Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Blogging For The Love of It

Getting ready to leave for BlogHer '12 and feeling the squeeze; lining up dinners, figuring out clothes, scheduling what's a Must Do and who is a Must See over the next five days.

And that's just for my three children left back home.

To help you get a feel of what I'll be doing with my time once in the Big Apple, I'm excited and honored to be on a BlogHer panel for The Personal: Blogging For The Love of It. 

If you'll be at BlogHer, please come join a roomful of us who blog because of what it brings to our lives and how it's enriched our days. I know it's done that and more for me.

Click here to see the line up of BlogHer '12 presenters and :brushing imaginary lint off shoulders: I'm the fifth one down. *a cool little thing happens when you float the cursor over my picture*

Thank you all so much for being a huge part of why I know I will always live here online. Keeping this blog has been life changing for me and to say it has turned into one of the most unexpected joys in my life is an understatement. Because of your love, support and encouragement, I need to say Thank You. Thank you for reading my blog and linking to it on twitter and FB and passing it on to others. I humbly say I love every post I write here as well as the ones I've written for the other sites I'm fortunate enough to have opportunities with. These people believed in me and offered me a chance to stretch what I knew of myself, and because of that, incredible things* came my way.

I am humbled and grateful to be a part of your lives.

Life can be funny -- the parts that don't hurt, anyways -- if we write it down, even if what happens doesn't make sense to us. It may make no sense, but reading the words to the narrative of our lives helps us see the moment we're in.

All of you are 99.9 % of the wind in my sails and the strength behind my voice.

I appreciate you and can never thank you enough times.



*Part of 2011 Listen To Your Mother cast in Madison. Wisc. Part of 2012 The Moth cast, where I read live with Molly Ringwald. 2011 BlogHer Voice of The Year for Humor, where I read in San Diego.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We're Just Visiting

What does a little girl think, when she sees her family continue on as if they don't even realize they're in America? Why don't they even want to try and fit in with Americans?

What thoughts and answers pop into a five-year-old's head as she notices other families staring at her at the beach, curious about what her family packs and takes for a day in the sand?

There can only be one reason for this determined behavior... we are just visiting. My post today at TikiTikiBlog -- where I'm proud to be featured monthly.

TikiTiki -- cultura, color, y sabor!

A Latina blog celebrating Latin culture

Sunday, July 29, 2012

What Is The Serenity Suite At BlogHer?

Since 2006, BlogHer has been creating a place for conference attendees to find some quiet when they seek it; a comfortable room they can go to -- to help calm social anxiety nerves, take a breather, or just ::center:: (I can't be the only that needs to sit and press two fingers to my temples, alone). This year is no different.

That place is The Serenity Suite at BlogHer.

Last year, a team of dedicated and caring bloggers led by Maggie and Heather, made sure someone was always there to greet you as you walked through the door -- and they are back!

What the Serenity Suite is is an alcohol free zone, which makes it the perfectly convenient place to take a break away from booze and not have to be alone somewhere if you don't want to be.

 And there's a bit more:

This year will be very special. Serenity Suite will be honoring our beloved Susan Neibur, of whymommy, whom we lost much too early, this past February. We'll have note cards in the suite, where we want you to tell us your memories of Susan, or of anyone in your life that has battled or is now battling cancer. Write their names down, talk to us about them, let's have everyone who comes into the Serenity Suite know about them.
I am honored and excited to be one of the crew volunteering my time with The Serenity Suite this year. I'm so happy that The Suniverse will be there with me, on Thursday night, 7 - 9 p.m.

So if you find yourself in need of some personal space and wishing for a place to go, stop by and talk to us, or come and sit quietly. Take a nap if you'd like, sit and stare into space if that's what recharges your batteries. Whatever you need, we'll be your haven for as long as you need us to be.

Any way you're there, we'll take you. And we'll be so very pleased to meet you.

*The Serenity Suite will be located in suite 4246 at the Hilton*
  • Coffee, tea and water will be provided
  • If you are looking for an onsite recovery meeting the suite is the place for you!  Visit the suite and times will be posted.
  • Heather is updating her site often with new and exciting details - check it out!
P.S. For those of you in recovery (of any kind), we will have local recovery meeting times and locations available on site.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Who's Going To Find Out How To Get Blacklisted From The PTA

Buy the book
 Using Random Number Generator, the winner of the awesome book giveaway from last week, Lela Davidson's Blacklisted From The PTA, is commenter number 11.

Dear lovely Marta of LostandForgotten, you've won!

What you're going to receive is a personalized, autographed copy of  Lela Davidson's collection of over 60 very funny essays from her book, Blacklisted From the PTA, all guaranteed to make you feel normal in this world (no small thing.)

Congratulations! And thanks for entering this book giveaway. Please let me know your addy and what message you'd like Lela to write. You can have Kindle, if you'd prefer. Lela will be sending out the books the second week of August.

Thanks again to all who entered!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hazards of Summer

My husband thinks he was born with a grilling spatula in his hand. He assumes there's nothing to barbequeing: any one can do it. A can of charcoal lighter, a Weber grill, some briquets, and there you go.

But life, the great teacher, has taught him to bow down and make room for another: a griller who respects the power of the untamed fire flame.

At Aiming Low today, Lessons Learned from a once cocky grill-meister.

Respect the CharBroil, y'all.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Optimus Prime Across The Ages

My mother is a small woman. As she has become older, almost 88 years old now, her world has become small too. But there is one thing that has always been huge in her life, and that is my children.

My husband graciously and generously -- to the point that just typing this brings tears to my eyes --  drives 30 minutes to pick her up Sunday mornings at 8 a.m. He then drives 30 minutes back to our house, bringing her to spend the day with us and our three boys. It's a lot of work. She tires every few steps, she's unsteady on her cane and moves as if her bones were those of a bird -- fearful of a fall, knowing what a broken limb will do to her at this stage in her life.

When we pull into our garage, it takes the two of us to lift her out of the front seat of the van. We guide her to the ground, and with my husband leading and me closely behind her, she takes the three stairs into our house, one at a time. Opening the door to the back hallway, we enter and she thanks us for having the house cool and air conditioned. Two steps by two steps, I help her work her way deliberately across our long wooden kitchen floor, she leading with her cane.

"Your floors are too clean," she complains, her way of letting me know that they feel too slippery. With much relief, from both of us, she finally comes to rest at her place in the living room. I hold on to her right arm, and she shakily holds onto her cane, as she falls back into our 20-year-old weathered leather couch. I have found two extra-large square pillows that I keep there for her, placed upright behind her back to help her hold herself up. This is her chosen spot, in the middle of the house, where she can watch all that goes on while she's here.

We do everything that is normal for us that day, with my mother in the background. I ask our kids to stay downstairs when she visits, since I know she likes to feel their presence. She doesn't even need their words, she just likes to watch from where she is and see the strong bodies of youth as they get up from the floor where they're sitting reading the Sunday paper, moving as if it's the easiest thing in the world to do.

Our house has a floor plan where there are no walls. Fancily called "open concept." I like it because I can be in the kitchen, in the center of the house, and my three children can be anywhere else downstairs, and I will still see and hear them. Funny how much like my mother I am in that way -- needing to see flashes of the three of them as they run from room to room.

To keep everyone engaged while I'm busy getting her small lunch ready, I let the kids marathon it with Netflix. On Sundays when my mother is over, they watch Transformers and Tron and The Regular Show until their eyeballs turn inside out. It keeps them all together and I don't care.

Optimus versus Megatron

The little one's favorite show is Transformers, good guy and bad guy robots who come to life and battle for Earth. His hero: Optimus Prime, the leader of the good guys who is trying to keep Earth out of the hands of the bad guys, who are headed up by the evil Megatron. My son and his grandmother decide to watch this show first. He leans against her, and together they sit on the brown leather sofa that has softened with age as much as she has.

I'm at the stove stirring a small soup for her lunch, and soon I'm reaching for my notebook and pen to write what I hear as my ten-year-old son explains in English to his 88-year-old Colombian grandmother who answers back in Spanish, about the scene unfolding between the two robot leaders today:

Oh, mijo. He is mad. Who is that one that is so mad? 

That's Megatron, Nona. He's the bad guy. He's a bad leader, too, he never fights. But he wants the good guy's job.

The good guy? The one I like? That one?

Yeah. That red and blue one. He's a good leader. He gets in and fights on all the battles but Megatron just gives orders and even his own guys hate him.

Then they should overthrow him. Like my government did to their leader.

They can't. They don't have enough guys. There's only five of the bad ones. The good guy has the most guys.

Then they need you. You should go with the good one.

I would, but the bad ones like being bad. Hear their laughs? They like being bad.

You would be good and destroy that bad one. You are strong and smart.

I would fight with Optimus because I know tricks to beat Megatron.

You need to do it then. If you fight with that good guy, you would win. You would be the best one and you would beat that bad one.

Yeah. I know.

You would beat him. I know it.

Megatron wants Earth. That's why Optimus has to fight him for it. I love you, Nona. I like it when you come.

Me, too, hijo mio. I like to come here. Who is that new one now that is so mad? He is upset.

Oh, that's Starscream. Remember? He's a double crosser.

You have to tell that to the good one then.

I know. Optimus always believes Starscream and then Starscream tricks him.

They need you, mijo.

I would tell Optimus to never believe Starscream. Wanna watch the next episode, Nona? Mom? Can we watch another episode?

I put my spoon down and join them in the living room. I want to enjoy the show as much as the both of them are, but I am an outsider. I only see a cartoon of  animated robots: the good guy fighting for planet Earth, the bad guy wanting to conquer planet Earth. I know how it ends.

But my mother and my ten-year-old son: they've entered a shared world; one where the destiny of Earth is in the balance. My mother looks at her grandson and sees him as the critical link to winning this battle, and my son looks into his grandmother's eyes and sees himself her hero. 

Image via photopin

**I've been tweeting lately of my mother's visits. Thank you to all of you, for your kind responses and words of love this past weekend. All of you, make such a difference in my life. xo

Monday, July 23, 2012

ICYMI Monday Ed.

This week's internet had so much good stuff: hilarious, sweet, interesting, unique findings. I am loving this In Case You Missed It series because I get to share some of the greatness out there with all of you.

As I read posts during the week, I know right away which ones have to be on my ICYMI list. I truly hope you have time to click on one or two:

--One of the internet's brightest, Ann Imig, and her post, Sprung: about that first moment after years of living breathing doing MOTHERING and The Kids are one day all gone at the same time -- away at camp -- and you have hours, hours spread out before you, that are yours. Funny, funny, and bittersweet as I recall how lost I felt the first time my kids were out of the house for summer. *oh wait that's someone else's life, mine are still here. every second

--From a very funny woman I met on twitter, Kathy, of Diary of a Return-to-work-mom, and what mommy porn is to her: it's the sound of her house being cleaned by a cleaning service. So funny.

--Finally, via BuzzFeed: reminding us to never give up on our dreams. 82-year-old Jacqueline Murdock, who's dreamed of being a model her entire life, and now is. She was recently hired by Lanvin for their fall collection. The photos of her are beautiful.

Happy reading!

**Summer wearing you down? Looking for spark/inspiration/commiseration? Stop on over and check out my weekly parenting column at milwaukeemoms.com .

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ooooh, Baby, Baby, I'm Not A Wild One ...

A lot of the blog posts here are a reflection of me coming into my own.

Having the gift of the internet to be able to put my words, thoughts, introspection out there to find someone, or have someone find me. How this has led to the sweet acceptance of myself is a post for another day, but ...

In the meantime, here's a post today, at Aiming Low, where I wax wistfully about the kinds of texts I'll never get.

*sigh* File under: Know thyself. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reasons Why I Wouldn't Get Blacklisted From The PTA

Buy the book
Lela Davidson became my BlogHer '11 Conference* BFF after I gave her all my Free Drink Tickets at the Aiming Low* (awesome site I write for)  party in San Diego last year. Girl wouldn't leave my side till the lights went out. Lela wrote the hilarious book with the kickin' cover you see on the side here. It's called Blacklisted From The PTA, and she is celebrating her baby's one year release this month.

I was lucky enough to hear Lela do a live reading from this master collection of her essays at the Listen To Your Mother open mic salon at BlogHer '11, where she brought a roomful of women to the desperate act of having to cross their legs, tight, from laughing so hard. I'd get the book just for the sheer hawtness of the cover, but the 62 essays inside of less than perfect mothering and wifing moments are pure gold. And since I've seen Lela in real life, I can tell you - those are her legs.

Where Lela does the job, via her hilarious you-can't-choose-just-one-favorite-essay, of telling us how to get blacklisted from the PTA along with a lot of other things to get BL'd from -- like almost by your doula, almost by your crunchy new mom's diaper bag club ... I can tell you why I'd never be blacklisted from the PTA.

Because before you can get blacklisted from the PTA, you have to first be socially acceptable enough to make it into the PTA.

Here are the top reasons why I'd never make it past the radar of the PTA powers-that-be:

#10 - I'm a 'good-enough' girl. Slap whatever sticker on whatever envelope in whatever way - good enough. Fly through that pile of 500 bulk fund raising mailers and cram them down the mailbox's slot like a teenager on red bull because the coffee house and a day without kids cannot wait.

#9 - I am not enthusiastic. I am not competitive. I am Type Z. I don't care to out-do anyone. I will not try to sell the most wrapping paper or caramel turtles or fundraiser car wash tickets. Someone else can win Top PTA Seller Lady, and I would rejoice with them.  

#8 - I use box cake mix. That won't work for the cake walk. And it's generic.

#7 -  Agendas and sticking to them make me antsy and I'd be shouting out inappropriate jokes and texting you and not taking anything seriously about 45 minutes into any meeting. Any meeting. Things get especially bad if the word *balls* comes up. (omg, dying, did you hear that? She said the third grade teacher needs more balls *snort*)

#6 - I like to make up my own procedures and can't do something the same way twice. Ask my kids' principal about the special letter that came home in my son's backpack re: school drop off protocol. Traffic sometimes just needs to be re-routed, you know, just to see if maybe it works better a different way.

#5 - I'm OK with schools showing PG movies without the P being around.

#4 - I'm not organized, I lose important things, like birth certificates. I am not the one you want to entrust with any matters like the letters written from every teacher compilation book for Mr. Luebtke's last day after teaching for 42 years -- it's just not a good idea.

#3 - I have had it up to here with the class celebratory snack items being changed to roasted cauliflower/kale/broccoli/carrots/you choose. What is wrong with a Little Debbie snack cake around 11 a.m.? Nothing, that's what.

#2 - The Christmas decorations at our house get left up until March. You do not want me on the school decorating committee. The kids will think Santa brought the Cadbury eggs.

#1 - My idea of original is the end-of-year teacher classroom gifts being one of those giant mugs filled with packets of tea, coffee, cocoa. Like the kind you see 50 of in the teacher's car trunk.

In my life, I know I'll never see what's on the other side of that PTA door. And I'll always know it's best that way, kind of like the one day I tried to work as a bank teller -- some things are best left to the pros.


Why all the Lela Lela Lela talk here today? Because Lela Davidson, author of  Blacklisted from the PTA, is celebrating her bookaversary with all of us here! Her book is turning one and Because she’s awesome, she’s offered to give away a signed copy to a blog reader here today. *I know*

Her book is as hilarious as her trailer here:


Here's all you have to do to try and win Lela's book:

  • Leave a comment telling why you would never make it to the PTA door, either.
  • One week from today, I’ll use random.org to select a winner.
  • The second week of August, Lela will ship your signed copy directly to you.
If you can’t wait that long to read Blacklisted from the PTA, you can order a copy today. Or get it for your kindle. (Did Lela really get blacklisted from the PTA? Yes she did. So, either way, I'd get the book just to find out why.)

Good luck, and here's to the lucky winner to be!
*BlogHer: world's largest social media conference for women. Held first week in August with attendees up to 4500 in number. Last year held in San Diego, this year in NYC. 
*AimingLow: awesome humor site I write for. The funniest writers on the internet, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Maybe It's Not So Common Sense

It was 6:45 p.m. on Saturday night; my husband and three children would be walking in through that back door coming home from the pool -- starving -- within seconds. And I had no dinner on the table; not only no dinner but I wasn't even close to being ready for them to be home yet. After years of marriage, I automatically jumped into action. Quickly scooping out a teaspoonful of minced garlic in olive oil, I tossed it into a small pyrex bowl and started the microwave.

15 ... 10 ... 5 ... 0 ... bing. Voila! I open the microwave door and let the smells of what could be interpreted as someone hard at work in the kitchen fill the air. Next, I pull the kitchen stools up on top of the island to give a semblance of the floors having just been washed. Taking the vacuum cleaner out of the hallway closet, I set it in the middle of the living room--laying flat on the ground, as if I had been interrupted by say, someone walking in?

Common sense illusions, setting the stage like the famous Rice Krispies Treats Faker Mom commercial, showing how busy and dedicated I was all day while they were out. That's how you do it. Everyone knows this, don't they?

This past weekend, while zapping the garlic in the microwave, the thought occurred to me: maybe my fellow bloggers that I love so much DON'T know how it's done.

So I'm sharing with all of you today, because I love you:

Super fast tricks and stagings, to make it look like You are worth your weight in gold:

--Pull laundry out of the dryer and don't let it sit in the basket; instead spread it out on the front room floors and sofa, to show you were just working on it when they walked in.

--Always keep an 8-qt pot with water on the stove and a wooden spoon near by. At the first sound of a doorknob jiggling, run to the stove and start stirring. I swear, from behind you'll look exactly like you're making soup.

--Between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., always have your hair pulled up in a work ponytail and an apron on your body. Looking dressed and ready for the job.

-- Keep some Windex, a roll of paper towels, a toilet scrub brush, and a bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles in a plastic shoebox container under every single sink in the house. When you hear someone come home, pull out the box and set it up outside of the bathroom door, looking like you're in the middle of scrubbing those stubborn hard water stains.

--At all times during the day, have a cutting board on the kitchen counter or island, a knife along side, and an onion or tomato chopped in half with a few wedges to the side. Looks like you are in the midst of something really good.

--Keep a notebook and pen in a handy place near the phone. If you have only a few seconds notice that someone is about to walk in, grab the notebook, pen, and phone; sit down in a chair, and play out an exasperating phone call to an insurance company. Rub your face with your hand and let them see you roll your eyes. Your significant other will be so grateful that you've saved them from these hell's fires that they'll blow you kisses as they walk past you.

--Never lay in the backyard hammock or chaise without your gardening gloves on, kneeling pad close by, and a paper bag with a few token weeds inside. The stage is set that; obviously, you're just taking a break from weeding, I mean: your gloves are on.

--And my most desperate ace in the back pocket that I save for when the day has been a total bust and it's only me to blame: I tie a scarf around my head with an ice pack underneath while wearing sunglasses in the house. The whole family knows the Migraine Get-Up, and no one dares ask "what did you do all day?" when they know it could get as ugly as a bear waking up early from hibernation. *note: it's not a lie if you don't ever say you have a migraine. I never say I have a migraine. This is one case where assume doesn't make an a** out of u or me.

Sneaky, yes. Worth it? You got it. Does it work? My husband and children reply with this, when describing me, "She works so hard for all of us. Really. She's always working. We hit the jackpot."

You know what they say about the best relationships; both sides feel like they got the better end of the deal.

And now I've got to get to bed: big plans tomorrow; Meg Ryan Marathon on TMC. Setting up the minced garlic as we speak.

Image via photopin

**An internet friend I've known for almost two years now, the wonderfully real Erin Margolin, is recovering from surgery. She's called in a few reinforcements to lighten the load for her while she recuperates. I am proud to be helping Erin heal, and I have a post there today, on something in my life I never anticipated.

I hope to see you there, and I know you'll love meeting Erin, from The Road To My Writer Roots.

Monday, July 16, 2012

ICYMI - Monday Ed.

I am impressed at how long I've stuck with the In Case You Missed It meme: this is my fourth entry, and I still like doing this, I still like reading the ICYMI at other sites.

It's a nice clear, easy way to get the word out on bloggers you want to give some notice to and posts from the week you'd like everyone to read.

This week's ICYMI, Monday Morning Style:

I've been following Brian Miller of WayStationOne for over two years now. His poetry and vignettes always give me the silent moment in my day where I leave his site with a sense of meditation having had happened. This one, became a story in my head, and I love that.

Schmutzie. I have talked and tweeted about the Canadian wonder Schmutzie more times than I can remember. But this post here, on what is in your internet, and how it gets there, needs to be a Pinterest Poster (how ever you all do that)

My talented, hilarious editor at Aiming Low has a great post this week. No, this is not blowing sunshine up her young tiny butt. She posts in her eloquent, funny, wise, poignant way, on working and family and balance. Una LaMarche of Sassy Curmudgeon. Best reading around.

And this. What I've found out for myself: from Daily Blog Tips. How blogging improves your daily life communication. Good reading on what finding your voice does for you in this world.


--I am proud to be featured today at Jessica's site, FourPlusanAngel . So honored that she thought of me when she decided to pull together a Summer Smile Festival at her place, with the likes of funny funny blogging women like Poppy from FunnyorSnot, JulieCGardner, Kelley'sBreakRoom, and Leslie of Bearded Iris.

I write there today about the slapintheface a first vacation as a mother is. Yah. Things change.

Thank you so much, Jess!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

I'm OK Until I Touch It

If you don't have a scale, then you don't have to look at how much you weigh.

If you don't use a mirror, then you don't have to see how you look in last year's swim suit.

Without ever posing for a picture, you can sail down that river called DeNial for ever.

BUT what do you do when you've given in to too many nights of "I'll skip the gym this time." You know, where your body reaches the point of  "feel" reminders of how you spent most of your winter: as a couch potato.

My Aiming Low post today: When you're old, flabby, and touchy.

Aiming Low, where we strive for the mediocre.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Things I Eat Now Because I Can And I Never Had As A Kid

Did you know that you can make a soup out of anything? Ears of corn five for a dollar at the market? Bring 'em on home. Boil the bejeebus out of them, puree, add milk, cilantro and Voila! soup.

Left over potatoes? Boil away on superflame! Then mash them down and drown them in the big four: salt, pepper, garlic, onion. Ring that dinner bell now...

With a family of six children and being new to this country, money was tight for us growing up. My grandmother was adept in the kitchen and truly could whip anything up into a serving-stretching soup. I'm surprised that I, or any of my brothers and sisters, have a tooth left in our mouths today since we never got to use our choppers for much. It was all slurp and swallow.

As much as I loved my grandmother's beef rib SOUP and milk leek SOUP, there were meals I'd fantasize about as a little girl. Oh those covers from Family Circle and Good Housekeeping that would sit up on the display shelves of the grocery check out lane. Pictures of the stoneware of the day shown overflowing with heaping, spilling golden macaroni and cheese, or brown gravy spilling out of a volcano cratered monster scoop of mashed potatoes along side toasty breaded pork chops. Or -- the one thing I'd bargain for in my prayers -- fried chicken! with biscuits!

Sigh. Those meals were never to be for me in my childhood home-on-a-budget, but I became so very skilled at weaseling invites to my American friends' houses, where their American mothers would be servin' up and ladlin' out those fine abundant American meals of  fried chicken, smothered potatoes, Parker House rolls with butter dripping off the top. I was an amazing eater on my visits to these homes, and my friends' mothers loved me. Who doesn't love a skinny little grateful kid who gobbles up everything set before them like they're coming off a juice fast, praises galore after each swallow? I mean, I could barely understand how these friends of mine weren't gushing all over their moms' cooking.

None of us ever grow up, really. We take on our adult form, but inside we remain the little child we once were; still wishing for that very same thing we never got enough of. When I do the weekly grocery shopping for my family of five, I can't help it --  I always get myself something from my Food Bucket Wish List, ages six through twelve. The meals I used to daydream about. I pick up something off of my list -- getting it from the deli is the most authentic way to go -- and sit in the car after shopping and eat it. By myself, and satisfyingly alone in my gluttonous joy.

Every Saturday morning I'll leave my family of three boys at home and whiz through PiknSave getting through the family shopping list and then my own: tossing in jello cubes rolled in Cool Whip or BBQ glazed meatloaf with a canned peach on top. I get to the store before noon so that the 100 percent real beef frankfurters wrapped in bacon are still plentifully plumped up and not shriveled from the heat lamp. I'll order 8 ounces of green bean and cream of mushroom bake, I'll go for the double serving of toasted crumb top macaroni and cheese. Getting to the store before 2 p.m. guarantees me a nice standing slab of mozzarella topped lasagna. Window shopping past the deli-of-dreams display case I'll ask for egg rolls, creamy tuna salad, hojo potatoes, beef stroganoff, beef tips in mushroom sauce, stuffed pork chops, deep fried haddock and home-made poor boys on crunchy submarine rolls. All things I'd lay in bed and promise that I'd eat some day when I was in charge of me.

I get these things now because I can. I'm not really hungry as much as I feel it's making up for lost time. Getting those things that I always dreamed of into my mouth.

To me, it's celebrating my fortunate life. For five dollars and two bits, it's like a clink of  glasses to myself with how well things turned out to be for me. I mean, lookame, getting the things I used to wish for. Like a boss.

I come back home from errands, stuffed, but still sit down to a meal with three children that I adore and a man who is good to me. My husband thinks I am the daintiest eater he's ever seen; but if you look very closely, you'll see the golden crumbs of item number three from my Food Bucket List, freshly sitting right there on the corners of my mouth, ready to give away my blessed secret life.


**Holy cow! My post is syndicated at BlogHer today! Always a thrill to have a post picked up for the pages there ... validation of the highest order. If you feel like it, please stop by and sparkle/comment/read/tweet/hurray it. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

How To Be Cool In Another Language

There is such mystery and seductiveness that surrounds those that know another language. Something about words that you don't know said with an accent so different from yours, that piques your interest and draws you to them, leaving you wanting to be so close to that person.

I'm happily visiting the brilliant blogger, Nancy Kho, at her always interesting blog, MidLife MixTape, where I'm guest posting today, handing out tantalizing tidbits of phrases you can quickly learn to say *and be sexy* in another language.

Be hot and BA before tonight's baked chicken and mushroom dinner is set on the table. Come visit at MidLife MixTape for Colombianisms, 101.

Te veo pronto, chica.



**Holy cow! My post is syndicated at BlogHer today! I'm lucky enough to receive an email telling me a post I submitted to BlogHer is being syndicated. It is always a thrill to have a post picked up for the pages there ... validation of the highest order. If you feel like it, please stop by and sparkle/comment/read/tweet/hurray it. Thank you.

And THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH, BlogHer. You have added so much to my life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Why I'll Be At BlogHer Again

Photo by Bitchin' Amy BlogHer San Diego

When you've been mothering for 17 years, a lot of you becomes a P.S. in your life. And that's a decision I don't ever regret. Devotion and Mad Crushes on my children have filled in my resume since 1995.

But for one brief shining moment in August of 2011, I had Camelot. Camelot in the form of the BlogHer '11 conference in San Diego. *(BlogHer: world's largest conference for women in social media. 4,500 attendees anticipated in NYC, where it's being held this year, August 3 and 4)* The decision to go was a hasty one: I had been plucked out of my life and thrown into someone else's by being chosen as a BlogHer Voice of The Year for Humor. I now HAD to be there.

Using his frequent flyer miles, my husband was able to find me an affordable plane ticket; I work two part-time jobs and used the money from that to buy my BlogHer conference pass. The universe threw in a helping hand: as back up, my in-laws live in LaJolla, so I had a place to stay if it was too late to find room mates.

My closest, oldest blogging friends were going: Shari from Earth Mother Just Means I'm Dusty, who was my first follower, and my beloved Varda of Squashed Mom. I sent them emails in a supplicating panic, exploding with the news of VOTY, and asking if they could spare floor space for an itty bitty little lady who'd bring her own sleeping bag. They were gracious and generous enough to let me room with them. And, not to say I'm a talisman or anything, BUT Shari AND Varda are BOTH 2012 BlogHer Voice of The Year at this year's BlogHer. Just a thought to ponder ... should I ever ask you for a favor.

I never thought that I'd attend a BlogHer conference. Going to a BlogHer conference was something for The Blogging Giants, but not me. I instinctively discounted myself because BlogHer was Big Time; the world's biggest conference for the world's biggest bloggers. Established veterans who sit 'round the campfire telling tales of yore of when everyone visited everyone's blog and commented. Legends who were of the days when Pioneer Woman only had 45 followers.

This conference was for the seasoned and experienced. Those with an online life since 2006 and before, with names known on the internet. Who the heck was I to think that I had a space among those doing the real thing?

I was someone who blogged for the connection, the fun, the friendships, the joy of writing, the love of making people laugh. I began my blog as a hopeful attempt at finding others to add into my life, and nothing more. That this blogging thing would be life changing; that I did not see coming. The amazing, talented people I've met through blogging, the change in my step since I began writing, the way I now stand with my shoulders back proud to be who I am: these words are the understatement of my life.

But with the plane ticket set, the hotel room taken care of, and BlogHer requiring that you be in attendance in order to be a VOTY, it looked like I'd be going to BlogHer. The only thing I had left to do was a run to TJMaxx. After 50 minutes there, I left with a shopping cart containing two sun dresses, two cocktail dresses, two pairs of sandals, four T shirts, one stretchy black skirt, a pair of chunky earrings, and my first pair of straight leg jeans. I was on my way.

There was a blogger that I love going and she'd be flying into San Diego at the same time, coming in from NY. We made plans to meet at the airport, and though I was relieved to have someone meet me when I landed, I still wobbled out of the terminal's tunnel sweaty-palmed and as unsure footed as a sixth grade girl in her first pair of heels. I saw a brunette holding a hand-lettered sign that read "Empress" and grateful tears sprang to my eyes from this gesture on Kablooey's part. She made me feel like a rock star, and I think I gave her a heart attack with the way I fell into her arms.

We spent an hour together and it felt more like 15 minutes. Talking about everything as fast as we could, never with a lull in our conversation. We would see each other later that night, and she left to meet a friend in San Diego, and I went to find a way to the San Diego Marriott.

I knew finding an Information Desk would be a good idea, and that's where I headed. I was hoping for a shuttle to BlogHer, but only cabs were available. There was a short woman with long, long hair standing next to me in a swirly mini-sundress, bare legs in riding boots, and a flowing purple chiffon scarf almost as long as she was tied around her neck. She was looking for a way to the hotel, too. I forced myself out of my shell and  invited her to share a cab with me and she took me up on my offer. Driving to the hotel, I introduced myself and gave her my card. She handed me hers and my mouth dropped open as soon as I instantly recognized the clean black on white design of the Gibson Girl from the 1900's in the upper corner.

"You're Blogging Dangerously!" I said with wide open eyes. "I follow you!"  In my head, true to my corny roots, I said You're not in Kansas anymore. (I actually did)

We pulled up to a hotel that stood glistening in the 2:00 p.m. sun like the city of Oz. She jumped out of the cab and with one expert swoop, picked up her luggage, paid half the fare, and was inside the lobby while I still stood there stuffing the crumpled ten dollar bill change from her into the back pocket of my new jeans. I shouted "Hope to see you later!" as I watched the hair on the back of her head swing back and forth with the speed of her steps. Tripping over the suitcases that our driver had set on the pavement, I made my way to the dream-like open air entrance of the San Diego Marriot Marquis. I stood in the lobby, taking a deep breath of relief of finally arriving in one piece at the right place. The sight of the sparkling waters of the marina behind the registration desk made the day seem even more surreal.

I was here, at a BlogHer conference.

Pulling my luggage up to the clerk at the check-in desk, I stammered about needing a key, could I get a key? My other room mates weren't here yet -- I was here by myself -- where should I go until they show up? With my elbows on the counter, I rose up on my toes as my panic began to rise with a feeling of being in over my head. As I realized where I was -- BlogHer -- I thought what the heck am I doing here? Seconds-fast doubts started filling my mind by the bucketfuls -- telling myself I shouldn't be at BlogHer. What in the world was I thinking? This is too big and I'm not blogger enough for it.

My mouth began to set firm in the conviction that I had made the wrong choice, but then I turned around and every single dark thought flew out of my head like bats leaving a cave. I had spotted Polly Pagenhart and that million dollar smile of hers. Polly blogs at Lesbian Dad and is BlogHer's Conference Program Director; she had been emailing me about VOTY specifics. With a smile I needed more than words can say, she held out both arms open to me. Let me tell you, this woman knows just what to do and can read a face in a flash. I did go for that hug, and I did hold on longer than socially appropriate; but a soul knows what a soul needs. The sincere warmth of Polly's hug and her genuine joy at meeting me was just the reassurance I needed right then, for so many reasons.

I grinned at her like an idiot until we said good-bye, knowing we'd see each other again over the next few days. Not knowing what to do with myself until my room mates arrived, I went outside to the pool that I had seen in the background behind the lobby desk. I was wearing my fussy.com T shirt because it always makes me feel BA, my new straight legged jeans, and the shiny black wedge sandals with the price sticker still fresh on the bottom. I grabbed a chaise near the outdoor bar, and set my suitcases next to me. Laying down with one of the biggest sighs of my life, I closed my eyes to catch my breath and still my pounding heart. I eavesdropped on the conversations around me:

"My page views skyrocket after stumbleupon, but my food posts don't get so much traffic."

"I know. But salads do well. Especially in summer. So does Wordless Wednesday."

"Oh, dude. I love Wordless Wednesday. Whoever came up with that is a genius."

"Yeah. Sign me up for Wordless Wednesday, Silent Saturday, Mute Monday..."

Giggles of laughter, clinking of wine glasses, smiles you could hear.

Silly as it sounds, tears slid out of the outer corners of my eyes while listening to these women. I couldn't believe where I was and it felt magical to be among others who understood the world of blogging when so many in my real world didn't. Every word these women were saying sounded so beautifully familiar. Like what it must feel like to someone who's lived in this country longer than they can remember and they finally hear their mother tongue again. After spending a lifetime feeling like I never fit in anywhere, I finally felt like I had found my planet.

And where I was at this moment, felt like home.

With my face in the hot August sun, I sat smiling. A day's worth of travel grime on my all ready too hot black T shirt, too tight jeans that were scorching my thighs, and a lump of happiness in my throat. I belonged here.

I had found the mothership.
**If you're thinking about attending a BlogHer conference, I hope you decide to do it. It is a lifetime chance, and the memories you'll make are the kind that change you forever. Seeing people you talk to daily online, meeting them in the flesh, is a feeling I can't put to words. 

I hope to see you there. I'm thrilled to be presenting as part of a panel, 10:30 a.m. Opening Day, along with Dorothy Snarker and Bon Stewart, aptly titled "Blogging For The Love of It." 

Please stay around afterward, and say hello. I'd love to meet you; shake your hand, hug you: you let me know what's comfortable for you. It's always so fun to see a 2D avi you've followed for months, finally speak. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

ICYMI On A Monday, And That's OK

We've been deliriously busy over here having a helluva time over the 4th. Water parks, spine scraping body tube rides, six dollar snow cones, and monokinis made for supermodels worn by middle aged women with stretch marks. And that's just me.

BUT, never too busy to pass up a chance to spread the word on some great internet reads.

My In Case You Missed It, Monday edition, because it's summer and we can do that:

--Why is The Flying Chalupa so easy to love? Because of posts like these: Patience. What we tell our children, what we whisper back to ourselves. (my gosh but I love this girl) 

--John, of The Adventures of Daddy Runs A Lot. Such a great blogger. And friend. If you're not following any guys, this one here is a great start. I love when he talks blog. Love it so much. John, with "The Direction of My Blog."

--And this will blow your mind. Brought to my attention, thanks to the with-it-ness of Ann Imig. A parenting piece on the spoiled children of America, and the consequences of such. In The New Yorker. And, yeah: a must read.

--Still laughing/dying over this bit of genius from The Onion: "Keith Richards's Housekeeper Steeling Herself Daily For Past Thirty Years To Walk In And Find Keith Dead."  *dying*

Love you guys. Enjoy this summer! xo

**Need some parenting reassurance? Want to see my serious side? Come over to MilwaukeeMoms.com and follow my weekly parenting column. Yeah -- I've learned a few things in 17 years of parenting.xo

Friday, July 6, 2012

Too Much Internet Can Make You Feel Too Normal

The days of questioning angst, hours spent madly scribbling away in the pages of my seventh grade diary of How No Single Living Soul in this universe could possibly understand what it feels like to be meee. Introspection's weight upon my fragile esteem as I would determinedly search my mind for the perfect words that would fill in that day's journal entry; words that would come as close as possible to describing my feelings exactly. This pretty much describes how I would spend my Saturday afternoons when I was twelve years old. For me, who else was there to talk to that would understand, besides me?

If the internet, and facebook, and twitter, and texting had existed back in the days of Charlie's Angels, would I have grown up to be someone who writes to connect?

It's a question I ponder today at Aiming Low. With the immediacy and ease of today's instant virtual connection, maybe our children don't have to turn inward to find someone who understands them anymore. Is Social Media making our kids feel too normal? Let me know what you think, at Aiming Low, where mediocrity is what we hope for.

**I Hope your Fourth was great!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

No, It Is Not Hot Enough For Me

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
 --Margaret Mead

Summer, with its beauty, is not without its thorns. Every 15 seconds during this long awaited favorite season of the year, when hit by hot, very hot weather, we are subjected to one of the most rhetorical, purposeless phrases of our language. As if the sting of salty sweat dripping from our brow into our eyes wasn't enough, we must also be asked "Hot enough for ya?"

Wiping at the shimmering drops on our foreheads with the front of our hands, for the 20th time in a day upon hearing this phrase that means "hot," we once again pull our lips into a Jim Halpert in the confessional forced smile and reply, "sure is." What else can we say?

Not wanting to be labeled the neighborhood nut, we can't answer sarcastically, "If you're asking me, I like it about 40 degrees warmer," nor give them an Angela-esque, "No, as a matter of fact, it is not hot enough for me. Is it hot enough for you?"  But how else do we answer? Rolling our eyes and smacking their question back to them with, "Really?* Hot enough for ya?* Is that the best you got?" isn't going to work. [at least I can't - I live in a small town and news of who's the latest crazy travels fast #Lessons Learned File No. 47]

How much less annoying these fry an egg on the sidewalk days would be if we didn't play the you don't like saying it and I don't like hearing it game of "Hot Enough For Ya?"

All it takes is one person to take up the fight and say Enough! One person, one thought, one cry of No More!

Let's take "Hot Enough For Ya" and make it history.

Let's educate, raise awareness, and the best action plan of all: Offer Alternatives.

 Other Things You Can Say Besides Hot Enough For Ya

-It's 50 shades of red out here!

-It's hotter than that metal slide at the park they put in during FDR's New Deal Act of 1939. Burns my kids' thighs off every year but no one in this town seems to want to get rid of it. (might as well make it serve your personal agenda)

-How about plain and simple: "Dang hot out today, isn't it?"

-You know that 100 degree heat index they're talking about? They're talking about in the shade. Stand in the sun and you'd better have that Dr. on speed dial because you've got guaranteed heat stroke, my friend. Guaranteed.

-It's so hot I'd even pay Starbucks the 5 bucks they want for one of their frappe mocha chino latte ice chiller frosties.

-It's so hot Chuck Norris is starting to sweat.

-Me? Hot? Not anymore since I started talking Celsius. 95 degrees F = 35 degrees C ahhhhh...
-I'm about to sleep naked! Right here!

-It's so hot it's affecting my thinking. Tom Cruise seems sane.

-Looks like it's another one of those days! Where everybody takes a picture of their dashboard thermometer and puts it on facebook!

-If it weren't for the way this weather makes me look like I need hormone replacement therapy, I'd love it. 

-The temperature today could shatter a thermometer. And that scares me. Do they still use mercury? (worth a shot at the possibility of conversation and maybe making a new friend. Delirium does funny things and people let their guard down)

-Had a dream last night that I was the sun.

-Decide that an Excessive Heat Advisory gives you the license to lose it and say this, ALL of this: "Hot summer streets and the pavement is burning, trying to smile but the air is heavy and dry. Too close for comfort and this heat has got right out of control. It's a cruel ... cruel ... cruel summer." 

-It's so hot I saw two trees fighting over a dog. (not really, but could get you a chuckle)

-Whew. Don't know about you but something about wearing white underwear just makes me feel cooler.

A fire starts with a single flare. The single flare of taking a match to the Hot Enough For Ya automatic phrase of summer. I believe none of us really ever wants to say it in the first place, and now we can say what we really mean instead. Which is, I'd get in line for a water baptism today.


*Happy Fourth to all of you!

**I'm thrilled that a post I submitted to mamapedia is up today: "How To Be An Embarrassment To Your Teen." Come. Read. Join me, in the very special club of causing embarrassment to your offspring by the mere act of breathing.

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's Summer Vacation and You Can Do That

Yeah, I'm a day late, and I used to be the type that if it couldn't be done when it was supposed to be done, then don't do it.

But the beauty in getting older is an aaakk, it's fine. Day late is better than not at all way of life that is growing on me.

Monday morning, and my ICYMI is up (in case you missed it) a day late, because it's summer, and you can do that.

The funnest/sweetest/make you pause posts I came across on the internet this week.

--Just a handful of people make me laugh like this woman. Alice Bradley of Finslippy, this post here: where she lets us in on the reason why we all love eavesdropping on marital spats so much.

-- There are so many interesting amazing people to follow on the internet. BernThis is one of them. Here's a bit here from a stand up routine she once did. Amazingly funny.(*caution: swears)

--And here's WendiAarons (one of the handful) cracking me up with a 4th of July pledge we can all get behind: independence from the best dang 4th of July sales events Ev-Er! 

--Here's a site I subscribe to and have learned a lot from. DailyWritingTips. The one I liked there this week: Good Advice about Bad Writing.

Have a great week!

*Jiminy, kids. I hear you. 10:00 I know, I know ... we're leaving in a minute. Cripes.



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