Category Archives: Da Holidays

The Mysterious Case of the Beaver in the ‘Burbs


After many years in the suburbs, it seems logical that I would be familiar with most of the local wildlife by now.

But when I saw something huge and furry that wasn’t my dog scurry across my backyard, I was pretty sure that I had witnessed something new to the ‘burbs.

“There’s a beaver in our backyard,” I informed my husband.  “I think it may be here because of our brook.  It’s going to build a dam,” I said with unquestionable authority.

“First of all, there are no beavers in the suburbs,” he told me.  “Second of all, it’s not a brook, it’s a drainage canal.  Lastly, it would need a variance for a dam.”

“I’m serious,” I protested.  “I saw a beaver.”

“Did it have a flat tail?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Then it’s not a beaver.  It was probably a groundhog.”

I thought about the fact that Groundhog Day was approaching, and realized my husband might be right.  I was wildlife-savvy enough to know that it was certainly the right time of year to be seeing drowsy groundhogs fresh from hibernation stumbling about as they looked for their shadows. The problem was I had always thought groundhogs were about the size of gophers, and the thing I saw was about the size of my dog which meant it was either a really  large gopher, a small beaver, or it was in fact, a groundhog, but since I had never actually seen any of the above, I really couldn’t say for sure what the heck it was.

So I looked on the Internet and decided that the picture of the groundhog on the web was a pretty good likeness of the animal in my backyard.  Then I read something that shocked me.img_0558

“Did you know that the groundhog doesn’t come out of his burrow in February to see his shadow?  He’s actually just looking for a mate!  And then when he finds one, they will BOTH probably go back to his burrow and hibernate again until spring.”

“No way!!!!” exclaimed my husband in mock horror.  “Next you’re going to tell me there’s no such thing as Santa Claus!”

“You don’t understand,” I said.  “This isn’t a joke.  That big, furry thing living in our backyard is out there looking for another big, furry thing to live in our backyard with it.”

“And that’s a problem because…”

“They could have rabies!  They could have babies!  They could have babies with rabies!”

“I’m glad you’re thinking rationally about this,” said my husband.

I ignored him and started thumbing through the yellow pages to find a wildlife control person who possibly had a sub-specialty in sleepy, mating groundhogs disguised as beavers.  Then it occurred to me that I might not actually have to deal with this issue right away.

“You know, if the groundhog sees his shadow while he’s out looking for his mate, they’ll hibernate again and we won’t have to worry about them for at least six more weeks,” I rationalized.

“So what will you do then?” asked my husband.

I thought for a minute.  “Move.”


©2016, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Da Holidays

A Conversation with some Sh*tty Moms

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.26.43 AMEvery once in a while a book comes along that is so funny, so irreverent, and one that I can so completely relate to, that I need to give it a Lost in Suburbia shout out.

Today Show producers and self-appointed sh*tty moms, Mary Ann Zoellner and Alicia Ybarbo  just released a sequel to their NY Times bestseller, Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us, called, Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing it All Year Long. Unlike most sequels, I actually think this one is funnier than the first.  Or maybe I just think it’s funnier because I have been a mother longer now and I’m that much more jaded.  Either way, I liked it so much, I just had to sit down with Mary Ann and Alicia and talk to them about the book.

image2Me: First of all, I have to tell you this book is hilarious and I’m definitely on Team Sh*tty Mom, too.  My kids have gotten significantly older since your first book (although, mysteriously, I have stayed the same age), but there is still so much here I can relate to. Your kids have also gotten a bit older since the first Sh*tty Mom book.  How has that changed your approach to parenting?

Mary Ann: The good thing is I think it has helped me be more relaxed. The bad news is my threats aren’t working as well.

Alicia:  Of course we want to dote on them and fix every boo-boo, but I have to sometimes listen to my own advice. Its hard to step back and try not to get involved when things go wrong in their world. We are there to be their parents first, friends second (or in some cases never).


Me: Your chapter on finding the right gender bathroom is a hot topic in the news right now.  As for me, when I have to go, I always use the bathroom with the shortest line.  I mean, seriously, why should I wait on a ginormous line with two dozen other women who will all probably pee on the seats (what is with that anyway?) when the men’s room is empty and much cleaner?  I encourage my daughter to do the same. Does this make me a Sh*tty Mom?

Mary Ann:  No, it makes you smart! I’m trying like crazy to get my daughters 9 & 11 to do the same but they refuse. I’ll get ’em.

Alicia:  My kids go anywhere I go so we are set. It is those freeway rest stops that get all of us laughing!


Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.48.55 AMMe: I love your descriptions of the different kind of moms you find during the holidays.  I’m the opposite of Holiday Dieting Mom.  I look at the holidays as an excuse to eat everything in sight.  Chocolate-covered Matzoh?  I’m so there.  This gives me just that much more of a panic attack when I realize bathing suit season is just a month away.  Which Holiday Mom are you?

Mary Ann: I’m the don’t get on the neighborhood listserv mom. I’m too busy being a sh*tty mom.

Alicia. I am just like you. Eat everything in site. And don’t get me started on stress eating!!! Everything tastes better with holiday stress!


Me: I’m so impressed that you actually throw your kids’ school artwork away.  My kid went through a stage where he drew every single person with a pipe coming out of their head. Not their mouth. Their head.  We probably have sixty thousand variations of Pipe Head Man in our attic.  How do you recommend tossing the “art” surreptitiously?

Mary Ann: Do it while they are sleeping then hide the evidence really, really well beneath coffee grids or a hole in your backyard because if they catch you – boy are you in trouble.

Alicia: I got caught more than once. Now my kids sleep with one eye open!  Seriously, even though they are no longer that age, sometimes we would have conversations on who to ‘gift’ certain art to. Always a great idea to send art via snail mail.


Me: I find one of the scourges of summer is the required summer reading list. Every year my kids would leave it until the night before the new school year started and then we’d all panic and rent the movie or buy the Cliffs Notes or I’d just read the damn book and give them a synopsis.  What would a Sh*tty Mom do when confronted with this misery?

Mary Ann:  The same – Tracy you are sh*ttier than we thought! Or we often take the opposite approach – I’ve already done 6th grade… this is your journey. Let them fail.

Alicia. The panic is inevitable. Let them know how to start cramming now. It will prep them well for college.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 9.41.28 AM


Me: Once the school year started, I was usually in such shell shock that I often found myself waking up ten minutes before the bell and driving the kids to school in my ducky bathrobe.  Did this make me a Sh*tty Mom?

Mary Ann: Yes! But in good way.  Your kids are teenagers… they can get themselves up now. You’re hAlf@ssing it – we applaud you.

Alicia: We have all done that at least once!  It makes for a great photo opp and future currency to threaten your children with down the road. ‘You don’t want me showing up at school in pjs, do you?’


Me: Which brings us to school lunches?  In general I think the schools do a much better job of providing lunch for my kids than my typical maximally processed lunch meat sandwich with a side of high trans fat snack food and a box of juice that is actually only 2% fruit.  Do you see a problem with this?

Mary Ann: One of the biggest mistakes I ever made was making my kids lunch because once you start you can’t go back.

Alicia. A Bag of Pretzels, a prepackaged cheese stick and a clementine are easy to toss into a lunch box. Instant lunch.


image3Don’t shoot me, I’m one of those moms who gets her holiday cards right out after Thanksgiving.  But the one thing I will never do is include one of those dreaded holiday letters.  Do I care that your kid spent a year in space with Scott Kelly and then came home and got the Nobel prize for curing baldness (something he figured out while living in space with Scott Kelly).  No, I really don’t.  As a Sh*tty Mom, are you pro or con the Holiday Letter?

Mary Ann: I’m always just impressed that someone goes to that much effort. They put more effort in the holiday card then I put into my kids 😉

Alicia: We giggle with excitement when we get them in the mail. But you will never catch us sending one. Could you imagine what it would say?


Me: Thanks so much for being here.  Let’s get together at some point and share the Halloween candy we stole from our kids!


Sh*tty Mom for All Seasons: Half-@ssing it All Year Long by Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner with Erin Cline is available in bookstores and on Amazon, Barnes and and other online retailers.  For more info and a peak inside, Click Here.


Filed under Celeb Encounters, Da Holidays, The Writer's Life