Friday, April 30, 2010

It is all relevant

Nothing makes you feel older than working with a bunch of fresh-faced fashionista 20-somethings in their prime. The youthful figures. The high pitched eager voices. The over-achieving, will-travel, can pull 12 hour days and over-nighters, dedication of an up & coming rising star. I haven't been confronted with such a scene, well ever. Even when I myself was 25, I never really felt it. I didn't work for "young" companies per se. I guess the organizations I worked for were more traditional, a bit stogy even. I would never for example, have wine served to me at my desk, (as I did today). I would never have heard a coworker discuss how he was building a full bar in his cubical for office happy hours (as I did today).

Today, I moved offices and closer to the hipsters. All of the sudden I found myself munching on brie and sipping pinot girigio at 4:30 with a bunch of 22-25 year olds. And man did I feel OLD. Freaking Old. Not in a good way. In an unattractive, wrinkly, boring way.

They were sweet to me. Not a bit condescending. Totally engaging and professional. I seriously doubt I was anywhere near as composed as they were ten years ago. "Oh you live in Berkeley!" they chimed. "It's pretty there right?". Uh huh. "You have two kids! Neat! Kids are sooo cute!" Yup.

I was impressed by their kindness and willingness to invite me into their circle. But I don't belong. Not really. Yes we talked fashion. They nodded at each other knowingly when discussing the need for a lower rise skinny jean in the market. Lower rise?? Are you freaking kidding me? I now fully understand the "mom" jean trend, gotta suck it in somehow right? They chatted about brand names I have never heard of. They moved on to reminisce about recent happy hours that I have not and never will be a part of...gotta catch the 5:24 train to be home by 6:00 and see my kids!

We talked about age a bit. I gave a speech about feeling old but realizing that there a ton of benefits of being an older, more "seasoned" professional. I gave them a wink and a nod and excused myself from the party, so I could head for home. As I slid through the front doors of the office building and flipped on my trendy (yet cheap knock off version) sunglasses, I started to reason with myself. It is better to be a real grown up. It feels great to be respected for my expertise. I have more confidence in my abilities now. I walked quickly down the busy San Francisco streets, headed towards BART, headed towards Berkeley, headed towards my boys, headed towards home.

A part of me wished I could stay in the city, continue to drink cheap wine with my coworkers and chat with them about office politics. A part of me wished that I had a quiet apartment to return to at 1am after a night of "blowing off steam", instead of a noisy messy house that begs for cleaning and laundry. Sometimes it's a big part of me.

But I got on the train and made the trip home. I emerged from underground and stepped out into my sunny Berkeley neighborhood, and felt a sort of calmness wash over me. And yet I was also greeted with the familiar feeling of excitement. Excitement to see my boys. My pace quickened towards home and I envisioned son's faces, I knew that they would be happy to see me.

And tonight here in Berkeley my ancient 35-year-old self enjoyed dinner out with my boys at Zachary's Pizza. (Little plug, the place is beyond yummy). Sure my new co-workers back in San Francisco were out partying in their cute outfits (or still plugging away behind their computer screen), but here I am with a family. And yes, in case you are wondering, I do realize that someday I will look back at this time wistfully, remembering my youth...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why we need bibs.

So this whole bib give-away contest (see my last post), has got me to thinking. Thinking about what a pack of messy eaters the Kargas family are. It must somehow be genetic. My kids certainly get their sloppiness from me. But, given that philosophy, how did I inherit the piggy gene? I don't believe that my mother or father are particularly messy eaters. But lord knows I am. I seem to become exponentially more of a food magnet when I am wearing an outfit that I particularly like. Designer jeans seem to beacon to oily salad dressing, a white blouse from Bebe, hello red wine! It leads me to believe that Hip Violet might be smart to start marketing an adult line of bibs. Or plastic clothing.

But my children, they take the cake when it comes to messy eating, and I literally mean take the cake. Cake in the hair, under the finger nails, and all over their outfits. I know, I know, kids are suppose to be careless with their food. As parents we are to expect stained clothing and sticky fingers. But Zack and Evan I honestly believe they have a special gift for taking a meal and making a complete disaster of themselves. I can't tell you how many birthday parties I have attended with the boys and looked around the room of happy cake eaters neatly putting fork to mouth. Yes, perhaps there may be a smear of frosting on a little girl's frilly sleeve cuff, or a bit of a grape juice mustache. But my sons, they look like they have rolled around in dessert. I don't get it. While it may take a little baby wipe to clean up most post snack kiddos, my children require a shower.

I have no idea why. My only guess... it's me. I'm a slob, and my offspring have sadly inherited the trait.

Think I am exaggerating? I have proof.....

Monday, April 26, 2010

Blog Contest: Win a Super Cute Bib from Hip Violet!

I always dreamed of dressing girls. Pink jumpers, frilly socks, patten-leather shoes. I would spare no expense.

I had two boys.

So... for better or for worse, the shopping frenzy never happened. I did not take the whole thing lightly. Days after the ultrasound that shattered every hope and dream I had of prom and wedding dress shopping I found myself in a Gymboree. I was going to find a few cute outfits for my baby boy. I left in tears. The store clerks looked at me confused. Did you not see the adorable baseball t-shirts on special? One of them even said "Daddy's Little Slugger". So sweet!

So lame, I thought to myself. I'll put it in the pile of clothes I already owned. "Daddy's Little Helper" (With a saw and a hammer printed on), a #1 Football Fan! T-shirt (no doubt bought on special at Costco) and a romper decorated with various bugs. All "boy" outfits, all UGLY.

To comfort myself I told myself that if I had given birth to females, I would have gone bankrupt with all the cute girly outfits. Lucky for me I have two boys and boy clothes, aren't worth it. So I buy what is on special at Target, and save a whole bunch of green.

And it is true. I usually choose to dress my boys in whatever happens to be cheapest, whatever is on sale. The end result is a very uninspired wardrobe for my boys. Which is okay. It's okay until you start to examine your family photographs and realize that your children look awful. And then you realize that there may be some room in the closet for a few special items that you can pull out when the camera's flash starts to flicker.....

Enter Hip Violet. I know sounds girly, but actually there are cute moderately priced items for girls and dah, da, dah.... boys too. Yes boys too. The brand name is valid. The clothes are hip. And they are made from an entrepreneurial Denver mama. She uses whimsical fabric (think retro cowboys and rockets) and creates T-shirts, onsies and bibs that are anything but generic. My boys actually own several long sleeve Hip Violet shirts, and I pull them out for our first (play) dates with new families or for when an occasion might call for a camera.

And now... you too have an opportunity to WIN a super cute Hip Violet Bib! (Pictured above.)

To enter you must a)Be a follower and b)Post a comment telling me about your tot's fashion mishaps, or just say "hello!" I want to hear from you! Please post your comment by May 1. . I will announce the winner on this site on May 2nd.

You can find Hip Violet on the following sites:

Good luck!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Day At The Beach

There are some verbal expressions that just lose their meaning with the change of life circumstances. Sayings that once rang true suddenly become sadly ironic.

Case in point:

"It was no day at the beach". The common usage: "I had a root canal today, it was no day a the beach." Implying the obvious, that a day at the beach is a lovely, enjoyable relaxing experience, completely the opposite of a dental appointment.

Clearly whom ever penned this phrase was not accustomed to visiting the beach with a 22 month old and a preschooler. I however have, and let me assure you, relaxation does not fit into the equation.

I hate to sound so negative. Admittedly our trips to the ocean qualify as pure-honest-to-God, quality family time. Zachary in particular adores the sand and the waves. He and is daddy spend hours running back and forth filling up buckets of sea water and building sloppy lopsided sand castles. Its sweet. But relaxing? Hardly.

Evan, has a different take on our beach adventures. Apparently my son, who doesn't think twice about walking around with snotty nose and food crusted in his hair does not like the idea of sand sticking to his feet and hands making them "mussy". He spends the entire time demanding to be physically transported from one spot to the next, so his precious feet don't come in contact with the offensive sand.

Then there is the snack-factor. At the beach you must have snacks. However, in most cases the food stuff that I carefully pack is always the wrong stuff. No matter that in all other situations Evan adores raisins and graham crackers, at the beach he will examine each item and decide that he wants something else, something that I did not bring. Zack hungry from all of his running will inevitably drop his soggy string cheese in the sand and hand it to me demanding that I somehow clean the gooey sandy mess.

So I sit there, Evan in my lap, surrounded by discarded snacks, sticky with sun screen trying to convince Zachary that a collapsed sand-castle isn't justifiable cause for a giant melt-down, and I look around. Bikini clad-teenage girls soaking up rays while sipping diet cokes and eating Cheetos. Young couples rubbing tanning oil on each other's backs and flirting. A woman face down, sleeping peacefully. I remember those days at the beach. Lying on a warm towel, listening to the waves crash, the laughter of children a background noise that I could ignore. Now that was relaxing. That was a day at the beach. This, this new experience, is hard work. Often times, it's work that I enjoy, but work none-the-less.

So you see, a day at the beach in reality, it's no picnic.

Oh don't get me started.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


If I am honest, I am a little disappointed in myself. Why? Because I really enjoy working. Is it hard to balance it all? Yes. Do I miss being involved in the day to day lives of my kids? Yes. I honestly get a bit teary eyed when I think of the nanny eating the Friday challah, which I was consuming for all of the those months leading up to my employment. And yet.... I like my job. I like the whole thing. The commute into the city. Reading the morning paper. Arriving at my desk and reading all of the emails flagged for "high" priority. The meetings. The imparting of my grand expertise (wink, wink). It feels great.

And the best part of my day? The commute home. Sitting on the train, reading my novel, and anticipating the reunion with my babies. Yes, dare I say it, sometimes the anticipation is better then the actual encounter. As I step off of the BART and begin the short walk toward home, I think of my kids. My mind starts to focus on them, and wonder, what have they been doing all day? Did they have fun? Did they miss me? Will they be excited to see me? I envision big hugs at the door, and animated conversation. Sometimes, this is reality, other days I am disappointed to find the boys mid-temper tantrum and crabby at arrival.

In most cases, seeing the boys after so many hours away is exciting and fun. We have a few hours before bedtime, and those hours aren't boring. They are busy with dinner, chatter and play. But I feel guilty. Do I enjoy motherhood more when it is condensed into four hours a day ? If so, what does that say about me, as a person and as a parent?

I so wanted to embrace the role of stay at home mommy. I wanted to become that woman who revels in the joys of mommy-dom. The one who roles up her sleeves and dives into the play dough, dreaming up creative puppet projects and loving every moment. But it wasn't me. It isn't me. I am a restless soul. There is no denying the fact that I would make a terrible homebody. I loath the thought of a day stuck inside my four walls.

Instead, I get my energy from the outside world. From my interactions with friends and perhaps, coworkers. When I wasn't working, I spent my days trying to conjure up excuses to get out of the house. A trip to Target, a run to the grocery store. I purchased packages at Gymboree, classes at the YMCA, and formed playgroups. I kept us busy, but the very act of creating all of this activity was exhausting.

And now, back at the office, life in some ways seems easier. I have a "job" again. I am getting paid for my work, which in turn allows me the freedom to spend a little more on the weekends and worry less about money over all. It gives me a little space again to be just "Rachel", and to fully embrace my boys in big hugs when I walk through the door at the end of the day.

And I am disappointed. Being a mommy should be enough. It is a great job, a rewarding job, an important job. It should be why do I seem to want something "more"?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Review: I'm A Big Brother

Book Review: I'm A Big Brother, by Joanna Cole, Illustrated by Maxie Chambliss.


I was introduced to this book shortly after my second birthday. My parents gave it to me as a "gift" apparently to prepare me for the upcoming arrival of my brother, Evan. Let me start with this: on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 the highest, I rate this book at a .5 star. That is right 1/2 of one star. The book is almost unreadable.

The premise:
The book is basically about a boy of unidentified age who's parents bring home a baby brother. The story paints a picture of a helpless newborn, who cries to communicate and is so small that he leaves all of the pizza and ice-cream eating to his "lucky" big brother. In the end the big brother recognizes that although his home has been taken over by a screaming 8 lb bundle "of joy" who steals all of the attention with his non-stop wailing and poopy diapers, big brother is not only special, he is extra special because, well he is a big brother.... yadda, yadda yadda.

The reality:

Joanna Cole is not pulling the wool over any one's eyes. We see through her sophomoric attempt to minimize the misery of a family's "new addition". While her prose eludes to the benefits of being an older sibling who can "eat pizza, and apples and ice cream!", her tone is decidedly patronizing, and very transparent.

In addition, the illustrations are incredibly amateurish. In fact, I found myself wondering if a family this unattractive could ever exist (happily) in today's society. Both mother and father are drawn as chubby caricatures, and look like they are themselves, brother and sister, rather than procreating adults. The kids, are illustrated in such manner that would suggest that mom & dad hit them with an ugly stick, or were paying back an unimaginable debt to the devil.

In conclusion: Give this book a pass. Pure propaganda.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Berkeley Tot Network: Message Board

Berkeley Tot Network Message Board

Looking for advice

Dear BTN: I am looking for a playgroup for 30-40 year olds. My mommy is 35 years old, and generally easy to get along with. I need to find an activity for her as she tends to get cranky at around 4:00 pm if I have been home with her all day . The ideal group would have other 35 year olds, who like to sit around, talk and drink out the special glasses. If you are a BOY who likes superheros and CARS, and have a mommy like mine, I want to hear from you!

Signed, Zachary Kargas

Dear BTN: I think there is something wrong with my parents. They seem to require an unusual amount of sleep. Every morning, I wake up full of energy and hungry and need to be tended to. It is always such a chore to rouse them out of bed at a reasonable hour. Do my parents need more vitamins? Do you think they might not be eating as many vegetables as they are telling me? What is going on with my sleepy mom and dad?! Help, need some advice ASAP!

Signed, Wide awake and hungry.

Dear BPN: My mother has signed me up for a Yoga class. I am a preschooler, and have little interest in meditation. I have attended several classes and simply hate it. I have told my parents that I would rather take race car driving lessons, but so far, they seem to be ignoring me. I am worried that the next step is going to be glutton-free snack "crackers". What do I do?

Signed-Not a Native Berkeley Kid.


The BTN subgroup: Kids for Funner Parks is holding a rally next Saturday. Our group hopes to raise awareness about the growing number of boring parks in our area. In addition to demanding playgrounds with way funner climbing equipment we are also encouraging law makers to consider passing a regulation that would require every park to have a slide monitor on staff during daytime hours. Our hope is that with monitors on site there will be far fewer incidents of playground bullying and slides will be utilized in a fair and just manner.

For Sale

  • Brand new Orange Gap Shirt, size 5T. Perfect condition, it's just stupid because it doesn't have any cars, trucks or rockets on it. I'll never wear it.... FREE to anyone with bad taste.

  • Baby doll with hand-knit sweater from grandmother. I don't play with dolls. One nickle, or best offer.

  • One full Tuna Noodle Casserole, baked on Friday. My mother's recipe. Maybe you will like it. Free, or best offer.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Just a few nights ago, I was commiserating with a girlfriend about how rude total strangers can be. We shared stories of unhappy grocery store encounters. My girlfriend (Erica) told me how a man snapped at her in the parking lot for not putting her cart away in the corral. She had her baby with her in the car, and she had opted to leave the cart in the lot. Erica swears that she is the type of person who is always thoughtful, but in this particular situation she didn't want to leave her child unattended while she pushed her cart across the lot to the proper location. Reasonable right? Mr. Stranger thought not, he confronted her and went on about how people with children become self centered etc, etc.

I shared a similar story about an incident that occurred around Thanksgiving, also in a grocery store parking lot. In a hurry, I apparently parked too close to another vehicle. I ran inside with Evan for literally, five minutes while I picked up a gallon of milk. When I returned to my car I found an (understandably) annoyed man pacing in front of my car. "Look what you did!" he barked as I approached. "You parked me in!". "I am so sorry" I told him with total sincerity. "My fault, I hope you were not waiting too long". The man did not soften. He went on to tell me how irresponsible I was, and I think wished me to hell a couple of times.

So Erica and I agreed, people can really, for lack of a better word, suck.

And then today....

Today, I ventured to the grocery store after work with both boys. The refrigerator was on empty and we needed supplies. So off we went. Mommy still in working clothes and both boys in spiderman pajamas, since that is what our nanny dressed them in today.

The shopping trip was going as to be expected. Evan was upfront in the cart facing me. Zachary, who claims that walking through the store is too much of a burden on his four year old feet, was in the cart as well. Evan found great fun in torturing his older brother by turning around in his seat and hitting Zack in the head. Zachary was at first patient, but eventually this patience wore thin and he starting whining. I lifted Zachary out of the cart and told he could walk along side me instead. I went ahead with the shopping.

Remember string cheese I told myself. We arrive at the cheese aisle, there are a few choices. I stop to examine, I turn my attention away from the cart, from the boys, standing just feet away. Which one is cheaper? Is this really a deal, or is this just a smaller package? I am such a savvy shopper. And then. I look over just as Zachary who was standing on the side of the cart tips the entire thing, Evan and all, over. It happened in slow motion. I saw it falling, I saw the items pouring out of the cart, but more importantly I saw Evan diving down with all of the contents. Oh No. How bad was it going to be? I dropped the cheese. I dropped my purse. I ran towards them. By the time I arrived I realized, to my relief that nobody was really hurt, there was no blood, and likely no bruises, just mass hysteria. Evan was crying, the poor thing was frightened. But worse, Zachary was devastated. "Evan!!" he yelled. "Are you okay?" He said this over and over again, truly worried about his brother's well being, and it was touching. I gathered Evan up in my arms as shoppers scrambled to our aid. A man picked up our cart and started putting all of the contents back in their place. A woman rushed up and asked how we were, she went off in search of tissues and returned moments later with a stack of paper towels. Several others came over and inquired if we were okay.

I expected disapproving glances, after all I should have been watching closer, I was negligent. I got no such judgment. People gave me concerned looks and warm smiles once they realized everything was okay. There was genuine concern and care... from strangers.

My heart was warmed. My boys were fine, and to be honest this kindness of perfect strangers, it made my day...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Friendship at Four

Friendships come easily to Zachary. He meets a kid on the playground, and although he may not remember his name, Zack will proclaim " I have a new best friend!" after knowing the child for a grand total of five minutes.

I did not raise a shy boy. He will eagerly approach another child (if, and only if he is male mind you), and announce "I am four! Do you want to play with me?". Usually his advances are welcomed and the two buddies will run off together playing some variation of superheros until someone has to leave. The new best friends part ways, likely to never see each other again. Zack will talk about his playmate for a day or two, and then quickly move on to a new one.

Of course there are some friendships that last because of repeated encounters. Within in the first few weeks of arriving in Berkeley Zack met Eli at a playgroup and they were instant best friends. They rarely argue over toys, and have a propensity for taking their clothes off and chasing each other around the house in their underwear. They seem to adore one another.

Zachary recently met Xander when we had a play date at his families house. Xander's mama is a woman I met through a mommy networking group, and I really like her. I hope our grown up friendship will take off as quickly as the Zack & Xander love fest. The two boys are pictured above. They had a grand old time dressing up in customs and fighting the ghosts that apparently live in Xanders attic. Although Zack had a difficult time remembering his new buddy's name, he was clearly taken with Xander, and can't wait to see him again.

If only it could be so easy for adults. I have found that making new girlfriends and couple friends is a lot Ugg. You have to slowly warm up to each other, you can't be too timid and you can't come on too strong. You have to make time for new friends, which as a busy working mama is not an easy task. I desperately want to invest in new friendships, but it is hard to squeeze it all in over the weekend. I find myself meeting very nice people, but realizing I have no idea when I will ever have an opportunity to get together with them. It is difficult to form a real friendship when you only see a person every two months. That is, unless you are four.

If you are four friendship comes easily and without expectations. Play dates are orchestrated by parents (aka, social coordinators) and involve no awkward silences. At four kids tend not to judge one another, if you like cars and spiderman, your in, no questions asked.

So to all my new California friends, it has been a pleasure getting to know all of you, and I wish, wish, wish that I could carve out more time for girlfriend dates, more lunches, happy hours and spa trips, but we have what we have. It may take a little longer to get to know one another, but I certainly hope true friendships will form. And heck if you like wine, shopping and gossip-your in with me, no questions asked.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Adding a little punch to my day.

Ahh, public transportation, it attracts the best, and the worst in our society. There are all kinds of folks on the bay area's BART. It is an eclectic collection of rowdy students, polished executives, confused tourists, weary travelers schlepping large suitcases and drunks snoring away while taking up two seats on an already crowded train. Most of the time we all travel in harmony. No, we don't all like each other, but we do a good job of ignoring one another.

There are exceptions. Today was one of them. The husband and I got on a packed train this morning. We were forced to stand and found a spot next to some harmless looking commuters. As it turns out there was a BART fight brewing, and we had located ourselves just inches away. Let me paint the picture for you.

In this corner we have an obnoxious teenage girl and her boyfriend eating a mess of sunflower seeds and dropping the shells on the floor, as if we were at an outdoor barbecue. Shells weren't the only thing dropping. The girl was loudly whipping out the "f-bomb" and other unsavory language at every possible turn.

In this corner we have uptight, but outspoken middle age professional woman who was not about to put up with a fellow BART customer littering our public transportation system with sunflower seed shells and curse words.

Ding Ding Ding. Round One.

Uptight Professional Chick: "Clean it up! This isn't your home. You can't leave a mess like that. And nobody wants to hear that kind of language."

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen: "Are you talking to me, bitc*??" "Shut the f-up, bitc*, I can do whatever I want. I am hungry. Who are you to tell me?"

Uptight Professional Chick: "We all have to ride this train, we don't need people like you making a disgusting mess! Clean it up, and clean up your language!"

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen: "Bitc* are you talking to me? None of your business bitch*, mother f-bomb."

Uptight Professional Chick: "It is my business, because I ride this train and I don't want to see that mess, or listen to you talk that way, you need to clean up your act!"

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen: Stands up, leans over her seat towards Uptight Professional Chick.

Uptight Professional Chick stands up.

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen: "You better get up outta my face." She puts her hand up about one inch in front of her opponents face.

Me: Tries to back out of harms way. Thinks to myself: Please, nobody have a pocket knife!

Random Dude on the BART : "Cut it out! Come on! Just settle down"

Both "ladies" sit down.

Boyfriend of Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen "Ha Ha!!! Y'all made my day. That dumb bitc* trying to tell you what to do that is some entertainment!"

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen : Laughs, eats more sunflower seed and tosses the shells to floor. "Stupid F-ing bitc*" (As you can see this gal has an amazing vocabulary)

Uptight Professional Chick: "You are completely disrespectful, who taught you to swear that way?

Me: Thinks to self, will this lady just let it go? Clearly she is not going to convince the teenager to change her misguided ways.

Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen: Stands up again.

Uptight Professional Chick: Stands up again.

Me: Backs away, finds a seat that just opened up. Relief.

Enter: Serious Looking Police Woman and barking police dog. Hallelujah!!!

Ding Ding Ding Round Two.

A random passenger whispers into the Serious Looking Police Woman's ear.

Serious Looking Police Woman makes her way back toward the Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen and spies the huge mess of sunflower seeds on the floor.

Serious Looking Police Woman (to the teen): "Are you messing with these signs?" She points to the "No eating" sign directly above the girl.

Obnoxious -Litter -Bug -Teen : "Huh?"

Uptight Professional Chick: "These two have been eating and verbally assaulting me this whole trip!"

Serious Looking Police Woman: "Alright you two are going to have to get off with me at the next stop. I am going to site you with this".

Obnoxious -Litter- Bug -Teen: " That isn't right. That lady has been verbally assaulting us the whole time!"

Serious Looking Police Woman turns to crowd. "Does anybody want to make a CA? A citizen's arrest?"

We all look down at our laps. We just want to get to work, not that watching this unfolding drama isn't thoroughly entertaining....

The train is now delayed ten minutes while the officer awaits backup support at the next stop. Finally Obnoxious Litter-Bug-Teen, her boyfriend and the The Serious Looking Police Woman exit the car.

It isn't over yet.

Ding Ding Ding.... Round Three.

Self -Righteous Law Student moves to sit behind Uptight Professional Chick. She has a bone to pick.

Self -Righteous Law Student: "Was that really worth it, getting those kids in trouble? Do you have any idea what is going to happen to them now? I am studying law, so I know that there are going to consequences for that girl, getting arrested."

Uptight Professional Chick: "Are you kidding me? Look at that mess! We shouldn't have to put up with that."

Self -Righteous Law Student: "How are those seeds hurting you? Haven't you ever seen a mess before? Are you some kind of preschooler getting all worked up like that?

Uptight Professional Chick: "Littering hurts all of us, we have to pay higher taxes, so that they can hire janitors to clean up that mess."

Self -Righteous Law Student: "Oh come on, now those kids are going to have fines and a record, and you are just going to go on with your day. You should think about your actions"

The two continue to go at it, however we move into the tunnel and the noise of the moving train drowns out their voices. I can see that they are going back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until we arrive at my stop.

I exit the train, grateful that I made it to my destination unharmed and thinking to myself, at least I have some blog material.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My little artist

My son is quiet the artist. If I was a more technologically savvy blogger I would have a scanner and I could scan in one of his masterpieces and share it with all of my lovely readers (you). As is, you will just have to use your imagination.

This is a recent development for Zachary. Only 6 or 7 months ago he refused to color. "You do it mommy!" he would demand and hand me a stubby crayon. This was a bit of a predicament. I am in all honesty a terrible, terrible artist. I really can't even draw the most rudimentary pictures. "Make a race car!" "now make a firetruck!" he would demand like a tiny tyrant. I forced myself to try. I knew that refusing would set a bad example. So try I would and the end result, some sort of alien stick vehicle.

But now, a mere six months later, I cannot keep the little Picasso away from the art supplies. In fact, the playroom is constantly littered with scraps of paper, markers with missing caps and crayons worn down to a tiny stub. He is drawing letters and numbers. Worst mistake ever, confusing on of his number 3's for the letter E. You have to tread lightly, Zachary does not appreciate it when one misinterprets his work.

Today we took the boys to MOCHA in Oakland. I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was an art museum with kid's activities. I was wrong. It was really just a room with some tables and easels and a ton of art supplies. The boys were in HEAVEN. We spent an hour and a half painting and cutting and sticking stuff with glue. Zack painted one work of art after another. A mean dinosaur, a rocket ship blasting into a galaxy filled with purple stars and what was suppose to be a crescent moon, a red water slide underneath a sky crowded with fluffy green clouds.

HeCheck Spelling thoroughly enjoyed himself. And I had a wonderful time as well, watching him get messy and asking him about his paintings. He loved the attention, and I loved that we were bonding. In general it has been nice to see Zack develop this quieter, more thoughtful side of his personality. For those of you whom have had the pleasure of meeting Zack, you know that he his a fireball of energy who enjoys nothing more than rolling around on the ground in an aggressive wrestling match with his daddy. It has often left me wondering where on earth I was going to fit into the equation. I, not much for rough-housing have worried that it would be hard to find common ground with my boys. But now I have hope, hope that my boys will have diverse interests that will change with time, and that will allow room for their less than-athletic mama to find some common ground.

Friday, April 9, 2010

To the Lice Gods...

Lice. Little bugs. In your hair. Laying eggs. Oh holy hell, I don't want to deal with lice.

An email went out today from the Director of my son's preschool. There is a spreading outbreak of lice.

Instantly I flashed back to my elementary school days, and the head checks. The humiliation of being "caught" with a live bug in my hair and rushed off to solitary confinement in the nurses office until my mother picked me up from school. I believe many of my classmates took this opportunity to villainize me as the disgusting instigator for the Crestwood Elementary School lice outbreak of 1982.

I had long hair. I swear we kept it fairly clean. As clean as any other grade school kid who hated getting shampoo in her eyes, and screamed when her mother tried to get a comb through the knots. And yet somehow, my head became infested with bugs.

I remember the special shampoo my mother had to use on my hair. It smelled and burned. I remember her picking at each hair, looking for eggs. Eggs. I don't know if I have the stomach for that. I have a hard time imagining sorting through Zachary's unruly head of hair looking for bug larva. I have a hard time imagining him sitting still long enough for me to do so.

So please pray to the lice gods for me. Offer them sacrifices. Whatever it takes. The Kargas family does not need lice!!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

To my BFF with love....

When I was in Denver, it was easy. I had a best friend, Shannon (pictured, somewhat in disguise to the right) who I counted on for everything. When I was in the mood to "party" she was there with a six pack, when I wanted to whine she was there to listen, when I needed a play date she needed one too. Easy. Tonight, here I am in my Berkeley home, husband away, feeling....alone. I so wish I could have called up Shannon and asked her to come over.... she would have obliged.

Case in point... we both had our second babies two days apart. That is a story-in-and-of-itself. Her baby was mild, sweet and easy. My baby cried all the time and wanted to be held during all waking hours. The husband was traveling extensively at the time, and I was on the verge of a postpartum breakdown. Knowing Shannon had her own newborn I was hesitant to call her in a moment of shear desperation, but I was well...desperate. I called. She picked up the phone. She casually inquired about my well being, I immediately broke down in uncontrollable sobs. She was at my house within minutes. I have no idea if she knows how much that night meant to me. She was a life line. She was a freaking GODDESS.

But today, here I am. In a house I rarely share with friends. The husband is gone, and I am lonely. I have met some lovely people, but Shannon and I have history. I fear losing my Denver friendships. Miles have a way of quietly dissolving bonds. It has already happened no doubt, but I am still hoping that at least some of my friendships do run deeper, and that the best will survive....



Tuesday, April 6, 2010

That was then....

I own it. I watch the Millionaire Matchmaker. Like watching a traffic accident, you just can't turn away. Rich guys. Beautiful, beautiful, young women. It stings a little. The fact that a) I will never have that much money and b) I will never be that beautiful or that young again.

There was a time where I was a pretty young thing. No really. I surprised myself. I came out of high school feeling rejected unattractive and insecure. I spent most of my teenage years longing for a boy who had no interest. I came out of my senior year crushed, and emerged into a world where I became Miss Thing. I was cute. I was a flirt. I walked through the bar and noticed as boys turned their heads. I ate it up. And then, I fell in love at 18. I was a faithful girlfriend mind you, but I still enjoyed and relied on the attention.

Over the years things have changed. I have changed. For obvious reasons. I became a mother. I have gotten older. I don't go to bars. I do not remember the last time I have noticed a man looking at me. I know that is okay. But don't we all want to think we still have it? Disagree? You are lying.

I hate it. I hate looking in the mirror and seeing 35, almost 36, and only gets worse. Those laugh lines will only run deeper. That tummy, it ain't getting any tighter. I have peaked and I am on the way down. I don't have the funds for a botex or plastic surgery, and in theory I don't believe in any of it. But yet....I want to cling to youth and beauty as much as any of these "superficial" ladies on Bravo.

So no, I am no different than the pretty girls on reality television, just a little more shall we say...real.

Monday, April 5, 2010

He packed his shoes

Sometimes it's the little things. That set me off. Last night it was the fact that my husband asked me where is running shoes were. He was packing his suitcase getting ready to leave on a business trip that will keep him far from home until Thursday evening. I launched into him.

"So your going to have time to exercise while your gone then? Huh. I'll be lucky if I get to take a 30 second shower." I pouted.

He gave me the look of death and left the room. He had every right.

It is just that I am jealous of those trips. I have never had the opportunity to travel for work, and I know that I have an unrealistic picture of what it might be like. I see an empty hotel room with a big bed, and a movie channel. I see a bathroom that someone else cleans. I see quiet. A night where no children wake you up because they wet the bed or because the need their covers "fixed". I see fancy client dinners on the company dime. Sure I know he is there for work, but in some ways, it seems like a vacation.

No, no he assures me, this is definitely not the case. Business travel gets tiring. The hours are long, and the client dinners seem endless. The hotel is always noisy or cold, and he never gets that much rest. He has to wake up early, and has no time to himself. He misses his kids.

But, he packed his running shoes. His running shoes. He has time to run. That is something. And you know what? If he has time to run, he probably has time for other things as well. I bet he is out with coworkers drinking martinis right now. I'll bet he has steak for dinner. I'll bet he sleeps just fine in that hotel room tonight.

Okay, and if he does, why should I begrudge him? He is the breadwinner after all and he has to take these trips. So why shouldn't he enjoy himself? Would it make me feel better if I knew he was shivering in a freezing cold cockroach infested hotel? Would I be happier thinking he was forced to eat McDonald's every night? Of course not.

Well maybe just a little.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Can you believe it?

Holy Cow! I am totally rich! I just got an email, which somehow found it's way to my spam box. Spam? Really? According to this trustworthy email from Fedex, there is a package waiting for me from an undisclosed Nigerian colleague sender with a cash value of $800K and somehow that is spam??? I am wondering which company this "colleague" works for? I have only been working at my current company for a week. I didn't know that I had any coworkers in Nigeria, but it must be legitimate. I cannot believe my luck! I have copied the text of the email below as proof. Because I am feeling so generous, I have decided to share $1000 with each of you, my beloved readers if you follow these simple instructions. All I need is an email with the following information: 1) Your name 2) Your social security number (I swear it's secure with me!), 3) Your savings account number 4) Your birth date 5) Your address 6) The combination to your safe if you have one 7) The location of any valuables you may have in your home. 8) Any passwords that you might have for your home security system, bank accounts or computer 9) A check written to me, Rachel Kargas for $150 to secure your winnings.

It's that easy friends. Send an email with that information and you will receive a check for no less than $1000.00!

From my Spam Box:

Dear Customer !!!

We have been waiting for you to contact us for your Confirmed Package that is registered with us for shipping to your residential location.We thought that the sender gave you our contact details and that you would have contacted us by now.we would also let you know that a letter is also attached to your package.However, we cannot quote its content to you via E-mail for privacy reasons. We understand that the content of your package itself is a Bank Draft worth $800,000.00 USD,in FedEx we do not ship money in CASH or in CHEQUES but in Bank Drafts only. The package is registered with us for mailing by your colleague, and your colleague explained that he is from the United States but he is in Nigeria for a three (3) month Surveying Project. for he is working with a consulting firm in Nigeria West Africa.

We are sending you this E-mail because your package is been registered on a Special Order. What you have to do now, is to contact our Delivery Department for the immediate dispatch of your package to your residential address. Note that as soon as our Delivery Team confirms your information, it will only take us one working day (24 hours) for your package to arrive at its designated destination.For your information, the VAT & Shipping charges as well as processing fees have been paid by your colleague before your package was registered.

We are sending you this E-mail because your package is been registered on a Special Order. What you have to do now. This will help you avoid any form of query from the Monetary Authority of your country. However, you will have to pay a sum of $95US Dollars to the FedEx Delivery Department for the Security Keeping Fee of the FedEx company as stated in our privacy terms & condition page. Also be informed that your colleague wished to pay for the Security Keeping charges, but we do not accept such payments considering the facts that all items & packages registered with us has a time limitation and we cannot accept payment not knowing when you will be picking up the package or even respond to us. So we cannot take the risk to have accepted such payment incase of any possible demurrage.

Kindly note that your colleague did not leave us with any further information.We hope that you send your response to us as soon as possible because if you fail to respond until the expiry date of the foremost package, we may refer the package to the British Commission for Welfare as the package those not have a return address.

You are required to contact the delivery department (FedEx Delivery Post) with the details given below:
FedEx Delivery Post
Contact Fedex Delivery Email:
Mr. Thomas Martins.
Managing Director

Kindly complete the below form and send it to the email address given above.

This is mandatory to reconfirm your Postal address and telephone numbers.
Kindly complete the above form and submit it to the delivery management on:

As soon as your details are received, our delivery team will give you the neccessary payment procedure so that you can effect the payment for the Security Keeping Fees. As soon as they confirm your payment receipt of $95 US Dollars. They will not hesitate to dispatch your package as well as the attached letter to your residence. which usually takes 24 hours being an over night delivery service.

Note: that we were not instructed to email you, but due to the high priority of your package we had to inform you as your sender did not leave us with his phone number because he stated that he just arrived Nigeria and he has not gotten a phone yet. We personally sealed your Bank Draft and we found your email contact in the attached letter as the recipient of the foremost package. Ensure to contact the delivery department with the email address given above and ensure to fill the above form as well to enable a successful reconfirmation.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr James Wellington.
FedEx Online Team Management.
All rights reserved. © 1995-2009

Yours faithfully,


Friday, April 2, 2010

My Favorite Sandwich

There are some memories that are just etched in your mind. Surely, one would think that I would have more important things to recall then an Italian deli. But for whatever reason, I hold a very special place in my heart for Fraboni's a self-proclaimed "Madison Tradition". Really, it was (and may still be) a great deli. I remember it as small and cramped, the aroma of garlic and basil greeting you as you stepped through the front door. Shelves of canned tomatoes, and candy covered almonds. A real mom & pop shop.

As a child, Good Friday always meant a picnic lunch, purchased at Fraboni's. It was always the same sandwich. The Italian Sub. When I went online to check out the menu and read the description of my beloved sandwich, I was baffled. It isn't anything special. Meat, cheese, bread and "sub sauce". Mmmmm the sub sauce. I am guessing I would never select that item today. Instead I would pick something entirely more sensible, and entirely less delicious. A turkey sandwich, hold the cheese, hold the sub sauce. But as a kid, I didn't think about calories and I ate what I wanted. And I wanted that sub. It became an annual event. My mother usually found a way to have Good Friday off, even if we were Jews. When the weather was warm enough (which in Wisconsin is certainly not a guarantee), we would pick up our lunch and head to a local park. It felt as though we were ushering in Spring. In colder times we still did not pass up the opportunity for Italian subs, and we took them home and had an indoor picnic.

I love that memory. It was our tradition. We didn't celebrate Easter which was a great disappointment to me as a child. It seemed highly unjust that while most of the children in my neighborhood received giant baskets with jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, I got a buck for finding the passover matzo. But while we didn't have Easter ham, we did have Good Friday picnics, and while we never had baskets delivered by a bunny, come May 1st my mom would present colorful May Day baskets, filled with jelly bellies and bath beads from The Soap Opera on State Street.

Now it's up to me to form our family traditions, and this year I have done a lousy job. We had thanksgiving at my Aunt Beryl's house, I don't even remember what we brought. We went away at Christmas, and didn't bother to put up a tree. Passover we gratefully accepted the invitation to go to a friend's home, and that was lovely, but I didn't make a Seder at home. And now it's Good Friday and I am typing this on my lunch hour in my San Francisco office. There will be no Fraboni's. I haven't yet purchased the goodies for the Easter baskets because I have been too busy. It seems as though my heart just hasn't been in it, but that's not fair. My boys deserve to have those little memories too.
Next year I'll do better.