Death of a Mom Blog

“…Her feed is filled with pretty objects like cooling pies and evergreen sprigs tucked into apothecary vases, with hardly any chaos in sight.

This is the “mommy Internet” now. It’s beautiful. It’s aspirational. It’s also miles from what motherhood looks like for many of us — and miles from what the mommy Internet looked like a decade ago.”

A decade ago? Decade?! In the vanity of my aging, it was that word that stuck in my craw when I first read Sarah Pulliman Bailey’s piece in the Washington Post. Did this blogging thing start that long ago and has it really changed all that much? Am I that old? 

In answering those questions, and actually reading the rest of the article, I had to accept a few things that were frankly, a little hard to swallow.  Could holding a mirror up, answering those questions, also mean the death of a mom blog, this blog?  

I sort of fell into blogging. While listing to the radio during my daily route as chauffeur to four kids, one in middle school, one in elementary school, one in preschool and one still on the boob, I caught a segment about technology that featured a popular blogger. Blogger? Um, what is that? I honestly had no clue, there weren’t any bloggers on Sesame Street after all so why would I know? 

That day I went home and Googled the term. What I found out was that a blogger was just a person with a keyboard and a penchant for over-sharing. Hey, I could be a blogger. The next day I was. And I loved it to the point that I’d sometimes post several times a day. If I couldn’t have actual adult conversations with actual adults in the real world, I’d take to the interwebs! 

Somewhere along the way, I found my voice and my community. And then, I lost it. 

In those early days, it was mostly about the kids because, well, having kids makes most everything mostly about them. But, it wasn’t always. Some of my more popular posts came from series I ran like, Fit Pitchin’ Fridays and guest posts by guys during Manuary. Somewhere along the way, I started to talk about what it was like to live as an expat and to travel with kids. That may be where things started to change. 

I began to make money from the words I’d share, the pictures I’d take, and the skills I’d been building. This blog would take me across the globe, into the White House, onto the pages of the Washington Post and USA Today. It would open doors and give me and those that read this blog glimpses into places rarely seen.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that sense of community, my voice – though still honest – wasn’t as open and unedited as it used to be.  The blog had become business, and that isn’t a bad thing just something different from what it began as. 

The only thing that is constant is change ~ Heraclitus

I’m guilty of sharing an edited life, online. I take beautiful pictures of food in a kitchen that is part of a house that is nearly always a hot mess. I brag about my kids but I no longer believe that the ultimate measure of my success is how well-adjusted my children are. I go to amazing places and take shots with a very narrow lens. I eat too many carbs, drink too much cheap wine, and have a wardrobe of yoga pants that have never seen a minute on the mat. I curse like a sailor (because I was one, so I get a pass there) but fuck if I’ll do it in writing. I hate that my husband is aging better than I am while I have watched hair fall from my head only to migrate south, taking up residence on my upper lip and chin. 

I am not perfect. My life is not a curated Instagram feed. I suffer from so much self-doubt that I could probably use some therapy.  All of that said though, I still love this blog and hope at least a few of you will keep reading even through a few sponsored posts and a whole lot more unedited me. 

SAT Tips for Parents

Last month, In our first installment of Why Choose the SAT, we busted some myths about taking the test. Aren’t you glad they did away with the penalty for guessing? This month, through my partnership with The College Board, I’m sharing SAT tips for parents and free resources for SAT prep. Because, helping your child get their best score doesn’t have to cost you an arm or a leg.

Yes, you read that right. There are FREE resources for SAT prep!

SAT tips for parents

Tip 1: Know The Deadlines!

Let’s face it, no amount of prep – free or otherwise – is going to do you any good if you don’t know WHEN your child should be taking the test. This actually happened to us with our oldest daughter. Silly me, I relied on a teen to give me the details. Don’t be me!

Most students take the SAT in the spring of their junior year and again in August or the fall of their senior year. If your child hopes to take the March 2018 SAT, the deadline for registration if February 9th, 2018. I know getting those dates right and not missing deadlines was an issue in our house. Get more info on registration here.  

Tip 2: Sign up for Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy

Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy is the best way to prepare for the SAT. It was created by the makers of the test, it’s personalized for each student, and it’s 100% free.

There are thousands of practice questions with instant feedback, video lessons, test taking tips and strategies, and 8 practice tests!

Fun Fact: A recent study shows that students who practice for 20 hours on Khan Academy gained an average of 115 points from the PSAT/NMSQT to SAT compared to those students who did not use Official SAT Practice.  

So, get cracking. There is plenty of material out there for SAT prep.  

Insider Info: Official SAT Practice is and always will be free for all students! For the first time there is equality of access to SAT preparation and I think that’s huge game changer for students nationwide.

SAT tips for parents
Tip 3: Be Sure Your Student is Studying What THEY Need

Teens already feel quite a bit of pressure about the college admission process. You might be able to ease some of that by ensuring that they don’t over-study. Taking the PSAT/NMSQT can really help them focus on the areas they’ll need to improve. It’s a practice test usually offered at their school that will get them ready for the SAT.

Your student will get a personalized SAT study plan with Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy. By sharing their PSAT/NMSQT scores or taking the diagnostic quizzes, Khan Academy will pinpoint the skills they need to improve. This means they are spending their time on the areas that matter the most.

Official SAT Practice will guide them through lessons and give them quizzes along the way to test progress. This free SAT prep resource allows your student to move at their own pace, cutting down on stress and helping solidify the knowledge they’ll need to be successful. It will help them turn weaknesses into strengths.

Good tips, right? So why do I feel like your next question is going to be; Don’t you get what you pay for? I leave you with one last fun fact in answer to that question. More than 16,000 students in the class of 2017 who used the free Official SAT Practice saw score gains of 200 points or more from the PSAT/NMSQT to the SAT.

Stay tuned for one more article in this series and be sure to check out #ChooseTheSAT on twitter for more information from parents, experts, and more.

Lessons from Dogs

It was a cold and dreary one along the Chesapeake Bay. The weather brought with it a bit of unease and melancholia. I often find that spending some time alone with my dog on days like these helps ease some of that grayness.

Just me and the pup, that day. The kids had slept late and my husband didn’t feel like going out in the rain.

While feeding the ducks from the red brick lined sidewalk, a man approached. He asked if he could pet my dog. Gordon loves that, little attention junkie that he is.

While the dog did all his cute moves to get more scratches behind the ear, the man shared how much he loved being around dogs.  “Dogs never think twice about being nice. They seem to know if they are good to you, you’ll be nice back. Sad that doesn’t always work out for them.”

He thanked me, rubbed Gordy’s head and walked away only to turn around and head back. Gordon responded with an earnest shimmy of his tiny tail-nub.

With a shyness in his eyes, he said he hated to ask but he was homeless and hungry and wondered if I had some change to spare. Without thinking twice I handed him the only cash I had with me, a twenty.

I tend to be very wary of panhandlers having seen more than one head off for a fix. He could have been intending to do the same thing but I realized in that moment it wasn’t my place to judge. I could do a nice thing because it was nice and leave it at that. I could remember the lessons from dogs… and not think twice about being nice.

A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. ~ John Grogan

Heading back to the car I heard someone call, “Hey, Gordon’s mom!” I looked across the street and it was the same guy with a big bag full of sandwiches from a local shop down the street.

He beamed at me and said, “thanks for understanding.” Sometimes the lessons from dogs are the ones that teach us how to be better humans. 

Follow Your NOLA (a love letter to New Orleans in pictures)

Follow Your NOLA

Did you know that Carnival season in New Orleans kicks off on January 6th? So many people think it’s all about Fat Tuesday. Much like just about everything else in this city, there is so much more to it. 

I’m reviving this post published after our first family trip to the Crescent City to introduce you to some of the many reasons we love this magical place more than any theme park or cruise ship. Who couldn’t love a place that has a parade for everyone from Joan of Arc to the Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus

It isn’t just the parades though. Yes, there is food and oh boy, is there drink. But there is also art, music, workshops, and so much more. While this is our love letter to New Orleans, you’ve got time to go this year and write your own too! 

For some, there are places in this world that call to them even if they’ve never been. I’d always thought that was the truest definition of wanderlust, a need to go places we’ve never been. A recent trip to New Orleans changed my perspective. If ever there were a person in this word for whom the tagline Follow Your NOLA applied that would be my youngest daughter. 

From a very young age, maybe about six or seven, she’s been fascinated by New Orleans. One might think that came from tales of my travels, but no. Long before my first visit she’d seek out shows on the History Channel or Discovery that talked about the folklore, food, and stories that cling to this city like so much Spanish Moss. It was actually rather sweet to sit huddled on the sofa and shiver at the tales of The Myrtles Plantation. Frankly, I was nearly as enamored.  

After my first trip to NOLA when she was eight the fascination grew. I think she wore beads and a mask to school for a week. Her room began to take on a distinctly French Quarter vibe and by the time her ninth birthday rolled around, it was clear the theme would be… Big Easy. 

 I’ve often wondered over the years if perhaps she was drawn to this city not by wanderlust, but by something deeper within her. In my travels, I’ve become certain that there exist in this world people who are simply old souls.

These people seem to have deeper connections to places, customs, and cultures than most of us do. They needn’t have grown up near or been raised in the places and things they love. They are simply a part of them no matter time or distance. My daughter is an old soul and New Orleans her muse. 

She recently celebrated her first double-digit birthday. How? With a trip to her city. 

Never have I seen such instant love. The child who is usually first to start fussing about long walks, couldn’t sit still. She nearly prowled the streets of the French Quarter. Night fell and she lit up like one of the gas lamps that dot the streets. She savored every spice (even tried alligator) lingered to look at every piece of art, got her cards read and sang Ella Fitzgerald songs on street corners with bands from around the globe. 

This is her city and she is its child. They belong together. Here is a short love letter to New Orleans in pictures that she chose. 

Laissez les bons temps rouler, mon amis!  


how to make a starburst candy cocktail

Remember those cheesy 80’s ads for Reece’s peanut butter cups, “You got your peanut butter all over my chocolate!” Yuck, just nope. I may be alone in my loathing of that combination but I can certainly get behind the tagline for those ads, “Two great things that go great together,” if we’re talking vodka and starburst candies.  So the question now is, how to make a Starburst candy cocktail.

Time for a confession, the Starburst candy cocktail was an original idea of mine.  Oh sure, I’d love to take full credit for it but that rests with the little BBQ joint in suburban Maryland where my team, The Little Urban Achievers play (and by that I mean own) Pub Trivia.

While The Hideaway cocktail was tasty, it was just a tad too sour for me so I thought I’d take inspiration from their unique libation and give it my own twist. Of course, it will still be garnished with starburst – duh.

Starburst Candy Cocktail
Serves 1
Sweet, a little sour and perfect for happy hour!
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Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Total Time
5 min
  1. 1.5 oz Limoncello
  2. 1.5 oz Stolichnaya Wild Cherry Vodka
  3. 1 oz Tart Cherry Grenadine by Quince & Apple
  4. San Pellegrino Aranciata
  5. Starburst Candy
  6. Cocktail Skewers
  7. Ice
  8. Cocktail Shaker
  1. Place ice, limoncello, vodka and grenadine in cocktail shaker. Shake well. Strain into glass of your choice. Top with chilled Aranciata. Place several candies onto skewer and garnish.
  1. If using standard grenadine, add in some fresh squeezed lemon juice to balance the sweet and sour.
Adapted from The Hideway
Adapted from The Hideway
Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom

Using that craft grenadine may be the key to the success of this cocktail. Quince & Apple really let the cherry shine in this simple syrup. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but it doesn’t take much of it to impart that deep cherry flavor. Plus it doesn’t go bad. I may even give it a try as a flavoring for ice cream or pancake topping.

Though not YET tested, I suspect this would be great in the summer over crushed ice! Do you have a favorite candy? Think it might make for a tasty cocktail? Let me know. I’m always looking for new ways to mix things up. Mixology.. mix.. get it. Okay, maybe I’d better lay off the taste-testing for a bit.

Travel. Eat. Drink. Write. REPEAT