with Lynne and Leslie

3 Things My Son Put In Time-Out This Weekend, And 3 Things I Will Too

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here! I have a 3 year-old, and he is funny and sweet and very smart. So smart in fact, that he often uses that smartness to say and do things that he should have probably thought more about before he did them. Things like snatching things from other people, or stomping his foot in my face to punctuate him not coming when I said to. Independence is great. Obstinance is not. So sometimes, after explanations and chances do no good, he gets sent to his room for a bit for a time-out to calm himself down and get himself in check. And apparently, he has taken this message to heart this weekend by putting the following things in time-out so they can think about the egregious things that they have done, namely, to him.

1. The stuffing on his plate for touching his sweet potatoes.

Not the actual plate. That food  has been eaten.

Not the actual plate. That food has been eaten.

2. His tricycle for letting him fall off of it.


3. Me, for telling him “no” too many times. I didn’t go though.

Yeah. No, I didn't go.

Yeah..I didn’t go.

And to that end, it got to me thinking about some things that I too need to give a break to, some of them for a long time and maybe forever.


1. Guilt Over What I Ate This Week: Notice that I didn’t say I am putting the actual food in time-out. Because food is yum. You might not want to eat all of it all of the time, but I believe in moderation, and in butter, and butter in moderation. So even if I put things back into eating rotation that are less fat-laden, I won’t feel bad about the fact that I ate that stuff in the first place. Because I chose it, and I knew what I was doing, and I consciously enjoyed it and all the YES.

My aunt's delicious rolls. NomNomNomNomNom

My aunt’s delicious rolls. NomNomNomNomNom

2. My phone: I have written a lot about wanting to be more present in my life and trying to resist the allure and call of the Facebook and the Google and the HI EVERYBODY!! And the past few days, when I have been around family, I have found myself wanting to pull out my phone to check in with the internet when I am actually checking out of the wonderful place I have been put in, and that is with my lovely loved ones. This one is ongoing. But I had some wonderful book time with the little boy this morning just because and it was better than anything else that was happening at that moment.

Books are fun. They really are.

Books are fun. They really are.

3. Spending my time and brain space retelling that story about the person who did you wrong that one time: The holidays are a good time for families to sit around and catch-up and reminisce about times gone by, and sometimes those old stories feature the time that Uncle So-and-So insulted Aunt Whosie-Who by accusing her of taking their Great Aunt Pookie-Poo’s antique teacup collection when that really never happened and it turns out that they were actually accidentally given to Goodwill, and although everyone knows what happened now, Aunt WW can’t give up that wrong and the whole family sits with her and helps her in her indignation-fest and we all feel superior to Uncle S and S and YAY!! But that self-righteousness turns to yuck and you are the one who winds up feeling heavy with yuck. Even if Uncle S and S never admitted his wrong. and even if what he did sucked, let it go. Yes it happened. But stop telling the story. Even if it is just to yourself. Move on. Now, I am not talking about abuse or other things that really need to be handled and addressed. I am talking about the other stuff., and I myself have to fight the urge to be Aunt WW a lot by freeing up that brain space for stuff like happiness. Because I have been Uncle So and So. And I am sorry. Forgiveness is an awesome thing.

My sister, who knows all of my stories and who I would rather spend time with talking about good stuff.

My sister, who knows all of my stories and who I would rather spend time with talking about good stuff.

So, what are some things that you need to put in time-out, if only for a little while or maybe forever? Share below!


Things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, on the way to the cheese…er, family dinner

by SweetMidlife


So this is Thanksgiving, and what have you done? Well, if you’re me, Leslie, you’ve run/walked a half an hour, made (and eaten a lot of) a cauliflower gratin, taken out the trash, introduced a toddler to the joys of “The Wiz,” observed that Mariah Carey is still the queen of all she surveys and if you don’t agree she’ll just excommunicate you from her reality. It’s been a good day so far and it’s not nearly over. We’ve got more cooking, and dinner, and whatever’s on TV tonight that I’ll DVR and watch when I wake up after passing out in a food coma at 8.

You might know that this has not been the most awesome year around these parts. Actually, for me, it’s been pretty much the worst. But I’m still standing, yeah yeah yeah (Thanks Elton!) and I’ve gotta get this thing rocking, and am covered in gratitude for the people who have risen up to help me. Here are five random things I’m thankful for, just right now:

1) New running shoes, right out the box.

2) Overcast, windy days in November in Florida where you can run on Thanksgiving and counteract the fat to come.


3) The Macy’s parade, and the many many kids who fly in from all over the country to get their 10 seconds of recognition. Never ever be too jaded to capture how important that is.

4) Toddler hugs, because in between the hugs, toddler crazy.

5) Knowing you guys are out there.


You Should Play Outside With Your Kid, and a Really Cool Book Series About That

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

I like air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, and TV and my couch all of the time. And I like it sometimes when I can enjoy all of these things and have my kid occupied and happy with the TV, or with his toy keyboard or train track. I even let him ride his tricycle in the house, so he can get activity, and also where I can watch him and stay in the house. With my air conditioning, my TV, and my couch. I am well aware, though, that this isn’t always a good thing, because we aren’t doing things TOGETHER, and some of the best memories that I have had with my son, and shoot, that I have had period, happened outside, be it at the playground, or playing in our backyard in the sand table, or as in my running days, putting feet to pavement and seeing what it do in nature. When my son asks to play outside, which is often, I know that I should be doing more to make that happen for both of us.

So, I have this friend from Facebook, Marni Penning Coleman, who has actually become a friend although we have never met as far as I know. We DO know a bunch of the same people, and have one very good friend in common, and got to know each other in this Facebook group for parents in our area who are part of the local theatre scene. Last summer, Marni asked people if they would be in a test group to read, with their kid, this book that her sister had written, and that Marni illustrated. Add free things and a cool way to do stuff with my kid to the list of things that I like: I said yes. It turns out that the book was the second in a series of interactive books written by, Marni’s sister, Rebecca P. Cohen, called PJ’s Backyard Adventures, about a little boy named PJ who discovers amazing things when he plays outside. The book we read, Play at a Paris Playground, follows PJ as he takes his imagination global. Both books are bunches of crazy crazy fun: You can read the story about the things that PJ finds as he explores, PLUS you can color the pages, PLUS there is a cut-out of PJ that you can play with. Here’s us playing with it (note that our test copy was a printout. The actual book is a paperback. All awesome) …

20150717_085804 (1)




Cool, huh? But wait! There’s more! It ALSO turns out that the PJ series is just a part of a whole movement that Rebecca has started called Be Outside and Grow, that encourages folks to get out of their homes and into nature. Again, I need more of this in my life. I got to talk to Rebecca about how getting out is a good thing. And here is some of that conversation…

How did the whole Be Outside and Grow idea start?
Be Outside and Grow is the belief that time outside is good for us. A few years ago, I realized I wasn’t living every day the way I wanted; I was always rushing to spend time inside. Time outside was limited to weekends and rare vacations. As I began to spend more time outside with my children, my family grew closer, we had more fun, and I learned more about myself. Being outside with my kids reduced my stress and allowed me to engage in their sense of curiosity and wonder. I wanted to help more families experience the benefits of fitting in outdoor play into every day. My first book, 15 Minutes Outside is about that journey to get outside with my kids every day and includes low to no-cost ideas for every day of the year. The book is a helpful resource for parents, grandparents, caregivers, and teachers. With my new children’s book series, PJ’s Backyard Adventures, I want to continue to encourage outdoor play in children at a time they are also learning to read. The main character, PJ, is the essence of every child: curious and full of wonder. Children really relate to him, especially in that he loves to wear his pajamas, boots, and fireman’s hat! It’s the type of engaging early reader series I wish I had for my children.
Why can you connect with your kids more outside than you can by staying in the house?
Something magical happens without four walls around you. Each person literally has more space to be themselves. Inside, my two children would bicker constantly. Outside, they were best of friends. Studies have shown that unstructured outdoor playtime reduces aggression and improves cooperation. Everyone has fifteen minutes to step outside – its doable – usually the fun can last an hour or more depending on your schedule or result in child-led creative play where you can sneak off to tackle the next item on your to do list feeling reinvigorated and grateful for having created a precious moment together.
Did the PJ books grow out of the Be Outside and Grow movement, or vice-versa?
PJ’s Backyard Adventures is my version of 15 Minutes Outside for kids, and connects children around the world through outdoor play. Children naturally engage in imaginative outdoor play, but there are many activities competing for their attention. Having needed an early reader series that would engage my family – not just picture books that my children couldn’t read or sight word books that felt like a chore – I created what I thought would have excited my children to read a book. Children can relate to PJ, who uses his imagination in his backyard to travel the world. In each book, PJ travels to a real place outside that kids and parents would love. The latest PJ’s Backyard AdventuresPlay at a Paris Playground, is about the playground in The Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. There are eight ways that children can engage with each book, from coloring to finding a hidden Dolch sight word on every page. I’ve read the books to over 500 children ages 2-8 in North America, Europe, and China, and the excitement with PJ is the same. Every type of learner finds something in the book that holds their interest and prompts further curiosity and play, from the seven continents to decorating their own pj’s, hat, and boots and cutting out PJ from the back to take with them on their own outdoor adventures.
Did you know from the beginning that you wanted your sister to do the illustrations?
I had the idea for PJ’s Backyard Adventures for several years before I persisted in finding a publisher and an illustrator. I had a goal to publish the series by the time my nephews were old enough to read it, and time was running out! In my head, I knew exactly what PJ looked like, and I asked my sister Marni Penning Coleman if she would bring PJ to life. A talented actress and graphic designer by trade, Marni drew an entire Winnie the Pooh mural the night before her son’s first birthday. She always liked to draw, but thought her drawings were too “cartoony” – which ended up being perfect for children’s illustrations.
Aren’t sisters the best? (I write with mine so this one is rhetorical. HA!)
With whom else can you have insanely productive one-hour weekly video Skype meetings in your pajamas? And when family life takes over, no one understands better than sisters. I’m enormously impressed with Marni’s ability to illustrate books with a toddler hanging on her most of the time!
What cool stories have you heard from your readers about their adventures?
Most of the coolest stories are about discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary just beyond our doorstep or noticing the nature around us at any moment. Positive reviews and kind personal notes keeps me going. A mom recently wrote to me that she didn’t realize how much time her children really wanted to spend time with her, and they would ask her for fifteen minutes outside together every day. Kids meet PJ and they immediately want to cut him out and take him outside. He is a playmate who understands them in every way. I have wanted every child to find something in PJ’s Backyard Adventures that excites them, and I am in awe of seeing this dream come true.
Lynne again! Rebecca’s books, PJ’s Backyard Adventures :Who Is PJ?, PJ’s Backyard Adventures: Play at a Paris Playground, and Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect With Your Kids are available on Amazon by following those links. And I did receive copies of both PJ books (the Paris one to test and the first one later) but everything that I said about them is absolutely my opinion. They are wonderful books. And encourage us to spend more time outside. And they will do the same for you? Hey, what are your favorite things to do outside with your kids?


Things Not to Take Your Toddler’s Word For

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

Ah, toddlers. Every day they learn more, and gain more confidence in their capabilities, so much so, that they will declare to you their fitness to do new things. Sometimes, you need to step back and guardedly let them spread their wings. Other times, no. Below are some of those second kind. Don’t trust your toddler when:

They offer to cut your hair


When they want to drive your car. Even when the insist that they DID learn that at preschool.


When he says that he is in fact Ironman and Ironman doesn’t need naps.

He was Nick Fury once though.

He was Nick Fury once though.

When he says that he can slice his own apple. With a regular knife.


When he offers to call someone for you, since he can’t read and my husband’s at work number is not 445 6+= @@@@@@@@@@


When he says that he can carry a watermelon. He used to be a baby. He is NOT Baby from “Dirty Dancing”.

He wants to get stuff down from you off of a high shelf. I don’t want to even think about what his plan was for that.


If the internet goes out and he says that he can fix it. No.

When he insists that you will change your mind about him having a second lollipop. Go with the thing in your brain that says, “No, I won’t”.

Never gonna get it never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it, never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it never gonna get it Never gonna get it, You'll never get it

Never gonna get it never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it, never gonna get it, NEver gonna get it never gonna get it
Never gonna get it,
You’ll never get it


This is not a comprehensive list. What do you parents/caretakers/aunts/uncles/posse of toddlers have to add to it?


I am not a fat girl, or The Fitness Benefits of A Large Man Yelling At You

by SweetMidlife
leslie and victor

This is my friend. He loves me enough to yell when I am mean to me. This is a good friend.


“You have to cut that mess out!”

I am running up the steps of a fancy outdoor mall, on the ascent of my second of five trips up and back. And there is large, black-clad man standing at the top, his eyes wide, arms above his head in emphasis. He is serious. He is not playing.

And I’m not gonna lie – It freaks me out a little. But because Victor is my friend, and my trainer, and I am paying for him to make me run up and down the steps, I keep toward him, admittedly wobbly because we’ve been at this for a few minutes and stairs hurt, and because I know I need whatever is coming. I can’t even breath right now, so I can’t muster more than a half-nod and a huffed “OK.”

What Victor is mad at me about – and what I should be mad at me about –  is my self-deprecating tendency to call myself fat. Or old. Or something. And it is true that I am…more robust that I was when we met, back 25 pounds ago when I even thought I had weight to lose then, and that I am like ten years older, but isn’t that a gift to be. I do it because I keep remembering what I used to look like, what my knee used to feel like, how easy this used to be or at least how easy my self-deprecation tells me it used to be (NOTE: This was never ever easy, even when I was all relatively hot and stuff.)

I also admit, when the stairs are done and we are taking a nice recovery walk, that I do that as a way to say I’m fat first before anyone can say it first. I know it’s messed up.

So does Victor.




Apparently, yeah. I’m not alone, either, the people – probably mostly women – who think they can motivate themselves to change by bullying themselves, not in a “Girl, you better do this” tough love way, but the way an actual bully who hates you and wishes you harm would do. Like you’re worthless. Like you suck.

I do not suck. I am worth being out here on these steps so early in the morning, watching my mother wheel my kid at a leisurely pace around the square in a non-sweaty fashion. Those people make me worth it. If I am not worth being healthy, being happy, why am I here? And what makes me think that if I find reasons to hate myself at this weight that I won’t find more reasons to keep slagging myself?

So I’m done. I don’t need to pretend that this body is my ideal because it ain’t. But I can tell myself that it is strong enough to get me up the steps, that it physically carries another human being to bed when he’s sleepy and kicky and weird, that it calms him when he is scared and cranky and ready to cause mischief. That it is worthy because it is mine.

Thanks Victor. I got it. And if I lose it, feel free to yell. I can take it.

Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!

by SweetMidlife
Us, Some years ago.

Us, Some years ago.

Howdy! Lynne here.

As you know, this blog is written by a pair of twin sisters: Leslie, who lives in Florida, and Lynne, who lives in Maryland. The idea was that we would trade off in writing duties,so you could get to know us both through what we post. We are a lot alike in MANY things, but also have unique styles in writing and also in how we see other things, being different people and all. What has happened in reality, though, is that we haven’t always been consistent in writing all the time, and that you have seen glimpses of who we are as we tell the stories of us, but we don’t know if you really know us as well as you could and stuff. You seem to like us when we actually DO write, and you have reached out to us in good times and in really awful ones, as you did when Leslie lost her husband this summer. Really. You guys have been amazing.

So, we will continue to write from our own experiences: me as a wife and mom who is mostly at home but also starting her own business; Leslie as a now-single woman who has a full-time job, is raising a toddler, and is also now sharing those duties with our Mom. Yes, my mom is either Uncle Jesse or Uncle Joey. And Leslie is Bob Saget.


We also want you to see more of who we are together, because this is why we wrote this blog in the first place, because this is how we live. We are each other’s starting points. So, we will be posting, hopefully once a week, side by side videos of the two of us talking and whatnot. We hope it’s funny. We hope it’s insightful. We hope we can figure it out, because as you see from a video we shot last week when we were both in the same place (my kitchen), we ain’t tech-savvy.

So we hope to see you soon! And for you to see us. We would like that.

A Killer Good Time at the Murder Mystery Company

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

Last Friday, I had fun, fun, fun Girls’ Night with my buddy, Dear Friend Elly. There was yummy food, funny entertainment, and I got to act really goofy, which is kinda my super power, and all of this went down thanks to the Murder Mystery Company. They offer both public and private presentations of their interactive murder mystery dinner shows all over the country. I love food. I am an actor. I like being entertained. There were so many wins here.

When you sign up for a show, you get a really informative email about the show that you will be seeing, as the particular shows and themes change every few months. The one we saw was called “Til Death Do Us Part”,about bad things going down at a wedding reception. The folks in charge suggest you dressing up along the theme of the show, so said you could even wear your wedding dress. I could maybe currently get my wedding dress up to my knee, so I wore my veil along with a regular dress, and decided that if anyone asked who I was, I would say that I was that wedding guest who tries to show up the bride by being a little spectacular. I thankfully didn’t have that at my actual wedding, but I have seen it done before. Yes.

So anyway, I drove the 40 minutes from my house in Annapolis, MD to see the Baltimore troupe at a Greek restaurant called Ikaros. There was street parking as well as free parking in the lot next door, and that is a big deal when you go places in the city. Elly was already waiting in line, so we were checked-in and pointed to the picture line, where you can pose for funny pics where you are strangling each other and stuff. If you get a Gold Circle ticket (kinda like the VIP level ticket), like we had, everyone in your party gets a copy as a souvenir. Otherwise, you can buy a copy. It actually turned out cute.



Then we were shown to our table, where our seatmates were a couple on a date. They were sweet people, and it was fun to meet some new folks while still being able to talk to the people you came with. A guy in a mullet wig and a t-shirt with a picture of a tuxedo on it came over, and introduced himself as “Bob”, the best man. Ahh, the show had kinda begun. He told us a bit about what was going to be happening later, and went around the table and had everyone introduced themselves.  Now, I am a veteran of dinner theater as a performer, and I have been an audience member at those types of shows where the actors are also your waiters, but when it’s time for the show, they get on the stage and do the show, and don’t interact with the audience in character. Not so much at murder mystery dinners, where you are expected to be a “detective” by asking the “suspects” questions based on clues that you get, OR where you are asked to actually play one of the suspects along with the paid actors in the show. Which is what happened to Yours Truly when “Bob” got to me last and said, “Your name is actually ‘Dr. Candy'”, and he put a doctor’s coat on me, and said that I would be playing one of the suspects in the show. I won’t give away the plot of the show, but someone dies. And a bunch of people could have done it. Yes.

Now, here is what I found out about murder mysteries: I believe that your good time is based on how willing you are to play along. If you just want to see a show, you might want to do something else. But if you are willing to throw yourself into it and just abandon yourself to the silly, like most of the people there decided to do, it is a big old treat.

So during the really delicious Greek dinner (bring cash to tip the really gracious waitstaff, who weren’t in the show), I got to look at a notebook full of info about my character, and I got prompted as to what to say to the “detectives” when they questioned all of the chosen suspects, me included (again, I think that there were maybe 8 or 9 audience members given name roles, while the paid actors helped out when we got confused). Then the interrogations begin, as people walk around the room and try to get info from the suspects, and we take fake money for them as bribes. Or not. You could actually just stay in your seat and let other people walk around and do the work and just eat and drink and observe if you want, based on your level of wanting to jump in. Whatever works.

So, by the end of the night, people vote on who they think the murderer is. Now, whether or not who we picked actually makes sense was of no importance. It was just fun. And at the end of the night, they gave out awards to the audience members who gave the best performances, and this happened.


I did explain later that I was actually a professional actor and such, so I felt like they could have given it to someone else, but they let me keep it. So YAY!!

If you are looking for an all-inclusive night of delicious food, fun entertainment, and the chance to exercise your inner “Cookie” from “Empire”, or whoever you wanna be, you should check out the Murder Mystery Company. This is the link to the Baltimore location, which is currently offering a 40% discount (don’t you love discounts?) , and this link takes you to the national site, where you can find a show in your area. It’s a fun night. You should do it.

We were given complimentary tickets to The Murder Mystery Theater Company show in order to review it, but the high opinions of it are completely real and my own. 

Have you ever been to a murder mystery night, either at a restaurant or at a party? Did you get all into it? 


Why I Won’t Be Calling You From the Car

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne.

A few years ago, the state of Maryland, where I live, made it illegal to drive while holding your mobile phone. This made a big impression on some, while on any given day, you can look at the car next to you and see people happily gabbing away with their phones up to their ears.

I have been one of those people at times.

I started off with such conviction. I powered up my Bluetooth speaker, and I put my phone where I couldn’t reach it. I promised my husband that I would obey the law, because safety and tickets and really the threat of death. It started so well.


Someone would ring me right when I was on the way out of the door, and I would say, “I’ll call you in the car.” Then I would realize that my Bluetooth wasn’t charged up. So I would have the phone on speaker mode, and put it on the passenger seat, or in my lap, or in my shirt (one of the plusses of having ample cleavage is that you can hold things in there. Yes I said it). So I would have my phone sliding down my boobage, and no one could hear me, and sometimes both the person I was speaking to AND me were on speaker, which means that it’s extra hard to hear, and your focusing on the conversation and straining and you are getting frustrated and then WAIT I missed my turn and yes.

I messed up the driving. Which should be the point.

I know that cup holders and drive-through restaurants and speakers and DVD players and in-car Wifi have made it so convenient to do work and catch-up with people and entertain yourself while you are on the road., which usually makes you a well-fed, conversational, comfortable bad driver. Because you are often distracted.

From driving.

On the show “Mythbusters”, they did a thing where the one guy was on a closed course simulating driving while he talked on the phone, first with a handheld phone, and then with speaker capabilities. And on both, he failed the test because his focus was split. This was really convicting, and my husband and I promised each other right then that we would not talk on the phone in the car, and if it was an emergency, we would pull over and take the call then.

And I have broken that promise, because I really needed to finish a conversation, or because I had to ask someone a question on the way to where I was going. It doesn’t matter why. I broke a promise that I agree with. Distraction is distraction.

And since I will be putting away my phone when I get int the car, I will also not be checking Facebook at lights, or looking down to see who just texted me. Not only is it dangerous, it is also illegal: they had undercover officers in MD last week posing as homeless people at stoplights, busting people for texting, even when they were at a light, because they were still in a travel lane.

This stuff is serious. And not easy. I am so used to checking my phone at lights that every time I stop now, I still make the motion of looking towards my phone as if I am about to check it. I feel like I NEED to know who liked the hilarious thing I posted before I got in the car. But unless people “unlike” it before I get to where I am going, I can bask in the public acknowledgement of my posting brilliance later. Because at the end of the day, the safety of me and those in and around my car is more important than my amusement, my ego, my need for immediate connection, and my entertainment.

So, I am pledging, again, to either have my phone in my purse when I drive, or if I am charging it up, to keep it as far away from me as possible. And I also promise to pull over if I need to call someone on the way or to visually check something on my phone. And I am not being haughty or smug about this. I am not. I have gotten physically anxious when someone calls and I am driving and I can’t reach my phone, since I am so used to doing that. But if I wait, I can focus on the road now,and on the call when I am actually somewhere that I can talk. And people like when you actually focus on what they are saying

So, if you call me and I am on the way out of the door, I hope you understand if I need to talk to you when I come home. And if you text me or message me on Facebook, you understand if I don’t get right back to you, even though that green light on Messenger tells you that I am on. I am not ignoring you. I’m probably just driving. I look forward to giving you my whole, full Lynne-ness when I get to where I am going.


Where my phone will be when I am finished taking this picture.

Where my phone will be when I am finished taking this picture.

The Sweet Midlife Guide to Traveling By Air With A Toddler

by SweetMidlife
Snacks. Binkies. Anything to get that toddler calm. But not whiskey on his gums like the old ladies have advised me, because I like not being in jail.

Snacks. Binkies. Anything to get that toddler calm. But not whiskey on his gums like the old ladies have advised me, because I like not being in jail.


Thanks! See you later!

…Oh, you’re still here. Wait, you’re serious? OK. We were only half serious about Rule #1, although we’d be lying if we said that this was ideal. Obviously, sometimes getting where you have to go involves getting on a plane, and sometimes, if you want to take your kid with you (or couldn’t talk anyone else into keeping them while you jet off to Whateverastan), you gotta go without a partner to help corral the wee one. You might be a single parent, as I now find myself, or just have to travel without your partner for at least some portion of your trip. Whatever the reason, this can be way, way stressful.

So stressful.

Toddlers are stressful when out of their element, overstimulated and way past nap time, even when you have help (See Lynne’s sad/funny story about her son, a plane trip and some poopy pants). So when you’re the only person there to carry, coordinate, wrangle and talk a crazed two-year-old down from a “NONONONOOOOO!!!” jag…let’s say this is not where vacation dreams begin.

I just got back from a similar trip mostly unscathed, and plan to do it again very soon. And I know I wouldn’t have made it back alive (or at least as sane as I claim to be) without following the below listed rules:

1) Do all your documentation, as much as possible, before you get to the airport. I cannot stress this enough. Check in online the minute you can. Print your boarding out, or download it onto your phone. Try to travel as light as you can, even trying to just do a carry-on if you can swing it with both of you, to save yourself from even having to stand in that Godforsaken line to check your bag. The less loose paper you have flying about stuffed in a nasty baby bag as you’re running through Security screaming “Where is your shoe? WHAT DID YOU DO WITH YOUR OTHER SHOE??” the better.

2) Try to figure out what you really need to bring, and what you can borrow or rent when you get there. This is smart anyway, but when you’re the only person who’s going to be dragging the stroller, car seat, luggage, baby bag AND the child (can’t forget him!), you’ll appreciate downsizing. This last weekend we were in NYC, and relied a lot on Uber, a company that, at least in that city,. provides car seats that are installed by trained drivers. So we didn’t need to bring our own. We did take the big stroller, but that can be rolled through the airport with all our stuff in the bottom basket for kind of a third hand, and checked for free at the gate.

3) Get help where you can. My mother has, lately, asked for gate passes on days she is not flying with us, so that she can physically help get us through security, carry stuff and stop Boy from climbing on the conveyor belt to make sure no one stole his stroller. (This happened. He’s paranoid. I told him no one wants his nasty cracker-dusted stroller. He did not believe me.) And this weekend, my sister is going to pick us up at the terminal and then drive us to the rental car facility, because I would never be able to get the stroller, car seat and actual bags on the shuttle by myself.

4) Bring the whole kit of wonders. Again, every toddler parent knows to be prepped with snacks, drinks, and whatnot, but when you are alone with that lovely ball of energy and crankiness, you must make sure that they’re…handled. Like Olivia Pope handles people, or at least like she did before she went public with the President, lost her mind and starting acting like a quivering chump. Distraction is key, so I came armed with snacks in tiny containers, those squeezy food packets he’s likely a little old for but which fill the belly with minimal mess, sippy cups, his favorite apps on my phone and extra binkies. At two we really wish he didn’t want binkies anymore, but they’re good for takeoff and landing to prevent the ear popping. And they keep him quiet. So quiet.

4b) Do not rely on wonders you cannot control. JetBlue has the FlyFi free WiFi and I figured that it would provide a chance for Boy to watch his favorite online videos, like that oddly hypnotic ChuChu TV with the little chubby animated children singing “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.” But the FlyFi was a no-go on our last flight, and so the increasingly frantic tug on my arm and little demanding slurry voice going “Hesholkneetoes! HESHOLKNEETOESSSSS!” was met with a lot of “Umm, that’s not working right now.” Toddlers care not about your petty technical difficulties. They are the Tim Gunn of people. They demand you make that thing work. And if you can’t, you sing that song to them yourself in the lowfi version and hope it does the trick till the snacks arrive (It did.)

5) Get there early. But not too early. Most airlines suggest being at the airport two to three hours before you leave. For us at the moment, this isn’t always possible considering nap time and the boy’s tendency to wake up at the most inopportune times. If we fly really early, he usually runs around the terminal before crashing on the plane (Crash good.) But sometimes we can be there too long, and he’s tired in the airport but awake and cranky trapped on a plane. It ain’t good. So know your kid, try to get them to get a good night’s sleep and hope they run it all out before you get on the plane.

Cold Turkey on the Cable. I’m Scurred, Y’all.

by SweetMidlife

Howdy. Lynne here.

At the end of this month, my family and I are joining the ranks of those thrifty folk who are cutting down on expenses by canceling cable and getting their television entertainment from an antennae for live network TV, and streaming services like Hulu and Netflix for everything else. And it’s making me nervous. Then I feel ridiculous about being nervous about it.

Because it’s just television, right?

I will say right now that I realize that this is like a fake problem: there are people who can’t afford a television, let alone cable,  and I know that we are blessed to even have this option. And we are doing this whole thing anyway to strengthen our budget and to not pay for channels that we aren’t watching. Plus, we spend too much time, and by “we” I mean “I”, on flipping stations just to watch just ANYTHING to fight off boredom, when I could be writing, or talking to friends. But I have found some really amazing things I never would have seen if I hadn’t been flipping, like a concert by the band OneRepublic, who I didn’t realize, until that moment, sing all of the songs you have ever heard ever in the world. And I liked it. I felt like it was a discovery. It was like when we first got cable in 1987 and watched “Vision Quest” like 10 times in a row just because we could. Matthew Modine! Madonna singing “Crazy For You”! Lots of curly perms. It was a feast for the senses. Ahh.

And when we got Netflix last month, I actually reminded myself of that, because I spent hours searching for non-threatening movies about pretty people falling in love where hopefully no one died, because I needed some happy, and I so want to tell you about this one movie I watched half of before I realized that the very beautiful character played by a very beautiful male actor that I like a lot was probably going to die because everyone was too happy and he had vengeful family members who never settled their score with him from 20 years earlier, so I went on Wikipedia and spoiled myself, and I got rid of that madness from my life. I won’t tell you what movie it was because you might want to see it but write me in the comment section if you want to know. Because seriously.

Wait, where was I? Hey, that actually shows you that it doesn’t matter from what buffet of televised entertainment you feast: you can still spend too much time gorging on it. I don’t feel bad about the fact that I love TV. I don’t. Nope. Love it. It’s a great release of energy, and a great escape. But if I don’t watch it, and all I do IS watch IT, then I am missing out on a bunch of other stuff, like eating and writing and working on my business and also talking to my child and husband, who are here somewhere.

So, in a few days, I will say goodbye to the 4 hour block of “Diagnosis Murder” reruns that comes on the Hallmark Mysteries and Movies network every weekday afternoon, and I love you Dick Van Dyke and Dr. Jesse Travis, played by Charlie Schlatter, who actually favorited a Tweet I wrote about my love for that show, and I will be missing all of the 65 new Christmas movies on Hallmark Channel that are filmed in Canada in June but are supposed to be in Wisconsin in December but nobody is wearing a coat, and I won’t see what my DVR recorded every night as a suggestion based on what we watch regularly. And it’s usually a lot of Law and Order, Caillou episodes, Japanese cartoons, and shows on HGTV where people fix-up their houses.

And that’s okay!

Because I will get to still watch many of the shows that I watch and love on Hulu and such and be actually proactive about what I watch, and I will still get to make discoveries of new things that I haven’t watched yet. Because it’s still up to me to regulate how much getaway time I have, so that cleaning my house and talking to people isn’t the getaway time from my TV watching. And we will save money.

Okay. I feel better now. Okay, gotta finish up so I can get other stuff done today so I can clean my living room when “Diagnosis Murder” comes on today, so I can clean and watch. It will be okay.

So how about you guys? How many of you have given up cable to go the streaming route for your television? Have any of you done it and gone back to cable?

I will survive. Hey, hey.

I will survive. Hey, hey.

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