Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Pajama Problem

We have a problem. Evan is a tiny tyrant when it comes to his wardrobe. He has a closet full of adorable Gymboree bargains that I carefully and lovingly selected for him. But no. Make that NO MOMMY!

At this moment Evan will wear only one thing. His cheapo-ugly-as-sin-Buzz-Lightyear Pajamas. Oh Lord help me. I bought the boys a matching pair for Christmas, knowing that while they were unattractive, Evan and Zack would enjoy wearing them (to bed) and they would likely never step outside the front door while in the gaudy ensemble. How very wrong I was.

Evan refuses all other clothing. Tuesday night he wore them to bed. Wednesday our nanny (Lindsay) could not get him to completely change his outfit, so they compromised. Evan wore the pajama bottoms with a clashing baseball t-shirt and Lighting McQueen socks (another *must*.) Wednesday night Evan wore the rather dirty buzz outfit to bed. This morning when he awoke, we discovered that his diaper had leaked leaving the PJ's rather....damp and somewhat smelly. We had to draw the line. The beloved sleepwear had to be removed and replaced with another outfit.

There were fits. It took Lindsay about a half an hour to get the stubborn toddler in clothing. What resulted was a hideous combination of too-small baseball pajama bottoms and a miss-matched Mets T-shirt with a pair of, what else? Lighting McQueen socks. This combination only made it through a partial day, until the Buzz Lightyear clothes were through the washer and dryer, and those PJ's were back on in time for dinner.....

What am I going to do?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I wore a dress today

Today I got dressed. Okay, I get dressed every day, but today I put on a dress. And boots. And eyeshadow. It was time to join the ranks of the living. I was headed into the office, and my new custom fresh- from- the- grave look just wasn't going to cut it.

Let's face it, I have been feeling pretty lousy for the past several months. First morning sickness, then followed by a cough that simply will not die. This cough has left the muscles between my ribs in a constant spasm (a common side effect of pregnancy per my OB), and thus I look a bit...haggard. Most days I throw on a maternity shirt that has been through probably 6 or 7 pregnancies (mine and various friends) and a pair of borrowed ill-fitting jeans. I often am too tired to accessorize and usually rely on little to no make up, the over all effect is well, like I said earlier, death warmed over. Nice.

Yesterday I sat in my home office looking like total crap and I started to think about how I might spiff up my look for the trip to the city. A dress... of course! But the only dresses hanging in my closet were either a) sundresses, which will prove to be totally unnecessary in the San Francisco climate, or b) a size or two too big, which leave me looking nothing short of frumpy. So I did what any self-respecting sick pregnant lady would do. I dragged my boys out in a rainstorm to Target to find myself a new maternity dress ala Liz Lang. As I hurried the boys through the parking lot, clutching my ribs, coughing and yelling at my little troopers to speed it up so we didn't all get drenched, I thought... perhaps I made a mistake.

But today when I slipped on my little grey dress, tights and boots I knew it was worth it. While it is hard to feel "pretty" when your stomach is the size of a watermelon, (unless of course you happen to be Heidi Klum) at least I felt pulled together and presentable and I so desperately needed that.

Thank you, thank you Liz Lang. If only you could do something about the stabbing pain between my ribs.....

Monday, December 27, 2010

Your Christmas Gift Was Stupid

I got a whole bunch of stuff for Christmas. It all looked so promising under the tree. Red and green paper, curly ribbons and shiny bows. I had high hopes.

Santa did alright. He brought me a helicopter lego set that took me and mommy over an hour to put together. Then it fell apart and I got MAD. Stupid legos! He also brought me a camera and a guitar, but the guitar was broken. Grandpa said that a reindeer must have stepped on it. Mommy looked at him and said Santa must not have been on TARGET and winked. Why was that funny? Stupid broken guitar!

After the Santa gifts, there were still more presents to go, and it took forever. Mommy wanted me to stop and examine every single present I opened, and I just wanted to see what was next. If we did it her way it would have taken forever. Plus she said the grown ups had to open up gifts too, and their stuff was really boring. Books, and soap and dumb stuff like that. I guess that Santa doesn't like big people very much.

I got two best things for Christmas. One was a red glow stick in my stocking. It was so cool and I had it in bed with me all night long, but then it stopped working. Stupid glow stick. I also got an awesome pirate set with an eye patch, a sword and a gold earring. Arrrg I looked like a real pirate! Until the earring and the sword broke and Christmas was ruined- but only for a few minutes because then we got candy canes.

I got some really bad presents too. Auntie Erica gave me a "make your own plate and mug set." Mom was crazy about it. She was so excited, but I thought it was stupid. It didn't make noise, it wasn't a car, or a superhero. Dumb! Mommy got really mad at me when I told Auntie Erica that I didn't like it. Aren't we suppose to tell the truth? Duh!

Next year I'm going to ask Santa for a chocolate covered Lighting McQueen remote control car, with candy cane windshield wipers. I think you have to be pretty specific with the big guy. And your Aunt.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


We awoke before dawn after a sleepless Christmas night. We dressed and gathered the last of our belongings in post holiday haze, preparing ourselves for the early flight back to Oakland. Home. Or that is what we are calling it.

It was too early for much emotion as I hugged my sister goodbye, my nephews still snug in their beds, asleep. We drank coffee and tried to force some sort of nourishment into two crabby children before bracing the chaos of Denver International Airport on December 26th.

As we drove East the sun started to rise painting the morning sky pink and red above the snow capped peaks. My muscles tensed as I thought of the long lines and our sleep deprived children, and as we drew closer to our destination my eyes began to sting as I finally blinked back tears.

Christmas was over, our trip to Denver complete. The "vacation" had not been ideal, I was sick for the entire visit, I only saw a fraction of the people I had hoped to, my boys had not displayed much grace upon receiving generous, well thought out gifts, and nobody slept much. Yet, I felt bitterly sorry that we were leaving. Too soon, for too long.

Each time I return to Colorado I am struck by an uncomfortable feeling. Remorse. Pure remorse, and it seems to grow more intense with each visit. I am sorry that I ever agreed to leave my home. People whom I love. Friends. Family. A city I adore, one that is comfortable, beautiful and so very livable. My husband would disagree. He would point out all of the phenomenal things about living in the bay area. He would gush about the amazing experiences we have had since arriving in Berkeley. And he would be right, however as pretty as Golden Gate Park is and however bountiful the fresh produce, it isn't mine.

And now I feel trapped. David likes his job....a lot. It's a good job, one that would not easily be replaced, particularly in Denver.

So Denver becomes only a brief holiday visit, with an early morning return flight home.

And I feel so very sorry about that.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mama melt down

I fell apart at the library this morning. I totally lost it. Nearly ugly crying. In the middle of toddler time story hour. And it wasn't because the librarian's rendition of "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" was that good either. No, it was simply the sight of an old friend.

It was the feeling of warmth in a dingy library basement, filled with kids and faces that I recognized. It was the sense of belonging in a community, my community, even though I have been absent now for over a year.

I had spent the day before with my good friend Shannon and her lovely family, and enjoyed a playgroup with my beloved "June Babies" mamas, but for whatever reason it was the moment in the library, seeing several familiar faces unexpectedly that brought me to tears. When I went over to say hello to my friend Liz, I could not even get it together to speak. She was kind, blamed it on my hormones, and I simply had to leave without saying a word, I could not hold it together.

I love it here. I love the life we had. It was comfortable and full. It isn't as if life in California is so bad, it's just that Denver is home. This is where I belong.

And I am so very far away.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Here they come!

The kiddos arrive tomorrow! My babies will be here! Oh, and the husband too. I am greeting them at Denver International Airport in the afternoon, and I must say that I am ready to see them (husband included.)

I admit, I looked forward to the solitary time. The mornings where I had nothing more to do than shower and feed myself. The macaroni and cheese-free evenings and a full five days without once uttering the words "time out" or "put your pants back on Zachary." It has been nice. I have no idea when I will experience anything close to this type of quiet again. Yet, I miss my crazy boys. I miss reading them their bedtime stories and stroking their hair while I sing to them each night. I miss Evan's "I love you mommy!" and the way that Zachary laughs at himself when he *thinks* that he has said something very funny.

It's Christmas time, and although I need/needed the rest, I feel lonely without my family. I can't wait to pick them up at DIA tomorrow. While I have visions of lovely reunion filled with hugs and smiles, I am bracing myself for reality. Two crabby kids, tired from a long flight and one husband assuming I owe him. And I do. He is a brave, brave soul to face holiday travel alone with a two and a five year old. I wouldn't do it. I'm guessing that tomorrow probably won't be the makings of a feel good Lifetime holiday movie, but I'm looking forward to a very Merry Christmas with my beautiful little family.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Am I crazy?

I'll try to spare you the details, because they are boring, but this post is about my doctor and why I am mad at her.

As you may or may not know, I am out of town, visiting family in Denver for the holidays. I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and that evening I had one of the most severe hot flash experiences of my life. For those of you who know me, I am always cold. Now granted, I know that pregnant women tend to run warm, but do they lay naked in 65 degrees sweating and awake until 2am, while covered in cold wet towels? I don't think that is normal. Let's not forget to mention how on the flight out to Denver I sweat through my sweater and jeans, while the girls next to me kept their wool jackets on. I take thyroid medication. One of the symptoms you can experience when your thyroid is out of wack is.... hot flashes. Now I am not a doctor so I don't know how concerning it may be to have a thyroid problem when you are pregnant, but I decided I should get things checked out. Friday morning, I placed a call to my doctor. I left a voicemail message explaining my situation. I waited for a return call. I waited until 4:00 pacific time and placed another call before the office closed for the weekend. I left another message. I informed my doctor that she would no longer be able to reach me on my cell phone because I was now headed to the mountains where I have no service. I gave her an alternate number to call.

I never received a call.

Saturday morning, once I was at lower elevation I discovered that my doctor had returned my call, on my .....cell phone. She thought it was a splendid idea for me to get a blood test to check my thyroid, but she needed to know where to send the orders. Alas, my doctor does not work on the weekends and thus everything would have to wait until Monday.

I called back on Monday morning and left a message. I told her that I would be going into Denver that afternoon, so it would be great if she could send the orders to the lab there. I left the fax number. I asked her to return my call so that I would know everything was all set. No call back. I leave another message at 11:50 with the receptionist who assures me that I'll get a call back before 3:00. I get no such call. Finally I contact the lab and ask them to contact my physician to get the orders. I drive down to Denver.

When I arrive at the lab, the technician "Denise" informs me that she did in fact get in touch with my doctor's office. They had noted my calls and that I was "upset". Great. Now I am the problem patient. Denise told me that they tried to convince her to leave a message as well, but that she was very forceful and stayed on the phone with them until they faxed the orders over.

So they drew my blood in 2 minutes and I was on my way.

A part of me is embarrassed. My doctor is going to think that I am one heck of a high-maintenance patient. If my thyroid results come back normal, I am going to feel really stupid.

But should I? Were my requests unreasonable? Am I expecting too much? I realize that my doctor has many other patients, and that she is very busy, yet does that mean that I should be ignored? I am not a doctor. I do not have the answers. All I have are my symptoms, the Internet and my imagination. Is this all I can expect for my super expensive health insurance?

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Okay, this post ain't gonna be pretty. I don't have it in me. I am miserable. Sick miserable. I have the chills and a fever, a headache and feel in a fog. On top of that my neck is in spasm again. What is going on? Lucky for me, I still have some blessed muscle relaxants which do seem to help.

I am getting on a plane, Denver bound tomorrow for what is suppose to be a merry, festive holiday visit. All I can think about is how very cold I am going to be, how I won't have my own bed, how I can't just nap. People to see, things to do.

What bad timing. Why could I have not come down with this bug last week? Why am I suddenly plagued with debilitating neck pain? Oh I know, I know things could certainly be worse, but let me pout a little while.

I don't believe in Santa anyway.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chevy's (or shall we call it Chubby's?)

Recently we took the boys to Chevy's Fresh Mex for lunch. Chevy's is a typical Tex Mex chain restaurant that serves up huge plates of refried beans and smothered burritos. It's the kind of place where the waiters bring out a bowl of fried ice cream then serenade the guest of honor with a jazzed up version of "Happy Birthday To You." Yes, that kind of place. Don't get me wrong there is room for such a restaurant. The food is bountiful, you get what you expect, kid's usually dig it.

Fortunately, or unfortunately (depending on how you view it), because of a new law, Chevy's (and other like establishments) are now required to publish the caloric content of everything on their menu. Hello buzz kill. I'll take the water, thanks.

Get this:

Kid's Hamburger: 1060 calories, 50 grams of fat

BBQ Chicken Salad 1448-1583 calories, 107-128 grams of fat

Chicken Quesadilla (Appetizer) 1260 calories, 80 grams of fat

Grande Beef Burrito 1720 calories, 88 grams of fat

"Ooey gooey chewy sundae": 1020 calories, 48 grams of fat.

Holy diet destruction! I stared at the menu and found basically nothing that I could feel good about eating. Diet Pepsi? A woman my age, weight and height needs approximately 1500 calories and 50 grams of fat a day to maintain. So basically most of the items on the menu exceeded my fat intake and pretty much maxed out my calories for the day. I settled on the "Kickin Corn Chowder" 280 calories and 16 grams of fat and the mixed green salad, 130 calories. Then I spent the rest of the meal coveting my husband's smothered burrito.

I have a feeling we won't be back.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Call me Mrs.C

It appears that I have transformed from Scrooge Rachel to Ms. Jingle Bells. Yup, that's right, I am in the holiday spirit. Big time. But in little ways. There are no flashy parties this year. No spendy gifts. No festive cocktails.

Somehow this year I have succeeded in recognizing what the holidays are really about, simple joy and family. My family. Is it a hallmark card? Not quite, but I'm trying. Hard.

This weekend, a glowing example of my Christmas cheer. Friday, a gloomy, rainy typical December day in Berkeley. What to do? I packed up the boys and headed to Barnes & Noble, where we picked out no less than 10 Christmas books and sat down to read them one by one, as I sipped on a gingerbread latte. (Short detour, I am 100% addicted to the high priced, highly caloric "holiday" coffee drinks ala Starbucks-decaf style. I'm blaming it on the baby.)

Saturday we headed to Sacramento to visit old town. I assumed that the cute tourist destination would have a significant amount of holiday spirit. Wrong-o. But did I let that grinch me out? No sir. Instead I sent the kids on a quest to find candy canes. Bingo. Instant Christmas fun. Sort of. It took us a while to actually locate the red and white sugary confections, and the boys started getting cranky. But when the kids finally sat down to enjoy their candy, Zack informed me with a smile that "Candy canes are a special Christmas treat!" Precious, right?

Last night I decided to enjoy one of my very favorite Christmas traditions, holiday light viewing. I have always enjoyed driving around to see the sparkly creations adorning our neighbors homes. The problem this year has been that the clowns in the backseat have turned this simple cheerful activity into a shouting match. "Christmas lights!" Evan screeches at the top of his lungs. "Christmas lights!" Zachary yells in return. Then a battle of "I saw them first" and finally, tears and hitting ensues. Good times. I had just about vowed not to drive after sunset when I came up with a fabulous idea, make it special mommy and me time. So tonight after dinner I packed Zack and only Zack into the car and cranked up to the Christmas tunes. We spent 25 minutes just driving around and admiring the pretty lights. No screaming. Nice.

Finally today we took the family out to City Hall for a Christmas festival complete with fake snow and Santa Claus. We waited in line so Zack could slide down the one man -made snow hill (kind of a bizaar site for a Wisconsin girl), and introduced the boys to Saint Nick. To my surprise even Evan posed for a picture with the fat man in a red suit. Sadly, this turned out to be a seedy part of San Francisco. On the way back to our car we had the pleasure of witnessing a junkie shooting up in plain site. Ho,ho, ho.

We ended the day making Christmas ornaments. Not quite Martha Stewart, but I am okay with that.

So here I am giving myself a pat on the back for not giving into the Christmas stress, and turning eggs into eggnog, or something like that.....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Christmas Letter

Dear Friends & Family,

You can be my friend today, but you might not be my friend tomorrow. I'll have to see if you are still nice. I guess I'm stuck with my family but I wish that my little brother was not in my family. I wish that it was only me.

This year my little brother has become really terrible. He is so MEAN. He always copies me even when I tell him not to. He always has to say everything first too. Like when we are out driving in the car he always has to open his mouth first to tell mommy that he saw a fire truck or an ambulance. I know that I saw it first dumb dumb. He just always says it faster. I hate him.

I am in preschool. I'm five but I'm not in Kindergarten yet. I don't want to be. I have my best friend at the JCC. His name is Eli. I like him but sometimes he is mean. At school I like the part when we play outside the best. And snack time. Snack is always better than lunch. Mommy packs me bad lunches. She gets mad when I don't eat them, but then she should put better stuff in my lunch box. Like Cheetos and chocolate milk. I love Cheetos. Sometimes I trick mommy into taking us to Subway. I don't eat my sandwich. I just want the Cheetos.

I can read now. I learned all by myself. I like the Frog & Toad books and I know all the words to Green Eggs and Ham.

I also take karate. It is hard. The best part is when we run around in circles and do sit ups. The worst part is when we have to figure out which leg to kick with and which hand to punch with. It gets confusing and I get mad. Sometimes I quit but the teacher just stares at me until I try again. I guess it is okay. I am going to learn how to use karate on my brother. Hi-yah!

Mommy & Daddy tell me that we are going to have another little brother in the spring. I hope he is not like Evan. I want to name him Stanly. Mommy said no. But maybe I'll change her mind.

Soon we are moving to Oakland. Mommy says we need more space now that we are having another baby. But the baby is so small, why can't we just put it in the closet? It's okay. Our new house is nice. We can look out the windows and see people get on and off buses all day long. Cool! I overheard mommy saying that there were a lot of bad guys in Oakland. I wonder if there are a lot of jails there too. I think Evan should go to jail but daddy says that kids don't go to jail only juvenile detention. Maybe he can go there.

We are going to fly on an airplane and go to Denver for Christmas. I can't wait. On the airplane I get to watch movies and eat pretzels. I want to see snow. In Berkeley there is no snow. I don't know how Santa can use his sleigh when there is no snow. When we are in Denver I get to see my friend Finn. I used to call him toddler Finn, but I guess he isn't a toddler anymore. I always have fun at his house. Last year we took off all of our clothes and ran around the Christmas tree naked. Finn's daddy got mad and made us put our clothes back on. He is mean. I also get to see my cousin Finn. I used to call him baby Finn, but now he is 3. He has the most toys of anyone in the world. I can't wait to go to his house.

Santa is going to visit us in Denver. Mommy says he knows where to find us. I hope he brings me lots of toys and nothing for Evan!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Where is my Alice?

Okay so we have a lot going on. A lot. A toddler growing into his terrible twos, a five year old who we will call "spirited." A new baby on the way. The holidays. A move. I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't feeling a little overwhelmed. Okay massively overwhelmed. Like pulling my hair out of my head crazy beans overwhelmed. In the midst of all this do you know what it is that tends to push me over the edge? The little things. The insignificant. Realizing that it is ten pm and I haven't packed the boys lunches yet. Discovering that the dishwasher is filled with clean dishes and that it needs to be unloaded before I can remove the clutter from the kitchen counter. Losing my keys. Yes, these are the things that have me blinking back tears and cursing under my breath.

What I need is an Alice. You know who I am talking about. The ever cheerful, ever helpful, superhuman, live-in housekeeper. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about. Someone to help me keep it all together. Someone to to do the crap work with a jolly smile plastered on her homely little face. Someone who can keep things light with her simple jokes. And she has to come for free. Any takers?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Random thoughts from the weekend

Karate Kid:

Saturday morning is now karate morning for my wild child. The intent is to give Zachary an outlet for all of his physical energy, while teaching him a little discipline. I have to say it is terribly adorable to see these little 5 and 6 year old children in their uniforms barking "Yes Sir!" to their "master." So far Zack pouts in class. At times it is painful to watch him sulk when he gets frustrated with a new move. The other children persevere, while he hunches his shoulders and refuses to look his teacher in the eye. I do think that in the long run it will be good for him. The "master" does not baby him, and demands respect. Maybe he can whip him in line. I certainly seem to be struggling. At times my little Karate Kid actually seems to enjoy the physical nature of the class and he is very proud of his "enormous muscles." Ralph Macchio? Perhaps not, but I'm not giving up hope just yet.

Where have all the jackets gone?

Where have all the jackets gone? Each day passing. Where have all the jackets gone? Long gone each one. Where have all the jackets gone? Evan's lost them every one. When will he ever learn? When will he ever learn?

(The new jacket photographed below has joined the missing jackets club along with half a dozen others.)

It's official I'm a Jew

Why? Because I can now not only make matzo ball soup, but I am also capable of preparing latkes! At 36 years old, I whipped up my first batch of potato pancakes this evening. What took me so long? For starters, I do not particularly care for them. However, now that I have children I have decided to suck it up and and follow tradition. Tonight (with the exception of Evan, who seems to boycott all holiday meals) we all dined on potato pancakes and roasted chicken.... I'm officially a Jewish mother. So there.

It's official, I'm a Christmas Jew

The Kargas family did in fact purchase a Christmas tree this year, and I am so very glad that we did. We refrained from putting up a tree last year due to our holiday travel plans, and it just didn't seem festive. Our tree is beautiful, and the best part was unwrapping all of the familiar ornaments. I think that is one of my favorite aspects of the holiday, looking at the treasures of years past and taking a walk down memory lane....

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Three Sons

At only 12.5 weeks, I did not realize that today would be the day that my dreams of mother-daughter bonding would finally be put to rest for good. When I went in for the ultrasound (which was done for the purpose of genetic screening) I didn't know that it would be possible to determine the baby's sex. Oh but it was. It was hard to to miss. This tiny fetus has very visible male parts. My third son. Wow.

I can't say that I am shocked. Any time someone jokingly told me that we should try for a girl, I laughed at them and responded that if we kept trying we would simply end up with an army of boys. But secretly I thought... maybe.

But now there is no more maybe. There will be no more babies after this, and that is a promise!

So gone are my fantasies of mother-daughter tea parties and wedding dress shopping. Funny, I am not as devastated as I was upon receiving the news of Evan's gender. Perhaps I prepared myself better this time around, or maybe I have just come to terms with the fact that this is my lot in life. Mama to boys. The lady of the house. Football Saturday's and guys golf outings. And it is okay. No, better than okay. The ultrasound showed a healthy baby, and I am beyond grateful for that news.

It isn't the life that I expected. But if we always got we planned on, things would get awfully boring right?

Who knows what adventures lie ahead for me and my three sons.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The new house

Kargas Inc is moving. It had to happen. Our current headquarters are just too tight. We need space. Space for our belongings. Space to breath. Space to not kill each other.

We found a place. A beautiful home in Oakland. Perfect? No. It is on a busy street and very close to a highway so noise is a factor, and we are unlikely to have a lot of neighborhood block parties. But we have four bedrooms and a mother in law apartment with a second kitchen. And the house is immaculate. New fixtures, fresh paint in warm colors, and beautiful window coverings. The bathrooms and kitchens are updated and shiny. It really is quite lovely.

Mostly I am excited, but I am also a little sad. I won't miss our house, but I will miss our routine. I got used to this neighborhood. The Monetary Market where we buy all of our fresh produce and the bagel shop that I frequent on the weekends which is far superior to Noah's. We have our favorite playgrounds, the doctor's office, the dry cleaner, my salon, dentist, and favorite watering holes all within a mile. Now I have to learn a whole new city again, and I'm not in the mood. I just figured all of that stuff out. Not to mention the actual moving. The packing and unpacking. The house filled with packing paper and cardboard boxes. The chaos.

But it is going to be worth it. It is going to be worth it. We are going to love it. It's going to be great. As long as I can find a good bagel.

Positive thinking.