This past summer, I went to a night at a local, Portland bar to see a show organized by friends of friends. “Blumesday" is a live reading and a celebration of all things Judy Blume held annually in Portland and Los Angeles.
They had me at Judy Blume. 
The performances were all inspired by favorite Judy Blume books in some way or another. And they were hilarious and touching and brought back SO MANY MEMORIES. 
If you can finish this sentence “We must… We must….” then you would have loved it too. 
Since the show, I’ve become friendly with the Blumesday producers and asked them what I could do to help them promote their brilliant project. It turns out that they are now inviting everyone to submit their own memorabilia, ephemera and juvenilia. 
Specifically, they are looking for Blume-inspired:• diary entries• photographs• vintage edition book covers• 3 ring binder art/doodles/scrawlings, poetry, etc
and
• any little thing  that conveys Judy Blume or the awkward/intense late childhood through adolescent phase that Blume so lovingly details
I think this is important and want to repeat it. 
They are looking for things that “convey the awkward and intense late childhood through adolescent phase.” 
That’s what was so good about the show! It was part nostalgia! Part Judy Blume love! And part SHARED AWKWARD EXPERIENCES!
Is there anything better than that? I mean, I don’t know about you but I didn’t go through an awkward stage. I went through awkward stages. Plural.
So, if you want to be a part of Blumesday, go to their Blumesday Facebook page. Even if you don’t submit,  share the link with your friends. And do it by the end of September. 

This past summer, I went to a night at a local, Portland bar to see a show organized by friends of friends. “Blumesday" is a live reading and a celebration of all things Judy Blume held annually in Portland and Los Angeles.

They had me at Judy Blume. 

The performances were all inspired by favorite Judy Blume books in some way or another. And they were hilarious and touching and brought back SO MANY MEMORIES. 

If you can finish this sentence “We must… We must….” then you would have loved it too. 

Since the show, I’ve become friendly with the Blumesday producers and asked them what I could do to help them promote their brilliant project. It turns out that they are now inviting everyone to submit their own memorabilia, ephemera and juvenilia. 

Specifically, they are looking for Blume-inspired:
• diary entries
• photographs
• vintage edition book covers
• 3 ring binder art/doodles/scrawlings, poetry, etc

and

• any little thing  that conveys Judy Blume or the awkward/intense late childhood through adolescent phase that Blume so lovingly details

I think this is important and want to repeat it.

They are looking for things that “convey the awkward and intense late childhood through adolescent phase.”

That’s what was so good about the show! It was part nostalgia! Part Judy Blume love! And part SHARED AWKWARD EXPERIENCES!

Is there anything better than that? I mean, I don’t know about you but I didn’t go through an awkward stage. I went through awkward stages. Plural.

So, if you want to be a part of Blumesday, go to their Blumesday Facebook page. Even if you don’t submit,  share the link with your friends. And do it by the end of September. 

(From the archives.)
Let me start with an admission. If I worked in a restaurant and saw a mom walk in with her three little children – her three little boys – I would try not to make eye contact. I’d yell, “Not it!” to my fellow servers. I’d take up smoking… so I could duck out the back door. 
But that’s not what happens at my IHOP. (And I call it “my IHOP” even though I only go there every couple of months.) Not only does the waitstaff not run away when I walk in with my two little boys and baby, they actually seem happy to see us. We get high fived. We get fist bumped and slapped on the back. We get treated the way Snooki must get when she walks into her local tanning salon.  And, don’t forget, they have syrup at IHOP – five syrups on every table. I have three children who each have ten fingers. That’s thirty potential sticky fingers. And, we get high fives, fist bumps and slaps on the backs when we walk in. 
Last time, Chris waited on us. Sometimes it’s Sebastian. Other times it’s Romel. Let me tell you about Chris, Romel, Sebastian, and their manager, Anwar: the staff at Charlie Trotter’s, Jean Georges and Le Bernadin don’t hold a candle to these guys when it comes to customer service. And, from what I hear, none of those places have free crayons either.
I was there pretty recently. I strolled in with my boys at eleven thirty in the morning. It was a Saturday. Have you ever eaten breakfast outside of your home? 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday is prime time. Every table is taken. Every seat is filled with hungry people who want to stuff their faces with reasonably-priced bacon, eggs and pancakes.
Chris took our order – went to the kitchen – and then reappeared. He wanted to know if my sons could do him a favor. Could they help him carry the plates from the kitchen to our table when our order was ready? Could they? Could they?! Could Mary Richards light up the whole world with her smile? Heck yeah! They said yes and then we waited. We even called my husband to tell him the good news. 
While we waited, a thought occurred to me. The plates were going to be hot. Maybe too hot? What if my kids hurt their fingers? I debated whether or not I should pull Chris aside. Had he thought about how hot the plates might be? My children use their fingers all of the time. Please Chris, don’t burn my kids’ fingers! 
And while I mulled over whether or not to talk to Chris, I glanced at my three year old. He was about to explode. The anticipation was almost too much for him. He had the same look on his face that he did after his third birthday party when he learned he was going to get another birthday party the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that too. (“You mean, I get another one?!”)
Chris came to get my sons. “Are you ready?” he asked them. And so, my three year old and six year old walked with Chris to the outside of the kitchen. He handed each of them a plate. I winced. (“Please don’t let them burn their fingers.”) And they walked. Slowly. Happily. Carefully. They reached our table. They were each holding a tube of yogurt upon their plates. They were only holding yogurt. Chris was carrying the plates with the hot pancakes. He didn’t want them to burn their fingers either. 
Pictured: Sebastian and Chris.
NOTE: Should I point out that I am not being paid by IHOP? I am not employed by IHOP. I don’t make any money if their stock (are they public?) shoots up today as a result of this post being published on my blog which is read by fourteen zillion people. I don’t eat for free at IHOP. In fact, when I go to IHOP, I barely have time to eat. But, that’s the fault of my kids. Seriously. Let me eat in peace, guys. Please. 

(From the archives.)

Let me start with an admission. If I worked in a restaurant and saw a mom walk in with her three little children – her three little boys – I would try not to make eye contact. I’d yell, “Not it!” to my fellow servers. I’d take up smoking… so I could duck out the back door. 

But that’s not what happens at my IHOP. (And I call it “my IHOP” even though I only go there every couple of months.) Not only does the waitstaff not run away when I walk in with my two little boys and baby, they actually seem happy to see us. We get high fived. We get fist bumped and slapped on the back. We get treated the way Snooki must get when she walks into her local tanning salon.  And, don’t forget, they have syrup at IHOP – five syrups on every table. I have three children who each have ten fingers. That’s thirty potential sticky fingers. And, we get high fives, fist bumps and slaps on the backs when we walk in. 

Last time, Chris waited on us. Sometimes it’s Sebastian. Other times it’s Romel. Let me tell you about Chris, Romel, Sebastian, and their manager, Anwar: the staff at Charlie Trotter’s, Jean Georges and Le Bernadin don’t hold a candle to these guys when it comes to customer service. And, from what I hear, none of those places have free crayons either.

I was there pretty recently. I strolled in with my boys at eleven thirty in the morning. It was a Saturday. Have you ever eaten breakfast outside of your home? 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday is prime time. Every table is taken. Every seat is filled with hungry people who want to stuff their faces with reasonably-priced bacon, eggs and pancakes.

Chris took our order – went to the kitchen – and then reappeared. He wanted to know if my sons could do him a favor. Could they help him carry the plates from the kitchen to our table when our order was ready? Could they? Could they?! Could Mary Richards light up the whole world with her smile? Heck yeah! They said yes and then we waited. We even called my husband to tell him the good news. 

While we waited, a thought occurred to me. The plates were going to be hot. Maybe too hot? What if my kids hurt their fingers? I debated whether or not I should pull Chris aside. Had he thought about how hot the plates might be? My children use their fingers all of the time. Please Chris, don’t burn my kids’ fingers! 

And while I mulled over whether or not to talk to Chris, I glanced at my three year old. He was about to explode. The anticipation was almost too much for him. He had the same look on his face that he did after his third birthday party when he learned he was going to get another birthday party the following year. And the year after that. And the year after that too. (“You mean, I get another one?!”)

Chris came to get my sons. “Are you ready?” he asked them. And so, my three year old and six year old walked with Chris to the outside of the kitchen. He handed each of them a plate. I winced. (“Please don’t let them burn their fingers.”) And they walked. Slowly. Happily. Carefully. They reached our table. They were each holding a tube of yogurt upon their plates. They were only holding yogurt. Chris was carrying the plates with the hot pancakes. He didn’t want them to burn their fingers either. 

Pictured: Sebastian and Chris.

NOTE: Should I point out that I am not being paid by IHOP? I am not employed by IHOP. I don’t make any money if their stock (are they public?) shoots up today as a result of this post being published on my blog which is read by fourteen zillion people. I don’t eat for free at IHOP. In fact, when I go to IHOP, I barely have time to eat. But, that’s the fault of my kids. Seriously. Let me eat in peace, guys. Please. 

(From the archives. I rerunning some of my “People Who Kick Ass” series.)
My Chicago suburb is home to one of the world’s most famous and respected adoption agencies called, “The Cradle.” I’ve driven past the agency, which is housed in a majestic stone building, hundreds of times. 
Since its founding, The Cradle – which deals in both domestic as well as international adoptions – has placed nearly 15,000 children into permanent homes. Every now and then, I see a picture in my local paper about a fundraiser or benefit for the celebrated agency, where – once ago – Gracie Allen and George Burns, Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Donna Reed all adopted children.
But I had heard something about the agency that I thought might be urban legend. Supposedly, there was a program through which volunteers could help care for the babies. I was suspicious. I knew very little about adoption but I doubted that infants actually lived inside of the agency. I assumed the babies lived in foster homes while they awaited their birth parents’ decisions as well as the adoption process. 
I was wrong. 
Last week, I picked up the phone and called The Cradle. I wanted to find out if they really had a program where volunteers could care for babies. The answer was yes. It turns out that the Cradle is the only adoption agency in the United States with an onsite nursery. An average of six to eight infants at a time spend their first days, weeks and even months of their lives in the nursery which is staffed twenty-four hours a day by both a registered nurse as well as an infant specialist. The volunteers I had heard vaguely about were called, “Cuddlers.” But, there is at least a two-year waiting list to become one.
Could I come see the nursery, I asked. To my surprise, I was again told yes. 
The third-floor nursery looked how I hoped it would. It was bright and clean – and its windows opened to let in fresh air. Butterflies and caterpillars decorated the windows and walls, and I was told that a Christmas tree occupied the room in the winter. During a two-day blizzard this past year, the staff nurses brought in blankets and pillows and stayed overnight. They were prepared, I was told, to stay as long as they would be needed.
The nursery was filled with cribs, rocking chairs and – to my delight – books. When I looked in, there were two Cuddlers helping the staff members care for three babies. (There have been as many as 18 infants in the nursery at one time.) I watched one of the Cuddlers read a board book to what looked like a one month old. As she read, he went from the quiet alert-state to a gentle sleep. When his eyes closed, the Cuddler put away the book and continued to hold the baby in her arms.  
I was told that because of the nursery, birth parents can take their time while they decide what’s next. Some choose to bring their children home. Many choose to pursue adoption. This is a place where they know their babies are well cared for while they make their decisions.
Lynne Firestone coordinates the Cuddler’s program. Lynne, who adopted her two adult children through The Cradle, pointed out that the agency needs to have people who can take care of the babies no matter what. “They [the babies] can’t get enough constant care, loving and holding,” she said. “It helps them feel that the world is a good place.”
Toward the end of my tour, I was taken to the room where the adoptive parents – if they didn’t already meet in the hospital — see their babies for the first time. It was called, fittingly, “The Belonging Room.”
NOTE: If you want to volunteer to become a Cuddler, you’re out of luck at the moment. But, if you want to support The Cradle you can visit their website. They also have an Amazon wish list for the nursery, where you can find everything from pacifiers to diapers to swings.

(From the archives. I rerunning some of my “People Who Kick Ass” series.)

My Chicago suburb is home to one of the world’s most famous and respected adoption agencies called, “The Cradle.” I’ve driven past the agency, which is housed in a majestic stone building, hundreds of times. 

Since its founding, The Cradle – which deals in both domestic as well as international adoptions – has placed nearly 15,000 children into permanent homes. Every now and then, I see a picture in my local paper about a fundraiser or benefit for the celebrated agency, where – once ago – Gracie Allen and George Burns, Bob Hope, Al Jolson and Donna Reed all adopted children.

But I had heard something about the agency that I thought might be urban legend. Supposedly, there was a program through which volunteers could help care for the babies. I was suspicious. I knew very little about adoption but I doubted that infants actually lived inside of the agency. I assumed the babies lived in foster homes while they awaited their birth parents’ decisions as well as the adoption process. 

I was wrong. 

Last week, I picked up the phone and called The Cradle. I wanted to find out if they really had a program where volunteers could care for babies. The answer was yes. It turns out that the Cradle is the only adoption agency in the United States with an onsite nursery. An average of six to eight infants at a time spend their first days, weeks and even months of their lives in the nursery which is staffed twenty-four hours a day by both a registered nurse as well as an infant specialist. The volunteers I had heard vaguely about were called, “Cuddlers.” But, there is at least a two-year waiting list to become one.

Could I come see the nursery, I asked. To my surprise, I was again told yes. 

The third-floor nursery looked how I hoped it would. It was bright and clean – and its windows opened to let in fresh air. Butterflies and caterpillars decorated the windows and walls, and I was told that a Christmas tree occupied the room in the winter. During a two-day blizzard this past year, the staff nurses brought in blankets and pillows and stayed overnight. They were prepared, I was told, to stay as long as they would be needed.

The nursery was filled with cribs, rocking chairs and – to my delight – books. When I looked in, there were two Cuddlers helping the staff members care for three babies. (There have been as many as 18 infants in the nursery at one time.) I watched one of the Cuddlers read a board book to what looked like a one month old. As she read, he went from the quiet alert-state to a gentle sleep. When his eyes closed, the Cuddler put away the book and continued to hold the baby in her arms.  

I was told that because of the nursery, birth parents can take their time while they decide what’s next. Some choose to bring their children home. Many choose to pursue adoption. This is a place where they know their babies are well cared for while they make their decisions.

Lynne Firestone coordinates the Cuddler’s program. Lynne, who adopted her two adult children through The Cradle, pointed out that the agency needs to have people who can take care of the babies no matter what. “They [the babies] can’t get enough constant care, loving and holding,” she said. “It helps them feel that the world is a good place.”

Toward the end of my tour, I was taken to the room where the adoptive parents – if they didn’t already meet in the hospital — see their babies for the first time. It was called, fittingly, “The Belonging Room.”

NOTE: If you want to volunteer to become a Cuddler, you’re out of luck at the moment. But, if you want to support The Cradle you can visit their website. They also have an Amazon wish list for the nursery, where you can find everything from pacifiers to diapers to swings.