Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nutty or Nice?

I am fighting the symptoms of Dunlop Disease - my stomach has dun lopped over my pants. In the true spirit of Christmas, I'm giving...giving myself a break and enjoying the muffin top for a few weeks.

Who needs to be more wound up than usual right now with all the purchasing, festivities, deadlines, and errands? I call it Stressmas. It seems that as soon as December hits, people pull nutters, the freak-out moments beyond their normal behavior. I was in a store looking for some holiday glitz, reached to grab a BCBG mini-dress with sequin accents, and was aggressively challenged for "try-on status" by a snooty fancy-pants lady. Nutter! I smacked her down and bought the dress which turned out to be fortuitous. There it is at my birthday dinner where I met my fav Top Chef Bryan Voltaggio at Volt. >>>>>>

The best way to beat the holiday nutties is to invite joy. We asked an elf to visit our home. The Elf on the Shelf is on the bestseller list and at $30 for a stuffed elf and a book, I thought, "give me a break." http://www.elfontheshelf.com/#/home However, our elf Ziggy is worth EVERY penny. Each night Ziggy hides in a new place and the kiddies wake up to discover if he is in a plant or riding on a reindeer. It is like the surprise of Christmas morning all month. I'm ready for Ziggy to do naughty things like put undies on the Christmas tree or TP someone's bedroom. The storybook says the elf can not be touched but you can talk to him, and Gigi is constantly telling Ziggy about her day. His job is to watch the behavior in the house and report back to Santa. While Ziggy is watching their behavior, I am also trying to watch mine so that I don't end up on the Nutty list.

P.S. By the way, I've never had so many birthday wishes (thank you!) and my 35th birthday was simply perfect - breakfast and cards with DD & G, Facial at Red Door, Sombrero lunch at Guapos with Deb, flowers from Dan my man, and the amazing dinner with Brooks & Pete.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mother Pluckers

Sarah Josepha Hale in 1837 created a letter writing campaign that caught the attention of Abraham Lincoln who endorsed the idea of Thanksgiving in 1863. Do you think that way back then people had family fatigue? Imagine Uncle Henry to his brother Samuel, "Do we always have to hunt for the bird on your farm?" Sister Sarah to sister Mary, "I just wish mother wasn't so picky about how to pluck this damn turkey!"

No one can handle being around someone for more than a few days without feeling cooped up. The best way to overcome that woozy feeling you get when you spent too much quality time with relatives is to get out and do something. We went to a nature preserve where I learned that a Watusi is a type of cattle, not a dance from the 60's. We met a zebra who was rescued after being found in a car crash on an Atlanta highway. Sounds like a movie, huh?! Then, a turkey got all huffy with me while taking his picture and went on the attack! Those birds hate the paparazzi right now and we watusied out of there.

It is important to dance around family issues during these "special times." Wait until everyone is apart and you can talk behind each others back again. I'm just kidding but one sure way to end a party is to blurt out, "You always seem to be busy when I come to town." Rather, do what the best of the best Southerners do - put on a nice smile and be grateful for what you get. The people in the South are more gracious than anywhere else in the country. It must have something to do with the fact that they are super grateful that hoop skirts left with the fires of the civil war.

If you still feel hassled by the holiday, here's something that you can do to make a difference. Like Sarah Josepha Hale in 1837, let's start our own letter writing campaign to those mother pluckers who are telling people not to get mammograms. I live in DC and would love to personally hand-deliver a mini-van load of letters to The Senate HELP Committee. http://help.senate.gov/ Pass this note around to your friends and family. Write a letter and send an email to cyndy@goodjobproductions.com with the result to catch some attention.

P.S. I am thankful for my family! Here I come mom to help you prepare the feast. XOXOXO!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Making Whoopie


Enjoy your pumpkin pie while you can. Mother Nature is ruining pumpkin patches in the Midwest. Because of heavy rains, Nestle, which controls 85% of the pumpkin crop for canning, issued an apology for not shipping the holiday staple. They are chunkin' pumpkins to use as fertilizer for next year's harvest.

On a positive note, there is a whole
new crop of nail polish colors, just in time to get lacquered up for the holidays. I am intrigued by the festively named, "It's Coal Outside" and the Rockettes "Legs Celebrate." There should be colors to represent Thanksgiving. How about Burnt Autumn Red, Plymouth Rock, May Flower, Going Native?

After your manicure, go out and get a can of pumpkin puree while supplies last. Be thankful that long ago the Native Americans gave Plymouth settlers these gourds that they thought tasted so nasty, they covered them with molasses. The first American recipe for our traditional style pie was published in 1796...American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons. If you are feeling racy and want to try something different, make whoopie, pumpkin pie style. Click on the arrow below to see Gigi workin' her kitchen skirt.

video
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies - click on arrow

If you want the recipe, let me know and I'll email it to you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Suburban Suck

That thing really sucks, I thought as we watched the leaf vacuum getting rid of Autumn's presents. Only in the burbs would you see those trucks. They are loud and I feel like I'm back in New York City at garbage pickup time.

Suburban sucky experiences also happen at the big chain stores. I've already covered Target (see blog entry "Get Your Head Examined). Costco is another one on the list and we have renamed it "Fiasco." One of our first outings after moving to this community was to join the club. We waited for an hour to get our membership card with crying, feisty children, and left to never return. Ok, ok, I get the advantages - the good prices, quantity of food, and carrot cake. But we don't have a freezer or the patience. At least we didn't get accused of shoplifting during self checkout, like a Chicago couple at the other giant mega-store, Walmart. They've been banned and they didn't do anything wrong! That would really suck.
http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/11/09/walmart-levies-lifetime-ban-against-gay-couple/2

There is a draw in the outskirts - the great schools, the backyards, the spacious houses. There's also the cardio dance class taught by Mommie Bootie Camp Queen, Kristine Oleson, that helps me channel my inner Britney. http://www.healthcoachllc.net/ The get-togethers for dinners and drinks shake up the routine. The Boovie Girls in the book/movie club are rockin'...we just saw Michael Jackson's This Is It. http://www.thisisit-movie.com/ But the most important aspect about living anywhere are your friends, whether they are city or suburban sirens who've sucked you in to amazing friendships. As MJ would say, "With love, L-O-V-E."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Daylight Stupid Time

Fall behind should be known as "Fall on Your Behind" because the time change causes a state of national jet lag. Even though no one I know was on a 16 hour flight to Asia, people are grogged out. Calls are not being returned. Bills are not being paid. Kids wake up an hour earlier than the clock indicates. Hell, I hear on the farms, even the roosters keep crowing when the sun comes up. Who and why do we play with the hands of time?

It's an idea that dates all the way back to Benjamin Franklin. Living in Paris in 1784, he wrote an essay suggesting that moving the hour of sunlight from the morning (when Parisians were sleeping anyway) to the evening could save thousands of candles. That energy saving idea was translated hundreds of years later during war time in order for the morning sun to light the factories. Congress eventually came on board, creating a standard time zone for the railroad industry and signed it into law in 1918. I
always thought it was created for agriculturists who need the extra sunlight but evidently, the farmers still have to milk Rosebud at the same time each morning.

Daylight Stupid Time is about saving energy, especially during the summer months. We trim the entire country's electricity usage by one percent each day.*
However, what we save during the dark months of Winter is negligible and the lack of light makes me SAD (that's seasonal affected disorder). I took the kids today for an H1N1 flu shot and noticed as we waited outside in the cold, it was dark by 5:00p.

The universal clock is out of whack. Traffic has been horrible in DC this week with ten minute car trips taking an hour. A friend of mine showed up for her parent/teacher conference but it is scheduled to take place a week later. I put the wrong date on an evite invitation to a December party. Imagine if people showed up on both days! I feel so out of sync, we're having breakfast for dinner tonight...I just don't have the ENERGY.

* http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/ DOT study



Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pong


Isn't it weird when something from your past whizzes back into your life like a motorcade?! It stops you in your tracks and makes you take notice. The president came through Kensington this week, causing much ado with flags a flying and SUV's a trailing. Our fab Delegate Al Carr captured the moment. The traffic diversions gave me an opportunity to ponder my week.

Several random things transported me back in time, like Kate Gosselin. I wrote about her in my second blog post back in June titled, "Hair-Brained Honking." It poses the question, "Does short hair make you bitchy?" Little did I know that I would be this crazy character at a Halloween party. My friend Deborah knows that I love a wig and she gave me this spiked hairdude. Check out the tummy tuck scar. Dan was "Jon," complete with hair-plugs and Ed Hardy t-shirt. Notice the name tag, "I'm Jon. Want to date?" However, the better costumes were Amy Whinehouse and Balloon Boy.

Another party we hit time-traveled us back to college days. We sported Greek letters and headed for our friends Kristine and Nate's Frat Party. As one entered the "house," the hand was stamped, jello shots were offered, and you were ushered to the beer pong competition. Beer Pong...it was even on the nightly news this week about how it is very dangerous to play, considering all the germs with H1N1 and all. I didn't play it, Dan didn't play it, but he got something that reeks of the flu. Gigi has been fighting a 103 fever all week and our house has the lovely perfume of Lysol. Hence the reason why I am writing later than normal this week.

David Dean and I needed to speed away from the coughing cloud, and even though there's no pong, Chuckie Cheese seemed like it would provide some fun and games. It perplexed me that, for the second time within days, my hand was stamped. Gotta love the "kid check" system that ensures you leave with the child you brought in. David and I attacked that place like VIPs. There was a "teachable moment" when I showed David how to play pinball. Things got a little out of hand with the driving videos - I wondered when the Secret Service of that establishment was going to kick me out for yelling "get out of my way mo-fo" as I drove over pilings and crashed into the perpetrator my car was chasing. It's yet another example of why I will not ever drive in a governmental motorcade OR win Mom-of-the Year. I did, however, make sure we washed our hands when we left.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stars Upon Thars










Something happens in a suburban town

That makes you freak out when the widgets and whatnots
Start to break down.

You're stuck in a whirlywig grind.
You get all crazy when a broken garbage disposal
Leaves you in a bind.

The hood has a frenetic hullabaloo.
With demands of children and errands to run,
Hours are too few.

A meeting with your self needs to be had.
The world has greater causes, issues, and missions
To make you glad.

Last Sunday, the issue was about equal rights.
My gay friends and I rallied on the steps of Capitol Hill
And fought the fights.

"That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars
And whether they had one, or not
Upon Thars."*

* The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Nice Rack

Wildlife is encroaching on suburban sprawl. Five raccoons attacked a woman in Florida this week. Bears are breaking and entering on a regular basis. Deer have taken over the Hamptons, bejeweled like fashionistas with ear tags and neck tracking devices. Recently, a brazen young buck tracked through our back yard, rubbed his antlers on our trees and ate most of my hostas. Dan said he had a nice rack and it made me think about how the phrase is used to describe a well-endowed woman.

Our racks get a lot of attention. There is a plethora of nicknames - boobies, ta-tas, bazunkas, melons, jugs, titties, hooters, headlights, dirty pillows, gazongas, breasticles, cans, bosom, mammaries. Did I miss any? Our "girls" are loved so much that October is dedicated for National Breast Cancer Awareness. http://www.nbcam.org/index.cfm Ladies, feel your girls. Guys, feel your girl's girls. Get a mammogram. Drink milk. What???? Dr. Northrup, a frequent guest on Oprah, advices us to increase our intake of Vitamin D to help prevent breast cancer. "...researchers determined that women with vitamin D levels above 52 ml have half the risk of developing breast cancer..." More info on the study at http://www.oprah.com/article/health/womenshealth/20090826-orig-christiane-northrup-vitamin-d

I want to honor my "girls" after my first mammogram this month. I'm going to buy some pretty lingerie as a tribute to my "peaches." Glamour magazine uses fruit for "cup comparison": A cup is the size of a kiwi, B cup are peaches, C cup are apples, D cup = oranges, E cup is a grapefruit and F cup is the size of a coconut. If you honor your fruit, watch out for the booby trap gimmicks such as the Nipple Erector Set or the Brava Breast Enhancement System. I'm going for a bra that makes my breasties look sexy in the hopes of promoting more wild life in suburbia.

*** Be educated about Inflammatory Breast Cancer which is not detectable in a mammogram and progresses quickly. http://www.nbcam.org/disease_inflammatory_breast_cancer.cfm This type of breast cancer is called "inflammatory" because the breast often looks swollen and red, or "inflamed" IBC accounts for 1 to 5 percent of all breast cancer cases in the U.S.

*** I dedicate this entry to Julie's "breasty dumplings."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Got the Edge

His pants were ripped from knee to knee and he was not wearing any underwear. It was the last thing I wanted to see as I tried to move my busted-up legs. The right foot was twisted, flopping around like a piece of cooked pasta and the left foot was shooting pain from the heel. I was on a behind-the-scenes shoot of the series Stargate in Vancouver and my co-producer and I had a free afternoon. We rented a snowmobile which crashed into a tree and tumbled over the edge of a mountain with me on board. Even though I was in pain, a part of me smiled that my friend's "package" was exposed to the freezing cold. As the emergency crew strapped me to the toboggan for the long journey down Whistler mountain, I realized I was stuck in a moment and couldn't get out of it.

Breaking my legs was one of the best things to ever happen to me. My friend Angel arrived at the hospital just in time to keep those socialized medicine nurses from giving me a hip replacement. (They were wheeling me away for a surgery I didn't need!) Back in NYC, it was evident that a wheelchair was not conducive to reaching my fifth floor walk-up but my friend Stephanie set me up in her swanky doorman pre-war with an elevator. My dad and brother flew from Atlanta to provide assistance of getting me into an ambulet for the daily doctor visits. They even bought me a female urinal. (Until I got the "quickie" wheelchair, I couldn't fit through the door frame.) Because I was a constant fixture on the sidewalk in my quickie, catching rays in a bikini and a cast, I was nicknamed the 'Mayor of the 91st street.' Four months post-surgery, Krysia & Liz switched apartments with me so that I could do the Mrs. Wiggins shuffle with my walker around their super-fab garden apartment. One special guy took me on many dates, and on a few occasions, had to carry me over his shoulder to reach to an awkwardly-located NYC restaurant bathroom. Dan became my man. It was all in the name of love.

The accident happened ten years ago and now I am a runner. In the words of Forrest Gump, "For no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I'd run to the end of town." Running is like life - you keep your head up, put one foot in front of the other, make small goals that build upon each other, you reach a goal. In every city, town, or suburb, "there are clubs you can't belong to, neighborhoods you can't live in, schools you can't get into, but the roads are always open." - Nike. I will follow.

I followed two friends and entered my first 8K on Saturday. There is euphoria around a race and the adrenaline kicks in. The gunshot blasts. People cheer. Deborah waves and claps to all the track marshals. Jackie coaches us to keep going. We see neighbors. Feel the community. All was good until the last half mile. My breakfast was knocking on my uvula. I needed some rockin' music in order to reach my goal - beat the man who juggles while running. Elevation!

**********************************************
Review of Tuesday's concert:
The beltway was jammed with limos inching along for two hours to join 80,000 people at the stadium.

In keeping with the DC vibe, Bono introduced the band as Larry, the man who wrote U2's constitution, Adam, the Minister of Culture, Edge, 'the leader of my free world' and he himself might be Majority Leader...'verbal, elegant but tough when I need to be.'

Being in DC, a few political mover & shakers were in attendance - Nanci Pelosi, Speak of the US House of Representatives and broadcaster George Stephanopoulos, as well as African leaders like Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda. Bono dedicated Beautiful Day to Eunice Shirver and New Years Day was dedicated to Teddy Kennedy. 'For a peaceful Ireland we salute you Teddy...'

My favorite moment was when a boy named Andy ran around the stage for City of Blinding Lights. Bono said he called him up because he had a face that looked at the world before it was vain. Least favorite moment was in the long line of the ladies bathroom, with the gal behind me saying she needed to throw up and the lady in front of me hacking like she had swine flu. Stuck in a moment but it was a beautiful day!
The set:
Breathe
Magnificent
Get on Your Boots
Mysterious Ways
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For
Elevation
Your Blue Room
Beautiful Day
New Year's Day
Stuck In A Moment
Unforgettable Fire
City of Blinding Lights
Vertigo
I'll Go Crazy - Remix
Sunday Bloody Sunday
MLK
Walk On
One
Where The Streets Have No Name
Encore:
Ultraviolet
With or Without You
Moment of Surrender

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ash of Cumin and a Teaspoon of Old Spice

Gigi walked into the kitchen and asked me, "Mommy, why are you wearing your kitchen skirt?" She was referring to my apron. A memory flashed of when I tried to work my metaphoric kitchen skirt while pitching a television show at a national cable channel that does a lot of food programming. The series starred Mama Gena cooking up sexy dishes we called Culinary Seductions. They laughed me out of the door after telling me that each morning the corporate offices start their day with prayer. That was before I knew how to cook anything but bake sale items.

Baking has always been my thing because of my amazing grandma Cecil. When we visit her house, our teeth hurt after eating too much eclair pie, pea pickin' cake, and cobbler. Those are the staples, no matter what time of year. Grandma Cecil taught me to make the goods from pie crust to Almond Joy Cake. I needed a little dessert inspiration for a dinner party we are attending this weekend and pulled out a worn, well-loved recipe. The theme is Italian and I chose the Italian Cream Cake card. It may not be authentic but it is one sweet example of grandma's Southern baked goods. Maybe I'll blog about the party next week.

Cooking and baking blogs are everywhere now. Evidently there can't be too many cooks in the kitchen. There was an article in the Washington Post about the modern day phenom of cooking and baking blogs with The Bread Baker's Apprentice, Daring Bakers/Daring Cooks, and The Mixer and others. The article attributes the cooking and baking groups to people wanting to connect to a community of like-minded people. It also mentions the movie "Julie & Julia," which I saw last week on Boovie Night, my book/movie club. It inspired me to do my own cooking vlog (video blog), with the kids helping me prepare maple/cider pork with smashed cauliflower. The video is low-rez but the meal is good enough to serve at a dinner party AND if you have kids, they will eat it because it has syrup. Click on the box after the recipe to see my helpers add an "ash" of cumin and a half teaspoon of "old spice."

Maple & Apple Cider Pork*
1/2 c maple syrup
4 tbsp course mustard
1/4 c apple cider
1/2 onion
1/2 tsp all spice
1 tsp cumin
pork loin cut into 1 inch thick or pork chops

preheat oven 350
Combine maple syrup, mustard, cider, onion, all spice, and cumin in saucepan and cook over medium heat, 7-10 minutes, until sauce thickens. Stir occasionally.

Grill pork on stove top, 2-3 minutes until bottom is brown. Flip and smother saucy sauce on each piece of pork. Grill another 2-3 minutes until bottom is brown. Pour more sauce and transfer pork to a baking sheet. Set aside remaining sauce for drizzling when serving.

Cook in oven for appx. 10 minutes.
*(adapted from Rachel Ray)

Smashed Cauliflower*
Steam head of cauliflower

Smash with :
1 cup chicken or veggie stock
1/4 c plain yogurt
2 cloves of minced garlic
pinch of red pepper flakes

Stir and add salt/pepper
* (adapted from Tyler Florence)


video

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm Getting A Facelift

I'm looking a little tired. When I had my daughter three and a half years ago, David Dean came for a hospital visit. He nuzzled up next to me and held his newborn sister in his arms. Then he looked at me, and said, "Mommy, your eyes have cracked." It was the beginning of the beginning - mid life.

Professional advice is needed for my cracks. There are many products to try for wrinkle reduction and my list goes something like this: L'Oreal Collagen Filler, Dermalogica Anti-Aging Serum, Soap & Glory Eye Trick and Treat. There are books and articles everywhere but I thought it opportune to ask the dermatologist, since we were already there for an issue Gigi was having. He told me I have "fine lines." However, they don't look so fine to me and I urged him to tell me about Botox. Evidently, Botox is only for the area above the eyebrows. He gave me a sample of Retin A which will take months before there is any change.

It sure would be great to get an instant improvement, like the beauty product commercials promise. Since it is too soon to go under the knife, I opted for a jackhammer. The lines in my face are manageable, for now, but the crack in our guest room pedestal sink will not go away. I called our friendly neighborhood transformer for a face lift that could occur in a matter of days.

Little did I know that Jodi Longo of Renovation Studios has a gift that is better than surgery; it's borderline supernatural. She is a modern day Wonder Woman with kick ass super hero powers of remodeling, a visible fleet of red trucks, and a tape measure lasso of truth. Not only did she plan our bathroom makeover, she took care of an emergency on the first visit. The day she came to do the "take off", we had an unrelated leak in our basement ceiling. Jodi called Joe (her Alfred of sorts/project manager) to take a look. They threw on their metaphoric capes, and saved the day by rescuing us from a flood.The rejuvenation is in progress and it is minimally evasive. As I write this entry, there is pounding going on above my head. Debris is sliding down the inner makings of our 100+ year old home. The planning and trips to Home Depot, Lowes, and various plumbing stores have been enlightening. Can you believe people still order colored toilet seat covers? If you have one, call Jodi immediately!

I understand the joy that one experiences with a face lift. There is hope for something better, something new and improved. The change is about getting rid of the proverbial frown lines.

Type in your deep thoughts. Comment as "your name" or "anonymous." Click button "post comment." Yee ha!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Scanning for Wieners

The village of Kensington, Maryland is the greatest place to be on Labor Day Weekend - it's the last hurrah at the neighborhood pool, an amazing parade, and the Pitchfork Block Party. (It has that title because three streets that host the party form the shape of a pitchfork.) The shindig starts on Sunday afternoon with music rocking, children running, and grown-ups grilling. Some adults mingle into the wee hours of the morning which was when my neighbors ravenously opened a package of Oscar Meyers that sent one dog flying into another person's back yard. The recipient is a master gardener and would be perplexed if she pulled up a wienie weed of that sort. Someone had to go on a hunt for the hot dog.

Looking around for a snaaaausage is a daunting task in the dark, but I've also found it overwhelming in the fluorescent lights of the super market. The first time I entered a grocery store after moving from New York City, it took me over two hours to find what we needed. In NYC, I had a service deliver the goods. There were not many products because the only thing I knew how to make was reservations. Ok, bad joke but true. I could scramble eggs. In college, I lived off of stewed tomatoes and macaroni. Ask my college roommate and dear friend Jennie Plentie. Not anymore. We moved here and somehow I magically became a cooker. My kitchen is sizzlin'. Maybe it was because someone had to feed my kids. Maybe it was because I needed a creative outlet.

Ingredients are necessary for my "hot cookin' that's going on tonight, and the temperature is rising just right", as G Love and Special Sauce sings. (The music video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stOfN0y_bpo) I know, I could order my groceries to be delivered even in suburbia but I want to experience the food, to touch it and smell it. I love how I FEEL when I walk through Whole Foods. I feel a sense of the primal when I go on a quest to Balducci for miso paste and other obscure ingredients. But lo and behold, there is always the utilitarian markets trips that remain daunting.

Even though it's swell to forage for food, the grocery store process is stuck in the 1950's! It is inefficient. You put products in a cart. Take products out of cart. Cashier picks up each product, scans it. Each product is put in bag. Bags of products go back in cart. Bags are put in trunk. Products are emptied into kitchen. It is enough to make you put on a poofy petticoat and do yourself in. However, the grocery goddesses heard my prayers and someone decided to help me work my skirt in the food aisles.

The grocery store revolution has begun and I may seem hopelessly suburban* but I am loving it. I'm now my own checkout chick. The hand-held scanner at Giant allows me to ring up my products as a I go along. I put them in the bag I want. When it is time to pay, the cashier takes my scanner and POOF, I'm outa there. I've saved four steps in the store! Even putting away the food is much quicker because I've bagged things according to where they go. And, I know this sounds silly, it is satisfying, maybe even borderline fun. Ever play cashier when you were a child? You can re-live the moment. My daughter is living it as a reality. She doesn't even want to watch Dora in the kid grocery carts anymore. She is busy being my helper, zapping UPC codes on Oscar Meyer wieners. Hot diggity dog!

* "hopelessly suburban" was coined by my friend Brooksie Brooks
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ruckus Amok Us

There was some family drama in August but I bet my son won’t include it in his first grade homework assignment - I Had a Ball This Summer. I would write about how we swam across the country. We were filmed in the Bahamas for a Shark Week promo, skimboarded in the Hamptons, swam through a sea of people in NYC, dove into the Delaware shores, and jumped off the “tower of power” into Lake Coeur D’Alene in Idaho. That’s where the hullabaloo happened.

Each year twenty-one family members gather for a week at Dan’s family compound. Three Bragg houses shoulder the lake, located in the northern panhandle of Idaho. The air smells fresh, the hills are hairy with pine trees, and the lake is crystal clear. Those waters get stirred up a bit when we reunite.

Over the years, the family has adjusted to various drama bombs. Cooking for twenty-one people equals chaos. Dan’s mom hires a chef to be on duty the week we invade. (That is what I call a woman workin' her skirt!) Chef Steve does all the shopping and prepares an early dinner for the children, and the adults are served a fabulous meal at 7:30p.

Another issue on the lake-911-list is babysitting. The adults want to have a vacation to water ski, ride the inner tube, hang out on the dock, have drinkies, etc. A hired crew of nannies is on duty in the afternoon through early evening, thanks again to Matriarch Marcia. These gals ensure the little people wear a life vest, prepare lunch, play in the sandbox, organize art projects, assist in multiple trips to the bathroom, and fulfill hundreds of snack requests. It is a camp of sorts. We even had a talent show for Nana/Papa’s anniversary.

This year the brouhaha came out of the blue because it was brought on by something we've never done before - build a shed. It became a typical case of boys vs. girls. The adult “boys” started constructing it in the courtyard of House 1. Several grown up “girls”, including me, expressed that they did not think the storage unit should be located in a place where everyone would see it. The ruckus-amok-us started when the “boys” refused to relocate and continued erecting their unit. An hour later, Auntie weighed in as the voice of reason with Papa's support. The “boys” understood their plight was over and an effort commenced to shed the shed from the courtyard and move it into a more suitable backyard location. Lots of cousins and several aunts and uncles were recruited. As we lifted the little house above our heads on a treacherous hill, I realized I was having a ball on my summer vacation. It’s not where you go or what you do, it is who is standing beside you that counts, especially when it comes to heavy lifting.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Quest



It was an unfavorable day to be on a walkabout for our automobile. Not wanting to be a dowdy mom, I dolled up and wore heels to take Gigi to a doctor's appointment, with the hopes of possibly doing a little shopping after the checkup. However, it was 95 degrees in DC and the air was close. My little doozie was tired and didn’t want to walk. I thought, “I’ll get the stroller,” but as we approached our parking spot, I realized we were in trouble. The stroller was in our MISSING vehicle. I noticed a tow truck a block away and with my dogs-a-barkin', I scooped up Gigi and ran after it. The driver told me the address of where my car had been towed which was about a mile away. Ugggh! If only I had noticed the instructions on the sign, “No parking 4p-6:30p.” It was 4:15p. Off we went on a quest for our Quest with me in my heels and a 30-pound child on my hip, wishing I had worn flip-flops.

We turned the incident into an adventure. A cop pulled up, reported that she had given me a ticket and would follow us. I proclaimed that we were on a special mission with a police escort on a race to our car. There was a lot of traffic - the lady po po inched along beside us as we scurried along the sidewalk. Pedro the tow truck driver was waiting for us with a big smile, watching us jump up and down as we won the race. He said he had never seen people having fun after having their vehicle hauled away. I praised him for such a fine relocation job and he surprised me with the best news I'd had all afternoon. He threw out the fine and I hugged Pedro's tow-truck sized neck.

In the future, I'm going to heed the signs better than I’ve done in the past. Dan and I were in Morocco a few years back, driving across the Atlas Mountains. There was a road sign that looked like falling rocks, which was not very comforting on a jig-jag road with a shoulder that drops off hundreds of feet below. We were in a bit of a predicament as nature was calling. There are not any rest stops so we pulled over for an old-school style pit stop. Both doors should be open and you squat in between them. As soon as my pants were down, oodles of kids had surrounded us and were asking for candy. That's when we realized what the sign really meant - “Little Children Run Out of Caves.”

IF only more signs were provocative, people like me would pay attention. "Park here after 4 and I'll tow your ass." Or, "Slow your roll sister" on the flashing speed sign. The entrance sign to the beach community in Lewes made me stand up and take notice. It welcomed us to “Ape Hores” instead of “Cape Shores.” That's some kind of vacation community!
My favorite inciting sign is near our house, just north of DC on Hwy 495 at the Kensington/Chevy Chase exit - “Open Joints on Bridge.” What a call to action - get a motorcycle and light up. Now there's a quest that would be amusing but I bet I'd get another ticket.

Friday, July 31, 2009

About Face

Pretend play is a big deal in our house. Rarely a day goes by when someone isn’t wearing a mask, cape, crown, or a wig (and that's just Dan and me). It is no wonder we are crazy about face swapping. It is the virutal, photoshop way to put on a costume. I first experienced trying on another person's body when we were given a card by a Showtime friend. He designed it so that my face is on a well-endowed woman sipping tea, and Dan is mowing the grass naked while smoking a stogie. Welcome to the suburbs. >>>>> For our Seven Year Hitch Party invite, Dan was Tom Ewell and I was Marilyn. Then we discovered jib jab which allowed us to insert pictures into videos of us doing a square dance, tango, or striptease. See Hoe-down in box at the bottom of this story.

Now with all the face swapping sites, grown-ups can play virtual dress-up with oodles of options. Try on various superhero bodies. Trek yourself into a character that actually talks. Mad Men yourself onto the set of of the tv series. Get eaten by a shark in frenzied waters. (By the by, DISCOVERY’S SHARK WEEK starts this Sunday at 9p.) Try on celebrity hairstyles. Or, if you are lucky, someone will swap you up and send it your way. Dan make me into a Fembot yesterday. I love that man!

Face it, we all need as many ways to have fun as possible. If you find yourself stuck inside on a rainy summer day, here is a list of a few sites that will entertain. Send me any other links that are not listed and forward along your face swap pictures & videos. I'm starting a web site for Workin' That Skirt and would love to have some eye candy.
  • http://areyoubotornot.com/verify/?dest=builder_standalone& Turn yourself into a speaking robot
  • http://www.amctv.com/originals/madmen/madmenyourself/ - Mad Men
  • http://dsc.discovery.com/sharks/frenzied-waters/ Click on the jar closes to the right side of screen and put in your story (or a friend) about your “own” shark attack.
  • http://bebe.dmimusic.com - Promotion for new Bebe jeans of three, hot girls dancing.
  • http://www.instyle.com/instyle/makeover/# Try on new hair & makeup.
  • http://hairmixer.com/?gclid=CPaEuYzFgJwCFclL5Qod1jqE9A Check out a new hair style.
  • http://www.facedub.com/?gclid=COSH3vHEgJwCFdZD5godhziW_w - Swap your face and body!
  • http://www.bodyswitcher.com/ - site to put your face in hundreds of celebs bodies or on the cover of magazines.
  • http://www.trekyourself.com/?mId=29977449.3 -
  • http://www.news3online.com/spread.php - You for president.
video
http://sendables.jibjab.com/ - send videos, greeting cards

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

?4U

Have you ever texted inappropriately? Here’s a call to put down your fingers when in the car. I am a vigilante on this issue and am taking it to the streets. On a recent road trip, inching along the highway, the guy next to me was typing on his phone WHILE DRIVING. The other day in DC, a teenager had her left leg up under her bum and was typing a note WHILE DRIVING. I held up my homemade sign on each occasion -– "QUIT TEXTING."

July is "Cell Phone Courtesy Month." It was designated by Jacqueline Whitmore, author of Business Class and “authority on business etiquette and protocol.” She cites a few rules I love: "focus on driving", “avoid cell yell” and “learn to vibe.” http://www.etiquetteexpert.com/cellphone.html.

Some people seem to have lost their manners when it comes to using the cell phone. We were in the backyard yesterday and there was a lot of scwalking coming from a yard a few houses over. My son asked me, “What in the world is all that noise?” I looked over and realized that there was a pool man holding a cell phone with the call on speaker. It was disturbing our swingset screaming! Juxtapose that to my friend who before she popped inside said, “Excuse me, I have to make a call to a doctor. I’ll be inside in a few minutes.”

Using the phone inappropriately is not only annoying, it is downright dangerous. One in five drivers text even though they know it is wrong, according to AAA. That is frightening! A recent report by VA Tech shows that texting while driving, TWD, it is as dangerous as drunk driving. For more information on the VA Tech Institute driving study, go to http://www.vtti.vt.edu/whats-new.html#driving-distraction.

It is against the law to DWT in 14 states and the District. The cops are pulling people over and the fines range from $500 in Maryland for writing, sending or reading a text to being convicted of a 3rd degree felony if there is an accident that causes bodily injury or death in California. After seeing the Texas bus driver crash on the highway and the reports of the CA train collision that killed 25 people, it convinced me to keep my phone in my purse while I’m behind the wheel (unless I use my headset).

Walking while texting is also a problem. A recent study in England indicates that 1 in 8 people has been bruised, fractured or cut while walking and texting. I bumped into a pedestrian the other day on the way out of a movie while checking my email. People are so distracted on the streets in London, street lights and sign posts are padded to prevent injury. Check out the video on You Tube. >>>

One final request on the use of cell phones. I ask you to consider a most important rule: Love the one you’re with. It is just plain rude to talk on the phone while at dinner, or out for drinks, or at the beach/pool, or on a date. Excuse yourself, make your call, and focus your attention on your people, at least for the rest of this month. Mawh, Mawh.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pulling An All Righter

Ever had one of those days when you wake up and even though it is not Monday, it feels like it is? A fog would not leave my head and has stuck with me. It’s a holiday hangover, a daze from having too much fun last weekend at our mini Hamptons vacay of riding the waves, shooting darts at Murph’s, eating lobsters, and chillaxin’ with our friends. I’m paying the price and learned a few things on how to survive good time grogginess.

You're crazy to run errands on a day when you're depleted. After a trip to the grocery store, I put Gigi in her car seat and the groceries into the trunk. I rolled the cart a few feet to the buggy station and turned around to find a man peeking into our car, saying to his friend, “Look, there’s a baby in the backseat.” I shouted, “It’s OK, I’m right here.” He proceeded to tell me that I could get a fine for leaving a child in the car and that I could go to court for child neglect. I smiled, said thanks, and went on my way.

Do not shop on a detox day. My eye glasses broke for the third time this year and I went to the frame store. The salesman who helped me replace the frames was there and I relayed that my specs are being held together with super glue. "This is a great opportunity to replace the old ones and go Grand Dame," I said as I tried on some fabulous Chanel eye dudz. He proceeded to say in an exasperated tone, "You are hard on glasses. I told you how to take them off your face with two hands. We have never had this problem. We don’t carry frames that fall apart.” I smiled, said thanks, and went on my way.

Forget about money matters until you have recovered. At the bank I put my name on the customer service list. A manager-type pulled me out of the line to review my account. My goal was to get the bank to dismiss a line of credit overdraft charge on my business account for an 80¢ bounce. In order to get the pay off amount, he told me to go to teller line. I waited with two kids in tow, ten people deep, and was informed by the teller that the tellers can not get pay off information because they do not have internet access. Teller lady said to wait in the customer service line again! Do you feel my pain yet? In the customer service line, I noticed a bank phone and decided to head over and call for my balance. The manager-type approached me and tried to hang up the call! He said he wanted to help me! After I went kookoo for cocoa puffs, I smiled, said NO thanks, and went on my way.

If you have a headache, get a babysitter. Our kids have the good-time-groggies too; they are exhausted, whining, and fighting A LOT. Their behavior indicated quiet time was in order. David Dean disagreed and put up a fight. I asked him why he was angry and he told me that the way I was acting was teaching him how to behave. Oh, my aching head signaled to let this one go for now. Our amazing babysitter Daniella arrived so I smiled, said thanks, and went on my way.

R
eplenish with something that brings you joy. This is a tool from The School of Womanly Arts taught by my friend Regena Thomashauer. www.mamagenas.com Do something pleasurable every day, especially when the blues are playing their song. Chocolate seemed like it could provide a quick attitude adjustment. Cake Love had lots of options – German Chocolate, Chocolate Butter cream, Red Velvet, Almond Toffee. I chose Cynthia’s Syn, which is a chocolate cupcake dipped in chocolate genash, topped with peanut butter cream icing, drizzled with caramel. The baker pulled the cupcake out of the frig and wrapped it while saying they recommend waiting to eat it at room temperature. I smiled, said thanks, and ate it on the way.

The best cure for what ails you is to have some more of it - hair of the dog**. To top off the insanity, our minivan had to be taken to the shop for $2,000 worth of repairs. We are a one car family until it is fixed so I picked Dan up from work. He noticed that it had been a rough one. My spirit was depleted of all the "fun" we had imbibed over the weekend but Dan helped me smile at the craziness of being accused of child neglect and being berated by a salesman. Laughter was the hair of the dog I had been missing all day. Like cures like. I smiled, said thanks, and thought, "tomorrow is on the way."

P.S. Upon returning home, there was a message from the eyeglass man who called to let me know they are replacing my frames again. David Dean said he was sorry.

** Origin and derivation from Wikipedia: HAIR OF THE DOG - The origin of the phrase is literal, and comes from an erroneous method of treatment of a rabid dog bite by placing hair from the dog in the bite wound. The use of the phrase as a metaphor for a hangover treatment dates back to the time of William Shakespeare. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer writes in the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1898): "In Scotland it is a popular belief that a few hairs of the dog that bit you applied to the wound will prevent evil consequences.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dreamweaver

A crazy thing happened Saturday night "as I closed my eyes and climbed aboard the Dreamweaver Train." I dreamt that someone stole our Scooby Doo minivan. It was such a clear vision: I was sad that we were violated but happy to replace it with a sporty car. However, "on the bright side of the moon," I missed the automatic sliding doors, the spaciousness, the DVD. It was 4am and I took a peek out of the window to make sure that our minivan was still in the driveway. There were 2 police cars in front of our house, cops in the yard with flashlights and a search dog. Zoinks! They were on a man hunt for four men and at least one of the crooks was in our Mystery Machine van when the police arrived!

These brazen burglars went on a rampage. They broke into a neighbor's property using their garage door opener, hid on my friend's front porch, rummaged through my car and my next door neighbor's car, and fled in a stolen Lexus going 110 miles an hour toward Chevy Chase in a 30mph speed zone. Finally there's justification for those the speed cameras that take my picture regularly.

Oddly, the thieves left our GPS system in the Scooby van but they took my flex flop cosmetic bag. I can't blame them for thinking it is special because it's the best invention for women since lipstick. A friend of mine gave it to me so that I would always have my portable flip flops and be on-the-ready for a pedicure. The police officer said he found it in the my neighbor's back yard. The irony is that bag is bejeweled with the word "RELAX."

"
Ruh-roh!", I can't relax. Being around a crime scene makes me uneasy. We have a false sense of security in our quaint town of Kensington, especially given the statistics that a house is burglarized every fifteen seconds in America, according the FBI. I went online to get some home protection ideas. Obviously a security system is the best but there were a few intriguing options: door & window squeelers and a safe room. The site No-Nonsense Self-Defence suggested creating a less extreme area than the one in the movie Panic Room with a solid wood door, a cell phone or internet in the room, reinforced door frames, safe bolted to the closet floor, and a Fox Police Lock (see picture at right). The site is hosted by Marc "Animal" MacYoung who has written at least 14 books such as Street Safe and Effective Offense. He even offers a parenting solution to having a safe room: "putting it bluntly teenagers do stupid things now and then. And if they do stupid things with not nice people, them having a safe room is a very good idea. If nothing else it also gives squabbling siblings a means to end the fight." http://www.nononsenseselfdefense.com/saferoom.htm

Having a dream and awaking to the scene-in-reality is bizarre but "I believe we can reach the morning light." Maybe I have a supernatural gift. A few days ago I pledged to pay more attention to my intuition and wrote about it in a blog entry that I decided not to publish because it seemed too "Sylvia Brown." IF I am on a dreams-come-true roll, I hope to "cross the highways of fantasy" to win the Mega Millions. "In that astral plane", we'll have a safe room in a beach house that we private-jet our friends and families to visit.

* lots of quotes from the song "Dreamweaver" by Gary Wright

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Fireworks Go "Boom Boom Pow"

The skies are blazing. Fireworks are filling the air. It’s Independence Day! We will be eating Maryland crabs at the beach. Until moving here I never realized how tasty they are. Those little critters have a built in can opener to help you pop the top and get to the meat. It is nature’s art direction.

There’s a show on TV about a different sort of art direction. Take a look at an episode from Mad Men, which is about the NYC advertising world in the early 60’s. All the women are objectified – the secretary who had to wear a tight shirt to show off her rocket-bra supported chest, the wife who had to have dinner on the table at 6p and look like she was going out for cocktails in her full-skirted dress. In the clip to the right, the new girl is getting advice on how to "fit" into the agency. The experienced gal tells her to “always be a supplicant.” A supplicant is someone who is humble, a beggar, a bum, a have-not, a dependent. That is the way it was and it's no wonder the women were crabby!

While running today listening to BOOM BOOM POW, I realized how lucky we are to have the ability to do what we want in this country. Trying not to sound corny, we have freedom. We have choices that women in the 60’s did not have. We are no longer begging or dependent. We can chose to do whatever career we want. We can decide to be a stay-at-home-mom, work full-time or work part-time. We can choose to not have kids. We can decide to not get married. It’s all ok. We’ve come a long way in just fifty years! We have our independence, our boom boom pow, let the beat rock!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Celebrity Tourette Syndrome

“Hi Michael Jackson” is what I would have said if I’d seen him on the street. That’s one celebrity I sadly won’t be able to glam. Glam is the positive way of describing how one uses a special ability to charm a famous person. Celebrity Tourette Syndrome is the other way to describe it, especially by those people who are embarrassed by my actions. It is an uncontrollable urge to connect and blurt, “Hi, (celebrity first name) + (celebrity last name)”.

Sorry to name drop but I have made some involuntary "Hi's" to really big names. It first started with George Clooney at a bar in LA called Jones. “Hi George Clooney.” The next thing I knew I was having a cocktail with him and his posse. (Those were the early ER days, before he was a superstar.) “Hi Robert Redford,” I said as he was getting out of his town car outside the Sundance building in NY. He looked at me stunned. Was he thinking, “Does she know me?” or “Should I call security?”

In most instances, the tics are a positive social grace. In my favorite restaurant, Il Buco, a man was blocking the entrance. I gently touched his back to try to get a little movement so that we could get to the hostess area. He turned around and looked a bit miffed, which is when I realized who I had pushed. “Oh, Hi, Dustin Hoffman.” He wasn’t mad anymore. (By the by, my tic kicked in at that restaurant on various occasions when I brushed up beside Matt Damon, Harrison Ford and Liev Schreiber.) I had a “Hi Diana Ross” outburst in the gift store at Canyon Ranch. We actually had a conversation but she was trapped because she was paying for her merchandise. Jon Bon Jovi was my latest “Hi” last December - I was at a very crowded club and the only way to the restroom was to walk by me. I gave him enough room, patted his shoulder and said, “Hi Jon Bon Jovi.” He smiled. Ooh la la!

My favorite celebrity tic was to Esther Williams because many moons ago, I produced the show packaging and promos for an all day movie marathon, The Esther Williams Splash Bash on TNT. She is amazing in her films - she dives, does tricks, and glides through the water wearing a smile with perfect lipstick. If you know me for five minutes, you know that I don’t go anywhere without my lippy. When I lived in London, my friends knew that if I got ran over by a double-decker bus, before calling an ambulance they were to apply a fresh coat. The same love for lipstick has been passed on to my daughter. See picture at right.

Is Celebrity Tourette Syndrome inherited? My children may have it. For two and half years, they seemed pretty excited to see the mailman EVERY day. The mailman is a big deal in a child's life. The scene : Mailman Willie slides the mail through the slot on the front door. The kids open the door when he is barely off of the front porch. They blurt, “Hi Willie.” My son tells Mailman Willie he is eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Willie asks, “Again?!” There is a picture of Mailman Willie with the kids at right. The same impulse happens when we see the Mayor of Kensington. “Hi Mayor Pete.”

I’ve decided while writing this entry that the outbursts are not a disorder but should be considered the gift of glam. The sexy vampires in True Blood glam people all the time. I don’t want to suck anyone’s blood but merely want the person of influence to feel the adoration. Tonight we are having a King-of-Pop-family-dance and I’ll say to the sky, “Hi Michael Jackson,” wherever you are.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get Your Head Examined

The shopping cart ricocheted and bounced off the sides of the escalator at Target. I thought I was putting the buggy on the chain ramp that glides beside as you descend down the stairs. It was too late. As the cart tumbled down, yogurt spattered the stairs and milk sprayed the handrails. Luckily, no one was on the escalator down below or I would have been on the nightly news! Target security was on me lickedy split at the bottom, “asking what is wrong,” and “are you ok?” In a state of what must have been shock, I actually started picking up the yogurt and put the dripping milk carton back in my runaway cart, like I was going to purchase this stuff! I was pretty shaken, called my hubby who took me to get a CAT Scan, MRI, the works – it all showed that I am the epitome of health. Great, what now? The dizziness continued and put me on my back for a month. I couldn’t drive and needed to lie flat so that I didn’t throw up.

It seems there are more people spinning out of control than I realized. Oprah has an article about vertigo in this month’s issue. There are millions of people dealing with being dizzy. One gal had vertigo for 18 months and, like me, got it in check by reducing her sodium intake. Who knew a little salt could make you throw a shopping cart down an escalator? The doctors have found that Valium also helps. I was reluctant to take it because I didn't want to end up in the Valley of the Dolls but when you've fallen and you can't get up, you'll try anything (even the clapper). Who knows, I thought, maybe I'll reinvent myself like Mary-Louis Parker on "Weeds" and push dolls. Naaah, I have two little kids and they take up a lot of time.

The map in the mall is a great metaphor for me. “YOU ARE HERE” During my horizontal month, oodles of people called to check on me, brought meals, babysat my kiddies, ran errands, drove me to the doctor and had Ginko tea parties with me. And that month, my hubby won “the better or worse” award. I am so grateful. The vertigo event grounded me and helped me realize that I should do all the fun things burbanites do. Now, I’m taking tennis lessons and golf lessons and we’re in a dinner party club. When I run under cherry blossom trees, I appreciate the petals that drop on the path. I teach my daughter how to enjoy a honeysuckle on our walk to preschool. I treasure the “crystal” (rock) my son gave me at the bus stop. I kiss my husband like he’s my boyfriend. I AM HERE, in the burbs, and it’s a good thing I got my head examined.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wigged Out

There was a man with the biggest dreads piled on his head a mile-high as we were swimming in the pool last week in the Bahamas. I was praying that my three year old would be able to hold back her comments but NOOOOOOOOOOOOO. She yelled without abandon, “Mom, look at that man’s hairdude.” Great. Later that day we were watching SpongeBob and he was sportin’ a powdered wig, full of dust and mites. He thought everyone loved his locks and that it made them happy he was wearing a wig, even though they teased him. By the end of the episode, he had created a trend and all the characters had a Marie Antoinette coiffure.

I like a wig, probably better than the next person. We have an assortment left over from Halloweens and the wigs I used to have in my office in NYC. It was located in the heart of the fake-hair district and they were really cheap. Sometimes things got stressful at work and the only release was to pull people in my office, pass around the hairdos, play some music and turn on the disco ball for a four o’clock dance break.

It is good to encourage wig wear, especially with the little ones. My son recently went to a birthday party at Medieval Times. That’s the place where men ride on horseback and joust and guests eat turkey legs. He came home saying that he really liked the knight who had long hair in the back with short hair in the front. He wants to grow his hair like that because he thinks that knight was cool. Hmmmmm. Dan and I proceeded to tell him that the mullet is out of style but we have a mullet wig if he wants to make-believe. My daughter wears a long, blond wig sometimes and she seems like a JonBenet wanna-be. That look freaks me out a bit.

The wig begs for a celebration. A friend of mine in Atlanta has friends who throw a wig bash every year and it sounds like a blast. It is a grown up, dress up, drink up kinda party without a theme, other than you have to wear a hairdude. Living in DC, you have to have a political affiliation. I declare mine The Wig Party and am inspired to host a shindig, because like SpongeBob, I think wearing a wig makes people happy. Wanna come?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Yeah, Mon

We’re on island time. The sun shines, the rain falls. And when it is storming in the Bahamas, you have to find things to entertain the kiddies. Bahama Mama is at the helm of this ship and is sailing solo today while Bahama Papa is off shooting footage to incite fear for shark week. Swimming in the ocean was the obvious activity.

We dive into the Caribbean blue water but after my six year old told my three year old that the seaweed had monsters, her ear-piercing screams caused everyone to make a mad dash. Really, my daughter has a future in horror films if she wants. We did a little sand castle creation but the children wanted the pool. The water was very cold and we ended up in the hot tub for hours. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. My little princess’ lifejacket rope burn was starting to annoy her. Then the rain came with thunder and lightning. Those pesky lifeguards made us exit and I decided an outing was in order. We grabbed the local 10 bus and headed to City Market – mommy needs a cocktail and thought, “why pay $15 for a drink when I can buy a whole bottle?” The kids liked that outing because there are not any seat belts on the bus.

We also took the 10 last night to a local restaurant, The Fish Fry. Well, they should just call it the Fish FLY because we had to shoo away oodles of the nasty pests to get a bite in edgewise. I’m not kidding! Tonight’s fare was much better – we picked up some of the kids’ favorite food at the market and they are back in heaven, with a rainbow on the horizon.

Sooooooo, if you are feelin’ like you wish you were on a luxury vacation (ahem), all you really need to do is eat mac & cheese, fill the tub with warm water, and throw around a beach ball. You can be on island time too. Yeah, mon.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Men At Work

Almost half of the human population leaves the burbs every morning. While at a neighbor’s coffee klatch last week, this topic came up with the gals talking about the men who are left behind in our town - the surfer-dude swimming coach, the Australian landscaper, the hunky waste management guy. We are not desperate housewives; it’s just that a little testosterone goes a long way to even out the air. It makes me grateful for the rare glimpses of a sweaty mower man or a saw-welding contractor.

Not long ago, the doorbell rang and there were two handsome gentlemen at my door. Lo and behold, I thought I had won Publisher’s Clearinghouse. I practiced my “surprise-win face,” just in case the white van with camera crew was there to capture the moment. However, the men were from a tree service company that we commissioned to cut some dead branches from our 100-year-old oaks. The trees are close to the swing-set, near where the fox lives. Goodness, that swing-set is requiring so much attention that we may need a “(play)grounds keeper.”

The tree guys went to the back garden, strapped on harnesses, attached ropes, and hammered clamps. It was a hot, humid day that signifies DC was originally built on swampland. One of the guys was climbing the tree and I noticed he had taken his off his shirt. Influenced by my "proper" upbringing in the South, I thought it would be mannerly to take those boys a beverage. Then I immediately called a friend in the neighborhood, and invited her to join me for a viewing of the strapping lumberjacks at work. When life is giving ya lemons, make lemonade.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Family Jewels

“I did not think you were that kind of girl,” he said. My response with a big smile, “I think I am now." I used to have a platinum band, which was great, but desired something with a bit more sparkle, a rock. On our next anniversary, my hubby gave me a beautiful antique, Tiffany-setting ring. Ahhhhhh, it's thrilling to have the ONLY piece in our collection of family jewels. That is, of course, not counting the metaphoric ones….

At a recent annual "treasure" checkup, the doctor asked if I had any questions. We discussed my list and then all of a sudden, out popped, “A friend of mine is complaining about 'pee leaks'? Jumping jacks wreck her.” The doctor told me that she should do more squeezes, ya know, Kegels.

The pee problem is more common than I realized. I read it’s estimated that half the female population will at some point experience some form of incontinence (according to the Mayo Clinic). My fitness-instructor friend says that several ladies in her weekly mommy exercise class complain about the same issue, and that's just right here in the little 'ol town of Kensington. We need to whip those pelvic muscles into shape. Teri Hatcher uses The Amazing Kegelmaster 2000 and raved about it on The Tonight Show, saying now she has, "a really strong kitty cat." See the clip by clicking on the link at the bottom of this story. I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants but wondered if the Kegelmaster keeps ya from having to wear the dreaded Depends when you're older and, if not, do they come in the shape of a thong?

I'd like the option to wear thong panties until my 80's. No grannie panties for me. Some of my buddies don’t understand the appeal of a thong. A group of my girlfriends recently took a momshell-power-lounging beach vacation. A few days into the trip, my lace French-blue thong went missing and I asked each friend if it had gotten mixed up in her laundry. Oh, the comments: "Why are you wearing a thong? I don’t have your butt floss. Doesn’t that hurt!" It became a running joke through the week. Back in Atlanta, one friend facebooked that her daughter was wearing it as a hat.

A thong IS a strange looking garment. Even my son made a funny comment the other day on this subject. He’s six. He saw me in my bedroom, getting dressed, and charged in with hands akimbo, “Mommy, WHERE ON EARTH is the rest of your underwear?”

Some comments you have to ignore, but not the one about how to take care of the family jewels.

http://www.amazingkegelmaster.com/

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Hair-brained honking

Does short hair mean you are bitchy? That was the topic last week on a DC radio station in relation to “Kate Plus 8”. The DJ said that women with short hair are bitchy, like Kate. People called in, said she is nasty. They said her haircut is white trash. Hairdressers added their commentary: A woman with short hair has to have ‘tude to pull off a short cut. In order to wear a cropped do, a gal has to have the personality to make it work. Usually there is an edge to women with short hair.

Weeeell, I’ve considered myself a short-haircut gal for the last 13 years but I don’t think I’m bitchy. Sassy at times, yes. When we moved to DC almost three years ago, my hair was short and I noticed that few women in my burb had a cropped cut. I also noticed that people drive very aggressively here. Drivers kept flipping me off, honking, and yelling out of their car windows at me. It is the damn roundabouts. How are you supposed to know where to get off? Sometimes there is a sign but the only way to see it is if you go merry-go-round style in the roundabout. On one outing with my kiddies, a truck almost hit us. He laid on his horn, gave me the finger, and called me a bitch. I got riled up and screamed, “Fu@&’in A!” My son earnestly asked me, “Mommy, did you say, ‘That truck got in our way’?” Yes.

The last time I had longish hair was almost 15 years ago and when a terrible thing happened, I put Kate Plus 8 to shame. I was living in London, launching a cable network and was happily separated from my Atlanta-based-practice-husband. He came to the UK, all caveman-like, to drag me back to the USA by my LONGish hair. After a bad serving of shepherd’s pie, we ended up in the ER. The Doogie Houser ER doc proceed to take some of my practice husband’s blood but it started spurting out all over his chest. I can’t stand the sight of blood and had a pass-out-and-fall-into-a-hospital-wall accident. Things continued to go downhill – practice husband wasn’t being treated, I was changing his bedpan, I needed drugs for my broken nose. That’s when I got fiesty and screamed with swollen tongue, “THIS wouldn’t be happening in America!” Nurse Ratched had us transported to the Infectious and Tropical Disease Center out in the English countryside. Longish hair was NOT washed during the three days while in quarantine.

Today my hair is medium length and people are still honking at my driving. But now when they flip me off, I wave, smile and look happy. I have embraced the fact that I’m not the best driver on the road. It's liberating to feel good about not being great at something, which, by the by, has nothing to do with the length of my hair! Just sayin'...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Foxy Kensington

He calls me "Foxy Kensington." It's not my stripper name, ya know, first name is your first childhood pet and the second name is the street where you grew up. My stripper name is "Peaches Vestabrook," which sounds pretty authentic if you're dancing around a pole. I probably would've been a stripper if I had big breasty dumplings but my "girls" led me down another path - TV producer, mom, Foxy Kensington. That's the name my animal trapper calls me. Yeah, we have a trapper because there's a minx living in our back yard near the swing set. The trapper said my name is on his cell phone speed dial. Ohhhhhh. OK, I'll take it where I can get it in the burbs. Actually, I've always taken it where I can get it. A great prop keeps you charged, lightens your step, improves your swagger and helps ya work that skirt. Back in New York City, I once passed a construction site and a few crew guys yelled out some cat calls. I'm no prude so I went around the block for take two! Love a shout out. The props are sometimes better when they come from your girlfriends. The other day I was walking behind a friend and noticed her legs as she took her son to class after the Moms & Muffins Breakfast. I told her she looked like a teenager in her platform sandals and white ruffled skirt. She called me later to tell me it made her day. We gals need to build each other up when our muffins are workin'. And when you get a somethin'-somethin' from a man on the street, take it in and enjoy it. Go around the block again for a second helping or adopt the nickname. I have! Foxy Kensington. Just sayin'.