Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Have Been Excited To Share This News For Months...

This is the Throwback Thursday I have been waiting for.  Back in September, I shared one of my most powerful Christmas memories and how it inspired me to give back throughout the year.

In short, I asked for your help in collecting donations for Operation Shoebox, a movement through the charity Samaritan's Purse, that on Christmas morning provides a shoebox of goodies for children around the world that will receive nothing else.

The response was incredible.  I was blown away by the abundance of items we collected.  Clothing, toys, books, art supplies, personal hygiene products and musical instruments.  Some of my favorite donations included plastic glow in the dark stars & animals, dry erase boards with markers, and bags of wildflower seeds.  Several people shopped with their children and shared stories of using the experience as a lesson on giving back.  For those that didn't have the time to shop or ship, I received Paypal donations, for which I purchased the items we were short on.

When I set out to do this, I had no idea if I would receive a thing from anyone other than my mom.  In the end, I can only hope that those who participated were half as inspired by their experience as I was.

Shortly before Christmas morning, I received emails saying that our tracked shoeboxes were delivered to children in Mongolia and Panama.

Like with most projects, I waited until the very last minute to pack the plastic tubs.  As overwhelmed as I was, the sight of this helped (and made my daughters jaw's drop):

All Puzzles & Card Games
In the end, our total donation weighed more than I did (which is saying a lot).

Thank you to everyone that participated, and to those that were inspired to give on their own.  I am grateful to have each of you here on this journey with me, and hope that together we can continue to make a difference.

To those interested in learning more about Operation Shoebox or the Christmas gift that changed my life forever, please check this out.  I am proud to say it is the most read post on my blog.  Thank you for giving me that gift.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Let Me Tell You 'Bout The Birds And The Bees... And The Party In Bill Clinton's Pants

The only birds and the bees I was thinking about were flying around Los Angeles when my almost five year old asked, “Mommy, remember that picture when your belly is big because I am inside it?  How did I get out?”

(Clearly an early pregnancy pic, but I couldn't resist the brag about my dog's perfect timing)

Wishing I had been in a Taxi Cab Confessional rigged with lipstick cameras instead of my SUV filled with Diet Coke and fruit roll ups, I fumbled for an age-appropriate answer that would satisfy her curiosity.  But I did not lie.

I chose “I went into the hospital and a doctor helped me get you out”, and if any of you take issue with that, you can keep your reproductive organs to yourself.

I have been thinking a lot lately about the little mistruths I tell my girls.  They aren’t big, but make life easier and often healthier for all of us.  Something like “Sorry girls, the W (their pet name for Wienerschnitzel) is closed” can work wonders.

Lance Armstrong said a major motivator in his decision to come clean was that he could no longer lie to his growing son.  Bill Clinton had to tell the world (and Chelsea) that he really did have a party in his pants, to which only Monica Lewinsky was invited.  And one of my all-time favorite athletes, Oscar De La Hoya, finally admitted to a dark history with drugs, alcohol and... much more.

Obviously the list goes on and on, both in and outside of the spotlight.  We are all human.  The question is whether I want my children to know that, and when.

Do I want my kids to know what happened that college night at Dick’s Last Resort, or what caused me to think that the melons in my hometown grocery store were engulfing me?  Yes, eventually.

I can get rid of photos and take down the blog posts, but I don’t want to.  Hopefully, we learn from our mistakes.  Hopefully, we become better people and better parents because of them.  And, hopefully, our children are stronger adults for it.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Robin Roberts Is Making Television History (And I Did Once Too)

Just yesterday Robin Roberts returned to the set of Good Morning America for the first time since her late August departure for bone marrow transplant surgery.  The visit was completely off camera, and really a test to see how Robin felt being back in the saddle.  I sure hope she had a good ride.

I had a mix of reactions to hearing about the return, ranging from anger that she may put her recovery at risk by over-extending herself to wanting to give her a high five.  I have settled somewhere in the middle.  I relate to her battle, commend her strength and admire her passion.

While I have never endured a physical challenge as great as Robin is right now, during our own time of difficulty, even the smaller trials can seem exhausting.  I like to think that I no longer face challenges in the work place because I am a woman, but I am also the mother of two (ridiculously awesome) small children.  That in itself requires perseverance.  And while I'd like to consider myself in perfect health, my mother, siblings and medicine cabinet are a constant reminder that I live with Lupus.

In short, I give huge props to Robin Roberts.  I know what it means to enjoy what you do so much that leaving it would be to compromise not only what you love but who you are.

Some say to love something is to let it go... but sometimes love is using every bit of strength you have to hold on, and become a better person for it.

Reading about Robin reminded me of my very first blog entry, about going into labor on the set of The Bachelorette.  Seeing as Monday was a holiday, today still feels to me like "Throwback Thursday".  So, here it is.

Any fan of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette knows how exciting each season premiere episode can be.  Up to 30 sexy singles gather to vie for the affection of America’s current heartthrob (or sweet heart).  The mansion is filled with glamorous people, shimmering lights, chilled drinks, an infinite amount of hope… and Chris Harrison.  But that's just what you see on camera.

Click here to finish reading "Lights, Camera, Labor".

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lance Armstrong, Can You Help Me Get This Message To Oprah Winfrey? You Owe Us All.

I did a long road trip in college with a caravan of cars that would race one another to the next tollbooth.  Whoever got there first won that leg, but had to pay for the rest of the cars in the group.  Granted college was some time ago, but if memory serves, I won pretty much every leg.  It wasn’t until we arrived at our destination and much of my beer money had been spent on tolls that I questioned if I had really won or lost.

I’m not sure if it’s human nature, the increased occurrence of natural disasters or just plain Oprah Winfrey that has encouraged us to pay it forward more and more, but I do think it’s happening.  What I love even more is how creative and thrifty people are getting in doing so.

As embarrassing as this is, Melrose Avenue has been a saving grace for me here in Los Angeles.  I’m not talking about the Diane Von Furstenberg/Alexander McQueen/Melrose Place part of it.  I mean the grungy, cheap boutiques whose businesses typically last less time than the trends they advertise in their store windows.  I love them.

Walking up and down Melrose got me the small amount of exercise I could handle during two pregnancies, and later was the perfect lullaby for my babies.  It was the best stop for an overpriced brunch or last minute gift for a co-worker (ie myself).  It was an outlet for me, piercing parlors and all.

I’ll never forget one afternoon that I headed out for a walk in a bad mood over something so inconsequential that I no longer remember what it was, but then found this.

I have shared the photo here before, but it is still on my mind.  It was one of those moments where I stopped still in my tracks.  I have no idea how I must have looked to the people-watchers nearby, who likely thought I was a good Samaritan picking up litter, or didn’t care to notice.  Honestly, I wish I had shared the experience with each and everyone around me in that moment.  I recognize that it could have been them that picked it up just as easily as me- but it wasn’t.  To them, it was garbage, as the footprints clearly demonstrate.  To me, it was treasure.

I have no idea who printed this message, or who placed it on the street.  I posted it on Facebook and Twitter with a small hope of finding its author, with no success.

I realize now, though, that my responsibility isn’t to find or thank the person who created this message, but to keep it going.  I hope you will do the same.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Of Course Hannah Horvath Wore Halters At Summer Camp (But I Sure As Heck Didn't)

I wish I were still in touch with my bunkmates from summer camp, as I guarantee I would love them more on Facebook than I did in the late 1980’s.  Honestly, there are so many people from my youth that I appreciate and enjoy way more now than I ever did in my past.  They are significantly more fascinating, or at least social media makes them appear so.

Still, my timeline raises a lot of questions for me.  Were you as interesting as a tween as you are now, or have I just lowered my expectations?  Was I so self-absorbed back then that I failed to recognize your uniqueness, or was it still in development?  Fabulosity had to exist pre-Facebook, right?

I have to believe that Girls’ Hannah Horvath has always been uber cool.  In fact, I envision her exiting the womb covered in tattoos, donning not her birthday suit, but an awesome thrift store find.  Hannah summed that ideal up for me just perfectly in Sunday night’s episode saying, “I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drummer, ever since I cut my camp t-shirt into a halter”.

I went to an all-girls summer camp on Sebago Lake in Maine.  Sure, my favorite counselor was the butch lesbian and not the gorgeous brunette twin from the Doublemint Gum commercial, but I never cut my t-shirt into a halter.  I wish I had.  I think.

I have so much respect for Hannah Horvath, for Lena Dunham, and for any camp-age kid that feels an urge to go against the grain and doesn’t turn around and take the smoother route.  Real self-awareness is difficult to come by, even in adulthood.  But to have it in adolescence, to trust it, to cultivate it, to keep it from being scared away, that is beauty in it’s truest form.

I’ve never wanted to be as an adult who I was as a child.  In fact, I don’t think any of us should.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  There was nothing wrong with the mini-me, aside from some extra baby fat and frizzy hair.  But I like to imagine being born a small ball of clay, that with time, molds into a beautiful work of art… hopefully wearing a halter top.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Big Fat Issue With Fat And "Diet Mom" Dara-Lynn Weiss

I've grown both as woman and a writer in the year since the birth of this blog.  No longer an infant, Dirty Laundry and Dirty Diapers is now the third toddler I am quite proud of.  More of you are reading (and returning) than ever before, and I am ridiculously grateful for that.

Still, if you want complete honesty, you have failed me a time or two.  There are a handful of posts that haven't earned the stellar readership their siblings have.  Now I know someone has gotta be the black sheep, but I will always do my due diligence to help my brood.  So for the next few weeks, I am taking advantage of Throwback Thursdays, and re-sharing some of my older, most beloved (but seemingly under-appreciated) posts.

Male or female, young or old, straight or gay, single, spouse or slut, we all think about body image.  And I have thought about it even more recently, with news of Dara-Lynn Weiss speaking out months after being ostracized for writing about the diet woes of her overweight daughter, age 7, in Vogue last spring.

While so much of this entire event is disturbing, (like putting your young daughter's private issue on blast in one of the most circulated magazines in the world), it is an important reminder of the issues with body image that are crippling our society.  I opened up about my own big "fat" issue back in December 2011.  Maybe you weren't a reader at the time or maybe you were too busy watching the trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, but whatever the excuse, you likely missed this:

I was the fat one.

Of the 3 children in my family, I was the chubbiest.  Of my best girl friends in high school, I was the heaviest.  Of all my college roommates, I was the one that could never borrow a dress for a formal.  And of all the women in the DMV when I got my first California license, I was the one that lied (the most) about my weight..

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Can't Sleep Because I Feel Like Casey Anthony

If yesterday's news had included the tragic report of a toddler suffocating on a plastic bag in a Los Angeles grocery store, it would have been all my fault.  Sort of.

While strolling the aisles looking for the perfect blend of organics, deceivingly cheap wine and Box Tops, I couldn't help but notice a frazzled mother carting along her very fussy two year old.  I was just about to give her the universal mom-nod for "been there" and throw her a parental gang sign when a beautiful calm came over the child.  She was pacifying herself by sucking on her chubby hand, which was gloved by a thin plastic produce bag.

So basically, she was pacifying herself with a murder weapon.

(just trying to lighten the mood here, people...)
I stopped in my tracks, jaw dropped, then did the unspeakable.  I shut my mouth and kept on walking.  Ironically, I am the one this is killing.

I have convinced myself that chubby hands has a long, happy, healthy life with a great BMI ahead of her.  But if she didn't, if somehow her mother's exhaustion, frustration, distraction or basic need for an emoticon had allowed a tragic end, I would have felt personally responsible.

I am unsure of why I didn't speak up.  I was in a rush (again).  I was minding my own business (for once in my life).  I was avoiding confrontation (for a change).  Whatever my reality may have been, it was unacceptable- right?

There is a very fine line between putting your nose where it doesn't belong and acting out for the greater good.  Love is the greatest gift we give our children, or is it?  If we fail to protect them and keep them safe from harm, then our ability to give love (and life) can be lost forever.

And in that case, where we fail to shelter an innocent child who is harmed tragically as a result, what makes us any different than a terrible human being like Casey Anthony?

Watch out because next time, I am speaking up.  Loudly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Would Do Anything For Five Minutes Alone With Farrah Abraham And A Big Bucket Of Hot Wax

Some people were meant to procreate.  Clearly I am one of them.

But even a princess is entitled to a bad day now and again.

Family Flu Fest 2013
So, did I panic and schedule her the next available Brazilian Blow Out, spray tan and wardrobe fix?  Not at all.  I hugged her and told her for the millionth time that she is the most beautiful thing on the planet- which is exactly what Farrah Abraham needs to tell her 3 year old daughter, Sophia.

Abraham recently took to her blog to detail the trials and tribulations of waxing her toddler's unibrow.  Yes, I'll hold while you read that line again.

Wax. Her. Toddler.

Now, if you've been for a wax, you know it is hardly a pleasant experience.  Still, whether for you, your significant other, or your significant ego, you made a (hopefully) conscious decision to do so, which I hope was worth the discomfort.  Rock on.

But what if you were forced to do so...  Forced to change the way you look...  Forced to endure pain...  Forced to feel inadequate...  Forced to have your innocence literally stripped away...  By the very person who should love you and every hair on your body unconditionally?  You would be confused.

Imagine how little Sophia feels.