Tag Archives: Writing

10 Ways Blogging Makes Us Better Moms

As the urban legend goes, blogging makes you a bad parent. Time spent scrolling the internet instead of soaking up Sunshine’s every little ray can never be recouped. Um, by that logic any and every job would make you a bad parent. So there’s that . . . but we’re also pushing back with this: blogging actually has the power to make you an even better parent. Just soak that up for a minute.

If there was such a thing as a parenting genie who would grant our wishes with a rub of a magical sippy cup, we would ask for two things: a mystical rear view mirror and a telescope into the future. With the rear view mirror we could relive those fleeting childhood moments of chubby knees and downy heads. With the telescope, we could gaze into that fuzzy future to see how our every parenting decision impacts our children’s growth into adults. But we don’t need magic because we have something better: blogging! Unconvinced? Let us present our case.

As the urban legend goes, blogging makes you a bad parent. We say, "Nay, nay!" Working in this diverse field improves our parenting every day. | 10 Ways Blogging Makes Us Better Moms | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

1. Improves our Time Management

All parents know time is THE hot commodity. Learning how to use those precious minutes wisely is a better gift to the whole family than a subscription to Netflix (although our kids might not immediately agree). Like most mothers, our schedules were jam-packed . . . and then we decided to blog. The idea of shoehorning a new job into our already overflowing schedules seemed crazy. Right?! Dash away visions of abandoned children sacrificed at the Temple of Blogdom because a miracle happened! Budgeting our time for writing and promotion spurred us to mindfully carve out minutes for what matters most, and to put our phones down during those moments.

2. Develops Us into Better Role Models

Good parenting is telling kids what to do. Better parenting is modeling it. We talk a good talk with our kids about taking advantageous risks to put themselves out there, but it wasn’t until we started blogging that we put the proverbial money where our pie holes are. Putting our words, beliefs, and advice out there for the world to see—and critique—takes a fair amount of hitching up our big girl britches. Blogging makes us doers, not just preachers.

3. Expands Our Horizons

Stepping outside our comfort zone was one thing, but launching into different time zones was unexpected gravy. Conferences and summits and advocacy, oh my! Blogging is not about isolation, but opening up the world in a whole new way. We’ve gotten lost on our way to yoga in Chicago, promoted a foundation in Atlanta, spoken about podcasting in Baltimore, and advocated for global vaccines on Capitol Hill.

Acting as Shot@Life Champions | As the urban legend goes, blogging makes you a bad parent. We say, "Nay, nay!" Working in this diverse field improves our parenting every day. | 10 Ways Blogging Makes Us Better Moms | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Acting as [email protected] Champions

Don’t start lamenting over our precious little ones left behind. They have actually gotten to tag along on some occasions, been sponsored by our employer to go to a leadership conference, and have been published on a sponsor’s website. Not too shabby.

4. Introduces Us to New Things

Social media may conjure up visions of moms staring at their phones while their kids beg “hey Ma, look at me!” from the monkey bars, but we found that blogging and the attendant social media required, blasted open a window into our kids’ worlds. We were beyond savvy before any of our kids even asked for an Instagram account. The social media boot camp gave us some serious parenting stripes.

5. Gives Us Time to Reflect

Never underestimate the power of the pause. The discipline of writing weekly means we are also processing our lives as parents each week: the good, the bad, and the disappointing. Our blog is not about cute kid stories, but focuses on analyzing our experiences on the parenting crazy train. This “pause button” has prompted us to actually reset our practices at times because no job needs chances for a do-overs quite like parenting.

6. Introduces Us to New Friends

Yes, we have friends in our computers. Yes, we’re sure they’re not trolls of the 50-year-old unshaven Limp Bizkit fan variety because we’ve actually met them. Our internet tribe has some of the most intelligent and kind-hearted women you would ever be lucky enough to have in your corner–professionally and personally. Wherever our kids decide to attend college, they will be within thirty minutes of a blogger friend—no, a surrogate mother. You can’t buy that kind of peace of mind.

BlogU Conference | As the urban legend goes, blogging makes you a bad parent. We say, "Nay, nay!" Working in this diverse field improves our parenting every day. | 10 Ways Blogging Makes Us Better Moms | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Some friends at the BlogU NickMom Prom

7. Gives Us New Ways to Talk to Our Kids

Want to talk about sex, drugs, and alcohol with your kid? Of course you don’t. But if you have a writing deadline, suddenly you can broach touchy topics with very little preamble. Our kids are conditioned to respond without flinching to questions like “Hey, I need to write an article about kids and alcohol, come talk to me!” or “Hey, do you know anyone who abuses cough syrup?”

Interviews notwithstanding, our kids retain rights to their stories and hold the right to veto us sharing them. Our writers’ hearts hurt for the tales we can’t tell, but these discussions stress the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries between private and public lives. For a generation cutting their teeth on social media, and for their moms who need to keep up, this is the greatest prize of all.

8. Encourages Us to Model Good Friendships

We were friends before we were business partners, but blogging took our friendship to a new place. That new place was the world of compromise and generosity. While we think the United Nations would appreciate our skills in diplomacy and cooperation, we know our kids are learning from them every day.

9. Gives Our Kids Fodder for Their Own Memoirs

Our blog is not a baby book, but it is peppered with memories that will last as long as their digital footprint (as long as we keep paying our website hosting bill). In the final analysis, we hope our kids see that blogging is another way we share our experiences not just with each other or the internet, but with them.

10. Gives Us Another Dimension 

Hear that noise? It’s us roaring. We’re proudly showing our kids what women can achieve.  We have become coders, graphic designers, speakers, advocates, and parenting experts. We’re professionals who have learned to negotiate and put a fair price on what we’re worth as we cobble together an income. Blogging has prodded us to lean all the way in.

2014 Baltimore Listen to Your Mother Cast | As the urban legend goes, blogging makes you a bad parent. We say, "Nay, nay!" Working in this diverse field improves our parenting every day. | 10 Ways Blogging Makes Us Better Moms | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

We were so happy to be a part of the 2014 Baltimore Listen to Your Mother Cast

So basically, blogging has made us happier, more skilled, and more greatly fulfilled moms. To flip that annoying saying to the positive: everybody knows if momma’s happy then everybody’s happy.

The evidence is clear. We rest our case.

Ellen and Erin

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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The Worst Ways to Answer Texts in Two Words or Less

Confession: I HATE talking on the phone.

Now when I was a teenager in the 80s, I talked on the phone–the CORDED phone–like it was my job. And it sort of was. Talking on the phone in the olden days was an event. Your multi-tasking-while-talking options were restricted by the radius of your cord. This is why there are still phones in some hotel bathrooms, kids. Yeah.

80s_Snapshot

A little historical artifact for your viewing pleasure.

Also, if you didn’t get the party details from your friends before they went out for the night, you were out of luck. They might as well have evaporated into the ether. There were no mobile nor social forms of communications. You were destined to be green with jealousy the next day when your BFF called to tell you all about it, and then doomed to have that jealousy revived a week later when the photos were developed. Yes, developed from a film camera. There was waiting and anticipation.

Whew. Let me readjust my shawl and make a cup of tea before I proceed. Also, those blasted whipper-snappers need to get off of my lawn; they’re distracting me. Anyway, cordless and mobile technologies only strengthened my love for communication . . . until I hit medical school and the phone became my ball and chain. The beeper/phone call combo was a one-two punch that threatened my sanity on a nightly basis. Every call was a problem that exacted a portion of my soul. I’m not sure which took a greater toll: being called for a code or being called at three o’clock in the morning to see if someone could have Tylenol for a 100.5 degree fever.

Even though I left medicine behind, I never got over my aversion to the ringing phone. Ah, but technology marched on and the evil beeper was slayed by my knight in shining armor: texting.

Suddenly, mundane questions could be answered on the fly without turning into an hour long conversation. “Did you get your aunt a birthday gift?” ended with a typed “Yes, I got her a commemorative Elvis plate,” instead of morphing into a roundtable on bunions and the cost of pineapples.

Okay, hold it right there. Don’t go lecturing me about the the blah, blah, blah, human connection. There are only so many hours in the day and just five “meaningful” human connections can sap hours from your life.

Besides, if Billy’s question could only be answered by phone, he would have to wait a whole hour until your meeting was over to be told the dog’s fungal cream is on the shelf next to the leash in the laundry room, like always. And lucky for him, he gets spared the exasperated, sarcastic tone in your voice.

But sometimes it’s the missing tone that is texting’s pitfall. That and short answers that do no justice to the question asked. Full grown adults morph into surly, monosyllabic teenagers when faced with a keyboard . . . or maybe that is just Erin.

Due to one word answers to my very specific texts, she once punked me that her son was indeed playing soccer at my daughter’s high school and that I should drop what I was doing to bring her our contract to sign, never mind that I had already made four round trips to the school just that day. While I was wandering the fields in the back forty trying to find her–all the while texting her about her location–all I got was “Here.” It took an additional ten minutes for me to get enough of an answer out of her to realize she was at HER son’s high school, forty-five minutes away. When she finally clicked the phone to receive my actual call, let’s just say it went something like this: Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

So in honor of Erin’s superb texting skillz, emphasis on the “z,” here are the worst ways to answer texts in the affirmative in two words or less.
The Worst Ways to Answer Texts in Two Words or Less - When an "okay" just won't cut it because it leaves you wandering around a soccer field. Sometimes communication regresses when it evolves. -- Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

1. Okay

Remember when we talked about tone? I can’t read “okay” without it having a sarcastic edge in my head. Also, if you have asked more than one question, it never feels like all of them have been answered with just one “Okay.” But I’m willing to bear part of the blame because I’m fair like that. If there is one thing I have learned, it’s never to ask more than one question per text, because let’s face it, you’re lucky if you can get one answered. Don’t push it.

2. Kk

It definitely has a perkier vibe than “okay,” but what are you, twelve?

3. Great

Seriously it can’t just be me. Doesn’t it sound sarcastic? “Great” definitely needs an exclamation point after it to remove the implied eye roll.

4. Yeah

Once again, the lack of enthusiasm. If I have written a text that requires you to scroll twice to read it all, first, shame on me for writing anything that long, but secondly, shame on you for dissing me with an answer that bland.

5. Yes

How can I have problems with this? It is polite and succinct. Well, without more helpful words to elaborate, you don’t know if the “yes” means, “Yes indeedy, I’m at Your Neck of the Woods High School” or “Yes, I’m at a high school.”

So what IS acceptable? My favorite of late is “Got it.” It exudes positivity(!), understanding(!), and a general feeling of setting up camp and making s’mores on the same page as me. Also acceptable are “Boom,” “I agree,” and “You’re right!” I’ll also take “Your brilliance overwhelms me and I have never encountered a person more correct than you!!” Of course, that exceeds two words, but in this case I’ll make an exception.

But let’s get real, any text is better than you actually calling me. For the love of Verizon, don’t resort to that. Even with all of my complaints, I will take the muddy waters of texting over having my delicate sensibilities accosted by a ringing phone. Well, unless you have me wandering around a lonely, empty soccer field. But only then.

-Ellen

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

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How A Concussion, A Tree, and A Trip to NYC Saved My Holiday Sanity

I struggled with that title a bit because we try to keep it PG around here, you know, for the children. Let’s just say this has been the season of “effits” for me. And it has saved my sanity this Christmas.

How A Concussion, A Tree, and A Trip to NYC Saved My Holiday Sanity -- A procrastinator is forced into reform! -- Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

It all started with the tree.  Wait, that’s not right. It all started right before Thanksgiving with the concussion my youngest daughter was gifted from an accidental punch to the head during handball in gym class. It was worse than at first perceived, and she had to be on complete stimulation lockdown: no music, no texting, NO SCREENS, no reading, no games, no puzzles, no nothing–except talking to her mother in a darkened room . . . and coloring. It was like the worst grounding ever for any thirteen-year-old, except my thirteen-year-old was about to turn fourteen. We had to reschedule her birthday party, too. The sadness was palpable.

This is how I entered Thanksgiving where I also had to make the entire dinner from soup to nuts, as Erin likes to say. Hallmark did not have a card to express my Grinch-esque holiday spirit because they apparently like to keep it PG, too.

But I wasn’t just feeling overwhelmed by worry for my injured daughter and the responsibility of orchestrating a glutinous meal; this was my second year without my mother. I look back on last year and marvel at the way I soldiered through the holidays. I must have been functioning on muscle memory because I was numb. Whereas last year I was wrapped in a muffling quilt of grief, this year I was acutely aware of every moment and nuance of her absence.

So with this curmudgeon essence coursing through my veins, I launched into the first of my effits: “It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and we’re getting the tree.”

I know this does not seem like much of a stand. Many people decorate their trees that weekend–their ARTIFICIAL trees. But we get a real tree, and we like to keep it up until New Year’s . . . and we can’t be trusted to take it down on New Year’s. In a totally related side note, I have a history of scooping pine needles out of my family room with a snow shovel.

But my baby needed something to distract her from her canceled party, and picking out a Christmas tree at dusk seemed within the realms of non-stimulating activities.

How A Concussion, A Tree, and A Trip to NYC Saved My Holiday Sanity -- A procrastinator is forced into reform! -- Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

After that baby step of an effit, they continued to flow! I didn’t care what tree we picked out. We were together. Without my guidance it took forever. But whatever, we were grabbing some joy. When my oldest pointed out that half of our family unit was settling on a crooked tree with a bubble butt, I did not enter the fray. I mean, the thing only tipped over once while we were decorating it, but who cares because I was there to break the fall.  So behold our tree anchored to the wall with a “ledge” so large we nestled a papier-mâché cat on it to detract from it.  It really is the Kim Kardashian of trees.

How A Concussion, A Tree, and A Trip to NYC Saved My Holiday Sanity -- A procrastinator is forced into reform! -- Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I really did miss an opportunity to set up a champagne fountain. At least the star is slowly sliding down to earth.

But besides pine needles embedded into my eardrum, I got this takeaway:

Sanity Saver #1: It doesn’t matter what the dead tree we are destined to mulch in four (or six) weeks looks like! Martha Stewart has always ignored declined my invitations to date anyway.

I took this calendar-defying decorating miracle one step further and decked the whole house! My first realization of how other (organized) people live hit me on the head like chestnuts flung by a mischievous Elf on the Shelf.

Sanity Saver #2: Decorating the house before December opens up that whole month to be jammed packed with all of the concerts, parties, baking, and fa la la-ing.

In the past, I had always wanted to have my youngest’s birthday party before decorating, because kids are destructive, yo. This led to me squeezing in the decorating when I could and sometimes left us tree-less into the third week. But she is now a teen, and all they do is hole up in the basement. From now on, decorating is taking place in November and partying is getting pushed into December. Thank you concussion for foiling my procrastination?

Then in true Christmas miracle fashion, a second procrastination buster entered my life in the form of a simple dinner invitation. A friend was flying in to visit family in New York City, and sent out a message asking if any locals could meet for dinner. I raised my hand! I am not local. I am three hours away from NYC. I said effit I am going anyway.

I could not turn my back on this happenstance because the invitation was for December 22nd, the time my mother would have come up to join in all of our Christmas preparations.

Sanity Saver #3: I have found the best way to grab joy over grief is to shake myself out of the groove that highlights Mom’s absence and surround myself with people who feed my soul. Friends are the family you choose.

One of my dear friends, who actually was local, offered to have me spend the night, and I had one of the loveliest evenings filled with good food, and even better laughter. Breaking bread with intelligent, interesting women is a gift.

How A Concussion, A Tree, and A Trip to NYC Saved My Holiday Sanity -- A procrastinator is forced into reform! -- Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Ah, but I had labeled this invitation as a procrastination buster too. In order for me to enjoy myself, I needed to have Christmas ready to go. In an unprecedented move, I had all of my shopping done and all of the gifts wrapped by December 21st.

Sanity Saver #4: Not leaving the wrapping until 10 pm on December 24th allows you to actually enjoy Christmas Eve and prevents zombie eyes in the Christmas morning pictures.

It’s not that I always wanted to wrap on Christmas Eve, it’s just that wrapping seemed like the task that could be pushed off until the end.

If this were a Christmas special, a Claymation snowman would come out to tie this up in a shiny bow, but I have to admit my ribbon is a little crumpled. I may have still had to stay up until 1:30 am on Christmas Eve because I was a little too cocky about having the wrapping done, and failed to gauge the time it would take to make the awesome Pumpkin French Toast Casserole I found on Pinterest.

However, I still don’t regret the time I spent snuggling with my family watching A Charlie Brown Christmas instead of clanking around in the kitchen. But I have seen the light because I now realize why organized people are so self-congratulatory. It feels good! God willing, I will rock the holidays even better next year. My family deserves a Stress-Diminished Ellen for Christmas.

-Ellen

You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

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Relax Internet, It’s Just A Gift Guide

It appears a little cubby hole of the Internet is roasting us like chestnuts over an open fire.

Is it over our piece about the burden on society when parents don’t teach their kids to do chores?

No.

Is it over our call to action to stop judging mothers over how much and well they cherish motherhood?

Nope.

Is it over Ellen’s commentary about the Goldieblox ad boiling down to a sort of reverse discrimination against females?

Well, there was that one commenter on the Huffington Post Parents Facebook page who called Ellen and her daughters “a bag of rocks,” but mostly the responses were positive.

Is it over Ellen’s viral post on vaccinations?

Oh yeah, that did stir the pot, but that was awhile ago.

No, our fine friends, we are currently being lambasted for OUR GIFT GUIDES.

Relax Internet, it's just a gift guide: A forum group found our teen guy and girl gift guides and took us to task for separating the genders and for the things we recommended. What do you think? - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

See, our gift guides were featured on CNN.com We even got two slides! But it was our board game suggestions that made BoardGameGeek.com lash out like Munchkins with battleaxes.

CNN_gift_guide

We are being called antiquated sexists because Would You Rather was listed on the Teen Girl Guide and The Settlers of Catan was listed on the Teen Guy Guide. The comments are fairly vehement, but most didn’t feel strongly enough to leave anything but fake names like “Shame on you” and “Mrs. Mystery Bob.”

“Shame on you for maintaining sterotypes [sic] and suggesting that great boatdgames [sic] are for “boys only”. My daughters love Pandemic, Catan, and Munchkin. It shocks me to see such sexism on this website. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

“The boys get Catan & Pandemic, and the girls get Would you Rather? I guess my mom is more sensible than you claim to be. Did you know it’s 2014?”

“Would You Rather is a terrible choice for a board game. There is no reason why teen boys would enjoy more serious fare, while teen girls are stuck playing a game with no thinking involved. Poor, sexist choice. I expected better from this site.”

Yeah, it’s just awful when games and activities are fun. You’re right. Ellen’s daughter should definitely not have a choice to relax with some silliness after studying for AP calculus and biology all week long.

And then there was this:

“I find this list strange and a bit sad. First of all, as a mom of a young teen, I know fully well what her interests and preferences are like and can assure you that nothing on this list would interest her. I know the books and subjects she enjoys, the music and movies she prefers, and the personal care items and clothing styles she likes. What kind of parent doesn’t know their child or take the trouble to get to know them and these details? Certainly not a sensible parent.

Secondly, as an avid gamer I can assure you that “Would you rather?” is an humorous activity and not really a game and that Eat Poop You Cat or Werewolf are miles better fun activities than that title.

My daughter loves games and they include Hive, YINSH, TZAAR, Morels, The Little Prince: Make me a Planet, K2, Hoppladi Hopplada, Lakota, Dixit, and Ticket to Ride. I did buy her a boardgame for the holidays. I bought her 1911 Amundsen vs Scott (because she saw the video of it and was very interested).

This list is offense to independent females everywhere and only serves to perpetuate stereotypes of “Girls like XYZ” and Boys like ABC” and never the two shall meet.

Would you honestly rather ask lame questions of each other or sit down to race to the South Pole?

These lists do more harm than good, IMHO.

And moms, if you don’t know anything about your daughter, don’t buy a gift off of a “Best gifts for my daughter” list, chances are the gift will fail as children are not “one size fits all”. Take the opportunity to speak and share with her and discover what makes her tick, what excites her, what she fears, and what she dreams. That will be a win-win for you both. If not………buy her a gift card which is ALWAYS a welcome gift. [spelling and grammar their own]”

We are sad and doing harm. With gift guides. But the real message is either know your teens really well . . . or just get them gift cards.

And they’re serious about this. They are now tweeting the message forum thread link at us. Yeah, we know there’s a thread with over a hundred posts bashing us or discussing various gender issues. We saw it already because we know how Google and IP addresses work.

There were great comments like this on the thread:

“Really annoyed me to see this kind of sexism being perpetuated STILL. Shame on you Sensible Soccer Moms. Girls like Pandemic, Settlers of Catan, and Munchkin, too. Boo.”

Because apparently making gift guides for girls is bad, but stereotyping us as Soccer Moms and implying it is an insult is okay? So what’s the cut-off age for championing females? We’re not sure, but we’re going to assume it is way before 40.

And then there was this one:

“You know what’s not sensible? A ridiculous URL like that.”

Ouch. Ellen hasn’t encountered that brand of hate since she first started dating her to-be-husband and his ex-girlfriend told her she had an ugly name. To quote T Swift, “Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”

So here are the six diabolical steps behind these polarizing gift guides.

  1. A blogger friend told us gift guides are huge around the holidays.
  2. We thought, “We have kids that like stuff. We could do gift guides.”
  3. We picked things at varying, reasonable price points that were easy to order online.
  4. All the gifts on the lists are things that our teens own that they have enjoyed.
  5. Lists were shared with CNN.
  6. And then we watched the world burn. Mwahahahaha!

So how did we decide to do two lists? Why would we do that? WHY WOULD WE DO THAT?!?!

Well, it all boils down to division of labor. There are two of us running this blog, so we made two lists. We worked on them separately, because that is how two people can get tasks done in half the time. Duh. What was REALLY important to us was that the items were things we authentically loved. We didn’t just pick random gifts off of Amazon. Ellen only has teen daughters so with this criteria, she was only qualified to recommend gifts for girls. Erin has a teen daughter and teen boys, but she took on the gift guide for boys. Because division of labor.

So if the Geeks had bothered to read Erin’s intro, she states:

“With four sons between the ages of 7 and 17, my house is a living laboratory of the modern American young man. With the holidays looming, people ask me often what might make a great gift for their favorite nephew/cousin/brother/godson. Of course, I have a teen daughter too and she loves a lot of this stuff too.”

So here are five truths, and three confessions that might further put this all in perspective. Perspective is so important . . . or so we’ve been told.

The Truths:

1. These are gift guides, not shopping lists. We are not commanding you to go out to the store and buy, Buy, BUY! If you find one item you like, SUCCESS! If you think the items are stupid, move onto the next gift guide. We wish you luck!

2.  Ellen was pretty psyched about Erin’s list because it introduced her to “Pandemic.” It truly made her geeky M.D. senses tingle . Plus, she had the added smug satisfaction of picking it off of the boys list and smashing stereotypes! Winning!

3. Our kids have other things and interests beyond what is on those lists. In fact, they have such varied and expansive interests that no gift guide can contain them! Go figure.

For example, Ellen’s STEM track, robotics competing, fiction writing, Science Olympiad participating, Destination Imagination winning, musician daughters build Star Wars Legos, play basketball, volleyball, and tennis, and have a Nerf gun arsenal. Erin’s honor roll daughter is a story spinning, cross country running, marching band maestro who enjoys camping, Comic Con, and Settlers of Catan.

Relax Internet, it's just a gift guide: A forum group found our teen guy and girl gift guides and took us to task for separating the genders and for the things we recommended. What do you think? - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Ellen would never be so jerky as to recommend a $300 Legos Death Star that her daughter received from a benevolent uncle, and quite frankly, she doesn’t love the basketball net enough to endorse it.

And to the person who left this comment:

“Why are there no books listed for teenage boys?
Is it “sensible” for moms to want their boys to grow up to be uneducated and illiterate?
According to this list, all mom’s should strive to have dumb jocks for sons.”

Erins’s sons are busy being Boy Scouts, achieving the honor of Eagle Scout, serving as legislative pages, putting on plays for elementary school kids, performing in band . . . and reading.

All of our kids have read books from this list. But calm down because these are not the only books they have read. By far.

Relax Internet, it's just a gift guide: A forum group found our teen guy and girl gift guides and took us to task for separating the genders and for the things we recommended. What do you think? - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

4. This was not a gift guide for younger children, it was for teens. Much of the ranting was how wrong it is that toys for young kids are separated by gender. We agree. But please note, Ellen is still going to stand by her choice that, in general, the curling iron she recommended is going to please a teenage girl–who likes that sort of thing–more than a fifteen year old guy.

5. This was not a comprehensive gift guide for board games. Not all games owned and loved were represented. Board Game Geek flaming us for not including all the games on our general gift guides is like us criticizing a board game guide for not including Nike Elite Socks.

Which leads us to The Confessions:

1. When Ellen first saw the comments coming in, she thought, “Huh, well this is silly because we have an ENTIRE cabinet full of games. I’ll just post  a couple more “serious” games  that we all enjoy. Well, apparently those choices weren’t good enough either. There must be secret, extra-judgy criteria for having fun that we don’t know about. But as a side note, if you wanted to brandish pitchforks for Chutes and Ladders, future generations might thank you.

“Was there a change in the matrix? Because right now the list also includes clue and risk.”

“Apparently there was. Since those definitely weren’t there to begin with. Although I think they’ve just gone for a bit of a cop out from the feedback and threw two of the most obvious ones there with some filler text and called it a day. Doesn’t address the original premise of the questions raised here, but I guess it’s a start.”

And as far as “ethics in journalism” being violated, we are constantly updating the guides as new gifts and items come into our lives. And once again, they are only GIFT GUIDES, not Congressional transcripts. But it’s a great idea to let people know we are periodically updating them so that they can come back. Thanks!

 2. Ellen doesn’t really like games that take over 20 minutes to play. Gasp! Her favorites that violate this time limit are Clue and Parcheesi, but NEVER ask her how she feels about Monopoly. Trust us. Her personal preferences may have influenced how many games she included on her list. (How dare she!)

3. Erin makes up for Ellen’s ambivalence with her complete and utter LOVE of games! When she has to shoe horn seven people into a van for a seven hour drive to a week long vacation in the Outer Banks, she enthusiastically dedicates precious packing real estate to ALL of these.

Relax Internet, it's just a gift guide: A forum group found our teen guy and girl gift guides and took us to task for separating the genders and for the things we recommended. What do you think? - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Ellen’s daughter, who is currently reading The Crucible, put all this in perspective: “At least you aren’t being falsely accused of and persecuted for witchcraft.” Good point. With a tip of our hats to a  famously maligned magical ice queen, we were going to just “Let it go” . . . but it didn’t feel right. Ellen is a strong believer that if you accept praise, you also have to accept criticism. We just did not want to publish the comments under the gift guides because they seemed unbalanced–with a non sequitur vibe– from people who did not read the text of the posts.

But there was something that really struck the match to our Bunsen burner. THIS:

“Oh dear. No matter which gender you are there appears to be socks on the list. What teen wants socks?!? (Yes, I’m being a bit of an age-ist… but as a teen and as an adult I never have had a more disappointing gift than a pair of sock – even my mom’s usual gift of a sock filled with fruit and nuts was more appreciated and desired.)”

Them’s fightin’ words! Someone clearly doesn’t know any adolescents well. We have teens. Who have teenage friends. And teens love socks.  THE. END.

So what do you think??

 -Ellen and Erin

 

Click here.

Great Gifts for Teen Guys--Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

The Best Kitchen Gadgets Gift Guide

The Manly Gift Guide for all of the boys in your life. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

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How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! |Parenting Humor | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

How to Be Famous on the Internet in 6 Easy Steps:

1. Take off clothes.

2. Take picture.

3. Sprinkle generously with Photoshop.

4. Upload.

5. BOOM.

6. TMZ is calling you.

Okay, just kidding. Seriously, to any offspring reading this: JOKING! Do not memorialize your naked body on any digital medium.

But all kidding aside, there’s a much more savory path to fame, stardom and riches on the world wide web: Twitter.

Well, maybe money and fame is stretching it a bit, but you can at least rub bandwidth with the stars.

For instance, famous people can read your humble little 140 characters and share them because THEY THINK YOU ARE BRILLIANT AND FUNNY!

Has this happened to the Sensible Moms? So kind of you to ask! In fact it has. Behold! P!nk retweeted my little gem:

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Yep, P!nk (or her publicist) thought that wee tweet was worth sharing with her almost 22,000,000 followers. By the way, that was tweeted in January 2014 and it is still bouncing around the Twittersphere. We got a notification a couple of days ago:

 

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

Now before you go hounding me for my autograph, here is some perspective. Thirteen hundred retweets may not be a lot if you compare us to the likes of Justin Bieber who can get 100K shares even when tweeting forth banality. But, we are no Biebers (thank goodness!) so it’s still pretty cool.

 

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Poetic.

But enough with the humility, let’s get back to my awesomeness. When you have teenage daughters, it’s a rare occasion when you get to impress them.  When this Twitter magic happened, I gripped my phone, jumped up and down, and shouted, “I have one degree of separation from P!nk!”

I was met with blank stares.

They were gratifyingly impressed when I explained the P!nk love, but my thirteen year old revisited my original announcement: “What did you mean by, uh, separate degrees?”

I replied, “You know, like the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game.”

Blank stares again.

You know those times when you feel the crushing, pulverizing blow of parenting failure? This was one of those times. Now that the days of Cinder Elmo are behind us and we can all enjoy real movies together, how had I never bestowed the knowledge upon them that Kevin Bacon is the center of the entertainment universe?? I blame math and word problems.

 

So I explained that back in the dark ages of 1994, before Vine and Buzzfeed and all of the magic that is the internet, humans actually had to come up with ways to entertain themselves while sitting around and conversing with each other . . . in person. Legend Wikipedia has it, that while watching Footloose, three Albright College students, Craig Fass, Brian Turtle, and Mike Ginelli came up with the concept that every actor was associated with Kevin Bacon by six degrees of separation or less.

Never mind that I had to use the internet to find that information. What is truly fascinating about this history lesson is that in the pre-www era, the game could be pinpointed to the creators, and talk shows like The Daily Show were actually interested in interviewing them and crediting them. That is crazy talk. In this age of “entertain me NOW!”, ideas are churned out, stolen, rehashed, and tossed to the side as old news in a matter of 24 hours. Talk shows use blog and Twitter fodder on the daily, but they go out of their way to NOT give credit by doing things such as cutting off watermarks. Our culture is becoming a memed homogenized mush.

But in the middle of my “demise of civilization rant,” my daughter interrupted with this poignant question, “But how did EVERYONE know about it without the internet?”

How To Explain Life Before the Internet to Your Kids Using Kevin Bacon Math | When your kids ask you how did people know things before the internet, this is your answer. | Parenting Humor | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

I can only say that there weren’t many channels so our TV viewing was more focused, the guys were interviewed, and people talked. I guess the news spread the same way everyone in my grade school, as well as the rest of the country, thought Mikey of LIFE cereal fame died from drinking Coke with Pop Rocks. I’m sure some parent has paid their child’s Ivy League bill just so they could grow up to answer these sort of burning questions. Those researchers are the true patriots, my friends.

But back to the Bacon! I had to explain to my kids what the “degrees” were. I am loathe to admit it, but Wikipedia did it better than I ever could. For the love of Persia, they did it in algebraic equation form! Excuse me while I recover from the vapors.

The computation of a Bacon number for actor X is a “shortest pathalgorithm, applied to the co-stardom network:

  • Kevin Bacon himself has a Bacon number of 0.
  • Those actors who have worked directly with Kevin Bacon have a Bacon number of 1.
  • If the lowest Bacon number of any actor with whom X has appeared in any movie is N, X’s Bacon number is N+1.

I know, right?! Don’t worry, I got eye rolls from my kids, too. At least you don’t have to live with me, but I am about to redeem myself.

While giving them examples–if Kevin worked with Bob and Bob worked with Betsy, then Betsy has two degrees of separation from the Bacon–I found out the most magically magical thing. If you type in ‘Bacon Number’ and a celebrity’s name into the Google search bar:

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

You get their Bacon number with an explanation of the degrees of separation:

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

You do know what this means, don’t you? I am THREE degrees of separation away from Kevin Bacon! ME! Don’t bother to Google it though, because apparently there’s this chick, Ellen DeGeneres, who has a higher search value than me. I’m crafting my email of complaint right now.

So the moral of this story is to embrace the Twitter! And I have a fabulous new way for you to do it: The Big Book of Parenting Tweets.

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

This book is the brain chick of Twitter Master, Kate Hall, and Cartoonists of Truth, Science of Parenthood. Remember the “Quotable Quotes” and “All in a Day’s Work” features in Reader’s Digest? This collection of tweets reminds me of that because they’re pithy, funny, and completely relevant to your life.

Like this from Kelley’s Breakroom:

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

And this one from Funny is Family:

How to Be Internet Famous in Six Degrees - Kevin Bacon and P!nk are the Best (and other truths about Twitter)! - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

There’s even more hilarity from the likes of Paige Kellerman, Domestic Goddess, Suburban Snapshots, Bad Parenting Moments, and many more.

This book makes the perfect holiday gift because everyone loves funny, right? And if they don’t, why are they on your list anyway? Get new friends.

You can check out all of the funny that is this book here.

You can see a couple of our funny tweets on HuffPost Parents here and here.

So that’s about it. The perfect way to wrap this all up would be to tweet about it , right? We’ll even help you out.

 

We have but one request: Don’t forget about us when you’re internet famous.

-Ellen

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You can follow us on Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

 

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Is Blogging Worth It If You Don’t Make Money?

“Cocktail Party” conversation can really, well, drive you to want to down a cocktail.

Erin: Cocktail parties? Who is going to cocktail parties? Do you have a secret life I don’t know about?

Ellen: That is why cocktail party was surrounded by quotes. One of these days I’m going to write an air quote manual for you. “Party” can be a work picnic or going to a college reunion, but really it is any get together where the standard “Get-To-Know-You” conversations take place every time you drift over to a new person.

Erin: More apropos would be, “Get-To-Categorize-You.”

Ellen: Right? It’s always the same question.

Erin: “What do you DO?”

Ellen: That question has always been a landmine for me, no matter what. When I said I was a doctor, shirttails would get yanked up to show me some crusty rash. In later life when I responded, “Stay-at-Home-Mom,” eyes would glaze over to a catatonia so deep, I would start to consider if  I wanted to dust off my CPR skills.

Erin: Well responding, “Teacher” prompts people to morph into the National Enquirer: “Give me the school scoop. What dirt do you know?”

Ellen: But now we can say, bloggers or even, dare I say, writers.

Erin: Which prompts the question that is the nails to my chalkboard, the cantaloupe in my fruit salad, the fly in my bean dip: “Do you make money at it?”

Ellen: It is a pretty rude question, but are you sure you aren’t overreacting just a wee bit?

Erin: Not at all. The question implies that UNLESS I am making money at it, there’s no real value to it.

Can the value of blogging only be measured in paychecks? Is blogging worth it if you don't make money? You decide. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Ellen: Okay, but we do consider our blog a business, so why so worked up? But really, no one has ever pointblank asked my husband how much he makes. You know what? That does get under my skin . . . like a crusty rash.

Erin: Some people think that blogging is glorified scrapbooking. Yes, there are family memories showcased and put on display, but most bloggers put a frame and a purpose on those memories to make a larger point. Blogging is writing and writing has its own rewards.

Ellen: Rewards like being able to work out your issues in a blog post?

Erin: I was thinking more of rewards like this:

Ellen: Oh yes, building a community has been an unexpected gift of blogging that has fed my soul.

Erin: Oh, my goodness, melodramatic much? But I totally get it. Old school writers might bristle a bit at some of the work that goes viral, but people respond with shares and likes because someone is speaking to them and for them. That has value. That is real. That alone makes blogging worth it.

Ellen: But I’m still not understanding why you are so bristly. We expect to make money from blogging and we do. Why is it so bad if others expect us to make money too?

Erin: In my experience, money doesn’t always measure what really matters. I don’t make money being a mom and it has been a worthy, many say even a noble pursuit. It has also been the most important thing I will ever do.

I’m not going to say that blogging is even in the same realm as mothering, but it has value to me beyond a paycheck. Your lovely garden is valuable not just because it brings beauty into my life, but also from the joy I see it gives you.

Blogging brings me joy and therefore is inherently valuable, just like your pretty garden.

Ellen: You sound like an SAT analogy. So, let me get this straight. You just want everyone to love our word babies as much as we do?

Erin: Is that too much to ask?! We started this blog because we felt a need to tell a story, our story, to other people. Self-expression is valuable in and of itself. Finding a way to bring your own personal truth to light even in a small way is valuable to your own well-being.

Ellen: Yeah, everyone deserves to know the personal truth of your issues with Andy Griffith. Earnest much?

Erin: One of the best parts about blogging is that we said we were going to do it and then we did it and then we kept doing it: two to three posts a week, 350 posts and counting. As Amelia Earhart said, “The most effective way to do it is to do it.” The act of simply doing it for almost three years now is valuable even if there was no paycheck.

Ellen: Did you get us a contract with Nike? That was a lot of “Just Do It.” But I have to insist that paychecks are nice. Really, really nice.

Erin: I’m starting to think YOU would be one of the annoying people at a cocktail party.

Ellen: Okay, calm down. So what is your point to people who may not understand blogging? To those bloggers starting out?

Erin: Well, for people who don’t understand blogging I would tell them how it is just worth it, dammit. Writing is a wonderful concoction of creativity, work, and baring your soul. And blogging is all that plus learning HTML, graphic design, social media, promotion, negotiation, and selling your product, which is when you really come down to it, a little piece of your heart.

Ellen: Hmmmmm, maybe that is more of an understanding of blogging than a normal citizen should be expected to know walking into cocktail hour.

Erin: But it is the perfect inspiration for those first starting out as bloggers. But one more point before I let this dead horse crawl mercifully into its grave: IT IS SUCKY TO ASK SOMEONE IF THEY ARE MAKING MONEY. EVER. Especially if it is the first question.

Ellen: I agree with you on that, Sister, but you might want to exercise a little bit of patience for those who don’t understand right out of the gate. Just sayin’. But forget those people because I am here to give you your Medal of Blogging Bravery because I know how much it costs to put words out there, no matter how much you are getting paid.

Erin: That’s all I ever really wanted.

 

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5 Things All Teen Girls Need

It’s back-to-school and we’re gathering all of the necessary supplies for a great year. It’s so much work to fill those carts, and really painful to empty those wallets, but that’s not where the prep ends.

With the start of school, calendars explode with activity and what’s important to the core of our girls’ lives can get lost in zooming from Point A to Point B while not forgetting to check off Item C and drop off Project D. Some of the most important things they’ll need for success aren’t things we can buy, but things we need to make room for in our lives and in theirs.

 

 5 Things All Teen Girls Need

 

Money can't buy these "Five Things All Teen Girls Need." #parenting - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

1. A Soft Place to Land

Middle school and high school can be rough to navigate–inhospitable even. Girl World especially has a complicated landscape where petty jealousies and miscommunications can wreak havoc and become all consuming.

Girls need to know that home is their safe place. Continuing rituals from their childhood that provide time to talk–like a regular mealtime or bedtime routine–means that girls know they already have a time scheduled for your attention and help. You are no longer reading them bedtime stories, but it’s reassuring for them to know they have time to tell their stories to you.

 

2. Time to Just Be

Girls love downtime. The mind and heart are wired for connections and these are born in the spaces in between band and volleyball practice and helping to decorate the gym for the Homecoming Dance. Acknowledging their inherent need for moments to relax and recharge will go miles towards helping them be their best, most authentic selves. Every minute is precious, but not every minute needs to be scheduled.

Every minute is precious, but not every minute needs to be scheduled. - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms - 5 Things All Teen Girls Need

 

3. Our Two Cents

We know the value of keeping our mouths shut. A lot of peace can be had in the Kingdom of Teens when we don’t comment or even raise an eyebrow at every little thing, but there are bigger issues where we need to model how to form an opinion or take a stand.

Strong women don’t hang out in the middle of the road, but steer their own course. Telling them how we feel about big events and small happenings lets them know us better and gets their minds working to help them learn about themselves.

 

4. Adventure

They sometimes groan and grumble when we show up with a paddle or a walking stick ready to take them on a trail or river, but once they are out there, they are just fine. Exercise and fresh air does wonders to clear the mind and boost self-esteem. Nothing provides a sense of accomplishment like jumping off that ledge, paddling against that current, or finding your way back from that trail.

5 Things All Teen Girls Need - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

5. Opportunities to Grow

Whether they are musical or artistic or athletic or academic, girls need a chance to try on different hats. Here’s the secret: Throw out the “or.” They don’t need to pick just one persona from the list or stick with that one choice forever. They need chances to see themselves differently and imagine different futures for themselves. They need the encouragement to try new things, embrace mistakes, and reject limiting labels.

To that end, we highly recommend the organization Girl Talk and its LeaderU Summit. Dedicated to helping girls develop leadership skills, Girl Talk is a a peer-to-peer mentoring program for high school and middle school girls. Founded by Haley Kilpatrick, Girl Talk wants to help teens build self-esteem, expand their leadership skills, and foster a heart for community service.

Our daughters were fortunate to be sent to the Summit by FAAR, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. You can read what our girls wrote about their experience here. This probably goes without saying, but we’re pretty proud of their published work. All opinions expressed here and there are all our own and their own.

5 Things All Teen Girls Need #Parenting - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

 

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Check out our books, “I Just Want to Be Alone” and “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.”

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Spring Into The Light Book List

A book list to brighten your spring and tickle your funny bone.| Humor | Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

The daylight hours are getting longer, and spring is finally in the air. Why not celebrate all of this new found “light” with some humor? Here are some books that will tickle your funny bone. Perfect tidbits of humor to pass some time on the sidelines or in carpool line.

FEATURED PICK! And not just by us, but by Inside Edition too!

I Heart My Little A-Holes: A bunch of holy-crap moments no one ever told you about parenting

Our New York Times Bestselling friend, Karen Alpert, is a force of funny and truth! For instance, those tricked out strollers are the devil and so is Daylight Savings Time, but minivans should totally be revered. A baker’s dozen of cupholders! C’mon! She loves her kids and it shines through in her writing, but what a relief she doesn’t sugarcoat all of the frustrations of motherhood. She let’s you know it doesn’t diminish your motherly devotion to go scream in the closet every once in a while. On second thought, take her book in the closet with a flashlight and enjoy the catharsis of laughter instead. It’s easier on the vocal cords. Might we suggest starting with her “Mom’s Serenity Prayer” on page 170.

You can buy it here.

Ketchup Is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves

This New York Times Bestseller is the perfect blend of charm, humor, and nod-your-head-along truth. In our society where mothers are constantly encouraged to strive for perfection, Robin makes it clear that ‘Imperfectly Good’ is a high compliment. She will make you laugh until you cry when she talks about her family’s improbable visit from the FBI,her Big Berthas,and her faux cuss words. Her awkward naked moments are worth the price of admission into her world. This book is a nugget of comedy gold with a sweet center of tenderness.

suburban haikuSuburban Haiku: Poetic Dispatches from Behind the Picket Fence

This is not the haiku you remember from fifth grade. These are the smart, observational poems from Peyton Price that convey the unwritten and complex etiquette of suburbia in easy to digest morsels. You’ll looking over your shoulder because she has to be following you to capture your life so accurately. She paints everything from travel teams, to AP tests, to neighborhood bylaws with her poetic license.

So here’s the deal, you’ll get this book and want to tell a friend about a poem because it is so spot on. You’ll show your friend the haiku, but then you’ll notice she’s turning pages. Brace yourself because this is coming next, “Hey, can I borrow this?” So you are left with the choice, “Do I say yes and lose access to all of this entertainment?” or “Do I say no and get talked about at the next PTA meeting?” (There’s a haiku for that.) The solution is simple really: buy one for yourself and at least one more. You’ll be the belle of the car line.

moms who drink and swearMoms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind

When we stumbled upon the blog, Moms Who Drink and Swear, we kind of pictured a gang of moms tossing back beers and yo-ho-hoing like merry wenches à la Pirates of the Caribbean. When we delved deeper, we found a sharp-witted, hilarious writer who refuses to worship at the altar of perfection. Nicole Knepper, a smart, educated woman who is a girlfriend’s girlfriend, serves up a heaping dose of “this is the real motherhood” in her new book. Chapters such as “Making New McFriends” and “Dinner is Like Herpes” will have you nodding along while laughing to the point that people will feel obliged to ask, “Are you okay?”

Moms Who Drink and Swear breezed in and out of our lives too quickly.

We met Nicole Knepper. Total squee moment. She is a sweetheart.

 


Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) Erin recently spent the better part of a middle school Science Olympiad getting the stink eye as she laughed out loud reading this book. It was worth every uppity helicopter parent takedown. Very rarely does a book really make you laugh out loud, but both of us actually recorded snort-laughs. The best part of this party in a paperback though is the warm, down-to-earth advice and stories Mindy Kaling shares. Her revelations aren’t mind-blowing so much as refreshing and worthy of sharing with your favorite teen girl. While it may not be shocking to hear Kaling talk about how much she enjoyed spending time with her family as a teen, it’s awfully nice to hear especially from someone who has clearly mastered the fine art of being yourself and being a special someone as well.

Bossypants Nobody likes the woman who complains about everything she has to do, but everyone loves the one who makes lemonade while juggling way too many lemons. Tina Fey proves that she makes the best lemonade on the planet right now but encourages us to go for it too. As enjoyable and easy-to read as it is ambitious and smart, Bossypants provides the perfect counterpoint to the brouhaha over the B-Word. By the end of the book, you’ll be begging for someone to call you bossy because Fey shows you what a wonderful word it can be.

May we also humbly remind you that we too are in a tome of humor? We love reading this book as much as we love being in it. The wit is sharp, the writing is pithy, and the humor is expansive. Add it to your book list and give it a look.

Buy it here.

Buy it here.

 Happy Reading!

-Erin and Ellen

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Musings on Books and Asparagus

We seem to be on a Green Grocer kick here at the Sisterhood. The other week we were talking about how boundaries were like Brussels sprouts (it’s a great analogy, really, check it out). And then we followed up with this post where the disparaging things Erin said about cantaloupe were at least balanced by her kiwi rhapsodies.

And the veritable veggie streak continues because today we are talking with Abby Heugel of Abby Has Issues. Sure, the first thing you think of when you hear her name is funny, tight, original writing. But this lady loves her produce with all of her vegan heart. Why, she has this hilarious song she penned about asparagus, . . . but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

What we really want to say is that we are so honored to be sharing space with her in not one, but TWO anthologies: “You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth” and the available for pre-order “I Just Want to Be Alone.”  Here is just a little teaser of her piece in the new book.

Abby Has Issues

You can also order right now on iTunes.

But while Abby is a vegan, she is no virgin to publishing. Don’t let the alliteration lead you to get those two confused. She has two books of her own out: “Abby Has Issues” and “Abby Still Has Issues.”

Books By Abby Heugel

You can buy her books here.

Ellen sat down to chat with Abby about all things important or at least what you can cover in eight questions. Of course by “sat down,” we mean they were both sitting at their computers burning up the interwebz with their fabulous-ity (otherwise known to people who aren’t in the biz as emailing).

Musings on Books and Asparagus

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Abby: My blog’s name is “Abby Has Issues” because a) I’m a magazine editor/writer and b) I have serious issues. See what I did there?

Ellen: I do see what you did there! Clever and short. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms, while perfectly descriptive, is a wee bit lengthy. A pop-up warning should have appeared when we purchased that domain name: “Are you sure you want to type that for all of eternity or at least until the internet implodes?”

Can you tell us a little about your two books “Abby Has Issues” and “Abby Still Has Issues.”

Abby: They’re collections of some of my best blog posts over the past three or four years, most of which relate how I have issues with everyday things from playing Bingo in the retirement home with my grandma to going through a car wash or a letter I wrote to my new yoga pants. If nothing else, reading my books will give you a laugh and make you feel normal.

Ellen: Plus it’s like a vault for your best material just in case, you know, the internet implodes.

What is one of your favorite chapters in one of your books?

Ellen: One of my favorite chapters in “Abby Still Has Issues” is “Couchgating 101” because let’s face it, it IS a ripoff to go see games at the stadiums and I do like to be casual in my robe.

Abby: I don’t think I could pick one or two essays as my favorites, as I liked all of them enough to put them in there and kept the duds out of print (and hopefully in Internet obscurity, like MySpace but much less popular and no Tom included.) The stories about my grandma are popular and I love that I captured her wit and could share it with others while keeping the memories for myself. Then there are the posts about setting up Martha Stewart, applying to be a naked sushi model and the tale of my mom burying a dead cat in a sweater. How could I pick just one?

Ellen: There will be no “Sophie’s Choice” required here. And really, if people just buy the books, they get them all. See what I did there?

Asparagus seems to come up a lot with you. Can you explain this phenomenon?

Abby: Ha. Yes, the asparagus, such as the stalk I am “smoking” in my profile picture and to which I wrote a song via blog post about a couple weeks ago. To be honest, I’m just a vegan who just really loves my vegetables–asparagus, broccoli and avocado, specifically (I know this is a fruit, but zip it). So that’s just kind of become my “thing.” I have a cool picture in my kitchen of avocado and asparagus, a couple plates and fun kitchen things from my mom and of course, the profile picture (and stinky urine, but whatever. I pee alone.)

Ellen: Fun fact! Some people boast their pee doesn’t stink after eating asparagus, and scientists use to think it was because they didn’t break down asparagusic acid into smelly sulfur compounds. But now it is believed those lucky ducks just can’t smell it. Only about one-quarter to one half of the population appears to have the gene that allows them to smell the asparagus aftermath.

Not being able to smell asparagus pee is a single gene mutation, by the way, for those of you keeping track. In related news, I’m just itching to unveil my new baby shower game: Feed the Guests Asparagus, Sniff the Urine Samples, and Then Plot the Genetic Variability Amongst the Group. Hey, it’s just as good as some of these here.

What do you think about when you are alone in your car?

Abby: I’m almost always alone in the car, and I often think “I’m the only one who knows how to drive in a Michigan winter” and “If you beep your horn .03 seconds after the light turns green, I can promise I will shut off my car, lie on the hood and feed the birds for an hour.”

Ellen: I would pay money to see that.

Who/What scares you?

Abby: Professional adults who use words like “cray cray” and “adorbs” in conversation, people with clipboards, unemployment, sneezing while driving and the thought of an avocado, asparagus or hummus shortage. Also death and toast when it pops up, no matter how prepared that I think I am (for the toast, not for death.)

Ellen: Totes obvi to all of those.

What was the last good deed you did?

Abby: Once a month I try and make chocolate pretzel treats for the nurses and old people at my grandma’s old people home to a) thank the staff and b) get the seniors on a sugar high. Also, I’ve sent a couple small gift cards and actual greeting cards to friends the past couple of weeks. When I feel like life is beating me down, I try and give karma the bird.

Ellen: This is why we love you Abby.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever lost?

Abby: My verbal filter. I’m working on that one.

Ellen: May I speak for all of us when I say, I hope you never find that filter, funny lady.

 

You can purchase I Just Want To Be Alone here. You have to go to the store to get your own asparagus.

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