A MOTHER, A DAUGHTER AND A WHOLE LOT OF SHENANIGANS

Do you remember the movie Thelma & Louise?

Surely you recall the title, but the plot? Allow me to refresh your memory: an Arkansas waitress (Louise) shoots a man who attempted to rape her friend (Thelma), and together they take off in a ‘66 Thunderbird with lots of shenanigans along the way.

Oh, and Brad Pitt. A young and handsome Brad Pitt. Yeah, I thought that may help jog your memory.

Storyline aside, the overall theme of the movie is the strength and undeniable connection of two friends who would do anything for and protect the other at all costs.

I am blessed – so very blessed – to have women in my life who I consider “the best of friends.”

One of these women is the reason I am here today – both figuratively and literally.

My mother is my Louise.

And for the sake of a good story, this Thelma & Louise duo took a trip to Colorado where we would drive and drive and drive from one John Denver tribute to another, all-the-while seeing beautiful, postcard-worthy sites everywhere we looked. And though our antics may not have been movie-worthy – at least by Hollywood standards – and there was no shirtless Brad Pitt during any scene of our journey, we did capture our own great story.

We traveled in a ’15 Hyundai Elantra – not quite as stylish as a ’66 Thunderbird, but cooler than the minivan sitting in my driveway back in New York. When we picked up the car from the rental agency, it had 124 miles. When we dropped it off six days later, the odometer read 789 miles. Among those 665 miles traveled (come on, you know you want to do the math to see if I’m right!), we made our way from Denver to Estes Park, through Rocky Mountain National Park to Breckenridge, all the way to Aspen and back to Denver.

Normally, we would never have made this trip – spending money and time away from our husbands – but we coordinated so my three little ones could visit with their father (who lives in Colorado) and their grandparents who were in from California.

My mother and I are a combination of many other great pairs: Laverne & Shirley, Rachel & Monica, Oprah & Gayle, Lucy & Ethel, Bevis & Butt-Head and, of course, Thelma & Louise. But there is something extra special with us…she is the first person I want to share my happiest news with; the first person I want to comfort me in my saddest moments.

This trip was a gift filled with memories I will forever cherish and lots of #JeezLouise moments (see Facebook page for a few snipits!). Please, experience a little of our journey…as told in pictures.

First stop, Cracker Barrel (“cheers” with the best iced tea ever!) and Target (mom had to buy a new pillow – she gets grossed out by the ones in hotels).

We took the Estes Park Aerial Tramway through the treetops to the summit of Prospect Mountain and were able to hike (reads: climb up one rock) and feed chipmunks – they ate nuts right out of our hands!

Just a few of the photos of the breathtaking views. Seriously, like none I have even seen before.

We took the ghost tour of The Stanley Hotel which is where Stephen King stayed and his inspiration for the Overlook Hotel in his bestseller, The Shining. The author stayed in Room 217 which has become a hotbed of paranormal activity. Room 217 is booked for Halloween night through 2026. “Here’sssssss Johnny!”

And for the highlight of our trip….we attended a John Denver tribute concert with the John Adams Band at the Breckenridge Riverwalk Center – a benefit for Domus Pacis (Latin for House of Peace). In the first row, we were the ultimate groupies as we sang and clapped to all of our favorite John Denver songs…songs that were a part of my childhood at his concerts and family sing-along’s and have been on my playlist for years.

The Domus Pacis Family Respite encourages cancer patients, their families and friends to escape to the beauty of the mountains and experience the peace that comes from creating joyful memories for the people they most cherish. It is such an amazing program.

How do you top a John Denver tribute concert? With a visit to The John Denver Sanctuary, of course. The memorial features many of his most beloved songs etched into large rocks. The setting was beautiful. I don’t expect many people to understand why we drove so many miles to see “a bunch of rocks” but it was truly one of the most peaceful days I have ever had.

We went to the best 50’s-inspired diner near Aspen. Seriously, the coolest place I have ever eaten. The waitress told us about a festival taking place nearby. When we got to Main Street, it was a scene I can only compare to the stories I’ve heard about Woodstock. Families and friends – young and old, alike – were just “chillin’” (for lack of a better, less cliché word). Kids were enthralled by a dunking booth and hula hoops. There was a super cool band, a “funny” smell in the air (it’s legal there!), solo cups filled with tap beer, ladies in flowing skirts and tank tops, guys in t-shirts and jeans and the footwear of choice was….none.

On our final full day in Colorado, we went to The Denver Zoo. I don’t think an awesome zoo needs further details, but I love giraffes. And monkeys. And, of course, the elephants!

And here are a few of my favorite pictures from the trip…notice the cross in the mountain that we discovered the first morning we woke up in Colorado — right outside our hotel.

Thanks for the memories, Mom! Good times. The best. xoxo


SAYING ‘GOODBYE’ TO A $250 GLASS OF WINE AND ‘HELLO’ TO #REFRESHYOURFUNNY

Two years ago, I got the bucket-list idea to begin a blog by the time I reached the ripe old age of 40. On December 25, 2013 – my 40th birthday – I held my breath and hit “publish” for the first time on Happily Ever Laughter. But “publish” didn’t come without preparation.

Coming from a marketing background, I understand the importance of a strong logo. I didn’t have enough graphic experience to come up with my own, so on the recommendation of a friend, I went with a website where you share your ideas/vision and designers compete to create the “winning logo.” The victorious designer earns the jackpot that, in my specific case, was $250 (paid by me). It was a lot of money to spend for something I wasn’t sure was going to be any more than a hobby, but I wanted a customized logo that represented me.

The key words I gave to inspire my logo design included: fun…mom…relaxed…blog…feel-good…the “every woman.” There were several awesome submissions from which to choose, but ultimately I found the [I thought at the time] perfect logo. Ripped jeans. Baseball cap. Computer. Glass of wine. Let me hear you say…Whoomp, there it is!

I was sure it was a great representation of my lifestyle. My mom “uniform” regularly includes ripped jeans and baseball caps. And in the evenings, I am usually on my computer – often with a glass of wine in hand. Also, many of the humor bloggers I follow feature some adult beverage reference in their logo or tagline. I thought mine should too. I wanted to be a part of that party – those ladies are fun!

And then, it was time to write. And I wrote.

I wrote about the blessings of family. I wrote about my daughter Maggie and her triumphs and struggles with autism. I wrote about friendships, mommy-son dates with my young boys, being part of a blended family with five children, and even being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I wrote about my meant-to-be second marriage that has brought me full circle on this amazing journey I am living.

Though I can swear like a sailor in real life, I don’t often curse on my blog in an effort not to offend my great grandmother (or anyone else I am related to) and I rarely write about drinking escapades that may ensue. Though anyone who knows me will tell you, I do like my cocktails. And, to be honest, I think I am pretty damn funny after having a few. But still, I don’t often post funny drinking stories or alcohol-inspired one-liners on my blog or social media channels.

Don’t get me wrong, I think most of the “mommy needs a cocktail” humor out there is funny. I click “like” and love reading hysterical tales of friends doing karaoke because they suddenly thought after a few glass of wine that they could sing like Taylor Swift. In real life, I bet the ladies in those stories and I would “cheers” to motherhood and have a kick-ass girls night full of drinks and laughs.

But my personal blog – my little teeny tiny bit of the blogosphere – wasn’t meant to be about that. Again, if for nothing else, I didn’t want my great grandmother seeing anything that would offend her (that is, if she ever learned how to turn on a computer) and more so, I didn’t want my children (who do know their way around a computer) thinking that alcohol and inebriation are something to joke about (even though, as adults, we often do find humor in a drunken evening).

In my mind, I hoped that Happily Ever Laughter would bring some kind of good or social change to the world. I didn’t know how, but I figured I would know it when I saw the opportunity. (Wow, that sounds so cliché.)

While I was at BlogU (a super awesome blogging conference) in June, one of the presenters we heard from was a woman with Responsibility.org. She showed us a video encouraging bloggers to #RefreshYourFunny and #TalkEarly. I encourage you to check out the video they presented. It’s short and informative and pertains to all parents – not just bloggers: Click HERE for the #RefreshYourFunny video.

The goal was simple: to empower parents to be confident about their decisions regarding alcohol, model healthy, balanced behaviors, and create a foundation for starting conversations with their kids from an early age.

As we all know, children are influenced by friends, teachers, celebrities, movies, music and, in my son’s case, Minecraft. But parents are the leading influence on their children’s decisions, including the use of alcohol.

Remember when I wrote about wanting Happily Ever Laughter to bring good or social change to the world? Well, my children ARE my world. Though I do not allow them to read my blog or go on Facebook, they see my logo on my business cards, coffee mug, pens, notebook, mousepad … everywhere they turn in our home. They see a character in my likeness with a computer on her lap with a glass of wine in her hand. It really doesn’t matter that they don’t read what I write or post online – they see my logo conveying the idea that mom always has a drink in her hand and that must be funny because mommy always tries to be funny (which, admittedly, I often fail at miserably). Do I drink all the time? Of course not, but my logo may imply otherwise to my children.

I want my children to associate Happily Ever Laughter with a woman following her dream of writing and being a published author, all-the-while raising her children, working a full-time job and being a loving wife. I do not want my children to associate Happily Even Laughter – to associate me – simply by a logo that does not send the message I want to communicate.

That said, I am using this post as a catalyst to #RefreshYourFunny and redesign my logo; redefine my brand; re-message my purpose. And this is not to say that I won’t occasionally write about a fun wine-infused night on my blog, but I have made the decision not to have the Happily Ever Laughter logo be highlighted with a glass of wine. Maybe I will simply have it switched to a Target bag or Starbucks cup…maybe it will have a whole new look. I will leave that to the graphic designer.

Yes, I am throwing hundreds of dollars out the window and will need to rebrand everything associated with Happily Ever Laughter, but I will also have a conversation with my children and help them understand why I am doing it.

“I didn’t know how, but I figured I would know it when I saw the opportunity.”

THIS. IS. MY. OPPORTUNITY.

By the way, if anyone has any logo design ideas feel free to pass them along. I can’t award $250 for the winning logo this time, but I will buy you a drink. #KiddingNotKidding

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Though these feelings are completely my own, this piece will be submitted for a writing contest sponsored by Responsibility.org. I am not being compensated for the post in any way. All the opinions are my own. Oh, and I am damn proud of them!


TODAY IS THE DAY! I’M ADDING TO MY BOOKSHELF: MARTINIS & MOTHERHOOD: TALES OF WONDER, WOE & WTF?!

I am honored to have an essay of mine about #MaggieSunshine in the brand new anthology, Martinis & Motherhood – Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?! which has been published and released today by Shannon Day (Martinis & Motherhood) and Tara Wilson (Don’t Lick the Deck) of Tipsy Squirrel Press.

I’m so excited to have my story included along with 37 other talented authors sharing their stories of the Wonder, Woe & WTF moments of motherhood – and custom martini recipes. (BTW – I highly recommend going directly to page 13…)

The book is filled with the kinds of tales that we like to share on a Mom’s Night Out (or in). They will make you laugh, cry, and realize that you’re in good company. The martinis are a fun way to celebrate the many toast-worthy moments of motherhood.

This story collection consists of thirty-seven tales of motherhood, each accompanied by an easy to-make martini. The custom martini recipes in the book are clearly aimed at women living in the thick of motherhood including such mixes as mine: The Wonderful.

The book features stories that inspire, entertain and make you laugh ’til you pee. These tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF?! share a little glimpse into the lives of other moms, who are a lot like you. Through their tales, we’re reminded to savor the little things (like capturing extra morning snuggles), to let go of the stresses (they won’t be in that unfortunate phase forever), and to be grateful for the laughs that the unexpected brings (because laughing is better than crying, and it may be the only workout our abs get!). So shake up an easy-to-make martini, put your feet up (quickly, before the kids find you) and join us on our journey as we toast to the many clink-worthy moments that motherhood brings.

Below is a list of all the book contributors and links to their blogs. Check these awesome ladies out!

Team Wonder

Leigh-Mary Barone Hoffmann happilyeverlaughterblog

Lynn Morrison nomadmomdiary

Angila Peters detachedfromlogic

Magnolia Ripkin magnoliaripkin

Louise Gleeson latenightplays

Jocelyn Pihlaja omightycrisis.com

Alison Huff crumbsdown

Shannon Drury theradicalhousewife

Patricia Mirchandani raising-humans

Lauren Stevens lo-wren

Cordelia Newlin de Rojas multilingualmama

Sarah Deveau doingallthethings

TEAM WOE

Shannon Day martinisandmotherhood.com

Tara Wilson dontlickthedeck.com

Vicki Lesage vickilesage

Abby the Writer Little Miss Perfect

Brooke Takhar missteenussr

Kate Parlin shakespearesmom

Christina Antus christinaantus

Jennifer Baird- Dean thechiofjen

Sara Park crcrsmommyblog

Tamara Schroeder thattamiam

Kristen Hansen Brakeman kristenbrakeman

Lori Lu Green LeRoy theinadequateconception

Carolyn Mackenzie

TEAM WTF

Susanne Kerns thedustyparachute

Sarah Halsall del Rio established1975

Lisa Webb canadianexpatmom

Jessica D’Andrea Kapp jesskapp

Kim McDonald Twobugsandablog

Lisa Carmody Doiron Momologues-Soliloquies

Olga Mecking europeanmama

Holly Rust Mothersguidetosanity

Kathryn Leehane foxywinepocket

Kirstenjill Hudkins Robbins rippedjeansandbifocals

Kristine Laco mumrevised

Andrea Mulder-Slater noreallyandrea

I would love for you to check out the book! Check it out on Amazon.And if you like it, it would be super-duper-fantastic if you could leave a review on Amazon.

As always, thank you for your continued support!!!