Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The year in review at 18 months

This year has been an eventful one folks. Here are some of the major highlights:

Food: Folks, I learned that a meal can be more than warmish liquid fed to me under the heavy cover of a hooter hider. It comes in all forms. I especially like the goldfish variety. I mean have you tried this delicacy? Crunchy cheese flavored morsels from heaven. They are especially delicious when mashed up on the floor and mixed with a sprig or two of doggie fur. Mmmmm.. Divine.

Walking: It was around October when I discovered that one can transport themselves by walking on two feet. It spares the knees and palms of your hands. I am telling you, simply ingenious. For all of my younger friends, do not wait until you hit 14 months-that is just criminal.

Falling in Love: It's true. It happened about three months ago. I met the softest, most inviting friend. She is blue, square, squishy and lovely. I can rest my head on her at night, and I can stick her stringy tassels in my mouth for extra comfort. I take her with me everywhere I go. My mommy tries to keep her in my crib, but I won't hear of it! Pillow goes where I go. We are a team.

English: I have mastered the art of communication with the big people. I have learned several of their words, and it has had an amazing impact on my quality of life. All I need to do is utter "watee" and all of the sudden I am presented with a cup of cool liquid refreshment. Fabulous! "Uppy" and I am carried around like the Prince I was born to be. "Mine!" and my brother takes the desired object and hits me in head with it, not ideal... but well you get the idea.

2009 has been a fantastic adventure. In June, I was given a cake and many gifts... and just this December I met a scary man named Santa Claus who also presented me with toys and candies. I can only imagine what 2010 will bring! Someone told me I will be given the privilege of a a "big boy" bed, and a tricycle. I don't want to dream too big.

I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year filled with more goldfish crackers and apple juice than you could ever want. May all of your dreams come true.

With love,

Evan-18 months

Monday, December 28, 2009

Flying the Friendly Skies

I have had quite enough of airports. I would be perfectly satisfied to stay home bound for the foreseeable future, particularly if traveling means hauling around the kids and all of the required small fry gear. In the past two weeks I have taken four flights with my offspring and I am perfectly exhausted from the experience.

I am positive that I am not making any earth shattering comments when I bring up the fact that air travel has changed since I was a child. We all know that the events of September 2001 forever changed the flying experience.

I did not travel by plane frequently when I was young, so perhaps the details are a bit fuzzy. My memories of flying include breakfast at a small diner in the Madison airport, a pair of shiny plastic wings received as I boarded, small bags of salty peanuts served with soda, and an in-flight meal which always included a little wilted salad and a dried up dinner roll with a pat of butter. I looked forward to those tasteless dinners because they were somehow special.

My son's memories will be oh-so different. Today he surprised me while we were going through security. Without any coaxing Zachary began disrobing as we approached the metal detectors. He took off his jacket, his shoes and his Diego back-pack. He reluctantly handed me Mr. Brown Doggie so I could place him in a plastic bucket headed for the x-rays. He did ask, why? Why does Mr. Brown Doggie have to go in the bucket? Why do I have to take off my shoes? How do I answer that in any way that would make sense to a four year old? Or even to a 35 year old? Really? Your going to xray a child's stuffed dog in the name of the FAA? I know, it is a complex and sad predicament we find ourselves in. There are no easy answers. For Zack, there are no airplane snacks or meals, and children are no longer given plastic wings or coloring books, it's a no frills experience unless you are wealthy enough to pay for first class tickets.

Fortunately I was able to keep my son pacified with the portable DVD player and a few chocolate chip granola bars and at this point he views security as a strange but necessary part of air travel. At some time in the future my baby will be old enough to wonder what an orange alert means, and ask why he can't bring his water bottle through security. We will have to discuss terrorism, war and our sad economy. Innocence lost. I suppose they call that growing up, and right now that seems so very unappealing.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

It's Complicated

Christmas day, I saw a movie, in the theater. In this life that is a big deal. I can probably count on one hand the number of movies (with a rating higher than G) that I have seen in the actual theater in the past four years. My sister-in-law suggested the outing because when she was growing up hitting the theater was a holiday tradition. I have never been to a movie on a major holiday, and I have to say I rather enjoyed it.

We viewed It's Complicated with Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep and my not-so-secret crush John Krasinksi. First we need to talk about John. Good god, I am in love with this man. What is it about him? I doubt anyone would say he is the "hottest" famous guy around, but he is sexy because he is accessible. He reminds me of someone my husband would be buddies with. He is understated, funny, and normal. I told my mother-in-law that I would leave David for him. I am only half kidding.

So the movie was good, really funny and sweet. I hate to say it but what really struck me about the flick was Meryl Streep. She is old. I mean she really looks like an AARP member. Perhaps it's because I am thinking of her appearances in earlier films such as Kramer Vs. Kramer. But Kramer Vs. Kramer came out four years after I was born, and now I am 35 years old, so that makes Meryl...ancient. This is a little bit unsettling especially because I found myself identifying with her character (a woman in her late fifties with grown children) more than I did with the "kids" in the movie. Granted, I have a ways to go, but it says something that I am more middle age than college kid.

This has got me thinking a little bit about the celebrities of my youth. The beautiful people whose pictures adorned my locker and bedroom walls. Madonna, Michael Jackson, Michael J. Fox, Patrick Swayze, River Phoenix and Scott Baio. Of this list, three are dead, one is ill, one is a skinny freak who thinks she is Jewish, and the other is a has-been staring on bad reality TV. These days I am totally out-of-touch with pop culture. I don't know half of the stars in Tiger Beat (if that rag is still even around), and I honestly can't name even one Rhianna song. All of this adds up to the undeniable fact that I am old. Or at least not that young anymore.

Okay, okay, maybe I am getting a tad bit carried away. I realize it is a little early to be researching retirement homes, but it feels strange. I have one foot stretching to stay youthful, and the other planted in a sensible shoe on the other side of young. I'm torn about where I fit, and what feels right. I wouldn't say that I am in the middle of a midlife crisis, but rather just shocked to find myself identifying with an old lady in a movie I saw on Christmas. I guess... it's complicated.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays from New Mexico. The trip here was exhausting, but I cannot tell you how happy I was to see my husband at the Albuquerque airport. Praise the Lord, here are your children, peace-out, kind of happy.

Now I am sitting at my brother and sister in law's cozy home, getting ready for an evening of viewing luminaria , a New Mexican tradition. The husband is running Zachary to exhaustion in the backyard, and Evan is wondering around chewing apples and spitting them out, while breathing heavily because his nose is all stuffed up. Holiday music is playing on the stereo and I am sipping a glass of wine wondering... was it worth it?

It's great to be here, and perhaps if the trip to Denver with the kids sans husband hadn't drained the life out of me my answer would have been a resounding YES. But I am swearing on my life right now, there will be no future trips without the spouse in the near future. Id rather eat asparagus for Christmas dinner, and for those of you who know me, that is saying a heck of a lot.

Anyways, I am here with family, it is a lovely chaos and I need to get off of the computer. Holiday cheer to all.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Im a buzz kill

Let's be honest, traveling with small children is always hard, and "vacationing" with the little ones over the holidays carrying the expectation of Christmas magic in your heart is even harder. You envision jolly cookie baking sessions, a fun trip to the busy mall to visit Santa , cups of holiday cheer passed around a lovely fireplace la, la, la and ho ho ho.

Then there is reality. People get sick, flights are delayed, kids fight, one child hates the snow while the other one wants nothing more than to make snow angels all day long, your broken cell phone turns into several hours on hold with Verizon and icky trips to a shopping center to run cheerless errands. You realize that you lost this or that, and that you packed the wrong stuff. Somehow the magic gets lost in the details of living your every day life miles and miles away from home without your spouse. Exhaustion sets in, and suddenly the sad realization that you are wishing the whole damn season away.

There was a time in my life when festivity was my motto. David and I held an annual holiday bash with enough booze to light up the North Pole. It was our thing. I had fuzzy red sweaters and Santa socks. I shopped for weeks and even made my own wrapping paper (I am not exaggerating folks.) There were parties to attend, sparkly cocktails and evening gowns. Now well... it is an entirely different type of celebration, and one that should be very joyous, but at the moment I am feeling sucked dry and longing for the more carefree "Merry" of earlier times.

It is fair to say that I am a wee-bit self-centered. I still want Christmas to be a little bit about Rachel. I want to have some romance and excitement just for me... but alas this year it seems a bit sparse. It is an unusual year no doubt. We have recently up-rooted our family and moved several states away. Our usual holiday traditions were put aside. No neighborhood holiday party at the Kargas house, no grown-up cocktail event to attend, and few invitations to share the season with friends. This is in fact my first trip with both kids and no husband, and although it hasn't been terrible, it seems a little sad and has certainly been draining.

I am very thankful to have friends and family to visit. I love them dearly. Maybe that is what makes things a bit harder this year. Everyone is here... and we are sharing a brief hectic visit, cramming in as much jingle bells in a few days as possible. I don't want this to foreshadow the years to come. Harried visits over major holidays, catching up quickly while chasing after crazed children. Forced quality time.

I suppose this is how things go, and it is about making the most of the moment. In reading my comments above I realize I am a total buzz kill.... my attitude must change. Joy to the world.

Just wish me an easy trip to Albuquerque. It is suppose to snow and I have a tremendous fear of major flight delays. If we can make it to New Mexico on time and with both kids relatively healthy we have a chance at a pleasant, if not somewhat different holiday....

Why I don't have four kids

Zachary: "Milk please"
Evan: "Please:
Finn (my 2.5 year old nephew): Waives fork in Evan's face almost stabbing him in nose
Evan "Whaaaaa"
Zachary: Laughs hysterically
My Sister: "Finn! We don't hit people with forks. Forks are for eating"
Finn: "Whaaaa".
Zachary: "I said more milk!!"
Me: "Zachary that is not how we ask for something, how do we ask?"
Zachary: "I wanted the bigger plate! Why did Finn get more than me?"
Me: "He didn't. You have the same amount"
Zachary: "I wanted the MOST! Whaaaaa!"
Finn: Takes toy truck and try to throw it at Evan's head. Misses, but....
Evan: "Whaaaa".
My Sister: "Finn we don't throw our toys at people! Do you need a time out?"
Finn: "Whaaaa"
Kristoff (my four month old nephew) Whaaaaaa!!!!

And it's only 7:30am.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Many Friends

My son has many friends. Just ask him. He is very popular, especially amongst the stuffed animal set.

I thought I might introduce you to some of his best pals.

Mr. Brown Doggie (MBD): Zachary's dearest chum. MBD was a baby shower gift I received before Zachary was born. It hung out in his room untouched until Zachary turned two. At that point the pooch and Zack became inseparable. Wherever Zachary was MBD was not far behind. He was hugged and kissed, taken to the park, the grocery store, he traveled with us on cross country trips, he has been puked on, and snotted on, and by now he is a general filthy mess. Mr. Brown Doggie has a very interesting life. As it turns out he lives in Africa. He is five or 98 years old depending on the day. He has an airplane. He has been in several plane crashes. He attends the Berkeley Magnet School for Smart Dogs. God help us if we should ever misplace the mangy pup.

Bob Bear: Zachary actually inherited Bob Bear from his father. He is old and not particularly cute. He goes to bear school where he learns bear stuff, or so I am told. He is 198 years old, and has frequent birthdays, so my best guess is that bear years are much different than people years. We frequently call Bob Bear from Zachary's "cell phone" while we are traveling in the car.

Bob Junior: Bob Junior is a mini Bob Bear that 30 years ago was also daddy's. Bob Junior is Mr. Brown Doggies brother, it is a mystery to me seeing as they are different species. We don't know much more about Bob Junior, perhaps time will uncover more interesting details.

Vegan Bear: Yes, you read that correctly VEGAN Bear. This bear was one that my mother and I lovingly picked out when Zack was six months old at Build-A-Bear. Today Zachary describes him as a bear who's favorite food is lettuce and who is sort-of-mean. I would be mean too if all I got to eat was lettuce.

Zachary also has human friends- he especially loves his new friend Eli. Eli is beloved. Zachary recently informed me that he wished Eli was his brother instead of Evan and that he could live at Eli's house forever and ever. Finn is a best Denver friend. Zachary got to spend the night at Finn's house yesterday which was an amazing treat. Zachary and Finn spent a good deal of the previous evening chasing each other naked around the Cruwys Christmas tree. I think Finn's father was a little bit nervous about what this might possibly foreshadow, but I am hopeful that this was just little boy fun.

The one person still not on Zack's friend list is his little brother. The very brother who follows him around like a little puppy. Zachary still fantasizes about Evan's possible demise. He has wondered about Evan getting lost in Africa in a rain storm, or being left on the mountain side. Yet, every now and then if we watch very closely we see a glimpse of potential brotherly love. A giggle here and there, a toy shared.... I know the time is coming. Perhaps some day Evan may even find a spot in Zack's heart, one that could even take the place of MBD.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hello from Denver...wish you were here.

I'm home. That's right. Denver stills feel like home-sweet-home. I'm not writing much, because I am at my girlfriend's house sipping a cocktail and the boys are watching Monsters Vs. Aliens. I just wanted to put it out there that we did survive. After a 2 hour flight delay, a mal-functioning DVD player, and a broken cell phone-here we are, and actually it feels GREAT. I love it here.

Okay, so it has only been two months, so how much stock can you put in this statement, but it just feels like no time has past. This is my place. Denver how I love thee.

But traveling stinks, so maybe we should just move back. Really I can't tell you it was better than expected. Yes, nobody exploded mid-flight however, food was flung in every direction, Evan tried to rip my ears off, and the whole trip was no less than a life-sucking exhausting experience. So... therefor, if we could simply remove the travel-back-to-the-place-I-love element, and just live here, all would be grand.

Okay. I am being a rude guest and must say goodbye. Goodbye, and stay tuned...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Very Superstitious

HELP! HEEELLP! I have 13, that is 1-3 followers on my site. Oh thank you, thank you, to the 13th follower. Whatever motivated you to start reading my silly ol' blog I'll never, ever know, BUT this I am aware of...13 is an unlucky number. I may have to abandon this whole thing all together if MR. 14 does not show himself soon..... here Mr 14, here Mr. 14 I have treats! I promise. I'm witty! I'm silly! I make fun of my very own self. You'll love me I swear. Please, just please come around because 13 makes me very uncomfortable....

But lets be honest. Scan the list of my followers... can you find a KARGAS on it? No? Well that is funny, because you might think my very own husband would follow the ramblings of his beloved wife. Alas, no. No. Absent. GUILT TRIP.

So if it so behoves you, please sign up to follow, because I so hate the number 13...

Love and no superstition,

Monday, December 14, 2009

Don't be Tiger Woods

Okay, one last post before I head out of town. I simply can't help myself. I know that the media is saturated with Tiger Woods commentary and gossip, but I feel the need to contribute my two cents.

I am disgusted. Disappointed. Disheartened. I'm not a golf fan or a sports fan of any sort for that matter, however even I know who Tiger is. That baby face. So handsome, so clean cut. It is hard not to cheer for him. He is a bit of an inspiration. A young champion in a stuffy world of old white men. He is a role model. Yes he is. Does anyone else remember the "I'm Tiger Woods" ad campaign? Children wanted to be him. Parents wanted their offspring to turn out just like Tiger.

How are we feeling about that now mom and dad? While I would certainly applaud Zack or Evan becoming a billion dollar athlete, I honestly believe I would be much more rewarded if my children grew up to behave as good and decent men. While I don't know the facts it certainly appears that Tiger didn't merely make an isolated mistake of infidelity, this husband and father was cheating with multiple women. I pray that my children are never Tiger Woods.

My husband argues that we could expect nothing more of a famous professional athlete, and that in fact we should not care about their personal lives. He told me "We don't know him, he is just a man that is very talented at a sport. A great athlete, we should leave it at that". I think it is a bit more complicated. I look at this way, why does my husband worship the Twins? Is it because they are the all-time greatest baseball team in history? No. It's because they represent something he cares about, his home town. We cheer for the underdog in Olympic contests because they inspire us. Kids worship NBA stars because of their success and their cool image. Tiger also had an image, an image that along with talent led to his fame and wealth.

That image is gone. So does he deserve to continue to reap it's benefits with multi-million dollar endorsement contracts? In my opinion no. It was his job to uphold and live up to what he was selling us-Mr. Clean-Cut, All-American Family Man. If Nike believes a father of two small children who cheats on his wife with multiple partners still represents the brand's values, then who am I to argue?

I am guessing that my husband might take this argument one step further and say that the media should not be covering stories like this to begin with. We should leave private lives private. I might agree with that myself, however in reality this is not the current state of the universe, the media is ruthless and I am quite positive Mr. Woods is also well aware of this. He should have watched is behind and behaved like an upstanding human being. He had a lot on the line.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

You're Going To Miss Me.

Admit it, you are going to miss me. I know that you tune in daily and are riveted by my witty, thought provoking ramblings (wink,wink). Alas, as I embark on a 12 day journey to visit friends and family, I will be torn away from one of my greatest loves, the INTERNET.

While I know that my fingers will be itching to type away award worthy blog essays, I do not know that I will have access to a computer during my travels. Lord knows that I will be collecting materials while away. Come on what is better fodder for a mama blog than air travel with small children and a holiday with the in laws???

Rest assure that within about 24 hours of touching back down in California, I will be on line with blow by blow coverage of the Kargas family Christmas. You'll get more information than you bargained for, and more than likely it will be read-worthy. So please folks, have a happy, happy holiday... and don't abandon me. We are just getting started. I will return home on December 28th, and will be back a bloggin' soon.

Until then my cyber friends....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Facebook Wars

It can get ugly on Facebook. Verbal sparing with friends of friends. Bitch slaps through cyber-space. Unfriending the ultimate betrayal. U-G-L-Y.

I love Facebook. I am one of those annoying people who updates my status twice a day, and I am rarely witty. "Off to the grocery store!" "Eating a bagel! Yummy!" But it helps me to feel connected with friends that are far away, and to get to know new acquaintances a little better. And lets be honest who doesn't love sneaking a peek at the photos of your old high school "friends"? Who got fat? Who lost their looks? Dang! You know she got a boob job. It's like going to a high-school reunion without having to actually show up.

But then there is the down side of the so called social networking sight. The political posts. The TMI posts. And the fights. I have in fact been involved in a couple of these online arguments myself. The first tiff involved a guy from high school who I had no business being "friends" with in the first place because well, we never were friends. Yet he felt the need to comment on a post in which I had mentioned of all things breastfeeding. It was a very benign comment by the way. The mere mention of breastfeeding made the poor fellow's ears burn. He is a delicate flower I suppose. He responded saying that he is offended by open displays of breastfeeding and apparently the mere mentioning of the foul behavior bothered him. I let the comment slide, but some of my facebook friends, including my mother and brother in-law responded, and a facebook war ensued. Words like racist, ignorant and childish were used. The ultimate result... the dude defriended me. But I wanted to defriend him first. No fair!

More recently, I commented on a friend's post about her baby who refuses to sleep. I told her that the cry-it-out method worked well for me. Well another individual, who is not my friend, decided to publicly criticize my parenting choices. She basically told everyone that the thought of making a child cry themselves into exhaustion, forcing the baby to "pass out" made her very uncomfortable. Good lord, the way she put it, I am basically an abusive monster of a mama. Well I took the higher road, and responded with a simple "it worked for me!" and let it go. I wanted to give her a piece of my mind for humiliating me on facebook, but instead... I am venting my frustrations to you, my lucky readers.

There have been other arguments as well, I got in a disagreement with a stranger about a ridiculous video a mutual friend had posted. The presentation claimed that Obama was a Muslim, and it basically insinuated that being a Muslim was equivalent to devil worshipping. I didn't like the video, the stranger disagreed, it wasn't pretty.

So I suppose Facebook puts us in contact with people we might not otherwise come across, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps people get a little more bold when in email land, and we aren't as polite as we should be. It is a small price to pay for the privilege of easily telling 160 people the most minute details of my life and in turn, learning what my friends are cooking for dinner half way around the world....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It's still home.

In less than a week the boys and I are headed back "home". I am braving the friendly skies alone with the munchkins. The husband is staying behind to earn a living and will join us in Albuquerque for Christmas. Am I excited, well yes... but perhaps a better adjective would be PETRIFIED. Teeth chattering, bone shaking, nausea inducing fear. Two frantic children, above the clouds, trapped in tight corridors with no escape. Trekking through airports toting two car seats, Christmas gifts and gear to last us two weeks away from home base. Nap schedule be damned. Routine-out the window. Destination: Melt-Down City. All aboard....

But it will be good right? Right? Someone say right. Right Now.

I'll be back in the neighborhood a few days. I'll see the friends I miss. I'll drive past The House. The 3000 square foot house that I came home to after the birth of both of my sons. The House on our beloved street. Perhaps I'll run into old neighbors. The neighbors who always said hello to us. The neighbors who invited us for wine and birthday parties. They will all ask... so how is Berkeley? How do you like it out there?

Well truth be told, I like it fine. Just fine. Good weather. Sight-seeing every weekend. It's good.

But going back, it will be bittersweet. It will remind me of what I left behind. I am afraid that my life today will pale in comparison to the comfort of my Denver home, family and friends.

So okay.... there is the traveling alone with a four year old and an 18 month old who refuses to be carried, and there is the possible pain of leaving loved ones once again, but can I let that stop me? No, we are Denver-bound, for better or for worse. I'll brave the flight. I'll brave the cold. I'll brave the possible "I miss you tears". I have to go. It's still home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

New Mom vs. Experienced Mom

New Mom: On daycare picture day orders the Super-Deluxe package including a wall-size print, six 8x10's, twelve 5x7's, 56 wallet photos, tote bag with child's photo imprinted on it and a bonus Christmas ornament.

Experienced Mom: Out of guilt purchases the mini-package including only six wallet photos. Who are we kidding, Junior just isn't that photogenic.

New Mom: Enjoys special shopping trips to carefully pick out a very coordinated wardrobe from favorite kiddie stores, Gymboree or Baby Gap. Her son will be the cutest on the playground!

Experienced Mom: Seriously contemplates buying son a pleated shirt with a slight ruffle at the collar found at local thrift shop. It's super cheap and doesn't have any (noticeable) holes.

New Mom: Whips out spare outfit at the first splatter of spaghetti sauce.

Experienced Mom: If the clothing item isn't visibly growing mold, it's probably just fine.

New Mom: Worries constantly about child's diet. Is he getting enough protein? Vitamin A? Fiber? Why won't she eat blueberries, all kids eat blueberries. If she doesn't eat blueberries how will she get her antioxidants?

Experienced Mom: A fruit roll up counts as a meal.... right?

New Mom: Records every milestone in baby's memory book. "First time baby sat up" "first time baby smiled" "first time junior blew his nose by himself".

Experienced Mom: There is no need to write all of this down sweetie, how could I forget it?

New Mom: Has a constant children's sing-along at home. Packs away own CD's in favor of Music Together compilations and Disney soundtracks.

Experienced Mom: Tries to instill an interest "real" music and is in constant search for profanity-free lyrics.

New Mom: Hires an expert to come in and offer child proofing tips to keep her precious darling safe.

Experienced Mom: Instead of baby-proofing, attempts to reason with child-the cost of anything you break is coming directly out of your college fund.

I could go on and on......

Monday, December 7, 2009


I was truly inspired to write a post about a god-awful Christmas song that I heard while listening to our local bay area light-rock station. Honestly, you may think you know from bad music but you haven't heard anything until you've tuned into this gem. I'll put it this way the lyrics feature barbecued boar. No, I'm not kidding. Nothing says Christmas like barbecued boar am I right?

Any who, thinking about how hilarious my post would be, I decided that I would google the lyrics so I could include them in my story. Sadly, the search lead me to a fellow blogger who already did a piece on the very topic. Apparently I am not all that original. Who knew. Well her comments were ridiculously funny, dare I say that she is far more articulate than I am and therefor I decided to provide a link.

Beyond pointing out how painfully bad this particular musical creation is, I also intended to make a larger point. It is so not like Christmas out here. When the best thing a song can feature about the holiday season in the bay area is barbecued boar and the golden gate bridge-you know there is something wrong with the picture. What does the golden gate bridge have to do with Christmas anyway? As far as I know the landmark stands year round.

Some how the city of Berkeley seems to be particularly cheer-less. I have driven around our neighborhood in search of gaudy light displays and the inflatable snowman that are so popular in Denver and I have been disappointed to find almost nothing. A few weak attempts at decorations- maybe a wreath here or there, but overall it seems a bit grinchy around these parts.

Sadly, I have let the lack of Christmas spirit rub off on me. We in fact have no Christmas tree this year. Depressing I know. I have reasoned that we are headed out of town for the holidays and that we won't even be here. We just moved and all of the Christmas decorations and ornaments are packed away. Quite frankly I can't face the idea of unpacking all the little trinkets, and sweeping up all the prickly pine needles. It's just too much work. But still. Zachary inquired about our lack of a tree and I explained that Aunt Amanda & Uncle Michael will have a tree at their house in New Mexico. However we aren't even staying in their home, we are going to be in a tree-less 2 bedroom vacation property with my in laws. Fa-la-la-la-la. Don't get me wrong, I adore my my brother-in-law and his family and I am looking forward to spending time with them-yet there is something that just feels wrong about waking up without a tree in a strange home on Christmas morning.

So there you have it folks. For the first year in ages Rachel is the big fat scrooge. I'm hanging on for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Jogging is my exercise of choice. It's free, requires no equipment and you can do it almost anywhere. On my good days, I could almost say that I enjoy it. I like the time to myself, the feeling of my body in motion and the sense of accomplishment. Most days however, it is more of a chore, bordering on self-torture.

Today was one of the bad days.

I head out the door around 9am. It is a Sunday so Dave watches the boys and I don't need to push the jog stroller which is a relief. It's later than I meant it to be and the weather is warmer than I anticipated. I over dressed. This is only my second work out this week. No real excuses, I have become a weekend only exerciser. Not the best fitness plan admittedly, but I am L-A-Z-Y.

After a block or two of brisk walking I break into a jog. And by that I mean a slow jog. A real runner would probably consider it speed walking, but I am going to stick with jogging. About five minutes into my run I am already regretting the second cup of coffee I had this morning. I can feel liquid sloshing around in my stomach and I am starting to get a stitch in my side. I knew this was going to suck.

I trudge on, congratulate myself for getting out there. It is just as I am starting to psych myself up for the rest of the journey "Go Rachel! You are a rock star. Most of America can't even run 2 miles!" I see a ridiculously fit hot couple running toward me. She is petite with calves of steel. Her hair pulled back in a neat pony tail, her muscular thighs in light blue spandex, and a fashionable running t-shirt. He is ripped and talking to her without showing any sign of exertion. Crap. I look down at my own ensemble. Fleece pants meant for running in the Denver snow which I purchased last year when I was a heck of a lot skinnier so on-top of the fact that they are stupid warm for the balmy Berkeley weather, they are also less than flattering. My shirt is a running top from REI, which would be fine if it weren't for the baby snot stains on my shoulder.

Onward. I hit the mile mark. Only a mile??? I am at the corner of Sacramento & Dwight, at the HomeMade Cafe, a delightful and popular neighborhood breakfast spot. As I approach I can smell bacon grease, maple syrup and coffee. I sneak a peek as I run by. Families enjoying breakfast together, laughing over short stacks. Singles lingering over coffee with the new york times. Hung over college students in sweats letting the alcohol absorb into fluffy biscuits and gravy. Jealous much? The sight reminds me of my days in Minneapolis. Heading out on a cold winter morning to drink coffee and sip bloody marys in a souvenir pint glass at the Uptown Tavern. We have a whole cabinet of bloody glasses to prove that it actually happened. A. Long. Time. Ago. At least I don't have to burn of those calories I tell myself, pressing on.

I'm not getting any faster. My legs feel like five ton weights. I'm not even half way done.

I turn on to San Pablo, a street lined with thrift shops and international markets. I can usually distract myself by looking in the windows and making mental notes of future shopping destinations. Today I run by a nursery selling Christmas trees. For some reason as I hear the crunch of fallen leaves under my feet and I feel the sweat beading on my forehead this depresses me. I start to think about how un-christmasy it feels here in Berkeley. To be passing by flowering bushes and fall colors and to feel down right hot on my morning jog. Bah-Humbug.

The rest of my run is uphill. Mind you not a steep climb, but when I am running anything more than perfectly flat qualifies. A homeless man yells at me "Work it out lady! Run!". If he was trying to inspire me, it worked, I am running the hell away from him. Uphill. Well sort-of.

Finally home is four blocks away, so I slow my already snail-pace to a walk. Done. My fleece pants are sticking to me. I cannot wait to tear them off. Until next weekend...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mama Strike

I want to go on a strike. A diaper changing strike. I house cleaning strike. A laundry strike. A cooking hiatus. I sabbatical from being responsible. See the thing is, I started out doing these things with a pleasant attitude. But these tasks are never done. The diapers keep coming, and coming. I'll change one and think I am good for a couple of hours and head out of the house to run errands. It's usually at a store or a park sans changing table that I realize Iv been called back to the line of duty...and I forgot the wipes. And these kids, they keep eating. Well sort of. One morning I make them gourmet scrambled eggs with sauteed veggies and three kinds of cheese and they gobble it up. Then the very next morning they are screaming for more, only to turn their noses up at the meal when it arrives at the table, they would prefer a frozen waffle please.

And the cleaning. Don't get me started. Yes I admit it- I pay a lovely cleaning woman to visit us every other week and de-funk our home, but only days later the place is a pit and I am chasing everyone around with a broom. The animals keep shedding, and someone keeps throwing cheerios on the floor. The tiny house looks like a tornado went through by 8 am.

As far as this responsibility thing goes.... it can be boring. Even when granted a rare grown-up night out without children, we are checking our cell phones, and watching the clock. We don't want to get home past ten. The rug rats still rise at 6am, and they are hungry, and thirsty, and need their DIAPERS changed. What happened to staying out past midnight and not waving the waitress away after only two drinks saying "I can't possibly". Okay so I have a sensible mom hair-do, but I still want to let it down so to speak.

Before a loyal reader calls social services on me, I promise I love my children.... I just want a little break. A no-mothering-duties-what-so-ever week. Or weekend, I won't be greedy.

Speaking of diapers. My temporary strike is over. The odor wins.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meter Maid

I yelled at a meter maid today. Yelled at her. Told her this city was messed up, and stalked off. I was pissed off. My meter must have expired by all of 2 minutes and I got slapped with a $40 ticket. I seriously do not understand how this state could possibly be broke with the money they must be raking in from innocent parents just trying to pick their children up from preschool. The parking in Berkeley outright sucks. You have to pay to do just about anything around here. Even after you plug your meter you are still on a short leash. You better set an alarm. You have TWO HOURS, and then you need to remove your vehicle or be prepared to pay the hefty price. That is all you get around here-two hours, which may be good for the meter maids, but could not possibly be working out too well for shop owners. You park your car on upscale Solano, go grab some lunch, maybe get your nails done, and it sure would be nice to stop into the trendy shoe store across the street, but opps, gotta go move my car. Prada can wait. But today, all I wanted to do was pick up my son from school. I plugged the meter for 25 minutes which should have been plenty of time, but Evan had a diaper emergency, Zack forgot his lunch box, and I got caught up in some playground drama. I was told by an eye-witness that the official in the little white car sat there waiting for my meter to expire, and bounded out of her door less vehicle as soon as the meter flashed red. I saw that nasty city employee three cars down from mine as I emerged from school. I tried to argue with her, but it was useless. She had a quota to meet. We have a budget to balance. I have a bone to pick.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Deep thoughts, with Rachel Kargas

Kids ask hard questions. The why questions that make us search our brain to recall the lessons in meteorology or chemistry that we learned back in high school. The questions we have forgotten to be curious about. There are the ones we expect. "Why is the sky blue?" "Why is the grass green?" And the ones that take us off guard "We aren't ever going to die right?" Oh Lord. For the most part the questions remind me consider the shear magic of every day life, but there are other inquires that I haven't thought much about since I was a child, and for good reason. They frighten me.

The questions about death started recently when someone at preschool brought up the topic of Michael Jackson's demise. "Mommy, why is Michael Jackson dead?" Hmmmm... good question. I decided it was best not to dive into the possible homicide case and instead dodged the inquiry all together. (Cookies anyone??) But a few days later we were paging through Zachary's baby book and came upon a photo of his great grandfather, Leonard who passed away about a year after Zack's birth. Zachary looked at his photograph and asked "Who is that mommy?" "Your great grandfather Leonard" I answered. "Will I ever see him?" he wanted to know. "No sweetie, you won't." "Mommy why?" "Well because grandpa Leonard died". "Why did he die mommy?" I responded that grandpa was very old and that when you get very old your body stops working. He looked at me nervously and said "But your not going to die right?" I told him yes, that someday I would but that it wouldn't be for a very long time. With fear in his eyes he said "Are you going to leave me alone?" Oh sweetie.... I tried to alleviate his fears and tell him that it wouldn't be for a very, very long time when he was a grown up and I was old. Then I changed the subject.

I hate discussing or thinking about death. I remember as a child I would lie in bed and wonder about it and I would feel a cold fear in the pit of my stomach that I simply could not shake. My mother told me once that it was something I need not worry about, that by the time I was even close to death, I would be much older and then I would understand it better. This truly comforted me and I believed that some day I would no longer fear dying. Now Zachary has questions. I don't have the gift of religion to fall back on. I don't believe in pearly gates and angels sitting on puffy clouds playing harps. I wish I did. I wish I could tell Zachary that someday he would see his great grandfather in heaven, but I can't, not with a straight face anyways. And so I told him what my own mother told me. He remains curious, but I think I have placated him for now. For now. Until perhaps his own child asks him "What happens when we die daddy?"

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday night.