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I’m back

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

Oh my gosh…I’ve been gone so long. I don’t want to bore you with the details, so let me just briefly recap in case anyone has been desperately wondering where Kirsten Sawyer has disappeared to. The one word answer: Mommyland. Since I left you (anxious over the appropriateness of wearing white pants after Labor Day) Baby #1 has officially started the Big K, and Baby #2 is officially a nursery school student. We are talking seriously big business here, folks.

I know what you’re thinking…with all the rugrats out of the house, what did I have to do all day besides blog about the fascinating rituals of packing lunchboxes and driving carpools? Well, let me be the first to tell you…it’s not all peanut butter and jelly sandwich glamor. There was a lot to do on my end, most of it causing me enormous amounts of guilt. The following are just a FEW examples in the long list of items weighing me down.

First, there was Baby #2’s school earthquake kit. As we all know, earthquakes terrify me and so I’ll admit that there was a certain amount of fear that paralyzed me from turning it in for the first couple weeks. When I finally did suck it up and assemble the required items, I was left with another dilemma. The emergency kit consisting of boxed water, some sort of strange energy biscuits and some wet-naps from Baby #1’s nursery school kit sat on my desk begging to be used, but clearly stamped with a date that indicated it will expire six months before Baby #2 graduates. To use it or not to use it? It took me another couple weeks to accept my failure as a mother and use the expired supplies because it was easier than figuring out where to get a new kit. Source of guilt #1: if an earthquake happens to occur during the few hours that Baby #2 is at school after November 2012 he will probably get food poisoning. But then in all honesty, there’s also going to be a bunch of kids forced to wear sneakers that were purchased two years earlier that probably won’t fit anymore, so a little diarrhea isn’t going to make or break the situation.

Source of guilt #2: my inability to sell wrapping paper. Within hours of school starting, Baby #1 was sent home with a big, glossy packet of overpriced crappy items that she was supposed to sell to family and friends in order to raise money for her school. They must have pep talked them in the classroom because she was ready to hit the pavement and make some sales. Sweetening the deal was a separate glossy brochure highlighting the prizes she could personally earn for making these sales, among them a marshmallow launcher and a personal DVD player. (Can I just sidebar and say what a brilliant business model it is to have adorable children sell your shit and in exchange give them some cheap, certainly lead-laden prizes and throw a few bucks to their school? Brilliant.) I put the order forms on my desk and there they remained peacefully out of sight and out of mind…until the day I realized that I was supposed to turn them in at school. That night, hours before the deadline, I sat online ordering enough wrapping paper to get Baby #1 some sort of prize so that she wouldn’t feel badly about herself when the rest of her class was rewarded for their sales prowess. I will probably never need to buy wrapping paper again.

Yet another example is source of guilt #3: my rejection of AYSO’s many pleas for parental help. Oh yes, that’s right…I not only have kids in school now, I am officially a soccer mom. But, in an effort to maintain my dignity, I am the crabbiest soccer mom sitting on the sidelines. Needless to say, the LAST thing I am going to do is volunteer to staff a snack-bar, set up fields, or organize players on team picture day. Nonetheless, when the desperate e-mails come from parents who actually are volunteering their time and energy to AYSO, I immediately delete them and then feel badly about it. I get over this guilt by reminding myself that the worse case scenario is that nobody volunteers and AYSO shuts down which would mean that next year I won’t have to spend every Saturday between September and December at a soccer field. Ugh…I really am a horrible person!

It has gone on and on like this. I have spent the last month dropping balls and racing to catch up. It has been exhausting! And that is why I have not been lovingly tending to my blog as I should. Seriously, it had been so long since I’d turned my computer on that it had some sort of a personal breakdown and thought it was March 2001! Please accept my apologies. I’m back now.

I might wear white tomorrow

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Happy Labor Day to all. I, personally, am never quite sure if I want to celebrate labor day or not. For me, labor day always brings with it a little confusion and disappointment. Don’t worry – I’m not still wallowing in my back-to-school depression. Okay, I am still wallowing in it, but I’m not writing about it today. The source of my confusion and disappointment is over what to wear. Traditionally, post labor day means it’s time to put those open-toed shoes and white pants away until after Easter Sunday…but is that really necessary?

I remember in an early draft of Not Quite a Bride (you’ve read it, right?), I had Molly wearing sandals to a New Year’s Eve party. To my New York-based agent, this was enough of a faux pas to warrant a note that read “nobody wears sandals after labor day” and Molly’s shoe description needed to be rewritten. Mea culpa! Here in Los Angeles, though, we have weeks – if not months – of post-labor day warm weather ahead of us and sandals still feel like a good choice. Perhaps to the fashionistas on the east coast, California girls are year-round, Birkenstock-wearing hippies, but I know plenty of stylish non-Birkenstock wearing girls who shun the sandal rule.

And what about wearing white? Well, for this I did a little research and “winter whites” in appropriate fabrics are completely acceptable. Apparently the white issue becomes about the fabric. I suppose my white linen pants will have to stay in the closet, but white jeans are okay. I can handle some compromise – although my linen pants are far more flattering than the¬† jeans. And what about wearing sandals with the fabric appropriate white pants? Is that just offensive? Like wearing too many trends at the same time?

This really can be confusing!

For today, I will be wearing my white linen pants for their final showing of the season and definitely sandals since the forecast predicts a warm day…plus I have a cute hot pink pedicure that it feels wrong to cover up. Tomorrow will be officially “after labor day,” and it will be a decision I’ll have to make. At least with fall comes suede and with winter comes velvet to take my mind off the seasonally inappropriate items forced into hibernation somewhere in the back of my closet.

I am not myself

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Please forgive me for being such a Debbie Downer lately – I am just not myself. The reason for my suffering is not the fact that for nearly two weeks we have had at least one sick child in the house (yes, I’m including Hubby #1 as a child) or the fact that the temperature has finally spiked and it feels as miserable as August is supposed to feel, or even that the freshman season of Bethenny Getting Married is over. No, the reason for my heartache is that in less than four weeks, Baby #1 will start Kindergarten.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking…four weeks is a long time away. Touch√©. But what can I say? The heart feels what it feels, and right now my heart feels miserable that my baby is starting school! It’s not just the nagging thought that in four weeks my child starts kindergarten. It’s the thought that immediately follows – in thirteen years and four weeks my child will leave for college. In between now and then, she’ll just keep growing and growing and growing…and I don’t like it one little bit!

Adding to my emotional anguish is the fact that starting kindergarten also means leaving the nursery school that she has been going to since we started mommy-and-me four years ago. Leaving the hallowed sandbox and the ever present play-dough scent behind means that the last bit of her baby self will also be left behind. Sniff, sniff.

Really, I never thought I’d be this mom. I’ve never cried on her birthdays. I wasn’t upset when she started nursery school. In the past, I’ve embraced each new step with excitement and enthusiasm. Seriously, I didn’t even cry at the graduation from the beloved nursery school!

Naturally, I did what any girl in my shoes would do would do. (No, not order home school supplies! That would be ridiculous…right?) I sought some relief with a little retail therapy. I mean, who do you think all these back-to-school sales are meant to cheer up? It’s us mothers, but as much as I hate to admit it, it hasn’t helped that much. One $54 pink and purple rolling satin backpack, an $18 matching lunch box, a $10 coordinating snack bag, a $19 Hello Kitty Sigg cup, and $40 worth of hot pink name labels later and I’m still broken hearted.

My next attempt to keep devastation at bay is to prolong the nursery school experience as long as possible. So, although this Friday marks the end of the school year, I have signed her up for the three additional offered “bonus camp days,” to keep the good times rolling a little while longer. What can I say, I’m not one to just rip a band-aid off. I am one to leave it hanging on until it finally falls off on its own and leaves a trail of sticky black yuck on my skin. I know that “bonus camp days” are only postponing the inevitable, but what else can I do?

I’m sure it will be fine. I know we have plenty of good times ahead of us. I know that in the next four weeks she is certain to throw a tantrum that will have me wishing for her maturity instead of dreading it. But for now, I move forward with a heavy heart. Perhaps some shopping for new school clothes will do the trick? Perhaps if the clothes are for me…

I need a plan

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Earlier this week, I found myself potentially facing a situation I’d only been exposed to on the evening news. It began mid-morning when I started hearing a helicopter circling over my house. At first I didn’t pay much attention. Then the circling got more frequent and the helicopter got closer…so close, in fact, that the pictures on the walls started to shake and I thought for a minute that by strange coincidence we were having an earthquake at the exact moment a helicopter was hovering over my roof. I started to wonder what was going on.

During my years at USC, hearing helicopters circling overhead was the norm, but here in my peaceful suburban neighborhood the only frequent noise is that of lawn mowers and weed whackers. I tried peeking out the windows, at first to no avail, but then I finally spotted the source of the disturbance – a big helicopter with a bright red tail. Also, was it my imagination or did it look a bit smoky outside? And was that ash on my car or good old fashioned dust? I started to wonder if there might be a problem.

Then, I walked to the other side of my house and smelled smoke. The smell was pretty strong, and I realized that something was going on, and it was going on close to me. I flipped on the KCAL local news, the only local news on at the time, but they didn’t have a reporter standing by interviewing people determined to stay in their homes and fend off flames with their garden hoses. So, I went online to ABC7.com, but again, didn’t find any “breaking news” about a fire. I was starting to feel a bit panicky – and a bit confused. I Googled fires in my neighborhood and nothing turned up. Clearly there was a fire, but nobody seemed to know about it. Could I be the only person aware of this potential threat?

I called Hubby #1 at work.

“I think there’s a fire in our neighborhood,” I told him. “What should I do.”

Now, as I think I’ve mentioned, minus the day of the Brazilian Blowout parallel universe, Hubby #1 is always the voice of reason. After a quick look at the internet that was far more productive that mine, he informed me that sure enough there was a brush fire quite close to our home. Since he tends to know what to do and when to do it, when he told me I should probably start to collect the things we would need in case of an evacuation, I jumped on it. But then I paused.

“What am I supposed to bring?” I asked suddenly feeling pretty stupid for not having a plan.

My BFF, who recently moved home to California after a decade in NYC had once mentioned something called a Grab Bag, presumably a post-9/11 preparation that New Yorkers are supposed to have. The problem was that all she had said about the Grab Bag was that her friend was upset she couldn’t find hers because it had $500 in it. So, besides $500, what does one put in a Grab Bag?

I started to make my way through the house. I readied my laptop, jewelry box, and both our still and video cameras. I put them by the front door. I also collected whatever cash I could find from around the house. Then I had to stop and think. What else? Photo Albums? They could definitely fall under the category of unreplaceable…but they were so heavy, and as I’ve explained there are ten steps to get to and from my house. How many trips with heavy photo albums was I prepared to make without having been warned of actual imminent danger? Not to mention our glossy (and most definitely fragile – and heavy) new iMac which has all our photos safely stored somewhere deep inside it… Yes, evacuation was starting to seem like more and more work. Plus, I had Baby #2 with me who is deep in the throes of his terrible twos which means that cooperating and listening aren’t exactly his strong suits.

I called Hubby #1 back.

“This is going to be a lot of work,” I said. I realized that when it came to saving our most prized possessions that my laziness shouldn’t be a factor, but come on…ten steps.

“Why don’t you drive around, find a firefighter and ask, ” the brilliant voice of reason suggested.

Perfect. Taking Baby #2 and Dog #1 on an information seeking mission made much more sense than trying to get my wedding china to the car without breaking it. So, we loaded up and quickly found more fire trucks, engines, hoses and gear than Baby #2 could ever ask to see. The child was downright delirious as I approached a firefighter who didn’t look much older than Baby #1 and asked if we needed to prepare to evacuate.

“No, I think this fire is pretty much contained,” he told me.

He thought it was contained or it was contained? Perhaps from a firefighter old enough to have a beer after work I would have felt more confident, but the truth was that the sky had returned to a perfect shade of blue and the sounds of the helicopter had faded away. So, I returned home and put all my valuables away. I was lucky. I’d been given the opportunity to learn the lesson the easy way. I need a plan…and I need a well stocked Grab Bag. It should be something light and easy to carry down ten steps. I can put it next to the four cans of black beans and canned salmon that were intended to become a well-stocked earthquake kit in preparation for the long predicted Big One. I guess planning is just not my thing.

I went Brazilian

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Last week I told Hubby #1, “I’m getting a Brazilian Blowout.”
He looked at me with a goofy grin and giggled.
“Northern Brazil, not Southern,” I corrected. “It’s a hair straightening thing.”
The goofy grin went away, the giggling stopped, and he rolled his eyes.

That he didn’t care much that my hair would be transformed from its natural, wavy-frizzy state into a sleek, smooth, perfect coif didn’t deter me. I was quite excited. I knew lots of people who’d had it done, and everyone (everyone) loved the results.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t deterred, but I was definitely apprehensive. As we all know, decisions make me nervous and even though the style only lasts a few months, the semi-permanence of it was definitely freaking me out. I mean, what if I didn’t like it? What if the next day I decided that huge, curly hair was the look for me? After countless days of wonky bangs after having been in the pool though, I decided to be brave and go for it.

So, I scheduled the appointment with a highly recommended man named Gui who actually came from Brazil. To him, this was just a regular old blowout I told myself. It was going to be fantastic. Then, Sunday morning, moments before Gui arrived at my house to perform the transformation, Hubby #1 asked me the fateful question:

“Have you done any research on this?”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “I know lots of people who’ve had it done.”
“But have you done any research? A woman in Brazil died.”

What was this? Opposite day?? It was ME who was supposed to be afraid of everything and Hubby #1 who was supposed to be the voice of reason. It was ME who refused to let us brush our teeth with Crest because I once read online that it caused cancer and HE was supposed to be the one who told me not to worry. Panic grabbed my heart at the exact moment the doorbell rang. Gui was here, it was too late…I was about to have beautiful hair even if it killed me.

I texted my BFF (and Brazilian Blowout survivor) the entire time and she reassured me I would be fine, but I couldn’t calm down. I think I was probably having a mild panic attack for the entire procedure which was exacerbated by the panic that it was the formaldehyde fumes killing me and not plain old fear that were responsible for my sweating palms, racing heart and spinning head. I managed to get through the process without anything tragic happening, and when Gui left me with instructions not to wet my hair for two full days, it really did look extraordinarily glamorous. I, however, was unable to enjoy the glamour because I felt quite certain I could feel the formaldehyde soaking into my head, through my skull, and embalming my brain.

That night, I was afraid to go to bed for fear that my Brazilian Blowout would kill me in my sleep. Instead I stayed up ridiculously late reading every Brazilian Blowout horror story the internet had to offer. In reality, there weren’t that many.

Monday morning, I woke up feeling slightly more relaxed, but I’d made a decision. The Brazilian Blowout had to go. So, a full 24 hours before Gui had instructed me to, I washed my hair. I washed my hair in lukewarm water with all doors open since the woman who died in Brazil was supposedly killed by formaldehyde fumes in her hot, steamy bathroom days after her blowout was done.

The result is that my hair is slightly sleeker and smoother than before, but a bit of the wave has returned a bit limper than it was before. Although I am well aware that I literally washed hundreds of dollars done the drain, I’m feeling more relaxed about the chemicals seeping into my brain. My Brazilian Blowout was beautiful while it lasted – about 22 hours. Yes, that’s a bit shy of the 2-4 month estimate, but in reality, I think one day of terror-inducing glamour is probably all I can take.

I am a cheater

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

I am completely ashamed of my behavior, but I have to admit – I am a cheater. The cheatee is the lovely esthetician who has been dying my brows and lashes from their natural translucent blonde color to a more visible brown for almost two and a half years.

Our relationship began days before Baby #2 was born. I needed a brow and lash tint ASAP so that I would look presentable in the post-birth photos that would grace the pages of our family album for all future generations to see. I certainly didn’t want my great, great, great, great-grandchildren gasping in horror at their brow and lashless ancestor. When I called Salon #1 to make the appointment, but my usual esthetician, Girl #1, was not available. While I am normally a patient person (yeah, right), the baby was coming and I didn’t have time to wait for her…so I took an appointment with Girl #1A. I didn’t feel guilty of cheating at this point because I’d only been to Girl #1 a few times, plus she was the owner of the salon so she’d still be making money from me whether or not she was the one to actually do the job. Perhaps this was the wrong choice and perhaps karma really is a bitch because the appointment did not go well. Some sort of a snafu/misunderstanding with the brow dye left me with heavy, dark, Graucho Marx brows.

Girl #1A felt horrible and swore that the dye would wash off my skin in a couple days. Horrified, but maintaining my composure, I headed home hoping that Baby #2 would wait to make his entrance into the world until my face situation was under control. That night, when Hubby #1 got home, I showed him the disaster that were my brows. (It should be mentioned at this point that he is not, nor has he ever been, in favor of my monthly dye job, claiming that he prefers my au naturel face…ahhh, so sweet…but get real!)

“The brows aren’t really that bad,” he said, sounding uncharacteristically sympathetic.

“Really?” I asked feeling hopeful that things really weren’t as bad as they looked in the mirror at the salon.

“But your lashes are horrible. They’re blue.”

“What?!?” I shrieked and ran to the bathroom.

Sure enough, there were navy blue lashes framing my eyes. I had been so distraught over the dark brows that I had failed to even notice the lashes. My whole face was a disaster, the baby was days away, and all future generations would think they came from clown stock. The situation was so bad that I, Queen Wimp, called the salon the first thing the next morning and insisted they squeeze me in for whatever correction could happen. Thankfully, by the time Baby #2 arrived, I was in okay shape.

So, you would think with all that happened that I would have taken it as a sign from the Salon Gods that I should return to Girl #1, but I didn’t. I decided that I liked Girl #1A. She was so nice and apologetic about the mistakes that I had no choice but to forgive her, and then prove to her that she really was forgiven by going back again and again. We never had another issue…the color was perfect from then on…and all was well.

Then why, you ask, would I go behind her back and cheat on her? Well, it comes down to laziness. Our move last October shifted me a whopping 6.2 miles from Salon #1. I made the trek for almost eight months, but it was starting to wear me down. Then I got a postcard in the mail for a new salon, Salon #2, that is a much more manageable 3.01 miles from my house. I know! I’m a whore to save three miles of driving…although, it’s saving six miles roundtrip – I’m just saying. And, I hate to admit, I really do, but I’m happy at Salon #2. (I hate even more to admit that Girl #2 does a better job for for less money.)

I wondered if I needed to officially break-up with Girl #1, but because I am Queen Wimp, I will forever avoid the official relationship ending conversation. I do feel really guilty though! She’s so nice and she always did such a good job (from the second time on). Honestly, I think she would understand because she’s THAT nice. I hate that she’s being punished because I have an aversion to traveling outside a five mile radius from my home. Really, it’s not her, it’s me! I am a dirty, rotten, no-good cheater…with beautiful brows and lashes.

I am the good cop

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

There is a tricky dynamic at play in our home. I can’t say for sure if it’s man vs. woman, mars vs. venus, evil vs. good, or simply Hubby #1 vs. Kirsten, but what it comes down to is that under our roof, there is a bad cop (Hubby #1) and there is a good cop (yours truly). This means that if there is a misbehaving child, I negotiate rewards for good behavior and get no reaction, and he can scowl slightly and suddenly rooms are clean, teeth are brushed, and all arguing ceases. Sure there are times when I wish I wielded the power of being the bad cop, but inherently, I dislike the confrontation and I hate to disappoint anyone.

99% of the time, the balance works well. Occasionally though, the system fails miserably. This week was a system failure.

I’m sure we all remember the Great Dining Room Table Search of 2009-2010 and the resulting game of table delivery chicken with Gerard* from Crate and Barrel. Well, I’m happy to share that at long last we decided on a table. Well, what we actually decided was that our ideal table wasn’t out there, so we had it custom made. I know, we’re nuts. And just because we were no longer limited by the design specifications of tables already in existence, didn’t mean that the table acquisition became that much easier. In a way, it made it more complicated. Suddenly we were being confronted with needing to decide details that are already made for you when you buy a pre-made table. How high do you want the table? Uh, regular height. How wide? Um, wide enough to fit pretty centerpieces but not so wide that you have to yell to have a conversation with the person across from you. At long last, after multiple discussions with a furniture maker, one detailed drawing from Hubby #1, and three wood color samples later, the Table of our Dreams was complete.

I arranged for it to be delivered on a Monday (when Hubby #1 was at work). Right on time, the furniture maker and his son arrived at my house. Unfortunately for them, it turned out the be the hottest day of the year. To say the men struggled to get the table up the ten stairs between our driveway and our front door would be an understatement. Each step was agony to them, and I don’t think I’ve seen two people sweat so much before. They carefully placed the table in our dining room and I have to say, I was in awe. It really was everything I ever wanted. It actually made me quite emotional as I explained, with tears in my eyes, to Baby #1 that this would be the table we would be celebrating all the important events of our lives at for ever more. She didn’t seem to get why a piece of wood with legs was so special, but I knew that when Hubby #1 got home that he would share my sentiment. I mean, isn’t having a big dining room table for family and friends to gather part of the American Dream?

Instead, when Hubby #1 got home, he spent about three seconds feeling the love for the table with me, then became fixated on a slight ridge in the table’s finish. After some squinting and adjusting my head, I could see that it was true. With the light a certain way, and holding my head at a certain angle, I too could see the ridge, and I could feel it under my fingers.

“You need to call the furniture maker and ask him to come back and look at this,” Hubby #1 told me.
“What?!? Why me?”
“Because I’m swamped at work all day and you’re here,” he answered.

Crap. He had a good point. So, the next day I called the furniture maker and explained the problem. Then I arranged for him to come back on Saturday, so that Hubby #1 could be there to show him what we were talking about.

On Saturday, he came, and Hubby #1 showed him the slight ridge. He said the only thing he could do would be to take it back to his workshop and refinish the tabletop.

My answer was a resounding, “No, no, no…it’s not that big a deal. We love the table. Thank you for making it. I’m sure we’ll be by to buy lots more furniture from you in the future, and thank you again for coming by to look at it. Would you like a glass of water?”
Unfortunately, before I could get that out, Hubby #1 said, “When can you pick it up?”
“Monday,” was the furniture maker’s answer.

Crap, again. Monday meant that Hubby #1 wouldn’t have to be there…I would. That Monday turned out to be the second hottest day of the year. The furniture maker and his son didn’t seem to have any easier a time getting the table down the ten stairs than they did up. To make matters worse, I had to move my car across the street to clear the driveway for them and as a result, by the time I came back they had started to move the table down the steps which meant that I was trapped in our driveway with nothing to do but stand there watching them struggle and sweat. My guilt was huge. Here I was, the good cop being forced to carry out the bad cop’s orders!

The good news is that I insisted that the table had to be redelivered when the bad cop was on duty. And as luck would have it, I was out getting a lash and brow tint when it came so I didn’t even have to see the furniture maker’s sweaty face. Although, it was a considerably cooler day.

Now, we finally have our beautiful table – although I actually think that minus the ridge it was a tiny bit more beautiful before. Hubby #1 pointed out that I could call the furniture maker to come back and re-do it, but I think we both know that there is no way on earth that that is going to happen – it’s just not what the good cop does.

I have a confession

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

I realize that I am probably going to find myself in front of the firing squad for this one, but here goes…I hate Costco. I have known this for quite some time, but for some reason, every few years I find myself wondering what it is I hate so much about the warehouse store that everyone else seems to love and so I re-visit, only to reconfirm what I knew all along. Costco is a hellhole.

Last week’s hate confirmation was spurred by the fact that I was hosting a party. My BFF, a loyal Coscto member, convinced me that one trip to the great Coscto would make the entire party planning process a cinch. I fell for it. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, and were pleasantly surprised that we quickly found a parking place only a half-mile across the parking lot. After picking up our double-wide cart, she flashed her membership and we were granted access. Almost immediately, my reasons for disliking Costco came back to me, but we were there…and truth be told, I needed the party planning to be a cinch, so for the moment, I kept drinking the Kool-Aid.

We made our way past the tvs and the engagement rings heading towards the booze. I got briefly waylaid by the books table and picked up a paperback en route to the alcohol. Once there, I loaded enough beer for a fraternity party into my cart. On we went, putting massive amounts of food and drink into the cart as we went. Around each corner, we were met with sample stations peddling bite-sized portions of highlighted items. We snacked and strolled. The whole place was at the intersection of fascinating and horrifying. I mean, it’s incredibly cool to see a vat of mayonnaise big enough for my children to swim in, but you see something like that and the cold, hard reality of why Americans are so overweight hits like a ton of…well, mayonnaise.

“This place is a hellhole,” I confirmed to my BFF as I loaded twenty pounds for $10 of the dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets I usually buy my children for $7 a serving at a local restaurant.
“What are you talking about?!? Look at all the great stuff you’ve gotten!” she motioned to my cart full of beer, chicken nuggets, a barrel of hummus and a crate of raspberries.
“Okay, fine,” I conceded. “For having a party it’s okay…but for real life, it’s ridiculous.”
“No, no,” she insisted. “It’s great. I only have to buy toilet paper twice a year.”

This was her argument? For me, buying toilet paper isn’t that big of a deal. In fact, I kind of like it because it’s an excuse to go to Target and buy cool stuff that I don’t need. If she told me that coming to Costco meant that I would only have to shave my legs twice a year, I’d seriously consider membership, but simply to buy a massive amount of tp? No thanks.

“Seriously?” I asked her, giving her a chance to come up with a good reason.
“What about the samples?” she challenged.
“You’re right,” I conceded. “If you want a slice of free sausage, this is the place to come.”
She remained loyal, and continued on the defensive. “If you have eight kids, you have to shop here,” she told me.
“Do you know anyone with eight kids?” I asked.
Silence.

We stepped up to the check-out and got at the end of a line worthy of a Disneyland ride. At last our turn came and we heaved our super-sized selections onto the conveyor belt. Once again, she flashed her membership card – God-forbid somebody sneaked in and tried to buy seven thousand olives without having paid the $50 annual membership. I swiped my credit card through the machine…but there was a problem. It turned out that only the member was allowed to charge things at Coscto. So, BFF, stepped up and slipped her Amex into the machine. My items were loaded into cardboard boxes and we headed towards the exit past offerings of garage doors and caskets.

I realize I’m alone. All my friends are card carrying members. They all gush on and on about the wonderful deals on high quality products. Blah, blah, blah. Even Bethenny, my newest reality tv obsession had an on-air love affair with Costco! But seriously, we’ve all seen her apartment. Where is she going to store a million rolls of Charmin and ten gallons of hearts-of-palm?

“Admit it, you had fun,” BFF cornered me as we filled the trunk of my SUV.
“Of course I had fun,” I had to be honest. “Who wouldn’t have fun where you can buy a swingset, lobster tails, and tampons in the same place?”
She looked triumphant.
“But I’m never coming back!”
She looked deflated.

Whew. There it is. The truth is out and it’s like a weight has been lifted off my chest. I know what you’re thinking…hating Costco is un-American. It’s like hating apple pie (which I’m really just so-so on) or hating butterflies (which I actually do like – I swear). I’m sure in a couple years I’ll start to doubt myself again. By then, I’ll probably be out of dinosaur chicken nuggets, and maybe by then the almighty Coscto will have stocked up on some industrial sized product that means I’ll only have to shave my legs twice a year…and that’s when I’ll join.

I had a near-death experience

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

My get-in-shape plan has, quite literally, not been a downhill climb.

As I’ve mentioned before, we live at the top of a fairly steep hill. I have had the misfortune of walking up it a few times (refer to the I hate it when my kid calls my bluff post from February 20, 2010), and each time I’ve been met with a sharp, stinging sensation in my chest when I breathe. For some reason though, after doing the Body by Bethenny DVD once (and still having sore muscles as a result), I thought that, perhaps, I was now in good enough shape to hike our hill. Seriously, hike is the proper verb – “walk,” doesn’t properly explain the incline I’m talking about.

I decided to get a second opinion before I did anything rash.

me to Hubby #1, “Do you think I’ll die if I push Baby #2 up our hill in the stroller?”

Hubby #1 (quite confidently), “No.”

Okay, there I had it – reassurance that my life was not at risk. So, this morning I loaded Baby #2, a big bottle of water, my iPhone, garage door opener, keys, and a cup of blueberries (for him) into the stroller and got ready to head out. I just want to be very clear at this point that the kid, the stroller and all the stuff meant that I was heading out with about 50 lbs. in front of me. The first thing I realized was that getting the stroller down the hill was harder than I had expected. I had to hold on really tight and it forced me to walk in a gait that made my feet feel like they were going to shoot through the fronts of my cute pink Nikes. I tried to hold the leash like strap that is attached to the stroller handlebar, but the stroller kept veering off to the side and bumping into the curb when I did this, so I had to risk my shoes and just hold on. We got to the bottom of our hill in one piece. So far, so good.

It was at this moment that I made what I believe was a potentially fatal mistake. Instead of going left, where the walk would have been slightly uphill, I went right…and therefore kept going downhill. I kept going down, enjoying the lovely walk until I got quite a long way down and realized that now I had a long, long way up to go in order to go home. I felt a little panicked and tried to figure out my options. Call Hubby #1 at his office to come pick me up (afterall, it was sort of his fault that I was in this predicament)? Ask one of the many gardeners I passed to give me a ride? Make Baby #2 get out of the stroller, abandon it at the side of the road, and make him walk himself home? None of the options were good…Hubby #1 wouldn’t have come, I was too embarrassed to ask a gardener, and Baby #2 wasn’t wearing any shoes. I had no choice but to suck it up and go the distance.

I’m not going to lie to you…it was extremely painful. My legs, still sore from Bethenny’s workout, were in agony. My chest stung with every breath. The stroller seemed to be getting heavier and heavier. And was it me, or did the temperature suddenly go up 15 degrees? Finally I made it up the hill. For a few brief moments it was touch and go. Most of the way up, I cursed Hubby #1 for letting me believe that I could do this. I also wondered if, perhaps, he’d taken life insurance out on me. I worried that when I passed out that the stroller would roll back down the hill and that I, with my right wrist securely through the leash strap, would be drug along behind it.

At last, we reached home. The final leg of our journey – our own hill, being the steepest and most difficult part of the climb. Adding insult to injury was the fact that when we made the final turn to go up our hill, Baby #2 recognized his surroundings and started complaining that he did not want to go home. He whined about it the entire way up our hill. When we finally made it to our house and I pushed the stroller inside the garage, he refused to get out, demanding, “Again!” and “More walk!” I was seeing yellow and orange spots in front of my eyes and was breathing so hard that I could barely swallow the water I was drinking. Instead, I turned into one of those marathon-running fitness freaks who spits water out. In reality though, his refusal to cooperate served me well because it meant that I could sit down and rest for a few minutes before climbing the ten steps to our front door.

At last, he gave up and I regained enough energy to make it inside, completely debunking the myth that exercise energizes a person and giving me serious reason to doubt my whole “get in shape” plan.

I can have my cake and eat it too

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Last week I found myself face-to-face with yet another denim crisis. Thankfully this time didn’t include shredding fabric; it was far less permanent, but it was legitimate nonetheless…they were too tight. I had managed to squeeze into them first thing in the morning and blamed the snugger than usual fit on the fact that they’d just come out of the drier. By mid-day though, when the drier induced shrink should have been stretched out, they were still too tight…so tight, in fact, that I had to unbutton them when I sat down! This definitely was more than some drier shrinkage. The jeans – my third favorite pair (with the heart shaped pockets on the butt) – were too small. Hmmm…apparently my current plan of eating everything and doing nothing was not working.

I needed to figure something out that would yield immediate results with little or no effort from me. My first thought were those Fit Flop shoes. They seemed like the perfect plan…I mean, I have to walk around anyway, so I might as well get in shape while I do it. The problem is that I’m not so sure they actually work. Every time I see a pair of feet in them, I plan to ask the owner how well they work, but 100% of the time it is perfectly clear that they do not work. The only toned legs I’ve ever seen attached to the sandals are the ones on the billboard. Back to the drawing board.

Next, I went to amazon.com (where you can buy Not Quite a Bride and Not Quite a Mom if you haven’t yet…hint, hint) and bought Naturally Thin – how to Unleash Your Skinnygirl and Free Yourself from a Lifetime of Dieting, by Bethenny Frankel. Sounded perfect…skinny without dieting. Screw the Fit Flops, this was the plan for me. In the past few weeks, Bethenny Frankel had pushed Tori Spelling out of the #2 position on my list of favorite reality stars (Cortney Novogratz remains in the #1 slot). Even I was surprised by this since during the last season and even the beginning of this season of Real Housewives of New York City, I was a loyal member of Team Kelly, but something about her Virgin Islands breakdown combined, perhaps, with Bethenny’s legitimate success (as opposed to the wannabe success I’d considered her to have during the show’s first two seasons) made me look beyond her ridiculously rectangular face and completely fake boobs and made me decide that the girl knows her shit.

Two days later, the book arrived on my doorstep. I eagerly sat down with a homemade chocolate brownie in hand and the book in the other, ready to begin the unleashing process. At the moment, I’m only about 35 pages in to her 300 page instruction manual, but I have to say, she makes some good points – my diet really is like a bank account! I also bought the Body by Bethenny DVD which I fully intend on removing from the shrink wrap in the next 1 – 2 weeks. In a similar, but far less devoted style than Julie Powell, I will keep you posted on how my dying-to-get-out Skinnygirl is doing. For now, I’m pondering rule #2: You can have it all, just not all at once. I can have my brownie, and eat it too…I just can’t have it ala mode? Interesting thought…stay tuned.