Manic Rambling Spiral
Manic Rambling Spiral (MRS) is a podcast about single parenting, but it’s not a parenting podcast. Rather, MRS is a podcast about living life – having a life, a career, and a self – in a setting that is constantly dictated by, built around and sabotaged by our children.
165: Is this thing on?
Wed, 10 Mar 2021
We’re back. Sort of. Changes are imminent, and we think you’ll pee your pants. It’s been a while so please excuse the awkward as we settle in behind the mic.
Also, does John’s voice trigger ASMR or what.
164: School Comes Home
Thu, 23 Apr 2020
In addition to everything else happening as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, kids around the world are suddenly at home for school. But despite some of the smug homeschool memes and comments floating around, this isn’t homeschool. And it’s not easy. So take it from John (a homeschooling parent): you’re not crazy for being completely overwhelmed.
163: Come On Eileen
Thu, 19 Mar 2020
We didn’t plan for this to be about COVID-19, but most of the world didn’t plan for anything that’s happening right now. As everyone scrambles to understand social distancing and isolation while grappling with the unknown, Heather and John talk about school closure and the state of the country before spiraling into a more serious conversation related to teenage emotions.
162: MRS Turns 4
Thu, 12 Mar 2020
Our first episode landed on St. Patrick’s day 2016 and, four years later, we’re still kicking. Admittedly, we’ve been kicking a lot less lately, but we’re back to explain why, talk about Heather’s weight (have you noticed?), provide an update compared to where we were four years ago, and tease some exciting changes coming to MRS (for real this time; they’re going to be amazing).
161: In Memory of Coco
Thu, 30 Jan 2020
After more than 12 happy years of squawking, barking, and being herded by her favorite business partner, Heather and her family said their final goodbyes to Dame Eleanor Ritzford-Fitzsimons “Coco” Puffs. Heather shares some of those final moments as we discuss the significance of dogs and their place in our homes.
160: Out With the Old
Thu, 19 Dec 2019
Wrapping up the year with our first monthly episode.Wondering about John, Lexton, and Lilly? We covered that. Curious about Heather’s gut? We covered that, too. We also talk a bit about mail, resolutions, teens (ugh teens), organization, and meditation. Like we said before: Same MRS, just a little less often.
159: Change is Afoot
Thu, 14 Nov 2019
Get it? A FOOT? Because Heather’s foot? Perfect. Now that you’re smiling about that we can let you know that you’re going to be hearing from us less often. A lot less often. As in only once a month. Why? There are a lot of reasons, but “Life” is probably the best summary.
158: Fun with Fur and Feet
Thu, 07 Nov 2019
We never know where we’re going or how we get there, but maybe that’s part of the charm? Anyway, Heather’s getting some answers, John’s a Furminator convert, and Marlo is Marlo (which is somehow also very Lexton). Also: Dog socks.
157: We Call it Hygge
Thu, 24 Oct 2019
What does laundry share in common with cold, leftover nachos? Comfort. Yes, cold nachos provide comfort and we’re ready to die on this hill. Sure, we are open to other opinions, but you know what they say: it’s not a difference of opinion, you’re just ill-informed.
156: Reddit for Relationships
Thu, 17 Oct 2019
We talk about more than Bumble (you know you want an update), but John’s text to Heather is probably the best description for this episode. “Without fail, the women on this app are in three distinct categories: 1. Want kids, 2. Don’t want a relationship, 3. Way out of my league. However, even if nothing in their bio is a fit, I always swipe right on the women who look like they could kick my a$$.”
155: A Dating App Newcomer
Thu, 10 Oct 2019
It finally happened. John joined the online dating scene and it’s as confusing and empty as he’s always imagined. It has, however, made him realize how many people are terrible at taking selfies. But don’t worry, MRS’s resident optimist is staying hopeful. Just kidding! All is lost.
154: The Price of a Pet
Thu, 03 Oct 2019
An update on Coco (a pupdate?), some commentary on Halloween, and a discussion on how much our pets are worth. What’s that? We’re heartless and evil? Yeah, okay, probably, but that should have been clear years ago. And don’t worry, we take a softer approach when discussing orthodontics and swimming.
153: Canines and Curriculum
Thu, 26 Sep 2019
We moved right from Elizabethan collars into pop punk- and it wasn’t a smooth transition. That’s John’s fault. But somehow we still managed to cover homeschool curriculum, the climate, and a bit about vaccinations. If this seems chaotic, you should see our texts.
152: Fitted and Folded
Thu, 19 Sep 2019
Sure, we took a week off due to both of us being sick, but we didn’t actually get a week off. There were endoscopies to be had, sheets to be folded, and puppies to be chased. And this weed won’t just eat itself.
151: Injury and Insult
Thu, 05 Sep 2019
It’s been a busy week without any travel or big changes. How so? Well, Heather’s foot is still an issue, her GI tract is making waves, and John’s battling school policy. Oh yeah, there was also an incident with a gun at Leta’s school. Don’t worry, it’s not all somber and sad.
150: Boots and Bowels
Thu, 29 Aug 2019
Somehow this episode came full circle. From boots and bus stops to pets and school routines, we cover a lot and bookend the whole thing with bowels. Sometimes we even surprise ourselves, but not as much as Leta will surprise herself when she finally understands that a car does not steer itself.
149: Don’t Forget to Steer
Thu, 22 Aug 2019
Another week, another couple dozen lessons in stress management. But we’re still taking our own advice and letting things slide. Invasive dogs, oversleeping teens, and even the thought of complete obliviousness behind the wheel of a large metal box hurtling at other objects. One of these days the dogs are definitely going to make us snap, though.
148: Slow Down
Thu, 15 Aug 2019
Weird title for a show called “Manic Rambling Spiral,” but here we are. Heather ditched her FitBit and her Apple Watch and, as a result, a whole lot of anxiety; so this week is focused (eventually) on slowing down, taking things in stride, and some very relevant advice from an Englishman in a Dutch bar. And yes, MRS is back from break.
147: From Paris to Puppies
Thu, 04 Jul 2019
Socialized medicine doesn’t disappoint, especially when the phenomenon of “hot doctor” clearly exists in all countries. But John’s doctor? Nah. He prefers the shotgun approach. And yes, we also talk about Lilly.
146: Friends and Fashion
Thu, 27 Jun 2019
John and Heather are both facing some child-free time, and it’s going to be glorious. We bask in that notion, discuss friendships as an adult, and even touch on Heather’s questionable fashion decisions. We’d say everything is related, but that probably isn’t true.
145: No Topic Needed
Thu, 20 Jun 2019
We had a meetup last week! It was great. To say “thank you!” to everyone who joined us, we spent most of this episode talking about healthcare. That wasn’t really the plan, but that’s how things go around here. We also touched on John’s dog, the woes of air travel, and a couple apologies related to Ep 144.
144: Reunited at Last
Thu, 13 Jun 2019
We got the band back together. Well, the band never really broke up, but Heather and John are in the same (hotel) room recording MRS for the first time ever and we’re talking about Chicago and homelessness and also teeth. It was easy. Mostly. A little awkward because we also recorded a video. So, yeah, that’s a thing.
143: Musical Therapy
Thu, 06 Jun 2019
A topic! We have a topic! It’s music, and we almost don’t stray from it. This week we’re talking about some of the music we enjoy, the beauty of a truly sad song, a dog whose alias is “Taco,” and is that tickle you just felt behind your ear a tick? Better check.
142: Making Small Talk
Thu, 30 May 2019
You find out a lot about people when you take the time to start a conversation. Does this apply to Stephen Dorff? We may never know, will we, HEATHER? That’s okay. We have bigger things to worry about like an MRS meet-up in Chicago – suggestions welcome! – and an Instagram account for John’s dog.
141: An MRS Overhaul
Fri, 24 May 2019
You’ve kept us up and running for over three years (3 YEARS!), and now it’s time for our little podcast to grow and change. How? We’re figuring that out and, with your help, we know it’s going to be amazing. But, as you’ll notice in this episode, we’ll still be rambling.
140: Fun Facts About Sleeping
Thu, 16 May 2019
If there are two takeaways from this week, they are as follows: Heather sleeps naked, John does not. Does this information have anything to do with John’s puppy, the half marathon he ran, teen independence, or the last couple weeks of Heather’s book tour? No. And, honestly, it’s not even related.
139: There Will Be Bandaids
Thu, 02 May 2019
What do book tours and bandaids have in common? A lot. It’s sort of like the relationship between diarrhea and a week of stressful schedule juggling. You know, peas and carrots, poop and planes. We also talk a bit about puppies, but let’s be honest: The Valedictorian deserves the mic this week.
138: The Book Tour Begins
Thu, 18 Apr 2019
Heather hits the road next week for her book tour, so of course we talked about misplaced socks, pantyhose, and toxic plastics that make their way into cosmetics. But we also talked about her book – The Valedictorian of Being Dead – which comes out on April 23. John says, “It’s a hell of a read.” Because it is.
137: It’s All Puppies
Thu, 11 Apr 2019
At least 75% of this episode is about dogs and puppies and the horrors of pet ownership because John is a dog person now. Why? Honestly, he has no idea, but his hands are covered in bite marks, he’s tired all the time, and his life is now even less his own. So, yeah, Heather was right: It’s worse than having a baby.
136: Type A Chaos
Thu, 04 Apr 2019
Renovations, broken boilers, puppies, and John’s resistance to help even when it’s generously offered. It’s all loosely related. And somehow we still manage to touch on teenage emotions near the end because we’re making rambling an art form.
135: Breaking Millennials
Thu, 28 Mar 2019
It’s Spring Break. We could’ve easily talked about the woes of that for an hour. However, we still managed to discuss university selection, unfair expectations placed on teens, and career choices. In other words, we don’t get a Spring Break.
134: Mostly Public Speaking
Thu, 21 Mar 2019
Wandering tangents seem to be the way of things around here lately. This week it’s James Blake, the joy of celebrity interaction, Marlo’s public speaking finesse, and The Legend of Zelda. But don’t worry, that’s only a fraction of what we covered, so it’s still your weekly dose of, “What the hell was that about?”
133: Spring Forward Feverishly
Thu, 14 Mar 2019
We’re ringing in the time change in style. As always. Moderate injury, serious fever, and a healthy dose of feeling all together a little off have marked the last week or two. Also, a friendly reminder that if you’re suddenly feeling a surge in anxiety or depression, the time change has a way of contributing to that. It’s not just you.
132: Hot Doctors
Thu, 28 Feb 2019
Why do people looking their absolute best have to be the ones who see you at your absolute worst? We don’t have an answer, but that’s just what happens. Every time. Even when someone has to navigate a camera to your colon. Life has jokes, and Heather was just the butt of one of them. Like, actually the butt. At least True Detective is good.
131: Announcements and Bowels
Thu, 21 Feb 2019
Heather has a newsletter and some GI business to attend to. John has a newsletter and perfectly functioning bowels. Some things just aren’t fair, that’s why there’s Miralax. #notsponsored
130: Replicating Childhood
Thu, 14 Feb 2019
Yeah, we spiraled again, but we also found ourselves looking back at how we were raised and how those experiences affect our parenting today. Less “get off our lawn” and more about what we want our kids to experience. Also, Leta turned 21. Maybe these spirals are more productive than we thought?
129: Random Rambles
Thu, 07 Feb 2019
How did we get from A to B? Your guess is as good as ours. But it’s not our fault that audiobooks, Mormon mission trips, forgetful teens, the weather, and black eyes are all related. Life is weird. We just go with it.
128: Attendance is Mandatory
Thu, 31 Jan 2019
After John’s extended fanboy moment about Heather’s book (side note: It’s incredible and you want to read it and probably give a copy to everyone you know), we’re talking a little bit about teens, growing to emotionally process increasing responsibility, and the importance of attending funerals. We’re pretty sure it all fits together.
127: Dating Forecast
Thu, 24 Jan 2019
It’s winter and the weather is awful and life keeps plowing forward. So, naturally, in the thick of this mess John is sort of possibly dabbling in the dating world and OH WOW IS THAT A THING. He’s bad at it? Maybe? Only one way to go from here?
126: Unhealthy Healthcare
Thu, 17 Jan 2019
We’re talking about insurance again. And mental health. And the absurdity of dealing with medical needs in the US. Why? Because it needs to be talked about until it changes and we’re happy to initiate the conversation.
125: Grab Bullying by the Phone
Thu, 10 Jan 2019
Bullying has always been a problem, but technology is creating new platforms and increasingly removed ways to hate and harm. Spurred by a jarring episode involving Marlo, we’re talking about bullying, emotions, and the way judgment and blame continue to shape a generation.
124: Stumbling into 2019
Thu, 03 Jan 2019
Another year… and you know what? We’re excited for it (even John). Sure, we’re getting older and keeping blood pressure journals, but that’s life. As long as there are no formal parties with dress codes in the near future, we’re downright optimistic.
123: Ho Ho Hum
Thu, 20 Dec 2018
OH MY GOD. Are we whining about the holidays? No, not really. Just marveling at the passage of time and the value of hiring movers while catching our breath. We also spend a surprising amount of time talking about breakfast cereal.
122: “A Single Man”
Thu, 13 Dec 2018
It’s official. John is a homeowner! And his relationship status? That’s permanently established via legal documents. Super awesome. Regardless, this is a big step. And Heather? Well, she’s helping her mom move, nursing a stubbornness injury, and contemplating mortality. Life is wild.
121: Holidays and Whatnot
Thu, 06 Dec 2018
What happened this week? What day is it? Just kidding, we never really know. Between high-school dances, holiday gifts, packing, and ironing sheets (there’s always time for that), everything is a blur. Unless you’re Leta, and you’re making a 10-year plan.
120: A Semi-Uncomfortable Comfort Zone
Thu, 29 Nov 2018
The holidays are a crazy time that brings many together and makes others feel extremely alone. So yes, it’s sort of another episode about loneliness, but we feel it’s an important topic because we’ve spent years stubbornly making ourselves alone. Sort of.
119: Look Up
Thu, 22 Nov 2018
Heather’s back from Rome, John’s buying a home, and the holidays are here. Moral of the story: No rest for the weary or the wicked or the parents, and if you fit into more than one category, buckle up. Happy Thanksgiving!
118: Drama and Contacts
Thu, 08 Nov 2018
We recorded this on Election Day too early to talk about polls, so instead we decided to focus on monster trucks, contact lenses, and some other odds and ends. A bit of a life download before we take next week off.
117: Make Change
Fri, 02 Nov 2018
The month has changed, the season continues to change and, if you live in the US, you can help make change on November 6. Vote for something better. Vote for those who’ve had their voices silenced. Just vote. Maybe even listen to this episode on your way to the polls.
116: Happier Parenting
Thu, 25 Oct 2018
We’re thrilled to have KJ Dell’Antonia join the spiral to talk to us about changing perspectives, realistic expectations, and her her new book: “How to Be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life and Loving (Almost) Every Minute.” Wait, are we being optimistic? Yeah, but don’t worry. We still complain a little.
115: Rebrand for Jesus
Fri, 19 Oct 2018
Hard to believe we can somehow go from missing a week to covering the removal of wisdom teeth, limiting screen time, and remaining responsive and flexible as parents; all in one episode, but that’s our gift. What does Jesus have to do with any of this? Just trust us.
114: Read the Room
Thu, 04 Oct 2018
Fortunately and unfortunately, the current happenings in the United States continue to offer great starting points for important conversations with our kids. This week, these talks involve accountability, the power of “no,” and how to not be a jerk when you’re in a Senate hearing.
113: Looking for a Plus for Pleats
Thu, 27 Sep 2018
Does the awkward feeling of being a teenager in Abercrombie fade when you get older? Nope! It just blends with our inability to understand high waists, pleats, and good ‘ol Chuck Taylors. Guess that’s all part of pursuing fashion with kids.
112: It’s September Again
Thu, 20 Sep 2018
“In like a lion,” isn’t a saying attached to September, but it feels like it should be. From shattered phone screens to some time-struggles associated with homeschool, this is your annual reminder that September is hell. Be kind to yourself.
111: Take that Tone
Thu, 13 Sep 2018
We decided to focus on discipline and… haha! Just kidding. It’s really about the luxuries of leisure pooping and feelings of complete exhaustion, but we do occasionally come back to discipline and having a no-nonsense way of letting your kids know they need to quit being jerks.
110: Slowly Settling In
Fri, 07 Sep 2018
Missed buses, different boob sizes, and baby steps in the right direction. We’re still settling in to our recent big changes – a blended family for Heather, homeschooling for John – and realizing that it’s going to take a while. We’ll probably survive.
109: In Favor of Easy
Thu, 30 Aug 2018
Sponsored by Kraft
We’ve talked about food and family meals and picking your battles and now, with Heather’s blended family and John’s homeschool adventures, we’re all about easing dinner prep however we can. So when Kraft reached out about their new Kraft Mac and Cheese Frozen Meals, we ditched the plain noodles and raided the local freezer section before even answering the email.
108: Homeschool Bound
Thu, 23 Aug 2018
The chaos of normal life has felt a little dull on John’s end, so he decided to homeschool his son. Because how hard could it really be to homeschool a 14-year-old, run a business, and tread water while juggling? Whatever happens, he won’t miss the endless agony of math homework.
107: A BIG Move
Thu, 16 Aug 2018
Wait. Heather’s moving again? Hell yes she is! She loves to move! She loves to pack! She loves to unpack! She loves boxes! The only minor difference this time around is that you could probably also say she’s moving for love. As for John, he’s pretty excited for her.
106: Good to be Back
Thu, 09 Aug 2018
It’s been a while but our little summer hiatus has come to an end. Feels good to get back behind the mic, catch up, and what the hell do you mean Leta is no longer registered for school that can’t be possible!?
105: Civility is Overrated
Thu, 05 Jul 2018
Things in America are a bit of mess, but somehow taking a stand against hate seems to bother people. Sure, we’re all for civility when it makes sense. But that time is not now. The place is not America. And we see no reason to be civil when so many are being treated without any civility at all.
104: Shout Outs!
Thu, 28 Jun 2018
Long overdue Patreon shout outs! Thanks everyone! And a special shout out to Leah who happened to recognize John in wild. Also, a little bit on body glitter, outdoor music festivals, and that we’re absolutely okay with you saying “Hi!” if you see either of us out and about.
103: Children. In. Cages.
Thu, 21 Jun 2018
It’s 2018 and the United States is forcibly separating children from their parents and then holding them in makeshift camps. We don’t have a solution, but this needs to be talked about nonstop. This IS America, but it doesn’t need to be.
Fortunately, 24 hours after we recorded, Trump signed an executive order stopping the separation of families, but this mess continues as there’s no word on how those separated will be reunited. This will forever be a scar on America, and there is nothing we can do to every truly fix the damage done to those most affected.
Thu, 14 Jun 2018
Last week, the world lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. As a result, mental health was again the center of conversation, and we thought it was time to again address the topic. We all need to keep talking about it. We all need to be checking in. We all need to remove the stigma.
101: Life Lessons
Wed, 06 Jun 2018
Promotion crises, teen hormones, and preparing for summer. The end of 8th grade is a pretty significant transition, and here we are. OH MY GOD. And it’s summer break already? How does this even happen?
100: Accents Etc.
Thu, 31 May 2018
British accents, miles of wandering, and a little (SPOILER) Gilmore tangent at the end. This is a big milestone – Episode 100! – so it only seems right that we stay true to our spiraling roots.
099: London Spiral
Thu, 24 May 2018
Travel, planning, and taking a diet on the road. That’s sort of the focus. Maybe. Then again, we also touch on tea, colon surgery, and “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Yes, it’s a little shorter than normal, but we cover some ground.
Thu, 17 May 2018
Standards of beautify for women are often toxic and impossible to achieve. Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Jenny McQuaile joins us to talk about her newest film, “Straight/Curve: Redefining Body Image,” which highlights the industry leaders working to transform these standards and help the world recognize the reality of beauty.
097: The Entertainers
Thu, 10 May 2018
As parents, we would kill to feel genuine boredom, but our kids don’t exactly share our interest in doing nothing. And they expect us to overcome these lackluster moments for them. Somehow, go, go, go and then go some more has become the norm. What happened to— oh my god Marlo you can figure it out yourself!
096: Be Grateful, Dammit!
Thu, 03 May 2018
Parenting is perfect and wonderful and there isn’t ever a time at which you should express exhaustion or frustration. AMEN. At least that’s what the concern trolls want to make sure we all know. But the truth is, parenting is hard, sometimes your kids are terrible, and it’s okay to admit defeat and/or disgruntled triumph. Even if everything still sucks.
095: Fair Isn’t Equal
Thu, 26 Apr 2018
Inclusion is critical to education, but Heather and John aren’t experts in that area, so John’s friend Emily is joining the spiral. Emily is a specialist in early childhood inclusion and a single parent to a son with special needs, and all parents and educators are going to want to hear what she has to say.
094: Here for the Cheesecake
Thu, 19 Apr 2018
Who knew Beyoncé was so amazing? And what about The Cheesecake Factory? Most people, probably, but not us. Until now. Yeah, it’s a big week on MRS. And Heather is DONE with her book.
093: Helmets and Heartbreak
Thu, 12 Apr 2018
Pain in every direction. That’s part of having kids. You’re forced to relive old injuries while also anticipating the pain that is yet to come. And you have to cope with all of that while working around that damn doctor’s appointment you scheduled six months ago.
092: Close the Rings
Thu, 05 Apr 2018
Break is over, Heather’s deadline is looming, time is again compressing, and John’s life is controlled by a watch. On the bright side, Marlo’s illness passed quickly, Lexton’s birthday was seamless, and free-range children are the new cage-free eggs. So, normal week.
091: Restorative Justice
Thu, 29 Mar 2018
Time to talk about racism. Again? ALWAYS. And this week we’re joined by Kelly Wickham Hurst, founder of Being Black at School, to talk about education and what it’s like for those living in the margins. Is Kelly a “policy wonk?” Damn straight she is, but she’s also so much more.
090: Rambling Equinox
Thu, 22 Mar 2018
As the changing daylight hours send anxiety into overdrive, we’re staring down spring break and asking, “What the hell?” Of course, tangents are in full swing as we discuss laxative tea, folding clothes, and some part-time jobs of years past.
089: Spring Forward and Stumble
Thu, 15 Mar 2018
Sit down, strap in*, and get ready for a back to basics episode. Everything from Patreon- Hey! We launched our campaign! – and piano, to Daylight Savings Time; and the complete, unabridged history of Heather’s sex toy ownership. That last part isn’t a joke.
088: Tanlines for Toddlers
Thu, 08 Mar 2018
In 2012, Tanlines (Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm) released their first album and Heather was hooked. She told John to listen and he soon had the album on repeat. Eventually, John’s son followed suit. Now, the electronic/indie duo’s newest EP, “Presents”, puts a very Tanlines spin on classic kid’s songs and Jesse joins the spiral to talk about the new album, music, identity, self awareness, and parenting. Oh. And the cuteness of babies.
087: Beyond Paid Leave
Thu, 01 Mar 2018
Paid leave is important. So is supporting new parents. The Center for Parental Leave Leadership (CPLL) is helping companies and employees successfully navigate parental leave to improve the experience for everyone involved. Amy Beacom, Founder and CEO of CPLL, joins the spiral to talk about how they’re making a difference.
086: Never Again
Thu, 22 Feb 2018
Another tragic school shooting, this time in Parkland, Florida. But something is different. People are paying attention. Because the students from Parkland refuse to be silenced until there is change. Now, as a nation, we must work to understand what needs to happen while helping our children feel safe.
085: A Healthy New Year
Thu, 15 Feb 2018
From smoothies with greens to extra-crunchy cruciferous salads (Sorry, LETA), we’re trying to stay as healthy as possible this cold and flu season. Extending these healthy habits to our kids isn’t always easy – just ask Heather’s kitchen tiles – but some convenient snacks make it possible. Sponsored by GoGo squeeZ.
084: The Cost of Zero Weeks
Thu, 08 Feb 2018
Paid family leaves means you’ll still be paid while taking time off to navigating family changes and emergencies (babies, medical issues, etc.). But in America, paid leave is almost nonexistent, and that’s a huge problem. Director Ky Dickens, our guest this week, set out to shine a light on this critical issue with her newest film, “Zero Weeks,” after having a child of her own.
083: The Guilt They Carry
Thu, 01 Feb 2018
Time for a somber reflection. What? You knew this was coming. Even John has been pretty optimistic lately. Now it’s time to ask how parenting affects our kids and the concept they have of how they fit into our bad moods.
082: Time to Eat Better Meat
Thu, 25 Jan 2018
This week, we’re joined by Mike Salguero, founder of Butcher Box and father to three girls who are three and under. How does he help families enjoy humanely-raised and independently-farmed meat delivered right to the doorstep while helping wrangle three kids? Honestly, we have no idea, but we tried to find out.
081: It Sucked and then I Died
Thu, 18 Jan 2018
Heather is writing a book! It’s not out until February 2019, but it’s about depression, a clinical trial that changed her life, and dying. Because, oh yeah, Heather died a few times to get to get better. Turns out there’s a way to do that! And John has kept it a secret this whole time. A keeper, that one.
080: Happy New News!
Thu, 11 Jan 2018
It’s a new year! That means resolutions, goals, fresh starts and whoa, Heather, it’s time to address the elephants in the room. One at a time, of course, because everything in moderation.
079: The Other Side
Thu, 28 Dec 2017
Christmas is over. Everyone is exhausted. The New Year is days away. We’d love to say it’s a sprint to the finish, but it’s a bit of a limp. Survival isn’t always glamorous.
078: A Pseudo Year-in-Review
Thu, 21 Dec 2017
Lots of bad happened in 2017. But there was also a lot of good. A dash of hope. Water rushing from the ceiling. And oh! Let us tell you a road trip story! Yeah, it’s one of those episodes.
077: Invest in Tissues
Thu, 14 Dec 2017
Cold season is back. *blow your nose* Tissues are everywhere. *blow your nose* Sometimes we snap at our kids even when we know we shouldn’t. *blow your nose* Please tell us we’re not alone? *blow your nose*
076: Keep It In Your Pants
Thu, 07 Dec 2017
We recorded on Dec. 5 and woke up the next day to see that Time’s Person of the Year 2017 is ‘The Silence Breakers.’ We’re happy to add our voices to this important conversation. Everywhere you turn, it seems another high-profile man is being taken down by sexual harassment. “Keep your hands to yourself” should be easy enough, but it seems many men missed that basic life lesson. Now we’re thinking about how to approach the subject with our kids.
075: Holiday Pressure
Thu, 30 Nov 2017
There’s a lot of stress around the holidays. Between kids being home and efforts to make everything perfect, it’s enough to ruin the whole season. Light-up baby Jesus to the rescue!
074: Mostly Thankfulness
Thu, 23 Nov 2017
Holiday advice from MRS: Don’t make it your goal to ruin Thanksgiving with politics. Be open, be kind, and lead by example. However, we definitely took a low-road detour this time around, so that statement is a little hypocritical. Thanks for sticking with us, everyone!
073: Coping with Bullies
Thu, 16 Nov 2017
Kids are a-holes. Okay, that’s probably a bit of a sweeping statement; but, when your child is faced with bullies, it’s the first thing that comes to mind. And it brings back a flood of memories about how hard life can be when you’re an insecure 13-year-old who’s just trying to figure things out.
072: I Say Jesus, You Say Jesus
Thu, 09 Nov 2017
Politics, religion, and Twitter. The big three. Sort of. Now that we think about it, it’s sort of surprising that sex didn’t come up at all. We’ll try harder next week.
071: Decline to Recline
Thu, 02 Nov 2017
John is back from Hong Kong, and we’re talking travel, jet lag, basic airplane courtesy, and service jobs. Why service jobs? Because they’re rough, people can be terrible, and we’ve both been there so we totally get it.
070: Maintaining A Budget
Thu, 26 Oct 2017
Teaching kids about finances is important and usually the best way to do that is to demonstrate budget-savvy behavior. But that’s not always easy. And sometimes it’s a unique challenge when you’re self-employed.
069: Let’s Talk About Wills
Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Yes. We’re talking about living wills. It not super uplifting, but it’s an important topic. Also, Heather managed to bring up orgasms, so it’s not completely grim.
068: Fall Risk
Thu, 12 Oct 2017
Health care, independence and, on yeah, John’s brief hospital stay are all part of this week. We also talk about peeing with an audience and international travel because we like variety.
067: Staying Level
Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Sometimes it’s tough to stay level-headed. Sometimes it feels damn near impossible when you have to do so while also trying to keep your kids relatively level. Hormones, parenting, life. Awesome.
066: Coffee or a Cause
Thu, 28 Sep 2017
From charities and organizations to individual creative pursuits and business startups, you can give money to a lot of different things. This week we’re talking about how and where we give and why we’re bringing MRS to Patreon. So tell us: Where should MRS go from here?
065: Throat Punch Thursday
Thu, 21 Sep 2017
For every up, there’s at least three downs. Sometimes real life feels a bit relentless. But we’re still not going to homeschool our kids even if that would make everything blissfully easy.
064: Xploding Guest
Thu, 14 Sep 2017
Twitter sensation James Breakwell (@XplodingUnicorn) joins MRS this week! He’s a father to four girls, he’s got a new book on the way (“Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse”) and he’s adding a lot to the conversation.
063: Learning Self Care
Thu, 07 Sep 2017
Life is hard. It’s easy to let yourself slip while trying to juggle everything else. Self care – in bad times and in good – is the only way to keep moving forward.
062: Back In Session
Thu, 31 Aug 2017
School’s in session! Our routines return! Everything is just as crazy as we imagined it would be! Moral: Learning is hard and it probably never gets any easier.
Thu, 24 Aug 2017
Call it survival if you must, but we’re trying to figure out how to compartmentalize so we can survive the day-to-day. Heather’s one step ahead on this one, but John is determined. Any suggestions?
060: Forgive Us, It’s Early
Thu, 17 Aug 2017
We recorded this three hours earlier than normal. Heather is still yawning, John hasn’t had coffee, and we spent way too much time talking about purses.
059: Well This Is New
Thu, 10 Aug 2017
Heather is back from Paris, John has some news, summer break is almost over (What the hell?). Funny how life can be beautiful and maddening at the same time.
058: Apart but Together? Nah.
Thu, 27 Jul 2017
Haven’t we already talked about being on the same page? Who knows. Probably. Either way, we’re at it again because sometimes there’s too much “co” in “co-parenting.” And how to work with the co-parent is the greenest evergreen topic there is in the world of single-parenting.
057: Climbing to Paris
Thu, 13 Jul 2017
Between travel, work, and parenting, we haven’t talked – or recorded – in a while. So we’re catching up, dropping balls, and holding on.
056: Breaking Again: Boredom, Balance, and Balls
Thu, 22 Jun 2017
It’s summer break, deadlines are looming, and our kids manage to find boredom like it’s going out of style. Funny how we still manage to think that all this insanity may eventually pass.
055: Issues: Lingering, Upcoming, Ongoing
Thu, 08 Jun 2017
Sometimes you’re attached for life, divorce or not. Who knew the courts would be easier to deal with than Comcast? NOT HEATHER. At least we know common courtesy is still a thing (people ignore).
054: Come Hither: What’s in a name? A lot.
Thu, 01 Jun 2017
When you get married (or enter a longterm relationship), you give things up. There are sacrifices. A last name is one of them in some cases. When you have kids, there are others, and this is us thinking out loud about all of these things.
053: We’ll be trippin’: A Bit About Time Away
Thu, 25 May 2017
Heather’s returning to life on an airplane before landing for a time in Paris when her girls are in New York. John’s looking at 10 days without a kid in tow and wondering what to do. Possible conclusion: DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING.
052: Doing A Pulse Check: Another look at mental health
Thu, 18 May 2017
Depression remains an evergreen topic for many people, including us. From children to adults, depression can tear apart families and make life seem unbearable. Here we talk about what has best served us in dark times and how reaching out to those who might be suffering could just be the lifeline they need.
051: Love Language: The emphasis here is on “Language.”
Thu, 11 May 2017
Mother’s Day is this weekend and we were going to honor our moms, but then Heather started talking about dick and the tone changed. Thanks, HEATHER.
050: Get Off Our Lawn: When did we turn 50?
Thu, 27 Apr 2017
Cars, GIFs, music and a bit of reminiscing. This is our 50th episode and somehow we ended up talking about the good ol’ days. Modern life is rubbish!
049: Two Haircuts, One Episode: This definitely spirals
Thu, 20 Apr 2017
Tornados, tonsillectomies, teenagers. We covered a lot of ground, but it would be a stretch to say that this came full circle.
048: Minivan Livin’: Non car people discussing cars
Thu, 06 Apr 2017
John’s shopping for a car, Heather’s thinking about a minivan, and they’re both completely wonderstruck by today’s newfangled vehicles. This episode is all about Bluetooth, hair bows, car payments, and Noah’s Ark.
047: Music at Heart: Guest Suzie Brown joins the spiral
Thu, 30 Mar 2017
Part-time mom, part-time singer-songwriter, part-time cardiologist, Suzie Brown joins us to talk about balancing her careers and catching her dreams in the process.
046: Full Circle: This is what happens when we go 10 days without talking to each other
Thu, 23 Mar 2017
“Ready, set, talk!” was this week’s method for recording. While trying to juggle this episode into our disjointed schedules, we covered cookies, weddings, teen privileges and probably some other things.
045: It’s Taxing: Everyone’s favorite season is here!
Thu, 16 Mar 2017
Tax season isn’t as exciting as it once was. Remember refunds? Or the days of not having to negotiate tax prep with your ex? Yeah. Good times.
044: Dads- The help we didn’t know we needed.
Thu, 09 Mar 2017
This week starts as a recap and then transitions into a ramble before turning into a focus on our dads and how awesome they are. We’d like to say that was intentional, but you’d know better than that.
043: The Upside to Downsizing: Ugh, moving
Thu, 02 Mar 2017
Heather’s moving and all hell is breaking loose. Though a smaller space can be a great thing, actually getting to that point is miserable. Here’s to a fresh start, a great new neighborhood and some semblance of sanity in the aftermath.
042: The Teen Transition: Bracing for the next 5 years
Thu, 23 Feb 2017
The teen years are upon us. That means dances, dating, and probably reliving a whole slew of things we’ve spent our adult years trying to forget. But the tumbleweed that is life just keeps tumbling onward.
041: Successful Crises: When little nuisances create big problems
Thu, 02 Feb 2017
From wifi issues to blizzards in Utah, sometimes it doesn’t take much to throw off the day. And when we have to deviate, all hell breaks loose, even if only in our heads.
040: Taking a Stand: Wanting to march in an inclusive direction
Thu, 26 Jan 2017
The Woman’s March on Washington was last week and we didn’t attend. Why? Well, it’s complicated. And that’s okay. Asking complicated questions, looking at issues with a critical eye, and listening—really listening—isn’t being divisive. It’s necessary. It’s how we learn to do better
039: Committing to a Promise: Easier said than done
Thu, 19 Jan 2017
It’s easier to make promises than it is to keep them. Especially when parenting. It’s helpful to realize that the only promises you can guarantee are those that are completely in your control. It’s even more helpful to not overuse the word “promise.” Or maybe just never use it at all.
038: Semi-Resolutions: Yes, it’s that time again.
Thu, 12 Jan 2017
Heather has a couple pseudo resolutions, John doesn’t have any, but we’re both trying to be optimistic for the year ahead. Sure, time is a construct and blah blah blah, but if turning a calendar page helps us cope, we’ll take it!
037: Stepping on Toes: Understanding Step-Parental Figures
Thu, 05 Jan 2017
We’ll admit it: Sometimes it’s hard to see our kids with their step-parental figures. And it’s even more difficult seeing our children posted on the internet by this third party. Maybe this all boils down to self awareness. Or common sense. Or both. Are we rambling? Of course, but we’re kind of on target.
036: Dividing the Holidays: Celebrating separately, together!
Thu, 22 Dec 2016
It’s that time of year again. John was alone for Thanksgiving and now Heather is looking at a solo Christmas. Is there a better way to make this work? That probably depends on who you ask.
035: A-OK With Admin Expenses
Thu, 15 Dec 2016
Now, more than ever, good organizations need your help.The holidays are stressful and 2016 continues to disappoint, but there’s work to do! Today we’re talking nonprofits (including Farm Forward, the organization Heather is working with), where your donations go, and what we plan to get – or not get – our kids for Christmas.
034: Music Foreveryone – Guest Steve Burns on music, emotions and his new album, “Foreverywhere.”
Thu, 08 Dec 2016
If you’ve had your eyes open at all since 1996, you know Steve Burns from Blue’s Clues. But now he’s making music. And it’s awesome. “Foreverywhere,” a psychedelic children’s album he made with with Seven Drozd of The Flaming Lips, is out in February 2017 so we’re talking music and whatever else rambled into the conversation.
033: The “I” in Team: Communicating with co-parents without becoming a crutch
Thu, 24 Nov 2016
There’s no team and there’s no backup. That ended when we went our separate ways. So how do we handle co-parenting discrepancies, difficulties and (unreasonable) requests? No, really. How? This high road is feeling pretty narrow and– Oh. We just slipped.
032: Post Election 2016: A Critical Look at our Stupified Whiteness
Thu, 17 Nov 2016
On November 8, less than half of the popular vote made Donald Trump the President-elect. The nation responded with tears, protests, letters and a symbolic debate over safety pins. Now we’re adding our voices to try and dissect what it all means to help preempt marginalized populations from losing more ground, and to try and figure out how to navigate the conversation at Thanksgiving.
031: Asking for Help – It’s not a weakness, but it feels like one
Thu, 03 Nov 2016
We’ve spent most of our lives intentionally not asking for help for various reasons and it’s a difficult habit to break. But if we want our kids to know it’s okay to ask, it’s probably time for us to demonstrate the action. Does that also mean accepting help when it’s offered? Ugh.
030: We’re Down with PTC: Sometimes Conferences Go Right
Thu, 27 Oct 2016
It’s conference season! You know what that means? Our kids get evaluated! Our parenting gets evaluated! Our flaws are highlighted! Time to crawl und– Wait. She what?
029: Manic Rambling Marathon: We ran the Chicago marathon. This is what we thought about it.
Thu, 20 Oct 2016
The 2016 Chicago Marathon was Heather’s third marathon and John’s first. It was marked by perfect weather, an amazing group of people from Every Mother Counts, and a great weekend overall. There was also pain, excitement, regret, no regret, a lost FitBit and profanity at mile 15.
028: Things That Don’t Matter
Wed, 05 Oct 2016
Alpacas, like life, are equal parts enjoyable and vicious, but it’s the experience that counts. Over the years, we’ve both decided that experiences are better than things. So with outdated computers and old phones, we look at enjoying life with the voracity of a dominant alpaca. Sort of.
027: Snot, Sniffles, and Some Thoughts
Thu, 29 Sep 2016
Heather is sick. Full stop.Marlo got sick and, out of love, shared it with Heather. Yes, kids really are fun! We could have cancelled the recording, but there’d be no adventure in that. So we plowed through and rambled on. You’re welcome. COUGH. Or we’re sorry?
026: Picking Battles with Picky Eaters
Thu, 22 Sep 2016
Choosing mealtime enjoyment over food fights and frustration.Cooking for one can be tricky. Cooking for one times two or three or more can be downright maddening. But if everyone is happy, well fed, and gathered around a table together, that has to count for something. Right? Fine. Warm your own damn burrito.
025: Evaluating the Replacement
Thu, 15 Sep 2016
Talking to kids about your ex’s new relationship.Introducing a new relationship is one thing, talking to your kids about this new person is something else entirely. From the high road and the cheap seats, we’re talking about what to say and not say when kids ask questions, apply labels, and hurl insults (that make you laugh).
024: Nature vs. Nurture vs. Hygiene
Thu, 08 Sep 2016
Because self care definitely doesn’t come naturally to kids.We both have 12-year-olds, and that means hygiene is becoming a topic of interest. From shaving legs, to applying deodorant, to a discussion regarding the delicacy of John’s nipples, this week is all about physical self care. Oh, and school lunch. But don’t worry, it comes full circle.
023: Bemoaning the Bell Schedule
Thu, 01 Sep 2016
School is back in session and we’re back in the corner whimpering quietly.Another school year already? How many two pocket poly folders? How about a nice Trapper Keeper? Is this really be happening? What grade? All this and more will be left unanswered in this week’s back-to-school spiral. Grab a Lunchable and enjoy!
022: Fun with Funeral Potatoes
Thu, 11 Aug 2016
Religion is a personal choice. How parents approach it with their kids should be as well. Amen.Heather is an atheist, John is an agnostic and their kids are little horned heathens. Just kidding. The kids are doing fine. So how do they raise kind, balanced humans without religion at the center of everything? Carefully, respectfully, and with the memory of funeral potatoes and Dan Quayle.
021: An Ode to Student Loans
Thu, 04 Aug 2016
We rambled again and somehow this is where we ended up.It’s funny how time away from our kids lets us step back a bit to reflect on past relationships, homework strategies, and being promiscuously Mormon. Even more amusing is how it all spirals into a lament about student loans (Heather doesn’t have any and John isn’t AT ALL bitter about that).
020: Parental Download
Thu, 28 Jul 2016
Co-parents usually enjoy a regular download of information, but single parents aren’t as lucky. This week we’re happy to be joined by Assistant Professor Hillary Hyde. As a single – or, rather, solo – parent with considerable professional experience working with children and families, she’s got a lot to add to our ongoing conversation. And she’s got a theory as to why some of this is so difficult. But just some of it.Photo Credit: Matthew Kulisch Photography
019: Start Seeing Color
Thu, 21 Jul 2016
Yes, we’re white. And yes, we’re probably wrong about a lot of this. But we need to be talking about race and we need to be talking to our kids about race and we need to try to do be better. To say things better. To be better.
018: Sanity Maintenance
Thu, 14 Jul 2016
Tackling our own mental health with openness, honesty, and kids at our sides.Mental health is important, but it’s difficult to maintain and “easy” to ignore (for a while). From deeply entrenched social stigmas to concerns regarding how to address things like anxiety and depression with our kids, it’s a lot to juggle. But mental health is one ball we won’t drop beca–oh hell. We dropped it. Five second rule!
017: Resenting Resentment
Thu, 07 Jul 2016
Discussing that special feeling you get when you resent the wrong people (your children) for the right reasons (maybe?)Is there difficulty and contentment? Yep! But there’s also a whole slew of misplaced frustration, resentment, and GUILT when you’re trying to do “what’s best” – whatever the hell that means – for your kids. Maybe that’s what happens when life is a bit like trial and error and error and error and “UGH! Why do you have to work!?”
016: Sharing Versus Caring
Thu, 30 Jun 2016
Deciding what we share about our kids has some complications now that we’re single parents. Deciding what to share in the social space (blogs, social media, PODCASTS) can be a big decision. When you have kids, that decision grows. When you get divorced or separated, it grows again. We’ve crossed our share of hurdles – and, ahem, mediators – to get to our current sharing state, but it still isn’t necessarily easy.
015: Summer Breaking Point
Thu, 23 Jun 2016
Looking forward, looking back, and looking a bit pruney.Burnout is real and so it summer break. This week we’re talking about how to tackle the day to day with our kids home for summer, lamenting the “good ol’ days” of being an unrestricted kid, and teaching Heather how to use the “Do Not Disturb” function on her iPhone.
014: Frat Boys on Vacation
Thu, 16 Jun 2016
The logistics, lamentations, and laughable ideals of traveling with kids.As our kids have gotten older, it’s become easier to travel with them but, in some ways, harder to travel without them. This week we talk about passports, travel permission letters, trashed hotel rooms, and when to remove – or NOT remove – your shoes.
013: A Tender Tinder Spiral
Thu, 09 Jun 2016
Sometimes this podcast is the only way we manage to catch up between travel, kid chaos, and texting random bits of insanity back and forth. This is one of those times. But mostly we just talked about cleaning, Tinder, the simple sexual expectations of men, and banana “ice cream.”
012: Divorce is Forever
Thu, 02 Jun 2016
We separated because we just wanted to be friends with our exes. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but we both think that staying on the best possible terms with them is in the best interest of our kids. So how do we make it work? Well, it’s gotten better, but we’re still figuring that out (one glass of bourbon at a time).
011: Nine Ways to Jesus, One Way to Chicago
Thu, 26 May 2016
This episode is a bit of a rambling spiral about Heather’s experience in Boston (one hell of an experience!), John’s decision to run the Chicago Marathon because Heather suckered him into it, and what these sort of endeavors mean to us as people and parents. Yeah, they mean we’re crazy, but it’s more than that.
010: Listener Stories and Medal Ceremonies
Thu, 19 May 2016
We’re finally sorting listener emails and directly addressing the “Pain Olympics.”
009: Talking to the Fence
Thu, 12 May 2016
What to say – or NOT say – to people who are trying to decide if they want to have kids.
008: Fine, it’s not ALL bad
Thu, 05 May 2016
Exploring contentment as a single parent.(as an aside, the cover art does not believe us)
007: A Genuine Rambling Spiral
Thu, 28 Apr 2016
Outlines be damned! Time to let the conversation flow!
006: A Love-Hate with Loneliness
Thu, 21 Apr 2016
Dealing with loneliness when you’re (almost) never alone
005: Run. Because you can’t hide.
Thu, 14 Apr 2016
Trying to Fit in Exercise When Your Kids Have other Plans
004: It’s Not OK, Cupid
Thu, 07 Apr 2016
Wading back into the dating pool while our kids wait (and wonder nervously) on the shore.
003: Sick as a Cat
Thu, 31 Mar 2016
Meeting Deadlines as a Parent When the Kids are Home Sick
002: She Eloped Without Me
Thu, 24 Mar 2016
Becoming a Single Parent When the Other Parent Remarries Without Warning
001: That Crazy River
Thu, 17 Mar 2016
Becoming a Single Parent When the Other Parent RelocatesWhat is ‘Manic Rambling Spiral?’ How did Heather B. Armstrong, queen of the mommy bloggers, become a full-time single parent? That wasn’t supposed to be a part of the script. And who the hell is John Bray?
Mon, 14 Mar 2016
Just what is Manic Rambling Spiral? Here’s a quick taste of it.