Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Ele-Fuck-Em!







Okay, the game is called Elefanten. But my kids call it Fluff a Lump. And based on how crappy it's made, I call it Ele-Fuck-Em.

I know this is vulgar. My New Year's resolution is not to curse. I have a BS in English, for fxx's sake. But I'm also fed up with the BS of these toys that charge us out the wazoo and don't work.

Lucky for me, not even the toy industry can get me down. Why? Because here's my 2008 attitude: Be happy for what I have, not what I don't.

And so, while I don't have a husband who buys me diamond earrings for Christmas, he's the master of toy building and all things electronic. Who got to go to church - alone - this morning while Star Trek Captain Rex ruled the savage alien toddlers? Me.
And then, just to be a comlete geek and hero, he saves the day again. Check out the photo: the fan in the Fuck-E-Lump didn't blow the cheap pieces of ca-ca butterflies out the shoot fast enough for the ADD video game move move it move it faster faaaaster FAAAAAAAASTER generation known as our children. So what does he do? Take it to the garage, open it up, re-wire a few parts, add a charger that plugs into the wall (as opposed to batteries that die) and Voila! What we have, my friends, is one ninja-fighting-butterfly-blowing-windtunnel of an elephant.

If only I could find the positive side to my triple layer mama belly. Winter warmth? I'm still working on that one....
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Having a Ball

The other day Stink was getting dressed. He was in such a hurry, he forgot his underware.

Me: "Are you going to put on your underpants, or are you going to free ball it?"

Him: (Pause) "Freeballing? Is that going naked in Spanish?"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grandma Got Run Over by a Fruitcake


Okay, not really. But my mom really loves fruitcake. Personally, I'd rather be run over by a reindeer than eat one, but to each her own.

Did you all have a nice holiday? I did. I really really did. From Xmas eve at our house with Rex's family to dinner at my moms the next day, it was awesome. A lot of work, but awesome. Rex and I discovered that we really like cooking together. Translation: I buy the stuff and he hovers over the stove like a chicken over her eggs while I crack jokes and follow directions, but it works.

A quick nod to my mom. What I love about her place on the holidays is how comfortable it is. It doesn't matter if you're wearing your pajamas (Stink), a pink heart tee shirt with faded pants (outfit a la Papa - he tried), or Jesus shoes paired with jeans and a beer sweat shirt (that would be my fashion nightmare hubster again.)

Everyone brings food, everyone cleans up, and everyone eats too much, tells too many dumb jokes, drinks too much and makes a lot of noise. There's the inevitable talk of religion, politics and who died that year. There's the inevitable talk of movies, family drama and who was born that year. Old friends are staples, new friends are welcomed, and the family dog is always ready for a hand out. (Though not so much this year, for in addition to new friends came a new dog, courtesy of my cousin. This black purse-sized lap puppy runs a close race with my kids for being my mother's favorite, so I'm keeping a watchful eye.)

One of the highlites of the evening was clearing off the kids' table, only to have it replaced with a Dora the Explorer themed Candy Land. It was like watching old gangsters bet for dough - the competition was thick. There were tears of loss, shouts of joy, attempts at cheating and toddler cursing. "Oh, maaaaaan!" (Moms of Swiper the Fox fans will get that quote. People who don't, count your blessings.)

My family is far from perfect, but I always feel love when I'm there. I'll miss the house when it sells, but the memories and traditions for my own home will always remain. It's there, in that rambling ranch, that I learned about the importance of community, being together, being myself, story telling and food. Above all, the food.

What are some of the things or places you enjoyed this year?

* Photo of Pip, Stink and their two cousins who live a mile from us. They range in age from 3, 4, 5 and 6. Let's just say that it gets a bit wild when the sugar sets in, but it's worth it. I hope they have great memories of Christmas Day gaming, hiding under the adult table, and the time the toilet overflowed in the back hallway bathroom. (If you didn't know about that, Mom, you do now. Wooops.)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Oh Christmas Three, Oh Christmas Three...


It's true what they say. It comes in threes, such as:

1. Death. Bless the Soul of my Aunt Joan, my cousin's Aunt Edie, and Dan Folkelberg. I'm not saying they all have to be related to us, just saying it happens. And seriously, this is selfish, because all of them mean something to someone, but Aunt Joan is the one I miss. Another post is warranted for sure on this great lady who never failed to send me a birthday card with five dollars, a hand painted portrait or a just a funny story about the time she peed like a race horse on the highway during her trip across country. She was 80 at the time. My cousins took photos of the damage on the desert sand. We're all real classy that way.

2. Wisemen. I have to say, though, if I'd have just given birth in a barn, and three men came in with with more jewlery on than me, I'd be pretty darn mad. And how much you want to make a bet that if that happened today, Joseph would drag at least one of the men into the home office to check out the new DSL cable?

3. Days before Christmas. THREE DAYS.

How are you all doing on that? I was doing pretty well until today, 'round 11:15. My father-in-law came by unnannounced with a gift for my husband. And I'm glad he did. He's welcome anytime. But let's just say there were pots in the living room where Rex and I were figuring out our traditional Italian Christmas soup, laundry on the stairs, cars all over the tv room and dishes in, on and around the sink. I started to scurry to tidy the magazines while he used the bathroom (which I can't promise fared much better than the kitchen) and my husband just looked at me, with two words, "Why bother?" He was right. I sat back in defeat and alternated between sipping cold coffee, reading Clifford the Firetruck Dog to Stink, and watching Pip "Stop! Drop! & Roll!" like a drunk on a bender.

Then I had to get the back lawn toys up for my husband to mow. Because it's Saturday. And he mows. Every Saturday. And I have to do my part to keep our lawns looking like Dublin Ireland. It's a nice fake-out for when people come into the house and it looks like the inside of a tent city.

After FIL left, I did the laundry and decided that the load of ironing that was supposed to be done for Christmas Eve would last a few days more. Matching plaid pajamas instead for the kids? It's not their finest fare, but it's pretty darn cute, so be it!

In trying to get out the door to pick up my Christmas cards at Costco, Stink insisted on walking right into the sprinklers. So now I'm facing a potentially sick kid AND late Christmas cards. Joy to the World!

The only thing Rex wanted was the ingredients for his soup. While dragging two children around traffic more crazy than the media about Jamie Lynn Spear's pregancy (Poor girl - leave her alone!) I did the dry clean run, the warehouse shopping, the card pick-up and the groceries for the rest of the week. The ingredients for the soup? Not so much.

I was going to get Scooby wrapping paper for Stink and Strawberry Shortcake for Pip. I had grand visions of wrapping them with vintage ribbons in front of my fire, glass of wine in my hand, dog at my feet. I don't have a dog, but it didn't stop me from dreaming. Instead, I wrapped their gifts while the kids bathed a few feet away. I used the Same. Paper. I. Use. Every. Year. Snowflakes for Pip, the reverse side of a winter wonderland for Stink. (I'm hoping most of you readers know that Santa doesn't exist. If not, I give you Reality for 500! My gift to you this year!)

It's 7:15. I'm off to the store now for soup base. Am I stressed? Not really. I've had a super holiday this year. I wish I'd done a bit more baking. I wish I had my family photos up, or a family video done. I really wish I understood my husband's love for this game he's playing beside me, "Command & Conquer." But... I have food on my table, people in my home in lieu of new photos, a husband that's cooking the Christmas Eve feast and a life's motto of Comand and Conquer, so it's not so shabby.

We are lucky to have so much. As always, thanks for the gift of you, lovely readers!

* Taken a few days ago. Why am I the only one ecstatic to be with my kids? If this is how they feel now, what's it going to be like when they're teenagers? Scowls of death? Hooded masks? Rotten kids.
PSS: I'm hoping next year to replace the 1980's coffee stained mini-blinds with those tissue style folded doo-hickeys that look like roman shades. You know what I'm talking about? Good. Otherwise, I'll be the one scowling next year.
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Friday, December 21, 2007

You Don't Bring Me Flour....


Lest you all think I walk around all day in a perfectly clean home smelling of cinnamon (see prior post), let me let you in on a little reality: In order to spend 15 minutes alone - that's 8 minutes snapping photos and 7 uploading them to my server (less time than it took to conceive these little stinkers) my children turned my kitchen into a made for cable tv movie, When Sugar Cookies Attack.

Under normal circumstances, I'd make them clean it up themselves.

In this case, the destruction was so vast, and so spread out, I knew that their "help" would only spread the calamity further. Like the Plague, or Paris Hilton's jail sentence, isolation was truly the best option.

And so, as much as I'd love cutesy wootsy little flour footprints all over my newly scrubbed wood floors, I opted to have them wash their hands and plop down on the couch.

My husband's only comment when he walked into the kitchen? "Making cookies?"

Oh, yeah. He's a smart one, that Rex.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Mama P, On Tour in Your Town











































Hello all -
Susie Q of Rabbit Run Cottage has the absolute loveliest post in the universe where she opens up her home to us for a virtual cup of Christmas cheer. It's from December 16 and can be found here, along with a fabulous soundtrack of vintage and modern tunes to warm the heart.

Gretchen of Good Enough for Now does a fabulous job here. In it you can find a link to BooMama's site who inspired the craze. I haven't read Boo myself, but I hear she is incredibly talented.
And so, with very little sarcasm (that will come tomorrow, I'm certain) I give you my home.

The new additions?
The little cork board squares I found at Office Depot. I put them on my front door as reminders for busy weeks. What life savers they are.

The Advent box in the dining room courtesy of Costco.

The hint of welcome mat at the front door. It's shiny and welcoming. The other one was more wrinkled than Robert Redford.
The plants behind the log pile. Rex planted those in spring. I thought they'd be nasty, as I pictured a cape cod type look with an anchor and rope fence. But I shut my mouth and am glad I did. (Just as he took my word on the chocolate brown bathroom paint and red door - he likes it now. He's the outdoors man, I'm in the inside gal.)
The pinecone on the front hall table decorated by Pip. Stink has one somewhere around here also.
The computerized frame from Rex from Mother's Day. I LOOOOVE it. Have you all seen those?
The old?
My mom's Spode on loan for Christmas Eve (The bitch wants it back. Wink wink.)
The tree is from Stella's friend in her community replete with vintage ornaments.

The Grinch comes via my mother from a few years back where I almost got kicked out of a play area for a mommy brawl.
The rocking horse on the table is right out of my childhood. His head comes off all the time, but I love him so much.
The wreath is from my childhood also.

The tablecloth is from my childhood. (Are you sensing a theme here? Um... I'll have to get a few new items this year with Cecelia. But I do love me some vintage, so I don't care.)

The wood is from my husband. (The wood pile, you pervs!) He keeps us warm in winter. He keeps himself warm by hogging that green chair from my apartment days. Wow, that was a big purchase from Macy's back in the day. The pillow courtesy of Salvation Army. Note to self: Get the chair steam cleaned! Good God, what is that stain from? (Oh, no, it's not that.)

The bathroom I painted myself (thank you very much.) Rex did the woodwork and painted it. The medicine cabinet is from Target. I might have flirted with the cashier at Salvation Army and scored the rose handmade needle print picture (notice the double mat and real wood frame) along with ten shirts and a little gift for a friend, for under 20 bucks. Merry Christmas to me!

One year, I'll have a present under the tree for each of you. Until then, Happy Holidays from the bottom of my heart.
PS: Sorry about the wonky spacing. For some reason Blogger is going nuts. No matter how much I put in spaces, it sucks everything into one big paragraph. Ah, well. Like Santa, you'll just have to believe...I tried.

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Weaving the Infusiloom



My daughter has this curly hair that knots and ties more than a Boy Scout on a fishing trip. I try to be gentle, but before the brush even hits her head, she screams like Tom Cruise at a Scientology convention.

My husband, on the other hand, has this brilliant ability to take the "Papa brush" and smoothe out the ringlets. She smiles and coos and winks at herself in the mirror like the little narcissist that she is.

I'd like to give Rex props - that he's just an amazing father who has that special touch with his little firecracker. But unfortunately, the sad truth is that, after so many years of watching Star Trek, the Borg has finally entered his I.T. spine. While touching my little howler, he is somehow transferring his alien voo-doo, rendering my traditional hell-cat into a helpless little kitten. Poor Rex might be off duty a few months as he's forced into the decontamination chamber for a virus update.

I'll keep you posted.


Friday, December 07, 2007

Who Laid the Yule Log?


Sorry, Mom, but that's a funny title.


This might be the season of love, etc., but there's a lot of craziness in the air. Holidays bring out the best, but also the worst, in people. I might have sent out a few crazed vibes myself this week so it's time to take a chill. I'm not sure what that means, but it better involve my butt in a pair of sweats and some tennis shoes. I'm thinking this coffee and sugar deal, combined with hours in front of my computer, with dishes in the sink and no plans for the day kind of equals disaster.


And so, I present to you my goals for this weekend to get my act into tip top shape.


....

......

.........

..............


I got nothing.


* Photo taken of Pipsqueak this afternoon. It's sugar Friday, which means we eat a few items we don't normally indulge in. Today it was chips. Given my bugger fell asleep with her hand lodged in the package, I'm thinking it was a success.
Note to self: vacuum car.
Note to self again: forgive yourself for not doing it because, come on, you know you won't.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Red red whine....

So yesterday wasn't the greatest day on the planet, but I survived. And in celebration, I'm taking the kids out of school today. We're going to Disneyland! Yep, sippy cups with organic milk for them, sippy cups with red wine for my best friend and me. Ooooh, the magic of the season.

Hey, if you need some good writing and some dance-a-licious tunes, I present to you, the fabulous: Valerie

And now, I'm off to wear mouse ears and act silly. "And what makes this different from any other day?" Oh, just shut up.

And Mom, thanks for everything. Much much better today.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Snark The Herald, Angels Bling Bling...


I've read alot in the past few days about holiday guilt. Seems like a lot of women feel like they're doing it wrong every year. They are not good with cooking, or they don't have their decorations up yet, or they don't have the energy to go to a party, and on and on and on...

I wonder why we're like this? Is it all the ads that come in our mailbox? Most of us are the first to say "I know that's just a fantasy life," but has the media industry still warped us into thinking that anything less than perfection is a failure?

I ask you all this: Who said we had to do anything? I, for one, LOVE this season. I have my decorations up now. But I didn't do it to prove a point or compete with what anyone else is or is not doing. I did it for me. Until this year, I'd always wait until Dec. 20ish to get it together. For once, I wanted it up for a month so I could enjoy it. And the kids had a blast downloading the tree. (Is downloading the correct term for clusters of ornaments at the bottom rather than the top? Too much time with my comp hubby, I think.)

I wonder if neighbors, peering into my window on their nightly walks, will regard me as "one of those women". You know, the kind who care too much about the lights, or the presentation. The kind that lives for cooking the Christmas Eve turkey and hand wrapping the gifts for guests that I'm naive enough to think wouldn't want to be anywhere else but with me.

I question this, because I've been on the other side of my window, not just at Christmas, but many times in life. Um... many, many times. I've peered into others' existences and wondered how they "got it together". I mean, I wasn't exactly the kid at school being voted for prom queen. Hell, I was lucky I even went to prom. But I remember looking at the prom queen, thinking how lucky she was to be selected to be princess for a day. Slow dancing with some handsome jock, I marveled at her fortune to have it so together. But, did she really? Or, like my decorations, was it just a fancy light show? Did she, like the rest of us, have broken ornaments on the inside that needed repair?

I've made a commitment to myself on two levels:

1. Be the best person I care to be (not can be, but care to be) and not for a second defend my life to anyone anymore. If I have a cute husband and a nice home and a kick ass job, yeah for me! I deserve it. And everyone else deserves their fortune also. (Lord knows I'll be honest about the downside of all the good - one bitch fest blog post soon coming to an in-box near you!)

2. I will no longer give anyone else the power to make me feel like I'm somehow not doing enough. Because just being me is enough. In whatever capacity that is. And no one is making me feel anything. It's me making me feel what I think someone else feels. (Did I really say that?)

And 3... Yes, there's a 3... I always write too much... I want to help those along the way in any way I can. But if someone makes me feel bad about my choices, well, they can help themselves. I'm not interested. And that's okay, too. I'm Christian, but I can't please the world.

Wow... all that and my egg nog wasn't even spiked.






Saturday, December 01, 2007

And A Happy New Sneer...




So those Xmas photos? Um, yeah... we're still working on 'em.

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Cannot Tell A Lie


It wasn't one of Stink's better behavior days. For the second time in 72 hours, he fibbed. Nothing major, but you know what? It pisses me off. I mean, the whole point about not spanking this child is because studies after studies show that kids who are spanked tend to lie more to get out of being punished. Serves me right for going soft.


HOWEVER... I'm holding my ground on my anti-spank stand. (And thank you all for your thoughts on spanking. I appreciated them all.) But what about lying? I hear that fibbing is common in 5 year olds. Is this true? What are your experiences? And how did you handle it?


As for how I handled it, it was straight to his room where he got to write out the word "LIE" 50 times, front and back. Took him about an hour, but boy did he practice those writing skills. When I asked him how it felt, he responded, "I am sooooo tired. My hand is not happy. I need a hug." And that, my friends, was the truth.


Little brat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Can't Believe It's Not Fabio! ... Wait, it IS FABIO!!!!





So ya'll know that I saw Matt LeBlanc at the grocery store yesterday.



Then, last night, I'm at dinner with Rex at Benihana's (this group seating style resaturant where the chef prepares the food at your table) and who walks in but the Italian king of romance novel covers himself... Fabio.


Unlike Matt LeBlanc who wore dark glasses, kept to himself, and had a 5:00 shadow, Fabio enters with a bright purple shirt with buttons open to the chest. His long hair was flowing and his muscles were bulging. He came with an entourage of folk, including a Naomi Campell-esque date who spent the evening nuzzling his shoulder and chatting up a mafia type man on their right. All that was missing from Fabio's sushi restaurant entrance was, "I can't believe it's not cooked tuna!"

Only in L.A..

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friends


Today I was shopping at Whole Foods with Mrs. V. As we scanned the bakery section looking for sugar free syrup, she whispered quite excitedly, "Look over there! It's Joey Triviani!"


Who was she talking about? One look made it all clear. There was Friend's most eligible bachelor, checking out the labels like the rest of us.


Oh my God! Like, he actually shops by himself? Where were the paparazzi! Where were the autograph seekers?


He wore dark glasses, so I couldn't tell if he was in a good mood or not. He was alone, so unlike myself, he couldn't chat up his Thanksgiving holiday, what to buy a mother-in-law for Christmas, the benefits of receiving flowers at the door from good friends, the taste of Gorilla Munch cereal, the differences between raw sugar and agave, coveted holiday shopping with husbands who took the day off (not mine), the outrageous price of yeast free bread (thankfully Mrs. V found me a box for $3.99 that you bake in a conventional pan as opposed to a bread maker - I'm willing to try it) school mom drama or the decisions to buy, or not to buy, our siblings Christmas gifts.


I'm thinking he could not have had as much fun as me. The celebrity life: it's so over-rated.
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Funky Brewster to the Rescue!


Many of you know I've been bitching for 3 years about not working. So God bless you for celebrating my big windfall last month when I landed not one, but two blog gigs for national websites.
In the name of all things Diet and Cokey (um, I'm back on the juice, man) the stars were aligned, Mama P is getting some income, and neither my husband (nor you) have to hear the words, "If I don't get my brain thinking about something else besides gluten free pancake glue I'm going to go crazier than that time Anne Heche ditched Ellen and started psycho babbling at some rural home in Fresno.")


My point: I'm beyond elated for work and some income, but...

I LOVE EBAY.

Almost more than my husband and Eric Bana. (Oh, I love all your choices in men from yesterday's post. I especially appreciated the Hugh Grant and Russell Crowe picks.)

At least once/week you can find me doing retail therapy at either Out of the Closet, Salvation Army, Good Will, or even the 99 Cent Store in a pinch. I pride myself on my kids' funky clothes - designer, yet practical. A rainbow striped Mork from Ork styled pair of tights for Pip? Will she love them? For 45 cents, I'll take the chance. (But if they were 85 cents, forget it. I'm not made of money, you know.)

Take the ski pants above. "I'll take vintage 1980's for 800 please!" I mean, check out the legs. Punky Brewster would be hard pressed to find anything more Valley Girl. The good news? They cost me a whopping $1.35. The bad news? I bought them when Pip was 1. They are a size 5. They have been sitting in my closet for 3 years - closets so small that the Ashley twins might not be able to store their clothes there. Not even during their anorexic stage.

I live in L.A.. Except for all my tv meetings of days gone by, or Lindsay Lohan's coke habits, there's not many snow jobs in my town.

After flipping a few other dollar ski suits for $10.00, I decided to check out Pip's. Size 110? What the heck is that? One Google hit and Ebay search later, I found that it's European sizing. And the brand name? Pure 1980's Austrian designer.
So, practical mama that I am, I swapped this suit for another non-brand name suit (You know... in case we make it to the mountains this year... and I give up Diet Coke for good and learn Mandarin Chinese.) And my fortune? It's up to $27 bucks baby! With 10 watchers!

Who wants to guess the final score? I say $47.42. The one who gets closest, without going over, gets an official medium sized "Desperate Housewives" crew tee shirt. I got it for $1.99, but it's worth about $19.99 on Ebay. I'm a saint for giving it up. (If any of you with blogs entitled "Good Enough for Now" think, "Oh, a sized medium would never fit" you must bid anyway. Because it will fit. Very very tightly in all the right places. I'm thinking some housewife won't be desperate that night. Wink wink, nudge nudge.)

PS: Liv, I threw out the plastic, sage burning, piece of ca-ca tiger you won. I figured with your new digs, you didn't need the new clutter. (AKA: I never got around to mailing it. But I PROMISE something else is coming your way. It is!)


The real point of this post: Can a real living replace my passion for thrifting and the thrill of Ebay? Stay tuned to find out. And, like big brother, I'll be watching you, too.

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Stuff It


Did ya'll eat too much, drink too much and tell lots of sordid stories over frozen pumpkin pie? If ya didn't, then you weren't celebrating with me. At least not today. Yesterday it was a super yummy meal at the in-laws. Today, it was leftovers at my house. And by leftovers, I mean my side of the family brought over their left overs from Thursday's dinner and we all repeated the process again. Only this time it was done to....

Christmas lights!

Yes, I have decorated my house already and we were awash in twinkly lights, candles and a faux fireplace DVD. It was disgustingly cozy. And just a little unorganized. Um... family came at 4. At 3:45 I made the mad dash to the grocery store for some appetizers. Apparently just because you're having a pot luck does not mean you should have nothing to serve people. Etiquette 101. Lucky for me, my cousin in law was great company as we chatted our way through frozen foods, debating on chicken vs. pizza for a "main course".

I will post photos tomorrow. Tonight, I'm just happy to have been with the people I love for two days straight. It doesn't get much better than that.

Well, maybe Eric Bana would want to have a brief affair with me, but other than that.

Speaking of stars, who would you love a quickie with? Or am I the only bad mother/wife who will admit that I'd like nothing better than a torrid affair with Hector!!!!!!!!!!! Have you all seen Troy? If you say yes and you say Brad Pitt was more do-able than Eric Bana, I just might scratch your eyes right out. Or drop you from my blog list.

So who does it for you? (Okay, Susie Q, I know you'd stick your husband under a bus for Brian Dennehy.) But other than that wacky Rabbit Run cottage woman - who makes your heart sing more than a Rudolph marathon?
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roots and Wings




"We can bequeath our children only two things of lasting value: One of them is roots. The other, wings." Hodding Carter.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. You have blessed me more than you know.
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

North South East West... In All the World This Desk is Best

I'm sitting in an internet cafe with a $4.00 cappucino in a porcelain mug. Jazz music pipes through JBL speakers - speakers that are carefully situated behind shabby chic book shelves and antique coffee pots. The cashier has blue stripes in her hair, the bus boys are dating, and there's ads for closet rearrangers and dog walkers on frames bought from an art sale in Tuscany. The internet is fast. I have hours on end to write. I can take breaks here and there to read up on politics, art and the best farmers markets in the Valley. I'm doing all this...

... in my head.

In reality, I'm sitting in Grandma stella's mobile home spare bedroom. She's giving Stink a lesson on turkey manners to be executed on Thursday at the in-laws. While I type, Pip periodically pops in with de-shelled peanuts, serving them to me in a plastic Baja Fresh pico de gallo cup. "Don't throw it away," she implores me. "I wouldn't dream of it," I reassure her.

I love being here, listening to my little voices in the next room. As I stare at her desk, I'm immediately reminded of my father who is now gone. His office looked just like this: with the old desk lamp that sways and bends like a goose. The 1980's brown phone with the soft ear piece added on with sticky glue. There's a calender from the local bank on the wall. A family photograph sits (with her son's head spliced in since "he wasn't actually there") on the faux wood paneling. There's a piece of tape over her light switch to remind her that, with the lights going off, so does the computer. An old rolodex sits to the left full of names that probably no longer live anymore.

I love this desk. I loved my dad's desk. The staplers were solid and felt good in my hands. The pens (often pilfered from doctor's offices) had hours of stories and poems in them. Stella's desk has character. Like my favorite people, everything you see is what you get. Not like today, where everything is hidden behind a flat screen monitor. Contacts are stored in address books on files. And godforbid someone else wants to find one. You need the password and code name just to get the number for the neighbor. Stella doesn't need her neighbor's number. She just walks out front and taps on their door.

I know I'm idealistic to think of life in the old days. They had their problems, too. The relics from thrift stores I assign meaning to were probably tossed for a reason: bad reminders of a decade that left a scar. But for me, it's simplicity. And a time when people lounged around. Where formality wasn't more important than sincerity. Where you could fight and stick your foot in your mouth and still be friends the next day because you were going to live in the same apartment for the rest of your life, so just suck it up and move on.

What do you think? Do you romanticize the past or look toward the future? I mean, if we didn't have technology, where would bloggers be? Oh, I'd never know you! Can we find a combo of both?

Happy weekend. I hope you spend it doing what you love, with who you love.

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Holding up under fire & Veterans Day


Thank you to everyone who responded supportively over the spanking incident of 2007. I appreciate that you didn't call me a monster and have admitted to either saying you'd never spank but did it anyway, or acknowledging without regret that it's a discipline method you choose. It has helped me tremendously to feel better over losing my cool. I suppose, despite my perfectionistic tendencies, I'm a human after all. Cue '80s music.


I also forgot to acknowledge the amazing men and women who have fought to protect me from harm. Their service to our country allow me to tuck my children in bed each night (some nights are less chaotic than others) and worry over the big, the small and the insignificant matters of my life.
One Tall Momma gives a wonderful tribute to her Uncle Ben about three posts down in the link. Check it out.


In closing, can I just say how grateful I am to live in a land where I can be who I am meant to be? Where my kids can be who they're meant to be? The freedom factor, like Spiderman's powers, does not come "without great responsibility". It's perhaps why I work so hard to be the best person I can be. I have that option when so many don't. I owe it to myself - to those who put their life on the line for me - to live up to that freedom. How fortunate that with freedom comes such great room for joy and exhuberance. Where else in America can my son, with his Jewish background and Catholic upbringing, stand in front of our Japanese imported wide screen tv and celebrate Kwanza dancing with a furry red puppet?
Life is good. Thank you all for being there to celebrate it with me.
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brand Spanking New Goal


The other day I spanked my kid. I'm not proud of it, but I did it. I was exhausted physically and just lashed out. Nothing life alterating - one quick pat - but emotionally it sucked. For both of us.

I wrote about it at my Babycenter blog. Thank you Maggie, for commenting so soon. I'm bracing for the backlash from moms who not only never spank their kids, but cook everything from scratch and never let them watch tv. How do they do it?
My mother would kill me. Not about the spanking, but about talking about it. Hailing from Boston and, in being in her 70's, she's of the conservative ilk that, "Some things are just private!" But here's the deal. I know I'm not a child abuser. I just lost my cool. And if it can happen to me, I'll bet O.J.'s soon-to-be-guilt-free trial that it's happened to most of you. If you say you've never done it, I don't believe you. But if you really haven't done it, please go to my Babycenter post and let me know how.

Anyway, despite hardly ever spanking my kids, I've instituted a no-spanking policy. It's too easy to lash out in anger. I never want to have to worry about crossing the line. So it's about more scheduled breaks for me. More time with my husband, like Sunday night, when just the two of us sat at dinner together and chilled out. In fact, we did that on Saturday night, too. Which leads me back again to the point of sometimes, no matter what kind of support we get, we still lose it.
I don't ever want to be pushed to that emotional frustration again. Stink is only 4, for Godsake. What will I do if he knocks up a girl at 15? Throw them in the river? Time to get a handle on my emotions and take the advice I throw to the kids, "Control my body. Control my language!"

In closing, I want to give a shout out to Rex. Someone at a party on Saturday night asked me where Rex was. I was honest. He was home taking it easy. I used to feel bad about that... take in everyone's pitied looks (and sometimes comments) of "ooh, that must be so hard." You know what? It used to be. But it's not now. I love that I'm confident enough that I can do stuff without my husband and come home to a lovely, warm environment. I'm social and he's a homebody. It's that simple. And guess what? He's not losing it emotionally on the kids. He's not screaming and yelling. He knows his limits, and in knowing them, he is the most accessible for me for when I need it most: at home, during the quiet hours after dinner and pre-bed, when the kids want stories and loving Papa to wrap their arms around them. Thanks, Rex, you grumpy old man.
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Stop the Presses!


I am so glad I am not allowing my children to play with guns, watch violence on tv, talk about hate or use the word kill. Just look at how peacefully they play?


On the note of having your limbs torn apart, I was asked to send in a photo for a new gig I'm starting soon. I feel like I should be hush hush about this job since I don't want to jinx it.

But I'm not good at secrets.

So I'll tell you. It's a column for Good Housekeeping! A blog to be exact, but it's premiering in the magazine in January. But to really not jinx it, I won't tell you the theme.

Okay, you twisted my arm. It's on Sex and Marriage. Rex is beyond thrilled. But probably not as thrilled as his family will be who tend to be more on the private side. As in tasteful. As in properly proper. Opposed to their brother's/son's/grandson's wife who puts everything out for the world on display. Kind of like a salami hanging in a deli window. (It's references to salami that got me this blog, so let's not knock the simili, shall we?)

So back to the bio. They wanted a photo. I turned in what I thought was a pretty decent pic. My writing partner from my tv days - forever the diplomat - had this to say:

Andrea:

I fixed your picture as best I could. I suggest you use another one for publicity. This one does not do you justice. The lighting is horrific. The color of your sweater makes the rest of you look pasty. You need better make up. Pencil in your eyebrows. Use more mascara. Get rid of the wrinkles. Use better and more lipstick and have someone pose you. Otherwise I loved the picture.

I could get mad, but I laughed. I mean, if a good friend can't tell you the truth, who can?

So, $200.00 later from a paycheck I have yet to receive, I have a lovely new set of makeup. Wednesday I'm off to the Picture People for a portrait. Friday I'm getting my red-hair re-installed - at my old salon no less - as a celebration of my old funk. I'll be broke, but cute once again.

Happy Monday! What are you all doing nice for yourselves this week? Are you having lots of sex? Do tell. It's not like you'd end up in a national magazine or anything. Ahemmmm.......
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Get a Peace of This!


Life has felt deliriously happy lately. Like the carnival wheel pictured, it's been dizzying with its round and round of kid needs, shopping, laundry, cooking, driving, but I'm never so happy as when the lights and whistles are blaring in full force. Add in some giggles - a little organ music - and you've got one happy Mama P. (Add in some kettle corn and I'd pass out in comatosed nirvana.)

However...

Always a however... I am going to prevent a crash and burn situation by removing myself from the computer this weekend. A spinning wheel can be very exciting, but let the circle spiral too long and someone's gonna upchuck.

And it ain't going to me, because frankly, I have a clean home and car for once.

So until Monday, I'm off to enjoy some silence. Well, with kids, there's never silence. And this time manana my car and home will be more messed up than a hotel room after prom. But I'll take the chance. Because let's face it, my kids won't be swayed by a 3.00 carnival ride in a few years. I have to enjoy their innocent exhuberance while I can.
But hey, while I'm taking a break, if someone out there in cyberspace wants to invent a toddler straw for me to suck it all up I'd be forever grateful.

In closing, if any of you out there aren't feeling so good, let me remind you that for every down, there's an up. It is going to get better. Platitude, schmatitude... it's true what they say: That sometimes the stress helps us appreciate the peace. And sure, the ride down a mountain is easy, but the hike up is a bitch. I've been there. Better stated, I've been that bitch. But it's worth it.

And again, thank you to everyone who is so kind to read me like you do. It means more to me than I can express.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Witch Way to the Sugar????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!











We survived Halloween! Three families joined us for a spooktacular time. Lots of noise, lots of laughter, and very little insanity of the fatal kind.

I'm once again amazed that if I'd planned a menu, or had a huge agenda, it wouldn't have flowed as nicely.
Taking a cue from my kids' preschool, I made last minute string cheese spiders. I threw together a gluten-free graveyard, replete with R.I.P. in organic ketchup. See the green stuff? That's not brocalli. It's haunted trees! They were cut down by a mad cemetary janitor. My kids even managed a nap before the festivities arrived. (Who needs Jessica Seinfeld's cookbook when you've got Mama P OCD brain. Though I hear, despite wanting to be snarky, that it's a great read.)

Today was marked with lots of whining for candy. Stink: "Mommy, I ate 2 bites of brocalli. So can I have the Skittles NOOOOOW?" Me: "You haven't eaten your greens yet." Stink: (seperating them by color, pointing to the green pile): "How about I eat these?"

Part of my kids' elation is that they don't eat sugar at all anymore. Halloween for them is like an alcoholic, ten years sober, falling off the wagon at Bev Mo.

Mama P, sugar guidance counselor extraordinaire, is trying to be understanding. I'm letting them have their day in the sun. (Literally, the sun. They are hiiiiigh, man.) But tomorrow it goes away. I fully expect shaking, sweating and the cursing of, "You don't know what it's like to live without the white stuff, dude!" But a few days later, when they're clear eyed and bushy tailed, I know they'll appreciate me.

Or when they're 18 and can navigate their way through a salad bar at the university cafeteria.
If they even have cafeterias at college in 15 years and they're not ingesting everything through capsules.
But will they make gluten-free capsules?
And what if the kids don't go to college? That will be fine, as long as they're happy. But how will they get enough money to pay for their organic food packets without a degree? Because they're certainly not going to eat the day away under myyyyyy roof.

All done now.

Um, wait. A quick joke for the 4th grader living inside of you. Why can't female witches get knocked up? Because male witches have hollow weenies! (I say 4th grade because, like the gluten-free food capsules, society is getting so advanced. Perhaps I'll start writing a Birds and Bees book for the toddler crowd. It could be my ticket to millions!!!!!!!! Which the kids still won't get their hands on if they're living under my roof in 15 years instead of going to college.)
Ahemmmmmmm.
REALLY.
DONE.
NOW.




Sunday, October 28, 2007

Carving Out My Style


Tonight was pumpkin carving night. My sister dropped by with her two children. 4 mini pizzas... two crappy carving sets... more seeds than you can shake a scarecrow at... stringy gourd insides resembling my brain after a long week of Rex on and business... and 4 lumpy painted pumpkins later.... it was a great evening.

A dear friend of mine stopped by with her baby. I really like her, because we're different in a lot of ways. Sure, our morals and actions are similar, but she has often a contradictory approach to how I do things. She's much less wishy washy. If we were breakfast foods, I'd be a waffle. With syrup. Maybe. Or maybe powdered sugar. Or perhaps a decaf coffee only because I'm giving up on caffeine, even though I know I'll cave a week later. She would order "The eggs. Over easy. That's it."
Her defining style makes me grow. And think. Like Glinda "with a Ga" says to her friend, the green wicked witch, "My world is better because of you." Or something like that. I was too busy crying during that song to remember the exact words. And tonight I'm too exhaused from scraping pumpkin vomit off my ceiling to bother You Tubing the lyrics from Wicked.

My friend and I landed on the subject of parenting. She made a very interesting point about my woes as of late. (See previous post.) In a nutshell, she deducted that there's two kinds of parents that approach play areas: The type that are a bit protective (such as herself) and the type like me (who are more of a 'let the kid figure it out himself unless danger is imminent' type.)
It now makes sense to me. No style is better than the other, but it's going to cause conflict. Always. If I can't deal with the repurcussions of such conflict, I really need to stay away from those environments.

I know it sounds simple, and my apologies for A) The obvious and B) The parenting slant of this post. But I'm just happy to have heard it said. My poor friend puts up with a lot of questioning from me. Sometimes I don't say things graciously. But in the end, I always see her point of view. If she's reading, I hope she knows that.

In closing, I realize I'm a perfectionist, and this is where most of my issues come from. Not "this mom said that" or "this one acted like that..." But I'm prone to, without even being conscious of it always, "Why can't I just make everything perfect so there's never any conflict. Why can't my kid be that way, also?"

Of course, looking at my pumpkin carving, or how I cook, you'd never guess there's a perfectionist the size of Mt. Rushmore living in my soul.

I give off too nutty of a vibe. I'm brilliant that way.

In closing, I'm once again tired of myself. If you're interested in my opinion on the state of parenting, or how Diet Coke makes me fart enough to start a hybrid car, check out my journal on Babycenter.com. Otherwise, I am using November to write about things I'm grateful for. Can I start with good friends that put up with my stupid blabber mouth, where I can sometimes sound insulting, but really am just trying to navigate my way through this messy world of raising souls - trying not to permanently mess them up? You're all included in the compliment.

Good night!
More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Go San Diego Go Diego....

Any of you with toddlers will get my little song reference. Any of you without toddlers can live in peace without this OCD inducing theme song rattling your brain like a bad virus.

We're back from San Diego after cutting our week long vacation down to two days. Nothing was open the first day we were there, but we were able to go to the beach and see some family. That was nice. We hit Sea World the second day. No one was there, so Stink enjoyed a few rides with Papa. Pip wasn't big enough, so I took advantage of her sugar free brother being gone by plying her with over priced icecream.

Not a very eventful trip, but pleasant. It's so rare for Rex and I to just be together. We're your classic couple that divides labor to get the jobs done: He is at work and then does all the gardening. I'm at home with the kids and take care of the inside of the house. To be a team for two days straight where our only focus was our family was divine - a reminder to do that more often.

I'm kinda pooped. It was a lot of driving for two days, and a bit less relaxing than I'd hoped. No lounging at the pool - which was closed. No hanging out with college friends - who were housing evacuees. But the people we did see were fantastic. And again, the people I live with, but sometimes don't see, reminded me again why we're a family.

As I type this now, Rex is mowing the lawn. The kids are having squirt gun wars in the bathroom since some tree trimmers have taken over their battle ground outside. I'm preparing for a long week ahead of Halloween festivities, some post office runs, some work related issues, and some local family visits. But am inspired again to take time for the things that matter most.

How do you do it? How do you stay connected to the people that matter most when the world provides so much distraction?

PS: My gig at Babycenter doesn't allow me to be snarky. It's supposed to be a place where friendly neighbors stop by with advice. A "cup of sugar" for the community pie - if you will.

However, since this is my blog, I'd like to say that if the woman who yelled at Stink at Balboa Park is reading this blog, you can kiss. My. Fanny. You're probably not reading, because you're too busy finding your way out of your toddler's butt hole. But for the record, my bully was blocking the damn dinosaur because he was play acting. Can't you tell a sick prehistoric creature when you see one? You can yell at my 4 year old, but I'm thinking that it might be more beneficial to teach your kid to use her words to simply ask him to move, instead of causing World War 3 over something as stupid as your dumb photo op that your kid didn't even want to smile for. Ooooh, my son growled at you. I wish he were a real dinosaur. Then he could eat you and entitled mothers like yourself could be extinct. Now go put some money into karate. And therapy. Your non-smiling, freaked out mama's kid is going to need it.

All done.

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Premature Evacuation




I would love to say that I haven't been posting because I'm on my family vacation.




The first family vacation, um, ever.




The one we scheduled over 6 months ago.


But then the fires happened. Not only could we not go to San Diego, but some of my good friends had to leave their home in Topanga Canyon. Someone else I know had a brother who lost his house in Canyon Country.

Does it suck to lose out on a vacation? Sure. But more suckage than staying home is the suckage of those who don't have homes anymore.

We're making the best of the situation. The first couple of days Rex and I got to argue over how best to clean floors, how best to do laundry, and how best to get the kids to sleep without death threats. (Such head bumping occurs when two worlds don't normally collide. It's also what happens when a war is being lead by two generals. Who do you listen to? Fun for all!)

The bright side of this togetherness is that now we're used to each other. Butts have been sniffed, compromises made and peace offerings laid on the table. (He bought me a newspaper out of the blue. I watched a DVD of Erasure with him.) We have had quite a few laughs, and quite a few glasses of beer.
We might leave tomorrow if the fires are subdued. Wish us luck! And to all of you who have relatives or friends displaced by fire, my heart goes out to them. And as soon as I get my first Babycenter check, a donation will go to these people.

PS: Do I regret my Disneyland passes? No. But I had to laugh. I think they had as much fun playing in our neighbor's leaves yesterday as they did riding on Peter Pan.
* More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section. You can find me daily by scrolling or choose by author. Share the love and leave a comment! Or avoid me. It’s all good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mousing Around


I have always wanted to work to be a role model for my kids. To have money to set aside for their college funds. To have a rainy day nest egg. To play the stock market.

I don't want to ever rely solely on Rex for financial support.

I don't want to make emotional decisions with my cash. I don't like using credit or borrowing against money that hasn't arrived yet.

This all said, I took an advance on my first check and bought year round Disneyland passes. Because let's face it, I could get hit by a bus before I even make it to the bank. Life is meant for enjoyment, too. Besides, the kids have it so hard with preschool, organic food and a clean, warm home. Don't they deserve a little fun? A break from the mundane boredom of airconditioning and reading clean library books?

We used the passes today for the first time. Other than the fact that my passport photo endowed me with whiskers and a neck rivaling a Thanksgiving butterball, we had a fabulous time. As evidenced by the photo, Pip might have enjoyed herself a bit too much.

I wish all of you a weekend with so much joy that your loved ones find you slumped over in a padded chair. If you drool, so much the better. You're not lazy, you're passionate!
And finally (yes, truly, finally) I thank you all so much for supporting my new writing space with your lovely comments. Being the new girl in school is always a challenge. To have your kind "faces" in my unfamiliar classroom meant more than you know. Whoever makes it to town gets a dinner at Disneyland on me! (I have to make TV money to buy ya'll passes, but don't put it past me. Like Walt Disney himself, I'm dreaming big.)

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bad Morning America


I woke up at 7AM to take my sister to the airport. Mornings for me are like sunlight for bats. We would both rather hang upside down by our toes than deal with the atrocity of pre-dawn activity.

That aside, I am attempting to think positively these days. In order to do so, I find it best to first listen to the negative thoughts, then out-trump them with goodness.

Let's start with the negative thoughts on waking up early, shall we?

* Exhaustion
* Waking up sleeping toddlers (akin to sticking a needle in a sleeping tiger's eye)
* Hitting traffic
* Running out of gas on the freeway
* Filling up the tank just in time to have to use the potty, preventing an explosion worse than the recent L.A. Truck Incident (My kids didn't have to use the bathroom because, in the ten precious minutes I had between sleep and driving, I hoisted them onto the toilet. I know, send the martyr certificate in the mail.)
* Finding out that I hit the one gas station in L.A. that doesn't have a bathroom
* Having to use one at the McDonalds down the street
* Driving the rest of the way to the airport hearing my children interrogate me on why they couldn't have a Happy Meal at 7:30 am
* Talking my sister down from a panic attack that she's not going to miss the flight while I navigate side-streets like a pro. (Translation: smile like a contestant on Dancing with the Stars who has no idea what they're doing, but they're not letting anyone else know.)

Here are my positive thoughts on getting up early.
......

.............

........................

Anyone? Bueller?

More of my writing can be found on Babycenter.com. I write under the name Andrea Frazer and can be found in the Momformation Section.

Monday, October 15, 2007

C'mon Babycenter! Err... Babycenter.com


Now that my funk is over (AKA whining more than my toddlers after a day at Chuck E. Cheese) it's nothing short of ironic that I got a gig writing for Babycenter.com. I'm listed under Momformation and my first post, Whine Gets Better with Age, can be found here (I'm the third one down.)

Yes, it's true! I am one of 3 official "Behavior Bloggers". I'm not supposed to be an expert, per se. I'm more of an "observer of manners" for all things baby and toddler related. If I must say, I'm perfect for this job. Here's just a few reasons:

* I talk to at least 3 strangers/day (whether they're interested in chatting with me or not.) What was once only extraneous info from the 99 cent checker on teething infants and the fertility cycle of miniature poodles can now be shared with the universe courtesy of Mama P!

* I now have a place to go (my desk) after dropping off my kids at preschool. No more 3 hours excursions to the thrift store to spend money on the 1993 Fred Flintstone movie action figures I just had to have.

* I now get paid. Which sort of nulls my second point, because this essentially means I can go thrifting even more than I did before. Maybe there's a Barney or a Dino in my future?

If any of you want to check me out, just go to the link above. In the future, you can just go to Babycenter.com, find the COMMUNITY link at the top, use the drop down menu and select the first option of NEW BLOGS. You'll then see two links: Celebrity Babies and Momformation. I'm under Momformation. If this seems like a confusing web, it is. Then again, my head is still spinning about how I got this gig in the first place (and another... to come next month!) Let's just not question the good fortune, shall we?
I would love any comments from you just to get me rolling. Your feedback might give me a little more credibility with my editors (as well as get some people to ping back to your blogs. It's all about sharing the linky love, right?) Any following for me is helpful because at some point I'm destined to deviate from my assigned behavior themes and ramble on and on about the benefits of organics, Yuban vs. Starbucks, or the philosophical question of "To Eat Spam or Not to Eat Spam"? (Shhh... don't tell the editors just yet. It's my thrifting money at stake!)
In closing, do any of you feel passionate about any organizations that deal with children? If so, please write me separately or just note it in the comments here. I'd like to give them plugs as I get more established.
In closing, I would like to wish my husband a Happy 37th birthday today. He never reads this blog, which is why I saved this wish for final thought. I mean, it's not like I enjoy going on and on about me, right? Right?
Oh, stoooop with the eye rolls amd leave me some love at Babycenter, will ya?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

List-Less These Days


To be honest with you, I'm in a funk. Not down on my knees, get thee to a Xanax Factory funk, but a "wow my kids are in school and I have all this free time and yet I'm not doing anything that I'm super excited about and yet what do I have to complain about" kind of funk.

When I feel like this, it's time to pull out the stops. For me, it's a cornucopia of ingredients that, when all is combined in my mixing bowl of life, produces quite a nice bread loaf of contentment. Take one out, and things feel flat. Kinda like matzah. You can eat it, but the lack of rise makes ones mouth feel sort of dry. I call it giving my tounge a yeast infection.
Focusing once again, here's my list for the Joy Joy Life Buzz:

- Exercise
- Talk to people. The requirement is that they must have pubic hair. I don't want to see it, but they must be of age to at least grow it. This does not include ten year olds who are early bloomers.
- Remember to take my Zoloft.
- Cut down on caffeine. My third week of no Diet Coke is commendable. But upping the Yuban to quantities that could start my SUV? Um, not so good.
- Pray and go to church. Or at least get a doughnut on Sundays and pray in the car while jonesing for a Big Gulp.
- Take time for me (journaling, getting hair done, toes... something).
- Write every day.
- Make my own money, even if it's 2.99 on a vintage Smurf toilet brush.
- Chat with a professional either on issues of the spirit, the brain, the body or even a chef. Someone that knows more than I do. (Which, when I'm cranky, is hard to find, which leads me to my last requirement...)
- Keep a gratitude list. I am so lucky in my life, and while I know it, sometimes I don't always feel it.

So far, I've managed one of the above items only. That should tell you where I'm at.

What is your recipe for getting out of funks? If you tell me you're just a naturally happy person who only needs God, pot or St. John's Wart, I will personally come over to your house and bitch slap you while you're diligently doing your Kathy Smith Yoga tape (which will take care of the exercise portion on my list.)

On a bright note, isn't this a cute shot of Pip and me? I adore my in-laws, but if they tell me one more time that she looks like my husband, I'm going to have to assume they are smoking the wacky weed. Which means I should really be hanging out with them more.

Note to self: Add "Call in-laws" to your daily list of ingredients.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Digging It



I am not an outdoors girl. Giving birth has about the same appeal to me as peeing in a hole. As it turns out, I've done both only twice in my life. Giving birth was less messy.

I don't want to be that way. I want to be that mother that leads Girl Scouts down the Grand Canyon. Who celebrates the fourth of July every year off some random beach cove with home made fireworks and smores.

I want tone legs that carry me over mountains in Birkenstocks, the rattle of home made oatmeal in my Eddie Bauer baggy shorts.

Unfortunately, I run about as much risk of becoming Earth Mother as getting Rex to have a reversal.

But while I can't navigate uncharted territories, or look toward having that third baby at 40, I am an excellent scout at relationships. I have friends from first grade cooking class. And high school home ec. And Arco gas station cashiers that took me through my first two post par tum periods by gracing me with more Diet Coke than the Mid East has oil.

Such relationships also include my husband's ex-girlfriend. Quite the opposite of me, she wears Tevas, plans outdoor excursions to Monterrey every year, knows the properties of flax seed and does more mommy and me activities than Jenny McCarthy does talk shows.

Lucky for me, she's willing to take my kids along for the ride. Which meant, this past week, taking Pip to dig for treasures at some remote dusty site outside the city while Stink and I ate pizza admist blessed air conditioning and bad 80's music.

Call me nuts, but I'm thinking Pipsqueak takes after her mama in the out door's department. She quite possibly could be concentrating on the feel of nature's wonder under her skin, but if you look super close, you can see what she's really thinking....

"Bite me."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

another Chinese recall


Looks like it's not only paint we have to be worried about these days.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pretty as a Picture


One really learns a lot about their moods by their initial reactions to scenery.

Take the photo above, taken in the hotel, Paris, a few weekends ago in Vegas. What was the first thing you thought? "Wow, how beautiful. I could totally relax there." Or, "Man, that is tacky. Check out the elevator. If I had a dollar for every hundred bucks that was spent on that effigy to consumerism..."

As for me, my thoughts go something like this:

"Wow. I need to get to Paris one day. I know I'd dig all the art work. Though I could do without seeing the Mona Lisa. She just looks cranky.

Which I've been today.

But no one is cranky in Paris! It's the city of love! Of cafes and bread! And lots of wine where I can drink too much and pass out in a tiny overpriced hotel room, my six one frame sticking out over the munchkin sized mattress.

No. Stay positive. You will NOT drink too much or over eat. You will be a beacon of grace. A shining example of American women.

I just hope I don't vomit in the Louvre. Or have a panic attack on the run way. I'm not a great traveler. But I AM a great planner. With lots of intention.

Yes, I will go. Because unlike the staircase in the photo, life is super short. I want my kids to see the world, and it's not going to happen by sitting on my butt my whole life. Speaking of stairs, man, those could really firm up my ass.

Yes. I'll go to Paris, put on my Nike thrift store running pants, and jog up the Eiffel tower each morning. Of course I don't jog now, but that's not the point. When I'm done with my workout, I'll sip coffee at a roadside cafe.

If I haven't given it up by then.

But I HAVE been 6 days without Diet Coke. Hooray for me! Or shall I say, "Hooray for moi!"

Wow, it's amazing how much beauty can be found if I just look for it. It's so clean in the Paris hotel. Clean, clean, clean!

Unlike my house.

And speaking of the French, and getting clean, I need to shave my arm pits.

Wow, was that racist? Or was it a fact? Because the French have been known not to be on intimate terms with razors."

Nothing like a quiet mind, huh?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Oh. God.

As some of you may know, I think a lot about religion. I was raised Catholic, but had Jewish family members and friends as integrated into my life as tightly as Neil Diamond in a pair of blue jeans on a 1975 Christmas Album.

I was raised around a lot of stories, talking and the hustle and bustle of laughter and events. Whether it was Christmas, a birthday party, or a last minute Saturday dinner with friends, our house was always alive with people.

I am not saying that my life was a Saturday Evening Post of Happiness. We had our share of alcoholics, manic depressives, over eaters and perfectionists. But everyone was able to work through their issues with respect and understanding. No one was expected to be anything other than the best they could be.

I have often told my mother that if she did anything wrong in raising me, it was that she gave me a level of acceptance that was very unrealistic in this modern world of cynicism, anger, judgement and pride.

I think my Norman Rockwell tendencies have adjusted quite nicely to the high definition take it up your butt television screen that our world often really reflects.

But every once in a while, I'm racked with an anxiety that, if it were an earthquake, could quite possibly take down the Golden Gate Bridge. I know that worrying about the future is futile. I know that my body can no longer help its pangs of fear anymore than a blind person can help seeing in darkness. It's just a part of my system. But, if a blind person can use a stick, then I can use one also. My stick is my family, my friends, my intentions to eat healthy, my acceptance for the days when nothing but an Apple Fritter and Diet Coke is going to do, and, once again, my religion.

I don't know why bad things happen to good people.

I don't know why marriages fall apart.

I don't know why some people are born brilliant while others have learning disabilities or live two days.

I only know that as I go through post after post, there's a synergy and connection between people that inspires me to keep writing. To keep going. To keep trying to make a difference.

To me, this is God. It dawned on me recently, after a bad week of anxiety, that my innocence of the world does not have to go away simply because I'm no longer a child. If there is a prescence out there that loves me unconditionally, as my family once did (or at least as I naively believed that they did) then I can still find hope. And joy. I don't have to allow the jadedness of our times to kill my love for the small pleasures.

For those of you that have other methods of reaching this same epiphany other than the God route, I think that is fantastic. I am a terrible Christian, because while I couldn't imagine my life without my rock of church, I can't imagine that any God out there could condemn someone for not believing what I do.

I am writing this post because I realize that sometimes I don't share as much of myself as I possibly could.

Or want to.

So, now that you all can label me as a religious nut job, I'd love to hear your thoughts on staying pure in a world that so badly wants us to fail.

Or is that just my anxiety talking again?

Let me know. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Pass the Vegas











Lest any of you wondered if I fell off the face of the earth, the truth is, I needed this week to recover from Vegas.

Not everyone travels to the city of sin with their 86 year old grandmother-in-law, but let me say, it was worth it. I learned so much about myself and others during this trip (including Texas Lizzy, Texas Dottie and their wonderful family and friends.) A few of my insights are:

1. If Vegas were a person, it would need a prescription for Zoloft pronto. I've never seen more ups, more downs, and more in-betweens than this city of winning, losing, high lites and misery.

2. No one has drunk alcohol until Stella makes a martini in a smokey hotel room from vodka stored in her milk of magnesium vitamin bottle.

3. No one knows "flirt" until they see their grandmother kiss Blue Men, grab handle the models at Abercrombie and Fitch and corral a 19 year old to lift her up to the Fountain Di Trevi in Caesar's Palace.

4. Being away from your family makes you realize how much you miss them.

5. Seeing naked girls as a single person was one thing. Seeing them as a mother makes me sad. Every topless dancer was Pipsqueak. Every ad for sensual massage featuring young oiled men made me think of Stink. Innocence is so short. Which leads me back to #4.

6. There is officially such thing as too much stimulation. A billboard of Louie Anderson bigger than the state of Texas is enough to send even an Indian Guru into a fetal position, chanting senselessly for Diet Coke and Valium.

7. It's amazing how even in a town brimming with commercialism exquisite beauty can be found. Just check out the Wynn's flower garden or the Fall foliage at the Belliago. Vegas, like life, is all about the choices in what you want to walk away with. Beauty or destruction, boundaries or temptation. It's a fine line always.

8. Even when you think you can't build anything good out of nothing, you have Vegas as a model. A desert full of mobsters became the most successful enterprise of our times. Where else can you eat more than Delta Burke at a Chili Cook Off for less money than it takes to park at the beach in Malibu?

9. Everyone is hot in Vegas. If you can't get laid at the Excalibur, then you're either dead or not looking for it. I fall into the second category, but I did have a man outside the Flamingo shout "You are fiiiiiine, giiiirl." He was probably drunk, married and possibly paid to entice harried mommies into the casino to spend their grocery money on dollar slots, but that's not the point.

10. I am officially old, because unless I stay at a 500.00 room/hotel where I can lounge at the pool and eat pork all day, I don't care to go to Vegas any time soon. And with that criteria, I might as well go to Florida and shop at Walmart like every other middle aged woman in this country.

In conclusion, the best part of this trip was 3 fold: spending time with my rock star teenage grandma, seeing Liz and her family, and coming home to my babies who acted like brats for the rest of week as if to say "you left us, you are now going to pay for it." And gladly, I did.