The Emergency Yell!

405 days of loving more!

A few weeks ago during dinner time the doorbell rang. I had of course just settled everyone down to eat, I mean complain over what I served, and the last thing I needed was an interruption. I tried to ignore the ring but it was followed by a knock. Clearly it was important. I told the boys to stay put and eat dinner and that I would be right back.

I headed to the door and saw a gentleman standing outside with a “Cell Phone Company not to be named” badge. Okay I figured, pushing my fears of strangers aside, he’s legit. Maybe he is here to tell me they are finally fixing the signal in the neighborhood; now that would be awesome! I slowly opened the door, once again telling my boys to stay put and to come nowhere near the door. (I have a thing about strangers seeing that I have four young boys in my house.)

“Hi Ma’am, I work for “Cell Phone Company” and we are in the area trying to figure out why the signal is so poor.”

(Score! This was going to be good. Maybe I could finally send text messages without problems!  Turns out, I got unnecessarily excited.)

“We have a scanner that shows that there is a signal interrupting our “Cell Phone Company” service. It is coming from your house. Have you installed anything recently?”

At that point I was weirded out. A scanner? He was scanning my neighborhood while driving a car with not one sign that read “Cell Phone Company”? Was this really legit? I hemmed and hawed before answering him, debating how much information to share. Something was just NOT feeling right.

“Well, no not really. We have a booster to help get a better signal but we have had that for ages. There was a power outage recently though and that could have effected everything.” I said calmly through the small crack of the opened door. There was no way I was opening the door any wider.

“Hmmm. Well, do you mind going up to your attic to take the booster down? If you turn it off we can tell if it is the problem. I can then walk around your property and see if the signal gets better.”

Right. It’s almost dark out and you want me to go in the attic, leave my 4 kids alone and unplug the booster while you walk around my property? AS IF.

“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you have a business card?”

“Actually, I am out. I gave my last one to the customer a few blocks away.”

Make that a double AS IF I was going to do anything to help him solve a problem. Just then two of my boys scampered towards me to see what was taking so long and #4 started screaming, no doubt saying “get me out of this high chair now before I throw dinner everywhere!”

“You know,” I said, “I can’t take the booster down now. It’s dinnertime and I need to go. You can stand in front of my house and scan and then return with a business card and a properly marked vehicle and I will determine if I want you walking around my house.”

“I understand.”

I shut the door and ordered the boys back to dinner. They weren’t listening. Then I saw this man who I deemed had questionable requests and questionable identification start walking towards my side gate. What the ????

“Boys. Sit down at the kitchen table now please.” I said calmly. They didn’t budge; this seemed to interesting to them.

“Mommy who is that? I don’t want to eat. Can we see what he’s doing?” They badgered me with questions and I tried to stay calm so they didn’t freak out. Honestly though, I felt anything but calm. I quickly called my husband but he didn’t answer his phone. Crap. What was I supposed to do?

I looked and the boys were headed towards the back door to watch the man. To me, again, legitimate or not, this was an emergency. This was a stranger that I did not trust.


Well, since they haven’t heard me yell in ages, they hauled a*s to the table. And they sat there obediently. My quiet and calmer (although lets be real, not entirely calm) voice returned.

Now that I had their attention I was able to say what I needed to. “Guys, I don’t know him. I need you to stay close to me and to listen to everything I say, okay? Remember, strangers are danger until mommy or daddy says its okay. I am sure it will be fine but right now, hang out with me and ignore him, okay?”

And well they did. And then the door creaked open and I peed my pants in fear. Oh yes, yes I did (how is that for honesty?)! Daddy then walked in earlier than expected, like say 2 hours early, and said,

“Hi guys, who is the man in the driveway?”

Seriously? I told him the situation and he took care of it while I started cleaning up food that had been flung to every corner of the kitchen in my absence. I then settled the boys into their night time TV show and spoke with my hubby.

“Oh babe. I was scared. It was so sketchy! And then I yelled at the boys because they wouldn’t stay away and I feel bad but I felt it was an Emergency.”

“No, it was. You were right to do that. It was sketchy and they needed to know strangers can be danger.”

“I know but still I hate yelling.”

“Sweetheart, in emergencies, when you yell TO your kids but not AT them, it’s all good.”

Not only was I thrilled my hubby was home early that night to make me feel safe, but I was also thrilled he said that. I needed the re-assurance that I handled the situation right. And what he said is exactly what I have felt from the start. In my eyes, there is a huge difference between yelling to my kids in an emergency and yelling at them.

Yelling at someone is mean; it’s outright hurtful, even in emergencies. In this case it would have been “BOYS! Don’t you ever listen?! What’s wrong with you? I said get over here now!”

Yelling to someone in emergency is simply loud; it’s an intentionally louder voice in the direction of someone who needs to hear the message.

And well, the night of the Verizon stranger, I yelled to my kiddos and it worked. And not only did it work but it reinforced to me why I am so glad I stopped yelling. Because that night, when I yelled not only did they listen, but they really heard me explain what I had to about strangers. Before when I yelled, they didn’t really hear me, they didn’t listen and they didn’t get the message. Why? Because my yelling was so expected; I did it with such frequency that they tuned me out. Mommy’s yelling again? “Did she say anything? All we hear is blah, blah, blah, blah!”

The night of the Verizon man I needed to be heard and definitely not tuned out, just like I would need to be in an emergency situation. Whether it be “EMERGECNY! STOP! CAR!” or “EMERGECNY. QUICK. #4’s HAVING A SEIZURE. GET MOMMY THE PHONE!” there will be times when I need to really raise my voice to be heard. And I am okay with that so long as it is only in emergencies…because if I do it too often, it will lose its most necessary power at the most important moments.


As to whether or not the man was legit, time will tell. He gave my husband an email address. My husband emailed him but never heard back. He has yet to return to the house so I am taking that as an okay sign that we are good. Phew. 

Coincidence or Conspiracy?

Dear Orange Rhino Community,

I had the honor of being interviewed for a newspaper article recently. I don’t know when the article will publish, but I know this. I loved telling my story about The Orange Rhino Challenge. I loved the chance to stop and realize how much not yelling has really benefited me in so many ways beyond my parenting.  And I loved sharing about the incredible Orange Rhino community.

Talking about The Orange Rhino Challenge always gets me going – in a really good way. One of my favorite questions that got me all fired up because the answer still shocks me is: have you ever wanted to just scream your head off and quit? And if so, what happened?

My short answer? Oh yes, of course! Lots of times. It is hard work not yelling especially on the really hard days but miraculously every single time, truly every single time I hit my breaking point, someone surprised me with the most perfect, supportive gesture at the most perfect time. It’s surreal. There is a quote that goes something like “when you have a dream and believe in it, people conspire to make it happen.” I have proved this quote true to be true and that is what I have loved so much about The Orange Rhino Challenge. It is moms and dads, mostly strangers, helping each other to make dreams of being a better parent happen. It’s just been an amazing, very touching journey.

My long answer? It turns out the real quote by Paulo Coelho goes:
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize this dream.”

Yes. Yes, yes, yes! There have been many times when I wanted to just quit, but you all didn’t let me. Knowingly, or unknowingly, you all conspired to not let me quit when I wanted to.

I remember clear as yesterday the time I was driving up the hill around the corner from my house. I was talking to my mom, no bawling to my mom, saying “I just don’t think I can do this. It is so hard and exhausting and I just want to quit. I love writing but it stresses me out too because I feel so vulnerable after I share some of more personal stuff. Why did I make this promise? If I quit I’ll just let myself down and more so my boys so I can’t quit but oh I want to so badly. Mom….what am I supposed to do?” She of course said that I can do anything I put my mind to, that I couldn’t quit and to just give it one more day.

I came home to a surprise package from an Orange Rhino. The most beautiful note was inside as was this adorable Carter’s Orange Rhino sweatshirt. I mean really, Carter’s had orange rhinos on their clothes when I had my challenge going? What are the chances? I felt the world was sending me a message: don’t give up. Don’t lose hope. You’re onto something. Believe in yourself. Be an Orange Rhino!

And then there was the time when I was so overwhelmed with my to-do list that I couldn’t get a grip and I just wanted to scream at my kids. And voila! a college-ruled note pad showed up at my door in honor of one of my posts. My spirit lifted and I finally started chipping away at my list and the stress on my shoulder. I survived another day without yelling.

And I could go on and on about the most beautiful, gracious, thoughtful emails I have received from all of you thanking me for sharing. What you don’t realize is that every single one of those emails LITERALLY came when I was at my weakest. It was uncanny, really. I would be minutes away from writing my “this is my last post, I have had enough” post and one of you would send me a message that gave me strength and hope and I kept going. So really, I should be thanking you, not vice versa! And I should be thanking you for every time you read something I wrote, shared something, commented or even just liked my page. Your interest kept me up, reminded me that I was not alone, and pushed me through the day.

As does this little keychain. I’ll never forget the day I was so exhausted I dropped to the floor in tears and later on one of you messaged me about this awesome key chain. It was the only orange rhino and you said I must get it. Again, what are the chances of there being an orange rhino out there? Or even a friend finding an orange rhino butter dish to give to me? And what are the chances that the year I launch my blog orange would be the “it” color and everywhere I went I would see orange? And what are the chances that there would be a huge 10′ rhino statue where we went away for Mother’s Day? I mean really. Rhinos became cool this year. Coincidence?

Some people say you see what you want to see. That you can call all this perfect timing and perfect placement a coincidence. But it’s not.  It’s a conspiracy, a really powerful and awesome one. This year I have felt the world, all of you, conspiring to help me and well shoot, I am sitting here writing this with tears in my eyes.

I have changed this past year. I have grown up. I have opened up. I have found me again. I have found a more loving, patient and understanding relationship with my kids and I just feel really blessed to have had so much love and support. I am so grateful that I had a dream and the universe did indeed conspire to make it happen!

I have 6 days left on my Orange Rhino Challenge. My son asked me today what I was going to do to celebrate. He said I should bring a bunch of animals to our yard and paint them orange… and…(more importantly) that I should thank everyone.

The thing is, saying thank you just doesn’t even seem strong enough, but it’s a start.


The Orange Rhino


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.

My husband’s honest opinion

335 days without yelling, 30 days of loving more to go!

Note: My husband wrote the following unbeknownst to me. I didn’t ask him to write it,  he just surprised me with it on our wedding anniversary as a nod to my upcoming 1 year anniversary of not yelling. I was floored and touched and so many other wonderful feelings too! I hope his insight into the impact of the challenge touches your hearts as well. And babe (that would be my husband) I can’t say thank you enough for this kind, loving gesture.


Dear Faithful Orange Rhino Readers,

This is a message from the Green Turtle (aka: The Orange Rhino’s Husband).  I am writing because the 1st year of the Orange Rhino challenge is coming to an end and I need your help to commemorate the year.  I could write endlessly about the positive effects of the Orange Rhino Challenge, however, I’m told these posts are best when kept short and sweet…and that my wife is incapable of the short part! So I’ll be brief for her. To that end…. The Orange Rhino Challenge has had a profound impact on many lives….

1) Our Household is different and better place because of the no yelling decree.   My incredible wife has not yelled (seriously).  I’ve taken the challenge more times than I can count.   Sadly, I haven’t gone more than 30 days without yelling.  Let’s face it, not yelling is HARD.   However, because of our commitment to replace ANGER and YELLING with LOVE and UNDERSTANDING the OR+GT household is a better, happier, more positive, place.

2) Our marriage is better.  Let’s face it, marriage is HARD.  However, because we created an environment of love and understanding we’ve also created an environment of COMMUNICATION, RESPECT and PATIENCE.   I can’t speak for anyone else, but replacing the negatives with the positives is wonder natural elixir.  The past 330+ days have been some of the best days of our marriage (honeymoon aside).

3) Your lives are better.   I don’t profess to know many members of the Orange Rhino Community.   However, on occasion, my wife shares a story about someone who has taken the challenge and has remarked about the positive improvements to their lives.   To me, that’s what the Orange Rhino Challenge is all about.  It’s not only about not yelling.  It’s about taking the best things in our lives (Spouse, Children, Friends, Love) and embracing these wonderful gifts.  It’s about not taking the EASY road and reverting to anger.  It’s about making a COMMITMENT to be a better person, to be a better parent, to be a better friend and a be a better spouse.  Many of you have embraced this challenge and stories & anecdotes indicate you’re happy you did it.

So, in conclusion, I am a proud member of the Orange Rhino Community and I am an incredibly proud husband of the woman who challenged all of us to replace ANGER with LOVE.

As this year comes to an end, I would like to do something to celebrate the success of the Orange Rhino and I  NEED YOUR HELP.  I am making a craft project of pictures, anecdotes and quotes from the past year.  If you have a something you want to share in celebration of the Orange Rhino Challenge would you send it to me?  I can be reached at     


The Green Turtle

I just want the truth.

334 days without yelling, 31 days of loving more to go!

Dear Crayola Washable Markers,

Nothing says lets get this Friday morning started like turning around and seeing one son’s door covered in bright yellow marker. Nothing says let’s test mom by finding one of her favorite washcloths and trying to wash the marker off. Nothing says “hey mom can you stay cool at 6 in the morning” if we leave the wet wash cloth on the floor AND leave the guilty marker right next to it so when you jump after stepping on the wet wash cloth you fall.  Yep, nothing says, good morning like all of the above and yet, I thank you for the “colorful” morning. No really, thanks. You may have really ticked me off but at least you further motivated me to not ever return to yelling at my boys. So for that, I thank you. For the extra work you created? Not so much.

Anywho, cheers!
The Orange Rhino


I picked up the marker and approached sons 1 and 2. Lucky for them, I had showered already that morning and was awake, refreshed and relaxed.

“Boys, who drew on the door?” I calmly asked.
“He did!
“No he did!”
“No really he did, and he drew on my wall, my blinds, my bed, my desk and my toys too!”

(Photo courtesy:

I SLOWLY opened the bedroom door. Sigh. The last statement was more than true. The once white, green, and blue room was now white, green, blue and neon yellow. Awesome. Really? Really either a 4 year old or a 6 year old thought that it would be okay to decorate with a marker? I was flabbergasted. I slowly and calmly opened my breath, praying that I didn’t scream. Praying that patience found me.

“Boys. I don’t care who did it, what I care about is the truth. I just want to know the truth. I won’t be angry if you tell me the truth. I’ll be angry if you lie.”

And that was the truth. I didn’t want to scream at either one of them. I just wanted to know the truth so that I could have a meaningful conversation with the artist and reinforce that we don’t draw on walls, that we draw on paper.

There was silence. I looked back and forth between both boys. Eyes watched me.

“Boys, I’m not going to yell.  I promise, I am not going to yell. I just want to know the truth.” I reiterated.

A quiet voice spoke.

“I did it. I’m sorry. I just well, I just, I don’t know why I did it.”

“Okay. Listen. That was not acceptable. You know we don’t color on the walls. Lets clean this up together.”

“Okay” he mumbled as he started cleaning with me.

And that was that. I stopped and think. Sh*t. Was I too lax? Should I have been harsher? Did I get my message across? Did my son get the point?

You know what, I believe he did get the point. He got it when he lost 5 minutes out of playtime because he had to clean. He got it just by looking at my face. And he got it when I spoke to him calmly and clearly; he certainly wouldn’t have gotten it if I had yelled.  But do you know what really mattered to me more than, did my son get the point, and phew, I didn’t yell? The fact that my son felt safe enough to tell me the truth even though he knew I was beyond angry.

I am not sure I could have said that pre-Orange Rhino Challenge. When I used to yell, I mean really yell, I made my boys scared of me; I made them scared to tell me the truth. But now, 332 days later, my son wasn’t scared that I would yell so he freely fessed up to his artistic endeavor. In all my six years of parenting and pondering what kind of mom I hoped to be, this was the first time I realized just how much I always want my boys to feel safe enough to tell me the truth, no matter how ugly it may be.

If my son hits someone at school because he was bullied…I want him to tell me the truth so I can help him.

If my son “borrows” a candy bar from Target…I want him to tell me the truth so I can teach him.

If my son gets in trouble in high school doing gosh only knows what and is scared…I want him to tell me the truth so that I can comfort him.

There are so many things I want to be able to do for my boys, both in good times and in bad. But the truth is that I can only do those things if we have a trusting and loving relationship.  The truth is, as I witnessed this morning, my best chance to do those things is if I keep on not yelling.


Not 10 hours after this incident, two other boys wanted my attention. I was busy. So they took green and blue markers and colored on as many white walls as possible. I was LESS THAN thrilled. In fact, I was PISSED. I started to feel a yell rumble and I thought of this blog post. I thought about creating, and a maintaining, a trusting, safe relationship with my sons and my yell subsided. I hope this post does the same for you!

What kind of parent do you want to be? How does yelling hold you back from that?

A Mother Understands.

330 days of not yelling, 35 days of loving more to go!

Dear Staycation,

Oh I loved you so. I loved waking up and having nowhere to go, nowhere to drive. I loved waking up and having all my boys, all 5 of them, in my bed snuggling, being lazy. I loved having my 5 boys home all day to just hang out with. To play with. To laugh with. To smile at. To enjoy. And now you are done and I am sad and oh so cranky and impatient. But guess what? My kids are more so and we can’t all be that way. I guess I need to be the adult and be calm and empathetic until we all re-adjust. In the meanwhile, can you please make plans to come back soon?

The Orange Rhino


The extra hyper behavior, the extra tears over small things, and the extra amount of time dedicated to not listening, all made it very clear that my emotional carbon copy, son #1, was struggling with vacation coming to an end just as much as me. And all these “extras” certainly made our last day on vacation with him extra hard. It made both my husband and me extra impatient, my husband more so though.

You see, I was at least able to be extra empathetic because I knew what my son was feeling. I too wanted to run around crazy because I was so full of sadness that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I too wanted to cry over everything because I had had such a great staycation that I didn’t want it to end. I too didn’t want to listen to the “get-ready-to-go-back-to-real-life” voice in my head because I just wanted to stay in vacationland, the land of no constraints, the land of lots of family time.

But I couldn’t. I couldn’t ignore real life coming back and I couldn’t lose it with my son even though I kind of wanted to. So instead I listened to the other voice in my head, the one that kept saying over and over and over again “Do not YELL at your son. Yes, he is acting out and struggling BUT it isn’t because he is trying to be difficult or annoying it is because he is having a hard time. Love him. Listen to him. Be patient with him. Tell him you too are sad but how happy you are for the fun time we did have. Reassure him that it will be the weekend soon. Whatever you do DON’T YELL at him. He needs love right now, not anger. And besides, you will kick yourself in the a*s if you end vacation on a bad note.”

Oh I am glad I listened to that voice. Because it was right.

As we all headed up for bedtime, #1 starting running around crazy and ignoring each and every simple request asked of him. Please put your clothes in the laundry basket. No. Please get in the bath. No. Please brush your teeth. No. PLEASE LISTEN. NO NO NO! Oh dear #1 was doing everything to avoid going to bed, to avoid ending vacation. Can you blame him?

Well, my hubby did and started to lose his cool (can’t blame him either). I interrupted.

“Babe, don’t get angry with him. He is just having a hard time.” I said.

“No he’s not. He’s fine.”

I knew better. My days of The Orange Rhino Challenge, my days of paying attention to my kids, like really paying attention, told me the truth about this situation.

“He’s not. Trust me. Please.” I pleaded as I turned around to rally three other kids into a bath.

And at that point, as much as I wanted to cry, I laughed. You see, my mother-in-law always gives me gifts with thoughtful sayings about motherhood. And I always kind of laugh them off as “oh, just another Hallmark gift I’ll never use.” But this year, she gave me something that I just can’t laugh off:

Tonight, this saying rang loud and clear in my head. YES. It is so true. Today, tonight, I knew what my son was feeling without him saying it. But, that is only because of The Orange Rhino Challenge. This challenge has taught me to tune in to my kids’ feelings. To believe they are real. To believe that kids have real emotions too. To believe that sometimes kids have bad days too. The Orange Rhino Challenge has taught me to try and first understand what a child does not say before yelling unnecessarily.

After I tucked three kiddos in I went back to tuck #1 in. As I opened his door I saw a little head perk up from the pillow and the sweetest words fell from his lips:

“Mommy, I’m so sad.”

I rushed right over. He had NEVER so clearly explained his emotions. It both broke and filled my heart.

“What’s wrong sweetie?” I asked wiping tears away from his face.

“I don’t want December to end. I don’t want to go back to school. I don’t want daddy to work. I want to play with my new toys all day. I want to stay home with you. And I don’t want to miss the Superbowl.”

Oh the innocence. The truth. I snuggled into bed with him and cried right along with him. I told him mommy felt the same way. I told him I too was sad but how happy I was for our fun vacation. I told him much I loved him and that it would be the weekend again before he knew it. I told him we could play with his toys during all the months. And not to worry, the Superbowl wasn’t until February! I gave him one last hug and kiss and walked out.

And then I thought to myself as I wiped away a last tear,

“Phew. I’m so glad I didn’t yell tonight and instead had a chance to snuggle with my son and be there for him, with him. Oh, I feel so much better.”

This is just one moment WON from not yelling. Here is another one… 

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






Code Orange Rhino.

Ahhhhhh. That was a deep breath. Like a really, big, super-ginormous  ridiculously huge deep breath. What a 10 days.  First “seizure week” then “stomach bug week.” What a doozer. I feel absolutely wiped. But feel awake again after getting this novel, this pain, off my chest. Now, I can move on. Until Monday.


We entered the hospital last Thursday morning and all was going well.

Little man wasn’t thrilled to have 25+ wires attached to his head to measure for seizure activity, but he, we were managing. We had dance parties, read books, played with blocks and threw hospital food (can you blame him?) Friday morning came fast even after a rather crappy night of hospital sleep (he didn’t want to sleep, I couldn’t sleep) and I geared up for the harder day – a day of not eating so that little man could have an MRI at 3:30. An MRI to rule out brain tumor, brain damage, or a brain abnormality. While the previous tests were important, this was the test most important to me. This was the test that SCARED me. This was the test that I wanted done and over with. Not just because it meant sedating my sweet, young son, but because the unknown results were keeping me from feeling calm.

Party at my crib! 9:00, 2+ hours past bedtime!

Somehow the day turned out to be very easy. After a few attempts by little man to find food in my bag, he settled down and actually was rather quiet all day, even laying down on the floor numerous times to rest. I just assumed he was lethargic from no food and drink. I kept mentioning it to the nurses because I thought it was odd but no one thought it mattered. Let’s just say that mother’s instinct that he was OFF was RIGHT.

3:00 came and little man ever so gracefully let the nurse insert his IV. Not. One. Tear. That of course made me tear up like mad as I was so proud of him for being such a trooper. The wheelchair rolled in and I hopped in with little man in my lap (held perhaps more tightly than ever before), and we began our trek to the dreaded MRI. Even though blood tests and the EEG (test for seizure activity) were good to date and I should be relieved I still feared the MRI.

A rather unpleasant nurse greeted us and felt it necessary to keep trying to make little man smile. Instead, she just made him cry every time she talked and put her face in his, practicallytouching it. And she DIDN’T. GET. THE. HINT.

Just leave him alone, please!!  Let him be in peace.  Leave us in peace. We are nervous and tired, let us be.

The more pleasant anesthesiologist entered and peppered me with questions.

“When is the last time he ate?”

“9:00” I answered.

“What! He shouldn’t have eaten past 7!” barked the nurse.

“It’s okay. It will be okay.” replied the anesthesiologist politely.

He then proceeded to have me sign my name on a form stating that x,y,z, and vomit are risks of anesthesia. And then just as I got up to place little man on the stretcher for sedation he VOMITED all over me, all over himself, all over the nasty nurse.

“Oh my god. What a mess!“  the nurse, who works in a hospital, a place where people go when they are SICK, said in my direction.

“I just followed my doctor’s instructions. Please get me a towel.” I replied quietly, shocked by what she had said, sad for my little man, discouraged that the test would be delayed, that we would have to repeat the nerves, again.

The anesthesiologist returned and I looked at him and immediately the stress hit me. I burst into tears and mumbled “please, please just tell me that he didn’t throw up because of a brain tumor or something in his brain. Please. I beg you.”

“I can’t answer that. We’ll get answers soon though. Let’s clean you guys up.”

We then had the pleasure of the nasty nurse pushing us back upstairs, had the pleasure of listening to her continue to talk about how little man shouldn’t have eaten all morning. Really. Really??? Was she blaming me? Didn’t she know that babies sometimes get sick? That perhaps the stress of the situation got to him? Who did she think she was? She was luckily then interrupted by the booming voice on the intercom.


I had heard a lot of Code Reds and Code Blues the last 24 hours. Being in a hospital is as unnerving as it is, then hearing code colors called out left and right is just enough to put you over the edge. I nervously asked the nurse what a code white was. Get this.

“It’s code that a parent is losing control. That they are yelling, throwing things, hitting doctors. When you hear code white you just get out of the way immediately.”

I then had a nice conversation, with me, myself, and I.

“You mean, a parent is feeling what I am starting to feel inside because of you? Oh I feel for them. It’s a good thing you are pushing faster to get us out of the way as I might be the next Code White.”

We arrived at the Pediatrics floor and the nurse laid into my doctor about how this was everyone’s fault. After she left I tried desperately to find out if the test would be re-scheduled and for when? Could I finally feed my baby? Give him fluids?


It took an hour. An hour before I was given the green light to give him food as we were re-scheduled for 8:00 the next morning.  One sip of water, thrown up, 5 cheerios thrown up, I discovered the reason for the delay.

The nurse REFUSED to answer the phone to re-schedule him since it was “our fault.”

WAIT. It gets better.

As little man hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t keep anything down we hooked him up to IV fluids. My sweet boy fell asleep in my arms immediately; only to toss and turn and be up ALL night as every time he moved he set off the IV machine alarm.

We didn’t sleep a wink Friday night. Not. A. Wink. Which made me a really cheery site Saturday morning.

The wheelchair came again, and again the fear of putting my young baby under anesthesia gripped my body. I stayed as calm as I could, even sang a few lullabyes as we were rolled down the long, cold, start hallways to calm us both. Little man snuggled tight, gripping me. He knew what was up.

We were greeted by HER. The nurse who really, well, perhaps shouldn’t be a nurse.

A new young anesthesiologist came out and began questioning me, again. His conclusion?

“It is too risky to put him under anesthesia. Should he throw up while in the MRI there is no way to tell until a few minutes too late. The vomit might go in his lungs and he could choke and well, it wouldn’t be good. The other hospital has better equipment for sedating young kids.”

“Okay” I said. “I trust your judgment and certainly don’t want to take that risk. What a shame though. It means going home and then waiting weeks for an appointment and then having to experience this stress all over again and pricking my son with another needle. I get it. Just disappointed.”

No tears fell. But my heart fell. Way down deep and discouragement stepped up. When will I get answers I thought? What if he has another seizure? When will I stop worrying? My deep thoughts were interrupted by the nurse.

She wanted to be empathetic. I know she did. I could tell by the fact that she sat down next to me and started with “I know you are disappointed.” She should have stopped there. IMMEDIATELY. What she said next still haunts me. And will probably bring me to tears for years.

“You know, I was up at 5 am this morning booking this. I am as annoyed as you are.” (Yeah? I was up at 5 too. Because my BABY who is in the hospital couldn’t  sleep and PS that’s your job.)

“And well, I have been picking pieces of vomit out of my clothes and shoes and even in my lab jacket since yesterday.” (Yeah? This is a hospital. People throw up. You went home to a shower and clean clothes. I went to a sink and scrubs.)

And then the kicker. Which maybe to most people is fine, but to me, a mom, under major stress and fear and all sorts of emotions, it didn’t sit well at all.

“You know, they called to re-schedule yesterday but I was too angry to answer. I refused to for an hour. And now, well, now I just keep saying how lucky we were that he threw up when he did. You know 30 seconds later and he would have been sedated and he would have choked on his vomited and wouldn’t have been able to breathe and we wouldn’t have known and it would have been minutes if not longer before we knew and just WOW it would have been beyond awful. Your guy could have been so unsafe. We were 30 seconds from being in a really dangerous situation, a grave situation.”

Thank you nurse. Thank you for telling me, what I knew. I knew it was a miracle. I knew how lucky we were, how dangerous it could have been. But guess what? I didn’t need to relive it step by step. I don’t need to know that my son was 30 seconds away from well, something I can’t write. I am stressed enough and sick to my stomach with fear that he has something in his brain. Because even though 2 tests were fine, my mommy gut isn’t. So no, no I don’t want to hear about how close we were to what, potentially causing brain damage or harming him. So thank you, please, BE QUIET.  I thank exhaustion and shock and disappointment for keeping these thoughts IN my head.

“Well, yes, it was a miracle and I am glad it worked out” I said softly and started singing to little man who was falling asleep hoping that maybe, maybe she would leave me alone. She got the hint. Another miracle.

We arrived back at our floor and the nurses looked at me with shock, question, confusion.

“Denied.” I said. Denied an MRI. Denied respect. Denied support. Denied empathy. Denied. Denied. Denied. Granted FEAR. Lots of it. Tears rolled down my cheeks as we were rolled back into our room.

I settled little man into his crib (which by the way, looks more like a cage) and I lost it. I started texting a friend about my fury then stopped.

No. It wasn’t right. I wasn’t going to stay silent. She shouldn’t have told me all she did. She shouldn’t have complained about the vomit, or the job, the situation, her anger and she certainly crossed the line telling me not once, not twice, but three times that my son was so close to being harmed.

I went straight out to the hallway and asked the staff who I share a complaint with, immediately.

I told my story and the tears fell. And fell and fell. They fell from relief that he was safe. They fell from deep sadness that he might not have been. They fell from stress that I would be back. The fell from physical and emotional exhaustion. They fell from anger.


No code white, but code “Orange Rhino.” I didn’t raise my voice. I didn’t yell. I didn’t scream. I even went so far as to say that I know the nurse meant well but that perhaps communicating wasn’t her strength and that perhaps she didn’t need reprimand, just teaching. I didn’t lose it, I didn’t hit Code White. And I am so grateful. Because code ORANGE RHINO – handling anger with warmth, feels so much better and actually made people want to help me.

The nurses kept checking on me the rest of the day and bringing me tissues. They offered support and true empathy. They said thank you for staying calm. You see, using kind words when angry, it has a much better chance of helping you. Yelling, mean words, it does you no good. Sure it might get your point made, but does it inspire positive action? Does it inspire people to WANT to help you? No. Nice words though, or words delivered with respect, they at least stand a chance. Sure, they might not get you an immediate response, but over time, there is much greater upside.

I got a call today from the manager of the Children’s Hospital. Apparently my kind words had made quite an impact. The manager called to hear my story of what happened and ultimately apologized profusely saying that there is no way she would accept or tolerate one her staff treating her patients that way. I again said that I know that nurse meant well but that well, it SCARED ME. It scared the sh*t out of me to hear someone verbally talk about what bad could have been. And with all the stress, I just didn’t need it. I went on to say on top of it all, now I have to wait one month, ONE MONTH, to get an MRI. One month to know that my son is okay. Because he will be okay. That is the only answer.

“Oh that is frustrating. I am going to call right now and see if we can’t change that. You’ve been through enough. You don’t need to be waiting a month” she said sweetly. I liked her. She was sincere, empathetic, calm, and caring. She made me feel okay to be anger and scared. She made it safe.

I got a call at 2:43 today. Little Man’s MRI has been moved up to Monday.  Monday folks. This is GREAT news. It is 24 days earlier. It means no waiting until January 3rd. It means by the middle of next week I will have the answers I need to sleep a little better. It means we can move on sooner than later.

I TRULY owe this to my code Orange Rhino, to the Orange Rhino Challenge. If I had lost it and yelled, do you think the nurses would have been inclined to share my story? If I had lost it and been rude with the Manager, do you think she would have been moved to make the calls on my behalf? Maybe, maybe not. But I am going to say, YES.

Kind words matter. Nasty ones, they just do no good. They don’t get you anywhere. Well, they do. They get you nowhere, fast. So choose kind words. I can’t imagine you will ever regret it.  I know I don’t.

* I don’t hold anyone responsible for what happened except maybe the Stomach Bug. While this experience was frustrating and disheartening, all the other care I received was great and again, the nurse had good intentions just perhaps needs some teaching. You know. Kind of like my boys who I often get frustrated with 🙂 And while the situation isn’t what I would have chose, I am grateful for yet another opportunity to put The Orange Rhino Challenge benefits to the test. 

YLLM1* * * Discover all the ways taking The Orange Rhino Challenge has changed my life beyond how I handled this situation in my just released book, “Yell Less, Love More: How The Orange Rhino Mom Stopped Yelling at her Kids–and How You Can Too!” available at many bookstores and online stores like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Qbookshop, IndieBound, Indigo Canada, Bookish

Just Because.

253 days without yelling, 112 days of loving more to go!

Dear old self,

Oh how I’ve missed you. I liked you! You used to smile more. Have a pep in your step more. You used to believe in yourself more. You used to give more. I know life gets harder as you get older, that it gets more stressful, but please don’t let that squash you AGAIN. You were much more fun to be around and I am so grateful that you are slowly returning.

Your new (old) self,
The Orange Rhino

When I was in elementary school I begged my mom to take me to the Food Pantry JUST BECAUSE I loved filling the shelves with can goods for others.

When I was in junior high school a friend and I dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out little “stocking stuffer” goody bags when kids came through the doors JUST BECAUSE it would be nice.

When I was in high school I spent extra time with a mom who had lost her son in a car accident JUST BECAUSE I knew she needed someone to talk to. In fact, I did a lot of JUST BECAUSE actions in high school. I did a lot of caring and loving and giving of myself to others.

And this just because attitude carried into college to the point where I actually dreamed of starting a business called JUST BECAUSE. I dreamed that I would sell all of sorts of things people could run in and buy on a whim to give to someone just because. Just because they had a bad day. Just because they passed a test. Just because they needed to smile. Just because it would be fun. Just because it feels good to do randomly nice things for people, friends and strangers alike. I went even so far as to bake cookies once a week and package them up nicely in a box labeled JUST BECAUSE and give it to a friend I thought needed a smile.

When I started my first job I bought bagels every Friday to share with my team JUST BECAUSE it was Friday and everyone needed a pick me up (or a hangover cure). I even gave of my time acting as a live auctioneer to raise funds for American Cancer Society.

Yes, I used to give a lot of myself JUST BECAUSE I wanted to. Just because it made me happy to make others happy.

And then somehow, it happened.

I became jaded.

I stopped giving.

I stopped doing random acts of Just Because.

I would like to say I don’t know when it happened. But that’s a lie. The awful truth is it happened when I went from 2 to 3 kids, when my eldest son turned 3. When my life became infinitely harder, more stressful, more chaotic and more busy than I ever imagined.

When my life became surprisingly more lonely than I ever imagined.

When my life became that much more about my children, and less about me. When my life became about giving to my children JUST BECAUSE they were my chosen priority at that time in my life, rightfully so.

But the more ugly truth?

I think I lost my desire to give when I started to yell more frequently. Sad, but I think somewhat true. Because when I yelled I carried an angry, frustrated, chip on my shoulder all the time. It was so big that it consumed me and all my thoughts leaving little room for positive thinking and doing.

And then somehow, it happened.

I became un-jaded.

I started giving.

I started doing random acts of JUST BECAUSE again. Like this one (I Just Need a Friend) and this one (Pay it Forward.)

I would like to say I don’t know what happened but you all know the answer. I STOPPED YELLING. I let go of being angry every day. I let go of taking all my kids bad behavior as a personal attack on me. I let go of some (not all!) mama guilt and negative thinking that I am a bad mom. Do I still have days and moments when I feel angry, ahem, yes, hello 6:45 this morning!! But in general, I truly feel lighter, happier.

Sounds cheesy, but guess what? I have learned that this is true.

I feel like me. The old me. The one who feels more love in her heart and as such naturally wants to share more love with others. JUST BECAUSE it feels right.

Now I can say that I am not the mom I used to be, instead I am the person I used to be.

And I welcome my new (old) self back with welcome arms.

And I want to do something nice to celebrate.

JUST BECAUSE you all have helped me find my old self, JUST BECAUSE I want to share the love, JUST BECAUSE I believe every parent deserves to be patted on the back, to toot his/her rhino horn just for showing up and taking on the challenge of parenting, to be told they are doing a good job, to be given an unexpected smile in the middle of the day, I am going to give a special something to a parent when they least expect it.

Please help me find that person. By the end of day MONDAY, October 22, 2012, please email me at or comment below or on my Facebook page if you know someone deserving of a JUST BECAUSE moment and help me spread some love. I will carry out my JUST BECAUSE moment on Tuesday after randomly selecting someone by the draw of a hat.

This is not a sweepstakes or a give away. It is simply me, The Orange Rhino, doing something because I want to give back.

You said what?!

241 days without yelling, 124 days of LOVING MORE to go

Dear Friendly’s,

You should print on your menus that all customers should be Friendly in order to eat at your restaurant. And perhaps a reminder that it is a family friendly restaurant, ie. that kids will be there. Oh and perhaps a note that sometimes kids make…noise.

Just a thought,
The Orange Rhino


Fact: My #3 has a tendency to yell and scream when frustrated. It is a known problem. We are working on it.

Fact: My #3 has made a lot of progress over the last year and a half. A lot of progress.

Fact: My #3 has worked hard – at speech therapy and occupational therapy to overcome his struggles.

Fact: My #3 is a love. Oh and a PERSON with areas of improvement. Like all of US.

Fact: I do not accept screaming in public.

Fact: I don’t yell and I don’t hit. I don’t believe in either. But I do still believe in discipline. And I believe with practice I can do so without said yelling and without hitting.

Fact: I work hard to love my children, to help my children, and to accept them despite their challenges.

Fact: I love my #3 fiercely. We have been reproached several times when he has one of his fits. I used to take it personally. I used to be angry at him. I used to be embarrassed by him. I used to allow others who yelled and criticized me to make me feel smaller.

FACT: I AM DONE feeling ashamed of how hard I am working to help my child with his struggles. I am done making excuses for the challenges he faces. I am done taking it all personally. Because I know my son and I are working our as*es off to improve. I am working harder every time to stay calm and to help him (which is what he needs…he does NOT need to be hit or yelled at, he needs me to teach him and help him. He needs me to try and understand him, what he is trying to say and what he can’t say).  And my son is working hard as h*ll to find his words, to calm down, to act more “appropriately.” We as a team our trying really bl**dy hard and I am proud of us.

Today I proved to myself that I am changing, that we are changing and dam*it I feel proud. I am tooting my Rhino Horn loudly tonight.

While at Friendly’s tonight for #1’s birthday #3 screamed. I promptly picked him up and brought him to the door for a break. We returned. His shirt got wet. He screamed again. I frantically dried his shirt and worked hard to soothe him while my baby started fussing because he didn’t have a crayon? Gosh knows why he was fussing. I was trying HARD hard hard to soothe everyone, to gain control of my bunch of wonderful boys all excited to be celebrating a birthday. I was sweating BULLETS. Bullets because I knew eyes were watching me.

Would I succeed? Would I settle my brood? Oh the eyes for judging me for sure. So I sweat even more.

Then #3 let out one more scream because his napkin wrinkled the wrong way.

And that is when sh*t hit the fan.

Turns out one of those judging sets of eyes had a voice too. The older voice spoke:

“Why don’t you bring him over here, I’ll hit him for you and then take care of him. I’ll make him shut up.”

(I’m sorry. What? What did you dare just utter to me??? Did you just volunteer to hit my kid? What makes you think I wanted to do that in the first place?! I was absolutely AMAZED at her ridiculousness.)

Without blinking an eye, without sweating even more, without JUMPING across the table over to her’s and throttling her, I ever so sweetly and politely replied:

“Oh, please don’t talk to my son that way. It isn’t nice and it isn’t funny. He is a child. Both he and I are trying our hardest.”

Then I took a drink of water, resisted all urge to throw it in her face, and turned back to my son wicked proud of myself for standing up for my son, for us.

“I love you #3. I know you are upset. It’s okay. Do you need a hug?”

“Yes mommy. I love you.”

This time sweat didn’t drip down my face. Tears did. Lots of them. And for a change they weren’t tears of defeat, tears of embarrassment, tears of fear, tears of frustration. They were tears of sheer joy.



The first time in 3 years my son has ever been able to speak those words without prompt.

I LOVE YOU. I’ll say it again and again and again.

I can only imagine if I had lost it with him, or her. Pretty sure I wouldn’t have heard those words. Tonight or for gosh knows how long. And let me tell you. It was outright AMAZING.


I know I have said it before. I know it is probably annoying and boring and all that jazz to be said again BUT…. I continue to be blown away by how this Orange Rhino Challenge, how learning to not yell, is benefiting my family and I in more ways than one. A year and half ago (read here)I never would have stood up for myself so eloquently. NEVER. But I have learned I CAN control myself and in doing so, I am way more powerful. How do I know?

The lady of the night? Well she didn’t make another peep the entire meal. Oh, and for the record, neither did my son. He rocked the rest of the meal which for a 3 year old with some challenges is pretty fantastic. 

P.S. If you are thinking of commenting, please remember this is a supporting, loving community. I am not intending to engage in the debate of is hitting kids right or wrong. Instead, I want to focus on how The Orange Rhino Challenge has many a benefits. That and that my son FINALLY said I LOVE YOU!!!