Sunday, August 31, 2008

She's Baaaack!

Hello, friends. Yes, we are back and safe at home. The rest of my family is passed out (it is 5pm here, 9am in Japan). No one slept on the 10 hour flight home so I'm assuming jet lag is going to be a big issue here, especially with school starting Tuesday (!)

I've dropped by to say a quick thanks to my wonderful guest posters who held down the fort and kept my traffic flowing. I loved reading all the comments and thanks to those of you new readers who took the time to leave nice words. And, of course, thanks to my ex-pat pal, Debbie, without whose advice and suggestions I would have been lost.

I'm going to bid you sayonara now. I am still recuperating from bronchitis and neck spasms (how the hell I injured my neck is a mystery but try sitting on a ten hour flight when every time you lean back or turn right you want to blow the roof right off the plane).

I will write and post pictures as soon as I get my thoughts together. It was a fantastic trip, despite my son's whining and the constant rain. The Japanese are wonderful people and their country, especially Kyoto, is beautiful.

But being abroad always makes me truly appreciate the good ol' US of A.
It's good to be home.
Now I have to go wake everyone up.
Wish me luck.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blacklisted

Manic Mommy was one of my very first blogger friends. I found her, I loved her writing, loved her love of wine. That might have been enough to forge a beautiful, blogger friendship, but no, I had to go and do something humiliating, like, well, the likes of which I'm known for, unfortunately. For weeks, I commented on Manic Mommy's blog, laughing at her crazy life, sharing common looniness of my own, exposing intimate details about me, becoming friends... but I was doing it... to a total stranger! Never mind that I thought her blog looked different, no matter that the tone had changed, it was Manic Mommy, who else would it be? Well, hello! There are two Manic Mommies - duh! But I just kept trucking along, blah, blah, blahbiddy, blah, blah. Until the second Manic Mommy emailed me and said, "Uh, Fran, I don't know how to tell you this..." Oooh, can you feel the blood rushing to my cheeks? I'm experiencing it all over again, right now. Anyway, the real Manic Mommy (as far as I'm concerned) got a laugh out of it and our BBF status was truly formed.

She keeps me laughing with her wry take on domestic life. I hope you love her like I do but don't LET me come home and find out you've stolen my BBF from me. I know where you live.


Scene: 7:30 am. Approximately 12 hours after Manic Mommy and Daddy have emptied the living room of the following:

• One oversized, incredibly heavy, and entirely abused living room couch
• Its little sister, the soon-to-be-former love seat, same condition
• Under-couch detritus
• Embarrassingly large pile of under-couch detritus
• 3x3 square coffee table; gouged, scraped, stickered, and colored
• Matching end table with the drawer handled removed. In surprisingly good shape, given the fate of the its compatriots

Jordan’s Furniture Delivery Guy arrives at front door to be greeted by Manic Mommy, looking like a million bucks in grey t-shirt and pink pajama bottoms, hair back in a headband. She did put a bra on.

MM (huge smile – she’s getting new furniture!): Hi!

JFDG: Hi. My name is -

HRH (fresh on the scene, addressing JFDG): Do these look like clothes? They’re really ‘jamas.

JFDG: Oh, very nice. They’re SpongeBob. (back to MM) Hi, my name is Ariel and –

HRH: I also have a pair of baseball ‘jamas. And they look like clothes, too.

JFDG (cheerily): Oh, you like baseball? Who’s your favorite tea-

HRH (points to furniture care kit box in JFDG’s hand): What’s that? (runs off before answer)

JFDG comes in. He and MM discuss placement of furniture.

RC (enters living room wearing pajama t-shirt and underwear): I have a ‘mote control car. My Nana bought it for me for doing poops in the potty. Do you want to touch it?

HRH (not to be outdone): He has two remote control cars now. One from Nana and a monster truck one that Mommy bought when he wore big boy underwear for a whole day!

JFDG: Blank stare.

Leaves to get furniture.

JFDG II (having clearly been warned, remains silent, eyes averted) enters and begins removing French door from hinges.

RC: My Daddy has a hammer. And it’s loud too. Bang! BaNG! BANG!

JFDGs begin carrying in furniture/dodging little boys.

MM (attempting normal service-person-type conversation): Gee, it’s really muggy already. I thought it was supposed to rain all day today.

With each piece…

HRH: Once we had thunder and lightning and that tree over there…

…they are subjected…

MM: Guys, please stay out of the men’s way. Get that remote control car off the new table!

…to more…

RC: I have Diego underwear (sits on floor and spreads legs, knees bent). Want to see?

…of the same…

JDFG: Anyquestions?Canyousignhere?Thanksbye!

Manic Mommy gazes lovingly at pristine, matching, un-destroyed new living room…and barely hears him. Yeah, whatever, dude.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Daddy Trainee

I met Mike from The Newborn Identity briefly at BlogHer and liked him immediately cuz he's Heather's husband AND he's a writer living in LA. (I don't meet too many of those in San Francisco.) I didn't get to hang with him much that weekend but since reading his blog, I believe we're good friends. I love his take on being a SAHD and thought this blog could benefit from a hit of testosterone. He's a great writer and a terrific dad so without further adieu...meet Mike.

I was totally okay with being a stay at home dad. Some guys find it
below them, but not me. I realized that the most important job anyone
could have is raising a child, and within minutes of Maddie's coming
home I decided I was going to rock the world of the stay at home dad.
I was way over confident and had all these ideas of how awesome I was
going to be…that is until I learned the actual duties of the job.

One of the first duties I learned about was the changing of Maddie's
diaper. This proved way harder than anyone had told me. Previously,
whenever I talked to women about changing diapers, they all said, "Oh
my God! When you change a diaper watch out for the geyser of pee that
could burst out of a baby boy's pee-pee at any moment!" I heard this
so many times I thought, "Whoo-hoo! Changing the diaper of a girl baby
will be a cinch! Well, ladies who complain about baby boy wieners that
pee, perhaps you should have told us men that when you change a girl
baby's diaper you have to first wipe poo out of her vagina!!!! This
may seem less gross than a peeing baby penis to you, ladies, but to
dudes? Not so much! In fact it is just about the most disgusting thing
us dudes could ever imagine!

Anyhoo…once I got used to cleaning the part referenced above…I then
had to take Maddie to the doctor. I did my best to be a good dad and
packed an extra diaper, food, wipes, you name it. Once I got to the
doctor's office, however, they told me to undress Maddie so she would
be ready for the doctor once she came in to see her. I took off
Maddie's clothes and she started crying.

"She must be cold," said the nurse. "Wrap her in your blanket."

I gulped. "My blanket?"

The nurse sighed like I was a jackass. "You didn't bring one?"

I shook my head like a guilty little boy. She left the room and came
back with an adult sized hospital gown that she told me to wrap Maddie
in. Once she left I wrapped Maddie in the hospital gown and felt like
a total loser in the parenting world. I realized this stay at home
Daddy thing was not going to be as easy as I thought.

I am happy to say, however, that nine months in I have improved so
much at parenting that I am unafraid to call myself a pretty damn good
stay at home dad. Wiping poo from the va-jay-jay? No problem. I can
even do it without vomiting! Remembering blankets for the doctor's
appointment? Check. No problem. And, of course, the most important
one…loving my munchkin like nothing else in the world? Check.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Adventures In Babysitting

I am thrilled Heather from TheSpohrsAreMultiplying agreed to guest post for me while I'm gone. I met Heather at a BlogHer party for LA Moms Blog and liked her instantly. Her blog is a delicious mixture of sentiment and humor and her daughter, Maddie, is well, stunning. If you haven't read Heather's guest post for Black Hockey Jesus, you must go there right now. She had me at "Hi, there." Enjoy.

I started babysitting when I was 11 years old. Apparently the
neighborhood parents found me trustworthy. And, really, I WAS
trustworthy. I didn't snoop through their stuff or invite my friends
over or anything like that. I was a good babysitter, too. The kids
loved me because I would play lots of games, let them braid stuff into
my hair, and eat as much ice cream as they wanted. You know, typical
babysitter stuff.

This isn't to say I was the perfect babysitter. I would often trick
the kids to get a little peace and quiet to do my homework or watch
TV. I was sitting for two little boys who were incredibly
rambunctious. They tired me out after two hours and I didn't know HOW
I would make it through another four until their parents came home. I
got them ready for bed right after dinner, and herded them into their
joint bedroom at 6:45.

"Bedtime!" I chirped.

"But, it's still light out!" said the four year old.

"Oh, that's because it's daylight savings!" I told the four year old.

"What's daylight savings?" asked the six year old.

"Oh, that's where all the time changes and you go to bed when the sun
is still up. You'll learn about it in school this year. Time for bed
now!"

The rest of the night I watched HBO and ate Doritos. It was glorious.

Another time I was watching a young girl that went to sleep at seven
pm. Once I got her down, I was desperate for something sweet. There
wasn't any ice cream, candy, or soda in the house. I opened up the
pantry, hoping to find some chocolate chips or something. I didn't
discover any chocolate (and seriously, I would have had baking
chocolate at that point), but I DID find some Lucky Charms cereal in
the back corner. I grabbed the box of cereal, and then proceeded to
eat every last marshmallow out of the box. Hope the parents enjoyed
the frosted cereal sans lucky charms.

One time I was sitting for four kids - three boys and a girl. To say
they were hellions would give innocent hellions everywhere a bad name.
They were the type of siblings that were always trying to one-up each
other. If they were eating, it was a competition to finish first.
Playing in the backyard was a constant contest - and the SHEER VOLUME
at which they talked made my ears bleed. I went over to their house
one night with a borderline migraine, and I was really scared it would
turn into a full-fledged vomit-inducing headache. The children were in
typical form, so as soon as the parents left, I suggested a new game.

"What's the game?!" the middle boy asked excitedly.

"It's a contest where the four of you lay down, and you close your
eyes and you have to be completely still and silent. It's called,
'Coma.'"

"How do you WIIIIIIIIIIIN?!" whined the girl.

"Well, whoever is quiet and still the longest is the winner. I'll be
the judge, but you'll all hear if one of you talks or makes a noise."

"What do we win as a prize?" asked the oldest boy.

"The winner....gets the BIGGEST piece of PIZZA!"

The kids were sold. They all laid on the various couches and cushions
in the family room.

"Feel free to grab blankets and stuff. Get REALLY comfortable. Coma is
a VERY hard game. I don't know if you four are old enough to be really
good at it."

Well, they all took my challenge as a personal affront. They assumed
their positions with renewed vigor, and after I encouraged them to
close their eyes,,,they all fell asleep. It was a trick I pulled out
repeatedly, always with success.

Now that I'm a mom, I sometimes think about the things I did as a
babysitter to get a moment's piece - and I know that I will dip into
my bag of tricks again. I mean, come on - "Coma" is genius.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Noticed Her Right Away

I'm telling you right now I DID NOT pay today's guest poster, JCK of Motherscribe, to write this. Okay, maybe a chocolate or two... okay, maybe a bottle of Jack... okay, I paid her greenbacks, lots and lots of greenbacks! Happy now? No, I gave her nothing but she wrote this post anyway, go figure? I was uncomfortable publishing it at first, but then I figured, hey, I'm 46, no one has ever written anything this glowing about me before (except maybe Meghan on Thursday) and no one will probably ever write anything this flattering about me again, so, dammit all to hell, I'm too old to worry about what everyone else thinks, I'm basking in the blogger glow and posting this girl-on-girl sucker.

JCK is an amazing writer. If you like smart, sexy babes who write erotic poetry and slam down whiskey head on over to her blog. You'll be glad you did.


I noticed her right away. Just to the left of the breakfast buffet. Petite and gorgeous, she had that something, that je ne sais quoi. She could have been European, but….she wasn’t. She came toward me…

She said: JCK? Hi, I’m Fran from Merlot Mom. Oh, my GOD, Merlot Mom is a hottie! We had been reading each others’ blogs for a while. We chatted a bit. I invited her to join my breakfast table. And…that’s how we met. At the BlogHer conference in San Francisco this summer. Two moms having some time away from their children, enjoying some “me” time with 1,000 other women talking about blogging, among other things.

Merlot Mom is quite something. First, she’s incredibly warm and friendly. Best of all, she makes YOU feel good. And… she’s a looker. I’m not talking your everyday gorgeous Westside of Los Angeles kind of beauty. No. She has that “petite impossibly beautiful head of hair and does she EVER look bad?” kind of beauty. THAT kind. And you love her right away. She’s lovely. Yes, I kind of have a crush on her. But, shhh…don’t tell. Her head might get big and then she might tip over because of all that luscious petiteness she has going on. OH, she may try to say here on her blog that peri-menopause is knocking on her door and that her pants don’t fit like they used to. Ha! Don’t believe her. Personally, that’s why I occasionally wear fishnets. You can carry off the illusion that your legs are hot if your waist is just not as it once was...
Now, I live right next to Pasadena, which is due East of Merlot Mom, but still in Los Angeles county. Things are a bit different in the East. Slightly.

JCK lives on the Eastside
I drink whiskey.
My children play in dirt disguised as soil.
We have shops.
We have old dogs.
We have gorgeous mountains.
We vacation in California, with the occasional exotic trip to Florida to see family.

Fran lives on the Westside
Fran drinks wine, frequently merlot.
Her children play in sand at the beach.
She shops at boutiques.
They have 2 youthful dogs.
They have gorgeous mountains. [Damn it, Fran! You have both the beach & the mountains??!!]
They vacation to Japan! Yes, THE oh so frequent destination of Japan.
*********************
So, we have some lifestyle differences. But, Fran and I have a lot in common. We both have a boy and a girl. We both stay at home …otherwise known as a plethora of delights, whilst carrying out duties of driver, cook, housekeeper, scheduler, yeller, lover, etc., etc. You get the picture. In our previous lives, we were in the entertainment business. Although, she may have been one of the ones not hiring me…come to think of it. Damn you, Fran! Oh, but that’s in the past. Anyway, back to our commonalities…We like to talk about sex. We both like sex. Not together!! Oh, for the LOVE OF GOD, PEOPLE! Perhaps the thing I most identify with in Fran’s writing is our mutual need to find ourselves. We’re struggling to find our own identity tucked under our role as mom and wife. And, how do you find the balance? And, do you ever find it?
In the evening after the kids have fallen asleep, I love to curl up in bed with my red hot lap top and zip over here to see what Merlot Mom has written. I know that I will always find something that makes me laugh or nod my head…as in…you SAID IT, Sistuh! She’s a great read, our Merlot Mom, but…I don’t have to tell you that.
***********
When JCK isn’t simultaneously ogling and cussin’ at Merlot Mom, she can be found doing a little writing at Motherscribe. She is also known to talk about wearing fishnets whilst sippin’ whiskey, stuffing herself with chocolates, and pumping herself up on caffeine. You have to have some vices when you have children 10 months apart…

Monday, August 25, 2008

Guest Blogger Makes Herself At Home - And Spills

Margaret from Nanny Goats in Panties is my guest host today. If you've read her you know she's a true original, just check out her blog name. NGIP can spin the mundane into something wacky and wonderful. In fact, she turned our first (and only) meeting into a kidnapping adventure. Of course, this was before she met me and realized she could take me with one hand wrapped around her Starbucks coffee. So, without further adieu, please meet the wild, the crazy, the always ludicrous...Nanny Goats In Panties.


Nanny Goats here, filling in for Merlotmom while she is away in Japan. Wow, I love this place. There's so much foot room! My rat hole is a studio compared to this palace. And helloooo, refrigerator! OMG. Look at all this food! What is she feeding, an army? And a sub-zero big box, at that! Nice. Hey, there's some left over chocolate cake in here, you want some? No? Okay, more for me then.

Have you seen the wine cellar? Come on, I'll show you. Watch your step. The last time, I came down here, I tripped and broke my foot. Hurt like a MoFo, but the lawsuit settlement should make some of THAT pain go away, you know what I mean?

Sayyyy, this dusty bottle looks expensive. You don't think she'd mind if I just opened this bad boy up, do you? Hand me those glasses will you? We've got some celebrating to do. It's not every day, you're asked to guest blog on someone else's site. What? You are asked every day? What, do you pay them or something? No? You a brown-noser? Blog whore? What? What? Don't get your panties in a bundle, I was only joking, jeez, here have a glass of this. Yum, hard not to gulp this stuff right down.

...

So, you know why Merlotmom is going to Japan, right? Oh, is that what she told you? Yeah, that's what she told everybody. Just so people wouldn't keep asking. That's her cover. But she told me a long time ago about this trip. It was probably before you even knew her. I'm one of her best friends, you know. You know how people have BFFs? Well, we're BBFs! You know, Blogger Best Friends. You'll understand someday, kid, when you get one. Want a refill? Here you go. Drink up, so we can open another bottle.

Anyway, she told me about this Japan deal before she even told her husband. And I guess since she's already gone and it's probably a done deal, it's okay to tell you now. In fact, I'm sure she'd want me to tell you, so that she doesn't have to go through the tedious process of emailing each and every one of you, or even blogging about it herself when she gets back. Plus she may even chicken out when she gets back, making up all kinds of crap about what she did there. All lies, no doubt. So yeah, I should tell you so you'll know the truth and you'll also know why she's keeping it from the rest of you.

Are you ready for this? Merlotmom is a man. No! I'm serious. Quit laughing. Do you remember that time when her voice cracked when she gave her acceptance speech for her last blog award? She sounded just like a guy. And do you remember when she blogged about the OB-GYN? She didn't know what the hell she was talking about. I mean, really, a tongue depresser in your hoo-ha? And what straight woman calls their female doctor hot? She never went to no OB-GYN. Because she's a man. Well, I don't care if you believe me. It's true.

What does that have to do with going to Japan? Well, I'm getting to that, so stop mooing, you impatient cow. She was a colonel in the Air Force and served overseas during the war. Which war? How the hell do I know which war. What does it matter? Pass me another bottle off that rack, would you, dear? So anyway, like I was saying, she served in Japan and she was a guy and she got this girl pregnant over there and it was a girl and this girl's all grown up and the mother called up Merlotman, oops - I mean Merlotmom, and said something like, "I raised this girl all by myself and now it's your responsibility to see that she gets a good college education, so I'm sending her to you when she turns eighteen next year." Well, next year is now, so she's going over there for some paternity test to prove she's not the father.

So that's why I'm here, because I'm the only one she could trust with the new puppy and all. Did I mention that we're best friends?

Anyway, the thing is, if this test turns out to be right, then her whole cover is blown and you can imagine how embarrassing that will be for her. I mean a daughter AND she's a dude? Can you imagine how the press would have a field day with THAT one?

So if you have any feelings for Merlotmom, you'll keep this information to yourself. Don't go blabbing it to everyone and if you do, don't tell her you got it from me, and if you do, don't come crying to me when she stops speaking to you because you broke her heart. Just keep your trap shut. This is hard enough as it is.

You sure you don't want some chocolate cake? Plus, I gotta feed the dog, speaking of which, did I leave the front door open again?

Friday, August 22, 2008

That's What Blogger Friends Are For

Today's guest post is from Maggie at OkayFineDammit. She had taken a sanity hiatus from blogging and through, TheBloggess, I was introduced to her, and her many, MANY, ecstatic fans, the day she came out of hiding . She is an amazing writer and, well, I just like her, dammit! That is why I'm honored to host this post for her - one that, for reasons you will understand momentarily, she could not put on her own blog but sorely needed to write. I'm happy to give her a safe place to express herself. That's what blogger friends are for.

When Merlot Mom asked me to guest post here, I about went out of my mind with glee. Honestly, no one has ever asked me to guest post before, and I was overwhelmingly ecstatic and humbled by her request -- just ask her how quickly I responded. I still feel that way, though so much has changed since then.

Originally, the plan was to dig through Merlot Mom's archives; get to know her tone, figure out what inspires her; find words that wouldn't sully her space in her absence.... I didn't know what I would write, I just knew that after reading through her archives, I'd have a pretty good idea, and I'd go from there.

And then something happened. Last night, my brother tried to kill himself.

I don't know when this will post, but as I'm writing these words, I haven't slept for sixteen hours. I did not complete the article that was due today, nor have I bothered to contact my editor with an excuse. I have not showered. I have not even brushed my teeth. I am suffocating on verbal vomit, physically choking back words not safe for use on my own blog.

We're all writers here, right? Isn't that why we blog and gobble up other blogs so voraciously? We all can identify with the urge to wrestle our vaporous inner demons until they solidify on the page, to mark ourselves present in life's roll call, to say, "I'm here, dammit!" no matter how bad it gets. To be seen, acknowledged; to be validated. To work through things we can't understand until we've seen them for ourselves, by the grace of our own fingers dancing across the keyboard.

I've come to depend upon my blog as a sacred space that helps me figure out what I think, helps me name how I feel. It's indescribably therapeutic, and that's why it's so debilitating, to be like this: muzzled.

I get personal on my site, but never at the expense of those who did not ask to be revealed. I respect that my family and friends did not make the choice I did, to expose their veiny underbellies to the world. There is no way in hell I would ever say, on my own blog, that I was destroyed, vacuumed out, chewed to bits -- flat-out fish-knife gutted -- by the events of last night. I don't mind a bunch of Internet acquaintances knowing that I have an alcoholic, bipolar younger brother -- I am not ashamed. And because his story is inextricably interwoven with my own life's tapestry, one could argue I have the right to expose its weave if I so choose. But my blog is widely read by people I do know in real life, and so I draw the line. These words, his pain, my own undoing -- it's not for public entertainment. What's left today of his soul is not for sale, at least, not by me.

Still, I know myself well enough to know that at least part of the paralysis I felt today came not only from the aftershock of last night's scene (hunched helpless on the floor at 2:00am, waiting for the inevitable gunshot to shatter my cellular's speaker phone, the painful grating of his words to his wife, and to me, meant to cut, meant to destroy, the hours that passed like minutes, the arrival of the police, the heart-smashing vision of him in handcuffs, the sobbing puddle I became, the lack of sleep up until this minute), no, it didn't come only from that scene; it came from the inability to use my words to make sense of it. To write the post I needed to write, but couldn't. And so I stayed right here, in bed, all day, teeth un-brushed, body unmoved, article unwritten, its words wedged tight behind the dam of these other, unspeakable ones.

Until I remembered Merlot Mom's offer, and saw it for the true gift it was. Until I knew exactly what I would write here.

I cannot link to this post on my own blog, unfortunately. I cannot promote Merlot Mom's site on mine the way I wish I could. There are ways I'll circle around it, I'm sure; maybe I'll Twitter, maybe I'll email some of you and point you here -- but there will not be a mention of this on my own blog. If you, by chance, travel over there to comment, I will welcome your words, but I hope that you will not cite specifics. I want you to see these words, but I would never want my brother, nor anyone who knows him, to read what's been written here today.

Ohhhh, but how it has helped already. I don't even feel the pressure to turn this into an essay, to circle back and stun you with its profundity. I don't know what it means, what the lesson is, what move I will make next. I just know that today, I've been given a gift, an astonishing gift, to freely speak the words that have held me hostage all day long.

Last night, my very drunk, very sick brother held a loaded gun to his head for hours and I did not know what the outcome would be. He survived, for now, and, you know what? So did I. In no small part because I was able to say it aloud, here. Just to speak its name, suicide, no details necessary. No neat, tied up post, no promising mantra for tomorrow.

There is only one thing I know about what's going to happen next.

I'm going to get out of bed, walk the sweet, familiar path into my bathroom, and finally brush my teeth.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Love Affair With Merlotmom

If you've been reading my blog lately, and of course most of you have, you know that as of today, I am officially in transit to Japan! Yay! I am on my way to the airport, or in the airport, or on the tarmac, or in the plane flying over the Pacific right now. So, while the cats away, the mice will play, and I've lined up some pretty talented rodents for your reading pleasure.

Today, you'll be hearing from Meghan from A Mom Two Boys. I don't have to link to her because she's already done that below (she's thorough that way). I would tell you how Meghan and I met, fell in love, and would have had babies were it not for a thing called biology (and husbands), but being thorough and quick, she beat me to the punch and wrote all about it right here! I know you'll love her like I do.

Hi! I'm Meghan, of AMomTwoBoys. When Merlot Mom first approached me and insisted asked me to write a guest post for her I was all "Of COURSE I will!" because, I mean really!? Who isn't scared shitless doesn't love Merlot Mom? I know I DO. And since you're reading this, I can only assume you do to. And because I'm going to be talking about her today, I'm going to be lazy and start calling her MM to save us all a bit of time, k?

MM started this here blog way back on the second to last day of December, 2007. A mere seven and a half months ago, with this post. In it, she talked about drinking wine, heating up a frozen dinner, passing out on her son's pillow, va-jay-jay's, and she admitted to being better at keeping in touch electronically than she was at keeping in touch in REAL LIFE. And you know what? I fell in love with her right then and there.

But not really, because I didn't find her until early July. As in, a little over a month ago. I remember it well. It was gloomy sunny July morning and our mutual friend, Manic Mommy, had just linked to each of us in a post. Being a lover of vino, I was immediately drawn to this "Merlot Mom" person that Manic Mommy had tagged for a meme. So, of course, I immediately popped over to her site, where I was met with this post. And then I read a few more and was immediately drawn in.

Then, she replied to my comments and an email love affair soon commenced. We bonded over our love of wine, cerveza and mojito's, our extreme dislike for Kathie Lee Gifford and the fact that our houses are decorated in much the same style (although hers is nicer and MUCH cleaner than mine). And then she joined AllMediocre and our friendship was cemented. Until July 11th, a mere 4 days and 1,000 emails after our first meeting, when she emailed me with the news that would break my heart. She was leaving me in the dust and joining Alltop. Freaking Alltop, my AllMediocre's nemesis.

There were sweet "It's not you it's me"'s whispered in my ear via email. The usual "We can still be friends, can't we" was bantered about. Of course the answer was yes, but my heart was broken. I was even compelled to write a post about it. I was devastated.

But MM and I were destined to be friends, which was even more obvious when we met in San Francisco at the BlogHer conference. It's like we're twins, separated by 17 years. Here we are with some of our BlogHer Bitches:
blogherbitches
That's us in the middle.

Even the tragic accident she experienced at BlogHer couldn't keep us apart. Well, okay, it kind of kept us apart physically, because she spent so much damn time traipsing around San Francisco that she totally neglected me missed some kick ass opportunities to hang out with me. But it couldn't really tear us apart.

And upon our return home, MM quickly defected from Alltop to rejoin AllMediocre which only served to further harden the cement in which our friendship was rooted. That's right. I said it. Our friendship is rooted in CEMENT. Which doesn't REALLY seem like something you'd want to "root" in, but I'm confident that the copious amounts of wine flowing through our veins at any given time will keep us strong. And the fact that we're two awesome bitches who were destined to be friends, well that helps too.

I love you, Merlot Mom! And I know that you're rocking your trip to Japan right now, having an awesome, stress free time. Those poor people aren't going to know what hit em! But hurry back, k? Cause we miss you. Mwah.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Merlotmom Is Outta Here

I have a post up today entitled, What I Did This Summer, at LA Mom's Blog.
Please link over and read me there.

I'm leaving for Japan tomorrow but I have some amazing guest posters filling in for me while I sip sake and nibble naguro.

I'll be back after Labor Day with photos and stories to share.

Until then, enjoy my replacements. I always do.

Sayonara.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday


K, so I can't offer a giveaway every week but I can offer you eternal bliss if you show me your gratitude. Really. Try it.

Here's mine...

  1. I'm grateful for television and video games as I try to prepare for our trip.
  2. I'm grateful for waking up in time to push my puppy outside before she vomited on my carpet.
  3. I'm grateful for music and headphones.
  4. I'm grateful for NPR's "This American Life".
  5. I'm grateful for people who understand sarcasm.

Please tell me what your grateful for in your comments. Upon my return from Japan, I'll figure out Mr. Linky but he wasn't cooperating today, and frankly, gratitude I got, patience I'm a little short on.

Have a great rest of your Monday!

And The Winner of the Gratitude Contest Is...

See for yourself on the video below.
Congratulations winner! Email me.

Oh, and say NOTHING about my NY accent - sheesh, where did that come from?
Or my ugly hands, I'll have you know I was once asked to hand model (okay, it was twenty five years ago but who's counting?)

3...2...1...
video

Sunday, August 17, 2008

If You Don't Like Getting Drunk Dialed, Don't Read This Post

Okay, people, I haven't been around lately... Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone!?! I've stopped checking my stats 'cause it was not helping my Bipolar condition any. Some days you love me, some days you don't even know I'm alive. Yeah, yeah, you have lives, other loves, other friends. Sure, I'm not special. I get the message.

LOUD AND CLEAR.
I'M NOT DEAF, YA KNOW!

So... back to the reason I haven't been around. Well, it could be 'cause my parents were in town and I spent most of my time driving around LA or stuffing my face. It could be 'cause I'm getting ready for our trip across the world where I won't be able to read a single street sign (freaky), or it could be that I had writer's block so bad I couldn't think of one word to write that didn't suck balls.

I'm reminded of a scene from a Woody Allen movie ("Manhattan"??) where he's going down on a woman in bed but he's having trouble focusing because visions of his parents loom above his head, judging his technique and talking about him like he wasn't even there. (Now if that's not a 'Woody whacker' I don't know what is...ba dum bum.)

Well, since I rarely go down on my husband (yes, Tootsie F., I know we all should do it regularly to keep our hubby's happy but, cry me a river, when he starts treating me the same way he did when he WASN'T getting any...THAT's when I'll decide to give him some) my horrifying visions of parental criticism come to me when I'm writing.

(Insert NY Jewish accents here):

Mom (reading the monitor over my shoulder): "What!? I never did that! What the hell are you talking about? And...even if I did do that...who gave you permission to write about it? Sheldon, tell her she can't write about it."

Dad (over my other shoulder): "Eh, she could write about it if it were funny but I don't even think it's funny. Do you think it's funny? Now Woody Allen, HE's funny."

Soooooo, I haven't been around 'cause I've had parental-induced writer's block. Still kinda have it but since my parents are now in another time zone and since I went out to dinner and had a couple of Ketel One Cosmos, I still have nothing of value to say, but now I just don't give a shit.

Bwaaaaahhhhhh, merlotmom is scaaaaaary when she's drunk blogging. It's like gang bang drunk dialing. Wooo haaaa. This is fun. Maybe I'll give my husband a blow-job. Nahh. I'll go watch Mad Men instead. That Jon Hamm is hawwwt.

Oh, don't forget, see ya tomorrow for "Give Me The Grateful Life Monday" and the winners of last week's contest. Remember you can win 70 free prints from Snapfish or an awesome souvenir from Japan. Yes, Japan! You still have until 5pm PST to be a contender. (I'd link to the post but I'm still buzzed and now I'm horny and want to see Jon Hamm stick his hand up another women's coochie and then wrap his philandering digits around his stunning and pathetic sex-starved wife so you'll have to find the post yourself - you won't have to go too far, remember, I 've had writer's block.)

Okay, enough of me and my run-on lunacy. Tomorrow, my lovelies. I'm off to Hamm-land. I'm hot just thinking about it.

*photo courtesy of google images and myspace.com

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lest You Think I Exaggerate...

it's 10pm,
in merlotmom's house,
not a creature is stirring,
not even a mouse...

...who the hell am I kidding?!


video

And while I was absorbed in posting this, Peanut was quietly resting at my feet absorbed in a project of her very own...chewing on a dirty tampon. (I'm sparing you a video of it - you can thank me later.)

I wish I could say this was unusual... anyone wanna join me in a glass of wine?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hello! Ingrates! I Know You're Out There

First off, I know you're reading.
I'm grateful that so many of you are reading.
It truly makes my day.
(You have no idea.)

BUT...

if you're reading,
and I know you are,
how come so few of you are commenting??!?!?!

Do you have nothing to be grateful for?
Is it that difficult to conjure up something good that has come from your day, your week?

If you answered yes to those questions...
...all the more reason to take a frikkin' ride with me on the gratitude train, you fools.

What's with the passive negativity people?
Come on, now...
I know you have appreciation within you.
I have faith in you.

Okay, okay, if you need a little motivation to be positive in these final days of summer, I'll bite.
I get it.

How about if I randomly pick a winner from the commenters who tell me what they are grateful for. I will have my son (or daughter) pick the name out of a hat (or bowl) on Monday, August 17.

You can win either:

1. 70 FREE digital camera prints from snapfish (50 FREE for those of you who are already members)

OR

2. A souvenir from Japan (ain't gonna be no Nikon camera or Nintendo DS - this blog don't make no money yet peeps) but it will be something cool from another part of the world.

Your choice.

So come on, you show me yours (gratitude, that is) and I'll show you mine.

Or, don't comment and that will be your passive way of telling me you hate Give Me The Grateful Life - Mondays, you think it's totally queer, and you'll be thankful on Thanksgiving like everyone else. I'll 86 the sucker, right now.

All aboard!? Good luck.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday


Traveling has been a dream of mine since I went to Europe after graduating college. At that point, I hoped one day I could offer my kids an education beyond their classrooms, an opportunity to open their eyes earlier than I did. (Hey, it was 1984 - even Al Gore didn't know the internet was coming.)

Our travels began last summer with a trip to NY, London, and Paris. Despite my kids being awake when they should have been asleep and asleep when they should have been awake, and in spite of their constant whining and complaining, they came back changed, their purview of the world a little broader. For the few months that followed, instead of illustrating footballs, soccer balls, and dogs on his school projects, my son drew pictures of the London Bridge, the Empire State Building, and wrote stories about a really, bad man he learned about in a Paris museum named Hitler.

So, now that I'm past the procrastination and the palpitations of last week (sorry if I left a few of you short of breath), it's time for Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday. Here's what this bitch is showing gratitude for this week...

  1. I am grateful that we are embarking on an amazing, family adventure and hopeful we can hold our bladders long enough to skip those "traditional Japanese toilets". Ewwww.
  2. I am grateful for (unfat) Deb who is a godsend sent from above Jenn@Juggling life. TY.
  3. I am grateful that JCK walked away from a frightening, multiple car collision on Saturday night (and hope that she's still feeling okay).
  4. I am grateful that my kids are no longer in camp and we can all sleep in this week.
  5. I am grateful for professional carpet cleaners (yes, again).
What are you grateful for? Please tell me in your comments...
(I love that you comment people but this gratitude thing is supposed to benefit everyone . So tell me what your grateful for and we can all be the better for it. Dammit!)

*photo courtesy of pc.org

Friday, August 8, 2008

Please Officer - This Never Would Have Happened Before I Had Kids

It's been a few days since my last post. I've been buried underneath the rubble of my procrastination.

Before kids, there was no rubble. No giant piles of papers to be filed, no mounds of incomplete to-do lists suffocating under the weight of new, incomplete to-do lists.

Before kids, I was organized. So much so that I listed it as a skill on my resume. I never would have waited until the last minute to prepare for a trip to the market, to the dentist, much less to, uh, JAPAN!. We're leaving in less than two weeks and up until two days ago I hadn't given a moments thought to travel requirements, itinerary, anything.

A couple of months ago, on a whim, hubby and I decided that IF we could use airline miles and IF we could find an affordable hotel, we would go to Japan. (We like ignorant spontaneity like that, it's who we are). We got the miles and and the hotels (you'll find out why we got great deals later), so here we are off to convert our hard-earned worthless dollars into Yen for a family vacation. (Hey, it's a bargain compared to the Euro.)

So I've had a few months to meditate on our trip, prepare our schedule, check out the customs so we don't embarrass ourselves by doing something stupid like re-filling our own water glasses while dining out (apparently a Japanese no-no.) But did I prepare at all? Of course not, it's not who I am.

When my hubby and kids ask, "Are we going to see temples in Japan? "Do I have to use chopsticks in Japan?" Do I have to take my shoes off in Japan? " I wanna say "How the f**k should I know? Here's the book, crack open a page if you're so curious." Instead I say, "Oh, isn't this going to be a fun adventure. We're going to be daring world travelers! Yay!"

Then after everyone is asleep, my husband is satisfied (HA!) and blogs are read and written, my heart begins to palpitate and I have difficulty breathing. I decide to check out TripAdvisor.com just for a minute before I go to sleep. Many hours and a succession of mini-panic attacks later, I am sufficiently freaked out. I have journeyed miles on the internet and uncovered massive webs of mind-boggling transit lines, trains needing advance reservations, traffic congestion, unbearable August heat (hence the cheap hotel room), must-see tourist destinations I've never heard of and can't decipher how to get to, and difficulty using foreign credit cards. Wha????

I link over to a U.S. government travel site to escape the confusion and check a few easy things off my list: AC travel adapters, passports, luggage tags, etc. I make sure we have all the travel documents we need and don't carry anything forbidden (hmmm?) so we don't get detained at the airport or arrested and put in a Japanese jail cell (which I'm sure is spic-spanny clean but who wants to bring that souvenir back to the States.) I was hoping to feel better, more in control. Instead the site made things worse by warning me about avian flu, terrorism, earthquakes, monsoons (yes, 'tis the season, again why hotels are so cheap), criminal syndicate activity, pickpockets, and emergency call numbers (but not from a cell phone because the numbers don't work from cell phones). Cell phone!? Apparently we need to rent cell phones because ours won't work in Japan. How? Where? From whom? No iPhone? Whaaaa?

I print pages and pages of must-have information like who to call in case my children are abducted and which restaurant serves the best sushi. I haul ass to get shit done making everyone around me crazy and cursing the day they skimmed their anxiety stones into my zen rock garden of denial.

Ahhhhhh! My simple American mind is imploding. And Japanese. Shit, we have to learn Japanese. What is with these people? They're a modernized culture - don't they speak English?

Okay, okay, I'll stop. At this point you're probably hyperventilating right along with me so I'll spare you and tell you that shortly after my heart failures, I realized that Japan can't possibly be as bad as these websites purport because no one ever comes back from Japan and talks like they've just been to... Hell or... Colombia.

So, I'm going to try to chill out. Boil down my info sleuthing to the essentials because I know that once I get everyone on the plane without detention or arrests....once we settle into our hotel, I will take my pages and pages of essential tourist info, the countless hours of my precious time, and...
...bury them under the new itinerary we're going to get from the hotel concierge.

Before kids I never would have done this. I was so much saner than I am now. Okay, NOT. Just a different kinda crazy. I think this is better.

Sayonara.


P.S. I promise to send pictures. Hopefully, they're not all wet from the monsoon or sweaty from the heat.

P.P.S. If any of you world travelers have been to Tokyo or Kyoto, please, PLEASE, send advice and suggestions. I promise not to go ape shit on your ass.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons - Sort Of

I'm inundated with household bullshit today. I'm Donna Reed with a MAC. Buried in papers to fill out and checks to write. My ear tethered to a phone stuck on interminable hold made worse by corny, elevator soundtracks.

But I can find a way for even this dull day to not rank as a total loss. I would like to share a few of my delightful, domestic insights with you my bloggy, blogger friends (whether you want me to or not):

  1. If you drink four glasses of wine with dinner take an Advil before bed or be prepared to be a total bitch the next day.
  2. If you are woken in the middle of the night by the piercing shrieks of a cat being attacked by a coyote expect whatever sleep does follow to be riddled with horrifying, Manson-like images.
  3. Periodically clean out the center cone thing-y in your washing machine or you'll end up with a two inch thick, five inch long nasty smelling, wet sheet of moldy, lint-y sludge.
  4. Don't leave in the garbage the bag that held the fresh fish you cooked for dinner the night before.
  5. Never hide a tennis ball from a Labrador puppy behind your six foot fence and on top of your operating air conditioning unit. Where there's a ball, there's a way.
Yes, this is my life. Don't you wish you were me?

Hey, bitches! It's not Monday. I don't have to be grateful today.
Suck it.
(sorry, it's the hangover.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday was a bit delayed today because, frankly, I am having a hard time finding things to be grateful for.

Nothing is seriously wrong (there's something to be grateful for right there - see how well this works?), I'm just cranky and completely non-productive, after a frustrating, non-restful weekend.

I spent three hours this morning buying groceries, unloading them, and throwing out rotten food to make room for the new food that next week I will throw out to make room for the new, new food.

I spent $200 at Trader Joes. I should have suspected it because people kept passing me, taking stock of the contents in my wagon: three boxes of Mighty Bites cereal, 4 bins of cookies, two trays of frozen hash browns, 5 boxes of Mac and Cheese, and much, much more. More than a few of them made drive-by comments like, "Wow, you must have a big family," "Sure is a lot of food you got there." The checkout guy asked me if all my groceries would last a week.

Here's the thing: I have no idea.

My kids get obsessed with food, like Mighty Bites and TJ's frozen hash browns, so I buy a ton of them just so I don't run out and have to listen to them whine drive back to get more (because TJ's means getting on the freeway which on any day in LA is a risk to my sanity).

But Murphy's Law has it that whenever I do get my shit together enough to think ahead, stock up, be a doting mom to my precious, little kiddies, the damn rugrats decide they don't like those particular goodies anymore and now they "HAVE TO HAVE" something else. Something that I was not clairvoyant enough to have bought. Something I have to get back on the freeway to buy.

The most frustrating thing...when I try to fight back, buy only one or two of their current obsessions, they're eaten within a day and for the rest of the week all I hear is "We don't have ANYTHING to eat."

So we come full circle to me throwing out the rotten food to make way for the new. It's a vicious cycle I tell you, vicious. Particularly for someone who recycles and gives scraps to the dogs just so I can feel good about not wasting it.

So, with that said, I will attempt to come up with the bright side of my past week despite my less than enthusiastic state because isn't that what gratitude journals are for???

  1. I am grateful that we have the $$ to spend at Trader Joe's.
  2. I am grateful that I have an extra freezer in the garage (however dirty and sticky) to house all the food I bought with all the $$ I spent at Trader Joe's.
  3. I am grateful that Peanut has not yet licked the electrical outlets.
  4. I am grateful my life is not as dark as Batman: The Dark Knight (and that my voice isn't annoying like his either - WTF?).
  5. I am grateful for swimming laps in my heated pool which saved me from murdering everyone in my family this weekend.
I feel better already. Yup.

What are you grateful for this Monday?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Danger Zone: My Family Better Get It Together - Or Else


We have a sign posted outside our front door:

Caution: Puppy Enter At Your Own Risk

Okay, we don't really have a sign but it's a damn good idea.

Peanut has become comfortable in our household. She's destroyed hundreds of dollars worth of soccer balls, swim goggles, toilet plungers and telephones.


She's tricked us by cooperating for a few days: turning away from tasty, two-ply, double rolls of Charmin, resisting the temptation to jump onto counters, and keeping herself from kidnapping sweet, young things from the fruit bowl only to leave their 1/2 eaten corpses under the couch to die.

She gets our guards down so we loosen the reins and then...she attacks.

Well, fool us once, Peanut, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on...
everyone in my family except ME.

You see, people, I've had enough.

Enough of Peanut using our family and friends as spring boards and chew toys.
Of watching her push boxes, topple chairs, and leap over gates as she escapes full-proof restraining systems.
Of witnessing her fly over our couch like a chocolate gazelle and slide onto the coffee table like Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

I love you Peanut, but there ain't room in this house for the two of us.
You're just a puppy. This is isn't all your fault.
So, a message to my beloved family.
Shape up or Peanut ships the hell out.

I don't wanna do it. I'm hoping this will light a fire under your asses to ACTUALLY HELP WITH THE DOG LIKE YOU PROMISED.

Oh, you've forgotten those tranquil days of yore? The ones where you took Miss Greta for granted? Complaining about her lack of the fetching gene, her being a "lemon" lab who doesn't run or swim? You longed for a dog with pep, vigor, vitality - you wanted a puppy.

Well, you got what you wished for my lazy, little, loved ones and it ain't all soft fur and puppy-breath kisses, is it? Until now, I've been the one to bear the brunt of your chaotic canine craving but, as of today, I'm stepping aside.

From now on, you will feed her, brush her, train her and play fetch with her BEFORE she starts chewing vitamin bottles and capsizing Mommy's flower vases. You will all do this EVERY DAY (including you, my chronically, absentee husband), not just once in a while when you're feeling generous.

Remember, I was the person who didn't want to disturb the peace.
I was the person happy with just my Greta.
She and I understood each other.
We had a groove thing goin' on.

So, as much as I love Miss Peanut, and I do, it is up to the three of you lunkheads to get your acts together and do what it takes to care for her. And, no, that doesn't mean whining for me to clean up the pencil fragments or pry her out of your ice cream sundaes. It means handle it yourselves.

Leave me out of it.

Or else.

Consider yourselves warned.

Love,
Mom

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Gift: An Open Letter to My Kids

Let's get it out in the open.
Things have been different lately.
It looks like I'm here,
but my mind is somewhere else.
You're acting out.
You're used to having Mommy around,
nursing every wound, making ice cream sundaes,
listening to every run-on sentence steam-rolling through your charged-up, little brains.

I love being that mom to you guys.
I gave up a twenty year career to be that mom.
I wanted to see for myself what I was hearing second-hand from the nanny.
I wanted to see you grow up.
And I have never regretted my choice.
(Ok, temper tantrums and bratty behavior don't count.)

So here's my gift to you.

No, it's not an IPod.
No, it's not a cell phone.
It's a lesson.
Yes, a lesson.
Now, shut up and listen, dammit.

Mommy's grow up, too.
Yes, even mommy's as old as me.
It's one of the cool things about life.
You keep growing and changing until your very last day.
But for adults, growth isn't measured in pounds and inches,
it's more a mental thing.
Like when you think you know all there is to know about math,
only to have your teacher introduce long division.

You see, that trip I took,
that "blogging thing",
jarred something loose.
Something that laid dormant for a long time.

Thinking back, I can recall hints of awakening.
A slight yawn here, an oxygenating stretch there.
But this trip splashed cold water on the face
of my yearning.

My need to be ME.

Not just the me who is your mom.
Me, the writer.
Me, the wife.
Me, the friend.

As an adult, life gets overwhelming.
We get buried underneath the weight of too many priorities.
Like choosing between mint chocolate chip or jamoca almond fudge.

It's easy to do lots of things,
impossible to do any of them well.

To tackle this problem,
I have a solution.
I'm putting myself first.
Yes, ME. FIRST.
At least SOME of the time.

Selfish. Definitely.
Shocking. I bet.
Bad mommy policy. I think not.

You see, if I don't do this now,
I may never do it.
These past few weeks have taught me that,
you can bury your dreams,
hibernate and adapt.
but like a bulb in spring,
your passion will always manage
to push it's way through.

So, aside from teaching you good table manners,
and not to pick your nose in public,
this is one of the most valuable lessons I will hand down to you.

It's good to be selfish.

Not hoarding all the Oreos kind of selfish,
put yourself first kind of selfish.
Because if you don't,
no one else will.

This took me decades to learn,
I'm saving you precious time.
Because before you can say,
"my mommy is soooo old",
you'll be as old as me.

Yes. Really. You will.

I'll try to be patient as you both adjust
to Mommy's new world order.
Just remember,
in the theater that is my life,
you two will forever occupy the front row.
Only now you'll have to make room for me.

Yes. Really. You will.



*photo courtesy of Google Images

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