When Swim Lessons and Botox Collide

Most of the time Tiny 1 spends his time doing things like this:

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I passionately love this about him. I walk into his room after “quiet time” (otherwise known as my nap time but he thinks it’s when I solve world problems) and find him jabbering on about why he’s going to sell off this “naughty company”, making up songs, turning his room into cities with places like “cooky playground” or just painting himself.

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He entertains me immensely, especially after a nice session to myself of lunch, quick snooze and SVU reruns while folding the endless laundry.

This little 4-year-old of mine is a delight and a joy, until he has to try something new that is not his idea. For example, swimming lessons. I signed him up because I love him dearly and he must know how to be safe in the water. He must. He took private lessons last summer and screamed the entire time. It was fine because no one had to share this experience with me and the teacher was also a mother. THIS year I thought I had invested enough in his initial water safety and signed up for a more reasonably priced group lesson at the YMCA. He didn’t want to go but we discussed it before hand and he knew what to expect. He threw somewhat of a fit the first day and then was fine. The disaster struck when he got a new teacher.

Back story; I’m not 30 anymore. I like to look, shall we say, fresh like I just stepped out of a pilates class with glowing skin on a Lifetime movie. I do not look my freshest these days as I have developed hormonal acne. Fun stuff, said no one EVER. When I discussed both the acne and weight gain this year with my OBGYN, he told me that if I planned on eating each day, I should also plan on exercising each day. I was hoping he would say there was an obvious hormonal imbalance and he had a magic solution that would not only fix my discussed problems but also increase my hair volume. Nope. The second doctor I saw was the dermatologist to fix the hormonal acne. While I was there, I saw he was running a Botox special. I decided to go for it in a quest for that fresh look. I looked like this 48 hours later.

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I share this because it all coincided with the change in swim coaches. The day of the switch of coaches, I worked out ahead of time using the free child care the Y offers because I had chosen to eat that day. I had already complained (because that’s what I do) about the lack of sufficient air circulation in the cardio room but they didn’t particularly care. So I not only had a giant black eye but I was a hot, sweaty mess from the humid, non circulating air post workout. I gathered Tiny 1 from the nursery and took him to the pool for lessons. He arrived, saw there was a new teacher and promptly began the biggest tantrum I have ever experienced with him. He was wearing a tiny European swim suit (the only adorable part of the story), and started running away from the pool while I yelled, “NO RUNNING NEAR THE POOL.” While I attempted to contain him mid run, he yelled he would only swim with his old coach, threw himself on the ground and screamed to the point where other parents were staring and surely wondering if there was something intrinsically wrong with us as Tiny was screaming and I had the giant black eye and looked like a sweaty maniac hissing at my son to “follow instructions” and “no Disneyland if you don’t get in the water.” In all fairness, I also would have been wondering this as a spectator. We exited the pool for a calm down period, for both of us, and he went back up afterwards and sat but did not participate. After the lesson, he spent the afternoon in his room. In theory this is punishment, but he learned he could turn his curtains into a hammock, fit completely behind his closet drawers and wrote a note of apology to his swim coach for his behavior, which we laminated with it being a swim class atmosphere.

He loves swimming again. We have discussed moving up levels means new teachers and perhaps we can meet them ahead of time.

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My black eye has healed and I wear a bit of lip gloss to work out so I can look somewhat pulled together should the need arise again. I can’t change his intensity but I can control mine. His intensity is one of my favorite parts about him and I will take that bad for all that good. I don’t really have a plan yet for the future, but I’m working on that. I know he will work on it with me. Chances are, I will receive a detailed map on the physical steps to take to make the problem disappear post quiet time. He’s just that kid.

 

Is It Crossing the Line?

We have a tooth issue. I am aware that this will be an anthill and not a mountain in terms of parenting, but it is where we are, and I am enjoying this small, small moment. My T is 4 and 3/4. He had 8 teeth by 8 months. The average first tooth bursts through at 7 months. Our dentist said he has advanced tooth development; I pray this influences his brain but not puberty. Dear Lord, please not advanced puberty. I still have vivid images of the story of an advanced cousin in his daddy’s Cadillac at age 13….no, not advanced puberty in this house. Anyhow, his first tooth became loose at age 3.5. It was so unusual that he had his first x-rays at this early age and all those big ole adult teeth were right there, waiting patiently to rear their jagged heads.

Preschool was an adjustment for my little man. His teachers rarely got to see him in his full glory as he was busy watching and not talking. During snack time mid school year, his first tooth fell. When I picked him up, he saw me and burst into tears—inconsolable, preschool angst ridden tears. Selfishly, I panicked for a moment worried that his teachers would think I was abusing him, but I quickly realized this was not about me and was a parenting moment.

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He settled down at home and definitely wanted the tooth fairy to come, but he did NOT want the creepy tiny flying thing visiting his room while he slept. I get it. It makes sense. A tooth fairy???? Come on history.

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His second tooth is loose. His favorite 2 foods that give him complete, unadultered child joy are king crab legs and corn on the cob. His first loose tooth lost its last leg while eating the corn on the cob. Now, he will not eat it. In fact, he will not bite anything with his front teeth. He is terrified of the second tooth biting the dust. Watching him eat is not a treat. The length he will go to avoid anything touching the tooth is somewhat fascinating, but I do believe that proper table manners are important and he is appearing a savage with the tooth issue. I have explained both gently and with a slight amount of frustration that he will lose it. There is nothing he can do to stop the progression of teeth. Since he is so clearly my child, I understand all of these fears about growing and getting bigger/older, and I have not been able to help him calm his terror of losing teeth. The tooth is starting to turn a color that no one would put in a giant box of crayons and it sticks out at an angle that, were it a limb, would be cast in a pleasant neon shade. This tiny tooth needs to go.

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I am not allowed to touch it. This wonderfully tactile child who could be worn on my body like a silk scarf will not allow me to come near it. I have offered to PAY him to let me see how loose it is. He locks down iron jaws when I come near it. I recently had an idea that seems brilliant, yet perhaps crosses the line. For the past 2 nights, I have gone in when he is completely asleep and wiggled the little brown tooth to encourage its exit into a little box where I, as his mother, will keep it safe and cry over it when he hits his delayed puberty.

Is this wrong?

A Change of Attitude

Summer break is here. The tiny one is out of school. We all (well not sweet Daddy) sleep in a little later and have our days completely free. We have zero plans in general, with a bit of swimming thrown in later on in the summer. It is both daunting and exhilarating. Tiny 1 is against plans. He inherited this from me. I shun planning in general. He shuns planning AND clothing. He likes to be free to work. He told me last week he had too much work to do to go to a party because his work would probably take him all day. Knowing him, I have not signed him up for any camps. I have gone back and forth on this decision, but he’s at his happiest working in his backyard.

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Knowing his tinier brother, I have ordered a gate for the yard. This adorable, little blonde meatball is a menace.
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Summer just started and I found myself yelling at everyone on Monday, rolling my eyes, threatening and basically being a rotten human, not just a rotten mother. They were naughty, but they are 4 and 21 months, not adults. I thought to myself that the summer was going to be awful and I should find something for them to do, for someone else to watch them sometimes. I went to bed that night and could not sleep. I felt so ashamed. I have 2 tiny, wonderful boys and their moods revolve around mine. If I am naughty, they will of COURSE be naughty. I spent a long time reflecting upon the challenge given to me this summer and the gift of these boys. My original plan was to savor their tiny selves and I was failing, audibly. I decided I needed to change my attitude, something I had been commanding my oldest child to do that day. I prayed that I could do it. I asked for help, and I thought of how much I loved open summer days when I was little.

Guess what? I’m on day 2 of pure bliss. There was a giant temper tantrum in Target yesterday where I ran into so many people I knew, including someone I have been trying to integrate into my friend circle. I was calm and kind. I kept focusing on my attitude change. I was punched in the eye by the tiny meatball and I was again calm and kind–and put him in bed. Attitude change is my motto on refrain.

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Today, we have been building with boxes in our courtyard. We woke up with a mission! We drove around looking for free boxes and then bought a few. Their little eyes sparkled with joy and their faces were colored orange with fake cheese from chips. They’ve eaten primarily junk food and we have been having a marvelous time. They each got to choose a paint roller at Home Depot. The meatball kept throwing both rollers out of the cart, severely upsetting his brother who chose his with such care and would never behave in such a manner, but I could see the humor in it and told him to just sit on them so the meatball could not get to them. I gave the little naughty blonde more Doritos to sidetrack him. He snuck 4 lollipops while I wasn’t watching. It’s summer. I’m cool with it with my new attitude.

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We got home and planned, arranged, rearranged, cut and taped the boxes. My tinies chose a tall wardrobe box to be a house with a tunnel connecting to an apartment. An empty plant container is a chimney. After nap, the painting began.

Daddy came home early and was somewhat caught off guard, but the excitement pulled him into the fun while I went for a quick workout. We couldn’t get Tiny 1 to come inside until his stomach forced him. He painted the outside of his work and then started the inside. Tomorrow he plans to draw and hang pictures for the inside. His pride is palpable. Tiny 2 ate a popsicle after painting for a while. It was a glorious day.

It is hard to be patient sometimes. It is REALLY hard to manage big feelings, but it is my job. I signed up for it. It was worth it today. I pray I remain the adult and keep up the attitude change. Summer is full of possibilities with an empty schedule. “It is well with my soul.”

 

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!

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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.

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.

Personal Comfort Counts

I moved to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I was determined to make the most of my education and my first order of business was to get an internship for fashion week. I chose my favorite brands and went to the showrooms representing the brands to inquire about employment. I was very fortunate to land an internship with my favorite denim brand. As an added bonus, a hot new pant designer was also showing there for fashion week. My job was to bring coffee, water, snacks, etc to the buyers while modeling the jeans. I worked with another intern who was a very tiny, hip skater girl from Long Beach. The day that the Nordstrom buyers were coming through was the day it all went to sh*t for me. The new pant designer felt too much attention was being given to the denim line and instructed me to put on his pants. He threw his trendiest pair in a sample size at me. I was a FULL size bigger. I really did not have a choice. I squeezed myself into pinstripe, flesh colored cargo pants with back pockets that are best described as pig nose pockets. It was a travesty. I had to walk around pretending to be peppy and hip while saying things like, “Aren’t these just amazing?” “Yes, I am so comfortable. I HAVE to have these.” All the while, skater girl looks unbelievably cute in my favorite jeans. I was certain my career was over. Nordstrom and every other buyer coming through would remember me as the girl who clearly has ZERO fashion sense. Why would anyone hire me? I might as well quit school before it starts and move home.

I did not quit school and I learned something from the experience. I swore I would never make anyone feel as ugly as I felt that day, and to my knowledge I have not. I have legitimately fit hundreds of regular women for fashion shows and I altered whatever made them feel ugly so that they would shine in front of other people. It was possibly the best lesson I learned while in school. This lesson applies to my personal life too. My tiny one hates clothes. Hates ‘em. I have drawers of darling, expensive outfits and all he’s interested in is how soft are his underpants. Oh, and shoes. He really likes shoes. We have a deal that I let him run naked whenever he wants at home and he does not fight me getting dressed when we leave home. It works for us. He has the rest of his life to wear clothes. We live in Southern California. You really do not need clothes. His current shoe obsession is with glow in the dark Native shoes. Being a stellar parent, I forgot to pack shoes for him and my mom bought him his beloved shoes in lime green. (no boring colors for this beautiful boy) We discovered by accident that they also glow! Native shoes come in a million colors, are very water friendly and slip on and off. No laces or Velcro to slow a wild child down. My favorite style is the Jefferson. At $32-42, they aren’t the cheapest shoes, but they are rugged and stylish. They are hands down the perfect summer shoe for boys or girls. My naked boy now chases fireflies at night with his glowing shoes. I should probably just get him a loincloth to go with it—if he was comfortable with it.

 

My preferred brick and mortar or online Native resources: Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com, Amazon.com, Zappos.com

 

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