Thursday, April 29, 2010

Look how hilarious my ex-friends are...

They also have flat tires in their driveways and toilet paper hanging from their trees, but they are hilarious.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Remember that interview with Brooke Shields?

It's hard to believe that its been about a decade since Brooke Shields was on the big screen. Images of her in The Blue Lagoon and Pretty Baby are so stuck in our minds that it seems that she has always been making films. But this week she returns in the family comedy Furry Vengeance, a look at how wildlife strikes back when a new housing development threatens their homes.

In the film, Brooke plays Tammy Sanders, a part that appealed to her immediately, she told me in a recent interview. In addition to working with friend and co-star Brendan Fraser, she also appreciated the opportunity to work on a family-friendly film.

Now a mother of two daughters, Brooke, 44, says the movie is a family comedy with a broader social message that “is never condescending, and allows kids to feel that they can make a difference.”

Certainly no stranger to the camera, Brooke's career spans more than four decades of film, television and modeling. She started modeling as an 11 month old, posing for Francesco Scavullo for an Ivory Soap ad. Her career never slowed as she continued in films and television, making guest appearances on many shows, including Friends, Nip/Tuck and Two and a Half Men. Along the way, she portrayed (in flashback) Miley Stewart's mom on Hannah Montana and starred in a couple of shows of her own, Suddenly Susan and more recently, Lipstick Jungle.

During our conversation, it was her poignant and unscripted thoughts about motherhood that revealed her refreshingly real beauty. When asked if her perspective had changed on her career and striking a healthy balance since becoming a mother, she said that “it is constantly being negotiated in my mind." While she was always an incredibly focused performer who often made work the priority over her personal life, that all changed when she had children. “It shifted. (It used to be) the desire for work to be the entirety of your life...having children changes that," she said. "Now the desire to enjoy my life is right in front of my face.”

That's why this film was important to her. “I liked to go to work and bring home laughter. I’m a fuller mom when I work.” She loves to share her passion with her children. "You want your kids to look up to you -- you want to earn their respect.”

It wasn’t all serious talk, however. Furry Vengeance is a comedy after all, and Brooke said she had “the best time she’s ever had working on a film.” On Brendan Fraser, who also is the film's executive producer, she had nothing but the highest praise, calling him “one of the most incredible talents I’ve ever worked with.”

She believes this movie will entertain all ages because it fills that gap between adult and kid films with humor that appeals to all and won’t leave the grown-ups checking their watches. While there are plenty of scenes filled with physical and slapstick comedy, she hints that adults will particularly appreciate the end credit, They are laden with dance montages and spoofs of the stars’ past films. And she even pokes fun at herself.

“For 20 years I have refused The Blue Lagoon,” she groans. But look for a funny reference to the film before the house lights come up.

Good-natured humor about being good to nature sounds like a must-see movie for any family.

My Juicy tip o' the week

Don't forget to check your Juicy Rewards options when you travel--I just found some deals for an upcoming trip which is a bonus and makes me look way smarter and better traveled than I actually am.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My Mommy turned 40 and all I got was this lousy potholder

My mother used to have a red and white picnic-checked potholder hanging in the kitchen over the monolith of a microwave that read, “I’d rather be 40 than pregnant!”

I didn’t get it.

At 14 years old, both of those things seemed to be equally as horrifying in my adolescent mind.

Fast forward a couple of decades and four pregnancies later, and I think I’m being let in on the joke.

When I first read that potholder, I figured on the morning I turned 40, I’d wake up in a spiraling pit of depression. Or wrinkle beyond recognition. Or at the very least, something would fall off. I’d get a craving to eat dinner at 3:00 in the afternoon and listen to the oldies station on the radio.

What I failed to take into account -- and a big difference between 14 and 40 -- is that by this great big birthday, I would be in the throes of motherhood, and perspectives certainly change here.

Those pregnancies that preceded this birthday produced four beautiful, healthy children that I love beyond words, and being in this moment with them is my greatest joy. And while I’m sure the potholder-author’s original intent was to make a bad joke rather than suggest an introspective philosophy on aging, for me there is a deeper meaning of this gag gift. Now that I’m here, I realize that after our skin gets stretched out from childbearing and wrinkles a little on the edges, it’s now when we at last become the most comfortable in it.

I may be a little grayer and not carded nearly as often, but that only delays the purchase of champagne to toast a very full life of many blessings anyway.

So throw me what you’ve got, Forty -- I’m ready.

I’ve got an oven mitt with your name on it.

(Cross-posted on Whoa Momma.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

My unwitting tribute to Earth Day includes a second visit from the plumber to fix the toilet from Jessie's tribute to Earth Day by exfoliating Mother Nature when she dropped an entire jar of sea salts down there. Yesterday, they took the toilet apart to find that little gem, and today it is still not working properly so perhaps Jessie followed up with a mud mask or a tube of deep moisturizer.

Oh yes, and I also wrote this up for Whoa Momma.

And this on

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More redecorating

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been slowly putting the house back together after the Big Carpet Project 2010. I’ve managed to get through the master bedroom and both boys’ rooms, and feel like most everything is back in place with a healthy new shine.

There’s just one room to go.

The girls' room.

I’ve been avoiding this particular nightmare because the scope of this project trumps all other rooms. It isn’t a matter of putting things back in--the baby cribs have been dismantled and given away, the huge canopy bed that never had a night’s sleep in it by the child it was purchased for--a similar fate. I would take a “before” photo but I just watched my first episode of “Hoarders” and I’m afraid I’d get a call from an A&E producer if anyone were to see the crates of stuffed animals that line the walls.

So it’s past time to address this room at our address.

Another problem in this effort is how much I hate to shop. Hate it. I know what I want in my head, I just hate wasting days driving around to find it. So on Sunday, I ordered two twin beds from I’ve worked with them before (they have given away some gifts to Suburban Diva readers), but this is the first time I’ve ordered from them directly.

I’m pretty excited since it could all be completed painlessly online and it will be delivered to my house in 3-5 days.

But you know the best part? NO SHIPPING CHARGES.


So I will let you know how much we love them and maybe even an “after” photo of the new room.

And if all of those stuffed animals fit under the new beds.

(So don’t call A&E, K?)

Disclosure: My friends at CSN Stores gave me a little shopping spree, and I applied the amount to the beds I had already chosen before we spoke. Seemed like a win-win to me. I will let you know how it turns out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't put those candles away yet

April is a big birthday month around here, and we've had some big birthdays to celebrate lately.

Jessie turned 3 and she got the Spongebob cake she's been begging for for 6 months. It was on display at Publix and since we are there every other day, she had time to form desire for the thing. She didn't need presents after that...

And today is Matty's big day which meant a Storm game and sleepover. Actually it was more of an -over, since very little sleep was involved.

For any of us.

And we won't even talk about the next family birthday quite yet.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Juicy Deal of the Day--Exclusive, ya'll

I’ve got the Juicy Insider Deal of the Day for ready?

For today only, (Friday, April 16) you can cash in 2 Juicy Reward points for a free movie ticket on

But before you go to the big screen, you have to go to your little one and follow the steps here : for a Buy 1 Get 1 Free ticket available today only. (You don’t have to go to the movies today, but you do have to redeem the reward today.)

See, that glass of O.J. you had this morning just boosted your immune system and got you a ticket for Date Night on your Date Night.

Why yes, I am bragging

Posting on more outdoor fun later, but I just had to scream across the Interwebs, Guess who is talking to Brooke Shields tomorrow???!!!


Okay, back to my regularly scheduled, non-mega celebrity life now at the gym.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank goodness there are lights on the field or Day 3

Not all of your outside time need be during the day.

Sometimes extra innings and deciphering the infield fly rule in Little League pushes a nice day outside into a nice night outside.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Be Out There Challenge Day 2

The second day of our Be Out There challenge was also the last weekday of Spring Break for us. While Stevie had all sorts of lofty goals for this vacation, Matty only wanted one thing: to play miniature golf.

An odd request, but easy enough to indulge.

So I cashed in some Juicy Rewards points for discount tickets to Captain Bligh’s Landing: a miniature golf course down in Clearwater.

Please note that Clearwater Beach during Spring Break is only second to the number of people who crowd Disney World on Spring Break. (See Friday's entry.)

But no matter, we braved the traffic circle--an insanely cruel contraption that reminds me of revolving doors on hotels--cool for minute to look at, but really, have you ever tried to push a stroller through? Not at all practical, and borders on decapitating. Anyhoo, I only went around four times before I figured out how to exit, and with a car full of vertigo-infused children, we went to Captain Bligh’s.

It’s a funny little place. An interesting historical fact about old Tampa Bay, after a night of pillaging the city and looting our treasure, pirates used to engage in that ancient seafaring tradition known as putt-putt.

Okay, I totally made that up, but I always wonder why so many miniature golf courses are pirate-themed since I can’t imagine Bluebeard taking a little pencil from his scabbard and writing down his par 3 score after a particularly tricky bank shot over a Sno Bowl colored waterfall. I’m not judging, but I suppose after many long nights at sea, pirates would be particularly inclined toward astro-turf and colored golfballs. Again, not judging.

But it was a gorgeous day, and we all had such a good time. Usually, Sean gets to do all of the putt-putting with the kids and I stay home with the baby, but today we brought her and she got to throw around a plastic club and a ball 3 centimeters from the hole.

And after an hour in that beautiful sunshine and few hundred strokes later, Matty proved victorious. We celebrated in a 1980 (it seriously could have been 1880) arcade with Skeeball.

Curiously, my Ms. Pac-Man and golf score were the exact same.

P.S. There are many moms taking this challenge and getting out there. You can read about their adventures as well:

Ashley Waldvogel Gaddy
Jennifer James
Liz Thompson
Rachel Matthews
Kim Moldofsky
Amie Hurst Adams
Asha Dornfest
Kristin Sundin Brandt
Anna Fader
Veronique Christiansen
Holly Ambrose
Debi Pfitzenmaier
Christine Koh
Cooper Munroe and Emily McKhann

Saturday, April 10, 2010

You can stop growing up now

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jesso.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Day 1 of unorthodox, yet perfectly Floridian challenge

You may think that just because we live in Florida--an hour's drive from the country's premiere theme parks--means that we are in Orlando every weekend.

Not really... just every other.

This week to kick off our Out There challenge, we went to Disney World for the day. Granted, I'm not sure this is what my friends at the NWF headquarters had in mind, but we did spend a great deal of time outside together yesterday. Here are my Twitter updates to prove it:

That 4-7 minute number I told you about earlier? We crushed that number just setting up the stroller alone.

We saw native wildlife.

We traveled to different climes.

We talked to the animals.

We went horseback riding.

We went to the mountains. (Splash, Space and Thunder.) And the sea. (Small World and the Pirates of the Caribbean.)

And while this outside may have also had a few plastic trees and animals of the animatronic variety, I did spend twelve hours with my favorite people in the beautiful spring sunshine.

We live in Florida, and that's how we roll.

Monday, April 05, 2010

And speaking of Easter on Sunday..

...that also means that Lent is officially over and in theory, I could go drink a soda in celebration of going without processed foods for 40 days.

But I'm not going to do that. Because I honestly don't want to.

This was a pretty interesting experiment. If you recall, I vowed to "give up processed foods" as my Lenten sacrifice. Admittedly, this was pretty vague and I didn't even know what that meant in the beginning of this, but I think I have a handle on it now.

1.) Chemical-free. My main goal was to try to eliminate as many chemicals, additives and preservatives from my food as possible. Someone asked if I gave up flour and things like that, and the answer is no--it really was the chemical-y fake stuff I was to avoid. (I only buy whole wheat or unbleached flour.)

2.) This meant a lot of label reading. I was absolutely shocked at some of things I've been mindlessly shoving in my mouth that after a scan of the label was nothing more than a freakish science experiment. Case in point: maple syrup. I dare you to read the back of a bottle of anything other than pure maple syrup. You will be horrified.

3.) Label-reading leads to better choices. If I was staring at two brands of the same product, I chose the one with the least amount of ingredients. No-brainer, right? Wrong. Some things labeled as "natural" have nothing natural about them. (I'm looking at you, certain brands of yogurt.) If there was an option to buy it fresh, I bought it. If there was an organic choice, I chose it. I continually sought out better labels rather than better packages.

4.) A return to whole foods. This again sounds easy, but it is surprisingly not. In addition to shopping a lot more frequently, I shopped in different places as well. I discovered my town's weekly Farmer's Market, and a fruit stand on the corner that sells tomatoes that actually taste like a tomato. I cooked and prepared a lot more myself than I ever dreamed. And it was good.

5.) People complain all of the time about the higher costs of organic foods. I disagree. Sure, organic eggs cost more than regular. That bottle of maple syrup was almost $8 as compared to the Aunt Jemima high-fructose sugar water. But all of the farmer's market produce was hands-down cheaper than my grocery store. I saved a boat load of money buying a box of long-leaf black tea that I brewed myself as opposed to a case of Coke. Yogurt and granola costs less than a dozen donuts or a bagels.

An amazing thing happens when you're not filling your body up with junky empty calories--you tend to eat less. And when you are putting more thought and to consideration into what you're eating, you also tend to have more respect for it and don't waste nearly as much. Not that I thought I did that before, but an end of day old bread became croutons (no need to buy a box) and leftovers are repurposed in new and creative ways.

6.) Everyone has to make the choices that make sense to them. I really tried to focus on avoiding all things with the high fructose corn syrup--I'll take raw sugar any old day, and partially-hydrogenated anything. That meant no soda, no margarine, fried foods and most anything that came out of a can. I still ate meat--looked for the grass-fed beef and organic chicken whenever possible--and I certainly indulged my sweet tooth--I just made sure I made the sweets myself and knew exactly what I put into it.

Did it work?

I think it did. I definitely feel de-toxed and really have no desire to go back to the old ways. I think I've lost weight, my skin and hair feel healthier, and mentally, I feel better, too. Like I've let something go on my terms and I can't imagine going back.

In fact, I think it's time to take it further. While meals have unbeknownst to the family gotten healthier, I will now incorporate these habits into their other eating routines as well. Lunches and snacks will get an overhaul as well and we'll find a way to make it as non-traumatic as mine was.

I also still need to work on the meat aspect--I wasn't happy with my grocery store's option of "all-vegetarian" diet for their beef as opposed to "grass-fed." There's a difference and I want the latter. I also plan to get a lot more creative with the foods I've discovered like quinoa and farro and the fresh vegetables. I planted my garden, and hope to really make better use of that as well.

But at the end of the day--or forty of them--I think this has translated over from experiment to lifestyle change.

And it is a delicious one.

Catching up before I get back out

Spring break officially began last Thursday, but I'm counting today as my official start date since homemade Pop-tarts and seventeen other dishes for three complete meals for 21 guests on Easter day in the midst of the great carpet project meant a lot of cooking, shopping, and cleaning. And cooking.

And so this week is a bit of a different pace than the last few. The weather finally turned beautiful, and it's time to get out there.


I am proudly serving on on the National Wildlife Federation's advisory panel to help spread the word about the NWF's "Be Out There" campaign--encouraging kids and families to get outside. One of their sobering estimates suggests that most kids spend just 4-7 minutes outdoors per day. This is in contrast to 6 hours or more in front of some electronic device.

So I will be taking the challenge with my kids this week to see if we can bump up that 7 minute number to something much more respectable. I will be chronicling my efforts via webcam which should prove horrifying and interesting as well. In addition to exploring our own backyard, I'm finally going to visit all of the cool local spots that I've been promising them for years.

I don't know which of us will have the most fun this week.

Disclosure: I am not being paid to serve on this panel--just something I believe in and look forward to helping with this important effort.