How to send a card in 37 easy steps

My friend lost her aunt to lung cancer a few weeks ago, and I wanted to send a card to let her and her family know how sorry I was.

Most people I know can send a card without much trouble, but for me, sending a card is like sending a man to the moon. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I have three kids who take a lot of my time and attention away from such a task, but I have always found sending a card to be extremely challenging, even before I had kids.

Here are the steps I go through whenever I have to send a card:

1. Realize that I am going to have to buy a card because someone is having a birthday, is sick, going through something difficult or has died.

2. Forget to buy it at the store at least 2 or 3 times.

3. Buy the card.

4. Realize we are out of stamps and a trip to the post office is necessary.

5. Forget to go to the post office at least 2 or 3 times.

6. Go to the post office. It is closed.

7. Return to the post office when it is opened.

8. Realize in the case of a relative’s birthday that the kids are going to have to sign the card individually in their own handwriting.

9. Get one kid to sign the card.

10. Get the next kid to sign the card.

11. Get the last kid to sign the card.

12. Realize the address I have is out of date.

13. Forget to send an email for the new address at least 2 or 3 times.

14. Send the email requesting the new address.

15. Receive the new address.

16. Address the card.

17. Place the card on the table in the entryway.

18. Leave the card on the table in the entryway for several days.

19. Carry the card from the table in the entryway to the car.

20. Leave the card in the car for several days.

21. Completely lose the card in the car.

22. Find the card in the car.

23. Come to grips with the fact that the card is now in no condition to be sent.

24. Repeat steps 2, 3, 9-11, and 16-22

25. Put the card in the mailbox.

26. Promise to do better next time.

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Goals for Today

The entire family is snowed in again. I need to focus. Here are my goals for today:

1. Don’t kill the kids.

2. Don’t kill my husband.

3. Make sure my husband doesn’t kill the kids.

4. Make sure the kids don’t kill each other.

5. Make sure the dog doesn’t kill the kids.

6. Don’t be killed.

7. Limit sugar.

8. Limit video games.

9. Don’t eat more than my head at any one sitting.

10. Wait until 5pm to start drinking.

Wish me luck!

My Man and his Cold

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At the end of every year, my husband gets sick. Usually, it’s a cold. Sometimes it’s a stomach virus. But no matter what it is, he is convinced he is dying.

I’m not sure why he acts this way. I mean, no one likes getting sick. And yes, I get stressed worrying how I am going to continue meeting the needs of my family while operating on only one cylinder, but previous experience tells me my ailment will most likely be temporary and I can rest knowing that I’ll be serving drinks and cleaning urine from the toilet seat again in no time.

My husband, however, develops amnesia with each cold or virus he gets and forgets that they usually aren’t fatal. A nervous person by nature, my husband hits such high levels of anxiety when he is sick you would think he and he alone is responsible for the earth’s rotation.

This is what happens, in chronological order, when my husband’s throat gets a little scratchy:

1. “I feel something…”

This is the beginning stage of his illness and usually comes after one of our kids has been sick. It is a warning that soon he will fall like a moose that’s been shot from behind. Also, take a look at the calender. If it’s anywhere between January and November, his sickness probably won’t progress beyond this stage and as his wife, you can relax. If it’s December and you need him to help you get the house ready for Christmas, you better get ready because he’s going down.

2. “I can’t afford to get sick…”

My husband works from home and conducts most of his business over email. But a cold will cause his voice to sound slightly different, so clearly, this will cause him to lose thousands of dollars in deals.

3. “I’m burning up…”

He will claim to have a fever, and when I look at him, he might in fact look a little pale. After giving him a thermometer and confirming a body temperature of 97.4, however, I realize his pallor is being caused by panic and fear not by sickness.

4. “You think I’m faking don’t you?”

He gets angry at the thermometer, and demands that I stop laughing. He is not faking, he really does feel sick, and he can’t understand how it happened. He really, truly, does not know how a germ can invade his body, since he is not human but a Martian cyborg.

5. Elephants and fire ants

He will go to bed at sunset, roll over twice, and wake up 14 hours later complaining about how poorly he slept. He will turn to two analogies I have heard over and over again since we were married 13 years ago: “I feel like an elephant is sitting on my chest, and there are fire ants in my throat.” I cannot roll my eyes hard enough when he hits this phase, and suddenly the baseboards are screaming at me to clean them.

6. “Here is where I keep all the important documents.”

This is when I feel a little bad for laughing, because he will finally register a fever of 100.3 and officially be a sick person. He stops in his tracks, falls like the moose I described above, and prepares for death by sleeping all day for four days–on the couch, in the middle of everything. There could be an earthquake, a hurricane, and a newborn infant in the living room all at the same time but he won’t budge. As you might guess, this phase is my least favorite.

7. “What’s a doctor going to do?”

More elephants are sitting on his chest, the fire ants have built a full-fledged colony, and he is looking beyond me to the light glowing in the distance, so now I know I have to call the doctor. Except he argues with me because what he has is probably so rare and so serious there is no doctor in our area equipped to deal with it, so there is no point in going. Better to just die in peace at home on the couch, moaning.

8. “The doctor said I have a virus and need to take an antibiotic.”

Honey, that doesn’t make any sense. An antibiotic only kills bacteria.

9. More sleep

After he gets his antibiotics, I insist he relocate to our bedroom, where he will sleep so hard for so long it’s like he’s not even home. This is when I love his sickness. I will play annoying Top 40 music, order shoes from Zappos, and party like it’s 1999 and he won’t have any idea. A day or two later, he will finally emerge from our bedroom, kind of like a butterfly but much bigger and with a lot more body hair, and vow to embrace life to the fullest, because you never know when it will be over for good.

An Open Letter to the Beef Industry

I just got back from the grocery store and I can’t stay quiet any longer. Something has been bothering me beef-wise for a long time, and I bet I’m not the only one. I am talking about your labeling. It is written in a language I don’t understand. I’m not sure, but I think you might be using industry insider language on the outside.

Other industries have realized this is no way to attract and retain customers. For example, you don’t see Charmin trying to sell more toilet paper by continually telling people what part of the tree was cut and pressed before it reached them. That’s because Charmin knows the only thing their customers care about is feeling nice and clean down there. Why haven’t you figured this out yet?

For background, I have loved beef for as long as I can remember. I grew up eating hamburgers, my husband and I bonded over our mutual love for steak on our first date, and a hot open-faced pot roast sandwich for dinner on a crisp fall evening makes me so happy I could cry. I am a big fan of yours, and I am annoyed every bit as you are by vegetarians who go bananas over roasted brussel sprouts or pickled beets in a jar. I am on your side 110 percent, and I am here to help.

Today, I had an idea to make Asian Beef Stir Fry for dinner. This wasn’t too difficult for me to achieve, thanks to the words “Stir Fry” on your label, so kudos for that. But, in your world, what does “round” mean? Can you tell me?

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Beef Round Stir Fry

What is round about a cow? Do you cut the meat into a round shape, and then declare it perfect for stir fry? If that is true, then what kind of dish would use a triangular shape of beef? Is there a reason why the label can’t simply say, “Beef Strips for Stir Fry”?

Here is another one:

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Flank Steak

I know I have some recipes that call for flank steak, and I know they are delicious, but I have no idea what a flank is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t need to know. I just need to know that this particular cut is lean, juicy, and quick to cook. Other Moms may have committed this flank steak fact to memory, but I haven’t, and I don’t have any room in my purse for a Beef to English/English to Beef dictionary.

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Beef Boneless Skirt Steak

Was this cow wearing a skirt when it was slaughtered? Honestly, whatever the cow does in his private life is none of my business. The only thing I care about is how he should be prepared. Oven? Crock-pot? Grilled over an open flame? Just cut to the chase. Stop being so coy.

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Semi Boneless Rib Eye

These do not look like ribs, and I don’t see any eyes. I am familiar with the phrase “Rib Eye,” but it doesn’t connect me to your product in any meaningful way. It doesn’t convey anything about how good the beef will taste or how much I will enjoy it, and honestly, that should be your goal. The experience of the end-user should be your priority. This is like, Marketing 101. Instead, I think the label above should read, “A rich steak that is full of fat and flavor.”

Finally, this is my favorite:

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Boneless Chuck Roast

This cow must have been a total egomaniac to insist his name be printed on the label. Who cares what your name is (was), Chuck? Now I am going to eat you! Pass the potatoes!

Mommy Paranoia

Ebola has found its way to the United States, as I knew it would, and so now my Mommy Paranoia is on full alert.

Mommy Paranoia is the feeling that no matter how good things are right now, they have a chance of going downhill at any time. And so you worry. It’s really no surprise that I suffer from Mommy Paranoia, given that I’ve always been a worry wart. In the eighth grade, I was voted “Most Likely to Breathe into a Paper Bag Before Taking a Test in High School.” But honestly, it’s not just me. Mommy Paranoia is very prevalent among most Moms I know.

Back when Ebola was only in Africa, Moms were having panic attacks over the usual nightmare scenarios: kid getting kidnapped, kid spending too much time playing Minecraft and growing up to be a parasitic slacker, and my personal favorite: kid getting lice.

For the uninitiated, lice are bugs so small you can’t really see them that attach themselves to the hair shafts of your sweet, innocent child and won’t let go until the school nurse physically pulls them out and calls you to come pick up your child who is no longer welcome in school until the bugs (and the even smaller eggs they have left behind) are gone. Oh, and make sure your other two kids don’t have them hiding out in their hair either. Have a nice weekend!

There is a line from the American Revolution, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Lice is without a doubt one of those times. Luckily, there is a nurse who is doing the Lord’s work nearby in Short Hills, NJ who will pull every last one of those f**kers out of your child’s hair for the bargain price of $1,000 per head and give you an extremely comprehensive and very rational set of instructions for making sure that they don’t come back. Her demeanor is casual, her voice calm, and as a result she will snap you back to the reality that lice is not leukemia.

But most Moms will not–cannot–be satisfied. Their paranoia is now forever on overdrive, and they will take to the Internet to learn all kinds of things they should never know about lice mostly because they are largely false. And even though they know these things to be false, they will believe them, just to be on the safe side. Mother Lice herself has assured these Moms that the bugs cannot live off the human head for more than 24 hours, but they will still make their children wear hooded sweatshirts at the movie theater even when it is 95 degrees, drill it into their kids that they should never EVER borrow someone else’s baseball helmet, and spray their kids with rosemary oil every time they leave the house because they know that LICE IS PROBABLY ALL AROUND THEM.

Another thing I have found Moms to be really paranoid of (pre-United States Ebola) is looking like a Mom. A long time ago, the people who made jeans decided to help us out by providing a little more coverage in the belly area to help hold the skin that has been stretched by one, two or more pregnancies. They were doing us a favor, and we knew it too because we started buying them by the truckload. As soon as we figured this out, though, that only Moms were wearing these super high-waisted jeans, we began to resist them and started squeezing our damaged bodies back into jeans (and all other pants too) that are much better suited for 16 year olds.

Also, we refuse to wear shoes that suggest we are running after our toddlers or up and down the stairs doing laundry. At a recent Back to School night, for example, I could not believe the amount of strappy high-heeled sandals I saw clip-clopping up and down all of the stairs. Newsflash: you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t a mother!

We also torture ourselves with the amount of calories we consume, downloading apps called “Eat Slower” and taking up ballet again in an effort not to be fat, supposedly the most common side effect of motherhood. Even those Moms who have somehow stayed thin feel compelled to stop eating red meat and start eating an unpronounceable grain humans haven’t eaten since ancient times–just to be on the safe side.

Unfortunately, the safe side doesn’t exist, or I would have built a four bedroom center hall colonial with a central vacuum and laundry chute there a long time ago. Danger lurks around every corner when you are a Mom, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. It sucks but at least we are all in the same boat. Now we just have to hope it doesn’t sink.

On Death and Dying (and Pouring Drinks)

IMG_2985From the moment they are born, kids start screaming for something to drink and as far as I can tell they don’t ever stop. On average, I pour my kids about 26,000 drinks a day. I am not exaggerating. There are so many drinks I have to pour I can barely do anything else with my life, and as you can imagine I’ve become very resentful.

I’ve realized that what goes on with me psychologically after I hear the question, “Mom, Can I Have a Drink?” is similar to what Elisabeth Kübler-Ross identified as the five stages of grief 45 years ago in her groundbreaking book, “On Death and Dying”:

“Mom, can I have a drink?”

Denial: There is no way he is asking me that question. It’s not even lunchtime yet and he’s already had chocolate milk, lemonade, and a juice box. I am just going to sit here and pretend to be deaf. If I’m lucky, he’ll go away.

“Mom, can I have a drink?”

Anger: I don’t believe this. I just sat down for f**k’s sake. “No! You cannot have a drink. You can’t. You don’t need a drink right now. You aren’t even thirsty! There’s NO WAY! You JUST HAD a giant glass of lemonade, and you stole a juice box from the outside fridge right before that. You simply don’t like to see me sitting down. GOD FORBID I ever sit down. Do you ever ask yourself why you don’t like to see me sitting down? Because I’d really like to know your reasoning. Did you know that when a Mom sits down, she still loves her children very much? Did you know that? WHERE IS YOUR FATHER????”

“Mom, can I have a drink?”

Bargaining: “Ok, look, if I give you a drink NOW you can’t have any drinks LATER, do you understand? I will give you a drink now if you PROMISE not to hound me for any more drinks today. OK? One more drink today, and that’s it. Got it? And if you are good and you don’t drink anything else for the rest of the day, I will give you an extra special drink tomorrow! OK? Do we have a deal?”

“Mom, can I have a drink?”

Depression: Oh my God, what happened to me? I used to eat at restaurants owned by Bobby Flay. I used to travel to exotic lands and meet exotic people. I can’t do this anymore. I need a nanny. But then I would need a job. Who on earth would hire me? I haven’t worked in 11 years. My brain functions at a third grade level on a good day, and I have lost all tolerance for bullshit. Maybe I can be the lunch lady at school. But then I would be getting drinks for the entire student body! I can’t win! 

“Mom, can I have a drink?”

Acceptance:  “Ok, here. Here is your drink. Now don’t spill it.”

Fuzzy

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My second child, a boy, turned eight in April and decided that he wanted to grow his hair long, except his is really curly and growing it is going to be more complicated than he realizes. I should know because I too have really curly hair.

This is a very sensitive topic for me. Throughout the entire fourth grade, my “friends” called me Fuzzy. They thought my hair was HILARIOUS, and in all honesty, it was. Bullying isn’t right, but my hair was wrong. My mother would struggle to get a comb through my frizzy curls, telling anyone who would listen that my hair didn’t grow DOWN, but OUT. I’m a grown woman now and with the help of a talented stylist, hours of research on the Internet, and a late-night infomercial genius by the name of Chaz Dean, my hair looks much better now. Unless of course it rains.

I wish I could take everything I have learned in this area and teach it to my children who have inherited my frizz, but I can’t. As you may have figured out by now, my kids will not be told what to do. My son proudly walks around like Albert Einstein had a scuffle with Don King in the middle of an electrical storm, and my daughter will not let me flat iron her hair while we talk and bond about One Direction and their upcoming album (OMG, I can’t wait! Niall said it was going to be more edgy this time around). She just doesn’t have the patience, but she has no idea how GORGEOUS her hair could be.

This morning, after I begged him to do SOMETHING with his hair, my son indulged me by spraying his hair with a little water and running the palm of his hand down one side of his head. The other side was left completely untouched. He desperately needed more spritzing, some finger combing and a spray gel, but he wouldn’t let me near him. I felt so helpless. Why can’t my kid put his trust in me? I wanted to write his teacher a note apologizing for the distraction his wild hair would cause in the classroom today, but I didn’t have time because my daughter was having her own crisis trying to use this stupid donut thing while her buddies were ringing the doorbell. If only she would let me do what I want, WHAT I KNOW, she wouldn’t need the damn donut!

It’s hard, because on the one hand, despite everything I have written on this blog to the contrary, they are perfect just the way they are and I don’t want to give them something silly to worry about. On the other hand (the one that keeps it real), good personal hygiene is important, which means that teeth need to be brushed, clothes need to be clean, and uncontrollable hair must be controlled. It’s a fact that neat and clean wins the race, and it’s a lesson best learned early. Plus I really don’t want anyone to call them Fuzzy. It totally sucked.