Dec 052014

Didn't you know? Reading books is COOL! Snatch up a cozy read and hop in with our online book club. We're thrilled you're here!For those of you that have been reading with Carrie from Normal Level of Crazy and me through this online book club: WE LOVE YOU. Trying to make a go of anything new in this blogging world is can be tricky, but we’re going to keep up with this because, quite simply, we love reading. Also, most sincerely, we love you, readers.

After our last post, one woman told me how grateful she was to have someone else to read with, even if she never actually met them. She too is a book fan, but her young kids prevent her from the magic trick of leaving her house. Yet she still wanted to know someone else was reading the same book she was–and thinking about it and caring what she thought.

Being the sap that I am about connecting with others, I teared up when she shared this with me. And then I felt reaffirmed that this book club was a smart idea. I love my books. I can’t always go out like a normal person to talk about them face-to-face, but being able to read with all of you is a blessing.

So thanks for humoring us, friends–we are genuinely thrilled that you are here!

And make sure to leave a comment below to win a copy of our pick for this month!


All that gushiness aside, our pick for last month was Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. This is hard review for me to write because I LOVE AMY POEHLER. But I was not a fan of this book.

As we noshed on chips and margaritas, I worked hard to put my thoughts into words so I could explain them to Carrie, but it’s tricky. My concept of Poehler is that she is sweet, genuine, very smart and wonderfully sarcastically funny.  I simply could not get this image to savvy up with the voice in her book, which to me came across as cocky and even foolish at times. All quotes and input from other people featured in the book served to confirm my original notion of her, but her voice itself confused me. Did anyone else feel this way??

My admiration of her was also disillusioned by some of the book’s content. It was disjointed and confusing. For example, on one page Poehler both noted the damage drugs can wreck on a family, only to then seemingly praise drugs for their redeeming qualities. The flow felt bizarre  and off to me.

Perhaps my feelings about the book mostly stem from my difficultly relating to Poehler. For while we have children the same age, our day-to-days are wildly different. Usually inability to relate to the people I read about does not color my opinions of books, but I think in this case, it did.

There were some very cool things about the book, though. Carrie noted her appreciation for Poehler’s recognition of the difficulty of book-writing, and I whole-heartedly agree. Poehler’s honesty about this was not only refreshing, but inspiring for those of us aspiring to write while feeling overwhelmed by the reality of actually producing a book.

I also delighted in the photos and excerpts that were included throughout the book. These served not only to break up text and provide levity but reinforced my original affection for Amy Poehler.

While I didn’t love this book, I remain a tremendous fan of Poehler’s work in general. I don’t think all authors are meant to write books, and this is fine. We need people to write amazing content for television so we can roll on the floor in laughter after we stash those kiddos in bed ;)


After hearing WONDERFUL things about Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time, we decided to cozy in for the holiday month with one of our all-time favorite authors. Please join us and read along this month–we will look forward to chatting about it with you the first Friday of January!

And if you’d like to win a copy of Leaving Time, just tell us in your comment below. One winner, age 18 or above, living in the continental U.S. will be randomly selected from the comments left below before 12/12/14 at 5am EST.

Here is the summary for Leaving Time from Amazon, along with the link to buy the book:

Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time weaves elephant behavior into a search for a missing mother. The connection isn’t as odd as it might sound at first, and Picoult has written another page-turning novel, even as it focuses on motherhood, loss, and grief. Teenager Jenna Metcalf was just three years old when her mother disappeared from an elephant sanctuary. Ten years later, she takes up the search for her mother, Alice, by studying Alice’s decade-old journals on grieving elephants. The research itself is fascinating, the hints about Alice’s disappearance are compelling; but Jenna cannot find her mother on her own. By enlisting the help of a formerly famous—now infamous—psychic, as well as a down-and-out private detective whose career went south during the botched investigation of Alice’s disappearance, Jenna forms a sort of new family to help her in her quest. As the facts begin to come together—described in alternating chapters by Jenna, the psychic, the private detective, and Alice’s journals—it all heads toward a thrilling conclusion. And, yes, there is a big twist at the end. – Chris Schluep

Looking forward to reading with YOU, friends! Happy cozy holiday reading!

WE LOVE our books! Hop in with us every first Friday to talk about what we're reading and share your thoughts--we want to hear from YOU!


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Nov 072014

WE LOVE our books! Hop in with us every first Friday to talk about what we're reading and share your thoughts--we want to hear from YOU!It’s the first Friday of the month! In Mom of the Year world, this means it’s time to READ. Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and I have been loving our monthly virtual book club–so much fun to share our reading obsession with all of you! Last month we read The Memory Box, and this month we are chatting Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

Carrie is filling you in on our in-person discussion below, so check in and then make sure to share your thoughts with us. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU! Also, make sure to catch the title for next month and leave a comment on one of our posts so you can get your very own copy of Wild!  Thanks for following along and reading with us, friends! Happy virtual book club day!


Last month, my lovely friend, Meredith of The Mom of the Year, chose the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed as our book club read for the month of October.  I hope you all got a chance to read it or, if not, at least added it to your must read list.  Because it truly is a must read!

I’ll be honest, I’m always a little leery of these “Eat, Pray, Love” type books.  Let’s face it, I’m a mom.  I can’t go galavanting off to another country or wilderness to “find myself”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I want to!  Desperately.  Even Cheryl’s toenail-less feet and lack of decent food didn’t deter me from wistfully dreaming of doing exactly what she did … which was hike the Pacific Crest Trail for three months after the death of her mother.

I’m, of course, so curious to hear what you all thought of it.  A couple of things stood out to me personally.  I could relate so completely to Cheryl in the feelings she experienced in relation to her mother’s death.  Having experienced my own mother’s death at about the same age as Cheryl, I thought Cheryl did an amazing job articulating the ups and downs, the deep waves and the soft flutters of grief.

This paragraph, in particular, blew me away.

It was wrong.  It was so relentlessly awful that my mother had been taken from me.  I couldn’t even hate her properly.  I didn’t get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I wished she’d done differently an then get older and understand that she had done the best she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again.  Her death had obliterated that.  It had obliterated me.  It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance.  It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we’d left off.  She was my mother, but I was motherless.  I was trapped by her but utterly alone.  She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill.  I’d have to fill it myself again and again and again.”

There is so much in this book! Join our virtual book club as we explore all the elements of Wild by Cheryl Strayed.Have you ever lost someone and found yourself struggling with that relationship?

I also found the way she explained her forgiveness of herself to be most powerful.  How do you forgive yourself if you’ve done something you know if so completely and utterly wrong?

“What if I forgave myself?  I thought.  What if I forgave myself even though I’d done something I shouldn’t have?  What if I was a liar and a cheat and there was no excuse for what I’d done other than because it was what I wanted and needed to do?   … What if what made me do all those things everyone thought I shouldn’t have done was what also had got me here?  What if I was never redeemed?  What if I already was?”

Have you ever had to forgive yourself of something that you had done wrong?  Is it possible to do this and move on and let go?

Lastly, I found this passage – where Cheryl is discussing the legitimate fears of taking this journey by herself – a woman alone – to hold a deeper sense of the real condition of anxiety and how it shapes us and can take hold of us.

“It was a deal I made with myself months before and the only thing that allowed me to hike alone.  I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed.  Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.  I decided I was safe.  I was strong.  I was brave.  Nothing could vanquish me.  Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked.  Every time I heard a sound of unknown origin or felt something horrible cohering in my imagination, I pushed it away.  I simply did not let myself become afraid.  Fear begets fear.  Power begets power.  I willed myself to beget power.  And it wasn’t long before I actually wasn’t afraid.”

Do you relate to this passage?  How about the stories you tell yourself?  Are they always accurate or do they help perpetuate fear and anxiety in your life?

Meredith and I would love to hear your thoughts!  Leave comments on one of our blog posts about this book and you will be entered to win a copy of Wild!!  This will only be available to people living in the continental U.S, 18 or older, who comment by 11/14/15 at 5am, ET.

And don’t forget to go see the movie out December 5th starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed!!


Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.

One of my most favorite actresses on one of my most favorite shows, Parks and Recreation, Amy Poehler’s new book looks absolutely amazing!  And I don’t know about you, but with the busy fall we’ve had, I could stand a few laughs!!

From the back cover:

In a perfect world . . .

We’d get to hang out with Amy Poehler, watching dumb movies, listening to music, and swapping tales about our coworkers and difficult childhoods. Because in a perfect world, we’d all be friends with Amy—someone who seems so fun, is full of interesting stories, tells great jokes, and offers plenty of advice and wisdom (the useful kind, not the annoying kind you didn’t ask for, anyway). Unfortunately, between her Golden Globe-winning role on Parks and Recreation, work as a producer and director, place as one of the most beloved SNL alumni and cofounder of the Upright Citizens’ Brigade, involvement with the website Smart Girls at the Party, frequent turns as acting double for Meryl Streep, and her other gig as the mom of two young sons, she’s not available for movie night.

Luckily we have the next best thing: Yes Please, Amy’s hilarious and candid book. A collection of stories, thoughts, ideas, lists, and haikus from the mind of one of our most beloved entertainers, Yes Please offers Amy’s thoughts on everything from her “too safe” childhood outside of Boston to her early days in New York City, her ideas about Hollywood and “the biz,” the demon that looks back at all of us in the mirror, and her joy at being told she has a “face for wigs.” Yes Please is chock-full of words and wisdom to live by.

Join us December 5th to discuss Amy’s new book!!  And don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of the book Wild!

Oct 312014

Daylight Savings Time has a bad rap--well earned, but there are some potential highlights.  Like the extra 60 minutes and all the crazy things you can do with the bonus time! Set those clocks back and enjoy!I understand that logically, it’s not really an extra hour.  When you factor in all the gradual shifting of daylight and the hour forward in the spring and blah blah blah, it really makes no difference. I don’t care.

I understand that with kids, it’s really the same difference. Despite the clock reading a different time, you still have children. They are still active–and whiny and need juice cups filled. I don’t care.

I spent 99% of my life scrambling for minutes. Clearly, my last week’s goal of letting go of the bondage of my to-do list is working out so well.

So when Father Time decides to throw me an extra hour, I’m going to squee like a school girl with glee.  This mama needs time. In bad way. Yes, I might have that time all clouded up with young kids needing attention, but it’s time all the same.

This weekend, while Halloween is definitely the shining star, I’m going to go ahead and celebrate another little highlight.  It’s called Daylight Saving Time: The Fall Version.

All logic-filled explanations shoved aside, when I’m offered a free hour, it’s sweet news.  I’ll instantly start plotting and planning exactly how it should best be spent. Of course, I will end up just grumpily attempting to sleep in while my children awake at the literal break of dawn and commence racing through the house, but this is so beside the point. I will fantasize about that hour and I will fantasize well.

I may not have much, but I have my imagination. And I’m clinging to it.

After crowd-sourcing on Facebook, it became apparent that the #1 thing all moms long to spend an extra hour doing is SLEEP. I totally get this. Covert sneaking the Ambien your way and with you, my friends.

Other moms sagely spoke of using the hour to plan more sneaky alone minutes. Smart! Love the way these ladies think.

Someone else misread crowd-sourcing as crowd-surfing, and suggested this might be fun diversion for us moms. Others agreed, and we now apparently have a night of Moms Gone Wild planned. Works for me.

So what would this Mom of the Year do with that sweet, sweet extra 60? (Assuming sleep as a given and the children were entranced with Frozen…)

Sometimes in life, you just have to take the bad selfies--psychotic hair included. Snap away and find your sanity!


1) Watch a TV show. I remember a fun little something called Revenge??

2) My nails. They look like hell. I try not to make them look this way. I’ve been unsuccessful.

3) Read a rag. I don’t care what anyone thinks; I’ll never give up my crush on Star magazine.

4) Organize my Christmas list.  HaHA! Oh wait, that was a joke.

5) Take more stupid selfies of my crazy morning hair. Because it never gets old.

6) Watch Wheel of Fortune. Yes, I like it. Shut up.

7) Plan how I can see all of the book-to-movies that are coming out at the end of 2014. Then pinch myself and wake up; under no earthly circumstance could this happen before the next millenial.

8) Clean the playroom. Or not.

9) Tackle the beasty-things my eyebrows have become. Because it would take the full hour.

10) My husband. Yeah, because despite the bee-stings, I still kind-of have a crush on him.

So what ever your plans are for your luxurious “extra hour”, friends, enjoy. I will be right there will you, celebrating each minute for what it’s worth!


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Oct 222014

Call it the cooler fall temps and the fewer sit-outdoors-and-do-nothing kind of nights, but I got busy with my books recently.  And I fell in love with them.

I read A LOT, no question, but the recent crop of books that have come my way have been so fun to cozy up with. Check out my favorites below, and then enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to win your very own copy of some of these books!

And remember, I always love people to read along with me on Goodreads and Pinterest (I have a specific board there for the books I’m crushing on!).


Curling up with these cozy good books is the perfect way to spend this fall! Go beef up your reading list!

People I Want to Punch in the Throat’s Competitive Crafters, Drop-Off Despots, and Other Suburban Scrouges by Jen Mann. In short, by reading this book of essays about motherhood in suburbia, I felt more normal and laughed harder than I had in ages.  Each time I picked it up, my world seemed less crazy and I fell more head over heels for Mann.

I Heart My Little A-Holes: A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting by Karen Alpert. There is a reason this book keeps hitting the New York Times bestseller list.  The accounting of a mom’s day-to-day is so real, it’s funny.  Alpert is so hysterical, you will cry.  It’s the kind of book I am gifting with abandon to all the new mothers I know–the perfect way to magically make the 3am feedings funny.

Mom of the Year by Denise Pischinger. Not a bad title, huh? ;) This book was so fun. The setting was too relatable, and it was a delight to see I read a lot @meredithspidel #booksthe worst of what “being an involved mom” can spiral into. I eagerly snuck in a few pages in the pick-up line or after kids were in bed, and found myself delighting in all the perfect chaos Pischinger offered. She’s got talent!

The Seduction of Miriam Cross (A Delilah Percy Powers Mystery) by W.A. Tyson. This book was truly a thriller! I had no idea how the mystery of Miriam Cross’ murder would resolve. Tyson kept the pages flying by, allowing the reader to escape into a wild, unfamiliar world.  Looking forward to reading more of her work ASAP!

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends edited by Jessica Smock and Stephanie Sprenger. Wow. This is something most of us have experienced, but so rarely discuss. The courage these gifted authors have in openly sharing their stories is an encouragement that helps bite away the sting that the hurt of losing a friend often leaves. I applaud their bravery and honesty!

Motherhood May Cause Drowsiness: Funny Stories by Sleepy Moms edited by Lisa Nolan. I have often wondered if I should see a doctor about the fact that I am perpetually exhausted. Then I read this book and remembered I’m a mom. I love the way these ladies made the reality of motherhood laugh-worthy while also clearly showing how deeply they love their kids. I also love that the next morning while I was falling asleep over my cup of coffee, I didn’t feel like a spaaz.  Thanks, ladies!

My Gentle Barn by Ellie Laks. I had never heard of The Gentle Barn before, but am now understanding what a tremendous movement Laks has started.  Through her endless compassion towards animals, the hope packed into every page of this book is inspiring.

The Realm of Possibility by Dan Dalmonte. I had the pleasure of meeting Dan in person and was delighted with his enthusiasm for the art of writing. His dedication to his work is so evident in the detail and creativity in this novel, the story of a man who meets a world wildly open with possibilities–and all the complications they bring. An incredibly captivating and engaging read.

Totlandia by Josie Brown. I love escaping with a good frothy fun novel, and the Totlandia series fits this bill so well! The world Brown created with The Pacific Heights Moms & Tots Club, and uber-exclusive children’s playgroup in San Francisco is indeed packed full of “Friendship. Lies. Seduction. Betrayal.” Too much fun and so full of the drama of motherhood!  I can’t wait to read all four of these soapy treats.

Georgetown Academy by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz. It’s fascinating how these two authors spin the intrigue of high school with high stakes political drama by sharing the stories of the students at Georgetown Academy, Washington D.C.’s most elite prep school.  These books were entirely entertaining and keep you eagerly reaching for the next. Unique and very cool look into a different world!

And don’t forget to follow along with our very own virtual book club!  Dig into Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed and get ready to discuss on 11/7/14! We are so excited about this book.

Enter below to win these books!

Fall Book Giveaway--win and cozy-up with some reading this fall! @meredithspidel

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Oct 202014

To-do lists are daunting! Actually getting stuff done is so hard! I finally figured out this one trick to not letting these lists loom scarily large over my day.I love my husband a lot.  He’s a good man.  He’s a smart man.  Some of the things he says makes me want to scream. Sometimes I do scream.

You see, he has this lovely gift of practicality and perspective. God decided to skip those traits in me.  I got ginormous thighs and a bent towards being ferociously emotional instead.

Often the things that I’m most passionately frustrated over my husband eradicates with a simple sentence. This is both a gift and highly annoying.

Most recently, I’ve had my panties in a bunch over my perceived lack of hours in the day. One particular evening, channeling my inner-Caillou, I broke into a rather heated whining rant, “There is just no way I can get everything done! I am slamming out every second of the day and still can’t keep up…I can’t keep doing this.”

My husband answered easily, “Then don’t.”

The screeching as my mind did an about-face was almost audible.  Whaaa?? “What in the world do you mean?”

“Stop. God didn’t design your life to be this way, tired and stressed all the time.  There are 24 hours in a day, and if you can’t get everything done you need to in that time, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Scary red flags of indignation started waving wildly.  How dare he? Who does he think will drop his children off at school and wash the excessive number of dishes he insists on dirtying? Would his boxer shorts start washing and folding themselves?

I huffed away. I was right, and he was wrong, of course. Certain of his cruel insensitivity to the magnitude of responsibility I shoulder each day, I thought loads of helpful thoughts, like “Typical man!” and “He will never get it!”

My thoughts weren’t wrong; he is a man, and no, he won’t get it–just as I will never fully get his work.  But, as it turns out, as I allowed my rage to chill (frantic slamming of pots and pans around the kitchen always helps), he wasn’t wrong either.

In fact, he was very right.  Right in the punch-me-in-the-gut kind of way.

Crap. Darn. Shoot. I loathe it when he’s right. I more loathe it when it’s time to revamp my way of thinking because I’ve been completely wrong.

When your husband is right @meredithspidel

For days, for months, for years even, I have been approaching each day as a beast to be tackled. Something that if I plan just a little bit more, a little bit harder, I can form it into something smoother. Maybe even easier?

Wrong. The truth is, this life is never going to quit. There will always be another task that needs to be done and another ask from someone seeking something. Whether it’s my children needing their bums wiped or the Home and School committee looking for Book Fair volunteers, it’s never going to end.

I will always have a to-do list.

It will always be long.

I won’t get it all crossed off.  As long as I’m living and engaging in life, I’ll never get it all crossed off.


So this is just the way life is.  And last I checked, there were no plans to add more hours to the day. And God is pretty darn wise; He knew what He was doing when He designed this whole ball game. 24 hours was and is the length of our day–the way it was meant to be.

Knowing that the circumstances of busyness nor daily time limitations won’t change, it appears there may be a distinct truth to my husband’s words. If the circumstances aren’t going to change, that means I have to change.

I don’t know how to make my days or my lists manageable, but I can handle waking up every day, and saying a silent prayer, “I don’t know how to do this. Let what is important get done. Help me not to panic about the rest–or at least send a sturdy paper bag my way to breathe in.”

And do you know what? When I do this, when I say this prayer, when I finally let go, the frenzy of the day dissipates.

No, my to-do list doesn’t magically shrink. There are no sweet miniature helper elves who come to my aid. Darn. But I am able to put one foot in front of the other.  And somehow the important things, the really important things manage to get done.

So that is my secret, my trick to finally, for once and for all, not allowing your to-do list to dominate your life. Let go of it. Allow a peace to prevail.

It’s a choice and you can do it–paper bag in hand if you need it ;)


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Oct 082014

Trying to squeeze in time for yoga, or any work-out or fitness routine, as a mom of young kids is so tricky. Here is how I made health a priority--and if I can make the leap, so can you!  Trust me!A couple months ago, I got it in my head that I wanted to do hot yoga.  I told my husband; he thought I was insane. I looked to my sister for support; her eyes just got very large and she carefully went silent. Huh. This was going to have to be one of those Meredith-is-crazy kind of situations.

Oh well.

Because I wasn’t abandoning my idea.  I’ve talked before about the neck and back pain I struggle with, and my desire to lose weight and firm up a bit.

And I did my research. I became convinced that yoga would help me, specifically that done in a heated studio.  When my muscles are warm, I get all wonderfully loosey-goosey, everything stretches out and things don’t hurt so much. After reading up, I was sure yoga would help me become leaner, tone my muscles, and most importantly, reduce my pain.

I found local Bikram Yoga studio (Bikram Yoga is a type of hot yoga, if you are unfamiliar) and contacted the owner of Bikram Yoga of Exton, Kristin Sapp, “Are you willing to put up with my ineptness? I have never done yoga in my life, and will probably fall on the floor–A LOT.”

Kristin, as it turns out, is lovely.  More than lovely, she is kind and encouraging, and welcomed me with open arms. She reassured me that beginners are always welcome in her studio and that no experience is necessary.

Okay, then.  It was time to roll with this!

I decided on the 5:30am session.  Because I am insane. Also, because, of course, otherwise squeezing exercise into a day with young kids can be a bit of a challenge…

I slept in my yoga outfit to cut one step out of my morning prep and also to increase likelihood I would actually scoot my butt out the door on time.  Yoga mat, towel and water bottle in hand, I headed off.

Having no clue what to expect, I was delighted to find that Kristin was as friendly in person as she had seemed, and I love that she patiently explained each step–from where to put my shoes to where to lay out my mat.

I was pretty sure the room would be filled with young moms who would judge me for my less-than-perfectionism.  I was wrong.  The other students were…normal people.  Albeit far more fit and less likely to repetively topple to the floor than me, they were men and women of all ages and stages. No one laughed or pointed fingers, and afterwards, I got loads of congrats for finishing my first class.  Aw, I know!

Yes, the studio was quite hot.

The poses and stretches? Hard. Very hard.

Mom leaving for yoga early in the morning @meredithspidelAfterwards, I didn’t feel awesome.  Kristin explained that it can take your body a while to adjust and start to benefit and feel great.

My muscles hurt the next day.

But…but…when I called my sister that night and she asked me how it went, I told her that even if for some reason I repeated the experience (I would and I did), I had just done one of the most boss things in my life.

I dragged myself out of bed at 4:45am, drove across town, walked into a class of people I had never met, stripped down to minimal clothing, and pushed my body through some of the hardest exercises I have ever done for 90 minutes in 104 degree heat.  And I didn’t die.

This is what was boss.

This is why I am proud of myself.

And this is why I went back. Because I can, and it will help me. It’s been a week now, and I can’t say what a delight it is to hold my neck up high and turn it without wincing in pain.  For me, this is nothing short of phenomenal.

This is the "After" shot of my first session.  It was going well...

This is the “After” shot of my first session. It was going well, obviously…

Loads of other weird things are happening too. I felt leg muscles in the shower this morning. I was pretty bouncy with energy a few mornings. And perhaps most unexpected, the other day I found myself actually listening to a song in the van–you know, actually listening to the song without going over the store list in the back of my mind.  They say yoga helps with mental clarity.  I just never imagined that it actually would.

I also never imagined that I’d actually get myself to a class in the first place, moreover enjoy it. But hey, as Kristin told me before I first met her, it’s all about keeping an open mind. Sometimes you might just surprise yourself.

Bikram Yoga of Exton @meredithspidel

Tremendous thanks to Bikram Yoga of Exton for providing me with class time and instruction so I can pursue this journey to wellness, and for being such a welcoming place to do it!  All of the staff have been incredible supportive and encouraging, and I am eager for continued change and growth.

Readers, I look forward to checking back in with you and updating you on my progress.  

Namaste and thanks for always allowing me to be a work in progress!

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Oct 032014

Love to read? So do we! Come join in the virtual discussion--no pressure, cool books, and pajamas welcome!Remember a month ago when Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy and I announced we were starting a book club? Yeah, I know–this sounds intimidating.

But fear not. All this means is that Carrie and I love to read. And we like each other and live really close.  So we decided to pick a book once a month to read together and chat about. Over margaritas, obviously.

But the book lovin’ doesn’t end with our escaping our families over baskets of corn chips.  We want to share this book club with you!

Each month we will announce our next book, invite you to read it with us, and then chat about it on the first Friday.  Please leave any questions or thoughts about the book below or on social media–we want to hear from you!

For our first meeting, we read The Memory Box by Eva Lesko Natiello, and as a very special treat, we got to FaceTime with her at our meeting to chat about the book!

Eva was a delight who patiently tolerated all of our endless questions about her writing process and the book itself. She didn’t even once roll her eyes or ask us to please shut up.  So, of course, we now have girl crushes on her.

As for the book…

The Memory Box book club with Eva Lesko NatielloThe Memory Box is a “gripping domestic thriller” about privileged suburbian motherhood gone wrong…very wrong.  Read the full description of the book here.

Carrie and I were both taken by how relatable some elements of Caroline’s life were…what parts of this motherhood world are craziest to you? Could you see yourself in any of the book’s characters?

Yet, we were blown away by the ending (agreeing that it was this twist that made the book unforgettable).  What do you think of Caroline’s choices? Do you ever shock yourself with the lengths you go to in pursuit of maintaining your chosen lifestyle?

We were baffled by how clueless her husband remained throughout the story.  But yet, how easy is it to keep secrets from a spouse?  How many couples do lead lives secret from their partners?

As for Eva herself…

Isnt she adorably approachable?

Isn’t she adorably approachable?

Eva awed and encouraged us as we learned that she wrote the entire book in the years of having young kids.  She talked about never leaving the house without a black and white composition book so she could take advantage of any spare moments to write.  Yes, she wrote her novel old-school, by hand.

Aside from her refusal to let the busyness of life prevent her from writing, Eva discussed the importance of believing in your own work, despite any rejection that you might meet along the way.  She spoke of how her writing gave her a purpose in the years she could have become lost after leaving the coorporate world and redefining herself.  I can’t say how inspiring this was for both Carrie and me.

It was also fun to hear that after Eva read Gone Girl, she was motivated to push the The Memory Box into publication (she had written it years before). Similar elements, specifically of the primary character being both the protagonist and antagonist are evident in both books, and it’s exciting to see this specific genre of thriller novels take flight.

Because Eva is cool…

She is going to send one of you a The Memory Box prize pack! Enter the Rafflecopter below for chances to win a beautiful keepsake box filled with “goodies” (I have heard rumors of Snowballs being included…!).  As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible to win.


And then, after you enter to win this gift from Eva and share your thoughts about The Memory Box with us, snatch up next month’s pick, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, and read along with us!

As the book is described on Strayed’s website, “At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.”

We can’t wait to chat up this book with you in November!  And yes, the movie with Reese Witherspoon is coming out in December (12/5/2014), so get a jump on this latest book-to-movie now!  Maybe even go crazy a plan a Girls Night Out with some friends to catch the movie when it hits theaters??

And always, always–happy reading, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sep 262014

Caring for your self with chiropractic adjustment and massage? Wonders for pain reduction and muscle relaxation!I have lived most of my adult life with pain.  Neck pain, back pain, headaches–all too familiar.  Yuck.  It hurts.

Yet I remain very wary of any medication that might tax the liver.  I’ve become invested in alternative pain-reduction methods.  Chiropractic care and massage?  Right up my alley.

When I saw the Groupon deal for Tri-County Chiropractic, I Googled it right up.  It got superb reviews.  It was close to our home.  Why not?  I decided to give it a go and snatched up the deal.

This deal-grabbing happened a year ago.  Since my first visit, I have fallen head over heals for Dr. Kennedy and her staff.  Dr. Kennedy and the rest of the Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton staff are committed to providing chiropractic solutions to address your unique needs, whether you are experiencing back pain, neck pain, headaches, or even muscular tightness and tension.

She’s so excellent at meeting you where you are and helping you attain improved wellness and health.  But it’s not only her extreme competence and skill with adjusting my spine, it’s the fact that she’s nice.

That she has young kids of her own, is so easy to chat with and gets it.

That the office looks so pretty and smells relaxing.

Tri County Chiropractic Treatment Room @DrKennedyTCC @meredithspidel

That her massage staff have tackled the knots in my neck with incredible expertise.

Tri County Chiropractic Massage Room @DrKennedyTCC @meredithspidel

That each chiropractic adjustment includes heat therapy, muscle stimulation (if needed), and a mini-massage to loosen things up.  Yes, this means I lie with my head face-down for 20 minutes and am forced to do nothing.  It totally sucks, I know.

But listen, don’t just take my word for it, read this testimonial (and read many more glowing reviews) on their website:

“Dr. Kennedy and her staff are the BEST. I can’t say enough good things about them. They treat you like family when you come in. They are attentive to your needs and I do not rush the adjustment process. Starting with the massage, heat, and electrical muscle stimulation…I feel like I am at a spa instead of a doctor’s office. I would highly recommend Tri-County Chiropractic in Exton. They will take amazing care of you.”
–Carrie G

I am incredibly impressed with Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton and am very grateful to have connected with them as a patient.  Check out all that they have to offer and follow along with Dr. Kennedy’s savvy on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.

And then…enter below to win a massage!  That’s right, a free 1/2 hour massage is up for grabs!  While I sit here and try to figure out ways to unethically win my own giveaway, throw your name in the hat and get ready for the most relaxing and healing 30 minutes of your life…yes, it’s that awesome, truly.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Go snag your own wellness and health, friends.  Pain doesn’t have to be a way of life.  There are wonderfully talented people like Dr. Kennedy who can help get you back in shape and feeling better.

*****Thank you to the staff of Tri-County Chiropractic of Exton for sponsoring this post and giveaway.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my very positive experience!****

Sep 042014

Baths with kids? Not always a shining success. Godspeed, pregnant gals--soak up the suds while you can. And then we'll meet back in the bath in 18 yrs.??I would be lying if I said this whole starting school business wasn’t slaying me.  After I finished supporting the Kleenex industry on the first day, I did figure on a general schedule upheaval.  I assumed my son would be more tired than usual.  I did not, however, count on how emotionally rocked we would all be by things like erroneous pencil grips, bus seating arrangements, and the tricky necessity of afternoon rest periods.

Nor did I figure that this would be one of the times in my life when I would entirely lose my capacity for reasonable thought.  It started on the eve of the First Day of School. I burned my hand trying to steam green beans, cried and vowed to never again serve veggies to my family.  This adorable inability to perform simple tasks continued throughout the week.  In short, I became stupid.

In this delightful state of mind, I found myself on my birthday morning, decidedly unbathed with yucky morning breath.  But I had gotten my son on the bus!  On time!

Feeling cocky from this intense victory, I became foolish.  What if I celebrated my day and tackled my grossness with a bath?!

I could do this, right??

Moms need to relax too! Not an easy thing, but we'll keep trying for it, right?  Someday those baths will happen!

I felt like I was running a covert op for the CIA.  I cued up Daniel Tiger, stashed up my daughter with Goldfish crackers and spoke in soft tones, lest I disturb the gods of potential baths.  I crept up the stairs, turned on the faucet, shut the door, and sank under the suds.

The door immediately slammed back open. My daughter walked in with That Face. She didn’t!  But in one sinking moment, I knew that she had.  She had pooped in her underwear.  Endless curses on this potty-training nonsense. Wear diapers until you are 25, for the love of God.

That situation, very wet and very nakedly, sorted out and I found myself back in the bath.  Albeit, a great deal grumpier.

Woe, the tragic injustice of electively having children and then having to care for them…

I relaxed back into the warm water, closed my eyes and worked to listen to the sweet silence of nothing.  I heard a small voice, “Mommy, can I watch you?”

My eyes flew open. “Um…sure?”

Does the lock on the bathroom door not work?  What insane person is running this house?

“I’ll help wash your hair.”


“Can I help with the razor?”

I madly searched for a paper bag in which to commence proper hyperventilation.

“I’ll draw pictures of the ocean for you!”

I especially enjoy the teal bathtub crayon, as it dyes everything a lovely aqua hue for at least a solid 24 hrs.

I love my kids. I do. A lot.

I also love baths.

Someday, perhaps, in the near 15 years, the suds and I will meet up again.

For now, it is certain that I must be locked in padded rooms whenever my children start Kindergarten vs. being allowed to make any decisions–at all.

The good news: I’ve got a “helper” who works a mean shampoo service.  And really, my skin is the most pretty shade of teal…


First image credit:, ID:8656983, copyright:CITAlliance

Second image credit:, ID:13961653,copyright:Goodluz

Aug 132014

Every mom needs a break. You really, really do...go score those 15 minutes of alone time--here's how to do it!I have gone on before, at length, about how much I crush on our deck.  It truly is a lovely place.  I often consider moving in out back.  Maybe I won’t dramatically dismantle and relocate our bed, but I could set up a nice cot or something.  Maybe get a sweet lava lamp and milk crate night stand to set the mood?

The thing is, I love the deck, but moreover, I crush on SOLITUDE.  I don’t think I actively started craving this bliss until it was gone.  I love my privacy, I love my peace.  I love being able to think a thought and hear it in my own head without Daniel Tiger jingling a catchy tune in the background (though, dang, I do love that little dude–he’s adorable, smart, and does a far better job of raising my children than I ever will).

You may remember when I fell in love with a personality test several months ago.  And then talked about it endlessly ad nauseum and refused to shut up about it.  Why was I so taken with this quiz?  It defined me.  It reinforced that my need to be alone wasn’t some bizarre quirk, but rather an inherent component of my being, that was, in fact, part of an established personality type.  Ahhh…

Sweet revelation, but not a whole lot of room to go anywhere with it.  I was and am still up to my ears in Pull-Ups, messy dog drool, and kids who still can’t unpeel the plastic from their own Lunchables (again, I am Mom of the Year here).  While my husband feeds on being around others and socializing (doesn’t Dr. J’s peppy friendliness just exude this??), I am an introvert.  And I like being an introvert.

I try not to be stupid, to recognize there is stuff about every age and stage that will trip me up.  I do talk to friends with older kids and know that things, so many things, will get trickier.  That said, I remain convinced that one of the pleasures of this particular phase of my kids is that I am never alone.  There are no silly things like naps or entire days of school.  Nor is there the decided joy of peeing alone.  We get to be together all the time!


So here I remain, fantastically longing to be near NO ONE, but in fact, solidly running show as a trio–from sun-up to sun-down.  That’s fine; I chose to have kids and I love them.  But…

One day, one singular unique day, I thought, “Why not?  Let’s let Daniel Tiger earn his keep.”  I cued up Netflix, plunked lollipops in their hands (again, Mom of the Year), and slipped out to the deck with my laptop.

I felt covert.

I felt sneaky and smart.

I felt awesome.  I was alone.  I did all sorts of sordid thing like checking my Facebook status and writing a new post.  It was fabulous.  It lasted approximately 19 minutes.

Not exactly enough time to write one’s life story, but oh well….we’re on our way, and isn’t the direction in life the only thing that really matters?

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