International Women’s Day

Once upon a time, I was a woman who had never experienced heartache. I was naive, and optimistic. I had important women in my life, who taught me important things–but I lived my life in a happy little bubble.

One day, my bubble burst into a million shards of shattered mess, leaving me in so many pieces I didn’t think I’d ever go back together again.

Most of my memories of that time are muddy-at best. One thing is wildly clear. I came through that storm a different, better and stronger woman BECAUSE of the women that surrounded me and held me up.

My mom, while fighting breast cancer showed no weakness as I feel apart. She simply stood firm on the notion that when a heart is big enough to break into a million pieces, it’s also strong enough to heal. She is right.

Joann, (who taught me that women make the work go ’round), gave me the wisdom to be mad about what I should be mad about–and to get my revenge by going on to live a life a hundred thousand times better than any life I would of had with “him”. She is right, too.

Heather, who will be the head of my security detail if I’m ever famous. Heather cared for my baby girl like she took care of her own baby girl. Literally. And she listened to me, and validated me, and continues to participate in general badassary. Every girl in a crisis needs a sounding board to empathize and use swear words with. She is that woman.

Suzy. Without even a moment of hesitation this chick welcomed me into her home. She fed me. She cried with me. She protected me with a FIERCE sense of duty (you mother hen, you). We sat in the yard and watched the bumble bees fly by and basked in the reality of single motherhood. There was wine. There was laughter. There was adventure. If I can ever be that kind of light to a fellow Momma-it would be the honor of my life. And now that neither of us are single moms anymore we can look back at the wonder of how accurate our mantra was: “to thine own self, be true.” Ladies, when you love you- the only result possible is happiness.

Toni Marie. Soul Sister. Even from the far away land that my BFF calls home, she used her magic to keep my head above water. I don’t think a single person on this planet parallels Toni Marie when it comes to taking care of Tori. And while our friendship dates back more years than we really need to discuss–it continues to become stronger with every life victory and every life fail that the two of us encounter. My person.

So these women, who helped me find my way, they taught me how important women REALLY are. And of course there are so many other women to the list of women who are important women to me. Old and New alike. What better day than the International Women’s Day, to say thank you to the women who played the most important part in how I found my way?

Here’s to the strong women. Together–we can move mountains. I’m eternally grateful to the ones who helped me move mine. I promise that it’s my life’s goal to raise Violet to join us in the ranks of women who support women. Happy International Women’s Day! So much love to all of you ❤️

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Grievances and Feats of Strength.

I actually don’t like to “Air my Grievances”.

I love my life: I really do. I am also ultra sensitive about the fact that there are others who desperately want what I have (children–a life partner). When I complain about any of those things there is always a little part of my soul that is protesting what my mouth is doing.

But I have grievances. Today my daughter told me that I’m a bad parent.

I once married a man that I never should have married. In the past I have told the story of his emotional and verbal abuse of me as if I had no idea that he was capable of that until *after* we were married. But that’s not the truth.

The truth is; I knew I was supposed to leave him the day that I hung out with my childhood friend for an hour longer than I said I was going to. His response to the change in timeline and the anger that came with it sparked a familiarity in me: I remember that day like it was yesterday. That’s the day that I recognized his pattern of control. That was shortly after we started dating–long before we were married.

Another thing that I’m ultra sensitive about: I still treasure a lot of my ex husbands family. I self sensor a lot of what I share in this space because I don’t want to offend. So let’s get real for a hot second: if he wanted everything I say about him to be nice–than he should have been nice. This is my space. My happy place. My therapy. So I have to speak my truth.

Yes: I married a man I never should have married. It seems like a lifetime ago. I wasn’t me back then–I didn’t know who “me” was yet.

What I DO know is that I was there for my step son–and he is still a huge part of my heart. And I DO know that my Violet is my masterpiece. Things came from that marriage that I would never want to live without. So when I “grieve” about marrying the wrong person–I’m not regretting anything. (Just to be clear).

Let’s get back to that part where today: my daughter told me that I’m a bad parent.

What. The. Ef. You guys?

I’m airing this grievance. It was a really freaking hard lesson in practicing what I preach.

Violet wanted to make a craft with balloons. MeMaw told her that we have balloons. We don’t have balloons. Violet asked me to go to the store for balloons. One December 23rd. I said no. Violet cried. I told Violet–in so many words–that it’s ok to be disappointed, but that I am not getting balloons today.

She went into her bedroom–slammed the door–and drew a picture. She explained that in her picture, Violet is sad and Mommy is happy–because Mommy is happy when Violet is sad. You know, because I won’t go buy her balloons.

I tried to reason with a 6 year old and explain that, in life, we get what we need and want by working hard–not by just wanting it. I tried to tell her that disappointment is a part of life that we have to learn to deal with.

Violet replies with “Don’t you think it’s bad parenting that you are refusing to make me happy?”

In that moment: I felt attacked. By a six year old. By my six year old–the one who has been my side kick through the thick of it.

Some other grievances from today: Luca likes to drink toilet water. It’s nasty. He also likes to drink the dogs water. Just gross. It is IMPOSSIBLE to have a clean house when you live with my family. I feel like I’ve been cleaning for a hundred years. Can y’all tell I’m having a challenging day?

So yeah: because of my history…the whole section of my life where I dealt with gaslighting and loneliness and a contestant feeling of inadequacy…this thing with Vi today was a bit of a trigger.

So here I am. Airing my grievances. I don’t respond to these parenting challenges with violence. And I really try hard to respond with understanding and kindness. I’m not always successful. Hell, maybe I wasn’t successful today. But I’m still claiming this as a feat of strength.

Parenting is hard. And Festivus isn’t over until the head of the household is pinned. So it was a rough day.

All of the things that we go through in our lives, play a part in who we become. I wouldn’t change a thing. I wouldn’t change who I married. I wouldn’t change the sass I am raising my daughter to have (I just hope that the kindness and bravery will end up being stronger than the sass). I wouldn’t change the constant mess that is my home (it means that my kids are healthy enough to play–even after they drink toilet water). Some days are harder than others. I’m just glad that I can take some time for me, write a blog post, play my guitar, and feel better.

Happy Festivus, Friends.

Thanks for reading. ❤️

Meditate.

The world has been heavy on my heart lately–as I imagine it has been for many others.

So much anger. So much hate. So much that is misunderstood from soul to soul.

I could share my feeling about the NFL. I could write about our President. I could explain what patriotism means to me. Perhaps I will write about each of those things eventually. I certainly feel drawn to–especially because I want to be the change that I want to see in this world.

For today: I’ll share my internal struggle of mom life. Time for me. Self care.

A few months ago I decided to learn how to play the guitar. It’s important to me–to honor my dad–and because music is magic.

There is a cost involved, to pay for my lessons. There is a time commitment, to practice. And that is that. I can’t afford anything else for me. Moms don’t get to do all of the things. If I’m being honest: I should practice 100% more than I do now.

During my meditation tonight, the lady with the calm voice (it’s a guided meditation) said this:

“Poor people have poor people problems. Rich people have rich people problems. Single people have single people problems. Married people have married people problems.”

All situations have problems that accompany them–we are powerless to stop the problems from happening. The power comes in how we handle the problems.

Tonight my meditation took me to a meadow, with birds singing and water flowing down a creek. My deep breaths were cleansing. It was so nice to be there–added bonus–it was free.

I mom so hard that I loose my drive to speak out when I have something to say. I no longer do all of the things that I’ve always loved to do. I can’t possibly take time out of my day to work out. The only reason I take a music lesson is because I pay for it a month in advance and wasting money causes me anxiety.

These are my full-time working mom problems. I’m going to handle them with meditation. It’s free. And tremendously helpful.

Oh- and check it out. I wrote an addition to my blog after my meditation. If the goal is to take care of me and do the things that I love…I’d call this instant gratification.

Look at me: saving the world. One deep breath at a time.

Sunflowers

I was feeling a little bummed out the other night. Violet is on vacation with her dad, and I miss her.  I wanted to take her and L to the magical sunflower field in the next town over and take their picture.  By the time Violet is home from her vacay–the magic will be gone.   

So then I thought I’d just take L.  And then I thought–how can I take pictures of such a little dude next to such big flowers.  

Then I thought I’d just take myself.  (And my camera) I packed it in the car before work and had plans to stop on my way home.  And then I didn’t.  I don’t know why…I just felt sad about going alone.  

Last night I was changing L’s diaper butt and I looked out the window.  It was a gorgeous evening.  Without much thought I scooped him up, grabbed my camera and went to the field.  

It’s like a 3 mile dive at the most.  The first mile I was thinking “how’s this going to work?”.  The next mile I’m like, “maybe I’ll just selfie–it’ll be fine”.  In the homestretch I was just excited to see the sunflowers up close, (and the bees too!).  



When I started to take L out of his Shark Stroller, a girl asked if I would like her to take our picture.  So yeah, that’s pretty amazing.  She took some pictures of my Duke and me, and my soul felt happy.  


(Photo taken by a super sweet girl named Marlee Snyder.  Thanks, lady!)

So here is my point.  Sometimes life gets you down.  Adulting is hard.  I hate going 8 hours without my Violet–let alone a whole week.  Sometimes L would rather kick me in the throat than sleep.  Maybe you feel the dark cloud of depression telling you to skip the Sunflower field this year since nothing matters anyway and it didn’t all work how exactly how you pictured it.  

Don’t let that shit rule your life.  You matter, and your thoughts and opinions matter too.  If all you can feel is the weight of the world–go find something beautiful.  Drink it in.  Appreciate that one thing, even if it’s only for a hot second. 

 There is beauty all around us.  It’s in the smile you give to the old man walking down the street.  It’s in the summer sunset. It’s in the thunder rolling through the sky.  It’s in your children laughing.  It’s in the Sunflower field.  


PS:  little dudes and big flowers are perfectly acceptable to photograph.  

PSS:  If you’re in a dark place with no beauty or magic–call me.  I can’t promise that I’ll know what to say, or that I’ll be able to relate.  I can promise to listen.  And to help you curl up in a blanket and hide for a little bit, if that is what you need.  I’ve been through some shit, too.  I don’t want you to go through your shit alone.  

Love, Light and Peace to you all. ❤️

Father’s Day: without your Father 💔

When I started writing this Blog, my dad was proud.  He was literally proud of every breath I took–so I wasn’t surprised.  He didn’t quite understand what a blog is: so he asked me to print “my book” for him so that he could read it whenever he wanted.  

It’s so obvious to me that my dad is part of who I am, it always has been.  Today:  his absence feels so heavy on my heart.  

I wish he were sitting in the living room with the mustard yellow walls wearing his SEPTA uniform.  He would be playing his guitar, and I would come running down the hall–my six year old self–in my ballerina hippo sweatshirt.  I want to go back to that time; when the man who brought me into this world showed me what it’s like to be loved unconditionally.  He showed me how the mother of his children should be treated, so that I would know what I should demand in some twenty years when I became a mother myself.  



I want to go back to that ferry that took my fifth grade class to Ellis Island and my dad–decades older than the other dads–came as a chaperone.  He wore his signature cap and his sunglasses…cameras in tow.  He was happy, and round.  I was so excited to have him there.  The Twin Towers were still there. It’s so odd to look back at the pictures.  It reminds me of the day they came down–and all I wanted was to be home with my dad.  His safety.  

I want to go back to all of my dance recitals, parades, field hockey games, plays, piano recitals, choral concerts.  I want to be cheering for the basketball team in my senior year.  I want to visit all of the activities that I did because he was there for Every. Single. One.  (Taking pictures)

I want to go back to that time I got the brush stuck in my hair on opening night of Music Man. When my mom and I took hours trying to get the brush out of my hair.  We finally cut it out–leaving my hair a chopped up mess.  I want to be there now, to hear my dad say: “it’s only hair” as I sob over the loss of my normal hairdo.  Lord knows that set me off back then–but he was right.  It was only hair.  Every parent can benefit from not sweating the small stuff.  

I want to go back to that time in college when my dad used Big Red (the house beer funnel) to put gas in my car because it was on empty.  Or the time he told me not to drink too much on my 21st Birthday and I got that over-the-glasses look of scolding when he saw my list of shots.  He said, “Victoria!” in that way of his.  I want to go back to the day I came home from the beach with a tattoo when I was 18 and he said, “it comes off, right?”–but he never once made me feel small for making choices that he didn’t approve of–only loved.  

I want to go back to that time I didn’t dance with him at a wedding when I was 10.  I need a do-over of that.  If I had him here I would dance with him every chance I get.  I’d even go back to our dance on my wedding day–even though we all know how that all turned out.  


I want to go back to seeing him light up so bright every time he saw Violet.  I want to hear him brag about how she’s so smart and funny.  


I want to go back to the few moments I was able to capture of him holding Luciano.  Even at the end of his journey, (my dad’s life was definitely a journey) he was able to comfort and calm his grandson with that magical pop pop power.  

I want to play the guitar with him. I want us to sing together.  I want him to see that so much of me is him–even more so after he’s gone.  

I miss my Dad. 


I know I’m always going on and on about moms and motherhood and all–but dads: you’re all so important too.  I know how lucky I am to have had the dad I had.  His support was worth more all of the wealth in the world.  His love of our family was second to none.  

I know my Dad is still with me.  I know he’s proud of me and my kids and my mom.  I also know that he is proud of Joe.  

I like to imagine our two dads having a Father’s Day cup of coffee. Watching us from their heavenly point of view.  Exchangeing stories of our childhoods.  My dad would thank Joe’s dad for the awesome man that he raised.  It’s not an easy task to develop the next generation of good men.  

Here’s to the dad’s.  The dad’s of the little girls–because it’s your job to teach her what her worth is.  It’s your job to model healthy love.  The dad’s of the little boys–because it’s your job to show him that emotions are ok. It’s your job to teach him respect and concent.  Here’s to the pop-pops who have stepped up to be the man in their grandchild’s life (another thing my dad did).  Here’s to the moms who are pulling double duty and being dad as well.  

Happy Fathers Day, Daddy.  I love you with my whole heart.  I miss you every day.  

Happy Fathers Day Joe.  Thank you for being an amazing foundation and role model for the kids.  I’m sure you are exactly the man your dad wanted you to be.    I love you. ❤️

Momma. 

My earliest recollection of “mothering” takes me back to the early 90’s.  I was 12, and I was caring for my baby nephew.  Soon after my mom was gone, he started to cry and I could tell that something wasn’t right.  

It was a desperate cry, and as I held him his body temperature climbed at a noticeable rate.  

I stripped him down to his diaper and tried to feed him a bottle.  I had heard some moms talk about fevers being dangerous for babies.  I knew that I could get ahold of my mom to come home as soon as she reached her destination–but in a land before cell phones, it was going to take some time.  

I took some wash clothes and made them cool, and laid them all over the baby.  And then I sang.  Every song I could remember hearing my mom sing.  When I ran out of those songs–I sang whatever songs I knew.  

When my mom got home, I filled her in on what I had done so far…and she cried.  

She cried because I had done everything right and she was proud of me.  

Most of us are born with this instinct to care and nurture.  As this Mothers Day approached, I realized that “Motherhood Status” has so many stages. 

By the time Violet was born, I already considered myself a mom.  I was a bonus mom.  (I don’t like the term “stepmom”…bonus is more my style).  Ethan’s mom is alive and well, and present and loving.  I never tried to take her job–I always just tried to be the best mom-like figure I could be for him when he was in my care.  I love that guy so much–and I always will.  I hope that he always knows how much he means to me, and that I’d do anything for him.  No. Matter. What.  

So to all of the Bonus Moms out there:  Happy Mothers Day.  There are so many variables in blended families, so many challenges, heartaches, joys….but at the end of the day:  You, are “Momming”.  I celebrate you.  

Giving birth doesn’t make you a mom.  Having a piece of your heart walking around outside of your body makes you a mom.  

Many people only started to wish me a Happy Mothers Day once Violet was born.  That first Mothers Day doesn’t leave me with fond memories.  I was a newly single mom–with this most perfect little bundle of baby.  I was depressed for about a hundred reasons.  I missed Ethan.  I was exhausted.  I was scared… But I was also to thankful.  Violet kept me going.  I found strength I never knew I had, because of her–I am eternally greatfull to her for that.  She picked me to be her momma because nobody can love her better than I can.  


So to all of the Single Moms:  Happy Mother’s Day.  You are the definition of Fierce.  I see you.  I am sending you love, light, and strength.  Motherhood is hard and you are slaying.  When I think of all of you today (and the other 364 days of the year), I am full of pride.  Be proud of yourself.  Love yourself.  

Today:  today I am sitting in a big comfy couch watching my baby boy sleep. His dad has spoiled me rotten for Mothers Day, and he is currently on his way to a Long Island bakery to get me some Linzer Tarts.  Violet is playing with her BFF Jenny.  She is loving life.  


Momming is hard.  Momming breaks your heart sometimes.  Momming builds your heart back up.  Most nights I need a drink as strong as the woman Violet is growing up to be.  Just when I think I’m going to loose my ever-loving mind–Violet gives me a hug with a “I love you Mommy, with my WHOLE HEART”.  And then Luca smiles so big I can see his tooth.  Violet makes him giggle and I get a game-text from Ethan because he is kicking my ass at text message Battle Ship and it’s my turn to send a bomb even though I know I’m going to miss his ship because he beats me at every game.  

I know this level of Motherhood won’t be here for long. It will elvolve to older kids.  Grown kids.  Maybe one day Grandkids.  I’m excited to experience each step.  Motherhood means so many different things to so many different people.  


Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms.   Nothing works without us.  We are amazing. Strong. Beautiful. So much love to every single one of you.  

To my mom.  You are my rock.  Thank you for being a super hero and for showing our whole family unconditional love every day. If I can be half the mother you are, I’ll consider that a win.  ❤

The Romper. 

Funny story…I think you’ll want to keep reading.

I’ve come to accept that the only thing I’m ever really thinking about is feeding my children.  For Vi, it’s easy–pancakes or waffles–hot dog or ham sandwich–throw an outlier in there every once and awhile.

For Luca it’s much more complicated.

How much milk did he drink today versus how much I pumped?

Do we have sweet potatoes? Was it mango or peaches that upset his belly?  What time did he eat last?  Which side was he nursing on?

Will he need to nurse while we are out and about because if so…I’ll need to dress accordingly.

This is where our story begins.

So, I was at Target this week.  All by myself.  I was feeling a certain kind of way and had the notion to try on bathing suits.

My bathing suit for this year basically needs to be magical.  It’s got to cover the girls, but also provide easy access to them.  A flattering suit would be nice, but let’s face it:  I don’t really give a shit if it’s not because…well, who cares.  I have an infant and I’m constantly hungry.  💣

So while I’m looking for the section with the magical mommy bathing suits–I see these tops.  They are longer and flowy.  Fun bohemian prints, and the best part of all:  they are like a mock wrap with excellent access to the baby feeders (complete with a button to keep them covered when there is no feeding going on).

I’m thinking I’ll get one in every color!

What size should I grab?  Well…it’s a top and it looks like they are pretty loose to begin with.  I’ll try a Large. I better take an XL too… just for good measure.  OMG this is so exciting.

First I try the bathing suits on.  I text some selfies to my bestie for input.  My spirit isn’t totally crushed.  I love Target.  I love being at Target with no kids.

Now.  The perfect nursing tops.  I grab the large first.  You know, start small…go bigger if necessary.

Wait–what is this?  This isn’t a shirt.  It’s got shorts on the bottom, but it’s all one piece.

It’s a romper.  

Now, I know I have no business wearing a romper.  Although–the word romper does kind of sound similar to things I can relate to–like roll-y-poll-y.  You know what?  I’ve always wondered what the romper would look like on me.  I’m feeling groovy today.  Let’s give it a go.

The shorts part was fine: nothing major to report.  I get my left arm in.  I immediately notice that it’s not smooth sailing.  At this point I *knew* that it was time to abort the mission.

Alas, I forged ahead.  My right arm went in.  It wasn’t impossible–but it also wasn’t that easy.  I look up.

Nope.  A Large in this adorable romper is not for me.  I’m pretty well stuffed into this thing and it’s totally sabotaged my fitting room experience.  This needs to come off, and I need to burn some sage to clear out the negative energy it has created.

I go for the right arm.  That’s when it hits me, like a solid sucker punch to the jaw. I can’t take the romper off.  I’m effing stuck.

Well, shit.

The first three or four minutes were used for planning.  How flexible are you, Tori?  Maybe try to “think small” and you can be smaller?  The force is with me, I am one with the force…  No, just bend your arm the same way you did when you put it on.  Should be easy.

Not easy.  At this point I’m starting to think that the boho romper is actually the newest design for a straight jacket.  The fabric is not stretchy at all.  It’s very binding.  This is why mommies love LuLaRoe.  It’s so much better to put clothing on and feel like you’re not wearing any clothing at all–than it is to put the straight jacket boho romper on (and get stuck).

But it’s perfect for nursing, Dammit! 

Okay, okay, okay.  I am okay.  Breath.

Get dressed over top of the romper and get some butter from the dairy section?

Am I going to have to wear the damn thing home, and cut it off?  Do I pull the tag and pay for it?  F no.  That’s a ridiculous waist of money.  I guess I’ll have to shop lift.  I’ve never done that before.  I mean–living on the edge, right?  Bon Jovi would be proud.  Maybe not though…the consumer who this romper was made for is too young to know about John Bon Jovi.  He would think I’m a nut job for trying this.  I’m never trying new things, ever again.

Ok, so my options are:  shop lift–or sit in this fitting room until I die.

I wonder if my kids miss me?  How long will it be until my family files a missing persons report?

I need to go home, but I’m not going down for this.  I’m not calling Joe to come bail me out of prison because I got myself stuck in a fashion forward 911.

I think the resolution was somewhat of an out of body experience.  I don’t really know how I got out of it.

I was sweaty, and very red.  It took what seemed like 5 hours–but was more like 20 minutes.  Still–A crazy amount of time to take an article of clothing off.  Not sexy at all.

I have but one regret.  I should have recorded this experience to share with others.  It was hysterical.  Truly the funniest pickle I’ve found myself in for a long time.  I could have put it to a soundtrack of Chris Farley singing “fat guy in a little coat” and we would have all laughed….and laughed….

Well anyway,  if any of you find a nursing friendly flowing shirt that is NOT a romper–let me know!