12 Steps to Stop Yelling at your Kids

328 days of not yelling, 37 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

This is my best attempt of summarizing how I stopped yelling at my four boys and stopped feeling the awful guilt, anger, disappointment, sadness, and hopelessness inside every single time I yelled. It isn’t scientific and it isn’t backed up by an advanced degree in childhood behavior, therapy, life coaching or any topic you might think relevant to this subject. What it is, however, is an honest, from the trenches account from a real mom and it is something that YOU can do. I am not going to tell you it was easy. It wasn’t. It was hard. BUT it was DOABLE. And I am not going to tell you it is one, single, concrete thing you can do at the moment you want to yell. It isn’t. It is a process and it takes work. BUT again, it is DOABLE.

Good luck!
The Orange Rhino


Step 1: Acknowledge that you need to change, Decide that you want to change, and fully Commit to changing. I didn’t just casually do these things, I REALLY acknowledged, REALLY decided, REALLY committed. Changing a bad habit is a big job. It required an equally big amount of energy and focus. I gave The Orange Rhino Challenge MY ALL. I took it seriously, I made it a real priority, I believed in it and myself, and I promised myself I was going to do whatever it took to succeed. 

Step 2: Set a Goal. Yes, 365 days straight is a bit severe but it was a clear and inspiring goal, for me. Pick a goal for you that isn’t too vague, isn’t too overwhelming but is also motivational and measurable. Pick a goal that will help you yell LESS and build confidence. Some ideas beyond 365 days: 30 days without yelling, 30 bedtimes without yelling, 1 week without yelling. For more ideas read this blog post: Forget 365.

Step 3: Share your Goal to Create Accountability. I told my friends and family about my goal in order to make it “real” and not just a casual idea. Yes, it was hard to admit that I yelled too much but I knew it was important to have a group of people to be accountable to and share my progress with.

Step 4:  Create a Support Network. There are four people I wouldn’t have survived this without.
(a) The Pep-Talker: The person you can call when you want to quit who will always tell you not to, that you can do it and that you’re doing great. This is my hubby’s job!
(b) The Texter: The person (people) you can text whenever you feel the urge to yell. Choose people who you know will reply back quickly with a supportive “don’t do it!”
(c) The Children: As in your children. Whenever my boys sense I’m getting ready to yell they say “Orange Rhino!” It works wonders. Wonders.
(d) The Orange Rhino Facebook Community. These are the people who can give you advice, encouragement on bad days, and hooray’s! on good days.  These are the people who will stand by you without judgment, who will remind you that you are not alone and who will inspire you to keep going.

Step 5: Track your Triggers. This is the part no one wants to do, but needs to do! My first 10 days I wrote down on orange post-it notes when I yelled, why I yelled, my mood, my kids mood, time of day etc. Tracking helped me:
(a) Create a mental alarm system that now goes off BEFORE I yell. (ie. Warning! Legos all over floor. You will yell. Prepare yourself for self-control. )
(b) Identify small problems that can easily be fixed and larger problems that can be focused on one at a time (ie. rushing in morning makes me yell, put out breakfast plates at night)
(c) Gain self-awareness that 9 out of 10 times underneath the “triggers” was the real trigger, my mood, and that therefore I needed to focus on my role in the “wanting to yell situation,” not just the kids. (ie. I want to yell because the kids are too loud, but REALLY I’m just tired) and ultimately
(d) Create a preventative measures plan to practice (eat well, exercise, go to sleep earlier, don’t bottle up emotions, etc…)
Read my post on Tracking your Triggers here.

Step 6: Start practicing slowly. Learning not to yell AT your kids is a big change; take baby steps and know that it takes practice! First, I taught myself to yell AWAY from my kids. I stilled yelled, but not at them, not in their faces. Instead I yelled in closets, toilets, cupboards, cars, boxes, shoes, bags. I yelled anywhere BUT at them. After, I trained myself to turn away AND not say the mean words. I let out yells (ARGH!!!!), animal sounds (Roar!), whistles and whatever else came to my voice.  The key here is repetition and accepting that “I can not always control my kids action, but I CAN always control my reaction.”

Step 7: Keep Practicing! After ten days of feeling silly yelling into the toilet and making animal sounds all day, and realizing that I DID have the self control to not yell at my boys, the desire to yell faded. I turned my energy towards (1) finding and practicing new ways to stay calm, (2) identifying, understanding and alleviating triggers, and (3) owning up to my own mood as the REAL source of the problem. Yes, I kept working at everything until I found my groove. For 100 Alternatives to Yelling that I tried, click here.

Step 8: Keep Goal top of mind. I practically decorated the house and myself in orange for a month straight to keep my promise top of mind; and I still do. Serve orange foods, wear orange, post sweet, gentle, “I can’t imagine yelling at that precious” baby pictures in problem areas, do whatever works to keep you focused on your goal.

Step 9: Persevere when you yell. In the beginning I restarted several times. I was discouraged until I started reminding myself that this was a process, that it would take time, and that the upside of yelling was that I learned about a trigger and what response to calm myself didn’t work. I didn’t fail; I just got more data points for how to succeed! Besides, telling myself I failed just made me feel crankier and yell more. So I stopped being so hard on myself, and when I did yell, I forgave myself, apologized to my kids, and promised to keep on trying.

Step 10: Celebrate when you succeed. Any moment I didn’t yell was a success, even if I had yelled moments before, and I celebrated those moments with either a fist pump in the air (yes, I did that!) or posting on Facebook. Everyone needs visual positive reinforcement too; my countdown clock on my blog does that for me. Other ideas for you: Make an orange heart on a calendar for every day you don’t yell, put an orange m&m in a jar for every moment you don’t yell, place an orange post it note on the wall near where you didn’t yell. Get creative but praise yourself!

Step 11: Stop Yelling, Start Thinking, Continue Calmly. And yes, despite all of the above, there are still moments where I feel a yell brewing. And then I turn to this mantra. STOP the Yell. (close my mouth, clench my hands, count to 10). START thinking (what’s the trigger, what calms me down, how can I proceed) and continue CALMLY.

Step 12: Remember that you are not alone, that I believe in you and that I am here to help you!

* It was HARD to learn to not yell and HARD to summarize all I did in a short blog post. If you want more information, comment and I will add it in future blog posts or point you in the right direction! Or read these posts mentioned above:

For goal setting: Forget 365 Days
For tracking triggers, a very useful step: Tracking My Triggers
For alternatives to yelling: 100 Alternatives




324 days of not yelling, 41 days of loving more to go!

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
~ Anatole France 


I had the most magical Christmas. Yes, there were many things that made it wonderful, but there was only one thing that made it truly magical. It wasn’t the twinkling of candles in the luminaire that lined our entire street on Christmas Eve. It wasn’t the twinkling in my boy’s eyes when they saw what Santa left. And it wasn’t the twinkling of the champagne I had at dinner that made Christmas magical. No, it wasn’t any of these things. Instead, it was my oldest son reminding me to believe more often because you just never know what magical thing might take place….

Hope whatever holiday you celebrate has been magical,
The Orange Rhino


We were all settled around the kitchen table enjoying our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Spaghetti and meatballs. As #1 poured “snow” (parmesan cheese) on his meatballs he paused and looked at us.

“Mommy, daddy, will it snow this Christmas? Will it be a white Christmas? It has to be so Santa’s sleigh can get here. Without snow it won’t work.”

“Oh sweetie, I’m sorry but there probably won’t be snow tomorrow. It doesn’t always snow on Christmas. In fact, it rarely does.” I said like a true, crotchety old lady who no longer believed in anything extraordinary.

“But it just has to. It has to snow!” he cried.

“We’re sorry babe, it’s just not in the forecast” daddy chimed in.

#1 stopped talking and looked sullenly down at his meal. He twirled his spaghetti, pushed it around his plate, but didn’t really eat it.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Aren’t you hungry? Aren’t you excited for tomorrow?”

“I am. But I am really sad that it won’t snow.  I really wish it would snow. I asked Santa for it to snow you know. And the clouds looked like snow today. It’s going to snow. I know it is.”

The truth? My husband and I hadn’t even looked at the forecast. We had no idea what weather the evening or tomorrow would hold. After years of non-snow-filled Christmas, we just assumed it wouldn’t. We stopped believing in white Christmases years ago. We had lost hope. We had lost the beautiful innocence that came with being a child.

We proceeded to finish dinner with a very disappointed six year old then read “’Twas the night before Christmas” before leaving out cookies and carrots for Santa and Rudolph. We tucked the boys in and ran downstairs to start the mad rush of getting all the presents out, assembled, and organized for tomorrow.

As I paused to nurse a new cut caused by untwisting one too many plastic ties from a toy box, a car passed by outside. The headlights lit up the night and what I saw amazed me.


Snow. Snow. Snow. Falling peacefully from the night sky blanketing our street in the most perfect dusting of white. It was a beautiful site. The most perfect type of snow in fact; the romantic kind that falls slowly and lightly and just makes you stop and pause and think what a beautiful world it really is.

I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“Oh sweetheart!” I exclaimed to my husband. “#1 was right! It is snowing outside. Can you believe it? Oh, it’s the best gift ever to him!”

Tears filled my eyes. I was overjoyed that my child’s simple wish had come true. I was overjoyed at the thought of how happy he would be the next morning. I was overwhelmed when I realized how children always believe; how they don’t let negative thoughts, or people, get in their way from wishing and hoping.

At that moment I wanted to run upstairs and wake my sleeping son and tell him the good news. I wanted to tell him that his wish came true, that it was snowing and that he should never, ever, stop believing in his dreams, in himself, no matter how many naysayers he comes across.

We did decide to wake him up; it was just too magical not to. We slowly opened his door and crept to his bed. As I opened the blinds he sat up, rubbing his eyes all confused.

“Look!” I whispered. “It’s snowing! It’s really snowing. Your wish came true!”

“Oh” he slurred still half asleep. “My snow came. Does that mean Santa’s here?” Then he plopped his head back down and resumed snoring leaving me no opportunity to tell him my don’t stop believin’ spiel.

Staring in awe!!!

So instead, I share it with you. Don’t stop believing! Believe in yourself that you can stop yelling. I can’t assure you that it will happen overnight but I can assure you that it will happen someday and that if you don’t believe in yourself, it will never happen.

Go for it. Dream of changing. Believe that you can. You just never know what might happen.

Peace & Love to you, from me

320 days without yelling, 45 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Season’s Greetings! Every December I sit down and write a holiday letter to my family and friends so it only makes sense that I should write one to you since you are like family and friends to me!

Every year I dread writing the letter because it is one more thing to do. Yet, I always enjoy the time to reflect upon the year as I quickly realize what a great year it has been, how blessed I feel despite any of the downs that year. And this year, well, we know it’s been full of downs. It’s had more health scares and stresses than years past. It has actually been one of the hardest adult years I can think of. Alzheimers. Cancer. Epilepsy scares. My personal health concerns. Challenges with the boys. Hurricane Sandy. Newtown. Oh, it has been an emotionally draining year. And it would be so easy to say “let’s just get this year over with and move on to 2013.” But instead, I feel grateful for 2012. I see the beauty that is my children, my friends, my husband, and The Orange Rhino Community. Yes, The Orange Rhino Community.

You all have made the downs of this year feel “okay,” feel manageable. You all gave me a place to be me, free of judgment. You all gave me a place to share my joy, my struggles, my tears. You all have helped me achieve my goal and grow into a different, more loving, calm, happy mom, person. Oh you all have given me the greatest gifts this year. Thank you.

You all have helped me bring more peace to my home, more love to my boys. Thank you. I truly wish I could send you each one of our Christmas cards to show my appreciation, to show you how much I do treasure our community. But alas, I don’t have your addresses. So instead let me share it!

The boys, yes, the boys, demanded that they wear matching orange shirts on Thanksgiving and that mommy and daddy oblige as well. We actually got a fabulous family picture but it is, um, obnoxiously orange! 6 people in orange is a lot. A LOT! But, OH I love it! And I love that the only card I could find that went with orange had the words PEACE & LOVE stamped across the top.

Warning. May need sunglasses to look at this image!


















Peace and Love. Perfection. The perfect words to summarize this year.

I wrote in my other letter, “we feel blessed to have found much peace, love, and gratitude in our hearts this year. Sometimes these things are hard to find; MY holiday wish for you is that they find you in abundance today, 2013, and beyond.

And that is my wish for you as well. And more.

So often when I receive our holiday cards I focus on the pictures. I ooh and aah and think “how adorable” or “oh how I miss them.” Sometimes I look at the words, but mostly I glaze over them. The words, the warm wishes, they are used so often this time of year that they seem a mere add-on; they can be missed. But it is the words that are perhaps more important than the pictures. It is the words, the messages that this world needs; it is the words that WE need, our children need.

And so I wish for you that every single world printed on your holiday cards, whether in bold or cursive, obnoxious orange or gold comes true to you this year, and beyond. I wish for you that amidst the crazy end of the year, the craziness of parenting, that you are able to embrace these words and bring them into your life, because you deserve all of it.

Peace. Love. Joy. Hope. Comfort. Family. Warmth. Happy Everything. Cheer. Blessings. Hugs. Prosperity.

Much Peace & Love,
The Orange Rhino






“Catching my breath, letting it go”

318 days without yelling, 47 days of loving more to go!
Favorite Song Friday #8

Dear Bronchitis,

This week I literally couldn’t catch my breath. My lungs felt cracked, stepped on making it so hard to breathe, so hard to catch my breath, so hard to talk. Was it you causing me the pain? Or was it the world around me, the terror, the fear, the sadness? Yes, I believe the world suffocated me this week leaving me breathless and speechless more so than you. My anger that the purity of Newtown was taken, my disbelief over what the world is becoming, my pain for all my friends and families and Newtown, oh all of it left me unable to breathe. Yes, my emotions suffocated me this week. But it is time to let go. It is time to remember the beauty of Newtown, it is time to look for love, and it is time to move forward. It is time to catch my breath and it is time for the antibiotics to kick in!!!

I’m letting go.
The Orange Rhino


Photo Courtesy 25daysofkindness.com

Today’s chosen song is appropriate this week as I move on from Newtown but But it has inspired me numerous times on this challenge. Parenting is HARD and OVERWHELMING. The thought of not yelling is hard and overwhelming. There are literally moments during the day when I get all worked up and can’t catch my breath. Moments where I can’t let go of my child’s behavior, I can’t let go off trying to achieve everything on the to-do list, I can’t let go of a disagreement with my husband, I can’t let go of the frustration of feeling like I don’t know how to parent. During these moments I just want to SCREAM!

But I must not. I must let go of the frustration at that moment so that I can catch my breath and re-focus on the love that is all around. When I hear this song I truly stop and take a deep breath. And it helps. And then often, though I am embarrassed to admit it, I end up with the darn chorus from the song in my head ALL DAY LONG. And I hum it all day long. But you know what? It helps.

Many of us will celebrate Christmas in a few days and all of us have kids home for vacation. This week will be joyful and also full of hyper. When I feel like I am overwhelmed, I will stop and sing this song. Especially the parts in bold. Happy Friday!

Catch my Breath by Kelly Clarkson
(words in parentheses are my addition)

I don’t wanna be (alone)…
Distance was a friend of mine…(I much preferred to not share my feelings for fear of judgment!)
I’ve spent most of my life…
Learning how to react
I’ve spent most of my time

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them let me down, it’s all so simple now

Addicted to the love I found (in my family, my friends, my Orange Rhino community)
Heavy heart, now a weightless cloud
Making time for the ones that count
I’ll spend the rest of my time
Laughing hard with the windows down
Leaving footprints all over town
Keeping faith when it comes around
I will spent the rest of my life

Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of this show
Now that you know, this is my life, I won’t be told what’s supposed to be right

Catch my breath, no one can hold me back, I ain’t got time for that
Catch my breath, won’t let them let me down, it’s all so simple now
You helped me see
The beauty in everything (you, as in my readers, thank you)…


My holiday wish for moms everywhere

317 days without yelling, 48 days of loving more to go!

Dear Stars,

I have a holiday wish for all moms, across the country, across the world. Do you think you can make it come true? We need it. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. I wish for the judgment amongst moms to go away so we may help each other more. Oh would it would make for happier moms and therefore happier kids.

The Orange Rhino



There once was a mom who called herself The Orange Rhino. She often felt alone, discouraged, and lost as a parent. She often felt that she was the “only one” who yelled at her kids too much, that she was “only one” whose kids sometimes did really questionable things, that she was the “only one” who cried at night because being a parent was so hard. Yes, The Orange Rhino felt a lot of things deep down under the smile, the laughter, the “oh yes, parenting is great” commentary. She yearned to find support, affirmation of her feelings; others who experienced the same because she knew that would ease her loneliness, her frustration, and bolster her happiness. But she DARED not tell a soul. She knew what might greet her if she shared what she REALLY felt:


And she didn’t need judgment; life was hard enough as is. The last thing she needed was people thinking she was a bad parent, that her child was a bad kid. What she needed was love, help, and understanding.

Understanding that she loves her kids, that she’s trying her best, but that it’s hard.
Help for how to handle the tough moments or how to just get through them.
And love on hard days, during the hard phases when understanding and help can’t be offered.

One day she took a leap of faith. The Orange Rhino had found a new community that seemed judgment free. She bared her soul about one of her biggest parenting challenges. It was time. This particular challenge was eating her alive and she needed to reach out; she needed as much love and help as she could find. She bared her soul knowing that the chance of understanding was very small, that the chance of judgment was very very high.

The judgment never came (at least not vocally). Instead the understanding, help, and love came in abundance! It gave her hope that she would get through the hard times; it gave her strength knowing that she now had people to turn to with the same struggles without fearing judgment; it gave her peace knowing that she no longer had to be embarrassed, that she no longer had to hide.

She learned a lot after coming “clean” with her struggle. She learned other moms struggle like her for the same reason! She learned other moms also feel alone and frustrated and afraid to share their struggles. She learned other moms yearned to be able to talk freely, free of judgment because they too sought understanding, help and love, because they too were tired of feeling like they were the “only one.”

She talked and shared with these other moms and she felt lighter, happier until she realized the loving response she received was the exception to the rule. She immediately felt sad because she knew that because judgment is so prevalent in today’s parenting circles, many parents who like her often feel alone, lost, and discouraged don’t have the opportunity to safely share their struggles… and so they don’t. They keep those oh-so-difficult feelings to themselves and continue to silently struggle instead of getting the help and love that they not only deserve but that also is waiting for them, in abundance.

Because that is one thing The Orange Rhino learned; when she reached out there wasn’t one mom waiting to support her, there were others, there were hundreds.

Her happiness turned sadness turned hopeful.

What if there was a world free of judgment so all moms felt safe to share their struggles? What if us moms stopped judging each other and offered empathy first? Because there is one truth, no matter what opinion you take on difficult parenting matters:


We need each other when we want to openly say, “I can’t do another day of this, I just want to collapse on the floor in a big puddle of tears.”

We need each other when we want to openly say, “I fear I am failing as a parent because of my child’s behavior and besides, everyone else’s kids behave “better.””

We need each other when we want to openly say, “I yell too much at my kids but I am embarrassed to admit it and I don’t know how to stop.”

Yes, we need EACH OTHER. What we don’t need is Judgment.

Us moms, dads, parents, us RHINOS, we need each other. We need to stick together. Photo courtesy enrevanche.blogspot.com

She started dreaming. What if we all felt safe enough to share our struggles? Oh how we could learn from each other. Oh how we could help each other come up with new ideas for parenting challenges. Oh how we could love each other when nothing else worked. And oh, oh how much happier we would be as moms realizing that we are not alone, that there are other mothers out there like us, helping us, standing besides us.

Oh, what a beautiful world it would be she thought. What a beautiful, beautiful world it would be.

Moms would not only be judgment free, but they would be free of the weight of hiding the deep struggles. The newfound lightness would help moms find even more patience for parenting and even more joy for parenting. Again, what a wonderful world it would be.

The Orange Rhino was awakened from her daydream at the sound of four boys screaming at each other over whose matchbox cars was whose and quickly thereafter the demands for dinner. Yes, she thought, we need each OTHER. Because this parenting gig is wonderful…and exhausting!

As she prepared dinner her eldest screamed, “MOTHER, when will it be ready?” and she had one last deep thought. She knew herself as a mama, a mom, a mommy, but never as Mother. mOTHER.  At that moment, she knew she would always remember that she was not alone, that there were always OTHER moms out there just like her. M (mom) OTHER.

That night as her sons wished upon stars, she wished for judgment among moms to go away. She is still hoping her wish comes true and promises to continue doing her part. 


Remember, you are a MOTHER. You are not alone, there is an abundance of other moms eager to hear you share your truths so they too can find peace.  Especially here in the Orange Rhino Community. There is no judgment here, just love. 



“Tonight, I will hug my kids tighter.” And tomorrow?

316 days without yelling, 49 days of LOVING MORE to go.

“Tonight, we will all hug our kids a little tighter.”
“Tonight I kissed my kids more than ever.”
“Tonight putting my kids to bed didn’t feel like a chore, but a privilege.”
“Today I told my daughter I loved her over and over again.”

Last Friday night from the President to my Facebook feed to my twitter feed, there were lots of popular sentiments but one that stuck with me is that everyone declared that that day, that night they would hug their kids tighter.

I get that. I am NOT disputing it. I did too. I hugged my sweet boys as long as they would physically let me. I kissed them more times than perhaps that week combined. And I told them “I love you” even when they were sound asleep and couldn’t hear me say it anymore. Yes, I did just as every parent across America seemed to do Friday night.

But the next morning all the statements and my actions made me think. What about on Saturday? On Sunday? Next Saturday? 10 Sundays from now? Will parents still be moved to hug their kids a little tighter? To tell their kids they love them more than ever…even when they feel anger at them for “bad” behavior? Because I know myself. When tragedy or hardship strikes, whether it is Hurricane Sandy or a trip to the ER, I stop and think. I think oh, life is precious; I am going to hug my kids more today. I think, I am so grateful; I am going to say it more. I think, I need to try harder; I am going to try harder to be more patient.

And I do, for a few days, sometimes longer. And then the tragedy or hardship escapes my mind and the chaos of life brings me back to how I was before the hardship.

And I can’t stand that about myself. And I worry the same will happen now.

I haven’t stopped crying since Friday and my heart hasn’t stopped sending virtual love to each and every soul in Newtown, CT.

But one day, it will. The tears will stop and my heart will re-focus entirely on my house, my life. I will try as hard as I can to be “the mom” that I was the weekend after the tragedy at Newtown, but the truth is I will slip. I know that when I address cards to my family and friends in Newtown that I will pause and remember the lives lost and I will run and hug my munchkins.

Walking with daddy in one of the many beautiful and peaceful fields in Newtown, CT where he grew up. October, 2012.

And I know that when we visit Newtown with my sons to show them daddy’s school, daddy’s house, daddy’s favorite pizza place, daddy’s favorite ice cream shop, daddy’s oh so beautiful town that I will sadly be forced to remember to hug my kids tighter at that moment.

But I also know those days will be fewer than I like. I know moving forward I won’t be as calm and tender at Kindergarten drop-off as I was today; that I will be loving but not AS loving and present as I was today. I know I won’t run and hug my son at pick-up as I did today but that instead I will sit in the car waiting impatiently for him to come to me so that I can rush to the next place.


And oh this reality pains me so. Oh this reality infuriates me. Oh this reality stumps me, confuses me, and pushes me to really think. Why? Why do I do this?

Everyday since Friday I’ve asked myself not just how will I bring the memories of those lost to life, but also how will I ensure that I hug my kids a little tighter each night, even when this tragedy is a distant memory? How will I embrace the mom that I was this past weekend? How will I find the same patience, presence, and persistence to be a loving mom that I had in abundance after I heard the devastating news?

I am not going to pretend to know the answers. Because I don’t know. I don’t know a lot right now, except for perhaps two things. One, I love my sons with all my soul and the thought of losing them breaks my heart. I can only imagine what it really feels like to those who have indeed lost their children. And two, I am forever grateful that I decided to stop yelling at them.

An expected answer given my blog topic? Perhaps. But I don’t write that for the expected answers. Yes I am grateful that I have stopped yelling because it has improved my relationship with my boys, it has shown them more love, it has created a calmer home. But right now, I realize that the real gift in learning not to yell is that it has forced me to LEARN how to be more patient, how to be more present, and how to keep being persistent in my quest to be the most loving mom I can be. And these lessons have made the two most important times in the day to me easier and better.

Ironically (and sadly) I was most prone to yell at my boys at the two times of day when I prepared to say “goodbye” to them for 6+ hours: getting to school and getting ready for bed. Learning not to yell helps me send my kids to school with love in their hearts. Learning not to yell helps me send my kids to sleep with love in their hearts. Of all the moments in the day, those are the most precious to me ESPECIALLY now. Especially now as I am painfully aware of just how precious and important those goodbye moments, memories, really are. How much they really count.

Yes, there will be (have been) days when I am not as loving as I hope. And on those days I just hope that I remember to not just give my sons an apology and one great big, tight hug (even if I am frustrated) but also that I remember to give myself one too. Because getting down on myself will just set me up to yell. It will just prevent me from savoring the next moment, and any moment I don’t yell is a win for all. And right now, we all need to have these winning moments. Because any moment WE don’t yell we not only give our children the love they deserve but also we teache our children patience, understanding, empathy, compassion and love ALL things this world needs. It certainly does not need more anger.

I am going to embrace the mom I was the weekend after Newtown by continuing to share love with my boys by not yelling at them. I encourage everyone to try not yelling but also to do whatever you need to keep bringing more peace and love to your home, to this world. And I will honor the beautiful lives lost by continuing to do Just Because moments of kindness and by donating to the Newtown Memorial fund whose mission is to … provide a memorial to the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy…(and more). Let there be a constant memory of the love these lives brought to this world and let us spread it by our kindness to our own children, and beyond.


What happens when your mantra fails you?

314 days without yelling, 51 days of loving more to go!

Dear Mantra,

You have been with me through thick and thin. You have helped me understand, or at least pretend to understand, things that were completely incomprehensible. But you failed me this weekend. Big time. So what am I to do now?

A lost Orange Rhino


I have had my share of adversity in my short 35 years of life. Who hasn’t, right? We all have. Whether big or small, meaningful to everyone, or just meaningful to us, we all have faced adversity and we all have handled it in our own way. Some of us turn to religion, some of turn to friends, some of us turn to writing, some of us turn to silence, and some of us, and by us I mean me, turn to my Mantra for comfort.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Yes, I would tell myself when adversity hit, this is happening for a reason. This is happening perhaps to teach me, or to save someone from future pain, to save me from future pain.  And my mantra has served me really well over the years. It helped me explain to myself why three high school kids died in a car crash. Why they must have had something bad ahead in their lives so they were taken now to prevent their families from future pain. Right? Right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

My college-bound boyfriend broke my heart one day before my junior year high school finals. He told me that he just wanted to be friends, when in truth, he really wanted to keep dating his best friend who he had been seeing on the side. He broke my heart now so that he could do it in person because over the phone while at college would be too much pain. This way we got closure. Right? Right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

My grandmother found out that she had cancer five days before she died. The doctor told her it was operable, fixable. But she chose to pass on treatment and let her body go. This infuriated me. Selfishly I wanted more time with her. I wanted to have her meet my future grandchildren, to tell them about her days organizing protests for women’s rights, her days leading the Retirement Home community board with passion and an iron fist that scared the men. That of course never happened. But she did get to go to heaven to meet my grandfather I told myself, and that makes it all okay, right?

It just had to have happened for a reason.

Oh the list goes on and on of all the times big and small I have used “Everything happens for a reason” as an excuse to bring me comfort, hope, understanding.

But what happens when that mantra fails? What happens when 20 kids my oldest son’s age are brutally killed and there literally IS NO REASON. I can not explain myself out of this one. I am left lost, sad, hopeless. I can not find comfort. I just find tears and heartache.

What happens then?

I let myself FEEL all that I am feeling. I tell myself there is no reason, there is indeed just pain. I tell myself it is okay to cry, as there will be a time when the crying will stop. I tell myself that I will be okay and I tell myself to find love. To find it wherever I can and embrace it. To find kindness wherever I can and embrace it. To find peace wherever I can and embrace it. Because love, kindness and peace remind that there is good in this world. Because love, kindness and peace don’t just bring me comfort, they bring me hope.

My go-to mantra for hard times failed me this weekend. Instead of giving up and feeling lost, I think it is time for a new mantra. Maybe it’s time to embrace something I have come to learn during this challenge. Maybe my new mantra should be,

“When all else fails, look for love.”

Click here for my next post that helped me to find love after this tragedy.


“Seasons of Love.”

314 days without yelling, 51 days of loving more to go!
Favorite Song Friday #7

Dear Newtown, CT:

I dedicate this Favorite Song Friday to you. I hope that you soon find peace in the loving moments shared with your lost ones. Until that moment, know that you are surrounded by love. Everywhere.

All my love,
The Orange Rhino


As soon as I hit publish on ‘Tis the Season for Giving…or Yelling? my mind was full of the notion of giving love to my boys. This song immediately popped into my head. I knew it MUST be the song I shared for Favorite Song Friday; the words were just too perfect. I planned to post it about 1:00 when the kids were all having quiet time.

But I never posted it. Instead I urgently called my friend in Newtown, CT to make sure all her children were safe, to see if she was holding up as well as one could expect, to ask if there was anything I could do. I then cried with her and for her, for all of Newtown. We wondered how will Newtown move on? Will Newtown ever recover? How will the lives lost be remembered?

It wasn’t an easy conversation. And I haven’t stopped crying since. And then I played this song and the crying stopped. I finally felt “some” resemblance of peace, some sense of hope because it gave me some sort of “plan” for moving on. I thought the lyrics were perfect before…well now they are eerily perfect, in the most wonderful way.

Enjoy the lyrics, feel the lyrics, think about how it applies to The Orange Rhino Challenge, how it applies to life, how it applies to Newtown. Then listen to the song. I love this song not just for the lyrics, but for its incredible ability to get inside my soul and move me, to get inside my soul and make me sing out loud wherever I am. I hope you have the same experience.

Yelling less, loving more, one MINUTE or moment at a time.

“Seasons of Love” from the RENT soundtrack.
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure – Measure A Year?
In Daylights – In Sunsets
In Midnights – In Cups Of Coffee
In Inches – In Miles
In Laughter – In Strife

In – Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure A Year In The Life?

How About Love?
How About Love?
How About Love?
Measure In Love
Seasons of Love.
Seasons of Love.

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Journeys To Plan
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure The Life Of A Woman Or A Man

In Truth That She Learned Or In Times That He Cried
In Bridges He Burned Or The Way That She Died

It’s Time Now – To Sing Out
Though The Story Never Ends
Let’s Celebrate
Remember A Year In The Life Of Friends

Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Measure In Love

Oh you got to you got to remember the love,
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure, measure your life in love.

Click here to read about my other post, What Happens when your Mantra fails you, written in response to the tragedy at Newtown, CT. 

‘Tis the season for giving…or yelling?

310 days without yelling, 55 days of loving more to go!

Dear Perfection,

I am pretty sure this post won’t meet your expectations. But as a holiday gift to myself, so I can be less stressed, I am letting it go.

Happy Holidays,
The Orange Rhino


‘Tis the season for giving, or so the saying goes. Sadly, it more often turns out to be ‘tis the season for yelling. Because let’s face it, this season exaggerates every major yelling trigger possible.

More to-dos in even less time? More stress, more yelling.
More parties and late nights? Less sleep, more yelling.
More alcohol and junk food?  Less feeling good about our bodies, more yelling.
More anticipation for gifts, more impatience waiting for the holidays, more hyper kids? More overwhelmed parents, more yelling.
More spending of money? More fights over finances, more yelling.

The list could go on and on. But I think the point is clear. This joyous season is supposed to bring out the best in people but for me? Well I quickly realized on Thanksgiving that first and foremost it brings out my desire to yell. The stress of the season teases me to give gifts of anger, impatience, and annoyance to my boys…it pushes me to give anything but love.

I think it was the setting of the Thanksgiving table that kicked the Holiday stress into high gear.  Realizing that I needed to iron the tablecloth, decorate the table, wipe down the crystal glasses, find the candles, do this and do that just triggered the other to-do lists for the holiday season. Get a good family picture. Order holiday cards. Shop for the kids, the hubby. Decorate the house inside. Put lights up outside. Find the Elf. Wrap the presents. Buy gifts for the teachers and therapists. Find a good cheerful mood. Yes, the simple task of setting a table sent me over the edge and had me sweating and cursing under my breath within minutes. I quickly became agitated and lost site of the awesomeness going on; the awesomeness of my boys gleefully watching the Macy’s Day Parade just like I did as a child. I just wanted to plop on the couch with them and ooh and awe over the floats but instead I grumpily insisted I had “so much to do.”

As I wrapped up setting the table, the boys ran to me shrieking with joy that Santa was on TV; that Christmas was coming! A wee lad plowed right into my back, almost knocking the crystal glasses in my hand to the ground. I spun around, fire in my throat and then stopped. You see, my darling boys were all wearing matching orange polos that they picked out for Thanksgiving because orange was a Thanksgiving color. It worked brilliantly. The sight of orange immediately reminded me of my promise to be a more loving mom and not a yelling mom.

In fact, the shirts worked so brilliantly that I suggest all holidays this month change their signature colors to orange! Because holidays are wonderful and full of joy but also, full of stress and therefore full of opportunities to yell. So this holiday, now that I am woefully aware of how the stress makes me want to yell, I am going to remember my Orange Rhino promise and get back to the original saying “‘tis the season for giving.” This holiday season, I am going to give all the gifts that keep me from yelling, and then some.

I am going to give empathy to my boys. I am going to remind myself of how excited impatient, and hyper I was as a child as I waited for Santa to come. I will choose to be understanding of their behavior, not critical of it, even if I just want to scream chill out!

I am going to give enthusiasm to my boys. I am going to get excited about where the Elf is hidden; I am going to get excited counting down the days to Christmas; I am going to get excited talking about Santa even if I am tired of the same conversation, over and over again, or tired from a late night out or a late night up wrapping gifts.

I am going to give myself permission to not be perfect this Holiday season. I am going to remind myself daily that the best house decoration is a smile on my face; that the best wrapped gift is a joyous attitude; that the best holiday card is one that is mailed and not one with the perfect picture.

I am going to give myself a break when I step on the scale and it screams that I ate too many holiday cookies. I am going to tell myself it is okay, that tomorrow is a new day, that I need not criticize myself for enjoying the treats of the seasons.

I am going to give gratitude to everyone on my shopping list. Sure, a thoughtful, on-time present wrapped with a bow would be beautiful, but in case that doesn’t happen (because given this month, it won’t), I will write a meaningful note of how lucky I am that person is in my life.

I am going to give myself perspective. When I am up late meticulously wrapping presents I am going to remember that what is important this holiday is family, friends, love, tradition and memories and not the number of gifts under the tree or how pretty they are wrapped.  I am going to remind myself that a rested mommy will enjoy the memories as they happen more than a tired mommy who strove to make the memories perfect.

And I am going to give kindness to everyone, strangers, myself, my family, my friends. I am going to do random acts of kindness not just because it feels good, but also because sharing love is what the season is about.

Which brings me back to the beginning. ‘Tis the season for giving. Giving love that is. If I don’t give the gifts above, well, then I will most definitely give anger, frustration, shame and quite possible a big old yell to my boys. And that is most certainly not on my shopping list.

So season for yelling begone. ‘Tis the season for giving, the season for love, and I’m giving my boys the gift of not yelling.


A Time to Yell

308 days without yelling, 57 days of loving more to go!

Dear Kevin Bacon,

I love the movie Footloose. Love it, love it, love it! I love when you passionately declare that there is a Time to Dance. Right now, this night, I feel as if I am you. It is my time to dance, to celebrate. In fact, I played “Footloose” tonight and had a dance party with my boys we danced and we yelled. You see, it wasn’t just my time to dance, it was also my Time to Yell.

The Orange Rhino


I have spent the last 307 plus days talking about my commitment to not yell at my boys. I’ve talked about how yelling doesn’t work; how it just makes me feel crappier and the kids cry harder. I’ve talked about how not yelling has benefits, like more peace in the house and in my heart.  I’ve talked about how often yelling isn’t warranted, but that my time out to look at my stress is. I have covered a lot of different yelling territory, I think, except for one area: when it IS okay to yell.

Because, I do believe there is a time to yell, and I don’t just mean the emergency situations.

Yes, my yelling meter clearly states that yelling to (not at) is okay in emergency situations, dangerous situations, where a truly raised voice is necessary to keep a child out of harm’s way. Yep, I am cool with yelling in those situations so long as it is to get attention in order to deliver a clear message of safety, not of degradation to the child for misbehaving.

But more so, I am totally cool with yelling for joy, and happiness, and pride, and love.

I am cool with yelling at the top of my lungs “YES! My son’s brain is okay!”

I am cool with yelling at the top of my lungs “YES! Go #1, keep  going, you got it, SCORE! You did it!”

I am cool with yelling at the top of my lungs “HAPPY BIRTHDAY #2! I love you!”

I am cool with yelling at the top of my lungs “YEAH #3 you pooped in the potty!”

Yes, there is most definitely a time to yell.

And when the times comes, the time to yell for joy, I need all the energy I can muster. When the time comes, I don’t want to be struck with Parental Laryngitis and unable to yell because I have lost my voice. When the time comes, I don’t want to be so tired from yelling and feeling so crappy from yelling that I can’t find enough joy to yell. In fact, when the time comes for me to yell to my child for a terrific reason, I don’t want my kids to be so used to my yelling that they tune out the important yells — the yells of rejoicing.

You see it is the yells of happiness that really matter. Those are the yells that need to be shared and celebrated and heard loud and clear. The other ones? Over spilled legos and spilled milk? Yeah, not so much. Not so important.

Tonight, tonight I yelled at the top of my lungs for joy and it felt AWESOME. I yelled with happiness that the worst is behind my son. I yelled with gratitude for all the support from you all. I yelled with relief that I can kind of exhale.

I yelled and it felt great and will continue to feel great.  And those are the yells I live for! Yells of anger and sadness and frustration and impatience? I don’t need them, they just bring me down. They feel good for a second, but that is it. Yells of joy? They bring me up, they make me feel alive.