An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

If anyone mentions cheese pizza I may just have to take up violence

Oh, Florida.


Yesterday morning life hit us like a searing laser of Utah sun at 4:30 AM when Coco began howling wildly to be let out of her crate. We were still high from the smell of salt and sea, our bellies still full of fried everything, our minds still as calm as the line of the horizon over the ocean, so it was a bit of a jolt. An unwelcome jolt. A knife to the eye. A kick in the shin. And before I retrieved that dog from her crate I said aloud something Leta had cried out as I put her to bed the night before: “Why can’t every day be Florida?”

Turns out there was nothing wrong with Coco, and she didn’t even have to empty her bladder. In fact, I think she was expecting some sort of celebration to be waiting for her on the outside of her crate. Her bat mitzvah, perhaps. Where were the balloons? The finger food? The Journey cover band? On and off the bed she jumped, her wet snout in and out of our ears. I let her outside to release her energy, but she stood outside and barked at the door. This went on for two hours. And just as she was about to settle down Leta woke up. OF COURSE LETA WOKE UP. You saw that coming before I even said it, didn’t you? It is a special rule of logic that only applies to parents: if a) you have a child then b) that kid will wake up just as you are falling back to sleep unless c) they are staying with Grandmommy. And if c) is true then you will have stuffed that kid with coffee and chocolate right up until you said, “Be good! See you tomorrow!” Because d) it’s the only way to get back at your mother for introducing your kid to Barney.

This morning Coco slept in until 6:00 AM, except when Jon let her out of her crate she was covered in diarrhea. He could smell it, but because Jon cannot see without the aid of an astro telescope, he did not notice her tracking it through our bedroom, down the hallway where we discovered poo all over the wall, and out the back door. I followed her outside where she hunched over, grimaced, and puked for over 20 minutes. I then spent the next hour bathing her while Jon cleaned up the crate and the fragrant, candied path through our bedroom. When Leta woke up and saw the handful of wet spots where Jon had scrubbed the floor with Nature’s Miracle, she put both arms on her hips, glared disappointedly down the hallway and asked, “Did that dog pee a lot of times?”

I said, no, that’s not pee, but she ignored me, counted each wet spot and informed me, “Eleven. She peed eleven times.” Thank, you, Leta for gathering such detailed data, although I’m not going to be impressed until you’ve shown me some charts.

Jon is currently in bed with a sinus infection (yes, I know, neti pot, he uses one routinely, we think there is a bigger problem), and it’s taken me a few days to catch up with everything that needs to be done when a family returns from a long vacation. Things like having to walk around the pile of laundry, all the energy burned from having to step over the suitcase that still needs to be unpacked. My friend, Cami, took care of our house, fed Lou, and watered all of my plants while we were away, and she said yesterday that the first time she walked into our house it looked like a bulldozer had dumped a landfill in our living room. And I was all, Cami, we were lucky to make it out of the house without killing each other, and even then we almost missed our plane. So if you’re surprised that I would leave my house in such a condition then you can’t be upset when I tell you to suck it.

Yesterday was also the first day of a 21-day diet cleanse that I’ve decided to do that prohibits me from eating any sugar, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, or animal products. It’s the same cleanse that Oprah did, and when I read about how it was making her feel I became intrigued, bought the book that inspired it, Quantum Wellness, and decided immediately it was exactly what I needed in my life. I’ve been meaning to make some major changes in my life, especially since the recent chaos is only going to get more chaotic, and this book outlines some ideas as to how to take charge of the change I want to make.

I’m posting about it here because I think I’ll have more motivation to stick to the cleanse if I post about it publicly, and I plan to say a few words about how I’m feeling every day just to help anyone else who wants to eventually try it. I was certain that giving up caffeine would be the hardest part about this change, but the only thing I craved yesterday was cheese and a bite of Leta’s Cocoa Krispies. And even this morning the espresso machine did not tempt me. I’m also thinking that after the 21-day period is over that I may continue to abstain from meat, for many reasons, the main one being that I can no longer justify the barbaric treatment of those animals just so that I can have a hamburger. It’s as if I’ve finally been hit over the head hard enough, and I’m ready to change my life, from what I eat to how I react to Coco being covered in poop to breathing through the fact that yet again we’ve been jolted awake to a mess.

I want to be a better wife, a more conscious and present mother, a more loyal friend, and a better listener. I’d like to handle my anxiety better. I also want to be more organized because I’m tired and fed up with not being able to find anything. Many times that anything is my head. And starting yesterday I feel like I’m on my way to making every day Florida.

Here goes.

  • Christina

    We were just in Panama City Beach at the same time you were in Destin. I hope you had the same great weather we did. It was my husbands first time in PCB and since then his 2 year plan is to get the hell out of Chicago, and move to Panama City Beach. I feel your pain of leaving. I kept begging to stay.

  • Emily

    You’ll be awake, you’ll be alert, you’ll be positive, though it hurts…Your last paragraph instantly reminded me of my anthem of the past few years. Beautiful. I can totally relate to your desire for self-improvement, and think it’s great that you’re trying to be so healthy, but I also agree with the earlier poster who pointed out how hard we women tend to be on ourselves. Even though I only know what I’ve read of you, I think you are probably a pretty great person already. So whether or not you make it through the whole cleanse, or go vegetarian, or get more organized, or do anything differently in relation to your husband and daughter, I hope that you will remember how great you are and be kind to yourself. Maybe it sounds silly, but I really honestly believe this is the single best thing we can do for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world at large.

  • Lucy

    I’m on day five of this thing. It sucks! My head hurts, I’m tired and I miss cheese! Actually, I miss cheetos. And ice cream. I dream of ice cream, big bowls of sweet heaven sprinkled with salty crunchy cheetos. Lord, please help me, I’m losing it….

  • Kara

    What you need (on the organizational front) is a great assistant. You’re too busy to do crappy things like paying bills, making doctor appointments, and making sure all your other appointments don’t conflict. You can pay someone else to do it! Bonus: I live right down the street from you, I am currently a stay-home mommy to a 2 year old with way too much time on my hands, and I have an awesome administrative assistant resume. Tempting?

  • Let me know how that public accountability works out for you. I did the same thing when I joined weight watchers and my plan is now down the toilet. Not literally of course b/c I’m kind of a prude and I don’t talk about poo, unless it’s my kids’ b/c I’m a mommy blogger and all. Yeah right.

    Of course you have scads more readers than I do, and from what I’ve seen they WILL take you to task, so good luck to you. I’m afraid I can’t even contemplate a life with steak. And beer.

  • Oprah should have you on her show to talk about it. That would be worth Tivoing.

    I’m excited to hear about your foray into being a vegetarian. I’ve been considering the move myself. But I really love hot dogs.

  • JMB

    The fact that you got the bar/bat mitzvah thing correct gets you an extra 10 points, to be spent on something once a point system is worked out.

  • That’s the beauty of a great vacation. You arrive home with a sense of clarity, a renewed purpose. Hanging onto that feeling is another matter. It’s generally a fleeting feeling, quickly consumed by the demands of every day life and ingrained habits of mind that are hard to break away from. But I hope it’s more than a momentary epiphany for you and that you get what you need from the cleanse. I’ll reserve my opinions about giving up meat. Who needs judgement when they’re trying to turn a new leaf?

  • I’ve been wanting to make a change for a long time, and have circled around Oprah’s plan for weeks. I’m afraid to give up sugar. There. How sad is that?

    If you live through it, I will try. Thanks for going first
    . 🙂


    I have been reading Oprah’s cleanse blog…I am keen on doing that program too but to be honest the food often sounds rather gross. She had major butt issues after the black bean burgers. Maybe if I had a personal chef to try and make things yummy but I am having a hard time seeing me stick to it. I am thinking July when it’s hot and coffee is not so appealing and I can chow down on fruit. Good luck!

  • Ohhh that picture. *weep* I’m another uprooted Southern girl now living in Utah. I miss trips to Florida.

    Good luck on the cleanse! I don’t know if you’ve ever read anything by Dr. Oz, but “You: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty (You)” is a really good read for health stuff like that.

    Good luck – love your blog and pics!

  • Anonymous

    If you do decide to become a vegetarian, can I have your “Meat is Murder. Tasty, tasty murder” t-shirt?

  • Erika

    Good lord. If you’re disorganized, then there’s officially NO HOPE for me. I’ve seen the pictures of your house, and it’s about 50,000 times cleaner and nicer than mine will ever be.

    We went to Florida in early March, at the end (more or less) of our Winter of the 100 Inches, and while I don’t think my 5-yo daughter actually *said* “why can’t ever day be Florida?”, I’m sure she was thinking it. Come to think of it, so was I…

  • Awesome post. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” (though I see someone else has already recommended it, in which case I second the recommendation). It has made me completely rethink the way we eat, the sad state of our nation’s food industry, and so on. As dog is my witness, it will help you make every day Florida!

  • MK

    I admire any one who even ponders the cleanse. Good for you! You are a more disciplined human that I, which is why I would never judge anyone for not being able to stick to it. Sometimes the body has its own wisdom.

    I was a vegetarian for 5+ years but not for any reason in particular. It went well for me, except for the part about people wanting to judge me for it. Or often they became defensive because they expected me to judge them for not being a vegetarian. I was a little ahead of my time, I suppose. One day, it was overwhelmingly clear to me that I needed to have animal protein. So I had some and I felt so much better than I had in the few months prior. But in order to do that, I had to stop judging myself first. Because I had become identified with being a vegetarian.

    Oh the ‘splaining I had to do! “I am.” and then suddenly “I’m not.” That was the hard part for me. I was so conscious of appearing to be a hypocrite when I was really just following my bodies wants all along.

    Now, it has to occur to me to eat meat but sometimes my body just knows when the time is right. Some people think that the need or tendency is related to blood type or maybe because meat is included in the typical foods of my ancestors.

    Who knows?

    I gave up the Netti Pot a few years ago and exchanged it for this product called NeilMed.:

    It’s powerful enough to cleanse the upper sinuses, which a netti pot doesn’t do quite as well.

    Good luck. As ever, thanks for continuing to show up online and for always being a source of inspiration!

  • Lynda

    What an amazingly beautiful picture! The colors just take my breath away. One of those you just want to walk into, or stare at for great lengths of time. Thank you for posting it.

    I’m surprised at your organization comment. From pics you’ve shown of your house it looks like you’re VERY organized and VERY meticulous.

    Good Luck with your cleanse.

  • Amanda

    Please be careful on the cleanse. Recovered anorexics can get a bit extreme when so much focus is placed on what, when and how to eat. I’m a vegetarian, but I support local, pastured animal food for meat eaters.

  • Marta


    You can cleanse your body. You can cleanse your mind. You can even cleanse your spirit. But if you cleanse your potty mouth, I’ll be really mad.

  • No sugar, gluten, caffeine, alcohol, or animal products.

    So…I’m not sure I could do that for 21 hours, much less 21 days.

    I did a no sugar/gluten thing once. Lasted about 5 days but broke down when I walked in my parents’ house and caught a whiff of white bread. Which was store-bought, in it’s plastic wrap, in the pantry in the kitchen. Even so, it smelled like what I imagine Heaven will smell like as I am shooed back out the Pearly Gates.

    Can’t wait to hear how it goes.

  • Alcohol, Sugar aaaannndddd (!) CAFFIENE?! Is that some kind of sick joke? That danged Oprah!

    Does she have a hybernation cave for me to crawl into during this “cleanse”? Because I’m telling you right now – those three things mentioned above are all my body runs on.

  • I like you, am always looking for ways to better myself. I can’t wait to see what comes of your journey. While I can’t see myself giving up meat or cheese, I know there are several changes that I NEED to make in my life and I wish you all the luck in the world with yours. My only question, didn’t Florida have fried food? See it’s okay to eat that stuff. Florida said so.point 🙂

  • GoVeg

    I was just really excited to hear that you are even considering eliminating meat from your diet. I have been vegetarian now for almost 15 years, but I am the first to say meat tastes good. I stopped eating it when as a 12 year old, aspiring veterinarian, and I realized that eating animals when I appreciated their unconditional love, companionship and individuality was beyond hypocritical. (Clearly, I was not a normal 12 year old.) When I was older, I learned to appreciate other aspects to becoming vegetarian that only strengthened my commitment: destruction of the environment, health, factory farming, etc.

    I’m sure you’re already aware of all these aspects, but while going organic and free-range is a step in the right direction (and better than simply eating meat indiscriminately), I don’t think it’s enough when it comes to animals. Keep in mind that organic is regulated by the FDA and refers only to pesticides, hormones, etc. Free range, however, is regulated very little (if at all) and is often used in a misleading fashion to imply that eggs/meat were produced/killed humanely when this is not necessarily the case.

    Good luck with your 3-week diet cleanse. As dedicated as I am to being vegetarian, I’m too lazy to be that disciplined!

  • Chloe

    So much for my recent plea for you to feature something about bacon!

    Best of luck on the cleansing.

  • making your cleanse public is definitely a big help — the more people you tell, the more you’ll feel accountable and will want to stick to it.

    i’m an avid cleanser, so i know it can be tough. stick it out, though. the results can be tremendous and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself in addition to feeling better physically! i haven’t tried this 21-day cleanse, but i’m checking it out now. might be the next one i do after my upcoming one in july!

    thanks for sharing and good luck!

  • A very inspiring post! I’m looking forward to reading more.

  • I like what Michael Pollen says in his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma:

    “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

    It’s doable, sensible, and flexible enough to live with for life.

    Bless Oprah- how many ways HAS she found to change her life? Bless us all for following her down all these paths.

  • rb

    Good luck with your cleanse.

    I would like to make what may be an unpopular comment.

    Please don’t become a prosletyzing vegetarian.

    I am meat eater. I grew up on a ranch and I know where my meat comes from. I am fine if my friends and acquaintances want to be vegetarians. I cook veggie burgers and veggie dogs for them when I have a bbq. But about the second or third time they decide to lecture me while I’m eating my hamburger is generally the last time we socialize.

  • 1) do you read all these comments?! wow.

    2) i just discovered you (i am a late bloomer) and have really been enjoying your style – candid, honest, sarcastic. it’s so damn refreshing.

    3) how in the world do you get so many coments?! i mean i write because i would die if i didn’t, but since i have to do it to stay alive, may as well get people to read it right? and then what if they read but don’t comment (which i confess i have been doing with you for weeks) how will the “big” people start to notice it and pay me! 🙂

    4) i am the biggest proponent of sefl-care that i know, so i say hells yes to women who refuse to sacrafice all that they are for everyone except themselves.

  • Ingrid

    To the people that are being critical a single diet will offer Heather all the changes she wishes to make in her life, you’re missing the point. She’s not saying the cleanse diet is going to make her organized. She’s just trying to make some overall improvements with her lifestyle, and eating healthier is among them.

    I used to suffer from incapacitating stomach problems, and most of them disappeared when I stopped eating meat five years ago.
    Be prepared though for the hoards of people asking you, “But where do you get your protein from?” and them being bewildered by the answer “From food”.

  • The thought of no alcohol for 21 days in the summer makes me shudder…no sangria or beer for trips to the beach or picnics in the park? And then I realized “Wow, the fact that I would miss alcohol the most out of that list of things I eat every day? That’s kind of sad.” Maybe I’m more in need of a cleanse than I thought. Best of luck with yours, Heather.

  • Cheese pizza? (Bring on the violence!)

    Good luck with your diet. I, myself, have been taking really small steps to becoming healthier. It first started off with kicking alcohol to the curb, followed by soda, and eventually junk food. Caffeine is the only thing that keeps me going, and I know that I will eventually have to kick that habit, too. Although, you did hear that new research shows that women who drink 2 cups of coffee every morning are less likely to have a heart attack, right? But then again, women who don’t drink coffee at all are less likely to be spastic caffeine addicts whose perfectly groomed hair will soon catch up with Einstein’s.

  • Sarah

    God Heather, you took the words right out of my mouth. I’m at work right now, and I just printed your gorgeous picture and taped it to my monitor to help get me through the rest of this week. Also, as so many people have said, I look forward to reading your updates on the cleanse. I’ve been toying with it for a long time, so maybe this will be the catalyst. As for the last paragraph, I wish I could give a fist bump. That’s exactly what I needed to read.

  • Good luck with your cleanse! Hopefully your wit and sense of humor doesn’t leave you like the toxins will.

  • Noimagination

    Congrats on your decision. It’s been 18 years since I ate meat, and I feel terrific both health-wise and about the fact that I do not participate in the barbaric and wasteful mass slaughter of animals. And since my husband has (mostly) given up meat, he hasn’t been sick at all. So there you go.

  • LG

    I am on day 9 of the cleanse and I honestly feel a million times better. Getting over the caffeine withdrawal headache was my hardest part – but lots of trips to the farmers market and Whole Foods has kept me going strong! Good luck, and don’t forget to throw in meditation or yoga or pilates or something – that really helps with the ‘awareness’ part of it all!

  • Nicole

    le siiigh, Heather. When I heard Oprah was doing that cleanse I was like “OH GREAT” now everyone is going to do it as a trend. Going vegan shouldn’t be a trend! It’s a lifestyle choice. I’m glad to hear you may stop eating meat after that, though. I hope your readers follow your example…but not as a trend.

  • Can I just say that I heart Destin so flippin’ much that when I saw the blue chairs and umbrellas in one of your pictures my eyes welled up with tears? We’re headed that way in a couple of weeks…so good for the soul. And please, unless you just organize the little area where you are about to take a photo every time you take a photo – your house looks pretty damn organized to me. But I can so relate to being tired of not being able to find things. UUUGGGHHH. I have too much stuff. Have you read “It’s All Too Much?” You should. Did you see the Oprah 2 day show where the author of that book (Walsh? maybe?) worked with this lady who is a hoarder? OMG. I am so sorry I am blogging in your comments. The end.

  • Lou

    youreawesomeyoureawesomeyoureawesomeyoureawesome. I always thought you were awesome, but now I feel this overpowering urge to say it!

  • Good luck, and thanks for sharing your 21 day cleanse with us, I hope it has the results you’re looking for! Here’s to Florida every day!
    🙂 Becky

  • Good luck with your cleanse! I look forward to hearing how you are feeling each day!

    I am of the opinion that a vacation is never REALLY a vacation for a mother. Who packs and plans and unpacks and cleans and…well, you get the idea. Always ME.

    I HATE vacations. For me it only means squeezing everything I do on a daily basis into a hotel room (or a one room cabin as the case may be)…and then the clean up afterwards. Ugh!

  • Mandy

    I hope all goes well in the next few weeks!

    But, is Coco OK? My little guys have bouts with gastroenteritis, and the vomiting can be a really serious symptom. I hope she’s feeling better soon.

  • Looking forward to followng the progress. I would rather hear your experience with the cleanse than anything that oprah has to say.
    Just sayin’.

  • But do they have to call it a “cleanse?” It would be way more appetizing if they just called it something else. Anything else.

  • victoria

    Good luck! I’ll be fascinated to know how the cleanse works for you.

  • Good for you! I’m looking forward to reading about the cleanse. Maybe some day I’ll actually try it but no cheese! That seems like some sort of sin.

    I’ve been there with the dog diarrhea all. over. the. place. You have to fight the gag reflex while you scrub every inch of it out of the carpet. Ew.

  • kerri

    fyi, some doctors believe there’s a connection between sinus infections and dairy. sounds like jon should try a cleanse diet too…and a good chiropractor (for sinuses? i know, sounds crazy, but you’d be surprised). can’t hurt to try. good luck!

  • Anonymous

    I see how you are. Just when you’ve convinced me to take up bourbon, you go ahead and give up, err… well, everything. So sneaky!

  • jvashus

    I’ve been “leaning into it” as Kathy says. I did the cleanse for 7 straight days and felt a huge difference. The biggest difference was the lack of cravings I had! Now I’m going without sugar, gluten, alcohol, caffine and dairy during the week. On the weekends I let myself slip a little. It’s been working wonders! Good luck and I’m anxious to hear your updates!

  • Juice Box Hero

    “especially since the recent chaos is only going to get more chaotic”

    I think that’s the second time you’ve referenced the notion that things will soon be getting crazier over at the Blurbodoocery (sp?). I’ll stay tuned to see what happens.

    Good luck with the cleanse!

  • Kate D.

    I was surprised how easy kicking caffine was when I recently discovered that I had reason to, at the very least, cut down on the caffine intake. I had a slight headache the first day, but after that I’ve been fine. I do admit I have a big iced decaf every morning however.

    Quiting smoking, for the same recently discovered reason, on the other hand, sucks-donkey-turds.

    But doing both has made me very interested in the 21 day cleanse so I’ll be following with interest.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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