Human Anatomy 101, the Preschool Edition

I'm not in the habit of posting every little cute thing my kids' friends say... but, Internet, this was a deal breaker.

I mean, this is right up there with MAET BUTT.

It happened during my recent trip to the Southwest with my friends Dan and Victoria and their lovable kids.

So, I'm back in Tuscon after four days of being on planes, in cars, and in rooms with small kids who want me to do things like chuck them off the sides of a beds onto air mattresses and tell them stories that contain the following characters: a giant squid, a shark, and a Dimetron. If I deviated from the script, I was reminded in A VERY LOUD VOICE that Diplodocus was NOT on the approved character list. (Sorry, kid. Auntie Lolo is tired and can only keep track of two giant predators at a time.)

There were lots of logistics to keep track of on this trip. And there was a lot of shouting and pleading for "TWO MORE MINUTES, MOM!"

You know how it can get when you travel in a group, right? Without creature comforts and routine, social order breaks down. Tempers flare, alliances are formed, and eventually, someone winds up dead from a blow to the head. Or something like that.

Well, we were all a little on edge and sleep deprived and cranky.

I had also come down with a nasty sinus infection by this point. My whole body ached, and my head felt like it was full of wet cement. I hadn't slept well in five days. Something miraculous had taken place in the last few weeks and I was finally able to SLEEP at night, like normal people. But when I got into Arizona, I couldn't sleep again. And all I wanted to do was sleep. And there wasn't going to be any sleeping in my future any time soon. I was going to have to get up at 3:45 in the morning to catch a 5:00 am flight.

So, Little Man was in the bathtub at Aunt Linda's house, and the demands for this toy or that toy were reaching crescendo levels. Victoria was trying to sort and pack a small mountain of clothing into two suitcases. Dan was trying to accommodate Little Man's demands and help Victoria at the same time. Aunt Linda was pacing and politely trying not to lose her mind over the chaos in her craft room (which we were staying in). I was trying not to shove an ice pick through my forehead to relieve the pressure in there. I think the only person still having a good time at this point was Giggles. She was in seventh heaven assembling layered paper cut-outs of lions and turtles courtesy of Aunt Linda's nifty die-cutting machine.

It was around eight o'clock in the evening and Little Man was just finishing up his bath. Dan had hoisted him out and was searching for a towel. Little Man, of course, had ants in his pants even without his pants on and had wandered into the hallway outside the bathroom. As soon as Little Man discovered the full length mirror, he paused and studied his reflection. He pointed to his chest, and yelled out:


NIBBLES, INTERNET! Could ya just die of cute?

The whole house exploded into laughter. It was just what we needed: a little desert rain after a long, hot day.

Continue to full post...

He’s Baaaa-aaack!

Being partnered for the last ten years with a tech-geek allows me to make the following prediction: CLH has been clutching his iPhone in his gnarled, crusty hands for the last 12 hours aboard that boat, waiting, just waiting for the signal to come in so that THE SECOND IT DID, say, at 3:35 am, for instance, he would use it to call me to say he was within cell phone range and nearing Hilo.

Not that I'm upset he called. I'm thrilled he called. What I'm upset about is that I was already awake at 3:35 am because I was having a terrible nightmare about my youngest brother. Maybe my stomach was plotting some sweet revenge against me for eating all that ground meat for dinner. Or maybe my subconscious mind took in the last few pages of the book I was reading before bed and morphed them into something more familial and vicious. Either way, I was lying in bed at 3:45 sweating and VERY much awake when I heard the voice mail chime on my phone.

He's back, Internets! Scheduled to make port in Hilo right around now. And I am scheduled to meet him in Hilo in a mere two days. Everyone has been asking me if I am excited to go. Well, duh. It's been raining cats and dogs since I got back from New Mexico and I couldn't be more thrilled to spend the next week on a tropical island with my favorite guy. I'm going to presume that this trip was life altering for CLH. Judging from the sporadic texts and emails I received from the boat, he's had lots of time to think about stuff. And you don't stare at an endless horizon for 30 days with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company and not come back to land a changed man. Does the prospect of meeting a changed man in Hilo scare me a little? Yes, yes it does. Does it also make me giddy with excitement? Yes, yes it does. Does it make me unable to concentrate on ANYthing work or otherwise adult-responsibility-related right now? Yes, again.

I've been slow to post my pictures from New Mexico because I have been busy trying to make travel arrangements (how 19th century does the term "travel arrangements" sound? You'd think I was boarding a steamer bound for some mysterious tropical climate to cure my woman hysteria or my fainting spells). Anywho, I've been trying to pull together a little something special for CLH when he comes home. Emails, emails, emails with all the various moving parties, checking the Internet for flight deals, researching... So that's been eating up all my free time. Well, that, and all the hamburger eating.

Continue to full post...


Internets, I have about five minutes in here before two small children figure out I'm awake and available to play another round of Baby T-Rex vs the Power Cord (or whatever the hell superhero name the kid is calling himself), so this post is going to be a slapdash mess of bullet points.

I'm in New Mexico with Victoria, Dan, and their two lovable children. I'm playing part nanny, part friend, and part punching bag on this trip. Victoria invited me along because her mom, at the age of 53, is graduating college (Go, Mom!) and the whole family is convening to celebrate. I get to spend the next few days taking in the beautiful scenery of the desert, soaking up the sun, and avoiding "shark bites" (Oh, you don't know what a shark bite is? Ask a nine year old). The youngest of Victoria's kids has one of those classic kid laughs, the kind a sound effects guy would pay millions for. Anyone who hears it laughs too, it's that contagious. The air sickness, the turbulence through Tuscon, the whining and the constant demands for stories? It's all worth it to hear that laugh.

The little guy LOVES to be told a good story. He regularly asks me to tell him stories. And since I am a master at weaving together hyperbole and moral values, I oblige. We started the day yesterday with the tale of Bozo The Pickle who gets lost in the desert and mistakes a saguaro cactus for his mother. Somehow, via the magic that is a small child's imagination, "Bozo" morphed into "Bonzo", which morphed into "B-Bonzo-Bean". So this morning, I woke to the sound of small children thumping around in the next room and "B-BONZO-BEAN!!!" You're welcome, Victoria.

I went through another round of blood tests and a two hour medical interrogation from a new doctor a few days before I left for this trip. We are no closer to figuring out why my ear and neck feel like they are stuffed with fiberglass insulation, but we did find out that my iron and cholesterol levels are dangerously low. Did you hear that America? MY CHOLESTEROL IS TOO LOW! I'm pretty sure this gives me license to eat an unlimited amount of cheeze puffs and onion rings. I'm on an iron supplement right now, but I also (drum roll please) have agreed to eat small amounts of meat here and there. Did you hear that, mom? Mother of mine who thankfully doesn't read this blog because I would be able to hear the I TOLD YOU SO from across the country? I am going to have a tiny bit of bacon for breakfast. Because my cholesterol is too low! Because I haven't eaten meat, except for the tiniest bits here and there, in FIFTEEN YEARS. And because I lay in bed at night and think about the end of the world and whether or not burglars might take all my shit while I'm at work and whether or not that stain is going to come out of my shirt. It wasn't just that I've eaten a mostly organic, high fiber low fat vegetarian diet for the past fifteen years. I WORRIED the cholesterol out of my system, Internet. I fucking dissolved the stuff right out of my veins because that's what chronic stress will do to your body. It will eat up the very building blocks of your body until you a trembling mass of overworked nerves. I suddenly doesn't feel so bad having that second helping of nachos yesterday.

CLH is more than halfway home! I miss the hell out of him. I was given the okay by the captain's wife about a week ago to send daily text messages to the satellite phone on the boat, so I have been sending a haiku every day for the past week. The update from the boat is that the crew is apparently craving hot showers. They encountered FOURTEEN FOOT swells earlier this week (I had to fight back the urge to pass out, puke, and convulse all at once typing that), and they are having a BLAST talking to the Flying Pigs ham radio operators. Thank goodness they have more than each other to talk to. I've heard that the waves, the sea-sickness, the hard work, the lack of fresh fruit, the sunburn, the constant movement.... it's all manageable after a while. It's the monotony that eventually does you in as a sailor. So, thank goodness for people who understand how to work a radio. I'm sure it's the altitude change, the fact that my neck is a compacted mess, and the fact that we really haven't stopped moving since we landed in Arizona 48 hours ago, but I think I'm feeling sympathy sea-sickness pains. Can that be? Burdy? I miss you too, but quit rockin' the boat, would ya?

Continue to full post...

I Heart The Sixties

I'm a real sucker for the advertising stylings of the Sixties. The extra lengths advertising executives went to to make you feel like you'd just purchased the world's greatest whatever-it-was... Astonishing, really. Sixties, you had me at Gold Tassels On Your Owner's Manual. Check out this little gem:

The Lady Shavex. There were actually two of them on display at the estate sale. The other one was baby blue and looked like it had been used maybe once or twice. But this one? It looked it had never been opened. Just to keep the whole thing contained on my way to the checkout table, I stuck the razor, the cord and the tiny, tiny container of "hair powder" into the handsome gold carrying case. When I got to the register, the lady charged me for a "clutch", which I thought was charming. I paid for a clutch and I got a razor for free.

What in the hell would make a person buy such a thing? Nostalgia, people. Plain and simple. My mother, when I turned 13 or so, handed me a very similar box, and told me it was a gift from my grandmother. I was "becoming a woman" back then, and apparently, I would be needing an antique shaving device that worked by vibrating the hair out of your follicles, it was that fucking loud. I tucked that thing down, way down, beneath the pantyhose and slips in my sock drawer and vowed never to shave my legs (or whatever other region of my body it was for... arms? neck? belly button?) It went missing in the era between "We Are The World" and Young MC's "Bust A Move" and I never thought about it again.

Fast forward to this weekend. I'm standing knee deep in a room full of Christmas decorations and books about weight loss at an estate sale and all of a sudden I see the Lady Shavex and I am overcome with this burning need to replace that razor of my youth with this shiny new one. I convince myself that having an electric razor would be preferable to the disposable plastic razor I currently use. I fork over a dollar for the privilege of ownership, and I am in seventh heaven.

Sometimes I wonder how far women have come in being able to announce our hygiene routines to the world. I mean, the men's razor CLH owns rests in hard-backed silver briefcase, for God's sake. The thing weighs something like 14 pounds. And the razor itself? A massive black buzzing phallus. If they could find a way to engineer it without imposing bodily harm, I'm pretty sure men's razors would be shaped like mini-chainsaws and would come with leather work gloves and a tool belt. Why do women have to hide the fact that they ALSO remove hair from their bodies by putting the instrument in a gold bag? (Suddenly, Mad Men is making a whole lot more sense to me. This is Peggy Olson's doing, isn't it?)

I showed the whole set to my friend Ruth who immediately burst out with, "OMIGOD! It's the GOLD BAG!" Turns out, growing up, her family must have owned the Lady Shavex too... only the bag had been requisitioned for things like tweezers and nail files and the Lady Shavex was free to roam the linen closet. That's right. HER Lady Shavex was all "WHAT?? THAT'S RIGHT! I'm A RAZOR, suckas! I don't hide in no carrying case! I don't know why that particular razor talked like Rosie Perez. Sometimes razors are tough like that.

I gave it the test. There were two settings: legs and underarms. To be honest, I didn't give it much of a chance. I thought: well, it's not going to cut as close as my disposable lavender colored Lady Schick, is it? Well, Ladies, it did. My legs are silky smooth and I didn't even have to use the icky hair powder!

Another Sixties favorite of mine at estate sales: cookbooks. The pictures of creamed EVERYthing in casserole dishes accented by things like silver coffee services and doilies just DOES something to me. Maybe it makes me long for the days when everything could be solved by just the right ratio of cottage cheese to pineapple rings. There is just something so reassuring about these recipes. The text around them is always so damned encouraging. There was no concern for any one's impacted colon, just the way their reaction to your sour cherry and lamb souffle made you feel. "Your hot dog casserole will be sure to please the WHOLE crowd, young and old alike!" "Your teens will sing your praises if you interrupt their yearbook committee meeting with a tray of Tang and deviled ham sandwiches!" "Your husband's poker buddies might be tempted to ask you to join them with this ham and artichoke bake!"

Johnny probably won't have any problems snagging a girlfriend later on in life after THIS cake.

THIS cookbook, however, had some "advice" for the new housewife. Little nuggets of wisdom to help her through her day of dumping cans of cream of mushroom soup over cans of ham before she hit up the medicine cabinet for her "headache" pills. Take this one:

The text reads: "Dr. Samuel Johnson once said, "A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner upon his table, than when his wife talks Greek". Most families would agree with Dr. J."

Good point, Dr. J. Better to be full of Mayonnaise, Frankfurters, and Olive Puffs than to listen to your wife. After all, what could SHE possibly have to say? It's all Greek to us anyway! Am I right, fellas? Am I right?

When I was growing up, I almost never saw my mother consult a cookbook. She pulled out the tattered ol' Betty Crocker Cookbook around Christmastime to get her cookie recipes out (I still use those same exact recipes today when I make Christmas cookies), but I never saw her actually read a cookbook the way I read my cookbooks. Thank God, too. I mean, my cookbooks are full of feel good advice about food and community and health tips and measurement conversions and whole sections dedicated to mail order addresses for unusual grains and beans and spices. No one's telling me to shut my mouth and put a roast on the table because 9 out of 10 families agree that that's my job.

Sally never took her chances with roving gangs of root vegetables. She always fired twice. Especially at the turnips.</p>

</span>See how far we've come? We still hide away all the accoutrement of our daily routine, but we can at least serve salad for dinner and not feel like complete failures.

Continue to full post...

I Can Now Cross “Help Birth Baby” Off the Bucket List

I hardly feel like I have the right to complain about how tired I am right now. After all, I'm not the rock star who birthed a baby in the middle of her living room last night. That honor goes to my friend Layla, who, while clutching the hands of some of her best women friends, her husband at her back, and her first child at her side, gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Layla asked me some weeks ago to be a part of her home birth. My duty was to babysit her first child, whom I affectionately call "Neener", while the new baby was being born. Neener didn't need much hand-holding, though. She was as big a rock star as her mommy.

I, on the other hand, fell apart at the seams. I could hardly keep my eyes open past 4 am. I couldn't sleep, either, as every capillary in my body was surging with adrenaline. I spent the rest of the night in my "catjamas" (as Neener dubbed them) alternating between heightened alertness and utter exhaustion.

But it was worth it. Oh, man, was it worth it. If I had any doubts left about what the human body is capable of, they were all dispelled last night at 3 am.

Welcome to the world, Kai Lucca.

Special thanks to Andrea for capturing this gorgeous shot.

Continue to full post...