Family, Life, Parenting

Hey Kids! The 80s Were Awesome.

We’ve been home for a long time. It’s only in the past two weeks or so that we’ve begun to emerge from, well, whatever this has been. During our time at home, we’ve given our kids time to simply be kids – no schedules, no entertaining them, no hovering. I remind them to pick up after themselves and turn the lights out when the leave the room. Not too different from my childhood in the 1980s.

My walk down memory lane was recently published by Her View From Home. You can read the full article here and full text is below. xo

My Kids Are About To Relive the Magic of My 1980s Summers


When I was a kid in the ’80s, we lived a very different life. We often left home on our bikes and didn’t return until the street lights came on, or when we could hear my father whistling for us to come back. Whichever came first. His whistle could carry for blocks, which was important because we were usually blocks away from home.

All of us in the neighborhood would get on our bikes and meet up with other friends.  Some of us were school friends, some were just friends from the neighborhood. It didn’t really matter how we knew each other ­­­­­— what mattered was that we had lives that our parents never really knew about.

There’s been jokes that those of us from generation X are handling the pandemic so well, in many ways because of this. There were aspects of our lives that we lived fully on our own. As a child, I often spent the entire day at the country club by myself. Yes, I understand the optics of a country club, but the point is, when I was as young as 8 years old, I would spend the day away from home and my only real supervision came from the lifeguards and one bar tender who happened to be my cousin. It wasn’t until the monthly snack bar bill arrived at home that I was told that ordering 22 Nutty Buddy ice cream cones in one day was not a good thing to do. The point is, I have a lot of experience handling things on my own.

I turned out fine. I didn’t grow up having someone micro managing my childhood and I turned out absolutely fine. I navigated life, the ups and downs; and learned.

I never thought my kids would have a similar life, but here we are.

I know being on lock down isn’t all easy and fun. For me, though, on a personal level, it brings me back to my life in the 80s – I’m doing my own thing and not exactly hating it. In many ways, growing up as a kid in the 80s has totally prepared me for this and I’m grateful for it.

At the same time, I understand that this isn’t the 80s and things are not the same. What we are going through poses tons of logistical challenges for working families. The financial uncertainty can be terrifying. I’m a teacher and yet sometimes I hate homeschooling my own children. There, I said it.

But each day I continually focus on the positive. Trying to see the good in every day. Finding gratitude in the simple things. And honestly, under the circumstances, my entire day is made up of simple things, so there’s plenty to be thankful for.

After school is done around 11:00am, my kids head outside and we don’t hear much from them. There’s a sign on my back door that reads:

Not so fast! Before you head out, did you:

Brush your teeth? Your father and I are not dentists!

Pick up your plates and cups? I’m not the housekeeper.

Turn off the TV? Turn off the lights? We don’t own stock in Louisiana Power and Light.

Be sure and close the door behind you. We don’t want to condition the air outside.

Lastly, be sure and drink plenty of water! But not out of the hose, of course.


I grew up with a lot of unstructured time, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I was often left to entertain myself, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

Some days I watched a ton of television, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I learned to navigate collaboration and negotiation among friends on my own, and tuned out just fine. They will, too.

I didn’t have my adults involved in every decision I made or micromanaging my life, and turned out just fine. They will, too.

I’m positive my kids are still learning. I’m positive they are creating in new ways that they wouldn’t have done before. I’m positive that the bottom of my son’s feet may be permanently discolored because he gets so incredibly dirty every day. I’m positive that my daughter is learning a new sense of independence and self-determination.

I’m positive that is exactly what their souls need right now.

I’m positive that the slower pace is good for my husband and me. I’m positive that our house will likely be completely renovated when this is all over. The collaboration and time spent outside is good for us.

I never thought our kids would be living their best life in the similar way I did when I was 10, but here we are. Have fun out there, kids! The world is your oyster. Make good decisions, be kind, have fun, and hydrate. I’ll see you at dinner. xo

Humor, Life

Pandemic Decisions: Proceed With Caution


(Narrator: Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t so much a story, rather it’s a cautionary tale about the foolish decisions we make while quarantined during a world-wide pandemic. We will file this under, ‘How Quickly We Forget.’)

DAY 1: This might be my best idea yet! It’s going to be beyond amazing. A painted door is so expected! Who wants a painted door, anyway? And what glorious weather! Thank you dear Lord for gracing us with such beauty. What a perfect setting for me to create. Life at this moment — sheer perfection.

DAY 1 (afternoon): You know rustic is in fashion. Maybe all that blue, green, and white left over paint doesn’t look so bad? What are your thoughts on just leaving it like this?

DAY 2: There is no end in sight. Whose stupid idea was this anyway? All I’m doing is sanding. Any more and I’m certain our door will be as thin as a sheet. The dog will surely be able to run right through it. And the scraping. So much scraping. Little Jesus make it stop.

DAY 3: What the hell do you mean ‘fine sanding?’ All I have been doing is sanding. You mean there’s more sanding? I’m just ready to make it pretty.

DAY 3 (afternoon): I’m in the third circle of hell. (What do you think it means when I’m trying my hardest to blow away the dust while wearing a face mask? Why won’t this shit blow away?!)

DAY 4: I’m blowing dust particles out of my noise and my throat is scratchy. Is that you ‘rona? I’m sure of it. I’m contemplating the idea of living without a front door.


DAY 6: Brian is so supportive. Although he tells me shit I do not want to hear like — you can’t just leave all this rough wood sticking up, and no Mel we can’t just leave it unfinished — but I know he’s right. He rallies the troops. One more push! Hang in there Mel we’re almost there!

DAY 7: I’m dead inside but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m also super nervous that the end product is going to look horrible. I have no idea what I’m doing. Whose dumb idea was this? I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.

DAY 7 (afternoon): I have children, don’t I? Where are our kids? Is everyone okay? What day is it? Have you eaten? What’s your current life status, small people? You want dinner? Okay but mom and dad have to go back and hang the goddam door up again. Yes, again.

DAY 8: I cannot contain my glee! It’s beyond amazing!! I knew it! WE ARE SO DAMN SMART. We make such a good team. I never had a single doubt! Whatever the past few days was like — it wasn’t so bad — it was totally and completely worth it!

(NARRATOR: And just like that friends, she instantly forgot everything that happened during days 1-7. She was clearly drunk with satisfaction. While she was blissfully enjoying the fruits of their labor, without hesitation she applied the first coat of strip-ez to the back door…)

This originally appeared on Facebook at Melanie Forstall – Stories of Life, Love, and Mothering Join me over there for more!

Family, Life, Parenting

If You Love Someone, Let Them Lead. Sometimes…

I swear sometimes I feel like the universe is laughing hysterically at me. Parenthood is the ultimate paradox — we are hardwired to risk our lives protecting our children from harm, and yet at the same time we can’t suffocate them from experiencing life. Whether we like it or not, we have to allow our children to feel disappointment. While I know that’s what we should do, it’s not always something that I want to do.

We have to let them struggle.

We just returned from a cruise to the Bahamas for Mardi Gras break. It was our kids’ first cruise and a much-needed getaway for our family. There is nothing quite like lounging poolside, basking in the warm sun, eating endless soft-serve ice cream. (By the way, I never want to eat again.)

Once on board, we saw that there was going to be a talent show towards the end of the cruise. Immediately, my son declared that he wanted to sign up for the show to play piano. We headed down on day two for him to sign up. We were greeted by the happiest Activities Director named Mauricio who sadly informed us that the show was for adults only. We were about to leave when he stopped us, “Look, let me get an idea of who will be performing and I’ll let you know.”

I put it out of my head. He had scribbled my stateroom number down on a scrap of paper – unlikely he’ll remember us and even more unlikely that he’ll ever find us.

Four days later while we were headed out of our stateroom for breakfast, the phone rang. (What? Who calls stateroom phones anymore anyway?)

“Heelllooo! I hope you recognize my voice! I have some fabulous news!”

It was happy Mauricio calling to tell us that William was going to be in the show! (holy crap) “Meet us in the theater for 10:00am today for rehearsal!”

Then he quietly whispered, “Ok momma, he can really play right?” (holy crap)

We show up in the theater, and as expected, William was the only child there. Mauricio went over a few logistics for the show that would be held for about 350 people later that day. (holy crap)

Brian and I asked William what he was going to play and encouraged him to practice on the piano on the huge stage. He sort of shrugged his shoulders and said, “I’m okay.”

Oh my god small child, you are NOT okay. You are going to play the piano in front of 300+ strangers, you better start rehearsing.

Thankfully Mauricio asked William to come up and get comfortable with the piano.


He cranked out about three chords and came back down to our seats.

That’s it? What the hell is happening.

We encouraged him to practice an actual song but he just gave us a shrug and said, “I’m okay, mom!”

I was feeling a bit nauseated and Brian was on the verge of having a stroke. We calmly tried to encourage him to practice a bit more – in less than five hours he’d be performing in front of 300 strangers. Not to mention several friends we had made along the way and who William had joyfully invited to come to the show.

I could feel the mood within the family begin to tense up. We are the adults, and in may cases, we do know what is best. We know what it’s like to fail, to get hurt, to feel embarrassed, and feel regret. We have been through it all and want nothing more than to protect our children from experiencing these things. We know that sometimes we need to practice and prepare! We also know that it’s usually a horribly crazy idea to plan your performance in a big talent show by just winging it.


I turned to Brian and tried to get us to focus on letting go. Clearly William is comfortable with his choice and maybe we needed to follow his lead on this one. It makes zero sense in my adult brain, but the last thing I wanted to do was to make the experience a negative one for him. My gut, although I was questioning it, said to let go and let him take the lead. We’ll be there to help him over the bumps. No matter what.

Two o’clock rolled around and all I wanted was a really large margarita.

Mauricio open the show and introduced the first performer — William. (holy crap)

“Ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome, all the way from Louisiana, with nerves of steel, William!”

(holy crap)

Brian and I could not have been more proud. (or relieved)

After the trip, I sent the video to William’s piano teacher to show him the performance. I was a little perplexed when he responded with this:

“WOW! That was awesome, love how he started with an altered version of the chord progression and slowly built it up until it sounded like Heart and Soul. Everyone knows it and the crowd loved it. He’s got a good sense for how to move a crowd!”

What the hell? Altered chord progression? Seriously, that’s a thing? And my kid knows how to do it?

I showed the response to Brian, then we asked William about it.

“You were playing an altered version of the chord progression??” As I read it from my phone.


“You knew that all along?”


“Without even really practicing?”

“Yes. Mom, I told you I was okay.”

And he did. And he was. He told us all along he was okay. Although it was not easy, I’m so glad we listened to him and let him take the lead.

I often hear people describe parenthood as a journey and I’d say very much that it is. A journey in which the line leader may change. The key to making the best of it, from what I can gather, is to know when to let go and follow along. xoxo





A Little Fantasy for My Reality….

Today I am obsessed. Strange, because I just found out about my new obsession last night but I am obsessed with having boudoir pictures taken. I found out that someone we know is a photographer and she is doing beautiful, glamorous pictures of women in various stages of undress. They are so beautiful and well done I am obsessed with having them done! I know it’s odd to have an overnight obsession but it really makes total sense. Believe me, I am fully aware of my physical appearance, and well, lack of fullness but I still think I need to do this. I know that I have the glamorous, sexy body of a thirteen year-old boy but hey, I can at least rock a pair of boy shorts. I think doing something like this will help balance out my life as a hands-on mother of two. Since my day-to-day life isn’t necessarily that glamorous, I think having pictures like this will help me keep a healthy balance and remember that underneath that crust of the morning’s oatmeal on my sleeve there lives a hot-blooded woman.

So, if none other than being totally fun and indulgent, I believe that I, like many other moms need to take a full set of boudoir pictures for the following reasons:

  • There is a distinct possibility that at any given time you may find one or more of the following in my purse: Perry the Platypus’ hat, rocks, dead flowers, and/or used kleenex.
  • I often pee with one child on my lap and the other wanting to know exactly what I am producing. Clearly we have no boundaries.
  • Without a second thought I will use my shirt to wipe my son’s snotty nose.
  • I sleep in the same kind of shirts as my husband.
  • What a better place to hide my child’s booger than in my jeans pocket?
  • There are times while we are watching television that I actually ask Audrey to stop talking just so I can hear what is being said. Look, I haven’t seen an episode of The Real Housewives in so damn long it’s no wonder I want to be sure I don’t miss Sister Bear’s anecdote or what great idea just flew into Thomas’ funnel.
  • Until last week’s purchase, all of my jeans were from before I had Audrey. That makes them over 5 years old. Age isn’t really the biggest issue, though. You see these jeans were from Old Navy and thanks to a good friend who enlightened me that those jeans are actually “gateway” mom jeans. Oh.the.horror.
  • I’m not the least bit embarrassed when I am verbally praised for doing such a good job on the potty. In public.

So do you see why I’m obsessed? Now I just have to find a small window of time when I can get all people big and small out of my house so I can become the woman who my wonderful husband first fell in love with. A few moments in time when no one needs me, no one has to tell me about a boo-boo, and no one needs me to find a missing toy. A few moments to have fun, and well most likely miss them.

Happy Mothering,



A Few Random Thoughts…

Just a few things that have been clouding my brain lately…

  • When shopping for a vacation condo, the descriptions should read something more like this: “Two bedrooms, two baths, with view of the gulf. Gourmet kitchen and luxury bath. Convection microwave  that is certain to confuse the hell out of you. Like pancakes? Try our pillows.”
  • It is only when you being to feel more like your old self and find that inner confidence that you realize you have a glob of dried oatmeal stuck to your bikini top.
  • Why is the dishwasher ALWAYS full of clean dishes?
  • I think the invention of the ‘Big Gulp’ is where we went wrong, or at least off course. I mean, does anyone really need 64 ounces of any kind of liquid at any one given sitting? 64? I would argue probably not.
  • How does one completely forget how to make dumplings? After three tries I think it’s time to give up.
  • I know it’s totally weird but I like the way my baby’s lovie smells after he’s slept with it all night long. (Yes, I know it’s been drooled on.)
  • No matter how well I have slept the night before, at any given time during the day I am at least a little bit tired.
  • Even tired, there are times at any given point in the day when I feel a flutter of happiness and I can hear my heart whisper, “I love my life.”

Happy Mothering,



Our Picture Perfect Life….Sort Of

Just as I entered motherhood feeling totally unprepared, I too enter the world of blogging totally unprepared. How often should I write? What is too much? Not enough? I think I will take the same perspective I do when it comes to potty training my daughter. I tell her, “Let’s just sit on the potty and see what happens.” So, I will write when it feels right and just see what happens…

So, yesterday I wrote a check to the photographer for $203 for pictures that are, at best, okay. His work is great, don’t get me wrong, it’s the subjects that leave room to be desired. My daughter, as beautiful as she is, wouldn’t so much as crack a smile. In no way was she buying into the giggles, jingling, and “show me your princess smile” being energetically yelled from the photographer and his assistant. She wasn’t going to budge. One photo, in particular she is giving such a distasteful look I dubbed it, “Mean Joe Green.” Of course I ordered a copy. I had to. I had to have living proof that she could grimace with such expression at such a young age.

So as I was reviewing these pictures I thought about how my perspective has changed so much in less than two years. When my daughter was first born there was definitely a sense of wanting all outward appearances to be just right. Especially since she was a girl. I wanted everything to look perfect. Yeah right. I remember our first Santa picture like it was yesterday. She was not quite a year old and we set off to the mall to take what I certainly knew was going to be the perfect Santa picture.

I have such a wonderful mother. As a baby and young child she made many of my clothes. She is so talented. Her work as a drapery designer has landed her jobs for a few famous people that will remain unnamed. Anyway, she kept this green velvet jumper that she made for me to wear one year so of course my daughter wore it for her first Christmas. The green jumper monogrammed with her name, the crisp white shirt with Peter Pan collar, and black patent leather Mary Janes. Sounds perfect right? Did I mention the giant white bow with a green monogrammed initial? Anyway, she sat on Santa’s lap, cried and they snapped the picture. Anyone who has ever taken pictures at the mall can sympathize…we left there paying over $50 for poor quality, over advertised pictures. I couldn’t get past all of the fake snow photoshopped across my daughter’s head. I felt a little defeated when we left. We swore we would not go back to the mall again.

So Christmas year number two rolled around and I was on a hunt to find a great new venue for Christmas pictures. I found out that Santa would be at the new Cabella’s store and the pictures were free! Paydirt! That was our plan. We packed up on what turned out to be a very rainy night to get the perfect Santa picture. You could cut the tension with a knife. I was walking about five paces in front of my husband on a mission to find that free Santa and score a place in line. That would have been fine but there was no line. Just a bunch of people milling around getting on Santa’s lap while an associate from the store snapped pictures with a digital camera. Hmmm…I was going to make the best of it. I had to. I found Santa. He was sitting in a rocking chair in front of a menagerie of taxidermied wildlife. Being that this is south Louisiana, I guess it was appropriate.

As we waited for the child in from of us to finish, my husband looked at me and asked, “What do we do if she starts to cry?” I looked straight at him and said, “We will leave her there.” As if I would take her off just because she was crying. Crying baby Santa pictures are adorable and besides she won’t remember. So we sat her on his lap and to our delight she didn’t cry! Instead she looked right at Santa and said, “Pink bicycle.” A girl who can state what she wants. I’m so proud of her!

Turns out the printer ran out of ink so there were no pictures from me to pick up. I quickly scrolled through my camera (they allowed you to take your won pictures) in hopes that I captured the perfect shot. To my anguish I saw in every picture my daughter’s dress was turned upward to reveal her tights and diaper! “We have to retake them!” I said to my husband and I took another look at the pictures. He kept telling me that it wasn’t a big deal. Well it was a big deal to me! I gave him the cold shoulder and finally demanded that we go back. My daughter, thankfully, happily sat on his lap and my husband fixed her dress with expert precision. I took about four pictures and felt a wave of relief. God I’m nuts….but I know I can’t possibly be the only one.

I doubt my daughter will remember that day but I certainly will. It was tense and I argued with my husband all for the sake of the perfect picture! Four months later we decide to have family pictures taken. The day of I could feel that anxiety rising in me and I had to tame it. I remembered how awful the past photo events were and I didn’t want to relive that.

So we were outside along the lakes close to our Governor’s Mansion sitting in the grass as a family. The photographer and his assistant tried, and tried, and tired to get our daughter to smile but she just wouldn’t budge. She wasn’t the least bit interested in having her picture taken or playing along with these unnecessary games as she saw it. She wanted to feed the ducks and play in the leaves. She wanted to be held my her daddy and see the edge of the water. Do I really need to force this? Is this “perfect” picture really that important? What is the perfect picture anyway?

So, $203 later and I have an 8×10 of my family with a daughter who will not smile, a husband who is craning his neck which makes it look like his one chin multiplied into three, and me, who looks just plain tired. But you know what? This is our family. It may not be a perfect picture, but to me it is the perfect family and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Is it just me? This idea of the perfect image of the perfect life…I don’t get it. Life is not perfect. It’s messy, complicated, and not everyone smiles. I’m working on remembering that each day…it’s really not what the picture looks like in the end…it’s who’s in it and the memories you make taking it.

Happy Mothering!