A Dozen Years

I have been married for a dozen years on June 10th. I keep reflecting on this. I like the sound of it more than the sound of 12 years. I think it is the materialist in me. A dozen eggs, a dozen necklaces, a dozen doughnuts….mmmm. Like a dozen eggs, a couple of years have been cracked and (emotionally) discarded, but most of them have made wonderful food for the soul. I am happy. I am sated. I look forward with joy in my marriage. I know that a dozen years later, I am still beloved to him, as he is to me.

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My husband and I met in high school. Adolescence threw me two giant curve balls otherwise known as breasts and I went from an A cup to a D cup in one year. This is NOT the stuff dreams are made of for a young girl, despite how it may sound. There was a traumatic bra buying incident where my mother learned that she could fit her head inside the cup of my bra. I loved that woman madly, but my 14-year-old humor had not evolved enough for that joke.

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I reference my gigantic adolescent boobs because they are responsible for meeting my husband. Any and every 16-year-old boy is interested in advanced female physical development and we started dating. Any adult can tell you this is not enough to sustain a relationship and 4 weeks later it was over because he fell deeply in love with my dearest friend. I loved her far more than I liked him and we all moved on in high school. By that I mean that I detested him but still loved her.

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Fast forward 10 years and a meeting as adults. I lived in Manhattan and he lived in Chicago. He found my email address we became really good friends. His humor got me. His humor! Our locations dictated that our friendship had to come first and I am forever grateful for this. Without a physical connection, we learned so much about each other. I went through a quarter life crisis and he was my rock, my sounding board and my greatest cheerleader. To this day, he is my greatest cheerleader. His belief in my abilities lifts my heart and I pray he never finds out I am not as talented as he believes.

We have had times when we did not really like one another. We have had times when a bit of the faith in love was lost. There was a year I was really mad and did not know how to get passed it. There were a few years where we were broken together trying to start a family.

In all of that, we had faith and perseverance because of our foundation. That friendship forged on a landline phone grounded us. Our knowledge and love of what was deep down inside has sustained our marriage. I love him and depend on his love returned. He is the best father for our two boys. I pinch myself when I think about what he does for our family. A lot of it he does because that is who he is as a man, but I know there is quite a bit in it because he loves me. That makes me swoon just as it did a dozen years ago saying “I do.”

A few years ago he asked me why I had chosen to get a breast reduction. I felt like he was speaking a different language. I looked at him and said it was because they were miserable, always in the way and probably would be to my waist by now. He said, “They were the coolest thing ever.”

I kind of love that the awful teenager still resides just a little bit inside the body of the most beloved man. Cheers Patrick, to us and a dozen years!

us

Into the Woods of Motherhood

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Lisa Helmi Johanson and Anthony Chatmon II as Little Red and the Wolf

My favorite musical is “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. I had the fortune of playing Little Red in high school and also wrote my college paper about how Sondheim had taken bits of music history (Wagner’s leitmotifs being my favorite) and wove it throughout the score. He also wove all the major fairy tales we learned as children into one big, dark and intriguing tale.

My mother’s day gift was to see the national tour of Fiasco’s staging of Into The Woods at the Ahmanson Theater. My darling husband surprised me with 4th row seats (swoon) and I was skeptic but excited about the production. They had scaled it down visually and made it more abstract in appearance. The characters sat in chairs around the stage and played instruments when they were not active on the stage. I thought it could be awful and perhaps my favorite, over the top, musical would be ruined.

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It was wonderful. Without the big production to sidetrack my senses, I focused on the story more than I ever had. It was the first time I had viewed the show since becoming a mother, and really a true adult. If you haven’t seen it, the story is that all of the characters have a big wish for life. They have to venture into the woods (a metaphor for life) to try and “get their wish”. By the end of the first act, they each achieve that wish. The second act is about what happens when your wish isn’t everything you thought it would be. Sound familiar?

I desperately wanted at least 2 children. We had fertility problems. This is a major theme in the musical. I could identify…. I saw the Baker and his wife confused about how to care for a baby once their dream was realized. This hit home with me. My tiny T is a handful with big dreams and feelings these days and I struggle with how to firmly yet kindly manage his wishes and desires. I have been working on how to mother him and feeling inadequate about my progress. I felt so invigorated after seeing my favorite show through fresh, time travelled eyes. My least favorite song in the show has always been “Children Will Listen.” I did not see how it fit with the story. I thought it was a pretty song woven in for beauty’s sake. This time, it brought tears to my eyes. How could I not have understood before? The entire show is about how to navigate through the woods of life and whether you choose the good, bad, easy or hard path. What can be more relevant in that plot line than guiding a child?

Today for mother’s day, I am going to reflect upon these lyrics. I have already lost my temper when my tiny boy refused to sit through church. I could have been gentler. I could have focused on the gift and card he made me and gave me with such a glow in his eyes. I could have let it go instead of telling him how frustrated I was. Because they always listen and they feel so deeply.

Thank you dear husband for that beautiful gift. I will share the lyrics with you mamas out there who may need the same reminder I did.

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CHILDREN WILL LISTEN

How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn

To learn what to be
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free

Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes a spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

How do you say to a child who’s in flight
“Don’t slip away and I won’t hold so tight”
What can you say that no matter how slight
Won’t be misunderstood.
What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?
Only whatever you put in it’s head
Things that your mother and father had said
Which were left to them too

Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do them too
Children will see
And learn
Guide them, but step away

Children will glisten
Tamper with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”
Children will listen

***I pulled pictures off the web from the Fiasco Tour’s Website. Some of the characters and cast have rotated roles or out of the show, but it gives you an idea of the feel of the show.

WHEN ONE LICKS A DOOR STOP

Today the tiny ones and I had a long drive. After an hour and a half of Glee‘s version of Proud Mary, I decided that for the longevity of my sanity and their lives, we should stop and get lunch. We parked one block away from the pizza spot that was deemed acceptable. Out of sheer laziness, I decided to carry my 16-month-old lion cub instead of strapping him in his carrier. (Mistake #1) The village that housed our restaurant rejuvenated my tired (ok crabby) soul and as we passed a bakery I announced that I would spring for cookies after lunch. (Mistake #2) We were given a booth at the pizza joint and I assumed the 3 of us would just share one side instead of putting the lion cub in a high chair, as he hates being confined. (Mistake #3) It started out blissful as both boys wanted to eat my salad with me and I thought maybe people would think I was one of the unicorn moms who has perfect children. As soon as the pizza came and they only brought one bowl of ranch to dip, the sh*% hit the fan. The lion cub was climbing over his brother to rub pizza crust on the opaque glass separating the booths and screaming when his brother hoarded the ranch. The older one was furious he couldn’t eat in peace and I quickly got a box and the check. Balancing the pizza box in my arms with the wily lion cub, I was reminded that I promised dessert. NOW, here is what I forgot about the quaint village. It hosts 5 colleges so the clientele on a Sunday afternoon is pondering, meandering and perhaps nursing a hangover. There were 2 couples in front of us in the bakery. I am certain that they each discussed the meaning of life with the cashier. I KNOW they discussed what filled every single sandwich on the menu because it took 10 minutes to get to us.

10 minutes. Do you know what damage can be done in 10 minutes with 2 small children? By 2, I mean 1 in this instance because the older one hates being in trouble, but loves to tattle. My lion cub started in on the stacked high chairs because he was not strapped into his carrier, because of my earlier laziness and I couldn’t hold him and the $5 worth of pizza in the stupid take out box. He moved on to the door stop. First he touched it. I tried to whisper hiss at him as I could tell the intellectual clientele would be offended by my mom voice ruining their Sunday coffee. He didn’t care, even a little. He proceeded to lick the door stop and the surrounding area, which is where everyone walks. At that point, it was my turn to order. I told his brother to watch and make sure the door didn’t swing open and hit the little floor licker. Not one patron offered to move the little stinker for me. We got our dessert and I carried a screaming, writhing child to the car while the other one screamed, “HOLD MY HAND MOMMY!”

Clearly, I left the children with their father as soon as we got home. I came home later to a wonderful dinner of spicy chicken sausage and corn on the cob. After we ate, my husband informed me the lion cub had massive diarrhea. I asked him if he had thought about that before feeding him spicy sausage and corn on the cob. Nope. (Mistake #4)

 

Stocking Stuffer Musts–If Santa Is Not A Sure Thing

I am incapable of shutting my mouth and smiling kindly when backed into a corner. It is a glaring flaw in my personality. Just today I was telling my mom about a conversation where my inner common sense was screaming at me to just listen to someone I completely disagreed with and let it go. Just listen and let it go. Nope. I firmly ignored that poised inner beauty and let the sweaty, striped capri pant, crazy haired girl with red armpits from laser treatment carry on like a Halloween lunatic. I’ve been this way since childhood. This unfortunate characteristic was the reason for the entire Santa Claus unmasking. The well mannered, quiet girl would have gotten a couple more years of childhood, but the loud mouth had to be protected by her mother. Here is what happened.

Third grade started off with getting an out-of-the-blue giant nosebleed on my new dress, on the first day of school and my teacher would not let me walk the one block home to change my dress. This was a sign, in hindsight. Near Christmas vacation, we were in class doing a Christmas craft. The girl next to me said Santa Claus was not real. I told her if she believed that then he would not come and bring her presents. She said that she knew he was not real. This started a full blown discussion/argument including everyone around our desks and I was the ONLY one on my side. (Ok, Kristen Amy, WHERE WERE YOU, best friend??) I went home and indignantly replayed it all for my mother. A couple of hours later, she took me across the street to our church, early before choir practice. We sat in the sanctuary and she told me that Santa was really named Leanne and Dennis–but really just Leanne because I know my dad wasn’t picking out the presents. I sobbed. I was devastated. I asked if this meant that the tooth fairy also was not real. So many dreams were shattered that night.

IF Santa is not a sure thing for your stocking, may I suggest some must haves to make the holiday stocking commercial, merry and feminine.

BEAUTY Category:

I found the brand Beautycounter and am a convert. They stand on the premise that we must do a better job promoting safer products. Our skin is our largest organ and we slather it with unregulated chemicals. Rest assured that everything this mom owned company sells is safer for you and your littles. I sell it on the side, but these are two of my favorites. I could go crazy telling you about all my favs, but here are a couple. Want more info, http://www.beautycounter.com/katieszurpicki

Cleansing Balm, or aka miracle balm. $80 and lasts about 6 months. The price is steep, but lasts forever and is worth every cent. Cleanse your face with it, remove make up, slather it all over after a day in the sun or a day in a blizzard, rub it over bitten cuticles or tiny cuts. It is the most incredible soothing product I have ever used. The incredible scent comes from essential citrus oils.

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Beautycounter Body Butter, $39. Winter dries out your skin. You need that extra layer of thickness to protect yourself. My fingers crack, even in 65 degree weather. This is amazing. Again, the scent is from essential citrus oil. You are paying for the extra time in sourcing the ingredients and time spent ensuring its quality and safety. Support safer products. My lion cub has very sensitive skin and this soothes his baby eczema.

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Lush bath bombs. Perhaps the phrase “it’s the bomb” came from referring to this fabulousness? My entire family loves these. I convinced my child at 10 months that baths were tolerable with the magic dragon egg bath bomb that turned colors as it fizzed. Buy them. Don’t worry if your tub turns a color. A good clorox spritz will get rid of it and you can bathe again with more of these magic balls. http://www.lush.com

Everyone Soap and Lotion, $11ish. I found these at Whole Foods, although available on Amazon.com as well. This is a non GMO and essential oil scented line. This is a HUGE bang for your buck and it’s fantastic. I bubble up the boys’ bath to the tippy top and then turn around and use it neck to toe on myself. This is my new fav for the bathing process.

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Living Proof Dry Volume Blast, $29 sephora.com. I just received an unfortunate haircut that I am referring to as the reverse mullet. I have more styling options with this as my #1 favorite hair product. Spray it after drying your hair, all over, mess it up and finish styling. It is equally as awesome as their dry shampoo. Don’t judge the product by my hair, just trust me.

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Wearables:

Ditch the conventional stocking and fill up some pretty cowboy boots with goodies instead. This is the most versatile shoe ever. I’ve been wearing boots for 20 plus years. I’ve given up my highest heels after having 2 teenies, but boots make me feel pretty and I can chase my cubs at the park in them. If you’re new, don’t go conservative. Jump in. Wear color. Cute dress with boots? Why not. Skinny jeans tucked in? Absolutely. Feeling fat? Boyfriend jeans, cuffed with a hint of boot peeking out. Perfection. No one looks at thighs when you have a detailed boot. http://www.countryoutfitter.com has my favs. Check out the Corral brand. Yes. Please.

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Athleta Chauranga capri, $64. It may be the first stripe to make thighs appear thinner and your booty perkier. I swear on all that is sacred that this is the BEST capri ever made. Put an IOU in the stocking with this picture because they’re back ordered until January, but get them. GET THEM!! Amazing. Plus, you can size down. Vanity sizing works for me. They come in a full length tight as well, but the fabrication is not the same. The magic is in the capri.

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Lou and Grey Steeeetch top, $59.50. Lou and Grey has wearable pajama fabrics. It’s the equivalent of a security blanket that has been washed 1000 times. Their fabrics are to die for. The fit is beautiful and skirts the timeless and trendy category in just the right way. I like this top because you can go full on athleisure with it. Pretend you are going to the gym when you pair this with your chaturanga capri. Check out the thumb tab on the sleeve. You look like you are pulled together with fitness goals. Win.

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Thingies:

Thegrommet.com. This site is my current obsession. They launch new products regularly and it is all based upon individual creativity. I. LOVE. IT. MADLY. You also get a video of the product. Check out the chicken launcher game. I was crying with laughter. BUT, to continue with the feminine stocking stuffer, I really eye balled the Impwear laminated cotton bags starting at $24.95. Laminated cotton. This not only appeals to the mother in me, but the clean freak. It is a giant pain to clean makeup bags, but I gag when bags get too dirty. This is a wipe down bag WITH a loop to hook upon things. You have several options in color combos too. Perfection.

JBL Flip 3 Wireless speaker, $79.99 (currently at Target.com). I’m not tech savvy. I know Beats and Bose have these too, but the JBL had the best price and I love it. I hook up my Pandora app from my phone and have been rocking out to Christmas carols (Hello Trans Siberian and Manheim Steamroller) since November 1. I love that there are color options too. Perfect for a techie wannabe.

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Oil Diffuser. I’m not into candles. I don’t like the dust that accumulates on top and I’m over plug ins now that I have discovered the beauty of essential oils. I am a sucker. Plus, I feel fancy blending the scents. I am a scent junkie and this hits the spot. Plus, if you blend Eastern and Western medicine, there is science to essential oils and healing properties. In full disclosure, I rubbed fennel oil all over myself in an attempt to nurse the tiniest tiny longer and it didn’t work. However, I diffuse the left over fennel oil and it works instantly to make me smile with its scent. Amazon has a million oil diffusers to choose from.Youngliving.com has the best oils, but man are they expensive! Their Thieves oil is both therapeutic (hello cold and flu season) and it’s the best smell ever. It comes in cleaning products as well as the oil. It is the icing on the essential oil cake. It is, however, about $41.

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Here are a couple from Amazon that I have loved blending and are in the $7-$12 range. Clove and sweet orange are lovely together and perfect for a cozy winter afternoon. They are not just for the ladies either. My husband asked for a diffuser and starter set for his office. Boom.

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LaMarca Prosecco sparkling wine. My dad decided he had enough ties and shirts and decided to switch to buying fancy wine. He built a wine rack and started buying wine from The Wall Street Journal recommendations. He has a dot system for coding how fancy the fancy wine is. His children are not allowed to choose bottles with dots on them, certainly not a 3 dot bottle. In fact, after I stayed in my parents’ home for 5 weeks and they were concerned we would never leave, he implemented a top shelf only rule for me. I am only allowed to help myself to top shelf wine. He brought this one home for me one night. It’s very moderately priced and has a great sparkling taste that is not too sweet. Thank you Dad.

Cards Against Humanity Game. This is not a new game, but so funny and wrong. It’s wrong that one might put it in a stocking, which makes it so right. You learn about people and how to play to your judge. For example, I learned my mother generally played the dirtiest card but would never vote for a dirty card when she judged. I love you Mom.

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

My Night With Cooper Bear

My dog Cooper has been my companion for almost 10 years. I read once, in “Guideposts” where a woman described having a ‘soul connection’ with her dog. I feel this deeply with Coop. I have had 2 babies in the last 4 years and perhaps Cooper has not received what he was used to in past years. Perhaps life has not been quite as full. I cannot remember the last time he received a McDonald’s ice cream cone and tonight this shames me to my core. Tonight, Tiny 1 and 2 went to bed with their father and I stayed up and relished the quiet. Cooper was my companion as his furry brother beds down with my boys.

I decided to take Cooper for a walk instead of just one last trip outside for the night. Now, Cooper is mostly deaf and his back legs are weak and now bent at an angle from severe arthritis. His joints are swollen and he wears non skid socks that I replenish roughly once per month because he cannot get up without them. His walks are limited. When I entered the living room with his leash, he struggled eagerly to get up. His excitement was obvious and I marveled at his optimism. No pain or lameness would get in his way! His walks are, at most, around the block. Tonight, I thought, let’s walk on the other side of the street. His tail wagged the entire time. I let him sniff every mystery in the grass. He had a spring in his step. He was a hunter once again. I walked sobbing, watching this animal who has my heart completely. This beautiful, earnest and loving dog who is in pain most of the time, enjoyed the moment given to him. There are so many times when aging terrifies me. Most days, I think of the unfairness Cooper has been given in aging. Tonight, I learned a lesson from this strong beast of mine. He accepts what is given to him and finds joy in simplicity. The act of crossing the street filled him with energy and enthusiasm. I am in awe of the beauty and grace of this sweet animal. Thank you my big bear.

I NEED YOU

My husband has a small, close circle of friends who are dear to him. My husband is not an easy read and his fierce love of those who make it past his prickly exterior are in for life. I find male relationships fascinating; there is not talk of feelings, dissection of what conversations might mean, or endless discussions on how to ensure you do not raise serial killers, YET the relationships are rooted deep into the earth even without many words.

My husband has 2 friends from kindergarten who are his dearest friends 35 years later. They have their own language. It is loud, bawdy and complete gibberish but you cannot help but to smile when you hear the three of them together in “Nina”speak. These 3 friends are rarely in the same city together, but the bond of friendship is always there. Bits of business are intertwined. Somehow, anniversary vacations and honeymoon destinations overlap. One friend’s wife planned a romantic anniversary vacation near where we live. Her husband said to her, “Thank you for bringing me to see my best friend.” She was so tickled by the friendship, she did not bring up the fact that it was supposed to be THEIR time together. My husband tagged along the entire time of the trip, in the back seat of the rented convertible, both friends as happy as can be.

One component of the friendship has been the love of one another’s mother. All three mothers are vastly different, but each one brought something special into each boy’s heart. All three men grew up to love strong women, and to value that relationship above everything else. I am certain few who knew this band of miscreants in school would have expected or believed this to be a truth, but I believe their love of their mothers and who they were/are, led them to the family men they are today. As time marches on, losses start to become reality for these friends, and the beauty of the friendship shines brighter as the circle becomes tighter.

 

The Roaring Lion

Both of my children were conceived via in vitro fertilization. This is not a secret and I have written about it before. What I have not written about is our Leo Lion’s conception. I have known what my beauties looked like from 3 days post conception. Amazing! This is our lion’s story.

The transfer process is less clinical than the egg retrieval process. The embryo(s) is/are unfrozen and sometimes they need to give them a bit of time to acclimate. For whatever reason, my precious embryos often did not make it after unfreezing. I said a prayer for each one. I mourned each one.Then I had to move on because there was always (thank you God) another one/baby waiting for its mama to be there. Just like our sweet Teddy, Leo Lion was the last embryo we had. Leo was different. When you are in the advanced maternal age group of at least 35, your embryos go through “assisted hatching” where the embryologist helps the shell open to release the embryo. Quickly after unthawing, Leo Lion was bursting through his shell ALL on his own. We all laughed at the eagerness of this tiny, precious embryo ready to go. He was moved into my womb and the waiting game began.

Have you waited to take a pregnancy test after disappointing months? I have. It is awful. This time, I skipped to the bathroom to take the test, 3 days early. I had a secret. I knew I was pregnant. I knew the day after the transfer. I KNEW. I FELT that tiny and blessed embryo burrowing deep into his home. He made it.

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A few days later, the blood test confirmed my intuition and the home pregnancy test. I was VERY pregnant.

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Skip forward to the delivery room…..Leo Lion came roaring out of the womb. He roared and roared and roared. I actually started to panic because I knew I was in for a much, much wilder ride than Teeny gave me.

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He wanted to nurse immediately and with great intent. He fought going to sleep at night. He roared letting me know he wanted to be held. His pediatrician said he was “very alert.” Leo does not do anything halfway. Even when he is just observing, his little limbs are moving as though he can move himself into the middle of the action. He is vocal about what he wants and does not want. There is nothing casual about Leo Lion. He has been this way since conception.

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I find it fascinating that from 6 days past creation he has exhibited very clear personality traits. We did not choose his name based on its meaning, but it is very apt. While IVF is considered a liberal choice, viewing and participating in the process of scientifically creating life has made me very conservative. I have known my child since conception, and I have seen his fierce determination since his cluster of embryonic cells forcefully left their shell. This is a gift and significantly cemented my view on when life begins. My child’s personality began at conception. I know this.

I love you madly Leo Lion. May you always live life fully and fiercely. I will roar behind you, my darling.

t and L

Charlie Brown

The Tiny One is 3. He is marvelous and a total stink pot these days. We have been talking about rhyming words. He has also been watching Charlie Brown. I finally deleted the Great Pumpkin episode when I could not take it even one more time. Lovely Rudolph and feisty Frosty have been recorded, but he will have none of it. I think it is because of all the naughtiness in Charlie Brown. How scandalous they speak to his little ears. I told him I would delete all of them if I heard him using the bad words he hears. If he needs to say the words, he can do so alone in his room. Who am I to judge? I love bad words. Anyhoo, he is a clever stink pot. Instead of using the word blockhead, he uses frockhead. There is that rhyming lesson. Lately it has been shortened to frock, than fock. On my honor, the only time I have said the F bomb in front of him was at 4 in the morning when he refused to sleep and he was only 50% awake. It comes from bloody Charlie Brown. My husband was unaware of the rhyming and called out from his home office/nursery, “Are you hearing this?” I yelled back from the other room while Tiny 2 was attached to my tribal breasts for the 18th hour of the day, “Yes. He’s saying frockhead. He thinks he’s fooling us.” To which husband corrected me that it was now fock. Well, fock. I do not have the energy to deal with this one. I am too tired. All I want is to magically win the lottery without playing it and for my children to sleep for 10 hours. Neither one appears to be a possibility.

I am surviving on coffee and cosmetics these days. I wear a splint due to post pregnancy diastasis recti and I use a topical treatment in effort to prevent the post natal hair loss that is most likely coming. This is my appearance reality. Needless to say, I am not at my finest. A dear friend passes along treats from her Birch Box to me. One of the goodies was an spf 15 primer by IPKN New York and it is a life saver. It is the Flash Cream Radiant Primer. I have tried most of the big name primers and have not loved any of them. Either they are too shiny, sparkly or heavy. This gives you the glow I was supposed to have during my pregnancy. It gives me a fresh face with a subtle, healthy looking sheen. It has entered the limited arsenal of I-don’t-want-to-live-without-it. If I cannot commit to wearing makeup during the day, I can always at least commit to this primer. I love it. In my current sleep deprived and outnumbered state, this has made me at least look like a version of my former self.

Prime the face, rhyme with mommy mouth bass
Sleep, don’t make a peep
Tiny, please not whiny
Baby, someday sleep maybe
Love, all the above

AND YOU SHALL STINK NO MORE

Does time sneak away from you? This post has been on my mind for over a YEAR. How does that happen? I can give a million reasons all relating to one giant belly, I mean event, but shame on me for not sharing something of such great importance.

I attended a reunion last year, and in preparation for seeing certain people only once every 10 years, I set goals for myself. Obviously to look as thin, tan and visually put together were goals, but I had a more subtle goal as well. I decided that I would be an avid listener and speak with poise. You know ‘those people’ who always make you feel good and say exactly the right thing? I wanted to be one of them. I promised I would not tell embarrassing stories about my husband or myself (I tend to not have an uncomfortable-for-other-people filter), I would only pepper a bad word in when it was ironic or endearing and I would focus on the feminine and ladylike aspect of my personality. Cue the first night and a very fun informal party….I found myself in the middle of two men who were once truly adorable high school boys, discussing armpit odor. I volunteered my own concern of smelling bad. Seriously, Katie??? I had run a million miles, paid too much money for a fake tan and I discuss body odor at the first opportunity—with enthusiasm I might add. There goes the feminine.

Despite my complete lack of the feminine mystique, I will share my most important non stink helper I have gathered, EVER.  I have tried every deodorant and have stolen my dad’s French spray deodorant, but at some point they have all disappointed me. The natural deodorants do not work and make me think of scratchy fabrics and patchouli. No offense if you like either of those, but those are visions of hell for me; just like a stinky body. I stumbled upon an article that talked about the anti-stink properties of a lemon. A. Simple. Lemon.  I am at home with a toddler who thinks I am perfect no matter what, so I thought I would try it out. It is brilliant. It is simple. It is a 36 hour smell repellent. A few juicy swipes of a lemon slice is the best damn deodorant I have ever used. (Perfectly peppered bad word, no?) Try it. Just do not try it right after shaving. Find me at the next ladylike event and I will tell you why in great detail.

What To Wear When Underpants Are Not An Option

I like to be well groomed in public. When I am home with my family, it may be a completely different story, but if you catch me in public with the tiny one, it is safe to say that I put at least a C+ effort into my personal hygiene and appearance. Briefly, after the tiny one was born I became acquainted with my real hair color and naked toenails, but I am born again in my high maintenance ways. I thought it quite romantic and clearly creative the other night when my husband told me that the hipsters were copying me in my nighttime granny panty ways with their high-waisted and unflattering shorts, jeans, and bathing attire. Perhaps I should be appalled? No. The underpants I discovered post C section were like manna to a starving man and I cannot give them up. I can only support flirty underpants during the daytime now that I am in my 30’s.

None of this pertains to my thoughts for today, but like any good play from a bygone era, you need the background information for the story. Today we talk nail color. It has been on my mind since the surgeries last month, as has personal hygiene. I have now had 5 fertility related surgeries where the work being performed was below the waist. Surgery is an equal feminine playing field because you cannot show off the cutest outfit or accessory because all you get is a hospital gown, and dammit, they won’t even let you belt it. All I had to work with were my toenails. They were the only way I could communicate that I had an opinion about my appearance since clothing, jewelry (wouldn’t a statement piece at least bring beauty and color to the sterile operating room?), fingernail polish and makeup were not allowed. They even put a shower cap over my hair, so freshly painted highlights just didn’t matter. I had my toes alone to communicate.

I have been stuck in my ways ever since Chanel introduced the color Vamp. I love a blood red, purple or almost black color on my toes. My favorite for the past few years is OPI’s Black Cherry Chutney.

black cherry

As morbid as the color is in the bottle, it makes me giddy when it is on my toes. Summertime does beg for a little more flirt and a lot more vibrancy. I have been too wimpy to try blue for 3 summers now, and the preparation for the egg retrieval was just the push I needed. I would make a strong fashion statement with my toes alone. I bought my bright blue Essie nail polish and, I must say, I rocked it with my hospital gown. I may have spent 3 days in the hospital without showering, and they may have been weighing me in the hospital bed without my permission, but at least my toes looked good.

Here are 2 summertime musts for your toes, both available at Ulta.com:

Essie Butter Please

Essie Butter Please

Essie Peach Daquiri

Essie Peach Daquiri