Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Goodnight...Sleep (Air)Tight

by Cathy

Ahhh...summertime. We Chicagoans wait nine months before summer births itself to us in the truest sense of the word. I've enjoyed the cooler than scorching temps this summer had to offer but seeing as the heat and humidity are raging this week, I'm encountering the dreaded domestic conflict that comes with turning on the A/C.

What's the problem with doing what every other warm-blooded human does when the heat and humidity reach 100%, you ask? The fact that my husband prefers to sleep in a tomb. In fact he prefers to live in a tomb. When he's home alone, the lights are never on, the windows are never open, the air is stifling and he's couch-hunched in the dark living room covered in a blanket sipping on tea. My teenager is exactly the same way, I am coming to discover recently. I'm sorry but I was not made to live and sleep in a Rubbermaid container of a house.

Bedtime in summer has come to be one of the biggest points of contention in my relationship. Who knew that once the bedtime struggles with the kids ended, I'd have THIS bedtime struggle to contend with? Since the hubby refuses the turning on of the A/C unless it's 100% humidity, 0% wind and temps in the 90s at midnight, I have to live with having the windows open. He lays there wrapped in a down comforter and I, parched tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, an ocean building between my boobs (or as I like to refer to it, "A River Runs Through Them") literally basting in bed, sweat slowly building an outline of my body around me on the sheets.

I throw my covers over on top of him, zombie walk my way to the thermostat and when the click of the air kicks in, the hubby spurts out some tongue clicking of his own and robotically reaches for the down comforter - yes, that still sits at the end of our bed in the midst of summer - and envelopes himself in it like a bear hunkering down for the winter.

I've spent countless summer nights sleepwalking my way back and forth from the thermostat lest I cause anyone in the house to catch their "death of a cold", always concerned about turning the dial to juuuuusssttt the right temperature where it kicks in periodically but not toooooo often. I've awoken after those mornings from my half-assed sleep looking like a slicked up pufferfish.

The other day my girls and I got into my mother-in-law's car and the air was turned up to "freezer" on the dial. Even I thought it was a smidgen chilly. They mouthed to me from the backseat that "it's freezing in here!" and hugged themselves into the embryo position, teeth chattering. I, on the other hand, was sprawled out in the front seat enjoying the blast of cool air all while wondering how my husband managed to grow up in a house where his mother enjoyed (gasp!) turning on the A/C. I looked over at my mother-in-law knowingly and thought, "She gets it. She's normal!" Then I promptly decided that age and A/C levels are in direct proportion to each other; the older you get, the higher the A/C gets cranked.

And you know what that will all be tomb much for husband. That's when I'll tell him to go sleep at his mom's house.

Friday, February 6, 2015

One Perfection

by Cathy

It's rare that I get any quality time with Bella these days. She's busy with homework, after school activities, friends and just plain, much sought after downtime.

So when an event comes along that allows me coveted time with my teenage daughter, it's something for me to write about.

August 29, 2014 - one week exactly after my birthday. The highly anticipated day was finally here. The tickets were bought nearly one year in advance and it seemed "totally unfair!" to have to wait that long for only the biggest event in her teenage life - her first concert. And this wasn't just any concert; it was the concert. She had practically been a founding member of the fandom and now, after four long years since they officially became One Direction, she was going to see them all live and in the flesh. Every single, delicious boy in that band was going to be in the same "room" with her, singing to her, singing with her. It doesn't get any more epic than this.

Oh, but it did. At least for me in my own way.

I must admit my enthusiasm gave way to pangs of possible disappointment before we left to go pick up her friend and her mother. (We all remember our first concert with our moms, don't we?) I don't specifically recall what was said on my part, but I distinctly remember the eyeroll my comment elicited. Oh boy, I thought. What did I really expect? It's not cool to go to a concert with your mom; I would have felt the same way. I'm really glad, however, I decided to let my optimism rule.

As we inched our way down Lake Shore Drive towards Soldier Field, the girls jammed loudly to various 1D songs while the parents prayed the gray skies didn't give way to rain. The stadium now within our sights, we watched wondrously as enthused crowds of all ages moved like amoebas around it, filing into all entrances and up ramps like worker ants, right into the nosebleed seats. The girls squealed and shrieked loudly, their seat belts doing their best to contain them. After the drop off and pick up logistics were figured out, it wasn't long before Tracy (the other mom), the girls (homemade signs in hand) and I, were wandering within the electric crowd, buzzing from the vibe that emanated within it.

After the required purchasing of T-shirts, programs and other concert paraphernalia, we made our way into the open stadium. Like the sun rising enormously on the horizon, (I swear somewhere, a symphony of angels were singing), the massive screens, stage, speakers and lights revealed themselves bigger with every step we took. Screams and leaps came from girls everywhere around us. Tracy nudged me and looked down at her palm, where she held out two neon pink earplugs. "Here," she offered to me. "You'll need these." I grabbed them with a smile as she readily shoved hers in place. "I'll get the first round of beers," I offered back with a wink.

We take our seats and during the anticipatory wait period, I observed Bella as she took her first major concert scene in: the sights, the sounds, the vibe of it all that can't possibly be put into words in the same way it feels for a teenage girl for such a significant rite of passage. I witnessed her repeatedly take part in her first stadium Wave and laughing every time she shot up out of her seat, as huge beach balls were volleyed about and we danced to The Macarena with roughly 62,000 other people. I saw the wonder, the excitement, the curiosity the absorption in her eyes and watched it manifest through her body as tingles, twitches, jumps and tears while she and her friend sang and hugged through most of the opening act, another fave, Five Seconds of Summer.

Then it was time.

This epic moment could only be right up there with the second coming of Jesus in Bella's eyes. The August skies had turned to night, dark enough for the ray of light known as One Direction to emerge onto the stage, but only after a brilliant fireworks display and introductory video clip psyched the girls up into a frenzy.

The energy, the music, the crowd, the sheer sight of the band along with the adrenaline and the shock was all-consuming and emotionally overwhelming for the girls. Throughout the show, I watched (and occasionally joined in) as she cried, clutched her friend and me alternatively, waved her lit phone through the air, cried some more, held up her sign, screamed out lyrics with the band into the vast crowd, danced, cried again, glued her eyes into the binoculars in shock that "they're actually right there!!" I literally observed how this experience was close to Godliness for her; it was spiritual, building up within her for years and finally releasing itself in the most amazing way possible that night. The fandom for her is that significant and impactful in her life, as she explained to me before the concert. "What people don't understand," she defended, "because they automatically judge and stereotype them without knowing as just another teeny-bopper band, is the messages that their songs give and the way they've helped girls and people around the world in all sorts of ways; they've saved lives, mom."

After being immersed in that world that night, delving inquisitively into their lyrics, watching "the boys" as I affectionately refer to them now, bring those songs to life, and the reaction from the fans, I witnessed how that could very well be true.

I allowed myself to take my adult goggles off and learn from her - and she was eager to teach me, to open my eyes to her world, her passions, her validations. Not only did I learn a lot about why she loves 1D (eye candy, they all are) and cares so much for this band but I heard her convictions, how vehemently she stands behind them and it allowed me deeper insight into her personality. Unexpectedly, this night became life-changing in ways I never thought possible.

Rare are the instances in life where all the stars align for something specific that was meant to happen in just the exact way you ever imagined (or never imagined) it would. Even Mother Nature knew better than to dare release one droplet of water onto such a perfect scene. That night was one of those instances for both Bella and I, each in our own way. In addition to all the wonderful emotions we experienced that night, the concert also took me back to my youth, lying dormant within my soul waiting to be reawakened in this way - to who I was before I became a wife, a mom, a responsible adult. It took me to the inner depths of my past and within that realm, I relived it all with the same determination and wonder I did the first time.

I couldn't have asked for a better birthday gift than this night. It was perfection.

We're only getting older baby

And I've been thinking about it lately

Does it ever drive you crazy

Just how fast the night changes

Everything that you've ever dreamed of
Disappearing when you wake up
But there's nothing to be afraid of
Even when the night changes
It will never change me and you

~ Night Changes by One Direction

Posted today in honor of One Direction's new world tour, On The Road Again, which begins this weekend. And yes, although there will only ever be one first time, I'm happy to say we plan on attending this tour, too.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quickie Books

by Cathy

Since my sixteenth birthday, I've always held jobs where I've worked for "the man"; retail chains, department stores, large ad agencies, local magazines. And now? Now I work with the man. My man, that is.

Yes, that's right.

I'm going outside my comfort zone by dipping my toe in the proverbial entrepreneurial career pool. Even more frightening, I'm electing to spend almost every waking hour with my spouse....working mostly out of our home office.

I bet you're thinking what my friend Patti is thinking. I can practically hear her skepticism sing-song-ing off the computer screen during our Gmail chats. Here are just a few of her comments:

"So...when you're home "helping joe" what do you do? Are you his hot, hot secretary?" This is Patti being subtle. So I play along.

"The boss just got back home and cracking the whip but not in the way I'd hope," I play into the fantasy.

"Perhaps if you would work in your birthday suit you could leverage some of the perks," she shoots back without missing a beat. "Drop a pencil and bend over to pick it up, if you know what i mean ;)"

Yes. This is how I dress to work at home. Duh.

I tell her that I wish it were like that, but in reality, it's a lot of payables, receivables, purchase orders and invoices. Frankly, I'm on Quickbooks more than I'm on him.

"Okay," she continues unconvinced. "I'll let you go so you can "work". WORK IT GIRL."

I can see why she would think that I'm always "working it" instead of literally working. Ideally, it would seem that a husband and wife working from home, while the kids are at school all day would provide plentiful opportunity to luxuriate in lengthy, decadent afternoon delights; massaging, feeding each other grapes and gazing deep into each others' eyes as we twirl ourselves up in silk sheets. Right. That's not us. That's the soap opera not playing on the television because it's tuned to ESPN or CNN or the 24-hour French news channel as background noise.

Sadly, this concept is something better "romanticized" in theory but not reality. Don't get me wrong; every now and then we do snap out of work mode and have a moment of clarity where we realize that the house is completely empty of kids and the distractions that follow them. There will be no knocking on doors or requests to fetch a snack or something off the top shelf, to find iPhones, iPads or chargers, to fix the television cable channel mix-up, or find a particular tank top. There will be no audible distractions either like the sound of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody reruns blaring from YouTube, or FaceTime conversations had by Ari and her friends while simultaneously playing Club Penguin online.

So do we take advantage of these rare moments at times? We are, after all, smart, grab-an-opportunity-when-you-can, humans who happen to be parents (and we know what that means when it comes to having time alone) after all. So, yeah.

- Are you thinking what I'm thinking?
- Yeah, this Quickbooks thing is a pain in the ass.

However, lest you think that you can quit your job and start a home-office business with your significant other for the anytime "perks" and "benefits" and general "woo hoo party time!!!" euphoria this will provide, think again. You might be able to randomly book a quickie, but in the end, you'll always get screwed by Quickbooks.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Sitting Shivers

by Cathy & Patti

Charlotte: Where are we going to go?
Ray: I'm thinking Alaska.
Charlotte: Alaska?
Ray: Yeah, it's cold and Mexicans don't like the cold. I say we act like white people and disappear and let our lawyer do the talking.
~ From the television series The Bridge, 
which in part, has to do with Mexican drug trafficking
As our parallel universe lives would have it, we both married Latino men. Mine, J, is part Mexican. Patti's, M, is Argentinian. Latino men, apparently judging from the warm climates their ancestors hailed from, don't fare well in cold weather, as further proved by the quote above. They enter a darkness where no Happy Light can reach. In fact, they become winter beasts of sorts, that transforms them into bitter, miserable, grouchy, whiny, complaining little mean girls who consistently ask why we the hell we live here and not in Miami.

I'm not thrilled about the arctic plunges Chicago weather takes us on a consistent basis now either. I'm not enjoying my parched skin and the literal crackling of my facial wrinkles forming overnight, or the dryness of my cotton mouth which wakes me up in coughing fits, or the fireworks show that ensues via static electricity every time I move. But I deal with it. I power through it. Hell, my ancestors hail from Greece, the land of abundant islands, sea and sun and Patti is Argentinian and Italian, so same pretty much goes for her. And WE quietly deal with it. However, men being men, they can't handle it. It falls into the same category as being sick.

The other day, I walk into my living room to find this:

The Hobbit? Obe Wan Kenobi? Nomadic tribal elder?
Now clearly, the sheer over-dramatization of J's reaction to the cold is laughable. I stifled my chuckle and as it seemed fitting, I simply greeted him with a "Shabbat Shalom".  Minutes later, Patti and I were LOLing and commiserating via text at how alike our enrobed bundles of misery really are in terms of the literal mourning they go through each winter: the death of summer.

And the texts went on:

PATTI: "By the way, I don't think M and I will still be married after this winter. He is worse than ever with this weather. I cannot take his crankiness."
ME: I get the same from Rabbi Elder over here on a daily basis too, don't worry.
PATTI: They should sit shiva together!

As if luck would have it, they planned a coffee date a few days later without us girls knowing a thing until I happened to call J for something completely unrelated and lo and behold, he was commiserating and shiva-ing with M at a local coffeehouse. I promptly texted Patti to see, did she know about this?

PATTI: Of course not. I'm sure they will just sit there and kvetch about the weather.

I had no doubts about that and I'm certain they kvetched about us as well.

Patti if they had any good reason whatsoever to kvetch.

I'm not quite sure how I could possibly illustrate to the fullest the life I lead from November to April. It is one in which my normally quite "macho" husband is grouchily tucked into corners of the couch and the bed and other cushion-y surfaces, blankets wrapped to the point of swaddling 'round his shivering body, and I pretty much wave a mental goodbye to the man I love and, with heavy heart, say hello to the Winter Monster. There is no light, only darkness and snow and lots and lots of f-bombs.

Here's the thing: As superficial as it may seem, I love tights and turtlenecks and cute leather boots. I love seasons with their breezy, blue-sky summers and silvery, snowy Christmases. And most importantly? I'm pale. Unlike my perpetually tanned husband, I am perpetually transparent and, rather than become golden in the sun, lean toward purple scorch. Therefore, no matter how monster-y the Winter Monster gets, I can't find it in my seasons-lovin', pale heart to up and move to 365 days of OMG I'M SWELTERING and MELANOMA-ING.

The result? I have to deal with Grandpa Bitches-a-Lot.  When Cathy sent me that picture of her own Grandpa Bitches-a-Lot, wrapped up like a Hobbit/Obe Wan Kenobi/Nomadic tribal elder, my heart swelled with kinship for my friend. She knew. She knows. She lives it just as I do. She has her own Winter Monster, one whose moans of discontent rise from within the swaddled walls of his misery for 7 months out of every year.

At first, when I heard the two Winter Monsters had gotten together, I worried. I pictured them both sitting there, scarfed and hatted and multi-coated and shivering, and I knew their shared kvetch-ing would only lead to one-way tickets to Miami - with or without their MUCH better halves. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the Winter Monsters are also Summer Mourners and, as grieving brothers, they need one another. They are their own support group, of sorts. So let them kvetch. I'll just sit here and sip on my cozy winter tea, turn up the heat, and cuddle up under the fuzzy blanket I never get to use.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


by Patti

Today we received in the mail a document that caused S to squeal and jump 6 feet in the air. I wondered if the Lottery Department had written me a letter informing me that, even though I hadn't purchased a ticket, I had somehow magically hit the jackpot of the century and would I please come down to headquarters and pick up my winnings?

I soon found out that equivalent to this in a 13-year girl's mind is her High School Orientation letter. She immediately ran to the refrigerator and slapped the letter under a magnet, singing joyfully to herself. "I can't believe it! DON'T FORGET!" she eyed me sternly.

But oh, how I want to forget.

How is this possible? Certainly the sudden lines that have appeared on my face - lines that no longer disappear by noon - have been trying to tell me about this passage of time, but I've been ignoring them. Because the passage of time is not something I'm handling very gracefully.

Aside from the "aging" part of it, what has gripped me most is the permanence of this passage of time. No. Matter. What. We can never get it back. And the last 13 years with my daughter, since the first earthly cries of my one and only child, are suddenly a dream-like patchwork of moments and memories, the only tangible evidence they ever happened the coltish, beautiful teenager standing in my kitchen, singing about high school.

It's strange, because I'm okay with her growing up. I love the "she" she has become; I love that we are friends and that she tells me most everything; I love that she is a hilarious companion and a quirky sidekick. I love her and all that she is. Yet, I find myself mourning the "she" she will never again be. Not because I don't adore who she is becoming, but because I will never get back who she was.

As I mark my calendar lest I DARE FORGET, I am cautiously looking forward to experiencing the energy I will no doubt absorb from all the other vibrating 13-year olds on High School Orientation Night. I will sense the jittery anticipation of all things new; I will take in the shine of young eyes as they dream about what will be. And I will look at my daughter and do my best to be present because, yes, even THIS moment, the one in which I am lamenting how she has grown up so fast, will one day be part of that dream-like patchwork of moments and memories. And I will never get it back.

Friday, January 2, 2015


by Cathy


This is the year that I turn 45, celebrate my 18th wedding anniversary and see my first-born enter high school.

It sounds like someone else's life; someone much older than me. Those are some serious double-digit milestones, the kind reserved for "old" people I used to hear about when I was in the prime of my youth and all of this seemed light years away. Nonetheless, this is where I am in my life right now, crazy numbers and all, so I am here to face it and yes, embrace it.

It still doesn't make sense to me that we are in the year 2015. It still sounds ridiculously futuristic, as if we are living in another dimension. It was, after all, the year Marty traveled to in Back to the Future Part II.

Back to the Future is now

Back in the day, the decades had real sounding names with now marked events and characteristics that defined them for each of us, from the 1920s through to the 1990s. Each decade felt like it meant something, like each had its own representation and weight.

Then it all started sounding strange. How do we refer to the decades after the 90s? The zeroes? The two-thousands? What about the decade we're in now? Are we in the 10s? The 2010s? You don't hear people referring to decades like they once did because there's no non-awkward sounding, all encompassing way to refer to them. They all sound futuristic, even though we've been "in the future" for now, fifteen years. And if you ask me to define the marked characteristics of the last two decades since 2000, I'd venture to say that it's one big reality television show whirred into a technologically frenzied blur. Maybe I just don't care enough to distinguish these decades and acknowledge their own weight because they don't have a cool sounding name that warrants it. That's just me.

There is something, however, about the number and year, 2015, that compelled me to write about it. It's not an even-numbered year, yet it stands out because of the milestone simplicity it represents. It falls directly in the center of this decade, neatly separating the polar (and literal) opposites of what decades start/end, bring/take for people facing, dare I say, middle age.

Writing that statement was very sobering, as were writing the statements that follow...

This year, I am at equal distance from age 30 as I am from age 60. That stark calculation was made by me after an eye-opening statement made by Bella as we sat at home on this past blistery cold New Year's Eve 2014.
"Did you know that right now, at 2015, we are at equal distance from the year 2030 as we are from the year 2000?"
She wasn't even alive in 2000. So, again, those damned numbers. Why do they represent so much?

Well, they do and it's up to us to make these number mean something. God willing, this year like always, we intend to do so. Therefore, in addition to the wedding anniversary, high school milestone and 45th birthdays my husband and I will celebrate in 2015, we've also set goals. Goals put less pressure on results as they are plans to strive towards, not non-resolute resolutions.

We have goals to grow our business, to move into a single family home if plans take us in that direction, (and then maybe get a puppy to round out that American dream altogether), to buy a second car, and to travel to a place we haven't been before. Our personal goal, besides the ever-present "aim-to-salvage-what's-left-of-our-quasi-youthful-physique" goal, is to learn a new language and constantly strive to learn more and network more (Joe's) and for me, to finally embark on my lifelong dream.

We will continue to pray for our good health and those of our friends and family, to take in every minute of the crazy rate at which our girls are blossoming, maturing, molding their personalities, smoothing their rough edges and keeping sharp the ones that should stay that way, and to spend as much time with our parents as possible. The most challenging though for me, will be to make it through Bella's grammar school graduation and high school entrance without becoming a complete blubbering, broken down mess. Kids are, after all, the barometer against which the speediness of passing years is measured.

So please, 2015, seeing as you're right smack in the middle of this unnamed decade, do us a solid and slow down to let us take it all in.


Happy, healthy, prosperous New Year to our dedicated readers, followers, believers, supporters, fans and visitors from around the world. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Do You Live Here?!

by Cathy

I had the luxury of having a girls night out recently. It's funny but although our kids are getting older and need us less, we have somehow become less available to our friends. So this night? This was rare and much needed and we were all enjoying each other's company until....

RING RING (K's cell phone goes off)

Below is her side of the convo as heard by us:
"Hi sweetie, you okay?...OK what is it....a what?...honey you know I'm not home, why are you calling me? Ask your father...he's the one who's there!...Goodbye!"

Exasperated, she hung up the phone. "WHY is she calling me about going to a sleepover when I'm not even home?"

We all nodded in agreement and proceeded to share our stories about when something similar had happened to us. We laughed, we commiserated, we vented. And then, this happened:

RING RING (K's cell phone goes off, again.)
"Hey babe, what's up?...What do you mean, what time?...Why don't you ask her?...Just talk to her and ask her what time...I don't know, you're there...I'm not...figure it out!" She clicked her husband off the line.

"Oh. My. GOD! He's calling me about what the plan is for Katie's playdate tonight. Why doesn't he just talk to his daughter and straighten out the plans for the night instead of calling me to ask me what the plans are?!"

Then it was as if the floodgates were ripped wide open because that convo morphed into these convos:

J: "Men are totally clueless. You want to know what happens at my house? I was in the middle of cooking four things at once and asked my husband to get me the cheese grater from the cabinet.
He: "Where's the cheese grater?"
J: "In the cabinet next to the colander."
He: "What the hell is a colander? And what cabinet is that in?"
J: "What?!"

Now granted, eight out of 10 guys would not know what a colander is. Hell, I didn't know myself up until a few years ago. I just called it a strainer. J picked up momentum and continued her rant.

"Then, one other time, we were getting ready to go out and he was looking for his dress shirt."
We all rolled our eyes because we knew what was coming.
He: "Hun, uh, where's my dress shirt?"
J: "In the closet where it always is."
He: "Is it ironed?"
J: "Why don't you check it?"
He: "What about the collar tabs?"
J: "What? In your sock drawer where they always are. DO YOU LIVE HERE?!"

As we screamed with laughter, K blurted out: "I once had twelve texts and four phone calls from my husband about picking up our son from after school care as he sat in carpool line! Um, hello! Do You Live Here?!"

Steven Wright knew what he was talkin' about

As we held our sides, now stitched with laughter, and wiped tears of hilarity from our eyes, we grappled with catching our breath and realized...that was it, in a nutshell. We all live with our significant others but do they truly live in the same house as us? Some are highly involved in house happenings, storage, organization and cleanliness and others are well, are just passing through each day, it seems. I think my husband's cousin, a 19-year old guy who came to stay with us for six months last year, knows our house better than my husband does.

We wondered....our husbands have run their own businesses, managed teams of people, wheeled and dealed client contracts, run national accounts, are well traveled, well-spoken and quite capable of holding down titles akin to chief operating officers. How can they not manage a school pick-up, a playdate, scheduling kids' appointments and most frustratingly, can't find their own things in their own house, specifically, collar tabs that go only into their shirts?

As it seems, on and on the gender gap wheel will spin, in the same universe that holds both Mars and Venus. We may be from two different planets but we're stuck in the same solar system, and most importantly, in the same house. Let's remember where we live.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Netflix Running Time: 90(0) minutes

by Cathy

Our kids have pretty much grown up.

(I will allow myself this statement only for the purpose of this post.)

One is officially a teenager at 13 and the other just turned eight this past summer. They are pretty self-sufficient, play/hang independently and goof around together for the most part and might even be able to whip up some food for themselves when necessary.

Grasping and leaning on this concept more each year, we've slowly, cautiously ventured to begin to watch television and movies when the rest of the kid-free world watches them (i.e. not in the wee hours while the kiddos sleep while struggling to keep one eye open and not in the matinee senior hours of scorching daylight, but rather in "prime time" on weekends and the occasional weeknight.) At this stage in our kids' lives, we should be in the clear for an uninterrupted two hours of movie watching, right? Riiiight?

Apparently, we had no idea what can go wrong in the two specific hours we nestle in to watch our program or much anticipated new release. Without fail, first and foremost, no matter if all hell is breaking loose in the house with televisions and radios blaring, YouTube videos screaming from the computer, the microwave going off and what else have you, they will know the second the DVR clicks on or the DVD Play button is pressed. They will hear our bare feet prop up on the living room coffee table. They will hear us wrap ourselves up with a blanket and plop onto our bed. They can sense it. They can hear it. They can smell it. I don't know how, but they know. I can time my watch to it; they will burst in no more than three minutes into what we are watching with a slew of happenings or questions such as but not limited to:

- Whatcha watchin'?
- Have you seen my [enter a random possession of theirs here]
- How do you turn on the stove?
- Do we have any more Nutella To Go snacks?
- Oooooh a movie! Can I watch?
- We're out of chocolate milk?!?!
- Can I hang out at Katherine's house tonight?
- Can Katherine come over to hang out here?
- Why isn't this letting me watch this video on YouTube?
- Um, hi. You should be eating some popcorn. Do we have any? Want me to make you some?
- Where are all the phone chargers?
- Do you have the iPad? I can't find it.
- I need new socks and none of my underwear is in my drawer!
- Can you remember to wash Pillow and Cuddles tonight?
- [screaming from the shower] We're out of conditioner!
- [screaming from the bathroom] Can someone bring me a roll of toilet paper?
- [screaming in general] There's a bug!!! [harmonized screaming, now]
- Bella called me a brat!
- Can we rent a movie On Demand?
- We're out of waffles!!!
- Can I sit in here and draw with you? Bella won't play with me.
- I need to you reach a blanket on the top shelf of my closet.
- How long IS this movie??

Yes, that last one is a very good question. Just how long IS this movie, exactly? Turns out that what the rest of the world can watch in 90 minutes, takes us 900 minutes. More than once, we've resorted to giving up either due to relentless, unnecessary, unimportant kid chaos or just sheer frustration.

On Demand? Netflix? Fuggedaboutit

I guess that our kids aren't as grown up or independent as we'd hoped they'd be by now. And aside from the purpose of this post, in some sick, twisted parental way, we don't want it any other way just yet. After all, we'll have all the time in the world to watch movies once they truly grow up.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

You're No Fun Anymore

by Cathy

Maybe you don't remember the breakdown that talk show host Wendy Williams had on national television early this year.  But I do.

She looked into the camera as if she was talking to her longtime girlfriend on her living room couch, and poured her heart out about the struggle she is having regarding her 13-year old son. All of this coming about while discussing how Rocco, Madonna's son, fully supports his mother. In case you missed it, here are some highlights of what she confessed:

"First of all, I want you to know, Rocco is 13 years old and Rocco is a real fan of his mother. What I discovered this weekend is that my son doesn't like me anymore."

"I discovered this a while ago, but the ball just got smacked home this weekend."

"He's all into his father — you know how 13-year-olds are. I was the same way when I was 13, but it is breaking my heart. He says things to me like, ''Why are you so pissed?!' Like I'm pissed all the time. Like I'm the one with the problem."

"He's the one that's 13, and I get it, and I know that this phase only lasts four years or something like that, but it is breaking my heart. He doesn't care about Wendy on TV — he doesn't care about any of that. She's lucky that he likes her," she said, referencing Madonna's relationship with Rocco again.

"I can't understand men who disappear from their kids' lives. Thank God he has his buddy and father, you know? He's a father, he's a buddy, they talk sneakers, they go for haircuts, they speed off in the cars," she said of husband Kevin Hunter. I'm just left there feeling like, 'Why are you so pissed?' I'm not pissed! I'm a mom!" the emotional host concluded.

And here's what it looked like:
Wendy Williams' breakdown: a mother's ugly cry never more justified

I mention this because I've had several Wendy Williams moments of my own. My 13-year old teenager, my emotional hormonally chaotic daughter, actually turned to me once and said:
"You're no fun anymore.
You're always yelling about something."


I barely heard that second sentence as "you're no fun anymore" ricocheted off the walls of my brain, having difficulty settling down and sinking in. Oh, she's said worse before, like "I hate you!" which also really hurt, but for some reason, this hurt more. I hate you seems like a generic response, but You're no fun anymore seems more felt and thought out.

I remember telling my own mother flat out, "I hate you!," and believe me, that was the first and last time I said that out loud. I mumbled it under my breath, I sobbed it out in my room or wrote it in my diary. Luckily, "my mom is a bitch" never made it onto those pages, but it could very well probably could have.

What I don't remember as well is probably how awful I was to my mother with my moody, rebellious, privacy-bent ways. Being "smacked" or pissed or angry is always a two-way street. There has to be a cause for the effect. What teens don't get is that their actions determine our reactions, and both sides end up the bad people in each others' eyes.

So the other day, after a heated discussion with my teen,  I unintentionally and wholeheartedly blurted out: "You're not fun to be around anymore."  I couldn't believe I actually said it to her.  Equally shocked, she gave no quick-witted response; just silence. (Which kinda scared me, truthfully.) And I just left the room. (Or slinked out, truthfully.) When it was brought up later by me, she commented on how awful that made her feel, which opened the door to another equally needed conversation.

Growing up isn't easy on any parent or child. We each do our jobs to raise the best person possible to send out into this unfair, cruel, difficult, joyous, wide world and love them throughout everything with no conditions. I can only take assurance that one day, my words will resonate with them the way my mother's words do with me now.

Until then, I must implore you to tread carefully. Shiny, happy people, we are not.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Now, I'm a Boobleiver

by Cathy

Oprah told me to do it. Katie told me to do it. Countless magazine articles told me to do it. But did I listen? I wanted to. Really. I just never made it a priority - until I had to.

One of the perks of my job is to check out new places, products and things before others do, so that I can write about them in the hopes that those others either buy them or at least, check them out. So when the opportunity came along to get a professional bra fitting (with a complimentary bra in my properly fitted size, valued at $65) my "girls" bounced at the chance. They've been left hangin' there far too long.

Wacoal wowza! This bra is my new breast friend!

The results? Like 80% of women out there, I was definitely wearing the wrong bra size. In fact, like 80% of women out there, my current size wasn't even close to what I should be wearing. No wonder  the bra's backside was riding high and my boobage was riding low and why I tugged and pulled and lifted and adjusted all day. And overall? I just looked and felt hunched and schlumpy.

For the sake of science, womanhood and perky silhouettes everywhere, I will reveal my "numbers" to the world:

Current size: 36 B/36 C
Actual size: 34 DDD

Triple, freaking, D.

"Why are you so surprised?" exclaimed my husband along with a few of my friends. "Your boobs are huge!"

Okay my boobs aren't small but they aren't as ample as some cleavages sported by other au natural and faux boobers combined. But never in a million years did I think I was a TRIPLE D.
D. D. D.

After countless "Are you sure(s)???" from me to the fitter, she patiently explained it all to me -  the full, yet sexy coverage, the lack of side-boob spillage, the point at the exact spot on my back where the bra line is meant to hit, the fact that even though the bra felt tight, I still had plenty of give on the band and had me take a step back to examine my overall lifted, youthful silhouette. "See?" she marveled, pointing at my breasts. "This is where things should be," she said, eyes crinkling with delight.

She also matter-of-factly told me that I was putting on my bra incorrectly (we must bend over and spill into the cups naturally) and washing incorrectly (we must hand wash and air dry, but ain't nobody really got time for dat). And those hooks, by the way? They are meant to expand with your bra. You are to start with the outermost set of hooks first and once you get to the third and last set of hooks and you're ridin' and saggin', it's time to say ta-tas to that bra!

As if all of this information wasn't shocking enough, the reaction I got from my unassuming (or so I thought) family, really surprised me. I told no one about my new secret weapon - my dirty little secret. One day, I just put it on and went with it.

Scene 1:
That same day, I was meeting my husband for a quick afternoon coffee before picking up the kids from school. I parked in the Starbucks lot and walked in to find my husband sitting by the window, working.
"Hey!" I said as I hung my purse on the chair.
"Oh my God I didn't even recognize you," he said.
"Really? Why?"
"There's something, I don't look different."


"I'm wearing a new bra," I said flatly.
"Wow, you can really see the difference! Even your posture has improved!"

Scene 2:
I had my new bra on, engaged in closet eyelock when my oldest, Isabella, came barging into my room. (Knocking? What's that?)
"Hey mom, where's....OH! Hey! That's a nice bra!"
"It doesn't really look all that different from the other ones I have," I replied dryly.
"Yes it does! This one is cute. And chic! I didn't know you had bras like that!"

Scene 3:
We were, of course, elbow deep into our entrees at a Mexican restaurant with the family when my youngest decides she has to go kaka. Of course, I took her. She tends to get super chatty when she's going kaka and starts blabbing about random this, that and the others. As I was standing there, waiting patiently and salivating over finishing my enchiladas mole, she looks at me quizzically,  cocking her head to the side as she sized me up - literally.
"Mom, you look taller," she finally said.

Oh, for the love of the Lord - not her too. If a seven-year old notices...

"You think so?" I played along. "Why do you think that?"
"I don't know you just look taller, like you're standing up straighter or something. You look nice."

Apparently, a properly fitted bra can improve my posture, make me look taller, perkier, younger and more stylish! My big boobs have said ta-ta to my saggy bras and now I'm ridin' perky.

I am officially a bra-fittin' boobliever!

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