I want to be Sia when I grow up (& here’s why)

I wish I could go around life in a Sia wig.

Lucy’s first concert experience was a few weeks ago…and I took her to see Sia of the famed black and white wig and the giant bow and the “cheap thrills.”


MAN ALIVE, it was something else. It was weird and dazzling and I can’t get her amazing songs out of my head (or those funny little dancers jumping around like skin-toned lemurs).


That’s Sia…way in the back…getting all happy and chilly in the dancers’ springy shadows

I’ve also decided that I want to be Sia when I grow up.

I’m telling ya, this woman has it figured out.

Here’s somebody with a crazy gift — pipes that won’t quit, songwriting chops for days — but she doesn’t love being “the star,” the center of everyone’s spotlight, a perfect product to be bought and sold.

So she hides under the bow and the bangs, she stands stock still in the corner of the stage, and she sings her wig off. The clamoring masses never see her face.

She still uses her gift. She still sings her song. But she does it without giving everything away, without making it all about HER.

To me, that is something truly magical and unheard of in pop culture.


I feel like I need to open a vein today and just confess something to y’all.

My very first book is out there now in the world, as you know all too well, and I’m trying in my teeny little way to promote it and sell it and help people know about it. It’s become a major part of my life at this moment in time.

And while the high of my first book-signing was a joy in every way and I’ll never forget the beauty of that night, I also want you to know…I’m sick of seeing my own face.

I’m weary of my life being consumed with self-promotion, of always trying to work an angle, of fixating on details and sales figures and Amazon reviews and what to say and what to wear.

These are wonderful problems to have, I’m aware. But I just wanted to tell my dear friends out there who are following me on this strange new journey — please know that all this book-selling business really isn’t my bag. (Which is obvious because I’m not doing it very well…)

I’m like every other writer who’s been dragged by her bitten-down fingernails from her cozy quiet hovel into the semi-public eye. I’d much rather squirrel away at my desk and string words together…create something funny or useful or something not so very much about ME. Lord knows, I’m so very tired of me.

Today I want to be Sia.

I still want to sing my song. In the corner. Preferably in a wig.


Oh yeah, and whenever possible, under a fuzzy blanket.


Hair I Am

There’s just something about a bad pun that stirs my cornball soul.

And when a business puts all its eggs in a pun’s basket–when their entire name, brand, business model, and marketing strategy are based entirely on a painful pun–there’s just nothing better in my book.

Beauty parlors are absolute masters of this. If there’s a way to work in the words “shear” or “cuttin'” somewhere, anywhere, on a business card, they will DO IT.


This trend is best exemplified by the ultimate beauty parlor pun: Curl Up & Dye. It’s everywhere. But we can do better.

I’ve been jotting down ridiculous pun-tastic beauty parlor names for years, and I recently struck upon THE ONE BEAUTY PARLOR PUN TO RULE THEM ALL.

But I need to build to that.

To whet your appetite, allow me to share a tasty sampler of my very favorite beauty parlor names that I’ve collected from across this great land. You’ll thank me later.

(Throat clearing noises…) I give you:

  • Best Little Hair House – Voluntown, CT. This is not only hilarious, but there also may be scandalous levels of permanent waves going on here.
You see that I had no choice but to veer off wildly and take a picture.
  • Hairoics – Kill Devil Hills, NC. These heroes of cosmetology are ready to storm your grays like the beaches of Normandy.
  • Vanity Hair – Onancock, VA (which the Internet tells me is now closed, but not for lack of classy pun perfection);
  • Cutt’n Up – Hayes, VA. (Not to be confused with Kuttin Up in Hampton, VA. The kreative use of K’s opens up whole new worlds of possibilities.)
  • Bee’s Hive of Beauty, New Rochelle, NY.  This is just adorably home-spun, even though it harkens back to a big oversized do that’s now a big oversized don’t.

BIG bonus points for their tag line: “Weapons of Mass Seduction.”

But there’s one barber shop name that stands HEAD and SHOULDERS above the rest. (See what I did there?)

We just happened upon it the other night, and it blew me away with pure pun-tastic genius. I can’t NOT laugh every time I think of it.

I guess after so many plays on the words “head” and “clip” (usually with the letter Z tagged on to the end), I’d gotten hungry for something bold and new on the menu…something I never saw coming. Sort of like an ostrich burger.


The heavens are parting now.

Here it comes…


Right smack dab in New London, CT.

The 2nd Combing.

WAIT FOR IT. Chew on it a minute.

Oh yeahhhhh. You got it.


If I weren’t such a dork, I could retire from my pun pursuits right now. The 2nd Combing is my pun Everest.

Yet I press on. I will continue my quest for the most ridiculous beach house names, boat names, even strip club names…but I don’t see how anything can top this one in the whole realm of barber shop names.

But maybe you have some choice offerings I’ve missed. Please please please share.

We all need something, anything, to make us laugh these days. Even if it’s just a pun that’s so bad it’s GOOOOD.

Skater in the Broken Places

If you’d have told me something was broken in there, I’d have EATEN. MY. HAT.


Sure, there’d been a little fussing here and there about a foot bothering her after the church roller-skating party. I mean, that’s to be expected after my girl Lucy skated for hours all crazy bowlegged, like she was skating on the inside of her ankles.

We learned way too late that she’d never even tied her laces, like AT ALL. I guess I stupidly thought I was past the point of having to tell a 10-year-old to tie her shoes. (Note to self: I’m not.)

But once she’d done the grueling work of snapping those top straps, she set her course for adventure…her mind nowhere near a hand-me-down set of crutches.


She may not exactly have been Peggy Fleming out there, but she didn’t fall one time. Not once. Even so, stuff was breaking inside.

We know that because a few days later, after some rigorous skipping and Frisbee tossing, she couldn’t drag herself up the stairs without dramatic sobs.

It sort of became our Tonya Harding moment, featuring a wailing girl pointing at where her god-forsaken skate used to be and a stony-faced Nancy Kerrigan-esque mother. (Who’s with me, moms? Don’t pretend like you haven’t been there. Let ye who is without the sin of ignoring a crazy injury and calling it a “flesh wound” throw the first stone.)

“Okay then, if you can’t POSSIBLY go to school,” I proclaimed the next morning, “then I’M TAKING YOU TO THE DOCTOR!”

This was purely a motherly game-of-chicken tactic. I totally expected her to fold.

She said, “Okay.”

Let me just say that it’s serendipitous for clumsy people to be friends with a podiatrist.

So when my foot doctor friend did X-rays (“just to rule out a fracture,” she said), I laughed in her face and waited to be completely red-faced that I’d wasted her time and gamma rays on this silly sideshow.

But X-rays (unlike the occasionally dramatic child) don’t lie. There it was…a little tear-off fracture, actually in two places. One on the tip of her ankle, another on the side of her foot somehow.

How did that happen? I mean, there were people falling in the most calamitous ways that night, staggering like the Walking Dead and taking out entire rows of hand-holding preschoolers. That’s the deal you make at roller rinks; round after round, you just try to stay out of the way of one careening face-plant after another.


A rare moment of calm before the next dazzling display of splatting.


But there was Lucy, never once falling, never making a spectacular scene for the AFV blooper reel, smiling and laughing like normal. You’d never know things were cracking inside.

Something about that is wildly metaphorical to me.

Because isn’t the world full of people who are great at putting on the brave face, at smiling through the pain, at hiding what’s broken? So good that you’d never, ever know. Unless they let you in and showed you the pictures of what was really going on, we’d assume it was all clear sailing and jazz hands to the tune of YMCA.

My girl’s like that. Until the cracks burst and everything pours out in a deluge.

Maybe your kids are like that. Maybe the cranky guy at the DMV is like that, or the non-communicative bagger at Stop & Shop. Maybe you’re like that.

I’m going to go on the assumption that everyone’s kind of like that.

Everyone’s walking around with pain. Everyone is pushing stuff down. Everyone has broken places nobody sees. And while we may not be able to do much about that, everyone could stand to be treated a bit more gingerly in this life.

Around here, I’m gonna start with the little girl with the fractured foot.

Geez, I’m sorry, kid. Maybe I’ll get better at this by the time you leave the house.

Either way, let’s go ahead and put the podiatrist’s phone number on speed dial.











“You Out of Boxes Yet?” and Other Touchy Subjects

Please forgive the dust bunnies in my hair. I’ve just clawed my way out from underneath a towering mound of boxes.


We are currently using these boxes as BLINDS.

The boxes here are heavy and plentiful and they’ve had me surrounded for weeks.

For a while, I wasn’t sure I’d ever dig my way out. But I’m starting to see glimmers of light peeking through the piles. I finally unearthed my jewelry box and my mouse pad.

Friends, there is hope.

In case you haven’t heard (I’ve been off the grid a while), we just moved from one house to another a whopping five minutes away. I swear, it might as well have been the moon.


The act of miraculously containing every single, solitary, dad-blasted thing in one’s possession (from mango chutney to pet rabbit) then lugging every last scrap of it bodily somewhere else then cleaning up the slovenly dust bowl left behind is soul-crushingly, ridiculously hard. I mean, it just is. (Props to you military families. Seriously.)

I’ve heard moving is like childbirth.

That’s probably a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, the new house doesn’t scream at all hours like my newborn did, and in the aftermath, I don’t have to do ungodly things with a squirt bottle. But I can definitely see the parallel.

Moving is painful and messy and exhausting and all your embarrassing bits are revealed (like when you move that armoire you haven’t touched in 14 years and find a shag carpet of lint underneath.) There’s all the back-breaking build-up, that huge push to the finish line, followed by a mind-numbing wave of the “What now’s?”


Here’s the room where random boxes go to die. It is now a fort. Making chicken salad out of…well…you know.

But now that we’re here and settling in and finding room for a metric ton of stuffed animals, it’s totally worth it.

We love it here. We love the way the sun lights up the dining nook. We love all the neighborhood girls who come over and spill bubbles on our porch floor and ride plasma cars down our hill. We love the sense of new life beginning. It’s palpable…like that new baby smell.

Maybe years from now, I’ll forget how painful it was to get here and I’ll be ready to do it all over again.


Let’s just put it in the books right now; somebody’s gonna need to bury me in the backyard. I’m here now, and I’m not leaving.

I’ve thrown away my KitchenAid box to prove it.


Don’t mess. This girl has a power tool – and she knows how to use it. Sort of.

So let’s go ahead and make a pact. Until at least 2019, don’t even bother to ask, “Are you out of boxes yet?”  The answer will be NO.

The boxes are here to stay. And so am I.

If These Floppy Discs Could Talk

Moving is a beast. And technically, I haven’t even started. Not even the first box.


Next month or so, we’re moving. Not to anyplace radical like the mission field or our own private island. It’s just that after all these many happy years of renting, we are so ridiculously on top of each other and we somehow found a house where we can be a little less so without ending up in debtor’s prison.

The new pad is just down the road, but still, it’s not close enough that we’re be able to just take our current house, turn it upside down, and funnel its contents down through our new kitchen skylight.

There is packing to be done. SO MUCH PACKING.

But first there is purging to be done. SO MUCH PURGING.

The past few weeks have been like an archeological dig through our basement and the scary back corners of closets. Weird treasures have been unearthed, things that made me go, “NOOOOOO. WAYYYYYYY.”


Like these giggly recordings of my friends and I doing a grave injustice to the Georgia Satellites in one of those amusement park sound booths. (I’m looking at YOU, Allison Oliverius and Lynn Lyons.)

Then there have been cringe-worthy discoveries that made me go, “UGH, GO AWAY. (And NEVER EVER EVER EVER come back.)”


Y’all. I found my old BREAST PUMP. This is too ICK for words. Consider that lady business deep-sixed.

There have been more than their share of discoveries that have long outlived their usefulness. But still, somehow, I can’t part with them. I mean, please.


My favorite Umbro’s and (ahem) O’Doul’s cozy from college? Maybe I’ll start wearing these shorts around the new neighborhood and see if they’re impressed by the new gal’s youthful verve and fat knees.

But can we talk about all the cords??? OH. MY. LORD. The cords. They’re like intestines. They go on for MILES.


Nobody has the slightest idea where all these cords lead, but I’m guessing the county dump.

Some of these unearthed relics have been objects of great fascination and endless amusement for my children. Data stored via VHS TAPE or FLOPPY DISC? Tell us more about that abacus, Grandma! Oh, do regale us with tales of butter-churning!


I’m scared to throw these away because there is actually cool stuff on these floppies of yore. So if anyone has an old Commodore 64 or a giant ’80s era War Games computer lying around, let me know. Actually, DON’T. That kind of defeats the whole purpose here.

What’s a little harder to grapple with is all my kids’ stuff.

If I try to inch ONE PRECIOUS THING of Lucy’s toward the Goodwill box (be it oversized stuffed Minnie Mouse or tiny Happy Meal toy), she will surely throw herself in front of the moving van in protest.


This is one of the only things she gave away without drama. Not so long ago, Lucy called this her “American Girl Doll.” Cindy, we hardly knew you. I know I’m a sap, but this one kind of gets to me.

Overall, though, I have been able to part with very little of the girl’s loot (that she knows about anyway…).


Shhhhh. I’m trying to figure out how to sneak these uggo Trash Packs out of here.

Will is the less sentimental of the two. Last weekend, he pored through all his old toy boxes with me and saved almost nothing. If the item was not stamped with the word “Lego,” it pretty much got the axe. That means all the Matchbox cars, all the superhero stuff, all the old construction trucks, all the evidences of a little boy life well lived…well, they’re old news.





Anakin–who we all know struggles with rage issues–won’t look me in the eye.

Something about that makes me very sad. Twenty pounds lighter, yes, but also sad.

Moving is all about transition. A big one and a very literal one. One where we get pulled up by the roots we’ve set down, shake off all those old dirt clumps and the hangers-on, and get plunked–fresh and clean–into a new spot where hopefully those roots grow strong and deep all over again.

This purging part of the process (the “shaking off the clumps” part) is good and healthy and liberating and parts of me love it. Oh, but parts of me fear it.

I’m afraid of cutting too close to the bone and regretting the things I parted with. I’m afraid of admitting that some things from our past are in the past to stay. I’m afraid to close the book on little kid childhood.

And I’m afraid to part with stuff like this:


Will made this “sculpture” in art class out of “found objects” and was really proud of it. Did I mention it’s also really large? I am literally afraid to part with it because I will totally get busted.

Until I figure out what to do with that thing, I’ll keep chipping away at all the remaining mounds upon mounds of crap we’ve amassed over the years — like this.



Among other things, our days of dreaming of being “a recorder star” are far behind us.

That’s one relic of a bygone era that I will not mourn.

“Snow” is a Four-Letter Word

I come to you today in a snow-induced stupor. 

Like my car battery, this old brain is cold and sluggish and can only turn over one single, solitary thought:


I mean, I totally get snowbirds now. Those old farts are geniuses

In honor of reaching my annual winter tipping point, here’s a column I wrote about hitting that wall a few winters back (on February 3, 2011 to be exact).

I think we’re all there — and then some. Let’s have a good wintry wallow. You know you want to.


I can still remember a time–and it wasn’t too many moons ago–when nothing could stir my heart with gladness more than two little words:


It was one of childhood’s greatest joys–the out-of-nowhere, mid-winter reprieve from pencils, books, and teacher’s dirty looks.

There would be snow angels. There would be cocoa with faux marshmallow bits. There would be happy snowsuit romping ’til our frostbitten extremities fell off.


This was our first snow this winter — back when grass was still within scraping distance and it was still “fun.”

Like every kid who ever survived those days of unattended downhill sledding too close to car fenders and privet hedges, this was the stuff I lived for in the big boring middle of winter.

Now I’m pretty sure all these blankety-blank snow days are gonna be the slow and painful death of me.


The very sound of my phone ringing at 5 a.m., the very sight of the school on my Caller ID, the very utterance of the words “snow day” makes every part of my face contort–jaws locked, lips pursed, nostrils flared, eyes rolled back in my head.

With this constant “wintry mix” onslaught, my face could literally freeze this way.

Granted, I’m a Southern girl, and we embrace the white stuff in small doses. Like in centimeters.

We think it’s pretty for a while. We think it’s fun to make that first (and hopefully last) snowman. Then we all agree: it needs to go away.


Even beyond my cultural limitations, I’ve got this pesky thing on my desk called a “calendar.” It’s filled with hilarious little words like “plans” and “deadlines” that don’t go away no matter how much precip falls from the sky or how many children are suddenly underfoot.

So as much as I’d love to be that mom who smiles like a lunatic at the words “snow day” and whips out the cookie sheets, I’ll admit it. I’m the grouchy mom who drags around the house in her bathrobe, muttering and shooting my kids the stink eye.

I’m starting to worry that the loony Ally Sheedy character from The Breakfast Club might be right. (Not about making more snow with your own dandruff; we’re all set, thanks). But about that thing she said through tears and layers of heavy black eyeliner.

“When you grow up, your heart dies.”

It seemed a tad melodramatic at the time, but is that what’s happened to me? Am I just a jaded old hag without a drop of childlike wonder left in me?


Because when I look out the window at a winter wonderland, I don’t exactly whoop with joy anymore. I sigh with pained inconvenience.

I don’t dream of catching snowflakes on my tongue; I grouse about wet boots trudging all over my carpet.

I don’t get out there and throw snowballs; I plunk the kids down in front of a screen.


See? Have Wii controllers, will travel.

I’m officially old. And a crank. And my feet are never not cold.

Somebody needs to launch into a pep talk quick–maybe one that says if life gives you lemons, make lemonade…or to be more au courant, if life gives you snow piles taller than your first-born, make snow cream.

That’s what my mom did, and she was probably sick of snow days too.

Sigh. I guess we might as well do something.

We’re stuck here with nothing else to do, and Lord knows we’re stocked up on milk.

Help Wanted: Wise-crackin’ Yard Bird Wrangler

We are inspiring our children to greatness around here.


Here’s how I know.

Lucy informed us last night, “I’m going to be a comedian when I grow up.”  (I’ve apparently screwed her up sufficiently.)

“Or….” she hedges… “a chicken hypnotist.

Hmmmmm. Not sure what that is, but I’m thinking those jobs might call for very similar skill sets.

That girl’s going places…the barnyard maybe, but still.

It’s a place.

Rocking the bus stop like Brian Boitano


I just bought new lipstick, which I clearly haven’t bothered to wear in WAY TOO LONG.

I know this because my kid says to me (with something akin to utter shock): “You have on lipstick today! You look like an ice skater!”

Ummmm…not sure what that means. But weirdly enough, after digging a little deeper, I think she meant “glamorous,” like I was some kind of tarted-up Tonya Harding.

I’ve decided my next additions to the bus stop wardrobe must henceforth be (from top to bottom): 1) lacquered bun pulled so tight it provides a free face lift; 2) plunging neckline with skin-toned webbing bedazzled with Swarovski crystals; 3) head to toe body glitter; 4) preternaturally dark suntan hose.

(I will still wear duck boots.)

This could be the start of a whole new “ice skater” me — a transformation of Olympic proportions.

And to think it all began with a little gloss called “Blushing Nude.” I sure hope the Romanian judges approve.

Day 31 – Allow Me to Introduce…the Jack-o-Lantern

It’s Halloween, and I’ve got a spooky hot crafting tip you won’t read anywhere else.

I mean, this is going to blow Pinterest’s mind.

On this final day of my 31 Days of Fun/Funny/Funtastic Stuff for Families, get ready for a truly grand finale…the ultimate DIY upcycling idea of the millennium.

Okay, here goes:

Step 1: Get a pumpkin from the big cardboard box at Stop & Shop.

Step 2: Carve a hole in the top and scoop out the guts. (Don’t pout about it like my preteen son. Man up.)

Step 3: Carve eyes and a scary smile into it. Stick a lit candle in there.


Voila. This is what’s called in certain cultures…a JACK-O-LANTERN. 

Have you ever?? Don’t you want one?

I could’ve kept this light hidden under a bushel, metaphorically speaking…but I’m a giver. And that’s what this 31 Day challenge has been all about – reaching out to you with awesome sauce ideas that will rock your family’s world.

And trust me, this jack-o-lantern thing is a big deal.

It’s particularly trending in big cities – like Providence, for example. That’s where I got the idea.

Maybe you’ve heard of it, but they’ve got this whole Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo (there’s still time – it ends Nov. 2) with about a billion of these carved creations all over the place.


It’s definitely worth the trip.

Now personally, I’d avoid weekends at this pumpkin-palooza, because people seem pretty amped about this new pumpkin sensation.

But we went mid-week, and the crowd wasn’t too nuts. (Except for those people taking pictures of all 5,000 pumpkins on their phones — including ones that said “Sponsored by: Cardi’s Furniture.” But that’s what phones do to people, I guess.)

Now that I’ve clued you in to this new pumpkin craze, you really should check out the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular if you’re within pumpkin seed spitting distance.

I mean, what a gold mine of ideas — just in case you decide to try your hand at carving a Jack-o-Lantern yourself one day.

After you’ve mastered those triangle eyes, you might even feel savvy enough to take it to the next level.

If so, might I suggest…a castle?


I didn’t steal these pictures off the Interweb. Somebody actually carved these for that Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular. For reals.

Or Elsa?


Or even more exquisite — how about Tom Brady in pumpkin form?


Just some ideas to ponder for next year.

It’s my gift to you this Halloween.

You’re welcome.

AND thank you — for reading and putting up with all my complete and utter nonsense all month long. I’m not sure you can say the same, but I’ve had fun.

Tonight, you might want to look into an activity I hear all the cool kids are doing. It’s called “Trick or Treating” or something like that…

(Finger on the pulse.)

A Happy Happy Halloween to you from Tales from the Crib!

May your pumpkin patch truly be the most sincere.

Day 29 – For a Good Time, Taunt a Furby… (actually, don’t)

I take it back.

Don’t do that. Never, ever do that.

Furbies are modern-day Annabelle dolls; they turn evil.

Did anyone ever tell you that? Because no one ever told me…until it was too late.

So consider yourself warned, dear unsuspecting parent who only wants to give your child the delights of her young heart. Hear this and hear this well.

Furbies are the devil’s spawn.

It seemed right to tell you this at Halloween — before you fall prey to the Christmas marketing machine and allow one of these battery-powered dementors into your home.

Here’s Lucy with her Furby one year ago.


They seemed so happy then.

Okay, the Furby still looks freakish with eyes that glow death. But trust me. This thing giggled a lot. SO MUCH. To the point you wanted to hurl it across the room.

Which might actually have happened. I can’t be sure, but let’s just say there were rowdy boy cousins involved. There was much shaking of the Furby, a good bit of poking, maybe a smidge of mockery.

All I know is, one minute Furby was all hearts and flowers. The next minute Lucy is running to me in terror, crying, “Why is Furby talking like that?? You need to take it back and get me a new one!”

A deep voice was emanating from the Furby now, its eyes slitty and angry. “Stop doing that,” road-rage truck-stop Furby was saying over and over, all cranky and hung-over and skeevy.


It was oddly terrifying, as if we were looking straight into the murderous eyes of Chuckie.

Please forgive my French (as if the French even say this), but WHAT. THE. HELL.


This is a toy. For little kids. That I paid actual money for. And it was quite literally possessed.

Quick as a flash, I googled “weird voice Furby.” And all these discussions popped up about the secret life of Furby that I never knew.

Furby apparently has MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES – everything from Valley girl to country cowboy to evil entity.

One Amazon reviewer shared that her only way out of this torment was to coo and pet and talk sweet to the Furby (all while it hurled insults at her) until the mechanical demon was exorcised.

So there I sat. Stroking a weird furry machine on my lap and begging it in my sweetest voice to”get behind me, Satan.” The grandparents stared at me, agape.

After the longest, most ridiculous ten minutes of my life, a full-body shudder wracked our little demon-possessed furball.

It had been released.

I’m pretty sure Lucy never played with it again.


So here Furby sits on Lucy’s shelf.

This is all it does ever.

(And believe me, it’s only still here because of Lucy’s extreme hoarding tendencies.)

There are books behind Furby that we sometimes try to reach. But we are careful to nudge Furby only ever so slightly in the process.

We do not want to rouse the beast.

So on Day 29 of my 31 Days of Fun Stuff for Families, might I suggest never, ever getting a Furby? Not having an evil toy that talks to your child like a creep with lollipops in a conversion van is lots more fun than having a toy that does. Trust me on this.

Just get Tickle-Me-Elmo and call it a day. Your ears -and your child’s tender psyche- will thank me for it.

P.S. I’d love to hear your weirdo Furby stories! I know I’m not alone in this. Maybe we could form a Furby support group…