"My Blog"

What We Miss When We Photoshop Our Kids’ School Pictures
Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Would you photoshop your child’s school picture? Would you digitally whiten their teeth, airbrush a zit or hide the braces?

Before you decide, check out my most recent article on Huffington Post: “What We Miss When We Photoshop School Pictures.”  (Click here to read the full article at http://huff.to/1vO15tV )

(And here’s the video from HuffPost Live where Nancy Redd and I talk about where all this photoshopping could lead: Waist whittling? Nose jobs? Boobs? HELP!!

Boo Boo Magnet
Thursday, October 2, 2014

In October of 2007, my son got hit in the face with a dog.

You heard me. The dog didn’t bite him, it didn’t growl, there wasn’t any attack of any kind. Ben was just sitting there petting the dog, the dog was loving it, and then the dog (a bull-dog with sharp protruding lower teeth) JUMPED up and his teeth rammed into Ben’s face ripping gaping holes in his upper lip and bottom opposite side lip. The dog didn’t mean any harm -turns out there was a donut involved.

A trip to the ER and 25 stitches later, he was regaling his kindergarten friends with stories of his valor.

Now, this might seem weird to you if you didn’t know Ben. But my son is a disaster magnet.

We go to petting zoos and he gets chased by goats. We took him to Underwood farms and a Turkey pecked him in the forehead. If there’s a toothpick on the floor, he’ll trip on it; a glass to knock over, he’ll nail it; an edge of a chair, he’ll fall off it.

I’m exhausted from trying to save him from himself.

The other day, he got nipped at by my a dog. The dog just didn’t like his vibe at the moment and decided to send a message. Boy was I pissed at that dog – Ben was innocent for sure. Just standing there. Eating challah.

I gathered my boy into my arms against his will. He was like “Mom, I’m fine. I’m okay.” Ben’s eyes were rimmed in tears he was fighting so hard to hold back. My little man. “It’s okay to cry, honey.” I told him.

Ben’s response “It’s okay mommy…I’m used to it.”

My poor boy. Even he knows it.

I’m considering a helmet and body armor. Would it be wrong to stuff his clothes with Cottonelle?

A post about my son’s first scar. Originally posted on MommyLITE in October 2009.
Look What I Made – #TBT
Friday, September 19, 2014

So the twins were busy with Legos this morning while I slept in. They came running into my room yelling over each other “Look what I made,” “Look what I made!” Ben had a Lego car and Livi had some kind of Lego crocodile. They kept shoving them in my sleepy face yelling “Maaaaaa….Look what I made! Maaaaaaaaaaaaaa….Look what I made!”

So I turned over to both of them, grabbed their little faces and said “Look what I MADE!”

Mommy wins.

This is a “Throwback Thursday” Post. Originally posted October 2009.

You Can Lead A Boy To The Playroom… #TBT
Thursday, September 11, 2014
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The twins on their first day of school (kindergarten – Fall 2009!)

Thanks to #TBT  (that’s’ Throwback Thursdays’ for those less “hashtag savvy”), I now have a great idea for Thursday posts. Every Thursday I’m going to share one of my favorite stories from when my kids were little(er). I’m so into this! YAY!

I’m so glad I started blogging if only because I have this amazing diary of hysterical moments from my kids’ younger years. I always thought I’d remember these moments – you think, “How could I forget?!” But ‘forget’ you do.  The sad truth is that these moments are gone like the fog of a dream once you wake up.

If you’re willing to take a little advice here – start a journal, keep notes, write a blog! NOW! Even if you don’t show it to anybody! Capture the moments that made you laugh (and cry)…because you’ll forget them in a heartbeat – but if you write them down and save them they’ll make you laugh all over again every time you read them for years to come.

So a big shout out to the creator of “Throwback Thursdays” for keeping the good memories alive!

“You Can Lead a Boy To the Playroom…But You Can’t Make Him Have Fun”

(This was originally posted on MommyLITEonline.com on September 29, 2009. The twins were 6.)

My daughter wanted to play with her brother today.  Not because she likes him…she doesn’t. (okay, maybe she does, but she just doesn’t know it yet).

The reason she so eagerly pursued her twin was because I had decided to put an end to all electronic activities in the afternoons after school.  No TV, no Wii and no Club Penguin.  I thought, they should “interact”, “build a bond”,”play.”  Boy, were they mad.

“But MOOooooooommm…there’s nothing to do!” and they gave me their most pathetic gazes as I stood at the kitchen counter breading chicken cutlets for dinner.

“Go play.”

They stared at me.

“…With each other!”  I added and motioned between the two of them with an eggy crumby finger in case they needed a visual to understand, which clearly they did.

“Alright.  Come on, Ben, let’s go play house.”

“I don’t want to play house.”

“I played Super Smash Mario Cart Brothers the last time you asked!”

“Fiiiiiiiiiine-ah.” he said with an extra “ah” sound to emphasize his annoyance.

Livi smiled. “Okay.  I’m the mommy. What are you?”

“Dead.”

Well, you can’t say I didn’t lead the horse to water.

If The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Is A Popularity Contest, I’m Losing.
Monday, September 8, 2014

I’m unpopular.

I’ve always suspected it, but now I’m sure.

I saw the signs in elementary school. Standing by as two teacher-appointed kickball captains plucked friends from the group like old ladies looking for butter crackers at the deli. Separating the wheat from the chaff, they revealed the social pecking order until it was just me and the tiny kid with orthotics and hay fever. Turns out that kid’s reinforced shoe made him kind of valuable.

But I’m over it. At least I thought I was.

Until Facebook exposed me with its darn #alsicebucketchallenge.

If you don’t know what this is, because you’ve never been online before today, or you live under rock), the “ice bucket challenge” is when you dump a bucket of ice water on your head, post a video of the stunt online, and then chose a select few of your Facebook friends and family to do the same. If the people you nominate don’t douse themselves within 24 hours, they’re expected to donate $100.00 to ALS (a/k/a Lou Gehrig’s syndrome). Of course, if you’ve been following the news you know it could be any charity, but ALS is de rigueur among the chosen.

Sure, lots of people are bemoaning the financial and environmental toll of this stunt. Complaining about the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water wasted and its waning sense of import as it becomes a public wet t-shirt contest.  But what really upsets me is this…nobody’s picked me. No one. Nada.

WTH dudes?! I’m cool! Don’t you see all of my Facebook friends? All of my followers? All of my page likes??!!! I’m popular, damn it! People like me! (Quick…somebody tell me they like me…)

Let’s face it. There’s a party on line and I’m not invited.

The #icebucketchallenge is everywhere. Celebrities are doing it (Thank you Justin Timberlake). All of my old high school classmates are doing it. My kids’ orthodontist, my colleagues…my mom. In fact, in the time it’s taken me to write half of this article, my 11 year old son has been nominated. It’s embarrassing. All of them enjoying the knowledge they have been lumped together with other cool people in this shared experience. But alas, Justin Timberlake and I will never be lumped. And that just makes me a little sad.

Each ice bucket challenge post I read on Facebook is another person getting picked in a virtual game of “Duck, Duck, Goose,” while I wait for some authority figure to step in and make everyone who hasn’t been chosen yet raise their hand.

I click on their videos and watch them laugh and enjoy themselves. Ready to dash happily around that circle. And I wait…ready:

“Duck, Duck, Duck…”

My hope is renewed. Maybe this time it’ll be me. After all, I know this person. They like me. I have a real shot here…

“GOOSE!”

Damn. My former nanny.

It’s not fair.

I now find myself scrolling past these videos anxiously reading their tags to see if people I barely know have nominated me. It doesn’t matter we’ve never actually spoken. I’m hopeful. And when I don’t see my name it stings a teeny tiny bit. I don’t like being reminded of my irrelevance.

Of course I know this is all for a good cause. It’s good clean fun. But let’s be realistic. The reason this whole challenge has gone viral is because you have to be invited to play and who doesn’t want to be chosen? Suddenly, with I click a button, everybody’s Horshack with our hand in the air shouting “OOO! OOO! OOOO!! PICK ME! PICK ME!”

Will Oremus, senior technology writer for Slate.com made the point that these videos are more about the ‘social’ than the giving, “…the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.” And attractive they are; Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downy Jr.; call me crazy, but even Mark Zuckerberg looks kind of buff in his video – like he’s strutting some newfound coolness. I get it, Mark. I’d want to look good in my video too – especially for all of those old high school classmates.

Here’s the point. I’m a grown woman. I shouldn’t need other people to tell me I’m cool. It only matters that I think I’m cool. Right? RIGHT??!!!! Yeah. I know.

I just kind of wish somebody would dump a bucket of ice water over my head to prove it.

http://www.elle.com/news/culture/ice-bucket-challenge-facebook-pete-frates

Photo Credit Sally Holmes, Elle.com (I think…)

 

I’m NOT A Crazy Cat Lady. But…
Friday, August 8, 2014

The other day I got an urgent call from my neighbor.

I found a bunch of kittens in my garage! What do I do?! Get over here!”

“COMING!!!!!”

I ran across the street like the house was on fire. Not because I actually had any clue what to do with newborn kittens – I just thought “KITTENS!!!!!” and ran. It was a reflex – like a shoe sale at Neiman’s.

Where I grew up in the suburbs of Philly, there were always baby squirrels, baby rabbits, kittens and puppies popping up all over the place. Unfortunately, when I was about 6, my neighbor’s cat had kittens and while I was holding one, I dropped it. I wasn’t allowed to hold a baby animal for, like, 10 years after that – so that’s probably why every time I see kittens I have to hold them. Proof that I’ve overcome my clumsiness. That probably also explains the solid representation of Nature’s food chain that’s lived under my roof.

Frankly, I wasn’t even a cat person until about a year ago. I grew up with dogs. I never questioned that dogs were the way to go. Dogs ruled. Anyone who loved a cat was crazy and divorced (of which I’m both…so there you go, I guess).

Then we found Atti (short for “Atticus Emerson Maizes Burn Grand Duke of Hamsterchestershire”). Livi and I were in a nearby pet food store that occassionally has cats up for adoption from a local rescue (Pet Rescue Foundation in Los Angeles). Atti got one look at Livi – strolled over to the side of the cage  and meowed. The next thing I know the pet guy put Atti in her arms. I normally wouldn’t have caved on a spontaneous adoption, but as I contemplated whether I was ready or not to be perceived as ‘crazy’ as well as ‘divorced,’ Atti put his paw on Livi’s cheek – “I choose you” he seemed to say, stroking her face. Well, who am I to question love.

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Atticus. Questioning his choice.

So why do I tell you all of this? Well apparently, owning a cat (and having it survive) for almost a year makes me the ‘cat expert’ on my street.

When I got to her house she had three of the tiniest, cutest kittens I had EVER seen in a box. Oh my God. I picked one up (And I didn’t drop it (see mom?!)

Turns out the mom had given birth to them in an old car seat (thank you, Britax) on the shelf. My neighbor went into the garage for the first time in a month and as she turned on the light she saw this tiny fluffy thing dangling from the wooden shelf. She grabbed a plastic bin and caught it JUST before it dropped! And then she heard more  ‘meowing’ and found the kittens in the seat. They were SO tiny and one had a bad eye :(. They looked hungry.

All the kids in the neighborhood gathered at her house. We had a full-on ‘village’ taking care of them. Scott got them a bowl of Atti’s kibble and plunked it on the ground as I stared at him, hands on hips, stating authoritatively “kittens do not eat kibble!  Suddenly, I was the expert. Look at me. Sarah Maizes. Cat expert. Maybe I shouldn’t be so proud of that. Anyway, my neighbor and I piled into the car  and drove to a nearby pet rescue that was open and they had some extra kitten formula and eye medicine for the baby with a funky eye. The whole transaction felt like a drug deal – we were in a dark driveway, there was white powder in a baggie… cash changed hands.

We brought our stash home and put drops in their eyes, cleaned their little faces with wet cotton balls, and nursed them late into the evening (did you know kitten ears quake when they eat? I didn’t. Omg. It’s ridiculous.). We cleared the garage for long stints of time hoping the mom would come back. The kids on the street had a neighborhood watch going for the mom – all of the kids taking turns peeking out their windows at night to see if any stray cats went by – or into our friend’s garage that night. We all hoped the mama would show up and take them away in the middle of the night. Nobody wanted to be responsible for what we’d have to do if she didn’t. At least if she came for them they’d be together. We could be happy about that. But nothing. No sign. And in the morning, the kittens were starving again.

So we fed them and put out word to everyone we know to PLEASE take a kitten!!!! I wanted to take one SO BADLY but my landlady was firm “No way.” (I hate renting).

Then a friend answered the call! We took the kitty to the vet for her, had her de-fleaed, checked for worms, and given a full work-up.  She was deemed healthy and ready for a home.

Nobody would take the others. We called foster homes, pet rescues and shelters. EVERY pet rescue in the city was over-flowing! It’s kitten season apparently. (Did you know there’s a kitten season? I didn’t.) So, no room at the inn for these two little boys. Anywhere. We finally found a shelter that would give them a chance at life (Los Angeles Animal Shelter). They said the vet would look them over and if they were healthy (which we knew they were – Mr. Funky Eye had already improved with the drops) they’d be put up for adoption the next day.

Good news, I suppose. But listen, I know the potential truth. I am just avoiding it. How do I do anything else? What do you do when you find these amazing little creatures and you can’t take them home (landlords), and you can’t leave them out (coyotes), and you just want them to be safe? My stomach is churning as I sit here.

But I have to say “thank God” to my friend who adopted. Even better, she lives down the street and I get to watch them turn into crazy cat people too.

As much as I loved finding the kittens, I’m also so sorry I did. I tried to save them all. I wanted to save them all. All I can even think to say is PLEASE people, spay and neuter your pets unless you’re in a position to take care of the babies and find them good homes. The shelters are overflowing. Foster Families are tapped out. And even more importantly, there are so many animals in need of good homes. So many animals waiting to be adopted!

Next time you think about bringing a pet home, please consider adoption and save an animal’s life! This difference you’re making is “life-altering” – seriously!  Now let’s hope this little girl’s brothers find loving homes too.

So without any further ado, I give you Mittens. Seems pretty happy to have a home, right??!

P.S. And here’s Atticus helping me write my new book. He’s not impressed.

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Atticus as my editor. He is not impressed.

 

 

My NEW Picture Book, “On My Way to School” is On Shelves Now!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GUESS WHAT!! My new picture book, “On My Way to School,“is out NOW!!!

Just in time for Back-To-School! AND I am SO CRAZY EXCITED (and a little teary eyed with joy) to announce that Kirkus Reviews has given my book a STARRED REVIEW (for those of you NOT in kids books, just know that basically means publishing peeps gives it 2 thumbs up!)!!!

What can you expect from Livi this time around? Well, let me tell you…

“Kids everywhere dread the nightly call to go to bed. But not Livi! Her imagination takes her on a journey full of daring obstacles and exciting adventures on her way to bed. She pilots a spaceship, walks a tightrope, and climbs a mountain, all while her Mom waits with her covers turned down and bed ready. With stalling techniques as creative as this, it’s a wonder she ever makes it to bed! Author Sarah Maizes and illustrative veteran, Michael Paraskevas, once again create a funny, fresh book that will be a must for every parent who wants to foster creativity while fulfilling the every day necessities.”- See more at: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/on-my-way-to-bed-9780802735874/#sthash.PqJ18AKo.dpuf” (insert Family Guy/Peter Griffin-esque “Yaaaaaaaaaayyyyy” here).

You can GET YOUR COPY of On My Way to School RIGHT NOW! JUST CLICK HERE! AND…if you buy a your copy TODAY (or at least before Friday!) send me an email (at sarah@sarahmaizes.com) and I’ll send you a personalized signed bookplate (and MAYBE even an “On My Way to the Bath” rubber duck, while supplies last)

And DON’T FORGET Livi’s other adventures: On My Way to the Bath (a Bank Street Books/Children’s Book Council “Best Picture Book of 2013″ – NOW available in BOARD BOOK!) and “and “ON MY WAY TO BED” (A New York Times Bookshelf “Pick”)” (A New York Times Bookshelf “Pick”)

     

Want Your Kids To Read This Summer?
Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Are your kids suffering from “summer slide”? Mine are.

My teen’s been great and reads voraciously every day. But my little ones? All I hear is “It’s summer! Don’t make us work!” and “Mommmmmmmmmm…you’re not supposed to READ over the summer!”

And part of me wants to oblige. Summer should be a time of fun and no-stress, right? But why can’t reading be fun? Why do kids always think of reading as a chore? I personally love the idea of falling into a hammock with a good book and a tall iced tea. And I wouldn’t move for the entire day if I didn’t have to get up to pee every now and then.

I can tell you that as an author, making my books ‘fun’ is a top priority for me. I want my readers to enjoy reading and I know I’m not alone. So why is getting our kids to read over the summer so hard?!

Well here’s a fantastic article titled “What You Should REALLY Do  If You Want Your Kids To Read This Summer” on HuffingtonPost.com by Katie Hurley, a prominent child and adolescent psychotherapist and parenting expert, about ways to make summer reading more fun. (Achem…she mentions how much she and her kids love “Livi” and the new ON MY WAY TO SCHOOL book! Just saying…).

Give it a read and make some room for your little ones in that hammock.

Kids Away? Time To Play!
Monday, July 14, 2014
Enjoy an adult beverage? Don't mind if I do! There will be no carpool or soccer practice tonight...

Me and Scott – enjoying a Mai Tai

As a displaced East Coaster in LA, I am constantly shocking friends and fellow moms with tales of how my parents sent me and my big  sister to sleep away camp halfway across the country…for the entire summer.

As typical, delusional, self-centered young ‘uns, we were SURE our parents missed us. A lot. But now that it’s my turn to send my kids to camp, I’m realizing…um, maybe not so much.

Got kids away at sleepaway camp like I do? Whether it’s for 2 weeks or 2 months, check out my latest story on TODAY.com, 11 Things Parents Should Do While The Kids Are At Camp about how to make the most of this child-free time. (Got some good ideas of your own? Spill please!)

And if you need me, I’ll be on my balcony drinking a margarita.

My Evil Nemesis Returns
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Evil Nemesis has just crossed the line.

There is this really fat squirrel who lives in the bushes outside my house and we’ve been at odds since last year’s fig harvest. My fat furry ‘friend’ has a penchant for fresh figs and last fall when our Black Mission Figs ripened on our fig tree it became a daily fight to see who would get the juiciest figs.

What really annoys me is he’s discerning.

He won’t just grab any fig from the tree. No. He waits it out. Watches them ripen. Just like me. Both of us watching. Waiting. Delaying gratification until it’s just the right moment for picking.

Sometimes I’ll even leave a fig overnight thinking “it needs one more day to be perfect” only find it plucked from the tree and discarded on the stairway the next morning. A half-eaten figgy carcass left behind to taunt me. Occasionally, I get to the fig first. And I’ll see him. Sitting on his furry ass in the middle of the driveway twitching his vibrant and incredibly fluffy tail (the result of being well-nourished) and giving me the evil eye.

I considered running him over with my car.

And now the summer figs are coming in again (they are the harvest before the good ones in the fall) and he’s trying to gorge himself. I see him, testing the figs for ripeness. Making his move before I can get to them. Unfortunately, because they’re not very good yet he leaves the partially ‘tasted’ figs all over the stairway. He’s plucking, sniffing, and obviously scoffing – littering the stairway to my home with rejected figs. Reminding me, “it’s ON!”

But now the line has been crossed. There have been casualties. Yesterday, Ben slipped on a fig and fell down the stairs.  Luckily, he’s fine. But it’s clear the battle has escalated as the squirrel is taking out my family members.

It’s war. And he’d better watch out ’cause I have a full tank of gas.