Recent Posts by Rebecca Fox Starr

Big Sunday Energy

Whoa, you guys.

It’s so weird to be here. Wild!

I haven’t blogged in ages (and not just because the word “blogged” is one of the most hideous words I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, it’s bad enough as a noun, but the verb? Get out of here!); I haven’t even opened this website. It’s one of those things that has an ever-present existence in my mind and on the internet, but not a place I often wish to visit.

I’ll be honest with you, as I do. I am proud of this blog and the girl who wrote it. I read some of my old writing and think, “Wow, that was well said. I wish I could still write like that!” But, this girl, young and talented, has left the building.

Hi, I’m Becca. I’m a woman, now. I’m not the same person who once poured my heart out on these pages. I am here today because she existed, but she’s like a sweater that I still love but that no longer fits. It itches. It’s gotten pulls. I keep it in my closet, nonetheless. I always will.

My kids are no longer babies. I recently saw the term “middle mom” so I guess that is where I currently reside; in the middle, somewhere between little kids and really big kids. Belle is 12, Beau is almost 9. They now have their own personalities, beliefs, and devices that can connect to the internet. They can search for my name, or for this website, or even their names, and read the scores of stories from the past. Their past. That’s a unique, amazing, charming, challenging thing about having started a blog when Belle was two-months-old.

Her birth story is on this site, in multiple parts, that I posted in a serialized succession over days and days. So is Beau’s. Both of their birth stories are in hard copy, in print, in the books. How cool is that!

And stories about mental health issues and harder times, and though we talk openly and honestly about these things, they’re still things. That exist. That have lives of their own. That future friends and colleagues will be able to Google and find. We are all OK with that, but it is not something that has not crossed my mind.

That double negative? A real blogger who spends time blogging wouldn’t do that. Ugh, that word!

Anyway, today is the last day of Summer and it’s giving me a pit in my stomach. This past week has felt like one, giant Sunday. Sundays are the worst. I much prefer Thursdays, and Beau agrees. Thursdays have the chill of the impending weekend and are filled with promise! And, Thursday night used to be the best night of TV! Do other people talk about how great Thursdays are?

Today, however, is not a Thursday. It’s the day of the scariest of Sunday scaries, so scary, in fact, that it’s a Monday.

And it’s hard. Exciting. Scary. Promising. But not as promising as a Thursday.

I searched this here website for stories of Back-to-School-Blues from years past.

(Back to School Stories here for your reading pleasure – or pain – as it were.)

And now I’m going to go spend time with my kids. We will tuck our carefully selected pencils and glue sticks and folders into the brand new pockets of brand new backpacks, along with our hopes for the year ahead. We will savor the last moments in tank tops and flip flops and towels. We will acknowledge the pits in our stomachs and give ourselves silent pep-talks, reminding ourselves that we’ve “got this!” and “this is just a feeling and it will pass” and that “change is always hard but it’s also good.” And by we, I mean I will do these things.

Because I’ve chosen this morning to snuggle into the coziness of my old sweater, the one that’s stretched out and threadbare, but reminds me of days gone by. The happy, hard and hopeful.

Because, isn’t that exactly what this time of year is?

Happy, and hard, and hopeful, and bloggish?

If this hideous word is going to be used as a noun and a verb, I insist upon using it as an adjective.

Bloggish (adjective): 

A story or life event deemed worthy enough to be shared in a post on the internet. 

And though today we might not be able to muster up Thursday energy, let’s at least aim for Wednesday night vibes. Middle of the week feeling for a middle mom.

BWE, for sure.

It suits you. Like your new sweater.

And, I hope, like mine.

Up to the moon and stars

Once upon a Cambridge spring,

The stars did a dance and the moon began to sing.

“She’s here,” crooned the wind, the sky gathered around her.

“The best mommy’s been born! She’s here! We have found her!”

You see, everyone thinks that when babies arrive

They’re the most sacred things born from the sky.

But the stars and the moon knew the secret of birth:

That it’s mommies who are the most precious on earth.

On a dark April evening, the whole world was graced

With the huge-hearted mommy (with a porcelain face).

She held her new daughter, as they breathed as one,

‘til the night watchman moon left his post for the sun.

As the earth pirouetted, the mom and girl grew;

A duo from one, a single from two.

No one but the stars could conceive of their bond,

As a love that transcends exists in the beyond.

They lit up the world, taking up little space,

The girl and her mom with the porcelain face.

They learned things, together, from triumphs and stumbles,

“Our feats,” the mom said, “often come from our fumbles.”

From their perch in the sky, the stars and moon smiled,

(they’d been waiting for the best mom for such a long while).

“She gets it!” they’d shout. “She’s enchanting and kind,

And she’s teaching her daughter to use her own mind.”

As the mom and girl grew they learned more and more.

Including harder things, much less fun to explore.

You see, being so connected can come at a cost,

For without one another, the other felt lost.

And that’s when the mommy, while deep in her sleep,

Was given help from the sky (without it making a peep).

In her dream came a mantra that she’d use with her girl,

Not knowing that it came from the depths of their world.

On good days and bad days, in darkness and light,

The mom knew what to say to make things alright.

She taught her girl grit and she taught her girl grace,

And that great strength can be found behind a porcelain face.

She repeated the mantra, sent to her in her dreams

(by the stars’ little twinkles and moon’s little beams).

“It will always be us. It’s always been you,”

The mom and girl’s bond could not be split in two.

“Listen to me,” as she held her girl tight,

Staring up at the constellations painting the night.

“It’s ok if we’re close AND ok if we’re far,

Because I always love you up to the moon and stars.”

A crescendo erupted, applause rang through sky,

(and even strong moon couldn’t help but to cry.)

They’d been right all along, as this was the true test.

The mom they’d all banked on really was the world’s best.

“She loves her girl up to us,” said a sweet baby star.

“Even more,” said its mom. “We just can’t see that far.”

As back down on earth they watched the warmest embrace,

Between a girl and her mom, with a porcelain face.

Happy Mother’s Day, mommy. Love, Your Beccadoodles


This morning, I woke up to my son snuggling into me.

I moved around and, despite my best efforts, roused him from a dream.

He looked up at me and he smiled. It was early, the sun not yet commanding the sky, and I told him to go back to sleep.

“Can I be your little cub?” he asked, groggily, as he curled up into my nook. “I want to be your little spoon.”

He has been very into spooning with me lately. Earlier this week, he was the big spoon, his arm stretched across me, pulling me close.

“Do you like when I cuddle you?” he’d asked. ”I wanted to be your big spoon, mommy.

Because you are my happy place.”


People talk about the bond between mothers and their sons; how sons love their moms and worship them and there is a unique closeness and, for a long time, this all sounded wonderful to me but I did not experience it. For the first couple of years of Beau’s life, I wasn’t his preferred spoon (little or big). When he fell down and needed a swift boo-boo kiss he would run to Kenny or cry for my mom.

He loved me, and I loved him, but the closeness didn’t come as naturally to us. Belle, on the other hand, had not wanted to give up breastfeeding when I eventually weaned her at 18 months, so, needless to say, an effortless bond with my child was all I had known.

Last year, something shifted. Life took some unexpected turns (even before the pandemic!) and Beau and I were suddenly together A LOT. In fact, we spent most of our days together, falling into easy routines. I created LEGO games for him and he sat with me at LaBelle every week for my manicure. But, more than jut the logistical closeness, I started to become his person; the one to whom he’d run when he needed the extra kiss or expression of love. Do I think that our bond was harder to build because I was suffering from severe postpartum depression for the first year of his life? In my darker moments, yes. But, not because he was mad at or resentful of me. I think put up my own walls, incapable of trusting myself to be the mom he deserved. This is hard to reconcile. That’s ok. We found our way.


This morning, after we untangled from one another, Beau scampered to his room to build LEGO characters. Kenny and I got to talking and, long story short, I challenged him to “give me the most random word” he could think of, as I’d put it in the search term of this here blog and see if there would be any hits.

After a moment of thinking, he came up with his word: Croissant.

“I’m not so sure there I’ve ever posted the word croissant on here, but I’ll try!”

Well, wouldn’t you know, there were FOUR hits!

I chose to read this post, which was written six years ago next month.

It explains so much of what I’d been feeling, then, and so much of what I explained above.

But, more than that, it shows how all things are fluid, evolving, ephemeral and mercurial.

I’d been resigned to the fact that my bond with Beau would just simply be different than my bond with Belle.

I was right, but not in the ways I’d imagined.

While different, the bonds are equal in depth and comfort.

While Belle still loves me, she’s growing up, and wouldn’t dare ask me to spoon her while referring to me as her “happy place.”

She is WAY too cool for that.

And so, today was a good reminder of where we’ve been, where we are, and just how far we’ve come.

We aren’t doing things like we did before. We are doing things better.

Like communicating; snuggling; spooning.

We belong to each other. He is my spoon and I am his.

Don’t believe me? You can read it for yourself! “We are doing this” originally published in March, 2015.

We are doing this

My relationship with my son is an extremely complex one. It is so easy for me to write about my daughter (my mini-me); in fact, I have literally hundreds of posts from which to choose, that would each somehow illustrate her character or our bond. I was just searching for the post in which I wrote about finding out that I was having a boy, and accidentally came upon this, so you can use this one post, written not so long ago, as an example of my daughter and my love for her.

My love for my son is no less fierce or intense. But yes, it is different. Part of this is clearly because of their 3.5 year age gap. For example, communication: My daughter has a stunning vocabulary for her age and a wisdom that is hard to put into words. My son is just learning to speak. It is easier for me to relate to my daughter in many ways, because she can tell me how she is feeling and what she wants and she will sit down with me, whereas my son uses non-verbal communication, his dozen words and a lot of running.

But, as I said, my love for him is unquantifiable. Just this morning the four of us were up early and all cuddled on the couch in the basement, listening to my son’s new favorite song (and let me tell you, he makes it known) and I kind of nuzzled up to his head and inhaled him, like people do with newborn babies. He smells delicious. I can’t describe it, but I got so lost in that smell, I could have stayed there forever.

But if we are being really, truly honest, which I always am, I think that the part of my relationship that mixes me up a bit is the fact that he was born and I subsequently lost my mind. So my feelings about our introduction are a combination of bliss, gratitude, joy, terror, sadness, pain, guilt and some PTSD. Once my mental health started to improve and I was left alone, again, to take care of my son, I thought, “How am I going to do this? How will we work?”

My little guy has surprised me from day 1 of his existence in my womb, and hasn’t stopped. He cracks me up, for in the span of 3 minutes, he will steal my kale smoothie, switch the Living Room TV to a setting that I can’t figure out how to fix, take apart my bathroom vanity, while marching around, bag of pretzels in one hand and blowdryer in the other. (This is what he did after lunch today.) He just tried to race his Matchbox cars over my computer keyboard. He is just different than I am. I am lazy. I like to play chill games. He likes to go go go go go go go go go go.

But something hit me today, as I got dressed, and I was inspired to journal it, as he deserves it. I wanted to write about him. My closet happens to be in my son’s bedroom, so as I picked out my outfit, I sat him on his glider and talked to him. “I’m just putting on my shirt now! What do you think?” And I smiled at him as broadly as I could and he smiled back, with his entire face. I ran to the bathroom that is across the hall from his bedroom and waved to him. He continued to beam.

“We are doing this,” I thought.

This, this period of time right now, is an odd one; This is not what I expected from my life, and I feel the entire spectrum of emotions when I think about it, ranging from extreme sadness to pure happiness. This morning, on that couch, my head in his hair, I was as blissful as anyone could be.

And then there are other times, when I am trying to figure out my path forward, and I get down.

But I realized today that I have this constant reminder with me; My little strength symbol.

want to be happy, not just for myself (in fact, I put myself last, but that’s a whole different story), but for him.

So right now I am sitting on the floor of the basement, perched on his “Anywhere Chair”, typing, as he runs around, playing trains, sliding down the rollercoaster, handing me a plastic croissant and saying, “Apple, mama?” as he shoves it into my mouth, climbing on the furniture and continuing to mess with yet another TV. I am now listening to the sound of my home phone dialing.

But we’re doing this.

And even though I just had to get up from my chair on the floor (despite my inherent laziness) to hang up the phone because he actually did just call someone, we are doing this.

And so I am going to go now. Not just because he is dialing more numbers, but because I want to give him my time. I want to play with him, cooking together in his fake grill. I want to help him to do a puzzle. I want to smell his head.

So, it may not have been the easiest path,

and every single day still has it’s challenges,

but I get to smell a heavenly head, and see a huge smile that has all but 2 teeth filled in, and laugh at the little drop of milk that gets caught in the cleft of his chin and live in a constant state of surprise and amazement and awe.

And I get to continue to learn, from my baby, how to be strong.

(Our respective perches. At least for this second.)

photo 1photo 2Update: My mom just called.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Nothing. You called me? I got a missed call from your home phone.”

My son freakin’ called my mom.

“His first call to Bubbie!” she exclaimed, so excited.

“He is delicious.”

And I have to agree.

One year in, a pandemic poem

One year in, a pandemic poem
February 2020,
when we look back now, it almost seems funny,
A whole year has passed in the blink of an eye,
(read: agonizing slog; a lifetime’s gone by).
As we licked envelopes for our Valentines, freely,
our hopes were still bright, our nerves still so steely.
2020 was ahead! Such a promising year!
(With just whispers of a novel virus with a name like a beer.)
We knew about Wuhan, but were WE in its reach?
(Or could we be like Teflon Don after being impeached?)
The news grew more grim as we all Marched ahead,
though my kids were both sick, out of school, stuck in bed.
At the doc I felt foolish for asking “could it be?”
(though it turned out he had Scarlet Fever, she had Flu B).
And on that fateful day in Mid-March when everything closed
we’d already spent the prior week home.
Suddenly the whole world came to a halt
A pandemic was upon us, we were under assault.
In March things were new, terrifyingly so,
with orders of “shelter in place” / “stay at home.”
People were panicking as so many were dying,
(though some said it would “magically disappear”; they were lying).
We adopted new schedules, our vocabulary grew
To include “socially distancing” and “quarantine crew.”
In our house we knew we were deeply lucky,
Though seeing my parents through windows felt sucky.
With April showers came the banana bread boom,
And Instacart orders and “you’re muted” on Zoom.
Mommy school, car parades, delivery slots,
Celebrating healthcare heroes with the clanging of pots.
The bright, warm Spring we’d all been expecting
Was replaced by isolation and mad disinfecting.
By May the virus had taken its toll,
Feeding on hope, numbers out of control.
Schools were closed for the year, “If I have to teach you
expect cocktails with virtual tours of Machu Picchu!”
We all stayed in sweatpants, got to know Dr. Fauci,
Baked sourdough and stayed glued to the couch-y.
Protests erupted, we were brought to our knees
When as a country we heard George Floyd’s “I can’t breathe.”
As the June sun rose things started to move,
gray-haired folks poked their heads out, to find a new groove,
so tired of loneliness, darkness and strife,
“We need contact,” some said. “We must get back to life.”
For us, and I don’t mean to sound like a martyr,
This change actually made life oh so much harder.
With clear mandates we could all stay on the same page,
But we watched from indoors as the summer fun raged.
(Please don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of fun,
Isolated with my parents, a pool and the sun.
And so I can’t complain, our list of “haves” has no end,
It just hasn’t included a hug from our friends.)
In July we went hiking and did hip hop outdoors,
But missed normalcy, crowds, even grocery stores.
It was hard that our country, deemed as “United”
Grew increasingly hostile, hateful, divided.
When we all should have masked our President brayed.
He was too pompous and all of us paid.
September came swiftly and I really was awed
by how deftly the people peeled off into pods.
There were cohorts for learning virtually,
(both synchronously and asynchronously).
We talked metrics, monoclonal antibodies,
An election, our generation, operation warp speed.
Frontline workers were deservedly applauded,
But one group has yet to be adequately lauded:
Our teachers, let me jump in and say, are heaven sent.
How have they not broken with how much they’ve bent?
Thank you, dear teachers, for all that you do.
We’d never survive this if not for you.
As the leaves fell, so did our spirits.
We may not understand this virus, but we’ve learned to fear it.
Then, RBG died, the fate of SCOTUS in shambles,
Did I miss the “hypocrisy” clause after the preamble?
With the election our citizens found more reasons to hate,
With a maskless crescendo at the fiery first debate.
Then, October! Surprise! I woke up from a dream
To see CNN say, “Trump has COVID-19”
As our country waited with breath that was baited
Thousands of the less fortunate were intubated.
We wept as we tried to honor the dead,
The news spewed bleak statistics, it was blue vs. red.
But, with all of the pain and all of the loss,
And all of the loneliness that comes at a cost,
There was joy this autumn and I can’t just discount
The ways in which community members rallied around.
From our socially distant, contact-free trick-or-treating
(careful not to ingest too much Purell when you’re eating!)
To an innovative democratic process of voting
Where we got it right (I promise, not gloating).
November brought us the change we’ve needed,
Small voices were heard, their advice was well-heeded.
And on November 7, when the election was called
Joseph Biden the victor, with liberty and justice for all.
There was room to hope again, permission to dream,
For the first time since the start of COVID 19.
As the craziest year crept to a close
We all reflected on that which means most.
Try as I may and try as I might
It’s impossible to say this without sounding trite:
We found magic in madness, memories in mess,
Did puzzles, played UNO, and even learned chess!
Binged all of Netflix (and Hulu and Prime),
Eat all meals together, every day, every time.
The strength and grit with which my kids have responded
Is awesome and during this time we’ve all bonded.
I love them as humans, they teach me each day,
Wherever they go from here will be the right way.
It’s 2021 now and the threats remain real,
But with grit comes growth, and from hurt we can heal.
February has brought snow, here, with loud winds of change,
(that often sound like Pfizer, Moderna, J&J…)
Shots are going in arms, science is working,
Perilous variants are constantly lurking.
This pandemic has certainly taken its toll,
But it’s also shown me that there are some things I just can’t control.
I can’t take health for granted,
Each moment a gift,
Nothing that means anything is ever easy or swift.
We have more than most,
For more I can’t ask.
And if I see you I promise I’m smiling from behind my 3 masks.
I miss you, dear world,
But we shall meet again.
Hey, a “socially distant acquaintance” is the new “best friend.”
Be kind to yourself, as that is a must.
May peace be with you and in Fauci we trust.

Thoughtful Parenting

Thank you to Thoughtful Parenting for this feature and for the chance to don my “Becca the author” hat. Thank you to Wendy for the beautiful interview. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your tribe and for your willingness to be a part of mine.

Please enjoy this article (and image) as originally published on ThoughtfulParenting.

xx, B

Rebecca Fox Starr: Author, Blogger, and Mental Health Advocate. An Interview.

Image courtesy of Rebecca Fox Starr

Wendy Lias, LSW

Dear readers, I am so excited to be able to share this wonderful woman you.  Rebecca Fox Starr is an author, a blogger, and tireless mental health advocate.  I’ve been following her writing for years.  When I was a new mother myself, I used to devour her blog posts about motherhood while I was up nursing my newborn in the middle of the night.  I’m thrilled that she’s agreed to chat with us here on Thoughtful Parenting.

Let’s get the basics out of the way, where are you from, how many kids do you have etc.

Hi, I am Becca, and I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, author, blogger, singer, musical theatre nerd, shoe collector, Philadelphia Eagles superfan and survivor of severe prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression. In all seriousness, I am supremely grateful for the opportunity to write, share, and connect, especially in such a warm, nurturing environment. As of late, it has been hard to wear my “Becca the author/advocate” hat (more on that, later!) and so I really appreciate the chance to get to know you and your readers. I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, just about five minutes from where I live now; in fact, I bought a house on the same street where my paternal grandmother raised her five kids! I married the boy who grew up around the corner (after years of seeing the same childhood therapist and having my dog run away in his backyard). His name is Kenny and he is the most loyal, decent human I know. My daughter, Belle, was born in 2010 and she is my mini-me. We are currently on Season 5 of a Glee marathon, she just got cast as Dorothy in a local, virtual production of The Wizard of Oz, and she is the child I always dreamt of having. My son, Beau, was born in 2013 and he is the sweetest thing, with strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, and a dimple in his chin that I truly cannot resist kissing (regrettably, for him, during his Zoom classes, which has gotten a bit embarrassing, but it is what it is). He is the incredible, hilarious, bright child I never imagined I’d get to know, and therefore the one who made me into the mother – and human – I am today. I have two dogs, which is still hard to type, as we lost our first baby, our 13-Year-old Yorkie, Lola, last month. Crosby is an Australian Miniature Labradoodle and Georgia is a four lb Yorkshire Terrier who thinks she is the boss.

Your blog, Mommy Ever After, has readers from all over the world.  Can you tell us a little bit about how it started and how it’s evolved over time?

I became a mom on April 18, 2010, exactly one week after my 25th birthday. None of my close friends had kids and motherhood, to me, was enchanting AND hard at the same time. While I did not suffer from a diagnosable perinatal mood disorder after having Belle, plenty of loneliness and worry managed to creep up on me. And so, when she was just two-months-old I started a blog, which was still a pretty new thing, back then, called “Mommy Ever After.” It was hard to put myself out there in such a vulnerable way, so I sold it to myself as an online baby book of sorts; a place in which I could chronicle our daily goings-on in a raw, honest, familiar way. I developed a small following and kept writing, almost daily, which afforded me with the boost to write serialized entries about meeting and falling in love with Kenny, getting engaged, giving birth, and all facets of daily (spit-up-covered) life as a new mom. I was able to employ dialectical thinking and share how motherhood was so many things all at once.

After Beau’s birth on October 24, 2013, I developed severe postpartum depression. Four months later, after a wri-atus on the blog, I came out, in real time, with my story, effectively announcing, “Hey, I have been really quiet and that is because I have been suffering, and I am still suffering, so let’s talk about it.” I do not know what gave me the guts to write so openly during that dark (and, frankly, terrifyingly bleak) time, but it changed everything for me. Though much of my memory from that time is hazy, I remember saying, “Well, if I come out with this I will always be stigmatized as someone with mental health issues. BUT, if I can help one other woman by sharing my story then it will all be worth it.” My readership and following grew and I had the honor and privilege of connecting to so many women who felt exactly like I did; it helped all of us to feel less alone, I say with the utmost humility and gratitude. I was able to take the blog and turn it into a job, which, for me, gave me a profound sense of purpose. I began to heal.

From the blog, three books were born.  Can you tell us what the books are about and who might benefit from picking up a copy?

After my children, the greatest accomplishments of my life have been writing the two books about my experience with prenatal and postpartum anxiety and depression. “Beyond the Baby Blues: Anxiety and Depression During and After Pregnancy” was released in January 2018 and is my own story along with actionable advice from an expert in the field of perinatal mood disorders. I was also incredibly fortunate to include the stories of five other women (spanning many decades) as a way to emphasize the fact that no one is immune and no one is alone.  “Baby Ever After: Expanding Your Family After Postpartum Depression” was released last January, just before the pandemic really hit us here in the U.S. and is about the “if” and “how” of having more children after surviving an episode of extreme perinatal distress like my own. This was born out of my own experience wrestling with the future picture of my family as a young, fertile woman whose husband had a hasty vasectomy and whose family had deep scars surrounding the notion of my embarking upon another pregnancy, as I’d only previously survived by the skin of teeth. This book is an exploration of my own journey to find answers, how this decision can be approached, the factors to weigh, the options available, including a future pregnancy, IVF, surrogacy, adoption, and, importantly, the valid choice to not expand the family after postpartum depression. Again, I was blessed to include the stories of seven other brave souls who shared their experiences, worries, woes, triumphs, heartache, and solace. Spoiler alert: I have not expanded my family. But, I have not closed the door tightly, either. As I say in the book, when the door is left ajar, the weather is always windy.

I am extremely excited about my third book, which is a picture book for children aimed at normalizing negative emotions and opening a dialogue about mental health for parents and their kids. I have not officially announced the title, yet, but I am very excited to say that the publishers will be releasing “Mommy Ever After” next year, as I explain that I may not always be happy, but I will always be a mommy.

What does your life look like right now, mid-pandemic?

I alluded to this earlier, but life during the pandemic is – like so many things – awful and amazing. I recognize that I have an incredible amount of privilege, so my worries and woes cannot compare to those of so many others. I have great anxiety surrounding health (read: GERMOPHOBE AND HYPOCHONDRIAC) so this is a perfectly awful storm for me. Every sneeze feels like a potential grenade being thrown at me, but I am leaning on the members of my treatment team, medication, and Kenny for a lot of support. As a family, we made the decision to take a very conservative approach to COVID exposure, and so we have not been inside a building, save a few necessary doctor visits, since March. My kids have been in virtual school exclusively, have not touched another child in over ten months, and are counting down the days until they can return to day camp and Five Below. I feel like this time is showing me that I am a strong, resilient mother AND an awful, incapable mother, often at the same time. I spend all day, every day trying to meet their academic, physical and emotional needs and I am always falling short in some respect. In order to keep them physically healthy I am putting a tremendous strain on their emotional health. However, I feel better equipped to handle mental health issues than I do if they were to contract COVID. This means I am teaching first and fifth grades simultaneously while trying to keep our house in order, make sure all humans, dogs, and plants and souls are fed, connections are maintained, lives are enriched, and it is a hard tightrope upon which to balance. I have had to give up a lot of the things that are “just Becca” things, like music, which I used to do as a life-long singer and new guitar player, and writing. I haven’t had a proper date with Kenny or a girls’ night out with my best friends, and, like everyone else right now, I feel crappy about that. But, as someone told me when I was in the throes of my postpartum depression, this too shall pass. I repeat that to myself. I believe that.

If you could give one piece of advice to parents who are struggling with all of complications that 2020 threw at us, what would it be?

For any parents struggling with their own mental health issues right now, the first thing I would say is to repeat the above: this too shall pass. I don’t say this to minimize. I see you and I validate you, busy, stressed, clobbered parents. Though I have not been able to make time for many extracurriculars, as of late, I have made it a point to carve out time every week to speak to my treatment team members, including a psychologist, psychiatrist, dietitian, and primary care physician. Ideally, I want parents to be able to do those things and also to take time to engage in the things that make them feel alive, passionate and make their hearts sing. But, meeting basic mental health, nutrition, sleep, fresh air needs is salient. I know how it feels to not have time. It is crushing. BUT, we all have time for things like three deep, cleansing breaths; a body scan meditation before bed; a healing podcast while doing chores; a ten minute walk outside; a three minute stretch; an episode of “Sex and the City” from the first half of the sixth season; an admittance of “I am not OK right now” to someone who will listen.  Even writing this list is illustrative to me, as I realize I am doing more for myself than I often realize.

If people are looking to follow you and your story moving forward, where should they look?

I am all about making connections, especially now. If you are looking to follow my journey, I am most active on Instagram @rebeccafoxstarr. There are almost eleven years of archived posts on and if you’re looking for a laugh, go to the site and type in a random search word in the big bar above the title and see what comes up! The most vulnerable, raw writing I’ve done can be found in the books (which are available wherever books are sold!) In all seriousness, If you are struggling, I implore you to reach out to me. I check my DMs. I am here for you. We can do this.

Thank you so much to Becca for joining us here on Thoughtful Parenting to share your thoughts as well as these wonderful resources!

Join in the conversation! You can find Thoughtful Parenting on Facebook and Instagram.

“Beau and Lo (and Lola’s Bows)”

(portrait courtesy of Emily D. Stewart, artist)
“Beau and Lo (And Lola’s Bows)”

Once upon an autumn day
Baby Beau cried his very first cry
Lola romped in the leaves, as she couldn’t believe
Her new best friend had arrived.

Lola loved her Beau and baby Beau loved his Lo
In the house with the blue balloons
With a chill in the air, and the wind in her hair, and a bow like the harvest moon.

They grew and grew, some,
This special two-some
Just Beau and Lo,
(and Lola’s bows)
Tied up together
in knots and loops forever.

Once upon a winter night
Little Beau had his first scary dream
Lola crept to his bed, nestled head against head,
As she settled her best friend to sleep.

Lola loved her Beau and little Beau loved his Lo
In the house with the shadowy branches
With a frost outside, and warm cuddles inside,
and a bow like the snow when it dances.

They grew and grew, some,
This special two-some
Just Beau and Lo,
(and Lola’s bows)
Tied up together
in knots and loops forever.

Once upon a soggy spring day
Big boy Beau first tracked mud through their room
Lola dragged with her nose, an old rag and a hose,
Her best friend with the mop & the broom.

Lola loved her Beau and Beau loved his Lo
In the house with the rainbow of flowers
With pillows of leaves, made of gifts from the trees
and a bow like the sky after showers.

They grew and grew, some,
This special two-some
Just Beau and Lo,
(and Lola’s bows)
Tied together
in knots and loops forever.

Once upon a late summer scorcher
Batter Beau scored his first home run
Lola jumped up and cheered with her pointiest ears
Her best friend was the team’s #1

Lola loved her Beau and Beau loved his Lo
In the house with the balls in the yard
From hours of catches, and infinity fetches
and a bow like a baseball card.

They grew and grew, some,
This special two-some
Just Beau and Lo,
(and Lola’s bows)
Tied together
in knots and loops forever.

Once upon a cold, grey day
Beau cried his saddest sad cry
Lola’s romping had slowed, as she’d grown very old,
and she looked up at her Beau in the eyes.

Lola loved her Beau and Beau loved his Lo
In the house with a bridge to a rainbow.
“You need a new bow, and I need my Lo,
Please, girl. Please don’t go.”

They snuggled and nuzzled more,
In each other’s hearts forevermore,
Just Beau and Lo,
Just like Lola’s bows,
Tied up together
in knots and loops forever.

Once upon a new spring day
When the first green saplings appeared
Beau dug in the dirt, with a smile and some hurt,
As we watered the earth with his tears.

Beau loved his Lo and Lo loved her Beau
From the ground up to places unknown
Beau tilled and he sowed, and he planted neat rows
A rainbow of flowers for Lo.

It grew and it grew,
This garden for two,
Beau and Lo,
(and Lola’s bows)
Tied up together
in knots and loops forever. 

For our Lola
December 6, 2007-December 30, 2020

Why am I so scared?

Dear friend,

I hope this finds you well. Or, you know, as well as possible during this time.

I hope you are finding yourself with as much health, both physical and mental, as one can muster.

This time is (well, I don’t want to be trite, and refer to this time as “unprecedented” so I will, instead, use one of the synonyms offered to me when I highlight the word in Microsoft Word, and go with) extraordinarily trying for all.

I don’t want to scorn #2020 or reference something I did not “have on my Bingo card.”

I want to get real.

I want to tell you what this pandemic is like for me. I want to try to shake off the dust; to pummel the writer’s block; to try to illustrate something for which we do not yet have words. Part apology, part explanation, part excuse, part SOS cry (can you hear me from behind my mask?). Why I have been absent, quiet, cocooned? Why am I so scared?

I won’t take you on a deep dive into my psyche, as you definitely didn’t have that on your 2020 Bingo card, but I will give you a bit of background:

Before the pandemic hit, I suffered from anxiety. Surprise! Hey, try to get the shock off of your face (can you see it from behind your mask?). Though it is free-floating and broad in nature, a few particularly profound and intense areas of focus include: health (and its opposite, illness) and the well-being of my family.

I know that I come by this particular breed of anxiety honestly, with an indiscernible blend of nature and nurture. I was hardwired and I have scars. I grew up being taught about superstition and when I have to fill out a family history at a new doctor’s office I always need an extra page.

“Who in your family has had cancer?” these forms ask.

“Where do I begin and can I write on the back?” I reply, in kind.

I am terrified that something will happen to the people I love, and particularly that they are/will get/will someday become sick.

In fact, in the few weeks before the first cases of COVID-19 were reported in the US I had to take my children to the pediatrician and urgent care several times, with Belle having an undiagnosed case of the flu and Beau having an undiagnosed case of strep. When his developed into scarlet fever I lost my mind. Protecting my kids is my greatest duty and when I miss something – when I don’t listen to the scary ruminations in my mind – the ones that sends out red, angry-looking flares signaling imminent danger – I shatter into a million pieces. I should note, when I took the kids to said doctor visits, as an avid germophobe, I brought a giant towel shaped like a hamburger for us to sit on, not allowing the kids to touch anything, frantically dispensing Purell and reminders. THIS WAS PRE-COVID.

Now, before I continue, let me acknowledge my privilege. COVID-19 is universally awful, and I recognize all that I have. I have so many things that make this situation better for me than for so many others. I have insurance, access to healthcare, a home, food, transportation, solid internet connection, solid personal connections, a job from which I was able to step away while morphing into a teacher for my kids, a job at all, support systems, therapy, medication, and many other things for which I feel so grateful. I am not a frontline worker, no longer work as an educator, and have been able to stay home (which we are still doing, have never stopped doing, and plan to do for the foreseeable future.)

But, friend, I want to admit to you that I am struggling. Despite my best efforts, my anxiety has been raging. Nothing feels safe to me anymore. I spend some part of the day, every single day, so scared that I feel physically shaky, queasy, or foggy, with increased heartrate, migraines, and exhaustion. I am now, what you’d call, hypervigilant. Hypervigilance is grueling. I cannot trust my intuition or “mom gut” because everything feels scary to me and I have no ability to tease our the actual from the imagined. I treat most things as the former, panic, feel sick, make frantic calls to patient doctors, but having patience for this patient is arduous, if not impossible.

Why am I so scared? Why do I ask, “Are you OK?” every single time someone in my house sneezes from ragweed, coughs from swallowing their water the wrong way, or gives any indication of displeasure? Thank you so much for giving me this chance to explain.

To unmask.

 I am terrified of COVID-19. An extremely contagious, novel virus that is spreading globally, wrapping its germy arms around every semblance of normalcy and protection is scary! I am scared of all we do not know; the things that continue to confound the medical community, the lack of any surefire, definitive treatment or vaccine. I am scared of my kids getting sick and being scared to touch them. I am scared of my parents getting sick and being scared to lose them. I am scared all day, every day. Even when it isn’t in the forefront of my mind, the fear is always there, lurking, eating away at me like…well…a virus.

A lot of this fear is rational, I know. Back in March, when we first locked down, one of my doctors explained to me that I would be at higher risk for complications if I were to contract COVID, as I am already immunocompromised. I have two autoimmune diseases. My body’s own immune response naturally goes haywire and so when doctors started to speak of things like the cytokine storm and body systems “going awry” my own anxiety cyclone began to rage.

This is scary enough (for everyone, I know, including you, friend). But, there is a second storm, perhaps a hurricane this time, that, when swirling in conjunction with the first anxiety-related-natural-disaster, creates a superstorm big enough to sweep me away in its ominous grasp. I am Dorothy, clicking my heels so many times that the soles are now as thin as paper, begging to go home. Begging for things to feel safe, again. Wanting to wake up from this nightmare.

This second storm is known as “the doctors and hospitals can no longer, reliably, protect our health” and just thinking about this counterintuition makes me dizzy.  The doctor’s office, once commonly “germy” to me, is now a place we are trying to avoid at all costs. Because life is life, some of the people in my family have had to visit doctors during this time and, I will say, the offices we have encountered are doing remarkable jobs to keep their patients, staff, and, thankfully, themselves safe and healthy. However, it is a reality that weighs on me constantly. For a family that had to take our youngest to the ER so many times in his first few years that we began to joke about a frequent-user-punch card, like one you’d get at the frozen yogurt shop, this is so very scary. By the way, the frozen yogurt shop is oh so very scary to me, as well, and that sucks oh so very much.

Now, if someone gets sick or has an accident or escapes my hypervigilance for one second, it could be catastrophic. It was only 20 months ago that, as you may remember, friend, I had a freak injury during which time several heavy, cast-iron pans fell from six feet above me, right onto my head. It was terrifying and painful and, when I sat on the kitchen floor, stunned, and touched my head to identify the tender, throbbing spot on the left side, and I felt something wet, and Kenny looked at me, terror in his eyes, and said, “Bec, that is blood,” we immediately called 911 to get help. A trio of EMTs arrived, carried me to a stretcher, drove me the two minutes to our local hospital and got me admitted to a room immediately. A doctor, nurse, and medical student worked on me, taking me for a CT scan, injecting my head with a numbing agent, and using staples to close the wound. Kenny was able to sit with me, holding my hand. They diagnosed me with a concussion and I was sent home to rest and heal. It was pretty scary, but I was OK. I did not have to worry about all of the things I worried about (major brain injury, brain surgery, needing brain surgery for a major brain injury without McDreamy being the ER with this ferryboat adorned scrub cap) alone or masked or gloved or at risk of contracting a novel coronavirus.

Why am I so scared? Because I am so scared of illness and so scared of injury and so scared of not being able to protect the ones I love and so scared that if someone I love is ill or injured then they will have to seek medical care and risk being exposed to or, worse, contracting COVID-19.

This fear infiltrates every aspect of my life. I try to be a good mother by protecting my kids from harm and, yet, I am an anxious mother. I want to make sure my kids are healthy, both physically and mentally. I want them to see friends, but do not feel safe with them interacting with other kids in person. Neither child has touched another child since March. This breaks my heart. But, not as much as it would break my heart if someone got sick. I want them to grow academically, and work tirelessly as a member of their teaching support staff, but I constantly feel as though I am falling short. They miss meetings. They have too much screen-time. They aren’t able to make meaningful connections. I am ruining their lives! But, I am protecting them! But, at what cost? This is, also, why I am scared. As I have said before, I feel like a terrible mom.

I want to apologize, however. I am sorry if this letter seems self-centered. Trust me, I want to hear exactly how you are doing, what you are feeling, what moves you, what worries you, what I can do. I simply wanted to explain to you why I act and speak and feel the way I do at this time. I share my struggles so that you remember that you are not alone. Never, not ever.

I wanted to give you a peek behind the mask.

Thank you, friend, for your patience with me. I know I have not been as communicative. I have been no fun at all! Eight months without fro-yo can have that effect.

Do I think things will get better? Yes. I am confident that they will. In my experience, and if past is prologue, a hopeful story often comes after the hard. So, while we are trudging around the muck and mire of the virus’ dark winter, let’s look for the light. For the positive changes that are happening around us. Change is the one thing I will, most certainly, keep on my 2020 Bingo card.

And, if I start to forget, I’d be so grateful if you would remind me. I promise to always do the same for you.

So, how are you doing? Please write back!

Sincerely yours,


Septembers past

Over the weekend, as we gathered around my parents’ table for dinner, my kids, Kenny, mom, and dad decided to play a new mealtime game:

Let’s make fun of Becca!!!!!

(is the working title, I believe).

I have anxiety, and anxiety + pandemic + virtual school + the impending election + 2020 = MAJOR ANXIETY

My kids have taken to teasing me about my hypochondria; my hyperbolic reactions.

So, over dinner, one by one, they told stories. They did imitations.

“Zeydie,” Beau said, with a twinkle in his eyes. “Is Beau’s head the same on this side as it is on the other side? I think it’s different. And he sneezed! Does he have COVID?”

Trust me: my kids were not making fun of the virus. They were making fun of my reaction to the virus. How, despite our continued isolation from the world I manage to worry, often audibly, with every achoo and ache.

I am working on this.

As we sat around the table at the end of another exhausting week, my dad decided to regale the kids with the “syringe” story. How there was a time when Belle was younger and very sick and I was so concerned with her fluid intake that I was giving her Gatorade from a syringe. 5ml of sustenance at a time. He could not remember the details. Neither could I. But the syringe story is an inside joke, another way that my family makes light of what has been, at times, crippling anxiety. It is hard for us to watch each other suffer. We look for the light.

This morning, I had the idea that I should share some old posts, perhaps from Septembers past, as so much has changed since I started this blog 10.5 years ago. We have all grown; so has my audience. And so, for anyone knew to this Land of Mom, I figured I could provide some old, silly, relatable material. From back when I was a new mom. From different times. Scary in their own ways, albeit simpler.

I found a silly post from this date in 2010, but, to be honest, it was not worth sharing. Baby Belle had grown out of her tights, Kenny was comparing her to Melchior from “Spring Awakening” and I think you had to be there.


I did stumble upon a post from this week during September of 2011 and…



So, as our first trip down memory lane, allow me to welcome you to to a sick day from a time when Belle was 18 months, I was 26, and things felt very hard. And, as a bonus, I’ll throw in a few other post from other Septembers past at the bottom. In case you’re thirsty for some nostalgia. But not too thirsty.

Just, like, 5ml.

“When I peed on that stick (What I didn’t know then)”

When I peed on that stick, and, miracle of all miracles, got two lines to appear, I knew that I wanted to be a mother.

I knew that my life was only beginning

and that in living my dream, I would find joy and love like I’d never before imagined.


I knew all of that.

But then, there were also things that I didn’t know.

So. Many. Things.

Basically, all the things that I have done in the past 6 hours, since I first woke up this morning.

Today, I saw my child sick.

And when the emergency care nurses on the phone line told me that she could be seen by her Pediatrician, but only if I could make it there in 15 minutes, I ran…

….to get ready. Ran to throw on clothes over my pajamas. Ran to my sick daughter.

Today, as I raced to get out the door, I had to ignore the fact that my daughter had gotten sick all over my bed.

All over her beloved stuffed animal.

All over my shirt.

Today, I put a fresh shirt over my disgustingly dirty shirt, to get to the Pediatrician on time.

Today, I didn’t make it on time.

Today, I managed to make it to the other doctor’s office just in time to wait an hour for her to be seen.

Today, I fought back tears.

Today, I told a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner that I did not agree with her plan. I told her that I thought she was wrong.

(Today, I was right.)

Today, I got my dehydrated daughter to drink one small cup of diluted Gatorade by squirting it in her mouth with a tiny syringe, one milliliter at a time.

Today, I did the laundry. And I didn’t mess it up.

Today, I couldn’t fight back the tears any longer.

No, when I peed on that stick and saw one line become two, I never imagined that I’d be sitting in a doctor’s office, with tears in my eyes, and knots in my hair, and poop on my clothing. I never imagined that motherhood, in all of its amazing, love-filled, beautiful glory could also, sometimes, feel

(and please excuse me for this/pun inteded)

pretty darn shitty.

But, I did it.

And after my shirt was changed

and hair was combed

and proper Pediatrician was called

and correct medicine was given

I held a sleepy, sick baby in my arms and read her a favorite book.

And sang to her.

You are my sunshine

I sang.

And, my little girl looked up at me,

her tired eyes half closed

and said “Sunshine”.

A new word.

And then I was OK again.

So what I didn’t know then,

way back when when we were just two people with two lines,

was that the little person that was beginning her journey with me

would be my sunshine;

and always, always make me happy when skies are gray.


Some other posts from some other Septembers:

“T.G.I.S” (September, 2010)

“Congrats, Daddy!” (September, 2010)

“It was bound to happen” (September 2011)

“All the feelings” (September, 2016) ** A goodie, IMHO

11 things I’ve become obsessed with during quarantine.

Friends, you know me. You know that we are still quarantined, or socially distant, or in the red zone, whatever you want to call it.

You know that COVID-19 is making me feel like a bad mom.

There has been a lot of womp-womp-ing over here, and so, as I sit here in my living room, my favorite room in my house, enjoying the light that pours in from the windows and the world around us, I have decided to share an upbeat post.

I bet you didn’t know I had it in me!

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve been in a strict quarantine bubble with my parents, and there is this thing my dad does, not infrequently, and this thing is that he says, “You know something? _______ has been one of the greatest finds of quarantine!” or “I have to say, ______ has had a a major renaissance during quarantine!” or, he posits, “Do you know what was COMPLETELY UNDERRATED before quarantine?”

(each time, as if he has not already said it. Love you, dad!)

We tease him (because he is, in fact, unintentionally funny), but he is also correct. We have discovered and re-discovered some things during this period of isolation that have made said time better, happier, more delicious, more fun, and, dare I say, tangy-er!

Yes, of course we’ve baked banana bread; I’ve enjoyed every bite of my bestie’s delicious sourdough when she’s dropped it on my stoop; I spent two weeks tie-dying every white thing I could find; we watched Tiger King. 

Here, I am talking about the things that are not on a quarantine Bingo card. Well, mostly.

And, because they may make your life similarly peaceful and tangy, I’d like to share with you

11 things I’ve become obsessed with during quarantine.

1. Iceberg lettuce

I know. It has been reviled in the lettuce world. No nutrients! Colorless and flavorless! The lettuce they use in gross, camp salad bars!

Oh no, my friends. Say what you will, but I have gotten into iceberg lettuce and if loving it is wrong then…what is that you say? I cannot hear you over the loud sound of my chomping these crisp, delicious bites of lettucey goodness.

I keep at least 3 heads of iceberg in my fridge at all times, and though washing and drying lettuce is laborious, it is so worth it. I chop it up into fine, little bites, and munch away. More on this, soon!

(P.S. if it is any indication of how much I adore iceberg, I was just going through the running list I’ve been keeping so that I could, at some point, share these things with you, and I had accidentally listed iceberg TWICE!)

2. Cardenas Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar

I have to hand it to my dad. He was right. Red wine vinegar HAD been underrated (by me, at least). Until I tried Cardenas Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar. We go through this by the case. Unlike other vinegars, it is not sour. It has a bite, but just enough. It is sweet, tangy, and is currently bffaeaeae with my iceberg lettuce. I have been making the same salad every day for the last two months, and it never gets old:

Iceberg Lettuce, a peach, peeled cucumber, cracked pepper, a little olive oil, a lot of Lambrusco Red Wine Vinegar.

It is dreamy. I have no idea why.

Let me just say, last week we had run out of the good stuff, so I used my Whole Foods Brand red wine vinegar and I could not even finish the bowl. Too sour! Not my Cardenas.

3. Top Chef

Let me be clear: I watched the first seven or eight seasons of Top Chef religiously.

The Season 2, Marcel head-shaving incident will go down in history as one of the most dramatic reality tv moments ever, and Kenny and I are devoted members of Bachelor Nation. The night before that well-teased episode was set to air we literally could not sleep, giddy with anticipation.

Ahh, life before spoilers.

Then, we fell off. Until one of my favorite podcast hosts started talking about the new Top Chef All Stars season, and, by some stroke of luck, Kenny agreed to start watching with me, in real time, just like the good old days.

It was everything we wanted and more. Cozy, nostalgic, delicious, dramatic, suspenseful, inspiring, heart-warming, I could go on and on and on. Just in case you will, in fact, take my advice and watch this most recent season of Top Chef (All Stars, Season 17) I shall not spoil it, but let me tell you, I had a very exciting interaction with the winner before they were the winner and I now own merchandise that has to do with the winner and a package of food from the winner just arrived at my door, so I encourage you to watch so we can discuss this and you can also enjoy the cozy, inspiring, nostalgic, happy deliciousness.

(Top Chef has also been the gift that keeps on giving, as all of the seasons of the show are available on Hulu, so we’ve gotten to re-watch and catch up since we resumed our love affair with the show.)

4. Coffee

I’ve been a tea girl for as long a I can remember.

Chai was almost a verb for me, “Hey, wanna chai?”

And don’t get me wrong, I still love it, but I’ve pivoted. I’ve gotten basic.

I’ve realized that with enough sweetener and creamer it is not only delicious but crave-worthy.

I like my coffee hot, but flavored similarly to coffee ice cream. Light and sweet. BUT, when Kenny makes it with with AeroPress I can even drink it black. It’s that good. Why someone would choose to drink it black instead of with milk and sugar is beyond me, but it no longer disgusts me. We chemex. We use a machine. We have Nespresso pods. I am almost like a big girl!

Which leads me to my next discovery which is…

5. Oat Milk

I get it, I get it, oat milk has not only been a thing, but it has been THE THING.

I am late on this! I am often late on things. I refused to get emojis until I turned 30, if you recall. I still don’t have Uber.

But oat milk, oh yes. You were right.

I have a complicated relationship with milk and so when I am trying to avoid it things (like coffee!!!!) become tricky. Vanilla almond milk is fine in smoothies, but it just does not taste good to me in a latte. Enter: Oat Milk.

It is creamy, the flavor goes beautifully with my coffee, and I would drink it straight. It reminds me of soy milk, which I also love but do not often buy, and I don’t know why I am telling you this, because you certainly know way more about oat milk than I do, as you were not, in fact, late to this oat milk party, but now you know I know, ya know?

6. Puzzles

This is TOTALLY new to me. I talked about my love of puzzles just last week, and this love has only grown. I won’t repeat myself. I will, however, say that I tackled two 1000 piece puzzles in this last week

(Love Lives Here puzzle and All Good Things Are Wild and Free puzzle).

I have a crazy idea about puzzles, but I think I’ll keep that one up my sleeve.

7. Professional home self tan kit

I don’t think I have ever felt less cute or confident in my life.

Hyperbole or not, I hardly ever think, “Oh! That looks great!” these days and I have been my own very harsh critic.

Cue: Flawless Bake By Sophia.

Full disclosure, Sophia is my friend, but I paid for my kit, this is in no way sponsored, and the fact that Sophia is my friend simply allows me to confidently vouch for her skill, style, and immaculate cleanliness. I ordered my first ever home kit by Sophia right before my 35th birthday in April, as a little treat, and I have used to twice since. Let me just tell you, it has done wonders for my mood.

I mean it. Something about the subtle, natural glow (that I did not mess up and I mess up everything like this) made me look healthier, less like I’ve been indoors and sullen since March, and was a “self care” moment, when such moments are scarce. I used to treat myself to bi-weekly manicures, and have not been since February, but let me tell you that tanned, bare-nailed hands look much better than pale ones!

If you are looking for a similar burst of confidence, I cannot recommend this enough! Sophia is amazing (you’ll want to be her) and she will drop to you, ship to you, FaceTime with you, work with you, and you will feel better.

8. Spice House Spices

Another Robb Fox find, here, and I must give the man credit where credit is due.

When he told me he was buying a set of spices from Spice House I was, to be honest, mildly skeptical and somewhat indifferent.

I was also completely, totally wrong.

As someone who has never liked dried herbs, I will tell you that this set of essentials is so good we have purchased two more sets during quarantine. My personal favorites include the sweet curry, garlic powder, celery seed, dill weed, onion powder, and cumin. You have no idea how big this is for me. I think you’d enjoy, as well!

9. Organization

Look, I cannot say I find the process to be meditative. If I could outsource it, I would. I get that some people like the act of purging, placing, folding, etc. but I am not one of these people. It is, still, a chore.

But, alas, I have been stuck at home for eight months, and the clutter and disorder was really getting to me. Messiness gives me anxiety and my anxiety is already so high. I read articles and followed Instagram pages and made some Amazon orders and let me tell you, tackling one, small area or project at a time has been manageable and the rewards have been awesome.

I bought different kinds of bins, set up two donation pick-ups, dropped bags off on my best friends’ stoops, and went to town (again, one one, small space at a time). I recommend this.

Now, every time I look in my pantry to see neat rows of snacks all organized by type and size, with each type of item in its own, sorted bin, I feel accomplished; less anxious.

10. Audiobooks

Late in 2019 something embarrassing occurred to me: during the year prior I had WRITTEN more books than I had read.

I was mortified!

I was also completely unsure of how to find time to read when I had children and dogs and a husband and a pandemic to keep an eye on.

Audiobooks, for the win! I have been “reading” with my ears nonstop, even replacing my beloved podcasts with audiobooks (from all different genres). Not only do I find these books enjoyable, but having read more than one book makes me feel accomplished. Imagine that!

I often share my book recommendations over on my Instagram page, so you can follow along there. I have been really into junky, fluffy, easy thrillers lately, but this summer I also read some non-fiction pieces (ranging from Andy Cohen to Bob Woodward) so I have a lot to recommend.

11. Putting it out there

Ok, this is not new, and I would not say I am “obsessed” with this, but I want to use this opportunity to thank you.

You have allowed me to continue to put it out there, whether “it” has been my twirling, magical dance parties with baby Belle in 2010 or “it” was the bleakest days of my postpartum depression, and you have followed along, supported me, and given me an incredible sense of solidarity.

In this case, though, I want to thank you on behalf of my kids. I put myself out there a few times this summer, with their permission, and I admitted (on social media) that we are still “staying home” as a family, and that it can be lonely. I shared that Beau is obsessed with Minecraft, and could use a virtual buddy to play with. I explained my kids’ unique school situation, having gone back to public school just last year, right before quarantine, and how we all long for connection. I know that by sharing my clear, potentially controversial viewpoint on the pandemic I am opening myself up to criticism and judgement. I am, potentially, further isolating my kids.

But, by putting it out there, I found some brave, bold, honest, good, kind people who, I now know, are my people.

Moms who also want to set up Minecraft dates for their kids and with whom I now text daily, about Minecraft, yes, but also about motherhood, health worries, and life.

Parents who are working to welcome my kids to their school community.

Strangers who tell us that what we are doing is helping others to stay safe, giving us a sense of purpose during this sea of worry.

If you are also staying at home, reach out. To me! To someone. The loneliness is crushing and it does not have to be.
If you are not, reach out! To those who wish they could, also, be out having fun but, for one reason or another, cannot.

It is hard to display vulnerability. But, when you do, you often reap the sweetest rewards.


There you have 11 of the things I have been obsessed with during this period of time.

As I finished typing that last paragraph I realized that I left some incredibly important items off the list (my daily yoga practice, if you can even call it that, Beau’s newfound love for basketball and The Sixers, sweet munchee cheese, to name a precious few), but maybe I’ll just use those missed opportunities as a chance to connect in the future. See #11.

I hope you have as happy of a day as is possible, considering. For many, it is the first day of school! You’ve got this!

For others, change looms in the air. We’re in this together!

Now, go make yourself a delicious iceberg salad and eat it in front of the television as you start season 17 of Top Chef as you wait for your sunless tan to develop. Just don’t trip on the puzzle piece!



Some days

“Is it whatsday or blursday?” Kenny asks me, not infrequently. Dad jokes abound in quarantine.

Some days I roll my eyes and smile at him. Other days I roll my eyes and mean it. Healthy communication abounds in quarantine.

On all of my days, I put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to be a good mom and on all of my days I fall short.

I try to make sure the kids are stimulated enough (but not overstimulated!), connected to other kids (but with enough distance!), learning enough (but IT’S SUMMER!), and given enough outdoor time so that they’re experiencing all that the natural world has to offer (but this can be so hard for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, weather, motivation, crowds, mood, willingness, and mosquitoes.)

Some days, we start the day with a hike. The kids marvel at how clear the water is as it runs over the rocks in the stream. In these small moments they only have to worry about the poison ivy and the steep incline and the muddy shoes.

Some days, we start with berry picking. We go to the farm when it is empty and drink fresh blueberry slushies (wiped down, of course). Our hands get stained and sticky. On these days I make a peach and blackberry cobbler, which is delicious for dessert, but even better for breakfast.

Most days, the kids are on electronic devices. They watch television shows, play Minecraft, and FaceTime with friends. The latter is fine with me; encouraged, even! We have worked on setting up clear rules around electronics. Every day they are broken.

Some days, I cry. I feel so filled up with feelings that they pour out of me. From my eyes. From the deepest parts of me.

Lately, I have been courting a new love: puzzles. I have always been so bad at puzzles. Comically, confusingly bad.

You know how someone will say something like, “OK, well can you imagine this thing but, like, rotated 90 degrees?”

“No. I cannot do this,” I say.

Play me a song once and I will be able to sing it back to you, as the music almost imprints into my brain. As me to retrace my steps or load a dishwasher and I will regretfully decline.

BUT, after months of saying things like, “We should do a puzzle!” I finally opened up the coolest puzzle, laid out its 500 pieces, and my mom, Kenny, Belle, Beau, and I spent the next few days completing this puzzle. I fell in love.

Some days puzzling feels like therapy. This weekend I tried my hand at a 1000 piece puzzle. It was awesome.

I listened to my audiobook and sat the table and went into a peaceful, almost meditative state, as I constructed an aesthetically pleasing room, with pink walls, potted plants, two dogs, a cat, a bird, a Moroccan trellis rug, and a painting that says, “Love Lives Here.”

I escaped into two, separate worlds at once: the world of my audiobook and the world of the pink room. It made for a good day.

The thing about puzzles is that they are simultaneously empowering and humbling. Unlike other areas of life, there is only one right answer. The piece fits or it does not. One misplaced piece and things go awry.

But, when you find that piece, the piece that completes the bottom right corner of the mahogany console table next to the light brown dog, the piece that has been eluding you for two days, all seems right in the world. For an instant, a problem has been solved.

Some days solving one problem feels epic.

Today is Monday, which means the kids are allowed to play Minecraft.

Minecraft Monday!

These days are their favorite days.

They each played separately, while they each had a FaceTime call with a new friend; friends with whom we’ve connected since we’ve been quarantined; friends whom we met because their moms responded to my online queries. “ISO friends,” I wrote.

Some days, distance does not matter. We are linked by commonalities. A pandemic; nether portals.

Today they have not yet played outside. It was a sunny, hot day, but there were reasons why going outside was not the best idea, but I felt guilty, but they were happy (relieved), but I still feel guilty.

Like most days, I feel as though I have not done enough.

Today I got to have a FaceTime date with a friend whom I have not seen in over a year. It was so nice. I tried to put on makeup. I looked in the mirror. I had, somehow, drawn a brown line across my face, giving me a half of a mustache. Makeup does not abound in quarantine.

Today I had a therapy session, spoke to my kids’ doctors and educators, made good meals for them, told them I love them, let them stay on their iPads for longer than I want to admit, tried (and failed) to get them to do some stuff for school, laughed as they made fun of me, cried when they were not near me, and tried to think of ways in which I can be a better mom for them.

Three new puzzles were just delivered. They’ll need to be left outside, then wiped down with disinfectant, and then we can choose between another still life, a circle of doughnuts, or paint cans filled with sorted, multi-colored LEGOs.

We have an evening activity to do as a family. That feels good.

Some days some good is good enough.

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