Category Archives: For Laughs

Why I Overcompensate. Even Though the Size of My Hands Is Irrelevant. Join Me.

I wanted my first post-election blurb to be something meaningful that finds the light amidst the fear. Like Stephen Colbert (and this is where the similarities in our comedic ability end because that man is a GENIUS), I am struggling to give voice to what needs to be done and said without invoking even more fear. As Bernie said, “Indulging fear generates hate.” That might be what got us here to begin with.

Marianne Williamson has urged for years that instead of lamenting organized hate, we need to organize love. I believe that is true on a community as well as on a personal level. Here’s what I’m planning to do.

My white friends have long known that it makes me MENTAL when Asian people act like jerks. They look at me bemused while I rail that it’s completely unfair that some people who look like me run around, doing inconsiderate things and generally acting like doofuses. I complain that these actions have consequences for me, despite the fact I was born and raised in this country (and generally only act like a doofus behind closed doors, at least on purpose). They assure me that people definitely don’t think this, and that my fears are unfounded. Here’s what I know now, for sure. They don’t think that, but many people do.

I am very American, and as Jon Stewart mentioned during the campaign, white people don’t get a monopoly on loving their country. It’s my country too and I would choose it over the country of my biological parents ANY DAY.

While I was talking to a good friend (who happens to be a white woman), she divulged in a fit of frustration (and through gritted teeth), “I am SO embarrassed that there were white women who voted for Trump. Now people who don’t know me think I might be an a$$hole.” The dark humor of it is that she and I now share this common experience. So I told her what I have been doing ever since I was in high school.

I overcompensate. I do my best to be the funniest, most considerate, most conscientious, most emotionally intelligent person that looks like me you’ve ever known. Because there will always be a population that just doesn’t get it until they know me. I learned this when I was chosen for Girls’ State in high school by the American Legion Auxiliary.  I remember being taken aback by the emotional conviction in the voice of the sweet 70-something woman whose husband likely served in the Vietnam war. She grasped my hand in both of hers and said “You’re SO American.” What took my breath away was not that she said it; it was that she was amazed it was coming out of her mouth but felt compelled to say it. Thinking about that experience still gives me hope today. If someone with a history like that can find it in her heart to see me by the color of my heart and not my skin, then damn it, there’s got to be hope. It’s not fair that I have to try harder, but if I’m going to be the emotional grown up in the room, then I should. And if you still hate me, well then that’s all on you, sweetie.

This is not the situation I wanted. But it’s an opportunity (Yes, it’s in the midst of crisis. I’m talking about hope, I’m not blind). Want to know what someone’s made of? Throw them in the middle of a crappy situation and see what happens. SEE SOMEONE GOING LOW? Take Michelle Obama’s advice. GO HIGH. GO VERY HIGH.

So here’s what I pledge. I pledge to keep an eye out for people behaving badly. And I pledge not only to out them (we can only address the darkness by bringing it to the light), but I will go high. Very high.

MLK said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I believe that. When the arc of this decision catches up with all of us, I’m going to make damn sure my nose is clean.

I invite you to join me.

The G Spot

Ahh, the most wonderful time of the year. When kids go back to school and we start a different routine. The routine that comes with the lure of a regular schedule. And the drain of it.

I forget this every year, but it needs to be said. My kids’ sleep gets really disrupted by the start of school. Each night, we work on getting them to bed at the regular time, especially since now we know that they have a full day of school to contend with the next day (and with core curriculum it’s not like they get a chance to breathe as they go from one thing to the next on the schedule).

But here’s the thing. They can’t always fall asleep. Even when they’re in bed. And their teeth are brushed. And we’ve had stories. And they have warm pajamas. If you were ever a desperate, sleep deprived mom who couldn’t get her infant to sleep, you may have read Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child by Marc Weissbluth. It’s a good book, but it didn’t work for my first. My second, she was a dream sleeper. She was sleeping way before I figured out that my older had sensory processing issues (caused by B.S. food!) that were making it impossible for his little nervous system to calm the f*ck down.

What I learned from Weissbluth is that the magic sleep time is not exactly the same every night. You’ve got to watch for cues. And if you miss the cues, your kid gets overtired, and then they can’t fall asleep. And the cues can come anywhere from 5 minutes to 45 minutes from the regular designated sleep time. Here’s what that translates to for me. It’s a frikkin’ sleep G-spot! And some nights you know it’s there, but you just can’t get relief. You keep going back to the well, and it’s dry. A little to the left, a little faster, a little slower…nope. Just not gonna happen. Those nights, just ride it out until you pass out. And hope you have enough energy to get through the next day. Before you try again.

The End is Nigh!

It’s been more than a month since my last post.  You know why? Because last month was May.

This is why Mother’s Day is in May. It’s a pep rally before you run through the most insane month of the school year. It’s like carb loading before the big marathon. And you’d better eat a lot of spaghetti.

May is when all the big projects are due for school. Won’t be doing them in June because – and it’s the truth – the brains start a slow decline once we know it’s the last month of school. The whole month, and I mean every single day, felt like I was running a relay race. Except I was the only one running, so when I finished one length of the race, I got to pass the baton after running full sprint, to myself. Congratu-frikkin-lations, mom.

It’s inappropriate to complain because it’s all great stuff. Graduations celebrating years of work coming to fruition, exhibits and parties honoring the accomplishments of the year, awards and trophies abound. But it’s like drinking water through a fire hose. Water’s great! But I’m full, and I don’t have time to pee. Also, the water kinda hurts.

It’s now June, and the end of the school year cometh. The time is fulfilled. The end is at hand. Time with the kids now becomes prime time, which means I need to get myself in order for the next season. July is when I fully acknowledge how much I appreciate the teacher I just bought that year-end gift, because she didn’t get a break, and she had my kids plus at least 20 others. I’m pretty sure she’s peeing all by herself during the whole month of July though. Lucky, lucky woman.

“No Questions Asked.”

It’s that time of year again when candy is EVERYWHERE.

For us, there are two times when this post is most salient – Halloween and Easter.

We’re getting invitations for Easter egg hunts all this week, and so I’m thinking ahead to what to buy to stuff in those Easter eggs, and also what to do with the candy that comes back inside them.

For stuffing eggs, I love these .

You can fit a few inside each egg and they’re made using organic cane sugar, which means you aren’t dealing with sugar sourced from genetically modified corn (always the cheapest source – ever wonder why conventional candy is so darned cheap?).

So that takes care of my responsibility about what I’m putting out there for our neighborhood kids to eat, but what about what’s coming IN to the house?

Enter the Detroit Gun Buy Back Program, no questions asked. I essentially implemented the same rules as the Detroit Gun Buy Back Program, substituting candy for firearms. Each piece of candy has a monetary value, and their job is to count out the candy, group it, and calculate how much money they will get for it. (I do have one kid with a sweet tooth, so there is also a sub-category of candy where it can be traded on a one-for-one to comparable organic candy.)

My kids get to participate in the hunts alongside their friends, experience the joy of finding and the surprise of opening, but they don’t have to harm themselves eating what’s inside.

As a side note, in my reading about gun buy back programs, one of the gun-activists’ concerns about “no questions asked” as a policy was that criminals might steal guns from other criminals in exchange for cash. The idea of that cracks me up because I love a good schaudenfreude.

If I Ever See…

Right before the 2004 Indonesian tsunami hit, people reported all sorts of strange animal behavior. One of the things that has stayed with me after all this time is how animals who usually have predator and prey relationships were seen side by side, trotting up to higher ground.

Carlos Mencia has this wonderful bit in an old standup routine where he says, “If I EVER see a mouse on the back of a cat, on the back of a dog, on the back of a hyena, on back of a tiger” (or something to that effect because I cannot for the life of me find the clip or it would be here), I AM FOLLOWING THEM.”

A few months ago, I watched a documentary about cancer. I watched all nine episodes, about 13 hours worth. I haven’t made up my mind about whether I am agreed with everything presented, including forgoing chemotherapy, but I gotta say that everything presented with relation to food were conclusions I came to myself in the last three years of research.

Here’s what I found interesting. When you look at the interviewees (biased sample population, I know), they ran the entire social gamut. I mean, we’re talking born again Christians, the kind who will exclaim “Thank you, Jesus!” if they have a good golf swing to really liberal cannabis-loving characters, including one guy who looked to me like an older version Willy Wonka in the Johnny Depp remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This reminds me of the movement against fracking. Very. Strange. Bedfellows.

The one conclusion I have is this: eating organic, non-processed foods and feeding them to my family might not indemnify us from ever getting sick, but I’m not doing anything that’s more likely to knock the pin loose on the grenade in my pocket.

Channeling Debbie Downer

Okay, this post only makes sense if you watched Saturday Night Live years ago. If you didn’t, here’s the Debbie Downer Breakdown

While I was talking to my good friend Linda last week over brunch, she mentioned she needed a new to-go coffee cup and asked me what I use. I noted that her old coffee cup was double walled stainless.

Depending on the quality of stainless, when you put something acidic in it (coffee has more than 200 acids), alloys can be leached from the stainless into your drink. Please never cook tomato sauce in stainless. Use enameled cast iron. Tomatoes are definitely acidic enough to leach alloys. If you are really interested in whether your cup or cookware is reactive, there’s a cool test here: Testing Stainless for Reactivity

“Best to use ceramic,” I told her, and Starbucks has a nice double-walled ceramic cup with a ceramic lid (no plastic). That is what I use, and they put out a nice collection over the holidays. Double Walled Ceramic Tumbler from Starbucks. She grabbed one over the next couple of days and brought it to work. While sporting her snazzy new double-walled ceramic coffee cup, someone commented on it. Trying to be helpful, she told them all about stainless cups and the possibility of leaching. Her co-worker quipped half-jokingly, “I hate you.”

You know what sucks about knowing what I know about food? Whenever I try to give someone information that I hope is helpful, I sound like Debbie Downer. It’s depressing and annoying, but I won’t stop talking about it because people have to know. And because tomato sauce tastes about 350% better when cooked in an enameled cast iron pan, dammit.

To quote Debbie: “Ever since they found mad cow disease in the US, I’m not taking any chances.”

Do you feel the same? Let me know by making a comment!

The Chamber of Secrets

It’s the holidays. And while we are all supposed to be running around being our best selves, doing for others and full of consideration, most people are standing in line, stressed out about the ten thousand things they have to do, grumbling and being kind of…aggressive in their unease.

I don’t know why I’ve never noticed it before, but now when I get into line and the cashier looks up, he or she actually looks frightened. Like I might be the next attacker. Which is sad. Because no one needs to be aggressive while they’re buying yoga clothes or organic cotton pajamas. No one.

Here’s the other group that has it bad this time of year – anyone who has a job taking care of children. This is for the whole gamut – preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, people who work at children’s museums – they all deserve some sort of special employee benefit. Kids on a regular schedule can be tough, but this time of year, with everyone running around and parents all stressed out, they’re even more dis-regulated. Which means teachers have it hard, especially since they’re trying to get these kids to concentrate on a curriculum.

These people need some help. I propose a special employee benefit.

Every few hours, depending on your shift for the day, you get access to “The Room”.

Before entering The Room, you have access to a very small airplane bottle of wine. Not a full glass, a nip. Just enough to take the edge off.

You may then slip on a robe and walk into The Room, where there is ambient lighting and Enya or George Winston are continuously piped in.

Then you climb into a hyperbaric pressurized oxygen chamber for fifteen minutes. The amount of time may be adjusted as appropriate depending on whether a small child has kicked you in the crotch (or for retail workers if someone has screamed in your face because they weren’t loved enough as a child). The Room is soundproof, allowing you to say WHATEVER YOU NEED TO GET OFF YOUR CHEST. Especially if you have been kicked in the groin.

When you are done, you finish off with a shot of wheat grass (or if you didn’t get enough time in the chamber you may have single malt whiskey grass).

And you’re back off to the races.

Rules of the Sandbox

It’s time for a good laugh, and I have the perfect one to share. It involves my daughter, a sandbox, and a fight about a pair of pants.

When my daughter was in preschool she loved to wear dresses. Nothing but dresses. She is my SUPER girly-girl. I mean fierce. I mean like a miniature fabulously flaming gay man.

One morning before school I went into her room and she was wearing a super short dress. Short like it should have been re-purposed as a shirt, which was my intention, but it wasn’t hers. She was wearing this shirt-dress (literally a dress that had become a shirt by then) and her little pink underwear was sticking out of it. She had decided it would be all right to depart the house that way.

I tried the direct route. 

“You cannot wear that dress. It is too short. Put on some leggings.”

“No.”

Okay, let’s go with a practical consideration. 

“Sweetie, it’s colder now that it’s fall. You need leggings or your legs are going to be cold when you’re outside.”

“No. I am not going to be cold. ”

Hmmm. Let’s restate the obvious and see if it takes the second time around. 

“Honey, it is really too short. Please put on some leggings.”

At this point she looked at me, indicating that she was going to dig her heels in. With wide eyes and a louder voice, she declared, “NO. ” Then she turned away, crouched like Gollum, and went back to playing on her rug.

I sighed. How to diffuse the situation?

I took a deep breath, decided to draw on past experience as an example, and offered an explanation, crossing my fingers it would resonate.

“Honey, remember when we went to the park last summer and you played in the sandbox and you wouldn’t wear shorts? And then you got sand in your vagina and it really hurt until we could wash it out?”

She didn’t turn toward me but she did tilt her head to one side. Fierce Gay Gollum was listening.

“Well if you don’t wear leggings then you can’t play in the sandbox at school without getting sand in your vagina and I am really worried it is going to hurt again.”

She turned around, cheerfully responded, “Oh! Okay!”

She proceeded to her closet, pulled out leggings and pulled them on. Then she took my hand and we walked down to the kitchen to have breakfast together.

Inside I rejoiced. Yes! Good parenting moment! The truth and a calm manner rule the day!

Until we got downstairs. In the next seven minutes, she mentioned her vagina, something being in it, and her vagina hurting no less than three times.

My mind started to race. Crap, she’s got vagina on the brain and now she’s going to talk about this at school.

Our preschool principal is like a Jedi morphed with Mr. Rogers mixed with the best kindergarten teacher you ever had. When this woman asks to talk to you, you listen. You sit down quietly, criss cross applesauce, even if you’re in a chair.  And you do whatever she says. Because something inside wants to make her a necklace out of macaroni. She can Jedi mind trick you, I swear she can. And I love her. I have the utmost respect for this woman. And I didn’t want to lose hers.

All I could see was myself getting a phone call from Mrs. Jedi Rogers halfway through my morning. “Hello, I wanted to take a moment to call you because we are a little concerned. Your daughter has been talking about her vagina hurting all morning and something being in it. She also mentioned something about sand, but we’re unsure if this is related?”

And meanwhile the principal is thinking:

  • This woman lost it this morning and screamed at her daughter, “What the hell is your problem?!? Do you have sand in your vagina?!?”
  • It’s time to call DCF because her daughter has been exposed to a pedophile (or even more horrifying, she thinks that pedophile is me)
  • Both of those things have occurred and perhaps we should consider withdrawing our offer for them to come to our school next year

I needed to do pre-emptive damage control. So at dropoff, I pulled one of the teachers out of circle singing time (it has to be really serious to take a teacher out of morning circle singing, dammit) and whisper in her ear that all references to her  vagina were to be taken in the context of the morning’s events. I did this while trying to whisper over the sound of morning circle singing (What’s the Weather) and trying not to have any other child hear me say the word vagina.

On that day, I don’t even think my ob/gyn used the word vagina that many times before nine in the morning.  And that’s her job.  Thankfully, most days, it’s not mine.

A Lousy Beat

It’s October. I have two kids in elementary school. This means that I get uninterrupted time to work while they are in school, which is a huge boon. It also means that I have other responsibilities I don’t normally have in the summer, like making lunches in the morning, flurries of dates to manage for permission slips and costumes and field trips, and I have to adhere to a bus schedule that’s much earlier. I consider it a pretty fair trade off.

But then there are…extras. One of those extras is the constant low level radar scan for lice. We’ve never had lice in our house, so we’ve been spared, but I’m certainly not dumb enough to think we are above it, so I have to stay vigilant.

The other week I got a call from a lovely friend to tell me that they had found lice in her daughter’s hair and since our girls had been playing together, I probably wanted to take a look-see and make sure we weren’t affected. I just want to say how very grateful I am that she had the courage to make that phone call. Lots of people don’t because it’s too embarrassing or they’re too proud, or they can’t make the time, or whatever they decide to tell themselves, and then just silently pass on the plague. I’d like to think these furtive lice sharers walk through the halls of the school like Silas, the crazy albino monk in the Da Vinci Code, shooting lice from the corners of the school with (unregistered) lice guns. But I digress.

The call from my friend was essentially an APB that launched a 24 hour manhunt which included the purchase of a lice comb, physical head frisking, and random checkpoints. The checkpoints were impromptu and basically would ensue when I was walking past one of my children, my head started itching, and I would sidle next to him or her and start perusing his or her head for small movements and tiny white dots. Also included were panicked calls to insurance companies about whether or not they covered nitpicking (Seriously – that is really a thing! And I couldn’t tell you why, but for some reason in our part of the country the Eastern Europeans have got this particular market covered.)

I could feel myself spiraling into a a deep, dark cycle of neurosis looking for tiny creatures that may or may not be there. From my reading on essential oils, I knew that tea tree oil (really just a few drops each time we shampoo) is known to ward off the little critters, so in the execution of my clampdown, I decided this was going to be the first line of defense. But at this point I was so worked up, I decided it was time for more drastic application because we had confirmed reports. So I took the tea tree oil out and dropped about 8 drops, undiluted, along the hairline for both kids.

As soon as the third drop landed on my son’s head, he said, “Mom, is this the oil that the lice don’t like?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I can understand. I don’t really like it either.”

“You’ll like it better than having lice.”

“Okay.” (Translation – I can tell you are past the point of no return, so  I’d better just stand here while you anoint me.)

My daughter just stood quietly waiting in line for her turn. (She can read a room quicker than a speed reader going through Green Eggs and Ham.) She did voice her opinion by saying,  “Mommy? I don’t really like the way it smells either.” Duly noted.

I then put the oil on my own head.

And we walked to the bus stop.

Insert elevator music.

About eight hours later, I got them off the bus, all smiles. My daughter said, “Mom, the smell of the oil got on the bus.” I looked at her, puzzled, not understanding.

“What do you mean it got on the bus? Did it get on the windows when you put your head against the window?”

Then my son piped in. “No, mom! As soon as we got on the bus, someone said, ‘WHAT IS THAT SMELL?!?!?’ and I said, ‘It’s US! It’s me and my sister! My mom doused us with tea tree oil, and it stinks!'”

I told my husband the story when he got home and he started laughing. “Ahh, tea tree oil. Just like tiger balm. INSTANT DE-FRIENDER.”

Tiger balm’s a lot more mainstream now, but back in the day, if you had immigrant Chinese parents and you got hurt, tiger balm was the go-to panacea. Kind of like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The thing is, if you grew up with tiger balm, you really didn’t think anything of it. I mean, you knew it smelled bad when your parents put it on, but you had no idea there were alternatives that didn’t smell at all. The worst thing was that you didn’t know other people were using all the alternatives (like ice), and that tiger balm smelled really weird, until you were outed. And the outing usually started with “What is that smell?” And then you would think, “What smell? I don’t smell anything out of the ordinary.” Until you slowly realized as the heads and noses were turning in your direction that the smell was you.

Luckily my kids didn’t lose any friends that day, probably because my son ‘fessed up right away. As far as I can tell they haven’t been ostracized. I’m also no longer dousing them with that intensity (I eventually did go with a few drops while washing the hair). But I am walking the beat, keeping an eye out for Silas. Those assassin monks are very tricky…

Who Is Me?

Booyah

I totally stole that phrase from Stephen Colbert.

You might be wondering, “Who IS this lady?” (The word lady might be interchangeable with a good many others, but I’m sticking with “lady” right now because it gives you lots of freedom to choose which way you’d like to go with it.)

I’m a mom of two kids, ages 6 and 8. They’re absolutely awesome. Except when they’re not. And I write about both scenarios here, because let’s face it – even when they’re not that awesome, they’re still awesome.

I came to my views and knowledge about food from an experience that began two and a half years ago where I was basically pulled aside with my older child, a boy, and told “Um, he has some issues.” They were categorizing his behavior within the confines of Sensory Processing Disorder, which basically translates into “signals get crossed in the brain and so some things don’t work correctly”. For more about Sensory Processing Disorder, read here: Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation.

I signed him up for all the treatments, had endless conversations with my husband about whether or not this was even real (there is a whole contingent out there that thinks this is a made up thing that kids outgrow), and even ended up paying for Occupational Therapy treatments out of pocket (to the tune of $100/session weekly because after a while they aren’t covered by insurance without an autism diagnosis – thanks, Blue Cross Blue Shield –so much for the Cadillac of insurance).

As a last result, I changed his diet. One of my closest girlfriends, who has a child with ASD said, “Have you looked at dyes? There is a lot of chatter on discussion boards about ASD behaviors that worsen with exposure to dyes, especially certain colors.”

We took out the dyes, and I am sure that had a positive effect, but the door had already been propped open. Once you start looking at the miniscule ingredients list on the back of the package, you start to wonder what that strange compound three up from the dyes is, and then you start to wonder why sodium laurel sulfate (which is an ingredient in soap) needs to be in cake mix.

Intuition told me that the answer wasn’t just the dyes. It was the whole shebang. We changed our entire diet. The ENTIRE thing. Everything 100% organic, no processed foods. After three weeks, we started to see changes. They seemed subtle but the best way I can explain it is that I got to the end of my day and I didn’t want to medicate myself with two glasses of wine. (Even though it has resveratrol, which is good for you, damn it!). After three months I had a different kid. After two years, I have a child who has surpassed other kids considered “normal” in behavior. And when he can keep himself together, it’s a hell of a lot easier for me to, as well.

Almost every posting that you will see about food on my blog is the result of hard earned knowledge through experience or the dozens of books I read about nutrition. Oh, and you know how they say everything you do for love is returned a thousand fold? The Universe threw me a bone. Once we changed out the diet for the entire family, I lost twenty five pounds. I now weigh the same amount I did in high school. Booyah!

Here was another added bonus. My now five year old, who I always thought was just “emotional”, got sweeter. (And yes, you can read that as less bitchy if you want, but I don’t think it’s totally fair to call a five year old bitchy. But it is fair to call a thirty five year old bitchy, which is what I was at the time we switched our diets.)

Turns out that because I wasn’t cattle prodding these little people’s nervous systems with food that didn’t serve them, they could relax and get to the business of being healthy and growing.

And to that, I say, “Cheers”, resveratrol and all.