Category Archives: friendship

BABIES OR BULLDOGS?

sleeping dogs and baby

When I turned 40, I stood before my husband, a large box under each arm.
“Pampers or Depends, sweetie, you pick. But one way or another we are heading towards diapers.”

A few years earlier, I had lobbied for French bulldogs.  So cute!  But we already had a dog, not to mention my father’s 23-year-old incontinent cat (we get a lot of incontinent animals), and my husband’s response was…not really printable.

So, I moved onto kids.  That day in Wal-Mart when I showed him our diaper options, I think he was leaning toward Depends. We’ll never know; I started gathering information about adoption the next day.
I had always wanted to adopt. I’m not sure why, but for decades the desire played like background music in my brain. I knew my child was coming to me via adoption. Child. Singular.  Tim agreed to ONE CHILD AND ONE CHILD ONLY, either homegrown or adopted.  And then he wheeled and dealt:  “I will say yes to two French bulldogs instead of one child.”  (He was a little nervous about the parenting gig at that point.)  I don’t blame him.

When we were in our twenties, he wanted two children. We were living in apartments (not very nice ones) at the time, eeking out bad livings as actors/couriers/waitstaff/reception/whatever we could get. When he said he wanted two kids by the time he was thirty, I thought, Suuuurrrrre. As if I’d become a mother under these circumstances. There’s plenty of time for that. Career was still far more important to me than motherhood. I was still far more important to me than motherhood.

And then my own parents died. And my uncle. And my aunt. That left me and my brother. Today is, in fact, the 18th anniversary of my beloved mother’s passing, Z”L (may her memory be a blessing).  At that point, Tim had lived through years of cancer and hospitals and my grieving.  He’d been gentle and strong and present for me, but he was tired.  We both were.  We needed a break and to get our happier lives back.  But when my parents were gone, I was thirty-five, and I realized that being a daughter was one of my favorite things ever. No career could come close to that feeling of unconditional love. I wanted it again, this time on the giving end.

We waited and we talked and we wrestled with the idea of a baby (if you read Carolyn’s last post, you know I do not make decisions easily…although not about clothes, Carolyn.  Please.  Look at my wardrobe.)  Nonetheless, at the ripe old age of 42 and 4o, respectively, Tim and I started the adoption journey.  And magic happened.  The kind of magic I think only God can orchestrate.  Carolyn and I got both got babies, and our lives truly began to intertwine.

–to be continued…

–Wendy

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Filed under Adoption, friendship, parenthood

Before We Were “Too Hot” Mamas

Dad, Libbi and MomCarolyn suggested we tell you all the story of how we met (standing in line for lasagna at a publishing party in Florida), how we discovered we had a lot in common (high anxiety…we are oodles of fun on a plane together), and how, after that first meeting on the opposite side of the country from where we both lived, our lives as writers and mothers began to intertwine in the most wonderful of ways.

I liked reminiscing about it all. Then she said, “Begin with your marriage. That’s how motherhood started.” Yeah, that’s a little harder, because now I have to be honest, and, well…eew.

Being honest about my husband is easy; he’s one of the most transparent people I’ve ever known. But we met when I was twenty-three, and I cannot say that transparency was one of my salient qualities back then.

I grew up hiding—or trying to hide–big chunks of myself. I was a people pleaser, a classic human chameleon. I stumbled into the real me, turning holes in my character into a whole human bit by fumbling bit. And for nearly thirty years now, my beautiful, honest-until-it-hurts husband has ridden shotgun.

When we met, I knew what I wanted in a boyfriend—a sense of humor, intelligence, a creative spark, strength and mystery. (I have no idea what I meant by mystery, and note to my daughters: That is a really asinine trait to look for in a life partner.)  He and I had crossed paths a couple of times. We were both acting in theatre and had been cast in the same plays twice, but either I took the role offered while he turned his down, or vice versa. And then we both auditioned for Of Mice And Men.

He remembers watching me at the audition as I was playing with a little girl in the lobby of the theatre. In that moment, he knew I’d make a great mom someday. Ooookay, here’s where the icky, eewie truth comes in. That little girl was the director’s daughter. I was playing with her because I thought it would score me some points if I was nice to his kid. I DIDN’T WANT KIDS. Well…someday. About ten or twelve years from that night. Maybe fifteen years. Possibly twenty.   It took a lot of time, a lot of tears and a very, very cool plot twist that involved Carolyn to get to the point where we squished that adorable baby in the photo between us.

To be continued on Thursday, because I promised Carolyn I wouldn’t get diarrhea of the keyboard.

Wendy

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Identical Cousins…And Sisters Of The Heart

DSC03559My daughter has lots of cousins.  Because she’s adopted, she’s not related to any of them by blood.  Most of them aren’t related to each other by blood, either.  Blood shmud.  I have girlfriends who are my sisters.  We give each other b-day cards that say so.  I would go to the ends of the earth for them, and they’ve already done the same for me.

Some of the cousins are the children of Tim’s and my blood relations and some are my friends’ kids.  I forget which is which.

When my daughter was five, Carolyn and her kids made a Cousin Adoption Agreement, signed by them all.  They’ve introduced each other as “My cousin” ever since.

…They’re Cousins, Identical Cousins, All The Way…

Recently, my DD (third from the right, above) called in a promise that she could get her ears pierced at age ten.  The night before, she decided to watch a YouTube video of a nine-year-old getting her ears pierced at Claire’s.  Big. Mistake.

“Mom, I’m dizzy,” she said.  The child turned whiter than I am, no joke.  “I can’t do it,” she cried.  “I wanna do it.  I wanna do it sooo bad, but I can’t do it.”

I told Carolyn, and the next day she and all her children were at Claire’s, holding my DD’s hands as she got her ears pierced…and learned that love lends courage.

DSC03563My “sister” Judy just sent beautiful earrings–and these days stays on the phone longer with my daughter than she does with me.

My “sisters” Su and Darla were the first people to greet us–at ten-thirty p.m. in a winter storm–when Tim and I got off the plane from Guatemala with our new baby.  Neither of them lives anywhere near the airport.

“Aunt Terry” and “Aunt Micki” are beloved in our home, their visits eagerly anticipated by all.

Sisters…Cousins…they come in all different colors, from lots of different places.

And thank you, God, for them all.

Who are the sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles of your heart?

Wendy

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I Can’t Find Carolyn

Carolyn has been gone over a week, and despite the laundry list of possibilities that could befall a post-menopausal woman in Uganda without a Starbucks, she seems to be doing fine. 

Better than fine.  I’ve received several e-mailed updates, and, in fact, there are baristas in Uganda, and they make outstanding lattes.  More importantly, Carolyn says that her work with Kuza has been life altering.  Her descriptions of Uganda are riveting.  To learn more about what she’s doing, I decided to Google KUZA.  Here’s what I found:

Apparently, the gentleman above is a musician named Mike Kuza, and I’m pretty sure Carolyn is not with him.  I don’t think we’ll know for sure, however, until she gets home and we check her for new piercings. 

Next, I found KUZA Beauty products.  They have 100% Indian hemp oil and Apricot Body Scrub.  Sounds good, figured I’d buy some, but I still don’t feel closer to Carolyn.  So, I Googled again and found

post4

THAT’S CAROLYN IN THE BLUE SCARF ON THE FAR RIGHT!!!!  Her daughter Maddie is in front of her.

If you want to learn more about this KUZA and what Carolyn and Maddie are doing in Uganda, go here:

http://kuzaprogram.org

What a beautiful, inspiring organization.  I’m sure Carolyn will tell us all about it when she returns. 

She said she feels like a changed woman.  I wonder if she’ll still want to write books?  I wonder if she’ll still be menopausal?

In the meantime, I’m home, cleaning my house, buying school supplies and thinking about adopting from China.

What are you doing with the rest of your summer?

Wendy

 

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“My Bags Are Packed And I’m Ready To Go…”

girl-suitcases-young-woman-retro-style-old-31355831I’m sitting opposite Carolyn as she listens to a travel alert on her computer so she can scare the holy doody out of herself before she heads to Africa to work with Kuza, a fabulous organization that helps young people in Uganda attend college.  Apparently now there is just the slightest chance she could be riddled with bullet holes prior to the trip home.

Here’s what I love about Carolyn:  She is Lucy Ricardo.  I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating:  You say, “Hey, Carolyn, you want to–” and she is signed up, suited up and waiting with the car running before you’ve completed your sentence.  If no one has suggested an adventure in, oh, say the past seventy-two hours, she will surely come up with something.  It will be big.  It will be whacky.  It will require inoculations.

So when she heard about Kuza’s work in Uganda, she said to me, “I’m going to go to Uganda someday.”  She occasionally confuses the words “someday” and “tomorrow.”

She’s already taking medication to ward off malaria and rabid dysentery and has been inoculated for  yellow fever, red fever, pretty much every color of fever known to humankind.  She leaped first.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that we are best buds; it takes me an hour to decide whether to go to Bi-Mart.

I think about things.  A lot.  One might argue “too much,” but at least I am prepared.  Carolyn had no idea how to spell dysentery until I mentioned that I’d Googled it and that she could get it.  Now, I’m sitting across from her as she reads about it.  She’s turning a mite green, but that’s okay; she’s informed. 

I love being Carolyn’s friend.  She’s gets me into all sorts of situations I would never get into on my own.  She’s the reason I nearly got strangled in a Krav Maga class and almost got arrested in a NY subway.  I was with her when she stopped the car to try to break up a street fight in Woodburn.  I have seen her fly across the country to pick up a baby she didn’t know she was going to parent until only a day before, and I’ve watched her enroll her five kids in a school I told her about only that evening.  Split decisions that turn out beautifully are her gift.  So is steadfast friendship.  Should I have the need, I know she would fly to the ends of the earth to accompany me on whatever adventure I get into my head (after a suitable mental incubation period, of course).

She’ll be in Uganda eighteen days if the typhoid doesn’t get her.  I’m going to miss her.  I will have to go on some kind of adventure while she’s gone.  Oh, what the heck: Bi-Mart, here I come.

Safe journey, Carolyn.

–Wendy

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DON’T MESS WITH MAMA

We warned ya

Let me catch you up in case you missed Monday’s post:  Carolyn dragged me to a “trial” Krav Maga (Israeli Street Fighting) class.  She dressed properly; I didn’t. She brought water; I didn’t.  She was paired with a sparring partner who made Gabrielle Reece look like a flabby midget.  I got a cross between Gloria Steinem and Ma Barker, whose periodic lectures on women and power while she knocked me on my can were starting to irk me.

“Time out,” I gasped at one point, partly because I needed to search the floor for my liver after her last blow and partly because I saw that Carolyn was bleeding.  A lot.

“I need to help my friend,” I tossed over my shoulder to Ma, who stood in “ready position.” Let her wait, I thought.  Preferably for the rest of the millennium.

Rushing to Carolyn, who was being patched up by Krav Maga Man, I asked loudly, “ARE YOU OKAY?” thus laying the groundwork for our immediate departure.

She waved me off.  “It’s nothing.  This is great! I’m sweating like a pig.”

Since when do “great” and “sweating like a pig” belong to the same thought group?

Krav Maga Man, who had frowned at me so unequivocally when we’d first arrived, was now smiling real big at Carolyn, who grinned back.  Bonding over her loss of blood.

He gave her the all clear.  “All right, champ, get back in there.”

Glancing at Ma, I saw that she was practicing chest-level kicks, obviously prepared to perform more Crouching Tiger on my butt the moment I returned.

“Carolyn, be my partner!” I whispered desperately, but she didn’t hear me and trotted away.  (For the sake of our friendship, I choose to believe she did not hear me.)

KMM called out new instructions.  I slouched off to get gloves and some big rectangular padded thingies, because apparently now we were going to throw punches at each other’s heads.  Good times.

As I inched reluctantly back to Ma, she inquired, “Would you like to hit me first?”

Oh, Lady.

As she held the rectangular pads up to either side of her face, I understood this to mean I should aim for something other than her nose.

I really did understand that.

I just didn’t care anymore….

 –Wendy

Part Three– “The End”– on Friday…

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Exercise, Fitness, friendship, Humor, Krav Maga

HOW KRAV MAGA IS MAKING A MAN OUT OF ME

Don’t Mess With Bubbie

Carolyn told you a bit about our foray into self-mutilation…whoops, I mean “defense.” She left out a few things.

Remember how in I Love Lucy, Lucy Ricardo would come up with some cockamamie plan and just assume Ethel Mertz would go along with her?  Every couple of episodes, Ethel, bless her heart, would try to grow a backbone and stand her ground.  But Lucy always won.

“Ohhh no, Lucy, count me out of this one.”

“But Ethel—“

“Nothing doing!”

And the next thing you knew, Ethel was standing on the ledge of their apartment building, dressed like a martian.  Well, that’s Carolyn and me.

“Hey,” I said one afternoon when I had obviously lost my mind, “have you heard of Krav Maga?”  (Never, ever EVER ask Carolyn if she’s heard of something.  EVER.  Ever.)

“No.  What is it?”

“Israeli street fighting.  It’s supposed to be a near deadly form of self-defense—  Whom are you calling?“

She had us registered for a trial class in under five minutes.  I am not exaggerating.

“We should at least think about this, Carolyn.  We don’t know these people.  What if they’re not licensed or insured or sane?  We should at least look at the studio first….”

The next day, our local Krav Maga studio –the one with the logo of the snarling bulldog—had three new students.  (Carolyn brought her 14-year-old, star-athlete son.)

The workout/torture room was dreckorated in black and gray, not a whisper of cheerful color.  The instructors and other students were dressed in black and gray, too, as the Krav Maga uniform is part of the registration fee.  Coincidentally, Carolyn had worn black yoga pants and  shirt for our trial class.  I had dressed in jeans and a pink and yellow v-neck “Peace” tee (so cute, really) with hot-pink, lace cami underneath.

Guess who got the look of admiration from Krav Maga Man, the verrrry serious owner of our new home away from home?  He spared me a glance.  “Did you bring water?”

“I don’t want to get hurt!” shot from my lips before I could stop myself.

Krav Maga Man scowled.  “Did you bring water?”

“No.”

Looking disgusted, he walked away.  “What is his problem?” I whispered to Carolyn.  “They didn’t tell us to bring water.  Did you bring water?”  She raised a quart-sized sports bottle.  It was black.

KMM returned with a tiny bottle of Kirkland H2O, which he handed to me.  “Get going, you three.  Class has started.”

I liked the warm up.  My confidence soared, in fact, as I lunged, squatted, tossed in a yoga asana, rolled my shoulders and shadow-boxed.  The nice teacher was smiling at me.  He was smaller, younger, far friendlier than Krav Maga Man.  Let’s call him Mini Krav.

Glancing at Carolyn, who looked sweaty and focused, I grinned.  Self-defense wasn’t so bad.

After teaching us a few lethal punches and kicks, Mini Krav paired us up—men with men and women with women.  Carolyn was partnered with a statuesque 20-something whose muscles appeared to be sculpted from Caesarstone.  After some deliberation, I was matched with a very quiet, much older woman whose loose tee shirt hung past her knees and whose stooped shoulders gave the impression that a trip around the block with her walker might put her into traction.

I’m not going to lie to you people:  My feelings were hurt.  I mean, I work out.  I own FOUR of The Firm DVD’s.   Okay, I haven’t played them much lately, but c’mon.  (That’s all I’ve got, just…c’mon.)

Looking on the bright side, at least I was unlikely to be injured and could help Carolyn get home after Ms. Olympia 2012 took out a kidney.

I smiled encouragingly at my frail partner and graciously held the provided padding, so she could hit me first.  “Don’t be afraid, I’m tougher than I look,” I crooned.  “You can—OWWWWW!”

The old broad didn’t even wait for me to stop speaking!  Just punched me so hard I thought I lost a lung, even with the padding.  Without waiting for me to catch my breath, she pivoted, letting me have it with the other fist while shouting, “MUH!”

“OW!  Sonova–  Hey, lady!”

“Historically, women have been afraid of their full power, so we don’t hold back in class. Do we?”  Her eyes bore into mine and her lips barely moved when she spoke, making her look less Someone’s Grannie and more CIA Assassin.

“Fine, but from here on I’d like to invoke the Marquess of Queensberry rules, so–  Owww-owwww.”  She got me again.  “I was still talking! What is wrong with you?”

“Attackers don’t play by rules, do we women don’t hold back. Do we?”

“Stop asking me that.”

“Practice your kicks!” Mini Krav called above the shouts and groans.

Instantly, I dropped the pads and used the same signal my daughter makes when she’s playing tag, hoping it would translate.  “Time out.  No puppy guarding.”

I looked around for Carolyn and saw her with the owner of the studio.  He had his first-aid kit open as blood was streaming down her hand….

Part Two on Wednesday.

 –Wendy

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Filed under aging, Exercise, Fitness, friendship, Health, Humor, Krav Maga

Rebuttal

Image

Does this look like a killer to you?

Honestly Carolyn,

I have no idea how you managed to turn the incident of YOUR BRAWNY
SON BITING MY DOG into an account of a sweet, formerly abused, still-working-on-his-self-esteem, TOY poodle biting your boy.  That’s low.  Even for you.

Now that we’re back on the blog, I’d like to state for the record that I had no problem with your critique of my book.  None.  Whatsoever.  Come on, I’ve been writing longer than you’ve been blonde; I’m used to critiques.  I can’t help it if Bailey read it, though, and got upset.  He’s very loyal.

As we are a Mom blog and as some folks may take your writing seriously (although personally I’ve never met anyone like that), I want to point out that I would never, ever , EVER harbor a dangerous animal, no matter how few teeth he has left.

Anyway, thanks for watching the dogs.  The kennel cough is almost gone, and I’m sure the nightmares will abate soon.

Your BFF,

Wendy

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We’re Baaaaaack!

Wonder where we’ve been?  Us, too!  The rumors of our break up have rivaled those of the Beatles, and I’m here to assure you, all is well!  Sort of.  Okay, the truth?  I think Wendy’s a bit miffed with me.  It all started about a month ago when she let me have a little peek at her work in progress.  I read it.  I wasn’t bowled over.  I may have been a tad snarky with some of my comments.  Perhaps the Zzzzz’s indicating the places where I’d drifted off to sleep weren’t exactly…helpful.  Or…polite.  Wendy laughingly referred to my remarks as passive aggression.

So, when she had to leave town and wanted to drop her little dog at my house, I thought, sure!  I’m a dog lover.  Bring it on.  For years I’ve looked after her big dog, Autumn, whenever they are on vacation.  Wonderful animal.  Love her.  Don’t really want to give her back when Wendy comes home.

How shall I describe Wendy’s new doggie?  The term Parana comes to mind, but that’s not really fair to the poor, sweet fish.  Wendy arrived, docile pile of poodle in hand, and she, all smiles, assured me that, “Oh, noooo!  Your comments were really helpful!  Wonderful!  Insightful!”  Yeah.  Right. I should have known something was afoot.  Before she drove away, she gave us a few minor warnings about this newest member of her family, “He tends to be a tad grumpy sometimes…Oh, and he loves to run, so be careful not to let him out.”

The burning rubber of her tires hadn’t even stopped smoking as she peeled out of the driveway, before Bailey (aka: Beelzebub) drew blood.  Seemed he didn’t like the idea of a walk and let us know it by taking a chunk out of one of our thumbs.  Screaming ensued and Beelz…er…Bailey’s lips curled back as, snarling and snapping, he treed all of us (my three dogs included) on the dining room table.  Thankfully, my eldest daughter (age 18) took matters in hand by announcing, “I’m not afraid of this bleeping animal.  Come here, you!  I’m alpha dog and you are going outside to the pen!”  She jumped off the table, bravely grabbed the leash and dragged Baily outdoors…where…his head slipped out of the collar and he took off.

More screaming.  A new version of the Incredible Journey was born as Bailey began his 20 mile quest for Wendy’s house.  Luckily, my 3rd daughter, age 13 is not only brave, but fast.  Arms waving like an outboard motor, she managed to head Bailey off at the pass, while daughter number 2, age 15, grabbed a brick of cheese and hefted it into the pen.  “Here, Satan!  We have cheese for you!”  The boys slammed the door and when the dog had finished the cheese, it sneered at us, passed gas, and passed out.  Being a terrorist takes the starch out, it would seem.

When Wendy and her husband, Tim, (who starred on a recent episode of Grimm, by the way) returned, I regaled them with this tale and Wendy seemed appropriately shocked…but she’s nearly as good an actor as her husband.  He on the other hand looked outraged…that we’d managed to catch the dog and bring it safely home.  Apparently he wasn’t very complimentary about Wendy’s latest manuscript, either, and shortly thereafter, she adopted the little dog.  Coincidence?  I think not, Timmy.

Carolyn

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Husbands, Wives And The Pets They Divorce Over

 Carolyn and I have lots in common, as you know.  One big thing:  We lie about pets.

Over the years, the fibbing has multiplied along with the number of four-legged and finned creatures in our homes.

At the time we sold our first books–to the same publisher, for the same line—Carolyn and I also both had beloved dogs that kept us company as we wrote.  She had Bob Barker, a giant golden retriever, as friendly as all get out, and I had my Chauncie, who, despite being given an English butler’s name by her previous owner, was a gentle female collie mix.

When our dear companions passed away, the similarity between Carolyn and me became quite pronounced:  We realized we were both married to the same man.

“Do not get another dog right away,” Carolyn’s husband requested.  “We have kids and bills.  I loved Bob, but let’s take a break.”

I believe that at the exact same moment and in the exact same pleading tone, my man said, “Please wait a year before you bring anything else live into this house.  You know I loved that dog, but the shedding was unbearable.  Let’s leave everything as it is.”

Well.  Naturally, we agreed, because we care about our husbands’ needs, and they had always embraced our pets with love (eventually).  Waiting was the least we could do.

Carolyn waited one week. I held off nine days, which felt like a year.

The other thing Carolyn and I have in common:  We don’t like to grieve.

I contend our husbands must have known, deep down, that “no pets” was a mandate we would rationalize our way around sooner rather than later, because they added admonitions, and you don’t do that if you think the original request is going to be honored.  Right?

Their stipulations were as follows.

From Carolyn’s husband:  Housebroken.  Nothing large.  The dog must be spayed and have celebrated its five-year birthday before its paws cross the threshold.

From my husband:  Under forty pounds.  Housebroken.  No shedding.  Not a barker.  No shedding.  Doesn’t chase cats.  No shedding.  Won’t eat us out of house and home.  No shedding.

Carolyn got a puppy.  Adorable.  A golden retriever like Bob, destined to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as largest golden in history.  Not quite housebroken what with being under ten weeks old and all at the time of his adoption, but he figured out the difference between the Berber carpet and the acre of backyard behind the house.  Eventually.

I went to a local animal rescue.  And because there were no dogs available matching my husband’s requirements, I decided to soothe my grieving heart by volunteering.

Enter Rusty.  A German shepherd-Akita cross who required a place to stay while he recuperated from a leg wound.  Rusty couldn’t “relax,” apparently, with other males around (he was very sensitive), and this hindered his recuperation.  Rusty was a big loverboy in the shelter.  He gave me his tennis ball then rested his forehead against my stomach.  Yes, he was tall and a little bit over forty pounds (approximately sixty pounds over), but how could I turn my back?

“Is he safe with cats?” I asked, heeding at least one of my husband’s requirements.

“Dunno,” they said.

Good enough.

I mean, he was such a sweetheart.  Plus, it was only temporary, and I defy anyone else to guess that Rusty had rage issues….

Part Two Next Thursday.

Wendy

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The Best Dessert You’ll Ever Eat…or The Best Kiss You’ll Ever Have? Take the survey and WIN

 

 

 

 

It’s time for Winning Wednesdays at Too Hot Mamas.

All righty, you’re menopausin’–pre, peri, in it, post, whatever–the point is you’re sweaty, a little ticked off in a permanent way, you’ve got kids, a job, you’re tired, so if you could choose only one of the following, which would it be:

THE BEST DESSERT YOU’LL EVER EAT (what is it?)

OR

THE BEST KISS YOU”LL EVER HAVE? (with whom?)

Reply and we’ll enter you in our bi-weekly drawing for a five-buck STARBUCK’S gift card.

Too Hot Mamas will answer this, too, of course.  We’re an open book.  But we want to hear from you first.

Carolyn and Wendy

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Hot Mamas In New York, part deux. “Hey! We’re Walkin’ Here!”

It is a sad fact that if I’d been head pilgrim, we’d all be huddled around Plymouth Rock to this day.  Actually, that’s not true; we’d simply have stayed put until AAA opened, and I could get them to Triptik the journey west.  I like maps.  I like plans.  I like being CAREFUL.  Carolyn and our travel mates?  Not so much.

Exhibit A.)  Our dear friend Darla, who quickly became pack leader of five women with cameras.  Not only did Darla drive an SUV in NYC, laying on the horn when necessary, she strode around Manhattan like a native, crossing on red lights, skirting Taxis while making sure we were all still with her and hollering, “Hey!  We’re walkin’ heah!” at the traffic.  She was fearless.   And focused.  The rest of us were more easily distracted.   “Herding cats,” I heard her mutter on several occasions as she kept us moving through Times Square.  Thank you, Darla.

Exhibit B.)  Carolyn’s last post re: the subway turnstile issue.  She left out a couple of wee details.  True, the rest of us looked worried as she attempted to hurdle into the subway– because half a dozen NYC residents were hollering, “NO!” at her.  “Carolyn, you can get arrested for that,” someone in our party pointed out.  (I forget who…someone law-abiding.  Su?  Ginger?)

Here’s where Carolyn’s recollection of the situation and mine differ slightly.  She remembers attempting to follow the rules, behaving like the proper small-town wife and mother she is.  “Forgive me, officer, but I must squeeze ever-so-sweetly past your barrier here.”  I remember her responding to the you-could-spend-the-rest-of-your-vacation-behind-bars caution by growling, “Oh yeah?  Well bring it,  NYPD!  Bring it!  I spent my last 2.50 on that ticket; I’m getting on that train.  Hold those doors!!!”

She was intrepid.  She became a New Yorker before my very eyes.  I was so inspired by Carolyn and Darla, I decided that I, too, want to embody that New York state of mind.  Typically, I stand politely in line, await my turn, let others push ahead.  I am my mother’s daughter.  Now I have a young woman of my own to raise.  We put a premium on politeness in our house, but maybe we’re a little too…soft.  Shapeless.  Plus, I’ll be fifty in October; it is high time I become bold.

For my personal NY epiphany, I chose…flippin’ the birdie.   It’s not exactly tearing up Manhattan in a Pathfinder or jumping turnstiles while challenging, “Bring it, NYPD!” but it is a start.   I used the birdie many times–always in our hotel room and always with great zeal.  “Su, baby, you needs the blow dryer?  Well, so do I, here’s a birdie for yuz!”  “Ginger, I’ll take that extra pillow from ya, sugar.  Birdie, birdie, birdie!”  The girls didn’t seem to mind; they realize I have a long way to go.  And, no, I do not intend to teach my eight-year-old the birdie.    But I do hope to lead her through the streets of NYC someday, bold as brass, just like her aunties.

Su, Darla, Ginger, Carolyn–thanks for NY!!!!!

Wendy

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Hot Flash: Too Hot Mama Crime Spree in New York

Turnstile jumper on track 9! Get her, boys! Which way did she go?

 

Did you know that once you swipe your subway turnstile ticket (the wrong way) it won’t let you on the train?  Did you know that if you are traveling with 4 other women to Manhattan and they swipe their tickets correctly, you get to stand outside the bars looking in at them with horror on your face because you just spent your last cash on the tickets and the ticket machines are all temporarily down?

Did you know that you can push the emergency button at the bottom of the subway stairs and a crackling voice, (the subway authority) will come on and say this (while the trains rumble by), “Kkkkkzzzzzttt, your problkkkzzzztttt?”

“Oh, uh, I am not from around here, ha-ha-ha, and uh I don’t understand what I did wrong, but my friends are ready to get on the uptown train and I’m here, with no cash and the machine thingee’s are down and the turnstile won’t let me get to them and I paid, honest!  I’m an upstanding cit…”

Wendy is rolling her eyes.

“Kkkkkzzzzttt, across the street to the zzzzzztttttkkkkk.  Tell themzzzzkkkk and you can…zzzztt…pppbbbbb….ttttt…kkkk. Okayzzz?”

My friends stare helplessly at me.  Not one to buck the system (unless someone is threatening my kids) I point upstairs and mouth, Be back in a sec!  They nod looking various shades of dazed and confused.

I run upstairs and ask the hotdog guy.  “The subway authority told me to come up here and cross the street to complain.  Where?”

“Soorree.  I doo nut no wut u r talking bout.  Ask her.”

His assistant:  “Subway stairs are over there, honey.”

“I know!  You see, I spent my last cash on… I…forget it.”  Back down stairs.  “This is gonna take all day girls.  I did everything I know how to find someone who works here.  There is no one.  So, stand back.  I’m coming in.”

Wendy glances around.  They all looked horrified.  It was a curious mix of fear and embarrassment because my shoe got stuck on the turnstile on the first go ’round and the bar gave me a pretty healthy spanking.  They train those things well.  The second attempt was successful and I’m proud to say I suffered only minor bruises and humiliation.  Happily, I was not arrested.

Carolyn

 

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ROAD TRIP

Start spreading the news...I'm leavin' today...

Wendy and I are hitting the road.  It’s Manhattan or bust, baby.  We’ll be updating you all from the Big Apple, God willing, oy.  We’re taking the red-eye and should be boarding in a matter of hours.  Since both of us have a bit of anxiety when it comes to flying, we will be medicating, hence drooling on each other and snoring in each other’s ears.  I only hope we wake up in time to get off the plane and don’t end up in, you know, Aruba… or…

I’d better pack a swim suit.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, friendship, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, New York, Outdoor school, Writing

Furious R-rated Don’t Read, Pt. 2.

"Make my day, doo-doo head!" This bad boy don't need to cuss.

   Why is it, when you make a decision to rumble with someone, to knock heads (I’m talking Bill Murray’s Ghostbuster rant about “disaster of biblical proportions, old testament, real wrath of God type stuff, fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, rivers and seas boiling, 40 years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria”–okay maybe not that bad), that you end up having to like, I don’t know, sit next to them on a plane, or be their lab partner or neighbor or something? 

Well, that just happened to me.  Remember the kid I was so hot under the collar over several blogs ago entitled Don’t Read, Rated R?  Yup.  Ended up spending a week with him at outdoor school.  (This year, we took on rocks and planets out in Eastern Oregon).

Yes.  I was scared.  I’m guessin’ he was too.

You know that theme from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly that always plays when outlaws are in the middle of a shootout at the O.K. corral?  The one where they squint at each other just before they draw their guns?  Here.  I’ll try a few bars for you:  Doo-doo-doo-doloo, Bah Wah, Wah. Doo-doo-doo-doloo, Bah Wah, WAH!  A big old ball of sage brush rolls by?  Yeah.  That song. 

It’s playing as I get on the bus, where I had to spend the next four solid hours.  And just who do you suppose is the first person I see?  The cussing eighth-grade rap-artist!  He was already seated.  The last empty seat was within spitting distance.  We eyeballed each other, brows a’see-sawin’.  Who was gonna draw first?  As I strolled down the aisle, we never broke eye-contact.  Didn’t smile.  Didn’t speak.  Slid into my seat.  Pulled down the brim of my hat.

Days passed.  Bumped into him every time I turned around.  I didn’t mention the obscene ballad to his mother he posted on Facebook.  He didn’t mention my vitriolic response.

I carry candy.  Lots of candy.  Especially when I’m forced into confined spaces with hormone-crazed middle-schoolers.  One blazing hot afternoon, he was hungry.  I had candy.  He wanted some.  I gave him some.  He said, “I love you!”  I said, “I love you, too.”

I think I got my point across.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Clint Eastwood, Cussing, friendship, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Outdoor school, parenthood, please and thank you, politeness, The Bad and the Ugly, Travel, Young Love

Life Is Hard. Now Go Play.

Here at Too Hot Mamas, Carolyn and I have ever-so-humbly dubbed ourselves the Lucy and Ethel of Menopausal Motherhood.  (If you had any idea how many whacked-out schemes for one thing or another my blog mate comes up with on a near daily basis, you, too, would suspect Lucille Ball of staging a walk-in.)

But Carolyn is in Central Oregon roughing it with her kids’ school, and I…well, dear reader, I am not feeling funny today.  Hey, I can laugh at a toothache, but as my hilarious Great Uncle Henry used to say, “Some things ain’t funny, Magee.”

My last blog touched on the extraordinary grace under fire of one of our neighbors.  Since then the nasty stuff hit the fan in another neighbor’s life when she awoke to an intruder who assaulted her, brutally, in her home.  The police caught the guy, but will the judicial system keep him off the streets?  Will she find the peace that defies understanding and feel safe in her home again, or out of it?  Will the children who usually run up and down our block as if it’s Mayberry be allowed to play as freely this summer?

And then, on Tuesday, I went to juvenile court to support a friend who has raised her granddaughter since the child was born while her parents struggled with meth, domestic violence and parole violations.  For five years, this grandmother’s refrain regarding her granddaughter has been, “If I do my job well, she won’t realize [how much chaos and fighting surrounds her].”  Being the eye in the storm can’t have been easy, but the five-year-old is a happy, stable child, as innocent as she should be at her age.

Juvenile court—whew.  Stay out of there, if you can.  For what was probably no more than thirty or forty minutes (but seemed like hours)—we watched this lovely five-year-old’s fate be tossed about by a bunch of lawyers whose chief agenda appeared to be Don’t Bother-Me-With-The-Facts-I-Have-A-Case-To-Win.  I watched my friend attacked as the wicked interloper instead of thanked for her love and devotion.  Yeah, so much for that pesky commandment about honoring our parents.

My Uncle Henry had a tough life.  Thirty-five major operations beginning at age three, cancer more times than I can count, heart disease, went blind for a time, broke his back, yadda yadda.  None of his siblings made it much past sixty.  When Uncle Henry was ninety, a waitress (he loved to eat out) asked him if he’d lived in Los Angeles all his life.  “Not yet,” he deadpanned.

Uncle Henry was the happiest person I’ve ever known.  Like any Jewish fellow worth his salt, he knew how to grieve heartily, how to bemoan the fact that bad things happened to good people.  He was not shy about asking, “Why?”  But he had a philosophy of life that was as much a part of him as his brown eyes, and he taught it to us in everything he said and everything he did:  Life is hard, kinderle.  Now go play. 

A mother dies, leaving three young children….  A woman is attacked in her home in the quiet area she trusted….  A little girl may lose the only stability she has ever known and face an uncertain future….

Life is hard.  Sometimes it’s bitterly hard.  But in the midst of it all, there are people willing to be God’s hands here on earth.  On Sunday night, eighty people gathered around the home of the young mother who lay dying on her forty-third birthday.  With candles lit and their voices raised so she, her husband and children would hear them inside the house, they sang Happy Birthday.

Life is hard.  Now go play.

Wendy

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Live Like You Were Dying

Today is Sarah Bach’s 43rd birthday.  Yesterday she was given the last rites after a year-long battle with metastatic melanoma.  A battle that appears to have been grueling and filled with extraordinary grace.  I don’t know Sarah, though I have met her husband and kids a couple of times.  I’ve thought about her every day, though, for months.  Often several times a day, because of the ribbons.  Giant, happy-looking orange ribbons that circle the broad trunks of trees, the thin branches of azalea bushes and posts of mail boxes throughout our neighborhood.  If you live where I do, you know who Sarah Bach is even if you’ve never laid eyes on her.  You know, and your life has been changed.

Sarah is a mother with three young children and an adoring husband who thinks the world of her.  I doubt I’ll ever write a novel about a romance as real and eternal as the one Sarah and her husband have written this past year.

Their family is devoutly Catholic, blessed with a grace that has carried them through disappointment after disappointment as each new treatment failed to halt the progression of her cancer.  Together, last Wednesday, they told their children she was dying.  To me, the situation seems utterly wrong.  Unfair.  Horrible.  Tragic.  I know plenty of people who didn’t take care of themselves and healed.  We all do.  The photos I’ve seen of Sarah before she became ill show a gorgeous woman who is fit and vibrant.  Sarah had a legion of people praying for her.  And yet she’s leaving three elementary-age children.

Her husband and friends tied ribbons around the trees and then a local market began selling them.  More ribbons popped up throughout the neighborhood.  They reminded me to pray every day.  They reminded me it’s possible to care deeply about people we’ve never met and that no matter who we are or where we’re from, we’re all riding the same bus.  Every step outside my house is a visual reminder that communities grow when imperfect strangers become perfectly caring.

In the neighborhood, our children began asking about Mrs. Bach, her illness and whether she would die.  We had conversations with our kids we hoped not to have for a long time; conversations that blessed us and, I believe, them.

It is so easy to trust when life feels like a cleanly cut puzzle, one piece fitting neatly next to its neighbor.  I suppose the deepest trust, the richest faith, the one that works, is honed when it is tested, when we can somehow cry out, “It’s not fair!” and “Thank You,” in the same prayerful breath.

I hope Sara Bach won’t mind that some lady she never met is writing about her.   She’s part of my life now and, I hope, part of yours.  You can read Sarah’s Journey “Fight Like A Girl” on http://www.caringbridge.org/story_bach.  I hope you’ll read it.  And her husband’s blog entry on June 4th.  http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/sarahbach  Let their story change your life.  We prayed for one kind of miracle and got another as we discovered we are all each other’s angels.

Wendy

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Cat Fight–The REAL Story

Here’s what really happened.  Four of us meet for breakfast to talk about a writer’s conference trip we are all taking to New York this summer to land agents and fabulous book and movie deals on our fascinating and hilarious lives as romance novelists/mothers/wives/slash/hacks/dog owners and, you know, a couple of other projects we’ve got stashed under the bed that we’re gonna take out and dust off and turn into gold. 

Wendy is late, as usual.  Don’t get me started.  Anyway, she comes skidding in to the restaurant, drops to into her chair, snaps her fingers for the ‘girl’ then goes off on her wrinkle jag, which we all know is a bid for attention.  The woman is adorable.  I don’t get the whole, “Oh, look at my teensy wrinkle and feel sorry for me,” deal.  But we have to humor her.  “Yeah, yeah, Wendy.  What are ya gonna do about the grand canyons on your face today?”  Furtive eye-rolling behind the menu.

In fact, while she was blathering on about the wrinkle thing, I snapped a pic of her with my phone, just to prove my point.

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wait… I got it here somewhere…

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Oh.  Yeah.  Here.  Now.  I ask you.  Is this a face or is this a face?  I just want to gobble her up.

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"Clinique has this AMAZING new product that they claim firms and tightens..."

 

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Over coffee (we’ve migrated to Starbucks by now) the four of us figure out all the details of our trip to the eastern seaboard and decide to ditch the writer’s meeting we’d planned on attending that morning in Portland and hit the mall instead. 

Wendy was still nattering about this miracle stuff she was going to spend waaaaaay too much money on and I wanted to find some pants that would make me look 40 lbs. lighter.

As I was off looking for “skinny jeans” (sheyeah, what a crock) Wendy gave us the slip.  We finally found her seated in the chair behind the Clinique counter getting her upper lip spackled.  Okay.  I get it now.  The whole wrinkle cream gig isn’t about fixing your wrinkles.  No.  Oprah, are you listening, because this is the real SECRET.  Wrinkle cream IS NOT about ‘fixing a problem’.  It’s about ‘confusing the eye’.  It’s about slathering a whole bunch of gummy stuff on your lip and telling you that your wrinkles are gone and then charging you $174 + tax. 

Wendy, I’m only gonna say this once.  “The emperor has no clothes!  B-U-C-K Naked!

Of course your friends are going to tell you that the flaky, chalky, goofy crud on your upper lip looks great because we love you. 

"I can't nove ny lits cuz this stuff is sooter hard!"

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Truth be told, we simply had no where else to look.  We had to avert our eyes.  That’s why no one noticed wrinkles.  A person can’t see when they’re all squinty-eyed and cringing. 

Carolyn

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GIRL FIGHT

I got into a little scuffle with some of my dearest friends this past weekend, and I’d like us to publicly kiss and make up.

Here’s what happened:  Next month Carolyn and I are heading to New York with our friends Su, Darla and Ginger.  It’s going to be part business, part Thelma and Louise road trip sans most of the crime.  Last Saturday four of us met to work out the details and to hit the mall to pick up essentials.  The problem began at breakfast.  I arrived with wild hair and the bare minimum of makeup (I’m working on embracing the real me, remember).

They arrived beautiful.  I mean, just fabulous.  Hair freshly cut and colored, their makeup perfect, not a damn line on any of their post-menopausal-yet-dewy faces.  And it was only 8:30 in the morning.  I feel so happy that they are aging beautifully.  Really, I do.  I mean, I love these women.  But by the time my tea arrived, I was thinking about the ads I’ve been seeing for an Origins wrinkle eraser.  You get 83% of the effect of the injectables I refuse to use because I’m so self-actualized.

So, off we go to the mall and there it is—the wrinkle eraser.  A lovely 46-year-old (we asked) saleswoman with not a line on her kisser offers us samples.  Tiny little samples.  Well, looking at this saleswoman and at my friends, I begin to feel my self-actualization slipping southward.  I mean, it’d be just as easy to embrace myself with 83% of my fine lines and wrinkles softened a little, right?  So…

I took my tiny sample and my friends’ samples, too.  They don’t need them. 

 They got so upset.  They asked me if I’d let my daughter take her friends’ gifts.  Well, yes, I would in a case like this.  It would show discernment.  And, she’d be saving them from putting unnecessary chemicals in their pores.  But they grabbed their little packets back (rather forcefully, I’d say), and a brief physical skirmish in front of the Origins counter ensued.  Our saleslady and two of her coworkers suggested we stop it.

We haven’t really discussed the incident since, but I’ve been mulling it over, and I think we should make up right here, right now.

So apologize, girls.  And then gimme back my wrinkle erasers!!!!

Wendy

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Filed under BOTOX, friendship, Humor, Menopause, wrinkle erasers, wrinkles