with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: friendships

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.

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? 


Protecting What’s Important

by SweetMidlife


Lynne here. Hope you have been good, friends. We are hanging in there. Leslie sends her love and her thanks and she wishes she could hug you all for all of the prayers and well-wishes that you sent her way. Her arms would be tired. But she would love it.

So last Friday, I lost my laptop. Like, it’s gone. It was most likely swiped when I either left it in my driveway as I loaded my kid and our individual stuff into the car, or when it maybe fell off the trunk where I may have placed it when I drove away. By the time I realized that it was not in the car, and I drove home to look for it, it was gone. I filed a police report, and looked at the one other place outside of my house that I could have left it, and I even walked up the street 3 times in case it had really sailed off of my car. But it was nowhere to be found. And while we changed our passwords and such, and some stuff was saved elsewhere, there is a bunch of stuff that I didn’t back up, like several original plays I was working on. And that is not a source of joy, my friends. I was telling this story to Best Friend Maria yesterday. While she was on a family trip out west this past summer, the hard drive to her laptop died, and she lost all of the pictures and documents and whatnot that were on it.  When she called the guy from Apple support, he asked why she didn’t have her stuff backed-up to the iCloud, and she told him that she hadn’t wanted to pay the fee. “But it’s $1.99 a month! That’s $24 a year!”, he said. And she laughed as she told me the story and said, “Why don’t we take the time to protect the things that are really important to us?”

And that, my friends, was the perfect quote for this post, one that I have been trying to write in some form or fashion for a few weeks. Losing somebody blows your world up, and it makes it shockingly clear that life is short and in need of enjoying while you got it. I am not suggesting that you leave your family and responsibilities and live in your neighbor’s backyard. I AM saying, though, that it makes you take stock of what is valuable to you, and then makes you want to work those things. And your family would find you if you moved to the yard next door anyway.

Now, when I read things like what I just wrote, I know that the writer of said thing is trying to get their readers to be more free and live. I, however, get overwhelmed by that. “Why is this person trying to get me to be better? I am fine here watching my reruns of “Diagnosis Murder” for 3 hours a day (this may or may not be an example from my personal life. Guess.)” Change and taking stock are not always fun. Well, wait. Figuring out what’s really dear to you isn’t all that hard.

1. Think about your commitments, whatever they are, and if you want to keep those commitments.

2. Doing whatever you need to do to enjoy those commitments, even if you have to get rid of other stuff you like to do.

And this is the hard part. Over the weekend, I was driving home from rehearsal for the play I am directing with the most talented young people in it, and I went through downtown Annapolis where I live, and I realized that the sun was out and that people were actually enjoying said sunshine by doing outdoor things with their families. “This is awesome”, thought I. And I walked into the house and suggested to my husband that we should take the day off from church the next morning and have a family morning, and go downtown ourselves. We could look at boats, and we could go to the weekly farmer’s market they have, and we could basically focus on us.

And while we were down there the next morning, I had to physically restrain myself from pulling out my phone and checking Facebook to see what that person said about that thing, or to take pictures of the good time I was having (which I was), or to tell people about the good time I was having.

I was having a hard time focusing on having the good time. And that takes away from the good time for my family, and for me.

So there are no pictures of us while we were out, because I decided to be present for it. It’s not that you can’t do both, but I can’t always, and we are talking about me, so no judgment on you if this is an easy thing for you to do. I need lessons.

All of this to say, and I have said it before in other posts, but I need to work on protecting and enjoying what is important to me. You can’t get back the time that you didn’t spend with people, or the health that you didn’t take care of, or the day that you didn’t off to watch an afternoon of Hallmark channel movies because that is what your soul needed right then. And I am not saying this to make you feel sad or guilty or that you need to be writing a chart of all of the things you should be doing. Nope. It can be a small step. Like just calling somebody. Or not checking your phone when you are on a date or out with a friend, unless you are checking to see if your sitter called. Not because you posted a cute picture of your cat or your kid 5 minutes ago, and you know that people better be recognizing how cute it was in the way of likes.

Your cat picture isn’t going anywhere. Your time with your peeps is.

Be present.

Focus on what is really important to you.


After we got home from family day.

Thank You, Mommy, For Taking My Laptop Cord

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

I have been planning to write this post for a few weeks, which is when this happened, but I kept putting it off. But in the light of the massacre in Charleston a few days ago, and in the need of some happiness, and some hope, it seemed appropriate.

So, it started when my mom was here for my son’s birthday. There was cake. There was ice cream. There was lots of laughter.

The boy in the fireman's outfit my mom got him.

The boy in the fireman’s outfit my mom got him.

Then my mom had to go back home, which is boo. She sometimes leaves things behind, so she was determined not to this time. And she took my laptop cord AND hers back to Arkansas.

So when she figured it out, she over-nighted my cord to me. But it didn’t get right to me.

The package once it came home. But we aren't there yet.

The package once it came home. But we aren’t there yet.

Thank you Postal Lady, for thinking misreading our address. Because the package ended up at a neighbor’s house.

Thank you Mommy, for putting my phone number on it, so that the neighbor knew how to get in touch with me. And also, thank you United States Postal Service for charging so much for overnight delivery, because it made my neighbor want to find me that much more because of how much Mommy paid. But thank you, USPS, for delivering overnight at all. It’s a quality service.


And thanks to my neighbor for calling me, and thank you to me (you’re welcome, Me!) for answering the phone, because at first I thought it was a robocall or something because I didn’t know the number. But thank you to the neighbor for being neighborly.

And that is really the takeaway from this. We have lived in this house for almost 4 years, and I have never had a conversation with this lady. And she pretty much lives right across the street. When we first got here, I had this idea that I would go around to everyone on our racially-diverse block with cookies and a note that said “Hi!”, and well, the only cookies that I have made have gone in my family’s mouths pretty much. I do know our next-door neighbors pretty well, and I know the lady next to them enough to say hi, and I know the elderly couple in their 90’s next to her. I know that the husband drives his wife across the street to get her hair done by a neighbor, who turns out to be the lady I just met. And I said, “We’ve been here for four years”, and she said, “I know!”, and she said, “I heard that house was so nice inside!”, and I commented on her mailbox that is in the shape of a house that looks like her actual house, and how I always loved it. Which means that for all this time, we have known things ABOUT each other, but not taken the time to actually know each other.

We think that we know people’s full stories, when we only know pieces of things, and we make decisions about who they are based on half-things. And sometimes those are benign conclusions, like we drew, and sometimes they are negative ones, and we are running with ideas based on nothing but observations grounded in guesses. And that can lead to the toxic level of distrust of the “Other” that we have in this nation.

So my neighbor and her husband and I talked for a good 20 minutes while my son ran around her yard, and we both decided that there needs to be a neighborhood cookout or something this summer, and I hope this happens. But I know that I walked back across the street feeling good, and also feeling sorry that it took this long. But I hope that we can get to know each other, one cookout at a time, one wave across the street at a time. Nope. We need to MAKE this happen. And it all started because my mom took my laptop cord. I hope that the desire just to know people will be enough one day.


The cord that started it all. And my mom's apology, which is what my son says when he does stuff "accidentally".

The cord that started it all. And my mom’s apology, which is what my son says when he does stuff “accidentally”.

Lessons From Fancy Dinners That You Can Apply When You Are Back To Your Kraft Mac and Cheese

by SweetMidlife

Hi ya! Lynne here.

The following is the account of one of the best meals of my daggone life. I am not exaggerating. But it is not a foodie review, because I didn’t know half of what I was eating at first. It is just an appreciation of seriously good eats.

Best Friend Maria, her awesome husband Taylor, and my Really Cute Husband AC went to Volt, a restaurant in Frederick, MD run by Bryan Voltaggio of “Top Chef” fame. We have been trying to go here for quite awhile now, and we even had reservations for my birthday in 2014, but my sitter canceled, and this is not a 2 year-old kind of place. No. He would have turned it out. So no.

So fast forward about a year later to last week and the yumminess that ensued.

Here are some pictures. I took a few but Taylor took most of them. Which was so nice of him to offer because that left more seconds for me to eat.

When we got to the bar, I got a drink with a banana dolphin in it! Best Friend Nikki said it looks like a slug coming out of my coconut cup. Dang tasty either way.


Then we were seated, and the banana dolphin joined us, and we all got the 6-course tasting menu. Now, I have done prix-fixe dinners before, and gone to weddings and banquets, so I have had meals that were done in courses. They bring you something, and you eat it. And then they bring you something else and you eat that. And so on. Shoot, if you get potato skins, then fish and chips, followed by a sundae at Applebee’s, then that would be a 3-course menu. But there is something about getting 6 yummy courses of crazy rich, decadent food and being able to savor each one, and really taste everything. I won’t share all of the courses, but here are some of them.




This was the raw scallops course. My husband was adventurous because he doesn’t do raw stuff and he tried it anyway. The rest of us loved it.


This is parsnip soup. And I actually had it for 2 courses because they brought one that I didn’t care for, and the server saw me kind of eating around it and asked what else I wanted and I asked for another bowl of this. It was smooth and crunchy and I want some now. NOW.



These are delicious meaty mushrooms that they let me order from another part of the menu because I don’t eat lamb.


This is the chocolate trio at the end. One was ice cream, the other one was ice cream-like, and the third was like the fanciest candy bar ever.

When we were done, we were stuffed, but not uncomfortably.

And it was like 4 hours later, but we didn’t feel like we had anywhere else to be.

We had amazing conversations with friends who I talk to every day on Facebook but don’t see face to face often.

And phones only came out to take pictures of the food, or to glance to see if children or the people watching them had called.

And I want to live like this all of the time.

Not that I have $95 to spend on dinner daily. That probably won’t happen for a good long while. Or maybe never. And I can’t afford to eat things this rich or decadent all of the time, or spend 4 hours eating dinner every night.

But I can pay more attention to the people who I see every day. Like my husband and my toddler. I can stop thinking about what will be happening when I get up from the table and listen to how my husband’s day was and tell him about mine and listen to the song that my song is singing to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” whose lyrics will include something about garbage trucks. It’s better than my internal monologue, which is usually “I am SO tired. Wait, what did your co-worker say? I wish I had cooked these potatoes longer. Is the dishwasher empty, or do I have to unload it before I reload? I hate that? Boy, you cannot have a lollipop. You didn’t eat your fish. Sit down. There’s no good shows on tonight with people singing. What, you have to get up and pack lunch now? Sit back down!”


And we can be more mindful of what we eat. I felt less full eating 6 courses of smaller servings than I do just eating my regular starch/protein/veggie meal every night. Yes, we had 4 hours at Volt, but we ate. And tasted. And put the fork down. And savored. And talked. And ate more. And put the fork down. And we savored. And enjoyed. And were thankful. And I think that we can apply that to your macaroni/baked chicken/broccoli you are having tonight.






Happy People. You can be that every night.

Happy People. You can be that every night.

RIP BB King: That time he helped put closure on my worst relationship ever

by SweetMidlife

bb king


Leslie here.

It’s kind of fitting that my husband, who is cool and nice and sweet and generally seems to like me most of the time, was the one to wake me up just now and tell me about the sad passing of B.B. King, blues pioneer, showman, diabetes awareness spokesman and namesake of a chain that sells the world’s best fried pickles. And that’s because although I’ll always remember him as all those things, he will also always be the guy who’s concert marked the bittersweet coda of the worst relationship I ever had.

I will not bore you with the details – let’s just say that I was younger, dumber and desperate to mean something to someone in a guy-girl situation, and this man was wrong, wrong, wrong for me, like big blinding billboard so bright you can’t sleep at night WRONG WRONG WRONG. But he liked me OK, and so that was close enough. Until it wasn’t.

There is a line from a Patti Griffin song that goes “Ain’t no talking to this man, he’s been trying to tell me so,” and indeed he did all the time. He used to break up with me all the time, sometimes to be cruel but mostly because he knew something I couldn’t see, that we were WRONG WRONG WRONG and toxic and incompatible and blech. This is the guy who was so wrong for me that one of my best friends used to make me take him to dinner every time I got back to together with that guy because “When you get sick of paying for my food you will stop going back to that guy.”

So after a lot of really gross breakups over maybe 8 months, dotted with too few oasis-like moments of happiness, or whatever fake carbon copy of happiness I’d settled for, it finally ended, to the and delight and relief of my friends, my daddy and my wallet, because I was getting sick of buying that one buddy dinner all the time. I think it started with him offering to help me move and not showing up, and then offering to come over for dinner that night and me sitting on the steps with the cordless (yes, a landline!) for an hour watching the car lights that weren’t his pass by until I knew I was just a cliche from an ’80s movie and went inside. Fortunately, I did not then sit in the freezing cold in my furniture-less living room in front of a giant and unexplained painting of Billy Idol’s head, because that would be weird.

And then I went to his apartment and begged him to talk to me and he wouldn’t even walk me to the door and I said “You’d walk a hooker to the door if only to make sure she didn’t steal anything, so I’m never coming back” and he was like “Don’t believe it,” and I was like “If I ever start to I will remember this moment you made me feel like less than a hooker and stop myself” and then Carly Simon started singing about running rivers and the new Jerusalem in my head and that was that.

That was, until I don’t know how long later…a couple months maybe…of judiciously avoiding each other at work, and he came over to my desk and said “Streeter, you wanna go see B.B. King with me?” And it was clear for both of us that this was not a date – I got the feeling I was his last resort, like he bought them for someone else and he couldn’t find anyone else to go. The show was in Philadelphia, about two hours away and I had a moment of panic – this was a person who made me feel as low as anyone ever has, with my permission, and I was a crazy psycho toxic person to him as well, and what would we talk about?

But then I thought about being an adult, and I remember looking at him across the newsroom and trying to conjure any attraction, any gasp of that craziness that used to make me throw all common sense and self-preservation to the winds, and…nothing. Maybe this is what being grown-up looked liked. I felt I had put it all behind me, but going to this show with him and getting through it without incident would be a nice coda. So I said yes, sure, and it was really casual, and we were both overly emphatic on the platonic nature of the event. It was so long ago I can’t remember a lot of it, but I know we had dinner, and there was a conversation in the car – I think sitting outside the restaurant? – in which somebody said “So we’re cool, right?” and the other one said “Yes” and there were apologies and nods and some brief wave of relief and the understanding that it would not be quite so weird for the rest of the evening, because we still had a whole concert and a ride home to get through.

The show was great, but long. I tend to fall asleep around 9, no matter what’s going on – friends call me Narcoleslie – and after Bobby “Blue” Bland’s set, and then BB, I remember nodding off, and the guy elbowing me during “The Thrill Is Gone” and saying “You are missing this and you better wake up.” So many years later, it seems to have been that he knew this was our final thing, and he had taken a gamble that we could do this as adults and not be insane and I was ruining the closure by falling asleep. I remember how impressed I was with King, because at that point he was already elderly, sitting down a lot. But he talked, and he laughed, and when he held Lucille and closed his eyes and wailed, I felt a jolt of genius and inspiration that kept me awake.

Until the ride home, where I nodded off probably immediately after the seat belt clicked. I remember the guy nudging me awake, parked across from my house, the one whose steps he’d left me sitting on like an idiot, and saying, jokingly but quite emphatically, “Alright, get out,” because he wanted to make sure that this was not our old dance, that we were not gonna kiss or hug or have some sort of anything that was anything other than a goodbye. The girly inth of me that watches too many movies was, even then, a little taken aback because that girly part likes being kissed goodnight, but the other parts of me wrestled the girly part to the ground and slapped her around and bound her in the corner until we could all get out of the car.

That was the last time we did anything just the two of us – months later we were part of a group that went to see a band in Baltimore, an hour away, and we talked about the girl he’d fallen in love with across the country, who he moved away to marry, and I talked about whatever loser I was losering with at the moment. And it was even more final, but more relaxed, and happy and goofy and something like friendship. It was a huge relief to me, a huge sigh, a thing to put behind me, which is weird because I didn’t usually deal with things that well.

That was it. But it wouldn’t have happened without B.B. King. Thanks for helping me act like a grown-up.

Trying To Raise a Friendly Toddler Who Is Not a Stalker

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

I am the mother of a very friendly toddler.

He has his moments, it’s true, when he would rather play on his own, like when people try to talk to him in the middle of his truck playing. He may or may not have time for you at that point. Often not. I am sorry when that happens. I encourage talking to people who are actually, well, talking to you. We are working on that. And he has his share of not playing nice with others, and has snatched toys from people, and I am sorry, and I know kids do that, but rude is not a good look on humans and we are working on that too.

But there are other moments when my child is the host of his own party that you didn’t know you were attending. Oh, you thought you were just playing at the train set at the library, minding your business, chilling with Thomas the Tank Engine. But my son will walk up to you, right up to your face and say “Hi!” It is the sweetest, most terrifying thing in the world. I love that he loves people, and that he wants to play with them. I know that this is him learning to navigate the social world, and getting out there to meet people is where that starts. But I know that kids, little ones and ones my age, can be mean. I can totally appreciate why having this little person with no sense of personal space (and I mean NONE. He gets rightupinyourface) can be startling, and I totally know that no one is under any obligation at all to be nice to my boy just because I want them to be. But he is so earnest and sweet, and I just want people to play with him.

And mostly they do. Which is all kinds of awesome. But I still sometimes walk around with my heart both in my throat, and also in the body of this beautiful boy. Because although I want him to have all the friends, I don’t want him to be your almost 3 year-old stalker.

Last week, we were at our neighborhood playground, and my son became the self-assigned welcoming committee. He went up to a guy who came in to sit on a bench and read the paper. The guy said hello back, but left after a few minutes. I guess it wasn’t the relaxing afternoon he was looking for. Then two teen-aged girls home on spring break came in and got on a swing, and my boy had the sudden urge to swing too, right at that moment. Now, having your mom push you on the baby swings while you yell at the young ladies next to you “Look at me INGING!!! I INGING!” may not sound like you have swag, but my kid doesn’t know that. And they were so sweet, and so polite, and they said hello back. After they left, a car pulled up with a lady and her 2 year-old daughter, and that is when the real party began. At least in his mind. He heard them say they were going to sit a the picnic tables, and he started pointing them out, and actually ran to them before they got there to wait for him. I didn’t want to barge in on this lady’s afternoon with her daughter, so I said, “Let them eat, sweetie”, but they were so nice and gave him a chicken wing. And he practically performed for them while they were still eating by climbing on the the monkey bars but yelling “I up so high!” to encourage them to end their lunch already and hang out with him. He climbed down and went over to the mom and said, “Come one!”, and I, horrified, told him to let them eat, and the mom sweetly said that she needed to stay with her little one. And after they were done, we all played together and had a cool song going on the plastic bongos, and slid sown the slide and laughed and it was all good.  But it didn’t have to be, because again, people have every right to set boundaries and decide that my kid’s dances aren’t cute, and I don’t want to be one of those parents that thinks that everything that their angel does is amazing because I can tell you now that it isn’t. And I don’t want to be a helicopter parent hovering but that is actually my job right now because he is 2, and I have to monitor everything and make sure he isn’t falling off of things or hitting people or running into the street or being rude to your kid.

This whole letting them talk to other people who could not like them thing is hard. And I know that it is a part of life. He will learn to navigate friendships and the like by going out there and being friendly to people, and I want to guide him as much as I can in the right way to do that, and also in knowing when to back off.

Boundaries are hard to teach, because I am figuring them out myself.

But I am in love and in awe of this outgoing, sweet person that I get to be Mommy to, and  we will keep on playing and greeting and smiling, and I will keep my heart where it is. In my chest. But also walking in front of me to the sliding board. Because it’s too late for that. It’s already his. And if we see you out sometimes, I hope you guys get to play together. But it’s okay if you are doing other stuff. But it would be nice.

Somebody play with me, please.

Somebody play with me, please.

Getting To Know Youuuuu: Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

by SweetMidlife

Hi there! We knew Leslie was awesome, but now MORE people know it! She was nominated for a Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award by the awesome Bekah, who writes a blog called “I Prefer My Puns Intended” for being, well. awesome. Here is how it works! Bekah sent Leslie and other bloggers that she recognized 10 questions to answer that lets the blogospher get to know her better, then in turn, Leslie nominates other bloggers that she likes, and asks them 10 different questions, and everybody learns stuff about everybody else and it’s a big old party. 

We won this.

Here are Leslie’s answers to Bekah’s questions (and you can learn more about Bekah here):

1. What is your favorite movie of all time?

I used to review movie full-time, so that’s a loaded and long question. But since you don’t have 30 years, I’ll say “Eight Men Out,” based on the true story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox, who threw the World Series for money. It’s a really great history lesson about greed, desperation, guilt and the very beginnings of American celebrity culture. It’s amazing to think how this same story would play out in the current Internet culture. Are we so cynical that we wouldn’t even care? Also, it features a lot of guys who were, after the film’s release in 1988, about to become pretty famous – Charlie Sheen, John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, David Strathairn (It’s a really cute cast.)


2. If you could have one job and not have to worry about money, what would it be?

I have it! I get to expound on pop culture and get paid for it, in my job as a writer for the Palm Beach Post in West Palm Beach, Florida. But I would do it for free.


3. Which recent photo helps you remember that you’ve still “got it”? Post that bad boy right here!

This picture, actually, is the source of some controversy. I have written a lot about body image and trying to get my groove back, and have been public with my readers both on our blog and in the newspaper about it. I attended a fancy-schmancy event at Mar-A-Lago, the private club that Donald Trump owns, with a dear friend, and found out that a photo was printed in my paper, which is rare because they don’t usually print staff photos at society events because I am not that important. Anyway, I really liked that photo, the first one in a year I didn’t squint at and go “Eww.” But a reader, who is a kind but nosy busy-body, actually emailed me to tell me that I wasn’t even recognizable, and was I well? That was a punch in the teeth, but our readers and Facebook friends lifted me right back up. (I’m the one on the middle in the pink scarf.)

Britt and me and steve


4. Do you have an author that helps you shape your writing style? Who is it and why?

Oh, wow, great question. Dave Barry! I probably cribbed from him liberally as a young columnist, and actually told him that. He says I owe him money. I owe him for his enthusiasm and humor. He turned goofiness into a Pulitzer.


5. You have an opportunity to spend with any celeb/public figure, alive/dead, who do you choose and why?

Marian Anderson, the late contralto, who was denied the chance to sing at Constitution Hall in D.C. because she was black. But then Eleanor Roosevelt arranged for her to sing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. How honored and scared and vulnerable she must have felt! People say celebrities are “brave” for leaving the house without makeup in sweatpants. THIS is bravery.


6. If you were a cartoon character, what would your outfit be? (In other words, if you had to wear one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?)

Yoga pants, my purple Baltimore Ravens tee and my old lady sandals for my bad arches. And rhinestone earrings, because being comfy doesn’t mean you can’t sparkle.


7. Other than your wedding day/the birth of your children, what was the best day of your life?

Meeting my nephew, Lynne’s boy, who looks just like my dad. He’s my special buddy love, and the most hilarious dude I’ve ever met.


8. Five years ago, where did you’d think you’d be today?

Pretty much where I am now! Married with an awesome kid who lives with us, with a great job still in an industry that isn’t doing awesomely but is trying to recreate itself with a lot of creative people moving mountains to tell a story.


9. Where do you think you’ll be five years from now? Hopefully in a bigger house with at least one more bathroom, in our same community, helping it get funkier and safer and more awesome. And with at least two books written, because I just can’t make myself finish them but have to.


10. What is your take on faith: necessity, commodity, or frivolity? Necessity. Period.



Now, we nominate…

1. Lisha of Lishaepperson.com because she is one of the most soulful writers we know, and one of our blog’s biggest encouragers

2. Pam and Terri of Housewives of Frederick County because they are also identical twins who hail from Maryland. WHAT??

3.  Dean from Mrs. Aok, A Work in Progess, because she is hilarious, and is one of the masterminds behind “That’s What She Said”, a great link-up

4. Jenny at The Unremarkable Files, because we love her take on motherhood!

5.  Arlett at Chasing Joy, because she is open, encouraging and really honest.

Here are Leslie’s questions for them!

1) If you had to eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

2) Literary or movie character you most identify with and why?

3) What historical or fictional person most inspired your fashion style, either now, or at some other time in your life?

4) What’s the last book you read? Did you enjoy it? Why or why not?

5) Tell about a time where going on faith made a difference, even if the facts of the situation said that might be crazy to do.

6) Reality TV: Guilty pleasure or just guilty…of being awful?

7) Describe a special talent you have (juggling, yodeling, doing tip calculations in your head).

8) Exercise: Pleasure, necessity or evil?

9) What’s your favorite word? (Doesn’t have to be in English)

10) Do you have any good friends either ten years your junior or senior? What have you learned from them?

The impending end of “Parenthood,” grief and “appropriateness”

by SweetMidlife


This is Leslie, and both my sister and I are dreading the end of our frustrating, exhilarating and ultimately emotionally binding stint as quasi-members of talky-talky fictional Bay area family the Bravermans, of NBC’s “Parenthood” (or as my husband calls it, ‘I just hate those people.’)

I don’t hate the Bravermans, a multi-generational, sometimes too-close band of brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, nieces, uncles, aunts, nephews, aunt’s boyfriends, niece’s rage-happy boyfriends and whatnot. I love them. And I include all of those relationships to point out the complicated and very realistic way in which the scripted family is connected, and how the actions and affections of someone you didn’t even consider yourself all that close to can impact your life, particularly if, like the Bravermans, you’re all up under each other all the time and don’t seem to have enough friends you aren’t related to.

Those sometimes painful but unbreakable ties, as in life, sometimes exhibit themselves in times of stress, as in last Thursday’s episode, when the Bravermans are gathered in what Lynne and I can tell you is the unhappiest place on earth – a hospital waiting room at some Godforsaken hour waiting to hear if your father’s going to live or not. And in that moment of overwhelming fear and dread – their father Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) has probably just had a heart attack – any other emotion that manages to edge its way into the room is welcome, at least for a couple of seconds before the clouds come crashing down when the doors swing open.

So as they’re sitting there, trying not to cry, sister Julia (Erika Christiansen) walks in obviously dressed in the outfit she was wearing the night before (She’s…reacquainting herself with her ex-husband. Without her pants.)  Her sisters and niece rib her about it, which to me seemed not only completely natural – these people are all up in each other’s business, after all, so of course they’d comment – but healthy, because it’s normal to not want to talk about your father possibly dying several hundred feet away.

So normal did it seem that the moment sort of went over my head, until I read the recap on EW.com, which I read faithfully. The writer, Michelle Newman, liked the episode but was bothered by the mid-tragedy jocularity – ” I get that it’s a natural instinct in times like this to try to deflect the enormity of the situation, but the gossipy nature of their conversation seemed inappropriate, no matter how much I wanted to know all the deets,” she writes.

I read that passage over three or four times, and then called my sister and paraphrased it for her. And as good a writer as Newman is, this made us wonder if she’s ever been in that waiting room, if she’s ever lost someone. If she has, and she grieves differently, no judgement. I hope that her method got her through, and that she is doing well. But we wholeheartedly disagree, like, a lot, that appropriateness has anything whatsoever to do with that moment. Not in the thick of things.

Look: An unscheduled walk of shame to focus on is a gift in this situation. Lynne and I are part of the sad Parental Loss club, but since childhood have been going to funerals, sitting vigil in waiting rooms and at bedsides, and, as of the death of my mother-in-law almost five years ago, sitting shiva.

And while I believe that it’s inappropriate to start stuff with your family in a moment of weakness, like, unrelated stuff that could wait, life continues even as Death prepares to ring the doorbell (Lord, I wish you could yell “We aren’t here!” and turn the porch light off until it goes dejectedly back to its car and goes away.) Babies will pee in the pew at the funeral. The florist will mistakenly but beautifully decorate the wreath from your cousin Chick and family “Chicken Family,” and everyone you are related to will laugh so hard that it’s painful, even as the rest of the mourners look at you like you crazy. Your father will miss Gladys Knight’s performance on “Dancing With The Stars” because he’s on his way to dialysis, and even though he needs the dialysis to live, he will grumble about it, because he was only watching this stupid show for Gladys.

Every single one of those things has happened in the past 30 years to us and I can tell you this – You do not stop loving, eating, peeing, laughing or being human in the middle of tragedy. Humanity is a gift in these cases, in those rooms. Humanity keeps you sane, or as sane as you can be kept, because you’re trying to scratch your brain out of your skull trying to keep it from chanting “He’s gonna die. He’s gonna die. Hey, Hoda’s hair looks nice! He’s gonna die.”

The Bravermans are not perfect. I do not understand some of their romantic or parenting choices, or entirely where their money comes from, or how moving from a giant rambling house with land in the expensive Bay area to an expensive big Victorian in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco is considered downsizing. I think, again, that they’d all benefit from having friends they aren’t sleeping with whose last names are not and have never been “Braverman.”

But I understand their passionate devotion, how they have never loved anyone more than each other while considering each the burr under their collective saddles. I understand how hard it is to extricate yourself from your family, even if you wanted to, and how sometimes you get all tossed together like an artisanal cranberry and feta salad, bumping against each other, and don’t even realize how good you go together until the spinning stops.

And I know that in those moments, I would not dare tell someone not to crack on their sister’s presumed previous activities, or their hair, or Hoda’s hair, or what’s on the front of the paper, or whatever worms its way into the room. Because I have been in that room, and know this: The pain that might be coming? THAT IS WHAT IS INAPPROPRIATE. It’s evil. It’s the Devil. It’s inevitable, maybe, but it sucks and it just feels wrong. Pain is interrupting your walk of shame, and Gladys Knight, and life, not the other way around. So if being a little tacky gets you through? You get a pass.

Old Person Poll: Is this parentally-cohabitating couple relatable or ridiculous?

by SweetMidlife
If you're living in someone else's house almost free, you better get to cleaning this, and the bathroom, and start dusting, and shut up about it.

If you’re living in someone else’s house almost free, you better get to cleaning this, and the bathroom, and start dusting, and shut up about it.

Leslie here! I have the day off, which gives me time to read stupid stuff other people are posting rather than work on my own novel, because doesn’t that make sense!

In my Web wandering I happened upon this XOJane “It Happened To Me” column by a young lady who, at 25, finds herself living with her boyfriend at his parents’ house. They’re “broke college grads” although it isn’t clear how much time has passed between now and college, and can’t find jobs lucrative enough to get their own place. So they’re enduring having to be really quiet during sex, and not being able to grope each other out in the hallway, and having to have the mom who lives there and pays the mortgage remind them to clean the bathroom.

Because it’s sad, you guys! If they didn’t live with his folks, they wouldn’t be able to pay their car payments.

And eat out at nice restaurants. And go on vacation. They’re practically living on the street! Can you imagine? They can’t help but spend their rent money on trips, because they’re Americans, you know?

Pardon me while I slap my eye out of my forehead because it rolled way up there and got stuck.

As many of the posters let this young lady know, many people, including both of the women who write this blog, have found themselves living with relatives in their young adult years – us, right after college – and find it sometimes a little hard to exert yourself as a grownup when you’re not making the house rules. And what those posters – and we – would have to say about it is this: Suck it up, save you cash and get the heck out as soon as you can, or thank the adults who own the house for their generosity, don’t eat out or go on vacay so you can either move out faster or pay even more rent, and then shut up about it.

Maybe that’s just me. What do you think?


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