Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My hometown

I was born in Madison Wisconsin. My very first home was in graduate student housing. My father was pursuing his PhD at the school. My parents were transplants from New York, they had relocated for the UW education. Our first house was on Bordner Drive. If I am to be kind, it was a modest home. It was red. The room we called our dining room had wallpaper printed with gigantic yellow flowers. My sister and I shared the upstairs as our bedroom. Our furniture was utilitarian and sparse. Money was tight. We had a park with tennis courts behind our backyard. In the summers all of the neighborhood kids would gather and play in the greenways until dusk. Ghost In the Graveyard, Kick The Can, and a whole host of other made-up games. I attended Crestwood Elementary School, and was a proud "Crestwood Cricket." I could walk to school each day, swinging my Scooby Doo lunch box in one hand, while the other held the hand of my best friend Renee. We would walk together each day, singing cheery songs about flowers and rainbows. Admittedly, it was corny.

My parents divorced before I entered the fifth grade. By the time eighth grade rolled around, they had both remarried and I moved with my mother and new Stepfather, David to a new house not far from campus. In my new home I had my very own room. We had cable television for the first time which meant...MTV. I attended Madison West High School. Again, I was able to walk to school rain or shine, and Monroe street provided Orange Tree Imports, and The Oven's of Brittany for my shopping and eating pleasure. I smoked my first (and practically last) cigarette down by the train tracks only blocks from my house. It didn't last long, since upon lighting my smoke, I ignited my well-hair sprayed bangs and singed off much of my eyebrows. I had my first drink at my friend Allison's house. We drank vodka and orange juice until the room started spinning and we fell asleep giggling. My friend Angie lived down the block and we would head there after school to watch recorded episodes of Days Of Our Lives while eating loads of raw cookie dough.

Throughout the high school years we would spend time hanging out on State Street, looking for tapes, and browsing the poster shops for a mix of Ansel Adams, Monet and Led Zepplin posters. It didn't need to make sense. In the winter months when it was too cold to be outside we would head to West Town mall to buy cheap earrings and try on clothes our parents would not approve of. I never attended any of the high school parties, I wasn't cool enough, so on the weekends I went to the movies, and would often end up late night at Perkins, drinking coffee and eating "mammoth muffins" with my girlfriends.

I didn't go far after graduation. I attended the UW and lived in the dorms on campus. It was there of course that I met my future husband, David. During college I got to know another side of Madison. I bar hopped along State Street, hitting my favorites; State Street Brats, The Flamingo, Monday's, The Angelic, and the KK. I studied at the union, drank coffee at Espresso Royal, met girlfriends at Yogurt Express and had dinner with David at Paisan's Ginos and Kostas. I ran along the lake shore path, and hiked up Bascom Hill regularly, keeping me in mini-skirt wearing shape.

I left Madison for good in the fall of 1997. I moved to Minneapolis to live with David. I didn't know at the time that I would never call Madison "home" again. We spent four years in the twin cities before heading west to Denver. And now, here we are in Oakland. I have not returned to Madison for six years. Six years. I know that the Madison I knew is no longer there. The Rocky Rococco's where I held my first job is gone. Josie's where I was a waitress through college burned down. The Flamingo has long been something else and the dorm where I spent my sophmore year has been destroyed, as was the Paisan's restaurant where David and I celebrated our very first Valentine's Day.

And yet, I am anxious to return, to see how Madison has evolved. To gaze once again on Lake Mendota and show the boys my childhood zoo. I'm looking forward to feeling the moist, humid air on my skin and hopefully witnessing the thrill of a summertime thunderstorm.

Madison has changed, no doubt, as have I. I'm no longer a child and things will surly look different. But this is the city where I was a little girl, where I made my first friends, experienced my first heartbreaks, fell in love and grew up. Madison may no longer be my home, but it is my hometown and it will always have a place in my heart.

Madison, I can't wait to see you once again.

Bring it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Wasted Life?

Do you agree?
My house could not be any filthier. In the past few weeks I feel as though it is gone over the tipping point into the land of totally out of control. I can't get a handle on it. Evan is in the habit of disrobing in multiple parts of the house, leaving a pair of underwear here, a sock there, a dirty t-shirt under the sofa. He also needs to remove every item of neatly folded clothing from his drawer in order to find just what he would like to wear.

The toy situation is also a disaster. I don't know why children seem to have such an inability to keep track of their play things. Pieces are scattered everywhere and nothing has all of it's original parts. A spiderman motorcycle might be found near the refridgerator, while Spidy himself has been hidden in the sofa cushions.

Food crumbs can be found in any room of the house. It appears that the boys enjoy eating crumbly crackers best in the living room, and mushy bananas in their bedroom.  Somehow my children are also are unable to eat a bowl of cereal without scattering bits all over the kitchen.

And the bathrooms? Oh don't get me started. Two little boys with no sense of direction. It feels as though I'm wiping piss off the floor two times a day and barely scratching the surface.

Finally the filthy animals that I willingly adopted so many years ago aren't helping the cleanliness factor one bit. A thin layer of black dog fur needs to be swept constantly. Dirty paw marks adorn the kitchen floor, Flander's puke stains are on our carpets and cat litter  is sprinkled throughout our home.

I can't bare it anymore. Yes I have help, as much as I can afford. One time every other week I have two lovely hard working women come to clean up after us. Other than that it is mostly me, (although yes, honey you are excellent at the dishes! Kisses!)  as I am the only one who truly cares about the state of our residence.

So what is a girl to do? I have become embarrassed about having anyone over, and I long for a clean home I can be proud of. Is it just one of those things a mother of three boys must come to terms with? Should I just expect that the house will be a pig-stye and move on? How can I let go?

Advice please.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

People I want to punch in the face

I'm on the war path today. This time I have my sites set on bay area medial professionals. Basically all of you. (*slight* exaggeration.)

I started writing a post on my disappointment in the health care I have received since I moved to California, but then began to realize how boring the whole thing was. So I am going to make it simple. For the most part the doctors I have seen here have sucked. Really SUCKED. My most recent ankle injury has left me fuming at the "care" I received. Let's put it this way-I was injured back in January and here we are in June, only now discovering that I have a fracture, torn ligaments and bruised bone. Awesome. And the podiatrist my less than attentive primary care physician referred me to? Look him up on Yelp and you will see that his patients are basically screaming to STAY THE HELL AWAY.  Perfect. Just Perfect. So to you, bay area doctors who I have had the displeasure of meeting, a cyber punch in the face. Thank you.

Who's up next?

The elliptical machine. Okay, so an elliptical machine isn't living and doesn't have a face, but I would still like to smash it to little bits and pieces. Dumb gerbil wheel, how I despise thee. Now that I am unable to run due to my bum ankle, I have to select a low-impact aerobic exercise to keep myself from becoming a total lethargic reality-tv junkie. So basically it's swimming (which I don't do.), biking (which I don't do.) or the elliptical. I don't swim because, really I don't know how. The whole thing is embarrassing and uncomfortable for me. I hate floundering about in the YMCA lap pool with impatient swimmers behind me, wondering if I have ever really graduated from the dog paddle. (No. I haven't.) And biking? I have been afraid of a bike since I was 10 years old. Speeding on two rickety wheels. Nothing between you and the pavement but your skinny little bones. I know. Irrational. Whatever. I'm crazy. Sue me. That leaves me with...the elliptical machine. The f*cking elliptical machine. It's hard and it's boring, even when I'm plugged into Bravo TV watching a rerun of Tabitha's Salon Takeover. It is BORING. I watch the clock tick off every second. Tick Tock. I smell the stink of the person on the adjacent machine. I want to go home. I want the nightmare that is "exercise" to be over. So I dutifully put in my 30 minutes and leave the gym feeling totally unfulfilled. Screw you elliptical. There has to be something better.

What else? What else? There must be something, but I'm all tired out from being angry and I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Weekend Recap: Farewell, Chuck E. Cheese & Daddy's Day!

It was a weekend of celebrations, and now that they are over everything seems so....quiet. We kicked off the weekend with a gathering of some of Zack's friends to say goodbye to his best buddy Ethan. It had been a hard week leading up to the big farewell, as Zack had grown very attached to his rambunctious partner-in-crime. There were tears on and off throughout the week as Zachary grieved the impending move. He asked me repeatedly if we would go and visit Ethan in Seattle, and if he would ever see his friend again. Unfortunately the answer is more than likely no and that was hard to take. Luckily we had a jammed packed weekend, and a fun summer planned and the sorrow already seems to be fading. Such is life for a six year old, easily distracted!

Saturday was the MAIN EVENT. Evan's birthday. The setting? Think chaos. Think children screaming, wailing and giggling. Think too many people in too small a space. Think ugly mechanical rats "singing" censored top 40 music. Think microwaved pizza. Think.... CHUCK E. CHEESE. Me? I found it stressful, impersonal and exhausting. My kids? They were in heaven. They all had a blast, and I of course can't argue with that. There was no party preparation, no clean up and it was relatively affordable as far as parties go, so I refuse to complain, even though it is sort of an adult version of hell.
Spongebob Cake

Birthday boy loved his crown!

Julian knows how to party

Sunday was Father's Day. I tried to convince my dear husband that to honor him on his special day, I should leave him to have quality time with the boys and check myself into a spa, but since that was a no-go we decided on a day at the beach and it was awesome! We packed a picnic lunch and headed to Cull Canyon. I cannot believe that I have lived in the bay area for almost three years and have never been there before. It is a beautiful, warm spot with clean shallow water. We ended up bumping into some friends there and spent the afternoon eating, swimming and soaking up summer.

Dad & his boys

So there you have it, a beautiful fun filled weekend. I'm looking forward to many more this summer!

Monday, June 18, 2012


Recently as I was perusing through some of my Facebook friends photographs, I began to marvel at the fabulous lives my cyber buddies have. Vacations to Maui. Crazy costume parties, date nights, outings with well-groomed children, new cars, furniture, and beautiful dinner parties. And let us not forget all the lovey-dovey, status updates. "Darling, I love you,  my sweet princess." "Thank you to my beautiful wife who has made me the luckiest man in the world. I love you baby!" As I thought about it, I realized that either my friends had lives that were far more glamorous, romantic and exciting than mine, or that Facebook is simply....misleading. I updated my status to reflect this feeling, and one of my girlfriends responded with a one word comment-"Fakebook." Applaud if you must, but I disagree, at least partially.

There is not necessarily anything fake about our Facebook photographs and status updates. In  fact if you page through mine, you would probably have the same impression of me. I have a freaking awesome life, and I'm always surrounded by fantastic friends having an amazing time. Duh. Seriously, of course we are going to post pictures of our smiling family doing the fun stuff, that is what people do. If you look at my pictures you will see us frolicking on the beach (nobody had to know that it is Florida and not Maui, and that I am staying with my in laws instead of in a five-star all inclusive resort.) You will see me flashing a sassy smile in a hot dress in my kitchen,  and nobody has to know that I never left my house, and that in fact, I rarely leave my kitchen on a Friday night. You will see my children being silly and having a ball on the playground, and you would totally miss that they were just fighting World War III over the last granola bar. My photos only reflect the happy times as anyone's family pictures do. Human nature. Social Media has just made it possible for us to post our lives out in public.

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a Facebook freak. I'm on the site all the time, uploading my photos and giving random, often boring status updates. Criticize me if you must, I've heard it all before. False relationships, impersonal messages, over-sharing, I know. I know. The truth is, I am often a little lonely, craving adult interaction, but unable to fully commit. I can't make it across town during rush hour to a play date because Julian is napping, and I have to get Zack to soccer practice by 5:30, but I can comment on the cute photograph you posted, and I can inform everyone of my offspring's latest accomplishments. It's something. And yes, I realize it is a one-sided view. I'm not going to post photographs of the boring stuff, me in my yoga pants and dirty t-shirt cleaning up the kitchen for the 15th time in one day, my kids beating on each-other, or my filthy living room, but it doesn't mean the good times aren't real, it just isn't the whole story. And sure, at times I am a little jealous of my friends whose spouses lavish them with romantic comments, but just because my husband doesn't isn't an indication that I am not loved. He just doesn't like Facebook. (WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM???)

So Fakebook? No, I don't think so. I just need to remember to take it with a grain of salt. Nobody's life is as fabulous as their Facebook life. Nobody's.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Top Four For My Four Year Old

The Birthday Boy-Spring 2012

Top Four Evan Moments Of The Year

Baby Evan!
1. Watching Evan hold his baby brother for the first time. Evan has loved Julian from the moment he was born. He is such an awesome, awesome big brother. I am so proud of my sweet little boy!
2. Cuddling on the sofa with Evan on a cold December night. His older brother was at a birthday party and Evan and I were alone watching Christmas movies in front of our beautiful tree. It was such a special moment, it is rare that I get time alone with my middle child!
3. Receiving Evan's Christmas gift. Evan made a votive at preschool and packaged it in homemade wrapping paper. When I went to pick him up from school, Evan was so excited to give me his gift he could not wait for Christmas. He handed me the pretty package and said "This is for the whole family, because I love the whole family!" I melted.
4. Seeing his sleepy face brighten this morning when I greeted him with a cheeful "Happy Birthday" He smiled and said "This is going to be the best day ever!" I sure hope so little buddy.

Top Four Words To Describe Evan:
First Birthday

1. Sweet. Sweet. Sweet! Evan gives hugs and kisses so freely and is always ready for a cuddle. He is always telling me, his dad and brothers that he loves us. He is so affectionate. I love it.
2. Stubborn. Stubborn. Stubborn! Oh God help you if you should ask Evan to eat his dinner when he doesn't like it, or wear a jacket when doesn't believe it to be cold. You might as well be fighting with a brick wall. The kid won't budge.
3. Silly: The kid likes to wear his shoes on the wrong feet, tells senseless knock-knock jokes and carries around a pillow he calls Da-Dough. Need I say more?
@ 18 months
4. Exhibitionist: There is nothing this four year old likes more than being buck naked. Frequently the pants come off as soon as he enters the front door. At least he has a cute tush.

Top Four Things That I Wish For Evan In The Coming Year: 

1. I hope he keeps his sweet personality and continues to love easily.
2. I hope he develops a better sense of fashion. I am often painfully embarrassed by my child's preferred homeless look.

 3. I hope he learns that following directions isn't always the worst thing in the whole-wide-world.
4. I hope he continues to be my silly, lovable, cuddly little trouble maker.

Summer 2011
Summer 2011
Summer 2009
Halloween 2011
Making Father's Day gifts 2010

Purim 2010


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Critically Important Post (About my hair and other topics)

Me & Julian at the dolphin show. Nice hat right?
 Okay, so I could be writing about important things, politics, war, starving children, education and a whole host of other topics, but honestly right now I am more interested in talking What else is new? So today a post about My Hair, My Ankle &; My Boys.

Hair: This is serious business folks. I'm obsessed. In misery. Tortured. My hair does seem to be a recurring theme on this blog. Perhaps I need to give it it's own label and start a series. But seriously, how  can one ignore their own hair when it is slowly and painfully growing out of a cute funky style? Right now my side burns are long and half way down my face, the back of my hair is starting to resemble a mullet and my bangs are heavy and uneven. I look like a hot mess. I don't know if I can go through with the operation-grow-out-my-hair. I am now just at the beginning, there is a heck of a lot more pain and ugliness to live through before I'm even half way there. I have been experimenting with different ways of styling, although at this length the options are few. I have the pushed forward messy look, and the sleeked down-slightly greasy style. Someone provide a flattering comment on Facebook comparing my "sleek" style to Twiggy, thus I have been going with that option, when not wearing a hat. What do you think? I know, IMPORTANT, mind boggling stuff here folks.
Twiggy Style

The "messy look"

Ankle: One word about my ankle it SUCKS. My ankle is no better than it was three weeks ago when I re-sprained it. I have been to the podiatrist three times, and as a result I am walking around with a janky medicated ace bandage and haven't washed my right foot for over two weeks. Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon. Did I really just say that? Apparently, yes I did. But it is fairly disgusting. Of course this means my running shoes and my snazzy once inspiring T-Shirt with "Run" on the front of it have been left untouched, taunting me in my closet. It is all quite depressing and I am realizing that it is highly unlikely I will be out jogging again this summer. My plans for a fit body and a half marathon out the window. I believe I will be getting a membership at the YMCA, even though I have been told that it smells like feet, so I can ride the dreaded stationary bike, just to add some sort of low impact activity to my day. I have been sitting on my butt for three weeks now, and it is becoming fairly evident.

Zack & his friend after getting soaked on a water ride
My Boys: We had a fabulous weekend with the boys. Oakland treated us to two uncommon days of actual summer. We had temps near 80 and sunny skies. Saturday we took the boys to Six Flags and had an absolute blast. We hit the water rides, the dolphin show and slurped slushies. Pure summer bliss. Today I took Zack and Evan to Madagascar Three, and then to a friends house for some backyard sprinkler fun and pizza. Tonight I am exhausted but looking forward to a summer with my funny little boys. All FOUR of them!

David & Evan on the swings

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kargas Inc: Celebrates Employee Appreciation Months!

Dear Staff,

A message from your CEO
To celebrate our continued success at Kargas Inc, we have designated June & July as Employee Appreciation Months! What do we have in store for you? We kicked off the month with Julian's 1 year anniversary party! There was food, drinks, and a bounce house to mark the occasion. We again wish to congratulate Julian on all of his accomplishments over the past year and anticipate more good work from him in the years to come.

Next week we will celebrate our Junior Associate, Evan's 4 year anniversary with Kargas Inc! This event will be offsite at the fabulous Chuck E. Cheese's. Our social committee chair (also the CEO), has even ordered a Spongebob cake. We would like to make a polite reminder that we expect professional, appropriate behavior, even at offsite functions. Please remember to drink responsibly, there will be a two juice box max.

Finally in July we will be taking an incentive trip to an all inclusive resort in exotic Madison Wisconsin.! We have luxury accommodations at Chez Shaw, with its fabulous kiddy pool, swim up/walk across the lawn bar and five star restaurant, Nana's. (We hear they make a killer fluffernuter sandwich.) This trip will include plenty of team building activities and time to network with our Wisconsin counterparts. *****Due to budget constraints and travel logistics, support staff (Bascom, Flanders & Wynkoop) will need to remain onsite. We apologize, and special accommodations will be made for them.

We are very excited to spend these next two months celebrating YOU, our valued employees, because we know how hard you work everyday (soccer, naps, play dates, cleaning up your toys, art projects, whining about dinner, brushing your own teeth, it's all very exhausting.)

Don't forget, that of course this August we will be honoring your very own CEO in a month long celebration of her birthday.


They Googled WHAT?

When I first discovered Google Analytics I was obsessed. I checked every day to see how many visitors I had, where they were from, what key words people used to find me and how long they spent on my blog. Over time, it has grown old. I have remained pretty steady with about 30-35 visitors per day and for the time being I have given up on trying to improve those numbers. It has been a while since I have checked my analytics, and when I visited the site yesterday I was surprised by what I found.

I have visitors from all over the freaking world. Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Croatia, Sierra Leone, Finland, Pakistan.... the list goes on and on. How cool is that? I only wish people would leave more comments! Come on readers in Brazil, show me some LOVE!!!

The other shocking, and somewhat disturbing find? People have used some pretty messed up keywords to stumble upon my little blog. It is a little unsettling to see how many people have found getrealmama by searching for "How to torture a woman" or "pregnant women torture." Yikes.  Of course there are many of the standard searches you would expect to find, "mac & cheese recipe," "Jessica Seinfeld no butter", and "baby boy." But for your amusement here are a few of the top crazy keyword searches that might lead you to me....

"nice and beautiful ass"
"nude short hair"
"smile nude patio"
"so there's this kid I want to punch in the face"
"wearing diapers at the hospital"
"in our room in Vegas"
"punch in throat" 

It appears that I have a mix of nice homemakers and violent pornographers stumbling on my blog. Diversity. It's a good thing. Right?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Party Time....

First birthday parties have been a big deal at our house. Zack's one year celebration came with a keg and catering, and Evan's with a children's musician and a personalized CD. Julian's birthday would not be an exception, we planned a big party and I do believe it was a success.

Of course the guest list was a little different. We celebrated Zack & Evan's first birthdays in Denver with family and old friends. Yesterday was a mix of new friends, and my father and stepmom who were able to fly in for the occasion. My sister and her family, my mom and stepdad and all of our close Denver friends were missed. That said, I was touched by all of the wonderful friends who came and raised a toast to my sweet Ju Ju Bean.

My husband's friend and co-worker, Drew was kind enough to use his expert barbequing skills to make amazing pulled pork sandwiches, we had a bounce house, cocktails, and a half sheet cake that was completely devoured. The kids jumped like mad, and some of the "big kids" actually ended the evening with a few rounds of "quarters." Today was greeted with a mess and a hangover.

And thus, my final first birthday party is done. Today I felt a mix of nostalgia, pride and sadness. How does the time fly so quickly? My baby is one. My eldest son is completing kindergarten. We have been in Oakland for nearly three years. The years keep passing, the pace maddening. All day long I have been humming a Judy Collins song "Who Knows Where The Time Goes." The lyrics are below.

It was a lovely day, a crazy year, and I know the best is still yet to come.....

Proud big brother Zack

Julian & Grandpa Arthur

It wasn't all happy times...
My awesome friend Mindy!

Julian takes to the cake. Genetics.

Across the morning sky,
All the bird are leaving,
Ah, how can they know it's time for them to go?
Before the winter fire,
We'll still be dreaming.
I do not count the time

Who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

Sad deserted shore,
Your fickle friends are leaving,
Ah, but then you know it's time for them to go,
But I will still be here,
I have no thought of leaving.
I do not count the time

Who knows where the time goes?
Who knows where the time goes?

And I'm not alone,
While my love is near me,
And I know,it will be so,till it's time to go,
So come the storms of winter ,
and then the birds in spring again.
I do not fear the time

Who knows how my love grows?
Who knows where the time goes?