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.





Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why I Have a Blackened Banana and Coffee Beans in My Car-- or Living with a Drug Dog Sense of Smell

I am a freak.

Not in a fun, funky way- perverts.

I have a sense of smell that can only be explained by a prior life as a drug dog.  I'm not kidding, either.  I am the person who will walk by someone in the grocery store and go "Mmmm.... Ivory soap..."  I also have the misfortune of gagging every time I walk past a dumpster near a restaurant.

I have been known to search for hours in our refrigerator playing a game that I have labeled "What's that smell?"  The furry lemon will be found, at all costs.  My husband used to freak out if the milk was past its due date; now he knows to give it to me to sniff.  Regardless of the date- before or after-- I can tell within 6 inches of my nose if it's bad.  Expiration dates are for fools.

When I was pregnant, my sense of smell became more heightened.  For most people, this might not be a big issue.  Sadly, I eat a lot of fish.  Fish does not general have a great smell.  Throw in my bizarre "talent" and I couldn't go near it the entire time I was pregnant.  And we're not talking bad fish-- we're talking fish that no one else could even remotely think had any smell.  It sucked.  I joked that I could sit on the couch and tell you what the ten previous people who sat there had had for lunch last Tuesday.

Which brings me to the interesting situation that I have now.

Yes, there is a blackened banana and a bag of coffee beans in my car.

About 3 weeks ago, through little fault of her own, my beautiful daughter spilled a GIANT cup of chocolate milk with whipped cream on it.  Because I have leather seats to prevent the incidents that frequented my previous car's cloth seats, it all nicely poured down in between the seat in the back of the car.  This is an important detail.

It was her turn for snack day so we decided to get cutie oranges.  To spice them up, we thought it would be fun to draw faces on them.  That morning, while her brother had choir practice before school, we went to Albertson's, bought our cuties and Sharpies and drew faces on them at the Starbucks inside the store.  Samantha the barista even helped.  We were having so much fun that Zoe forgot to drink the chocolate milk that Samantha made for her-- with extra whipped cream.

In a decision that I now regret (and being cheap), I told her to take it to the car and drink it on the way to school.

We were both so excited about her oranges (they were adorable, by the way), that we jumped out of the car at her school.  I didn't realize our fatal error-- she didn't put the milk in the cupholder.  She had it on the seat next to her.  When she grabbed her school bag, it tipped over. I have covered parking at work and it wasn't too terribly hot.

When I went to get the kids after school, we got back in the car and I saw the milk.  I asked her "Was it empty or full when it spilled?"  And she said "It was empty."  I thought, no biggie, I'll wipe it up, it must have just been the cup that smelled.  At this point, it was a slight, lingering funk.

The next morning we all jumped into the car and about died.

I should also note that both Skip and Zoe have inherited my gift- Skip more so.

The car smelled like ass.

It had warmed up.  I then asked Zoe how much milk had REALLY been in the cup...

"Well, I never drank any of it."

12 ounces of curdled milk had now worked their way into the carpet underneath the non-removable back seat.

She said she lied because she didn't want me to get mad.  I told her now I was mad that she had lied.  I also pointed out that I wasn't mad at her yesterday-- I had told her she could take the milk into the car.  She wasn't in trouble for spilling it.  It happens- that's why I don't usually let her do it (and to my credit, I really hadn't gotten mad).  I was now, however, FURIOUS.  I would have gotten the car detailed right then, if I had known.  This is the desert.  It gets warm.  Smells linger.  Thoughts of selling my car entered my mind.  It was THAT bad.

I dropped them off at school (sun roof open, windows down) and tried to figure out a way to get the smell out.  Before we left the house, I doused the car with Febreze.  I went back home and dumped carpet freshener down the crack of the seat, hoping to absorb it.

I called my car guy who I hadn't been using due to our new Bean Family Austerity Measures and he couldn't get there until Saturday.  I had hoped the smell would diminish.  It grew.  By the time he finished he looked like HE was going to puke.

And it still stunk.  Albeit a little less. He suggested dryer sheets in the cracks of the seats.  Excellent.  But then it smelled more like dryer sheets and ass.  Kinda like when people cover up BO with perfume.

Then my son left his shoes in my car.  Their stench seemed to have offset the spoiled milk smell.  But clearly not a better option.

Then I had an idea.... I've left fruit in the car only to come out after work and have my car smell like pie.  I like pie.

So I put the banana in.

Not much of an effect.

Then I added the coffee beans.  When you wine taste or smell perfumes, they give you coffee beans to neutralize and clear your palate.  Must be a reason.

And today, after nearly 3 weeks of rancid car stench,  my car smelled like a breakfast cafe- a mix of bananas and coffee with a hint of creamer.

So yes, that is why, in my car as I type, there is a blackened banana and a bag of coffee beans.  Just in case you were wondering.




Monday, March 26, 2012

My weight loss saga continues...

So about a year ago I wrote a blog about how frustrating being fat has been, how it bothers me, how I'm going to focus on it for the next year.

Then my back went out.  Which was the typical cycle.

Then I had my girls reduced and my back was okay.

Then I joined Weight Watchers.

So what's the status?

Well, the good news is, since I wrote that blog I'm down 23 pounds-- not 70 like I had hoped, but more than 10%.  Not bad.  Still fat, though.

I'm exercising semi-regular.  Not as often as I'd like, but better than nothing.  I was able to get back to tap dancing, which I do for fun, not fitness.  I make it to my Zumba class now about 90% of the time and I usually get in a spin class at least once a week.  We've also been walking a lot more.

Food wise, I realized that WWs was not really going to work for me.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't losing much on it.  When I say I eat fairly healthy, I actually mean it.  The free fruit and vegetable thing didn't really work.  When I started writing down the calories and not the points, I learned I was eating 2100 calories a day-- that's not going to get me to my goals any time soon.  I will still drop into WW, but honestly, listening to people talk about how fast their weight is falling off since they quite eating candy bars, soda, etc, was really making me nuts.  On the positive side having my friends Ellen and Lisa go was great.  They are both really doing well.  It also got me back in the habit of tracking what I was eating and being more conscientious-- all good things.  I also like the accountability of the weigh-in's.  I got some great tips-- for example when I want to eat something that's not good for me, I hear the leader Matt's voice saying "Do you love it?  If you love it, eat it.  If not, don't waste your points on it."  I would just rather pay $12 a month than $50!

So what's the plan going forward?

For now, I decided to take a break from tracking.  It was getting old.  With that, I'm forcing myself to pre-plan my food a little more.  I just want to hold steady until June- let my body adjust a bit.  Stick with what I'm doing.  The good news, I have a much better feeling of what "full" is.  I'm trying to readjust to eating when I'm hungry.  For now.  We'll see how it goes.  If the scale starts creeping up, I'll start tracking again.  I read "If I'm So Smart, Why Can't I Lose Weight?" and the author focuses on retraining yourself to eat correctly, rather than focus on a "diet."  We'll see. 

In June, I'm signing up for CrossFit for the summer (for 2 months).  I can go early in the morning, which has always been my best time to work out.    I like the structure and the varied workouts.  I like the free form aspect of it.  I'll still do my other stuff-- this will hopefully get things going again.  Then we'll see how Shane's schedule works in the fall- if he has an early bird class to teach, I'll need to come up with something else- and that includes a 4 am wake up to go to the gym.  Oh well.  If that's what it takes, that what it takes.

In summary, what I've learned over the last year is that I already eat fairly healthy most of the time, I late night snack, and the only time the scale moves down for me is when I exercise 4-5 times a week- watching what I eat isn't going to have much impact at all.

I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.  I'll make changes as I need.  And hopefully by this time next year, I'll be down another 23 pounds- or maybe more.  If it takes 3 years, to get it all off, then it will take 3 years. 

I'm not giving up- and that's what's important to me.  I'm not dieting.  I'm developing a healthy lifestyle that for the next few years is going to focus on getting in shape.  Then, it will focus on staying in shape.  I'm looking forward to a healthy & fit next 60 years!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Science Fair Projects and Leprechaun Traps

I am a horrible mother.

I am one of those moms who think that if my child is assigned a project, he or she should probably be the person who completes the projects.

Crazy, isn't it?

My thought process behind this is the following:
1) I have already graduated school.
2) There is probably a reason they are given the assignment.

Oh yeah, and I have nasty memories of B and C students winning the science fair each year with projects they CLEARLY did not do.  So I harbor a little anger about that.  I also throw in girl scouts, boy scouts (yes, I was an actual boy scout) and 4-H as other areas that I would shake my head and think "There is no freaking way he did that..."  In fact, in 6th grade, I went around and asked kids questions about their projects-- questions that were on their tri-fold boards- and snarkily prided myself on the fact that they had no clue what the basic science concepts were that they had so wonderfully depicted for their projects.

Amazing I wasn't more popular...

Anyhow, so the time has come for my children to be given these tasks.  Last week were the leprechaun traps and this week are the science fair projects.

My daughter is in kindergarten.  She has difficulty finishing a meal, let alone designing and making a trap to catch imaginary creatures.  I appreciate the project- it's a fun task for us to do together.  I actually asked my son, Skip, to help her.  He's a future engineer and loves this sort of thing.  They also have been fighting like cats and dogs and I thought it was a great opportunity for them to work together.  I also was very tired from work and not feeling particularly creative.

So they did it. I helped very little.  It was cute. It is also looked like they had done it.

The traps that showed up, however, clearly were nice parent projects.  Not all, but most.  I think the kids may have signed their names  They were elaborate and fancy. They were not done by 6 year olds.  My daughter noticed.  I told her to be very proud-- she did hers all by herself.  She didn't look too particularly proud.  She looked annoyed that I hadn't stayed up until midnight designing the ultimate trap.

Oh well.

Then it's science fair.  Neither Skip or Zoe have to do a project.  It's optional until 4th or 5th grade.  They like science.  It seems like a good exercise.  And as my son, who did a fantastic 6 week project comparing tap water versus Brita filtered water to grow a bean plant (surprisingly, the tap water grew a much better plant) learned last year, I absolutely, positively will not "do" the display board.  I will help.  I will offer typing and spell check.  I will not do it.  And if I say "Mommy has to go out of town so we have to have it done by Friday" I mean we have to have it done by Friday.  After all his hard work, he did not turn in a display board.  There were tears.  Especially when we still went to Science Night and he didn't get a ribbon.

Oh well.

This year, he got it done.  A little later than I would have liked, but part of that was my fault this year.  And yes, I had to stay on them both to finish.  Well, actually not my daughter.  Her board looks AMAZING.  No kidding.  Better than anything I could have dreamed up.  Give her a blank palette and she creates art.  I don't know if she really understands why the white flowers turned colors after putting them in colored water, but she's at least got a general idea that the stem works like a straw.  My son put Mentos into soda.  Warm soda does explode more than cold soda.  We think.  We really didn't have a good way to measure.  But that was part of the process.

So the boards are done.  They learned a little something.  I helped a little bit.  But it is theirs.

And when they take them to school there will probably be some that are fantastic and done by parents- although I have to say, my daughter's really blew me away-- but hopefully my kids will have the confidence that they can complete a project. 

I've always wondered what happened to the kids whose parents did their projects.  Some I know washed out before high school.  Some bailed in college.  Some are completely fine.  But I wonder if the ones who barely got through high school might have been better off if they had learned, as my son did last year, that there are consequences for not doing your work?   Did their parents help actually undermine their confidence by making them think that their work wasn't good enough?  Did the kids appreciate the parents help? 

And even sadder- half the kids will have crap because their parents didn't care at all.  Or didn't read the newsletters and even know there was a project.

It seems like a fine line- overparenting, underparenting-- it's a crap shoot in some ways.

Every day I feel like I'm walking a fine line- too strict- too lenient- too hovering- too disconnected. 

But I will never do my kids' homework.  I may be the meanest mom in the world, but I'm okay with that.

And some day I hope they appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Motherhood, Money and Corporate America

I am really lucky.  I am self-employed.  Depending on the day of the week, I either love it or hate it.  I am also part of a very large corporation.  Without going into too many details, because I don't want to violate any rules, I own a financial planning practice with a large broker/dealer.  It's a little like owning a McDonald's franchise- I can customize many things, but I have a familiar logo on my door and a turn key system available to me to "plug" into.  Some days, it feels more like giant handcuffs, but in general, it's usually the best of both worlds- a big back office to depend on with resources, but my own office with my own staff, marketing, etc, etc.

I am not a corporate type.  I tried.  Very diligently.  I am the quintessential out-of-box person.  I am task oriented, not time oriented.  If you're stuck in a space craft and need to get a square peg into a round hole, you want me on your team.  If my desk is in a cubicle and you expect me to be there 12 hours a day where 8 are spent in meetings and I have to wear a suit, you do not want me on your team.  I will implode.

The side benefit of my career choice is that I have an amazing amount of flexibility.  When I was single, that meant I worked a lot.  That's the downside of being passionate about what you do.  If you're a regular reader, you know that marriage and kids were not exactly on the radar for me.  So when I did get married and then we had kids, the flexibility really came in handy.

It also cost me a lot of money.

I had to scale back.

I went down to being in the office for only 2 days for 2 1/2 years out of 5.  To make sure I could service my existing client base, I sold off nearly half my practice. In between kids, I added a third day, and then when the market tanked, I was there 4 days.  My clients were amazing.  I'm sure I lost a few clients because of my decision to put my family first, but since I work with many older clients they cheered my choice.

I had one client, a businessman who toiled away at his company for 40 years, had a few marriages in the interim, some kids he rarely saw,  pull me aside at a dinner party at his house (I had brought my then 2 year old son who he adored) and he told me something I will never forget:

"Don't ever question your decision to pull back.  You are doing it right, kiddo.  I wish that I had."  Then he hugged me.

My vice president at the time said the reason he didn't bother me was because I didn't miss a step-- my practice actually grew even though I was in the office less hours.  It didn't grow at the pace it could have, but I kept up.  I was-- ick- average.

I did, however, fall off the fast track.  I was used to making the top lists for various things.  For winning contests and awards.  I wasn't the golden girl any more.

I am competitive.  Part of me hates this- I'd be lying if I didn't say that.

However, my client was absolutely right.  My kids are fantastic.  We have a lot of fun as a family.  When I miss dinner, it makes me nuts.  As I tell my colleague with whom I share office space- if I'm not at dinner, I am missed.

But the past 2 days I've been stuck in training classes.  They were on compliance and ways to improve my practice.  They were taught by men, of course.  It's my industry.  I'm used to it.  They all looked exhausted.  They talked about how their kids have commented on their absences.  One of the gentlemen, I know hates it, but he smiled through it.  Another gentleman makes a lot of money.  A lot more than I do.  And he works a lot more. A lot more.

And I sat there and looked at them and it reaffirmed that I am doing the right thing.

I will never, ever get this time back.  My kids will be in high school, have little time or energy for me and I'll still have 15 more years in my career to "drive it home" so to speak.  But now, it can wait.

My ego is the only thing that makes me want to "beat the boys" but at the end of the day, I'm not going to sacrifice my Friday afternoons at the kids' school.  I am a rock star there.  The Rotary club meetings, fancy dinners, black tie affairs to schmooze, etc. etc, will all have to wait.  My early mornings, evenings and weekends are for my family.  Don't get me wrong, there are definitely times when I do have to choose work- but it is always a rarity and not the norm.  Most importantly, my family understands.

I have never had a client get upset when I've had to cancel because it's science fair night or my child's sick.  I am very, very lucky for that.  I used to be scared to bring it up-- that I would get labeled a "mommy."  I was wrong.  They have gladly worked with me.  But again, I work with people a little bit older, a little bit wiser about life than me.  They know that at the end of the day, when you retire, it's your family and a few good friends that are there for you.  A few colleagues will stay in touch, but at the end someone else will sit in your desk, do your job- life goes on.  My children will never have another mother.  If I died tomorrow my clients would miss me, they might even come to the funeral, but my family would be devastated, despite being well taken care of.

Every smile, every bed time story, every giggle, every hug has been worth every penny I haven't made.

Today I felt especially fortunate that I am in a career where I can make these choices.  And I felt even more fortunate about the choices I have made.

Monday, March 12, 2012

My Online Persona

My husband is constantly giving me crap about how when I post things on Facebook, 400 people respond.  He will tease me and say "You could post that you took a dump and 50 people would like it, comment on it and repost it in 5 minutes."

I am very popular online.

I am not so popular in real life.

Don't get me wrong- I do have a lot of smart, wonderful friends.  My family is quite honestly, fantastic.

But me?

Not terribly cool.

My blog is the bubble over my head that I don't always share.  I am not uber successful.  I have a great practice that I love, but no one is calling me from CNBC for market commentaries. There are far more unattractive pictures of me, than attractive ones (and even fewer that make it to Facebook).  While I live in possibly the coolest city in the world (as told to me by a co-worker in our India office), I don't gamble, drink much or hang with celebrities on the Strip.  My husband and I argue far more often than the idyllic marriage that I portray.  I'm not big into posting negative things, but again, thank you to those of you who do-- it's like watching a car accident.  I will say, I AM passionate about social issues, whether it be parenting, gay marriage, pet rescue, or my lady parts.  If you're picking that up, that's pretty accurate.  And my kids truly are insanely fun.

But the rest of it-- well I'm probably a lot cooler online than in person.

I get to edit who I am online.  You only see what I let you see.  Right now I'm in dog hair covered black exercise pants, a stained Cornell t-shirt that is 10 years old and my toenails are at half-mast-- they either need repainted or the paint needs to come off.  I have been picking at a zit on my chin and trying to see if that laser hair removal I've been having done is actually working on my 'stache (seems to be...).  My house smells like dog pee, too.  That is the downside of having my awesome older dog who never gives up.  Or makes it to the door.

Is that a whole lotta sexy and cool or what?

We spent the majority of the evening watching some stupid game warden show, laughing at the younger dog who was chasing a giant moth through the house then in the yard, and ended it with playing "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" on FB. We went on a family walk/bike ride/dog walk earlier in the evening where the dog who was completely trained when we adopted her, drug me around and I had to cede power to my husband, my daughter kept tipping over on her bike with training wheels every time we went over a driveway and my poor son felt like Marian of "The Munsters" for most of the circus that we were.

This was all after a dinner where I had to explain to my son that no, we are not broke, we are just trying to be more frugal.  I refer to it as The Bean Family Greek Austerity Measures.  We are trying to limit our spending- the random dining out, for one.  He is now convinced that we have no money and he needs to get a job.  At 9.  I appreciate his willingness to chip in, but I am curious as to what he tells people.  And the conversation started because he kept suggesting that we order a pizza rather than make our own.  After saying no, we have stuff here to make one (plus it's fun), I finally snapped and said "IT'S CHEAPER!"  So now he's concerned.  I should also point out that since I work with money for a living, I probably say more things in front of him than I should.  Job hazard.  I wonder if doctors' kids are hypochondriacs?

I'm an okay mom.  I yell.  I'm sarcastic.  I've left a screaming kid in the garage as I back down the driveway because when I said we're leaving, I meant NOW (don't worry, I go back and get them.) I'd be lying if I said I didn't rip through a tangle or two of my daughter's hair because I JUST CAN'T TAKE IT- she seriously cries more when I brush her hair than when she broke her leg.

I am, however, fairly funny- at least to me and isn't that what matters?  Funny things do always seem to happen to me as if I'm living in a "Candid Camera" documentary film.  I don't always verbalize my commentary in the moment, but the bubble over my head has some pretty great stuff in it.  This is what I usually share online to my "friends." To put it in perspective, I was the kid in high school who everyone thought was nice, but said things under my breath that usually only my best friends heard or the teachers understood and laughed at.  My husband now benefits from most of my humor.  I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make him laugh- and he tries very hard not to. It's our thing.  Between watching game warden shows and cheering on the dog in her moth pursuit, that is.

I always get comments on FB or my blog about how much people love my commentaries.  It makes me smile.  And maybe that makes me a loser.  I'm certainly not making crap up to be cool online- but I do edit.  Oh, I really do tap dance, too.  And the theme parties are real as well. 

But if you come to Vegas and expect Super Cool Mama Bean, well, you're going to be disappointed.  Like now.  It's 10:50.  I need to get to bed.

Wild, crazy life I lead.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A New Mini-Series for my blog "Stupid Things I've Done"

I decided to add a new aspect to my blog- short stories about stupid things I've done.  I don't mean about drinking too much and having photos taken, but just silly, little mamabeanisms that make me crack up.  My main reason for doing this is because many mamabeanisms still bring me to tears laughing... and Papa Bean, too.

This came to me at dinner tonight when we shared a slightly inappropriate story with my 9 year old son.

My husband is a teacher with the Clark County School District.  When the kids were young, I worked from home 2-3 days a week, and met with clients on the other days at my office (so yes, I have a REAL job... read my first blog and you'll know what this means).

My husband usually called me once a day.  We have caller ID.  I answered the phone like this:

"Hello, Clark.  You can't keep calling me at this number.  My husband is going to find out."

And it CRACKED us up.  Because we are, if you haven't figured it, complete dorks.

I did this in a very smoky, sexy, asthmatic voice.  A wheezy Demi Moore meets Kathleen Turner.

Sometimes we would continue being obnoxious.

And we have caller ID, so it's safe, right?

Well, flash ahead 5 years.  I had registered my son for kindergarten in the spring.  He was signed up for full day kindergarten, but there weren't enough kids, so it was pending until they had enough students.

You see where this is going??

Anyhow, it's the spring, about a month after the kindergarten round-up.

The phone rings.

The caller ID says Clark County Schools.

I answer:

"Hello, lover...." in my sultry voice.

There is a pause.

No "Are you naked?" response.

Instead:
"Um, hello?  Is this the Bean residence?  This is Sally from YadaYada Elementary...." pause.

(*&(&(*#&@$!!!!

My son's new school.

I laughed... and I explained "I'm sorry-- I thought you were my husband.... he is a teacher... wow... this is embarassing...."

Fortunately, once I explained, she laughed her head off.  She was calling to let me know the full day kindergarten was a go.

I was borderline mortified.  But these things ALWAYS happen to me.  I get away with NOTHING.

So, honestly, I thought it was pretty stinking hilarious, too.

I always wonder if she remembers that I was the porn voiced mom when I'm in the office.  She hasn't said anything yet.  It's been 4 1/2 years.  I assume she's forgotten.

That, or she tells everyone about what a sex perv I am.

And this is my life.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Fired

If you're a client, don't panic.

I was fired from something much bigger.

I was fired from tuck-ins.

For 9 1/2 years, I have been the primary bed tucker inner.  It's our time to read, talk, catch up.  It's my favorite time of day.

And this week I got fired.

It started innocently enough.  I thought it might be fun to do a double tuck- both my hubby and I tucking the kids in.

Well, guess who pulled out the Super Dad bag of tricks?  The next thing I know there was a dog pile on my daughter's bed-- Shane, Zoe, Skip, Dixie the dog and I was the one yelling:

"Guys, guys, calm down.... someone is going to get hurt... hey, calm down, IT'S BED TIME!!"

Me.

I was the grown up.

What?!?!

I'm the one who taught the kids to hang spoons from their noses.

Not him.

I was also the one who got stuck calming the little buggers down so they could go to sleep.  And I got to deal with them in the morning when they were tired.

So when the next night Papa Bean was requested, I tried to stop it. 

Guess what?  He loves to tuck them in.

MY children.

I mean, technically, they are his, too, but HEY- it's my job to snuggle with them.

Three days later, I'm still benched.

Dad is suddenly the fun one.

That is jacked up.

We're not divorced.  We're not competing for affection. And the reason we're not competing is because they are supposed to like ME MORE!  I'M THE COOL, FUN ONE!
 
Or at least I used to be.

Well, I'm not always the cool one.  I do the morning routine- I make sure the homework is done, the beds are made, teeth brushed, hair in place-- the boring mom stuff.  But bed times were different.  That's when I got to be fun. And now, I've been replaced by Cool Daddy Bean.  Whatever.

For now, however, I will sit on the sideline and be the mature one.  The one who points out that all of them jumping on the bed is a very bad idea. 

And it sucks.