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Back To The Beach-Jersey Shore Style

On Labor Day, there are two different types of people resting at the beach. There are the somber tourists who look at their glass half empty.  They recognize this is their last summer shindig at the shore before they head home by bridge or tunnel.  And then there are the giddy locals who look at their glass half full and keep pouring their margaritas knowing their fun in the sun has just begun.  Now that visitors have left the scene and the locals have the Jersey Shore all to themselves, here’s what they plan on saying good morning and goodbye to all month long.

Hello: Taking a quaint family bike ride up and down Ocean Avenue.

Goodbye: Having to constantly break due to congested traffic, cat-calling, or fist-pumping club music.

Hello:  Finding peace and escaping the crowded sidewalk talk.

Goodbye: Constantly being reminded how bad our “Joisey” accent sounds to tourists outside the Garden State.

Hello: Time to exhale:

Goodbye: Sucking in your stomach.  You no longer have to fake a six pack since the change in weather will have you covering up.

Hello: Your take out order arrives on time.

Goodbye: To calling an hour ahead for food delivery and still getting it late and ice cold.

Hello: To free and open parking spaces.

Goodbye:  Driving around in circles and waiting for a spot to open up before the bars close for the night.

Hello:  Smell of fresh air

Goodbye: Sudden whiffs of strong scents like cologne, sweat, cigarette smoke, car gas and fake tanning lotion.

Hello:  Walking barefoot on the sand

Goodbye: Having to pay to get on to the public beach.

Hello: Trip to the ice cream store.

Goodbye: Waiting to order your favorite sundae and keeping your fingers crossed that your kid won’t drop their cone sending you back in the packed line out the door.

Hello:  Absolute anonymity on the beach.

Goodbye:  Sunbathing right next to an old obnoxious college friend you broke up with years ago who you were told moved to an island, but didn’t realize it was Staten Island.

Hello:  Reuniting with your neighbors.

Goodbye:  Picking up their mail for two months because they decided to get out of town and vacation somewhere more quiet.

Beach Etiquette Basics

Being at the beach is like sitting on a Hollywood movie set, there are A LOT of characters on scene. To your right is a bunch of college students ready to surf and party. To your left is a family of five with a colossal pile of toy sea creatures, buckets and diapers. In front of you is a retired couple with their summer reads and gigantic umbrella to shield them from the sun. In back of you are a group of girls that remind you of the ones you graduated high school with in their itty-bitty bathing suits, selfie sticks and boyfriend drama. And then there is you and your crew with your own personal stories and beach agendas. No matter what part of the script you fall into many of us bury our beach manners in the sand. From rocking out too hard to leaving a pile of garbage behind, don’t forget every beach bum has one mission in mind, to kick back and relax, BUT we should never forget to respect! Here’s a list of need to know etiquette basics when sitting at the shore.

Don’t play your music too loud.
From hip-hop to soft rock keep your tunes at a moderate volume. Your neighbors may prefer lying in the sun in silence instead of listening to Broadway songs on shuffle.

Keep your PDA and bad language at bay.
Otherwise, earmuffs and blindfolds may become a beach bag essential.

Throwing a frisbee is fun, until it whizzes by another beach goers blanket or worse…their heads.
Best to keep your catches away from the crowds.

Eating sand is as appetizing as it sounds.
Obviously, you can’t be such a stickler if someone gets sand in your space, but watching where you walk will help eliminate messing up another neighbors resting place.

Attention those who litter and think no one is looking…someone is always watching.
Of course, we have all made the mistake at least once, but no one wants trash left by their towel or in between their toes. Please throw out your food, wrappers and gum.

Drinking too much can provide a negative outdoor experience for all parties.
None of us adults need to be reminded about the consequences of consuming too much alcohol, but doing your business in moderation is probably best especially when there are young families around.

We all love to people watch, but most of us have also been watched.
Keep your jokes about the drunk dad dancing to Elvis and eye rolls at the stranger prancing around in a neon sequin string bikini on the down low. It’s never nice to stare or shame others. By the way you never know if the person next to you got the same swimsuit on sale.

Be polite.
It sounds easy, but there are times we have to remind ourselves to say excuse me, please and thank you, even when we are competing to claim the best spot on the beach.



The Obligatory Tradition

I want to begin this article by telling all of you – I. Love. My. Parents. However, we bond better when there is separation between our visits. Even when I lived under their roof, I preferred a long-distance relationship with them. When they were downstairs, I was upstairs, when they were home I was out. I went to college out of state and worked and married while living in NYC. After giving birth to my first baby, I did a complete 180. I moved back to Monmouth County, NJ. The same state, I was born in and the same county I was raised in and you guessed it…where my parents still live. The same policy holds true now that I am a mom. I enjoy spending time with them, but in social increments. Since there is a basic come and go understanding, when spring break was approaching I naturally assumed I could schedule a mini-vacation for my husband, myself and kids – even if it overlapped with the beginning of Passover. About five years ago, my father claimed Passover as an “all-you-can-eat” and “all-you-can-invite” tradition. Of course, it is a very generous gesture of him and my mom to extend the holiday to my in-laws, my brother’s in-laws, neighbors and friends. He likes to celebrate the holiday for family bonding purposes and not religious ones, which is fine with me. As opposed to the traditional Four Questions to kick off the Seder, his four questions are 1. Did I cut my hair? 2. Who do I still talk to from high school? 3. Can he get a high-five from the grandkids? 4. Can I get him a toothpick?
That’s why I assumed when I didn’t get the phone call that Passover dinner 2018 was happening, making alternative plans was fair game. And again, let me remind you, we don’t keep tabs on how often we see each other including during holidays, birthdays, weddings…etc. I’m not going to say I completely forgot about their once a year hostessing extravaganza, but since they didn’t bring it up to me I wasn’t going to bring it up to them. Then I got the call from my father, “Hey Hopester, I’m going to see you guys for the holiday, right?”I replied with hesitation, “I don’t think so, dad. We made plans to go away since I didn’t hear from you.” I was prepared to get a little sigh of disappointment and then we would move on and he would ask me, “What else is going on?”
Instead, the unexpected happen. There was silence. And that’s all the “Gefilte guilt” I needed before I crumbled and said, “Um forget it, I’ll cancel our plans”. Although, I felt like a child at that moment, I also felt more mature than I have ever felt as an adult. I knew these moments won’t last forever with my parents. And once they stop hostessing their version of a Seder I would probably take over the tradition…

My kids better show up!

Parenting Tips From The Pearsons

Raising kids is super hard, but the Pearson’s make it look so incredibly easy. At this point, you may be asking yourself one of three questions, “Who are the Pearsons?” “Do they do house calls?” Or “Is she talking about Rebecca and Jack Pearson from the hit show, This is Us?”

Ding, ding, ding! Thankfully, creator Dan Fogelman (a Jersey man himself), has managed to create two perfectly imperfect fictional characters that have all the ideal techniques to raising children in today’s homes. Yes, I know it’s just make believe, but somehow their troubles and triumphs as a family are eerily relatable to modern parenting with the exception of Mandy Moore’s beauty pageant looks and Milo Ventimiglia’s irresistible yet rarely attainable Dad bod. From dealing with serious topics like race, gender issues, and weight struggles to everyday family drama such as sibling rivalry, school grades and teen love these are the top Pearson parenting tips we can all apply in our real family life.

Honor Your Child’s Feelings:
How many times have you had a terrible morning, a busy work schedule or in desperate need of a lazy day at exactly the same time your daughter is suffering from her own life crisis. Most likely, you dismiss it as growing pains and go about dealing with your adult problems. When Jack and Rebecca’s slightly overweight 8-year old daughter, Kate, becomes body conscious of her figure at the neighborhood swim club, her father knows exactly how to drop everything and tend to her hurt feelings. He introduces the “magic t-shirt.” He tells her, “When you wear it your enemies will see you as you want to be seen.” Kate believed her father and chose for her enemies to see her as a princess, but that wasn’t even the best part or biggest lesson for me. After she covered herself he reassured her, “Daddy already sees you that way without the shirt.”

Treat Your Spouse Like A Legend
Spoiler Alert – ALL Married Couples Fight!
A lot of us even criticize our better half in front of friends and family without even realizing it. But praising your significant other in private or public situations creates a stronger bond within the entire family. For example, little deeds such as exchanging love notes, presents, or powerful affirmations let the family know you are team that can’t be ripped apart. Rebecca Pearson’s words to her son Randall speak straight from a protective mother and wife’s heart, “Our marriage wasn’t perfect, it’s true. But none are. Your father wasn’t perfect either, but he was pretty damn close. As close as they come.”

Following Tradition Isn’t Always The Answer.
For those who don’t know the back story of This Is Us, here is your quick recap. Two parents are expecting a family of triplets on the dad-to-be’s birthday. Unfortunately, one baby is lost during childbirth and the parents adopt a baby boy on the same day of delivery, dubbing their blended family as the “Big Three.” Since day one, the “Big Three” weren’t raised traditionally, but individually. Each child looked very different, enjoyed different hobbies and had different personalities. Instead of creating cookie cutter kids the parents pay attention to each child’s cues and deal with each situation in a unique fashion. “There’s no lemon…so sour…that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.” If only the doctor who delivered my kids passed on these words of wisdom to me.

Honesty Isn’t A Character Flaw.
We all have baggage. Mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, your neighbor’s dog, but admitting your issues is better than covering them up. Obviously, parents don’t need to tell their children EVERYTHING, but sometimes revealing your weaknesses makes you the biggest hero of all.

Thank you Pearsons for the family therapy.

*Originally Published in March Issue of Community Magazine NJ

“Think Positive” Say it with me…”Think Positive!’

It’s January and I already learned something new, this “New Year”. I definitely have the potential to be happier in 2018 than I was in 2017. How do I know? Like any other goal, I can’t sit idle, eat a bunch of Oreos and wait for a pocket full of optimism to appear, I have to work towards finding it. Just to be clear, I’m not saying I’m miserable, but I can admit that being a mom opens up a whole new door of questioning and anxiety. Is my son making friends? Is my daughter confident enough? Am I too involved with my children or am I not involved enough? Did I set the alarm? Did I just offend that other parent? Scattered, uncertain thoughts like these can definitely become a buzz kill in the circle of happy parenting. Thankfully, I recognize the need to CHILL OUT in order to live a happier, healthier and stronger life. Here’s my simplified 4-step plan to becoming a more positive person, partner and parent.

Find Your Jam:
We all need a motivational mantra to get us out of our brain funk. Whether it’s singing lyrics to an encouraging ballad, reciting a quote to build up inner strength or rocking out to your favorite fight song, don’t underestimate the power of positive words. Create a parenting play list to help boost your mood and motivate yourself with out getting overwhelmed or psyching yourself out. One quote that keeps me upbeat is written on the wall at a local hair salon. It reads, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely,” by Roald Dahl.

Set Clear Expectations:
One of the biggest pitfalls of completing a goal is not seeing results as quickly as you want. Once you muster up enough courage to lose weight, start a new business, or ask for a raise–you instantly expect success. If you don’t receive that positive feedback you easily become discouraged. Recognizing fear is a major factor in self-sabotage. Expect obstacles and distractions, but keep moving forward. A great way to calm nerves is working out, meditating or even getting a massage (also helpful for maintaining a feel god attitude).

Laugh it off:
You ate too many carbs, you made a mistake at work, you yelled at your kids for screaming “Mooooom” when they really had a good reason for calling you. You have a choice, you can beat yourself up and throw a major pity party or you can find some humor in these social blunders and not take the mishaps so seriously. Eliminating the emotional reaction and searching for some comic relief will help calm you down from overreacting and quitting your goal.

Get Real:
Who says you only have 12 months to complete your mission? According to U.S. News and World Report, 80 percent of resolutions are dissolved by the second week of February. Ditch the pressure people! Whenever I have a moment of weakness I always imagine what I would say to my child if he or she were having the same issue. Doing this technique helps bring me back to reality and puts matters into perspective. Just like friendships, marriage and parenting –staying healthy and happy is a job and you have to work at it everyday.



5 Tricks To Make Your Summer Last Longer

Summer Isn’t Done. Phew! 5 cool ways to kick back and still have fun in the sun.
From hunting for lost treasures in the sand to searching for the greatest treats on land–
Lifestyle expert Terri Alpert, Founder and CEO of Uno Alla Volta shares her most favorite summer staples. Here’s 5 creative tips that can send us moms back to the beach instead of back to school shopping all month long.

Reveal Your Sole:

There’s nothing better than walking on sandy beaches with a cute pair of flip-flops and what trendsetter doesn’t want to show off their feet in a pair of Havaianas? These fun flops come in hundreds of different styles and eye-popping colors for adults and your kids. You can even custom make your own style! Since its creation in 1962, Havaianas created a loyal fan-base for their comfort and unmistakable design. Alpert loves the Slim Organic White/Silver ($28), and little fashionistas will love the Kids Slim Pop Sandal Rose Gold ($20). Choose from an ice cream sundae print with a golden spoon embellishment or a popcorn print with a salt shaker embellishment.



Stay Hot With Suede:

Keep your style up-to-date with a statement handbag. These Uno Alla Volta Florentine Suede Bucket Bags($248) are handcrafted by the hearts and hands of the very artisans Alpert calls “her family.” These beautiful suede handbags add a pop of color to any summer outfit. The designs are stylish, roomy, and the Italian suede is masterfully handcrafted in Florence, Italy. Each bag features a hand-cut suede tassel and braided leather handles. They come in many beautiful, vibrant colors and can only be found exclusively at Uno Alla Volta.

Uno Alla Volta

Uno Alla Volta



Find The Perfect Shade:

Alpert told A New Mom In Town that nails have come a long, long way since she was a kid in the 70s (props to the UK fashion student who designed experimental press-on nails carrying an Oyster chip)! Inspired by the sun-soaked shores of Antigua, Essie’s 2016 summer nail polish collection ($3 each) defies convention with its bold, eye-popping colors. The metallic shimmer adds an unexpected jolt to your mani and pedi. With names like Viva Antigua!, Coconut Cove and Berried Treasure, Essie’s summer collection is a dream come true.



Keep Away The Summer Blues With A Yummy Dessert:

Nothing screams summer more than ice cream. Alpert is a huge fan of Coolhaus, a Brooklyn-based brand, which bills themselves as architecturally-inspired gourmet ice cream. This delectable treat is available nationwide and includes innovative, unique flavors including fried chicken caramel (with hints of cayenne, sage and black pepper) and handmade candy bars (filled with white chocolate and fresh, locally-sourced mint leaves). Bonus: you can also order Coolhaus online.





Remember To Dip, Sip and Dine:

As a native New Englander, Alpert says, “There is no other destination with charm and glamour like breathtaking Newport, RI.” Known for its Gilded Age mansions on Bellevue Avenue and pristine beaches, Newport also has a vibrant, contemporary side, made manifest with quirky shops and outstanding restaurants. The famed Newport Jazz Festival has been a summer staple since its inception in 1954 when Billie Holiday and Dizzy Gillespie performed. The festival attracts music lovers of all types, not to mention celebrities and dignitaries from around the globe.

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What is your favorite end of the summer tip or trip?  Let us know.

He Said What??

imageOne of the biggest payoffs of having kids…their political incorrectness. I took my 4-yr-old to the bookstore. Instead of being focused on the legendary “Purple Rain” performer, he blurted out what most of us were thinking, but couldn’t say. “Mom, is this book about armpit hair?”

What’s the funniest quotes your kids have ever said?

First Lesson In Motherhood: Shit Happens

I never thought being a first time mom was going to be easy, but I didn’t expect to consider myself a failure the day my daughter was born. I kept a journal throughout my entire pregnancy. I recorded my physical ailments (morning sickness for a full nine months), my food cravings, my happy days, my sick of being pregnant days, my baby sonogram updates and promises I vowed to work on everyday to give my child the best life possible. I was committed to being the balanced, confident perfect mom with all the right tips and tricks to help navigate my daughter through birth to adulthood. One of those promises was breastfeeding. If you asked me before I got pregnant what I would feed my baby, I would have responded dubiously, “Coffee and cream”?!
Since I was becoming a mom and was responsible for taking care of another person besides my own selfish needs I was going to give her the greatest gift. “Breast is best,” I was told countless of times. Experienced moms, lactation specialists, doulas and scientific research expressed the positive effects breast milk has on a child’s growth, health and brain function. And there was another bonus. Theories suggested body-to-body contact helped form a mother daughter bond I instantly craved. I imagined myself sitting next to her 20 years later discussing the joy I received while cradling her in my arms as I fed her milk from me, my body, the dedicated mother who would sacrifice everything to keep her happy and healthy. However, due to unforeseen circumstances the breastfeeding daydream images surrounded by lullaby tunes playing in the background with a fixed crooked smile on my face dressed in a cute white sun dress turned into a major shit show!
As soon as she came out I sang her name out loud in the delivery room and then growled at my husband to hand her to me. I was eager to introduce myself and watch her latch on effortlessly. Except, she never did. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize I qualified as a woman with inverted nipples. My boob malfunction drove me into a tailspin. I was drugged due to a C-section and left dumfounded by my inability to nurture my child naturally. I became depressed, angry and desperate. I requested a lactation specialist to visit me in the hospital and tell me what my chances were of delivering breast milk to my daughter. Already I let my daughter down–only nine hours after she was born. I tried everything. Nipple covers, breast shells, a breast pump to convert my inverted nipples to erect ones. The anxiety overwhelmed me, I felt like I was starving my child and I was exhausted. My breasts failed me and I failed her. Being overly paranoid and emotional, I decided to supplement her with formula while I tried tirelessly to get her to latch on.
I was engorged the day we came home from the hospital. I assumed this was a sign that my body was ready to surrender to her suck. Unfortunately, the milk buildup became too painful and my baby nurse had to help me pump it out through my screaming and crying. I was lucky if I got out half an ounce of milk. According to experts, babies don’t need many ounces in the beginning stages, but after seeing how much I produced is when my “mother instinct” kicked in. Yes, I could keep trying to feed her naturally while being cranky and feeling defeated or I can try to get to know my child and give her what I think is best. I opted for the latter. I kept my daughter at a healthy weight with formula feeding meals and whatever drips of breast milk I could pump out for dessert. I returned my boppy pillow and pump a month later. It’s almost been seven years since the boob fiasco. My daughter has been attached to my side ever since.bf2

Don’t Be A Decorating Dope

imageI love the holidays and all the love and joy they bring, but I despise decorating for them. I admit I have very little patience and all these elaborate Pinterest items put my work to shame. I wouldn’t say I am Mrs. Scrooge because I still get butterflies in my stomach when I hear Mariah Carey’s, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” chime from every radio station’s playlist, but I don’t yearn to spread my holiday cheer in lights, fake snow and mistletoes. An eggnog latte and a pumpkin muffin from any coffee shop is enough to get my jingle bells ringing.

My daughter thinks there is something wrong with me. She’s six. Her opinion is still up for debate, but I agreed to hear her grievances with my anti-decorating demeanor. She was rather honest with her assessment. “Mom, you are the only mom, who doesn’t like to decorate for the holidays”. When she approached me with this accusation I was caught off guard? “What do you mean?” I figured my question would challenge her to think and then she would just give up. However, she countered with a line I may have mumbled in the past, “You don’t want to ruin our new, fresh painted walls.” She got me. There was no arguing back. She was right. I couldn’t deal with all the mess or stress. For the first time in my life, I actually felt guilty about my anti-creativity holiday stance. Maybe there really was something wrong with me. Was I killing the December mood for my kids? Will they be scarred for life with out witnessing their dad and I shop for candy canes to hang, menorahs to light and snowflakes to stick on the windows? Should I be more willing and excited about giving up hours possibly even days of my time to create a winter wonderland? All of a sudden these thoughts overwhelmed me and I started analyzing the kind of message I was sending to my family, friends…oh no, the neighbors. Was I known as the bad Santa on the block?
I took a deep breath and then asked my daughter what she wanted to create. I would let her make whatever she wanted for the house and we could hang it wherever she chose. She decided on drawing a gingerbread man and a Christmas tree. Then, we cut out the sketches and taped them to her armoire so she can look at her display as she goes to bed. I think it took a total of 10 minutes, but the time didn’t matter. She was happy. And I was satisfied.

I realized the importance of decorating to her was not how fancy or glittery you get, but she wanted to make something special with me, her mommy. No judgments. It wasn’t the quantity but the quality of time we shared together. My 6 yr. old made me feel like a real dope and for a good reason. Thanks to her, I will never forget this year’s holiday and the important lesson I learned with our two make-do festive decorations.