Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Coffee and Grace

Every morning I stop in at my local donut shop for a hot cup of heaven.  Yesterday morning I began talking to the man behind the counter.  You know him.  He’s the one that always remembers how many sugars you like and is generous with his smiles and donuts.  He’s the one that looks old and young all at the same time.

I was surprised to find out that he’s alone here, supporting a family in another country thousands of miles away; A country filled with internal strife and poverty.  He smiles and says, “My youngest will visit this summer.”  Pride enhances his smile when he boasts of his daughters, now in medical school.  There were so many questions I wanted to ask him, but his eyes said it all.

Which got me thinking - the reason I’m not on the other side of that counter missing my family on the other side of the world has little to do with making proper choices.  He was born into a slew of struggles I’ll never have to overcome, and some I’ll never even comprehend.  Sure, we all have our battles and I carry my wounds like metals of honor.  But hearing his story makes me remember how unfair life can be and how strong the human spirit is.

Which leads me to the Joan Baez song lyrics stuck in my mind this morning, “There but for furtune go you and I."  or, "There but for the grace of God go I."

Peeking into the rooms of my sleeping children, soft down blankets wrapped around their warm bodies, I’m thankful.  What am I thankful for?  Grace.

What are you thankful for?

Happy Thanksgiving
Please support me with your honesty.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too Bad Plan B Pill Doesn’t Cure Asthma

Wonderfully DysfunctionalI got a call from the school nurse last week. It went something like this:

“Your son is having an asthma attack. Please pick him up.”

“Oh shit!  Give him a breathing treatment.”

“I can’t," the nurse snapped. "You didn’t provide the proper doctor-signed forms.”

“REALLY? You’re not gunna treat him?”

“I can’t. You had plenty of notice about providing the proper forms....and you sent him in with an expired inhaler.”  The lecture went on.

So, my son was sucking air through a straw in the midst of an asthma attack, sitting next to a cabinet full of inhalers, the nurse unable to break the rules to help him. Meanwhile, in a NY city school, a nurse is handing out Plan-B morning after pills like a pez dispenser. I can’t help but feel like regulation has taken the place of common sense.

In the ABC News report, New York City Schools Give Plan B 'Morning After' Pill to Teens,
Wallace states, "I do think we need to use caution in providing the Plan B pill to teens who may not fully understand why and how to use it."

Really? Do ya think?

The school nurse can’t give a Tums without a notarized letter from a pediatrician, but Plan B pills and contraception? How many do ya want?

I’m not taking a stand for or against Plan B, I’m just saying lets be consistent. We can’t keep buying a bigger garbage can, sometimes we need to get off our ass and take out the garbage.

Where do you see contradiction?

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Should We Care What The Neighbors Think?

I’m often lecturing the kids with righteous statements like, “Be yourself.” and “You shouldn’t care about what others think of you.”

Just the other day, I forced the kids to help me pull weeds.  The front yard looked like Jurassic Park and we were having a party that weekend.  I picked through rotting flowers, ranting, “We look like white trash.  I can’t believe I let it get this bad.”

Wonderfully DysfunctionalThe Boy, who was sitting on the driveway happily procrastinating, suddenly came to life. “Mom! I thought you said we shouldn’t care what people think about us.”

I snapped back, “That’s true, but look at this place.  Aren’t you ashamed to live here?”

Sure that he found a way out of doing chores The Boy jumped to his feet and said, “I don’t care what people think about me and neither should you Mom.” 

The kids are genius at using my words against me. I’m in charge of teaching good core values, but there I was again…speechless. Why did I care what the house looked like?

In the article Why You shouldn’t Care What Others Think About You, Michael Miles states, “We didn’t want to be singled out by the crowd for being different…” and goes on to call this “the drug of approval and importance.”

School kids feel the pressure to fit in more than ever.  So where do we draw the line of having a healthy need for acceptance?  And why must I have such a smart-ass kid?

After a brief fight with myself, I stood up and proclaimed, “I don’t care what others think.  I want the house to look nice for ME. Now hurry and help me finish before the neighbors see me wearing these dirty jeans."

How are you driven to fit in?

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Update on the book:
was rated
#1 Amazon Best Selling Family Memoir!
Huge Thanks to YOU.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Confessions of a Dysfunctional Mother

I never claimed to be a perfect mom. 

Here are some of my mommy-confessions (some old ones too):
  • I never read to my toddlers.  Good mommies read to their babies, right?  Well, I fell asleep by page 3 - literally snoring on the playroom floor.  Three-year old crying, “Read Momma.”
  • I forgot about the kindergarten Halloween Parade.   That child walking the parade without a costume?  He was mine.
  • I taught the kids how to make prank calls.  Didn’t I read somewhere that prank calling helps children develop phone skills, reaction time and bi-lingual abilities?
  • My kids are late for school, again.   I pretend I don’t know what time it is, as I share a warm blueberry muffin with my teens in the local coffee shop.  I *know* – I’m horrible!
  • I taught the kids to forge my signature.  Have you seen the amount of paperwork that comes home in backpacks these days?  Now I don’t have to sign anything.  Hey… has anyone seen my checkbook?
I guess I can admit I’m not even trying to be perfect.  BUT, what I AM trying to do is raise some amazing, kind, intelligent, strong children.  Being myself seems to be working for now. 

My idea of a perfect Mom is one that’s not perfect at all.  My kids may disagree with me.  “Go get me a muffin, brats!”
What’s your confession?
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Please support me with your honesty.

Update on the book:
was rated
#1 Amazon Best Selling Family Memoir!
Huge Thanks to YOU. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Why should kids talk when they can IM?

When I was a kid, being “social” meant to engage in face-to-face conversation, poker, board games and Sunday dinner.  Mom had to drag us into the house for bedtime and there wasn’t an inch of our neighborhood that we hadn’t explored.

Now? Advances in technology have brought social tools like twitter and Facebook to get us connected.  I’m hooked too. 

But have we really advanced?

  • The PlayStation allows my son to visit his older cousin online.  They can spend endless hours playing shooting games together, talking smack to newbies, and killing people.
  • The DS allows kids to sit right next to each other, play an entire game together, and never have to say a word to each other.
  • Facebook allows me to see what’s going on in the lives of my old friends.  I can stalk their pages, see what their kids look like, reminisce of the good old days, and never have to say a word to them.
  • Twitter allows me to have casual conversation with a bunch of strangers, and since we’re limited to 140 characters, we always will be strangers.
Admittedly, I’m a “Social” tool addict.  But I wouldn’t be upset if we replaced it all with good-old Sunday dinner, pen pals and town picnics.
How social are you?
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Raising a Man or an Imposter?

Nobody really wants to raise a coward, chauvinist or swindler, but we’re crankin’ them out in droves.

The Muscle Man:  Flexes his muscles and makes sure everyone knows how important he is.
The Magician:  Magically disappears when any real work needs to be done. 
The Caboose:  Has his nose permanently attached to his boss’ crack. 
The Coward:  Goes to church on Sunday, and then cheats on his wife Monday night.
    How can I teach my son to be a man with integrity, honor and accountability when the world is littered with the opposite? 
The Article, Teaching teenage boys to respect women, reports, “In a world of raunchy music videos, sexually explicit video games, and (some) teenage girls growing up way faster than they should, it is very important to instill good values into your adolescent son.”
I agree.  But I think we can battle the bad influences.  Hell, I’m not saying I’m perfect or I have all the answers.  I just know the man I don’t want my son to be.
So here are some things I tell my son:
  • Don’t be a snitch.
    School rules support the idea that it’s honorable to tattle; Tell the truth and save yourself. 
    I tell my son, “Only snitch if the person is in danger, if what they are doing might hurt themselves or someone else.”
  • Be a Leader.
    Leaders don’t need followers; they just need an independent mind.
    I tell my son, “Take a look at someone you admire.  What makes them stand out? They don’t follow the crowd.  Remember, bossing other kids around doesn’t make you a leader.”
  • Be Accountable.
    Every now and then I screw up.  And when I do, the last thing I want to do is tell my kids.  But I fight my intense need to be right and say, “Sorry kids, Mom’s not perfect.”
  • Have Honor and Integrity.
    These can be challenging for a teen to grasp.  We watch movies that embody honor and integrity like: Scent of a Woman, Officer and a Gentlemen, Grand Torino and Witness.
How are you raising your future man?
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Update on the book: 
CreateSpace just started formating the INSIDE of the book- So Excited! 
Due to be in print before this summer *big smile*

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Calm Down. It's Not A Crack Pipe!

And the woman toting a designer bag and high-fashion sunglasses approaches me in the A&P parking lot. 

She snarls, “You really shouldn't let your kids sit on the roof of your car."

She’s acting like I’m sharing a crack pipe with them.  Obviously, I’m not a kid.  I don’t have a damn clue why sitting on the roof of the car is fun, but it is. 

"Lighten up. What’s the harm?"

Here are some other things I let my kids do:
  • Jump off of the second floor balcony onto the couch
  • Draw with soap crayons all over the windows
  • Climb out their bedroom windows and sit on the roof
  • Drink coffee
  • Shoot my bird house with airsoft guns
But, more importantly, here are the things I don’t let my kids do
  • Bully other kids
  • Disrespect grownups
  • Drink mountain dew, Monster, or Beer
I’ve seen lots of disrespectful little bullies in the schoolyard these days.  Maybe parents should reconsider what bad behavior is.

What do you let your little brats do?

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hello God. It’s me, Buffi.

And here it is... the cover proof. 

I was so thrilled to see the proof this morning!  I even printed it out and wrapped it around a Judy Blume book.  Now, I’m walking around the house with this jury-rigged version of my book.  I turn to the dishwasher and say, “Would you like me to sign your copy?”  That’s how insane this publishing process has made me!  Someone commit me.

Anyway, I need to approve this design or submit a change request.  Here’s my dilemma:  I think the subtitle and my name are hard to read.  What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by!
Please support me with your honesty.
CreateSpace gets an A!
I used CreateSpace for the cover design and I think they did a good job.  They got me the cover quickly and really listened to my needs.  I’m holding the final review of their services until the end.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I'm a Senior Driver (re-posted)

I was walking out of the bagel store yesterday and noticed a car parked crooked. The back end was all the way over the white line into another parking space. Don’t you HATE that?

I was secretly having a discussion with the driver saying things like:
“Did your five year old park the car for you?” and “Did you get hit over the head with a baseball bat today?”

But then it happened. I realized the parked car was mine! But here’s the really terrible part – it was not the first time this week I did that. What’s wrong with me?

Now I’m saying to myself:
“It’s only a matter of time.” and “You’re only as old as you act.”

This is how it all began. First I started peeing my pants every time I laughed, now I can’t park straight and before you know it I’ll be on line for the early-bird specials at the local Perkins.

And then one day, when I’m not paying attention, I'll run one of my kids over…

OK… don’t freak out – I’m in a parking lot here and my daughter is acting. We were laughing so hard I peed my pants - really!

Have you turned into a Senior Driver?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thinking Outside the Bath

It was summertime almost a decade ago.  I was a workin’ mama with toddlers in the house.  The night was no different than most.  Dinner was done and we were making the most of the remaining daylight. 

Then it came.  My nightly torture:  Bathtime.

Bathtime meant prying the baby girl’s arms from the jungle gym and yanking the baby boy from the blowup pool.  Then lots of “Mommy I got soap in my eyes.” Followed by, “No you can’t dump the water on the floor.”
If the dimming sky didn’t remind me that Bathtime was near, the family alarm clock would.
Husband: “You need to give the kids a bath tonight.”
Me: “I just gave them one last night.”
Husband:  “They’ve been running around all day.  They look like sweaty little pigs.”
Me: “Its baby sweat.  It doesn’t even smell.”

The kids are so smart.  Show one chink in the parental armor and they dig in with their sharp little nails.  “I don’t want to take a bath.”  Then the parrot, “Me too.”  Then the Husband, “Why aren’t the kids in the bath yet?”

At the end of Bathtime, I was the only one ready for bed.

I could have consulted with article on Making Bathtime Fun Again.   I could have bought more bath toys, given formal notification before pouring water over their heads, or filled the bath with only an inch of water.  Really?

Maybe I should have consulted my mother.  You know her generation had to bathe their children in water carried in from the well.  What do we modern-moms have to complain about?

So, what did I do? 

I threw out the advice and did it my way.  I brought the bath out to them.  I placed the blowup baby pool on the deck and filled it with warm water (used a good old fashioned hose for that).  Then, I handed them a bottle of no-tears baby shampoo, sat on a lounge chair with a glass of wine and watched the magic.  The next night we used the kitchen sink.

Bathtime turned into bubbles, laughter and shampoo-hair dos. 

From that night on, I had the cleanest kids on the block.  And I never had to clean the tub again.  Win-Win.

How do you think outside the bath?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Take Your Shorts Off

Buffi Neal - Wonderfully DysfunctionalMy son has a pair of shorts that I absolutely detest.  To me, they look like something a corner drug dealer would wear.   To him, they look like they got stripped off the body of an NBA player.  To make matters even more complicated, they were a gift from his older cousin.

So, we begin our morning battle:

“Why do you have to wear those shorts when you have a whole drawer of shorts that fit you?”

“These do fit, Mom.  They’re supposed to be long.”

I hold up the shorts I just bought him.  “Here’s a nice pair.  Why don’t you wear these?”

But The Boy is clever.  “Okay Mom, I’ll wear those tomorrow.”  He runs out the door to catch the bus.

So I look to the experts.  In an article entitled Mothers HaveUnleased the Guns of Wardrobe Warfare, moms are paying $300 for personal shoppers to help their teens dress in age-appropriate fashion. 

I’m speechless and nauseous.

An article by entitled How to Resolve More Clothing Conflicts, encourages parents to bargain with their teens to wear appropriate clothes.  Really?  Bargain? 

All of my research done, I had a battle-plan.

The battle replays.  But this time is sounds like this:

“Mom!  Do you know where my shorts are?”

“I think the new shorts I bought you are in your drawer.”

“No, Mom.  The other shorts.  The long blue ones.  You know Mom, the shorts you hate….”

“Oh, those.  Did you check the laundry basket?”

“Not there.”

“Did you check the dryer?”

“I checked.  Not there either.”

“That’s weird.  Maybe you left them at a friend’s house.”

“What?  Come-on, Mom, where are they?”

“You’re gunna be late for school, pick another pair of shorts.”

The Boy actually wore a nice pair of shorts that morning and every morning after.  I didn’t need to break the bank paying for a personal shopper or come up with clever bargaining technique. 

I used good old-fashioned diversion mixed with Mommy-knows-best.  I did feel a twinge of guilt.  Should I have told him to check the garbage?

How do you handle your teen wardrobe battles?

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Sunday, April 1, 2012


It’s been almost one full year since I posted on my blog.  Why?   Equal parts of life, fear and procrastination.

2011 was the year that I put my book and blog aside to help a family member.  It was a hard decision, but one I would make again.  Six months of neglect left my blog stagnant, my book late and my writing spirit low.  That’s life.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice for those you love.
When my family obligation was completed, I found myself completely unable to write.  I had lost my edge, my confidence, and once fear showed its ugly little face, procrastination was my only option.
Psych Basics Article on Procrastination states, “Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions.... Procrastinators may say they perform better under pressure, but more often than not that's their way of justifying putting things off.”

What’s good news?  This post is proof that it is possible to overcome procrastination and fear.
Note to my Son:  If Mommy can post this blog, after a year of excuses; you can finish that science project you had all month to do.

I’m on Chapter 13 of my final book edit and my publisher is waiting with my finished cover.  I will no longer let my book and blog be the victim of my life, my fears or my procrastination. 

Stay tuned for another post next week.  Thanks for all of your emails and constant support.  It’s great to have a pen back in my hand.
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