Does PMS Leave you cranky and crampy? Take the RAW food challenge

I just finished a one month cycle of increased raw food in my diet in hopes of alleviating the severities of PMS. I know, I know, this is a little TMI but somebody has to talk about it and I'm here to further embarrass and expose myself in cyberspace. Self worth is over-rated.
For the past four weeks, I have spent the majority of my weekdays chopping, slicing and whisking up dinners for myself and my man. Eliminating meat, wheat, most dairy, and anything cooked. Think fruit, citrus salads, leafy greens and lots of raw nuts. My exceptions to this RAW food madness was yogurt and eggs and occasionally serving a side of germinated rice or organic couscous along with dinner. Oh, and in case you were wondering, wine, beer and vodka DO fall in the category of RAW food. Especially when served with a slice of lime or some speared green olives. My goal was to reduce the cramping, throbbing legs, backaches, exhaustion and whatever other joyous symptoms arrive every month in my feminine world.
Weekends were exempt because, well, between fourth of July and various vacations, it wasn't my goal to wander around social events making a spectacle of my-raw-self, refusing to nibble from the cheese plate or denying myself steak and potatoes....instead carrying a hemp hewn satchel full of jicama sticks and sprouted garbanzos while chanting my mantra and showing off my lotus position. And no, I haven't grown out my armpit hair just yet.
Oh, the point of all this is that I have some results to share!
Pre RAW, Aunt Flo always brought along a variety of relatives: Crampy, Throbbing, Achy and Sleepy. And she'd hang around for at least 7 days!! Today I stand before you with Aunt Flo on her 5th and final day of visitation, a very midget version of Throbbing in tow and no other visitors!! "Don't let the door hit ya on your way out!!"
With all this good news to share, I feel compelled to take an even deeper plunge into the world of RAW in my excitement. Maybe I'll add another day of my weekend to the RAW regiment...Sunday? Maybe I'll experiment with more coconut milk. Maybe I'll stop shaving...
Well, anyway, if Aunt Flo is your monthly nemesis, or you care to take a stab at any other bothersome ailments (migraines, diabetes, hypertension, varicose vein pain) you might dip your toes into a RAW dish regiment and see what miracles you can find.
I'd love to hear more stories of RAW miracles if you have them. And don't forget to abandon those razors, while you're at it.


RAW Favorites

As I mentioned before, I am attempting a semi raw regiment. We won't call it a diet because that is not the goal. Although I will say my husband's enthusiasm for this veggie infused eating stems from a desire to trim down and after a week, he's already seeing results.

From what I can gather, raw claims to be the best digestive processing for your body. Fastest absorption, most concentrated nutrients and minerals, yadah yadah. The part that intrigued me, was the claim to solve various bodily ailments: migraines, diabetes, severe menstrual cycle symptoms.

It was the last subject that caught my eye. Every time I emerge from the fog of pregnancy, and instantly win back my periods (Oh great), the monthly symptoms seem to compound and strengthen their miserable qualities. After my first child it was nausea and then severe exhaustion for 2-3 days every month. Oh, AND headaches accompanied by the joy of lower back pain! After baby number two, and the varicose veins that came with her, I have one or two days a month where my legs throb so bad I can hardly stand up.

So I'm trying a month of raw in hopes of experiencing some positive results at the end of the cycle, if you get my drift.

The upside of going raw in July is the abundance of seasonal fruits and veggies this time of year. Farmer's Market has always been such a treat for me each week but now I'm more determined to try a greater variety of items. Like black kale, green plums, pluots, dates, beet root, radish and sunflower sprouts, and fragrant ripe melons. I've eaten my weight in salads this week alone.

The mainstays of a raw kitchen appear to be a knife, a cutting board, a mixer/blender and the occasional food chopper. Cleanup is a cinch-no grimy pots and pans, no greasy cookie sheets.

What do we eat?? Well, let me first say that I am not subjecting my children to this craziness. And, as mentioned before, I'm not going extreme. John and I have agreed to include, on occasion, eggs, yogurt, the occasional splash of milk in our coffee, some whole grains (barley, rice, couscous) and meat or fish a few nights a week. Dessert could not be cut out so I got my hands on Coconut Bliss, chocolate flavored, which is quite possibly some of the best ice cream (well, non-dairy, gluten-free, etc) I've ever had!

If nothing else, so far, RAW has spilled over to my everyday habits as sole provider of snacks and meals for my kids and myself. I consider myself a fairly healthy eater and pride myself on stocking a balanced pantry with plenty of fruits and veggies and whole grains. But convenience trumped healthy more and more often and my habits were falling into that Costco bag of goldfish and wheat thins, fruit snacks, juice boxes and pretzels. Only a few weeks ago I introduced my almost 3 year old to her first bag of McDonald's Happy Meal! God bless the drive thrus. See my problem?

Since returning from our road trip, hitting "processed food bottom" and directing my energy at raw foods, snack have appeared as sliced apples with peanut butter or watermelon and strawberries. Breakfast is a nut and fruit muesli (pictured above), www.rawfoodsdiet.wetpaint.com/page/Muesli+Recipe , or a fresh fruit smoothie. I am including yogurt and eggs (both organic, if possible) occasionally throughout the week. Lunch is fruit and a salad usually leftover from last night's dinner and then sometimes the crusts of my kids' sandwiches. Dinner is usually two different salads (one veggie based one fruit based) and then some sort of whole grain to share with the kids, like germinated brown rice or organic couscous.
I have a renewed enthusiasm in the kitchen as everything is a new, exciting and almost idiot proof meal. How do you screw up chopping and whisking? The trick is to use farm fresh produce that's in season.

Here are some websites I've used and a few recipes I've really enjoyed.

http://www.rawfoodnation.org/ I really like the summer salad series here, good suggestions and pretty quick and easy recipes for a 15 minute or less food prep to dinner time! Summer Salad Series: Spinach Powerhouse was enjoyed by our whole family (kids included). The Raw Beets Series with jicama and oranges should have been glorious but fell flat when I realized after a few bites my jicama was a bit old and soft

****************************On a sidenote, I can't recall which website I visited the other day that advertised a "Raw Singles" section....ew?!

http://www.goneraw.com/ These recipes tend to be a bit more complicated (soaking, sprouting and even dehydrating), I found one that doesn't look too intimidating to try for dinner tonight, the Kalach Salad (Kale and Spinach with avocado mash dressing). Good pics, too.

www.living-foods.com/recipes/ I like the way this site has a multitude of recipes organized by category (soups and salads, entrees, etc.) and it mixes raw foods with other vegan and vegetarian recipes. No extremism, just healthy food suggestions.

http://www.rawsacramento.net/ where I found a pretty awesome salad dressing, Joshua's Amazing Dressing. This is a great site for recipes, resources, links, and some rpetty pictures.

I am also intrigued by http://www.welikeitraw.com/ a blog and recipe list about raw food. This is where I first met (virtually speaking, of course) Ani Phyo, raw food chef extraordinaire.

My absolute favorite recipe for breakfast is this apple


Road Trip=RAW

My baby graduated from kindergarten. I enjoyed 5 days of child-less bliss in Mexico with 5 like minded girlfriends. And after 10 days in a Rental RV barreling up the coast to Seattle and back with my darling family I've decided to embrace the raw food diet. Call it one too many burgerrific meals wrapped in greasy paper, the Licorice that broke the driver's colon, call it what you will but my digestive tract can't take another over processed mouthful. I need a change, I need cleansing, I need Shuma Noya?! Flaxseed oil?! Coconut Bliss?!
I choked down an In n Out meal on the last painful leg of our 2000 mile journey yesterday and woke up this morning with veggies on the brain, a squishy middle and a rotting inside.
Wait, let me recap, in the bittiest of detail (well, bitty for this detail obessessed weirdo), my fantastic journey across the Northwest. Let me first say this: #1. John and I have never ventured farther North than the greater Napa valley for pleasure purposes. So our curiosity was the first incentive. And an invitation from a wonderful cousin and her awesome family to come to Seattle was all we needed to make it an official destination. #2. Why not fly? At age 3, Ana makes it four full priced airline tickets for our family. Ugh. My other options are?? #4. Our girls were getting dangerously close to morphing into anti-wilderness princess freaks ("eew, dirt! daddy hand me my nail file!") and we knew we needed to break them quick.
After months of planning, and packing (now you know where I've been...at Target spending my daughter's inheritence), and mapping we finally set off on our 10 day adventure (now that's an understatement). We bombed up on a Thursday, picked the RV up in Oakland, dropped our car at a friend's/had dinner, and made it to Redding by 1:00 am. Friday was one of my more successfully planned days: stopped in the quaint town of Ashland, Oregon and explored Lithia Park, the Shakespearean Theater and garb, and surrounding city all by foot. Further north that same day, we stopped at the quirkiest theme park outside of Salem, Oregon called The Enchanted Forest. Strange, dusty, and rather entertaining for what it's worth.
The following morning we headed through Portland to Voodoo Doughnuts-amazing Bacon Maple Bars!!! Holy sugar! And then to Seattle for family fun, a trip to the cute zoo, and parent's night out to Tilth for dinner and Molly Moon's...can I just say this is the greatest ice cream known to man? We waited in line at 9 pm for nearly half an hour: carrot cake ice cream, honey lavender ice cream, Scout Chip, Espresso Bean icecream...you get the idea!
Monday was a sad departure from our family in Seattle but many miles awaited us and 4 hours south we were camped at the base of Mount Hood-a pristine backdrop-literally on the heavily wooded shore of Lake Trillium. Definitely an amazing family stop! Salamanders in the lake! Tuesday we drove 2 hours south to Tumalo, Oregon near Bend. More snow capped mountain views and dry dessert campground on the river. We pumped up our inter tubes and hiked up through the day use area about a mile, jumped in and floated and giggled all the way down the river right to our campsite! Wednesday was a long drive across to the Grants Pass area of Indian Mary on the banks of the Rogue River. Hot weather, cool roaring river and plenty of grassy shaded area to run and roam. I tried my first Frisbee golf course and grilled quesadillas over the campfire! We even rode this gigantic blue aluminum jet boat up the Rogue River through Hellgate Canyon! Very entertaining and a perfect excursion for our girls (at 50+ mph). Sad to leave to the beauty and oddities of Oregon, we headed across the border back to California and were pleasantly thrilled by our drippy rain forest-ish surroundings at Patrick's Point on the north western California State beach. Dense ferns and sky scraping redwoods gave way to cliff hanging views of the California coastline. And BANANA SLUGS!! And bunnies, and elk and electric blue blue jays, and the occasional rat...yep. Agate beach awaited us below our ocean view campsite where a waterfall met the sand and rock hunting captivated my entire family for hours. We then took our gigantic 24 foot motor home on the most hair tingling drive toward Fort Bragg and Caspar Beach along Highway 1. Wow, your Cal trans dollars are not hard at work on that stretch of highway. Sheer cliffs, hairpin turns and the narrowest potholed highway I've ever experienced kept John and I clutching the dash, steering wheel, and each other as we dropped down into the Mendocino County of rugged beauty and even more weirdness than we found in Oregon. Caspar Beach was a disappointment, especially the dirt parking lot of an RV park. We literally wedged our motor home into our space, inched open the door and stepped out onto our 3X7 foot sliver of dirt where a rusted out wheel rim stood in place of the fire pit. This called for a Keystone and a cigarette. No bones about it. Or teeth for that matter, apparently they're optional at Caspar Beach.
By the way, Mendocino County and my house are definitely not in the same state...they can't be-we drove 9 hours yesterday to get home!!!! We didn't even cover half of California in that stretch.
Conclusions: if you're going to rent an RV, know that Cruise America is probably your cheapest bet. Warning: you get what you pay for. So if you go that route, bring earplugs (the rattling kitchen sink gets really old on an 11 hour road trip) and don't expect the staff to have much personality or sympathy (they can't make much $$ there, so who can blame 'em). Both John and I said we'd do it all over again (with a few adjustments) in a heartbeat. Bring disposable clothes, my campfire laundry is eating me alive!!!!! RV camping is exactly that, it's camping...in an RV...not going out to fancy dinners and stopping in for a bite to eat at that great bistro for lunch (unless you have an amazing cousin in Seattle with an equally amazing babysitter). You're dusty and dirty, your crap is rolling and rattling around in a giant tin can on wheels that you can't park anywhere, and even if you could find something in your luggage that doesn't stink like campfire, the water tank doesn't hold enough shower to clean your entire family up for a presentable appearance. You're camping. You're experiencing the wilderness, you're roasting marshmallows and sitting under the stars and exploring trails and touching giant yellow slugs.
It was dirty. It was quality time together as a family, alone. It was loud and smokey and sandy. It was hilarious. And frustrating. It was sugary sweet and greasy. It was charred black. It was heavenly and stunning and wonderful. It was gas guzzling. It was icy cold and sticky hot. It was Paul Bunyan in the parking lot. It was bed head and hot chocolate mustaches. It was bunnies on the path and deer in the park. It was a potty on wheels. It was rock hunting and baseball. It was piping hot coffee and the perfect s'more. Flying wine bottles. Dumping the pooper. It was the art box, lollipops, and duct tape. It was a picture journal written by a kindergartner. It was Hey There Sister, I don't wanna miss you (sung by my 2 year old) times 134.
It was amazing. I want to do it again tomorrow.

PS I got so caught up in recapping my vacation I'll have to fill you in on the raw foods craziness next time. Glad to be back and keep those comments coming, it helps me to know someone's still out there listening:)


Single Parenting Sucks

On several occasions over the past few weeks, I have fired up my laptop and readied myself for a blog blast. But sleep overtook me, or the puppy had peed on the floor (again), or the girls were STILL not asleep, and so forth.
After a very long stint as a single parent, I got my husband back from his surf trip, and coincidentally, a glimmer of sanity and some calming of the general chaos has commenced. And thankfully, here I sit, allowing myself a few moments of relfection. Although he appears to be (still) jet lagged, his sluggish presence in our household has brought joy and order to an otherwise jumbling mess of disorder.
Two concrete topics came to mind in his absence, the complications of single parenting and....ahem, dating. I suppose I should save the explanation for that last one for the end:)
From the moment my wonderful, helpful, amazing hubby hit the road, the girls (and the puppy) and I hit the ground running. I had packed the upcoming loneliness with a multitude of distractions in the form of Kid Concerts, playdates, and movie theater plans. The first weekend passed with the help of a babysitter, a fellow surf widow sleepover (kids and all), beach trips and bike rides. By the time we reached day #7, I had a wicked cold, a new understanding of dilerium, and for whatever reason, an affinity for folding clean laundry (WTF?). Whoever this insane spirit was, that had overtaken my body, she wasn't allowing me to sleep much and she had an undaunting eye for perfection. How many more times can I straighten pillows and pack up Barbie crap? I traded meal preparation for laundry and cleaning. Our dinners went like this: pizza, mac n cheese, take out, mac n cheese, take out, take out leftovers, Taco Temple, pizza, cereal (things were going downhill fast), sushi.
Single parenting can be really great the first day or two, when you can focus on your children and nothing else. The novelty of "date night" with your kids can be really great if the agenda is set. We headed into SLO for a kids' p.j. party and concert by local singer/musician, Ginger Hendrix. I knew little of her music and by the end, found myself the proud owner of one of her awesome CDs. Here's her link: http://www.bustrtpumpkinhead.blogspot.com
The theme song from her CD, which my girls and I sang the rest of our week, went something like, "just give me Macaroni n Cheese, that creamy cheesey treat"....ironic that we ate this delightful and easy meal at least once a day while daddy was gone. When followed by strawberry icecream, I'm sure we had all areas of the food pyramid covered.
Back to my point, seven days into this and I was plum pooped. A few quotes from the entire 11 day single stint included..."Where is the other leather shoe?"..."Just don't break your necks while base jumping off that bookshelf"..."Mommy's sick girls, can you keep the noise down and get me some gatorade?"..."Ana, I love all those marker tattooes you drew on your body, go make some more!"...."Where did you find this chewed up box of D-Con???"(that was the day I hauled the vaccum cleaner out to the back lawn to suck up all the poison pellets our dog had spilled, but thankfully not ingested)..."Showers and shaved legs are overrated"(pretty sure I shared this with Shelby's kinder teacher....I claim delirium on that one).
And now for the topic of dating. Not someone else, but my own husband. Three days before his scheduled return, I found myself primping and plotting the homecoming. I drafted a grocery list a whole week ahead in preparation for his return, special foods he liked, extra beer, plenty of his fav fruits and cheeses, this list did not include mac n cheese. I broke out the weedwhacker for my furry stumps...one must go at this task in phases when one has not ventured into the back country for over a whole week. I was bleaching my teeth, making a hair appointment, and painting my toenails. I found a bottle of self tanner in the far reaches of my bathroom. I even had my outfit picked out days in advance.
It occurred to me that these were all the very foreign rituals of dating. Planning out the events, the outfit, the food, shaving and plucking and primping. I hadn't done this much self prepping since college.
Thank god he's back, and I'm no longer divulging in the intracacies of single parenting. The dating world can keep their primping, I haven't time for it with all this chaos in my house.
Final quote, "Ana, that hot pink nail polish goes so well on the white carpet in my closet...."


Half Empty

Pessimism has served me well this week. I'm facing disaster head on. There's no smoke and mirrors this time. It's all too real: No TV Week, rainy day schedule, and daddy off to a tropical isle for a man surf trip. I'm thinking about drowning myself in that half empty glass right now.
Five days of NO TV this week (I am getting more realistic already, the 7 day week whittled down to 5). Shelby's school has offered families the opportunity to turn off their TVs for one week to promote healthy family time. The enthusiasm for this activity came home sounding like this, "We can do game night and popcorn! We can go for a bike ride and play bolleyball outside!" while jumping up and down and clapping her dimpled kinder hands, and "We can do art projects and playdough!"
The guilt arrived in her backpack on a yellow flier with factual information and the slogan "TV-Turnoff Week: Dare to be free-Don't watch TV!" The flier was peppered with facts like: "The average family spends 4-5 hours every day watching TV but only 35 minutes having a meaningful conversation." And "Studies show that watching 10 or more hours of television a week negatively impacts creativity, problem solving, and reading levels." And the kicker, "The average child spends 900 hours per year in school-yet over 1,023 hours per year in front of a television."
While our family doesn't necessarily fit the average American standard, we are certainly nowhere near perfect. We operate our television for movie purposes only, we do not have cable or local television programming. No commercials, no channel surfing. On average, my children watch anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours of movies every day. Let's see, extrapolated that means my kids spend 913 hours a year in front of the television, not the average 1,023. Hmph. Not much satisfaction there.
Then there is this fact, "In an average four hours of Saturday morning cartoons your child will view 200 advertisements for junk foods and candy." Not to mention the violence shown on television. I've got that one beat by a mile.
Back to the meaningful conversations, do we have 35 minutes of meaningful conversations every day? An interesting thought. I'm quite sure I do not have 35 minutes of meaningful conversation with my kindergartner. She is at school for most of her day and when she arrives at home we discuss her day for a few minutes, she jumps rope or draws and we do homework together. Then she's parked in front of that TV or at a gymnastics class or something until dinner time. The dinner table is more often than not a quiet place for conversation as a family, until interrupted by shrieking from the youngest member over yukky potatoes or too crispy chicken.
As for my toddler, I am pretty sure Ana talks AT me for at least 3 hours a day, is that meaningful conversation?
In conclusion, John and I eliminated regular programmed television from our lives more than 6 years ago and it has served us well. We spend an average of 4 hours each week in front of the TV (that's 208 hours each year). After we get the dishes cleaned and the kids to bed, we don't have time or energy to watch any movies on TV. And I'm fairly confident we get in 35 minutes of meaningful conversation with each other each day. But don't you dare ask me how much time we spend in front of our computers!
I think permanently eliminating movies on television for our children would be extremely ambitious. They certainly explore their toy boxes more often when the TV is off. They also argue more, not to mention the tornado they invite to the house. How could I get the dishes done, the laundry folded, the bills paid? Would that mean my kids would actually talk to me while I perform my chores? Hm, that may not be so bad. Meaningful conversation....
We are two days into NO TV Week and so far, Shelby has enthusiastically embraced her school's promotion. Our first evening was spent outside, sharing a meal, playing 'bolleyball', dancing, singing, and doing art. Bedtime came a little sooner since we didn't make time for a movie (sweet). And the girls were ready for stories and sleep after all that extra physical activity. This morning's routine went smoothly without the distraction of movies on TV. The girls even played trucks and trains together before the carpool.
Without smoke and mirrors, I'm facing reality with my eyes wide open. Which is exactly why I have justified NO TV Week for my entire family. But when Shelby is gone at school, and John at work or on vacation, that hardly counts for an entire family. Ana is too young to keep secrets, but old enough to quietly enjoy the movies she's been watching each morning this week while I am writing this blog and folding laundry.
Realism trumps pessimism every time.


A Long Day

"Your agenda seemed pretty ambitious," said my friend H as I dragged my brood through her front door. Barely over the threshold when Piper piddled in excitement all over the rug.
When we adopted this little bundle of trouble, I mean LOVE, the agreement was that I keep the kids all day and John would take the dog. Well, for various reasons explained to me each morning, this little piddle puppy has remained underfoot every day for the last 3 weeks. And I have 4 more weeks of the same to look forward to.
On a separate topic, I've taken on my usual birthday stress as John's "special day" has finally arrived this week. And with that comes the constructing of a cake, gathering of presents, card and arrangements and general sentiment over the acknowledgement of his birthday. The mental build up for this is enough to bunch my panties. Don'tmisunderstand me here, there is so much personal revelry in birthdays, for example I really enjoy the part where I am the thoughtful and caring wife, where we present a gift that represents the time and effort invested to procur, when our girls hand daddy their homemade cards, lovingly coached into completion by their barking mother. I love all that birthday hodge-podge. But like I said, the build up...
Today was the day where I exchanged the gift I got him for another one with the proper accessories.
But before my dreaded visit to Best Buy, I had a carefully alligned set of appointments that maximized my efficiency as mother, housekeeper, auto owner, birthday gift giver, pet lover and planner. I had to drop my car off at the mechanic, and take the dog to the vet for her shots.
The car problem deserves some explanation, which is this: During spring break, on a trip up to Sierra Summit, the passenger window on my car began acting up. The night before our snow day, the darned thing rolled down and refused to roll back up. I could only imagine the next scene: the blizzard of wind whipping through the vehicle as we climbed to colder temps, icicles hanging from the girl's lips as we barreled up the mountain in the wee hours of the morning, Ana (who sat on the passenger side and hated all things snow) shaking her wind whipped face free of ice and snow, tears streaming and subsequently freezing down her cheeks, her ice encrusted lips forming the words, "But I don' wanna go t'the snow!"
Okay, enough already, I got the window to roll up finally and then pushed the window lock button. Despite our windless drive to the snow, Ana still managed to announce every five minutes for two hours, "But I don wanna go to the snow!"
Fast forward to the part where I pull up at the local mechanic's garage for a fix it appointment. AND, realizing I had an hour or two to wait, I had made an appointment at the vet's office-right next door. It wasn't even 9 am and I was feeling accomplished, already carless and walking the puppy on her leash (whoa! don't bite the leash, piper! don't eat that dog poop!) while holding Ana's hand (stop pinching! don't jump off that curb! watch out for cars! watch out for the dog poop! aughh! scrape it off like this...). It was the longest 100 yard walk ever. The vet's office was quiet and calm and unfamiliar as we had never been before.
"Can I help you with something?" asked a tall brunette in paw printed scrubs. The look on her face blared 'which space ship beamed you down here?'
I self consciously reached up to my hair, it must have sprouted horns and snakes by the look on her face.
I announced our appointment time, 8:45 for Piper's shots. She shook her head, "I don't have a vet here today, ma'm. You must have made an appointment at the other vet's office." (was that a sneer on her face?)
Turns out, there are two veterinarians in town, who are located on opposite ends of the SAME very long street. So far apart, in fact, the vet who was expecting me was located nearly 6 miles from where I stood right now.
I gave a good long look at the sky, yep, there it was:a menacing black cloud right above me, a few bolts of lightning headed my way. It's not even 9 in the morning, my sense of accomplishment just exploded and the shrapnel is stinging my eyes, and I'm beginning to hyperventilate.
The other vet's office kindly rearranged our appointment for later that afternoon, right after we ran the carpool and smack in the middle of Ana's nap time. Great, the ideal recipe for disaster, I decided. A few moments of further panic revealed I was truly stranded for the next hour or two. No grocery store, no library, not with a dog on a leash in tow.
I dialed the local bus, "I need help," I pleaded with the operator. I explained how I was stranded at a greasy garage, carless and strapped with a puppy in need of a vet visit WITH a toddler (who was currently screaming her head off while lying on the smudged linoleum of the mechanic's waiting closet, circa 1968).
"Your dog must be in a container, ma'm." I rolled my eyes and repeated my strandedness. The woman offered some solutions, "How big is your purse, can you fit her in it? Do you have a diaper bag? A backpack?"
I stared down at my 30 lb puppy. No way.
I hung up the phone and stared at the clock. 9:02 OMG I have been catapulted into hell and it has wood paneling, broken office chairs and a collection of grubby Mr. Potato Heads.
10:27 the mechanic shares his discoveries. The problem is linked to a computer that they are not authorized to fix. I must make a trip to my car's dealership (3 hours away), and then they slapped me with a $103 bill for the labor. Yeah, slapped me.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I HAVE TO PAY FOR 97 MINUTES OF SHEER HELL? I HAVE TO PAY $103 FOR THIS??!!!!! The words bounced inside my head but all that came out was a weak, "Okay" as I handed them my credit card. I could feel my face burning with anger.
We loaded up in the car, I practiced my deep breathing, and we resumed our schedule, which was to correct the damaged birthday gift I had unknowingly purchased for John. I spent the drive dividing the mechanic's head into severed chunks with the sharp side of my Mastercard. I pulled up to Best Buy with Ana screaming in the back seat, she had just begun her pre-nap tantrum exercises. The clock was ticking. Did I mention I still had the dog? Who I had to leave in the car? Talk about forcing myself into hypertension.
I explained to the clerk at the counter how I had purchased this widget last week and when I got home I noticed that it was missing one of the accessories. He grabbed a new widget box and rang me up. Last week the widget was on sale for $179 and I had attempted a price matching discount unsuccessfully-the widget was on amazon for $149 but note: Best Buy considers Amazon too competitive to use for price matching, so don't try to use Amazon there. So, the returns clerk rings me up for the new widget and says, "Alright ma'm, that will be $199 today."
WTF? And what's with the MA'M today???
Again, tears well up, my face reddens, deep breathing. And then I muster up my best adolescent voice and argue, "But that's not fair!!!" with extra whine in my voice.
After another 20 minutes of waiting, spent attempting to reason with an over exhausted 2 year old who is laying on the floor (again) rolling under the DVD display box. Just about the time I'm about to fling myself onto the floor and cry, kick and scream, boy clerk arrives with the correct price from last week's sale, $179. My heart is racing, temples bulging, tears stinging.
The rest goes as expected, after carpool and arriving at the vet's office, which is teeming with every dog and pet owner imaginable, we wait over half a hour for the vet who is terrified of our chaos. He talks fast and louder over the kids. Ana's crying the entire time, the dog keeps trying to bite "the white coat man" which he says is truly a bad habit. He can't hand over stickers of distraction fast enough to my whining daughters and finally, before backing out of the waiting room door, he suggests we get ourselves a trainer to help with our "little monster".
Somebody kick me, I am definitely down.


Its Been So Long....

I've had entirely too much time to perform random acts of stupidity without writing and reflecting on it with you.
Life with three (two kids and one puppy) is just as much of a challenge as I feared. I haven't been faithful to you, oh bloggin world, and I am ever so sorry for leaving you (again) high and dry.
Which brings me to recap, in a nutshell, of all my chaotic thoughts and blunders as of late:
#1. Avoiding my car, as in not driving it, has done incredible things for my sense of calm. Try it sometime, a whole day without driving...ride your bike, walk to the grocery store, do without that orange juice for a day. Your blood pressure will drop, too.
#2. Kicking myself for unintentionally insulting people. I truly have a gift for opening my mouth, inserting my foot, and then obsessing over it lately.
#3. As I mentioned above, I am a faux MOT(mother of three) these days which deems me "one of you", not "one of them". And yet, in character, I managed to put my dear friend, Maureen on the defensive last weekend at an Easter Egg Hunt of all places. How many feet can one fit in one's mouth? Maureen, I dedicate my public humiliation to you along with my public apology. Can't tell you how many nights I laid in bed worrying about hurting your feelings. You're an amazing MOT whom I adore and admire. XOXO, G
#4. I've been running a lot more lately, which has done wonders for my happiness. I finally feel like myself again, an athletic prowess if you will. A "Can Do Attitude" that I missed for a bit after that second child arrived.
#5. I insulted my dentist. Yep, the WORST person to insult when your splayed in a chair with the good doctor's fists in your mouth. It went something like this: Dentist: Your hair looks adorable! Idiot: Thanks, I haven't been to the hair dresser in ages! And I just accidentally dyed my roots orange. (no, that's not the actual insult, although rebuffing her compliment was classy, wasn't it? I'm sorry, you have terrible taste in hair....) Dentist (age 45, silver and blond shoulder length hair): I never see my hair dresser regularly either. It's the blond, we can get away with letting it grow out longer. It seems to hide everything well. Idiot: Blond, orange, whatever, at least I don't have any grey yet!
...at least I don't have any grey yet? Did I have a death wish? I was staring up at a woman who clearly has plenty of grey! And my point was? Please just put me out of my misery and cut out my tongue while you're drilling my teeth out, doc.
#6. Is there a self help book about conversational etiquette? Somebody, please, throw me a title.
#7. I've managed to run off three babysitters since the school year began. They all keep moving away or getting "real jobs", at least that's the reason they gave me. After years of obsessing over introducing someone new to my fragile little family circle, I've managed to bombard my children with a new stranger every month. Guilt, guilt, guilt....
And my final thought for the day,
#8. Blasts from the past can be downright frightening. I was at a bar last night. Yeah, you heard me, "my neighborhood bar" (that sounds pretty cool, doesn't it?), and John and I were there (after bedtime routine, of course) to initiate our first Neighborhood Night at the local bar in our area. There was quite an eclectic group of friends and neighbors all standing around this rough biker bar looking out of place. I, on the other hand, felt quite out of place but did a darned good job of dressing the part...black boots, black riding pants, shear black T with a simple gun metal neck chain, heavy eye liner and a black motorcycle jacket. Biker Chic all the way. When I had a drink in my hand I mingled. There was the conversation with my girl neighbors where someone else opened her mouth and insulted the rest of us about how short hair (which we all have except for her) was a sign of old age. Birds of a feather, huh? At least I know I've picked the right neighbors. Then, there was a bidet incident but I'll save that one for another time. Back to my point about my past, I grew up in a valley town a few hours east of where I currently reside. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wasn't popular, I had the same boyfriend all four years, high school was not a rip roaring wildly fun time for me. I was there to get good grades so I could get the hell out of town and off to college to find myself. I spent so much of my high school years obsessing over how great college was going to be, I forgot to realize that I could enjoy high school. You might say I resented high school as a pimply-faced hurdle before college. There was a guy from my high school who had been quite serious with one of my best friends, we'll call him E, and last year E bought the house around the corner from us and moved in with his new wife. Kinda weird at first but I got over it, convinced by the fact that I really knew this guy, where he grew up, his background. I mean, it was actually comforting to know that I had another reliable, normal person in my neighborhood. He wasn't an axe murderer, I just hate when you get those neighbors moving in. So I warm up to the idea and one day John and I drive by to congratulate E and wife on their new house and they are chatting with a stranger in the yard, who turns and waves at me. Huh? Stranger=Ex boyfriend who I finally shook after 4 years of high school and 2 years of college, at which point I met my husband to be. O....K......um, hi....? You're here in E's yard one block from my life??
Well, back to the bar, I step outside to visit with E's wife last night and OMG, Mr. Ex is sitting at her table. Awkward greeting. It threw me off for the night for the simple fact that he is still single. Never married. And for me, that means he never moved on. Ugh. So it's weird the whole time and he plays pool with John (who handles this all like the rock star that he is) and I finally sidle up to John who agrees it's our last call. So I head to the bar to order a last round of beers and I'm lost in thought over how weird this is that I'm hanging out in a bar with people from my awkward past and my wonderful present life. When suddenly a man yells my name. HUH? Oh yeah, it's Nick Childers, the soccer star from high school who happens to be at this tiny dive bar with his buddy, Dillon Clives, the football star from our high school. Should I stop now? That's the part when the floor opens up and I fall down a dark tunnel while clicking my heels and shouting, "Somebody get me out of here!" Then I land smack in the middle of my high school prom wearing the most god awful dress and heels and my daughters are running around the dance floor shouting, where's daddy?
OK, who slipped something in my drink?


The Importance of Family

Funny how we spring from our nests so ready to buck the weight of parents, fly to new horizons and make our own way. But parents, they know it's just a matter of time before we creep back their way. We fly far, we find our own way, we build a nest to call our own. And then, we call mom to tell her how great our life is and promptly invite her and dad over so they can share our happiness over a glass of red wine.
Those impending grandmother's who demanded proper manners, insisted on socks in the house and slathered Vick's in our noses at night. The ones we visited on holidays and spent the whole weekend turning over the wooden horses and antique hot wheels wondering if this was dad's favorite toy when he was my age. We giggle the whole way home about the tuna salad sandwiches served with an extra side of mayonnaise and the stale jelly beans we found in a candy jar on the mantel. How grandma farted in the kitchen.
The fondness has set in and before they're gone-or I'm gone, I'm spending time with them. I'm sending cards and making visits. I'm calling mom and dad to invite them over for that glass of wine more often, no matter how we clashed over the latest political debacle. I'm appreciating that this is my family. That these are the stories that made me who I am and I'm proud of that. I want my daughters to see it all, to delight in every antique toy, the collections of porcelain clowns and depression glassware, to giggle over all the mayonnaise and tuna sandwiches they can.
This is family. This is now.


Piper: A Puppy's Pace

Her name is Piper. She has breathed new life into our household. Piddling on the rug- chewing leather flip flops-mauling the ferns-pooping in the kitchen-new life into our home. My daughters are infused with perpetual excitement. They're excited to greet Piper each morning, thrilled to take her out into the yard, every outing is new with Piper as part of our family.

After three years of living on the beach, even the simple act of walking on the sand has taken on a new level of enjoyment since Piper arrived.

Here is her story:

She is a rescue puppy out of Bakersfield. She is the product of a yellow Labrador and a golden retriever who gave birth to an accidental litter on January 14th and whose owner had the good sense to donate all 4 puppies to a rescue center for adoption. I found her through http://www.petmatchmaker.com/, a site I was at first skeptical and at last, in complete awe of and full of appreciation.

These amazing VOLUNTEERS collect, care for and foster hundreds of dogs from all over the greater Kern County. I had the pleasure of meeting Shelly, the foster parent to Piper and Piper's siblings, last week when I arrived to see this dream dog face-to-face. Shelly was quick to rattle off a long list of puppy care tips, what they eat, when to feed, how to potty train, what to avoid, recommended toys, where to sleep her, etc. etc. all before I had even agreed to take Piper home.

I had already put in a full day by the time I arrived at this afternoon meeting in Bakersfield, the prospect of deciding on a puppy that was right for my entire family was a daunting task but everyone made it easy, especially Piper. And before I was completely decided that this puppy was right for my family, the volunteers were packing up my paperwork, stuffing food samples into care bags along with chew toys and rawhide bones, there was the staggering exchange of cash (mine handed over to them, which is a tax donation, at least), and then the reality of living with this puppy for the rest of her hopefully long life hovering somewhere over my head...I nearly caused a three car accident just pulling out of the parking lot! My heart was thundering, palms sweaty, eyes blurred, OUCH! puppy chewing on my fingers as I made my way back to the freeway with a yellow fur ball twirling around in the laundry basket on my front seat. Dear God, what have I done?!
Pea stains and midnight wake ups, chewed shoes and shrieking children. I knitted my brow the first hour home. And again asked, Dear God, what have I done? Then I glanced up at the clouds and had a quiet conversation with Kiley, my first Labrador, my first dog who passed away last November. Is this the right dog? Is this the right time? Is it okay to love another dog? I felt as though I had gotten her approval, and I looked over at Piper and my soul was ready to love this baby dog. I spent the next few hours grinning at a snoring little puff beside me, who eventually found her way into my lap the last few miles of our drive.

I was excited for Piper to meet our family. By the time we approached our neighborhood I was feeling rather proud of myself for finding the right dog. The girls and I had had many conversations about the delicate act of pairing the right dog with the right family. They were prepared for me to return from this meeting with Piper dogless if she wasn't quite right for our family. I was anxious to see their faces when I pulled up!

I rounded the turn onto our street in time to see a silhouette of my family heading into the sunset towards the beach, clad in swimsuits and armed with sand toys. They all turned at once and yelled, "Mommy!" Their gallop back toward my car allowed me a few seconds to gather Piper in my arms so she could greet them at the car door.

The look on their faces said it all. Even John melted just a little bit at the sight of her.

This week alone she's been to the beach four times, on countless walks, to a birthday party, grandma's house, two playdates with endless little girls, to preschool with Ana, and kinder with Shelby, and to work with daddy.

This is a well traveled, well loved dog already. I think this picture says it all:


Match Maker, Match Maker, Make Me a Match

I have been cyberdating for rescue pets lately. Yep, my broken heart over my Kiley dog is finally ready to entertain the idea of finding a new puppy. And trust me, my family has been ready and waiting for me to catch on to the idea of a new dog for quite some time.
So I dragged myself to the Internet pet match making world and filled out my personal form, trying all the while not to over analyze the implication of this act. My conscience was screaming at me, "Get serious, woman, can you imagine what your dilapidated sofa will look like with puppy teeth in it? Say hello to midnight piddles and goodbye landscaping! Are you SURE you are ready to potty train ANOTHER baby? Your youngest is just wearing panties for the first time this month! What are you THINKING???!?!!!?!!?!!!"
I plugged my inner ears and continued to fill in the blanks on my pet match maker form:
"Female dog lover/ family of four/ loves taking long walks on the dog beach at sunset, prefers active runs to lazy naps, loves water, tolerates poop pick up, and enjoys long soapy baths in the yard...." you get the idea.
The form was rather specific, inquiring about the length and height of my fences (I tried not to take this too personally, if you know what I mean). Apparently, size does matter. Asking if any member of our family exhibit behavior problems...
The part where they asked if you had ever owned a dog was easy to check "Yes" as I misted over the memory of my 9 year old lab now buried beneath a shady walnut tree in a fruitful vineyard in Paso Robles. Bless her happy soul. I still really miss her.
But then the form asked, What happened to your last pet: A. Died of natural causes B. Hit by a car C. Gave up for adoption D. Died of illness
Oh gosh. The mere act of highlighting option 'B' was painful. HIT BY A CAR. Really?
Really. (It was an accident, Kiley slipped, she didn't mean to fall under the wheel, she was just playing chase...)
It took me over an hour to complete the form and then another hour to linger over the SUBMIT button, considering and reconsidering my readiness for pet dating.
I did it. And before I could open a cold beer with which to wash away my sorrows(and that annoying Anti-Puppy Conscience screaming about my white rugs), I heard "You've Got Mail!" blaring from the computer.
It was the illustrious pet match maker. She wanted to know more about the death of our dog. And I quote, "was she off leash? Did she jump the fence? Please explain..."
Now I felt like the inquisition was knocking. Couldn't she just consult her magic ball? She may have just come out and asked, was it YOUR FAULT that your dog died an untimely death???
I took the liberty at this time to write, edit, and rewrite the happy and sad tale of my dear Kiley from her first day in my arms to her last dying breath. It was a LONG nine year life and I took my sweet time describing and reliving every last detail. More misting.
The following day I received a sympathy response from her honor, pet match maker lady. She was sorry to learn of Kiley's tragic death and would let me know any progress on our match maker application soon....right after she called our vet's office and checked our references. Wow, this is serious shit; Pet Matching.
We are awaiting news on the possibility of adopting a rescued puppy. If you or anyone you know is interested in entering the cyber pet match making world, check out this website for a rescued pet near you:
I will be sure to keep updated news on any progress we make in the match making world of pets. Stay tuned.


A Perfect Ending

Day three of single parenting while husband working in San Diego.
Torrential Rains here.
Morning carpool.
Late again.
Tardy warning.
Coffee splashed on floor of car.
Volunteer work in kinder class.
Paint on my blouse. Paper cut.
Race home to get youngest.
Race back to pick up oldest.
Rainy day schedule=monster children.
Tired and cranky monsters to Trader Joe's.
World War IV before we get through parking lot.
World War VI in frozen food aisle.
Checkout disaster.
The checker won't offer "3 bells", no bag boy in his right mind will accompany us outside.
Disheveled, tired and crankier monsters back through parking lot.
More rain.
More wind.
Deep breaths.
Call husband to complain.
Husband describes surf and golf day followed by wine tasting in sunny San Diego.
More deep breaths.
Pay visit to sick, ancient grandma.
Hospital doors open, my girls begin snotting and hacking. Perfect.
Leave hospital.
Bickering on the brink of WW VIII.
Can't believe we have 2 more days without daddy.
Did he say he was eating breakfast at 11 this morning?
Rear end Toyota in front of us.
Perfect Ending to the Perfect Day.
Deep breathing.


My Toddler:Bossy Betty

The lights were out, the house was dark and quiet, when suddenly, the silence was broken by the pitter patter of little feet followed by the slip of a slinky blanket dragging behind her.
"Mommy," she half barked half whispered, "You nod gonna sleepin yo' bed. You gonna sleep in my bed."
And there was a pause as I opened my eyes to realize this was not a dream. That my orders were being barked from a blond 3 foot tall Drill Sargent.
"COME!" yelled the little voice from beside my bed.


Home Sick Again: A Winning Agenda

It seems like more often my daughters and I are whiling away our days home sick than we are out and about on our daily routine. Depending on the course of the illness and it's severity, we parents are stranded at home, quarantined from the outside world to fend for ourselves inside the confines of our germ infested homes with no resources but a few fashion mags, a fly swatter and some overdue DVDs. What is a mother to do?
And so, I write this entry to you at the end of another long, coughing, feverish, dreary day of sick spent at home. Croup called last night at 10:34 and she just wouldn't take a hike, plastering her filthy mucus all over my tiny toddler's bronchi. To beat all, I finally left croup outside in the damp night air and laid my youngest to rest in her bed when the older one, already laden with snot and a clattering cough herself, groaned and moaned until I discovered she was in dire need of a wardrobe change having sweat clean through everything on her and her mattress.
One might venture to guess that this midnight excitement would lead to a very long and event less day spent at home, sick again.
My Petri Family has recently earned our expert badge at parent guided entertainment and I thought I'd share a few of our discoveries with you. Odds are good you may find yourself holed up in your house with a few sicklies yourself sometime soon (not that I'm willing it so, or anything...CURSE YOU HEALTHY PEOPLE!!!!)
www.activitytv.com An amazing resource for all sorts of super cool age appropriate activities including science experiments (how to make slime, or a volcano explode), magic tricks, crafts, dancing exercises, jewelry making, I can't name them all. Each activity on the website has a coordinating video tutorial you and your kiddos can watch together online. I recommend checking out the trippy (and yes, entertaining) yoga videos for you and your kids to participate in.
Buy this book if your children are under the age of 10. Trust me, YOU NEED IT: UNPLUGGED PLAY. No Batteries. No Plugs. Pure Fun. By Bobbi Conner. It is a tremendous resource for all things play related. And it categorizes them not only by age group (Toddler Play Ages 1-2, Preschool Play Ages 3-5, etc.) but it also separates the age groups into Outdoor Play, Parent and Child Play, Birthday Party Play, and many others including my fav, SOLO PLAY. We managed to do 4 activities from this book this morning and the set up and cleanup was 2 seconds. Nearly every activity will leave you thinking, why didn't I think of that! But the 300+pages of jam packed activities requiring little else than what you have in your pantry and your toy chest will not leave your family disappointed. Check out the website, www.unpluggedplay.com and from here you can buy it on amazon.com for under $12. Or you can check your local library. A great gift, too!
And last, and I'm not so proud of this one, is our recent membership with Netflix.com. We just agreed to the monthly membership for $15.99 but I couldn't put a price on the invaluable PLAY ON MY COMPUTER button on that website!!! Even the volume is louder so those of us with bargain laptops can actually HEAR the movies! This morning, I delivered breakfast in bed to both of my sickly girls and then set up the computer and, you will not believe this, left them to their Scooby Doo Movie vices and dry cereal until 9:15!!!!! Yeah, you can only imagine how I enjoyed my QUIET, ALONE, COFFEE DRINKING, PAPER READING TIME ALL TO MYSELF!!!
It almost made the other 7 hours at home inside our 1000 square foot house with two kids bearable.


Mommy Made A Mistake,Should I Lie?

It was Sunday morning and the scene was set for a massive breakfast of syrupy banana pancakes and slabs of crispy bacon. My entire family was buzzing about the enormously cool science experiment gift we had spent all weekend constructing for a friend's 5 year old birthday party. The party was themed "The Mad Science Lab" (so cool, right?!) and we had been looking forward to it all week. Today was finally the day and right after breakfast we intended to twiddle our thumbs for the next torturous hours until departure for the party.
My phone buzzed with a text in my pocket as we tucked into our breakfast. It read, "We missed you yesterday! I hope you're feeling okay. It was a great party!" or something to that effect.
My eyeballs popped out, hitting John square in the forehead, and when he returned them to me, we both dragged our sleepy lids to the cork board where the invitation hung. Like a bad silent film, the background noise thick with the murmur of sticky chewing, we squinted at the fine print to realize that yes, in fact, the much anticipated Science Lab Party had already come and gone. It had been on Saturday, NOT SUNDAY!
I wrung my hands as John and I exchanged shocked stares and then locked our eyes on the very soon to be disappointed 5 year old who could barely stay seated through breakfast she was so excited to attend this party today...
I jumped from the table, grabbed my phone and made the most horrifyingly sad and embarrassing phone call to apologize to the hosts and consider my options.
A side note: This is NOT the first or the SECOND birthday party I have missed due to hair brained stupidity. The worst one was the Park Princess Party where we inadvertently showed up to the same park to play and realized upon arrival that (it is physically impossible to vanish into thin air from embarrassment) we had RSVP'd to this Park Princess Party weeks ago and had completely forgotten...a gift, a princess costume, or most importantly, the date. The father, decked out in a tuxedo, greeted us at the swings as I bumbled some lame excuse about being 6 months pregnant and completely idiotic for forgetting their child's special day completely! OMG, I am such a bad person.
The mother and I, after establishing the advanced level of STUPID that I am, agreed to arrange a private playdate this morning so that we could personally deliver our gift to the birthday boy.
"But, what do I tell Shelby??" I whined to her over the phone, as if it was up to her to solve my shortcomings.
"Well, aside from seeing a shrink about your idiocy...(that's what she should have said anyway)you have to tell her you missed the party because there are balloons all over our house right now and she'll notice when you arrive," she began (notice how she said "YOU MISSED the party", yeah, that was very appropriate, salt in the wound....couldn't she just POP all those damned balloons for me???? Hide the leftover birthday cake, rip down the streamers and birthday signs, for God sakes!), "and 'R' is going to tell her all about the party because he's still so excited about it!"
RATS! I scoured the bathroom walls for a black hole in which I could fling myself. Nothing. I chewed my lip, wrung my hands. And then, after hashing out the details of our date, I hung up and paced across my 3 foot by 3 foot bathroom. An interesting feat of nervousness. Pace, turn, pace, turn, pace...dizzy. I stumbled out of the bathroom and met John. "What are you going to tell her?" he hissed, "You can't tell her she missed the party! She'll completely lose it!"
True. She will lose it.
And then he offered me an out, "I just mentioned that the party might have been cancelled."
And for a moment, I played out the party cancellation in my mind, the excuses, the convincing. It just seemed like a lot of deceptive work.
"I have to tell her the truth. I screwed up, John. I have to be honest. We can still got to the house and deliver our gift and play with the boys. They're expecting us. But there are balloons and streamers all over their house, she's going to know that the party wasn't 'canceled'."
And then he grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "Well, soldier, wipe that look off your face before you break the news. SMILE!" And then he slapped me across the face.
I pulled myself together, put on a happy face, and broke the news, sugar coated with words like, "Private Birthday Playdate" and "All the New Toys to Play With" and "I AM SO SORRY".
She didn't cry, not one tear. She handled it better than I did. She showed me some disappointment, tears welled up before she blinked them back (more salt in the wound, I swear!) and then she ran to her room, threw on her shoes and said, "Then let's hurry up and get there so we can play!"
Wow, honesty really is the best policy. And resilience is the most admirable trait in children. I'm so relieved that things worked out. And now for that phone call to a new shrink. Where did I put my address book?!


Pinnochio-A Disney Classic

John and I had fought the national television invasion and its technology counterparts for many years. Especially once our second child came along. Yep, we haven't subscribed to cable or channeled any free local channels on TV since 2004. We weren't giving in to all that American propaganda they sell you on public television. We simply wouldn't rot our brains with force fed consumerism and gyrating half naked bodies...for the sake of the children, of course.
When Shelby turned 4 we broke down and purchased an iPod for music storage. Then we realized the darned thing held movies. A lot of them. (Wow, this thing is pretty amazing!) We made our first trip to San Diego and before we knew it, silence overtook the cab of our vehicle...for THREE HOURS!!! OMG, this iPod thing was a miracle! A set of kiddy headphones and two pudgy hands to grip the iPod and we were all set for glorious road trips, one movie at a time.
iPod invented the "LOCK" button for parents like us.
We had one finger on our anti-TV dignity until black Friday came around this Christmas. Right before our big road trip to Lake Tahoe. Shelby was now the ripe old age of 5 and little Ana, at age 2, was already a bona fide movie junkie. So we sprang for Target's latest deal, an RCA-7-inch-dual-screen-DVD-player for only $89.99. A small price to pay for road trip sanity, me thinks.
There you have it, our parental fall from grace. Never say never, I always say....
John made a point that this beautiful-RCA-7-inch-dual-screen-DVD-player-bringing-silence-and-joy-to-all-those-persons-riding-inside-this-vehicle would only be turned on when we embarked on LONG road trips.
Sure buddy.
When you drive 17 miles to and from school twice a day with two 5 year olds and a 2 year old in your car, that DVD player sure comes in handy. Road Trip, Shmoad Trip. You can't put a price on 20 minutes of silence.
On to the point of my story. The girls and our carpool buddy were once again glued to their screens in the back seat as they watched the preview to their first film of their morning commute. I happily hummed along to the theme song from Disney's Pinocchio as the commentator sold the girls on the latest revised edition of the age old classic. "Pinocchio," sang the dreamy fairy from the film, "a boy made of pine."
And then, the little girl we carpool with giggled and repeated, as only a five year old could, "Peeenochio! Hahaha, a boy made of PIE!!!"


Why Does Everyone Want to Be The Mommy?

I was drawn back into the bathroom (Yes, I left my daughters alone in the bathtub. There. I admitted it.) by shrieks and squabbles that sounded something like this:
"No, Ana, I want to be the mommy!"
My two year old whined back with equal gusto, "NO! I be da MOMMYYY!!!"

And I wondered to myself while this ear piercing scene unfolded, "Why would anyone want to be the mommy?"
Could it be the terribly relaxing outings of buckling and unbuckling multiple car seats while balancing a diaper/wipes/snacks/sippy -laden purse on one shoulder and pinning the other child to the car in hopes of avoiding a parking lot accident. Only to arrive at whatever public place for another publicly humiliating scene where her children empty the basket of lipsticks on aisle 4, knock down a display of macaroni n'cheese and then proceed to rearrange the greeting card section. When she arrives home she realizes she forgot to pick up the prescription she went there for in the first place.
Oh no, it's got to be those amazingly romantic dinners where Mommy touches her sagging buttocks to the dining chair for 2 seconds before someone demands another cup of water or a different fork. Where everyone in the family devours the food Mommy slaved over for the past two hours without so much as a "Wow, you're an amazing cook! This meal is the most delicious thing I've had all day! THANK YOU!" or simply put, "You Rule, Mommy." Mommy jumps up and down like a Jack-In-The-Box while the rest of her family sits, eats and converses. When they've finished, the table strewn with empty plates and cups, she can shovel her cold meal alone while downing a lukewarm beer. Then Mommy gets to tackle the dinner dishes and THEN round up the kids for bedtime.
Remind me why everyone wants to be the mommy? It's not like Mommies are ever in control. Or get to do what they wish? Why doesn't anyone ever want to be the Daddy? I think he's got it pretty good. He not only leaves the house alone, but he's in charge of himself and several others all day long!! And he goes out for lunch with other adults. What more could we ask for? These poor children have been mislead. Who wants to be the Daddy?!?! I do.


Life At Random

I want you to know that my dream boots really are all that I imagined them. Aside from the lack of self massaging soles (yeah, for that price I think these shoes should give a little back to this owner), they are incredibly comfortable and just as fab as I had hoped. I wore them to ZAP's Grand Tasting at Fort Mason in San Francisco last weekend, for those non-winery people this is a HUGE wine tasting of Zinfandels around the country. I stood on concrete in them from 10 to 5 and never flinched. Then I added some earrings to my outfit and hit the town for dinner...without ever taking my boots off. Made it out until 10 before exhaustion set in-the kids, of course, NOT ME!

On a family note, if you haven't been to the San Francisco Cable Car Museum you should definitely add it to your itinerary. First off, the admission is FREE. Since when does that exist? And it's located ON a cable car route. Our entire family LOVED seeing how it all worked. We also LOVED Pier 39 on Fisherman's Wharf. There's the two story carousel and an amazing Houdini Magic Shop with employees who do tricks for your kids! For $10 you can watch your kid launch dangerously near the sun on a bungee trampoline. See below:

I fear the PTA is going to swallow me whole this year. I attended my first "committee meeting" and have resisted the urge to sign my soul away on the dotted line but I know the time will come. Those women are ravenous for new blood. YIKES! I'll be sure to keep you posted as my daughter's school organizes their first major fund raiser, a school wide art auction, and the sanctity of my soul.

I am horribly embarrassed by the idiots from Idaho who tried to sneak Haitian children out of Haiti last week. What assholes. Of all the lowdown, dirty, horrid acts of inhumanity during such a tragic time. Missionaries Shmissionaries, let 'em rot in jail.


Dream Boots

I bought my dream boots on accident. Yep, it was purely a Freudian Slip. A mistake. And now, they've been sitting at the post office for a week because I am crippled with guilt.
Let's rewind to last month. I had obsessed over black boots for the past three years. Seeking, searching, shopping and researching with plenty of dead ends and lots of send backs. And more recently, having finally discovered "The Perfect Black Boots" at a perfectly ridiculous price...I've been obsessing over these boots for the past three months. "They have got to be somewhere in my size!" I lamented. And they have got to be ON SALE!....SOMEWHERE.
I've emailed, I've googled, eBayed. I've researched and cross referenced. I even emailed the owner of a retail store who carries these boots so I could inquire about buying them. "They're gone", she replied. This particular designer makes a limited number of boots and releases them every fall. These shoes sell out, and when they're gone, they're gone. "You'll have to wait until next fall's release." NEXT FALL!?!?!
And you're scratching your head because you're wondering what sort of fashion hole I fell into that I'm buying boots direct from a limited supply designer. Yeah, I myself was wondering the same question. And my husband thinks I belong in a loony bin, too...right after I check myself into a credit consolidating group.
But they are THE PERFECT BLACK BOOTS! And because he married me, he grudgingly entertained a conversation about these boots- so high priced, we could landscape our yard for the same price. Well, sort of.
The conversation went something like this: "Look at how fabulous they are!"
"Uh huh....why are they so expensive?"
"Well, they're handmade in Italy. They are perfect. AND they fold down to an ankle boot so...really, you get TWO boots in one! It's the price of TWO SHOES!!!!"
"Uh-huh....okay, you said they'd be available in September?"
"Yeah (drool)."
"Why don't you just save up a little piano lesson money from now until the release and then you can buy them?"
The man IS brilliant. And compassionate. And wonderful.
So, we struck a deal, right then. He would make me wait. And I would have the boots and the cash to pay for them.
And then, one late night, eBay jumped out of my computer and beckoned me to search for my perfect boots....just to check....just to see....because maybe....
They were there!!! In my size!!! And in black and perfect as ever. There was no way the owner would accept a low bid. They're perfect! But just in case.... I threw out a number. A number that was HALF THE PRICE. She couldn't possibly accept. I mean, the price was almost reasonable.
And then I closed the computer and fell asleep.
The next day I was getting eBay emails and congratulations all over the computer. YOU WON! You're bid was accepted! CONGRATULATIONS????????????????
For three days I lie in wait to break the news to John, my wonderful, understanding thoughtful husband. And when he finally conceded to my insanity---HALF PRICE!!!!! I pressed the PAY button. (Only after scraping every nickel and dime from the sofa cushions, raiding my daughters' piggy banks, and cashing their last Christmas checks). And when everything was calm, he added, "But you can't wear them until you have saved up the money."
I needed cash, quick.
The post office called-you have a package for pickup. It needs a signature.
I drove by the post office today, hoping to catch a glimpse of a sparkling box blaring the words THE PERFECT BLACK BOOTS. I think I'd better pick them up soon. If I wait any longer my mail carrier is gonna be rocking the most PERFECT BLACK BOOTS to accompany his mustache any day now.
Rocking these gorgeous jaw dropping boots in leather perfection:

In case he wants to know just how to wear them while delivering my mail, and for the rest of you readers, YouTube breaks it down here:


To My Daughter

If ever you wondered what you were like when you were five I'd have this to say: These days, you spend more time practicing head stands than you do standing on your feet! You are obsessed with dessert, a treat after every meal. You're a kind hearted soul who does not strike back. You are a cuddle bug, especially in the morning. Your temper is more often sweet and mellow. But you have your feisty days, too. You're always quick to rebound, from a setback, a tantrum, or even a booboo. You own 13 pairs of shoes, a sure bet to your fashionable future, and thoroughly delight in the coordinating of everyday outfits. Falling asleep is a knack you have mastered. Your sister is your best friend and on many nights the two of you are chatting or spying together from your room. Your love for art and music has been apparent early on, but more recently you have shined in all coloring, painting, cutting and creating. Your kinder afternoons, during "Selection Time", are ALWAYS spent at the art table making books, headbands and paper dolls with matching outfits. Singing is a habit and your self made rhyming songs will forever impress me. You love your long hair and "big girl fringe". I love you more than life itself. I look forward to watching you grow up, but equally wish I could freeze you in time to enjoy you just as your are; small, sweet and perfect.
XOXO Your Mommy



The American Self Sabotage: See Ad running to the right of this blog. For the past few days I've watched this "Pregnancy Pact" advertisement run alongside my blog. If it's still running, you have got to skim it. What are these people doing to us????
A bunch of hot teenagers with pregger bumps. Like this won't influence any teens into the notion of motherhood. Because if you have a bump like this, you'll get to drive a convertible BMW and carry a Gucci diaper bag. Put it on Showtime and anything's cool. These networks air these phenomenons as though it wasn't their idea, they're just doing the public a favor by making it public. They feel like people should know about these things. Because sensationalism just isn't how they roll. WTF?!


Enough With The Bodily Fluids Already

It was 10:30 and all was dark and quiet in our sleepy household. The silence was broken with retching sounds from Shelby's bed, and then the clear splat of lunch and dinner hitting all things unclean able. I found myself scraping hot dogs off the wall and lugging out loads of sheets to the front porch. I'll save the rest of the details for some other time. You get my point.
The following morning was hosing and spraying and bleaching and scrubbing and staying home all day without school.
We had two good days after this, routine resumed, life was peachy. Then Thursday morning brought the littlest one with the biggest vomit. All over the sofa. What followed was three days of intense grey poupon (a telling title).
Yesterday we were normal! I swear. Happy, eating, sleeping, even limited diaper changes. Blissful regularity.
Then somehow John and I simultaneously clogged our toilet so I spent my evening, because he swore it was MY fault, plunging the nastiness. Just when things were looking up the toilet overflowed. BleauchghhhH!! Sopping up sewage at the end of an already disastrous week.
The fun could only continue. I spent the better portion from midnight to 3 am yakking my brains out. Apparently I got the bug, too. And now I'm laid up at home feeling sorry for myself, sipping Gatorade and clutching my stomach.
Enough with the bodily fluids already.


Writer's Block?

Don't have much of an explanation for my long absence. A sad tragedy. A whole in my heart. An evaluation of life and family. A new found joy in holiday. A zest to simplify. Getting pummeled with a gazillion illnesses. A lack of motivation. A desire to organize my closets. A wonderful point in life just waiting to be recorded. Guilt for disappearing.
Let's just say I'm back.


Munchkinland:You can have your crazy back.

Our day began with a breakfast vomit. My youngest, a whole 2.45 years of age barfed up every cup of milk consumed in the past 12 hours plus a few remnants of mac n'cheese. We spent the rest of the day in hibernation.
By evening I was desperate to fill her tummy with something. Anything. In the past 8 hours she had consumed a total of 2 cups of milk (probably gonna see that again), 1 cup of Gatorade (maybe a creamy shade of pink), and 6 Tinkerbell gummies. I was expecting a whole rainbow of regurgitation on our new white rug any second...
She refused dinner which, if they were smart, everyone in the family should have refused because it was hardly edible (cooked by yours truly). I offered her an after dinner hot dog which she promptly rejected. Big Sis had requested dessert..."Cake!" squeaked the emaciated toddler from her blanketed ANTI-VOMIT throne on the sofa (an afterthought, really).
It was like that first beer after a long surf, an immediate buzz. The cake hit her empty belly and dull, dreary, sleepy Ana transformed before our eyes into flittering bouncing happiness with a Dr. Evil Giggle after one too many hits from the silly balloon.
"Mwaahhaha-haha-haha!" If Munchkinland ever had a bad seed in their county, I'm pretty sure she recently escaped on a tiny bubble and landed in my living room.
We tried story time. She tried the high jump on her new mattress. We tried bed time. She tried a laser show: slinging stars around the room from her ladybug nightlight in various shades and announcing, "Dreen!" "Poorple!" and "Red! Mwaahhaha-haha-haha!".
When John and I were sure the oldest was sound asleep, we left Dr. Evil to her vices and headed for bed. The clock blaring 9:48.
Minutes later, the speedy pitter patter of sugar high led her bolting around the foot of our bed. Thankfully, to John's side, where he pulled her up beside him. And then she announced, "My have a poopy diapah! Mwaahhaha-haha-haha!"
John rolled his eyes and facetiously inquired, "Who are YOU?"
To which she offered in her highest, cutest lil munchkinland voice, "I'm Ana, Daddy! Mwaahhaha-haha-haha!"