Friday, August 31, 2007

Don't Forget The Matches

While on a phone call with my mom yesterday:

Me: The kids are great, but still, you know, horrible, too. I think it's the second week of school syndrome. They've all been acting out a lot lately.

Mom: Well, they do it with their mother because that's where they feel comfortable, Jenny. You once told me that you were so angry at me because you could be. That I was like a big comfortable chair you could just collapse into and not be polite with.

Me: Huh. I don't think my kids would use the same analogy. I think to them I'm like that familiar voodoo doll you can stab, coat in lighter fluid and burn who still loves you anyway.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday

So. I would like to start something, guys. It doesn't have to be every Thursday. In fact, how about just the last Thursday of each month? I would like whoever stops by this blog to take a second today and think, How can I make a small difference today? What can I do, however small, to make the world just a little bit better? My dear friend, Alice, and I often talk about doing something like this, so here goes. We're doing it.

I did something yesterday that was thrilling. And also a little nerve-wracking. I am selling something on eBay for the very first time, and the proceeds are all directly going to charity (assuming it sells!). It felt really good to do this. I mean REALLY good. This is the eBay listing: but if you want to just read the product description, I've cut and pasted it below.

If you want to take part in my new idea for Philanthropy Thursday, would you post a bit on your own blog and help spread the word? If you don't have a blog, would you let your friends know, anyway? Then just shoot me a comment or an e-mail and I'll link up to you right here at the bottom of the post. I'd be so honored if you did. I know that there is so much amazing energy in this blogosphere, and if I could be a part of something small to make the world a little better? Well, that would be amazing. Here's the product description as it reads on eBay:

I have wanted to do something, anything, for some time to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, I am like most people. I live far from the damage. I have a busy, fulfilling life as a mother and writer. I am privileged, with medical care, adequate insurance, and family earning potential that would shelter me from the tragic circumstances of those affected by Hurricane Katrina.
I'm not rich, however. And so I go about my life musing how "one day," when we make just a little bit more, I will do something fantastic to help those in need. How many of us think this way? That if we can't do something grand, then we will not do anything at all? We will wait for the perfect opportunity to arise. Let me tell you, that is probably never going to happen.
And so fate had me at home in the afternoon today. With four children causing me to put more miles on my car than a NYC Taxi cab, I am rarely home when Oprah airs. And when I am? I am doing fun(!) things like cleaning toilets, dodging pets, agonizing over homework, or moderating yet another bickerfest between my older children. But today I was tired. And feeling sorry for myself. I had had it *up to here* with the eye-rollings and door slammings that are par for the course with preteens in the house. Poor me, right?
Oprah aired a show today showcasing the fallout of Hurricane Katrina, two years later. I was floored. In some areas, it's as if nothing has been done. Thousands of families are living in FEMA trailers that were intended as temporary housing. These families are now sick, due to the formaldehyde seeping from the particle board walls. One family shown, with five beautiful children, had the mom talking about how her children endured severe nosebleeds, were on handfuls of pills, and how her 18 month old son (who looked a lot like my own 13 month old boy) had to use a breathing aid every day, he was so sick from his own home.
I wept.
I learned that the crime rate is horrendous, rendering a certain section in New Orleans the worst in the nation. There is a fraction of the doctors and nurses there once was, few hospital beds, and an increased death rate.
This is America? This is how insurance companies pay back their clients? This is how we, as fellow human beings allow things to get? What if this were me? Or you? Or your best friend? What would you do differently?
So I've decided that the people in New Orleans are my new best friends. I have a wedding ring set that I was holding on to, either to have made into earrings or sell and fund a trip to Europe with my daughters. It's 1.3 total carats. We bought it at Fred Meyer Jewelers in 1993. The solitaire is just under .8 carats, and the ring wrap, which is sautered to the band, is four diamonds, totalling .5 carats. It's beautiful. Shortly after my husband and I renewed our wedding vows four and a half years ago, he surprised me with a different ring, which is why I have had this one, in its original box.
We paid $1,800 for the solitaire and $700 for the wrap in 1993. It's insured for $5,000. You can see no flaws with the naked eye, although with a loup I suppose you can, since it's graded as SI, with an H color. For all the years I wore it, I received so many compliments I lost count. It sparkles like crazy, and during our lean years as a young couple, I took a lot of pride in always having that one beautiful thing.
Whoever wins this bid will be required to send funds to the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity. I will not touch a check, since I would rather get the money to them as soon, and as simply, as possible.
My hope? That you all decide New Orleans is your new best friend, or daughter, or mom, and bid as much as you can and feel good when you send that check to a charity that will help rebuild part of America. Maybe a part of you will be rebuilt, too.

People who are making a difference today:



Kristi B.




Lucky Candice


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Broken Shell of a Woman

I have this great memory. I was in my early twenties and working at a law firm, finishing college, and one of my work buddies was Valerie, an "older" woman who was married with a toddler. She was ancient; if memory serves, she was 26 or 27 at the time (gack, struggling for breath here). She was a real grown up: house, husband, baby, four door sedan and a full-time job. I really looked up to her, and thought her lunchtime anecdotes about daycare, home budgets, and Pampered Chef parties were fascinating.

One day, Valerie was sick and at work anyway. I asked her why she didn't just go home and rest. She told me it was easier to be at work sick than at home sick, because she would have to pick her two year-old up from daycare, and that just wasn't worth it.

"Well why don't you just ask your daughter to play nicely while mommy rests? Explain to her why you're not feeling well. Give her things to do and go lay down." I waited, smug in my knowledge that I had outsmarted the mommy. Sometimes, people just can't see the forest for the trees, you know?

I don't know why she didn't just bean me with a legal file, or worse, stop talking to me. She must have been extraordinarily ill. But that's not the point of my story. I remember thinking to myself, and later telling my fiance, that when we had kids, things would be different. Yes, not only were the first seeds of mommy judgment planted that day, they germinated alongside the hearty flora and fauna of Futurous Maternalous Planneous. It's a bitch of a plant.

We would raise cerebral children. Our kids would be precociously verbal, either because of genetics or our diligence, or both. Our children wouldn't watch television, unless it was a video to supplement their sign-language, or Russian, or European history facts.

We would not bribe our children, or yell; reasoning and calm would prevail. The family dinner table would be laden with several healthy, lovingly prepared options that our future Rhodes Scholars would devour without complaint. We would giggle over one of the children's observations that the jicama salad resembled the profile of Mao Tse Tung. Bob and I would hold hands while we listened to our children stumble over their first pronunciation of denouement. After dessert of fresh berries, picked from the garden planted earlier in the year with the children, we would read aloud from the Classics.

I would excuse myself after dinner to read in my favorite chair, as the housekeeper finished the dinner dishes (our trilingual PhD candidate housekeeper who taught our children Mendel's genetics through the pea plants in the aforementioned garden) and the sounds of the viola, piano and cello would waft through the house. I would note the time each night, after losing myself uninterrupted in yet another novel, and quietly announce that the children needed to be in bed. Somehow, they would hear me, and they would all put their instruments away, brush their teeth, say prayers thanking God for their amazing lives, and wait to be kissed goodnight.

Yes, I was certain in my abilities that not only would I do it all right, but that when my friend did it wrong, it was simply a matter of course correction. Judgment? Meet blind optimism and her date stupidity.

Tonight was a stream of consciousness bickerfest between the older three that ended with me telling the girls that everytime they argued, shouted, or used harsh words, their baby brother's brain stopped growing (I was serious). So when my daughter whined asked for help with her homework when she should have been in bed, I looked at Bob with wild-eyed desperation and hissed, "I will do anything you want later tonight if you will just take care of homework."

He did. After helping her for a protracted amount of time, wherein I heard the muffled cries of distress over fractions, he emerged from her bedroom. He silently went into the kitchen and took a fork out of the drawer. He walked over to me and handed me the utensil.

"Please. Just stab me in the eye."

I think we have some weeds in the garden.

Tornado Tuesday

Tuesdays at our house are fast becoming the busiest day of the week. The girls have more than one dance class today, and we aren't all home until 8:00 p.m.

It's also my first day of kindergarten playground duty (oh, yeah) with a regular crazy day sandwiched in between. In the fall, Tuesdays are my soup day.

So, since I have to bolt out of the house in less than thirty minutes, and my hair is still wet, I thought I'd share a quick, simple, but incredibly healthy soup that my kids devour. I'm no Pioneer Woman, with step-by-step pics, but this soup is so easy, it doesn't need it.

Fabulous Enchilada Soup

I lb. ground turkey or vegetarian crumble
1 pack enchilada seasoning
1 large can diced tomatoes with garlic and olive oil or two regular cans
1 can corn (or cup and a half of fresh)
i can black beans, drained
2 tbsp olive oil
Cumin, salt, pepper to taste
1-2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Brown the turkey or vegetarian crumble in stock pan with oil. Add seasoning. Add corn, tomatoes, beans. Let simmer while you take out bowls, set the table, or whip up some corn bread. I like cumin, so when I salt and pepper to taste, I add extra cumin. Ladle into bowls, top with cheese.

Monday, August 27, 2007

My Own Big Love

While watching HBO last night with Bob, two lines made him chortle like a Christmas elf. The first, Our husband's dating life is none of our business! came from Big Love and the second, Wives are like a case of herpes. They come and go as they please came from Entourage.

After his first guffaw, I looked at him and said, "Fine. Go ahead and get a second wife. Except you can't sleep with her and she has to cook. Tell her I like dinner on the table when I come back with the kids from dance class."

Bob held my face in his hands and gently told me, "I would never, ever, want another wife. I can't even handle you sweetheart."

Except now, the idea of a wife? Someone who knows I like my eggs over hard and makes the beds while I'm in the shower? Someone who is there to lovingly watch my children should I need to be gone at a moment's notice? Someone who will "magically" clean the bathrooms?

We've got some extra room.

Check out this week's issue of Top Blog Magazine for some great stories, plus a new one of mine. Go on, you know you need to procrastinate some more. The work will be there when you get back.

Friday, August 24, 2007

If Lovin' You is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be Right. An Ode to My 1998 Ford Expedition

This is a tribute to someone very special. Big Red.

Big Red, you entered my life when I was hugely pregnant with my third child. Where others thought me rotund, scarily fertile, you? You embraced me in a way no one else could. You cupped me from behind, your soft, leathery embrace creating a sense of security I'd never felt before you came along.

No matter what the weather, no matter where we were, you were there to push us through, protecting me as we took our journey together. There were others before you. We both know this. But they were smaller than you in places where it really counts. You took me places the others couldn't, pushing us both to new heights. The others were bald and stout and unable to get me up to the altitude I needed for real thrills.

As the years passed, I knew other women who strayed. Other women who decided that they need an upgrade in their lives. You and I both know, Big Red, that you were the one for me. I remained loyal, even when my friends urged me to get rid of you. They said you were too needy, too high maintenance. That you needed to much to get you going, that you were unfashionably big with loose belts and a craggy exterior.

Who has the last laugh now, Big Red? That's right. You and me. Those friends of mine all upgraded to fancy, new loves. Sure, they're sleek and look great. But they can't enjoy life, since all their money has been spent on acquiring and keeping these new, younger companions. We're together out of true love.

This is part of a PBN Blog Blast for Friday. Join in! Go to PBN for details on how to play along and maybe even win some cool stuff from Ask Patty.
AskPatty is a fantastic website providing automotive advice for women. It was highlighted on Cool Mom Picks last fall, and the AskPatty staff has recently launched CarBlabber, a place for women to write about their cars - the good, bad, and ugly - and to learn what other women think of their own cars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


One of the things about motherhood that I still don't get, even after more than a dozen years of this parenting gig, is how I can feel so many things about my children in the span of one day.

Take yesterday. Please. My morning started wonderfully. I was up, showered, and out the door with the kids by 7:45. I don't know about you, but if I'm showered and ready first thing? I've got the tiger by the tail, baby. A bad day always involves me in a shirt, no bra, sweat in places where moisture shouldn't be, and piles of things to do. A good day? Well, yesterday looked to be headed in that direction.

It started at the kids' school. This year, the older three are all at the same school. You have no idea how much this enhances my life. The name of my blog largely was born from the fact that I had three kids in three different schools. Not. Fun. So instead of doing a little at each school, PTA at one, Girl Scouts at another, and so on, I am able to focus my energies in one place. And it feels wonderful. I met with our PTA president, made the rounds in my kids' classrooms, and charted out my plan of attack for the first half of the school year. This kind of stuff really makes me happy. I've always done PTA (or PTO or PTG) and when we lived in Georgia I even sat on a Department of Defense school board (now that is another story all together).

Then I thought I'd head to the gym, where I would stash Jack in the nursery and get a workout in before lunch and picking up Jacob from kindergarten. Except Jack wasn't in the mood to let mom get her endorphin rush, and the workout was cut short because Jack doesn't understand that the only reason I'm not on some cocktail of pharmaceuticals is because I self-medicate with exercise. So I was irrationally irritated at my one year-old for not understanding that I just needed thirty more minutes on the elliptical. Which made me feel guilty, and subsequently more pissy for feeling that way in the first place. Aack.

Then I picked up Jacob. He was in a mood: surly, disheveled, and not wanting to come home. I knew he'd be fine in kindergarten. "Mom! I want to keep playing!" I explained that he got to stay with me for the afternoon and that we would be doing fun(!) things like grocery shopping and heading to the post office, and maybe even the craft store to obtain 342 miniature starfish for a PTA project. Jacob growled at me in a very scary neanderthal way he has that makes me worry he will be a thug one day (does anyone else do this? Project dire things into the future when their child acts in anti-social ways? ). He huffed his way into the car and screamed at me that I got an X! Jacob has recently taken to keeping mental files on each of the family members, and an X? Not a mark you want in your file.

Then, the girls. My precious, hormone soaked, mercurial girls. Notice I didn't say bitchy. Because that would be wrong.

As they skipped out of their classrooms after school, my heart swelled with pride. They are just so lovely, so full of life, and already more than I ever expected they could be. I paused to talk to each of their teachers, happy that so far each girl seems to be doing swimmingly. What gets me is this: in school and anywhere else, they have a smile on their faces, they are helpful, polite and articulate. They jump to help others and are kind to kids younger than them. When I see this, I feel at peace with how I've done so far as a mother.

By the time we get home, this facade has unraveled, the faces of two delightful girls in a puddle at the bottom of my car, having been replaced with those dreadful stepsisters from Cinderella. They are at each other's throats, or bickering with Jacob, or heaving heavy sighs of pain because they just learned we won't be having dessert with dinner. Sometimes the eye rolling becomes so severe I am forced to wonder if they are indeed experiencing a Grand Mal seizure. Ghetto kids have nothing on my girls. My girls have to clean their own rooms, wipe down their own bathrooms and generally be helpful around the house before riding their bikes, or climbing the tree house or being transported to one of the myriad of activities they've suckered me into signing them up for. It's a hard life, and they let me know it with door slams, stomping, and furrowed brows. Occasionally, a venom laced invective is hurled my way through a closed door and I have to remind myself that I choose to stay home with these people. It is, in fact, a privilege.

All these feelings, in the span of less than one day. It wears me out. My hope for today, as I reflect on yesterday, is that I obtain that thick outer shell I've somehow lost over the summer and not take the mood swings and normal squabblings of children so personally. And that my state legalizes the use of elephant tranquilizers on children.

Wordless Wednesday: Sometimes It's Nice to be the Passenger

Somewhere in Kansas

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

In The Name of Mall of America. Amen.

On our last day in Minnesota we acquiesced to the pleas of our preteen offspring and took them to The Holy Land.

Armed with their copy of Guinness's World's Records, they spouted off trivia to me in their efforts to seal the deal. Mall of America is the world's eighth largest mall. At any given time there are more people inside that mall than live in our town. How, how does a young shopper absorb all that without passing out, gift card squeezed in a sweaty, lifeless hand? They wanted to see the theme park inside a mall and test its existence, the thought of ferris wheels and roller coasters in the very place that houses Claire's almost too much to bear. The closest our small town mall will ever come to an amusement park is the after-Christmas sale at Penney's. There was also an aquarium with sharks, and all the shopping a young girl could stand.

We spent our last day there, and I was really amazed at how much fun we had. First, I was expecting something like the big fancy malls two hours south of us. These places are filled with perfect women with their Chanel eye wear perched atop ironed hair, tiny little Prada tees and painted on Seven jeans. They teeter about shops like Versace and St. Johns in their Jimmy Choos. And these are the mommys. You can spot them, because underneath their Marc Jacobs bags they're clutching a Juicy diaper bag and if you wait a moment, you might even spot actual progeny. I don't like the way those kinds of places make me feel. I might leave my home feeling cute as a button in an Eddie Bauer skirt and t-shirt, but come back feeling rumpled and sort of like I'm a little blurry around the edges.

But Mall of America? In America's Heartland? The great Midwest where good women have bobbed hair, capris pants and maybe a cute camp shirt? Where the glamorous moms have added hoop earrings and a camisole underneath said campshirt? Where there is no litter to be found, clean children, and evidence of Boy Scouts everywhere? We had a ball.

The kids did the rides for a few hours, pet the sharks, and ate lunch. My girls went into stores that featured lots of prettily displayed cheap plastic costume jewelry and nearly went into apoplectic fits when they discovered that they could buy many trinkets for mere dollars. They spent gift cards they've been hoarding for the past year, they met wild-eyed at the Abercrombie teen store and emerged with the coveted hoodie sweatshirt bearing the store's logo.

We took Jack into Nordstrom to buy a pair of sturdy baby shoes, the kind that look semi-orthopedic. Because he's still not walking, but he's making progress, and according to his doctor he needs something to help stabilize his feet. We entered the Nordstrom children's shoes department and it was a zoo. Literally. There was an enormous floor to ceiling aquarium and mothers and children everywhere. We had to take a number, it was so busy. Bob wins the Good Husband of the Year Award, because when I discovered we'd be waiting for the better part of an hour, he didn't even bat an eyelash when I said I should probably just scoot on over to lingerie while he waited, fitted Jack for shoes, and paid for them. It would be like feeding two birds with one seed, you know?

*cue sexy music*

And that's when I had my date at Nordstrom.

I entered the lingerie section, knowing I needed to get a new bra. I'm not nursing anymore, and every bra I own is a different size, none of them fitting right. I needed to get fitted and get something well-made. I was approached by a tiny woman with really high cheekbones. She looked Japanese-American, but when she opened her mouth, she sounded vaguely European. Before I could finish telling her that I needed a really good bra and that I had never really been measured for size, she had whisked me into a fitting room.

With a snap of her measuring tape, she stared at me. Oh. I took off my shirt. She didn't move, and I reluctantly unhooked my bra, something I am loathe to do unless in the inky black of night. She was all efficient moves, her tape around my ribs, her quick gesture to my old bra on the floor.

"What size were you wearing?"

"Uh, this one is a 36 B. But it's one of mine that really doesn't fit well."

With a tsking sound of disdain she turned and left the dressing room. Over her shoulder she called, "You are a 32 C, maybe D in some of our lines, I will get some bras for you now."

She quickly returned, lacy goods in hand, and instructed me to place my arms out in front of me. She placed the bra on me, snapped the hook closures, and reached a tiny hand around and grabbed my boob. She lifted the remnants of my mammaries and adjusted them into the cup. I couldn't move. I stood there as she squeezed, adjusted and maneuvered my breasts into very expensive bras by La Perla and Chantelle. When she had finished, she patted the outsides of my breasts and took a step back. "There. Much better, you think?"

I felt like I should say something to acknowledge the action my boobs had just received. Maybe, What are you doing later tonight? But instead, I looked in the mirror and gasped. It was like a lift without scarring. Really. If you have nursed more than one child and you are reading this? Go. Run. Get thee to a fitter and put your girls in $200 lace cups. Because you will feel like a girl again, I promise.

We all had a marvelous time at the Midwest's largest tribute to retail. I'm still glowing from my bras, with an urge to make a hot dish, and the girls have pointed their beds toward Mecca Minneapolis and await next summer's pilgrimage with great happiness.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Screeching into Home Sideways

Whew! We're home! School starts for the older three today, so as I type this, my girls are already bickering over who gets what hair accessories, and I just heard a frantic scream from one daughter informing us all that she needs a training bra now.

We had the greatest time at the lake, even though there was no electricity, running water, and I bathed in good clean Minnesota lake water for a week. I can't wait to write about it. But this morning I need to get my kids off to school and see how well Jacob does in kindergarten (he should be fine).

I'll be back, with stories from the world's craziest family (we logged over 4,000 miles in road trips this summer) and I also can't wait to read what's been going on in the blogosphere.

I loved being unplugged for ten days, but now I'm ready for some carpel tunnel!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Squeezing the Last Juice Out of Summer

It was just yesterday that the kids were out of school and we were readying ourselves for the road trip to beat all road trips: four women and thirteen children to Mexico. Now it's a little over a week before my older three are back in school and we're about to leave for another road trip.

We're waking up at the crack of dawn and driving to Minnesota. Land of casseroles, sensible shoes, and lakes stocked with all the bass and crappy (or is that crappy bass?) you can catch. We're descending on cousins and caravaning to the family lake where we hope to perfect the art of avoiding mosquitoes while making the perfect s'mores. The last time we were there, the mosquitoes were so thick we all looked like pox victims, even with 100% DEET coating our skin. It's totally worth it.

I'll be snapping pictures, eating fish, and floating on a foam noodle in the lake with the kids. Bob is bringing his laptop, but I have the feeling it won't make it out of the car.

Next week is going to be a verrrry interesting week in the blogosphere, so instead of coming here, please check out the conversation at BlogRhet on race and blogging. This is an issue that has been coming to a head of steam in the past week or so, and I'm going to miss reading the debate. Do you think the blogosphere is colorless? Is there such a concept? Should there be? Are most mommy bloggers white and privileged, and the only target market advertisers are concerned with? Blogging is the new frontier; how will racial issues shape the face of the latest communication medium? It's been getting so much attention, that Motherhood Uncensored is going to do a show on this very issue. Go over there, too, and check out her air times and join in the conversation yourself!

Let me know if you've commented over there, or heard Motherhood Uncensored's show; I would love to know what I missed.

In the meantime, enjoy next week and I'll be back here on the 20th (unless I get motivated on the road).

We know we'll have a great time! Ya, sure, you betcha!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Someday I am going to be an empty nester. In my fifties, I hope to have breakfasts that are eaten while sitting down, as opposed to hurriedly consumed while simultaneously packing backpacks, looking for gymnastic leotards, trying not to step on the rabbit, and prying apart bickering siblings.

Someday I will not need to break out the calibrated scale to weigh portions of after dinner treats to ensure equal division of dessert amongst the children. I will stop fantasizing about giving one child a large cookie and the other three children smaller cookies and telling them that the larger cookie went to my favorite offspring. Just to see their reaction. In my fifties, I will be above such petty daydreams.

Someday I will be able to have sex with my husband without the paranoia of little feet running up the stairs after a bad dream and wondering how quickly I can get back to my side of the bed. Nor will the idea of sex repulse me, as my nipples will not be chewed down to nubs by the latest nursing baby. I will frolic in the marital bed with abandon, and my husband will take to telling me he has a headache, such will be my reckless, child-free appetite.

Someday, I will look at my husband and ask him what he wants to do that evening. He will answer me with nothing and that is exactly what we will do.

Someday, I will look back on these years and miss them terribly. I will beg my children for grandchildren, and I will spend the rest of my days remembering this chaos, this mess, this bliss and thanking these were indeed the glory days of my life.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Why The Family Meal Is So Crucial To Family Cohesiveness

At the dinner table…..

Five year-old son: Daddy! Mamas have special eyes in the back of their skulls.

Twelve Year-Old: No they don’t, imbecile.

Husband: Really. Hmmmm. What about boys? Do they have eyes back there, too?

Five Year-old: [shouting and spewing chicken bits]: I am NOT an imbisult! Daddy. Only MAMAs have the eyes. We don’t have the special panel in our heads.

Twelve Year-Old: Are you seriously teaching him this, mom? That’s not exactly factual.

Five Year-Old: Yeah? Boys have more room in their heads for brains because there aren’t eyes back there.


Husband: [pointedly, to wife]: Is this what you do all day?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Paradigm Shift

I was getting a long overdue manicure this weekend. I think it's been close to a year since my nails were last buffed by someone other than me. It's hard to tend to your nails with several children climbing on you, wanting to sit next to you, or chew on the file itself. Such is motherhood.

The nice young lady who had my hands in her charge was very quiet. Almost silent, really. I'm not used to that in salons. I like my hairdressers and manicurists to yap at me and engage me in conversation. Perhaps it's because I am not responsible for wiping any of their body parts that I am so eager to dive into conversation, but whatever the case, I like the adult interaction.

After ten torturous minutes, I finally tried to break the ice. She was no older than 24, which ruled out music, pop-culture and politics. I just didn't want to freeze up and blurt out Neil Diamond where I should have casually inserted Fergie. I scanned her for possible conversation pieces. She had four large tattoos (two on her ample and visible cleavage and two on her arms), which while interesting, was a conversational dead-end. I have no tattoos, and something told me she wouldn't think it cute that I "almost" got one on my ankle that read "Alpha Chi Omega" in 1989 because I had too much jungle juice at a frat party.

Her clothes were cute, albeit tiiiight and nothing worth conversing about. Unless I wanted to extol the virtues of mom jeans for her comfort.

I finally settled on her eyebrow piercing. It was big, like a silver rod with blue beads on either end, and it looked like it hurt. Pain? Now that's a topic I am warm and cozy with.

"Gee, that's pretty interesting, the uh, piercing on your eyebrow. I'll bet it hurt!" I hate this about myself. How I lapse into a Marcia Brady-esque vernacular when speaking to Young People.

"No. It didn't hurt."

"Really?? [I am nearly squealing.] Because it just looks so, I don't know, big. And sharp. Like it hurt." Did I mention I get really articulate and shit when I'm nervous?

"No. It was pretty fast. What hurt is when I got my nipples pierced when I was thirteen. I had to take the piercings out after a month."

My jaw unhinged. "What? Your parents let you get a nipple piercing at thirteen?"

"Uh, no. They didn't know."

"How could they not know?"

"It's not like they saw me naked." At this point she's looking at me like I'm a complete imbecile. Or worse, someone who looks at her thirteen year-old children naked.

"Well, obviously not. But how did you get to the place that gave you the piercing and home again without your parents knowing what you were up to?" I'm truly shocked at this point. I've all but installed GPS in my twelve-year old's clothing, and she is so supervised she accuses me of wanting to make her Amish.

She fixed a look on me before going back to filing my nails. After a moment she said, "They didn't care where I was" and with that, she went back to my nails and didn't say much for the remainder of the manicure.

That shut me up.

She's Burka-licious

I know that when I'm at the beach my biggest concern is skin cancer. That, and getting pummled with large stones.

View footage on the Burkini here:

(for some reason I'm having troubles embedding it, so just cut and paste the URL and put it in your browser)

Friday, August 03, 2007

I Stole This Post and You Should, Too

I nabbed this post over at Lawyer Mama. It's been circulating, and I wanted to wait until it had slowed down some before posting it here. Because it shouldn't slow down. Most of you are aware of Why Mommy's diagnosis, but I'll bet most of you weren't aware of what IBC was two months ago. I know I wasn't. Please, pass it on.

We hear a lot about breast cancer these days. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes, and there are millions living with it in the U.S. today alone. But did you know that there is more than one type of breast cancer?I didn’t. I thought that breast cancer was all the same. I figured that if I did my monthly breast self-exams, and found no lump, I’d be fine.Oops. It turns out that you don’t have to have a lump to have breast cancer. Six weeks ago, I went to my OB/GYN because my breast felt funny. It was red, hot, inflamed, and the skin looked…funny. But there was no lump, so I wasn’t worried. I should have been. After a round of antibiotics didn’t clear up the inflammation, my doctor sent me to a breast specialist and did a skin punch biopsy. That test showed that I have inflammatory breast cancer, a very aggressive cancer that can be deadly.

Inflammatory breast cancer is often misdiagnosed as mastitis because many doctors have never seen it before and consider it rare. “Rare” or not, there are over 100,000 women in the U.S. with this cancer right now; only half will survive five years. Please call your OB/GYN if you experience several of the following symptoms in your breast, or any unusual changes: redness, rapid increase in size of one breast, persistent itching of breast or nipple, thickening of breast tissue, stabbing pain, soreness, swelling under the arm, dimpling or ridging (for example, when you take your bra off, the bra marks stay – for a while), flattening or retracting of the nipple, or a texture that looks or feels like an orange (called peau d’orange). Ask if your GYN is familiar with inflammatory breast cancer, and tell her that you’re concerned and want to come in to rule it out.
There is more than one kind of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is the most aggressive form of breast cancer out there, and early detection is critical. It’s not usually detected by mammogram. It does not usually present with a lump. It may be overlooked with all of the changes that our breasts undergo during the years when we’re pregnant and/or nursing our little ones. It’s important not to miss this one.
Inflammatory breast cancer is detected by women and their doctors who notice a change in one of their breasts. If you notice a change, call your doctor today. Tell her about it. Tell her that you have a friend with this disease, and it’s trying to kill her.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lemonade and Gratitude

We've been given a few lemons and I'm considering opening up a lemonade stand. Because I'm making lemonade! And remaining positive! Heh.

So the family from California that is was buying our home have lost their financing, due to an inability to sell their dental clinic. Which means our house is packed up and we have no buyers. Stunningly, we are all okay with this. We accepted their offer with very little earnest money because we're trusting people, and hey, we're not greedy. So, given the amount of money we've spent fixing the house up and paying for packing materials, storage units, etc., we're about even. And we get to continue to market the house and keep on keeping on.

Or. We may just keep the house and get a smaller place when we move (we're moving out of town, and we still don't know where. Bob's company has two venues in mind for him and we're waiting to see which one pops. Ambiguity? Awesome way to keep things lively). Which would mean we would be living in a very small home with the kids doubled up in bedrooms and a second home that sleeps over a dozen with ease. Anybody want a winter vacation rental in possibly one of the most beautiful places in the southwest, email me.

We're at the point where we really aren't too upset over it, probably because we made the decision to place it in God's hands long ago, and if we keep it on the market, we have the world's best realtor.


Today we spoke with our family in Minnesota to make sure everyone is okay. I case you haven't been reading the news banners, a large bridge simply collapsed in Minneapolis yesterday during rush hour. Four people are known to be dead, and twenty more are missing. Bob's cousin and her kids crossed that very bridge yesterday at three in the afternoon. By six, it was in the river. We are so thankful everyone is okay, and yet unbearably sad for the families that are living a nightmare right about now.

We're still planning on traveling there next week, although our kids have made us promise no bridge crossing. That seems pretty fair to me.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My Cup Runneth Over

Andi over at Poot and Cubby has made my day. Actually, she's made my entire week. She awarded me the July Perfect Post Award for this post, and I am beyond flabbergasted.

I've said it before, although probably not enough times, that I truly love this blogging community I have found myself in. I often play the "lighthearted, go for a laugh" card with my posts, but I want you to know that when I get positive affirmation from you guys, it brightens my day. In a big way.

I don't know what else to say. I'm verklempt, and I just feel all warm and fuzzy inside.


Original Perfect Post Awards – July 2007

Tales From the Shallow End of the Pool

I think I've seen enough episodes of Dr. 90210 to scare me away from plastic surgery forever. Between the Doctor who dresses like a West-end British dandy to the scenes of true gore wherein the client's face is ripped off and repositioned two inches higher, I'm not exactly a candidate for any surgery that doesn't save my life. I find it both repulsive and fascinating, and of course I'm hooked within the first few minutes of the show.

I love it.

I'm good friends with some o.r. nurses, as well as women who are married to plastic surgeons, and the stories I've heard? Unbelievable. Obviously, most people who go under the knife turn out just fine. But it's those one in a million stories that people share, and let me tell you, they're terrifying.

Like the woman who simply died on the table during a lunchtime liposuction. Or the plastic surgeon who sees each patient as a slab of meat with dollar signs on her boobs, to the other doc who is so set on conforming women to his set ideal of Hooker Barbie that he routinely pushes huge implant sizes for women, regardless of their frame size. And this is just in my small town.

That said, I'm still a vain girl. I even went through a phase my best friend calls my "wrinkle-rexic" days. I had just turned thirty, and that's when the crow's feet start to make their entrance, and frankly, I was alarmed. I really didn't want those lines on my face that had taken residence seemingly overnight. Thankfully, I've been a product whore aficionado for my entire adult life, so the "damage" (oh, don't be all mature and call it life lines, or signs of living. I call it damage) isn't nearly what it could be.

I have the distinct memory of my friend's mom telling us (back when we were no more than twelve) that we should start using moisturizer every day and night as soon as we hit nineteen. And to never, ever rub our eyes. My friend was dismissive, "uh, huh mom. Now would you please leave us alone?" Whereas I was strangely, intently enraptured and let those pearls of wisdom burn themselves on my little growing mind.

Fast forward to my sophomore year in college, and while I barely had enough to eat (I literally went hungry sometimes) I almost always had a bottle of Estee Lauder's Fruition or night serum in my cosmetic bag. I had an excellent barometer for priorities back then.

And while I get chills from the vision of a scalpel searing through my skin, or parts of my body being peeled like an orange, I am not afraid of needles. Needles that can freeze the errant crow's foot from becoming an eagle claw? Sign me up. Injectables that promise to subtly plump the contours of my face that perchance have hollowed over the years? Let me have a glass of wine first and someday I just may. I already color my hair and wear a little makeup. I exercise every day, and try to keep a holistic approach to the health of my body, my mind, and my soul. How is this so different? Is it a slippery slope or a distinct line in the sand that delineates self care from shallow, high maintenance?

I watched a fascinating show about a month ago on the History channel on the history of beauty products. Did you know that the first documented case of plastic surgery was Queen Nefertititi? What about the waxing/sugaring/kohl-loving Egyptians? Vanity, it seems, its timeless.

So how much is too much? When do you cross the line between caring about your looks and becoming unhealthily obsessed? More interestingly, where do you draw the line? And did I ever say I was a deep thinker?

Personally, I like the occasional dip in the shallow end.