Monday, October 31, 2011

I succumbed to retail therapy.

I succumbed to retail therapy.  From yesterday through the next couple of days , I will be receiving a box from the evil discount online boutique sales via Rue La La, Ideeli, and GILT.  As I worked from home yesterday, I must have looked out the window at least 50 times to see if the UPS man arrived.  They come later and later now, but at 4pm, my first Rue La La package sat at my door with an adorable navy blue pique polo and chunky stripe shorts from Mikey Stars for my little Finn.

Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt & Pants  $ 49.50
Munchkin wear by Mikey Stars
  The next few packages will include a winter coat, two pairs of maternity pants, two maternity tunics, boots, and an adorable La Perla bra/panty set.  Oops.  However, the excitement of getting a box at your door is wonderful because in our age we don’t get any mail at all except bills and junk, which makes me dread going to the mailbox.  The anticipation we used to have going to the mail box now exists when we turn on our computer or smart phone to look at emails, and even that has died off significantly.  But the truth is the excitement is very temporary as the garment gets tucked away in our closets.
While I totally support and LOVE the concept of Rue La La, Gilt, and Ideeli, signing up for them (for a bargain shopper like me) was a BIG mistake and a huge distraction.  Every morning (and now afternoon and evening too), I get a notification on my phone (like a text) and an email to tell me that some fabulous new thing is 60-80% off.  Once or twice is fine, but $30 here, $40 there, adds up quickly.  And seriously who can resist a pair of suede platform booties at $59.99 (down from $150) over and over again?  I’ve totally succumbed to the madness of putting something in my “cart” and then quickly clicking through the other two websites to see if I liked something better.  Of course the ticking clock of having only 15 minutes to check out only adds to the madness.  With that winter coat I bought, I spent $79 for a black down snorkel jacket.  Of course, two days later there was a Betsey Johnson sale for a cuter one at $69.  ARGH!  I think it’s time to cut myself off.  Best to go cold turkey and unsubscribe for a while.  Oh and then I got a Haute Look email invitation from my cousin who shares the same style sense as I do with a tempting $10 gift for signing up.  I resisted.  Miracle.

style #314042601 black quilted flare cuff button detail down coat
Warm Coat Chic by Betsey Johnson
Why the sudden surge in retail therapy?  I’ve realized that as I get bigger (quickly approaching 7mo pregnant), I’ve been getting more insecure about how I look and feel.  And since I can’t work out more or diet, I’ve taken it out on my wallet.  I’ve been trying to literally buy happiness, beauty, and satisfaction because of the discomfort of growing out of my usual look and favorite clothes.  Ugh.  Ladies, you can NOT buy anything to make yourself more beautiful.  You know this already.  I know you do.  How many times have you looked at someone and thought, Wow, that person (woman, man, or child) is extraordinary looking?  I’m quite sure they were not Christy Turlington, Heidi Klum, or any other typical beauty that embodied the traits of how our media and fashion magazines (I love Elle and Vogue) define beauty.  I’m sure there was something about how they carried themselves, comfortable in their own skin, and not what they were wearing or how their makeup was done.  There is just a certain spirit about beauty that radiates from those who know themselves, who love life, who are for the most part content, and who look at the world with a piercing regard so as to soak up all its wonder.
I’ve seen beauty in many forms:  all races, all ages, from the healthy to the handicapped, and from the rich to the poor.  Our beauty does not improve because of a pearl necklace or a cool pair of 4in leather pumps.  I know you know this already, but do you really?  Look at your bank statement and look what you’ve bought over the course of the last few months.  Add up how much of that was completely unnecessary or even an impulse buy.  I bet you’ll be surprised at how much that really is...Remember in the words of Gywneth Paltrow, "Beauty is determined by how comfortable you are in your own skin."  Easy for her to say!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The bliss of our screaming, pooping, yelling, laughing, running, escaping toddler...

Last night, we took Che to see Moneyball during an ingenious “Diaper Date Night” invention created by the towns of Los Gatos and Campbell, CA.  Every fourth and first Tuesday of the month, we are “allowed” to bring our toddler to a movie and join other parents with children ages newborn to toddlers to get out and watch a movie.  Usually, there are only 3 or 4 couples in the movie, which gives Che (usually the only toddler) room to cruise around the entire theater.  Last week, we saw Dolphin Tale.
Dolphin Tale was Che’s first experience at the movie theater.  At first, my husband was optimistic about putting him in his own seat so that he could sit “like a big boy” and watch the film.  However, Che quickly found it amusing to make the seat fold up and down...even if that meant that he eventually fell through it.  Who knows how toddlers do these things, but Che managed to get his legs stuck in between the back of the seat and the lap support and of course, screamed because he couldn’t move.  We got him out easily and unharmed and decided to put him on our laps.  Again...short-lived, as Che decided to get down and start playing with folding the seat down and then letting it pop up on its own.  Hilarious...for him.
When the lights went down and the previews started, the loud sound kept him quiet and he looked bewildered at the giant screen.  What a trip it must have been to see a giant movie screen with moving pictures for the first time.  To remember and go back to that moment as an adult is near impossible for me.  I have no idea what my first movie was.  But for Che, it was Dolphin Tale and every time he saw Winter, he would yell out “UPO!”, our dog’s name.  Most animals have adopted the same nickname, according to Che.  
Now here’s the funny thing for me.  Obviously, Che’s amazement of the movie screen matched his short attention span and soon we found him wanting to run around the entire theater flipping every seat.  Despite the fact that the occasion for going was in fact for the sake of bringing your child, why on earth did I feel so consciously aware of the fact that others (parents with babies, instead of toddlers) might be looking at me, wondering why I was letting my kid run all around the theater?  There were only 3 total couples in the theater that night so clearly Che was not disturbing anyone, and though I missed half the movie, I found so much more amusement in watching him run freely and laugh and giggle as he ran around enjoying himself.  It wasn’t until 3/4 of the way through the movie that he eventually knocked out in my arms, fast asleep.
But as parents, I don’t know about you, but I feel the stares at the back of my head every time Che gets rowdy or lets out a louder than “inside voices” peep, cry, laugh, or scream.  Why the guilt?  Why the paranoia of disapproving looks by the onlooking public , who clearly has perfect children of their own that are perfectly well-behaved?  At least, that is how I feel.  Am I the only one that feels that way?  I do my best to maintain consideration for my fellow neighbor when it comes to bringing Che into public settings, but sometimes I just have to let my kid be a kid.  If he wants to run and yell and giggle then I’m going to enjoy it.  He’s not hurting anyone.  If he’s going to have a breakdown because I didn’t buy him a chuck (truck) at Buy Buy Baby, then I’m going to hold him and tell him he has a million at home.  And if he wants to throw a temper tantrum because he is over-tired and lay in defiance on the floor, then again, I’m going to let him, even though I’m going to move quickly to get him home to nap.

I appreciate the approving, “he’s so cute” comments, however the disapproving stares drive me batty.  Don’t you have kids of your own with whom you went through these stages?  Don’t you know that you acted virtually the same way in your own youth?  Is it really just me that makes believe people are disapproving of my sometimes hyperactive child?  I promise I don’t give him high fructose corn syrup, red dyes, or too much sugar.  He merely has my and my husband’s high energy level and manifests into hyperactive euphoria from time to time.  I’m sorry, but that’s my kid and I love him for it.

So let me ask you, my fellow parents of toddlers, do you go through the same feelings when you’re on an airplane flying cross country and your toddler wants to walk up and down the plane aisles?  Do you cringe when your son/daughter takes a massive poop that stinks to high heavens at the grocery store and you know your fellow grocery shoppers get a whiff?  Do you leave an extra tip at restaurants because your kid made a huge mess on the floor?  If the answer is yes to any of those questions, then I know you’re in the same boat with me.  So my advice for us is: Just enjoy your toddler - screaming, pooping, yelling, laughing, running, escaping toddler and be okay with him/her in public.  You have every right to introduce them to the world.  Just be courteous to your fellow neighbor and try to acknowledge their discomfort with the reality of toddlerhood.
At the's quickly approaching 9pm and my son is running up and down the hallways laughing his head off...I wonder what's so funny?  Time to join him!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So over Target...

So over the Target era of America.  I swear every time I walk into a Target, Costco, or Babies R Us, I get a massive headache or nearly faint in a lightheaded dizzy blur.  I never go (anywhere really) without a very specific list of what we actually need, which would only require a little carry basket, but of course shopping with a toddler I need to grab a cart to give my weary arms a break.  What sucks about the new Target oversized carts is that my Boppy cover for Che no longer even fits over it because the damn carts are too wide!  Of course, Target does that to get you to buy more, but the baby industry hasn’t yet caught up with the trend and all the “universally sized” items are way too small for the ever-expanding Target era of America.
So I wipe down the entire cart with the complimentary antibacterial wipes upon entering Target before I put Che in sans Boppy.  Then after I get him in, I realize I picked the cart with the locked wheels and can’t even turn the damn thing.  Not having a clue how to fix it, I’d rather just get another stupid cart and hope this one works before I again wipe the whole thing down with antiseptic.  Finally, one that turns, so I proceed with my antibacterial ritual and switch Che from one cart to the next.  On my way.  With my list in hand, or in Che’s hands, I find my way to only specific sections where I know my necessities are located, but on the way Che calls out every airplane (a-doh), truck (chuck), and car (car) in sight.  If he can manage to get his hands on one because of my poor steering abilities (those thing are heavy and massive!), then I know I’m going to have a meltdown at check-out for not getting it.  Fortunately, right now those only last until we get out the door, but the elephant tears are heartbreaking and guilt-wrenching.  Mantra: “Che has zillions of “chucks” at home, he doesn’t need another one.  Good mommy.” 
On the mommy end, of course I also pass all the cheap n’ chic accessories and (disposable) garments.  Mantra: “Look away Pea.  Not worth it, you pay for what you get” .  When you buy the cheap three-wear disposable Target garments, realize that they carry garments that are relevant to short-term trends, rather than lifelong classics.  I’m more of a classic garment wearer, with a few trendy pieces, but definitely not to keep up with the current season.  Besides, I’d rather spend more somewhere else and at least have it last a couple of years.  I finally got my husband to jump on that bandwagon too.  I recently noticed his ebay “watch list” includes items from Burberry, Lacoste, and Ralph Lauren.  Good boy Pea gets to do the same.  I just don’t spend the time to find it on eBay.  I’d rather just open the Ideeli, Rue La La, and Gilt Group emails I get daily and buy it on sale there.  Quite more of an impulse buy, but it’s quality and it lasts.  Worth every penny.  (Just don’t tell husband that “sale” means a Marc Jacobs bag for $350 instead of $650.)  :-)
Target, Costco, etc. are designed to make you feel like you need all their junk, that you are less-than because you don’t buy it.  I hate when I come home with more than was on my original list because I’ve succumbed to the one thing that Target is trying to do - get me to buy more.  I wish I had “Target armor” so that when I shop I can stick to my guns (list) and ignore the rest.  It’s the same with my baby registry, which I’m doing on and Buy Buy Baby.  (Look at that name...”buy, buy”!).  They have these checklists where you are forced to consider the lame thing that you’ll never use: bottle warmer, wipe warmer, bottle drying rack, bouncer and swing (rather than just one or the other), etc.  I found a handy little website on "Must Haves and Must Nots" on which dispels myths of those baby registry items.  Here it is.  I recommend reading it before you start yours if that’s what you find yourself doing currently.  I’m a minimalist and I’ve been trained (by my husband) to hate spending money so my registry is the bare minimum, though my husband talked me into the wipe warmer explaining that he’d rather have a warm wipe for his winkie and bumbum than a cold one.  Same goes for Che and Finn.
Rachel Zoe Audrey Platform BootiesNow as I finish this and carry on with my day, I look at my emails and see “fall must have” lists from Pottery Barn, West Elm, Gap, Banana Republic, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and Nordstrom, all sent to me to get me to buy more.  Leave me alone people!  I am not made of money and Lord knows I’m a sucker!  My husband will kill me if I buy you all.  The voices of cute bags and boots; adorable Halloween stuff for Che; and warm, holiday-atmosphere creating decor for house, shut up and let me save my money for my kids’ college funds.  I don’t have to have you!  Oh but the new Rachel Zoe Audrey boots (black suede with 3” platform heel) would make my prego body look so much taller and leaner.  Looooovvvvvvve.  $395?  What can I sacrifice this month for those?  How do I hide them and the bank statement from Mowgli?  Credit card!  Besides, if I use the debit card, my stupid bank will charge me.  :-)

I’m a sucker.  Better to stay at home, keep emails closed, and keep the world of advertising outside.  Stop making me buy you! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


So I decided that happiness is a choice.  Yes, sure we (and especially I) have been told this a million times (maybe kazillion by my husband alone) and yet it never sunk in.  My question is, if we are born happy as I've seen first hand in the innocence of my son Che, what on earth mucks that up?   LIFE.  But, there truly is no sense in letting it get you down.  Really.  Just wake up and decide, this IS going to be a GREAT day.  And when someone asks how you are, emphatically say, "FANTASTIC!"

After reading my previous posts, you might ask, why the sudden switch?  From over-emotional, wacked out pregnant Stay-At-Home-Mommy to blissfully preaching happy-go-lucky.  Well, on Monday, I had my level II ultrasound and saw my second child yawning ever so satisfactorily in his own private jacuzzi and instantly the powerful and joyful feelings of motherhood cleared out the cobwebs of pessimism and fear.  I couldn't help but notice how much he looked like my firstborn son Che and then realized that I'm now the mom of two sweet little boys.  What a beautiful way to step outside myself and my own personal agenda and finally get a glimpse of what's really happening in my life right now - LIFE, and it's not ending - it's evolving and it just got a lot more interesting.  Hormones can be killer sometimes.  Go easy on yourselves when it happens, ladies.

Finn's Gender Proof

On a rainy (hormonal) day, I may need to come back to this posting and read what I'm going to need to know to whip myself back into shape.  What will it take to shake out the monster that is residing inside you telling you life sucks?  Make your list. One of my dear friends, Silvia Gogh of, once reminded me of a daily AM ritual you might try over coffee.  Tell yourself the following:  I'm grateful for what I have.  I'm grateful for my health.  I could lose it all tomorrow.  And if that's not powerful enough, here's some helpful tips I read from The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin: Start going to bed earlier, fake it until you feel it (that's what I go by!), "enjoy the fun of failure", buy happiness (but don't eat your way to it), exercise, and realize that what makes you happy is not the same as someone else.  Be okay with that. My last resort happiness tactic is going to the gym and listening to David Guetta on Pandora.  If I can't make it there for some reason, I'll put it on my stereo or laptop as loud as it goes, get Che and get a dance party going.  The way he laughs at me movin' and groovin' and gets his own beat goin ' is enough to shake any bad feelings I've got brewing.

Make it a priority to be happy.  Fake it till you make it.  It's SO worth it and it benefits everything else too - from your health to your relationships.  You've got a chance to be happy, because no matter what is happening, it truly could be worse.  I wish you to be happy.  You'll help the whole world and yourself that way.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

HELP! I'm already 31, about to have two kids, AND I HAVEN'T LIVED YET!

I think in many ways, I have lived part of my life backwards.  My husband and I got three dogs before having a house and kids. (Imagine trying to find a rental with a 105lb rottweiler, a pit bull, and a min pin.  Donated the dogs to the inlaws...problem solved.)  ;-)  We never took a honeymoon and now are trying to do so before the lockdown comes after number two is born. (But how on earth do you visit Paris at 6 months pregnant, fat as can be in the fashion capital and not drink WINE or eat BRIE?!)  And now here I'm about to have baby #2 and I still don't feel as if I've lived yet.

Sure, I've done what Baz Luhrmann's "Everybody's Free (to wear sunscreen)" told me to do.  Lived in NYC once, but left before I got hard.  Lived in northern California once, and left (the first time) before I got soft and moved to LA.  Now that it's the second time, am I in for a double whammy of softness?  Am I truly going to become one of those south bay moms that puts all their event planning skills into coordinating play dates?  Or worse, a wannabe foodie that tastes tests way too much at farmer's markets only to find all their "skills" go right to their growing butt and thunder thighs?

Fortunately, today I had a bit of a reality check with a fellow mom-to-be of two who equated my freak-out to pregnancy hormones.  She claimed she went through the same phase of terror when realizing how her life would end once number two came and even admitted that she dreamed of postnatal botox injections and implants to bounce back. The problem is I don't know if she came to terms with it or decided that it wasn't really going to end.  (I should definitely ask her.)  I think about those multi-tasking moms like Angelina Jolie, Heidi Klum, or Victoria Beckham who are still gorgeous and successful, and yet amazing moms.  However, then I remember that their success came well before their kids did.  Therein lies my problem.  I lived life backwards.

But no, this is no "woe is me", as my husband likes to say, I just need to figure out how I'm going to be supermom and do it all at the same time.  Oh yes, of course, and find a way to neutralize the guilt I'll have (or guilt trip I'll get from others) because I'm trying to live my life and refuse to put myself by the wayside for the sake of my children.  Yes I am a good mom, very good, I'm a virgo for chrissakes, it's in my stars to strive to be the best.  But that also includes everything else too and I'm included.  I've got way too much living left to do and yes of course, I still want to be famous.  I always have.  Is that pathetic?  Probably.  Maybe I'll just have 10 more kids and beat out OctoMom.

So for all you moms of two (or three or four or five), please put my anxiety to rest and tell me that I can still have my cake and eat it too!  Already, I'm slightly PO'ed at my husband for knocking me up again.  I know my feet are for sure, (swollen, sore, hideous...well beyond pedicure remedy).  For now, I'll just keep telling myself this is just a hormonal phase.

On a side note, if you have any advice whatsoever about raising two kids, please share.  I need it.  And when the time comes I'll pay it forward and look back on this and laugh.  And on another the heck do you look decent in your late second and third trimesters with a toddler running around?  I live in a tshirt, sweatpants, pony tails, and dark rings under my eyes.  Please share!  Style tips for busy moms?  (So far, I've only got my nails down with Jessica gel nails.  I could kiss the man or woman who invented that.  They had us crazy moms in mind on that one!)  Fashion tips for the swollen?  Meditation tips for the internal madness?  I'll even trade someone to come shopping with me (or go for me) for a style makeover and I'll babysit the kids.  Come together gals.  Dish out your secrets.  This mama needs some serious HELP!  I'm taking desperate measures and dying my hair red this weekend.  Please STOP me if you really think I shouldn't.   I welcome brutal honesty.

Is this maybe an early midlife crisis?

Oh shit, my toddler is running around naked with his poopie diaper in hands...nice.

Monday, September 19, 2011

So what end was your husband at?

So a little bit more on my penis envy complex, but it’s only because I’m convinced that men have it a whole lot easier than women.  If you don’t believe me, then I’ll ask you again if you agree with me when it’s that time of the month and your belly is bloated as if you are 4mos pregnant, your cramps are causing blinding aches, you are uncontrollably crying, or worse you are throwing fists in the air.  Sometimes, it just plain sucks to be a woman.  However, it’s important to remember that we have a lot more power, especially brain power.  We’re just too hormonal to use it to its full capacity on occasion.
As women, we bear the heaviest load even in the traditional sense of being a matriarch.  As modern women, we bear an even heavier load given that we have also assumed upon ourselves the tasks of our men.  This begs the question: What are we trying to prove by doing that?  That we can?  Why must we take on more than we have to just to prove to our men that we can?  Sure, the downturn of the economy has forced many housewives to go to work to supplement the income for our families.  In my case, I fall under the category of going back to work part-time voluntarily, but for several reasons and mostly to justify my expensive taste, which I refuse to sacrifice.   Call me selfish, but you only live once and I know what I like.
Now that I’ve started working again, after only one month off my previous full-time post, I’m getting frustrated by the crazy hectic mornings.   Get up at 5:30am to drink my coffee.  Jump into the shower and try to keep hair dry so I don’t have to spend time drying and styling it (and therefore sacrifice a good hair day), squeeze into jeans that I’m growing out of at 5 months pregnant, and then get my son up and ready for daycare.  My husband rolls out of bed at quarter after 6am and has an easy time taking a quick shower, barely combing his hair, and slipping into clothes that never change fit, thereby making it much easier to look good and put together.  And he ALWAYS looks good....jerk (but that's why I love him). As I walk around doing plie’s just to stretch my jeans out and catching quick glimpses of my expanding ass in the mirror, I send loving curse words towards my husband under my breath for getting me pregnant again.  I quickly recall the first time around when in the third trimester, I think I literally went insane with the hormonal changes (I remember one day a pyscho period of nesting, only I took it out on the car by getting a car wash, oil change, tires rotated, and car seat installation all in one morning), then there were the cankles.  And I didn’t just get cankles, I got redwood trees for legs, the kind that you can friggin’ drive a car through.  I would wear shoes and my skin would literally roll over the top.  I got a massage, it was actually a massage interview during my spa director days, and I think the girl was grossed out by the fact that she could see her handprint in my gel legs.  Gross.  I apologize for the TMI, but ladies you know what I’m talking about and you know how much it can SUCK.
During my first pregnancy, I had an emergency c-section for Che (please hold back your judgments because the cord was around his neck and dramatically slowing his heart rate) and the recovery was brutal.  Even though I was back up on my feet at the Fairmont Miramar Christmas party working within 5 days of Che’s emergency delivery, it was only to prove that I was a soldier and to show my son off.  This time, my best friend is encouraging me to consider a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean).  I’m sorry to say that I’m deathly afraid of trying that and the possibility of it really has no room in my book.  Nope, I succumbed to the fact that the recovery of the Cesarean, though difficult and longer, will be a lot more enjoyable than worrying if I’m going to rip myself open during the pushing phase.  I think my husband is actually relieved at my decision because he gets really skeeved out at the sight or thought of a vaginal birth.  Yes, of course, he loves the naturalness of it, but he has already refused to be “at that end” during delivery.  I don’t blame him.  But look at the easy decisions men get to make?  Which “end” to be at during delivery?!  Rather than decide to be cut open or push it out through your vajajay?  The thought of how easy men have it makes me go bonkers sometimes.  From clothes and getting dressed, to childbirth, to weight control, to work (and automatically having a higher salary), to social life, and all the way to child rearing.  The only times that a man has to work the hardest are during sex and in understanding their wives, especially while pregnant.  ;-)
Ladies, we have a lot to endure in a lifetime and it certainly feels like an uphill treadmill, so please stop fighting each other with jealousy and mood swings, and start rallying together.  Men will never understand us or our emotions.  They just don’t get it.  Realize that we must go to each other for the kind of understanding that trumps therapy.  Therapy is a waste of money. Let's go get cocktails instead.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Desperately need to clean house before ikea run. Note to self...che's dessert comes after nap not before...or no nap!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Penises vs. Charlie's Angels

My motto is: "Fake it till you make it." And I like to pretend to have a penis or be a Charlie's Angel.

I apologize to those of you who might be offended by my choice of words for the title of this posting. However if you were a shameless Friends fan like myself, (I'm totally a Monica, with a wee bit of Rachel), you might remember one of Phoebe's lines when she successfully completed a household chore typically done by men (prego brain can't remember what at the moment). As soon as she finished, she said, "I think I'm ready for my penis now." Amazing. This line more than all others, I have adopted and used on several occasions when I feel that I've accomplished something just as well or better than something that a man would do. It's an honest thing to say and definitely gets the point across that women are just as tough and capable as men (and no you don't have to have a penis). I definitely have a side to me that seeks to accomplish certain things that most women wouldn't normally do, just because I can. It gets really crazy at home sometimes because I have certainly brought this into my marriage and Mowgli and I can be very competitive at times.

Now let me first explain what kind of a man my husband is. Despite what I said earlier about our current life transition and role reversal (me as SAHM and him as the working man), my husband is one tough cookie. At 5'8" and 145lbs, my husband is the leanest and meanest Native American guy there is. I've never dated anyone tougher than him and absolutely LOVE that about him. To watch him box or spar or go nuts on the speed bag is seriously the sexiest thing in the world and it keeps me hooked because God knows we have gone through our share of trouble. And for people like us, it's utterly essential that we work out to get it out of our system. It becomes more about getting rid of excess energy by working it out in the toughest way possible than keeping our bodies in top shape, though of course we never admit that and claim to work out to stay in shape, more like keep our emotional status in shape. I think our relationship was the healthiest when we were boxing together, I mean each other. I highly recommend it, rather than throwing your money away in couple's counseling. For us, talking can actually make things worse.

We used to box at our gym, Crunch on Lafayette Street, in New York City, and in a typically New York way, sometimes at 1, 2, or 3 in the morning since that Crunch was open 24hrs. Mowgli used to wrap my tiny little hands in professional boxing wraps around and around, and then throw the gloves on me and show me the proper way to box. Not only that but he would take me through his old professional boxing and wrestling days workouts doing crazy situps and pushups that as a figure skater, I NEVER did. I never looked more cut in my entire life. In a way, I think I was born to box. What a rush of testosterone and power, it's amazing, not to mention a fantastic way to take care of any frustration or latent anger that might be lingering from the day... or the relationship. One time, Mowgli even told me to punch him in the face. At first, I was afraid, but he encouraged me and I think even said something that really pissed me off, so I threw back my arm and socked him with a right jab...POW!...which made him stumble back just a bit. I felt horrible afterward and couldn't believe how freaking HARD his face was, but secretly, I felt insanely powerful. Right there, let me say that I do not believe in violence, but in a boxing setting where you are encouraged to punch as hard as you can, it's quite liberating and feels AMAZING!

I think that since I have been training as a competitive figure skater for the better part of 20 years that I have it in my blood to train hard. Not only that, but I was raised around hockey players with my brother playing on the top prep school hockey team in Connecticut right alongside the famous hockey king, Chris Drury. Watching my brother's team warm up to AC/DC Thunderstruck or Van Halen's Right Now and seeing how the guys got their testosterone in a tizzy ready for the game, really planted a seed in me. For some reason, I seriously think I have a major testosterone thing going. Certain super masculine songs by Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Rush, Ted Nugent, or similar totally get my blood pumping in any setting; it's as if it wakes up the testosterone in me. When I'm working out, I get into super strength mode and put this fierceness in my overall being, including my face. Imagine Zoolander's blue steel, only angrier. If you knew me, a Gwyneth look-alike (only half her height, and probably the same weight), white girl with pale skin and a round face that barely looks a day above 20 (though I'm 31), it would be the most hilarious thing to look at. I don't care. I like to be fierce. I like to have guns (bicep muscles). Do you? Are you willing to be that honest with yourself that at times you just love to harness your masculine power and walk around like you own the place or work out as if you are Rocky? Cuz that's how I envision myself sometimes. Love it.

When Charlie's Angels first came out (I was born in 1980 so yes I'm referring to the Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu version, not the original), I fell in love. Finally, I could package up my testosterone, add a little French girl style and sex appeal, and some Bruce Lee moves, and there you have it - Charlie's Angels. Gone was the tomboy out of me forever because now in my power mode, I imagined myself as a Charlie's Angel. If they came out with a third, I would hook up with my girlfriend Szilvia (coolest Drew Barrymore stunt double and adventurer I know), and have her train me and introduce me to whomever I needed to meet to be in that movie. Tight black leather pants, 4 inch heels, corset top, and long sexy hair, yep, that's me ready for a Charlie's Angel movie. Haha....riiiight. No, believe me I'm not proclaiming to be anywhere near that sexy looking, however I sure would love it if I was and I LOVE to pretend that I am, even in my current 5mo pregnant state. I still work out that way. People at our Athletic Club must think I'm insane or at least get a laugh out of the fierce prego mama working out to Ted Nugent and doing pushups like Bruce Lee.

Ladies, if you are a tomboy, good for you. Embrace it. All I ask is that you avoid the butch look and aim straight for the Charlie's Angel. Even if you don't got it, fake it till you make it. That's my motto. Go get your black leather pants and your kick ass heels. Let your hair long and let it fly. Go ahead and be fierce, embrace your power. Use it (but certainly don't abuse it). There's no reason why us ladies can't be tough and kick some ass. Try a kickboxing class, karate, or straight up boxing. You might love how you feel, even get addicted to it. Just a few months into it, you might even look like a Charlie's Angel. More than anything, have a little FUN with your sex appeal. Get FIERCE!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I blame New York.

So they say:
Wear sunscreen. ---> I learned this the hard way...several times.
Live in New York City once, but leave before you get hard. ---> Check.
Live in Northern California, but leave before you get soft. ---> Presently, we reside in San Jose, CA and I think I'm soft already. We've been here for three weeks.

I met my husband in New York City shortly after I moved home from Paris France where I finished my undergraduate degree. Growing up on the east cost in Connecticut, we had always travelled east, rather than west, especially for my long competitive figure skating career. We travelled quite extensively throughout Europe and it was my dream to live there, which is why I quit skating and moved to Paris on a whim. Well, honestly, it was an immature "escape" from an old boyfriend after being dumped. I decided that the United States was too small for the two of us and moved to Paris within a couple week's time to finish university and quit skating at my peak. Fortunately, it turned out to be a blessing and the only thing that brought me back home was 9/11. I couldn't imagine being away from my beloved New York City during that tragic time and felt guilty being out of the country.

Upon my return, I was 22 and ready to tackle New York, single life, and a career. Since I was a little girl visiting my dad down on Wall Street, I was quite fond of the hustle bustle, lights, show, and energy of New York City. I often dreamed of being on Broadway and quite frankly have yet to outgrow that particular dream. Sometimes, it even takes on a more mature version and transforms into wanting to be a news anchor. I guess I was raised to enjoy being the center of attention, a trait for which my husband affectionately calls me "Q Pea". All I can say is that I blame New York.

To me, New York is the center of the entire world. And in a weird way, I really wish I had never visited or lived there and adopted it as home because at this point, I can admit that I am extremely difficult to please. No other city is quite as exciting, sophisticated, "happening", and eclectic as New York. It truly is the best.

When I first moved to Northern California in 2005 straight from New York, I literally felt as if I put on the brakes and was forced to SLOW DOWN and enjoy the finer things in life at a much more leisurely pace. The thing that I've noticed about "norcal" is that people here really know how to live, which is so great, admirable even. From the rolling vineyards of Napa to the exquisite cuisine of San Francisco to the immaculate gardens of Los Gatos and all the farmer's markets and Art and Wine Festivals in between, Bay Area folk settle for nothing but the best, but at a pace that is just shy of taking a daily siesta like those Spaniards. For me, I love the IDEA of taking the time to find the ripest, most delicious fruit or seeking out the highest acclaimed restaurant or cafe, but honestly I seriously have zero patience for that and that's what it comes down to. As I like to say, I have dabbled in fine French cooking, wine tasting, organic vegetable gardening, and frequented farmer's markets like a fake foodie, but I just don't have the patience to put the effort in. I prefer to walk down a short city block and know that the best restaurant in the world is right there like my husband and I used to do when we went to our local joint, Lovely Day Cafe, just a few blocks from our old loft in the lower east side. The Bay Area is so expansive that you truly have to know the right people to find anything around here and getting to know people is a whole different thing.

I have a theory that in New York, you have no choice but to meet people because the city is so overpopulated that you literally bump into your soon to be friends, boyfriends, lovers, and spouses. It's unavoidable. Your apartment is too small to enjoy being in and the city is so alive that you couldn't stay in anyway for fear of missing something big. When we lived in LA, had I not been the spa director of a very busy spa in Santa Monica, I would have met no one due to the fact that you only meet the people you crash into on the freeway, literally. In the Bay Area, it's not too much different. There is a lot of driving and little walking unless you live in a town like Los Gatos, Burlingame, or Mill Valley. But that's not really the true problem. I had a hard time meeting friends both times we lived here because I never quite passed the initial character analysis. It's as if people size you up by judging your character and your lifestyle because they don't really NEED you as a friend so you better be near perfect if they are even going to considerate it. If you grew up here, you have your group of friends, but as an outsider, that's near impossible to penetrate and if you finally do, it's a long initiation process before you are truly part of the crew. If you need an example, look at any alumnus of Chico State University. My husband had a group of friends in New York who ALL went to Chico and hung out every Thursday night at a Japanese karaoke joint called Juno's in the West Village. It's been ten years and I know they are still going. At my former job in Fremont, CA, there were a group of girls who worked there and hung out...and they ALL went to Chico. It's quite impressive how they travel in groups that never separate.

So why is it so hard to meet people here? Because they don't need to meet you. You are an outsider that is contributing to the overpopulation of the Bay Area. You are not allowed to participate in the esotericism of all the finer local produce, gastronomy, art, and music. I hoped that in marrying a native of San Jose, I would be accepted. Nope, but there are a lot of other reasons for that.

I joined a Mommy Group in the prestigious, super proud (not to mention snobby), town of Los Gatos with my son Che and attended the first activity, which was sandwich building for the local women's shelter. I chose that activity in particular first because I thought that the charitable aspect would attract the more compassionate. Nope. I swear that as soon as I arrived, the host almost immediately checked out my car (I'm currently car-less and driving my mother in law's, which comes with a major price tag I might add...another story for another day...I digress), my clothes, my wedding ring, my son, his clothes, his shoes, his behavior, etc etc. Geez. I think I passed with a few of the ladies, but found myself only truly accepted by the mommy with purple hair, but only because she was new too. She was a native of Los Gatos, but clearly an outcast. I asked her if she wanted to attend another activity together or meet up for a playdate, but as soon as I asked her, I right away felt like I was on a first date and acting way too forward. Ok, so lesson learned, you never ask out a Bay Area native to do something else on the first meeting. My husband was different and that's why I married him. With us, it was love at first sight and we were hooked and engaged in daily meetings, but he earned that right because he's from the Bay Area or because we were on neutral territory upon our first meeting in New York. If you think that doesn't make sense, then I dare you to try a little experiment. Go to San Francisco, meet a San Franciscan (in any setting), and ask them if they want to hang out again after a night of wining and dining. Guaranteed you will be regarded as an alien.

But I'm persistent. I may not be patient, but I know what I want (friends) and I'm willing to do what it takes to get them. I will not succumb to being a boring old SAHM and a loner. I will succeed in meeting friends and establishing my own "group" at some point. It might just take years. Patience is NOT my strong suit. This is definitely not New York and I'm eternally in a New York state of mind.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


My husband's work recently moved us to the Bay Area. After 15 years of working full-time, some of the time as the breadwinner, I am now officially a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). What a perfect way to continue my beloved dabbling.

My son, Che, is currently 21mo old and has been used to mommy working and Papa working from home since birth. Now that I'm home, I can tell that we've begun a whole new facet of our relationship, a beautiful new role of being the ultimate go-to for EVERYTHING and if you know anything about the history of my marriage and motherhood, you might know that as soon as I adopted the label, SAHM, you know that I just added a great deal of manual labor to my daily schedule. Compared to this, working full-time was a breeze and utterly relaxing, even as a very busy spa director, my previous profession, where I did, well you know, everything. When I worked full-time, I still made the family dinner, cleaned it up, bathed Che, and put him to bed, but now that I'm at home, you can add: prepare and clean up after breakfast and lunch for both Che and Papa, laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning house, pay the bills, set up daycare, tour preschools, change all diapers, and entertain Che 13 hours a day. Yes, some of those things, I also did while working full-time, but my husband helped. Now that he is working, he apparently became like a grandparent. Any of his previous chores have now become "optional" due to the fact that "he had a hard day at work", he's earning all the money, and he has no time to set up his garage, aka Lair of Solitude. In addition, I've started a much more structured schedule with Che since my husband's SAH-D days; he knows that Mama means business and Papa means fun. He'll still come to me with boo boos, but he never goes to Papa with "poo poo? poo poo?", the four words that signify the onset of a major explosion.

Ladies, we did ourselves a huge disservice when we decided that women were equal. Yes we are...however, when we told that to our men, they decided that we could do it all and yes they added to our list of laundry, cooking, and childbearing the following: working, manual labor, and if you own a home, construction, plumbing, yard work and painting. And if you don't look fabulous, they will leave you for a sexy, recently divorced cougar or a hot, young bird. (Good thing I still look FABULOUS!) Enjoy the guilt of living off your husband's paycheck (self-imposed in my case) because as a SAHM, that's what you get. Nope, not me.

Within 3 weeks of becoming a SAHM, I decided that I'm not willing to sacrifice buying the best of the best for myself and my son and explaining that to my husband. Rather than dealing with the money lecture, I decided to get my own part-time job. My husband asked me why I want to get a job when he claims I said all I wanted was to stay at home with our son. He told me what watch what you wish for. Clearly, there was a huge misunderstanding there....all I said was that I didn't want to have the pressure of having to work full-time. In all reality, I'm not cut out for stay at home mommyhood. Yes, I do love and nurture my son like crazy because I'm a good mom, but I'm also an overachiever. I'm a virgo with rising aries, an earth and fire sign, and I can't sit still. I need interaction in the adult world with the stimulation of the hustle bustle, so I've created a balance of working two days out of the house (because who can work at home with a toddler?) and raise Che three days at home. Fortunately, my mother warned me about the trap of dropping my child off at my mother in laws for daycare during my work days. For those of you with mother in laws to an only son, I know you know what I'm talking about. But that's a whole other entry for another day...which will be a fun one because my mother in law still irons my husband's t-shirts and calls him "angel of angels, love of my life". My husband is 45....CUT THE UMBILICAL CORD! And that's only a preview of her realm. More on that later...right now I need to go exchange my husband's shoes and get sexy for date night. Hopefully I'll muster up the energy for dessert...

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pea.

As an American woman, I fall under the Heinz57 variety, which I commonly describe as the watered down version of the cultures of the world. According to my mother, and her mother, I’m Scottish and English. Yes, I owe my good taste in indie music to my English heritage. I’ve even gone so far as to say I’m from Manchester, where all my generation’s greats come from…Joy Division/New Order, The Doves, and The Chemical Brothers. I’m also Dutch with a handsome pair of wooden shoes and a garden of tulip bulbs.

My dad and his parents add my French-Canadian charm, from which I’ve learned how to make a mean Poutine, which is a hit at Stanley Cup playoff game parties. Yup, that’s French fries topped with cheese, covered with brown gravy. Yum! A weeknight dinner includes Poutine with a healthy side of pierogies, which satisfies my Polish side, along with my beauty and yes, my gullibility.

It’s no wonder that my struggle for identity and “self” has been such a long, windy road. I pity the journey my son Che will now endure adding Blackfoot Lakota and Mexican, from his father, to his impressive resume.

How easy to be a pure bred something and live, dress, eat, worship, and work according to that culture’s dogma. Your search for self stops in the history books and family tree to help you figure out who you are and where you come from. I used to long for the story to tell during elementary school’s genealogy lesson that my grandparents were the son and daughter of their own town in Europe, but traveled by sea to America in search of gold and a romantic happily ever after. The truth is that during that lesson, my parents didn’t share a fantastic vignette of family history. Instead, they simply told me that I was a Heinz57 variety. When I asked how Grandma and Grandpa arrived in America, they said they were just here, with no knowledge of how or why. Other kids in class had brilliant, adventure-full stories of their ancestors and how they keep them alive through traditions and holiday festivities. Indians from the east and west, North and South Americas, Chinese, Spanish, English, Irish, Italian and French, but let’s be honest, I was raised in a tiny town in Fairfield County, Connecticut where the majority of students were of the European – white variety.

Everyday since then, I have been trying to define my “I”, “me”, and my “self” and I fantasize about how it would be easier to identify with one heritage. But of course, the beauty of all this is how that doesn’t even matter. It’s the unique sense of style, taste, rhythm, quirks, visions, dreams, and most importantly experience that truly define who we are. Now I’m not going to imagine that any of my stories are more interesting than others or interesting at all for that matter. This is simply an attempt at a therapeutic release, which welcomes commentary.

Elements of my story may seem similar to yours …the mommies of America who learn to balance the continuation of self alongside the nurturing of an other. We must maintain the instinctual role of matriarch, work full-time, and be different and fabulous all at the same time. Maybe they will inspire you to blaze a new path, conquer something frightening, or hear your inner truth and act on it willfully so that you may continue growth in your journey. I welcome you to mine in an effort to fortify our womanhood through a medium that we know best, for it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.