Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Be Afraid. The Holidays Are Coming

If I were to try I would be a Pinterest Fail too.
It's snowing. I am watching it from my kitchen window with a luke warm cup of coffee.  I would nuke my beverage since it's so much better hot, but I'm on crutches and hopping across the kitchen with a mug of hot anything is a recipe for trip to the ER. 

It's a cozy scene really. Heavy snow pulling down tree branches still partially covered in orange and brown, the last remnants of autumn. And yet as I lounge in my snug home taking in the beauty of freshly fallen snow, a cold shiver runs down my spine.

The holidays. Are coming.

Hanukkah (I don't even know when it falls this year)
New Years.

The turkey, the stuffing, the stockings, the pine needles, the wrapping paper, running out of scotch tape, figuring out the perfect gift for my Father-In-Law, the pine needles, the shattered ornaments, do I make potato pancakes? Nobody likes potato pancakes, the dishes, the shopping, Taylor Swift singing Santa Baby over and over again, the pine needles ev-er-y-where, we aren't sending cards, I just can't do cards, should we do cards?, the pressure to bake, office secret santa (what do I get my boss that won't offend him and will make me look clever and thoughtful for under $10?), don't forget the teacher, the babysitter, the mailman, guests are coming, the house is a disaster, quick clean the house, and make it look festive! Pine needles freaking EVERYWHERE.

Ahhh. It's a magical time of the year. 

And I'm afraid. Very afraid. 

I hate being grinchy about the holidays, I really do. I want to love them. I want to think they are "magical."  I used to. Now they just stress me the hell out.  My house is never transformed into a sparkling festive winter escape. My ornaments don't match. I don't have Christmas tableware, the chaos of Legos, unmatched socks, spilled Cheerios and PBJ fingerprints don't magically disappear to make way for our enchanted pine tree of lights. Time for cookie baking, shopping and memory-making doesn't just suddenly manifest. I still have to make tacos, pack the damn lunches, keep up with the laundry and police the insanity that is my family, only now I have to do it while pulling off a *beautiful* feast for 14, and holiday shopping for 47 (or something like that.)

I'm stressed out.  And the Simplify The Holiday's Board on Pinterest with the following ideas, were no help at all:

  • Use what you have! Create decorations and gifts from things you happen to have lying around the house, like an old rake and buttons that with a glue gun can be turned into a wall hanging of a Christmas tree, or scrabble tiles used to somehow create (unattractive) coasters.... of course, my father-in-law would love that!
  • Instead of shopping, give people the gift of time! Create coupons for free house cleanings, babysitting or meal preparation.  Because that is exactly what I have as a working mom of three kids, time to clean your house! Brilliant!
  • Shop for second hand gifts. Nothing screams time saver like sorting through a bunch of worthless crap at Goodwill!
  • Use all of the zucchini you grew in your garden last summer to make loaves of bread as gifts for neighbors, teachers, housekeeper and friends.  So many problems with this one. So many. A) my garden this year produced exactly two cucumbers and half a dozen cherry tomatoes. B) My neighbors, and most friends aren't getting squat from the Kargas family (don't they have their own families to shop for?),  most housekeepers are expecting one thing at Christmas: a check. Zucchini bread ain't going to cut it. C) Baking is a pain in the ass.
  • Decorate with nature: Like what? Oh! Hand painted pinecones! Duh! I'll do that while the Zucchini bread bakes!
I did learn one thing about simplifying the holidays, stay off Pinterest.

Well the madness is just around the corner. I'm going to prepare by taking a nap.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BravoTV-My sad addiction

I had big plans for my recovery. While resting my bum ankle  I was going to read! I was going to blog! I would email old friends! Do upper body workouts, play board games, take up the art of some sort of Zen meditation... you get the idea.

 But instead.

Instead I have become addicted to Bravo TV. God damn Bravo TV. The Real Housewives, The Millionaire Matchmaker, Top Chef, The gay-house flipping dude, Andy Cohen drinking cocktails.  Yes, I used to be a sucker for all of that crap, until a little over twelve months ago... I quit, cold turkey.  No more hours spent mindlessly munching pretzels and watching botoxed, rich bitches throw cocktails in each other's faces as they launch over priced jewelry and handbag lines. Gone were my days of drooling while watching an always slim Padma devour  coulis, duck three ways, bacon foam, pickled pineapples and tofu emulsions.  No! I had evolved, I had moved on to mindlessly drinking wine while perusing Yahoo! News for the latest up-to-date information on Amanda Bynes Twitter feed and Rob Kardashian's emotional breakdown. I had overcome my obsession with all things Bravo. 

Until now that is.  Five days ago I found myself in a drug induced haze as I sat on my sofa recovering from a minor ankle surgery. Last April, on what may very well be my last jog ever, I broke my right ankle. Snap. Yes I heard it. And all these months later it appears that the stubborn bone didn't want to heal so a surgeon put a big old screw in that ankle to (hopefully) force a fusion. It's minor outpatient surgery. I have a fairly high pain tolerance and I expected an easy, if perhaps inconvenient recovery.  Well folks I spent five days in misery, mostly suffering side affects from general anesthesia, which apparently does not agree with me.  I will spare you the details and leave it at this: I was in no mood to read, blog, exercise, eat, drink, or do anything but sleep and.... the next best thing. Bravo TV. 

Sweet, comforting Bravo TV. And how it has changed since my former obsession... it's gotten even better!

Patti Stanger: 50-something and HOT

I started with Millionaire Matchmaker. First off, I'm obsessed with Patti Stanger. She is abrasive  full of herself, crass for the purpose of being crass and I freaking love her. I love the way she puts cocky rich-past-their prime dudes in their place, telling them that their money can buy them a 22 year old playboy bunny but not a relationship.  I love the way she tells her employees that she can fire them at anytime (it's got to be great for ratings, but she comes off as a total bitch!)  And she looks effing AMAZING. She is in her mid 50's and she is stunning... so much hotter than she was when I last tuned in. Yes. I realize. Plastic surgery and weight loss, but I'm going to give the girl some credit..she has good people, damn good people.

What else? I love watching these millionaires go on dates. Now it's true, I don't go on dates. In fact I seemed to skip the whole adult dating scene altogether, however I am quite sure that if I were dating right now, I would not be invited on first dates that require a wardrobe change, involve private cooking lessons, helicopter rides or going to a venue that has been rented out for the soul purpose of my hook-up. And there is no way in hell I would be good about sticking to Patti's two drink maximum rule. Hell, Patti, have you not watched the Real Housewives? Get some rich people drunk and watch the fur fly... RATINGS.

There so pretty it hurts my eyes
Next up: Vanderpump Rules. Oh hell yeah.  Now I had never watched this one before, its a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills spin off- featuring restaurateur, Lisa Vanderpump and her super sexified staff at the uber trendy SUR.  First rule of employment at SUR- you have to be an aspiring model. Second rule of employment at SUR-you have to have the maturity of a 6th grader. Third rule of employment at SUR- You have to be so self involved that you think that your sexual escapades, cat fighting and birthday parties are important enough that they should be televised.  Fourth rule of employment at SUR-you have to have sex with a lot of crazy good looking people and than cry about it. If you haven't watched Vanderpump Rules and you are looking to laugh your ass off at other people's "problems" for the love of God tune in!

Right Padma, I totally believe you are a foodie
Lastly Top Chef Boston.  I used to watch all of the Top Chef seasons, but of course over the past year on my Bravo hiatus, I haven't tuned in . Not much has changed it's still as Awesome (bur blanc) sauce as can be! The cast this season is entertaining. Padma is still stuck up and gorgeous.  I love that Blais is judging, he was so darn likable as a contestant all those seasons ago. Aaron is like the "Puck" of Top Chef Boston. He is a cocky arrogant, punk, who was just recently arrested for domestic violence Awesome (bur blanc) sauce (can I use that joke again?) It's fun watching Aaron fight with pretty Chef Keriann, a mom who happens to swear like a sailor (love her!) and Chef Katsuji, an owner of a Kosher Mexican restaurant (I'm not Kosher, but Jewish so I think this is pretty stinking cool.) Thus, along with all the impossibly complicated recipes that I will never attempt I can also wait in anxious anticipation for an actual fist fight to break out. Nah. Top Chef is too classy for that, this isn't Hell's Kitchen.

Okay. Well I have wasted enough of my precious television time. I have to get caught up on Manzod With Children.  Can't wait to see what that feisty bunch is up to.

Save me.

Me. Because there are too many beautiful people on this post. I'm at the gym. Watching TV.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween: The Day After

Yes, there were good times. Pumpkin Patch!
Oh Halloween. 

Remember when the morning after meant a nasty hangover and packing away your sexy cat costume for the year? Sure there was my junior year in college when my girlfriends and I actually hosted a Halloween bash, so when we rolled out of bed at 11am the next day we had mop up spilled beer and vomit, before moving on with our day, but beyond that November 1 officially marked the end of Halloween.

Flash-forward some twenty years later and All Hollow's Eve takes on a whole new meaning. No longer is the holiday about slutting it up as a sexy witch, nurse or (these days even Oscar the Grouch), and doing jello shots while listing to Thriller on repeat, oh no. It's so much more.

Me & Zack, 9, "Chrome Man"
But this is not a post about the craziness of the Halloween preparations (you know spending $268 at Halloween City for costumes, making treats like "spider sammies" "marshmallow mummies" and pumpkin-spider-ghouls-goblins anything for the school bake sale, the neighbor's open house and the class party, and convincing a nine year old that you are not converting your entire home into a haunted house while charging guests $2 per visit.) No. This is a post about the day after. And the day after and the day after.

 Now that we are parents and we are spending our Halloween bundled in jackets, trudging after children who beg for one more house.  We are the pack animals, holding the swords, light sabers, masks, magic wands and buckets of candy that have become too heavy. And it's these buckets of endless sugar that will be the source of our suffering for the next several weeks.

Evan, 6, ninja
The f*cking candy. The Snickers, Skittles, Dum-Dums, Junior Mints, Kit-Kats, M&M's, Smarties, Dots, Heath Bars, Crunch Bars, even those horrid inedible chewy candies wrapped in black and orange. The damn candy will be responsible for unbearable sugar high's (think three little boys running around sans pants screaming "I hate Taylor Swift!" at the top of their lungs while foaming at the mouth), the candy crashes (think three little boys stomping around the house with eyes glazed over, sticky fingers, screaming "I hate YOU and YOU and YOU" at the top of their lungs while kicking the dog,) and the inevitable fights over candy.

Oh the fights.

There is the:

I want another piece. Why can't I have another piece?  I hate you, give me another piece fight.

And the:

He stole my candy! I had 17 mini Hershey bars, and now I only have 16. I know, I counted.. He stole it!! fight.

And the:

He has better candy than me. He has all the Skittles. I wanted the Skittles. It's not fair. He needs to share. Actually no. Mom it's your fault I didn't get any Skittles. You made sure nobody gave me Skittles. You have to buy me Skittles. GIVE ME YOUR SKITTLES fight.

And the:

My second costume, don't ask
I swear I didn't sneak any candy! It's not chocolate on my face... it must be...err... dirt or something. That wrapper must be yours! I'm not going to time out fight.

Yes. This is what our lives will look like until the freaking Christmas tree is hauled in and we start with the damn candy canes and sugar cookies. I know. I know I will get the following feedback: "we donate our candy to charity" "our kids use their candy to buy other privileges" and "we take our kids to an organic trunk-or-treat where they get raisins, nuts and whole grain crackers.... they love it." Well my kids aren't going for that, and I can't say that I blame them. I remember being a kid to and stuffing my pillow case to overflowing with Halloween treats.  It's part of being a kid. And now... dealing with the aftermath, is part  of being a mom.

Julian, age 3, Pirate

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

GetRealMama, it's time to put on some heels!

The times, they are a changing.

This mama is going back to work FULL TIME. IN AN OFFICE.

This is a big deal.  I went back to working full time after my eldest was 12 weeks, and my maternity leave was completed.  That lasted only a couple of months before my mama heartstrings were pulled and I felt that I needed more time with my cute little bundle of wonderful.  So I cut back to a four days per week schedule.  I had Friday's off for mommy and me classes, play groups, and errands.  I cherished those Fridays, and I don't for a second regret that decision.  In the years since his birth my work schedule has fluctuated, particularity as we added brother #2 and brother #3. I experimented with staying at home full time, which while was an *epic fail*  taught me a few things.  One, I'm not crafty. I'm not going to be the kind of stay at home mama who sews awesome dinosaur Halloween costumes, makes bento box lunches that artfully craft food to resemble Dora The Explorer, or uses recycled egg cartons to create anything. Second, I get bored easily. I can only read that God damn Lighting McQueen book so many times before I start to lose it. My attention span for playing Hotwheels is about 3.2 minutes. Third, I'm claustrophobic and I like to spend money way, way way too much. "Staying at home" meant one too many $250 purchases at Target, just to..."get out."  So over the next few years I did contract and part time work.   Most recently I have worked somewhere between 24-32 hours a week, from home and while in many ways it has been wonderful, it has also left me feeling lonely and unfulfilled. I have felt as though I was straddling two worlds, part stay at home mom, part working mom, but I didn't quite fit into either category.  Too busy and stressed to volunteer for the PTA and not dedicated enough to advance my career. I knew that something had to give.

 I am a recruiter, a woman who has always derived her energy from interacting with others.  While working from home afforded me amazing flexibility which has been nice for my family, it has slowly sucked the life out of me.  I need to be around people. Specifically grown-ups. And while I dearly love my children, I feel the need to be in the workforce.  I want face to face adult relationships, staff meetings and occasional happy hours. I want to feel I'm a valuable player on an awesome team.  I want  to get the hell out of my ratty yoga pants and into a decent pair of heels.

So I did it.  I accepted a full time recruiting gig with a great company. I have an office in downtown Denver. I will have coworkers, business cards and occasional travel.  I am thrilled.  Excited. And yes a little scared.  Change is scary. Will I be successful? Will my kids be happy? Will I? Does this decision make me a bad mother?

I'm a firm believer that reasonable risk is a good thing.  This is a big step, and a bit of a risk, but I'm ready. I'm ready for a change. I'm ready to leave my basement and reenter the world. I'm ready to take the leap of faith, that if I am happier and more fulfilled, my family will reap the benefits too.

So cheers to all of you moms and dads out there who have made these difficult decisions for yourselves. Cheers to the stay at home dads, the part time working moms, the parents who don't have a choice and those that decide to work outside the home. We all try and do what's best for our families, and we will keep trying until we get it right.

I feel I have made the right decision. I'm feel excited about this next chapter in my life.  I feel....good!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What To Expect: Seymour You're Doing It Wrong!

What To Expect When You Are A 40 Year Old Mother Of Three School Aged Boys

Dear Moms (No. You are no longer a mommy. You will never be a mommy again.),

 You no longer have the time to read a full book about parenting while lovingly patting your nice round belly and dreaming of the new life inside.  You no longer have naps. You have been told that plopping your kids in front of electronic devices is a cardinal sin for which you will burn in a fiery hell infested with SpongeBob and very sharp Lego pieces strategically placed to meet your barefoot at 5 o'clock in the morning. With your busy lifestyle, I thought it would be best to simply break life down into bullet points, something you can skim as you single-handedly  whip up three PBJs (one hold the jelly, add honey, one crusts removed light peanut butter and one cut into quarters) while creating a clever Pinterst worthy science project due tomorrow. So here you have it, what to expect when you are a 40-something mother of three school aged boys: 

  • Random strangers will stop telling you how adorable your children are, and if they do, you should be afraid. No seriously back away from the creepy pedophile-child abductor and flee.
  • Worried about your social calendar? Don't be! It will be booked solid for the foreseeable future with school fundraisers, soccer games, school fundraisers, baseball games, school fundraisers, basketball games, school fundraisers, birthday parties and hey, did I mention, school fundraisers?
  • You will now actually have to actively budget for birthday party gifts and.... school fundraisers. 
  • Yes! You will still get me-time, have no fear.  It's called, the dentist, the gyno, cleaning the bathrooms*, a mammogram and maybe, just maybe, a haircut.
  • *Clean & bathroom are two words that will actually never be uttered (honestly) again. 
  • You will be stumped, on a regular basis by your third graders math homework. 
  • You may find yourself horrified when your six year old asks, upon seeing your naked belly if he is going to have a new brother. 
  • You will smile when you hear "Hi Zack's Mom" and cringe when you here "Mam" far more often than you would like. 
  • You will still get plenty of free parenting advice, don't worry! Nobody will be shy about telling you what you are doing wrong and how you are permanently damaging your offspring with  too much sugar, glutton, rules, lack of discipline, over protection, coddling, swearing, PG movies, processed food and.... you get the point. Seymour, You're doing it wrong! (Random Simpsons reference for you fans.) 
  • You will feel guilty on a daily basis for your lack of participation in the PTA, unless you are in the PTA, in which case you will feel resented on a daily basis by non-participating parents who believe you should "get a life." 
  • You might contemplate getting a bumper sticker, like "soccer mom" or "proud parent of an honor role student" and then you will be overcome with an overwhelming disgust for yourself.
  • You are totally accustomed to seeing a pair of dirty underwear on your coffee table or a naked butt on the sofa. 
  • You are reminded on at least a weekly basis that you do not in fact have a penis, but a "gina", and this is regarded as an utter tragedy. 
  • You see your grocery bill skyrocketing, realizing that it is only going to get worse and worse and you wonder how the the Pilgrims did it without Walmart. 

I could go on, and perhaps there will be a second edition of What to Expect, but it's 9:30 on a Saturday night, and I'm a 40 year old mom of three school aged boys, and I need get to bed...... 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kargas Inc, Code of Conduct

Kargas Inc Code Of Conduct. 

Dear Kargas Inc Employees,

Thank for your time at our last all staff.  Based on the fact that several employees were shoving fingers in their ears while humming "I can't hear you" and no noticeable changes have resulted from our meeting I am concerned that my points did not come across.  In an effort to be very clear about company expectations I have created a Code Of Conduct.  I expect you to read these over until committed to memory. For staff members who are unable to read, we are working on an animated tutorial featuring Spongebob, Dora and Bart Simpson.  

  1. In this company all staff members deserve to be treated with respect.  From this point forward if I witness name calling, physical threats, door slamming or eye rolling, I will take a 30 minute break in my personal office with a bottle of wine.  
  2. Regarding our company's eating areas, it is imperative that all staff members wear pants to meals.  In addition, as you know the restroom is located directly adjacent to the common eating area.  It is required that you close the door when using the facility. 
  3. While we here at Kargas Inc appreciate artistic expression it is not acceptable to carve tick-tack-toe games into fine furniture, or to use permanent marker on clothing, walls, body parts, floors, furniture or bedding.
  4. In order to reduce the risk of a rat infestation we request that you do not leave cups of milk or half eaten sandwiches in hidden places throughout the facility.  
  5. Please remember that I am the CEO of this company, not Stupid-Idiot-Jerk-Snot-Butt-Fart. Please call me "Mom" "Boss" or "Our Queen." 
  6. Our current finances due not allow for us to hire an entire kitchen staff.  Thus, we will require you eat the meal that is provided. We assure you that you will not die from the consumption of lasagna, vegetable soup or chicken teriyaki. While senior leadership do not possess culinary degrees, we are trained in food safety and we have yet to kill anyone with our cooking. 
  7. Please take pride in your environment.  Office space and furnishings are expensive.  Please refrain from destroying company property whenever possible. We realize that our big screen tv was recently "accidentally" smashed when a Wii controller was inadvertently hurled at it after a lost game of Super Mario Brothers Galaxy, but please, please lets have fewer accidents.  

Please note that this list is fluid and we reserve the right to continually amend and add to our code of conduct.   

Thank you for your time. 

With Little Hope Of Real Change,

Mom, CEO, Queen, Boss.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Yom Kippur: At Home

So we are in the midst of the High Holidays. Today in fact,  most of my fellow MOT's are in   synagogue. They will fast. They will reflect. They will repent.

I don't belong to a temple. I don't observe most of the Jewish holidays.  Over the past few years I have made half-hearted attempts to embrace Jewish culture and tradition mostly because I wanted to share this with my children. Zachary and Evan attended a Jewish preschool. Each year we light the menorah, I have taken the boys solo to family friendly Rosh Hashanah services and we have attempted to create something that resembles a seder.

But this year, on the holiest of Jewish holidays, Yom Kippur, I sit at home.  We had soccer this morning. Errands to run. My husband is in Kansas City for the weekend. And in all honestly, I have had a pretty lousy week.

Monday, I rear ended a truck. Yes. It was my fault.

Thursday a visit to the orthopedist resulted in orders for an MRI, which will likely reveal that my ankle has not properly healed and I will require surgery.

Friday morning after discussing a variety of symptoms at my annual physical my doctor informed me that I am in fact probably in peri-menopause.  She said something about my ovaries petering out. Drying up. I received orders for my first mammogram and a bone density scan.  Welcome to FORTY.

Friday afternoon, my boss called me and basically told me that I am being replaced by a local recruiter, and that the remote situation was not meeting the business needs. It came as a surprise as I had felt very good about work in the past couple of months.

And my husband is in Kansas City.

So I was prepared to be in poor spirits this weekend. In no mood for services. In no mood to repent for my sins when it feels like this whole week has been one punishment after the next.

At 11:00 last night as I lay awake, unable to find sleep once again, I started thinking. Perhaps the timing of all of this couldn't be more perfect.  Whether I like it or not circumstances have pushed me into a time of change and uncertainty. I can bury my head under the covers and cry, or I can embrace a new start and learn from my experiences.  I can reflect on what I have done in this past year to contribute to my misfortune, and I can admit to myself what I need to work on in the coming year.

This new year is full of opportunity. In addition to the mistakes I have made in the past twelve months, I have also done some pretty awesome shit. I have made strides in understanding where I excel professionally, and now I will have the chance to follow my passions. I have learned a great deal about self acceptance, and I can live more comfortably with my perceived "flaws." I have opened my mind in many ways which I believe will ultimately  open myself up to greater happiness.

Although not I'm not in synagogue, I believe this weekend I have embraced the spirit of the this holy day, perhaps more than in any year past.

So I wish my friends and family Shana Tova, a sweet New Year, and G'mar Chatima Tova, may you be inscribed for goodness.