Top Ten Signs You Might Need A Vacation

10. You're having more tantrums than your three-year-old

9. Your morning routine is so rushed that you send your five-year-old to school with your coffee and open his lunch box on the commuter train

8. Your average off-to-bed look resembles the ensemble of a homeless clown

7. Your idea of a great night is falling asleep roughly 10 minutes after your kids

6. You actually did NOT make it out the front door fully dressed this morning

5. There are more wine glasses than sippy cups in your dishwasher

4. Everyone in your house ducks for cover when they hear your keys in the front door

3. It's been so long since you've had your roots done that your beautician is convinced that you're dead

2. You are so wound up from your back-to-back schedule that by the time you fall asleep each night, it's time to wake up and do it all over again

1. You feel like you've been to the spa when your kids "sleep in" until 6am...

Bend It Like Bikram (a.k.a. Yoga Parenting)

I was a late bloomer when it came to fitness. For most of my teen/young adult years, my idea of exercise was walking from the couch to the kitchen to refill my snack bowl during commercial breaks. I became an accidental athlete as I approached 30, with a move from drive-everywhere California to walk-everywhere New York City. Before I knew it I'd joined a gym, trained for a marathon and fell in love with weight training.

After several marathons and the ongoing marathon that is life with two-under-the-age-of-six, I decided that distance running was no longer my thing and ventured into the crazy world of Bikram Yoga. Now, instead of lacing up my running shoes, I sweat through 90 minutes of crazy hot yoga three times each week.

Bikram is defnitely not for the faint of heart. The room is heated to roughly 103 degrees with 40% humidity.  If you aren't properly hydrated, ate too much before class or drank like a fish the night before you're going to suffer. On the flip side, with such extreme conditions in the room (not to mention the postures themselves), you have no choice but to focus on yourself, focus on your breathing and stay in the moment and stay in the room. Unlike the grunty, chatty, dance-music-blasting scene at your standard gym, there is a strict code of silence in the Bikram studio. The only voice in the room is that of your instructor - walking you through the poses, encouraging you to stay in the moment.

There are many reasons that I've fallen in love with Bikram Yoga, but I think the silence is the biggest part. When a posture is particuarly challenging, there is no screaming or grunting. There is no beefy personal trainer screaming at me to "feel the burn". I also like the fact that every class, no matter what studio I go to, follows the same sequence of 2 breathing exercises and 26 postures. Every day is different, depending on my mood, level of hydration or how much sleep I got the night before - but I always know what's expected of me. And I love that the teachers emphasize the importance of being kind to yourself - it's yoga practice, not yoga perfect.

This morning during class, it dawned on me that many of the things that have drawn me to yoga can help me in the ongoing marathon of parenting. With our kids, especially when they're young, we go through the same series of challenges, frustrations and tasks. We must feed, clothe and nurture them. Keep them from killing their fool selves and ultimately help them to become the best version of themselves possible. Every day is different, deepending on if someone is sick, how much sleep they (or you!) got last night and whether they've eaten too much crap from the 50 birthday parties we attend each month. But, more or less, the challenges of parenthood are roughly the same every day.

There is no immediate payoff - you don't get the perfect yoga body after a week and you won't know how your kids turn out for 18+years - but you have to put the work in to get the results. Screaming (at yourself or the other folks in the room) when things get tough rarely helps, and often makes a tough situation even harder than it has to be. But when the challenge comes, focus on yourself, focus on your breath and remind yourself that you don't have to be perfect. Each day you have the opporutnity to practice - to try again. So you yelled at your kids this morning - let it go. Missed bedtime when the budget meeting ran long? Try again tomorrow. Your five-year-old is in the midst of a 20 minute tantrum? Breathe. Keep your mind on the end goal, steady your gaze, calm your mind.

Now, don't get me wrong. Roughly 10 minutes into every class I wonder WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING?  Every time I get a bad report from preschool, a 5:30am wake up call or end the day with yet another double meltdown I think the same thing. But, I'm learning that if I can slow down my thoughts and breathe I can make it through any posture - and any parenting predicament. It might not be perfect - it's usually not even pretty - but I know I can do it.

Makeup Mondays with D'Angelo Thompson

NUANCE Skincare and Cosmetics By D'angelo Thompson I must say BRAVO to Salma Hayek's new line called NUANCE especially the Moisturizing Day Cream with SPF 30 , it's hydrating and protects the skin with a silky finish. I'm a huge fan of the Blush Trio as well, it's in my make up kit and serves many purposes for eyes, cheeks and contouring. The price point is a little higher than most mass brands but worth the investment. Salma Hayek was actually one of the first notable celebrities I worked with years ago when she was doing a press junkit for Fools Rush In in San Jose, CA. She was lovely and very clear on what she liked and she morphed into the butterfly  I thought she would be!

Top 10 Things to NEVER Say to a Working Mother

10. But who's going to take care of the baby? (accompanied by a look of horror)

9. You must feel so guilty having a stranger raise your child

8. Does it make you cry when the kids ask for the nanny in the middle of the night?

7. I just don't think I could be away from my kids for THAT long every day...

6. Do you not like being a mother?

5. I guess some women just aren't wired to be "real moms"

4. Is your husband ok with that?

3. It must be nice to have so much "free time"

2. But how could you love your job more than your kids?

1. I guess it's good to make your own money. That way you'll  be ok when your husband leaves you...

Their Bad Mother

Apparently I am failing at this parenting thing. Failing, that is, if mothers were given a report card based upon the behavior of my children.

I understand that kids are not tiny adults, but little lunatics with the need to be programmed with the social norms and acceptable behaviors of civilized society. I understand that it is one of my jobs (in addition to loving, nurturing, feeding and clothing) to provide them with this social indoctrination through discipline, schedule, routine, incentives and punishment when required.

However, despite my best intentions, my kids did not get the memo.

Victor has apparently skipped the terrible twos and tumultuous threes and gone straight to the WTF fours (he always was an over-achiever and apparently is an extremely strong mimic of his big brother's behavior). As I mentioned last week, Angel has completely lost his damned mind with a combination of raging tantrums whenever and wherever he does not get his way (including home, preschool, gymnastics, playgrounds, places of get the picture) and an utter inability to follow directions. His focus in increasingly non-existent (well, focus on anything that HE does not want at any given moment), and my days are filled repeating his name and doing my best not to scream at the top of my lungs...or burst into tears.

My mother tells me that I simply need to let them know that this behavior is unacceptable. That there should be consequences. Clearly she must have been given the award for mother of the century because there are consequences-o-plenty at BadAssMama Central and my kids (particularly the big boy) have still not located their damned minds.

I see the looks of pity from the other moms in karate when the big boy is not behaving. The sideways glance from moms at preschool pick-up for the exceedingly bad mother of "that kid" when he once again throws a tantrum on the way out the door. The looks of sheer exhaustion from his teachers when delivering yet another bad report.

I would love to say that I care nothing about the opinion of others when it comes to my parenting skills. That my sole focus is on helping my kids to break out of the nasty pattern we've found ourselves stuck in, while reminding myself that I'm doing the best I can every day. I'd love to be able to say that. But I can't.

The truth is, I know that I am being the best mother that I know how to be. That my central operating principle every day is to help my kids to become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. That I am operating from a place of love, genuine concern and sacrifice for my family every day. I know these things make me a good mother, but I also know that my kids' current behavior pattern seems to make others think that I am not.

I shouldn't care, but I do.

And it sucks...

BadAssMama vs. The Furious Fives

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The Terrible Twos were not so terrible at BadAssMama Central. The Tumultuous Threes - a bit more taxing. The WTF Fours speak for themselves.

But NOTHING could prepare me for the Furious Fives.

Maybe it's just my kid, but let me tell you, the tantrums coming out of my five-year-old make me want to drown myself at the bottom of a wine bottle on a daily basis. The come on so unexpectedly, so vehemently that they threaten to knock me off my feet (if accompanied by the occasional shove or swift kick in the shin, they may do so literally). And they are completely unpredictable. What sets him off one day goes over without a hitch the next. An activity that always went smoothly in the past may spontaneously erupt into World War III.

The tantrums seem to center around getting his way. All. The.Time. In matters big or small, consequential or not - if the big boy does not get his way (or has the sneaking suspicion that he is not GOING to get his way) all hell breaks loose.

It's one thing if it only happened at home, but this behavior is starting to seep into preschool as well. He's been sent out of music class every day for the past week. Sometimes his behavior is so distracting that the teachers have to send him downstairs to the equivalent of the principal's office to calm down. When I first heard about this, I was mortified. It took everything in me to not burst into tears in front of his teachers. I made it to the car, then cried all the way to work.

After I took some time to think about it, I realized that part of my reaction was sadness that my son was being sent out of class for bad behavior - that he was missing out on prime learning time, or losing privileges due to his tantrums. But when I was really honest with myself, I realized that a big chunk of it was actually embarrassment. I was ashamed that my son was becoming "that kid" in class. I felt like it reflected badly upon my skills as a parent. That I was a failure for having a five-year-old who still threw crazy temper tantrums.

After coming to this realization, I decided stop worrying about anyone else's opinion or judgement. True, I want my kid to be able to learn and behave properly in class, and I certainly don't want him to prevent other kids from learning - but I wasn't going to beat him into submission to insure that he pulled it together in the last 25 days of preschool. It didn't take a month for this issue to start, so it's going to take time to work through it. My goal is to have this thing under control before kindergarten starts in the fall.

It's 8:06pm. He's been losing his shit since roughly 7:15. Wish me luck...

Beauty Mondays with D'Angelo Thompson

Face Off
by D'Angelo Thompson

If you've had the same mascara for more than 6 weeks, buy a new one. If you wear the same color foundation all year, time for a new one. If you wear the same blush and lipstick 365 days a year - even to the gym/yoga - time for new ones.

So, you get my point. Sometimes a little refresher in your bake up bag can make a 200% different. There are very seasoned artists in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks and even Target has a specialty approach to cosmetics. So get out there and play! Put your new "enhanced" face on!

Stop drinking from my cup!

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When I was little, my mother never let us drink from her cup.

Come to think of it, my dad didn't like it much either. Maybe it was the fact that no child is able to drink from a parent's open cup without massive amounts of backwash (my dad always said that we left "little criminals" floating in his cup). Perhaps it was the germs from whatever we decided to put into our mouths that day. Maybe they just wanted something of their own after four kids. Maybe I'm just reading to much into all of this...

While I think my parents' reluctance to share their drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) were mainly related to issues of nasty-little-kid-hygeine, I'm learning that life is much better around BadAssMama Central when I don't let anyone drink from my cup either. No, not just because it's frequently filled with caffeinated or alcholic beverages (while that's not a bad reason in and of itself...). It's really more of a metaphor.

I'm learning how to serve my family from my saucer rather than my cup (with credit to Lisa Nichols for the phrase).

Motherhood is tough stuff - exhausting, depressing, exhilarating, disheartening...often within the same 20 minutes. In order to bring the best that we have to our families each and every marathon-of-a-day, we need to fill our own cups as much as we refill the sippy cups of our little ones. Each day, I'm learning to look for ways to feed my soul, refill my gas tank, give myself a break so that I have more to give to my family than a screaming banshee of a mother who counts down the seconds until bedtime.

It's easy to tell when I'm serving my family from my cup rather than from my saucer. I feel depleted, resentful, more-irritable-than-usual. When I'm saving enough for myself, protecting my inner reserves while doing my best to care for them, I'm more able to do it from a place of love that leaves me energized. I'm able to actually enjoy the madness and appreciate the beauty within the crazytown that is life with two-under-the-age-of-six.

So, thank you mom and dad for never letting us drink from your cup. Whether you realized it or not, you taught me a very valuable lesson - one that might just help me get through this parenting thing without ending up on the 11 o'clock news.

Boys are from Mars

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I think that my children may be aliens.

Or robots. Or transplants from another dimension where logic is a crime punishable by death, and all instructions must be repeated three times at VERY high volumes before they are responded to...and then ignored.

Either that, or they're just completely and utterly insane.

I really don't understand them. Their preferred mode of transportation is running at top speed, head-first, with little regard to what dangers might lie ahead. They scream and make poop jokes at the drop of a hat. They communicate in what must be a deranged form of near-twin language, because half the time I have no idea what they're saying yet they seem completely in sync with each other at all times.

I have tried to understand their motivations. How they can repeat the same action over and over and over again, get into trouble each time, yet STILL continue to pursue the same path. Why they can get in trouble at school at 2:37 and have absolutely NO MEMORY of the incident by 2:45. How I can repeat my self over and over and over, yet they still cannot seem to stop what they are doing and follow a simple direction.

Maybe it's me.

Maybe I'M the one that's from another planet. Maybe what I have understood to be logic and sound reasoning for near forty years is actually utter lunacy, and my kids are simply putting up with me and my feeble-mindedness. Perhaps I'm not communicating clearly, or what I thought was plain English is some undecipherable code - like pig latin, but far more annoying.

It might be me. It's more likely them. In either case, the mommy-to-three-and-five-year-old-boy communication line is clearly broken. I am willing to hire an interpreter. A crazy-baby whisperer. The Long Island Medium. Anyone who can help me figure out how to get through to my tiny lunatics before they steal what little is left of my patience...and my mind.