Why I’m Opting Out of the Holiday Rat Race This Year

This Christmas, things are going to be different. Instead of jolly holidays with presents, our family is going to experience – for the first time ever, mind you – jolly holidays with each other. I know. Crazy, right?

Come read my post over at SheKnows, and find out how you can do the same.

Parenting Decisions I Refuse to Stress About

Come by and see me at SheKnows, where I’m dishing the truth about parenting blunders.

Ever just give the kid the cookies? Me too!

Come by. Let’s chat!

The Great Divide

Something’s been weighing very heavily on me, (and by the way, Hey! Thanks for hanging in! I realize I’ve been conspicuously absent over the summer) and I just gotta…

I’ve struggled to find an angle from which to attack this issue, tiptoeing deftly around themes and posts I’ve already written. I’ve struggled internally about making any declaration after having pointed fingers at myself, other women, random strangers, Target shoppers, coffee chains, and Jesus Christ himself, but the winds of change are blowing, ironically, as we speak, through my dyed brown locks.

So, how do I say this? How do I start?

We don’t love each other. We don’t. And I don’t think that’s how this life thing is supposed to work. 

I’ve been lucky enough, over the past few months, to have had the presence of mind to tear off all the layers, dig uncomfortably deeply within myself, removed enough from others to really acutely examine the modus operandi of this grand existence, and what I’ve seen, what I’ve experienced, was, in a word, humbling.

Everything I did, everything I said, every benign-appearing selfie, every move I truly made, was an outgrowth of some deep-seated insecurity, of my perceived failure as a human being, of my refusal to love myself. And once I recognized it, I began to see it in other people.

For all our ‘sharing’, we’ve become a world of insecurity, fear, and mistrust.

And it would be a disservice for me not to share that with you.

We have female pop stars attacking other pop stars, comedians shredding reality TV stars, reality TV stars biting back, a culture that glorifies indecency and appearances modified to the point that we no longer recognize who the person was in the first place, an entire culture communicating without ever meeting face-to-face. And that’s our ‘okay’.

And we judge – man, do we judge. With the Like, the Swiping Right, the tweeting, the comments, the shaming. And man, I’ve done my share. If I had a quarter for every Kanye West joke I’ve made, every reference I made to Nicki Minaj’s ass, I could most definitely get into Madame Tussauds to gaze upon their wax likenesses.

I was lucky enough this year to have some divinely concocted, handmade humble pie fed to me like the emotionally-stunted infant I was, and, let me tell you, it was delish. I was pitted face-to-face against my judgments, my perceptions of others and the world, based solely on the machinations of my own ego, solely on what I perceived to be truths, and it wasn’t pretty. What was less pretty was I was wrong on almost every account. It’s one thing to judge a woman on the basis of her Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it’s another thing entirely when you yourself have one in your hand.

Nothing aids a personal awakening more than your entire belief system overturned and dumped out in front of you, like a drawer full of socks, finding that the only way out is through. I’ve been myopic, shades of cruel beneath what I perceived (and truly believed) to be humor. From what I see of this world now, though, I was anything but funny.

What’s missing here is love. We don’t look at ourselves with love, we don’t look at each other with love, and we certainly don’t look at anyone who is different from us (which is pretty much everyone based on all the levels of division we’ve created) with any measure of affection.

This realization hit me hard, really alarmed me, not only as a person, but also as a parent. To fully embody the fact that we’re a selfish society that is destroying itself, that mocks culture and religion, community and family, and the sick and poor, was sobering. We belittle teachers and leaders, question the faithful, and only celebrate unity with the pockets of people we embrace. We tell ourselves (and each other) that the only way to handle parenthood, and life in general, is to get tanked and forget about it, load up a grocery cart with items we don’t need, or just take off. We don’t think twice about calling our kids names, ignoring our neighbors, or refusing to make room for others on the subway. And we don’t let our kids play with other children, because germs.

We’re no longer the global family in the Coke commercial. No one cares to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. Everyone’s singing their own song on their own YouTube channel. We’ve become a country of apathetic, narcissistic, materially-obsessed individuals who connect superficially (and constantly) with others for conditional love. We offer ourselves up to the world to be rated, we take everything we can get from external sources, and somehow, it’s never enough.

But why?

Because we’ve come to praise separateness, exclusivity, ourselves, and our possessions. We’ve disintegrated community into minuscule, unrecognizable pieces. We’ve become purveyors of the wrong thing.

We fail to connect with, and care for, other human beings.

Children are bullied and subjected to unspeakable cruelty, teens peck at one another relentlessly, adults sequester themselves in small circles of like-minded adults, and the elderly, instead of being respected and revered for their precious life experiences, are abused, neglected, and robbed in broad daylight.

And we see that things are so bad, yet we do little about it but poke the problems (and each other) with sticks, which only creates more division.

We live in a world where one person’s act of kindness to a mother of an infant on a plane goes viral. Think about that.

That’s not the world I want to leave for my children.

They can’t learn love if we never experience it. They can’t love themselves if we’re always looking outside. They can’t value community if we don’t participate in it. And they can’t teach their kids to love their neighbors if we don’t love them ourselves.

Through all this, and for the sake of my kids, who will inherit all the chaos and beauty of this planet, I’m learning to become a kinder, gentler Stephanie. I’m hoping that may be something this world needs, one bird learning to chirp a more melodious tune.

I invite you to join me. Maybe we can learn together.

Picture Courtesy https://pixabay.com/

Picture Courtesy https://pixabay.com/

Dysfunctional Relationship with a Retail Chain

You and I need to have a sit-down. Just you and me. I feel – well, I feel like maybe you’re playing games with me.

At first, everything was all glossy and potentially as much as 30% off, but some days, you just seem like you’re high.

And when you give me something? When you give me something, it just seems like you’re trying to get me to give you something back in return.

I’m pretty sure you’re toying with me.

For instance, why would you withhold that $20 until the next time I see you? Why couldn’t you just give it to me today? Are you trying to keep me around? Trying to keep me interested? To keep me coming back?

I feel like you’re a little manipulative. And controlling.

And you jerk me around like a ragdoll sometimes, you know? Just let me walk away, knowing full well everything will be cheaper tomorrow.

Is that what you think of me?

It’s like you’re someone different every time I see you. One day, you’re buy one, get one for a penny, the next you’re no interest for six months, and the next you’re the Lowest Price of the Season! It’s like I don’t even know you anymore.

What happened to the good old days when things were transparent? Remember? With the price tags? The sticky ones? That stuck?

Now it seems like you’ve gotten a little big for your britches, with your fancy digital displays and your loyalty card. And your VIP credit events. I feel like a pawn.

And your sales? What sales? With you, there are no sales. Everything comes at a price.

If this keeps up, I’m afraid I am going to have to break up with you. Yep, break up. Shop at another store.

I really think we need a break. I’m just going to, you know, see what else is out there. I can’t be party to your mind games any longer.

And I will. Just as soon as I spend this certificate I got the last time I was here.

Beaching It As a Kid vs. Beaching It WITH Kids

I have a pail full of summer beach memories – sitting in traffic in a hot car with steel seat belts for hours, having to eat lunch in that car due to said traffic, and having appendages break through spaces in woven plastic lounge chairs, to name a few. But most of all, I remember our red, white, and blue cooler, with no wheels, that weighed about ten thousand pounds, we lugged back and forth every time .

As I gear up for another summer with three little ones, I find myself often amused at how we ‘got by’ as kids, and how we rock the beach today.

The Beach in the ’80’s: Building sandcastles, in a bathing suit, for hours, unsupervised.

The Beach Today: Building a sandcastle, covered neck to knees in SPF 50 swim duds, overseen by two hovering caregivers.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Everyone carries two armfuls of beach gear.

The Beach Today: This thing…

Picture courtesy wheelez.cn

Picture courtesy wheelez.cn

The Beach in the ’80’s: Tempting salmonella with meatball and cheese sandwiches that sat in foil, in a plastic bag, for twelve full hours.

The Beach Today: Lunch via color-coded Ziploc bags, arranged according to child and food allergy.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Baby oil.

The Beach Today: Sunscreen, safely hidden by SPF 100 swimwear, covered by a Trapper Hat, wraparound sunglasses, and water shoes.



The Beach Today: Ventilated, portable, self-erecting cabana with insect screen.

The Beach in the ’80’s: A towel on your head.



The Beach Today:  Swimmie diapers.

The Beach in the ’80’s:  Shit out of luck.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Sand-crusted aluminum cans filled with your favorite carbonated beverages.

The Beach Today: BPA-Free double-walled sippy cups with silicone straw cozies.

iPod shuffle 4G

iPod shuffle 4G (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The Beach in the ’80’s: Music courtesy one family’s battery-operated “beach radio”.

The Beach Today: iPhone, iPhone, iPad, a Kindle Fire, and an iPod Shuffle.






The Beach in the ’80’s: Making random vacationing ‘beach friend’ while swimming.

The Beach Today: Seahorse-themed beach playdate, scheduled three months in advance.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Taking a header off a wave and emerging with skinned knees and a mouthful of salt water.

The Beach Today: Full-body flotation suits.



The Beach in the ’80’s: “Beach Clothes”, i.e., anything you didn’t mind getting wet or dirty.

The Beach Today: Coordinating three-piece set with matching towel and tote bag from Pottery Barn Kids.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Sunbathing.

The Beach Today: Building a bunker.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Aluminum beach chairs.

The Beach Today: Zero-gravity chairs with built-in massage, cup holders, USB port, and canopy.



The Beach in the ’80’s: Hanging out in the sand until dusk.

The Beach Today: Leaving as soon as possible to avoid contracting West Nile Virus.



As the kickoff of beach season fast approaches, I wish you sandless sandwiches, tremendous tan lines, and seaweed-free trunks.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,246 other followers