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.





Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Weight Watchers- The Final Frontier

Ee gads.  I joined Weight Watchers.

Get me a scrunchie, buy me a minivan, subscribe me to "O" magazine- I have crossed over into the last circle of Suburban Inferno.  I'll be turning in my cool card tomorrow.  Okay, I never really HAD a cool card.

I have a lot of friends that lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers.  I also have a lot of friends who have gained most of it back.  I always cringe when people say "Oh, I've done Weight Watchers a bunch of times.  It always works."  No, it must not if you have to keep going back.

I also am fascinated by people who don't know that whole grain bread is better than white bread.  Really?  Yes, vegetables are good.  Ice cream is bad.  This is not rocket science.

Um, but wait, I am fat.  I can't be a judgmental bitch anymore like in my youth.

I decided that now, after my surgery, that perhaps, I should mix it up even though I've always been able to get weight off before because, to quote myself, if I was really doing it right, I wouldn't have to keep losing it.

And forget the online stuff.  That worked once.  Now I just don't log in.  Kinda like my philosophy that if I don't get on the scale, then I must not be gaining weight.

Those are not effective weight loss strategies.

So I went to the meeting.  I felt like it was AA.  As I signed in, I told the very fun meeting leader "Honestly, I'm just here for the public humiliation."  I sat around the room, much like an addict probably does and thinking "Wow, look at these people--they don't know how to eat-  holy crap, I'm one of them."

Fortunately a friend of mine from church was there- I hadn't seen her in a few years.  She was fairly new to the program as well and I made comments throughout the meeting, cracking up her and the older women sitting next to me.

I cringed as people discussed how great "zero" point food was- processed crap without calories or nutritional value.  There is no way I'm eating that stuff.  Chemical food, albeit 0 calories, is scarier than ice cream to me.  I think at one point I was making a face and the leader saw me.  Oops.

Then they shared a microwave cake recipe.  I thought I would I gag.  It sounded disgusting.  One woman said "I tried that.  It's gross."  Phew.  I'm not nuts.

And as the meeting progressed, I realized "Holy cow, I'm the only person in here that cooks."  I'm always fascinated at how little people cook. 

That is the honest to goodness truth.  I already buy fresh produce.  We eat fairly healthy 80% of the time.  I just need to make 95%.  And I need to cut out the butter and my beloved cheese (what is the meaning of life without cheese?).  I can drop the coffee with cream and switch back to tea.  I can't stand artificial sweetener.  I think it tastes funky.  I can definitely tweak my eating habits.  While I can blame my back for my lack of exercise, it certainly has held up on my way to the pantry to hit the cookies!

But the really cool thing I found with the WW program- I don't have to eat nasty, processed faux food full of fake sugar substitutes (although they do hawk their products).  They actually have a nice program that is flexible.  Since I do cook, it's actually easier. I don't have to keep calculating points.  I can cook fish faster than you can microwave a frozen dinner (that new Breville is amazing!). 

And I get stickers.  No kidding.  For every 5% I lose.  Woo hoo!  Just in case the scale doesn't motivate me enough, I will get stickers.  Don't laugh.  I'm competitive.  This actually will work for me.  I'm not proud that good health and a long life aren't as motivating as stickers, but it's the truth.

And the leader was really quite fun.  And the older woman around me.  They were a hoot.  And my friend.

It did not suck.

And it's everything I already know, but in a different format.  And I get to have someone hold me accountable.  And I can get stickers.

What the heck? Why not?  It was kinda fun.

So for the next 10 weeks I will count points like every other mom in the PTA.  And I will go back to my "group therapy."

It certainly can't hurt.




Sunday, August 28, 2011

'Twas the Night Before School Starts


‘Twas the night before school starts and all through the house,
The bedroom lights were off, not a click of a mouse.
The kids were all nestled, somewhat snug in their beds,
While visions of homework danced in their heads.

The backpacks were hung by the garage door with care.
And Ma hoped that everything they needed was in there.

The girl was all giddy- kindergarten at last!
Her pre-school years, left in the past.
The boy was much calmer, his friends he did miss.
To be in third grade, a big kid, was bliss.

Pa is a teacher, so he whimpered a bit.
His three months off were a bust, a summer of sh*t.
His daughter’s leg broken, his son sometimes sick,
A new dog who shed, an old one who pissed.

Perhaps his classroom wasn’t so bad.
For the first time in years, he was actually glad
To go back to the grind with far less disasters,
At least, for now, he was getting paid for his masters!

The lunches are packed, one week in advance.
The clothes are all ironed, no room for chance.
Ma is all happy- back to a routine!
There’s less time for fighting and kids being mean.

The click of the remote when “Entourage”  was done,
Signaled the end of a summer that wasn’t much fun.
Quick good night kisses and eyes closed tight,
Happy School Year to all and to all a good night

Mama Bean's World: Happy Birthday to Mrs. Wittkop

Mama Bean's World: Happy Birthday to Mrs. Wittkop: Thursday is my high school English teacher's birthday. Now most people probably don't know when their high school English teacher's birthda...

Mama Bean's World: Back to School and Bullying

Mama Bean's World: Back to School and Bullying: My friend Cathy posted a link to this article on Facebook: Photographer Refuses to Take Pictures of Mean Girls It is a great article. T...

Mama Bean's World: My Favorite Things- Mama Bean Goes Oprah

Mama Bean's World: My Favorite Things- Mama Bean Goes Oprah: Honestly, I am not materialistic. I promise. I do however, like to cook. I also have a problem with small kitchen appliances. It's ...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Favorite Things- Mama Bean Goes Oprah

Honestly,  I am not materialistic.  I promise.

I do however, like to cook.

I also have a problem with small kitchen appliances.

It's actually an addiction.

Since I know this- I haven't purchased anything in nearly 2-3 years since the yogurt maker.

Yes, yogurt maker.  It makes fabulous yogurt.  Seriously.  I love plain yogurt and homemade yogurt tastes great.  You can even build your own, perfect culture.  However, it is not particularly cheaper to make it and it is a bit of a pain to heat the milk, let it cool to the exact temperature-- it's cheaper and easier to just buy it.  (And might I say, if you haven't ventured into the world of plain yogurt-- you should try it.  Once you start adding your own fresh fruit, flavored yogurt will start to taste disgustingly sweet.  A little cinnamon on top.... here I go babbling about cooking... anyhow, just because you buy it plain, doesn't mean you have to eat it plain!)

We recently added three new appliances to our household.  All three were home runs.  We actually use them almost daily.  I have never been happier with purchases.

So, like Oprah, I would like to tell you a bit about these products. I would also like to point out that I waited for 2 of them to drop dramatically in price before I purchased them.  I am not recommending that you run and buy any of them immediately because you can't live without them.  You can.  But, if you find yourself needing to replace something that breaks, well, these are really great options.

Our first purchase was a cappuccino/coffee maker.  Our coffee maker started to die.  It was a wedding gift 10 years ago.  It was a fabulous Melita Grind and Brew that they don't make any more.  The filter was leaking, we couldn't find a replacement for the part.  We were out at Fry's (aka nerd mecca--- we love it) and found....

DeLonghi-BCO120T-Combination-Espresso-Machine

It was $79- much less than the grind and brew options that are out there.  We did get coffee grinder separately. (FYI- the reviews on Amazon are terrible, but upon further review, every non-commercial cappuccino maker has terrible reviews.  We are just assuming this will be short lived.  I am a fan of the french press and we can always froth milk with a little frother whipper thingy.)

Mr. Bean has mastered the perfect cappuccino.  What we aren't spending at Starbucks, has already covered the cost of the machine- $79 is what, 3 lattes?  It's also fun.  The house smells great.  We've bought some flavorings.  I like a hazelnut and chocolate latte.  He likes a caramel cappuccino.  Plus, since we're Democrats, it was only a matter of time that we would get one.  In fact, if you come over, we'll make you one and charge you a usage tax (that was to make my Republican friends laugh... you really can have one for free... even if you're not a citizen... I really can make political jokes all night....).

Mr. Bean's Perfect Cappuccino

The next purchase was to replace my ongoing issues that I have with slow cookers.  I can make a souffle more easily than I can cook something in a slow cooker.  I don't get slow cookers.  You have to brown everything before hand, so why not just roast something or simmer it on the stove?  Plus, one that I had burned everything- I read the reviews on Amazon- it wasn't just me.  Then I got a nice Kitchen Aid one- the crock cracks every 3 months.  They are great at replacing it, but honestly, it's a pain.  Then I heard about the....

Cuisinart-Cook-Central-Multi-Cooker-7-Quart

When it dropped below $200, I went to get one at Williams-Sonoma to get it.  They were sold out.  For a year, every time I went, they were sold out.  I figured it was a good thing they didn't have it because what do I really need with a $200 slow cooker (formerly $365) when my history with slow cookers was not spectacular?

Then I asked the people at W-S what they thought. They said it was, by far, their most used appliance.  They used it 5-6 times a week for demos.  They explained that you actually can brown/sautee in it- not taking the crock out, but actually IN the cooker, then flip it to slow cook.
It slow cooks, roasts, sautees/browns and steams.

Today I made a pork roast, browned it in the crock, removed the roast, deglazed the pan, poured out the sauce, put the roast back, switched to slow cook, then poured the sauce over.  When it was done, I removed the roast and made a gravy from the drippings- ALL IN ONE COOKER.  I make gravy once a year, usually (Thanksgiving) because it's a pain and I'm not a fan.  This was delicious- didn't lump, didn't burn- nice even cooking.

Last week, I roasted a chicken.  Nothing beats beer can chicken on the charcoal grill, but it was definitely moist and very evenly cooked.

I'm excited to use it to make my marinara sauce.  I feel safer having it cook in the cooker for long periods, with an auto shut off, than on the stove top, cooking for a few hours.  

I haven't steamed with it yet, but I heard it's amazing at that as well.

It is also easy to clean and very intuitive to use.

It's replaced 2 appliances - my slow cooker and my steamer- and added a third, a roaster.

If you're short on space, this should be on your list. 

And while I was at William-Sonoma getting the multi-cooker, I got the ultimate kitchen appliance. This is the thing that I will be wondering why I waited 2 years to get....

Breville-BOV800XL-1800-Watt-Convection-Toaster
Toasting a whole wheat tortilla topped with red peppers, laughing cow cheese and some diced ham.  YUM.


I have always been a fan of toaster ovens.  When I was single I used mine constantly.  I baked chicken breasts, fish, cookies- anything in it.  It saved me from turning on the oven for an individual serving.  I loved it.  When my little cheapie one finally died, I was newly married to my husband who does not embrace appliances like I do, we decided it didn't make much sense to replace it.  We got a 4 slice toaster for our new family.  I have a double oven. A toaster oven seemed excessive.

Then I watched "America's Test Kitchen."  They raved about it.  I read the reviews.  4 3/4 stars with 592 reviews on Amazon-- that's insane.

It was on sale at W-S and since we had counter space (I have been slowly getting rid of appliances I don't use), we agreed to give it a shot.  Our thoughts were if we didn't use it, his mom would probably like it.

Wow.

To say I love this thing is a vast understatement.

Let's start with toast...

Simple.

Easy enough.

How good can toast possibly be?

Well, this puppy takes toast-- stupid, simple toast- to a new level.

It toasts all the way through.  No burnt outside with doughy insides.  It's almost melba toast.  Perfectly crunchy.

I've never enjoyed toast as much in my life.

I broiled fish- PERFECT.  It took all of 7 minutes.

I made garlic bread.  Again, perfect.  All the pieces were uniform- no extra crispy ones depending on where they were.

We baked cookies.  No dark bottoms.  Even, crisp, perfect cookies.

It also can bake a frozen pizza.  This should make life easy for babysitters. 

My mother-in-law isn't getting her hands on this!
It does it all!  I love the countdown timer for toast!

It's easy enough for my 8 year old son Skip to use.  He actually likes it.  It's less scary than the big oven.  You know, the thing in the wall that we haven't turned on in 2 weeks.  I think it's the perfect appliance for single people, couples, families, empty nesters, and retirees.  Yes, that's everyone.

So before the holiday, when you're making your wish list or trying to find the perfect gift, if you or your recipient like to cook, keep these lovely items in mind.  Anything that makes my life a little easier- whether it's improved cooking or easier clean up- is worth it to share with my friends. 

None of these were cheap purchases and I really did think about them for more than 2 years (except the cappuccino maker- we just got tired of coffee grounds in our coffee and it was on sale)! If you cook, you will love them.  If you don't, well, it would be a giant waste of money. 

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School and Bullying

My friend Cathy posted a link to this article on Facebook:

Photographer Refuses to Take Pictures of Mean Girls

It is a great article.  To summarize, a photographer, Jennifer McKendrick, noticed on Facebook that a page had been created for the sole purpose of bullying and harassing other girls. Some of the posts were by students who she had scheduled appointments for their photo shoots for their senior pictures.  She cancelled the shoots, returned the deposits and let their parents know why she was doing it.  Her reasoning- she found their comments so ugly, that she had no desire to spend 2 hours with these girls making them look beautiful.

GOOD FOR HER!

And this ain't the bullying of my youth.

This is nasty, cyber fueled hate.  Lies about sexuality.  Promiscuity.  Nasty, nasty, nasty stuff.  It's expedited by the web and texting.

By the time these things are found out to be false, they have spread. 

I got teased about my curly hair, being smart, being in band, having to work, not wearing fancy, designer clothes, etc.  I know the girls who said and did things-- to this day they don't even know I know some of the hateful things that were said.  I'm 41.  It was a long time ago.  Who really cares?  And the truth then, as is it still is today-- I have curly hair (which I love), I still play and sing music (and love it), I make a very good living (and hence, have a comfortable life) and I will never understand the purpose of a label (I am proud to not be materialistic).  All the things I was being teased for then, are some of my best attributes.

Sure, my feelings were hurt.  People I thought were friends, weren't.  That's a part of life.  It was teasing, not bullying.

But today, it's taken on a whole new level of mean.

The girls on my street, when they were middle schoolers were ALWAYS fighting.  I remember being in my son's room, with the windows opened and listening to some of the very nasty thing the very "christian" girls next door were saying about the other girls in the neighborhood.  Wow. 

I should have told their mom. 

Some of the girls literally terrorized a few of the girls on the street. 

And the parents had no idea.  I still feel guilty about it.

My daughter, at 5, can even be a little bitchy, to be honest.  She has sad some pretty nasty things on the playground.  When I catch her, I make her apologize.  Immediately.

When my kids went to a fairly elitist pre-school, they were playing at a local park during lunch.  Three girls, in uniform from the school, told another little girl that they couldn't play with her because she didn't go to their school- she went to the poor public school.  They were HORRIBLE to her. 

I  couldn't sit there.  I said something.  I went up to the mean gang leader, looked her right in the eye and said-

"You are being nasty.  That is completely uncalled for.  You don't know anything about her.  Now apologize and let her play with you."

I was pissed.

The little meanie was petrified.  She apologized.  They all played very nicely together.  The mom of the girl being bullied looked stunned, but grateful.  The other little girls mommies were on their cell phones, chatting about the lastest gossip in school.

When I went over to say something-- largely to let them know how nicely their girls were behaving now, they thought I was being nuts.  It was just girls being girls.

No.  It wasn't.  Your little angel was being a bitch.  Period.  I don't care how old you are, being mean is being mean.  It's never cute.

And again, my little girl has done it.  And she gets ripped a new one every time she does.

I will make her compassionate and empathetic if it kills both of us.

Be kind.

That's all I ask.

To everyone.

If I catch my kids-- or if you catch my kids- being nasty or rude, tell me.  I do not stand for that.

Ever.

My son has a friend who cries easily.  When he realized this, he started to try to make him cry all the time. He thought it was funny.

Absofreakinglutely not.

I called the mom (who honestly, was very tired of the situation of her son crying at everything and was more empathetic to my son), and apologized.  I made Skip call and apologize.  He then got a lecture which I'm sure he will one day relay to his therapist.

Not in my house.  Not my kids.

Being nice is not very hard.

I don't think the little girls on the playground are evil.  I think they were doing something they thought was completely fine.  I don't think they realized how much words can hurt.  But someone needed to say something.  By the time junior high and high school roll around, it's too late.  Kids can really do some damage.

Laughing when someone farts during an assembly- that's normal.  Calling them Smartie Fartie is funny.  Starting rumors about sex acts that were or weren't done- calling people sluts- making up lies-- not normal. 

So this year, pick up your kid's phone and read the texts.  Check out their web history.  Read their Facebook pages. 

And please say something.

Being mean IS wrong.

And if you see or hear a kid being mean, say something.  Be polite, but say something.

We are becoming a very mean and nasty society.  Let's stop.

And while you're at it, be sure to put back the shopping cart as well.





Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mama Bean's World: The Crazy People at Wal-Green's

Mama Bean's World: The Crazy People at Wal-Green's: A few days ago I awakened to an ear infection. I thought I had one coming on-- I don't get them too frequently, but as a child, it was a re...

The Crazy People at Wal-Green's

A few days ago I awakened to an ear infection.  I thought I had one coming on-- I don't get them too frequently, but as a child, it was a regular, painful occurrence.  I had a 3 day business trip coming up and rather than let it heal over, I thought I might want to have someone look at it.

I called my primary care doctor's office and they were completely booked for the day.  Since I was leaving the next day, I decided to go to the Wal-Green's Take Care Clinic.

Even though they don't take our insurance, it's always been worth it for simple colds, flu shots, etc.  We usually are in and out fairly quickly.  It's a first-come, first-served basis.  I would never go if it was something serious, but when it's one of those basic "I have this, please verify" illnesses, I trust a physician's assistant.

They open at 8, so at 8:05, I walked in, walked up to the computer and started to sign in.  There were 3 people and 2 kids sitting in the waiting area.  I had a 9:45 am meeting, so depending on their diseases (no one looked too sick), I was hopeful I could get in and out quickly.

Then this woman started SCREAMING at me.

"IT'S FIRST COME FIRST SERVED!!  I WAS HERE FIRST!!"

By this time I was 2/3 of the way through filling in the information.

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"YOU CAN'T SIGN IN!!  I WAS HERE FIRST!"

"Why didn't you sign in?"

"THE NURSE ISN'T HERE YET!  THE COMPUTER DIDN'T WORK."

I would also like to note that she was wearing sunglasses indoors and appeared to have some sort of swim cover up on as a dress.

"It's working fine."   This seemed to confuse her.

"WELL IT'S MY TURN."  She clearly wanted me to stop. My ear hurt.  Her yelling wasn't helping.  I had already filled out all the details and I didn't want to start over.  Oh and the big thing- THERE WERE TWO COMPUTERS.

So I pointed out the other computer to her below the giant SIGN IN sign and said "Have at it."

To her credit, because they weren't officially "opened" yet, there was a screen that popped up that said "We are not yet open."  It had a full page explaining that I could continue to put in my information and I would be called in the order it was received.  There was a magic button on the bottom right that said "Next."  Once I clicked the magic button, I could go ahead and register, just like the note said.

Well, silly, educated me.  How dare I read the fine print.

Even sadder, the other people had had the same issue.  I think.  I think what probably happened was they didn't even try because they trusted Crazy Bitch With the Sunglasses who found it impossible to crack the code.

When the PA came out and called my name first, she went completely and totally nuts. "I WAS HERE FIRST.  I SHOULD GO FIRST."

I politely said "Take her, she was obviously here first." The PA shrugged, and told her to come back

I then politely asked the woman who was next if it was okay if I went because I had to go to a meeting.

She very nastily said "I don't think so."

I asked her if she had even tried to log in.  She said she couldn't.  There was a screen that said they were closed.  I told her there was a button on the bottom that said next.  Well, stupid me, not on HER screen.  At this point I rolled my eyes.

So here's where my judgmental ire was raised...

Neither of these woman were dressed like they had anywhere important to be.  They both were being horribly nasty in front of their kids or grandkids.  I can never tell.  I was being pleasant.  There was no need to be nasty.

So I'm sitting there, watching the clock pass by.

I noticed the Over the Counter home DNA testing kit for only $29.99.  Really?  The world has come to the point where that's an OTC need? Then I thought about Crazy Bitch With the Sunglasses and it made a little more sense.

I thought it was funny that the laxatives were next to the iron supplements (if you've ever taken iron supplements, you understand....they do go hand in hand).

And I watched the clock tick.  The third person that was waiting was a cop.  When the PA again called my name, I said "You know what, he was here, too."  The cop was very nice said it was fine.  I told him to go, I had to leave as it was, and besides, he was the only one who hadn't gone apeshit on me.  He laughed, thanked me, and I left.

I went back after work because my ear was getting worse, not better.  I waited about 20 minutes.

During that time, I talked to the obvious meth head who was shaking and told me how great her Medicaid was.  Lovely.

I answered questions for another girl about the price list "The info is there, in the brochure called 'Price List.'"

Basically I spent my entire time serving as an Interpreter for Morons.

I looked at the DNA test.  That explained so much.

There was another very nice woman waiting with her granddaughter.  We just kept rolling our eyes at the bizarre questions people kept asking me, as well as why they kept asking me. 

I finally got back to see the PA.  I had an ear infection.  I had gotten water in my ear.  He explained to me how to take a shower.  I almost stopped him and said "I'm 41.  I've taken a shower before." Then I remembered the people in the lobby.   I just smiled as he explained that it wasn't a good idea to let the water get into my ear. 

Thank you.  I'll write that down.  I'll just take the drops, please.  It's been a long day.

Oh, and at the end, he gave me a discount for being nice.  He thought that Crazy Bitch With the Sunglasses was nuts, too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to Mrs. Wittkop

Thursday is my high school English teacher's birthday.  Now most people probably don't know when their high school English teacher's birthday is, but I do.  She wasn't just a teacher, she's also my friend. A Facebook friend to boot.  And I won't even mention that her profile pic is of us together WITH ME EDITED OUT.  Oops. I guess that slipped out.

I was very fortunate to have some pretty spectacular teachers growing up.  The fact that I've stayed in touch with many over the years shows not only the respect that I have for them, but of the kind of people they are that they would even care to stay in touch with me and their other students.

Mrs. Wittkop, or Vickie as I can call her now, always took her "job" a step further.  It was more of a lifestyle.

She was my homeroom teacher for 4 years, my English teacher during my junior year and our student council advisor.  She personally was responsible for taking an organization that had fallen apart and getting kids involved.  Kids of all organizations.  Student leadership usually seems to take on one of two types- the cool kids or the nerds.  Our student council, with Vickie as an advisor, truly included everyone.  The jocks hung out with the nerds.  The stoners even got involved (some were pretty fabulous artists).  The band kids, the cheerleaders- everyone was invited to come.  It truly created a sense of school spirit that hadn't been there before.  She always knew how to bring out the best in kids and never seemed to let stereotypes pigeon hole her.  In her eyes it seemed everyone had a talent or a gift.

She wasn't a pushover, however.  For a tiny woman, she could be quite stern.  She had a great death glare.  I received it once.  I wrote a spectacular paper on "Ethan Frome."  She even read an excerpt to the class.  The problem was, I hadn't actually read the book.  I honed all the info from the discussions we had had in class.  She had heard that a number of students hadn't read it and slapped us with a surprise quiz.  Oops.  I still remember the guilt that I felt when she handed back my C- quiz and said, quite sternly, "Hamrick, I did not expect this from you."  I felt so bad I went home and read the book that night. 

We also used to go to her house and hang out on a regular basis.  This is how I became friends with her kids.  She is such a great mom.  I always noticed that she treated her kids with respect- I never heard her talk down to them. I always felt a little guilty.  She gave so much to us, her students, I don't know how she had anything left for her own kids.  But they seemed to turn out okay-her son still cracks me up and her daughter is so smart- I love reading their posts. 

Her husband was always a good sport about the late nights - he would smile and go up to bed (he worked very early) while we all had great discussions on books we were reading, projects from school, colleges, or after I graduated, life in general.  I learned a lot in her living room.

Lately it seems that teachers are getting blamed for many things.  In fact, I have no idea why anyone would want to go into teaching these days.  It seems that they are now solely responsible for raising other people's children.  I know there are bad teachers out there- I've met some.  I also know that the bar for teachers has been set very high for me, so I try not to judge.  For Vickie, teaching was a passion and it showed.  It never seemed to me that she had a job- she had a mission.

Her mission now is to be a grandmother and from what I can gather, she's even more passionate about that.

In conclusion, because this is how I was taught to end a narrative essay, I would like to wish Mrs. Wittkop a truly happy birthday.  I am very honored and proud that you read my blog.  I don't have a gift to give you exactly, other than that I think of you often when I'm reading and wonder what you would think about a certain passage or storyline.  When I write, I'm always thoughtful that you have a red pen, on hand, ready to edit.  I have a feeling that that is probably gift enough.

Have a wonderful day and thank you for everything!


That's my left hand on her shoulder.....

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Life from the Outside Looking In

I hope if there's one thing people know about me, it's that I'm very grateful for the good life I have.  I have bad days like everyone else, but I very genuinely feel extremely fortunate and blessed.

But sometimes, it's good to have that put back into perspective.  And let's face, I've been a little whiny lately.

This summer I had the privilege of hosting 2 very bright high school interns at my office.  My husband teaches at an at-risk high school in their magnet program.  After I spoke to their economics class, 2 of the students contacted me and asked if they could do their mandatory internship with my practice.  They were very diligent in their pursuit.

I spoke with my business partner, we were both a bit tentative about having young kids in the office.  We deal with a lot of money.  We can't afford to have just anyone work for us.  It also costs us money to have staff fingerprinted, background checked, etc.

The first day they showed up, we knew we were good to go.  They wore ties.  They had their paperwork in order.  They were very professional.  I was impressed.

After their first day in the office, they told me they were now both considering going to college.  They saw how nice it was to work in a nice office and after only a few hours, their whole world had opened into another dimension.

I was stunned.

No college?  They were smart?  What???

Then we started to talk about their, ahem, grades.  Well, they got a bit of a tongue lashing from Mama Bean.

And they both said they were happy about it.  No one had ever said anything about their grades to them.  They were both far smarter than their GPA's would have shown.  They seemed very excited about having someone notice they were smart.

Every day they were scheduled, they showed up on time, ready to work.  And they worked HARD.  In this completely foreign world, they learned office etiquette, about the economy, investments.  They worked so hard, we ran out of things for them to do.  They never questioned a task and put their whole hearts and souls into anything they were assigned.

One day, one of the interns commented that my office- just my individual office- was half the size of his house.  He said the worst part was that the room that he shared with his 18 month old brother didn't have a door.  I had a door. That was really cool.

Wow.

They thought it was great when I brought them lunch from Einstein's Bagels.

I got them some logo messenger bags and shirts.  They could not have been more grateful.

Today we- Shane, the kids and I-  took them to lunch at a nice restaurant.  They were blown away by the menu.  As we drove through the nice suburban area they commented on how nice it was-- greenways, well kept houses, etc.

I have no idea what they grew up with, but this clearly was a different world.

And another door opened. 

One of them had an unfortunate issue with his school- I won't go into details- and I decided that I will fight and be his advocate.  I may not be able to do much to help, but I am going to do what I can.  He is very talented and should be a straight A student- no one ever told him that.  Even worse, no one told him that it was important and why.  Yes, their teachers do their part, but they didn't have any support at home.  School was not important.  They didn't know that you don't have to live in a tiny house or apartment with 10 people and work for someone else.  Life doesn't have to be paycheck to paycheck- that's a choice as much as getting good grades.  It's not easy, but it's not impossible.  The thought of  having a million dollars should be a goal, not a ridiculous pipedream.

I had so many great adults support me when I was a teenager.  I got to travel the world and have all kinds of wonderful experiences.  In my professional career I've been "adopted" by various mentors who have helped me.  And I will continue to do the same.

I learned a lot from working with "the boys" as we called them.  The 10 miles between our homes is a world away.  It was nice to be reminded about how fortunate I have been to have all the support I needed.

From the outside looking in.
It was also nice to see "my life" from the outside looking in-- a husband who is a partner, us as parents who care and include their children in nearly everything, an interesting and great career where I am respected, a nice home in a nice neighborhood, a nice car, a lot of fun friends that make me laugh, the ability to buy something that I want and that I play by the rules, rather than spend time and energy circumventing them.

All things that on some days, I completely and utterly take for granted.

Doesn't everyone have this life?

They don't.

I opened the doors for these kids and I will not let reality slam it in their faces. 






Thursday, August 11, 2011

Papa Bean's Crappy Summer Vacation

If you listen quietly at night, you can hear the whine and moans of teachers nationwide lamenting the return to school.

If you are married to a teacher, August is your least favorite month.  "I only have three more weeks left of vacation..."  And you grit your teeth thinking about your entire three weeks of vacation for the whole year.  Their argument "I need that time off to regroup."  Because my job is roses and sunshine all year long. In the business world we sit around and drink cappuccinos laughing at the rest of the world in between tee times.  Sure.

It sucks.

However, this year, I completely understand my husband's sadness.

This summer was going to be the first summer in 10 years that he didn't have a class to take.  He usually spent the summer days working on his masters or continuing education classes.  Last year, he maxed everything out.  This year, he was looking forward to a summer of fishing, relaxing, enjoying life.  He had new golf clubs and I'm sure he envisioned using them every day either on the course or at the driving range. 

It started with me.  I had my surgery in June which had more complications than we anticipated. Nothing awful, but he had to take over rowing the boat for about 2 weeks.

On Father's Day, as I lie on the couch with tubes in my side, we realized the kids and me had lice (so glad we snuggle so much).  I couldn't raise my arms, so he was stuck giving everyone a nice lice hair treatment.  Even me.  I have a LOT of hair.  And he had to strip the beds, the blankets that we had been snuggling in on the couch.  That's a lot of extra laundry.  Every day for 5 days.  That, my friend, makes for a crappy Father's Day and week.

Then our vacation that he had been looking forward to for months fell apart.  Our daughter broke her leg on the second day of a cross country trip.  Because I couldn't lift, he was left doing most of the carrying of our baby girl with her giant leg cast.  Then his wife (moi) started to lose it being trapped in a cabin, with record heat, the Cartoon Network playing non-stop to entertain our daughter, kamikaze mosquitoes, frizzy hair and a slowly deteriorating Congress and financial market.

Then our son got strep throat.  Pretty good case.

Then the market started to fall which made his lovely wife stay up late watching the Asian markets and leave early in the morning to get to the office. 

My old dog is peeing everywhere.  Which my husband has developed a gift for stepping in.  While he's carrying our daughter.

Then our daughter had her cast removed and is in a decent amount of pain transitioning to the walking cast.

We haven't been able to even stick with our regular date nights because we don't want to leave our teenage babysitters with a kid with a broken leg.

And now it's time to go back to school in a few days.

His summer officially sucked.

Nothing tragic to him.  Nothing insurmountable to our family.  Just a series of really annoying, inconvenient things.



I think he's even too tired to whine.
He's clearly lost it.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Girls Weekend

This weekend I had the privilege of spending the weekend with my 5 year old daughter.  Yes, the one with a broken leg.

We had planned to go away to Lake Las Vegas- it's about 30 minutes from our house.  They were running a deal- the rooms used to be $200+ and realizing that very few people come to Las Vegas to stay out in the middle of the desert, the discount rate was $56.  No joke.  They have paddle boats, paddle boards, gondolas, nice pool, movies on the lawn, a little village of shops, a spa-- it's really nice.

We decided to go away for the weekend since Skip and his dad had a few hunting trips planned for the fall.   We wanted some fun girl time.

Then she broke her leg.

So I asked her if she would be upset if I asked her brother to go instead.  I couldn't imagine what we would do with her broken leg.  We couldn't even get pedicures!!

She said it would fine.  And to be honest, since we were often segregated in our family as The Boys and The Girls, I was looking forward to spending some time with my son.

Well, he got strep throat at the last minute.

Sick kid, broken kid or lose the pre-paid room fee?

I took the broken kid.

And what a blast we had.

First, I would like to state that while Lake Las Vegas and Montelago Village is handicap accessible it is NOT handicap friendly.   Holy cow.  I was worried about missing my gym time.  No need.  Pushing her up and down the cobblestone hills in 105 degree heat was more than adequate!! But that's a blog for another day...

Okay, so on to the good stuff.

I learned so much about my little girl.  She was thrilled to have some alone time with just me.  Beyond thrilled.  In fact, the first night she even told me that it had "broken her heart" when I wanted to take Skip instead of her.  Ouch.  But I'm glad she told me.  I didn't think it had mattered much.  It had.

She is very adaptable.  She figured out how to get in and out of her wheelchair and in and out of her bed.  I was very impressed.

She also has a really great sense of smell.  We stopped in at the Fragrance Factory where they sell essential oils.  I had her guess the scents-- she did great.  In fact, we were having so much fun that the owner joined our game.

She doesn't like sympathy.  Every time someone gave her the "Ohhhhh, look at that poor little girl with the broken leg" she said "It's just a broken leg.  I'll be fine."  In fact, she was getting really irritated with it.  She was exasperated by the barrage of questions.

She knows how to milk it, though.  She had more than one waiter eating out of the palm of her hand.  And signing her cast.  The store owners all waved to us daily as we walked around the village.


Her best friend means the world to her.  She joined us for a few hours on Saturday and Zoe was so happy.  I think she will become a collector of friends.

She has the same taste as I do in decorating.  There was a cool store with all kinds of metal works, fun glass, etc.  She loved it.  We bought matching "girl power" rings.

She was as freaked out as I was with the scary doll store.

She liked the kite store and felt bad that her brother was sick. She insisted we buy him a kite.

She understood when I said we weren't buying anything, that we weren't buying anything.  She was fine with looking.

She loves contemporary jazz and modern art.

She loved going for walks and looking at the sights.

She needed time to color and draw.  I don't mean "quiet time"- this was creative time.  It is part of her soul.

She is, without a doubt, very cool.

What I had thought would be a bit of a waste- me dealing with a little girl with a broken leg in a hotel room, turned into one of the best weekends of my life. 

When there are two kids, I'm forced to be mom.  This weekend, I got to be me and I got to see my daughter be herself.  Her bright, funny, smart, hip self.  And I was a little less stressed and a little sillier myself.

Definitely time and money well spent.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How E Harmony Nearly Destroyed My Perfectly Good Marriage

No, it's not what you think....

A few years ago when E-Harmony first started out, my husband and I were watching TV. I  saw the commercial and being my normal, weird self said:

"Hey, we should sign up for it and see if we get matched!"

My husband looked at me like I was nuts.  This is not unusual.

"No, seriously, why not?  Wouldn't it be fun?"

So after some persuading, he agreed.  We agreed to limit our search to just our zip code- we didn't want to break any hearts.

I took my personality test.  It took about 45 minutes.  I have to say, it was quite impressive.  The output was one of the best assessments of my personality.  It was detailed, made some statements about what I would like in my future, in a partner- everything was dead-on.

My husband then took his test.  I tried to argue with him on his answers, he shooed me away, then about 45 minutes later, he got his assessment.  We read it and agreed that it was also very accurate.  Then he asked...

"How many matches did you get?"

"What do you mean?  I think it needs to upload overnight or something, " I replied.

"No, it doesn't.  I already have 23 matches."

"What?"  I asked incredulously.  "I must not have clicked something.  Here, let me check."

And I logged in.

Nothing.

He laughed.

Then I decided to expand my search to all of Las Vegas.

Still nothing.

Then Clark County.

Then the state of Nevada.

Then the WHOLE ENTIRE FREAKING UNIVERSE.

Nothing.

Nada.

Zilch.

No one was compatible with me.

Me, who had been engaged 5 times?

Me?  ME??????

So my husband, laughing his head off, logged back in put the entire world as his search area.

20,000 matches.  I believe at the time, that was the maximum amount the site would allow.

Nothing versus 20,000.

So much for my position that my husband was lucky to snag me.  Apparently, I was the lucky one.  No one in the world would want me.  He, on the other hand, could have had pretty much anyone he wanted.  Or at least had 20,000 options.

Being naturally competitive, I said "Well, it's probably because you'll take anyone.  I just have higher standards."

Well, that didn't really work out for me either-- his response:

"And how lucky that you found the one person who meets those high standards."

Sigh.

Ever since then, the dynamics in our marriage shifted.  I was now the lucky one, fortunate that he would pluck me out of a veritable sea of potential wives-- all who were more suited for him.  He had 20,000 options.  I had him.

I would like to point out that at no time in my profile were the words of sociopath or neurotic used.  I have no idea what was so hideous about me that no one IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE would want me.

Just before our 90 day free trial period ended, I got 2 matches.  One gentleman was a born again Christian and wanted to save my soul.  Not a great opener as I don't think my soul is particularly lost (okay, well, I did sign up for a dating service while I was married....) Another was a divorced man who had so many typos in his intro I couldn't take it. 

My husband, Mr. 20,000 Potential Wives and me, Ms. I'm So Lucky That He Married Me.

Try to live that one down....

I could no longer play the "You are so lucky I put up with your crap" card.  I was left with the Joker.  And it sucked.

He still chortles every time the psychologist from E Harmony comes on talking about how there's a match for everyone "Well, honey, ALMOST everyone" Mr. Bean chimes in.

Jerk.

I will say that although the personality profiles were spot-on, there was one glaring error-

Yes, my husband probably could have married any one of those women and been decently happy.  But he married ME.  And as I like to point out, how boring and dull his life would be had he not.

But in the end it did reinforce something I already knew that maybe he didn't- I am very lucky.  He is one in a million.  Or in this case, one in the universe and beyond.