This Fleeting Moment of Levity Brought to You by PMS

… because if I don’t laugh, I will shank someone.™

It’s cute, really, the way television ads make PMS seem like this 30-second drama that ends in frolicking around a beach in a white bathing suit.  Let me break it down for you, though.

One night, you go to bed a relatively sane, properly nourished, pH-balanced woman in her forties who would rather have a daily bikini wax than actually wear one – let alone a WHITE one.  The next morning – and by morning I mean THE MOMENT THE SUN RISES even though it’s Saturday, you could’ve totally slept in and no one else in the house – hell, NEIGHBORHOOD – is yet awake – you find you’ve changed.  “Flowered,” “blossomed” – call it whatever ridiculous gardening analogy you want – the truth is this:  There is now a four-alarm fire going on in your lower back.  Your intestines and about half your internal organs are pushing, shoving and kicking their way out of the “building” through your uterus.  There is an oil slick developing on your face reminiscent of the Exxon Valdez, and the only thing that’s “blossomed” is a pimple the size of Mount Everest.  For good measure, you’ll get that zit (a) somewhere dead-center on your face so that you spend the day certain that everyone is staring at the neon target-like deformity now bulging from your head; or (b) somewhere you cannot reach but can constantly feel so that you spend the day certain that estrogen and progesterone are actually chemicals banned by several treaties and contemplate submitting your body to a U.N. inspection team.

Before and After

That’s not enough, though.  As your ovaries and kidneys crowd toward your uterus in their crazed attempt to flee,  your stomach suddenly has room to expand.  Now, the only way to satisfy the ridiculous hunger pangs caused by this impromptu remodel is to eat four pounds of chocolate, a large pizza, a hot fudge sundae, 37 croissants and your young.

Apparently, you also spent your night licking a salt block, because your body now retains enough water to irrigate a desert, leaving you torn between hating the ankles that look like a Tempurpedic mattress and loving the boobs that actually stay up on their own again – because they’ve hardened like concrete.  This conflict will resolve itself the first time you bump into something with your boobs – like your shirt or your bra – and gain valuable insight into what electroshock feels like.  Doctors recommend exercise to alleviate these symptoms.  I say that I hope these same doctors – who clearly do not have boobs – come down with a vicious case of crotch crickets.

But, wait!  There’s more!  Even though you were wide awake at dark o’clock, you will be late for whatever you have to do.  This is probably because you will put on every piece of clothing you own when trying to get dressed and NONE of your clothes will fit.  You will trade pieces around like you are a human Rubik’s cube with the same result – impossible to fucking solve.  You will decide that black yoga pants can be dressed up if you try hard enough.  You will try to put on your make-up, but it’s really hard to get your eyeliner and mascara right when you’re crying about how you have nothing to wear.  Oh, and your hair.  Your hair has become a hay stack, all its moisture having crept off the follicles and onto your face as you slept.  The only “product” that will help you now is an electric razor.  You will contemplate your cheek bone structure in the mirror, wondering whether Sinead and Demi were on to something.  You will recall your last hormonal haircut and achieve a second of clarity so pure and sweet you will be certain the hair-scrunchie is actually some type of prophylactic device that inhibits such rash decision making.

Because you’ve now become a lighted stick of dynamite, why not start shortening the fuse?  It is just about a given that you will be out of coffee, milk or both.  Your car will need gas.  You will forget your keys or lock them in your car.  At least one – but probably all – of your children will contain more whine than a ton of grapes so that the mere sound of their breathing is like fingernails on a chalkboard.  You will have to go to a store to buy feminine hygiene products, which ensures that you will either (a) buy $347 worth of other items (about $340 of which are absolutely pointless) in a futile effort to mask your purchase of tampons or (b) find yourself in the checkout line of the youngest and best-looking checker while purchasing nothing but tampons.  There will be men waiting in line both in front of and behind you.  A price check will be needed.  You will start to fantasize that you are Medusa.  Nervous laughter will ensue.  Everyone will back away slowly.


By the time you get home, you’ll have ingested your weight in Advil and look like someone dragged you backward through a bramble bush.  You will take off your heels (What?  Heels go with yoga pants.), massage your sausage feet and trudge to the kitchen.  En route, you will step on a Lego brick/Lincoln Log/Chinese throwing star/rusty nail.  The pain signal will wind its way from your foot to that lesser-known neural center of your brain called batshitcrazyium.  You will unleash a rant on your child(ren) and spousal unit during which you unload every.  single.  thing.  they’ve ever done wrong (plus some stuff you know for sure they’re gonna do wrong someday but haven’t yet . . . or that you completely made up).  No one will be foolish enough to come near you without the requisite sacrificial offerings of gin, bacon or Xanax.  The smart ones will gather up their charred remains and decide that now would be an excellent time to visit the grandparents or least let you have control of the television remote.

You will watch Steel Magnolias, have a good, cathartic cry.  You will vent about this on Facebook to your girlfriends and marvel at how even women who spend only virtual time together end up on the same cycle.  You will ponder why it has yet to occur to the U.S. military that a troop of women with synchronized menstrual cycles and no access to ibuprofen might actually be the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.  Or, you know, you’ll write a blog post as a public service to people within your blast radius.

I made a mistake and then I fixed it.

I knew not long into practicing law that I made a career mistake. But, I felt trapped. My ego, my financial situation, my student loans, my expectations of myself, the expectations of others — all of these things made me feel as though I had no choice but to make a go of it. So, made a go of it I did for 12 years. Hell, I knew I hated being a lawyer when I started this blog, but all you have to do is read the title I chose – ProfMomEsq – or the “About Me” page to see how I nonetheless wrapped up law practice into my personal identity.

It probably isn’t worth it to rehash all the reasons why I don’t like law practice. There are too many reasons, and I’ve written about it before. I suppose some of the reasons apply to lawyers in general, but many apply only to me. The truth – which took me a very long time to realize – is that the reasons I hate being a lawyer are neither “right” nor “wrong.” They just are. So, ultimately, I had only a simple choice: did I want to be happy or unhappy? Pretty easy, right?

Yet, it took me 12 years — 12 YEARS — to find the strength not just to say I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore but to actually do something about it. You know what I did? I quit being a lawyer. Friday is my last day. I sent my goodbye email to my colleagues yesterday. I start an entirely new, non-lawyer job on Monday. And while I am a little nervous, I am mostly so thrilled that I feel as though I float down the hallways of the firm now, leaving a trail of pixie dust and the vague scent of warm chocolate chip cookies in my wake. I keep looking at myself in the mirror with this feeling of relief and surprise that – yep – I still exist even though I jettisoned the bar card.

As sunshine-y and rainbow-y as I am for myself, I can’t help but be sad for the lawyers I’ve talked to this week – colleagues, opposing counsel, clients – who remark about how jealous or envious they are of my decision to leave the profession or how brave I am to take this step. It wasn’t bravery that got me here. It was desperation. And, the envy is wasted energy. I want to tell each of them to spend that energy finding their passions. But, I know that the words are not enough. Like losing weight, quitting smoking or ending a bad relationship, leaving a career takes will power, and it is so hard to find the will. This is true even if your head understands that the change would be “good” for you, because we easily confuse “good” the feeling with “good” the outcome. Eating chocolate cake feels good. The rush of nicotine feels good. The momentary affection of someone you desperately want to love you feels good. But, that kind of “good” works some mischievous chemical voodoo on our brains and hearts that makes what is truly “good” (e.g, healthy) for us seem less desirable – to hell with logic and reason.

I had to get to the very edge of my sanity to understand this and – more importantly – to do something about it. So, while I listen to the stream of lawyers expressing envy or jealousy at my escape from the billable-hours grind, my heart aches for them. The answer is so simple it is literally unbelievable: do something else. But, we humans are so good at “justifying” where we are when we believe we are stuck. I won’t make as much money. I still have student loans. It will be better when I make partner. My clients need me. I don’t want to waste my degree. My family/friends/peers will think I’m a loser/quitter/weak/stupid.

What I learned (thanks to the happy coincidence of meeting a social worker who “got” me) is to stop evaluating my life choices as “right” or “wrong” and to start evaluating them as “healthy” or “unhealthy.”

Well, hey there, you know what’s not healthy? Spending more time doing a soul-sucking job that you absolutely hate than you do with the family and friends you love. It makes you a surprisingly unpleasant person. Paradoxically for me, it also made me put up with a lot of crap that I never in a million years would imagine tolerating.

Many folks I know are fond of the expression, “God gives you only what you can handle.” I don’t think that’s true. I have complicated feelings about God, but even when I’m open to the idea of a supreme being who has a plan for my life, I would have to believe that God grossly overestimates my threshold capacity for stress if he thinks I can “handle” the competing demands of law practice, raising two children, being a wife, addressing financial setbacks and learning/navigating the ins and outs of special education in a public school bureaucracy. Rather, I think God/life/karma/the universe deliberately presents us with events we can’t handle as a means of getting our attention and forcing us to make a decision. If I really bought into the God-gives-you-only-what-you-can-handle philosophy, I honestly believe I would be dead. I would’ve struggled mightily to continue to balance all those things, and I would’ve had a heart attack – a literal, chest-crushing heart attack. Instead, I saw it (eventually and after a lot of therapy) as a message: decide what is most important and focus on that.

My children are important to me. My husband is important to me. I am important to me. Being a lawyer is not important to me. I don’t view working as optional because of our family’s financial situation, but “needing” to work doesn’t mean I “need” to be a lawyer. And, funny enough, there are actually other (better) paying and more satisfying jobs out there!

So … what’s my point? Don’t waste your life doing what you think is “right,” when you can dedicate your life to doing what is healthy. Don’t confuse what feels good with what is good. Start small – plan every day to do just one thing that is healthy for you, and watch it snowball. Two months ago, I walked into an intensive outpatient therapy group for my panic disorder, and I stunned a room full of people dealing with abuse, addiction, disorders and depression into absolute silence when I told the story of my life. Five weeks later, I left that group hearing the applause of its members when I announced I had a new job and was on the path to a new career. That happened because every day I had to commit to doing something better, and every day I was held accountable for it by others until I was strong enough to hold myself accountable.

I know a lot of you reading this are balancing or juggling your own competing responsibilities, so I challenge you to find one thing – no matter how big or small – you will commit to doing today to help make your life better. Not your child’s life, not your spouse’s life, not you parent’s life — YOUR LIFE. Then, feel free to share it if you want some accountability.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, thinking up a new name for this blog. 🙂

Happy Birthday Sylvia Chauveneux, Love Cheryl Tiegs

Today is my little sister’s birthday.

Happy Birthday

I so wish we still had that crown somewhere. I’d make you wear it all day.

When I asked my sister what she wanted, she told me she wanted to be immortalized in a post on my blog. I was prepared to bake a cake, babysit my niece, maybe even buy some wine with an actual cork. I wasn’t prepared for this. This is a lot of pressure, man. This blog post can go only one of two ways: the feeling you get when you open the door and Ed McMahon is standing there with a shit-ton of balloons and a poster board check made out to you for an obscene amount of money, or the feeling you get when you open a gift of sexy lingerie from your weird aunt while your entire family is watching you and the room fills up with that awkward state between stunned silence and hysterical laughter when no one wants to be the first one to break.

I gotta say … I’m not really sure which one I’m going for here.

I have more than three decades of stories.  That’s an overwhelming amount of information to condense into a single blog post.  So, we’re going to do this photo-essay style.  I know, I know.  It’s kind of a cheap way out.  But, these pictures tell stories that my words cannot.

Look at that happy baby smile. I’m pretty sure my mouth is smiling here, but my mind is thinking, “Touch my toys, and I will eff you up, munchkin.”

My sister was mostly cool to have around.  I got a puppy out of the deal, so it wasn’t all bad.  Also, she was pretty entertaining.  She was born back in the days of televisions sets that had dials and rabbit-ear antennas, so it was her or Sesame Street.  I mostly picked her.  Unless Villa Alegre was on. Because ¡Villa Alegre!

Still, she was pretty cute, so she usually reeled me in.

Smile nice for the camera and keep quiet about my bangs. You’ll have the same ones soon enough, missy.

She was usually game for whatever I wanted to do. For example, if I wanted to play barber shop and I needed a model …

I warned you, didn’t I? Listen, I wasn’t the one who thought battery-powered Snoopy scissors were a good gift idea for a kid.

Or, if I wanted to play hours of kickball in Grandma and Grandpa’s backyard.

It grew back. Sort of.

Eventually we were like peanut butter & jelly, a Caramello and milk, an Egg McMuffin with a side of syrup …

Aaaaaaand … there you have it. Exact same bangs, right down to the part. I think you should definitely sport that yellow yarn necklace more often. It’s a true statement piece.

We shared a lot of adventures.  This photo is possibly emblematic of our respective roles in those adventures …

(I notice I have a vague choke-hold on you in a lot of our photos. Weird.  Also, Mom must’ve been REALLY bored, because these are the best Halloween costumes I think we ever had.)

I think this photo captures the boredom that gave birth to Sylvia and Cheryl. I’m pretty sure there are no two siblings on earth who made up better, more involved, more dramatic games than we did. It might be because we watched hours of General Hospital and The Edge of Night when no one was looking. Just a guess.

Oh really, Sylvia? Well, my mother is the PRESIDENT of the company, so we’ll just see about THAT! Ha, ha, ha, ha, Cheryl! My mother OWNS the company! (Also, let’s just marvel for a second at how small and somewhat tan we were …)

My sister frequently shared the misery of the unfortunate fashion choices of some of the adults in our lives who shall remained unnamed here but who know damn well who they are.  (Yes, MOM, I’m looking at YOU.)  I mean – really?  Someone should be punished for this. This photo likely captures the moment my sister birthed and subsequently mastered the face that says, “My mouth is smiling but my eyes are killing you with daggers. Stab. Stab. Stab.

What in the holy hell happened here? It’s like we got into a fist-fight with the remnants bin at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I can’t even …

Of course, turnabout isn’t just fair play in sisterhood, it’s a prerequisite to a lot of other stuff.  For example, if you cut off all your sister’s hair, you should expect her to wake you frequently at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday to play Barbies.  Or marbles.  Or to make her breakfast.  This can result in thrilling discoveries (e.g., brown sugar and cinnamon rolled up inside Bisquick dough is freakin’ awesome) or slightly less thrilling discoveries (e.g., napkins can, in fact, catch on fire).

This is only fair, I guess.

This photo says:  “Yay! Barbies! Marbles! I knew you’d see it my way!!!” (It also says, “I’m gonna take a Sharpie to your mother-effin’ Barbie coloring book, biotch.”)

The next time either of us thinks we’d look better with bangs, let’s please look at this photo.

Sisterhood also means putting up with a special brand of crazy core meltdown that occurs nowhere else in nature.  To the average person, this photo says, “Look at that sisterly love.”  To my sister and me it says, “I don’t care how much you hate your hair or your shirt or how fat you feel, get in the goddamned car and let’s go, or I’m telling everyone about that time I caught you picking your nose.”

It also says, “You better enjoy that sweater, you early-Christmas-present-opener-terrible-rewrapper-person.”

This photo says to the casual observer, “Awwww.  Sisterly love.” To my sister and me it says, “Thank god I didn’t let her pluck my eyebrows this time.”

Alright, seriously? Who would’ve predicted we’d grow up into this? 🙂

I jumped forward a whole lot of years – mostly because I need get some sleep before the next generation of 6:30 a.m.-get-up-and-let’s-play appears at my bedside and literally pries open my eyelids. (And people don’t believe in evolution. Pfft.) I think you get the general idea though.

Sylvia Chauveneux – The Next Generation. Except, her mother probably WILL own the company.

Happy Birthday, “Sylvia”


I leave you with this one final thought:

Love always, your sister “Cheryl”

A Holiday Greeting from ProfMomEsq

Wishing all of my wonderful readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa or just a plain, old terrifically awesome day.  I thought I’d celebrate by sharing a little art gallery of the holiday projects my marvelous kids have given me over the years.  Happy, merry, jolly!!

IMG_0351 IMG_0352 IMG_0354 IMG_0355 IMG_0356 IMG_0357 IMG_0358

We Seem to Have a Breakdown in Communication: Men, Women

I attended a professional function a little while ago that really irked me. I’m going to try to retell the events as objectively as I can, my remarks in bold are my subjective views that explain why I was so bothered.

The function was specifically for women.  The speaker was a “life coach” who was ostensibly there to talk to us about improving our ability to communicate with men.  The life coach opened her presentation by remarking that men and women have different styles of communication.  She also noted that communication is really only 10% the words we say; the remainder is body language and tonality.

So far, I’m with her.  I’m not sure I completely accept the premise that men and women communicate differently, but I’m willing to roll with that.  

The life coach then provides us a square divided into four smaller squares.  Each of the smaller squares describes a communication “style.”  Under each style is a description of the communication traits within the “style” and some data showing the percentage of people who identify with the particular style.  There is no breakdown of the data to show percentage by gender.  The data is also presented in a way that suggests that people must identify with one of the four choices – no shades of grey.

My radar is up.  I don’t deal well in absolutes.  As I’m reading the four styles, I immediately know that I fall somewhere between two of them but not entirely in any of them.  Also, to be fair, I’m irritated because the speaker has made an off-handed (and stereotypical) remark about autism. I’m already struggling to take her seriously.

We spend the next 50 or so minutes talking about the different communication styles in very, very general terms.  We talk about how certain styles have difficulty communicating with other styles.  Still, there is no discussion about how this impacts that woman-communicating-with-man thesis that opened this lecture. Then, the speaker says – and I’m not going to say this is a quote, but it’s a damn good paraphrase – that she doesn’t know a single woman who could spend a week talking about the Super Bowl, but men sure can.  She then asks the group of women assembled whether we know of such a woman.  When we sit there in silence, she takes that as affirmation of her generalization.

Now, I’m done.  I’m furiously texting a co-worker.  I’m watching the clock.  I am praying I don’t shoot my mouth off before …

The speaker opens the conversation up for questions.  She gets one or two obligatory softball questions, but then a couple of direct questions are asked, and the responses are less than direct.  The “sports” thing comes up again.

… too late.  

I raise my hand.  When I’m acknowledged, I say to the speaker that she started her presentation with the statement that men and women communicate differently, that up to this point, I hadn’t really heard anything in her presentation that specifically identified those differences.  In fact, I found myself troubled by the idea that we were sitting here talking about how all men can talk about is sports, and if the tables were turned, and I walked into a room full of men remarking how all women liked to talk about is shopping, I’d be pretty upset. So, I asked her whether she could provide information – either statistics or  facts – that would help us, as women, improve how we communicate with men in the context of her four boxes.

I don’t think she liked my question, because her face squeezed into what I know well as the fuck-off-and-die-smile.  I use it a lot in court. What the speaker did next, though, floored me.

The speaker responded to my question by saying a few things, but the one that stuck out for me was that women need to feel like they have the “right” to speak to communicate well.  So, I asked her how we, as women, develop that sense of entitlement.  She responded by smirking at me and saying, “It comes from experience.  And, I have that experience that, perhaps, a younger woman – in her 20s – doesn’t.”

Wow.  But, wait.  It gets better.

The speaker then starts talking about stress and how “neuroscientists” have determined that women live with a consistently higher degree of stress than men.  This causes, according to the speaker, women to balk at taking on additional responsibilities, because the woman doubts her ability to be successful.  Whereas, men jump at the chance to accept more responsibility, because the “challenge” brings their stress level up no higher than what’s tolerable.

A co-worker asks the speaker about the science behind this.  She explains that she had just recently spoken with her doctor about stress, and his feeling was that the level of stress a person experiences is not the product of extraneous forces but internal response, which varies from person to person regardless of gender.  My co-worker then said, “This isn’t me talking – I’m not smart enough to think this stuff up – this is a medical doctor.”  The speaker then says, “Ah.  You see what you just did there.  You said you weren’t smart.  I mean, I don’t want to single you out or embarrass you, but that’s the kind of self-deprication that women engage in that really hurts them.”

Oh. You mean like how women are catty bitches to one another in the workplace and often their own worst enemies?

Listen, I’m not a big fan of women-only events.  I feel like they serve only to highlight the gender differences that we (as women) assert are the cause of disparate treatment.  And, communication is inherently a two-way event.  How can you possibly hope to improve the way in which one group communicates with another unless you get both groups to the table?  But, even putting that aside, the speaker is a “life coach” who proceeded to give a talk based on gross generalizations, bald assumptions and even stereotypes when she KNEW she was speaking to a room full of women with nothing less than professional degrees.

What are your thoughts, readers?  Where do you come out on women-only events?  Are they useful?  Have any of you ever used a “life coach” with any success?  Is this a “real” profession?  Why do you think women tend to be so competitive with each other?  Or, do you think that?  The whole experience left me with way more questions than answers and a very uneasy feeling in my gut …

Yeah. Good Times.: A recipe for the perfect cup of coffee

I have been writing things lately that are decidedly unfunny.  Most of them have been work-related, but some have been blog-related.  (No, I did NOT forget I had a blog, thankyouverymuch.)  But, I wrote a note to some friends the other day, after waking up from a lit – tle hangover, and the consensus was it was blog-post worthy.  My wonderful, awesome, fantastic, marvelous, kick-ass, partner-in-crime friend Jillsmo over at Yeah. Good Times. thought it would be doubly-good to illustrate my blog posts.  So, without further ado:

Yeah. Good Times.: A recipe for the perfect cup of coffee.

Trust me.  You WANT to click the link.  You NEED to click the link. Click it.

I remember.

There are moments in our lives we never forget. For many of us, the moments are joyful and cause to celebrate — the birth of a child, a graduation, a wedding.

But, so many generations have an unforgettable moment marked by tragedy. As I grew up, the tragic moment of my parents’ generation was remembered with this question: Where were you when you heard about JFK’s assassination? Although this terrible saga in American history occurred before I was born, the emotional weight of it is apparent in every ready answer from among those who lived through the tragedy. It was an event so shocking – so calculated to strike at our emotional foundations – that no one could forget where they’d been when they heard the news; a moment so cold it burned itself into our collective memories.

On September 11, 2001, a new question was presented to my generation: “Where were you when …?” The words that followed “when” were too many and too painful – when the first plane struck the World Trade Center, when the Pentagon was hit, when United 93 went down, when the first tower fell and then the second. Ask me to recall what I did last Monday, and I could give only scant details. Yet still today, I can recall even the smallest details of how my day unfolded on September 11, 2001. And, my heartache was limited to the loss of a naive sense of safety. I cannot begin to imagine what this day recalls for the hearts and minds of those who lost much, much more that day.

To those who lost their lives in this tragedy, and to their families, friends and loved ones; to those who volunteered their lives in service to this country in the aftermath of 9/11, and to their families, friends and loved ones —

I remember.

We remember

Photo credit: Getty Images

Random List of Stuff I Love #2

It’s that time again, chicklets:  the next installment of Random Stuff I Love.  (If you missed the first installment, you can read it here.)  The first time I did a list, it was haphazard, and my only rule was that my list include things I love, not people, so no hurt feelings.  But, I’ve decided I need at least a little rhyme and reason to these posts.  So, henceforth, Random Stuff I Love will include:

  • A book
  • A movie or TV show
  • A game
  • A song
  • A recipe
  • A website
  • A restaurant
  • A quote
  • A blog
  • Something completely random and possibly repetitive of one the above, but this is my blog, and I make the rules.  Plus, I  couldn’t really come up with a tenth thing.  If you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments for me.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
The Book
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume.  
Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great by Judy Blume
I read this book so many times, the cover actually fell off.  I tried to put the book back together with a glue stick.  It didn’t work out very well, and I gave it a proper funeral when I buried in the garbage can.  
Basically, Sheila was me; I don’t remember otherwise relating so strongly to a character in a book – then or now – except maybe to Meg in a Wrinkle in Time.  Sheila seemed very confident on the outside, but she was terrified of a lot of stuff on the inside.  We were both afraid of the dark and of spiders and of ghosts.  Sheila was afraid of other stuff, too, including swimming.  There’s a wrenching scene in the book about “slam books.”  If you’re old enough to remember what those are, you can imagine how it went.  Thinking back now, this is actually a good book through which to teach kids about bullying.
The Movie or TV Show
Although the oath was cut from the film, this pretty much sums up the tone of the movie:
I will never betray my goon dock friends / We will stick together until the whole world ends / Through heaven and hell, and nuclear war / Good pals like us, will stick like tar / In the city, or the country, or the forest, or the boonies / I am proudly declared a fellow Goony.
This movie had everything.  Good dialogue.  A great story.  A bit scary, a lot funny, just the right amount of sweet, plausible fantasy.  It somehow captured everything that was being a kid – the fun, the disappointment, the isolation, the love.  I’m totally watching this tomorrow with Nate.  😉  If you loved this movie, visiting the IMDb page is absolutely worth a visit for the trivia and memorable quotes.  Somebody get me a Baby Ruth.
The Game
I love board and card games.  I think I have a gene for this that I inherited from both sides of my family, because I recall learning to play games like Othello, Monopoly, checkers, Uno, poker, Yahtzee and such at a pretty young age.  My sister and I definitely played a fair number of hours of War, Slap Jack, Old Maid and Go Fish.  When my husband and I started dating, we would meet in coffee shops and play Trivial Pursuit.  When I had one win to his 14, I wanted to simultaneously punch and marry him.
One game we discovered along the way is Acquire.  (Thanks to my surrogate dad for this one!)  The idea is very simple, but the strategy is wonderfully complex and varied.  You draw tiles to play on a grid.  When you can play two adjacent tiles, you form a corporation.  Once a corporation forms, you can purchase shares of its stock.  At any time, as many as seven corporations on the board, but you can purchase only three shares of stock on any turn.  You can also “merge” corporations (unless they get too big) – sometimes at a good profit.  The goal is to be the player with the most money at the end of the game.
One of the things I most love about this game is that we can play it with the kids.  Nate started playing it with us when he was about 9 or 10.  My niece was over a few weekends ago, and not only did she play with the Hubs and me, she beat us — by a freaking mile!  And it wasn’t because the Hubs and I weren’t trying — you will not meet two people more competitive in the game department.  In fact, I’m pretty sure the Hubs sulked for about 20 minutes after we played, because he came in last place.  My niece’s polite but uncontainable excitement at whooping his ass was delicious.  For me.
The Song
Everest, Let Go.
I discovered this show watching baseball.  It was played in – of all things – a beer commercial.  I’m so glad this band got some publicity, but dudes, you are better than beer commercials.
The Recipe
A couple of weeks ago, I was preparing Helene’s breakfast, which included pureed apricots.  I got some on my finger and licked it off.  The flavor startled me, because it was really good.  I had forgotten liking apricots quite that much.  I licked the entire inside of the container of pureed apricots, then I added them to my grocery shopping list.  Before I set out for the store, I decided that whatever we were having for dinner that night was going to have apricots in it.  Thus, I stumbled across the recipe link above.  I followed the recipe exactly except for the capers, which I don’t necessarily dislike, but I’ve never really understood either.  What, exactly, do they add to a dish.  Anyway, both the Hubs and I really enjoyed the results, and I thought it was a relatively quick, easy and neat (as in not too messy) meal.
The Website

This is a Tumblr by October Jones built around images of text messages between October and the bulldog “Batdog.”  If you are not already reading this, why?  WHY?  It does not matter how bad your day has been, you WILL laugh.  So much laughing.  Here’s my favorite:


The Restaurant

Cupkates Bakery

Fine.  It’s not really a restaurant.  When you read what it is, you will forgive me for this technical hiccup.

Cupkates is the brilliant idea I wish I had.  Kate bakes the best cupcakes you’ve ever had in your life, frosts them with frosting that is better than sex, then packs them into a food truck and peddles them in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco.  I seriously follow her on Twitter (@CupkatesTruck) so I know where the truck will be and when.  Why?  Because if you don’t get in line before the Cupkates Truck gets there, you may not get to the window of the truck before the “SOLD OUT” sign goes up.

Who the hell waits in a 45-minute long line for a cupcake?  Me, that’s who.  Why?  Three words:  Red. Velvet. Cake.  Listen, I am a red velvet cake snob to the point where I’m pretty sure I was a Southern Belle in one of my previous incarnations.  If not made properly, red velvet cake can have a very greasy and almost gummy texture, which takes it from fucking amazing to fucking disgusting in no time.  You will NOT have this problem at Cupkates.  Ever.  She is a Zen master of the red velvet to say nothing of the edible-wonder that is her cream cheese frosting.  And I don’t even really like frosting.

Other honorable mentions:

  • S’mores cupcake:  graham-cracker-bottomed chocolate cupcake with burnt marshmallow frosting
  • Guinness cupcake:  chocolate + Guinness beer.  Need I say more?
  • Twinkie cupcake:  Oh, yes.  But she doesn’t bust this one out very often.
The Blog

I found Lizbeth’s blog the way I find all my good spectrum parenting blogs:  Jim (of Just a Lil Blog) or Jill (of Yeah. Good Times.)  Lizbeth (who I’m sure won’t mind me talking about her like we’re friends even though we’ve never met!) is mom to three kids and has a sense of humor that is not only admirable but will give you great abs in 6 – 8 weeks, whether you have kids on the spectrum or not.  My introduction to Four Sea Stars was via this post about Lizbeth’s kids going to sword camp.  Yes.  You read that right.  Now, go read her fabulous blog.
The Quote
“Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” — Benjamin Franklin
One combination of words that drives me particularly nutty is “I’m sorry, but …”  Whatever follows “but,” is a statement of qualification that completely obliterates any sincerity in the apology.  If you are truly remorseful about something, you say only, “I am sorry.”  If the silence that hangs in the air after you’ve finished speaking that sentence is uncomfortable, tough. Soak that in that for a few seconds, which is probably less unpleasant than whatever you apologized for and a small price to pay.  And for the love of all that is holy and chocolate cake, NEVER EVER EVER EVER utter the phrase, “I’m sorry, too” when receiving an apology unless you actually fucking mean to apologize for something and not just ladle on more guilt.  You don’t have to accept an apology if you’re not ready to do so, but you can at least be grateful you got one.  (I will explain this rant again some other day – this is supposed to be a post about stuff I love …)
The Random

Zen Pencils is the brainchild of Gavin Aung Than, a freelance illustrator from Melbourne, Australia.  He takes inspirational quotes from famous people and adapts them are into cartoons. His website launched in February, 2012, so it’s a new venture, and I hope it is wildly successful, because his work is fantastic.  What’s better, some of it is for sale!  Here’s my favorite:

Brief but Magnificent Opportunities

If you like Zen Pencils, check out its Facebook page.  You can submit quotes you’d like to see illustrated.  Finally, if you need more motivation, Gavin donates some of his profits to various charitable organizations associated with the person whose quote he illustrates.  The whole concept is just downright cool.

Happy Fifth Birthday, Helene! A Love Story.

Tomorrow, Helene turns five years old.  It seems impossible that five years passed in the blink of an eye.  Tomorrow, we will hug and kiss her a ridiculous number of times, let her sing her own birthday song (because THAT’s the way she rolls), help her blow out candles, let her stuff herself with frosting, and try to convince her that she’s now “Helene FIVE Years Old” instead of “Helene FOUR Years Old.”

Today, though, I thought I’d relive those fleeting moments and celebrate publicly the little girl who challenges me, inspires me, moves me, surprises me, humors me, snuggles me and lets me love her like a fool.


Hey, little Leni Lou-Lou:

Happy Birthday.  Mama wrote you a little story.  Pull right up here with your frenchfrieschickensapplesmilk and let’s read it together.

Your Birth Day

Fresh from the oven. 🙂

You came screaming in – all 8 pounds and 4 ounces of you.  Your left ear was so smashed against your head, I thought for a moment you had only an ear hole – no lobe.  I find your tiny earlobe tucked under that odd-looking beanie they’d placed on your head and laughed, because the morphine wouldn’t let me cry with relief.  The nurse then whisked you and Papa away.  My body was so numb that – at one point – the doctor held my legs up in the air so that I could see them over the drape blocking the view of my belly.  I thought, That’s odd.  I wonder whose legs those are?

The first year of your life went by in a whirlwind.  You grew like a weed.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to get you to smile, because you did it SO WELL!  But, what you really liked more than smiling was showing off your drool-y little tongue.

Here’s what I think of you and your damn camera in my face all the time

Your First Birthday

You had cake for the first time on your first birthday.  You had no idea what it was, but that did NOT stop you.

All the cake.  ALL THE CAKE!

Holy crap! What IS this stuff. And WHY have you been holding out on me? WHY!

We had such a good time watching you demolish that cake, we let you do it again the next day.

Cake?  Again?  How did I make THAT happen?

Ooooohhhhh, so much cake. So good. Wait. Does this mean I have to have a bath? Again? TWO DAYS IN A ROW?!

During your first year, you also discovered the joys of coffee.


This stuff is MARVELOUS. It’s called a “mocha,” you say? NIIIICCCEEE. By the way, I WILL NOT be sleeping tonight, so you people better be ready to PAR-TAY!

Your Second Birthday

By your second birthday, Mama got a little ambitious in the baking department.

No, I don’t know why she’s sprouting balloon candles out the side of her face either, Len. I’m sure your future therapist will explain.

You also got your first set of pigtails.

The Terrible Two

There’s gonna be cake, right? There’s always cake when we go places with too many people in the room. BRING THE CAKE!

Your love of cake matched only your hatred for the dentist.

Sure you're a dentist.  Sure.

You’re not getting in my face with that thing. No way. No how. Nothin’ doin’. Nope. Nada. Nein. Nyet. NEVER.

Your Third Birthday

You celebrated your third birthday with your favorite preschool friends.  This was the year Mommy discovered that it’s not really about the cake for you at all.  It’s about the FROSTING.  Consequently, this is the only picture from that party in which you can actually see your face before it was the exact colors as your dress.

I see those cupcakes. Bring them HERE!

Judging by the Christmas tree in the background, I have no reasonable explanation for why you’re eating a cupcake.  With your nose.

When I said ALL the cake, I meant it!

I swear I do feed this child non-cake food items.

Lots of changes happened between three and four.  You got to come to work with me for a while.  But, then Mommy moved her office back home.  You helped.  I did not have to move a box of Wheat Thins.  So nice of you.

Sometimes, it's good to think inside a box.

Gosh, Mom. Packing your office is EXHAUSTING. I need a snack. Can you carry me to the car, please?

You started really testing Papa’s parenting skills.  Mama went away for a conference, but you were really cooperative for Papa with your bath.  You even helped him do laundry!

Bathtub FAIL

Papa, you said, “Let’s take a bath,” so I got in the bath. I’m a good listener.

You developed a magical talent for napping in whatever position you landed.  I also truly envy your ability to wear horizontal stripes.  Not many people can pull that off, Helene.

I don't need no stinking bed.  Beds are for sissies.

What? I was tired okay? This is more comfortable than it looks.

Your Fourth Birthday

By your fourth birthday, you were not big on the parties, just frosting.  Still, Mama couldn’t help herself.

Take THAT Martha Stewart

Someday, Len, I hope you stop being mad at me that this wasn’t *really* ice cream.


You gave ME a present on your 4th birthday. You actually let me comb and braid your hair for the very first time. You looked like such a big girl.

And, you started developing a style all your own.

Super Fresh

You don’t want none of this, yo. My fedora has SUPER powers. Now get a move on with that Jamba Juice, dude. Baby needs her Orange A’Peel!

And now, here you are — less than a day away from five years old.  Another day deeper in my heart.

Happy Birthday, Helene.


So, I Got Some Strange News Today …

The news has been a little bizarre lately.  Oh, wait.  You thought I was going to share some kind of personal weirdness that happened to me, didn’t you? Awesome!  That means I’m getting much better at writing misleading headlines, making my blog thisclose to actual journalism.

Listen, you’re already here, so you may as well stick it out.  You will feel better about yourself (although it may also [further] diminish your faith in humanity), so maybe grab some tea, or a lasagna, or a sugar-free, grape-flavored Popsicle.  Whatever you like.

Suicidal Cats – Who Knew?

Last October, Turkey experienced a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, which caused significant destruction.  That was not funny.  It was very much the opposite of funny.


A Turkey professor (as opposed to a professor who is a turkey – maybe) reports an increase in “suicide” attempts by felines living in the earthquake-ravaged area.  So that we are clear, there is a scholar, with a degree, studying whether cats knowingly decide to end their lives.  The good professor hypothesizes that the cats are THROWING themselves from fatal heights.  He kinda doesn’t say why.

Well, sir, I’m no professor, but I … uh …  Wait.  I AM A PROFESSOR. And, I totally disagree with your hypothesis.

I will be the first to admit that cats don’t do a damn thing unless they WANT to do it.  So, I suppose it’s not entirely unreasonable to assume that a cat leaping from a fatal height to the ground is a deliberate act.  But, deliberately seeking death?  No way.  That just does not stand up to closer academic scrutiny, kind sir.

First, most cats are ninjas.

Also, kitty-cide is just a bitch of an undertaking.  Frankly, unless the cat is REALLY effing depressed, it’s just not with the effort.  I read The Warriors.  Cats HAVE nine lives.  So, a cat has to kill itself not just once but nine timesNINE TIMES!!!!

I think the better hypothesis is that some cats have better ninja skills than others.  I have only anecdotal evidence to support this hypothesis, based upon my co-habitation with a small feline for many years:  Nibby.

This isn’t actually Nibby, but it’s her doppleganger. The Nibby pics are on the other computer, which I’m pretty sure now does nothing but play Diablo III?

I know it’s not nice to speak ill of those who’ve passed, so I’m sorry little Nibblet.  You know I loved you.  But, I’m gonna do it anyway, and you probably already knew that, too.

Nibby was – sadly – no ninja. She drank from the toilet and for the life of her couldn’t figure out how to use a cat door, even after the raccoons showed her.   And, yes her nickname might’ve been Deathbreath.  Often, Nibby jumped for the bed and missed, Nibby jumped for the couch and missed, or Nibby jumped from the AC unit to the fence and missed.  And those were all UPWARD jumps.  We won’t even talk about the DOWNWARD jumps from places that no cat with some marbles in her little kitty skull would ever attempt.  She was also about as stealthy as a herd of elephants being chased by a pack of hungry lions.

But, see, there was always something Nibby WANTED in her intended landing spot.  She didn’t just go randomly flinging herself off of balconies.  Because, as I mentioned above, cats don’t do ANYTHING unless it’s for a REASON.  Such reasons include food, water, food, affection, food, napping, food, bathroom, food, bird/mouse/spider/laser beam stalking and food.  The reasons just do not include death.  Check it.  All scientific-like.

Mmmmm.  Tastes Like Ketchup.  And Astroglide.

Do NOT … I repeat DO NOT Google “ketchup and Astroglide.” You will wish that “brain bleach” was not just an expression.

I have no good segue from cats to ketchup.  (I’m sorry, Amy.  I’m just not Charlie Segue.  But, I’m trying.  Really.)  Well, I probably could come up with something, but it’d be gross.  Grosser than that picture up there.  Plus, I asked you to eat something at the beginning of this post, so that wouldn’t be very nice.  Actually, I’m a sympathy-puker, making it blow chunks for us both.

Let’s get to it then, shall we?

Remember this?

If you don’t, you just keep your youthful mouth shut when you’re talking to me!  Otherwise, I say:  The wait is O.V.E.R.  The remedy for your condiment impatience was discovered by some enterprising young students at MIT.  (Figures.  Kids these days don’t wait for ANYTHING!)

The discovery, called LiquiGlide, is “… rigid like a solid, but it’s lubricated like a liquid.”  It allows ketchup or other condiments to slide right out of tight spaces.

Please, let the double entendres begin.  (Cue my husband, who might be the master of all things double entendre, which – when coupled with my crappy hearing – makes for some interesting conversations. [It’s true.  Ask him about the time I mis-under-heard “Buckhorn.”  Just don’t have eaten within 30 minutes.]  Also a special shout-out to Jim, who unwittingly facilitated an entire evening of conversation in double entendre with this “Shocking!” post.  Jim, you should’ve told her it meant “two in the clam, one in the SHAZAAM!” and THEN sent her to Chris’s office. I expect you to bring some game in the comments.  Just sayin’.)

Never You Mind About the Ketchup, Give Me My Fries and No One Gets Hurt.

Alright.  You know what?  Forget ketchup.  It’s very messy.  Let’s just get right to another salty subject:   french fries.

A Florida man was arrested yesterday after cutting the drive-through line at a local McDonald’s — at gunpoint.  Hey!  No cuts, no buts, no coconuts!

I guess sometimes you just CANNOT wait for french fries, people.  If you’ve ever gone for drive-thru food at 2:00 a.m. drunk or stoned, you’d understand this.  Apparently.  I wouldn’t really know.  It’s just what I’ve heard.

The police say the line-jumper had a very real gun, which is what it would take to keep me from cup-checking him for taking cuts, especially if the french fries just came out of the magical fryer thingy.

This next guy, though?  He’s gettin’ corn-dogged for sure.  Kitty ninja style.

Super Soak This Bitches!

Image credit:

A California man recently was arrested for carrying a converted “Super Soaker” water gun.  The man altered the toy into a weapon purportedly capable of firing a 20-gauge shotgun shell.

A local gun shop employee told the TV station such a modification could be made for as cheap as $30, but would be about as safe for its handler as ‘putting a hand grenade next to your head.’

Next time, man, just go for the Nerf N-STRIKE Rayven CS-18.  It has killer range, is semi-automatic and glows in the dark!  You won’t even shoot your eye out!

I Shall RULE the World.  And the World Shall Be Made of LEGO Bricks!!!!

If you’re gonna play with toys, go big or … go to the big house.

A Silicon Valley executive was arrested recently for stealing Lego sets from stores such as Target.  Yes, that’s right.  An employed adult with a college education and a likely six-figure income went to a discount chain store and stole TOYS.  For HIMSELF.  Sort of.

(Oh, and FYI, there is no such thing as “Legos.”  The proper plural is Lego bricks. Got it?! Because Lego people get very pissy about this.)

Listen, I don’t know exactly what this Lego-stealing guy’s annual income was, but his “$2 million San Carlos” home was searched, and he is (or was) a Vice President at SAP.  So, it’s reasonable to infer that the guy could afford to pay full retail for Lego sets.  Even a LOT of Lego sets.  Okay, maybe not as many as you need to build an actual house with a working bathroom.

Like this.  It’s a real thing.  For realsies.

But, oh no.  He wasn’t trying to shelter his family.  He was reselling the Lego sets.  On eBay.  For a profit.  Dude used his software programming expertise to create bar code tags that he affixed to Lego sets, allowing him to “purchase” the bricks on the cheap.  Over the course of a year, he made about a $30,000 profit reselling. His mom must be so proud.

Now, as stupid as this whole scheme was (I can think of about ten different ways he could’ve avoided getting caught, starting with keeping that shit off eBay), this genius picked the worst store from which to steal stuff:  Target.  According to the linked article,

In the past few years, the retailer has taken a lead role in teaching government agencies how to fight crime by applying state-of-the-art technology used in its 1,400 stores. Target’s effort has touched local, state, federal and international agencies.

Besides running its forensics lab in Minneapolis, Target has helped coordinate national undercover investigations and worked with customs agencies on ways to make sure imported cargo is coming from reputable sources or hasn’t been tampered with. It has contributed money for prosecutor positions to combat repeat criminals, provided local police with remote-controlled video surveillance systems, and linked police and business radio systems to beef up neighborhood foot patrols in parts of several major cities. It has given management training to FBI and police leaders, and linked city, county and state databases to keep track of repeat offenders.

So, children, the lessons learned?  Don’t steal from Target, because it probably knows where you are right now anyway.  (Don’t believe me.  Read this.  Then you will.)  And, if you grow up to be a Silicon Valley executive, stick to crimes you know.  Like back-dating stock options.

Good Evening, Officer.  Please Meet My Kids, Zebra and Parrot.

This one might be worth it for the mug shot alone.  An Iowa man recently arrested for driving under the influence blamed the incident on the baby zebra and the parrot police found in his vehicle.  The driver referred to the parrot and zebra as his “kids.”  He tried taking the zebra and parrot into the bar with him for a cocktail or two, but the man was turned away because the bar served food and – therefore – didn’t allow animals.  So, he went in, left the “kids” in the car, tossed back a few, then headed home.

Do I really need to say anything else about this?

Truly, No One Pays Attention to You at Work

This report might be my favorite.  I’ve joked for years that it would take months for anyone at work to notice I was gone if I just stopped coming to work.  Apparently, it’s not that funny, because I’ve been out of the office on a leave of absence for the past six weeks and there were, in fact, people who did not notice.

Much to my relief, I am not alone.  According to the linked report from the U.K.’s Telegraph, a 19-year-old “worked” at AOL for TWO MONTHS before he was discovered.  And by “worked” I mean he lived there.  All the time.  Every day.

Most people thought the kid was just a really hard worker, admiring his first-to-work, last-to-leave dedication.  Our hero was not a complete freeloader.  He used his office at AOL to work on his own start-up company – software that would enable teachers to share lesson plans.  (Take note, Secretary Duncan — this is what it’s come to.  People “stealing” office space to create stuff that teachers can actually use to educate students.  Imagine.)

Alas, he was found out – not by an executive or human resources staffer – but by a security guard who caught the freshly minted high-school graduate sleeping on a sofa.  The article ends with this great quote from an AOL spokesperson:

It was always our intention to facilitate entrepreneurialism in the Palo Alto office – we just didn’t expect it to work so well.

This is all the weirdness I can handle for today.  Until next time, please do not feed your ninja kitties ketchup.  We don’t want them sliding off the balcony and panicking Turkish professors.  And, remember, guns are not toys, toys are for kids, and Target will know you’re pregnant before you do.

Sleep well!