If you want to feel happier this weekend…

“What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity. These are but trifles, to be sure; but, scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.”
–Joseph Addison

…then go somewhere where everyone is smiling! I was reminded of this while getting drenched in the water park at Great Wolf Lodge over the past few days. Though drops of water clouded my vision, I could still clearly see happiness everywhere I looked: A toddler grabbing at pop-up fountains with his chubby little fingers, families laughing together while buckets of water fell on their heads, the excitement in someone’s eyes (no matter what their chronological age is!) as they plummeted into the pool from their wild water slide adventure. You couldn’t help but feel joyful when that’s all you were surrounded by. The trip definitely crushed out any crankiness I felt–and I’d love for you to feel the same way.

I encourage you to venture somewhere this weekend that’s bound to bring a smile to your face. You can always find happy people at a park, an ice cream parlor or candy shop, a sporting event (as long as their team is winning!) or even a concert. Find a place where other people’s cheerful faces will either lift your spirits or just keep your good mood going! I’d love to hear about some of your favorite “crankiness crusher” locales. Perhaps your go-to happy spot will inspire someone else to seek out some positive energy instead of feeling blah all day.

Hope you have a great weekend!

The best fake ocean ever!

After going on an adventure to locate 5 crystals with my young magi this morning, I’m now typing from our hotel room at the Great Wolf Lodge listening to lullaby music while watching my little girl nap on the couch. Meanwhile my husband and son are tearing it up at the indoor water park! I actually don’t mind being forced to rest for a bit. The downtime allows me to sit back and appreciate how fun this family trip has been so far–and we’ve only been here for a day and a half!

If you’ve never been here before, it’s a fantastic place to bring kids of all ages. There are tame, wading areas for the wee ones, while lots of teenagers (and adults!) are slipping or tubing down scarily high and twisty water slides.

A howlin' good time at the 'ocean'

The major crankiness crusher for me, however, is Slap Tail Pond. You literally feel like you’re sitting by the ocean. They create a comfortable breeze in the air while waves crash at your feet. The best part? I can enjoy all of the fun things about being at the beach without having to slather tons of sunscreen on myself and the kids (we’re all vampirishly pale) or fretting about sand going in their mouths. I’m LOVING how incredibly easy it is to entertain the kids without having to worry–which of course I’m still doing anyway–but they’re helping take the edge off by selling frozen “adult” smoothies at the snack bar. Hello tequila! Just what mama needed. 😉

I hope someone or something encouraged you to chill out today. If not, here’s hoping tomorrow is a better day!



Pre-vacation jitters.

What is it about leaving for vacation–whether it’s for two weeks or two days–that gets me anxious and stressed? Perhaps it’s feeling like I need to get all of my ducks in a row (like doing the 26 loads of laundry I’ve been ignoring for the last two months!) before escaping my routine? Or maybe it’s knowing that taking a break usually means more to do when I come home? You think I’d be happy to get away–especially since I’m always complaining that I want to mix things up. And then when the time comes, I balk at the pressure to get everything done! Ugh, I’m annoyed at myself right now. Guess I’ll chalk it up as just another one of my “quirks”.

Lunch on our deck.

Thankfully Vlad (the husband) gets me–and pretty much knows how to encourage me to sit down and relax. Often the answer lies with food. 😉 Since he’s off from work this week, we had a somewhat leisurely morning after dropping the kids off at daycare. We went to the gym, grabbed a coffee at Starbucks (if you’ve been reading my blog, I’m sure you can guess what I had!), did a little pre-trip grocery shopping, and then ate lunch al fresco. It was a beautiful day: Not too windy where your napkins blow all over the place, and not too sunny where you’re squinting because you haven’t broken out the patio umbrella yet (and didn’t feel like running back inside to grab your sunglasses). Apart from the carpenter bees swarming around our heads and our dog trying to jump up and swallow them whole, it was a lovely lunch–and my crankiness crusher. It also didn’t hurt that I was chowing down on my favorite sub from Jersey Mike’s (turkey & provolone with EVERYTHING on it). Yum.

Okay…back to reality! By the time you read this, we’ll be on the road to the Great Wolf Lodge in PA. I’m really looking forward to checking out this indoor water park; probably just as excited as the kids! Hopefully I will have packed the right stuff, but if not, I’m sure there’s a pricey gift shop that has everything we need (there always is)!

I’ll be bringing my laptop, so I’ll keep you posted on how things are going. Until then, I hope your day is filled with lots of crankiness crushers.  Just remember to look for (or in some cases eat!) them.



What’s Your Mirror Image?

My baby taking care of her baby.

Yesterday, I beamed with pride as I watched my daughter Anna dote lovingly on her baby doll. As you can see from the selection of (adorable!) photos to the left, she was feeding and kissing her–but what you can’t see (or hear) is she how whispered sweet things into her baby’s ear and hummed while she covered her with a blanket while saying, “Nightie-night!”

Watching her treat the doll with such tenderness was a genuine crankiness crusher, mostly because I believe (hope?!) it’s a reflection of how she thinks I treat her. There’s nothing better than watching someone mirror the positive things you do–especially when it’s your child (someone whose ethical upbringing is in your hands!). Granted, she later let the baby fly off the couch when she ran to chase after her older brother when he walked into the room, but toddlers will be toddlers. 😉

What’s the moral of my story? Be mindful of how others treat you. It could be a real eye-opener if you’re not getting the empathy, compassion, and love you think you deserve. As the saying goes, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Everyday, there’s an opportunity to take the focus off of yourself and take care of someone else if you see they’re feeling fragile or just need some extra love and attention. Your level of patience and understanding, and how well you put yourself in other people’s shoes, can really affect your relationships. Remember to make choices from the heart so the reflection you see is always an image you can be proud of.



Clearing the way for Mother’s Day fun.

Wish I had as much fun cleaning as this lady seems to!

There’s nothing better than kicking off Mother’s Day weekend with a clean house. And it’s even more satisfying when I’m not the one who had to do it! My husband paid for the awesome Dirt Divas to come in and take care of all the areas I haven’t been able to get to lately (which is like EVERYWHERE!), so this took a load off my plate–and my mind.

I had a moment yesterday while my two little ones were at school, when I breathed in the clean, citrus-y scent of my floors, and enjoyed going from room to room and seeing a sense of order. There were no toys on the floor, no dishes in the sink, and no pieces of dog hair or dust balls flying out from the corners while I walked. I sat down to write, relishing the temporary peace and quiet, and for the first time in a while truly appreciated my home.

Knowing that I have the weekend to focus on the fun stuff instead of worrying about cleaning toilets or getting down on my hands and knees to scrub the kitchen floor is so freeing–and definitely this weekend’s crankiness crusher. I’m thankful that my husband recognized that I could use an extra set of hands to help out with the overwhelming amount of housework. It’s the best present of all–the gift of time. Time to do the “want-tos”, not just the “have-tos”.

Whether you’re a mom, step-mom, Godmother, pet-mom or auntie, I hope that someone does something for you to thank you for all you do for them. You deserve it!

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend.



P.S. I’m sending lots of birthday love to my mama!

Dissed by Rachael Ray.

Well, not really Rachael herself. Yesterday my mom and I schlepped into New York City in the pouring rain to stand on line for her talk show–only to be denied entry! Sure, we were forewarned that there was a first-come, first-serve policy, but it was still annoying and frustrating to be turned away!  The voucher for VIP tickets made our rejection somewhat bearable, but it was our very spontaneous “Plan B” that really took the edge off: A hearty  lunch at an Irish pub called Keats right around the corner from RR’s midtown east studio.

Love me some NYC hot pretzels!

The first crankiness crusher was the warm, soft pretzel that we got as a free appetizer. It went down nicely with our glasses of Sauvignon blanc, and turned our conversation from grumbling over not getting into the show to more fun topics like gossip and past relationships. Two more glasses plus a satisfying meal made the whole misadventure of trudging through mud puddles and getting whacked in the head repeatedly by other people’s umbrellas a lot easier to digest. We topped off our afternoon with a delectable double chocolate fudge brownie and Earl Grey tea lattes from Starbucks (which also crushed out the cranky in us).  Then we hopped into a nice warm cab to Port Authority and plopped into our bus seats kind of tipsy yet caffeinated. A good combo if I do say so myself.

Our day in the city definitely didn’t go the way we had expected it to, but we found a way to make the most of it and then enjoyed the best of it!

I encourage you to seek out the best in your day and just let the unpleasant stuff simply fade into the background.

Cheers to finding your happy place!



Stomp Out Self-Doubt!

Cute pic despite the grammatical errors.

Lately I’ve been a ball of self-doubt. Am I a good mother? Do I spend too much time checking my iPhone? Will I ever be financially successful? Why can’t I manage to keep it together as well as she does?

I’ve spent way too many hours letting my insecurities get the best of me, which is kind of jarring because I used to be a fairly confident person. Sure, I used to compare myself to other people, but that was mostly to stay at the top of my game both personally and professionally. At the end of the day, I was always happy being me. And while I’m still content with who I am, my self-doubt hits hardest when I think about where I’m going (or not going!).

I’m admitting this personality weakness because it’s time to change my mindset. My friend Rachel, who is always chock-full of wisdom, said something to me recently that really hit home:

“It’s okay to yearn for things in the future, but remember that you’re enough for today.”

This mantra is today’s crankiness crusher–and it’s something that I’ll repeat over and over again until I believe it.

Remember to draw strength from your friends and family when you’re feeling vulnerable and less-than-perfect. Silence the person inside your head who is telling you that you’re not enough. Stop judging yourself on some kind of impossible standards that only you are using. Stomp out your self-doubt and you’ll watch yourself flourish (at least that’s what I keep on telling myself!).



A Little Taste of the Past.

Apologies for the belated dose of happiness! After cleaning up my “toy circus” of a house and dealing with a 2-hour Battle of Wills with my 4-year-old over eating his dinner, I was tapped out. Before all of this happened, though, I had a very pleasant afternoon with my Mamochka (AKA mother-in-law) and kids.

I’ve been trying to learn how to make certain Russian foods lately, not only because my husband Vlad and I like them and I want to introduce them my kids, but also because they remind me of Vlad’s grandmother Baba Valya. She was a selfless person and an AMAZING cook (which my mother-in-law inherited), and whenever I eat the meals that she was known for, I feel like she’s smiling down from above because we’re enjoying something that she passed on to us.

My Crankiness Crusher. Not just the food, but the sentiment behind it.

A special shout-out  to my mother-in-law for bringing all of the ingredients and for taking the time to teach me how to make delicious Russian cuisine. I love learning about my other half’s culture and making sure that we incorporate it into our little family.

Is there something that you cook or bake that reminds you of a loved one you lost? (Please feel free to share!) I bet taking the time to make it will make you smile too.



And the winner of The Regal Name Game is…

Lady Louise Beauregarde-Strudwick!

Both the Tudor Tutor and I agree that your royal guest name stood out above all others. It’s a classic English-sounding name with an aristocratic ring to it!

Congratulations! You will now be the proud owner of an English tea gift basket. Please e-mail your mailing address to trberson@gmail.com.

Our honourable mention goes to Lady Delia George-Oxford. You could be British royalty, too!

Cheers to all of you for participating in The Regal Name Game.  Hope you had as much fun as we did!

Kind regards,

Lady Mary Mandy-Morningside

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