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Parents look for wisdom from other parents who’ve been Already through the parenting trenches. Some Seek insight from playdates or Facebook groups, and some of us get ours from movies. I generally rely on the many nuggets of truth found in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

I’m nothing if not Clark Griswold, requesting a drumroll as I hold electrical cords and try to create awesome memories for my kids. Sometimes I hit a home run, sometimes I fall flat. But I always keep trying.

Here are 10 “National Lampoon Christmas Vacation” quotes that get me through:

“The shitter was full!”

This is not one I utter very loudly. Usually. But it rings loud and true every time one of my three kids plow through the bathroom door while another family member is on the toilet.

As they stumble around with their pants at their ankles to find another bathroom in the house, I quietly whisper to myself those perfect words of explanation. And if I get shade from an onlooker when they see my kid peeing on a tree, or in the Costco parking lot, I embody the same blissful ignorance as Cousin Eddie. “The shitter was full!”


“Fixed the newel post!”

Whenever I tape or glue a toy back together, I feel a sense of accomplishment. My kids return to play and I don’t need to hear them ask me to buy something new.

But after gluing a truck’s tire on for the 19th time, and realizing that a 20th time is not in the cards, I feel the same sense of pride and relief as a chainsaw wielding Clark as I throw the three wheeled beater in the trash and shout, “Fixed the newel post!”

“Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.”

My kids are really good at complaining. They complain when they’re mad, sad, and even happy. They’ve been known to complain when there’s nothing to complain about. I’ve tried reasoning, teaching gratitude, and ignoring them.

But sometimes, the only thing that tunes out their tiny grumbles is looking at my partner and saying, “Clark, Audrey’s frozen from the waist down.” And if we’re in sync, she’ll remind me that it’s all part of the experience.

“If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”

My kids’ motivation comes from a place of innocence and a desire to please (most of the time), but I cringe inside when they say, “Mama! Close your eyes, I want to show you something!”

For starters, they want me to close my eyes immediately, even if it means dragging me from the first floor living room to their second floor bedroom. Bumping my way up the stairs with my eyes closed is made worse by the scenarios floating in my mind.

From a bedroom cleaned with the dog’s hairbrush, to every book and toy removed from their shelves to make a fort resembling the makings of a shantytown, I dread the possibilities. So when they grin at me with hopeful longing and ask if I am surprised, I don’t want to burst their bubble. I say this instead:

“It’s good. It’s good.”

From that first sip of morning coffee to the last drop of evening beer, parenting has made me appreciate the finest liquids in life.

“Let’s burn some dust here. Eat my rubber.”

My partner and I have always had our best fights in the car. Add the stress of three kids all needing different things at very inconvenient times and you have the perfect recipe for divorce.

Thankfully, we’ve found ways to combat road trip drama with our kids thanks to a little humor from Clark Griswold. Don’t take it personally if a blue minivan passes you on the highway, or zips by you to get a parking spot near the front of a rest stop, restaurant, or liquor store. I just need to reach my destination before the sound of my children creates irreparable damage to my nervous system.

“Save the neck for me, Clark.”

Every time I cook a turkey or chicken, my partner leans over my shoulder and whispers this gem. It’s an inside joke shared between us and the millions of other people in love with “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” but one not understood by our children.

It’s a reminder that before we were parents, we were people with time to watch movies and energy to memorize their lines. It’s a reminder that our humor is still intact, and even if our poultry goes up in a ball of smoke, we will still have each other.

“Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”

Yeah. As parents we lose it from time to time.

But give yourself a break if a long day of whiny and demanding children who have only eaten strawberries dipped in ketchup pushes you to the edge of sanity. It’s natural. And it only makes sense to nurse that headache with some old fashioned, over-the-counter drugs.

“Bend over and I’ll show ya.”

This one I mutter only to myself. But when one of my kids is walking toward me with an armful of their 93 favorite possessions, crying that they don’t know where to put them before they all fall to the ground, my mind always goes to this scene in Christmas Vacation.

“It’s a beaut, Clark! It’s a beaut!”

Parenting is no joke. It’s hard. But along the way, there are so many beautiful moments. The garage is finally clean. The homemade birthday cake is frosted. The laundry is folded and put away. The kids are snuggled next to me and my partner for family movie night. We look at each other and say this.

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As a former beauty editor, I pride myself in housing the best skincare products in my bathroom. Walk in and you're sure to be greeted with purifying masks, micellar water, retinol ceramide capsules and Vitamin C serums. What can I say? Old habits die hard. But when I had my son, I was hesitant to use products on him. I wanted to keep his baby-soft skin for as long as possible, without tainting it with harsh chemicals.

Eventually, I acquiesced and began using leading brands on his sensitive skin. I immediately regretted it. His skin became dry and itchy and regardless of what I used on him, it never seemed to get better. I found myself asking, "Why don't beauty brands care about baby skin as much as they care about adult skin?"

When I had my daughter in May, I knew I had to take a different approach for her skin. Instead of using popular brands that are loaded with petroleum and parabens, I opted for cleaner products. These days I'm all about skincare that contains super-fruits (like pomegranate sterols, which are brimming with antioxidants) and sulfate-free cleansers that contain glycolipids that won't over-dry her skin. And, so far, Pipette gets it right.

What's in it

At first glance, the collection of shampoo, wipes, balm, oil and lotion looks like your typical baby line—I swear cute colors and a clean look gets me everytime—but there's one major difference: All products are environmentally friendly and cruelty-free, with ingredients derived from plants or nontoxic synthetic sources. Also, at the core of Pipette's formula is squalane, which is basically a powerhouse moisturizing ingredient that babies make in utero that helps protect their skin for the first few hours after birth. And, thanks to research, we know that squalane isn't an irritant, and is best for those with sensitive skin. Finally, a brand really considered my baby's dry skin.

Off the bat, I was most interested in the baby balm because let's be honest, can you ever have too much protection down there? After applying, I noticed it quickly absorbed into her delicate skin. No rash. No irritation. No annoyed baby. Mama was happy. It's also worth noting there wasn't any white residue left on her bottom that usually requires several wipes to remove.

Why it's different

I love that Pipette doesn't smell like an artificial baby—you, know that powdery, musky note that never actually smells like a newborn. It's fragrance free, which means I can continue to smell my daughter's natural scent that's seriously out of this world. I also enjoy that the products are lightweight, making her skin (and my fingers) feel super smooth and soft even hours after application.

The bottom line

Caring for a baby's sensitive skin isn't easy. There's so much to think about, but Pipette makes it easier for mamas who don't want to compromise on safety or sustainability. I'm obsessed, and I plan to start using the entire collection on my toddler as well. What can I say, old habits indeed die hard.

This article was sponsored by Pipette. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Military families give up so much for their country, particularly when they have small children at home. Those of us who have never witnessed this kind of sacrifice first-hand could use a reminder of it once in a while, which is just one of the reasons we're so happy to see the beautiful photoshoot Mary Chevalier arranged for her husband's return home from Afghanistan.

The photoshoot was extra special because while James Chevalier was serving a nine-month deployment, Mary gave birth to their second son, Caspian.

Getting ready to meet Dad

"During the laboring and birthing process of Caspian, I was surrounded by family, but that did not fill the void of not having my husband by my side," Mary told InsideEdition.com. "He was able to video chat during the labor and birth, but for both of us, it was not enough."

While James had yet to meet Caspian, their 3-year-old son, Gage, missed his dad a whole lot, so this homecoming was going to be a big deal for him too. That's why Mary arranged for her wedding photographer, Brittany Watson, to be with them for their reunion in Atlanta.

Gage was so happy to see his Dad 

"[He] had no idea he was going to be getting to see his daddy that day," Watson wrote on Facebook. "The family met at the Southeastern Railway Museum for Gage to go on a special train ride... little did he know, he'd be doing it with daddy!"

Watson did a beautiful job capturing the high emotions of every single family member, from Gage's surprise, to the delight on baby Caspian's face. It's no wonder her Facebook post went viral last week.

"Caspian is natural, a very happy baby, but both James and I felt like Caspian knew who his father was almost immediately," Mary told Inside Edition. "He was easily comforted by me husband right off the bat and seemed to have an instant connection. It was very emotional."

The moment this dad had been waiting for 

If we're sobbing just looking at the photos, we can't even imagine what it was like in real life.

"We are all so blessed and take so much for granted," Watson wrote. "I cannot contain the joy I feel in my heart when I look at these images, and I hope you feel it too!"

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During both of my pregnancies, I was under the care of an amazing midwife. Every time I went to her office for check-ups, I was mesmerized by the wall of photos participating in what may be the most painfully magical moment of a woman's life: giving birth. But there was a painting that always drew my attention: a woman dressed in orange, holding her newborn baby with a face that could be described as clueless. The line above the canvas read, "Now what?"

I felt like the woman in the painting as I kissed my mother goodbye when my daughter was born. She came from my native Colombia to stay with us for three months. When she left, I realized that my husband had been working as usual during those first 90 days of our new life. My baby was born on a Friday and on Monday he was back at the office. (No parental leave policy for him.)


Now what? I thought. The quote "It takes a village to raise a child" suddenly started to hit home, literally.

After a few years in Miami, I had some friends, but it truly didn't feel like I had a village. Some were not mothers yet, most of them worked full-time and others didn't live close by. My nomad life left my best friends spread out in different places in the world. I found myself signing up for "mommy and me" classes in search of new mothers, immigrants like me, alone like me.

It seemed like a utopian dream to think about when my grandmothers became mothers. Both of them had 6 and 10 children and they were able to stay sane (or maybe not? I don't know). But at least they had family around—people cooking, offering help. There was a sense of community.

My mother and father grew up in "the village." Big families with so many children that the older siblings ended up taking care of the little ones; aunts were like second mothers and neighbors became family.

When I was about to give birth to my second baby, my sister had just had her baby girl back in Colombia. Once, she called me crying because her maternity leave was almost over. My parents live close to her, so that was a bonus. Hiring a nanny back there is more affordable. But even seeing the positive aspects of it, I wished I could have been there for her, to be each other's village.

The younger me didn't realize that when I took a plane to leave my country in search of new experiences 19 years ago, I was giving up the chance to have my loved ones close by when I became a mother. And when I say close by, I mean as in no planes involved.

It hasn't been easy, but after two kids and plenty of mommy and me classes and random conversations that became true connections, I can say I have a mini-village, a small collection of solitudes coming together to lean on each other. But for some reason, it doesn't truly feel like one of those described in the old books where women gathered to knit while breastfeeding and all the children become like siblings.

Life gets in the way, and everyone gets sucked into their own worlds. In the absence of a true village, we feel the pressure to be and do everything that once was done by a group of people. We often lose perspective of priorities because we are taking care of everything at the same time. Starting to feel sick causes anxiety and even fear because it means so many things need to happen in order for mom—especially if single—to lay down and recover while the children are taken care of. And when the children get sick, that could mean losing money for a working mother or father, because the truth is that most corporations are not designed to nurture families.

In the absence of that model of a village I long for, we tend to rely on social media to have a sense of community and feel supported. We may feel that since we are capable of doing so much—working and stay at home moms equally—perhaps we don't need help. Or quite the opposite: mom guilt kicks in and feelings of not being enough torment our night sleep. Depression and anxiety can enter the picture and just thinking about the amount of energy and time that takes to create true connections, we may often curl up in our little cocoon with our children and partners—if they are present—when they come home.

Now what? was my thought this week while driving back and forth to the pediatrician with my sick son. I can't get the virus, I have to be strong, my daughter can't get ill, my husband needs to be healthy for his work trip next week, we all need to be well for my son's fifth birthday. And so, it goes on. I texted one of my mom friends just to rant. She rants back because her son is also sick. She sent me a heart and an "I'm here if you need to talk."

I am grateful to have talked to her at that random postpartum circle when I first became a mother. She's a Latina immigrant like me and feels exactly like me. I will do it more, get out of my comfort zone and have—sometimes—awkward conversations so I can keep growing my own little village.

It may not look like the one I'd imagined, but still may allow me to be vulnerable even through a text message.

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Halloween is around the corner, but if you are like me you are still trying to figure out what to dress your family (especially the little ones), so here are some cute ideas inspired by famous characters. There's something for everyone—from cartoon lovers to ideas for the entire family!

Here are some adorable character costumes for your family:

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