For the few people that have been one of my roommates, they all have one thing in common – wondering why I was so obsessed with The Thorn Birds? Why do I even know about the Thorn Birds is a good start, given it aired when I was not even 2 years old in 1983? I guess you can thank my mom for that and her love of all things TV. And Richard Chamberlain.

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Hey, Boo. (Chamberlain was 49 years old, and FINE.)

How can I describe 10 hours of Thorn Birds to you in a few sentences?  The tagline says it all, “Love. Unattainable. Forbidden. Forever”.  Can you think of anything more glorious for a 14 year old girl (or 37 year old woman) to be obsessed with? There’s a unashamedly handsome priest named Ralph, a beautiful young girl, an Australian plantation and enough secrets to fill the wool shed.  Spanning 60 years, The Thorn Birds tells the story of several generations of Cleary women who seem to all have the same problem – they love men that are too ambitious for their own good.  As the main character Meggie says, “I cried for him all my life, like a child crying for the moon.” I don’t even know what that means or why I would cry for the moon, but my gosh, it sounds romantic.

Richard Chamberlain, Jean Simmons, Barbara Stanwyck, and Rachel Ward in The Thorn Birds (1983)

Father Ralph with The Cleary Women, Fee, Meggie and Mary (from left to right)

Now, add into things that this week in between Thorn Birds viewings I also watched the latest season of Big Mouth, and it all starts to make sense why a 14 year old Marie would love this forbidden story so much.  One of the big themes in Big Mouth is how puberty is so isolating and divides us from the people we care about (friends, both female and male, parents and crazy gym teachers).

Missy, Hormone Monster, Jessi from Big Mouth on Netflix

You know what helps you feel less alone? Seeing someone else suffer.  Enter the Thorn Birds.

Every character suffers in this mini-series. Literally EVERY CHARACTER.  Mary Carson, the matriarch of the family wills herself to die on cue just so she can exact the perfect revenge on her unrequited love, Father Ralph.  Meggie gets laid only like 5 times in the whole 10 hours but has 2 kids she has to raise by herself, plus live with her ornery old mother forever.  The brothers never even get a wife, they just “work and obey”.  One dies in jail, one on the range, one with croup or some other condition that only kills babies in 1912.  Barely anyone gets out alive! Even the most holy character ends up dead, trying to save a stranger’s life, of course.

But I love it.  I still cried watching it this time around, even though I know how it’s going to end.   (Plus I spent another $20 on the digital version through Amazon Prime for the convenience of not having to find my dvd copy (or my VHS).  This thing endures! I now own more copies of Thorn Birds than the White Album.)

The main theme of Thorn Birds is that love is painful.  Sometimes its a sweet pain, but mostly its just plain old torture.  And yet, we continue to press our breast to the thorn trying to achieve that love, even though we know it might kill us.  Yes I swear, this is an actual story from the book.

“There’s a story… a legend, about a bird that sings just once in its life. From the moment it leaves its nest, it searches for a thorn tree… and never rests until it’s found one. And then it sings… more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. And singing, it impales itself on the longest, sharpest thorn. But, as it dies, it rises above its own agony, to outsing the lark and the nightingale. The thorn bird pays its life for just one song, but the whole world stills to listen, and God in his heaven smiles.”

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So naturally, this is great viewing when you’re going through puberty and hormonal, horny and angry all the time – you know, being a teenager.  I have most of the 10 hours memorized, which is not something I’m proud of, but it might be good in the “special skills” section on my resumé.

I’m also sure this would be filed under “guilty pleasure” in the realm of the TV miniseries, despite being the 2nd most watched mini-series of all time.  Roots, it’s not.  And usually I’m all for a guilty pleasure, because life is tough enough, you go Netflix and Chill with your Jane the Virgin on a Friday night after your kids go to sleep, Glen Coco.  What was different this time about watching Thorn Birds was the juxtaposition of Big Mouth along side it.  I was Jessi from Big Mouth when I was a tween/teen.  Divorced parents, depressed, full of shame and trying to find where I fit in.  And how I coped was by watching stories like Gone With The Wind, Thorn Birds, It’s a Wonderful Life, Dirty Dancing and Titanic.  So many stories about disappointed love and a life not lived.  The more painful, the better.  I mean why can’t Jack live at the end of Titanic, it’s just not fair!!

Re-watching it now while we are in the age of really dissecting what stories we want told, I couldn’t help but wonder, Did indulging in Thorn Birds for over 20 years do more harm than good? How many ideas about love and romance did I just steal from a movie?  Maybe Nora Ephron said it best, “You don’t want to be in love! You want to be in love in a movie!”

And well, yeah, I do.  Reality has home work and laundry and toddlers who have meltdowns over Barbie shoes.  Love in a movie is a great distraction and there’s nothing guilty about that pleasure.

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When my son was 4 months old, I decided to do a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge.  I was trying to get back in shape after giving birth.  It was something I’d always wanted to do, but never thought I had the time for (or the commitment).  I remember talking to my husband about it and asking him if he thought it was feasible to go to a 90 minute yoga class everyday for 30 days straight?  I was going to have to go back to work (after maternity leave) in the middle of it, but that didn’t deter me.  I made a calendar and figured out for every day of the 30 days, which class I would go to.  My husband would be on baby duty and if he couldn’t ,I enlisted friends and family to help so I could get to that class.  I completed that challenge and it’s still one the things I’m proudest of completing.  That was 7 years ago.

Somewhere between having a newborn to present day, I’ve lost that determination to do something entirely for myself.  The yoga challenge was great because I got into shape, but mostly it was great because it was just for me.  It wasn’t about being a mom or a wife, it was just about being Marie.  And maybe after having a kid, I realized I needed a bit more of that.

Today I went to Comic Con for the day with my sister.  I’m a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo and he was going to be there so I bought a ticket and planned to spend the day.  It wasn’t for work, or for my family, it was just for me.  And the sad truth is, I felt a little guilty.  Do I deserve a day pass for fun? Is this a waste of money? Can I really ask this of my husband to pick up the kids and let me stay out until 5:30pm?

Writing this out now makes me think to myself, GOD I SOUND SO BORING, LIKE A TWO DIMENSIONAL MOM.

Mark Ruffalo at Comic Con (stolen off twitter because I didn’t have the guts to violate the no photo rule)

But hear me out, with 2 kids and a mortgage and work stuff (albeit only part time) I often feel like I’m just a walking/breathing TO DO LIST.  It’s Monday, get groceries.  It’s Tuesday, cook said groceries into dinners.  It’s Wednesday, do laundry.  It’s Thursday, put away the laundry.  It’s Friday, make play dates for the kids.  It’s Saturday, do more laundry.  It’s Sunday, plan family fun time. Rinse and repeat, every week.  The To Do’s run my life, because when I don’t do them I feel like shit and like a horrible mom/wife/person.  So the stakes are high (for me).

So who’s hanging out with my kids while I’m DOING ALL THIS SHIT? Well, I am. But not the way I want to be.  I’m distracted and annoyed about the kids getting in the way of my TO DO list with their being kids and all.  For the longest time I didn’t want to have play dates because I thought, “But they’ll just wreck the kids room.”  Move over, Donna Reed, here I come.  I really thought I wasn’t sweating the small stuff! But when you live in only 800 square feet a little bit of mess feels like a bomb going off in your living room.

In order to avoid the feeling like a shitty mom/wife/person thing, I basically just stopped doing things for myself.  Stopped the gym (no time for that!), stopped the date nights (gotta save money!), stopped planning girls night with my single friends (can’t leave the kids!).  And you know what’s left? BORING TWO DIMENSIONAL MOM, THAT’S WHO.

Listen, I’m only talking about ME and what’s right for ME.  I’m not passing judgement on how other moms get it done.  Everyone has to find their own special blend of mom-i-ness and me-ness in order to be a satisfied person.  It’s the same with working moms and SAHM, to each her own!

I realized this year that I’d been putting ME on the back shelf a lot.  Not entirely, but way more than usual.  No wonder I was stressed, sleeping with a clenched jaw and craving sugar.  SO I took a day to go fawn over Mark Ruffalo and blow off school pick up.  No one got hurt!  My husband stepped in so my kids were taken care of, and I hope that I showed them that mommy gets to still be Marie every now and then.  I do truly believe that modeling for our kids that our needs matter as individuals is good for them to see.

I never watched Breaking Bad, but from what I understand at the end of the series he reveals why he became a drug lord.  Initially it was for his family to have money after he died from cancer (right?) but in the end he says, “I did it for ME!”  This always stuck with me despite NEVER SEEING THE SHOW, because shit, yeah man, do it! I mean, maybe not the crime part, but yes do something for you!

Ultimately it makes me think about this larger question that I am constantly asking myself “What does it mean to be a mom?”  And 7 years in, 2 kids later, I am still figuring it out day by day.

A miraculous thing happened once school started this year.  It was something I’d been praying for for years.  My husband and I talked about it over and over, we hired specialists, we fought about it, then we resigned ourselves to the fact that even though over couples had it, we were never going to.

But finally, my kids started going to bed at night by 9pm.

That’s right, this is what I’d been praying for.

Friends of mine would say, “Oh my kids are asleep by 7:30” and I would literally smile and think to myself something like FUCK-ME-THATS-NEVER-GOING-TO-HAPPEN-FOR-ME-AND-MY-LIFE-IS-BASICALLY-OVER-UNTIL-MY-KIDS-LEAVE-FOR-COLLEGE.  Something like that.

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All summer it was basically “stay late enough at the beach club for my kids to fall asleep in the car” so that I could avoid the whole bedtime routine.  For the most part it worked. (We stayed out pretty late all summer, it was a blast…also, September sucks.) Anyway, I’d given up because after working a sleep counselor (which helped initially) our kids were sucking the life out of us every night at bedtime.  Dylan, my 7 year old son, was always hard to get to sleep ever since we took him out of the crib.  He slept on a cot on the floor of our bedroom for about a year and half, so the fact that we got him into his own bed when we worked with the sleep counselor was pretty magical.

Unfortunately, my kids share a room and a bunk bed situation is what we’ve got going on.  Daphne, 3 years old, is on the bottom while Dylan is on the top.  I even let the kids pick out the bunk bed at Ikea, which is why it doesn’t match the rest of their bedroom furniture.  I tried taking away their screens 90 minutes for bed – which is what sleep specialists recommend.  I tried reading to them, I tried snuggling them, not snuggling them, the chair method, putting them to bed at the same time, at different times, in the same room, in different rooms, I mean, basically I tried everything.  My husband and I gave it everything we had.  And still, no freaking luck.  Bedtime was in some cases taking 2 hours and stretching into 10:30.

How many dishes do you think I want to load into the dishwasher at 10:30? How many loads of laundry do I want to fold? ZERO.

I had nothing left to give.  Forget about actually sitting down to read/watch tv/write/talk to my husband. I was spent, and the only thing I really wanted was comfort Netflix and a jar of Nutella, with a spoon.

When summer was winding down I knew this chaos wasn’t going to work so I decided to come up with my own method.

We gotta have them in their beds by 9. So working backwards:

First, whoever needs a shower gets one.  Sometimes its both kids, sometimes its just one and hopefully it’s zero, because for some odd reason I hate bathing my kids.

Second, they get one show to watch together in my bed.  Their options are Frasier, Friends, Cheers, or Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (click the links for their favorite episodes).  These shows are interesting to them without riling them up (like a kids show would).  I know it’s not perfect parenting, but I was desperate, OK?!  We all have our dirty little (parenting) secrets!

Then its off to their bunks.  Either my husband or I will sit in the room with them until the fall asleep (usually scrolling our phones or maybe reading on my Kindle).  We try not to snuggle Daphne on the lower bunk because it makes Dylan feel major FOMO.  My ego can’t handle getting up on the top bunk and truly feeling my age/weight, so that’s not an option.

Then we pray. Hard.

Somehow, it worked.  My kids were just tired enough at 9 to want to go to bed, even though I was told (and I wanted) the kids to have a super early bedtime.  Most nights I’m outta there by 9:10.  It’s a miracle.

Now maybe it’s because Daphne stopped napping that’s she’s finally fallen in line.  If so, great! There’s gotta be some upside to having her awake all day!

Then I get to decide what to do for another 90 minutes before I try for my own bedtime.  Housework, writing this blog, tv, whatever – its all available to me!

I’ve been struggling with this bedtime nonsense for about 18 months and I think it’s basically broken me.  But now that it’s over, I’m slowly putting myself back together again.  One unloaded dishwasher, folded load of laundry at a time.

I wanted September to be the month where I shed all my bad summer habits.  No more white bread, no more sleeping late, no more staying out late, no more easy breezy summertime.  Come September, I’m going to be a serious adult.

It was a great plan.  Except, September is just warm up month for the rest of the school year.  And for some reason, I always forget this.  The kids only had 1 full week of school in September, because Jewish Holidays, so every time I felt like I was getting into a groove, they’d be home with me all day and screw it up.

I was going to start going to the gym in September (didn’t happen until 10/1).  I was going to meal plan for dinner in September (hahaha, yeah right!).  I was going to adhere to my excel spreadsheet of a schedule and make sure I had time for all my housekeeping amongst work, kids and whatnot (Ummmm, I think I looked at it once all month).  September, more than January, is the month I make all these grandiose resolutions about the person I am going to become this year (this year!) and then I realize, September sucks.

First reason September sucks, (see above) so many days off from school!  We never get into a flow.

Second reason September sucks, I have to close up my beach cabana for the season and lose my tan.

Third reason September sucks, I can never figure out what to wear! Is it 80 degrees or like 50? I don’t know!! Pack a sweater? Wear a tank top? WHO THE FRIG KNOWS? Forget figuring out how to dress my kids?!?! I’m either sweaty and overheated or freezing – there is literally no in between.

Fourth reason September sucks, packing the damn lunches.  I had to do this most of summer for camp, but in September it just feels more serious.  Like the bento box has to be full of nutritious food and not just cucumbers and some fruit snacks.

Fifth reason September sucks, I can’t just grill dinner every night at the beach.  Damn, I have to actually turn the oven on?  And think of things for dinner besides chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs?? Ugh, so annoying!

Sixth Reason September Sucks, I can no longer justify buying cases of Passion Fruit flavored La Croix for $5.99 a case.  My summertime staple feels like such an indulgence that doesn’t make sense in the world of Pumpkin Spice.

Seventh Reason September Sucks, speaking of Pumpkin Spice, having to listen to people debate the virtues of Pumpkin Spice grates on me, let the people have the Pumpkin Spice that acutalluy doesn’t contain any pumpkin, life’s too short!

 

 

Is Passion Overrated?

July 26, 2018

How many times have you heard someone our age (under 37) say, “My job is fine, I make good money and I like the people, but it’s not something I’m passionate about.”  And how many times to do you hear someone over 40 say it? Like almost never right?  They are on to something here.  The jadded ones might call it complacency, but actually I think it’s realistic expectations.  Something our generation (those born in 1981 or later – we don’t have a accurate name being sandwiched between Millenials and Gen Y) has yet to make peace with.

I have said this Passionless statement at least 100x so surprisingly, when I heard it from a friend a few weeks ago, it struck me differently.  Maybe hearing it from another friend, another time made me really think – “why are we so concerned with passion?”

How much passion is someone promised in one lifetime?  You want a passionate relationship with your spouse, you want passion in your work AND you want passion in your recreational activities (otherwise, why bother?).  To quote SATC, “you want passions on top of passions?”  For the longest time, my answer to that question was “Yes! I want to wake up each day just tickled pink to do my work, enthusiastic as hell to be with my children and tingling at the sight of my husband.”  And guess what? Day to day life doesn’t offer Passions on top of Passions, most of it is routine and small actions that hopefully eventually lead to something bigger (see: The Compound Effect).  And this left me feeling so hopeless and depressed.  I was expecting triple passions EVERY DAMN DAY and I wasn’t getting it, so therefore, I was a failure at life, love, and motherhood.  No wonder I was depressed.

The truth is, depression is something I have had to deal with a few times in my life, and I have always come out of it after a year or so.  Sometimes with the help of therapy, sometimes anti-depressants and sometimes it just goes away on it’s own. (Where’s the “confused” emoji with the hands up the air as if it say, “I don’t fucking know”?)

Unfortunately, lately there have been a string of high-profile suicides that make me stop and think for a moment.  These people in many cases are rich, famous, beautiful – why are they killing themselves? I always thought that if I was rich, famous and thin (I’m not even concerned with the beauty part) that I’d never be depressed again.  But of course, we can see it doesn’t work that way because too often there are beautiful famous people killing themselves with drugs, alcohol or sadly resorting to suicide.

I’m in no position to be the authority on this.  I can only speak from my own experience kike when I’ve felt, that maybe if I were dead the pain were stop.  Just a casual thought that rolls through on a incredibly low day.  Then I think, well that won’t work and I go for the cookies or something else to numb the pain.  I can only wonder how much pain must be present when that thought rolls through and you think, “yeah that’s the answer”.

My pain for now has stopped increasing though the past year hasn’t been easy.  I have been battling the depression just about a year now and I’m starting to wonder when it’s going to take a holiday.  I’m working on it in all the conventional ways and also dealing with some other underlying health issues, but I feel confident that I’m making progress.

So that’s why when this passion statement hit my in the face again, I decided to sit with it for a while.  I’ve been marinating on it.  And ultimately, this is where I landed, “How important is passion to my happiness?”

How important is passion in my job related to my satisfaction with the job?

How important is passion in my marriage related to my overall happiness in my choice?

How important is passion in my recreational life (not work, not family) related to my excitement for it?

I have a life coaching client right now and she told me that sometimes she’s bored at her job even though it’s something she loves and is successful at.  And I told her that job’s are repetitive, that’s basically the definition of a job.  Learn one thing and do it well, over and over and over again.  When I worked in cosmetics at Lord and Taylor do you know how many make overs I did?  A LOT.  Do you know how many times I gave the same training presentation when I worked in education for skincare brand? A LOT. Do you know how many times I have helped someone get started with their 30 Cleansing program and said the same script? A LOT.  This is what a job is, it’s repetition. And after a while, it can get boring.  It’s part of it.

So then we look to other areas of life to find that excitement.  Relationships, kids, friends, activities.  That can work.  Also making a lot of money at your job helps I think!

But it’s gonna happen so why are we so down about that? Why are we still looking for passion?!? Society tells us to.  Give up your boring job and chase your dreams kind of stuff.  Which, btw, I am not AGAINST.  What I’m against is putting all your passion eggs in one basket, regardless of which basket it is.

I think part of the reason I went into a depression last year is because I had happiness expectations that were taken from fantasy rather than from my own life.  For many years I’d had zero life outside work and family and that was really starting to stifle me (and make me lose passion for everything).  I had expectations on myself that were just not realistic.  I beat myself up over every little thing, all the time.  It was exhausting and it made me never appreciate when there was success or happiness, because I always felt like there was one more thing I could have done or done better.  It takes a lot of work to stop that cycle to, I’m constantly acknowledging myself for the little things to create a new, healthier, self-talk.

What would it be like to find happiness in the repetition of life? What would it be like to stop looking for passion in everything we do? What if we didn’t have to constantly try to “Have it All”?  What is life was all about ease?  Hmm, that sounds really good to me.  I’m going for that this summer, EASE.

 

 

 

Is that all there is?

June 15, 2018

Start your Mid-Life Crisis now. You don't know how long you are going to live.

It’s such a cliché, the mid-life crisis.  Even now they have something called the “quarter life crisis” that supposedly Millenials deal with around age 25.  I struggle with my own identity being born in 1981 as I’m on the cusp of being a millenial or being Generation X.

Those of us born the year Reagan was shot, can’t even commit to a generation, let alone a mortgage/career/marriage.  (Though, I have all 3).  So I’m reluctant to call what I’m going through a “mid-life crisis” because, hell, I’m only 36.  This can’t be mid-life, can it? But seeing as I’ve been married almost 10 years, been a home owner half that time and already have 2 kids, maybe I’ve achieved all the benchmarks for a mid-life crisis just a little on the early side.  Damn me and my over-achieving.

So, I’m peeling back the layers of my alleged “mid-life crisis” and I see a theme, mostly each statement starts with “I’m not happy”.  I’m not happy with how my life has turned out so far.  OUCH.

Okay, so I have to take responsibility for that right? I mean, I can’t blame it all on my upbringing/spouse/economic climate, can I? It would be so much easier to blame it on all that shit, but like, that’s not gonna make it any better right? Dammit, this is MY responsibility.  I’m the one who chose the mortgage/career and marriage that I’m in.  No one held a gun to my head, and yet, these choices don’t always feel super fulfilling.  Maybe more like the default decision. Is that all there is?

But, I love my home and I love my husband, so that’s 2 outta 3 that I maybe mostly got right?  That leaves career.  This is the stinkiest layer of the onion. My head is spinning with….

How important is career to my happiness? What in a career defines success for me?  What am I good at? What do I enjoy? What should I do with the REST OF MY LIFE???

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So, naturally, I asked about it on Facebook.  Most of the responses were from men talking about sports cars and dating younger women.  The women were mostly commenting on male mid-life crisis not on their own.  Do men get the jump start on mid-life crises because they have the luxury of the time to think about it? Women are so busy running the household and raising the kids, maybe they aren’t noticing being in the midst of a mid-life crisis until they can’t get out of bed some mornings (me)? I’ve known for a while that something wasn’t totally in alignment with work, but I didn’t really have time to think about it as I chugged through my day working, taking kids to after school activities and trying to get dinner on the table.  I love what Brené Brown says about pain,

“Pain is unrelenting. It will get our attention. Despite our attempts to drown it in addiction, to physically beat it out of one another, to suffocate it with success and material trappings, or to strangle it with our hate, pain will find a way to make itself known.” 
― Brené BrownBraving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

Ultimately, the pain of being out of alignment has finally gotten my attention.  Maybe it’s a mid-life crisis, maybe it’s a quest for true belonging, or maybe I’m just bored.

There’s nothing I love more in life than a PLAN.  Follow this plan and you’ll get into college, get the lead in the play, get to buy a home, get a promotion, etc. etc.

Now is the murky part where I have to sit still and listen, do some reading, ask questions of others and myself, and just marinate in it, until the plan reveals itself.  Most of all, I’m going to focus on doing the things that “feel good” and avoid as many Kinks as possible.  Tap starts to flow again and then, flip the script to “How does it get better than this?” For right now, I don’t know. And admitting that is a triumph in and of itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-wbxcs-934203

Episode 2 – What Have You Watched? “It Was on HBO, That Was the Criteria”

Marie discusses Cobra Kai

Vin dives into Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Oldie but Goody: Grantchester

Out of Touch

June 12, 2018

Earth is Hiring: The New way to live, lead, earn and give for millennials and anyone who gives a sh*t

New Book by Peta Kelly

Do you ever feel just so outside your own mind and body that you literally don’t know what you like or don’t like?

That’s me, right now.  Like “what the eff am I doing with my life?” mixed with “how did I get here?” And I’ve been at this intersection for about a year.  To borrow an expression from the youngin’s, FML.

And that sucky feeling got so into my bones that last night I sat in bed making a list of “kinks” and “things that feel good”.  That’s when I realized, “man, I’ve gotten so far out of alignment, I don’t know who I am.”

Do I like tuna fish for lunch? Or would I rather drink a protein shake? Do I like to cook, or do I dread it? Do I like drinking espresso daily, or is it a crutch? This is the shit going through my head while I made that list last night. I came up with a long list of stuff that feels good (espresso was on it) and a shorter list of “Kinks” in my hose.  (See Peta Kelly’s new book Earth is Hiring for the “Kink” theory).

The truly unfortunate part is that the Kinks for me right now, or where I’ve been spending a lot of my time over the last few years, and it’s why I have no love flowing through my tap. One of the major Kinks right now is being on Facebook.  I scroll through mindlessly so many times a day I can’t count.  I don’t like what I’m seeing or even what I’m sharing sometimes.  I am totally STUCK when it comes to Facebook right now and that’s a problem for me because, well, I do a lot of business on Facebook.  A friend/mentor of mine just took a 30 day Facebook hiatus and I thought to myself, “Oh I wish I could do that” because I didn’t think I was allowed to since I have so much business on Facebook. There isn’t anyone telling me I can’t quit FB for a month, just me and the faceless people I think are watching/judging me.

Another Kink was my diet.  I’d been following the same diet for years and it didn’t feel like it was working for me anymore.  I didn’t have any excitement around it and every time I thought about it the faceless masses in my head told me, “Marie, you don’t have a choice, this is what you must do.” KINK KINK KINK.  But the truth is, my body has changed, I’m getting older wiser, I just got diagnosed with a thyroid condition and my goals are different.  In a place of alignment, I’d be willing to play around with my diet and experiment, but being in a KINKY stuck place, again, I didn’t think I had a choice.

That’s where the major Kink comes into focus.  Having a choice for me is so important to my flow and my alignment that when I don’t have a choice it really jams my radar for life.  I like living in NYC because if I don’t want to be somewhere I can jump in a cab/subway/bus and get outta there easily, it’s my choice.  I’m not stranded somewhere without a car.  I like working for myself because I have a choice as to what to focus on and where to put my energy to make money.  I’m married to a man who really supports me and let’s me navigate our lives for the most part, because I like to have a choice.  Listen, I’ve worked jobs and always been a valued employee because I am also a rule follower and a producer, so I can do that and I have for years, but it’s not necessarily what floats my boat.  I’m also really good at being a team player (I should add that to my feel good list) so working in groups is great for me too.  I can adapt and be flexible (like most kids of divorce) but it’s not water flowing, tap is on, loving life kinda mojo for me.  It’s duty and obligation and it takes away my choice.  KINK.

So here I am, writing this blog, which makes me feel good so that I can UNKink some of these Kinks.  I changed my diet almost 3 months ago and gave up red meat and poultry.  I’m a pescatarian now!  I also started using the Weight Watchers app to count points/calories.  That’s another UNKink I’m working on.  I’m getting back to reading for the first 10 minutes after I wake up everyday because it UNKinks me.  So far these tweaks are helping to get my juices flowing again which is why I have the presence of mind to even write this blog.

But Facebook, seductive, life-shaming and affirming at the same time, Facebook.  What to do with you?  I’m open to ideas, people! For now, I’m going to post 2x a day and look at it morning and night and that’s it!  I’m gonna give this a try for a week and see if it helps UNKink me.  That’s my choice!  Choosing UNkinks me too.  Even if it’s just choosing where to get my espresso in the morning.  Aaaaahhhhhhh. 🙂

 

 

 

Image result for sex and the city imagesOne of the best features of watching TV on demand is seeing in the “info screen” the original airdate of the episode.  For me, it is anyway, because I have always loved the conversation about putting art into context.  Even as far back as 15 years ago when I graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in “The History of Theater; The Theater of History.” My friends still make fun on that one.

A few weeks ago, it was a rainy weekend and my kids were otherwise occupied so when I saw SATC (SATC might be the last television show of recent times to inspire a recognizable acronym like GWTW or EPL) on cable in re-runs, I snuggled up for the long haul.  SATC on regular cable is more like LATC or FATC (love / friends) because a lot of the sex has been scrubbed to make it syndication friendly.  As a habit, I noticed the original air-date and I couldn’t help but wonder if Sarah Jessica Parker was right? Would present day NY would be unrecognizable to Carrie Bradshaw?  A few clicks on IMDB also revealed that SATC was about to celebrate 20 years since it’s premiere on June 6, 1998.

Yeesh, that must mean our heroines are well into their 50s now.  Heck, Cynthia Nixon is running for governor!  Times, they are a changin’.

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Remember back in 1998 when Bill Clinton was still president and was dealing with the Monica Lewinsky scandal? When the entire country was in a discussion about what constitutes “sexual relations” and what the meaning of “Is” is? The biggest show (according to Neilsen ratings) on TV was ER (followed by Friends and Frasier).  Online dating hadn’t gone mainstream yet, Mark Zuckerberg was still in grade school, and people still used pay phones to check their machine!  It’s safe to say the world technologically speaking was a very different place.  And that’s where SATC came in.  Finally you could see women talking about what they wanted in the bedroom out in the open.  I guess nowadays if you really thought your boyfriend had “funky spunk” you’d just goggle it and not bother your girlfriends with it and have to deal with the embarrassment.  But 1998 was a year before google became a verb so if you really had questions about sex, maybe you had nowhere to turn.  I know when I was in college in 2001 and a guy told me he only had 1 ball, I had to go to my girlfriends / gay guy friends to verify that having 1 ball was a legitimate thing and not a prank he was playing on me.  It would have never occurred to me then to look it up online.

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HBO who aired SATC originally, was not known as a prestige network winning tons of awards.  Sopranos hadn’t aired yet, so HBO was known mostly for comedy specials, Real Sex, and replays of many PG-13 movies.  The only original show I could think of pre-SATC was “Dream On” and I was too young to watch it.  From the many interviews I’ve read by Sarah Jessica Parker, Michael Patrick King and Matthew Wiener, HBO was a great place to work in the 90’s/early aughts.  They gave you creative freedom, they didn’t give a ton of notes, and they valued the work over the ratings.  SATC in it’s third season became the first cable show to win the “Best Comedy” Emmy and with that put a stake in the ground for HBO to become the award winning network of movie stars slumming it on TV.  Sarah Jessica admits regularly in interviews she made the pilot for SATC and promptly forgot about it.  After the fact she didn’t even want to do the series and tried to get out of it.  Can you imagine another actress captivating the world as Carrie Bradshaw? I can’t.

SATC’s first season aired in the summer of 1998 and quickly caused a stir.  The reviews were mixed, but people were tuning in.  Now looking back over the 6 seasons plus 2 movies, no one looks back at season 1 as their favorite.  There were many growing pains like talking directly to the camera and stories of random peripheral friends never to be seen again.  Heck, they don’t even figure out how to tame Sarah Jessica’s frizz until episode 6 when her romance with Big really gets going.  That, coincidentally, is when the show starts to take shape as we follow the major romantic arc for the series – the uncertain woman meets the man they describe as “Donald Trump, but younger and more handsome” who’s great at withholding and game playing.  Watching their chemistry became the secret sauce of SATC’s success initially, because the other female characters are caricatures for many episodes. Their differing viewpoints are so harsh at the beginning it’s hard to find a character you identify with, shockingly, because the conversation of “I’m a Carrie” or “I’m a Miranda” takes over the media for about 10 years after the show goes off the air. (Obviously, I AM a Miranda).  Miranda takes shape in the middle of season 2 when she finally gets into a relationship with Steve and then has to let him go when he’s a lowly bartender and she’s a high powered lawyer.  Charlotte’s defined by her quest for perfection right up to the point when she marries the wrong man: Trey.  (Yes I recognize that both of these storylines has to do with “meeting your mate”, but for me seeing them in relationship to the men is what ultimately gives them definition beyond the cliché).  For Samantha, I actually think she comes into her own in the first SATC movie when she realizes she says Smith’s name more every day than her own. But Kim Catrall is just so damn sexy, beautiful and funny that she makes Samantha three-dimensional despite there not being that much dimension on the page.

I’ve listened to all the director’s commentary on the dvds of both the SATC series and movies and to hear Michael Patrick King’s insights is fascinating because you hear from him how layered the show was from the writing/directing point of view.  Not all of it comes out on screen though, which begs the questions, “Does it count?”  SATC is a bit ham-fisted at times, cramming down our throats the pithy nicknames for the men “Mr. Pussy”, “Springroll Guy”, “Catholic Guy” and “Manhattan Guy” are among the silliest. Something Kyle Smith and I don’t agree on, despite his rare rave for the show. There’s also the running theme for each episode anchored in the column Carrie is writing that feels forced by 2018 standards, but at the time I don’t remember thinking it’s weird that all of a sudden we’re talking about the stock market in the middle of an SATC episode. Perhaps it’s only feels shoe-horned in when your binge watching it, not watching one episode per week.  Shows are made differently now, and of course the trope of the “four (mostly white) girlfriends” has been executed over and over again with lackluster results since 1998.  The best one being Lena Dunham’s Girls, also on HBO. Cashmere Mafia, move right along.

Meanwhile, as the 20th anniversary of the premiere approached, I started to see more and more articles online about SATC’s legacy.  Here’s the rub, a lot of it is negative. Someone is actually claiming SATC ruined their life because they moved to NYC to live the life of Carrie.  But before SATC, didn’t young women move to NYC to live the life of Annie Hall, or Holly Golightly? Gimme a break.  I watched SATC as a young twenty-something and moved to NYC (well, Brooklyn, but close enough) and I never once bought a pair of Manolos.  The show was never about the fashion, or the men, or the pop culture it influenced.  It was about the pursuit of finding yourself amongst the backdrop of the New York City skyline, and maybe finding “the one” who would love the real you in the process.

Now that’s a show I can still get on board with. The final words of the series are, “Later that day I got to thinking about relationships. There are those that open you up to something new and exotic, those that are old and familiar, those that bring up lots of questions, those that bring you somewhere unexpected, those that bring you far when where you started, and those that bring you back.  But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself.  And if you find someone to love the you that you love…well that’s just fabulous.”

Maybe in about 15 years, when my daughter is 19 and it’s a rainy weekend, I’ll fire up the HBO Go and show her the tv show that all the fuss was about when I was 19.  Happy Birthday Sex and the City, you’re still fabulous.

The Best Episodes of Sex and the City  (in no particular order).

Season 1 – The Baby Shower

The four girls jumping in the car only to realize, no one got in the driver’s seat is pure New York.  Plus the realization that people do get married and move to the suburbs, even Laney, is important for the series because so much of their identity is wrapped up in NOT doing that, because it doesn’t feel right for them.  We also get the first visions of how scary parents are! Breastfeeding a kid who can chew steak? No, thank you.

Season 2 – The Chicken Dance

Finally Carrie has to take notice of the fact that Big loves her, but maybe not exactly the way she wants.  Yes they’re back together, but he still has boundaries and won’t sign the card for the wedding and has to take work calls while she’s reciting her poem (which is a lovely poem by the way).  This is the foreshadowing that will come to a head in La Douleur Exquise. Guest star Carrie Preston, which is what Carrie Bradshaw’s name becomes once she marries BIG in SATC 2.

Season 2 – La Douleur Exquise

The exquisite pain of Carrie and Big.  Carrie realizes what she means to Big and it’s not pretty.  Women around the world relate to Carrie feeling like she’s giving her all to the relationship and he’s only thinking of her when it’s convenient.  This feeling alone has inspired countless songs, stories and themes in couples therapy.

Season 3 – Easy come, Easy Go

Carrie gets her revenge, sort of.  Big finally admits that he made a mistake by rushing to marry Natasha and utters the words every dumped woman wants to hear, “I made a mistake, I love you.” Miranda and Steve learn to break up with dignity and remain friends.  Meanwhile Samantha struggles to deal with “funky spunk” from her latest bedmate, guest star Bobby Cannevale.  And Charlotte talks Trey into marriage in possibly the least sexy way.

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Season 4 – The Real Me

It’s easy to overlook this episode as one of the episodes without the romanctic arc of Carrie/Big or Carrie/Aidan that dominate this season.  But watching it with fresh eyes I realized that this is the episode of the series that defines the series.  We all get knocked down in life, it’s how you get back up that matters.  It’s there in the opening sequence of the series, and it’s in this episode.  Guest star Alan Cumming as a bitchy designer.

Season 4 – Ghost Town

Steve and Aidan open a bar? Sure why not!  It’s a great excuse to put Carrie and Aidan back in the same room.  He’s moved on and looks fabulous.  She’s haunted by how she hurt him and reconciles her feelings about moving forward.  Plus, Miranda and Steve cement their friendship post breakup.

Season 5 – Plus One is the Loneliest Number

The love letter to the single girl.  Sometimes big moments in your life will happen and you won’t have that special someone to share them with.  It’s ok, NYC can be your date where there’s always late night hot dogs and the men who give them to you for free. Samantha gets an ill advised chemical peel and Anthony screams “PINK!”. What’s not to love?  Meanwhile Miranda stares into Brady’s eyes and really gets it, “she’s a mother now and life has changed forever.”

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Season 6 – The Post it Always Sticks Twice

I remember watching this episode the night it first aired with one of my friends and we cracked up at Smith being a “zygote” and the way Carrie smokes a doobie.  We’ve all been broken up with in ways that feel icky (texts, phone messages and straight out ghosting) but having it written on a post-it was just so perfectly 2004.  It hurts but it’s still kinda old school.  The girls go out to get Carrie’s mind off her latest indignity and Samantha realizes she might just have some real feelings for Smith, Miranda gets into her skinny jeans and gets her sexy back.  Charlotte comes to terms with her second engagement which is undoubtedly less perfect than the first, simply because it is not the first one.

Season 6 – The Domino Effect

The words we’d all longed to hear from Big, “what are we doing?” as he realizes life is fragile after heart surgery.  Carrie is rocked by the tears that flow when she thinks about Big, but also smart enough to know his limitations when he turns on the witholding again.  Miranda takes a personal day to get it on with sexy Dr. Robert Leeds, guest star Blair Underwood and poor Steve catches them in the act.  Steve and Miranda have a Brechtian moment at her front door, when Steve says “Miranda…” The audience just wants these two to get over themselves and find eachother but as in real life, these things take time!

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Season 6 – One

Miranda finally sees that Steve is the one and proclaims her love for him in the laundry room during Brady’s party.  Samantha has to come to terms with aging “down there” and Charlotte finds a way to bounce back after losing her baby.  First appearance of “The Russian” played by Mikhail Baryshnikov shows Carrie there there’s more love to be had, post Big.  Or is there?

Trio of SnackBox Ideas

November 30, 2017

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Easy Breakfast 

Easy breakfast packed for Daphne today.

Organic yogurt, applesauce & a sprinkle of cinnamon.

4oz #Lunchbots containers are the perfect size! Get Yours Here.

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Salami “Sandwich”

Deconstructed Salami Sandwich for Daphne. Both my kids aren’t interested in the bread so I swapped it out for some ritz crackers. Grab this Lunchbot Duo here. And the silicone reusable cups here. These make it easy to clean and also to divide your Duo into more compartments if needed!

Salami, Mini Cucumbers, Black Olives (pitted of course) and Ritz crackers.

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Sandwich & Fun Size Veggies

#snackoftheweek Every now and then I try making the kids a sandwich. They really only want bread with Nutella on it usually! But this week it’s turkey and cheese with some finger food veggies. This method of cutting the veggies to “fun size” is making a huge difference for Daphne’s digestion. Wish I had tried it with Dylan. I used to give him veggies and he was never into it so I eventually gave up. If only I had a cute little @Lunchbot to put it in back then!

Get this container from Lunchbots here.

Family at the dinner table at the Thanksgiving day.The first thing that I find makes a huge difference on any holiday where food is the main event, is NOT to skip breakfast that morning!  Have a protein shake or protein pancake to make sure you’ve gotten some quality nutrition in before you head to Temptation Island aka, the dinner table. Skipping meals just makes you overeat at the next one, so don’t do it!

Plan what indulgences you want to have.  For me, I want to have dessert so I’m planning on having the No-Sugar Cheesecake I am making.  I’ll also definitely want some of the stuffing. Have a game plan going in as to what you are going to indulge in so you can say no to the items that are just filler, like bread and cheese.  I also won’t have any alcohol so that will help keeping my calories down.

Bring Pellegrino with lemon slices to have in your wine glass so you don’t feel left out.  For me, it’s not a big concern because I rarely drink, but for many skipping the wine feels like missing out on something.  I promise, if you have a glass with fizzy Pellegrino and lemon you won’t even miss the wine!

Make sure to really enjoy the meal.  Sit down, don’t eat distracted (by watching TV) and really savor every bite.  This adds to your satisfaction when you can actually taste each bite.  We’ve all eaten something quickly and while distracted that we didn’t even taste the flavors.  Focus, slow down, savor and enjoy!

This is really the most important tip…Don’t let one meal derail an entire 4 day weekend! On Friday plan on a workout or going on a brisk walk.  Start off the day with a healthy breakfast with your shake.  Stay busy! If you’re home laying on the couch you will snack aimlessly, so plan some fun activities with your family or put up your holiday decorations!

fat shameLast week someone I just met fat shamed me. In person, to my face, while I was working in a position of authority. I was shocked but I was also sure that it was happening for a reason, to show me that I have fallen off course. My initial thought when this happened was that before you assume that someone is overweight because they have no self control, be interested in them and their story. You may find out that they have recently lost 90lbs, or started fertility treatments or have an illness that makes losing weight difficult. You don’t know their full story. #allbodiesaregoodbodies

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I shared this much on Facebook last night and the outpouring of love and support has been very inspiring.  55 likes and 25 comments so far.  The comments range from “People are stupid” (they are) and “I’m sorry you had to go through this” to “I get this all the time too”.  This is happening all over the place.

After posting to Facebook I got in the car for an hour long drive with my family.  Mostly it was quiet in the car as we tried to get the kids to fall asleep.  As the comments kept pouring in on my phone (don’t worry I wasn’t driving), I starting remember all the times in my life when someone has fat shamed me, although this time I had the actually vocabulary for what it was.  I remember one of the first times was when I was trying on my prom dress and a particularly cruel comment came from my dad about how I should “lose 5lbs”.  I wrote about it last year without calling him out but then he flat out asked me, “Was I the one who said that to you?” Yes, Dad.  He claims he meant is jokingly because in his adult circles of men the answer to any problem was “Hey, just lose 5lbs!”. For a 17 year old girl, the comment didn’t come off jokingly at all, and I immediately tried to lose 5lbs without having a clue how do to it.  (I remember thinking Teddy Grahams were low fat?) At the time I was 136lbs.  AKA, not fat and not overweight.  Unfortunately, as I sat in the car and remembered this story, I realized I had been not necessarily “fat shamed” all my life, but definitely “appetite shamed” by adults in my family ever since I was little.  I was never fat, but I did have a big appetite and I was constantly being scolded for having seconds or eating the leftovers on my brother’s plate with the warning of, “You’re going to get fat”.  I was between the ages of 8-14 when this was happening. And guess what, I eventually did get fat.  Thanks a lot.

Once at the beach when I was 16 or 17 a family friend commented (out of nowhere) that if I could lose weight around my bra strap area (which she pinched with her fingers) that I could wear a bikini.  Again, I was 136lbs and probably in the best bikini shape of my life.

Once I became a health coach and started sharing my story on social media it was like I gave every fat shamer permission to comment on MY weight.  I would get looks up and down my body as if it say, “YOU are a health coach??”.  Yes, Yes I am.  You know why? Because I understand the journey. Not because I am perfect. I am in the trenches with you.

Last week, I showed up at a meeting where I knew only 1 person in the room and I was there representing my networking organization.  The “weight loss coach” and I met and I mentioned to her that I’d heard of her and that I was a certified health coach.  She immediately told me that my method with my clients didn’t work (it does) and that she had a better method (okay….).  I laughed it off and kept it polite because #1) I don’t like to argue with people about weight loss methods because there are so many that can work depending on your body type and #2), I wasn’t there in a health coaching capacity.  She asked me how much weight I’d lost on my program and I told her 40lbs.

After the meeting ended in which I didn’t eat (I was cleansing) and I gave a 10 minute presentation in front of the room, the “weight loss coach” came over to me and said, “I looked at your body, and I see how you’re built.  I think I can help you lose weight.” For which I assumed the subtext was, “I see that you’re still fat despite being a health coach.”

Ouch.

In my head I thought, “Is this skinny bitch FAT SHAMING me?? I’m not even that fat?!”  (I’m actually a size or 2 smaller than the average American woman) She was fat shaming me and ultimately I think she meant well.  But she was missing VITAL parts of my story that would have given her the context for my weight.  Those details are private and not something I’m bringing up at a networking group.  She also didn’t have my agreement that I WANTED to lose more weight.  Perhaps, I am happy where I am.

It was the first time that as it was happening I realized, this is what fat shaming is.  Of course it’s happened to me before but I never knew what to call it.  Thanks, overly politically correct media for giving me the words.

Here’s the thing, I have gained weight recently.  I’m not sure why but it can be any combination of slacking on my diet, working out less, starting a new job, taking new medications etc.  I’m in the process of figuring it out.  I knew because my clothes didn’t fit the same and I was concerned but fortunately I wasn’t totally horrified by it (personal growth right there) until this woman fat shamed me.  I immediately went home and started planning how I was going to get back on track.  It worked.  She shamed me and I took action.  Now I feel really horrible because I thought I was going to write a piece about how this terrible thing was said to me and I dealt with it and I loved my body just the way it is, blah blah blah.  But I don’t.

I got on the scale and saw a number I was definitely not comfortable with and got to work.  So far I’ve released 7.2lbs since the fat shaming incident.  For my personality this kind of shame jolts me into action, but I recognize that fat shaming doesn’t work as a kickstarter for everyone.  Many times this comments get buried deep down inside us in that special place we remember all the hurtful stuff and comes up when we’re not feeling our best.  I still remember the restaurant I was at when I was first told, “You eat too much…for a girl.”

My husband shared with me the times his gymnastics coach fat shamed him as a child. I remembered times when directors of plays did it to me and teachers and so many family members.  I remembered when I was pregnant and people would stop me on the street to ask if it was twins (that’s fat shaming too right?).  I remember the first time I was offered a seat on subway post pregnancy and thought, “oh shit, I must still look pregnant.”

Then, I tried to remember if I had ever fat shamed someone.  Probably I have without even realizing it.  Hell, we live in a culture where you can say all sorts of nasty things online and just run the risk of being un-friended or un-followed.  I’m not proud of it at all.  Especially now that I have a daughter, how do I end the cycle for her? How do I make sure she’s healthy and happy without shaming her the way I was all throughout my childhood.  How do I say to my loved ones who have gained weight, “I’m concerned about you, I want to help” without being an asshole and fat shaming them?  I’m still thinking about that.  I don’t have the answer just yet.

In the end, I remembered a quote I heard Idina Menzel say about not hitting a high note during a live-performance of her infamous “Let it Go” song from Frozen.  She said something to the effect of, “I am more than the notes I can hit.”

Well, I am more than a number on a scale. I am more than a clothing size on a label. All that is MARIE can not be defined by those constructs. I am on a journey until I go in the ground. I am #humanAF.  If you don’t like it, then un-friend me or un-follow.  If you are truly concerned about me, say that.  I am proud of my body.  It has given me 2 healthy children and showed up EVERYDAY of my life for 36 years.  I am strong.  I am imperfect. I accept myself for who I am everyday.  I forgive all the fat shamers in my past. I forgive myself for eating cookies and gaining weight.  I forgive my genetics for giving me big boobs and hips and thighs.  

I am on a quest to always be improving and finding new ways to be healthy.  

I am me. I am free. I am loved.  I am grateful and I am curious.  I am here to speak up.  I am here to share my experiences in the hopes it comforts one person reading.  I am brave.

Thank you for reading.

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Marie & Daphne In The Kitchen

Daphne and I whipped up some of my basic meatballs for dinner the other night on Facebook Live.  This is one of those dishes I can make with my eyes closed!  It’s easy, healthy and tasty – what more could you want?!?

I served it over rice with a side salad, but you could also put these in a traditional tomato sauce over pasta.  For the complete recipe grab a copy of my cookbook on Amazon. In The Family Plate cookbook you’ll also find my tomato sauce recipe and a variation – Middle Eastern Meatballs!

Meatballs are super kid-friendly and very quick to put together for a weeknight meal, plus they make great leftovers! How do you make your meatballs?

In the video I also discuss ways to make your meatballs gluten and dairy-free without losing flavor! Enjoy!

 

Lunch for Little Ones 

October 31, 2017

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Bento Boxes For Lunch

For lunch this week, I packed my kids a bento box of some of their favorites.  I found these bento boxes on Amazon and chose them because they were reasonably priced, seemed sturdy and not too heavy.  I would say they are a little heavy for my 3 year old to carry but fine for my 6 year old.  They also have a dip compartment that I thought was neat.  (I put mandarin oranges in it).

Salami & Cheese Bento Box

  • Salami rolled up
  • Cheddar cheese cubes
  • Tostitos whole wheat scoops
  • Mandarin organes
  • Mini cucumber slices

You can find the bento box here.

 

 

This week’s snack box is a “dessert” theme.  In Daphne’s I used a kosher chocolate spread that’s nut free (and also dairy free) because her pre-school is nut-free.  Dylan has standard Nutella.

Fruit Dipped in Chocolate

  • Brown rice cake
  • Welch’s fruit snacks, 90 calorie pack (it’s very small, about a handful of gummies)
  • Sliced strawberries and blueberries
  • A silicone insert filled with chocolate spread (for easier cleaning)

You can get the boxes here and the silicon liners here.  The boxes are recommending by pre-schools because they are easy to open for little hands.  They are plastic so they aren’t thermal and I did have one break on me pretty quickly.  But, they are inexpensive so I use them as a backup to my Lunchbots.  The liners are great for making extra compartments in your bento boxes and also for items that are a little messy.

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