Friday, May 29, 2009

My Little Peanut

This is Peanut on any given day, trying to coax my her lazy sister, Greta, into playing:

This is Peanut today:

She's been throwing up for two days, she's lost four pounds, and she has ZERO interest in the ball.
There is something wrong with my Peanut.
$500 later, the x-rays show nothing foreign in her stomach, we're still waiting for the blood test results, and the vet says if she's not better by this afternoon she needs to be put in the hospital.
I can't think.  I can't work.  I'm worried about my Peanut.
I hope when I return from carpool, she barks at me and drops wet, disgusting balls at my feet.
Then I'll know my Peanut is back.
The quiet is killing me.
(Remind me of that next time I complain about her boundless energy, k?)

* Update.  It's 5pm. She's baaaack! When we returned home from carpool, Peanut dropped her tennis ball in my daughter's lap and barked.  And barked.  She made it on a walk around the block and is now roaming the backyard.  No evidence of sickness anywhere.   I'm crossing my fingers.  Thank you everyone for your concern.  So appreciated.  Here's my baby now.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Foul Ball

A few Saturdays ago, I pulled my car to the curb in front of a park where my daughter's friend was playing softball.   We used to live near this neighborhood but it had been at least six years since we'd been there.  The present games were about to end and the teams playing next were practicing on the periphery of the field so it was very crowded and had taken a few circles around the block to find a spot.

Before I stepped out of the car, I heard a thunderous bang.  The way the inside of my car shook, I thought a tree branch had fallen on the roof.

As my daughter and I got out to survey the damage, an adorable girl with long, blonde hair and a lanky pre-teen frame ran over to us.  "Oh my G-d, I'm  so sorry.  Are you okay?  I'm so sorry.  I am the worst pitcher."

She was penitent. 

"It's okay," I said, wanting to make her feel better.  "Accidents happen.  You can't be that bad,"  I pointed to the dent, "looks like that ball had some speed."

She cracked a tentative smile.  A man came up next to her and further apologized on her behalf.

I felt immediate relief.  I was being cool.  He was being cool.   We could get through this scene without collateral damage.

"Let me get her father for you," he said.


I tried to look casual and relaxed as I watched them inform him.  A handsome man with designer sunglasses, he looked vaguely familiar.  I watched as the father looked at his daughter, looked at me, and looked at my car.  I watched as his jaw got tight and a darkness fell over his expression.

I watched.
And I waited.
And waited.

I started feeling self-conscious.  Was he going to come over?  Was he going to leave me hanging there?  Was he going to wait for me to give up and leave with my tail dragging between my legs?

For a moment, I did consider going.  Ditching the imminent unpleasant confrontation and risk paying for the damage myself.  But I crossed my arms against my chest instead and stood firm against the side of my car.  Five minutes later he approached me.

"So, what do we have here," he said brusquely, as if he were a doctor and I was his hypochondriacal patient.

"The dent is right there above the window."

"I am so sorry," repeated the daughter.

The father stepped back.  "You know," he told me, "parking in front of a baseball field is like parking in front of a golf course.  You have to expect to get hit."

"So,"  I argued, as I pointed to all the cars densely parked on either side of me, "does that mean that all these people shouldn't have parked here either?" 

"Look,"  I tried to make light of it so I could get the hell out of there, "I have no idea what it will cost to take care of that, why don't you just give me your phone number and we'll deal with it when I find out."

The father went to get a business card, which was in his car, which was parked three cars in front of mine.

"I don't have any cards with me," he said walking back.

I immediately recognized his name as I entered it into my iPhone.  He was a Hollywood producer, at one time a very successful one, and a dad from my daughter's pre-school. I knew his wife.  His daughter and my daughter were friendly.  But it had been so many years that neither girl recognized each other. I did not let on that I knew who he was and he didn't bother asking my name.    I could feel his patience dwindle as I tapped his phone number into my keypad.

"All right.  I'll call you," I said as I put away the phone.

He walked off.  The other man, who had been standing there the whole time, shrugged his shoulders in perplexed apology.  The daughter, once again, apologized.  I felt worse for her, figuring the brunt of her father's bad mood was going to hit her with the same force her bad pitch had hit my car.

I drove away feeling manipulated.  Played.  My mind pitching woulda, coulda, shoulda fast balls.

 * * *                                                            

Today, I got two estimates for the repair.  It turns out, the dent is located in a spot that is difficult to access and it is part of one huge piece that has to be taken off, replaced and repainted.  The best estimate came to $1,000.

I did NOT want to call this guy and give him THAT number.  I felt sick.  I knew I should be more secure and not worry about being bullied by some slick, Hollywood producer...

But I asked my husband to do it.
And he said yes.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Children of the Recession: The Education Blame Game

In connection with Katie Couric's CBS reporting on Children of the Recession, SV Mom's Blog is dedicating all of today's posts to personal accounts of how the recession is affecting their contributors and their families.  The following is my story:

Sacramento is a sinkhole.  The more tax dollars we contribute, the more our futures get sucked down into their soiled, political toilet.  Los Angeles' sales tax is at an astonishing 9.25%.  Parking meter rates have doubled.  Living in this city has become impossible if not downright imbecile.   The cost of living here is skyrocketing, while the quality of our social services, employment, the value of our homes, are plummeting.  And our children, by way of having their education budgets slashed and burned, are the most innocent victims in all this political infighting and incompetence. 

Both of my children go to public school.  We have an active and generous parent body, more so than many schools in the LAUSD, nevertheless, I still watch from the front lines as our most  promising new teachers are fired, as our Assistant Principal is let go, as our already parent--funded programs such as art, music, drama, and P.E. are threatened, because those monies have to be diverted to hire additional teachers to keep class size down and other necessities, that should be, and have previously been, funded by the government and district.

On May 15, I participated in a parent rally called The Lemonade Initiative.  The idea came to three moms while watching their sons' baseball game, and within two weeks time, they mobilized over 200 local parents to speak out against the budget atrocities.  The rally was covered by CNN, NPR, the LA TIMES and others.  With their voices, they urged the Superintendent of their school district to come out and hear their complaints about wasteful spending and demands for smarter, more long-term solutions.  (To see a full list of their complaints and demands, go to

One newscaster, while covering the budget crisis, the looming teacher's strike and the parent rally, had the nerve to pose this editorial question to the parents, on air,

(please click here to read the rest of the article on LA Mom's Blog)

Thank you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Notes from the PMS Trenches

PMS episode #:  342

Dear Diary,

I can tell I'm about to get my period because I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon with my head inside my pantry. 

First, I grazed on chocolate, then cookies, then tortilla chips.  Then I tried to be good and ate a nectarine, an apple with peanut butter, and then I went back to chocolate.  After that, I drank chamomile tea to settle my stomach.

I thought I'd start off fresh today.  Have a healthy breakfast, one that would keep me full and ward off the munchies until I could eat a healthy lunch. 

After dropping my car off to be serviced, I walked to Wilshire Boulevard to get some breakfast.  There is no shortage of restaurants on this part of the Wilshire strip;  three Jewish delicatessens, a health food/yogurt cafe, Subway (ugh, as far as breakfast is concerned), Krispy get the picture, Diary. 

Stangely enough, I found myself walking past all these places.  It was as if my body had a will of it's own,  like it was my own personal ouija indicator, guiding me toward some mysterious culinary secret.

Well, never underestimate the power of PMS, it has excellent taste.  Here is where it led me:

Huckleberry is a small cafe that serves breakfast and lunch.  It's only a few months old and is run by the pastry chef of a well-known eatery a few doors away.

Run by a pastry chef.

Diary, how am I supposed to resist that?  PMS or no, but especially with PMS.  Gah!

After ordering my fried eggs atop roasted asparagus, dusted in a fine parmesan reggiano, I was supposed to move forward to let others order while I moved on to the cashier.  Instead,  I remained in place, ogling these:

and these:

and these:

Fresh berry tarts the size of my kitchen sink, vahlrona-filled croissants so big you need to nap or throw up afterward, chocolate truffle pudding, jelly-filled donuts sugar dusted to perfection, just baked country sourdough loaves, cupcakes, tea breads, and more, so much more.  
And all in one place!   I could get the nutrients my body needed, eggs, asparagus, cheese, and then chow down on all the carbs and sugar my body could tolerate.  They even had potato chips to satisfy my salt craving.
I found myself standing in the PMS pantry from heaven thinking all menstruating women should experience this manna.   
It was a morning I'll never forget.  
Today, I was a lucky girl.  A bit nauseous, and bloated, but a very lucky girl.
Until next month,
Your friend forever,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

It's Monday.  Give Me the Grateful Life Monday.

Except I am frustrated today.  With myself and my kids.
But in light of finding things to be grateful for (because isn't that what this is all about, finding gratitude even when you're not quite feeling it?), I am going to find a way to turn my angst into appreciation.

Here goes:

  • Even though my kids are both locked in their rooms because of yet another fight about chores and homework (and in the case of my son an all-out scream fest), I am grateful that they are home, safe, and healthy.
  • Instead of beating myself up over battling yet another round of writer's block, I am going to focus on how grateful I am for having the time to pursue something I love and TRY to take the pressure off so I can enjoy it.
  • Despite spending a significant part of my days distracted by and tending to my insatiably active puppy, I am still grateful for having her around 'cause she's so cute, an amazing guard dog, and I just couldn't imagine not having her around.  (Most of the time.)
  • I am grateful for the BBQ with friends last night and for watching a video of our kids in pre-school when my son's hair was neat and clean and so were the words that came out of his mouth.
  • I am grateful for having friends who are do-ers (Elisa, Susan and Jennifer - The Lemonade Initiative ladies) and motivate me to get out of my head and out of my house to fight injustices like the drastic LAUSD budget cuts.
  • I am grateful last night's earthquake was not the big one. 

Wow.  See what happened?  I went from forcing myself to feel grateful to actually feeling grateful.   If you "act" you will "be".  I honestly feel better.  Pretty cool.

What are you grateful for this week?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Un-Neighborly Neighbor


I had a post for today, a post mother's day post if you will, but after what just happened to me, that one will have to wait.

I've told you before how much I love where I live.  The mountains, the ocean, the tight-knit community.   But with every silk lining, I guess there comes a black cloud.

And today, I ran smack into one.

I was on my regular walk with my two Labradors, Greta and Peanut.  On the way up, toward the crest of a tall hill, there are two gated properties.  Two properties.  Three dogs.  Every time I pass these homes, I veer off the sidewalk and a bit into the street to make a safety zone between my dogs and the other three.  I can't go too far into the street because it is a narrow, winding road at the top of a hill and, though visibility is slim, cars still drive at full speed.

The three dogs came up to their gates, as they often do, pushing their snouts through the wrought iron and barking.  If my dogs were off leash, we could walk by without a hitch, but on leash, Peanut, my almost 2 y.o. rescue, still has issues when confronted by another dog.

No matter.  I've been there, done that.   I had the situation under control and we walked by with little more than a yank and a skip.

Until we returned on the way down.

That's when all the dogs went berserk.

There was barking, growling, lurching, twisting.  I was in the street, attempting to get some distance but, instead, I got caught up in a tightening snare of leashes, bared teeth and furry muscle. 

Just then a woman came out of her home about 100 feet up the hill and said something to me. 

"What?" I replied, cupping my hand to my ear trying to block out the dogs, "I can't hear you."

"I saw you hit your dog," she repeated.

Taken aback (I assumed she was going to ask if I needed some help),  I responded, "I did NOT hit my dog."

"I saw you," she accused, pointing her finger at me as she further threatened, "and if you do it again I'm going to call the police."  

With that she turned around and went out of sight denying me the chance to prove my innocence.  To tell her, what anyone who knows me already knows, that I am a HUGE dog lover.  That I go above and beyond to take excellent care of my dogs whom I would NEVER abuse.

I didn't get to say any of that.

As soon as I untangled myself and began the descent toward home,  my blood started to boil.  My heart started to race.  My breathing got tight.  I began to think of all the things I should have said had I been quicker to the draw.

So I did what any falsely accused person would do...

I screamed back at her at the top of my lungs:




Okay, maybe not ANY falsely accused person, but THIS falsely accused person.


A bit later, I'm finding it interesting, worthy of some analysis, that I was so enraged by a stranger.  I know I didn't hit my dog but I am livid that she doesn't know it, too.   This woman walked into her house convinced that I was a dog abuser.  She's telling people, as I'm telling you, that she encountered some crazy woman who screamed insults at her from halfway down the block when all she was trying to do was protect a dog.

Well, at least I have my readers, who will hear my truth.  There is some vindication in that.  And at least now, having let it all out, I won't go back and leave a nasty, turd encrusted note in her mailbox.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there.  I hope you had a restful day.  I spent much of mine in a car on the 405 Fwy in search of discounted outdoor furniture advertised on Craig's List.  But we found some pretty nice pieces so I'm cool with it.

I am grateful for a few things today...

I am grateful for spending a quiet weekend with both my husband and my kids because it's been a while.
I am grateful that my husband will NOT be traveling for at least another two weeks.
I am grateful for my daughter who, in my opinion, and in the opinion of others, is growing up to be a really lovely girl.
I am grateful that my kids are both healthy and in school and my days are my own again.
I am grateful for the Mother's Day card my (almost) 9 year old son gave me.  It will definitely go in the memory box.  (See below):


What are you grateful for this week????

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pre-Summertime Angst

This is the time of year, right before school ends, when I hit my forehead in realization and exclaim,  "Holy Shit!  What the f*ck are my kids going to do all summer?"

It's not just that I'm lazy.  Or that I procrastinate.  Okay, it's a little bit of that.  But it's also that in January, when I start asking my kids what they would like to do this summer, they always answer the same way,  "Stay home".  And when I tell them they can't sit home and watch tv all day and then pleasantly offer suggestions, all I hear in response is, "Ewww.  No.  That place sucked."  Or  "Their buses had lice," or  "So and so went last year and said that camp was soooo boring".

After spacing out my requests, in May, I usually find myself in the same position. 


I could do as other parents do and sign my kids up for things regardless of whether they say they like them or not.  It works for some.  It does NOT work for me.  I've tried.  Really.  In fact, I've spent lots of money, on camps, on violin, piano, and tennis lessons to name only a few.  Trust me, my kids are as stubborn as I am and when they don't want to do something it becomes a very expensive stand-off - one that I most often lose because I'm the one paying.

So.  Here I am.  May.  Nuthin'. 

Now that the weather is feeling like summer, I have developed this fantasy in my head that maybe it could be fun to be non-committed for the summer.  Maybe we'll make plans -  go to the beach, ride bikes, visit the aquarium.  Maybe we could make good use of the time out of school and of living in SoCal.  The skies the limit since anything I choose would cost the same or less than the pricey day camps around here.

But I'm no fool.  I know where this is taking me.
Whines.  Moans.  Boredom....Anti-anxiety meds.

Here's the thing.  At this point, I'm just too damn tired to deal with it. 

Zoloft anyone?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Very Own Seinfeld Moment - Why I'll Never Dance In Public Again

Warhol said we'll all have our fifteen minutes of fame.

Well, I don't know about fame, but recently I had my fifteen minutes of shame.

It was my own Elaine Benes moment, you know, the Seinfeld episode where she thinks she's a hot dancer, moving around, arms and legs akimbo, unaware that everyone around her is cringing.

It happened in a Baskin Robbins.  A happy place, where kids and parents pause their protests in favor of smiles and sugar.  Where families find common ground sharing the joy of catching stray drops of Jamoca Almond Fudge with their tongues.

The other night, this was my family.  We were each enjoying our ice cream, enjoying the night.  I was feeling so good,  in fact,  that I started swaying to the disco tune playing on the store's sound system. 

Get Down, Boogie, Oogie, Oogie. 
Get Down, Boogie, Oogie, Oogie.

I closed my eyes as I lip-synced the words, scrunching my face and swirling my hips with white man's, '70s era enthusiasm.  All the while thinking, I'm cool I've got the moves.  Sure they were seventies moves but I still thought I was cool.

When I opened my eyes, it took a few time-delayed seconds to realize that the look on my kids' faces was not of approval but of shame.  For me, and of course, total embarrassment for them.   But worse than that was the look on the face of a sweet, yellow-haired four year old sitting with her mother and father at the table next to ours. 

As I turned to her, she continued to stare blankly at me.  I smiled, thinking I had at least managed to entertain an innocent little girl, not yet tainted with the haughty adolescence of my own children.

And then she screamed.  Screamed at the top of her lungs.  Tears flowed down her face and into her chocolate ice cream topped with gummy bears.  I looked at the mother who was looking at me. 

"I'm sorry," she said as she shrugged her shoulders, verifying for me that, yes, in fact, her little girl was horrified BY ME.

"Mom," my son said.  "You scared her...Jeez."

My husband was hiding behind his frozen yogurt, smirking. 

My daughter was out and out laughing as she said, while trying to catch her breath, "Mom, do NOT do that again."

I tried to laugh it off but no one, including myself, was buying it.  A few minutes later, I turned back toward the little girl who had begun to quiet and resume breathing normally.  I curled my lips inward and raised my eyebrows in apology.  Apparently this frightened her all over again because she let out another terrified wail.

Her screams did not subside and neither did my embarrassment.  I pulled my family outside and we finished our ice creams in the car.

I may never dance in public again.  That fifteen minutes was enough for a lifetime.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Give Me The Grateful Life - Monday

After a hectic few weeks where my life went a bit off-kilter with hubby's surgery, a lingering flu, and my child's failing grades, etc, I am glad to say that my daily routine is back in full swing.  To think, I had been lamenting that routine!  The old adage is definitely true, you don't realize how much you appreciate something until that something is gone.

Heretofore my grateful post:

  • I am grateful my hubby has only a week or two left in his brace (I need his strong arms and I need my squishy pillow back!)
  • I am grateful for a fun weekend with my family in Utah where we celebrated my dad's 75th birthday.
  • I am grateful my husband will stop traveling so much after next week - his absence has made me appreciate him more  and I would like to have him around for a while. (But maybe not too long or the appreciation thing might backfire).   ;)
  • I am grateful my kids are old enough that traveling on a plane with them was actually a pleasure.
  • I am grateful to have the energy to start exercising again. (It makes my family grateful too - trust me.)

What are you grateful for this week?

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