Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Grandma's Cookbook

So as you know, I've spent the past week at home recovering.  The side effects from one of the medications due to some minor complications pretty much laid me out for most of the week.  It's also kept me on the couch watching way too much TV, in particular the Food Network.  Today we watched an episode of "The Barefoot Contessa" and she made Italian Wedding Soup.

While it looked delicious, it did not look anything like my grandmother's Italian Wedding Soup.  I don't make it often because it truly is for special occasions.  You cook a whole chicken, make the meatballs from scratch- it's a process.  And it tastes insanely delicious.

Anyhow, as we watched the show, I grabbed my cookbook that my grandmother had written for me to compare to what Ina was doing.  I flipped through and saw Banana Sour Cream Cake.  I had some old bananas and thought, rather than make my usual muffins, I'd make the cake.  So I read through the recipes....

What, you asked?  Your grandmother handwrote a cookbook?

Yes. In 1989, before even word processors, my grandmother had enough foresight to write down all our family recipes.  And not just for me, for all 11 of the cousins.  She included some words of wisdom, her favorite poems, comments on the recipes- who gave it to her (usually just a first name, as if I would know to whom she was referring), the year, if it was from a magazine, if was "Joe's favorite" etc.  I love a particular spice cake from 1920.  It's a great compilation of my family history.

Now before you get all nostalgic and start "Wow, that Mama Bean has a perfect life.  What a wonderful grandma!"  I should point out that my grandmother and I did not have a huggy, touchy kind of relationship.

My grandmother had a life very typical of first generation Americans.  Her family lost their grocery store during the Depression.  All of her brothers (she was one of 12) fought in every branch of the military during WWII.  Her son served in Vietnam.  She didn't wear pants until after my grandfather passed away in the early 70's.  She scrubbed her walls (I've never done this).  Her house smelled fresh.  She had an amazing garden.  And she cooked.

She also was not a huge fan of me as a child.  I had a bit of a speech problem, so that probably set the stage.  I was also, quite honestly, a strange kid.  I was fairly quiet and shy (try not to laugh), lived in my books and kept to myself somewhat.  Particularly during our large family gatherings.  Let's face it, she thought I was a little weird.  How do I know this, well, she wasn't a shy a woman...

But we spent a lot of time with her growing up.  I loved her stories about growing up, when she cleaned houses, how she learned to cook (our "family" lasagna recipe is off the back of the lasagna noodle box), and we spent a lot of time in her yellow kitchen.

Throughout my teen years, I came out of my shell and developed my more, um, how shall I say, opinionated personality.  We argued a bit.  My grandmother could be a touch dramatic and I would call her on it.  As a story teller, I sometime would fact check her.  I went from being a weird kid to an annoying teen.  But still, I hung out with her and bugged her.

And I think all of the grandkids, with the exception of my sister who was the favorite, had the same relationship.  She was a hard nut to please.  I always cringe because in my handwritten, beloved cookbook, there is a photo of me.  It is the WORST picture of me ever taken.  I think she did it on purpose to keep me humble.  If I get a chance, I will scan it and add it.  Maybe.  It's that bad.
Yes, I know.  I look like Sonny Bono and Roseanne Roseannadanna's love child. Thank God for braces.  And hair mousse.

She always saw herself as a teacher and I can honestly say my cousins- including the boys- are some of the best cooks I know.  And having worked in hospitality and living in Vegas, I know a lot of chefs- my cousins and I can hold our own.  We have a passion for food and cooking and it comes from that yellow kitchen.

Then, something funny happened.  Similar to this week, I found myself with some time on my hands about 9 years ago.  I gave birth to my son and was working from home, taking some time for maternity leave, etc.  I also was incredibly bored.  He slept.  I worked.  I hate day time TV.  So I started to call my grandma.  I think it started with a question on a recipe.  She tended to say things like "add a can of...." without anything.  She probably had had a phone call or someone drop in while she was working on the cookbook.

The following year, she became ill and my dad, who had just retired, starting to sit with her during the day.  Since I had always called my dad almost daily, this turned into nearly daily calls with my grandmother.  When I took Skip to meet her, she fell in love with him.  She, like me, was not a baby person, so we were both surprised by this.  Our conversations usually focused on her new favorite relative, Skip.  She even told me she thought I was a great mom.  Of course it was couched with "I wouldn't have expected that."  Sigh.  But then again, if I'm honest with myself, I didn't expect it either.

I went to visit her a few months before she passed away.  I knew it would be the last visit.  When I got to my parent's house, my aunt called me, almost frantic, saying Grandma was asking when I was coming over with my Chicken Parmesan and homemade sauce.


Well, she said you told her you found a great sauce recipe and she wants to try it.

I had.  I did.  I frantically called my husband, got the recipe, ran to the store and that night I took it to my grandma. 

She devoured it. 

My aunts were stunned.  Apparently, she hadn't been eating much.

Then she turned to me and said the words that every Italian granddaughter wants to hear from her grandmother.

"I like your sauce.  You used oregano.  I never did.... I like it better than mine."


A good mom and a good sauce.

My grandma and I were good to go.  Whatever disapproval she had shared with me during my life, it was all erased at that moment.

She passed away 3 months later.

So today, as I was making the Banana Cake, and I reduced the sugar, added some whole wheat flour, etc, I started to feel a little guilty.  It seemed sacrilegious modifying a family recipe.

And then I remembered the oregano.

The reason my grandma and I finally started to get along was because she had developed respect for me during her last two years.  She treated me like a peer.  I had always been the one to argue back and not cower from her.  I think, in the end, she liked it.

Just like she liked my sauce. 

As I added the new ingredients, made my own notes in the margins, I could almost hear my grandma in heaven saying "Hmmm... yogurt instead of sour cream... oh, toffee chips- I never thought of that."

Thanks, Grandma!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blogging and a Thank You

I have been writing my blog for 6 months now.  It started after I noticed that my friend's parents were requesting to friend me on Facebook.  When I asked them why their mom/dad wanted to be my friend, they all said "I read them your posts and they crack up."  I threw out the idea of blogging to the Facebook world and was shocked at the positive responses.

On the flip side, I've had a few people roll their eyes at my blogging.  As if they were far superior and so incredibly busy they couldn't fathom doing something so useless.

It's not useless.

And yes, I am busy, too.  I have a business, 2 kids, and try to be a good wife.  I can't talk about my business on the internet, but I will say, this spring has been insane with staffing and other issues.

Blogging has been a great release.

I am very honestly touched when people say they look forward to my blogs.  I had a friend who I hadn't spoken to in awhile call me, simply to thank me for changing her outlook on things.  Wow.

I get excited when I see someone repost something on their wall on Facebook.  Silly, maybe, but it's nice.  It's fun to be quoted.

It's also been fun to see where people are reading my blog.  I have a fairly consistent following in Denmark and Malaysia.  India is picking up, as is Germany.  I find that completely insane.

I've also been intrigued by which ones are "popular."  It's never the ones I think.  The sunshiny ones seem most popular.  I'm always hesitant to wane too philosophical- I don't want to sound preachy.  It's nice to know that when I want to, people shake their heads in agreement more than roll their eyes.

It's been great to see my readership expand.  I'm not a huge blog, but every week it's picking up.  I was just talking to my friend Kim yesterday about it.  She spends a large portion of her time working in Africa and has a great blog on her travels, fund raising for the Team Rwanda cycling team-  cool stuff (I have a link at the bottom).  I understand why people read her blog.  I told her I was shocked that people found my mundane perspective entertaining.  But it's fun.  I've also gotten competitive (as is my nature) to see how I can continue to build on it.  Sad, but true!

So today, my last day of my recovery week, I just wanted to say thank you.  When I'm having a bad day, it's nice to see that someone thought I did something well.

Feel free to comment at the bottom of the blogs I write.  Feel free to share.   I really enjoy the commentary!!!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mama Bean's World: The blog you've all been waiting for...

Mama Bean's World: The blog you've all been waiting for...: "I was going to title this 'My Vegas Boob Job' but now that I am getting more familiar with how these search engines work and tracking keywor..."

The blog you've all been waiting for...

I was going to title this "My Vegas Boob Job" but now that I am getting more familiar with how these search engines work and tracking keywords, I opted to try to limit the pervs to my site.

Anyhow, as you may have known, I recently decided to have "the girls" reduced. 

Oddly, once I announced this publicly, on Facebook, I was inundated with a number of private messages to please let everyone know how it went because they were considering the surgery themselves.

Before you think I've gone all Vegas on you-- rest assured, I'm still quite grounded-- this was medically necessary.  My insurance may have disagreed, but I will be arguing with them on that point.  You see, they removed more than they had anticipated- the maximum possible, in fact without causing damage to my blood flow (more on that later)- and it was all fibrocystic tissue.  Very heavy fibrocystic tissue.  I jokingly say that it feels as if a weight has been lifted from me.  It has.  I did not have marshmallow boobies.  I truly had some boulders.

Basically, I could have been exercising my little butt off for the next 10 years, stayed fat, damaged my back and I still would have had giant, heavy boobs.  I knew this.  It just took a $7800 gamble for me to prove it. 

So the details...

In order to do reduction mammoplasty, they basically cut around your nipple (they do not cut it off), reposition to a high place on your breast, make a U incision underneath your breast with a straight line up (think anchor).  They suck out the tissue (in my case, NOT FAT!!!), remove excess skin, sew everything back up and you're on your way out the door.

When I went in for the surgery, I had a complete "Nip/Tuck" moment-- they drew on my chest.  I asked for a happy face.  The poor surgeon, Dr. Cameron Earl, had no idea what he was getting into when he took me on as a patient.  When I asked to be a large B, small C, he laughed.  He then explained that he couldn't.  I could hear men around the world the sigh in relief in unison (my male friends have all been fascinated by why I would ever want this done....).  Basically, due to blood flow to my nipple, they are limited on the amount of tissue that can be removed.  In a normal "medically necessary" reduction, they will remove 500 grams from each breast.  He said maybe a large C.

During the surgery, they removed 650g+ from each of mine- which surprised the surgeon.  This limited the "size" reduction that was possible- I'm still a D cup more than likely but can I tell ya, 1300 g of weight off my chest is quite lovely.  The fibrocystic tissue weighs more than fatty tissue (which I could have reduced with weight loss).  If I had been doing this for cosmetic purpose, I might have been more upset, but considering the results (stay tuned), I'm good with a D cup.

I woke up a few hours later in the recovery area.  I had the surgery done out patient, at a surgical center, by the way.  I don't do well with anesthesia, so I expected to be nauseous.  What I didn't expect was that my back- the reason I was there- had gone out in surgery.  I can't lie on my back for long- and certainly not 4 hours.  Dr. Earl joked that he hadn't touched my back, but I will say, I think it reinforced the fact that I really wasn't joking about my back pain.  It felt the same as Friday mornings, after tap class on Thursday nights. 

I didn't puke.  Which shocked me.  I think the back pain was worse than the nausea. 

Because of the cystic nature of the tissue, I was put on antibiotics for a few days and my drains were kept in.  I had a feeling they would leave them in over the weekend, which they did.  By far, the drains have been the most uncomfortable part of the recovery-- I couldn't sleep on my side.  I ended up sleeping in the recliner and propped up in couches (our bed is fairly high and hard to get in and out of without using my arms to push).  So that part sucked.

So the surgery itself was not bad.  It felt/feels like a series of papercuts. It's starting to itch a bit.  Nothing awful.

But wait- here's the fun stuff.

Anesthesia and painkillers slow your system.  Antibiotics give you diarrhea.  Or at least me.  I've always joked they should just pay me to test every drug- I get every side effect known to man.  I think it's called "environmental sensitivity"- my body hates drugs.  Anyhow, I basically was constipated with gas.  Once my back pain subsided, the gas pains started.  And they sucked.  I finally gave up the pain pills (which were just Tylenol with Codeine because I'm allergic to the good stuff).  I'm still working my way through that.

Then on Saturday I decided to change my bra.  The surgical one they had given me wasn't big enough (again, they weren't anticipating the extensiveness of the cysts), so it was a nice C cup.  My amazing husband (who is not getting enough credit in this for his patience), went to JCPenney and picked up a bra.  To minimize his discomfort in the lady things department, I called ahead and they set it aside.  Anyhow, when I put on the new bra, I hit my nipple.  That caused a vasovagal syncope-- simply put I passed out. If you've been a friend of mine for a long time, you know, I pass out frequently.  My husband panicked, call 911 and fortunately I woke up quickly.  He called Dr. Earl who recommended that I elevate my feet and drink a ton of Gatorade.  Which I did.  All was well.  I think the damage to Shane's heart was substantially greater than anything to mine.

And then there is my nipple.  That bloodflow issue I mentioned, earlier?  Well, my nipple started to look a little Cajun- you know blackened?  Not a good thing to have a Cajun nipple.  It wasn't horrible and was a somewhat expected side effect, but still.  I kept having this vision of having a NUK pacifier implanted to replace my dead nipple.  Realistically, what would more than likely happen would be the tissue would deaden and fall off and a new nipple would grow.  Or a new nipple would grow and deeper tissue would fall off which would result in a skin graft with a nice tattooed nipple (I would have gone with a happy face, I think).  But again, the doctor is excellent, so he prescribed a nitropaste to revive the bloodflow to the area.  It is working nicely.  Oh, but the side effects- could cause me to pass out (in fact, he said "will more than likely for you") and has given me excruciating headaches.  Which are making me nauseous.  I haven't passed out though.  I normally ditch medications that make me sick, but the thought of no nipple clearly motivates me to suck it up through the headaches.  You just don't want to talk to me any time until I'm off it.  I'm not nice.  I don't get headaches often and I have a new found sympathy for those that get migraines.

But how do I feel- aside from the side effects of the drugs?


My mid back- which had been the issue- feels normal. I can sit up. I put on a shirt and could button it.  I'm not hunched over.  My shoulders are relaxed.  It is amazing how great I feel after such a short period of time.  I feel like I want to run.  Which I can't for another 6 weeks.  But still.  My energy level is through the roof.

From a cosmetic standpoint, there is bruising.  Looks like my boobs were used for punching bags.  They are in the post yellow, purplish phase now.  And it was hilarious to take off my bra and they stayed put- that's been a long time since that's happened.  Oh, and I look about 20 pounds thinner.  No joke.

How do I know this?  Both my kids gasped when they saw me.  I look that different to them.  I trust them.  They are children.  They are unfiltered. 

From a negative standpoint, my greatest fear prior to the surgery was realized- my ass, does in fact, look bigger.  Actually, my stomach- albeit it's bloated- looks scary.  But since neither is full of cystic tissue and I can actually move again, I'll deal with that in 6 weeks. 

A few things still concern me.  My Cajun nipple should be fine, but it's still not 100%.  I'm concerned about loss of sensation, although that really seems to be coming back.  I'm very concerned that since this wasn't fatty tissue, that the cysts could recur and I'll be right back where I started.  Hopefully, if I can get my weight down quickly, my hormones will rebalance and I can avoid that somewhat.  I'd hate to be right back where I was in a few years.  I'm not concerned that losing weight will shrink my boobs to A cups-- that had been a concern before it was apparent the tissue was not fat.  I'm still not sure where things will land, so to speak, but overall, everything looks well proportioned. 

Would I do it again?  Yes.

Was it easy?  No.  I'm still recovering.  A friend said she was recovered in a few days- I don't buy it.  I think she must have just had a lift.  This was much more difficult than I had anticipated and the drug reactions are still not making me happy.

Would I recommend it?  I think if you are as uncomfortable as I was, don't think twice about it.  I would not have done this simply for cosmetic purposes.  If you just want a lift, I would recommend a good bra.  I was in pain before, so this is nothing.

I wanted to have something out there for people to read that was an honest account of the procedure.  I'm not embarrassed to have had this done by any means.  And I think if anyone is considering it, they shouldn't be embarrassed either.  Based on the emails I received, I know I'm not alone.

So I said I would keep you abreast... also, a very heartfelt thank you for all the kind wishes.  I feel guilty.  This is nothing compared to my friends fighting cancer.  And I mean nothing.  I look at what they go through- talk about side effects- and I feel bad complaining about a little gas and a headache.  I am very lucky to be in great health, have an excellent team of doctors, and a wonderful husband.

And that's the scoop from Mama Bean's World today!

Friday, June 17, 2011

My Dad

I know you wanted to hear more about my boobs, but that will have to wait.  In short, I'm thrilled with the surgery and based on the actual tissue removed, I am confident that my insurance company will be covering the costs.

But since it's Father's Day on Sunday, I wanted to write about my dad.

We've always been fairly close.  My dad gets me.

When he realized I was smart, he was ecstatic.  He immediately tried to teach me 10 times more than what my second grade math homework required.  The next time I asked him a question on homework was my senior year.  It was calculus.  He wished me well.

When I was accepted into Cornell I called him at work.  We had discussed that if I got in, I probably would not be able to go. I had a free ride to Ohio University and it made sense for me to go there financially (free is always good).  I was surprised when he said "That is great.  Listen, I may not be able to give you a million dollars, but I will be sure to help you get an education so you can earn it yourself.  We'll make it work."  Pretty cool, huh?

When I was contemplating leaving a cushy job at Pepsi to drive across country, take a huge pay cut and work at The Mirage my dad laughed and asked me "Is this one of the times you are asking me what I would do so you can do the opposite?"  I sheepishly said yes.  He told me he would stay with the cushy job, but thought I shouldn't.  He said he had no regrets on what he'd done, only the things he hadn't.  I moved west.  Best decision ever.

When I had started in my current career, had $8.13 in my checking account and my best friend who had just graduated from Harvard Law School was coming to visit before starting her well paid job, I called my dad and said I was feeling really depressed. Because depression runs in our family, I was worried I might be  suffering from it.  He said "No sweetie, it's not depression.  Your life sucks right now.  If I were you, I'd be depressed, too."  And then we laughed.  He was right.

When I went through more than one engagement, he took it in stride.  When my husband called to ask him for my hand in marriage my dad's comment "Good luck getting her down the aisle."

My very conservative father even got used to me shacking up.  He said while he was morally opposed to it, he thought it had saved me from making some bad decisions on marriage.  I had changed his mind.

Like I said, he just gets me.

I can count on one hand the number of fights we've had-- I think two- in my life.  Not bad.  I was not a volatile teenager.  He was not a controlling dad.  Not sure which came first, though. 

One time, when I fell asleep at my boyfriend's house and came home after 2 am, he said nothing.  He did wake me up, make me go to 8 am mass (which he usually didn't make- he was a noon mass goer) and then kept me busy all day.  At the end of the day when I said I was exhausted, he simply said "I guess you shouldn't stay out until 2 am."  Point made.  Never did it again.

We are close in the way that good friends are- we can talk about anything, often to his discomfort.  I have never lied to my parents.  Sometimes, I'm sure they wished I would have.

My father has always been my biggest fan, my biggest critic and my most trusted resource.  I would not be the person I am today without his honest feedback.  He has never held back and I've always taken it as a sign of respect.  He has never blown smoke up my ass. 

We have an untraditional father-daughter relationship in some respects- more like colleagues.  But I wouldn't change it for the world.  We know each other's flaws (which are nearly identical) and I think it gives us a richer, more genuine relationship.  

So many of my friends have lost their fathers over the past few years.  I feel very lucky and fortunate to have mine around and I hope I do for a very long time.  I would be lost without him.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!  I love you!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thanks for the Mammaries....

Tomorrow is the big day.

The deboobectomy.

Or more technically, the reductive mammoplasty.

My insurance has denied it.  I will appeal.

I will not, however, wait. 

Apparently, in the world of insurance, the less you use it, the less you can use it.  If I were a hypochondriac or pill popper I probably would have no issue. 

Because I am fat, I can not get the surgery.  I am a GIANT -size 16.  I know, how can I even fit through the door? My BMI is 2 points higher than the average American.  Yes, I realize that is not the best comparative pool, but hey, it's the pool my insurance company uses.

Ironically, I am fat, because I can not exercise because of my back pain.  My last blog about returning to the gym was followed by a week on prednisone.

Oh well.

Screw them.

It's worth the money.

At least that's what every single woman I've talked to who has had the surgery has said.

I am looking forward to a few things--
  • Blouses that stay buttoned.
  • Wearing a blazer.
  • Wearing the proper size, so the shoulders don't hang halfway down my arms.
  • Exercising.
  • Jumping jacks.
  • Tap dancing.
  • Buying a bra in a department store.
  • Sleeping on my stomach.
  • Sleeping on my side.
  • Getting out of bed without it being a major event.
  • Walking upright.
  • Sitting upright.
  • Seeing my feet.

Clearly, it's cosmetic.  Because when you think Mama Bean, you think High Maintenance Woman.  Please, I have 10 times more books than shoes.  At least.


ANYHOW, the upside to all this, have been the HILARIOUS commentaries from my friends on Facebook.  I've been told that it is inappropriate to discuss this, but honestly, I don't see what the big deal is (well, technically it's two big deals).  It's kinda funny.  It's boobs.  It's also fairly obvious- if it wasn't, I wouldn't be having the surgery!

I've had friends wish me the breast.
Apologize for coming in under the wire on their wishes.
Sharing their mammaries.
Hope that I nip my back pain.
Want me to keep them abreast of my recovery.
Reminding me what a great weight will be lifted off my chest.
Leaving uplifting messages.
Said ta-ta to my ta-ta's.
Told me the breast is yet to come.
Recommended breast transplantation services.
Suggested that I milk the recovery period.

So in summary, I have the breast friends a girl could have. 

And yes, I will be sure to keep you all abreast!!

Ta ta for now---

Mama Bean

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Doing A 180: Friday is for Flowers, Fashion, Fingers

Doing A 180: Friday is for Flowers, Fashion, Fingers

Mama Bean's World: My Dog Charlie

Mama Bean's World: My Dog Charlie: "I have a 13 1/2 year old Bichon Frise named Charlie the Bear. He is something else. In many ways, he is a complete and total pain in the ..."

My Dog Charlie

I have a 13 1/2 year old Bichon Frise named Charlie the Bear.  He is something else.

In many ways, he is a complete and total pain in the ass.

You see, Charlie truly does not realize he is a dog.  I am convinced that he is a little angry man trapped inside a fluffy white dog's body.  I also am convinced that I must have saved his life in a prior life, and he is completely and fully committed to me and only me.

It is exhausting.

In many ways, Charlie has already saved my life.

I met Charlie at a pet shop in Henderson 13+ years ago.  I was shopping with my then fiance.  Charlie was cute and fluffy and as we walked by the pet store (yes, I realize this is the worst place to buy a pet, but hang on....) I thought "Oh, let's get the little puppy out."  We did.  He was one feisty little guy.  Mr. Fiance said "Do you want to get him?  For your birthday?"  to which I said "No, we have a small apartment.  Maybe once we get married, have a house, we'll get a second dog (he had a great dog, Rocky). Plus he's very expensive."  Mr. Fiance asked "Are you sure?"  He could tell that I loved the little guy.  So I said "I'll tell you what, if he throws himself against the glass like there's no tomorrow, then we'll get him."

Well, guess what?  He threw himself against the glass like he was trying to escape a fire.  The woman next to us had overheard me and said "You HAVE to get that dog."

So we did.  Mr. Fiance bought him for me.

Or so I thought.

What Mr. Fiance really did was write a bad check, then forge a check out of my account to cover his bad check... and well let's just say it wasn't the last check that he did this with over the next few months.

I found all this out 6 weeks before we were supposed to get married.

Without making this about him, I found out a whole bunch of other stuff that would make your head spin, too.  In the end, I ended up with 2 really great dogs and got rid of the bad dog.

So I owe Charlie for that.  It was a mighty close call.

But, we're even.  Two weeks after we bought Charlie (clearly a puppy mill dog from Missouri, which I now know about), they shut down the pet store.  The conditions were horrible.  Most of the dogs went to the pound and were later euthanized.

See, I told you the pet store thing ended up being a good thing.

But back to Charlie.

I am not the type of person who treats animals like people.  I think dogs like being dogs.  My awesome dog Rocky (North American Standard Mix-- yes, that means mutt) that passed last year was a dog.  Dixie, our new dog (rescue pet), is a dog.

Charlie is not aware of this.

He talks.  Seriously.  You can ask him a question and he responds.  To quote my dad, he has me trained very well.  If he barks and you ask him something, and it's not what he meant, he makes this funny noise which sounds like he's calling you a moron.  If you get it right, he goes crazy but with a "It took you long enough" attitude.

He would prefer to eat at the table with us.  He looks offended by dog food.  He would prefer to sleep in my bed, with Shane in the dog bed. 

In fact, when Shane and I started dating, Charlie would piss in his shoes.

Shane has hated Charlie for a long time.  To watch a 6'5" man argue with a 15 pound dog is hilarious.

Sadly, two years ago, Charlie had an accident.

Try not to laugh.

The evil cat that lives behind us would "attack" my dogs when they were pooping- right at the moment of the pinch-- the moment when you're most vulnerable. Rocky & Charlie had even taken to pooping in a V position, butts together, to stand watch.  I could not make this up.  I swear.  When I first saw it, the dogs in their V formation, the cat flying off the wall, the dogs literally being scared sh*tless, I couldn't breathe i was laughing so hard.  Shane almost choked when I told him.  In defense of my dogs, I told him the next time he was taking a dump, I was going to pop my head into the can and scream and see how funny HE thought it was.

But it really was funny to watch.

Funny until one day, 2 years ago, while I was making cookies with the kids, I heard a thud.

Charlie had run head first into the glass slider and was partially paralyzed.  His feeling came back with 10 minutes, but over the next six months, he started to deteriorate.  He developed  a limp and his bowels would become impacted.  In February of 2010, he nearly died.  In fact, the vet was pretty upfront that there was very little they could do.  He couldn't even walk. 

At 2 am, Charlie decided, as I lie next to him on the floor crying, that no, he was not ready.  That little dog struggled to stand and walked about 5 feet.  He collapsed. He got back up.  He was not done.

All night, I stayed up with him helping him walk, getting the gas that was threatening to kill him out.  He knew.

When we went to the vet the next morning, which had been presumably to put him down, Charlie walked in.  The vet was stunned.  I was, too.

Our regular vet has taken a liking to Charlie and has worked with me over the past year to figure out different options.  I asked her if I was being one of those crazy dog owners who wouldn't let her pet go-- she assured me I wasn't.  When Rocky was diagnosed with cancer, I decided to not make him endure those last few weeks.  She said when she saw Charlie, she saw a dog with a lot of spunk and life left. 

No kidding.

A year and a half later, he is still trucking along.  Our new dog Dixie, a very energetic retriever mix, keeps him on his toes.  They have established a way to play- Charlie sounds all vicious and Dixie gently (usually!) plays with him.  It's a good thing, because the activity keeps his bowels moving.  He needs someone to scare the shit out of him!  No joke.  Okay, it is funny.  But hey, it's better than me having to um, work things out for him. 

As you can see, he's clearly smiling in the picture .  Dogs aren't supposed smile.

He will not let me carry him up the stairs.  It might take him 20 minutes, but he does it himself.  If I bend down to pick him up, he takes off- which is almost impossible for him to do.

He is clearly addicted to his pain pills.  If I miss one, he's stands next to where I keep them and barks.  I think he can tell time.

Today, he went to the dog park.  I usually limit it to once every 2 weeks.  For a dog that can barely walk, he holds his head up, wags his tail and hangs with the big dogs-- literally.  His protector at the dog park is a Rottweiler named Joe.  Everyone at the dog park loves Charlie.  When I don't bring him, they ask worried, where he is.

He is passed out right now, at my feet, of course, hopefully with happy thoughts of the dog park. 

I hope that as I age, I do it with as much fight as Charlie.  The dog never quits.  He may look like an old, fluffy, little white dog to you, but he's not.  In his mind, he's a Great Dane protecting his family. 

I would say that his time may be coming to an end, but honestly, I don't know.  He could go tomorrow, he could last another 5 years.  He's been around 18 months longer than anyone thought.  He certainly seems committed to sticking around to annoy Shane for as long as possible. 

And I'm good with that.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mama Bean's World: Please tell your child to stop kicking my chair......

Mama Bean's World: Please tell your child to stop kicking my chair......: "As I've noted before, I have never been enthralled with children. I used to hate going out to dinner to have kids screaming at the table nex..."

Please tell your child to stop kicking my chair....

As I've noted before, I have never been enthralled with children. I used to hate going out to dinner to have kids screaming at the table next to me.  Or to be in a dressing room and have little Jimmy crawl into my room or look under the door.  Or be at a book store and have kids running up and down the aisle.  Ick.

I was assured, when I would roll my eyes when kids were misbehaving in public, that once I had children of my own I would understand.

I have children of my own.

I do not understand.

We were shopping- not something we do often as shopping is one of my least favorite activities (with the exception of book stores and Williams-Sonoma)- Wednesday night.  We stopped at Kohl's.  It was late.  The kids were nuts.  After the initial "KNOCK IT OFF" didn't work, I pulled them into an aisle, looked them both in the eyes and said "Stop it now.  Period.  This is ridiculous.  You know better.  I will not allow you to act like this."  I think the smoke coming out of my ears emphasized this point.  They both apologized and were completely fine.

Last night we went out to dinner to celebrate the end of the year and my son's straight A's.  Skip picked Sage Sushi, his favorite restaurant.  While it's not high class, it is not Chuck E. Cheese.  They do a decent bar business, people were drinking sake, watching the NBA finals- it's not a kid's restaurant.  Any time a restaurant doesn't have high chairs, I know they mean business.  For this reason, my kids know if they want to go to places like this they have to behave.

Apparently, no one told the other family in the restaurant.  They had 3 kids, 2 under the cage of 5- probably 3 and 4.

While they sat there and chatted their kids terrorized the restaurant.

The jumped in booths- including the one behind us, banging into us. 

They took the chopsticks off other tables, opened them, threw the wrappers and had sword fights.

They crawled ACROSS TABLES.

And the parents just sat there.

We go to Sage quite a bit so we know the wait staff.  Our waitress is also a part-time nanny.  We know this because she complimented us on our kids about a year ago.  We thanked her, thinking she was sucking up for a tip.  She explained that no, she knows kids really well as her real job is as a nanny, and she really thought Skip and Zoe were great.  Of course, she got a big tip.

Last night, she could barely focus.  We could hardly hear her.  I almost spit out my water when she actually said "I'm sorry, I can't hear you because of those damn kids."  This woman is normally sweet and like a very nice auntie.  She was pissed.

After about 10 minutes, as my seat kept bouncing up and down courtesy of the demon children, I understood.  I should point out, they weren't seated in the booth next to us-- their family was at a different table. 

Oh. My. Goodness.

The mom kept saying things like "Stop that. You need to sit down.  Come back here.  I'm getting mad."

Never once was there a consequence.  Never once did either parent physically move.

We noticed our waitress disappeared.  The other woman started to fill in.

The other patrons, not just us, were noticeably annoyed at the screaming, running banshees.

My daughter Zoe even said "Those little kids are not behaving."

Then our waitress reappeared after about 20 minutes.  She also had been waiting on the Satan Family and it had become a bit much.  She was pretty polite, explaining she had brought them the wrong roll because she couldn't hear over the children.

But then the best thing happened....

She lost it.

She finally looked at the Demonic Duo and said, fairly harshly:
"You boys need to sit down.  NOW.  I will not bring you your ice cream until you sit in your seats."

They boys looked stunned.

"I mean it.  Sit down.  I don't care if your parents bought the ice cream, I won't bring it to you until you SIT DOWN."

You could have heard a pin drop.

I was afraid the parents were going to say something.  They didn't.  They sat there looking sheepish. 

The kids sat down.

They ate their ice cream.

I was stunned.  Stunned that she had the nerve to say  something.  Stunned that the parents didn't mouth back at her.  Stunned that the evil children listened.

She is clearly not just a good waitress but a pretty kick butt nanny as well. 

But the sad part, once they were done with the ice cream, they went back to running around the restaurant.

Even AFTER the waitress got pissed, the parents still did nothing.  NOTHING. 


I don't understand.  If they can't control them now, what is going to happen when they are teenagers?  The kids clearly had no respect for the parents whatsoever.  I'm sure the parents thought they were "cool." 

Helloooo--you're not being cool by letting your children run the show.  You're being lazy. 

And they didn't offer to clean up the mess their kids were making, either.  The chopsticks all over the place.  The wrappers were everywhere.  I am not exaggerating.


So no, now that I have kids, I don't understand.  I don't understand at all. 

Put on your big boy and big girl pants and be a parent.

And while you're at it, tell your kids to SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

These Beans, they are a'changin'

Today was a monumental day in Mama Bean's World.

As you may know, I am self-employed.  My husband is a teacher.When my husband and I found out I was pregnant we considered a number of options for childcare.  We figured between my work flexibility and the ability to do some tasks from home, his earlier hours and summers off, we should be able to manage with a part-time nanny.  My husband I think suggested a young Swedish exchange student program....

In stepped my mother-in-law.  She had been considering retiring but as soon as she found out we were having a baby, she filled in the paperwork and became Granny the Nanny.  As I've mentioned in previous blogs, it started out as 2 days a week, then three, then two, then four.  This doesn't count overnights,weekends, etc.  Throw in the fact that she's amazing with the kids and my kids have had an amazing childhood. 

Today was her last official day. 

Summer vacation starts tomorrow.

My daughter starts full day kindergarten next fall.

My son will be in third grade.

I will take them to school.  My husband will pick them up- except in the spring during track season.  We'll need Grandma for a few hours or even do the after-school Safe Key program for the hour overlap.

Grandma was very sad today.  My son Skip laughed and said "Is she not going to be our Grandma anymore?"  My daughter Zoe asked "What's wrong with her?"

But I get it.  It's change.  They are growing up.

Watching the kids defined her.  Now the options of what to do are unlimited.

For me, it's a big deal, too.  I will be back at the office 5 days a week.  No excuse to go to the park (I never felt guilty-- the market closes at 1 pacific time-- I can return calls and emails from a park as easily as my office!).  My work hours will increase substantially.  Since I never missed a beat, even had my business grow during that time period, I'm wondering if I will simply fill the hours with fluff or will they be productive?  When my time was limited at the office, I was the queen of efficiency.  I've even been asked to train others on my systems.  Will I be taking it up a notch?  Success is always scarier than failure.  It's truly unlimited.

And next Thursday, at 10:30 am, I am having breast reduction surgery.  This is a huge deal- no pun intended.  I will be able to exercise.  My back pain that has become a huge life issue to work around over the past few years, will dissipate.  I will have no excuse not to exercise and lose weight.  Again, no limits.  I won't be constrained by what my back will allow (well, not after the first 6 months).

My husband, for the first time in 9 years, has the summer off.  No classes.  No graduate school.  No continuing education classes.  Nothing.  He's maxed out the pay scale.  He's added as many licensures as he needs.  He's thinking "Wow- what am I going to do this summer?"  The kids play on their own these days.  We don't need to entertain them. 

It's all so open and unlimited.  It's a strange feeling- like graduating from college.

Yes, I know the kids still depend on us, are busier than ever, etc, etc.  But it is definitely the end of a phase.  We have school age kids, not babies.  No back pain.  Grandma busy with her new life.  The idea of no more classes to take-- it feels like a final episode of a TV drama.  This season is all wrapped up.

So what will Mama Bean's World look like in 6 months? 

The truth is, I have no idea.

Stay tuned.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mama Bean's World: Thoughts from my son Skip

Mama Bean's World: Thoughts from my son Skip: "To mix it up, I thought I would interview my son Skip today. Actually, it's directly related to the fact that he's sitting here, next to m..."

Thoughts from my son Skip

To mix it up, I thought I would interview my son Skip today.   Actually, it's directly related to the fact that he's sitting here, next to me and I am a bit short on ideas this week.

(MamaBean): What is your favorite class at school?
(Skip):  Hmmm.... I think it would probably be science.

(MB): Why?
(S): You get to do all these cool experiments. This week in science we are building ships- pretty cool!

(MB): Who do you like better, me or your dad?  Remember I gave birth to you.  And you have a GIANT head.
(S): Equal.  Both equal.

(MB): Really?  You don't think I'm waaaaay cooler than your dad?
(S): Naw.

(MB):  Isn't it past your bedtime?
(S): No... it's really not.

(MB):  Rats.  Okay, what is your favorite thing about being part of the Bean Team?
(S): They feed me.

(MB):  Really, that's all you got?
(S): Yep.

(MB): I'm getting a new son.  Next question....what's been your favorite vacation?
(S): This one that's coming up.  I get to swim in a lake with fish.

(MB): Is that better than us feeding you?
(S): No.

(MB): What's your favorite thing about me being your mom?
(S): I like that you help in my class and are extremely beautiful.

(MB): You really think I'm beautiful?
(S): Yes (laughing)

(MB): So do you think I'm cooler than your dad?
(S):  Still equal

(MB):  What's your favorite thing to do?
(S):  Play computer

(MB):  How do you think they should fix the underfunding to the schools? Serious question
(S): Probably giving Capri Suns back so they can get money for the schools.  I would say switch to solar energy so more energy would go to schools.

(MB):  What do you think about the high unemployment rate?  (keep in mind he watches CNBC with me in the morning)
(S):  I don't think they can fix it

(MB):  Why not?
(S): If nobody's coming here to set up jobs, then nobody will come here.  If there's nobody here, there's nobody to buy anything.  (I think he gets it... no jobs = no commerce-  think about that GM)

(MB):  If you were president, what would you do?
(S): I would put more police jobs in to stop marijuana from coming in from Mexico. 

(MB):  If you were Santa Claus, what would you get me for Christmas?
(S): $10,000 gift card to Target (not bad!)

(MB): If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
(S): My dreamhouse could be anywhere there are trees.

(MB): What do you want to be when you grow up?
(S): Civil or aerospace engineer (he's not kidding- I would bank money on this-- oh wait, I am banking money on this...his college fund!)

(MB): Am I cooler than your dad?
(S):  Still equal...

(MB): If there is one thing you wanted my readers to know about me, what would you tell them?
(S): She's cool.  You're a good mom.  For real.

(MB):  Aww.... you're a great kid.  I love you.
(S): awesome. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mama Bean's World: The Supporting Roles in our Lives

Mama Bean's World: The Supporting Roles in our Lives: "I found out today that someone who I know through work has stage 4 cancer. I'll call her Sally. We aren't terribly close. I'm not even s..."

Mama Bean's World: To Emily on her Engagement

Mama Bean's World: To Emily on her Engagement: "Dear Emily, Congratulations on your engagement! I am truly very happy for you! I will miss hearing about your travails in the dating wor..."

Mama Bean's World: Me, Valium and the Apocalypse

Mama Bean's World: Me, Valium and the Apocalypse: "I cannot, for the life of me, take painkillers. I am actually allergic to an entire drug class- hives- but I'm a light weight when it comes..."

Mama Bean's World: Grill Girl

Mama Bean's World: Grill Girl: "I just read through a few articles on USAToday about grilling. They all were directed at men. Sigh. Really? REALLY? And then I thou..."

Mama Bean's World: Mommies and the Pool

Mama Bean's World: Mommies and the Pool: "Two years ago I took the time to learn to swim. I am not particularly, um, how shall I say.... in shape. This is apparent whether I am i..."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mama Bean's World: The Petri Dish of Parenthood

Mama Bean's World: The Petri Dish of Parenthood: "This spring, our family passed around the annual Bean Family Spring cold. For the first time, I appeared to be immune. My Magic Suit of Mo..."

The Petri Dish of Parenthood

This spring, our family passed around the annual Bean Family Spring cold.  For the first time, I appeared to be immune.  My Magic Suit of Momness apparently worked it powers and FINALLY, after nearly 9 years, I was able to clean puke and wipe noses without catching the crud.


Or so I thought.

Actually, my recent illness appears to be minor.  We're in Day 2 of Scratchy Throat Syndrome which may end up being simply allergy related to the giant gusts of winds blowing every piece of pollen off every piece of greenery in the entire valley.

My family, in general, is fairly healthy.  Aside from my bad back and minor seasonal allergies, we usually only have 2 rounds of crud that run through the family.  Medical research aside I attribute this to 2 things:

1)  Vitamins- my kids take them when I remember (I am vigilant over the winter).  I usually take them.  We don't seem to get sick much.  That's my research.  Argue amongst yourselves.

2)  Natural immunity-my children, in particular my daughter, have placed nearly every known object on a playground in their mouths.  My daughter even licked the bottom of an exam table at the pediatrician's office for no apparent reason other than to taste the taste of a wide variety of germs.

This natural immunity, I had hoped, had finally transferred to me.  As a mom, I've been peed on, barfed on, crapped on, sneezed on, etc, etc.  I can only hope that this will protect me from super virus to which I will be exposed in the nursing home where my kids will send me.  But for now, it's not quite there.

I should also point out that my husband has really stepped up to the plate in the arena of sick child care.  I was unaware that it was only the responsibility of the mother.  This ideology came to a crashing end one night, at 2 am, when my son was 2 and I had vomit sliding down my back, in my hair, and was holding my son-- who was covered in vomit-- and I asked my husband to please change the crib sheets and I would take care of Skip.

"I can't.  It will make me throw up.  I can't stand the smell."



I believe the next 5 minutes of tirade sounded something like this:

"Gee, really?  You see I love being bathed in vomit.  It's wonderful.  The rancid smell of half digested food trickling down my back makes me want to dance...."

I sorta, kinda lost it.  If you know me, it's never a good thing.  I'm always so freakin' polite that when I lose it, I REALLY lose it.  I don't raise my voice.  I go, as my husband says, immediately for the jugular vein of sarcasm.
So now we have a system.  I clean the respective kid, he gets the sheets.  We look like a NASCAR pit crew, if I don't say so myself.

The only time the system fails is when one of us gets it.

My husband actually picked up the cold first, then my son, then my daughter, then back to my son, back to my daughter, maybe the dog.... who knows?  It's a 2 month process.  I felt a little cocky.  I was good.  So I took care of everyone.  Even let my husband have the whole bed and slept on the couch a few nights.

And now, crap, cough, sniffle, I have it.

And they are all feeling great.

The good news, I have a great family and they will take care of me.  The kids will crawl into bed with me.  Read to me.  Bring me something to drink.  Then take a drink out of the same cup.  Then I will sneeze on them.  Then they will get it back.

And the circle of bacterial and viral life goes on.

Because if you give a kid a virus, then he'll need a sick parent to go with it.