Questions To Ask Before A Playdate: Do You Own A Gun?

When arranging my kids’ playdates, I never ask the question – “Do you have a gun in your house?”

But I’m beginning to think I should start asking that question. Though I imagine it to be an awkward conversation, it is without a doubt, an important one.

One reason I think I need to begin asking is because my 6-year old came home from school last week and announced that a friend in his class told him that his dad has a gun. In their house.

Wow, I thought. Here’s another parenthood challenge to deal with. Guns.

I have repeatedly expressed my feelings about guns to my two children. Personally, I think guns are dangerous. I think guns are unnecessary. Without going into a debate about guns and the 2nd Amendment, and how guns are used for hunting and safety and whatever else you choose… I still personally think that guns should be off-limits to most people.

I’ve made a point of not having toy guns in our house. Nerf guns, water pistols, BB guns… No gun-like toys. Nothing that “shoots”. Please don’t think I’m depriving my kids of any fun. They have plenty of toys, just nothing that will make them think that guns are cool. And definitely, no toys that glamorize shooting another person.

So when my son received a nerf-type shooting gun for Christmas this year (not from Santa!), I was very surprised that he immediately ran around the house shooting at everyone while yelling, “you’re DEAD”!  “Put your hands in the air – BANG, you’re dead”.  He didn’t shoot the target included with it, but instead, he was shooting people. In the head.


Photo Credit: The Washington Post

That’s when we had a sit-down conversation about what a real gun actually does. And what “dead” really means, and just how dangerous real guns can be.

And that is when my son told me about his classmate’s announcement.

Sidenote: This is a great time to add that I am a very non-judgemental person. If your family has different beliefs than mine… great.  I don’t think any less of you. I respect everyone. But the safety of my children is non-negotiable. And do I want my kids exposed to a potentially deadly weapon that may look like a toy? That they may think is “cool”. My answer is a big NO.

My son’s announcement was honestly the first time I thought about the fact that my kids could potentially go to play at a friend’s house and have a horrible scenario occur. “Hey, let’s look at my dad’s gun… I know where he keeps it.” Or, “let’s play with my dad’s toy gun”. Because even scarier is that some guns are actually designed to look like toys. Unbelievable, I know. But true. Take a look here.

I am well aware of the fact that the combination of kids & guns has resulted in countless tragedies. So my recent realization that kids are intrigued with guns has made me realize that it may be necessary to ask potential playdate families – “Do you have a gun in your house?”, and “If you do, is it securely locked up?”

Awkward as that conversation may be, my children’s safety is the priority.

I’m curious… What questions do you ask before your children’s playdates?

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The Kids Who Should Have Been There: Sandy Hook 3 Years Later

A couple months ago, my 4th grader played a soccer game against the 4th grade Newtown, Connecticut soccer team.

Newtown, Connecticut.  Our neighbors. It’s a beautiful and charming New England town. Also the home of Sandy Hook, where one of the country’s worst mass shootings occurred. Sadly that’s how the world knows Newtown now.

Being a mother of a first grader at the time of the tragedy, and also having friends in Sandy Hook who knew many of the affected families… that day hasn’t left my mind much in the past 3 years. I have experienced so many moments of incomprehensible disbelief.  The “why’s” and “how’s” and the other thoughts are often on my mind as I watch my daughter grow up, knowing that a group of her peers weren’t able to. There are really no words though “heartbreaking” comes to mind often.

I remember my daughter’s 1st-grade class gave an end-of-the-year performance the Spring following the tragedy, and it was sandyhook-heartheartwrenching. All I thought about, watching the children in her class, was that sweet 1st-grade class in a nearby town. Stolen from their families.

That soccer game on a recent sunny September afternoon was heartbreaking once again. The Newtown 4th graders, some of the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School, played a soccer game against my daughter’s team. I kept my sunglasses on that afternoon because I couldn’t stop the tears, thinking about the kids who should have been there that day. I felt such sadness. 20 precious children who were never given the chance to make it to 4th grade. To play with their friends, to live full lives. The unfairness of it was crushing.

So today, I want to honor those children who should have.  They should have been able to do it all, but they can’t because they were taken from this earth, far too soon.

Rest In Peace.. #SandyHookNeverForget






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16 Fun PG-Rated Ideas For Your Elf On The Shelf

Holiday season is officially here. Which means if you have children, your ELF has returned!

We’ve had an elf for the past 8 years. “Snowflake“. Named by my daughter when she was 2. Last year I lost Snowflake. I completely forgot where I had hidden him after the previous Christmas. I hunted and searched and just couldn’t find him.

So I decided to post on my town Facebook page, asking if anyone had an elf to spare. Luckily, a very nice mom replied. She said that just like me, she had lost their elf the year before and had to buy a new one, only to find the original one soon after. She offered theirs to me for free. I was so grateful since my kids were beginning to get very nervous about why the elf hadn’t returned yet.

So off I went… I picked up our new elf, hidden in a shopping bag on the other mom’s porch. I drove home feeling so happy. Planning in my head how he the elf would show up that night. Perfect!  Until, I opened the bag and discovered he had red hair and freckles and looked nothing like our elf, Snowflake. Nothing. UH OH.

So… I made up a story.  A good one. Our elf, Snowflake had an accident. He broke his leg and couldn’t fly. So Santa sent us his cousin, “Snowball“. And the kids bought the story. With not a single question.

But wait a minute….

How did this whole charade, meant solely to encourage good behavior in my kids, turn into me, the mom – LYING??????

I had no good answer to this.

In some ways, I love Elf. He does encourage the kids to behave well. In other ways, I think he is a ginormous pain in the BUTT. He drives me and most parents crazy.

So how I have decided to compensate for that, is I try to have some fun with him too. Rather than let the whole idea of the elf annoy me, he now entertains me. That’s my advice.. make the elf fun for you too.

Here are some fun (but yes, they are PG-rated) elf ideas…


1. This is what happens when Dad is in charge of the elf!






3. Just lounging.



4. “Freeze – Don’t move!”



5. Elfie, the Pimp.



6.  No caption needed for this one.






8. It was a rough night.



9. “Argh, Matey”.



10. What are you going to do now?



11.  The cookies don’t look so tasty anymore.



12. “Go home Elf, we don’t want you here!”



13. Elf is a ladies’ man.



14.  Elf on a hot date with Barbie.



15.  The Elf of doom and gloom.



16. Remember, Elf can be VERY evil if you cross him.

bad elf on the shelf


P.S. By the way, I found “Snowflake” soon after “Snowball” showed up. How I explained that to my kids… is a whole other story!

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Tips For Regulating School-Age Children’s Use Of Digital Devices (Infographic)

If your children are like mine, then they probably use electronic devices more often than you’d prefer.  My kids have Kindles, iPads, iPods, iPhones, AND laptops. I try to limit screen time, as well as try to encourage the use of educational apps, rather than letting them watch TV shows or movies on their devices. It’s not an easy thing to monitor.

The digital world in which kids are growing up now, presents many new challenges for a mom who didn’t even own a computer until she was 20!

So if you’re like me and aren’t sure how to regulate the use of digital devices by your school age children, this recent survey is very helpful. Thanks to Stop Procrastinating for sharing. Some interesting facts were uncovered as well as some very handy tips. I know I would benefit from a regularly scheduled “digital detox“, so I’m sure my kids can too!

Take a look…

parental controls
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Is “Guarding The Bathroom Door” A Chore Worthy Of Payment?

I had a rare moment of privacy in the bathroom this morning. Rare because I was alone in a bathroom, for the first time in probably 9 years. Between the kids, the dogs, the cat, and the husband… I am never alone.

My peace and quiet lasted only a minute though, interrupted by an urgent banging on the door.

I said, “Yes? What’s the emergency?”

It was my son. He yelled that I owe him $1.

One dollar, huh? “For what?”, I asked.

“For doing a chore. I am leaving you alone in the bathroom, and not letting anyone else in. So since I am helping do something for you, I earn a dollar”, he explained.

“So can you pay me now?”, he said.

Hmmm. Pretty logical for a 6-year-old. Smart too. If I was able to choose my chores, I’m pretty sure I’d pick “guarding the bathroom door for mom”, over scrubbing toilets too!

This isn’t the first time he has tried choosing easy chores. Last week he overheard me asking where my phone was, and he ran and found it and brought it to me, completely excited. I said thank you to him and he stood there, like a bellhop waiting for a tip! He then actually asked for his $1 for his “chore”!

I should add that we have a good chore system. Each kid has regular weekly chores that are their responsibility for chores2being a part of the household. No pay is given for those. But once those are completed, I give them the option of doing additional chores to earn money. $1 for each. And as you might have noticed, my son has gotten slightly carried away with trying to find more chores to do to earn money!

I’m proud he is already an entrepreneur at such a young age. But it has made me realize we may need to go back and repeat our Chores 101 class because he missed part of the point.

I think he definitely understands the “earning” part but he may need a refresher on the definition of a “chore” part.

But hey, it seems like I am not alone…


How do you handle kids’ chores in your home? Do your kids earn money for their chores?  I’d love to hear other moms’ systems for teaching kids about responsibility.


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What Does Your Super Hero Look Like?

Super heroes are so cool.

My son is at the age where he loves them and totally wants to be one. Having a super power would be awesome to him. I completely get it. I mean who wouldn’t want to be able to see through walls, jump over buildings, teleport, have super speed, breathe underwater, or fly? Any power would be so cool!

So I was super excited when I found this game by DC Kids called “Super Hero Me”. Your child can create their ultimate super hero with a fun name, look, powers and more! How awesome is that? My son loves it. The first super hero he created was the GREEN HAWK, who has the super power to FLY! He completely designed him. Check him out…


Try it for yourself, and you will see how fun it is. Click here to create your own super hero – DC Kids Games | Super Hero Me.

Also, check out some of the amazing new videos and games from Warner Bros, including favorites such as Scooby Doo & Batman Unlimited .  My son LOVES the “Shaggy Midnight Snack” game!

And, don’t forget their YouTube channels. There will be many more updates over the next year, so make sure you subscribe to their channels. I subscribed last year and find that it’s so handy for entertaining my son when he needs it (when we are out at a restaurant, waiting for the dentist, etc.)

Here are the YouTube links…

DCKids Channel

WBKids Channel

And wait! Before you create your DC Kids Super Hero, first enter this giveaway to win an amazing TOY BASKET….

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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How My TV Is Torturing Me. Hint: “Watch Me Whip / Watch Me Nae Nae”

I am being tortured by my television.

In my own house.

Tortured how, you might ask? By “Whipping” and “Nae, Nae’ing”. (Honestly, I’m not even sure what a Nae Nae is – I feel old).

I am sure I am not the only one totally sick of hearing the Silentó song called “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)”.

You must have heard this song by now. I actually liked the song for a brief moment. Very brief.


Photo Courtesy of ABC Television

Then the torture began. How?

First, ABC began using it for a Dancing With The Stars promo, which seems to air on ABC every 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it at first. It’s sexy. And catchy. And fun.

I am a loyal Good Morning America, Shark Tank, and ABC Nightly News viewer. Also, Modern Family is a favorite show of mine too. Come to think of it, I may be watching too much TV.

Back to the subject… as fun as the commercial is, watching ABC as often as I watch means I hear “Watch me whip, watch me nae nae. Watch me, watch me, watch me…” all day long.

Honestly, it’s the type of song that only takes one time of hearing it, to be possessed all day long by having it replay in your head. But hearing it over and over began to drive me CRAZY.


As if ABC airing their promo constantly wasn’t bad enough, to torture me even further, someone at Nickelodeon had the awesome idea of creating their own version of it. FOR KIDS!

While ABC airs their promo of it every 10 minutes, Nickelodeon airs it every 5 minutes. Maybe every 4 minutes. ALL-THE-TIME.

The Nick version is even better than the DWTS one. Instead of professional dancers whipping and nae-nae’ing, it features all the Nick characters “whipping”, “bopping”, and the best part?  Doing “The Wee Wee Dance”. “Watch Me Whip, Watch Me Wee Wee…”. Look, the poor guy really has to wee!


Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 4.51.42 PM

Photo Courtesy Nickelodeon & YouTube


Oh yes… they sing that!  Watching Silentó do the “Wee Wee Dance” is awesome.

If you don’t believe me, have a peek here. You can watch the entire Nick “Remix” of it. (I’m even laughing about the fact that they named it a “Remix” and look, SpongeBob has to WEE too!):



So now my kids are dancing and singing this ANNOYING song all around the house. As if they don’t yell “WATCH ME, WATCH ME, WATCH ME” often enough already. (Every parent out there knows what I mean). Now they are singing it at me!

I’m guilty too though… I caught myself singing it in the shower this morning. Then in the car. Also, while making lunch. At the grocery store. Walking the dog. UGH. The torture won’t stop. I’m possessed.


Worse! Guess what? I am assuming the song wasn’t being aired on TV often ENOUGH because I just saw this BRAND NEW promo for DWTS, starring the one and only Gary Busey.

Please, if you haven’t seen this… watch now! It’s short and I promise you’ll thank me for the chuckle.




Okay, this concludes my rant. Thanks for listening.

Now I’m off to Whip and Nae Nae. Or maybe just do WEE WEE.



P.S. By the way, I am aware a great solution would be to just turn off the TV. But then how would I get anything done?  GMA, while I pack the kids’ lunches, SpongeBob for the kids while I cook dinner. Basically, I’m stuck with it. So I have made peace with it. We need the TV.

The good news is that the next annoying song is right around the corner.




Which songs ANNOY you?  I’d love to hear so I can sing them all day long in my head again!

Some of my most annoying picks:

“Who Let The Dogs Out”

“What Did The Fox Say”

“I’m Too Sexy”

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

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Selling a House Is No Easy Task For a Parent

Parents have many obstacles to overcome while traveling the crazy road of parenthood. One of my obstacles was when we put our house up for sale.

My obstacle was… my family.

Attempting to move from New Jersey to Connecticut, our first step was to put our NJ house up for sale.  At the time, I had 2 small kids… one was a baby, and the other was a toddler.

I should add that I also had a messy husband, a dog, and a cat.  And a realtor who came over and told me, “It would be great” if I could keep all the doggie nose prints off my window and the toys hidden. Oh and “Don’t be home when someone wants to look at the house”.

That may sound easy, but if you are a parent, you know it’s not.

I did my best to keep the house as neat as I could.

More importantly, I prayed that we would sell the house QUICKLY.

Soon after we listed the house, I received a phone call from my realtor, saying that a prospective buyer wanted to come look at our house… right now. “Is that okay?”, she asked.

Wanting to do everything I could to get our house sold, I answered, “Of course”.

But that was a lie!  It was so NOT okay. Both kids were napping, I was folding 3 baskets of laundry in my pajamas, the breakfast dishes were still out, and there were definitely a lot of doggie nose prints on my windows.

So I immediately went into frantic mom mode. All you moms and dads know that mode well!

I ran around the house hiding all evidence we lived there (as was recommended by our realtor as well).  Thinking back, I’m guessing she didn’t have kids because she clearly didn’t understand what it was like living with them!

kid-sleeping-on-couchI then raced to my toddler’s bedroom where she was sound asleep. I woke her up gently, explaining we had to go out. I brought her downstairs to our living room and plopped her on the couch. She was still half asleep.

I finished straightening up the house, then grabbed my dog and put her in the car. I also quietly picked up the baby, who was still asleep and put him in his car seat.

I checked my watch. The people would be here any minute…

So I lifted up my sleepy daughter from the couch to bring her out to the car, and…


There was a huge wet spot was on the couch.

In the chaos of waking her and putting her in a new spot… she had fallen back asleep and accidentally peed ON THE COUCH.

I can’t remember, but I may have begun to cry at that moment. Or maybe I just laughed loud in a hysterical sort of way.

But then I pulled myself together. I needed to do something.

First of all, it reeked like pee. So I changed my toddler, wiped the spot as best as I could, sprayed air freshener on the couch. Then I put a throw blanket on top of it. I hoped no one coming over would actually SIT on the couch!

Then we left.

Having nowhere to actually go, I drove aimlessly around the neighborhood with both kids who were groggy and crabby because I had woken them up. I drove for the whole very slow, long, hour. Not fun.

After an hour of driving in circles, I went back home. And as I pulled the car in the driveway, my cell phone rang.

It was my realtor… telling me that the prospective buyers had canceled!  No one had come to our house. She said, “I’m sorry, they may come tomorrow”.

So… I had scrambled around… for no reason!

The giant pee stain settled for an hour on my couch…. for no reason!

My kids were miserable… for no reason!

I was miserable… for no reason!

It was a tough lesson learned. But I learned it. From that moment on, I decided my house would remain as “lived-in” as it really was! No more added chaos needed! Babies, dogs, messy husbands and all. Take it or leave it. If you want to come look at my house, you’ll see it as it is.

And guess what? Our house sold in two short weeks. So I guess those doggie nose prints and couches full of pee-pee  and kids’ toys, were actually all okay!

Do you have house buying or selling story to share?




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How Moms Really Feel When Summer Is Over

Summer is over. Maybe not officially over, but at our house, it feels like summer has come to an end since school started this week.

I have mixed feelings about the summer coming to an end.

The good mom inside me feels sad that the endless, sunny days with my kids have come to an end until next summer. We had several fun adventures throughout the summer. We vacationed at a lake, an amusement park and family farm, and also took many day trips. We had beach fun, swimming at our town pool, visiting aquariums, museums, and playgrounds. Each adventure, big or small, included wonderful moments full of memories for years to come. I truly wish I could freeze those moments in time. I am aware of how quickly the time while my kids are young, is slipping away, and I am trying hard to hang onto these days.

On the other hand, I feel… dare I say? A sense of relief. Yes, there, I said it. Relief. A giant sigh may have escaped my lips when the kids drove away on the bus on their first day of school. I may have even said “PHEW, we made it” out-loud.

I am sure I am not the only mom feeling this way when summer ends. Because in-between each memorable, special moment, are another hundred moments of all the other crap! The endless bickering between the kids, the sassy-talking, the disagreements over what we were doing that day, the late nights with the kids awake, oh… and the numerous comments I really didn’t need to hear (while I was trying my best to have a fun summer)…

~ “I’m so BORED”

~ “No, I am NOT going to the pool today” (I know, it’s a tough life when the pool is a bad option of things to do!)

~ “This amusement park is the worst place ever… EVER… EVER!” (said after tickets costing $69 each had just been purchased).

~ “You’re a poopy-head”, “No you’re a poopy-head”, “No, I’m not, you are definitely a poopy-head”. (And me yelling a sentence I never thought I’d say, “THE NEXT PERSON TO SAY POOPY-HEAD GETS PUNISHED!”)


Add all of that to a mom who works-from-home, and is trying to juggle her work while her kids are home all summer, plus the mom has a painful foot injury… It equals an end of summer “YIPPEE”.

This perpetually exhausted, sibling-squabbling referee isn’t apologizing for feeling that way either. I love my kids dearly, but too much togetherness is never a good thing. And that goes for every relationship. Time apart is invaluable. Each summer, I am reminded of that again!

So on the first day of school this year, I admit I was a little teary-eyed watching the bus pull away, feeling sad our endless days have come to an end for the year. I was thinking about all the fun we had and wishing it wasn’t over.

But… I will also admit that I might have done a very small, tiny, yet very fun… HAPPY DANCE!


Any moms or dads out there feel like I do? I’d love to hear your end of the summer stories. Do you say “PHEW”, or are you sad it’s over?





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The Many Definitions of “Mother”

What is the definition of a “Mother”?

Is it a woman who gives birth to a child?

A female parent?

A woman who nurtures, encourages and loves unconditionally?

A woman who adopts a child and raises that child as her own?

A woman who marries into a family with children and raises them with love and guidance?

Yes, those are all definitions of “Mother”, “Mom”, “Mommy”, and “Mama”.

But the word “Mother” has several other meanings.

For instance, here are a couple of my favorite definitions:








That one is a favorite of mine.

Once you are a mom, you get the honor of experiencing the never-ending public embarrassment that comes along with that title.

Pretty much on a daily basis I find myself hiding my face, slinking out of a store, sweating profusely in humiliation, or apologizing to everyone in sight. The list goes on and on.

Before children can talk, moms’ embarrassment is usually not the kids’ fault. It’s usually due to something like projectile pooping in public or screaming during an entire church service. Something the kids can’t avoid doing.

But once they can talk, the fun, I mean humiliation, increases tenfold.


* I’ve had the color of my underwear announced in public.

* One of my kids once pointed to a woman at the library and said, “Oooh, look. She has a baby in her belly”… uh nope, she didn’t.

* One child announced at the grocery store that my boobs are “so fluffy”.

* At a restaurant, my other child asked me loudly whether the waitress was a boy or a girl (I should add it was while the waitress (not waiter), was standing right in front of us taking our order and turning very red).

* Another time, one kid saw a priest in town and asked him why he was wearing his bathrobe outside.

* My favorite… at a clothing store, one of my kids pointed to the lady next to me and said, “Mommy, look how giant her butt is!”.

O-M-G. – I literally ran out of the store that day. AFTER I mouthed “I’m SOOOOO sorry” to the lady with the giant butt (in my child’s defense, it actually was very large).


Never in my life, before I had children, had I been subjected to such feelings of embarrassment on a daily basis. I became scared to go out in public with my kids, for fear of what they would say.

The only thing you can do as a mom is to give it a little time.

I promise it gets easier. Once the kids are old enough to reason with, they do understand the concept of saying things quietly. They also understand about saying only nice things out-loud.

But oh man. There are a few crazy years when whatever they are thinking, just comes pouring out of their mouths. They are full of honesty. They say what they think, whenever they think it. With no filter.

And that is a very tough time for moms.


Next time you are somewhere and a kid points at you and says, “Hey, that lady’s hair looks like a bird’s nest!”, or “Mommy, is there a baby in her belly?”, please have sympathy for that kid’s mom! She is dying of embarrassment. Crumbling inside. Have some pity and tell her it’s okay.

She will really appreciate it.

I speak from experience.


All joking aside, the most accurate definition of “Mother” is this one:



It’s not always an easy title to live up to, but the rewards that come along with the humiliations, are well worth it!

♥ Cindie


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