A few days before hurricane Matthew was supposed to come hurtling towards us, I started to panic a bit.
A few years earlier, Hurricane Irene had brought 10 feet of water into our New York home. I had thankfully left the night of the storm but my next door neighbors were rescued by boat. There was so much water damage, we had to move out for 3 months and rebuild our first floor.
Hence, the Matthew panic. Since my husband Rick would be working constantly at CBS covering the storm, I thought it would be best to get my family the heck out of Fort Lauderdale and get over to the west coast of Florida. I got one of the last hotel rooms in Sarasota.
I had been to Sarasota before. More than a decade earlier, I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding – 2 1/2 weeks after giving birth via c-section to my daughter Dylan. Somehow, being a bridesmaid and a new mother (as I tried to recover from surgery) didn’t give me a lot of time to explore the place.
When you get one of the last hotel rooms in a city, it will not be the nicest one. It was a “suite” but I had to jam a can opener into the top of one of the windows to actually lock it. The microwave didn’t have a handle which surprisingly it does really need. And there was so much mold in the tub, I wouldn’t allow my kids to take a bath.
But I did not care about this crappy hotel room. I was just so grateful to know that I didn’t have to worry about flood waters descending on us or a palm tree ending up in my living room.
My kids were pretty great. And I remembered how much I loved to discover a new city. I recently read an article about the need for surprises in life. Good surprises.
There can be a lot of monotony in everyday living as we end up on autopilot – doing laundry, making lunches, picking Little Bites’ brownie crumbs off the floor, driving kids to activities, picking them up and on and on.
Joy in life can come with the unknown.
And suddenly, we had a couple days to explore this unknown place. And by explore I mean, let me quickly try to find an affordable, yummy restaurant that can immediately seat me and my five children while they plead, “Oh my gosh, We are so hungry. We have never been so hungry. We really need food. When are we getting food? Can we just go to McDonald’s. We love McDonald’s. Are we there yet? Where are we going after we eat? Why are you rubbing your temples Mom?!”
The first morning, we went to an adorable breakfast spot called The Sarasota Breakfast House.
And a couple at the table next to ours recommended a few kid friendly spots. So we hit the Marine Laboratory and Aquarium which was hands on and awesome.
We also visited a great playground at the Ringling Museum and ran around on a very windy beach.
And I seriously had the most amazing honey lavender latte (who knew such a thing existed) at the Green Zebra cafe.
And yes, there were a few unfortunate moments like when 3 1/2 year old Cash ate a whole bunch of breakfast potatoes very quickly at the Blue Dolphin Cafe, started jumping up and down like a maniac and then threw up.
I quietly and intensely said to the waitress, “I need a bag, a bunch of paper towels and a wet cloth as soon as possible” and I cleaned that situation up before anyone lingering over their morning waffles was any wiser. I also left a 27% tip.
Hurricane Matthew ended up shifting just slightly – sparing South Florida from its destructive wrath. And I wasn’t complaining to anyone. I know better than to ever grumble about a lack of a hurricane.
Plus, I had forgotten how much I love to explore a new place… and find the perfect honey lavender latte or a creative cool playground that costs exactly nothing.
And even with one kid complaining that so and so got 3.1 seconds more screen time than they did, it was pretty great. A silver lining in a terrible storm. A reminder that we all need to explore and experience new things in our lives. As often as possible. Moments of discovery amongst the chocolate brownie crumbs on the floor.
(That’s an edible flower. And no, it does not taste good.)
If you are looking for ways to help the victims of Hurricane Matthew, click here.
This weekend my 6 year old twins were invited to a birthday party. I considered whether I could bring their younger sibling along too. I mean, he’s practically still a baby. If you think of a high energy 3 year old as a baby. (I’m sure I could still fit him in a Bjorn.)
I decided since it was an outdoor party with bounce houses and a playground, it would be okay to bring Cash and it totally was.
He really liked the bounce houses.
He really liked the playground.
And he really liked the cake.
The problem – no one had served cake yet.
Apparently in the 2.3 seconds I wasn’t vigilantly watching his every move, 3 year old Cash decided to sample their beautiful PJ Masks cake.
Alexander would not be happy. Of course, I went into panic mode and tried to repair it the best I could…
It’s like I minored in cake decorating in college, right?
I immediately confessed the situation to the hostess of the birthday party (who I did not know at all but now she will remember our family forever). She handled it really well.
And you can see how terrible Cash felt about the faux pas as he gleefully jumped onto one of their birthday ponies.
I wish I could say this was a first offense for my 3 year old. But this is some minor frosting damage he did at a party a few months ago.
Apparently this is a kid who really likes cake.
As my daughter’s 12 birthday approached, I asked her, “What should we do to celebrate? Curl up in the closet and sob about how fast you’re growing up?”
“No, not that,” she said. “Something more fun. With less crying.”
So we decided there would be some kind of birthday outing – not in a closet.
I was thinking she’d invite a couple friends.
She was thinking of including anyone she had ever met ever.
We compromised somewhere in between.
So what should we do?
A family friend (Ruby!) recommended a mall scavenger hunt. I immediately liked the idea because it wasn’t inside my house.
So we gathered a bunch of Dylan’s friends at the mall on a Saturday, broke them into groups (each with an adult leader) and sent them scurrying through the mall with a list of things to accomplish. Here it is….
Dylan’s Birthday Scavenger Hunt:
-Someone from the group take a photo with a mannequin (5 points). 10 points if you’re in a store window w/ the mannequin.
-Get a stranger to sing the group Happy Birthday (5 points)
-Get a perfume sample (10 points)
-3 members of the team spell out YMCA with a stranger. Take a photo. (10 points)
-Find a mall or other kind of brochure (10 points)
-Take a photo of someone in your group talking on their phone in a phone store. (5 points)
-Get a ketchup packet. (5 points)
-Get a job application from a restaurant or store (15 points)
-Photo of a team member modeling a wacky outfit (5 points)
-Photo of a team member modeling the biggest hat you can find (5 points)
-Photo of a team member modeling the smallest hat you can find (5 points)
-A picture of a team member with high heels on (5 points)
-Photo of a team member with a sales person (10 points)
-Find out the most expensive item in the Brookstone store (10 points)
-Pretend to sleep on the fluffiest thing you can find in the mall. Take a photo. (5 points)
I gave the kids 45 minutes to finish. The winning team was done in 25. Kids are fast. It must be all that Pokémon Go training. Next time, I will definitely add more to the list (and you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest).
Afterward, we had pizza and cake. And then I handed our party goers Starbucks gift cards and thanked them for attending.
It really was a fun idea. My house stayed neat. No one cried in any closets. Mall security didn’t give us a hard time.
In fact, a security guy even sang Dylan Happy Birthday. What more does a 12 year old want?
Dylan is telling me, “an iPhone 7.”
But if you can’t have an iPhone 7, a mall security guy singing you Happy Birthday is totally what you want.
Hey, it’s 3 year old Cash! What up people?! My mom is letting me do some guest blogging and by that I mean, “She’s in the shower and she thinks I’m watching ‘Paw Patrol.'”
But honestly, as long as I’m still in the house when she gets out, she considers herself a very successful parent. You should see the bolt locks they have to keep me from leaving the compound. My goodness, can’t a kid get out for a nice exercise walk and some solitude now and then?
My sister Dylan just had a birthday. She turned 12 or 2 – honestly I have no idea. I do know that she kept opening up gifts and I kept opening up nothing. My parents would throw me the empty boxes like I’m going to be jazzed about that. I’m not one year old guys! I know there is nothing in the box.
And my mom was all like – I can’t believe she’s 12. They grow up too fast. Why do adults always say that? They are like broken records. And another question, what the hell is a record?
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know I do some cray cray stuff. Here I’ll provide links. Here’s one. And another. Yup, another. And one more. My mom recently said to dad, “I think Cash is getting a little less nutso.” Now that was obviously my cue to ramp it up a bit. And potty training was the perfect opportunity.
My mother is really into this potty training thing. I would say my interest is somewhere between “I could care less” and “I’m good with this pull up til high school.”
So with complete disregard for my privacy, my mom finally resorted to taking off the pull up whenever we are home in the hopes I’ll finally try out that toilet contraption I hear so much about. And it seemed like a good idea until I pooped on the floor.
Yup, pooped on the floor. And not like a petite toddler poop. Like a Great Dane poop.
My siblings were all flabbergasted and my mom was like “Let me get my camera and document this for your dad.” I should probably be grateful she didn’t stream it live on Facebook. Although who cares if a bunch of old people see my epic poop.
By the way, there is no quicker way to get your mom to put your pull up back on then pooping on the floor.
Well, I knew I had to immediately redeem myself so my parents would keep me around so I learned how to raise my eyebrows. Big crowd pleaser around here.
Cute, right? They pretty much forgot about that poop thing. Anyway, I gotta run. Need to focus on picking the right outfit for my bitmoji. There are so many choices! And obviously, the right outfit is everything. xo Cash
This anniversary makes my heart hurt.
It is such a dark day that comes along at one of the most beautiful times of year.
Below is a piece (slightly updated) that I wrote a few years ago.
And here we are again.
I remember that day and all its horrors so vividly. I remember the endless aching that followed as I and everyone else futilely tried to make sense of something so violent and cruel and of course, completely senseless.
I remember pouring over the “New York Times’ Portraits of Grief” where the paper honored each and every victim with poignant, beautiful details of their lives.
And for some reason, Michele Coyle-Eulau always stuck with me. I didn’t know her. Only what I read. She had three sons, 2, 5 and 7 years-old.
Matthew, Mark and Eric. The children who were waiting for her to come home that day.
I wasn’t even a mom yet. But those ages. Those boys. I couldn’t stop thinking about them.
Michele was a working mom, who juggled a full and hectic schedule, including a three day a week job as a systems analyst. She worked one day from home and two days on the 96th floor of Tower One. The World Trade Center.
She was 38 years-old.
At night her husband would yell out to her, “Michelle, it’s 11 o’clock! Could you just come to bed?”
And the piece ended like this…
What took her so long to get to bed? Packing lunches, making grocery lists, arranging play dates. “I never understood,” her husband said. “Now I do.”
Since 9-11, I’ve been thinking of Michele and her family.
I’m absolutely sure that I always will.
And not a day goes by that I don’t hear the roar of an engine, look up and notice a plane flying high above.
I always look up. And I always think of that day and the nearly 3,000 victims who were robbed of their lives.
And the ones who died from inhaling toxic fumes at ground zero.
And the ones who gave their lives fighting overseas.
Every single day.
There is no forgetting.