Monday, April 30, 2007

Mirror Mirror Part 2

Very short Newsletter tonight. Life is hectic, husband is out-of-town, laundry is screaming and the dishes in the sink won’t stop whining. Nuf said. Here goes:

Had a great weekend with my two old friends coming in from Kentucky for a three-day visit. We did the shop-til-you-drop thing in New York City, rural Connecticut (combing for some of the most gorgeous antiques in the country) and up the shoreline. Ate and shopped. Shopped and ate. Perfect weekend.
Funny how when one does this with old girlfriends it is so gosh-darned wonderful!

Here are more tips and treats discovered over the course of the week, both from my two friends and from the rocket moms who responded to last week’s Newsletter:

The Costa Rican rainforest mud was a hit with my girlfriend (and I have a photo to prove it). As promised, here’s the contact info: Or call 877-596-7582.

Pure olive oil Marseille soap is truly the best and we found it in several shops while out and about. Also look for a liquid hand soap version. If you have trouble getting French soaps (and this in particular), please go to and order the olive oil bricks (Savon de Marseille). The consensus between my girlfriend and me is that the rectangular brick is easier to use over the long haul than the hefty square one. Better also to use one of those slotted soap dish liners; your soap will last longer and you won’t get that slimy mess that sometimes happens when you don’t use the slotted soap dish liner thing.

If you have access to L’Occitane, wander in there and get their olive oil soaps. Perfectly wonderful. Also check out the L’Occitane line of hand lotions, especially the lavender one. Luxurious and well-priced.

Look also at Doux soaps, made from shea butter and olive and palm oils. For hand washing. Like my grandmother used decades ago…..quite glorious.

If you get a chance, please do visit the Kiehl’s store or at least their online site: I completely love their whole line.

Another rocket mom friend of mine wrote to let everyone know about LacHydrin 5, apparently the best stuff for calloused dried-out alligator feet. Cheap and easily accessible at your local pharmacy. She also likes CVS’s VICHY line. Everything in it, too, from night creams to moisturizing masks. Also loves the Purpose soap and the CeraVe cream or lotion. Simple packaging and inexpensive (my kind of stuff). Her last suggestion: the fruit enzyme mask by Murad.

OK, rocket mom. This ship needs to spend the night on the landing pad. Until next week, all blessings to you and yours.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

“The magic of a face.” Thomas Carew

Funny how when I look in the mirror these days, I notice tiny little lines framing my eyes. Slightly-sagging flesh drooping past my jaw line and brownish spots in my otherwise relatively blemish-free skin. Ahhh. Middle age. Gravity. Character lines.

Taking care of one’s face—particularly when one approaches thirtysomething (let alone forty or fiftysomething!)—ranks right up there with nightly flossing and frequent showering. Freshly-scrubbed skin remains a virtue as well as a sign of health and vitality. Rosy-colored cheeks always win over paleness, as do bright, sparking eyes and clean, clear teeth. Indeed, the impact of physical attractiveness, of cleanliness and vitality, cannot be denied in our culture as well as of those around the globe. Research in Social Psychology suggests that we assume that physically attractive people are friendlier, more popular, smarter, wealthier and more “put together.” Called the “physical attractiveness stereotype” by the pro’s, it defines the idea that physically attractive people possess socially coveted traits. And excellent facial skin care is the first step in that direction.

Ok ladies. The first step: Develop a beauty regimen. All women need some type of daily beauty regimen. This has nothing to do with your natural beauty or bone structure or genetic stroke of luck or misfortune. It has everything to do with simple but excellent daily grooming habits and a specific regimen of helping to ensure optimal attractiveness. Specifically, it involves a daily plan for taking care of your skin, hair and nails. Who wouldn’t hold someone in deeper respect who has clean, clear and glowing skin, shining hair eyes and hair, white teeth and strong nails? These are hallmarks of sound health and vitality and of a disciplined life!

The next step: Take a personal inventory.

Is your hair clean and shiny? Do you shampoo regularly? Do you apply regular hot oil treatments? Do you get regular cuts and coloring? Is your hairstyle attractive? Is it current? Are your teeth clean and cavity-free? Do you both brush and floss regularly? Do you regularly schedule dental cleanings? Do you need to consider braces or bleaching? Are your nails nicely manicured? Are they strong and pink? Are they nicely shaped? Do you keep them polished? If not, do they look healthy and strong? How about your toenails? Do you frequently apply lotions and salts to keep them soft and smooth? What about your complexion? Is it clear, clean and smooth? Is it well-toned? Do you completely remove your make-up at bedtime? Do your eyes sparkle?

10-9-8 etc. Blast Off: Use skincare products that are as close to a natural state as possible. Experiment until you find something that truly works for you. What works for your best friend may be out of your budget or cause you to break out in hives. No worries. Keep playing with products until you find something wonderful. Remember that expensive skincare products are oftentimes overrated. Beware of expensive packaging and advertising; make-up and skincare manufacturers and marketers are experts at selling “hope in a bottle,” a concept upon which Revlon built its fortune. Always be on the lookout, instead, for products which are perhaps less well-known but superior in content. (See my thoughts below for those that pass the Rocket Mom sniff test.) Regardless of what you wind up putting on your face and skin, remember that your skin absorbs everything wholeheartedly! Avoid anything containing petroleum (like Vaseline) or mineral oil if possible. Take the time everyday to do the routine that works for you and that leaves you feeling positively wonderful. Invigorated and well-nourished.

Research shows in study after study that physically attractive people view themselves as happier. They apparently cultivate an increased self-confidence and a happier life view. Cultivate good skincare and good grooming in general, and smile at the world.

She is not fair to outward view
As many maidens be;
Her loveliness I never knew
Until she smiled on me:
Oh! Then I saw her eye was bright,
A well of love, a spring of light.
Hartley Coleridge

Rocket Mom’s skincare favorites:
• Dr. Bronner’s Natural Castile Soaps have been my personal favorites for over twenty years. Soft enough for a newborn’s skin, they are environmentally safe and heavenly-scented. Nothing is more glorious after an hour-long swim or a hard workout than a hot shower with Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap. Nothing.
• Marseilles Olive Oil Soap is the only thing I use to wash my face. Been using it seemingly forever. It’s been around for hundreds of years and is completely organic. Sold in bars, it is like pure gold to me. Buy it online, at a great apothecary or through L’Occitane.
• Costa Rican lava mud masks. Okay. Sounds hokey. But it is the best darn thing I’ve ever put on my face, outside of all-natural lotions and, of course, the above-mentioned olive oil French soap. Wash your face with warm water and scrub it gently with a wash cloth. Apply organic Costa Rican mud on face—it’s very green!—and let it dry. Keep it on for about a half hour or so. Blemishes will be gone by the time you wash it off. Amazing. Completely natural. Look for it online. I know it sounds like I’m a bona fide tree hugger—and truth be told—if I was stranded on a desert island and could only take two things for my face, it’d be my olive oil soap and my rainforest mud (particularly amusing as those who know me well would hardly describe me as a “nature girl”…but they are truly the best-est of the best!
• Kiehl’s is the paragon of simplicity and purity. This line of all-natural skincare delivers easy-on-the-face ingredients with a relatively easily digestible price tag to match. Purchase their products in the New York City area or over the Internet. This is my personal favorite. Extremely tough to beat.
• Arbonne skin care from Switzerland. Swiss originated but American made, these products were demo-ed at our Rocket Mom Society meeting last night. We all hung out in my bathroom while skincare consultant Joan applied glorious all-natural, fruit and vegetable-based lotions to our freshly-scrubbed faces. The invigorating salt is my favorite. If you’re interested, I’ll be glad to pass along a way that you can order them from wherever you happen to live.
• Burt’s Bees makes a darn good product at a truly reasonable price. Some of their stuff is better than others. I love the carrot seed facial mist. It should be in the make-up bag of every rocket mom on the face of the planet. Apply a light layer of moisturizer after gently misting your face with the sweet smell of carrot seed. Divine.

Why don’t you email me with your personal favorites, too? There’s lots of stuff out there, so sometimes it’s tough to sift through the clutter. As always, the simpler the better. Once you find a winner, keep using it, regardless of the newest fad beauty product. Pay as little as possible. Stay fresh and clean. And keep it green.

Big hug,


Monday, April 09, 2007

You Want Me to Do What?

“When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our
hearts, the circle of Creation is completed inside us; the doors of our souls fly open and love steps forth to heal everything in sight." Michael Bridge

It wasn’t like I had nothing else to do. Or wanted to do. Could have put my feet up on the sofa (like my teenage son did seemingly all afternoon). Could have gabbed on the phone with a long-distance girlfriend—or even my mother for that matter. Could have taken a bubble bath or read a magazine or caught up on the news.

But last night, when the other members of my family were doing their own thing, I had the dog on top of the washer machine for a long overdue beauty session. Cut, shampoo and blow dry. Our precious pup, who gets way more grooming attention than I do, had missed her regularly monthly scheduled appointment way back in December and was past the point of no return…in the beauty department, that is.

The other family members had noticed that her eyes were no longer visible from overgrown puppy bangs. That her fur was matted. That her toenails were too long. That she had developed an odor. That she was in desperate need of a bath. But they had blown it off. Figured it would take care of itself.

Have you ever noticed how your kids think that things just take care of themselves? That lights are always on when they need to see and that the heat comes on when it’s cold inside? That the fridge is generally full of food and that the bathroom usually has a roll of tissue paper on the holder? That laundry finds its way—neatly folded—to their drawers and that crumbs find a way off the floors?

When our daughter looked up at us on Easter day and proclaimed regarding some of the above said wonders of the western world: “But it’s your job as parents to do these things for us!” my husband asked her if she appreciated her heated bedroom, lighted bathroom mirror and instantly accessible cell phone.

She had never paid much thought to them. And admitted it (albeit with a discernible rolling of the eyeballs.)

If you ever feel “’Tis but for the grace of God go I,” you are not alone. While not doormats, we certainly are the glue that holds our families together. We are the ones who get our kids out the door to school and the ones who remind them to take their backpacks and lunch bags. The ones who fret when they do not have enough clothing on their backs in the wind and the cold and when they walk through the rain without a hood on their heads. When they forget their homework and forget to eat breakfast.

We are the ones who sweep the kitchen floor because we notice the crumbs that no one else does. Who wash the sheets that they are willing to sleep on long past the point when the health inspector would fine us for neglect. Who wash the plates before we put them into the dishwasher to ensure that hardened spaghetti will be completely forgotten.

We are the ones who forego our free time to bathe the family dog!

At the end of your day –or during the middle of it for that matter—when you think you are at your breaking point and someone in your family asks you to do just one more thing, you need to ask incredulously—for melodrama if for nothing else—“You want me to do what?!?” And then take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, and remember that we are, slowly but surely, marching towards Mother’s Day. When you will have one day where you should be expected to do nothing.

Blessings on your week. I’ll chat again in two weeks. My daughter is playing in Vienna and Salzburg with her youth orchestra and I am accompanying her as a chaperone. Hey, I’ve swept those crumbs, washed those sheets and bathed the dog. I deserve it.


A Quick Note

As the list of rocket moms around the globe grows, it has come to my attention that many of you do not know about the book that started this whole thing. ROCKET MOM! 7 Strategies to Blast You into Brilliance can easily be found online through dozens of outlets. If you’d like an autographed copy, simply email me. I’ll take care of it.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Defrizzling the Frazzle

Men travel faster now,
but I do not know if they go to better things.
-- Willa Cather

Families are moving too fast these days. Speeding through life from one activity to another with hardly a thought as to what we’re doing for whom and why. I am as guilty as the next mom: rocket mom or alpha mom or stay-at-home mom or working mom or single mom or married mom. Step-mom or Stepford mom. We’re moving too fast.

We come home at the end of the day—after playgroups and errands or chauffeuring our kids between school to activities or ourselves between work and home—completely exhausted. Frazzled and overwhelmed. Too tired to cook. Too tired to talk. Too tired to appropriately engage in our families. My personal end-of-day fantasy is that someone would bring me over a warm roasted chicken (every night would be just fine!)….and put it my mouth and chew it for me, too.

I have few answers. Only one tiny step in the right direction. I am committed to spending (at least) one night during the week eating dinner around my dining room table with my husband and children. With wholesome food on china plates. Candles lit, cloth napkins in our laps. All sound machines turned off or unanswered. I am committed to sitting down and enjoying the company of the people in the world who I am most in love with.

For stopping—and the key word here is “stopping”—to eat with my family is one of the highlights of my week. Taking at least one night out to pause between the regularly-scheduled stuff—the tennis and lacrosse practices, violin lessons, errands and homework—is a difficult maneuver to pull of with any regularity. That bewitching end-of-the-day thing—dinner and time with the spouse and the kids—is oftentimes an impossible feat. It’s so sad yet so true. We live in frenzy.

I know I am not alone. I hear it everyday. From almost everyone. Neighbors and colleagues. We frazzle at simply being female. In fact, I read in our church bulletin about a new class being offered on “the frazzled female.” The chord has been officially struck.

So let’s make a pact together—every one of us—that we shall try to stop at the end of the day. That we will force ourselves to slow down. To cook a little. Rest a little. Read a little. Talk a little. Perhaps do the dishes together as a family. Perhaps sit by the fire and relax with your spouse. Perhaps do some needlework or crossword puzzles. Draw or scrap.

How about we all take this week to reflect on what we need to do as mothers to get ourselves to a “place of quiet.” To reflect. Enjoy the simplest things.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross passed on this bit of wisdom as she reflected on the things that she had learned from people in their last days:

"Not one of them has ever told me how many houses she had
or how many handbags or sable coats.
What they tell me of are tiny, almost insignificant moments in their lives --
where they went fishing with a child
or mountain climbing trips in Switzerland.
Some brief moments of privacy in an interpersonal relationship.
These are the things that keep people going at the end.
They remember little moments that they have long forgotten,
and they suddenly have a smile on their faces.
And they begin to reminisce about the little joys
that made their whole lives meaningful
and worth the living."

Especially during this week, Holy Week, enjoy your days with those you love.