Tag Archives: parenting

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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Middle School and Menopause

Whaddya get for Valentine’s Day?  I got a Renuzit Air Freshener, lavender-vanilla scent, from my 12-year-old.

According to Renuzit, “Lavender & Vanilla is the perfect scent to fill your bedroom, or any room in your home that is your tranquil haven.”

Awesome.  Just one problem: There no longer is a room in our house that is a tranquil haven, BECAUSE I HAVE A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD.  The child I have loved, liked, adored beyond all reason is now a middle schooler with this super power:  At one hundred paces, she can make her dad’s and my heads explode with the force of an M67 grenade.  Just by glaring at us.  This child who mere weeks ago prompted me to describe her as a big squishy heart with arms and legs, could now more accurately be likened to Rambo–with permanent PMS.

Yeah, you don’t want to cross her.  If you’re her parent, that is.  Her teachers continue to describe her as “darling…so sweet…what a dolly….”  And her new friends tell me, “We love her.  We LOVE her.  She’s so funny and SWEET.”

‘Kay.

This is what comes of waiting to become a mother:  Instead of the 30-year-old who would be calling right now to see if I’d like to sip a latte while we watch my grand kids make kissy faces at the warty pigs in the zoo, I am living in a zoo.  I can’t tell if I’m having hot flashes or my blood pressure has risen to a stroke-producing high.   Probably both.

I wish I could call my mother and apologize, but she passed away before Karma began to have its way with me.

Ah well, at least daughter No 2 is only six.  By the time she’s going through pre-adolescent psychosis, my husband and I will be too addled to realize it.  That’s one of the bennies of being an older parent–a total break from reality just when you need it (or, the wisdom to fake it).

Good luck to all you menopausal middle-school mamas out there.  Let us know how you’re dealing with it.

–Wendy

 

 

 

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children

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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How Dumpster Kitty Made Me Fall In Love (Again…and again)

On October 29, 2013 our sweet Phoebe passed away…looking at Tim as she fell asleep, just like always.

In her honor, I’m reprising this article.  Thank you, Phoebe.

How Dumpster Kitty Helped Me Fall In Love (Again)

Once a Dumpster Kitty, now a Daddy’s Girl

 

            In a world of cat and dog people, I am both.  Marrying a man who loves animals was a no-brainer (and the inability to become absurdly besotted by four-legged children was a deal-breaker).  When I was twenty-three and met a man who was willing to carry a wounded bird two miles back to our house so we could call a vet and who took it upon himself to drive an especially huge black widow spider twenty miles outside of town so it could live out its life in a field, well…  Yes, Reader, I married him.

And then life happened.

When we were in our thirties, my husband helped me care for my terminally-ill father, three rescue dogs and my father’s twenty-two-year-old cat that regularly awakened us at six a.m. with ear-piercing howls to demand moist food and decided that the stroll to the litter box was too much bother, but that the bathroom cabinets would do nicely when he needed to relieve his pinhead of a bladder.  During a drive to the vet, Snowflake was on my lap, unfortunately facing my husband when he projectile vomited like I have never witnessed before or since.  Poor kitty.  Poor husband.

It’s understandable, I suppose, that Tim decided to take a hiatus from all dependent creatures at that point:  “You can have dogs and cats if you want to, but please do not involve me.  I’m done.  I’m not kidding.”

I was disturbed.  I was disappointed.  I was totally disbelieving that he meant what he said.  On the other hand, I, too, wanted a break from litter boxes and incontinent animals and things that could die and break your heart.

We still had a beloved dog, but decided No More Cats. Seriously. And, since I had adopted the dog, we’d consider her my responsibility.  Tim would be as free as that bird he’d rescued all those years ago.

And then came Dumpster Kitty.

DK lived in the basement apartment of the house next door.  Our neighbors there found her in a trash can and brought her home, but she was frightened of their cat (and of everything else animal, vegetable or mineral), so she spent most of her time alone under the stairs.  She was especially afraid of men.  When the couple who found her split up and the woman moved out, DK relocated herself outside to an area beneath the porch–in November, during a series of thunderstorms.  She emerged only to eat, darting out from her hiding place, her belly so low to the ground that her “run” looked more like a slither.

“I feel terrible for that cat,” my husband said.

“Well,” I offered, “the neighbor doesn’t really want her.  Do you—“

“NO.”

I hear ya.

When our neighbor went away for a few days and asked me to put our food for DK, I tried to befriend her, but she was simply too frightened.  I gave up.

One day, when I pulled up to the house after work, I saw my husband crouched on our front porch in a torrential downpour.  He was wearing a coat and there appeared to be something other than my husband inside it.

“What are you doing out here?” I called above the pounding rain.

“Shh!  You’ll scare her.”

Dumpster Kitty was huddled on his lap, her huge green eyes staring up at his face, one paw extending lovingly toward his chin.

“How long did it take you to get her to come to you?” I asked in amazement.

“Two hours.”

“In this downpour?”

He nodded, gazing as sweetly at the cat as she was gazing at him.  “She’s very gentle,” he murmured.  “We’ll need to take her to the vet.”

Dumpster Kitty was a year old then.  She’s twelve now, renamed “Phoebe.”  Our friends call her “Invisa-cat,” as she still has a tendency to hide and few people outside the family have made her acquaintance.  She is, however, quite the cuddler with us.  And her favorite place is still Tim’s lap.

Gotta love that guy.

Wendy

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The Road Home

man-walking-down-country-road-29683842It’s Yom Kippur.  The destination, if you will, of a trip that begins with Rosh Hashana.  What a great holiday!

If you’re familiar with the Twelve Steps, the days from Rosh Hashana to Yom Kippur are like doing steps 4-9: taking a moral inventory of oneself (we don’t get to inventory anyone else; bummer), admitting our mistakes–especially the ones we keep repeating, making amends to the humans we have harmed and, finally, re-turning to God.  Because, let’s face it, most of us turn away from what is right, sometimes several times a day, and as a result we feel fractioned.  Our destination on Yom Kippur is that sense of wholeness, home.  Returning to God, Whom, we discover, has been there all the time, waiting.

The Yom Kippur prayers are beautiful.  So many of them tell us that we are human, with human traits that are both positive and negative.  We do not expect to levitate  above our humanity; we’ll be here again next year, God willing, asking for forgiveness for mistakes we have made, vows we have broken, potential that went unfulfilled.  But hopefully we will have done better.  We will have consciously tried, anyway.

Perhaps the best part of this process is that we do it together, as a community of souls.  Saying the prayers together is a reminder that no one is any better or worse than her neighbor–of any faith, race, gender, sexual orientation, et al.  If we’ve turned away, we make the decision to turn back.  And God will accept us again…still…in our brokenness and our beauty.

Parenting at its best.

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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Change A Life–Yours

For several months, I’ve been mentoring a young boy who is in relative foster care.  More on that in a future blog, but for now, I want to say simply that working with an “older” kiddo has been one of the most profound and moving experiences of my life.  He understands exactly how precious a family and/or mentor relationship can be and his gratitude for the time we spend together is matched only by mine.

If you want to grow your heart and spirit in ways you may never have imagined, MENTOR a youth in foster care.  It may take as little as four hours a month or as much time as you and your mentee choose to spend together.  There are some wonderful organizations like Big Brothers, Big Sisters to guide you.

Here in Oregon, we have Christian Family Adoptions and A Family For Every Child–both these adoption agencies have mentor programs and are eager to hear from adults who want to learn more about mentoring.

Most of you probably already know that Carolyn and I are adoptive mothers, so I want to touch a bit on adoption today, too.  Every now again, we’re going to start featuring on the blog kids who might age out of the system with no family unless someone steps forward to make a connection.  More details and statistics, too, in a future post regarding what happens when kids age out without a stable adult in their lives (unfortunately, it won’t be funny).

For now, there is a young man in China, who is about to age out of the  system there, which allows for adoption only until the age of 14.   He is blessed with a great foster mother.  He needs a permanent one.  

“Jordan’s” video grabbed my heart.  Take a look and see if he grabs yours, too:   http://coleman-bunkbeds.blogspot.com

Do you know anyone who might want a fantastic son?  If so, share the link.

Lot of love,

–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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Dating in Low Heels

kids datingMy ten-year-old is dating.  I found out by eavesdropping on the following conversation:

DD to her friends:  “Who are you all asking to the carnival, because I’m going with Z.  I have to buy the licorice, but he’s getting the cotton candy.  I had to give him a chicken nugget to get him to go, but now it’s for sure.”

Two other girls made immediate plans to give their crushes lunch at the earliest opportunity.

Say what?  It seems that just yesterday my daughter felt no need for a Ken doll to hang out with her Barbies:  “What for?  What’s he gonna do?”

Indeed.

Then she turned ten this past spring.  Ah, spring.  Such a ripe season, with little goslings following Mama and Daddy Goose on the pond near our house, rhodies bursting into bloom…and the girls from fourth grade quite suddenly figuring out why Barbie wants Ken.

One girlfriend, however, had a different take on the situation.  She sounded frankly appalled.  “You can’t invite a boy.  That’s called dating, and that is not allowed.  You’re too young to go on a date.”

Peer-driven mandates do not sit well with Miss, so she plopped her hands on her still boyish hips, whipping back, “I can, too, date.  I’m old enough.  I’m allowed.”

(Note to reader: Uh-uh.)

Anxiety clutched my chest as I listened.  I’d been counting on the tween years to start around eleven or twelve or, better yet, forty.  I needed more time before I relinquished my baby and all her innocence to the likes of Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.

I wonder if the Berenstain Bears have a book about dating? I thought as I prepared to step in with as much good humor as I could muster.

Before I entered the room, however, I heard my daughter’s voice again, this time tinged by a modicum of doubt.  “I can date….”  There was a pause followed by this conclusion:  “I’m not allowed to eat too much junk food, but I can date if I want to.”

Indeed.

As it turned out, she did go to the carnival with Z—and her friends.  More on that next week….

For now, sign me:  ‘Tween Mom

–Wendy

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Culture Club

My daughter and husband can entertain themselves and each other for hours playing “Snakebite!”  It goes like this: With their arms raised, hands curved like the heads of a King Cobra, they circle each other in search of a vulnerable spot to attack.  Head, ribs, stomach–when they find an opening, they strike, hollering, “Snakebite!  Poisonous forever!”  Good times.

We used to watch the History Channel.  Lately Wipe Out has become the TV show of choice.  And, yes, occasionally I pull The Bachelorette up on Hulu when no one is around.  (But only because I’m a romance novelist and I have to research.)

Thinking we could elevate our entertainment tastes just a tad, I got us tickets to a piano concert.  It was inspired.  What a fabulous event!  There was singing, too.  Glorious singing by celestial children with voices that made me weep.  As the show ended and the crowd filed out, the three of us–husband, daughter and I–sat, staring at the now empty stage.  On either side of me, they were silent, their jaws slack.

It worked, I realized.  We’re reborn.  Today piano concerts, tomorrow the ballet! 

Turning first to my daughter, I kissed her temple.  “How you doing, dolly?”

“I think I had a seizure,” she said, shaking her head as if she had water in her ear.  “I totally zoned out.  What just happened?  How much time passed?  Can we go?”

She’s ten, I told myself.  Ten.  She may not be conscious of the enrichment she has just experienced, but it will linger.  It will feed her for the future.

I looked at my husband.  He’s the kind of guy who likes to move.  All the time.  Yet there he was, sitting, still staring at the stage that had just held such beauty.  And he didn’t look like he’d had a seizure.  I took his hand and squeezed. He squeezed back, an excellent sign.

“What are you thinking?” I whispered, remembering the old days when we’d attend the theater and talk for hours afterward.  “Your first thought.”

“I’m trying to decide between hamburgers or Mexican food.  We’re going to stay downtown for lunch, right?”

I’m not kidding.  That’s what he said.

“Mexican,” I responded flatly, hoping we could discuss Dia de los Muertos or something cultural over Super Burritos.

I tried.  But I tried to instill us with table manners, too, and that got me nowhere.  Last night, they used their forks to tap out “Yankee Doodle” on their dinner plates.  At least it was musical.

Wendy

 

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Size IS Everything

ImageWhen it comes to body image, boys are from Mars and…well, so are girls.  Or maybe they’re both from Venus, I don’t know.   

 When my daughter was five, she refused to wear her puffy red coat, because another five-year-old said it made her look fat.  Miss E was a far cry from “fat.”  At almost nine, she still weighs in at only 55 pounds, and that’s solid muscle.  If I had her booty, I’d be so proud I’d wear a thong to the supermarket. 

But I digress (and have probably caused you to regurgitate a little.)  My point is:  How did “fat” get to be a bad word in kindergarten?

 It starts young, this body image business. Even with boys, although they apparently have a different concern about size.

 This week, a friend of mine watched her four-year-old son get bumped—hard–in the family jewels.  She ran over to give him a hug.

 “Honey, are you okay?”  Buried against the comfort of his mother’s bosom, he shook his head.  “Awww,” she crooned, rocking him.  “Did you hurt your little penis?”

 The crying ceased. 

He reared his head back and stared at her, outrage shining from wide liquid eyes.  “It’s not little.” 

 Mom wisely interpreted this as one of those seminal moments when she would either hit on the right response or have to switch the 529 to a therapy fund. 

  “Oh no. Right,” she said.  “No.  I mean… It’s exactly the right size for you.”  She looked up at her friends, who all began nodding. 

 “Absolutely.”

 “You bet.”

 “A-plus, buddy.”

 Who knew you had to start reassuring them that early?

 Dontcha know some woman is going to have to go through that all over again when he’s fifty?

 –Wendy

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The Face(s) of Sixty

Multiple Choice

Pop Quiz:  What does 60 look like?

Still thinking?  Of course you are; it’s a trick question.  Nobody knows, because so few people have the chutzpah to age these days.  So who looks better–Cher, Diane Keaton or Joan Van Ark?

My husband was torn between Cher and Diane Keaton.  Not I.  For me, it’s Diane by a mile.  I look at her face and see a woman who has spent more time parenting her kids, taking photos, pondering the world and her place in it and making thoughtful movies than running to a plastic surgeon.  I see a woman with the guts to be fully herself and to challenge Hollywood to respect a woman over fifty.  Better yet, to simply acknowledge that there are women over fifty.

No wonder poor George Clooney is so confused about who his peer group is.

Thank you, Diane.  And a big shout out to Annette Bening and Jacqueline Bisset, too.

Wendy

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HOW TO PICK YOUR HUSBAND

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of late, my 8-year-old has been giving a lot of thought to marriage—and more specifically, to finding a husband. To wit: When her friend turned down several snack options in a row, El sought me out.

“Mom, she is a PICKY eater.  She’s going to have trouble getting a husband if she eats like that.”

And later:  “I think it would be good to know geometry before you try to get a husband, because…” She pondered.  “Because then you’d both know it.”

Right-o.  I mean, I’m not sure that both people knowing the difference between an acute and an obtuse triangle would qualify as being “equally yoked,” but it couldn’t hurt.

El’s musings got me thinking.  I watch The Bachelor, I admit it.  And, yes, I disrespect myself in the morning, but I am fascinated by what young women and men assume will make a relationship work.  Two minutes into meeting the prize—AKA, the bachelor—beautiful, seemingly bright women are passionately kissing this virtual stranger and claiming they’re sure he’s the one.  By the end of the evening, these same girls are sobbing inconsolably, because the bachelor has given their coveted rose to somebody else

Well, duh.

To all past, current, and future ABC bachelorettes:  I’m going to give you a little advice, and you should take it, because I’m a romance novelist, and I know about happily ever afters.

When you meet someone you consider forever-after material, keep your lips clamped unless you are opening your mouth to talk.  To talk, ladies.  You will not know he’s the one for you simply because you feel goose-pimply after he kisses you and fifteen other girls at an alcohol-soaked cocktail party.  (I’d feel goose pimply, too.  Eew.)  This is romance 101: Save your kisses for someone who’s kissing only you.

From now on, I want you to heed the wisdom of my 8-year-old:  At the very least, find out if you both like geometry before you begin doodling your name together with his on a cocktail napkin.

I tell my daughter all the time, “Marry your best friend.”  At the moment she’s taking me literally and is considering walking down the aisle with one of her girlfriends.  “’Cause we talk about everything, and we could share the same wedding dress, and wedding dresses are very expensive, Mom.’”

I question the practicality of two women and one dress in the same wedding, but I appreciate that she’s budget-minded and, for the moment at least, wise enough to want to spend her life with someone she knows, likes and respects.

As for The Bachelor/ette, Too Hot Mamas must send the show to the front of its Doody Head line asap.  Of course, I suppose I have to walk it there myself.

Wendy

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Ben & Jerry Drop The (Schweddy) Ball

Recently a good friend gave our daughter a generous Groupon coupon to Ben & Jerry’s, so after Christmas we trooped to our local store, where the trees out front were still festooned with twinkly lights.  I ask you:  Could any outing say “family” more than a winter trek for ice cream, the kids giggling inside their hooded coats, swearing they can eat two waffle cones each despite the frigid weather?

This is just like It’s A Wonderful Life, I thought, grinning as we approached the door.  On the glass was a big sign advertising their newest flavor.

Nice work, B & J.  Care to explain your latest creation to a few curious nine-year-olds?  Yeah, me either—especially to the ones who aren’t mine.

Pretending I needed to use the entire right side of my body to shove the door open, I blocked the sign as best I could and started brainstorming an excuse to stand in front of it on the way out.  It’s not that I’m prudish…’kay, maybe I am, because after we got into the store and I saw the sign below the cash register, on the glass above the ice cream case and behind the counter, I felt a hot flash coming on—the kind that accompanies a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

What does Too Hot Mamas have to do to teach you folks some manners, Ben?  Jerry?  Dudes! Did you even read my blog about farting at the dinner table? Ah, never mind, you boys probably get a kick out of that sort of thing.

My husband, you will be happy to know, has been singing a little ditty about your ice cream flavor, set to the tune “Lonely Is The Man Without Love,” ever since our trip to your store.

Listen, I know you’re not going to take down a few thousand signs across the nation, because one mother in Oregon questions your sensibilities.  But, if you’re going to hawk Schweddy Balls in front of impressionable youths, then how about giving equal time to your menopausal friends?  We could use the media attention.

On that note, I’d like to see a flavor called Droopy Booby.  Perhaps vanilla ice cream, overripe peaches, maybe a few Jelly Bellies?  We hot mamas are buying as much of your product as anyone else.  Probably more since we like ice-cold treats in the depth of winter to counter those hot flashes.

Think about it, fellas.  Droopy Booby could increase sales among the senior crowd and spark insightful conversations about body image.  How many insightful conversations do you think you’ve elicited with that other flavor?

Be the change you want to see, Ben and Jerry.  We’re counting on you.

Wendy

7 Comments

Filed under Bathroom Humor, Humor, manners

DUDE, THAT’S RUDE!

In an ongoing effort to transform our dinner table from a trough to a haven of grace and civilization, I recently purchased the books DUDE, THAT’S RUDE and TABLE MANNERS FOR KIDS (of all ages).

When gas is released during the meal and elicits cackles of hyena-like laughter from all present (except me, and kindly do not refer me to Walter, The Farting Dog; I’m not gonna laugh at flatulence when I have slaved over lasagna Florentine)…well, that’s when I think we’ve gone too far.

I decided to read aloud from DUDE over a dinner of spaghetti marinara.  I chose that entrée deliberately as our spaghetti feeds typically resemble the Brown Derby scene in I Love Lucy, wherein Lucy tries to manage giant balls of pasta or endeavors to suck up endless strands, and Ethel resorts to snipping the noodles with a pair of scissors.

With the book as a guide, I modeled twirling a manageable forkful lightly against my spoon.  Twirling—that’s fun for kids, right?

Apparently not.

“I can’t do it,” my daughter complained, letting her fork clatter to her plate.  “Not to be rude, but I don’t like spaghetti anyway.  May I be excused?”

“Of course not!  We just started eating.”

Tim patted her on the arm.  “Mom doesn’t want you to take a huge mouthful, that’s all.  Here, try this.”  He forked up a couple of strands, puckered and inhaled—with agonizingly slow glee—so that the spaghetti looked like live worms, attempting to wriggle away and splattering marinara along the way.  Now our daughter liked spaghetti.

I kicked him under the table.  “Let’s work on our napkins.  They should be placed on our laps–”

“I don’t have a napkin,” dear child pointed out, searching around her placemat.  “You never give us any.”

“All right.”  I got up, scrounged in a drawer and slapped a few wrinkled napkins on the table.  “From now on we’re using napkins, and they should be placed on our laps.”

My husband wiped his mouth delicately then tucked his napkin under his plate.

“Your lap,” I reiterated.

“It’s easier to get to this way.  You don’t have to reach below the table.”  He demonstrated.  “Besides, did you notice how I raised my pinkie when I wiped my mouth?”

He and our daughter proceeded to entertain each other by seeing who could keep their pinkies raised longest while performing various tasks, most of them not dinner related.  I felt a different finger trying to rise, but that would have been rude, so I practiced not speaking with my mouth full.

Flatulence and cackles followed.

It may look like I’m defeated, but I’m not giving up on those books or on us.  And if you think I’m being a stickler, invite my family to dinner sometime.  You’ll thank me.

Wendy

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Filed under Bathroom Humor, Children, Humor, Marriage, Motherhood, parenthood

A Fish Tale. The End.

You learn a lot about people when they are grieving for a fish.

After one-and-a-half years, at least nine lives and more medicine than I have ingested in fifty years on this planet, our betta, Bluestar, has gone to his reward.

When I say “our betta,” I mean, of course, the bowl-housed betta for which my daughter begged and pleaded and, not unpredictably, swiftly pronounced “kinda boring,” thereby bequeathing his care to my husband and me.  We thought he was neat-o.

Bluestar’s passing was not unexpected.  We had anticipated this moment for six months, which was when Bluey began to perfect his dead fish float.  Tim or I would wake up and shuffle to his bowl to feed him, only to find our blue-finned friend lying motionless on his side near his heater.  We’d gather the family around the bowl, say a prayer and plan the funeral.  Before we could decide which spot in the yard was most suitable for his final resting place, however, Blue would leap from his coma, take a crazed victory lap around the bowl and come to stare at us, his fins fluttering in what appeared to be piscine glee.

“Hey, lookit me!  Didn’t I look like a dead fish? Didn’t  I? Hahahaha!  So what’s a guy got to do to get a meal around here?”

As the months went on and Blue’s impersonation of Dead Mr. Limpet began to last longer and longer, he was less able to wring sympathy from his mourners.  Some of them, anyway.  Tim decided to hold his tears until we figured out a way to take a fish’s vitals, though he must be credited for continuing to search for new and better fish medications.

Carolyn, to whom I have turned for consolation and advice innumerable times in our long and enduring friendship is, I am sorry to say, crap at comforting the bereaved when they are grieving a fish.  Oh, yes you are, Carolyn.

Her kids had fish for years, and she gave Bluestar two of his favorite toys, so naturally I would appeal to her in times of concern:  “I think Bluestar is sick.  He’s growing white fuzz balls on his fins!  What do I do?”

“Take him to the vet at Wal-Mart.  Hahahaha.”

“I didn’t know there were vets at Wal-Mart.”

“Oh, sure.  You take in the sick fish, and they give him back–better than ever. Hahahahaha!”

“Where are the vets?  In back of the pet section?  I’m not sure our Wal-Mart has a veterinarian.”

“Wendy, just take the fish to Wal-Mart.  Your betta will live for years.  Hahahahahaha!”

“Carolyn, honestly, I don’t think our Wal-Mart—“

She made the sound of a toilet flushing.

Oh.  My.  God.  Without even a proper burial!

When Bluestar’s eyesight began to wane and he regularly over- or undershot his food, I bought a hand feeder.  Nifty little gadget, but it takes time and a lot of patience to get the hang of it, and Blue, as it turned out, didn’t have enough left of either.

Ironically, Carolyn was with me when I discovered, for the last time, Bluestar on his side.

Carolyn peered into the bowl.  “He’s faking.”

“He is not, not this time.”  I felt my nose begin to tickle.  “This is different.  This time he’s at the bottom of the bowl.”

“Wendy,” Carolyn’s lovely eldest daughter pointed out quite gently, “fish float to the top when they’re dead.  He’s probably just sleeping again.”  She said nothing about Wal-Mart, for which I bless her.

“Thank you, honey.”  I nodded.  “But Bluestar always did things his own way.  I’m sure he’s passed on this time.”  And he had.

After we buried the little guy, disinfected his bowl, toys and heater and packed up his belongings and meds up to give to some other family embarking on fish ownership, I began to contemplate our various responses to Blue’s brief-ish life.  I wonder if the way we each reacted reflects the fact that lately we’ve all given some thought to dying?  Maybe this is how we’re going to treat our own elder years, particularly when we come to the point where our mortality seems more imminent than philosophical.

Tim will be proactive but stoic.  Carolyn will request that her children set her off on an ice float like an ancient Eskimo, and you will hear the sound of her laughter echoing on the air.  I will be propped up with pillows, surrounded by costly supplements, squinting at my laptop and dangerously raising my cortisol levels as I Google alternative treatments.

It bears some thought.  Watching Bluestar live taught me how to enjoy life even when my bowl is smaller than I would like it to be.  Now his death is pretty instructive.

Our daughter, by the way, did tear up when she realized that her pet, the one she had chosen so painstakingly from all the many containers of bettas at the pet store, was gone for good.  “Is he really dead this time?”

“Yes, sweetie.”

“Do we have to get rid of his body?”

“Yes.”

“Is it gonna stink?”

“Not if we do it soon.”

“Can we have a funeral?”

“Absolutely.”

“And then get pizza?”

“You bet.”

“Goody!”

 

R.I.P. Bluestar

 

 

–Wendy

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Filed under Death, Humor, Pet fish

BIG BAD DOG

It’s Friday, and you know what that means at Too Hot Mamas:  It’s time for Thursday’s Tea Time With Wendy.  (Yeah, you got that if you know us at all.)

So, two Thursdays ago, I started to tell you about Buster, the BIG DOG with the even bigger, uh, male parts.  Buster came home from the shelter with me as a medical foster dog, and a more grateful patient you have never seen.  Buster was a delight.

When I walked my new friend, people coming toward us literally crossed the street.  Buster looked mean.  He didn’t intend to, and perhaps it had something to do with having swollen…you know…but Buster tended to scare people.  Perversely, I admit that I found this amusing, because Buster was a giant pussycat–terrified of cars, stairs and anything slippery.  He needed a lot of reassurance.

My husband—the one who just days before had begged me not to bring home another canine—really liked Buster.  It was hard not to.  Buster’s paws looked like snowshoes.  His head was massive.  The dog could eat Manhattan.  And yet, he allowed my then-three-year-old to wrap his body in bubble wrap and pop him.   He’d considerately lie down when a cat came near, so as not to intimidate kitty.  He felt no such duty to consideration regarding other dogs, however, and they—the big, male ones in particular—did not care for him.  Pure envy, if you ask me.  Frequently during walks, I would hear growling from some other mutt.  Buster never backed down, and if he didn’t want to behave on a leash…well, may I just say, “Terribly sorry for all the trouble we caused.”  Given Buster’s size and inherently menacing appearance, non-compliance while strolling through the neighborhood was clearly going to be a problem.  And that car issue…

Busty refused to get within five feet of a moving vehicle.  He would plant himself and that was that.  When I needed to transport him, I asked my husband to help.

Poor Tim.  Able to bench-press more than he weighed, he got Buster into the car, but Buster panicked and jumped out.  At Tim.  Tim’s back went out, and he wound up in bed for a couple of days recuperating with the faithful (and, I am persuaded, repentant) Buster by his side.  Buster slept a great deal at this point.  He was still recuperating from his neutering, after all, poor baby.

After a week or so, the shelter phoned.  Someone had stepped forward to adopt our dear Buster.  We met.  Unfortunately, Buster refused to get in her car.  Refused to walk with her, too, nor did he particularly care to be anywhere near her.  And she was scared of him, which made the adoption a little problematic in my opinion, but the shelter did not share my point of view.  The night before I was supposed to turn him over to his new mama (how this was to be accomplished remained a mystery to us all), I couldn’t sleep, convinced this was the worst dog-human pairing in recent history.

Being a praying gal, I had a talk with God then, at three a.m., got up to have a chat with Buster and to check the e-mail I hadn’t had time for the previous day.  There in my inbox was a note from someone I did not know with the subject line “Do you still have the dog?”

To be continued…on Monday.  Honest.

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Filed under Dogs, Humor

PREGNANT AT FIFTY

Too Hot Mamas has an announcement:  One of us is pregnant.

I looked that word up, and the dictionary definition is:  Heavy with child, significant, expectant.  I, Wendy, am all those things.  At fifty-two and fifty, respectively, my husband and I are in the process of adopting from U.S. Foster Care.  Our daughter is delighted and very ready to share her life with a sibling.  My husband is as scared as he was the first time around, I am cleaning out the basement (nesting), and our friends are, variously–supportive, excited, confused and aghast.

I understand the aghast part; I really do.  Our daughter is pretty darn easy, a delightful child with whom we share a terrific relationship.  Our careers are in flux—not easy, not secure, not gifting us with financial resources to spare.  And, WE ARE IN OUR FIFTIES.  So what are we thinking’?

I have many responses, but it all boils down to this:  It’s important to have parents acknowledge your birthday with joy.  To know you can go “home” for Thanksgiving and every other holiday.  To know that unconditionally loving parents accompany your walk through this beautiful, complex, wonderful, treacherous world.  And, far more selfishly:  Becoming adoptive parents is the best thing that ever happened to my husband and me or ever will.

It boils down to the article below.  I invite you to read  about Steven K. Walker.  Whether you’ve ever considered adoption or not, or are a parent or not, his story is a wonderful reminder that the greatest “success” in life is loving someone.

Wendy

From Summer 2011 Adoptalk

by Steven K. Walker

Steven was adopted from foster care at ten. Below he tells of the events that transformed him from an abused child to a national adoption advocate. Follow Steven on Facebook at the official page of Steven K. Walker, Adoption Advocate.

“He’ll never amount to anything.”

Would those words destroy or motivate you? For me, the words simply seemed true; I should be a failure. Statistics would predict that I’m in prison, but that wasn’t my destiny, was it? Who can know for certain if I will amount to anything, and why would they say that?

My story started in August 1987 when Alice, a mentally challenged alcoholic, gave birth to an undersized baby boy (me) in Niagara Falls, New York. There was no father listed on my birth certificate; it could have been any of the men she brought home from the bar most nights.

From the hospital, my mother brought me to a filthy four-room apartment that had only one outside window. There was no crib or baby formula, so Alice fed me whatever she ate. I often slept on a makeshift bed on the kitchen floor while strange men came over to abuse and take advantage of my poor drunk mother.

In November 1988, Alice gave birth to another boy, David. He and I shared everything and it was great because David gave me the attention my mother gave to strangers. Soon, however, life turned into a nightmare.

Alice kept bringing home men and some of them abused David and me physically, sexually, and emotionally. I tried to protect David by hiding us under the kitchen table, me covering him, and a blanket over us both.

If we refused to get out from under the table, the men would swear, rip me off of David, and beat him. When I tried to defend David and fight back, they beat me even more severely. Though I don’t remember specific men, all the abuse is like a vivid Van Gogh painting in my memory that can’t be forgotten or erased. Inevitably it defines, in part, who I am.

Memories ate at me and made me second-guess everything. Was the abuse my fault? What about my mother-why didn’t she defend me against abuse that left me with a dent in the back of my head and hand tremors? Alice never abused us, but she did not keep us out of harm’s way. Later, I came to realize that it wasn’t her fault, and believe now that she tried the hardest she could to keep David and me safe.

Through all the abuse, I cared for David as best I could. I always made sure he was fed before I was. I made certain he had a coat to keep him warm during the cold winters. Soon I became malnourished.

David and I moved into foster care when I was four years old. With our things in black trash bags, we were shoved into the back of county cars, and said goodbye to our mother. It was confusing. I felt like a prisoner, but prisoners know where they’re going and we didn’t. What if we obeyed instead of fighting and hiding?

David and I ended up at a farm, with a mother and father who seemed nice. It was a hardworking Christian family who prayed with us before bed and got us up early to work in the barn. David and I did as they asked.

One morning, the foster mom assigned us to milk the goats. We didn’t understand why this needed to be done and were struggling to comply. The foster mom tried to make it fun by squirting us with milk from the goat’s udder. Unfortunately, the raw milk hit me in the eye. Six years and several surgeries later, I became legally blind in that eye.

With my belongings in another trash bag, I went to the next foster home. My third foster home was supposed to be therapeutic. The mother had a Ph.D. in psychology and was a special education teacher. She claimed she knew how to care for David and me, but also told us that she really wanted a baby girl, not boys.

Just when I started to get close to the father, they pulled the rug out from under me. They claimed that I was a bad influence on David and sent me away. David stayed behind.

From this home I moved to a Pennsylvania group home. At age six, I was the youngest kid there. We had to complete chores to earn rewards but no one taught me how so I often had to do chores over when I messed up the first time. The head of the facility told me I should never have been placed in the group setting.

Imagine my mindset. I was separated from my brother, lied to, and kept in the dark about my future. When I asked where I was going, the response was often, “Do you like ice cream?” People were saying they loved me, but then giving up on me in less than six months.

Next, I moved in with an older couple in Buffalo, New York. They made it clear they didn’t intend to adopt me; they were only fostering to get money for the husband’s heart surgery. I was eight, but was treated worse than the couple’s five-year-old granddaughter because I was “not blood.” This saying irks me. When humans get cut, don’t we all bleed the same color?

On weekends, I visited potential adoptive families-too many to count. They all gave up on me, even the three families who signed the adoption papers. My feelings of hurt and distrust grew.

Just before my ninth birthday, I moved in with a family in North Tonawanda, New York. I knew them a little from having been in respite care with them a few times, including a time when David was there because his family went to Florida. Before I moved in, the family sent me a letter with pictures of the family, house, and school. The letter ended with a question: Did I want to adopt them as parents?

I was hesitant to fall in love, but this family reached out to me. They wore patches to see what it is like to be blind in one eye. They put ice on their hands to simulate tremors. Still, I could not give in. I hit, kicked, spit, bit, and swore. I told the mother that I didn’t have to follow her rules because she was not my real mother.

Her response was always, “I love you no matter what.” She got to know me and saw my broken heart. She learned that I loved sports and invested in hockey goalie equipment so I could take shots at her whenever I was angry. Afterward, she would rock me in her arms, give me a freezer pop, and tell me she loved me.

The mother was always open and honest with me. She and the father tried to answer my questions as best they could without lying. Around the time of Halloween, after I turned ten, they told me that they would only answer my questions if I called them Mom and Dad.

On New Year’s Eve, Mom and Dad took me to Niagara Falls to see the ball drop. At the time, they said, “How great it is to be celebrating both our anniversary and our son.” The words caught me. I chose to be adopted. I got to pick a court date and even change my name. To honor my dad, I took Kevin as my middle name.

On Tuesday, April 1, 1997, I went into the Niagara County Court House as a foster child and came out as Steven Kevin Walker, son of Kevin and Jody Walker. It was a relief, though I still wish I could have been adopted with my brother.

Since my adoption, my family has grown to include another boy and six girls. I graduated from high school at the top of my class, was Student Council president, captain of the football team, and a three-sport athlete. At community college, I was in more than 20 clubs, served as an officer in the student government, and earned my associates degree.

Today I am an adoption advocate. I share my story in the U.S. and Canada, have been published widely, and have appeared on television and in videos. A man in Florida who heard my story donated more than 400,000 suitcases for youth in care so they can move with some dignity instead of having their things stuffed in garbage bags. In 2001, I helped write legislation to keep siblings together in foster care in New York State. In 2006, I got to share my story with then-Senator Hillary Clinton and leave copies of my speech with all 100 senators (including Barack Obama).

The message I hope to convey is: Don’t give up on us. You never know who we can become. Accept each of us as your child; I am simply your son, not your adopted son, or foster son. All of the adoptive families who stick with the children they adopted from foster care are my heroes! Walk in our shoes and you will understand; our love is deep and the best place we have ever lived is the place with the family who keeps us forever.

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Filed under Adoption, Children, Motherhood, parenthood

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

As it’s Tuesday, it is Coffee Time With Carolyn, but Carolyn is in Hawaii, turning golden brown, which somehow made me think of brisket.  So, in lieu of Carolyn I give you my mom’s recipe.  Everyone loves it, just like they love Carolyn.

Serve this with kasha varnishkas.  If you’re not Jewish or have otherwise been deprived of kasha varnishkas and brisket gravy up to now, you don’t know what you’re missing.

For a vegan substitute, which does not remind me  of Carolyn, try tempeh or frozen then defrosted extra-firm tofu.  (Freeze the whole block, defrost, squeeze out the extra water, cut into cubes. )  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the gravy for richness. And now…

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

2 1/2 lbs brisket

2 small-medium onions, chopped.

2 large parsnips, sliced.

4 large carrots, sliced.

4 garlic cloves (more if you love it)

salt to taste (1-2 tsp)

2 bay leaves

3/4  C ketchup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/2 C beer

2 C of water (or enough so that liquid covers the brisket half-way up)

Preheat oven to 375

Put all ingredients in a heavy pot with a good lid.  Cook for 2 hours.  Check the brisket and add enough water to make liquid come half-way up the brisket again, if necessary.  Replace cover and continue to cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is tender.   You can put the brisket, gravy and veggies in the fridge and eat them the next day, because this tastes better and better the longer it sits.

Your brisket will be as brown and gorgeous and will make people as happy as Carolyn.

Wendy

 

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Filed under Cooking, Writing

The Food Network at Home

My family and I have become addicted to the Food Network.  Episodes of Sweet Genius and Halloween Wars find my husband and daughter glued to the set.  I simply cannot miss Chopped.

On Friday, I had the following conversation with my daughter as I set her dinner in front of her, or attempted to.

“Mom, serve it to me the way they do on Iron Chef.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tell me about the food when you put the plate down.”

“Ookay.  Well, this is a tortilla—that I got from a package—and I filled it with chili.”

“What’s in the chili?”

“Ground turkey, beans, tomatoes and a rich assortment of seasonings…I’d have to check the can to be sure.”

“What else?”

Seriously?  Generally if food is not televised, the child can hardly be bothered with it.

“Well, thinking the chili might be too highly seasoned for a young palate—“ I started getting into it, encouraged by her nodding  “—I added a dollop of sour cream to tone it down and stirred in a sprinkle of grated cheddar.  I warmed the mixture to blend all the flavors and then stuffed the tortilla.  On the side you will find small red chili beans, again mildly spiced for your pleasure, and brown rice with olive oil and salsa.  Please enjoy.”

I bowed.

“Thank you.”  But instead of digging in, she folded her hands on her lap and studied the plate.  “What I see is that you have a lot of brown on this plate.  It would have been better to use more color.  Red or green or orange.  A vegetable, perhaps?”

Get real!  When was the last time the child ate “a vegetable perhaps” without threat of losing Moshi Monster privileges for a week?

“And,” she continued, delicately tasting a corner of her Mexi-melt, “while the taste is quite nice, the presentation will count as fifty percent of your score.”

“Well, I’ll keep that in mind when I present your oatmeal to you tomorrow morning.”

“Thank you, Chef.”

“Thank you, Judge.”

Thank you, Food Network.

Wendy

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Filed under Children, Cooking, Humor, Motherhood

The Girl With The Cat-In-The-Hat Tights

You know the ditty about wearing purple when you’re an old woman?  I don’t think we should wait.  I think we should chop up our Nordstrom’s cards (all right, full disclosure: My “Nordstrom’s” card says, “Marshall’s,” but you get my drift) and start shopping anyplace that sells white tights with bold red stripes in Queen Size.

I don’t know about you, but I have spent an inordinate amount of time in my life attempting to be appropriate.  If you are a parent, you surely recognize that word.

“Sweetie, it’s not appropriate to cartwheel during communion.”    (Or maybe it is?)

“Darling, it is not appropriate to see if a person can drink orange juice through a straw stuck up her nose….   I don’t care if your if your father is doing it, it’s not appropriate in a restaurant.   Tim, stop encouraging her.”

Of course I think it’s important for parents to provide a bumper, of sorts, along the road to their kid’s maturity, bouncing them back onto the path when they stray too far, but now that my daughter is growing up, I’m already missing her little girl ways.  A recent example:

She grew a few inches this summer, so I asked her to sort through her clothes and set aside the items she could no longer wear.  She came out of her room dressed in white tights with fat red stripes.  I hadn’t seen those in a couple of years.

“From now on, Mom, I want solid colors, not stripes or flowers.  It’s more grown up.”

“Okay.”  I sighed, thinking she looked so dang cute in her Cat-In-The-Hat tights.  “We’ll get solid colors.”

“Hose, not tights.”

“Ah.  Hose.”  I nodded, the sadness undeniable.

“Yeah.”  She looked down.  Gave her striped legs an affectionate stroke.   “I could still wear these sometimes, though,” she ventured.  “But just to special occasions.  Like weddings.”

“Yes, that would be awesome.”

Do you know of any weddings we could crash?  ‘Cause I really want her to wear those tights again before it’s too late.  I’ll be wearing a pair, too, beneath my uber-appropriate wedding attire.  I may have to paint the stripes on a pair of opaque white pantyhose, but I am determined to have Cat-In-The-Hat shins.  Now that I’m forty-nine with a bullet, maybe I can let go of the correctness of my youth.  Express myself more.  Fit in less.

Sign me,

The Broad With The Cat In The Hat Tights

Wendy

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, aging, Humor, manners, Menopause, Motherhood, parenthood, politeness, Writing

Carolyn, the Queen of Everything

After Carolyn’s post yesterday, I probably should be throwing my tiara in the ring, lobbying to be Queen of the United States, or at least the area around my easy chair.  I have been trying for ages to get my family to address me as Your Highness, but they are so resistant to change.

The thing is, I’m not the queen type.  I prefer to fly slightly under the radar.  Besides, I get hat head.  Carolyn has really thick hair; she’ll look fabulous after the hat comes off–and it’ll probably be an adorable hat she made from a sweater or a dog bed or an empty Ritz Cracker box or something.  She is brilliant at making hats.  Honestly, she should have been a milliner.

So, Carolyn, you’ll have my fealty if you make me a hat.

Also, I think that when you are queen you should make George Clooney date women born before 1985.  This is really important.  With a Too Hot Mama on the throne, we can mandate this kind of validation for women over forty-five.

Wow.  I can’t believe I once stepped in human urine while walking through Central Park with the future queen of the United States.  (After the hats and George Clooney, you might want to do something about that urine situation.)

All hail Carolyn!  Long may you rain… rein…reign…    Well, enjoy bossing people around, dear friend.

Wendy

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Filed under aging, Geroge Clooney, Humor, Menopause, Motherhood, Writing

Moms Say The Darnedest Things

Heard this week from my mom friends:

“If I see you trying to drown your brother one more time…”

“Don’t hit your sister with that lizard.  That is not nice.  That poor lizard.”

“Well, how did you get bird poop in your cereal?  You’ve been inside all morning.”

“Buddy, please don’t rinse your mouth again with that water.  That’s where the geese go poo.”

Your turn!  Share some crazy mom talk!

Wendy

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Filed under Children, Humor, Writing

HE LIVES! The fish, I mean.

Okay, for you, Carolyn, grinding little guppies in your Insinkerator.   But our fish, Bluestar, has been SAVED!  His pretty blue fins are unclamped, his I’d-as-soon-kill-you-as-look-at-you personality is back in full force, his appetite…

Oops.

As you all know, the family and I were prepared to go to extreme lengths to help our little Betta friend heal from the multiple fungal, bacterial and depression issues he appeared to be having.  (We change his water regularly, use water conditioner, warm his bowl to the appropriate-for-Bettas temperature, etc., I swear.)  Well, after many a run to pet stores and calls to ichthyologists, we found the right combo of treatments.  And Bluestar, bless his fishy heart, responded.  He even turned to stare at us with what we all agreed was gratitude.

Tim and I high-fived, wiped our tired brows, kissed our relieved and teary daughter, promised not make any more tuna melts lest we inadvertently ingest Bluestar’s cousin (whatever, she’s eight) and got some sleep.  And, uh, you know, forgot to feed the little guy.

For a couple of days.

Maybe that wasn’t a look of gratitude. 

We finally remembered the meal issue after he began ramming his nose into the glass.  This time he looked like he wanted to phone PETA, pronto.

Listen, Mr. Fish, I am menopausal and you are soooo lucky I was able to focus long enough to medicate you.  You are not the first family member whose dinner has been a day or two late.  Just grab a Snickers like the others and chill.

I just gave him a few Top Fin pellets and am now off to find dried worm things or some other Betta delicacy to express my apologies properly.  My husband says we’re too old for any more live things and has asked me to let everything not on two legs die out without seeking its immediate replacement.

We’ll see.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Wendy

 

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Filed under Children, Death, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Pet fish

Fish tragedy, a three hanky tale

Don’t they look like angels when they sleep?…wait…they ARE angels!

Luckily, my mother does not read this blog so I can add my fish tale to Wendy’s aquarium misery.  Plus, it’s been two years and we’ve managed to recover nicely.

Number One Son really, really, really, really wanted a pet fish.

I said, “But honey, you know you are only ten-years-old and won’t take care of it and the poor little fishy will die of starvation.”

“No way, Mom!!  I’ll feed it and change its water and play with it and everything.”

“If I let you have a fish, you must realize that I don’t want it, and its life will be in your hands, got that?”

After he pledged allegiance to the fish, we went to Wal-mart.  Price of fish?  10 cents.  Price of bowl, rocks, food, fish net, special chemistry set to keep the bowl from rotting, exotic housing units and plastic trees and kelp in unnatural neon colors?  $89.50.

Day one was glorious:  Son diligently set up bowl, named fish Alice, fed Alice 3 squares, checked chemical balance, dragged family and friends in to admire how clever Alice was whenever she swam through neon cave and, before bed that night, told Alice bedtime story.

Day two:  Son invited to sleepover at neighbor’s house.  Forgot Alice existed.

Day five: Alice failing.

Day eight:  Alice, near death, discovered by eldest teenage daughter.  “Mom, I’m going to take over Alice’s health care.  Brother is going to be my
co-owner.”

A shame-faced brother agreed to the arrangement and within days, Alice was her spunky old self.  Daughter taught brother that the best way to clean Alice’s bowl was to transfer Alice to a salad bowl and run her regular stuff through the dishwasher to sterilize it from time to time.

Unfortunately, daughter and son neglected to tell Grandma their bowl cleaning method.  And—because my mother is one of those people who cannot stop cleaning for 5 minutes—when she came over for dinner, Alice was inadvertently tossed into the garbage disposal and whirled into the great beyond as my mother hummed Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

We all stared at each other in horror, as Alice had become a rather cherished member of the family.  However, we also knew that Grandma would never forgive herself and would inundate us with replacement fish for the rest of our lives and so, choked back the tears.  Needless to say, dinner was a tad subdued that night.  Now and then, a family member would pause at the disposal and murmur their respects down the drain.

Wendy, hurry.  Invite my mother over for dinner next time you clean Bluestar’s bowl.  Grandma, without fail, will leap up from the dinner table and begin tackling the dishes.  Rest in peace, Bluestar.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Anxiety, Children, cleaning, Cooking, Cussing, Death, Health, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Pet fish

George Clooney is single!!

If I could only decide between the too hot mamas. Eenie, Meanie, Miney...

I know, I know, I promised that Wendy and I would be updating you
all from the Big Apple. But, we didn’t have time. As we were leaving for the
airport, the news broke that George Clooney was newly single, possibly in Manhattan… and the race was on.

It’s obvious that the boy is barking up the wrong tree with these super-skinny, super-attractive, super-young, super-models.   And, now that he’s 50, we’re guessing he’s
going to realize the error of his ways and start looking for a well-seasoned,
less-than-perfect woman to provide arm candy.
We think a little cellulite and some wrinkles are fine, because hey, we’re
not perfect, either.

So now, the question is, me or Wendy?  We asked our husbands and since neither of them seemed threatened in the least, it’s a horse race.

When we weren’t stalking Georgie Porgie Puddin’ Pie, we took a ton of pictures, visited 5 states, actually DROVE IN MANHATTAN (thank you, Darla, you rock), met with agents and editors, talked book deals, ate waaaaay too much, walked barefoot in Times Square at midnight and laughed ourselves half silly.  We came home speaking with distinct New York accents and are energized and ready to write.

Wishing you all a fab 4th!

Carolyn Clooney

Sounds good, huh, Wendy?

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, aging, Children, Geroge Clooney, Marriage, Menopause, New York, parenthood, Travel, Weight gain, wrinkles, Writing

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

My carpet is disgusting

Wendy!  Get Rich Quick Scheme number 197,322!!!

I am thinking of calling it Nature’s Carpet, a revolutionary new flooring manufactured with the family in mind.  Envision this in your
own home.  Orange cat?  Nature’s Carpet will incorporate random tufts of orange hair into the weave!  Have a baby?   Imagine haphazard patches of mustard yellow and baby burp white!  For you dog owners, muddy paw prints in chocolate and caramel brown and some ‘oopsie’ spots for the puppy years.  I’m thinking the ketchup and pizza stain pattern is a must for a rumpus room.  And every guy will clamor for the barf and beer stain look for his man room.

Husbands?  Go ahead and take that motorcycle apart in the living room.  She won’t care.  Not with Nature’s Carpet’s “Garage Floor Stain” pattern.

Get that new carpet smell with the user-friendly feel.  No more need to chase that wet pet through the house.  Screaming at the kids over muddy boots is a thing of the past.  Peace and tranquility abound as you ‘go green’ with our bark dust, rabbit droppings and moss chunks pattern.

Your friend’s will turn puce with envy!

Wendy, my family will easily be able to do all of the design work.  You look into the patent deal.  I’m thinkin’ we’re on to something big this time.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, cleaning, Cooking, Cussing, Death, Dogs, Geroge Clooney, Humor, kids messy rooms, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, parenthood

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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Cupcake Wars

One of my daughter’s early teachers was called “Cupcake” (not to her face) by the parents, because of her penchant for celebrating every birthday, half-birthday, and holiday, including obscure-in-America British holidays, by serving fluffy cakes with gobs of frosting.  She considered sugar to be, in part, a learning tool.  It was quite effective.  My daughter does not remember the storyline to The Lace Snail, which we read a gazillion times (it’s wonderful), but she still speaks fondly of London’s October Plenty.  Attempts to form letters were rewarded with m&m’s or bits of red licorice.

Why am I thinking about this now, a few years after the fact?  Because I just spent two hours learning how to make a radish mouse to entice my daughter to eat her veggies.   Any veggie.  A no-thank-you bite of cherry tomato.  A snippet of gray green bean out of her Alphabet Soup.

For many years I was a sugar-free vegan (this was before Carolyn and I began entering the Pillsbury Bake-Off, I grant you) and regularly offered collards and kale to my daughter, who ate her greens with gusto.   Oh, yes she did.  In fact, her favorite breakfast was brown rice with butter, tiny minced carrots, nori seaweed and gomasio.  And then…Cupcake.

I love you, Cupcake, I do.  When introducing children to school, it’s a Jewish tradition to dot the pages of a book with honey so the learning will be sweet.   My daughter’s books were smeared with buttercream; I suppose that’s close.  And when she majors in British history I’m quite sure I will remember you fondly.  But I can’t help the pang of regret and frustration I experienced when she saw that adorable mouse staring up from her salad.  Raising it by it’s long radish root tail, she stared ambivalently awhile then asked, “Do I get dessert if I eat this?”

My next attempt will be carrot-cake oatmeal.  I’ll post the recipe if successful.

Wendy

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The Pillsbury Fart-off…uh, Bake-Off

As you know, Carolyn and I are addicted to entering the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  Every spring break from school is an opportunity to corral our kids (plus the offspring of anyone cruel enough to drop their progeny off at Carolyn’s place during this time of year) into one room and ply them with experiment after experiment…er, rather, delicacy after delicacy.  On this year’s menu:

Vermont Maple Cupcakes With Georgia Peanut Buttercream (going with a state theme).  This recipe required several attempts and never really came together.  The kids began eating enthusiastically then quite suddenly looked as if they’d been stricken with a deadly disease.  We gave ’em a little bicarbonate of soda and got right back in the saddle with…

Meatball Hoagie Bake.  This was not bad, though it was overly complicated and kinda unattractive.  Took three or four swipes at this one over a two-day period with eight children and four adults taste testing.  Final decision:  Nah.

Next up:  Carolyn’s soon-to-be world-famous Sweet ‘N Smoky Baked Breakfast Pancake.  OMG.  Incredible.  We all thought so.  She made it several times–for breakfast, for dinner, for a snack.  We tried other baked pancake variations, too, plus more sandwiches, a couple of appetizers and an entrée.  All together we made seven trips to the supermarket, spent…well, I can’t say on the chance one of our husbands is reading, and sickened eight otherwise hardy children.  I overheard this comment from one of Carolyn’s daughter’s friends:

“Can we stop eating now?  I’ve been farting all morning.”

“Me, too,” whispered Carolyn’s daughter.  “I think they’re getting tired.  They’ll stop soon.”

That’s what you thought, missy.

We kept at it until there wasn’t a creative thought left in our brains.  We kept at it until the smell of exhaustion overwhelmed the smells of butter, sugar, toffee and cinnamon.  And soon, very soon, we’ll be in Carolyn’s kitchen again, prepping for the next bake-off.  Why?  Because there’s a million bucks, new appliances, a trip to Orlando and the promise of fifteen minutes of Pillsbury fame riding on this one.

And because we came up empty when we Googled “Bake-Offs Anonymous.”

Wendy

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The art of the arm fart

Hi, Everyone!  It’s raining–surprise!–in the Pacific Northwest.  Actually, the warm drizzle and gray sky are upping the cozy factor tremendously.  And, hey, who needs more sun spots?

My daughter is home with a nasty cold, so as we prepare for a cuddly day at home, I thought I’d inaugurate Witty Wednesday–a day to share the wacky, wonderful, witty or just plain weird witticisms of our pwecious wee ones.  I’ll go first; you go next.  Here’s what we heard at our house this week:

Daughter:  “Dad, do you arm fart?”

Dad:  “Not since I married your mother, honey.”

Daughter (looking at me and shaking her head sadly):  “That’s such a shame.”

Okay, share:  What have the little people in your life said?

Wendy…off to watch Dora….

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Pul-lease

Please:  an adverb, used as a polite addition to requests, commands, etc.

I’m Jewish, but I often attend church with my Christian husband and our daughter, who, although she will gladly participate in Shabbat candle lighting and any holiday involving matzoh balls, has let me know emphatically that her spiritual path is different from mine.

Not a problem.  I believe God speaks to us in different languages and through many different faiths.  In fact, I love our little church with its diverse, devout congregation.  These folks live their lives in wholeness and holiness.  They walk their talk quietly and with enviable grace.

But the Sunday school?  Oy gevalt! 

Young children frequently forget their manners, of course, but what surprises me is the Sunday school teachers’ reluctance to rein in our vilda chaya.  Let me say here and now:  If my child develops a mental block around politeness, go ahead and correct her.

I am sure the disciples used “please” and “thank you” at the Last Supper.   I bet they helped clean up.  And when Jesus spoke, I’m guessing they gave him their attention.  I’m sure no one wants to offend a parent, but better you should offend me than allow my child to offend you.

Yes, “please” and “thank you” are my parenting pet peeves.  Over the years I have doled out a quantity of snacks roughly equivalent to the number of hors d’oeuvres served at Kate and Williams’ wedding.  I’m guessing I’ll double that output in the years to come.  How many thank yous have I heard from the children who are not mine?  Too few, dear reader, too few.

Now, I’m not claiming my precious angel is perfect.  Oh-ho no.  When we’re in Chinese restaurants, she still sucks the filling out of the egg rolls…oh, wait.  That’s me.  Well, her table manners aren’t the best, either.  She learned from her parents, after all, and we’re not on the Queen’s guest list, believe you me.

And, of course, my daughter has a few other habits we need to break.  Like sitting in lectures and workshops, rudely passing notes with her friends and giggling at things that have nothing whatsoever to do with the topic at hand–

Oops.  Me again.

Dang.  But the giggling in workshops thing?  Honestly, that is almost always Carolyn’s fault.  She talks to me and obviously I don’t want her to think I’m rude so I answer.  If you read “Girl Fight” and “Cat Fight” then you know a couple of weeks ago we dragged two formerly polite and gracious women down with us.

Honestly, what is wrong with adults these days?

What are your politeness pet peeves?

Wendy…off to learn some manners.  Thank you for reading.

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Dear Cinderella, if you want to go to the ball CLEAN YOUR ROOM!

When my daughter was three, I asked her to please remove her clothing from the dining room floor.  Like a shot–and with a sweetheart smile–she picked up the offending items, uttering this keeper comment:  “Sure thing, sweetie, I’m here to clean.”

Adorable.  Thought I’d never have a moment’s trouble with this one.

Current conversation with daughter, now eight:

Mother:  I asked you to clean your room last Sunday.  It is now Friday.  Please clean your room or forfeit attending your school dance tonight.

Long-suffering child:  I don’t know what forfeit means.

M:  It means that if your room is not clean by five p.m., you will be in there at seven while your friends are enjoying Katy Perry in the school auditorium.  The choice is yours.

LSC:  I’m hungry.

M:  There’s enough food in your room to get us through a subduction zone quake.

LSC:  I don’t know what subduction zone–

M: GO!

Three minutes later…

LSC:  I’m done.  That was exhausting.

M:  You are not done.  I just started cleaning my office, and I’m nowhere near done.

LSC:  You’re slower than I am.

We march to her room (well, I march; she stops three times in the hallway to practice dance moves).

M:  What part of the room did you clean?

LSC:  What part did you want me to?

Obviously she has been watching too much I Love Lucy and I am about to have a Ricky Ricardo meltdown.

M:  Mira caquilla cosa–

LSC:  I don’t know what–

She is in her room again now, the radio blaring very dramatic classical music.  I hear her creating a story to go along with the music:  “I loved you.  Why did you leave me?  If you come looking for me, I will be in the dungeon….”

The Brothers Grimm and Disney have been stringing people along for years, making us believe Cinderella was an innocent victim.   HA!  How much you wanna bet her room was a pigsty, and that’s why she wasn’t supposed to go to the ball?  From now on I’m on Team Wicked Stepmother.

What tricks/ mandates/ bribes/do you use to get your kids to clean their pits?
Wendy

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Lions and Tigers and Bears: Oh. Menopause.

 Symptom 11:  Feelings of Dread, Apprehension, and Doom…

 Apparently, I went into menopause when I was 8-years-old.  I remember distinctly going through that entire summer feeling dread, apprehension and doom.  It seemed to revolve around this reoccurring dream I had about pyramids.  Huge, looming, Egyptian pyramids.  Scared the stew out of me.  Until now, I had no idea why I never wanted to travel to Egypt.  Duh.  Menopause.

I refer to this as my year of Egyptian pyramid menopause.  Then, there was the year of clown menopause.  Later on, it was Y2K menopause.

 My youngest daughter is most certainly in menopause and she hasn’t even entered puberty yet, poor thing.  Outer space gives her the heebie-jeebies .  She hates anything outer space.  Star Wars, constellations, Buzz Lightyear…   “Dear Mrs. Bigglesworth:  Please excuse my youngest daughter from the field trip to the planetarium as she is suffering from the eleventh symptom of menopause.

 At tax time, I think my husband entered menopause.  

 I must say.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

 Carolyn

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Menopause, love and logic

I know that Love & Logic parenting is all the rage.  With due respect to its creators and many adherents, ARE ANY OF YOU FREAKING MENOPAUSAL????

Give me a moment; I’ll take my estrogen and explain…

When I got in the shower this morning, I discovered that, once again, my daughter has been “making potions” during bath time.  The making of potions a la Libbi entails dumping all of my body wash, body scrubs, conditioning gels, lotions and liquids (absolutely essential to avoid that “mature” alligator-with-eczema look) into the bath water and then making her own sludgy combos to refill the containers.  (She puts them all back very neatly, gotta give her that.  I never know she’s done it until I wash my hair with bath salt.)

Now, I have previously explained that this situation is not acceptable and determined the “logical,”  “loving” course of action–a shower instead of a bath for her, which would be a tragedy and probably effective.    IF I COULD REMEMBER TO ENFORCE IT.

You see, Love & Logic parenting requires two things the menopausal mother of a young child does not have in adequate supply: patience and a memory.

Am I really supposed to remember at six p.m. the thing that pissed me off that morning?  Not gonna happen.  I consider that one of the perks of menopause.

I tried 1-2-3 Magic, which I liked when my daughter was younger, but now, with menopause-induced ADD, I’m onto another topic by the time I get to 3.

So, I propose a more satisfying, more effective way for a menopausal mother make her point:  The next time I get into my shower only to find that my expensive cream rinse has been diluted to drool, I am going to scream “WHICH ONE OF YOU YAHOOS IS MESSING WITH MY STUFF AGAIN????  WHOEVER IT IS , YOU ARE IN SO.  MUCH.  TROUBLE!!!” at the top of my lungs.   I think that’s going to work.  And at least I won’t have to try to remember where I put my Love & Logic book.

Wendy

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Filed under Menopause, Motherhood