Credit Where Credit is Due

My mother likes to take credit…for pretty much everything.

I’m not kidding. Whether you scored a great deal on a pair of shoes, or won the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s somehow linked to her.

And she’s serious.

100%.

Not only does she like credit, but she will change the details of stories around to make it so that she is fully responsible for whatever awesomeness you have just achieved. She will also do the reverse and claim she had nothing to do with it if your luck goes south.

Need some examples?

  1. My wedding. The second one to be clear. Because she casually mentioned that we should consider Bourbon Steak in the Turnberry resort in the infancy stages of wedding planning, she loves to point it out every chance she gets that we DID in fact get married there and that the wedding was perfect. Every. Chance. She. Gets. It could be as subtle as someone commenting on a wedding pic and her saying, “Yes the kids got married there. It was my idea.” Or more bravado, like pointing it out while we are on her balcony, you might hear her say something along the lines of, “Ava, see that building over there? That’s where mommy and Jason got married! Isn’t it beautiful? It was all gram’s idea. They wanted to get married in some ugly room at a restaurant in Boca that doesn’t even compare to anything in Aventura. Because Aventura is awesome.”
  2. My house. To be fair, my parents were very involved in the house hunting. It was the first time I was ever purchasing a home and I value their opinion. Plus, Bob is a pro with a contractor background so I needed him to point out any red flags before we pulled the trigger. However, my mom seems to remember it very differently and claims to have actually found the house we currently live in (not the case). And when I point out how that’s not at all what went down, she changes her story a little saying things like…”you were looking at dumps on the other side of town until I convinced you to look in this area.”
  3. My stroller. I have like 32 strollers so I didn’t want another one. My mom was trying to convince me (read: nag me) to get a snap & go while Sienna is still in an infant car seat. I did and it’s definitely a huge help. But, every time I take the thing out of the trunk and my mom is around, she circles it like a shark wearing a shit-eating grin and says, “That’s a nice looking stroller.  I mean really. Who told you to get it?”
  4. Diagnosing any medical condition. Jason calls her Dr. Westfall because she thinks she can diagnose any ailment in anyone. Just tell her your symptoms and she will spit out a disease just like WebMD. If she happens to be right you’ll never hear the end of it and if she’s wrong, she’ll find a way to spin it. Either way, she’s right.
  5. Stellar negotiation skills. She goes on and on about what a good negotiatior she is. Specifically with car leases. Because she has a CRAZY low monthly payment for a luxury car…..because she probably put like $15K down. But that’s neither here nor there. She also uses said negotiation skills at Target where she pretends she’s at a folding table on any corner of NYC haggling over a fake Prada. She gives zero fucks. And 99% of the time they listen to her!

That’s just a small sampling of her credit-mongering, but make so mistake that it’s pretty much part of daily conversation and there is no statute of limitations. She’s still talking about things dating back to when I was 14. And it happens with little things too, like telling me how amazing my hair looks and then swiftly reminding me that she’s the one who always tells me to keep it long. Or complimenting a pair of shoes and reminding me that she was the one who told me to look in Bloomingdale’s to find them. Or commenting on how much better Sienna’s fussiness is ever since I bought new bottles like she told me to. It goes on and on and on.

As much as I tease her and bust her balls, I do have to give credit where credit is due. You see, Arlyne is not just a main character in my blogs. She’s not just accidentally hilarious and totally gangster. She is, undoubtedly, the best fucking mother on the planet. She also happens to be the best mother-in-law and grandmother. And, I fully giver her credit for the following, which is by no means an exhaustive list.

I think one of the most important lessons she’s bestowed on me is to not take shit from anyone and not to let anyone bully you or knock you down. Along this same lines, she is the epitome of a mama bear. She taught me to fiercely protect my young and to destroy anyone who tries to mess with them. This woman will hold a grudge against you for the rest of your life if you even look at either of her children sideways.

She’s also the best cheerleader. She celebrates my successes and kvells, no matter how small. She loves me so hard and I feel it in every fiber of my body. I want my girls to feel that same way about me. She has always gone above and beyond for her kids and spoils the shit out of mine. Ava lives for her and to see the bond they have makes me burst with pride. I know Sienna will feel the same. She’s the fun grandma. The one who teaches you how to make prank phone calls and will use the word “fart” in a game of hangman.

She taught me all the “mensch” things like never showing up to someone’s home for an event/dinner/whatever, without something for them. To always write thank you notes when someone gives a gift. She’s not a regular mom, she’s a cool mom. She’d never be caught dead in a sweater set from Chicco’s or Ann Taylor and rocks a black beater and skinny jeans pretty much every day. She’s probably the reason I don black nail polish and skull & cross bone tanks in the carpool line.

She’s hilarious and doesn’t even understand why we are laughing half the time. The things that come out of her mouth are sometimes hard to mentally prepare for, but also the best. Watching her go through an ugly divorce and surviving breast cancer showed me by example what a fighter looks like. She’ll hug me and let me cry if I’m at a low but in the same breath tell me to get my ass up and remember who I am – the little girl who pushed her way to the front of the group in a dance recital when I was like 4, because I wanted to be front and center.

One of the things I admire most about her is the fact that nobody keeps it realer than her. She tells it like it is and owns who SHE is, no matter what. You can’t rattle her and if she feels under attack she will defend herself, strike back and take you down.

There is nobody on the planet like her and I’m so glad she’s ours. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. We love the shit out of you!

 

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me and mom

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Mother of all Mothers

If you are a regular reader, you know that my mom has a leading role on the blog. She’s like the main character. Whether it’s screenshots of text messages with her, or her ridiculous Facebook posts, or a recap of a typical outing with her, there is NO shortage of material. Most of the time, she doesn’t even think she’s being funny and that’s what makes it hilarious.

You might remember my post about her around Mother’s Day a couple of years ago.

This woman is my rock. We differ in many ways but have striking similarities too. And as I get older, I feel myself turning more into her with each passing day. All of my friends love her and she pretty much puts herself in charge wherever she goes and everybody listens. There might be some eye rolling, but they listen. Mostly because it’s easier. They know she’s not going to give in.

Growing up (and now) she was always super hands-on. She was the quintessential SAHM, but didn’t cook or clean. She ordered in, had a housekeeper, and basically spent all of her energy on us. Schlepping my brother to play basketball in the hood instead of in the confines of a homogeneous all white/jewish boys team. She would saunter in with her long acrylic nails entering 5 minutes before her and give dirty glares to other parents who would yell stuff about my brother. Schlepping me to dance classes and spending ridiculous amounts of money on recital costumes and dance gear. And then years later to cheerleading practice.

She was the mom who would stop at two places for breakfast or lunch because my brother and I wanted different things. If we forgot something at school, she would show up with it…along with a bag from Burger King or McDonalds, which was way better than whatever we brought (we started to “forget” stuff a lot).

She was the mom who would scour stores while we were at school to find the exact shirt or pair of jeans we were pining over.

Our beds were made before the bathroom door closed in the morning.

She served grilled cheese sandwiches (my bad, I guess she did cook) in little baskets with decorative doilies.

If we were sick, there was a tray set up on front of our bed faster than you could blink with tea, toast cut into perfect bite-sized pieces and the remote.

When I lived in Boston, she would bring up a bunch of frozen orders of Chicken and Cheese from Here Comes the Sun, to hold me over until the next time I was down in FL.

And she taught my brother and I the most important life lesson. To ALWAYS have each other’s backs because there is nothing more important than family. And she has always had ours. She still holds grudges to people who wronged either of us, dating back to kindergarten.

As if she wasn’t the most incredible mother, she is also the best and most coolest grandmother on the planet. She does all of the above for my child and more…including teaching her about the lost art of prank phone calls. I’m not joking. She will call (my family only) and pretend to be a Chinese restaurant or pizza delivery. Her and my daughter take turns and she thinks it’s the greatest. She giggles so hard she can barely get the words out and thinks my mother is a creative genius. She also buys her things I would never buy – like fart guns and giant pallets of eye shadow.

This woman would cut her arms off for her children…no really she says that all the time. Like if we ask her to do something she looks at us with that look and then pretends to saw her own arm off with her other hand – insinuating “duh! I would do anything for you”.

If you are on her good side you are golden, and if you’re not, you are effed.

She’s a natural-born fighter who couldn’t even be knocked out with normal doses of anesthesia when she had breast cancer 4 years ago and needed a lumpectomy. The doctor literally came out and said “The amount of drugs I had to give her was ridiculous…she wouldn’t shut up.”

And she taught us to be fighters. Whether it was me pushing my way to the front of the stage at 4 years old because I was behind too many dancers (yup…that happened), or battling bullies and other bullshit in my adult life.

She can’t pronounce any celebrity names correctly, but she can spit lyrics from Tupac and Biggie.

She is simply the best and we are all madly in love with her. Mom, you are the best there is, the OG, my best friend and my ride or die chick. I love you more.

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Happy (early) Mother’s Day

xx

Rachel

 

Give It Up For Girlpower – NEW from Lifestyle Magazine

May is all about girlpower. I mean really every day is. But in May we celebrate Mother’s Day, which I love to celebrate as a mother AND a daughter to the mother of all mothers.

One of the biggest lessons my mom taught me growing up was to be strong and not take shit from anyone. I had many moments in my life where I did NOT take that advice – personally and professionally – and it only reinforced how truly important it is to develop and maintain a strong sense of self and not let people knock you down. Because they will try.

Now, with a daughter of my own, I realize that it’s on me to help her become a strong woman one day. It’s so important, especially with the abundance of mean girls and bullies out there. I want her to always be confident and stand by what she says and does. And that’s what my May article for Lifestyle Magazine is all about.

So, let’s raise awesome little girls who turn into even more awesome, strong, confident badass women. Who’s with me?

xx

Rachel

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Chalk it Up to Chalking it Up

I’ve never really met a stage I didn’t like.

(I mean, my friend and I recently murdered Ginuwine’s Pony at her 40th bday bash. Even though it’s sideways, it’s still a gem.)

I had ballet and tap shoes on my feet about 30 seconds after I took my first steps.

I’ve danced in front of big audiences. Cheered in front of big crowds.

I even missed a few days of my senior year of high school for an 18-episode stint on MTVs, The Grind (yes, that one and yes, Eric Nies was even hotter in person)

So suffice it to say, I am not shy. But for some reason, I HATE having my picture taken. I always feel weird “posing” for the camera. My lip starts twitching from fake smiling and I have one eye that sometimes goes rogue in photos – I call it my doll eye.

doll eye

It just never feels natural. I mean come on…when are you ever casually walking down a beach with a well-behaved child giggling and skipping together while your makeup is flawless and the wind is blowing your hair into beautiful tousled beach waves.

Spoiler alert – never. Because what really happens is that you go to the beach, your child only wants to make a sandcastle while you try to sit in a way that your post-baby body rolls don’t come pop out somewhere, your expensive blowout from the night before is destroyed and some asshole preteen throws and football to his friend who kicks sand in your kid’s eye and the hysterics start which ruins the day. Am I right?

“Natural” is hard in a photography setting. So when I was talking to photographer, Courtney Ortiz about her new Chalkboard Sessions…I was intrigued.

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She covered the back wall of her Hollywood studio in chalkboard paint with the purpose of having kids come in with moms, dads, sibs, whatever, and just draw. No rules, no formality. Just pick up chalk and go with it.

My daughter loves to draw. She’s constantly doodling or engaging in some sort of art project leaving shreds of paper all over my house like she’s leading me on some cleaning treasure hunt. So I knew it could be right up our alley. When I told her what we were going to do she said, “So I can draw anything?”

“Yup! Anything?”

“No rules?”

“Nope! Whatever you feel like doing, babe”

“Can I draw someone throwing up?”

So, Courtney – maybe there should be some guidelines 😉

We get to the studio. The chalkboard wall is exactly as described and we were pumped. We strategized about what to draw, chose colors, discussed what it should look like, and just started creating. We did not sit in front of the camera and pose for an hour. We didn’t have to tilt our chin at an awkward angle or laugh at something fake funny.

We literally just drew. Every once in a while, Courtney would say, “Hey guys, turn around for a minute…or sit there…or look at me”. Other than that, she just followed our lead. Let us set the tone. She was snapping away from different angles.

And something amazing happened. When I got the pictures back I was immediately struck by the fact that every single smile and laugh was a real one. Not a contrived one. They were authentic, in the moment smiles because we were enjoying THIS moment Courtney facilitated.We weren’t there to”take pictures”. We were there for Courtney to take pictures while WE created our artwork and just spent time together.

That’s when I realized that this woman is a creative genius.

She has created a format where you are so distracted by doing something natural with your kids, that the pictures come out exuding true, organic laughter and levity. It makes so much sense! We were so into what we were making in the moment that we weren’t even paying attention to the camera. We were too busy drawing a princess castle, and deciding where to put the flowers, and what color her hair should be.

Totally in our element while Courtney was simultaneously in hers.That’s a magical equation right there!

Courtney went beyond taking our picture. She captured very REAL and loving moments between us. She captured the silliness and the fun. That’s what makes these so special. And for the record,  there are some AH-MAZING pics of us actually looking at the camera that I will no doubt print and hang on my walls (confession: my house is a shrine to my child), but the ones I loved most were the candid, action ones and I’m sharing a small sampling below that give me the feels.

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And I loved it so much that I’m geeking out over what Courtney is allowing me to do.

Ready? I am giving away (like for FREE, you guys) a Chalkboard Session with Courtney Ortiz at her Downtown Hollywood studio. You will get a studio session with an 8×10 signed original print – that’s a $225 dollar value. FOR FREE.

Here’s what you need to do if you want it. It’s only two steps!

  1. Like the Whine & Cheez(its) page on Facebook (if you don’t already)
  2. Comment on my post for this blog letting me know you’ve liked the page AND tell me what you love most about your mother (or special woman in your life).

Want Extra Entries?!?

Follow Whine & Cheez(its) on Instagram  (using whineandcheezits) and do the same exact thing on the post I have up there about my session…and don’t forget to tag @CourtneyStudios!

Winner will be selected at random on Monday May 2nd!

And if you’d like to have your own “moment”, you can  book your Chalkboard Session with Courtney today! You will not regret it. I mean if you want to do Mother’s Day like a boss…I’m telling you that she will LOVE a session with Courtney.

xx

Rachel

 

 

I Hit the Motherload

I really did.  My mother is the shit.  She’s a Jersey-born, Long Island-raised, totally gangster package.  I always knew she was “different” from my friends’ moms.  You know when you’re growing up and there’s that house where everyone gravitates, even when (especially when) the parents are home? That was my house. My house was always super chill and very liberal. My parents did not listen to oldies or classic rock. They listened to Bob Marley (peppered with some Doo Wop on occasion).  A portion of the Marley family (including Bob’s mother), were actually guests at my brother’s bar mitzvah, and my family walked (danced) into the reception to “Jammin”.

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My mom is a complete creature of habit.  Don’t believe me?

  • She travels within a 5 mile radius of Aventura, where she lives – and it’s shocking really that Target does not have a reserved parking spot for her.
  • My parents have a short list of restaurants they rotate between during the week including – Piola, Barrio Latina, Christine Lee’s and Mateo’s.
  • My mother has been wearing the exact shade and brand (wet and wild?) lipstick and liner (both excruciatingly pink) since I have known her.  She’ll drop coin on a new LV but refuses to buy non-drug store makeup.
  • She has a “uniform” which consists of a black beater, skinny jeans (or a variation of denim bottoms) and some sort of bedazzled flip-flop.
  • Her nails are manicured black 99%of the time (so are mine BTDubs). On the one percent chance she does another color, she has mani-remorse and is back to her regular manicurist (Lisa) to change it within days.

Do you see a pattern?

Before pink lipstick she wore 2-3 sets of false eyelashes...to school.

Before pink lipstick she wore 2-3 sets of false eyelashes…to school.

The uniform

The uniform and pink lipstick

 

She is also the world’s biggest germaphobe.  She grew my brother and I in her uterus and birthed us both but will not share a straw or fork or any other eating utensil with us.  All it takes is for some old broad to expel a really phlegmy cough in a restaurant within earshot, and she can no longer finish her meal. She puts her plastic fork down and throws in the towel. The woman will ONLY use plastic silverware. She actually has a ziploc bag full of it in her purse at all times. It doesn’t matter if she’s at a local pizza joint or Morton’s – she whips it out.  The best thing to ever happen to my mother’s plastic utensil neurosis was the introduction of the plastic silverware that is actual SILVER. To the naked eye of a waiter or fellow diner, it looks like the real deal. And as always, with my luck, every so often when she offers me some of her supply (in fact, she offers it to everyone she’s eating with. I’m surprised she doesn’t have a kiosk set up in the middle of the restaurant), just as I roll my eyes in disdain, I lift my restaurant-owned fork to my mouth to find a big hunk of someone’s left over meal mocking me on one of the tines.  And my mother just looks at me and smiles,like only she can, and doesn’t have to say a word. It’s a short unspoken conversation that starts with her saying, “see?” and ends with me saying,  “son of a bitch!”

Wearing animal print before it was a thing.

Wearing animal print before it was a thing.

Her shorts are shorter than mine.

Her shorts are shorter than mine and don’t forget the pink lipstick

She is also my biggest fan.  Regardless of what I do, she shares, brags and kvells with everyone she knows.  To her, I am the smartest, most beautiful, best cook, best mother, all around most incredible person on the planet.  Just today, she told me how proud she was of me because of a work blog I wrote that she actually understood.  Let me be more specific. Her exact words were, “I was like, how did those words come out of someone who can move their ass like that?” Direct quote – FYI she also thinks I am the best dancer on the earth and to this day often says the phrase to me, “Rach, shake what your mama gave ya.”

She feels the same way about my brother. This was a text I got from her just the other day.

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And then I got one from my brother almost simultaneously.

brother text

 

A little over a year ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it shook us to our core.  Thank god, with surgery and some treatment, she is just fine and still nagging the shit out of all of us. As a matter of fact, during her surgery, the doctor came out and said, “The amount of drugs it took to knock her out was ridiculous, she would not shut up!”  That statement, as mundane as it sounds, sums up my mother to a T.  She is a fighter, a total ball-buster, stubborn as hell, and the strongest, most amazing woman I know.

Just like every mother/daughter relationship, we can certainly push each other’s buttons, but never is there any question that we have each other’s backs 100%.  And on this upcoming Mother’s Day (and every other day on the calendar), I could never ask for a better woman in my corner.  I hope Ava and I have the bond you and I have when she grows up.  And one more thing Ma, Shake what your daughter gave ya!