Monday, June 22, 2009

Farewell Blogger

Turnitupmom is moving!  Blogger . . .thank you for gently introducing me to the blogosphere, and now, for setting me free!  

For a sneak peek, please visit me at

Thank you to all of of my readers who have jumped on board to crank up the music and dance! The best is yet to come . . .

P.S. Congrats to "Groovy Baby Blog," winner of the Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Gal Pal: Every Woman Needs One

I'm staring down at my toenails right now, speckled in remnants of "Oh So Glam" from the last wedding I attended.  Seriously, these nasty nails need some TLC.  Come to think of it, I could use a little TLC too.  

What's a girl gonna do?  Regis, I'd like to phone a friend.  A gal pal.  That friend who you call when you need a break and a little something to jazz up your day- a new pair of shoes, a foot massage, a cup 'o java.  At the beginning of flip-flop season, I always call my friend Ange: "It's pedi time!"  

It's the best of both worlds: girl bonding and pampering.  And the pampering begins with a "big" decision: Which color will define you for the next few months?  The search for the perfect shade is no small task, as it's never confined to mere color; the actual name is key.    Here's me over-complicating OPI nail polish colors: 

Makes Men Blush. Yeah, not feeling "hot" today. 
Room Service.  Forget room service.  How about a vacation?  A vacation would be nice.  
It's a Doozi, Says Suzi.  Sounds like this afternoon's diaper.
No Room for the Blues.  Like that name, but it's blue.  Can't look at that all summer. 
Twenty Candles on my Cake.  Dream on, honey.  
Kiss on the Chic.  Okay, that's sweet.  Hold that one. 
Senorita Rose-alita.  Oh, reminds me of that Phil Vassar song I love, about high school sweethearts.  Possibility. 
Your Villa or Mine? Villa.  I like that word.  Villa means vacation.  I'm noticing a trend here.  

And so it goes, until I'm forced to choose or Ange shares her polish (yet another reason why I love her).  Then, for an hour, I shirk my mommy responsibilities, sink into a sumptuous leather massage chair, and undergo the transformation to "Senorita Rose-alita." Meanwhile, my gal pal and I dish the latest news- in our lives and in People magazine.  Every woman needs one of those friends who she can call for a little escape- whether that's chatting over a cup of coffee, or under a nail dryer.  


Monday, June 15, 2009

Strawberry Picking

Last Saturday, we hopped in the big bad Subaru and headed out to the "country" for some strawberry pickin'. It started out like this: Daddy lead the way to an untouched patch of ripe, juicy strawberries. Two little feet followed close behind.

Then, we parked ourselves in a section of one aisle (notice the overalls are blue and white). We squatted down and inspected the berries, plucking the bright juicy fruits from their vines and plopping them into our basket. Well, sort of.

Note to self: Ripe strawberries are unwrapped candies to a toddler. Delayed gratification has no place in a field of fresh fruit.

The brim of her hat says, "Life is Good." I mean, really, does it get any better than this?

Click HERE for a pick-your-own farm near you! Some even follow organic farming methods.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Celebrating an Anniversary: Quality Time

Just the other day, I opened the fridge to find an anniversary card curiously propped up against the milk.  The front of the envelope read, "My Girl."  After eight years, my heart still flutters when I read that, especially now that I have to compete with an irresistibly cute toddler.  

When it comes to celebrating anniversaries, my husband and I don't buy each other extravagant gifts.  Instead, we do two things: spend quality time together over a delicious meal (that someone else has prepared) and support Hallmark.  

Last Tuesday night we celebrated at an Italian restaurant. We nestled into a corner table and gorged ourselves with antipasto, spinach salad with bacon and mushrooms (and you know how I feel about bacon), homemade pasta with ricotta and bechamel, and chicken parmigiana smothered in cheese.  Italians know how to do it right!  And they always send me home with leftovers. 

The conversation during our date was light and fun, even superficial at times.  But all the while, I felt a deep sense of connectedness.  It's easy after eight years to say, "Oh, we don't need to go on a date.  We know that we love each other.  Been there, done that."  But for me, it matters that we spend this quality time together, even if there are moments where we sit in silence, stuffing our faces.  

A few years ago, someone offered me this simple advice on marriage: "Nurture your love like you would a baby."  It stuck with me.  Babies need nourishment and attention to survive and thrive.  So do our marriages.  I'm no expert on relationships, but it makes sense to me that we need to "feed" our marriages and take care of them, especially when we feel pulled in so many different directions.    

After eight years, Tim and I laugh about each other's quirks and finish each other's sentences. We still fail miserably when it comes to managing household tasks, but at least that means we're lucky enough to have a roof over our heads.  Our marriage isn't perfect, but it's ours.  And I wouldn't want it any other way.  

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Smell of Fun

Every now and then my husband will say, "That smell reminds me of Grandma's house up in the country." It's amazing that sometimes even mothballs elicit a nostalgia. But studies show that smell is strongly linked to memory, and thus to our emotional responses to life experiences.

Have you ever thought about the smell of FUN? Revisit your childhood for a moment. What smells, fragrant or foul, instantly take you back? Ah, those were the days:
  • a charcoal grill with a splash of lighter fluid
  • fresh-cut grass
  • the ashes from fireworks
  • a mixture of seaweed and saltwater
  • Big League Chew bubble gum
  • plastic inflatable inner tubes
  • the middle school locker room
  • cheap, movie theater popcorn
  • a new can of tennis balls
  • a homemade ice cream shop
Wouldn't it be great if we could just bottle up some of these and take a whiff when we get bogged down in the trenches of parenthood? Or better yet, why not head off to the park, the movie theater, or the beach? And oh, don't forget to stop for ice cream on the way!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Avocados: The Forgotten Fruit

Looking for something different to feed your growing baby or picky toddler? Try avocados, the forgotten fruit (at least by Gerber). Here's what's great about avocados: They are loaded with unsaturated good fats, vitamins, and minerals for growing bodies and strong bones. Here are a few ways I've incorporated them into my daughter's diet:

  • Create an avocado and pear puree (to add a little sweetness)
  • Blend avocado and plain whole milk yogurt
  • Mash avocado with chicken (creamy consistency helps the chicken go down easily)
  • Spread homemade guacamole (made from avocados) on your child's favorite cracker for a nutritious on-the-go snack.
Avocados are the "cool kids" when it comes to fresh produce. There is actually a site devoted to them: The Amazing Avocado. (After all, this is the internet.) You can visit for some meal planning ideas for the whole family: main dishes, side dishes, salads, and more!

Photo courtesy of Raw Food Nation.

In Memory of Gladys: Breast Cancer Awareness Jewelry GIVEAWAY

On May 22, my family lost a dear friend, Gladys, to cancer. Gladys was diagnosed with breast cancer as a young mom and fought for nearly 20 years; yet, she never let cancer dictate her life. She was an amazing woman with an unwavering faith and a heart of gold, a model of strength and hope for all who were lucky enough to know her.  

Amy, creator and designer of Our 2 Peas in a Pod, has graciously offered to join me in honoring Gladys and all the women affected by breast cancer, with this beautiful Ladies Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet giveaway.  This piece is handcrafted with Genuine Swarovski crystals, fiber optic beads, and sterling components.  It makes a wonderful gift!

Our 2 Peas in a Pod is a mom-owned boutique, specializing in custom-designed jewelry for infants, children, and adults.  Each and every jewelry piece has been handcrafted using only the finest quality crystals, pearls, beads, and wiring components. Items can be personalized or custom-made to celebrate a Special Occasion or to accessorize with a favorite Disney Princess.  

Amy has even designed jewelry Made to Match kids' clothing lines, like Gymboree (my personal favorite!)  Here, the color palette matches Gymboree's Palm Springs collection:

You can also find jewelry to celebrate your favorite Holidays, like this sweet necklace and bracelet set for Valentine's Day:

Our 2 Peas in a Pod offers FREE first class shipping to mailing list customers.  So head on over and introduce yourself!  

And now for the GIVEAWAY: Please visit Our 2 Peas in a Pod. Then, come back and comment about which piece of jewelry (other than the ones pictured above) is your favorite.  Be sure to include an email address where you may be reached.  

This is an extra special giveaway for me, and I sincerely appreciate the loyalty of my subscribers and followers.  If this includes you, please indicate so in a separate entry (after you have completed the mandatory first entry) to increase your chances of winning. 

On Sunday, June 21, one lucky winner will be randomly selected by  You must be a U.S. resident (18+) to enter. Good luck!




Friday, June 5, 2009

Enter Sandman

Here is how it all started- the story behind "turnitupmom."

It was an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, or so I thought. My three-month-old daughter, Liza, and I were still in our pajamas, bouncing to Steve Miller Band’s Jungle Love. Somehow the lyrics “drivin’ me mad, makin’ me crazy” seemed all too appropriate. Liza had been awake for seven hours straight, and I was running out of silly Mary Poppins-like antics to keep her content. She’d resisted the traditional methods of settling down, and I needed to come up with something, and fast. Clearly, she needed a nap. Clearly, I needed one too.

While I’m not a voracious reader of parenting manuals and how-to guides (Let’s face it, there is no manual.), I did expect that my daughter would respond well to the recipe for a happy baby: swaddle, sway, and shush. I envisioned her nestling into the crook of my arm and drifting off to sleep, lulled by classical melodies. Quite to the contrary, she squirmed free of my futile attempts to cuddle close with a warm, cozy blanket. I spent days grasping for straws until I realized that she required something a bit more edgy than “The Muffin Man.” That’s when I turned to my husband’s eclectic music collection.

That afternoon, we ripped up the dance floor (Okay, the linoleum kitchen tiles.), bouncing and grooving to the music. And the louder, the better. Liza closed her tiny fingers around my shirtsleeve, and we clung to each other. We whirled past kitchen counters strewn with bottles and dirty dishes, and we twirled in circles, dizzying ourselves. We weren’t waltzing to a Brahms lullaby, and yet I felt a deep sense of comfort separate from the rest of the world. It was an unmistakable bond with my daughter, as I gave myself permission to dance with a childlike abandon and wonder. 

Despite my utter exhaustion, an untapped stream of energy rose from deep within and gave way to flirtation with a light, carefree me. I wasn’t going to need a Richard Simmons video to get this body back in shape. I was sweatin’ to everything from Michael Jackson to Metallica. Before long, that room was filled with laughter, singing, and a curiously content baby. But God, did I need a shower.

I couldn’t wrap my head around it; my husband and I were quiet babies, content to sit and gaze and bat our hands at colorful rattles. I half-expected our daughter to be the same. It was in this moment that I made a conscious effort to shift my thinking. Instead of wishing her to be otherwise, I began to embrace all that she was- a curious, wide-eyed, active baby who made me laugh- instead of all that she wasn’t. And we danced. What emerged from this moment was the opportunity for me to know my child and to rediscover myself.

Did she fall asleep? Of course she did. After a few minutes, Liza nestled her head into the space under my chin and tucked her knees up into my chest. Her eyelids grew heavy and her body, limp. Although the couch was enticing, my heart told me to savor this moment. I pressed my lips against her forehead and continued to rock. Here I was, mommy-gone-mad, with a sense of calm falling around me. I, too, closed my eyes and let go, knowing that in a matter of months, her little tushy wouldn’t fit in the palm of my hand. My nap could wait. I didn’t ever want to wish that we had danced more.

I often ask myself, why does my daughter love to dance? Maybe it’s the rocking motion that simulates the womb or the liveliness of the music, but I have to believe that it’s more than that. Perhaps Liza is giving me exactly what I need- the chance to stop, to breathe, and to be fully present. Somewhere along the line, between juggling work and the inability to say “no,” I had suppressed my most basic need to be and to honor all that I am. 

Liza had her own agenda from the moment of conception. What I didn’t know was that it would come in the form of a gift, one that transcended my expectations.

The serendipity of it all is that one week later, I slipped on a pair of brand new jazz shoes and headed off to dance, this time with a group of women who love to sweat. Every week I do this for myself- for my body, my spirit, and a guilt-free break. Who do I have to thank for this? My little Liza who, literally, doesn’t miss a beat. Thanks to her, I’ve been reacquainted with the happy-go-lucky girl who could pirouette, slide into a split, and steal the show. (Although, I must admit that after delivering a baby, the thought of a split makes me cringe and contract my pelvic muscles.) Because of dance, we have a few more funky songs on our playlist and a few new moves for our kitchen repertoire. Because of dance, I have reconnected with a freer side of myself that I’d lost in the trenches of life. Liza gave me the push I needed to step out onto the dance floor again and to linger in moments of sheer fun.

I have since plunged into this new role, at times wacky and wild, and while it differs from the challenges of classroom instruction, it demands a similar creativity and freshness. Every day Liza cracks me up, and some days I wonder where she came from. Although, in truth, I’ve come to believe that while our children are of us, they are not us. 

My husband and I joke that someday our daughter will be the last child to conk out at her first slumber party. But for now, I have come to appreciate the fact that I can “sway” my daughter to sleep, even if it means cranking up a little classic Metallica. And maybe- just maybe- the Sandman will pay us a visit.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chill Out: A New Parenting Trend

Have you heard of the latest parenting style that involves reclining on the couch, martini-in-hand, while your child occupies herself with legos?  Me neither.  But Tom Hodgkinson's new book, The Idle Parent: Why Less Means More When Raising Kids, describes a new parenting phenomena that may be the best kept secret to raising well-adjusted, independent children. Less helicoptering and micromanaging, more martinis (just look at his cover).  

In a recent New York Times magazine article "Let the Kid Be," Lisa Belkin suggests that this new wave of parenting is on the rise.  It makes sense.  In my opinion, today's parenting styles are a response to the over-parenting of our predecessors, those moms and dads who were determined to ruin our lives, dragging us to orchestra rehearsal because "it looked good" for college. 

Today, however, Belkin claims that parents are saying NO to strict schedules, flash cards, tutors, and violin lessons.  In truth, while I wouldn't call it a laissez-faire approach, it's a relaxed style that involves less in-your-face, over-scheduling and more enjoying life and being.  

I'd like the think that Belkin's right, that perhaps we've been enlightened. But truthfully, as a mom enmeshed in the wilds of suburbia, I've yet to see this theory in action. Instead, I see kids miss out on dirty knees, because they have too much homework in first grade.  As a teacher, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to get up in someone's grill and shout: "Just chill out and leave your kid alone."  

Bottom line: Chill out, Mom. 

For me, this boils down to trusting more and fearing less.  Trusting that our kids won't be paralyzed by Lyme's Disease if they play in the woods.  Trusting that they won't be a failure if they get a C or choose not to go to . . .(oh my God) college.  Trusting that they will find their way and grow to be decent human beings- probably the same decent human beings who will respond to our under-parenting with a tightening of the reigns, and a few martinis.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Less Is More

There is something cathartic about getting rid of stuff. It's freeing. In fact, I actually get a bit jealous when I drive past a heap of trash piled at the end of someone's driveway, because potentially, that someone's basement or bedroom is less cluttered. And if she's like me (let's be honest, he doesn't care), so is her mind.

Recently, I've felt guilty (just a little) about my eagerness to purge. You know, I love singing Jack Johnson's "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" song, and I'll admit, throwing things away isn't exactly living up to my end of the reuse bargain. Somebody, somewhere wants my trash, bless her soul.

Feeling the need to bid farewell to Precious Moments and the chotchkies of my youth, we teamed up with our neighbors last weekend to have a giant garage sale.  I don't need 15 Yankee Candles (the infamous teacher gift) or 5 silicone spatulas. I'm not keeping them "just in case. . ." That's hogwash.

Over the years, I have developed a "Less is More" philosophy. I don't need things to live a full, rich life. I need a clean, open space for my thoughts of gratitude and abundance.

I felt liberated watching people genuinely happy to walk off with my trash. I'd much rather it sit on someone else's bookshelf than in a landfill. Here's the best part: Our very last customer was a woman who has an orphanage in Haiti. She filled her car with my remaining five boxes of stuff, for free of course. Honestly, I would have paid her to take my junk.

Before she left, the woman scribbled down her phone number.  So the next time I feel the need to grab a garbage bag and toss, I'm going to pick up the phone instead.  And bless her soul, she'll cart it all away.