The Four Gifts to Avoid Giving This Season

Mom Cam in the Minivan brings a DO NOT Gift Guide for the holiday season...Because sometimes as parents and gift givers we need to know what to avoid. Learn from my mistakes -- here are four gifts you should avoid giving on the holidays.

You Were a Weird Child of the 80's When...

Spoiler Alert: I'm the weird child

Me at my brother's Bar Mitzvah

Me at my brother's Bar Mitzvah

You considered Pee-wee Herman a teen heartthrob. 

You sent ALF fan mail.

You thought everyone else had a foil ball collection just like Pee-wee Herman...and you.

Your game of house got really heated when you found out your best friend's pretend dad worked for Crest and yours worked for Colgate.

Your game of house got really heated when you found out your best friend's pretend boyfriend was Pee-wee Herman, when he was already your pretend husband.

The outfit you wore for our brother's bar mitzvah was Pee-wee chique.

You wrote a list about being a weird child of the 80s and most of it was about Pee-wee Herman.

 

Follow me on li.st/mallofamanda

Mom Cam in the Minivan

There was once a time when I live-streamed a series called Mom Cam in the Minivan. In its glory day, I had 5 viewers simultaneously. Okay, maybe it was more like 4. And one was my husband, who watched only because he feared for my life. Everything turned out okay. I kept my hands on '10' and '2' and most importantly ensured the light reflecting from the sun visor was flattering.

As the live stream episodes are feathers to the wind, I decided to start recording them. Welcome to Season 2 of Mom Cam in the Minivan. This time it has some permanence to it, because ya know... YouTube. Enjoy Episode 14, just don't ask about the other thirteen.

How to Get Him to Say "I Love You" First

I have been boy crazy since I knew what a boy was.

I chased them around classrooms. I attempted unwanted kisses. I asked them to go with me. I told them I liked them. Sometimes boys liked me back. But it seemed most didn't.

In high school and college, all my close friends had boyfriends that were mutually in love with them. Sophomore year, my siblings both got married to their significant others. It seemed everyone had someone except me.

I became obsessed with love and with the idea that it was all about timing -- being able to meet the right person at the right moment in space, in life at the moment you're both there and ready was an impossibility. 

I spent too much time overthinking where I was at the moment and tiny decisions I was making. Like, what if I got on the first car on the T and the guy I'm supposed to be with is on the 3rd car.

I also spent too much time thinking no one would ever fall in love with me. Not because I didn't deserve love, but maybe that was just my lot in life: To be alone and to never know what it felt like to be loved back.

Right after college graduation, I met him. The one. Everything was mutual. Everything was perfectly timed. (The story of how we met is epic and our fates were sealed in the 1930s. Literally, a story for another time.)

I knew when I met him that eventually we'd fall in love. I also knew that I was not going to say it first. I deserved, after years of chasing, to be chased, and for me to hear it first. He needed to take the risk. But I didn't want saying "I love you" to be risky for him. I wanted him to feel safe in that if he said it first that he'd know I'd say it back.

So I began saying to him everything that meant "I love you" except I love you itself. Things like: You're important to me. I love being with you. I'd be happy staring at a blank wall, as long as I was with you.

We'd fall asleep holding hands.

One morning, we woke up and my head was on his chest. I could feel and hear his heart beating like a metronome gone awry. So I asked, "Why is your heart beating so fast?"

"I love you," he said.

"I love you," I said back.

Together for 16 years, married for almost 14, two guinea pigs, one dog, five Betta fish and three kids later, I'm still happy staring at a blank wall as long as I'm with him.

How Being a Parent is Like Being in Prison

Due to mass consumption of specific genres of television, I'm an expert in several fields.

I'd make an excellent attorney. Thank you Law & Order.

I can solve what ails you. Thank you House.

And I can soothe you to sleep with a very relaxing and monotone voice. Thank you The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.

Even though I've never been in prison, I'm pretty sure I know what it's like to be a prisoner because of bulk watching Orange is the New Black. And given that I have three children, I'm convinced my household is a prequel to an actual real life experience of being behind bars. If you encounter these elements of parenting, you may also know the feeling of how sometimes parenting is like being in prison. 

The Riots

They break loose at any given moment and usually involve makeshift weapons.

The Meals

I find myself protecting my plate during dinner time. If not, little hands grab what they can until I have nothing left to eat.

The Privacy

It feels like I'm constantly being watched... while I shower, when I pee, and I've definitely woken up with someone staring at me at the edge of the bed.

The Threats

From subtle to obvious, I've heard everything from "I'm going to kill you," "I'll lick you while you sleep," to the most threatening of all, "when you're dead, I get your money and jewelry."

But hey y'all, you've got to look at the bright side of parenting. It's also like having Stockholm Syndrome. No matter what, we love our little captors, even when we get shanked by a Lego.

The List App

There are few times in life that we're able to do something first. As the last born in my family, these moments are few and far between and usually consisted of moments like being the first to get farted on.  

But one of my oldest friends from high school sent me an invite to this beta for this app with these strangers on it.  And these these amazing, creative, thought-provoking, insightful strangers changed the way I write, think and interact all in a quick 25 weeks time. Above all, it has given us the chance to truly be a part of global village. And now it's live for the public. Welcome to The List App.  

Here are some of things we find ourselves saying now that we've been a part of it. What will you say?  Follow me on The List App @mallofamanda. 


Master Debaters

It's hard to believe we're on episode 66 of The Walking Dads and I'm still alive. At the least, I thought Michael would have been killed off by zombies (or his wife). This was a really fun episode to shoot, but mainly because I kept making the guys break character with the ridiculous sexual innuendos I've been writing since 7th grade.  Enjoy our latest election themed episode!

Obit for Our Fish

Fishy America Dooky Doo Doo III (July 2015 - Sometime During Vacation)

Fishy America Dooky Doo Doo III, Dooky Doo Doo for short, died unexpectedly and most probably unpeacefully out of his home on the cold tile bathroom floor.

He was brought into our home as a gift by an Uncle for Oscar's 6th birthday. Dooky Doo Doo was quickly named after the fish that came before him who was previously named after the fish who came before him who was lucky enough to at least make it out of the Petco as the fish that came before him met his demise after being dropped inside the store.

Perhaps Dooky Doo's fate was sealed the day he was named and his tank was placed on the bathroom counter ominously close to the toilet. We'd like to think he died an over-achieving confident fish that thought to himself as he jumped out of his tank, "I CAN fly!"

Dooky Doo Doo is survived by his fish mate, Princess the First (age 3), his boy, Oscar, and his caretaker, Amanda, who obviously did a really crappy job of taking care of him and doesn't know how to break it to Oscar that his fourth f'ing fish has crossed the rainbow bridge to nowhere. 

Graveside was at the toilet last night, while the kids were distracted by the iPad. We will be sitting shiva all week, but expecting the guilt to last a lifetime.  

Oscar's twin sister has disrespectfully requested that if you visit for shiva to please bring a platter of lox.

Trolling for Attention

My husband tries to get in the Zone 1 boarding line at the airport, when our tickets clearly indicate we're Zone 4.  This is what embarrasses me: breaking rules.  But there are other things that don't embarrass me that, perhaps, should. Like what I'm about to tell you.

I'm an internet troll.

But instead of interrupting usual conversations, I troll my Facebook Messenger's "Other" Folder. Do you spot it down below to the right of the Inbox? Most people don't know about the "Other" Folder (or ignore it).  

It's where messages go from people you're not Facebook Friends with. It's where Spam goes to die.  It's also where I go to learn about banks in foreign countries that want to give me money, how cheap I can get Viagra and that I am, perhaps, too good at taking selfies for my Facebook Profile Pics. The fodder I find is not in the one-way messages of strangers, but rather in the conversations that ensue when I actually respond.  I don't respond to all messages, but when I do it goes something like this:




Shirts Happen

I was taught at a young age that if I could schlep it, then I could bring it. Instead of seeing this as a need to simplify, I saw this a challenge to carry as much crap as humanely possible.  So prior to a recent trip to Israel for my nephews' Bar Mitzvahs, I began to think: If ants can carry 5,000 times their body weight, why can't this aunt?  

I managed to pack 75% of my closet allowing myself three clothing options a day plus alternates pending on what my fleeting fashion feelings might be.  Day to day, my attire ranged from sensible to nonsensical.  I was happy knowing that if the mood struck, I had an extra miniskirt at the ready.  

However, it was the day we were at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo, when I realized I was the visiting attraction.  A local approached me saying, "You must be here on holiday. You dress too funny for an Israeli."  My response: "I dress too funny for an American."   I know this already. My style is what I call don't fret-a-porter. I'm okay with that and the 'looks' I often get.

But as I continued our trip, I began to notice something even more ridiculous than my outfits and it wasn't the massive numbers of souvenir shops. It was the t-shirts in those stores. Half of which I briefly owned as a teenager until my mother "mistakenly" washed all of them with a red shirt before I started my high school senior year.  What a blessing.  

I have mental pictures in my head of what that last year in high school would have been like, if the Washing Machine Incident of 1994 never happened. And fortunately, for you I have actual pictures of these shirts of Teen Tour Past.  Here are some of the best of's for your viewing pleasure. Which one is your favorite? Did you own any of these gems?


It's about Time

Living life without regrets is often my motivation. Because of this I've taken actions that may be deemed unthinkable to most: Telling college crushes I liked them, starting a new career as a comedian and eating questionable grocery store sushi.  Not all these situations have boded well, but I'm happy that at least I know the outcome and that none have resulted in downing Pepto.  

However there are times I want to go back in time: To hold my kids again as babies, visit with relatives who've since passed and perhaps buy stock in Facebook.  Though time travel is an impossibility, I like to prepare my readers for the unforeseeable [like putting together a Weber Grill solamente], so I've created a Time Machine Guide.  It's more CraigsList Classifieds than Kelly Blue Book, as they may be defective or likely to kill you. Either way, there's no time like the present to pick your mode of time travel!

Mall of Amanda's Time Machine Guide

The Phone Booth (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures)

Pros: This time machine may come with Keanu Reeves.
Cons: This time machine may come with Keanu Reeves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hot Tub (The Hot Tub Time Machine)

Pros: It's a hot tub... a hot tub TIME MACHINE, y'all!
Cons: Not safe for time travel if you're pregnant

 

 

 

 

The DeLorean (Back to the Future -- all parts)

Pros: The Mr. Fusion model runs on garbage so you can impress neighbors with your eco-friendly car choice. It's like the Tesla of time travel.

Cons: Does not come with its own Uber Driver. 

 

 

 

The Time Machine Modulus (Napoleon Dynamite)

Pros: Comes fully-loaded with tots, Gosh!
Cons: Doesn't freakin' work.