Welcome to One Busy Momma! The Blog for Busy Moms by one Busy Mom.....

Welcome to my blog. One Busy Momma is my space to rant about my life and the things that happen in it. I have a crazy life - and instead of focusing on the crazy - I like to focus on the funny. Because if I focused on the craziness - well, I'd have been shipped off to an institution long, long ago. And while, I'll admit, there are some days when being institutionalized sounds PRETTY GOOD compared to making ANOTHER diorama at 1am - I'd rather be right where I am - in my messy house with my not so perfect kids making crooked dioramas in the middle of the night.

Monday, December 20, 2010

For the Times They are a Changing.....

"Come gather round people wherever you roam

And admit that the waters around you have grown

And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone

If your time to you is worth saving

Then you'd better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone

For the times, they are a changing" Bob Dylan

It's one of my favorite songs. Dylan really had it right with this one - he had alot right - but this one especially. I often tell Bella, my child who fears and shuns change as many of us shun and fear ugly footwear- that the only constant in life is change. (I'm great with a cliche in a crisis.) And when I think about change, and how life as we know it has changed in the past decade- I'm struck with one overwhelming thought - Facebook.

That's right - Facebook. When you think about that - it's pretty messed up. Or at least I think it's messed up that in the decade that my life and identity and sense of who I am changed the most - by becoming a parent to two children (and one cooking away)- I see the introduction of Facebook as one of the biggest changes in my life. And more importantly - in our society as a whole. Facebook has been a game changer for many, many people. It has connected and reconnected people all over the world. If nothing else, it has certainly made the world smaller and more accessible. I just read that if Facebook were a country - it would be the third largest country in the world.  If Facebook keeps growing at it's current rate - it will reach its goal of 1 billion users by August of 2012. One out of every dozen GLOBAL citizens has a Facebook account. That is just an extraordinary statistic to me. I can't wrap my head around it.

I am facinated by the kinds of things people post on FB. Last week, aomeone that I know posted that his brother had just died suddenly. As in "I just found a couple of moments ago out that my brother died suddenly...."  I'm not saying that with any hint of criticism at all. It's just facinating to me that some people share everything via FB. I will admit the question of how much is too much ? does cross my mind when I read posts like that one.

AND before I go throwing stones...I will admit that I am a HUGE FB user and I too post personal information. I posted news of my pregnancy and the gender of my little cooking baby on FB. I like to think that posting that news was a way of sharing our joy with friends and family near and far. But as I think about it - do all 176 of my "friends" really need to know that? Do they even care? We all know the answer to that one.  I like to think that my posts are funny and friendly and witty...and I guess some of them are. (They are VERY witty to me of course. ) I posted that I was going to New York today for a meeting and a luncheon. In retrospect - I don't think many people really gave a rat's pa-tootie where I was or what I was doing today.

PC has gone off of the Facebook grid. He can't stand the potential invasion of privacy. My parents are APPALLED by Facebook. And as much as I like to poke fun at them about their lack of technological savvy - they do have a point. My mother gets all "up in my grill" when I post some tidbit of information and one of my aunts tells her that one of my cousins saw on Facebook that I was ...fill in the blank.  One thing about Facebook is that once it's out there - it's out there. ANd you can't ever take it back.

I know people who were inadventently "outed" on Facebook. And by "outed" I mean CAUGHT doing or saying something that they either shouldn't have been doing - or told someone else they were NOT doing. I've seen every scenario from one girlfriend being ditched for a lunch date by another girlfriend who called and said she had a cold and cancelled the date - only to post later in the day that she had a great time outlet shopping with so and so. Now while that's hurtful - it's not earth shattering. Earth shattering is finding pictures of your husband or wife in a compromising position with someone else's husband or wife. I've seen that. I've seen people "tagged" in photos that they were not aware anyone was taking - let alone POSTING on a social networking site. I've been tagged in photos that were less than flattering and had them posted all over FB. That really upset and irritated me. It's one thing for me to post pictures of myself and my family. It's another thing all together when someone else posts pictures of you. I think that is a COMPLETE invasion of my right to privacy.

And that leads to a BIG question about privacy. What is privacy in a digital age? Do we really have any privacy any more? Do we value our privacy any more? About a year ago, when I was working as a doula, I got a call from a reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He was writing an article about our facination with social networking and Twittering. He wanted to know if any of my clients were planning on Twittering through labor and delivery. Now, after I stopped laughing at this guy - he explained that PLENTY of people Twittered during L&D. My initial reaction was "Are you freaking kidding me?". But now I believe him. I just read that a woman named Angie Jackson did a live Twitter feed as she was having an abortion. Seriously. What does all of this social sharing tell our children about privacy and their right to it? What impact will all of this uber-over sharing have on our kids? 

I can't answer that question. And I'm sure that many people who read this blog will find this post hypocritical. A woman who writes a blog about her life and her family and pokes fun at alot of it  is waxing poetic about privacy? And maybe it is - I don't know. I guess it's all in how you look at it. One thing is for sure - our kids are entering a world where the whole concept of personal privacy and our right to it is rapidly changing. If you don't believe me - go get a full body pat down at the airport. It's quite an eye opener.

"Come mothers and fathers all over this land

And don't criticize what you can't understand

Your sons and your daughter are beyond your command

Your old role is rapidly aging

Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand

For the times they are a changing"

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year......

Ok - it is December 14th. 11 days left until Christmas. Holy Shit. I am freaking out. I am almost done with the Santa shopping - almost. But that's ALL I have done. I don't have one, single, solitary thing for anyone else. Oh my God. How did this happen? How did I get so terribly behind??? Does anyone else ever get to this point? The point where you begin waking at 4am - cycling through all of the things you have left to do and trying to figure out how you are going to get it all done???

This morning - in my sleep-deprived delirium at 4:22am, I began thinking about gifts that I could give without having to actually going anywhere to buy them. Or wrap them. Gifts that I can order online that come with certificates that you can hand out. Gifts that make the recipient feel good about themselves. I mean, really - how many Bath and Body Works sets DO the teachers need? How many sweaters can one guy actually wear? How much crap can one home hold? By 4:40 am - this idea was sounding better and better to me. I'm thinking that I could buy my brother and sister-in-law a share of a goat or a chicken or cow or something for a poor family in Ish-ka-bibble. Somebody sells those things - right? Sally Struthers perhaps? Then I could buy a loom time share for a woman who wants to start her own weaving business in far off West Kaput for my parents. I think there is a company that sells all sorts of stars and heavenly bodies that you can name after people - who wouldn't like to get a black hole or something named after them? I can buy all of these things on-line and just give the lucky recipients certificates that say "Hey - instead of buying you some sort of crap - a chicken was donated in your name. Wa-Hoo!" Who wouldn't love that?

See - this is what happens when you wait until the last minute to shop. You start to panic and freak out and convince yourself that these ridiculous gift scenarios might indeed work. I have seen this happen to other people - like my dad and my husband. One year, I do believe that my dad actually forgot to buy anything for my mom's stocking and he wound up putting office supplies in there. No kidding - she got a bag of rubber bands, some 3-prong outlet converters, paper clips...stuff that I think he probably found in her desk drawer. How does that happen? What is the actual thought process there? Are you just so deluded and freaked out at 2am on Christmas Eve that you are truly able to convince yourself that your wife will be excited to get rubber bands in her stocking?  Then there was the infamous year that I had a "Safeway" Christmas. What is a "Safeway Christmas" you ask? It is the magical holiday where ALL of your gifts were purchased at 2:30pm on Christmas Eve - at Safeway. No joke - PC really dropped the ball that year. And to make matters WORSE - he acted like he didn't understand why on earth I was SO upset. Because, really, who wouldn't be thrilled to get a gift certificate to the grocery store from Santa? Poor guy - he's never going to hear the end of that one. Then -to add insult to injury - Bella always reminds him that she DID tell him - as he was buying my Safeway gifts  that "Daddies should really NOT shop for Mommies in the grocery Store. Mommy is NOT going to be happy about this situation. At ALL."

So, upon further reflection, it seems that a majority of my weekend will be spent shopping. And not shopping for goats or loom timeshares....I will be at Ann Taylor and Macy's and all over the mall to finish up. I've thought twice about my gift giving strategy since this morning. I really don't think that my brother would appreciate getting a certificate telling him that a goat - or a portion of a goat - had been donated in his name. My luck - I'd only be able to afford a foot or a hind quarter anyway.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanks and Giving

Well peeps - it's that time of the year agin. Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. All of the joy of Christmas in terms of familial togetherness and none of the stress of shopping and wrapping and rushing around. And of course the best part of the day- the food. The turkey, the stuffing and all of the trimmings. YUM-O! This is the first year in 10 years that I have not cooked the bird - and I'm LOVING it! I don't know what to do with myself this morning. So, I thought I'd sit down and update this neglected blog. So, today I am going to take a page from Oprah's playbook and list all of the things that I am grateful for - with my Bust Momma spin - of course. So here it is: Busy Momma's List of Thanks and Giving 2010.

1. I, of course, am thankful for my family. I am truly blessed to have an amazing husband and 2 really great kids. Now I know that I am a true joy to live with on MOST days - but I will admit...there have been days this past year that perhaps I've fallen a bit short of my goal of being "practically perfect in every way". Maybe one or two...and yet PC still comes home night after night with a smile on his face and a spring in his step. For that - I am truly grateful. Jack and Bella are the most amazing kids on the face of the earth - now I realize that I am prejudiced, but they truly are awesome. Bella told me the other day that she is happy that our family is "more than a regular family", and I was a bit puzzled about what she meant. She said that she's glad that we're not just a group of people who live in the same house - that we're a group of people who like being together who live in the same house. It amazes me that such little pearls of wisdom can come from a person who truly believes that Justin Beiber is THE BEST MUSICIAN on the planet - EVER.

2. I am very grateful for the baby on the way. Now, for those of you who know me well, you might be surprised about that. PC and I were QUITE surprised to find out that we were expecting another bundle of joy this coming spring. And I will be the first to admit - it took a while to wrap our heads around the fact that we would STILL be doing 4th grade long division homework when Bella is in college and Jack is in high school. We thought we were LONG done with diapers and bottles and 3am feedings - and we were cool with that. More than cool - we were happy! But a funny thing has happened in the past 4 months - we have started to remember all of the really terrific things about having a baby in the house and we are getting really excited about having the opportunities to witness all of those "firsts" again. Like how excited the baby gets when you turn on the Christmas tree lights for the first time. Or how excited we got the first time Bella giggled or Jack laughed his big, hearty belly laugh. It's such an unexpected blessing to have the chance to re-live that. We were so "in the moment" last time with a toddler and a baby that I don't think we appreciated all of those little moments. I know that this is THE LAST baby we will be having - another one would be a miracle of modern medicine and technology! So I know that we are going to savor every "first" - every giggle, every toothless grin, every coo and most of all - that sweet baby smell. (I mean the good smell.....)

3. I am grateful for my parents. First of all - that they are still with me. When PC lost his dad - it rocked our world. But it made us appreciate the time we have with our loved ones. I am so fortunate to have 2 parents who are totally supportive of everything I do - even some of my crazier ventures. I am also fortunate to have 2 parents who believe in "hands-on" grandparenting - sometimes it's more like "co-parenting". Some people wouldn't like that and it might not work for some families - but for us - it's been the BEST thing that has ever happened. I always joke that it takes a village to raise our children - and I am so thankful that my mom and dad are the village elders. (They'll love that...) I must add in here that I am ESPECIALLY grateful for my Mom's help when the kids are sick. She is SUCH a big help - taking them to the pediatrician for me, making them homemade chicken soup - specified to their liking - no rice, extra rice, no onions, more salt.... sometimes I think they fake getting sick just to spend a day with Nanny - where they are clucked over and treated like a crown prince and princess on their deathbed!

4. I am also very grateful for my dad's help with childcare. My dad does ALL of my childcare while I am busy saving the world one school at a time. This means that Poppy is the one doing the long-division homework, the 1st grade word journal work, the spelling homework and fielding all of the "howdoyaspell...?" questions. Poppy knows more about the fourth grade drama some days than I do. Poppy is the one doing pick-up in the rain, walking to the bus stop and running to school when someone is sick. There are many nights when I get home that it takes the kids an hour or so to start calling me "Mommy" and STOP calling me "Poppy". I should also mention that Poppy does other duties in his spare time - like emptying the dishwasher, bringing in the trash cans, feeding the cat and most importantly reminding us when we are running DANGEROUSLY low on dog food, cat food, paper towels and tp. There are days that I truly wonder how this place would run AT all without our Pops.

5. Of course - no discussion of giving and thanks would be complete without a shout-out to my girls - Sookie, Fifi, Hermione and the gang. Whether I need someone to watch the kids, someone to rant and rave at, cooking advice, kid advice, husband advice, - no matter what - they are always there. They all know how much I love and adore them - but it can't hurt to tell them again!

Now of course I am grateful for MANY other blessings - and AMAZING brother and sister-in-law, a truly fantastic extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles who I love dearly and desperately, our good health and good fortune. On this Thnaksgiving Day, Busy Momma wishes you and yours lots of love, laughter and happiness. I am truly grateful for all of YOU who take time out of your busy day to read my little blog. All of your comments make me smile. So go out now and gobble till you wobble.....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Falling into Chaos....

Ahhh - Fall has arrived. The air finally has that lovely snap of chilliness, the awful Maryland humidity is gone, and I find myself longing to bake some sort of yummy treat made entirely out of apples, butter, sugar and cinnamon. But let's get real Peeps - that yummy concoction will not be baked this fall. Nope - 'cause this fall Busy Momma doesn't have time to EAT an apple - much less peel it, slice it, dice it and bake it up in a freaking pie.

With the waning of long, hot and lazy summer days - a new Momma has come to town. This Momma has no time to lounge by the pool - ok not that Summer Momma had much time for that. Nope - Fall Momma is all about the schedule. And let me tell you - it takes the nerves and know-how of an air-traffic controller to handle our schedule this fall.

See, the chaos began when Bella innocently decided to play field hockey this fall instead of dancing. Cool - right? Shaking things up a bit is healthy - right? Exploring other interests can only help kids maximimze their true potential - correct?

OK - I'm here to tell you that all of that jargon is a load of stinking, fly-infested horse manure. I am now convinced that all of those "parenting experts" who wrote the books that I read when the kids were small who told me to "encourge them to explore their interests" and "support them as they spread their wings and fly out of the nest in the direction that THEY want to go" are in fact, sadists who DO NOT HAVE ANY CHILDREN OF THEIR OWN! Because, Dear Readers, if they did, they would realize that allowing kids to participate in all of the activities they are interested in leads to COMPLETE AND TOTAL CHAOS! And, complete and total chaos leads to MOMMY MELT-DOWN.

What is Mommy Melt-Down? OMG - it is quite possibly the scariest thing ever. I know - because I can see the terror in PC's eyes as Mommy Melt-Down occurs. And it's been happening alot lately. Actually - it happened just today. This is what today's Mommy Melt-Down looked and sounded like:

The scene: PC is home with the kids while Busy Momma is working late.

The event: Busy Momma is speaking in front of a group, when she looks at the wall clock and realizes that she has gone 30 minutes over her contracted time with these people and has thrown today's after-school activity schedule into complete disarray. She quickly, yet brilliantly wraps up her talk and runs out the door while the people are still clapping. (And calling her name...concert style when the audience wants an encore...ok, maybe not. But one lady was sort of clapping - or perhaps her hand had fallen asleep. But I digress...)

Busy Momma rushes into the car and speed dials PC's cell - which he does not answer. G Damnit! Where is he? Whay does he have a %#$&*^# cell phone if he never answers it????? She dials the home number and once again - no answer. By now, Busy Momma is worked into a COMPLETE LATHER because Jack has to be at his very first Tiger Cub Scout meeting in 5...no, 4 minutes. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

So, Busy Momma does what any reasonable woman in her situation would do - she peels out of the parking lot - Indy car style - makes an illegal left turn into ONCOMING TRAFFIC and uses her 2 - yes, I have 2 - Crackberries to simultanelously call and text PC - while driving.

 I know, I know... don't tell Oprah on me.

FINALLY - on the 3rd or 4th attempt at his cell phone - PC picks up and says in his ultra serious voice :

"What's wrong?" 


Then in what can only be described as a voice that would come out of someone an excorsist would be frightened of, I shouted out the address of the leader and screamed: "GET HIM OVER THERE! NOW!!!  GO!GO!GO!"

PC's response?

"Um, ok. Let me finish up what I'm doing here."


I don't honestly remember exactly what I lovingly said - which I'm kind of sure was pretty bat-shit crazy.  All I remember PC calmly saying is:

"Babe, I'm in the bathroom right now. I really need to finish what I started."

At the end of the day, Jack got to his meeting - just in time to have his snack and learn the Tiger Scout sign and pledge. At least that's what PC told me. Why wasn't I at the meeting? Because I was driving to outter Ish-Ka-Bibble to purchase Jack's Tiger Scout shirt, belt, patches and paraphenalia for his adventures in scouting. That's right - LAME PARENT that I am - my kid didn't even have his uniform for the first meeting.

What is happening to me? I am NOT this parent - I'm not. But I'm going to be honest folks - Fall is KICKING my ASS. Bella has Scouts one night a week, Field Hockey 2 nights a week PLUS a game every Sunday. Jack has soccer practice once a week, a game every Saturday morning and now Scouts once every other week. Combine that with my CRAZY work schedule,  torturous 4th grade homework and Jack's slightly less-torturous 1st grade homework - plus his Religious Ed program - and I am longing for summer. And it's only been fall for about 48 hours.

I KNOW that I am NOT the ONLY Mom who is going through this. I was venting to a gal-pal about this a few days ago and she said:

"It's only Wednesday of the first week of school - GOD I HATE this week. I HATE this Month."

As do we all Sister, as do we all. Why do all of the after-school activities have to start at the same time as school? Can't they let us get back into our groove for a month or so and THEN start up the activities? Nope - why not add insult to injury and go for the gold? Let's try to INDUCE Mommy Melt-Downs on entire communities - entire goegraphical areas - by insisting that soccer, football and field hockey practices all start the same week, the same day AND at the same time. And for the fun of it - let's throw in Girl Scout Cookie sales and booths, a first project and a couple of tests for good measure - all by the 6th consecutive day of school. I can't take it anymore!!!!!

What's a Momma to do?

I saw an interesting news item on GMA this morning. A woman who had been pretty famous in the 80's and 90's has completely gone "off the grid". This woman was worth 200 million dollars at the height of her fame. Today - she lives in the middle of the desert, in a home made entirely out of recycled materials and has NO electricity or running water. She has an outhouse. Quite literally - an OUTHOUSE.

She claims that she and her kids are happy as clams, that she has chosen this life for herself and that it is peaceful and quiet and wonderful.

PC was watching with me and said something to the effect of:

"What a nutcase."

I said:

"I know"

I was thinking:
"God - that would be AWESOME. She doesn't have to worry about GS cookies and sewing on merit badges and earning something called a totem and pissing the field hockey coach off and yadda yadda yadda. I wonder how I could do that same thing only with running water, Facebook and a nearby Target?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's a bird...It's a plane....oh wait - it's just Mom

So, the other night I was awoken from a lovely, delicious slumber by the sound every parent dreads.

No, not the nauseating sounds of Justin Beiber's latest ditty -I was awoken by a cry in the night. And not just a cry - a shrill, screaming "Mommmmmmmmmmyyyyyyy" accompanied by shrieking, wailing and moaning. So, like any other mother, I FLEW out of bed, into Jack's room and up the ladder to his loft bed. Thankfully, there was no vomit. (Usually, in my house,  that level of night-time hysterics is accomanied by a bed full of last night's dinner. But not this time. ) Apparently, Jack was in the midst of a terrible dream that seemed to have involved an alligator, a dinosaur AND a lion - all hungry and craving a "Jack sandwich".  So, I did some rocking and some singing and some back-rubbing and all was well.

And as I trudged back to bed - a bed that contained a snoring, undisturbed PC - I started wondering how many other Mommies were doing the exact same thing - at the exact same moment. I wondered how many of us were awake, soothing a teething baby, trying to get a fever down, spraying "monster away" spray under beds and into closets or trying to extricate a tiny tooth from under a pillow and replace it with a bill all while remaining silent and not disturbing the sleeping toothless wonder.

And as I lay in my bed, staring at the ceiling fan, because now I was totally awake, I started to think about how we Mommies are real-life super-heroes. Sure, Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis can play the ROLE of a big, strong super-hero....with the help of a special effects team and make-up artisits. But we Mommies are the real deal. Don't agree with me? Well, consider these lesser-known, but vitally important heroes - and then tell me that Mommies aren't Honest-to-Goodness heroes:

1. Captain Comet and her identical twin Lady Lysol : Captain Comet and Lady Lysol are the daring duo who manage to clean the toilet, floor and sink that the entire family threw up into for the past 48 hours while the stomach flu was raging through the household. Without this brave twosome, the entire family would continue to reinfect each other with nastiness for days on end. Keep in mind, that while cleaning and disinfecting - these two are also under the weather, but their motto is" A Mom's gotta do what a Mom's gotta do." Also keep in mind that Captain Comet/Lady Lysol's life partner - let's call him Whining Baby-Face - is in bed with slight nausea while Captain Comet is cleaning with a 101 degree fever......

2. Homework Girl: Homework Girl is the hero who always remembers to check everyone's assignment pad and every teacher's website to ensure that all members of the household are prepared and organized for the week. Homework girl averts dangerous situations - like child A remembering that she has a Social Studies test today while on the way to school....or child B remembering that his volcano project is due tomorrow - at 10 pm. Homework Girl also makes sure that there are copious amounts of sharpened pencils, glue sticks and loose leaf paper available in the house at all times. Homework Girl can often be found hunched over a semi-destroyed "Ancient Civilizations" poster, solar-system model missing a few planets or  a half-crushed "Life in a Woodland Indian Village" diorama, breathing life back into it.

3. Dinner Diva: The Dinner Diva is the hero who makes sure that a hot, healthy meal appears on the table EVERY night at 6 o'clock...regardless if she is there to share it. The Dinner Diva can often be found in the kitchen late, late at night chopping veggies and carmelizing a pot roast before she puts it into the crock-pot for the next night's dinner. The Dinner Diva has also been spotted making dinner at 9am, wrapping and refridgerating it while leaving meticulous reheating instructions for her helper -The Reheating Raptor.

4. The Fish-Fixer: This is a very special brand of super-hero. This is the woman, who sees nothing wrong with walking into PetSmart with a dead Japanese Fighting Fish in a Ziplock baggie so that she can find it's EXACT twin and replace it before her four-year old discovers that "Mo", his beloved fishie, has gone to the great fishbowl in the sky.

5. The Dream-Weaver: the Dream Weaver is the hero who can "fix" a bad dream. This is the hero who sleeps on the floor next to a screaming child who INSISTS that green monkeys are coming to get her and feed her to their master - The Lion-Headed Mushy-Man. During the day, the Dream Weaver can often be found in the drive-thru line at Dunkin Doughnuts ordering 3 large coffees so that she can fulfill the rest of her daytime duties. The Dream-Weaver carries a unique Tool-Kit. In this magical kit, one can find "Monster-Away" spray...that smells amazingly like the body spray her mother-in-Law gave her last year for Mother's Day, "The Dream Sucker" that sucks the bad dreams right out of your head via your ears. While this device looks amazingly like the nasal aspirator that came with a baby first aid kit - be warned - it is not. It is a very specialized piece of equiptment and can ONLY be operated by THE DREAM WEAVER.

6. Tantrum Tamer: This one is self-explanatory

7. Captain Cash - Captain Cash is truly amazing. She can make $100.00 last for 10 days until Mom or Dad gets paid. She can stretch that $100.00 so that it can feed the family for 2 weeks, pay for a Girl Scout trip AND make a classmate very happy with a nice birthday gift. Captain Cash is truly amazing.

And I'm sure I have left a few heroes off of this list. But you get the idea.... While the above mentioned heroes might not have embellished capes, shiny, thigh-high boots (Thank God!) or cool cars that fly and turn into submarines - they are heroes none-the-less. If you don't believe me - just try living WITHOUT them and see how well you do!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

When there are no words....

So a few weeks ago, I found myself with the unenviable task of sitting down and writing not one, but TWO sympathy notes. One was to a neighbor whose dad had passed away at the ripe, old age of 87. He was surrounded by his family at the time of his death and was given the opportunity to say goodbye to everyone he loved. Sad? Of course. Tragic? For his children and loved ones, yes - but on the scale of tragedies - not so much. The other note, unfortunately, was to an associate in a very different situation. A situation so tragic, unenviable and unbelievable, I would not wish it on my worst enemy. To say this situation was a "worst nightmare" scenario doesn't really fit the bill - because very few of us have nightmares that would involve what these people have had to endure for the past several months. Their situation made headlines - national headlines - and made them outcasts in their community. And the culmination to their saga was tragic and wrong and unimaginable to me as a human being, but especially as a parent.

So, as I sat looking down at my $3.00 Hallmark generic sympathy card - I was struck with a serious case of writer's block. And for those of you are are kind enough to read my blog - you know that words don't often fail me. But, in this case - I had nothing. Nothing to say, nothing to write, no words of comfort or wisdom. What to do? In the end, I scribbled something about hoping that time would soothe their wounds and that they would find peace once again thru God's grace. But as I agonized over what to say, I kept thinking that nothing that I could say would possibly make any difference to these people. And I'm sure that it didn't. I just wanted them to know that they were being prayed for and thought about with kindness and compassion.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time in my life where there were literally, just no words. Many of you have read about and know my good pal - Xena, the warrior princess. I call her Xena in the blog, because she truly is one of the strongest, bravest women I know. I first met Xena when we were relaitively new teachers. She taught first grade and I taught second in a school that could probably be plopped down in the middle of any inner city in America and fit right in. To say that that experience was tough, is an understatement. So, we immediately bonded as soldiers in a foxhole wind up being bonded and remain friends for life. We've been through alot together - lots of laughter, and unfortunately, many tears. We've been at each other's weddings, we've attended funerals together, we've been through babies and pregnancies galore, new houses, fights with our spouses, christenings, weight gain and weight loss - the typical joys and difficulties of life and especially motherhood. Xena is a member of  my "inner circle" along with Sookie, Glynnis, her Awesomeness, Carrie, Carrie's sister Kelly, Fifi, Hermione and the gang. We have very few secrets and I'm so fortunate to have her and the rest of the girls in my life.

So, when Xena called me one fine morning almost 7 years ago to tell me that she was expecting baby #2, I was THRILLED for her. I was about 4 months along with Jack, Carrie had just had her third baby - life was good for The Busy Momma and her gang. Unfortunately, about 4 months later, life was about to throw Xena a curveball. When she went for her sonogram at 16 weeks, the baby wasn't measuring correctly. His head was a bit too large, his arms and legs were a bit too short - something was amiss. In typical Xena style - she jumped right on it and found the best doctors she could find and she went hither and yon to have these test results confirmed and interpreted. And the results were heartbreakingly shocking. While doctors could not tell her EXACTLY what was wrong, they were able to confirm that Xena's baby was going to suffer from dwarfism. The exact type of dwarfism would remain unclear until further testing could be done after his birth - but it was confirmed that he would suffer from this rare genetic condition. Needless to say, Xena and her husband and family were shell -shocked and heartbroken.

As her friends - we were also shell-shocked and heartbroken. How the heck did THAT happen? What would this mean for our friend? What would this mean for her family? For her older child? How could we support her through the rest of this pregnancy? What would she need from us? What could we say to her to bring her comfort?

About 5 months later her beautiful, strong, amazing, resilient boy was born. He was born with many more problems and complications than were even anticipated, and there was a good stretch of time when we weren't sure that he was going to make it. Which, looking back was kind of silly of us. Xena is SO strong, we should have realized that any child that she gives birth to will have her strength! Despite dire predictions, her boy made it. He has had to endure painful, agonizing surgeries, countless blooddraws and tests, he wears hearing aids and glasses, used a feeding tube for many years and countless other painful and expensive trials over the past 6 years. But I am thrilled to report that Jack and I watched him blow out the candles on his 6th birthday cake last weekend.

So, the question is - how did we handle these trials and tribulations with our friend? How well did we support her? Well, I can't speak for the other girls - but I'd give myself a B minus. I did my very best and I offered the help I thought she needed, but I made mistakes along the way. And I think one of the hallmarks of our friendship is that Xena can tell me what I did right and what I did wrong. And I think that illuminating the mistakes that I've made along the way might help other people avoid them.

Many of you know me personally. If you do - then you know that I show care and concern the only way I know how - with food. You know you're loved if you get Nanny's Soda Bread delivered to your door. So, while Xena and her husband were shuttling back and forth to the NICU at Hopkins - I was cooking and baking. Everytime I worried about her, I made a lasagna, a baked ziti, a soda bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, nacho pie...things that she could put in the freezer and pull out when she tired of fast food. I had my cleaning lady go to her house and clean for her. I did her grocery shopping for her, offered to go over and do the laundry. Things that I thought she needed. And while she appreciated everything that her circle of friends did for her - we were missing the mark. As we were filling her freezer - SHE needed us to be filling her soul. Think about it - how many lasagnas and baked zitis does one family really need? She needed company as she sat for hours by the crib of her fragile baby as the babies that surrounded him in the NICU died - right in front of her - each and every week. It never occurred to me to go down and sit with her. I didn't want to intrude. I didn't realize that Xena would have told me if I was intruding. It never occurred to me to ask her what she really needed. Instead, I gave her what I thought she needed. And that's not to say that she didn't need food and practical support - because she did. And she appreciated it. I just wish that instead of making one more lasagna, that I'd spent that time sitting by the baby's crib with her.

I think part of the reason why I didn't go to the hospital was because I didn't know what to say to her. I had a perfectly healthy, if somewhat colicky baby boy at home. What do you say to another mother who is praying that her baby makes it through the night? It was MUCH easier to make taco pie than sit with the silence.

Now,  plenty of people did a FAR worse job than I did. Xena says that people just stopped calling and coming by all together. She lost many friends throughout that dark and frightening first year of her new life. They just stopped talking to her. Hard to believe? Yes. Easy to explain away - sure. They didn't know WHAT TO SAY. Because in this case, there were just no words. And that makes people uneasy. And then, there were the people who said DREADFUL, HORRIBLE, insanely cruel and stupid things to her. Someone actually told her that when they heard about her situation that they could truly understand why some people had abortions. This lovely tidbit came from a FAMILY MEMBER. People would look at her and the baby in an elevator and say things like "What's wrong with your baby?". A receptionist at a doctor's office actually told her that she needed to "get her priorities straight" as she tried to schedule an appointment around her work schedule. Imagine - having to go back to work during all of this because your medical bills were unreal - even with some of the best insurance money could buy. There are countless other indignities she has had to suffer, and I'm sure will continue to suffer throughout the coming years.

I guess my point in writing this post - other than to send a shout out to the best and strongest mom that I know- is to encourage you, my dear readers, to ask the right questions in times of tragedy. Instead of assuming that we know what a friend in crisis needs, ask her what she needs. The greatest lesson I've learned from Xena is that you need to BE THERE - physically BE THERE for your friends - even if you don't know what to say. It's better to say "I just don't know what to say to you - but I love you and I'm here for you" than to not say anything at all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Mommy Wars!

So - I get this 911 voice mail and email from Fifi today. She is in an all-out LATHER because "The Emperor's birthday" is coming up and he wants a "bug cake", ("The Emperor" is her son) and Fifi - baker EXTRAORDINAIRRE - cannot figure out how to decorate this cake. This is Fifi we're talking about. The woman who can simultaneously arrange a party for 250 on a yacht off the coast of Santa Barbara, manage international travel for a group of 12 persnickity high rollers, coordinate every aspect of the opening of a new branch in Vegas WHILE training a new assistant. Fifi who has also taken pastry and baking classes in France at whatever the hell that famous pastry school in France is - La Snotty Snooty Snootery de la Pattiserrie. I think that's what it's called. Or maybe Le Cordon Bleu - come to think of it - I think that's the actual name of the place. Anyway - I digress. So here she is - on her way to work this morning, all lathered up about - a bug cake. For a child's birthday party. At Chuck-E-Cheese.

So, like the bestest friend in the whole world that I am - I solve her problem immediately. I say: "Um, why not do what I do and let the BAKER at the BAKERY solve this problem for you?" I shout BAKER and BAKERY at her like she is my 99-year old grandmother. Slowly and very, very LOUDLY. I did not expect her to embrace this suggestion. I expected her to say something like: "Margs - I am Fifi - baker extraordinairre! I do not know of this establishment you speak of - what is a bakery? I am a much better baker than all of the bakers in the Santa Monica area. I am classically trained and my baking puts them all to shame."

Her response was rather shocking. She said, and I quote: "Clearly YOU have not been a working mom for as long as I have, and you do not yet have the guilt of not being there for every school function, every after school activity, every fundraiser, nor do you have the overwhelming need to prove yourself to the Stay at Home moms. All of this will come in due time, young Padawan. Just you wait. So you see, this bug cake HAS TO BE PERFECT, and every child at this party has to think, "I wish my mom could make a cool cake like that.", so that I get a little bit of cred in my favor before the school year starts and I slip into bad working mom decline. Remember - it's NEVER just about the cake."

Hmmmm. So, my Fifi will be spending the weekend with sheets and tubes of fondant and experimenting with all sorts of creepy, crawly creations to decorate the Emperor's cake - which, I have absolutely NO doubt, will be the BEST damned bug cake Santa Monica will have EVER seen. I also have no doubt that Fifi will return to work on Monday with a ruined manicure, hands dyed the color of dirty dish water and circles the size of saucers under her eyes - but that cake will look amazing.

And all of this leaves me with a kind of sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. Why are we STILL fighting the Mommy Wars? In the past 2 or 3 years, so many moms have had to go back to work because of this crappy economy. Jobs and entire industries that were once secure and sure bets have gone up in smoke. Our nation is teetering on the edge of another Great Depression and you mean to tell me that there are STILL women out there who look DOWN on those of us who are out there bringing home the bacon and then busting our asses to get home so that we can fry it up in the pan? Seriously?

Look - there is nothing wrong with staying home with the kids. I did it for many, many years. And I loved it...most days. It's hard, hard work. I'd say that it's harder than many of the jobs that I've ever had! It's certainly the MOST IMPORTANT job that I've ever had - and it still is. But many, many women do not have the luxury of having the choice to stay home with their kids. And there are some women out there who - GASP - don't want to!!! DUM-DUM-DUM!!! Newsflash - that doesn't make them crappy mothers. It makes them human.

I just think that it's sad that someone like Fifi - who is brilliant at what she does, has a million other talents and gifts and - oh by the way- is a kick-ass mother - feels like she has to turn into the freaking Cake Boss to prove something to the Stay at Home moms in her son's school community. It sucks - yet it's reality.

I remember freaking out right before walking out to do a MILLION DOLLAR sales presentation this past March. Why, are you asking, was the Busy Momma freaking out? Was she nervous about the BIGGEST presentation of her entire career? Nope - I mean I was nervous about it - but I wasn't freaking out about it. No - I was freaking out because it was the third grader's day to host the Lenten Bake Sale for charity and as I was not home the night before to bake anything - PC did what any normal, rational male would do - he went to Safeway, bought a box of Ding Dongs, threw them in Bella's book bag and called it a day.

Bella's contribution to the Bake Sale was a box of Ding Dongs.

Ding Dongs.

Here's the problem - we don't hand in premade things like Ding Dongs. Or, shall I say, before I went back to work, we NEVER handed in things like Ding Dongs for the bake sale. Only Moms who didn't care handed in thoughtless things like Ding Dongs. I mean any DING DONG can run to Safeway and get a thing of Ding Dongs, right? We handed in homemade cupcakes with tyedyed icing, or witch cupcakes or other such projects that kept me up into the wee small hours of the morning trying to out do the other moms. For what? What prize did I EVER get for staying up all night long to make 75 cupcakes with little edible daisies on them?

So I'm just as guilty as Fifi in this arena. But here is the question that I pose to you - loyal readers: Are the Mommy Wars real? Do you think anyone looked at Bella's box of Ding Dongs and thought: "Oh look - poor Bella. Her Mom WORKS. She doesn't have time to bake for the bake sale. Wonder what else she doesn't have time for?"  Do you think anyone at The Emperor's birthday party would look at a bakery cake and think: "Oh look - Fifi went to the BAKERY. Well of course, she WORKS - what would you expect?" Do we put this pressure on ourselves?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The mouths of babes.....

What is it they say about kids? They say the funniest things? Well, this week, at my house, they have said the funniest, nastiest, most disturbing and most ridiculous things we have ever heard! It's like our two children have lost their minds. Or, like PC says: It's like being the wardens in the insane asylum. I don't know if it's the heat, or the fact that they have been trapped inside more than normal because we've been having these rolling thunder storms...or the stars are misaligned or what - but my children have gone bonkers and I don't like it one bit!

It all started innocently enough. Monday morning, Jack woke up pretty early and came into my bed for a nice early morning snuggle. This rare treat is one of my favorite left-over rituals from the baby-days. Both kids would wake up early for that 5am feeding and then we'd snuggle up and cuddle and go back to sleep for a bit. Jack still wanders in every now and then, cuddles up and drifts off to sleep for an hour or two before he wakes up ready to face the day. So, you can imagine my surprise this past Monday when he came in, turned over to face me and had a very serious and disturbed look on his face. I folded him into my arms  and asked:
"What's wrong Bud? Bad dream?"
And, in his very serious little old man voice he replied:" Um, I don't know how to say dis without soundin' mean - but it's time to go to da spa and get your moustache waxed off again Momma."
And, with a fart and a yawn, he proceeded to snuggle into his hairy beast of a mother and drift off to sleep.

What a nice way to start the week - and it only gets better from there.

He is on a very serious tattle-tale bender. He tattles on everyone - all of the time. And when I say everyone - I mean everyone. Of course he tattles on Bella - that's a no brainer. But he tattles on the babysitter, the babysitter's boyfriend, the boyfriend's mom, his friends, his friend's moms, my parents and - and this is the best - on PC!!! He tattles on his own father. Sells his ass right out to me.
"Mom, Daddy said the 'S' word!"
"Mom, Daddy said God Damnit again!"
"Mom, Daddy gave us soda and we're not supposed to have soda. And he gave us soda twice. Hehehehehehe."
"Mom, Daddy forgot to (fill in the blank) even though you told him to do it three times before you left and then after you left he said 'why don't you tell me one more time in case I'm really retarded like you seem to think I am' and he forgot to do it anyway. Hehehehehehehehe"

OK - that last one was really funny actually.

And then there is Bella...

Jack is looking forward to a trip to New York at the end of this month. My brother has given him tickets to a NY Yankees game - and Jack is anticipating this event the way a child anticipates Christmas. He is counting down the days, he tells everyone he encounters that he is going to "New York City to the New York Yankees "Stamium" to see the New York Yankees play a Yankees game". The maillady knows about the trip, the dry cleaner knows, every life guard at the pool knows, every camp counselor knows, every neighbor knows, the checkout lady at the grocery store knows - pretty much everyone in town knows that Jack is headed to New York to see a game. Of course, every time Jack gleefully informs someone about the upcoming trip - Bella's nose gets a bit out of joint. It's not that she's never had such a trip - in fact - she has had SEVERAL. It's that this particular trip is all about Jack. Hmmph. This is highly unacceptable to Bella. So, she has come up with a plan for her OWN trip to New York. And in what I can ONLY attribute as a passive-aggressive, "Eff-You" to my brother, who is persona-non-grata after having the sheer audacity to arrange this Yankees game trip for Jack (as he has arranged the Mary Poppins, Beauty and the Beast, Museum of Natural History, American Girl Place and Little Mermaid trips in years past for the princess), she has deemed this trip "Katie and the Aunties Weekend of WONDERMENT". The "Aunties" in question are my newly minted sister-in-law and her sister, whom Bella has adopted as her new fairy godmother and honorary "Auntie"  - like it or not. When questioned about what exactly a "weekend of WONDERMENT' enatils - my darling girl calmly replied that a weekend of wonderment would probably start with :" a trip to a nice spa to get one of those treatments where they put cucumbers on your eyes and all of that gloop on your face. I mean, Mom, we've sort of done the mani and pedi thing to death. Then, I'm thinking that we take the Aunties on a tour of American Girl Place. You know - show them where the dolls can get their hair done and the doll hospital. Then we can shop of course and get a new doll and her stuff. We'll probably want to grab a bite to eat while we're there don't you think? Then shopping of course - we can probably get a new wardrobe while we're in the city. And I'm thinking that we'll do a Broadway show that night - I'm thinking "Wicked". What do you think?"

Ummm - let me see. I think that I will be bankrupt by the end of the weekend - that is what I think!!!! I think:

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?????????????????????????????????????

ARE YOU NUCKING FUTS??????????????????????????????

What I said was: "Well, those all sound like really fun ideas! However, they also sound like really expensive ideas too- so why don't we try to decide which ONE of those ideas - a show, a trip to American girl or a MINI-spa treatment - we will enjoy. And then we'll talk to the Aunties and in the end the grown-ups will make the final decision." HOLY COW!

And it only gets better from there....

As we are discussing the Aunties, Bella asks what her fairy godmother does for a living. So, I reply that she is super-duper smart and worked really, really hard in school and is now a lawyer. She worked SO hard in school that when it was time to apply to law schools - she got into and went to the BEST one in the whole country - probably the whole world - Harvard Law! Isn't that FANTASTIC???????

And in what can only be described as a moment that literally took my breath away....and not in the good way - like when your kid wins the spelling bee or walks down the stairs in her prom gown or leaps across the stage in the Nutcracker - this breathtaking experience was more like when someone punches you in your solar plexus...my brilliant, beautiful daughter said:

"I just don't understand why Auntie wastes all of her time lawyering when she is so beautiful. She could just be a super model. Do you think she thought of that before all of that boring Harvard business?"

OH....        MY ....       GOD.

After PC difribulated me back to life...and the paramedics left, I sat and reflected upon my parenting strategies up to this point. I am a feminist, and I wear that title proudly. I'm a Mommy - and I'm a damned good one. I've read all of the books. I've done all of the things I'm supposed to. I did pre and postnatal yoga. I did Gymboree. I did Kindermusik.  I made my own babyfood. I've bought the organic milk and chicken and beef. I've avoided the trans fats. I've read to them every night since they came home from the hospital and limited screen time. I've tried to instill values like honesty and goodness and kindness and fairness. I've tried to model the value of education and knowledge. I've honored their interests and tried to get to know and honor who they are - not who I want them to be.

 FOR WHAT? FOR WHAT I ASK YOU??????? From the looks of it, all of my freaking efforts - my attachment parenting, my co-sleeping, my organic everything - has netted me a Paris Hilton wanna-be and a tattle-taling aspiring aestician/waxing professional.

So, here is my new strategy. It's every man for himself over here from now on. No more organic bullshit. It's Dingdongs and HoHos for breakfast, Pixie Sticks and white Wonderbread for lunch and Mountain Dew and meals that come in a box for dinner. You might never poop again - but who cares? No bedtimes, books are banned, porn for all, neck tats for every birthday and "Homework is for Dorks!" is the new family motto.  No extra-curricular activities either. No ballet, horseback riding, piano, soccer, baseball, field hockey, Scouts, Nutcracker, Lego builders club - nothing - nada.You want dance class? It had better involve a pole, kiddo. Shake your moneymaker, 'cause Momma needs a new pair of shoes.

I'm walking around this place with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I'm going to Walmart and investing in a bunch of Mumus and haircurlers. And I'm going to drive around town like that. The new strategy is: That which does not kill you will make you STRONGER.  Obviously, my attempts at parenting them and molding them into decent human beings isn't working. So now, I think I'm going to have to frighten them into becoming the brilliant, over-achieving type A people I know they can become! And if anyone can frighten them to greatness- I can....I know I can do it...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First I was Afraid...I was Petrified....

Well Peeps - I did it.  I made it through my three weeks of travel hell and I am happy to report that the Busy Momma and her crew are still in one piece. We are a bit tired and travel weary - but all in all - A -O.K.

Vacation was WONDERFUL. It was just what we needed. A week of being COMPLETELY unplugged was just what the doctor ordered. I am hoping to go for 10 days next year. We were able to sleep late and reconnect as a family. It was truly one of those magical weeks where everyone got along, no one fought and no one needed a time-out. No one complained of being "bored", no one asked to watch tv or play Wii - although they did say that the FIRST thing they were going to do upon getting home was "play Wii and watch TV all day long". And true to their word....

I will admit that arriving home from Cape Cod at 9:30 pm and arriving at BWI at 2:30pm the following day was a bit harrowing. And the ensuing 5-hour flight delay did not help make the transition from vacation to back-to-work any more pleasant. And the sudden 1:30 am wake up to a smoking, sparking AC unit wasn't a grand kick-off to a week of Regional Meetings in Columbus, Ohio. Of course, the resulting room change wasn't enjoyable either once I realized, at 2:20am, that I was moved to a room next-door to a group of giggly, LOUD teenage cheerleaders who were staying at the hotel while they were apparently attending the Annoying, Giggly, Loud, American Cheerleader Association Convention. And at 3am, after REPEATED, FUTILE complaints to the front desk about said LOUD, giggly teenage girls, the Busy Momma was forced to take matters into her own hands. And I will admit, it wasn't pretty. First of all, any of you who have SEEN Busy Momma at 3am know that SHE is not pretty at that hour of the morning. The protective layer of spakle has not yet been applied, the hair has not yet been tamed and laquered and the girls have not yet been properly harnessed, lifted and separated. So you can IMAGINE what the Busy Momma must have looked like when she BURST out of her room, "Team Edward" shirt stretched across her sagging bossom and 15-year old Loyola lacross shorts stretched across her ample bottom, hair standing Cruella DeVille like atop her head, eyes flashing like a raving lunatic while screaching "WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE HOOLIGANS?" and "LADIES - YOU HAD BETTER GET INTO YOUR BEDS RIGHT NOW BEFORE I THROW YOU INTO THEM AND I AM IN NO WAY PLAYING. GO TO BED RIGHT NOW!" Four teenage girls, stopped dead in their tracks - mid-giggle, smiles dissolving off of their faces, eyes widening in abject terror at the sight of me. One door cracks open, and a mother peeks her head out of the door and meekly says: "Is there a problem?'

Now those of you who know me well can probabaly imagine my response to this moron. You are probably already laughing your asses off at what you know I said to this brainless waste of space. But, for those of you new to this blog, my polite response was:

"Is there a problem? Do you own a watch? Yes, there is a FUCKING problem! It is 3am and your SPAWN are running all over this hotel like it is GOD-DAMNED DISNEYLAND. There are people here who have to be up and at meetings at 7am which, since you apparently don't own a FUCKING WATCH is in 4 hours. So unless you'd like ME to bang on YOUR goddamned door at 6:30 am when I have to be up and dressed and perky for MY breakfast meeting, you will wrangle your SPAWN and put them to bed and I will not hear as much as a god damned FART from any of them or god help me I will bang on all of your doors at 6 am until your sorry asses are up and as mad as I am right now - GOT IT? GOOD -  now GO TO BED!" 

Then, with as much dignity as I could muster, I swung back around and realized that....I was locked out of my room.

The good news is, they upgraded Busy Momma to a "tower suite". The bad news is, Busy Momma lost an entire night of sleep - and Busy Momma is not as young as she used to be! But, the moral of the story is - I survived. PC survived his 2 weeks of single-parent-hood. The house is still standing, the kids are healthy - although I do think they have had more soda and junk-food than they've had in a long time. They probably need a good colon cleanse. And I don't think any Summer Reading or Summer Math got done last week - so we really need to pick up the pace on that as school starts in 3 weeks! Yikes!

These last 3 weeks of summer are going to fly by - they ALWAYS do. I think I'm a freak, because I'm not that parent walking through Target doing the Back-to-School shopping singing "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". I LOVE summer. I LOVE having the kids home. I LOVE the break from homework and structure and the routine. I'm so sad that the end is near. I remember being younger when the summer seemed endless. Now it seems to go by in a flash! I think I'm just getting really old....as if my above described FREAK-OUT didn't prove that. Before we know it, we will be back into the swing of making lunches and doing homework and ballet and Nutcracker and soccer and field hockey and going in 300 different directions. But for today, I think maybe I'll just go to the pool.......

Friday, July 9, 2010

Oh Help...

Ahh..July. There is something about the word that conjures up images of porch swings, and lemonade, lightening bugs and lazy afternoons by the lake - right? Then why on earth does the word "July" make me hyperventilate lately? Perhaps it is the sheer amount of CRAZY that is on my plate for the month of July. The month started out peacefully enough - a wonderful trip to the beach with my beloved friends Sookie, Glynnis and companies. Then - we came home - and all hell is breaking loose.

First of all - PC and I decided to stay late at the beach - you know - enjoy the day, wait out the traffic and what-not. Which meant that we arrived home after 10, and had to tote 2 unconscious kids in from the car and up to bed. Then, after unpacking the car, shaking sand all over the driveway and unhooking the labrynth of DS/DVD/IPOD wires that were hooked into every outlet in the swagger wagon and packing them into their proper carrying case - we were faced with an unfortunate situation.

Before heading up to bed, I decided to quickly check email - only to discover that the mouse was not working - and neither was the keyboard. Hmmm - what to do? Whine to PC, of course. So, he dutifully climbed under the desk, assuming that something was unplugged. If only. While under the desk, he discovered that the mouse wires, keyboard wire, printer wires and speaker wires were all severed - or shall I say - nibbled through. CHEWED through - by a MOUSE! That's right Peeps. While we were out sunning our buns - Mickey, or one of his pals - was having a GRAND time in my office, chewing his way through all that I hold dear. So, after an appropriate string of truly foul words, worthy of a drunken sailor, PC squeals - I mean - says in a very deep, masculine voice: "Son of a B%*TCH - THERE IT IS!!!". And there it was - running under the couch. And, dear friends - you can picture what happened next. PC and Busy Momma, armed with brooms and tennis racquets and pasta collanders and plastic bowls just going to town trying to smack the crap out of this teeny, tiny mouse. To no avail. The mouse outplayed, outsmarted and outwitted us. So, off to bed we finally went - defeated, demoralized and totally grossed out. I am happy to report that our visitor HAS been caught and has met his maker courtesy of one of the dozen old fashioned mouse traps PC has scattered all over the house.

So now, I have to take care of all of the damage the stupid mouse caused! AND get an exterminator! All before leaving on a business trip for a whole WEEK! Now - a week long business trip wouldn't be so bad - if it did not involve coming home late on Friday night and leaving early on Saturday morning for vacation!!! How on EARTH am I going to manage THAT? How will I manage getting home at 11 pm on Friday and having a family of 4 packed for a week long beach vacation and out the door by 8am on Saturday morning? It will take an act of God - a miracle for this to happen.

And THEN, I will be on vacation for a week - drive home on Friday or Saturday and fly out on SUNDAY for ANOTHER business trip!!!! HOW on EARTH am I going to do THAT??????????????

I am truly afraid that Busy Momma is going to loose her ever loving mind. So - here's the plan:
1. Busy Momma has started the evening with a glass of wine. While this will not help Busy Momma work any faster or more efficiently -it will probably prevent her from killing anyone.
2. Busy Momma is doing the laundry as she types. When the laundry is finished - Busy Momma will fold and pack vacation clothes and then HIDE these clothes from PC and the children.
3. Busy Momma will then make sure that the children have enough clothes and underwear for a week of camp while she is away. If they do not - she will but cheapo shorts and tee shirts at WalMart tomorrow. She will not tell PC she is doing this - under any circumstances. 
4. If PC is reading this blog and is angry about this impending shopping trip - then maybe he can remember that Busy Momma is about 1 step away from a nervous breakdown and checking herself into Shepard Pratt for a nice "vacation" in the crazy house.
5. Busy Momma is now going to open a new bottle of wine, because she is getting mad at PC- and he's not even home from work yet - big fat stupid, stupid headed jerk.
6. That's better.
7. What am I doing here? Oh the plan...that's right. Maybe I need some more wine here....

Oh crap - plans schmlans. I really have no idea how I'm going to manage this one - I really don't. It is going to take some pretty serious coordination and team work. And wine - lots and lots of wine.....

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big, Bad "D" Word...

Well, hey there Peeps! Happy Summer to you - is everyone SWELTERING in this freakish early summer heatwave? It was 101 degrees today when we got to the pool - and it's only JUNE! Holy cow...anyway - much is up with the Busy Momma and her gang. There is going to be one HUGE bit of news that will be announced in my next post. No, Busy Momma is NOT pregnant - I repeat - no new family members. Don't get that excited Dear Readers. Nope - no new family members, but a new endeavor for Busy Momma. I'll give you a few hints - just to whet your appetite...the new endeavor pays nothing, will most likely be unpleasant, and involves fire, mud, hay and a viking helmet!!! Any guesses? Now for those of you who ALREADY know what I'm talking about - DON'T ruin it for everyone else. But - if you have NO idea what on earth I'm hinting at - take a guess. Whoever comments with the first correct guess will win a prize from the Busy Momma herself! That's right! I'm handing out prizes...so take a guess - you have NOTHING to lose!

So - in the spirit of my last two posts: Rules for a Happy Marriage and a Love Letter to Hermione, I've decided to round out the theme with the topic of DIVORCE! Shocking, right? Such a bummer - especially in June - the month of love and weddings. However - I'm not taking end-of-a-marriage divorce here. I'm talking about a different kind of divorce. The kind of divorce that is unique to women and just rips your heart out - the FRIENDSHIP Divorce.

Have any of you experienced this particular type of torture and heartbreak? If you were born with a uterus, you probably have. Now, I'm not being sexist here - I know that male friendships also break-up and that those break-ups can be very painful - but it's just not the same. I didn't come up with the term "friendship divorce" - I actually stole it from Gwennyth Paltrow's blog/website: GOOP. (It's a good site - http://www.goop.com/) Sookie actually turned me onto this site for this specific topic. I was contemplating ending - or at least cooling off - a friendship that I'd had for a while that just wasn't really healthy for me. I won't get into the specifics, but let's just say that the person in question was/is an energy vampire. One of those people who thrive on constant drama and can't just be happy when everything is going along swimmingly. And somehow, for some reason, this person likes to involve me in every outrageous situation that she finds herself in. And we're not talking benign drama - like aggressive driving issues or nasty food service worker stories. This person has constant serious, dangerous, self-destructive drama. And no matter how you try to help her - she just won't be helped. In other words - she refuses to accept any type of help or advice that might actually help her or improve her life. Because that is not what she wants. She is not interested in resolving her issues - she just wants to bitch and moan about them and drain all of your attention and energy until you have nothing left.  And Busy Momma just can't TAKE IT ANYMORE!!!

So, anyway - in talking with Sookie about this situation - she mentioned this term - "friendship divorce". And it truly is a perfect turn of phrase for these situations. A "friendship divorce' is different from just naturally growing apart from someone. Or loosing touch with someone who moves away. A "Friendship Divorce" is just what the name implies - a divorce. Dictionary.com defines "divorce" as "a total separation, a disunion". It is something intentional and well thought-out. It's not that angry reaction one might have after an argument with a pal. It's the decision one comes to after much thought and one too many arguments, uncomfortable moments, conversations or hurtful words from a friend.

I've been through a few friendship divorces myself - and they are NOT easy. I've been the divorce-er and the divorcee. And I will say, being the one on the receiving end of the divorce is awful - just plain awful. It is painful and emotionally draining and in my case, simply devastating. Much like, I would imagine, a traditional end-of-a-romantic relationship divorce would be. Now, as a disclaimer, I've never been divorced, I've never experienced that unique brand of torture, and I hope I never do. And I certainly don't mean to take anything away from those of you who HAVE been through it. But all of the research that I've seen regarding this particular situation indicates that women who suffer the loss of a friend - particularly a "best friend" - describe heartbreak and emotional devastation similar to the loss women describe when a marriage ends. Interesting, huh? I think that says a lot about the intensity of female friendships and the role they play in our lives.

While I would never choose to go through one of these situations again, I did learn a lot from my "divorces". I'm sorry to say that I learned far more from the situations that I didn't initiate than from the ones that I did. I think we all get to a point with some people where enough is enough. And when I did choose to end a friendship, it was really a no-brainer. I think all I learned from that situation is that I respect myself and love myself enough to remove myself from a bucket full of crazy. Duh. Unfortunately for me, the real learning came through loosing people who meant a great deal to me.

The two most devastating "divorces" in my life looked completely different. One came after an awful, completely out-of-control screaming attack that I truly did not see coming. The other took the form of a stony, unending silence - that I DID see coming. I don't know which one was worse.

The first divorce came suddenly and swiftly - like a baseball bat to the head in a dark alley. It happened more than a decade ago, and I've had the advantage of plenty of time to get over it and to look at it with the perspective that the years  can bring. While I was completely shocked at the time - I think it wasn't really a surprise to anyone who knew us. Our lives were going in two completely different directions, it was a time of intense stress and pressure for her and a time of intense, wild happiness for me. I was completely absorbed in the beginning of my adult personal life and she was completely absorbed in the start of her professional life. One person walking on air while riding a unicorn over a rainbow living with another person slogging her way through a jungle armed with nothing but a nail file to cut through the underbrush is not a good mix. Both of our heads were completely up our own butts, and the pressure just got to be too much. She, as described tearfully to Fifi that night, "freaked the F#&K out!" for "No good reason, other than the fact that she is obviously a total freaking psycho-path!" That night, and to be fair, for many years after that night, I could not IMAGINE what I had DONE to provoke such an utterly awful and inappropriate scene. And, as I recall, after freaking the f#&k out myself that night, I returned to the scene of the "crime" filled with righteous indignation and all of the anger that I think I had ever felt up until that point. I remember the first time I saw her after the big blow up. She tried to apologize - but I was having NONE of it. I stared her down and I remember telling her off. And let's remember - Busy Momma is from JOISEY Peeps! When it comes to telling people off - girls from North Jersey can do it in their sleep. Hell - we can do it while giving birth - while in a coma - while facing down a shark...ok, I digress. I remember saying something about her speaking to me the way one would speak to a dog - and that she had better NEVER speak to me again. And, in fact, that after she had shown her "true colors", I'd really prefer it if she never opened her ugly assed mouth to me or at me ever again.  

Classy, huh? And, to add to my mature handling of the situation, I slammed doors, walked out of a room when she entered, muttered under my breath and pretty much refused to talk to her about the situation. I was "punishing" her for hurting me. And while I will never, ever think or be convinced that what she did was right or justified in any way, I am able to look back at the situation and identify how I actually contributed to the death of the relationship. I was so convinced that I was the innocent victim, I was unable to even contemplate that I might have contributed to her stress at the time. That while I was well within my rights to enjoy and celebrate all of the joy life was handing me on a silver platter, she was also well within her rights to feel that maybe, just perhaps, I could have been a bit more discreet about it. Especially since, as I recall, for every great thing that was coming my way that year, something not so great seemed to come her way. There were no more big blow-ups after that. I think I might have let her apologize, eventually, when I felt that she had been "punished" enough. But, unfortunately for both of us, by that time it was too late. I didn't believe that she was truly sorry for the hurt she caused me. She certainly didn't seem hurt or upset by what had happened - while I was completely devestated and shaken to my core. There were other things swirling around me at the time that she was not privvy to - big, serious things that were causing me a great deal of personal stress and trauma. I was sworn to protect a secret that caused me great pain and heartache at the time. I think that if she knew what I was carrying around in the days that proceeded the blow-up, things might have been different. But she couldn't know - and now she will never know. I was truly unable to forgive and forget. I couldn't get past the hurt, the feelings of betrayal that surrounded the situation and the rejection that I felt. The situation was really much more complicated and, like many epic fractured fairy tales, there were other players involved - villans and heroes - who added to the melodrama and the hurt. Eventually, despite half hearted attempts on both of our parts, the relationship just ended. It was too broken to ever be fixed. And while I'm over it and can look at the incident now for what it was - a growing pain, I still think that had the situation been different - maybe if we had been a little different - we would still be friends. And that saddens me. I think we would have been even better friends as moms than we ever were as girls. And we were great friends as girls.

The other divorce was one that I did see coming. It was at a completely different time in my life and a completely different situation - but still painful and hurtful and devastating - for completely different reasons. Whereas earlier in my life, the end of that friendship left nothing unsaid - this one left EVERYTHING unsaid. The simple explanation for this one was that this person and I had really grown apart. Really, really apart. The sad reality is that we were childhood friends and held on way too long. We grew into wildly different people. And while for some relationships that can be a good thing - it wasn't for us. We weren't a Lucy and Ethel - we were more like a Limbaugh and a Maddow. And the more we tried to hang on to who we used to be, who we actually were always got in the way. Instead of a big, dramatic blow-up - this relationship imploded over simmering resentment and unexpressed anger. There were one too many broken promises, broken dates, insincere apologies and passive-aggressive slights. We couldn't understand the choices the other one was making in her life. I didn't understand many of the choices she was making as a wife and mother. And I'm not talking about "hot topics" like breastfeeding or watching Baby Mozart. I'm talking decisions that she was making that she KNEW were wrong and harmful for her health, her marriage and most importantly - choices that she was making that would forever change and affect her child. I'm not proud to say this - but I never said anything to her about these issues- but looking back -I'm sure my displeasure and disapproval were written all over my tone and woven into the fabric of our conversations. And I'm not sorry about that.  I am sorry that I never confronted her and that I never told her how I felt. Not that my words would have had any affect - she was on a path to self-destruction and she eventually crashed and burned. And took her baby with her on the way down. That's MY take on what happened to her life. If asked, I'm sure she would say that she has no idea what I'm talking about - which is another reason why her choice to sever ties was probably the best gift she ever gave me. While it was painful for me - really, incredibly painful - I'm glad she did it. I don't think I would have been able to do it. I didn't like who I was when I was with her. I wasn't myself. I walked on eggshells and all in all, it wasn't healthy for either one of us. The biggest issue I dealt with, at the time of the big divorce was "What did I DO to deserve this?" I remember thinking: :"I kept your secrets, I know where the bodies are buried. I covered for you, I listened to you, I held you as you cried, I offered you a place to live, a soft place to land! And you do THIS to ME? You cut me off with nothing? Did I mean anything to you? Did my friendship mean anything to you? Did you just chew me up and spit me out? What kind of person ARE you?" And, in many ways, I still think that. But there is no hurt there any more. It's more saddness that someone that I thought would turn out to be a good friend for life didn't turn out to be who I thought she could be. And that's ok - it really is. I wish her well. She has a new life and I hope it is a beautiful one.

I've added links to two books that look like they might be good resources if you or someone you know is going through this. I have not read them, but the reviews look promising and I'll be downloading them to the Kindle. This topic really does fascinate me - as someone who has been through this experience AND as the mother of a girl who will undoubtedly go through one or two of these in her lifetime. All in all, while I would have REALLY liked to have learned these important life lessons another way - I'm glad that I learned them. I truly believe that our failures are only TRUE failures if we don't learn something from them. I'm glad that I was able to come out on the other side of these 2 friendships better than I was when I entered into them. And I want to thank those 2 women for helping me walk through that part of my journey. Someone once told me that we are all the villans in someone else's story. I hope that my account of these two "friendship divorces" does not paint either of these ladies as a villan - they truly are not. My sincere hope is that I am not the villan in their story either. And if I am or I was- I apologize.   

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Love Letter...

So, Bella came home from a sleepover the other day with a terrible, earth-shattering pronouncement. "Well, Mom, we always knew this day would come. I've lost my Best Friend, (insert dramatic pause here) FOREVER!"

(Feel free to imagine the accompanying hand-wringing, head-tossing and puppy-dog eye making gestures that accompanied such a pronouncement.)

Apparently, Bella had been terribly wronged at the sleepover. My best friend Hermione's daughter is Bella's FBFFWLTP (First Best Friend Forever Who Loves to Play - duh!). We will call this little girl Nahla.(for reasons that Hermione will undoubtedly love) Anyway - Nahla goes to a different school and has a group of girlfriends from this school who were invited to the sleepover. Bella knows these little girls - who are lovely- and has played with them several times over the past 2 or 3 years. Apparently, everything was going great until Bella wanted to play "horse trainer" and the other girls wanted to play "American Girl dolls". Well - that's when the sh#t hit the proverbial fan. Nahla had to make a choice - play horse trainer with Bella or American Girl dolls with the other girls. And in a betrayal that, in Bella's mind rivals Deliahla's betrayal of Samson, Nahla sided with her other girl friends. Not one for just "going with the flow", Bella stomped downstairs and complained BITTERLY to Hermione. Well now, what's a mom to do? Hermione went upstairs to gauge the temperature of the room - and it seemed that Bella was just sh#t out of luck - the girls were playing American Girl Dolls and having a grand time. Bella was going to have to either join the group or go pound sand. Thankfully, having known Bella since the moment she was born, Hermione was able to diffuse the situation with a puppy and a well done corn dog. Crisis averted.

However, 24 hours later, the betrayal still smarts a bit and Bella is just not quite right. I can tell that she's turning the situation over and over in her mind and realizing, for the first time in her life, that Nahla has a whole other life - apart from her. And this life includes friends and experiences that Bella is NOT a part of. Hermione and I have been dreading this moment since we realized that the girls were going to be raised in 2 different towns and go to two different schools. We've often discussed what would happen and how we would handle a situation like this one. Granted - Hermione got off easy this time. But what about next time? I could tell that Nahla felt a bit left out at Bella's birthday party this year, and no amount of coaxing or propping her up helped her feel like she was part of the group of Bella's friends either. So the question is: what is going to happen as the girls get older? Are they going to find a way to manage this obstacle and figure out how to manuever around it? Or are they going to see it as a road block and allow it to impact their relationship? Hermione and I hope and pray that they'll work their way around it - and I think that we will be able to help them do just that.

Nahla and Bella are as different as night and day. Nahla was born six weeks after Bella. Hermione came to see Bella - or I should say Hermione waddled in to see Bella - moments after she was born. And I remember taking Bella's teeny, tiny hand and putting it on Hermione's ENORMOUS belly, and telling her that her best friend was inside waiting to meet her. When Nahla came home from the hospital, Bella and I went to the house for a visit. Nahla was laying on her back on a blanket on the floor and I laid Bella beside her. And in a moment that still makes me tear up - Bella grabbed Nahla's little hand and held on tight. And that is how it's been ever since. Whenever Bella is having a really rough go of it - like the time she was the ONLY girl in her class NOT invited to a certain someone's birthday party - she wants Nahla. And Nahla is the same way.

Bella is my creative genious. My artsy-fartsy little girl who will one day run a fashion house that will surely rival that of her idol - Coco Channel. Bella's mantra is "Rules-Schmools!!" Who needs to learn their multiplication facts when you have a calculator? Bella is the kid who comes home from school with 7 out of 10 spelling words correct on the test and will say "I know -way to go me. 7 right! Wo-HOOO!" That's my Bella. The things that would upset Hermione and I - like getting a 70 on a spelling test - roll right off her back. However - leave her out of a game, tell her that she's stupid or her idea is dumb - or horror of all horrors that she is a bad artist - and you devastate her. Nahla on the other hand is a whole different kind of gal. Getting a 70 on a spelling test would DEVASTATE Nahla. Not understanding long division IMMEDIATELY upon explanation gets her panties in a wad. However - Nahla is not one to crumble under peer pressure or criticism the way Bella can. Nahla can wait to do her crumbling in private whereas Bella puts it all out there for everyone to see. Nahala is going to be the CEO and COO of "House of Bella Fashion Design". Bella will be the creative genious and Nahla will reign her in and keep her from going broke. And Bella has planned it out this way. She and Bella will share all of the profits 50/50 so that Nahla can run a horse farm on the side while Bella runs a "Baby Orphanage" where she takes care of babies and gives them away to people who want them. (We can chat about the legalities of this particular arrangements at a later date.) I tease and terrify Hermione when I say that I have no doubt that Bella will be the one who teaches Nahla how to shimmy down a drainpipe with a lit cigarettte in her mouth while never breaking a nail. Hermione counters by telling me that while Bella is doing her lung-endangering, terribly irresponsible acrobatics, Nahla will be firmly planted in the window with 911 already predialed into her cell phone "just in case". These are our girls.

Now you might be thinking that Hermione and I are some sort of controlling and manipulative mothers who are forcing our girls into an artificial friendship. So what if we are? I think there is inherent value in having a friend who has known you forever. Who knows all of your secrets and flaws and loves you anyway. Don't we all need someone like that in our lives? Hermione is that someone for me. I can say anything to her - literally ANYTHING to her - and she listens. She doesn't judge or tell me that I'm wrong or crazy. She just listens. And sometimes she doesn't listen - she simply hears me - there is a big difference. When I preface a statement with "OK, I can only say this to you..." or "I know I'll go to hell for saying this but..." or "I know this is the most awful thing I can say right now..." she hears it. It goes in one ear and out the other - because she knows me. She knows who I am and what I believe in and what I stand for. She knows that I try to be a good person, that I'm trying to grow emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. She also knows that when you hurt me or one of mine - that I'm going to lash out. And that it won't be pretty. In fact - it will be pretty ugly and that I will say the most awful, hurtful and innappropriate thing I can possible think of to get back at you. But I will say it to Hermione - just Hermione. And she will listen, let me rant, and go about her day. She also holds grudges for me - and I do the same for her. Which, is infinitely more healthy than holding our own grudges. When someone hurts Hermione or Nahla - I just want to rip them to shreds. I have no mercy - I want justice - swift and severe. NO EXCEPTIONS. And Hermione does the same for me. We forgive but we don't forget...so it's not all that unlikely to hear one of us saying to the other" "You have to let that go now. I let it go a long time ago." And that is what we want to Bella and Nahla. Who wouldn't want that for their daughters?

I have no doubt that Bella and Nahla will be friends forever. I don't know what that friendship will look like or how it will impact the rest of their lives. I hope it turns out the way Hermione and I want it to - minus the drainpipe moments. I'd like to think that the girls can turn their roadblock into a strength. I hope that they can use one another as a sounding board about their other friends. The person to turn to when you've done something foolish or hurtful to another friend and you need someone completely removed from the situation to tell you how to fix it.

I also have no doubt that Hermione and I will be friends forever - we have to be. I can not imagine my life without her. Of course there have been times when we've wanted to kill each other. There have even been times when we haven't spoken to one another - we've needed a break from one another. But we've gotten past those times - thank God. Hermione and I have reached that stage in our friendship where we know where the bodies are buried. It's a good, comfortable place to be. We know how to soothe each other's hurts, celebrate each other's joys, and talk each other down from the ledge. She knows that my pantry will always have double stuffs and Diet Pepsi. I know that her pantry will always have Diet Coke and some sort of awful candy that she enjoys chewing and occasionally breaking teeth and caps and crowns on. I know never to offer her a hot beverage in the morning. She knows enough to give me coffee or tea in the morning if she needs to tame the savage beast. I know that she talks in her sleep - and that even in sleep - she is Bossy Betty. She knows that I snore and must make a nest of at least 4 pillows around me in order to get to sleep. She knows that when I'm worked up in a lather and I'm screaming mad, that most likely I'm not mad at all - just really, really hurt and wounded. I know that when she says "Whatever" about a person, that person is about to be voted off the island - for good. We love each other's mothers like they are our own. We know exactly how they push our buttons - and ALWAYS defend them when they piss us off. We love each other's siblings and consider them semi-extensions of our own families. I love hearing updates about her nieces and she has enjoyed hearing about every moment of wedding planning with my bro. We still get jealous of each other's other friends. We always have and probably always will. Of course - we'd NEVER admit that to one another. We are waaaay to mature to admit that to one another. But I'll say it - if I wanted to play horse trainer and her lovely pals (who I do truly love and have a great time with) wanted to play American Girl Dolls and Hermione decided to play American Girl Dolls with THEM - I'd be devastated and complain bitterly to PC. And while he would probably mix a nice martini to try to soothe me - he probably wouldn't be successful. The only thing that could soothe me would be Hermione calling me and asking me to come over and play with her for a few hours - just the two of us. I would pretend to look at my busy schedule and then begrudgingly agree to come over for a little while. And by the time I had my feet inside the door and my toys unpacked - I would have forgotten the slight and be enjoying every precious moment with MY BFFWLMTB. (You hear that other girls? She might be YOUR BFF - but she's MY Best Friend Who Loves ME The Best!!!!!!!!!!!)

I love you Miss Granger!!!!!
Professor McGonegall

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rules to Live By.....

Well - the big day was - in a word - EXTRAORDINARY! It truly was a scene out of a fairy tale - a beautiful, glowing bride, a handsome, happy groom and a setting to rival anything Hollywood could have EVER come up with. My brother and new sister had a beautiful day and those who were there felt priveledged to witness the beginning of what promises to be a very happy and loving family.

I don't know if it's today's society, my age and the age of those around me or what - but it seems like every time I turn around, I hear about another couple divorcing., separating or just going through a "rough time". PC and I have been married for 11 years - next Saturday. In November, we will have been together 18 years. (Yes, I know - it took him a LONG time to decide that he liked it enough to put a ring on it. What can I say? He's a slow mover.) As the years go by - or fly by as it seems lately - it's incredibly sad to see families on the verge of disaster and collapse. It's awful to watch people that you actually know and care about going through that long, torturous process of dissolving a marriage and a life. That's why my brother's wedding was such a joyous occasion. The sheer look of happiness and joy on his face was so utterly pure and beautiful that I know I will cherish and remember that look until my dying day. That look also makes me know - down to the core of my very being - that these two will be ok. They will be able to weather the storms that come their way. No one tells you, when you're standing up there looking perfect, in the "dream" dress on the arm of your handsome prince that there will, indeed, be storms. And that the handsome prince will sometimes act like the village idiot. And that his beautiful bride will sometimes, behave more like a shrew in need of a bit of taming. It all looks so rosy and perfect from the altar - doesn't it?

As PC and I have been salivating over the bride and groom's honeymoon plans and the few photos that have come our way from paradise - we've been playing this little game called:
"Welcome to REAL Married Life!!!" This is how it goes:

Every time we feel bad about how WE'D LOVE to be relaxing pool and oceanside this week in paradise - we invent a scenario to throw the newlyweds into to "test" their newborn marraige. So - for example - the other night, as Jack and Bella were fighting AGAIN about whose turn it was to play Wii, we thought up this little scenario: Let's send Jack and Bella to paradise and have them surprise their uncle and auntie at the hotel. We would send them after having just exposed one to a stomach bug and the other to...oh let's say...strep throat. Now THAT would be a test for a marriage! And as the week has progressed - our scenarios have become more elaborate. Now we're feeling that we really and truly DESERVE to be relaxing poolside - so the ante is being raised every day. Yesterday in fact I came up with a scenario that would test even the most SOLID of marriages. Here goes:

It is December 18th. Child one is performing in the Nutcracker all weekend and MUST attend EVERY dress rehersal - or she will not be allowed to perform - NO EXCEPTIONS. This child is currently vomiting and running a fever and is due at dress rehersal in 30 minutes. Child number two runs into the bathroom where you are trying to convince child number one that she's not truly sick and just really nervous - and tells you that his school project is due TOMORROW. This project involves the construction of an entire indian village out of recycled materials and/or edible materials. Child number two also informs you that if he/she does NOT hand in this project on time - he will be docked a letter grade and that - oh, by the way - he's sort of failing this class - so this project has really got to be spectacular. As you are counting to ten and trying to put child number one's hair in a bun for dress rehersal while she heaves over the puke pot, the dog has explosive gastro-intestinal issues all over the dining room carpet. It is at this point that your spouse shows up - fresh from work - asking either a) What's for dinner b) Why the house is so messy or c) starts to complain about his/her "day from hell". I am also going to add in either a broken dryer or dish washer to stir the pot. And because I am a total sadistic bitch - I'm going to throw a dead pet goldfish in there as a zinger.

Oh yeah - it all looks good from the altar and the pool, kids. Good luck in real life.

And what is so funny about that scenario is that all of that has either happened to me or one of my girlfriends at some point in the past year. How messed up is that????? And I know that some of you will be reading this thinking; "Oh, that's nothing compared to the time that....". That's marriage - that's real life kids! Real marriage is hard, hard, hard - isn't it? I remember my first real big blow-up with PC after we got married. I forget what it was about - but I remember calling my friend Hermione - who knows all of my secrets and loves me anyway - and just going off. I was so mad at him I was going to....going to....going to what? We were MARRIED! I was stuck with this dum-dum for the rest of my freaking life! Oh the agony of not being able to hold anything over his head! This all struck me like a ton of bricks as I was on the phone with my dear friend. I'll never forget her words of wisdom: "Yup - you're married now. It sucks, doesn't it?"

Ahhh - marriage. It takes hard work, patience and a bit of alchohol to make it work. Actually, I really don't know what it takes to make it work. Sometimes I think PC and I just got really, really lucky. When it's all said and done - we like each other at the end of the day. I think that helps. We also have a lot in common - that helps as well. 18 years is a long time to be with someone - the same someone day in and day out. Thankfully, as we've grown - we've grown together and not apart. And we do have a few rules that have kept things humming along here. These rules have been learned the hard way - through real-life experience.

Many people have asked us through the years: "You guys seem really happy together. What's your secret?" As tempted as we are to respond back with witty remarks like: "It's the lovers we keep on the side..." we always just say "We're just lucky, I guess." But I think it's more than luck - it's our marriage rules. So my loyal readers - I have decided to share them with you. Feel free to use them to make your own lives as happy and care free as ours is.

The Busy Momma's Marriage Rules:

1. Whoever coined the phrase "Happy Wife, Happy Life" is a flipping genius. Truer words were never spoken.

2. Never, EVER blame one another should a check bounce. Little known fact - there are gremlins who live inside of your checkbook once you merge finances. These gremlins like to write checks at stores like Dick's Sporting Goods and Best Buy and Ann Taylor. They purposely forget to record these expenditures in your check register. This is because they live off of the energy of your ensuing "Ican't BELIEVE you were this irresponsible..." argument. Do NOT give in to this. Accept and acknowledge the gremlins. And know that they will only strike once in a blue moon - and then move on.

3. Never wake a sleeping child.

4. Unless the house is on fire - never wake a sleeping wife. Especially for anything that YOU might need while in the bed.

5. Speaking of bedroom activities: Boys, listen, learn it and love it: Married sex is like the moon. Throughout the course of your marriage it waxes and wanes. Just because, and I know that this might be unbelievable for some of you, your bride does not feel sexy while lactating, after having been puked on 14 times in one day, after breastfeeding a baby who eats like an internment camp survivor all day and night for what seems like YEARS, when she gains 10 pounds, when she goes back to work or when she fights with her mother, best friend, boss or the kid's teacher, it does NOT mean that she will never want sex again. It just means that right now - at this point in her life - sleep is much more important than anything else. The sex drive WILL come back. The GRUDGE she will hold against you for making her feel bad about not wanting to be a Playboy Bunny every night of the week will last FOREVER.

6. Whoever said "Don't ever go to sleep angry" has obviously never been married. Go to sleep. Many, many things look different in the light of day.

7. Treat each other as friends first and foremost. Never like family. remember - friends don't HAVE to stay by your side forever - family sort of does. Don't say anything to your spouse that you wouldn't say to a friend in the heat of battle. Some things once said, can never be unsaid. (This one each couple must learn the hard way, I'm afraid.)

8. Check your need to be right at the front door. Busy Momma say: He who always needs to win winds up being the biggest loser of them all.

9. Laugh! When the ceiling is leaking, the dryer is breaking, the kids are fighting and the dog is throwing up - what else can you do? Try to see the humor in the ridiculousness of the situation. If you don't - you'll wind up yelling at one another - and that can't lead to anything good.

10. And finally - no matter how long you've been married - try to think back to that day that YOU were beaming as you walked down the aisle or watched your beautiful bride float towards you. Try to bring some of that magic into your life everyday.

A good way for men to do this is to say the following words:

"Honey, when I looked back at our wedding photo today, as I do each and every day of my life, I realized something. While you were such a pretty bride, you have grown and matured into such a stunningly beautiful wife and mother. I realized today that I am so fortunate that you agreed to marry me so many moons ago and I hope that I have lived up to the example of beauty, love and devotion that you have set my darling. Please take these diamond earrings as a sign of my love and devotion to you."

A good way for women to do this is to say the following words:

" Ok, OK - but you have to be finished by the time "The Real Housewives" comes on - ok?"

And with those words of eternal wisdom - I am off to bathe a very stinky 6 year -old boy. Until next time lovies....be safe, enjoy a good glass of wine and a great laugh...