Remember when I was just writing about the horrific hurricane in Houston and my own hurricane woes a number of years ago in New York?
And then all of a sudden I was like – wait, what? Hurricane Irma is a category 5 hurricane barreling towards Florida? Dammit.
Yes, hurricane Irma did arrive with too much force and too much destruction. We did okay here in Fort Lauderdale. We had some damage but nothing completely overwhelming. Our power was out for about a week which gave me a reason to throw out 13 different kinds of mustard and hot sauces (Did they even needed to be refrigerated in the first place?!).
Since Rick was working night and day in Miami at CBS, I took the kids to my sister’s in Memphis during the hurricane. Well, (due to lack of flights) first we had to drive to Orlando so we could get on a plane to Atlanta and then drive to Alabama, spend the night in a hotel and then drive to Memphis. But sort of the same thing.
I was so relieved and grateful to get out of South Florida.
As soon as we arrived, my sister said we should go to her in-laws lake house. Since it had taken me 36 hours to get to Memphis, I wasn’t exactly jazzed up for driving two hours to a lake house. But I had to entertain these children somehow – so we went.
And it was gorgeous. The kids tubed, knee boarded and waterskied. It was the perfect diversion from worrying about their dad and our home in South Florida.
I even waterskied for the first time in a really long time. And apparently I can still do it.
It turned out that we spent my daughter Dylan’s 13th birthday and my wedding anniversary in Memphis too. My sister and I thought we would take her ziplining. Until I called and found out you’re 40 feet in the air. And I’m thinking – that’s about 40 feet farther from the ground than I’d like to be.
But my desire to make Dylan’s birthday super special and my sister’s pleas that it would indeed be “super fun” finally convinced me.
And that’s pretty much how I ended up 40 feet in the trees, ziplining across lakes and actually thinking, “You know what… this is fun.”
Here we are during our “training.” We pretty much all look like we’re the second-rate team that showed up to fix the electrical problem in your garage or something.
And then we got to it.
And it got me thinking (in that Carrie Bradshaw way) that if I could spend 36 hours getting 5 kids from Fort Lauderdale to Memphis, slalom waterski and fly across a lake despite my fear then maybe I could be doing more cool stuff.
Life can be so predictable. I do a thousand things for other people every day. Usually the same one thousand things. So I’m vowing now (and please hold me to this or even join me) to do something different every week.
I’m not going skydiving or learning to basket weave. But something in between.
Does making dinner for my kids count? Wait, no.
I’m going to need some ideas.
Let’s get to it.
I hate watching the Harvey hurricane coverage. But I can’t not watch the Harvey coverage. The devastation is unbelievable and it’s quite a flashback to 7 years ago when Hurricane Irene dumped 10 feet of water in our house.
We (along with our 6 year old, 3 year old and 6 month old twins) evacuated before the storm but our neighbors were rescued by boat. This was my neighborhood…
We were forced to move out for three months while we rebuilt our home. My 3 year old kept telling me she just wanted to go home. I know, I would say. Me too.
For months, it was a steady stream of building inspectors, insurance adjusters, FEMA officials, electricians, plumbers, politicians, contractors. It was extremely financially and emotionally stressful.
On the bright side, I was elated that all that water finally shut up this incredibly annoying, talking Elmo.
Houston families, affected by the hurricane, face an uncertain, difficult future. More than 100,000 homes have been damaged. And approximately 70% of the home damages won’t be covered by insurance. That’s because standard homeowners insurance policies don’t cover damage from rain or flood waters.
My heart just hurts for these families.
And obviously, we all can and should give from afar. But I can tell you that the actions of their friends and neighbors close by can do so much to lift them up.
I remember virtual strangers showing up to do whatever they could. They dropped off toys and meals at our temporary housing. A friend picked up our nearly destroyed double stroller and somehow nursed that thing back into pristine condition. Another friend helped us find and bring back our playset which had been dragged by hurricane force down the street.
Before finding our own temporary housing, we stayed for several days with a friend in town. The poor guy would come home from the office and find me, Rick, our 4 kids, my sister and her son (who were visiting) and sometimes even my mom! Can you believe he didn’t just sleep at the office? But nope, instead he bought home cupcakes for my girls.
It’s that type of kindness you never forget.
Sometimes life is so overwhelming, you don’t know what to do. So when people show up and just start doing something, it is incredible.
Oh Texas, we send you love. Thanks for reminding us what America can be.
Resilient, strong and most of all, kind.
My 4 year old son loves dogs. Like he makes a lot of dog friends. For instance, here he is with his Jersey shore dog buddy Lincoln.
Cash also spent a ton of time with my mom’s dogs this summer… feeding them, walking them, picking up their dog poop in the backyard. It was like my mom had hired a not terribly competent but very energetic dog assistant.
So one afternoon, Cash grabbed one of the poop bags and headed outside. My mom asked what the bag was for (since they had already cleaned the yard). Cash was a bit vague but within a few moments, my mom had single handily solved the caper.
Cash admitted to pooping outside.
Just like his dog friends!
Let’s give him some credit on this. He knew it had to be cleaned up. And he was on it – if only his pesky mom and grandmother hadn’t gotten involved.
He didn’t seem too focused on the immediate need for toilet paper but at least he was trying to keep the yard tidy.
I’ve told this story to a couple people. I would have told more but it’s harder than you think to work “my kid pooped in the backyard” into conversations.
One friend thought that I made the whole thing up. I clarified that if I ever say… “I just got hired at Vogue to be their new middle aged cover model” – that’s probably a lie. But under no scenario would I ever fib about my son pooping in the great outdoors.
My friend Adam seemed impressed. He texted me…
I’ve since spoken to my son about the invention of indoor plumbing. He’s definitely considering it.
My oldest daughter is about to be 13. THIRTEEN. But this isn’t a post about, “How can I be a mother of a teenager?!!” Nope, not one of those. I mean I could write about that. Write about how she was a baby and then I blinked and how does time fly by so fast?!
But by the time I was done, you’d be thinking about your own children and how they grow up too quickly and you’ll likely be sobbing in a dark closet, clutching onto their old, worn lovey and well, none of us would feel good about that.
Plus I’m apparently too emotionally unstable for that kind of thing. I just teared up reading an article about surviving your “empty nest” even though I won’t actually have to deal with that for six more years. It’s good to get the crying out early.
So nope. This is about something different.
At the beginning of the summer, I realized something. I needed a better way to connect with my oldest child. She is an independent spirit who would be very content living on her own in a west village apartment in New York City right now if we would only let her.
A once very shy little girl, she rarely looks back now. Unless I’m holding the Starbucks frappuccino she ordered. (And yes, I still make her drink decaf even though she is very exhausted after 10 hours of sleep and would prefer caffeine.)
And yes, parents have to set the rules. She has to go to bed on time (even though she’s not tired at all) and we won’t let her get a dog (because pets aren’t fun when your parents are having nervous breakdowns) and we won’t let her have a TV in her room or let her keep her phone in her room at night and probably a million other things.
But I love her madly and want to connect more with this growing, independent, caring, amazing girl.
So I did what any parent would do. I got her an apartment in Manhattan and wallpapered the walls in Starbucks’ decals.
I mean, sort of like that. But way cheaper.
I joined Snapchat. Like joined it and actually learned how to do it. My daughter loves Snapchat. Her passion for keeping her streaks going with friends is unparalleled. The scientists trying to get to Mars should have her kind of determination.
So now I send Snapchats back in forth with my two oldest daughters and it’s a really fun way for us to check in and connect.
Plus, the filters can make you look pretty good (which is nice for anyone over 35. Okay over 40. Okay over… Never mind).
Even the ones that distort your face somehow make you look younger!
I even got my mom to do a Snapchat and will obviously cherish this photo forever…
I find when it comes to kids… you have to try to join them where they are. With my 4 year old, he’s into worms and frogs and a tiny dead crab we found on the beach the other day.
With my older girls, it’s Snapchat.
And going to H&M and Target. And playing in the ocean. And singing pop songs in the car.
And finding a show (like Gilmore Girls) to watch together. To take a break from the endless stream of YouTube videos that seem to be about fashion, slime, pranks and a million other things you forgot to think about today.
And having a few minutes to chat at night before bed because a child will tell you anything and I mean anything when they are trying to avoid going to bed.
And listening to them when they want to talk.
And trying not to get too frustrated when they won’t.
And joining them on the roller coaster of emotions even though I never loved roller coasters. At all.
So yes, thirteen is banging down my door. Only 6 years until she leaves for college. It’s forever and no time at all. It’s a lifetime and a moment.
I could cry. I think I’ll Snapchat her instead.
(This is a sponsored post for AMAZE. AMAZE is all about making sex education less awkward. Trust me, you need to know about this.)
Way back when I had my first little baby – I knew that SOME DAY, I would have to have “the talk.” That talk where parents feel uncomfortable and kids look shocked as they try to absorb some pretty crazy information about how they were created.
But this talk was way off in the distance. Nothing to be worried about since I was so focused on important parental details like… How the hell does this breast pump work? Why are people glaring at me when I give my baby a pacifier? And will I ever sleep again?
But about two seconds later, my oldest daughter was almost 10 and I knew it was time. I had purchased two books about where babies come from (by the way, no mention of how tequila can play a role). While some parents might view these books as a conversation starter, I viewed them as “doing the job for me.”
I read one of the books, answered a whole bunch of questions and declared myself a great mom! The talk was over and now my daughter could grow into a healthy, informed adult.
Except it wasn’t over. In parenthood, it’s never over.
Turns out, there isn’t one talk. There are many talks! It needs to be an open, ongoing conversation. Because kids need to learn way more than the definition of sex. They need to be educated about puberty, how to prevent pregnancies (long before they are faced with a sexual situation) and they need to learn about healthy and unhealthy relationships.
Because if you don’t talk to them about this stuff – they are still going to seek out the information. From their favorite celebrity YouTuber. Or their friends. Or some anonymous chat group.
Don’t. Because just like those books that help explain why sometimes mommy and daddy need alone time in their bedroom, with the lights out, the door locked and a little soft jazz playing in the background, there is a fabulous resource called AMAZE.
AMAZE seriously takes the awkward out of sex ed. On the site, you’ll find fun, humorous animated videos that give kids (ages 10 and up) all the info about sex, their bodies and relationships. And we all know, KIDS LOVE VIDEOS. So use it to your advantage.
AMAZE is like having the best wingman ever in teaching your kids about all this sex stuff. I love a wingman. So when you’re ready to teach your kids about birth control, a video like this can really help…
The Amaze Facebook page is also a great resource. So go on over there and see what they are posting. And here are some other helpful links…
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amazeparents
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/amazeorg
- YouTube: http://youtube.com/amazeorg
- Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/amazeorg
- Hashtag: #MoreInfoLessWeird
This post is sponsored by Amaze. All ideas are my own.