Kina hurra

If you ever see an old Jewish lady spitting, don’t be alarmed. Don’t feel the need to lecture her about how gross and unsanitary it was. She’s already feeling bad enough. In all likelihood she did it because she just gave herself a kina hurra. (Or she finally realized the hard candy that’s been in her purse since 1980 went bad).
A kina hurra is the Yiddish term for when you curse yourself by saying something that will probably end up biting you in the tuchus. For example, tonight I was thinking to myself, “wow, we have gotten through this awful cold and flu season fairly unscathed. Good for us”. The proper reaction would have been to bite my tongue, literally, and then spit those cursed words right out of my mouth. I should have known. Not twenty minutes later, “Mommy, I’ve got the sniffles. I have a cold”.
I try so hard to keep the girls germ free. I encourage hand washing and keep them away from places that I think are carrying the plague during winter (public library, kids gymnastics place, aquarium, etc). My friends all laugh at me because I send texts making sure their kids are all healthy before we play. However, as I have learned about all things parenting, I can’t protect them from everything out there.
I’m hoping that a good night’s sleep and the Vicks Vaporub I just put on her will do the trick. Hopefully, it will knock out whatever bug she’s fighting, but I can’t help feeling guilty. Mother’s guilt and Jewish guilt together, a powerful combination. I better go whip up some chicken soup and start carrying a tissue in my sleeve. Oy!

Slutty Toons

Is it just me or are cartoons way too sexualized these days?  I generally think Nick Jr. is a safe channel to put on. I feel confident that my girls won’t be learning anything negative from their programming.  However, in the past few months they’ve been advertising these slutty little fairies called Wink or Winx (‘x’ makes everything more sexy, of course).  They fly around and sing some catchy jingle while clothed in barely there bra tops and skirts.  The don’t bend over for fear of flashing type of skirts.
I’ve already had to deal with Ariel flaunting her midriff when she’s frolicking in the waves and gawking at Prince Eric (I don’t blame her, he’s a hunk). After watching this promiscuous mermaid, the big girl likes to walk around baring her belly and say, “Look, I’m like Ariel.”  I’m scared (although, for the moment, it’s pretty cute).  Lest I think this is a recent problem, I recall Jessica Rabbit, Miss Piggy, Betty Boop.  They, too, were hussies on the prowl like the swoony swimmer.
I don’t know why these fairy commercials are bothering me so much.  I don’t want to tell my girls to hide their bodies, but I’d like them to have some more realistic, positive media images to look at promoting, perhaps, a more innocent, wholesome image. (Do those even exist?)
I know the onus is my own. All things start at home. I have to be the best role model for them.  How am I going to do that when I’m rocking my new post-op bod? I have established how excited I am for the new appearance. I’m going to have to resist my temptation to flaunt it. Perky boobs and slimmer thighs, I want to dye my hair red and pretend I’m Ariel too.

Rainy Days and Rainbows

Parenting is like an unpredictable weather forecast. Today was a torrential rainstorm, bordering on hurricane-like conditions, with one or two rays of sunshine.  My little one, 17 months old, pooped and peed on the potty for the fifth day in a row.  Awesome! My three year old was like a fucking typhoon.  

I fear that, in this space, I’m not always shining the most positive light on my children.  They are my joys, my everything; I love them more than life itself.  But, like me, they’re not perfect (and ps. I wouldn’t wish that for them anyway). I don’t find diamonds in their diapers.  I feel like if I’m only gushing left and right about how amazing they are… a) who’s going to want to read that? and b) it’s not keeping it real.  If you have a friend who tells you that their kid sleeps through the night at 6 weeks old, is never fussy, doesn’t misbehave, and eats broccoli… I hate to break it to you (no, I don’t), but your friend is a fucking liar.  Get a new friend, immediately.
We’ve been through the ringer here today.  It was a Battle Royale and it began first thing this morning. I should have known how the day would end up.  Wowza!  I swear three year old girls are just like teenage girls who have their period 24/7.  The mood swings, the attitude, the necessity to eat only crap food and the subsequent meltdown when they are told they cannot do whatever it is they so desperately want to do (if only they knew what that was and how to articulate it).  In my limited experience with three year old boys, I’m convinced there’s a parallel there to teenage boys who have not yet had sex.  The testosterone fueled rage, the erratic behavior, the hyperactivity; it’s all the same.  It is so exhausting and after today, I’m just spent.
I shamefully admit to my Mom today that I was really looking forward to my next surgery.  Not for the new rack (although that’s obviously a major part of it), but for the guilt-free rest.  The time to just relax and not have to actively parent all day, everyday. Is that horrible?  My mom assured me it was not.  In fact, she told me she used to be friends with a woman who had seven children.  This lady told her that she kept having kids because those few days at the hospital after the birth of the latest baby was like a vacation.  While I personally think that’s a pretty dumbass plan, I totally understand where she was coming from.  
It’s a privilege to be my girls’ mother.  They are wonderful in so many ways.  Today’s behavior wasn’t great, but I know that three is a trying time for both of us.  I saw this quote the other day that so perfectly summed it up.  I have to keep reminding myself: “If you want the rainbow, you’ve got to put up with the rain.”

Numero Dos

Surgery número dos is scheduled and fast approaching. Yesterday, I had my pre-op appointment at the plastic surgeon’s office. He man-handled the boobs and took notes on what size implants he was ordering for me. My final tissue expander volume is 545 cc’s in each (that’s a little over a pint, about a 32D). So when he was throwing out numbers to his assistant, he cautioned me, “Don’t be alarmed that the numbers don’t match the tissue expanders’ volumes. They don’t directly correlate”. I’m like, “Hey, dude, do what you’ve got to do. You’ve knocked it out of the park so far. I trust you.” (that was my inner dialogue, I don’t really call my surgeon dude.  I probably just nodded).
I talked to the dude about the next steps in this whole process (there are still at least three more procedures).  Obviously, next is getting the gloriously supple silicone gel implants put in, but after that comes the nipple manufacturing.  I don’t know what to do here, because I don’t want a permanent high beam situation, blinding everyone when they stare at my fabulous new knockers.  So he told me I had a few options for nipples (who knew? design your own nipples, coming to a mall near you): don’t do it at all, do a small profile that is created using just my own skin from my scar (I’m imagining these are like those dot candies that are all different colors in rows on paper), do a larger nub using a plastic piece and skin (pencil erasers?), or do a 3D areola tattoo.  Say what?  I guess we would have to get some special 3D glasses made for my husband.  “What’s that, dear?  You want to get down on the get down?  Hold on, let me light a candle.  Here are your glasses.  Go crazy!”  I’m going to have to think about this one a little more.
Luckily, I have some time.  After my implant procedure next month, I’m anticipating a much shorter recovery period than my first surgery.  I think I will be able to hold my girls after about a week, I will get the two (not four this time, thank goodness) drains out after 4 days, and I should be pretty good to go.  Easier said than done, I’m sure.  After that, it will be 6-8 weeks or up to 3 months until I can do the nipple/lipo procedure (which I’m hoping is done before bikini season). So I have some time to decide what kind of candy dots/eraser/avatar style nipples I’m going to get. Decisions, decisions!

Organize Me

I can’t remember shit.  I think it started when I was pregnant with my first, but then again, I can’t remember.  I recall saying things like, “It’s just mommy brain.” or “It’ll come back when I’m not growing another human inside of me.”  (looking at my watch and tapping my foot impatiently) It hasn’t come back.
I swear a little piece of my brain power left the building when they took out each placenta after the birth of my two daughters and a little more when they took out my boobs.  I am so bad about responding to emails, I cannot remember appointments unless they are in my calendar and two reminders are set, and I forget the simplest to-do’s unless I’ve written them down.  I forgot to buy eggs at the supermarket the other day… and I went solely for eggs and milk.  What the fuck!  I’m beyond frustrated.
I bought my mom the book I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron as a Valentine’s gift.  The first line said something about it all starting in her thirties.  My point to Mom is… see, it’s not an age thing.  I’m not lying to you when I say I’m forgetting the same stuff you are.  It’s not just to make you feel better.  You had four kids, they could have possibly taken a little bit more out of you with the additional two placentas, but you still have your boobs, so maybe we’re even?  I don’t know.
I do remember a simpler time… say, high school? I had my filofax with every subject accounted for with each nightly homework assignment, my dance schedules outlined so I knew when I could complete the schoolwork along with my rehearsals, my cheerleading practice and game schedules, club activities and responsibilities, etc. I was uber-organized and I don’t use uber lightly (German should always be taken seriously).  Heck, even at my wedding, the event coordinator at the hotel almost laughed when she saw my two clear plastic bins with all of the wedding paraphernalia needed to carry out the day and  my instructions which were typed out, including pictures.  I long for my former self in the organizational arena.
Today, you can barely walk into the room we call an “office” (that’s a light term if I’ve ever used one).  My closet looks like a bomb went off (I think my husband secretly relishes the fact that I’ve become so loosey goosey and enjoys tossing his underwear next to the hamper instead of in it, because I really can’t say much about it without being labeled a hypocrite).  I’m constantly trying to stay on top of the disaster areas of playroom, laundry, and snack cabinet, but to no avail.  Just when I think I’ve got it under control, more stuff enters the house and starts piling up again. Like most challenges of this nature (ie. somewhat trivial), I need to take a deep breath and tackle one thing at a time.  I need to try not to derail my efforts by doing little bits here and there, but stick with a project, finish it and then maintain it.  I will make a list so I don’t forget what these tasks are (and I might buy a filofax again if I can figure out a way to sync it to my iPhone – Old Me, meet New Me. She needs your help. Organize Me!).

Sports Illustrated

Thank you Sports Illustrated. Your cover girl has a real body. Her boobs are big and not that perky. Her hips are wide enough to birth an 8 pound baby. Her thighs actually have some meat on them. Although your imagery is very nearly pornographic (last I checked a scarf wasn’t swimwear or appropriate as one’s sole item of “clothing”), I appreciate that you chose someone with an attainable, womanly figure.
As an adult, a mother and a wife, my reflection finally shows me how I feel about my body and I don’t feel like I have to look like a model in a magazine. However, I fear that my girls will enter their teens and be subject to the common feelings of being uncomfortable in their own skin. It’s an unfortunate rite of passage that almost all young girls seem to face. The yellow cautionary signs warning of dangerous curves in the road ahead as their own curves develop. How do I get them past it unscathed?
My husband and I often discuss how we plan to approach their upbringing in order to build in them as much self-confidence as we can. Who would have thought I would take away parenting advice from 50 Shades of Gray, but something resonated with me in conjunction with the plans we have already made. In the salacious novel, there was reference to teaching your children to excel and/or master three things: a foreign language, a musical instrument and a martial art. (In addition to these three things, one of their kids was also an expert in kinky sex. So, clearly not everything worked out as they’d planned, but then again, it never does).
We had already discussed our desire to help our girls find what they are passionate about. Whether it’s a sport, an art, an instrument, we will make sure that we support them in whichever they choose and help them stick with it. We want them to be well rounded, but also focused. We hope that this will give them the confidence to know that they can accomplish whatever they set their minds to, and to appreciate what their bodies and brains are capable of. With said confidence and discipline, perhaps they will be able to look beyond some of the adolescent insecurities that plague us all as we develop. Maybe one day I will show them the SI cover from 2013 and they will see that real women with curves are just as desirable as skinny ones on runways. That no matter how big or small their boobs, hips or thighs, they can have confidence in themselves, their bodies and their brains. (Although, I’m not sure where brains factored into posing in a bikini in Antarctica. As an advocate for breast health, I am officially questioning the endangerment of that model’s nipples. Ouch!).

Valentine’s

Valentine’s Day is for suckers. I’m convinced that this holiday was invented to boost the economy (at least in certain markets). The candy and chocolate people got together with the card makers and lingerie tycoons to conspire against men everywhere. Lest I forget about the floral importers, they’ve had a hand in this too. Everyone has worked so hard since New Years to lose those holiday love handles and then the person who wants to see you naked is handing you a box of chocolate. Sabotage! Seven dollars for a hallmark card with sentimental phraseology that your loved one deems has summed it up and therefore needs only a John Hancock, it never strikes me as romantic. And giving your lady lingerie is basically like buying yourself a present. If I was the Grinch at Christmas, well on Valentine’s Day, consider me that vision of a fat, ugly Cupid baby with a five o’clock shadow, a beer and a cigarette.
I paint a bitter and grim picture, but I’m not thrilled with a holiday that has the potential to make people feel sad if they don’t have a special someone at the moment. I remember crushing on people way back in the day and feeling so let down that the feelings weren’t reciprocated on this holiday. Anxiously awaiting Valentine’s Day, I’d wonder if I’d be surprised with a candy gram in class or a rose from a secret admirer on my locker. Few are as lucky as I am to have found their true love in high school. I don’t want my girls to feel the disappointment of unrequited love. It stings in general, but on February 14th, it burns.
Although I’m obviously disenchanted with this cold day, I look back with a smile as I recall the last 14 Valentine’s I’ve had with my husband. I don’t think he truly buys into the hype either, but he never disappointed me. Our first Valentine’s Day he showed up at my parents house dressed in his finest khakis and button down shirt wielding roses and chocolates. Then he took me in his parents’ fancy car to a romantic restaurant (Paul Newman was at the adjacent table). Subsequent years we laughed at all of the restaurants he took me to. He would painstakingly research the trendy and hip valentines offerings, wining and dining me at these romantic venues. We undoubtedly ordered the wrong thing every time and left laughing at how bad the meal was, but we always had fun. This year, I was adamant that we not play into the consumerism. After all, romance shouldn’t happen one day a year.
Last week, my husband had a meeting in the city where I went to college. I haven’t been back in years and I have been whining about my cravings for my favorite meal there. It’s my favorite meal anywhere. My five dollar bean and rice quesadilla!!!! He only had four hours in the city and the little burrito joint is nowhere near where he was. I kept telling him he would need to find another place to sleep if he came home without my quesadilla. His three hour ride home was chock full of texts; he told me it wasn’t possible, I told him I changed the locks, ya know, the usual. I didn’t think he pulled it off but when he walked in the door while I was bathing our girls and held up a plastic bag with a huge smile on his face, my jaw dropped. After I inhaled half of a quesadilla standing in our bathroom, I gave him a huge hug and told him that was the best valentines surprise ever. He was officially off the hook this year and as far as I’m concerned, every year.
I don’t need a romantic gesture on Valentine’s Day because he shows me love everyday. When he gets up with the girls on weekends and lets me sleep. When he makes pancakes with them and changes their diapers before work in the morning. When he wakes up with them in be middle of the night. When he comes home early on nights when I’m ready to totally lose it. When he goes downstairs in the wee hours because I “heard something”. When he makes me laugh and never have to cry. When he works his ass off so the girls and I can be together all day. When he supports us through life’s ups and downs, both big and small. He’s the best Valentine on this day and all days. (PS. I didn’t buy you a card today, babe, but I could print this out and sign it. Love you, me).

Nemo

Nemo.  Not quite the funny clown fish from the movie anymore, is he?  We will probably all remember him as the little orange bastard who snowed us in the weekend before Valentine’s Day. I’m going to rename this blog Our Year of Natural Disasters.  What is up with Mother Nature?  I suppose the East Coast had it coming to us.  Historically, we have enjoyed very few catastrophic phenomena. The West Coast has fires, land slides, and earthquakes.  The Midwest has tornadoes.  The South has hurricanes.  In the past two years, our area has had an earthquake, a hurricane, a few tornadoes, and some crazy winter storms. It’s like we are getting the crap kicked out of us by one nasty weather pattern after the next.  Luckily, winter storm Nemo wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Yes, we endured almost three feet of snow, but we never lost power or cable and therefore, we were snug and happy with our movies, TV and heat (in order of necessity).  We found lots to do: making lasagna, shoveling, baking cookies, shoveling, eating ice cream made from snow and more shoveling.  After about three hours of shoveling, my husband came in and said he needed a break.  It went something like, “Ugh, I’m spent, can I get a sandwich over here on the couch?”  After a little while, I hinted sweetly that I’d like him to help me with the kids.  That went something like, “Yo! It’s not like I’ve been sitting on my ass all day, time to get back in the game, dude!”  It’s a good thing he gets my sense of humor… or does he?  After my adorable quip, he challenged me to shovel a little and see how taxing it is (read: harder than running after the kids).  Ahhh dear sir, I accept with pleasure.  I think he was shocked by how quickly I threw on his snow pants and galloped out the door.
What’s that?  I am going to get some time outside, by myself, to exercise a little and enjoy the sun?  Peace!  And that’s what I did.  I shoveled between the two cars in the driveway, unearthed one and cleaned it off.  As I was getting to the part of the driveway behind the other car, to my delighted surprise, my neighbor walked over with his snowblower.  State Farm’s got nothing on this guy!!  Without a word, he simply removed all of the snow left behind the car!  Someone’s got a heaping pile of baked goods coming his way tomorrow.
All in all, I think I shoveled 90 cubic feet of snow.  That’s a rough estimate that should mean virtually nothing to everyone reading, but it means something to me.  It’s a personal victory.  I wasn’t sure that I’d have the strength to shovel three shovel-fulls, let alone the hundreds I must have disposed of.  I figured my weakened pectoral muscles wouldn’t allow me to rise up to my husband’s challenge.  But booyah, they did!  Truly, it’s my forearms and my back that are feeling the brunt of it now (yes, I know that my back pain is an indication of my poor form.  I swear I was bending with my legs, but I’m no pro here).  Although I am now on the couch with a glass of wine in front of the fire and typing is somewhat excruciating, I feel incredibly strong.  Take that, Mother Nature (and you too, my dear)!

Confidence

It’s a funny thing, confidence. It comes in so many different forms, even in just one person.  Confidence in yourself can be comprised of confidence in your body, your mind, your spirit, your skills, your abilities.  The list goes on.
I suppose I’ve always felt that I am a confident person. I never felt the need to go with the group if they were doing something I didn’t want to do. I know my values, stick to them and think I make good decisions (for the most part). On the flip side, I lack confidence in different ways than I used to and it often gets me down.  My parenting skills (or a seemingly lack thereof on some days), my intellect (or lack thereof on most days), and my ability to multi-task or manage time has really plummeted of late.
I didn’t love my body in my youth, but I didn’t hide it in shame either.  It wasn’t until I became a mother that I truly marveled at the abilities of my own body. When I think about another human growing inside of me and then morphing into a little person who is talking back to me everyday, I can’t help but feel wowed by the human form and everything it can do.  Thinking about it from a Darwinist or scientific point of view, our bodies can adapt and overcome so much from creating life to living without limbs. I’m often awestruck when I look at myself in the mirror now.  Not because of how much my body has gone through and the scars there to prove it, but more shocking to me is the fact that I feel more confident about it with its many flaws.  I like my boobs with 16 inches of scar better than before my double mastectomy.  Sure, it doesn’t exactly look natural without nipples and placed atop my chest like two bowling balls, but it beats them hanging down to my ankles.
It’s a shame that teenagers or people in their early 20s don’t feel better about their bodies. Ahhh, age is so wasted on the youth.  Things sag, droop, scar, flatten or seem to bubble over and out as our bodies get older and lose their ability to bounce back from childbirth, weight gain, and, well… life.  Even the lines etched on our faces and the grays sprouting like chia pets out of our scalps seem to duplicate at exponential rates as years pass.  With this particular aspect of my own self-confidence, I can stare back at my reflection and see that I earned those lines from laughing and crying.  Those grays are itching to start peeking out from stress and worry.  Those muffin tops and saddle bags are there from my kids and from fun, if not glutinous, times with family and friends.  My body is evidence of a life well lived and I’m certain that’s why I respect it now more than ever.

Boundaries

Do you remember the scene from Jurassic Park when the T-Rex is breathing against the round glass window of the kitchen door?  It’s a heart-pounding, anxiety-filled moment where you think, “the door’s closed, no opposable thumbs, there’s no way….” and the handle turns.  Oh shit!  That is exactly how I felt this morning.  The little one, at 17 months, figured out how to open the door to our bedroom.  Oh shit is right!
Our usual routine in the morning begins by allowing the girls to watch a little TV as we muster up enough energy to throw our legs over the side of the bed and actually step onto the floor.  The girls won’t sit still and watch their programs, so we typically close all the doors in our room so that they’re safe in our range of sight while we pry our lids open. I hate mornings. So imagine my horror when I saw her run for my door, stand up on her tip-toes and grab the handle.  I thought, “No way, she can’t do it yet.”  She looked back at me over her shoulder with that adorable, mischievous smile she’s had since her first poopy diaper, and pulled the door open.  Then my little Prefontaine ran down the hall and I swear I could hear George Michael’s “Freedom” blasting inside my ear drums.  Ugh!  This little chicky needs boundaries and I’m going to start by locking the door.
In actuality, everyone needs boundaries.  It’s my job as a parent to set them for my kids, just as my parents did for me and my siblings.  I’m going to have to cater to each girl’s very different personality in order to set appropriate boundaries for each of them.  I never had to worry about my big one climbing up on boxes, steps, chairs, I find myself in unfamiliar territory re-baby-proofing for my little one.  The big one never opened the kitchen cabinets.  She wasn’t interested.  I have locks on the cabinets with knifes and sharp objects, but now my pots and pans need to be locked away too.  As always, I look to my parents for examples on how to do this fairly.  Yet, I distinctly remember one older brother telling my parents it wasn’t fair that he had a curfew when the other brother did not.  My parents simply said, “We know that when he gets tired, he’s going to put his little head down wherever he is and go to sleep.  You, on the other hand, will party all night and then get sick from lack of rest.  We will see you at midnight.”
As I extrapolate further, I see that I need to set boundaries for myself too.  I am a classic over-sharer.  No need for truth serum here, I would sing like a canary if cross examined.  I probably overstep the bounds of appropriate conversation quite frequently turning my attempt at honesty into making others uncomfortable.  I find myself telling almost complete strangers about my boobs.  Sure, I’m trying to spread awareness, but I’m pretty sure my mailman just wanted to give me a letter.