Sunday, October 26, 2014

Not just another blog post

Some bloggers don't share enough and some share too much. I tend to retreat from my blog when things get difficult in my personal life because part of my healing process is (regretful) over sharing. This is why you may have noticed the many posting hiatuses over here at Rockland Mother over the past few years.

So, here I am again after another hiatus and, forgive me as I'm going to forgive myself, but this is one thing I feel I need to over share: I am getting divorced.

Ugh. Its really painful to write that for all the world to see. Though over half of marriages fail these days, we of course never imagine we'll find ourselves in this terrible predicament. We hear about celebrities getting married and divorced every day and it seems like cake; sign the paper, move on. But, really, it is so much more awful than that.

First, you beat yourself up and second guess yourself about all the things that you may have done wrong or could have done differently. And, honestly, you'll beat yourself up about these things long after the papers are signed. Even if you've tried most everything to save your marriage, there'll be a little voice that says "If I had just done everything he/she had wanted, maybe we could have stayed together and been happy!" Man, that little voice is an asshole.

Second, especially if you've been in a particularly tenuous situation for a long time, you may find yourself dealing with some anxious and/or sad emotions that truly and honestly suck. Some days you'll feel like you are ready to move on and take the bull by the horns. Other days, you'll try on your wedding rings or look through your wedding album and cry silently to yourself so that your kids don't hear. Each day is a surprise party of emotions that you may or may not welcome. Surprise! Your future will not turn out as planned! People around you will tell you to "get over yourself" or "just deal with it," and you won't be able to make them understand what it feels like to be just one when you were two.

If you have kids, be prepared for you heart to be torn into shreds on many different occasions. You will worry about them when they are not with you. You will worry about them when they are with you but are missing the other parent. You will worry about what their future will look like as children of divorced parents (i.e. you will have nightmares of them ending up in prison.) You will find yourself overcompensating for the parent who can not or does not want to be there.

Your children may say things to you like "I wish mommy and daddy and my brother and me could be all together." And, even though you know that that scenario wouldn't be in anybody's best interest, you can feel your resolve slipping away. You'll want to run to the courthouse and rip up the papers. "Stop this ride! I want to get off!"

You'll look at the person you probably still love and you may try to be as nice as possible, but divorce brings out the ugly in people. You'll only be hurt again and again if you expect kindness to always come your way.

Oh, and if you're Catholic like me, you'll worry about your immortal soul.

Its sounds horrible, right? Well, its all this and maybe some more. BUT, I take heart from so many people who have survived this. They may be changed, but they still go on and, at this point, moving forward is the only way to go. I will let the little moments of happy sustain me until there's only mostly blue skies ahead. I will savor every little kiss and "I love you. I always want to be with you." from my little boys. I will sing when I like and I will try to remember that the Earth continues to spin.

Thank you for listening and, if you have been or are in the same spot, please know you are not alone. A little over sharing can sometimes make us feel better. I know I do now. xo

Friday, October 3, 2014

Giveaway! Kidstuff Coupon Book for Westchester, Rockland & Putnam

Its that time of year again! New fundraisers seem to magically appear in my sons' backpacks each week, and, while I'm always a fan of gift wrap and chocolate, the KidStuff Coupon Books are always a huge hit with family and friends. Not only do they contain coupons that I find myself using all year-round, but 50% of the $25 purchase price goes directly to the fundraising school. Plus, its buy 5 get 1 free, which I always try to take advantage of.

This year, the folks at KidStuff were very kind to send me--and possibly you!--the latest Westchester, Rockland and Putnam coupon book for review. The coupons this year do not disappoint, from kid's interest stores/services such as Babies and Toys "R' Us, Carters, the Lego Store, and the Children's Place, to A.C. Moore, Macy's, Carvel, Modell's, Planet Wings and much, much more.

There are hundreds of dollars of savings in these books, at local stores that we actually patronize--definitely worth the $25 and a worthy fundraising options for schools as well. And, if you don't live in the Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam area, KidStuff offers coupon books in 22 different areas in 12 different states.

So, do you want your own KidStuff Coupon Savings Book for Westchester, Rockland and Putnam? Just write a comment below by October 7th at 11:59pm. There will be two winners chosen at random. Good luck and happy couponing!

For more information on KidStuff, including a sampling of coupons available and fundraising opportunities, visit KidStuff online at

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Giveaway! Best Supporting Role by Sue Margolis

Summer is in full swing and you need a fun book to read by the pool. Lucky for you, NAL has generously offered Rockland Mother a giveaway copy of Sue Margolis' latest cheeky Brit novel, BEST SUPPORTING ROLE, just out this month. (Shock all those pool-goers with the risque cover!)

Here's the synopsis:

When her gambling addict husband died, Sarah Green was left penniless—and with two children to raise. Since then, she’s been desperate to keep her professional and personal lives on firm financial footing. And what could be safer than dating an accountant and working at a non-emergency crime help line?

But then Sarah’s aunt dies, leaving Sarah her once famous—now flailing—lingerie shop. With her fashion background, Sarah reluctantly decides to make a go of it, even if that means breaking up with her too-prudent boyfriend over the risk.

Suddenly Sarah finds herself falling for Hugh, the handsome struggling actor she hired to renovate her new boutique, and entering a prestigious lingerie competition. Taking chances has never been her forte, but the built-in support of family and friends could give her the boost she’s been looking for...

TO WIN: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm on July 13th. Best of luck! 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Cure for the Common Breakup by Beth Kendrick

Sometimes a novel is more than just a novel. Sometimes it lifts your spirits and helps you get through a rough spot in your life. THE CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP by Beth Kendrick is one of those books--and its not just because the novel starts with a recipe for a cocktail (although, that does certainly help!)

NAL TPB; May 2014 
Summer Benson is a flight attendant whose life literally crashes and burns when her almost-fiance breaks up with her immediately following a near-fatal emergency landing (not cool.) With bruised bones and shattered dreams, she heads off to the only place she's hears can numb the pain--a tiny little seaside town in Delaware known for healing broken hearts. 

And Black Dog Bay really is just what the doctor ordered. The locals know exactly how to help the broken-hearted go through the stages of breakup grief and emerge victorious. Heck, there's even a clothing boutique with outfits arranged in healing stages (start with mumus; end with mini skirts.) And with Summer making friends with the hilarious locals, pursuing the hot mayor, and even tangling with the oldest and wealthiest town curmudgeon, it seems possible that her old wounds may heal and the future won't be so painful after all. 

THE CURE FOR THE COMMON BREAKUP just made me happy and hopeful. Kendrick's writing is fast and witty and she makes everything fall into place as it should--and sometimes you just need that in a book. The novel really is as delicious as the ice cream on the cover, even though maybe it should have been a colorful cocktail on the cover instead! 

*WIN YOUR OWN COPY! Comment below and I will select a winner at random. The contest will run until Monday, May 12th at 11:59pm. Good luck! 

NAL provided me with a copy of this book for review and giveaway. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: The Island of Doves by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Berkley; April 2014; $12.16 at Amazon
Do not let the demure painting on the cover fool you--Kelly O'Connor McNees' THE ISLAND OF DOVES packs quite a punch! I absolutely LOVE this novel. It is one of those rare books that can't put down and whose ending leaves you in pain pining for more.

THE ISLAND OF DOVES is set in 19th Century America, when the grand houses of the wealthy, newly-established Americans stood in a fascinating but fading co-existence with the camps of the Native American peoples. Susannah Fraser belongs to the first group, living in one of Buffalo's stateliest mansions amongst her fine china, jewels, servants, and a husband who spares her no love or kindness.

Following a particularly violent encounter with her husband, a Catholic sister offers Susannah a means of escape. She boards a steamboat across lake Huron toward Mackinac island and toward Magdaleine Fonteneau, a woman hell-bent on securing Susannah's freedom for her own reasons.

Magdaleine is a truly compelling character and based loosely on one of the most successful fur-traders in the Northwest Territory--Magdaleine Laframboise. McNees' Magdaleine is a wealthy fur trader too, widowed while pregnant with her first child and forced to take the reigns of her late husband's business. She is of direct French and Native American descent, like most of Mackinac's inhabitants, and she can row a boat or tap a tree as well as any man. She also volunteers her time selflessly to teach local girls how to read the catechism. But she struggles with showing any love or maternal instinct toward her now-adult son, and also coming to terms with the tragic death of her two sisters.

These two women--vastly unalike--manage to save each other. They weather many storms, including the possibility that Susannah's husband is on the hunt for her, not always with grace, but with a hearty tenacity that is the hallmark of pioneer women. I found this inspiring! By no means do men play second fiddle, but it is clear that the women in THE ISLAND OF DOVES can take care of themselves and each other.

This expertly-realized pioneer spirit, along with the most natural of dialogue (a difficult task for any author) and a plot that moves at a perfectly addicting pace, makes THE ISLAND OF DOVES a must-read in my book. I truly hope that Kelly O'Connor McNees will be writing a sequel so that we can all find out more of what happens to Susannah, Magdaleine and the crew. In the meanwhile, I've been inspired to do a bit of historical research into this era in American history--thanks for the inspiration, Kelly!

*WIN YOUR OWN COPY! Simply comment below and I will select a winner at random. The contest will end on Monday, April 14th at 11:59pm. Good luck!

Berkley provided me with a copy of this book for review and giveaway. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Adorable Deliciousness -- Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts (West Haverstraw,NY)

Red Velvet Cake in a Jar  *spoon originally
attached with twine. Super sweet!
This weekend I got to meet Eva, the owner of Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts in West Haverstraw, NY. Besides being drawn over to her vendor booth by her wonderful personality, her table was filled with the cutest little treats! She had rice crispy treats on a stick, pie pops, and a beautiful fondant-covered cake. But I was drawn most in by her awesome assortment of cakes in a jar. Cakes in a jar!! Can you just imagine the party favor possibilities?

Eva makes these cakes in a jar in so many delicious cake and frosting flavors I can't even recite them to you, but think along the lines of red velvet, mocha, coconut mandarin chardonnay (yum.) Check out her website for a full menu and pricing:

$5 for a 4oz Cake in a Jar
Eva so generously gifted me with a red velvet cake in a jar with buttercream frosting and it was great! While I would order cream cheese frosting with my red velvet cakes (which Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts can certainly provide), I thought the red velvet cake itself was super delicious. And I can just imagine rows of these little cakes in jars set out on a table at a party as favors or as part of a dessert bar.

So check out Bella Sophia Sugar Crafts if you're in the market for something beautiful and yummy for your next gathering.  I know that I'm looking forward to tasting more of her treats! You can also visit on Facebook and check out her amazing cakes with beautiful sugar flowers and expert sculpting work (I love the Super Mario Minion cake!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

How To: Homemade Refrigerator Build-A-Robot Magnets

Sometimes you need a quick and easy craft on a lazy day; one that doesn't require messy paint or excessive drying time. That's exactly what these refrigerator build-a-robot magnets are. I got the instructions to make these magnets from my super-talented friend and best-aunt-ever Kate over at Katy Kakes. Pick up the supplies next time you're at the craft store and save this activity for a rainy/snowy day!


You will need
Adhesive Backed Foam Sheets (we got the sparkly kind)
Adhesive Backed Foam Shapes (optional) 
Adhesive Backed Magnets
Thin Cardboard or Sturdy Cardstock 
Glue (optional) 

1) Cut the adhesive back foamed sheets into shapes to be used as part of the robots' bodies. Big squares and rectangles can be used as robot torsos; long rectangles can be arms and legs; semi-circles and squares can be heads, etc.

2) Remove the adhesive backing from the foam shapes and attach to your cardboard or cardstock. Use your scissors (an exacto-knife would work too) to trim the sturdy backing to the foam shapes.

3) Remove the adhesive backing from your magnets and attach to the back (cardboard/cardstock) of your robot parts. You will want to trim your magnets down into small squares if you bought them in large sheets.

4) Decorate your robot parts with additional foam shapes to make faces, buttons, etc. If you don't have pre-cut foam shapes, you can cut out your own from your foam sheets. You may also want to dab some glue onto the backs of your accesso1ry shapes as the adhesive foam seems to lose its stickiness after a while when attached to other foam pieces.

5) Play with your build-a-robot magnets on a refrigerator or metal cookie sheet!


And that's it, folks! I cut out all the shapes, since my oldest is only four, but both of my boys had a ball sticking the foam to the cardboard for me and decorating the robots. Andrew even came up with his own designs to make the robots look like Transformers (I was impressed!) 

You can also cut out any other shapes that you want. Dolls with interchangeable dresses, cars, geometric shapes, etc. There really isn't a limit to how creative you can get with this craft, and best of all its simple while still being a lot of fun. 


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Book Review: Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster

New York Times bestseller Jen Lancaster has been on my radar for ages, having made a critically-acclaimed transition from writing hilarious memoirs (Bright Lights, Big Ass; Bitter is the New Black; Such a Pretty Fat) to writing hilarious novels (If You Were Here; Here I Go Again.) Yet, surprisingly, her newest novel, released on Tuesday, is the first I've read!

I am so glad, though, that TWISTED SISTERS (Berkley Hardcover; February 2014) has finally introduced me to the self-proclaimed governor of "Jennsylvania." This novel is quick-witted and sarcastic, yet ultimately full of whimsy and heart--and I can see now why Lancaster has such a loyal following. 


TWISTER SISTERS stars Reagan, an over-achieving, over-exercising, over-critical middle sister from a working class Chicagoan family. Reagan believes she has risen far above her upbringing, having landed a job as a television psychologist on a successful cable makeover show. And she can't help but constantly criticize her two sisters' less-than-glamorous lives and wider waistlines. 

However, when Reagan's television program is bought by a big network, and she's forced to up the ante at work or face being fired, the judgmental sister begins her slow, painful decent from her high horse. Forced to resort to the highly unethical and supernatural art of body-swapping (yes, body-swapping) to save her job, she begins to see that she is really the unhealthy and unhappy one. But it may just be too late for her to save her reputation, her job, and, most importantly, her relationship with her sisters.


As I began this book, I had a bit of a struggle looking past Reagan's bad attitude. Bluntly, she is a bitch and she constantly, cruelly insults her sisters' appearances and their lives. I wondered "will I care enough about this protagonist to keep on reading?" Yet, impressively, Lancaster has written Reagan in such a way that while. you hate her, you DO want to keep reading--if only to see if there is any hope of her being redeemed. I actually cared about seeing her learn the error of her ways. And, when she of course does, its in a really great way.

Bitchiness and harsh body-weight jokes excluded, there are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in this book. Lancaster is known for this, and for tying her hilarious comments in with current events and celebrities, and it made for a really fun read. I especially loved the characters that were based on celebrities, including Reagan's first boss who is Oprah-esque and her TV patient who is a dead-ringer for Amanda Bynes (poor, crazy girl.) 

Now, the body-swapping plot might seem like its kind of out of left field, but not much time is spent on it, really, and Lancaster makes it work. Plus, she ties the book up in such a warm and fuzzy, yet unexpected and non-cheesey way, that all the pieces fit perfectly. I finished this book with a smile on my face, and that's a win in my book. 

You can check out more from Jen, including her book tour dates, at her website, Happy reading! 

I was provided a copy of this novel from Berkley Books. All opinions in this review are my own. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Book Review: Perfect Timing by Laura Spinella

Berkley; November 2013
$15 list price / $11.98 on Amazon
I really enjoyed Laura Spinella's PERFECT TIMING (Berkley; November 2013). Spinella's second novel not only often made me giddy like a teenager-in-love, but it also kept me engaged with a plot chock-full of lovable characters and an excellent social statement to boot.

Isabel moves to Alabama from New Jersey following her parents' divorce. Her solace in the midst of this turmoil is a local boy named Aidan, who grows into an amazing singer-songwriter and, eventually, Isabel's crush. She doesn't realize the strength of her feelings, however, until Aidan is accused of a violent crime which forces them both to flee to Las Vegas. It is there that events are put into play that will change their lives forever--and tear them apart. 

Seven years later, Aiden has become an enormous rock star and Isabel has a serious boyfriend and a comfortable job at a New England radio station.. Aidan and Isabel have not spoken since they parted ways in Vegas; that is, until a change in the station's ownership has Isabel scrambling for a concert headliner. The only way to save the station is for Isabel to reach out to Aidan, but will the unfinished business in their past get in the way of the task at hand?

Welll, of course it does, but I won't give it away! What I will say is that Spinella has a talent for writing romantic scenes that evoke those "squee!" moments --and it's oh so much fun to read.

But this book isn't a romance novel--it's fiction--and the bulk of the novel is outside of the love scenes and is very engaging as well. The flashbacks to Aidan and Isabel's teenage years are coming-of-age great and Aidan's evil music agent is so fun to hate. I also can't tell you how much I enjoyed how Spinella wrote the relationship between Isabel's father and his husband, Patrick. It was a tender view into the lives of two soulmates--and I think the utter normality of it was truly a beautiful thing to read. 

My only tiny critiques? I got tired of all of the characters using the full name of the radio station when talking. It is a mouthful and people just don't talk like that. Also, one of the most anticipated love scenes is interrupted by a conversation about birth control! Is it a realistic conversation? Sure. But don't halt a big moment like that with a discussion about mechanics, please? 

Regardless of my nitpicking (sorry Laura!), I encourage you to go pick up a copy of PERFECT TIMING. It's a really great read from an author with a really promising future. Happy reading (and squee-ing!)

Penguin provided me with a review copy of this book, but the views are my own.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Toy Review! Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots

I like to think of myself as a cool mom for a boy to have. I have two brothers myself, so I grew up with an appreciation of boys' toys; especially those of the 80s and 90s. My Barbie didn't have a horse--she rode on He-Man's panther! And I still remember all the Ninja Turtles' names and the weapons they carried.

So, I was really happy when Andrew developed a love for Transformers Rescue Bots when it debuted on the Hub almost two years ago. Its a preschooler-friendly version of the beloved Transformers franchise, and it of course has cool toys to go along with it from Playskool.
First edition Boulder the Construction
Bot becomes a bulldozer in one step

Back when we started collecting these transformers, they didn't even match up exactly with the autobots on the show. They were produced from an earlier concept and the colors and human companions with each bot were not always correct. Of course, it was only my geeky self that cared about this. My 2.5 year-old loved them and I owe a lot to the early rescue bot toys for occupying him right after my second son was born.

So what's so cool about these Rescue Bots, aside from the fact that the cartoon they are based on is light on violence? Well... THEY TRANSFORM IN ONE EASY STEP. I emphasize this with such gusto because any parent with transformers-obsessed children can attest to the tears and frustration that come along with trying to transform the toys geared toward older children -- and I'm talking about the parents! No more tears, folks. These toys are perfect for the recommended 3-6 year-old age group, and I venture to say that younger kids will love them too (my 20-month-old plays right along with his big brother.)

In vehicle mode, all the Rescue Bots have working wheels and Blades the helicopter has a working rotor, but there's really not any articulation to the head, arms, and legs of the toys in bot mode. I really don't view this as a negative as extra articulation would have mean extra transformation steps--and my kids are more interested in wheeling the cars around and transforming them back and forth thank gesturing with their arms.

We still play with these toys and their accompanying fire station on a regular basis. And, after being everywhere from in the pool to in the sand, they are still in pretty good condition. Sure, we've got some rust and paint melting on the toys that got wet (lesson: don't get them wet), and Optimus Prime lost one of his wheels in an stomping accident, but I'm pleased these plastic toys have held up for two years in the hands of two terrors.

Boulder Energize
We bought the first edition Rescue Bot toys for about $12.99 each through Each of the eight first edition toys (Chase, Heatwave, Blades, Boulder, Bumblebee, Optimus Prime, Hoist and Medix) are still available online, but you may pay a pretty penny for one that's in short supply. Medix, for example, is $60 on Amazon!

Blades Energize
There is, however, a second generation of toys called Transformers Rescue Bots Energize that you can buy for anywhere from $11 to $18 in stores and online. These toys are equally as easy to transform and feature blue "energize" details and weapons. Your kids will love them and you should get them--but if you're a bit of a geeky mom like me, you might want to keep your eye out for price-decreases on the originals so you can have them in your collection too.

Rescue Bots, roll out!