About rockmommyct

I am a mother, writer, rock and roll musician, and guitar teacher.

Halloween: What a Change from a Year Ago!

Halloween. Just saying the name of the holiday makes me realize how far we’ve come since last year, when my then-2-year-old Nathan cried and stomped when we tried to put him in his Super-Man outfit!

This Halloween, he decided to rotate between three costumes: Incredible Hulk, Superman (the same one he freaked out about the year before!), and Batman. He ended up being Batman for his school celebration (Logan was Robin), and Superman for our trick-or-treating day. But in spite of his indecisiveness, his excitement was such a shift from a year ago that I really need to pause and appreciate it.

Logan was neither overly excited nor immensely distressed at being put in a Robin costume. He sort of accepted his role as the little sidekick. And we got a cool family photo, too. I love dressing up, and have always wanted to be Wonder Woman, so I had lots of fun in my outfit (though I had to take in a bunch of fabric with safety pins).

My super family, Halloween 2015

My super family, Halloween 2015

Finding Time to Properly Train for a Half Marathon — with Two Toddlers in Tow

I’ll be the first to admit the headline here is misleading. My two toddlers go to school four days a week, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. So I have ample time to train (just kidding!). Seriously, though, when my kids aren’t with me (which is pretty much anytime except for those four 9-hour blocks), I have other things to do — laundry, cleaning, wife chores, doctor visits, paperwork/billing, freelance writing, planning guitar lessons, etc.

Fitting in exercise is really challenging at times — especially when you try to plan a big workout and your kid gets sick so you have to stay home. And finding the hours required to follow a specific, intensive exercise program is 10 times harder.

With that in mind, here’s a list of the things I do now that I’m a mom of two, to ensure I’m ready for race days.

  1. I make my workout plan (3 cardio, 2 strength per week) on Friday or Saturday (my week starts Sunday and ends Saturday), and plan to do the BULK of my workouts (3 or 4 of them) by Wednesday. This allows me to have three days as emergency back-up days if I have to stay home because of a sick kid.
  2. I make the pessimistic assumption that my “long run” day will get cancelled, and I always plan two backup days, and block out an hour and a half for all three days (the first one, and the two spares). If I can do my planned run on its planned day, then great! I can use the backup days to do other things.
  3. I always look at weather reports so I can plan the best days for outdoor runs.
  4. I always have my workout clothes and day clothes (so I’m not in workout gear all day) ready to go, in my car. I did this when I was working off-site (not at home). Planning what to wear is critical if you want to get the most out of your run.
  5. I use a running app, “Map my Run” to track my time and to motivate me to go faster. Thanks to this app, I’m now running 10 miles at 9:05 minutes per mile!
  6. I make a rule to work out 5 days a week no matter what — even if my runs are 15 minutes long, or I have to jump rope for 20 minutes during my kids’ nap time.
  7. When I’m training for a race, that’s my only “hobby” or priority. I don’t have time to train for a race while preparing to play a rock show. I only have so much time during the day for myself, and my kids come first.

So that’s pretty much it! I’m excited for the Brooklyn Half marathon but also feeling overwhelmed by the thought of leaving my little ones and getting up at 5 a.m. It’ll be great to run, finish the race, and see my kids again.

Family Highlights from Summer ’15

I can’t believe summer’s almost gone. Every year, just when I sink into the sun’s warmth and start to appreciate outdoor runs, days at the park with the kids, and wearing white shorts, I see an e-mail blast declaring it’s “back to school time” or some other autumn gibberish. My husband’s going to his NFL draft/fantasy thing (as he always does), so I have the mens tonight. And on Monday, for the first time since mid-September 2012, my little Nathan will be enrolled in a whole new school!

I wanted to take a moment to talk about some of my family’s summer highlights (and I don’t mean the ones in my hair, which, by the way, are amazing), because my family is awesome!!

  1. We took our first five-day vacation to Montauk as a family of four!! So grateful for so many days with the guys, my guy (Zack), the beach, and sunshine.
  2. … and we got to go to the ocean 3 times in 3 months (3 times!). In June, it was Montauk as a foursome, in July it was Ocean City (the nearest and dearest to my heart) with Nonna & Nonno, and in August we were back to Montauk with Granny & Bud.
  3. I got to finally share Ocean City with Zack and my sons! It was so cool to see Nathan’s reactions to all the action — ice skating, carousel rides, beaches, pancake houses, the Boardwalk, and kitschy golf courses. Zack’s reactions to the city vibe of OC? Not so much.
  4. Zack and I celebrated five years of marriage. I know it sounds cliche, but I am more in love with him every single day, in spite of some of the challenges that marriage brings.
  5. On July 31/August 1, Logan said his first three-word sentence: “I did it!” He says it regularly now after doing anything. Zack pointed out that Logan’s first sentence, said at the beginning of the summer, was actually “It’s dada” (or “that’s dada”). But still! Logan is so smart. Nathan’s first three-word sentence wasn’t uttered until he was at least 22 months old (I’m not saying Nathan isn’t super-smart, too, just that Logan’s feat seems ahead of the curve).
  6. We switched Nathan to the toddler bed (finally!) on August 17. Got him superhero sheets and everything. He’s totally enamored with Batman, Superman, The Hulk, and pretty much every superhero these days. Trains? Well, after Uncle Al got him the Thomas table in mid-July (when he turned 3), he didn’t seem quite so into it.

There are so many more things I could write about, but I want to respect my sons’ privacy. When they’re older, they might not want every photo of every moment (or every dispatch of every challenge) blasted onto Facebook or this blog. But today I am one proud mama and happy wife!

Preparing for a Show Post Baby: What it’s Really Like for a Non-Celebrity Rocker Mom

You hear them on the radio, and see them gracing the covers of the most exclusive women’s magazines: Rocker moms. Articles about them are usually written in the vein of, “how P!nk is balancing diaper duty with recording” or “How mom-of-three Gwen Stefani makes time for cooking and going on tour!”

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties, 2015 version

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties, 2015 version

The article you don’t read is the one offering advice on how to get back into fighting rocker shape (physically and musically) when you’ve got one or two little ones in tow — even though you’re not famous. Most of the moms in bands I know fall into this category: We may have made some money at one time, but we don’t have lucrative recording contracts. We don’t have songs featured on SiriusXM Hits 1.

If you don’t have Gwen Stefani’s salary or fan base, you have to think about the financial aspects of playing a show, such as rehearsal costs AS WELL AS babysitting tabs. Since my band is my baby (I am the writer for all songs as well as the band leader), I foot the bill for $30-an-hour rehearsals, plus gas and transportation fees.

Then, you have to think about the time commitment. Rehearsing in New York City — an hour and a half from my home base of Fairfield, CT — is a seven- to eight-hour excursion. To accommodate this time suck, I had to take on fewer assignments (rock and roll doesn’t pay my bills, Ms. Stefani!), slack on cleaning duties (the floor still has caked banana on it from Monday), and curb my workouts (my kids still have to eat, and the extra practice time has to come from somewhere).

Also, if you’ve been out of the game for a while, as I have, there’s also the promotional and equipment headaches of planning a show. For example: After spending eight hours with my two toddlers, one of whom is potty training, I barely have energy to post anything on Facebook except a selfie of my kids, let alone try to put together some cleverly worded invite to my show. I’ve had to bribe my graphic designer friends and beg my bandmates to pick up some slack in the promotional department!

Oh yeah, and I gave away my big guitar amp a long time ago (you would too, if you needed to squeeze into a Prospect Heights apartment), so I’ll have to borrow two of them (for me and my lead guitarist) for the show. This means I’ll have to leave my house earlier.

The worst part? My mommy friends in Connecticut won’t be able to come (traveling to the Big Apple might as well be traveling to Russia as far as they’re concerned), and most of my city friends I haven’t seen since I became a mom so … I’m not on anyone’s radar anymore. Maybe an ex or two will show up, maybe not. But that’s about all the audience I’m getting.

So after all this bitching about how much effort and money is required to do this show, is it all worth it?

As of now, my answer is yes, absolutely!

One week ago I rehearsed with three amazing musician friends who I hadn’t seen for at least a year each — Morgan, Nora, and Michele. I love each of them for different reasons. Morgan is my bestie and longtime bassist, Nora is my former guitar student turned friend, and Michele is my tour buddy with a shared affection for NYC hardcore. Just being in the same room with these girls made me giddy. And when we plugged in our instruments, magic happened (though Michele wouldn’t necessarily call it magic after being on a two-year drumming hiatus)! Afterwards, I felt a buzz I hadn’t felt in a long time as I savored the long, summer night walk between 251 30th Street and Grand Central. Singing is cathartic, and playing guitar is my passion. I’m feeling inspired and creative and amazing.

I’m definitely bummed that my husband won’t make the show. When we were dating and it was just us, he made the trek to Brooklyn all the time to see me. I’m sure if it were super important I could wrangle him there, but … I need a babysitter for my kids. He is their dad. Problem solved!

I do hope that after this show, I’ll get to do another one soon, and that it won’t be so damn expensive to play. For one thing, I refuse to do more than one rehearsal in Manhattan. I live in Connecticut, and have for five years, and I have two children. I have to make it work here.

In the meantime, I hope whoever reads this post can make it to Friday’s show at The Branded Saloon in Brooklyn. Here’s the address and info:

Friday, August 7, 2015

Marisa Mini & The Underage Hotties (w/ Milf & Dilf and The Rewd Onez)

The Branded Saloon 

603 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, New York 11238

8 p.m. doors

Hope to see you there!

How Ex-Playboy Girlfriend Holly Madison’s Memoir Sucked me “Down the Rabbit Hole”

It may come to a surprise to some of my fellow moms, but I was a HUGE fan of “Girls Next Door,” the reality TV show centered on the day-to-day lives of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner (aka “Hef”) and his three live-in girlfriends — Holly Madison, Bridget Marquardt, and Kendra Wilkinson. DownTheRabbitHole Cover

While I didn’t watch the show, which aired 2005-2009, regularly, when I did, I found it to be a fun, fluffy, wonderful guilty pleasure — an inside peek at a life I might’ve lived had I been just a shade blonder, gotten a boob job, and high tailed it to Los Angeles in my late teens.

As I watched each episode, I found myself increasingly drawn to Girlfriend #1 Holly Madison — formerly Holly Sue Cullen — who grew up in Oregon and Alaska. While the most serious-toned of the three blonde girlfriends, she was also the only one who seemed to aspire to having a family as well as a career. Beautiful and humble, Holly stood out from over-the-top bubbly Bridget and air-headed Kendra as someone I would enjoy spending time with over a cup of coffee.

So when I finally laid my hands on Holly Madison’s “Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny” on June 23, I simply could not put it down. I finished it in one week. This is a huge accomplishment considering I am raising two toddler sons. (I can barely find time to clean my kitchen most days, let alone read a memoir!)

There are two reasons the book sucked me in from the first page: one, it offered extraordinary insight into the inner workings of one of the most fascinating and salacious lifestyles. I found myself riveted by the descriptions of the rooms (“downscale” touches like Johnson’s baby oil in the poolside washrooms; puppy urine stains on the mansion’s staircases); the ladies who inhabited them (like the girlfriend who solicited other girlfriends for a high-end prostitution ring); and the conversations (such as Hef’s condescending way of explaining old movie plot lines or throwing a fit over Holly wearing red lipstick).

The other reason was that it struck a raw nerve in me. I’m no Playmate or pageant queen (though I was “Miss Nina” at the Baltimore Columbus Day Parade in 1992 and once runway-modeled Uzbekistani clothing for a festival in Washington, D.C.). Still, I know what it’s like to be valued for your looks, or to feel like your best asset is your beauty, a temporary gift.

Being a girlfriend to an old dude like Hef isn’t glamorous, and Holly’s memoir confirms that. Her descriptions of the post-nightclub sex orgies, in particular, are wince-worthy. And while Holly does acknowledge the perks of the Playboy girlfriend lifestyle — like a $1,000-a-week clothing budget — she spares Hef little mercy when she spotlights the ulterior motives behind his seemingly kind, friendly demeanor.

Among other things, the Playboy founder, who is now 89 to Holly’s 35, had a primary interest in keeping up an image that other men would envy. He couldn’t go without a girlfriend for even one day. In reality, says Holly, he threw immature temper tantrums and would play the girlfriends against each other (for example, by complimenting Kendra’s red lipstick just a few years after lambasting Holly for wearing it). The details are so rich and believable that I think it would be difficult for anyone to discredit her (though Kendra, perhaps out of jealousy, is trying).

One might wonder, then, how smart women like Holly or bestie Bridget (who apparently has a master’s degree) would put up with the Hef monster for years on end. Was the prospect of fame really that alluring? If we believe Holly, the answer is yes: Hef always dangled the possibility of better things — a monogamous relationship, a Playboy centerfold spread — just close enough to keep the girls loyal:

“I had to believe that there was a greater purpose for the choices I had made: whether it was to help advance my career or whether it was truly for love,” writes Madison. “And depending on the month, the week, and sometimes even the hour of the day, I would waffle back and forth between precisely why I was living a life as nothing more than ‘Girlfriend Number One’ to a man who was old enough to be my grandfather. I didn’t want to admit that I had sold a bit of my soul for the chance at fame.”

If Holly’s intent was to make me angrier at the double standards imposed on women, then she was successful. By the end of the 405-page read, I found myself almost teary-eyed, cheering on the new mom as a modern-day example of courage, strength, and beauty.

The only thing I’m still bothered by is that the tone of “Down the Rabbit Hole” is about 85% anger and 15% gratitude. Let’s not forget that being Hef’s main squeeze afforded Holly all kinds of opportunities, from celebrity status to the funds to pay off her $7,000 breast implants. Were it not for Hef and the lucky chance that reality TV would take off and make her a household name via “Girls Next Door,” Holly would have probably have left L.A. a long time ago, like most of her friends.

Unfortunately, for far too many women, fame and opportunity comes at great personal cost, whether it’s the woman who stalls childbearing to further her career (only to discover fertility challenges later on), or the woman who must pretend to be turned on by an 80-year-old man in order to have any chance at making more than a waitress’ wage.

And while Holly got her happy-ever-after ending, most women need more than a great pair of fake tits and blonde hair to elevate their careers.

I would love to see the day where a female magazine mogul were wealthy and powerful enough to afford and attract seven 20-something boyfriends. But would anyone watch a show about it? While many men are inspired by the idea of having a harem of young things to cater to their every whim, most women I know need their lady heroes to overcome major challenges and rise above, just like Holly did when she said “screw you” to mansion life.

Ragnar Relay: I did it!

I’m not the best when it comes to team sports. Sure, I played softball and soccer in high school, but when the balls came to me, I’d clam up, get freaked out by the pressure to perform, and just suck. Cross-country and track were more consistent with my independent free-spirited personality, and I excelled in those.

So when I was asked to run the Ragnar Relay in Cape Cod, I enthusiastically signed up. After all, if I’m not doing big things now, in my 30s, before my body really starts to deteriorate, then, when?

The pressure to train wasn’t so intense, or at least not as intense as it was in high school. After all, I was going for the bucket list, not the college scholarship. But finding time to train, to run for hours and hours, was much more difficult than I imagined. The last time I ran a race of any substance, a 13-miler in 2011, I ran whenever and wherever I wanted. Now, I am a mom to two little guys. If one of them is sick, I might miss a workout. Also, I have to run during specific time slots, and balance that “free time” with all my other work and home obligations.

Another big challenge was the lack of sleep. I never sleep before big races, ever (not even the Marine Corps Marathon), and I’ve gone DAYS without more than a few hours of sleep. But the prospect of running a race that is practically built on the premise of getting no sleep (just “rest” on the hard ass floor of an ice hockey rink or a tent) was almost too much to bear. I almost bailed the night before.

But then I remembered that my friends were counting on me. Specifically, my mom pal Heidi, who I’ve always wanted to run with, had flown to Boston to be one of 12, and my friends Sean (also Zack’s best friend) and Kat would be there. So I did it. I got up early, nursed little Logan, and hopped in “Van 1,” my home for the next day and a half.

After what seemed like endless hours of waiting, I finally got to run my leg, Leg 6, the last of my van. I did 4.2 miles, averaging about 8:45 minutes per mile. And then, we were done! Off to a random Italian restaurant that is probably responsible for the 4 pounds I’ve gained over the last month (I wish I was kidding). Lesson learned: If you want to lose weight while running, don’t also eat more. And don’t cut out nursing (or in my case, 50% of nursing).

The hardest runs, but by far the most interesting and euphoric, were the night runs. Leg 6 kicked off at about 4:15 a.m. in stunning, idyllic Hyannis, Massachusetts. The dusk was my backdrop as I ran past lovely streams of water, lighthouses, and residential neighborhoods. 5.5 miles passed, and Van 1 moved on to a campsite.

Our van finished at about 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, almost 24 hours after we kicked off the race. It would’ve been nice to stay with the rest of “Blood Sweat and Beers” team but the exhaustion was kicking my ass. Little did I know the one day I’m allowed to sleep in, Mother’s Day, would be met with a 2.75-year-old toddler in underwear ready to potty train at 7 a.m. But that’s OK. One day, when Nathan’s older, perhaps in college, I’ll long for the little guy in the diapers. Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me. I’m so grateful for it every day. And I’m also grateful I can still run an 8-something mile. Not sure how much longer I’ll be able to do that, but I’m relishing every moment and every footstep. headlamp selfie

Waiting to Launch

The Delta Sky Lounge isn’t the worst place to spend time while waiting for your flight. But today, as I stew in the aftermath of an overbooked plane and not being able to take off at 7a.m., it feels a bit stuffy. Then again, that could be all the Republicans fresh off the NRA Convention. Unfortunately, it’s not the AmEx lounge in Laguardia. Not even close.

I just hope we can get home safely, to my little boys. I had a lovely time in Nashville with my husband and friends, but it’s time to go home. I wish I had my computer! Going on a vacation trip means I didn’t bring it, so now I don’t know what to do with myself — I can’t really make too many edits to my novel and I can’t work. All I can do is blog, make photo albums on Facebook, watch videos of my kids, and catch up on the Hillary Clinton news.

I hope today gets better soon!