12/31/2008

ENDING THE YEAR BY PICKING A FIGHT - KINDA

Rachel. Rach. I can call you "Rach," right? You don't mind?

Read your blog posts. And many of them are lovely. Except, some of them are a little - how do I put this? Your posts can be kind of... a bummer.

For starters, the "Bill" to whom I'm certain you are referring in this post is also known as Mr. President. He is a man who has achieved quite a lot in his lifetime. From his education to his professional career, to his job as the leader of the free world and the president of your country, it is safe to say that his life is worth more than one shameful and humiliating experience broadcast for the world to see. Some might say he deserves some respect despite his shortcomings.

You yourself have a colorful past, documented on television, no less (and on a channel that I feel confident you don't allow your children to watch). And yet when you became a wife and mother you became something more. Someone who has had many experiences throughout your life and now is grounded in your beliefs and your desire to help your children to become good and whole people.

This is my point: our world is complicated. Parenthood today is not for the meek. What I hope for most in my own family is not that my kids be served up sanitized versions of the world, but that they are helped to know that that they have a unique place in it. That each one of us is an important addition and deserves to be honored.

My children are not here to make me look good, they are not here to fulfill the lost dreams of my youth. They are here to live this life. To experience every emotion and feeling, to walk through easy days and hard ones, and to learn the lessons that are there for them. It is their birthright.

The fact that their very existence has made my life better than I ever thought to hope is my experience. I hope that it informs their understanding that they are valuable beyond measure, but it does not define them. When it comes down to it their life is their own and the choices that they make for themselves will be theirs to live with. Good, bad or otherwise. Figuring out how to do the hard times and the easier ones with a little bit of grace and dignity would be lovely. But I strive for these things every day and I am nowhere near perfecting that technique.

There is no "if" in the equation; my children will have questions on provocative topics, they will attempt to adopt ugly behaviors, they will fail miserably one day and accomplish amazing feats the next.

My job: be as honest as I can in the moment, and get out of their way and to help them to traverse this wild terrain (all be it in a sleepy little community on the top of a tiny mountain). To sing praises and offer counsel. My job is not to ask the world to stop being so "un-pretty" because my kiddos can't handle it. Or I can't. One or the other.

To be in this world with love and respect and humanness, and sometimes with anger and fears. All of these things I wish for my children.

And to be clear, I wish these things for your children as well.

Regards,
Erica

12/22/2008

12/06/2008

NEW JOB

Got one.

Will not be laid off. Will not be on unemployment in the holiday season of the worst economy this country has seen in decades.

Will not work for micromanaging misogynist douche bags anymore.

And so all of my prayers have been answered and all of my Christmas wishes fulfilled.

Many thanks to those who sent well wishes, and to those who thought them. I am grateful for all of your kindness and support.

Thanks to my folks and my ladies who said things like, "You're so smart! You're beautiful! They would be lucky to have you!" which made me want to punch you in the face but was, still, so sweet.

Extra, turbo thanks to Lisa, without whose council I would have been profoundly less confident walking into that interview.

And to my husband. You know what you did. (nudge. wink. fingerguns.)

Blessings to you all. I am forever thankful.

XOXO.

11/22/2008

DO NOT MISTAKE PIQUED INTEREST FOR ACTUAL NEED

Things in the "FREE" category of craigslist in my area:


Pack of Silver Metallic Darkroom Paper 8x10 - Interesting!

Coffee and Hot Chocolate - 5 packets. A little odd.

huge piece of water proof material - Huge, huh? Wow.

Folsing tables - Huh?

Crap metale - Ah, yes. Free crap metale. I've been waiting for this day. Who hasn't?


We are ridding ourselves of an old truck in this very forum, so I thought I'd see what we are up against.

Apparently, we are up against freaks. As usual.

11/10/2008

ERASE MY NAME, OR WRITE IT, AS YOU PLEASE

My beloved friend Steve posted this on his site and before I stopped crying I knew I would post it here, too:




So I be written in the Book of Love,

I have no care about that book above;
Erase my name, or write it, as you please--
So I be written in the Book of Love.

From Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

11/08/2008

SUPRISE!

For the past few weeks my behavior has been a crap shoot. Inappropriate outbursts. Joyful celebrations. I've been an emotional pendulum.

I have recently found myself fuming at a lovely group of friends. For asking questions. And not being mind readers.

Weird, huh?

Turns out maybe it isn't my friends. Turns out, I have some repressed anger issues.

I'm very angry. Furious, actually. And not about anything that has to do with my friends. About how a moment can change your loved ones lives forever. About how my broken heart is never really healed, even after eleven years, one marriage, two kids, various jobs, cars, vacations, "Simple Abundance," therapy, bi-annual retreats, weekly womens' groups, time and space.

Nothing will ever heal it.

And for that fact I am enraged.

And I found out this week that the big company I work for has replaced my group with a "lower cost solution."

And I found out about this in an email from the new group soliciting me to apply for my own job.

LOVELY.

So that not smoking thing - it is off the table for the moment. I'll keep you posted. For now, I have to find a new job. Or bump off the entire replacement team.

I'm seriously torn.

Give me a light, will ya?

11/05/2008

STUPID FUCKING HATE - FTW

In the car on the way to school this morning we listened to election results. When the news about Prop 8 (AKA "Ignorant Haters for Nixing Love if it isn't Exactly How They Deem it Acceptable") was announced I was audibly devastated.

Me: Oh my god, NO!

Maddy: What's wrong?

Me: Prop 8 passed. And I'm just really super sad about it.

Levi: What is Prom 8?

Me: Prop 8 is a proposed constitutional amendment for California stating that gay and lesbian couples won't be able to get married if they want to.

Maddy: Why not? Why would anyone care?

Me: I don't know why not. I can't imagine what two people loving each other and wanting to get married has to do with anyone else. I would be so sad if my state or country told your Daddy and I that we couldn't get married because other people thought we were too different.

Levi: Well, they would never do that, would they?

Me: Well, a long time ago it wasn't OK for people to marry if their skin colors didn't match, which would have meant I was only allowed to marry albinos. And there really aren't very many of them, and none of them would have been your father. Which would have sucked.

Kiddos: ???

Me: I know we need laws to protect people and animals but it's not like our gay friends want to get married and kill puppies. They just want to get married. If they feel like it. When the time is right.

Levi: Yeah, killing puppies isn't OK. But getting married is.

Maddy: I'd vote "no" for killing puppies but "yes" for love and marriage.

Me: Me too, pal. Me too.

11/04/2008

ONE VOICE. ONE VOTE.

I take my silly little privileged life for granted every day. I bemoan the most trivial and ridiculous of issues while indulging my laziness and apathy. Just yesterday I was standing in my big, beautiful kitchen, bitching about how quickly my organic half and half soured (for my expensive french pressed coffee) and how those jerks at Trader Joe's will get an ear full next time I'm in there. Which will be tomorrow. Because I go there three times a week. Because I enjoy freshness.

I am an American through and through.

And while this may be true, I am also a loudmouthed, obnoxious, entitled, freedom vigilante. I will defend and protect my daughter's right to be in charge of her body. And my friends' rights to love who they want and marry if they so choose. And will proudly vote for a man who is allowing me a new sense of pride for this country that I take for granted and have been disillusioned by for far too long.

This is my birthright.

Happy day.

10/27/2008

10/22/2008

A GOOD HARD LOOK

I went on my retreat this weekend. I usually go every April and October, but I missed this most recent April because I'd just started my new job. So it had been a year.

A year is, apparently, too long for me.

I haven't needed a retreat so badly in many years, and I've been going regularly for eleven.

I will not share specifics of this weekend away. As with every precious and special thing in the world the details are for the attendees. I will share, however, the theme: Self acceptance.

What if I accepted myself, totally and completely?

How would I be different in my life? How would my relationships change? How would I face life's challenges? How would I face successes?

So, I am sitting with all of these questions. I am considering myself in a way I have not previously.

And I have quit smoking.

Because no matter what, I cannot reconcile the future I hand myself by continuing to indulge in that behavior. Plus I fucking stink.

Pray for me.

10/16/2008

TOO LATE, SON. TOO LATE.

Me, peeling an orange over the kitchen sink this morning. Levi, watching me.

Levi: Watch out, Mom! You're gonna get that orange dust all over you!

Me: Oh, it's not dust, hon. It's the oils from the orange peel. You could call it "zest."

Levi: Well, be careful or you're gonna be zesty!

10/05/2008

MIDDLE AGED WHITE EUROPEANS ARE CRAZY!





For my brother. Just because I love you.

10/02/2008

SITTING ON MY ASS, A LITTLE BIT HIGH FROM THE MEDS

I had some dental work this week. Not my favorite thing.

My face is swollen to twice its usual size, but only on one side. So that's nice.

Eating yogurt and pudding and mashed potatoes.

And then my hubs brought home these:


Totally not what I should be eating but they are so damn good, they are the only things I want to eat. Spicy but not hot, so flavor-full and delicious. (When I see the list of things I have been eating it makes a little more sense that I have been devouring them, but honest to god - these things are snack-tastic. No joke.)

You should probably head out now and get yourself some. I'll be sitting here on my ass. When you get back and have shoved the entire box into your face, feel free to ping me about it.

9/22/2008

SISTERS

me and you be sisters.
we be the same.

me and you
coming from the same place.

me and you
be greasing our legs
touching up our edges.

me and you
be scared of rats
be stepping on roaches.

me and you
come running high down purdy street one time
and mama laugh and shake her head at
me and you.

me and you
got babies
got thirty-five
got black
let our hair go back
be loving ourselves
be loving ourselves
be sisters.

only where you sing,
I poet.

Lucille Clifton

9/21/2008

LOST MYSELF IN A SEA OF STUPID CRAP

Work stress. Clients will always want more. Stupid lack of time and energy. Missed girl child's first soccer game.

Fuck that shit.

I spent the weekend in my kitchen. I cooked myself back into myself. And I am feeling more whole right now than I have in quite a long time.

Friday night I baked up a huge pan of lemon bars for the boy child's soccer team snack.

Saturday I slept late and after the boy's soccer game I made a pot of beans (for refried beans), a lovely salmon dinner and a banana bread for Sunday morning breakfast. Today Rube and worked together to make a FANTASTIC smoked pork roast, these potatoes right here, and Madigan and I worked together on an apple crisp.

OK.

I remember this person.

I found her in the kitchen. Fewsh.

9/08/2008

SECOND GRADE REMEMBRANCE

Levi just started second grade.

Which caused me to recall Madigan's second grade class's winter performance.

Between the third grade offering of a short (undetermined-holiday-themed) play, and a variety of festive songs (not specific to one holiday or religion) offered up by the first grade, Mrs. William's second graders performed:

A Music and Movement Interpretation of Piet Mondrian's Neoplasticism.

Complete with all-black beat nick outfits and brightly colored pool noodles.

The music was an energetic interpretation on Orff instruments; glockenspiels, xylophones and metallophones. Of course.

Remember those simpler times?

Sigh.

9/07/2008

PURPLE HAZE, ALL IN MY BRAIN

My firstborn child just turned eleven.

She is a middle schooler.

She has a brand new patch of bright purple hair. (Subtly hidden below all of her other hair.)

And all of this means that I am feeling super fucking OLD.

She spent the weekend with a friend she has had since preschool. Up Until 3:00 AM. She was exhausted. So we spent the day at home today, until around 4:00 when I decided we should go to Trader Joe's for a few things.

On the drive to the store - both my kids fell asleep in the car.

I'm not feeling as old anymore.

9/04/2008

WE SHALL NOT CEASE FROM EXPLORATION (IN CHONIES)

Me: Good morning love bug. How did you sleep?

Levi: (stretching and rubbing) I had a weird dream.

Me: Oh yeah? Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Him: Yeah. We went to the boardwalk and all I was wearing was my chonies.

Me: Oh my goodness! Were you embarrassed?

Levi: No. It was a school day and it was early.

Me: ???

Levi: We went to a store where (uncle) Bumper was working and he was selling these really cool spaceships! They were not too big and you could ride around in them and shoot at moons and planets and there was a special one for wheelchairs so Bumper and I were driving around all over.

Me: So, no clothes, just your chonies?

Levi: I got a tank top. They had lots of other stuff too. It (the store) was kind of like Mervyns.

Me: But with space ships.

Levi: Cool, huh?

8/25/2008

BLOGGER'S REMORSE

Why did I post that?

What was I thinking?

Was I trying to get attention? Sway favor, play the "sister of a quad" card? Make sure nobody missed it? Make sure those who do know don't forget?

Why would I subject my brother to that? Why would I click publish? Writing it is one thing, publishing it is a whole 'nother story. And about the "writing" part - it's not even well written! I want to take it all back and reformat and re frame and ramble less and get to a fucking point and ... what was I talking about anyway? Why was it important for me to say those things, in that way, in this forum? Why can't I just shut my trap? GEEZ!

This is where I have been for the past week. Remorse. Regret. Reeling from myriad choices that led to that post. Stinging from the compliments. Why are they saying these nice things? How do I respond? What do I say? I just want to take it back.

So I've been sitting on my hands.

And though I'm still wishing I could have done it a little differently, I will say this: I'm not sorry I did it anymore. And no matter how hard it is to look back on certain parts of my life, it will never be as hard as living through them. (BTW - we all lived through that time. My brother, me, my kid. It's been eleven years and we are all alive and well. Honestly.)

So, why did I do it? Why did I share about that terrible day? I guess I share about myself because mine is the only voice like mine. No one else will share like I will. No one else will know what I have known. But maybe others will share if I do. So I share.

We all have wounds. We've all had tragedy. All of us have pain. It is such a brave act, this living in this world with our joys and our sadness.

Thank you for your kindness. It has touched me beyond words, even if I couldn't express that thanks in a timely manner.

*******************************


Three things happened this past week that deserve acknowledgement and thanks.

First, Annagrace of LoveDrunk awarded me with this blog award. She is a lovely and thoughtful mom of (now two) beautiful peanuts and her kindness took me aback. Thank you so very much. I am honored.

And then, because wonders never cease, my blogher roomie Lara (whom I adore) granted me with the very same award!

WTF? How can that possibly be??? Thank you so much, for this wonderful award and your ongoing support. I'm so lucky to have met you and I think of you and your new adventures every day (and HTG, too).

But wait, there is more! I won a blog contest! My winnings will be coming to me soon and I will be eating those delicious spoils for many minutes after the package arrives. I'll tell you all about it soon. When I am cleared to tell the world. I'll sing it from the rooftops with my mouth stuffed with treats. Seriously, it'll be super sexy.

So I'm living this abundant life over here. And I have to go 'cause I have to run out and buy a lottery ticket.

xoxo -
cc

8/15/2008

"I want you to help me kill myself."

Sweaty, itchy, feeling too fat with my two month old daughter strapped to my chest, I had pushed my brother in his new wheelchair to the Starbucks about 10 blocks from my parents home.

"I already asked Mom but she said no. I'm not going to ask Dad. I don't think he would be able to."

"Well, I'm thrilled that I'm your third choice."

"I'm not kidding. I need your help."

And as I sat there with an iced chai and my new fussing baby I considered weather or not I would kill my brother.

All I could think was how the fuck did we get here?

Seven months earlier, at around 6:00 AM on Saturday, April 12, 1997, I was awakened by the phone. It was my Mom.

"Bumper has been in an accident. He's at Valley Med. They won't tell me anything."

I assured her, "They can't tell you anything. He's fine. He always is. I'll meet you there in a half hour."

Just a few months before that she had gotten a similar call that my brother Bumper had been in a snowboarding accident. He had bruised his ribs and spleen and hit his head. He'd temporarily lost his short term memory, his friend later explained to us.

The resulting phone conversations that my Mom and Dad and I had with him proved ridiculously funny. In part, I'm sure, due to our relief that nothing too serious had happened to him. But also because talking to him that day was an exercise in frustration. He could remember who we were, what our voices sounded like, but not what he had just said to us or us to him. He repeated himself again and again and we laughed and asked him questions so he would repeat himself once more. We were ridiculous. But we were laughing and really, you can get through anything if you can laugh, right?

That boarding accident proved to be relatively minor and he had recovered fully. He was a big strong strapping young man. At 21 years old and 6'4", his body was remarkable and resilient.

I felt sure everything was going to be fine this time as well.

We arrived at the hospital and asked at the admissions desk about Bumper. They made us wait. Then a nurse came for us and took us to the "Family Room," closed the door and left us alone. There I stood, four months pregnant with my first child, my mother and father looking confused and worried and overwhelmed. I tried to soothe them and comfort them. I tried to think why the nurses weren't telling us anything. I tried to hope for the best.

Then the doctor came. He spoke to my parents.

"Your son has broken his neck. He is paralyzed."

The doctor said a lot of other things. I heard none of them. I think I shook my head. I think I said "No. No. No. No." But honestly, I may have imagined that.

The following weeks were a blur of concerned friends and family, ICU, surgeries, Bumper's halo, recovery, ICU again, the rotating bed, endless batteries for the Sony disc man, my folks and I taking shifts around the clock to sit by his bed and then - when they would kick us out - to sit vigil in the waiting room with once hourly peeks in on him.

The hospital staff and management told us we should leave. Go home and let him face his recovery on his own. They told us that we weren't helping, being there all the time. That his adjustment would be easier if we didn't hover so much.

Over the weeks and months he had a number of roommates. Many of them had no family with them for days and weeks at a time. Some of them would leave the hospital and go "home" to a nursing care facility. No one who loved them would be caring for them. They were alone.

We did not budge. My folks and I stuck it out. We were there. With him every single day. If we couldn't trade places with him we were certainly going to do our best to know what brand new doorway of hell he was going to be "walking" through every day.

During his stay at that hospital I watched my brother move his arms, more and more with practice. I watched him get into the power wheelchair and roam the halls of the hospital after weeks of laying flat. I watched him do physical and occupational therapy every day and learn to tell the hospital staff about his needs. After a number of months he went home with my folks to their house. Ramps were built. A new bed was brought in. The front bathroom was remodeled to accommodate the shower wheelchair. Attendants were hired to help him with his daily needs.

While I was watching this, my little brother was living this. My parents baby boy was experiencing a life none of us had ever imagined. He was learning how to live a new way. Without the use of his hands and legs. Without the freedoms he had known his entire life. Without the ability to storm out on it all with a grand, "Fuck you!" letting the door swing behind him.

And, of course, I was pregnant. And let's be clear. I did not want to be pregnant anymore. I'm not saying that I wanted my baby to come out of me, here into the world. I did not want to be a mom. I did not want to hold my baby in my arms. This creature inside was, in my opinion, sapping energy and attention from me that I could not spare. I wanted this pregnancy to go away. I wanted it to end. I wanted God or the universe or whoever was in charge to know that I was not capable of giving any more of myself. That I was destroyed. Broken beyond repair and I had no business becoming a parent in the middle of this. But god/the universe/whoever turned a deaf ear to my desperate requests.

Because my daughter was born.

The OB nurse (phenomenal, amazing, wonderful woman) carried my minutes-old daughter over to Bumper and held her to his cheek, resting the weight if this new person on his shoulder. And things shifted.

Suddenly our tears were joy soaked. All of our sarcastic and surreal laughter that had helped us to survive the months of fear and misery gave way to laughter sprung from genuine delight. My new little person brought with her healing and peace and potential that none of us expected. She was an angel. Sent here with the daunting task of healing my whole family of our deep, open, painful recent wounds. And, apparently, she was up to the task. Who knew?

Hope springs eternal, or some shit like that.

So as I sat there at the Starbucks, with milk swollen breasts that I was resistant to whip out in public, I considered my brother's request.

If I really love him do I kill him or do I say no?

8/14/2008

I LOVE HER. I HONESTLY LOVE HER.

This morning, while getting ready for work, I plunked down on the stairs next to my daughter, threw my arm over her shoulder and I asked her about the book she's been reading the past few days.

Sakes alive.

Madigan, much like her father, has no ability to edit. None. She droned on and on about every single excruciating detail of this 150 page book, sprinkled with the obvious, "Oh! Wait, I forgot this one part where..."

Twenty motherfuckingminutes later I had to cut her off. Cause if I didn't I was going to shove her face into the dog hair covered stairway carpeting just to muffle the sound of her voice so my ears could stop bleeding on to my work dress.

Honestly I should have known better because a few weeks ago my husband took her to see WALL*E and I couldn't be there so when they returned I'd asked her what it was all about. It took her nearly a half hour to describe a movie that has NO TALKING for the first hour.

How could I let this happen again?

My brain must have blocked it. Like childbirth.

8/11/2008

CUPCAKE FAMILY RULZ

Every family has a few rules that set them apart. In our family:

1. We don't keep caged animals
We can't reconcile being prison wardens of a living creature. This makes it easier for our kids to understand why we will always turn down offers from loving friends and family for rats and snakes and gerbils. Also, it makes zoos just a little more tragic.

2. We don't have video games
Our kids don't need them. We don't need to think that they do. This means no Wii, no Gameboys, no retro Atari from my own precious teen hood. Harder than you might think. Oddly, this is the family rule that causes surprising numbers of friends and family to say, "Just wait. You'll cave." Which is great.

3. You get to choose how you wear your own hair
Rube has worn his hair long ever since I have known him. I, on the other hand, have had nearly every length and color, Madigan has had fuchsia stripes and tips, and Levi currently sports a look I like to call, "The Shaggy D.A." It's a festival up in here.

4. Our bodies stay intact until adulthood
(With the exception of Maddy's pierced ears)
At 18 my children will get to decide for themselves about piercings, body modifications, circumcisions, tattoos, etc... I'm hoping they will do it all ON their 18th birthdays. Cause you haven't really lived until you've gotten a stupid tramp stamp that you are embarrassed for and that will take thousands of dollars to remove in your late thirties. Or... so I've heard.

5. We make food and buy ingredients
At times when my friends might think we had nothing to eat in our house it is likely I could make a semi-formal sit-down dinner for eight. Most meals start with recipes and cookbooks are legitimate reading material. Just last night I was rummaging around for a sweet treat and because I keep a stocked larder I was able to throw together a Boston Cream Pie. It works for us.

6. We will treat others and one another with respect
Beyond name calling, beyond table manners. People deserve compassion and kindness. Even the people we live with.

7. Letter grades are not the end-all/be-all
My grades never accurately represented my brilliance. And really, if I'm focused on the letter and throwing away the chance to show my kids how fucking amazing it is to be able to learn, then I really am missing the point.

Keep your eyes peeled for Cupcake Family Gray Areas (or "Topics on which Rube and I will always Disagree")

8/09/2008

THE SINS OF MY APATHY

On the night that Phyllis died she lay in her hospital bed reading a Reader's Digest. The article she'd been reading was about how to make a marriage last.

She was hours away from her own passing, but she was reading tips about how to honor her marriage in order to make it last.

Her example of grace is not lost on me.

I have been with my husband for a dozen years. We have born children and our life together has been very full and rich at times. There have also been long passages of time that have been angry and resentful and quite separate.

In this lonely and separate place I found a circle of women with whom I seek counsel and strength. My relationship with my own mother has become one of my proudest achievements. However, my relationship with my husband is still fraught with challenges. He is almost as stubborn as I am. He is passionate about his place on this planet and his responsibility not to piss his time here away. He is the only man I ever want to raise children with. He is engaged and thoughtful and kind and compassionate. He is present with our children in a way that I rarely see in the husbands of many of my peers. He reminds me of my father, but slower and more earthy, with fewer guns.

But this marriage thing - it can be relentless. It can be so hard and so lonely. My most terrified moments have been when I could not imagine going on in the marriage, and could not imagine going on without it. (This is not how I've been feeling lately or for quite some time, but my memory is strong of the despair I felt then.)

So I've been sitting with this lesson from Phyllis. Take care of your marriage. Be mindful of it. I've been letting it resonate. Letting it fill me. And I take with me one more lesson from this woman I loved who I do not get to see or hear anymore.

My marriage is my responsibility. Every single day. I can choose to care for it or I can be lazy. And my laziness may come at a very high price.

Today I brought my husband coffee from his favorite coffee shop and I kissed him on the mouth and told him that I know that I am so blessed to be able to love him. And today my eyes are open to that fact.

Thank you, Phyllis.

8/01/2008

WHEN MET WITH RESISTANCE I STOP

I started writing about some painful memories and I kept writing and writing and then - I stopped.

So I have half of a huge post that may or may not be appropriate for public consumption. And my brain now resembles oatmeal.

I'm looking for a little happy!

What makes me happy, you ask? Well, let me tell you:


TULIPS!!!


Audible.com - because having a great book read to you is so delicious.

Avocado Oil Soap from Crabtree and Evelyn because it smells exactly like what heaven must smell like when a perfect little breeze is blowing. Seriously. Go to the store and smell it. You'll see.

This sofa - which is totally on sale. We actually need two, so this sale would be nice...

Licorice. Not all licorice. Only the ones with the right amount of mouth numbing anise oil and the right amount of chewiness.

My kiddos. My husband. My family. My friends. Sometimes my doggies.

I got it pretty good over here.

Happy Friday.

7/26/2008

SAME BAT TIME, SAME BAT CHANNEL

This weekend is the Garlic Festival. My children and I will be joining my brother for a hot day of smelly food and people, like we do every year. (The food there is out of this fucking world. Seriously.)

Last year my family had quite an adventure there.

There will be no kid competitions this year (that I know about) so we should have a pretty normal day.

Then again, I would have thought that last year.

Anyhoo - Happy Sunday.

GIFT OF ABUNDANCE

Plums.

We've got quite a few. From a friend with trees overflowing. I will make a batch of jam or a plum cake or two.

But the word: plum. I adore it. Perhaps because it is in one of my favorite poems.

Perhaps because it is in the name of my favorite party store.

Perhaps because it reminds me of friends and plenitude and summertime love.

Regardless. I have a bunch of plums ripening on the table and filling my nose with their sour/sweet tang.

Sigh.

7/24/2008

ASSUMPTIONS MAKE AN ASS OF MY UMPTIONS

Or whatever.

Things I have assumed of late:

1. Everyone knows that Tempest is the most bad-ass video game. Evah!

Turns out that there are only 16 of us who even remember this game, and my friend Angela is one of them. And I didn't even know this until today. Which makes her an even more precious flower of delight.

2. When I ask my kiddos to pick up their stuff around the house they understand that I mean the dirty socks, pokemon cards, pajama bottoms, water glasses, giant mountain of stuffed animals, books and 6 blankets from the now defunct living room fort.

Apparently they think I mean, "Put the remote controls on the coffee table."

3. If left long enough the laundry will do itself.

Nope, turns out it doesn't.

4. Anyone with a brain knows that SunChips KILL Doritos. Doritos don't deserve to lick the seat where the SunChips were just sitting a minute ago.

Sadly, it is not so. SunChips remain the red-headed step child in the (totally abusive and neglectful) snack food family.

5. You will judge me. Harshly.

I'll admit right now that I am totally judgmental. I judge. I judge before, during and after any given situation. This doesn't make the situation any different. It just makes me surprised when it turns out that I am wrong (always).

So when I am met with openness and warmth - well, it scares me a little.

At blogher '08 I met women of every shape, every size, every stage in life (including infants) and I found them, each and every one, so beautiful and lovely. The confident ones, the relaxed ones, the scared ones, the stressed ones (even the puking ones) - each of them a delicate brushstroke, exactly, perfectly just what and where they needed to be. And in the reflection of this masterpiece I found that I was, too. Perfectly me. Perfectly human. Perfectly accepted.

I am an ass. I own it. But I learn a lot though my assyness. It continues to serve me.

I assume you'll agree.

7/21/2008

ASTROLOGY IS AN EXACT SCIENCE

Today's horoscope:

Your work activities get in the way of your real purpose today. It's not that you are a bad employee; it's just that right now your mind is not on pleasing your boss. You are ready for a real vacation or, at least, for a quick getaway to take your mind off the same old mundane tasks that prevent you from living out your fantasies.





I will never doubt this shit again.

7/20/2008

I CAME, I SAW, I'M GOING TO NEED A MONTH TO CATCH UP ON THE LOST SLEEP

Smart women. Savvy women. One thousand of them. With the collective intention to be better in some way, for some reason.

There were lots of reasons for me not to go. Like the memorial service that I was missing. And the wedding anniversary that I would not spend with my husband. And when I got there my computer had some major issues and would not connect.

I could have stayed lost in the fear and guilt. I could have turned around and gone home. It would not have been hard.

Instead I met women who inspire me. Women whom I admire. Women who made me feel like I'd known them forever.

And after a while I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.

But seriously, I'm gonna need to take a nap tomorrow.

So. Damn. Tired.

PS: Is it just me, or do you go ape-shit crazy for free crap that you don't need? Why? Why, god, why? There is no room for me in my bed because it is covered in SWAG. Do me a favor. Hit me in the head with a ball peen hammer if I do this again next year. Thanks in advance.

7/17/2008

SOME OF EACH

I will never be one of those people who slips away quietly in their sleep not to be discovered for 13 years because no one notices that I am gone. I have too many loves. Too many people keeping tabs. Plus, I live with 3 other humans and two dogs who still have a sense of smell, but I digress (as usual).

My last post had my friends in a frenzy. Not exactly up my ass, but openly concerned and texting, calling, emailing, etc... while I was away on my family vacation. And now that I am home there is more of the same.

Thank you. I am loved and I am so lucky and I know it.

I am not slipping away into the ocean of despair never to be seen again. And this really isn't the first time I have felt a great loss. This may well be the first time I've experienced it sometime near the time it occurred, however. And that is new for me.

So I am having sad feelings every day. I am also having feelings of joy and gratitude every day.

I am having some of each.

7/11/2008

SILENCE

Many attempts to communicate are nullified by saying too much.

Robert Greenleaf

I have gone quiet. I am shocked by how little I have to say. If you know me at all this is a surprising phase for me. I am constantly sharing, endlessly prattling on, always coming up with something to say about one thing or another. And I really don't let lack of knowledge hinder me. Like the Energizer bunny I keep going and going and going...

Until now.

Now my heart is aching. My mind is full and my throat closes often.

Now I am reading sad books and watching sad movies and working myself too hard and trying to be with my kiddos during their fun Summer. I am quiet there too. I don't have anything to say so I am quiet.

I wonder when I will feel like me again. I wonder if the way "me" feels is changed forever.

But here is what I want people to know: I don't care that her body was just a vessel. I miss the fucking vessel. I miss it and I want it back. I don't care that we will have her in our hearts forever. She is too big for my heart. It hurts every day with her all crowded in there. I want her out of there and in the world where I can say more things and go to more movies and laugh more and seek her counsel more.

I know we will tell the stories but I want her grandkids to grow up with her, not the stories about her. I want her husband to not be so unmoored by the loss of his partner that his grief doesn't let him through the grocery store with enough food to sustain him. I want him to not have to berate himself when he calls every woman her name. That name that is supposed to come out of his mouth forever, same as it has for the past 40 years, but there is no one here to receive it, to respond to it.

She should be here. My heart is so sore. My chest feels bruised.

And what I know is that everyone I have ever loved will leave me in this way. And I'm scared to death.

I'm so scared.

7/03/2008

CUPCAKE KIDDOS



Happy early Independence Day.

6/24/2008

COMFORT COMES TO ME IN STRANGE WAYS



This book is coming to me from Amazon. Because when I'm sad I like to dive in and wallow in the sad. Swim in it. Do a backstroke and then flip over float face down in despair. I think this wonderful story of a woman's grief will help me to do just that.

In the event that you are looking for a beautiful, precious, tragic and sad tale, I have a few selections for you:

The Bridges of Madison County

Lucky

Tuesdays With Morrie

The Red Tent

A Time to Kill

Bridge to Terabithia

To Kill a Mockingbird

And I hear from my friend Mary (and a few thousand other people) that this one might be good for jerking a tear or two. We shall see...

6/21/2008

IT IS, OF COURSE, POSSIBLE TO DANCE A PRAYER




I've never wanted anything more than to dance like a fucking nut job with a gaggle of complete strangers in every city of the world.

6/16/2008

IN LOVING MEMORY

I met Heather in Mr. Williams 7th grade homeroom class. She sat in the next row. She had thick red hair and Jordache jeans. We started out just talking in class. About the teacher (Crazy. Not just odd, actually NUTSO. Left teaching the next year cause he was honest to god crazy.), about boys (Vance Beltran - 7th grade GOD sat right behind me. And occasionally he spoke to me. She witnessed these events), about school work (Lame. Always.), about ourselves.

We became best friends. We walked to school together every day of high school. We spent summers together. Mostly at her house because her folks were there. Her dad worked out of a home office in the converted garage long before it was normal to have a home office. Her mom was a stay at home Mom. She encouraged us to be kind and respectful. She called us MITs (Moms In Training). She cooked delicious treats (popcorn, chocolate donuts, fried fish and okra, biscuits and gravy) and made us feel welcome and loved.

Heather's Mom was a devoutly Christian woman. She knew her Bible chapter and verse but never forced her beliefs on anyone. She was kind and gentle and strong and loving. For the past 24 plus years she has been a second mom to me.

Heather's Mom loved my kids and their accomplishments and quirks like they were her own grand kids. She was lucky enough to have 2 grand kids of her own and she has delighted in them from the moment they hit the planet.

A little over 5 years ago doctors found a lump. Since then she has weathered 3 progressively worse rounds of chemotherapy. She withstood radiation, fatigue, pain and nausea. This year things got a lot worse for her and about 2 1/2 months ago the doctors told her family that she would not be surviving this. When Heather's dad asked if the doctors were talking 18 months (?) they let him know that they were talking more like 3 months.

From that moment everything changed. Suddenly people she loved were making time. Time for long distance visits, time for dinners and shopping and chats. Time for making chocolate donuts. Time together.

When she was asked what she would want to do she said she wanted to go to Greece.

And so all of those people who loved her and felt impotent because they couldn't do anything to change her prognosis suddenly had something they could do. They chipped in and sent her and her husband to Europe. To Italy and Greece for two weeks. This vacation was to have ended last Thursday.

Heather's mom, Phyllis Davis Kelly, died peacefully tonight. About one hour ago.

My best friend's heart is shattered and will never be the same again.

I loved Phyllis. I will love my friend and will remember her mother with with her for all the years that I have left here. I will tell stories to Heather's children about their wonderful grandmother. Her kindness, her humor, her amazing capacity for love and depth of patience beyond my understanding. I will make chocolate donuts and know that they will never taste as good or as sweet because the woman who perfected them is gone.

This is too hard.

6/12/2008

A BETTER PERSON THAN ME

So my first kid, she's pretty great.

My second kid is quite OK, too. But that first one, she and I are an interesting team. I have a lot to learn in this earthly plane. And this one has a lot to teach me.

Last weekend was a 10 year-old's Shangri-La. Two birthday parties, photo session and a pedicure for her "graduation" (called "promotion" officially at the tiny school on our mountain).

First birthday party was a scavenger hunt at the mall. With cash and prizes. Second party was at the Fairmont. With swimming in the hotel and dinner at the fancy restaurant. (I'm going to interject here that I have never stayed at the Fairmont or eaten at said fancy restaurant, myself.)

Then the photo sessions. Two of them. For her dance classes.

Then off to the pedicure at the fancy new nail joint in town. Hers are purple with tropical flowers. Mine are pink-red. Wonderful by any standard.

When we got home she decided to bust out a Christmas gift that she hadn't touched since Christmas day. Because she needed to do something fun, I guess. Because life bores you when there aren't photographers standing by and teams of your friends swarming around you for extravagant fun every hour of the day.

When she started tearing the desk apart looking for the packaging from the gift we started arguing. And talking in circles. And I was trying to make her understand that when a package is opened in December, it is reasonable to assume that the packaging will be recycled some time before June. She was informing me that there was VERY important info on that packaging, and SOMEONE had better pony-up said packaging, or there was gonna be trouble.

I finally got fed up and said, "Look, just because you've had a weekend full of fabulous-ness doesn't mean you get to treat me like crap!"

This is where it gets ugly. Because I said "crap." And in my kid's eyes "crap" is a SERIOUS cuss word. SERIOUS. Seriously.

So she told me that I embarrass her sometimes. And other mom's don't cuss at their kids. And that she thinks that she is a better person than me.

What is a cussing addict to do?

I sent her to her room. Duh.

While she was in her room I invited her to be a little grateful for what she had and maybe even a little thankful for all that she is given every day.

And she cried. She felt bad. And she wrote me a lovely letter. Two pages about what a great mom I am and how I have always put her brother and her first, how she wants to be more like me and think about other people more than she currently does. Which, from my perspective, can't be all that hard.

So when we had a chance we talked. And I let her know that, sadly, she was stuck with me for a mom. But the good news was that she gets to know that her mom is a whole person. Not a Barbie, not a paper doll, but a flawed, imperfect, whole mommy/wife/daughter/friend. That what I want most in the world is not to to hand out guarantees that I will behave perfectly in each and every situation that I encounter, but rather that no matter where I go and what I do I will be loving her. And I will be her life long cheerleader no matter what. Even if she tells me that I suck and that she hates me. Even if she thinks that I am the most embarrassing person on the face of the Earth. Even if she wants to move away from me and never look back. I will love her. She will be in my heart and wherever I am she will have a safe place to come home to.

Even if I'm smoking and cussing and singing show tunes off-key while wearing fluffy slippers and a turquoise robe over my clothes.

Especially then.

5/20/2008

VOCAB FOR IDIOTS

Mom, have you ever heard of the word exaggerating?

Yes, son. I have

Am I using it right now?

Um, no. Not that I can tell.

Didn't I just say that Mac (our dog) is bigger than this house?

Why, yes. You did.

Well, there it is.


Moments later...


Mom, what is "flu."

Flu is short for the word influenza. The influenza virus is like a germ that makes people sick. When we suddenly get really sick we say we have the flu because it is a shortened version of the word influenza. Like a nic-name.

Oh. I thought it was like"to fly."

OK. Well, yes. There's that too.




5/11/2008

A TALE OF TWO MOTHERS

Saturday:

Mother's day for my mom. We went to my folks to spend the day. We went to lunch. We gave her a purple bike. And she loved it.

From there we took Maddy to her dance performance, Levi to his baseball game, grabbed some dinner and saw Speed Racer. We got home at nearly 11:00.

Which was far too late for me. And the kids. We were all exhausted.

Sunday:

Mother's day for me. I slept in until 8:00. I had my husband's famous eggs benedict. I opened beautiful cards and a fancy new crepe pan and crepe recipe book. Deliriously wonderful.

Then I climbed back in bed. I stayed there until 5:00. Audio book and Sunday paper, crap TV movies on LMN and laundry folding (because it is what I do with my hands while I watch crap television).

And it was just what I wanted.

The homemade kid cards:

Dear Mom,
I will love you forever,
And forever you will be,
The most wonderful mother,
You mean everything to me.

I thought of buying you flowers,
In the usual way, But, I knew you would prefer
A FOREVER BOUQUET!
- Love Levi
(Came with a paper bouquet that he made.)

Marvelous in every way
Over the top
Terrific at everything
Happiness wrapped up just for me
Everyone looks up to her
Reaches out and touches hearts
- Love Maddy, 2008
(Came on a rainbow painted watercolor card.)

Wishing all the wonderful mothers and all of the children of wonderful mothers a day for appreciating what you've got. And for those who feel they are lacking either or both of these, I wish you friends who love you and support you when you need it and even when you don't think you do.

Happy Mother's day from the La Familia Cupcake!

5/06/2008

MY AMERICAN LIFE

How lucky are we?

Life can be hard. It can be frustrating. It can be disappointing.

But then it gets good. If only for a day. If only for one breathtaking moment, it gets good.

If you can't watch This American Life on Showtime, I understand. Showtime is pricey.

But if you can, you really should. I highly recommend. This week's show is about a man finding independence and choice and beauty in the most extreme life circumstances.

And Johnny Depp spoke for him because he is not able to speak for himself. And I cried like a baby.

And I felt really good.

4/23/2008

STUFF AND OTHER THINGS

It all started with Stuff White People Like. Which cracks me right up. Particularly the ones on New Balance Shoes (my husband, who is not white, per se) and White Problems: Poorly Read Partners (Also my husband! I'm the poorly read one!).

Then I started reading other Stuff People Like.

Like Stuff Christians Like. Such as porn and crock pots. Yum.

And that led to Stuff Nobody Likes. And particularly the post on Grammar Nazis.

As it turns out, I am a poorly-read wannabe mini grammar Nazi. If that is even possible. I like learning about common grammar mistakes and shaming people for making them. For example, the phrase "for all intents and purposes" would be correct. If you are talking about "intensive purposes" you ought to be working in an ICU ward, with great purpose. Also, if you feel sick to your stomach, you are feeling nauseated. Not nauseous. Things that are nauseous cause nausea. It's a bit tricky. You'll get it after a while. I'll harp on you about it. Fun for everyone!

I have learned A LOT from the Grammar Girl podcast. Fun and smart and super short. You can listen from the site, or you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

Feel free to shame your friends and family with all the nuggets of delicious hyper-correctness you will find here.

My gift to you!

I DON'T KNOW MUCH, BUT I KNOW CRACK-HEADS WERE NOT ON THE INVITE LIST

If your family is big enough you’re gonna get some kooks. Happens to the best of us. All those unique (read: weird) people. But you love them. You know, like the Jesus freak. And the alcoholic with the 4 ex-wives (but you can only remember 3 of them, who the hell is this Irma that you all keep mentioning?). The Amway sales reps (doing their best to keep an Amway home!). And then there’s the grouchy drama-queen uncle. Who is not happy unless he has made someone cry.

The usual.

This weekend we had a big family gathering for my aunt and cousin, who flew in from neighboring states for a quick visit. My cousin was bringing her new husband, and I was thrilled to meet him. I opted not to go on my weekend retreat so I wouldn’t miss out.

And it was lovely. Really nice.

Right up until my crack-head cousin showed up with her crazy mother and gigantic children.

See, I have this very sweet uncle who really thought that if he invited said crack-head and her unusually large children that maybe, just maybe, she’d feel the love and decide to give up her evil ways want to get better and come back into the fold of regular human beings.

But here’s the rub. She was never in the realm of regular human beings. Doesn’t even know what that looks like. The secrets in her childhood home were big secrets. No really, BIG SECRETS. Big ones. And then there were all the lies required to cover them up. Really fucked up shit. No joke.

So, fast forward a couple of dozen years. And a failed intervention or two. Picture a lovely BBQ. Visiting and chatting. Noshing and drinking. A brisk but sunny California day. Celebrating with my lovely(ish) family. And then she walked in.

Fuck.

It’s not that I hate her. I don’t. It’s not that I don’t want her life to be better. I do. But coming to this party is not going to make it better. Not for us, and not for her. How could she help but feel different? How could she help but feel less than? Her breath stank of booze. Her clothes were visibly soiled. Her teeth (the remaining ones – formerly her proudest feature) were chipped and stained. She didn’t talk the way she used to, because she wouldn’t lift her upper lip to show her gnarled teeth. Also, her voice sounded at least an octave lower and was all scratchy. Like a 75 year old bar fly. With throat cancer.

But what really pissed me off was that suddenly everything was all about crack-girl. And it wasn’t supposed to be about her. It was supposed to be a lovely celebration and visit for the out-of-towners.

And isn’t it just like a crack-head to steal the measly family limelight.

So I’m just being a whiner. If I were a good Christian woman wouldn’t I invite her in with open arms? “Come right this way! We’ve more than enough food/clothes/money/booze to share! Please grace us with your delightful presence!”

But I don’t feel like that at all. I feel like telling my sweet and well intentioned uncle that the next time he wants to invite crack-heads to the family gathering I’m gonna punch him in the face.

And God bless us, every one…



(BTW - my mom and my brother LEFT THE PARTY just after the arrival of Cracky the Cousin of Delight. Left me and my dad there. Cause that is how they roll. Ass holes.)

4/17/2008

UGLY MOMMY SAYS "WTF??!!"

Interesting article about the new book, My Beautiful Mommy.

The book in question, My Beautiful Mommy, is a children's book. About when mommy goes in for "a little work." ON HER NOSE AND HER BOOBIES.

Kill me now.

4/09/2008

HOW DO I SUCK? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS

OK.

So I've been away. Here is what I have been doing:

Looking for a new job. Which means endless phone interviews, shopping for "live" interview clothes, maintaining my current workload, telling my husband that he has to be positive ('cause I can't handle ANY negativity or doubt), live interviewing, considering offer letters, accepting offer, submitting my resignation, receiving numerous totally sweet messages from my soon-to-be-ex co-workers, receiving numerous totally sweet messages from my soon-to-be-ex clients, mourning the end of an era of my life, looking forward to a totally new and exciting era of my life, and stressing out beyond belief.

I've been waking in the middle of the night with busy brain. Staying awake for 2 to 3 hours.

I'm exhausted. I'm at the end of my tether. I'm a "bit" of a fucking wreck.

So...

The other night my husband woke me when he came to bed. He was feeling "friendly." He hugged me. He kissed me.

"Hey," he whispered. "How are you? Looking for a good time?"

"Oh god. Please no." I said. "This is my own personal hell."

Yes. I said that. I don't actually recall saying that. I had to ask Rube in the morning what (completely rude thing) I said to him the night before. I knew I said something. I just couldn't remember what, exactly, it was.

He was happy to share. Which is great.

I was, of course, referring to being awakened from a (somewhat) restful sleep. Not to my loving husband's amorous advances.

I'm a total bitch.

What do you want from me?

3/24/2008

RICISM IN AMERICA

Him: The white rice and the brown rice can go in the same Tupperware, right?

Me: No. I want the brown rice separated.

Him (mumbling): ... pshish ... hurmph ... white woman's keepin' the brown rice down...

3/20/2008

NO RESPONSE NEEDED

Laughing until I blow snot out of my nose followed by mopping drool from my own chin is one of my all time favorite experiences.

Not always so much while I'm in the office, but I'll take it where I can get it.

I was reading all 8 parts of this post right here.

Happy Thursday. Grab a tissue for chin mopping if you are at all like me.

3/16/2008

I'M A LITTLE BIT IRISH

Or so says my mom. She was a Murphy before she married my father. *

* (Turns out I don't know how to spell her former last name. It is Murphey. But as I have given Murphy to my daughter as her middle name, we all have to deal with this spelling, too, now. Isn't that just like me - I'm such a shitty speller that I screw that up. Oh well. Live and learn and then stop having kids so you don't misspell any more family names.)

I have a daughter named Madigan.

My son is busily making a leprechaun trap.

Tomorrow we will dine on Irish soda bread and corned beef with yellow mustard and cabbage and carrots. (The trick is adding the cabbage for just the last 15 minutes. Just enough to soften the leaves, not enough to stink up your house.)

Happy St. Patty's Day to you and yours from the Cupcake Family.

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.

3/14/2008

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR





My friend Lisa sent these strange and wonderful old ads to me. And now I share them with you.

I'm now looking for the jaunty douche advertisements of yore and will post them as soon as I find them.

Can't wait!

3/11/2008

TALKIN 'BOUT MY BABIES (AND THE WAY THEY ATE)

I nursed both of my babies. For two years. Not two years total, two years a piece. Four years total.

Now is the time to judge me. Think disparaging thoughts, get that icky feeling and make a face. Go for it.

I'll wait.

whistling, polishing my nails, finding some schmutz under one nail, scraping it out with the ...

Oh, OK. We're back. Here we go.

Why do I even mention this, you ask? Well, this lady is hosting a little web event about the boob stories. And I thought - "Hey, my story might be as interesting as any other story about boobs. I should share!"

Where to begin? Well, at the beginning, I guess.

Madigan, my first born, was huge. Eleven pounds, one ounce. And following her birth (which finally came by C-section eleven days and endless hours of labor after her due date, thank the lord) she had a small heart duct closure problem which caused her to have a heart murmur. The treatment for this ailment was a course of medication that tended to constrict the intestines and so NO FOOD FOR HER. I nursed my baby exactly once before they took her 5 floors below me to the NICU and started sticking IVs into her head and starving her.

I always wanted to nurse (plus I was hopped-up on drugs), so I strapped on the double-turbo hospital pump and went to town. My milk came in. Sweet. Bags of milk collected in the freezer of the NICU over the next few days. I was waiting for the go ahead from the doctors to feed my baby and we would be off!

Funny thing - the doctors released her to eat one night while I was at home sleeping. And the nurses fed her a bottle. A couple of them, actually. In the 7 hours I was away from the hospital Madigan ate 2 times. From a bottle.

I had no idea what that was to mean in my life. Honestly, when I heard the news I was fine with it. My poor baby had been starved by those mean doctors and I was just so grateful that she'd eaten and that she was keeping it down. And then I tried to feed her myself. Holy shit.

Imagine this, you have an ice cold bottle of Coca Cola on a very hot day. You tilt your head back and lift that thing up and the soda slides right down. It is so delicious and satisfying. The perfect beverage for that moment. Now imagine that your mother walks up to you with that same soda goodness (maybe even better, like Cherry Coke!) but she is serving it to you in a beach ball. Seriously, a beach ball. You have to open your mouth super wide and squeeze it out of one tiny, stupid hole and it's running all over your face and you can't seem to get a mouth full. That would suck, huh? Cherry Coke would maybe not be your favorite, right?

This was my daughter's experience with breast milk from my breast. The nurses had brought her this perfect, fast and convenient milk delivery system. She sucked that shit right down. I, on the other hand, came at her with two "E" cup sized rock-hard torpedoes. And she was pissed. Not having it, I tell you. And I was so guilt ridden about my hospitalized, starving, HUGE baby that I caved. I gave in and gave her the bottle.

The next few weeks were a blur of feeding nightmares. Of me sticking Maddy on my breast for as long as I could tolerate the writhing and screaming, and then caving in and giving her the bottle, followed by me pumping all of that milk out for the next feeding, and then changing my clothes (which were now sopping wet from all the milk that sprayed out of my chest during the festivities). Midnight feedings took two hours for these reasons. I wanted to be a good mom, but this feeding bullshit, nipple-confusion thing wasn't helping. But when it came down to it I really wanted to nurse, so I wasn't giving up. Or I was fucking mental. One of those.

Madigan eventually latched on and I had a very successful nursing career with both kids. And I really must interject that at no time did I plan on nursing for two years. I just kept hitting the regular weaning milestones (3, 6, 9 months, etc...) and asking myself, "Am I done? I don't think so."

When it was all said and done I weaned my kids when they could talk. When they both had mouths full of teeth and could eat corn on the cob and steak dinners. When they could (at least partially) dress themselves and go for walks and were whole people. I am not saying it is the right thing for all families. I am saying it was the right thing for mine.

And I'm so glad I was able to figure that out for myself.

3/09/2008

DELICIOUS SUNDAY, FILLED WITH GOOEY HOPE AND PROMISE

Boy child started little league. For the first time. We are quite proud.

Girl child continues in her dance career and has recently started Girls on the Run for the third year.

And double report card awesomeness for this most recent trimester. Sweet.

Husband just got a new big manly truck. He's proud as a peacock.

When all is good with my peeps I find that I have more room in my life for things to be good for me. I have yet to manage the "I'm OK even if my family is is in turmoil" zen-masterness thing.

So, that being said, I had the most wonderful day today. I'm still in my jammies, I read and did crossword puzzles and planned for my future and cooked.

I will say that there is change in the air for my life. And that has brought with it some anxiety. But today, this precious day, has been lovely. And in the midst of imagining parts of my life differently, I found I could be peaceful.

And thankful.

2/28/2008

TRASHY 80S MOVIES THAT MAKE ME SMILE

Valley Girl - Julie, a girl from the valley, meets Randy, a punk from the city. This is when Nicholas Cage was a huge-nosed, young and lanky, sexy outsider worthy of my young lust. Long before the "Peggy Sue" nasally voice debacle and the flabby middle aged guy who named his kid Superman. Freak.

This movie also introduced me to magic of Deborah Foreman. Pure 80s B movie queen. Heaven.

A few of Deborah's other movies are:
Real Genius - With young and sexy Val Kilmer. Yum.
My Chauffeur - Rich girl takes a job as a chauffeur. Hilarity ensues. Seriously fucking funny.
April Fool's Day - Deborah plays murderous twins. On a remote island. With all of her sex hungry college friends. Sweet.

On another AWESOME 80s note - Suzanna Hoffs (yes, from the Bangles) stars in The Allnighter. With Michelle Pfeiffer's little sister and Joan Cusack. Drunken adventures with sexy stupid guys.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension - This might be the very best one of all. Not so much with the sex. Buckaroo is a neurosurgeon, a rock star and an inter-dimensional crime fighter. Peter Weller sexy as hell, Ellen Barkin back when she was hot, with aliens and Rastafarians.

Cue popcorn. Milk duds. Big ass coke.

Mmmmmmm.

2/21/2008

CAN YOU SPARE A RAINBOW SPRINKLE?

What to do?

I have lots to say on so many taboo subjects. Religion, faith, the lack thereof, politics, candidates, the lack thereof, drugs and parenthood, all sorts of sexual deviance - you know, fun stuff.

But really, why? I'm no expert. I can't claim to offer anything more than a regurgitated tidbit on any of these subjects. I should just shut my pie hole.

And so this is where I am. Full of nonsense. Not saying anything that is really going on because I am not ready. Because it is somehow not safe. Because.

Bottom line - I would really enjoy a donut or 6 right about now. Sadly, I have none.

2/14/2008

MY KIND OF CONVERSATION HEARTS



You can learn how to make these yourself, as well as many other lovely Valentine treats over at Brownie Points.

You're welcome.

2/13/2008

THANKING MY LUCKY STARS

For my husband. Who loves me. Every day. Every way. Every weight. Every flavor of crazy. And even if he doesn't, he never says it out loud.

For never, ever, having to scratch or beg or yearn for the approval of my parents. I know people who have spent decades in therapy who will probably never feel like they have it. And here I am, swimming in a big pool of love and approval. More like a lake. An ocean, really.

For my brother. Who could easily make me blow milk out of my nose from laughing. That is if I were a milk drinker. Which I am most certainly not. But you get my point. He's the one I'd like to have with me if I got trapped in an elevator for 6 hours. And that, my friends, is not something I would want from almost anyone else on the planet. Certainly not anyone already mentioned in this post.

For my friends. Who are supporting and encouraging me through such a strange and hard time right now. Who say things so sweet that I don't even know how to believe what they are saying. But I try, because I love them so.

For my neighbors. Who are wonderfully wonderful. And who dork out on the wonderfullness of having great neighbors just as much as I do.

And finally, for my kids. I have no words for all the breathtaking gratitude I feel for them.

On this day, the eve of Valentines Day, I give you my heart. For I have no greater gift to give.

2/04/2008

SO FRESH, SO CURRENT

Did everyone watch the Superbowl Half Time Show?

Or did you, maybe, take a nap?

OR, did you accomplish both thanks to the snooze fest that was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' lackluster performance on the heart shaped stage?

What the hell happened? Who booked that show? Couldn't they come up with anyone who had a hit in THIS MILLINIUM? Is it possible that Def Leppard was booked elsewhere? Was Jefferson Airplane already committed to a big performance in Branson, Missouri? Are ZZ Top too busy fighting amongst themselves to make it to the BIGGEST SINGLE AUDIENCE FOR A MUSICAL PERFORMER ALL YEAR?

Please tell me this is not what the future holds.

I'm sure Tom Petty is fine. A lovely musician with lots of fans. All over the age of 55. And all still rocking it hard in their own "Baby Boomers Gone Wild" way. Sheesh.

2/03/2008

I'M NOT A FAN

Today is the Superbowl. For me this is a day for laundry and catching up on my reading and a big wonderful breakfast (bacony-cheezy waffles, sauteed apples and fresh eggs from our neighbor's chickens). I really could not care less about the football.

But my husband (24 year football coach and former player himself) is a fan of the sport. So we will watch.

And by "we" I mean "not me."

This year the kids are old enough to pay attention plus I like all the pools and betting that can go on around the game so I requested that Rube put together a big list of bets for us to make (coin toss, first team to score each quarter, last team to score each quarter, score at the end of each quarter, etc...). Rather than betting our own money there will be poker chip payouts for each win and at the end both kids will get a prize, no matter what. Fun! That's the kind of crap I can get on board with! Woo-hoo!

Since we are dedicating our day to the big game I thought I'd do a kid interview. Nothing too hard, I just want to see where they fall along the spectrum from SUPERFAN to non-fan.

Superbowl Interview

Who is playing?
Madigan - Giants and the Patriots.
Levi - Um, Giants and Picksberg? Was I right? Oh, Patriots.

Who are you hoping will win?
Madigan - Giants. Why? Because... um... didn't the Patriots win last year?
Levi - Um, I'll go Giants.

What are you looking most forward to today?
Madigan - The games (pools and betting) and seeing if I'll win any prizes. (that's my girl)
Levi - Having friends over. (no friends) Family over? (no one is coming) OK, having a day just to us. (looking bummed while saying the right thing)

Risotto or Chicken Mirabella tonight?
Madigan - That's part of the interview? Why? Chicken Mirabella. Whatever.
Levi - What's risotto and what's Chicken Mirabella? (explanation) I'll have the thing before Chicken Mirabella. Yeah, risotto.

Anything else you'd like to say?
Madigan - No.
Levi - Nothing. OK is that it? 'Cause I really want to go back to Zoom.

Turns out they are a bit like me after all. Hmm.

1/29/2008

WATCHA WATCHIN?

Are you watching 30 Rock?

I wasn't.

I've got enough shows. Great shows. Too many great show. Shows like Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Life, Heroes, Dexter, and the list goes on (thank you, Tivo). Who has time for a new show?

Not me. No way. I would have to cut out sleeping and parenting all together.

Actually, the real reason I didn't watch 30 Rock is because I liked the other show about the Saturday Night Live-esque variety show by the amazing writer of the political show that makes me want to be a better American. And I wanted to be loyal and show my support for the totally superior show. Which was a great choice.

So that show is cancelled now.

And then the writers strike happened. And all of my shows stopped. ALL of them. Every single one.

So, I've been trying on some new shows. And I've found a couple of keepers.

The L Word is wonderful and edgy and dramatic and I have a full fledged crush on this lesbian right here.

But the FIND OF THE MILLENNIUM (I exaggerate - it is probably just the FIND OF THE CENTURY) is 30 Rock.

I can't say enough about how wonderful Tina Fey is. And Alec Baldwin (whom I don't even like so I could not possibly have had lower expectations) is quirky and funny and kind and totally worth watching. The entire cast is so likable and sweet.

The topper - Netflix now offers all of their customers unlimited "watch instantly" time at their site. So if you are a customer you can log in and watch the entire first season back to back. And laugh until you cry. And blow snot out of your nose describing the funny to your significant other.

Seriously, don't miss it.

1/27/2008

BUSY TAKING CARE OF ME

Which can look a lot like avoidance.

I'm going to chalk it up to the post holiday let down.

Right now I am watching the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. It is a complete sob fest. Even the commercials. Good god. Those people know how to wring out a tear.

I'm getting back into the swing of things.

1/21/2008

EVERYDAY IS A HOLIDAY WITH YOU

Happy day off.

I am watching snow fall. Right this minute on my little mountain it is snowing. And snow is always so exciting for us. Exciting and cold. And slippery. Often without electricity and water. But very exciting overall. Yea!

Fires are raging. My family is with me. I am happy.

Here are a few links to some healthy recipe sites. I have been eating poorly this week. Time to get inspired again and since I found these I'll share them with you.

delicious living mag
healthycooking.suite101
epicurious
healthy eating made easy
a weight lifted

Enjoy!

1/14/2008

1/10/2008

TOMORROW WILL BE HARD PRESSED TO IMPROVE ON THIS DAY

Madigan started dance classes this week. She has been dancing forever, literally since she was two. This year Maddy is starting late (January instead of September) because she had a play earlier in the year with a relentless practice schedule. No room for dance on the family calendar.

So, tonight was her first time at the ballet class she'd picked out. Good size. Good age range. New teacher. She went in at 6:15 feeling good. I told her I would return in an hour.

I went to look at furniture at a nearby store. Just killed some time. Made my way back to the studio. Sat myself down in the waiting room to start watching her class on the CC television.

Oh no. I could tell the instant I laid eyes on her. Maybe it was the way her shoulders were scrunched up so high; maybe it was her eyes as big as saucers; maybe it was just that way a mother knows when her child is not OK. I'm not sure what tipped me off but I KNEW that she was freaking out. On the verge of losing her shit.

At 7:15 on the dot she ran from the room. Ran. She bolted. None of the other girls did. I asked her when she got to the lobby, "Is the class over?"

"I don't know. I'm never going back there. Let's go!"

I started in with the "Wait a minute. What's going on? What happened?" but she would not talk until I got her to the car. And then she was crying over her talking and so I had to take it to the next level. I called in backup.

Over New York Cheesecake (for her) and low fat, no sugar added Berries n Bananas (for me) we discussed the situation. She HATED the class. New teacher Nickoli (Russian trained ballet dancer himself) was not, as it turned out, mean. He corrected her endlessly because SHE COULDN'T DO what he was asking her to do. The stretches and poses he asked her to hold were so hard they were painful in the extreme. No matter what, even with extra help, even with lots of time to come up to speed, she didn't want to be in this class anymore. End of discussion.

And I told her it was OK. And it was.

Until we got home. To my husband, her father, the 24 year football coach, that guy. Remember him?

Good times.

Needless to say, there were more tears. Needless to say, I was frustrated. To be fair, so was he. I've always taken a different view of sports and extra curriculars (or as I like to call them, "hobbies") than his. We do not see eye to eye. He believes, deeply, in the power of the team dynamic. How "rising to the occasion" by "pushing past the pain" can be so "character building."

That may be true, however I don't think any of those things applied to this situation.

I'm going to have to interject here that being a quitter was not OK in my home as a child. If I signed up for something I was expected to complete the season, year, session or whatever. I also have to interject that this knowledge made me not want to sign up for stuff. Cause I would rather sit on my ass and watch TV than try something new if it turned out that I hated it and had to suffer through endless weeks of torture.

So, what ended up happening was Maddy and her father talked. I broke it up for a bit so she could shower, during which time I tried to manipulate Ruben into thinking like me, failed miserably and finally gave up. When I was tucking Maddy in I asked her what she thought about her talk with her dad.

"It was OK." she said. "I know Daddy really wants me to take the class. But I told Daddy that even though I know that this class might be good for me, I really don't think it is the best for me. And he said that was OK."

I told her I was so proud of her for standing up for herself.

And now I know that this day was a pretty good day after all.

1/07/2008

I SMELL THEREFORE I AM

No electricity. For over 72 hours. Water coming from 2.5 gallon jugs.

Good times, let me tell you.

Today we miraculously have electricity, hot water, internet and all is right with the world.

Jealous? I thought you would be...

1/04/2008

BIG STORMS MEAN THE KIDS ARE ON EDGE, INVENTING WORDS

We are having huge storms on and around my little mountain right now. The winds are getting up to 90 mph. Electricity is out (except when the generator is running, which will not be for long) and very loud winds are whipping through the cracks in the house and knocking over patio furniture.

At one point a big piece of furniture fell over with a very loud CLANG on the deck and shook the house quite a bit. We all stopped to look for the tree that we imagined had fallen through the roof.

Once we realized we were all safe, Levi said "That FROKE us OUT!"

Well said, my son.

1/03/2008

NEVER GIVE IN. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER.

I am morally opposed to New Year's resolutions.

I hate the idea of them. I hate the pressure to become a better person or strive for excellence at exactly the same time that I know I will be writing the date incorrectly for the next 3 months. What's the point? Who needs it?

Also, arbitrary dates dictating change are never effective in my life. Change comes when I am ready for change. And that is rarely when I am totally exhausted and recovering from the end of the year madness known as the holidays.

So, it's the new year. 2008 is a couple days old. So far, so good. I will not, intentionally, be doing anything different today than I did last week just because the calendar has switched over. If I do something new it will be because I spontaneously want to do something new.

Here is a short list of the things that I will continue to do well into 2008 and probably beyond, proudly or otherwise:

1. I will continue to cuss like a truck driver or a sailor or whatever stereotype known for cussing a lot. I love it. I don't make it a practice to cuss in front of my kids, however my kids know that these choice words (these wonderful words - some of my favorites really) that they may hear from time to time are NOT FOR THEM. My kids don't get to use those words. It is not their option or their choice. Shucks, darn and gosh are the expletives that they get to choose from. Have at it. More power to ya. I'll be using mine. And loving them.

2. I will continue to wear high heels. I have several pairs of pants that will be rendered unwearable if they aren't worn with heels. I know my back and feet will pay the price. Now is not the time to cut my wardrobe in half.

3. I will continue to talk to my doggies like they are mildly retarded infants. I find it impossible to use an adult voice when I am alone with them. I make up words and phrases that would be considered embarrassing in nearly every other instance in my life. Phrases like "Duh da ma Cal!" and "Ooda mooda shmooda shmoo."

4. I will continue to let my children come into my bed in the middle of the night. I decided a LONG time ago that my kids sometimes need their parents outside of the "regular parenting hours" and I am OK with that, especially as a mom who has worked outside of the home. It has, of course, led to the infamous "What are you doing?" exchange with Levi as he stood next to our bed while Ruben and I were, ahem, visiting with one another. And the extremely embarrassing explanation that I made, "This is how Mommy and Daddy love one another sometimes." Oh, lordy. Rube loved that one. We should probably move on...

5. I will continue to eat delicious and totally unhealthy foods. For the past few months I have been limiting the frequency and amount, but the deal is that I will always know the "points value" of a chocolate doughnut. And when I want one I will have one. Or two. Or someone will die. It's really that simple.

6. I will continue to hang out with my girls. Poker, Catch Phrase, lunches, movies. All of it. I have read about intimate relationships where one partner isolates the other one until they have no friends or confidants and no one with whom to seek counsel. It is actually a big indicator of domestic violence. Well my friends, worry not! No DV here. Ruben doesn't want me sitting around obsessing about him. He likes me better when I have a life outside of our immediate family. And more importantly so do I.

7. I will continue to think my family of origin are the best in the whole entire world. I know that many other families are lovely families with wonderful ways of celebrating and communicating and loving one another. I just believe mine is the best. So there you have it.

8. I will continue to smoke. I actually want to quit again soon but as I am focusing on a couple of other healthy behaviors right now that take prominence I am buying myself a little more time.

9. I will continue to blog. I thought about quitting, but as you can well see I'm not a very good quitter.

10. I will continue to brag shamelessly about my amazing and wonderful children. In fact, I'll talk up my whole fantastic family. Deal with it.

And I will never, ever purposely quit anything on January 1.

Unless I change my mind.