The Beautiful Colors Fancy Club for BOYS!!!! <3

Last week our fabulous new neighborhood had a community-wide garage sale. Pippin and I, being the frugal parents we are, set out early Saturday morning, sipping coffee and hopping from house to house; introducing ourselves to our new neighbors and taking advantage of things like $2 jeans and $40 flat screen TV’s for the teenage boys room as well as household items like a lawnmower and a cruiser bike.
Yes, the glory of saving so much by avoiding retail and scoring these goodies was great. But everything combined didn’t compare to the impact of amassing boxes of My Little Pony and pint-sized pink and purple condos with attached doggie daycare salons. For $6, I couldn’t resist getting the whole lot of it, in hopes that at least one of the girls would still be game to delve into such childish fantasies.
So-Called Mom
Well it took about ten seconds for all of them to disabuse me of that notion. I got sucked into a mom-organizing vortex, and when I came up for air, I realized my five year old boy had been unsupervised for upwards of three hours.  Oops.
I found Leopold in his bedroom, with his inner little girl apparently awakened.  My little violent boy-child had swapped out all of his dinosaurs, Nerf guns and space ships for these sweet little girl treasures: neatly lining his shelves were pink and purple plastic rooftops, manicured storefronts, poodle slides and lace trimmed tabletops with matching napkins. Now, granted, a zebra doesn’t lose it’s stripes (he was yelling Get into your cage or there is no dessert! while forcing a baby into a cage with a hairdryer, ) – but it was a softer, gentler Leopold than say, the one who shoots an arrow into your face.


To be entirely transparent, the first thing that came to mind was: That’s a lot of girlie for a boys room. Maybe It’s just a novelty thing. But then I caught myself; I wanted Leopold to have access and permission to play with whatever interested him. I’m embarrassed to admit those were my first thoughts, and actually now am relieved to see this softer side of him. You go, Leopold! Take this fancy world by storm!!
So-Called Mom
We often inadvertently steer our children towards a specific gender with toys, and clothes and even playmates. That’s so obvious it sounds almost trite, but because the gender- appropriate messages surround us, you really have to stay vigilant to not feed into it. I certainly fed into it:  my boys had blue rooms; the girls got pink. Boys got trucks and girls got dolls.  Pants and dresses.  And then I wonder, how does this affect their nature? I mean, the direct opposite of what’s going on with Leopold has already happened with Pascal. Because she is KILLING it at the skate park where not just boys compete with her, but also grown men.
 So-Called Mom
Anyway, there’s mountains of books and articles written about this stuff and has been for years.  But I’m now seeing my own hoard of children in a new light, as little people who can teach me a thing or two about diluting the gender-specific dogma that constricts us.
 So-Called Mom
I know I’ll be encouraging more choices from here on out. And, I’m calling that $6 bucks, some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
Newly Neutral,
So-Called Mom

How to Treat Yourself Daily

I posted before about the importance of lingerie and feeling sexy, but I’d like to get underneath why it’s important, key pieces to purchase, and how all of it links to self care.
If you’re anything like me, your days are insane. We run errands marathon-style, eat while balancing a baby on one hip, are signing off on homework, supervising  special projects (and sometimes ending up doing them yourself), cleaning up spills and vomit and doing endless loads of laundry. That’s why it’s critical, and I mean critical, to wear something special underneath it all. I like to think of it as the mom version of the Wonder Woman costume.
So-Called Mom
Many women mistakenly believe that lingerie is for the men in their lives, or worse, only for women who don’t have kids. But I disagree. Lingerie is for YOU. It’s what can make the difference between feeling like a discarded piece of toast and my truly awesome self.
When you take the time to select something for yourself that is pretty and sexy and maybe even makes you feel like “Yowza! I look hot!” you are communicating to yourself: I am worth it.
So-Called Mom
What’s more, is not only am I worth it, but nobody has to know exactly why I feel so worth it. Trust me when I say it will translate on the outside. It makes getting dressed a routine that has become so much more than putting on underwear. It’s my daily discreet push towards increased self love.
So I’ll indulge in a so-called lingerie 101.  I’m not plugging a brand for any particular reason; it’s just my personal taste.  You’ll find yours.
While Victoria’s Secret is not an abomination, I don’t consider it lingerie. I just don’t feel special in their mass produced boudoir-wear. That’s not to say every piece I own is an expensive splurge, but there are pieces that exist that are fairly priced considering your sexy-mama ROI.
These are my top picks:
Expensive or not, the most important thing you can do is protect your investment. 
So-Called Mom
This means putting your unmentionables into a small collapsible soft pouch outside of your regular laundry basket when they are dirty.
Then, it’s time to welcome the regular ritual of Sunday lingerie washing with open arms. I wash them all by hand carefully using a detergent made by The Laundress, a mild  detergent that is so wonderful to work with, you’ll wonder where its’ been all your life. Just wash and hang dry. I suspend my lingerie above my claw foot tub, if anything, just so I can feel frivolous, important and maybe even a little bit French.
So-Called Mom
This ritual has been life changing for my Sundays, the day when most of our kids from our blended family transition to their other parents’ homes. It started out as a distraction from this huge weekly change, but now I absolutely need to do this, because it helps me feel worth it, feminine and most of all, like I’m spending significant time in self care mode. Which doesn’t just include a Sunday mask and extreme downtime/meditation—but also taking the time to prepare these beautifully designed little pieces for the week ahead. 
Like I’m asking them for a favor in return: You take care of me, and I’ll take care of you. A pact.
So-Called Mom
After they are clean, put them on display, make them front and center in your dresser, or give them a drawer of their own. Never fold padded bras with one cup flipped inside out, tucked into the other. Let them lie flat, against one another. Fold your panties special too, by tucking the left side and right side behind the front and folding the bottom to the back. Bows and lace out!
So-Called Mom
Hopefully by now, you don’t think I’m crazy. But there’s another layer to this. My girls have caught on. It won’t be long before they’ll be shopping for their own matching sets, understanding the subtle art of the underpinnings. To me, this demonstrates (early on) the importance of taking care of yourself—a value that is so personal, you can only understand it by trying it and seeing how you feel and how others respond to it.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your take. Time for a mood, booty and soul-sexy overhaul!
With or Without Garters,
So-Called Mom

How to Transform into a Fit Mom

I just hired a personal trainer—online. This goes against all my so-called principles; I rant and rave about the web/screen use feeding social detachment.  But here I am:  needing motivation to work out and not having time or money to have an in-person relationship.
I’m not a gym rat. I like to workout at home or outdoors. I need flexible times. And I’m not personally loaded.  I’m sure this all sounds familiar.
so-called mom yoga
Until now, I’ve been able to motivate myself.  I’m oddly disciplined about exercise, maybe given the decades of dance and yoga I’ve practiced.  I like to think I’m in pretty good  shape for having birthed five out of our seven kids, but I’ve plateaued.  I think it’s time to go the extra mile.  I want to see where I get in 4 weeks under this remote trainer’s dominating reign.
My reasons for going with Ainsley are simple. First, she reached out to me on Instagram and asked how she could help. I love that. Second, her website is remarkable. She speaks the truth about getting to the bottom of what you need to be eating for your body in order to feel great, in addition to looking great. She’s fierce (in the workout room, in menu-planning, in kindness). She’s upbeat and encouraging. What more could a So-Called Mom want?
I’d like to add that being a fit mom is a challenge in and of itself. But it contributes to my whole purpose for writing this blog: To put an end to the stories we tell ourselves about motherhood.  I want to change what having five kids looks like. I want to look ripped and have amazing energy and be able to drop jaws after saying: I’ve had five kids. I want to set the bar that moms can be fit and sexy and yes, put themselves first without feeling guilty. When you have kids, you are bringing them into your life. They aren’t bringing you into theirs. And keeping this perspective is better for everyone in the family—because you will never loose sight of yourself, and they will learn about self worth from the best example available: their mom.
So Called Mom Fitness
I also want to bust the “but I’ve had kids” myth. Having kids should motivate you—to look better, eat better and feel better. They are watching us, so be the change you wish to see in them. There is no time like now to get started.
So what do you say? Are we in this together? I’m so excited to share this journey with you. So let’s quit making excuses and let’s get fit, moms! We are only limited by ourselves. If I can do it, there is no reason you can’t.
Bring it on,
So-Called Mom

How to Parent a Budding Adult

Last Friday I posted something about my most recent frustration with my oldest.  Jake  skipped his mandatory advanced placement biology exam. When he got home, he met my wrath, which resulted in my giving him the silent treatment for the rest of the weekend.
But, as the eternal optimist, I do believe these moments allow relationships to become 10x stronger than they were before.
By Sunday, we finally sat down to talk, and the conversation was straightforward and simple.  We were both visibly upset—at ourselves and at each other. I lamented that I felt I had babied him his entire life, which resulted in his not being able to do for himself at anything – not even sitting for a damn exam.  He admitted he hated my pushing him constantly to do things he didn’t/doesn’t want to do.
I told him welcome to real life; we sometimes do things we don’t want to, because it helps us later. Overcoming difficult – or challenging experiences is the fuel for more trying times, and the strength to persevere.   And the trying times are always going to be there.
But that’s the boring stuff.
What came next was the icing on the cake—the crowning jewel on my ever developing relationship with a child that is really no longer a child anymore—but just about an adult.
At the end of our discussion he said: I’m really sorry I disappointed you.
And I blurted: I’m glad you did.
I paused for moment before finishing, because I wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say at first.
I’m glad you did. Because believe it or not, it is your job at this point in your life to disappoint me. Just like it’s my job to let you down, or watch you struggle. That is life. I have to push you, you have to push back. This is how the world works.
It all seemed so simple, and suddenly what happened Friday felt not only unavoidable but absolutely necessary. I’m always discovering and rediscovering different parts of parenting with him—likely because he’s my oldest. I had him when I was so young, at 22 years old—when the rest of my friends were still going to frat parties and scoring internships. We were both inexperienced and I’ve always cringed at the fact that I am learning how to parent using Jake as an example. I’ve made all the mistakes on him. So, the first kid should be disposable? I’m not so sure, because I wouldn’t ask for a do-over on any of these experiences, tough as they are.
So-Called Mom
So then, it’s fair to say we’ve been learning along side each other for almost two decades. Which means the Biology blunder on Friday was a part of his growing up. And that it’s possible that the sting I felt was really just my own growing pains in letting go.
Still Learning,
So-Called Mom

So-Called Cooking Vlog

My god I am the worst at cooking. And if there are any moms out there that think they can challenge me for this title, I will battle you to the death. Because I truly am the worst at it and I am both willing to accept the title and also laugh at myself over it—while striving to improve. Because I am the queen of taking perfectly fresh and tasty salmon fillets, and turning them into paper weights.
This puts me in a tricky spot because I have 7 young mouths to feed. Four of which are teenagers and are ALWAYS hungry and never stop chirping for food from the time they get up until nightfall, when I’ve resorted to stacks of toast and butter to fill their bellies. Poor Pippin gets tired of cooking the same old thing and we all get tired of eating it. He cooks not because he enjoys it, but because if he didn’t, we’d all starve to death or go broke from takeout. We are busy parents, so being creative is complicated in the kitchen.
But that doesn’t mean moving to suburbia doesn’t have me wanting to scratch that domestic itch. This new neighborhood has me living a braver So-Called Mom life. As a result, I’m not about to let the oven get the better of me. So I have decided to turn this ship around, and with the help of your new captain (me), and a handful of library-based cook books, we’ll be sailing into unchartered territory in the hopes of a happy landing, nestled onto a bed of greens and vinaigrette dressing.
See for yourself 🙂

Julia Child would swoon,
So-Called Mom
PS, Don’t forget to subscribe and comment below, I’d love to hear from you and also discover new recipes and recommendations. Thank you!