10/30/09 - Pre-Halloween

**Sorry this is late!! I got wrapped up in trying to peel my kids off the ceiling last night and forgot to post!**

Today was The Girl’s first picture day at preschool. So I dolled her up in the super cute clothes that Nana Ro sent her at the beginning of the school year from Ralph Lauren and she even let me brush her hair. The Boy was off of school (because I guess the teachers needed yet another planning day after having a week and half off for fall break and parent/teacher conferences) so I drug him along as the preschool had said siblings could get their pictures taken as well if they were around. So The Boy got studded up in his Ralph Lauren finery from Nana Ro as well and off we went. I thought it couldn’t be any worse than going to a photo studio right? Wow. Wrong. Moved as slow as dirt. So my entire morning went out the window, but I think they got some really sweet shots of the kiddos. So that makes it worth it right?

I did manage to get to Target for Halloween candy, so I was able to tick one thing off of my to-do list.

We came home, had some lunch and then I unleashed the kids on the neighborhood with all of their friends while I caught up on some computer stuff. And then a sweet friend emailed to say she had an extra Bumblebee costume lying around unused – oh joy!! So off we went to pick that up.

Our neighbors across the street had shared with me that the local YMCA was doing a big Halloween celebration tonight, so I had been mulling over whether or not subject myself and my husband to that on a Friday night. Once I found out that ALL of the kids’ neighborhood friends were going, we have decided to take them. One of the neighbor moms (who has 5 boys who are so utterly wonderful with my children that I can’t help but adore her) said they were going to feed them dinner and everything, so it’s a killer deal at $3 a kid.

So off we go, to see how hopped up on sugar we can get both of our children before they just shut down completely.



I had a totally irresponsible day of getting absolutely nothing done. I spent a good portion of the day chatting with my college roommate and driving back and forth to The Girl’s preschool. I should have dealt with the massive pile of dishes that’s been sitting on the counter for the last two days. I should have a done a number of things. Well, I guess I did go grocery shopping, which really needed to happen. So I guess that’s one productive thing I managed to do today. But other than that? I got nothing. So I was struggling to decide what to write about and decided to Google it. Yep. That’s right, I just typed in “What should I write about?” And here’s a sampling of what I got:

“The 10 Things You Gotta Know About Choosing a College and 10 Things You Gotta Know About College Application Essays.” Very interesting. I might actually read that one since I never even wrote college application essays. Grad school writing samples? Yes. College essays? Not so much. Them’s the benefits of knowing the Dean of Admissions.

“What kinds of things should I write about? .... Should I still write about what I love or what people want, or both…” Yeah. Been there, done that.

“The Top 25 things you should never write in your blog…” I’m not even going to read any further because I’m sure I’ve done every single one of this person’s 25 things and I’d rather not second guess 10 months of relatively solid writing.

“Write a new couch gag for the opening credits of The Simpsons; Tell me a knock knock joke; Describe yourself in five words” Ok, there’s no way that I could write a new couch gag for The Simpsons – I’m just not that clever and after 16 years on the air, I’m pretty sure that there isn’t anything they haven’t already done or at least thought of. I have two small kids so the only knock, knock jokes I know are really just goofy rambling to the general rhythm of “knock, knock! Who’s there?” And describe myself in five words? How about romantic, sarcastic, lovely, impossible and mother?


Ramping up the Research

I might like the lead-up to Christmas more than the actual holiday. I love all the research that goes into getting presents for the people I love. I work on the ideas all year long; paying attention to what friends and family mention throughout the year that they’d like to have or need. But it’s this time of year where it kicks into high gear for me.

I have some friends who aren’t happy unless all of their holiday shopping is done by Halloween, Thanksgiving at the latest. And I have an equal number of friends who are still thinking and plotting (and shopping) until the last few days before Christmas. I usually get done before I’m really ready to be done, which usually leads to, ahem, over-spending. So I’ve got the whole thing down to sort of a fine science. Because I have to make sure I’m done shopping and ready to give gifts right before Christmas, or else I’ll keep looking for other stuff and that is a budget breaker right there.

But I’ve started the research for this year already. Starting to formulate ideas and doing the research to decide if those ideas merit further action, i.e. a request to the grandparents or a higher priority on our budgetary list. I keep a running wish list on the Toys R Us website that I continually add to and take away from as the kiddos’ interests ebb and flow. But it’s all the plasticky, everyday sort of toys that they see commercials for or see their friends playing with. Right now for The Boy, that means all things Star Wars and Transformers. For The Girl that means all things Barbie and Disney Princesses.

The other things however are the ones that take the most research. Like trying to find a great gymnastics class that we can afford for The Girl, which I think she would love. And trying to find a club for the boy where gets a new book once a month (do those still exist?).

Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday. All the research leading up to lit up faces on Christmas morning as those I love open the perfect gifts.


Tales from the Trenches

My husband is an insurance claims adjuster for a huge company and he occasionally brings home stories that he or one of his coworkers has dealt with during the course of their day. He doesn’t do it often because his area of specialty is bodily injury claims from car accidents. And as much as I try to support him and be interested in what he does, I don’t really have any desire to hear about how many people get hurt every single day. And I’ve made this fact abundantly clear over the last 6 years that he’s been doing this. Having a mother who barely survived a car accident has pretty much put me at saturation when it comes to hearing about vehicle accidents of any kind.

But today, he brought home a story from one of his coworkers that works in the property department and it’s a doozy to be sure. Apparently a man caught a burglar in the house and decided to take action instead of hiding in the closet with his cordless phone waiting for the cops to arrive. So he immobilized the intruder with his own gun and kept him at gunpoint face down on the floor. At which point the cops arrived and shot him. Three times. In the back. And then one more time in the leg. They then proceeded to drag him out onto the porch while they handcuffed the, you know, actual criminal. Then they called the paramedics while the homeowner was laying on his own porch bleeding to death. Oh yeah, and his wife and children were watching the whole thing as well.

As he was relating this story to me over dinner tonight, my mouth was hanging open and I kept expecting him to give me the punch line. But it just kept getting worse! I cannot even imagine how angry this entire family must be, let alone the deep betrayal they must feel. But mostly I was thinking how very, very much I hope they sue the hell out of that police department and I hope that the cops who shot this father and husband have to face him every single day in court.


Blah Dee Blah

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, dee, blah, blah, dee, blah, blah.

Yep, that about sums it up today. Can I just write that over and over and over and get away with it? Well, of course I could, it’s my blog. But that’s hardly fair is it? Fine. I’ll play by my own rules and prattle on about something or another, but I can’t guarantee it will be worth reading. So, here we go…

I think I am in hibernation. The fact that we have $20 to our name until my husband gets paid again on Thursday is just fuel to feed my sloth fire. It makes it easy to not go anywhere so that I don’t use gas or get tempted to spend money we don’t have. But they are just excuses nonetheless I think. I know that I am just continuing to find my footing as I get used to being on a plateau instead of constant drama and trauma. Just decompressing and clearing my head. But right now, it feels like hibernation. I haven’t quite decided yet if that’s a good thing or not.

On a totally unrelated tangent, I have a question for you: why do canned soups always taste so crappy? They’re almost gelatinous in their texture and too salty and just overly gross. What’s up with that? I mean I grew up on mostly canned soup and never minded it before. But I sat down to an nice, hot bowl of chicken noodle soup today and barely made my way through half of it before I was gagging. Blech…

And (follow me on one more jump here) this new season of Heroes is the best it’s been since the first season. There’s a bit of intrigue again, Silar is back to being interesting instead of just a goofy sociopath, Peter is back to being hot instead of whiny and I actually want to see what happens next week. All steps in the right direction.

It’s Halloween week and the kids talk about it every single day. The Girl is begging to wear her Cinderella dress every day and The Boy is totally stoked on the prospect of candy. Hhhhmmmm…candy…


Sunday Outlook

Good news for the day? The Boy hasn’t thrown up for about 12 hours and it appears that his fever may have broken.

Bad news for the day? Since he’s feeling better, I have to actually get off the couch and do something productive, like clean my horrendously messy house or, you know, shower.

My husband has already gotten a jump on laundry (bless his heart) but I really should at least dust and vacuum today. With all the wetness we’ve had as of late, the kitchen floor is covered in muddy paw prints both large and small (not to mention the small animals made up of St. Bernard hair that drift from place to place as they ride the currents generated by passersby). And there is an embarrassing amount of dust everywhere because this is the first weekend I’ve felt like doing anything but being put out of my misery for at least two weeks. Not to mention that I am now a month behind on thank you notes from The Boy’s birthday party, ahem.

(Aside: the trailers for The Men Who Stare at Goats make me giggle ridiculously as well as bounce like a school girl at the thought of George Clooney, Ewan McGregor and Kevin Spacey all being in the same movie together.)

There is also a killer football game on today – Vikings at the Steelers. I adore the Steelers. And even though Brett Favre’s off season personality disorder grates on my nerves a bit, he’s having one of the best seasons in a long, long time. And it’s been fun to watch him play again. So this is a hard one for me, but I think I’m going to root for the Steelers while simultaneously being happy when the Vikings have pretty plays. Seems like a good middle road on which to travel given that my Colts are playing the silly Rams today and the game is not being televised. (ARRRGGGHHH, stupid refs throwing flags on innocent rubs, which takes away a touchdown that then leads to Big Ben getting sacked on the next play.) I’m also hoping for a fantasy football redemption today, aka a big fat win thank you.

10/24/09 - Sick Boy

Wanna know the absolute loveliest way to be woken up on a Saturday morning before the sun is up? Listening to The Boy vomit. It was such a perfect, and gentle, way to start the day.

I shouldn’t complain too much because my husband actually got up with him and let me sleep a bit longer. But still. Knowing before you’ve fully extricated yourself from your chosen dream world that your day will be spent tending to a sick boy, is not the best way to start your weekend. And other than feeling really badly for The Boy who couldn’t even keep down water for most of the day, the day was not actually so bad. We decided to let him watch Transformers and Spider-man (two movies he had never been allowed watch) and he and I spent the day on the couch drifting in and out of nap mode interspersed by him running to the bathroom. And I must say that having a vomiting child actually gets easier as they get older because they recognize the signs and can make it to the bathroom instead of throwing up where they stand or sit.

The other huge difference, for me at least, with older kiddos who get sick is that my worry level goes way down. Especially with The Boy. He hasn’t met a sickness yet that he hasn’t bested. The worst he ever had was probably a massive viral ear infection he got as a toddler for which we went through 3 rounds of antibiotics before the docs deduced that it was viral and it lingered for more than a month. But even then, he didn’t let it keep him down. He is just such an extraordinarily upbeat kid that it takes an awful lot (or being extraordinarily tired) to make him whiny or to take away his smile.

And I never get to cuddle with Boy anymore. So although I would never wish one of my children to be sick, it was an opportunity to steal back a few moments of snuggle time with my sweet boy who is getting so very, very big and gradually needing me just a little bit less.


P/T Conferences and the PTA

We had our first parent/teacher conference for The Boy today. And he is doing fantastic. I am so thrilled with his progress. And I wish you could’ve seen him sitting there, beaming with pride as his teacher went through his portfolio and asked him to explain different projects he had been working on. What they meant, why he chose to draw what he chose. They even did a self evaluation and his almost perfectly matched his teacher’s evaluation of him. Pretty cool when you think about it. Because it means that not only is he looking at himself realistically, but also that he has the confidence built already to be able to know when he’s doing well and being successful. And you can’t beat that with a stick. I mean the boy is 6 and he already has a clearer, more confident view of himself than most adults I know. I’m so proud of him I could burst. Can you tell?

His school is going through some pretty radical administrative changes. I’m pretty positive that they won’t affect his classroom experience, but I’m glad that the school is getting out from underneath a really toxic administrative tie. It will free the people who actually make the school a success to continue all of the good work they’ve started.

It also has me thinking about getting more involved. I’m actually thinking about joining the PTA, although my limited experience with PTA’s has me fairly soured on the whole prospect, perhaps I could do some good. And I’m thinking about getting involved with the school board now that it’s up and running; volunteering my experience and talents in the fundraising realm to jump start a fundraising committee. With the established administrative ties being broken and the school “going out on its own” as an independent charter school, the state mandated funding will still be in place, but they will surely need to fan the flames of supplementary fundraising and with a quickness.

I love this school. I love what it is doing for my son. So if I can figure out a way to give back, even in the smallest of ways, I’m up for the challenge.


The Symptoms of Brain Death

I am exhausted. And apparently also brain dead. Because I’ve sat down to write at least a dozen times today and I’ve come up with nothing. So you’re all going to be graced with my powers of stream of consciousness writing today because I got nothing else at the moment. Feel free to stop reading and just come back tomorrow. I wouldn’t blame you really. (How I know when I’m really brain dead? When I’m writing my blog posts and have to stop myself from putting little smileys or winking smileys at the end of my sentences. That’s just bad.)

I got to have coffee with my dearest L this morning. I don’t get to hang out with her nearly as much as I’d like so I always savor the coffee dates we try to pull off every few weeks or so. She gets me on a level that only a handful of girl friends ever have so it’s always a gift to share space with her (plus we went to this super cool little coffee house around the corner from the preschool our little girls go to and the barista drew a pumpkin in the foam of my latte, how cool is that?!?).

Thursday nights are my chick show nights. I don’t even see my husband for the most part of Thursday nights. It’s Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice and Project Runway. Shows that I’ve watched since their inception. And the newcomer this year, which I am totally embarrassed to admit to watching but I’ve already copped to Dawson’s Creek so why not, The Vampire Diaries. It’s teenage angst ridden drivel, but what can I say, I’m a sucker (pun unintended). So I am curled up on the couch under blankies, wishing my sore throat away, hoping that I wake up in the morning feeling just a little bit better than I do today.

We have The Boy’s first real parent/teach conference tomorrow morning. I’m excited for the chance to talk to his teacher and really see how he’s doing in her opinion. Because in my opinion he’s doing great. He’s doing over the top fantastic and he’s also growing up entirely too fast.


Then and Now

When I was growing up I watched benign shows like Sesame Street, 321 Contact, Richie Rich, The Electric Company, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo. My TV time was populated with Muppets and overly enthusiastic adults, maniacally instinct driven cartoon characters of the rodent and feline persuasion and harmless frivolity.

Today however there are The Doodlebops who have rubber wigs and engage in very strange activities which start with one orange hair person compulsively having to pull a rope which douses him in water before he can start his day. There is Max and Ruby where two young bunnies apparently have no parents and free reign in the house at all times. There is Yo Gabba Gabba where fully costumed blobs get funky with different musical stars and actors; it’s like old school Sesame Street only with aliens in the place of Muppets and a strange guy in a big, orange, fuzzy pope’s hat in the place of Gordon and Maria. Then, of course, there are the updated versions of Scooby Doo and all of the superheroes (most of those I actually like better now than I did then).

Not to mention the changes that my beloved Sesame Street has undergone. Cookie Monster eating carrot sticks instead of anything even remotely resembling the shape or appearance of a cookie, Kermit being replaced by an annoying little red midget of a Muppet and the overall feeling of the show shifting from cultivating a kinder, gentler kiddo to political correctness dialed into cutting edge child psychology.

Not to say that they’re all strange in a bad way. The Girl loves The Backyardigans, which admittedly it took me a while to warm up to, but I now love. It’s clever, funny and well written even for preschoolers and who doesn’t like to watch four good natured cartoon characters rap to polka music? And we have always liked Ben 10 and The Clone Wars.

It all makes me wonder what my parents really thought of the shows I watched as a kid. I wonder if they shook their heads and rolled their eyes or whether they secretly tuned in as avidly as I did.


Proof of Power

Becoming a mother was a top to bottom change of state for me. Pretty much everything I thought was true changed the moment I got knocked up. Most of it for the better, some of it I lost myself to, and although the road back has been long I’m still not sure it wasn’t worth it.

Even on my most frustrated, at the end of my rope, want to duct tape the children’s mouths shut and put them in the closet days, being a mother resonates in a very deep part of my soul. Even when I’m not at all sure that my mothering techniques are up to snuff, I always have complete confidence in being a mother.

But one of the most tangible parts of becoming a mother for me has been getting comfortable in my own skin again. I have always been at war with my body image. Even when I was thin and healthy and gorgeous, I just couldn’t see myself very clearly. Since the stretch marks have marathoned across the length of my stomach and my hips (and feet) have widened and my boobs have gravitated towards my belly button in an attempt to commune with the depths that reside there, I’ve mostly just tried to ignore my body image. And my body. It serves its purpose well and I’m grateful for that, but I’d rather just pretend that I’m always wearing an invisibility cloak.

The journey undertaken this past year however has brought some much needed perspective when it comes to my appearance (thanks to the Mojo Boots for bringing me back my sass). And even though it makes me sick (in the best possible way) when all of my friends look as if they’ve never been pregnant 2.7 minutes after birthing their children, there is a part of me that has become deeply grateful for the fact that there is physical evidence of having my two babies.

I’d gladly trade my jeans for a new pair a few sizes smaller any day of the week, but I wouldn’t ever hand over the tangible corroboration of what my body is capable of. That’s empowerment that Mojo Boots just can’t touch.


Just a Mom

I read a piece today in a newly discovered magazine – Get Born – that really spoke to where I am right now. The author was writing about how embarrassed she was to admit that she is “just a mom.” Knowing full well that under that embarrassment was indignation at forcing herself to add the “just” in there. And I am so there.

I started my own business when The Boy was born so I could work from home. A year ago I decided to go back to work full-time (i.e. steady paycheck instead of unsteady contract work) in the face of our disintegrating financial situation and I’ve thoroughly documented my journey towards that end. It’s just become abundantly clear to me that the universe wants me right where I am for some reason or another. Here, present, with my children and family as my first priority. Out of nonprofit and away from fundraising. And for the first time since becoming a mother I have to now say that I am a stay at home mom. And there is a large part of me that feels utterly defeated in that statement.

I vividly remember wishing that I could just take the time to focus on my kids when I was working. I remember wishing for the client juggling to stop and the deadlines to ease. I just wanted the time to paint and frolic and be with these children who were growing so fast. And now I have it. And for that I’m completely grateful.

But that over-achiever in me that lurks just under the surface has its hackles raised at the idea of “just” being a stay at home mom. And even though the number of stay at home moms that I have in my life far outweigh the number of working mothers, I still feel like I’m letting my friends down. From what no one knows, but the feeling is there nonetheless.

I can rattle off hundreds of things that I do in a day or week or month. Important, necessary, even vital things that I do to keep my family humming along. How much longer can I justify devaluing my work in this family?


Utterly Irrational

I have a totally irrational hatred of Tom Brady. The man just brings out the worst in me. I cannot bring myself to think positive thoughts about him regardless of how nice he is or how well he plays the game of football. I mean I am sitting here watching him literally have a record breaking game where he just threw 5 touchdowns in one quarter. Not one half, not in the whole game, in one freaking quarter. And I cannot bring myself to be even mildly amused by this. I find myself screwing up my face and sticking out my tongue at the TV.

Keep in mind that I still feel this way about Tom Brady knowing that I have nothing to lose in my fantasy matchup this week with him. I can’t even explain it away that way. One would think I’d have the same kind of wrath towards Drew Brees at least for this week after watching him have yet another game of his life annihilating the Giants as I watched him rack up points for my opponent. It’s painful to lose like this granted, but Drew Brees is a good comeback kid kind of guy so even though he single handedly assured my loss this week, I still kinda like the guy.

Every time I see Tom Brady’s stupid name in the headlines I cuss him out under my breath. It makes me crazy that his pretty face married a supermodel. Even his sweet baby irks me. It’s totally irrational. To the point where I have never even had a Patriot player on any of my fantasy teams. I just don’t want any association with him (although I’m about to break that rule by picking up Maroney as a possible workhorse running back).

The only thing I can come up with to even come close to explaining it is that it’s all just so cliché. He’s the star quarterback pretty boy who always gets the job done and always gets the girl. He’s “humble” and easy going. He’s charming and professional and oh so focused. And it’s always a given that he’ll win.

He may as well be a cardboard cutout.

10/17/09 - Jumping through Hoops

Here’s the most irritating thing about filing for bankruptcy (other than having to give a lawyer a big pile of money to have it legally, and publically, recorded that we don’t have any money) – having to take the pre and post-filing classes that are required by federal law. We have had to go through several companies that offer these classes for an assortment of fees (yet again having to spend more money to prove that we don’t have any money) and figure out which one will not only be the cheapest, but also the most expedient. Because we can’t legally file with the courts until we get the pre-filing credit counseling course taken and the completion certificate sent to our lawyer so he can include it in the final petition.

Now, let me be clear in that I really, truly understand why these classes are required. No one wants people to use bankruptcy as a way of hiding from a huge pile of debt that they got into on purpose. And no one wants someone to file for bankruptcy without having explored every single available option. It really is a last resort sort of thing. So making these courses mandatory gives people two more hoops to jump through as well as making sure they are educated on the process and its ramifications. I totally get that. Having said that however, they are a presently a gigantic pain in my ass.

Especially this first class because it’s a two parter. We each have to take the online course which I’m guessing will take about an hour or so and then we have to schedule a phone counseling follow up call to help establish a budget which will probably take another hour or so. I know that 2 hours sounds pretty inconsequential. But it’s really not. Especially since it’s computer and phone time where I have to, you know, pay attention. Show me a mother who time for this.

And the part of me that has painful clarity on why we are in this process resents the fact that I am forced to pay someone to tell me this is a bad place in which to be.


Western Union

“In a few minutes your love can be tangible.” – Western Union slogan

This particular slogan makes me irrationally angry. Maybe because I was pretty much raised in a time when wiring money has gone completely out of fashion except in the movies where the only people who wire money are felons and white trash kids stuck in some hickville trailer park without a clean wife beater. It makes me think of men with huge pot bellies sending money to their old ladies who are standing in their curlers, hair nets and polyester muumuus. It makes me think of dirty out of the way offices that you have to search out in the seedier parts of town.

It pretty much makes me think of anything but love.

And maybe that is what the slogan is trying to change. Trying to shift the point of view back to a quick way to send your oldest son money across country because he blew a tire on his spring break road trip. Because I think most Western Union offices are probably in well lit grocery stores nowadays.

But it also speaks to the part of me that is just flat royally pissed off that we’re in the financial state we’re in. Because to tell me that THE way to make my love tangible is to send money to family and friends just makes me want to scream since it’s just about the only thing I can’t presently send them. I can send virtual hugs and all of the positive vibes and thoughts I can muster. I can send cards and emails and Facebook love notes. I can think of all kinds of funny, silly, creative ways to “make my love tangible” should I ever feel the need, but sending money is really not one of them (not that I wouldn’t love to receive that kind of token of all of your love).
Also on some philosophical level it makes me irate that I should ever have to make my love tangible. I mean who really wants their loved ones to nail down how very much they are loved into a hot pink teddy bear or a bouquet of flowers?


Peaceful Temper Tantrum

I have now been sitting here staring at a blank page for more than an hour. It has been one of those totally mellow days where I’m trying to soak in the peace and quiet in an effort to banish the sickness and re-charge my soul. I’ve managed to dispel the usual guilt that accompanies me taking time for myself, which in and of itself is a huge stretch. Basically I just decided to take this week and really give myself permission to do whatever I needed to do at any given time.

Since I’ve gotten my ass handed to me by this plague that was brought home to share, I knew I wouldn’t really make any plans other than just staying home and taking it easy. Which was fine. I had a couple of books I wanted some quality time with and I was looking forward to the opportunity to just watch movies all day long.

And I was well on my way to accomplishing all of these things. But tonight I’m feeling all temper tantrum-y and like I have to justify how I’m spending my week off. All of the guilt and judgment I’ve been shooing away all week rushed back into the room all at once. And that pisses me off. Should I have used the time to clean and organize and get stuff done? Probably. Should I have made some special plans to get together with friends I don’t get to see often enough? Probably. Should I have put more effort into going down to my parents’ house to spend time with them and the kiddos? Probably. But I just flat didn’t want to. I haven’t been feeling good. And I am just tired to the core. I just needed a true break this week to recharge and shift perspective.

My year thus far has been trauma followed by drama followed by catastrophe, rinse and repeat. And it feels like we may be slowly climbing up onto a plateau where we can ride out the rest of 2009 in peace and quiet. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that and I thought I’d start with my own inner peace and quiet.


Liking what I Like

The people in my life are extraordinary. Some are extraordinary writers; some are extraordinary artists and/or actors. Some are extraordinarily compassionate and open-hearted. Every single one of them is an extraordinary thinker in one way or another. And I’ve spent most of my life just trying to keep up with them.

I’ve spent time trying to keep up with them by rebelling against them of course. By rejecting their favorite authors or directors, artists or schools of thought. Thinking perhaps that if I could shoot down these chosen masters that perhaps even though we disagreed I’d still be at their level.

I’ve also spent time devoting myself to being an utter cultural snob. Only choosing the artsy movies, the indie bands, the out of mainstream books, the underground thinkers. Attempting to elevate myself above the common trends by only exposing myself to the best.

Over the years however I’ve pretty much just accepted that most of the people around me are just flat smarter than I am. And that’s totally cool. I mean first of all, they choose to hang out with me even though they’re smarter and they constantly challenge me and I think that rocks. But I’ve also had to strike a kind of balance between the challenge and just what I like.

And much to their dismay, I really like things like Dan Brown’s books, beat ‘em up blow ‘em up movies, Dawson’s Creek, tomato beers and queso dip made with Velveeta. I could totally overanalyze myself and trace back their etymology to some childhood event or how they may be tied to a very special memory thereby forever tying them to my internal list of favorites. But at the end of the day, I just like what I like. And I’m cool with that. I don’t really care anymore that I look at a piece of modern art and think that The Boy could do it better. I don’t mind when friends laugh at me for getting emotionally invested with teenage TV characters embroiled in overwrought angst.

They love me anyway and that’s just how I roll. I’ll take their challenge any day just as soon as I’m done watching X-Men.


Dan Brown in a Day

Man do I love Dan Brown. He has a new book out that is the next story in the Robert Langdon saga. And I gotta say that this character must have some serious karma to repay. He must have hit some sort of karmic wall that triggered an immediate repayment order. He went through his whole life without much happening to him and then all of a sudden every couple of years he gets involved in the middle of some maniac’s plan to prove some mystical artifact as fact in an effort to change all of humanity for better or for worse. Robert Langdon seriously keeps getting the shit end of the stick man and he totally deserves an extended vacation to one of those super fancy resorts in Fiji where you get your own private hut out in the middle of the ocean where the floor is made of glass and you can spend hours watching fish swim underfoot while you sip a fancy umbrella drink.

But even though I feel for the guy, it makes for some awesome brain candy reading. I started this book about an hour before I went to bed last night and am almost finished with it tonight.

This book really takes you into a much more mystical realm than his previous two. I mean they all deal with legends rooted in mysticism and religion but this one takes that to a whole different level. And while it is an enthralling story, it feels a bit rushed. Both Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code were just as informational as they were engaging and this one feels like it skips a lot of those opportunities to teach for just moving forward. Which makes me a little sad because those insights into ancient symbology and history were some of my favorite parts of his writing. I’m a total sucker for a conspiracy theory that has just enough evidence behind it to make you wonder. And he brings those in spades with his storytelling.

But his books always make me wish I read more slowly. So I could savor them a bit more instead of plowing through them in a day.

10/12/09 - Day 'o Star Wars

What to do on a day when my husband has the day off, the children are with my parents and I am still feeling crappy? How about lie on the couch all day and have a massive Star Wars marathon? Yes, please.

We meant to just hang out, enjoy the quiet, delve deeper into the first season of Six Feet Under and maybe watch a movie. Instead, we happened upon one cable channel doing a mammoth Star Wars marathon and got totally sucked in. After watching Episodes 2 and 3 on TV, I pulled out our DVD’s and we watched the last three blissfully without commercials.

The Boy is sort of on the Star Wars bubble. I mean he’s totally into Star Wars: The Clone Wars, the animated series that started last year. We have a Friday night ritual of making dinner and then sitting down to watch Clone Wars while we eat. So he knows that particular set of character thoroughly, which is pretty cool because he gets an expanded view on characters that we mostly only got to hypothesize about unless you picked up the books, which I did not. He gets to know more of the individual Jedi; their personalities and traits. Which is actually probably my favorite part of the series. But we’ve set him down a couple of times to watch the original Star Wars movies and he gets intermittently bored. There is quite a bit of dialogue and not that many super cool, engaging for a 6 year old boy light saber fights. Even Episodes 1-3 have more action in them than the original three.

So I get it. But it was awfully fun to sit back and watch the originals. Took me right back to my childhood and the initial awe I felt at watching this whole new world unfold before my eyes. Wanting to get more into the mythology of Star Wars but not having the faintest clue as to where to start as none of my friends were quite as intrigued as I was.

It will be with great pleasure to take The Boy and guide him backwards towards the beginning of the Star Wars universe.


The Week Ahead

We sent the children to my parents’ house today. The Boy has this whole week off for fall break and my parents were missing the kiddos so I took The Girl out of preschool for the week and off they went. I’ll probably head down there later this week to hang out for a couple of days and then bring the kiddos home next weekend to get ready to move back into the daily grind.

I’m hoping that having the next few days of quiet will allow me to banish this sickness back to whatever rock from under which it crawled. I’m thoroughly done with it now and am ready for it to vacate the premises. Post haste. And I thought I’d go thrifting to see if I can’t find the kids’ Halloween costumes for cheap.

I wish I could say I had some grand plans to pamper myself proper. I could really use a mani/pedi. And a girl’s night out. But we are in the midst of trying to figure out our cash only budget and it’s a bit tricky at the moment. So we’re not spending any money on anything but necessities. Although my husband has tomorrow off, so I thought maybe we’d raid all the penny jars to see if we couldn’t come up with enough to go see a movie or something just a wee bit fun since it’ll be just the two of us.

And it’s freaking cold here. So any temptation I may have had to go anywhere got pretty much nixed by the multi-car pile ups on the highway caused by the entire city being covered in one big sheet of ice. Colorado is apparently going through some sort of weather schizophrenia and has totally screwed up the seasons this year. We skipped fall altogether much to my butterfly bush’s dismay.

I had an unexpectedly good fantasy football day as well. So that’s always nice. After this morning’s games I was counting myself lucky to be above a total of 50 points, but then my boy, Peyton Manning, swooped in to the rescue and pulled me through. I like winning; not a bad way to start the week.


Ramble On

I’m still sick. And I am irritated about it. So I’m just sort of in a rambling mood tonight. Try to bear with me.

My daughter amazes me. I’m not at all sure how someone so small (relatively speaking of course because my children are Sasquatch children) could be so simultaneously irritating and adorable. She has started doing some things that I was dreading about having a girl, i.e. getting totally obsessed with one or two dresses and then refusing to wear anything but those dresses at all times regardless of how many other clothes she has access to or how dirty those two singled out dresses become. She’s also taken to wearing her old baby hats, which would funny enough on its own but then she puts a tiara on top of the teeny tiny hats to make sure they stay on. That paired with the net tutus she puts on over her favorite dresses, accessorized with an assemblage of Mardi gras beads and old thrift store necklaces makes for quite the sight on her little 3 year old self.

I’ve been doing some research for a friend of mine into baby carriers available on thebabywearer.com because I’m trying to get her the hell away from the baby bjorn/snuggli and towards something that will be better and more comfortable for her and baby both. But in the course of spreading the baby wearing love, my own baby carrier obsession has once again arisen. I’m drooling over Eye2Eye mei tai’s and Vatanai wraps and Pslings. It’s awful. I should just stay away from the for sale or trade forum; it gives me the wants something awful. But it is interesting to see what the hot carriers at any given point in time. It changes pretty often; wraps are huge right now whereas the last time I was stalking the FSOT boards it was soft structured carriers.

I got to spend the whole day watching college football. I can’t even remember the last time I got to do that. No kid shows. Just football. I got to watch the Oklahoma AND Michigan games. Now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my fantasy team shows up tomorrow.


Nobel Vision

“We were quite surprised.” – Sr. White House official on President Obama’s being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I must say that I agree. Not to say he doesn’t deserve it. But that I’m surprised he got it at this point in time. I believe Barack Obama to possess incredible potential to do amazing work in this world. I think he has the capacity to bring people together in a way that not many do and he is completely unabashed about leveraging that capacity to work towards international peace and provide a stronger and safer way of life in all of our back yards.

The general consensus seems to be this is the Nobel committee’s way of encouraging him to keep doing the work that needs to be done regardless of his prior experience. Their way, perhaps, of lending him the Nobel pedigree to further embolden him to keep making strides towards realizing his vision. And that I can totally buy. Although I wonder how that makes him feel? That while enough of the world already agrees and supports the work he’s doing to get him nominated for the Nobel in the first place, they also still feel that his qualifications are lacking enough to need to borrow pedigree of any kind.

I guess the most interesting thing is that it appears that Obama’s particular vision is apparently quenching some worldwide need big enough to warrant this kind of recognition. That his vision alone is enough in the world as it is to garner this type of encouragement. Because even though I love the guy, let’s face it, there simply hasn’t been enough time yet for him to achieve much of his vision internationally (or domestically for that matter). So this award is much more of a “you go boy!” type of thing to keep him going down the path he’s laid.

All in all I think it’s a brilliant thing. Brilliant that the world is aware enough that peace is in fact what it needs. Brilliant that they recognize in this man the ability to bring us all closer to that vision. Brilliant that Obama now has one more tool to get the job done.

10/8/09 - Cardio Follow-up

**Yeah. You know the drill. Sorry. I'm sick.**

The Girl’s cardiologist appointment was today. They did an EKG and an echocardiogram in the office as well as taking the time to go through pretty much her entire medical history with me. And after all of that, he confirmed that she has a heart murmur and also has an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). What does all of this mean? NOTHING!!! The heart murmur is completely benign and nothing to worry about. The ASD is also nothing to worry about. They are both pretty normal for kids her age and almost always go away on their own. He said she looked totally normal and healthy and that we should just continue working with our pediatrician to get her respiratory issues figured out.

And even in my sickness induced haze I wanted to do jumping jacks and hug the guy right there in his office. I mean not to mention that he was soooo nice and thorough and patient and was outstanding with The Girl. Not to mention that he and the nurses totally let The Girl abuse the sticker policy because she kept leaving her stickers in the various exam rooms. Not to mention that the doctor took the time to ask me a bunch of “getting to know you” questions before launching into the last eighteen months series of medical events with The Girl.

I have lost track of the number of cardiologists that I’ve seen over the years with my own heart condition and I can honestly say that none of them were as wonderful as this guy. In my (relatively limited) experience specialists can be, well, dicks. They tend to be all haughty and holier than thou. And while I suppose I can understand how they could get like that, I’ve never been able to understand why they would want to be. How can alienating your patients make you a better doctor?

Anyway, we have good news. And that rocks and is something for which I am utterly and completely well, life in general at this point. Maybe grateful. It’s a nice change of pace actually. I’m so used to getting non-good news with The Girl, and our luck is turning around.


Griping AND Whining

Since I was already griping yesterday, I thought I would continue today.

I am frigging fragging sick! And I am not even remotely happy about it. The Boy has a runny nose that just won’t quit (but that seems to be his only symptom thank goodness), my husband came home from work yesterday and went straight to bed (although by evening he seemed to be feeling a bit better) and by mid-afternoon yesterday my head had filled up and was pounding and the chills had set in. I think I slept last night from about 2 – 4am and that’s about it because I could not breathe and my head was hurting so badly that all I could do was lay very still and hope that a meteor would land squarely on my side of the bed and put me out of my misery. Now The Girl has started sneezing today (although that appears to be her only affliction which is not stopping her from pulling out her Oscar award winning rendition of “Super-cute Plague Infested Princess”). I’m hoping that if she does indeed get whatever this is, that it is light and no big deal despite the fact that she’s already coughing. But I will be in doctor’s offices with her for the next two days, so at least there’s that.

I don’t remember our household being quite so germ-ridden before The Girl landed on the scene. But I suppose it makes sense that there would be twice the number of germy hitchhikers arriving on our doorstep with both kids in school and my husband working in cubicle hell with a bunch of people who also have kids. I am so feeling like the innocent bystander here.

So the day is half gone and The Girl and I are still in our jammies. I’ve unabashedly had the TV on for the majority of the day and have no plans to turn it off. I suppose I have to drag myself upstairs to find something with which to feed The Girl soon since it is lunchtime. But I’ll tell you what, these family members who keep getting me sick will be fending for themselves for dinner.

10/6/09 - Football Gripe

**Sorry this is late (man I seem to be saying that alot lately), but something nasty put me on the couch yesterday and I am still there, much whining is sure to ensue.**

I love playing fantasy football. I really love it. I mean yes, I gripe occasionally that it takes more time than I have to really do good research. Or that the networks never play the games I want to watch so I can see players in action that I’ve had my eye on. But mostly, I love it.

Except for one thing.

The all girls league I have always played in added more players this year and I do not love playing in a 12 player deep league. I do not enjoy doing all of my weekly research only to find that the other players apparently read faster than I do or have some other mind-meldish type tie to Matthew Berry and have already picked up EVERY single player I was going to add to my team. Having that many players in a league really means you have to dig deep to find substitutes on bye weeks or to swap out hurt players or flat get rid of players who just are not performing. Consequently, this year is taking a lot more time than I am used to.

I am fully aware that my latitude for griping is slim because I am the two-time defending champion of my league (notice how nonchalantly I threw that in there this time?). That really I need to stop the bitching and just suck it up. But seriously, I am totally frigging frustrated at the moment. Not to mention that I’m not entirely happy with my ranking or current record.

By this time in the NFL season, there are typically standouts. Players who are consistently producing, rookies who have emerged as go-to’s for their quarterbacks. Overall dominant players in one way or another. But here’s the frustrating part. Every time I get me one of those dominant players, they get hurt or they all of sudden stop producing. So back to the drawing board I go in hopes of finding someone new that will fit the bill. And I’ve gotten lucky a couple of times, but mostly, I have just found more frustration.

It appears that I am really going to have work it to earn my third championship.


My Pitta Nature

Not too long after I got out of college, I had a massive eczema/psoriasis breakout that was misdiagnosed and I was prescribed topical cortico-steroids for entirely too long and thus a Candida infection broke out. The breakout and infection was pretty much localized to my hands and feet, which was sort of a blessing except that there were literally days when I could not walk because my feet were in such bad shape and I lived in cotton gloves for months because of how cracked and broken the skin on my hands had become. It was a horrifically painful and humbling experience and that I will never forget.

I tried everything under the sun to make it even bearable and in the end; the only things that worked were an Ayurvedic herb regimen and keeping sage oil on my hands and feet at all times. As I did the diagnostic interview with the Ayurveda practitioner who was also a long time friend of my mom’s she cemented her feeling that I fall under the Pitta designation. Which essentially means I have too much fire in me (which of you didn’t know that already?). And when that fire (acidity) gets out of balance, then it throws everything in me out of balance – my diet, my moods, my digestion, my skin, you name it.

After about 4-6 months of this strict Pitta calming regimen, my hands and feet were completely better. And they have never gotten as bad as that again, although I have certainly had outbreaks (usually when I have to be on antibiotics). And it’s just always something that I’ve kept in the back of my head – my Pitta nature.

So after spending the last several weeks with damn near unbearable heart burn that made me cough and gag and want to throw up in the middle of the night, I once again turned to Ayurvedic remedies. And after changing my diet for 24 hours, there is a radical difference.

Now I am generally really not one for the woo-woo stuff. But this not only gave me really good results, but almost instantaneously. It’s hard not be wooed by that kind of woo-woo, you know?


Paint Payback

When I was in elementary school, my parents decided to have the basement in our house finished. It was a long process, but when it was done, my mom had a great space to do yoga and I had a great play space (which would eventually become my room when I hit high school). I had a big wooden easel that my dad had made me down there all set up and ready for me to paint whenever I wanted. Until one day when there was a major paint accident involving red paint that the carpet would never recover from. That stain was still there when my parents sold the house when I graduated from college.

I thought that my karma had been repaid for that carpet defilement when The Girl found some blue acrylic paint and proceeded to crawl across the floor with it leaving a bright, blue trail behind her like a trail of bread crumbs for Muppets.

Apparently, not so much.

Because my husband woke up this morning to our children painting. The couch. They had decided to continue with the project he had started with them the previous day painting sun catchers and then decided that the couch needed some sprucing up. So they spread black, red and yellow paint all over the cushions and one pillow of our beige couch (yes I’m aware that a case could be made that we were asking for it by having a light colored couch with two children). Needless to say they spent the morning in their respective rooms while my husband and I were watching football (and I was watching my fantasy team have a truly sucky day when they were supposed to have a day in which they all shined and put up many points to carry me to a winning record).

And we were not able to get all the paint out. So there it will sit, on our couch cushions as a marker of our children’s’ creativity and our mistake of leaving them to their own devices when they get up entirely too early. But at the end of the day, I guess we can always just flip the cushions.

10/3/09 - Soux Chef

**Sorry this is late, I got home really late last night so it would have posted today anyway.**

I think I probably could have been very happy in a career as a soux chef. I really love to take a whole pile of veggies and through complete focus end up with skillfully cut, diced and chiffonaded ingredients.

So when I showed up at H and D’s house today for an evening of hanging out with friends and found them completely up to their ears in making salsa, I dove right in to help. They have one of the most amazing vegetable gardens I have ever seen. And were swimming in tomatoes, jalapenos and green chilies so had decided to make a huge amount of salsa and then can it all. The problem(s) is that they didn’t have a food processor, they have the tiniest kitchen ever and neither of them had ever made salsa before. They had frozen all of their romas (without blanching, peeling and seeding them first, which is definitely not my choice for making fresh salsa, but we made do with it) and they were only about half defrosted, so D was busy doing 2-3 tomatoes at a time in their teeny tiny prep processor. It looked a bit more like tomato sorbet than salsa at first. H and I set about pulling the skin off the peppers and chilies. As soon as D started cutting the onions we all really found out exactly how small that kitchen was as the coughing, gagging and crying ensued.

Thank God for Pilsner Urquel.

After about two and a half hours of prepping and mixing and tasting and tweaking, we had three big batches of mild, medium and hot salsa of just about perfect texture and flavor. I was pretty impressed with us and aside from gagging on all the fumes and the capsasin burns from my silly choice to peel chilies sans gloves, we all had a lot of fun with the process.

So we finished our beers and went to dinner. It was a perfectly lovely way to spend a Saturday evening. They kept apologizing profusely for putting me to work, but I just hope that this will finally teach them I just love their company, no matter what we’re doing.


10/2/09 - Surface Cleaning

** Sorry!! I forgot to post this last night! **

So here is the problem with having house cleaning so far down my list of priorities: when a friend comes to visit and I realize my house is a hot mess, I have to run around like a chicken with its head cut off for an entire morning trying to make it look presentable.

I guess since we just don’t get many visitors that I forgot to look at my house occasionally as if I didn’t live there. Until this morning when lovely J and her sweet boy M were on their way to our house for lunch. And all I could see was dust and dirt and doggie foot prints and dirty dishes (hmmm, all of that starts with D, how interesting). So I whipped myself into a whirlwind and got things set back to order. Sort of. It was better than nothing.

But it also made me see the things that just are not on my radar from a day to day basis. Like the baseboards and the wreck they are. I mean we have lived in this house for 7 years now, and it wasn’t new when we moved in, so it is normal that it should start showing some well lived in wear and tear. Plus we have two whirligig children and three obnoxious dogs. But our baseboards are a mess. I’d like to rip them all out and put in new ones. Fresh, white ones with no dust or wood splinters. And the corners of many walls are chipped from being banged with swords and baby heads and wagons and blocks (and my mom’s wheelchair) that we really should patch up and re-paint.

There are just tons of things like that. And it is my head taking over and muttering a string of “oh my god she’s totally judging me for my baseboards and look at the dent in that wall from where The Boy slammed open the door and the sliding glass door is wrecked from the neurotic chocolate lab who scratches at it constantly and blah, blah, blah” whenever we have people over.

So what have I learned? Not to pay too close attention when I’m cleaning, obviously.


Not Ok

I am not feeling romantic or wistful or any of the other things I’ve been feeling lately. Today I am angry. I am angry because the son of a friend of mine is laying in the PICU at Denver Children’s Hospital fighting for his life. He came home with a sore throat and fever a week ago and is now on a heart/lung bypass machine fighting for his life. And I am angry because the doctors should have been able to prevent this. I am angry because I keep hearing about how H1N1 is pretty mild and the only danger is in overwhelming the medical system and then this sweet boy gets it and is living hour to hour. But mostly I am angry because there is an entire hospital 90 minutes from my doorstep full of nothing but children in danger and the world is still turning. People are still going grocery shopping and going to work and paying bills and driving around like that is ok. And it is absolutely the hell not ok.

I have another friend whose daughter is also at DCH right now and while she is not in critical care, she is also not healthy and got a life altering diagnosis not too long ago that turned their whole world upside down.

And The Girl has a pediatric cardiologist appointment in just over a week to see if we can add a few more things to her little plate.

And none of this is ok.

Will there ever be a way to reconcile children dying or getting horrific sicknesses or being born with disastrous genetic syndromes? I know all the arguments for natural selection and fate and what makes us stronger. And in the face of a sweet boy being kept alive by machinery I declare all of that to be bullshit. There is just no reason for this much pain and sorrow. These parents have done nothing to deserve being made stronger in this way. These children should be romping with their friends and siblings. Being silly and having fun.

There is no excuse. And it makes me angry in a way that I can’t contain or justify.