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 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

Friday, April 6, 2012


We are just back from a five day camping trip for Spring Break.

We have decided as a family (okay, so my husband and I have decided) that Spring Break will always and forevermore be a family week. Because we have two daughters. Two reeeally pretty daughters. No seriously, we make 'em fine. And we don't ever want to see our pretty girls flashing their boobies for necklaces or doing body shots or going all cowboy ugly on YouTube.

Granted, they are only Seven and Nine but it's coming and don't pretend for a minute I'm not right because alcohol is potent this I know.

So we rented an RV and me, the traveling husband (who is, I need to mention, 6'4" and around 245 lbs), the two girls and the puppy (who is, I need to mention, 110 pounds of hairy jowl juice) all piled in and off we went to the coast for five relaxing days of board games and dog farts in enclosed spaces.

Here's a sampling of things I discovered while roughing it:

1. In April, the wind in Santa Cruz, California feels a lot like standing in a freezer while one angry person throws icicles at your body and some other relentless bitch holds ice cubes against your ears while your kids are all, Let'sgotothebeachagainI'mhungryWherearethesnacksI'mboredCanImakethefireDidwebringmybikeWhatarewedoingtomorrowCanwejusthavesmoresfordinnerETCETCETCETFUCKINGCETERA.

2. The board game "Beat the Parents" is fun. Also, sort of hard to win if you don't know the details around Harry Potter.

3. Your camping neighbors feel like safe, friendly people, but really, they could be into odd shit.

4. Goat farms smell really, really awful.

5. Goat cheese made at stinky goat farms is really, insanely delicious.

6. Last goat farm note: When there are over 100 female goats, and only two male goats, and their names are "Lucky" and "Macho Grande", it makes me think that goat people are really, really funny.

7. Sleepy girls will fight with each other about stuff that makes no sense, then cry, then protest whatever you tell them to do, even if it's what they were begging you for ten minutes prior.

8. After a few days of camping, you're dehydrated, and you smell like dust and fire.

9. Starting your period while camping in an RV where the "bathroom" is around the size of a postcard, is really fucking not awesome.

10. Looking at the Pacific Ocean and breathing deeply brings clarity to life.

11. Whatever size RV we ordered is smaller than the one we're getting next time. I can't have the dog sniffing my ass every time I get up to pour more wine. What am I, an appetizer?

12. Drinking wine and playing gin rummy with your husband while listening to Kenny Chesney on the iPhone by the fire as your dog eats cardboard and your kids play with your new neighbor's kid (even if they are into odd shit) doesn't suck.

Happy Easter!