Parental Laryngitis

370 days without yelling!  Republished since I literally, can not speak. At least I know it isn’t from yelling! (First Published November 13, 2012 when I had gone 280 days without yelling and had 85 days of loving more to go!)

Dear Doctor,

Help! My throat really hurts. It’s been throbbing for about three years actually and some days I can’t even speak. I wake up fine but then within ten minutes of the kids waking up and arguing with me about their clothes for the day, it flares right up. It settles down when they are watching their morning T.V. show but then oddly enough it starts scratching and pulsing at breakfast time, normally right around the time someone throws his food or complains that he didn’t like what I served. It’s the oddest illness I’ve ever had. It comes and goes all day and on the worst of days is accompanied by a throbbing head ache and a massively aching heart and tears. Lots of them. Taking deep breaths and telling myself it will go away isn’t helping. I’m at a loss. Please help me. I haven’t reached out to you before because some days, the really good days, I have no symptoms at all, and others well other days I don’t think the pain stops from the minute I open my eyes in the morning. Well and to be honest, I am kind of embarrassed about my problem. None of my friends seem to suffer from it, or at least they don’t say that they do. Please don’t judge me. Just help me!

A frustrated parent


Dear frustrated parent,

Based on what you’ve described it sounds like you have Parental Laryngitis, more commonly known as “Yelling at your kids too much.” The defining symptoms are: that it goes away when kids are sleeping or at school then comes on quickly, sometimes with a warning and sometimes not, and immense guilt. The good news is that you are not alone – at least 80% of parents suffer from this. Personal, marital, family, and social stress set up any parent to feel crappy and tired, two known causes of this condition. Children also experience extreme exhaustion and crappy moods further on setting the symptoms.  Take two of these Orange Rhino “pills” that I created as an alternative to yelling and read about The Orange Rhino Challenge, a community to support people like you, and then call me in the morning.

Dr. Orange Rhino


Dear Dr. Orange Rhino,

I looked up Orange Rhino pills online for the first time ever. I like to understand the medicines I am prescribed. I found “as of 2009, orange rhino are ecstasy pills.” Um, hello? Doctor? Are you an idiot? Did you mean to prescribe me that? Don’t you do your research?????

A frustrated, and now questioning, parent


Dear a frustrated, and now questioning, parent,

Well, well, well. What a funny Freudian slip, eh? And a wee bit embarrassing  Yes, I did mean to write The Orange Rhino. I specifically chose the name because Rhinos are calm animals except when provoked which I think is how most parents truly are. We are calm beings but when triggered by our children’s actions, or in-actions  we charge or scream. And I intentionally chose orange to inspire the sense of warmth we as parents want and to give us energy and strength to not yell.

I actually think it is kind of funny that I missed this tidbit of information when I did my research naming the prescription. Oops. But the thing is, in a way, MY Orange Rhino prescription is like an ecstasy pill (I’m guessing here, not based on my personal research!) MY Orange Rhino prescription is also about feeling happier, lighter, freer, more confident, more loving. Not yelling will induce these feelings. So while my name was indeed a slip, I am okay with that.

Again, take two of these and call me in the morning.

Tonight I moved these to my kitchen cabinet where snacks and cereal are, in other words, where I get frustrated with my boy’s indecision. A LOT. And to be clear, these are ORANGE M&M’s not pills! Other popular storage places: purse, diaper bag, bedside table…

Directions: When cranky and feeling your throat start to twitch, your hands start to sweat, and your eyes start to pop out of your head, take two “pills” and remember what The Orange Rhino stands for: a promise to your kids to be more warm and loving.

Then logon to the and yell there via typing. You do not have to store in a cool place. Simply store in a place where you are most apt to yell. Additionally, for more alternatives to help reduce your parental laryngitis, read this document: 100 Alternatives to yelling at your kids. WARNING: You may look like a fool trying some of them.

SECOND WARNING: It can take more than 10 days for the laryngitis to lessen. Please keep trying all alternatives until you are at a place where you feel better. Don’t give up.

Best of luck,
Dr. Orange Rhino


Dear Dr. Orange Rhino,

You were right. My throat isn’t scratching as much. I feel happier. I feel better. It did take a while but that’s okay. Well worth it.

An ecstatic parent

Note: This post is intended to be sarcastic and fun. I am not way endorsing illegal drug use. It is also not intended to make fun of anyone who does suffer from real, chronic laryngitis. 


“This is Gonna Be a Grrrrrreat Day!”

366 days without yelling…366 days of loving more! 

You know those mornings where you just want to crawl back in bed, pull the covers up over your head and hide until bedtime because the kids are running around screaming…and it’s not even 6? The mornings where every single kid woke up the night before and is starting the day all sorts of cranky? The mornings where you go into the shower for some peace and all you get are kids banging on the glass doors crying hysterically that “he hit me” and “I can’t get my sock on” and “I don’t want to go to school.” The mornings where you feel like since you are stuck out of bed, you might as well just bang your head against the wall because it is going to be one of those days?

Yeah, I don’t know about those mornings either. They NEVER happen in this house. Never. Accept if three or four times a week is the definition of never.

One day during this past year it was a wonderful, scratch that, it was a wonderfully insane morning. Luckily, my husband hadn’t left for work yet so he too could experience the chaos that was happening around us. The boys were playing a game of tag. But it was a different kind of tag. It went like this, or at least this is how I imagine the conversation went down between all my boys at say, what, 5:30 am that morning?

“Okay. Here’s the deal. I am going to cry and cry over the smallest thing possible that mommy can’t fix. Then I tag you. When I tag you, I’ll stop crying but you have to start. And you have to cry louder. Then when you are tired, you tag your brother. Then he has to start and cry even louder. And then finally, someone has to pinch the baby really hard so he starts screaming, not crying, but screaming. At that point, that is our signal to all start sobbing horrifically and become completely inconsolable. The trick? We have to make sure we all start the inconsolable part at the same time.  The objective of the game? To see if mommy and daddy lose it.”

It’s funny. I never even once felt like I was going to lose it even though given all the loud shrills and valiant efforts by my boys, I should have! In the old days, I would have no doubt. NO DOUBT. But not that day.

That day my husband and I looked at each other, and at eerily the same moment both chuckled and sarcastically said a line from the movie Jerry Maguire: “This is gonna be a great day!“ (See the clip below if you wish to reminisce!)

And while we were both being phenomenally sarcastic when we said “This is gonna be a great day!” and we both knew that it would actually indeed be a long, hard day full of tears and fights; just saying that it was going to be a great day put me at ease. Just sharing a laugh at how weird it was that we said the same thing from the same movie at the same time put me at ease. Just sharing a laugh about how it sure didn’t feel like it was going to be a great day put me at ease. Laughter is good like that. Laughter changed my mindset and helped me to be able to smile and then walk over to my terribly upset boys and be compassionate.

I think of that scene from Jerry Maguire a lot and it helps me get going on rough mornings, like today. I was in the middle of changing a very dirty and explosive diaper and one of my sons lovingly ran at me to give me a huge hug. Well, he gave me a huge hug all right. It was such a big one that it knocked me forward and I put not one, but both hands in the diaper. I went to wash my hands, dirty baby in tow, only to then stub my toe and find my other son squirting toothpaste all over his brother’s toothbrush. Cue the fighting and the crying.

Before I could even scream, I found myself imitating Dicky Fox and laughing out loud saying “This is gonna be a grrrreat day!”

And it worked. I started chuckling at the absurdity of the situation and the tension oozed out like the toothpaste now oozing down the counter onto the vanity. And I am so glad that it did because yelling back “hey, knock it off, it’s just a toothbrush” or “hey, why did you have to hug me so hard I put my hands in poop” would have gotten me nowhere except a more stressful situation. It would have just cued non-existent sobbing or make existent sobbing louder and louder. Obviously, that was NOT the desired outcome!  But that is only half of the story. It would have sent such a wrong message. It would have said “hey don’t hug me” and “hey your feelings don’t matter.”

Yeah, I don’t want to send those messages.

And I also don’t want to send the message to myself that the entire day is gonna suck because the beginning was less than hot. I don’t want to catch myself saying “This is gonna be an awfully hard, long, crappy day!” because that also gets me nowhere but a more stressful situation.

So yeah, now instead of letting the morning stress get to me and push me to yell on hard mornings, I send the right message to myself and my boys by imitating Dicky Fox and sounding outright ridiculous! But it makes me laugh, changes my attitude, and helps me to stay calm so I can “show my kids the love.”


How I “survive” bedtime.

358 days of not yelling, 7 days of loving more to go!

Dear Bed Time,

Oh Bed Time. Bed time, bed time, bed time. You used to be one of the hardest, longest hours of the day that I never thought I would survive without yelling! Within minutes of starting you, I would begin to experience sweaty palms, heart palpitations and of course an angry, impatient, yelling voice. Sadly, I have many a vivid memory of a bedtime gone terribly, terribly wrong. But ever since my “bedtime epiphany” early on in this Challenge, bedtime in The Orange Rhino house has been out right more enjoyable. And on some nights, get this, I actually LOVE you, dear bedtime. Can you believe it? All because I no longer “survive” you, but welcome you!

The Orange Rhino


I used to dread the bedtime hour. Dread it. The crying over the TV being turned off. The having to practically push each child upstairs. The water splashing all over me during bath time. The taking way tooooo long to brush teeth, to get dressed, to pick out a book. The running in and out of the bedrooms instead of sitting down for story time. The tickling each other during story time. The doing everything possible to keep from going to sleep and keep me from “me time.” I could go on and on. The bedtime hour in The Orange Rhino house used to be an absolute sh*t show storm! And at the end of a long day, well, it drove me nuts.

And so I used to scream, not yell, but scream. A lot.
And every night as I pulled my boy’s bedroom doors shut, I would feel awful, not bad, but awful.

DSC_0878And then one night about 350 days ago, it donned on me. Sometime between getting drenched with bath water, having toothpaste smeared on my jeans, listening to my boys argue over which Berenstain Bears book to read and feeling my blood pressure rise rapidly, I realized that I was approaching bed time ALL wrong.

You see, every night I was going into the bedtime routine with two totally useless and actually quite counterproductive thoughts:

1) “Harumph, this is going to be long and hard and ugly and a real pain in the a*s.” and
2) “Let’s get this hour done with already, I just want to get to my couple of hours of peace and quiet and uninterrupted me time.”

Yep, these two thoughts pretty much guaranteed the demise of bedtime. With a negative attitude like that bedtime didn’t even stand a chance for success or even a peaceful existence. Why?

If mommy is grumpy, the kids act out, mommy yells, the kids act out even more. Bedtime takes longer.

If mommy rushes, the kids go slower, mommy yells, the kids go even slower.  Bedtime takes longer.

And then….

If bedtime takes longer and the kids go to bed over tired and upset from mommy yelling, then chances are they won’t sleep well. And if they don’t sleep well, then the next day mommy and the boys are tired and by bedtime everyone is grumpy. And if mommy is grumpy, the kids act out, mommy yells and you guessed it bedtime takes longer. The cycle goes on and on and on.

Clearly, my negative thoughts about bedtime really did all of us a disservice. So I decided to let them go. That’s right, let them go. I traded in my negative thoughts for some much better ones. I stopped worrying about how I would “survive” bedtime and starting thinking about how I would embrace it.

Instead of thinking ugh, bedtime is going to be hard, I started thinking…

“Yes! Bedtime is going to be hard. I know it. I accept it. I will not be surprised or annoyed when it is. I will just go with it.” The result? I am calmer, the boys are calmer and most nights, bedtime goes infinitely smoother with a lot, and I mean a lot less tears.

And instead of thinking, “lets get this hour done already so I can have my glass of wine and peace and quiet” I started thinking…

“Yes! Let’s get this hour going! It’s my last hour of the day with my boys before I say goodnight for 12 hours. It’s not even a full hour; it’s only forty-give minutes. I can certainly stay calm for forty-five minutes! I am not going to rush; it does no good. Instead, I am going to enjoy the “forced” slow down and make the most of bedtime because I have no where else to be.“ The result? Bedtime is now one of my favorite hours of the day and not just because it is one hour closer to me time.


6.25.07 (2)I now love bedtime because in my forced slow down mode, I am more present than ever. I don’t rush the giggles in the bathtub as my baby splashes about with complete awe of the running water; I soak them up. I don’t rush my Kindergartener reading and discovering new word after new word; I listen proudly. I don’t rush Eskimo kisses and singing ABC’s with my three year old; I stare at his sweet face and think how lucky I am. And I don’t rush my four year old telling a wicked long story before saying good night; I enjoy every detail and then close the door with thrill that another night went smoother than it did a year ago.

Yes, changing my expectations for bedtime and slowing down has made all the difference in the world.  In fact, slowing down has actually made bedtime faster. Even on nights where I do have somewhere to be, staying calm and going slow makes bedtime faster. But forget a faster bedtime for a second. Slowing down has led to sending both my kids, and myself, to bed with more love and less disappointment in our hearts.  And that is way more important than an extra minute (or thirty) of me time.

(Do we still have our nights where I think just “hurry up already and get in bed!?” Yes, of course! But even in those nights, bedtime is still better than it was pre-Orange Rhino Challenge.)  

* * * * *
Learn more about my strategies to not yell during bedtime and other trying moments in my book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at Her Kids and How You Can Too!” It hits shelves October 1st but you can pre-order it now by clicking here.

Don’t yell…spell?!

352 days without yelling, 13 days of loving more to go!

Dear #1,

You have the most amazing timing, really. And the most adorable spelling. I have loved watching you learn to spell and write this year. Your first word? Green. Spelled? Gin. Did you know Tanqueray, the gin with a green label, is my favorite? Love it! And I love you. You left this note for me this morning and it’s like you knew I would need it today.










You are very special and important too,
Mommy Orange Rhino


As I hurried to get dressed this morning #1 called out from his room “what rhymes with special?” I paused. Mecial? Lecial? Shoot. I couldn’t think of anything.

I called back,  “I can’t think of anything. Sorry!”

He responded with, “Huh? And Mommy was that a yell?”

“No sweetie, I was just talking loudly so you could hear me.”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, duh.”

He then appeared in my room, paper and pencil in hand, wit, sarcasm and intelligence in mind.

“Next time mommy, just walk into my room and tell me. I’ll hear you better and you won’t have to yell. Oooooh. Yell and Tell. They rhyme!”

And then my mind started churning. Here are a few new alternatives to yelling that rhyme. Hopefully it will make it easier to remember them or at least make you laugh. My mind tried to come up with an idea for each letter of the alphabet but alas, that was so not possible. Enjoy!

Don’t yell…ring a BELL!

Don’t yell…pick up your CELL (and call a friend.)

Don’t yell…go to your DELL (and post on The Orange Rhino Facebook page.)

Don’t yell…act like an EL…ephant (swing your arm like a trunk and be silly.)

Don’t yell…FELL down and do a push up (okay, fall, but you get the idea.)

Don’t yell…GEL (you know, dance, like the commercial for Gel inserts for shoes?)

Don’t yell…okay, skipping the letter H J

Don’t yell…act like JELLo (get jiggly and shake all the stress out.)

Don’t yell…MELLow out!

Don’t yell…QUELL(this means suppress, I had to look it up!)

Don’t yell…SELL your request (you know, like a live auctioneer. Can I get a clean up? A clean up? Who wants to clean up? Any takers?! Do I have one? Two? You get the idea.)

Don’t yell…TELL. (Yes this one is easy to remember!)

Don’t yell…go the WELL and fetch a pail of water (or a glass, from the sink, yes, that might work better!)

Don’t yell…get all ZEALOUS with staying calm.

There you go, 14 new ways to practice not yelling. I personally like “Don’t yell…tell.” So simple. And then again I also like “Don’t yell…GEL.” I mean really, who didn’t love those commercials? Are you gelin’? But really, I just like the whole not yelling thing. It has mellowed me out, quelled lots of potentially big problems, and filled me with a new zealous attitude for life. Seriously.

So here’s to rhyming. Here’s to not yelling. And here’s to my son for inspiring this post (and me on too many occasions to count.

3 Ways to Yell Less at your Kids

350 days of not yelling, 15 days of loving more to go!

Dear Fred and Ted,

I know P.D. Eastman wrote about you hoping you would teach children about opposites. But did you know that you taught me, a thirty something adult, a really great lesson too? Well you did. Thank you.

Now back to bed!
Yelled the Rhino who was orange, not red!


Tonight while I was reading “BIG dog…little dog” by P.D. Eastman to my three year old I couldn’t help but let out a huge chuckle at the end of the story. I mean here I was reading a book for a child and I was the one learning. In case you aren’t familiar with the book, here is the key part of the story. It takes place after Fred, a big dog, and Ted, a little dog spend sleepless nights in a hotel.

“The next morning, Fred said, ‘My bed is too little!’
‘My bed is too big!’ said Ted.
‘I know what to do!’ said the bird.
‘Ted should sleep upstairs and Fred should sleep downstairs!’
‘Back to bed!’ yelled Ted.
“Back to bed!’ yelled Fred.
Ted jumped into the little bed upstairs.
And Fred jumped into the big bed downstairs.
Ted slept all day long in the cozy little bed.
And Fred slept all day long in the cozy big bed.
‘Well, that was easy to do. Big dogs need big beds. Little dogs need little beds. Why make big problems out of little problems?’”

OH MY GOSH. YES! It is that simple. That is one smart bird!

“’Why make big problems out of little problems?’”

I mean really, why? Problems are hard enough as is, so why make them bigger? Or put another way, why take a little yelling trigger and escalate it by actually yelling ridiculously? All yelling does is make my boys cry, which then makes a once little trigger feel ginormous because now I have a sad, upset child on hand as well. Yep, yelling makes little “problems”, bigger problems!

Take laundry for example. I can’t stand sorting laundry. Socks in particular. I mean really. Why do The Gap and every other sock manufacturer have to print the size of the sock in the same color as the sock? How am I supposed to read the size? It’s not like anyone is going to see the size if it is an obnoxiously easy to read color. It’s on the bottom of the foot for goodness sake! Every time I am stuck sorting socks and digging through baskets of mixed laundry looking for a matching sock, I want to scream at my boys. Is the sock dilemma their issue? No. But it drives me nuts and makes me batty so if they approach me with a simple question, I am apt to want to scream at them. I am apt to want to take a small problem, a lonely sock, and make it a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Do one child’s laundry a night. It’s that simple; no more sorting! I stopped washing mixed loads of laundry at the beginning of January. Now each child has a night and I am no longer digging for socks. Such a simple solution. Such a BIG relief. I feel like a new woman, seriously. No more snapping at my kids over unmatched socks is the greatest feeling! There was no need to make a big problem out of a little problem. I just had to think for a moment of a solution.

And then there is the case of the cluttered kitchen counter. I know my counter isn’t magnetized but I swear it is. It collects and holds tight to anything and everything in my house. School papers. Legos. Colored pencils. Snack cups. Magazines. Untouched Weight Watchers books. Small stuff from Hallmark from my mother-in-law that I don’t know where else to put. Shoot, anything that I don’t know where to put or don’t feel like putting away gets glued to the counter. And I CAN’T STAND IT. Just looking at the counter during the day makes me want to scream. It makes me so cranky and on edge that if my kids breathe on me or even leave a crumb I want to scream at them, unnecessarily of course. Yes, I want to take a truly small problem, a cluttered counter, and make it a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Every night I take 5 minutes to clean the kitchen counter. 5 minutes, sometimes less. It is the most beautiful thing ever. Now when I start the day I can breathe easy. My skin doesn’t crawl throughout the day, my to-do list no longer has “clean counter” on it, and I don’t snap at my kids for putting stuff on the counter because I know it will find the right home. The solution was simple, I just needed to look for it.

And well of course then there is the morning rush to school everyday. There’s the get your backpacks, get your shoes on, go to the bathroom, get your jacket, get in the car, buckle up. And that is after all the breakfast fanfare. Without fail every single morning we are running to get #1 to Kindergarten on time because with four kids and eight slow feet and eight otherwise busy hands, getting necessary tasks done takes forever. In fact, it takes so long that I want to scream the marching orders at my children, not say them nicely. Yes I want to take a truly small problem say, get your backpack, and make it into a bigger problem, a crying child.

Solution: Alleviate just one morning task by doing it the night before. Every night I get the school bags from the closet and line them up in the kitchen. One less thing to do in the morning; one less moment I want to yell. The solution was simple. I just needed to acknowledge the problem.

Oh there are so many triggers to yell in my life. The good news? So many of them are easily solved if I just take a moment to think. The other good news? Just thinking for a bit about these small problems has kept them from creating big problems like children with hurt feelings and a mama filled with remorse and guilt.

Seriously, that little bird was right big time. “Why make big problems out of little problems?”

Here are two other related posts about simple solutions…
A Novel Idea 
The Silliest Fight 

I will not yell at you, I love you.

345 days without yelling, 20 days of loving more to go!

Dear Parenting Magazine,

Hold the press! Don’t run that article, I lied. My son DOES listen to me. And not only does he listen to me, but he gets it.  He totally gets The Orange Rhino Challenge, he gets the not yelling thing. Oh, this year has not been for naught. Woot!!

The Orange Rhino


Is there a real article coming out? No. That’s just a dream of mine.

Does my son sometimes not listen to me? Yes. That’s reality. He’s a kid. Wait, he’s a person. I don’t always listen either you know.

But has he been paying attention, has he been taking in all this Orange Rhino stuff, has he watched me learn to handle anger more calmly, has he listened to me at least some? OH YES. How do I know? Check out this sweet little story from yesterday. I am smiling ear to ear just thinking of it. And maybe stamping my rhino feet in excitement too.

It was bedtime. I had settled one half of my fraternity into sweet slumber and headed towards #1’s room to give him a gentle heads up that lights out was coming. He started to get all huffy puffy. I knew what was coming. A big ‘ole holler. An “I hate bedtime! I never get enough time with you! I don’t want to go to bed yet!!!!! ARGHHHHH!”

I inhaled. I waited and waited and waited. The yell never came. Huh? Then I saw him grab a book, squint at me and start to take aim. Oh, maybe it was coming? Maybe the book was gonna get tossed at me in disgust? Nope.

“Mommy” he grimaced.
“I’m angry. Really angry with you. And I really want to yell. But I won’t. Because I love you.”



I love you too! And I am so proud of you! This small exchange was such a huge accomplishment for both of us, especially for him. My darling #1 is beautifully emotional and is working on reigning in the emotions that sometimes turn ugly. This was the first time he actually succeeded at doing so. Oh, this was such a win. Such a win. I was grinning when I started writing this and now tears are falling. I am just so very proud of him.

You know, there have been so many times on this journey that I wished I started my challenge earlier. If only I think. If only I started four years ago then I wouldn’t have taught my boys to yell at me, to yell at each other. If only I learned to say out loud “I will stay calm” years ago then I wouldn’t be plagued with the thought “it’s too late, I already taught them to yell, I can’t undo it.”

But clearly, it isn’t. It isn’t too late. And I should know this. Because I have taught myself to change. It wasn’t too late for me, it isn’t too late for him, for any of my boys. I can help them change today, this moment, any moment I choose. I can continue to teach by example. And I most certainly will.

And I will most certainly continue talking out loud as an alternative to not yelling.
I will continue to say:

“I love you, I don’t want to yell.”
“I need your help, can you please help me clean up so I don’t lose my cool?”

And I will continue talking to myself, which by the way I do OFTEN. I talk to myself so much that my head spins but it has helped me through so many tough moments when I have wanted to yell. So many. I say,

“I will not yell. I will not yell. I will be calm.”
“I can do this.”
“I’m exhausted, but I will not yell.” And
“Hey Orange Rhino, enough already. Stop being a crabby biatch.” (That’s a personal favorite. HA!)

Oh, there is so much I will continue doing when this year is over. But mostly, I will continue believing that I can not yell. I will continue believing that it is not too late to teach my children to not yell. My son chose love last night over anger and as the one on the receiving end of that love, I can say it felt great. So yeah, I will also continue believing that LOVE TRUMPS ANGER.


Mom’s on Vacation!

344 days without yelling, 21 days of loving more to go!

Dear Gorgeous Turquoise Blue Ocean,

Where art thou? I should be sitting by you RIGHT NOW! Did you not see my smoke signals tonight telling you to inform your private all-inclusive resort to send the private jet to come take me away? Did you not see the steam come out of my head as #1 broke down into pieces just like his taco just did? Did you not see the steam come out as #2 kept telling #1 that his taco was perfect and that it didn’t break because he held it right? Did you not see the steam come out as #3 insisted he wouldn’t eat tonight but would wait until dinner tomorrow night? Did you not see the steam come out when I took #4’s temperature and it read 103.7? Clearly you need glasses. Or you need to stop drinking my margaritas.

I really hope to see you soon, this mom needs a vacation!

The Orange Rhino

Photo courtesy:


One beautiful day this past summer my husband and I sauntered outside to the patio, drinks in hand. A vodka tonic for him, a Corona for me. We had huge, and I mean HUGE plans to sit at the patio table and enjoy said beverages. After all, it was the perfect late afternoon for doing so. That is what grown ups do right? I mean, that is what we used to do, pre-kids.  Just as I pushed my lime down and turned my bottle upside down, my vision of relaxing turned upside down.

“He pushed me!”
“He took my toy!”
“Waaaaa” (I fell).
“Mommy, mommy, mommy, MOMMY, I need you NOW.”

Ah. I sighed. It was another day in the life. I chucked to myself that I actually thought I would have a peaceful afternoon with 4 kids under five and a half and decided to make light of the situation.

“Hey honey, lets pretend we’re not here. Let’s pretend we’re on a tropical beach somewhere before kids. I’ll go first. I’m in Mexico. I’m wearing the bikini I wore on our Honeymoon. The one that will never ever fit again. I look thin and have no stretch marks. Oh, and I still have boobs because I haven’t nursed 4 kids yet. I am reading a book and I am not getting interrupted. Oh wait, the waiter just interrupted me asking if I would like lunch and another Strawberry Daiquiri. YES PLEASE.”

My husband TOTALLY caught to my idea. He even closed his eyes for this little exercise, which while started out feeling silly, ended up feeling awesome.

“No wait. Not Mexico. I’m in Hawaii.”
“Well, shouldn’t we be together in the same place?” I said.
“Sure. How about Dominican Republic, where we had our first vacation.”
“Oooooh, Perfect. I am SO there” I eagerly replied. By now the kids had sorted things out and were playing peacefully so we continued our game.

“I have just finished a beer and another one is on the way. I am about to eat Nachos without sharing them and then I am going to take a nap. A nice long nap. So long that we might not eat dinner until 7 or 8. GASP. We aren’t going to have dinner at 5. Oh, hey babe, can you pass me my sunglasses?”

We actually continued this visualization exercise for a good couple of minutes. It was A LOT of fun. We were complaining that we had kids? No, not at all. We were just finding a way to find peace in the middle of a really long stressful day. And it worked. Not only did it keep us from yelling but it also gave us a little secret joke to bond over.

The next weekend my husband was dazing off, hand in heads. My six year old asked him,

“Daddy, what are you doing?”
“Daddy’s in Machu Picchu.”
“Huh? Where? You’re not there you are right here in New Jersey! Only mommy goes to Machu Picchu!”

I burst into laughter. I knew exactly where my hubby was and I immediately went there too. And it kept me from losing it. I actually have become a regular in “Machu Picchu”; my private jet is parked next to the Mini-Van. And my kids know I go there OFTEN as they always hear me say, “Give mommy one moment please, she needs to go to Machu Picchu.” They think it’s hilarious. I think it’s a saving grace!

Why this story now? Why tonight? Because I was going to lose it tonight at dinner and my 4 year old sent me on vacation.

As I was shaking my head and taking deep breath after deep breath with every single piece of taco meat thrown on the floor my sweet #2 looked at me and said,

“Mommy, do you need to go to Machu Picchu?”

Oh I SO DID. And I SO WENT. I put the crumbled taco pieces down, sat on the floor, and pictured myself by the beautiful ocean. I heard it crashing against the rocks. I smelled the fresh air. I tasted the perfectly blended Strawberry Daiquiri and I let the warm sun soothe me. It was fantastic. It was just the vacation I needed.

I never thought that I would be one to “visualize” in order to relieve stress. But then again, I also never thought I would be a yeller. And guess what? I’ll take the trip to Machu Picchu any day of the week over yelling. Any day.

Who’s with me?

* My husband and I randomly picked Machu Picchu. I think there is a funny commercial about moms in Machu Picchu? So maybe we aren’t that original and Machu Picchu doesn’t seem to be at the beach! But at least we are on vacation, a quiet one. Even if only a few minutes, or seconds. 

I want to scream at my kids (but really, I just want to cry)

295 days of not yelling, 70 days of loving more to go!

Dear Orange Rhinos,

Monday night I took #4, now 16 months old, to the hospital via ambulance as he had another seizure. This one was worse than the one three weeks ago, and that one was worse than the one three months ago. I was hesitant to go but the Pediatrician insisted I call 911. 5 minutes later 4 EMT’s stormed my house. Two minutes later as the ambulance tore towards the hospital we were cut off by the paramedics who jumped in the ambulance, kicked the EMT’s out and started attaching little man to machines and oxygen. Soon after we had arrived at the hospital and I shared all that I had just witnessed (excessive drooling, a twitching left hand, a vacant stare that can only be described as, it looked like my son had no soul behind his eyes for 10 minutes) the two pediatric doctors on call agreed that a trip to the Neurologist was now necessary. As in, the next day, pronto.

I asked the doctors all sorts of questions: would he be safe at home? Should I sleep in his room? What happens if he seizes again? Will he be okay? They answered my questions calmly and thoughtfully and I bundled up my love and walked out of the hospital in a complete and utter daze. I remember getting in my neighbors car to go home. That is the extent of “feeling” I remember from that part of the evening.

The minute we got home I settled sweet #4 into his crib and then settled myself into my porch chair, big glass of wine in one hand, baby monitor in the other, and a heavy down comforter on top of me. It was 37 degrees out but I didn’t care. The cold air and the twinkling of the Christmas lights brought me the calm and peace I so desperately needed at that point.

Because you see, there are three words I don’t like together: Baby, Neurologist and Pronto. The combination successfully freaked me out and while my son’s nervous system had gone under attack earlier, now mine was. My brain was firing off all sorts of thoughts. I was simply scared shi*tless. But not much I could do at that point. So I slowly sipped my wine and breathed in whatever fresh fair I could knowing that tomorrow could very well be a hard, long day.

Last drop gone I then settled myself into my make shift bed – an air mattress outside #4’s door so that I could hear if he started seizing again (he moans and groans in a way that is unsettling beyond words.) I woke up the next morning to the sound of #1 and #2 asking each other “do you think mommy is back from the hospital? She’s not in her bed. Do you think baby is okay?” Reality hit. I needed to get up and face the day. I needed to be as strong as I could muster for all my boys that day. I needed to fight my desire to cry and stay cuddled up in bed. My boys needed me.

My boys were awesome yesterday morning. No fights over getting dressed, who got what cereal bowl, who gets to sit in the back car seat, etc….It was just the peace I needed to start the day, the peace I needed to stay calm for all of them and myself. Well, as to be expected, the peace was somewhat short lived as when it was time to go to school no one wanted to because they all knew mommy couldn’t pick them up because #4 had his big appointment. Tears fell. And fell. And fell. Legs kicked and kicked and kicked. Screams yelled and yelled and yelled. “I want mommy!”

Oh yes, the house was filled with chaos, and noise, fear and sadness. And I just wanted to scream. Scream out my worry, scream out my frustration. I wanted to scream at no one, yet I also wanted to scream at them, for no reason.

But I knew that would do nothing. So I did what I have taught myself to do.

I talked. I listened. I empathized. I treated my boys with respect and told them all they deserved to hear.

“I know you are angry. I know you are scared. I am too. I wish I could take you to school. I wish I didn’t have to take baby to the doctor. I wish I didn’t have to go to the hospital yesterday.”

“But it is not fair. You’re spending all your time with him.”

“You’re right. It doesn’t seem fair. It is all kind of sucky. But I love you. And as soon as I can get home I will. And I will hug you and love you. It will be okay. It will be okay.”

And then I cried with them. I just couldn’t help it. And you know what? I was okay with that. Because through this all (this Challenge) I have learned that of the many things I am learning to do, I am learning to teach my boys how to handle emotions. And that means feeling them. All of them.  Even the ugly ones. It means showing them that yelling at people isn’t okay, but that it is okay to cry, to be angry, to be sad and to SAY SO. Nicely. And it means learning to handle those emotions so they don’t bring you down. It means talking about them.

And that is what I did all day, and that is what I have done for the last 290+ days (albeit with a slight filter to keep my boys anxiety down and a simplified manner, but still.)

When I came home from the neurologist yesterday I was a mess. I pretty much still am but I am not talking about that. Yet. I’ll talk about it when I have something concrete to share. The appointment wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either so when I walked in that door I didn’t feel like being a parent. I didn’t feel like being responsible. I just wanted to curl up on my porch and feel the fresh air and pray that it brought me peace again. And cry. And cry. And cry. I wanted to feel scared and sad. I didn’t feel like dealing with all the energy that my boys had at that moment – all the excitement they had to see me after a long day. And yet, I wanted to be there for them at the same time. I wanted to hug them and love them and feel the goodness that was real in front of me at that moment. I was so conflicted with emotions. Wanting to hide but wanting to be present. And that overwhelming confusion actually made me want to scream at them to stop running around and to stop jumping on me.

So I did what I did earlier. I talked and I told them where mommy was at.

“Hi guys. I am excited to see you too. I love you so much. Listen. Here’s the thing. Mommy has had a long day with the baby. I’ve missed you tons but mommy is tired and feeling a little stressed. So I need you to help me. I need you to play loudly in the basement or quietly up here. I get cranky when I am stressed and I don’t want to get cranky with you. I want to love you lots. Can you help me?”

It worked. It works. It makes me feel better and my boys got it. It being openly sharing my feelings instead of keeping them inside until I scream.

I openly share my emotions with you, my boys, my friends and my husband. With everyone including the wall. Some people think it’s too much. But I’ll tell you what? It works. It keeps communication lines open, it helps people know where I am at, and I truly believe it prevents big blow up fights and screaming. And you know what else?

It is teaching my sons empathy and the more proper way of how to deal with emotions than yelling.

So, so be it if it is too much. To me, there has been nothing but upside. It has kept me “calmer” and closer to all my sons during a very trying week. And it turns out that is what I needed more than a glass of wine and a trip to the porch. I didn’t need stress from yelling and feeling crappy about yelling. I didn’t I feel crappy enough as is. I needed to love and be loved by all my boys. And I got it.

So yeah, this week has been tough. And tomorrow and Friday will be equally tough as I sit in the hospital for 48 straight hours watching my baby go through seizure tests galore to rule out all the bad stuff. And yeah, I wanted to go out to my porch tonight and cry instead of packing for the hospital. But I needed to get this out. I needed to set my feelings free. I needed to admit I was having a hard time.

It works wonders you know, sharing  your feelings with adults AND kids alike.

(Now let’s hope our Neurologist can work some wonders too and give me good news.)

Fingers crossed,
The Orange Rhino 

Marshmallow Mayhem

286 days without yelling, 79 days of loving more to go! 

Dear #2 and #3,

You continue to give my great photo opps. Thank you. But next time could you please stay OFF the high chairs and ask me for help?!

much love,
The Orange Rhino Mommy


Oh boys. Oh my dear, dear boys. I love the teamwork. I love the independence. I love the confidence. I don’t however love the unhealthy snack or the dangerous approach. All that said, I do love you for giving me a great idea for a new alternative to yelling, like stopping and taking a picture. See?

Remember this picture?

“You block mom, I’ll get the pickles. In the glass jar…”
















Well those two were at it again yesterday. Same idea, new location, and a new alternative created and I just realized, clearly the same shirt. But on a different child. AWESOME.

Who wants a snack?

I think this is how the conversation went down before the picture:

“Hey #3, let’s push the wobbly chair over to the cabinets and get really, really close to the stairs so that when mommy turns around from changing a diaper she sees us and gets all in a twit.”

“Okay #2. And I know. Instead of getting a healthy snack lets each shove a mouthful of marshmallows in our mouths so when she asks us what we were thinking we can’t talk.”

“Great idea. Do you think while she grabs her camera, because we know she will, we can quickly shove some marshmallows in her mouth so she can’t yell at us?”

“Yeah. Good thinking.”

“Ready. Set, go!”

And this is how the conversation went when the boys were busted (and after a took a picture)!

“Um boys, what are you doing?”


Yep, their plan worked. I couldn’t understand a darn word. Between the smiles and the giggles and the mumbled words I couldn’t even yel. I did manage to not laugh though and to still firmly remind that that their behavior was unsafe. And then when they offered me a marshmallow I accepted. It was a sweet peace offering I couldn’t resist (even though I probably should have.)

As I munched on my marshmallow I had fond memories of a Bridal Shower where we made the bride eat a marshmallow every time she answered a question about her future husband wrong. How many kids does he want? 2? Wrong. 1. Marshmallow in. When did he know he was going to marry you? First date? Wrong. 2nd marshmallow in. By the fourth marshmallow we couldn’t understand a word she spoke and couldn’t stop laughing. Just like now.

Which made me think: what if I carried marshmallows around and stuffed them in my mouth whenever I wanted to yell? That would definitely make the boys laugh and change their behavior (win) but oh so not practical or smart of nutritious (no win).

BUT I could bite my tongue and try to talk instead. That would DEFINITELY have the same effect. I tried it out today when everyone was crying and carrying on at dinner time. They weren’t doing anything deserving of yelling or reprimand I was just tired and cranky.

So I bit my tongue and talked pretending I had marshmallows in my mouth.

It sounded like this, kind of:

<<< Okay, just kidding. I can’t figure out how to upload a video to my friend’s computer. So just Imagine it! Better yet try it tomorrow!>>>

When I spoke, the boys stopped in their tracks and started laughing while asking me “mommy, what’s wrong with your mouth?” “mommy you sound like after you went to the dentist.” “mommy you sound funny.”

I had their attention at last and it was quiet enough to get my message across. So I repeated it this time not biting my tongue.

“Boys. Please stop yelling. I have a headache and I am really tired. Please go play with your legos. Thank you!”

“Oh, okay.”

Wow. Biting my tongue literally worked. I’ve always heard that sometimes you have to bite your tongue. Guess it’s true.

My worst day of “The Challenge” thus far…

Written November 7, Day 10 without power

Dear Facebook,

Was it really necessary to delete all I had just written after the day I had?! ARGH!

Not so sincerely,
The Orange Rhino

(Dear Orange Rhinos – as I get back up and running (translation: get two weeks of laundry and dust bunnies taken care of – I wanted to re-post what I wrote on my phone for those who don’t Facebook. I will write something new soon. Like tonight. I promise!)


Today was ugly. Absolutely  positively, 110% ugly. It was indeed the worst day I have had on this challenge, a day I am ashamed of because it was full of way too much snapping and way too much mumbling not nice things under my breath. It was a day filled with venom.

It started off great

The kids slept in to the new daylight savings time so I woke feeling rested and so powerFULL. But then, as I stepped out of the house this morning en route to a friends house, it hit me. It was beyond COLD. The sky was grey which meant the snowstorm wasn’t a joke but instead a cruel reality, an imminent reality. And it meant no sun today, or rather “no orange rhino, your house will not warm up a few degrees naturally today so screw you!” Yes, I felt attacked by the weather today and defeated. So much so that when I dropped laundry off at a friends I couldn’t hold a conversation without crying. Because you see, not only am I cold and frustrated and feeling powerless to help others, my baby had a febrile seizure on Friday and today woke with a fever AGAIN. I knew blood work was in the works for today – somewhere between getting firewood, gas, groceries, ice all before the storm hit. ARGH. The stress of the last 10 days finally hit me this morning and it turned me into a raging B***:!We got in from dropping the laundry, I still wiping tears away, and I went on a firm voice rampage! Clean up! Do this! Do that! Now. No one responded (obviously) so I threw a temper tantrum. I went outside (in the COLD!!!), tried to hide, and stomped my feet, screamed out loud and maybe even kicked a toy. Or two.Then I walked back into the house and tried again. Still, no response. It was clear – the stress I felt was radiating. My attitude was literally being spit back at me. My boys look nothing like me but today their attitudes made them look like spinning images of me (or is it spitting? I always get it wrong!) Anyway, I digress. My boys needed to temper tantrum as much as I did. So we all did. Together.

“Who needs to scream? Okay, on the count of three we’re going to stomp our feet, pound our chest like gorillas’ and scream. And then we’re gonna move on.”

We did that. And it was fun. And worked for nearly 5 hours. Sh*t. I needed it to work WAY longer. Fast forward two hours, my ugliness is rearing its head again and my eldest dumps all the firewood ashes out on the driveway (don’t ask why they were available to be dumped in the first place). I grumbled and snapped and firmly made my point. But still felt crappy. Because I knew it was preventative and I was just in a bad mood.

ARGH. Then the opportunity presented itself to get on track AGAIN. #2 was struggling with his snow pants. He grumbled at me “I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day!!!”

“Me too I said! Me too.””Do you need a kiss and a hug to make it feel better?””Yes I do. Do you?”


We hugged and kissed and guess what, I felt better. It was still an ugly day but at least I was able to pull it together to have that moment. Because it was the sweetest, most powerfully engaged moment I’ve had in days and I needed it. His little hug and kiss, and your stories today, totally recharged me. Phew!