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Friday, March 30, 2012

She's a FacTORI

It's as if Hollywood moms knew I was starting a blog.  Maybe at their most recent Million Dollar Mommies meeting they had Bonnie Raitt's "Let's Give Them Something To Talk About" on repeat.  Maybe those compliant little mom-bots left Angelina's compound fist-pounding and giggling about the ways they were really going to unleash their Mommy Moments for all the world to see.

Or maybe an errant crop-dusting plane flew over the Hollywood Hills and let some crazy spray into the lower atmosphere.

I prefer to credit Angie, just like she wants us all to credit her for everything involving a parent and child.  So I will.  And I did -- her Edible Arrangement is in the mail.  (FYI: they DO deliver to castles in France!  And yes I know France is not in or near Los Angeles, but Angie's a globe trotter and I like to send her fruit to wherever her bony ass is sitting down for its next empty plate.  Otherwise the fruit goes stale and Angie goes another 24 hours with a single calorie intake.  For God's sake, woman, eat the cubes of kiwi fruit.)

I'm getting off track. 

Whether Angie was involved or not, I just want to thank the Hollywood community for giving me these gifts.  (Not coincidentally, this is the same introduction I will use at the Oscars when I win my first golden sidekick.)

The starlet turned momlet on my radar this morning is that Mangler of M-nouns, that Doyenne of Dean, the girl who put the bleach in blond and the zero in 90210: Tori Spelling.

After the nation spent years cheering for her to shut up about her virginity already and figure out a way to fix the indentation in her cleavage, Donna Martin did graduate.  She graduated to a life as Tori Spelling, purveyor of self-titled books and television shows, as well as a line of something or other on QVC. 

Tori Spelling is amazing.  Despite evidencing little talent at anything beyond spray-tanning, she keeps the book and TV deals coming in steadily.  She can be found giving an interview at any hour of the day, somewhere.  And she is the Kung Fu Panda of mind games: listen to her during an interview, and you think wow, she's relatively well-spoken and actually seems pretty down to Earth.  I misjudged her.  Then you by mistake stop at TLC or Lifetime or Oxygen while you're channel-surfing and you catch her in her natural habitat.  Which results in your three-year-old dedicating her dinner time to giving you a pep talk about how you're not actually an idiot when it comes to character estimation.  Tori is just a ninja in the art of self-promotion.  Please get up off the floor.

Well, Tori has worked her voo-doo magic again.  She got another television show.  This time the title doesn't involve some kitschy rewrite or misuse of a noun, like the former Tori & Dean: Inn Love or Tori & Dean: Storibook Weddings.  It also doesn't involve the word "Dean." 

The show is called Craft Wars.  Because, really, who doesn't look at Tori and think, "Man, I bet she'd be fun at a quilting bee!" or " it knit one, pearl one, or pearl two, knit two?  I should call CrafTori."

The one question I have about this show -- I am otherwise supremely confident it is a ratings bonanza -- is this: do the words "craft" and "wars" ever belong side-by-side, in any context or medium?  And if they do, why isn't SmarTori putting her keen insight to greater use and cajoling Martha Stewart on the first plane to Iran?

PromoTori knows how to get a show off the ground, though, even one with a seemingly bonkers title, premise, and hosTori.  She has a baby.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for those of you keeping score at home (I know no one is, but pretend): this is baby number 4 chez Tori & Dean: Parenting One Oh One More Baby!  THIS little bundle of joy will join older sibs Liam, Stella and baby Hattie.  When I say "baby Hattie," I don't just mean "baby" as in the youngest of the currently living McDermott offspring.  I mean "baby" as in just-learned-how-to-roll-over baby.  'Cause little-big-sister Hattie is five MONTHS old.  By my math....hang on a second.....still subtracting....carried the one....okay, by my math this means FacTori got preggers when Hattie was around three months old.

Far be it from me to advise Tori on her family planning.  Follow your Prophet Angie's lead and go for enough children to field a soccer team, I don't care.  But I have a sneaking suspicion Tori might not actually be trying to do this (although she'd probably love jazzercising the unis and it might get her an intro with David Beckham).  I worry that Tori actually thinks press junkets are just conversation starters and publicists are journalists who talk instead of write.  I worry that every time she wants to do a product launch, she also thinks she has to do a progeny launch. 

I worry that when Dean told her there's only one thing to do when you're in a prone position between a sheet and a duvet cover, RealiTori didn't set in.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Smell Trouble

There is a woman who sits on my floor at work who has a "smell sensitivity."  I don't know who she is; she prefers to remain anonymous when lodging complaints with my manager about, let's say, the squirt of Coco Mademoiselle I applied to my wrist during weeks 1 through 3 on the job.  Far be it from me and those notes of Sicilian oranges and grapefruit, with a hint of Calabrian bergamot, to offend her on the inhale.  I've stopped perfuming on workdays.  Hopefully now she can concentrate on her numbers-crunching without the distraction of floral scents.  (Quite frankly, I've been disappointed in the stuff anyways.  Three months now and I still don't look like Keira Knightley.)

My point here is that if this woman didn't like me wafting a smell vaguely reminiscent of a wedding boquet through the halls, today she's going to hate me.  Today, I'm nervous that I am giving off the faint odor of skunk.

Related point: I've discovered your day is not off to a good start if the worry dominating your mind is "Do I indeed smell like a skunk?".

This morning at 3:30AM my eyes sprang open and my body was fully alert.  No one was crying.  No one was trying to rob our house.  There was no cosmic event.  Instead, a putrid smell had invaded every nook and cranny of our humble home.  It was that unmistakable smell that makes your heart sink to your stomach and your reactionary instincts go to DEFCON 1: Maximum Force Readiness.  The smell of a skunk.

I am not talented enough at anything to adequately convey to you the strength with which this smell unleashed itself.  I rolled over and waited for the skunk to walk out of our closet, and rolodexed my best options at saving my family and our prized possessions in the 3 seconds I was going to give us to get out of the house and run from our attacker.  Without realizing it, while I was whispering my final good-byes, I must have done several shots of Liquid Courage.  Because when no skunk lumbered out from behind Door No. 1, I got up out of bed, grabbed our iron (hey, it's pointy) and literally paced our house looking for the skunk.  I didn't find him.  (It wasn't all a loss.  I did find my daughter's missing pink sneaker.)

I went back to bed but I couldn't sleep.  The smell was everywhere.  Now I know how Righteously Indignent Sniffer in Accounting feels.  Try to tell yourself to stop smelling something.  You can't. 

I was up and couldn't think of anything to do.  I half-considered poking one of my kids awake just for some company, but then I gave myself a long lecture about getting a grip and not breaking the First Rule of Parenting: never wake a sleeping child.

So instead I mentally diagrammed the dynamics of the skunk smell and short-listed the top 5 chores for the day, assuming I didn't die of skunk inhalation.  By the time 5AM rolled around, I unconsciously did a few more shots of Liquid Courage and decided to go to the gym. 

Normally, the hard part of that process is getting out of bed.  This morning, the hard part of that process was walking to my car.  We don't have a garage, so I have to walk outside to get to it.  In the dark.  Past our side porch with an open bottom half (a perfect launch pad for a skunk to 'Nam its way to its next victim).  It's probably a total of ten steps from house door to car door, but this morning those ten steps were my Everest.  As soon as I opened the house door, my eyes started to water and my internal monologue became something like "you stupid, silly woman.  Stay in the house.  Don't you know IT IS OUT HERE?!?"  But like Newt Gingrich at a campaign meeting, I ignored my better judgment, and I continued onward.  I skittered to the car like I was dodging sniper bullets.  I kept my eyes trained on the driver's side door and when I got there, I threw it open and hurled my body across both front seats, curling my feet in and shutting the door with my heel.  All I could picture was the horror of being foot-to-nose with a skunk, and it frieked the bejesus out of me.  But I won.  I made it to the car.  By the time I got home from the gym, the smell had only abated a little bit.

Over breakfast (grapefruit swimming in skunk), my husband and I compared notes about the assault on our house.  Lest you think I am exaggerating, the smell woke him up too, and he concluded at the time that there must be a skunk sitting on his stomach and emitting its odor directly up his nostrils.  Not the case, but you get the point.  Strong.  Smell.

As I drove my son to daycare today, I got to reflecting on the skunk and its place in our world.  I've concluded it shouldn't have one.  (I hope Alicia isn't reading today.  Or yesterday.)  What's the point of a skunk, other than to provide its fellow woodland creatures with a good laugh when they happen upon a human crossing paths with a skunk?  I think we can all agree that God or Mother Nature, whichever way you approach it, didn't even think much of the skunk.  It's like He or She got to that part of the Make The World kit and got tired.  "Don't you see all the work those alligator teeth and raptor talons were?  You need a defense mechanism?  Oh, I don't know.....let's give you a white stripe and a foul scent.  Boo-yah."  Smelling bad is something people could do, too, if they wanted to repel unwanted attention or banal conversation, but even we usually resort to something requiring more energy.  Me?  I use lame jokes and run-on sentences, but at least that only offends my direct target, who is within earshot, and not every single person who might be down wind.

But here I am now, at work.  Hours later, alone in my cubicle.  And no one has stopped by to say hi or check in.  So maybe I do smell like a skunk.  Maybe I should give the skunk and his tactics more respect.  Maybe I should out the Perfume Police and take a mosey through Accounting.  How do you like me now?!?

P.S.  I just realized I am wearing all black.  Am I actually BECOMING a skunk?  If I wake up with Colton's hair-do.....I don't even know how to end that sentence or complete that thought.

For an update on this skunk attack, see here

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Clueless About Kindness

I am trying to eat healthier.  I am trying to cook more.  I am trying to pay better attention to what is in the food I eat and give to my family.  For crying out loud, my kitchen cupboards now house things like Agave Nectar and unsweetened coconut flakes.

I am also trying to improve my children's eating habits.  I call it a successful day when I get my daughter to eat a vegetable and limited sugar, and when my son doesn't spit all of his avocado out at me as soon as the plastic spoon passes his lips.

Other prongs of my food credo: I believe in utensils.  I believe in serving my children's food on colorful, plastic dishware.  I believe that the food in my mouth should stay in my mouth.  I believe that my children should chew their own damn food, and if they can't, then they shouldn't be eating it in the first place.

This is where Alicia Silverstone and I part ways.

Apparently Ms. Silverstone took a hiatus from acting after her smash hit Clueless to become the World's Weirdest Foodie.  She has embraced the vegan lifestyle -- a diligence I actually admire her for.  When Well-Informed didn't get greenlighted by Warner Brothers, she decided to make a career out of veganism.  She wrote a book called The Kind Diet, which according to Ms. Silverstone is a "simple" guide for "swearing off meat and dairy forever."  Then, so that the whole plant-based dieting thing can be more "fun" and "interactive," she started a website called The Kind Life.  It's the electronic kitchen table you can sit down at with Ms. Silverstone while she "shares all kinds of tasty morsels with you."

Just be careful when you decide to take a seat.  Homegirl has some really interesting perspectives on "sharing."  They're as interesting as her take on naming offspring.

You see, Ms. Silverstone recently shared a video on The Kind Life of her feeding her son.  Her son named Bear Blu.  It's a post that makes every other mother and every other vegan out there look like total Junior Varsity players, or that makes Ms. Silverstone look utterly, completely off her recycled wood rocker.

Here's the scene: Ms. Silverstone and Bear Blu are getting ready to share the most important meal of the day.  But Mama Bear isn't about to give Baby Cub oatmeal or grape nuts or some other semi-relatable super-duper-healthy everything-free kickstart to his day.  Oh no.  Mrs. Berenstain Bear has whipped up some of her world famous "miso soup, collards and radish steamed and drizzled with flax oil, cast iron mochi with nori wrapped outside, and some grated daikon."  Winnette Pooh's review?  "YUM!"  What's more, Baloo trumpets that little Mowgli just LOVES the mochi and the veggies from the soup -- he crawls across the room to "attack [her] mouth" to get him some Japanese rice cake made of glutinous rice. 

I'm sorry, but what else is Fozzie Bear being offered at meal-time such that rice and veggies make him kick the crawl into high gear?  Is lunch seaweed with grated serrano peppers sprinkled on top?  How many pieces of lentil loaf does he have to choke through at dinner?

And if this kid truly is gleeful about eating white pasty rice, where did I miss the product recall for my kid's taste buds, which recognize bananas as "too slimy" and broccoli as "hurting my mouth"?

More troubling than this palate versus palate smack-down is the manner in which Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear chooses to deliver the mochi-veggie moosh to her Furry Wunderkid.  Get ready.....


Every time I think of this, my brain does a stutter-step.  Then it crashes from question overload.  Before I have to reboot, here are some of the queries I'd like to pose if given a guest spot on The Kind [Of Bat-Shit Crazy] Life:

1.  Does she not own a fork or a spoon? 
2.  Does she have something against cutlery? 
3.  Even if she neither owns nor appreciates cutlery, did she amputate her fingers?
4.  Does her son not have teeth?
5.  If he doesn't have teeth, why is he eating things you need teeth to eat?
6.  If he does have teeth, does he not know how to move his jaw up and down to get those teeth a-chomping?

But then I get to the worst thought/question of all: how, mechanically, does this food delivery system work?

And then I have to lie down to take a nap or dry-heave.  Because there's only one way you can do mouth-to-mouth feeding like a frisky couple with cherry-string tongue-tying abilities -- she must basically have to french kiss her son. 

I'd say this is a pretty good example of cutting off your nose to spite your face.  I'm as supportive as the next gal when it comes to trying to be as healthy as you can and to teach solid health habits to your kids.  But Alicia, let's talk big picture here, honey.  In your bid to get uber-nutrition into your son's digestive system, you're breaking the laws of most states and ignoring all those lessons Shakespeare's tragedies taught us.  It's just not cool for your tongue to be in such continued contact with your son's.  People are going to get the wrong idea.  And while little Boy Bear Blu might be a walking, talking (apparently not chewing) health pyramid, it's tough to make friends on the playground when you're swapping spit with mom every time your tummy grumbles.

Even if you think I'm a judgmental Earth-killing meanie armed and dangerous with my spork, Alicia, for the love of all that is holy and pure, take a step back.  If you really want to keep your breakfast activities at a PG-13 level, fine.  Good luck to you and yours.  But please realize that you're a kind-of celebrity, and when you videotape yourself doing things like this, it's gonna get out.  I think embracing your general reputation as the girl from Clueless is an improvement on being the woman who confuses herself for a bird.

I mean, like, duuuuuhhhhhhh!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Forecast? Cold.

Put me in front of a beaker and the periodic table, and I start to get the shakes.  Ask me to light a Bunsen burner, and I break out into a cold sweat.  Photosynthesis?  All I can do is spell it.

Despite my general ineptitude at what one would usually consider "science," I'm pretty sure that I've got a finding worthy of any peer-reviewed journal you want to throw down.  That's right -- now that I have one child in pre-school and the other in day care, I've stumbled upon a meteorological breakthrough. 

Here it is:  winter, spring, summer and fall are not the only seasons.  There's a fifth season.  I like to call it Seriously, Another Cold? Season.  I know it doesn't really fall off the tongue.  Maybe SAC is better.  Or Misery.  Misery might do just fine.

Anyway.  Seriously, Another Cold directly targets children of tender age, but indirectly, it cuts a wide swath through the entire household.  It is marked by high temperatures, usually in the forehead region.  High winds are likely, usually coming from the nose or mouth.  Precipitation is definitely involved, with fine mists excreting from the eyes and a steady downpour from the nose.  Fast-moving storms can blow in from nowhere, but are often triggered by association with multiple small people whose cuteness only disguises the tornado of bacteria they're churning up.  Storms are cyclical in nature, sweeping in and hitting hard, then slowly exiting on some jet stream of obscene amounts of laundry and concentrated levels of disinfectant.  Said departure cannot be trusted, however much residents want to let themselves get lulled into a false sense of security.  For just as soon as you think Seriously, Another Cold has ended, another cold front will be in the forecast, threatening the clear skies and pleasant temperatures of your happy home with yet another onslaught.

Unfortunately, a fool-proof method for sending Seriously, Another Cold on its way has yet to be found.  Parents everywhere have resorted to various methods of battening down the hatches.  They buy cold-air humidifiers. When that doesn't work, they switch to hot-air humidifiers.  They listen.  Is that cough wet?  Or is it dry?  If it's wet with a hint of dry, does that mean Vicks VapoRub or a steam shower?  Doesn't matter.  Both will just make the coughing more dramatic.  They help blow nose after nose.  Is the fluid clear, or is it yellowish-green?  If it's yellowish-green, what does that mean again?  They buy kegs of orange juice.  They buy echinacea in whatever form they can find it and force feed it.  They make everyone wash their hands until they're just raw, bleeding stumps at the end of their arms.  They put towels, phone books, dollhouses, whatever under one end of a mattress so that the afflicted can sleep at an incline.  No dice.

They go to WebMD, convince themselves their child has Scarlet Fever and/or Whooping Cough, and finally rush in to the pediatrician.  At this point, mommy hasn't slept in 6 days, Junior is drooling and gooping from every orifice north of his neck, and the doctor has no recourse but to prescribe antibiotics, mostly because said doctor is nervous about what will happen if mommy doesn't think there's something on the horizon that is going to end this particular Nor'Easter.  Little does mommy know, the antibiotic she skips home with will only shovel away the gunk deposited by the current cold to make a cozier breeding ground for the gunk the next cold promises to bring.  And so the season of Seriously, Another Cold takes root, mocking the other seasons for being so weak as to only last a few paltry months.

The other hallmark of Seriously, Another Cold is that unless you are willing to (a) live as hermits; or (b) sell your children, you can't run from it.  It will track you down in whatever sun-kissed, gentle-breezed bunker you erect for yourself and your offspring.  It's like death, in that it inevitably and eventually happens to everyone, and it's like taxes, in that it will happen again and again, every year.  All you can hope for is that the bacteria eventually do die and that your taxes are lower than your medical bills.

Our house is getting ravaged by another cold front.  We're trying to fight back, but barometric pressure is continuing to plummet.  If you don't hear from me again this week, please assume I've drowned in a humidifier or choked on a ball of Kleenex.  In that event, alert FEMA and the rich bastard who makes amoxicillin that I need to replenish my stock-pile.

Actually, cancel FEMA.  You come. 

With the amoxcillin.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I Can't Stand Your Ground

Ever wonder about the dangers of too much Vitamin D?  I present to you the State of Florida.

All you need to do is watch the Today Show to start getting an uncomfortable feeling about the Sunshine State.  Yes, it boasts beaches, Disney World, really fit outdoor exercisers, and no state income tax.  But for every tax exemption, there’s a hanging chad.  For every princess there’s an Aileen Wuornos.  For every Tim Tebow there’s a Casey Anthony.  For every piece of protect-the-Everglades legislation, there’s a Stand Your Ground statute.

The Stand Your Ground statute is at the heart of the most recent controversy to be exported from Florida.  When most of us think of self-defense, we think of the laws that say that a person cannot be guilty of murder when they killed someone because there was no other option; because if they did not, that person would have killed them.  A Stand Your Ground statute is self-defense on steroids: it says that killing your aggressor to protect yourself doesn't have to be your last option.  You don't have to find some other way to save yourself, like running away or hiding until the police arrive.  If you think someone is probably going to kill you or really hurt you, plant your feet, aim, and shoot.

In this case, a self-appointed “neighborhood watch captain,” George Zimmerman, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who at the time was talking on the phone to his girlfriend while he returned from buying soda and skittles.  Zimmerman, who first told the 911 operator that Trayvon posed some sort of vague threat to his gated community, now says Trayvon also posed an immediate threat to him.  Such a threat that Zimmerman had to shoot Trayvon dead at what must have been point-blank, or nearly point-blank, range.

Zimmerman doesn’t deny killing Trayvon.  The only debate is whether Zimmerman was “justified” in ending the life of a kid whose greatest crime that night was that he wanted to satisfy his sweet tooth.

The only justified reaction to Zimmerman's gross paranoia is the amount of attention the ensuing tragedy has garnered.  The Today Show and its journalistic peers cover the case and its developments at every broadcast.  Trayvon’s parents are now as recognizable as his sweet face is in the various pictures that have been released to the media.  Wearing your hood up has taken on a grave significance. 

Zimmerman’s friends report that, when Zimmerman realized the event wouldn’t just “blow over” as he’d hoped (his/their words), he went into hiding.  I hope he’s not expecting sympathy.  Much (hopefully most) of America is outraged that Zimmerman can pick his own hide-out, maybe in his favorite neighborhood-watch community.  He can concoct cockamamie theories about the people he sees walking down the street.  He can eat his skittles in peace.

And it’s all because the Sanford, FL police came to the conclusion, in about a week’s time, that there was no chargeable crime. 

Yes, that’s right – people spend more time in a single vacation at the Magic Kingdom than it took the police to decide that Zimmerman didn’t do anything wrong in the eyes of the law.

There are only two options here: either the Sanford police are legal geniuses, or the Sanford police are human disasters.  Florida's Stand Your Ground law reads, in relevant part:
a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if . . . he . . . reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself[.]

Phrases like “reasonably believes,” “necessary,” and “imminent death or great bodily harm” raise thorny legal issues that lawyers spend entire trials trying to prove or disprove.  What’s more, a sister statute provides that the Stand Your Ground law doesn’t even apply if the person who claims it as a defense was himself the aggressor in the circumstances that lead to the victim’s death.  So, for example, if Zimmerman pursued Trayvon down the street and tried to stop him from running away by tackling him, and Trayvon fought back to try to escape, and THEN Zimmerman shot him, well, in that case, Zimmerman couldn’t claim protection under the law.  You know, kind of like if exactly what the evidence indicates happened were to have actually happened, Zimmerman would be a murderer.

Luckily for Zimmerman, within days the police bought his story that he was in imminent physical danger when he tailed a kid who was walking away from him down the street.  Luckily for Zimmerman, the police agreed that killing Trayvon was therefore necessary.  Luckily for Zimmerman, seven years ago Florida passed its Stand Your Ground law.

If it can be said that good comes from a tragedy such as this, I suppose here the “good” could be Trayvon’s martyrdom to the movement against Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and elsewhere.  Why any citizen needs to be empowered to instigate a shoot-out in the ways of the Wild Wild West is beyond me.  Why the law should bless a killing in all but the most dire, narrowly and carefully defined circumstances is something I need explained to me by someone other than the NRA lobby and people who cite the Second Amendment with the same basic understanding as those who kill in the name of God.  I don’t pretend to be the final authority on either, but I’m confident that neither God nor the Constitution tells us to or wants us to use our fellow man for target practice.

I don't want the George Zimmermans of the world deciding who looks cagey, who shouldn't be out on the street, and who needs to be pursued on foot.  The other "good" thing here is that clearly much (hopefully most) of America doesn't either.  From the President to the Miami Heat to the thousands of protestors to the nearly one million signatories of online petitions to the old man at church yesterday who stood up and called for prayers for Trayvon and his family to the Jane Does like me, people are giving Zimmerman and those of like mind a clear, simple message: Not On Our Watch.

UPDATE: For some reason, this post has stopped displaying the correctly-spelled last name of the shooter.  I understand that his last name is as spelled, for example, here.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cardio Clean

Today my son turns six months old. 

Today I still have the stomach of a woman in her first, maybe second, trimester.

That is not the correlation I was hoping for.

But never fear.  After spending an embarassing amount of time trolling the blogosphere and reading about EveryWoman's perky take on how to get in shape and get the old you BACK (assuming the old you that you're looking for is the 12-year-old you and not the 22-year-old you who looked like a woman in her third trimester after four years of douche-baggery college) I have figured out a totally awesome, so much fun, squeeze it in anytime, super-duper-secret way to lose those final [ahem] pounds.  And I'm about to blow the lid of that pot of gold.  Get out your pen and paper.  Or open the notes app on your phone.  Either way.

First, equipment.  You're going to need a bed and some sheets.  Everyone should have those.  The key here, though, is to have invested in a ridiculous, and I mean a what-in-the-hell-was-I-thinking, mattress cover.  I recommend one from a discount furniture store that is sold to you by a man who wears a suit to sell mattresses.  Said mattress cover should ideally be gimmicky, in that it's thrown in to sweeten the pot as you wonder whether you can afford to spend $699 on a memory foam mattress.  It should emit the faint smell of a nuclear disaster when you take it out of its plastic encasement at home.  But the hallmark -- pay attention here, people -- is that it should have both a top AND a bottom, connected by fabric at one end and joined by zipper around the remaining 80% once you put it on the bed.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a paid spokeswoman, but if you need one, this is something like what I'm talking about.

Second, have your toddler wet a bed.  It can be your bed, her bed, it really doesn't matter.  It just has to be a bed that has the aforementioned mattress cover on it.  And if you don't have a potty-training toddler, you can (a) over-hydrate one of your older kids (don't worry, the emotional scars of bed-wetting will leave them eventually); (b) over-hydrate your husband (ditto); or (c) just take a cup full of water and dump it right out in a concentrated pour on the sheets.

Three, get in a good warm-up.  We don't want you pulling anything.  Simply take the comforter, your 46 throw pillows, your 7 regular-sized pillows, and all your sheets off the bed.  Find the least-dusty area of your floor and throw that pile of linens there.  You should feel a good burn in your shoulders and upper back, and maybe even your quads if you're really getting into the squat portion of this throw.

Now, Set One.  Yup, it's time to take off that mattress cover.  I know you don't want to.  I know you just want to Febreze it and forget it.  But you and I both know that's just going to end up in an embarassing rash for someone.  So just do it. 

Start with the zipper.  Easy enough, right?

Next, peel back the top layer.

Still good?

Now, I want you to do a deep squat, hoist up one corner of your mattress, rest it on your shoulder, and with a violent, downward thrust, I want you to try to peel back at least 0.134 inches of the lower portion of your mattress cover.  The technique here is really key.  You should feel like you're going to dislocate your shoulder, spleen, hip, or a combination of all three.  After about 23 tugs, the bottom half of your mattress cover should be removed.

It's time to let out a good, gutteral yell that scares your infant.  Bonus if the yell even scares you a little bit.

Find another corner of the mattress, switch shoulders, and continue the removal process.

You're in a good sweat now, am I right? 

Haul off that mattress cover, find the soiled sheet, kick those puppies into the washing machine, and enjoy yourself a little break.  Set One is done!

Finally, let's finish up this workout with a good Set Two.  I hope you took some time to stretch, go to your chiropractor, and call your priest to prepare. 

Because yes, you're right - it's time to put that mattress cover BACK ON.

I want you to pretend you're wrestling an alligator covered in vaseline who interned with Mary Lou Retton. 

That's the only instruction I have for you.  For the remaining steps, you're on your own, because I have no earthly idea how to get that thing back on.  I just know you have to keep at it for 4-5 hours and eventually you'll have cajoled that cruel piece of poly-blended fabric back onto your godforsaken bed.  And I also know that if everyone in your house isn't crying by the time you've finished, you haven't done it right and, I'm sorry to say, you will have to start again.

The good news is you'll sleep like a baby.  And through all the sweat and tears, you'll have lost about 3 ounces of your body weight.  Only 106 more bed changes to go and you'll be able to wear t-shirts without hip slimmers again!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Joke's On Her

My daughter is going through (at least) two phases right now:

1.  She likes to think she's in on every joke.

2.  She does not like to share.

Phase #1 manifests itself in a variety of ways, some of which are half-disturbing (not in an annoying way, but in an is-my-child-insane? way).  My husband and I will be having dinner in the kitchen and Emilia will be in the other room smothering playing with her brother or watching Max & Ruby.  Dos or I will make a noise that sounds like the distant cousin of a laugh, and from across the room Emilia starts laughing at a decibel only appropriate for announcing a fire or Johnny Depp's arrival at our front door.  Then she takes a breath to call out our names, and when she sees she's gotten our attention, she starts shrieking with laughter again, hoping we'll join in.  In her perfect world, we're all rolling on the floor laughing, with streams of tears cascading down our cheeks.  In. On. The. Joke.  (Again, even though there probably really never even was a joke - Dos had probably just choked on a dry piece of chicken.)

The other way phase #1 is evidenced is by the "jokes" Emilia now likes to tell so as to induce family-wide mirth and hysteria.  It started off with repeat tellings of knock-knock jokes.  They made absolutely no sense ("Knock knock! Who's there?  Banana!  Banana who?  Banana banana!!!"), but at least they followed the universal template of what a joke might sound like, especially if you were a monkey, depressed bread, or a sundae looking for a culinary canoe.  Now she is so desperate to get to a punch-line that she completely skips the wind-up and seizes on any word/phrase with multiple syllables that she's recently heard.  She says that word, and then she starts laughing, urging you with her eyes to let the good times roll yourself.  The other day at breakfast, the joke-of-the-moment got trotted out: APPLE JUICE!!!  APPLE JUICE!  APPLE JUUUUIIIICCCCEEEE!!!!  Dos and I played along and laughed with her initially, but after that joke was retold for the 394th time, we had to break it to her that joke time was over.  She still wouldn't stop, so we started throwing tomatoes at her. 

Anywho.  Phase #2 is much more irksome, as it means Emilia devolves into the worst version of herself in front of other people.  Having to referee her Mr. Hyde moments makes me feel both like a bad mother for having a child that doesn't innately want to share and love her fellow man more than she loves herself, but also like a complete psychopath.  I have conversations with myself, inside my head, as I try to assume my most rational, level-headed, I've participated-in-million-dollar-mediations-with-Fortune-500-companies voice.  In reality, I'd like to throw her over my shoulder and strap her in her car seat until she realizes that sharing is WAY more fun that sitting in a car with Mad Mami.  But noooo....I'm a parent.  I have to be patient and pedagogical and pleasant.  Phooey.

Sometimes, the really bad times, when Emilia doesn't want to share, she resorts to more than just a whining "nooooooo" and an elasticized retraction into her armpit of whatever toy or device is being contested.  Sometimes.....well, yes, sometimes my little angel hits or pushes or scratches her opponent.  And sometimes she does that at school, that little slice of Montessori heaven where one of the SUBJECTS they teach is "peace."  Oh boy.

Well, joke's on Emilia.  In a moment of parenting that I can only, in all humility, call divine, just the other day I was pushing Emilia in a grocery cart through Whole Foods when she wanted to go Brian Regan on me.  After she told me a hilarious one about a liquid made out of fruity pie meat, she told me it was my turn.  And before my brain could appreciate the genius I was letting loose by the shallots, this happened:

Mami: "Knock knock."

Emilia: "Who's there?"

Mami: "Pushing."

Emilia: "Pushing who?"

Mami: "Pushing no one.  IT IS NEVER OKAY TO PUSH, EMILIA!"

She loved the joke, and she repeats the punch line all the time now.

And I am looking to take my show on the road.  Preferably, one that leads to a spa.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why I Hate Grocery Shopping

I love lists.  I could make you a list about why I love lists, but it'd be too long and it'd likely need footnotes, and who reads a blog for the footnotes, I ask you?

Just one post ago, I referenced the fact that I can't even allow myself to think twice about going grocery shopping.  I can't let that pretty little dream enter my head because if it did, I would never go and my children would have to eat the plastic pie that populates my daughter's 1950's dinette.  And since Emilia is a picky eater and Mateo has only two teeth, we all know that would just leave them hungry and, therefore, cranky.  So it's a basic non-starter, is what I'm trying to say.

It's not that I hate the grocery store itself.  In fact, I have nothing against grocery stores.  I appreciate their abundance and feel lucky that I could literally run to at least two of them if I had to.  I recognize that when other people literally run to fetch their food, killing said food and dragging it home are usually the next components of the equation, assuming they're lucky enough to find dinner on the delta.  I also like to eat, and grocery stores sell food, so as a matter of pure deductive logic, I should be grocery stores' biggest fan.

Alas, no dice.  For grocery stores also host the one chore that, if not done, will only lead to cannibalism (it's a slippery slope, people - Fox News could make it in just two steps).  And I do NOT want to be the mom who sends her preschooler off for the day with a kiss and her brother's foot in her floral Pottery Barn lunch bag.

Here's what I hate about grocery shopping:

1.  The children.  Namely, my children and the fact they are inevitably present as this chore is being performed.  No chore that takes longer than 12 seconds should involve the constant presence of a child.  The Duke of Domesticity (only a man could be responsible for this pea-brained social construct) invented grocery shopping to (a) require at least 1.35 hours from start to finish; and (b) make it almost impossible to find that much uninterrupted time without at least one child in tow.  That is cruel and unusual punishment.  I went to law school -- I know what that means and I know I'm using it correctly and not hyperbolically when I use it in this context.

2.  The shopping carts.  The inexperienced look at a shopping cart and think "wow, what a great vessel to cart around the delicious food I'm going to bring home and peacefully enjoy."  The mothers ruefully eye those buggers and think "bring it."  That's the attitude you've got to have when it's your turn to enter the wrestling ring.  Because try as you might, you won't find one with all four wheels that are properly aligned and actually -- you know -- roll in a circular motion like the circle they are.  That means to get where you're going, you need to lean into it, using your full body weight and your foot as a pivot.  But then you have those darned kids (see #1) hanging in the balance, and you've got to account for the fact you don't want them tumbling over the edge and smacking their cute little faces on the cold, oatmeal-colored lineoleum floor.  So it's a constant, sweaty battle between cart and mom.

3.  The list.  I know, I know.  I started this post with the unremarkable announcement that I love lists.  Heck, I'm writing a list right now.  But the grocery shopping list is just a place for a piece of paper to mock you.  I don't care if  you Excel-matrix the shit out of the needs of your empty cupboards.  I don't care if you find an app for that.  I don't care George Clooney is reading the list to you in his chocolate-glazed voice.  That list will get the best of you every time.  You'll be in the ketchup aisle when your list tells you that you forgot to get almond milk three aisles back.  You'll get home and realize you forgot to get dish soap even though it was RIGHT THERE ON YOUR LIST!  There's no way to beat the list.  Give up and realize that you're going to be pacing that store like a Kardashian at a library -- looking vaguely lost but too proud/ashamed to admit that you have absolutely no idea what you're looking for or how to find it, or what even prompted you to set foot on the premises in the first place.

4.  The product placement.  The evil idiots that decide what goes where in a grocery store are people that should never be allowed to mix with the rest of humanity.  Wanna find tomato paste?  Not gonna put it near pasta or even remotely near its genealogical root, a tomato.  Gonna put it somewhere awful like the "ethnic" aisle next to taco shells 'cause tomato paste is Italian-y and Mexicans eat tacos.  BUUUUTTTTTTTT....if you want to find every product ever produced that contains sugar, BPA, a princess or super hero, or a price that should never be seen in a grocery store unless it's on a keg of Dom Perignon AND that your kid will most assuredly throw a temper tantrum over if said product does not immediately make it inside Satan's Sleigh.....well those, ladies and gents, are right at eye level.  Whose eye level?  EVERYONE's!!!  See them here?  And there?   And everywhere????  They're following you!!!!!

5.  The checkout.  This, by far, is the WORST part of grocery shopping.  You've survived every other step of the gauntlet and your reward are these five feet of Crazy Town.  I literally find a quiet aisle to gather my thoughts and give myself and my children a pep talk about what we're about to embark on.  Even after some Rudy-worthy rounds of "we can do it, guys!," I still get nervous and cold-sweaty when I body-blow my cart into this too-narrow funnel of hell.  There are only two options here (a) a long line that allows your children to identify every "treat" stacked in front of their nose and formulate new ways to whine for each and every one; or (b) a short line that allows your cashier to "chat" and ask you about every item of food you're buying, thereby ensuring your child still has time to recon the treats.  You only leave the check-out aisle with quiet children if you've killed them, they've killed you, or their mouths are chock-full of neon lollipop goo.

With that, I'm off to pick up Emilia and head to Shaw's to find something to make for dinner.  Cheers!

Just Do It

I owe the genius over at Nike who launched the Just Do It campaign a big thank-you.  In fact, so do my husband and children, though they might not know it (and, in one case, though he cannot say it).  Those three little words are what propel me through most of every day.  If I didn't heed their command more often than not, I would weigh 300 pounds, my daughter's lunch box would contain nothing more than a Nutri-Grain bar, and there'd be a stacks of dirty dishes and piles of dirty laundry blotting my house like domestic acne.

A lot of what I do on a day-to-day basis is not what you would call, you know, fun.  I spend a decent chunk of every day staring into the gaping hole of a dishwasher -- because I'm unloading it one instant and loading it right back up the next.  I have a similarly intimate relationship with the washer and dryer.  If I go through a day without an open-fill-empty of those Sisters from Sears, well, it's a day worthy of fireworks.  I change lots of diapers.  I clean lots of spit-up.  I do a lot of assists on and off the potty.  I fill sippy-cups with juice.  I fill sippy-cups with juice.  I fill sippy-cups with juice. 

Oh, I fill sippy-cups with juice.

If I want to make it to the gym, I need to get there before the sun even thinks about shining.  That means my day starts, at the earliest, around 4:45AM.  At the latest, it starts around 6:15, when my son wakes up.  My day ends, at the earliest, around 8:30 when both children are in bed, the kitchen is clean, and lunches are ready for the next day.  At the latest, it ends around 10, after my husband and I have tried to spend some time together with our eyes open.  In between, it's a semi-controlled, somewhat-orchestrated chaos of school, day-care, work, errands, chores, meal prep, activities, and enforcing time-outs.

Now hang on a second.  I'm not putting this out there because I think someone should feel sorry for me.  None of the above is abnormal.  None of the above qualifies in anyone's book as "problems."  None of the above was unsolicited -- I signed up for every aspect of my life that now defines the countour of my days.

But there's no denying that it's busy.  Which means I get tired.  And there's no denying the not-fun aspects of much of it.  Which means I usually sometimes would prefer to be doing something else.  Unfortunately, though, my son isn't going to learn how to change his own diaper.  And my daughter, sadly, isn't going to learn to fill her own godforsaken sippy cup.  So I just. have. to. do. it.

Alarm goes off.  It's dark.  Get up and go to the gym?  Just do it.

Kids need to be bathed.  Both will put up a fight.  Just do it.

Groceries need to be bought.  Awful, horrible errand.  Just do it.

It's such a wonderful little mantra.  It immediately cuts short the debate you could otherwise let yourself have which would inevitably end in you NOT doing what you otherwise should to save you pain or stress or angst just a stone's throw down the road.  Don't engage with the Just Delay Its.  You will pay.  Embrace the mantra.  Just Do It.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yup. Me Again.

I recently read that 20% of blogs start off with an apology for not having posted in a while.  That statistic must be accurate.  I read it on twitter.

Well color me predictable.  I'm gonna offer my readers (hi husband, mother, and sisters!) a big apology for the....ummm....20 or so months I went without writing a darned thing.  I mean, I wrote checks to banks and babysitters and I wrote pages of to-do lists.  But I didn't write anything on that Little Blog That No Longer Could for a long time.  For heaven's sake, I could have had 2.2(ish) babies in the amount of time I took off from my fake life as a wannabe blogger.
Instead, I just had one baby. 

And I quit my job. 
And I moved. 
And I realized that life can be pretty awesome when you're not getting your soul sucked out of you.

So as I climbed out of the emotional fetal position I had occupied and stopped flirting with catastrophic levels of stress, the erstwhile A Woman's Work went wherever blogs go to die -- that big blank screen in the 'sphere.

And I went where any self-respecting woman of 32 years and a partnership-track career goes: home to live with mum and dad.  Fortunately, my husband and daughter came too.  Then the fetus that is now my son made his appearance known.  Our tired but not tattered little family unit pulled itself back together, and out of distress we emerged determined to do it different this time.

We eventually found a new house, but it cost us 25% of what our old house had.  My husband had a job, but I did not.  My daughter went to nursery school, but I saw her when the sun was out and she wasn't just waking up from or getting ready for bed.  We welcomed my son into the world with no timetable on when someone other than me would be his caretaker during the week.  In so many ways, the last year or so has been wonderfully transformative for me and for us.

Kumbayah and blah blah blah.

That catharsis aside, I am still me and life is still life.  There are still things I unreasonably worry about and that make me incredibly annoying (like my unreasonable worrying).  My children are still perfectly imperfect creatures who demand constant attention and support and patience.  I remain a wholly imperfect mother who sometimes doesn't want to play "bally" or cheer at going to the potty and WOULD YOU PLEASE BUTTON THAT BUTTON ALREADY?!?  My husband still needs to feel like we have a relationship other than that of "Mami and Papi."  There are still bills to pay and nest eggs to save for.  And there are still those nagging, existential questions like "what do I want to do with my life -- or, for that matter, with my day -- and do I have the time or the energy for it?"
In the midst of this push and pull, I found myself itching for an outlet -- somewhere to "put" the jumble inside my head.  I am not patient enough to keep a journal (the pen doesn't move fast enough), and so here I am.  Back on the Blog Brigade.  There are a lot of us on it.  You should see how many times Blogger told me "that name is already taken."

So what will you find here that you can't find on the thousands of other sites blinking for your attention?  Nothing.  I'm going to talk about trying to balance a work schedule with a family schedule.  I'm going to tell stories about the crazy things my kids do and see and say.  I'm going to express an opinion that no one has asked for.  I'll probably recommend some books.  I might even pass along a recipe.  (Who AM I?!?)  Each and every one of those things you can find somewhere else on the World's Wicked Wide Web.  But here you'll read about them in my voice, and I hope you find that voice alternately relatable, reassuring, and maybe even insightful.

But more than that, God help me, here both you and I will realize that when sun's gone down and the Inbox is mute and the chores are done and the house is quiet, there's something leftover to carry us into tomorrow: motivation to try to do today one better, fueled by equal parts hope and humor.