To Sit or Squat: That Is The Question

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything.  I mean, I’m good at a bunch of things, really good at a few other things, even really, really good at one or two things, but a true expert at something?  Probably not — unless you count my extensive familiarity with public restrooms.  As the owner of a small bladder, a sufferer of an autoimmune disease, leaky gut and IBS, a cardholding member of the “childbirth-ruined-my-pelvic-floor” group and someone who drinks over a gallon and a half of water daily, I make it my business to know where the best public bathrooms are at all times.


Public restrooms are my jam!

While incontinence is one of the joyful gifts of motherhood and aging, my small bladder issue has been around since I was a kid.  Case in point: Each summer, my sister, parents and I would pile into the car and drive from New York to Massachusetts to spend a few weeks with our cousins.  Apparently, my sister and I requested frequent pee stops along the way, resulting in a family “joke” that the Dewey girls know where all the good bathrooms are between NY and MA.  As a child and definitely during my wilder (read: intoxicated) college days, I’m sure I was less discriminating than I am today.  Thankfully, I’ve matured — even though my bladder hasn’t.

Over the summer, my Facebook feed was flooded with articles about public bathrooms:  How you can’t catch STDs by sitting on a public toilet; how toilet paper over a soiled seat isn’t helpful; even a plea from another blogger for everyone to just sit down already.  Ummm, NO.  As a frequent public urinator and opinionated blogger myself, I stand firmly in the squat camp.  Or rather, I squat firmly.  Either way, you get my point.


This is not too far off from the truth … and yes, I also use my foot to flush the handle.

Yes, sometimes I experience a rogue stream that has a mind (and aim) of its own.  Sometimes when I’m rushing, my squat is too high and I splatter a bit.  Sometimes on leg days or double workout days, my toilet hover is shaky and so is my stream (I blame my trainers, Kim and Mike, for this).  And yes, sometimes there’s even an unfortunately timed need for a public bowel movement.  But none of this means I’ll be sitting on a public toilet seat anytime soon, despite what a fellow blogger and various columnists recommend.  The solution isn’t to sit on a dirty, public toilet (even though studies prove many other surfaces carry far more bacteria than a public toilet seat).  The solution is simple: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STALL.  Turn around, face the toilet and make sure you didn’t leave a mess in, on or near the bowl.  And if you did, CLEAN IT UP.  Wipe the seat.  Flush the toilet.  Pick up your tampon wrapper and toilet paper.  It really is that simple, ladies.  Basic hygiene + proper bathroom etiquette + common courtesy = PROBLEM SOLVED.

You’re welcome, America.


Make Bathrooms Clean Again!


My Tuesday Truth

Sometimes, the universe is trying to tell you something.  Sometimes, you have to listen very closely to hear it. Sometimes, it smacks you in the face.

This morning, as I got the boys off to school and prepared for my day, I had the TV on.  I never have the TV on.  Really — Never.  It was tuned to Good Morning America and, while I was mostly ignoring it, my attention was grabbed when I heard Michael Strahan introduce a mommy blogger.  Intrigued — and frankly, a bit envious. How can I get on GMA as a mommy blogger? — I stopped to watch.  Ilana Wiles was talking about her new book and how she is embracing being just an average mom with an average life.  No labels, no judgement, no Pintrest-worthy family photos, crafts or meals.  Mediocrity at its best and not feeling bad about it.  Her trick is to maintain a selective memory, i.e., choosing to remember the positive and letting all the other crap fade away.  I feel ‘ya, sister!  I say it all the time to my girlfriends and I write about it in this blog, but I don’t always live it.  I compare, I judge, I complain, I bitch.  All too often, I focus on the negative instead of the positive.

Later in the day, I had a scheduled phone consultation with a holistic health and wellness coach.  She asked about my concerns, my goals and what’s holding me back … Um, where do I start?  We only have an hour, right?  So we talked about my autoimmune condition and my related food needs, my workout routines and writing schedule, my daily challenges and current coping mechanisms.  I told her how I start my day with a few yoga stretches and mindful meditation, but that zen feeling is gone as soon as the kids are up — Then it just snowballs from there.  When I confessed that I often feel burdened and overwhelmed, I was forced to face a few self-truths that I’m not especially proud of.  Like my unusually high standards for both myself and my family.  Add in the guilt I have for feeling unsatisfied, resentful or ungrateful at times, and it’s not a pretty picture.  Her advice was to release the guilt by changing my language and cutting myself some slack.  I need to practice using kinder, more positive words to frame my world so that I can begin to change my mindset.  Once I do that, I’ll feel the shift.

Wow!  It sounds corny, but when I hung up the phone, I felt lighter.  More at peace.  It was as if I was finally given permission to be nicer to myself.

The universe was sending me a message today and I heard it, loud and clear.  Hopefully, I remember to listen tomorrow.



The Circle Of Life: When A Beginning and Ending Collide

Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Eighth grade and fifth grade, respectively — Their last year in middle school and elementary school, also respectively. And from what I hear, it started the same way that last year ended … With each of them chasing down the school bus before it left our neighborhood. Sigh! At least they’re consistent.


First day of 8th grade — Yes, he ran after the bus with his shoelaces untied (photo courtesy of my husband).


Pre-bus chase smiles on the first day of 5th grade (photo courtesy of my husband).

I, too, am consistent. Last year, I cheaper out went green and sent the boys to school with the previous year’s backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes and unused school supplies. I did buy them new underwear and get them fresh haircuts as part of a family tradition, but this year, I didn’t even do that. I know, I’m a horrible mother. I did replace their moldy, torn lunch boxes, but other than that, the start of the 2016-17 school year looked a lot like the end of the 2015-16 school year. At least that’s what my husband tells me. I don’t really know for sure because I wasn’t there. I was in Boston.

As my boys were saying hello to their new teachers, I was saying goodbye to one of mine. Virginia Delaney was truly a remarkable woman who taught me, through her life example, that it’s not your situation or circumstances that define you, but your attitude. She lived life to the fullest every day, laughing, joking and making the people around her feel loved. From the outside looking in, she lived a storybook life: Married for over 60 years with 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom loved her dearly. A world-class traveler, veteran theatre-goer and the consummate hostess, my Aunt Virginia was simultaneously sophisticated and casual. She was a true beautiful soul. But beneath all the joy was a fair amount of darkness. From caring for a husband with Parkinson’s Disease to six separate battles with cancer and a few other challenges along the way, my Aunt Virginia never let on when she was sad, angry, hurt or grieving. Her approach was to always remain positive while fighting like hell. She was as tough as nails and as sweet as they come until the very end.

We all have our burdens to bear in life and Virginia Delaney had her fair share. But she handled every one of them with grace, dignity, class and strength. My father, her youngest brother, is the same way. I only hope that it’s hereditary because this is a life lesson I want to master and pass on to my kids. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can always alter your attitude about it.


Yesterday was both a beginning and end for my family and me, filled with both great excitement and even greater sorrow. But if I know my aunt, she would want me to focus on the joy instead of the sadness, so that is what I’m trying to do.

Rest in peace, Aunt Virginia.



I Used To Be Fun

I recently read an article in the New York Post (so take it with a grain of salt) about how parents (at least those from Manhattan and Long Island) are letting loose while their kids are away at sleep away camp.  And by loose, I mean wild.  As in no-clothes-allowed rules at home, sex in the kids’ bedrooms and drug-fueled threesomes, wife swaps and orgies … You know, the usual.  Wait, what?!  Are people my age really doing this?  According to those interviewed, yes.  They see it as their second chance to do all the things they didn’t get to do before they had kids.  Um, okay.  My boys have been away for two weeks (big ups to Mom and Dad, Denise and Peter — thank you, thank you, thank you!) and the wildest things I’ve done are triple workouts, an afternoon massage and dinner out with friends.

I used to be fun.  Not coke-and-Molly-laced-sex-party fun, but stay-out-all-night, dance on bars, ride mechanical bulls fun.  You know, normal fun.  But that was B.K. — before kids.  I think when I gave birth, my fun genes came out with the placenta.


That’s me, riding a mechanical bull in Texas back in the day … See, I really was fun.

If you ask my kids, I am not the “fun mom.”  I’m a “rules mom.”  My sister’s a fun mom.  My friends Paula, Mary Liz and Kathy are fun moms.  But I am not a fun mom.  I’m too serious, too scheduled and too strict.  In a (hyphenated) word, I’m high-strung.  Every now and then, I let my freak flag fly and the boys, after the initial shock wears off, love it.  Embarrassing dance moves in the kitchen, randomly thrown flying rubber pigs in the family room, spontaneous trips to the creamery — that’s about as crazy as it gets for me.


Fun these days means old-school roller skating under the Ben Franklin bridge in Philly with my kids.

Truth is, I don’t want to be the fun mom.  It’s not who I am and I’m okay with that.  At 44, I’m not trying to impress anyone or be someone I’m not.  I’m just trying to be the best version of myself, one day at a time.  Some days I succeed and some days I fail, but I’m always trying to be the best mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter and woman I can be.

I hope my boys know that I’m trying.  Even on those days when my yelling sucks all the fun out of the room, I really am trying.



Why I’m Not Proud of My Two Champions

It’s been more than a month since my last post and I am shamelessly blaming my kids for my cyber absence.  They’re always around now!  School’s out, our schedules have changed and we’re still not really in a good rhythm because each week is different.  Except for travel lacrosse.  The three travel lacrosse team schedules we juggle have been pretty consistent since late May and after two months of practices, six tournaments, three states and three Championship titles, I am happy to say that we just wrapped up the summer season.  It’s a little bitter-sweet, but I am ready to move on and enjoy some pool/beach time.

It’s been a successful run.  Despite losing this past weekend in the Championship game, my boys collected three “Champion” t-shirts between them.  Apparently, winners’ t-shirts are the new thing.  No more medals that are thrown in a dresser drawer, never to be seen again.  No more trophies that get placed on an already crowded shelf, only to collect dust.  Just simple, cotton t-shirts emblazoned with the tournament logo and the word “Champion,” received gleefully and worn immediately upon receipt.  I don’t know who decided to move away from the useless hardware and hand out clothing instead, but he/she is a genius!


Tournament win #1 , NXT Meltdown (2024)


Tournament win #2, Philly Showdown (2024)


Tournament win #3, National 175 Best of the Best (2021)

Case in point:  During the winter, my younger son’s rec league basketball team won their division.  Each member of the winning team was given a yellow “U” hoodie.  The coveted “U” hoodie, to be precise, because everyone in the district knows that only champions can have those sweatshirts.  My then-9-year-old wore his for 12 straight days before I was finally able to peel it off his body to wash it.  Again, genius!


The coveted “U” Championship hoodie, 03/2016.

Speaking of champions, the Tarr boys were on a bit of a streak this year. In addition to the aforementioned winning basketball season and two of the three summer lacrosse titles, my 4th grader’s CYO flag football team was undefeated, he advanced to the semi-finals of the Philadelphia Archdiocese CYO meet in the 800m and he ran the lead leg in the 4x100m at the historic Penn Relays.  As for my 7th grader, no coveted hoodie this year, but his middle school football and lacrosse teams were undefeated, his middle school basketball team finished with a winning 9-3 record while his rec league team lost in the semi-finals and his CYO team won their division.  And to cap it off, before his 13th birthday, he placed 4th in the shot put at the Philadelphia Archdiocese Championship meet.  Thankfully, there were a couple of losing teams mixed in to keep their egos in check, but overall, it was a good sports year for the Tarr boys.

Here’s the thing, though … You won’t read about their wins on my Facebook feed or Twitter account.  Why not?  I have three simple reasons:

  1. I don’t like redundancy. Before we’ve even walked off the field or out of the gym, someone else has already posted a team photo and congratulatory message on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, so there’s no need for me to do it, too.
  2. My boys are not winners alone.  It takes a team to win championships, not one individual (with the exception of their track and field accomplishments).
  3. I’m happy for them when they win, but I’m not actually proud of them for winning.  I think there’s a subtle difference.

It may be harsh, but my kids really aren’t that special.  They are 10 and 13.  Occasionally they do something great, but most of the time they’re just normal kids.   Yes, they are athletic, but I won’t praise their natural talents.  I prefer to focus on their effort and attitude … Did you practice and prepare?  Did you try your hardest?  Did you play fair?  Were you a good sport/polite/well-behaved (the latter two applying to school, not sports!)?   Did you have fun?  These questions apply on the field and in the classroom — and in life, in general.  Being good at something and having natural talent is wonderful, but it only gives you a head start.  Dedication, drive and passion are what set champions apart.

In addition to handwork, a true champions always displays good sportsmanship.  This year, I watched my older son somberly embrace his goalie after a tough loss, my younger son gleefully chest-bump a teammate after his first basket (which came during the final game of the season) and both my boys routinely shake hands with and thank the referees after their respective games.  Those are the moments that made me the most proud of my boys.  Yes, there were plenty of brag-worthy highlights for each of them that made me happy, but it was their honest displays of unity that warmed my heart.

Every game offers life lessons.  I hope my boys are learning to be compassionate, caring, hardworking leaders.


Proud mama with one of my champion good sports.


A Plea to Empty Nesters (and Those Soon To Be)

It’s graduation season and my Facebook feed is filled with congratulatory posts and sentimental memories from friends and acquaintances with older children (read: kids graduating from high school or college).  Each one of these posts is eloquent and heart-felt, filled with emotional remembrances and remarks of children growing up in the blink of an eye.  It’s touching and beautiful, but I can’t fully relate because I’m not there yet.  My boys are still in grade school and middle school, respectively, so right now I’m still in the weeds.  With two kids under the legal driving age, my life is mostly dictated by their schedules, needs and desires.  At this point in time, life with kids can still be time-consuming and exhausting, mundane and thankless, even infuriating much of the time.



I love my boys and I love doing for them, but I’m also not afraid to admit aloud that having young children sucks sometimes.  Granted, it’s easier than having babies (I do not long for those days, as I attested to last year around this time — read about it here), but it can still be onerous.  So to all you soon-to-be empty nesters, please stop telling me to “enjoy this time” and “cherish the moments” because “they grow up so fast” because — and let’s be honest here — when you were in the thick of it, you didn’t want to hear that either.

Think back … You remember the drudgery and monotony, the sheer exhaustion and the utter frustration of life before your children were grown, don’t you?  All those nights fighting about homework?  All those hours driving to and from practice?  All those weekends sitting for hours at a ball field somewhere, secretly wishing for a rain-out or tournament elimination every now and then just to get a break?  I’m sure when your kids were young, you just wanted to live through another day, another phase, another sports season, another school year, just like me.  But now as your offspring are getting ready to fly the coop, you’ve romanticized those early memories, remembering only the triumphs and successes, the honors and awards, the sweet snuggles and adorable little faces.  I don’t blame you.  As a matter of fact, I envy your ability to focus only on the positive recollections and blur out those less-than-stellar times.  Someday, I’ll be able to do that, too … But not today.


I couldn’t have said it better myself — although, I would’ve used proper punctuation.

In a few short years, when I join your empty nesters club, I’m sure I’ll be just as sappy and nostalgic as the next mom.  But right now, I’m just trying to survive puberty and travel lacrosse season, hoping it goes by quickly and painlessly.  Wish me luck!



Happy Mother’s Day to All the Okayest Moms Out There

Today is Mother’s Day — at least for another hour or so.  I know this because my Facebook stream was filled with posts from just about every woman I know announcing her unconditional love for her children and declaring her own mother to be the world’s best.

I did not make a similar Mother’s Day proclamation and here’s why:  I, too, love my kids unconditionally — but they also piss me off on a regular basis.  And I, too, think my mom’s the greatest — but she’s far from perfect.  I’m not saying this to be mean or unloving, I’m just keeping it real.

You see, I’m not in competition with anyone on Facebook or the real world for that matter.  It’s all relative anyway — relative to your life and your world.  I’m pretty sure my kids would not call me the world’s greatest mom and I’m okay with that.  I know — and more importantly, they know — that I’m doing the best that I can.  I’ve given up trying to be the best and am working on being my best.  Some days I succeed and some days I don’t, but each day is another day to try.

So I’m dropping the superlatives and celebrating all us moms who fail daily, but keep trying … Because even the world’s “okayest” moms deserve praise on Mother’s Day.



A Shout Out to My Sideline Sisters and Bleacher Bros

Anyone with kids who play youth sports knows that in order to survive a long season on the sidelines, you need to have your network — a group of like-minded parents who make sitting in the stands more enjoyable.  Whether it’s sharing an umbrella in the rain or snuggling under a single blanket in the cold, cheering our kids to victory or commiserating about yet another loss, having a good set of parents on the sidelines can make even the most unbearable season bearable.

Let’s be honest.  Youth sports isn’t all fun and games.  Long hours, extreme weather, crazy parents, unbalanced teams … It can be downright brutal some days.  And because alcohol is frowned upon at youth sporting events, you need a good group of sideline friends to get you through.  This circle of companions often varies with each team, although there can be some overlap, which only makes it stronger.  If you’re lucky, your network remains unbroken as the kids get older and friendships are forged in the off-season.  For me, with two sports-loving, athletic boys who play a variety of sports for a multitude of organizations, I spend my fair share of time at a host of fields, courts and tracks.  Consequently, I currently have 13 respective networks to get me through the year:  Two football networks (two kids, two teams), six basketball (depending on the team and the kid), four lacrosse (again, depending on the team and kid), plus a track and field network that I’m still developing.  Some groups are big and some are small, but each provides me with a sense of camaraderie and community that I cherish.

Case in point: U11 spring lacrosse — my younger son’s team.  Despite having played lacrosse since he was in kindergarten with pretty much this same group of boys, my fourth grader’s team isn’t very good this year (for a variety of reasons).  With double-digit losses each week, we’re off to a rough start.  I’m not one of those parents who makes a big deal about wins and losses, but one win would be nice … or at least a smaller deficit loss.  Honestly, some games have been painful to watch!  And while it’s no fun to lose, it is fun to watch with my sideline sisters who’ve been with me for the past five years.  In the words of Billy Joel, “We might be laughing a bit too loud, but that never hurt no one…”


Me (second from right) with some of my U11 spring lacrosse sideline sisters — Emily, Mary Liz and Tonia. (April, 2016)

So as the spring sports season chugs along, be sure to bring your sunglasses, water bottle and support system to each game.  It really is more fun that way!


Sorry, Not Sorry … The “No Post” Post

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that my posts are sometimes serious, sometimes snarky and sometimes nonexistent.  Occasionally, I miss a week here or there (like last week).  I’m sure you’re disappointed when you don’t get to read some pithy piece by me each week, but while I won’t apologize, I will explain.  Missing a post usually falls into one of four categories:

1. I’m busy (sort of) – Running the house and kids’ schedules is hectic, but manageable most days.  In between getting the kids off to school, going to the gym, running errands, chatting with girlfriends, shuttling kids to practices, cooking dinner and doing housework, I usually have time to write.  But things are heating up around here because I’m bringing home the bacon once again with a new freelance gig that has me on a deadline.  Let the juggling begin!


2. I’m distracted – I’m not sure if I’ve become a master procrastinator in my 40s or if I have developed adult-onset ADD, but either way, I have days when I jump from one thing to the next (depending on my mood) and have trouble completing anything I’ve started, including blog articles.


3. I’m negative – As the saying goes, if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.  Well, some weeks that’s why I don’t post.  My goal is always to end each piece on a positive note, but sometimes I’m in a funk and that silver lining is harder to find.  Sometimes, silence is golden.


4. I’m uninspired – Simply put, sometimes I’m just not feeling it.  Some weeks are very mundane.  Nothing exciting happens and nothing grabs my attention enough to write about it.  If a piece feels forced, I won’t publish it.  My heart has to be in it.


* BONUS EXCUSE – The kids are home.  Snow days, flood days, in-service days, half days, vacation days … These are all synonyms for “No Writing Days.”  ADVANCED NOTICE: Next week is Spring Break around here, so I doubt I’ll be writing/posting.


When I started this blog two years ago, I was determined to approach it like a (part-time) job.    I wanted to be taken seriously as a professional writer, so  I set up my “office” in our home study, parceled out a desk drawer for my files and bought a slew of pretty notebooks (I’m an old-school, pen-and-paper kind of girl).  I scheduled set working hours and established weekly deadlines to keep me accountable, focused and on task.  This was my plan and it worked for a while … until it didn’t.

Missing a (self-imposed) deadline to post a new piece used to upset me a lot.  It caused me stress and anxiety, made me bitter towards my family and disappointed in myself.  Not so much any more.  I may be momentarily disappointed and briefly annoyed, but I’m learning how to move on from the negative feelings and cut myself some slack.  Accepting my Type A-minus personality and embracing my slacker side has made this task easier for me.  I recently met a fellow blogger (shout out to the Hyphenista) who told me she hadn’t posted anything new since October.  And while she wasn’t happy about it, she also wasn’t sweating it.  Her declaration made me realize something:  This blog isn’t just another obligation on my “To Do” list.  It’s my passion.  My joy.  My outlet.  It makes me feel sane and connected, and it gives me purpose.  It’s because of Gina that I remembered my resolve and now give myself permission to miss a week here and there without the old guilt or resentment I used to feel.  Life happens and no one’s going to die if there isn’t a new RosesAndArmpits post.  There may be tears, but no bloodshed.

So while I’m learning to cut myself some slack, I’m asking you to do the same.  I’ll do my best to post my weekly rants and life observations, but if I miss a week here or there (as I know I will next week), know that I’m sorry … Kind of … Well, not really, but I still love you for reading my blog religiously — as you should.


44 … Simultaneously Fabulous and F***ed Up


Happy birthday to me!

I stopped making a fuss about my birthday sometime in my 20s when it was no longer feasible, reasonable or acceptable to celebrate for an entire week.  Thus, last weekend when I turned 44, it read like most of my Saturdays in February — an early morning workout at home followed by a partner workout at the gym, two basketball games before a quick lunch and two more basketball games, family dinner with my guys then home by 9PM.  The birthday bonus: My mom drove down from NY to take us out to eat … and she brought cupcakes and presents.  Yeah, my mom rocks!


A little sad, but true.

I’m not one to get upset about turning a year older, yet when someone asks how old I am, it takes me about six months to answer correctly.  Not out of duplicity or embarrassment, just habit.  Remembering a new age/number takes me awhile.  The truth is, I’m glad I’m not younger.  I like being in my 40s.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin now … and my jeans, too.  I’m healthier, stronger and can do things that I couldn’t do 10 years ago — hell, even 5 years ago — like, bench press over 100 pounds and deadlift over 200 pounds.  I can even do a handstand!


Learning new tricks in my 40s — check me out!

Despite kicking ass in my 40s, it’s far from all roses all the time.  There are definitely some armpits mixed in that make 44 feel old, such as:

  • having to scroll waaaaaay down to find my birth year online
  • being called “ma’am”
  • having to pee as soon as I stand up
  • forgetting why I entered a room, opened the cabinet or opened a drawer
  • needing my glasses to read anything and everything
  • not being able to hear when people talk (but thinking a TV volume over 7 is deafening)
  • wrinkles!
  • needing to dye my roots every week and a half
  • having to check for chin hairs (thanks, early menopause)
  • fighting a slower metabolism (thanks again, early menopause)
  • being too tired to stay out past 10PM
  • catching myself singing along to Hall & Oats and Lionel Richie in the supermarket

Seriously, which is it?

But grooving in the grocery store and plucking chin hairs doesn’t make me wish for younger days.  I really like being in my 40s.  I may be older and have more gray hair, but I’m also wiser.  I know what (and who) I like and what (and who) I don’t.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I don’t care what other people think because I’m no longer trying to impress anyone — including myself.  I’m learning to embrace my imperfections and celebrate my Type A-minus personality in order to become a better version of myself.  I know I’m a work in progress and 44 is just the mid-way point.  I may not be looking forward to turning 50 in six short years, but if I can make it through early menopause and puberty with two boys, I can handle a silly little number.  Besides, I’ll probably keep saying I’m 49 anyway … out of habit.