: Peace and Love


Several years of walking in Brookdale Park, and I’ve never noticed this. Having a dog means meandering instead of power walking, and that means breathing deeply and seeing more. I highly recommend it.

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Posted in Glad I Saw It, People are Good, random observation, Suburban Life, Things I love | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Evergreen: Authority Figures MUST Train to DeEscalate


Here, an off-duty police officer created a situation with his mouth that he then escalated to a point he felt the need to finish with his gun.

As I’ve written before, I get it. I really, really do. Being in a position of authority, especially with teens is a constant tension. All day you get pushback and challenges, some are good-natured, some are intensely hurtful and personal, some are threatening and potentially harmful. And yet, if you are in a position of authority (teacher, security, police officer, parent), it’s on you to deescalate a bad situation before it gets worse. Sorry, but that’s how it is.

This week there have been two situations that bring this into glaring focus: Anaheim and Baltimore.

First, Anaheim. An off-duty LAPD Officer said something obnoxious to a teenager and another teenager stuck up for her. This off-duty officer may well have misunderstood the teen (instead of “I’ll sue you” he may have heard “I’ll shoot you.”), and no matter what his reasons (bias, nerves, guilt for calling a teenager a disgusting word, ego, a need to make himself feel like a tough guy) for misunderstanding, his response was wrong and the opposite of de-escalation. Instead of ignoring the possibly misheard threat, walking into his house, calling 911, or asking for clarification, he decided to grab someone else’s 13-year old child and refuse to let him go. See the full video and aftermath here.  Read the story of this disturbing event here.

That would have been more than bad enough, but after continuing to drag the teen around and scratch him, drag him over a hedge, and verbally abuse him, when other teens came too close trying to help, this off-duty police officer pulled out his gun and fired a shot.


Just last night another video, this one from Baltimore, came to light detailing the arrest of a 16-year old boy who had just been threatened by another, knife-wielding teen. The video is disturbing not just for the violence (closed fist punches, choking, slamming of body and head to the ground), but also for the frightened cries from the teenager. See it and details of the event here.

Both of these horrendous, potentially tragic situations could have been de-escalated with a dose of humility, proper restraint techniques, and a full assessment of the situation. None of the (armed, trained, authority figure) adults in these situations behaved as they should have. And in one situation, an off-duty officer discharged his weapon into a crowd of teenagers.

Please don’t wait until a tragedy occurs in your area. Contact your police department and town government and urge them to strengthen and further develop deescalation techniques, especially when dealing with minors. Even PoliceOne.com has sections of deescalation, for crying out loud.


Spreading the word at the yeah write moonshine grid.

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Glad I Saw It: Creativity Caravan

1486085937371The Creativity Caravan, owned and operated by Amy Tingle and Maya Stein, has a new home at 28 South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair. With programs like a #SocialSketch, letter writing, and Retablo Workshops, there is something for everyone — no matter artistic ability or age.

I recently stopped in to a Happy Hour, complete with prosecco and art supplies galore. The space is a delight for the eyes. We had typewriters, pens, markers, crayons, rubber stamps, art paper, glue, scissors, Spirographs, and more at our disposal for an hour or so of unrestricted art-making. Maya’s clever, colorful artwork adorns the walls, Amy’s Retablos line up to tell tiny stories about moments in time, and there are notecards, crafty sets, and other wonderful items for purchase as well.

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Check out the continually updated calendar of events for upcoming activities and to check out what you missed. If you happen to be in the Montclair Center neighborhood, stop in to say hello. Chances are you’ll leave more artful and relaxed than when you arrived. And in case you didn’t know, The Creativity Caravan is the home of the Tiny Book Show and Tour!

Posted in Excellent Local People, Glad I Saw It, People are Good, Suburban Life, Things I love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Positivity Quotient: Top Ten List

It’s been a long week of wacky, hasn’t it? Frankly, I’ve found political goings-on stultifying where writing is concerned. I can’t focus! I’ve decided to pull myself out of the funk as much as possible by focusing on ten things that made me happy this week…because they are out there!


10: The Self-Care Warriors series from Eloiza Jorge at Deepening Wisdom has been wonderful. This post about nourishing ourselves was particularly lovely. Check out the entire series for some encouragement to treat yourself.

9: Sharing photos of my chihuahua to help a friend’s daughter pass the time in MassGeneral Hospital for Children. Follow @DadoftheDecade on Twitter for updates.

8: This week has finally had consecutive days of SUNSHINE! And the weekend will be glorious! Vitamin D!

7: Together with other parents, I learned how to strip roses and prep bouquets for a successful fundraiser for my son’s grade. Check out RMerrittFlowers’ IG account here.

6: Valentine’s Day for me and my husband included an exchange of cards and nothing more. You have to know me to understand how that made me very happy. 🙂

5: My kids both had a No Cavity visit to the dentist! Woohoo!

4: I got back on track with the Whole Life Challenge. Now to work on more exercise.

3: I completed all the recommendation letters I owed to my graduate students.

2: I finished and turned in a book review I’d been holding off on. Now I’m giving myself a break by continuing to read Sady Doyle’s Trainwreck, which I’m really enjoying so far. And learning a lot about literary history AND pop culture.

1:  My son turned 10. (This is both something that made me happy and nostalgic.)

What are some things that made YOU happy this week? Try to find at least ten things — they’re there.

On the moonshine at yeah write.

Posted in People do silly things, Suburban Life, Things I love | Tagged | 9 Comments

I Am Not Your Negro: James Baldwin’s Call to Action is On US

The Oscar-nominated I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, is a must-see. You can stop reading now and just get to the nearest theater today.


I was lucky to be at the Montclair Film Festival and Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence sponsored screening last night. Producer Hébert Peck (and brother of director Raoul Peck) was present to introduce the film and for a Q&A immediately following. MFF Executive Director Tom Hall introduced Mr. Peck saying that I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO was Hall’s favorite film at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s easy to see why the film attracted Hall. It is a powerfully told history with a direct and unapologetic stare down of today’s audience.

During the Q&A, Hébert Peck shared that James Baldwin’s sister, Gloria Karefa-Smart, who also serves as executor of the Baldwin Estate, gave director Raoul Peck 30 pages of notes and letters Baldwin had written in preparation for a book about the legacies of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. and how they intersect. “You’ll know what to do with this,” she said. The resulting film, I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, is at once a eulogy to three slain leaders, a painful and necessary reminder of where we’ve been (and are) as a country, and a call to action to confront and dissect the role racism, overt and covert, plays in our lives. That call to action is for white Americans, and it’s as true today as when James Baldwin said it on the Dick Cavett Show.

It is entirely up to the American People, whether or not they are going to find out in their own hearts, why it was necessary to have a N***er in the first place….If you think I’m a N***er, it means you need it. And you need to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that. (link) (NSFW/language)

According to the Q&A following last night’s screening of the film, the filmmakers behind I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO wanted to make sure James Baldwin weighed in on current events. Even more than the wonderful PBS American Masters episode “The Price of the Ticket,” I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO forces its audience to confront the lack of difference between the racial divide of the 1950’s and 1960’s and today. The clips of Black Lives Matter marches and Ferguson, the reminders of Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and more are intercut with mobs of classmates spitting at and violently harassing Dorothy Counts as she walked to school, boys being searched while stripped down to their underwear, hateful crowds holding Nazi symbols and screaming racial slurs at Black demonstrations, and more.


Dorothy Counts, on her way to school. Seeing her experience prompted James Baldwin to return from Paris.

And more. There is much more.  A moving, but brief section about Lorraine Hansberry’s visit with Bobby Kennedy begs to be expanded in someone’s next film. This documentary includes clips and images from films, television shows, news shows, history. I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO reminds those of us with the privilege to forget that we’ve seen this before. We’ve been here before. And it asks us all to stand up, find the strength and humility to confront our own conflicted morals, and fight as allies. It’s not pretty. And it won’t be easy. But the future of our country depends on it.

You can find showtimes here. The companion book edition, including never before published writing by James Baldwin, comes out on Tuesday.


Sharing on the moonshine grid at yeah write.

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Ivanka Trump needs to have a hard conversation with her father.

Several years ago, a year or so before my father’s illnesses kept him indoors, we went to pick up dinner for a family gathering. He drove. As we were leaving, he almost hit a pedestrian as he was pulling out of the parking lot. That’s what prompted me, the daughter who lived farther away and only saw him every two months or so, to have a supremely difficult conversation about whether he should be driving, especially at night.

Ivanka Trump needs to have a supremely difficult conversation with her father about his mental capacity, or lack thereof. Here is some reading for her to get started.


Exhibit 497,392

Even in a bubble of Yes Men and protective restricted social media use, some of the reality must seep in somewhere. There is nothing romantic or nostalgic about memories of Eva Braun, Imelda Marcos, Mirjana Markovic, or any other enablers and beneficiaries of leaders who abuse their power and humanity. Ivanka Trump still has a chance to redeem herself.

The task falls to Ivanka Trump* because she’s the only one he seems to pay attention to for more than 23 minutes. It won’t be easy. Many of us are having or have had these hard conversations with our aging parents.

The task also falls to Ivanka Trump because it’s in good part on her. She has to own the responsibility for what she has wrought.

* Do I think Ivanka Trump will actually do this? Probably not. So really, it’s up to anyone who gets Donald Trump’s ear for more than two seconds. Perhaps his daughters-in-law? Ben Carson? He used to deal with brains, right? I really don’t know.  Help.


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Donald Trump Doesn’t Know Who Frederick Douglass Is. Happy Black History Month!


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I’m not making this up. Click here.

Maybe our Electorally Elected POTUS without a mandate doesn’t know who Frederick Douglass is (or the other totally unknown and obscure people like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks…) because Douglass dissented loudly and publicly, even when, importantly when, he was the guest of the POTUS. And our EEPwam doesn’t listen to dissent unless he wants to whine about it on Twitter.

So, since the text may be too long to hold his attention, here is a video of the Frederick Douglass speech: What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?

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