Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who Wishes They Struggled More With Sexual Orientation? I Do.

There isn’t a person in the world without a few things they wish they had done differently, but the list is definitely top-heavy with mothers.

Courtney Love, Demi Moore, Agnes Carpenter, Joan Crawford, and hopefully, Deena Lohan.

But here's another example just as applicable as any of those listed above.

(yours truly)
Surely I don’t see myself on the Mommie Dearest scale, but I’ve got time on my side.  Only four and a half years of parenting under my belt, and my list is growing.

Mistake number one was made pre-conception, so I started off strong.  Once my husband and I discussed growing our family further than our big dog, I was desperate to become a homeowner.  The thought of bringing my child into a rental “with character” felt unsettling not because an owner-occupied spot proves any more safe, but because I was na├»ve, and put undue stress on us because of it.  Unfortunately most parents don’t learn until after having a child that you will never, ever be 100% ready to have one.  If you say you are, you are lying (and I’ll save you a spot on the list).

My second notch on the boo-boo bedpost was of the boob kind.  It’s something I have explored here before, but will likely think about forever.  Bottom line, I wasn’t able to breastfeed because of a self-inflicted medical thingy.  So I blame myself for every cough, sniffle and hangnail my daughters have to suffer through.  But the crazy thing is that my mistake was not my inability to breastfeed or the teenage insecurities that resulted in my lack of ability to do so.  My error was in punishing myself for it.

Having quickly realized that my kids are still the bomb, I lightened up a bit, so the mistakes that followed weren’t as heavy.  (Holla.)  Here are a few quickies…

I wish I had an experience with a loved one who struggled with their sexuality so that should any of my children question or struggle with theirs as they grow, I may be more likely to come from the most understanding place possible.  I hope for that in any situation, really. 

I wish I had taken sunscreen more seriously before turning 25.  I just had skin cancer removed from the left side of my neck, and learned that our left sides are way more susceptible to damage because of our driver’s window.  I’ll likely never have another issue, but still have had a cancer that likely could have been prevented.  Epic fail.

On a lighter note, I wish I had researched the meaning of the word “hiney” before introducing it to my daughter as slang for vagina because it actually refers to the butt and she corrects me all the time.

The list can goes on, but I am surprisingly thankful for that.  Boo boos heal.  The scars they leave behind, however painful, make us who we are- a stronger, more unique self.  I can't think of a better thing to strive for.  Can you?

Friday, October 26, 2012

My Favorite Lists, Including A Stellar Suggestion For "F*ck, Marry, Kill"

It was below 90 degrees in Los Angeles today, which is a sign that the holidays are right around the corner.  Unfortunately, this also means that we are about to be inundated with lists of people’s “Favorite Things”.  (Damn you, Oprah…)

So in an effort to be less annoying, I decided to beat everyone else to the punch and share mine first.  I debated pulling together the best items in my closet or the most useful items in my house, but then realized I am not Rachel Ray.  Then came ideas for my “Favorite Things I Wish Someone Would Buy Me For Christmas, But No One Will”.  I nixed that as well. 

So instead, without further ado, here is a list of my “Favorite Things To List”.

* Household Chores (That Will Never Get Done)
(for example: Clean the Baseboards)

* New Ways I Am Going To Lose That Last 5 Pounds
(for example: ask Facebook friends for their fave workout jam, then make a “Get Skinny” playlist)

* Age Inappropriate Things My Kids Say
(for example: they scream “My cuca! My cuca!” in reference to a crib, which in Spanish is cuna.  Unfortunately, cuca is slang for vagina)

* Ideas For The Next Big Self Help Book
                        (such as “A Meme Made Me Do It”)

Funny Photos Of Strangers That I Risked My Life To Take & Now Have No Clue What To Do With
                        (tied at the top of the list are these two beauties…)

Facebook Posts Worse Than Photos of a Dog About to be Executed
                        (strangely, this list is always blank)

Perfectly Challenging Trios For a Game of “F*ck, Marry, Kill”
 (for example: Larry David, Garry Shandling & Kevin James, pre "Here Comes The Boom")


We make all sorts of lists… to do lists, guest lists, priority lists and wish lists, to list just a few.  For some, they are a collection of dreams or desires.  For others, they are challenges.  But remember… We are determined not by the lists we make, but the steps we actually take.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

No One Puts Baby In A Binder (Or In The Express Lane With Too Many Items)

I am rarely a candidate for the express lane at the grocery store, so when given the opportunity, I take it quite seriously.  Apparently, I’m not alone.

I was just in an express lane paying for a single item.  There was one man in line behind me with a hand basket of Old Spice deodorant, butter, iceberg lettuce, wet cat food and canned soup.  I remember the items so well because I counted them, as did the clerk, although her reaction was markedly different from mine.

If words could kill, she used a sharp “10 things or less” as if it were Chinese water torture.

I didn’t want to turn and watch their awkward interaction, just like no one wants to turn and look at a nasty car accident.  Meaning, I looked anyway, silent with dropped jaw.  I heard Dora the Explorer’s voice counting in my head, like all mothers of toddlers do, as she sang “… ocho, nueve, diez”!

Then, the moment of truth.  I was straggling (or being nosey) as he placed an eleventh item on the belt.  My stomach turned as the Dora in my head mumbled, “… once”.

What happened next was almost theatrical, and reminiscent of a famous 80’s movie scene where the bully flips a geek’s lunch tray and the room goes freakishly still.

I admit that I have spent an abnormally long time thinking about this moment, but with good cause.  Election Day is right around the corner, and social media has become overrun with rude and angry people trying to force their position, their ethical code and their ability to click “like” on a pointless meme designed not to inform but entertain.  To me, this is nothing but a misguided waste of energy.

There was no one in line behind the man with eleven items.  He wasn’t holding anyone up nor doing any harm.  Maybe he truly miscounted his items.  Maybe he was in a rush to tend to his sick cat (I’m assuming he was single, due to the aforementioned cat food).  Maybe it was ignorance, or even deliberate defiance that brought him to the express lane that day.  But either way, who gives a shit?

As I exited the store, I wished I had grabbed the eleventh item and paid for it myself.  I’m tired of seeing people on the attack.  I’m tired of seeing people berate instead of educate others.  We need to get back to a team mentality.  This picture sums it up perfectly for me… 

My advice?  Don't get caught in the a-hole.  We needn’t agree with everything others feel passionately about, but need to respect their passions, and willingness to be open about them.  Imagine how boring the word would be without that... or Mel Gibson.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I Hated Kim Kardashian's Wedding Headdress & Other Reasons I Don't Mind Helping My Daughter Wipe Her Bum

This is the first Gerber Baby, as sketched by Dorothy Hope Smith in 1928.

This is a photo of Monroe Cannon, daughter of Nick and Mariah Carey, styled by an absolute crazy person in 2011.

I haven’t been able to get that image out of my head since it first graced the sacred pages of my Bible,  

Unfortunately though, my fascination with it has nothing to do with the pure miracle of its subject.  Instead I want to snatch the pearls from her neckline, partly because no infant should look like a Stepford Wife, but more so because they are a choking hazard.

Then I feel the need to tweet Kim Kardashian and let her know I found her wedding headdress, as I am sure it has tons of sentimental value for her.

Having read carefully, you are likely asking yourself a very reasonable question.  If I care so much, why did it take 18 months for me to spit this out?  Well, things just got personal.

My 4.5 year old has asked me to pierce her ears twice within two weeks.  Now, she has also asked if she can be a waitress when she grows up, if she can take xylophone lessons and if she can go back to her old preschool because the new one doesn’t have naptime, but I didn’t take any of those inquiries seriously, as she asked only once.  I have learned from experience that once she asks twice, I will have an easier time refusing an intravenous Diet Coke drip than I will her requests.

So far, I have evaded her, but I can’t run forever.  Eventually she will ask again, and I will have to be the grown-up.  I’ll have to give her an answer… I just can’t decide what it should be. 

I don’t blame Mariah for any of this.  Honestly, I don’t even think Monroe’s ears are pierced, or at least I couldn’t find solid proof of it.  But it's the idea of making our babies grow up faster than they need to that makes me uncomfortable.  Joking that your baby has diva tendencies is one thing… forcing them upon her is another.

To pierce or not to pierce?  Either way, I feel her slipping away already.  Thank God she’ll need me to help wipe her bum later this afternoon… That’s always a decent reminder that we’ve got a looong way to go.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My Girls Hangin' with Zoey Deschanel & Mindy Kaling (Sort Of)

I love HelloGiggles for so many reasons, and this is definitely one of them:

I'm not gonna lie.  Seeing my daughter's curly fros on the same webpage as Zoey Deschanel & Mindy Kaling was quite a thrill for me.  Here is a preview of my post that they included on their site last weekend, and a link to get to all the goods.
I’m pretty sure you peaked at age three. Eating, sleeping, playing and making it to the potty on time were your only goals, which you completed on your own schedule. You didn’t care how much you weighed, how hip your wardrobe was or how much money you had in the bank. Everything was new, beautiful and (remotely) innocent. At the risk of being a tad controversial, I’ll go so far as to say that you learned your greatest lesson in the very same year. That is, of course, if three is the age you were first introduced to the classic children’s story “The Little Engine That Could”.
I first heard the tale as a toddler, but was reminded of it in the 3rd grade. Shockingly, this had little to do with scoring my first Benetton rugby and training bra combo...

Love it so far, huh?  Click here to read (like & share!) the full post.

Monday, October 8, 2012

My Big One

“The Big One” means different things to different people.

Many think of this…

 Others think of this…

A select few think of this…

(From Tim Burton's incredible film "Big Fish")
Whatever the image to accompany it, “the big one” has taken on totally new meaning for me in the last few weeks.

I consider myself a pretty active preschool parent.  I have visited my daughter’s classroom several times to read one of her favorite books aloud, and we took the outfits for spirit week more seriously than most.

But there is one assignment that I just can’t seem to tackle.

Here in Southern California, we need to pack an “Earthquake Kit” for our children.  The contents vary per school, but guarantee to include some version of a flashlight, spare chonies and a peanut butter inspired product without the nuts.

Our new school asks that with a family photo we include a note of encouragement for our child.  I have the bag packed, labeled and ready to go… minus the note.  Every time I try to write it, my hand freezes up.  And let’s be honest.  I am rarely without words.

I told my sister, “I’m gonna keep it short and sweet.  Like, ‘We love you and will all be together soon’.  Right?”  She disagreed, understandably, and encouraged me to do more.  But how?

How do you communicate the words to your child that you know could be your last, and how do you not?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Team Nicki or Team Mariah? I Could Decide, If They Were Both Bald

Here’s the debate I am most concerned about… Are you Team Nicki or Team Mariah?

I have watched every season of American Idol.  I've placed calls to vote for Ruben Studdard, Blake Lewis and Phillip Phillips.  Believe me... The American Idol franchise and I have had our ups and downs.  We’ve even had a disaster, but I have no idea what our future holds.

I liked Simon, mourned the loss of Ellen, vowed never to let my young daughters near Steven Tyler and (literally) fell in love with J. Lo.  But Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey??!!

I am undecided.  This is partly because there is too little information available at this early point in the season, and party because both of the women in question have fabulous hair.  Yes, that's right.  I said 'have fabulous hair'.

My husband recently said that he feels a bald spot coming on.  I suggested that he's crazy, and even if he isn't, he is lucky to be tall enough that it would barely be noticeable.  The conversation did get me thinking, though, about how we judge people based upon their hair- or lack there of.  According to the silver screen, bald men fall into one of two categories…. major bad ass or total loser.

What if this guy…

… challenged this dude?

Or if he…

… challenged him?

Or, heaven forbid, he…

… challenged this guy?

Guarantee you've already picked a winner for each match.

I guess this is one aspect of physical appearance in which women have it easier than the men (unless, of course, you are among the small percentage of women experiencing female baldness).

Lucky for Mariah and Nicki, they both have amazing hair (weaves/wigs/whatevs).  Therefore, I can’t prejudge the judges.  I need to wait until the big premiere.

That said, if they were both bald, my money would be on her:

Oh, sh*t!  Wrong show....

Monday, October 1, 2012

Lonely At The Top? Look Down.

It took me 30 some-odd years to learn one of my greatest lessons yet.  Lucky for you, I am a better sharer than my kids.

Baking soda to clean crayon off the wall…  Cooking spray to safeguard plastics from tomato sauce stain…  Play-doh to pick up tiny shards of broken glass…  All true, but this is bigger.

(OK, any more buildup and you’ll be expecting a map to the fountain of youth, so here goes.)

Creativity can die of starvation.  Thankfully, I have learned to feed mine as often as I feed my two toddlers.  Unfortunately, all three are picky eaters. 

I needed the perfect recipe, and discovered the Step Up Women’s Network as an important ingredient.  In short, the organization is a non-profit built to ignite women and girls to fulfill their potential through mentoring programs for under-resourced teens and professional (and personal) development for women.

Last week I attended a Step Up event entitled “View From The Top”.  The panelists, each leaders in their own profession, fielded questions from moderator, television host and incredi-stylist Alison Deyette (who I loved long before she gave me this phone case as personal party favor):

(Yes, I've got The Fever)
After a brief welcome from a high school senior who credits the Step Up After-School program for helping her overcome her fear of public speaking, and I rub the chills on my arm, Alison begins.

I expected to feel as I did hearing the Valedictorian speak at my college graduation- like I had reached some level of success, but was being reminded how someone else did it better.  I couldn’t have been more wrong (which may explain why I was not Valedictorian myself).

These women spoke of their struggles and mistakes, their fears and failures.

(L to R: Deyette, Martin, Miller, Tochterman, Cha Cutler)
Fashion designer Nony Tochterman spoke not only of the first time her work appeared in Vogue Magazine (the September issue, to boot), but also of the time she spilled hot coffee all over the dress of her model about to hit the runway.

Gwen Miller, EVP at City National Bank, admitted to the challenges of being a parent of two teenagers while working a high-pressure, full-time job.  “The weekends are all about my family.  It may be a smaller percentage of my time, but it’s all I’ve got”.  An audible sigh filled the room.

Jane Cha Cutler, EVP at Full Picture & Executive Producer of Project Runway, shared the story of her own Jerry McGuire moment, having packed up her cubicle to chase a dream.  Shortly after, the Weinstein Company expressed to her their interest in producing a show about models.  “That’s been done”, Jane said, as she took a risk in suggesting a show about fashion designers instead.  Their response?  “No one wants to watch people sew”.  Tell that to her Emmys.

Kellie Martin, who I remember most from the early 90’s hit “Life Goes On”, referred briefly to her roles on ER and Army Wives.  Her focus, though, was way more upon the challenges of her newest role as an Entrepreneur of Romp, an online store featuring children’s toys without plastics or electronics.  Still, her most inspiring share was to come.

When asked to name her greatest goal, Martin proudly stated her commitment to increasing awareness of autoimmune disease.  This cause is close to Kellie’s heart, as she lost her sister to Lupus at only 19.  It is close to mine, as I have Lupus as well.  After the panel ended, Kellie and I spoke at length about our missions like close friends.

I have never been in a sorority.  I was never a cheerleader, and my college did not have a Greek system.  I don’t drink martinis nightly with Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, and I don’t read the Twilight books.

I am, however, a part of a large sisterhood that encourages and inspires me.  I thank Step Up for that.

Want to learn more about the Step Up Mentoring Program?  Here's a recap of my experience.