Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Some years ago -- at least 4 -- I created an account at a website that sends out birthday reminders for anyone whose birthday you want to remember.  I put in everyone I know, or at least whose birthdays I know.  And then promptly forgot about it and never logged in again.

So now I get these reminders from time to time to send birthday cards or emails or whatever when someone whose information I entered has a birthday coming up.

This morning I got an email reminding me that my grandmother Ruth's birthday is next week.  She would have been 92 on October 4.  (I got one for Leo around his birthday as well.)

It still feels strange to not have my maternal grandparents around, when they were such a big part of my life until my late 30s.  Even when I didn't see them as often as I wanted to, I talked to them all the time.  Even when they weren't with me, they were with me.

So I guess I could log on to that website and update the information.  But I don't want to.  I like remembering.

Grandma Ruth with baby me (2 1/2 months old).  We were living in Cyprus (where I was born)
 and my grandparents came over to meet me.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dear 2-year old monkey

Dearest Josie, my little bean, you turned 2 years old this past Saturday.  And man, are you going through some major changes.  After transitioning into your new class (the Dippers) over the past couple of weeks, today was the big day that when we went into school, I dropped you off in Miss Jessica's class instead of with Miss Cindy and Miss Francine.  To say that you were not happy about this, despite having had a grand time in Miss Jessica's class during your recent visits, would be a gross understatement.  You cried and cried and reached for me when I left in a way you never do when you go to school.  But you're a tough little cookie, not one to dwell on the negative, and I'm sure that after 10 minutes you were your normal smiling self again. 

It's hard to believe how big you're getting.  Of course, "big" is a relative term, because you're still the peanut-iest little peanut who ever peanutted.  Though you're tall-ish for your age, you're barely on the weight chart, yet to crack the 23 pound mark while your contemporaries are approaching the high 20s and even low 30s.  But you are coordinated and agile, so even though you're a bitty thing, your confidence of movement and your level of comfort in your body makes you seem older.  Plus you're fearless when it comes to physical endeavors, so we know you'll master the Skuut that Daddy and I got you for your birthday in no time.

Though you could use an extra inch or two of leg.

Your birthday itself was a blast, and we're thrilled that you had so much fun at your party.  We kept it mellow and did it at the house, but we rented a bouncy house and your friends came over and you jumped and colored and played and giggled.  Just as it should be.

You were a bit overwhelmed when everyone started singing to you, even though "Happy Birthday" is one of your favorite songs.
The art activities included drawing on your face and arms.  But you're still gorgeous.
Sidewalk chalks - the perfect end to a perfect party.

Last night we concluded the weekend by snuggling in the bed in your room as I sang you to sleep.  But you weren't that interested in sleeping right away, so we had some hilarious exchanges.

"Song about 'raff, Mama?"

"You want me to sing you a song about a giraffe?"


"Um... I don't know any giraffe songs.  How about other animals?"

So you started to name other animals.  "Turtle.... elephant ... lion..."

"Hmm, songs about a lion..." I said.

And when I said "lion," you said, "RROAAWRR!"

We giggled and roared at each other.

Then a light bulb moment.  "I know a song about a frog!"

So I started to sing Froggy Went A-Courtin'. 

Mr. Froggy went a-courtin' and he did ride, mm-hmm, mm-hmm...

And when I mentioned Mr. Froggy, you said, "ribbit, ribbit."

Which made me laugh and feel the need to give you a squeeze at the same time. 

I kept singing. 

He said, 'Miss Mouse would you marry me, mm-hmm, mm-hmm...

And upon hearing the word "mouse," you said, "squeak, squeak..."

We continued in that vein for awhile, and finally you settled down.

"Night-night, JoJo," I whispered as I put you in your crib.

"Night-night, Mama," you whispered back, and you rolled over and went to sleep.

I love you like crazy, my brave, tough, funny, sweet little girl.  I feel privileged that you're my daughter and that I get to continue to watch you grow and change over the coming years.



Monday, September 19, 2011

Milestones and realizations

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.  William Blake."
      "Whaddaya mean, 'William Blake'?!?"                                                
        "I mean, 'WILLIAM BLAKE'!"                                                            
-- Annie Savoy and Crash Davis in Bull Durham.

By the time they hit my age, most people have a fairly set concept of themselves -- what they're like, their defining characteristics, who they are.  And I am certainly no exception.

But like most people, my self-assessment is undoubtedly skewed.  I cultivate an aura of confidence and brashness, sometimes to the point of starting to believe my own hype.  But in truth I am far less confident than I project to the world.  And for all my snarkiness, I detest detached irony and am far more sentimental and earnest than I tend to let on.

I mention this because I have recently been making a concerted effort to get control of my life -- to figure out what parts of it make me happy, what parts don't, what priorities and goals I want to achieve, and how. And the way I have gone about figuring this out and taking steps to move forward are so unlike me -- or at least, unlike the type I play in my head -- that it's kind of freaking me out a little bit.  But in a good way.

I am so not the type to read self-help or personal development type books.  In addition to the fact that I'm a literature snob, and books like that tend to be horribly pedestrian in their writing style, my sense has always been that there really isn't anything new under the sun and that in order to achieve your goals, just decide what you want to do and do it.  I don't need anybody to tell me that.  And all the rah-rah bullshit -- or what I perceive to be rah-rah bullshit -- of people like Tony Robbins or whoever is so not me.

But.  But but but but but...

Sometimes the trick isn't just knowing that in order to get somewhere, you have to figure out your direction and then start the journey.  It's clearing away all the clutter in your head and getting organized enough to even find the road.  Or the car.  And that's where I was having trouble.

What with the kids being as young and demanding as they are, and J working nights for the past 7 weeks or so, and work being crazy and money being tight and trying to manage a full-time job while also trying to figure out how to grow my Beachbody business, to say that I have been a bit harried and overwhelmed over the past few months would be a laughable understatement.  But something had to give, because I was starting to feel the cold clutch of a depressive cycle in my chest, and every time J did something even slightly irritating I was mentally dividing up the household effects and preparing myself for single-parenthood, and I was grumpy with my children and generally exhausted.

So in a flurry of, "aw, what the hell, it can't hurt," I signed up for a 30-day organize-your-life-and-achieve-your-goals challenge run by Chalene Johnson, the woman who created and leads a lot of the workout videos I do.  Starting September 1, every day I have gotten an email from her and watched a video on how to get organized and get successful and happy.  She starts with the basics -- think about what your priorities are.  Write them down.  Then think about what your goals are for the next year.  Are they realistic?  Measurable?  Consistent with your priorities?  Write them down.  Then put them in order, with the biggest, most important one at the top -- the one that makes all the other goals possible.  Write it down.  Then brainstorm about what you would need to do to achieve the goal.  Do you need to do research?  Go to school?  Whatever you need to do, write it down.  Then develop to-do lists, with one or two steps included every day to take you a little closer to achieving your goal.

And so on.  None of this is revolutionary, rocket-science type of stuff.  But having someone slowly and methodically take me through the steps in a way that doesn't overwhelm me was apparently just what I needed.

So I've been doing it.  I keep a notebook that I use to jot stuff down -- my goals, what I want to do when, anything that's on my mind or that somehow relates to my "push" goal (the one that will make my other goals possible).  Every night I do some free-form writing of things to add to my list, and then I transfer the list to my phone, which also syncs with the same list on my computer.  I check it multiple times a day and schedule my days so that everything has a block of time.

You know what?

I feel fucking awesome.  Writing everything down this way takes it out of my head.  So I have it, but it's not stressing me out, because I know it's written down and I'm taking care of everything.  I've become insanely productive.  My 9-to-5 is going great, and I'm taking the Beachbody business forward in a way that will be a decent second income without it feeling like a second job.  I'm happy with my children and my husband again (and the fact that J is now back on days doesn't suck either).  And I feel like I have some direction, and that I know what that direction is.  I don't feel remotely depressed.  In fact, I'm downright cheerful most of the time.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still going to be the same sarcastic bitch you've come to know.  I will never be one of those people that posts tweets or Facebook status updates consisting of inspiring quotes by William Blake or whomever.

But I will be (slightly) less judgmental of those who do.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Her father's daughter

After telling J this morning not to pick the kids up in my car because of the busted key, of course he completely spaced out and picked up the kids in my car, only to have the key crap out on him when he tried to come home.  So they walked home (it's maybe a mile), with Zeke riding his Skuut that he happened to have with him because he took it to school for Show & Tell.

Josie is always very happy to see me when she comes home from school.  She's an affectionate little thing, always giving the kids in her class kisses in the morning when she comes in, coming up to me for random hugs here and there, and leaning in for a kiss just because.  So she walked in the door, threw her arms up and gave me a big squeeze.  "Mama," she sighed.

"That's my girl," I said, giving her a hug and a kiss.  "I love you, sweet pea.  Did you have a good day at school?"

We went over and sat on the couch, where I was watching the final minutes of the U.S. Open men's final.

"Elmo?" she said.

"Sure, honey."  So we settled in to watch Elmo.

She stood up facing me on my lap, threw her arms around my neck and buried her face in my shoulder.  My little snuggle bug.

"I bounce!"  she said, as she jumped around on my lap.  Then she crawled over to look at something on the side table, leaning over with her booty in my face.

And promptly ripped a long, rumbling fart.

"I toot, Mama!"

She was so proud.

"That's my girl," J said.

He'll get no argument from me.

My petite little (stinky) flower.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's because I'm Jewish, isn't it?

Dear Mercedes:

I've been driving one of your cars for a long time.  Almost 10 years.  And I love her.  She's good to me.  She could use a paint job, but she's still pretty.  She holds my family comfortably. 

And I finally learned how to drive her in the snow, so we're all good.

But seriously, what the fuck is up with the key?

It's like I'm cursed or something. 

The first one lasted 6 years.  But then Zeke bit it or something and it just died.  So I got a new one.

Which I dropped down an elevator shaft.  But I recovered it.  And granted, it wasn't your fault, but the fact that I couldn't just get a new key cut kind of sucked.

Then it started acting funny.  The panic button would suddenly activate without my touching it. 

Then when we were at Monkey Bizness last weekend, it died altogether.  So I was stuck at Monkey Bizness with two tired children.  We took the bus home.  We went to Walgreen's and bought new batteries.

I hate you with the passion of a thousand white-hot suns.
And even though every time I tried to open the key, some other part of it broke or fell off, I got it open and got the new batteries in and got home.

But it's still been acting up.  The panic button is still seemingly possessed.  Sometimes the key works and sometimes it doesn't.

Which is annoying.

This morning I took the kids to school.  When I went back to the car after taking them to their classrooms, the key, which had been working fine, was dead.  When I tried to open it to look at the batteries, it fell apart in my hands.  I sat there futzing with it, fuming that after a week off, I was going to be late for work on my first day back. 

I finally got it to work and got home. 

But I'm not risking using it again.  Meaning I have to shell out $200 for another key.

Your cars are beautiful.  They drive like a dream.  I fell safe in them. 

But your keys fucking suck.  Honestly, sometimes the old technology -- an actual fucking metal key that you put in the ignition and then turn -- is the way to go. 

I'm starting to take it personally.  You are a German company, after all.

Just wanted to let you know. 



Friday, September 02, 2011

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

Maybe this will be me some time next week.  I just need to learn how to waterski.
It's been kind of a crazy week.  My family survived the hurricane just fine.  I met up with my Denver sorority sisters for a little pool party, which was fun.  I'm trying to figure out what to do for Josie's birthday, which is on September 24, and then for Zeke's birthday, which is a month later.  Josie's can be low-key because she's not quite at the age where she really gets what a birthday is, but I still want to do something fun for her.  Maybe rent a jumping castle and just invite some friends over for cake and ice cream. 

Then yesterday was the big launch of P90X2, the follow-up program to P90X.  It's a huge deal for Beachbody, the company I rep, so in my spare time (i.e., after the kids are asleep) I've been watching webinars to learn about it and reading up on the new training methods it incorporates and then writing blog posts and scheduling stuff on HootSuite to go up on Facebook and Twitter (and I know my posts have been numerous and repetitive -- sorry about that).  But I've already gotten some advance orders, so it's kind of cool.  Seriously, all you athletes out there, this program is gonna be the shiz, so if you're interested, click here or send me an email.  I'm sort of nervous because it looks so tough, but also kind of psyched to see how hard I can push myself at the ripe old age of 41. 

But now I'm (almost) on vacation.  The office is closed on Monday for Labor Day, and next Friday is a flex day, so I decided to take off Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for an entire week off.  I'm not going anywhere, just staying at home and cleaning out closets and maybe painting a room and exercising and reading and going to the movies in the middle of the day or meeting friends for lunch and just relaxing.  I haven't had a "staycation" since I was between jobs last November.  And that wasn't even paid time off, so this is going to be even better!

Just a few more hours....