Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Fear of Self-Loathing

Designer Vera Wang at Ralph Lauren's 40th Anni...Image via Wikipedia

Self-Loathing is not fashionable. It's never in style no matter what era.

After my oldest daughter Holly was born, I went on Zoloft and gained a lot of weight. One of my friends said that Zoloft had numbed her fears so much that she just didn't care anymore, about anything.

I told the doc what happened after Holly was born (GI problems, single kidney, hole in her heart) and he said, "Geez, no wonder you're on Zoloft. I made the same gesture the delivery guy in Christmas Story did when Ralphie's dad says, "What's in the box? Fra-gee-lee! That must be Italian!"

Because of not caring about anything, I didn't lose any baby weight until Holly was 3 years old. In fact I still wore maternity clothes until then. People kept asking me when I was due. I kept saying, "Um, 3 years ago?"

I really hated myself then from all the mind-numbing. I thought I let Holly be born that way. Even when everyone around me told me not to blame myself, I still did. So I took weight gain upon myself as sort of a self-mutilation. Some girls cut themselves, (like Lindsay Lohan) starve themselves (like Lindsay Lohan), or do drugs (like Lindsay Lohan). Instead I put on weight from pure hate.

In 2002 I switched to Paxil and lost weight right away. But it wasn't really the anti-depressant that made it work (in fact, if you ever miss a dose, watch out! It'll feel like your lips are falling off). Then I ate better, exercised more and finally took off weight. What a concept!

I remember crossing the street at an intersection pushing Holly in a stroller, and some guys in a car yelled, "Hey, want a donut?" It was right after I lost my first 10 pounds. Come to think of it, I wasn't wearing the most flattering clothes - a frumpy T-shirt and light blue maternity biker shorts. Ladies, if you have any issues with your thighs at all, do NOT wear light blue. Imagine cumulonimbus clouds brewing on a sunny sky-blue day. And then add cellulite.

I may not be down to my vegetarian body from my twenties and I don't expect it (bacon just tastes WAY too good). In fact, I went into a dressing room this weekend for the first time in years. I hated those flourescent lights on my legs. This time, I looked at my imperfect self and said, "Whatever!" and tried on a pair of Vera Wang jeans. And I loved them.

I love Vera Wang because a) she has a line at Kohls and b) she's not only a designer to the stars but to little ol' mommy bloggers like me. Now, I no longer fear self-loathing.

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Crap, is it THAT Time Already?

The Birds and the Bees (film)Image via Wikipedia

My 10-year-old wants to know about the birds and the bees. Yippee. She didn't know boys had different body parts until we got a boy dog. She asked, "What's that?"

I said, "That's where the dog pees. Human boys have the same thing."

Or maybe I said "Thingies."

I am so bad at this.

What makes her inquisitive are the Viagra commercials playing on TV in the background. She asks, "What does it mean to be healthy enough for sex?" Then she tacks on an "Eww."

Yep, it's time.

Viagra commercials are akin to those tampon commercials we watched in the 80s while our boyfriends sat on the couch eating popcorn and wondering when they could put their arms around us.

As soon as we heard the phrase "Now available with WINGS," we hit the mute button and say, "Hey how 'bout those Packers or Brewers or Cubs or (insert any random sports team)?"

Just to turn the subject away from feminine hygiene products. It was too late because those poor guys already lost their appetite. But that's a whole, though related, different topic which will garner more "Ewws."

The terms for "thingies" at my daughter's school these days are Australia for boy parts and Africa for girl parts. Perhaps I can work in a geography lesson along with the sex talk. I wonder how I'll work in the plate tectonic theory.

One of my Facebook friends (Eric) said explain it to her like this: "Daddy pulls his train into Mommy's train station. If Mommy's lucky then Daddy's train stays on the track for more than 3 minutes. On second thought, leave off that last part."

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

BOOM! Bra Vo!

Ben & Jerry's (now with breast milk)Image by RW PhotoBug via Flickr

Yesterday Holly asked me if she needs to drink milk in order to grow breasts. I said drinking milk is to build better bones but you don't need it for breasts.

She thought the milk went from her stomach to her chest. April asked, "Do I have breasts?"

I said "Yes and they'll get bigger with milk after you have a baby. Breasts are for feeding babies and that's how I fed you."


Just a few more years before breast size obsession. Yippee, can't wait. When I was in 6th grade my mom said I needed a training bra. I thought they came with wheels like bikes and when I grew breasts I took the wheels off.

Before I started a new school in 8th grade, I bra shopped with my sister. One bra had little sponges in the cups. I thought, well, that's convenient in case I spill my milk in the cafeteria I can whip out these thingies and viola! Crisis averted. Or if I got wet? BOOM! Instant Dolly Parton!

My sister said the sponges were to make your boobs look bigger. Even then I didn't believe in false advertising so I passed. I settled for the training bra, wondering when I could take off the wheels and go for a ride on my own.

Good thing I didn't buy the sponge bra because 8th grade was full of girls whispering who stuffed. I thought girls naturally kept their Kleenexes in there because we cried so much. Did I have a lot to learn!

I don't know what made us so impatient for big boobs. They grew into their own in high school, college, marriage, pregnancy and BOOM there they are. Serving a purpose.

Now in our forties we struggle to keep them off our belt loops. Maybe I'll go out tomorrow and try to find that sponge bra again. And recite my own version of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity

To accept my breasts I cannot change

Courage to change the breasts I can without plastic surgery

And the wisdom to know the difference.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chivalry is Freakin' Dead

Company of Chivalry Blue SealImage via Wikipedia

Remember when gentlemen gave up their seats for ladies on a crowded buses, subways, or waiting rooms?

Forget it, it never happens anymore. The last time a man ever gave up his seat for me was when I was pregnant. And that was only because I was about to pop and he didn't want to see my water break right on the floor.

Today I took my daughter to one of her many, many doctor appointments. The waiting room was crowded and I looked around and saw many seats occupied by small children who were not sitting in their seats all the time.

When my kids were little in crowded waiting rooms, I sat them on my lap so adults wouldn't have to stand.

Today, I sunk down to the floor having an incredible time doing so since I proudly own titanium rods in my back, along with almost 30 screws and bolts. I saw a chair open so I struggled to get up and walked over to the seat.

Two parents stared at me. I said, "I have a really hard time sitting on the floor." I didn't go into my rigamarole of back surgery because I don't like to tell strangers my life story right off the bat. Surely, I thought, these parents saw me struggle getting up and down on the floor.

The dad said, "You just took my son's seat. If you're okay with that, then..." I saw the 4-year-old boy and said, "I'm sorry, sweetie, do you want to sit here?" I got up and walked to a wall, struggling to get down on my knee and sit upright. The little boy just kept walking around, staring at Spongebob on television.

Then a mom with a leg brace came in and she also sat down on the floor because no man in that waiting room cared to give up his seat, or even tell their wee tiny children to give up their seats.

Finally one dad came up to both of us and said, "There's two seats available." Leg Brace Lady said, "No, I won't be able to get back up." I saw that the two seats were next to Rude Dad with a son who still wasn't sitting in his seat. I said, "No thanks, I'd rather wait."

I said nothing because I knew karma would bite Rude Dad right in the butt soon. Like me writing about him in this blog. And I left in a good mood because my daughter's doctor looked and sounded like Rowan Atkinson's Mr. Bean.
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Why I Don't CyberStalk

Lunch 2.0 Happy Hour at FacebookImage by Laughing Squid via Flickr

In a world of the interwebs where anyone can contact anyone instantly, be it a friend from grade school or a celeb you adored in the 80s when you wore matching neon socks and sweaters, one has to wonder when do you draw the line between e-mail frenzy and cyberstalking?

There has to be a light that goes off that says, "Danger, Will Robinson, that person on the internet who IMs you every time you're on Facebook needs a hobby!"

Unfortunately, that light switch never seems to waver from the OFF position.

For me, I don't have time to cyberstalk. One of my Facebook buddies from high school, Eric Hoegsted, put it best:

"I work 24/7 so I'd have to be like okay, I can stalk you in 6 weeks at 2
o'clock but only for 18 minutes because I have to make my delivery on time or
I'll be late."

I'm getting off this computer right now. As soon as I check my e-mail because AOL just pinged me.
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Monday, November 2, 2009

I Want to Hate

"I want to hate but I have no room for it in my heart."

This is what my pastor Ron Armstrong said as he sat in court fifteen away from the three men who murdered his son the day after Christmas last year.

I can imagine struggling with forgiveness. I understand staring at the men who took your oldest child away and think, no way are these men going to the same place my son is right now after they leave this earth.

Imagine the strength you need to fill up your heart with hate. It's easy to hate, don't you think? It isn't. It takes more strength to hate and it exhausts you more quickly. It takes more passion to despise and it envelops you more.

Having no room for the people who most deserve hate is a strength most of us will never achieve.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

October 28, 1989

20 years ago I met my husband the first time. I was studying for college mid-terms on a Saturday night before Halloween (yeah, I partied HARD back then). I needed a break, so I headed down to the Brat Stop on I-94 in Kenosha, WI for some ice cream.
The Brat Stop was a one-stop shop for cheese curds and beer and if you were in a dancing mood, you could enjoy live music in the bar.

I skimmed the shelves and to my surprise, no ice cream. How could a place that boasted of dairy products not have ice cream? Majorly bummed, I walked into the bar and ran into a friend who waitressed there. She told me to stay for the Halloween party. I wore no costume except for a cut off tie-dyed Jimi Hendrix T-shirt and those awful tapered pants that could make the skinnest girl look like she carried a hot air balloon for a butt.

The usual costumes walked by - a guy dressed as a devil, a woman dressed like a zebra, etc. Then I saw two men walk in. One guy was dressed normally except he held a small alien that smoked and held a beer. The other was a dude in Beetlejuice clothing with baby powder in his hair.

They stood next to me and I said hello. The guy dressed like the devil passed by. Beetlejuice said, "That guy can go to HELL." I laughed and he said, "Hey! Let's dance. Later." Then he walked away.
I didn't know if he meant that we should dance later or if that was his way of saying goodbye.

He came back and escorted me to the dance floor. The first song the band played was AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long." I remember almost slipping on the baby powder falling from his hair. Instead of enjoying a nice quiet introduction, we yelled each other's names. It went like this:

The Band: "Yeah YOU! Shook me ALL NIGHT LONG."


Him: "TIM!"

Me: "JIM?" I panicked because I broke up with my ex-loser of a fiancee of the same name.


Me: "TERRI!"

Him: "CARRIE?"

Me: "NO! TERRI!"

The Band: "And that was 'You Shook Me ALL Night Long!' And now here's a little country song called 'Rocky Top Tennessee'".

Him: NO WAY!

And we exited the floor and the rest is Great Pumpkin history.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Field Trips Galore!

That's April getting attacked by alien killer pumpkins at Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center, CA. Holly composes a sonata with Beethoven at the Temecula Children's Museum.

Never Too Early for Christmas

Bear in the Big Blue HouseImage via Wikipedia

As I shopped this weekend for Halloween goodies, I noticed the Christmas decorations right next to the costumes at Target.

Although most everyone says it's way too early to think about Christmas in October, I was thankful because it reminded me of one of the best Christmases our family had in the year 2000.

In the ICU Children's Hospital of Los Angeles on an early December morning, Dr. Winfield Wells strolled into my daughter Holly's room.

His street clothes looked like Pat Boone circa 1962: polo shirt, plaid golf pants and white shoes. Holly's cardiologist said he was the best pediatric cardiac surgeon on the planet and I think he knew it.

His team of doctors clamored around him like an entourage with their clipboards and white coats. He said, "It looks like we don't need to put in a pacemaker after all!" A few days earlier he easily patched up Holly's 15-month-old heart with Dacron like a piece of fabric on a rag doll.

She was born with a large ventricular septal defect. After the surgery, it was doubtful Holly's heart would ever beat on its own hence the need for a pacemaker. I talked to God the night before and said if she needs a pacemaker then she needs one.

My husband Tim and I will deal with it. When Holly was born there was never any doubt that Holly wouldn't survive, she just needed extra care. My parents helped us out with that for the first 10 months of her life.

My mom said she would never leave me to take care of Holly by myself. And I think I knew why. My grandmother died from something similar - a leaky heart valve at age 39.

When I told Mom the news about Holly, she immediately put her hands over her face and wailed, no doubt remembering how she watched her young mother pass away.

It took Holly 15 months to gain enough weight for the operation. When she was ready, Dr. Wells said he could wait until after the holidays but we said no, we wanted it done right away.

If she was in the hospital on Christmas day then so be it. There will be more Christmases to celebrate the regular way if there is a such a thing. Most people find the antiseptic smell of hospital rooms annoying but to me it's comforting.

That smell reminds me that we are in the hands of God and that He sends us angels in the bodies of doctors and nurses clad in white to fix whatever needs fixing. The morning Holly went in, a tall nurse with perfect makeup and a bright smile with a Christmas bow on her surgical cap told us,

"Now is the time for hugs and kisses," right before they took her into OR. She gave Holly a teddy bear with a tiny green surgical mask.

When Holly came to, she was attached to tubes and wires when she opened her mouth to cry but no sound came out. My husband left the room but I stayed for her to hear my voice and feel my hand on hers. She had such a small soft hand which gripped my fingers, scarred from surgical tape and IV tubes. Holly was too little to understand the concept of Santa Claus.

I was glad I didn't have to explain that Santa also delivers gifts to hospitals on Christmas Eve. But I wrote her a letter on memo pad paper answering any questions if she was old enough to ask them.

She might ask, "If I'm not allowed to have a Christmas tree in ICU, where does Santa put the presents?" I'd say, "He delivers them to the doctors and nurses and mommies and daddies to bring them to you."

Or she might ask, "Hospitals don't have chimneys, how does he get in?" I'd say, "The nice workers let him in through the front doors."

But there was no need for explanation. The night before her scheduled second surgery to insert a pacemaker, her little heart started beating on her own.

The nurses checked and rechecked the long strips of paper that printed out the rhythm of her heart beats. Doctors upon doctors came into her room looking at the monitors, then at her, then at us. They all said the same thing: "We didn't expect this."

Within a day, Holly began sitting up, dancing in her seat to Disney cartoons. We left the hospital on Christmas Eve. I got to hold her while a nurse wheeled us out which I was robbed of after she was born since Holly had to stay in neonatal ICU.

When Holly saw the sunlight as the doors opened, she smiled, giggled and clapped at it like she just found her favorite toy. On the way home we stopped at McDonald's and tasted those salty and crispy French fries while she chomped away. No more baby hospital food!

There were dark circles under her eyes as we unwrapped presents by the tree that night. But her hazel eyes lit up as she saw the orange teddy bear named Ojo from the TV show Bear in the Big Blue House.

Today, as a ten-year-old, she wants nothing to do with that bear but I keep it up on my dresser, ready with a patch and thread if it ever needs them.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Class of '86

*Hair courtesy of Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame.

*Collar courtesy of one of Elvis's jumpsuits.

*Makeup courtesy of whatever was on sale at Walgreens.

My mission back then was to be deliriously happy because that's what Bruce Willis wrote in his high school yearbook. Who says dreams aren't achieved?

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Resistance is Futile

My parents celebrated their fifty-third anniversary last summer. They married after knowing each other only 10 days in Tupelo, Mississippi.

Mom was a waitress in Murray, Kentucky when she waited on my dad in 1956. Ten days later, my mother wore a blue print dress much like the one Sissy Spacek wore in her wedding scene in the movie Coal Miner's Daughter.

Reflecting on how long my parents stuck together, I discover how much I'm like them. After all, resistance is futile as the Borg says. Here are signs I've morphed a little into my mom:

*I limp softly and carry a big purse. My mom had knee surgeries, I had back surgeries, so we limp and lean on shopping carts. I also donated all my little purses to my daughters' dress-up trunk in favor of a huge purse so I can carry - get this - yarn and crochet hooks.

*I sneeze loudly. I jumped out of my pants each time my mom sneezed when I was little. Now when I sneeze, my girls yell, "BLESS YOU!"

*When I need a stress release, I indulge in retail therapy at Wal-Mart. Maybe it's the bright lights and brand new yellow asterisks. Plus I never have to dress up to go there. When I look around, everyone else has a "come as you are" look about them too. There are more pajamas on Wal-Mart shoppers than a pre-teen slumber party.

*I confuse my family members' names. I call my husband Honey, which sometimes comes out Holly. When I call Holly, I say April, and poor April gets the dog Fluffy.

And here are signs I've morphed a little into my dad:

*I look forward to a nap every day. You'd think my favorite time of the day would be reading, journaling, drawing or yarn work, but nope, it's that little bit of snooze time.

*While relaxing, I refuse to sit in nothing but my favorite easy chair, even though it's old and torn (like Frasier's dad's chair).

*I listen to blue grass music. I may not have been born a hick, but it's in my blood.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Take Your Lower Lip and Pull it Over Your Head

Carol BurnettCarol Burnett via

As a mother, I no longer dread mammograms, pap smears or spinal fusion. I look forward to them like spa treatments.

Major back surgery was painful, of course, but I got oodles of time to myself with a side of morphine. Carol Burnett once said that in order for men to understand childbirth, take your lower lip and pull it over your head.
Well, to understand spinal fusion, take your lower lip, pull it over your head, then pull it back to your neck.

Then stretch it back to your spine down to your toes and put it under your heels. Strap on your best stillettos and dig your heels onto your lower lip. You might understand spinal fusion at least during the hospital stay. Recovery time? That's a different story.

Remove your lower lip from under your stillettos and pull it up to your belt buckle, tuck it into your pants, then snap it back into its original place. And then you get back to your job of mothering.

In my house, you must abide by three simple rules:

1. You must have fun making dinner with me. We made Boboli pizza the other night. The girls fought over who sprinkles the cheese on the sauce. April won because Holly did the sauce. But Holly didn't want too much cheese so she tells April how to do it. April growls.

April's latest thing is to act like an animal. If she ever takes acting lessons and does that embarassing exercise where she walks around a strip mall acting like an iguana or parrot, she's got it down.

Yelling ensues. I separate them into corners like Muhammad Ali and Leon Spinx for time outs. Then I march them back into the kitchen and order them like Louis Gossett Jr., "You two HAVE FUN if it's the LAST THING YOU DO!"

They crack up. I half expect April to do her best Richard Gere impression, "I got nowhere else to go!" Then bark like a dog.

2. If you are a children's author or illustrator, please have a name I can pronounce. When I read to my kids, I always read the author and illustrator's names out loud. Not only is it important to know who created this work, we find more books by these authors at the library.

But it's hard when you can't pronounce their names. I say, "Today we will read 'Jane Goes for a Walk" by Ziadna'en Aidezkyyoiuuon. Illustrated by Andiao;en;knaci Alidja;kanekngalkidu." I do my best but they laugh at me. So I advise if you go into this wonderful line of work, get a pen name.

3. Finally, no fighting until Mommy is at least in her underwear. Many times we get ready in a rush to go somewhere. I'm in a state of undress and I have to break up a screaming and growling fight. I rush out of my room, praying the blinds are closed, to find out what happened. But I can't discipline if I don't have my underwear on. How do you lay down the law when you're buck naked?

So, if these three simple rules cannot be obeyed, I will need a relaxing day to myself until they are. Which reminds me, I'm due for a root canal.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

My Favorite Dads

Waylon JenningsWaylon Jennings via

God loves fathers. He is one. ~Dr. James I. Lamb

*George Harrison - father of his look-alike son Dhani

*Waylon Jennings - father of Shooter who was the reason he quit cocaine. He also has a son named Buddy after Buddy Holly (And what a trip, my daughter's name is Holly).

*Hunter S. Thompson - father of Juan, who was at his house when Hunter shot himself.

*Orson Welles - father of Christopher, Rebecca, and Beatrice.

*Ray Bradbury - father of Susan, Ramona, Bettina, and Alexandra. Mr. Bradbury writes back to those who send him things via snail mail. He knew he had to pursue the creative life when he met Mr. Electrico.

And to my own celebrity dad, Bob Fortney who said this as we watched Donna Summer perform on TV one night: "Donna Summer? Isn't she on Three Different Strokes?"

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October? Love it. February? Not so much.

I don't know any other way to put it but October is awesome. The weather cools off for the first time here, the wind picks up and we get ready for the merry season of Halloween. But there's one month I prefer to wipe off the calendar: February.

Damn it, I hate February. In Wisconsin, it was the worst month EVER. That fat groundhog always pops up, sees his shadow and pisses on the snow.

The holidays are over. The snow and mud mix to an unpleasant sludge. And nobody bothers to scrape their car windows of snow. So they drive relying on their instruments only.

In February, football season is over. Those were the last words Hunter Thompson wrote before he killed himself - in February. So writes Douglas Brinkley for Rolling Stone:

February was always the cruelest month for Hunter S. Thompson. An avid NFL fan,
Hunter traditionally embraced the Super Bowl in January as the high-water mark
of his year. February, by contrast, was doldrums time. Nothing but monstrous
blizzards, bad colds and the lackluster Denver Nuggets.

Then there's Valentine's Day. Talk about pressure for the gentlemen. Guys buy last minute gifts enduring dirty looks from mall employees. If they buy chocolate, ladies cry because their New Year's resolution to lose weight is shot. Flowers are nice but they may cause allergic reactions. They die anyway. Usually in February.

So expensive gifts like jewelry and iPods are pushed by the free market but I wonder: when did Valentine's Day become Christmas? Is this what St. Valentine had in mind when he wed couples on the sly? Did he say, "You may now kiss the bride and for Valentine's Day you better spend no less than a thousand dollars or you get no nooky that night?"

Seriously, the main reason I hate February is because my brother suffered a brain aneurysm last year. My favorite memory of him was a simple ordinary night. We went to Wal-Mart. My youngest daughter, instead of holding my hand in the parking lot, ran and grabbed his hand instead of mine. Then he picked her up and pushed her around in the shopping cart.

Before we left the store, I spotted a sticker in a vending machine that read TATER TOTS RULE. My nickname as a baby was Tater. When I told my brother I was pregnant with my first child, he said, "You're gonna have a tater tot!" I put a quarter in the machine and by chance, luck, or fate, out popped the sticker.

I still have that sticker in my kitchen along with his memorial candle. As I write this, the weather cools off and I'm about to grab my jacket to take my girls and dog to the park to enjoy this awesome day in this wonderful month.

But if there's a new law to erase February from the calendar, I'm all for it.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

Stay-At-Home Mom Schoolin'

I've been a mom for almost 11 years. I count pregnancy because the moment I found out, I thought of nothing else.

If you Google the word "saint" my mom's picture pops up. My only regret: waiting until becoming a mother before I appreciated mine. This is what I learned since having kids. I call it my Stay-At-Home Mom Schoolin':

*You woe the day your daughter finds something wrong with her looks. Just when you, as a woman, stop obsessing about your appearance, she starts. Holly wishes to be as cute as her little sister. I said if she was any more cute she'd combust from spontaneous cuteness.

*The less words you use, the more they listen.

*They stop whatever they are doing, no matter what, to watch the Simpsons with you even if they don't understand all the jokes. Then you have to turn it off when Bart says, "Go to hell!" or "You suck!" Because they sure as hell don't hear that language from me. That would seriously suck.

*If your child is born with birth defects you never stop blaming yourself even if they're not your fault.

*Because of these defects, if they have a crappy first year of life, you spend a lifetime making it up.

*Never speak figuratively to a child. Like if you say, "I'm in so much pain I'm gonna die," they think you will.

*Any joke, bad or good, about any bodily function is HILARIOUS. And they laugh for hours.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009


Today we got a card from Mom. She kinda sorta forgot my daughter's tenth birthday. She more than made up for it by sending a check for Holly to buy a Webkinz.

I can totally understand the forgetting part. Just the other day a friend e-mailed me the story of Lucy from the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" passing away. I e-mailed her back and said, "I remember reading about her a while ago. Did you send me the article?" She wrote back, "Oh dear, you've forgotten already. YOU sent me the article." To which I replied, "Epic Alzheimers FAIL."

Mom keeps her sense of humor about memory as she writes in her best note ever:

Sorry I forgot :( to put this check in Holly's card. I'm so
forgetful. At least I haven't stuffed your dad in the clothes dryer

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Elvis, Pineapples and Pizza

In the book Pizza, Pigs and Poetry, Jack Prelutzky asks, "Have you ever written a poem about a pizza?" Well, no. But I can cook up some prose.

Here goes: It was January 8, 1999. While at work I ordered a pizza for lunch. A whole pizza. Just for me. It was Elvis' birthday so I thought I'd celebrate by eating pineapple on my pizza for the first time. A little Blue Hawaii flare.

Suprisingly, I ate the whole pizza by myself and didn't blow up like hot air balloon. Before I ordered a luau for lunch that day, I tried to lose a few but something didn't fit right. And it wasn't just my jeans. I mean, I was supposed to feel guilty for eating so much, right?

When I ate the juicy fibers of the pineapple with the cheesy saucy crust, I was happy. Little did I know I was pregnant with my first child. I didn't find that out until seventeen days later. That day I ate my pizza in utter bliss though I didn't know why I was so happy.

I was binging, after all. Ruining my figure. I took acting classes at the time and the camera already packed on pounds. My coach noticed and told me to drop a few. Maybe it was the rebel in me or the growing life inside of me that said, "Hey! What the heck is wrong with you? Since when do you let someone else's ideals tell you what to do?"

Since then it's hard for me to pack away a whole pizza in one sitting. I doubt that bliss will visit me again while eating. Instead it transferred into motherhood which I could never fit into a pie.

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Questions I Can't Answer

Holly turned 10 year old about 2 weeks ago. I found some questions I wrote down that she asked from 3 years old on. None of these I could answer for her then and I still can't now:

*Why isn't there a wall of space (as opposed to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound)?

*Did God make Himself? (when I said God made everything)

*Will I need surgery to have breasts? Why does a woman want surgery to have bigger breasts? (after I explained what boob jobs are)

*How big is a cold? Because if it fits in my nose, it must be pretty small.

*Why on the TV show Dragon Tales do they say "the adventures never end" when they do?

My only response is to ask questions when I can't answer her, such as:

*Why do I bother to put a hamper in your bedroom when your dirty clothes are everywhere except in it?

*Can the theory of relativity be applied to the time in between picking up toys and throwing them on the floor?

*Why did your then two-year-old sister stare at her food on the table but didn't hesitate to eat it off the floor?

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

This is Funny Camp

While homeschooling my almost 6-year-old, she requested her favorite set of flash cards: the U.S. Presidents. I thought they might be too hard for her but she took to them quickly.

I showed her a card of our 18th president, Ulysses Simpson Grant. She said, "Ulysses Simpson Graham Cracker."

Then came our 19th president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes. She called him, "Rutherford Birchard 'Horses Eat Hayes'."

Next up, the 20th president James Abram Garfield. She said, "James Abram Barf-field."

I asked her why the twist on names? She said, "This is Funny Camp. I learn to tell jokes." I said that's nice but sometimes we have to take our learning seriously.

So we went along with our serious faces learning the names of the presidents. Then I showed her Warren G. Harding.

Always closing, she said, "Warren G. Farting."

Friday, September 25, 2009

What a Wonderful World This Would Be

List what your perfect world would be like:

Kids play outside by themselves and explore the countryside like I did as a child.

Poetry is never a turn-off.

Chocolate is a staple.

My dog never needs grooming and he trims his own nails.

I don't see a complete mirror of myself when I discipline.

Libraries never close.

Nobody worries about the mess when they paint.

Stamps stay the same price.

Naps are mandatory.

Proof exists that all good dogs go to heaven and they play with my big brother up there.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Not Your Usual To-Do Lists

Thanks to listography, I now have purpose in my visits to Barnes & Noble. I order a grande mocha Frappucino (though it should be a tall but the darn barrista always convinces me to go grande). Then I sit and fill out my list journal with the built-in elastic band.

I don't know what it is about those elastic bands but I can't resist them. There's something so complete about closing up a journal with a colorful ribbon like I've accomplished something be it ever so small.

I also don't roam the Self-Improvement section looking for the next best-book-that-feeds-on-my-inferiority-complex anymore. I might book snack but I never finish. I prefer either a) picture books because I know I'll read them to my children or b) notebooks with elastic ribbons because they get used.

But I digress. Here's my current list of faves: List Your Favorite Things to Do in Your Free Time

Make lists at Barnes & Noble.

Listen in on cell conversations (because they're impossible to avoid).

Take water aerobics because I never get a lane at the gym to swim laps.

Choose pics from Flickr for my blogs. One night I skimmed for pics and found a wonderful story about a dog that ate 2 pounds of chocolate and almost died. Miraculously she recovered. She looks like my dog and bears the same name as my daughter so that drew me in. And I thought the site was just for downloading free pictures.

Teach a child something new. I taught a group of kindergarteners the 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 song from Sesame Street. Or was it The Electric Company? That's the way I learned my numbers when I was their age.

AND I showed a 4th grader how to write a haiku. Her assignment was to write a poem about Autumn. To be honest, the haiku is the shortest way to write a poem. But NOT the easiest because you have the least amount of words to convey your feelings.

E-mail Shepard Smith @ My latest: One thing I learned about foreign leaders who hate America: they SUPER UGLY.

Finally, I read fantastic blogs such as:

Because I learned if you wanna be a good blogger, you gotta read great blogs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Laughter Like a Phoenix

Laughter rises out of tragedy, when you need it the most, and rewards you for your courage.
~ Erma Bombeck

This weekend is the 24th anniversary of a high school friend who committed suicide. One night, Jim, a curly-haired ear-pierced football player, came up and hugged me after a game.

It seemed odd because we weren't dating or even close friends, just acquaintances. He said nothing but I remember his letterman's jacket all warm and cozy. He looked crestfallen. A week later I realized it was his way of saying goodbye.

He committed suicide in his parent's bathroom with a hand gun, possibly foreseeing that clean-up would be easier in the bathroom rather than any other room in the house.

My classmates and I all sat together at the funeral watching the boys from my class who just seemed too young to be carrying this burden, his casket, down the aisle. The pastor blankly read his bio from the newspaper like he barely knew him.

Then we sang hymns. An older woman who sat behind us sang with a voice that boomed off-key and loud with a thick German accent. My friends and I looked at each other and giggled. I thought, oh my gosh, this is such a sad event with this young man cutting off his life so short and we can't stop laughing!

It was like his plea to us from the great beyond for someone, anyone, not to take this so seriously. I sense one who commits suicide immediately regrets it although they are not around to admit it to anyone. It's unforgivable. Not by God but by the family they leave behind.

God deals with those who take their lives in ways we'll never know. He doles out teaspoons of goodness to the survivors gradually. Teaspoons turn to cups that overflow. The good the family never thought imaginable turns into ten-fold, twenty-fold, and forty-fold until they can't contain it anymore.

It's God way of making up for losing a son, brother, sister, father, mother, or friend who chose to return His merchandise.

At the grave site, a spray of flowers adorned Jim's casket. Everyone walked by and took a flower from it. I walked towards it and slipped a little, catching myself on the casket. I thought, oh no, I'm gonna fall right down here six feet into this hole - and there's Jim, laughing his butt off.

Luckily I regained my footing and took the flower with me, quietly giggling to myself.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Animal Poets RROWWRR!

A lavender farm in HokkaidōImage via Wikipedia

One night, my daughter got out of the bath smelling like mint and lavender. I said she smelled beautiful.

She asked, "Just like mint soup?"

"Yeah, like mint soup." I added she sounded like a poet.

"What's a poet?"

"It's when a writer uses words to make them sound pretty."

"I thought a poet was an animal," she said.

"Yeah, that too."

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Need for Donna Reed

Cropped screenshot of Donna Reed from the trai...Image via Wikipedia

Some days I strive to be just like Donna Reed in my quest for perfect motherhood. Other days I feel more like Sylvia Plath, who at least made her kids peanut butter sandwiches before she gassed herself to death.

When I found out my first child was a girl, I thought, oh how sweet, I'll have hours of enjoyment brushing her hair every night. Nope. She runs away screaming if I even come near her with a comb, brush, or even a plastic fork to get the knots out.

When my second daughter came along, I thought, oh how sweet, they'll have hours of enjoyment dressing up in fairy costumes and having tea parties. Nope. They'd rather wrap themselves up in towels, put their hair up in ponytails and play Sumo wrestlers.

Since Donna Reed kept a pristine House of Order, I first vow to keep on top of laundry. But my girls go through more wardrobe changes in a day than Cher, Madonna and Mariah Carey combined. Costumes are strewn all over the master bedroom. Wigs adorn lamp shades. The buffet table back stage serves only M&Ms and grape Popsicles.

You know the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Raoul Duke wakes up in the hotel room wearing fisherman boots and a dinosaur tail? He wades in a foot of water and sighs, "Oh Debbie," to Debbie Reynold's shrine at the altar. That's what my living room looks like.

Most days I maintain a nurturing voice like Donna Reed, but I still lose my cool. I knew I had to stop cussing in front of my kids when my then 4-year-old asked me how to spell DAMMIT on the fridge with magnetic letters. Another time my older daughter said, "I'm so sick of this crap!" And I had a REALLY hard time explaining that crap isn't technically a bad word but used in that manner it is. Which really frustrates the crap out of me.

Regarding my appearance, I maintain a somewhat demure Donna Reed-like manner in my choice of fashion. But with some young women that my girls encounter, I can't cover their eyes quick enough.

One evening, I took my daughters to a restaurant called Texas Loosey's. I had "Kids Eat Free" coupons so silly me for thinking it might be family-friendly. Our waitress comes to the table. She's dressed in a bikini, leather chaps with the derriere hanging out, belly ring, and a cowboy hat (cover your head dear, Lord knows we don't want you to catch cold). My youngest took one look and said, "WHAAAAAT?"

When the day is over and we settle down, we do have those moments that probably would make great sappy television. We get together and I'll read a book like Nancy Tillman's On the Night You Were Born, or anything by Karma Wilson or Eric Carle.

We also have in-depth conversations on what it's like to be different ages. My oldest daughter asks me what age I'd like to be. Not to let on that I want to be anything different than I already am, I say, "I want to be 41." She, at age 9, replies, "I want to be 14." And my youngest, whom I dub "The Princess of Non-Sequitur," says, "I want to be a donut."

And then my need for Donna Reed subsides quicker than a commercial break.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jackass's Guide to InterNetiquette

I've been a member of various internet message boards for 15 years now. The best thing about the internet is that anybody can say anything they want to for the world to read.

The worst thing about the internet is that anybody can say anything they want to for the world to read.

Hence, I created A Jackass's Guide to InterNetiquette

1. Don't namedrop. Why? Unless you have something unique and interesting to say about a celebrity, No.One.Cares.

Nobody really cares if you saw Mario Lopez at the gym, or Dean Cain at Venice Beach, or Elliot Gould at the post office (all of which happened to me by the way. See? See how annoying that is?) I'm all for hearing great stories about great people, though, so if you're going to say something, make it worth reading.

Here's an example from one of my internet friends Sam from Mayberry:

I actually got to meet Paul Stanley with my wife and kid at Wentworth Galleries a couple of years ago.

We bought a print of "Green Planet" and Paul was extra cool to my little girl, Kenzie.

She told him that she was just starting to play bass and he asked how old she was and she told him 11. He then said he had a son that was around the same age and that the two of them should get together and jam.

Without missing a beat Kenzie looks him dead in the eye and says, "Hey, sounds good. I'm always lookin' for people." To which he laughed heartily.

2. Think up comebacks quickly. You look like a loser if you wait more than 24 hours to say whatEVER to someone who typed an emoticon with rolling eyes.

3. Never say anything you wouldn't mind getting beat up for in public.

4. Don't make fun of what anybody does for a living, or what someone doesn't do for a living. Stay-at-home moms work harder than you ever will. So don't try to intimidate us with your nasty remarks from your big scary keyboard.

5. Never tell anyone they're wasting time on the internet and they should spend more time with real people. Because look around you. You aren't exactly the social butterfly yourself.

Follow these 5 simple rules and you'll be a well-rounded person in virtual AND real time.

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Instead of These Comedians

From the television feed of Kennedy's birthday...Image via Wikipedia

"It's not just that you're never coming back to me, it's the bitter way that
I was told." -- Elvis
, "The Comedians"

Elvis Costello sure got around in 1989. He had a great album called Spike, a hit song "Veronica," and wrote "My Brave Face"for Paul McCartney. But the one song I most remember Costello for, in spite of an illustrious songwriting career, is "The Comedians" for Roy Orbison's album, Mystery Girl.

All these songs were hits at the same time I dated my ex-boyfriend, fiancee, whatever you want to call him. Always a ring but never a date despite everyone asking us when the BIG DAY was.

He took me to a wedding in which he was a member of the party. I sat at my table fuming while watching him dance song after song with a beautiful brunette bridesmaid who sang at the wedding. He asked me, "Isn't she a wonderful singer?" This is where the phrase, "Dance with the girl you came with" found its literal meaning.

I watched them dance, and when I they stopped I thought, maybe, just maybe, he'd ask me to dance. Yet, DJ played another song and they kept dancing.

Before I sat down to watch these comedians, his brother helped me with my chair at our table. When he struggled with pushing me in, he said, "My brother's right, you have gained weight!"

Wow, how many blows can a gal take? The kicker was that I wasn't even fat, at least from my 41-year-old self today looking back 20 years . I just didn't fit into that skinny '80s aerobic biker short and leg warmer ideal.

It was after Marilyn Monroe but before J.Lo when curves were embraced; that horrible Jane Fonda-type era. Not only was Fonda Hanoi Hanna, she helped throw young girls into body obsession.

There were so many songs that year that helped me overcome this breakup. One was "I'll Feel a Whole Lot Better" by Tom Petty on Full Moon Fever. It's practically a copycat of Roger McGuinn's performance of the same song. No matter. All that really mattered were the lyrics:

Now I got to say

That it's not like before

And I'm not gonna play

Your game any more

After what you did

I can't stay on

And I'll probably feel a whole lot better

When you're gone

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Like an Ice Cream Sundae

A chocolate sundaeImage via Wikipedia

Holly came up with an astute analogy on writing the other day. She said it's like an ice cream sundae: writing is ice cream, people reading it is chocolate syrup, and getting paid is the cherry on top.

Think about it. You can enjoy the ice cream by itself by just writing. It's even better with the toppings. But you don't need the cherry to delight in the entire experience. I think, how does she do that? How is she on this earth for only ten years and come up with that? And why didn't I think of it first?

Maybe when I need to discipline her I take away her books. And for that I have to thank Paula Danziger and her Amber Brown series which got Holly to not only start reading but to enjoy it. She related to the second grade character whose best friend moved away which happened to Holly in second grade also. Amber grew up but didn't get past 4th grade because sadly Danziger passed away from a heart attack in 2004.

I mentioned to Holly that some day she could continue the Amber Brown series but she said no. Her current project is a comic book series called Die Barney, as in the purple dinosaur. I'm not sure whether to be proud or disturbed. I'm banking on pride.
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