Maid of Honor vs. Made Of Money

Posted on August 8, 2013. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My younger sister is getting married and has asked me to be her Matron of Honor.  Although I feel privileged to be asked, I am a wife and mother of three.  Not only is money limited, but so is my time.  She’s expecting me to throw her a shower and I’m afraid I don’t have the time or funds to make it happen.  Is there anyway I can still be a part of the wedding, without hosting a shower, or should I back out altogether?

Dear Not Made of Money,

Let me guess, your sister is the baby of the family, so the fact that you have been married long enough to produce three children means she can’t even remember your wedding.  I’m also guessing whatever she did before, during and after your ceremony, your mom and dad paid for — including the push up bra needed for the super cute bridesmaid dress you picked out, am I getting warm?  Making matters worse, she probably has no idea what the cost analysis of a bridal shower is, right?

Trust me, I can feel your anxiety all the way over here!  Grab a glass of wine and let me put your mind at ease:

As a close family member of the bride, you are not actually supposed to host the shower.  You read that right, you’re not supposed to!  That’s because the guests might feel like you (family) were pressuring them to bring gifts.  Here’s a link to the goddess of all things wedding, Emily Post, who does an excellent job explaining why:

Now, how many of us would have lost that bet in Vegas?  I’m guessing the majority.

Take if from me, it’s good to follow ol’ Emily’s advice, otherwise things may be on a path to disaster.

My first trip down the aisle, I was given a shower by my ex-husbands immediate family members, needless to say, that union barely lasted long enough to write the thank you notes.  If EP was reading the tea leaves, based on the shower alone, she would have likely thought it was doomed before it even got started, and she would have been correct!

Honestly, it was downhill from there — trying to be agreeable, I let my ex talk me into allowing the groomsmen to each wear a different colored bow tie, so they could look like a “rainbow” (his description).  That was followed by reluctantly giving in to a rum flavored wedding cake, which I didn’t even like and everyone else complained about.  Then came the realization my ex didn’t even know the Lord’s Prayer until the actual service when his lips weren’t moving!  Good gravy, I wish I was making this stuff up and wish, at times, I didn’t have a memory like an elephant — but I digress.

After my practice marriage, as I call it, came the one that counts, marriage #2 (which is #1 in my heart).  This time, following EP’s book of etiquette to a T, both of my showers were given to me by friends, no relatives of either myself or my husband, Scooter, involved.  Needless to say, the rest of the wedding went smoothly, with black-ties, a tasty vanilla cake with butter-cream frosting and a hubby that even knows the words to the doxology!  The only rainbow that day was in the sky, where it belongs.

Basically, if you stick with EP,  you can’t go wrong.

Now, with that said, if you win the lottery and hire two nannies to take care of the kids, perhaps then you could offer to help physically and financially with the shower, but remember, you are under no obligation as Maid of Honor to do so.  She needs to understand the true duties of the MOH, it’s more of an assistant versus a wallet.

As the MOH, you get to do some pretty cool stuff, like help pick out the bridesmaid dresses, which is huge, we all know what a bridezilla thinks you should wear — lavender dotted swiss with empire waists – UGH!  Also on your list: witnessing the marriage certificate, assisting your sister during the reception, etc.  All stuff you can handle AND afford!

Feel free to share my story with her of what happens when you stray from the EP path.  Basically, when you mess with the tried and true, you may end up with more than just something blue.

So do yourself and your sister a favor, avoid the rum and rainbows and grab a copy of Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette.  Put a post-it on the page which explains the MOH duties, give it to your sister and happily accept the position.



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Catch & Release

Posted on January 17, 2013. Filed under: Couples, Relationships | Tags: , , , |

Dear Lora,

I’m a sophomore in college and have been hooking up with this guy that I really like, unfortunately he only texts me to hang out late at night, never during the day.   Have I ruined my chances altogether with this guy?  I really like him!

Dear Catch and Release,

Ohhhhhh Sister…sister…sister…sister….

Let’s start here:  DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE!  And by that, I mean, don’t call, text, tweet or tag this guy for any reason – ever!

I have to say, my gut is telling me this ship has sailed due to the circumstances.  So what we’ll need to do here is learn from this and move on.  I know that’s hard to read, but trust me, there is a better bus coming for you!  Someday you’ll look back and thank your lucky stars you didn’t hop on that one – absolutely no pun intended.

Unfortunately a pattern has been established and he has you in the drunk-dial box.  It’s just a wild guess that alcohol was involved with the late night texting, which makes it nearly impossible to have any kind of sober sunlight connection.

Here’s the thing, it’s super difficult to change an image in a young man’s mind.  And judging by his clear lack of respect for you, I’m not sure you can, so why waste the energy on it, right?  On the other hand, I’m not giving you a complete hall pass on this one, you responded to the 12 o’clock texts, so you too have some skin in the game, okay, bad choice of words, but you get the picture.  You must own your part in this, and figure out a way to not repeat this promiscuous pattern without some sort of commitment.

Next: Most college boys don’t have the emotional capacity that college age girls do.  A women’s brain develops faster in this category, that’s just how it is.  For the most part, college guys tend to move from one sparkly object to the next.  Their attention spans are short and relationships, if they even call them that anymore, are commonly even shorter.

Case in point: my husband, Scooter, who is just your typical guys-guy describes the good ol’ fraternity days as the era of “catch and release”.  Now, while Scoot says this in a joking fashion, I think there’s something to be learned from this fishy tale.  At that age, the early 20’s, there are few guys out there even looking for a long-term cell phone plan, let along a long-term girlfriend.  In his mind, this guy is swimming in a school of fish – or a university full of mermaids, as the case may be and it’s a numbers game — the more bait you toss out there, the better your chances of snagging something.

Now that you’re hip to these slippery fishermen you can make better decisions going forward.  There are other fish in the sea, lots of them!  One that will fall for you hook, line and sinker!

Bottom line: don’t take the bait, turn off your phone and go to bed…if a guy really wants to see you, he will find a way to make it happen when the sun is up.  In the meantime, turn the tables on this guy and toss him back in the water!

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Messy Marriage

Posted on July 31, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Home, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

My son has been married to a sweet gal for 7 years, although she’s nice, her mother is a different story.  Within a year of the wedding, her mom moved in.  A couple of years later, the mother-in-law took custody of one of her other grand-kids, that little girl currently lives with them as well (her parents are nowhere to be found).  They have two kids of their own and now, reluctantly, he has also taken on parenting the niece.  He doesn’t feel he ever has alone time with his children and feels obligated to include the niece.  I need to point out my son is the only one working in the house and they are financially strapped.  His wife says she can’t find a job, although she is a credentialed nurses assistant.  The mother-in-law has a bad back, but is not on disability, so I wonder about that.  I told him to kick the mom out, but that would mean the girl would have to go too.   I hate to see him struggle, what should I do?

Mom in the middle

Dear Middle Mom,

Good gravy Miss Mavey, there sure plenty of lumps in this batch!  The good news, with a little whisking, I think we can get this smoothed out.

I totally get that this situation seems incredibly overwhelming — for those in it, it must feel like there’s no way out.  Luckily, I’m sitting some distance away on another pew, which gives me the chance to see this a little differently.

I hate to sound like a preacher, but I’m a firm believer in that old saying “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”.  (For those out there who aren’t big fans of God, you can insert “universe”.)

With that said, your son is going to have to man on up!  Especially since this is a girl we’re talking about.  Girls need father figures, whether it’s their own biological one or otherwise.

Remember:  just because some dude showed up and donated a few of his genes at the right time of one month, doesn’t always guarantee he will show up with his big boy jeans on and do the right thing for the rest of that child’s life.

It’s been proven, girls with positive male figures have a greater chance of doing better in life.  They have more self-worth, score higher in certain school subjects, are most likely to excel at a sport, and list goes on.  If that doesn’t get his attention, then mention what can happen without one: teenage pregnancy, ending up in an abusive relationship, even becoming a stripper.  Not that stripping is illegal or anything, but you know what I’m saying.   I have yet to meet anyone who would proudly announce their daughter works at Cheetah’s!  Or niece for that matter!

It’s simple — it’s NOT that little girls fault, but it could be your sons, if he doesn’t handle this properly.  Right or wrong, he’s been placed in her life as much as she’s been placed in his.  Honestly, it sounds like she’s got an angel looking out for her, without your son and daughter-in-law, she could end up in a foster home, if anything were ever happened to grandma.

As for his much-needed one on one time with his own children, he needs to plan dates.  Mark off time on the calendar to spend with each separately – that could be going to the park or just getting ice cream.  It doesn’t have to be an entire day and doesn’t need to cost anything.  Side note to all of us: you can’t put a price on time well spent.  However, there’s a catch — he must also makes dates with the niece.  Whether he likes it or not, his kids are watching and taking it all in…he’s not only showing the niece she’s important, but also showing his kids what a real man is.  A real man steps up and takes responsibility.

For example, my dad died when I was in the 6th grade.  Although my mom, Norma Jean, never remarried, I was blessed with a fantastic brother-in-law who always made sure he was around when it was time to learn how to drive, who made sure I still went snow skiing, taught me how to check the air in my tires, etc., you get my point.  Although I have 2 brothers, it was my sister’s husband who stepped up to the plate.  Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize what he was doing at the time, but looking back, it’s super clear.  He never announced his actions, never said “since your dad can’t be around”, he just did them, those little things that a dad would have done, had he been there.  An important point to your son, I remember all of those nice things.

On to the mother-in-law.  I hear your frustration, but I’m not sure the best answer is to kick the mother-in-law out and it certainly isn’t what the niece needs.  He’s going have to sit his wife and her mother down with all the bills and explain he needs some financial help.   Basically, one of them needs to get a job.  It doesn’t matter which one, it just needs to happen to keep the family afloat.  This is pretty darn simple: you can’t keep rowing down the river with 6 people and only 1 oar.  Bottom line – one gets a job, the other can stay home and take care of the kids.  OR, they could both get part time jobs and split the child rearing, either way, he needs a life-preserver and fast!  If some of the financial burden is lifted off  your son, I think it will offer much smoother sailing.

I commend your son for taking on of this extended family.  Despite what we envision for our children, today, families take on many different forms.  There’s no set of rules as to what a home needs to look like.  It’s what ever you make it.  I truly believe if more families watched out for each other, our country wouldn’t be running the huge moral deficit it is right now.

Take pride in the way you raised your son, he’s clearly been putting up with more than most husbands would be willing to.  I really believe there is a special place in heaven for him, at the least there will be special place in his niece’s heart if he handles this opportunity correctly.

Ps.  While I am skeptical of most government handouts, I believe there are those who truly need financial help, and it sounds like this little girl does.  I am not well versed on this subject, but I think it’s worth a call to the local Social Security office.  Since neither the girl’s father nor mother are able to contribute, there may be some assistant available to her.

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Gay-O-Meter Mama

Posted on March 12, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

Last weekend, my teenage daughter had a sleepover with a friend.  At the sleepover, the other girls mother told my daughter that her boyfriend was going to dump her because he is really gay.  Imagine how shocked my daughter was to hear that!  She then asked the mom how she knew and she said it’s because she has a “Gay-o-meter”.  It’s important to note that my daughters boyfriend turned down that friends invitation to a dance before he started dating my daughter.  So, the fact that my daughters boyfriend decided not to pursue her daughter, must mean he’s gay.  I don’t know whether to say something to the mom, or just let it go.  Geez!  This mother is worse than any “stage mom”. 

Mad as a hornet mother

Dear Mad Mother,

Whoa, Nelly!  This gal certainly gives new meaning to mother’s intuition!  Doesn’t it just take you straight (no pun intended) back to high school yourself?  It’s pretty clear this poor gal hasn’t left her pom-pons and Aussie Sprunch Spray in the decade they belong!

Sister, she’s carrying so much baggage from her teenage years you almost want to ask if she’s still using a boom box to play her mixed tape, which I’m sure includes the single Careless Whisper from Wham!  Unfortunately, she’s nailed the careless part all right.

Sounds like this mom is trying to make up for her own short comings.  I’m guessing she wasn’t super popular when she was a teenager, and is clearly still struggling with that now.  Only someone starving for attention would open their mouth and make such an alarming comment.  Can you imagine how much pain it takes for a person to get to the point?  Talking badly about someone else’s child to make themselves feel better?   And to also use their own child to try to right perceived wrongs?

She’s what I classify as a hater.  Haters are everywhere and she happens to be one of them.  You know the type – they’re never happy for anyone else’s success, they believe if someone is more attractive than they are, they must be dumb and if they’re rich, they must be mean, awful people.  Dealing with a hater is hard.  In fact, it’s my policy to stay as far away from them as possible — mainly because I’m afraid the bad vibe they give off will cause them to spontaneously combust!   There’s so much negativity and jealously swirling around in them, it makes you wonder how they find time to manage their daily lives.  Clearly, as in this chicks case, she isn’t doing that very well as demonstrated by her current target: teenagers.

Since it doesn’t sound like you’re ever going to want to be friends with this gal, unless she undergoes some sort of hypnotic transformation, then I say you should have a simple conversation with her about the incident.  You have nothing to lose, but will feel better know you did something.  By the way, I’m referring to it as an incident, a police term, because to me, it’s criminal what she said to your daughter!

Despite the fact she’s given you plenty of ingredients to add to the pot she’s already stirring, I’d avoid discussing either of your girls or the boyfriend, just keep it to the most disturbing part – the gay-o-meter statement.

Keep it basic, let her know you’re trying to raise an open-minded teen and would rather not have someone discussing sexual orientation of any kind, gay, straight or otherwise.

We all know there’s no scientific proof anyone actual has a gay-o-meter so I think you’d be wasting your breath by trying to prove that one way or another, so try not to get caught up in the verbiage, but rather focus on the overall implied meaning.  That way you’re not accusing her of being a liar.  Side note: you never really want to call someone a liar, even if they are, because once you do, they shut down all listening mechanisms and the conversation/argument takes a different focus and gets off track.

The reason I suggest talking to her at all, is that I think you need to let her know this isn’t cool, not only for your daughter, but for anyone else she comes in contact with AND for the boy in question — bless his heart!  He’s done nothing to deserve this attention and I feel for him.

Whether her statement is fact or fiction, this is a form of bullying.  Making any comment (positive or otherwise) about someone’s sexuality, unless they’ve been on the cover of People magazine reveling their sex change, is not okay, it’s downright cruel.

Make sure you tell your daughter to tread lightly with this friend.  I’m not saying the friend is like her mom, but the gal certainly has imbedded herself in her daughters dating life to a disturbing degree.  If you allow her to have any contact with this other mother, keep a close eye on it.  This woman has her sights set on anyone who she perceives to be better than she is…honestly, at this point, it seems that would be pretty much anyone.

ps. Don’t expect to make serious headway with this chick, at this age she’s pretty set in her ways.  The goal here is to let her know that at least one other person has been offended by her off the cuff comments.  Might I add, Lord help her husband!

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Bolting On A Beauty

Posted on February 13, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

One of our best friends was recently dumped by her husband of over 20  years.  They have 2 children and what seemed to be a great relationship.  And here’s the kicker – she is gorgeous!  By far, the most beautiful of our group AND a sweetheart.  Now the rest of us, who aren’t nearly as attractive, are worried our husbands may trade us in.  How worried should we be?

1st Wives Club

Dear 1st Wives,

Remember the old song: “If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife…”?  It reminds me of what my husband, Scooter, has said for years “Show me a super model and I’ll show you someone, somewhere, who’s tired of sleeping with her!”  His point may be crude, but he certainly has an interesting take – not only are looks fleeting, but gorgeous woman can be a look of work!

Just because your girlfriend is a knockout, doesn’t mean she’s immune to being treated like garbage and dumped at the curb.  Look no further than 3 of the most gorgeous women in the world who were all treated like rubbish:

Christie Brinkley’s 4th husband cheated on her with an 18-year-old.  Jennifer Lopez was dumped by Ben Affleck just days before their wedding.  And how can anyone forget Sandra Bullocks ex-husband, Jesse James affair with a tattoo model?  Really people?  What were any of these men thinking?

You get the message — looks don’t equal relationship longevity.  Now, would you like it if your spouse took care of him or herself and maintained some sort of personal pride in their appearance?  Absolutely!  But if you love them, you’re not tossing them in the recycle bin if they refuse to erase wrinkles with Botox.  The exception to this, of course is if you’re a Playboy Bunny dating Hugh Hefner and then it’s just part of the deal, you know from the beginning that your days are numbered.

To me, this situation seems to be more about the husband versus the beautiful bride he bailed on.  Clearly he’s just not happy — with himself or his life in general.  It’s also a pretty safe bet he’s going through a mid-life crisis.  After two decades with the same gal he may be hearing the bartender say “last call!”.

Men who’ve made these decisions tend to think they can easily trade-in, trade-up or trade-down, as the case may be on the age scale.  The bottom line, nothing is going to make them happier, unless they figure out a way to be happy themselves.  Looking for someone or something to make them complete never works.

With all of that said, it’s important to remember what our parents have lived long enough to understand — none of us know what goes on behind closed doors, you can only assume they were living the perfect life you envisioned.

Second, many times, the end of a relationship doesn’t have anything to do with what you and I consider to be deal breakers.  It may actually be the thing that sitcoms have used as a punch line for years: nagging!  I’m not saying this is why your buddy’s beau bolted, I’m just tossing out some more food for thought.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that nagging can be disastrous to a relationship: “…the dynamic can potentially be as dangerous to a marriage as adultery or bad finances”.

Nagging isn’t something only ugly people do, in fact, I’d venture to guess that super attractive people may even nag more than average looking folks.  Why?  Because good-looking people get away with a lot and can start to believe their own press.  Look at the celebrities who think they are entitled, it’s because of years of being surrounded by “yes” people.  Your average John Doe doesn’t get that kind of tail kissing.  Funny how puckering up to someone’s fanny goes straight to his or her head, isn’t it?

Again, I’m not saying your girlfriend is a nag, I’m just reiterating that being attractive usually isn’t enough to hold anyone’s attention for very long.

Relationships are complicated and can have more layers than an onion.  Just like the pungent veggie, pulling the layers back can be messy, smelly and can even make you cry.  Thus, I wouldn’t waste any precious life minutes worrying about why their relationship didn’t work.  Just be there for your friend during this crisis.

As for your husband, don’t worry about him leaving you — divorce isn’t like chickenpox, you can’t catch it.  Getting married may be easy, but getting divorced is like trying to cut the lawn with nail clippers.  I’m guessing your pals estranged husband is learning that right now.  It’s a pretty safe bet the grass isn’t any greener in the yard he’s currently standing in.

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Breaking The Bad Boy Bond

Posted on February 6, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

I have a friend who keeps going back to the same guy who’s not good for her, he’s emotionally abusive and manipulative.  Every week she says they’re done, but ends up going right back to him by the weekend.  It’s hard because she turns to me to help pick up the pieces, only to start the cycle all over again.

Broken Record

Dear Broken Record,

I hear you loud and clear sister!  The problem is, your friend can’t, because she’s currently stuck in the muted and foggy stage.

She’s bonded with this despicable dude and unfortunately, it’s going to take more than a large can of Pledge to leave him in the dust.  She needs something stronger, like a gallon of Mr. Clean to get rid of the haze.

Most likely you’ve already told her the usual things we tell our pals in these tough moments, such as:  you’re a catch…he’s a loser to treat you that way…you deserve better!  The problem is, she can’t absorb any of that information because she’s already saturated with emotions for him.  That connection is overriding her common sense because she’s bonded with him.

Women tend to bond with one man at a time.  On the glue scale, we’re talking superglue, not Elmers.  It can’t be melted away with hot water, it needs full strength acetone nail polish remover!  Since she’s not ready to start the removal process herself, I’m going to hand you a bag of cotton balls and some tips on how to help.

Let’s begin with an old line from my mom, Norma Jean:  The best way to get over one man is to go on a date with another!   N.J. didn’t coin the phrase, but at age 81, she’s had decades of witnessing its effectiveness.

The reason this method works is because women (in general) are only able to bond to one man at a time.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the same for men, who can carry on relationships with several women at the same time with much more ease.  I’m not saying all men are able to do this, I’m just using a broad strokes to help paint this picture.

In order to break the bond with one man, she needs to truly understand there are others out there for her.  Some might say that she needs to work on herself first.  I don’t disagree with that, but I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with her, other than being stuck like cement to a man who’s making her life a mess!

Why are women programmed this way?  I’m guessing this bonding thing was set in our DNA back in the Stone Age, when it was necessary for a woman to wait in the cave for their mate to come home with food.  The option of gallivanting around all day may have meant their demise if faced with a T-Rex or other hazards.  Keep in mind, there wasn’t any place to really go, no malls, no Starbucks, no movie theatre.  It was all about surviving day-to-day.  The best way to ensure survival was to bond with a man and have a child, which ensured food and shelter.

On the other side of the rock, for the prehistoric male, spreading his seed to other women helped make sure his genes would survive to see another generation.

I know, that’s a pretty long-winded explanation for old N.J.’s simple statement – basically, the best thing you can do for your buddy is to help show her there are other fish in the sea.  Fish who will respect her and treat her the way she deserves.

It’s clear her broken record of “over him on Monday, but back in his arms by Friday” exhausts you, but she needs you now.  If you bail on her, chances are pretty high she’ll keep playing this song over and over with this guy.  In order to stop this instant replay you and her other friends need to rally around her.

The key is to stop the cycle.  Make plans for the weekend and occupy the time she would normally spend with him.  Set her up on a blind date, she doesn’t need to marry the guy, she just needs a change of scenery to understand the view she now has isn’t that great.  Help her upgrade her parking lot view to an ocean-front so she can release this bad catch back into the water — he’s not mature enough for her to keep.

If she’s not up for going on a date yet, plan a girls weekend and get out of town.  Or simply pick a new spot for dinner or different place to hangout this weekend.  Change the venue and you’ll change the menu all the way around.

Bottom line: she must break the bond in order to move on!

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Daily Dose Of Love

Posted on January 30, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Home, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

What are some fun, easy things my husband and I can do for each other to keep that romance alive when we don’t have time on some days to spend time together?  And how do we carve out time for each other while juggling 2 toddlers?

Romantically Challenged

Dear No-mance,

Don’t we all remember the dating days, also know as the days of wine and roses?  Awww, yes, those were fun times!  My husband, Scooter, and I refer to those as the P.R. (public relation) days – when I’d take time to put lipstick on and he’d wear his fancy Cole Haan loafers instead of flip-flops on date night.  Now he’s lucky if I have chap-stick on and I, if  Scoot wears what he considers to be his “good” thong sandals on Saturday night.

Anyone who’s ever been in a relationship has been there.  The crazy part, most of us can’t even tell you when the PR phase ends, it just melts away like a cube of ice on a hot summer sidewalk.  Then one day, we realize we’ve taken the term “slip into something more comfortable” a little too literally and have traded the red lacy thing for a blue fleece hoodie.

While there is a lot of comfort found in this phase, reflected both in your relationship and wardrobe, it’s important to make sure that you two are still connecting, even if it is in sweats.

Although it’s often said variety is the spice of life, I think a guaranteed date night with your spouse might be the ingredient you need for a spicy marriage.  I know it’s not very exciting to schedule romance, but when you have kids (of any age) at home, it’s a necessity.

For example, Tuesday night, after the kids are in bed, make a pact to power off your iPhone, Kindle and computer and have time together, without outside “noise”, as I call it.  In our house, that means popping open a bottle of wine, cuddling up on the couch and watching a TiVo’d episode of Mike & Molly.  For the record, it’s amazing how great anything on TV can be when you get to watch it without one kid doing a cart-wheel in front of the coffee-table, while another uses the fireplace poker as golf club.

It’s far from sexy, but I’ll tell you, it’s those moments Scooter says he misses most when he’s on the road.  It’s not necessarily the “bown chicka bown bown” moments, but rather the everyday things he misses.

Just for one night, don’t worry about the dishes or opening the mail, trust me, they’ll both be there in the morning.  Focus on just “being” with your better half.  No matter what you’re doing, you’re connecting and sharing a moment.  I often think there is too much pressure to do something “fabulous”, especially when you’re juggling all that you are – husband, kids and work.  I happened to think it’s pretty fabulous just to do nothing sometimes, as long as you’re together.

Raising 3 kids and a dog doesn’t leave a lot of time for Harlequin Romance novel moments.  I think as women we worry about recreating those nearly impossible fantasies — keep in mind, men don’t read those books!  They read Sports Illustrated and Newsweek…at last check, Fabio hasn’t graced the cover of either.

It goes without saying that if time, money and schedules weren’t an issue, you’d be getting dolled up and going to candlelight dinners a couple of times a week, but the reality is, that only happens when you’re a contestant on a reality show.  In my opinion, that’s why 99 percent of those relationships don’t last.  Real life isn’t filled with private jets and pomegranate martini’s, it’s about microwave popcorn and a bottle of Merlot from Trader Joe’s.

As for the electronic devices I just requested you unplug, use those to stay connected when you’re not together.  Put those high-tech puppies to use and start rekindling some old puppy love.  Text each other during the day, send a little email or call just to say a quick “hi”, no heavy conversation, just a little “hey, hope you’re having a great day”.  I love it when Scoot sends me an email that says “just thinking about you”.  It’s simple, takes only a second, and definitely makes me smile.  When he travels for work, I sometimes put a post-it in his Dopp kit that says “miss you already”.   Both things are free and easy to do.

Then there are the daily tasks you can take turn into sweet nothings.  For example, Scooter usually sets up the coffeemaker before we got to bed, so the coffee is ready when we get up.  Once in a while I surprise him and have it ready to go before he can get to it.  It’s surprising how cool he thinks that is.  And when he removes all the decorative pillows from the bed (including my side) at night, I dig it!

Turn the little things into surprise moments when you can and you’ll start connecting on a lot of levels.  Scooter and I are FAR  from perfect when it comes to this stuff…reading the above, you’d think we have it all figured out!  Trust me, we don’t, the important part is that we keep trying.

Cheesy?  A little, but I love cheese and don’t trust anyone who doesn’t!



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Hungry Husband Help

Posted on January 23, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Home, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Dear Lora,

I am a terrible cook and a busy working mom.  Every night I limp by in the kitchen serving my family tragic meals of chicken fingers or mac and cheese.  My husband grimaces when he sees the meal and constantly rides me about becoming a better cook.  That would be great it I had the time and energy, to take on one more thing, but I don’t.  Help!

Hectic & Hungry

Dear H & H,

I’ll bet you squirm every time you hear the old “The way to a man’s heart is through is stomach”, don’t you?  The pressure that one line has put on all of us is huge.  Although that can be countered with “Diamonds are a girls best friend”, the reality is, men expect us to cook everyday, while we never expect diamonds, right?

Case in point: my husband, Scooter, expects me to cook every night of the week, except 2 – Friday, when he plays hockey and isn’t home for dinner and Saturday, which is date night, where I’m allowed to super size my #4 meal.  Romantic, I know.  Honestly, I’m happy eating anywhere someone else is doing the dishes, or wiping done the trays, as the case may be.

The other 5 nights of the week, I have to come up with the menu, of course no one in my family ever offers up any suggestions, but are all quick to complain the minute the food hits the table.  Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

No matter whom you’re married to, I’ve come to believe our husbands expect us to do it all – cook, cleaning, caretaker and co-bread winner.  The reality is, it’s just not possible!

I don’t care who you are, or how well you think you’re doing it, if your plate is that full, something needs salt.  Unless, of course, you don’t sleep, but then you’d be a vampire and we all know, thanks to those Twilight movies, even they have to hunt in the middle of the night for food – yuck!

Bottom line:  It’s impossible to be Martha Stewart, that’s why there’s only one.  Who else could plant her own peas, paint the pantry and plan a 5-course meal all in one day?  The reality is, she has an entire team of creative folks helping her keep up the façade.  And, here are a couple of key ingredients to her recipe for doing it all:  1.) She doesn’t have a husband or 2.) Small kids at home!  Unfortunately, the picture of perfection she’s created has caused quite a conundrum for the rest of us common chicks.

So how do you let him know it’s nearly impossible to be Rachel Ray (who, by the way doesn’t have children) every night after work?  Before you hit your boiling point, I suggest cooking up a plan.

I’m going to guess your husband isn’t a culinary wizard in the kitchen either, so I recommend choosing one night a week, where you, your hubby and possibly kids, all learn to cook together.  It could end up being a fun family night and helpful for all of you.  Thursday would be good, as most men are starting to mentally settle down work-wise around Thursday night – don’t select Monday, as that would likely be a recipe for disaster!

Despite my aforementioned comments, I suggest picking up a book like “Martha Stewart’s Cooking School: Lessons and Recipes for the Home Cook” – yes, Martha Stewart!  It’s a highly rated beginner cookbook, which she probably didn’t write by herself anyway.                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Before you suggest this appetizing adventure, I’d figure out a way to approach it in guy terms, try using the word “team”, instead of you and I, tell him you have whipped up a tasty “game plan”.  Let him know you’re willing to learn how to cook, but would really love it if it was something you could whip up together.

I would also suggest making the night before a take-out night, where you pick up dinner, instead of trying to cook.  Nothing fancy, maybe just pizza and salad.  Next thing you know, 2 of your 5 weeknights are covered, leaving only 3 that you need to stress about.  Hey, it’s a start.

If it sounds boring to do the same thing every Wednesday or Thursday, keep this is mind, schedules create sanity.  Especially in men and children, when they know what to expect, things just run smoother.  Although men would like us to believe they like to be surprised – they’re probably taking about being surprised in another room in the house, not the kitchen.

Once the mystery is taken out of cooking, it’s actually a lot of fun, especially if you have a small army of elves who can clean up after you; in our house they’re called the kids!

And there are other benefits to cooking up a storm — in my kitchen I use it as an indirect line of communication, sometimes even warming one of Scoot’s cold fronts.

For example, if I make fish, Scoot assumes I’m upset with him, and candidly, sometimes I am.  He can’t stand fish or mushrooms, so if either show up in a dish, he knows he’s in the doghouse.  On the other side of the menu, if I make something he loves, like chicken and dumplings, he assumes I’ve used the credit card a bit too much and am looking for leniency.   Both have a surprising success rate.

And here’s the good news, you don’t have to learn how to cook like Julia Child to make a big impression.  In fact, sometimes, it’s the presentation that makes the meal.  Here’s what I’ve learned from my mom Norma Jean, put away the paper plates for a week and use real dishes.  N.J. has always said anything you’ve spent time cooking deserves a real plate.

Stick a tablecloth (one you can toss in the washer) on the table and light a couple of candles.  It’s amazing how much better food tastes when you light a 10 cent votive!

To help you start your culinary crusade, I’ve included a super simple recipe my whole family loves.  This spaghetti tastes exactly like the one made from scratch N.J. has made my entire life.  Since I don’t have time to let sauce cook all day I’ve created my version – enjoy!

Dear Lora’s Super Simple Spaghetti

1 lb. of ground turkey or beef

2 Jars of your favorite pasta sauce (I use Paul Newman’s Sockarooni)

2 T. of sugar

¼ C. of whipped cream cheese

1 whole bay leaf

1 box of your favorite pasta, cooked according to the directions on the box (I use whole grain thin spaghetti)

Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large pot, brown meat and drain.  Return to heat and add sauce, sugar, cream cheese and bay leaf.  Stir until well blended and the cream cheese has melted.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until ready to eat.  Remove bay leaf, pour over pasta and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread.

If you’re trying to avoid carbs, microwave a spaghetti squash, use a fork to remove the strands and substitute for pasta.

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Ex-tramarital Email

Posted on January 16, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Relationships |

Dear Lora,

Last week I received an email from the wife of an ex-boyfriend.  He’s a man I haven’t seen or had any contact with in over 16 years.  She informed me that she in the process of divorcing him and wanted to know if she could talk to me for a few minutes.  I have never met this woman and I don’t have a clue as to how she even got my email.  It’s a complete mystery why she wants to talk to me.  I moved on from that man the day I moved out.  Should I reply to her request?

Ex-tremely Uncomfortable Email

Dear Uncomfortable Ex,

Don’t you wish that instead of hearing “you’ve got mail” when you turn on your computer that it would send warnings like: “you’ve got problems” or “you’ve got to avoid this one sister”?!?  It would certainly come in handy, especially for this email!

Let’s start with the obvious – this isn’t typical behavior on the part of your ex’s soon to be ex.  This is where we recite my mom, Norma Jean’s favorite saying: “we need to pray for her”.

This woman is clearly hurting and looking for some sort of validation with her decision to leave this man, a man you once left yourself.  I totally get that.  However, reaching out to a complete stranger to discuss one of life’s most difficult moments — unless you’re paying 100 bucks an hour to talk to them — isn’t the greatest plan.

Most of us usually look to our closest family and friends for support, even then, we know which ones we can trust with our secrets.  I my case, I call my sister Tre, who wouldn’t give information to the FBI unless she was subpoenaed and dragged in front of a judge.  But if it’s something I need on the front page of the paper, I call our family town crier – I won’t mention her name here, for obvious reasons.  You most likely know who your “go-to” and “avoid” folks are as well.

In my opinion, an average person wouldn’t want to hand out that kind of information to someone they don’t know – thus, I’d be leery of emailing back.

My guess is that she’s doing the old “misery loves company” search.  Looking up former flames hoping they give her some fuel for her fire.  I say head for the hills and change your email, okay you don’t have to change your email, but at least make sure her address is moved to your spam folder.

I have always been leery of people like this, because honestly, if she’s willing to air her dirty laundry to anyone who will listen, I think that’s odd, and not odd as in “that’s an odd choice of clothing”, but rather that’s ODD!  Pretty much the only time you can get away with telling a complete stranger your problems is when you’re on an airplane and know you’ll never see them again, even then, chances are high they’re going to think you’re weird.

My policy, anytime a relationship ends, it’s for a reason and you don’t need to get caught in the middle.   Since it sounds like you have a clean break from him, and I’d leave it like that.  If you reply, you’re only asking for trouble.  I honestly don’t think any good can come from it.  And, if you happen to be in a relationship, I’m sure your significant other wouldn’t be thrilled to know you were getting involved in an ex-tramarital email exchange either.

Unfortunately, I know all about this type of person.  Although we’ve been divorced long enough to see 4 presidential inaugurations (and we’re coming up on a 5th in less than a year), to this day, my ex-husband can’t help but tell anyone who will listen what an awful person I am.  Here’s the kicker, we weren’t even married that long!  It’s a small world and once in a while the dirt will make its way back to me.  I don’t care, in fact, I’m completely perplexed as to why he’d waste time on such an old subject and so are those who are on the receiving end of his nutty banter.

He even did what this gal is trying to do to you – he contacted an ex-boyfriend to have what he hoped would be an “I hate Dear Lora” bashing session.  Despite how well he thinks it went, my former beau thinks he’s odd, just as I mentioned above  – because honestly, who wastes precious life minutes on that stuff, especially with someone you hardly know?  I don’t have time to get the laundry done around here, let alone spend any time focusing anyone else’s piles of clothing, I can only imagine what it would be like to try to fold it!

I’m sure your curiosity must be driving you crazy!  Remember, you probably already have a really good idea why it didn’t work with them, because you’ve already bailed on this guy before.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize why she is doing the same.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t feel for her or send good vibes her way, but whatever you do, don’t contact her.  This is a can of worms – easy to open, but nearly impossible to close.

One more thought, if she needed your to help with some part of her divorce case you would be contacted by her attorney.  If that happens, then I would suggest returning his/her call.  Otherwise, I suggest deleting this ex-treme email.

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iHop’n To Meet Mom

Posted on January 9, 2012. Filed under: Couples, Family, Parenting, Relationships | Tags: , , , |

Dear Lora,

Over Christmas break my husband, kids and I made our yearly trip to Texas to visit his family, where I get to watch him play the role of the “good son”.  It’s usually pretty hilarious, but this time something really bugged me.  Here at home, I can’t ever get him to go to breakfast on the weekend, but there he was Mr. Morning!  He would jump right out of bed to meet mommy at iHop!  Whenever I suggest iHop around here, I get “I don’t eat that stuff!”  In Texas, he goes from sleeping, to in the car racing toward iHop in about 6 minutes!  I’m so frustrated!  Why will he do this for his mom and not me?

iHop’n Mad

Dear Hopping Mad,

As our mothers have always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  I’ll take it a step further and say when it’s a son meeting his mom for a stack of shortcakes, this saying takes on a whole new meaning.

If he were bouncing out of bed to meet up with an old flame, I’d say you have every right to bombard him with a list of burning questions.  But since it’s your mother-in-law, you may want to put the matches down.

I don’t mean to make light of this link, but you can’t look at it the same way you would another women who would be considered a threat to you.  Although, there are plenty of times when mothers consider themselves “competition”, I don’t think your case seems to be one of them.  Trust me, I know all about men who are enmeshed with their mothers – but that’s a column for another day.

Your iHop’n hubby is most likely doing what his business card says: Perfect Son.   That’s the title on the card your mother-in-law carries around with her, right?  Mother’s and son’s have one of the most complicated, and, in my opinion, least understood relationships going on the planet.

How many times have you turned on the news and seen parents standing by their blatantly guilty children?  It’s because they can’t see past the complex bond.  Admitting their kids have an issue could mean there’s something wrong with them, so the cycle keeps going ‘round and ‘round.  Who can forget watching convicted killer, Scott Peterson’s mom defend him?  Now, imagine what the mother of a man who was to chicken to toilet paper another frat house in college thinks of her son – he’s a rock star in her head!

Your husband no doubt feels the obligation to keep his “Good Son” image going, as his mother is one of the few in the world who think he’s perfect, or pretty close to it.  You should hear my mom, Norma Jean, talk about my brother, you’d think he was at The Last Supper, he has total disciple status in her book.

Back to breakfast, most men feel some sort of pressure to maintain their position in their families of origin – I’m going to use the iHop menu to help to explain:

Let’s start with the basic combo:  If your husband is like mine, who happens to be the baby of the family, he’s super secure in his place in the bloodline and he doesn’t feel much pressure from his mom.  To me, this is just about the best spot a man can have, I describe his maternal relationship as the “Simple & Fit”, it’s around 400 calories and doesn’t need any frills.  Although his feeling of obligation to her is a little less than most men, he still responds to her needs and definitely plays the role of the youngest to a tee!

On the flip side, you have hubbies who swing to the other extreme, maybe they are the oldest boy, or worse, the only boy in the family – Egads!  I would most definitely put those men in the “Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity” category, which means they not only requires a lot of real butter, but the syrup has to be poured on thick when he meets his mom for brunch!

Most men are somewhere in the middle, most likely ordering the Two x Two x Two.  Basically a step above the low frills, but with much less butter and syrup.

Despite the varying degrees of complexity for this mother/son alliance, there is a common thread — his mother is most likely his first love and oldest flame, which comes with an unspoken obligation to keep the fire burning.  For the son, this means moving the logs around the fireplace to make sure embers keep glowing or, in his case, meeting her for a meal at her favorite spot to let her know she’s still loved.

Men have been told what to do, when to do it, how to act and most definitely what to eat by their mothers their entire lives, so it’s no wonder she gets to call the shots on where and when they will have pancakes and eggs.

As wives, we are (hopefully) seen as their partner, and not a parent.  Which means your sidekick feels like he can express himself with you and say “I hate eating there” knowing you most likely wouldn’t debate him on it.  Where as he knows his mother might take offense to someone bad rapping her favorite restaurant, or anything else.  See what I’m saying?

As the husband, he has more freedom to express himself, as the son, he’s trying to make sure he’s not hurting her feelings.

I know what you’re probably thinking…why don’t our husbands give us this consideration?  It would be FABULOUS if they gave us half the forethought they do their mothers, but in the majority of cases, they just don’t.  For one, it’s a lot of work, and for the most part, men are basic creatures, they don’t like muss or fuss and will take the easiest way out when possible.  Thus, you and I are usually left with their raw and honest answer, while mom gets the sugar-coated one.

So see, it’s not about his love for you, it’s about how he manages showing love for his mother.   I suggest letting this go, it’s not worth the energy, and honestly, if you tried to explain to him the abovementioned examples, he most likely wouldn’t undesrtand what you’re trying to get at.  It’s not because they’re dumb, it’s because “it’s complicated” and men, no matter how many advanced degrees they have, they don’t do “complicated” well.  I’ll bet most don’t even realize the emotional dance they’re doing with their mom.

If all your husband has to do is meet her for an inexpensive breakfast once in while, I’d say that’s a Grand Slam — wait, wrong restaurant — at any rate, count your blessings!

Be grateful she wants to meet at an iHop – honestly, she could be iHopping over to your doorstep every Sunday morning expecting you to cook!  Can you even imagine how difficult it would be to try to whip up one of those stuffed French toast combos?

I say wish your man and mother-in-law a hardy bon appetite and go grab yourself a Starbucks and a new pair of shoes…you can afford them if he keeps meeting her there!

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