Friday, August 26, 2016

Keepin' It Real In The Blogosphere

   Tomorrow marks the five year anniversary of Menopausal Mother. I've seen a lot of changes in the blog world since I first started; large sites that I never imagined would fold---but have, and smaller blogs that took off on viral posts and made overnight sensations out of a handful of bloggers. I've seen page views rise, fall, and sometimes skyrocket in a 24 hour span when a particular post has hit a nerve. Some of those popular posts introduced me to the underbelly of the blogosphere---internet trolls that harassed me and made me question if I was cut out to be a writer. Fortunately, I learned to develop a tough skin and ignore their insults.

     I've reached goals that five years ago I never dreamed would be a reality for me, and ridden the waves of both success and failure more times than I can count. More importantly, I've learned that I can dust myself off after a fall and climb back onto the saddle of my unpredictable muse.

     The blogosphere has also given me life-long friends who have mentored and encouraged me since the beginning. There have been numerous times when I've considered folding up Menopausal Mother for good, but these lovely blogger friends remind me that there are faithful readers out there who come here for a little lift when the rest of the world is not so kind. I can't argue with that because I need laughter in my life just as much as anyone else.
     One of the main reasons I started this blog was to bring joy to women who were experiencing the same, uncomfortable symptoms of menopause that I was facing. But over time, it became so much more. I realized early on that I couldn't focus solely on menopause---I was limiting my audience. So I started writing about my family life, friends, my quirky habits, work, vacations, and my love for all the four-legged fur babies who live in my home. I also opened up about my depression issues and the personal losses I've faced over the years. Although those were the hardest posts to write, they garnered the most comments and gave me the support I needed when sadness was getting the best of me. I'd wanted to keep my blog upbeat at all times, but a fellow writer once told me that she felt I wasn't keeping things "real" on my site, and accused me of hiding behind my humor. She challenged me to write something that made me uneasy; to step out of my comfort zone and share something so painful and raw that I would feel myself bleeding across the page while I wrote it.

     So I did. And as terrified as I was, I hit "publish" after writing my first serious piece, The Box, several years ago. That morning, I closed my laptop and stepped out of the office for a bit because I was too afraid to read the comments I'd receive. But as frightening as it was to take that first leap into non-humor, there was also a strong sense of relief knowing that I'd finally removed many self-imposed boundaries by sharing something deeply personal with total strangers on the internet.

     When I checked back in on the site later that morning, the response was overwhelmingly positive, and I knew at the moment that my writer friend had given me the best advice possible. I still prefer to write humor on my blog, but since that time, I've been sprinkling a few poignant pieces over the comedic posts to add a little boost of flavor to Menopausal Mother.

     My blog and I have come a long way since that August afternoon in 2011 when I published my very first post. I've discovered that the blogosphere is a strange and wonderful place; a great starting point for my initial goal of writing a book, and for sharing articles on larger websites in an effort to spread an important message. Blogging has also been the perfect platform for self-expression and for connecting with others who share the same vision. Over time, I've developed an amazing, supportive community of readers both here and on my Facebook fan page, and it's their enthusiasm that motivates me to continue writing.

     Thank you all for standing by me through bouts of writer's block and for being my inspiration these past five years. I hope to bring you many more years of laughter, and I look forward to hearing from each and every one of you soon. Cheers!

****WANT MORE MENO MAMA? It has been a busy week for sharing blog posts! I was featured  Scary Mommy with "A Mother's Advice to Her Son heading Off to College",  and on The Tribe with "15 Things No Parent Should Have to Say to Their Teen Daughter." Have a look and see what you think!


Friday, August 19, 2016

Fly On The Wall In St. Augustine

    Welcome to another Fly On The Wall group posting, hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, 10 bloggers are inviting you into their homes for a peek into their private lives.

     For years, I have wanted to visit St. Augustine, Florida. I'm a native Floridian, and believe it or not, I have never visited one of oldest cities in the U.S. even though it's only a five hour drive from my home. Say What?? Yeah, I was too busy carting the Family to Disney World a gazillion times over the last 30 years. I've traveled all over the country, and after college, did the whole student tour thing in Europe where they cram 20+ countries into four weeks. I think I might have slept on the bus through a few of them.

     With my husband's birthday looming on the horizon, I thought it might be a good time to seize the moment and book a trip to St. Augustine...... Best. Decision. Ever. So much to do and see there! We stayed at a cozy little B&B and pretty much ate and drank our way through the city. Incredible seafood dishes and the best handcrafted cocktails I've ever had. For those of you familiar with the city, here are the places we visited during our four days in St. Augustine: St. John's Jail, Potter's Wax Museum, The Fountain of Youth, The old wooden school house, the old Drugstore, and both the Tolomato and Huguenot cemetery. We also did the ghost tour, plus the Old Time Trolly Tour; visited the oldest Museum store, the history museum, all the shops on St. George Street (the historic walking mall district), the Cathedral Basilica, Flager College, Lightner Museum (and we ate in the famous cafe in the old swimming pool area), San Sebastian Winery, and the Castillo de san Marcos fort. We also ate at all the yummy restaurants that were recommended to us: O.C. White's, Harry's, The Columbia, A1A Ale Works, and the Raintree.

     There were a lot of funny conversations going on during our trip, but I can only remember a handful of them (I was too busy stuffing myself with lobster and pomegranate martinis). If you had been a fly on the wall during out vacation, here are a few snippets of conversation you would have overheard:

"Those figurines in the wax museum look younger than me, and they've been here for over 100 years."

"This ghost tour can't be the real deal. How are we supposed to believe in this stuff when we have Casper the Friendly Ghost as our tour guide?"

"As many bars as there are in this town, no wonder so many tourists see ghosts in St. Augustine. I just saw a pink elephant float by on St. George Street."

"On the outside I'm older, but on the inside, I'm still 33 and living in the moment. Which means I mentally do everything but physically do nothing."

"If I was a soldier back in the 1700's in this fort, I would have gone AWOL because there was no A/C and they had to wear wool uniforms, even in the summer."
"Thank God none of them were menopausal in this heat. Then they would have really had a mutiny on their hands."

"For us, the saying 'Ride or Die' is the equivalent of sitting in a motorized wheelchair and pretending we're Peter Fonda reliving his role in Easy Rider."

"The food here is incredible, but this B&B needs to have a midwife on call because I'm so full I think I'm birthing a food baby."

"This reminds me of our trip to St. Petersburg when we went to the Titanic exhibit. I'll never forget those gorgeous first class staterooms."

"If my family had been on the Titanic, we would have been in the third class section because we were so poor. Actually, we would have been the ones working in the boiler room. In other words, we would have been dead."

ME: "I know you thought it was a good idea to walk to the Fountain of Youth from our hotel because you thought it was just a few blocks from the fort. But we've been walking forever and I still don't see it."
HUBS: "It's just around the corner, I swear."
ME: "We're still walking, and its been almost an hour, in 96+ temps with only a drop of water. Even the drivers are laughing at us because we look like stupid, sun-baked tourists. I could kill you for this!"
HUBS: "No worries---I was already contemplating jumping in front of one of the tourist trolleys."
ME: " Good, because at least then I'll get a free ride back to the B&B."

"Isn't it cool to think we're staying on Aviles street---the oldest street built in the U.S.?"
"As old as you are today on your birthday, I would think you'd recall watching them build it."

     It was a great trip folks, and if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a trip to St. Augustine. Just be sure to bring pants with elastic waistlines.....unless you plan on hiring a midwife for your food baby.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado                   http://www.
Menopausal Mother                  
Spatulas on Parade                     http://spatulasonparade.                        
Searching for Sanity                    http://singlemumplusone.                         
Never Ever Give Up Hope             http://batteredhope.blogspot. com                         
Dinosaur Superhero Mommy                      
Southern Belle Charm                   http://www.southernbellecharm. com
Eileen’s Perpetually Busy               http://eileensperpetuallybusy.
Molly Ritterbeck                              http://mollyritterbeck. com/        
Go Mama O                                 

Friday, August 12, 2016

15 Ways Your Man Proves He Loves You

     My husband and I recently celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary, but I'll admit, reaching this milestone hasn't always been easy. We've had our share of trials and tribulations that have put our relationship to the test. Yet somehow, we've always landed on our feet and back in each other's arms.

     Since the beginning, my husband has proven that he has the "staying power" necessary to make our marriage work, and that he takes his wedding vow, "For Better Or Worse," very seriously. Obviously trust, understanding, respect for one another, loyalty, good communication skills and patience play a big part in a lasting relationship, but it goes beyond that. In many cases, it's the little things that are the glue that keep a couple together. Forget about sappy Hallmark cards or the wilted flowers from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. If your man is truly in it for the long haul with you, he's proven it by doing some of the following things:

1.) Digging a slippery contact out of your eye when its rolled too far back under the lid for you to retrieve....even though it's 3:00 a.m. and makes him incredibly squeamish.

2.) Goes to the convenient store in the middle of the night to grab a box of tampons for you even though he's the only man in line without a six-pack of beer and a case of Marlboro cigarettes.

3.) Walks the dogs when its raining outside so that you don't have to get wet (or get peed on).

4.) Gives up his tickets to a hockey playoff game to stay home and help you eradicate the colony of lice that have taken up residence on your seven-year-old's head.

5.)  Plunges the unidentifiable thing in the toilet that NO ONE claims is theirs.

6.) Does his best to throw something together for dinner when you've had a bad day and can't move from the couch. The meal may be made with an unearthed, frozen hunk of pork roast that you could have sworn you discarded a year ago, but that's okay, because everything tastes good smothered in ketchup.

7.) Endures watching a girly movie with you and isn't afraid to tap into his feminine side by shedding a few tears during the show (or maybe he's just crying because you ate the last of the buttered popcorn).

8.) Doesn't mind picking up the kids from their after school activities when you're running late. Never mind that he also enjoys embarrassing the kiddos by dancing in his seat when a Pitbull song comes on the radio.

9.) Kills every cockroach and spider you find in the house. This has nothing to do with the fact that your loud shrieks break the sound barrier and cause his ears to bleed whenever an insect crosses your path.

10.) Tells you that you're beautiful even when you wake up looking like an angry porcupine.

11.) Offers to clean the house when you're frantically working to meet a deadline. If he rearranges the kitchen and switches everything around in the pantry, just smile and thank him. Does it really matter if your favorite pasta is hidden behind a large box of mothballs?

12.) Holds your hair away from your face when you're barfing the questionable sushi you had at the all-you-can-eat Japanese buffet he insisted on trying.

13.) Retires to the couch for the evening so that his snoring won't keep you awake. Then again, he might just be afraid that you'll cover his face with a pillow if he snores while sleeping next to you.

14.) Scratches that place on your back that you can never reach when it itches. But don't be surprised if his hand wonders elsewhere during the process. He might have an itch that needs scratching, too.

15.) Lets you drive the newer car in the family while he putters to work in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car that should have been put out of its misery ten years ago.

     I've heard countless women complain that their men don't bring them flowers or candy to show their appreciation. Ladies, you can keep your roses and chocolates. I'd rather have a man who finds angry porcupines attractive and has great plunger skills.

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? I am thrilled to have my first article featured on this week! Check out my funny NEW post on dealing with the dreaded HEAD LICE! Eek! You can read it here: 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Sizzling Summer Writers Series: Guest Post By Stacey Gustafson

     Many of you will recognize the name of my guest writer today. She has been featured on my site before because I've always admired her clever sense of humor, and I can easily relate to most of what she writes about---family life and midlife chaos. I'm thrilled to bring back Stacey Gustafson, the funny woman behind the blog,
 Are You Kidding me? and the author of the bestseller, Are You kidding Me? My Life with an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives.

     I met Stacey at the 2014 ERMA convention, and had the pleasure of spending time with her again at the 2016 workshop last April. I discovered that not only is she an entertaining writer, but also a GREAT stand-up comedian. She did a little show for us at the convention and received a standing ovation because her act was HILARIOUS!! Do yourself a favor---check out her blog and BUY HER BOOK. You'll love it! Please welcome her today to Meno Mama's site with lots of comment love!

Want a surefire way to get your kids and husband off the couch fast? Just say you’re going to take a nap. All hell breaks loose.

Let me start at the beginning. We enjoyed going out for breakfast on Saturday mornings. Nothing beat a big stack of hotcakes, thick smoky bacon, side of hash browns and a plate of toast to induce a coma later in the day. By noon, I could barely move much less keep my eyes opened.

Time To Ask Friends Over
“Okay. Can I have some friends over?” my daughter asked, bolting off the sofa and stuffing a bag of popcorn in the microwave.
“Talk to your dad. I’ll be in my room with the door shut. Try to keep it down.”
Ten nanoseconds passed. My husband yelled from the bottom of the stairs, “Remember guys. Be quiet. Mom’s sleeping.”
Attempting to sleep here!
After years of trying to get my son to try piano and violin lessons, he tapped his way from the kitchen, up the staircase, down the hallway and into his room with a pair of drumsticks that had been MIA for four years. Click, clack. My eyes fluttered opened like a moth around a porch light.

Don't Forget the Dog
Not to be excluded, our dog, Stanley expressed his displeasure regarding my nap as well. He sniffed under the door and catapulted his 20 pound body forward. Ping. He gave me a smug look as the door burst free, routed in the blankets and staked out a comfortable spot at the end of the bed.
“Buddy, if you’re quiet, I’ll let you stay,” I said, hopping up to shut the door.
What’s that? Faint rustling of feet came from the staircase. Big man feet. Like a stalker, he paused, hesitated and then ever so slowly, turned the knob on the double doors. Kabong! Doors burst free. With a shuffle of sock feet, my husband whispered, “Don’t worry. It’s just me. I’ll be done in a second and out of here.”
Yeah, right.
After using the toenail clippers and electric razor, he stomped out of the room, pulled the doors shut and yelled downstairs to my daughter, “I’m on my way!”

Still Taking a Nap
I drifted off for a couple of minutes. From outside the opened window, I detected the whine of a chainsaw and the distinct smell of gasoline. When I married my husband, he was not a lumberjack. But Paul Bunyan decided to do a little light remodeling in the backyard. Now.
Oh, come on.
I popped up in bed, blinking like crazy. Out the window I spied a saw. And a tree. Timber. Next up, I watched as he reinstalled loose fence panels with a hammer. Bam, bam, buzzzzz. When finished, with a flourish he let out a big whistle for the kids to join him and admire his workmanship.
By that point, the dog couldn’t contain himself. He charged the open window and jumped up and down to get a peek at the commotion. Ruff, ruff, growl.
Finally, I stuck my head out the window and said, “Hey!”
“Mom, did you get a good nap? Come on out.”
Yeah, a full five minutes.
“Look what Dad just did. Isn’t it great?”
“Looks fine. I’m coming.”
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. I’m going to sack out on the couch. Quietest place in the house.


Stacey Gustafson’s book, Are You Kidding Me? My Life With an Extremely Loud Family, Bathroom Calamities, and Crazy Relatives, ranked #1 Amazon Best Seller in Parenting & Family Humor and Motherhood. She is a humor columnist, blogger and wannabe comedian who has experienced the horrors of being trapped inside a pair of SPANX. Her blog, Are You Kidding Me? is based on her suburban family and everyday life. Her short stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and seven books in the Not Your Mother’s Book series. Her work appears in Midlife Boulevard, Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Pleasanton Patch, Lost in Suburbia, Better After 50 and on her daughter’s bulletin board. She lives in California with her husband and two teenagers that provide an endless supply of inspiration.
Twitter: @RUKiddingStacey


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