Dear Kids

This post is for the Writers Workshop at Mama Kat’s Losin It.The prompt I chose was #3: A letter to your future teen.

Dear Kids,
I sincerely hope that you are enjoying your teenage years. I wanted to write you a quick little list of tips for surviving this time. Hopefully my advice is still relevant in 2022. For all I know, we are living in a space ship, eating freeze dried foods and taking turns roaming the neighborhood in our jet packs. I’m sure things will be very different. Let’s just hope we made it through the apocalypse of 2012. I mean, we should. We made it through the over-hyped Snowpocalypse 2011 just this past week.
Since I spend my days teaching high school kids, I thought I’d write you a little survival guide.
  • When it comes to school dances, I have a lot of great stuff I can teach you. I can show you the running man, the roger rabbit and all sorts of great steps. I was a huge hit in 1989. I’m sure the moves will still be killer in 2022.
  • Get involved. Try different sports. Join different clubs. This is a time in your life when you have a lot of different options to explore to find your interests. Take advantage.
  • When you are out driving, keep your seat in its upright position. When people say backseat driver, they don’t literally mean you should like look you’re driving from the backseat. Sit up straight. Rearview mirrors checked. Hands at 10 & 2 on the wheel. Be careful.
  • Speaking of driving, don’t freak out if you don’t get a car on your 16th birthday. Unless you are a lucky audience member on Oprah and she screams “You get a car, and you get a car”, then you’re probably still going to be taking the bus to school. (Oprah – very popular TV show back when you were really young. Google it. Or do whatever you do to find information.)
  • Puh-lease behave in class. I have to imagine there is nothing worse than a teacher getting a poor report from a fellow teacher about their son/daughter. I liken it to a Dentist’s kid getting a cavity. Just shouldn’t happen.
  • Pay attention in school. I can’t tell you how many classes I spent more time passing notes (that’s what we did before cell phones) than paying attention to what the teacher had to say. Soak in the knowledge. You can text or tweet your friend later.
  • For the love of Isaac Mizrahi, keep your pants up around your waist. They invented belts for a reason. Use one. And while we’re on the subject of pants, always check your zipper when you are leaving the bathroom. If somebody asks you if you’re afraid of heights, head back to the bathroom and zip up.
  • Last but not least, high school can be downright brutal. If you’re not in the cool kids clique, trust me, down the road you’ll be fine. Keep your chin up. Their popularity runs out the moment they step out of that building upon graduation.

I love you both,


Diet Coke. A Love Story.

My dear beloved Diet Coke,I can’t quit you. I know I should. You’re not good for me. But, you are just so yummy and addicting. I can’t bear to let you go.We found each other 16 years ago – a whirlwind college romance. It was one of those soul mate moments you only read about in books.You’ve always been there for me when I needed you most. For that 8am class, you were my caffeine kick. At dinner, you were always the perfect accessory. On a Friday night, you and the Captain always seem to get along perfectly in my glass.I will miss holding your little cylinder of thirst quenching deliciousness in my hands.  I will miss driving through McDonald’s to pick you up – ice cold from the soda fountain. And McDonald’s straws? Perfection. We’ve had several make-out sessions once you’re in the car. Let’s not tell anyone.In a restaurant, I always hated the words “Is Diet Pepsi OK?” A little part of me would die because I would know you weren’t there. I felt like I was unfaithful.I’ll come back to you on special occasions. I’ll sneak sips. I’ll lie to others when they smell you on my breath. But for now, we just can’t continue on the way we have been.I will miss you. I will love you. Forever and ever.ElenaFounder, Diet Coke Anonymousp.s Don’t tell anyone about our late night rendezvous last night in the kitchen. Let’s keep that on the down low.

Happy Easter!

On Sunday, I typically share a recipe on my blog. However, since today is Easter, I thought I’d post my recipe later in the week.Besides, I’ll be busy today stealing kindly asking for as many Reese’s peanut butter cups as the boys are willing to give me out of their baskets. That Easter Bunny sure knows what mommy likes. Glad he has been paying such close attention.

Happy Easter to all of you!


I have a fun announcement today! Jessica (My Time as Mom) came up with a great idea to start a vlog linkup. She asked Kate (Mommy Monologues) and I to join her in co-hosting VlogTalk.I did a quick vlog myself, after several takes, to explain a little bit about the meme. You’ll also find some information below. Hope to see you all next Tuesday

What? VlogTalk.

When? Link-up will be on Tuesdays (posts at our blogs will be up by Monday night 11pm EST). Link will be open all week in case you participate in something else on that day.

Why? To break out of our comfort zone, start getting to know each other even better and learn some tricks to adding in a video element to our blogs.

Prompt? Your first prompt is to introduce yourself! What is your blog about, how long have you been doing it, have you ever vlogged before, if so – how has your experience been with vlogging, etc. After this first week, we will give you a few prompts to choose from.

But wait, there’s more: We’re also going to have a weekly Twitter chat using the hashtag #vlogtalk starting next Tuesday (May 10th) at 9pm EST. Come join us!

A few rules:

  • You must have a vlog in your post to link up.
  • Link up directly to your vlog post.
  • Maximum time limit is 4 minutes for the vlog.
  • We will each have a button on our site for the meme so make sure you add that to your vlog post.
Can’t wait to see you all next week!

An Empty Room

It took all the courage I could muster to get up on that exam table. I lifted myself and sat near the edge of the table, with Charlie right at my side. My lap was draped with what doctor’s offices somehow consider to be a comfortable, covering material.

My hands were clutching the white paper that lay underneath of me.The nurse took my blood pressure and then listened to my lungs. Letting deep breaths in and out for her was the first time I actually concentrated on something other than this situation all morning. It was a bit of a strange relief.

My doctor walked in and asked me to lay down. As she began the exam, I turned my head toward the window. The blinds were barely cracked, but I found a small hole that let me peek outside. I watched the rain pour down on the burnt orange and yellow leaves on that gloomy fall morning.I was determined to do anything I could to avoid looking at that monitor. I kept thinking to myself if I don’t look, it won’t happen.

Gazing out the window allowed me to stay in my state of denial.I rolled my head to my left and looked toward my husband. As I turned, he instinctively squeezed my hand tighter. I felt the tears start to stream down my temples, then into my hair.

A few minutes into the exam, the doctor still hadn’t said a word. This was a moment where I knew silence wasn’t a good thing.My doctor removed the device and held her hand out to help me sit up. She confirmed what I already knew.

It was 8 weeks and there was still no heartbeat. The baby was gone.I sat there on that table while everyone else in the room faded away. I couldn’t hear or see my husband or doctor. It was just me with my thoughts. All the moments from this 8 week pregnancy started flashing at rapid speed…

Back to when I first found out about this pregnancy and how initially I wasn’t excited. Back to the guilt I felt for having these thoughts. Why after 19 months of trying for our first son, didn’t I welcome a surprise. I didn’t have to check my basal body temperature this time. There were no trips to the fertility doctor.

Back to how I picked LJ up out of his crib one night and rocked him while he slept. Telling him how sorry I was that this happened so soon. That I didn’t give him more time just for just the 3 of us.

Back to how I was in such shock & denial, I told my husband in the most non-chalant, cold way. I blurted it out as I walked out the door to a Madonna concert. I treated it just like any other order I constantly bark at him. We need milk, oh and by the way, I’m pregnant.

Back to how my initial sadness & fear quickly faded away. And then the pregnancy began to fade as well.Back to how I blamed myself for causing the bleeding. It was my karma due to my negative reactions.

Somewhere in this haze my doctor told us she would leave the room to give us a few moments. The poor thing. I could tell she was nervous. She was fresh out of medical school and this was the first miscarriage she’d ever had to discuss with a patient.

I was begging, tugging on my husbands shirt, for him to make it comeback. Make there be a heartbeat. I knew by the look in his eyes that if there was something he could do, he would’ve made it happen.

I didn’t want to get off this table and leave the room. I’d have to tell my mom that the baby was no longer. I’d have to go home and wait for it to naturally pass. I’d have to tell my son, who I held just last week whispering in his ear that he’d be a big brother, that it wasn’t going to happen right now.

In this room I didn’t have to face anyone. I didn’t have to explain what had happened. We were protected. We could mourn. It took all the courage I could muster to get down from  that exam table.

Time Out Crazy Mommy Monday

Wondering what “Time Out Crazy Mommy Monday” is all about? It’s taking time away from your everyday to-do list and doing something out of the ordinary with your kids.I’ve talked many times on my blog about how I’m not the fun parent in our house. My idea to change that was to have “Crazy Mommy Time” with my two boys at least once a week. I even blogged about one of our adventures in my “Crazy Mommy Time – Detroit Style“ post.I’d love to see & read what you all do to have “crazy” time with your kids. Here are some suggestions:

  • Goofy photo with your kids
  • Playful video with your kids
  • Funny story of something out of the norm you did with your family

Basically just do anything that you wouldn’t normally do. Go on a super-top-secret-surprise adventure. Eat dinner without utensils. Have a shaving cream fight out in the front yard. Capture it. Write about it. Share it.It’s time to get out of our comfort zone! We always have so much on our plate. Sometimes, we get caught up in the mundane. Since I’m not bringing the sexy back anytime soon, it’s time to at least bring the fun back!Every Sunday night at 11pm (EST) I will put up my “Time Out Crazy Mommy Monday” post & link-up for that Monday. I’d love to see you come join along with me each Monday!p.s. Please feel free to link up prior posts where you had a crazy mommy moment with your family. It doesn’t always have to be brand new. Also – feel free to use any ideas I use for CMT with your kids. No need to reinvent the wheel! I’d love to see your version!

There are 3 things I know to be true in life:

(1) Justin Bieber’s hair can’t be real because nothing in nature is that perfect.

(2) I can’t join Pinterest because that would ultimately guarantee that I would never get up from my computer chair.

(3) McDonald’s has some sort of secret ingredient in their Diet Coke that you can’t find anywhere else.

I’m now ready to add a 4th.

(4) You should always drive a car that is smarter than you are.

That’s what I realized after driving the Cadillac SRX Luxury Edition for a weekend.

For those of you who follow my blog and twitter closely, you know the mad love I have for my minivan.

However, when Charlie and I took our anniversary trip up north, we were giving Grandma the keys to the minivan for the weekend. It just so happened to also be filled with our two kids.

We wanted something fun for our road trip. The wonderful and trustworthy folks at the Suburban Collection gave us just that with giving us the use of a Cadillac SRX.

From the moment I picked it up, I fell in love. An associate from Suburban Cadillac Buick gave me a thorough tour of the car, showing me all of the extensive features.

It had everything imaginable. Bose speakers. Keyless access and push button start. Touch screen navigation. Bluetooth capability. Rearview backup camera. Ultraview moonroof.

Come to find out, it also handled perfectly. It was a blast to drive windows down, moonroof fully-extended, radio cranked, along Mission and Leelanau Peninsula.

It was luxurious, but still felt sporty. It was beyond smart, but still let you feel like you were the one in control.

In one word: It. was. awesome. Yes, that was 3 words. The whole reason why I need a car that is smarter than I am.

I was very impressed driving this crossover. In my opinion, it gives you a perfect marriage between an SUV and a sedan.

I love the fact that you are sitting up high like an SUV, but you can still take corners like a sports sedan. Best of both worlds for this mom who likes a car that can handle the road.

Another favorite feature was Bessy. That’s what we named our smart little navigation friend who talked to us over the speakers.

She set out our routes. Told us exactly where to go. Notified us of any type of traffic that was going to get in our way. She even got a little upset with us when we took driving into our own hands, deviating from the path she suggested.

We explained it to her, had a small family meeting at a stoplight and fortunately she forgave us.

For the rest of the trip, it was just the three of us enjoying the beautiful roads of Northern Michigan.

Then came Monday when I was returning the car.

I may have shed a tear. I considered laying in the back cargo space just to stay close, but I figured at some point my family would miss me. Most likely when they were looking for their next sandwich.

Bess, we miss you. Making a right turn without you telling me just isn’t the same. We’ll meet again someday. I promise.

I was extremely impressed with the Cadillac SRX. I have put it on my short list for when I decide it’s time to move beyond the minivan.

If you’re in the market for a Cadillac, or one of the other numerous brands Suburban Collection holds, give them a call.

They were great to deal with when we’ve purchased cars with them and for this extended test drive. Be sure to also follow their very active Twitter and Facebook page.

Happy driving.

Seared Scallops Appetizer

I had several of you comment via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook last Saturday night when I talked about the seared scallops I was making for Charlie. I thought I would share the recipe because they are very easy and quite tasty.

What You’ll Need:

Jumbo Bay Scallops (For this recipe, I used 5 but they were just for us as an appetizer. If it’s your main protein for an entree, I’d say you want at least 4-5 per person)
Salt, Pepper & Garlic
Butter & Olive Oil
Frank’s Red Hot
Soy Sauce

The key to cooking scallops is to dry them first.  Lay out a few pieces of paper towel, then lay the scallops down. Pat them completely dry with paper towel. Make sure you get all edges. This will get off that mushy chewy gunk (obviously, I don’t know a term for it) and make it so that they are dry enough to sear.

Once they are dry, sprinkle them with salt, pepper and garlic. In the picture, you’ll see that I used fresh group black & red pepper. Use what you have.

In a pan, start to heat up butter and olive oil. I always suggest using both. Have just enough to give a slight cover to the bottom of your frying pan. Turn it up to a high heat.

Note: You’ll see I cooked all 5 at the same time because they fit. Don’t cram them in there. If you cram, they won’t sear. If you are making a lot, do them in shifts or use a few pans.

Once the butter is melted, drop in the scallops. Do not touch them. If you want a good sear, let them get it. After about 2 minutes, then flip. Sear on the other side for about 2 minutes.

Once you have a good sear on both sides, turn down to a medium heat to allow them to cook all the way through. Continue flipping as needed. Once the sides are turning white instead of pink, they are probably close to being done.

I would say total cook time for me takes about 10 minutes.

In a dipping cup, pour in Frank’s Red Hot and Soy Sauce together. Put that in the middle of the platter and surround it with your scallops. Enjoy!

Got Milk?

Last weekend when Cooper was sick with the stomach flu, I tried every trick in the book to get him to drink water. I crushed ice cubes. I let him drink out of a big boy cup. I used fun straws. Nothing worked.After 24 hours and no fluids, I was desperate. I came up with a new idea. One that would for sure get him to drink.WARNING: Don’t try this at home (that is, if you ever want dry floors again).I sat Cooper down in his highchair and handed him his sippy cup. I grabbed a glass of water and started taking drinks. I thought he would think it was fun if I were to purse my lips together and spray out just a little bit water.Well, it worked. He was laughing and started doing it himself. Finally, he was drinking. Even if he was only ingesting about 40% of what was actually going in his mouth. The other 60% was forming a nice puddle on the floor.We kept going, seeing who could come up with the biggest spray.Things don’t always occur to me, like they do most people, that maybe this wasn’t the best thing to be teaching him. He was sick and I wanted him to drink. I didn’t consider the consequences.He’s better now. Although, I don’t think it takes Einstein to figure out that the game hasn’t stopped. He constantly has a milk mustache and I’m always down on the floor wiping up puddles. Milk monster created.Once again, superior parenting skills. I’m hoping to publish a book soon. Obviously, I have a lot of great tips to share. It will be a what not to do parenting guide.


This One Time I Bought too Much Cilantro

Friday night I went to, for the first time, our subdivisions GNO. Girls Night Out for those of you that don’t speak 30-something, girl-time deprived, mom lingo.

We were meeting a local winery and some of us had signed up to bring an appetizer. For some reason, I get the shakes when I have to bring an appetizer outside of my home. I don’t know why – I worry that something will get too cold or too soggy in transit, or I picture myself slamming on my brakes at a red light and watching my amouse bouche coat the ceiling and chairs of my car.

I don’t know, I just like my appetizers to stay under my own roof.

After lamenting over my anxiety and what was leave-the-kitchen safe for several days (I wish I was kidding), I decided to take a chunky avocado dip. I don’t even know if cilantro and wine pair well together, but I figured I would try to woo these new found friends with my dip skills.

Fortunately it was a hit, nobody complained about the overload of cumin, it survived the drive and they all seem to be willing to let me back to the next one. Win, win, win.

In case any of you have an appetizer, will travel situation this summer, I thought I’d share what I made. Enjoy.

What You’ll Need:

5 avocados (diced into large chunks)
2 limes (squeezed)
8 grape tomatoes (cut in half)
1/2 red & yellow pepper (diced)
1 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed; diced)
handful of cilantro (chopped)
1 can of black beans
salt, pepper, cumin

Stir everything together, trying to keep the avocados chunky. Serve with tortilla chips. Good luck in transit.

Saturday morning, after sleeping through a large storm (thank you, wine!), I walked into my kitchen and saw this massive leftover bag of cilantro staring me in the face. Daydreaming of a grocery store that sells single-servings of cilantro, because the guilt that the current grocers of America are laying on me is just too much to handle, I knew the cilantro had to be used today. Since I was dipped out, I thought I’d make a Mexican pasta salad.

What You’ll Need {to use up your cilantro}:

1 package Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta Fusilli (forgot to mention – this is wheat free pasta salad)
All of the same ingredients listed above
Your favorite cheese – 1/4 cup small chunks
1/4 to 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (I used Trader Joe’s salsa verde)

Cook noodles, drain & cool. Stir everything together. Use salsa as needed. You may need to add some more on day 2, as the noodles tend to dry out.

Unfortunately, these two dishes didn’t empty my stock of cilantro. Sunday morning I couldn’t stomach the thought of cilantro and scrambled eggs, so I admitted defeat. Maybe next time we’ll use the whole bag.