Saturday, December 29, 2012

Santa, The Follow Up Letter

Dear Santa,

I hope you had a really nice Christmas. I had a good time. I really liked the presents that you gave me. Did you like the cookies that we left?

We had fun. We could not wait to open our presents! The best present you gave me was a chemistry set, just like I asked for! I am a little mixed up though.  The card said that the present was from you, but the box said Toys R Us. Did you buy my present at the store? I thought that the elves made the gifts....

I don't want to hurt your feelings Santa,  but the remote control helicopter you gave me doesn't work very well. I think that your elves may have been half-asleep when they put this one together. Mom and Dad were mumbling about Elf quality control and wondering what we should do. Should we send it back to the North Pole? Would you have to make a whole special trip out with the reindeer to bring me a new one? That seems like a lot of trouble.

Also, I am wondering... if you know when we have been bad or good... why did you give my brother Evan presents? I am pretty sure he should have received coal. I don't understand how you missed that one, but I am starting to question your judgement....

Do you know that some kids don't even believe in you? They say that you are make believe. There are an awful lot of fake Santa's out there, you know. I see them everywhere, at the Farmer's Market, at the movie theater and the shopping mall. Am I really suppose to believe that Santa is in all of these places at once? I am seven now. I know a fake Santa when I see one, and I see them everywhere!

Finally Santa, I have to ask, how exactly did you know what I wanted for Christmas?  I wrote a letter, but I found it later in Mommy's desk drawer, she never sent it! Do you read minds? I just don't get it.

Anyways, thanks Santa, for all of the presents. Next year, keep a closer eye on your Elves, and Evan.


Monday, December 24, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

So it's Christmas Eve. Sun is shining for the first time in days. I went for a jog with my Santa hat on, blasting Eminem all the way. Sad little middle-aged mama.

Tonight we are having family friends over for an appetizer dinner and drinks. I'll wrap the last of the presents after the boys are in bed and prepare for all the mayhem tomorrow at day break.

Christmas. Thirty minutes of slashing open gift after gift, then it's over, until next year.

It's a funny thing Christmas. I used to feel it was truly magical. This year it felt a bit like a chore. I know. Sad isn't it? There were few holiday parties to attend and I have felt lonely for my Denver home. For the neighborhood Christmas party we always hosted. For Christmas morning with the cousins. For snow. Yes even for snow.

Last year we had a full house. My in laws, my mother and stepfather, my brother-in-law, his wife and family. This year things are different. My brother-in-law  is at home in Albuquerque, celebrating his first Christmas without his wife, whom I had adored, they are getting divorced. There is a sadness that creeps into Christmas as I remember happier holidays.

I have other friends who are going through sickness, loss and divorce this holidays season.. And the tragedy of Newtown, has made us all feel a bit uneasy about a full-on celebration.

If I am to be honest in some ways I feel a But in others all of this misfortune and unhappiness has made me even more grateful for all that I have. It has reminded me that we must seize the opportunity to experience joy, as life is fickle, and your luck can change on the drop of a dime. Grim perhaps, but also a push to appreciate my gifts.

My boys.
My husband.
My parents.
My in laws.
My sister
My nieces and nephews
My friends, far and near
My health
My beautiful life.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Since you asked...

A few random updates on my life. I know you are sitting on the edge of your chair just waiting for them.

To begin with I have neglected to give you a hair update. (Gasp!) It is growing, albeit at an amazingly slow pace, but yes, there is more length than there was eight months ago. I colored my hair for the first time in years. I wanted to do something different, yet I had no idea what. I went in to a new salon and walked out with some crazy red highlights. I can't say that I loved them, but it was something different. Having hair is fun, yet it's a bit of a pain. Now rather than running some "product" through my short "do" and heading out the door, I deal with the hair dryer, the flat iron, pins, clips and headbands. But the husband likes it, so it makes at all worth it...right???

It's *almost* a pony tail!

Running: Although, I am not running like I was this past spring, I have been dutifully putting in thirty minutes on a treadmill a few times a week while plugged into Bravo watching my new favorite show, The Shahs of Sunset. (FREAKING LOVE THIS PROGRAM.) Recently I went for my first outdoor run in months and it was amazing. I loved every second of it. I was inspired to do more than the 3.5 mile loop around the lake, but I'm pacing myself. Memories of the dreaded boot keep me from pushing myself too hard.

All smiles after an awesome run!

Holidays: Keeping it low-key this year. After last years family puke fest, we are having a small Christmas. David's parents will be visiting from Florida. Last year we had both sets of parents and my brother-in-law and his family. It was was a lot, but could have been fun had it not been for the plague. I liked having the people around, the cousins playing and some chaos. I am worried that this year will feel a wee-bit lonely, but the boys are as excited as ever. Hopefully Santa will not disappoint.

The boys: Evan still doesn't eat and is well versed in pushing everyone's buttons. He has his charms and can melt your heart when he gives his baby brother an unsolicited hug. He is very competitive with Zack and becomes absolutely outraged when he perceives anything as "unfair." He loves the holidays and was very excited to have Julian and I attend his preschool holiday party. He even wore a snowman sweater for the occasion, which is nothing short of a Christmas miracle, seeing as he will go sleeveless in 20 degree weather.

Doesn't look like a fake Santa to me!
Zachary is enjoying school but grumbles about the crazy amount of homework he has each night. It really is rather unbelievable. Zachary is also very excited about Christmas and still believes in Santa, although he yelled "faker!" at the Man In The Red Suit when we visited him at the farmer's market.  

Julian: Julian eats 24/7. He is learning new words everyday. Yesterday he was carrying around a fish stuffed animal and calling it "Baby" He has cute down to a science. If only he could learn how to change his own diapers....

Why does daddy think it is funny that this man is attacking me?

So there you have it folks. The Rachel Kargas Update. Worth waiting for, huh?

Friday, December 14, 2012

In the wake of tragedy

Most mornings are pure chaos. It's a mad dash against the clock, as I fight to get all three boys fed and dressed and out the door. We do not want to be late. No. If Zachary arrives only sixty seconds late to his first grade class that means a trip to the office to obtain a dreaded tardy slip. God forbid.

So there are no leisurely, pleasant walks to school, instead I feel like a drill Sargent "Come on boys! Pick up the pace! Move it! Move it! Move it!" Inevitably there is a great deal of whining and moaning from the middle child who thinks that walking a fourth of a mile is an enormous burden, certainly far to great for a four and a half year old. I spend my time barking at him to suck it up, and move along.

By the time we arrive at Zachary's school I am clearly frazzled, annoyed and just plain exhausted. There are no hugs goodbye, Zack is usually running the last paces trying to make it to his classroom before the bell. "Bye Zack!" I will call out, "Have a nice day!" He rarely turns to acknowledge me. He is in a hurry. This is our routine.

But not anymore.

Today was a rude awakening. Parents of school aged children around the country wept and gave thanks for their babies whom they would pick up today. Safe. The images of the screaming children in Connecticut struck too close to home. That elementary school could have been our neighborhood school. Those parents who received the news that they had no children to pick up could have been us. They could have been us.

And what if my child's last memory would have been of me yelling at him for forgetting his lunch box? Or of me ignoring him as I scolded his brother for walking too slow? What if I realized I did not hug my son goodbye, that I didn't tell him I loved him? What if I was left forever wondering if he thought I was angry at him for taking too long at breakfast? No. I would not want to live with that.

Monday morning, I plan on focusing on what is important. I will not be angry with my boys. I will not order them around. If we are late for school the world will not come to an end. My child will not be destined to be a dropout. The most important thing I can do is send my child to school every day knowing that I love him with all of my heart. Because I do.

So many of us feel frightened and vulnerable. We leave our children in the hands of near strangers every day and hope for the best. We cannot shelter them from insults, failures or bullets. There has always been evil, tragedy and danger in this world. It comes in different forms. Natural disasters. Disease. Famine. And now... mass murder. There is little we can control. But we can give our kids the best we have. We can love them and let them know how much they are treasured. That is our job. That is just what I am going to do.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

White Flag

I surrender. I give up. I am waving the white flag.

You win Legos. You may have full run of my house. You may clutter my tables and bruise the bottom of my feet. Go right ahead, induce epic meltdowns in my offspring, who throw tantrums of frustration when unable to follow your PhD level instructions for assembly.

Congratulations laundry! You are victorious. Your piles grow ever larger, I am nothing against your mighty power of renewal. With one load completed, four more are produced. I cannot keep up. You have reduced me to a puddle of bleachy tears.

Oh dear dishes you are champion. Not only do you overflow my sink and dishwasher reproducing at a rapid pace, but I find your dirty sour-milk-crusted cups in every corner of my polluted home. Sticky silver-wear hides under the table and beneath the baker's rack. I am powerless to stop you. You are master.

Dinner time, I surrender to thee. I have come to terms with the fact that no matter what I prepare, be it hot dogs, frito-pie, or meals with kid-friendly names like "rainbow pasta" or "sunshine carrots" I cannot win. Complaints will be hurled at me at a frenetic pace. Food will be discarded, left on their plates, only to be shoved in Tupperware, and later thrown away. Dinner, perhaps we should simply part ways, and finally ignore one another.

Clutter you have successfully conquered me. You have taken over the closets, the drawers and are threatening to plant your flag in every room of the house. I gave it a good fight. I have bought bins, and giant plastic boxes in an attempt to contain you, but you are all-powerful and am no longer able to fight this battle. Spill away, across the living room floor, under the beds, over the kitchen counters. You. Are. Unstoppable.


Monday, December 10, 2012

On The Twelfth Night Of Hanukkah....

Latke making with my friend Mindy
We go both ways in the Kargas family home. That's right. Christmas AND Hanukkah. Can you guess which holiday is most popular amongst the munchkins? I'll give you a hint-it involves a fat man who is some sort of recluse in the North Pole.  Chopping down a beautiful tree, then rearranging your entire living room to make room for it. There are also lots of cookies involved, and fruitcake. Yeah. Fruitcake.

Christmas always wins. I don't blame the boys, it's pure magic. The lights, the music, the food, the anticipation, the absolute gluttony.

First night of Hanukkah
Hanukkah is so much more restrained. Kid's don't care much for lighting a few candles and eating potato pancakes. To be honest I could pass on latkes any day. Sure we do presents, but only one a day if you are lucky. There is no mad frenzy of unwrapping dozens of gifts at dawn. There are no inspiring Hanukkah movies, no stories of flying reindeer and tiny elves feverishly building toys. There is religion and (in my opinion) bad food.

Hanukkah cannot compete and the kids know it. They taunt me with it. "My FAVORITE holiday is Christmas!" Followed by Easter. No mention of Hanukkah, Passover or even Purim. But I try. I do.

We usually have some sort of Hanukkah party, passing out "gelt" (chocolate coins), opening gifts and muddling through a few games of dreidel. We own a beautiful menorah. We slather potato pancakes with applesauce to try and make them appealing. (Hey it's better then fruitcake!)

The boys know they are Jewish, but also celebrate secular versions of Christmas and Easter. I'm aware that it can be confusing and sometimes they get mixed up. Just yesterday in the car the "Twelve Days of Christmas" came on the radio. "This is a nice song" Evan announced. "Is it a Hanukkah song?" Not quite son. The "Christmas" part  should have given it away.

I did not celebrate Christmas as a child. I never believed in Santa Clause, and admit, I felt cheated. I am cognisant of the fact that the way we acknowledge the holidays may offend some. There are Jews who are disgusted that I allow a Christmas tree in my home. There are Christians who are appalled that we forgot the "Christ" in Christmas. Honesty, we mean no harm and do not wish to be disrespectful. My husband and I are simply celebrating the traditions that we both grew up with. We are not religious people, however we find value and joy in bringing the ritual of Hanukkah and Christmas to our own family.

Thus, we light our Menorah in the presence of our glittering Christmas tree. We play Bing Crosby's holiday hits while unwrapping our Hanukkah gifts. It's about tradition. It's about magic, joy, charity and family. It's our celebration.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday.

Merry Hanukkah!
Happy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The first time I got a manicure: 1997, just before I went on a cruise with my mother and grandfather in Greece. I had never been on a cruise before, and assumed I had to be fancy. I had my nails painted shiny red and couldn't stop looking at them.

The first movie I remember seeing in the theater: ET. I was petrified. That was one ugly alien hiding in the garage.

My first "real" boyfriend: Sophomore year of high school. We dated for four months before he broke my heart and went on to become prom king. Bastard.

My first best friend: Ms. Erica. I met her in kindergarten and I am still friends with her today. We have been through it all. Grade school drama, high school boyfriends and heartbreaks, college exams, drunken nights on State Street, trips to Vegas, babies and careers. I hope I will know her until I'm 90!

My first drink: Tequila and sprite. 10th grade. I really wanted to impress a certain boy I was with. I ended up with the dry heaves and a pounding headache. It was a long time before I had another cocktail.

My first massage: The day before my wedding day. The woman talked to me the entire time, asking me questions about wedding colors and bridesmaids dresses. My arm was stuck in a funky position and I ended up incredibly sore the next day. Luckily I have since learned that massages can be heaven.

My first job: Rocky Rococo's Pizza the summer before college. I worked the cash register and was responsible for "flipping" the salad bar, a dreaded task indeed. I met a number of unsavory characters who either hated me or wanted to marry me.

My first positive pregnancy test: I wasn't late, but I wanted a baby badly, and had been trying. My husband had gone out for a run and I figured it was too early, but would try anyway. I stared at the two lines with disbelief. I remember what I was wearing that day. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking "I'm going to be a MOMMY!" I couldn't wait for David to return home from his jog to share the news, so I called my mother. Poor spouse was the third to know the news!

My first house: Purchased after only two days of looking. We flew from Minneapolis to Denver for a quick house hunting trip and found a cute little bungalow in Sunnyside. I thank my lucky stars every day we bought that house. Our neighbors soon became our very best friends, and though we have moved twice since that first home, our friendship remains.

My first parent-teacher conference: Zachary was six months. Yes you read that right. The daycare insisted on regular conferences to discuss our child's progress. I remember rushing from work, eager to meet with Zachary's teacher. As you can probably imagine, the meeting was intensely interesting. "Zack takes good naps. Zachary likes eating applesauce. He likes his rattle."

My first car: My parents gave me their blue Volvo after graduation so that I could make the drive from Madison to Monroe Wisconsin (where my boyfriend was living.) I don't  remember the year. I do remember totaling it only a few months later when I flipped it after driving head on into a tractor trailer tire. It wasn't the last Volvo I would total.

My first grown up pet: My sweet Wiggum. Purchased at the Humane Society he was white and orange and a total cuddle cat. I loved that kitty madly and miss him still.

My first time as a bridesmaid: My friend Michelle and Chad's wedding. What a blast. They were two of my very best friends in Minneapolis. I was so excited to be part of the wedding party. I went dress shopping with Michelle, and attended her hen party in Chicago. The wedding was a blast. The hangover was less fun.

My first Mother's Day: I was so excited. I dressed my eight month old baby up in a light blue jumper that my husband insisted made him look like a fool. I wore something with flowers on it and we went to a lady-like brunch at my favorite Denver restaurant, Duo. It was a perfect sunny spring day, and I felt like the luckiest woman in the world.

What are some of your favorite first memories?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Look hard. You might see my biceps

Can you see my excitement before the workout?
So I didn't become a half marathon runner in 2012. It wasn't meant to be. As much as I have always looked at running as my go-to exercise, I don't think I am really a true "runner." My body just wasn't made for it. After all of the ankle injuries and tendinitis this spring and summer, I have come to terms with the fact that long-distance may never be my thing. But I am still working out. Oh yes I am. I have tried things I never thought I would. Yoga, which I do not care for. The new age music. The people moaning. And when the instructor starts talking about "energy" and "namaste" I find myself rolling my eyes and wishing I had just hit the treadmill. I've tried Zumba, and with two left feet, felt foolish and frustrated. I have had better luck with "Body Sculpt", 50 minutes of lifting weights and doing squats in front of a mirror while listening to hip-hop and  watching Tracy, the Goddess of Fitness.

Oh Tracy. I'll be honest she has a banging body. She has nice biceps, firm triceps, a tight middle and a perky tush. She wears stylish form fitting spandex outfits and a fake flower in her hair. She pounds out "one more" "come on right arm"  and "higher" into the microphone and still manages to sing along to the music. She lifts 15 lb weights when I am doing five. She teaches multiple classes a day. She is inspiring.Or perhaps maddening.

I actually don't like her very much. Many of the "old-timers" of the class seem to love her. They bring her gifts from their travels and joke with her. Not me. I have asked her for advise on a couple of occassions, but I am usually greeted with annoyance and a terse answer. "You can't fix your belly. C-sections do major damage, people shouldn't get them." "Your triceps are flabby because you don't use them enough. You have to keep coming to the Y."

Okay, so I didn't expect to become Tracy overnight, in fact, I don't even want to be Tracy. But I want results and I'm working for it. I am at Body Sculpt three times a week, and running at least twice. As a mama of three, I can't do much more than that. So even if Miss. Tracy thinks I should do more, I am putting in what I can, and I think I can almost see a bicep muscle.... just maybe.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What I Am Thankful For: The Alternate List

Where on earth have I been? Poor neglected blog! I bet you all have missed me. Sadly I have time for only a brief update.

Where have I been?

Busy being thankful in the woods with my family of course! We packed up the Kargas boys and headed to Yosemite to celebrate the turkey holiday. We rented a condo with my parents and had a lovely time. We took hikes, we saw a bear, we ate stuffing, we drank wine and we played ping-pong. What more could one ask for? It very well may have been the very best Thanksgiving holiday I have had in my 38 years. This year I felt truly blessed. But rather than bore you with the typical I'm thankful for my kids, family, home and health post I'll give you the alternate list.

I Am Thankful For:

Bravo Television. Real Housewives, Top Chefs, Millionaire Realtors and Matchmakers, I thank God for you. You are there for me when I need to shut off the noise and melt into sticky sweet smut. Thank you.
Concealer: I turn to you daily to cover the natural redness of my nose and the circles under my eyes. Without you, I would constantly need to respond to inquires regarding the status of my health.
Yahoo! News: The source of the most critical news. With their hard-hitting journalism I am able to keep up to date on what all of the most important people in the world are up to. Justin & Selena, Brad & Angelina, Pippa. I am so well informed.  
Trader Joes: The prepared meal mecca. I am enjoying one their Reduced-Fat Asian Chicken Salads as I type.
Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Zinfandel, etc: This should require no additional explanation
My GPS: Without our all- knowing, friendly GPS system, who kindly recalculates each time I make a wrong turn, I would never get anywhere. No. I have zero sense of direction.
Coffee: Like Pinot Noir above, this should be self-explanatory. 
Target: Oh, beautiful Target. I can get lost in your lovely isles for hours. You keep me on top of the seasons. Two months into July and you stop selling swimsuits- your on to Halloween candy, but I forgive you. You have it all. Hello Kitty alarm clocks, $3 mittens, lacy underwear, bejeweled flip-flops, hot wheels and a snack bar to keep the kids happy while I wonder endlessly in your house of consumerism. I love you.

Hope you all had a fantastic holiday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney & .....Rachel Kargas? Sundance 2013

My husband's sexy job marketing cat litter and water filters is finally paying off for me. Yes me. You may not believe it but my spouse has had some pretty remarkable experiences with his gig. Somehow filtered water has lead him backstage with Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz. He is wined and dined by PR agencies and vendors and given prime seats at sporting events, all while I hold down the fort. But not this time. Nope.This time I'm tagging along for the ride. Sundance baby. That's right. Don't ask me what my husband will be doing at Sundance, let's talk about what I will be doing.

Hanging out with celebrities. Jennifer Aniston, George Clooney, A-listers. I have it all planned out.While my husband is out slaving away on the job, and my children are at home in the care of Nana & Grandpa David, I'll be hanging out at an upscale coffee shop drinking a $25 low-fat, no-whip mocha. Miss. Aniston will walk in, trip and spill the contents of her Prada handbag and I will casually reach down to help her collect her things. She will grumble to her bodyguard that she is going to loose it if the paparazzi take one more photo of her. I'll chuckle and tell her that my kids think I am the paparazzi with all of the pictures I take of them. She will tell me how she wants kids too. We will start a conversation about fertility and prenatal vitamins. She will grab the seat next to me and her bodyguard will buy us two more coffees. Gradually she will confide to me that Brad was a terrible lover and that she thinks Angie has spider arms. I'll agree about the arms.We will talk for hours, while the photographers of Us Weekly and People snap pictures, which will later be seen splashed in the tabloids. "Jen & Her New BFF! Inseparable at Sundance!" Jenny, as I will by then be calling her will remember that she has hair and make up to get to, since she needs to be at a VIP screening of some art-house flick. She will invite me along, then take me shopping to buy me something appropriate to wear on the red carpet.

Later that evening after I have texted my husband that I'll be jetting off to Jenny's beach house in Bali on Tuesday, I'll be introduced to George Clooney while at the VIP party with my  new bestie. George will forget all about the 6 foot tall Brazilian barbie doll on his arm as soon as he sees me and will breathlessly tell me that it is so refreshing to see a real woman without any work done. He will take me to a five star dinner where he will tell me he thinks I would be perfect for Ocean's 15 or whatever the hell number they are on. We will exchange numbers as he assures me that he will be putting me in touch with his agent. That evening we will share one passionate kiss under the stars before we part ways, but only after he informs his stylist to hook me up with whatever I want.

Mid January. Me. Jenny. George.  Sundance. I'll be giving autographs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

No Wonder Woman Here

"I don't know how you do it." I get that frequently, usually after I inform someone that I am a mom to three young boys.  It is said with awe and  wonder as if I might hold some super-power which enables me to meet the demands of my three offspring. Trust me no, super powers here. If only.

Truth is, I "do it" because I have no other choice. I don't claim to do it with grace or wisdom, no, like the old Nike ad, I just do it. I have to. My greatest strength is not my IQ, my patience or my maternal instinct, but rather tenacity. I have never been the smartest, the most talented, or the best at anything, but I have the drive to stick with it, to get things done, and I suppose that applies to child rearing as well. I simply can't give up, as much as I would (sometimes)like to.

Wonder Woman or Super Mom I am not. If I did have a cape or a magic wand, trust me, my house would not look as it does, chaos swept into closets and drawers, all smoke and mirrors. If I had super powers my kids would watch no more than one hour of television a week, eat three wholesome home-cooked meals per day, follow my directions, write thank-you notes, have matching socks, eat homemade birthday cake, plant carrots in our backyard garden, and be genuinely shocked upon hearing a four letter word. But alas, I am cape-less and have misplaced my wand.

No Wonder Woman here. Just me. A mom who relies on far too many prepared meals and babysitter SpongeBob. A regular-Joe who is embarrassed to host a dinner party, since my table is now nicked, the chair cushions soiled and my flatware dull and water-stained. A selfish lady who would rather spend the little free time I have at the gym or at drinks with a friend rather than at a PTA meeting.

How do I do it? By pushing myself to accept that it doesn't have to be perfect, that sometimes good enough, is...enough. I do it by believing that my tenacity has value. The art projects I do with my kids may pale (dreadfully) in comparison to the crafts I see in Parenting Magazine, but at least I'm showing my kids the effort. I do it by prioritizing and setting my own limits. So the living room is a disaster, but at least I cleaned up the cat puke, so it's sanitary.

It would be fabulous to be a super-hero, and I do believe the pretty costume suits me well, but alas, I'm only human. I'm just a mom trying as hard as I can and praying it's good enough.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Late fall 2008. I pushed my four month old baby in a stroller while holding the hand of my four year old son. We walked, kicking leaves of orange and red down the sidewalks of our neighborhood as the sun set. In my hand I held a roster of names and addresses. Obamana! Zack yelled, pumping his tiny fist, we had trained him well (although he had some difficulty with pronunciation.) We knocked on doors of registered Democrats reminding them to get out and vote. It was only one night. It wasn't much, but I felt proud to be part of a movement.

Flash forward, January 2009, inauguration day! I gathered with a group of other Denver moms and babies in a living room. We drank mimosas and shed tears as we watched the first African American president come into office. I was in awe. It wasn't just that we had elected a minority. We elected a leader. Hearing Obama speak, I felt that we finally had a person in charge who cared and who was a good, decent person.

Has his presidency been perfect? Of course not. But look what the poor man walked into. No human on earth could have cleaned up such a mess in a mere four years. But I trust him. We share values. Marriage equality and access to healthcare, women's rights, integrity. I like this man. I am proud of this man.

I am happy tonight. We have re-elected a good person. Our country is in good hands. I'm proud of my country.


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Reasons Halloween Is My Favorite

Top Ten Reasons Why Halloween Just Might Be My Favorite Holiday:

In case you can't tell my husband is a crazy cat man, duh.

Look I actually did a craft with my kids! 
  1.  No turkey. No ham. No 15 different kinds of potatoes. No. Feast. In fact everyone is so preoccupied with snack-sized candy bars that I might not have to cook at all. Love this.
  2. No gifts. No baskets. A few bags of cheap candy and some costumes from Target and everybody is happy.
  3. Admiring other people's more ambitious costumes. Love to see every-day-people's creativity in action! 
  4. No travel. Have you ever heard of flying a family of five across country to celebrate Halloween with the relatives? Neither have I. 
  5. Smarties. Need I say more? 
  6. Jack-o-lanterns. I love the pumpkin glow on a starlit night. I especially love that the carving has become my husband's responsibility, as I cannot be trusted with a knife.
  7. I get to wear sparkly stuff and wigs, somewhat fulfilling my dream of performing on stage.
  8. Babies always look cute in costumes. Check out my Kermit The Frog!
  9. Parties! Halloween gatherings are  fun, never stuffy and usually involve heavy drinking. All good things in my book. 
  10. Did I mention Smarites??


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kargas Inc. Suggestion Box


As a mid-level employee, I feel that we are too top heavy and that we need to hire additional staff to take on some of the entry-level responsibilities (i.e. toy organization.) I would like to suggest that leadership hire another baby brother! -Evan

CEO Response: 



The four-legged administrative staff is over-burdened and they would benefit from additional support. We recommend a guinea pig. We promise we would help in mentoring him! Pinky swear! -Zachary & Evan

CEO Response:



Senior management seems to lack empathy regarding some personal employee issues. Staff members have experienced  significant loss over the years, with little acknowledgment from leadership. We feel that the company's bereavement policy should include time off when a beloved action figure or stuffed animal has been cruelly dismembered, crushed, or kidnapped. Time off for such tragedy is required for good mental health.  Bereavement leave should include a two week reprieve from all cleaning, vegetable eating and disciplinary action. During bereavement senior leadership should do all that they can to ensure the impacted staff member is comfortable.  This will likely mean purchasing new toys and supplying the employee with plenty of candy.-Zachary

CEO Response:

Who do you think "kidnapped" the one-armed Captain America Doll? 


Is Kargas Inc. not an equal opportunity employer? I have been a victim of all kinds of discriminatory behavior just because I am a practicing Fruititarian. I believe the following reasonable accommodations should be made for me: 1) All meals should include 4 fruit courses, and dessert. 2) I should never be required to eat protein, vegetables or any dairy products with the exception of chocolate milk.  If you fail to comply with my requests I will file a complaint with the EEOC. -Evan

CEO Response:

Fruititarian is not a protected class or a disability. Eat your broccoli and shut up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Healthy Living: Pain, Desire and Rewards

The Pain: 

In light of my ankle injury and Osteoporosis diagnosis I have adopted a new exercise regimen. Although I have avoided exercise classes for most of my life, I am now attending 3-4 weekly. Body Sculpt (AKA: Slowly Kill Yourself By Lifting Weights While A Very Buff Instructor Screams "10 More" For 50 Minutes.), Core Yoga, and Yoga Flow. I'm working to build up muscle and strengthen my tiny bones. It hurts. G-Damn it hurts. Mostly my arms ache, as they are the weakest, but also my thighs, my tush, and my jiggly tummy. With all this pain I half expect to somehow look different. But after only 2 weeks of working out, I am just as wimpy looking and soft as ever. Sigh. No pain no gain. It will come. I WILL  be buff my Christmas!

The Desire: 

I have given up diet soda. For the most part. This. Is. Hard. I had a bit of a Diet Pepsi problem. The results of my bone density test have convinced me that it was time to lay off. I miss it. I miss that fake-sweet bubbly sensation. If you aren't a diet soda drinker you can't understand, but I CRAVE it. Oh how I long for you Diet Pepsi.

The Rewards:

I'm feeling good about myself. While I have had to give up my dream of being a (half) marathon runner (for now), I have set new goals. Someday I will be able to lift more than three pound weights. Someday my arms may actually have some definition. Someday I will be STRONG.

Monday, October 15, 2012

No longer a morning person

I used to be a morning person. I used to voluntarily show up to work by 7 am, when I was at my best, so that I could leave work at 4:30 and get a workout in or hit happy hour. In a past life I would actually get annoyed when my husband wanted to lazy around on a Sunday morning reading the paper and drinking coffee. I was always anxious to get out and start the day.

Of course that was before kids. That was before the daily 4:30am news flashes of a wet bed or a spider in the window. It was before the 5:30 am nursing sessions and the 6:45 am demands for cereal. It was a time when breakfast was not an hour long battle over who had the reddest bowl, or who got to turn on the kitchen light.

I was a morning person when getting ready involved taking a nice shower, applying my make up and flat ironing my hair. I was responsible for dressing only one person, not four. There was no searching for lost shoes, or leaving the house after realizing that I have cream cheese prints on my yoga pants, and no time time brush my hair.

I was a morning person when getting up early meant more "me" time in the evening. Now my "work" is never done before 8:00 pm, after the children are fed, bathed, and tucked in. Even then, down time often involves a gigantic stack of laundry eagerly awaiting folding.

So no, sadly I am no longer a morning person. These days I would just about sell my soul for an extra 45 minutes of sleep each day.  I have actually considered forgoing the occasional Saturday night babysitter in favor of hiring a helper to whisk away my children at daybreak, Sunday morning.

Please tell me, it gets better. Assure me that one day I will sleep in on Saturday mornings, and that the days won't be so long. Tell me that some good old fashioned quality sleep is in my not so distant future. Lie to me if you must. I need hope.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

People I Want To Punch In The Face: Gym Edition

There are so many people I would like to punch in the face right now, but for today, I will focus on the gym.

I am not one who has ever really been "into" group exercise classes. I often find myself flustered and pathetic as I try to keep up with all of the moves that my classmates seem to execute so easily. I have two left feet, I struggle with form and to be honest, I'm just plain weak. However at the urging of my "fitness expert" at the YMCA I am now experimenting with different classes, including Yoga.

But let's start with my "personal trainer." I signed up to meet with the trainer, thinking he would be showing me around the gym and teaching me how to use the equipment and target my "problem areas." This is a free service provided by the YMCA, thus, I should have known better.

I arrived for my appointment and was greeted by a buff twenty-something with a hip afro. I'll call him "Tyler." Tyler looked about as happy to see me as he would a dentist offering a root canal. He sat me down at a desk and took out a form. I knew from that moment our thirty minute meeting was going to be a total waste of time. "Why are you here?" "What are your goals?" "What have been your challenges to success?" He asked the standard stale questions, painfully recording my answers in the neatest of penmanship.  Then Tyler handed me a class schedule with his recommendations highlighted in red. They included an 8:15 body sculpt class. "I can't make that one." I informed him. He looked at me sternly, as only a bored twenty-five year old can, and said "Can't and No" are "limiting" words. Apparently, if I think I can't do something I am creating road blocks to success. Okay, but I KNOW that I  can't make an 8:15 class Tyler, since I need to drop my son off at school at 8:30, and that ain't changing, comprende?Oh to be twenty-five and clueless.

Next on to Yoga, specifically Yoga Basics, a class designed to teach beginners the fundamentals. Or so one would think. The class was diverse, there were people of all ages and fitness levels. We spread out our mats, and began class when a woman announced she was having wrist problems, and could we spend some time focusing on that. Wrist problems? Ugg, The teacher agreed enthusiastically and spent a good twenty minutes talking about the wrist and the "energy" in our hand. When finally we moved on, the  woman continued to interrupt every move to inquire about the correct position of the wrist, and back we would go talking about hand energy. Yoga Basics lady. Not Wrist Basics. And as far as I can tell, you aren't the only person in this class.

The next class I attended was Yoga Flow Basics. This was a busier class, and I thought it would be a little more rigorous, but it wasn't. We ended up lying on our backs for ten minutes in a "back arch" pose. Felt like a cat nap to me, not that I'm complaining. What I will whine about is the hot chick next to me who clearly was in the wrong class. What part of basics don't you understand? She was obviously bored and underwhelmed with us beginners, and I swear she rolled her eyes every time I stumbled, but for the love of God, I'm not used to balancing in "tree pose." cut me some slack, and take the advanced flow class sweetheart.

This week I will be taking body sculpt (not at 8:15am, thank you very much), where I am sure I will fumble and struggle with three pound weights, and where I'm guessing I will gather more stories of annoying gym rats along the way. Stay tuned....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Sick of the chatter

There has been a lot of chatter about weight these days. My Facebook newsfeed is filled with posts and links to articles about body image, weight and the related bullying. There is the blog post about the mom who chose to "stay in the picture" with her kids, even though she did not feel good about her appearance, the news anchor who told off a viewer after he wrote her about her obesity, the speculation about Lady Gaga's 25 pound weight gain, and on and on and on.

Weight. Haven't we all heard enough? In parts of the world we have starving populations, there are natural disasters and people dying in bloody wars and we are still talking about weight. What a privileged culture we are.

I am hardly above this. I have had my own fascination and struggles with weight and appearance and it bothers me. I wish I could put it all aside and think about "bigger" issues. I wish I could ignore the voice in my head that tells me my stomach is too big and my arms are too flabby. I wish I could stop trying to live up to the impossible standards that our society has created, but it is everywhere. It is so hard to avoid. All this chatter. He's too fat, she's too skinny,  her beach body blows, he should put down the fried chicken. You're fat, you're lazy, you're skinny you're disciplined. You're "too" skinny (which seems to amount to an arbitrary five pound difference in the tabloids) then you are sick.

I'm sick. I'm sick and tired of hearing about it, I'm sick and tired of thinking about it and I am "sick." Just days ago I was diagnosed with Osteoporosis in my hips. Let me remind you that I am not an 83 year old grandmother, I am a 38 year old mom to young boys. Too young for such an elderly disease. I'll never know for sure, but I am quiet confident that my early years of starving myself did nothing for my bone health. As a high school student and through my college years I starved to be thin. Under 90lbs and eating less than 500 calories a day thin. Now, so many years later I am still paying the price tag for "perfection." Skinny doesn't always equal healthy. There are a number of risk factors that may have lead to my diagnosis, my tiny bones, my genetics, but I contributed to my own health problems by listening and internalizing the chatter.

This chatter about weight does nothing to promote health in young women. This culture of skinny leads to self -hatred and destruction. I know that obesity has serious consequences and we need to educate people about the hazards, but what I would give to erase the the moral implications and the skewed perceptions of attractiveness. Your not a bad person if your overweight. Your not less than your slim counterpart. You are not ugly if you are above a size 4. When did beauty become a one-size-fits all? When did being skinny become so damn important?  It's a hurtful, damaging, self-centered culture we have created. Just think, if we put all the money spent on tummy tucks, liposuction, diet pills, fashion magazines, and the resulting therapy bills, into education, environmental issues and health care, the world might truly become a more beautiful place to be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Blogging in public

A few weeks ago after conducting a reference check on a candidate, I received an email from the man who provided the reference. He told me that after our call he "looked me up" and stumbled on my blog. He said it was "clever." This incident served as a reminder that I am far from anonymous when I blog. Although I am hardly a well followed writer, I never do know who will log on to getrealmama. In a way this is a thrill. My voice is heard! People are actually interested in what I have to say! But I also realize that this is limiting in terms of content. Most of my readers are family members (hi mom!), friends, acquaintances and coworkers. Sometimes I am unable to post what is really on my mind for that very reason. I have to think to myself, do I want my boss to read this? Does my friend want to be mentioned in my blog? Will that mom from preschool be offended if I document how I really feel about the"fall festival"? So I bite my tongue and write about safe topics, ones that won't get me into (too much) trouble.

Lately this has been difficult for me. I have had a lot on my mind that I am simply not able or not ready to blog about. I think that these topics would probably make the best posts, they are from the heart, they represent what I am really thinking about. Yet it all must remain unsaid in this public forum.I have found difficulty finding the inspiration to write about other things, thus I have been quiet.

So I'll wrap up today with a cute little story about my middle child, because who doesn't like to hear anecdotes about other people's kids? (Being facetious people.)

Yesterday while pushing the double stroller up a particularly grueling hill, Evan turned around and looked at me. I was huffing and puffing in 90 degree sunshine and struggling just to keep the buggy moving forward. Evan reached to put on his shoes and informed me "Mom, I'm going to put on my shoes and get out and walk. It must be so hard for you to push two boys up this big hill." I was surprised by his compassion, and answered with an enthusiastic "bless you." He climbed out of the stroller and came around to hug my legs telling me "I'm walking because I love you." 

Sweet little baby doll.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Dinner Dilemmas: Chicken Nugget Kabobs

It has been a while since I have written a Dinner Dilemma post. Frankly, I have all but given up. After months of feeding my kids buttered pasta with parmesan cheese and hotdogs, I started feeling guilty and was inspired to prepare more exciting, nutritious and attractive meals for the boys. My recipes have included homemade sloppy joes, ham and cheese pockets, breakfast banana splits and strawberry wraps, all of which have fallen flat. I just don't get it.

kabob deconstructed

A couple of nights ago I tried chicken nugget kabobs. There isn't much of a recipe, but below you will find the instructions, perhaps they will work better for you than they did for me. I have come to the conclusion that my children are simply warped. Evan in particular is a food-hater, a fruitatarian with a passion for milk,dessert and nothing else. Your kids are probably less particular, and this dinner is pretty and easy, thus out of the goodness of my heart I am posting it here.

What you need:

kabob spears
chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
cheese cut into small cubes
cherry tomatoes
pineapple chunks
bell pepper.
shake & bake (I told you this wasn't a real recipe ok? Don't look at me like that.)

Rinse chicken breast to moisten, mix to coat with shake and bake. Do a dance while shaking to entertain your kids, or at least amuse yourself and sing "shake,shake,shake, shake your chicken. Shake your chicken. (I said don't look at me like that.)

Bake chicken in a pan lined with foil at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Arrange nuggets, tomatoes, pinapple, peppers and cheese on spears.

Dinner is served!

The boys were initially amused with the colorful presentation and rated the dish highly. As they made their way through the spears they informed me that the LOVED the kabobs. Except for the chicken. Well of course. So essentially they like fruit and cheese. Duh.

You can't say I didn't try! I get points for that right?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Chuck E. Cheese, Where a kid can be a kid & a grown up can stab their eye out with a (plastic) fork.

My kids see a birthday mecca, the Holy Land of youthful celebrations.

I see a birthday party factory, a generic excuse for us parents too exhausted to host the real deal.

My kids see a kick-ass party table just for them!

I see an overbooked "restaurant" where kids are packed in like rats and sweaty parents keep falling over each other trying to snap a picture of the birthday boy giving a bored teenager in a musty rat costume a high-five.

My kids see delicious pizza served up on colorful Chuck. E. Cheese plates.

I see see a microwaved food product and a great deal of plastic utensil waste.

My kids see awesome games as an opportunity to earn tickets and win killer prizes.

I see the future: a temper-tantrum after they either a) realize that their 800 tickets will only buy them a pencil and a tootsie roll or b) their piece of crap plastic missile launcher breaks in two after the first use.

My kids see their friends having an awesome time.

I see flustered parents wishing they served something a little stronger than Bud Light.

My kids see goodie bags with fabulous gifts. I  forsee a heap of plastic junk on my living room floor, and later in a landfill.

My son sees a mom and dad who gave them just what he wanted for his birthday. He smiles and tells me how great the party was and I....

See a boy who I would do just about anything for, even if that means another party with the rat.

Friday, September 21, 2012

People I want to punch in the face/Hair/Giveaway

Today's post may actually be a complete waste of time. The people I am about to describe probably don't even exist, I mean how could they? Really, they must just be a small handful of over-zealous bloggers and ill-advised marketers who don't understand how the real world works. Nobody actually does this stuff right?

Bento-Box Mommies: Yesterday Zachary told me that he was tired of sandwiches in his lunch box. Let me rephrase that. Upon seeing me packing a PBJ in his bag he stomped his feet, rolled his eyes and barked "NOT ANOTHER SANDWICH! I HATE SANDWICHES!" and then proceeded to make gagging noises. So I did what any good mother would do in this day and age, I turned to the Internet to research "fun lunch box ideas." What I found, horrified me. Bento Boxes. Now the idea of a bento box doesn't bother me in the least. Cut up cheese, veggies, fruit, crackers, it's a good lunch. But no. No. These bento boxes are works of food art. Sandwiches cut in the shapes of bunnies or kitties with thin little celery slices for whiskers and tiny flowers cut from cheese. Delicate speared edamame and  movie scenes reenacted with food. Who the eff does this? Wouldn't your Little Bo Peep bento box get all messed up as it sloshed around your child's backpack? Wouldn't you be dissapointed when you found that you went to all that trouble and your child only ate the raisin noes off of your Peter Rabbit sandwich? Good God it's food, not an art project. It's lunch for a 7 year old, who will barely appreciate it, and your setting him up for a major let down when in eleven years he realizes they don't serve "taco boats" in the dorm cafeteria.Get a life!

People who wear Mommy & Me outfits: I admit, I don't have a daughter, and perhaps if I did I would be overwhelmed by the idea of having a mini me doll to dress up, but I highly doubt it. I believe there should be a distinction between grown-up clothes and little girl clothes. I personally have no desire to dress like a seven year old girl, and I certainly would not want my daughter dressing in skinny jeans and high heels. Beyond that, there is just a whole nerdiness factor that goes along with matchy-matchy, it just sort of screams: YOU ARE TRYING TOO HARD! Now it is fairly unusual that I have actually witnessed such a fashion atrocity, however page through a Hanna Andersson magazine, and someone must be buying this crap right? Hard to believe.

As previously mentioned, it is hard to believe that these sort of people exisit in the real world, but if I ran into a bento box mom I have to say it would be hard to fight the punching urge.

In other news... HAIR UPDATE!!!! It's still growing and looks stupid. See picture. That is all.

DON'T FORGET MY GIVEAWAY!!! I am still giving away $15 to, just click the link below. Tell your friends!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Gift For You!

This has been a long summer of sitting on my tush. With my busted ankle, I have had a lot of time to hang out on Facebook, something my “friends” are brutally aware of.  I have posted no fewer than several hundred “adorable” pictures of my kids and nearly daily updates on the status of my hair transformation project.  Yes.  I am a Facebook junkie.
And guess what? Now I have another reason to spend time on my favorite social networking site. I can send presents to my friends… for FREE. It’s a very cool idea, brought to us by the geniuses at the social gifting service Embly. Because I am so well connected, (play along with me now) I was privileged to be one of the first to try Embly out and I have to say it is pretty slick.
How does it work? Embly finds the important events in your friends’ lives and works with retailers to create free gifts that you can use to celebrate them, Your friend gets a thoughtful gift, the retailer gets a visitor from a valued or new customer, and you get the thanks!
Essentially, I can hop on Embly and send a free gift, buy a gift card, or just send a message to any of my friends via Facebook or email. All it takes is a few clicks of the mouse and I look like I really care. (Because, duh, of course I do.) 
So far I have been really impressed with the retailer selection including Bloom, Diamond Candles, Shutterfly, and ShoeDazzle.  I was gifted a $15 card to Bloom, the leading social beauty network where you can get tips from pros and shop their recommended products, and I bought a lip gloss I adore.  I have given the Bloom gift card to several of my friends for no reason at all, and now my lucky readers, I am giving you a gift card as well! (Okay, those geniuses over at Embly are making this possible.) All you have to do is click my link to get a free $15 at Bloom, and then you too can start in the gifting/shopping fun!  Bonus points for you if you leave a comment and tell me what you picked out.

Happy Shopping!!