Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Summer Family Budget (Just Burn Your Money) #spon



Where are you now? In your kitchen? Look around, are there grass clippings on the floor even though your swept 5 minutes ago? Have three children dirtied 23 cups and glasses today? Is half the neighborhood in your living room or backyard?

That's nothing. Summer's real parent gut punch isn't the giggly chaos of feral children on school break, it's the cost of actually living with your children. During the school year, when big kids head to the bus stop and little kids get carpooled to preschool, you aren't really living with your kids so much as running a hostel. A hostel, but instead of a smattering of UN-representative co-eds who don't shower often, it's just your own dirty kids in the mornings, afternoons and weekends.

When summer hits, it's no longer you and the baby waving bye-bye to big sissy. Remember that? It was only a few short weeks ago that you'd bundle off your older children and you and the baby would head to Target to unwind. Now, not only is your house crawling with short people, you can't afford a Target run.

Summer the time of year when the kiddos come home to roost, and it's the time of year when you may as well set your money on fire using a magnifying glass and the unrelenting rays of the sun.

For three seasons out of the year, you have a typical family budget. You spend on groceries and crayons and 27 pairs of gloves and new shoes for that one kid of yours with the abnormally fast-growing feet. But the summer budget is bananas. Not a euphemism, bananas are an actual purchase category along with watermelon and sweet corn and the other fruits and veggies that are in season.

Other line items in the summer family budget are:

  • Theme park admissions
  • Camp registrations
  • Vacation debt
  • Items you need to buy on vacation that you forgot back at home
  • Ice cream and popsicle allotment
  • Flip flop blowout replacement costs
  • Sunblock expenses
  • Sunblock restocking fees
  • Aloe expense
  • Pool toy expenditure
  • Weekly swim goggle replacement costs
  • Swim diaper fund
  • Snack inflation investment
  • Craft origination fees
  • Rash cream fund
  • Slushie fund
  • Impulse buys
  • Souvenir savings

By the time the end of August is here, you'll be seriously considering a second mortgage just so you can buy school supplies.

Unless you you've been smart enough to put your baby in Luvs. Not only because Luvs* keep a baby dry (with large stretch tabs, ultra-leakage protection, and a money-back guarantee), but they do it for less cash than other brands. And you need that cash to buy the baby sun hats that she'll keep ripping off and tossing in the pool while you stand there pushing her around in an inflatable floating unicorn.

The first point is summer is expensive, but your diapers don't have to be. Not only are Luvs affordable when they aren't on sale, this coupon for $2 off via and this Ibotta rebate (download the app on iOS or Android and search for Luvs to unlock the rebate) for $3 off any box of Luvs that's 54-count or larger, make them an even better deal. Now you have money leftover to spend on new beach towels, which you need because last year's towels smell funny.

The second point is that Luvs wants to help our with some of those summer budget line items by giving away ALL THIS COOL STUFF. Two people who enter this giveaway will win:
So go save here and here or here. Go enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter down there. And go take your summer cash flow back.

* Luvs is sponsoring this post, by the way, and not just because they like me, but because I was a Luvs mom when my kids were in diapers and I know they work and are affordable. So, compensation by Luvs, humor and opinions by Nicole Leigh Shaw. Also, this disclaimer: Luvs has only provided me with the product that I am using as the prizes for this giveaway. By entering the following giveaway you are accepting that, if you win, your contact information will be shared with a Luvs PR and shipping agency for the purpose of mailing your prize. Please allow 4-6 weeks from the contest closure date to receive your prize.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I'm a Perfect Parent

I know you're feeling low about now, what with that food stain on your shirt and a few Legos in your pocket where your lip balm used to be. You don't have enough clean laundry to clothe all your children and the stuff that is clean, what's that smell? It's sour cream meets wet dog, right? Like it, in terms of animal instincts, it's a smell that says "Don't eat me, danger!" That's how the jeans your 8-year-old is wearing smell all the time, going into the laundry or coming out of the dryer.

Good news, I am perfect. So are you. Buy it now.

It's okay, pookie. It's just that you're a perfect parent.

I am, too.

I have half a chicken breast and 4 ozs., total, of two different kinds of pasta shapes I need to use to make a dinner that will feed six people. And I will. And they will like it and proclaim it the best dinner ever because that's what it means to be a perfect parent.

You're going to spend 18+ years helping a child make science projects out of whatever the hell you happen to have lying around and you'll succeed. You're going to make school lunches out of English muffins and dried apricots with a side of crunchy Chinese noodles and the kids will thank you for it. You're going to accidentally show up on time and sometimes be very late only to discover the meeting or game or spelling bee is actually tomorrow and that, friends, is winning.

You're not perfect because you iron the kids' sheets and always remember to write your their name on the inside of their winter jackets. You're perfect because you don't do those things and your kids are happy and healthy anyway. You're perfect because you MacGyver your way through parenting and somehow your child is graduating from high school in one piece and with honors (or, at least, not in jail).

Perfect parenting is the art of making it work even though the odds are stacked, enournously and unfairly, against you. Perfect parenting is emergency diapers made of an extra onesie and some duct tape.

I'm just about as perfect a parent as you'll find. And so are you.

So treat yourself to a little camaraderie with other perfect parents, like the ones in my new anthology (by which I mean someone else published it and I happen to have an essay in it). We are just a bunch of moms who have no idea where we left the car keys, but you bet your life we'll find a way to get the kids to school on time. Ish. Maybe 10 minutes late. Fifteen, tops.

Glad you asked. Essays by:

Jen Mann - People I Want to Punch in the Throat / I Just Want to Pee Alone
Bethany Kriger Thies - Bad Parenting Moments
Deva Nicole Dalporto - MyLifeSuckers
Julianna Wesby Miner - Rants From Mommyland 
Lola Lolita - SammichesPsychMeds / MockMom 
Kim Bongiorno - Let Me Start By Saying
Alyson Herzig - The Shitastrophy
Kathryn Leehane - Foxy Wine Pocket
Harmony Hobbs - Modern Mommy Madness
Erin Dwyer Dymowski - Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
Tara Wood - Love Morning Wood
Kelcey Kintner - The Mama Bird Diaries
Lisa René LeClair - Sassypiehole
Joelle Wisler - Joelle Wisler, Writer
Christine McDevitt Burke - Keeper of The Fruit Loops
Meredith Spidel - The Mom of the Year
Meredith Gordon - Bad Sandy
Allison Hart - Motherhood, WTF?
Jennifer Lizza - Outsmarted Mommy
Suzanne Fleet - Toulouse and Tonic
AK Turner - Vagabonding with Kids
Robyn Welling - Hollow Tree Ventures
Ashley Fuchs - The Malleable Mom
Kim Forde - The Fordeville Diaries
E.R. Catalano - Zoe vs. the Universe
Chrissy Woj - Quirky Chrissy
Stacey Gill - One Funny Motha
Wendi Aarons -
Jen Simon –
Janel Mills - 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.
Jessica Azar - Herd Management
Susanne Kerns -The Dusty Parachute
Audrey Hayworth - Sass Mouth
Hedia Anvar - Gunmetal Geisha
Christine Organ -
Shya Gibbons - ShyaGibbons

*Affiliate links appear in this post.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Your Suffering: The Perfect, Low-Cost, Last-Minute Mother's Day Gift

Yoo-hoo! Are you the spouse, adult child, or too-old-for-handprint-crafts child of a mother? Then you probably feel a tickle at the back of your mind, a whisper telling you you're about to screw up.

What could it be?! Have you forgotten to flush? Is the cable bill past due? Did you donate to the Cruz campaign?

Or did you forget that tomorrow you're supposed to celebrate the day you irrevocably changed your mother's belly button from an innie to an outtie? Has another year gone by that you couldn't be bothered to clue in to the social context? Ads for flowers, chocolates, and 345 inbox reminders to take advantage of free shipping on Edible Arrangements should have kicked you into action.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and you're about to set the record for eliciting disappointed sighs from the woman who birthed or adopted you. If you have two moms, you're about to double the disdain.

But it's not too late to give mom the one thing she wants most: your suffering.

"My suffering?"

What else could a woman whose episiotomy set hospital records want?

Ask yourself, Is my mother a martyr?


You protest. But be honest. Your mom is a martyr. Am I right? I'm right. I know I'm right because every mother, even the ones---especially the ones---that swear they aren't, are martyrs some of the time.

Open your eyes. Consider the facts.

  • Has she ever sighed heavily while picking up someone else's dirty socks from the living room floor?
  • Has she ever made a family member's favorite dinner---on her own birthday? 
  • Has she ever started a major cleaning task, say, getting on her hands and knees to clean the baseboards because "someone has to do it, and no one bothered to be available when I was up at 6 am getting the good plates out so I guess now's the time and I'm the only person who seems to know where the rags are kept," during an active social gathering in her own home, and then retreat to the bedroom to "eat my meal alone, thank you, no I don't want company, no I'm not crying that's allergies"?
  • Has she convinced her children that everything, from her varicose veins to the fact that she never took a semester abroad in college, is their fault?

Ask yourself again, Is my mother a martyr?

"Maybe a little. But don't tell her I said that!"

You know what every martyr really wants?

"To die for her cause so that history will never forget the struggle!"

No. She wants you to suffer.

This Mother's Day, give her the gift she's been passive-agressively asking for since she she dropped her painting class so that you could take Tae Kwon Do. Be uncomfortable.

Sure, you could wait until you become a parent and are saddled with half your genetic equivalent, whose sudden-onset stomach bug leaves you scrapping vomit out of a car seat with the shopping rewards cards clipped to your car keys. You could call her in that moment and say, "For you mother, I have paid the vomit price. I, too, have become martyr." Or you could show her how much you care right now!

"How can I inconvenience myself for my mom this Mother's Day, when all I really feel like doing is getting her a token gift I didn't bother wrapping and then taking a long nap while she runs to the grocery store?"

It's nothing. It's next to nothing. It's almost no thing at all. Give her your blood, sweat, and tears. These are the things your mother has shed or endured on your behalf. Sometimes to keep you healthy and safe, and other times just to make sure your soccer team had enough snacks.

Why, you could risk cutting open your finger on dinted aluminum gutters when you finally clean them out like you said you would back in the 12th grade. You're 35 now, but it's never too late to say, "I realize I have dismissed your needs for two decades, but that doesn't mean I don't care."

You could work up a lather, literally, cleaning your own DNA from inside and around the toilet. Is there anything more sentimental than telling mom, "No, you sit. It's my turn to mop up the household's collective urine"?

And you could cry. Whether it's because you haven chosen to wait until next weekend to see Captain America: Civil War in favor of taking mom to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, or because you put a little soap in your eye and fake it, tearfully thank her this Sunday for being your everything. (Bonus points if you pull this stunt in front of your wife who mom has never liked.) Just find a way to well up and let mom know that your pain is a gift to her.

This Mother's Day, remember that it's never too late to make it hurt so good.


You know what it's also not too late to get mom? An e-book like this one, I Just Want to Pee Alone. Or buy the hardcopy and she'll get it by Tuesday, not only showing that you love her, but that you're a a little bit of a failure so that she gets to continue to be a little bit of a martyr.  Those hyperlinks bring you to one of the greatest books a mom could ever get: a book filled with sarcasm and a few heartstring tuggers. Essays written by and for moms. So, don't be a jerk. Get mom the book. After all, she gave up her youth, beauty, and sanity for you.

PS--Those are affiliate links back there, meaning that if you click one of them and buy a copy of the book, I get 2, maybe 3 cents from (full disclosure).

Friday, April 29, 2016

All I Want for Mother’s Day is a Parenting Do-Over

It was 2007. My twins had just been born and I thought, What better time than now to engage in the emotionally trying and logistically fraught act of potty training my two-and-a-half-year-old?

“You pee in this fairy-sized potty in the middle of our kitchen while your baby sisters scream from the Pack N’ Play and mommy will give you candy. You like candy. I know you do, honey. You love candy! Don't you want some yummy candy? IT PUTS THE PEE-PEE IN THE POTTY OR IT GETS THE HOSE AGAIN!”

Any other time would have been a better time to attempt potty training.  Even active labor.

So when you ask me what I want for Mother’s Day, I tell you I want just one . . . thousand parenting do-overs. Just a few. Some.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great Mother’s Days, even without the do-overs! I’ve eaten food that was lovingly prepared by unwashed hands. I’ve gotten handmade cards at 8:30 in the evening because my husband realized late in the game that I might like a little something from the children to mark this special day. I’ve even gotten boxes of delicious chocolate that were for me, but were eaten by my kids. I really enjoyed licking those empty wrappers.

But, really, my favorite Mother’s Day gift is the same each year. Each year talk turns to what it was like to become a mother to each of my kids. We fondly recall their firsts: first steps, first loose tooth, first day of school, first time they slept through the night and I remembered what it was like to feel sane.

When we get rolling telling stories about them, we always end up re-telling the funniest memories, which also happen to be the ones where something went terribly awry. For example, once my two-year-old twins cave painted their bedroom closet—with their own poop.

Eventually, we get to the story about my oldest hiding around the edge of a building, giggling, while I frantically paced an adjacent parking lot, screaming her name and begging strangers to "Help me find my four-year-old daughter, she's lost!" When we get to that particular story, I realize that what I want most for Mother's Day is a time machine to go right a few parenting wrongs. Or anti-anxiety medication.

What else would I do over? I can think of a few (31) parenting moments I wish I could have another crack at.

1. That time I made a diaper out of paper towels and duct tape.
2. Any time I took a three-year-old into a public bathroom.
3. When I made fun of minivans and swore to everyone I knew that I’d never drive one.
4. The time I took the training wheels off my child’s bike and said, “Just keep pedaling! You can do it!” Then I let go and learned that she really couldn’t do it, actually.
5. When we tried an impromptu road trip with toddlers.
6. The time I spent any money at all on Christmas gifts for a child under the age of one.
7. The time I tried to have a talk about the exciting changes in my pre-teen’s body and anyone, even actual birds and bees, could have done a better job.
8. All the times I didn’t nap when the baby was napping.
9. The three hours I spent compiling a list of instructions for my mom because I was leaving the baby with her for 43 minutes.
10. The time I answered the door for the delivery man and didn’t realize my breast was hanging out because I’d just been nursing the baby.
11. Any time I retreated to a toilet to breastfeed my baby because I didn’t want to offend anyone, you know, with the very same breasts they spend hours on the internet looking at.
12. The time I dropped the baby because I was reaching for a glass of wine.
13. When I called the pediatrician because I thought my baby’s soft spot was “too soft.”
14. The time I said “sh*t” in front of the kids.
15. The time I realized I said “sh*t” in front of the kids, and in my frustration with myself, followed it up with “f*ck.”
16. That time I decided to check on the baby when she was asleep and I accidentally woke her up which was all Opposite Day and then we both cried.
17.  The time I dropped the baby because I was reaching for a glass of wine.

18. Any time I sat through an episode of Caillou. 
19. All the times I’ve shown up late to one of my kid’s events.
20. The time I showed up a day early to one of my kid’s events.
21. The hour (or 4) I spent trying to remember how to solve for x.
22. When I spent an obscene amount of money on premium diapers instead of college funds.
23. When we wore matching outfits for the holiday photo and that outfit was reindeer costumes.
24. All the times I forgot to lock the bathroom door when I was in there.
25. The time I tried to cut my own kid’s hair.
26. Any time during my first pregnancy, but before the birth, that I opened my mouth to share a parenting philosophy.
27. The time I forgot to lock the bedroom door when my husband and I were having a very intense discussion.*
28. When I spent a month trying to hide veggies in everything my kids ate.
29. The time I believed my kids when they promised that if I bought them a pet, they'd take care of it.
30. When I bought a diaper stacker, a wipes warmer, and a changing table without realizing I'd end up keeping the diapers in the closet or a diaper bag, the wipes in the container they came in, and that I'd do most of my diaper changes on the living room floor.
31. Pretty much the entire first year of parenthood except for the first smile, the first giggle, and the first time I went out without the baby wearing clothes I hadn’t slept in.


It’s okay, parenting is hard stuff. You’ll make a few mistakes, but the kids will love you anyway and make you handprint Mother's Day cards and convince you to eat their favorite dinner even though it's your special day. But the mistake you don’t have to make is spending your dollars on very expensive diapers. I don’t support Luvs just because they hired me to do it, I support Luvs because it’s actually the brand I used for 3 out of 4 babies and toddlers. Those were the youngest three, because eventually you become less of an idiot and more interested in having enough money to buy diapers and a latte.



This is a sponsored post. I work for Luvs as an ambassador or social media personality or trained seal—one of those. I write about Luvs and help them spread the news about things like their large, easy-to-use tabs that you can fasten over and over again. (See? Do-overs!) I write about the fact that there’s a money back guarantee if the diapers leak (for real). And I write about COUPONS. Just go to this Sunday's May 1, 2016 newspaper and clip the $2 Luvs coupon or print it from this Web site.


You can also scoop up a $5 cash rebate for Luvs diapers through the free Ibotta app for iOS or Android. You’ll only be able to use that one on 54-count or larger boxes of Luvs diapers, but that’s okay because babies be pooping.