Dancing with the Stollers

DSC_0121.JPGI have to say, when I received an email from my parents today that included more than a dozen photos of their tap dancing recital, I had to smile. I love the fact that as retirees, my parents are still having fun with each other. Back in the 70’s, they could do a mean hustle and I remember watching them take over the dance floor with their fancy footwork.
Thumbnail image for DSC_0093.JPG
Now, more than 30 years later, while I can’t waltz, mambo or merengue, my parents can do all of the above and have now added tap dancing to their repertoire. In fact, a few weeks ago, they entertained a standing room only crowd at the Southampton Library and judging from the photos, they had a fabulous time.
As a graduate of the High School of Performing Arts, my father has always been an actor at heart. While he pursued a successful career in education,
Dad has consistently appeared in musicals for as long as I can remember. In fact, each spring, he has a featured role in the Palm Isle Players musical extravaganza in Boynton Beach, Florida led by my former dance teacher, Ms. Phyllis.
While I usually sit through the rehearsal, I’m always blown away watching a cast of more than 50 men and women step out on stage wearing some of the most gorgeous costumes I’ve ever seen. But aside from Dad’s solos of course, my favorite parts of the show are when I get to watch those carefully choreographed numbers that feature a senior citizen kick line who rehearse several times a week to perfect those intricate moves.
I love the fact that while my dad has always felt at home on the stage, my mom has stood on the sidelines cheering him on. That is, until now. With they’re tap dance performance under their belts, perhaps mom will throw caution to the wind and take center stage as a Palm Isle kick line girl. Either way, mom and dad have embraced their golden years while finding things they know will give them great joy. Whoever said retirement was depressing has never met my parents.

I Am a Cheese Ball

images-6.jpeg Took the kids to see “High School Musical 3” today and I have a confession to make. I teared up during those corny scenes with Troy and Gabriela and then got all weepy at the end of the movie when everyone graduated. To be brutally honest, I loved the movie. Yes, I am lame but hear me out.
I love this movie because it takes me back to 1986. That’s when I was doing what I loved and had a lifetime ahead of me. And now, 22 years later with two kids and a husband, I sat in the movie theater wondering what would have happened in my life if I had gone for it. More importantly, while I didn’t necessarily wind up doing what I love, I want my kids to pursue whatever their heart desires.
I never thought that I could have peaked in high school and something tells me that I’m going to get a second chance at that original dream but for now, as I think about all the things I could have done differently, what I do know is that I did do something right. I married the right guy, had two amazing kids and am very grateful to have incredibly supportive parents, in-laws and friends who have been there for me in good times and bad. And best of all, thanks to the magic of Facebook, I’ve re-connected with those pals from high school who I shared the stage with and knew the old optimistic me. We may not have been Troy, Gabriela and Sharpei, but we were pretty talented back then and had the time of our lives. And really, that’s what it’s all about. Doing what you love while surrounding yourself with the people who love you.
So thanks High School Musical 3 – I guess you never thought you’d inspire an almost 40 year old mom, but you did. Now if only I can find a time machine so I can get my do-over.

Peeing in Peace in Portuguese!

Put this one down in the record books. While Peeing in Peace has experienced a steady stream (pun intended) of sales in the U.S. we are branching out and becoming an international phenomenon. Or at least we are in Brazil!
We just received word that our book is going to be translated into Portuguese and will be sold in Brazil. What an honor – I wonder if they’ll ever want us to go overseas and promote it – I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil. More importantly, I wonder how they’ll translate Farbissina Punim (sour puss) into Portuguese.
Either way, it’s pretty exciting that the little engine that could is still rolling along. Today Brazil, tomorrow Budapest!
To buy a copy of Peeing in Peace today, click here. Trust us, it makes for great bathroom reading.

Clothes Don’t Make the Candidate

images-5.jpegThis past week, the latest earth shattering politicial news that hit the airwaves was that Sarah Palin’s wardrobe cost nearly $150,000 and was financed by the Republican campaign. While I was shocked that the McCain/Palin PR team decided to spend someone’s annual salary on some really cute red suits, I began to wonder why appearance is so important to voters.
While I have seen her wear a couple of fleece sweatshirts in a few photo-ops, I highly doubt that the old Sarah Palin would have been cruising the campaign trail in overalls and plaid shirts. I mean, she probably does have some nice suits in her closet and if it were me (not that it ever would be, but if it were), I would have been able to purchase an entire season of clothes from Ann Taylor, Lord & Taylor and Loehmann’s and it would probably cost less than $3000.
Seriously folks. Does she really need to be wearing designer suits and shoes and have her make-up and hair done every single day of the week? I’m sure as a former beauty queen, she probably can do it herself and use those ladies from the Beehive salon in Wasilla and it would cost a fraction of the cost of what her peeps are paying now. Sure, since she’s a woman she’s being scrutinized much more than her male counterparts, but hasn’t she read any of those look great for less articles that seem to be all over the fashion and entertainment magazines?
While she’s said that after the campaign she’s going to donate her duds to charity, what woman who actually needs a suit for a job interview is going to wear a freshly pressed Chanel suit that just came straight from the a Florida tarmac?
At this point in the game I know that clothes don’t make the candidate but Palin’s handlers are doing their best to have her look the part. And trust me, every time I’ve overheard a conversation about her between men, you can almost always hear them make remarks about her dazzling good looks and not her mastery of foreign policy.
For women, the pretty factor has a much different effect. If Sarah shared that she’s managed to get all her outfits from a half price sample sale, now then I’d be impressed. We want to know that she is truly one of us and there’s no need to dress her up like a Barbie doll in order to win votes. So Sarah if you’re listening, tell your stylist to start shopping the sale racks. No one likes to be ripped off and at $150,000 – it looks like you’ve been taken to the cleaners.

Forever 39

images-4.jpegSo today is my birthday. Woo hoo! Went to work, made a few phone calls, sent out several emails, checked out my Facebook page, saw a good friend for lunch and then spent a fabulous evening with my family at a fondue restaurant where we inhaled at least 2000 calories and enjoyed every minute of it.
I have to say, while my birthday was pretty sedate, turning 39 is really a big deal to me. Not only because it’s the last year of my thirties, but more importantly, it’s time I finally focus on what I wanted to be when I grew up. 39 is all about embracing the fear, fighting off rejection, throwing caution to the wind and doing what you love. In fact, someone recently told me that by the time I hit my forties, that’s when I’ll truly experience amazing things in my professional life. The reason – I don’t care what other people think anymore. I am confident of my abilities, I know my limitations and I know what I do well. I also know that no matter what I do, I want my husband and kids to be happy and not see me preoccupied with work 24/7.
There’s a reason why there used to be a 40 hour work week – it was normal. But today, the work day never ends. But all that changes at 39. It’s time I start taking a stand. I will stop working on tedious projects and start enjoying life. I’ll play soccer with my son and practice catching pop up flies with my daughter. I will start doing all the things I used to love to when I was young. I’m not saying that I’m over the hill at my age but unfortunately for me, I lost my way while meandering along the road to success. Thankfully, slowly but surely, I’m finding my way back and totally enjoying the ride.
Over the last few days I’ve been watching outtakes from the Women’s Conference in Los Angeles and what I’ve noticed is that women are rallying together in cities across the country to inspire one another to be the best we can be. We are truly capable of anything and even though motherhood can sometimes slow us down, in the end, it has made me stronger and more determined to make sure that whatever path I choose will be one I can be proud of. More importantly, I want my children to see that if you truly set your heart and mind to something, you are capable of great things.
And what major life lesson have I learned in my 39 years? Simple – don’t let rejection get you down. If I could visit my teenage self I would tell her to keep doing what she loves. And this year is all about rekindling those shining moments and making them come alive in whatever capacity possible. So if that means a performance on Pinebrook Blvd. rather than on Broadway, then so be it. As I contemplate the next step in my professional journey, I am excited and a little fearful of what the future may hold. But no matter the outcome, I’ve decided that 39 is the new 16 and anything is possible as long as you realize your lifelong dreams and make them come true.

The Pampered Chef to Give Back to Gal to Gal

images-2.jpegThe Pampered Chef is teaming up with Role Mommy to make a difference in the lives of stage IV breast cancer patients and their families. Click on the Pampered Chef site today and enter the code: RYA2. Every time you order a product for your kitchen, a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Gal to Gal Foundation. And, if you haven’t registered for the Gal to Gal Virtual Walk, then pay a visit to www.galtogalwalk.org and join celebrities on a 31 day cross country walk to raise funds for families battling stage IV. With your help, we can make a huge difference in the lives of men and women courageously battling incurable breast cancer.
For more information, watch the video below:

Tried & True Tips from a Nanny to the Stars

_MG_2321.jpgMarva Soogrim, a mother of four, has been bringing calm into the lives of many families over the past 27 years. As a world-renowned baby nurse/nanny, she brought peace and joy to some of the most prominent families in the country. She has helped raise triplets, and twins and given new mothers and fathers the skills to raise well adjusted and relaxed children.
Born in Trinidad, Marva came to the United States in 1980, at the age of 21. A mother of three at the time, she knew her calling was to take care of babies and children. With medical aid training and impeccable references, she soon became a nanny to some of New York’s most prestigious families.
As word spread about Marva’s unique baby raising skills, she was introduced to film star Chris O’Donnell, whose wife Caroline was about to give birth to their third child. Marva moved to Los Angeles to work for the O’Donnells in 2003 and quickly became the nanny of choice for some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts, Courtney Cox and Sheryl Crow.
“When the household is calm, the baby is calm,” Marva says. “I work with both parents to integrate the new baby into the home, and to make sure everyone operates as a unit. When a newborn comes into a home, it’s all about the newborn, but from the beginning it is essential to also take care of the marriage.”
Marva adds that even pets need attention and have to be treated with care, when there is a new arrival.
So what is Marva’s secret if your baby won’t stop crying? Here are her top ten tips – give them a whirl.
Ten Tips to Stop a baby from Crying:
1. Make sure the baby has enough to eat
2. Be sure the baby’s clothing is loose
3. Check diaper for soil or wetness
4. Swaddle and sway (rock baby from side to side)
5. Nestle baby on your chest for skin to skin contact
6. Take baby for stroll
7. Take baby to a more soothing room
8. If breastfeeding exclude food that can cause gas or hearburn – examples include caffeine, cabbage or tomatoes
9. If formula feeding you may want to consult your doctor about possible change (in formula)
10. Play some calming music
And now…Ten Tips on How New Moms Can Relax:
2. Play some calming music
3. Go for a walk
4. Take the baby to the park and interact with other moms
5. Watch a funny movie
6. Take a bath or shower
7. Chant, meditate or do yoga
8. Call a friend or family member who’s been through it before, and is CALM!
9. Put on a white noise machine
proPh01-2.jpgDo you have any tips of your own if your baby or toddler is having a meltdown? Send us your tried and true advice and you can win Chic Baby, a brand new fragrance for girls and boys that will be available in Sephora, Nordstrom, and Holt Renfrew starting in Spring 2008. In November, Chic Baby was chosen to be part of the very elite “Babes in Toyland” event for Hollywood’s most famous parents and their children, including Brad Pitt, Naomi Watts, Jenna Elfman, Salma Hayek, Tori Spelling, Marcia Cross, Tiger Woods, Will Ferrell, Jaime Pressly, Tobey Maguire, Melissa Joan Hart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bridget Moynahan, Dave Matthews, Nancy O’Dell, Diana Krall, Elvis Costello, and Britney Spears. So not only will you have the most well behaved kids on the block, they’ll smell good too!

Mom of Reinvention…Jessica Lewis

buttonlivebeautiful.jpgRole Mommy: What did you do before you became a mom?
I worked at WCTL radio in Erie, PA as Production manager and Midday Announcer. I married my husband Dave, and moved to Nashville, where I road managed the band “downhere” (www.downhere.com) for almost 5 years. We were able to travel all over the US, Canada and Europe.
vneckshirt1.jpgRole Mommy: When did you decide to reinvent your life?
It’s amazing how having a baby reinvents your life, whether you like it or not. I decided to embrace the whole stay-at-home mommy thing and began my own business: www.ToLiveBeautiful.com. “You’re Beautiful, Live Beautiful.” In fact – my daughter Cali’s name means “beautiful.”
Role Mommy: How have your children influenced your career path?
How many do you have? So far, I only have one daughter (5/25/07), but my husband and I would love to have a few more. Having a daughter has made me think about what I really love in life. She has reminded me to take joy in the little things and laugh a lot. She forces me to be a better manager of my time and reminds me of how bad I am at it. My career path involves spending as much time as I can with my family.
Role Mommy: What’s your favorite “Time Out” tip for moms (taking time for yourself)
I love to put my feet up and put a “heat relaxer” around my neck. I make my own, which was originally inspired by one of my daughter’s plush pink blankets. They are available via my other website : www.HeatRelaxer.com
Role Mommy: What does your website offer moms or kids?
“To live beautiful is to discover, create or enjoy something beautiful every day of your life.” I would hope that I could inspire moms to find their own unique beauty – and USE it! I try to find different tips – from beauty – to time management – to starting a home business…. the list goes on!
Role Mommy: What do you hope for your own kids?
My biggest hope for my children is that they would understand how unique and special they are. No one in the world will ever be like them. I will encourage them to embrace their individual creativity while discovering the Creator who made them.
Role Mommy: Who is your Role Mommy?
My own Mommy, of course!

OMG – I Am Lynette from Desperate Housewives

images-1.jpegI just came to a scary realization. While relaxing by myself on the couch, simultaneously writing and watching “Desperate Housewives,” I discovered that Lynette and I have a lot in common. Now hear me out. Last season, she gave up her high powered job as an advertising executive to open a pizza place and this season, they’ve fast forwarded the gals’ lives five years and suddenly Lynette finds herself face to face with a kid who used to be her assistant and he’s now running the ad campaign for Bree’s new book.
Truthfully, that’s exactly how I feel nowadays. After spending several days with a group of twentysomething PR representatives, I shared stories of all the projects I used to work on before I gave up my fancy title and midtown office and distinctly saw one of them rolling their eyes at me. They must have totally thought I was completely washed up. Frankly, after awhile I realized it was time to just walk away. I have outgrown corporate America – or at least the Jr. Account Executive ranks and I just have to stay confident that despite the rejection, the fear of failure and the frustration, I made the right choice to give up my conservative career to take a chance and embark on a new journey.
Regrets, sure I have a few but what I do know is this. Little by little I will be tossing one of my career paths aside so that I can focus on what I love – humor writing and music. I’m determined to write a musical and cast aside all the things I don’t want to work on anymore. It may not happen overnight, but one day it will and I’m not going to quit until I truly achieve my dream. I’ve already climbed the ladder and realized I was on the wrong roof. So now it’s time to start over and embrace the fear.

Mom of Reinvention…Author Lisa Holewa

Lisa Holewa (15 of 12) Revised BW.jpgWhat did you do before becoming a mom?
Lisa: I was a reporter for the Associated Press for almost ten years in Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida, where I covered everything from the insanity trial of Jeffrey Dahmer (in Wisconsin) to a national investigation of the foster care system (Michigan) to the deadly ValuJet plane crash in the Everglades, as well as hurricanes and wildfires and a national team investigation about migrant children laboring in our nation’s farm fields (Florida).
When did you decide to reinvent your life?
Lisa: When I was coordinating everything (daycare, etc.) to get back to work at the Florida AP after my oldest daughter, Maya, was born, I realized I really didn’t want to go back to work in that capacity. I’d kind of fallen into journalism many years earlier, and while I was incredibly grateful for the opportunities I had at the AP, I also knew it was time for me to move on and pursue my original goal of being a writer, as opposed to a news reporter. So I quit the AP after my maternity leave, and started to freelance. It was a long and hard road — and still is — but I’m so grateful I decided to take the plunge (which was quite a scary one for my family, as I was more or less considered the “real” wage earner in our family at the time — my husband is a boat captain and his work tended to be more erratic, fewer benefits, less security, etc.)
How have your children influenced your career path, and how many do you have?
Lisa: We now have three children, ages nine, five and four. They’ve completely altered my career path, but in the very best way. I feel like they’ve given me this opportunity to reinvent myself, which I never would have done on my own, without their presence and influence.
What’s your favorite Time Out tip for moms?

Lisa: This is a hard one for me, as I’m not the greatest at taking time for myself. I do enjoy going for walks in the evening, through a wooded area near our home in South Milwaukee, Wis. down to a secluded beach along Lake Michigan. Watching the lake change through the seasons is incredible, and it seems like something new is waiting for me there every day. I tend to go a little stir crazy on the days I don’t get my walks!
What Kindergarten Teachers Know.jpgWhat does your website offer moms or kids?
Lisa: A whole ton of great stuff — suggestions and ideas from the very best early childhood teachers in the nation on everything from how to establish routines to how to handle transitions to answering questions about school experiences and providing suggestions from great classrooms on wonderful books to read with kids. It’s at www.WhatTeachersKnow.com and there is also a blog. I’m in the process of redesigning the site, and the new site should be online by the end of this month.
Who is Your Role Mommy?
Lisa: We’re so lucky that there are a ton of wonderful women in the world today who are just fabulous and inspiring role mommys. The ones who have touched my life and parenting most directly are probably my closest friends, who range from a stay-at-home mom who is an amazing portrait artist to a very busy working mom who is a powerful bank executive to my old college roommate who juggles her own family with her work as an incredibly busy pediatrician and health advocate to a friend who is a professor of Spanish and raising her two daughters to be bilingual. (There are a ton of amazing mommies out there!)
Want to win a copy of Lisa’s book? Then send in a comment or a personal story of reinvention and you could be a winner!