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the mamabird diaries

Mar
16
2017

I went to Miami this weekend with some friends from New York. Have you gone anywhere without kids? It’s very relaxing. I’m thinking of doing it every weekend. And week.

Kelcey One Hotel

Throughout the weekend, I would get pangs of guilt that I had left my husband home alone with 5 kids but then I would have a glass of Rosé and rub on some more sunscreen and those pangs would just disappear!

I ran around South Beach with these funny, gorgeous gals (and when I say running, I mean a slow saunter to croissant and coffee shops).

Miami gals

We took a lot of important photographs while we were there that I can only imagine will be used by the Miami tourism board to lure more people to South Beach.

This is is me telling a young girl, “Could you please move – I’m trying to take a picture with Hello Kitty.” Kids can be so self centered.

Miami Hotel Kitty

Only my friend Smeredith (name has been changed) could look this photogenic while sticking her head in an alligator.

Meredith alligator

And here’s my friend Smonica (name has also been changed), the beautiful horticulturist.

Monica and the plant

I got the opportunity to watch Smonica FaceTime her dog from the hotel room which was obviously very special. She told me I could only share this fact with you if I posted her dog’s official commissioned portrait.

monicas dog

The great thing about South Beach is that you can go right from the beach to the streets with no change of clothes required.

Miami street wear

But it’s very hard to wear your cute, strapless jumpsuit if you forgot to put on sunscreen. I wonder who this is…

sunburn

We also carried around a “Reserve” sign so that no matter where we went, we looked fancy and important. You’re welcome for the travel tip.

Reserve

If someone is looking for a stolen “reserved” sign, we were never at the Delano.

Eventually the weekend ended and my friends had to return to cold weather. Something about snow armageddon. Just know that here in South Florida, it’s totally not 75 and sunny. I mean, probably not.

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Just wanted to share a few other articles I’ve written lately. On SheKnows, I’ve recently written about the most ridiculous mom jeans on the planet (and they are actually sold by TopShop at Nordstrom). Plus, some second graders wrote some very funny condolence cards, a pregnant woman gives out a trophy when a guy finally offers her a seat on the subway and a woman breastfeeds on live TV and almost gets away with it.

Over at Alpha Mom, I wrote about the best family friendly restaurants in Fort Lauderdale. Like these are restaurants adults will love too.  And if you’re in the potty market, don’t miss my review of the best potty seats and chairs to get your kids out of diapers.  I was exhausted sitting on all of those potties. Oh, fine. I had my 3 year old do it. But I did write the review! Enjoy.


Mar
01
2017

There are moments in life that you have to shelve to the back of your mind (as best you can). These are moments too painful or too scary or too difficult to relive again and again. To do so would be paralyzing. We’ve had several moments like that with our 3 year old son Cash.

There was the time he just left the house. We have had high locks and chimes on our doors ever since. Or the time a sibling unlocked a door and he found his way to a 5th floor balcony in Manhattan. Or just this past Saturday evening.

I can tell this story once and then it must be buried away. Not that I won’t take lessons way from the experience but I can’t relive the feelings of that day over and over again. I wouldn’t be able to breathe.

We couldn’t find a sitter Saturday night. So we decided to take our kids to the beach to just run around in the sand and enjoy the sunset. A week earlier, my older children had climbed the rocks on a nearby jetty and were anxious to revisit it again. “Let’s go!” we said.

jetty

I grew up by the water so walking along a jetty is a familiar part of my childhood.  There is something magical about getting to do it with my children. My 6 year old son Chase and my 3 year old son Cash stayed at the bottom with my husband Rick.

I climbed the jetty with my three girls. It was fun and adventurous and we could feel the warm air on our faces as the sun began to fade.  With it getting darker, I said, “Girls, we need to climb down now.” They didn’t want to but I insisted.

As we started making our way down the rocks, I saw 3 year old Cash at the bottom. He wanted to climb up. Cash (the youngest of five kids) has endless courage and was anxious to start scampering up the rocks to get to us. I remember calling down to him, “Cash, we’re on our way down.”

And in one second, he was gone. I saw him drop right into this crevice between the rocks and as I looked down from my rock high above, I only saw darkness. No child. Just blackness.

I started screaming. Loud, desperate screaming. I felt frozen and helpless and in disbelief at what was unraveling before me.

Rick and a few guys who had been hanging out on the beach started running towards us. I watched from above as Rick reached down into the crevice and pulled out our youngest son. Rick had seen Cash’s hands reaching up above the water and was able to grab him.

My beautiful, soaking wet, sobbing, bleeding, breathing, beautiful son.

A paramedic (who had also been on the beach walking his dog) checked Cash out and said he likely didn’t need stitches.

But Cash kept saying, “I’m tired. I’m tired” – something my son never says. At the hospital, they were concerned about secondary drowning since he had been submerged under water. But a chest X-ray and a blood test showed he was okay. They cleaned up his head wound and we went home.

Cash should never have been near those rocks. But we didn’t realize the danger that day. We know now.

Rick said that was the scariest moment of his life. “More frightening than when you were running from the crumbling Twin Towers on 9-11?”

He nodded. “Yes. I was more scared than I was on 9-11.”

On Monday, I told my preschool director about the incident – just in case they noticed Cash’s head injury or he talked about what happened. And she made a suggestion.

She said, sometimes when God or the universe or whatever you believe in takes care of you, it can feel good to put something positive back into the world. And it gives your children a way to express themselves.

I thought about my 6 year old son Chase who had said to me, while tears streamed down his face, “I never thought I was going to see my brother again.”

I know honey. I didn’t either.

I took my preschool director’s advice and told my kids that because we were so grateful that Cash was protected – we would give a donation to our local Covenant House that helps homeless teens. I told my children they could give as little or as much as they wanted from their saved up birthday and tooth fairy money. There was no judgement. Any amount was perfect. Because when life feels out of your control, you want to do something.

One tween gave $20. Another gave $11. One twin gave $1. And another gave $7. I put some additional money in the jar. So did Rick. No one griped. No one complained. The kids seemed thankful for the chance to take action after such a stressful, potentially horrific event.

We will deliver the money this week. It’s our way of giving love and kindness into a world that protected my son that day.

I’m so grateful Rick saw those hands reaching up out of that dark crevice.

I’m grateful for the strangers on the beach who immediately came running and lifted my other children off the rocks as I cried.

I’m grateful for this 3 year old boy who is back to his everyday activities like dumping out full bottles of hand soap when he’s supposed to be washing his hands. I will go to the store and buy more bottles of hand soap to replace all the soap he keeps wasting.

And I will take joy in doing so.

Cash-Fort Lauderdale-beach


Feb
06
2017

This post is sponsored by Luvs.

31 year old Jacquelean Tew did not have an easy start in life. She grew up in foster care, bouncing from house to house, never finding the place she belonged. All she wanted was a genuine, loving home.

Luvs-mother

“People told me I was nothing. That happened to me a lot in my life. I would have to just act normal. Who was I going to tell my problems to?”

Jacquelean became a single mom at 19. And nobody ever seemed to have her back. But this inspiring woman was not going to be defeated by the circumstances of her life. She may not have grown up in a loving home but she was going to create one for her child.

Jacquelean earned a GED, took odd jobs and worked as a cashier until she was eventually able to buy a Miami home in foreclosure for herself and her daughter Jade.  An organization called Neighbors4Neighbors (which connects people in the South Florida community who want to help with local people who need assistance) is helping her rebuild the house which is in serious disrepair.

I knew Jacquelean was the kind of person who does everything for her 12 year old daughter.

Luvs-Mother-daughter

Which is why when Luvs (the diaper company) gave me $150 to spend on any parent as part of the company’s #ShareTheLuv campaign, I told Jacquelean this had to be something special just for her.

So we purchased a spa/ beauty day. She plans to get her hair, nails and toes done. This is something she would never do on her own. She says every dollar goes into her home and for her daughter. “I don’t really get to treat myself. It’s really nice to be taken care of.”  This is a woman that deserves to be spoiled.

Jacquelean continues to build a better future for herself and her daughter. She now goes to school at Miami Dade College and plans to become a paralegal. She has a lawyer as a mentor.

“You know who should also be a mentor?” I say.

“Who?” she asks.

“You. You are an inspiration to anyone who has dealt with unbelievable disadvantages in life and just kept going. You embody the power of hope and persistence and determination. You inspire me.”

Jacquelean gives me a smile. She probably thinks of herself as more of a survivor than a mentor. But she’s both. I feel lucky to have met such an amazing woman.

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Luvs also generously gave me diapers do donate to Covenant House, a safe place for at risk, homeless teens (and their babies) here in Fort Lauderdale.  The organization was extremely grateful since diapers can be a big cost for their young, struggling moms.

LuvsDiapers

Luvs is a company that believes in great products (like their Luvs Ultra Leakguard Diapers with NightLock Plus™) that don’t break the bank. Parenting can be difficult, so diapering shouldn’t be.

Luvs is encouraging parents to “Share the Luv” this February with fellow deserving parents. Also – to make sure everyone gets to share in the Luv – Luvs is offering a great money-saving opportunity with a $1 print-at-home coupon. Click here to access $1 off any one diaper pack.

Print the coupon at home and use it at any mass, discount or grocery stores where Luvs Diapers are sold. All Luvs Diapers are included in this particular offer, except trial/travel sized diaper packs. Print-at-Home coupons expire 30 days from the date the coupon is printed.

Because the world always needs more Luvs. And love.

This post is sponsored by Luvs. All ideas are my own. 


Jan
31
2017

We always get those coupon books in the mail and I’m forever looking for a car wash coupon. My favorite thing about going to the car wash (other than my car no longer smelling like spoiled deli/armpit is when they say, “And if it rains tomorrow, bring it back and we will rewash it for free!”

And I’m like, “What if it rains cheddar goldfish in the third row of my minivan, then will you rewash it for free?!” The answer is no so don’t even bother asking.

So we just got a new coupon booklet and my 3 year old son pulled out a coupon and kept saying, “I want this. I want this. I want this.”

“I want the car washed too buddy! Let me see that.”

And this is what he showed me…

cellulite

What did he want exactly? Reduced cellulite? A thong? I couldn’t figure it out. But he was so insistent on wanting it.

Turns out, he was telling me he wants to wear underwear.

We finally got 3 1/2 year old Cash potty trained. For months I tried not to worry about his complete disinterest in potty training but I have a lot of landfill guilt and his environmental impact was becoming too much to bear. That and a 3 1/2 year old does not produce the most petite bowel movements.

We finally potty trained him by just having him wear shorts (it’s Florida) with no underwear. I think getting a little extra air down there helped him remember that pull ups (during the day) were a thing of the past and he needed to get to a toilet.

The only problem is that sometimes he is stuck in the car. The other day I ran into a sporting goods store and left Cash in the car with his older sisters. They are 10 and 12 so please don’t call the authorities. You see Cash is sort of a maniac in every store and sometimes the thought of dragging him in there for 10 minutes so I can buy soccer socks makes my head explode a little bit.

So I said to my girls, “Lock the doors, I’ll be right back.”

And I was right back.

But it’s amazing what can happen in 10 minutes.

“Everything good?” I said.

“Yes but Cash had to go to the bathroom,” my 12 year old explained.

“Why didn’t you text me?”

“Well, we did something different than that.”

“What?” I asked.

“Well, I had this empty ice tea bottle so I unbuckled Cash and had him pee in the bottle.”

And he really did.

ice.tea.bottle

I looked at the bottle. And my first thought was  – I’m so glad he didn’t pee in his pants and carseat.

“Okay. That was a clever, bold way to go. Maybe next time text me. We actually have a portable potty in the back of the car.” I explained.

She agreed.

And then I thought – wow, Cash is a lot more talented than I imagined.

This kid definitely deserves some underwear.


Jan
24
2017

Spoiler alert: I will discuss the ending of the movie La La Land so please stop reading if you haven’t seen the movie or don’t want to know the ending. 

A few weeks ago, my husband said to me, “I want to see La La Land.” I was not surprised at all. Mainly because Rick tells me constantly about movies he want to see and knowing we have five kids and we’ll never get there, I say, “Absolutely, let’s see it! Any time!”

LaLaLand

They also couldn’t design a more perfect movie for Rick. Because first of all, it’s a musical.

Rick is a guy who once triumphed as Danny Zuko is his high school production of Grease and thinks of himself not so much as a successful TV newscaster but more of a TV newscaster/ famous broadway star. Despite the fact that he currently does not perform on Broadway.

La La Land is also a nod to the golden age of Hollywood movies and Rick loves old movies. Or as his children describes them, “the black and white, boring ones that daddy makes us watch sometimes.” But he has beautiful memories of watching It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca and Singin’ in the Rain with his grandparents. These movies are intertwined with happy memories of childhood.

I, however, don’t always love musicals – although some are great. And I think old movies can tend to be a little slow in the plot department. But I’ll tell you something I am consistently passionate about… Ryan Gosling.

So I was in on this whole La La Land thing even though it meant paying a sitter so we could go out and basically “watch TV” on a bigger screen. But you were allowed to bring in cocktails, so how bad could it get?

And I really did like the movie. Emma Stone is adorable and Ryan Gosling is very Ryan Goslingesque and all was great until…. the ENDING.

I don’t understand how there is not more outrage over the ending of this movie.

The entire movie is a homage to feel good, old school Hollywood movies until the end where suddenly they’re like… oh yeah, they don’t end up together. Here’s a montage of what it would have been like if they ended up together. But they didn’t. Movie over. Pick up your empty popcorn tub, throw away your empty plastic wine cup and go home and pay the sitter. Because this is over.

I felt robbed. Betrayed. Puzzled. The whole world is crazy and we can’t at least watch Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling ride off into the sunlit jazz club together?

I figured NPR’s Terry Gross would get to the bottom of it on Fresh Air when she interviewed the director Damien Chazelle. But no, she never even mentioned it. In fact, she seemed way more interested in Damien Chazelle as a person and way less interested in why two fake characters (Mia and Sebastian) didn’t end up together in the “it” movie of the year.

Without Terry’s insight, I’ve had to figure this out on my own. In the end, I decided, the movie is not about love and romance. It’s about pursuing ones dreams. And the choices one makes. And the roads not taken.

But it still nagged at me. Why couldn’t they find success and stay with each other?

I guess for my perfect ending, I’ll have to re-watch the Notebook where Rachel McAdams must choose between two men and she wisely picks Gosling.

Now that’s a Hollywood ending a romantic can love.



kelcey kintner


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