Category Archives: Parenting

Missing the Kodak Moment on the First Day of School

I am a terrible mother.

Today was the first day of the 2012-2013 school year. I dropped off Mary at the middle school gate, walked Jake to our local elementary school and into his new class, and since Emily is in high school I just gave her a firm kick out the front door. After my kids were tightly locked down into their three respective LA Unified schools, I came home, poured myself another cup of coffee and posted the following to my Facebook page:

“It feels so weird to have the house to myself.”

I hit “post” and then proceeded to read my friends’ News Feed for the morning.

That’s when I realized I deserved the Worst Mother of the Year Award.

Every single post of every single parent of a school-aged child had already uploaded a photo of their little angel’s first day of school. The kiddos were carrying Angry Bird lunch boxes and had Dora the Explorer backpacks over their shoulder blades and their spotless shoes were glittering and their shiny outfits were so new the tags were probably pulled off on the way to class. They were posing with old friends and new teachers, clutching siblings, and wiping the tears away from their sobbing parents.

I, on the other hand, had completely forgotten about that precious Kodak moment. And now it was too late.

It’s not like I could barge into my 16-year old’s French III class with my iPhone blazing. “Excusez-moi, Madam,” I could have said, and that would be the end of it since I don’t speak French. Then I’d take a quick snapshot of my daughter hiding under her desk. For the rest of her high school career, she would be known as That girl with the crazy paparazzi mom.

I wouldn’t have been allowed to sneak into my 11-year old’s drama production class and loudly proclaim to her teacher that being the thespian that he is, he should understand why I must stop the class in their tracks from learning a Shakespeare sonnet or a David Mamet play or some improv demonstration where they all pretend to be caterpillars just so my daughter can be seen on the big screen (big depending on how large your computer monitor is). Normally I humiliate her just by breathing. This stunt would have pushed her so far over the edge that she probably have come home and tried to OD on gummy vitamins.

And now that my baby boy is a big 1st grader, he’d be completely mortified if I popped into his new class and interrupted a lively reading of Junie B. Jones.

“Stand over here next to Hendrix and say ‘cheese!’”

Then I’d reposition him and shove another of his soon-to-be-former friends into the group.

“Let’s do another one with Charlotte since you weren’t smiling.”

Then he’d excuse himself to go to the little boys’ room and never come back.

I could have had my first day of school Facebook photos. But alas, I missed my moment.

So here’s my re-creation:

I took it after my kids got home. Notice that Emily and Mary are already wearing their pajama bottoms.

It’s too late to capture that first day of school moment. But at least I still have time to embarrass my kids.

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Filed under Anxiety, Family, Humor, Kids, Parenting, Public Schools, Teenagers

The Mom Olympics

Pumping up for the Mom Olympics

I’ve never really been into spectator sports, unless of course it involves watching my 5-year old son in Toluca Baseball and praying that he stops playing in the dirt. I love going to see the Dodgers, but if they suddenly closed the concessions stands and I couldn’t wolf down a Dodger Dog, I probably wouldn’t fork out the 50 bucks. And although I love his enthusiasm, I just don’t see my husband’s attraction of yelling at our tv on Sundays at a bunch of helmet heads who obviously can’t hear him all the way in Florida. Are these big guys really going to move faster with my husband is calling them a tool?

This week he’s is trying to lure the whole family into watching the Summer Olympics. Tom is gushing about his respect and amazement over the physical feats of these athletes who have been training for their sport even before they grunted their way through the birth canal. I’m enjoying bits and pieces, while my daughter Mary is learning the lingo about gymnastics (They didn’t stick it!) and coaching me on the athletes’ names, countries and probable endorsement deals.

All this hype has persuaded the YouTube MomPulse channel to ask the question: “What would be in the Mom Olympics?” So in honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, I have proposed:

12 Categories for the Mom Olympics:

#1 Fastest sun block application

#1 Fastest sun block application

You earn extra points if your kid is crying, but lose points if he’s crying because you squirted sunblock in his eyes.

______________________________________________________________

#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

#2 Shotput toys from the living room back into the bedroom

You lose points if you happen to hit a kid or dog walking by.

______________________________________________________________

#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

#3 Synchronized teeth brushing

SpongeBob toothpaste is allowed.

______________________________________________________________

#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

#4 Fastest sprint to save your child from entering the street

Most moms would beat any Olympiad’s Gold Medal record in this competition.

______________________________________________________________

#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

#5 Hosting the largest slumber party without committing homicide or suicide

Extra points if your guests are particularly high maintenance.

______________________________________________________________

#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

#6 Judged by distance, time and amount, how many groceries can you carry from the minivan to the house?

Extra points for using your own reusable bags. Not because it’s a more difficult skill; Mom Olympics should be environmentally friendly.

______________________________________________________________

#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

#7 Hurdling over dogs to answer the phone

Don’t you hate when you waste all that energy just to get a telemarketer?

______________________________________________________________

#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

#8 Most patience while teaching your teenager to drive

See #5 above. The homicide or suicide rule applies to this event as well.

_______________________________________________________________

#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

#9 Standing high jump while trying to dust the top book shelf

For the Dad Olympics, they use a footstool. Or rather, they tell their wife to use a footstool.

_______________________________________________________________

#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

#10 Driving the most stressful car pool without flipping anyone off or using the wrong 4-letter words

Extra points if you have to listen to the same Glee song over and over.

_______________________________________________________________

#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

#11 Creating the cheapest edible meal for a family of 5

I wanted to post a picture of an off-brand macaroni and cheese made with nonfat dry milk and Butterbuds, but then I’d have to eat it, which would violate the second part of Rule #5. It would be inedible and might create inadvertent suicide.

______________________________________________________________

#12 Triple jump homework help

#12 Triple jump homework help

This is harder as your kids get older and start taking calculus. Unless you majored in math, which is unlikely for most moms. What a shame.

_______________________________________________________________

It’s too bad I didn’t have time to book a flight to London this year, but I hope to see you all in 4 years in Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Mom Olympics.

“Adeus!”

That’s “Cheerio!” in Portuguese.

To view my Mom Olympics vlog click the link below:

MomPulse Vlog: What Would Be in the Mom Olympics?

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Filed under Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting, Top 10 List

Very VERY Busy Stagnation

During the summer when I’m on hiatus from work and the kids are off school, the world is my oyster and the possibilities are endless. I wake up in the morning excited about my choices for the day. Should I clean out my closet? The kids’ rooms? The garage? The pantry? Weed the side yard? Trim the trees? Plant grass seed in the bare spots? Read a book? Update my address book? Hike? Go to Pilates? Take the kids to the beach? To the park? Write a blog or shoot a vlog? Sort through emails? Juggle the bills?

Where do I start?

I start them all.

I started gutting the kids’ room, but now the living room is filled with donation bags and their room looks like the Wicked Witch of the West flew through it.

I started sorting through CDs, but I’m halfway done, so there’s still a pile on the living room floor. “Blues?” “Alternative?” “Heavy Metal?” I’m mainstream rock so I have to ask Tom about his categories.

I started cleaning out my closet, so now I have a pile of too-big-or-too-small clothes and hangers on my bed.

I started putting in a landscape border for plants, but the border is still stretched across the driveway.

I started going to Pilates, but I didn’t stay for the optional final stretching because I had too much to do at home.

I started weeding through emails, but I’ve only made a dent.

I started writing about a dozen different blogs but didn’t post any in the past two weeks.

I’ve started three dozen things, but I haven’t finished anything.

I am so completely overwhelmed, my completion rate has become stagnant. If I have a choice in time management, I end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Someone should cut off my head.

My husband tells me to breathe. I’m trying to meditate, but my mind keeps wandering back to my to-do list.

Yesterday I was determined to finish the half-done things and today I finally reached a turning point.

I’ve finished my first blog post in two weeks (this one).

The kids’ room is clean, the donation bags are banished to the patio, and the CDs have been sorted and alphabetized. The grass seed is planted. I’ve deleted a ton of emails and only have 2975 to go. I’ve put about a thousand miles on my new minivan transporting the kids from one summer activity to another, so my mom points are back in the black.

I’m on a roll. The rest of my tasks are coming along.

I’m done hyperventilating.

Just in time to get ready to go back to work.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Family, Humor, Husband, Kids, Multitasking, Parenting

It’s My Fundraiser and I’ll Cry if I Want To

I love our school. We’ve been going to Colfax Charter Elementary School since Emily enrolled in kindergarten in 2001, and since then I have accumulated literally hundreds of friends who are in my iPhone contact list – most whom I am happy to say are probably not dodging my call.

I’m on the Restaurant Committee, which is the team that lines up monthly fundraisers at local restaurants that give our school 20 – 30% back. We publicize the event on our marquee, on Facebook and Twitter, in an email blast, and by putting flyers in the kids’ backpacks.

These events take place during the school year, but recently I suggested that we try our hand at summer fundraisers as well. With the exception of flyers in the backpacks, we could publicize the events every other way, and instead of a monthly event, we could make them bi-weekly since the kids and parents will certainly miss each other and want to have a mass gathering.

The first fundraiser of the summer was yesterday at California Pizza Kitchen. Our last CPK event at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year brought in over $800 in profits for our school, so I was anticipating more of the same.

All three of the other current members of the Restaurant Committee were out of town, so I did all the typical social media posts and then shared them on my Facebook page:

 I’m going at 5:00 today. Who wants to join me?

I sent emails to everyone who was in Jake’s kindergarten class, and any other kindergartners who were in my address book, and even though it’s been a year since Mary moved on to middle school, I invited all her friends as well.

As I picked up Mary from drama camp in the Colfax auditorium I shouted out for everyone to join as for dinner at CPK at 5:00. I did the same when I picked up Jake from Colfax’s Farm Week Summer Camp.

Right before we left for dinner, I looked at my Facebook post to see how many Likes, Comments or Shares I had for the gathering.

Not a one. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.

Colfax’s Facebook page had one Share: Mine.

Usually at least someone would have given me a half-hearted Like, which might be something in between a 🙂 and a 😦 – maybe like a :/, but then that would have required a Comment, and as I just said, there was nothing. This post was in Facebook Wasteland.

The lack of comments to my post truly reeked of disinterest, as if I had suggested something duller than my kitchen steak knives:

Who wants to join me for my annual dusting of the ceiling fans?

Who wants to join me in the heart of a Sig Alert?

Who wants to join me at the DMV?

At least these posts might have sparked a laughing  :-)) or ;) winkingwinking 😉 response.

Undaunted, I forged ahead with my dinner plans. Mary, Jake and I arrived at 5:15, just to add a little time for possible latecomers. Unlike last fall’s CPK fundraiser, there was no long line of cars waiting to be parked from CPK’s complimentary valet. There was no crowd of four dozen people outside waiting to get a table. And as we walked in, there were customers at only three tables, and I didn’t recognize a one.

I thought of walking away without buying anything. We actually don’t have the luxury of eating out in our budget. The bill just gets tacked on to the credit card we won’t have the money to pay off until I start back to work on Season 2 of Once Upon a Time next September, and September is still a long way off.

But CPK only offers free valet parking if you get validated, and you can’t really get a validation if you don’t buy anything. Also, since I’m on the Restaurant Committee and the only member in town who could participate, I’d be a hypocrite to walk away without buying something.

I decided to get the food to go since I was going to get something for Tom anyway. Fortunately Emily’s a vegetarian who doesn’t eat wheat or dairy. I’d just tell her the whole menu would give her the trots.

I ordered a kid’s mac & cheese for Jake, kung pao pasta for Tom and jambalaya pasta for myself, and the portions had better be enough to split it for lunch tomorrow, dammit!

Mary wanted pizza AND salad, and I nearly choked. That girl always has champagne tastes with our beer budget, or since Tom and I don’t drink, it’s kind of like Dollar Tree apple juice vs. Martinelli’s sparking cider. I told her we have frozen pizza at home, so she settled on the Caesar salad. No chicken.

The bill came to $46.93, and I tried to look on the bright side: over 9 bucks back for our school and I didn’t have to pay a tip for a waiter.

We sat at the counter waiting for our order while Jake colored in the kid’s menu and Mary practiced her Belle lines from Beauty and the Beast.

No Colfax families. No big 20% back check. No fun reunion.

I wanted to cry.

But this was a public place and I would look like a wacky woman.

On the other had, no one here knew me.

There weren’t any Colfax families here to witness it.

I wanted to cry even more.

I held it together. Barely.

About ten minutes later, a miracle occurred! A Colfax mom arrived with her 4th grader. Heather and I did the Box Tops fundraiser a year ago, and I was so happy to see her, I wanted to cry – in a good way. But it turns out she was having a special mother/daughter dinner while her husband and son were gone fishing, so I didn’t want to intrude.

A couple of minutes later, Lina arrived.

This is when I really want to cry, and not in a good way.

Lina is my mother-in-law, and I invited her to join us for dinner. She drove herself to CPK after a hard day at work, and here I was, about to grab my to go bag. I had completely forgotten that I had invited her. I offered to stay and get a table or buy something for her so we could go home or to her house and eat it, but she was obviously despondent. I could tell she felt rejected, and I didn’t blame her.

I felt terrible.

I mostly felt terrible because I assumed she was feeling terrible that I didn’t have the thought to let her know that the evening was cancelled. She walked away without validating her ticket, and by the time I caught up to her she had already paid the valet.

That’s when I started to cry.  It began as a silent whimper. I felt sorry for my mother-in-law and our little school and the fundraiser that didn’t bring any money. That whimper snowballed into a bottomless shame pit.

You’re the dork who thought we could have a successful summer fundraiser!

No wonder no one came. Nobody likes you anyway!

How the hell are we going to pay for this meal anyway?

Your mother-in-law hates you!

Now your kids are hearing you cry out loud and they’re going to either be scared or think you’re emotionally unstable!

You really are emotionally unstable. Doesn’t a straightjacket in a rubber room sound like a good solution?

I used to go down this rabbit hole a lot in middle and high school, but I thought I had gotten better as an adult. Obviously not. By the time I got home I was blubbering like an idiot.

My husband Tom has absolutely no personal comprehension of the mood swings created from PMS or menopause or insecure women feeling downright bonkers. But he gave me a hug anyway and wondered out loud how such an intelligent lady can spin out of control so quickly.

He invited me to go to Family Swim at the Y, where no one would question why my mascara was running. And after watching Jake dog paddle while wearing his goofy goggles, I felt better.

Today, nearly 24 hours later, my original Facebook post still sat empty. So under the Like – Comment – Share buttons I wrote a comment to myself:

Nobody likes me.

Maybe someone will click the Like button on that one.

But then it begs to question:

Does that mean they Like me?

Or do they Like that no one likes me?

I shouldn’t be on the Restaurant Committee for my elementary school. I should be enrolled in the elementary school. Because clearly, my self esteem in this instance is still in the 1st grade.

On the bright side, our little CPK fundraiser ended up with 14 Colfax receipts, taking in $605.80 and a donation of $121.16.

To the other 13 families who came to Colfax Day at CPK last night:

Thank you so much! I’m so grateful I could cry.

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Filed under Anxiety, Debt, Family, Financial Insecurity, Friends, Humor, Husband, Kids, Parenting

20 Tips for a Successful Slumber Party Without Committing Suicide or Homicide

Growing up, my sisters and I seemed to celebrate every holiday, birthday and end of the school year with a slumber party. We invited all the cousins and then we could each invite another friend, which added up to about a dozen dozing bodies plastered across the living room floor and an honorary Sainthood nomination for my mom.

The slumber party for my 9th birthday. Notice my brother Michael hamming it up in the middle.

My daughters started having their own slumber parties over ten years ago when Emily was in kindergarten. But it’s my 11-year old Mary who has turned our slumber parties into the Valley Village equivalent of an Oscar party, with nearly 20 girls participating. Whether her friends are playing toilet paper bride (where the girls split up into groups and create the most elaborate wedding gown out of toilet paper), piggly wiggly (a game where you try to guess who’s hiding in which sleeping bag) or Chubby Bunny (where you cram as many marshmallows into your mouth as possible at one time and still audibly utter the words “Chubby Bunny” without choking or vomiting), Mary and her friends have just celebrated their eighth year of slumber party gatherings, and the events keep rising to new heights.

Last Saturday night we had 17 middle school girls and one boy over for a Colfax reunion slumber party (the lone boy did not sleep over), and Emily had an additional two high school girls in her room. Because I’ve been doing this for a number of years, I decided to compile a list for the parents who are slumber party novices in the hopes that one day, they too will become as demented as I am.

20 Tips for a Successful Slumber Party Without Committing Suicide or Homicide

1. Know your limits. Just because your daughter’s friend’s super soccer mom can wrangle two dozen girls at a time, it doesn’t mean you can do it without turning into a psycho killer. Start out easy – perhaps three to five girls at a time and build from that.

2. Unless you can invite every single girl in the group, keep the slumber party on the QT. As an adult, it’s devastating to find out that everyone was invited to a party but you. It’s ten times as devastating for a tween. Tell the girls not to talk about the party beforehand. With Facebook and Twitter, everyone will know afterwards, but then they’ll have a couple extra days to try and grow a thicker skin.

3. Warn neighbors in advance that you’ll be having a slumber party. Tell them that the karaoke contest will end by 10:00 pm and stick to it. Unless it’s a particularly quiet group, don’t host a slumber party in a backyard tent unless you want to be treated to a late night visit from your local police.

4. Audition potential slumber party guests with a short play date in advance and then don’t invite anyone who is high maintenance. This means anyone who is rude, a picky eater, a whiner, a crier, a tattler, or a girl who always complains about a tummy ache.

5. Announce the rules in advance and repeat them as needed: Be nice. No one gets left out. For hide and seek, the garage and refrigerator are off limits. Anyone who uses the “B” Word (bored) gets to scrub my toilet. Then we’ll see how bored they are. No drawing on each other’s faces with a sharpie while they’re sleeping or putting their hands in warm water to try to get them to pee, or sticking their bra in the freezer (yes – I did it all as a kid so I know everyone’s tricks).

6. Make sure to have a phone number where parents can be reached at all times and tell them to keep their phone on. Have them set it on vibrate if they’re on a date night at the movies. Warn them in advance that if their little darling becomes too high maintenance, they will receive a call at any moment for them to come and pick her up – even if it is 4 in the morning. Most parents will laugh and think you’re kidding. Make sure they know that you’re not. I once had three parents drive up to my house at midnight because their kids were convinced that a slumber party meant that they were staying up all night. I let them know that they were welcome to stay up all night – in their own beds.

7. Keep the food cheap and simple.Uncooked pepperoni pizza from Costco is best. Pop it in your oven, and slice it into small pieces. When it’s halfway gone get a show of hands as to how many more pieces the girls will be eating and pop another in the oven. Tell the vegetarians to pick off the pepperoni. Ask anyone with a food allergy to bring their own meal and offer to reheat it. The last thing a slumber party mom has time for is acting as a short order cook. Serve grapes, cut up a watermelon and serve make-your-own sundaes with toppings prepared in advance in paper cups. For breakfast, slice Costco muffins into quarters or heat up Poptarts.  For our party we paraded down the street to Yum Yum Donuts the next morning and every girl ordered her choice of donut.

Slumber party aftermath – a trip to Yum Yum Donuts.

8. Make the girls clean up their own messes. Just because you’re not their short order cook, it doesn’t mean that you want to be their maid. This means clearing their food after meals, hanging up wet suit and towels if they’re swimming, and not spreading their bags all over the floor.

9. Use disposable plates, cups, napkins and utensils. I know it adds to my carbon footprint, but it seems like the better alternative to wasting 5,000 gallons of water in the dishwasher and risking all my dishes being broken.  Label drink cups with girls’ names and keep all drinks outside or in the kitchen. Otherwise you’re liable to have apple juice poured in a sleeping bag and ants you’ll never get rid of.

10. Don’t serve sodas. There’s no nutritional value, you’ll have a lot of half-filled cups floating around, and for large slumber parties, caffeine is only your friend if it’s in your body. I prepare a 5-gallon jug of Crystal Light punch and have a gallon of juice and milk available. Or they can always drink water.

11. Get used to the noise. The larger the party, the bigger the wall of sound. The girls are having a good time, and unless you hear the cries of actual pain, you might as well accept that it’s going to be noisy. Think about wearing earplugs. And stocking up on Advil.

12. No cell phones. Girls don’t need to be texting other friends about what they’re not doing with these friends because they’re too busy texting. They can post an occasional photo to Facebook, but if a girl has her face glued to her iPhone, take it away until morning. If she refuses, see Rules #5 and #6.

13. Have some inexpensive activities in mind to keep the girls occupied: karaoke with a bunch of Glee DVDs; hide and seek; a board game like Apples to Apples; watching a recently released or classic movie. The very best is to have a pool. If you have a house and host a lot of slumber parties like we do, it might be worth it to invest in an above-ground pool.  After just two summers it ends up being a lot cheaper than paying for a laser tag or theme park party every year.

14. Rearrange the furniture so the girls can sleep on rugs in the middle of the living room. If they start fighting over who gets to sleep on the couch, give it to the girl who is most low maintenance.

15. Give a countdown to lights out time. Tell the girls put on their pajamas, lay out their sleeping bags, pillows, and brush their teeth at least a half hour beforehand. Five minutes before, let them have a drink of water, but keep the water in the kitchen. Then turn out the lights and let them get settled. If anyone is afraid of the dark, keep a light on in another room for a few minutes, then turn it out once they’re asleep.

16. After two warnings to be quiet, grab a pillow and blanket and go sleep with the girls. The last thing a chatty girl wants is for a mom to be overhearing what she’s ranting about. However, once they start hitting the tween years, let them stay up as late as they want – with a warning to both them and their parents: their mood the next day will worsen in proportion to how late they stayed up.

17. In the morning, have girls put everything that’s theirs into their own pile in a corner or against the wall. Anything left over on the floor needs to be put away. Not by you.

18. About 20 minutes before pick up, search the house and yard for anything that doesn’t look familiar. Set it in the center of the room and make sure everything goes away. If you find something unfamiliar after the party’s over, take a picture of it, or rather them – despite your best efforts, you’re sure to have a lot of lost & found items. Send one email to all the parents and attach the photo.

19. Make sure your kid does the clean up after the party. If she’s reluctant, let her know that it’s the last slumber party she’ll ever have. And stick to it. You may end up really crossing your fingers that she refuses and you never have to go through this again.

20. Keep this list where you can find it easily for the next party. Unless your daughter doesn’t follow rule #19. Then you can chuck it along with the rest of the mess you’ll be cleaning up.

Your daughter is young for such a short period of time. A slumber party is a great way to share lifetime memories, develop deeper friendships, and earn the gratitude and admiration of all the other parents who are much too sane to venture into such lunacy.

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Filed under Humor, Kids, Parenting

SPF: Severe Pigment Fry

Ouch! Where’s the aloe vera?

As a kid, during the summer months my skin perpetually existed in three distinct states: burn; blister; or peel.

This was before suntan lotions had SPF ratings. SPF actually stands for Sun Protection Factor, a standard that really should more accurately be called I Wish I was Born an African American to Why Wasn’t I Born an Albino?

Growing up in sunny Orange County, we often spent the day at the beach. Even though there were four of us kids and we were just a year apart, my mom managed to coat us all with Coppertone to keep us from burning. Yet an 11:00 am to 5:00 pm shift of building sand castles and collecting shells in the hot Southern California sun turned us all into lobsters. It was a miserable trip home with all of us sweaty and sandy and feeling the effects of first degree burns covering 80 percent of our bodies.

Before the magical natural use of aloe vera, everyone used Solarcaine, which felt cool when it was sprayed on, but I’m not sure if it actually did anything.

We winced a lot and walked around with our arms partly outstretched, and it was difficult to fall asleep on sheets that suddenly seemed unbearably rough as sandpaper. We observed the places where blisters appeared – our noses, our backs, our bellies. Once when I was 13 and my bosoms were blossoming, a one-inch wide and two-inch tall sunburn blister appeared directly between the two larger sprouts. My mom nicknamed it my third boob.

Eventually the blisters would pop – either as a natural progression of healing, or more likely because we decided to pop them ourselves as a science experiment to see what lied underneath the bubble (always something gooey and gross).

In a few days, the neon red color would start to fade and our skin would begin to peel. This was my favorite part. And I don’t mean favorite as in a favorite stuffed animal or a favorite ice cream flavor. I was literally obsessed about peeling skin. As we watched television, we’d take turns sitting astride each other’s butts and peel our sibling’s backs. My brother and sisters and I would have contests on who could tear the longest peel. Sometimes we’d save the peel as if it was a prized souvenir. To this day I love to peel things – wallpaper, glue, hangnails. I really should look into a 12-step program for my peeling disorder.

Camping at the beach with my sister and the nieces

From May through September, my nose was one permanent scab. I wore zinc oxide, which for a short time seemed cool because that’s what the foxy lifeguards wore on their noses, but looking back, I think I more resembled a failed mime.

In my teens, I switched from Coppertone to Hawaiian Tropic in an effort to attain the perfect tan. It was an impossible dream. My Irish/Scotch/Finnish lineage guaranteed that the only thing brown on my skin would be my freckles. I dreamed that one day I’d get so many freckles that they’d blend together and become a true tan, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Emily with her porcelain skin

Hawaiian Tropic was later discarded for pure baby oil as I deliberately fried myself in the sun. Once I got past the burn-blister-peel cycle, I actually acquired an honest to goodness tan one summer, but it proved to be way too much work. It required riding the bus for an hour to Newport Beach and lying all day with my fingers outstretched so I would tan in between them, and turning every 20 minutes like a rotisserie chicken to maintain and even color. The bus ride back was an hour and a half, and an hour of it was standing room only with my bottoms full of sand, carrying my towel, beach chair and baby oil, and hoping that I wouldn’t blister.

Mary – my freckle-faced beauty

Thankfully I started a long line non-stop jobs and didn’t have the time to work so hard on my tan. Looking back, I am truly grateful for this calamity as it’s the principal reason my skin isn’t wrinkled like a prune today.

These days I wear sunglasses and a hat outdoors. My daily moisturizer and lip balm both have built-in sunscreens, and I coat my kids in SPF 70 whenever we’re outdoors for any extended period of time. My almost 16-year old Emily has beautiful porcelain skin, and she wants to keep it that way. My daughter Mary has the most adorable freckles, but any time her pediatrician sees them multiplying, the doctor reprimands me like a bad dog, so I try to keep her coated as well.

Jake – the Whitest Boy in America

My son Jake is so white he is nearly translucent. I don’t know if they make SPF 100, but if they do, it would be because they had Jake – the whitest boy in America – in mind when they created it.

Last week we went camping at the beach with my sister Tammie, who is to this day a bona fide sun worshipper. If she was matched with a Sherwin-Williams paint chip, she would be French Roast. Tammie wore her SPF 2 cooking oil while I plastered on the SPF 50-70 variety of creams, sprays and lotions. And yet, somehow I was burnt to a crisp. Not blister-burnt like the old days, thank goodness, but burnt enough to have it smart, and red enough to need regular coatings of aloe vera.

Tammie sun bathing

But now I have mixed emotions. I want my skin to heal and go back to my 21st century acceptable pale complexion.

On the other hand, I’m dying to peel my back.

Maybe I should look into those Peeler Anonymous meetings.

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Filed under Anxiety, Family, Humor, Kids, Parenting, Vacation

For Father’s Day, My Husband’s Wish is to Just Be Left Alone

Marc, Tom & Lina at the Saturday night Dodger game against the White Sox.

My husband Tom loves baseball with a passion, so for the past few Father’s Days, we’ve taken him to a Dodger game. It’s a perfect tradition – leave at noon for the 1:10 game, stuff ourselves with Dodger dogs, cotton candy and this incredibly tasty ice cream bites treat called Dibs, and take in some sun. It’s a bummer that Emily and Mary can’t make it since they spend Father’s Day with their dad (my ex-husband), who of course trumps step dad, but we take Jake, Tom’s mom Lina, and one or two of Tom’s childless buddies.

A few weeks ago Tom revealed to me he actually isn’t as fond of this tradition as I thought he was. In fact, it turns out that he not only hates day games (too much sun), but frankly he doesn’t like going anywhere on a Sunday, even if it does seem like fun. Apparently he would like to spend and entire day resting up from weekend fun, which basically nixes any holiday that falls on a Sunday – Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter. If he had his way he would hold Hallmark hostage until the card company switched all those big days to a Saturday. Better yet – Monday so he can get a holiday from work.

Emily, Mary & Jake at the Dodger game

This actually works out better for all of us since it means that Emily and Mary can join us. They don’t really follow the game, but they do like the food. The girls and Jake also like clapping with the organ, doing the wave, and trying to hit the illegal beach ball that gets bounced around in the stands. We brought our friend Marc, a huge sports fan (he attended every single home Kings game and three that were out of state), but he’s got a bah-humbug attitude about these activities. I was afraid that Marc was going to climb over the bleachers and pop the beach ball with a sharpened soda straw. Still, it’s always fun to go to any sporting event with someone who’s a fan of the game.

Tom had a bit of a damper for this year’s Father’s Day. He came home from work early Friday with a horrible upset stomach and it lingered on through the weekend. Although he trudged through the Dodger game, he didn’t really feel like eating anything, which is kind of like going on a cruise when you’re in the middle of a cleanse. Sure, you’ll have a good time, but the meals are a big part of the trip.

Tom & me at the Dodger game after I ate too many garlic fries

On the other hand, I gorged myself on a platter of garlic fries which were dripping in either oil or butter, and then it ended up reeking from my pores all night. Needless to say, Tom spent Father’s Day Eve sleeping on the sofa. There’s nothing like garlic sweat to really mess up an already upset stomach.

The next morning, the kids and I cooked Tom a special meal of extra-thick bacon and a huge omelet with extra cheese, or what should have been called The Clogged Artery Breakfast. I was still full from the night before, the girls we going to eat breakfast with their dad, and Jake was dying for a Poptart since it’s a treat he only gets on the weekends. So Tom was left to eat by himself, or at least pretended to eat while we were watching. With his wobbly stomach, he probably dumped it in the trashcan as soon as we left the room singing Happy Father’s Day to You.

The kids serve Tom breakfast on the sofa

The girls departed with their dad, which left just Jake and myself to celebrate Tom’s fifth year of fatherhood (sixth if you count Jake kicking around in my stomach). I figured it was Tom’s big day and he could spend it any way he wished.

And his wish?: to be left alone to watch westerns all day and play the MMO game Dark Age of Camelot with his virtual friends.

Just one funny card. No gift to open. Lina bought the Dodger tickets and I bought all the food there, and since Tom didn’t feel like eating, that pretty much means that I gave my husband bupkis for Father’s Day. Jake drew a picture of himself on a palm-size rock and made a paper tie for his dad.

Jake gives Tom his Father’s Day gifts

We gave Tom his wish for the most part. Jake played with Legos. I cleaned the house, which was so filthy it should have had cauthion tape stretched around it. Jake and I ran some errands and brought Tom some minestrone soup for dinner.

Pretty boring. But for my low-maintenance husband and his queasy tummy, it was a great Father’s Day.

The nice thing about today is that it will be very easy to top it next year.

If you’re a dad, I hope you got exactly what you wanted for Father’s Day.

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Filed under Baseball, Family, Friends, Holidays, Humor, Husband, Illness, Kids, Parenting