Sunday, September 30, 2007

Home Sweet Cuckoo's Nest

When I return to the workforce I am seriously considering working at a mental institution. Not because I would fit in (I’d have a uniform), but because I have come to the conclusion that pubescent behavior is akin to bipolar disorder.

Remember when our kids were cute and little (maybe yours still are. In that case, sell them now while they’re still retaining their sticker value) and they had difficulty with segues? When my oldest daughter was in first grade or so, I remember helping her with her language homework. I went over the importance of starting each sentence with a capital letter, ending with a period, exclamation point or question mark, and all the commas and semicolons in between. One typical day, after describing in excruciating detail the finer points of exclamatory sentences, my little girl looked up at me and lisped, “Did you know I have 74 cat stickers?” (only it was stheventy four sthickerth). Back then, it was cute. It warranted a call to my cousin or best friend and we’d collectively giggle over how quirky kids were.

I’m not giggling a lot these days, and unless you’re my husband presenting me with a gin and tonic, an updated passport and a briefcase full of unmarked bills with the instructions to “Go get lost for a while,” it’s unlikely to be a common occurrence for me in the near future. Like until I die.

The other night I had gained entrance to my preteen’s room during the bedtime hour. It’s rare to get an audience with a receptive adolescent, much less one that wasn’t solicited or demanded upon pain of death. I sat there on the edge of her daybed as she readied herself for the evening, the strains of music coming from her bathroom informing me that sexy is coming back. From where, I’m not sure, perhaps a trunk? With junk in it? But I digress. She came out, smelling of Clean and Clear, toothpaste, and brown sugar. She carefully turned her back to me as she slipped her pajama top on (because that would be shocking, you know. To actually see the embryonic mammaries of the young girl that sprang from my loins), and joined me on the edge of her bed.

What followed was initially delightful. She chattered on about school, about girls in her class, about volleyball. She asked me questions. She told me that junk in one’s trunk was passé and that I was to use the more de rigeur, yet slightly retro phrase referencing the booty. I told her bottom was just fine with me, and she endured my old-fashioned-ness without screaming that I was trying to turn her Amish. It was wonderful.

Then, the clouds began to roll in, the waters became a bit more choppy. She told me that the 8th grade girls said she was too skinny, calling her “el skelato” in jest, but that it hurt her feelings. Stupidly, blindly, I was still looking behind me, to calmer waters and the last ray of sun peeking out from the angry, purple cloud. “Oh, honey. They’re just saying that because they’re probably a little bit jealous. Not everyone can look like you, you know.” I reached over to touch her arm as I said this.

Mayday! Mayday! The ship of mother-daughter bonding was fast sinking and I had no idea why. Why? She was so happy, just 1.5 seconds ago. Without warning, she whipped a scowl at me and the gale force of her words slapped my skin. “They’re not jealous! They don’t want to be a STICK.”

I quickly scanned my mental bank of life preserving phrases to bring us back to tranquility, but then the stern went down as she warbled in agony, the last breaths of the sweet natured girl gurgling in my mind as she shrieked, “When are my boobs. Going. To.Get. BIGGER?? I floundered, not sure which way was up, then was hit again.

“WHY can’t you be one of those cool moms? The moms who don’t care where their kids are? [Mixed metaphor warning] Why are you always so on my shoulder about where I’m at?"

I was beached outside her door before I knew what hit me.

Several nights later, she had a friend stay the night. This young girl is adorable, yet slightly tough and savvy in a way that makes me nervous around her. She’s just the right combination of smart and unsupervised that I don’t like. Over dinner at our kitchen counter, I discovered that she lived with her mom and step-siblings in a very small apartment, that her father had committed suicide, and that her mom would sure like to come see my pretty house one day, only she works a lot and doesn’t really do that. As in see where her child is staying the night. I wanted to scoop this little lost bird up, feed her homemade soup, read her Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and get on her shoulder about things.

As the girls exited the kitchen to get ready for the movies, my daughter turned and looked at me. Were we to have a moment of understanding? A look that said, Thanks, mom, for how fiercely you love and protect me in this wonderful home?

My heart skipped, as my little girl mouthed the words, “Isn’t she cool?”

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."--Mahatma Gandhi

I was in the grocery store tonight. I needed some light bulbs and thought I'd shop for the dinner we're hosting tomorrow night. My cart was laden with wine, good cheese, organic fruit, chicken, and ingredients for dessert. As I stood in line at 9:30 in the evening, I waited while a young mother ahead of me struggled with her purse. Her two children were beside her, their eyes heavy looking and I wondered if it was past their bedtime. I looked at her items. White bread, a gallon of generic whole milk, and a five pound bag of russet potatoes. My reverie was broken by the curt words of the checker. "Your card's declined."

I froze. What could I do? I wanted to offer to pay for her paltry fare, but the last thing I wanted to do was embarrass or shame her. In those few wasted seconds, she hesitantly took out what was clearly a credit card and handed it to the checker. It went through, and she was on her way.

This happens all the time where I live. Maybe it does where you live, too. We're just a few miles from the Navajo Reservation, and the poverty there is astounding. It is a third world. And it is a black mark upon every American citizen, if you ask me. There are people everywhere struggling to feed their families; sometimes it's obvious, and sometimes we have no clue. There are probably women blogging today about some funny thing their kid said and failing to mention their need.

What should I have done? How can I quickly face a situation like that in the future? How do I avoid coming off as an over-privileged asshole who is showing off and expecting thanks and instead more like a woman who simply wants to lend another woman a hand? What do you do in situations like this? If you suddenly were handed the keys to a large charitable foundation, how would you disperse the money? Why?

If you would humor me, and help me out, I would be really grateful. So grateful, that I'll enter you in a drawing to win a beautiful "Be the Change Cuff Bracelet"(winner to be announced this weekend). With the purchase of the bracelet, The Hunger Site funds 25.0 cups of food. More importantly, it is a lovely reminder that in order for our world to change, we have to change. I want to. Do you?

Wordless Wednesday: Mrs. M? This is Your Realtor Calling. We'd Like to Show Your Home in a Half Hour

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Dear Jen M:

Thank you for your recent interest in Playboy. We appreciate your photo essay submission, cover letter and video (returned; please see enclosure).

As you can imagine, we receive thousands of submissions from Bunny hopefuls like yourself each and every month. While we would love to photograph all of the lovely ladies that come to us, you can understand that we have a business to run, and certain things sell to certain demographics.

To save you the time, energy, and shipping bill in the future, perhaps it would behoove you to familiarize yourself with who, exactly, Playboy caters to. Heterosexual men of all ages read our magazine, Jen M. However, these men have a very specific age group they are willing to see naked, as long as they're paying $7.95 an issue. We thank you for your suggestion to look at 35 as the new 25, but as much as airbrushing technology has advanced in recent years, there is only so much we can do. As it stands, we consider 25 to be well past Bunny prime.

Playboy readers like viewing youthful young ladies with large breasts that rest somewhere just below the collar bone. Unfortunately, you do not meet our cutoff, although we also duly noted your suggestion to consider the belly button "the new resting place for hot mammaries." While we also appreciated your suggestion to run your photo spread in the spring issue, "With seersucker suits to coordinate with the seersucker belly syndrome that is hand in hand with the birthing of four children" we do not typically run our men's fashion spreads in conjunction with our Bunny layouts. Those are two separate areas of each issue of Playboy, namely in that one features naked girls and the other features fully clothed men in expensive and trendy clothing. That they might get naked girls with.

Furthermore, we stopped showing unshaved pubic regions in 1977. Today's Bunny favors a clean panty line, with perhaps a small strip of neatly coifed hair not to exceed 3/4 of an inch in length and 1/8 of an inch in diameter. Notably, your essay depicting your likes and dislikes is not in tandem with our typical Bunny. Our Bunnies like long walks on the beach at sunset, men that make them laugh, and soft fluffy kittens. While interesting to some of our editorial staff, we could not possibly print that you enjoy using the restroom by yourself, shopping for personal grooming items in the Sears Home and Garden Department, and drinking yourself into a stupor after assisting with seventh grade math. You understand that "Prolific Breeder" is a liability in our line of work, and not something our Bunnies list under "Awards and Achievements."

Lastly, while we see where you were going with your photo spread dedicated to Bill Maher and "all the other misogynistic asshats," under no circumstances would Mr. Hefner approve a photo spread featuring "naked women cavorting in a hayloft with Medela 2000 Breast Pumps attached to their money makers." Besides, Bill Maher happens to be a close and personal friend of Mr. Hefner.

Very Truly Yours,
Pictorial Staff
Playboy Magazine

This post was a part of Painted Maypole's Monday Mission, wherein we had to write a post in the form of a rejection letter. To join in, write your own and let Painted Mayple know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy 40th Birthday

Happy birthday, Bob. Over eighteen years ago you stole my heart.

You are the best daddy our children could hope for. You provide strength, love, gentleness, laughter, and mark a trail for them to follow. You are our safe haven, our soft landing and our protector. Our son says it all when he tells me he wants to go to work at the "hostibauble" just like Daddy.

I have grown up in your arms, and I will grow old in them, too.

What a lucky, lucky woman I am.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday

My best friend has a problem really likes shoes. So when her birthday rolled around last week, I was thrilled to find this website.
This year she got shoes, and they're sturdy ones that are on the feet of a young girl in rural Africa so that she may go to school. CAMFED is the campaign for Female Education, dedicated to fighting poverty and AIDS in rural communities in Africa by educating girls. It is an amazing organization. You can shop directly on the site, although I found my way to CAMFED by shopping here, where you can choose from an array of amazing gifts to buy. Not all of the goods and services on the Hunger Site benefit CAMFED, although it is also a charitable site, benefiting people all over the world.
At the Hunger Site store you can buy an actual good (fair trade of course) to give to someone, or you can choose to buy something such as shoes, or a goat, or a month of school tuition, or clothes for refugee children and do it it your name or a friend's. With the purchase of the shoes in my friend's name, 100% of the proceeds went to CAMFED. Some of the gifts on the Hunger Site benefit other, worthy, charities. If you'd prefer, you can also shop on the CAMFED site, although all the pricing is in pounds sterling, so get an exchange calculator.
Even more amazing? It only cost me $14 and 100% of the proceeds went to CAMFED. Truly fabulous. Christmas is fast approaching, and why not stock up on gifts that make a fantastic difference and also make you stand out as a unique gift giver? Who needs another scented candle?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Ryka Shoes Make Me Feel Like a Supah Star!

The good people at Parent Bloggers have included me in their Ryka Athletic Shoe campaign and I couldn't be happier! The shoe is fantastic, and if you want your own, the folks at Ryka are giving away fifty pairs of shoes and shirts each day! So head on over to their site for your chance to win!
In the meantime, get comfortable, grab your Diet Coke, or sippy cup, or that gin and tonic you really should be sharing with me and watch my Ryka review!

Sunday, September 16, 2007


A roasting chicken gives off her perfume of rosemary, garlic cloves and thyme from the cozy boudoir of the oven. Jacob sits at the counter whisking the eggs brought over to us by a friend. The yolks are nearly fluorescent; such is the difference between the sad little ovals we buy at the store in their styrofoam packages and those given to us from hens that scratch for bugs all day in a sunny back field. I measure the ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice. I set them aside in the ramekin while I scoop out the pureed pumpkin into the mixing bowl. Chloe walks by and inhales deeply. Mmmm. Pumpkin bread for dessert.

The door slams, and I notice that our dog has slunk in to hide under the kitchen table on her sleeping pad. The storm has kicked up, and the flashes of lightening are more apparent as the day comes to an end.

We are all hungry. It has been an active day. Jacob had his first soccer game, and we watched with joy as the first child in our family took to the the playing field, gleefully running after the ball full speed, sometimes in the wrong direction, but always with a smile on his face. For twelve years we have been a family that adjusts the ballet tights, or watches as our daughters clap gymnastic chalk from their hands. Sitting on the grassy field with an umbrella and plenty of shouts of "Go Tigers!" just feels right. I'm actually excited about bringing the snacks for next week's game.

I take my time with the food preparation. There is no rush. It's the end of the weekend, and we are all knowingly or unknowingly savoring the last flavors of a day less structured. I slowly roll the basil leaves tight, each slice of the knife releasing fragrant green ribbons to be draped over the tomatoes. My fingers smell of basil for the rest of the night.

We eat late. I watch my kids tuck into their acorn squash with brown sugar and butter, filling their bodies with food that will give them energy for the long Monday ahead. One by one, the kids find their way to bed, and there are no complaints this evening. Each one is showered or bathed, and tucked clean into their blankets with a good book and a soft light to aid the process which doesn't take as long as usual tonight.

After the dishes are done, I sit at the counter with Bob, the candles still lit, the air still fragrant with spicy bread, my wine rewarding my muscles in a way the best massage cannot.

It's a good day.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday and Bling! Bloggy Blingalicious

So what, exactly, would the punishment be for letting your child drive at the age of twelve? Would I really even do any jail time? She knows the way. It's automatic transmission. How freakin' hard can it be? She could take herself and her siblings to school, baby Jack could go along for the ride and be show and tell for his brother, all while I kick back with a nice margarita and an entire day of WE television network.

This is what I've become.

Back in the cold world that doesn't allow social drinking and driving with the kids, I think I'll go do something nice today and pretend I'm on the couch. My Philanthropy Thursday is going to be as follows: I am going to rake the rocks off the play lawn at my kids' school. The kids kick up the landscaping rocks that border this area and they need to be swept off periodically. Also, and this may or may not count as "philanthropic," I am going to be super duper nice and smiley with a huge hello to that bitchy lady at my club that just stares at me when I see her. She's been doing this for three stinking years. We even had kids in the same class at school at one point and all I get is the stare. Oooh, the bitchiness - prepare to be killed with kindness.

And I am just dripping with buttons now. Dripping I tell you. Yes, some of you fancy pants bloggers have pages devoted to your bling, but I have that simple, classic look that says "I have just a few buttons but wear them with aplomb."

Sonia Sunshine hosted that celebrity look-alike contest and I won! (see sidebar for awesome Marilyn Monroe button).

She also bestowed upon some blogs a button that just kills me:

I am a cat's ass. I love it -

And Painted Maypole gave me this:

And Tabba and Mary Alice gave me this...

Sooo...I am allowed to pass on the nice matters award, and although I haven't kept track, so many of the blogs I read have this already. I think the guys need a fair shake, so I am going to pass it on to Ron, because he really is nice, and to Mr. Fab, because at first I thought he'd never put up an award like this, until I saw that fifty other bloggers gave him one of these, too. Ah, what the heck.

Have a wonderful day and I'd love to know if you plan on paying it forward!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Cajones? Bologna!

It was the perfect moment. I was in traffic today when suddenly a truck pulled in front of me on the off ramp of the interstate. It was my Big Daddy. The elusive fish that every fisherman sees once in his or her life, but can never catch. Or, has caught and it got away, with no proof of its existence.

My Big Daddy happens to be the most obnoxious truck in town. This is saying quite a bit, as I live in a town resplendent with large quad-cab, V-8, dualie trucks. Bumper stickers in the form of boys peeing on things, or instructing me to continue honking, as they're reloading their firearms abound. I am reminded that these drivers do not like Fat Chicks, and that their buddies should "Ditch the Bitch and Go Huntin.'" Because huntin' is far more virile a sport than simply hunting, you know.

I have often observed to my husband that men drive these things to compensate for various (ahem) shortcomings. He argues differently. He explains that we live in the mountains, people have livestock out here, you can't haul hay in a Saab, Jen. Uh, huh.

But today, God was smiling down at me, because I happened to have a camera in my car and was able to access it while behind the evidence of a certain species I would like to call phallus tinius automotivi. Yes, God was smiling, and boy does she have a great sense of humor.

Notice, if you will, the appendages hanging below the bumper. Do you see them? The scrotum? Perhaps the website, affixed to the window of the truck, might aid you some more. It is

Ladies, I am taking up a collection. I would like to manufacture a resyn or latex prototype for a set of mudflaps I would like to sell. They come in the shape of labia, and are excellent at keeping debris from your tires. If you act now and are one of the first twenty buyers? I will throw in a bush floor mat for free.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nice Donation to Habitat for Humanity? Check

Someone bought the ring! A very nice someone in Brisbane, Australia - so off to the post office I go. The money ($500.00) made its way seamlessly on Saturday to the New Orleans Habitat for Humanity (they accept PayPal, in case anyone is feeling generous today). What a great feeling that was. I had a bad day Friday (BAD. DAY.) and donating that money felt cathartic.

Random question of the day: If you were to suddenly go on a worldwide comedy tour as a one woman (or man, I know there is a little bit of testosterone that makes it over to this blog) show, what would your tour be named?

I love Cathy Griffin and she had a show called Cathy Griffin: Strong Black Woman. In case you don't know, she's Irish with really red hair and pale skin.

I would name mine: Jen M...: The Big Vagina Tour. Just in case you were wondering. Four kids with Charlie Brown heads? Yeah.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

We Look Alike Except for You Can Tell I Have a Soul and She Has Just a Dark Spot

Sunshine over at ...And the Pursuit of Happiness is having a celebrity look-alike contest. I am thrilled to be in it, and embarrassed to say that the only celebrity I come close to looking like happens to be a soulless right-winger. You know, that obnoxious pundit who's name should rhyme with "Beezlebub" or "Idiotic Incendiary Mean Person." That's right: Ann Coulter.

It's a cute contest, with a few of my favorite bloggers also go on over and vote!

Friday, September 07, 2007

We Have a Winner and PBN Blog Blast

The young ladies in my house have picked number thirteen, which corresponds to A Blonde Blogger! Thanks for playing and doing something great (she's walking for charity and soliciting can read her comment). Shoot me an e-mail and I'll get your Amazon g.c. to you.

Speaking of free things, participate in the Parent Bloggers Network blogblast any time today before midnight and you could win a $250 Coach gift certificate. I know as soon as I get home, my post for today will be the blog blast! Here are the rules:

We're sure that all moms have at least one item in their closets that really should have been donated (or trashed) years ago. Tell us how your style has deteriorated over the years and provide some photographic evidence - a picture of the most hideous item that's still darkening your closet - and 'fess up to why it's still in there!
Why should you embarrass yourself in this manner? Because you could win a $250 Coach gift certificate! Face it, a great bag can make any schlumpy mom outfit look better.
How to participate?
1) On Friday, September 7, before midnight PST, write a post about your style - or lack thereof - and include a picture of the item(s) in your closet that most desperately need to be donated. Title it creatively and descriptively.
2) In the text of your post, link to PBN ( and Harper Collins (
3) Send us the link to your post (email to
We'll round up all the posts on PBN and draw one winner at random (really, at random - who'll get a $250 Coach gift certificate. Do you have a Coach bag? I don't! And even if you do, can you really have too many Coach bags? I doubt it!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Philanthropy Thursday, Gift Card Give Away and Annoying Whispery Voices

I think I do like the idea of taking every Thursday (as opposed to once a month) and doing something good. The problem is, with only one cup of coffee in me and four kids plus a tagalong waiting for me to load them in the car, well, my brain hasn't woken up yet.

Yesterday we did book Chloe's appointment for Locks of Love, but that is eight days away, and I wanted PT to also be about doing small things to make the world a better place. It doesn't always have to be donating jewelry or ten+ inches of your hair. So...something small for Thursday. I just popped into the kitchen and Maddie gave me my task for today. While at the grocery store today, I am to pick up an extra bag of dog food and drop it by our local no-kill shelter. She's volunteered there before, and she just informed me that they are always needing dog food. Okay! Done! What are you going to do today? AND, just to make it interesting, I haven't had a give away in a looong time. So, out of the commenters who mention they're doing something small today, I have a $10 Amazon gift card to give away. I'll have the girls pick a number and we'll give it away tomorrow morning. Hey, who couldn't use $10??

On another note. My best friend just informed me that she spent an excruciating two hours last weekend at a work-related barbecue hosted by her husband's co-worker and his wife. His wife was one of those women who relates best to men, sexualizes everything, and has perfected the whispery helpless voice when talking to men. You know the type? The type who doesn't have much to say to you, but you have to practically peel her off your husband's leg? Yeah. I've always known women like this, and one time, when I was forced to live across the street from a soft whispery type, my girlfriends and I decided to try an experiment.

Question: Do all men secretly like it when we talk like helpless, brain-cell damaged bimbos (think Marilyn singing Happy Birthday to JFK)?

Experiment: Talk in lilting, breathless, whispery bimbo voice to husband and gauge his response. Do this over phone so he cannot see convulsive laughter from other end.

Results: I called my husband at work, and in a barely discernible Marilyn Monroe-esque voice I asked, "Bobby? Sweetie? Can I ask you a favor?" I thought I would choke on my tongue, I sounded so ridiculous, I was certain he'd ask me if I were drunk. But. BUT. His voice deepened, he sounded concerned and willing to jump in front of a train as he answered, "Yes! Of course, baby. What do you need?" I could almost hear his shoulders pull back, his chest puffing out. Sickening. My husband, by the way, was raised by a feminist, and also calls himself one. I did this later that day, at home, and it was the same response.

If you don't believe me, TRY THIS AT HOME. You will be dumbfounded at the results. Do not harm your husband (or male co-worker or whomever) after attempting this, as it is not his fault that the Neanderthal wiring is still alive and well in his brain. He cannot help himself.

Go, be breathless and airy and see for yourself how effective this is. It is disturbing. And also? Go pay it forward today.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Not Quite Wordless Wednesday

I just packed the lunches for the kids, and we're getting ready to head out the door. Chloe walked by her lunch and sighed. "Thank you, mom. I love Cool Ranch Doritos. They're my favorite. Do you want to know my favorite chips, in order?"

"Hmmm hmmmm."

"Number one: anything in the itos family. Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos. Number two, anything that says sour cream and onion."

Meanwhile, Jacob was pulling on my shirt. "Mom! How can my underwear breathe?"

I thought this was interesting, since it was, actually a valid question. I started in on an answer about the breathability of cotton and he interrupted with, "My boxer breathes can breathe. Okay." We just bought him boxer briefs, like daddy.

And it's not even 8:00 yet! What do your kids say in the morning that cracks you up?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


I love my kids' school. It's the kind of place that reminds me of everything good about elementary school and it makes me want to stay. I spent last night cutting out pieces of paper with an inspirational saying and attaching starfish pins that I had hot glued earlier that day with the girls. My job is to get more parents to volunteer at the school, and I think it's an easy one.

As I attached the hundredth starfish, I thought about their old school. It had an entirely different philosophy, and assumed the worst about people. If you didn't log in the minimum amount of hours of volunteer time, your family was fined hundreds of dollars at the end of the year (this was a tuition-based school). Our children, and eventually us, had to hand in singed slips of paper from the priest attesting to the fact that we had, indeed, attended church. The consequences were a little more ambiguous with that. Hell, maybe? Anyway, it pissed us off to the point that even when we did go to the school-connected church, we never turned in the signed slips. What were we? Children? Is this how you motivate people?

Happily, we're at a different church and school, and the funny thing is, we're motivated to give even more of our time, even more of ourselves.

People don't like to be forced to do things, do they?

Strolling along the edge of the sea, a man catches sight of a young girl who appears to be engaged in some kind of an artistic dance. She stoops down, then slowly straightens to her full height, and casts her arm outward in a graceful arc.
Drawing closer, however, he sees that the beach around her is littered with little starfish and that she is throwing them gently one by one back into the sea.
He laughs light-heartedly: “There are starfish stranded on the sands as far as the eye can see, for miles up the beach. What difference does it make to save just a few?”
Smiling, she bends down and tosses another starfish out over the water saying serenely,
“It makes a difference to that one.”