Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What The Heck I'm Just Going To Post My Haiku

Telling you about
the peace of five seven five
found in lines of three
I have grown and blossomed into my true self since beginning blogging.

I no longer hide who I am in hopes of not offending, being rejected, judged.

Ack, who knows, maybe it's not blogging to thank, but age.

Whatever the route that's led me to myself, I'm here to tell you that I like haiku.

And my kids love haiku because as soon as they could clap out syllables and count to seven, I taught them the fun of laying them out in lines of three. We wait our turn in check out lines or in dentist's waiting rooms, and we haiku our time away.

Haiku 101: so you get what floats my boat: 5-7-5 syllable count on three separate lines.

Like this:

So you want to know
The secret to finding sleep
Go to bed when tired

I fully realize no one may be reading this post at all, and you know what? Writing haiku is so much fun that's okay!

There will come the time
When my house will be so clean
I'll take the kids, thanks

Have I whet your appetite?

Knocking at the door
Me in pj's and slippers
Can you please leave now?

I've been thinking in haiku (shuttup, it can be a language) ever since my third grade teacher, Mrs. Sproul, mapped some examples out on the green blackboard for our class. Smitten, entranced, I couldn't wait to run home and pull my notebook out from under my bed and do some more.

I tried to teach it to my Spanish grandmother and it went over like a lead balloon. Yeah. She'll take the Romeo and Julietness of Pablo Neruda any day.

"Loving is so short, but the forgetting is so long."

She's right, if it's the physical ache that words can bring you seek, then maybe, no, haiku won't cut it.

I like my thoughts like me: simple and easily amused. Pain free. Like haiku.

Thank you so much for reading here today. Stay tuned for more adventures in growth and maturation when next week Ima tell you about my unabashed love for bluegrass music.

So, go on, dig out the Pure Prairie League cassettes and meet me back here.


If you dig haiku like I do, two must follows on FB and twitter are @suburbanhaiku and @haikuvents.

* * *

Sunday, April 28, 2013

This Made Me Laugh, And It's Good To Do That

Popping in quickly to thank everyone for their kindness, as always; the people I've met online never cease to amaze me with how they find the time to send a quick FB message, a tweet, an email, to check on me. Thank you.

This is a busy season in my life, caring for an ailing mother -- duties split between two other siblings, all three of us make up a 24 hour team.

We have moved her out of her apartment, an activity that is like walking through the pages of a book. Everything has to combed through, she has trinkets wrapped in tissues, stuck behind in the back of dresser drawers. There are coins from other countries rolled up into the toes of socks that are part of fifty other socks.

It is like sifting through silt for gold, when you want to rush the job, but you know you can't -- and you know why you can't.

Anyway, that's life for us, at this time.

And this makes the precious moments of laughter so appreciated.

For me this week, it was this: *my boys and I watched 100 times and then 100 more. The lizard. Watch the lizard.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

This is 11

It strikes me so funny that you've turned 11, my dear youngest child, because 11:11 has always been your magic time.

When this grip of 11:11 got a hold on you, I can't remember. But it seems like for always you'd look up at the digital clock, wait for it to flip to 11:11, and then BAM, you'd say "11:11! Mama, time to do something magic!" And somehow, you always would -- just by looking at me with that smile, you would make my heart melt. Magic.

I remember a morning in summer, driving home from the pool, nothing on but our wet swimsuits and you saw the blue numbers on the car's dashboard blink to 11:11. "Mama! It's 11:11! Do something different!"

And so I would. I'd honk the horn, I'd steer with my knees while I clapped, I'd do anything for you to work your magic on me. I'd put my hat on backwards and pretend to drool and you'd laugh that laugh that would make my eyes sting with happy tears. Yes. 11:11. Magic.

You're 11 now.

That magic number 11.

11 is you still holding my hand.
11 is still able to fit together in a movie theatre seat with you.
11 is you, who still calls me mama. 

And 11 is the time of magic unseen, but I can feel.

Just like you telling me, "Mama! It's 11:11! Do something different!"

And so you do.

11 is you asking me to pack away the bedspread of dragons that you picked out for your room not so many years ago.
11 is you choosing to go with your oldest brother on rides now, instead of automatically reaching for my hand.
11 is me surprising you with a visit at school lunch time, and you thanking me for coming, then asking if it's all right if you go play with your friends, though.

Of course it's all right that you play with your friends. And that we picked out a solid orange new bedspread for your room. It's also actually good that you want to do things with your big brother now, really. He leaves for school in only a year's time.

You're 11 now. That magic number of 11. And you work that magic every time you sneak downstairs after you've gone to bed, and see me sitting here in the computer's white light. You stand behind me, your arms encircling my neck as you bend over to kiss me, and I feel your hot breath against my ear. I close my eyes and hear you whisper, "Mama, it's 11:11! Do something magic!"

Oh, I wish I could, son, but you've already beat me to it.

**I love you, Auggie. Happy Birthday, my beautiful boy.

* * *

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Happened To The Meat??

I am relieved I figured it out. I was getting scared it was me.

I thought I had it for sure.

I would get in the car and look at the dashboard to see a big E for empty, and ask myself, But ... didn't I just fill the tank?

When I would open the pots and pans drawer in the kitchen, there would be my set of white measuring cups. They belonged with baking items. But what's worse, the cups were not just in there, but DUMPED in there, scattered as if someone snuck into my house and stuck a gun in my back while I was in the middle of putting away the dishes. Either that or I had lost consciousness mid-chore.

Hunting around for juice glasses suddenly became a daily part of my life. Are they here? Did I leave them in the bathroom? I always put them by the larger tumblers, but where are they now? And why aren't they where I put them in with the other glasses?

I am losing my mind.

I open kitchen cabinets and say to my kids, begging for an explanation, "I put the can opener in with the pot holders? Why?"

And then I remember whose turn it was that day to put away the dishes.

Whose turn it was to fill the gas tank.

Who shoves things in drawers then slams it boom shut quick.

My teens.

When my teens empty the dishwasher, it's like watching the loudest silent "I don't give a s**t" in action. They stash things away in places that later make me feel like I'm living with early onset dementia. My kids frighten me, they make me worry about myself. Is it me doing things that bring me to question my faculties?

Like tonight, when I made meatloaf. My kids love my meatloaf, that's why I make it. Let me give you this freebie since you're already reading this anyway -- I use apricot jam. That's the secret to meatloaf loving kids. Jam magically holds the ground meat together and gives the baked loaf a sweet irresistible aftertaste. You're welcome.

I make this often-requested dinner entrée in double batches. It takes its sweet time (sorry can't help myself) early in the afternoon because I know the kids will walk in the back door crazy starved with hunger after their two hour swim practice. At 3:00 pm I pop the meatloaf in for an hour. I set the timer, run and get my one non-teenager to bring home from school, then pull out the meatloaf at 4:00 pm and set it atop the stove to let the apricot jam juices circulate and render the meat juicy and sweet. By 5:00, it has settled in and re-absorbed the jam and when the teens bring down the back door and they smell heaven in the oven, there is no future life partner for them that can compete. It will be TeamMama forever.

The only thing left to do is let the barbeque sauce simmer on the stove while I start some laundry and keep one ear open for them. But when I walk back into the kitchen to check on the special sauce, there is no meatloaf cooling on top of the stove.

And my alarm begins again. The inner dialogue of confused self questioning, Didn't I just make a double batch of meatloaf? I know I made a double batch of meatloaf. I could have sworn I did the recipe x two.

What happened to the meatloaf???

What happened, is this: My boys had come home earlier than expected and swooped in and ravaged the meat they saw on the stove. I was sorting and folding sorting and folding, the washer and dryer noisily running in the background, and both kids grabbed tablespoons and said Don't Mind if I Do and had at it with the browned and glazed brick slab of goodness.

Never mind the butter and garlic smothered potatoes, mom.
Forget the crisp green salad with cherry tomatoes from today's market.
Just a fistful of meat is all we need.

And with that, the meat was gone. Since I had made their ears bleed with years of DISHES IN THE SINK, that's where they had put their "dishes" aka the two loaf pans. Meat? Maybe once upon a time, but to my eyes, I saw no trace of what I had just spent two hours preparing. At least, I think I did.

Have I lost my mind? Do I have to make an appointment with my mother's neurologist? Didn't I make meat for tonight?

Where is the meat???

Before you begin your own down on your hands and knees APB alert for missing items and misplaced coffee mugs - and meatloaf - ask yourself: Are there teenagers in your house?

I hope, for your sake, the answer to all your mystically placed and combobulated items, is a much relief filled sigh of *yes.*

And if you need me to commiserate, I'll be here. Down on the kitchen floor, where I came to get cutting boards and instead found forks and spoons jammed in between and wondering what in Sam Hill would make me cram silverware where the cutting boards go.

I swear I put them in the silverware drawer where they belong. Didn't I? 

* * *

Saturday, April 20, 2013

First Annual Listen To Your Mother Milwaukee Show


Join us for live readings by local writers as we celebrate the beauty and the beast of motherhood.  In celebration of Mother's Day, fourteen women and one young man will read their personal stories about the humor, the hope and the heartbreak of motherhood.

A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit Sojourner Family Peace Center (http://www.familypeacecenter.org/), an organization dedicated to providing education, advocacy, and resources to keep people safe.  Sojourner Family Peace Center is committed to creating communities where people live peacefully.

LTYM Milwaukee will be at the Wehr Hall on the Alverno College campus.

Produced and directed by Alexandra Rosas and Jen Gaskell, the cast includes:

Lindsay Atkinson

Liysa Callsen

Rebecca Christman

Julie Davidson

Rochelle Fritsch

Kathryn Gahl

Jen Gaskell

Lisa Gooseberry

Nikki Janzen

Bonnie Johnson

Amie Kapusta

Tara Pohlkotte

Rachel Schickowski

Alec Schultze

Pamela Stein

**Only cash sales will be taken the day of the show.**

***We are honored to announce that this show will be ASL interpreted thanks to the generosity of two sponsors who are donating their time and talent.*** 

CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Son, Now That You're 18, There Are Things You Should Know

Dear beautiful firstborn child,

Happy birthday!

Today you turn 18. As the dedicated parents we are, we know that to serve you well, there are some things that we need to tell you. The most important being that your father and I truly adore you. You make us beam with pride and we are beyond fortunate to be your parents.

When you walk into a room, it's hard for me to not stand up shouting "It's him!" and start clapping -- so I've quit trying to stop myself. Your father's punch to your arm is his way of saying he loves his world because you're in it.

And today you turn 18.

As of 1:39 pm today, I will be living with two men.

You'll be leaving for college much too soon and I'm going to stick my head in the sand about that for awhile longer, but in the meantime, your father and I would be doing you a great injustice if we did not tell you the things you need to know now that you're an adult.

Please keep this information from your younger brothers awhile longer, won't you? Here we go:

The Truth You Need To Know Now That You're 18:

  • When we ask you "Were you born in a barn?," we really don't care what you answer. We only care that you close the doors because the cold air gets in and we pay for heat. That's all. I'm not even really sure about the paying for heat part, but your dad says it because his dad said it. One day, you'll say it too.
  • No one has a money tree. I know we ask you to "look outside, you see a money tree out there?" like some people have them and some people don't. We are sorry if we ever made you hope that maybe someday we'd be a family that had one.
  • I know we've told you "the trouble with trouble is that it starts out as fun." Not true. When you get to college you'll realize much too soon, trouble usually starts out as trouble right off the bat.
  • You really won't fry your eyes out and need new eyeballs put in if you sit too close to the TV. It may affect your vision if you spend megahours doing it and you're superyoung. But for the most part, you don't need to go out and buy that eyeball surgery insurance.
  • Wet socks will give you Vietnam rot. Lord help me I don't know why we'd say that to you when you'd walk in soaking wet after a soccer game. Seriously. All we had to do was say "take off your wet socks." And also, as if you wouldn't??
  • Getting a cavity hurts worse than I can ever tell you. Well, it hurts a little. We just wanted you to brush your teeth. Sure, if you let it go long enough it will, but you guys just keep brushing and flossing twice a day and seeing the dentist every six months and you're good to go. 
  • Monkey see. Monkey do. Have you ever seen this at a zoo? No. Not too much imitating. Mostly just ignoring us and random screeching once in awhile. We'd say that when we didn't want you to be a sheep following the pack. Just be yourself, never mind the monkeys.
  • Don't read on your back with your book held up in front of you. I don't why the hell not. Ignore this from the past 18 years. 
  • If you ever decide to smoke a cigarette be sure to have a cellphone in one hand ready to dial 911 and a cigarette in the other because you'll hear your lungs crackle as they burn up. YES. I KNOW WE SAID THIS. Please try to forget the visual we've scarred you with for life and just know this: cigarettes are bad for your health, not overnight, but cumulatively. And you can spend your money on organic broccoli and pesto instead. Better choices, see? 
  • And how many times have you heard this one? You are the most wonderful beautiful smartest boy in the world. Well, maybe not to other parents, but to us, YOU ARE. 

Happy birthday, wonderful child, we are proud to say that you are our son (this one? so true).

* * * 
Want to read more on teen parenting? 
--You can catch me here this week on mommy. com  talking about Society and Raising Boys.
--And here on Care. com where they interview me and ask about our house rules for teens and cell phones.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When Your Heart Tells You To Stop

My youngest woke up hungry and asked for a chicken sandwich for breakfast this morning, so I preheated the oven because he likes his patties 20 minute oven crunchy and not 3 minute microwave soggy. While I took care of his breakfast, he dressed and washed up, packing his books for school. It wasn't until 7 minutes before we had to leave when he sat down to eat that I realized I had forgotten to put his sandwich in the oven.

The cashier at the QuikMart who rang me up today had to call out after me, "You forgot your salad!" At the end of the conveyor belt, I had left the only thing I had gone in for, a fast lunch -- distracted by the Wall Street Journal's front page and the picture there, of Boston yesterday.

This morning I had an appointment for our minivan that needed new brakepads, not an inexpensive way to spend an hour and a half. The service tech popped his head into the waiting room to tell me my car was ready and I could check out anytime. Thanking him quickly, I looked up briefly from the television and its scenes from Boston, then got up and walked through their garage, getting in my car. I barely drove out of their lot when I realized I had never paid for the work.

It was on twitter yesterday afternoon that I heard of the bombings in Boston. Clicking over to Facebook for news snippets, I saw that it was real. And worse than the tweet had shouted. Leaving to pick up my children from school and then drive them to all they needed to do, we came home and I slammed a dinner together of sauteed chicken breasts with rice made in 20 minutes. The pan that sits still dirty in the sink this morning shows that I couldn't do more than that.

I can't focus today.

I feel unsettled, without seeking out more news on twitter or Facebook, I am saddened, shocked, heart broken. My day needs me to keep doing, though it feels like moving through mud: cleaning, doing, driving, running. But everything I do since yesterday keeps coming out with a part missing, something forgotten, things left behind, just unable to do it right.

I can't pull it together. Tears are half a second away, the lump in my throat is almost to an ache.

Sometimes you have to stop moving and take the time to honor and bless, acknowledge and bow your head. Take yourself away from everything, and find that corner, that space, wherever it is, and let the silent tears slip and release the tug in your throat.

I made myself still today, each tear sending out love and fellow humanness for all of us on this planet together. Praying so hard for the pain of loss and the sting of shock and disbelief for so many. I paused and meditated with a heart pulsing with shared sorrow, because there is something inside that won't let me go on as if there wasn't a rip in so many lives yesterday. I think of what I saw and read about what happened in Boston and it's no wonder that I can't concentrate on anything else and that everything takes twice as long to figure out and do today, I mean, Look at our fellow man.

Think on him.

Thinking on you today, Boston, with a full, still heart.

* * * 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Soap Box Time

It's been awhile since I stood up here and wagged my finger. God I hate that finger thing about myself. Trying to stop that habit, but anyway, with my hands folded behind my back I need to talk to some of you about something called, "I'm not good enough."

As in what I read on twitter this week, used in this way, "I won't nominate myself for BlogHer Voice of The Year because I'm not good enough."

Would you tell a friend they're not good enough? Would you discourage a friend from trying to go for something? Then why would you talk to yourself that way?

Tell yourself you are that good, submit that post of yours that you are so proud of, and the one where your own words make you cry, and the one that makes you laugh every time you read it. Send that baby in here.

How can you tell your kids to go for it and reach for their dreams if you don't do it yourself?

Go. Now.

Dang. The finger came out again, didn't it?

*submit, encourage, cheer and VOTE*

I love you guys.

* * *

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Announcing Room of Your Own BlogHer Sessions for 2013

I'm thrilled and excited to share the news that Erin Margolin of The Road To My Writer Roots and I will be part of a panel presenting a Room of Your Own roundtable at this year's BlogHer 2013, being held in Chicago July 25 through 27.

We'll be hosting "Shedding the Façade and Writing our Vulnerable Truth," on Friday, July 25. A Room of Your Own is a 45 minute dialogue between a panel of four bloggers and the audience. BlogHer promises to assemble a diverse group of bloggers who will discuss what it's like to put our lives out for public viewing, and what, if any, restrictions we follow.

Come share, come talk; this promises to be a gathering of lessons learned, wisdom gained, and bonding through shared ideals.

We can't wait to see you!

BlogHer '13: Room of Your Own Roundtable: Shedding the Façade and Writing our Vulnerable Truth 

Friday, July 25, 10:30-11:15 | Shedding the Façade and Writing our Vulnerable Truth
In a world where judgment is rapid fire, the survival instinct we're born with is to not appear weak. Join bloggers who have shed the façade. Rather than private struggles and only working through life's questions within an inner circle, they have created strong, supportive communities. By bringing their truth -- sharing 100 percent of themselves, through working out depression and mental health histories, the challenges of finding a community, deciding what is right and what is wrong, by taking on less than popular stances, these bloggers have found strength where most expect the fear of appearing less than perfect. We hunger for connection, and connection comes from sharing our honest, real, and vulnerable selves.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I Wish You Could Have Known Her

I stand in the large, stark bathroom, watching as the skilled nurses take care of my mother in hospice. Their deft, practiced movements with daily personal maintenance; all performed with gloved hands. A quick swipe here, maybe a second one there, and then they return her quickly to bed, no words, no eye contact. It's an assembly line process.

They do an exemplary job, beyond adequate. Doling out a required service with a level of aptitude that allows them to move quickly on to the next four rooms in my mother's unit, following the same steps. They manage to do in ten minutes what would take me at least half an hour.

With the two of them together, they lean in to assist my mother with her undergarments, they pull up what needs to be pulled up, and I watch.

All the while I bite my lip, chastising myself for not saying something. I finally open my mouth to speak, but my eyes fill with tears that surprise me and my voice cracks. I stop. Embarrassing myself, fearing I'll move my mother to even more emotion than what I already see there on her face, during what is now surely a humbling season of life for her.

As the three of us stand over my mother in the open bathroom, I feel pressed to tell them that who they see before them today is not an elderly woman no longer able to care for herself, but someone else.

I want them to know, I want to say, I wish you could have known her when she was 30.

* * * 
I wish you could have known her when she was 30. 

She was beautiful. She wrote poetry for the newspaper of her country's capital, Bogota, Colombia, a city even then of over 500,000. Her columns penned anonymously, all beginning with the same three words, A Mi Amante. To My Lover.

Dodging her way through the crowded streets of Colombia she heads to work, amid the honking and the whiz of electric rail cars. The men sitting at the early morning cafe tables look up to see a woman in the business district, working in a place and in a time when women didn't. With her strong straight as an arrow spine and her eyes set ahead, she maneuvers through the busy avenues, always intent in her destination. Tugging at the back hem of her custom made suits, her short, polished nails smooth the placket of buttons. Her platform heeled shoes made especially for her of stiffened leather by the town's cobbler click along the brick walkways. She didn't have to state her independence, you read it in her deliberate stride as she wove her way somewhere, to meet with the town's mayor, or an appointment for dinner with one of many friends. Anyone hoping to catch her would have been long ago lost in the pace she set.

She walks through the streets and the people part, as if she were Moses and they the Red Sea. The traffic stopping on the power of her perfect face alone. The vision that she is holds them; her rich, dark curls that play on her shoulders, her cinched waist in her tailored jackets, her shoes in the latest style with cherry red tips of manicured toes peeking out. Youthful lips that need no rouge sit below incendiary eyes. There are all these things to her, but they disappear from sight the moment she catches your breath with a flash of her eyes that burn with a fire that dares you to stop her.

"Hola, morena! Over here, my dark one," the men shout as she rushes past, "Look at me! Lend me your eyes to light my cigarette."


I want to tell these nurses that she will always be titanium -- but instead the hot tears filling my eyes spill off my cheeks and soak into my mother's bent gowned shoulder, and the only thing they hear me say before my voice breaks is, "I wish you could have known her..."

I did. And she was beautiful.

* * *

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Maybe Someday They'll Tell Me

*with special thanks to my ever musing muse, Taming Insanity.

Questions I Want To Ask My Children:

1.)   Do you walk around then stop mid pace to fart, just for my benefit? Or are your friends at school treated to this special delight, also?

2.)   During lunch at school, does the conversation also begin with your favorite blood letting scene in a movie and then end with how you'd perform brain surgery on yourself via your nostrils, or, again -- am I just the lucky one?

3.)   Are screaming goat imitation competitions held elsewhere other than this house? Or do you feel it can only be done at home, because the acoustics are best when they bounce off the back of my head like that?

4.)   I have a feeling you place bets with your friends on whether or not I will bring your lunch to you at school if you forget it at home, don't you? You know what? I don't care. The thought of you with no food just dissolves me.

5.)   I won't ever get an answer to "who left their socks on the coffee table?!," "who left the empty pitcher of kool-aid in the fridge?!," and "who left the van door open all night?!," will I?

6.)   Why do you think I can get you to school in negative ten minutes and reverse time when the rest of the world would take twenty minutes to travel the same distance?

7.)   Please explain to me, so that I can help myself understand, why I go through the work of setting the table with silverware when you each grab the meat off the platter like cavemen after a shared mastodon kill.

8.)   Do you boys know I have no special skill in finding things? When something is lost, I have to look for it in the same way as any other human being does -- search and locate, boys, just like everyone else.

9.)   Please tell me when you'd like a class on toilet paper roll replenishing. I'm pretty much home all the time.

10.)  You do know I'm on to you, right, when you tell me that no one butters toast all the way to the edges like I do, just so that you get me to do it for you? Again, I don't care, the thought of you no longer being here for me to do this for, dissolves me.


* * *

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Three Minutes of Reasons on Why I Love Ann Imig and The LTYM Movement

The Listen To Your Mother shows. Happening across 24 cities this May.

If you're on Facebook or twitter, you've heard about them. Those of us involved with them or in love with them, try to explain what an LTYM show is, but it takes us 15,000 words. Founder and National Director, Ann Imig, does it here in three minutes.

Click play and watch, if only for her luminescent skin.

* * *

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Trail's Been Blazed

Truly, I think that among the last words I'll whisper through parched lips on my death bed, you'll hear "I love the internet."

The awesome internet. How in the world else could I have met someone like Daphne Brogdon, of coolmom. com? Snowball's chance in hell of ever meeting someone in real life who made me laugh out loud, kept me company, and encouraged me to start a blog, the way that she did. I followed Daphne home to her website after seeing her on an Oprah segment about mommy bloggers. I'm drawn to funny people like my ten year old is drawn to the Costco size drums of Swedish Fish. And Daphne was the perfect mix of irreverent, intelligent, and fast on her feet.

And here's the amazing part of my internet life: four years after meeting her online, then meeting her in person at BlogHer three years ago, we're friends. Emailing, tweeting, people who like each other, friends.

Daphne is on vacation with her children this week and asked me to guest on her blog. I'm joyfully there, hosting "Teen Week." Since she is the mother of two children under the age of six, I feel it's only fair to pay back her kind deed of making me smile through some grim winter months -- by giving her a peek of the fun times that will be here sooner than she knows.

I'd love for you to stop by and meet Daphne. She's a beautiful down to earth woman, who does some knock out funny videos and blogs about current issues and pop culture with a quick as a whip brain. So, click over and get smart and laugh at the same time.

 Daphne Brogdon, TV host and standup comic, has appeared on numerous television series, she has hosted “The X show” on FX, “Perfect Partner” on Discovery and “The Fashion Team” on TV Guide and various other basic cable shows.  Since creating coolmom.com she has been on Dr. Phil, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN Headline, MSNBC, and the Ricki Lake show.

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