Wednesday, November 27, 2013


This is me unplanned and unedited with all the ridiculous, awkward faces I make in regular everyday conversation.  Which is why I try not to converse much.  

 Don't worry, I'll be back in print as planned and edited next week.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Birthday Season

Mid November begins the birthday season for us, when we have five birthdays in five weeks.  Plus, all the commotion of Thanksgiving, preparations for Christmas and I'm trying to finish my book here.  So, it sucks. It does every year.  And none of us particularly like cake, which is why we switched it up for fondue this year.

So every year I have to double up on gifts to get my kids, all except Jade who had the good sense to be born in June.  Thank god.  Not only that, the boys only want things that explode, shoot things, restrain someone and uranium.  Which I think is an elementally bad idea.  And not conducive to world peace.  The girls…well, Ember would like a cheetah cub.  And Jade would like world peace.  So really, I've got nothing to work with here.  NOTHING!

Not only that, a lot of our friends are also Scorpios and Sagittarians.  So, Jade was invited to a  party scheduled weeks ahead of time.  I technically had plenty of time to take her to the store to choose a gift for her friend.  But, life got in the way and that didn't happen.  So a couple days before the party I was scrambling.

"What do you want me to get for Maddy's birthday?" I inquired.
"I don't know."  She said in typical teen discourse.  Unless that's "I know".  It's one or the other.
"They don't sell I don't know.  Got anything else?"
Tween shrug smirk hand gesture combo.

So when I went to the store to get bubble wrap and the packaging tape I need to ship gifts off via mail, I thought of it.  An itunes card.  Every 12 year old girl loves music.  Done!

When Jade got home from school I proudly showed her my purchase.  "I don't think she has an iPod."  Why did that not even occur to me.  So I fb messaged her mom.  Sure enough, no ipod.  Crap.  Back to square one.  Or negative square one.

"Ok, so do you have any new ideas for a gift?" I beg.
"No.  She likes acting." As if that helps me at all.

The next day, I was back at Target.  Perusing the aisles slowly like a pedophile. Trying my best to channel my inner 12 year old girl.  Scott Baio.  Skateboards.  Baseball shirts.  Jeans with the knees blown out.  Roller skates.  Worms.  Braces, rubber bands AND a headgear.  Ok, this is not working.

Until, I saw it, a cute colorful little pencil bag.  And little lotions and hand sanitizers that smelled like Love's Baby Soft and Brown Sugar.  That's it…BINGO!

When Jade gets home from school on the day of the party, she peers in the bag.

"WHAT's THIS?" She asks with disdain.
"That's an awesome gift.  And if you don't want to give it to her, I'll go to the sleepover and give it to her."

Except there was one huge flaw with that.  I was already going out to a friends birthday party that very same night.  Because it's November people!  And forget about December.  I'm booked all month.

Now accepting applications for friends born in July and August.  I don't know if we're astrologically compatible or not.  And frankly I don't even care.  I would throw you an awesome pool party with slushy drinks.  And a slip and slide.  Unless you prefer jello wrestling.  It would be awesome!

ADDENDUM:  I had this post in my draft file for about 3 days.  It was edited to perfection.  I went to post it this morning and somehow deleted it.  The whole fucking thing.  Of course I did.  Because of course today is River's 14th birthday!  And tomorrow is my sister's birthday.  Do you see what I mean here?  It's freakin' Birthday season people!  And I'm frantic.  Do not get in my way.  Especially not anywhere near the checkout line.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

House of Destruction

I've been in a funk for the last couple of days.  And not in a Rick James kind of way either.  I think it's cause it's birthday season combined with the holidays combined with finishing the self publishing process combined with constant stress of four kids.  

Kids who seem dead set on taunting me by destroying our house and everything that's in it.

This is the mark one of them left on the door when he put a piece of packaging tape over the door and then wrote "explosive" in pencil on the tape.  Never mind that I've explained a million times that the only tape that can go on interior walls and doors is masking tape because it's the only one that doesn't take varnish off.

This toothbrush has been on the floor for over 3 days.  I don't know whose it is.  But one of my kids either hasn't brushed their teeth in over 3 days or has decided the floor is truly the best place for it to be stored while destroying their immune system at the same time.  Unless that's storing it in the toilet tank.

Leaving the pantry door open constantly, isn't in and of itself destructive.  But if our dogs eat the kids breakfast cereals and snacks and get type 2 diabetes, then it is.

The other day, the kids thought it would be fun to switch all their pictures on the wall, to when they were little.  Now the little metal tabs are all screwed up and no one hangs straight.

Last night, while I was making dinner, the kids were playing quietly together in my room on the stripper pole, I knew something was up.  But, I didn't dare go up there because I was in my happy place cooking.  I was not in my happy place when I was cleaning up after dinner and discovered that they took all the sheets off my bed and somehow got an ink stain on my bedspread.  Really?  They know my bed is off-limits.  Not that it matters.

But, the kicker came this morning when a plant was watered.  I know that sounds nurturing and sweet. Except it must have been watered via monsoon because there was water everywhere.  And if you look to see what's below the plant, yup, it's my computer stick drive.  With my book on it.  That got drenched!

And when that cord of wood got dumped in my driveway, I thought stacking it would give me some stress relief.  Yes indeed it would.  Because the kids are gonna stack it all outside the house.  As penance for their crimes of destruction.  

And I might not let them back in.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Broken Record

It's the middle of Saturday night and I'm crazed and won't be able sleep until I get this all down.  Oh, this was scheduled to be a funny post about Ember and Craig's birthday on Friday and how I had lunch with my friends instead of Craig because he got lost in the gluten free, lactose free artificial coloring hoops I tried to jump through for Ember to bring a birthday snack to school.  That's a run on sentence isn't it?  I don't even care because I'm so pissed right now.

Somehow, when my boys were little they could flush a toilet.  Consistently, every time they pissed in one.  Somehow a decade later, flushing a toilet is a tedious unsolved mystery of the universe.  And every time I venture into their bathroom, which isn't much, because I'd rather enter the NIH without a bio hazard suit with free floating Ebola, there it is, a big bowl of frothy teenage boy piss.  Along with the toothpaste globs and black footprints on the white bathmat.  So it's clear, the soap, is the same bar from the last year, and it never touches their feet ever. Either that or we've discovered the never ending soap bar. Yet, they do get in the shower.  And it's a really long affair when they do.  Although, I know for damn sure what's going on in there besides washing.  Which is precisely why, I'd rather not think about it.

The girls however, shower in the master bathroom shower.  My shower.  Which is why every time I get in there I almost wipe out on my ass from the thick patina of conditioner covering the basin.  Plus, there's a big pool of water like a wading pool because the drain is clogged with long strands of hair.  Ok, so most of them are dark, and I'm the only brunette with long hair.  But, let's ignore this fact for now.  Because this isn't about me.  In fact, this is totally NOT about me.  And how I'm inconsistent with following through with the kids.

This is about the kids.  And how they take advantage of my lackadaisical follow through.  And how that keeps me up at night.  In tears.  Frantically keyboarding, when I should be sleeping, but can't because I'm feeling like the shittiest mom ever.  And crying.  And uncontrollably angry like I'm gonna turn into the hulk. Until I'm feeling like the world's shittiest mom again.  It's a vicious cycle.  If you're a mom, I'm positive you're familiar.  I'm not the only one right?

I could go on and on about how I have to remind each kid 4 times each to do the most mundane of things.  Rinse and put their cereal bowl in the dishwasher, close the pantry door so the dogs don't eat all their school snacks, brush their teeth, do their homework.  The list goes on and on.  And when you calculate all the reminders I give in any one day, it's well over 100.   And this always elicits the same response from them, "I know".  Said in sarcastic teenager tone.   Even though I only have 2 teenagers, they all have the same teenage attitude.

And I just sound like a very distant broken record no one is even listening to.

So, tonight, after they go to bed and I find the left over Halloween candy I meticulously hid in the Victrola (because no one EVER looks in there).  Someone, ok, Sky, looks in there, moves the bag of candy on the floor and plays some old records. Really?  Cause he could have just listened to me. Again. I remind him to put the sweets away or the dogs will eat it and they'll get sick.  Again.  Like the time I left the pizza dough rising on the counter.  I reminded him of this fact several times.

Long after the kids have gone to bed, I find the bag of candy laying on the floor.  And then head up the stairs to find a whole heap of Jade's bedding on the floor in the hallway.  Bedding I changed 2 days before when she barfed all over it and the carpet and anything else remotely in her vicinity. She was sick and I was completely sympathetic cleaning up chunks of lasagna mixed with stomach acid off of her off white carpet. The next morning, I cleaned it all over again, because it still smelled like vomit.  And put on the only clean sheets and blankets left in the linen closet after Barfest 2013,  an extra set of  "boy" bedding.

I was mad, but I could move past it.  Or so I thought.

That's when I went back downstairs to find the keys to the safe.  Where we have to keep things like tape and batteries, in addition to adoption paperwork and other important things. Ok, we really need to keep everything in the entire house in the safe to keep things safe from the kids.  Never mind why I had to go into the safe mind you….

But, of course I couldn't find the keys.  And was totally enraged because obviously the kids found the safe keys and moved them.  Because this is what they do.  Things like this that make no sense.  I tried to just go to bed and forget it.  But Craig started talking about how Sky had batteries for something the other day.  Which sent me over the edge.

Obviously he moved the keys, left the candy out and is the purveyor of all the piss and leaver-opener of the pantry door.  In my head I went through everything he'd ever broken, lost, destroyed, mishandled, misplaced and taken apart.  Which is a considerable long list.  I was so mad I couldn't contain myself.  So I went in his room, flipped on his light and started going through his desk. Of course, Sky was awake.  Probably because he heard me swearing every cuss word known to man in my bedroom, while I assumed he was asleep.  This is just one small reason I make a shitty Santa Clause by the way.

During my mid-night tirade. Craig found the keys to the safe.  In my purse.  And just like a broken record, I'm back to feeling like the shittiest mom in the whole world.  Because clearly, I am.

This is my confession.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Secret

I was talking to Victoria, my friend and friendly neighborhood proof reader of Rock the Kasbah, the book.   Expressing my last minute pre-publishing-it-will-never-be-absolutely-perfect jitters to her when she told me about The Secret.  I'd never heard of it, but was intrigued, as I am with many metaphysical concepts.   It could sit on my office bookshelves right next to one of the classics in the genre, How to Heal Your Life.

But, I didn't have the time or the inclination to actually buy it, so I reserved it at the library.  It didn't come in right away.  Apparently, it's pretty popular.  The day after I discovered I lost the partner to my oldest and most favorite pair of earrings, it arrived.

The first thing that's no secret when you lay eyes on the book is, the cover and the interior look completely hokey.  And I say this as a person collaborating with my graphic designer friend, Lisa, to make a book cover that does not look completely hokey.  It looks fresh off the Disneyland press or something.  At this point, I can confirm, there will be absolutely no mouse ears or cheesy looking wax seal on my book anywhere, fyi.  But, in an effort not to judge a book by its ridiculous cover, I pressed on.

And found out that the secret about the secret is, there's absolutely nothing to lose.  There are no crystals to buy for a shrine of the secreters who have come before us or feathered quills and waxy seals with which to write testimonials that will be featured in a late night infomercial.  It's really pretty simple.  Be grateful for what you already have.  Feel like you already have the things you want.  Believe it.  And the universe will provide it, whatever it is, for you.  That's it.

Of course, simplicity is much more complex than it seems at first glance.  Quelling self deprecating thoughts you've had your whole life doesn't just happen overnight.  It takes hard work and discipline to reprogram yourself to think positively with intention.  Especially when you're gifted at self deprecating thoughts, like I am.  But those result in self sabotage.  Ok, yup, I see a pattern in my own life here. To change that, I need to change my attitude and  rewards will begin to manifest themselves physically.  Ok, it hasn't actually worked for me yet.  And to be honest, I haven't actually finished reading the book yet.  Maybe there's some buying overpriced crystals mentioned at the back of the book I don't know about yet.  Or purchasing the book is mandatory.  But, I don't think so.

Anyway, I'm starting small like the book suggests.  I'm starting with those earrings.  I really feel like I'm going to find it.  I believe this with all of by being.  Ok, some of my being.  Kindof.  Unless I inadvertently left it in the farmhouse in Costa Rica.  Stop doing that!  Think positive dumbass.  Ok, I totally feel like it's here in my house somewhere.  I can visualize it.

Oh god! Please don't be in the crawl space with the Ouija board, cause that's gonna freak the hell out of me…

To be continued...

Monday, November 11, 2013


As many of you already know, our four kids are adopted from Russia.  And none of them are natural siblings.  Let me be clear though, they do hate each other just as much as natural siblings.  When they were little we had lots of books about adoption, I spoke my college Russian to them and we were in a Russian adoption group trying to keep their heritage alive.  This is their birthright.  Well, and the boys have the additional birthright of possibly being called to serve in the Russian military at 18.  And Ember's birthright was born in the town that makes AK47s.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

As the kids have gotten older, a lot of these good heritage intentions have fallen to the wayside.  Because we're just wrapped up in homework, puberty, getting drugs out of the kids schools in addition to the constant stress and worry about how much our auto insurance rates are going to jump when Sky gets his license in about a year.  And we're also trying to drive home the idea to never, ever, ever text while driving.  I didn't even mention we're reffing the fights over who stole whose Halloween candy or that Sky just got certified to referee soccer games.  Which we're going to have to drive him to and from.

Last week we were driving back from Serenity Springs, a big cat sanctuary near us where the kids all got to hold a 9 day old tiger cub.  That's when she said it.  From out of the blue.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm in the orphanage dreaming my future."  

I was so overcome with emotion I didn't even know what to say, plus I was busy searching my purse for my notebook to write it down.  Sure she'd never say it or anything like it ever again.  Or that I'd heard it wrong.  Because Ember isn't a flowery child.  She's an abrasive self starter with no lighter fluid necessary.  Then she said it a second time, in the same week.  I had heard her correctly the first time.  And when she said it the second time, she wasn't under the influence of cute little tiger cub or having just seen a magical liger.

She meant it.

So I immediately went into insecure adoptive mom guilt mode.  Feeling like I had neglected to nurture a part of them.  The part that may wonder and feel rejected.  Because in order for us to be their parents, their birth parents had to give them up.  Then I said what I've said many times before.  "We'll help you find your birth parents if that's what you want to do."  And none of them want to. 

Maybe we didn't choose them from an orphanage after all.  
Maybe we chose each other.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Workweek Style

I absolutely love clothes.  When I was in high school, it was my dream to own a men's clothing store.  This was before I figured out that while I love fashion, I hate sales and numbers of any kind.  I found that out when I failed an accounting class in college and promptly changed my major from business to the extremely impractical political science.  Why didn't I just get a philosophy degree?  Hmmmm....let me think about that.

Anyway, now,  many useless post collegiate years later, I'm happy I work from home in my comfy clothes.  But, sometimes, I miss dressing like a professional.  And I secretly ogle and long to buy work clothes when I'm out shopping.  So I can dress myself for a life I don't live.  Again, completely impractical.  

That's when I decided to dress like I was going to work in a cubicle somewhere for a whole work week.  Which confused the hell out of my family and friends.  And embarrassed my already chronically embarrassed kids.


I thought I'd start the week out with a bang.  A colorful dress, pretty patterned tights and heels.  Yes, heels that I actually used to wear in the mid nineties when I was a professional.  Not that kind of professional mind you.   When I went to pick up my youngest from school, I ran into my friend Lynn.  Who did a double take, turned around and stopped to comment.  "Are you wearing a dress?"  Which of course was just the beginning of the are-you-having-a-mid-life-crisis comments from friends.

THOUGHT:  When the hell can I get into my jammies?  Cause I'm sick of trying to keep the girls jacked up and wrapped up in this getup.


I'm calling this my librarian after hours biker look.  The photo doesn't show you the impressively subtle coordinated herringbone print layered in the sweater, skirt and tights.  Let me just say, that this outfit was comparably more comfortable than the day before.  Save the droopy crotch on the tights, which just makes you feel like a toddler with 5 pounds of pee dragging down your diaper.  And the buckle on my biker boots ripped a hole in them when I uncrossed my legs at the computer.  So I ended up looking a little rougher than I intended by day's end.

THOUGHT:  Looking professional is itchy and I'm starting to look psychotic constantly scratching myself.


This is a pretty good reflection of my tomboyish style.  Wearing a thrift store shirt I bought for my husband *ahem* that I have borrowed.  Which is very reminiscent of the way I dressed in high school when I stole shirts from my dad's closet.  But I had a mullet then, so it was harder to distinguish that I wasn't a boy back then.

JADE'S THOUGHT:  "This is what you think people who work in an office dress like?"
EMBER'S THOUGHT:  "Who's making you do this?"


This was a big day.  I was meeting the assistant principal of the high school about the rampant drug problem.  I've been told more than once that I appear younger than I am, I thought dressing up might help me to be taken more seriously. And I wanted to intimidate him.  Which meant boots, for kicking ass.  I desperately wanted to say "LICK MY BOOTS" during our meeting, to further establish my dominance.  Ok, just to entertain myself.  But, I restrained myself and instead extolled a quiet power.  All ninja-like,  sitting myself at the head of the conference table.

THOUGHTS:  Say yes to the dress. I need to channel my inner ninja, wear boots and kick ass more often.


Ok, you did no doubt see casual Friday coming, right?  Cause by this point, I'm freakin' sick of being uncomfortable.  And worrying about getting dog hair all over my black dress and whether we have a lint brush or not. Then there's taking the time to coordinate the accessories and taking the dogs for their mid-day walk and worrying I'm going to get shit on my dress clothes whilst picking up dog shit.  So today it's comfy funky patterned pants with my funky Moroccan jewelry and converse. Of course this doesn't show up well in the photo.  But don't worry, you'll see this outfit again. Much to my kids chagrin.  Because this is probably the best example of my tomboyish, simple, but kinda bohemian style.  And these are the only shoes my dog Bonnie likes.  She doesn't recognize me and barks if I wear anything that clops.  

THOUGHT:  My boss is a nit picky perfectionist bitch, that makes me do crazy shit like dress up all uncomfortable for the week.  Oh, wait, that's me.  But since I'm self unemployed,  I can do whatever the hell I want whenever the hell I want to.  

If you want to check out my everyday style, you can click on this old post from when we lived in Morocco.

And if you just can't get enough of these style posts, here's the second in the trilogy, which includes the outfit I wore on House Hunters International Morocco.  For my two second tv debut in the party scene where I'm making ridiculous faces.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Have it Your Way

If you're as old as me or older, you may remember the old Burger King "Have it Your Way" advertisement campaign.  It seems innocent enough.  We all want to customize our lives.  To solidify our individuality.  What's the harm in that, right?

A little more than a year back in the States after living Africa with my four kids, where they had it any way it damn well came.  I can tell you, there is harm in that.  And I tell you that after observing my children both with and without.   The downside to having it exactly the way you want it, is knowing how the hell you want it in the first place.  And the upside  of going without is being happy with what you do have.

Knowing how you want it means considering a considerable number of options these days.

When I was growing up, sharing a station wagon with 5 other siblings meant you were squished and uncomfortable for hours on end.  That was a given.  If it was a hot day and the window was open, your hair would fly in your mouth.  If you were sitting next to a sister, their hair could also be in your mouth, blown in by the hot August air and the fact that my parents never bought a car with any extras like air conditioning.

It was uncomfortable, which was no surprise,  and one accepted it.  Because there wasn't another choice.  Well, besides my dad stopping the car to make sure you knew there wasn't another choice.  So really, no other choice.

Today, I am the owner of a top of the line minivan with a DVD player, adjustable seats, and enough elbow room for each kid. And I hate it.  Because my kids "needs" have increased  with the increased options.  The chair needs to be adjusted to just the right angle, as does the heat and/or air.  They are obsessed about the song on the radio, and are intolerant of any songs they don't personally care for.  Even if their sibling does.  And let me just confirm that all of their conflicting song choices suck by the way.  Because none of it is anything I want to listen to.

When I was growing up, the radio played the news.  That was it. And no matter how many times we heard that news story repeat throughout the day, we were going to hear it again. In the car.  Throughout the house.  And while eating dinner.

Growing up in a large Catholic family, I didn't have a whole bunch of choices.  And looking back now, I'm really grateful for that.  I didn't spend my time wanting.  I spent it outside with the minimum amount of stuff.  An air rifle to shoot mud at my siblings and a pair of stilts.  What else do you need?

I feel sorry for the kids of this generation and the constant choices that they have.  Really, think about how many choices they have during their day.  Between food, entertainment and electronics alone. Because when you have too many choices it becomes overwhelming.  And completely stressful.

Of course my kids don't see any of this.  But I do. Not only do I witness it everyday through them.  But, I feel it in me too.

And I long for the simplicity and not having it my way, but any way it comes. And adjusting my expectations and prioritizing what is worth stressing about. Instead of stressing about everything.

Cause when you get down to it, there's not that much that's truly worth the anxiety.

And we all deserve to be happy.

ADDENDUM;  If you know me from way back in high school, no I didn't work at Burger King.  For the umpteenth time, that was Michelle Nolan.  Yes, we were both quiet brunettes and shared the same initials and we sat next to each other in homeroom.  However, I worked at McDonalds. She worked at Burger King.  We are not the same person.  Which probably only added to the confusion.  But, have it your way and believe what you want.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ideal Image

How I see myself.  Blurry and snarky.

I'm not talking about laser hair removal here.  I'm talking about social media image.  As I meet more people on the internet, preparing to market my book, I'm increasingly concerned.  I want to come off as I am in real life.  The problem is, when your medium is writing, print can be misconstrued.  Especially when  small abbreviated quotes are taken out of context. Which is exactly what Facebook and Twitter are.

I've always felt like an outcast in real life.  I've never felt like I truely fit in one particular group.

I'm athletic, but I'm not super competitive.  I was never that girl in high school PE who ran in directly in front of you to return the volley ball.  That was Lisa Crenshaw.  And Alisha Sheufelt.  Field hockey was a different story entirely.  And if I smacked you with that little hooked stick, I'm totally sorry.  Now.

I'm completely dorky.  But, I'm not 4.0, math club, Dungeons and Dragons, read the encyclopedia dorky.  Ok, there was a brief period when I read the encyclopedia for fun.  But, I didn't make it past "K", which makes me a dork-loser as far as dorks are concerned.

Some readers have commented that I seem like an extrovert in writing.  Which couldn't be further from the truth.  I'm 100% introvert.  I commit crimes of personality and force myself to do things that make me uncomfortable.  All the freakin' time.  But you will never, ever see me dancing on a table top relishing the attention of a crowd.  Ever.  This is completely against my nature.

I may come off as a narcissist to some with the photos I post.  But, I assure you it comes from a place of   deep, deep insecurity.  I'm only trying to make up for the gangly, bad hair, acne years, which only ended about 5 short years ago.  And I'm in desperate hate with my huge forehead, pasty white skin, small teeth, pointy chin, long face and thin disgusting hair exacerbated by a receding hairline.  And I only have one angle/look that remotely works for me.

What I do pride myself on, is being awkwardly funny.  But, it comes from a very serious place.  I never want to make anyone laugh at someone else's expense.  I don't want to be too vulgar and I believe shocking people for the sake of shock value is a gimmicky. Anyone can do that. It's extremely important to me that the things I write and do have a message and truth in them.  And that it's subtle and doesn't beat you over the head.  Hopefully, just cracking open the door to think about things in a different way.

When the book comes out, even more of me will be revealed.  Which is a very vulnerable place to be, especially for someone who is essentially, a very private person. But, in the end, people are going to think whatever they want about me.  Or not at all.  I'd just prefer to be hated for who I truly am, rather than liked for who I'm not.

Ultimately, each individual reader will form their own ideal image of me based on their own perceptions, history, insecurities and truths.  I relinquish control.  As if I had any anyway.


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