Saturday, July 31, 2010

Living like a four year old

If I lived my life as a four year old

At the office:

Boss: "I have a new project for you to work on."
Me: "No fair! That's too much work! You can't make me. You have to help me."
Boss: "And how is that report coming along?"
Me: "That report is stupid. I hate it. I am going to smash that report up"

At a friends house for dinner:

Me: "We are having what for dinner? It smells. I'm not going to eat that. You can't make me."
Me: "I like your necklace. It's my turn to wear the necklace. I am the guest and you are suppose to share. If you don't share your necklace with me I am not going to be you friend again for 50 million years"

At the grocery store:

I ram my grocery cart which is filled to the top with only things that I really like (wine, expensive cheese, ice cream and sushi) into a long line of carts at the check out line. "This line is too long! It's not fair! I want to be first! Can I please go first? I hate lines. You guys are mean!"

I wonder how all that would work out for me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Warning: Another post about my dead cat

I saw you tonight, behind closed eyelids. An old familiar friend.

My heart squeezed tight in my chest as I felt your soft little body curled close to mine. I checked for your breath and there it was, labored and fragile, but there none the less. I knew our time was short. My tears dampened your regal fur, but you hardly minded, I heard the sweet soft rumble of a purr. Don't leave. Stay with us. I love you. I open my eyes and you are gone.

I am surprised by the grief that I have felt for the loss of my cat. I guess we can't under estimate the capacity we have to love a pet. Especially one like Wiggum. I miss him.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I like working. I like my job. In fact I really like my job. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this contract will turn into something more permanent. That said, I do have my moments. Mostly they are guilty moments. Moments when I think to myself "Why did I not enjoy my time at home more?" "Why did I give that up so willingly?"

Truth be told, I never quite found my groove as a full time stay at home mom. I always felt a little antsy, planning the next outing, diving into playgroup after playgroup, running to gymboree, music class, Target runs, anything to keep busy, to keep active. I never settled in enough to take a deep breath and just enjoy. And I don't know that I ever could. It isn't in my nature.

I realize that raising one's children is the single most important job that any parent has, and yet, when I was in the trenches full time, I felt somehow useless, bored and under-stimulated. I believe that I am better off a working woman, making money (so I can spend it), and leaving the cleaning to someone else. The undeniable truth is that I am just not good stay at home material, and I believe that I have come to terms with this.

But there are moments when I see a woman pushing a stroller down the street, or sitting at Starbucks with her toddler, that I feel a pang. A fleeting thought, that could be me, that was me. And I miss the whole thing. I mean look at these guys, why would I want to leave them every day?

I miss the trips to the park, being around at preschool enough to know all of the songs and all of the kids, nap time at 2. It wasn't all bad. Not at all.
But it just isn't me.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Adaptation of a Children's Story

Mo Willems is my favorite children's author. His books are witty and entertaining, even for grown-ups. We gave Evan one of his books for his birthday: "The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!". It inspired this post. First Mo's original story:

Oh, hello.
How are you?
I'm fine. Thanks for asking.
By the way, do you know what I want?
What I have wanted forever...?
At least since last Tuesday...?
A puppy! Puppy! Puppy! Puppy!
Oh, don't worry. I'll take care of it!
I promise I'll water it once a month.
Everybody knows that puppies need plenty of sunshine and water!
Oh...I get it.
You don't want me to be happy, do you?
You don't want me to take a piggyback ride on my puppy!
Or play tennis with it!
You just don't understand.
I'm a puppy-lovin' pigeon!
I want a puppy! Right here! Right now!
What's that?
Woof! Woof!
Is it possible?
Have my dreams come true?!
It's HUGE!
The teeth! The hair! That wet nose! The slobber! The claws!
I mentioned the teeth right?
Really, I had no idea!
I've changed my mind.
I want a walrus!

My Adaptation:

The 30-Something Female Wants a Baby!

Oh, hello.
How are you?
I'm fine. Thanks for asking.
By the way, do you know what I want?
What I have wanted ever since I was a little girl playing with dolls?
Baby! Baby! Baby!
Oh don't worry, I think I am really ready.
I promise to buy lots of cute outfits and decorate the nursery.
Everybody knows that babies need plenty of photo ops and a whimsical nursery.
Oh... I get it.
You don't want me to be happy do you honey?
You don't want me to post adorable pictures on my Facebook page
Or take the baby to the circus!
You just don't understand.
My biological clock is ticking!
I want a baby! Let's go! Right now!

9 months later....

What's that?
Is that my baby? My dreams have come true!
It's Crying!
The diapers!
The snot!
The sleepless nights!
The slobber!
The mess!
I mentioned the diapers right?
Really, I had no idea!
I've changed my mind.
I want a house plant instead.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Take it from me

This past weekend had it's highs and it had it's lows. I am feeling generous today, so I thought perhaps my bay area readers would benefit from the knowledge I gained through this past weekend's experiences.

What Not To Do:

Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday with Kids.

BAD. IDEA. I'll repeat that for anyone who missed it. BAD. IDEA. Sadly, I am afraid that Fisherman's Wharf may not be a desirable destination for anyone at anytime, but when you combine the crowds of a Saturday afternoon, a two year old who refuses the stroller, and a 4.5 year old who thinks that walking is boring, you have a recipe for disaster. I remember visiting the wharf as a tourist years ago, and I never hated it. In fact, I think I enjoyed the festive atmosphere. I remember street vendors and performers, fun restaurants, gooey ice cream sundaes at Ghiradelli Square, the smell of the ocean.... I wonder if these colorful memories are a clear picture of what actually was, and has since decayed, or if as a teenager I just didn't see the grit and the cliches of a tourist trap. Well in any case it is all crystal clear now. The bay area attraction is a crowded, chaotic collection of cheap t-shirt shops, overpriced junk food, and aggressive, often very drunk pan-handlers. As we walked down the street we had to cling to our little boys so that they would not be swept away in the throngs of under dressed out-of-state visitors. (Yes, you need a jacket in July). There is little to do actually, unless you want to shell out big bucks to visit the aquarium, or take a trip to Alcatraz. The Kargas family was on the cheap, so we decided against these activities. I thought we might grab a bite to eat, but all of the restaurants were packed, over-priced and required a wait. After about an hour we fled back to the car to head the hell out of dodge. Because we could not find a restroom appropriate for a diaper change I had to change my kiddo on the front seat of the car. I will spare you the details. Needless to day, not a fun morning.

But things got brighter. Quite by accident we ended up at Fenton's for lunch. This is on my "Do Again" list.

Fentons- We will be back.

Fenton's reminds me of a Madison restaurant I loved as a kid, Ella's Deli. I have very fond memories of this eatery from my childhood. Ella's is colorful, it is decorated with old fashioned toys, and an actual carousel sits right outside the restaurant (eat your veggies munchkins, and you can go for a ride!). There are kosher hot dogs and greasy french fries, bagels & lox (a personal favorite), pastrami on rye, and crunchy dill pickles. But of course the very best part is the old fashioned ice cream parlor style desserts. Big-over sized sundaes served in tulip glasses. Milk shakes with two straws and a metal mixing cup for what couldn't fit in the glass. Everything topped with whipped cream and a cherry of course.

Fentons does not have the carousel, or the toys, but it captures the spirit of Ella's. It has that care-free vibe that makes one throw caution to the wind "ah what the hell! I'll have a triple fudge brownie sundae with extra hot fudge!" The husband ordered a chili dog and fries, Zack a burger and Evan, Mac & Cheese. I did go with the safe, calorie conscious option of a grilled chicken salad, however the meal was followed up by an enormous ice cream concoction (which included carmel corn) that we shared with four spoons. Kids happy. Mommy happy. Daddy on the way to a low cholesterol diet.

So there you have it friends in the bay, spare yourself and stay far, far away from Fisherman's Wharf, and head straight to Fenton's instead.

You're welcome.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Staff Meeting

Staff Meeting


CEO: Rachel (Mommy)
CFO: David (Daddy)
Associate: Zachary
Jr. Associate: Evan
Support Staff: Flanders
Security Officer: Bascom
Intern: Wynkoop

Meeting Minutes:

CEO: As you all know we have had some significant changes since our last staff meeting. I thought it would be good to get the team together and celebrate our successes and discuss some of the challenges that lie ahead.

First, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the loss of our colleague Wiggum. Wiggum was a dedicated member of Kargas Inc for 13 years. His passing is a loss that we will feel in the years to come. To commemorate his loss, we are naming the executive office the "Wiggum Room" and a memorial will be erected in his honor. (Think framed 8x10 photograph).

On a happier note we have had some additional staff changes. As you have probably noted, Evan was promoted from Intern to Junior Associate. The event as you will recall was marked on June 12 with a giant staff, family & friends celebration. Evan has demonstrated enormous progress in the past several months, although to be sure he still has areas that would benefit from continued development. (Can someone please teach this kid that not every color is red?) Ah... did I say that out loud? Ahem, well let us all once again congratulate Evan on his promotion.

Additionally we have welcomed a new Intern, Wynkoop (pictured above). Wynkoop was selected from a pool of ten promising candidates. He went through a grueling interview process and ultimately was selected because he was the cutest. I hope you will all join me in making Wynkoop feel at home here at Kargas Inc.

I am happy to announce that we have secured new investors in the past several months, which is why I have been absent quiet often during the work week. I am required to meet with them regularly and provide my consulting services. Everyone appears to be adjusting well to my assistant and right hand woman (our nanny) who has taken over some of my day to day duties.

Things have been running fairly smoothly, but as an organization I do have some concerns. First and foremost I continue to be disturbed by the amount of foul potty language that is heard in these offices. This is not professional behavior, and I am hereby demanding that it is stopped. Finally we have made little progress in reducing our spending with our vendor Huggies. I need the staff to put forth significant effort in eliminating our reliance on such products.

Finally I would like to open up the discussion for individual updates, questions or comments.

Evan: I saw fiyah station!
CEO: Huh?
Evan: I saw fiyah station!! I spida man.
CEO: Right. Anyone else?
CFO: We need to find places to cut spending.
CEO: I talked about that already. It's all about the diapers.
CFO: There must be other ways.
CEO: Moving on, are there any other comments?
Zachary: Pee-pee-potty-butt!
CEO: Meeting adjourned.....

Friday, July 23, 2010

Tune in for good times

Somehow through some sort of a work related connection my husband received a free Sirius XM and a year's subscription. Terrific! All the music we could enjoy, so many channels to pick from! The Broadway Show Tunes channel (a personal favorite, and I am not kidding), Bluegrass, 80's Hits, Folk, Jazz, the possibilities endless.

And then Zachary caught wind of the damn thing and it is all been down hill. To him it is a phenomenal toy. With the push of one little button the channel changes. So it sounds a little like this at my house:

"Did you ever know that your my hero?" Beep Beep Beep

"Winter spring summer or fall.... all you got to do is call" Beep Beep Beep

"Oh Jesus loves you! Oh praise Him now!" Beep Beep Beep

"Shot through the heart and you're to blame! You give love a bad name!" Beep Beep Beep

" When you see a guy reach for stars in the sky, you can bet that he's doin' it for some doll!" Beep Beep Beep

"I just called to say I love you, I just called to say how much I ca.." Beep Beep Beep

Some super loud heavy metal music with lyrics I cannot quite make out. Beep Beep Beep

"Don't worry about a thing, cause every little thing is gonna be alright" Beep Beep Beep

"Praise Him! Put your hands in the air and praise Him! Ohhhh" Beep Beep Beep

" Cuz I'm a joker, and I'm a smoker and I'm a midnight toker"Beep Beep Beep

"And we will be back with more talk on Sirius XM" Beep Beep Beep

More super loud heavy metal music with lyrics I cannot quite make out. Beep Beep Beep

"Billie Jean is not my lover, she's just a girl that claims that I am the.." Beep Beep Beep

"Jesus!" Beep Beep Beep"

"Cuz every little thing is gonna be alrigh..."Beep Beep Beep.

Heavy Metal Beep Beep Beep

"Consider yourself at home! Consider yourself part of the family!" Beep Beep Beep

"Praise Him! Glory!"Beep Beep Beep

"So don't worry about a thi..." Beep Beep Beep

Heavy Metal Beep Beep Beep.

STOP IT ZACHARY!!!!!! Right. Now!

Good times.

You get the idea....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Growing up

The subject line: "Parent's Day at the JCC!" How lovely I think, opening up the email. It's on a Monday. No problem, I remind myself, that is one of the reasons why my new job works so well for us, it is flexible, I can just switch my schedule around. "We will be roasting marshmallows" the email went on. Interesting choice. I pictured myself with Zachary in my lap sharing a snuggle and a gooey treat. A scrapbook worthy moment.

The day arrives. We walk into Zack's classroom, my expectations for a mommy & me day high. Here I am son, you may now demonstrate your affection and excitement to have mama in class with you....

Hey kiddo, where are you going? You hang out with Tony everyday. This is my time. Buddy... come on over here, we can do play dough together....buddy?

I am left clutching a paper cup of really bad coffee. I stand there looking on as other children seem thrilled to have mommy or daddy at school with them. They sit on their parent's lap and read a book, or present them with a handmade card created for the occasion. There was no card for me. Zachary ignores me. This is what I switched my schedule around for? The marshmallow "roasting" (really marshmallows over a fake fire, what did I expect?) was a bust too. I sat behind my son who huddled next to the cellophane flames, his back to me. Boo.

I reminded myself that this is not a personal slight. I should be happy that Zachary has friends and that he has found his independence. Right? Right?

Except I have this memory, this vivid memory of a toddler clamoring with joy when I arrived through the doors of the daycare center to pick him up at the end of the day. This toddler would drop whatever he was doing, and run to me, arms outstretched "mommy! mommy! mommy!" he would holler until I clasped him in a hug. There was no better feeling in the world. I knew that my superstar status would not last forever, and that Zack would grow up, forming friendships that would trump me from time to time, I just didn't expect to happen this soon. He isn't even five yet. I can only imagine what life is going to be like when he reaches his teen years, will I be totally invisible?

Ahh well, I think, shaking off the disappointment as I leave Zachary to enjoy the rest of his morning in peace, at least I came, at least I was there, even if he didn't act like he wanted me to be. He would have noticed if I hadn't showed up.

So I'll keep showing up.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Put a stamp on it

I must tread lightly when writing this. I am embarking on a topic that might be sensitive, and could be taken as a personal criticism by many of my readers. Dear friends, please know that I am not singling any one person out, rather I am commenting on what I view as a downfall of our web 2.0 culture.

I am talking about mail, or more precisely, the lack there of. With the popularity and ease of email, Twitter and Facebook, the postal service is about to shut their doors. Nobody seems to have use for a handwritten letter these days. I am as guilty as the next person. Life is busy. I rarely have a book of stamps on hand, and God only knows where my address book is. So when it comes time for a birthday a simple "Happy BDay! Have a great day!" on my friend's Facebook wall is the usual protocol. Lame.

When I was younger each year I looked forward to a mailbox full of colorful envelopes on the anniversary of my birth. It was such a joy to open each card, and then display them on my dresser for the coming month. When I was in college, I may have had an email address, but I did not use it. Shocking I know, but this was 1992-1996. We sent hand written letters to one another. I have a box full of them. I recently went through this ancient mail opening yellowed letters of friends I have long since lost touch with. Their letters brought me back to another time. The personal style of handwriting, the choice of stationary, the occasional sticker. Colorful. Personal. Memorable.

Saturday we received two cards in our mailbox. Two cards from the vet who cared for Wiggum as he died in their office. The only two cards I received in response to our family's loss. Oh I got tons of comments on my facebook. I know hearts were in the right place, however those two cards are on my mantel, a tangible memory of my cat. A physical display of someone who cared enough to send a card. I know it is not a personal slight. I realize that people now rely on their keyboard and mouse to communicate with loved ones and friends. But I have to say, I truly appreciated the personal gesture and I am vowing to make more of an effort. An effort to send birthday cards, and an occasional letter, through the US Postal Service. I therefor need to update my address book. So if you are so inclined, please email me your address to



Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dear Oprah

Dear Oprah,

You do not know me, but well of course I know who you are. Everyone knows who you are. I have watched your show, read your magazine, and I enjoy your book club selections. I am therefor a supporter and a contributor to your enormously successful empire. In fact in one way or another I am sure that I have at least partially funded the purchase of one of your Prada bags or a pair of you Jimmy Choo's. So we could say that I am more or less a friend. A friend. You like to help your friends, don't you Oprah? Of course you do. You take friendships seriously. We all know about the strong bond you have with you BFF, Gail. You would probably go to great lengths to help Gail out, right? Of course you would.

I realize that our friendship is, well not on the same scale. So I won't ask for much. Not much at all. In grand scheme of things. But you see, the thing is Oprah, you have a lot of money. A lot. And I don't have as much, not nearly. And I would really like to have more... more of that money stuff. As it turns out, I really was meant to be wealthy. I have "champagne taste" as they would say. I like designer clothes, I like good wine, fancy food, and pretty things. The problem is I am on a budget. A budget that consistently prohibits the spur of the moment impulse buy. A budget that requires a Target label in place of a Vera Wang. It means that I have one day in Calistoga instead of the 2 or um... seven that I would prefer. It is a big sacrifice Oprah.

My own BFF and I just went to Calistoga for one little night. We stayed in a modestly priced hotel with a little spa. One night. Only one short 50 minute massage. I window shopped Oprah... window shopped, which is probably unheard of in your circles. It translates into -no purchases. Empty bags. A beautiful pair of sparkly earrings left in the display case.

My friend and I had a fabulous time, we were on our own away from the pressures of our day to day lives, working and raising two kids a piece. But we certainly would have benefited from a few more days, if only we could afford the room and the childcare.

Oprah, with your millions, or perhaps billions of dollars, certainly, certainly you could afford to sponsor an annual 4 day girls weekend to napa for my friend and I could you not? At best it would cost $3-4000 a year. For that we could stay in a very nice hotel. We could get the 90 minute massages, and throw in a mud bath. We could upgrade to the reserve tastings instead of the standard. We could hire sitters to take care of our regular mama duties while we were recharging our parental batteries. We would have the opportunity to reinforce the lifelong friendship that our day to day responsibilities often cause us to neglect.

Oprah, I realize that you have worked hard for your fortune. You put in long hours. You are smart and talented. But I promise, we work hard too. We work full days at the office and come home for the second shift with the kids. Yet my annual income is probably less than the compensation that you receive for one 45 minute appearance.

So what do you say media giant? Could you help two average ladies out? Just think for the cost of one trip to your stylist each year you could give us every day chicks a whole bunch of joy....

Just thought I would ask.

Your Friend,


Friday, July 16, 2010

All I have to give

It is hard to write now, because what does one write about? We write about what inspires us, what is in our hearts, and in our minds. At this moment Wiggum is all I can think about. And how many posts can one write about a dead cat? Well probably hundreds, but how many does the average reader want to spend time with? Probably one at best. So I mean to spare you my angst.

I am off to wine country tomorrow with a dear friend, and I am hoping for a wonderful refreshing time. Time with fantastic wine, sun, great conversation and a much needed massage. I hope that I will have something far more interesting to say upon my return. More than "poor kitty" "if only" "how did it happen so fast?".

Maybe in a few days I can refocus my attention and attempt at being witty. Until then...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


And now he is gone. Wiggum passed away last night around 3:45am. The clinic called us and told us that his little heart stopped beating and it was done.

I sobbed, and sobbed. I know it's a cat, and I almost feel foolish, but honestly I loved that animal. Loved him. And I feel loss.

It came so unexpected. When we returned from Denver on Sunday I did not notice anything unusual, and I certainly would never have guessed that I would be writing this post on Thursday.

I feel drained, exhausted and like crawling back to bed. But it's a cat. Life doesn't stop for the death of a pet.

Am I crazy? Is this normal?

I miss you Wiggum. I wish that I knew this was coming so I could have held you in my arms more this past week, so that I could feel your soft body and know that you felt me. That last night, you weren't really there. Your eyes were vacant and you did not purr when you lied beside me. That wasn't you. I didn't get to say goodbye to you. My kitty.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just a Cat

Today my beloved cat of 13 years fell suddenly very ill. He is now at the vet's in critical condition and his prognosis is not good. We are hoping for the best, but as you will see by my post I am not particularly optimistic. I believe we may lose this sweet little kitty, and it might surprise you to know how much this has impacted me, and even my husband.... send your positive thoughts to a little orange kitty in Berkeley please.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat that I picked out from a pack of other kittens at the humane society 13 years ago. You were the the most affectionate.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who greeted me at the door each and every day with a cheerful "meow" and a welcoming rub against my legs.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who wanted to be close to my swollen belly throughout each of the nine months of my pregnancies.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who slept under the covers with me on cold winter nights, snuggled up close, your soft purr warming me.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who put up with the tiresome tail pulling of a toddler who you didn't invite into your home in the first place.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who inspired me to start a growing collection of orange feline Christmas ornaments

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who loved me best, above all other people whom you encountered.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat with soft fur that I hope to always remember the feel of.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who I will miss when I am awake and lonely in the middle of the night.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who I will listen for, the sound of your paws padding up and down the stairs. I will swear that I heard you.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who always found me when I was sick or sad and comforted me with a cuddle.

You're just a cat.

Just a cat who I am going to miss.

You're just a cat.

You're just my cat and I love you so.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Home from home

Back in Berkeley. Home from home. Vacation over, real life will now commence. The laundry is (partially) done, the groceries purchased, kids bathed and in bed, and the events of a long sun -splashed weekend have already been turned to memory.

All in all it was a wonderful trip, although far too short. I saw many people, yet we did not have time to visit with everyone. Four days just was not enough to get my Denver fill.

But our flight was already arranged, and we had work to return to. We boarded our plan at 11am this morning and Southwest Airlines transported us back to reality, to our new life. Miles and miles away from the hot mountain sun, family and friends. And what else can we do but live it? We are left to jump head-first back into the swing of la vida California.

I am glad we went. There was a part of me that was afraid to go. Afraid that it would only hurt to leave. And it did. But I have the memories and the happy photos to keep me warm until our next visit in December.

And until then, life goes on. I am headed to wine country next weekend with one of my best friends for a girls spa trip. I have a job that I enjoy to return to tomorrow. It is a different life than I expected ,but a good one. Best of all, I know that I can always go home when I want to, and that I will be greeted with open arms.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A family vacation. Daddy. Mommy. Zachary. Evan. Sea Lion. Ummm, wait Sea what? I do not remember inviting an oceanic creature on the Kargas holiday. Yet there he was, accompanying us on every single car trip we embarked upon. "Arrf! Arff! Arff!" barking from the back of the Toyota we borrowed from my father. Did a sea lion come with the car?

"Arff! Arff! Arff!" "Is that a Sea Lion?" I inquire from the my position on the passenger's side.

"Yes!" Zachary calls from his car seat.

"Why what do you have to say Mr. Sea Lion?" I ask (innocently)

"Sea lion wants to say that the speed limit is 65 miles and hour and that he is 6 and three quarters years old."

How cute I thought. What an imagination! And it was adorable. For like the first 30 minutes. After that well, I had this insane impulse to reach back and strangle the imaginary beast.

"Arff! Arff! Arff!" from the back of the car, again.

"Whats up Sea Lion?" Daddy asks, trying to conceal the annoyance in his voice.

"Sea Lion says that it is 10:32am and that the speed limit is now 55 miles per hour."

"Wow. Thanks Sea Lion. I'll keep the speed limit in mind." Daddy answers.

I try and engage in a conversation with my husband, turning the music up and hoping it will distract Zachary, and perhaps make him forget the imaginary sea creature.


"Arff! Arff! Arff! Arff"

Oh for Pete's sakes.

"Yes Zack?" we say in unison with a tone of forced cheerfulness.

"I am not Zack! It is Sea Lion" we hear from the backseat.

I simply cannot take it anymore. After a weekend full of a barking sea-creature-child yelping at us every three seconds I am cursing the day I ever introduced the child to the beach.

"Sea Lion needs to take a nap! No more talking Sea Lion" I snap. "We want to talk to Zachary."

Our son responds with an ear piercing "Whaaaaaa!" Followed up by a heck of a lot more "Whaaaa" and some, "You hurt Sea Lion's feelings! You are so mean!" (over and over, and over again.)

Question, what is worse, a whiny crying four year old or a sea lion in your rear view mirror?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Home Sweet Home

The good thing about insomnia is that it affords plenty of time for blogging. I did not think I would have an opportunity to post while on vacation, however here it is 3am and I know that lying in bed is a hopeless waste of time. So thus I am ready to "blog" although at this hour I will not guarantee quality writing.

We arrived in Denver late Wednesday evening. The flight went remarkably well. Zack watched Nemo, Evan ate snacks and was generally content. Much to my surprise I did actually read several chapters in my novel and the whole experience was quite pleasant. Perhaps there will be payback on our journey home.

Home. For my 30th birthday my husband and I hopped a flight from home (Denver) to San Francisco for a fun filled get-away weekend. We walked through North Beach, caught a show, and took a limo ride through wine country. At the end of the whirl-wind trip we left San Francisco and headed for the mile high, exhausted from a great vacation and happy to be returning home. Now at nearly 36 it's all turned around. Denver is now the vacation destination and Berkeley is "home".

Except it's not. Not yet anyways. The feeling of home struck me as soon as I saw the silly roof top of DIA, designed to look like the peaks of the rocky mountains. I have experienced the comfortable sense of belonging throughout this entire brief journey.

We are staying at a friend's home, about a half mile from our old house. These aren't just any pals of course. This is Darren & Shannon and their two little boys who are some of our very closest friends. Being in their home is strange only because although we have spent countless hours here in the past, we never had cause to sleepover, until now. On Thursday morning I awoke to the sounds of our kids at the breakfast table. I said a quick hello and then threw on my running shoes and went for a jog. I was dying to see the old neighborhood. So I ran along Bryant street and was happy to see that everything looked very much the same. When I arrived at our old block it felt as though no time had passed at all. The Fletter's had their beautiful garden in full bloom. The Fischer's had election signs posted on their perfectly manicured lawn. Parked on the Stevenson's front porch was that same orange stroller.

Then there was our house. It felt as though I should just be able to walk right in and see it as it once was. But of course I couldn't. So I just stood there a while and looked at the two story Victorian that we bought when I was four months pregnant with Zachary. It was my dream home at the time. An enormous kitchen, modern bathrooms (did I mention that there were four of them?), a walk in closet and a master bedroom. Over time, I found reasons to complain about it, but knowing what I know now, after living in a 1200 square foot split level, I would do anything to have that cabinet space back.

Besides it was home. It was the the setting for countless holidays and birthday parties, playgroups and barbeque's. It is the house we bought to raise our family. Now we are renting it out to three single ladies who have no need for a nursery painted in "Christopher Robin's Swing" green.

Standing there, I wanted to run up and hug that house, if I could. Just throw myself at it and wrap my arms around it's four walls wailing "It was all a big mistake"

This trip has been amazing, but far too fast. I have seen many of my girlfriends over the past two days and I have been hearten to feel that after almost a year, I could fit right back in with them. We had a playgroup, and last night went out for a girls night out at Lola's one of my very favorite spots. The conversation was hurried, for there was so much to catch up on, but easy and comfortable. No-getting-to-know-you small talk, because we all had years of history under our belts.

Tomorrow I will go to see my sister and nephews and then head up the winding roads of Golden Gate Canyon to see my father and stepmother. Monday morning we leave for Berkeley. For our new "home". I remind myself that it isn't so bad. We have had all kinds of adventures in the bay area, work is good and we have met lovely people. In time perhaps, Berkeley could actually be home. Perhaps.

For now though, Denver has my heart.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Peace, Out

Suitcases packed. Check.
Snacks packed. Check
More snacks packed in secret places. Check
DVD player charged. Check
Book tucked in carry-on bag. Check. (Insert wild laughter here, as if I have any chance of reading even a chapter)
Extra-Strength Tylenol packed for anticipated hangover and mama meltdown. Check
Mr. Brown Doggie & Nodders (Zack's new self-named stuffed kangaroo toy) in car. Check.
Ninety-Nine-Ten (Evan's self-named stuffed kangaroo toy, and no I am not making it up) in car. Check.
Dog sitter arranged. Check.
Prayer said for good weather. Check
Arrangements made to see as many friends and family as possible in four short days. Check.

Guess we are out of here! See you all next week!

Monday, July 5, 2010

What Not To Wear : Toddlers & Preschoolers

What Not to Wear for Preschoolers and Toddlers

With Special Guest Stylists Zachary & Evan Kargas

At School & On The Playground

Zachary's Advice: If it is on sale at Target, do not get it. You will walk into Preschool thinking you are wearing edgy dump truck apparel, only to see five of your cohorts sporting the exact same outfit. Embarrassing! Go for the more obscure, hunt in high-end consignment shops where you can find retro cool items.

Evan's Advice: Elmo is so last year. Only first kid's wear those. If your a second, or a third, you grow up faster and you know better. Skip right to spiderman or spongebob, and kids will know that you have been around the block. Suddenly the babies on the playground are looking up to you.

Zachary's Advice: The more holes in your jeans the better. Same goes with stains.

Evan's Advice: If you are still in diapers, be sure to wear a higher rise pant and a longer shirt, nobody wants the embarrassing outfit malfunction, and a diaper hanging out the tops of one's pants screams low-class.

To a Special Occasion

Zachary's Advice: No doubt mom is going to try and squeeze you into a matchy-matchy outfit from Gymboree, probably one with the tags freshly clipped out of the collar. Whatever you do, do not oblige. Unless you want to look like a lamb blindly following the herd. You want to show your unique personality and style. I for instance always search for the T-Shirts that my mom has shoved into the very back of my dresser drawers. The ones in bright colors with phrases like "Here Comes Trouble!" or "I didn't do it!" in bold face across the front. I try and match them with a contrasting color or pattern to really show some flare.

Evan's Advice: Wear Spiderman or Spongebob.

For a Casual Play Date:

Zachary: I want to put my guest at ease, to let him know that he can make himself at home, therefor I like to strip down to my underwear, you know keep it real.

Evan: Wear Spiderman or Spongebob.
So there you have it kids, advice to live by.
As a side note, the Kargas Family is packing up and heading for a vacation to Denver, so I will more than likely be absent from the world of blog for about a week. But I promise to be back with amusing (at my expense) tails of our adventure.

Winner of Gabby Goo Earrings Announced!

Yikes! I realize I was suppose to announce this yesterday, but in all my patriotic joy, I guess I forgot.

So this morning, once again my trusted helper Zachary selected a name out of a hat. If I ever get more entries I will have to resort to a more sophisticated and efficient method, but for now this works just fine.

So the lucky winner is Marlin! Marlin please email me ASAP with you name and address so I can send you the birdie earrings. You have until June 7, and then I will be drawing another winner.

For all the rest of you thanks for playing, and one more plug for Gabby Goo. Check them out on line! Beautiful earrings, great baby trinkets and very affordable!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

Nothing to say, but happy 4th of July from the Kargas family! We had a great day at a local festival. Zack and Evan both rode ponies. Zack took third place in a watermelon eating contest, although, honestly it was because the judge was sleeping, he should have won the whole thing, the boy has a future in competitive eating. (Reach for the stars son, and you never know what you may achieve). Zack also rode a mechanical bull and Evan had a meltdown in the bounce house. Friends joined us for bar-b-q and we sat in the backyard trying to pretend it was warm enough for tank-tops. We topped off the day by watching Toy Story Two. All and all one of those days that makes you realize how good you have it.

Dear (Midwestern) Reader, I apologize.

I am sorry. There I said it. I apologize to Wisconsin and Minnesota and the entire Midwest. My last post was too harsh, and I meant not to offend, well not entirely anyway.

These points I stick with:

  1. Your winters for lack of a more elegant word, SUCK.
  2. I hate football, so therefor I could not care less about the Packers, and I will never understand the die hard fans wearing yellow foam blocks of cheese on their heads in 18 degree weather, but to each their own.
  3. Vilas Zoo isn't all that great.

These points I need to clarify:

  1. When I declared that I was living in a sea of reserved blonds, it sounded like much more of an insult than I intended it to. Ahh, the power of words. As one of my very best friends pointed out she is "reserved" and blond (and by the way she one of the most beautiful head's of hair I have seen in my life). It wasn't meant as an insult, more an observation of differing cultures. I am a loud, emotional, center-of-attention kind of girl, and I believe that it is in, part cultural. There seem to be fewer people "like me" in the Midwest.
  2. There are many things to love about both Madison and Minneapolis, and I will always be happy that I had the experience of living there.
  3. I am just happy not to be living there anymore.

P.S. In my original post I forgot to mention one thing that I do not miss about those sticky summers, and my piece would not be complete without noting the mosquitoes. The mosquito bites all over your body. Itching. The stinky smell of OFF. Itching. Need I say more?

Oh, but back to my apology. Madison, Minneapolis, all of my readers who happen to be self-described "Cheese Heads", I hold a dear place in my heart for you. I like cheese. I like cheese curds. I like lakes and the sounds of crickets at night. I like nice people. I am not ashamed that I was born in Wisconsin. I am proud of my Midwestern roots, and if I offended you, I sincerely hope you will forgive me. Or at least keep reading my blog.



Saturday, July 3, 2010

My Hometown

I was born a Midwesterner, however this never really resonated with me. Although I lived in Madison Wisconsin, my parents were former New Yorkers and I never felt that I really fit in with the farming heritage and the cheesehead mentality. I moved away after college graduation, with my boyfriend (and future husband) to his hometown, Minneapolis MN, which really was more of the same on a grander scale. A sea of reserved blonds who had never seen a Menorah before. After several years we moved west.

I have not returned to Madison or Minneapolis in three years. Most times I do not miss it. Those bitter cold winters that would freeze the inside of my nose and leave my fingers numb. The summers so hot and thick with humidity it seemed pointless to shower. I have few friends still living in Madison, and although my mother and stepfather are still residents they visit us with great frequency, so there is little need for us to return to the dairy state.

But every now and then I get a little twinge of homesickness.

In the dry, brown summers of Denver I sometimes got nostalgic for the thunderstorms of my youth. Those dark ominous clouds, they sky swollen with moister. A startling clap of thunder would burst those clouds like a pin popping a balloon, and a welcome down pouring of rain would drench the streets leaving behind puddles and the relief of temporary cool. The landscape a lush green and the gardens full of color, I missed this in the heart of the desert Colorado summer.

And I know I need to go back. My children should see where I grew up. I should show them the steps of Science Hall where their father and I made our arrangements for our very first date. I should take them to feed the ducks at lake Mendota and eat ice cream on the union terrace. We could go to the Vilas Zoo, the site of our annual grade school field trips, though unimpressive in comparison to the zoos they have already experienced. They should see the house where I grew up.

And yet I know that so much of this city has changed. The iconic Paisans where I went regularly with my parents and the dorms where David and I lived have since been demolished. The restaurants and bars along State Street have turned over multiple times since I last frequented them. Truth be told I would be a tourist in my own hometown. And I don't think it would feel like home anymore.

Who knows where home is, in an age where people move around so easily. We have lived in Madison, Minneapolis, Denver and now Berkeley. At this moment Denver still seems the most familiar and we are in fact heading back for a brief, but much needed visit next week.

That said, Madison will always be a part of me. The place where I was born. My official "hometown", cheesehead or not. I need to go back, if only to remind myself where I came from.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My blogging mid-life crisis

I have been at this blog thing for nearly a year now, and I think I am going through a blogger identity crisis. Who am I?

A hilarious witty "humorist" ala Ann's Rants? (By the way, not a joke, I am funny-right?)

A thought provoking aspiring writer baring her mama soul for all the world? (Perhaps that is stretching it an itty-bitty-bit.)

A busy chick with a fun little hobby, who need not give spelling or grammar a second thought, after all, it's just for fun...

A competitive, attention seeking whore can't understand why that horrific blog about sock puppets and vegan recipes has 683 followers and I am still only in the double digits?

Perhaps I am all of the above, which is reflected in the pages of getrealmama. I just haven't yet figured it out. I started writing because I wanted a hobby. At first I gave little thought to the fact that I had only 4 followers, but like anything, over time it has evolved.

Like many people I wanted my talents to be admired. An athlete for example, may participate in races and then post their results on Facebook, a knitter creates scarves and sweaters that will be worn or gifted, and an artist will produce paintings they may then show off on the walls of their home or in galleries. I guess there is a part of me that wants to do something that will be noticed. Something that will be praised.

And so I have wondered how to boost my readership. I have joined networking groups and started to grow my numbers. But I have learned that it is all a bit of a game. "Follow me & I'll follow you". One has to spend a great deal of time writing to other bloggers and clicking "follow" on random sites in order to receive the return favor from another traffic seeking blogger who likely has no expectation of ever returning to your site. You can achieve big numbers this way, but for what purpose? There are writers who hope to get enough traffic to attract marketers and sponsors. But that isn't me. I really cannot fathom the idea of reviewing vitamin juice and diaper cream. So why do I care so much?

I don't know. Does there have to be an answer?

So on I blog. One day a little comedian (remember you are laughing), another day a philosophising parent, pondering the meaning of life. Either way, I hope that those of you who do read this blog on a regular basis enjoy, and as always your feedback in welcomed.