Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Siblings Without Rivalry?

It's come to this. I am reading a book on parenting. I don't know what else to do other than seek professional help, which isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The book? Siblings Without Rivalry. The kicker? When I was a senior in college, I actually presented this curriculum to a parent education class that I was facilitating as part of my internship. Of course I don't remember a lick of it. It was after all a long time ago, and at the time the content was not very relevant to my every day life, thus, it didn't stick. Ironic that now, at 36 I am the student.

I am hoping that the book will actually provide me with some insight and useful tools to help me break the dreadful cycle of "nah-nah-nah-nah-boo-boo" and "You love him more than me." It better or I may just run off and join the freaking circus. So far, I am finding the book to be interesting. My favorite nugget thus far is as follows : Imagine that your husband takes you aside one day and tells you "I love you so much and you are so special to me, that I am going to get a second wife. She is going to add so much joy to our family, and I know that you will love her too. I expect you to be very nice to her and share all of your belongings with her."

Yeah. Now that hit home. It gives a whole new perspective on how it might feel to be a kid welcoming a new sibling into the family. It would kind of suck.

The book goes on to provide many examples of positive reactions to sibling jealousy, and I think some of the ideas just may work, but I worry that I am not smart enough to execute these techniques in real life. It's one thing to say what you would do in a hypothetical situation, and another to think fast on your feet in the heat of a preschooler versus toddler meltdown. But I am going to try. Hard.

Is it just me, or does this whole parenting thing seem to get more difficult and complicated with time?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dead give away

This is another post I wrote about six weeks ago which I can now finally share. Enjoy!

It's one of those moments that all newly pregnant women dread. Dinner out with friends or coworkers-wine flowing, bursting to share your secret but desperately trying to cover it up. While I have shared the big news with some of my friends, at 6.5 weeks it hardly seems appropriate to blab it to my coworkers.

Tonight was the very first social outing I have had with my new coworkers. The occasion: our head of global HR was visiting from New York. It was a fun evening actually. I have come to learn that PR attracts incredibly clever, charismatic people, and in fact, this holds true for agency HR staff as well (present company included!) But I was nervous. Like any one who is self conscious about something, I assumed that it became glaringly obvious to everyone else. Like a neon sign hanging above my belly flashing "PREGNANT".

I did a fairly good job disguising my bloated tummy with a newly purchased loose fitting (Liz Lang Maternity) shirt and cardigan, yet I knew there may be some other hurdles to scramble. Primarily, the wine factor. Luckily, as previously noted, I have never actually gone out with this group before, so nobody was aware of my typical (heavy) drinking habits. But still I anticipated the moment. The wine list was passed around. The orders were taken, and the drinks poured. "Rachel, you're not having any wine?"someone asks. I spew out my rehearsed response, something about migraines and giving up wine for a couple of weeks. It seemed to go over. (Although it is truly a ridiculous scenario for anyone who knows me. I would rather deal with an occasional throbbing headache than God forbid, give up my Zinfindel). The evening continued on and went well. We covered everything from politics to religion before somehow landing on the topics of babies and fertility.

An unexpected moment came. "Rachel, are you planning on having more children?" It was as if, like in some old movie, a record came to a screeching stop, and everyone all at once turned their heads for my response. I stammered a moment and came up with this gem; "The jury is still out on that one!" Which, I suppose is not a total lie, at less than seven weeks, this pregnancy could have a disappointing end. But everyone laughed, and we moved on.

The final incident was in the coffee ordering. A round of caffeine love for everyone, everyone accept me that is. I ordered decaf, which should be normal right? It was 8pm. But my colleague eyed me (with what I felt was suspicion, but which I am nearly 100% sure I fabricated) and asked "Don't you drink caffeine?" "Oh yes" I assured, her, "just not at night." Ha! What a whopper, I could drink a triple espresso, and still fall right to sleep. I am immune to caffeine, I swear it, but they are none the wiser.

Imagination or not, I think they are on to me. By the time this is posted, they will have already received official word of my news. They can tell me then if I am diffusional and self-absorbed, and if they honestly thought that I was a clean-living tea-totaler. I'll prove to them otherwise in 8 or 9 months...


I was completely right. Everyone knew after that fateful evening. Guess I am not as crazy as I thought I was.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Feeling a little lame

I don't remember feeling this tired or this sick with either of my other pregnancies. Yes, I recall morning sickness and a few extra naps, but nothing to this extent. I simply have an energy level of zero. Zip. Nothing. I feel as though I could nap at least four hours a day. An unlikely scenario for a working mom of two. I must say that my husband has been a real trooper picking up the extra slack with the kids, putting them to bed most nights and playing referee to the boy's daily dramas. I am hoping that soon enough I will turn the corner and start to feel more human again. For those of you whom have not heard much from me latley, please bare with me. I am simply not myself.

The benefit of my new lethargic state is that I have seen more movies in the past few weeks than I saw in all of 2008 and 2009 combined.

My mother and I recently saw Conviction with Hilary Swank. It is a very well acted true story of Betty Ann Waters, a woman who spent 18 years of her life trying to prove her convicted brother's innocence. In the end she prevails, using DNA evidence to clear Ken Waters of murder and free him from prison. It was a very good movie, one that I recommend if you can get over the unwritten epilogue. My mom and I were curoious about what happened to Ken after he was released from 18 years of captivity. We googled Mr Waters only to find that the poor fellow died in a freak accident 5 months after his release. 5 months. He fell off a 15 foot ledge while walking home from his mother's house and cracked his skull. Dead. What kind of fairy tale ending is that?

I also took the kid's to see Tangled on Friday. It is a lovely enjoyable movie. Or at least I enjoyed it. The wee ones had a different take on the flick. Evan's commentary (provided in the middle of the most moving scene) was, "Can we go see Megamind instead?" And when I asked Zachary what he thought of the film he shrugged his shoulders and informed me that it was "The second most scariest movie I have seen." Interestingly enough he could not recall what the first most scary movie was. I am guessing that since the movie did not include cars, pirates or superheros it was doomed from the get-go. You win some, you lose some.

Finally last night, the husband and I watched the cult classic Heathers. Wow. I of course had seen the movie many years ago, but I had forgotten what a dark, creepy and just plain bizarre movie it is. More than that it made me feel old. Really old. That movie came out in 1989. Winona Ryder was hot, and Christian Slater wasn't bad either. And the wardrobe . Wow. Talk about dated. It got me thinking. Winona and Christian must be pushing at least 40 now right? That number isn't so terribly far off for me either. I am closer to the dowdy middle age parents than I am the angst filled teens. Ouch.

I hope I start feeling better soon, otherwise I am going to turn into one giant couch potato who writes really boring blog posts about what I am watching on tv.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gobble Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving Eve. I hope you have done your grocery shopping, because from what I understand the supermarkets are full of half crazed last minute shoppers fighting over cans of pumpkin, sprigs of parsley and stove top stuffing.

For the second year in a row, we are not hosting. Instead we are going over to my step-aunt's house. We are in fact bringing the bird and the dressing, but that's it. There will be no cleaning, no table setting no preparation of appetizers, desserts and side dishes..... so I am left thinking, what on earth will we do tomorrow? We aren't expected for dinner until 4:00. It will be a chilly day, making outdoor activities fairly unpleasant. I hate football. So where does that leave me?

It leaves me with two stir-crazy kids and a turkey to tend to. A husband who will be glued to the tube watching game after game, and me wishing I could follow the usual tradition and guzzle a bottle of white wine with my mom. Darn developing baby!

I suppose it also leaves me with a great opportunity to think about all that I have to be thankful for today, which is more than any year before. I'll spare you the usual cliches (my sons, my home, my husband, my family, our jobs, our health, the pregnancy) and finish simply.

I am a lucky, lucky woman. I should give thanks every day for all that I have, however I usually don't. It is easy to take things for granted, but tomorrow I'll remember just how much I have to be grateful for.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 22, 2010

New Diet

Honestly someone should bottle this. "Morning Sickness-The Pill", for easy, quick weight loss.

I can see it now:

Your favorite foods? You won't miss them. Ice cream sundaes and supreme pizzas will make you cringe. No will-power needed, your appetite will simply disappear! Drop 4 dress sizes in 4 weeks!
Now the fine print:
Those who take Morning Sickness- The Pill may experience abdominal swelling and bloating, sudden mood swings, crying unexpectedly and for no apparent reason and massive fatigue.

***Disclaimer: I have now been on this special diet for almost five weeks. Alas, no weight loss. In fact my bagel and cream cheese diet has resulted in a three pound weight gain. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Now that the cat's out of the bag

Now that I have announced my big news, I can post some things that I wrote at the very begining of my pregnancy.....

This is a post I will not be able to make public for some time. At least six long weeks anyway....
Only a few days ago, life was normal. We had a nice routine going, a rhythm. It all changed with a "positive" sign. A pregnancy test. A possible baby. I was home alone when I took the test. I had a bad neck and decided I could not make the trip to Sacramento with my family. I got a deep tissue massage and took a 2 hour nap. The sun seemed brighter. Something was different. I did the "deed" and took the test, leaving it resting on the bathroom counter. I took a long hot shower, thinking about the possible result, willing myself to stay in the warm mist of not knowing for a few more minutes. I stepped out of the shower wrapped a towel around my sore body and looked down at the counter. PREGNANT. My heartbeat quickened. My first reaction... excitement, joy, disbelief. I could not wait for my husband to return home so I could share the news. But I guarded myself, due to a haunting memory. When the husband and I were trying to conceive our second child, we had months and months of fertility treatments. Then one day I took a Clear Blue Easy test, and holy cow it was positive. I was ecstatic. I called all my closest family and friends to tell them the news, throwing caution to the wind. Everyone knew we were trying anyway. That night I could hardly sleep. My head was busy contemplating potential baby names and due dates. The next morning my joy came to a screeching halt when another, then another, then another test came back negative. Who gets a false positive? I do. But it was unheard of. Yet it happened, and as silly as it may seem I was devastated.

But it was different this time. I took two additional tests after the first positive, both with the same result. So it is true I am pregnant. My husband and I were in a state of shock for the first day. We giggled at the prospect of a mini-van and maybe, just maybe a girl.

But now here I am with a few more days to digest it all, and what I am left with is cold fear. A close girlfriend just miscarried. She was a few weeks ahead of me. I know that I could share the same fate. And if everything (God willing) turns out, then I will have three babies. Three. I never planned on three. Now let me state this for the record, we were not completely surprised by the pregnancy, we knew that we were playing with fire, and yet I guess I didn't quite expect it. Now I am here trying to envision my new life, and there is so much uncertainty. Where will we live? This house is so small. Will I ever get any me time again? I was really enjoying my evenings out with new girlfriends. How will we pay for college for three kids? No more shopping for mama. What will my body look like after three pregnancies? I have a feeling I am going to be asking for a tummy tuck every Christmas....

So right now, I am feeling quite afraid, afraid for the baby as I am with each pregnancy, because ultimately above all else I want this baby, and I want it healthy. And I am afraid of what my life might look like for the next few years. And you know the one thing that might help in a situation like this? A glass of wine. But like the ibuprofen I desperately wish I could take for the never ending spasm in my neck, alcohol is off limits. That is just plain cruel isn't it?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kargas Inc is expanding (YES I'm expecting!)

We have a very big announcement her at Kargas Inc. After several years of continued success we are in fact, expanding! That's right, we will be adding an additional staff member in early June 2011. This is very exciting news.

I realize that you may have some concerns. Perhaps you feel that you do not have time to train a new employee, or you may worry that this individual will not fit in with our organizational culture. Finally given our small offices, I realize that it is hard to imagine that we have any additional room for another person. These are all valid concerns. However, we are in the process of scoping out new locations for our corporate headquarters. I am confident that we will find a new space that will be comfortable for all of us....eventually. Additionally you all have very important jobs to do! I expect each of you to welcome our new staff member with open arms, and take him or her under your wing. Think of this as an excellent opportunity to further develop strong leadership skills.

I admit, I did not believe that this day would ever come, but here it is, please celebrate with me!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Oh whoa-is-me. Remember The List I started a few weeks back? The one that included the adolescent Assistant Store Manager at Mr. Pickles who kicked us out? Well my list is expanding. Right now I am adding AT&T/Apple and the entire East Bay. I am in quite the mood.

Why the East Bay? Because it is too damn expensive, period. After over 12 months of living in our little house we have decided that the Kargas family needs more space. We are far too squished in our little home, and it is wearing on us all. So we have started the search for new digs. It has not been easy. Sure we could get more bang for our buck if we moved to Oakland, but then again, our children would either be forced to attend the poorly performing public schools of the city, or we could fork out $15,000-25,000 a year (per child) for private schools. Not an attractive option. Of course there are pockets of Oakland with good schools, but those pockets are highly desirable, and therefore almost as expensive as Berkeley. We could move to the suburbs, but a) we are urban people and truly do not wish to live in the suburbs and b) that would mean longer commutes. It all seems like a lose-lose situation. And all though I am not being singularly persecuted, it generally pisses me off.

Why AT&T/Apple? About a month and a half ago I destroyed my cell phone when a Diet Coke exploded in my purse. I took that opportunity to switch over to AT&T and get a brand new Iphone. I paid nearly $500 in penalty fees for leaving Verizon, and gave up any chance of ever having more than 2 bars for the privilege. The result? Less than two months later, I have a dysfunctional phone. No Internet. No Internet. What is the point of an Iphone if you have no Internet? I spent 30 minutes on the phone with AT&T on Saturday with no resolution. I had a sixty minute call with a technician tonight, only to be told that my phone is "seriously messed up", and that I would have to make an appointment to go into an Apple store to see a "Genius". Great. What a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. All I can say is that "Genius" better give me a fully-functioning brand spanking new phone or *someone* is going to have a temper tantrum in the middle of an Emeryville shopping mall.

So there you have it. It appears I am on a roll.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Performance Evaluation II

As employees of Kargas Inc, it is time once again for your bi-annual performance evaluations. This time I have conducted a 360 degree assessment and gathered feedback from your peers, as well as your supervisors at Kargas Inc and the JCC.


Overall everyone is very pleased with your performance. You have made great strides in the past six months. Your communication skills while not yet polished, have improved greatly. Your supervisor at the JCC indicated that you are a joy to work with, that you embrace teamwork with your peers and that you rarely resort to physical violence. All good things. Your coworker at home unfortunately told a somewhat different story, indicating that you are generally annoying and bothersome. I took this feedback with a grain of salt knowing the source personally. While we do not yet believe that you are ready for a promotion, the management staff here including myself, is proud of you. There are some areas we would like you to focus on developing over the next several months. First and foremost, and I realize that this is a highly personal matter, we often notice that a strong odor accompanies you wherever you go. This is probably due to the fact that you continue to wear diapers. You have six months to get this situation under control. No additional diapers will be purchased for you after that time. Additionally, we encourage you to expand your interests outside of firetrucks, Spongebob Squarepants and Lighting McQueen, there is a whole world out there Evan, spread your wings, explore new horizons.


This past six months you have acquired a plethora of new skills, and we could not be more proud of these accomplishments. You now have the ability to read basic correspondence, and while we will not be putting you in finance any time soon, you have learned to grasp simple arithmetic. Good job. We also understand that you are forming some key partnerships with some of your colleagues at the JCC, this is wonderful. We do unfortunately also have some concerns. It has come to our attention that your conflict resolution skills need some improvement. For example, when problems arise with our junior staff member screeching "You're a poopy head" at the top of your lungs is not an appropriate response. Similarly, threatening to run away when your supervisors provide you with constructive criticism is not acceptable behavior. We need to see some serious changes in this area if you are to advance to the next level at Kargas Inc. We would also truly appreciate it if you would bring in additional income to the organization. With your affinity for toys and your tendency to outgrow or destroy perfectly good apparel, you are quite good at spending, however you have yet to contribute to Kargas Inc. financially. Please make an effort to increase our earnings.

Evan & Zachary we sincerely appreciate your continued efforts. We look forward to the months to come and believe they will bring you much success.

Thank you.

Mommy & Daddy

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Need to get it together

I just don't have my act together these days. Point in case our nanny arrived at 8am this morning and I had no idea why she was there. (She usually arrives at 12:45 and picks the boys up from preschool). I stared at her blankly as she stood in my doorway. "There is no school today." she reminded me. It's a good thing that she arrived when she did, because we were on our way out the door.... to preschool.

I had a doctors appointment this morning at 9:40, or so I thought. I decided that I had better call to confirm. I'm glad I did, because as it turns out, it is in fact next week.

Where oh where is my head? Why do I seem to lack all organization? I recently read one of my references on LinkedIn. The manager kindly described me as organized. I had to laugh. I am anything but organized. It is a true flaw. It can be seen in the sloppy way that food is hastily thrown into my refrigerator, the general disarray of every closet in my home, or the fact that I frequently forget to pay my credit card on time. For whatever reason I seem to be missing that tidy little organizational gene.

And I know that things are only going to get worse. There will be soccer practices, play dates, little league, school performances and field trips to remember. If I am failing now-I can only imagine what lies ahead in my future.

It's time to get my act together. I need the Yoda of domestic structure and planning to take me under his little wing. Oh wise mentor where art thou? Rescue me. I am hungry for your teachings.

But you might want to call to remind me when you are coming. I'll probably forget.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Is it Friday yet?

We had an awesome day today. I woke up to a dreary, rainy Sunday morning in Berkeley with a chip on my shoulder. My first thought was of how I needed to get the boys new rain boots for the wet east bay winter that lies ahead. Recalling the torrential rains of last January, February and March my mood was somber. Rainy days with kids can get a little bit, shall we say claustrophobic. I brightened briefly upon realizing that I had a very believable excuse to skip my Sunday workout.

But the day was surprisingly terrific. We had what I would call a first date with another family in the morning. Last weekend I met a woman and her 3.5 year old son Dylan at the park. We chatted and came to the realization that I had actually had a long conversation with Dylan's grandmother almost a year ago at the same playground. Dylan and Zack played well together despite the age difference, and we ended up exchanging phone numbers. I could use a new friend in the neighborhood. Heck I could use a new friend period. I debated contacting her, because like asking someone out, it's hard. You don't want to appear desperate or lame, yet someone has to make the first move, and I am so glad that I did. She ended up inviting us to her home for Sunday brunch, and we had a really great time. Her husband likes baseball so the men folk hit it off. The boys for the most part got along well, and I had a great time. The perfect way to spend a rainy morning.

Next we hit the Oakland Museum of California. It was free day. And it was raining. So of course it was crowded. The exhibits were a bit grown up for the boys, but they seemed to enjoy looking at the old fashioned cars and the 1950's televisions. Of course the difficult questions came when Zack started inquiring about World War II. How do you explain the "relocation" of the Japanese to a five year old? Oye.

Finally we had a late lunch at a diner. A real diner with milkshakes and breakfast served all day. No it wasn't all sunshine (er... rain) and roses, there was some inappropriate behavior at lunch, occasional bickering between siblings, but overall a much better day than I had anticipated. In fact it was the kind of day that will make me miss the family all week long as I look forward to the weekend.

Is it Friday yet?

Friday, November 5, 2010

A change of attitude. So there.

My bah-humbug post of earlier this week got me to thinking. I had some interesting responses and suggestions on how to shake the holiday blues and I have decided to change my attitude. For real.

A trip to Target today actually proved to be therapeutic, joyful even. The store was seriously decked out. Festive signs suspended from the ceilings, isles upon isles of all things Christmas. Cards, paper goods, wrapping, ornaments, lights, candy, stockings, stocking stuffers, lawn decorations, tinsel, ribbon, candles, red and green socks and sweaters, even underwear. Ahh sheer consumerism.

And then I came to the Hanukkah isle. A neat, tidy little section dedicated to the Chosen People. The Hanukkah isle probably represented about 1/10,000 of the store's merchandise, it was so......manageable. And it came to me. This is it. This year I'm a Hanukkah girl and it is going to be easy and fun. I purchased a driedle covered tablecloth for $5. A menorah adhesive to put on the window. I added a stack of blue Star of David napkins and 2 packs of chocolate gelt to my cart. Wah-lah. Holiday decorations complete. Easy. The rest of my plan includes eight small gifts for each of the kids, and inviting another family over for an evening of latke eating. We will light the menorah, maybe bake a few cookies and enjoy family time. I like it.

As for Christmas? No I will not ignore the holiday entirely, it is after all my husband's tradition, and the boys love it. But I'm going to let daddy be the Christmas guy. If he wants to get a tree and mess with the lights, I'll be there cheering him on from the sofa with a cup of apple cider. I am not joining the frenzy this year. I will enjoy the neighborhood lights and the 24x7 Christmas Carols on the local light radio channel. We will fly to Denver to celebrate with family, but I'm not knocking myself out purchasing large bulky gifts that need to be shipped back and forth, we are going small scale, and I'm just going to try and enjoy the season for the beauty that it brings. I am going to focus on keeping it fun, even if it isn't picture perfect, even if we don't do it all. Maybe we will skip the long line at the mall for the shot of Zack and Evan squirming on Santa's knee. Maybe we won't have the most elaborate holiday meals, or the best decorated house on the block. But we are going to have fun.

So there.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Oye vey, Christmas is coming

Believe it or not Halloween has come and gone. I say that because we still have enough candy to feed an entire neighborhood of eager trick-or-treaters. And do you know what that means? Have you been to a mall lately? A Hallmark store? It's the holiday season folks. Christmas is coming, get your jingle bells on .

I used to be a Christmas freak. I couldn't wait to pull out all the decorations and transform our ordinary home into a festive holiday wonderland. I insisted on a tree the day after Thanksgiving. I decorated with candles, poinsettias and ribbon. I hosted cockAdd Imagetail parties, and bought the latest Christmas CD. I was a bonafide Christmas Jew.

Over the last several years however, it as if someone was slowly letting the air out of my big jolly balloon, and this year, I am afraid I may fall entirely flat. As the holiday approaches I feel less merry and more stressed out. Perhaps this explains why every "Woman's" magazine features countless articles on simplifying the holidays from October to January.

I can't seem to help myself. When I think about the season I envision dragging out all of the clutter from storage-I have no space for my every day belongings, where am I suppose to put my fine collection of Christmas tree candles? I think about the pine needles endlessly falling from the tree. I think of all the shopping, so much shopping, so much money, money, money. Trust me, I love shopping, I adore giving gifts, and perhaps that is the problem. I always overspend, leaving me feeling guilty and guaranteeing that my husband and I will be caught in an endless battle of the budget each December. And please, no comments about crafty gifts for less, I am no Martha Stewart. I don't sew, I don't can, I don't preserve and don't use a glue gun, thank you very much.

Finally, I know children are suppose to bring the magic to the holidays, but to be honest, I found that since I have had kids I have felt a tremendous pressure to make Christmas special. To create amazing traditions and memories. Somehow my lame attempts at cookie baking never seem to measure up.

I know I am getting away from the true reason for the season. At the risk of offending my more religious readers, to me the true meaning of the holidays is family. Celebrations where you get everyone together, grandparents, cousins, sisters and brothers. Which is great. Except we live miles and miles and miles away from our families, so being together entails a lot of work and stress. It means packing, shipping gifts, finding pet sitters, and flying with small children at the busiest time of the year, (and did I mention flu season?) All of which quite frankly put me in a rather foul mood.

So here I am at the begining of November already full of dread for what used to be one of my favorite times of the year. So tell me, what's a girl to do? How can I learn to love Christmas again?