Goodbye 2008

As I write, I am sitting snug in my home office with my sweet white Lab Retriever sleeping at my feet. The whole house is asleep but me, which is quite normal and, in my opinion, quite wonderful. So here I sit, but here, I am not. Without closing my eyes, I am transported, with laptop, onto the shores of an Oregon beach. It matters not which one, as they are all equally amazing, all facing the same perfect ocean. I am here, in this place which forever holds my peace, almost every time I write in this blog. I can hear the gently rolling waves, taste the misty salt air, feel a slight shiver from ocean breezes as I wrap my blanket tighter around my shoulders. I can feel the sand caress my feet as if to gently exfoliate away the heaviness of the day, the subject matter of the post, the fact that I am not physically there but here, and yet there all at the same time.

In a few hours, it will be 2009. I've never been more ready for a new year to arrive than I am this year. I share with you my writing transport secret because this past year more than ever, I have had to mentally transport myself elsewhere in order to get any writing -or other work for that matter- done; the here and now has been too chaotic, too painful, too confusing, too insane.

Normally I would write a stupid little look back at the year but tonight instead I think I'll skip the mundane details and dig right into the hard stuff. The emotional stuff. The aspects of the year that hover above all actual specifics and bind the year together.

This is what I know from 2008:

1. My whole world collapses when I realize I have let someone down, not lived up to their expectations, or just not made them happy in some way; at least, that is what it feels like... my whole body aches, and I cannot think about anything else for a long time. My head knows that I cannot make everyone happy, but this year I have definitely learned that I still want to, and even though I have come to realize there are many, many people out there who will never be happy, who just need to complain or share or need to exert their self-imposed importance on others, my silly illogical side still attempts to appease. So here it is: this stops when the clock strikes midnight. I bid adieu to the 24/7 people-pleaser once and for all. 2009 will be the year I learn to say "Sorry, but this is how it's going to be." And I won't always follow up with my usual lengthy, near-apologetic explanations, but I will allow myself to follow up with a silent mental note of "you annoyingly selfish dipshit jackass" as I smile.

2. I have reached my limit. With work, activities, friends and family... with everything. My life is full and rich and I cannot add anymore ANYTHING. No more meetings. No more playdates. No more lunches and dinners and girls night outs. No more events and fundraisers and appearances for support. No more blogs and radio shows and articles. And yes, no more new businesses. No more, that is, than the regularly scheduled programming. I'm tapped out and barely able to fit in all of the wonderful people, passions and causes into these short days. I am reserving the first part of 2009 to fully engaging in everything and everyone already in my life. I love meeting new people, checking out new events, trying new things...but the "new" can wait until I feel I have fully loved and enveloped the "now" with everything I can give.

3. Nothing is certain. 2008 was most certainly the Year of Death, Divorce & Debt. What a horrible year for so many of my friends, my family, and for the world in general. What pain has been suffered... and so much, so suddenly. BAM! Hello, horrible happenings. Never saw most of them coming. I do a great job talking about how I live a life of no regrets, but let's face it: there are always things we wish we could have said or that we could have done, decisions we would or wouldn't have made. So here comes 2009 and I'm ready -- ready to walk the walk and truly say what's on my mind, all the time. Reach out to those I've missed in my life. Dismiss those who only add misery. Do the things I've always wanted to do but for which I've always made excuses. Tomorrow is not a promise; today is all we've got.

4. Goodness is everywhere, in everyone, within every moment... even amidst death, divorce and debt. As painful as this year has been throughout, life has also lifted my fingertips from shielding my eyes to let me know that it's ok: there really is peace, goodness, joy in the chaos. Strangers have become friends, friends have become my hope and happiness, and that happiness is what allows me to live into 2009 with a huge, goofy smile and a hop-skip in my silly step. No matter what, it will be ok. I know we'll all be ok. We survive the death of loved ones, cancer and other illnesses, tragic accidents, broken relationships, impossible finances, and slowing businesses... we survive it all, and we do it together. Goodness is always with us, prevailing over heartache, loss and complicated chaos. I know no matter what 2009 brings, it's ok. It's life. And it's all good, my friends... it's ALL good.

To anyone out there who may be reading this, thank you for reading my words in 2008 so that they have a home. I look forward to sharing more online (and some of you offline!) conversations with you all in 2009. Happy New Year!


The Magic of Santa

I know it sounds a little silly for a 30-something woman to be saying this, but I believe in Santa. More than just the idea that the spirit of St. Nicholas lives on in each of us, I believe in the magic that Santa can bring. Maybe it's just the little girl still inside of me who didn't just want to enjoy the rewards Santa would bring from a year of being (somewhat, sort of, ok not really but I hear he was a forgiving man) nice, I was the odd little girl whose true wish was to be Santa. I longed for the magic he possessed to make millions of kids smile, to have his ability to change lives, to give hope for one day in the life of a family who might not have hope the remaining 364 days of the year.

And now, that strange little girl finally gets her wish. This year, I AM Santa Claus.

My son is 4.5 years old. Until tonight, I was sure he didn't believe. Each year, I would talk about Santa. We would attempt to visit Santa at the mall, I'd make cookies, we'd ask him what he wanted to ask for Christmas from Santa. Even this year, at any mention of Santa, my son would look at us cautiously with a sideways glance and half heartedly seem to play along with his parents' pathetic attempts to make him believe. Then something happened tonight. Something magical. Santa finally became real, to all of us.

For fun (my own almost more than my son's, as I had almost given up on him believing in Santa), I decided to see where Santa was on the Norad Santa Tracker. My son sat next to me, and as I showed him the map with all of the present icons across Europe, as we watched the videos of Santa in Egypt, Paris, Madagascar and Russia (all places that my son is absolutely obsessed with), my son started talking with rich excitement and enthusiasm, for the first time, about Santa coming to visit our house. We talked about his letter to Santa, about leaving the cookies I was baking on a tray for Santa to thank him for his long journey. My son was amazed. "I can't believe the reindeer pulled Santa all that way!" "WOW - look at Santa! I saw the great pyramids!" "Look at Santa in Russia - that's where the firebirds are!" and so on. And that was it. My son, ever the creative sensitive soul, just needed a visual. And those visuals were like 10 pounds of sugar being pumped through my son's veins in less than 3 minutes. He was hyper beyond hyper the rest of the night.

After his bath, I happened to glance at the TV and saw Santa. "Hey Boo! It's Santa!" I shouted. Pound, pound, pound he came flying down the stairs totally naked. "IS HE HERE?!!!?" He shouted, his voice bubbling with hope. I explained he would probably be here while we were sleeping, which, according to Santa Tracker actually worked out to be true (my son's logic would have sniffed it out immediately had the travel time on the website not worked out accordingly).

So Boo wrote his note to Santa. Or rather, he dictated and my husband wrote, since my son was too busy bouncing off the walls and furniture to stay still long enough to write. He wouldn't stop talking about Santa. About Christmas. About Santa some more.

And there, in the crazy mad span of less than 2 hours of hyper bouncing (literally, he was bouncing) and nonstop louder-than-normal-loud chatter, I became Santa.

Tonight, and I'm guessing through tomorrow, I get to be the one who gives my son undeniable joy. More than the present he has asked for, I know my son is excited about Santa, the magic of Santa, the idea that there is a person who brings joy to little girls and boys all over this amazing earth. And I get to be the one to bring this magic to him. It is all I honestly could ever ask for this Christmas, or any other day of the year.

Thank you, Santa. Thank you for letting me share in your magic.

(And to all my fellow Santa mamas and papas out there, Merry Christmas to you and your little ones. May you all be surrounded by love, and may your holidays be filled with the magic of the season. May you, too, have a Santa in your life who brings you unbelievable hope, love, inspiration, and enough joy to make you bounce off the walls grinning ear-to-ear. You all deserve it, and I wish you a happy year ahead!)


double the...fun?

I am so grateful to have amazing friends who had children before me, who could offer their wise advice to the overanxious first-time mom that I was. And yet, now that I have two kids, I want to yell at some of those very same mama friends, those who had their second or even third child before I had my second, the ones who told me when I was pregnant with our second child that having two was "different." No, my dears, it's not "different." I think the words you were searching for were "hard," "insane," and "may drive you both to drink heavily." Looking back, I honestly don't know what I was bitching and moaning about when we just had one child. All of those hours lost worrying about sleep (or lack thereof), about every little morsel that he ate, about development and milestones and blah blah blah. What a waste of time. I should have just instead enjoyed how EASY that time really was, back when it was just me, hubby, dog and son. Oh how easily we fell prey to all of the unnecessary and ridiculous first-child worries and woes. Oh how we thought everything was so damn difficult then. And I'm sure, at the time, it was. Our son had a tumultuous first two years of life, and we were first time parents: of course it was hard.

But here we are now, with a son who is 4.5 and a daughter who is 20 months old (yikes! how'd that happen?!), and now we know better. On many levels, we're wiser, which makes it all the more annoying sometimes. Two kids isn't double the work, it's 10 times the work. And that is something no one told me until RIGHT AFTER I gave birth a second joyous time and the madness truly began. Before two kids, it was all "oh you'll love having both a girl and a boy!" "Oh, it's so great to have two and watch them grow up together!" "Oh it's so much easier the second time around!" Yes, those words are all true. HOWEVER, they all failed to mention we would probably never have a "relaxing" night or weekend ever again, our shoulders will ache even more than ever before from double the constant lifting, we'll be spending WAY more time cleaning up than ever imagined because of double the toys, clothes, junk, food & other odd object smearings all over the place, and that never again will we want to set foot in a grocery store or any other store because taking two kids into a store? IT IS HEEELLLLLLLL. Nobody mentioned any of that. Nobody mentioned that even at such early ages would the two have drastically different schedules that we'd be running around like mad more than before. Nobody mentioned the inevitable constant screaming that would happen with two kids who both want the same thing at the same time...All. Day. Long.

Thanks, friends. Thanks for no warning!

But then... as crazy as it is, there is no other way I would have it. You knew the cheesy part was coming, right? Well here it is. Just as those with one child or three or four couldn't imagine their lives any differently, neither could we. Our house is louder and our schedules are busier, and we're always tired and sometimes in physical pain, but it's almost this perfect imperfection that makes us so very happy and fulfilled. We love that our kids will grow up with each other, having each other for support in difficult times as they get older, to grow up together and get in trouble together and lie for each other or tell on each other. We love that they'll be siblings, friends, confidants, enemies, cheerleaders all at the same time and in different ways throughout their lives. We love watching them now. Their bond grows everyday, and it's so amazing... of course they fight and scream and are pretty violent with each other sometimes, but they also make each other laugh like nobody else can, they hug and kiss, and they hold hands. It's so freakin' adorable I can't stand it! These two perfectly flawed little beings are the best parts of my life, and even though having two can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining, it's also the most exhilarating, soul-filling part of my life.

I do, however, wish that moms would be more open about how much harder it is to have two than to have one. Damn you all for your silence. Hmph.


Danke Schoen Day

Ah, Thanksgiving. The official start of the big winter holiday season. The beginning of the friends & family end-of-year extravaganza. The day we take a moment to pause, give thanks, and eat way too much food. I train all year long to gear my stomach & metabolism up for the holiday feasts to come. This year, I feel prepared. Bring on the food!

Of course, I am thankful for the ability to have such a bountiful feast each year, and to be blessed with such amazing friends and family. Here is a list of just a few key items I will be giving thanks to this year:
  • coffee and my coffee makers that work tirelessly each morning without fail
  • the ability to hear my kids singing all day and night
  • surprise snuggles from my 4 yo son, whom I sometimes fear will one day soon say "no more snuggles mama!"
  • sloppy kisses from my 19 month old daughter
  • my husband's unconditional love & support
  • my kids, for their spirit, hope, unconditional love, and inspiration
  • incredible girlfriends
  • living close to my brother and his family so our kids can grow up together, just like me and my cousins did
  • my crazy parents
  • my mom's new love of texting. it makes me smile.
  • my office & new office mate. may she never tire of my crazy kids playing in the office sassmouthing me while she works.
  • President-Elect Obama and his beautiful family. thank you, America.
  • American voters, for reinstating my faith in the intelligence & compassion of the people
  • authors, for their talent & ability to transport me to new worlds and open my eyes to experiences I may never have
  • the incredible doctors and scientists committed to stem cell research. keep on keeping on, good people.
  • Facebook, you clever dog you, for reconnecting me with friends & family all over the globe and from lives past
  • Twitter, you cunning conversationalist you, for connecting me with new friends all over the globe
  • the makers of fine chocolate everywhere
  • vintners, for bringing the beauty of fine wine to the comfort of my living room
  • local business owners, for their passion, creativity and perseverance during a tough economy
  • my MIL, FIL, BILs and SILs, for being the coolest group of in-laws ever
  • Etsy artists, for bringing handcrafted beauty and delight to the world
  • did I mention chocolate already?
  • all the amazing people who make beautiful music that fills my soul
  • cozy jammies
  • bacon. I am sorry little piggies, but I do love meat candy so.
  • my workhorse KitchenAid mixer and food processor
  • online photo galleries
  • our Lab Retriever/Husky, even though he's getting cranky in his old age
  • my son's teachers, for the care and love and learning they bring to my son's days
  • all the new babies in our lives, and those new babies to come in the next year. we're so excited!
  • the beautiful beaches of the Oregon coast
  • Portland, this gorgeous city that keeps on giving
  • kind strangers who return smiles and especially those who offer an exchange of kind words on drizzly days
  • the opportunity to live my days with the most incredible kidlets in the world
And thanks to all of you, for reading my words and allowing me to know that sometimes, even just for a moment, they might matter to someone else in the world :)

May you all enjoy a lovely, hearty, laughter-filled Thanksgiving surrounded by friends & family. I am with you all in spirit! Now, bring on the turkey!


It Takes A Village to Raise a Marriage

Me & hubby in Zurich, 1999...you know, when we were young.

Fifteen years ago today, the morning of November 18, 1993, a relationship was born into a village that has grown into an amazing community of friends, strangers, family, kids. In the beginning there were people like Matt, Jen, Bill, Cindy, Julie, Fred, Ian, Dave, Whitney, Andrea (A1). Throughout the years people like Andrea (A2), Amy, Heather, Kelly, Graham, Jim, and Scott moved in. And then there were more. Families combined, strangers became friends, friends became partners, co-workers became confidants, and all became our family whom we love fiercely. The village keeps growing, and as it grows, our relationship gets stronger.

Today is the 15th anniversary of my relationship with my husband, whom we'll call Cha Cha. It is not our wedding anniversary, but rather the anniversary of when our lives first started together. Don't get me wrong: I loved our wedding! It was a fantastic weekend full of fist fights, a night in the ER, and wedding crashers in Hawaiian shirts who bought us shots. There was laughter, dancing, many a long rambling toast, and lots of love all around. But that is not when our story started. To only celebrate the day we got married is an insult to our relationship. To discount the 8 years prior to being husband and wife is to dismiss the sweetest and hardest journey. And so I like to celebrate this anniversary which, in truth, is the anniversary of not just me and Cha Cha, but of me and him... and all of the lovely people who have seen us through all of the highs and lows.

I love, adore, cherish my husband. He is crazy fun and brilliant. He knows more about everything than I can ever imagine to know, and I still don't know how he can remember the names of all the random generals in this war or that (and yet somehow forget weekend plans I had told him about three times...but that's for another post!). He is a witty, talented smart ass who makes me laugh every day. He is amazingly sweet, silly and absolutely over-the-moon in love with our kids. And incredibly, he loves me. Still. He supports my many crazy ideas and causes, puts up with my constant singing, dancing and general loud silliness, and appreciates my weird quirks and annoying habits. He believed in us, when I didn't. And through it all, our friends and family believed.

We love each other to the moon and back, but our relationship is truly strengthened by the other people in our lives whom we love beyond words. We owe so much of our relationship to our parents, our siblings and their spouses (I just want to take this time to shout I LOVE MY IN-LAWS!! Totally lucked out with how awesome they all are). We owe our cousins, co-workers and dear life-long friends. Our memories of our relationship are nothing without all of them. The people who not only helped raise our marriage, but are also now helping to raise our kids. The fact that our kids will grow up knowing so much love, never having a reason to doubt they are supported, and being able to grow up with the strength of such a community...it is all we as parents could ask for.

So on this anniversary of the beginning of our relationship, I take the time to thank those who have been there from the beginning, those who have joined our lives in recent years, and those who have just entered or re-entered our circle. If our marriage will always be as strong as our foundation of friends and family, then we surely will have many more anniversaries to celebrate.

PS. And Cha Cha, if you're reading this, which you probably aren't because you got bored with my rambling after the second paragraph and it's all the same blah blah blah you hear from my nonstop chatter... I love you, man. Here's to another 15. Holy shit we'll really be old by then.


this is my time

it's 1:12 am on another saturday night. the house is asleep save a little light in the living room, the television with another random sappy movie (tonight it's the lake house). oh, and me. wide awake. giddy with the anticipation of life that is to come tomorrow, the next day, the next week, the next month.

i love my sleep, but i love my awake life more than my asleep life. i've never needed much sleep, but after having kids, need much more. yet i rarely get a full 6 or 7 hours, and i can't even blame the kids. the kids are great sleepers (took my son a while --very rough first two years, oy vey --but he's there now).

sometimes it's insomnia. i really want to sleep but i just can't. and the harder i try, the more awake i am.

but sometimes it's this. what i feel tonight. this comfy cozy bliss of being wrapped up in a blanket on the couch in the semi-dark of our living room, alone with my thoughts. i love this. as parents, as business owners, as people who like to do things and have to do a lot of things, sleep can be easy to come by, but how much harder it seems to achieve this: the solitude, the peace of being surrounded by this lovely life and the time to actually sit back and soak it in. to reflect. to remember. to love and enjoy it fully with every molecule of my body and every particle of my soul.

i relish this. sometimes i will sit with the cheesy movie of the night on in the background for just a few minutes, sometimes for a few hours, but during these near-silent early morning moments time stands still. life pauses, and smiles. the voices that peck at me during the day, the obligations that tug at my sleeve -- all fall silent as they oh so kindly take a seat beside me and wait patiently for me to start the clock again. its as if they understand. they know i will be there for them in the morning. but this time, this place, this moment... this, is for me.



I am writing this at 6:45 pm PST. Less than half of the states are called in the historic presidential race between Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. I know many will write their posts tomorrow, post-election, but I can't wait. I have to write this NOW. Regardless of the outcome, regardless of who becomes President of this amazing country of ours that I love dearly, what has happened throughout the course of this election has been monumental beyond words.

An African-American man is *this* close to being President. In less than 12 hours he may well be. A woman is on the ticket as the Vice Presidential hopeful. Although I believe strongly she is an absolute insult to womankind, she is still a woman, a mom, nonetheless. And there are all of you. The voters. Turning out in record numbers. MORE than Barack Obama. MORE than Sarah Palin, there is YOU. And it is honestly all of YOU that are the cause of my tears tonight.

And yes, I am now officially a blubbering fool. {Pausing to wipe my glasses so I can see what I am typing. }

What I have seen over the course of this stressful, sometimes hateful, sometimes ridiculous campaign is the beauty of the human spirit rise where so many feared it had left. I've seen strength and courage to find one's voice when many had thought there would be silence. What I've seen - and am seeing tonight - is pride in the power of a single American's ability to VOTE. To say "THIS is what I believe in, and HELL YES I WILL MAKE IT KNOWN." You not only voted in record numbers, but you volunteered in droves! You went door-to-door, made calls, held fundraisers.

And if you didn't volunteer or donate money, you still TALKED about the issues. You talked about healthcare, education, taxes, international relations. Yes, you also talked about wardrobes and rumors and religion. But what matters to me is that there were conversations that happened between people who perhaps never before raised their voices on such matters. And, to that end, never put as much thought into them as they did these past few months. I've loved, relished, ADORED every single conversation I have been so lucky to be part of, with Democrats, Republicans and Independednts. The fact that we are talking, people, is monumental. It means that Americans really do care about what happens to this country, for our children and grandchildren. For our neighbors, and not just ourselves.

Regardless of how you voted, you did it. WE DID IT. Together, we are showing the world who we are as Americans: people of hope, courage, and spirit. Regardless of who is President tomorrow, I hope every American that voted wakes up truly proud of his/her contribution.

As I type this in my home office, I hear my 4 year old son and my husband chatting away while my daughter babbles and colors. They're watching the returns on CNN and MSNBC. My son is coloring a blank map of the United States either blue or red as the projections are called. He may not understand what those colors represent, but he knows there is something big happening tonight. Bigger than him, bigger than all of us. I look forward to telling him the story of this night, of everything that has happened and what it means for him and his sister. I look forward to telling him, with tears in my eyes and a fully, happy heart, how his fellow countrymen and women pulled together and helped make history. And we were all here to experience it.


Saturday Nights

Here we are, hubby and I. Another Saturday night. Both kids tucked into sweet slumber. Dog at our feet. Glass of something red for each of us. He on his Mac, I on my PC. Sitting next to each other, surfing, typing, working, playing, conversing away on our laptops while the television flips between a random Food Network or HGTV show, CNN, MSNBC, and some silly movie on HBO that doesn't demand our full attention. It is near silent except for the murmur of the television and the very loud, hard click-clack-tap-tap-pounding of my typing (the reason behind missing two keys and most of the letters being worn off on my poor battered keyboard).

Here we sit. Side by side. On another Saturday night.

I wonder: good god, how lame are we? Sure, we're tired. Saturdays are full of kid activities, their demands, schlepping the whole family back and forth, to and fro, running errands, seeing friends, making the kids happy. Every couple with two kids or more has Saturday nights like this, right? RIGHT?!


We do go out some Saturday nights. To parties, movies, dinners, events. But not nearly as often as before. This, I know, is normal. Right? RIGHT?!

But here is what worries me, the part that I fear is not normal: this is what I would rather be doing most Saturday nights. What the f*ck?! Did I just say that? Why yes, that was old lame lazy Mom speaking. I enjoy sitting here, chatting online with pals hundreds sometimes thousands of miles away, catching up. Hubby and I are so geeky that sometimes we'll sit here and send Facebook chat messages to each other. Sometimes, we'll share super geeky designy stuff we find online with each other. Oh the romance! The excitement! All while we are sitting less than 2 feet away from each other. I joke, but I think it's kind of sweet. And truthfully? By the time the kids are in bed, I want nothing more than to be in my jammies, take out my contacts, and sit on my butt doing nothing of major importance and nothing that requires me to be social face-to-face.

So there it is: I am lame, and I'm ok with it. Now I'm going to drink my wine, search for some bon bons, and make fun of Larry King and debate politics with the hubster until SNL comes on. I know you are all jealous of our wild weekend night life. Go get yer own!


My Wordle

I'm late to the game, as usual. It takes a while for trends to sink in with me. I have to assess and reassess and evaluate their worth in my life before jumping in. But for god's sake, it's just words, so here, at long last, about 2 years after everyone else in the blogosphere introduced their Wordles, is my silly Wordle, courtesy of http://www.wordle.net.


A Non-Recipe:Tri-Pepper Turkey Pasta

I tweet on my personal Twitter account about making my tri-pepper turkey pasta a lot because, well, we make it at least twice a month. It's easy, fast, healthy, inexpensive, reheats well for lunch leftovers and is, quite frankly, damn good. I've had requests for the recipe, but here's the deal with my cooking: there are no recipes. I have a whole kitchen cabinet with three shelves devoted to cookbooks, but my philosophy is that recipes are to be used as inspiration and not as absolutes. If there is an ingredient or two or three that I don't like in a recipe, I will still try it, but with my own preferred substitutions.

So with that in mind, here is my non-recipe recipe for one of our family's staples. This makes enough for my husband and me, our two kids, one hungry dinner guest, and lunch leftovers for all. Try it if you want, with your own substitutions and whatnot, and let me know what you think!

2 Tbs olive oil plus more for sauce if necessary
1/2 cup or so sliced onion
minced garlic
1.5 - 2 sliced red bell peppers
1-1.5 sliced orange bell pepper(s)
1 sliced yellow bell pepper
half & half if necessary/if you want to make the sauce creamy
1 package lean ground turkey
basil - either dried or fresh chopped
pasta - we prefer a corkscrew pasta such as rotini or fusili
salt & pepper
finely chopped parsley
grated romano or parmesan cheese (optional, but really makes the flavors pop if you add romano)

1. Boil enough water to cook your pasta. How much pasta? You decide. We usually do 1/2 a pound up to a whole pound depending on if we have a dinner guest or not.

2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Do a little dance, because the people who make olive oil deserve it.

3. Add sliced onions and peppers and minced garlic (see pic below). Saute until slightly tender but still crisp. You don't want to saute them too much or they won't puree as well in the food processor. PORTION NOTE: the more peppers you use, the heartier the sauce, so really, use however much you see fit. We usually stick to 1 to 1.5 of each type of pepper, with more of the red pepper than the orange and yellow, but if you want a sweeter sauce, go with more yellow or orange pepper. Just be aware of the shift in flavor and texture of sauce based on your portions of peppers.

4. When peppers are just tender enough, set peppers, onions and garlic mix into a food processor to cool for a bit. Make sure you've got a medium-sized food processor and not one of those rinky dink ones or you'll be cleaning up a big mess.

5. Sprinkle your dried basil or your finely chopped fresh basil on top of the pepper mix. Just be sure to use less if you are using dried basil since the taste of dried herbs is sharper than fresh. But then again, if you don't like basil, skip it. This is also good with thyme or sage, but I'd use those sparingly since they are both very strong herbs with distinct flavors that can overpower the peppers.

6. Meanwhile, your water should be boiling. What are you waiting for? Put the pasta in already.

7. Also while pepper mix is cooling a bit, go ahead and start to brown the ground turkey in the same skillet you used. You could brown the meat first and then the peppers, but I like cooking the peppers first because then the meat soaks up the pepper/onion/garlic taste from any remaining olive oil as it cooks.

8. While meat browns, go ahead and process the pepper mixture in the food processor. Now I sometimes add more olive oil and/or half & half in this step, depending on if we want the sauce to be saucier or thicker. Use your preference as your guide. Who am I to tell you what to do? Oh right, I'm writing the recipe. But I did warn you it's a non-recipe. Anywhoo... this is what it should look like when the mix is processed enough:

9. Add the pepper mix to the ground turkey as soon as the turkey is cooked enough. If you don't know how to tell if ground turkey is cooked enough, I can't help you. You shouldn't be cooking. But I can show you what the whole mixture should look like:

10. Stir the pepper mixture and the ground turkey until the pepper mixture is distributed evenly throughout.

11. The pasta should be done by now. Drain pasta water and add cooked pasta to the ground turkey pepper mixture.

12. Add salt & pepper to taste, plus fresh parsley and/or grated romano cheese and voila! You get something that should look like this:

I know, you're not supposed to serve food on blue plates because it makes the food less appetizing, but it takes a lot more than color theory to make food less appetizing to me, so those food critics can suck it. I think food looks great on blue plates and these Pottery Barn pasta bowls have lasted 7+ years, since we got them as wedding gifts.

So there you go. I told some of you who requested this recipe that I don't write recipes. If you make this and it sucks, don't blame me! Must be something you did. :) But really, there are many variations to this dish. Here are a few:

*substitute lean ground turkey for italian sausage
*substitute orange and yellow peppers for all red peppers
*substitute basil for the herb(s) of your choice
*substitute fusili or rotini for linguini, fettucine or penne...just not shells or ditalini or other small pasta shape
*substitute parmesan cheese for romano cheese
*add ricotta cheese to the mix of ground turkey and peppers, add cooked pasta, place into a baking dish, sprinkle with generous amounts of mozarella cheese, and bake in 375 degree oven until set for a super tasty baked pasta dish.


A Year of Death & Divorce

Death and I do not get along. It mocks me, and I curse and spit at it. But then, I turn around, and go back to the mechanics of my daily life. I've become an expert in denial.

I'm bad at dealing with death. Very bad. It angers me to think about losing someone, anyone, I've ever come into contact with. I get addicted to people, and even if they've only been in my life briefly, I am still easily overwhelmed by their loss. If you and I meet on a train and have an amazing 10 minute conversation, rest assured that 15 years later I will remember you, your face, and I will want to hang out with you and listen to the story of your life for the last 15 years if ever we meet again. You'll probably wonder "dude, who's this creepy lady who remembers a 10-minute conversation on a train from 15 years ago?" and sometimes I am annoyed by how attached I get to, well, everyone, but I've learned to live with this quirk of mine and just go with it. We only have one life, so shouldn't we cherish all of the people we are fortunate to meet?

Now my uncle R (who is also my godfather) is going off life support as I write this. I'm pretty sure some of my family members think I'm crazy. "What's wrong with her? She hasn't seen him in years!" No, I haven't seen him in years. I haven't made any effort, whatsoever. I'm a douchebag for not spending more time with my extended family. I got the news via email in my office, and there I sat, in full pathetic glory, bawling alone while listening to the rain. I remember the time we did spend together. I remember things in frames that aren't quite all in order, but the scents, the lighting, the colors, the laughs, the distinct voices... they are all there quite clearly. I remember him, and it pisses me off that I am losing him, that his kids are losing their father.

Why am I such a fountain this year? When my lola died, I got emails starting with "I know you aren't normally emotional, but if you need me..." and my personal favorite "I know you don't do the whole tears thing..." I distinctly remember these because for some reason I got all defensive. "I do so cry sometimes!" I would retort, but alas, they're right: I have not been so big on the crying thing for most of my adult life. Other people crying, I can deal with. Me crying? I don't think so.

But then this year has changed all that. 2008 has been the year of death and divorce. All around me, I have watched friends and family lose parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, children, spouses... I have one friend who lost both parents within a month. Within one year, I have watched even more friends deal with ailing family members, and more than ever before, I am surrounded by friends dealing with divorce, which more than a few of them have equated as dealing with a death. It's the death of part of your life, saying goodbye to a person who was your life and trying to fit into a new one. Except with divorce you get the whole rebirth thing, and with death you're, well, done. So much sadness, so many goodbyes, so much pain and questioning and guilt. So. Fucking. Much. Can the year please just let up a little? Jeebus! Enough with the drama! It's bad enough that the economy has tanked, our earth is dying, and that they don't make the chocolate covered Kudos bars anymore... can we at least ease up on the death of loves ones?

I'm at the age where there are certainly more possibilities for grave illnesses. The word cancer is as common among friends these days as the term keg party was for us not so long ago (ok, maybe it was long ago, but humor this old hag). I had my own scare less than a year ago, and even though everything turned out fine, there was still that "oh holy shit, I really could die sooner than later"that is more of a possibility now more than ever, especially when you're undergoing procedures you'd always imagined you wouldn't ever have to undergo until you were older. Suddenly, ta-da! You're old enough, and you wonder how the hell you got there so fast. Our parents are aging. Our circle of friends is wider. There are many, many reasons why there's more death & divorce in my life these days. None of them make me feel any better.

So I'm trying to figure it all out, while also trying to figure out how to explain these things to my kids. My son is at the age where he truly wants answers and quite frankly, mommy doesn't have any. I don't believe in bullshitting him, and we don't conform to any religion so those convenient "heaven" answers don't fly in our house, but I also don't want to leave him with more questions. So I try to focus on the now, and talk about how there are so many things we can do today, to teach him how to live a life without regret, to live so that at the end of each day he can be proud of who he is at that exact moment and all he has done up until then. But those aren't answers. Those are delays. Why do we die? I don't know. It makes me mad that we do. It pisses me off that today I'm losing someone who once opened up his home to me and my family, who made a ginormous Filipino feast for more than 20 of us, who had a great smile and laugh in my memories, whom I didn't get to see on a regular basis, and who is leaving behind a wife, kids and grandkids who love him very much. More and more, we're losing each other. I'm putting the year of death & divorce in a big time out for now, until it can learn to calm down a bit.


Pandora's Box

Sometimes when you go searching for one thing, you end up uncovering something totally unexpected. I've been trying to find my black sandals for a couple of weeks now. I was all bummed when we went to the beach for a friend's wedding and discovered that I hadn't packed them. I just had my wedding shoes, spare heels "just in case" (for what? who needs heels at the beach ever?!) and my running shoes. No sandals. I figured I just left them at home. Well it's been two weeks now and I still can't find them. So I was searching upstairs in our closet, in storage areas I haven't touched in a while but that are accessible by my kids who have a habit of sometimes storing important items in the most random of places. They're just adorable like that.

So then I uncovered a box. A box I hadn't opened in probably 10 years, much less even remembered existed. I thought it was just an old box and I started to break it down for recycling when I realized it had contents. Naturally, I opened the box.


It's a good thing I had a glass of wine waiting for me in the living room. Never open these kinds of boxes without knowing what's in them, my friends. But then, after the initial horror, it wasn't all scary.

I uncovered photos of me and my family when I was a baby. Who knew I had these in my possession? Want to know what my daughter looks like? Here ya go. Except these are pics of chubby little me as a baby. The resemblance is super freaky. So sorry, dear baby girl, you're gonna look just like mama when you grow up. But look how cute we are as babies!

The photos were so great to discover. There were photos of me and my cousins as little kids, photos of me and my great-grandmother who passed away 1.5 years ago, photos of uncles and aunts and friends. There were middle school and high school wallet-size photos with the typical "stay cool this summer" signed by the BFF of the month. There were more photos. Then as I stripped away the layers of photos I uncovered the notes. I distinctly remember going through boxes and boxes of notes I had saved from middle and high school when I went to college and trashing them. Apparently, I saved some. ML, if you're reading this, I think there are some from you in there, girlfriend! And my poetry books. Holy cow, I wrote enough poems to fill several manilla file folders and at least a dozen spiral-bound notebooks. I read some of them. A few were ok. Then underneath the letters and notes were...things. gum wrappers friends had written on. Empty boxes that once held...what? Gifts? Smokes? Sugar packets friends had written on. Cards and stickers. And in the middle of it all, a letter I had placed in a box written January 15, 1994 and never sent.

I am rattled and a bit amused by all this because this is not what I know now. Back then, I apparently saved everything. Now, I save almost nothing. Photos, yes, but things? Even with my kids' baby items, I'm just not that sentimental about them. I even had to talk myself into holding onto their first baby clothes, for sentimental value, but the logical part of me just sees it all as stuff taking up room. I feel the same way about my kids' artwork (bad mama, I know, but really: what will a half-colored page of a fireman drawing mean to my kid in the future?). My life is about people and memories, not things.

And yet, I sat there, surrounded by Pandora's beautiful and sometimes painful insides, thinking that maybe it's not such a bad idea to save some things. To understand who we are now, we sometimes have to look back at who we were. I admit that some of these seemingly random, unimportant odds and ends in the box slowly started to take shape and importance in my head. I eventually remembered. I got it. I smiled. I put the things, including the gum wrappers, back in the box, closed the lid, and placed it back in its space. At least I know it's there now. It can't assault me unexpectedly on a lovely Friday night again.

So for my kids, I think I will start to save more for them from now on. Who am I to decide what is or is going to be important to them later in life? When they are grown, they can make those decisions of what to toss and what to keep.

I didn't realize I had a Pandora's box, but I think it found me when I was finally ready to find it. Do you have a Pandora's box? If so, what's in it? What do you save and what do you keep, of both your kids items and your own personal items?

Oh, and by the way? Still haven't found my black sandals.


My Solo Vaca

Sometimes I wish I could shut off all the voices around me. The emails. The Twitter tweets. The Blog comments. The Facebook updates. The LinkedIn requests. The voicemails (which I don't listen to anyway, so really people just need to stop calling). Even the kids. The friends and family. The dog. By their nature, my businesses all force me to be very social, which can be a great thing because I get such a happiness high from meeting new people, learning more about their lives, hearing their amazing goals, aspirations and life philosophies. I LOVE hanging out with other people, whether one-on-one or in large groups.

Yet there comes a time when my brain says "too much noise!" and essentially starts shutting down. Usually it's when life is crazier than normal on all fronts and my body, my heart, my spirit need for me to step away from the madness and recharge. So much is happening right now, so many decisions to make, so much to re-evaluate, so many emotions, so much at stake. I want to put my hand on the world and just say: stop. No more spinning until I figure this all out.

This is where I am now.

To say it is difficult to get away when you have businesses, plural, and kids, plural, and obligations, exponentially plural, is indeed a great understatement. When I told my husband, who is dear and supportive always, that I needed to get away if not for a weekend then at least for a full day, to skip town and head out on my own, he jokingly replied "who's going to watch the kids?"

I know he's joking, but that's the heart of my anxiety about leaving. I know it's ridiculous, because really, my kids will be fine. My husband will be fine. My businesses will be fine. In fact, they'd all probably be much better off in the long run if I did skip town for a bit! I know my writing, for one, is suffering from lack of ability to focus.

So now the dilemma: where to go? Originally I thought I'd leave for a week to London, Paris, Florence... who was I kidding? Maybe when the kids are older and truly happy to see me gone that long :) There's no way we could afford that now anyway. So then, to the coast? A day at the beach? And when? A weekday, a weekend? Or do I just need to take a series of short vacations away, like an afternoon a week? I'm thinking about staying somewhere close, because then I could take our dog. He used to be my road trip buddy when I used to travel up and down the west for work. Sweet old dog. He does love the beach...

Until I figure it out, I'm just plugging along. But barely. Has anyone taken a solo vacation? If so, where, and for how long? Any tips? And when I say solo, I mean, not even with my girlfriends. Love them all dearly, but I do a ton of girls' night outs, girls' weekends. etc. This time, this trip, I need for me. Call me selfish, but there I be.


My Lunch With Martha

All right, fine. I didn't actually have lunch with Martha Stewart. I really just wrote a lil guest blog post which went live today over at the Martha Stewart Everyday Foods blog. But still! I think I almost peed my pants when the ever fabulous Editor in Chief of EDF asked me to do a guest blog post. Really? Me? (looks over left shoulder, looks over right shoulder). Hmm. It appears she was talking to me, and she must have been since she actually sent me a message, and well, nobody (except the government) sees my emails except for me. So I said yes (duh) and now here, for all the world to see/make fun of/laugh at is my guest blog post about easy lunchtime ideas for busy families. I know, the blog is called Dinner Tonight, but they were already filled up with dinner posts. And I thought I was supposed to follow their blog format? But the other amazingly talented guest bloggers included their own recipes? And their own photos? Hmm...I think I misinterpreted the rules. Gah. Mine is a little blah in comparison. But alas, it's still there, and I am still going to dance in joy and total appreciation of this incredible opportunity.

Did they know that my family jokes my middle name is Martha? At least, back when I had more time & energy to throw myself completely into entertaining *sigh* This blog is great, because it's full of awesome recipes & tips/tricks for busy families. Hey, that's us!

OK, what are you still doing here? Go read the post and leave some comment love both here and there, pretty please?!


My Palin Post: For Me, For My Daughter

I've been waiting to write this post until most of the initial madness has cleared. I haven't read most of the blog reactions out there. I watched the conventions, some news, and did my own research, trying to stick to only factual reports and not opinion-based articles (which is hard, because there are obviously a million opinion-based posts out there!). I've tweeted on Twitter, and conversed with friends. My friends know how opinionated I am. They are waiting for me to blog about it. (Hint: if you follow me on Twitter or FB you'd know my immediate thoughts :).

This is not to stir up (my 4 or 5) readers on either side, or allow folks another chance to proclaim their love or hate of Governor Palin. I am a former journalist, a registered Democrat, but in no way an expert on the exact details of Ms. Palin's life or policies. I am a voter, a mom of two small kids, the owner of two small businesses, and this is my post for me, and for my daughter.

I am, and always have been, a feminist. I believe women have a right to the same things as men. Plain and simple. We deserve the same pay, the same respect, the same acknowledgement, the same opportunities. I dressed up as Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 2nd grade for the "dress as your favorite historic figure" day or something like that (favorite hero day maybe?). I grew up with the hardest working mother, who, through her own experiences and dedication to and passion for her work, taught me that being a woman should not limit me in any way, but it also does not afford me any special privileges either. Just do your best job, and if you get over-looked or under-valued for being a woman or being a Filipino-American, then you simply do your job even better than your best.

I am a huge Hillary fan. Not that I voted for her in the primary, but I truly admire what she has done throughout her years of service, what she has stood for, and what she has tried to accomplish. For me, it was nice to see a prominent female politician finally become a serious contender for the Commander in Chief position. It was thrilling to watch her speak, and think that WOMAN could be our next President. A. Woman. President. The words I've been wanting to hear since I was a little girl. Forget dreams of the knight riding in on his white horse to save me; I dreamed of a day when maybe someday I could be president, or my friend Megan, or Emily, or Nikki. I dreamed simply for that possibility.

And here we are. After this election, we will either have the first African-American President or the first female Vice-President of the United States. Mind boggling. The problem with that? For me, it's how to properly explain to my daughter when she is older WHY I did not vote for the ticket with a woman's name on it. Why, after all my talk and work to further promote professional women in this world, why I did not use my power to vote to further promote THIS particular professional woman. And that's when I will have to explain to her that sexism works both ways: I wouldn't want a man to vote for someone just because he's a man, and nobody should vote for this ticket just because it has a woman's name on it.

And that woman is not just any woman. Sarah Palin is not the right woman for the job, and were she a man with the same credentials (or lack thereof), same spotted history, same hypocritical leadership, same disregard for rules that are put in place to protect equality, I would think she were just as unqualified to be second in line for Commander in Chief. As a woman, I am deeply, profoundly, dishearteningly insulted by the GOP's choice of Sarah Palin as their VP on the ticket. If they wanted my vote simply as a female, they should have chosen someone who actually has the credentials, the leadership, the intelligence, the family values that are pro-women. Someone whom we could all point to and say, "Ah! Now THERE'S a woman who will work and fight for the future of womankind!" But they didn't.

As a woman, I don't want someone with the same degree that I hold to be VP of the country; I want someone who is smarter and more educated than I am because her decisions and daily responsibilities are far, far greater than mine will ever be. As a woman, I want my kids to live in a safer world, and that means having someone in the #2 spot who has knowledge of how other countries actually work, because she has been to those countries, talked with their people, witnessed their daily rituals and understands their cultures; I've been to more countries than Palin, and many of my friend's young kids can say the same. As a woman, I want someone in the VP position who puts country first, and believes in this great nation and its constitution; but the GOP chose a woman who has supported succession from the country she now claims she wants to help lead, and whose husband has been one of the greatest supporters of that cause. As a woman, I want someone to help lead the country who will protect our ability to tell the truth, to ask hard questions and to uphold fairness for all; but in Palin, they've chosen a woman who is involved in a scandal that accuses her of an inappropriate firing (and who reportedly has a history of attempting to fire or demote anyone who disagrees with her), a woman who wants to ban books (I could write a whole separate post on my thoughts about that issue alone), and a woman who, when actually asked a simple fact-based question by a reporter, results in the GOP resorting to big bully tactics and refusing to actually answer fact-based questions. What will she do as VP? Only answer questions about issues she is in favor of or about her kids? As a woman, I also want someone who respects all Americans, and their way of life, not someone like Palin who mocks a man who has worked with the poor first hand and not just behind a desk as she has; a man who chose to work with and for the people, instead of the elite, corrupted big government as she has.

For me, as a woman, the choice is clear: by not voting the McCain/Palin ticket, I am voting FOR womankind. I am voting for the kind of future that allows my daughter the opportunity to live her life to the fullest, to have equal opportunities as those who are wealthier and of different color than her, to have control over not just her body but her LIFE should something awful happen to her, to live in a world free of fear from extinction in her lifetime because of our actions against the earth. I am voting for my kids, so that they may live in a safer world, so that they may have leadership that is intelligent, not average; passionate, not reactive; collaborative and fair, not exclusive and elitest.

I am a woman, a mother, and I am voting for Obama/Biden because I believe my daughter's future is safer and and filled with more opportunity in their hands. Now if only the GOP would stop insulting women everywhere by parading about the woman who so obviously is for nobody but herself.

(Also: read this letter from a Wasilla resident, sent to me by the ever fabulous @jenhen)


Me & Baker Boo

I grew up in a family where meals always consisted of at least two entrees and a few different side dishes. And nobody ever forgot dessert. Food has always been such an important part of my life, my family, and it is such a joy to now be cooking and baking alongside my own kids, in particular, 4 year old Boo.

While my husband and I both love cooking, we also bake quite a bit at our house. Boo has been baking alongside me since he was about 2.5 years old, stirring, mixing in ingredients, adding toppings. Now that he's 4, he's helping me crack the eggs into the mix, measure ingredients, and just do more overall to help with the process. He loves being in the kitchen with me, and I truly love playing the role of teacher to this excited little baker.

This week we've made chocolate chip cookies, cupcakes and today, banana bread. He's starting to help decide what ingredients will go well with the dishes, since we use recipes as guidelines and give them our own little spin that works better for our family's taste. Today we mixed in apples into the banana bread and topped it with chocolate chips. Next time, he says we'll add apples AND pears. He gave today's bread a thumbs up.

So now he's slowly been helping me more with cooking in addition to our usual baking time together. We've done lots of baking together the past few years, but when I'm cooking he might just help set the table or throw in an ingredient I've already prepped. I'm thinking he's ready to do more now, but I'm not yet ready to hand over a knife for him to chop up veggies or anything (today he forgot he was holding crayons and ended up coloring on our countertops; chopping veggies, he is not yet ready for!). I'm thinking he can help roll out pizza dough, help measure ingredients with me now...maybe grate cheese?

If anyone has ideas about things that a 4-year-old can help with in terms of cooking meals, please let me know! I'm excited to engage him further into the world of cooking and not just baking!


What Me, Worry?

I live each day based on gut instinct. It speaks to me, I follow it, and things usually work out in such a way that I am glad I don't question my gut. It tends to be when I do NOT listen to my gut that I get in trouble.

Yesterday while driving to pick up my son from school I noticed a man sitting on the street in a back alley nearby. We live in the burbs, and the school is not in an area where people just "hang out." There's really no street traffic, no reason for people to walk by the school as it IS the destination. There are men working around there regularly, but it's obvious they are working on the roof, taking out the trash, on a smoke break, etc. This man, who did not "look" homeless nor did he fit the profile of nearby workers, just sat on the street, drinking out of a can of something, staring off. And he did not look like he was on a break. He looked up as my car approached, and the look he gave me is almost indescribable: anger? fear? hate? disgust? It was the farthest from a smile, it was quite an onbvious glare. I met his gaze briefly, noted he looked like a sad version of a man I used to work with -almost shoulder length straight light brown/dirty blond hair, thin nose and thin build, light facial hair - and then I looked away and drove on. For whatever reason, he gave me the creeps. I couldn't shake the feeling. I went into the school, hugged my son, and swept him into the car and off we went. He made such an impression on me, this man, that I kept thinking about him for the rest of the day.

Then this morning, as I was leaving the school, I saw the man again. I don't know why, but for some reason as I was driving away, I looked toward an apartment building in an area I honestly never look at because I'm usually in such a hurry, and there he was. He was standing under an awning and for a moment I wondered if he lived there, but he looked at me again, and I knew he didn't. He was just trying to stay out of the rain. Everything about his posture and movement told me he was ready to move at a moment's notice should someone ask him to. He was not comfortable. He again gave me the same look. It lasted only a second or two, and then my car took me in the opposite direction. I drove away with the same awful, uneasy feeling. He was wearing the same slightly oversized purple shirt he wore the day before, and, it appeared, he was drinking out of the same or at least a similar can.

I drove away and debated with myself: should I call the school? Should I forget about it and not call? Maybe he was the guest of one of the apartment dwellers and had nothing to do while his friend was at work during the day? I had a terrible, terrible feeling that I just could not shake. This guy was not homeless, nor was he the father of one of the school kids, nor was he an employee of a nearby business. Why was I feeling so strongly about this? As I pulled into a gas station to fill up, I called the school. I felt a little silly talking to the director about the man, but it felt right. It still feels right. It was such a strong feeling that I almost drove back to the school and pulled my son out for the day: my gut wasn't talking to me, it was YELLING at me.

And so I hung up the phone, paid for my gas, and drove to work. The feeling went away after a while, and I presumed all was well. When I picked up my son from school, the man was nowhere in sight.

Sometimes I feel so silly for having such strong reactions. I worry that I'm overreacting. But when it comes to my family, I would rather risk offending a stranger than risk the safety of my family.

I hate that I feel this way. This worry, this instinct, this fear. As my kids get older, and I'm no longer able to be with them all the time, I hate it. I hate letting go and trusting their care to others sometimes. I know they are safe with the people I trust to care for them; it's the other people whom they may encounter along the way that I can never predict may exist that I do not trust. It's the "what if" that I can never foreshadow, the unthinkables I can never prepare for or prevent.

I don't hate many things, but I hate this fear. I woke up today feeling like there really is good in the world that lies within each person, and underneath every circumstance lies good intentions. I have to hold onto that faith that all people at the core are decent. I have to believe. If I don't, I think I will just be a total wreck anytime we step outside. I wish there were nothing to fear for our children. That we could send them to school and KNOW 100% without a doubt that nothing bad would ever happen to them. We don't live in that world, unfortunately, so I suppose I have to just hold onto my faith in humanity, and follow my gut when it sends me red flags. In these instances, I am actually happy when my gut feeling is wrong, and there's proof that I really don't have anything to worry about.


No really, I don't need alcohol to be this annoyingly hyper

It's come to my attention that throughout my various online convos with you, and the other two people who read my six or seven blogs but never leave comments (ahem) that I write quite a bit about drinking. As in, I need one, I'd like one, someone please dear God get me one NOW, I understand why moms in the 50's had their 4pm martinis, I'm off to get some (drinks that is), or I am partaking in one. Then my brother's tweet on Twitter last night while hubs and I were tweeting the Olympics whilst drinking A Beer (as in, one, single, uno birra) made me realize that I probably normally sound drunk in my tweets, my blog posts, and other meandering forms of writing. Even without the assistance of alcohol.

Hmm. Pause for thought.

So here I am blogging, totally sober, but really, just as buzzed as I was last night on that one beer. I'm normally an outspoken, happy, hyper person in the first place. One of those annoying people who tends to write emails that contain a LOT of EXCITED CAPS!!! And exclamation points!! And :-) and ;D. And whose tagline in email signatures should just be "OMG! I am SO excited for you!!!" Couple that god awful loud & annoying personality with the fact that I'm in the land of the best NW wines and best microbrews in the world, so it's pretty natural for me to chat them up all the time. And think about them a lot. And sometimes, even partake in them. And by sometimes, I mean maybe one or two a week. I know, did I just shatter the party girl image I was trying for? Well, there ya be. Now my Swiss hubs and my Euro pals? Let's not get started on what "a drink or two" means to them! Our counting systems are totally different (I blame American public schools).

And I'll still talk about it all the time because I'm a mom with two super busy, active little ones under 5, with two busy businesses and about a million obsessive hobbies and online activities. So I often think "dude, a pint of Fat Tire would really do the trick right now" while I'm trying to finish up a website or powering through the last 50 or so emails of the day or cleaning up a poopy diaper after realizing my babe ate a whole pint of blueberries that day. But often we don't have any of the beer or wine I'm itching for in the house so I'll opt for a pint of mint chocolate chip ice cream instead.

Mmm. Ice cream. Now there's an addiction that I admittedly DO have. Well, to chocolate in general really, especially dark chocolate, which goes really well with a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir...

(oh, and if you have read all this, please leave a comment would ya? even a "cheers!" would make this girl happy :)


The Magic of Mirrors

I'm a sarcastic person by nature. Hubby and I like to have verbal wit duals sometimes, and he usually wins, but I can spar verbally with the best of them. But sometimes, I'm rendered speechless, and it's almost always when I look at my kids.

Today was a normal day, which means abnormal, because there are no normal days in our house. Woke up at 5:30am, showered, got dressed, packed up my stuff, and headed out the door for a 7am meeting 45 minutes away. Wore a suit today, which has not been a part of my normal routine at all since I left the corporate world 3 years ago, but I was speaking at this meeting so I suited up and put my game face on (whatever that is, I don't even know anymore!). After the meeting, I met up with hubby who drove the kids into town, switched cars, dropped off the deposit for my new office space, then headed to the bank to sign papers to help pay for said new office space. It was still early, about 8:45am, so it was quiet at the bank. But by 9am it got louder, thanks to my kids' comfort level with the bank growing. We waited. and waited. and while we waited and waited, the kids started running around the bank. Baby Tickle kept cracking up at big brother Boo. They played tag and chased each other. As I signed papers and talked numbers and equipment, I would catch a glimpse of their reflection in windows and monitors around the bank. They were so happy. So free. And so darn cute.

Finally papers were signed, and off we went to run more errands. More laughter in the car, and I'd catch them in my car's "conversation" mirror, grabbing for the other's hand, making faces at each other. Boo kept trying to explain things like a big experienced brother, while Baby Tickle just listened intently before throwing her head back and giggling the most amazing belly baby giggle. I am surprised I got us home safely: those conversation mirrors are addictive and probably why my neck hurts most of the time.

Life in our house truly is crazy right now, and I mean crazier than the normal craziness. There is so much happening, most of it good, but there's SO much of it, all at once. I don't have any downtime, none, and that's ok because I know it's temporary. What keeps me sane is catching glimpses of my kids throughout these super crazy days. My mind may be elsewhere but then suddenly I'll catch a glimpse of them, or hear their laughter, see their smiles, and suddenly the world stops. I stop. Even if it's just for a moment, it's beautiful and comforting and grounding. These magical moments remind me that the decisions I've made are the right ones, that as hard as they can be to work through, the reason is always worth it. To see my kids, to hear my kids, to hug and kiss and tickle my adorable breathtaking little people makes everything, everything worth it.


Garage Sale Revelations

On Saturday, I started this lovely, poignant post about our garage sale and the beacons of light that beamed down onto my overloaded soul and filled it with such inspiration.

But it's the end of Monday now, and I don't have time to finish that bullshit so here's the short list of what I learned from our garage sale on Saturday:

1. "Things" really don't have sentimental value to me as perhaps some should. As we were putting out Boo & Baby Tickle's teeny tiny baby clothes, I would remember their itty bitty little selves writhing around in their cribs those first days, months in those outfits. But then onto the racks or bins they went. The new open spaces in all of our closets? Heaven! I hate clutter, apparently, more than I love what should be sentimental memories.

2. It really is nice to live close to family. I can bitch about how my parents set back months of working with Boo about the value of money within one 2-hour babysitting timeframe in which they taught him that if he's simply"good" he gets tons of quarters for his piggy bank (grr...). I can complain about my mom always forgetting things I tell her or my dad still trying to tell me how to do things that a stupid monkey could do, but when it comes down to it, having my parents and brother live about 45 minutes away is very nice. It's great to watch our kids grow up with fond memories of their grandparents (they LOVE their grandparents), and to grow up playing with their cousins. And we really couldn't have had that garage sale without them there to help. My bro & SIL and nephew stayed the whole time! On a beautiful Saturday! We didn't expect that at all so a big huge THANK YOU to them.

3. Never underestimate the power of a clean garage. I've seriously walked in and out of there, with it all clean and organized and corners where I am no longer afraid to reach for things for fear that something might bite me, and I've been as giddy as I would be after finding a fridge full of chocolate truffles. A clean garage gives me hope. For what? I don't know. But it does.

4. I'm a pushover. Big time. What's that? You say you want to give me just 25 cents for that almost brand new toy that costs $55 on store shelves right now? Ok! What a great idea! Take it! You look nice! And apparently, I can't say "no"!

5. I hate garage sales. Too much work. Cleaning, organizing, pricing, staging, negotiating. Next time? All of our friends and family can come over for an open house sale and just let us know if they want to take any of our older stuff. The rest goes to charity. We were pooped after just a one-day sale. I'm still pooped. So pooped, I'm going to bed. Good night!


Rockstar Cuties

Today was an amazing day with the kids. They were both just rockstars and sure they had their moments when we were out and about, testing me and trying to get my attention by whining while I failed miserably at attempting to hold conversations with fellow adults, but all in all, we had a super fun, silly, big hugs all around kind of day. We danced, sang songs at the top of our lungs, made beautiful drawings and made up great crazy stories, made all of our regular errands fun adventures, and we just had so much effin fun today, that it really set the tone for the rest of the week. So are you listening, Tuesday through Sunday? You'd better live up to the wonderfulness that was Monday, or else I'm kicking ya back to last week, when you all sucked!

Which is why I didn't blog last week. Because it sucked. But this week....ah, I feel the change in the air already, thanks to my super rockin kiddos. I love you two more than the moon. And chocolate. Yep, that's right: even more than chocolate.


Foto Friday: My Secret Love

I love pretty things. Paper. Coasters. Shirts. Bags. Laptop Skins. If I see a color combo or pattern that makes me happy, I have to have it, regardless of what it is. Most of the time, my purchases make sense. Sometimes, they don't.

Like my secret love of fabrics.

I could spend hours in a fabric store. The eye candy is just too much for me and I have to buy a few yards. Just a few. Because you never know. I may just buy a sewing machine one day and actually, um, sew something out of the beautiful fabrics I purchase.

I have cut out patterns and my mother, the seamstress, has made some t-shirts. Shirts we were and possibly still will sell through my design studio but for now just adorn my two kids. Sometimes I think about pillows. Pillows were always easy. I used to sew: pillows, blankets, skirts, shirts for my dolls, stuffed animals. It's been a long, long time.

I keep these in a cabinet in my office for design inspiration, and some framed on our living room wall because they're just too beautiful to hide away. Someday they will all be out in the world in varying shapes and sizes and uses...for now, their main purpose is to keep the creativity flowing and just simply make me happy.


Calling Super Nanny

The time has come. Our nanny's fall school schedule isn't jiving with our family/my work schedule, thus we're (who are we kidding, I am) on the hunt for a new part-time nanny for my baby girl. I am grateful that I have two months to find one, and that I am lucky to have a lot of great resources in the area, but I am still not looking forward to the search. It's worse than hiring employees, which I actually love doing; it's asking complete strangers to come into my home and to love and care for my flesh and blood as much as I do. And to try not to kill the dog. Or to eat all of the bagels.


My dear daughter has never gone through this kind of transition before, so I worry what it will be like for her. My son, who will only be hanging out with the new nanny for less than an hour at a time after school, will most definitely put the new nanny through his test of wills, but I think he'll be fine. It's my sweet baby girl, who has really gotten attached to our current nanny...she's the one I worry about. She's been super clingy lately, and she's not normally so. I worry that at this stage of her life, it is a more difficult time for this kind of emotional transition.

But such is life. And I have to remember that she's a tough girl. She'll be fine. Right?


I've put the call out to friends and family, but have yet to hit Craigslist. I really don't want to go that route. So far I have one great lead, and I feel like I must have done something really great in a past life to have this lead so soon in the search. It's almost too good to be true. But will it work out? We shall see. I'm trying not to get too excited. She sounds great. But hiring a nanny puts me in both the interviewer AND the interviewee spot: I need to like and approve of her, but she needs to like and approve of us too.

The thing about hiring a nanny is that it's not just the kids that get attached. I do too. And while I love change, transitions, new beginnings, I truly suck at saying goodbye. I can't do it. I get attached to people I chat with in line at Starbucks, so imagine the attachment I get to the people who come into my home a few times a week and care for my children.

Well, wish us luck. And if anyone knows of a great part-time nanny in the Portland area, let me know! :-)


Photo Friday: My Morning

In the 4 years I have been blogging, I believe this is my very first Photo Friday. Crazy, I know! I decided to do a storyboard of the things I wake up to each day. So here's a little glimpse into my mornings...

I wake up first to my alarm on my BlackBerry:

Hubby wouldn't let me photograph him this a.m. so this is a shot of his t-shirt this Friday morning. Don't take offense, people :)

Then our silly, LOUD, very much morning people kids are in my view:

And our Lab Retriever:

Coffee is King in the a.m., shown here in a mug given to me by our nanny last Christmas:

Roses from our garden on our buffet:

Have a great Friday and happy weekend, everyone!


At first I was afraid, I was petrified....

...blah blah blah, the point is I survived my first kickboxing class! (And, um, don't tell anyone this, but I secretly really, really liked it! Yikes!). Now, my body still hurts like a mo-fo, but I'm lovin' the pain. I feel it in areas that need to be worked out, so that means those problem areas will be gone after the next class, right? I'll be svelt and confident and magically transformed into the 6-foot skinny make-up wearing blonde who dares to stand in the front of the class, right? (I still don't get wearing make-up while working out, especially a super sweaty work out, but that's another post...).
So for at least another week, I say: Bring it on, crazy happy, punching, kicking, high-fiving kickboxing instructor! Bring it. As my Lightning McQueen-loving 4 year old would say, "KA-CHOW!"


I am Kung Fu Panda: floppy & flabby...but fun!

Fitness is not really my friend. I am truly more Kung Fu Panda than, say, Kelly Ripa or Heidi Klum. I do not enjoy working out. I am allergic to gyms. I dread exercise classes and get anxiety over the thought of any type of exercise in a social setting; the last thing I want to worry about while sweaty and stinky is making witty conversation with other human beings. So why, oh WHY, did I sign up for a cardio kickboxing class? Was I drunk/high/tricked? I have no good excuse. For some reason, I thought it was a GOOD IDEA. Hmmm...old age is apparently making me lose all good judgement.

The one thing I DO like to do is go running. Once in a while. And by that, I mean, maybe a couple of times a month...or a couple of times within a few months. Scheduling exercise seems odd to me. Three times a week? At the same time every day? That's crazy talk. Only crazy people do things like that. Hmm...I am getting older and hence crazier...

Well, here I am, at the start of summer, shorts and swimsuit season, and it's hit me: I want to work out. Wha-wha-WTF? Who said that? Was that MY inner voice? Holy hell it was! I want to eat better and lose these extra inches that I'd love to blame on the babies, except the youngest is now 14 months. I stopped nursing a little over a month ago but forgot to stop eating those extra 500 calories...and they're not exactly leaving my body. I may weigh the same as I did in high school, but that is a BAD thing: my body is most definitely NOT the same! Which means I have lost a lot of muscle and gained the lesser-weight-but-more-fatty-fat-skin fat in its place.


The worst is the muffin top: the horrid "mom" syndrome of a belly and love handles that likes to flop over jeans that aren't even tight. I hate it. My ass isn't the same either. When I went running the other day, I actually FELT these horrid...things...flopping about as I pounded the pavement. Ick. I was so disgusted.

And so, in a moment of weakness, I signed up for a kickboxing class. It starts in less than 2 hours.

Well, shit.

Wish me luck. I've never taken a kickboxing class. What do I wear? I'm weary of it already because it's a class. The anxiety of "what if all the other people in the class end up as friends and go out afterward for post-workout coffee without me?" is already annoying my overactive imagination. But I'm going. I can't take the muffin top and love handles anymore. It's time to reclaim my body.

Deep breath. Here I go...!






Our Anti-Summer Camp Summer

Boo is now home an extra day from preschool, so he goes 3 half days instead of 4 from now until September. This means one less work day for me, which means more madness in the house in general, but during the summer it seems like juggling everything is less of a hassle and more of a joy. It may not be the lazy, hazy days of summer around our house, but it certainly feels like lighter, happier, more carefree days...even as busy as our days are.

I debated about signing Boo up for summer classes: swimming, soccer, music, art. But signing up for the classes we want for the days and times that would work for us is always a huge headache, and in the end, I decided against any formal camps or classes. Boo just turned four; he's not 12. He already goes to school and has that structure, and during the summer his preschool has mini "camps" anyway. I truly believe that as a society we tend to overschedule our kids. I am a big believer in letting kids be kids: let them enjoy a lazy day here and there of just hanging out in the backyard collecting bugs, waking up with no set schedule and seeing where the day takes us, not having to be anywhere at a certain time. Even if I can give Boo two of these days a week, or even just one day with no plans, I notice that he is a much happier soul. And as much as we know kids crave schedules, I also want Boo and Tickle to grow up knowing that most days you just need to roll with the punches and see what happens. The ability to schedule but the flexibility to change: that's what life is, right?

So here we are, on a sunny Monday morning, hanging out having breakfast in pajamas. Boo said he wants to print out more pictures for his photo album, the mini travel album that we made for him when we travel places so he gets excited about the people and places we're going to see.
That's the only thing on our "agenda" today. Granted, I've got a million things to do for the businesses, my formal revised biz plan to finish up before I meet with my business counselor this week, and I should probably clean the house, but whatever. Those things can wait and they'll happen in due time. Today we're just going to breathe and enjoy just being. I love summer!

Tickle stopping to smell the flowers:


Weaning & Co-Sleeping

It's officially been two weeks since my last nursing session with baby Tickle. At 13.5 months old, we were both done. She was just using me for comforting nibbles, and it was time. I had no goals for nursing with her. With Boo, I wanted to make it to 6 months, and we made it to 8.5 months before he essentially weaned himself before I had to go on a trip to San Fran and couldn't take him with me. It affected me more than it did him. I was in PAIN! This time, the parting was a whisper, where I haven't felt any difference and apparently, neither did Tickle. She's a big girl, and she just loves her sippy cup and drinking out of regular kid cups too.

Part of me is sad. She's our baby, our last baby, and the lovely nursing sessions are done. Another milestone that we won't reach with another kid.

But yesterday at the doctor's office a woman walked in with a crying infant, all chubby and pink and maybe all of two months, and all I could think was: "Cute. Glad we're done with that phase." And so, I know, no big pangs of wanting another from this mama.

As for Boo, we made a deal that when he turned 4 he'd start sleeping in his own bed in his own room again. That's right: ever since Tickle came home from the hospital, Boo has been sleeping with us. And we loved it. Boo is our baby too, and he's getting so big so fast, and we know he's not going to want to snuggle up with us as much anymore as he gets older. I know lots of friends who cosleep for different reasons, one of them being that they work FT and cosleeping allows them to connect more with their kids. While hubby works FT out of the house, I work FT in the house, and it just makes me want to spend as much time snuggling my little babes for as long as I can, for as long as they'll let me.

Boo is four. Last night he slept in his own bed in his own room. I was so proud of him, but also a bit sad. Our kids are growing up, and I just don't want to miss a minute of it. He ended up crawling into our bed halfway through the night, and I was a little happy about it.

(If you are wondering about Tickle, she's been sleeping in her own crib in her own room perfectly happily since she was about five months. She's our independent one).


Anatomy of a Mama's Morning

Here's my morning:
  • wake up against my will
  • check emails in bed
  • shower
  • get dressed
  • deal with ungodly thick hair that has no shape
  • make breakfast for son
  • feed the dog
  • make second breakfast for son because dog ate his first breakfast
  • unload dishwasher
  • make coffee
  • put away dirty dishes from sink
  • take out trash (to the actual trash bin outside & not just in our garage, ahem)
  • vacuum (and sometimes mop the floors)
  • get baby dressed
  • change baby's new and very full poopy diaper
  • get baby dressed again
  • feed baby breakfast
  • put away hubby's dirty dishes that he left out from last night & this morning
  • check emails
  • resolve sibling morning squabble
  • fix some website issues
  • order dad's day gifts + a little something for myself
  • clean up after baby's breakfast (big mess)
  • pack son's lunch
  • get kids out the door & son off to school
  • go to work in the office
Hubby's morning:
  • wake up against his will
  • shower
  • get dressed
  • iron a shirt or pants
  • get in car and go to work
Are you mamas out there going through the same type of morning imbalance in your routines?