Thursday, December 20, 2012


I am a realist.  I grew up in countries around the world and was, from an early age, exposed to war (Israel and El Salvador), extreme poverty (India and Papua New Guinea), the ravages of Cold War totalitarianism (Romania).  I have a positive outlook on life, but I harbor no illusions about what life is like for many, many people in the world (i.e., nasty, brutish and short).

I actually think things are far better now than they have ever been.  Advances in medicine, advances in civil rights, social safety nets, a reduced crime rate -- they all contribute to make our lives, particularly here in America, pretty good, on average, and certainly as compared to 100 or 200 or 1000 years ago.

Of course, bad things happen all the time.  Human beings suffer all the time.  But life is for the living, so I try to keep my head up and do the best that I can for myself and my family, without letting negativity weigh me down.

So I'm surprised that I'm continuing to have such a hard time dealing with the school shooting in Connecticut.  It's perfectly normal to be sad and horrified, and to want societal changes that will reduce the likelihood of that kind of mass-killing to recur.  And I'm not suddenly worried for my children's safety in any heightened sense -- I don't worry about them being at school, or playing outside.

But when I close my eyes, I see a classroom filled with bullet-riddled teachers who have tried in vain to protect bullet-riddled children.  It's an image I can't shake.  It's an image that feels so real to me.  I feel a cold clutch in my chest, a desperate desire to turn back the clock so that this unimaginable horror could be undone.

I've never been this affected by an event that I wasn't personally connected to.  I'm haunted by it.  I'm not sleeping very much.  I'm constantly on the verge of tears.

Maybe because I have small children, including one who is so close in age to the 6 and 7 year-olds who were so senselessly slaughtered.  I have a sense of what was truly lost.

When I come home from work and walk in the door, the kids are usually on the couch hanging out or watching a dinosaur documentary or something, winding down from their day and waiting for me.  And every time I enter the house, I hear excited shouts of "Mama!!"  Zeke is usually naked, because he tends to be when he is in the house, but it still makes me laugh every time.  And he will run up to me and jump into my arms and tell me about his day.

"All green today, Mama!"*

"Me too, Mama!  I had an all green day too!"  Josie exclaims.

"That is outstanding, way to go!"

And they'll chatter and tell me whatever is on their minds and ask me to come and snuggle with them and give me hugs and kisses and tell me how much they love me.

It's the best part of my day.

I find myself imbuing these littlest moments with such significance, as if each were the last, like I'm trying to make up for what the poor parents of the murdered children can no longer do.

Today is Zeke's last day of school before going on Christmas break for 2 1/2 weeks, and his class is doing pajama day.  He'll be going to school with Josie tomorrow for her last day before break, and her class is doing pajama day as well.

This is the greatest thing in the world to Zeke.

"Mama, I am so, so lucky.  I get to do two pajama days in a row!"

This morning, we put him in his adorable footie PJs with the sports balls all over them, and he couldn't stop grinning. He was so excited he was practically vibrating.   He was about as happy as he could be, and it was infectious, which meant that everyone around him got to feel the joy of being 5 years old and getting to hang out with your friends in your pajamas all day, playing games and watching movies and being silly.

He's not the only lucky one.  I am as well, as is every parent out there who gets to enjoy their children for another day.

I just wish I could get those horrible images out of my head.

*The kids in his class are on a green/yellow/red behavior system.  "Green" means behavior is great and all privileges are in place. Josie's school has no such system, but she has adopted it for herself nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Working through the universal taboos, one at a time...

The other day the subject of marriage and weddings came up.  Since J and I got together, we have done an annual yearbook on Kodakgallery (or Shutterfly now, since they bought KG this year), so we have a nice series of photobooks chronicling our life together.  The kids love looking at them, especially pictures of themselves as babies, and pictures from our weddings.

Zeke and Josie were looking through the books and talking amongst themselves.  They then declared that they had an announcement to make.

"Mama," Zeke said, "when I grow up and Josie grows up and we're both grown-ups, I'm going to marry her."

"You're going to marry Josie?"  I asked.

"Yes.  I'm going to marry Josie."

"You can't marry Josie."

"Why not?"

"Because you can't marry your sister."


"You just can't.  It's against the law.  It's one of those things you just can't do.  Plus it's weird.  If you marry someone, you have to marry someone outside of your family."

We went back and forth about this for a while.  He seemed unconvinced.

Josie said, "OK, then I'll marry Juliette [one of the girls in her class].  Because she's tall."

"That sounds great.  If you get older and decide you want to marry Juliette, you can.  It'll probably be legal everywhere by then."

A couple of days later, J and Josie were sitting on the couch together, being snuggly and cute.  Josie said, "Mama, I don't want to marry Juliette anymore.  I want to marry Daddy."

I considered whether to base my response on the incest or the polygamy angle.  And then decided that no response was necessary.  She lives with the man and has seen how he eats, dresses and farts.  She'll change her mind soon enough.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What is there to say?

On Friday morning, I was at the doctor's office, taking Josie for her 3 year physical.  She was pronounced healthy and smart and wonderful and beautiful and surprisingly tall.  She got a Hep-A booster and a flu shot, which made her cry for all of 90 seconds, but that was enough to merit a trip to Starbucks for muffins and hot chocolate before taking her back to school.

After dropping her off, I headed off to run errands, mostly consisting of taking one of our cars to have its emissions tested, then to renew its registration, then to go grocery shopping, then home to put away the groceries before heading to Zeke's school to pick him up.  As I pulled away from Josie's school, I turned on the radio, heard the news about the school shooting in Connecticut, and promptly burst into tears.  I cried off and on at the emissions place, the DMV, the Safeway, and the playground.  I cried talking to Zeke's teacher and I cried making dinner.

I can't stand all the "hug your kids tighter today" and "something must be done about guns and mental health" and calls for action on assault weapons and fucking Mike Huckabee and people talking about how the problem is that the principal and teacher weren't armed and all of it.  I just can't.  I feel like every time something like this happens, there are expressions of horror and dismay and vows to do something about guns or whatever, and petitions are circulated and calls to congresspeople are made, then time passes and everyone goes back to their lives and nothing changes.

Then it happens again, and the cycle starts all over.

I don't know what else to do but live.  So we spent the weekend going to the science museum and watching J play flag football and watching movies and playing with paper airplanes (Zeke's latest obsession) and going to the Blossoms of Light exhibit at the botanic gardens and reading Mo Willems books and buying Josie a new car seat because she outgrew her old one.  And on Monday I took everyone to school and J and I went to work and life goes on.

Because there's no alternative.

Friday, December 07, 2012

What I'm saying is, I've had better trips to Target. On the plus side, my immune system is off the chain.

It's been a hell of a week.

Last Friday, when I was enjoying a somewhat leisurely flex day (leisurely in the sense that I was free to run errands, clean the house and get shit done without children in tow), I got a call from Zeke's school that I needed to come get him because he had a fever.  He spent the weekend feverish and coughing and mostly resting.

J caught a mild version of it and stayed home with Zeke on Monday.  Then on Monday night, Josie started spiking a fever.  So I stayed home with both kids on Tuesday.  I tried to get some work done at home, but taking care of two tired kids who felt like crap did not make for a mellow or productive day.  I did take Zeke to the doctor because while his fever was gone, he was still coughing a lot.  The doctor said that if he was fever free without medication, he could go back to school, even though the cough might take a few weeks to clear up.

So Wednesday, I stayed home with Josie again (her fever was still bad, plus she was starting the coughing) while Zeke went to school (and was NOT happy about Josie getting a day to herself with Mama, but he dealt with it).  During the day she seemed to be getting better, but then Wednesday night she was a mess -- she had a raging fever and felt horrible.  I was up with her most of the night, wiping her forehead with a cold washcloth and snuggling her.

J stayed home with her yesterday, and her fever didn't come back and she was doing much better.  Zeke had a good day at school and they were both feeling chipper. We decided she would go back to school today, and all was well.

Now, in the meantime, everyone I speak to at the kids' schools or at work has been imploring me to stay healthy, or has expressed worry about me coming down with whatever cooties the children have.  The truth is, I never even bothered about worrying whether one of the kids had taken a drink from my glass or whatever -- they're all up on me all the time, so if I was going to get it, avoiding a potentially germy drinking glass wasn't going to make a difference.

But I feel great.  I'm doing the Ultimate Reset again (which is great for boosting the immune system), doing my workouts, and drinking my Shakeology, so I'm healthy as a horse.  (Are horses really all that healthy?  They have to get sick *some* time, right?  Anyway.) 

So last night, I had to go to Target to pick up a few things, and with everyone appearing to be relatively healthy and happy, I offered to take Josie and Zeke with me.  While we were there, Josie saw a little pair of purple metallic ballet flats that she liked.  They were way marked down and in her size, so I told her she could have them.  She wanted to put them on, so I pulled the tag off and put them on her.  When we got to the checkout line, I gave the lady the tag to scan so that Josie could continue wearing them.
the non-shoplifted ballet shoe

All was well until we were loading up the cart with the bags and getting ready to leave.  Josie suddenly freaked out, convinced that we were leaving without paying for the shoes on her feet.  I explained to her that I had paid for them and everything was OK.  She starting crying and screaming, "you didn't pay for them! you didn't pay for them!"  I said that I had. She insisted I hadn't.  The checkout ladies on either side of me tried to reassure her.  Zeke piped up as well.

But she was unmollified and becoming hysterical.

So with bags and children loaded into the cart, I had to wheel everything through the store to the exit and through the parking lot to my car while Josie screamed, "YOU DIDN'T PAY!  YOU DIDN'T PAY!" and I hissed at her, "Yes I did would you please calm down stop saying that STOP IT!"

It turned a few heads and a couple of people shot me looks of concern and disapproval, brows a-furrowed.

Thank goodness she's back at school and I don't have to stay home with her another day.  A) I've got a ton of work, and B) we might kill each other.

And the real kicker?  She doesn't like the way the shoes feel when she walks and wouldn't wear them to school this morning.

I can't win.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I actually found Matt King to be a sympathetic character.

This past Saturday, we got back from spending Thanksgiving in DC.  It was a terrific holiday -- once again, my parents' house was packed to the rafters with me and my brothers and our families.  The kids had a great time hanging out with their grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts, I enjoyed the fact that there were enough adults around to give me time to read two books in five days, because someone took the kids the park every day.  I got to go to the State Department to see my mom tape an interview panel on child adoption. I got to see my high school friend Lisa and my college friend Susan, who happen to know each other because their husbands are law partners.  We ran/walked/pushed strollers in the SOME Turkey Trot, a 5K run for charity that benefits DC's homeless.

The whole mishpacha
We had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner.  We went for walks by the Potomac River.  We had our annual Day After Thanksgiving Pie (DATP) gathering with my friend Ali

Mostly we just got to be together and enjoy each others' company.

But traveling with the kids is tiring, plus there's the time difference, so after getting home on Saturday, we got to enjoy Sunday as a lazy day.  At one point J took the kids somewhere and I had the house to myself, so I decided to watch The Descendants, which was on HBO.

Later we were all driving in the car and I was telling J about the movie (which I thought was great).  J asked me what it was about, and I said, "well, it's about this guy who's a, uh..."

I hesitated for a second as I tried to think of what I wanted to say.

And before I could finish my thought, Zeke -- who hasn't seen the movie and had no idea what we were talking about -- piped up from the back seat, "...a dick?"

Now, I'm pretty proud of the fact that though J and I both have potty-mouths, the kids do not know any of the bad swear words because we're really careful about the language we use in front of them.  When J and Zeke went camping with his friend Coleman and Coleman's dad, they had a running thing that because they were camping and it was a boy's weekend, everyone was allowed to swear.  So they encouraged the boys to say the worst words they could think of.

The words that the boys came up with?  Butt and fart.

In the grand scheme of things, "dick" isn't so bad, but obviously I'd prefer that Zeke not use it in public.  So in between wheezing with laughter, J and I tried to explain that "dick" isn't a nice word and we shouldn't call someone a dick.  (Unless they're a dick, I thought to myself).

I can't decide if this is a parenting fail or a parenting win.

Against my better judgment, I'm leaning towards "win."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lydia, Oh Lydia

Today is my niece Lydia's 10th birthday.  She's a special soul who holds a special place in my heart, so I thought I'd write her a little something to let her know how much she means to me.

My dearest Lydia:

Ten years ago today, your introduction to the world was abrupt and a bit scary, as you were a couple of months premature.  I remember visiting you in the NICU and thinking how impossibly small you were.  How it wasn't possible for a human being to be so, so tiny.  Plus you were born with a hole in your heart, for which you required risky surgery when you were only 6 months old.  So from day one, you had a lot to deal with.  But you got through it, and we knew you were tough and special.  Our little miracle baby.

As a toddler and a little kid, you showed yourself to be creative and artistic.  You loved fashion and drawing and color.  I remember one Thanksgiving in Washington, when you were about 5 or so, we were going out to go to a museum.  And you insisted on wearing a dress and multiple necklaces and a hat and fashionable sunglasses and a handbag.  One of the museum guards took a look at you and said, "little lady, you're about the best thing I've seen all day." 

You are the middle child, which comes with its own struggles.  You have a sister 5 years older, who was the first grandchild and therefore beheld by all as a superstar from the day she was born.  You have a sister 5 years younger, who is smart and loud and hilarious and a bit larger-than-life, personality-wise.  You are reserved and more of a gentle soul than either of them, and I sense that sometimes you feel a bit squeezed out.  But I want you to know that you are a shining star in my sky.

Because you have your own quiet strength that shines through.  When Emma had her accident 2 1/2 years ago, it must have been horribly scary and awful for you, not only because your sister had been hurt so badly, but because it meant such total upheaval in your life -- seeing your sister hooked up to tubes and machines in the hospital, being taken care of by different people while your parents dealt with the trauma, and still having to go to school and try to have some semblance of a normal life while it was all going on.  You were a rock at a time when no 7 year old girl should have to be a rock.

In the past few years, I feel like we have had the privilege of really seeing you blossom as a person.  You are still artistic and creative, but you're also a terrific athlete.  Your Uncle J adores you, and particularly adores seeing how great you are on a surfboard.  You're a great lacrosse player, which is so, so cool.

And you are such a mensch.  Whenever the family is together, you are so sweet and patient with the little kids, playing with them and looking after them and entertaining them.  Every year when we come home from Thanksgiving, Zeke and Josie are constantly asking me -- for weeks -- "when is Lydia going to come and visit?  When are we going to go to Josh's house so we can see Lydia?" 

Thanksgiving is next week, so we will be seeing you soon.  We are very thankful for that, because you are the best 10-year-old girl in the whole world.

All my love,

Auntie Wendy

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Frippery


My friend Karen has been doing a Thirty Days of Gratitude series for the month of November and I really liked the idea, so I've been doing the same over at my fitness site.  I've been doing all kinds of social media training, learning about search engine optimization and that sort of thing, so I'm blogging much more over there these days.  I'm really trying to build up my coaching business via social media, so I would love it if y'all would check out my posts, maybe subscribe or leave a comment or two, tell your friends, or even join one of my upcoming challenges.  I'm planning some good stuff for December and post-New Year's.

Single Parenting

J left last Friday for 8 days to celebrate a friend's birthday with a bunch of people in Key West.  I'm not sure what prompted me to agree to such a long solo stint, but I'm on day 7, so it's almost done.  We've been staying busy -- visiting friends, going to Jump Street and Monkey Bizness, playing at the park.  The kids have been great (mostly - bedtime has been a bit rough), but I'm so ready for some time alone.  J has already given me the thumbs-up to go to the movies tomorrow when he gets back.  I'm torn between Skyfall and Argo.  I might do Argo and then see Skyfall with J.

I'm so screwed

Josie is cracking me up these days.  She has become so headstrong and self-assured, which is awesome - I abhor a doormat - but I foresee some epic battles in about 10 years or so.  Yesterday at school, the kids were instructed to go sit on the reading rug for story time.  The rug has the alphabet on it, and each kid was assigned to a letter to sit on.  When Josie sat down on her letter, she looked around at the arrangement and exclaimed loudly, "this seat STINKS!  I can't see a thing!"

Which is hilarious because she's a skinny little three-year-old peanut, but won't be so cute as she gets older. 

Speaking of young whippersnappers...

One of my high school friends, who is one of my favorite people in the world, has a wonderful teenage daughter who has started a really cool bilingual blog (they live in France).  It's a good read -- check it out by clicking here


We had an election.  I am happy with the results.

Happy Friday, y'all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I've traveled quite a bit in countries where people drive on the other side of the road (i.e., the left), including renting cars and going on road trips in Australia.

People here frequently ask me, "was it hard driving on the other side of the road?"  And my answer is always, "the hard part isn't being on the other side of the road. The hard part is being on the other side of the car."

Because so much of driving is having a sense of where your body is and where the car is relative to the road and the other cars on the road. If you're used to being on the left side of the car, then you're used to having the bulk of the car on your right.  It affects how you instinctively position yourself relative to lane lines and road shoulders.

Plus inside the car, everything is in the wrong place.  My mom and I took a trip to Australia 11 years ago when she was stationed in Papua New Guinea, and we drove from Sydney to the Blue Mountains to look at waterfalls and beautiful scenery (it is one of the most gorgeous places on earth -- if you have a chance, go there).  And every single time I went to put on my turn signal by flicking the lever to the left of the steering wheel, I turned on the windshield wipers.  Mom laughed her ass off every time.  Until she did the exact same thing and I laughed my ass off at her.  Good times.

I was reminded of this watching Hurricane Sandy bear down on the East Coast.  I am an East Coaster at heart -- when I orient myself in my mind, I do so from the vantage point of Washington, DC and the surrounding environs.  Which is weird, because I haven't lived in the DC area itself for almost 30 years.  But I went to college in central Virginia, then North Carolina for law school, and then I lived in Atlanta for 13 years.  And it's where most of my friends and family are.  So when I think of storms hitting the East Coast, I think of them coming at me or hitting "above" me, to the north.

But this week, while my friends and family are dealing with the storm in Virginia and  Maryland and New York and coastal New Hampshire, I'm out west in the mountains.  It's sunny and in the high 60s/low 70s in Denver all week.  It feels very strange, not just to not be there, but also to remind myself that the devastation in New Jersey and New York isn't north of me, it's well east.

Stay safe, all of you.  I don't wish I were in harm's way, but if feels weird to be so removed from what you're going through.  Like I'm on the wrong side of the car.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

High Five

My little boy, my baby, my Zekey-beans, is five years old today.  It's been a hectic week and J and I have been shitty about doing anything special on this particular day -- we're doing a party at the Botanic Gardens on Saturday, so we felt like we had it covered.

Newborn Zeke
 But of course, we don't.  Because kids don't think that way.  Today is his birthday.  Today should be special.  So J will be bringing home a scooter to present to him after school.  We will make chocolate chip cookies together, and I won't fuss at him about the fact that he eats half of the sugar before I've had a chance to mix it with the other ingredients.

We dropped Josie off at school early (after Josie and I serenaded Zeke in the car) and went to the Safeway to get treats to bring to his class at school (we were going to make chocolate chip cookies until I remembered that the school only allows store-bought treats, not homemade ones - yeah, I have no idea, either).  We picked out some yummy mini-brownies, and because birthdays are special, Zeke was allowed to grab a chocolate-coated doughnut to have for breakfast.

1 year old Zeke
 We got to school early enough for Zeke to have first dibs on the swings. And on the rock-climbing wall, at which he is amazingly adept.

Watching him play, he looked so big to me. He doesn't have the baby chub in his face or his fingers or elbows anymore.  He's all ripped abs and muscle-y legs, like his dad.  He bounces on a trampoline and can do flips.
2-year-old Zeke

And then I start thinking about how fast these five years have gone (even though sometimes it feels like forever ago that I was childless, all carefree with nothing but time and money to spend on whatever I wanted).  Luckily, I've been writing this blog longer than he's been alive, so I have a written record of so many details that would otherwise be lost.  Posts like this one, which never ceases to crack me up.

Now I look at him and think, "what does life have in store for you?"

Certainly there will be ups and downs.  He will suffer disappointment and heart-break and have to learn difficult lessons.  I get a lump in my throat thinking about that.

3-year-old Zeke
 But then I think about how smart and kind and curious and bold he is.  He will experience and accomplish great things, and have wonderful adventures.  He will be loved, and will love in return.

In the meantime, I get to be with him as he grows and learns and becomes the person he will be (and so does his dad, but this is my blog and I get to be proprietary if I want to).  I get to be the one he turns to when he has questions about the world, about people, about life.  I get to read him books, and work puzzles with him, and build trains with him, and dry his tears when he's hurt, and be the one he leans on when he's tired.  The one he wraps his arms and legs around every morning when I give him his good morning hug, before he's really awake.

4-year-old Zeke
 He is at such a great point right now in his life.  He adores school.  He's learning how to read.  He has tons of friends.  He's healthy and strong and coordinated.  He loves his sister, and she loves him.  They have an amazing time together.  He has so much fun, every day.  He is so much fun to be with.

5-year-old Zeke
 I know it's all so fleeting.  Before I know it, he'll be big, and he won't want me to snuggle him.  He'll be off with his friends and be embarrassed by his parents.  He'll be independent and able to take care of himself, which is as it should be.

But I get him right now.  And for that, I feel so lucky.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


My lovely Josephine, you are now three years old.  And what a delight you are.

I can now say that I no longer have any children in diapers, because after months and months of resisting, you decided about a month and a half ago that you were ready to use the potty.  You totally could have done it before then, but as with everything else, you were going to do it on your own time and your own terms, and you did.

But beyond that, you are revealing yourself to be a real mensch.  You don't have a best friend at school.  You're friends with everyone.  You are friendly and sweet and concerned for one and all -- if someone falls down and gets an owie, or is just having a sad day, you are the first to give them a hug and comfort them and say, "it's going to be OK."
Having fun (and getting cupcake face) at your party with your friends of all ages.
 You never, ever have a bad day.  You're always happy and affectionate and adaptable to whatever the situation is.  You're game for anything and a big fan of adventure.

I love the relationship you have with your brother.  The two of you occasionally bicker, but most of the time you love playing together.  You praise his accomplishments ("Zekey, that was an awesome throw") and he shows you how to play the various games on the iPad. You share your toys and are willing to cede the TV even when it's your turn to pick what you want to watch, when you see that Zeke has a strong preference or is having a rough day.  I love listening to the two of you talk in the dark as you lie in bed at night. 

I also love how self-assured and yes, occasionally bossy, you are.  Though I'm capable of standing my own ground, it's always nice having a pint-sized enforcer to back up my decisions.  I don't remember the last time I laughed as hard as when you were yelling up the stairs at Zeke, "ZEKEY!  GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM!  IT'S NOT A PLAYGROUND!  IT'S JUST A BATHROOM! IT'S NOT FOR PLAYING! IT'S FOR POOPING AND PEEING AND TAKING A BATH!"

You are my sweetest little snuggle-bug.  I'll frequently wake up with you having crawled into my bed during the night, all warm and cozy and pressed against my back.  I love that you ask for big hugs and kisses all the time.  I love that you'll just randomly say, "love you, Mama" when the mood strikes.

Because I sure do love you.  To the moon and back, my little monkey-bean.

Love, Mama

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake, and the Colorado Rocky Mountain high...

I looked at Josie the other day and couldn't believe how angular and leggy she suddenly looks to me.  She's tall for her age (God knows how that happened) and yet still very thin (she'll be 3 in a few weeks and is still under 30 pounds), and she's all knees and elbows and skinny limbs. 

And Zeke is looking more and more like a kid -- no more baby fat, and he's so smart and articulate that sometimes I have to remind myself that he's still a little boy.

They are so much fun right now. 

We went up to the mountains for Labor Day weekend and stayed in a friend's condo.  The kids love being in the mountains.  The more time we spend outside, the better.

So we played at one of those funky playgrounds that are all climb-y and European in design.

And we went canoeing on Lake Dillon, and made a couple of stops to swim and throw rocks. 

And goof off with the panorama feature on the camera.

After doing P90X, I can flex in three places at once.
It was great until we were heading back to the dock and a storm blew in.  The temperature dropped about 20 degrees, the wind started whipping, and it was pelting rain.  J and I paddled our asses off to battle the wind and the current -- I'm surprised our arms didn't fall off.

The kids were freezing and tired, so we went back to the condo for a nap. 

Then we went back outside to go exploring.

The entrance to an old silver mine.  Josie assured me that while there were spiders in there, there were no monsters.
We went home the next day tired but happy.  And excited to get back up there during ski season.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Something that happened

My father's mother, who was my last living grandparent, died last night.

The news was only shocking because she has been living in the same reduced state for so long that it almost felt like she was somehow immune to the laws of biology that govern the rest of us.  But she was 96 (or thereabouts), and had been languishing in a nursing home for ages.  Just lying in a bed, not moving, not speaking, not interacting with anyone.

The saddest part about it is that no one is particularly sad. 

She was not a nice person, not a loving mother, and a friendly if mostly unengaged grandmother (at least to me).  My dad checked out of the relationship decades ago.  I continued to call her on a regular basis up until about 5 or 6 years ago, mostly out of a sense of obligation, because she never had anything much to say to me.  But then she decided that she wasn't interested in engaging in life or in having any role in her own care, so she just stopped.  Stopped moving, stopped taking care of herself, stopped doing anything but sit and watch TV or stare into space.  Her muscles atrophied to the point that she was incapable of getting up or doing anything for herself, so she spent the last years of her life lying down and doing nothing.  She squandered her considerable assets on hiring live-in caregivers who sat in her kitchen watching soap operas and then left with her silver and other valuables in their handbags. 

I asked my dad if he wanted me to come to Detroit for the service, but he said, no, it's expensive and unnecessary.  I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was fine.

When I was talking to my mom about it, she lamented that it seemed horrible that no one would really mourn her. 

But I guess if you're going to be nasty and shitty to people your whole life, there's the rub.  You're not going to get much more than a passing thought when you die.

I feel weird about it.  It feels weird to no longer having any living grandparents.  I feel sad that I don't feel sadder. 

I think I'll go home and be super-nice to my kids.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

How to throw the perfect wedding

STEP 1:  Have the groom be an absolute mensch with a wide circle of friends from all the various times of his life - college, business school, life in various cities.  A stand-up guy who on his worst day would be described as loyal, kind, generous, funny, intelligent, hard-working, honorable, cool.  A guy who, wherever he is, is the social chair, the cruise director, the one that everyone knows and loves and the glue that holds the group together.

STEP 2:  Have him get married for the first time relatively late in life, when he's in his early 40s.  Maybe he's had a series of relationships that didn't work out.  In other words, it's been a long time coming, and he's been looking his whole life for that elusive One.  And he's finally found her.

STEP 3:  Have the One be an extraordinarily smart, independent, elegant, stylish, wonderful woman.  Perhaps she's got her own story of living through and overcoming unspeakable tragedy, so that in marrying this incredible groom, they've found a happiness together that makes their union achingly poignant and perfect.  Throw in a couple of gorgeous kids who now can point to a complete, delightful family unit, and there isn't a dry eye in the house.  Hearts are bursting with joy for the four of them.

STEP 4:  Have people willing and eager to come from all over the country (and hell, all over the world), to celebrate the occasion.  This will be accomplished via Steps 1 and 3, by virtue of the bride and groom being such amazing people that their tribes will be thrilled to take part in the event, no matter how far they have to come.

STEP 5:  Make the setting for the rehearsal dinner, the wedding, and the reception, all be stunning.  Beautiful architecture, beautiful flowers, beautiful trees, beautiful weather.  Delicious food and drink. 

STEP 6: In the midst of all of this elegance and finery, include unique touches that point to the couple's sense of humor and whimsy. 
  • Like an Alice in Wonderland-themed rehearsal dinner, the "Mad Hatter" portion of which includes having the guests stand up at various points in the evening and move three spaces to the left, so that they're now sitting in front of new people and making new friends. 
  • Like having your wedding cake topper be custom-made bobblehead dolls of the couple and their gorgeous kids in their wedding clothes. 
  • Like 1) surprising the guests with a live band that wears gold lame` suits and novelty afro wigs and specializes in 80s covers, AND 2) providing novelty wigs and glo-stick necklaces for the wedding goers.  So that the result is a bunch of Silicon Valley millionaires and Virginia horse country blue-bloods, mostly in their 40s and 50s, rocking out with blue or pink hair and generally acting like teenagers at a rave.
  • Like having your party favors be engraved shot glasses, including providing the tequila, salt and limes for everyone to do shots with.
These factors are virtually impossible to combine.  It takes rare individuals, rare circumstances, and a little bit of luck to pull it all off. 

But when it happens, it's magical.

Congratulations, Bob, Christine, Christian and Chloe - I wish you every happiness.  You deserve it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Thoreau had the right idea

We took our big annual family trip to the beach a few weeks ago.  It was the usual craziness that comes with 10 or so people who love each other but aren't used to being around each other, all sharing a house.  And it was also fun and relaxing and fully of beach-y vacation-y activites.

Like playing with the kids on the beach.

And taking them in the water.

And reading on the porch.

And searching for crabs among the rocks.

And, of course, surfing.

Watching the children play on the sand and in the water was eye-opening.  They were so full of joy, running and jumping and swimming for hours and hours -- fully enjoying their youthful energy and health.  At one point I looked over at Zeke and he was just rolling in the sand, like a fillet being breaded, and he couldn't have been happier.

It caused J and me to start talking about how we want to live our lives.

For J, it's an easy choice.  He grew up by the beach and loves it like no other place.  It feeds his soul.  Colorado is beautiful and there are plenty of things to do for people that love physical activity in the outdoors, but there's a part of him that wilts a little bit every day that he wakes up so far away from the ocean.

I can be happy pretty much anywhere, as long as I have something to read and people around me that I love.  And, an internet connection, of course.

So if it means so much to the people that I love, I'd be happy to live near the beach again.  After all, there were plenty of things about Hawaii that I disliked, but being by the water and enjoying the surf was certainly not one of them.

And we like the New England setting - good weather with four seasons, nice people, access to sports and universities and good schools.  And family close by.  It would be awesome for the kids to grow up near the cousins, whom they adore.

The question is, how to accomplish it.

When I look over my blog posts of the last couple of years, the theme that emerges is that of busyness and exhaustion.  Of not having enough time.  Time alone, time with J, time with the kids, time unencumbered by obligations.  It makes me weary and exacerbates my depression.  I'm good at handling it, but I wish I didn't have to.

So that's where my Beachbody business comes in.

It started off as a lark.  I had been doing this company's workouts and using its products for so long that I signed up to be a coach largely for the discount, and maybe to make some beer money in recommending it to my friends, since I was recommending it to my friends anyway.

Then I figured I could use it as a vacation/rainy day fund.

Then I realized that I'm actually pretty good at the coaching part, and getting better at the networking/business part.  And if I work and apply myself, I can use it to get my time back.

I don't care about being rich or having fancy things.  I just want time. I want to feel like I'm living deliberately and thoughtfully, as opposed to just careening from obligation to obligation and then collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of every day.  And if I continue to apply myself and work, to connect with people and help them get the bodies and the lives they want, I can create a life for myself and my family by the beach.  A life of health and activity and family and helping people.

So we've put together a plan, and we're implementing it, and we're going to get there.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Chaos theory

My theory about chaos is that it appears to be the default state for my life.  Things have been absolute insanity for the past month.

I went to Vegas for my big annual coach's convention for Beachbody.  It was really incredible - I got to meet tons of cool people, worked out with all the celebrity trainers (including a 5000 person workout outside on the Strip), went to some fancy parties, and attended a number of business training seminars, plus presentations on new product lines and inspirational stories about people who lost 200+ pounds doing P90X or coaches who were bankrupt 2 years ago and are now making 6 figures helping people get fit.

But it was certainly not a relaxing 4 days.  I was up most days by 5 or 5:30 to exercise, then going all day with the various seminars, then the parties and events.  Plus I was staying in a room with 4 other women, but the room only had 2 queen beds.  Memories of spring breaks gone by...

So I was kind of tired by the end of it, and eager to get home and hang with the kids and have some down time.

Except that when J picked me up at the airport Sunday morning, he had broken out in terrible hives.  Like, giant red welts that were itchy and burning.  It took two days and two doctor's visits for us to finally determine that the culprit was a new laundry detergent we had bought, but by then the damage was done.  So I spent the next 5 days washing everything in the house with hypoallergenic laundry detergent while trying to keep J comfortable and entertain the kids.

Here's a little slice of what that was like.

One afternoon after work and school, we decided to go to the movies to see Brave with the kids.  It was hot, so we thought it would be nice so see a fun movie and cool off, especially since the heat exacerbated J's hives.

All was well until we got to a scary part of the movie and Zeke crawled into J's lap.  Problem was, he was wearing clothes that had been washed in the bad detergent, and the contact between Zeke's clothes and J's arms caused the hives to flare up horribly.  The end of the movie coincided with J's skin being unbearably itchy and burning, so we left.  On the way out, Zeke bumped into something and got a bloody nose.  And did I mention that the elevator from the movie theater (on level 3) to the parking deck is perhaps the slowest elevator in the history of the world?

So we're standing there, waiting for the elevator to make its molassas-like ascent to us, J clawing his skin off, Zeke with blood pouring out of his face, Josie crying, and me wishing I could be back in Vegas sharing a tiny hotel room with 5 women.

Eventually, things calmed down.  We got the laundry all decontaminated.  J's skin got better.  We got a handle on the mice that like to invade our kitchen at night (our house is 116 years old and has gaps and holes in the wall all over the place - I have seriously found half-moon shaped mouse holes that look like something you would see in an old cartoon) - I've been going to town with the foam gap filler and shutting those fuckers out.

But the chaos is getting ready to start up again.  I'm leading a team of Beachbody coaches in a business competition that runs during July and August. And I'm participating in a business bootcamp for my coaching business that started today and runs for a month.  And I've got multiple fitness challenges that I'm moderating.  And we're going to the beach on Friday ("4 more sleeps, Mama!!").

Like I said, it's my default state.  But I'm happy with it.  It staves off the boredom.

I will leave you with a hilarious exchange between Zeke and Josie.  They were arguing over her new pink kickball.  Zeke wanted to play with it, Josie didn't feel like sharing.  My feeling on sharing is, I'm not going to make anyone do it.  I tell the kids, you can't make someone share with you.  What you can do is be a good friend and treat them nicely and be really fun to play with, and then people will want to share with you.  And if you're not sharing your toys with your friends, they're not going to want to be friends with you.  So work on your game.  (The first time I told Zeke this, he promptly stopped yelling at Josie and said, "Josie, I love you.")
Zeke:  Josie, you're not nice.  You're the meanest girl in the WHOLE WORLD!  AND YOU'RE NOT THE CUTEST, EITHER!!

Josie:  Oh, yes I am the cutest!  YES I AM!!
The girl knows her own currency, I'll give her that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sammy 2.0

Lately Zeke is all obsessed with death and dying.

For the past month or so, he has asked me every day, more than once on many days, when I'm going to die.  Or when he is going to die.  Or when Josie is going to die.  Or when Mater or some other character in a story he knows is going to die.

I've taken different approaches to the question.  I've told him that no one really knows when they're going to die, but that everyone in our family is healthy, we take good care of ourselves, we wear our seatbelts and eat good food and exercise, so we should all be alive for a long, long time.

I've told him that people in our family live to be really old.

"Zekey, did you know I had a great-grandfather -- Mimi's grandpa -- that lived to be 102?  And Mimi's daddy lived to be 93."


"Yeah, that's a really big number, isn't it?"


"And how old are you?"

"I'm four."

"Right!  So you probably have at least another 90 years to live!  That's a really long time!"

I've tried to suss out the root of the question.

"Zeke, are you afraid that Daddy and I are going to die and leave you alone?"


"Well, honey, Daddy and I plan on being around for a long time, and we'll make sure that there's someone to take care of you."

He looked skeptical.

It's a weird topic to broach, for a number of reasons.  I'm not terribly religious, plus Jews don't believe in heaven or hell in any event, so I'm not going to feed him a bunch of stuff like that, especially since I don't believe in.  And he hasn't asked what happens after you die, so I haven't really had to go there.  Mostly I've tried to reassure him that we do all we can to live healthy lives, but that we shouldn't worry about what we can't control, and that all we can do is take care of ourselves and work hard and have adventures and be kind to each other.

He's such a little thinker.  So sensitive and analytical and smart and emotional.

He loves babies, and when he is upset at school and needs to get away from the craziness of his class, he goes to the baby class and hangs out with the babies and helps the teachers out.  "I'm really sweet to them, Mama."

He's a TOTAL mama's boy.  He's constantly snuggling me, looking to me for validation, telling me he loves me 50 times a day.

He loves learning and applying and demonstrating his knowledge.  When we read books together, he tells me the words he recognizes and counts things and explains the things he knows about.

He's very attuned to other people's emotions.

He is my brother Sam all over again.  (And he could do a lot worse.)

Monday, June 04, 2012

I see trees of green, red roses too

For the past 5 years, we have lived in extraordinarily beautiful places.  Hawaii's natural beauty is so abundant, no matter where you are on the island, that it's almost beyond belief, sometimes.  Colorado is similar.  It's a different kind of beauty - not as lush and sensual, but rather starker and grander and more dramatic - but in-your-face beautiful just the same.

And sometimes I take it for granted.  It's easy to get bogged down in the minutae of paying bills and getting the kids to school and keeping track of everything going on in our lives, and to forget that if I pick up my head and look west, I am faced with some of the most magnificent mountain vistas in the world.

But when the weather is good, if we can't be surfing the North Shore, there isn't much that beats summer in the Rockies.  Within a 100 mile radius of where we live, there are thousands of places to hike and bike and swim and camp.  And now that the kids are old enough to enjoy it, we've decided to really take advantage of what Colorado has to offer this summer.  We're planning camping trips (both by tent and RV) and hiking trips for almost every weekend.

We started yesterday.  There is amazing hiking in the hills behind Boulder, which is 30 minutes from where we live.  J is going to do a 14er at the end of July, and is doing a bunch of hiking to prepare.  Saturday he went out and did a strenuous hike with a friend of his, and came home with a map of different hikes in the area, of all different levels of difficulty.  The kids love being outside, so we decided to go up on Sunday to do a relatively short (a little over a mile) hike with easy terrain, which loops off a larger trail near its summit.

As we drove up into the hills to our trailhead, the kids marveled at the vistas.

Zeke: Mama, it's really beautiful up here.  Me and Josie are psyched!

Josie: Look how high we are! It's really really beautiful! 

The hike itself was gorgeous.  We looked at crickets and pine cones and butterflies and lizards and wildflowers and cacti. 

We climbed rocks. 

We enjoyed the sunshine and the fresh mountain air.

And then we went home, happily tired and already looking forward to the next outing.

Sleepy girl.

Zeke stripped down to his skivvies to cool off. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The bathroom is done!

The guys finished the heavy-duty work (laying the tile, moving and reinstalling the toilet, installing the vanity) last week.  That left the weekend for J and me to finish the rest -- painting the underside of the tub, painting the walls and building and installing the tall cupboard -- and then clean up and admire our handiwork.  The results are beautiful.  It looks exactly like I wanted it to.


Ew.  Dingy and ugly.

Double ew.  I fucking hate that burgundy color.

Who doesn't line the sink up with the mirror?  Morons, that's who.

Oy.  Words fail me.

Disgusting industrial carpet GLUED TO THE FLOOR. 

Who goes to pick out tile and bathroom accoutrement and comes home with this??  Morons with no taste, that's who.



Pretty and bright.  I adore that tile.

Hey!  Look at that!  I can stand in front of the sink and see myself in the mirror!!

So clean-looking.


I finished the Ultimate Reset!

I survived 21 days of super-clean eating (it was vegan the last two weeks), plus taking supplements to boost my oxygen levels, get my system to its natural alkaline state, get rid of toxins, and promote the growth of healthy flora in my digestive system.  There were definitely days when it was very difficult to stick with the program, not because I didn't enjoy the food I was eating (it was DELICIOUS), but because occasionally I grew tired of the regimen and I just wanted a bagel.  But I stuck with it, and my results were awesome.  In addition to losing 9 pounds, 2 inches off my hips and 1 inch off my waist in 21 days, I have more energy, my digestion is better (more regular, very little gas, etc.), my sleep is deeper and more restful, and overall I feel healthier and leaner.  And I learned how to prepare simple, incredibly nutritious, flavorful and satisfying meals using ingredients and seasonings I had never cooked with much (who knew jicama was so good? or tempeh? or roasted beets?). 

Going forward, I plan on continuing to use many of the recipes from the meal plan, though I will not eat a fully vegan diet.  I enjoy my eggs and greek yogurt, and I rarely eat meat anyway, so having it occasionally (in combination with lots of fruits, veggies and whole grains) is fine.  I will continue to take the oxygen, alkalinity and metabolism-boosting supplements, because I felt they were highly beneficial.  And I will do a full 3 week reset 2 or 3 times a year.  It was so worth it, y'all.  If you're interested in trying it or have questions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Zeke ditched the training wheels!

When my dad was visiting last month, he bought Zeke his first big-boy bike.  Zeke had been using a balance bike without pedals and had gotten great at it, so he was unquestionably ready for a real bike.

But at the bike store, all of the kids bikes come with training wheels attached, and Zeke went with my dad to pick out the bike.  As soon as he tried riding it around the store, he was hooked.  I was dismayed, because he didn't need the training wheels, and I told him so.

"Honey, you know how to balance without the training wheels!  You did it on your Skuut all the time.  Let's take off the training wheels."


I didn't want to make the bike a point of contention, and I knew that he would get rid of the training wheels eventually, so J and I didn't push the issue (much).

Then this past weekend, we met up with Zeke's friend Connor at the park.  Zeke took his bike with the training wheels.  Connor came on his bike that doesn't have training wheels.  After a few minutes of riding around and seeing how Connor could really zip around corners, Zeke asked, "Connor, can I try your bike?"


So I took Zeke out into the middle of the field, where there is grass that would provide a soft landing, held the back of the seat as he started to pedal, and then let go.  His muscle memory kicked in and he took off, balancing perfectly.  I think his big, wide grin might have been visible from space (as was mine, I'm sure).

As soon as we got home, we took the training wheels off of Zeke's bike.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Don't give us none of your aggravation, we've had it with your discipline

I'm not normally a confrontational person.  I don't shy away from it, but I don't actively seek it out.  I pride myself on being reasonable and practical and on handling things like a grown-up.

So today was a bit unusual, in that I got into it with three different people.

One of them a 5-year-old.

There's this kid in Zeke's class named Kyler or some such stupid name.  And I'm not even changing the name for purposes of protecting his anonymity in case someone who knows him reads this, because I don't give a shit.  The kid's an asshole.  His mother might as well get him a shirt that says, "Future Rapist" on it.

Numerous parents have told me about how this kid, who is enormous and looks to be at least 6 (and could pass for 7), bullies and harasses their children.  One of Zeke's little friends was so intimidated by the way he would block her path and get in her space that her parents did role-playing exercises with her to show her how to handle him.

He does similar things to Zeke, and it drives me insane.

The first time I witnessed it was a couple of weeks ago.  I was dropping Zeke off in his classroom and Kyler comes up to him and starts saying, "hey, buddy, hey buddy, hey buddy" over and over again, right in Zeke's face.  Zeke asked him to get away from him and not do that, but Kyler persisted.  I said, nicely, "Kyler, he asked you to leave him alone.  Please let him have his space."  But he ignored me.

Zeke's teacher can't stand him.  She yelled at him, "Kyler!  Why do you have to bother him like that every day when you know he doesn't like it??"

I sat with Zeke and tried to tell him that he needed to ignore it and that dealing with people who are annoying is part of life, but he was still upset when I left.

When I dropped the kids off this morning, Zeke and I turned the corner to go into his room.  Kyler and this other kid, Evan, were there.  When they saw Zeke, Kyler sneered, "we're not going to be buddies with Zeke today.  We don't want to play with him."

I whipped my head around and fixed him with an angry stare.  "What did you just say?"

"We're not going to play with Zeke today."

"Good," I snapped.  "He doesn't want to play with you anyway.  He only likes playing with kids who are nice.  He doesn't play with mean, nasty kids like you."

I had had it with him being a dick to my son.

Then today after work, I was sitting on a bench at the bus stop, reading a book.  This lady sat down on the bench next to me and immediately started some ridiculous diatribe about how immigrants and foreigners are bleeding this country dry and there are laws on the books that give foreigners $30,000 in cash, tax-free, while good hard-working Americans pay taxes and get fleeced by these freeloaders and blah blah blah.

For a while I tried to ignore it and just focus on my book, but when she got to the part about tax-free money for immigrants, I just couldn't hold it in anymore.

"That is absolutely not true.  Nobody gives immigrants wads of cash when they come to this country."

"Oh, it's true, it's true.  It's been on the books since Vietnam."

"You are spreading falsehoods.  There is no law like that.  Fercrissakes, I'm married to an immigrant - I can promise you that no one is throwing wads of government cash at us!"

She kept insisting it was true, and finally I yelled, "I'VE HAD IT.  I can't stand listening to your bullshit anymore!"  And I got up and walked away and waited for my bus where I couldn't hear her anymore.

The kicker was dealing with the douchebag next-door neighbor.

We are in the middle of redoing our horrible upstairs bathroom (and it's going to look so pretty when it's done, you guys).  So we don't have a working shower or bathtub.  When I got home from work, J was out back with the kids in the hot tub (which was lukewarm) in an effort to get the kids somewhat clean after school.  When he was done, he left the hot tub cover folded up and leaning partly up against the fence that we share with Douchebag.  The fence that he's never bothered to finish (and we've offered to pay to finish it, but he ignores us), so there's essentially nothing dividing our two yards.

Later on, we looked outside and noticed that the cover had been tossed over onto our grass.

When J went outside to replace the cover, Douchebag was out there and muttered something at J.  J quietly said, "fuck you."  At that point, the kids had started to follow J outside.  Then Douchebag started ranting and raving and swearing at J, and the kids were freaked out.

I was done.  I shuffled the kids inside and then went back out.


I know.  The irony isn't lost on me, either.  The whole neighborhood could probably hear me.

"Oh yeah?  Well do you know what J said to me when he came out here?  He said 'fuck you'."  Tattling on J like I'm his mother or something.  What an idiot.

"I don't give a shit!  And you deserved it, after the way you've treated us since we moved in here.  NOW TURN AROUND AND GET BACK IN YOUR HOUSE AND LEAVE US ALONE!  NOW!!!"

He yelled some more, but by then I had gone back inside and was trying to calm the children.  And myself.

I don't know.  I guess it was one of those days.  Which I never have, but who knows.

What I'm saying is, if you have a bone to pick with me, now is probably not the time.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


I'm doing a three week cleanse/detox program that I started this past Wednesday (perhaps especially apropos in light of the Great Lollipop Fiasco of 2012 (TM my friend Nicole)).  It's kind of all-consuming in the early stages - I'm spending tons of time cooking and planning and getting more organized about food and meal plans than I normally am.  You can read about it on my fitness blog.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

'Scuse me while I kiss the sky

Last week I was having a lot of achy muscle pain in my upper back, between my shoulder blades, and in my hips.  Achy achy achy.  Even when I would lie down in bed, it hurt.  I tried stretching, I took advil, but nothing seemed to be helping.

A, uh, friend of mine has had a bunch of surgeries, illnesses and injuries over the years for which he was prescribed pain meds, but he often doesn't take them.  So I asked my friend last Thursday night if he had any leftover pain medication that I could take for my back.

"No, but I've got a lollipop you can have."

A medicinal lollipop, if you catch my drift.

"Meh.  Nah, I'll just deal."

As the evening went on, however, I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.

"So that lollipop thing.  Will it help me?"

"I don't know.  It'll help you sleep and probably make you forget the pain."

"OK, what the hell."

Now, let us step back to examine the sheer idiocy of this move.

I am barely a drinker (most of the time, if I have a beer or a glass of wine, I don't finish it) and I am definitely not a pot smoker or a user of any other drugs.  So my body is not at all accustomed to stuff that could make me loopy.  I've smoked pot a few times in my life, but I never really enjoyed it - rather than make me mellow, it just made me exhausted and often queasy.  Whatever it is that kills nausea in cancer patients so they can get some food down, it has the opposite effect on me.  Plus, I have no doubt that whatever I had a few puffs of over the years did not approach the strength or purity of what my friend gets at the dispensary, particularly the strength and purity of stuff designed to be ingested rather than smoked.

But there I was, blithely consuming this lollipop, which, as I have now learned from the University of Google, was strong even by the standards of regular THC consumers.  I ate it, then I went to bed.

I really do question my own sanity sometimes.

I went to sleep and felt fine for a while.  Then I half-woke up and just felt kind of buzzy.  Not unpleasant.  Then the buzziness got stronger, and my head and my limbs felt inordinately heavy, like I was lying in molassas, and I started to feel queasy. 

By 5 in the morning, I managed to lurch to the bathroom to puke up whatever I had in my stomach.  I lay on the bathroom floor for a while because it was too much effort to get up.  After 20 minutes, I got up and went downstairs to try to drink some water.  I wasn't able to hold it down, and then went to lie down on the couch because the stairs were too daunting.

J came downstairs to get ready for work at around 5:30.  He was surprised to see me up, and also a bit alarmed by the fact that I was grey in the face and had broken out into a cold sweat. 

"Duuuude,"  I moaned.

"What's going on?"

"That lollipop killed me.  I am so unbelievably fucked up and sick."


"I'm OK if I lie here with my eyes closed, but when I open my eyes, I want to throw up.  Sitting up is unthinkable."



He continued puttering about getting ready, and then started walking toward the door.

"NOOO!  You can't leave me!"  I wailed.

"What are you talking about?  I have to go to work."

"I cannot take care of the children in this condition.  I can't drive them to school.  If I showed up like this with them at school, the teachers would have me arrested.  Please."

He sort of huffed around for a few minutes, but texted his boss and got the OK to come in late.  He got the kids up and fed and dressed.

Poor Zeke was horrified by my condition.

"Mama!  What's wrong?  Are you sick?  Why are you throwing up?"  His eyes were wide and he kept coming over to rub my face. 

"I'm OK, honey.  I've got a bad tummy-ache, but I'll get better, don't worry.  Daddy's going to take you to school today.  Be a good boy and I'll see you later."

Luckily, that Friday was a flex day for me, so I didn't have to go to work.  I lay back down on the couch when J took the kids to school.

Then the window guy showed up.  He, too, was horrified by my condition, but I waved him off when he suggested that he could come back to install the windows on a day when I was feeling better.  So I dozed all day, with intermittent bouts of vomiting, while our new windows were installed.

It was 2 in the afternoon before I could sit up without puking.  It was Sunday afternoon before all traces of the queasiness left my stomach.  Seriously - I'm that much of a light-weight.

J called me Friday afternoon to check on me.

"Hey, baby.  How ya doing?"

"I'll live.  Not feeling great, but I'm not throwing up any more, so there's that."

"Hey!  Guess what?"


"High Times magazine called.  They want to put you on the cover and nominate you for Stoner of the Year."


No way, man.  I'm scared straight for sure.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Send love and light

I received an email today from the grandmother of one of my sorority sisters, who lives in Boulder (the sorority sister, not the grandma).  The email told me that my friend's almost 16-year-old daughter is in Boulder Hospital after suffering a bad mountain bike crash yesterday.  She is expected to make a full recovery, but she will have a rough row to hoe as she deals with a concussion, a broken back, and facial and jaw injuries.*

Upon receiving the email, I was horrified and shocked, both for my friend and also for her daughter, whom I absolutely adore.  She is the coolest, smartest kid - I've told her multiple times that if her parents ever get sick of her, she can come live with me. 

And of course, I had flashbacks to Emma, and how I heard about her accident.

We live in a cruel world.  This obviously isn't news, but I feel like the personal reminders are coming fast and furious.  Last month, a coworker's brother dropped dead of a stroke, totally out of the blue.  He was 40.  Another coworker's 20 year old son died this past weekend.  My high school friend and the brother of a family friend died last week.  It's fucking relentless.

But, of course, life is for the living.  We live it as well as we can for as long as we can.  And my friend's daughter is alive, and will recover, and go on to do great things.  I know it.

*I'm not divulging their names out of respect for their privacy, but many readers of this blog know her, so if you want information, including an address to send a card or a casserole, email me.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

On lacrosse, training wheels, mortality and home renovations

It's been a very hectic time, one of those periods when I constantly feel like my head is spinning and I can't keep up with everything that's going on.

MIL left, but then the following weekend, my dad came to visit.  On Friday night, we took the kids to see Virginia play lacrosse, which was fun (especially since they won).  Zeke and Josie had no idea what was going on, but they dug all the clapping and cheering and the fact that we basically let them have popcorn and Skittles for dinner, and they jumped around hooting and hollering "Goooo Virginia!!!"  and had a blast.

The next morning, my dad got Zeke his first big-boy bike.  We knew he was ready for it because he's been riding a balance bike and knows how to stay up.  Except that in the store, the kids' bikes all have training wheels on them, and once Zeke got a little taste of that, he was hooked.  We are trying to work with him to prepare for taking the training wheels off, because he absolutely doesn't need them, plus when he has them, he's not particularly safe to ride with.  He doesn't pay attention because he doesn't have to - there's no risk of falling.  He and I were riding our bikes home from the ice cream store down the street, and he's stopping suddenly to look at dandelions and randomly slowing down and speeding up and remarking "hey!  It's the number 10 bus!  That's the one you ride, right, Mama?"

I almost crashed into him about 5 times.

I know we could just take the training wheels off the bike when he's not around and spring it on him, but he'll seriously lose his shit and I would prefer to have him ready for it.  So we'll see.

In any event, we spent the entire weekend riding bikes, and it was incredibly fun.

In the meantime, the week before, all kinds of other stuff was going on as well.  Last Thursday, I achieved the next rank up in my Beachbody business (I'm a diamond now, sparkly bling!!), which is pretty sweet.  More money, more perqs from the company, more opportunities to grow the business further.

But then Friday, I learned that an old high school friend of mine died (he had been a quadriplegic since junior year, and I think his body just gave out), and that the brother of a close family friend had lost his 3-year bout with brain cancer.  So sad.

And this week, we're gearing up for some big home renovations.  We're getting some new windows put on the house (right now, only 2 windows in our 116-year-old dwelling open), and that's happening this Friday.  About a week or so after that, we're having our upstairs bathroom redone.

Let me tell you about our upstairs bathroom.  It is the poster child for the shitty, cheap renovations that the previous owners did.  I can't even decide what the worst thing about it is.  Perhaps the fact that they painted over the gorgeous trim (and the outside of the clawfoot tub) with paint that resembled dried blood?  There are few colors in the world I despise more than that dark burgundy.

Or perhaps it's that they glued disgusting industrial grade carpet to the floor?  In a bathroom???

Or maybe it's that they took old beadboard wainscotting and covered it up with cheap ugly tiles, which don't line up properly and have huge gaps behind the toilet because whoever installed it was was either drunk or on crack?

No, what really takes the cake is that they put in a cheap vanity, surrounded it with vile gold-colored plastic soap holders and the like, AND COULDN'T EVEN BOTHER TO LINE THE SINK UP WITH THE BUILT-IN MIRROR.  So when you brush your teeth or wash your face or something, you have to lean over to the left to see yourself.  (Plus there's that HEINOUS light fixture - ugh.)

Honestly, any one of these things would be awful on its own, but in combination, I swear this room could win a prize for worst renovation EVER.

We are ripping out the disgusting carpet and replacing it with black and white mosaic tile.  We're getting rid of the crappy-ass wall tile and putting the beadboard wainscoting back, and painting the top of the wall some bright, pretty color (haven't decided yet).  We're moving the toilet over so we can get a nice vanity that lines up with the sink.  We're repainting the trim and door white, and having the clawfoot tub restored and re-enameled in white.  The bathroom will be worthy of the house again.

So that's me in a nutshell.