Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mama's Got a Brand New Blog!

Happy Mother's Day!

2 years ago I started this blog.  I needed a project. Something to play with.  A new creative outlet.  A place where I could vent my frustrations and tell my stories, and so Mandyland was born.

Mandyland has helped me rediscover my love of storytelling.

It's helped me find my voice, and what my niche should be in this great big blogosphere.

It's led me to a project that feels exactly rightly me.

Even more right than a blog with my name in the title.... go figure.

I know I've been gone awhile from Mandyland, but it's because I've been busy incubating a new creation.

Today, on the day we clebrate Moms everywhere, I'd like to introduce my brand new baby,

I told you Pep Talk Polly would be sticking around!

I am thrilled to present my brand new blog.  If you like Mandyland, I guaranty you will LOVE Pep Talk Polly!

Be sure to stop by "Not Actually Polly" to learn a little more about the fun you'll have with Polly.

While you're there, be sure to check out my very first post.  To celebrate Mother's Day I'm interviewing my Mom.  One of the most positive people I know, who hates one of the most positive  activities I know.

It's the perfect way for a Mom in your life to spend a couple quiet minutes, so be sure to tell your friends!

Thank you so much to all of you have followed my journey so far!  I hope you'll follow me on my next adventure. 

Lot's of love,


Friday, March 23, 2012

Does Your Soul Dance?

Pop, Country, Heavy Metal, Punk. If you're breathing and have a pulse, chances are there's a type of music that has you nodding your head, and tapping your toes whenever you hear it. A good beat, some fun lyrics, and the next thing you know, you’ve got your own private dance party.

Or, if your childhood was anything like mine, a dance party in the kitchen during after dinner dishes. Seriously, the best party in town, just ask my siblings!

Music plays a vital role in the human experience. It connects us and helps us express feelings and ideas in a way like no other. Yet even knowing this truth, until recently it hadn’t occurred to me how truly powerful a force music can be.

Have you ever felt your soul dance?

Just before Christmas, Mr. Man and I attended our first Mumford & Sons concert. Fans since first hearing their music on the radio, we impatiently endured the opening acts, until finally the big moment arrived.

The stadium lights went dark, and the jostling crowd was left in total darkness, excited, anticipating, breaths held.  Then, slowly out of the darkness the voices came.

If you can, click the link below before reading on. They opened with this song.

For the first two minutes, we all listened in the dark.  There were no fancy theatrics, no lasers or smoke, just the dark and the melody.  I felt the goose bumps rise, and a strange aching begin in my chest.

As the rhythm quickened, and the beat grew stronger, the stadium flooded with light. There, standing before the crowd, were four average guys, with simple instruments, and strong melodic voices. Singing of love and redemption, singing from their souls.

Love, it will not betray you,
Dismay or enslave you,
It will set you free.
Be more like the man,
You were meant to be.
The beat, the cadence, the words, as I listened the ache in my chest spread to my throat.  My heart raced and I felt close to tears. Nodding my head and tapping my feet, I was struck with a clear and brilliant certainty.  

My soul was dancing.

My background is Scottish, Irish and English, but I never lived in these cultures.   I lived in Newfoundland as a small child, but I don’t remember much.

Yet, this music.  So rooted in the places of my heritage, stirs a longing homesickness in me that I can hardly explain.  The beat of the drums and jig of the fiddle connects to a memory never realized and long forgotten.  When I hear this music, I feel the need to dance and sing and laugh.  To be surrounded by friends and family, raising a glass to health and happiness.
So, the next time you are mindlessly swaying to the rythm of your favorite music, take a moment and really listen.  Maybe, just maybe, if you pay close attention, you'll feel it too.

The pure joy of your soul dancing!

Enjoying the nuances of life,


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bedtime Stalling Tactics

I love L'il Critters! 
As I write this Miss M is yelling my name from the bedroom. This has become the nightly norm.

For many of you the phrase, “Someday I hope you have children, and they’re just like you!” might ring a bell. Not that I was a perfect child, but I can honestly say I never actually heard this uttered.

Yet, here I am. With a child, and she’s JUST. LIKE. ME.

For as long as I can remember I have always had a love hate relationship with sleep. My parents used to say it was my fear that I would miss something really fun that kept me awake. Whatever the reason falling asleep quickly and easily has always been a struggle for me. It seems the minute my head hits the pillow, my brain goes into overdrive, concocting brilliant creative ideas, that leave me plotting and planning late into the night. 

Up until about a year ago Miss M was a champion sleeper. If she was tired she would announce to whoever was listening that she wanted to go “night-night”. Then suddenly some vital developmental switch was flipped and we were introduced to the  Bedtime Stalling Tactics.

Perhaps you recognize a few?

Questions: Once tucked into bed, with parents backing out the door the child will have various life or death, must know the answer now, or they couldn’t possibly go on, incredibly important queries. Miss M’s favorites have to do with if she will be going to her sitter’s in the morning, what we are having for dinner the next night, and most importantly if she will have to take a nap the next day.

Like I said, LIFE OR DEATH!!!

Stuttering: Your previously speech capable child will suddenly develop a stutter while asking the aforementioned “life or death” questions, or in Miss M's style, 

“Wait, Mama! I have to tell you something… um… um... but, but, but.”

Sure that the longer she draws the statement out, the longer she’ll get to stay awake, my cool response is, 

“Enough! Get your BUT to sleep!”

Excessive Affection: Your child will suddenly crave affection as if you were leaving town and never returning. This one’s a tough one, because what parent can possibly turn down a hug and kiss from their child.

Especially one with Working Mom Guilt! Can children smell guilt as well as fear?

As Mr. Man and I are tucking the blankets around her and turning off the reading lamp, Miss M will plead for one more kiss, one more hug, “a BIG hug this time”, lots of kisses…. *sigh*

The Perfect Sleeping Conditions: Suddenly every single aspect of your child’s sleeping environment must be perfect, or they won’t possibly be able to fall asleep. Have you ever heard of "The Princess and The Pea"? Well in our house, we have a Princess, but instead of a stack of mattresses, and teeny tiny legume, we have,

“Mommy the bathroom light needs to be on, and the hallway too, and don’t forget the nightlight... Daddy, door open please, oh… but not that wide, and No! More, that’s not wide enough, and actually I changed my mind, please turn the bathroom light off, and where is my teddy-book-dolly-flashlight-water…”

Then finally we come to the slam dunk of all bedtime excuses,

The Nightmare: Having fertile imaginations and a limited understanding of the world, all children are prone to nightmares. When your child is scared and screaming, any parent will find themselves on their feet in a heartbeat, racing to save the day. Except, when the child figures out it’s an easy way to dodge actually going to sleep. With a stunned look on her face the message is,

“How can you possibly send me back to bed, when I just dreamt of killer teddy bears trying to eat me alive!” 

While Mama’s "heartless" reply is,

“It's only been 3 mins since I kissed you goodnight for the 1 millionth time.  You haven’t had time to  even fallen asleep yet. Nice try short-stack! GO TO BED!”


How about you? Can you relate? Are you a parent who has encountered some seriously ingenious bedtime excuses? Or do you remember throwing some zingers your parents’ way?  The stage is yours, I love hearing your stories!

I’m thinking of investing in a stack of mattresses. At least they would keep her in bed!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy Taboo Tuesday!

It's my very first Taboo Tuesday over at the SKORCH Network, and I'm so excited! This is such a big step for me, and I can't wait to knock it out of the park!

For its debut post, Taboo Talk is challenging the idea of Flattering. Good, bad, empowering, destructive? It's a whole big can of worms, so be sure to pop over and join the conversation!

Jessica invited me to write a column for her online baby, SKORCH, months ago. When she first brought up the idea during one of our bestie lunches, I felt honored. SKORCH has a massive following, and the idea of being trusted with creating content for this well-known brand was thrilling.

And terrifying!

Did you know that procrastination and fear often live together?

Every time I’d start writing an intro, or article for SKORCH, I’d end up snarled in self doubt. Hating every single word I put on the page. Judging, judging, judging….

See over Christmas I had an Ah Ha moment. At a party with family I hadn’t seen in forever, I was making the small talk rounds, participating in the “Where do you work?” and “What are you up to?”, when something inside me kind of clicked.

While listening to my cousins talk about finishing their medical residency, or entering into their masters program, I realized, I wanted something BIG to share.

More than just working as an office assistant, more than just being a wife and mother. I wanted to be a published writer. Someday, I wanted my parents to have the opportunity to brag that their daughter was a published author.

So, starting Jan. 1st, I got serious.

It started with taking a fabulous writing class, that helped me let go of my judging, and get back in touch with my love of writing. It’s amazing how much more easily everything comes when you are having fun!

Then finally, after working hard to build some content, I was ready. Taboo Talk launches today, and I have a few more reveals coming later this month. For the first time in a long time I feel in the zone, inspired and on the brink of something big!

So, in honor of flattering, and all good things to come, I thought I’d share the outtakes from the Taboo Talk photo shoot Jessica and I did on Friday.
Enjoy the laugh,


Waiting during light check... jeez modeling is boring!

Hmmm... how shall I take over the world?

Ohhh, robots! Of course!
Ack!  My nose is itchy!

Must not destroy my make up!

SERIOUSLY! We didn't get the shot yet?!?!
I like to think this is a picture of my soul.  Look it's even glowing!
And then, after all was said and done, an unexpected gem.  I love this picture!  Thank you Jessica!!! XO

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lucky Girl

Multiple high priority projects demanding my attention at the day job.
Desire to finally pour onto the page, a few of the story ideas now swarming around inside my head.
The Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Friend thing.

Not enough hours in the day, resulting in subsequent overload and shut down.

Until I received this…

This is an email from Mr. Man.  Mr. Man works an incredibly busy job, where he barely has time to scratch his ass.  Often when I receive emails from him they are pretty cryptic, as he only has a nanosecond to type them.  Usually it drives me crazy, but this time...

Is this Motivation to help get me through the projects at work?

Motivation to remind me that I have what it takes to succeed?

A cheer reminding me that he loves me and I rock, thereby Motivating me to continue rocking?

I think I’m going with all of the above.

Don’t hate me because I was lucky enough to catch a man like this,


Friday, February 17, 2012

Introducing Pep Talk Polly!

It's February.  It's grey, and today I’m struggling.

With the exception of the dark times of Little Miss Pessimist, I try really hard to remain optimistic and moving forward every day.

I DO NOT post negativity and “pity me” status updates on any of the social networks, and generally hide or block those that do.

My motto is please don’t drop your drama in my space.

I have a 3 year old with enough toys to cover the whole state of Washington, so it’s safe to say there is no space for you to leave your drama anywhere near me!

The only exception is made for Friends and Family in need. Whenever someone close to me is feeling sad or stressed or confused or lost I am there.

Anytime, Anywhere, Anything. They can call me and I’ll listen and be there.

Wait a minute... that’s a song isn’t it?

Actually truth be told, it doesn’t always have to be just friends and family. Clients, co-workers, friends of friends, acquaintances in my writing class, random shoppers at the grocery store…

It doesn’t matter who it is, or what their situation, if I sense they are struggling with something, my knee jerk reaction if to offer them some nugget of wisdom or advice. Something to help highlight the silver lining hidden within the personal grey cloud they are struggling under.

Then advice given, they can skip merrily on their way, and take their drama with them. That’s a fair trade right?

In fact I offer positive advice (both solicited and annoyingly unsolicited) so often that the other day I had an epiphany and wrote this down in one of my notebooks,

“Just Call me Pep Talk Polly!”

My super hero persona? Perhaps. One of the voices in my head? Certainly not!

Now, here’s the ironic part.

I am notorious for giving pep talks to each and every needy person I come in contact with, and generally feel obliged to point out the positive in any horrible situation I come up against, but I am completely incapable of doing the same for myself.

Even though I strive to recognize the good and positive all around me, sometimes I feel kind of lost.

My dreams and ideas seem too big, and I feel so small and insignificant. There are so many amazing talented people in this world, and I feel pretty normal and mundane. Sometimes, I have a hard time believing I will ever rise above and succeed.

Sometimes I really need the swift kick in the pants that only Pep Talk Polly can deliver.

It’s REALLY hard to practice what you preach.

While I’m struggling to walk-the-walk , I think I’m going to keep Pep Talk Polly around for a while. She seems cool, always good for a laugh, doesn’t take up too much closet space. I think we’re going to get up to some very entertaining hijinks together here in Mandyland. Best to stay tuned!

How about you? Got any alter egos? Or maybe you need a smack from Pep Talk Polly? Don’t be shy, we love to hear from you!

Naming the voice in your head isn’t crazy, right?


Monday, February 13, 2012

The Trophy's in the Mail

In recent weeks, I’ve noticed a few acts of parenting posted by friends on Facebook that went above and beyond the call of duty.

One Mom and Dad stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to blow up a bazillion balloons for their son’s birthday. Once they had them all blown up, they snuck the lot into his room and upon waking the morning of his big day, he was greeted with an ocean of balloons.

Then during the rare snow storm we were recently hit with, a father got up in the middle of the night and built a snowman in the front yard. The next morning when his 5 year old daughter woke up and peeked out the window, she spied a snowman completely surrounding by foot prints. Her only explanation was that the snowman must have been dancing to celebrate the arrival of the snow.

As I smiled over these moments, it made me remember a story of when one set of MY parents had deserved a medal.

It happened when I was 13.

My parents had recently finalized their divorce and my Dad was dating a woman name Michelle who had two young girls.

In an attempt to bring us together and let everyone get to know each other, the adults had decided we were all going camping.

The first few days of the trip were wonderful. We kids were getting along well and having a great time.

Then it started to rain.

Having lived in the land the Rain calls home for over 4 years now, I understand that oftentimes, you can simply ignore the rain and refuse to allow it to ruin your fun, but this was not that type of rain. Unlike a mist or light sprinkle, easily tolerated, this rain was epic.

Think monsoon, rainforest, Noah and his Arch! It was a downpour guaranteed to soak you to the center of your soul in seconds.

Not long after this H2O with attitude descended, we were ushered into the biggest of the tents, while my parents secured the campsite. I think maybe they thought, given the strength of the onslaught, the storm would quickly blow itself out and we’d be able to resume our regularly scheduled program. Looking out the mesh windows, I had my serious doubts. I could see my parents rushing about, their faces set in annoyed determination as, without the slightest sign of letting up, the storm raged on.

As my parents worried about damage control, my mind focused on an entirely different dilemma. Besides the obvious possibility of being washed away, the rain had thrown a serious wrench into the evening’s entertainment. The three other kids sitting in the tent with me ranged between 6 and 9 in age, and they had been promised smores.

As anyone with children knows, once a promise such as this is made, the child can think of nothing but the ooey, gooey, melty, chocolate and marshmallow, wrapped in a blanket of crispy golden graham cracker to come.

“Oh sweetie, look! It’s a rainbow!”

“What? Is it time for smores?”

“Hey, how about we all go swimming?”

“And then we’ll eat smores?”

“Who wants to catch a chipmunk and take it home as a pet?”

“Can we name it Bob…. And feed it smores?”

Sitting in the tent my 13 year old self instinctively knew it now fell on me to keep everyone happy, entertained and focused on ANYTHING except the s-word.

Except it turned out further distraction was unnecessary.

As I sat wracking my brain for something fun for 4 children to do in an 8 x 8 water logged pop tent, the entrance flap folded back and revealed Michelle dressed head to toe in a yellow rain slicker and holding a scarcely cooked, slightly mushy smore.

My parents had promised smores, and not even high water was going to stop them!

As we watched, my Dad and Michelle ran back and forth between a barely burning fire and our sagging tent to deliver one soggy treat after another.

To this day, I have no idea how they kept the fire going?

This was just one instance of brilliance in parenting that I remember. Being lucky enough to have two sets of amazing parents, I could probably write a book!

So how about you guys? Had an especially brilliant parenting moment that you are proud of? Or do you remember something your parents did that was awesome? I LOVE hearing your stories!

Remember, sharing is SEXY!!!!