Thursday, April 12, 2018

The F Word

Ollie has said the F word. Frankly, since I curse like a sailor, I'm surprised it hasn't come up before. I don't curse around him, but I definitely slip up from time to time. I figure at 6 years and 11 months, that's a pretty sweet record. 

One night last week, Doug was getting a movie ready and I was in the kitchen cleaning up dishes. Ollie was in a fun mood and we were all looking forward to Spring Break starting the next day. He and Doug were joking around and all of a sudden we hear:

"What the fahhhhhhhhhhck?"

It was like in The Christmas Story, where everything is happening in slow motion and the kid doesn't realize he's saying it until it's halfway out of his mouth and all we he wants to do is push it back in but now there's nothing he can do about it.

I quietly laughed in the other room, composed myself and came out to the living room. I glanced at Doug who was so obviously holding in a laugh and we both said, "Ollie! What did you just say?"

Ollie: "Nothing! Nothing! I didn't say that!"
Me: "Yes, Ollie, you did say that. We both heard it."
Ollie: "No I didn't! I didn't say it!"
Doug: "We all know you said it, and that you know what the word is."

While Ollie was screaming, maintaining that he didn't say "it," all I could think was, actually, he hadn't said the real word. He had said "fock" instead of  "fuck", and either he was trying to get out of trouble by using the old vowel rule, or maybe he actually did think that "fock" was the right word.

TANGENT: Last summer, when I was going through books for our garage sale, Ollie found our copy of "Go the F*ck To Sleep," by Adam Mansbach. He read the title out loud to me, but because the "u" is strategically covered by a moon, he said, "Mama, what is Go The Fock To Sleep?" I told him it was his daddy's book and that I'd take it and that was the end of it.


Anyway, without consulting my husband, I told Ollie that it was a bad word, that we don't say that word and that he wasn't going to get the movie that he was looking forward to watching that night. After he left to go to his room (yelling the whole way), Doug told me that we could've thoughtfully acknowledged it, let him get it off his chest and then had a nice conversation about it, but I went the opposite way. So effing sue me.

Doug talked to him a little bit in his room and then asked me to come in. I went into Ollie's room and noticed that on his white board he had written a whole slew of negative things about himself, like "Ollie is bad." "Ollie doesn't belong in this family." "Ollie is stupid." and "Boo Ollie." (He's so EXTRA). I sat down with him and we went over why the F word is a bad word and if he knew any other bad words (when I asked if he knew what the S word was, he replied, "Stupid." - so I think we're not so far down the path to prison). Then we went over to his white board and talked about what he had written and why. We talked about how no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. Ollie and I went over and amended each one.

Me: "This one says, 'Ollie's dumb.' But you're not dumb just for saying a bad word, are you?"
Ollie: "No, I'm not."
Me: "Then what should it say?"
Ollie: "Ollie's smart!"
Me: "That's right! So erase that silly word, 'dumb,' and write in 'smart!'"

So now Ollie has a white board filled with affirmations in his room.

I cuddled Ollie in my lap and as we were winding down the conversation, I said, "Okay, Ollie. I'm going to give you one chance to say the word as loud and long as you want. But this means that this is the last time you're going to be able to say it. Do you understand me?"

"Yes, Mama."

"Okay. Go for it."


"Good. Do you feel better?"




"Yeah, Ollie?"

"Thanks for letting me say fuck."


Oh, fock.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Trouble with Having a Blog

I'm sitting here, two eves before my 38th birthday slurping Chianti that was given to me upon advice to "let it breathe for a half hour" before I drink it because apparently that will change the taste of red wine. I'm watching The Crown on Netflix because ohmygosh if there's a bigger anglophile I haven't met her, and thinking about what I've accomplished in my 37-almost 38-years. If you round up, which I've been doing, terrifyingly, for the last 3 years, I'm almost 40 and I don't have as much as I wanted to my name by this age. I hear John Mahoney (Jack Maloney?), the dad from Frazier who just died, didn't start acting until 35 or some such age, and you can do a lot of things past the point of 30 that you never thought you'd do, or rather, had dreams to do, but my dreams that I had in high school and college have not come to fruition. I'm eating a sleeve of Ritz crackers that I found in the outskirts of the pantry cabinet, sitting at the laptop staring up at pictures of old Ollie, old me and old Doug wondering, have I made it as much as I wanted? I'm almost 40. Have I done things that speak to my legacy?

I have made and grown a human being, Ollie, and have a loving 10 year marriage to a wonderful man. I am happy in my job, I have a loving, supportive tribe of family and friends. Despite this, however, I keep going back to, and this is GROSS, my senior year of high school "will." Brandywine, God bless them, has seniors write a "will" for their, I don't know, last? publication of the school year. Mine had something about how I would buy Brandywine a real track when I was famous. A) Not Famous. B) Could give less than an eff about any track. But it was all about having the money and being in the position to make a difference. Have I made a difference in anyone's life but my own? Have I made a difference in my own life?

When we turned 30, Doug had a conniption and I didn't really see the point. Doug got a tattoo and made us skydive (which I was more than willing to do). It was fun. When I turned 30, I asked to be bought dinner. When I turned 35, I started and didn't complete a little list of things I wanted to accomplish by my birthday. I remember that ice-skating on a real pond (other than in Bryant Park or at Rockefeller Center) was on the list. what else have I done?

I helped start a theatre group. It's gone now.
I was in a film at the Museum of Modern Art. No one knows about it.

All I can think of is that in the Bible - somewhere - it talks about the main goal in life being to have a normal, Christian life. I don't know where this is in the Bible, and I honestly may have dreamed about it because my dreams lately have been incredibly real. But I feel like there's something to be said about not wanting more than what you're given - being content with what you have.

I've always been someone who wanted more. You give me candy, I want more. You say I'm pretty good; I want to be the best. You say I have talent, I want to be famous. I am an okay mother, I'm an okay wife, I'm an okay dog-mom, I'm an okay aunt, I'm an okay Sunday School teacher, I'm an okay blog-writer (who needs to write a blog anyway?), I'm an okay worker/colleague, I'm an okay daughter/sister. I don't need to be anything but average. I don't, really. Average pays the bills. Average gets the job done.

And one gets paid in love and forgiveness and generosity and happiness when one embraces contentment. And I don't mean that in the way of settling. Embracing contentment means that you're okay with the crazy, you're okay with the unknown - you're just happy to be. It doesn't mean settling for what you have even though you wanted - expected and frankly, deserved - more.

People think that they're old dreams are the ones that will last a lifetime. For example, I expected for the longest time that I would become a famous actress. But then again, I would've had to work much harder, and I would've had to suffer some aspect of my life for that to happen, or would've had to move, or would've had to kowtow to people that I thought were asses, or would've had to change something about myself that I shouldn't. At least, that's what I tell myself. After I'm done talking to myself in the mirror like I'm talking to Leno/Kimmel/Fallon on the couch, I realize that I'm awful at public interviewing. And then I think, THAT's why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or when I remember how I'd be paralyzed in my own barf before a show - THAT's why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or how I'd be bored OUT OF MY GOURD and I COULDN"T WAIT for the show to come to an end in the middle of the acts - THAT'S why God didn't make me a famous actress. Or how I'd act like Mister Big Shot after a show and annoy everyone around me - THAT's why God didnt' make me a famous actress.

You know what they don't tell yoy when you grow up? They don't tell you the world's best kept secret: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE HELL THEY"RE DOING.

I'm drunk. Well, I mean, close to. But Ollie, if you're reading this, know that it doesn't matter what you've done when you reach a pivotal birthday. It doesn't matter if you're famous or rich. It doesn't matter how many publications you have to your name or whose mind you've changed. It's about who you've been.

I can tell you, I've been a bully AND a believer.
I've been an asshole AND an angel.
But I've been chosen. By God and by my tribe - and I've been loved.

It turns out that that's all you have to be at whatever age you reach. You have to be loved. And I don't mean loved by acquaintances, or loved by those who have to love you. I don't mean "put up with" or loved conditionally. If you are LOVED by your TRIBE - family, friends, whathaveyou, you have built a solid life.

So yeah, part of me wishes that I could've been famous. And there's always the chance of my 15 minutes of fame. But really, when I look around myself, I'm so proud of the relationships that I've made, cultivated, and kept. Because that's all that really matters. That's all the legacy you need.

If this doesn't make sense, it's because it's written in drunk text font.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

A Better Me

The day after Thanksgiving, we got a dog.

Roxy Lane Turk is a laborador retriever. Her mom was a full bred golden retriever who went red-lighting one day and came back knocked up. So Roxy's technically a black lab, but she's also technically not a black lab. Daddy donor was anonymous. She's marginalized, and we love her.

Here's the thing: having a puppy is akin to having a newborn. You don't know what you're doing, you're up all night, you smell like piss and slobber, and you're forgetful AF. You didn't believe what everyone told you about the early months but now you realize they were right, you have no idea what's going on in the news, scheduling your life is unimaginable, and not only are you not taking care of the rest of your family, you're not taking care of yourself.

Or maybe that's just me.

We're getting better, though. Roxy's puppy teeth are starting to fall out - PTL! - and she hasn't had an accident in the house since early January. Ollie's cooled it on the "you love the dog more than me" guilt trips and Doug and I were able to talk last night during a pre-scheduled meeting about a lot of stuff we had been neglecting. I still have no clue about the news and I can't remember my name, but I tend to like it that way lately.

I'm also taking better care of myself, which as we know, not only helps me by making me feel cleaner, more in control and better about my image, but also helps the family because Mama's not so  irrational and uptight. I tossed old clothes and shoes and I cleaned out the bathroom closet.  I used Ipsy for a few months last year - the online makeup distributor that sends you 5 trial items and a little makeup bag every month for a small fee - and I tossed all the things I didn't like - which was a lot. IT WAS LIBERATING.

Through that purge, I realized that a) I don't like to wash my face at night and b) because I only use a few items on my skin: face wash and lotion, concealer, blush, mascara and eyebrow pencil, I should really buy only the best. I went through magazines, online articles, and word of mouth and tried TONS of products. I didn't love them, and I didn't love washing everything off my face. Until I found...


Have you heard of them? They are a personal care product company with everything from kid shampoo and sunscreen to makeup, masks and men's body lotion. Their whole idea is to get safer products into everyone's hands through consultants (just like Stella & Dot, Thirty-One and ItWorks!) because the FDA hasn't regulated the ingredients in personal care products since 1938. You may have to go back and read that again. Everything that you buy at Target, Whole Foods, wherever, that says organic is not certifiably organic because anyone could put that label on their products - it's not regulated by the American government. Europe has removed 1400 toxins out of their personal products, and US has taken 30. Beautycounter, however, has taken 1500 toxins out of their products and put them on a "never" list where they promise they've never put them into products and they never will. These toxins have been linked to many different kinds of cancer, asthma and infertility. HELLO.

I am not a consultant and I don't plan to be. I'm not selling you Beautycounter - I promise. But I do think it's important for you - for everyone - to look at what you're using and make a decision for yourselves.

Check this out:

I'm not going to lie to you. When my friend, Jennifer, became a consultant for Beautycounter, I wished her luck but I really didn't think that her job would amount to much. I feel like all companies like this are a flash in the pan (one point for outdated cliche), and all consultant-led retail business fizzle out. Even Mary Kay bit it for a while there before making a teeny come-back. Is it back? I'm not sure.

Beautycounter started in 2013 and is getting more acclaim every day. They've partnered with Environmental Working Group (use this database to check out your current products' ingredients), Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, and Healthy Child Health World. They're certified by the American Sustainable Business Council, Benefit Corporation, Business-NGO Working Group,, and Safe Cosmetics Business Network. They've been featured on the Today Show, Glamour magazine, and have partnered with Target. Like, really, they're not messing around.

But the biggest point to make is that the products are GOOD. I'm in love with nearly all of them. And they ease you into their stuff - they have a Flawless in Five deal that's incredible - and I will be using these same containers for months. You know how you can get those little chin hairs that come out of nowhere and grow to 5 feet long before you notice them? No joke, I just realized this last week: using the charcoal mask and the face wash and moisturizer (I use the Nourishing line), has made it so that I can FEEL when one is coming in. And it turns out that I'm a hairy beast. But that's another post. The bottom line is that my skin is so smooth, soft, clean and HAPPY.

I really do look forward to washing my face now, because they have something called Cleansing Balm and it's REVOLUTIONIZED my nighttime routine. I don't like washing my face at night because I get water everywhere and not only does the water wake me up, but I also have to clean it up - waking me and angering me further. Here I am now, tired, with a wet pajama neck and sleeves and hair and I'm involved in this water war with my countertop. It's fierce. But with the Cleaning Balm, I put a little of the balm - it's like a wax - into my palm and rub it onto my face. I wet a washcloth and wipe it off. DONE. No mess. No stress.

FAQ Time:
Are the products more expensive than Walmart stuff? Yes.
Do the products cover as well as Cover Girl? Yes.
Do you have as many breakouts with this as with Cover Girl/Neutrogena/Maybelline/Almay, etc.? Nope. Not even close.
What about sensitive skin? What about eczema? Yup. You're good. I have dry, sensitive skin.
Have you tried Origins? Have you tried Rodan & Fields? Have you tried this one or that one or this department store one, or this unique one from Zimbabwe or that Mario Badescu one? 
YES. I have. And while all the items are great, this is the company I keep going back to because they are SAFE.

So do me a favor and check out Beautycounter. That's all. Check it out.
If you want to buy something and switch to safer, go to my social link. Where it says to select an upcoming social, click on my name. And hey, to entice you over to the bright side:

  • If you buy $50 worth of products through by February 16th, you get $10 off!
  • If you buy $100 worth of products through by February 16th, you get $20 off!
  • Anyone who buys using my link or this email by February 16th gets entered to win this No. 3 Balancing Spa Set (reg. $88!):
I really don't think you'll regret it! I know that I don't.

So when my life gets crazy - the dog refuses to get off the couch, my son is whining, or my husband is asking if I realized I didn't put soap in the dishwasher, at least I can get up, wash the dog slobber off my face and go to bed knowing that I'm treating myself to safer products.

And that makes me a better me!

Wouldn't it be nice if they sold wine?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Happy Birthday Elliott Shay!

Elliott Shay Paff, the big five year old
Stood at the top of the mountain and told
God about her plans for her future and He
Said, “My, what a lot of things you want to be!

“I hear you when you say that you’ll
Be an astronaut and own a swimming pool.
I understand that you want to open a zoo
And train leopards, tigers, and even newts.

“I can see you as a ballerina who dances on stage,
And a writer and illustrator who livens up the page.
Wait - you want to be a doctor and a violin instructor
At the same time as a philanthropist and subway conductor?

“The President of the United States AND
A lobbyist for science and research?
A singer, a CEO, architect AND
A French cheese connoisseur?

“Whoa, Elliott, let me sit down a minute.
I think you ought to, maybe, put a pin in it.
I appreciate the thought you’ve given this, lamb,
But I want to hear your life’s ambition; your plan.

“You see, I, who have given life to mankind,
Sounds to the deaf, and sight to the blind,
Think no one should have to stifle their dreams
Even if they’re not completely mainstream.

“So if there’s a fire in your belly and few complications
Become a teacher and a fighter in a fire station.
But be sure to do so with the purest of heart
And unto the world, do love and compassion impart.”

Elliott smiled and gazed up at God’s face
She said, “Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and grace.
Can you, perhaps, do me a little favor
And help me face the rest of the world a little braver?

“I will be a woman, Lord, like the women before me.
And I will roar, and the whole world will hear me.
But they will try to squash my hopes and my dreams
And I want to face them with tighter seams.

“This world is broken, God, it’s bent.
I try to find generosity and friendliness, but I’m spent.
Is there a golden ticket to happiness?
Can I easily find a way out of crappiness?

“I want to be strong and I want to be useful.
I want to live a touching life that is truthful.
I don’t want to live in shame or in pain.
I don’t want to seek low where I have to gain.

“I want what I’m promised, by our community and elders:
I want warmth, love, food and some shelter,
I want joy in my heart and peace in my soul,
I want to learn everything – my life to be whole.”

And God said, “Oh, Elliott, there’s no golden ticket.
No matter your religion, you still have to live it.
There will be crappiness here, it’s not Paradise.
Make your own Heaven here, that’s my advice.

“What you just said, you’ve got it right there,
Look for the grace, the joy, the care.
But you get out of life what you put into it,
So you'll give more of love, don’t only take of it.

“Darling Eli, pick any career, go and choose!
The world is your oyster, you have nothing to lose.
Just remember, you must be the change, be the good.
If you want to see change, make it where you should.

“That’s all I ask, it has always been:
Love me, love yourself, and love your friends.
We all get downhearted, but as long as you try
To focus on LOVE, always LOVE, you’ll survive.

“You’ll volunteer, vote, donate and give.
You’ll see of the world, how others live.
You’ll build people up with your actions and voice.
To people who hurt you, you won't give them the choice.

“My girl, to thine own self you’ll be brave and true.
You’ll do such good work, I’m already proud of you.
Just remember where your home is, was and always will be:
True north on your compass, where your spirit’s at peace.”

Elliott Shay smiled and nodded.
She lifted her face to the Light and thanked God.
Turning around, tucking her hair back from her face,
Elliott gingerly stepped down and her steps she retraced.

I love you, Eli. You'll do great things!