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.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mama Bean's World: Our New Dog Oliver

Mama Bean's World: Our New Dog Oliver: This is Oliver. Cute. He is our new dog. Now for you loyal readers, don't panic, my dear old dog Charlie is still kicking. In fact...

Our New Dog Oliver

This is Oliver.


He is our new dog.

Now for you loyal readers, don't panic, my dear old dog Charlie is still kicking.

In fact, we decided it was time to adopt a dog because over the past few months Charlie has started to slow down even more and Dixie, our Golden Retriever/Australian Shepherd mix was getting antsy.  She and Charlie had always been able to play together but Charlie tends to sleep 22 1/2 hours a day and she looked very sad.

And my husband has been complaining about getting a lab since I've known him.

My husband was a puppy-from-a-breeder-kind of guy.  It took me the past 2 years to convince him that rescue was the way to go.  I explained how they get to know the dog and they are very particular about placing dogs in the right home.  I showed him pictures from my friend Hadar's rescue group in Texas.  Our homeopathic vet (feel free to mock, she's why Charlie is still here) even said you can absolutely teach an old dog new tricks.  She had trained a few dogs as drug dogs that were from pounds.

And then, of course, I snapped one night and said:


I think it was during my special time. 

My husband, frightened, started to peruse the Las Vegas Labrador Rescue ads.  We were hesitant because of Charlie about getting a new, high energy dog.   But Dixie really needed a play mate and my husband really needed a lab.  We called on one, explained our elderly dog situation and the head of the program said the dog we saw probably wasn't a good fit.

Then there was Oliver.

10 months old.



His foster parents were great.  We all think he must have been left alone- he was scared of the dark.  Kinda shy.


The second Oliver came into our home, we knew he was our dog.  He and Dixie became best friends instantly.

It's been a month and they still have not stopped playing.

I mean it. It's like having 2 teenage boys. 

He is great with Charlie.  They both will let Charlie bark and be part of whatever they are doing during the 90 minutes that he's awake.  We've even caught Oliver curled up next to Charlie- his head next to his.

When my husband first saw Oliver, I swear little hearts radiated from his eyes.  He had found his dog.

Of course, Oliver is completely unaware that he's huge.  He thinks he's a tiny puppy.  It took him awhile to learn that he could not sleep with us.  The other night he fell off the ottoman where he normally sleeps because he outgrew it.  At 3 am I heard a thud and there he was, on the floor, still asleep.  Total goofball.

He's chewed a few things, but nothing like a little puppy.  He had 2 accidents and that was it.  No housebreaking needed.  He's started to dig a little bit.  We're working on the barking.

I think he can tell time.  At 6:01 if I'm not already awake, I receive a big lick across my face.

He does what we've come to call "drive by licks"- if you're just sitting there, he comes up, licks you just to say "What's up?" 

He is a complete food whore.  It took us 2 days to get him to go into the crate-- because there was a biscuit.  Now he and Dixie race to see who gets in first.

I swear, I have never seen 2 dogs get along better.  They are best friends.  They are both submissive, so if you yell, they both roll over on their bellies. It's hilarious.

Best friends.  And Shane's foot.

I can't imagine a better addition to our family.  Things were going along far too smoothly-- we needed to add in a big, giant, going to be 90 pound dog to the mix.  It's added an extra element to our morning routine.  Breakfast, pack lunches, give Charlie his meds, check back packs, wrangle dogs.  Fun.
Wanna play?

My husband has even started training him to retrieve.  And guess what-- it's working. He's finally got his duck dog.  Probably. 

It's been a little crazy.  Oliver is big and I'm not used to it.  Plus, with his black coat, he's virtually invisible at night-- I've tripped more than once.  And did I mention that they never stop playing?  I'm not kidding....

But honestly, if you ever are hesitant to adopt a rescue dog because you think they are used goods to be discarded, think again.  Most of these dogs simply had bad owners or had owners that just couldn't take care of them properly.  Rescue groups are great ways to adopt.  The foster parents get to know the dogs and want to make sure you're the right owner for that dog.  My advice would be to take it slowly-- don't just get a dog- get the right dog.  Not every dog is the right dog for every family.  We needed a mellow guy.  I looked at quite a few dogs before we got Dixie.  Oliver was the right choice for us.

He agrees.  He just licked the screen.

So before you buy a puppy from a breeder or a pet store, browse your local shelter and rescue groups at  There are some great dogs out there- already trained and very happy to have a good home!

Our family.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It Really is a Wonderful Life

We read the short story on which "It's a Wonderful Life" is based for our book group this month. 

The timing was good because this week I had my own George Bailey moment.

I tried to quit Facebook.

Okay, not quite the same as throwing myself off a bridge due to a financial collapse of my business.

I was stunned at the response I got.

Now the reason I announced my departure was because I took a few weeks off a few months ago and I got panicked emails from friends wondering if I was okay.  We were on vacation and I didn't have access to internet.

So I explained why this time-- too many ignorant morons and too much hatred.

And then the emails, messages, notes, instant messages started.

Not one.  Not 10.

Around 100.

No joke.

People took the time to write lengthy messages about how much I had impacted their lives through my little, happy posts.

I received compliments on how much people enjoyed my posts.  About how they enjoyed the funny stories about my kids.  About how nice it was to hear about a happy, functional family.  About how encouraging it was to see someone who loves their spouse.  About how much they appreciated that I made them laugh.

About what a difference I made in their lives.

Me.  And my silly posts.

And again these weren't 2-3 sentence messages.  Some of them were quite lengthy.  I was beyond touched.

I was stunned.

I had no idea.

Every 2 years we get a client survey and every year I am reminded that I make a difference in my clients' lives.

But I honestly had no idea what an impact such a small part of my life had on so many people.  That it was significant enough for them to take a few moments out of their day to ask me to please not leave.

It wasn't a bucket of money in my living room, but it meant more.

It reminded me that kindness surpasses anger and hatred. That people cared enough to take the time for something seemingly so insignificant.

Earlier in the week I had posted all the things on my to do list and my friends came to my rescue and helped out.

My close circle- my husband, my children, and my closest friends are fantastic.  I know that.  I am so grateful for it. 

But the next circle out-- the casual friends, the acquaintances-- I never had any idea the role I played in their lives.  I just assumed it was insignificant.

I had a client pass away a few years ago unexpectedly.  Her husband shared that she used to forget my name, so after 10 years of working together, I had become simply "Sweetie."  It was their inside joke.  He teared up when he shared it.  I am tearing up typing it.  I played a small role in their life.  What a privilege.

Thank you to all the friends, former teachers, acquaintances, friends of friends who took the time to contact me and ask me not to lose touch.

It really did mean a lot to me.  It reminded me that while I may be a small part of the world, every action that I take does have an impact.  Even something as small as posting my silly observations on social media impacts people.  I'm glad that it could have such a positive impact.

I am happy that through social media I've been able to reconnect with so many old friends who also played a role in MY life- the teachers, the old neighbors, the old classmates, college friends, former co-workers-- they are interwoven in my life as parts of funny stories, things I've learned and choices I've made.  Everyone is part of a story-- the story of my life.

And I truly have a very wonderful life.  Because of the wonderful people in it. Just like George Bailey.  It was nice to be reminded of it.

Have a very Merry Christmas and may you appreciate all that you have in the coming year!

My wonderful life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pierced at Last

Well that title is going to get quite a few weirdos from Google.....

And to add to that thought-- googling "piercing in Las Vegas" is also not a great idea if you're trying to find the local Claire's.  The 20 tattoo parlors that came up were not exactly where I wanted to go.

My beautiful, wonderful, girly girl daughter turns 7 this week.  More than anything in the world-- anything-- she wanted her ears pierced.  She is apparently the only human being on the planet without pierced ears.

Well, except for her 42 year old mother.

Yep, you heard that right.  I don't have pierced ears.  Sorta.

I have semi-virgin lobes.  They were pierced once, in 1982.  They were uneven (because I jumped) and I had a terrible reaction to the posts.  I pulled them out after a few days of sore, puffy, gooey, nasty ears. 

My apologies if you were eating while you're reading this.

The reason I did not have pierced ears is because my very Catholic mother had been taught that it was desecration of the body and would prevent me from being buried in a Catholic cemetery (how nice is that?  How many mothers are concerned about their children's death rites... yep, freaked me out, too).  Oh, and sluts pierced their ears.  I didn't know what that meant but I did know that a) I was not a slut, whatever that was and b) If I died, I was okay to have eternal slumber in a Catholic cemetery and not forced to decompose with Protestants.  But at 12 I wanted to be like the other slutty, Protestant girls.  My mother was assured by aunt that ear piercing was cool with the church.  My mom caved.  Both my sister and I went.

And for me, with short hair, braces, glasses and a fairly skinny face, the last thing I needed was more metal drawing out my dorkiness.  And then they were crooked.  And then I was allergic to the hypo-allergenic posts.  Because 1% are and I am ALWAYS the 1%-- just not in the Republican way.

So I have reclaimed virgin earlobes.  Like dry humping gone awry.


I wasn't one of those moms who pierced the baby ears because honestly, I think it's weird.  There were enough things to keep clean during the infant years-- myself included-- that I didn't want to deal with earrings.  I also think baby jewelry is odd.  Babies are cute- they don't need adorned.  Weird.  Very weird to me.  Little necklaces.  Little rings.  Weird. Weird. Weird.

Also, when I lived in Ecuador, it was the custom to pierce the infant girls' ears.  And by the time the women were 40, their lobes were droopy.  It freaked me out.

So no baby earrings for my girl.

But Zoey's first word was shoe.  Actually, it was shoesie.

I birthed a girly girl.

I knew one day she would want pierced ears.  When was the question.

I thought rather than wait for some arbitrary age, I would base it on a skill- when she could keep track of her jewelry and hair accessories.  Once she could stop leaving them all over the house and losing them, then she could get her ears pierced.  Great idea, huh?

Except for one small detail...

that is never, ever going to happen in the next 10 years.  After a year of using that as the standard, I realized that could be well into her 20's. 

This week was her birthday.  I knew I was going to do this for her.  We are going out for her birthday (thank you, Ellen!) and I didn't want them to hurt when we were out.  So we did it tonight.

And I thought what the heck?  Why don't I give it another go round?

I'm not really too concerned about the burial thing (heck, my mom even changed her will to cremation-- these times, they are a changin') and the slut thing... well... no comment.

Talk about a bonding moment.  My daughter was SOOOOO excited she forgot to pee.  Then she started the pee pee dance.  She has issues with this.  She is 100 times better than before, but even now when she says she has to pee- she means 10 seconds ago.  We're usually proactive but with the excitement of having someone shoot a gun and permanently alter you earlobe looming, she sorta, kinda forgot.  I finally was sitting on the chair ready to go and well, she had to go, too. 

Off we went to Micheal's to pee.  She was skipping and dancing the whole time.  I was thinking "Why on earth am I doing this at 42?  Oh... to bond with my dancing, happy daughter."

We got back to Claire's, the little girl in front of us who is also 7 pointed out that yes, it did hurt.  Great.  I went first. 

The piercing technician- she was a pro-- took her time to adjust the holes.  I even asked her to change one.  She did-- no uneven holes for me, thank you!  Then she did it.   My reclaimed virginity soiled for eternity.  Again.  And it stung like a mother.

I have to say, however, it looks fabulous!  The piercing technician and I discussed my prior issues, so we went with gold posts.  They are special diamonds from Zircon  ( hee hee), too.  I'm hoping there are no oozing holes tomorrow.

Then it was my daughter's turn.  She was no longer dancing.  She was a hoot when I was in the hot seat.  She was chicken little when it was her turn.  She put it off then she decided to just go for it.

She was a champ-- a little watery eyes, but overall, no official tears.  Because it didn't hurt.  She said "Skip has pinched me harder than that!"  Great.  Good to know.

Here we are-- all pierced and ready to face the world with our fabulousness!!

I always say I am a better person for having had children. I am, without a doubt, a better woman for having a daughter.  She is as strong as she is beautiful  She got me to do something I never would have done without her.  She makes me more feminine.  She is proud to be a girl-- something I often lose sight of in my male dominated profession. 

She is everything I want to be when I grow up. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Being a Positive Person

It was interesting that just a few days ago I had a conversation with one of my favorite people about how both of us have positive, upbeat personalities and how in so many ways it puts pressure on us to be the perpetual cheerleaders.  We're never allowed to have bad days because we're the "nice"ones.  When we are in a pissy mood, people react.  If we were jerks all the time, they wouldn't care- but not Suzy Sunshines.

So when I posted that I quit Facebook, I got a LOT of comments, private messages, emails about it.  People said they would miss me and my humor.  I was even called the Erma Bombeck of Facebook (I want to print that on a coffee mug-- she is my idol).  I did not realize it would cause quite the stir.  I did want to let people know that I was disappearing.  I took a week or so off awhile back because I was busy and a few people were concerned that something bad had happened.  I loved that people really did enjoy my silly posts and looked forward to them.  Quite honestly, I think that's very cool.  Call me vain, I don't care, it did make me smile.  Nice to feel noticed.

First, I would like to explain that while I realize I can hide people, I don't think I should have to.  And I actually have hidden people.  A lot.  To a point I didn't see the point.  In my real life, my friends are awesome.  I was learning some awful things about people that quite honestly, I could have gone on for the rest of my life NOT knowing.  Especially the bigotry stuff.  But now I know and it sickens me.  So, since no one is holding a gun to my head to be on Facebook, as an adult, I choose to not participate.  I will live in my happy real world.  Unlike a lot of people, my reality is quite lovely.

Which quite a few of you so wonderfully pointed out.  How it was inspiring to see normal, happy people.

I was very genuinely touched. 

Which brings me to the second part of my blog.

You can be happy, too.

This is how..... it's quite easy...

When you wake up in the morning, choose to be happy.

Honestly, that's it.

I do it 99% of the time.

I had a boyfriend about 20 years ago who asked me one morning as we got ready for work (yes, I'm a slut, get over it), how I did it.

Did what, I asked?

Be so happy all the time.  Nothing gets you down, he told me.

I laughed.   And I said "It's easy.  Today when I woke up, I wasn't dead.  That's a good day."

It's really that easy.  I'm not dead.  I could be dead.  I am not.

Great way to start to the day- not being dead.  Pretty much every moment after that is my choice.

And no, I am not always happy.  I have a very, dark, twisted cynical side that only a few true friends get to see.  If you think I'm funny when I'm happy, Cynical Mama Bean puts Dennis Miller to shame.  I'm like the bastard child of him and Roseanne.  My husband sometimes spits when I say something,  uncharacteristically dark.  Because trust me, the bubble over my head can be vicious.  It is so out of character that it's extra funny.

I choose to filter it though.  Consciously.  I can easily rip someone a new one.  Trust me.  I am extremely quick witted and verbal.  My husband has accused me of going straight for the jugular in a fight.  But why?  Why make the world an angrier place?

My whole life is a series of randomness.  It's a complete fluke that I ended up in Vegas-- I walked away from a great guy and a dream job.  It's a complete fluke that I met my husband.   He is my world and makes everything better.  And if you're a frequent reader, you know that I am an accidental parent and I cannot imagine a world without my children.  I am such a better person because of them.

It hasn't been my life choices that I made that made the difference-- my life largely chooses me-- it's how I've reacted to my circumstances.  And I always use the baseline that I am not dead, so things must be good.

Rather than nag my husband about every little stinking thing he does wrong, I choose to see what he does right- which is far more than is wrong.  Most days.  I respect him as a choice.  The better wife I am, the better husband he is-- and vice versa.  Crazy how that works.

My kids can be exhausting, but I adore them.  They are these awesome little people that I am privileged to have in my life.  What a gift.  and yes, it's work, but what isn't?  I hate, hate, hate when people bitch about their kids.  The rant from time to time is fine, but I HATE when people act like their children are a burden.  Didn't you read the warning label on the box? 

So many people have the same opportunities I've had and they squander it by constantly wanting more.  Their life is never enough.  I've had people say "I want what you have."  And I usually reply "I just appreciate what I have."

I want for nothing.  Everything I need is within me.

Completely cheesy, I know.  But I swear, it's not a motivational bumper sticker-- it's my reality. 


So today I woke up and I wasn't dead.

It was Monday.  It had a few challenges.  I had to make a decision today that was frustrating.  Like so many people, I couldn't sleep all weekend because I kept thinking of the children and their parents in Newtown.  I wasn't a very nice Daisy leader tonight.  I am tired.  I am tired of my new, sweet dog waking me up.  I am tired of my old, crippled dog keeping me up.  But we laughed at dinner- even made my son almost shoot water out his nose.  To which he said "You're still not cool- you're funny, but not cool."  I'm not cool.  But my son thinks I'm funny.

And that my friends, is a good day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tonight I Quit Facebook

I couldn't take the ignorance any longer.

People that I know barely made it through high school, suddenly became constitutional experts.

Or political science experts.

Or financial experts.

I figure my real friends will stay in touch.  But I just couldn't take it any more.

The racist comments about the president, his wife and daughters.

The anti-gay commentaries.

Those same people quoting the bible.

I can see God rolling his eyes with every meme that was followed by vitriol.

(Not every person who quoted a religious quote did that- I want to clarify. )

People cheating on their spouses.

 All the stupid game requests.

Done.  Done. Done.

It all started as a fun way to get back in touch with some fantastic people that I haven't seen for years. 

Then politics leaked in.

And I was polite.

I was called an ignorant stupid fuck more than once.  Because when you think of me, uneducated and ill-informed come to mind?  Not.  I didn't get C's in high school.  Or even college for that matter. Silly, business owning, educated me.  Clearly, I have so much to learn about our tax system from someone who can't even file a 1040 EZ on their own.

I have a wide range of real friends- they are smart, they are diverse in their thought.  They are real friends.  We have fantastic discussions.

But Facebook seems to have become a forum for nuttiness.  For spreading rumors (that Ben Stein thing everyone keeps posting is false- as is 90% of the shit people post and repost without confirming).

I'm sad.  I will miss some of my virtual friends who made me laugh (Deb and DiAnne)  Or old friends who do (Tommy- your posts made me spit my coffee more than once.   And Julie- where do you and your husband find those YouTube clips?  Mike- you get the best meme award).  And even better are the amazing teachers I've gotten back in touch with!  They've all played such a huge part in my life-- yes, I was listening all those years ago-- and I am happy to reconnect. 

But when my blood is boiling, it's time to call it a day.

I care.  Call me silly.  I want to have faith in humanity that people can have a rational discussion.  I am spoiled because I have that in the real world.

Which is where I should spend my time.  I can play Words with Friends on my kindle.  I don't need to log into Facebook any more.

So if you want to stay in touch, please stay in touch.  With me.  For real.  As a real friend.  Like all the fantastic real friends who helped me out this week.

2013 is a new year.  And I will spend it doing only the things that I feel are positive and make the world a better place and me a better person.

There are so many things wrong with the world, that I want to make it my mission to focus on what's right and fixing what is wrong.

Because I am a dreamer and a magic bean buyer.  I will not let hatred bring me down.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Too soon to blog but I had to

Random babbles.... please excuse.... I needed to think out loud...

I learned about the shooting this morning and quickly turned off the TV.  I didn't want my kids to hear about it before school.  And to be honest, I didn't want to hear about it.  I had hoped it was handled, no one was hurt and the kids were okay.

I had a bunch of errands to run- if you follow my posts, you know this week has been crazy for me.  I dropped my kids off- it was raining, so I didn't walk them in like I usually do.  Plus, we were there just in time- I had to load up the car with the turkey I was taking to a friend's house for the dinner she is serving to the homeless on Sunday.  I usually hang out and watch my daughter play, but today I wanted to get a jump start, so I could make it back to volunteer in the afternoon.  I did the normal "See ya!  Love ya!  Have a good day!  Learn a lot!  Change the world!"  We smiled.  Off they went.  The kids were all hurrying into the school because of the rain.  They didn't look back.

I went around the block, was at the red light and then I heard the sirens.


Three police cars were headed towards the school.

My heart stopped.

Was the shooting not just another angry boyfriend or student?  Was this a terrorist attack?  Was it some sort of planned national event?

I froze.

Then I rushed back towards the school, my heart racing and thinking there is no way that could happen to me... please, God... don't let this be happening here.... how could I just leave them there?  Do they know that I love them?  Why didn't I walk them in?   Why did I yell at my daughter to hurry up and comb her hair?  Why didn't I look at her dress designs instead of paying the water bill online and checking my email?  Did I even ask my son what he was doing in school today or did I just ask him to pick up the dog poop?

The sirens weren't anything.  There was a small car accident on the freeway by the school.

I could breathe.

I went on with my errands.  I went to the office.  I intentionally didn't listen to the news.  I made it to the school to volunteer.  My daughter likes to hug me.  I let her.  We got our nails done tonight-- her birthday party is tomorrow.  I hugged my son a little longer when he got home.

I was making cookies tonight for a cookie exchange.  My daughter was helping me.  And I kept thinking about how many holiday parties families had planned to go to and how silly it all seems now.  How many other parents were rushed this morning like I was and cut a hug or kiss short and would be haunted by it for the rest of their lives....  I looked at the Christmas cards we've received with all the happy family pictures-- how so many people would be receiving cards like that with the faces of dead children smiling at them.  And my stomach feels like a rock.

We were supposed to go out tonight and celebrate that I had made my business goals.  We tried.

I couldn't.

My son asked me about the shooting.  I told him the man who did, like all the others, was probably mentally ill.  He asked why people didn't help him or fix it.  I tried to explain to him that mentally ill people often don't know they are.  I compared it to my husband being color blind- if that is your "normal" you don't feel crazy or that anything is wrong-- just like my husband thinks red looks brown.  I don't know what it's like for him. 

I've had close friends and family members that have suffered from mental illness.  There is so little you can do.  I tried to explain to one friend that her frequent outburst-- randomly crying in public-- I've never done it.  Her issues she had with co-workers-- I've never had any.  She found it fascinating and implied that maybe I was the one who was off.   I can't imagine what life is like inside her head. 

The privacy laws prevent the gun laws from working.  Doctors can't disclose concerns unless it's a public safety issue-- they are usually a day too late.  Health care for mental illness is limited.  If you don't have private insurance getting care puts you on a waiting list.  People don't take it seriously.  There's a "suck it up, buttercup" mentality for it.  Social services are strapped. 

So there's that conversation.

We're gun owners and we're not sure why anyone needs automatic weapons.

But for me, it always goes back to the fact that you can't protect against crazy.  You can't.

Our school, before my son attended, went on lockdown.  During a bad divorce, a father killed a mother- despite the restraining order (the most ridiculous piece of paper ever).  As she was dying, she crawled to the phone, called 911 and said he was headed to the school.

They got him before they got there.  The parents in my neighborhood were terrified.  The teachers handled it.  The school policy worked.

We have double locked doors.  Gates were put up, with chains, to secure the playground.  You have to sign in.

This school had a similar system.

You can't protect against everything. 

And then, as I watched the news I kept thinking "That looks like where I lived in Connecticut..."  But New England towns look similar and I didn't think much more about it.

I lived there 19 years ago for 3 months.  My address was Danbury but I lived on the edge of town and on the weekends, because I didn't have TV or any friends except 1, I would drive the backroads, go hiking.  It was a gorgeous area.

When they showed the church, I thought "No...."  It was where I attended mass.

It really was the pretty school that I would drive by and think "Wow- what a perfect little town."  The diner.  The orchards.  That really was the road and the barn that I thought was beautiful.  I don't know anyone there any longer, but it still hit me that I lived there.  Down the road.  You went left to my house off the freeway.  Right took you to Newtown. 

It was a commuter area, so in my brief stay, I didn't get a big sense of community, but again, I wasn't there very long.  I hope they can lean on each other through this tragedy.

And at the end of the day, I can guarantee they will find he was a newly diagnosed personality disorder.  It's the age.  It's the same story you saw in Colorado.  The "you're kidding- him?  He was a good kid..."  If you've ever known someone whose had a psychotic break, you understand. 

Did his mom just decide to cut him off?  Tell him he was 20  and needed to get a job or go to school?  Did he accuse her of caring for her students more than him? 

Does it even matter?

It wouldn't to me, if my child were dead.

Or my husband.  A teacher. 

So people are going to start blaming guns- which might be the right thing to do.  The automatic weapons still seem a bit beyond the scope of what I think our forefathers meant with the second amendment.  But will more laws stop crazy people and criminals?

A few people have even commented that this wouldn't have happened if teachers carried guns.   Sigh.  Come on.

But for me, I wish people would discuss how mental illness is treated.  Again, this might not be the case, but I doubt that any sane person would kill a kindergarten class.  They wouldn't.  And EVERY SINGLE TIME it comes out that the person had "issues" but they didn't understand how deep the issues were.

Ashleigh Banfield described the scene in the firehouse when the parents realized that their child wasn't coming out of the school.

That description will terrify me forever.  Being the one left in the room, knowing that meant your child was dead.  Murdered. 

Will I ever be able to let go?  Will I ever get over the feeling that today could be the last day I'll see my child?

I don't want to live in fear but I don't want to take a minute for granted.

I don't know any answers.  These are simply some of my thoughts.

I just know that my kids are going to be spoiled a little more than usual.

Because they came home.  Because this time it was my old neighborhood and not the one I live in now.

But you really never know. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hope Springs and Marital Relations

I'm going to be careful about the wording I use in this blog-- not because I'm a prude, but because if I don't, the traffic that comes through is well, um..... let's just say NOT the highest class of folks.

I had a VERY busy- as in insane-- week at work.  Insane. Next week is looking just as crazy.  Our new dog plays constantly and likes to wake up at 3 or 4 am.  I just wanted to chill out on the couch and watch a nice romantic comedy with the love of my life.  That's my husband, just in case you were curious.

To be more accurate, it really went more like this...

I was tired.  I was in sweats.  My husband was watching the THIRD hour of taped episodes of "Gold Rush" (the 'reality' show about mining for gold in Alaska) and I snapped and said something to the tune of "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!  CAN WE PLEASE WATCH SOMETHING THAT I MIGHT ACTUALLY ENJOY?  I AM EXHAUSTED!"

My husband, frightened, handed me the remote.  I picked "Hope Springs" from On Demand.  It stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones.  It was marketed as a romantic comedy about an older couple working to find the magic in their marriage again with the help of Steve Carell.  Sounds great, huh?

Wow.  It really sucked.  Big time.

And in more ways than one.

It.  Was.  The. Slowest. Movie. Ever.


The one where the people are stuck in the ocean and eventually eaten by sharks was faster moving.

They are both such fantastic actors that it was too real.  Way too real.  Like watching your parents.  Like watching your parents talk about sex.

And hummers.  And three ways.


And not in a funny way.  I don't know if they meant the movie to be funny, but it wasn't.  It was sad.

Very sad.

And it made me grossly uncomfortable.  Older people kissing usually makes me smile.  Older people talking about how uncomfortable they are doing the wild thing makes me more uncomfortable than they are.

And after 2 hours this is what I learned-- one night of good sex can fix everything.

It did in the movies.

What crap.

Or is it?

I am very excited to see the movie "This is 40" which is coming out next weekend.  Largely because the trailers contain conversations my husband and I have actually had.  Like the one where he is trying to get some action and the wife says "Oh.... I just took a shower..."  Or he makes a move on her and she says "I really need to take a big dump.  I'm constipated."

You know you've said that stuff, too.

It's difficult to get your sexy on when you have 10,000 things in your head and sometimes you really, really, really just want to get some sleep.

One night turns into another night turns into another night.... everyone I know who is married has had a bad run.

It's a bad habit.  And a tough one to break.

So yes, sometimes, you have to get back up on the horse, so to speak.

In between the assemblies, late nights at work, homework, TV shows (yes, admit it.  Plus, if it's between a new episode of "Castle" .... well, you know what I mean...), I don't feel sexy.  I'm fat.  I really don't like to shave my legs every day.  My brain doesn't turn off.  I feel about as sexy as a cabbage patch doll most days.

But sometimes I just need to put reality aside and channel my inner 25 year old.

And let's face it, we're all a little nicer and happier when we're getting some.

I had a colleague of mine who was basically a trophy wife.  She would say the most hilarious things 'It's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man, Lori...."  stuff from the 1950's.  Or 1890's.  She did share that any time she knew she would want something big, she would put out a LOT that week-- then she could get whatever she wanted.

I hate to say this, but it's kinda true.  Okay, it's really true.

I know the saying is "When Mama's happy, everyone is happy"--but I think the actual mathematical principle is this:

  • Papa gets some.
  • Papa is extra nice to Mama.
  • Mama gets whatever she wants.
  • Mama is happy.
  • Everyone is happy.
  • Mama is so happy that everyone is happy, Papa gets some more.

And the cycle of happy people continues.  Maybe it is that easy?

So I challenge my married* readers during this crazy holiday season- put out more.  Turn off the TV.  Log off the computer.  Go get some from that person that you live with.  They aren't a roommate.  They are your hunka chunka live in love machine.

I know you're tired.  I know you're busy.

I don't care.

It's what, a good 10-15 minutes out of your day?  30 with snuggling?  You can spare it.  We're not talking all nighters,  And if we are, well good for you.  Show-offs.

But seriously, take a little time to find the woo hoo.  Make that your Christmas gift this year.  A little more woo hoo.  I was going to write that you can't put a bow on that, but hey, I don't want to quelch your creativity....

Happy Holidays!!

*I'm assuming my single readers are already getting plenty-- because that's what married people assume.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Too Tired to Blog... Be Back Soon

Year end craziness at the office-- trying to tie everything up early so I can spend some quality time with the family at the holidays.

New dog-- because hey, 2 kids, 2 dogs, a business weren't enough-- let's get a GIANT 10 month old lab puppy.  He's awesome.  He's nuts. 

I've been sick.  As in a cold that lasted more than a week.  That hasn't happened in years.

Kids activities-- it's that time of year-- concerts, assemblies, etc. etc.

And I'm now a Daisy troop leader.  Which is fun beyond words.  Very fun. 

And I just was accepted into this fantastic leadership program for my political party.  Insanely cool.

And I hear Christmas is coming.  The goose may not be getting fat, but I'm slipping into bad habits.

And there's dinner to fix.  And homework to help with. 

And on.  And on.  And on.

You know, the usual stuff.

Just on steroids at the moment.

So if you're dying to read a little of Mama Bean's World, here are a few links to my favorites...

And one time a band camp...

Putting Back Shopping Cart and My Tao of Life

The Supernanny, Dr. Phil and Me

Mommies and the Pool

Being Political

Curly Hair

How E Harmony Nearly Destroyed my Marriage

The Crazy People at Walgreens

The Real Me

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Mama Bean's World: The Hanging of the Wreath

Mama Bean's World: The Hanging of the Wreath: My 6'5" husband is terrified of heights. I know.  Hilarious.  He IS heights. He is taller than me on a ladder. Anyhow, because of this v...

The Hanging of the Wreath

My 6'5" husband is terrified of heights.

I know.  Hilarious.  He IS heights.

He is taller than me on a ladder.

Anyhow, because of this very genuine fear, I get the task of hanging our wreath out our second story window.

I am not scared of heights in the least.

I am, however, scared of falling.  Or more specifically crashing through the ledge.

The "ledge" where the wreath hangs is about18 inches wide.  It's is made of stucco.  In our home contract it said very clearly "The second story ledge is for decorative purposes only and is not designed to bear weight."

Well, let's just say I may not weigh as much as a bear, but I am no petite flower, either.

Also, stucco- or sucko- is very scratchy.  As is plastic fake pine garland.

If I can walk you through how this process works every year....

I shake out the wreath.  Half the needles fall off.  The downside of living in the desert-- everything dries out.  I then determine if it is worth saving.  This year, yes.

I test the lights.  It's a long strand because when we used 2 strands, I accidentally put them up so that 2 female ends matched up.  Oops.  We were good to go this year.

I then remove the broken screen.  It is broken because I yanked it out 7 years ago and quite honestly, we keep forgetting about except for twice a year-- when we take it out to put up the wreath and when we pop it out to remove the wreath.

I then go out onto the ledge.

This year, I faced an additionally obstacle.  Pigeon poop.  LOADS of it.  Earlier in the year we had a little nest.  Of course, before I started to brush it off the ledge I yelled down to my husband and daughter who were working on the other outdoor decorations in the garage

"Look out!  I'm brushing off the pigeon poop!"

Which naturally caused my husband to come out of the garage and yell up:


And, then of course, he got smacked in the head with dried up pigeon poop.

"Um, I was telling you to look out for the pigeon poop that I was brushing off."

I do not think his thank you for the warning was particularly heartfelt.

So then I get out on the ledge.

The dog, a retriever, now decides that this is the perfect moment to play fetch.  I kid you not.  So as I'm hanging out there, my knees grinding into the stucco, she brings the tennis ball to the window.

"Um, Skip, can you please get your dog down?"

And naturally, Skip the Gifted, takes the ball and throws it.  So the dog returns it.  Because that's what retrievers do.


So he throws the ball. Again.


I have now begun the process of winding the garland around the railing.  It is scratching the crap out of me, but so far, so good. 

My husband was below. laughing at my game of fetch with the dog.  Because at this point, I have given up on Skip's ability to handle it and now I am playing fetch with the dog, while hanging out the window.

Then we have to center the wreath.  I need Mr. I'm Terrified of Heights's assistance with this.

We do our normal "a little to the left... no your left... turn it a bit... that's too much...." and my knees are now bloody stubs.  It's like kneeling in grits.  I saw that in a movie once.

Throw the ball.

"How's that?"  I yell down-

"Looks good!"

I put on the ties-

He yells  up--  "It moved..."

frackety frack frack...

"And now?" I asked in the pissy I'm-hanging-from-a-ledge voice.

"Um..."  because he's walking a fine line between me losing my shit now, while suspended on the ledge or losing it later when we leave and I see that it's crooked and blame him for not telling me....

"FINE!  How's that?"  I am such a bucket of sunshine while my knees are shredding and my heart is racing for fear of crashing through the stucco ledge.

And here's the dog.  Throw the ball.

"Great!"   he says.  And I can tell he's not lying. 

Now it's time to put all the ties on.  Skip is tasked with handing me the straps.  At this point he decides to have the conversation about why the sky is blue.

No joke.

He thinks it looks bluer at the ocean because the sky reflects the water.  I explained that the water is actually reflecting the sky.  And could he please hand me a tie.

No seriously, water has no color.  Yes, that is a fact.  Water is colorless.  Yes, if the sky were red, the ocean would look red.  Would you please hand me a tie?

Seriously, Skip, this is not the conversation I want to have right now.

My husband is in the driveway laughing.

Then my daughter who has now come upstairs to join us in the fetch-wreath hanging game says- very loudly-

"WOW!  That little ledge can hold your big ol' butt?" 

My husband adds "Just when I think she can't say anything funnier..."

Yeah,  she's freaking hilarious.

After 45 minutes of wrapping, repositioning, fetching, tying, I get it done.

The wreath is hung.
Now the obvious comments are "Why not get a ladder?"  Our driveway is too steep where we would need to put it.

Or even better-- "Why not hire someone to do this?"

Never.  Because the annual hanging of the wreath is a family tradition.

You have yours, we have ours.

Now excuse me, while I go put on the bandages and first aid cream on all my scratches.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mama Bean's World: Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday

Mama Bean's World: Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday: I love Thanksgiving. Of course, there are the obvious reasons- food, wine, family, friends.  And pie.  Let's not forget pie. I love to c...

Why Thanksgiving is my Favorite Holiday

I love Thanksgiving.

Of course, there are the obvious reasons- food, wine, family, friends.  And pie.  Let's not forget pie.

I love to cook.  I love to entertain.  I love my family. When I was single, I always had huge parties with my friends.

I love the smell of turkey cooking.  Right now, I'm making broth with the carcass and the house smells fantastic.

I had a friend share with me why he loved Thanksgiving-- of course, I went on and on before he explained why he loved it--- about my love of the food, the party, etc.

Then he explained to me that he came to the US at 12 as a refugee the week before Thanksgiving.  He said he was so overwhelmed with the kindness he was shown- the food, the clothing, the care.  He said it would always be his favorite holiday because it reminded him about how fortunate he was and how much he loved this country and its opportunities.

After listening to people complain seemingly nonstop about seceding and how our country is going to hell, this made me smile.

And I felt a little silly that for me the holiday seemed to be about drinking and eating.

But tonight, I really sat and thought about why I love-  ADORE-- this holiday.  Like my friend, it really does represent more to me.

For some reason, growing up, the holidays always seemed a little stressful.  There never seemed to be enough of something-- what that something was I never really understood.  I think maybe my mother had such high expectations of everything to be like a Norman Rockwell painting that when it didn't (which when does anything ever work out like that?) it felt like a failure to her and then perhaps to the rest of us as well.  The day never seemed to go smoothly.

But then I moved away.  My first Thanksgiving away was spent in Ecuador with other US foreign exchange students.  I was given the task of making the meal-- I had never cooked for that many people, let alone a big meal like this.  The turkey needed PLUCKED for crying out loud.

It turned out great.  We had a fantastic party- just us "kids."  I'm still very  close with some of the people that I shared that day with.

The next Thanksgiving I spent in NYC.  I went to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.  I skated in Rockefeller Center.  My friends opened their homes to me.  It was perfect.

And every year away from home, my Thanksgivings were great.  Not that they were horrible growing up, just a little stressful.  When I moved to Las Vegas, we had a covered dish party every year.  My single friends would hang out all day and we would drink, play games, and simply enjoy the day.

The expectations of perfection were gone.  Every year was a little different.  And while I do plan the meal out- I do a time line, I label the bowls and serving spoons-- my expectations are simple- don't give anyone food poisoning. 

The first year I was married, I asked to cook the turkey.  No one in my new family knew I could cook.  They thought I was some Ivy League stockbroker trying to impress them.  Needless to say, I CAN cook and I have been happy to make almost every Thanksgiving turkey since (I had to skip the year I was pregnant-- which I fought about- then was VERY glad-- I did show up with 14 pies for 12 people, however!).  I love doing it.  LOVE it.

And my sole expectation is still no food poisoning.

Every year something silly happens.  One year we had a grease fire in the oven when I dripped the basting liquid onto the heating element-- but it worked out.  This year, when I took out the turkey to flip it (yes, I flip my turkey-- the first half I cook breast side down, then I flip it so the skin browns-- and it works.  Aside from the first degree burns....), anyhow, I left my oven mitt in the oven.  It has rubber on it.  Nothing like toxic fumes to liven the holidays!  I've forgotten things.  Like putting out the cranberry sauce (that's just wrong...).  That first Thanksgiving I cooked for the Beans involved me nearly severing my finger (that worried everyone-- not that I was hurt, but that dinner was going to suck.  I would like to point out that my late father-in-law kept the knives VERY sharp).

But it's not about the food.  Or the follies.

It really represents to me the time when I decided to be myself.  Not the child that I was, but to simply be me.

I had a choice.  Life could be a series of perpetual disappointments, of woulda, coulda, shouldas.  Or, it could be this amazing adventure of wonder.  Of enjoyment.  Of gratefulness.  Of embracing everything that is right and not obsessing on what is wrong.

It's when I broke the mold in 1989 as I made sure there were no feathers on the turkey and guessing at temperatures in Celsius, and decided that my life was going to be a great, fun story. I learned that I defined myself; I am not defined by other people or my circumstance.  My life would be an adventure shared with fantastic friends.  Not a burden to suffer through with obstacles in my way.

And every 4th Thursday of November I am reminded of that.  Of all the good things in my life, not what is lacking.  Of my own good qualities, not my shortcomings.  That life is wonderful because I choose, and will always choose to see it that way.  I define myself and my life.

And a wonderful, full life I have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 12, 2012

My America, The Real America

On election day, a friend of mine posted that she was off to vote for the "real America."  She is a good person.  I like her.  But I think her version of the "real America" is very different than mine. When I saw the distinct difference in the crowds on election night, I turned to my husband during President Obama's speech and said "See- that's MY America.  That's what I see when I walk out my door."  He said "You have your next blog." 

In my America, we work together.

In my America, children shouldn't have to worry if there will be a next meal.

In my America, religious differences are celebrated and respected, not vilified and criminalized.

In my America, every child has an opportunity to a quality education without regard to his or her parents' financial stature.

In my America, small businesses are given the freedom to grow and prosper, not thrown under the bus to make room for large corporations.

In my America, global warming is real and ocean levels are rising; what to do about it is discussed, not if it is happening.  It is.

In my America, legal immigrants are welcomed and respected.   They bring with them their work ethic and desire for a better life-- the ideals we all share.

In my America, people look different from each other-- their skin color, their eyes, their hair, their clothes.  They have different traditions and different ideals which makes us a richer country.

In my America, people appreciate how fortunate they are.  They don't say they've done it on their own after receiving a public education and living in a safe society.

In my America, people have compassion and understanding for those who have fallen on bad times.  They don't judge because they know some day it could be them.

In my America, people can distinguish between fact and opinion.  Editorials are editorials.  Opinions are welcomed, but simply saying something louder and more often does not make it a fact.

In my America, gay people have the same rights as straight people.  They are not condemned to hell.

In my America, we respect our veterans by not just hanging a flag out or wearing a pin, but by offering them jobs after their service to our country and making sure their benefits stay intact.

In my America, women have more rights over their own bodies than the government.  Always.  In every situation.

In my America, we don't outsource our manufacturing to children in sweatshops in foreign countries to make a bigger profit.  We know that is wrong not only for our children but for the children of the world.

In my America, people have a voice.  The people who knocked on doors have more influence than 12 wealthy men running negative ad campaigns.

In my America, young people count.  They are the heart and soul of our future.  Their future should not be financed to keep a voting block happy.

In my America, senior citizens still contribute.  They bring experience to the table.  They shouldn't be made to be fearful.

In my America, a family is defined by itself, not an outdated painting.  Parents need to take responsibility for their children. Or make sure they are in the care of someone who can.

In my America, a woman has every opportunity that a man has.  Women are not simply categorized into one stereotype, but it is accepted that each woman has her own unique voice-- whether that is to be a mother, a business owner, a leader-- or all of the above.  The same as a man gets to choose.

In my America, healthcare decisions aren't dependent on your bank account or a clerk in a health insurance office-- your healthcare decisions are made between you and your doctor. Our health care shouldn't be determined by profit motives and the bottom line.

In my America, we support each other because we know it is a global economy and we must work together if we want to continue to have all the privileges we have been given.

The face of my America is diverse.  It is focused on the future, not the past.  It is proactive, not reactive.  It is growing.  It is innovative.

It is simply the best place in the world for any man or woman to achieve his or her dreams.  I live a life that my grandparents would have never imagined. 

I feel sorry for those who feel this isn't the "real" America or the "traditional" America. 

My America is wonderful.  

And you are missing out.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mama Bean's Rules of Trick or Treating

I am a candy nazi.

If you're going to trick or treat at my house, you had better be able to earn your candy.

Now before you get all judgmental on me, we just finished serving at least 800 trick or treaters.

Yes, you read that right. 


I know this because we bought 800 pieces of candy.  Our friend even gave us some of the extra candy she had.  It's all gone.

Our neighborhood is nuts.  The street behind us shuts down and half the people have fully decorated haunted houses.  One neighbor hands out beer.

It is shoulder to shoulder.

It's crazy.

The past few years have gotten out of control, in fact. People from all over come into our neighborhood with their greedy little hands digging into my candy bowl.  My husband teased me about how my liberal tendencies don't translate to candy disbursements.  You need the shirt off my back, take it.  You want my candy, you need to work for it.

If you are under 12, live in my neighborhood, and know my name (I'm at the school quite a bit and let's face it, Mrs. Bean is easy to remember),  you get candy.  You can even pick out the candy you want.  That Reese's peanut butter cup-- it's yours if you want it.

If you do not meet the above criteria, there are hoops to jump though...

You must be in costume.  Especially if you're a teenager.  I will give candy to teenagers if they are in costume.  Put a little effort into it.  A t-shirt and backpack are NOT a costume.  A little face paint, a polite trick or treat- you'll pass.  But no costume?  No candy.

You have to smile, say "Trick or Treat"" and say "Thank you"- non-negotiable.  You stick your greedy little hand right in the bowl and I will snap it away and say "Excuse me?"  Manners count.

No adults get candy.  Ever.  Pimping your infant is not candy worthy.  Now if I know you and you're showing off your baby, that's one thing.  If I have no clue who you are, no dice.  Go on to the next house.  And your baby needs to be home in bed. My Laffy Taffy could kill your baby. Go home, candy whore.

Don't make quality assessments on my candy.  I'm sorry the M&Ms aren't the kind you like.  The 7-11 at the corner sells whatever you want.  Give them a shot.

Don't swear in my driveway.  F**k might be a common word in your house, but we don't think it's appropriate for kids.  To the people with the beer cooler, who were very concerned about the f**king children after the very nice grandma honked her horn so they would move out of the center of the road, we appreciate the concern, but could you go to your f**king neighborhood next time?  And use the f**king sidewalks.  And shut the f**k up.  You didn't need to throw a beer at the woman's car in your effort to protect the f**king kids.  Douchebags.

Take one piece.  There are a boatload of people around you.  It's free.  One is more than nothing which is what you're getting if you don't put that second piece back.

Have fun.  It's a great holiday.  You get to dress up.  You can play.  You get to eat candy.  It's a blast.  Don't scream at each other.  Enjoy it.

Next year, I'm considering putting a placard out front explaining these rules.

And I'm hoping the drunk posses doesn't knock it the f**k over.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Stupid Sh*t My Husband and I Do to Keep Laughing

Last year I wrote a blog with marriage tips on my anniversary.

I hope they all were useful to everyone.  As always, I like to reiterate not dating others.  Every year another friend's marriage falls apart because they are unclear on this.

This year, now that I have an entire 11 years of marriage under my belt- which I think is 234 in Hollywood years, I thought I would take a different twist-- how on earth do you keep laughing?  Because all those deep, intimate moments get really boring after 11 years. 

I like to laugh.  A lot.  Loudly.  Often.  I think life should be enjoyed in its entirety.

Fortunately, my husband is very funny.

And we are very funny together.

At least to us.

Some of the funny things we like to do is send each other ridiculous text messages throughout the day.  We often ask each other if we're naked.... here's a "normal" exchange..

"Hey there sexy"



"The sky lol."


"Of course.  My next client will be thirled..."

"I mean thrilled.. I hate autocorrupt"




"RU picking up the kids?"

See-- sexy, fun and efficient.  That's us.

We like to make everything into a sexual innuendo.

Everything.  Our kids don't quite get it yet.  By next year, our son will be vomiting.

"Hey....' (do you see a pattern)

"Hey there...."

"Do you want some butter for your bread??"

"Why yes I do...."

And then we will literally put butter on our bread.

I know, it's hot.  You're jealous.

We like to watch YouTube videos.  Tonight we sat on the couch and watched a 15 minute video of game show responses.  And we laughed and laughed and laughed.

Yep.  We live LARGE.

We like to reenact our first kiss.  Our first kiss was leaning against my car, in front of his house.  He went in for the sweet kiss on the cheek.  I went for the full, open mouth Frencher.  I ended up licking his ear.

Not my coolest moment.  It also was a huge "I'M EASY!!" sign.

So for fun sometimes, we make cow eyes at each other and I lick his ear and he the proceeds to hump my leg.

If you see us in this bizarre position, that's what's going on.

Because why not?

We also like to sit in restaurants and make up back stories for people.  We noticed that some people sit there at dinner in restaurants and never speak to each other.  We will mimic them.  Or mock them from afar. We also try to identify first dates that are going badly.  Hee hee...

For the debates, I did voiceovers to a point I think my husband was ready to slap me. And not in a good way.

At the second debate, when Jeremy the college student asked the candidates if he would get a job in 2 years, I mocked poor nerdy Jeremy...

"Jeremy... have you ever been with a woman?"  (Caddyshack reference)

"Jeremy... tell me more about the showers at your university..."

"Jeremy.... when you're alone do you have dirty thoughts...."

Or those lines that go up and down.... I suggested that when the red (male) line spiked it was because a candidate had said "BOOBIES!!"in a pitch only audible to men.

And of course, if you're a reader, you know we've spent a lot of time screwing with pollsters.

I also do voiceovers with the kids shows.  Bob the Builder is a dirty, dirty boy.

There are the vicious games of Words With Friends and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

We are very disturbed.

But this entertains us.

My husband also likes to scare the crap out of the kids.  He's not small, so when he jumps out of the pantry and freaks out one of the kids, I die laughing.

We also fart in the car and open the opposite window so it sucks across the car.

Told you we were disturbed.

But if in this era where marriages are disposable, I'll do what it takes.

Even if it requires farting.

Binders, Glass Ceilings and Parenting Choices

Now don't get all irked if you're conservative before you even start it?

The second debate I did not watch live.  I was leaving the office (more on that later), turned on CNN (I love XM by the way) and tuned in.

I swear to you- and I could not make this up-- the part that I heard live (we watched it recorded, later that night)- was Romney's answer to the question on women's rights.  I did not hear the original question.  I did not hear Obama's response (more on that later).  I just heard Mr. Romney.

As the hair on the back of my neck started to stand up and I clutched the steering wheel tighter the longer he spoke, I looked up through my sunroof and said "Seriously, God?  This is the part of the debate you want me to hear?"  And then I laughed.  Out loud.  Alone in my car.

Now I told you not to tune out....  so don't...

The irony of the situation and what made it funny was that I was, in fact, rushing to meet my family for dinner.  Any other night, I would have been rushing home to make dinner.  On Tuesdays, I work late and meet them at 6:30.  But had it been any other day, that's where I would have been... in the car, listening to CNN on XM rushing home.

At 5 o'clock.

To make dinner.

Just like Mitt had said.

Which is why I was annoyed.

Oddly, I started a blog about 2 weeks ago and couldn't quite get it right.  It was called "My Self-Imposed Glass Ceiling."  It was about working in a commission driven world and electing to put my family first.  Not in theory, but in practice.  A lot of people say it, few people do it.

I work in financial services.  That's all I can say about it.  I have my own independent practice.  When I first started, in my first year, I was one of the only women in our division.  I was in the top 10 of first year advisors for my entire first year.  I won awards.  I would go to conferences and be one of the few women there.  I joked that it was great- I never had to buy a drink.  Men, at a conference, trip over themselves to buy a 26 year old woman a drink.

One of the reasons I wanted to go into a non-salaried job was I liked the control I had over my own destiny.  It was like when I waitressed-- the harder I worked, the more I made.  Someone else in the same position could make nothing.  I thrive in that environment. It's unlimited.

Anyhow, about 2 weeks ago I was working on my business plan for 2013-  I was forced to accept a realization about my practice-- I could not do it all.  I had to be happy with where I was at and let the conferences go.  I had the Daisy troop now in lieu of trips to Hawaii.  And for the first time in 10 years, I really and truly let it go. For the first time I felt genuinely grateful that I had the opportunity to continue to work in a field that I am passionate about (I love what I do professionally) and not at the expense of my family.  I rarely miss dinners.  When I do, it's a big thing- to me and to my family.  I don't let things slip at the office because I don't take on more than I can handle.  It limits me to some degree, but I am comforted by the fact that I am doing the right thing for me. That's when I started the first blog.

I had had a few jobs before settling into my career.  My first corporate job out of college was for a very large beverage company.  I was put into their exclusive management training program.  The amount of women and minorities that they hired into this program was impressive.  It also was not remotely representative of the applicant pool nor the company.  When I left after 6 weeks, the VP of Diversity asked me why-- they company was really trying hard to promote "out of box thinkers" like me.  I very honestly said "When I look up, I see no one like me looking back down."  He said he understood.  He also said their program was designed to fix that.  So I countered with "But doesn't it bother you that you're the only black guy sitting at the executive table?"  He said of course it did, but he wanted to make a difference (I should also point out that this gentleman was a fantastic leader and extremely patient with a sassy 23 year old).  I said "Well good for you- I don't want to break glass ceilings.  I just want to work somewhere where there's no ceiling to break."

So I moved to Vegas.  Surprisingly, Nevada is a pretty darn good place for women business owners.  I think it's the pioneer spirit.

I stumbled into my largely male dominated field.  I have my own practice.  I spent the early part of my career listening to sports analogies given by men who couldn't throw a ball if they were given professional lessons.  I got called honey.  Sweetie.  But here's the thing-- when you work on commission, it doesn't really matter.  I set my hours.  I set my pace.  I was taking the world by storm.

And then I got married and had kids.

And then I scaled back.  Big time.

I honestly didn't mean to.  What happened was that my mother-in-law retired when I was pregnant and she offered to watch our son while I worked.  Because I didn't want to abuse that, I told her 2 days a week.  You can't find a good nanny for 3 days.  I also couldn't imagine putting a newborn in daycare.  Plus, once I had my son I realized that he slept a lot and I could get a lot done at home while he slept.  In fact, I got MORE done at home than I would have screwing around at the office.  (and eventually my MIL watched the kids 4 days as the market crashed)

So began my hybrid life of being a mom and maintaining my career.

And it was my choice.  And it worked.

And you know where I got the most crap?  Not from my broker-dealer- from the playground mommies.  My favorite lines:  "Oh, you work? I put my family first."  "Your kids really like your husband... that's so kids only want me..." (said in a very judgmental way).

But here's why the hair was standing up on the back of my neck as I listened to Mr. Romney talk about what a great job he did hiring women... and it's not specific to him because I honestly do not think he meant it to be offensive (which sadly is what made it so upsetting).  Just like my first employer thought they were doing me a favor by offering me the opportunity to change the world (I just wanted a job, not a mission), he thought he was doing a favor by expecting less of women- less hours, etc.  We needed to be accommodated as if being female was a disability.  And again, this is not the first time I heard something like this.

While I was leaving to be with my family that night, my business partner who does not have children, works until 8-9 pm every night. She does not need to be accommodated to make sure she's home in time for dinner.  Her husband is a chef.

Our family dinner time is invaluable to us.  FAMILY dinner.  That includes my husband.  He doesn't want to work until 9 pm either. Because if family values are stinking important it should mean the entire family.  Family values do not mean that the mother does everything.  What on earth makes Mr. Romney think that it was okay for all those men, all those years to miss dinner?

But I have to say the whole binder thing really upset me.  How can someone be in business for 30 years and not know any qualified women for positions?  This isn't 1972.  Or even 1985.  It was 10 years ago.  We are half the population.  He wasn't looking for a transgender, Asian, disabled veteran who spoke Swahili.  Women.  We're everywhere.  And if you don't find what he said offensive, insert "African American" ever time he says women.  "You need to have a flexible workforce if you have African Americans" "I had a binder of African Americans" that would have been a HUGE issue.  But as women we just say he misspoke.  AHHHH.

Have we not even come that far?  And by the way, MANY companies and government entities use committees to identify female and minority candidates- so my disgust isn't limited to Mr. Romney.  It was standard disgust at the whole issue. That it is STILL an issue.

And the president-- well, in his administration, women make a little less.  Thanks for the Ledbetter Act.  Sigh.

I have an amazing husband.  And while I may rush home every night to make dinner I come home to a clean house- that's his area.  He picks up the kids every day.  He can't stay late for extra meetings at his school like I can't stay for late night client meetings.

We are a team.  The Bean Team, in fact.  Our family comes first.

And yet this 1952 concept of family perplexes me.

I have many friends- male and female- who stay home with their children.  I have a lot of male friends who are incredibly engaged with their children.  They don't want to work 90 hours a week any more than a woman would.

My husband genuinely misses our kids when he returns to school in the fall- he looks forward to the time he gets with them.  They have their own after school routine.  He is not some guy in a suit who drops in to give them a kiss after they're in bed and then goes back downstairs to eat a reheated dinner in front of SportsCenter.

Because that is not a family.  That is a group of people who live together.

Employers need to accommodate fathers as well as mothers.  In fact, employers need to stop acting like they are doing you a favor by paying you.

As parents, we need to rest assured that we are doing the right thing.  My clients will miss me if I died but my family's life would be changed forever.

The workplace has changed- it changed a long time ago.  Flexibility is important to everyone- not just women.

Women are just as unique as men.  Not every woman is a mom.  Not every man is a workaholic.

Can we please just put these stupid stereotypes to rest once and for all?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Having Fun with Pollsters

If you are fortunate enough like I am to live in a swing state, you get the pleasure of not only watching, non-stop anti-everything commercials telling you how the other guy (and occasional gal) is a crack smoking, cheating, lying thief you also get the pleasure of non-stop phone calls.

There are the automated phone calls.  Really Mitt? You're calling us?  Let me get my butler...  And Mr. President?  Call back after dinner and homework, please.

There are the poor college interns.  "Yes, Mrs. Bean, we noticed that you contributed during the last election...."  Those poor kids get an earful on the Dodd-Frank Act that doesn't allow me to make any contributions over $100, and those $5 ones need approval, too.  ...Yes, that's right...  Yes, I think it's unconstitutional as well, but it is the law...No, I'm not kidding... poor kids.  They are sad that they called.

There are the poll takers.  Now this one, very recently, as of today, has become a fun one.

I started to lie.

I give them the wrong issues.  I give them the candidate that I'm not voting for.

It makes me giggle.  My answers would make the unibomber proud.  I am probably on a watchlist now.  If I wasn't already.

But aren't I messing with the political process?

Nope.  Not at all.

In fact, I am on a personal quest to REALLY mess with them.

PAC (political action committees) typically pay for these polls.

PACs are typically very rich men (and the occasional woman) who call themselves something patriotic and pose as a large group of people. With the recent Supreme Court ruling, this is actually okay.

I think it's bullshit.

I don't think 12 people should be able to buy an election.

So if I screw up their polls, fantastic.  Let them think they are ahead in states when they aren't.  They are screwing with me.  They are pretending to care when in reality, they are pushing their own agendas.

Again, bullshit.

And I also think it's really sad that only a few states actually count in this election.  We went to Utah last month and saw ONE ad.  ONE.  Because if you live in UT, your vote is apparently already decided and you don't need to learn anything else about other candidates.  They have given up.

It's become a gaming strategy.

Shouldn't elections be about informing people about actual facts and data?

So if they won't give me the facts and data (well, without digging), I am protesting by not doing the same.

You mess with me and my family, I mess with you.

I know who I'm voting for.  I have for a long time.  I went to websites. I read the candidates' positions on things.  For local elections, because I am fairly involved in politics, I actually know many of the candidates.  I STRONGLY encourage people to meet the candidates before they vote.  Someone that you think is evil, probably isn't.  Someone that you think is the messiah, probably isn't either.  You can tell sincerity.  You can tell the manchurian candidates.  It's worth the effort.

But in the interim, rather than be annoyed with the calls, we have started jumping at the phone.  My husband was sad that the last pollster didn't get to him- the call disconnected

It's fun when it's a group that we're affiliated with and our answers don't match our demographic- you can hear the paper shuffling in the background.  Telling the DNC that we're voting for Romney or the RNC that we're voting for Obama... awesome.  You get to answer even MORE questions-- and they are leading questions, to... "Would you really vote for a candidate that supports child pornography?"  Seriously?

The fun thing about our family is that we're not easy to pigeon hole.  We are very liberal on certain issues.  We are very conservative on others.  I own a business and work in finance.  My husband is a teacher in a union.  We are gun owners.  We have children.  We have graduate degrees.  We have blue collar backgrounds.  We garden.  We hunt. 

This means we're on EVERYONE'S list.

And depending on whose turn it is to answer, we may be total extremists- on either side of the coin.

And let me tell you, it's been fun.

I encourage all of you to join me in helping manipulate the polls.  Let's force the candidates to tell us the truth and quit making it a game.

It's not a game.  It's not chess.  It's our future.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Douchebags, Dillweeds, and Political Arguments on Facebook

Last night my husband asked me how much someone could gift to another person without incurring a tax.

Considering my profession (I'm a financial planner), I've had this question before.

I also was very surprised that my husband, who is a teacher, asked me this.

I explained the gift tax laws, the pending sunset, to him.  I will not explain it here because that would require 35 attorneys to review it before I published.

So then I asked him the expected question- why was he interested in this odd piece of information?

Apparently, some right wing nut job (if you're Republican, don't tune out yet....) made some comments on a thread in Facebook.  It's someone that my husband went to high school with and hasn't seen or thought of in 20 years.  But Facebook brought them back together.

ANYHOW, this guy posted something that is a very frequent misunderstanding on gifting.  My husband posted what I said.

Then the douchebag wrote "Well, I'm sure you trust your wife, but my wife said something different and I trust her."  His wife is a secretary in a real estate office.  I used to teach Estate & Gift Tax Planning at the college level.

Hmmm.... who would YOU trust?

So now I'm annoyed.  I'm insulted and I'm not even part of the conversation because FINRA has very strict rules about what I can say online.  I think it's a great policy except it then allows the douchebags and dillweeds to continue to spread bad information.  It's like going to a gun fight with a water gun.

So, because I'm not friends with Mr. Douchebag and I am not allowed to say anything related to my profession, I send my husband the IRS link to the gifting and estate tax tables.

The IR freaking S.

Not MSNBC.  Not MoveOn.Org.

The Internal Revenue Services publication that gives examples, lists the rates and even has the actual tax form.

You know, the facts.

And then the guy wrote "Well, I'm still not voting for Hussein."


So here's my issue- I have many friends that are Republicans.  We often have healthy debates on federal vs. state funding, business issues, etc., etc.  Not one of them, when shown the ACTUAL TAX RATES would continue to argue that they "knew" more than the IRS.  Or their wife did.  Because someone told her that at work.

And here's the funny part....

It wasn't a discussion on if gift taxes or estate tax laws are relevant, useful, etc.  IT WAS A DISCUSSION ON WHAT THEY ARE.

Something that is, to be honest, quite easily determined.


And this guy's go to place is that the president has a non-WASPy middle name?  That's his defense for not understanding a very complex system that quite honestly, 99% of people don't?  Nonny, nonny poppyhead.

I don't get it.

What happened to real debate in this country?  On real issues?  Discussions on policies rather than arguing that every piece of data is some liberal or conservative conspiracy to undermine the goodness of America?

My international friends are shocked at how American politics has gotten so, well, quite honestly- stupid.

Whether it's the Bureau of Labor Statistics "fixing" unemployment numbers- you can actually go to the website and they will explain in normal language how it's calculated or arguing tax rates-  easily found on the IRS website- why is time being spent on that crap rather than the bigger issues- what to DO about unemployment and tax rates?

But how can you even have that conversation when the person you are trying to discuss it with won't believe any actual facts. 

I know statistics can easily be manipulated but tax charts and the actual tax law? 

Have we lost our mind so much that we can't even accept facts?

Some other dillweed talked about how GM was still going broke and hadn't paid back any money.... so I put a link to an actual report on it as well as their annual report because, well, it's not even close to true (they've paid back half the money and regained their position as the world's largest automaker).  The argument wasn't if the bail-out was a good idea, the argument was on facts.  GM reorganized.  This information is easily accessible and available.

I'm not even that especially liberal, but clearly, according to many, I have been brainwashed by the liberal media...

You know....

The Bureau of Labor Statistics
General Motors third party accounting annual report

I am stunned.

Am I the only person who actually looks up stuff before I post it?  When did people stop doing research and solely rely on sound bites?

So here's my closing thoughts--

Don't bite when some dillweed starts spewing.  Hide them.  Delete them.  Ignore them.  You can't have a rational argument.

And do some research before you vote.  If your sources are or Cross Roads, get better sources.  Check their footers and read the actual reports.

And if that's too much hassle for you, do me a favor-

Don't vote.

(and as a side note, Mr. Douchebag just now said "Well you should see how Obamacare is going to change it."  Sigh.  I read that one, too.  The Affordable Health Care Act legislation is available online, if you're interested in reading it.  But again, I'm not allowed to comment.  So please, just go ahead and read it for yourself.)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Post Whole 30

I did it.

For 30 days I followed the Whole 30 diet as discussed in "It Starts With Food."  My only cheat, towards the very end- a small piece of cake and a little scoop of ice cream for my son's birthday.

I wish I would have kept better track of the results- I didn't do measurements because I really wasn't a) convinced it would work and b) didn't want to be disappointed when it didn't.

Nice attitude, huh?

If you're a reader, you know how many times I've been down this road before!

I did sorta track my weight.  I didn't jump on the scale until I had started for a few days.  I lost 13 pounds.

I don't know about you, but for me 13 pounds in a month is fantastic.  I'm over 40.  I have the metabolism of a drunken sloth.  I already ate fairly decently.  There was nothing left to cut out.  I already exercised fairly regularly (well, more than most Americans!).

I tracked my calories for the first 21 days- I stopped because I found out what I wanted-- I was eating more calories.  I was exercising for less time.  I lost the most weight I ever have in such a short period of time.

I slept better.  My skin cleared up.  I easily dropped a size. 

So now what?  Well, this past week, I tried a variety of different things, as they recommend back into my diet.

Dairy made me ill.  Specifically ice cream and milk.  I had a little cheese on some potatoes and that seemed fine.  Yogurt also made me sick.  I mean sick, too.  Nauseous.  A little feverish.  It lasted about 2 days.

I tried pasta.  I couldn't eat more than a few bites.  My stomach immediately swelled up like a balloon.  The next day I felt like I had been hit by a truck. Very different reaction from the dairy.   I also had popcorn.  I thought I was okay.  I had it twice this week.  My face is broken out.  So maybe popcorn is okay once a month, but not 2-3 times a week (and here I always thought it as a nice "healthy" snack).  I didn't even try shredded wheat or oatmeal.

I had a cupcake- oddly that seemed fine!

I had an Oreo.  I can not begin to tell you how disgusting it tasted.  An Oreo.  It dissolved in my mouth and suddenly it tasted like I had a mouthful of oil.  I thought maybe it was a "bad" cookie (work with me on this- I've eaten them my whole life).  I tried to eat another- spit it out.

I think that was the most shocking to me-- my tastebuds have changed that much in just 30 days.  The cupcake- which was homemade did not taste that disgusting.  I think my days of processed foods are gone forever.  I was never a big Twinkie fan, so I think I'm okay and will survive!  And if I ever want to try again, I'm sure the thought of that nasty taste- imagine licking the recongealed fat off a roast-- will prevent me from every doing that again!

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

I've had a LOT of questions about this and many friends have started the program and had similar results (please share them below!).  Here are a few of the questions:

Wasn't it hard to cut out so many things?
No.  Not even a little.  The first few days I felt terrible but at no point did I ever feel hungry.  Never.  Not once.  I think because I was eating fat again, I felt full for the first time in a very long time.

How can you live without cheese?
I have been known to say that my life would have no meaning without cheese.  It does.  I think because of the fat, I didn't miss the cheese.  I was getting most of my fat from dairy, so that's what I was afraid of missing and what I craved.  Avocados, bacon, olive oil-- it all filled the void.

Since I've tried to reintroduced dairy and had such a bad, strong reaction, I'm done with it.  Maybe a little feta for flavor on a salad or parmesan on something with marinara-- small amounts of big flavored cheeses for flavor- which is probably how I should have been eating them all along and not as a separate food category!

But bread... you MUST miss bread!
Okay, I have a confession.  I don't like bread.  Some breads, sure- usually if I can cover them in butter or olive oil, but honestly not my thing.  I am not a sandwich fan.  Never have been.  I've always preferred soup or salad over a sandwich.  It just seems heavy to me (probably because it bloated me up?).  I also don't like beer.  Every once in awhile I'll have a nice red wheat beer, but if I'm going to drink, I'd rather have wine or vodka.  Beer makes me belch and pee-- sexy.

So alcohol- you miss that!
Yes. You caught me.  This surprised me more than the Oreo tasting nasty.   I am not a big drinker.  I think it's because the weather is getting nicer and my husband and I like to have a glass of wine on the patio in the evenings.  We had friends over about a week into it and it sucked to sit there and drink tea.  One of my best friends was back from Africa this week, so we shared a little wine.  About halfway through one glass, I was tanked.  I guess the benefit of this-- I'm a cheap drunk now!  I tried a little hard cider last night and I actually felt my heart racing from the sugar.  Of course, I'd had popcorn right before- after managing my sugar for so long, my poor body was freaking out, I'm sure.

I think a drink a week is more than enough.  But it definitely impacts me and I'm aware of it.

What on earth are you eating?
My typical breakfast isn't typical any more.  I usually have eggs- an omelet, fried, scrambled, poached, boiled- you name it. I like eggs.  I have lox quite a bit, too.  The kids love it.  They kids are also liking having eggs from time to time, although I have not converted them (and I am debating this.... ).   Potatoes are okay- this isn't Atkins.  I am trying to lose weight so I don't eat them often.  Today, I went to breakfast with my daughter.  I had 2 poached eggs, ham and hash browns.  I used the hash browns like I would toast.  When I want something carby, I eat potatoes.  They have a lot of recipes for "skillet meals"- healthy hamburger helper stuff.  I will throw an egg on top of it.  Sounds gross, but fills me up easily to lunch.

And speaking of lunch... for lunch, I have salads or leftovers from dinner.  I use balsamic vinegar for my dressing, but I've made homemade mayo (takes 5 minutes) and I can make a nice ranch dip if I want.  I usually put a protein (leftover from the night before, boiled eggs or a nitrate free deli turkey), mixed greens or ice berg lettuce (love it), for a crunch peppers or carrots or celery or cabbage, and I like to add nuts and for sweet I toss on some fruit- apples or pears or dried fruit- even oranges- and then I top it was a few chopped nuts.   Because I'm eating a larger breakfast, I don't need too much at lunch

For dinner, very little has changed.  We have chicken, fish, steak, shrimp- pretty much anything.  I like to cook so this is not a big deal.  We have a side of a veggie and I make homemade applesauce (I'll put my secret recipe below).  Or two veggies.  Or cauliflower rice (I'll put that below as well).  Or a potato if we have some.  Pizzas and pastas are for when babysitters come over or my hubby has to throw together something when I'm working late. 

For dessert, we have a Zoku popmaker (very fun and useful) and I made up my own "drumstick"- coconut milk frozen, topped with chocolate coating (made with coconut oil) and rolled in chopped macadamia nuts.  Yum.

But what do you eat when you go out?
It hasn't been too hard.  The oddest places have the best options.  It's easy to get a meat or fish entree with veggies for a side.  Red Robin, which I love, was nearly impossible to find something that didn't have chips or cheese or something on it.  Same with Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

I still think it's weird.  Don't you think it's weird?
I feel fantastic.  I think continuing to eat food that makes me feel ill is weird.

I really hope my friends who are doing this also comment on how they feel.  It's like someone flipped a switch on.  Trust me, once you get through the first week YOU WILL NOT GO BACK.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  I do not miss feeling bloated and ill.

A few tips that I have:
  • Keep a bowl of boiled eggs (if you like them).  They are an easy to grab food for when you are hungry and they fill you up.
  • Kale chips are great for when you want something crunchy and salty.
  • You're going to have to cook.  Plan it.  Make extra for leftovers.  
  • Nuts are delicious.  Buy them in bulk.  

And the recipes (no specifics):

Crockpot Applesauce (for advanced cooks only--kidding)
Cut up apples (I use one of those divider things).  Leave on the skins.
Throw them in the crockpot.  If you have some fruit that has seen better days (shriveled peaches or strawberries... blueberries that are starting to look like raisins...), throw that in, too to mix it up.  We use pears as well.
Top with cinnamon- about 2 T (I like cinnamon). For fun, throw in some cardamon.
Depending on the apples, add a little water.  If they are soft apples, add about 2 T, if they are crisp apples, add about 1/4 cup.
Put the crockpot on low and come back in a few hours.  Mash down the apples or leave them in slices.
Serve them either hot or cold.

Cauliflower Rice
Grate a head cauliflower into rice size pieces.
Saute half a diced onion in olive oil.
Once the onions are soft, add 2 T or 2 cloves of minced garlic.
Saute until the garlic is soft.
Add the cauliflower pieces.  Saute until the cauliflower is slightly browned.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Kale Chips
Wash and dry a head of kale (either curly or flat leaf will work).
Cut into chip size pieces- smaller is a little better.
Toss with sea salt and about 1/4 cup olive oil (it will seem like a lot).
Bake on foil lined baking sheets at 400 for 20 minutes.  Halfway through, toss/turn the chips.
Store in an airtight container.
(I know you think this is gross, but my kids can't get enough of these.  Oh- and unlike the applesauce which will make your house smell delicious, this will make your house smell like farts).

Have fun.  Give it a try.  It might work for you.  It might not.  It is working for me.