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Vacation, all I ever wanted…..

Last summer, super newly pregnant, we traveled with my parents, brother and sister-in-law, also pregnant, and our nephew to Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s family friendly, clean, affordable and there is a ton to do with little kids. My boys love it and talk all the time about when we can go back.

Recently, Handsome #2 was given an assignment in his kindergarten class to bring in a picture and a brief write up about a recent trip. These pictures would be shared with the class in a show and tell format. Obviously, he was super excited about this particular homework and couldn’t wait to recount his adventure with the class. 

We talked about the rides, the food, the water park and even the car ride there. He was proud as a peacock to tell his friends all about it. He wrote three sentences on the paper and I found a picture on my phone and sent it to Walgreens. Done and done. Weeks have passed and the assignment was all but forgotten. 

Today after school the boys burst through the door soaking wet from the torrential downpour that hit this afternoon. I ran upstairs to get clean clothes for each of them retuning with a Holiday World t-shirt. This opened Pandora’s Box.

Handsome #2- Mom! I am not wearing that. I’m not even going back there.

Me- Why not? You love Holiday World.

Handsome #2- Nope. Not anymore I sure don’t. Do you want to know why?

Me- Please, tell me.

Handsome #2- Remember my vacation homework?

Me- Yes.

Handsome #2- Well, that’s why! 

Me- I don’t understand.

Handsome #2- That picture you got of the trip, well guess what? You can’t even see me. Handsome #1 is holding up the park map right in front of my face! 

We took approximately 5,000 pictures on that trip…..naturally, I chose this……

If only I had Listened to My Mother………


I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I truly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very specific gifts and talents that He wants us to use. He happened to make me a pretty good storyteller, a talent that I certainly inherited from my mother, and I chronicle those stories on Facebook and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and followers and nearly daily by my mother. They tell me how much they love my stories and would absolutely buy my book and share it with their own friends and family. This is where my crippling fear takes over. This is when my complete and total lack of self confidence comes in to play and I immediately second guess myself and want to run and hide. Surprised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel better about yourselves by living vicariously through my misadventures. Throughout my journey on this site, social media and sharing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you personally, I don’t interact with you face to face very often. I love to read your comments and reactions, but if you see me in person, you will often find that I become very embarrassed by the attention. I have a total and complete lack of self confidence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a surprise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the matter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recently, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in complete and total secrecy. I had read about the Listen to Your Mother Show on Facebook the last couple of years and thought that it was an amazing opportunity. I envied the storytellers with their confidence and moxie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the website and knew exactly what it entailed, but I never could pull the trigger. The procedure was simple enough. All I had to do was submit a story about motherhood, that I had written, to a panel to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my story at a live audition. Certainly I would never really be called upon to audition, so what is the harm in sending an email?

For those of you thinking, wait a minute, aren’t you the same person who was in like 100 plays in your lifetime, often playing pretty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a problem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have never had a problem speaking in front of a crowd. I haven’t gotten particularly nervous, it has always come naturally. But never in my life have I actually presented my own work. Something that came from inside of me. Something that I was allowing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was truly terrifying.

I didn’t dare run it by Maurmi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instantly encourage me, which would make me even more uncomfortable and resistant. Instead, I penned a tale about a truly stand out memory from my own childhood that depicts exactly the kind of mother I want to be and I hit send. Not expecting to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this………..

“CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been selected to AUDITION your written submission piece for Listen To Your Mother, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They wanted me to read. They wanted me to tell my story in person. They wanted me to audition….at 37 weeks pregnant…..this would be no problem… problem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excitement with my mother, who sadly was attending the funeral of Justice Antonin Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.


Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encouraging and insistent that I follow through. I scheduled my audition and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling anyone because I was certain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be chosen and have to explain it to anyone. Plus, since the story was about her and what may or may not have been, probably was, a total nervous breakdown during her mid thirties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.


We arrived at the auditorium, I signed in and was immediately taken in to read. I hadn’t been to an audition since college, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was reading my own words, I felt comfortable. I felt happy. I was at home.The producers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt really, really good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high truly believing that no matter what happened, I had accomplished something big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self confidence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I wanted it. I wanted it badly. I wanted to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that everything that I had been hearing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I agonized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Nothing……..

I had decided that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

“CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your story on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been chosen for the cast of the 4th annual Listen to Your Mother St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for having the courage to share your story with us, and you are one of 13 people in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an experience you will never forget!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is really happening. This is huge. I feel so honored. This has ignited a fire inside of me and I cannot wait to write more stories and to share them with the world. This is all happening because I listened to my mother. I just wish that I would have done it sooner.


Merry Christmas, Richard Simmons!

I am so behind in life right now it’s embarrassing. We are getting ready to move in less than a week, it is December 17, my Elf hasn’t even shown up yet. There is no Thomas Family Christmas Card. I am a mess. But, not too much of a disaster to wish a very Merry Christmas to the man who has made a difference in my life. Slow your roll friends, this is not a sappy shout out to my husband and the father of my Handsomes, my amazing dad or even any of my brothers. But if you know anything about me, you know that this silly little sprite made an impression on my heart 20 years ago and I have never been the same.

June 1995. No Internet, no cell phones, a few dozen cable channels and a stack of ads cluttering the kitchen table. There were no text alerts or emails offering 20 percent off a purchase in the next 10 minutes. If you wanted to know what was hot and on sale, you mulled through page after thin, grimy page of glossy ads. Second only to the Have You Seen Me? cards that I painstakingly studied just to be sure that no one in my class was living with a group of secret psychopaths, I loved those ads. I liked to look at Target and Walgreens, but my very favorite weekly was Venture. There was something about the black and white stripes that was sort of memorizing.

Richard simmons

One particular Sunday as I watched Zach and Kelly head to the Max and break up, again, I mindlessly scanned the Post Dispatch. When I got to the middle of the Venture ad I nearly had a heart attack. There he stood tanned and flashing those pearly whites like no one else could. His brown locks positioned perfectly on his head and his brown eyes piercing a hole right into my heart. I was so taken aback that his picture was right there in the middle of the women’s clothing spread that I nearly missed that he would be coming to visit St. Louis the next week.

Holy hell in a handbag! There was no way that my sixteen-year-old self was going to miss this. It was a dream come true and I could hardly contain myself. In order to make this a reality, my mother had to take the day off of work. But, she too, knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and wanted in. We recruited two of my three brothers and my Nani, who never missed a good time, and we were off.

The appearance was scheduled for noon, but I knew that if we weren’t there when the store opened, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in fiery hell that we would even be able to get near him. Security would certainly be beefed up for such a big celeb, so we couldn’t risk it! As I rounded the corner to make my way down the long aisle to the Women’s Department, I was in a total state of shock. There was only one person there! It was the best moment of my life. I was going to be up close and personal and in the front of the line.

After what seemed like hours. It was seriously like four, the crowd had multiplied over and over and it was just about time for him to arrive. I could feel the butterflies in my stomach. What would I say? What would I do? OMG, what if he doesn’t like me? Suddenly, there was a burst of sound like a huge thunder clap. I turned as he appeared at the end of the aisle. It was as if he was surrounded by angels singing and a burst of light beamed from his wings as he began to prance down the aisle. I was overcome, awestruck, I thought I would faint. There was nothing that I could do to control myself, the tears just started to fall.

I wasn’t the only one. Legions of fans surrounded him, toting signs, books and VHS tapes. The all wanted a part of the man who had changed their lives. They wanted to thank him for making them smile when they needed it the most. They wanted to hug him and give back the feeling of unconditional love and acceptance that he had shown them. Some even wanted to rip his short shorts, but their wasn’t enough time. As quickly as he had made it down the aisle, he was up on stage singing, laughing and sweating.

The consummate happy man with encouraging words and a positive attitude that could rival any manufactured television personality was there to do what he did best, make people smile, and smile we did. Well, some of us ugly cried before we were old enough to truly understand what an ugly cry is, but I digress. In that store, in that moment moment in time, we were a united front of happy fans. There was no judgement about who we were, what we looked like or what we stood for.One single person was able to make so many people feel good about themselves just by being himself.

As I walked out the door that day I felt blessed. I was humbled by the outpouring of love by one person for everyone in that line. It was genuine caring, genuine concern, the kind that is absolutely impossible to fake. It was a happy day for so many, one that we will likely never forget.

Today, I read something that made me sad. Really, really sad. The kind of sad that makes you hurt a little. Richard Simmons has not been seen in nearly two years. He is suffering in some way and is apparently no longer leaving his home, according to a story on TMZ. This man has devoted his entire life to making others smile, but for some reason, his joy is gone. It’s tragic, really.

Sure, people make fun of him because of the way he looks, the way he dresses and the way he acts. Yep, he is flamboyant. His shorts are short and his tanks are tight. But, his heart is huge. Richard has devoted his life to making other people feel good and to live a happier and healthier life. I challenge any one of us to simply treat our own family members with that kind of compassion and kindness, not an easy task.

I am one fan. One insignificant person with a story even more insignificant. I was never morbidly obese. I haven’t been hospitalized because of my weight. I have never been desperate seeking help so that I don’t die. Many of the hearts that Richard has touched have been in worse predicaments than this. I was just inspired by someone who cares about others and has a positive attitude.

When I update my blog, which is embarrassingly infrequently, I normally just talk about my kids and the funny things that the say. Of course, I also point out all of the dumb things I do too, just to be fair. But today, I have a mission, I want to Rally for Richard. He needs love and hugs and prayers. Whether you have never been Sweatin’ to the Oldies or had to Deal a Meal, I would be willing to bet that at the very least, you laughed until you cried when he was on,‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’


For the record, the above account, totally happened. I cried like a baby, like, I could barely console myself. It was so bad that the only thing that I could do to calm myself down was walk across the Venture parking lot to Wendy’s for a quick burger, fries and a Frosty to wash it all down.


Years later Handsome #1 had his first celeb encounter at Walgreens

Ain’t too Proud to Brag……….

March 16, 1992 I turned 13. I also got the chicken pox. In all of my newly-crowned teenage wisdom, I picked the first spot that appeared on my face, despite my mother’s warning, “leave it alone or you will make it so much worse.” The pimple turned out to be the first of about 5,000 pox that made the next two weeks among the most miserable of my entire life.

I laid on the couch day after day certain that death was impending. The fever and itching and just plain discomfort made each breath resemble my last. Perhaps it was my flair for the dramatic, or the fact that she had three other plague-stricken children to take care of, but my mother didn’t seem to think that my situation was quite as dire. Luckily for me, my then 80-something-year-old Nani disagreed and tended to my every need.

As my three brothers healed and went back to school, my mom went back to work while I lay convalescing for the second week with Nani at my side. She brought me Seventeen Magazines, made me Lipton Cup of Soup and watched endless hours of Press Your Luck Reruns. She was my best friend not just when I was sick, but always. There was nothing that she wouldn’t do for me and I simply loved to be with her.

When Press Your Luck turned to the less entertaining Card Sharks, I would flip the channel to VH1 which played an endless loop of Vanessa Williams’, “Save the Best for Last” and TLC’s, “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” I don’t know if it was the colorful overalls or perhaps the condoms pinned everywhere, but she just, couldn’t, “understand those dirty girls.” Why would they put on such a “performance?” And they would look so much nicer in a, “pretty dress.” For a solid week every time it came on, she laughed and said, “There they are again. Those crazy girls with those dirty pants on.”

Last Friday night while going to see Push the Limit, a friend’s band, perform at Jungle Boogie at the STL Zoo, I spotted one of those crazy girls. T-Boz was there, in the flesh and I was suddenly 13 and starstruck. I can’t lie, I totally followed her, from afar, certain that it was her, but still too shy to approach. With Handsome #3 in his stroller, I pushed toward the Fragile Forest where she stood admiring the animals. Suddenly, Maurmi strikes up a casual conversation with her as if she is a volunteer zookeeper for the day.

She was so kind, so friendly and so far from anything ostentatious. I made eye contact and blurted out with tears in my eyes,

“OMG?!?!? Are you who I think you are? You are so beautiful. I just saw you in concert a few months ago. You are just. I am having a moment. Your music. I just. OMG, can I get a picture with you?”

She graciously said, “yes,” ignoring my verbal diarrhea. We exchanged pleasantries and she was on her way. I spent the rest of the evening reveling in the excitement and the fact that my celebrity friend list is no longer just Richard Simmons!

Ain't Too Proud to Brag

Crazy, Sexy and so insanely Cool

I attended a work event on Saturday morning and made it home just in time to head to Mass before Handsome #1’s evening soccer game. As I sat in church, I saw the date on the bulletin, August 8. It was the eight-year anniversary of my Nani’s death. My heart broke a little, as it does every time I think of her, but I found strength in my faith, knowing that she is with God and her family in heaven.

I smiled to myself as I prepared for communion and the organist began to play, “Here I am Lord.” It was the song played at her funeral and the one that always happens to start the moment that I need it most. I felt her hands on mine and rubbed my thumb over her knuckles just as I had thousands of times in our 28 years together.

As a tear ran down my cheek, I began to laugh. I could see her in the blue recliner eating a bowl of ice cream and giving her disapproving dissertation about T-Boz and her clan. I realized that she had been with me the night before, that she approved of the nice young woman that T-Boz has turned in to and that she still loves me the most. And if she had been there, she would have dispensed the following advice…….

Don’t go chasing waterfalls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all
But I think you’re moving too fast

Time is on my side…..maybe…..

“Where the hell are my Swatch Watches?” I am guessing that not a single one of you spent the better part of an hour repeating that phrase as you feverishly tried to find your childhood stuffed in a box, like me.

Tomorrow, in celebration of Catholic Schools Week, Handsome #1 is able to dress out of uniform in clothing inspired by his favorite decade. Since he is six and hasn’t even been on earth a decade, finding a favorite is tough. But, he does have a couple of pastel polos, skinny jeans that can be tight rolled and loafers which make him an instant preppy heartthrob and me a last-minute success. That was, of course, until I had the brilliant idea to grab a few classic accessories to complete the look.

I have had a tough time parting with many of my childhood favorites, some call it hoarding, I call it, “take my friends away and I will stab you.” I have several Rubbermaid totes filled with playbills, book reports, passed notes and cherished Barbie and Hot Looks dolls. You will also find the occasional funeral card from some of grandmother’s friends, who I never met, that I found on the floor as a child and knew that I would be going straight to hell if I tossed them in the trash, so they have found an eternal resting place next to my eighth birthday invitations.

I also have my Caboodle, still in tact from 20 years ago, filled with treasures from my youth. I ran up the steps to grab my three Swatch Watches for Finnegan to wear and was stunned to find that they were not where they should have been. OK, that’s a lie. I wasn’t really stunned. It would be stunning that they were lost if I was a meticulous house keeper and organized my life with the detail of someone suffering from OCD, but that is just a lie that I want to live. Instead, I find great solace in stuffing as much %h!+ as I possibly can into drawers, bags and boxes then shutting the closet door.

Soooo, they should have been in that Caboodle, but they were hidden somewhere else. I began my search in all of the likely places. I started in jewelry boxes, no dice. Moved on to memory boxes, nothing. How about in the boys’ closet in the blue container with my name and Geese stickers that my BFFs mom made me for my birthday in first grade? Nope! With all of the usual suspects eliminated, I started to dig deep.

I rifled through beautiful velveteen boxes that look lovely and organized in my closet, but are truly filled with mismatched socks and unfinished needlepoint projects. I ventured under my bed and found a box containing my CT100 final, an envelope of pictures from some weird event that I couldn’t identify and my blue Blossomesque hat, but no watches.

I then moved to my dresser and searched among the costume jewelry trays and overwhelmingly fluffy scarves that filled the top drawer. Suddenly, my hand felt something plastic and my heart skipped. I pulled the treasure from the bottom of the drawer and my eyes filled with tears. I held it tightly not wanting to let go of the memory.

The long white stick with the pink lid had long since lost its two lines. It was utterly useless, even to me, but the feelings that it had once given me all came flooding back. I was scared, I was excited, I was filled with emotions that I had never felt before and I couldn’t bear to toss it then or now. I’ve hidden that bag from my husband, from my kids and from myself. Perhaps it’s gross, perhaps it’s weird, but it’s real and it’s me and it’s what I do and I think more of us than are willing to admit it do these things too.

I cried a little, thinking that I may never see two pink lines again, realizing that another stage of my life may be over. God’s plan is always bigger than mine, so He ultimately decides what my family will be, and I’m OK with that. Plus, I am truly excited about first grade, learning more, losing teeth and becoming independent. I love PreK and those snuggles and hand holds that come along with that last year of really being little. Don’t even get my started on not quite two. When someone runs full speed ahead at your legs, leaps into your arms and covers you with chocolate hugs and kisses, life is complete.

So as I stuffed that Ziploc back of ten or so EPTs to the back of the drawer. Yes, ten. I mean, for real, you didn’t think that if I saved one I didn’t save all of them from all three pregnancies, right? I say, if you’re going to do crazy, go big or go home. I continued my quest for my hot Swatch Watches, but alas, it was time to get kids ready for dinner so I called the search party off.

Even if I had found the Swatches, I am one hundred percent certain that time is standing still on the faces. But, had Finnegan put them on his arm, it would still be 2015; there is no magic taking us back to 1992. That’s OK. I like it here, right now with my life filled with boys and lots of love sans Swatch…..

I am also happy to leave that white mock turtleneck under a denim shirt topped with an icy glare in the past, because, well, damn……


Liar, liar pants on Fire!

Tonight, I, err, Handsome #1 and I, finished our first real deal school project. He is next week’s star student and along with other privileges comes a chance to let the class learn a bit more about you. There was cutting, pasting, coloring and my all-time favorite activity to do with a child, handwriting. To be fair, he has come a long way from the hieroglyphics that he was turning out in kindergarten, but holy Moses, it is a struggle! The professor, as he is most lovingly referred to by his Maurmi, can tell you anything in the world that you would ever like to know about reptiles, insects, Sponge Bob or Woody Woodpecker. He would love to recount the times that his father has allowed him to flip his steaks on the grill, or the time that I called a woman a b!+ch at the mall, which by the way, she ABSOLUTELY deserved. Just don’t, under any circumstance, ask him to write it down. You might as well be asking for a kidney, as his reaction is just about the same. He will do whatever he can to get out of it. He is shrewd, once telling me that he will never need to learn to write because everyone just has computers and texts each other anyway. He is six….. And yes, I realized about a month after he was born and he started talking that we were likely in trouble.

Sadly for him, the rest of the first grade won’t be allowed to use their iPhones in class, so he had to do things the old fashioned way. His teacher provided us with six stars that had to be incorporated into the project, things like his birthday, favorite school subject, his favorite book etc. The answers to the questions had to be written inside of the stars which were then put on the poster board and decorated. We sailed through. Life was great! Things were going well and then….
Me: Handsome #1 what do you want to be when you grow up?
Handsome #1: Mom! You know what I want to be, a herpetologist.
Me: Oh, yeah, right. Of course, the lizards. Go ahead and write that in the box.
Handsome #1: OK. H.e.r.p….H.e.r.p…H.e.r.p..H.e……ugh, forget it! I am just going to be a firefighter! At least I know how to spell that!

40 Days to Fabulous

Lent is upon me and there is no better time to get off of my fat a$$ and start exercising again. We all know that I am all talk, little action. This time; however, I fully intend to stick to it……

Day one is done……day two coming up

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