Thursday, August 31, 2006

If You Don't Like the Food...

... Get out of the kitchen. The problem is, I've always been a pretty bad cook, so I can't blame anyone for wanting to bitch about it.

But I'm on a roll these days. Once/week I'm reorganizing something so I can actually find it. Or it's edible. In some cases, both. Such as today's big feat? A 3 tiered hanging fruit basket. Of course after I adjusted the screws and hung it from our cabinets it resembled some sort of leaning Italian architecture, but it keeps my fruit from bruising.

For the big purchase, I spent about two hours in the kitchen store, Pip and Stink jumping on the fake beds much to the irritation of the cashiers, deciding on chrome vs. cream. Then I thought of Rex who would remind me that our kitchen is such a piece of ca-ca that anything is better than what we have "which is a big fat ZERO" so just plunk down the 9.99 and call it a day.

And so I did.

And so I hung it.

And in the process I inherited a brand new cooking surface when the moldy ceramic dish (the previous home for fruit) was cleaned up and put in the dining room cabinet for its intended use as a mexican casserole dish. I'll need to buy some beans to go with my three billion cans of chile. I also discovered, as part of my inventory sweep, that I own 28 cans of tuna but no mayonaise... 30 cans of sauce but no noodles... a whole box of pancake mix but no syrup... And why exactly do I have two blenders but only one lid? And are you supposed to have to clean your pots every time you want to use them, making you never want to use them?

Armed with the spiritual approach that I'm going to feed my soul, as well as the practical approach that my once a week Taco Tuesdays does not constitute as satisfying meal fare, I am using one pan, one boiler and one chopping block. With Stink at my side (who usually separates the frozen veggies while standing on the metal folding chair) I will dice, I will slice, I will boil and bake.

Tonite's meal? Lasagna, recipe courtesy of Topanga T (will use all of yours from previous posts, too... thanks. Of course, more are welcome!) I thought Rex would do a double flip after eagerly asking for seconds. But truthfully, he's probably so thrilled I followed a recipe rather than my usual crank on high, burn a bit, dust off and serve, that he'd ask for thirds if it encouraged me.

I am going to meal plan more.

I am going to shop more.

I am going to listen to music as I cook.

But tomorrow, I'm going out for dinner.

I'm starting slow.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Stink's Stinks

So Stink just came into my office, half dressed. He proceeds to hand me a wad of Scooby Doo underware and shorts.

Stink: These are a little wet.

Me: Oh, you had an accident? (Rare for him these days.) It happens.

Stink: Yeah.

He hugs me. I am touched and bury my head into his blond curls, still peppered with sand from our day the park.

Me: Oh, Stink, out of all the mommies in the whole world, and all the little boys, God put you and me together. Isn't that so wonderful?

Stink: (smiling) Yeah. (Then) Now wipe my butt.

Getting Up..

...on the wrong side of the bed. We've all done it.

I slept horribly last night.
I'm supposed to be at the park at 11.
I hear thumping upstairs.

I'm scared.

Let's hope it hasn't turned into the great butt paste fiasco of last week... (pic above)

Monday, August 28, 2006


I am noting with sad irony that the difference between "correspondence" and "despondence" is but a few little letters. So, after going back and forth with a major editor about 10 times (and sending a final revision to her this morning) my fate is in the hands of her editor and chief. All I can do now is let go, let God as they say. Hopefully God, in addition to being a carpenter and saving the universe, also knew the perilous journey of the pen and will take pity.

This editor has been incredibly generous with her responses to me, telling me why a particular story idea has, or has not, worked. On Friday told me that the Chief did indeed like my background, but found the angle "unfresh." Ha! I love the honesty. So, I sent her about 4 new angles today (that I reworked while sitting in a broken massage chair at my favorite carwash, Cruisers.)

Thank heavens for my sitcom experience - having to turn around stories in less than an hour, which leads me to my next 2 points (oh yes, there's more...)

1. All experiences in our lives help us in future endeavors (not just the experiences that were positive... we can twist any negative to our advantage and reap new benefits.)

2. Play the game to show you know the rules (in my case, send a formal query) but then be yourself, because hell, what else do you have? Might take longer to get your goal, but when you're there, you have solid footing. (Of course, we might have to fast forward to my first national magazine break when I'm 86, getting the sidebar story on bed sores in the AARP.)

I leave you with an example of staying true to myself - a quick note I just jotted off to my editor contact:

"Regardless of this essay's outcome, you ROCK! If ever I get to New York (which will be in about 15 years after both kids disappoint me by not going to college and instead selling hemp blankets in Venice - positive thinking) I owe you a coffee. (I'd say a martini, but despite being 6'1, one glass of alcohol and I'm passed out in the SUV, drooling on the steering wheel. It's fun to be me.)


I'm now off to supervise a play date where we have a Playdough war erupting. Will victory be to Stink who is wearing only his Scooby shorts (backwards no less)? To Pip? (Who shines in a fabulous Gap jean dress from one of my favorite thrift stores. She also dons a red chenille hat and Buzz Lightyear pull-ups.) Or will the final medal go to Kinder Tine - a five year old kindergarten upstart (who radiates in a black and white striped happy face dress - a recent purchase yesterday at yet another "resale boutique" ... Her mom is the one who gave Pip 14 pairs of shoes - proving a little Goodwill on my part goes a long way. Pun intended.)

Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

My Anxie-tee

So along with the other one million and forty three items I have in mind to create (and make my fortune), I think it would be fabulous to create a black tee shirt with the writing "My Anxie-tee".

I have no idea how I came up with that. Must have been divine inspiration.

People, I really am a normal person, but sometimes my brain gets going so fast that I can't see the forest for the trees. Like now... I'm typing 96 words/minute. My husband is sick on the couch. I just put the kids to sleep and fired off a letter to an editor. Why am I not in a bath tub, beer in hand, dreaming of sleep?

It's great to have ambition. It really is. But sometimes one needs to stop and smell the flowers. My problem? While I'm smelling the flowers I'm imagining a front porch. I'm then wondering how many Ebay items I'd need to sell to get that porch. And if I did make all that cash, is a porch really the best alternative? It's not like I'd ever sit still long enough to enjoy it.

I really am going to work on this. When my mind goes to negative places, I'm going to do what I tell Stink when someone is mean to him. "Don't sit and take it! Yell back!" So here I go: "No! Go away! Be quiet!"

Maybe a few thousand more times and I'll sleep.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Six Year Reflection

Today is my sixth year anniversary. We are celebrating it in true Mama P/Rex fashion: he's working on a computer for Stink while I'm hauling rugrats out to Thousand Oaks to hang with Stella at a "big boy McDonalds" (Burger King).

We are, however, doing a two hour dinner tonite. Our tradition? 3 fold perfection:

1. I drop off the kids at my sisters.
2. He orders way too much Chinese take-out
3. We meet in our driveway, plop down on 2 lawnchairs (that we got from Stella for our wedding) and see where the next two hours take us. (Sometimes it's neighbors, sometimes it's a stray dog trying to negotiate a wan ton. Most times it's just us, wondering how in six years we ended up with two kids, a mortgage and the ability to enjoy a good meal in a safe place.)

I will end this post with an email exchange I had with Rex on Thursday. Sometimes he surprises me by sending non work related quotes - known by his company as "Reflections". I am quick to compliment him in my responses.

From Rex: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
-- Harvey Fierstein

From Me: "Never be bullied into a life of toddlers 24 hours a day. Surprise your wife with a weekend cruise."
-- Your Ball and Chain

Friday, August 25, 2006

Unplanned Parenthood

This was a bizarre day that started with Stink projectile vomiting in a parking structure (luckily he did it in his car seat so I can be reminded of it for months to come.) I'd like to say that I intentionally packed the white shirt I was able to change him into for just such occurences, but I only had it because Mrs. V returned it to me yesterday from the day I kicked Stink out of Bible Camp. Praise God for small acts of fortune.

Post vomit was followed with a trip to McDonalds, the Santa Monica Pier, dropping off a friend at Planned Parenthood and then watching old Disney movies in Topanga T's cabin while I slept like the dead in her 200 thread count comforter.

I don't know much in life, but I know if a ride on a carosel can be combined with a good friend having a hoo-hoo tune up, anything in life is possible. (Especially fun was watching the looks on people's faces as my big double stroller rolled past all these freaked out women, most who were there to avoid exactly what I was pushing past them.)

Like I said, life is bizarre.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Houston, We've Made Contact

I've decided I have nothing to lose by following through on a national magazine who showed some interest in one of my pitches a few months ago. Like that cute guy in highschool, I could sit home and dream about him, or grow some balls and ask him to the Christmas dance. Of course, the guy I asked out had barely any idea who I was and proceeded to show up with the most popular girl in the school while Texas Lizy, Mtn. Meg and myself dressed up as elves and took tickets. However, I KNEW he wasn't interested, so I could put that dream to rest.

So, I fired off a very casual email to the editor today. Not five minutes later, I got a very lovely response. Quite lengthy, too. She told me that there was indeed some interest in my background, but the editor in chief found my pitch to be pretty unexciting. However, they are going to revisit it on Monday, so she asked me to send her some new angles. In a second email, she asked what the ages of my kids were. The main editor wanted to know.

My point: this could lead to nothing. But it could be my big break. And you know what, people? With my days mostly full of changing diapers, cooking, cleaning and shoving Ebay in between naps, queries and phone calls, I'm pretty damn excited. It really is about the trip, not the destination. (Though that's scary, because everyone knows that trips of any kind freak me out and I haven't had a vacation in years.)

Let's just all go with the metaphor, wish me luck, and be generous with the internet condolences when everything goes to shit. That's the spirit, right?

And people, I am so darn impressed with all of you. New friends, old ones... you give me inspiration and encouragement. May all of you find your dreams, too. Like I just told Teri M, my goal is to be rejected by someone big at LEAST once a month. I wish the same for you.

(And don't forget me when you're more famous than Dooce. I love that website, but could there be any more hype about it? Sorry Heather B. I think you are actually a great writer, but so are a lot of amazing women I've met lately. (Check out Erin and Menoblog, One Tall Mama and more -their comments below this post). Of course I have no idea how to blog roll them, but give me time. We'll take over Blogher quicker than Tom Cruise at a Scientology rally.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Racing Toward the Green

In my ever sneaky pursuits to get my kids to eat their veggies, I've introduced the very popular "Who's Winning" game. It goes like this:

Me: Stink, your sister has eaten more veggies than you.

Stink: No, I have! I'm winning!

Me: Let's count.

Now comes the educational part of dinner where we are grateful to have washed our hands as we touch each and every pea on the plate. "One...two....three..."

When it's clear that indeed Pip is winning, Stink begins to shovel the veggies in, making Pip (who does everything her big brother do) follow in suit.

Whalaaaaa! All greens eaten.

While it's true that I have finally gotten my children to eat vegetables, I have also introduced the human classic: sibling rivalry.

The final upshot? I will have healthy kids who hate each other.

My job is done.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Test... this is only a test

How the hell do I post a damn photo of myself for my profile? I'd have better luck hitting my head against my desk.


Monday, August 21, 2006

Flying High

I was flipping through the blog of one of my commenters just now and found this post, along with a photo of her parachuting. (

"I want that feeling all the time - in everything I do. That is life and that is living. Being present, dancing on the razor's edge, unafraid, confident...fully trusting. Giving in to the unknowing and soaring without fear, adding a touch of humor, (a stylish jumpsuit, of course) and a feeling of complete certainty in every present moment - that is indeed LIVING. Having a funny, trusting sidekick ready to deploy a parachute and guide you in your landing doesn't hurt either!"

It's odd how perfectly this describes my goal. In fact, I was just talking to my cousin about it. As open as I am emotionally, I'm a chickenshixxx when it comes to traveling too far from my home. Go to the local library, read about the world, get the life history of the librarian and then blog to millions of strangers about it? That's me. But take a one hour trip to Disneyland and have to force myself to relax my rushing thoughts? That's me, too. ("No, the Matterhorn won't break down mid-turn, catapulting me onto the furry Yeti and forcing my son to be the only child in the history of time made into an orphan at the happiest place on earth.")

I want to go last minute to San Diego to enjoy Old Town, the Gas Lamp District and walks along the warm sands of La Jolla, stopping for coffee in the Living Room near the caves. I am proud of myself that I'm too spirited to allow nerves to stop me, but worrying about having a panic attack on the 5 while fretting over illegal alien children who might be stuck in a pipe along the ocean? That gets tiring.

Though probably not as tiring as this post is. Or my husband, who went to bed at 10pm while I'm about to drink coffee, avoid exercise and list a few 4 buck items on Ebay which will only make me more tired, frustrated and anxious in the future.

Oh, it's fun to be me.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Good Time Anaheim!

And now... the Top 10 reasons we spent 400 bucks and loved every damn second of it.

1. Stink arriving in the parking structure, eyeballing the escalator and shouting "Let's go on that ride!" (pic of him in oversized Goofy shirt holding my hand)

2. Stink viewing the Pirate boats with the wonder of a Morman drinking soda for the first time. (Downside: he was a little freaked out by the explosions. "Ooooh... this is too pooooooooky!" Upside: At least his night terrors will be more legitimate than 'that caterpillar scared me'.)

3. Rex and I treating ourselves to an overpriced meal at the Blue Bayou. The twinkle lights, fireflies, sounds of water and laughter from the passengers on the pirate boats exceeded all my childhood fantasies of dining on that romantic porch. Especially unforgettable: dining alone while my cousin took Stink to Toon Town (We actually extinguished the candle ourselves because it was too bright, not because a toddler insisted on singing a round of 'Happy Birthday to You' and blowing it out with spit.

4. Seeing my husband go from Mr. Cranky Guy ("Great, we spent 180.00 to stand in a ticket and a tram line for 1 hour") to Mr. Kiddie himself "We have to take Stink on the Jungle Cruise and Tiki Room right after I hit Splash Mountain...Oh, Pip would have loooooved this!".

5. Chatting about nothing in line for half hour stretches while Stink happily looked around or sat on Papa's shoulders - not one complaint (shocking, but like the fabled intoxicating atmosphere at this place ? All true. Picture above - one of a few family shots we own, actually.)

6. Seeing Stink's big eyed look of wonder on his first flight to Neverland, as well as some classic confused grimaces (like seen above.) You gotta wonder: these kids go from pushing their way out of a birth canal to three years later being stuck on a giant honey pot and twirled through a "story book" dream while fat bears spin amonst animitronic flies. Ya think it's a bit confusing?

7. Hearing blue jazz play in New Orleans Square while Rex and I reminisced about our childhood at the park.

8. Riding on the carousel while hearing Julie Andrew's voice announce the princess procession (I half expected to see Pip herself coming out in full regalia, but alas, she was safe at home with grandma, pulling sticks, watching Elmo, and refusing to eat.)

9. Eating Mickey Mouse shaped pretzles on Main Street after viewing the parade - the lights twinkling in the trees, the souvenier shops lit up like a Christmas tree, big band sounds pouring through invisible speakers at the the Carnation Shop.

10. Stink pouting (for the first time that day) "I'm sad... I don't want to go" only to be surprised by Rex who, on a rare act of whimsy, presented him with a plastic rope light for his neck (even bought one for Pip who stayed home with Grandma). This trinket kept our little man occupied for ten minutes in the car (which he ran to, with Rex... you think Disneyland is insane? Nothing compares to toddlers' energy.) Not even a mile out of Anaheim he had fallen asleep, head first, drooling in his carseat- little lights twirling around his neck like a dog collar.

I don't care what anyone says about Disney consumerism. I love it and hope to go year after year - spending too much money, eating too much, buying dumb tee shirts and black mailing my kids with photos. In a great gesture of optimism, I even hope to stay at the Hotel California which I hear has an amazing Craftsman style flair.

Today it's back to reality as we clean house, prepare for our final baseboard paint, food shop and cook. In reality I'm wiping down my 1950's cracked counters. But in my head I'm at the Blue Bayou, holding my husband's hand and sipping on soda with a lemon.

Magic indeed.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Shot For Everyone

"A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter from low self-esteem." Naomi Wolf.

Something to think about - especially if we're raising girls. Do we all want to be thinner or more beautiful? Sure. But this standard of beauty (especially in Los Angeles) is so unattainable, and leaves so many girls feeling inadequate.

Let's all stop starving ourselves and use our bodies for strength, shall we? I'm not saying to use our kids' shovels for spoons, but carbs are not the devil. Some of my happiest memories are sitting down with my mom at a local coffee shop, smelling her coffee and keeping a fixed eye on the waitress who was due out with some dutch apple pie. I never once heard my mom say "Oh, my God, the calories." We laughed and indulged and went home to boring veggies for the rest of the week. I grew up a normal size, never barfed up my food, and managed to find a man who loves me for the size 14 I am. (I actually found quite a few, but family reads this, so let's just say I married and loved a guy who loved me at a size 14. Oh, shit... I married two men in my boring life. Shutting up now.)

As I drove past a "For Sale" sign yesterday, I saw this beaten down house. But on realtor's post was a bright red sign that read "I'm beautiful inside!" Shouldn't we all try to get past our exteriors and value what we all have within? It's a lofty concept, but if each of us start, one by one, perhaps we can be a revolution for our kids.

So on that note, I pledge to vent on this blog (hey, a gal's got to bitch) but to never, EVER, say in front of my daughter "I feel fat" or "Man, I look old."
My daughter looks at me with absolute love and adoration no matter how I'm feeling. How awesome would it be if she always looks at herself the same way?

On that note, I'm off to the Happiest Place on Earth tomorrow. Perhaps I shall wear some Minnie Mouse ears and strut the Magic Kingdom at a whopping 6'4. (Ooooh, that was a diss on my height. However, since Pip can't read yet, it doesn't matter. Besides, I'll make sure to show up at her sixth grade dance with them on my head to show off my confidence. I think she'll appreciate that.)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mothers and More

As fate would have it, a local paper assigned me the task of a 750 word article on the organization Mothers & More. With 7500 members in the U.S. and beyond, this is a monthly membership group (fee very small) that emphasizes the mom as a woman, not just a mother. There are playdates throughout the month and tons of community service, too. My favorite part about the group is the idea of "sequencing": that women will go in and out of the work force to justify the needs of her family - and this is okay.

The woman I interviewed also emphasized "non-judgemental" parenting. Here's the group for those of you who might be interested in finding out more in a location near you. The Conejo Valley chapter is offering a Moms Night Out at Maggianos one night - an Italian restaurant with old world charm and new world carbs. I'll be the giant at the new members table screaming "Mangi mangi! Pass the vino!"

In another act of serendipity, it turns out that the meeting I was invited to attend takes place in Westlake - close to my inlaws, who we visited today. Beginning with fruit and bagels on their porch, followed by a trip to the largest library in the universe (resplete with fountains, Pottery Barn style patio tables in an outside garden, an aquarium and kids section the size of Manhattan.) We finished our day with lunch at El Pollo Loco where the kids not only ate their chicken, but did not get loco.

Toddler J (Texas Lizzy's little girl) started Catholic pre-K today. Go Toddler J! Looking like she does, I'd stick that kid in a convent by Tuesday.

With peace in the house, I have the options now of editing, gardening, doing a load of laundry or starting dinner.

I'm thinking coffee, peanut butter toast, CMT and a nap work, too.

Pictured: Toddler J ready to learn her ABC's, arithmetic and break hearts. Also pictured, Mtn Meg at a volleyball tournament where her group of ladies were entitled "Got Milk?" Meg, Texas Lizzy and I were a tight knit trio from our all girls highschool days.

Given that Lizzie and I constantly barage Meg (a single career gal) with photos of our kids, I think she intentionally only sends us photos of herself tan and flat bellied. She might not like me publishing her photo on the web, but since she's too busy flying to Paris, dating exciting men, climbing Mt. Whitney, participating in tri-athalons and volleyball tournaments (and sometimes hanging out with us - she is my Pipsqueak's Godmother and no better peson could have been chosen) she has no time to read this boring mommy blog. So she'll never know what I really want to say to her at this moment: "FUCK. OFF." (With love, of course.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Now I'm Cooking

I've never professed to be a Cordon Bleu chef, but I manage to get basic healthy meals on the table, especially at dinner. I find it especially sad, however, that when I actually steam the vegetables (translations: press the START button 2 times on the microwave, cover with plate, then serve) my toddler spits them out, stating, "I can't eat these. They're wet."

Me: "They're not wet. They're cooked."

Stink: "Oh." (Pause) "I like them better the way you used to make them."

Me: "You mean raw, right out of the bag, slapped on a paper plate?"

Stink: "Oh, yes, Mommy! Like that! Like that!"

I can't win.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Picture People

Cecelia and I met at 11:00 to get our children photographed. After debating between JC Penny, Sears, Walmart, Target, Babies R Us, or our digital photos of toddlers and newborns screaming, defacating or sticking their fingers in various crevices (bodily and otherwise), we settled on the Picture People (my condolences, Bride that Was - the price was right. Especially for what ensued which entailed:)

* Finn's face turning into a beet in between every other shot, making this newborn session the longest shoot in the history of time
* Pipsqueak and Stink doing belly dives on the "surfy blue" roll out paper (used as a backdrop)
* Stink agreeing to hold Pip's hand, but only when his face was turned away from the photographer
* Many motherly tactics I normally don't utilize (My kids won't be bribed... riiiight.) "You smile this minute or we aren't getting candy afterwards! One! Two! Three!" (aside to photographer) "Take it! TAAAAKE the shot!" Photographer: "But the bottoms of their feet are showing." Me: "Oh my god, my toddlers have feet? The horror! Pip, Stink - stop climbing the hatboxes!"

Despite chaos, condrums, crying (anything that begins with a 'c') both Cecelia and I ended up with some reasonable photos. The one shown here? It's not going out in Christmas cards (As much as I love Pip's strained neck and Stink looking as if his head got stuck in a wind tunnel.) But since I made the kids call the mousy cashier "pretty lady" she slipped one to me for free. (It's true, Cecelia... while you were deciding on shots, I got an extra 8x10. I win! I win! Oh, wait... you have a beautiful photo of yourself with your child, while I looked like the poster child for Andrea Yate's fan club. I lose! I lose!)

Happy Monday people. May it be as pretty as a picture.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Hitting My Target

Today was my day to write. Instead, I went to Target and bought bathroom accessories. I'm super productive that way.

I did, however, accomplish quite a bit of writing last week, so I don't feel that bad for my 300.00 shopping spree, or my lame excuse at attention deficit disorder. Of course, the queries I wrote have yet to pay off, and I suppose toilet paper holders, bathroom caddies and car seats don't exactly qualify as a "shopping spree", but I had fun, so let's just go with that.

Thanks to Rex, I can now brag that I have molding in my bathroom. I don't know what it is about carved wood that makes everything feel so elegant, but my philosophy is that poop surrounded by shabby chic white particle board somehow would be funky in a good way.

I have a new toilet.

Even more exciting, it works. Come over, sit, pee... see for yourself. It even flushes.

I have a new sink.

In a few days I will have those cute little faucets that say "hot" and "cold" (Preferably the temperature will be written in French. It might translate to LEFT HANDLE "fuck off" RIGHT HANDLE "dumb housewife" but, like my philosophy on molding, it still works).

I wish I could say that it's more important to write - cooking and home details be damn. But I get so excited about paint and beadboard that my left leg goes into a permanent tic.

To conclude, Pipsqueak turned to me this evening, after spending time at a friend's, and asked, "Mommy, we please stay five more minutes?" I am sure she was repeating Stink, who is given to five minute plea bargain tactics, but given she just turned two, it still freaks me out. Kinda like that two legged dog on Oprah the other day that could walk from place to place on its hind legs like a human: it's possible, but kind of eerie.

People tell me that "it's a girl thing". (Translation: Stop bragging - she ain't that brilliant.) Maybe so,but this aside, I fully expect her to turn to me on her third birthday and exclaim, "Mother, I find Dora so droll these days. I shall have a Motzart themed party next year."

My response? As long as it takes place in my beautiful new bathroom, let the symphony begin.

PS: Photo of Pip taken a month ago at a friend's party. She clearly has confidence issues.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Room With a Poo

Pipsqueak is making the transition from her current bedroom digs (the pack n play in the dining room) to her brother's room.

We had a false start when she excitedly fell asleep in her Dora bed once last week (Her actual bed is the trundle on the right - mine from when I was 12 during my Laura Ingalls Wilder phase. We put the mattress on the floor to eliminate rolls onto the hardwood. It also makes it easier for her to use it as a trampoline and land face first onto the yellow pillows. We're lucky that way.)

Since her first introduction to Stink's lair, there's been quite a bit of brotherly sister bonding. Quite a bit of giggling, talk about poo poo, and midnight trips to the bathroom. But no sleeping.

That's not true. Elmo's sleeping.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hitting the Books

Today Rex was home working on the bathroom. Not wanting to chance my kids' fingers getting chopped off from a skillsaw the size of Madonna's ego, we had the rare treat of a Happy Meal in the car. Of course my kids whined all the way up to the drive through window ensuing a lecture about how,"This is not called a Bad Manners meal. It is called a Happy Meal. And if you want to stuff your bodies with fried food you better slap on a smile or we're going home to eat fruit!"

Needless to say, we found ourselves moments later under a shady tree in the library parking lot. For some reason, this place is like the holy grail for my children. Stink: "Oooh... look at the bluuuuue mail box (the after hours drop-off bin). Does the fairy come at night and put all the books back that good boys and girls leave in there for me?" Me: "Yes, and we will do the same. Isn't that good?" Stink: "No, that is not good. Not good at all. I want ALL the books."

Once inside, they made a dart for the children's section. Why that is not sealed floor to ceiling in sound proofed plastic I will never know. They have this mini-stage full of stuffed animals, and before I could stop her, Pip had doved head first (like her mama into a vat of Diet Coke) screeching, "It's Dora! It's Dooooooooora!" She only stopped swinging the lifesize doll around to pick up a beaten down cheetah and scream, "And Baby Jaguar! It's Baby Jaguar!"

Stink had no time for toys. He was right to work staking out his books like an old Pioneer claiming land. After a few minutes, we started in on a Spongebob, drawing a crowd of three more little dudes. "I'm not scared of that shark," one would say. "I'm very brave when it comes to sea monsters," a second would say, meanwhile hugging my kneecap like I've known him since infancy.

15 books later, we made it home to Rex blasting a U2 concert on a tv larger than Bono's stadium. All the noise on the surround sound was not enough to keep the kids awake. They were gone by 2:30, giving me some much needed time to myself.

A walk with Stink to Arco later, followed by some family time with all of us and some friends, made for a lovely day.

I'm too peaceful to think of anything sarcastic. Think of this as your lucky day off. Tomorrow I start in again.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It's a Small World

For those of you that are living in a mama bubble like I was the past few years, Newsflash: the Al Qaeda want to blow us up more than an inflatable pool with Liz Taylor belly flopping down the slide.,0,6150277.story?coll=la-home-headlines

I find all this talk about bombs and death and hate so depressing. It makes me so bummed out that all I want to do is take a vacation far far away. But that would mean traveling. Which means going to LAX. Which means lines upon lines and more frustration than even thinking about Al Qaeda in the first place.

Such woes were the lighthearted topic of Cecelia and my "play date" today. While Pipqueak demanded ice and deigned to play with 3 of 15 stimulating toys my friend graciously placed out for her, my dear pal rocked her three month old Finn and enlightened me on her moderate take on the Democratic party.

I of course sat slack jawed as I realized, as usual, that despite agreeing with many comments made earlier on a right winged talk radio show, Cecelia's pragmatic views of world events made a ton of sense. This only proves once again that I am neither Democrat nor Republican. Nary a fish or a fowl. In the end, I will most likely morph into a Libertarian with webbed feet and gills.

My question for all you people, regardless of race and political party: How does one raise a child in America anymore? It's the land of the free and the brave, and yet it feels like our freedom shrinks more and more with every news story. And I don't know about you, but I'm not feeling so brave. That woman laying fetal position in front of a big screen tv? Drooling while The Golden Girls runs back to back with Charles in Charge and Alice (The one where Alice gets the 'fake' ring and runs a circle on the glass and it makes a perfect hole and shatters in Mel's kitchen)? That's me.

Cecelia had a great analogy about terrorists. She likened them to bullies on the playground. They have charisma, all the cool gadgets and clothes. People flock to them and are afraid to stand up for fear of a wedgie the size of Texas. But when one kid throws a stone, and then another, and then another, suddenly the bully is overthrown. That’s what we need to do to collectively fight for our freedom.

Fair enough. But I don't want my kid the one in the front lines fifteen years from now, throwing stones at an invisible enemy and coming home in a body bag.

Such an uplifting thought process is why I never used to watch the news. But now I'm sucked into this vortex of self-awareness. I'll never miss a boring election again. I'll turn into one of those women who show up at preschool with a button on my vintage Don Henley tee shouting in bright red bubble letters, "I Voted for Elmo!" I hate that. (And I don’t even have a vintage Don Henley tee shirt yet, though I hope to get one some day. That’s just how screwed up I am feeling right now.)

To to leave on a lighter note, let me say that I am making progress in my queries. I have made at least $84.11 this month on Ebay with a good plan to flip some products for cash. And most exciting…. I am going to Disneyland next week with Stink and Rex! We’re even going to stay in a fancy Holiday Inn in Anaheim so we can be the first ones in the gate. (Or, as my cousin likes to say, “We’ll be park busters!”) Yes, before the Al Queda blows it up, I'm going to be a tacky American with my Mickey Mouse ears, banana on a stick, princess light up crown and It's a Small World ringing in my ears.

Yeah, it's a small world. Thanks to all of you that make my little spin in it so enriching.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Conversations With Children

Me: Stink, clean up this bed before we go to the park.

Stink: Because you're not my maid?

Me: Get down, Pipsqueak.

Pip: No!

Me: Yes.

Pip: No!

Me: Yes.

Pip: No!

Me: YES!


Me: No?



Me: Stink, do you want to give any night time thanks to Jesus?

Stink: Okay. Dear Jesus, please help me to drive to McDonalds by myself. Help me to play there and buy me a cookie. Now Mommy, tell me a story about Scooby and Shaggy who come to my house and the ghost who gets stuck on the maple syrup that I put on the floor but not before I asked you if it's okay and you said yes because I asked you.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mommies Who Write

An interesting article from the L.A. Times (sent by Cecelia) on bored moms. Moms get bored? Huh?,0,7794534.story?coll=la-opinion-center

Here's one found on another website about a new book: Mommies Who Drink by Brett Paesel,0,5372856.story?coll=cl-books-reviews

Just passing it on. No comment right now. If I had a title, it would be called Mommies Who Sleep.

Nite nite.

The Girl Has Sole

We have not had any tantrums today. I'd like to say my little girl is finally learning that my word stands firm so why bother screaming.

But I'm thinking it's the shoes.

All 14 pair, most of them in their original boxes, came to us courtesy of a family friend yesterday, the same one who introduced me to Rex. One could say Ali is both a soul and sole mate with her fantabulous pairing of parties.

While I personally have never been an accessory gal (I can contain all my cosmetics in one plastic pouch) my daughter likes nothing more than pumps, frills, eye shadow and of course, shoes. Between our new motherload of footware, and her 20 pair upstairs, she is the proud ownder of... drumroll... 34 pair.

I say this not to brag. I have bought her one set of shoes in my lifetime: a suede Hiawatha boots that I scored at thrift store for three bucks. The rest are from grandmothers, cousin hand-me downs, friend pawn offs and preschool hand me downs (oooh... make that 37 pair of shoes... she just got a Strawberry Shortcake sandal set and two pairs of tennis shoes from a little gal who, whenever she outgrows something, turns to her mommy and proclaims "These are for Stink's sister!")

The even scarier thing is that all these shoes are in her size through next year's size. She'd have had over 100 if I hadn't in turn donated or Ebayed the previous gear.

I pride myself on not being a ridiculous consumer. I fill my soul with friendship and love, not money. But I'm gonna have to concede on this one.

At least I'll have bargaining power later: "You practice your alphabet or I'm taking away those rhinestone pumps and matching clutch!"

Monday, August 07, 2006

Black and White

My son was a pretty affable little fellow. I can recall on one hand the amount of tantrums he has thrown in his life. Unfortunately, I can't count on two hands the amount my little two year old girl throws every day.

"She's a firecracker!" everyone says. "You will be so happy to have a strong woman in your family one day!" others mention.

Maybe so, but right now I just want to get out the door without fear of her hurtling out of my arms down the stairs because the shoes I picked out for her are akin to me making her walk on hot coals barefoot.

My strategy thus far has been to explain once, then ignore. "Pipsqueak, I know you want icecream for breakfast, but I am attempting to keep this house scurvy free." Then I just let her scream and scream and scream and scream. The downside is my son cupping his hands like ear muffs screaming "Woman! My ears!" The upside: I just might be raising an opera singer.

The crying jags are harder in stores, because people think you are ignoring your bratty child, when in truth, by not paying attention to the insanity, I'm attempting not to add fuel to the fire. As Rex and I are fond of saying, there's no negotiating with terrorists or toddlers. Like the balloons above, my daughter is very black and white. There's no calming her with "You can't lick the shopping cart right now but how about a fruit leather?" Like a tornado, there's lots of fury and kicking of dust, but in time it passes. And yes, that might be me holding on to dear life on the check stand pole for a better grip while she blows.

Despite her insanely willful nature, I have to say I adore this gal's spunk.

And Pipsqueak, some day if you're reading this, know that I love you more than any tantrum you can ever throw. And no, I don't mean that in any shades of grey. That issue is black and white.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Club Outsider

I was never the in kid at school, but I had a ton of friends. And clearly after scouring the internet the past few years, I am not the in mom either.

For those into great hair, lots of exclamations! and self-congratulatory back pats, you can join ClubMom. Even Elizabeth Shue is a member (her brother founded it with Meredith Viera... I'm thinking it's a possible reason for her involvement. Also, she gets the most comments. Hmmm, who'd a thunk?)

I sometimes wonder if I'm just a bitter person - the gal with deep seated popularity issues from not having enough homecoming dates. But after reading so many articles, and posting to so many Club Mom websites (apparently that's what you have to do to have someone link you so that your website can get more hits) and getting nary a response, I've decided that this mother popularity contest is a dance I don't want to be invited to.

My irritation is at an all time high tonite as I haven't seen my husband much this weekend thanks to the bathroom project from hell which, to save you the gory details, has still not produced a working toilet. Plus my kids have waged an all out "We Ain't Sleeping" war. So imagine my delight when I came across yet another party that I will never be invited to: Alpha Mom ( - a website/television channel for mothers that is supposed to make us feel connected and secure in our parenting. (And of course the contributing writers? Many are members of Club Mom... seeing the connection here?) Re: the CEO who wants all us mothers to unite? It is hard to feel sisterly bonds toward her when I look at photos of her in a size sub zero pant suit, nanny on the floor, holding a child with what's supposed to be some artsy fartsy name but sounds more like a deli sandwich.

While my parenting village consists of my mother, my in-laws, an Israeli Arco manager and the occasional retarded sign-holder on the street that will make my son laugh with his yellow foam finger, Isabel Kallman has a different view (another point for why I'm not in the club.)

...It takes a village. Isabel quickly hired one. Her son was just 2 weeks old when she retained a night nurse. When he was 5 months, “I started realizing I needed to get out more,” and she brought on a nanny. Then after about a year, when she started working, “I obviously needed more help,” so she hired a regular babysitter as well—also often employing her father and an Alpha Mom intern.

I might have a different opinion if I lived in New York and could buy expensive clothes that made me look like I really don't give a damn but clearly the price tag says otherwise.

I might have a different opinion if I had gone to Harvard and clinked glasses with Anderson Cooper at some fabulous restaurant outside Chicago.

I might have a different opinion if my career were more successful... where I had the finances to really care if my son got into the top preschool or not because paying for it wouldn't be an option.

....She still has days that she’s incredibly insecure and worries that she’s not doing it right—as when Ryland was rejected from the Harvard of 2-year-old programs, and Isabel wept. In such moments, she turns again to the experts, such as the psychoanalyst Michelle Ascher Dunn, whom Isabel has recruited to host several Alpha Mom programs...

But I am just a suburban mom who lives in an unremarkable town trying to do the best I can. Sometimes I have great hair. Sometimes my car is clean. Sometimes I look so damn cute I can't even believe it's me looking back in the pint-size hand stained mirror. But most days I'm doing the balancing act of shopping, filling the elephant pool and deciding the ever burning question of macaroni and cheese vs. tacos.

Would I love to be friends with Oprah and have a photo shoot with Rachael Ray smiling in my backyard telling me how to use more EVOO on my turkey burgers? Of course. But right now that ain't happening. And the weird thing is, I'm actually pretty secure in knowing that I'm doing a good job with my kids. I can sleep at night in one of two sets of sheets (that I wash myself - heavens!) confident that Pip and Stink certainly aren't going to be stupid because I didn't strap headphones to my belly so my fetus could "hear everything from Mozart to Van Morrison."

As I get older and wiser and see my amazing kids develop into children of empathy, style and wit - despite never having attended a Gymboree class or having a mother who cares enough to wear Prada - I have only one thing to say to this organization.


Saturday, August 05, 2006



For about one hour I had five children in my house, ranging from -1, 1, 2, 3 & 4. Normally by now I'd be ready to throw myself into a vat of Diet Coke and go for the Gold in amount of Animal Cookies consumed in one sitting, but I remain in a glorious mood. And here is why:

* Rex helped with the kids this morning while I cleaned the house
* Then Rex's dad came over to help him put the beadboard in the bathroom
* Then Rex's mom came over to help me with the kids
* Then poor Cecelia, whose husband is gone quite a bit on his film, came over for some well needed attention which I helped her with while the kids slept
* Then, since my kids each took 3 hour naps, I was able to pour some energy into my sister's kids so she could take a break

The theme here, people? Everyone helps each other, everyone is happy. We teach it to our kids in the sandbox, but sometimes forget to use it ourselves. And when we do? Despite little sleep. Despite yukky clothes. Despite one toilet... life feels grand.

And that, my friends, is glorious.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Very cross

Today marked our fifth and final day of Bible camp. I can sum up my state of mind by transposing a quick note I sent off to Kate: "I can't think straight. Let me call you or email you when I'm not ready to bash my kids head in with a crucifix."

Yes, people, "Love is Patient, Love is Kind." However, I don't recall Jesus ever having to open 13 juiceboxes in 100 degree heat.

Not that a crucifixtion is pleasant.

Shutting up now.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ugg, Heaven.

Third day of camp. Although I haven't lost a child yet, Stink managed to leave his team and find his way to my classroom, by way of a parking lot. He's fine. We're fine. Two days left and I can be back to obsessing over getting a job again. I'd like the say that the religion experience has been worth the volunteer time and hours, but in truth, just hanging out with Mrs. V., seeing scared, quivering kids turn into confident little campers, and watching Pip N Stick hold hands with hot pink and brown suede cowboy hats (resplete with black and brown suede tassle boots) is what makes me smile.

I've realized a few things: I love working with kids, but I hate the fear of losing them. I don't know how teachers do it. I couldn't concentrate teaching them algebra and worrying about them sneaking over to 7/11 for a pack of cloves. Of course, my kids are three years old. But they start so young these days, don't they?

It's cooling off here in the Valley. Rex and I managed a dinner out together, as well as dropped Stink off with Grandma. On the way home, with Pip in her blue ballerina outfit and diva Uggs, the cool air blowing through a clean SUV, a little music running through the stereo, I actually forgot about everything but where I was.

Then I came home to ants and a burnt out bathroom light and remembered.

I'll still take it.