Nice day to start again, nice day for a white wedding

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My friend, Lisa, got married last night and I’m still smiling about it. She’s been divorced for nearly 10 years and it took her a while to find the right guy, but if you listened to the speeches and saw the love and light in their eyes, you’d know Mitch was worth the wait.

I felt badly for the happy couple as the rain poured down on our drive to Bouman Stickney Farms in rural Lebanon, New Jersey. But the deluge couldn’t put a damper on the celebration.

Country wedding in a barn on carpoolcandy.com

In fact, the steady raindrops made the affair seem even more intimate as the 100 or so guests clinked glasses under a tent and in a beautifully decorated barn, under twinkling lights.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

The ceremony included their families and friends reading passages under a white linen chuppah sewn by Lisa’s great-grandmother. They read vows they had written to each other and giggled as the wind blew the barn door open behind them, with a beautiful backdrop of grass and trees.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

A second wedding is an opportunity to say what’s really important in your vows and to your family and friends, because you’ve had enough life experience to know the significance of your words.

Country wedding in a barn on carpoolcandy.com

You actually know what it feels like to take care of a partner in sickness and in health, you’re intimately familiar with the challenges of weathering hard times, and you appreciate the joy of friendship and laughing easily.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

Mother of the bride (right) taking it all in.

Getting married as a more mature couple also means you can plan the party exactly the way you want it– without any input from parents or in-laws– to reflect your taste.

And Lisa has amazing taste.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

The beaming bride

I knew it would be special, with Lisa’s shabby chic, ethereal feel.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

She loves bringing nature into her home (rocks, seashells, driftwood) so the setting was a perfect combination of raw nature and elegance and one of the most gorgeous parties I’ve ever attended.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

From the white roses and pink peonies under the chuppah and in the bouquets, to the wildflowers in Mason jars and metal buckets on the tables….

From the Oriental rugs on grass, and distressed furniture for seating and food display…

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

Lisa loves inspirational quotes and this one was perfect for the rainy night

….to the amazing details like ribbon streamers to wave at the ceremony, matchbooks saying “A Match Made in Heaven” and linen pillows with the couple’s initials on settees around the tent.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

They asked all the guests to wear white which somehow added sophistication to the farm setting– very Out of Africa…..

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

The food was healthy and delicious and served on mismatched Grandma’s china plates. My watermelon vodka drink came in a beveled goblet with a  colored paper straw.

A three-piece country band and a DJ played all night and the barn turned into a dance floor after dinner.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

I loved every detail, but more importantly the night was filled with love between and for the new couple.

There were lovely speeches and toasts….

Country wedding in a barn on carpoolcandy.com

Lisa looked overwhelmed as her kids made a speech.

and the bride and groom were beaming and dancing all night.

Country wedding on carpoolcandy.com

Congrats to Lisa and Mitch!

Country wedding in a barn on carpoolcandy.com

You’ve inspired Wilson and me to renew our vows someday. Keep the barn door open!

Barry Manilow still has the pipes

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

Last week I took a trip back to my childhood, listening to Barry Manilow croon his classics live in concert, and you know what? He sounded great.

I have a friend who’s a big time Fanilow and got tickets to see Barry at the Prudential Center in Newark on his “One Last Time” tour. She was kind enough to offer me a ticket, knowing I would soak up the nostalgia and kitsch more than most.

It was quite a night.

The average age of the sold-out crowd was definitely north of 50, mostly giddy, coiffed ladies — many wearing nightclub attire and high wedged shoes– clutching plastic cups of Chardonnay in one hand and taking selfies with the other.

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

Barry hands out glow sticks when you walk in to wave during old favorites.

My friend doesn’t mess around, so we sat in the 15th row at center stage– maybe the closest I’ve ever been to a concert performer. But being close gave me an unfiltered view of Barry’s face, which was a bit shocking.

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

He’s clearly had a lot of work done…like a combination of Joan Rivers puff, and Liberace’s pull.

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

This before and after says it all….

His hair is kind of early 90’s spiky on top and long in back….and can’t all be his own. But the guy is in amazing shape, still tall and lean and can wear a suit.

And did I mention he still sounds amazing? He opened with It’s a Miracle and soon went into Somewhere in the Night and Can’t Smile Without You. His voice is strong and he sings with the same heart and feeling he always had on oldies like Even Now and Mandy.  You probably forgot how many hit songs he had — too many to name. (For full song list, click here.)

I was surprised at how many words I still knew after all these years. My parents were huge Barry fans when I was growing up and we had all his albums (remember albums?!)  I remember my dad listening to him on his giant headphones as he putzed around the house, singing his lyrics loudly, off-key, but with conviction! Barry songs were always easy to belt out.

What cracked me up — and made me cringe a little, frankly– were all the women shrieking at him like he was Justin Bieber. During Weekend in New England, he sang “when will our eyes meet, when can I touch you,?” and those ladies went nuts.

“WE LOVE YOU BARRY!!!!” they shouted. He stopped in the middle of the song, and said with a smile “Even at 71, I still got it!”

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

This lady got pulled up on stage and was hanging on for dear life as the crowd squealed with envy.

Yikes.
I prefer to think of him as an aging icon, and not any kind of sex symbol. But I was clearly in the minority, so — at the risk of being attacked by thousands of horny Fanilows–  I stifled my giggles and kept singing.

Manilow is a consummate performer. Still polished, charming, and grateful to his fans. Although this concert was more Vegas than rock and roll, hearing those old songs in a crowd that knew every word gave me the same nostalgic feeling I had when I saw Billy Joel last year.

Barry Manilow concert on carpoolcandy.com

The encore was Copacabana, complete with strobe lights, falling streamers and a giant disco ball.

I’m always skeptical when artists say they’re performing “One Last Time“… and when you sound that good and you can still get tens of thousands of people to show up and scream your name, why would you ever stop?

NJ Grounds for Sculpture is worth the trip

We recently had a rare day with no sports obligations so we took advantage by exploring the Grounds for Sculpture park in Hamilton, New Jersey. I had never visited before but heard great things, and it definitely lived up to the hype and turned out to be a really fun day for everyone from picky, eye-rolling kids, to high-brow grandparents.

Grounds for Sculpture NJ on carpoolcandy.com

As you may know, I usually persuade my culture-averse boys to do something new by offering a tasty meal as part of the deal. The park has two restaurants– one is an upscale cafeteria that has some healthy options, the other looked like a fancy restaurant– despite its name: Rat’s, (really?)–  set on a small lake. We didn’t eat there because it’s crowded on the weekends and pricey with kids, but it looked very pretty and I liked many options on the gourmet French menu.

There’s not much around Hamilton, but I found a famous breakfast place in Princeton that fit the bill. PJ’s Pancake House is in the heart of Princeton on Nassau Street, about 15 minutes from the Grounds for Sculpture.

PJ's Pancake House Princeton NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Chocolate chip banana pancakes met Jake’s high standards of food excellence

We ordered eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast and every plate was delicious. The mound of bacon and sausage links were also popular with the kids.

PJ's Pancake House Princeton NJ on carpoolcandy.com

It has old-school diner atmosphere, the service is quick, and the prices are very reasonable for such yummy food.

PJ's Pancake House Princeton NJ on carpoolcandy.com

It’s the kind of place where the berries are fresh and the syrup was probably tapped in Vermont the day before.

So with bellies stuffed, we had the energy to walk the  42-acre park. It’s the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds so there’s lots of room to run and most of the sculptures are touchable, if not climbable. Many were larger recreations of art by the masters, like this version of Manet’s “Olympia.”

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

The outdoor museum features contemporary sculptures of many sizes, but the ones that get the most attention are enormous….

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

and iconic……

Grounds for Sculpture NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Mom and I trying not to look up!

making art accessible and engaging…. even to those who assume it will be boring.

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

We spent about an hour and a half wandering through the park, which is full of surprises.

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In addition to the sculptures, there are beautiful gardens and a lake, and plenty of shady places to stop and rest.

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Wisteria walkway

It was a successful outing all around. It’s a perfect destination for family days when you have many age groups to please.

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

I like it because my kids are getting some culture without even realizing it…

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

…and they like it because they have the freedom to run free and use their loudest outside voices.

Grounds for Sculpture park Hamilton, NJ on carpoolcandy.com

What are some of your favorite family day activities? Tell me in the comments. Summer vacation is just days away and I need ideas!

Carpool Candy Father’s Day gift guide 2015

Father’s Day is looming kids, but don’t fret… I’ve got some great ideas you can buy right from that warm seat in front of your computer.  Click on the links in the gift guide below and then thank me by signing up to get my blog in the right corner of your screen. Happy shopping!

Gold Standard book cover on carpoolcandy.com

Books are a great gift because a real book is expensive these days and many won’t shell out the bucks for themselves, plus they show you get your guy if you pick the right ones. If he’s into pop culture, how about The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By, by none other than Entourage super agent Ari Gold. Tongue-in-cheek advice from the self-professed King of Hollywood. Or try The Bro Code or one of its spinoff titles like, The Bro Code for Parents: What to Expect When You’re Awesome, by How I Met Your Mother‘s Barney Stinson, which will surely make any dad laugh and may teach him a thing or two.

Jeter Unfiltered cover on carpoolcandy.com

If your guy is more into sports, these recent book titles got top marks on both sports and literary lists: The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown… You Can’t Make This Up,  by Al Michaels…or for Yankee and autobiography fans, Jeter Unfiltered

polaroid camera on carpoolcandy.comRetro Polaroid instant camera— Remember this guy? This old school camera in bright, fun colors produces instant color photos the size of a business card. Great for camera buffs and fans of instant gratification. ($99)

Vineyard Vines NFL ties on carpoolcandy.com

Festive ties— I know, I know, ties are traditionally as exciting as a Mitch McConnell press conference, but Vineyard Vines has taken tie style to new levels with crazy cravats featuring everything from his favorite dog, to sports team, cocktail, and college. Click on the photos to see designs close-up. ($85)

small-whiskey-rocks on carpoolcandy.com

Whiskey stones— Reusable soapstone cubes keep liquor perfectly chilled without diluting the flavor. Also can be heated to keep drinks warm. Hot toddy anyone? ($20)

golf ball stamp on carpoolcandy.com

Golf ball stamp— This handy gadget allows your pro to label his golf balls to keep track of the ones that got away. ($30)

silicone keyboard protector on carpoolcandy.com

Keyboard protector-– Much cooler and more efficient than a pocket protector, this light silicone cover keeps your keyboard pristine and hugs the keys perfectly so you won’t miss a letter. ($24)

everlane mens weekender bag on carpoolcandy.com

Weekender bag — For a romantic getaway, quick business trip, or weekend with the boys, does he have a nice bag to pack? I know Wilson could use a grown up bag that doesn’t look like a worn out knapsack. This cotton twill and leather one is a good size and looks smart. ($95)

mario bedescu mens grooming kit on carpoolcandy.comMen’s Grooming Kit— For the man who likes to pamper himself, or perhaps needs to up his hygiene game a bit. These products aren’t frufru– they contain natural ingredients and vitamins, and don’t smell girly, just clean. Cleansing gel, pre-shave conditioner, shaving cream, face scrub and shaving lotion included. ($63)

salami of the month olympic provisions on carpoolcandy.com

Taste of the month-– For food connoisseurs, Oregon’s Olympic Provisions crafts 12 different salamis from northwest pork using “old-world technique,” whatever that is. ($145) If cured meat isn’t his craving, how about testing his manhood with a hot sauce of the month, with names like Arrogant Bastard Ale Jalapeño Hot Sauce, to measure his mettle. ($40 for gift pack, $118 for 12 months.)

gameofthrones_tshirt on carpoolcandy.com
Pop culture t-shirts-– If your guy is into TV and movies, there are tons of sites offering different styles from show logos to famous movie or TV lines, to more subtle ones like this family crest from Game of Thrones. ($19)

breaking bad tshirt on carpoolcandy.com

If you don’t find what you need on this site, go to the shop section of network sites or Amazon’s t-shirts where I found this subtle but cool shirt from Walter White’s drug lord’s restaurant from Breaking Bad. ($17)

driftwood recharger on carpoolcandy.com

Driftwood charging dock-– I love how this idea is simple and ridiculous all at once. Artisans in Maine find actual driftwood made soft and shiny by nature, and craft it to fit the contours of your cord and smart phone. Modern technology snuggled into a timeless gift from the good earth, like a piece of functional art. ($72)

iphone case candy gift guide

Custom smartphone/tablet case – Wilson loves his University of Michigan case, but you can pick from many schools, classic colors, or a custom design with a photo or monogram. If you can’t decide, how about a gift card? ($15 and up)

Williams Sonoma steak brand and carving board on carpoolcandy.com

Steak brand and carving board— If your guy takes pride in his grilling skills (I know mine does) he’ll love this customized branding tool to put his mark on every steak he serves. Personalized carving board seals the deal. ($70)

Adonit Jot Script Evernote stylus on carpoolcandy.com

Touch screen stylus— This new precision stylus, is great for high-tech note taking. The Jot Script Evernote allows your handwriting to flow as freely as your thoughts. ($75)

beer tote

Beer tote:–This sturdy, wood carrier is great for the guy who likes variety and needs a safe way to transport his cold ones. ($40)

What’s your favorite Dad’s Day goodie? Tell me in the comments.

Proud to be Jumbos: my college reunion story

I am a Tufts University Jumbo. It’s not the toughest of mascots– especially when everyone in my house reveres the mighty Wolverine** – but we’ve still got our pride.

Tufts University logo on carpoolcandy.com

I recently relived some of my favorite memories at my college reunion. I’m not going to tell you how many years it’s been because it just makes me sound old and I don’t feel old. But spending 48 hours kidless, husbandless, and with a gaggle of gal pals on our old stomping grounds peeled off the years and made me realize age really doesn’t matter.

The weekend began with one of my besties, Julie, flying in from LA and sleeping at my house. We stayed up late gossiping and wondering who we might see– and who we’d like to avoid– at the reunion.

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We got a quick hair blow out before we left—because a girl has to look her best if she’s going to see people she hasn’t seen in many, many years. Nobody needs to know I normally don’t wash my hair for days.

We met up with two other friends– Allison and Romy–  and drove to Boston. The ride felt decadent. With four hours of uninterrupted time we caught up on each other’s work and families and had the luxury of follow-up questions and analysis. We also spent much of the ride quizzing each other on college factoids, hazy events, and random people we hadn’t thought about in years.

(Remember, I live with 4 males whose idea of scintillating conversation is NFL trades and baseball statistics, and maybe a fart joke now and then. A weekend with the girls is like an oasis.)

I love my college friends, but we aren’t the best at sticking to plans. Although a group of us live in the tri-state area, it’s rare that we can get a bunch together for a two-hour dinner in Manhattan. So I was delighted when 9 girls committed to this reunion weekend and showed up ready for carousing, reminiscing, and a graduate degree in belly laughs.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We had a fun dinner outside Friday night at Stephanie’s on Newbury Street in Boston. The nostalgia started to sink in as we sipped Scorpion Bowls that tasted much better than the grain alcohol punch we used to get at the Hong Kong in Cambridge back in the day. (There are some advantages to being a grown up.)

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Scorpion bowl at Stephanie’s in Boston

My friend Marjie met her husband, Scott, at Tufts (those two crazy kids are still gaga for each other) and many of Scott’s friends happened to be the guys we hung with since freshman year.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Marjie and Scott: A Jumbo love story

Scott and 8 of his frat buddies also stayed at the Loews in Boston for the weekend. When we got back from dinner, we took over an outdoor bar area with couches and twinkling lights and caught up on our lives.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We all flashed our phones around to show pictures of kids, spouses and even dogs. Our friend, Ricky, had wisely dug out a pile of old photos to pass around, sparking laughs and a flood of memories.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We all had more hair and thicker eyebrows ala Brooke Shields. Our shorts were short and our jeans were high and sinched tight, but we thought we had it going on.

As much as I’d like to think I remember college like it was yesterday, I was surprised by how much I had forgotten. It was like we were collectively weaving a tapestry of those four years. Everyone remembered different events and people and we pieced them together like a giant puzzle. It was so much fun hearing the classic stories again, and being reminded of hilarious times that had been tucked in the way back of my mind.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We think this is from circa 1992. Good times

Saturday we wandered around campus and met up with other alumni attending various events. We visited the fancy new library and tried to remember where we sat to study for finals.

Tisch Library at Tufts reunion 2015 inn carpoolcandy.com

So many hours spend studying (and talking) at that library

We snuck into two dorms where we used to live (Houston and West Hall for inquiring Jumbos) and were shocked at how little they had been updated.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

My old room in Houston Hall sophomore year!

There was a graduation party at the house on Bellveue where many of my friends lived junior and senior year, but the residents graciously let us walk around. It was bizarre to be there again, and disgustingly dirty.

We had to make a stop at Espresso’s. Back in the day you could use your parents’ credit card and order food by phone to be delivered right to your dorm. Pizza, subs, and pints of Ben and Jerry’s, which we’d pass around in a circle until there was none left. Ah, the days of late-night, guilt-free eating.

We walked that beautiful quad, took pictures at the Jumbo statue in front of Packard Hall, and of course at the hallowed canon.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

It’s a Tufts tradition to paint the canon late at night, but you have to make your mark really late or you run the risk of someone painting over it. Despite several tries, I think I did it successfully only once in my four years.

The only official school reunion activity we signed up for was a cocktail party Saturday night for our graduating class. Part of me wanted to be chatty, and part wanted to be a fly on the wall, throwing back cocktails and watching all the action without having to engage. I saw some people I hadn’t seen since graduation– including my freshman year roommate. That was a trip. I was mostly happy to see everyone I recognized, as many looked the same and still gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling despite all the years.

There were only a few people I would have liked to avoid, but even talking to them was amusing, because they annoyed me now for the same reasons they annoyed me then. Some things never change.

After about an hour at the party, our smaller group met up again at the Temple Bar in Cambridge and laughed and talked for hours into the night.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

The AEPi guys together again

Just like the old days, the boys powered through any exhaustion for a late night visit to the original Hong Kong in Harvard Square for scorpion bowls… and the girls went home, got into jammies and talked til we started to fall asleep. There was still so much more to say and no one wanted the weekend to be over.

Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Most people left Sunday morning but a few of us stayed for breakfast and a little shopping on Newbury Street. I certainly wanted to stretch the weekend out as long as possible.

Shopping on Newbury Street at Tufts reunion 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We hit terrible traffic on the way home and even got a flat tire that stalled our trip for a few extra hours. But no one complained. We were savoring the time to chat and be together. We weren’t eager to get back to the reality of work, carpools, sick kids, messy houses, cooking dinner and husbands who had earned a break.

Spending a relaxing 48 hours together evoked deep affection for my old college gang. I shared so many significant moments with some of these people, and we literally watched each other grow and mature into adults. We spent time with each other’s families, traveled all over the U.S and Europe, and struggled through terrible first jobs and apartments in the lean post-college years.

We have history.

Tufts class of 1990 reunion on carpoolcandy.com

The gang on campus

I wish it wasn’t so hard to get everyone in the same place at the same time but that’s where we are in our lives and that’s what made the reunion so special. It was a weekend we proud Jumbos will never forget.

 

**You may remember, Wilson is an avid (read insane) alumnus of the University of Michigan who suffers from school spiritititus, when watching all sports gives you a fever until you bleed maize and blue. (For the lowdown on his reunion weekend click here.)

My pilgrimage to say goodbye to David Letterman

Another of my favorite pop culture icons is about to walk off into the sunset.

I’ve been watching David Letterman for as long as I can remember. My mother always loved him, and I remember wanting to stay up late with her watching Stupid Human Tricks or the Top Ten list while she painted her nails in front of the TV.

Letterman show logo

Then I went to college and stayed up late watching Dave on many nights I should have been studying, or at least drinking beer. He was always there, that awkward, gap-toothed, smart aleck When he moved to CBS and a better time slot I was psyched that I could watch him more, until career and babies got in the way.

I’ll admit in recent years I haven’t watched Dave much. But I’d often check who he had on and sometimes record it for later. Unlike Leno, he was a terrific interviewer who asked great questions and actually listened to the answers. A rare bird in TV talk shows, he seemed quite happy to go off script and take the lead of his guests down a path of uncertainty that almost always ended up in some funny place.

When I heard the news that Dave was retiring I wanted to see him live one last time. (I went once in the 90’s when the guest was Rosie Perez and we sat right up front and laughed all night.) I turned to my own personal TicketMaster, Wilson’s brother, Jon. As it turned out, Jon had not given me a birthday gift yet so he was happy to make a few phone calls and get me tickets to see Dave.

letterman ticket

A parade of celebs have visited the Dave set in the last few weeks, saying goodbye to the legend. Howard Stern tried to make out with a disgusted Dave who ran away, Julia Roberts giggled and kissed him one last time, Tom Hanks told funny stories, and Tina Fey made quite an exit by whipping off her dress to reveal just a leotard-spanxy thing that said “Bye Dave” on the front and #LastDressEver on the back.

One of my favorite last guests was Ray Romano, who choked up several times while recalling how doing standup on Letterman 20 years earlier led directly to the creation — by Worldwide Pants, Letterman’s production company — of Everybody Loves Raymond, which made him a star and very, very rich.

There were amazing musical guests who paid homage with performances on Dave’s show this month, and credited him with launching their success, including Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Eddie Vedder.

In the present all-Jimmy landscape it’s easy to forget that Dave was a powerhouse with an eye for talent.

With all that star power I was hoping for a good guest on the evening we went to see the show. On the Late Show website it looked like Bruce Willis, but when I got there, it was Jack Hanna, the director of the Columbus Zoo. Waaah, waaaah.

"Late Show with David Letterman"/CBS

“Late Show with David Letterman”/CBS

But you know what? Hanna was great. He brought a ton of exotic animals and reminisced with Dave about all their goofy segments over the years. Hanna has appeared on Letterman 104 times! (The only two people who appeared more were Marv Albert and Regis.) Hanna got weepy and hugged Dave a lot and when the segment was over, he went around and shook hands with every single member of the crew, which was really sweet.

It was fun to see Paul and the CBS Orchestra, and I had forgotten all about Biff and Rupert. John Popper of Blues Traveler played all his hits with Paul and the band, which was cool. The other musical guest– John Fogerty– played a medley of old songs and proved an old guy can still rock.

The CBS pages were very clear that no photography/cell phones were allowed inside the Ed Sullivan Theater, which was a huge bummer. As you know, I like to document such things. But I’m also a wimpy rule follower and getting kicked out of the show would be mortifying, and might hurt Jon, who got the tickets from CBS.

letterman stage

So this was the best I could do… at the end of the show… from my cell phone camera… from inside my purse. You can kinda make out the stage below, right?

LAME!!!

Dave seemed relaxed and at ease, if not a little nostalgic and embarrassed at all the fuss. It was good to see him, like putting on an old sweater you love but haven’t worn in a long time.

brooke at late show NYC on carpoolcandy.com

In 2013, Dave surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest running late-night talk show host in TV history. Jimmy Fallon had a really nice bit on his show Monday night about what Dave has meant to him… and out of deference for the last show, Jimmy Kimmel will air a rerun Wednesday night.

Chances are, you watched a lot of Letterman over the last 33 years. So even if you haven’t been able to stay up late enough to watch Dave recently, you’ll be happy you were there when he says goodbye Wednesday night. I hope he gets huge ratings for his farewell.

Thanks Dave, for taking risks, and showing us you can be silly and smart at the same time. Late night won’t be the same without you.

 

 

Listen to Your Mother 2015 Love Fest

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

I’m still coming down off a contact high after watching 13 ladies bear their truths before a live audience Saturday in the second annual Listen to Your Mother North Jersey show.

Listen to Your Mother is a staged reading event where people share experiences about motherhood in all its forms. It started out as the brainchild of blogger Ann Imig with one show in Madison, Wisconsin and has now become a national movement– performed in 39 cities across the U.S. this year.

I was honored to be chosen to read in the first North Jersey show last year, and it was an exhilarating experience.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

I wanted to stay involved, so was thrilled when last year’s co-director/producers Deborah Goldstein and Sandy Rustin asked me to help direct and produce the 2015 show.

As a former TV news producer, flexing those muscles again was extremely satisfying. Working with Deborah and Sandy was one of the most joyful professional experiences of my life. They’re both uber talented and lovely human beings. Those gifted gals taught me so much, while always making me feel an equal part of the team, despite my rookie status.

The audition process was fascinating and humbling. We had almost 70 people read their stories and had the daunting task of choosing just 13 for the show.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

The audition room

Aligning with the LTYM edict, we tried to find pieces with a unique voice, but a universal message about motherhood. If you’ve seen the show, you know it’s an emotional journey, so it was also important we have balance, with thought-provoking stories that would make an audience laugh and cry.

13 women earned the coveted spots with their original, beautiful words. While several are career writers and/or bloggers, some have only dabbled in writing while keeping day jobs, or just had an important story to tell.

The age range ran from 30’s to 50’s, with topics ranging from foster care, parenting special needs children, divorce, racism, and gender stereotypes to cooking in the kitchen with mom and sending kids to summer camp. Each story had relatable elements, even if the experience described was completely new.

Auditions for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

We used very sophisticated methods to make the show order

After a successful 2014 show, tickets went quickly for the scheduled 5pm show. When the show sold out, we got ballsy and added a second show at 2pm. Although we didn’t sell out the second show, we had a terrific audience and the cast got to read twice. I remember last year being so sad when it was over, I wished I could start all over again and this year’s cast got that chance.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

The first read-throughs were raw and emotional

We only rehearsed twice before show day but these ladies were ready. There were a few butterflies but those tough broads laughed in the face of stage fright.

Rehearsal for Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Technical rehearsal on show day

The audience seemed to enthusiastically enjoy the show, and it’s been 24 hours of love online and in person from those who saw it. A few people told me the show was now officially part of their annual Mother’s Day weekend routine.

Taking a bow at Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Taking a bow after the first show. Proud and relieved!

There were many hugs and promises to see each other soon as we all parted to celebrate with family and friends after the second show. An email chain with all cast and producers continued throughout the day with Mother’s Day wishes and an outpouring of love and respect. I ran into one cast mate in town tonight and we ran into each other’s arms like old Army buddies separated by years, when really it had only been a day.

We are bonded forever by this meaningful experience.

I remain in awe of people willing to make themselves vulnerable by sharing deeply personal stories and exploring their feelings on a stage in front of 450 people. It takes a certain kind of courage and trust, and we producers were so grateful to each reader for their bravery and willingness to open their hearts.

North Jersey cast of Listen to Your Mother 2015 on carpoolcandy.com

Love these ladies!

As Sandy told the cast in the few exciting moments before they took the stage Saturday, you never know who in the audience needs to hear your story, needs to laugh or cry. Words are powerful, especially when expressed with authenticity. That’s what makes LTYM work.

Maybe you have a story to tell about having a mother or being one. Write it down!  LTYM NJ 2016 is not that far away…..

You can read more amazing stories in the new anthology: Listen to Your Mother: What She Said Then, What We’re Saying Now..