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.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ten Things I Love About my Daughter on her 10th Birthday

Tomorrow my daughter turns 10.

TEN.  Double digits.  The big time.  Official tweenager.

I thought about writing a 10 Pieces of Advice blog.  But here's the thing- my daughter is fine.  I mean that.  Completely fine.

Is she a bit of a slob?

Well, yes.

Does she lose stuff?

See the comment above.

But the core of who she is, is possibly one of the best people I know.  She was defined the moment she was born.  I even knew she was left handed- ask my husband.  Everyone thought I was nuts "Babies don't demonstrate a dominant side until at least age 2."

Guess what? She's a leftie.

So here's my top 10 list on my daughter.

1) She is happy.
When she was 4, I was having a bad day.  I looked at her and she was smiling and dancing.  I asked "What makes you so happy?"

She put her hand on her hip and with a smile she said "Me.  I make me happy."

I shared that with her on Friday and she said "That makes me sound immodest.... that's not good."  I explained that it was brilliant because she was right- we are all responsible for our own happiness.  "Well of course."  See.  Brilliant.  My buddha.

2) She is creative.
For her party, people have been asking me what she wants.  I said tape.  Paper.  Markers.  Anything to create.  And I'm not talking drawing.  I'm talking multi dimensional artwork.  It's crazy.  Her perspective on things continually surprises me. 

I don't think she's every played with a toy the "right" way.  They've always seemed to bore her.

She's an abstract thinker.

3) She is funny.

And I mean really funny.  When she was a baby I tried to explain to my parents over the fun that I was pretty sure she had a good sense of humor.  They thought I was nuts.  Then they met her and completely understood.

She would make funny faces in the mirror in her crib and crack herself up. 

Her comic timing is perfect.  She knows how to work a dramatic pause and mug for the audience.

I love it.

4) She is a reader.

I really like that she reads what she likes to read.  She likes to read fiction about fairy tales and silly girls and nothing overly serious.

We are just starting to read books together. "The BFG"- or Big Friendly Giant she loved.  She was so happy when I told her I thought it was hilarious as well.

5) She can read people extremely well.

Neither of my children suffer fools.  Her gut instincts are exceptional.  She knows the mean girls and the bully boys.  She doesn't even bother.  She's polite to everyone but to get to be her friend is a big deal. 

She has a few friends that still have temper tantrums.  She very politely has asked me about spending less time with them.  She felt that she had enough friends that don't act that way.  She was tired of tip toeing around them.  I told her I respected that and we would keep that in mind.

6) She still snuggles.

She was not a snuggly baby.  She was constantly on the go and wanted to play with her brother.  But now--- she is my snuggle bunny. 

7) She is tenacious.

About two years ago, she decided she wanted to play soccer.  We were stunned.  When she had played at 4, she didn't really like it.  It seemed random.

She was terrible.  Really bad.  And she knew it.  But she stuck with it.  She liked the camaraderie of being on a team.

This past season she focused on being a goalie and really was quite good.  In fact, one of the best players on the team commented that "I love watching her play goalie- she's great!" which almost made me cry.

8) She has a beautiful voice

She has a beautiful, rich, alto voice.  She actually sang before she spoke.  She could mimic sounds as a baby and it would sound like she was speaking. 

She doesn't think she can sing, but when no one is around, she can belt out some tunes.

9) She's smarter than you think.

Because she's a little disorganized, she might come across as ditzy.  She's not.  She's not academically competitive but trust me- the kid puts things together better than anyone I know.  She may not regurgitate data as well, but she can find patterns quickly and draw conclusions.  I love how her mind works.

10)  She's fun.

She's a blast to be around.  Her happy go lucky demeanor makes her fun to be around.  She finds beauty in so many things and is always looking for the best in people. 

She is one of the best people I know and I adore her.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

While You Were Stressing Out...

So while you were stressing out about the holidays or the debates, I left work at 5 pm (MIRACLE), made it to my daughter's performance at Barnes & Noble and the following things happened...

We couldn't see a thing because it was on a tiny stage surrounded by books and parents with technology devices.  However we coined a new phrase:

IPad Jumbotron

For when you can't see, but some tall guy in front of you has an IPad up in the air so you can watch that.


My son had the words condemn and commend confused and realized it at some point during dinner.  He couldn't tell if he had done something right or wrong and he wanted to clarify.  This was almost as funny as when he screwed up the word condiment with condom in 5th grade.  Okay, it wasn't THAT funny- because that was hilarious.

We came up with another new word:

Butt Toast

When you fart and the seat heater in the car is on and it cooks your fart.

Which is not to be confused with Fart Roaster- that is when you fart on a hot summer day in the car, shut the door, and get in the car an hour later to find that your essence has increased its power.

We played some Star Wars Heads Up while we waited for our food at dinner and might I say, my daughter is an official Star Wars geek.  She beat all of us. Proud moment.

I know that tonight I did not change the world.  We had inappropriate conversations.  We did have a nice conversation on communism vs. socialism vs. capitalism vs. social Darwinism and why I work for myself and my husband prefers a steady paycheck and how we're sorta kinda conservative in our lives but sorta kinda liberal in our beliefs.  And my son asked amazing questions and I think we did a good job answering them.

In general, we did nothing more than laugh with some friends at the concert, laugh with each other, talk about farts and Star Wars, make up some new words and to quote my daughter "This is the best dinner ever."  Not because of the food (I asked) but because of the conversation.

So there was that.

And that's kinda sorta awesome.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

MAD Magazine and Trying to Connect

My awesomely wonderful son Skip turned 13 recently. 

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging as much is because I truly feel that as my kids get older, their life is their life.  Trust me- puberty is HILARIOUS- however, I think it's also private.

With that said, however, I have to say that as most parents, I thought once those teen years hit, MY child would be different.

You can stop laughing now.

I get one hug a week that was negotiated.  I threatened to yell "I LOVE YOU, SCHMOOPIE" out the window when I dropped him off at school.  In exchange for NOT doing this, I get a hug.  A week. One.

From the little boy who once said how he would always love me and hold my hand.


I sorta kinda became dumb overnight.  But not really.  He even fessed up to this "It's frustrating- you're actually smart and funny.  You're making it difficult to not like you."

Yes. I. Am.

He even gave me credit about my negotiations on the hug. And holds me to the one a week.

I've apparently become magnetic- in that I repel him if I get too close.

I call it Parental Polarity.

My husband seems to be unscathed from this.  He also works with teenagers so he thinks my frustration is hilarious.

My son and I used to talk about EVERYTHING.  We never had a typical mother-son relationship.  It was more of a peer to peer situation.  He's pretty level headed so after about 2, I started asking his opinion on things.  I had never been a mom before so it only seemed logical that we approach it as a team project.  He would give me honest feedback and vice versa. 

It's worked.

And it still is.

He's a good student.  He's generally polite. 

I'm not worried.

And our "together" time comes in bursts that is often, unfortunately, right before I have to pee.  So the deep thoughts are sometimes interrupted by my fear of my bladder bursting.

I also force him to go to breakfast with me one day on the weekend.  He used to love it.  Now I say things like "I birthed your giant head.  We're getting pancakes."

As much as he complains, he likes it to some extent.

But I feel like I am perpetually looking for that connection.

My daughter's Girl Scout Troop sold magazines this fall.  So I ordered some and I got him a subscription to MAD Magazine.

I LOVED MAD Magazine as a kid.  LOVED it.  My sarcasm grew from its pages.

The first issue arrived and I made the mistake of telling him how much I loved it.

So it sat on the counter for a few days.

Because how cool could it possibly be if Mom liked it?

Well tonight, he was in his room and was a little late to dinner.  My husband asked if he was playing XBox. 

Nope.  He was reading MAD.

Because apparently it is pretty hilarious and he didn't hear us call that it was dinner time.

And suddenly, I got a few points for being cool.

Very few.  But I'll take them.

Tomorrow when I'm helping with the jazz band he will ignore me and avoid eye contact even though "The other kids really like you... they think you're cool... they don't know you...."

But I'll have the very brief moment where I know that I was cool again in his eyes.

And maybe someday when I'm old, he'll even hold my hand again.

(This blog was approved by Skip)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Watching HGTV with my Daughter

Like most American women I love watching HGTV.  It started 2 years ago when I stumbled upon "Love it or List it" when my husband and I were debating whether we should, in fact, love our house and do some improvements or list it and move on.  We moved on.

So then it became about watching shows for decorating ideas.

And, since my husband prefers watching shows that occur in Alaska or involve people wearing flannel, he would often groan when I would turn it on (although he did like "Love it or List it" as well). 

My daughter, however, has recently decided that she LOVES the channel.  "Property Brothers, " "Fixer Upper" and "Love it or List it" are her faves.

This has made ME love it even more because nothing is funnier than listening to my daughter comment on the programs.

If you're not familiar with "Property Brothers" it's two twin brothers where one poses as a contractor and the other poses as a realtor.  I would say they are these things but I have my doubts....  ANYHOW, the find a couple with unrealistic expectations, show them the perfect house which is ridiculously out of their price range, then take them to fixer uppers, chose one and then spend the last half of the show remodeling it. 

It's her very favorite.

After watching them show the unsuspecting couple the overpriced house:  "Well that's just mean...." then adding "If they don't want to do a reno why are they on the show?  Haven't they seen it before?"  Because EVERY time the people respond the same way.  As if they are shocked the first house will be overpriced and they have to remodel.  That's the point of the show.  Don't looked so surprised folks.  She's now taken to saying "DON'T FALL FOR IT!!"

"What's the big deal with open concept?  All they do is knock down a wall and put in an island... every time. "  Yep.

"Why do they only fix the kitchen?  What about the rest of the house?"

On "Fixer Upper:"

"Does everyone want French Country?  What is that anyway?"

"All the houses look like hers...."

"Why does everyone get white cabinets?  And what's with the open concept?"

"All these houses end up looking the same...."

On "Love it or List it"

"Here we go.... here's the disaster...."  At the 30 minute mark something awful will happen and we always try to guess... plumbing?  electrical?  foundation?  Either way, that closet expansion or master bath reno has to go.....

"The other realtor (the Toronto show) is mean.  I like this guy (Vancouver dude) better.  Why does he have to be so mean?"

"I bet they tear down a wall and add an island...."

"Maybe if they cleaned up, they wouldn't need a bigger house...."  you should see her room, by the way.... she could learn from herself.

"They are totally gonna list it... that other house was great.. WHAT?  They are staying??"

But my favorite was Saturday night when she looked at me and said "You know, if I had an unlimited amount of money, I could make this place look nice...."

Me, too.  Welcome to reality. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Things that I missed and the World missed since I'm not on Facebook

It would certainly be easier if EVERYONE quit Facebook (no offense to Mark Zuckerman).  It seems as if everything I'm involved with organizes via Facebook, so I've been obligated to pop on about twice a week to see if I'm missing anything. 

But first, let me share what I would have posted and what you've missed:

On the way to school my daughter informed me that she doesn't like choir.  Apparently, all they do is sing.

Alas, Fall has arrived.  Could not be happier.

My husband and I just had an entire conversation about which one of us was taking our son to lacrosse.  We both showed up in the living room at the same time in our pajamas while our son was in the car waiting.  Oops.  #marriagemiscommunication

My daughter decided that her award winning Minecraft costume was not the most practical.  Two hours in a box, while worth a trophy, was not worth obstructing her candy gathering.

Parents who don't volunteer and step up need to shut up.  Thank you.

My son is finding it annoying that he likes me.  He even told me.  "I've got nothing to complain about."  I offered to give him something to complain about....

Who let the dogs out?  Me.  Thank goodness my husband saw them down the street.  HOLY CRAP.

Our Girl Scout troop seriously rocks.  What a fun group of girls.  I'm loving it.

I really, really, really would like to finish our backyard.  I totally understand how the emperor of China felt when building the Wall.  It's exactly the same.


My son makes middle school look easy.  How is that possible?

My daughter's teacher is making her work her tail off.  I love it.  She will never get a B in English for the rest of her life because of Ms. Lee.

My husband's new job means he's home in the morning a little longer.  It's weird.  Really weird.  I hope he realizes it took 13 years of training the kids to make it look so smooth in the morning.

I had horrible gas last night on the way home from work.  When we got in the car this morning my daughter commented that the garbage really stunk.  No sweetie.... it's not the garbage...

So that's what YOU missed.

This is what I apparently missed as I scrolled through....

Starbucks coffee cups are red and green and this is offensive for some reason.  My response would be: "I didn't see the cups.  All the boxes of food they had collected for the Las Vegas Mission were blocking them."

Thrice married Donald Trump finds the cups offensive to Christians.  My response: "Donald Trump is a Christian?  I thought he was his own demi-god...."

Caitlyn Jenner was Glamour's Woman of the Year.  "And...."

Blake Shelton & Gwen Stefani are a thing.  "Okay."

The Sex Ed debate will never end in our school district because people think gay people don't exist and teens don't have sex.  "Wow.  People are really, really, really stupid."

So as I scrolled through, aside from my friend Lisa's vacation pictures and my friend Mike's hilarious memes, I hadn't missed much.  Much at all.

A lot of anger over silly things.  A lot of stories about people I don't know or care about.

And it fits in perfectly with my desire to live a smaller life.  Live in my little bubble for awhile.   Where my husband and I are constantly tripping on each other, the kids are funny and my life is good.

You are welcome to join me here to share that.

But the rest of the stuff... it's yours. 

I'm out.

And happy.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

If a Tree Falls in a Forest, Does it Happen if I Don't Post it on Facebook?

Day 2 of life sans Facebook.

I'm holding strong.

I had the shakes a bit, but I'm doing well.

Actually, to be honest, I'm doing really well.

As in I'm wondering why I didn't pull the plug a bit earlier.

I do feel that I have a lot to share.  Today I took a very cool picture of the mountains in the rain.  My daughter had a decent soccer game even though they got their butts kicked.

I saw some funny things.

Yet, alas, when I would reach for my phone I would remember that the world was suddenly smaller.

So if these events are undocumented, did they actually happen?  Are they all in my mind?

One of my favorite features of Facebook has been when they randomly post something from the past.  It's nice.  My kids have grown SOOOO much.  As have I, sadly not in a good way.

But if I'm not posting, will I remember?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say I will remember most things. Not everything.  But it will force me to print more pictures.

Because here's the funny thing, after only 2 days, I feel a bit more connected to my family.  It's awkward.  Uncomfortable even, but we will adjust and adapt.

I've actually been a lot calmer, too. 

I haven't gotten in a pissing match with someone I don't know at all today.  No one has insisted that everyone needs a machine gun to survive.  No one has called me a capitalist pig.

In fact, my life consisted of a fun soccer game, some errands, dinner with my family- honestly, it was all good.

Really good.

My stress level after only a few days was markedly better.

I think it will be interesting to see the people with whom I actually do stay in touch.  I have some friends I've picked up via Facebook that I'm pretty sure we are reconnected for good.  I also have some friends that I used to see and speak with regularly in the real world that became Facebook friends.  They didn't feel the need to stay in touch since I posted so frequently.  What they didn't realize is that I rarely posted negative stuff on Facebook so they truly have had no idea how I've been the last few years. And I didn't do that to post a fake view of my life, just most of the negative things that were happening in my life were personal, involved others and were private and not needing to be shared.  My random "My head is going to explode posts" usually were limited to interactions with strangers that occurred unfortunately following something real that had happened.  So while it seemed that I shared a lot, I didn't share the real stuff.  And oddly some very good friends became acquaintances.

Weird, huh?

But the general sense of peace has been significant. 

And I honestly wasn't addicted- I'm happy to have quit.  I'm not sneaking back on or checking my husband's updates.  I thought it was fun while it lasted, but like I was with relationships in my 20s, once it was over, it was over.

I truly was impressed with the response I received on it.  When I tried to quit a few years ago because I was tired of stupid people, my friends begged me to stay.  I even got a mug from my friend Gwen that said "The Erma Bombeck of Facebook."  It obligated me to stay (I had told her if she did it, I would stay).

This time, I think my reasons- largely security of my family- were valid.  People understood.  I don't live in the safest place.  I love Las Vegas, but it has an unusual amount of creepy people.  All large cities do, but we tend to attract an unsavory bunch.  I live far enough away from the "ick" but these days, who really knows?

But the messages I received this time actually made me cry.  I had mentioned that I was pretty sure my silly posts had created some positive energy for people. I truly had no idea.  I'm not going to share because they were privately sent but they meant the world to me.

So my message today is this:

Smile at people.  When you see a stranger tell them you like their outfit.  Or their hair.  Or their smile.  Or that their children are nice.

Interact with people.  Real or cyber world.

Reach out.

Radiate positive energy.

It IS contagious.

I truly had no clue how massive the outpouring of love and well wishes would be. 

It was like attending my own funeral in some ways.

And it was nice to see a packed house full of kindness.

It inspired me to take that energy and redirect it to the "real" world. 

Not through rallies or political movements. 

Just being nice. 

Because apparently it DID mean something.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Departing Facebook and Tying Up Some Loose Ends

So I decide to leave Facebook for realsies this time.

It wasn't because I was offended. I've become masterful at blocking content.

In fact, Facebook had a lot of great perks.  I graduated from college right before the internet took off.  I had one friend with an email.  Facebook allowed me to get back in touch with some amazing people that I adored.

I also think I was a positive influence on people.  And I say that not arrogantly, but honestly.  People have sent me messages thanking me for that.  I have friends that started making time for date nights with their spouses, coffee with their kids- heck, I even helped start a book club 2,000 miles away.  A bunch of people became friends in real time because I introduced them via cyberland.  Cool.  I'd like to think that maybe I made being a mom and a wife and a friend look fun.  Or at least funny when life didn't go, as I like to say, as the brochure suggested.

I took this week off from work and kinda sorta from everything.  This is the first time I've done that in pretty much my entire working life.  I've worked for as long as I can remember.  As I built my business, I would take a weekend here or there, but rarely anything more than a few days.  Most trips were to see family.  Most days off are to do something with the kids or doctors appointments or something that has to be done- rarely anything fun.  We do the family vacation, but if you're a mom you know that means you plan, you coordinate the travel- you don't actually get to relax much.  It's fun, but I always come back to a full in basket and more tired than when we left.

When I told Shane I was taking a week off for the heck of it he asked what I would be doing.  I said there was a really strong likelihood I would sit in my pajamas and binge watch Netflix all week. 

Instead, on Monday, my battery died so that was 2 1/2 hours out of my day.  My afternoon naps were non-existent- the neighbors are putting in their backyard which involves jackhammering of some sort.  There were kids to pick up and drop off. 

But I got to do some fun things- I went to a PTA meeting at the middle school, the homeowner's association meeting-- I know they don't sound fun but when you run a business, try to stay active in the community and  have a family, those things never happen. 

And most importantly, this week I got to breathe a little.  I have the best staff in the world.  They helped me plan the week off because I think they saw my head was about to explode.  Last year was crazy busy, this year has been more of the same- all fantastic stuff, too-- just a lot.  I'm just not in a happy place.  I tried.  I did.  Nothing was working.

Then I realized I need to stop the noise.  Take a week to simply be.  With no expectations.  I had a few small work things to take care of- it was fine.  I'm taking a great online class that actually feeds into a week off.

But I did the things I wanted to do.  My closet has never been organized since we moved. It still isn't.  My home office that used to look great is a bit of a trainwreck since the kids have moved into it- I may do that tomorrow.  Or not.

I test drove some cars.  It was fun.  It wasn't rushed. I could think clearly.

And it made me realize that I need to live a quieter life for now.

Which involved shutting down social media for awhile.  At least Facebook.

It is largely due to the fact that I hate that my friends can see comments I make on other threads.  I hate that people can see pictures or posts when others comment.  I don't know who has pictures of my children.  It's creepier than shit- especially living in Las Vegas.

I know there are settings- I'm fairly tech savvy.  But with every update, it required too much work.  I don't need it.  It's just one more thing sucking time and potentially putting my family in danger.

There were wonderful things about it, but not enough in the end to keep it going.

I will hopefully be blogging more because let's face it- you can't shut me up.  So feel free to comment here.

And there is one very important loose end that I need to tie up--

I promised to write 31 nice things about my husband.  I've made it to 14.

So here are the rest- all at once.

15)  He doesn't mind that I got fat.  Or at least he doesn't say anything.
16) He's lost over 100 lbs through diet and exercise and kept it off for nearly 5 years. 
17) He's a fantastic kisser which I constantly mention because I think it might be the glue that keeps our marriage together.
18) As much as he used to hate to socialize, he is Mr. Socialite now and I think looks forward to hosting parties as much as me.
19) Without my husband I would be living a very different life and I can't imagine how lonely it would be without my family.
20) He loves to beat me at things.  He tries to pretend that he likes that I'm smart, but yesterday I was having trouble with our electronic lock and he simply did it old school, manual style.  It was hilarious- I was standing there all "Oh yea... I forgot about that..."  He beamed with pride that he had bested me.
21) He's smarter than people think.  Seriously.  He can hold his own with anyone that I know.  Just because he's nice and a red head (hee hee) doesn't mean he's not smart.
22) He has an amazing mother that I adore.  She's one of my very best friends.
23) He loves the Jacuzzi like no other.  It's his happy place.
24) He has told me that he loves me every single day that we've been married.
25) He tolerates my cooking.  Not because I'm a bad cook- I'm not in the least.  But I know he'd prefer Hamburger Helper and mac-n-cheese to spaghetti squash or herb roasted chicken most days.
26) He put up with my dog Charlie for years.  Rocky, the other "child" I brought into the marriage was easy to fall in love with, but Charlie and he did not get along.  For years.  And he cried as much as me when he passed.
27) He does not blame me for our failure to have a "real" hunting dog.  I insisted that we adopt a rescue dog.  He fell in love with Oliver at first site- because he's gorgeous and goofy.  Unfortunately, Oliver is not a lab.  And he is terrified of water.  So much for his hunting dog....
28) He is constantly trying to be a better father.  He has a short fuse and it's been impressive to watch him put effort into controlling it over the years.  He didn't take the "Well that's how I am" position.
29)  He thinks Dutch Ovening me is HILARIOUS.  It is not. 
30) He is much more liberal than you would guess. 
31) No one has ever loved me more completely than he has- all of me.  Every flaw.  And that is quite impressive.

So you can all gag now. 

But I didn't want to leave my Facebook friends hanging...

I will continue to blog, so be sure to subscribe!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How Volkswagen Proved a Very Important Point

On Monday, Volkswagen admitted that they designed and installed an emissions system on their diesel vehicles that intentionally lowered emissions results to pass state requirements when being monitored, then returned the emissions to a higher level after being disconnected.

If you don't live in an area that requires smog checks, you may not know what this means.

In Nevada and many other states that have issues with smog, before you can register your car annually, you must submit it to an emissions test.  Smog testing facilities (which is it me or is there one on every corner until you need to have your car smogged then suddenly they disappear?) connect your car to their computer, run a test and you either pass or fail.

It is to reduce air pollution. Las Vegas is in a valley and during certain times of the year, the air turns brown and it is difficult to breathe.  Los Angeles has this issue as do many other urban areas.  Limiting emissions has a huge impact on air quality.

So Volkswagen- also the maker of Audi & Porsche- intentionally designed their diesel cars to fake out the test.

In normal running conditions, their cars exceed the standard.

On purpose.

They did this on purpose.

Try to put your head around this.

A large corporation intentionally created technology because they did not want to comply to air standards.

And it's not just the US EPA that is having issues.  This is a global issue.

They did it because quite simply they don't give a shit and the rules don't apply to them.

What's going to happen to them?

They file bankruptcy.


Shareholders lose out.

The poor people that have their cars are stuck with cars that don't meet standards and they can't sell.

They intentionally were poisoning the air.

Just like when Ford, a few years back, decided that rather than recall the Explorer because the tires they put on them caused them to tip over, it was more cost effective to pay out the death claims.

Your life is work x on a spreadsheet.  Because they made a mistake they didn't want to fix. 

This wasn't even a mistake.  This was designed to do exactly what it did.  Which is what truly makes my jaw drop.  The audacity is breathtaking.

I'm sure people will yell that we need more regulation and oversight to stop this type of nonsense.

But there IS regulation and oversight.  That's how these things are revealed. 

A few whistleblowers put their lives and livelihoods on the line and say "Hey... you need to check this out.  This is wrong."

And it takes a few times and a few investigations to find that yes, a major auto manufacturer absolutely with intent and knowledge devised a system to avoid compliance with the law.

How on earth do you regulate THAT?

That's morality.

Corporations are out of control.

In the US they officially have more rights than people.

They can manufacture toxic fertilizers and nothing happens.  They bury the evidence and with bravado challenge people to take them on-- they have legal teams.  What do they care?

We write more laws.  They continue to break them.

We had financial rules in the US.  They were broken.  Society is still recovering.  Corporations are fine.

But you can't legislate morality.

You can't. 

At some point, people need to realize there is a right and a wrong.

Because there is.

The executives at Volkswagen not only screwed the environment, they screwed every single one of their workers.  Every person on the line.  Every sales person.   Every service rep. They screwed their customers who are stuck with cars that aren't compliant and they can't sell or trade in.

Hundreds of thousands of people are impacted.  People who trusted them the most.

And. They. Did. It. Intentionally. For. Years.

"We really screwed up."

You lied and cheated.

You are immoral.

You are unethical.

Toyota's floor mat issues- that was a design flaw.  It happens. 

This.  This was something entirely different.

This is what happens when corporations run the world.

The rules no longer apply.

It becomes a catch-me-if-you-can society.

This was not a mistake.

The mistake was in getting caught, in their eyes.

They would still be doing it if they could

And do you honestly think this is the ONLY thing they cut corners on or lied about?

Because my guess is, it's probably not.

Because whether it's gouging prescription drug prices, polluting rivers, not paying employees- they don't care.

Because they are corporations. 

And corporations are not people.

And it's time the people that are running them are held accountable. 

Because they do know better.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Yes, I Really Do Use Reusable Shopping Bags

I'm not an environmental nut by any means, but we do a few things that are green to offset what isn't.

For example, we (meaning my husband)  replaced our low water front landscaping with nearly xeriscape.  But we put in a pool.  But our water bill is less than at our old house where we had grass.

When we built our new home, we opted for the energy efficient package.  But we built a new home.

We are looking into adding solar to our home.  But we are doing it so we can use more in the summer and not feel guilty.

We recycle most of the water bottles we use.  But we use disposable water bottles.

I like to think that we take a little here... put a little bit back there.

I hosted an event for clients a few years back at our local nature preserve.  I was worried the presenter would talk about wearing hemp clothing and turning off your lights at 6 pm. 

He didn't.  He said "Hey, if we all reduced our consumption by 10%, taking into account world growth & development, that would be all we each needed to do.  You don't need to go off grid and grow your own food.  If you have to drive the soccer team, get an SUV, but then use reusable shopping bags."

So that's the big change I made.  We really do try, but the reality is, we are big ol' earth consumers.  We do more than most but not enough.

But something is better than nothing.

The shopping bags have really been the easiest thing to do.

The funny thing is, that unless I'm at Whole Foods, it's always a thing.

I remember using them at Target and the cashier kept trying to ring them up.  Then he put them IN a plastic bag and put the light on for the manager to come help.  After I tried to explain that they were my shopping bags - "I know... cool"... he kept trying to find 'the code.'  They said ALBERTSONS on them.  Should have been a clue.  I honestly think he was stoned.... I also think that may have been his last day.  I was laughing too hard to complain, but I think the manager didn't find it quite as humorous as I did.

I also find that while at Whole Foods they will fill them to the max- because they hold a LOT- most grocery store baggers will only put a few items in them, as if they were the cheesy plastic bags. I always say "You can add more...." "Oh, I don't want them to be heavy."  "That's fine- I actually prefer to carry less bags... well alrighty then... guess that one cantaloupe is fine all alone..."

My dislike of baggers is pretty intense by the way.  Bananas with canned goods will actually make me yelp.

I know this because I did.  "Well they are both heavy."

I've NEVER left the grocery store with unbruised bananas, unless, like a crazy woman, I've carried them out on my own.  Throw my kids in the bag but do not mess with my bananas.

But back to the bags....

It is quite the conversation starter.

"How do you remember to bring them?"

Well, I have lots of them.  I keep a stash in the trunk of the car.  It's really just part of the routine.  I forget them about 10% of the time.

"I would never remember them."

Put them in the front seat?

"Those are so cute!  Where did you get them?!"

Here.  They are right there for $1 behind the cashier.

"Oh look- it's those bag things!"

I think they are called bags...

"Hey wait- you get a discount because you use your own bags?"

Yes.  So you are kinda buying those crappy plastic bags every time you shop. 

"Don't they get dirty?"

Yes.  But we have a magical potion called soap & water that cleans them.

"That's so cool that you do that!"

Sure.  I am cool.  I am super hipster chick.  Not.

But I truly am surprised at the attention they garner.  They are bags. My friends in NYC always had their own.  It's really not a big deal.  Most foreign countries use them as well.

They are bags.

Today I found out that I get extra perks on the gas bonus points!  Woo hoo!

So my eco-friendly bags help me fuel my V-6 AWD car.

Again, the balance and irony of my life continues.

Today I was at a store I don't frequent and I commented that with the gas perks, I was surprised that more people didn't use them.  The clerk as me where I was from  so I replied "Whole Foods."

But to be honest, I am surprised that more people don't use them.  I don't know if people aren't aware that most stores give you a 5 cent credit-- which isn't much, but it also means you are PAYING 5 cents for those crappy bags (and I say crappy because when we do get them, I use them for pooper scoopers when walking the dogs).

I'm not preaching- I'll save that for putting the carts back in their place-- seriously, people, what the hell?  put the freaking carts back in the corrals-- but if you have a few bags that you've accumulated, I highly recommend making it part of your shopping routine.

Yes, it's supposedly eco friendly, although I don't see how big a factor it makes (20 bags a week will not reverse climate change) but honestly, they are so much easier to use.

They don't sever your arteries when you have 3 on your arm as you walk in the door, purse falling off your shoulder, dogs jumping on you and your family asking "Do you need help?"  They hold a ton more crap making it easier to carry in your groceries.  You can save a little money.

They are also, apparently, a great way to start up a conversation with strangers who will think you have your crap together. 

Anything to perpetuate the myth, sounds good to me!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

September 10th

September 11, 2001 was the most horrifying day I can remember.  I was so far from my friends in New York.  I didn't know if any of them or their families were near the Twin Towers.  My cousin was in the Pentagon.  I didn't know if he was okay. 

I was so far away.

So far.

It happened in slow motion.  On TV.

It felt unreal.

For many of my friends it was real.  They ran.  They watched in horror.  They smelled it, heard it, felt it.

My cousin's office had been moved the day before- he was one of the "lucky" people in the Pentagon that had moved offices the day before the plane hit the exact spot where he had stood the day before.

I was awakened by my very soon to be husband who said "Hey- a plane crashed into the Twin Towers in New York-- you should watch it- I have to go--" he gave me a kiss and left.  I turned on the TV and immediately watched the second plane hit.

It was unreal.  On TV.  Far away.

Like so many, I felt helpless and in shock.

But fourteen years later, one of things that bothers me is that I don't remember September 10, 2001.

I was getting ready to be married in a month.

The market was crazy.

I was stressed.

But I don't remember what I did. 

I'm sure I went to work. 

And the reason it bothers me is because it was the last day things were normal. 

And I can't remember it.

My son who was born a year later, is writing a paper on stories from 9/11.  It made me think about life "before."

He will never know how much fun it was to great people at the airport at the gate. 

He has always removed his shoes before flying.

We have been at war his entire life.

He has never known peace.

And for the life of me, I cannot remember what I did the day before things changed.

What did peace feel like? 

The rest of the world has war.  Not us.  That was something in history books.  Parents came home from Vietnam and we were never going to war again.  Love, Not War.  No one thought we'd be attacked.

And honestly, for fourteen years, it feels as if no one even knows that troops are still deployed and in harms way.  That the threat continues to be real.

That my children's lives- both of them- have never known anything else.

And I cannot remember what I did on September 10th.

I barely remember the before.

How can I share with them the vague memory of peace, if I can't remember it?

The helplessness stayed.  I live around it.

It's the new normal of my psyche.

I always tell my children I love them as they leave for school- the school shootings reinforced this.

I kiss my husband every night, tell him I love and then a quick prayer of thanks-  Thank you for everything I have- my family, my health and all the love in my life.

Because tomorrow if it's the freeway I'm driving on collapses, or the plane I board explodes or the hotel where I'm attending a meeting is where they decide to attack next, they'll know I love them.

That's all I can do.

I don't know that I did that on September 10th.

Because I can't remember before.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My Day Today

Today was one of those normal kind of days.  In fact, it actually started out fairly good except for the fact that I'm not feeling well.  Nothing serious- more on that later.

The kids were ready on time.  It was an early drop off for my son so he wouldn't have to walk with his/my trombone to school.  My daughter and I are back to our traditional weekly coffee date.

We went to Starbucks and it's pumpkin time!  I did comment that it was too early but I loves me some Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL) with just "half the crap" as I like to order it.  And a pumpkin scone.  I limit myself to one each season.

The girl and I chatted.  Had fun.  Took a funny picture in the PSL logo in the door and determined that it stood for Pretty Sexy Lori.  I'll let you be the judge.

In fact, the morning had gone too well.  Even when I dropped my daughter off, she said "I feel like I'm forgetting something...."  because let's face it, when does life ever go this smoothly?

But it was.

When I got in the office, I asked my assistant Julie if she had ever had mornings that had gone TOO well.

Hers had as well and she completely understood the amount of stress caused by not having stress.

So I get to work and honestly, I really started to not feel well.

I should also explain that it takes a great deal of pain for me to go to the doctors.  Largely because I knew exactly what it was and the thought of sitting in a Quick Care (ironically titled) while I wasn't feeling well with the potential of catching 10,000 different illnesses for something I knew I had.... grrr.  Usually, I suck it up and self-cure with things like onions, honey and in this case, cranberry juice (every woman now knows exactly what was going on). 

But first I had lunch with some colleagues and a Girl Scout nut training session.  Or as I joked "I gotta go learn about the girls' nuts" because I am 12 and nuts is a hilarious word.

So I got to lunch and my colleague brought another colleague.  Which meant it really was going to be a working lunch after all.  And my issue was making me a little uncomfortable and I was starting to get a bit of a fever.  But the third colleague was very impressed with my practice management systems- "Wow- you're really good"- and it cheered me up.  So then we ate and I started to joke around about my kids, puberty, parenting- which is ALL hilarious- and he said... and I quote:

"You are as funny as Tina Fey.  Seriously.  Your timing.  Your wit.  You're hilarious."

As funny as Tina Fey.

Do you know how HUGE a compliment that is for a nerdy, funny girl?

What Christie Brinkley was to the cheerleaders in the 80s, Tina Fey is to the smart, funny chicks that dated band geeks, now in their 40s.

Had I died at that moment (which was a possibility as my fever was getting worse), it would have been a life well lived.

And. It. Came. From. A. Guy.

He not only knew a female comedian, he clearly thought she was funny. 

And now it was off to the Nut Meeting.  There is a system that is used called e-nuts.  So there I sat, grossly uncomfortable for reasons referenced above, trying really hard NOT to say something inappropriate. 

And I got there late and then had to leave to pee- twice (and if you are still not picking up on what my issue is....). I'm certain they thought I had a drug problem from my fidgeting and frequent departures.

We finished early, I checked my email and was nothing crazy going on without me and I thought I really need to get to the doctor.

And off I go to the Ironically Named Not Quick Quick Care.  I couldn't find a parking spot initially and I thought "If I don't find a spot, I'm just going home...." but then one opened up.  I also was starting to sweat and I really needed to get some medical attention.

Of course it's like a freaking crazy pen.  Truly.  I find a seat next to a young mother with her baby.  Babies LOVE me.

Not this one.

I do my smile, wave thing.  It usually KILLS.  This kid looked at me and started shrieking.  Awesome.  I made a baby cry. 

After she was called up to fill out her paperwork, she did not elect to sit by me.

My next form of entertainment is the lovely older couple and their brother (?) who is clearly not okay mentally.  He was wondering around the parking lot and I thought he was homeless.  There was a newspaper next to me and he grabbed it.  "He likes to read," she said, "It keeps him calm."  Well alrighty then- read away.  It was better than the pacing. 

But then she starts reading.

Out loud.

At a reading level of a second grader. 

And then she started commenting.  About the President.  Negatively.  Somebody should fire that guy.

I'm going out on a limb and saying these folks were utilizing some government assistance programs.  Which is completely fine- I'm glad they have them- but I don't think the black guy is the root of their issues.

Then they moved onto to Syrian refugees- oh wait- I meant "those terrorists."  Umm.... I think they were running from the terrorists, but hey, what do I know?

So this continues on and on and on for AN HOUR.

I pee two more times.

Then I move because the cadence      is    too   much   and   the  big  words  are cu  cumbers  cumbersome.

And I sit next to this freaking adorable little girl- about 3 or 4 and she has Twilight the pony.  Now I know my ponies because my daughter IS Pinkie Pie pony.  She's forced me to watch more shows.  The little is quite impressed with my knowledge of Pony Land.  Apple Jack- I know her- she works on the farm.  This kid is STUNNED.  So I text my husband and ask him to have my daughter send some pictures of her ponies.

I'm the coolest adult ever.

The baby lady is now convinced that I'm a pedophile. I moved near her new spot.

We are into hour 2.  The pony talk is starting to wane as is my phone battery.

I am now fascinated by the mom with 2 kids who has managed to not say a word to them for 2 hours.

Then her phone battery dies.

So we chat going into hour 3.

I get triaged, the nurse laughs at my situation "well when the cranberry juice didn't work...." and I get to wait some more out in Crazy Land aka The Lobby.

So I finally get called back, read a little WebMD magazine, take a nap (I'm not kidding) and the doctor shows up.

I loved him.  Anyone who starts off joking about and the fact that he may or may not be on the autism spectrum is okay in my book.  Then after we chat, he diagnoses me by saying "Well, let me officially diagnose you with what you already know you have..." He then explains that one of the drugs I will be taking will turn my pee orange "But if you have a blacklight..."

and I stop him and say "Go on... we just got one over the weekend"... he pauses realizing this is an odd coincidence as well...

Apparently, my orange pee is going to look super cool with a blacklight.  I am now envisioning the entire family gathered around our toilet checking this out.  Because we will totally be all over this.

I mean sparkling, glow in the dark pee-- does it get any better? 

Then he says "It has been a pleasure.  It is so nice to talk with a normal person."  And I explained that having sat in the lobby for nearly 4 hours, I completely understood.

And then the nurse apologized for making me wait for so long for something that I already knew what was wrong but hey- it all worked out.  I made some new friends.

I got home, we had dinner and then my daughter proceeds to tell me that she told her science teacher that she had taken a DNA test like I told her to (they are studying genetics and biology and I thought he might find it interesting) "but he didn't say anything..." So I asked if she had told him that she had taken a DNA test to test her ancestry- and she replied "No... why?"  Because I'm guessing that her teacher now thinks we are going to go on Maury Povich.


And to add a cherry to the top of the sundae, as I was tucking her in she commented that she was having trouble sleeping because she kept thinking how awful it would have been had our cruise ship sunk this summer and her teddy bear had been trapped on board.  Last year they studied the Titanic.  Clearly this is a rational thought, a month after the cruise.

Because this is how my days go.

I pee.

I have some pumpkin coffee.

I get told I'm as funny as Tina Fey.

I make nut jokes in my head.

I make a baby cry.

I talk Pinkie Pony.

I learn that in 2 days my pee will glow.

And the entire PTO thinks I'm looking for the baby daddy.

This is my world.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A New School Year Awaits

I know that January technically is the beginning of the new year, but for me, it's always seemed like fall is when I hit my reset button.  I think it's because school was always something that I looked forward to with excitement.

Yes.  I was THAT kid.

I had horrible allergies and asthma and summer was a bit hellish for me to be quite honest.  I couldn't swim and everyone hung out at the community pool.  I got to know the librarian quite well in the lovely air conditioned library.

I will say the sound of crickets chirping, the hum of the streetlights coming on does take me back to a few happy, outdoor childhood memories, but that happiness was nothing compared with the excitement of a new school year.

We, the neighborhood gang, would all ride our bikes over to the school where, before privacy laws, they would post the class lists on the doors.  We would know, instantly, that our next 9 months would be impacted by if we were in class with our friends or sworn enemies... did we get the nice teacher or the mean teacher?  The anticipation and expectations were better than going on a first date. 

And to be honest, every single year was different.  Because of the other students in the class.  Because of the teacher.  Some years, like 5th grade, were amazing.  Others, like 3rd, well, I made it through.  Every teacher had a different tone for the class.  Sometimes I was forced to make new friends because last year's best friend was in another class.

Even junior high and high school we were excited- and all through college.  Did you get the classes you wanted?  Are your friends in the same class?  Will you have study partners?  Is that annoying kid in there AGAIN?

It was all new.  A new chance.  A new opportunity.

And new school supplies.  Is there anything more symbolic to rebirth than a blank notebook?  Those dual pocket folders that would be taped together by spring break, still shiny.... sharp pencils.  Everything in its place. 

Now that I'm married to a teacher, I constantly give him crap about his part-time job*.  He knows now, after nearly 15 years, to NEVER complain about how he ONLY has three weeks left of vacation.  I remember telling him "You know what the rest of the world calls the first day of school?  MONDAY.  Just like last Monday and the Monday before that."

But the perk of being married to a teacher (aside from his giant salary that provides me a life of luxury. .... hahahaha...), is that you get to go back to the academic calendar.  I do slow down my summer schedule at the office.  I try to only have meetings that I need to have.  I want to spend as much family time as I can together.  It never works out to be quite enough- and this summer June was incredibly busy for me-- but with the heat, so many of my clients leaving town in the summer, it does seem a little less busy than other months.

Because of that, I get to take advantage of the reset button, like when I was a student.  My kids will have new teachers, new schedules, new classes.  They have all their new shiny school supplies. 

Last year was so chaotic for us that we never got into a groove.  This year we can.  My husband has a new position as a coordinator which means I can get back to the gym in the morning.  Plus, my son is old enough that if we do have a little overlap in my return from the gym versus his leaving for work, he can handle it.  I am ecstatic.

My son is an early riser, my daughter a night owl, so we all committed to making sure Mom stays in the loop on the classwork this year.  That did not happen last year.  Moving threw us off our pace and we're back on track.  We've got a plan.  I'll go through work with my son in the morning and my daughter after dinner.

It's time to evaluate what worked, what didn't work and what do we want to be by May.

To reset.

When I was a senior in college a friend of mine that had graduated two years earlier was back on campus and I asked him what adulthood was like.  He said it was a perpetual treadmill.  There were no grades.  No sense of completion.  No projects that truly ended.  It was ongoing and a bit overwhelming at times. 

He was right.

For years there was a break.  A new start.  An internship.  A new professor.  There were eras.. when I worked at Disney... when I interned in Atlantic City... high school... junior high... a different dorm... an easy way to quantify time.

This year I am celebrating my 20th year of having my practice.  For 20 years I've done basically the same thing, 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year.  The occasional office move.  A few market meltdowns to keep my life interesting.  I rearranged my furniture last summer because I was bored of looking out the same window.  But in general, the core of what I do is the same.

Living in Las Vegas doesn't help either.  Yes we have seasons, but they are subtle.  It can make the passage of time less noticeable. 

If I hadn't met my husband it would have been a constant treadmill. 

But with him and my kids, I am forced somewhat to take a break.  Or slow down a bit for that sacred three months every summer.

To reset.  Reboot.

To refresh.

To look at the next 9 months with excitement and wonder-- what is coming next?

*Please note that I am aware that teaching is NOT a part-time job.  I just like to give my husband crap like every good wife does.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Homemade Ice Cream

I very honestly don't think there is anything that tastes better than homemade ice cream.  I remember when I was a kid, our neighbors Ernie & Maxine had the old hank crank ice cream maker. When their grandchildren would come over, it was always a treat to make and eat it.  Since I was little, I didn't do much making, but I always loved the eating!

We had one and would pull it out every once in awhile.  It still needed the ice and rock salt.  Every time we would make it we would say "We should do this more often!"  And, of course, we never did.

We had good friends that had a countertop ice cream maker, but as the recession was waging, spending a lot of money (I think it was over $200) on an ice cream maker seemed ridiculous.  It had been a wedding gift for them and they loved it-- as did we!

So flash ahead to last summer.

We were living in my mother-in-law's house while our home was being built.  She and her husband spend their summers at his cabin in the mountains.  She has a lovely house that had no one in it, was down the street from the kids' schools- perfect fit.  We could put everything in storage and live in her furnished home.  And that's what we did.

I didn't even think about my kitchen.  I packed everything up.  I have a lot of cooking stuff.

My mother-in-law recently remarried and merged her kitchen stuff with her new husband's stuff.  They split cooking duties.

She had a lot of stuff in her kitchen.  Just nothing that I used.

And naturally, I had no idea where anything was.  And naturally, because she was letting us graciously stay in her house, I didn't want to move anything.

My mother-in-law will tell you without a doubt that she is a dinner maker and I am a cook. 

So when I couldn't find a lemon zester, while it was frustrating, it wasn't the end of days.  During cherry season, there was no cherry pitter.  And she had no plane grater.

Tragedy, right?

But after a few months of living on top of each other, the frustration of building a house and the horror of mortgage paperwork, things like not having a zester started to get to me.

Who am I kidding?  Everything was getting to me.

We ate out.  A lot.  Nearly every meal.

Now to my credit, when it's 110 in Vegas, most people eat out, so that wasn't too unusual.  But it did start to get out of hand. 

And I couldn't really complain because here I was building our dream home, living rent free and we had that miraculous sale of our old home to a great family. 

It was bothering me that it was bothering me.  I am a big girl.  I've been completely broke and come back.  I've been heartbroken and moved on.  I've seen abject poverty in the US and abroad.  I'm above material possessions.  The lack of a cherry pitter can't bring me down. 

Or so I thought.

Because at some point, I snapped and decided that we NEEDED a cherry pitter. 

Sad, but true.

And a zester and a few other things.  I assumed that my mother-in-law could keep them as a thank-you after we moved out.  Because life is better with a cherry pitter (and yes, I know we could just SPIT the pits... I lived for years without one... but we really eat an unusual amount of cherries in the summer...).

And where do you go when you are stress shopping for food items?


Because I knew they had the weird things I wanted.

I walked in and there in their "Summer Fun!" display was a countertop ice cream maker.  A Cuisinart.

For $39.99.

Not $299.99.


That was it.

We had no room at my mother-in-law's- the stuff we did bring was on top of her stuff and like I mentioned, she had recently merged her stuff so buying a small appliance was absolutely ridiculous.

We had room for a cherry pitter and a zester.

The ice cream maker, not so much.

So I bought it.

I, the one who is spending 5 months researching my next car purchase, impulse bought an ice cream maker.

If you thought the pitter and zester were ridiculous...

I walked in the door with it and my husband stared at me.

We have been married a long time.  I think he saw the crazy in my eyes.  He said something to the tune of "Well, that's interesting..."

Normally he would have said "Where the hell are we going to put that?!?!"  But he knew.  Wise man.

I replied "It was $39.99 and I wanted some home made ice cream."

Well alrighty, was the look on his face.

That night we made ice cream.  It was really fun.

It was also delicious.

In fact, one of my favorite memories of that time we spent living on top of each other stressing about our house is making ice cream.  Blueberry.  Strawberry. Frozen yogurt.  Chocolate.  Banana.  Chocolate chip.  Peanut butter chocolate chip.

It was just as fun as I had remembered.  When I think about last summer, I don't think about how I couldn't find anything or how stressed out I was.  I think about how much fun we had making ice cream. 

When we moved into our new house, the ice cream maker, no longer on the counter because we have space for it, took a rest in the pantry.

But with the summer heat, I brought it out last week.

And we are on a kick.  We all decided the vanilla is by far the best.  We can make it into whatever we want.

It's so easy to do.  And I know what's in it- milk, cream, sugar and vanilla.  Not a bunch of crap I can't pronounce.  And it tastes better- FAR better.  Fresh made vanilla ice cream with summer time blueberries?  There are no words.

It's ridiculous.  It's not necessary.  But the $39.99 machine is priceless.  It's not just ice cream- it's the fun of making the ice cream with my kids.

So, with tomorrow being the 4th of July if you have one of these sitting in your cabinet, unused and unloved.  Bring it out.  Throw that freezer bowl in tonight and tomorrow you can have some fun and ice cream.

Before you say "it's a pain"- here's the Cuisinart recipe for Basic Vanilla Ice Cream- it won for our favorite every time:

Mix 1 1/2 cups whole milk with 1 cup sugar until dissolved.

Add three cups cream and 1 1/2 tablespoons (we use 2) of vanilla (and get the good stuff- not that nasty imitation crap- trust me).

Pour it into your ice cream maker and 30 minutes later you have ice cream.

Of course, freezing it overnight is a bit better, but right out of the maker...melty, yummy goodness... life is good, isn't it?

I think so.

And as a side note, my "thank-you" gifts-- my mother-in-law returned them all to me as "stuff I think you forgot" because I'm sure she saw it and thought "Who the hell needs a cherry pitter?  Just spit out the seeds for crying out loud..."  which is exactly why I love her.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cooking vs. Making Dinner

I have always loved to cook.

And when I say always, I mean always.

My first recipe in our family cookbook is from when I was 7 years old.  For a lemon cheesecake.  It was a delicious recipe that I found on the back on the Jell-O box.

I learned the 2T meant tablespoons and not teaspoons.

I was the kid that when I came home from break at college my PARENTS were happy for the home cooking.

Best compliment I ever received was from my Italian grandmother "I really like your sauce.  It's better than mine.  You used oregano... I never put enough in."

I could win a Pulitzer and that would be second to my grandma's compliment.

When I was single I always cooked dinner.  I ate every meal- including breakfast- at the table.  I got my roommates Dan and Mike because I used to live below them in my old apartment building.  I was making banana bread and had the window open.  I kid you not-- they followed the smell and I heard them outside talking about how great it smelled.  So I invited them in and gave them the extra loaf I had made.  We ended up sharing a house (also known as my Fraternity Era-- not that I joined one, it just seemed like it).

The first time I cooked for my husband, I invited him over because I was grilling.  He was impressed that a girl grilled. Whatever.  He expected hamburgers.  What he got was turkey burgers stuff with brie, apple slices and topped with grilled onions.

So yes, I love to cook.

Cooking, however, I've learned over the years is very, very different from making dinner.

Making dinner SUCKS.

Every single day these little faces want fed.  Breakfast.  Lunch.  Dinner.

Does it ever stop?

Long gone are the days of gourmet pancakes.  My apple cinnamon pecan pancakes are replaced with cereal.  Or maybe a toaster waffle.

Because every day is a LOT.

I always feel better when I do cook.  We eat healthier, for certain.  And I have an arsenal of 20 minute dinners- grilled fish & bok choy is on the menu tomorrow.  Tonight was Taco Tuesday.  We (including the hubby) sautee some ground elk (he hunts) with spices, we chopped some toppings and voila-or ole I guess- Taco Bar.  Throwing in a roast chicken takes about 10 minutes to prep. 

It's not hard. 

But holy crap, it's a lot.

And I used to work in professional kitchens.

You run out of ideas.  You have an audience that critiques- although I will say, my family is pretty good about it.

My husband now knows that when I say "let's go out tonight" it means I'm too tired and I don't want to cook.  He once made the mistake of saying "But it's so much easier to eat in."  I'm sure you can imagine where THAT conversation ended-- I do 90% of the cooking.

Or worse, you plan dinners to make and then you find out there's a practice or a rehearsal or some meeting and the food you did buy rots slowly in the refrigerator.

And I can never figure out what my family will eat.  I just bought a huge bag of cherries and threw most out.  Because if I had purchased a small bag, it would have been the "Hunger Games" and they would have disappeared before I took them out of the grocery bag.

I always laugh at newlyweds or new parents who comment how much they love to cook and how much fun it is.

I can't even tell you when the last time I cooked was-- picked out something new from a cookbook, went to the store and bought exactly what I needed--

Nope.  It's improv and ease these days.

The 110 degree heat isn't helping, of course.

I'm hoping once I get my garden in, I'll be all excited about cooking again. 

But for now, I will simply drudge along and try to make something edible, healthy and fast. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Write What You Mean

My senior year high school English teacher passed away this week.

When I heard the news, I had the normal reaction that you would expect after hearing that someone you hadn't seen in 25+ years had passed away.

I burst into tears and started ugly crying.

So maybe NOT what you would expect...

I could barely get through her obituary (which I kept thinking "I wonder if she wrote this in advance... it sounds like her...").  By the time I got to the end where her family -- her legacy-- was listed, I was a boogery, slobbering mess.

I think this was due to the fact that about 3 weeks ago I thought "I really need to get in touch with her...  I have to find her son on Facebook."  I didn't know her son but we have mutual friends.  I posted something about what an amazing teacher she was on someone else's wall a few years ago and he commented that it was his mom and he would let her know.

I had been thinking of her because my son had asked me to proof his essay for National Junior Honor Society and I very honestly felt as if I had channeled her.  More on that later.

Mrs. Rapport was a tiny, feisty woman with a fairly thick Boston accent.  She was known as a hard ass, to be blunt.  She could strike fear into children's hearts.  She also had a reputation for not liking the band students because we missed school too much.  Our high school had a strong performing arts program and we would go to contests and miss school from time to time.

For some reason, I did not believe the hype.  First, she was married to Mr. Rapport who was a junior high social studies teacher and possibly the nicest man on the planet.  I never had him as a teacher but he was the type of guy you wanted to run up and hug.  Always happy.  I knew that anyone that was married to him definitely had a soft side.  Second, I knew she loved our community theater and plus, as an English teacher she had to love the arts.  Third, the times I had interacted with her before I was in her class she seemed, well, really funny.  Biting wit. 

While her reputation held that she was fierce in the classroom, I knew there was no way she was like that in real life.

At the beginning of my senior year, we all wrote essays and then scheduled a one-on-one with her to review our work.  It was in the English teacher's lounge which always smelled like stale cigarettes and breath mints.

We both sat down and I was nervous.  I had heard she was ruthless, but I knew I was an A student and she liked smart people.

She started with something like "Well, you are a fantastic writer."  Then she went through a few items that she had marked on the page.

Then she stopped.  She took a minute and turned and asked:

"Do you want to be a great writer?"

"Yes, of course," I replied.

"Here's the deal," she went on. "I can grade you against your peer group.  You'll get an A.  I just don't think you'll get anything out of it.  Or, I could grade you against your ability and you'll learn something.  I know you want to go to a good school-- or at least you should go to a good school-- and I don't want to hurt your grades unless you are okay with it."

She waited.

I thought about it and I said "Grade me against myself."

She smiled, perked up, grabbed her pen and said "GREAT!"

She then proceeded to DESTROY my A essay. 

Line marked out here.  Passive to active there.  Extra words.  Too many adjectives.

Chop. Chop. Chop.

I almost gasped out loud. 

But here's the thing-- at the end of her editing, my essay was 1,000 times better.    AND she explained everything as she tore it apart.

And I became a better writer.

I had issues with attendance in high school.  I often would leave after my calculus class and go work over lunch.  I was a little horrified when one day the English department walked in for a surprise lunch.  They were surprised (as was my boss when he realized I didn't had the day off school).  Mrs. Rapport asked me if I would be returning for the afternoon- for her class.  I was worried I was going to get in trouble for being truant.  Instead she said "Listen, I'll make you a deal.  You make sure you're in class on discussion days and I won't report you.  Sometimes, when the other students speak, I want to scratch my eyes out.  I need you there."

And she kept her word.  I never missed a discussion day and she never marked me absent on the days I decided to leave a little early.

She even bought band fruit from me.  At the holiday season, our band had a fundraiser every year.  Someone dared me to ask her-- she had apparently never bought fruit before.  I gave her my best sales pitch.  She looked at me and said "I don't know if you kids are learning any music down there, but you're definitely learning some valuable sales skills and that will be useful."  

She also became very passionate about my attending a quality university.  Very passionate.  One school that I was considering was St. John's College, a liberal arts school that utilized the Great Books program.  When I met with an alumus, I was horrified that he was bagging groceries after his fantastic education.  She told me that you don't go to college for a job, you go for an education.  I use that phrase every year when meeting with high school students.

When I applied to Cornell, much to her excitement,  I asked her to help me with my essays.  She was thrilled and invited me over to her house.  Her red pen was ready.

I thought I wrote a pretty fabulous essay.

She, based on the red marks, did not.

She finally stopped writing- looked up at me and said quite harshly: "This is crap.  What exactly are you trying to say?"

I told her.

"Then you need to write what you mean.  You don't need to impress them.  Only use the words you need.  Write what you mean."

And I did.

It was an essay about how my mom started college in her 40s to pursue her dream of becoming teacher.  I told it through a story about doing laundry, how I washed one red sock with my whites and it turned everything pink.  It was really about how life is perpetual and you are always learning.  Like my mom.  Like I learned to do laundry.

I wouldn't say it was good, but my senior year in college I volunteered to help in the admissions office calling newly accepted students.  I was asking them what the most popular topic was for the year.  They told me and I joked that I had written about laundry.

"The red sock?" one of the admissions staff asked.

"Um... yes... my mom..."  I said.

He interrupted, "...had gone back to school so you had to learn to do your own laundry.... I LOVED the essay.  One of the best ones I've ever read."  He had read thousands of essays over the years.

More than five years later, he still remembered it.  One of the best.

Because of Mrs. Rapport.

Because she was one of the best.

Now back to my son...

"Hey Mom, you like to write.  Will you proof my essay?"

"Sure.  Let me see it."

It. Was. Awful.

I tried to start editing, but I couldn't.  It was that bad.  My son is super smart and tends to dial it in.

So I said, "Listen, you are probably going to get in because you are Skip Bean and everyone loves Skip Bean.  You are smart.  Teachers love you.  But this... this, my son, is a piece of shit (yes, I said that) and I cannot offer you any advice.  Maybe your dad can because he's used to reading crappy essays, but I have no idea where to begin.  I'm sure it will be fine, but it's not your best.  If you want to do your best, try it again.  What are you are trying to say?"

He told me a few things.

"So say it.  Get all the extra crap out of there.  Write what you mean."

For the next two hours, he worked on his essay.  When he gave it back to me to proof read, I told him I didn't have anything else to add.  He was shocked.  I told him it was perfect.

He had written what he meant.

Great advice.

And that's when I thought that I really needed to send Mrs. Rapport a card or something to tell her what a great teacher she was.  To tell her that every time I write a piece, I go back and delete about a third of it. I get rid of the useless words.  I select words with specific meanings to be precise.  And I think of her every single time I write.  Every single time.

I didn't get to write the letter.

I hope this blog will do.

Rest in peace, Mrs. Rapport. You were an amazing teacher.  You were passionate.  You were kind.  You were funny.  You were a huge influence.

Thank you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

To My Children on Mother's Day 2015

A few years ago I wrote an "advice to my children" for Mother's Day.  I meant to make it an annual thing.  Last year, we were a little busy moving, so I didn't get a chance.

So this year, I wanted to get back into the swing of things.

Dear Skip & Zoey,

Once again it's Mother's Day or as I like to call it The Most Important Day of the Year.  I wanted to take a minute and share with you some advice and knowledge to carry with you throughout your life.  True motherly advice.


You're completely fine.

Seriously.  That's it.

Both of you.  As different as you are,  you are completely and totally fine.

You're smart.  You love learning new things.  You know how to make friends.  You know how to keep friends.  You know how to get rid of friends that are whiny or rude and bring you down.

Skip, your thoroughness and commitment to learning lacrosse has blown me away.  You've picked up the trombone just as quickly.  You're becoming a team leader.  You're easing through middle school and no one does that!  And withholding hugs from your mom, while not my favorite thing, is being replaced with some pretty great conversations. 

Zoey, you transitioned to a new school and just announced today that you loved it.  I know it's been hard for you. You've stuck with soccer and went from being "the funniest girl on the team" to a pretty effective goalie.  You are tenacious.  Your room, when it's not a mess, is adorable with your quirky decorating style.  You make me smile and I love that you still like to snuggle.

So I got nothing this year.

No advice.

You're doing fine on your own. 

Sure, there's mom stuff like clean your bathrooms, brush your hair, make your beds, etc., etc.

But life changing advice?


Keep doing whatever you're doing.  Those inner compasses we all have, well yours are doing a great job pointing you in the right direction.

To say I'm proud, is an understatement.

This Mother's Day, I say thank YOU.  Thank you both for being great kids.  Thank you for making my life full of fun, laughter and joy.

I was never really sure if I would be a good mother.  I'm still not sure I'm a good mother.

What I am sure of is that I'm having a great time being YOUR mother.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


I met with a friend today.  We are the same age.  We both were career focused in our 20s.  We waited to get married and had kids in our 30s, right as our careers were peaking.  We kept working but we stepped back a bit- which was made easier by the recession.  In her case, promotions were disappearing.  In my case, my business slowed to a crawl.

Now our kids are kids- not babies.  Business is beyond picking up.  Opportunities are coming again.

She may have a chance to take a "promotion"- or maybe it will be a "no-motion"- bigger job, same money.   It would require a move.  Disrupting her family.  They have friends.  Her kid has friends and activities and is doing well. 

I work in an industry where is it always about more.  More business.  Constantly.  And since I work with money, it's about more money.  That's how they define "success"- how to be successful is simply how to make more money.

When I quit corporate America, my boss was baffled.  I was on a fast track program.  At the last company, they referred to us as hi-pots- high potential.  She asked why, as did my previous boss.  I simply said "Because when I look up, there is no one I want to be." 

It may have sounded arrogant coming from a 25 year old, but it was the truth.  I had been conditioned that being an executive VP or a CEO was the key to "success."  But when I looked up, I saw single, lonely women (because they had all shared, at one point over wine, that they were in fact, very lonely), divorced men, kids in rehab, kids still living at home, shaky marriages with affairs-- the stuff they make telenovellas from.

And every once in a blue moon, there was someone on an org chart that seemed happy.  But so often that was the person everyone talked about behind their back because they left early on Thursday to coach their kids' basketball game.  Or they took an hour over lunch to work out.  Because they did talk.  Commitment meant 60 hour weeks.  The company above all else.

In my last corporate job, I was horrified to find that I didn't have time for the community band.  I have always been active in the communities in which I lived.  Music is my outlet.  Wednesday nights at 7 pm, I had rehearsal.  One night.  At 7 pm.  I swear my boss would intentionally try to keep me late to test me. After missing 2 rehearsals, I started leaving work so I could make it on time.  My boss noticed.  Where was my commitment?  I believe I said it was to me. Those 2 hours a week were fun.  I had given up nearly everything else.  Had started to gain weight.  Rarely saw my friends.  It was 2 hours.  I wasn't asking permission.  It was my LIFE.

I lasted 9 months in that job.

Then I started my business and I probably worked more hours but it was for me.  With a purpose.  So that one day I would reach a point of enough.  It was calculated.  It was planned.  When I had my kids, recession or not, I was able to spend time with them.  I scaled back my hours, worked more efficiently, hired good people and kept it going.  I netted less, but the business grew.  My husband is a teacher and we both have been able to spend time with our kids.

Of course, my business would have grown even more if I had worked 60 hours a week.

Which a few people have commented on.

But would I have those memories of playing on the swings in the park?  My kids don't remember, but I do.  It was fun.

And this isn't about motherhood.  Even when I was single, I took Friday afternoon off.  The market closes at 1.  There's not much I can do after that. So I enjoyed the afternoon- did my appointments then (dentist, hair, etc.).  I would go to the bookstore and pick out a book for the weekend.  I'd pick up a movie at the video store.  I'd take a bubble bath, read my book, watch my movie and relax.  My "me" time.  The guys would all meet up for happy hour and schmooze.  I didn't.  Fridays were mine. 

Now, with kids, time is so much more precious.  They will be gone and on their own soon in what will probably be a very short time.  I enjoy them.  I like my time with them.  For the time being, they seem to like me as well.

The business is doing great.  I love the impact I can make on people's lives. 

So my friend and I chatted about having enough.  We both make enough to ensure a comfortable lifestyle and retire as we planned. 

The people giving the "success" training at events?  Divorced.  Workaholics.  Lotsa money and bling.

They look down on me.  I'm not "successful." I must not take my business seriously if I don't make seven figures.

If my friend turns down this promotion, she will be set to the side as a mommy tracker.  There will be no more offers.  It doesn't work like that.

I asked her if there was anyone in her company, above her, that had a better life?  Nope.

We are happy. 

It's not the jobs, the kids or the husbands that make us happy. We are making choices that make us happy.

The title on our business cards doesn't matter.  More money won't make life any sweeter.

We have enough.  As defined by us.  Not by anyone else.

We have successful lives. It doesn't make us career slackers- in the end, the company can let you go, clients will leave-- but you need to be happy with yourself. Work is not life.  It is a part of a much bigger picture.  A component.

Somewhere I feel we've lost that.  Every self-help book is about having more and doing more.  What about having enough?

A glass of wine with your friends doesn't cost a lot (depending on your taste).  A walk.  A bubble bath.  A good book.  A bike ride. 

I posted earlier this week that you shouldn't forget to love your life while you are living it.

I believe that to the core.  Today matters and tomorrow is coming no matter what, if you're lucky.  But you have to enjoy all the good things about today.

And to me, that's success. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

So I was pissed at my husband...

Actually, we've been really pissy with each other for about 6 months or so.  You know the passive-aggressive kinda crap that most marriages are built on.  We had a LOT going on with the new house, the financing (which was a GIANT pain in the ass), kids in new schools, etc., etc. To be honest, I felt like a lot had been dumped on my lap.  More than my fair share.  And I felt incredibly unappreciated.

Of course, did I say anything?


I just let it build. And build.  And build. And build.

Because isn't that what marriage is?  One perpetual argument about something stupid that happened 10 years ago?

The good thing, we had gone to counseling a few years ago.  I would joke with the counselor about how she gave us good advice, but it might help if we would implement it from time to time.  Kinda like with my clients...

So about 2 weeks ago, we were in Lowe's and I snapped.

Not a volcano.  A seething "Are you f#*(ing kidding me?" kinda thing.  I won't share the details of the fight because that's personal- just between us and the people at Lowe's who got to watch.

I will also say that the good thing about having gone to counseling is that I did stick to my guns, tried not to make it a personal attack, and said "Hey- I don't care what you THINK, this is how I FEEL and it's real."  I was very calm.

And my husband, to his credit, didn't go to that place where he used to go which says "I WANT TO BE RIGHT AND I DON'T CARE!"

He yells.  I get quiet. Coldly quiet.

Awesome combo.

Anyhow, clearly, we had made some progress.

He apologized.  Thanked me for all the extra stuff I had to deal with with the move and the house build.  He offered to help more.

He was super nice for the whole week.

But I was still pissed because one week does not make up for a few months.

He was trying.  I was not.

So I decided that I would take the counselor's advice and deal with my own anger. 

I planned a perfect date.  Stuff that HE would like to do.  Not stuff that I wished he would want to do with me.  I made it a surprise.

Which terrified him a little.  I think he was envisioning a fancy restaurant and a jazz club- a perfect date for ME.  He looked relieved when I said "Casual is fine.  Jeans are good.  T-shirt, too."

Now he was really suspicious.

We had a blast.  It made him remember why he liked me in the first place.

And then last night.

I have an integrated garage door opener- Homelink.  We replaced our garage door opener after a month in the new house.  My Homelink hasn't worked because you have to hold the button on the opener, while you press the button in the car.  Clearly, I needed some help with that- as it is impossible to do both at the same time.

This was in November.  I asked a few times.  My husband has no recollection of that.

Now, this is not a tragedy. I  have a garage door opener.  But I have to keep it in my console- I use my visor a lot and it falls off.  I always have to dig to find it.  It's a pain.

A pain.  Not a tragedy.

But it is February.

At some point in 4 months, I would have thought that my husband could have gotten a ladder and held the button.

But it became this THING to me.  He kept saying it didn't work that way.  I needed to do this or that or something because we had a fancy system.

I knew that I didn't.  I needed him to get his happy ass up on a ladder and press the damn button for 30 freaking seconds.

Last night, after getting home at 9:15 after a very long, tedious day, I pulled in, fumbled with the garage door opener and thought "This is stupid."  So I asked him to help me.  To get the ladder and climb up and hold a button.

Small thing.

He started in that I needed to this and that.

We argued about the garage door opener.

I had been having this argument for 4 months in my head.  This was a new fight for him.

So he caved and said he would.  But he kept insisting that I do it this way or that way. 

I finally said- "JUST PRESS THE BUTTON."

He did.  I programmed my button.

Ten seconds.

Then it was if the last few weeks of niceness was erased and we were back at the perpetual fight.

Which scares me because I know those stupid passive-aggressive things are what kills marriages.

I generally like my husband.  A lot.  As I've mentioned he's a good kisser, can reach high places (as in the garage door opener) and lift heavy things.  I prefer to stay married.  Divorce seems like a giant pain.  But being perpetually pissed off at someone for breathing funny isn't exactly fun either.

This morning I woke up, checked the market, the weather, my email and then flipped over to Facebook.

The first post I saw was from a very good friend of mine who moved a few years ago.  We were great mommy friends.  We met at Gymboree on Saturday mornings.  We hit it off.  We both had fairly stressful careers and were trying to find a balance.  Our sons are only a few weeks apart.

Her husband, who had a very stressful, high level job, always seemed to make time to be the coach.  Soccer.  T-ball.  You name it.  He ALWAYS stepped up.  He was organized.  Encouraging.  Fantastic.  He was the guy with the least amount of time and you never would have known from the commitment he showed- not just to his son, but to everyone's kid. He spoiled us. 

They had a great house in Vegas.  We spent nearly every weekend in the summer in their pool.  They moved away to have an easier, less stressful life.  To start fresh.  Their jobs were getting to them.  The recession provided a great opportunity for them to reset.  I genuinely miss them.  It took me 2 years to stop picking up the phone to see if she wanted to grab a coffee or go to the park.

Fortunately, we've kept in touch via Facebook.  I think our sons would still be best friends if they lived here.  They camp like we do. They hunt.  They fish.  The both lost a bunch of weight and look amazing.   It looked like the slower life was agreeing with them.

She was the first post that came up on my feed this morning.

Her husband has brain cancer.  They just found out.  He is in surgery as I type.  He has a fight ahead of him.

And suddenly, the garage door opener doesn't seem like such a big deal.