Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It's been too long since I've written, and now that I sit down to do it, I find myself walking a very shaky line. On the one side is a lot of doubt. On the other side is I'm not sure what.

What to say? What to do? What matters now?

I don't know one soul personally in the whole state of Connecticut, let alone in Newtown, and yet, I feel like someone I love has died. I find myself heartbroken and shaking my head (and simultaneously thanking my lucky stars) every time I hold Eight and Ten - which I've done A LOT lately. Every time I walk by their bedroom, or see the handmade artwork on the wall in the kitchen that says "Sisterz 4 Ever!", or find a little shoe in the hallway. I breathe them in at night and realize that if I couldn't do that anymore, I wouldn't be able to breathe in at all, ever.

It's too huge, too terrifying, to lose a child to unexpected violence. To lose a child at all. My Mom did it when her baby was 45. My Aunt did it when her baby was 19. And all the moms and dads and families in Newtown who have been forever changed by this, experienced their loss when their babies were 6 or 7.

Every time I see the children's faces or hear their names, my mind races instantly to all the dashed hopes and dreams. I try to stay away from how those classrooms must have looked afterwards, and think backwards instead. I think of how those parents thought of baby names during the pregnancy, and gave the one they felt was perfect to that new little life. The name that was called down the hallway countless times already. The name that would never need to be called again to hurry to soccer, or to come finish breakfast, or to see the fireworks on the Fourth of July. The tiny socks that have been put on perfect feet. All the blankets that have been tucked in to ensure a cozy night of sleep. The soft pajamas that were just changed out of a couple hours before. The small hands that have been held, the cheeks that have been kissed, the hair brushed, the tears dried. And I cry again for those parents who have an empty space in their lives and homes now, if not in their hearts.

So on that dark side, I see loss, devastation, and all that matters having been shattered. I myself have been doubled over, but how do you get back up when you've been slammed to the floor? What does this blog matter? Who cares what I, or anyone else writes? What does it matter if there's food in the house, or a dog who still wants his walk, or a job to do, when the most important job of all has been ripped away from so many? How do you stand, when your world has been so violently tipped over that nothing is where or how it should be? And never will be again. Because there is a new normal now for them. The house is upside down and everything has fallen out of the closets and shelves, and there is a wicked mess to try to find the energy to clean up. And things won't fit where they used to, and I don't imagine much will feel or look right anymore. And all the artwork from preschool, and all the hand-me-downs saved, and all the holiday gifts wrapped especially for them are strewn about the hallways of the house and the mind and where does any of it belong now?

But. That's in Newtown. And I have to find what's on the other side of that shaky line I walk here in California.

I know that - and I thank God that - as much as I feel for these families, that isn't my life. That didn't happen to me or my babies. And it's a lot easier for me to place meaning onto the mundane as it ever will be again for the families who are affected. So off I go to the store, or to walk the dog, or to water the Christmas tree.

And hopefully children in my area will benefit from the sadness I do feel, because it is pushing me to drop more goodies in the Toys for Tots bin at our own elementary school. It's driving me to adopt a family for Christmas at church and stuff stockings for charity. Because if I am lucky enough to care for and love my own children for another day, another year, my whole lifetime (God willing), then I want to share that love and luck with someone else's child. A child who is alive and who deserves to thrive and rejoice this time of year and all year round.

And so, in the name of Allison, Ana, Avielle, Benjamin, Caroline, Catherine, Charlotte, Chase, Daniel, Dylan, Emilie, Grace, Jack, James, Jesse, Jessica, Josephine, Madeline, Noah, and Olivia, I will. I will love my kids, and smile at the kids around me, and pray for all those sent to heaven too soon. I will pray too, for more peace on earth, and I will hope for healing and I will protect the innocence of children, because it's gone too quickly.

It's going to be a lot of love given and a lot of prayers sent up, and those in heaven will rejoice, and those on earth will heal.

Maybe if I say it and write it and breathe in (and outhale) a lot it will be true.


I hope. God how I hope.

I think I just found what's on the other side of that shaky line. It's hope. I'm going to try to focus on that and keep my balance at the same time. 

Here's to a holiday season filled with love and a new year filled with, you guessed it, hope.


Friday, November 9, 2012


You guys, I'm dizzy.

I feel like so much around me is just spinning so quickly. And I'm drawn to all of it, because it's all stuff I care about, so I spend my days like a kitten trying to keep her eye on that red light laser pointer. Heart pounding, blinking and staring, shifting focus frenetically from one moving target to another, panic rising and falling. Granted, like a cat, I don't like change that much. It's just not my thing. And there are a lot of things around me that have been the same for a good few years that are now changing. So I'm way off-kilter. And some of the change is kind of scandalous, and I'm a smut-lover, so I can't keep myself from asking, hearing, talking, thinking about it. What will happen next? You think so?? But what if x happens before y? Then what? OMG really?? Is that your phone? Who is it?? And then it's like pins and needles waiting for the next update, the next email, the next hot text to buzz in.

But now the pins and needles have me all pricked up and exhausted. It's hard to hear about freaky things happening to people you care about, and even harder to endure the freaky things yourself, right? Sometimes you end up talking everyone off the ledge, only to turn around and realize your own toes are right up on the edge. So you spend a few moments getting centered, finding balance, and carefully backing away, closer to safety.

I think usually good comes from bad. I believe most things happen for a reason, even if the reason doesn't make itself known for years (or ever). Some things never make much sense and bad things happen to good people, which blows the theory out of the water sometimes. But the karma train always pulls into the station. It's late sometimes, but it's forever on track.

So I wasn't writing, because I needed to take a step back and sit. Sit and wait for the karma train to pull into its stations. Because I feel like not only are things spinning around me - amazing work situations getting twisted, trusted "friends" telling boldfaces lies over the course of a year, other friends being secretly manipulated by business partners, and yet other friends getting fucked by their life partners (and not in the really delicious, horizontal way)...but the whole world is spinning so fast even that superstorms and snowstorms and rainstorms are slamming into the country. Even when I try to escape into a couple blogs I like to read, I'm hit by the spin - they are both now writing about their own crumbling marriages. One of them is doing amazing things for other people, but when you click on her link to see if maybe you want to help, you read horrible stories about all these people in desperate need which creates yet another spin of worry and guilt and fret. It's nuts, I tell you.

But if I turn away from it for just a while, it gives my eyes time to refocus on what's not spinning. And once I hone in on what's steady, I can once again breathe deep and create a thankful space. I can be grateful for what I keep around me. I can simplify without apology. I can listen to music (Bieber, anyone? Keep reading...). Drink tea. Watch leaves fall. Smile even when I don't feel like it, because it feels better afterwards. Linger in the hugs offered up by the smallest members of my family. Relish the bigness and hairy-ness of the puppy who doesn't realize that 120-pound dogs don't belong on my trachea. And yes, relax long enough to indulge in that delicious, horizontal activity with the gorgeous, traveling husband (if either of us can stay awake after our heads hit the pillows). 

Why do we as women internalize so much? Why do our heartstrings tie themselves to everyone we love? Why can't we ever just detach and say, Wow that sucks...good luck with that, and then go back to flipping channels? God, Chicago and I have been dwelling on every minute detail of each other's lives for years now. It's what makes life feel real. If we haven't shared it with each other, it hasn't happened yet.

Maybe life is just like the ocean...except I like life and the ocean scares the bejesus out of me. Wait, life scares my bejesus too. Okay, so life=ocean. Some stuff is so gorgeous and mind blowing, and then there are the sticky monsters the size of your local mall. Also prickly stuff, and poison, and invisible things that you have no idea are upon you until you get zapped, and things (people?) that look pretty but are really, really deadly. By nature they are. They grow beautiful to draw you in and just when you get close enough to really enjoy it, BOOM. Poison prickles all over you. Or, lies and deception. Whichever.

I've been through enough over the last month or so to rethink a whole lot of things. Decisions, relationships, commitments. And I've decided I'm backing away from the deadly, pretty things and backing into the comforts of home. I'm baking pumpkin bread and lighting candles. I'm ordering peppermint mochas in a holiday cup. I'm calling my mom just because hearing her voice makes me feel loved from the bottom of my heart. I'm writing. And I'm going to listen to Justin Bieber. You should too. Here's why:

1. He is adorable. At his concert, I saw full-grown girls, young women really, sobbing hysterically because during the meet and greet, he called them "Love". (Now, Eight and Ten - holy shit you guys, Nine turned Ten last month - are just a couple years and a few hormones shy of the crying over boys phase, so they were bewildered. Justin called Eight "Lil Cutie" and I had to remind her to do a fist bump because it's Justin Freaking Bieber and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the love of Christ. He called Ten "Sugar", I think, but I was so dizzy from life and everything spinning around me and the crying women that I was still thinking in my head "Did he just go in for a hug from me and I shook his hand? Why did I shake his hand? Why not hug it out? He called me "Darlin"; he probably misses his mom and wanted a hug. Maybe because he could be my son and it just felt wrong?". And then the photo op was done (after he called the husband "Big Dog") and we were off to eat chicken tenders and fries, and buy commemorative t-shirts, and watch more girls cry until the show started.)

2. He has good opening acts. Carly Rae Jepsen is cute as a button. And so is Cody Simpson. In case you haven't heard of him, he's an Aussie surfer dude who will now be an Aussie super star, thanks to the Biebs.

3. His concert was totally age-appropriate. His back up dancers didn't look like strippers; they looked like high school dance team members. They wore cute outfits and weren't trying to seduce anyone, they were all about the good energy and the music. Mother-approved. (Jesus, now I feel like I'm wearing mom jeans. I swear I'm not.)

4. Justin wears genie pants. Okay they aren't officially, but his pants have a super long crotch, which he grabs at a lot (which enhances the older girls' sobbing hysteria, no doubt), and I kept thinking maybe he should just get some skinny jeans with some stretch so he doesn't have to do that awkward side leap up the step on the stage. But, a stylist, I'm not. And clearly, he's not an unpopular guy, so, go ahead and rock the custom genie pants, JB.

5. He's different in person than on stage. Now, that could have been the reefer talking (I'm not saying he was high. Perhaps he was just saving his energy and wearing a musky, earthy cologne.), but he was super mellow and cool when we met him, as evidenced by his raised eyebrows, tall cap and sunglasses in our photo. He was also crazy skinny. He looked a lot like Claymation. Then on stage he was all energy and smiles and charm and soul and voice. And I saw a recent picture of him from the Victoria's Secret runway show (seriously, this kid is living a dream) and he had biceps, which from what I saw, had to have been photoshopped in. He seemed more like Gumby to me than he did a macho man, but what do I know.

So today, don't feel bad if closing your eyes against the spin of your world feels good. Don't apologize if listening to Justin (or Keith or Pink or Kelly or Anya) cools your jets today. Get and give hugs, have some tea with your pumpkin bread and breathe deep as you can, because life is good and you're okay and right now, so am I. :)


Saturday, September 29, 2012


I was at Starbucks the other day, and I hate to go off on a tangent already, especially since you've obviously been waiting a month for a new post from me, but listen. If you're an indie coffee house person, don't judge me. I don't discriminate against any place that will give me my morning caffeine fix. But the last time I went to the indie coffee shop in my town, I sat at a table near another table where a man sat and very methodically took African carved statue after African carved statue out of a plastic shopping bag (I know, I can't believe Crazy wasn't carting his treasures around town in a reusable bag either...the nerve), placing them carefully on the table, then rearranging them slowly, thoughtfully, again and again, until they were in just the right position to watch him sip his coffee. I texted a photo of him (What? I was super 007 about capturing the moment.) to the traveling husband and his response was "You need to get out of there.".


I was at Starbucks the other day, and as I waited for my cup, I took stock of the situation. You know, I was people-watching. I looked at the girl in front of me in line and as I pondered her toes, which were visible to me because she had flip flops on, I thought, WTF lady? Your toes are in bad shape. I don't want to see this pre-coffee. Get a pedicure, or do like I do, which is go with a closed toe shoe. 

And that got me thinking about my toes, which are in fact, not as pedicured as they probably should be, and yet how many times have I thrown on my flips and rushed out of the house to run around town and do whatever it is I have to do? And how many other people have looked down at my toes and thought, Jesus lady, cover those dry little sausages up? I caught a glimpse of my own toes in a mirror in the shoe section of a store I was in recently and I gave my own self the same scolding. 

Which then got me thinking, how am I seen? What do people think of me when they look at me, my kids, my car, my clothes? How am I perceived by what I put out there every day? Are strangers and friends alike thinking, Not that outfit again? Or, Seriously, would some time with the flat iron kill her? Or, Does she honestly think that long sweater hides the circumference of that ass? Or worse, Does she really think that her smile hides the fact that she's a scribbly ball of stress?

I can't tell you how many days I've wrangled my curly hair back into a messy bun - I don't even have to think about it anymore, I just do it. And I sort of tell myself it looks stylish, like one of those pretty, it-looks-half-thought-about-but-it's-very-intentional messy buns you see on Pinterest or on the red carpet. But really, I fear it just makes me look as harried as I feel. Don't get me wrong, if I left my curly hair down for all to see, I would either look like Tim Lincecum or Charlize Theron's character in Monster, but with brown hair. So I don't have much of a choice at this time.

And speaking of colors of hair, Lord have mercy but the husband plucked FOUR gray hairs out of my head the other day. We both nearly shed a tear. I've avoided the gray up until now and been quite happy about it. So now I'm an OLD and quite possibly heavier version of Charlize Theron's character in Monster? Fabulous.

Back to the subject at hand. It feels like life zips by so fast. I can't believe it's already almost October and I barely got to savor September. Not one apple cider has been had yet. Nary a pumpkin bought. I need some cinnamon spice candles, pronto. I wake up each day, and am aware instantly of my brain being so full of what's on tap for that day, or whether the tap water is safe to drink from the old pipes in this old, old house, or who is tapping their toes, tap, tap, TAP, waiting for me to take them to school, or fill his bowl with fresh water, or fold the laundry so he can go on his next business trip, that I spend my days in a fog, just roaming from one calendar reminder to the next.

It barely occurs to me that while I feel the way I always have, I'm not 23 anymore. Not even close. And that I should probably take care with what I put out into the visual universe every day, apart from the mandatory, which is making sure the last thing my kids see before they scamper off to class is a smile on their mama's face. I admire those put together ladies who are in their smart skinny jeans, with their stylish flats, darling handbags, and perfectly draped sweaters over fitted tanks (all perched on a fit body, accessorized with glittering diamond rings and shiny hair). I don't quite remember the last time I cleaned my wedding rings, or looked at my hair and thought, perfect, just like silk.

I do, however, draw the line at flip flops in the office. I could be freshly pedicured and I would still close the toes up for work. I recently worked with a ridiculous woman who spent her day raving about how fabulous she is, and she did this while wearing flip flops, which fully exposed her hammer toes. Her feet are JACKED and she's kind of an asshole and while I might not be on the glam edge of the spectrum, I don't want to be on the she-shouldn't-wear-flip-flops-in-public side either.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I hope I put good - if not always stylish - juju out into the universe. I hope I'm seen for who I am and what I stand for, and not as a story that begins with what I've thrown on my body that day. I hope I'm respected as a strong woman who's body has borne two healthy girls, rather than one who should drop two healthy sizes.

I'm far from an insecure middle school girl and I realize I can't control what people think when they see me. I'm healthy and strong and loved and important. And because I do have control over my Lincecum hairdo, I think I'm going to be a little less absentminded when it comes to what I throw out into the universe every day, because hammer toes can hijack anyone's good time.

You'll still see my hair pulled back, and my girls will still see a smile before the bell rings, because that's how I do, but the next time you go to the indie coffee shop, look for a girl who opted for lip gloss over Chapstick and give her some mad props.

PS: As I was proofreading this post, Nine ran over to me grinning and handed me a note. Know what it said? "Mommy, you're as lovely as a heart.". Maybe she was inspired by the fact that I'm not wearing flip flops, or maybe she's seen me in these tights so many times, she thinks it's my Mom uniform and the familiarity feels good to her. Either way, suddenly the day is filled with very good juju. Outhale.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Apparently I took the summer off. I was writing in my head the whole time and if you'd been brushing up on your psychic mind-reading skills then we'd have been on the same page all along. But I get the sneaking suspicion you haven't been brushing up on anything over the past two months apart from your laundry and drinking skills, and no I'm not projecting my summer onto you, thank you very much.

In any case, there is a lot to catch up on. I've got blogmania going on in my head and I will share one at a time.

I'm going to start with what I promised I'd start with, which is one fascinating trip to Orlando, Florida.

Maybe you know some Floridians, maybe you don't. I do, and I'm not judging them or anyone else who is from there. I know as well as anyone that freaks reside worldwide, and I'm not singling out Orlando, all I'm saying is that I'd rather live on the West Coast, even with all of California's warts. The humidity alone can send me running away from the East coast. Nobody needs to look like Gilda Radner* on a daily basis, except of course, her husband Willy Wonka**.

Let's begin, shall we?

1. Disney World was constructed on the surface of the sun. I shit you not, it's like standing in a furnace surrounded by sticky strangers who have no spatial awareness. Or as Eight and Nine described, "it's like being a wooly mammoth in a ski jacket, three pairs of tights and uggs, in a hot frying pan in the oven, surrounded by heaters with the puppy laying on you in the sun." The girls are on point -- and we were on fire -- for three days.

2. Before you get excited about "driving" the cars on the Tomorrowland Speedway, because it's the only ride where the line is less than 25 minutes long, you should know that when you finally get to the staircase that takes you to the racetrack, you will actually be walking down the staircase which leads into the molten core of the sun. Or the fiery depths of hell, whichever is hotter.

3. You know those parents who force their young daughters to stand in line for a roller coaster ride that they are outwardly terrified to go on? The daughters that cry and shake their head no and beg to get out of line repeatedly until the littler kids standing in line behind them aren't even pretending not to stare anymore? For the ride that touts their broken tracks and an angry, hungry yeti and a backward spiral? Well, look for us on the cover of Bad Parent Magazine next month because we are those parents.

4. Obviously we didn't learn our lesson from the yeti because we stepped right into another long line for another roller coaster with our traumatized kids. (What? They came off the yeti ride and said they liked it. Okay, one of them did, but that's a good percentage.) And when we finally got to the VERY front of the line, with one foot raised and ready to step into the rocket that was poised to spin us around Space Mountain with our sweaty, screaming children, do you know what happened? Kid Karma struck in the form of a Florida lightening storm, the ride shut down, and everyone - including our suddenly giggling, relieved girls - was escorted out of the building. Well played, Mother Nature. Well played.

5. Disney World is a hillbilly magnet. We started to feel like we had an overabundance of teeth and too few children to be in good standing. We saw all kinds of crazy stuff that you don't see on a regular basis where we live. Skinny dads with wife beater tanks on, and what are apparently the requisite bandaids over his nipples, because, you know, chafing. Ladies making important fashion missteps...okay, close your eyes and picture cottage cheese packed into a balloon. Then merge that image with a lower back tattoo showcased atop tight white short shorts, and you've got yourself an image of our view for three days. Exhausted, overheated children crying up at their parents from their stroller because they drank all their Mountain Dew and finished their pixie sticks already, and exhausted, overheated parents staring down at them like, Why are these little strangers screaming at me?

6. If you too decide to go to Disney World over the Fourth of July week because you enjoy the feeling of being incinerated, listen here. When a smiling staff member tells you the best fireworks show is at Hollywood Studios, tell her she's full of shit and don't feel bad for even one second. Because if you don't, you'll ride your umpteenth shuttle bus of the day to get there 5 minutes early. But upon arrival, you'll realize you're actually 10 minutes late, and then you'll spend the next 15 minutes craning your neck from outside Hollywood Studios trying to get a good glimpse of the end of the show, because the park is too full to let just four more people in. Then when you're waiting in line for your umpteenth+1 shuttle bus, you'll hear something and turn around to see the back view of the REAL fireworks show you would have seen if that staff member had known what she was talking about, over at Epcot Center, where the lights and fireworks are going apeshit in a finale that makes you want to sing the National Anthem before you go to bed, and you would, except you can't remember the words due to extreme dehydration, because you have been sweating down the backs of your legs for three days, and still are, although it's now 10:30pm.

7. BUT. After all that. On the shuttle bus back to the hotel, where there are no seats and you're packed in like sardines, something happens. Two little girls sitting next to us who are obviously still in the throes of a sugar high start singing "Call Me Maybe". It's cute and we're cooling off, so we start humming along (much to the embarrassment of our kids, but more on that in a second). The women behind us in their twenties, who to this point have been speaking French the whole time stop their conversation, and they start singing along too. And I started to think, You know, it's okay that my shoulders are numb from this backpack and that I'm covered in a layer of dirty sweat for the third day in a row, because this IS the happiest place on earth! Music is the international equalizer!! We are all connected!!! Kumbaya, people!!!!

8. I learned a lot from our time in Orlando. For example, Disneyland is better than Disney World. Also, popsicles slide off their stick in 30 seconds when you're standing on the sun. But one of the best things I learned was that I can embarrass my kids from coast to coast. Although, Nine admitted after what we'd seen there that I'm nowhere near the most embarrassing mom on earth. She said it out loud, too. BOOM.

I think that sums it up. 

*Young 'uns: Gilda Radner was a funny, funny woman (before she died of a terrible, terrible disease) who played funny, funny characters on a television show called Saturday Night Live, which you may have heard of recently when your favorite new band (that I've never heard of) performed on their stage. Not that you're home on a Saturday night at 11:35...but you know, hulu and whatnot.

**Not Johnny Depp. You're so cute when you're bewildered. Keep going. There you go! Gene Wilder. As frizztastic as they come. Perfect match for Gilda.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Follow your heart. The grass is always greener. If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten. 

There are so many wonderful sayings to guide us through a happy life. But lately, instead of gleaning inspiration from them, they are jacking my flow and putting me in a never ending mind spin.

Let me explain.

Follow your heart. My heart tells me to teach and draw and read and create and take my kids to the zoo. My responsibilities laugh and remind me that the zoo isn't going to add to the college fund, and neither is a pencil sketch. So I do the closest thing to following my heart, which is work a job that pays actual money but allows me to work from home 75% of the time. Not exactly following my heart, because in this scenario my heart is like a three-year-old, fervently tugging at my hand, trying to pull me in another direction (toward the polar bears) while I lean the opposite way into my decision (or somewhere I can access wifi)...but I suppose it's close.

And here's an extra twist to the mind spin: Does working from home 75% of the time which allows me to do the things I love to do like take the girls to swimming and ballet and basketball camp mean that it's okay that I'm only partially focused on them because in the back of my mind I'm worried about making it back home for that phone meeting? I still can't just go chill at the yogurt shop and enjoy the summer sun because I've got to answer email from my phone. That is, if I can keep my thoughts straight while I've got Nine wondering aloud (loudly) how come I get to be on my phone all the time (uh...because it's mine?) and how come she can't get on there to text Daddy and play games and take pictures of God knows what, and I've got Eight...

(Oh! Announcement! Seven turned Eight a couple weeks ago! That's why I haven't been writing! I've been celebrating her turning Eight and no longer whining! Oh wait...the Eight part is here, the whining, well, it still is too. WTF kid?)

...hammering away at me, wisely realizing that if she asks me over and over again like a skipping record if she can turn the TV on because she's soboredandthereisnothingtodoandpleasemommyipromisetobegood because she knows full well that when I'm trying to email people and schedule meetings and chat with my boss on IM and keep Nine away from my iPhone that my answer will be a distracted nod yes.

Really, is any of the madness outlined above good for anyone's heart or their intent to follow it?


The grass is always greener. Is it? There's a lot I'd change about my day to day, but that's all just fluff. The core of my life is exactly my favorite color of green already. (It goes perfectly with my eyes.) The traveling husband is a nut job sometimes but God help me, I love him. I've been staring at his pretty face for twenty years, and he slipped those diamonds around my finger 11 years ago, and he still manages to make me laugh and make my heart go pitter-pat. The kids are healthy, the parents are living and everyone is crazy but nobody is taking medication for it yet, so there's that.

But back to the fluff. Who doesn't want a bigger house or more stuff? That's why they sell magazines with retouched pictures of nicer yards, better clothes, prettier living rooms, more functional organizing systems for your garage...it's because everyone who looks at those images thinks, yeah, I want to fix/make/have that. I look around the little house we live in and everywhere my eyes land I think, I want to paint there, hang that differently, change that, fix those, move this...and all I need are some more frames and plants and rugs and furniture and lighting and shelves and FLUFF. So what if fluff was greener than the whatever it is I have now, and I got it all? I wandered over to the greener, fluffier side of the lawn? At what expense? It all costs money (which means more work), plus then I'd have more to clean, and more to fritz over when Nine and Eight spill their snacks, and I'd have to remember to water things...and then there I am, right in the middle of a mind spin, talking myself out of the things I think I want, and reminding myself why I don't really need any of it. (But I still sort of want it all...)

Which brings me to my last spinning top and before I get into that, did you really think that after not writing for a few weeks that this post would be short and sweet? Lord have mercy, all of this has been mentally stacking up like bills, just getting ready to teeter right over, and then I walked over to it and blew on it like a candle and BOOM.


If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten. One of my favorite sayings really. It just gets right to the point doesn't it? You don't like the size of your ass? Stop eating Oreos in bed. Want your house to be cleaner? Don't walk by dust bunnies made of dog hair and pretend you don't see it wafting around your ankles. However. Last week I drank protein shakes twice a day FOR A WHOLE FOUR DAYS and I didn't lose an inch or a pound. I'm pretty sure I was PMSing though, so maybe it would have worked had my body not been quite so inefficient. Listen midsection, we aren't in famine and we don't need to protect the uterus with a spare tire at this point in time, so let's just drop the water weight and slim jim it up, shall we?

My point, and I think somewhere in here there might be one, is that no matter what wicked smart gem you're living by at any given moment, there's going to be some part of your brain that talks you into or out of it. Mind spin. Whatever happens, it's God's plan - so if you decide to just chill on the couch instead of work, then apparently God wants you to be ghetto-fabulous. Run with it (in Jesus' name).

Okay, so possibly there was no point. But at least I cracked open the blog and wrote again. My ovaries, they are a'tremblin', and my uterus, she is a'cleansin'. 

What? Considering the title, you're lucky I haven't gone there yet in full, gory detail. I will though. Pins and needles, I know. You're welcome.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


This is entry number thirty-three in this here blog, and that number has me thinking.

My mom was thirty-three when she had me, her last child of four, her second daughter. I was thirty-three when I had my first daughter. Three is my favorite number, so two of them together is good, right?

Plus, one time when Nine and Seven were just Three and Two and we took them to Disneyland, Belle told Nine that "Three is the most MAGICAL number" (and then Aurora nodded with a knowing smile). I don't know if you've ever heard Belle speak in person but that girl is convincing. Her voice sounded like a kiss from an angel and I found myself nodding furiously and shrugging my shoulders and getting choked up as she said that to my girl. I was all, she's right, this IS magical, it's all magical, we're all covered in fairy glitter dust and the world doesn't exist outside of Disneyland and this moment and I can barely see straight enough to take my 249th photo because the silver lining is so bright right this very magical second.

But this week hasn't been quite so magical. I'm hoping as I write that I find my way to a magical place again. Come along if you aren't already wondering what in the world my point might be.

(And by the way, don't judge me or my Disney princess moment. You can look down at me from your anti-princess pedestal, hating what they stand for and blah blah blah, but when you see one of them look at your baby girl, or your niece, or your friend's kid in the flesh, you too, will forget that she is just a student {with some sort of tattoo under that satin gown} trying to make a Hyundai payment so she can take her cheating boyfriend to Subway after work. You will forget all of that and you too will think that girl eats berries brought to her by bluebirds and that she farts butterflies. You will.)

Back to the real world.

This week, my Mom had a procedure done, and as seems to be par for her difficult course, she had complications afterward. The kind of complications that sent her screeching back to the hospital in an ambulance and sent the ER doctor running out to make sure she was going to make it into the hospital at all, what with her blood pressure hovering at 233/80 and her pupils constricted to pinpoints.

She couldn't breathe, it seems. She'd been overmedicated to the point of overdose. She needed oxygen and blood pressure medication to stabilize her. She stayed in ICU for three days, where a lung infection took hold, so she was put on antibiotics as well. She's now in a regular room and we hope my Dad can take her home today because her vitals look good and she's starting to be a bitch again, which in this case, means Mom is BACK. When she's endured a health crisis, we know that once that fire gets stoked again, we're in the clear.

As you might guess, this isn't the first time we've had a close call. We've had enough medical mishaps with that lady that I am now convinced she is actually part cat. I'm not sure how many lives she's burned through so far, but I do know she's got at least a couple left. 

Which is a very, very good thing, because I need my Mom. My Dad needs her too, and my girls, and my brother and the rest of the family and her friends, but I need her most. Me. This one typing right here. I do. I don't know how those of you who have already lost your Moms live your life with that Mom-shaped hole in your heart, and I hope I don't have to learn that route anytime soon. 

I think my Mom feels the same way about me. There's something special there. 

She called me from ICU a few days ago, as I was driving Nine and Seven to school. I saw the call was from out of state, so I figured it might be her, or my Dad calling from the hospital, so I handed my coffee to Nine, picked up the phone and pulled over because I had a feeling this wasn't the conversation to conduct on speaker with the kids in the car.

She said: "I didn't overdose." And I said "Mom, I know you didn't." but I was thinking, What, no crack hit in recovery? Dad didn't provide you with your usual dose of heroin on the way home from the hospital? Duh.

But that wasn't what got me. 

Because then she said this: "When I couldn't breathe, I was so scared, and all I could see was you. All I saw was you. And you were dancing and dancing, and I knew I was going to be okay. And then when I got to the hospital, I couldn't see anything."

In that moment, where she felt like she was facing her darkest fear, she saw my face. And when she told me that through her tears, her voice sounded like the kiss of an angel and I melted into a puddle of my own quiet, salty tears. It was me, sobbing into my cell phone, with Nine and Seven in the back seat holding my coffee watching everyone else drive by on the way to school, asking me "Mom, why aren't you driving, we're going to be late again!?".

So I don't know if my Mom is part princess or part cat or part bitch or what configuration of magic she is, but I do know that she is alive and kicking and headed back home to my Dad within the next 24 hours, which is a lot better than where I thought she might be headed a few days ago.

I thank God that He let her stay here. I get more time to have her love me and to love her back. When I see her, she will look at me with lovesick eyes and I will let her. I will lay my head in her lap and let her stroke my hair, and I will inhale and outhale and try to burn the moment into my brain as deeply as it will sink into my heart.

She tells me I am her sunshine. I will keep doing my best to brighten her day the way only I can, and I will hope and pray for more and more days to do just that. And I will hope that a very, very, very long time from now, when she is gone, that I will still be able to shine bright, but I have a feeling I am only a reflection of her and that I may go dark. I can't bring myself to think about that happening, so I won't try.

Instead, for now, I will picture her face and hear her voice and feel her touch, and I will burn bright for the both of us, for as long as she needs me to.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


A handful of things I've pondered recently:

1. Satin, floral-print genie pants are not - I repeat, are not - current pool deck fashion. That's not to say I didn't see someone wearing satin, floral-print genie pants on the pool deck. Because I most certainly did. I mean, my eyes were bleeding, but I'm pretty sure.

2. If you ignore the clumps of dog hair that are stuck to your comforter/couch/clothes/walls/rugs long enough, your husband will finally (sweet baby Jesus, FINALLY) say it's time to get someone to help clean the house twice a month. He may preface it with "If you can't handle your two jobs and your two kids AND keep the house clean, you need to find some help.", but that's okay because all I heard was "Spend money!" and "Stop cleaning!".

3. When you buy your kids new swim goggles, the surf/ski kid behind the counter who takes your money is giddy. You know why? Because he knows that you will be back at that swim shop every two weeks, all summer long, because your kids will lose those goggles and every other pair you buy for them until school starts again. And that surf/ski kid who works at the shop will sit there smiling, drinking the Jamba Juice you want, but can no longer afford, because now you're paying his salary. Go team! 

4. It's really hard to get mad at your daughter for being sarcastic and sassy when you're pretty sure she learned it from you.

5. A Venti iced green tea isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. Call me an asshole if you must, but if you aren't handing me a tea as you're saying it, well then, who's the asshole now?

6. When you're reading a magazine about lifestyle and fashion and you answer "yes" to four out of the five Do You Make These Fashion Mistakes? questions, it's time to rethink what you're putting on your body in public, even if your body does currently look like raw pizza dough.

7. I know the Paleo way of eating is supposed to be great for you, but there has to be a reason we've evolved from caveman status. I don't want to have that must-hunt-and-kill-and-gather mentality all day. I also don't want to eat meat for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks. Allegedly, that kind of frantic, protein-filled day ends with one quesadilla and two glasses of Chardonnay.

8. On that note, hypothetically speaking, when you get to be a certain age, you can't drink wine and eat quesadillas for dinner and not gain weight from it. And one day, you're going to look up and think holy crap who's body is this??

9. When your eczema ear turns into a full-blown earache, one so painful that you can't sleep on that side of your head (or open your jaw all the way, or touch your neck), it's probably a good idea to go to the doctor. But when you don't have the time or energy to find the doctor you need, make an appointment, or go see him, ear drops from Whole Foods and a few Excedrin are good in a pinch. Stay tuned. Hopefully I won't have to start blogging in sign language anytime soon.

10. No matter how much beer bloat you subjected yourself to in college, you were smaller back then than you are now. Nothing makes that point more crystal clear than looking at your dance team uniform from college and realizing it looks like it might fit an American Girl doll. But just in case you need further proof, trying the uniform on helps. And by "trying the uniform on" I mean yanking it up to about mid-thigh, and giving up before suffering further humiliation (or a torn bicep from all the pulling it took to get it that far).

Happy Friday-lite, everyone. May your weekend be humiliation-free and chock full of Chardonnay.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


It's been a minute since I've written here, I realize. I've been spending the time both sitting under clouds and admiring their silver lining.

The first couple of weeks in May are loaded for me. First off, I celebrate my birthday at the beginning of the month, which as I get older is equal parts dark cloud (I'm getting OLD) and silver lining (lucky me - getting old is way better than the alternative!).

But five days after my birthday marks the anniversary of my sister's death, which always puts me in a funky, pensive mood. Inevitably, I replay where I was when the phone rang. The way I questioned the validity of the news, and made my husband call the sheriff to get confirmation, even though the sick pit in my stomach told me I already knew it was true. The rush of regret I felt then, and still feel now.

I think about how she was when I was a little girl, her mannerisms and quirks. How she sounded, smelled, looked, laughed. What she ate, what she wore, the car she drove, where she lived.

And then, how she died, where she was, what she must have been thinking and feeling. Was she afraid? Did she think of me? Uncontrollably slippery slope, I realize, but each year, at least once a year, that's where I am, and that's where I was yesterday.

And then, in the middle of that day and all those thoughts, I saw a picture of my niece. My sister's silver lining. She is hands down the best thing my sister ever did. That girl has gorgeous, strong, colorful wings that flap furiously and take her around the world, and yet she is able to stay grounded. She has seen the darkest of clouds at a young age, and chooses to seek and find and focus on global silver linings instead.

She is the opposite of my sister. She is health and peace and life. I can feel her thankful heart beating all the way from the other side of the world, and seeing her graceful profile in that photograph reinforced for me how grateful I am that she is here.

By just being alive, my niece dulls the pain of my sister being dead. Talk about silver lining. If I could, I would wear that shiny girl like a bracelet. 

Speaking of bracelets and birthdays (and let's throw Mother's Day in there too as an uncomfortable transition because, wow, Debbie Downer blogger), the traveling husband frequently says I'm too hard to shop for, because the only jewelry I wear with any regularity are my wedding rings.

I wear my rings all the time. (I only take them off to slather my finger with this weird cream I have to use because apparently I have eczema on my ring finger from washing my hands too often, as moms tend to do when they have kids and stinky, hairy, slobbery puppies. Nothing makes you feel old like a doctor telling you that you have eczema on your finger. Except another doctor telling you that you have eczema in your ears. Really? In my ears? I couldn't wait to tell my husband that it's official, those aren't potato chip crumbs in my ear, I have a real issue. Marriage with me just gets sexier.)

Surprisingly, I have a point.

Which is that I don't need diamonds for Mother's Day (or my birthday). Right now I need the kind of sparkle that only a silver lining can deliver. I would like some hugs and kisses and potentially breakfast in bed. I want to know that I'm loved and appreciated in the form of me not having to cook or clean anything, and I want lots of smiles and attention in the form of me being sent to a spa where a silent masseuse skillfully turns my body into a noodle, and then hands me cucumber water while ushering me into a private room where I can soak in a warm bath. 

Keith Urban/Robin Thicke/Bruno Mars (if he were taller) serenading me while this is happening is optional, but it would be a nice touch.

But even if none of those things happen, I'm happy. A bit melancholy, perhaps, but happy. And grateful to have another year with all the people I love.

The eczema can take a hike, but all the rest deserves a big outhale, and so, I think, do I.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


One of my favorite sayings is this: If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always gotten.

Sometimes the husband throws that back at me when I decide to sleep rather than get up early for a run. And I use the term "run" lightly, since I rarely run and if I do, it's for a very, very short period of time. You marathoners have me mystified. I'm not joking. I can't fathom doing that for hours on end. I just think my hands would swell and my feet would go numb and I'd just be like, oh Jesus, I'm EXHAUSTED (and come to think of it, a little ornery), and then I'd step off the trail and into the first Starbucks for an iced green tea and a comfy chair.

Everything tends to jiggle when I bounce repeatedly like that, and it just doesn't feel good. I don't imagine it looks very good either, especially from behind. But if I don't run, the jiggle won't go away. Get up early and run, defeat jiggle. Stay in bed and sleep, jiggle is happy and well-rested, but ever present.

Vicious circle. Anyway.

I did something different lately and in the process, proved my saying to be true.

(No. I didn't run a marathon. Do you have short term memory loss?)

I went with Nine and her Brownie troop a couple weeks ago to make, serve, and eat dinner with families who are currently homeless.

Families. No home.

Let that one sink in the next time you send your Chardonnay back for being too buttery.

One young woman we ate dinner with had four kids, and the youngest one was just a few weeks old. I smelled her daughter's sweet, tiny, little baby head (stop it, you know you sniff baby heads too, and if you don't you're missing out on one heavenly scent) and flashed back to when my own girls were tiny and we were all snuggled up with blankets and diapers and everything else we needed close at hand.

Do you remember when you first had your baby, or got your puppy, or whatever it is you pour your heart into? How vulnerable you felt and how many hours you spent awake worrying or feeding or caring for that being? And have you ever had a total piece of shit day and the whole time thought to yourself, man, I just can't wait to go home? I just want to kick off my jeans and put my slippers on and watch a movie, or read a book, or call a friend, or plant some flowers, or pour a cocktail, or something that makes me feel like me again.

Well, for these families, at this time in their lives, that's simply not an option. Neither is privacy, or freedom, or organic vegetables from the farmer's market, or a light heart. How must it feel to explain to your school-age child that they are going to sleep in a tent at a church for the next two weeks, and after that, well, we just aren't sure where we might sleep?

As I sat with that young mother and her newborn, I struggled to find something to say that would open a neutral conversation. I asked about her children, their ages, school. But I couldn't bring myself to ask if she had a husband there with her, because really, that was none of my business. I didn't want to ask if she'd had a good day, or if she was enjoying being at the church, or if she's exhausted with the newborn, because come on, what could those answers be?

Maybe she feels blessed that she's somewhere other than outside with her babies. I have a feeling if I was in her shoes I'd be spending all of my time and energy on trying not to break down in tears, and I wouldn't be able to hold my head up and be gracious while some smiling, well-meaning stranger was asking me about my life, because all I would be thinking about, apart from what got me there, would be the fact that I know when that smiling, well-meaning stranger leaves, she's going to a warm, comfortable place and I'm going to my tent, to look through my box of belongings and put my kids to bed on the floor.

Yeah. So.

Instead of doing what we always do, which is discuss why "Eeeeew" is not an appreciated response to the meal I prepared, we went and did what we never do instead, and got what we rarely get. A really, really good shift in perspective. It was good for Nine to see and understand first hand that if these little kids didn't particularly care for chicken with apricots, or rice, or salad, well, they were about to learn to, because making some noodles or having a bowl of cereal instead just wasn't an option.

And we learned that hopping into a car with friends can feel like a luxury, as can going home to a little house full of equal amounts of love and luck and blessings and dirty laundry and paw prints and ponytail bands.

Turns out I live in the lap of luxury. Sure, it's got dog hair all over it, but now more than ever, it feels just right to me.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


For the last three nights in a row, Nine has had night terrors. She's always been a sleepwalker and a sleeptalker and a sleepcryer, and rumor has it, she gets it from me. And for the last three nights, it's been all angst and tears, panic and worry. She sits up, eyes wide open, red and teary...fast asleep. And she cries out about her sister, or about "There's no more A's at swim team" or "Will you go first, Mommy?" or "I just can't fall asleep" and she's very upset about it all. 

Usually it's her body telling her it's time to get up and have a quick pee, but she's so exhausted from school and swimming and ballet and whatever else she's had up her sleeve that day, that while her body wakes, her mind can't actually come around with it. So she ends up in this weird halfway place of body in/mind out. She's walking and talking, but making no sense because she's speaking her dream, which is goofy and Nine-ish.

The interesting thing about the last couple of nights is that our usual tactics haven't soothed her. The traveling husband likes to try to wake her up, because seeing his beautiful girl in a freaky state is all too much for him, so he talks to her like she's awake, in a loud voice to startle her and bring her around, and sometimes she talks back to him. Sometimes she talks about the chicken and points to the wall, but he keeps trying. I usually just carefully guide her back to bed, rub her back and tell her she's safe and sound. Look Nine, there's the puppy, see? Look, there's Seven, sleeping in the bed right next to you. Here, baby, here's your lovey, lie down and go back to sleep.

But over the past couple of nights, those things didn't work, and I ended up in her room a handful of times, trying to get her to just lay back down and get some much needed rest.

You know what did do the trick, instantly? I laid down next to her. And that darling, sleepy girl, with her eyelashes to the moon and heartstrings to my soul, laid her soft cheek against my shoulder, and fell fast asleep, deep and peaceful, resting and quiet again.

As I laid there with her I realized something. Something other than the fact that a doggie pillow pet is nowhere near big enough for two people to share.

I realized that Nine spends much of her waking hours trying to convince me and herself and anyone else that will listen that she doesn't need me, and that she's independent and responsible and ready to get her ears pierced and go to sleep away camp, MOM. She gives me her cheek so I can kiss Her Highness there, rather than on the lips which is so EMBARRASSING before she scampers off to third grade. She rolls her eyes when I call her for the fourth time for dinner and she presses me to waiiiiiiiiiit, when by God I've already waited 15 minutes for her to stop loving up the dog and get her shoes on so we can hurry to school or hurry to ballet or hurry to her play date or hurry hurry hurry rush rush rush until bedtime.

And then, it turns out, she spends some quality subconscious hours literally crying out for the time she missed being wrapped up in my arms, breathing with me, and melting back into my body as best as she can, what with her being Nine and independent and responsible and all.

I will take it. All of it. I will take the pushing away in the waking hours because it shows me she's trying to build herself up brick by brick and I am amazed by the process. And I will take those quiet moments with her in my arms, because I know this time will pass. And one day I'll ache to hold her while she sleeps but she'll be away at college or married or trying to get her own baby to fall asleep.

I spend a lot of my time feeling like I don't have the right answers or the right tools or enough time or enough energy, but you know what I felt these past couple nights? Magic. Maternal magic, I like to call it. She needed peaceful sleep and I gave it to her. Me. I did it.

She has no idea, but by folding her into my body as she slept, I made her whole.

And she has no idea, but she does the same thing for me, every time I look at her.



Thursday, April 12, 2012


Guess what happened today? I found the silver lining.

No, for reals, I actually looked up at the clouds this morning, after the rain stopped, and saw the sun shining behind one of them. It created a bright, glowy edge along that big cloud, and I thought, Huh. There it is.

Nothing has changed. The taxes are still there, as is every other stress in life like aging parents, missing siblings and the ever-present question of "Why haven't we won the lottery yet?".


While the puppy is a nut job, he's sweet and fuzzy and when he pounces on me at 5:30 in the morning with his 110 pounds and then circles around and drops down ass first on my pillow, it's sort of charming. If you can get past the wind getting knocked out of you by his not-so-soft landing on your ribcage, and his hindquarters an inch from your nose.

Maybe I should get smart and realize it's him telling me to get up for that 6am class so he can spoon his alpha dog.

And my girls are crazy and combative but they are healthy and strong and funny as hell, and all of those things, even the crazy/combative parts, are going to serve them very, very well someday. I'm happy to be their training ground.

Also? Good things are coming. Fun, interesting, different, challenging, new things. They're coming. I know they are. And if this isn't your first time reading this, you know I love anticipation. And today is my favorite day of the week. So today, my coaster is glistening in that silver lining and going tic-tic-tic up the incline, and I'm inhaling and outhaling and letting go and becoming transparent and letting it wash right through me as I fall into the next steps of my life.

I'm blessed to have today and I pray I get tomorrow. I live in the quiet, joyous expectation of good. (I didn't write that, I read it somewhere. Nice, right?) My hair is frizzing into oblivion and I'm pretty sure I haven't weighed this much since the last time I was 4 months pregnant and tomorrow morning my kids will be all, We don't want that weird organic cereal for breakfast, we want Lucky Charms! And that will all be fine. Nothing some product and a little self-control and some marshmallows can't mastermind.

Maybe this is just the Nutella and Real Housewives of Orange County marathon I indulged in last night talking, but you know what?

I have hope! I believe!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Does anyone else ever feel like they're choking to death in a pit of what the fuck?

I mean, pardon my French, but if you ask me, I'm too familiar with the taste of that nasty muck.

I'm a poet and I didn't know it. (Sorry, second and third grade humor reigns in my house.)

It's all one step forward, two steps back sometimes, isn't it.

Yay, my bonus is coming! Boo, we owe more than that in taxes. (BTW, can someone tell me what country doesn't suck that also doesn't have taxes? Because I'd like to move there, please.)

Yippee, the puppy finished school with flying colors! Rats, he just ran out of the house and tore across three lawns and into the street with all four of us chasing after him.

I'm sure he thought it was the most fun he'd had since he polluted the RV. And if I was watching it from a neighbor's window, I'd probably pee my pants - which I have been known on occasion to do - at the sight of us all running at full speed but coming nowhere near to catching him. We could have maybe caught his tongue, which was flapping in the breeze, but that thing is slippery.

In the moment though, his escape wasn't that funny. We had just been talking about taxes, which formed the thick, murky base of the WTF choking potion, which came after the fight to get Seven to do her homework, which was timed perfectly with the argument with Nine about why three cups of organic cheesy bunny snacks isn't an appropriate snack in and of itself, even if it IS organic, which led to us being a mere 8 minutes away from the time that ballet class starts. And in case you were wondering, ballet doesn't start in my living room, it starts one town over. That's the moment when the puppy decided to shove his gigantic, hairy self out of the front door, take a leap over the front hedge, and take off like a racehorse heading for a finish line decorated with kittens and milkbones. Except in his case, the race ended with the alpha dog (also known in this case as The Very Angry Husband Who May Have Just Pulled A Hamstring In The Middle Of The Street) catching him and "helping" him back into the house.

Now, if I was the dog, and I'd been listening to the taxes and the cheesy bunny conversation and the whining about the math, I'd have run away too.

Let's be serious, I'm not the dog and I wanted to run away.

But I didn't. I swallowed my crazy, and got in the car with the girls and drove like a maniac safely to ballet, explaining all the way there that no, me and their dad actually aren't the meanest dog owners in the world, because listen girls, it's really, really hard to teach a dead dog that running out of the house into the street isn't a good idea, because he might get hit by a car. Then, I choked back some tears, got a chai tea latte, sat in the hallway at the studio and started tapping away here.

How do all of you deal with the dance of life? Where do you find the extra joy you need to make those backwards steps not quite as tumultuous? Is it juicing cucumber and spinach? Pouring a Chardonnay? Taking an extra exercise class? Writing a blog? Do you meditate? And if you do, on a side note, how do you meditate without falling asleep? Or is that the goal? Because I can always use more sleep. And more Chardonnay. And more dancing and meditation and exercise and green juice.

This is me, begging the collaborative you, to share your infinite wisdom so that I can catch back up with myself (and the running puppy). I need to remember where to find the silver lining on days like this. I need to find my uncrazy self so I can be happy, helpful, smiling, grateful mommy.

I need to inhale and outhale and keep plowing ahead, even with the full realization that the choreography of life will take me backwards again at some point.

Thanks in advance.


Grumpy McNeedsalot