Current conditions: Happy with a chance of ditzy

Sunday, February 28, 2010

American Grrrrr!


One of the reasons I was excited to have a girl? The toys. When I was a kid I loved nothing more than to spend hours with my Barbie dolls. I had so many of them, I had her friends, pets and boyfriends too. My Barbies had a great life, they had a Dream House, a camper, a boat, a car and a wardrobe that rivals any of today's fashionistas. K has a lot of Barbies, in fact after the recent holiday season I had to buy a huge under-the-bed bin for them and I might need another one soon. I know that she doesn't need all of these dolls (the exceptions were the Disney Princess dolls, these she had to have, and she does) but they're fun and I can usually pick them up for $10 at Tuesday Morning. Sometimes we'll take out the bin, dump it out and have a Barbie tea party, or a Barbie dance party, sometimes they have a fashion show and photo shoot, we both love those.

While she adores her Barbies there's another girl in town who has K's complete affection. Her name is Strawberry and she is an American Girl doll. Strawberry joined our family about two years ago after I warned D not to take her into the American Girl store while we were shopping at the Grove one day. After agreeing to a long list of prerequisites K walked out of the store carrying a red shopping bigger than she was. I have to admit she was extremely careful with Strawberry, she patiently brushed her hair, wouldn't let playdate guests touch her and safely strapped her into a seat belt when Strawberry came out with us. Soon Strawberry had some new clothes, accessories, PJs and now she has a new puppy which came home with us today. I like the whole American Girl thing, I like that K can read the books when she's older and learn all about these strong willed independent girls from different backgrounds and cultures. I don't like that these dolls cost a fortune and that a trip to American Girl Place could easily set you back a small fortune if you have lunch, do a photo shoot, get your dolls hair done and pick up some matching outfits (don't forget the accessories!!). Before we went in today I asked K to promise me not to ask for anything today, she replied quickly with "I can't promise that mama, I can't help asking for things in there." Fair enough, I feel that every time I walk into Barneys or Cartier. So without any promises made the three of us walked into American Girl Place, well K and I walked, Strawberry was on her skateboard (bad doll). We looked at all the old dolls, walked past the matching outfits and ended up in the doll clothing section. I heard a lot of screaming around me, some of it from kids and some from parents, K was a real life doll, and then we got to the pets. I forgot about the little dogs, K had been asking for Pepper (the Alaskan Husky) since day one. I told her that she has a million stuffed animals, just use one of those "uh, those aren't real American Girl Dogs mama" was what I always got in return.

So we all stood there, looking at the stacks of Pepper boxes, I looked at K and was met with two sets of beautiful baby blue eyes looking back at me (BTW, Strawberry is a Just Like Me doll, and she looks exactly like K) "he's sooooooooooooooooo cute mama" said one of them. She was right, he was cute and if I could leave that store with just paying $20 making two little girls happy it would be worth it. I told the girls they could have the dog as long as they took care of it and didn't make me carry it when they were tired. Nobody thought that was funny. K was thrilled and grabbed a Pepper box and then stopped with her jaw dropped. "Is that a Golden Retriever???" yes it was, her absolute favorite dog this month, I told her that this dog was a girl and her name was Honey. She looked up and me, put Pepper back and declared "that changes everything, I have to have Honey. She's sooooooooo cuuuuuuuuuuuute. Can I get her instead please? Please?" I was in shock, I thought for sure she was going to ask for both, but she didn't. We bought Honey, put on her pink leash and the four of walked out the store.

Was I really happy $20 for yet another stuffed animal? Not really, but my daughter was thrilled, almost as thrilled when we got Strawberry. So yes, it was worth it, especially this week. Walking the store we watched as tired parents fought with their doll-in-hand little girls, we saw a pretty decent amount of tears and witnessed way too many carpet fits. What is wrong with us? We know what's going to happen why do we keep taking our kids into that store? I told K she wasn't going to get anything, and I was trying to mean it this time. I should be lucky I got off so easy. I know that inside many unfortunate parents ware sitting in that dining room eating terrible sandwiches and being charged $100 (for a family of four) for the privilege, luckily the dolls eat free.

This weekend D had computer problems, so on Saturday we all went to his office in Hollywood and then went to the Grove (home of American Girl) while his files were loading, it was fun, I saw K look at all the little girls with their American Girl dolls, she didn't say anything about it but I knew she wished she had hers. Then today D needed to take his computer to the Mac store (conveniently located, where? yup, the Grove) while today's files were loading, instead of another cake baking adventure I told K to grab Strawberry and we could all go. She was thrilled and immediately changed her doll into a more casual outfit. I knew I was going into that store, I knew that it would be impossible for K not to want something and sadly I knew I would end up buying it for her. I can't help it. I'm addicted to the joy she gets and I get high on giving her that joy. I know it's my fault, I can't really blame it on American Girl.

I can make it easier on myself by telling her that they have vegetables for lunch, that Strawberry's messy hair makes her look more like K (whose hair is always a fright) and that if I buy an outfit for Strawberry, K will have to wear her matching one all the time, not just when her doll does. So today's pure joy total was $20, the doll has a dog, K has a show and tell object for when it's her next turn (another trauma-inducing choice in her life), the woman we passed as we walked out was not so lucky. The grand total for whatever her two girls got was over $400. For a doll!!!

I hope in a few years I'll be able to pick up these babies at Tuesday Morning. We'll surely need a bigger under-the-bed bin for that.

Goodnight K, Goodnight Strawberry, and yes, goodnight to you too Honey. Welcome home!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Bad dreams and real life nightmares


I had a horrible dream last night: D, K and I were on vacation, while walking to dinner we passed a park which was next to the restaurant, K begged to play while we had dinner, D said OK since she doesn't eat anyway (this is true). When we were done with dinner we went to fetch K from the park and could not find her. We both yelled out for her, our screams gaining in urgency. I could feel the panic building, I called 911 and a search began. That's when she woke me up, for once I was grateful for her "night visits" I didn't even mind the smack in the face that woke me. I fell asleep into a continuation of this same dream, this time I had enlisted the paparazzi to help me in my search for K (for some reason paparazzi followed me in my dream). The final part of this dream took place weeks later and K had still not been found. This time when I woke up it was to K's smiling face, I have never been happier to see 7:00AM.

I had a feeling of dread that lasted all morning, in fact I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I know it was only a dream but I actually felt the panic, I felt the fear and I felt the loss. I know in a few days this feeling will go away but for now, my grip on K will be a little tighter and I probably (at least for a few days) won't say no when she wants to sleep in the bed with us.

Unfortunately the nightmare was real for a mother in my community whose thirteen year old daughter was killed yesterday morning as she crossed the street to catch her school bus. This mother as well as the girl's classmates watched in horror as she was struck by a car turning right onto Sunset Blvd. The following was taken from the CBS website:

One vehicle, reportedly an Infinity, made a right-hand turn to go west on Sunset Boulevard when it struck the girl. The driver then stopped and had a brief conversation with the victim's mother while waiting for the ambulance to arrive, but no information was exchanged.

A driver and 3 passengers of a black 2006 four-door Toyota Highlander also hit the girl, stopped and then left.

Julia Siegler was a student at Harvard-Westlake Middle School

Anyone knowing more about the case was urged to call LAPD West Traffic Division investigators at (213) 473-0222.

Police later identified the driver of the Infinity, a 16 year old boy who attended the high school down the street from my house. The 51 year old driver of the other car turned herself in last night. As of now no charges have yet to be filed.

I cannot possibly imagine the pain that Julia's mother is feeling right now, her only child, her beautiful baby girl is gone forever. This is truly a parents worse nightmare, my thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies are with the Siegler family. I cannot get the thought of this girl and her family out of my head, not only because this took place so close to home but because this could happen to me or anyone else I know. I've crossed Sunset so many times with K, I take Cliffwood (the intersection where the accident took place) as a shortcut plenty of times. When K goes to middle and high school she will have to cross these streets.

I don't know what scares me more, my thirteen year old crossing these streets or my sixteen year old driving on them. I will tell you that as of right now, she will not be taking the bus to school when she's in middle school, the high school is down the block and I'm still on the fence about that. I know that she's only six right now but making these kind of decisions now is what keeps me sane every time I hear a fire engine during the day. I understand it's going to be impossible to be with K every time she crosses the street when she's older, all I can do is hope that she'll be safe, hope that she'll pay attention and hope that remembers all D and I have taught her. I can however make sure that she isn't driving when she's sixteen, a law that makes me shake with fear every time I hit the roads of Los Angeles. My very smart friend N told her son that he was not going to be allowed to drive until he was eighteen, a decision that she knew would come with years of fighting. The safety of her child was more important than than anything else. I fully intend to copy N's brilliant parenting decision unless the State of California miraculously changes the driving age. This is going to be especially hard on K who will always be the youngest kid in her class (LAUSD cutoff is December 02, and K was born on November 19). Her well being is the main focus of every decision we make, regardless of how unpopular this makes me and D. I believe N's son just turned eighteen, I hope she's doing OK.

While our community is mourning the loss of a beautiful thirteen year old girl, families all over the country are holding their kids a little tighter, being a little more lenient when they crawl into bed with them and hopefully getting tougher about letting their teenagers take the car keys.

I know in time that this will be just another news story, maybe some lessons will have been learned and maybe a life will have been saved. No matter what happens, the nightmare that Julia's mother had yesterday will go on forever. Normal traffic will resume on Sunset and Cliffwood, but the memorial that has been set up there will continue for years. Julia's friends and family and even strangers touched by this tragedy will be placing flowers marking the spot of her death to honor the life that was cut short so suddenly.

In a few years people driving by the spot won't know what happened there, but to moms like me it will always stand as a reminder that life is precious, that our children are incredible gifts meant to be cherished and sometimes we have make decisions to protect them that they will not be happy with. I'd much rather have K be unhappy with me than harmed in any way.

Rest in peace Julia, although I have never met you there's a part of you that will be in my heart every day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Inconceivable!


No don't worry, this isn't a "guess what??" post. Besides I just wrote my rant about my only child, that would be ironic though. I'd have to change the name of this blog because there would be plenty of melodrama!

I'm writing about conception because seven years ago today D and I conceived K. How and why I remember this is a story in itself. The day after the Tampa Bay/Oakland Superbowl I got food poisoning, and it was bad. I was in bed for a few days and felt awful for weeks after that. A few weeks later we went snowboarding in Mammoth for President's Day weekend, there was no chance to have any alone time since the house was full of our friends, I had my period and D's ex girlfriend was there. When we got home I somehow ended up with a UTI which kept me out of commission for a while. So much for newlywed fun. It was on a random Wednesday that I finally felt better, I believe we celebrated the return of my wellness by going out to dinner. After a month on the bench I was ready to get back in the game, and we were both relieved. I won't go into specifics about that part of our evening for a few reasons, one of them being my dad, who reads this. It's OK dad, you can uncover your eyes, I'll be vague. This is the TMI part, sorry. Usually right after, I get up, clean up and get ready for bed. This time I dozed off for a few minutes (something I have never done) when I woke up I told D that I had the strangest dream, someone had handed me a tiny baby girl, so tiny that she fit in the palm of my hand. "Maybe we made a baby" he said, "yeah, sure" was all I could come up with.

The next morning I went to the computer to check my online fertility calendar, I was only using this because I wasn't on the Pill anymore and I needed to know when my period was coming, with all the illnesses I had, I lost track of it all. What I saw was that the day before was outlined in bright pink, it was the most fertile day of my cycle. I wasn't really worried, I had only been off the Pill for over a month. A week later D and I were on the couch and I kept complaining about food smells and he would look at me like I was insane. In the meantime we bought a bunch of pregnancy tests online. They arrived a few days later and just for fun we tried one out. I'll tell you that those two minutes go by s l o w l y. I'm not really sure if I was surprised that it was positive but I didn't trust it, so I did another one, and another one, and another one. They all had that perfectly clear and easy to read red double line. We were shocked. We were amazed. We were thrilled. We had no clue what to do next. I immediately called my dad because I wanted him to be the first to know.

Later that day I thought back to the night of the 26th, and the dream of that tiny baby girl. It wasn't a dream it was a premonition, which kind of goes against all I stood for as a card carrying pragmatist. It was OK, I was going to be a mom, I can have at least one outer body experience without the need to question it right? I can go out of my practical comfort zone for a while and believe in something magical, especially if it had to do with the baby I was carrying. Besides I knew that the baby was a boy, the dream was sort of wrong.

To feed my practical side I ordered every pregnancy book there was (from Amazon of course, why pay retail?) and bugged my doctor about the potential diseases my unborn child may have after reading those books. I did all the practical things a new mom-to-be should do: I researched diets, cleaning products and car seats. I sat down with my doctor and gave him a detailed list of my families medical history, when he asked for D's I told him we didn't have it, D was adopted. My doctor suggested an amnio and I agreed. A much more practical way to check for any potential problems. Besides, D so badly wanted a girl and I knew the baby growing inside of me was a boy. That would be an ideal time to let him know. The test was easy, it didn't hurt all that much, we could see our baby floating around and waving, but never getting in a good position to tell the gender. Figures. The next week was awful, to keep myself from going completely insane I stopped looking up "potential amnio results" on the internet. My dad came out for a visit so that helped keep my mind occupied. We were driving around about a week later when I got the message from my doctor's office to call them, not a good time for a missed call!! We pulled over, I jumped out of the car and dialed the office, they gave me the results of the amnio, my baby was perfect, did I want to know the sex? Of course. "It's a girl!! Congrats M we'll see you next week!"

Inconceivable!!

I wasn't sure what freaked me out more, the fact that I was wrong or that the premonition was right. I broke into tears on the spot, the warmth that overcame my body when the nurse said "girl" is a feeling that I remember to this day and is making me cry as I write this. I had hoped for a boy because I was afraid of repeating the mistakes my mother made with me, if I had a girl I would surely do that. I knew from that phone call that would never happen. Everything from that magical moment changed, including realizing that things can in fact be magical. There is no such thing as practicality in parenthood.

From then on I tried (again, try is the key word here) to be more abstract about things, especially relating to K who had been named the second that double red line appeared. Lucky for us the name worked either way, how practical to have a name that fit either gender. Getting pregnant and having a kid is a great lesson in practicality, the more you try to reason and dissect the harder it will be. The lesson? There is nothing practical about babies and kids. The quicker you learn this the better! Expecting things to go as you planned will only result in frustration and anger. If you can learn to accept the unexpected not only will things be easier to manage they might even be fun. If K wants to be a princess when we go shopping, who cares, is it practical for a six year old to wear a detailed handmade princess dress, plastic high heels, a tiara and opera gloves? It is to a six year old. Did I ever think I'd let my child do something like that?

No, that was inconceivable.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Just Say No!!


I remember when that term was used for good, years before I got annoyed at Mrs. Reagan and the government (and my mother) for telling me what to do. They were right of course, don't do drugs, it never leads to anything good (well, maybe a few fun times and some stories you pray your kids will never hear). Just Say No was a National effort to unite against the evil of drugs, in fact studies at the time proved that drug use and abuse dropped significantly while Reagan was in office. Interesting how Democrats, Republicans, Independents and the entire US population joined forces to protect against the dangers of something deadly, and it worked.

That was before this country went colorblind.

I mean that in so many ways. I try (try being the key word here) not to debate or discuss religion and politics (and sometimes football) because the issues are intertwined and have become such a part of who we are. I wish I knew the exact moment we became the Divided States of America: Us vs Them, Red vs Blue, Right vs Left. I would say Good vs Evil but I said I would try. I was raised in a mostly Republican house but my family never voted along party lines, and I was no different. I remember during the 1992 election someone I worked with heard I might be a Republican and assuming I was going to vote for Bush verbally assaulted me with a fury I didn't know existed in him. After his face returned to a safe shade of pink I assured him that I had no plans to vote for anyone BUT Clinton, I was excited to see where he would take this country. It was the first time I had been in a situation like that, I wish I could say it was the last but that's not the case. In fact the Bush family inspired some wicked fights in my own family. Eight years later I found myself in the exact same place only this time I was the attacker. I was shocked and disgusted that my own father was going to vote for George W. Bush, even his father, my beloved Papa G had begun campaigning for Al Gore. We were both crushed after the election. When it happened again in 2004 I was livid, while I wasn't a huge fan of Kerry I didn't think this country needed another four years of W. Again my father was voting party lines, only this time I didn't have Papa G to cancel out his Florida vote (he passed away in 2002). I think I was so mad that I refused to talk to him the next day, I did send him a picture of his granddaughter in a Babies Against Bush onesie. D had similar arguments with his parents who received their political bullet points from Fox News, something that did not sit well with my Progressive husband. They too received the same picture of their "liberal" grandbaby.

With this division so prevalent in our own family I can see how easily it overtook the country. The Bush/Cheney administration divided the country in ways we had never seen before. Then came Barack Obama. I remember the first time I heard him speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I had no idea who he was, but I remember the way he spoke. I also remember telling D that this Obama dude talks like he's running for president, who the hell is he? I took his political authority for arrogance. I love being wrong sometimes! I threw my hat in the Obama ring early and was happy when he was named the blue party candidate. For the first time in my life I volunteered for a political cause and it felt good. For the first time in a long time I felt hopeful. Yes We Can turned into Yes We Did. K begged my father to vote for Obama and was disappointed when he didn't. I was too, but the victory of my candidate softened my anger and I even heard my dad say he was excited to see what Obama would do. Maybe times were a changing.

Then came the Party Of No, The GOP's new strategy whose only initiative is to bring down Barack Obama and take back the House and Senate no matter what the cost. Now it sickens me to say this but this is taking color blindness to a whole other level.

Watching the Health Care Summit today was a visual reminder of the Just Say No policy. I though of K as a toddler: arms crossed, feet stomping and "NO, NO, NO!!!" was all she would say, sometimes for no reason. Why are they saying no to this? Why aren't the Dems fighting back? Why did this summit seem like the beginning of the battle when it should have been the end? Why does it have to be a battle? Shouldn't we all have affordable health care in this country? Shouldn't we all be fighting together to make us a healthy nation just like Nancy did in the 80s?

What if the Dems and half the country decided to just say no to Reagan's Just Say No policy? That would be crazy, who would do that? Drugs are bad, don't do drugs. Simple. It's the same thing here, saying no to health care is ridiculous. You want to bring down Obama, fine, but why punish millions of innocent people who desperately need affordable medical coverage? You want to bring down Obama? How about finding a worthy opponent for him in 2012, how about finding a candidate who is trying to change this country for the better, how about finding a Republican leader that will give us all hope? Wouldn't that be better?

Today I saw a bumper sticker that was a play on Obama's HOPE, except it said NOPE. That really hit home, especially today. They are saying no to Obama, they are saying no health care, they are saying no to HOPE.

I believe this country and some of it's elected officials have a lot of hope left, yesterday I watched as NY Rep Anthony Weiner spoke his mind regarding this issue on the House floor and even after his comments were taken down I watched him do it again!! Is there hope out there? You bet there is! Early in the week a bipartisan jobs bill cleared a GOP filibuster with critical momentum provided by the Senate's newest Republican, Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Baby steps are still steps. Even K would uncross her arms and say yes once in a while. Baby steps indeed.

Will they take away my hope? I'm just gonna say NO!!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment 2/24 MUST SEE!!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The Power of Love


Ugh, it pains me deeply to know that the title of this post is a song that makes me ill. Not the message, I like that, it's the bad 80s band doesn't sit right with me, but that's a rant for another day.

If it's Wednesday it must be therapy. D and I both went to the appointment this week, we had a few bumpy road moments this weekend and talking about it with a third party always helps. I'm always surprised where these sessions end up, it's a lot like writing this blog. I have a general idea or random thought and then all of a sudden I'm in the middle of something bigger, often related to where I was going only to a place deeper and sometimes darker. It's all a process and I'm not afraid to go out of my comfort zone if it means getting real. Sometimes I think D has trouble doing this, something that Dr. Phil will say is inherent in most males. I call this getting comfortable being uncomfortable, and it's a relatively new thing for me. I was a huge fan of keeping it all to myself, the more difficult the issue, the deeper it was buried. Now it's all bubbling up to the surface like methane in the Northern Siberian permafrost (I read a lot), and like that methane it has the potential to be deadly. Often when I let things out I don't think about the language I use, I realize I do this because I'm not really comfortable saying these things and need to get it out fast. So while I believe I'm doing this out of love it may not come across that way.

We tend to use the word love a lot: I LOVE Krispy Kreme, I LOVE Radiohead, I LOVE Tory Burch flip flops!!! (and I really do love all those things). I Love Lucy, I love the 80s (I do not) "I love you man" is the drunk guy battle cry and we all know the motto for my hometown: I♥NY. I do my fair share of throwing these words around, usually related to food, clothing or something cute that K has done, what I don't do is give love as freely as I talk about it.

Which brings me back to Dr. Phil today. During the weekend I told D something that was becoming a problem for me, we discussed it like adults and didn't just trade facts. I was happy that I got it off my chest but I never really thought about his feelings, I guess I never really do that. I think because I didn't hold it in like usual it wasn't a problem. I suppose I do this a lot, and in a perfect world, or a perfect relationship this may be OK. In mine, it's not OK, not even close. In order to take in all I'm dishing out D would have to be 100% secure in my love for him, this would be possible if I actually knew how to show love. Like I said earlier, I can fling the word around like nobody's business, I can put passion behind everything I do (writing, cooking and baking, photography, child raising, even shopping) and I can tell D that I love him but I'm just no good at showing it. I hate beating the dead horse that is my childhood but that's not going to stop me from doing it.

We were not an affectionate family, my grandparents were, to a fault but that trait wasn't exactly passed down to their kids. My parents divorced when I was 7 and I spent the majority of my formative years living with my mother and later her and the psycho stepfather. The time I spent with my dad was great, he wasn't affectionately challenged like my mom, but he was in the odd position of seeing his children when my mom saw fit. This arrangement wasn't natural and took a toll on all of us, making weekends jam-packed with activities, never knowing when we would be able to see him again. I felt love in his house and when we would visit his parents it was a lesson in love, my grandparents had been in love from the day they met until the day my beloved grandmother passed away. In fact the light that shined out of my grandpa's eyes went dark the day she died. He existed that way for 14 years, I can't use the word lived because after she was gone there was no life in him. The power of her love sustained him and without it he merely functioned. I wish I had spent more time with them, maybe I would have learned something about giving and showing love.

As I grew love was shown by geography:
"Do you love me?"
"I'm here aren't I?"

That was good enough for me but only because it was better than nothing. My first marriage came and went, he grew up with a similar "way of love" so it was easy to walk away because I had never really given him my heart. He was more upset because he had failed at something more than he was at losing me. When I met D I was in the process of finding a way to live and accept the positive and not fixate on the negative. We had a wonderful courtship, friends first, growing and learning about each other slowly, but all on our very best behavior. We got engaged, married and pregnant in less than a year and a half. After we had K we both got caught up in whatever would occupy our time. I spent my days with my daughter and was too physically exhausted to give anymore of myself to my husband, to make it worse I resented him for even wanting that from me. I did this for a long time until D could no longer take it. That's when we found Dr. Phil, D wanted us to be connected again, and up until today I didn't realize exactly how disconnected I had become. I don't need to model the bad behavior I grew up with just because it was comfortable, all I have to do is look back and think of my grandparents, and the little things they did for each other every day. The smile she gave him when he looked at her melted his heart, so much so that he never once complained about chauffeuring her everywhere because she refused to learn how to drive a car. She was the glue that held our entire family together and when she died a big part of all of us did too. I never realized that I not only inherited her physical traits but I must have some of her emotional ones in me as well. I always saw her give 100% even when she didn't want to. I do this with K every day, why don't I do it with D too? Surely I'm capable of this, I'm pretty strong, inside and out, just like Grandma E. She had the power of love and I bet I do too.

I have a smile just like hers, I bet it works the same magic.

Now if only it could get this stupid Huey Lewis song out of my head.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Driving Miss Crazy


Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles (about 14 years ago) I was diagnosed with a severe case of road rage. I found this hard to take, before moving to Los Angeles I had never really driven a car. It came on fast and spread quickly. I tried a variety of treatments to keep it under control but nothing seemed to work. I had good days and bad days, I had also come to the realization that there was no cure, I would just have to manage. Anyone who has ever driven a car in Los Angeles knows that this was not an easy thing to accomplish.

Right after K was born I did my best to keep the symptoms of my road rage at bay, at first it was excruciatingly painful to suppress, but I got used to it. Yelling, screaming and cursing only made her cry more which made the driving worse. As she got older I even had to stop the bad language and obscene hand gestures. Smiles replaced scowls and flipping the middle finger was replaced by flashing a peace sign. I used my yoga breathing to get me through the rough times and relied on K's happy smiling face to keep me in check.

I have to say that for the most part, motherhood has kept my road rage in remission, I do have my moments but they are usually just isolated incidents that I manage to let slide by with dignity and grace.

Until today.

I don't know how it is in other cities but here in LA you can tell that all the horrible drivers are out in force in a matter of minutes. My first clue today was a commercial van swerving in and out lanes on Pacific Coast Highway, I successfully avoided a collision and cautiously pulled up next to it to see what was going on, in the front seat were three guys beating the crap out of each other up and laughing hysterically. I am desperately trying to remember the name on the van so I can call and complain. The second clue came when I got off the freeway, waited for my light to change on Pico blvd, the light changed and seconds later a car slowly flew through it. OK, I knew what kind of day it was going to be. I decided to do just one errand and get home fast, then pick up K from school and go right home!! I made it safely to my favorite discount store, pulled into the parking lot and counted my blessings. Before I got to one I found a spot, put on my blinker and stopped to let the person behind me pass so I could park. He didn't move, I pulled up a little so he could pass, and what did this A-hole do? Pulled into the spot. I didn't move, I was in complete shock. "Are you kidding me?" I said hanging out my window. "Are you f$#@%&g kidding me?" Two guys got out, pulled their hoods up and one said "yeah, thanks." WHAT???? My blood was boiling, I let out a stream of expletives that would have made George Carlin blush. Then I found a spot, composed myself and bought a latte.

Then I got really mad, and a little scared. I'm a 5'3" 110 pound woman, and these guys could do some damage to me and my car. I went back into the parking lot and took pictures. In fact, the picture above this post is the offending car and you can tell by the way it's parked that they pulled in fast and without thinking. Taking the pictures and allowing time for the caffeine to enter my bloodstream calmed my nerves. I went into my mecca and started looking around, a few minutes later I saw the guys that caused my blind rage and guess what? They didn't look so tough, they looked stupid and pathetic and one of them had the audacity to give me a sly smile, apparently he didn't recognize me as the insane driver. I lost it again, publicly berating them and letting them know that what they did was wrong, that they were cowards and the lack of manners and respect they showed was disgraceful. So now I knew that they weren't tough at all and were actually embarrassed. Good, I felt better and safer, there was no way that could harm me or mess with my car, the store was pretty crowded and they all had my back.

I drove home slowly (but not to slow) and carefully. I stayed home until pick-up, retrieved K, did a quick errand and came right home. When D works late I usually do something special for our dinner and today K wanted sushi, as much as I wanted to indulge her I knew the right decision was to keep the car in the carport and stay home. I wasn't as worried about running into LA's Most Awful as I was about losing my cool again.

I had gone so long without an incident, and even though today's was totally justified it didn't feel very good (well, it did at the time actually).

Tomorrow is another day, a day full of errands and appointments that will take me all over the place. I'm pretty sure that things will not be as bad as they were today but if someone takes my parking spot they better be prepared for my wrath, I may be small but I am LOUD.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My One & Only


I used to want 4 kids, of course that was a lifetime ago even before I married Starter Husband and moved to Los Angeles. As I got older the number went down to 3, I even had the birth order: boy, girl, boy, and a list of names that I loved (Joshua, Justin, Eden were the top three). Starter Husband was very eager to start a family but that was due to family pressure more than a desire to be a dad. Besides, the thought of having kids with him, at that point was a bad idea. We parted ways before anything that would permanently bond us together forever happened.

One day, soon after D and I had been dating a while the "kids" discussion came up, I was pretty vocal regarding my opinion on the subject, although I was never one of those girls who had a ticking time bomb in my belly. D on the other hand, had a different answer. While he wasn't opposed to the idea of fatherhood, the thought hadn't really occurred to him. That was good, at least he wasn't one of those guys that absolutely positively did not want to willingly procreate. He knew that spending his life with me would mean that eventually someone (hopefully) would be calling him daddy. We were married in September (21st, just like in the Earth, Wind and Fire song) and in October we had a small pregnancy scare. Thankfully (for me) I was not pregnant, I think D was a little disappointed. That Christmas we went up to see his family, my reward for enduring such oblications is and always has been a trip to San Francisco (the location of our awesomely spectacular wedding). It was during this compensatory part of our trip that D suggested I stop taking the Pill. Huh? We had only been married 3 months, and aside from his mother asking us in her wedding toast, when she was going to be a grandmother, the subject hadn't even come up. OK, I can deal with this. When we came home I made an appointment with my doctor and we went over the whole what to do before you're pregnant stuff. Since I had been on the Pill and I wasn't 21 he said to give it six months to a year before getting pregnant. Cool, that meant some time being a newlywed, trying but not really trying, so basically having lots of sex and calling it babymaking. Score!

Less than six weeks later, I was pregnant.

The funny thing is at the time we were thrilled, we knew we wouldn't have to suffer through infertility issues, basal readings or annoying charts and graphs. My pregnancy was perfect, the only problem was early labor at 7 months (ironically the day before out first anniversary, K wanted to crash our dinner I guess). A trip to the ER and some IV fluids solved that.

Then we brought our baby home, since I had lots of kid experience this was going to be a no-brainer. D could sit back and relax, I was in charge!! Nope, never happened. I was not in charge, I was lost, exhausted, and suffering from a wicked case of Postpartum. D on the other hand was a natural dad and handled K with the ease of a man who had spent a lifetime around children. It really was a beautiful thing watching him with K, I love the pictures of him asleep on our couch, his arms gently but firmly holding the tiny pink bundle.

Eventually the fog lifted, we found a bigger space (while I loved our beach pad I not so affectionately dubbed it "the cave") and I got to decorate the nursery. Things that attributed to my postpartum depression. I fell into motherhood the way I knew I would and our life went on. It was somewhere around K's 6 month when I realized that she would be an only child. D and I never spoke at any length on the subject but it just felt right, the three of us. Three is a magic number, just like the old Schoolhouse Rock song. Our trinity was our destiny. The thought of those two other kids I wanted never again crossed my mind. Besides K was absolutely perfect, an angelic looking beauty that literally stopped people in their tracks, strangers took her picture, women in Rite Aid made blessings on her and I spent most of my day saying thanks to people who made endless comments about my daughter's heart shaped lips and infectious smile. There was no way that I was going to top this kid.

I don't regret this decision, it's right for our family, and not because of the bumpy road we started on, if I had another baby it would be cake, this much I know. I just don't want another child. When people ask me if I miss having a newborn I tell them that I miss K as a newborn. I'm in no way judging people with more than one, I'm simply saying that for D and I it's one and out.

This doesn't sit well with some people, I am constantly being lectured on the dangers of having an only child: they are lonely, spoiled, selfish and desperate for attention. Yeah, ALL children are guilty of that. My daughter has a million friends, will gladly give away her favorite toy if it makes another kid happy and gets all the attention she can handle right now. I was at a party with my buddy A once and she witnessed a woman practically berating me over my decision to have one kid, A was incredulous, how could I take such a verbal beating? I told her that I am secure in my decision, this other woman clearly was not as secure in hers. I suppose I could just offer up a made up medical excuse to get these serial moms off my back but that wouldn't be me.

We take K everywhere, something we may not be able to do with more. Sometimes she asks for an older brother or sister but that's usually right after a playdate with one of her non-only friends. After a while she'll tell me that she's happy she's the only kid because she gets all the love.

I love the number three and I love the triangle we have created. It's the mathematical symbol of ideal proportions. Three sides supporting each other.

Sounds ideal to me.

Confectionery Genius?


Na, just a picture of the cake I made with K yesterday. What I should have photographed was the mess we made, it was quite a sight.

Thanks for looking!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cake Bossy




I don't really watch TV, unless it's Keith and Rachel on MSNBC or the occasional sitcom here and there. I hate reality shows more than Lost and those initial crime shows and forget about daytime TV. Recently I put a cap on K's TV viewing, she had somehow stumbled upon TLC's Cake Boss one day and really liked it. I set the DVR and recorded every single episode (thank you cable networks for the popular marathon stunt) so now when she's earns TV time that's what she watches. I love and hate TV time for K, I am grateful for the distraction and can usually cook or write during that short time but I hate that glazed-over catatonic look that she usually gets. Cake Boss doesn't have that effect on her, in fact now she calls out for me to see some awesome cake that Buddy (the Cake Boss) has made, instead of screaming her snack requests like she used to.

Most times, I'll come and join her, she likes when I do this, not just because she loves me so much and enjoys being with me (at least in my head she does) but because she knows that I will totally get into watching it and will HAVE to see the next episode.

"OMG, is that a life size motorcycle he's going to make?? Dinner can wait!!!!"

Suddenly K has become extremely interested in baking, a different kind of interest from before, that interest was based entirely on wanting to eat copious amounts of cupcakes and cookies. Now she wants to bake huge colorful cakes and spends hours sketching their designs. Today D had plans to play football with some friends in the park (outside on a Sunday?? No more NFL until August) we were going to tag along and cheer him on. K decided she didn't want to go, I think she was caught up in a serious cake emergency and needed to see how it played out. That was actually fine with me, I was tired from the wine tasting we did last night (8 bottles, 3 people, no driving) and welcomed the rest. Rest is for suckers and the parents of quiet children. K somehow convinced me to make a cake with her using fondant "just like Cake Boss Buddy" something I have never done before. I went right to the interwebs and found a recipe that didn't require a physics degree or a kitchen staff of 12, merely a trip to the supermarket. Cool, I can handle that. Our shopping cart was a nutritional nightmare: marshmallows, confectioners sugar (lots and lots of it) eggs, butter, cake mix (yes I am a lazy baker), icing and to make it worse I threw in a tube of those awful but addicting Pillsbury Grands! cinnamon rolls because I forgot to buy them during the week like I promised (I didn't forget, I was hoping she would forget, silly mama).

Lucky for me I was wedding register happy eight years ago and had a collection of cake pans that had never really been used. K's plan for our first creation was a simple square cake (like a present mama) covered in turquoise fondant, a plan that required multi-levels of fluffy vanilla cake cut and stacked on top of each other (easy, thanks Buddy) dirty icing (a term K learned, basically icing the cake so the fondant will stick to the cake) and then the fondant. That was going to be the fun part. K wanted so badly to help me with this part, all I'm going to say about the process is that cups of turquoise colored melted marshmallows combined with cups of powdered sugar makes a mess so great that it actually repels cleaning products. I used all my might to fight the OCD in me, it worked, we had a great time. We were covered in blue marshmallow paste and we didn't care. We didn't care when it took over an hour to get the fondant from sticky and wet to dry and ready to roll, I mean this literally as we finally got to christen our rolling pin.

K is smart, by this time she had taken to her usual seat on the counter and was telling me how Buddy usually does this or that, reminding me that I needed more powered sugar on my workspace (she was right). A few hours after starting, our masterpiece was finished. I added a little decorative touch and vetoed her idea to use all the old colored icing we had, apparently that made me mean. Whatever, call me mean, it took me hours to make that cake and I wanted it to be pretty.

We invited some neighbors to join us and in a matter of minutes our beautiful creation was devoured and enjoyed. It was good too, and not just because I'm cake deprived.

I had fun doing this, it was a lot of work but the payoff was huge. It was a joint effort and K was a big help, working by my side for most of it, bossing me around for the rest. Before she went to bed tonight she told me about the next cake we are going to make, it's going to be a four tiered multi-colored creation, maybe with an ocean on top. She's still conceptualizing. I'm sure by tomorrow she'll have it all figured out. We never did anything like this after watching Spongebob. I still hate reality TV but will relax about it if the reality takes place in a kitchen.

I'm so proud of my little Cake Boss and grateful she didn't discover LA Ink first.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Jackass Jr?


I don't know how or why it happened but my beautiful daughter K was born without the fear gene. I should have known this when I felt her flip entirely around the day before I went into labor, a labor that lasted 48 hours. During that long stretch of time (most of it spent at home) she was all over the place. When I finally relented, D caught his breath, grabbed our bags and drove to Cedars Sinai. A little backstory on my birth plan: a four page document that started with ABSOLUTELY NO DRUGS and ended with Barry White playing on the CD player. Five seconds after arriving that plan was thrown out the window only after my doctor shredded it into a thousand pieces. I was immediately started on Pitocin (a huge NO on my birth plan) a few hours later later my doctor strongly recommended getting an epidural (!) while they tried their best to turn K right side up. When it came time to finally push her out, she wouldn't budge, she was happier playing tug of war with her umbilical cord. She won. As they wheeled me into the OR for a c-section my doctor went over what was about to happen. She must have a cord around her neck and might be in distress, a team of neonatal specialists joined us in the already crowded OR. A few minutes later K was pulled out of my belly with the cord wrapped around her neck twice, she must like jewelry I commented. She also let out a very loud cry and the room emptied, she wasn't in distress she was playing chicken.

Nothing much has changed, she was always "that kid" hanging upside down from somewhere. She was running before she was walking, she was hanging off the monkey bars before she slid down the slide. She dove into the pool before floating around in it. You get the picture. She has a scooter, a skateboard, heelys, Funslides, if you can break your arm using it, she has it. I'm glad she's a tomboy sometimes because when she wears skirts or dresses her scabby knees are quite a sight.

I love that she isn't afraid to try new things (although vegetables clearly do not apply here) I was the exact opposite, I was happy sitting on the sidelines with my nose buried in a book.

I get a lot of worried looks from other parents, it's cool, I'm used to it. Luckily we've avoided any real trauma, while K is completely reckless she manages to keep it safe. D isn't helpful in this arena as he was also born without the fear gene. As we speak they are taking turns crashing into things with Funslides. When I pick her up from school it takes a minute before she is hanging upside down on the jungle gym. This is a good thing as she is building strong arm muscles which I hope will be used to fight off the boys which will no doubt be flocking around her someday.

I was happy when she made friends with a girlie girl in kindergarten, while she loved her bff she grew tired of dress up and Hannah Montana. She preferred the company of L and Lady D's (our buds) older son. After a while she wore him out too. She's tough too, if she's sick she doesn't let us know. I've become adept at reading her sick clues and recently I smelled an ear infection on her.

I'm assuming this fearlessness is a result of the stability of her upbringing, probably the reason that I don't freak out over her latest stunt. She knows that she is safe, she knows that she will always be safe. I was a scared kid, clearly the result of insecurity due to a lack of parental supervision. Will I be surprised when she wants to zipline, bungee jump or hang glide? Nope, will I be there to watch? Of course. I'm hoping that after years of watching her fearlessness I might even join her. I am supremely proud of this gift D and I have given her, and I secretly (sometimes not so secretly) cheer when she performs her special tricks.

I wonder how awesome Johnnie Knoxville's parents are. I have a feeling I would really like them.

Friday, February 19, 2010

tiger tiger burning bright


In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And, when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And watered heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Hmmmm, I wonder what Blake was thinking about when he wrote this. It seems like he's asking where this beautiful but feared creature came from, how could such an evil beast exist? While he is terrified of the tiger he still appreciates the beauty in it. In simple terms, he can fear it yet be in awe simultaneously. Blake inquires if it's possible that the lamb was born of the same god, contrasting innocence and brutality.

The duality of man.

Which brings me to Tiger Woods. I'm sure by now everyone has heard his very public (and poorly written) mea culpa. OK, I get it, he's sorry, he let us down, he wants us to believe in him again. Come on people, he cheated on his wife, he didn't kill anyone. He's famous because he's the best golfer to ever play the game, that's it. His betrayal affected his wife and subsequently his kids. Not me, so please Tiger, do not apologize to me, you didn't do anything to me. Work it out with her, or not, it's your business. I'd like to say that the press is to blame for this, but if the public wasn't holding their collective breath waiting on all things Tiger it wouldn't even be an issue. Today the entire country stopped everything to watch Tiger Woods publicly admit to his transgressions. Great, can you get back to playing golf now? Maybe all this BS will stop.

I started this with the poem because it shows the extremes, the tiger and the lamb. Tiger Woods was on top of the world before we were all introduced to his army of skanks. He was everywhere, cereal boxes, video games, spokesman for a thousand different product. You name it Tiger Woods was on it, a role model for all. We hoisted him up on the highest of pedestals, so when he fell, it was dramatic. Therein lies the problem: why do we continue to turn celebrities into role models? Are we so afraid to live up to our own expectations that we need to rely on athletes, rock stars and actors? I want to be the role model for K, D wants to be one too, I want K to look up to her teachers for inspiration, not someone she watches on TV (when we let her watch it).

This whole ridiculous media frenzy is disgusting, leave this poor family alone and let them deal with it. If we didn't transform pop culture icons into heroes they wouldn't have to turn into villains. If we honored those individuals who excel in everyday actions like kindness, selflessness and tolerance or exhibited traits like integrity and humility, life wouldn't hinge on the daily activities of athletes and actors.

If we held ourselves accountable for our lives and our actions we wouldn't have to place the blame for the downfall of our society on a guy who cheated on his wife.

If we want to compare tigers and lambs we should go to the zoo.

Family Ties



I've had people ask me why I write so openly about things and how can I feel comfortable showing my vulnerability. Well first, I started doing this as an online journal, I figured maybe D would read it, a friend here and there, something that I'd do for fun once in a while. It turns out that writing this way is freeing, a complete cathartic experience for me. I don't look at like I'm airing my dirty laundry, I see it as being honest. My home life isn't perfect, but I'm working on it, I don't write about every single detail, just the things I feel like talking about at that time. Yesterday I wrote something about my family history, I didn't go into specifics, but I have no problem doing that. I didn't think it was important in the overall scope of the message. The issues with my past range from normal childhood dramas like being an unpopular late bloomer (glasses, braces, shyness, bad haircuts and horrible wardrobe choices didn't help) to being raised in a house with an abusive stepfather who got great pleasure making my life a living hell.

These are the things that shaped me into the woman I am today, and while I cannot go back and change the wrongs that have been committed I can accept them and move on. Holding onto these things can only give them more power. If I let the past dictate the present or future then I am letting the abuse continue. I can now joke about how ugly I felt in elementary school and I can laugh when I look at the pictures from that time, I'm not that girl now. I can talk freely about living with a man who scared the shit out of me every day because I don't live in that house anymore. I will be honest here because I can be.

I don't really know what prompted this, maybe it's because I am about to go to Dr. Phil (my awesome therapist) for my solo appointment in a few minutes, or because I felt the need to explain some of the stuff I write about. I know I keep promising to write about the "Christmas Incident" which caused the ban of all things Mother-in-law, maybe I needed to preface those stories, which are coming BTW, with a little background.

Who knows. What I do know is that regardless of how easy it is to write the personal details of my life, it's point is not revenge or anything bad like that, it's to show that no matter what happens (or happened) to me I will hopefully be able to learn from it, and not let the bad stuff rule my world. My family life may be messy but it's mine, I can't change that. It's like that cliche expression "you can pick your friends, not your family" without the gross nose-picking part. Maybe I wouldn't have picked them but they are mine, and I love them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Sometime Around Midnight




NEW VIDEO: Sometime Around Midnight

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There's something about this song that keeps it in my head all the time, seriously, I listen to this CD all the time. This is a great band from my old hood, Los Feliz. Check them out and become obsessed like me!!

Dysfunction Junction



what's your function? No really, what's the payoff for dysfunction? I had lunch today (well really a late breakfast) with my girl bestie A. She was telling me about the latest drama between her and her mom, who is visiting LA for a few weeks. It's funny because I always thought I owned the franchise of dysfunctional family stories until I met A. We can go head to head for hours and I think she might even beat me. Sadly this is a contest that neither one of us want to win. Her family dramas are unlike mine but both tell the same tale, and while our stories may belong to different genres, they are both located in the horror section. This is something that we joke about constantly and while our childhoods are kept in the past where they belong we both fear repeating the sins of our mothers.

I can tell you that this fear alone is enough to ensure our daughters will not have to live the lives that A and I did. While some people grow up and learn valuable lessons that they will pass on to their kids, we took our childhood as a lengthy seminar on what not to do. The funniest thing about both of our mothers is they don't have a clue (or at least they don't admit it) to how deep their dysfunction has actually affected us. They are both guilty of telling us what we are doing wrong with our kids. They both told us that we were spoiling our babies when they cried and we gave them immediate care and comfort. I'm sure that ignoring us when we were crying uncomfortable babies (and later as children and into young adulthood) spoiled us, very much the way food spoils when you forget about it for too long. Ouch. The good thing about our moms is the physical distance between us, for me it's 2726.33 miles, A is the big winner here, with a distance of over 7500 miles.

Now this isn't to say that it's all bad, in fact I have made peace with my past and allow my mother freely in my adult life. I also allow her the pleasure of spoiling her favorite granddaughter, only this time the spoiling involves unconditional love and a never ending supply of candy, toys, dolls and teddy bears. I think she knows better now and maybe has even learned a thing or two (or a thousand) from me, and while we never discuss past crimes the guilt she feels is something she has to live with every day. A hasn't fared as well though, while she clearly wins the medal for distance, her mother still refuses to acknowledge the cemetery of skeletons in her parental closet. This could be an age thing, my mom is a little older than A's, maybe with the passing of time she too can get with the program and try to mend the fences that she spent a lifetime kicking through.

Or maybe not. Either way K and J (A's little girl and K's friend since almost birth) are reaping the benefits of years of therapy, years of soul searching and years of a friendship that has bonded us in ways that I never thought possible. Most people hide the parts of their life that embarrass them or makes them uncomfortable. The very first time I met A she opened up to me about the truths in her life making me want to do the same. When she opened up about her family I knew that I had met my soul-mate in friendship. I knew from that moment on that I would never have to feel shame about the inadequacies of my formative years. Not only was I free to let the stories flow I was also free to joke about them with someone who had been down that road as well.

So now when we get together we swap tales of good and evil, and marvel at the fact that the journey we both took led us to a place of healing, that good can come out of bad and that our kids will know that dysfunction is a hard word to spell and not a way of life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brand Aid



I'm a pretty loyal person, and not just to my friends and family. When I find something that I like, I usually stand by it. My last car was a Ford, and when it came time this summer to get a new one, I didn't have to look far. We went to the dealer and I got a brand new version of my old car (except this one takes E-85, yay me!) I frequent the same restaurants, buy the same brands at the supermarket (always the SAME supermarket) I have customer loyalty cards falling out of my wallet. I even used the same toilet stall way back in the day when I worked for pay at Fox Family Channel (TMI?) I suppose you can say that my loyalty should really be called familiarity and that may be true.

Retail stores go out of their way building brand-loyalty, if you use the store credit card you earn points to get discounts, free stuff and the ever popular title of "preferred customer." I love these cards, when I shop at the Gap or Old Navy I get gift cards for reaching certain spending levels, Victoria's Secret sends me coupons for free panties so often that find them in my drawer with tags all the time. I was at Old Navy today, I found a coupon from a mailer I forgot to use so I went to see what they had. All the new Spring stuff was in and I saw a super-cute pair of white jeans. Why would the mother of a six year old messy girl buy white jeans you say? They were already on sale and would end up costing me $15 with my coupon. Score! Or so I thought. Since I have recently lost weight (I went from about 134ish to somewhere around 110, but that changes daily) I brought in a few sizes, tried on the 6, my old size when I was squeezing into clothes, way too big. Cool. Tried on the 4, too big, yay! Put on the 2, what?? How are these too big? Shlepped back out to the floor, found a 0 (yes, I wrote 0) in a different style and they were too big. Huh? Tried on yet another pair in 0 and they were tight. WTF? I get that different styles fit differently but come on!!! The pair I really wanted was too big in a size 0, so I left Old Navy, without super cute white jeans. Had these jeans fit me in a size 0 Old Navy would have me for life, seriously, I can imagine D asking me "hey baby, what size are you?" and I can simply say "Zero." I was kind of psyched for a while and then I started thinking (dangerous, I know). I remember when sizes were S, M, L and sometimes XL, but not often. Now the sizes go XS, S, M, L, XL and even XXL. Just like sizing used to start at 2 and now it's 0, I've even seen 00. I made a joke earlier but what's after 00? Do you shop in the ghost department? I actually went to the kids section after not finding what I wanted, and yes, the kids stuff fit me.

I just want to point out that I am not anorexic thin, my weight is anywhere from 108 to 113 depending on the amount of birthday parties for that week. I eat plenty of food, I do eat healthier now, but I do eat. This is not about me, this is the retailers adapting to society and building brand loyalty. Seriously who wouldn't fill their closet with smaller numbers? I used to shop at Banana Republic for years, not because I liked the style of their clothing but because I fit into their size 4. I believe that kind of loyalty isn't about familiarity but about years of market research.

Will I still buy into this after my realization? Oh hell yeah! I'll be visiting Old Navy as much as I can now, hopefully they'll make those super-cute white jeans for kids.

Except then I'll be a size 14.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CRUSHED!!!



OK, I know I'm being a bit dramatic here, but as I read a story about the "coffee war" that Burger King is about start with rival (but equally disgusting) McDonalds I found out that Seattle's Best Coffee is owned by STARBUCKS and has been since 2003!!! Oh the humanity, SBC was my favorite place to get holiday themed lattes, Peppermint, Pumpkin and Gingerbread, oh my. They were pigs in lipstick the whole time.

I am crushed.

I love you a latte.



I thought I'd take a break from spewing the deep thoughts in my head and talk about something I like for a change. I can't make any promises though. Sometimes my fingers have a mind of their own. That's a scary visual.

So I absolutely love lattes. Not just coffee, which I also love just not to the same degree. There's something about the combination of caffeine and steamed milk that I just adore. It is not possible to start my day until D hands me a latte in my favorite mug (made by K at Color-Me-Mine years ago). I don't even know how this obsession started, it wasn't too long ago though. I think it might have been a few Christmases ago when I bought D a milk frother. Mornings have never been the same. I used to make fun of those people who walked around clutching coffee-chain-logo'd white cardboard cups like they were holding the holy grail. I am now one of those people.

I have my favorites too, I think the bigger the presence on the block the lower they are on the food chain for me. I really hate Starbucks and will only go in a latte emergency, Coffee Bean is OK, Peet's and Seattle's Best are really good. I love the smaller independent places, Caffe Luxxe in Santa Monica is my favorite, not only because it reminds me of a European cafe but they make the most wonderful designs, very much like the one in the picture above. I try to go to Luxxe as often as I can, in fact I was there today. I should have taken a picture of the beautiful leaf design they made for me. I think I allow myself this delight for a variety of reasons. Sure the whole ritual is kind of soothing, a treat during the day is always welcome and of course the caffeine induced energy boost doesn't hurt. It's really the only thing that I do during the day that is solely for me, unless I'm actually meeting someone for coffee.

Why have I turned this morning staple into my guilty pleasure? I know women who get the same pleasure from weekly spa treatments; facials, massages, mani/pedis, botox, the works. I can't stand being in a spa for longer than an hour so that's out besides, I would only feel guilty after spending a fortune not pleasure. I turn to this simple luxury because I like it, it serves a multitude of purposes and for $4 I feel like I am indulging myself, something that I rarely ever do. Since I thrive while multitasking shouldn't that extend to everything else about me? While it may seem like a frivolous habit to some, to me it's pure heaven. It gives me that "Calgon moment" every time.

It seems silly to obsess over what's basically a cup of coffee with some milk but it gives me unconditional joy, gets the blood flowing throughout my body and makes me feel like I'm actually doing something for me, only me.

All this for the bargain price of $4? Sounds like a win to me.

Regular milk, please.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Round and round



I love school holidays because I get to spend the whole day with K, I dislike school holidays because after a few hours my head starts spinning. I love my daughter, everyone I know knows I love my daughter. She was 6 before I finally allowed her to spend the night away from me. Yes, I had never spent a night away from my child until recently. It's not that I thought she would have a problem or be homesick, clearly that was not the problem. The problem was me, I wasn't ready to be apart from her. It sounds silly and overbearing but I like knowing that she's only a few feet from me when I go to bed.

Now that's not to say that all the time we spend together doesn't make me want to rip my hair out, I often feel this way. She's a great kid, smart and intuitive to a fault (can't get mad at her for this, she's me in a tiny body) but so stubborn. That's where we lock horns. I tire easily after repeating myself a thousand times, like at lunch today "K, please sit on your chair, this is a restaurant" "K, please, on the chair" "Hey, K? Please stay on the chair" until finally "K SIT ON THE CHAIR ALREADY!!!!!" I use this style of communication on a daily basis, about eating (she doesn't) getting ready, brushing her teeth, basically everything. I will say that when I do get to that point she is nothing short of compliant and turns into the angel I know she can be. I'm not saying I want a Stepford kid, but it would be nice not to have to repeat every single thing every single day. I know that tomorrow morning I will go through this same process over and over making my head spin. In fact as I write this I have completely lost my voice, again. And yes, D is probably quite happy.

Which brings me right to D (hi baby!) I don't have to tell him to sit on chairs, thankfully, with D the escalation in my voice is more subtle and usually takes years, not minutes. If something bothers me, I'll keep it to myself, until I can no longer live with it. Then I will gently let him know that something may be bothering me a little. Soon after that I will remind him that we still need this issue addressed. Then I'll let him know that maybe I'm not happy with what's going on. He will acknowledge my dislike or complaint, and we will go on, with little or no change. It will escalate (in my mind) until I am really angry and then the shit hits the fan. It must be like a gentle poke, and then another, and then another, and then another until finally you need to be heard and go right to a headbutt.

No fun, I assure you.

I am doing my best to be clear about the things I want and need from my family and friends. I'm not used to that, I'm used to just doing things all by myself, but I don't live my life alone so that's not possible. I realize that my head spins and my voice gets to a level that is unpleasant because I make it that way. I need to let it all out as soon as I feel it, whatever "it" is. Keeping it in does me no good, but worse it creates that spinning out of control feeling that escalates until the mountain has been made from the molehill. It creates unnecessary feelings of anger and resentment regardless of the cause and the cause could be something stupid like leaving a coffee cup somewhere.

So what I learned today: It's not the end of the world if K doesn't sit at lunch. If she takes too long to brush her teeth and we leave a little later will it really matter? If the coffee cup is on the desk for a few minutes, the world will not come to an end. I have literally lost my voice repeating the same things over and over, no wonder my head spins.

When we pass the Santa Monica Pier K will sometimes say to me "Mama, why don't you like the Ferris wheel?" and I tell her it's because I ride it every day, and she'll laugh. I think next time she asks me I'll ask her if she'd like to join me for a ride.

I wouldn't mind that kind of spinning.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Heart & Soul



As this Valentine's Day comes to an end I hope everyone reading this had a wonderful day, I hope all expectations were met and if not, I hope the anger has subsided. Our Valentine's Day started with room service breakfast in bed, so no matter what happened during the day, it couldn't be bad. D is so smart, the change of venue is a brilliant way to literally get away from any problems at home. For me there are added bonuses: no cooking, no cleaning and NO MAKING THE BED!! Leaving the TMZ rules. After a lovely meal cooked by someone else and delivered to my bed we checked out of our beachfront retreat and hit the nearby Camarillo outlets. While I am a huge fan of all things discount, I detest these outlet places with a passion usually reserved for Costco. First, you aren't fooling me, I was raised in the rag trade and I know what real outlets are. I know what "seconds" are and I shop enough to know that most of the crap in most of the stores are years old. That being said if you are a good shopper (like me) there are plenty of shopportunities out there, if you have patience (I don't) and can leave your kids at home (I did not) it might actually be fun. We didn't plan on staying too long, just long enough to spend the $50 gift card that came with our room (score!) I won't bore you with the complete shopping details but I got a super cute pair of jeans, D got a cool pair of shoes and K got a bright pink sweatsuit (is it still called a sweatsuit?) We all got those kickass pears from Harry & David, and of course what visit to H&D is complete unless you take home those terribly awful (can I have more please) chocolate covered fruit things. Damn you delicious high carb "fruit" snacks!!!

Did I say long enough to spend $50? Yeah, we spent way more than that and were there for HOURS!!!I knew I had lost it when a Snickers-covered carmel apple sounded like a good lunch idea. We left to find a less chocolaty lunch which made us all feel better, even K ate actual food!

The ride home was OK until we thought wouldn't it be lovely to take PCH home? No it would not, while the ride was quiet because K was asleep, it took hours longer than it should have, good thing I had those H&D "fruit" snacks with me. Car rule: If you're on the road all dietary rules are suspended. I guess it was a lovely idea after all, D and I got some alone time and we both got to eat all the "fruit" snacks we wanted. Yum!

We came home, exchanged cards and gifts and put K to bed, alone at last!! I spent a lot of time today thinking about this "holiday" and why it means so much to people. Most of us go through our day in a mental state of autopilot, we all need constant reminders of what needs to be done. We make to-do checklists, put yellow sticky notes everywhere, we even leave messages to ourselves. No wonder we need a "holiday" to remind us to tell our loved ones that we care. I guess I get it now, what I still don't get is the gift thing. I like buying gifts when I feel like it, when I see something that I think would be appreciated. What do flowers, candy, jewelry, teddy bears or lingerie have to do with a message from the heart?

I know what D and I are going to give next year. It's so simple. It's the one thing we all need, it's the one thing we cannot live without, and it's the only thing that comes directly from the heart, and it only comes in red. It's perfect. Next year, on February 14th D and I are going to give blood. I invite you all to join us, it will be the one gift you give that will not disappoint.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Flowers and Candy and Cards, oh my.




After what ended up being an exhausting week, mentally and physically, D decided that he wanted to take us all away for the weekend. A change of venue is always a good idea, we always manage to recover quicker after getting away for a day or two (family visits are the exception to this rule, something I promise to delve into just not right now). So I am writing this, not from my living room like I usually do, but from a hotel on the beach in sunny Ventura, California. I'm not sure that this trip is to celebrate Valentine's Day, the long President's Day weekend or the fact that we actually made it through this week without killing each other. Regardless of the reason I am grateful for the location change, so thanks again D.

This brings me right to my feelings regarding Valentine's Day. While I always assumed this holiday was invented by the greeting card, flower and candy companies it was actually established in 496 A.D. by Pope Gelasius. I have nothing against flowers, cards and candy, I have a problem with a day that makes these things expected. How about sending me flowers on a random Tuesday, bringing home candy because you thought of me when you saw it. How about I send you a card that says "I love you" because I love you and not because the calendar says it's February 14th. I think "holidays" like this put pressure on couples, not only do they have to live up to unrealistic expectations but then have to compete for the best "look what I got" present or bouquet. No thanks. I happily made Valentines for K's classmates, the fun they had in exchanging them was, well, fun. In twenty years some of these same girls are going be sitting in an office crying because some boy didn't send them flowers. I'm not projecting here either, I have actually witnessed these V Day tears and it's not pretty. Does that mean I didn't buy anything for D? No, I bought him something that I think he could use, for reasons that will be obvious when I give it to him tomorrow. Did he buy me something? Probably. Will I be disappointed at all? Absolutely not, in fact I would be mad if he overpaid for flowers which are ridiculously overpriced this weekend.

I do love Valentines Day for one reason: On February 15th all those giant boxes of unbought chocolate will be marked down to $2, I love that.

Valentines Day was meant to honor love and affection between intimate companions, if that's the case how about doing just that. Honoring each other with words and actions of love and affection.

You want to buy flowers and candy? Buy them on Monday.

Olympic Tragedy



The horrific death of Olympic luger Nodar Kumaritashvili happened just hours before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Whisler, British Columbia. My sympathies go out to his family, friends and country, I cannot possibly imagine how awful this must be for them. Making it worse is the video footage of the accident that has been splashed all over the internet. Worries over safety issues are now being debated. I read that concerns about the world's fastest course had been raised for months, that the course was too technically difficult and that the lack of significant practice would result in accidents. These concerns were realized yesterday when a 21 year old competitor crashed and died after coming out of Curve 16 on the $100 million venue. Apparently there had been many accidents during training on the course earlier this week, one turn is even called 50-50 because that's the chance you have coming out of it.

I'm all for competitive sports but this tragedy clearly shows what happens when it's taken too far. They are blaming this accident on Kumaritashvili's inexperience, but how is that possible when the only team who could have been adequately trained on the course was the home team? Couldn't they have spent part of the $100 million raising the walls and covering up the steel beams that killed the 21 year old luger?

While this tragedy now clouds the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver I hope the IOC takes this horrible lesson and demands changes in the way things are done in the future. Safety and well being should should be the focus in the building of these venues, more so than speed and difficulty.

I will pray for the safety of all athletes until that happens.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lights, Camera, Wait.



Ahhh, the exciting life of a stagemom. I would say that 90% of my time doing this has been spent waiting. Waiting in traffic, waiting in casting offices and of course, waiting on set. Where we are right now. I'm waiting while my darling K is being photographed for Old Navy. As I sit here I can see her having the time of her life in a fake garden while stylists, hair and make-up people, assistants, grips, a wonderful photographer and the nice people from Old Navy clap and cheer over her every move. A fortune in production at the hands of a six year old, and she knows it. She's been doing this for years and knows how to work it in front of the camera, probably the reason we are still doing this. When K was about 6 months old I decided to send in pictures of her to agencies after about a thousand "ooohhh, she is so beeeeautifulllllllll, she should be in Baby Gap!!" So one day I sent some pictures to a few agencies, after about an hour I got a phone call from one of them. Seriously, it's this easy? An hour?? I really did it as a joke while she was napping. After a lengthy conversation with a wonderful woman from a pretty famous agency I agreed to have them send me the info to look over. A week later my 6 month old had a print agent, a commercial agent and a work permit.

A few months later after driving around the city a handful of times K and I found ourselves in a Santa Monica studio shooting a catalog for Babystyle. It went so well that they asked her to come back the next day, and then again for a couple of years. Since that first shoot K has worked for Baby Gap a few times, Old Navy, Disney (lots and lots of Disney!), Guess Kids, Target, Kohls, Johnson & Johnson, Mattel and tons more, she's been on the cover of Parents, done work for Parenting, Babytalk and has done three editorial shoots for Baby Couture Magazine (a fave of both of us). K has also done a few national commercials earning her a SAG card before she was 5, not our choice, after doing a few you become a "must join" who wants to shell out that kind of cash willingly?

Throughout this experience we've met some wonderful people, in fact some of her best friends (and now mine too) were met on a set. Together we've seen some of the most amazing locations in Southern California, some public, some private, we've met some of the worlds most talented photographers including a few shoots with David LaChappelle, I learned that my child can not only model underwater but can do it ten feet underwater!! I have seen my beautiful but unruly and dirty tomboy of a daughter emerge from a room looking like an angelic princess, a site that brings me to tears almost every time. I know that people are disgusted with the thought of a child model and think that stagemom is a bad word. I invite anyone who feels that way to spend an afternoon with us, auditions and shoots are like giant playdates. These kids all know each other and are thrilled when they get to hang. What kid wouldn't love to dress up and have fun for a few hours? Today K met a little girl just her size, after about 5 minutes together they announced that they were best friends and would not leave each other's side until it was time to leave. They did schoolwork together, got mani/pedis, had a nice lunch, played Candyland, grabbed snacks when they thought we weren't looking and when it was time to "work" basically laughed and held hands while the crowd around them squealed in delight. I wouldn't spend a single minute doing this if she didn't love it as much as she does. It's great fun for her and she is building a nice bank account that will help her pay for college (or a car, or travel to Europe) when she's 18. Good thing too because the money we put away for the future isn't doing too well right now.

So as I sit and wait for her to finish, I chat with the other mom, reply to emails (shoots with wi-fi rule!!) have some coffee and just enjoy the moment because my daughter is having a wonderful time. When she's wrapped but wants to stay until her new bestie is finished instead of bolting like I want to I say "sure K, we can stay, I'll be right here." Waiting.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I scream you scream




we all scream for... stress relief? Maybe not, I scream in my head a lot though, sometimes I feel better sometimes I just feel stupid. When I am stressed out, upset, angst ridden or feel the need to let it all go I get in my car, blast the tunes and take off. I love the sound my car makes when I gun it, not quite the sound of a Shelby GT 500 (red please) but it's slower, more family friendly cousin (which it is). Today's victim was PCH to the 10 and back again, the tunes: The Airborne Toxic Event, the speed: can't say, don't want D or USAA to get pissed off at me. Let's just say that there are times in Los Angeles where the freeways are not jammed and Porches, Maseratis and even Ford Escapes may roam free, the way nature intended. Something about the speed and the so-loud-you're-going-to-go-deaf music that soothes my soul.

I felt immediately better, stress levels are normal and angst reading is low. After the ride I needed to refuel and a large high-octane cafe latte did the trick.

I know there are different methods to relieve the stress of daily life, somehow I find this one works best for me. I've done it through food and while that immediately makes me feel better, beating myself up over caloric intake and ridiculous high carb counts bring on a whole other kind of stress. I'm also a huge fan of Retail Therapy but after years of that treatment, my closet is full and my funds are low. What's a girl to do but take it to the streets. I tried to get in one last lap in before school pick-up but PCH was not very cooperative. Construction + bad drivers = no Fast & Furious Malibu Drift. Good thing because when I hit the road with K for a last minute Old Navy fitting the CHP were everywhere. Looks like I dodged a bullet today.

Maybe tonight I'll actually eat the ice cream.