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.

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!



Two hands

Two hands.

Sometimes, having two hands feels sufficient. With two hands I can tickle my son until he squeals. With two hands I can give my daughter a relaxing face massage. I can open most jars, clean up most messes, do most TikTok dances.

Often, two hands feel like they cannot do enough. They feel futile; laughable; challenging; they are at least two too few.

A long time ago, a friend told me that her mom had an adage about a mom needing to grow a few extra arms with every new child. I totally get that.

I was just about to write the things for which two hands seem useless and then I felt so guilty for griping, and I felt as though I could be challenged for complaining while in a place of great privilege, and my brain started to swirl, and that is when I stopped and realized that what I was struggling to say is exactly my point:

Having two hands allows me to carry two things, even two opposite things, at the same time.

I have written about this before. For years, in fact. And, if you know me I have almost certainly said something like this to you at some point in time.

I try to use dialectical thinking as a coping mechanism, consciously replacing “but” with “and” and I find it to be helpful.

Right now, my two hands are carrying more than their fair share AND I realize that I am extremely lucky to have things to carry.

Right now, the world feels upside-down, and the pressure that so many of us feel to be doing it “right” can feel crushing. The last post I published on here is from almost two months ago, and is on “The top five tips for parenting during this scary time.”

I was so young, then.

My two hands were filled with more promise and covered with fewer wrinkles.


they were not as strong.

Two months ago, I had every week day scheduled to the half-hour. I had my kids in “mommy school” between 9 and 3, and during those hours I had poetry class every morning, baked multiple things each day, took them on virtual trips to Machu Picchu and Stonehenge and zoos across America. We were in a good groove, getting along relatively well, and managing.

Things have changed.

So much has changed.

(To put this into context, Peter has been in a public relationship with THREE separate women who were contestants on his season of the Bachelor since this time!)

Though I still believe a lot of what I wrote,

(getting dressed every day, I find, is still super helpful for me, but that’s me!)

I am now so, supremely tired. Exhausted.


I am not someone on the front lines of this crisis. I am so lucky!

Two hands, two hands, my two hands are so full.

We all tell ourselves stories, and it is hard to differentiate between the fiction and the non-fiction.

The amount that I believe something has no actual correlation with the amount that it is true.

Did you get that?

Even when I believe something so wholly, and am convinced of its veracity, aside from the data supporting it, my conviction has no bearing on whether or not it is true.

Read: we tell ourselves stories, sometimes to prepare, other times to survive.

In many ways, the conflicting stories we hear can make our hands more tired than we could have ever imagined.

In one hand we hold, “Kids thrive with routine, so keeping a schedule can help your little ones feel like they have some control during such an uncertain time.”

(I said this myself in my previous post, and I both agree with it and shudder at it.)

At the very same time, the other hand holds, “Your child won’t remember what he learned in school during the

COVID-19 pandemic, but he will remember having family dinner every night, daily game-time, taking nature walks, and that his mommy gave him a sense of calm when all was chaotic in the world.”

Which hand do I use when guiding my children through their days?

I do not know.

My best answer?

A little bit of both. Allowing kids to have some control is important for them, but also realizing that this is an unprecedented time for which we have no guide, and so try to keep them stimulated in all of the ways that are important to you, and, when you can’t, just try to keep them feeling loved.

What’s that you say?

You’re seeing red because your children just made a mess of the room you just cleaned for the 117th time today, and they are refusing to go to their ZOOM meeting, and the dog is barking at you, and you spilled the last of your coffee, and you just accidentally saw a scary headline on the news about young people on ventilators, and you need more of your anxiety medication, but going to the pharmacy is scary, and your husband is complaining that he “is sooooo tired” during the 15 seconds that he emerges from his home office, to eat a handful of Lucky Charms straight from the box and it was supposed to be sunny, today, FINALLY, but it has just started to rain, and you have your least favorite song stuck in your head on repeat and your husband left his Lucky Charms crumbs all over the floor?

You, so desperately, want all of this to end?

I feel ya.


I am terrified to go back to normal* life.

*Obviously “normal” is relative, but, for the sake of this post, I am using shorthand.

That’s right. In one hand I hold all of this fear and doubt and exhaustion and anger AND in the other I hold a weird sense of peace.

I love it when we are all home. Kenny and I get along really well. I feel safest when we are all under the same roof. My kids need me, right now, and so I am so grateful that I can give myself to them, as much as I can. The idea of Kenny going back to work outside of the home is terrifying to me.

I love having lunch as a family.

I need a break and I don’t want to be apart.

I feel the need to stay informed AND I find breaks from the news to be salient for my sanity.

I am so glad to stay connected to family and loved ones AND I have an increasingly complicated relationship with social media.

I miss my friends AND I am exhausted at the idea of making virtual plans.

I hope my kids get to go to camp this summer AND I don’t.

I feel so accomplished when my kids have a good day of “academic learning,” nailing a math lesson or getting into reading or writing an evocative poem AND I think that being their teacher, in this context, is the worst.

I want to lean in AND I want to curl up in a fort and hide.

I am supremely grateful for all of the food I have in my freezer AND I get annoyed every single time I open it and the Stauffer’s Mac and Cheese falls out and lands on my toe AND I feel like an asshole AND I know that I can be grateful while not wanting a noodle-related-injury on top of everything else.

I could go on and on and on.

We have added so many things to our plates, during this time. We now know so much more than we did when the ball dropped on January 1 and the new decade began.

Priorities have shifted, needs have changed, hierarchies have been rearranged.

I now cook food so much more deliberately, and I now have to run the dishwasher every day, and I now know how to play UNO and Mario Kart, and I now use ZOOM as a noun and a verb, and I now know more about The Real Housewives of New York than I ever thought possible, and I now believe that there are times when getting a hotdog costume delivered feels essential, and I now remember that, when adding fractions, what you do to the numerator you have to also do to the denominator.

And, to do each of these things, I have to use two hands.

Sometimes synchronized, sometimes disparate.

Two hands, two hands, it is so confusing having two hands.


for my two hands,

I am so grateful.

My Top Five Tips For Parenting During This Scary Time

I was just straightening the pile of towels that the kids and I had folded this morning when it hit me: my kids folded towels, this morning. They are not folded in the perfect squares that make the control freak in me feel most comfortable, but nothing about our lives today, quite frankly, makes the control freak in me feel most comfortable.

I have so much to say about feelings and emotions, fears and facts, unity in a time of distance…BUT, I know better. I know that if you are a parent and taking a minute to read this then you probably only have just that. One minute. Maybe five.

Your life has been upended by COVID-19, and you are likely practicing some form of social distancing during massive school and community closures. It is new territory for us all and it is stressful AF.

For me, however, this will not be my first week home with my kids. Oh no, they were overachievers this month and we’ve been dealing with Scarlet Fever, and Flu B, and hypochondria, respectively. It could be sooooo much worse, and I am not complaining. I am just explaining. Having spent the better part of the last 3 weeks at home with 2 kids and 3 dogs and 0 other adults within 6 feet, I’ve learned a few things. Not all the things, but a few.

So, here are My Top Five Tips For Parenting During This Scary Time

1. Structure is your friend.

Routines, while they can seem daunting, will make your days at home much easier. I have two kids who are in very different life stages with vastly different needs. And yet, I have found that having a schedule, and some semblance of a normal structure around here, is helpful for us all. During a time when nearly everything in life seems like it is on its side or backwards or indecipherable, being able to nestle into the nook of reliability has allowed me to breathe. I might not know what tomorrow holds, but I DO know that at 10am we will be having “poetry time” in our living room and at 7pm we will be having “Story Time with Zeydie.” More on that, later.

What should be included in your daily plan is entirely up to you. It can be as simple as 9am eat breakfast 12 pm stand outside and spin around for 10 seconds and 8pm take a shower. It is something. And, to kids who are undoubtedly confused, if not frightened, it can be everything. 

(Note: there are TONS of amazing resources floating around that give us ideas of things to do with our kids, from educational activities to museum tours, recipes to story hours with celebs. I am not curating a master list here.

My friend Jordan, over at Ramshackle Glam, came up with an awesome list that she will be updating daily and I highly recommend checking it out.)

Here is what my day looked like today:

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.28.52 PM

2. That said, be flexible. 

Today, kids, we will be learning about the term “oxymoronic.”

I know, I know, I just went on about the importance of a routine, but the last thing you need right now is to put more pressure on yourself.

This morning, for instance, I found myself scrambling, and jittery, and getting that frantic energy that sometimes creeps up on me when I’m particularly overwhelmed. It was 8:30 and my kids needed to be fed, and I needed to set up a Zoom conference for Belle so that she could attend the “morning meeting” her INCREDIBLE teacher was hosting for her INCREDIBLE class, and I already forget the other things that were weighing on me, but, at the time, they felt oh so heavy. As I raced to grab some almond milk from the fridge, Kenny stopped me.

He gave me the look he always gives me when I know he is about to say something entirely reasonable, and held my eyes with his. “There is absolutely no rush. Slow down. There is literally no reason to feel rushed at all.”

I told myself to be a palm tree, and not an oak tree, which is wonderful advice I was given by a therapist, recently.

I swayed.

Belle made it to her meeting, the almond milk made it into the matcha, and our “Mommy School Day 1″ was better than I had expected. Did we follow the schedule exactly? NO! Was it wonderful to have a schedule? YES!

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.38.52 PM

(Above, my kids are doing an online live art class called “Draw Every Day” hosted at 2pm EST daily by Jarrett Krosoczka, author and illustrator and can be found at The peyote jar pictured may or may not contain actual peyote and I’ll never tell.)

In the earlier list photo you can see the things we crossed out and the little notes where we added things in (thanks, Belle!)

Which brings me to my next point, which is…

3. Chores are not always chores for kids!

You will see, in said photo above, that we had two different “Home Ec.” periods. We did not have yoga, because the laundry in the dryer needed to be folded in order for the new laundry I needed to do to be able to dry and so I changed our plans. Like a freakin’ palm tree.

Do you know what two children whose usual list of chores includes not much more than “make your bed and clear your plates after dinner” think about things like learning to load the dishwasher and learning to use the washer and dryer?


It might not last. It probably won’t. But, for today, it killed several birds with one detergent pod.

We even did a folding lesson while listening to some good music, and in that moment, I felt proud.

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.38.09 PM Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.38.21 PM

4. Get dressed. 

This is, once again, about personal preference, but is a HUGE tip I’ve learned in the last few weeks (and, also, as someone who always WFH). You don’t need to dress to impress. But, there is something about getting out of pjs and into pants with a zipper and a button that makes all of the structure and flexibility and chores seem a bit…I don’t know…better? Easier? More legit? Maybe it’s not that. Maybe that it just makes me feel better about myself, having dressed two kids and myself. When I walk by a mirror and catch a glimpse of myself, I can’t say I am obsessed with the reflection, but I definitely feel better than when I first roll out of bed, and I’ll take any positivity I can these days.

I am sure there are studies about a correlation between getting dressed and an increase in productivity, but, for me, it is as simple as, like I said, leaning in to the positive.

Side benefit: Use this time to experiment with some new looks! Try that winged eyeliner you’ve been contemplating! Do that half up half down bun that all the cool influencers do but that scares you but that you like but that terrifies you but that looks so cute on them but you don’t know how but you don’t have to because no one will see you! BE COZY!

5. Stay Connected. 

For the average human, I imagine this is a mildly stressful time. If not stressful, at least inconvenient.

I am not the average human, however, and have TONS of anxiety, and my particular breed of anxiety has specific components that all happen to intersect right around things like THE CORONAVIRUS.

Health, my kids, the health of my kids, being apart from the people I love…

I do not like this. It is stressful, I am not sleeping well, and it all feels so big.

I remain steadfast in my stance that this is not a time for block parties and playdates. I miss my friends and family members as much as you, but I also want to do my part to contain this virus and get back to some semblance of normality (November, I see you!). When people talk about flattening the curve, it is because that is really, really important. Maybe you are savoring this time with your family members all cuddled up at home with nowhere to be. Maybe it feels like torture. Maybe, most likely, it is somewhere in the middle, a combination of both, and in a gray area like everything else in life.

 And, once again, like everything else in life, you are not alone. This is hard and scary (I know I keep saying it, but humor me: I have been in my house for 20 days and am nervous) and so staying connected to people outside of your home is a good thing.

If you want distance from the people you know, you are in luck! You can watch live-streaming videos of people reading books, or listen to podcasts that feel soothing, or watch cooking shows, or catch up on The Bachelor, because if you haven’t seen Barb-Cam yet then you need to disregard tips 1-4 and run to your tv and tell your remote to “PLAY BACHELOR SEASON 24″ now.

If you want to stay close to your loved ones without actually being close, we are so lucky to live in a world where we can FaceTime and video-chat and even just talk on the phone as opposed to texting.

I mentioned my daughter’s teacher’s zoom conference earlier this morning and the date with my dad this evening. Because we are staying away from my parents, my dad decided to do the most special thing he did for my sister and me as kids: his amazing bedtime stories. He would read to Emily and me and do all of the voices and we looooooved this time. Because my kids are Roald Dahl stans, he started “James and the Giant Peach” with them last night. When the video synced up last night I burst out laughing to see my 59-year-old attorney father in a bowler hat, but he was embracing his role. He read the first chapter to them and, just like Emily and I did when we were their age, left them begging for more.

Screen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.38.33 PMScreen Shot 2020-03-16 at 3.38.43 PM

At the end of the day (IS THE DAY ALMOST OVER, YET?) no one knows what will be, but I do know that connecting with you, even in this small way, has made my day brighter. An apology: I am sure this post is littered with typos, but do I have time to comb through each line before posting? I do not. I have an online tour of the Cincinnati Zoo to host, and so I must leave you.

Remember, this too shall pass. It always has. It always does. It always will.

With mad love and hand soap

xx, B

Sometimes, the story just writes itself.


Belle asked, licking the last bit of chocolate icing from the back of her hand.

“Mommy? Do you still blog?”

We were sitting in the hard, plastic bucket seats in the single terminal at the Cyril E. King Airport in St. Thomas, and she’d just eaten an individual Sarah Lee chocolate cake square, after I veered her away from the cut up containers of honeydew (“You need to be careful with pre-cut fruit depending on how long it’s been sitting out without air conditioning!”) and a chef salad (“You don’t like that to begin with and, let me just give you a piece of advice: in this situation, eat the cooked food.”)

“You know what, love? To be honest, I don’t really blog so much, anymore.”

“Why not, mommy?”

She had a tiny smudge of chocolate icing on the right corner of her mouth. Belle is both indescribably beautiful and unfathomably messy; it is almost a rule, at this point, that she will have the longest eyelashes and fullest lips in any room, as well as a partial-ketchup-mustache on her top lip, almost all of the time.

I felt a pang. Not only because I feel a general sense of guilt about not continuing to share our lives as regularly as I once had, but really because of the next thing she said. Because of what it evoked in me.

I explained to her that I had to cut back on blogging because I got my second book deal with less than 6 months to turn in over 80,000 words (October to April), and then I had to stop blogging because of my concussion and subsequent “post concussion syndrome” (March 24- …), and that I’d love to start up again.

“I want you to blog again, mama, because I miss having you blog.”

I don’t know if she missed reading my posts, as I don’t really think she did read my posts, or if she missed having “blogger” as a title after my name when identifying myself.

“Go back through the blog,” I coaxed her, gently, my voice most certainly filled with wistfulness. “I have nine years of posts for you to read. I wrote almost every day for almost nine years. There are breaks here and there, but I have your whole childhood documented in an online baby book – or journal – and you should read it!”

Of course there are things that I do not want for her to read right now. And, when you’re a kid, it’s always the things you’re not supposed to read that are the most tantalizing.

I want her to read about her life as a baby, like when I overheard Kenny singing to her softly, as he combed her soft (albeit sparse) baby hair after an evening bath, and I could hear his kind words, blended with her soft coos, from the next room over. I want her to read about her daddy becoming a daddy.

I don’t want her to read about the things that have hurt me – and us.

It is similar to how each week when her People Magazine arrives and she dutifully hands me the issue so that I can comb through the edition to tear out any pages that could be inappropriate, upsetting, scary, sexual, triggering, or some combination of the above.

I want to curate a collection of posts for her so that she can read the happy story. She’s already lived through enough of the hard story.

That is how my website – and books – are arranged.




Speaking of this arrangement, not only do I have guilt about not blogging, which is low down on my list of things for which I feel guilty,

but I’ve always felt really, really bad that I’ve arranged this narrative so that Belle dominates the happy story, and Beau’s birth and my time postpartum is the story of the hard. Together, they make up – and have given me – my hopeful story. But, still. I don’t want him to think he’s my hard story. In truth, HE is not my hard thing. He never has been. He’s been the best thing. It’s the me I met when I had him that was hard.

Sitting in the airport, piercing a second slice of chocolate cake with my own plastic fork and taking a bite, I ran my tongue across my front teeth. “Let me see what I can do,”

I told her, just as a woman in a green and red elf hat grabbed her microphone and announced that it was time to board.


My conversation with Belle reminds me of a conversation I had with Kenny in recent weeks.

It went something like, “I feel bad because I NEVER blog anymore,” I admitted, during one of our evening chat sessions.

“So then blog!” He said, in a way that was meant to convey enthusiasm and support, and, if I’m being totally honest, because that’s what someone would naturally say without putting too much thought into such a reply.

It would be like my saying, “I REALLY want to go to Italy!”

And then Kenny replying, “You should go to Italy!” Without actually factoring in the kids and their schedules, our inability to take time off, or the cost.

So, it’s like, I can’t go to Italy. Clearly. But when you say you want to go to Italy to someone, they might tell you to go to Italy.

When you tell someone you miss blogging, they might tell you to blog.

Because, like Italy, blogging has its own cost.

“Ken, I can’t. I blog about what I know. I blog about our lives, and my life, and the kids, honestly. I write about the hard things. And I can’t do that right now.”

He understood.

Freshly cooked up pasta and blog posts would have to wait.

You see, I feel disingenuous writing a post in which I talk about some of the things that are going on in our lives – the good things, like Belle’s amazing fourth grade teacher and happiness at her new school, and my new book coming out next month, our new puppy, Georgia (Georgie)- or the superficial things, like the four books I read this week and the many tv shows I’ve binged this month, and the new nail polish colors I’ve tried and loved – or the normal hard things I’ve talked about on here, like living with mental health struggles, my weight restoration journey, Lola’s Lymphoma.

But, to me, it wouldn’t be real. Yes, those things are all real, but they aren’t what are carrying the day for us as of late. There are bigger things, and different things, and they’re harder than I could have imagined. And these are the things that I will not – at this point – be sharing openly here.

And because it’s these other things that are the things that seem to wrap themselves around us these days, the tentacles of pain that have woven their way through all of our cracks, even creating some new cracks of their own, that often feel as though they are eroding our very foundation.

I don’t mean to be hyperbolic.

Also, I’m not being hyperbolic.

Sometimes, when putting up a post on Instagram, even though I really, really try to “keep it real” I make sure to snap a half dozen photos, make sure move the discarded pair of socks out of the frame, and then filter the photo so it’s the most flattering. I often do this, though, while holding up a bottle of pediatric allergy medicine at 2am after my kid has fought me for 90 minutes about taking it, only to beg for more after the first sip. That, to me, is what this blog is like. It’s honest, and true, and shows the messiness or life, but it also shows it in the way I want to represent it. I don’t snap a photo of that scene DURING the 90 minute meltdown. That’s too much. Too much in every way. If said picture comes out with me looking like a creature from the black lagoon, I also might elect to not share it. Look, I have my insecurities, and I try my best.

I wouldn’t, however, pose my kids in pairs of slippery but ADORBS shoes (#ad!) on top of a dangerous, rocky ledge, with water licking at the rocks below them, as crocodiles crawl slowly towards them, looking for their next meal, just to get “the shot” for “the gram.”

I don’t put them in danger or post scenes that are blatantly fake.

(As an aside, yesterday, while sitting on the beach, the couple next to me had their umbrella FLY out of the ground beside them and across the sand, impaling a nearby tree. We called for help, but before the teen boy who ran to assist could pull the large umbrella out of the larger tree, the husband part of the couple stopped us, took out his phone to snap a photo. His wife looked at him incredulously.

“What? I want to post this and say, “Look what happened while I was relaxing on the beach today.”

It is fair to say that I personally don’t want to post photos of my kids on ledges with crocodiles, even if the light is just right. Even if it will get me more followers. That kind of content does not a content Becca make.

Look, it isn’t the best analogy, but, hey, I’m still shaking off the dust…


…is what I had just finished writing when an unexpected moment of turbulence rattled me.

Sometimes, the story just writes itself.

You see, I wrote the above during my second hour of a four hour flight, and stopped when it got a bit bumpy.

I don’t love to fly. In actuality, I have a pretty significant case of aerophobia, and one that has kept me grounded for a lot of my adult life. It has held me back. But, what I prefer even less than flying is giving my kids anxiety, and so I have hidden this fear from them, and when we do fly, Kenny and I have an agreement that I get to turn off and not have to parent for the several hours during which time we are at cruising altitude. I particularly do not like turbulence.

Getting through this flight was an accomplishment for me, and when we landed, I exhaled. I had done it.

As soon as we touched down, the pilot made an announcement that we would be stuck on the runway while another plane vacated our spot. Look, for someone with a huge fear of flying, anything that involves logistics is nothing more than a hassle, BUT I had my three doggies at home, and after 12 days away from them I was rushing to get back to them, and this delay made me anxious.

After being stuck at our gate for 40 minutes, the lights turned on, miraculously – a Hanukkah miracle!!! – and the plane made that “ding ding” sound that it makes when it’s time to disembark.

And then …

I don’t know exactly what happened next, but Belle, who had been complaining of a stomach ache, got sick.

And by sick, I don’t mean she discretely coughed into a tiny air sick bag. She vomited. My delicate flower vomited everywhere. All over herself. All over me. Partially on Beau. As the ENTIRE plane was trying to get off.

So, here I am (there I was), in the photo above, wearing Beau’s shirt, my white espadrilles that’s read “Sun’s Out Buns Out” also covered in puke. None of us smelled good. None of us looked good. None of us felt good.

And in the airport bathroom (the one in the baggage claim section … not the cute one), and guess what I’m decided to do? I took that darn picture.

Like I said, sometimes, the story just writes itself.

Dear Kenny

Dear Kenny,

As I leave the hospital,

the place where both of our babies were born,

and handed to us,

and first fed by me,

and diapered by you,

I hit a sea of blue scrubs, all in different shades and tones.

When I first pulled up this morning, for an early test, I thought that it would be like living out a Grey’s Anatomy fantasy. I was here so early that I even got the mommy spot, right next to the elevator. I was here before most of the doctors and staff members, before there was a line at the always-crowded-coffee-cart, before some of the elevators had even taken their first trip of the day.

But, now, as I leave, it seems to be right at start time for most of the docs and nurses and other professionals. I walked through a deluge of navy scrubs (do you think this is the signature color of “attendings” like in Grey’s?). There were light blue scrubs, and darker light blue scrubs, and aqua scrubs, and teal scrubs, and a lot of stethoscopes, and a few white coats.

I have been spending so much time here lately, seeing different specialists and having different tests, usually with you by my side, so it’s lost some of its power for me. Every time I come here of course I see the pregnant women and the expectant families, but it feels less viscerally painful now. Now, I feel like I have some control in the matter.


Except, this morning, as I left my test, and headed towards the elevators on the second floor, I walked up to an already open elevator, filled with handful of men who I imagine to be season doctors, all in white coats and with gray in their hair.

One of the doctors leaned forward a bit to see who I was and, before I could ask them if they were going up or down, thought I already kind of knew the answer, I saw that it was the doctor took away our ability to have another baby.

Ok. I’ll pause. That was just extremely mellow dramatic as we all know that he did not take away our ability to have another baby anymore than anyone else who was involved in this process did except for the fact that he is the one who literally gave you the vasectomy that started the end of some of our journeys and the beginning of others. A move that caused us both tremendous pain over the years. You can argue that his caused you more pain and I won’t even try to fight with you on that one.

It’s not a zero-sum game nor is it a fight that I’d ever want to win.

But, while much of your pain was remedied with bags of frozen peas and video games, mine has been, too often,  inescapable.

You know better than anyone that the new book (for which you wrote!!!) is the story of our murky quest to expand our family after postpartum depression and also ways in which all families can expand. Just like with the first book, I have an amazing indexer, Ronnie, and she has provided me with the most thorough indexes imaginable. I thought she had outdone herself with the first book by indexing the word “pineapple” which always struck me as particularly funny. This time however she took us to a whole new stratosphere.

While there are many hilarious and random entries in the index for baby ever after, none compares to

“hasty vasectomy.”

You often tease me and say that I tell everyone we meet, everywhere we go, that you have had a vasectomy and though that is a slight exaggeration I see what you’re saying. It was only recently that I explained to you that it is a matter of self protection for me. As a 34-year-old woman I am constantly faced with questions and answers and when I say that I think I’m done having children and people respond with a coy eyebrow raise and a “Well, you never know…”

it’s my way of telling them that yes, yes I do know and no, if we do have another baby it will not be by happy accident. This morning when I saw the doctor who (which, I must tell you, the computer autocorrected to say Doctor Who, and I know you will appreciate this) gave you the old snip snip I didn’t have my armor on. I didn’t expect to be hit with the memory of that awful January morning, when I was still in the throes of my severe postpartum depression, in the emergency room bleeding uncontrollably, thinking that they were going to have to perform a hysterectomy on me, as you had to leave me for your 2 PM vasectomy appointment upstairs. The truth, as they say, can be stranger than fiction. I did not lose my ability to bear children that day

but we all know how it went for you.

We made that (hasty vasectomy!) choice using the information we had, and, at that point, with me so raw and suffering so deeply and causing suffering among all of the people who loved me, I know that you were trying to take matters into your hands in the only way you knew how. By having a (hastyyyyy) vasectomy, you were not going to let this happen to me — to us — again. We did not think to ask the doctor to bank sperm for us, just in case. We did not know to wait a few more months until things had calmed down.

I was 28, you were 31, and we were lost in the abyss that is postpartum depression.

So, I saw your doctor this morning and my heart stopped a little bit but I kept going and I passed more physicians stopping to say hello to the ones I knew, I passed the coffee cart as it became more and more crowded and I peeped the good soft pretzels but decided it was too long of a wait, and I did not text you even though I wanted to because I thought if I did, I might cry. I walked back out to my mommy spot and though I feel like a mommy more than ever, it can still sting. Or ache.

Of course on my way out I saw a woman in a black maternity T-shirt. Her horizontal stripes accentuating her cute baby belly and I felt nothing but happiness for her. It just felt really, really weird.

Today you and I are stronger than ever before and I love you more than ever before and you know that I am obsessed with you and barely know how to go in our without speaking with you and still I acknowledge that we have lost a lot together — things both tangible and intangible — I won’t share too much here or I will potentially spoil too much of our story, and that would be bad author etiquette for me but I just want to say that I love you, I’m sorry for everything, even though I know you will tell me not to be and that nothing is my fault. I’m sorry and I apologize and I’m sorry and that I am regretful.

But, one thing you don’t know is that this morning, before you woke up, and before the sun had risen in the sky, I was thinking about how when you turn 40 Belle will turn 12. I thought about what it would be like for us if we had another baby when you are 40 with our children 12 and eight years apart and what it would be like to have our child graduate from high school with you being the same age that my parents are now as I am 34 years old. And didn’t scare me but it also didn’t seduce me. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it can hurt and, at the same time, I feel more certain than ever that we will figure it out.

I’ve been dictating this message and I’m now close to home slightly regretting my decision to not stop for that soft pretzel, but I know that I will walk in the doors and Lola will run to me, and Crosby he will jump on me, and I am optimistic that the kids will smooch me, but I know that you will kiss me, with one of your new and improved hello kisses, and I will feel OK again, because that’s who you are to me,

I’s what you’ve always been to me and who you’ve become to me.

It’s how you look to me.


Dear babies

Dear babies,

First off, I know that you are not babies. 

But, I also know that when I feel one of you reach for me in the middle of the night,

or smile as you greet me with sleepy, almond-eyes first thing in the morning,

or kiss your eyelids as you slumber,

it’s just like you are my little babies all over again.

It has been a long time since I have written a post, babies, but I realized that if I dictate a post and then put it into this little window here it allows me to share things with you without having to violate my “screen break” rules.

When I wrote about how hard it is to be a parent, we were only just embarking upon this new chapter in our lives.

I thought being a parent was hard THEN! It has gotten harder.

As always, it has also gotten more magical; remember, that is why we all have two hands.

We had an emotional summer, with storms that shook our house, both literally and figuratively.

But, I am not writing to you to dwell on the hard stuff. We know the hard stuff.

I am writing to you to memorialize the special stuff.

When I started writing this blog, a whole nine years and three months ago, it was my way of chronicling life in real time. I did not want to forget any moments. Thousands of posts later, I still want to keep this online baby book, for my babies who are not really babies at all.

But, like I said,

and in the words of Mariah,

you’ll always be my baby (babies).

It is a cloudy, September afternoon. Beau, you are downstairs with daddy, eating “Taylor ham, made from bacon pigs, not pig pigs, hot, but on a cold plate, extra floppy.”

You crack me up, kiddo. You just said to daddy, “You know, if you want, you can make me some Taylor Ham. And, you know, if you want, you can give me a bowl of Rice Chex and an icy cold glass of milk. And, you know, if you want, you can give me the Rice Chex while the Taylor Ham is cooking.”

I never want to forget your mastery of language, and the quirky-adorable-hilarious-brilliant way you say things.

(Recently, you got so mad at your sister for tricking you into smelling a yucky essential oil.

“It’s on my hands!” you shouted to me.

“It is on my hands, but it is hovering over my hands and up to my nostrils! This is horrifying!

I smell like an ANTIQUE SHOP!“)

Belle, you are in your room, and I just brought you a mug of hot cocoa with whipped cream and an inappropriate slogan. Some people would judge me for giving you something like this (both the cocoa and the inappropriate mug), but you guys know that even though I sometimes say “bad words,” I never say the worst word: hate. As long as you abide by that, I am cool with you knowing a lot of words. And having hot cocoa as an appetizer.

You continue to amaze me, sweet girl. This morning, you asked us if you could make us breakfast, and brought daddy a green smoothie in bed. You have such a big heart.


I just got home from physical therapy, and I had an experience there that made me think of you.

I did not want to forget.

I was having my bad back pain, and some nerve pain was shooting down my arm (this happens a lot lately – something that I am less eager to remember, but still) so my physical therapist decided to try a new position on me.

She sat me on a raised mat, and pulled her stool right up to me so that she was facing me, just inches away. She pressed into my belly, next to my rib, with her hand, and told me to lean into her hand as I bent forward. This made my arm hurt and my hand get tingly, so she told me to place that arm over her shoulder as I leaned in, like a half hug.

As I sat there, leaning into my physical therapist, I was immediately brought back to the operating room at Lankenau Hospital, at that very same time in the afternoon, on a Thursday, almost six years ago.

I was getting ready to receive my epidural -

which means I was actually getting ready to meet you, Beau -

and I was scared.

That is the truth. I was really, really scared.

Anna, the medical student assigned to my surgery, told me to lean forward and drape my arms over her shoulders. She instructed me to lean into her, and to hug her, and she held me, gently, as the anesthesiologist put the medicine into my back.


Even though this summer was a doozy, there are some really special moments I want to remember.

Beau, I cherish the time we spent “chit chatting” on the unicorn float. The hours we spent there, being cozy in the sunshine on the black and white striped towels, talking about horror movies, and Pokemon cards, and life, were some of the most lovely moments I have ever had. I loved finding Lemon the white frog with you, and teaching you to play baseball in the garage, and watching you do flips and handstands in the water. I loved playing charades with you, especially as you’ve become an expert on Titanic, The Bachelorette, and the characters from Donkey Kong.

Bellie, I loved our s’mores dates on the front patio. I am so proud of you for so many reasons, including your love of absolutely charred marshmallows, burnt into oblivion. I had the best time playing basketball with you (you and Zeyds against daddy, Bubs, and me), and hearing you sing “Arabian Nights” in your play, and sitting on the porch swing with you as you helped to edit the picture book. I loved watching “Now and Then” and “The Sandlot” with you for the first time, and I agree that you’re totally a Sam, with maybe just a little Teeny mixed in.

My favorite memory of all, though, I think, is from the last night of summer at Fox Hollow, when the four of us played “Truth or Dare” in the hot tub. I bet you didn’t expect me to actually jump in when you dared me to sing, “Shallow” on the ledge of the deep end! I loved listening to music, and watching the lights change colors, and watching you make each other laugh in the way that only you two can.

My dear babies I love you more than I know how to convey. My brain is still healing, and so this is not my most eloquent piece of writing, but it captures a few moments like grainy polaroid pictures; they aren’t the highest quality, but they are often the most raw and real. I will keep working really hard to get my brain back to normal so that I can write polaroid posts by choice, rather than by necessity.

Beau, I think you’ve just finished your exquisite dinner (extra floppy pork roll FTW!) and Belle, I am going to snuggle up with you, Tina Turner, Twinkle Ra Ra Rainbow Ta Ta, and Pinkberry, because you told me that you’re still not feeling so hot. And I will kiss you, because I do not care if I get your cooties.

They are my favorite cooties.

You are my favorite things in this world.

Dear babies,

as they say, life can be tough, but so are you. So are we.

And, when you read this, I guarantee I will love you so so so so so much more than I do right now.

Because I love you more with each breath.

Love XOXO,



originally published on this here site, over four years ago, and I still feel the very same way!
Photo circa April, 2014 — Beau’s former signature move. Today, he is still just as crafty, he is just a lot taller. 
Or, as I like to call it, “Why everyone who wants to be a parent someday should babysit (and not for the reasons that you think”).
I know what is going through your head. You think that I am going to advise you to do a lot of babysitting before becoming a parent so that you can see what it is like to be responsible for taking care of kids. How children can lead to levels of exhaustion and fear that would impossible to describe without having experienced it firsthand.
That is not what I am thinking at all.
I was just carrying my 28lb toddler while trying to simultaneously hold my kale smoothie (which he was drinking from my straw) and a covered cup of hot cocoa (The smoothie makes me cold! Hot beverages are dangerous around babies!) and I was thinking about how today my “work day” will be 10 hours long. Today, during my shift, I will be a cook, a cleaning person, a mediator, a clown, a nurse, an IT specialist, a detective, a photographer, a chauffeur, a dishwasher, an actor and a human jungle gym. I will not be getting paid.
I managed to get the smoothie, cocoa and kid safely up the stairs and my thoughts continued to swirl as I snatched tiny socks up off of the floor, straightened a mini bookshelf and changed a diaper. As I continued to do task after task, all while trying to keep my son, toothbrush and glasses out of the toilet and the toilet paper out of my son’s mouth, I had the same refrain echoing through my head:
“I used to get paid for this.”
And so, here is why I am now determined to spread the word to all of you: If you have yet to have children and plan to (either imminently or in the future) then take my word for this. Babysit. Babysit now. Do it as much as you can. It is an amazing job. This is why:
1. You get paid to play
Even if you have the best, most high-power job–you know, like one where you go to meetings and write emails (as I have said, I do not totally understand a person’s job unless you can dress up as that person for Halloween)–I am sure that you can find a few minutes out of your week to play with some kids. You can give piggyback rides and play hide-and-seek and, at the end of your playtime, someone is going to hand money to you.
2. The Snacks
If you are babysitting, that means that you get to spend time in someone else’s home, which means that you get to raid someone else’s pantry. And, in all likelihood, a person with kids has good snacks. Of course you don’t buy Birthday Cake flavored Goldfish at home. You still shop at Whole Foods. But while babysitting you get to have snack time and enjoy double-stuffed Oreos, Pop Tarts and those little bags of gummy fruit (those are just examples of what is in my cabinet currently, but the possibilities are endless). And then there are meals. If you are babysitting during breakfast hours, imagine your cereal options. And what lunch is better than a PBJ with a juice box?
3. You a hero
As a babysitter, you do all of the things that parents simply do not have the time or energy to do. You do art projects. You make up creative games. You can take all of the receipts that you’ve been meaning to throw out of your purse and roll them into balls and throw them. That is a solid half-hour of entertainment, and you get to simultaneously “work” while knowing that someone else will be cleaning up your (literal) paper trail. You take kids to the park. You can pretend to be the bad guy. You let the kids use the bathtub as a pool. Because, why not? It’s fun.
And it’s only for 20 minutes.
4. Cash
Babysitting is especially lucrative because you get paid in cash. And not only do you get paid in cash, but you have an hourly rate, which means that if you are watching children for 3 hours and 15 minutes you will inevitably get paid for that entire extra hour. No one wants to piss off the babysitter.
5. You get to go home at the end of the day/night
As a babysitter, you are there for the honeymoon period. You aren’t responsible for cleaning up the giant mess that you and the kids have made because “you were having so much fun!” and so you just “ran out of time playing!”. You don’t have to be the main disciplinarian, as special rules apply when you are over (“Yes you can stay up an hour late, but just for tonight”). You may have to deal with some of the yucky realities of the different things that can come out of children’s bodies, but only for a bit. You can handle one nasty diaper. You can handle it because you can go home and pour yourself a drink and put your feet up, because what’s one diaper when you have Bravo to watch.
So, if you are someone who does not have children, I suggest that you babysit, as it is the second best job in the world. You get to receive wet kisses and warm snuggles and you are responsible for helping to shape a human being. You build bonds and you have inside jokes and you can eat yogurt from a tube. Babysit. Babysit whenever you can. Because someday, perhaps, you will have to do everything, and more, and you will be doing it without pay.
It really is only the second best job. I haven’t had all of the jobs (see above; I cannot be a consultant because what the hell does a consultant wear? A French Maid, however, I could be!) but I have worked professionally as a teacher and writer and I have performed as an actor and singer, but nothing in the world compares to the moment when you, as a parent, walk through the door, after your child has been with his babysitter, and your wild maniac of a toddler comes barreling towards you, chanting, “Mama! Mama!”
Yes, being a parent is the hardest job in the world. I see you brain surgeon shaking your head (by the way, I know how to dress up as you, so ha!). You are responsible for saving lives. Well, so am I. And not only am I responsible for making sure that my kids are safe, but also happy, secure and confident. I have to instill values and carry more weight than I ever could have imagined, both literally and figuratively.
I hope I have made myself clear and that you think of me when you are dunking your cookies in milk while playing Candyland and getting a big hug from little arms FOR PAY.
But, for now, I have must run; My son’s face is covered in a mixture of Oreos and snot.
Is this part of motherhood fun? No. But is it worth it? Yes. Without a doubt.