What’s YOUR specialty?

I’m not sure about you, but I tend to swim in the big gully of guilt on a daily basis in this life called mommy hood. Add to this the critisizing comparisons that we seem to find in social media and suddenly we have a war zone of helicopter vs free-ranger, with a side of made from scratch vs boxed lunches, followed by a stay-at-home/work-at-home/work-out-of-home all out brawl and you have yourself a community of moms who, instead of relishing one on others uniqueness, spend untold hours trying to make everyone else just like us so we won’t feel so guilty for not doing what they are doing.

Can’t we all just relish and cherish each other’s strength and specialty?

This, coming from a person who has spent YEARS trying to talk myself into a mold that I just, well, don’t fit. At least not in the ‘perfect molly mormon mom’ mold that as a teen I thought would be the end all to existence.legacy-sprague-lc-rappaport-type-stethoscope-adult-black-10-420-020-lr

Let me give you an example… and please pardon my over-use of the medical field – it’s what I know, and one that has helped me come to a light bulb moment about myself to help ease the guilt (at least a little bit!)

A tiny background on medical training. My hubby grew up wanting to be a doctor. He didn’t know much more than that – just he wanted to be a doctor, knowing vaguely (thanks to his MANY trips to the ER as a youth) that they work in the hospital and help people. Pretty noble ambition, right?

Little did he know before entering med school that the term ‘Doctor’ is so vague and general that it doesn’t even begin to describe the profession. These people spend two years studying general medicine, and then the next two years they spend “touring” (side note, hubby would HATE that description, because it was ANYTHING than a vacation – it was hard work!!) the different specialities out there. You see, when you get into medical training, the question is no longer, “so, you want to be a doctor?” it is now, “What is going to be your specialty?” After 4 years of medical school, they then go to a residency in which they spend anywhere from 3-10 (yes, TEN!) MORE years, studying their specialty. Sometimes they THEN do a fellowship where they get even more specialized.

Like all doctors, there are some specialties that my hubby loved when he did his rotation with them.  There were others where he couldn’t finish the rotation fast enough! At the end of the day, the hope is that the doctor has been able to not only be a doctor, but be able to specialize in his or her passion. When they hit that sweet spot, man, they are like a kid on Christmas going into work! It’s a beautiful thing. It’s even more beautiful when you have seen them go through training for a specialty that they just don’t like at all. The difference is night and day.

My hubby did an extended stint (called internship year – I won’t go into details explaining this mode – just to let you know that it was a year long) in internal medicine.

Internal medicine is extremely important to the overall field of medicine. Many people love this field and flourish in it. My hubby is not one of those. He came home so many days saying, “man, if I had to do this my whole career, I would die!” It was evident in his energy level and <lack of> excitement throughout that year that, though he was a doctor, this was definitely not an area that he enjoyed. However, it’s important to note that he didn’t just sit in the corner and sulk either. He didn’t say, “well, this isn’t what I like, so I’m just not going to do it!” He worked hard, he excelled, and he helped many many patients throughout that year.

His true niche, I daresay his calling in life, is truly with dermatology surgery (skin cancer guy). After days that he spends in surgery, I love to hear him recount his activities and see how giddy he gets describing the intricate cuts and flaps, and twists it took to rebuild someones nose (or ear, or even eyelid!) once he got all of the cancer cut out. He truly is in his mode when he is doing mohs (skin cancer surgery).

I am the first to admit that this specialty is not for everyone either. One of my good friends, upon learning about my hubby’s specialty said that her hubby really tried to like dermatology, but just hated it. He chose radiology instead and still loves it.

Here’s the kicker. Although my hubby has found his niche, he doesn’t go around saying how everyone should love dermatology, and how if anyone doesn’t love dermatology, then there is something wrong with them. In fact, if they dare love internal medicine, then they are just selfish, horrible doctors who really don’t care about patients at all. (can you see where i’m going with this??!)

Here’s the thing: they are all doctors. They all have different specialties. They don’t spend their time poo pooing other peoples chosen specialities. They simply work in their realm under the ‘doctor’ umbrella, and let other specialists work in other realms under the same ‘doctor’ umbrella as well. They don’t distinguish one specialized doctor as a ‘good’ doctor, nor another one as a ‘bad’ doctor. To put it in simple terms – they all play nicely in the sandbox.

Okay, are you still with me here?  I know that was a long worded set up – but let’s transfer this to motherhood.

First point:  let’s say that once my hubby had become a doctor, the only thing that he was given the option to do was be in internal medicine. And then he spent all his time either trying to make himself love this specialty when he clearly didn’t, and fighting within himself wondering why, although he loved being a ‘doctor’ … he didn’t really like being a ‘doctor’ (in the internal medicine sense).

On the same token – I lived my whole growing up years wanting nothing more than to be a mom. it’s all I talked about, planned for, and dreamed about. Now I am in the thick of it.  And though I love being a ‘mom,’ there are, quite frankly, some parts that I really don’t like about being a ‘mom.’ A lot of time in the past few years has been wasted by me trying to cover my guilt over this realization. I couldn’t understand why, when I had finally been able to fulfill my dream of being under the umbrella mom term, I could feel so completely unfulfilled at the same time.  Then I sit in church lessons, or hear other women talk about how much they love being a mom and my guilt got multiplied.

A year ago I finally came to one thought that started to set me free of my guilt: I realized that in admitting that I didn’t necessarily feel fulfilled in motherhood, that didn’t mean that I didn’t love my children any less. I had a light bulb moment of thinking that my Love for my children and being a mom to my children wasn’t synonymous with the love of motherhood. In fact, it was very freeing to think that I did all of the daily ‘mundane’ motherhood acts not because I loved the acts themselves, but because I loved my children and those mundane motherhood acts just may be in some way my ‘internal medicine’ training time. This helped me look at my life as a mother in this stage in very different eyes. Instead of beating myself up because I wasn’t finding pure joy and fulfillment in every single tiny moment, I relished the fact that I did these things because I loved my children dearly and want them to have the absolute best that I can give them.

You know the irony of this? When I freed myself up to look at my motherhood stage from this angle, I started enjoying so many more mother hood moments then I ever had before. I have started to actively look for the mothering moments that truly do take my breath away and make me want to push pause and keep my kids in this phase forever.

The other overall point from this (way too long) analogy is this: why do we as mothers, spend so much time comparing, contrasting, and criticizing (the great and dreadful triple C!) each other for each person’s chosen specialty? Can’t we just relish one mom’s specialty without taking away from our own interests? Why do we put such judgmental labels out there like those ‘selfish’ moms who want a career in addition to their kids, or those lazy moms who just let their kids roam around the backyard… alone *gasp*!

How about we look at this as a community, all working together under the same ‘mommy hood’ umbrella, while carving out our own specialty version of what fulfilling motherhood is to us? How about we even go so far as to really enjoy and admire other mother’s specialties, without feeling threatened that in so doing, we would somehow take away from our own motherhood strengths? Just think how freeing it would be to help each other on this journey instead of ‘ts, ts-ing’ one another’s shortfalls. I think it is possible, and I thing the prospect is beautiful!

So, whether you are an elf on the shelf superstar, or a tooth fairy failure, let’s let go of the triple C and come together to cheer one another on in this great mommyhood marathon, however we choose to run.


To the well meaning empty nesters who warn me to cherish EVERY moment…

I encounter you at the grocery store.  At the gym.  At the park.  On random sidewalks.  Typically places and times I am trying to calm a toddler temper tantrum while hanging on to a baby who is trying desperately to spread her wings and leave my arms, while I try to answer the 5 year olds nonstop questions, mixed with yelling at 8 yo to not run into the street.  You laughingly comment, “wow, you have your hands full!” … just when I was thinking I was running a little light because I only had 4 out of my 7 kiddos with me at the moment.  Then you give me the tender smile laced with the reminiscent look and say, “Cherish EVERY moment you have with them, they will be grown and gone before you know it!”

I truly do appreciate your concern. I smile at your wise counsel. I nod in that serious matter that lets you know that I really am listening and acknowledging your insightful words.

But secretly, right below the surface of my sweet smile, is a silent scream and a vigilant holding my hand back from punching you in the mouth. Or the nose. Or poking you in the eye. Anything to make you jog your memory. Your TRUE memory of what it’s like in the trenches surrounded by wee ones.

Don’t get me wrong. I know you mean well. I really do try to cherish the memorable moments of motherhood. But there are many… MANY moments that I would much MUCH rather leave on the editing floor of the ‘remember when’s’ of bygone years. Those memories that I have absolutely no doubt have long left your memory of once upon a time also living life in the trenches, surrounded by wee ones.


You see, when you solemnly declare that EVERY moment with them is ever so precious, (while you groom your ever-so-perfectly coifed hair and straighten your matching, ironed, dry-clean-only pant suit) you may not have taken into account that I (with my greasy bean smattered, ponytailed hair and stretched, stained yoga pants that haven’t been washed in i don’t know how long because they are the only pants that fit this no longer maternity needing, yet not able to breath in my regular pants IMG_9400body.  Not to mention the black eye I am sporting from being in the line of fire from 2 yo’s experiment with turning the remote into a projectile missile) am running on fumes. Fumes that have been born of a night laced with finally getting the colicky baby to sleep, only to be poked-in-the-eye-awake by the toddler needing yet another drink, which he only half drinks and then thinks it’s a fun time to begin the game of ‘spit out the rest on mom’… which I have to admit is a lot better than some other bodily substances that have been spit out at various hours of the night when whatever random child needed to throw up, but felt the deep desire not to b-line it for the toilet, but instead detour long enough to inform me of their activities, only to realize that they misjudged the time before their stomach contents would indeed need to be expunged from their mouth, and land on whatever body part of mine that happened to be exposed to the elements.

Fumes that have been exhausted by a way too early wake up call from a middle schooler, telling me that she forgot she needed  two bags of candy for some sort of object lesson in her speech in english and could I make a quick run to the store before car pool showed up… oh and could I also help her make cold lunch because she just checked the menu and lunch today was eeww.

Fumes that were mixed with the smell of a new york subway entrance as I realize one of the children didn’t quite hold it in through the night.  (but at least this time it was in their own bed and not on your back… another memory for the editing floor, right along with the times I have sat on the toilet myself, only to feel that eerily wet sensation on the the seat and realize it’s not water squishing the back of my legs.)

I am absolutely positive that when you think back to the memories of your own young family days, you are looking at the edited version.  A version that has, through the years, undergone a rigorous cut and paste process, until you have successfully remembered the tender moments (and believe me, there are many tender moments.  Moments that my heart seems to burst with love for my children and I really do wish I could hit the pause button and relish this moment in time forever!), and have forgotten the, well, not so great times (or at least can now look back on those with the humor that time and distance provide).

Please, please before you tell me that EVERY moment is precious, think back.  Way back.  Into the catacombs of the hate days.  You remember.  Those days where you watched your husband leaving the house, all pressed and clean and ready to spend the day having adult conversations, knowing full well that he would return in the same clean outfit unmarred by mashed bananas and spit-out-squash and you wanted to grab onto his pant legs along with the kiddos, kicking and screaming for him to not leave you alone.  That just for this one day, could you do your own version of ‘freaky friday’ and get to go have just a taste of the adult-only world??! (you would trade back right after… promise!)

Please reach down to the days when your newborn cried to eat and you started crying also, because you were not yet accustomed to nursing, and each and every suck sent shockwaves of pain throughout your body and it took every ounce of nurturing instinct to not shove that little pain-inflicting bundle of joy away from you.  Reach back and remember when dawn brought the dread of knowing that though you just got to sleep 45 minutes before, you had a whole gackle of littles who got great sleep and have already started placing their orders for the morning meal, followed by the long list of games they just can’t wait to play with you.  Those times when you decided that popcorn made a perfectly acceptable breakfast option, because the thought of loading the car, then the cart with all of the littles in order to replenish the milk supply that got depleted yesterday when the toddler decided to test the laws of gravity by pouring out the almost-full gallon, was just too much for you to bear.

In telling me to cherish every moment, you are heaping a load of guilt onto my already guilt-ridden soul.  I already feel guilty for moments when I daydream about having just a few, precious seconds (okay, hours) of sensational silent alone time.  I feel guilty about letting them watch yet another episode of super Y on the tablet just so I can clean the kitchen in peace.  Guilty for being a helicopter parent, followed by the guilt of just shoving them outside to play so I can let the walls muffle their sounds and I can pretend, just for a little bit, that I am once again in the care-free days of college, where my main decision was whether to study for the test or invite the apartment of cute guys over for dinner. Guilt for doing too much, or too little.  For being overly cautious, then not cautious enough.  Guilt for willing the clock on the wall to have some sort of hyper-speed motion, followed by guilt for wanting them to stay just this size forever so I never have to say goodbye and send them off into the big, bad world.

Yes, I have guilt.  guilt enough to fill the titanic.  And you telling me that every second with them is worthy of my cherishing and holding onto does not help.

In the moments of the trenches.  Deep down in the dug out, when I am trying so desperately to simultaneously shield my darlings from the whiles of the world, and fight the urge to run out on my own into the big bad world, I remember back to a time of receiving wise council from a mission mentor and dear friend.

In my younger years – before the momentous mommy hood times, I lived as a missionary in a foreign country.  Up to that point in life, I had heard people speak of such missions in terms of “It was the best time of my life!”  “I loved every minute of it!”

What I found when I was in the trenches of the mission life was quite different then those rosy tails, and I struggled.  It was HARD.  It was sweaty, and frustrating, and tiring, and many more emotions all rolled into one.  As we were walking down yet another dusty road, getting doors slammed in our faces, my dear mentor made a comment that has since resonated with me on many levels.  She said, “The bad moments will out number the good ones.  But the good ones far outweigh the bad.  When all is said and done, those are the ones that will remain.”
Oh how prophetic was that statement, both as a missionary, and now as a mommy.  When I am in the gulf of dirty diapers and hungry bellies with the phone ringing, the dog barking, and the baby screaming, instead of ‘cherishing the moment,’ I simply say to myself, “this is a lightweight memory.  It will fade with time and giveaway to a weightier moment, worthy of cherishing.” This thought is what gets me through the gulf.  Not the thought of, ‘why am I not in love with this very second of motherhood??  Don’t I know that time will pass very quickly??’  If that were the case, then why has it taken 3 hours for the second hand to make one revolution around the clock??!

You see, I have to give myself a bye at times.  A time out from cherishing.  A reminder that I will be able to look back on these moment with the filter that sifts the never ending afternoon hours and clings onto the snuggling infant, or the beaming preschooler, or the just-learned-to-share toddler.  Those are the weighted moments.  Those are the cherishable moments.  It’s okay to let some go.  It’s okay to not try to snatch up every second.

It’s okay to use your own personal sieve and let some things fall through the memory cracks… like the gum smooched into the carpet – that’s probably an ‘editing moment’  The time the whaling baby gets handed to you and she instantly calms down, and IMG_9846you have a little light bulb moment of realizing that you are her person.  That to her, you are the world.   That feeling of awestruck that you feel?  That’s a keeper.  You lock it up and keep it safe because you will need it soon (like for the later time she wants you to drop her off a block away so she won’t be ‘seen’ with her mother!).  Or the moment that you all have a spontaneous dance party… even your uber self-conscious tween boy joining in the shaking and shimmying?  Definitely a keeper.  The time when the son drops and beaks the way-too-expensive cello, and then simply shrugs it off as if you can just skip out the back and harvest the money tree to fix it and you have to count to 10… about 10 times to keep from slapping that smug smile off his face?  That’s one you can let sail through the sieve.



You get the picture.  Motherhood.  There are many moments.  some are keepers,

some are… well.. not.


How about we change that all-too-often dished out advice?  Just a slight shift?  How about we tell each other, “grab the great, and let the rest go.”  (or better yet, grab the great, and for the rest, grab a camera!)  Let’s fIMG_8976ace it, there are forgettable moments in motherhood.  It’s okay to just make it through those. Then, when the really heavy moments come, we have open brain power to grasp it, package it, and truly cherish it forever.


Mom down! Mom Down!

Warning: do NOT try this at home (get sick, that is)… this mom is a not-so-professional-in-training. Read on and learn from her mistakes before making them yourself!

Wow, what a difference one letter makes. In the regular world, the phrase “MAN DOWN!” is enough to stop all activity for miles around, and inspire everyone around to drop everything and come running with the ever-common question on their lips, “How can I help??”


Change one teeny, tiny letter… and about the only question that is spewed forth from the ‘oh you’re sick? That’s too bad’ crew members of the household is, “So mom, what’s for dinner?”






Add this to the fact that the past two weeks have been certifiably insane around said household, as schedules, science projects, germs, and hubby having more late nights then usual have aligned to put the entire hub of activity into overhaul as this mom has been running to and fro, picking up, dropping off, wiping noses, dosing medicine, dolling eye drops, and oh yea… trying to keep her kids engaged in the whole ‘kids in the kitchen’ movement.

((notice how i slipped the science fair pics in here??  I have to prove somehow that there HAS been some sort of productivity before today!))

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Before you harbor any sort of jealously as to how the kids cooking program survived, let me go ahead and burst that bubble right now. That was the first thing to go.  In fact, in the past 2 weeks, I have pulled every single ‘get-it-on-the-table-quick!’ trick.  Cereal for dinner?  Yup – so much that it is now all gone (oh, did I mention that grocery shopping beyond the ultra essentials from the gas station milk and bread dept was the second thing to fall by the way side??).  Pancakes from the ready mix?  Did that.  Egg sandwiches?  twice.  pb&j… more fill in times than I can count.  We even did a macho nacho night!  (If you name it something super cool, then somehow it transforms into more than just slapping cheese on chips, right??!).

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My point is, that the idea bag is out.  The only saving grace is that we happen to live with superman dad, who cooked up an entire mongo batch of gnocchi on Sunday, and we have been slurping from it’s left overs ever since.

Back to the mom down… let me just come clean and say that there are those moms who completely coddle under-the-weather children and say such phrases as “oh, baby, I so wish it could be me instead of you!”  not this mama.  Nope.  Of course I’ll do the snuggles, and the care-giving… but truth be told, the main thing through my mind is “wow, I’m so glad I am the care-giver and not the care-receiver.”  You see, when kids are down, it means that I suddenly have an excuse to not leave the house, and the torrents of clutter that have built up can finally be tackled.

Which is exactly what happened earlier this week.  Toddler took a nap (cue heavenly angels!!) and I tackled not one, not two, but FOUR rooms of outer darkness!  It was epic, I tell you what.

And then the aches set in.

I have absolutely no doubt that there is a karma god circling our house at all times, and the minute I am less then empathetic towards any given child’s plight to try to get a day off school, stating what I would frame pretty ‘weak’ symptoms… I give them a hug pat their head, and send them off to school (with the promise that they can call if they really go down hill).  I can now almost guarantee that if said experience ensues at our house, I will wake up the next morning with the exact same “weak” symptoms (even down to the ‘I get a little dizzy when I walk.’) one.

Karma Gods.  Lesson learned.

I, mom down, swear that I will henceforth and forever believe said symptoms in children and not only keep them home, but will coddle, coo, and spoon feed them ice cream.  Please, please, just take this curse of the ‘weak’ symptoms away!

Through the night last night, I knew I was slipping.  I was slipping quickly.  When I looked over to the latest child to succom to the germ fest, my first question was – “wanna stay home?”

His look of utter shock that I would actually give in without the typical grilling of the issues quickly gave way to his brilliant brain, and he took me up on that offer post stat.

As do began the day of mom down.

Or rather “mom slipping.”

“mom fading”

“Mom’s going fast!”

Now, before you get all up in the air saying that people are, indeed waiting right in the wings, ready to rush onto the stage and help out (as what happened with my teaching partner from the gym)…

… nor is this in ANY way meant to be a bash on men, dad’s, boyfriends.  There are some rock-star men who power through when they are sick.  I am not saying they are any weaker than their female counter parts (I let the other plethora of posts on said subject poke that hive of hornets!!)

I’m simply putting forth that there is a definite conundrum of ‘mom down.’

Most of the circle of moms consist in – shocker – other moms.

Other moms who truly will bend over backwards to help out a fellow mama in avery which way.

… except the way that would entail bringing a new and vicious set of germs home to her own brood.  The only thing worse than one mom down, is another mom down from trying to help the first!

There is an unspoken code of motherhood help, and it goes like this, “I pledge that I will not ask you to watch my snot-spewing, eye swelling child, which I fully recognize would be akin to handing you a spray bottle inoculated with every nasty germ under the sun and then ask you to please spray it on every surface of you home.”

So, when mom goes down amongst the troops, there is nothing to do, but grab the blankets, hunker down for the long haul.

… and as you hunker down, you realize that this was probably not the best idea.  Apparently your lack of movement created a smooth dance floor upon which the invading germs could shimmy, shake, and … ahem… replicate.  What you thought was just a soar throat and congestion quickly turns into body aches, fever, and chills.

You may try everything to beat the chills.  You look at the fire place.  You schlep over and camp out in front… only to realize that the campfire rule hangs true – you end up frying on one side, while turning pop cycle-like on the other side.  You try to cover yourself with blankets.  Nothing.

Then you realize that in the hospital you get freshly WARMED blankets… so you do the next best thing – you start the dryer with the clothes that have been in there for waaaay too long, hoping to warm them up enough to get the chill out.

Sweet – you can get warm, and actually be a little productive at the same time as you picture yourself folding toasty warm clothes.

Incidentally, there is a reason why this technique is not listed on the ‘life hacks’ website.  Not only does the warmth go away, but when it does, you are faced with and even colder cover.  Plus you’re covered in still-unfolded laundry.








And you almost jump up with your spidey reflexes as you see your toddler running full speed for your finally calm baby… spewing forth his snot font every which way as he sprints.

Except that you sadly realize that your spidey senses have now been overrun with the ‘prolific germinating germs’ and you are instead forced to squeak out a feeble, “come and see mama!”

To which he surprisingly accesses, turns mid squirt, and runs, runny nose first right into your cold, unfolded, now re-dirtied laundry.  Which was okay, because right before this incident, you were faced with the realization that your detergent may not be all that its cracked up to be as the cooling effect also brought the vivid ‘musk of urine’ to the forefront.

So you throw your ‘I’m going to be a good mom and only let the sick ones watch one movie, after which they will happily read for the rest of the day until my calvary (read, middle school babysitters) make it home’ plan to the wind and shout out, “hey, who wants to watch ANOTHER movie??”

Well, your kids have never been slow on the uptake, so they grab the remote and are suddenly engrossed in the next netflix flick, to which you stroke your guilt mode with the thought, “Hey, it’s a cartoon about animals… I’ll call that educational input!”

And you let the laundry slide (literally!) as you think you have just earned yourself at least a 22 minute nap.

At which exact time you hear the ‘lunch time!’ cry of the baby-who-could-care-less-what-is-wrong-with-her-food-supply-mom.

Maybe I should go all Yentle like, cover myself with boys clothes, and change that one tiny letter???

Why I love 50 shades

shades of gray

I am not one to get tangled in the current social media buzz.  I usually tend to sit back and let it pass.  Because it always passes.  Today’s “hot topics” inevitably become tomorrows past news.  And on we march, to embrace the next trending story.

This is how I have viewed all of the hub-bub surrounding the book 50 Shades of Grey (or as I like to call it… gray).  As something that would just pass by and go away.  But then they made it into a movie.  Seriously.  A movie that highlights the go-directly-to-black-do-not-pass-anything-resembling-any-shades-of-gray portrayal of sex.

Let me back up a bit.  I have not read the book (unless you count that a talk show I happened to turn to read the first paragraph out loud, which made my toes curl and sent shivers down my spine.  No, not the good kind of shivers.  The “I don’t want to have anything to do with this, and I think I’ll be turning the channel now, thank you very much” shivers).  I do not intend to see the movie.  I have allowed others their own choices in life regarding such matters, so I have never put my opinion out there.

Until now.

With the impending release of the movie, it seems like the social media had been lit on fire with seemingly everyone calling for a ban/boycott/renunciation of the movie, the book, and on pornography in general.

And I agree.  Wholeheartedly.

At first, when I saw the articles and blog posts, I thought of the old adage, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” and worried that though people were shouting about the wrongfulness of the book and movie, the mere fact that they were shouting about it was indeed helping to publicize it.

And then it hit me.  In a society that has been creeping and crawling down the slippery slope of what-is-immoral-vs-what-is-art-vs-what-is-‘innocent’-fun-vs-what-is-just-a-little-bit-of-bad line of books, articles, and media, it has seemed to be easier and easier to simply ‘look away’ during the ‘bad parts’ and give a report that “oh, it’s a good book/movie/article… just this one tiny indecent part… but the work on a whole is good.”  In fact, to call out the immoral parts of any work have instead resulted in the whistle blower to come across as a ‘prude’ or ‘out of touch’ with the hip and the new age of ‘maturity.’

Enter 50 shades.  In just one work of literature, the author took us not one shade deeper into the amoral abyss, but she took us leaps and bounds across many shades – 50 to be exact – to enter deep in the black zone.  We can no longer just shift uncomfortably in our seats and pretend to be hip.  We have to admit that someone has finally gone too far.  That perhaps we have all gone a few steps too far and she has just brought our own slippery slope to the forefront of our conscience, and is forcing us to realize that given a few more years of swimming in the heat, we, too, just may be duped into the ‘storyline’ that she tried to slip in-between the sexual exploits of the book.

A line has been drawn.  And it’s time for us to stand up for good old fashioned virtue.

Yet, it’s even more than that.  It’s time for us to turn the line into the starting point for a new platform.  A platform of morals, decency, and courage to stand up for the good in the world, and to truly stand up against the corrupt.  To teach our children that we refuse to slide even one shade deeper into the gray, the black, or whatever other gradation that popular culture sees fit to thrust in front of our faces.

As I have been reading the opposition to the movie, the book, and the blatant pornography that is becoming increasingly streamlined and passed off to the masses as ‘modern thinking,’ I have cheered to see that I am not alone in my sentiments that we have somehow gone too far, and that it’s time to reclaim the good in the world.  It’s time to request – no, Demand more.  More from ourselves, and certainly more from the media.  It’s time to recant the phrase “sex sells” and replace it with the long forgotten attribute of TALENT.  It’s time to put our attention and support on things that truly enrich and uplift, not degrade and embarrass (seriously, if the stars of the movie – who got PAID to act in it- can’t even seem to find one good thing to say about it, why would any of us PAY money to patronize it??!)

For this reason, I am truly grateful for 50 shades.  For helping us to stop, back up, and finally find our footing in the slippery world.  For helping these conversations to come to the forefront.  For helping us get a glimpse into the direction that our media and society have been heading for quite some time, albeit at a much slower pace.

Thank you for being so over-the-top that you have zapped us out of our zombie like march into the apocalyptic abyss of the hyper-sexualization of society.

And most of all, thank you, 50 shades, for helping me climb out of my quiet, conservative bubble and join in the media blitz that has come out AGAINST your attempt at throttling us into the throws of blatant pornography.  I will not be attending your premier, but I truly thank you for helping me stand up and stand out in this fight to call for something better, something cleaner, and something much more worthy of my praise.

Ratatouille… it’s more than just a movie!

warning:  when starting your own venture of kids cooking in the kitchen… it might be a good idea to time it when they are on a movie kick of something other than the famous “Ratatouille”

If not, when it comes time for your 7 yo to make his menu decision,

His eyes might get super duper wide,

Light up like a christmas tree,

and may even send sparks that turn on the light bulb that just appeared above his head

as he shouts (yes, SHOUTS!)  RATATOUILLE!  that’s what I want to make, mom, RATATOUILLE!!

… and for about half a second you will second guess your whole venture into this kids in the kitchen program of yours and offer to send out for McDonalds on his night, just to back down.

But you don’t.  Because you are the mother and you are instilling so much more than meals with this little venture, and you know you can’t stop now.

So you get onto the internet (because, let’s be honest, the only version of ratatouille that you have seen was, indeed cooked by a  cartoon rat on the disney movie).

You see that it’s a summer dish, so you try the logical approach…

“hey honey, how about we try this in the summer when we have all of the yummy vegetables from the garden to cook it?”

“No!  I want to make it this week.”

“but honey, all of the directions say that it doesn’t taste as good in the winter – it uses a lot of vegetables from the garden, so it would be hard to find ones right now that taste very good.”

“But I really want to make it this week.  pleeeeeeeeeease????”

Put that together with his puppy dog eyes, that you know that he knows that you are a sucker for,

and you suddenly find yourself making a shopping list for ‘ratatouille’

which has eggplant.

yes, eggplant.








lots and lots of eggplant…

(which, though you have taught about the many health benefits found in this odd-looking vegetable, truth be told, you have never actually used it in your own kitchen.  And even more truth be told, it scares you to do it now).

… and chopping










lots and lots of chopping









which, I learned is a benefit of having a menu ahead of time.  When you know there will be lots of pre-prep, you can do it ahead of time (i.e. on Sunday afternoon, we did all the chopping, so come Monday – our crazy day – all we had to do was throw everything in the pot!)








wouldn’t you know it, we all loved the ratatouille!








… of course in an effort of self-disclosure, we did change up the recipe a bit (as we almost always do when cooking!). Some of the eggplant was bad, so to help us save time, I substituted potatoes for half of the eggplant called for.  Of course I had to throw in some of my Idaho roots!  I may be a bit biased, but I think it worked out even better than having the whole eggplant portion (or maybe I’m still a little bit scared of said eggplant???).

Just in case you are dying to try this great *summer* dish:

(adapted from food network and norecipes.com):

1/4-1/3 cup olive oil

1 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (1-2 onions)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups egg plant (we did 1 1/2 cup potato and 1 cup egg plant) chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

1 cup diced green bell peppers

1 cup diced red bell peppers

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup diced yellow squash (we couldn’t find this, so we just did 1 cups zucchini)

1 1/2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes

15 oz diced tomatoes in can, undrained

1 tbsp fresh basil leaves, sliced

1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper as needed

sauté onions and garlic in the oil until slightly caramelized. Add eggplant (or potatoes) and thyme until slightly cooked (about 5 min if only using eggplant… about 10 if using potatoes).  Add all peppers, zucchini and squash.  Cook another 5 min.  Add tomatoes, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.  If using potatoes, need to boil for a while until potatoes are soft.  If just using eggplant, just need to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Can serve warm or cold.  We liked it warm, served with french bread.  Yummy!!

(my other son even asked to take it for school lunch a couple of days later – true sign of success!!)