January 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm , by Lauren Piro
Did you read that headline and immediately say, “Whoa!” So did I. Let’s dive right in and find out what was really going on with this couple, Pam, 40, and Jack, 42. And be sure to read the full story for even more details.
Her turn: Pam’s adult life was a challenge from the start. After growing up with an alcoholic mother, Pam found out she was pregnant at 17. She decided to keep the baby, Zoe, and marry the father, but that quickly turned disastrous—he was abusive and Pam eventually left him. But then things started to look up—she got her GED and met Jack in class. She thought he was charming and fun, and after two years they were happily married. Jack even adopted Zoe, and a few years later twin boys Sam and Max were born. At about that time, Pam took motherhood on by storm and Jack threw himself deeper into his work. Over time this caused tension—Pam appreciates that Jack provides for the family but he never spends time with them or helps out with parenting. And now she’s discovered the kicker. After answering his cell phone one day, she heard the voice of another woman. She confronted Jack and it all came pouring out—he’s been having one-night stands when he travels for business. He says they mean nothing, but can she ever trust him again?
Jack’s turn: Jack, too, had a rough childhood and an alcoholic mother, so when he met Pam and fell in love, he was delighted. He and Zoe hit it off, he was finally doing well in school, and before he knew it, they were married, he was a new dad, and he’d earned himself a great (though intense) job. He doesn’t know how he came to start cheating on his wife—it’s just something that happened. After working long days on his many business trips, he’d meet up with colleagues, have a little too much wine and well, one thing would lead to another. He’s filled with regret, but he’s not totally giving Pam a pass. He thinks she treats him like an outsider when it comes to raising the kids and criticizes him all the time. He feels like he comes in last, and he’d prefers to retreat into his work than argue. Still, he hopes Pam can find a way to forgive him so they can try working harder on their marriage.
November 22, 2011 at 2:53 pm , by Ladies' Lounge
Today’s post is by Neely Kennedy of Reading Group Choices, a leading online resource for book club tips and discussible selections.
The special bond of siblings can often be the longest and most important relationship in our lives, transcending friends, jobs, parents, and sometimes even marriage. This month’s LHJ Book Club pick, The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, tells the story of sisters Milly and Twiss and the heartbreak, sacrifice, love and secrets that they share through childhood, adulthood and old age.
Here are some tips to enrich your book club discussion, exploring how your sibling relationship has influenced the trajectory of your own life. Encourage members who are only children to participate, as they offer a fresh perspective to the discussion.
Back to the Sand Box: Tell a specific story from childhood that recalls a vivid memory about your sibling. Sharing personal anecdotes can make great ice breakers to get a group discussion flowing! Add some depth by asking members to bring along pictures of their sisters or brothers to share.
The sight of the Mason jars led her back to the town fair. She could see Twiss rearranging her jars of Purple Prairie Tonic from a simple line into a pyramid, trying to sell them with a manic energy and an equally manic twinkle in her eye. She could see her mother and father strolling along in the late light, untwining their fingers, it seemed, just so they could entwine them again. And she could see Bett.
“Beauty gives you choices,” their father said to Milly. “Ugliness doesn’t.”… “What about me?” Twiss said. “Your hands belong on a golf club,” their father said.
Compare & Contrast: Identify the similarities and differences between you and your sibling. How have they shaped your personality?
Although Milly was the one who earned perfect grades term after term, Twiss was the one with all of the creativity and the daring. Milly may have known how to balance both ends of Mr. Stewart’s chemistry equations without making a mistake, but Twiss was the one who possessed the heart to be a real scientist.
Life Lessons: What life lessons have you learned together?
Twiss traced the rim of the teacup. “Remember what she used to say?”… The two sisters lingered in front of the sideboard, as if waiting for their mother to appear and caution them, before they took up their lists and went about their chores. “Bone china is like your heart. If it breaks, it can’t be fixed.”
The topic of sibling relationships offers so much to ponder; I hope that your book club enjoys a rich and rewarding discussion of The Bird Sisters.
October 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm , by Lauren Piro
We all deal with the work day encroaching on our family time (how many of you spend more time canoodling your Blackberry than your husband?). But not all of us deal with the stress of a spouse with a job that’s not just stressful, but also potentially dangerous and traumatic, like Liz. Her husband Nick is a New York City police officer, and it’s wreaking havoc on their bond. Read the full story here.
Liz’s turn: Nary a day goes by that Liz, a 41-year-old stay-at-home mom of three kids, doesn’t worry that she’ll see her husband’s name on the evening news or that she’ll hear a knock at her door, and Nick’s captain will tell her that Nick didn’t make it back from a call. She’s proud of her husband and his work, but can’t help but let her imagination run wild with worst-case scenarios. Nick’s suggested she join a support group, but with the housework and child-rearing he leaves her to do alone, she doesn’t have the time. Plus, she’d really love to open up to her own husband about her feelings and not feel shut out. When Nick received a promotion to a position that would keep him at his desk and off the streets, she was thrilled that they might have a “normal life.” But with new responsibilities came longer hours, and she and the kids rarely spend time with him together. She feels exhausted and abandoned, and whenever they do get a chance to talk, they end up fighting.
Nick’s turn: The 39-year-old cop’s day job takes a huge emotional toll—he deals with violence and drama every day, but the gig requires him to put his head down and block it out to stay calm. He’s wiped when he gets home, he does still help around the house, even more than most dads he knows. Liz only whines and complains, gabs with her girlfriends on the phone all day, signs their kids up for endless extra-curricular activities, and, oh yeah, spends too much money stuff they can’t afford. She ambushes him as soon as he walks through the door every evening with new list of grievances and emotional blather. He takes a lot of pride in his work and provides for his family, but he’s missing a supportive spouse.
October 13, 2011 at 2:17 pm , by Lauren Piro
Working moms and wives today crave one thing most of all: more balance. Time for your career, your kids, your husband, yourself (gasp!)—like Liz Lemon, we just want to have it all. Gillian, 41, thought she’d finally figured it out. She’d quit her high-power, high-stress (and high-paying) banking job and open a yoga studio in her home. Her husband, Kevin, 42, would relocate his photo studio there as well, they’d both get tons more family time with their 8-year-old twin boys, she’d stop buying fancy clothes and dining to save money, and Everything. Would. Be. Perfect. And it was! Until it wasn’t. (Read the full story here).
Gillian’s turn: She thought Kevin was totally on board with the yoga-photo-studio plan, but now he’s balking. He’s changed his mind about moving his photography business from its current location, and works seven days a week. The addition they’re putting on their house for the yoga studio is also way over budget, and though Gillian knows she’ll recoup the cash once she opens, tensions are high. Kevin’s started yelling at Gillian in front of their kids, refusing to talk things out like they always would. He ignores Gillian’s requests to help with things around the house, and she hates nagging him, but just needs some things done! Their arguing has completely slowed her sex drive, which just causes more fighting. She doesn’t want a divorce, but can’t believe her perfect life has become such a mess.
Kevin’s turn: It’s always bugged Kevin that Gillian took home the bigger paycheck, and he’s excited to grow his business and become family’s main breadwinner—but also, unsurprisingly, a little scared. If he moves his studio, he’ll lose clients and students, and he doesn’t see how he can give up photographing events on nights and weekends. The honey-do list new stay-at-home Gillian has given him is driving him mad—she notices small details she never did before, always dislikes how Kevin does things, and then withholds sex as punishment. And as for cutting back on their spending? Gillian’s wardrobe and the family’s leftover take-out beg to differ. Kevin loves Gillian, but if they’re going to radically change their lives, it’s going to have to be a two-way street. He has dreams he wants to fulfill just like she does.
April 26, 2011 at 12:14 pm , by Lauren Piro
We all remember what it was like as a kid to have a “cool aunt.” She’d take us to movies and treat us to popcorn, bring a new book to read when she visited or create arts and crafts with us – even if they were a bit messy. Melanie Notkin, founder of SavvyAuntie.com and author of Savvy Auntie, just out from William Morrow, loves being that cool aunt (or “PANK” as she dubs herself and her peers—Professional Aunt, No Kids), and wants every woman with a niece, nephew, godchild or other special kid in their lives to be one too.
“What’s so terrific about the aunt is that she’s a grown-up in the child’s life who is all about magical experiences,” says Notkin. “PANKs have discretionary income and time to spend with kids and can take them on day trips, go to sporting events or see plays at times when maybe their parents can’t—‘qualAuntie’ time, as I like to call it.”
Notktin started Savvy Auntie in 2008 after her nephew was born, and she couldn’t find any resources on how to be a modern aunt (she now has six nieces and nephews, and many more of her friends’ children are also happy to call her “auntie”). Everything she read was too “auntique” (auntie lingo has become her thing, too). Plus, she wanted to be thrilled about her new important title, and not dejected that it wasn’t her own newborn she was cooing over.
“I’ve learned that when I focus on all that I am, including a very loving aunt, it enables me to rewrite happiness for myself,” she says. “When my nieces and nephews ask me how I started my own company or how I wrote a book, it feels extraordinary to be able to share my experience with them, and I realize the value I can add to their lives.”
Plant a Flower Garden
“This is great for kids of all ages. When they see the seeds that they planted themselves bloom, they really feel like they’ve created something special.”
“It sounds pretty basic, but it’s easy, inexpensive and a lot of fun. Little kids love chasing the bubbles, while older ones like to see how big they can make their bubbles.”
Color with Sidewalk Chalk
“Another easy and cheap idea that’s all about art and creation – even when the older kids like to take the hose and wash the art away!”
Read a Book
“I always bring a new book when I visit. We’ll talk about the illustrations and learn new words. One of my new favorites is 13 Words by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman.”
“Whether we’re playing hockey in the driveway or riding scooters and bikes, it keeps them moving, which is great.”
Pick up the new Savvy Auntie book through Wednesday, April 27th and do good with Melanie. She’ll donate $1 to the non-profit Epic Change, which uses social media to help worthy causes raise funds, for each copy sold. She likes to think of it as being a—wait for it—“benevolAunt.”
Photo of Melanie Notkin by Anna Schechter
April 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm , by Louise Sloan
My 4-year-old son, Scott—”I’m not four! I’m four and three-quarters!”—was not quite two when, of his own accord, he started tapping out the rhythm of the subway trains. Ba-bum ba-BUM. Ba-bum Ba-BUM. The boy loves music, has great rhythm and sings right on-key. So naturally I’ve tried to encourage music at home.”Hey, Scott, can you do this?” I’ll say, as I tap out a rhythm on the conga drum. Scott practically rolls his eyes and wanders off. I’ve tried to teach him simple songs on the keyboard, using whatever his current favorite tune is, and no dice—he’ll either start randomly banging and laughing, cracking himself right up, or he’ll play two notes and then bail. If Mom’s trying to teach it, it must not be worth knowing. Same reason I had to sign him up for swim classes, even though I was on a fricking swim team! God help me when he’s a teenager.
So anyway, when I heard about Freddie the Frog, a four-volume children’s book and CD series designed to help familiarize young kids with musical notes and rhythm notation, I thought, “Surrrrrrrre.” But I was willing to check it out. We’ve been reading the first three off and on for a couple months now, and I’m a total convert. The books follow the adventures of Freddie and his best friend Eli the elephant. They are typical kids’ picture books with mystery, drama, humor and fun illustrations—and a nefarious plan to teach your kid about music.
Each book has an accompanying CD that helps the story come alive with music and voice characterizations.The first book in the series is set on Treble Clef Island—can you guess what it covers? Second one is on Bass Clef Island, and the third, Tempo Island. The music-reading stuff is kind of woven in to the story, but not really… Like, in the first book when it mentions azaleas, there’s a drawing of an A note on the treble clef, just kind of jammed in there. But you know what? After just a few reads, Scott’s already starting to recognize the notes! Read more
March 17, 2011 at 3:38 pm , by Jennifer Castoro
This week, we’re taking a break from our regular Can This Marriage Be Saved? posts to bring you a little something about relationships of the animal kind. I have been somewhat-obsessively watching video after video of the events in Japan, but this show of loyalty and tenderness between two animals got to me more than any other clip. (Maybe that’s weird.) I’ll let the video speak for itself, but a word of caution: When the brown dog puts his paw lovingly on the injured dog’s head around 2:03, prepare to sob. Maybe we could all learn a lesson from this little brown guy about devotion in the face of horrible tragedy.
I’m sure you’re wondering, as I did, about the fate of these pups: They’re okay! If you’re moved to help the animal victims of the crisis in Japan, or any other, you can donate to the American Humane Association. (See a list of other ways to help from editor Amanda here.)
Tell us about your love for your pets! How have they helped you when you were down on your luck? Does this video surprise you? On a related but much less serious note, check out our Can This Marriage Be Saved? video, “She Loves the Dog More Than Me.”