Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New & Improved

I've been trying to find a theme over at Wordpress that speaks to me and I've finally found it! Head over to the Happy Healthy Hip Parenting blog at its new address!

Thanks so much for helping me create such an amazing readership over the last two years. Please help continue to support me by subscribing to my blog and visiting regularly at its new location.

I couldn't have done it without you!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

101 Questions Kids Really Ask

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of a wonderful question and answer book on sexuality that was put together by Mary H. Halter, founder of Healthy Edudynamics, an organization that educates young people by providing them with the knowledge and space to develop a healthy respect for their own bodies and the bodies of others. Set up in chapters focusing on the real questions that kids of all ages ask, the answers provide parents and educators, and even kids themselves, with accurate information that can help guide them through puberty.

While the questions from the serious (What would happen to the baby if a pregnant woman did use drugs?) to the more innocent (Why do girls' breasts grow bigger and boys' don't?), there are also questions that are pretty funny, from an adult perspective but can seem quite important - and perhaps scary - to a child (How many minutes do you have to stay in sex?)

Mary provides honest, accurate and age appropriate responses which parents can alter for their own children depending on the situation and how much your child is able to comprehend.

101 Questions Kids Really Ask...And the Answers They Need to Know is available through the Healthy Edudynamics website, along with a DVD that provides a comprehensive health education program for homes, schools, churches and community organizations.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Feel Pretty

Last night, I got dressed up and went out downtown, and on a harbor cruise, with some friends who I haven't seen in a few weeks. I felt good about myself as I was getting dressed to go, and I realized that I was feeling something that isn't a permanent condition. I felt pretty. I had gotten a pedicure and manicure on Friday, I was wearing a beautiful dress, sexy shoes and my hair and make-up were just right. I felt confident, sexy and excited to go out.

This may seem strange to many of you, that I'm actually writing an entire post about this, but I feel the need to draw attention to the fact that it hasn't always been this way. There was a time in my life when I felt anything but beautiful, hiding my body and not even wanting to look in the mirror because my self-esteem was pretty much non-existent.

There are many things that happened in my lifetime that kept me from feeling the way I do now and I won't get into that here, but for many young women, feeling beautiful is not something we experience. I saw a video from Dove earlier this week and a photo from Glamour which caused a lot of stir which got me thinking about body image and what I have personally overcome to get to the point where I am now.

Some may think I'm being arrogant or selfish or perhaps I'm vanity-driven now because I can confidently say that I feel good about myself and how I look. But the truth of the matter is, it's not about looks. It's about that feeling that I have inside me. The confidence, the way that I'm able to look others in the eye and can speak proudly and with great ease, speak my opinion and share my thoughts and ideas without worrying what others may think of me.

Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we may not all be attracted to the same piece of art or have the same definition of what is attractive, but we all recognize beautiful people when we see them, those that we want to be around, that are fun to spend time with and that are compassionate and genuine and honest, both with their words and the actions that they take.

I feel pretty today and I don't feel silly saying it because I know where I've been, I see that young girl who I used to be and I recognize that despite my imperfections, I wouldn't change a thing.

Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty is trying to make a difference in the lives of young girls by creating workshops on self-esteem. You can learn more over at their website.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife

I read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger back in 2002, when I received an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) from the publisher. The book stayed with me long after I finished reading it. It was unlike anything I had ever read before, or since! Part science fiction, part romance, this is a story of love and longing.

I lent the ARC to my sister, if I recall correctly, and never did end up reading the final, published version of the book although I assume that little was changed. I had a difficult time explaining the storyline to others and I was thrilled when I heard that Jennifer Aniston & Brad Pitt (who were still married at that time) purchased the film rights before the book was even released. It was an immediate best seller and I nearly forgot about the project until they began filming a few years ago.

The Time Traveler's Wife is the first book that I mention to people when they ask me to list my favorites. The film did not disappoint, although I was prepared and made sure to bring plenty of tissues. It was amazing and brought me to tears with practically every scene.

I did hear some people around me trying to figure it all out (during the film and afterward), so I do think that reading the book ahead of time left me a little more prepared for the idea of this time traveling, tear-jerker of a story. It was beautifully portrayed by Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams.

I won't spoil the movie for those who haven't seen it, but I do highly encourage you to read the book first. It's an amazing adventure that will keep you turning the pages, falling in love with each of the characters and leave you wondering what your life would be like if you could travel to the past or into the future.

It left me with many questions, such as what would I tell my seventeen-year-old self if I could? What would I tell my grandchildren if I could travel into the future? Or would I just want to be there to witness and observe?

Friday, August 21, 2009

First Annual Dad Blogs Conference

I know I say this many times, but this site was created as a place for parents to come and hang out, get some valuable information and find resources but to also have a place to go for some entertaining stories and hopefully discover a community of people among those who comment and stop by.



Dad Blogs discovered my site a while back, or perhaps I discovered them first (more than likely) but I'm excited to share with you some news that they've announced just this morning.

From the lovely Dad Blogs Team (Pete and Joe):

There is so much going at Dad Blogs it is ridiculous. First, we have had a ton of new folks sign up. Apparently we were right when we said that Dad Bloggers are the up and coming genre on the net. There are so many high quality bloggers joining the Dad Blogging ranks every day it is truly exciting to witness.

Updates:

The Bar

There are a lot of updates. First, you may have noticed the new Facebook like bar at the bottom of Dad Blogs. It includes a chat feature and hot buttons that wisk you away to great places all around the site. Those hot buttons are important to remember because when you add videos, photos, reviews (I'll get into those i a second) and update your profile--you get karma. What's so important about karma? Karma can get you paid. Stay tuned because we are giving away loot in an awesome contest starting Sept 1st.

Reviews

We used to be big into reviews for like a week there, but they are now back. The review section is completely revamped and totally awesome. You can review everything from toys for your kids, to parenting books, to TV shows for grown ups and beer. Basically, just take a spin through review land and see what I mean. The great thing about reviews is that they are great places to earn karma and weigh heavily in that area--remember you can get paid to be karma king.

Chat

Yeah, we experimented with moving it around, but folks didn't seem to keen on that. So, group chat is back where it always was. One of the things that makes Dad Blogs so special is the ability for people to connect through avenues like group chat and we will never take that away.

Contest

There are two contest announcements for Dad Blogs. First, the current contest. PJ from realmendriveminivans and an illustrious columnist at Dad Blogs is hosting a contest to giveaway a children's music CD. The question you need to ask yourself is, "Do I want to win something fun and cool for my offspring?" If the answer is 'yes' proceed to the contest post and enter to win the new album from Milkshake. They are from my home town of Baltimore (go Ravens) and have been on PBS Kids, Noggin and Discovery Kids (their superstars--to your kids).

The next contest is forthcoming so this bit of info is meant to be a teaser. So, what I am going to say is that you can win money or a ticket to the upcoming Dad Blogs Conference. That's right--it's booked. Details are forthcoming so you can save the date. Anyways, the contest--yeah, you can also win a t-shirt if you come in 2nd or 3rd which isn't a bad consolation prize if you ask me.

The First Annual Dad Blogs Conference

This will be huge. Dad. Blogs. Conference. I just like the way that sounds. We are planning useful, informative sessions during the day, cocktail hours at night and much more. The conference is set for Chicago, Illinois from July 15-18. It will be all that and a bag of chips (chips not included). The first conference will have an emphasis on fellowship, networking and getting to know each other--like a big family reunion. The objective is to steal some of BlogHer's thunder and point the spotlight on the guys for a change. If anyone has any suggestion or amazing corporate sponsors that would love to throw money at the convention--let us know. Also, wait for the official post before you go etching dates on the side of your car door.

So, keep an eye on Dad Blogs. Big things are going down and we want each of you to be a part of it.

I hope I can be a part of it. After all, what better way to discover what dads want to read, write or talk about then to attend a conference that they created? Besides, this blog was just listed in the Top Dad Blogs directory over at The Daily Reviewer so they've just gotta let me in now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

That's Not Fair

We all know that life can be unfair sometimes, but explaining this to a child can be difficult. After all, we want to protect our children and their innocence as long as possible but letting them know that they can't always expect things to go their way, or win every game, is a part of growing up.

I took my son to Legoland a while back with a neighbor of mine. Her son is a year older and so, when we reached the Volvo driving school, we froze as the lines separated the kids into different age groups. One line was for those 5 and under, the second line was for kids 6 and up. This was going to be difficult to explain, or I thought.

My son and I stood in line with the 5 and under crowd while our friends went and stood in the line with the older kids, a line which was much longer than ours. By the time my guy was finished driving, we found them, still in line along the other track. My son was convinced that he was going to drive over there too and, while I thought about explaining to him, one again, that he wasn't old enough, I figured I'd just wait and see what happened when we reached the front.

When it was "our" turn to go in, the Legoland employee made sure to ask each child their age. My son, who up until that moment was excited about driving again, looked her dead in the eye and said, "Five and a half."

At this tender age that precious half is so important that it didn't even occur to my son to lie about such a thing. She looked at me (as if I were the one trying to cheat) and let us know that he wasn't able to drive on that track. She directed us to the other side (like we didn't know about it already) as my son took it all in stride. No crying, no temper tantrums, no complaining. And me? I was so proud of him for handling it so well. If only us adults were so calm - and honest - under similar circumstances.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Urgent Care (or the Tale of the Missing Condom)

Even though I was at BlogHer this year and attended several seminars and sat in on a few panels, I was not present for the reading of Knotty Yarn's Stuck in the Middle with You. Danielle read the entire blog post during her keynote speech and I am kind of glad I wasn't there cause I would've probably pissed myself from laughing so hard and then I'd end up telling everyone around me about the time that I had to go to Urgent Care for a similar situation (you know, to distract them from the fact that I had wet myself).

Oh hell, it's an awesome story and one that I can't believe has not been shared yet. So here goes:

It was the first time I had sex with this particular individual and it had been a long time for me (dry spell). I was incredibly turned on and it was completely-spontaneous-in-the-middle-of-the-afternoon type sex and everything was going well - until it was over.

After sex, I typically lay there in the afterglow and enjoy the sensation of being naked and not having a care in the world (as opposed to being naked in front of the mirror) but this time, that moment of calm was interrupted by what he said.

"I think the condom slipped off." He said it so casually that it took me a second to register what he was trying to say. Once I did, I could hardly relax. My first thought went to what day of the month it was, quickly followed by: Was I ovulating? Was the pill 99% effective with or without a condom? I couldn't remember and I was panicking and not even thinking about the sex anymore or how good it wasn't. All I could think about was, Could I be pregnant already?

As I stood up and looked at him (standing in front of me, naked, and with an odd expression on his face), I realized that he was more freaked out than I was. I started to get dressed and was thinking about the Morning After Pill and what I would have to do in order to get a hold of one, when I noticed that he was tearing the sheets off the bed. And that's when I realized that what he really meant to say was, "The condom is missing."

We both started to look under the bed and tossed aside the clothes that lay on the floor around us. "Where is it?" I said. "It's gotta be around here somewhere," he responded.

It was nowhere to be found. The only logical place it could possibly be was inside. Me.

I went to the bathroom to try and fish it out (seriously, Danielle, I feel your pain here). By the time I finally gave up on the search, my female bits were sore and I was seriously not in the mood to even face my new partner.

I was pissed. In fact, my partner would say (if we were still speaking), that he wanted to leave at that moment because I was acting like such a bitch. I was embarrassed, annoyed and freaked out (still thinking about the possibility of conception).

We went to bed that night with our backs to each other. I was not going to let him touch me again. After all, imagine what else could happen down there? I was seriously behaving like a child, blaming him for 'losing' the condom instead of laughing about such a crazy situation (which I laughed about the next day).

I went to Urgent Care the next morning although I made sure to call ahead. See, I've been there before and I know about that little window in the tiny waiting room that you're required to speak through when you check in. The receptionist asks you what you're there for and I was prepared to not have to explain it to her and the handful of strangers sitting there.

Over the phone, I told her why I was coming in. "I had sex last night and the condom disappeared. I think it's stuck inside me." I made sure to explain that I would not be able to say that out loud when I got there. I think she was laughing at me when she hung up the phone.

When I arrived, the woman behind the desk asked me what I was there for (I swear, she should've recognized my embarrassment), so I said, "I'm the one who just called. About the situation. You know. That I can't say." She nodded (fighting back a laugh) and said, "A nurse practitioner will be with you shortly." I sat down and everyone in the waiting room stared, wondering what I was there for and why it was too scary to say out loud and should they be sitting so close to me?

Apparently, getting a condom (or anything else) stuck inside you is sort of a big deal, cause I was called back pretty much right away and as I stood up, everyone in the room looked up at me, either thinking that they were glad they didn't have what I had or jealous because they still had to wait for their emergency care.

Once I was with the practitioner, I was much less concerned about an unplanned pregnancy and was sort of intrigued when she started telling me about "other" things that "people'' have gotten stuck inside them (notice how she didn't say 'women' or 'vagina'). My imagination was on overdrive as she removed the condom and provided it to me as evidence (I asked to see it) so I could relax and return to my regular scheduled program.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Absinthe-Minded Friday

Every Friday, San Diegans, tourists, and guests of the Sofia Hotel head downstairs, or to the corner of 1st & Broadway, to participate in a ritual unlike any other.

Last week, I enjoyed Absinthe-Minded Friday at
Currant, with a good friend. Our perfect evening began with an amazing meal and top-notch service that impressed me from the minute we sat down.

Our waitress greeted us and poured bottled water into our glasses as soon as we were seated. Not once through the entire meal did they let our water glasses empty. This is probably one of my biggest pet peeves when I go out, having to hunt down or flag down our waiter for more water. They took such good care of us through the entire evening, that the two of us were able to focus on our meal (and each other) without having to worry about a thing.

The large water that was brought over to us was a little intimidating...but the waitress assured us that she'd take care of the entire process and we just only needed to sit back and watch. She then brought small sugar cubes to rest above the glass and just below the water drip on each side of the table (one for each of us). She lit the sugar cubes on fire and when they melted, we poured a small amount of water on top to dissolve the remaining sugar into the glass.

Then she came and poured the absinthe into the glass and removed the large water basin so I could see my partner's face (and look into his gorgeous eyes) once again. The absinthe was strong. Much stronger than I was expecting and the black licorice flavor lingered in my mouth well beyond the wonderful meal that we had.

We shared the sea
scallops which were described to accompany "sweet corn risotto croquettes, lemon beurre blanc, avocado relish." Yum. They melted in my mouth and left me both satisfied and looking forward to the entree.

My date ordered the Roasted Beer Can Chicken, which I sampled and which I was very impressed with. It sat upon porcini and baby leeks, gravy and mashed potatoes. It was delicious. I ordered the Lamb Bolognese with hand-cut pappardelle pasta and shaved grana padano cheese. It too was amazing, although the long noodles (and lots of them) was a little too much for me to deal with. I ate quite a bit but when she took my plate away it looked as though I had barely touched my food.

We did leave feelin
g completely satisfied and wishing we had saved room for dessert. The entire staff treat us well, stopping by our table often but without rushing us or making it feel like an interruption to our dinner.

The General Manager, Chris Cooke, came out to introduce himself and let us know to ask for him if we needed anything. Our experience there was a positive one, one that I won't forget for a long time to come. Of course, having a wonderful person to have spent it with doesn't hurt.

Take a video tour of Currant or make a reservation for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Missing Out

My son's first tooth fell out last Friday at school. His dad picked him up for the weekend and even though they told me right away my heart sank from not being able to be there and hug him and see his face when he got to share the news. He did call me and I heard the excitement in his voice so it did sort of make up for the fact that I wasn't there to also see his face the next morning when he discovered the quarter under his pillow that the Tooth Fairy left in exchange for his tooth.

Imagine my surprise when this week, his second tooth fell out at school once again. And again on a day that he would be spending the night at his dad's.

They say that going through a divorce is much like dealing with death. There's a grieving process involved and even though time heals and you are able to start seeing the positive aspects of life from your new point of view, there are still times when those raw feelings come up and bring you down.

Parents who raise their children in two homes go through this process over and over again, from having to deal with the times when they're not there for their child (nightmares, milestones, first experiences), it's an emotion that is hard to talk about, difficult to express and at times feels selfish to even acknowledge. After all, is my son missing out on anything or is it just me who's feeling left out?

His father and I share moments like this with one another because we know how important it is for all of us. We have our son call the other parent to share his excitement when things occur that we'd want to be a part of ourselves were the roles reversed, but at what point does it stop hurting? At what point do I start being excited for my son and not feel sorry about not being there? Please tell me it gets easier...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Breaking the Law

This weekend, my grandparents will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, along with my grandma's 80th birthday. Her and my grandpa have seven children, most of whom now have grandchildren of their own. They have a total of thirteen grandkids and twelve great-grandkids so far.

My son and I will be the only ones out of the above referenced individuals who will not be there for the event. My heart is breaking right now just thinking about it but, since my ex-husband will not grant permission for me to leave the state with our son, we'll be here instead.

Up until yesterday, I was planning on getting on that plane with my son tonight, even though it would be considered a federal offense and no doubt my ex would have an Amber Alert issued for the 'kidnapping' of our child. Several of my friends had to talk me through how that would not be a good idea and how, more than likely, it would be used against me in the future where any custody arrangements or schedule is concerned.

My ex-husband doesn't have a large family. It's his mom, his sister, and him and I can't help but feel sorry for him when family events come up for me because he reacts the same way each time. I have to work hard to convince him to let us go and even harder to ignore him when he tells me how selfish I am and only thinking of myself when I ask his permission.

Our son has a family that loves him, that wants to spend time with him, and whom I want him to create memories with but it's very difficult being so far away and at times, I often wonder if things will ever change. Will the courts ever grant me permission to move back? Will I ever have the courage to request such a move again?

These are not easy decisions to make, but today I am wondering what's left for me here. I can write from anywhere and being closer to my friends and family would greatly benefit me - emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I blossom (as does my son) when we're there...

When mama is happy, everyone is happy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

GM Product & Technology Event

We arrived in Detroit on Sunday evening, approaching the young man with the GM binder with a wave and a smile. We kept waving, obnoxiously, trying to get his attention and then he stepped to the side and looked behind him, assuming we were trying to flag down someone else.

Finally, Sugar pointed at him and said, "GM. We're waving at you!" He still didn't quite get it until we both stopped in front of him saying we were there for the Product & Technology event.

"Oh he said. I can usually see them coming." We laughed, wondering what was really going through his head as he watched two thirty-something women heading his way, one with a tattoo (and obnoxious sunburn), the other wish a nose-piercing.

He escorted us to the baggage claim area where he explained that another young man, Jordan, would be driving us back to our hotel. Once we found our luggage, we stepped out into the 90 degree heat and waited on the curb for the Chevy Malibu to pull up.

Jordan was a spunky guy with long hair and right away, he won us over when he handed us water bottles and offered us candy or gum. Of course, we were hoping for a real dinner, like the one we had missed at the Heritage Center, but he assured us that we could take advantage of the room service at our hotel once we finally got there.

Sugar sat in the back as we started telling our driver about how startled the other GM rep was (I think his name was Kurt) when we introduced ourselves. Jordan laughed and proceeded to listen to us as we started to ask where Greektown was and how far away the Joe Louis Arena was from our hotel.

Before he knew what was going on, Sugar pulled out her video camera to show him the footage we taped at the Del Mar Racetrack the previous day and as he drove, he watched the three minute video as I tried to disappear in my seat.

Jordan liked us (he told us as much later into the drive) because he made a detour and took us past Greektown and then back towards Comerica Park, Hockeytown, the Fox Theatre, Ford Field, and made an extra special trip so we could stop and take a picture (which turned out really blurry) of the Joe Louis Arena.

We drove past Joe Louis' arm and saw the skyline of Canada across the lake as somehow our conversation turned to his Mexican girlfriend (very passionate), drinking (he totally would've bought us drinks if he weren't on the clock) and cougars (he made a point of letting us know that he thinks older women are hot).

By the time we got to the hotel (over an hour later), it was late and we were both very hungry. Sugar was anxious to see her daughter so we both headed up to our rooms and enjoyed a quiet meal before bed.

The next day, the true adventure began as we hopped onto the bus after breakfast which too us over to the GM Technical Center. There, we were provided with stickers to cover up the cameras on our phones and were given specific instructions not to touch the vehicles unless we were told otherwise (some were clay models although they looked real).

Bob Lutz, Vice Chair of New Product Development, spoke first and he was very funny as he talked about his reverse retirement, wanting to continue to work for The New GM, thinking that with all of the excitement over the "rebuilding of our image and changing perceptions," the real fun could begin.

Lutz went on to speak about the changes that we can expect from The New GM and how his goal is to "be a privately owned company as quickly as possible." It was clear from his speech that his vision for the company, moving forward, is one that he's excited to be a part of and as a consumer, I'm anxious to watch it all unfold.

After he spoke, we split up into three groups (green, red & blue) dispersing to the many different design galleries within the building, one for each of the four brands that GM is working on reinventing (Buick, Cadillac, GMC, and Chevy). It was in the Buick gallery that we met and spoke with North American VP of Buick-Pontiac-GMC, Susan Docherty, about the Ebay partnership that has just begun in the state of California.

Lunch brought us all together in the Chevy room where we were surrounded by future models, such as the Corvette, Chevy Camaro, Chevy Spark (my personal favorite), Chevy Equinox, Chevy Traverse and where the beautiful Cadillacs were unveiled that are going to be released in the next few years.

The bus ride to the Milford Proving Grounds took about an hour, so we were very eager to finally arrived at the 4,000 acre facility. GM CEO and President Fritz Henderson spoke to us very briefly before letting us all loose to test drive the vehicles that had been introduced to us throughout the day.

I was able to speak to him on a more personal level later that afternoon on the blacktop so I used that as my opportunity to share the story of our roadtrip in the Chevy Equinox just a few weeks back and to thank him for the chance to learn more about The New GM and to be a part of the growth and future of this company.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mother & Daughter Reunion

I spent the day in Detroit on Monday at the GM Product & Technology event with several friends and met some new people who I look forward to connecting with again.

Sugar Jones invited her daughter to be there as her guest and it was so much fun to see the two of them together since it was my first time meeting the eldest of her children. I watched them interact throughout the day, laughing with each other (sometimes at each other) and I was amazed and touched by the two of them and how they just kept smiling the entire time.

My mom is far away, although I see her and the rest of my family as often as I can, but it just occurred to me - while watching Sugar and her daughter - that I would love to have a mother/daughter relationship like that someday too (a daughter of my own, I mean).

This morning, I found out that one of my pregnant friends is having a girl. She is so excited about the idea of going shopping with her someday, or getting a manicure and seeing "girly" movies together when she's older.

I think about having a second child often. Of course, it's not something that will happen anytime soon, but seeing the mother & daughters together that I know, and spending time with my own mom really encourages that craving, once again.

And then suddenly I recall how very awful I was as a daughter - hormonal, emotional and so, so bitchy. I don't know how my mother ever put up with me. Which only means that if I have another boy, I'll be just as happy.

All parent/child relationships are unique. Some better than others, but I've learned so much from my son, so far, that I can't help but want at least one more.

I can't imagine falling in love with another human being as much as I love my son, but I think it's fair to say that there's enough to go around.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Dad Gone Mad

Last week, I went to Danny Evans' book signing here in Escondido. It was pretty deceiving, since we walked into the large bookstore and explored the entire store without finding Dad Gone Mad or anything that remotely looked like there was an event going on somewhere in the vicinity. In fact, we almost left, my friend making fun of me for driving such a long way on the wrong night, or driving to the wrong location. Then, I asked an employee to help me figure it all out once I had the Dad Gone Mad appearance listing open on my iPhone...

We found Danny tucked away in a little corner of the bookstore, where he was answering questions and reading from his book, Rage Against the Meshugenah. Perhaps his use of the word testicles or dropping the "F" bomb is what kept them from putting him on display right in front, but I was ever-so-pleased to have found him and the small, yet intimate group of readers there to meet him.

Danny spoke quietly so I walked to the front row in order to hear him as he read the laugh-out-loud scenes from his book that covered his conversation with his mom about priaprism and about his experience with his psychiatrist who fondled his shirt upon first meeting him.

I started reading his book the very next day at the beach. I couldn't put it down (I blame him and his compelling story for my sunburn) and I found myself both laughing and crying along with Danny as he shared his very personal account of being laid off (been there), dealing with depression (been there too), experiencing a miscarriage (been there as well) and dealing with his feelings of inadequacy as a new parent (yep, been there once again).

Despite the fact that this book is a humorous look at serious topics, the most touching and poignant passages from Danny's writing were the pages where he discussed his unconditional love for his wife, Sharon, who stood by him through his darkest times. He describes the way they embrace and how, mostly because of their relationship, and her faith in him, that he is able to survive his depression and come out on the other side, more aware, more enlightened and better able to enjoy his role as husband, dad and son to his parents.
"I'm more than a foot taller than Sharon...When we're hugging over something happy, she stands on a chair so she can squeeze my neck and I can kiss hers. When I'm feeling romantic (or reasonable variations thereof), I walk up behind her and wrap my arms around her shoulders. When we're making up after an argument, Sharon sits on the couch, I get on my knees in front of her, and I dive in to bury my face in her neck."
"If my life could be measured with the same kind of line graph economists use to measure stock performance on Wall Street, there would be a huge spike at the moment I kissed Sharon's soft, sweet lips for the first time."
Danny writes from the heart. He writes with passion and full disclosure as he sorts through the emotions and experiences of truly finding himself after reaching the deep end. Readers will travel with him on this journey as he explores the depths of his despair and reaches new heights with his recovery and through the eyes of his children.
"The sight of two caring, special human beings - that I helped to create - displaying kindness and love to one another (without being asked) shattered the mold of what I thought I was, what I thought a Man was. Just as the case was with the onset of my depression a few years earlier, the feeling I had at that moment was unlike anything I'd encountered before. And just like depression, that vision rocked me to the core and forced me to take stock of what was happening around me. The one obvious difference between these two moments was that the former left me awash in numbness and confusion. The latter flooded me with a sense that perhaps my life was just beginning..."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

Now what? What's next? Where do we go from here? These are the questions I asked myself as I sat crying in the airport after saying goodbye to the man I spent the last five days with. The man I gave my heart to years ago. The conversations and moments that we shared were long overdue but perfect in every way. Except for the sunburn.

I thought about sharing every detail here and relive the exact moment when we made that next step, the words that we spoke, the way he tasted and felt, but I also want to keep the memory of these events in a special place - between the two of us. Because it was a very special occasion, consummating our relationship after being friends (with much sexual tension between us) for fifteen years. Not that I've been keeping track or anything...

He got the approval from my friends and my son but now he's gone. The five days went by so quickly and now it's a big reality check for the both of us and I'm back to the same questions that I do not know the answers to just yet. What's next? Where do we go from here?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lady in Waiting

Dating while having a young son is a little challenging at times. He hears things (overhears things) and is exposed to conversations that give him a tiny bit of insight about how it all works.

I have a male friend coming in town tonight. My son asked me earlier if I have a crush on him. The question startled me, and I couldn't help but smile, and I know he assumed this meant 'yes.'

When I asked him to explain what it meant to have a crush, he said, "It's when you like someone."

"Then, yes, I suppose I do have a crush on him."

Seconds later he asked if there was going to be more boys or girls tonight. I assume he meant when my friend joins us, so I said, "There's going to be more boys than girls."


I can't even tell you how excited he was when he heard that. In a celebratory tone he stated, "I have a crush on him too, then." See, he's still in that phase of thinking that girls have cooties and he can only be friends with other boys.

I so want him to stay in this stage for a long time, considering how quickly young people grow up these days and get involved in sexual relationships much too early (in my opinion).

But then again, if he's going to learn about dating and what it means to respect, love and treat someone with affection, then I want to be the one to show him that. I want him to continue to ask me questions, because I know that he feels comfortable saying anything, (in front of anyone), no matter how much it embarrasses his mom.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Swing Set Safety

I don't have a swing set. Hell, I don't even have a yard to put one in, but when I read this email that was forwarded to me from a friend, I couldn't help but get angry. I

love going to the playground with my son.
I enjoy watching him climb to new heights and explore his own strengths as he travels from side to side across the monkey bars. And even though this report is both sad and disturbing, I feel the need to share the information with other parents, because being aware is the first step in keeping our children safe.

"I lost my son three and a half years ago to a senseless backyard swing set accident. Wesley was playing on a swing set that should have been pulled from the market in the mid 1970's when the first injury was reported. Instead, swing set manufacturers (knowing the design was a risk to children) continued to market and perpetuate this design in to backyards all over the country. As a result, scores of children have had horrific injuries--and my son is dead.

I have fought my guts out--along with We
sley's mother and sister and our families--to get this design banned from the U.S. market. And we have prevailed. Never again will the design be made.


The fight was horrible. Swing set manufacturers (including the manufacturer who provided the Obama children with their new White House lawn swing set) fought us with personal attacks and campaigns that were tremendously painful--all for money.

We won. But it cost us much.

But there's another phase in the fight. A crucial phase. And I need you to join with me in helping me.

While we were successful in the ban--the truth remains that TENS OF THOUSANDS OF THE SAME TYPE OF SWING SETS that killed our Wesley still remain in backyards all over the country.

That means that children are still at risk. And the CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION refuses to issue a nation-wide warning so that parents who have this design in their back yards can make the necessary modifications to protect their children.

THE CPSC IS DROPPING THE BALL and WE MUST DEMAND THEY DO THEIR JOB AND ISSUE AN ALERT. Even when I first called the CPSC days after Wesley's accident, I got a shove-off and a huge reluctance to even look in to this case. I simply will NOT take no for an answer. No grieving parent would or should.

Start here:
http://www.wsvn.com/features/articles/investigations/MI127331

Watch the latest tv report about this and GO VIRAL WITH IT. PLEASE--IN THE NAME OF MY BEAUTIFUL SON WESLEY--FORWARD THIS E MAIL TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW. PLEASE. GO VIRAL in e mails and on your Facebook pages. TWITTER the WSVN LINK. IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE TO HELP. ASK EVERYONE TO CONTACT THE CPSC AND ASK THEM TO ISSUE A NATIONWIDE ALERT TO PARENTS.

WHEN YOU CONTACT THE CPSC-- GO TO: INFO@CPSC.GOV

FLOOD THEM. THEY ARE FAILING IN THIS INSTANCE. REMIND THEM THAT IN THEIR VERY OWN BI-LAWS--THEIR VERY EXISTENCE AND PURPOSE IS TO WARN THE PUBLIC. My son has been gone three and a half years. It's HIGH TIME the warning happen.

If they do not do this soon---I will hold a national press conference to say that the CPSC is dropping the ball here. Their credibility is on the line. Remind them to reclaim it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Tainted Love

Today is Friendship Day, which takes place on the first Sunday of August each year, so I'd like to take a moment to share a story about what I've learned this last week about friendship and why - at thirtysomething - I'm just now figuring it all out.

If you're a regular to my blog, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you'll know that I spent last weekend in Chicago for the annual BlogHer conference. I drove out to Denver to pick up Sugar Jones and from there we hauled serious ass getting to Chicago early on the 23rd.

The hotel room at the Sheraton was under my roommate's name, but since I got to Chicago before her, I was able to check in but only by providing them with a credit card. Which. I. Do. Not. Have.

I had mentioned to my rommate, before leaving for Chicago, that I had cash to give her since the room was going to be charged to her credit card, but when I checked in, I gave them my debit card, from the checking account which had just enough money for gas and food for our trip home.

My roommate arrived once the parties were already in full swing. I had already stopped downstairs at the Social Lux party, made a new friend, tried to crash the Obama event, and was in the lobby for the Room 704 party when my roommate found me and asked for the room key. This is when I told her that I had checked in and asked her to stop by the front desk to give them her credit card.

We had different schedules throughout the weekend and, because she was pregnant and woke up with a migraine one morning, I was trying to be especially kind and stayed out of her way. I gave her the cash for my half of the room on Saturday - assuming - of course, that she had gone down to the front desk at some point over the weekend to provide them with her credit card for the room charges.

Saturday night (BowlHer) she called me and asked me if it was OK if a friend of hers spent the night in our room since they were on the same flight the following day. They had to be at the airport early and since her friend was staying at another hotel, she wanted to save money by having her stay with us so that they could avoid the extra taxi fare in the morning.

I'm too kind (or stupid), because instead of asking for money for the extra body in our room, I simply gave up my room that night. I ended up staying with my new friend and yes, perhaps was a little selfish since I spent the night away so I wouldn't be woken up by the two of them packing and getting ready to leave in the morning.

Because I didn't stay in my room, I wasn't able to charge my phone and the battery died some time in the middle of the night. When I woke up, I charged it, only to learn that my roommate had tried calling me.

This is when she informed me that the room had been charged to my card. My debit card. From the checking account that only had enough funds for gas and food for our trip home. I panicked. I called her back immediately but was only able to talk to her long enough for her to cut me off and tell me that she couldn't talk because she was going to miss her flight.

I was furious. Not only was she aware of the fact that the room was charged to my card, but she walked out of the hotel with the cash I gave her. Let's do the math here: I gave her cash for my half of the room. The entire hotel bill was charged to my card and I DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH FUNDS to cover it.

And this is when the Blind Anger kicks in because I cannot recall the details clearly after that but I do know that I tried calling her back to see if she could call the hotel and give them her credit card. She then informed me let that they couldn't charge her card without having her present to sign for it.

I asked her to send me the money via paypal and explained to her that I did not have any money to get us back home. I didn't hear back from her though because she was on her way to the airport and boarding her plane back home.

Chicago would not be the same without visiting Navy Pier but even that was difficult for me to enjoy since I wore out the battery on my phone checking my email every 10 minutes looking for the confirmation from Paypal regarding the payment that my roommate claimed was on its way.

Mamikaze was walking around Navy Pier as well so we walked and talked together, and later that night, I was able to enjoy a *very inexpensive dinner* with Sugar Jones and Shash at the World Famous Billy Goat Tavern and the two of them helped me keep my mind off of my lame-ass roommate and reminded me of how priceless it is to have great friends to laugh and chat with.

We ended up leaving late that evening, after my roommate let me know that her husband had sent payment (for the hotel room PLUS the cash I gave her) to my Paypal account. I was relieved even though I knew that it would take a few days to get the funds.

Wrong. On the road, after using my debit card to fill up the Equiox with gas, I discovered that she had sent the payment as an eCheck, which of course takes 3-5 days to clear. I already have an anxiety disorder, so this just kicked it into high gear as I literally had to put it out of my mind and concentrated on the ride home.

Sugar Jones was a little annoyed that I was in such a foul mood, so we drove and drove, sleeping in the car that night just outside St. Louis since we no longer had funds to spend on a motel room.

We straight through the following day, stopping only for gas and enjoying coffee and Rockstar energy drinks which, as scary as it sounds, prevented us from eating as often (and therefore saving us money).

We picked up Sugar's kids outside of Albuquerque the following night and I cried myself to sleep, missing my son who I was away from for a total of 9 days and for the mistakes, misunderstandings and missteps I took in regards to the money and hotel room.

The eCheck from Paypal cleared on Friday, July 30th. I got the email saying that the funds were now available in my Paypal account, but it still takes another 2 - 4 days to transfer the funds into my checking account. As of this post, the funds are still not in my account. (Trust me, I've been monitoring my account several times a day since last Sunday.)

My son and I have been trying to enjoy the last five days together, but I admit the situation has caused me to be a bit more impatient and irritable, bringing me to tears on several occasions and unfortunately, my son even heard me yelling - and swearing - when my roommate called to try and "work things out."

What I've learned through everything that has happened since arriving in Chicago, and may be something that only those who attended BlogHer can truly understand, is that friends are not simply those that show up for your birthday party or who send you pictures of their families during the holidays.

Friends that I have made online have truly been the most genuine, giving and sincere people that I could hope to know. I had the pleasure of meeting many of them in person last week and there were several people I met last week that I look forward to connecting with online and hopefully again in person at future conferences.

Today is Friendship Day and if you've read this far, you'll understand why I need to say thank you. Thank you for supporting me, listening to my side of the story, backing me up and for offering to send me money during this rough time. I truly could not ask for anything more.

Oh, and one more thing: My anxiety disorder does cause me to deal with things in unusual ways, so my roommate was right. It does totally suck that I got charged overdraft fees each and every time we stopped for gas or ate on the 2,000 mile trip home. And I too am truly sorry that this has occurred.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growth Spurt

No doubt about it - my son grew since I saw him last. I dropped him off at summer camp last Monday (the 20th) and yesterday morning, when I saw him again, I could not believe how much taller he was! His first tooth is loose and it seems even his vocabulary and maturity level have increased.

I, too, grew in many ways during this past week, having time to reflect, both before and after BlogHer, along the road as Sugar Jones and I drove across country, tweeting and laughing our way from San Diego to Chicago - and back again.

This was my first BlogHer experience, and it did not disappoint. There was as much drama, laughter, drinking and learning involved as I had anticipated. Although it was a bit more intense than I imagined.

It was overwhelming. I felt slightly intimidated, but overall, it was quite humbling to be surrounded by so many great writers that I have been reading and following and even more that I am just now discovering.

As a writer, I appreciate the advice provided during the humor panel, from the talented women on stage (The Bloggess, Bern This) and the many people I met throughout the weekend (Shash, Mr. Lady, Anissa, Shauna, Redneck Mommy, Her Bad Mother and more).

Being away from my son for nine days put things into perspective for me. It reminded me of why I started writing in the first place, why I formed this company two years ago and what it is I so enjoy most of all (being a mother).

I've been laying low this week, trying to put my thoughts into words and wanting so badly to sit down and just write, but instead, I've been spending quality time with my son, stopping only for a few minutes here and there to jot some ideas down, and publishing my best material on Twitter.

My son is sitting next to me right now, on his own computer, creating online adventures that belong only to him, and this weekend, we'll be celebrating summer. Laughing, playing, and growing. Together.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Child's Play X2

What makes Matthew, of Child's Play X2 a happy, healthy, hip dad? I had to travel all the way to Chicago in order to meet him in real life but from chatting with him through Twitter and reading his blog, I knew I could not miss the panel he was speaking on.

Before leaving for our roadtrip, I sent Matthew some questions to ponder so that those who were not familiar with his writing could get a bit more info about who he is, both on and off the web:
1) You started your blog in 2004. Had you done any other writing prior to that?

I had not. In fact, for the first year or two I didn’t even consider what I was putting on my blog as “writing. Over the years, however, I have come to love the writing aspect. Many of my posts are told in story form or there is a setup to a punch-line and I enjoy crafting those posts.

2) How has blogging changed (for you) since then?

Blogging has changed a lot since I started my blog. My cousin Maggie (Mightygirl.net) turned me onto blogging and back then not many people knew what blogging was. Back then there was a relatively small amount of parent bloggers and we all seemed to be having kids or had young kids. We would add each other to our blog rolls and comment on each other’s blogs and that’s how we built up readership. Now there are so many blogs that it’s very difficult to stand out.

3) Please share the story of how you came to be a speaker on the upcoming panel at this year’s BlogHer.

I’m still not sure how I became a speaker on the BlogHer panel! I was looking at the BlogHer website shortly after registering and noticed there was a proposal for a panel called Vaginally Challenged – The Men of BlogHer. It was proposed by Adam Avitable of Avitable.com. I think I clicked on something that volunteered me for the panel but then I completely forgot about it. Until I got an email saying I had been selected to sit on the panel. I’m very excited about to experience my first BlogHer conference from this perspective.

4) Please share your children’s (nick)names, age and gender.

I have four year old boy/girl twins. My nickname for the boy is TheMonk and my nickname for the girl is Swee’Pea.

5) How do you maintain a healthy relationship with your children? With your wife?

I have maintained a healthy relationship with my children by being as involved in parenting my children as my wife. As a father, I think it’s important that my children see me in a similar way that they see my wife. I also try to maintain consistency with my kids from my wife to me. The kids know that my wife and I will back each other up and that we will consistently enforce rules so there is no pitting mom vs. dad going on.

My kids also know that I am there for them. I keep my promises to them and I think they know they can count on me.

Maintaining a healthy relationship with my wife has been much more difficult. Having twins was extremely challenging for us and the first year, especially, was the most difficult year of our lives. Our relationship certainly took a back seat. We are only now beginning to try and schedule time for the two of us that doesn’t involve kids because it’s so important to keep our relationship strong.

6) Kids say the cutest things. What is the funniest story you recall about each of your children?

Kisses, in our family, have magical healing powers. Boo boos are kissed and made better. One day, my son fell on his butt and when I tried to soothe him, he turned around, stuck his butt in the air and yelled, “KISS IT DADDY! KISS IT!” I did.

My daughter is a devious one who is learning how she can play Daddy like a cheap violin. Just recently she caught me off guard by telling me what a good job I do as a daddy and giving me a piece of chocolate as my reward. I was so touched that my little girl was reaching out to me like that. She then asked for a bite.

7) What is your proudest parenting moment?

I don’t have just one moment. I am proud that my kids see me as an equal parent and that I am equally responsible for the upbringing of my children. I’m proud that I have made the decision to make my children a top priority all of the time.

8) What is your biggest parenting challenge?

My biggest parenting challenge is balancing time for me, my work, my wife and my kids. I always feel like one is suffering and often times it’s the “me time.” I’m trying to figure that one out. If you know the answer, please let me know!

9) What’s your favorite family-friendly restaurant in San Diego?

My favorite family-friendly restaurant in San Diego is Chick-Fil-A. I can get healthy alternatives for the kids, the kids often get a balloon and they can play in the play structure while I eat fries and drink milk shakes.

10) What’s your favorite activity you enjoy with your child(ren)?

I love going to the park with the kids. I love watching my kids take risks on the playground equipment, interact with other kids and then I often play along too. It’s fun being out and about with my kids and I hope I can keep doing well into the future.

11) What advice would you give to new or expecting parents? And to those expecting twins?

New parents need to talk about their parenting philosophy before they have kids. Both parents need to be on the same page about what’s important and what’s not. I think also that moms should help dads become more involved in the parenting – particularly if the dad isn’t sure what his role will be.

As for parenting twins, I think it’s extremely important to get the kids on the same feeding and sleeping schedule from the get go. It will make your life so much easier.

12) Who or where do you go to for parenting advice?

I read blogs and I read books but the biggest person I go to for advice is my wife. She’s an extremely intuitive person and she is a big researcher who has the ability to take information and make it relevant. I don’t know how I would be as parent if I didn’t have her support.

13) How would your children describe you?

My children would describe me as silly, a bad dancer, and someone who loves hugs and kisses.

If you have any other questions about Matthew, his family, his writing, or his appearance at BlogHer, head on over to Child's Play X2. You can discover all you need - or would ever want - to know about him by checking out his list of 100 Things.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The ABCs of Male Bloggers

Because I have always gotten along better with men, I could totally relate to what the guys on today's panel were saying about connecting with women writers and having female friends all their lives. I have connected online with several male bloggers and it was so awesome to see many of them here this weekend.

The fact that we had to come all the way to Chicago to finally hang out in the same room though is rather sad, considering that Matthew of Child's Play lives in San Diego too and Jim of Busy Dad lives just hours away in L.A.

As a single mom, I started to really appreciate and understand my ex-husband a little better after I began to read, from the male perspective, what goes on in their heads and the dynamics within the mom and dad relationship. I have chatted with Busy Dad and Child's Play X2 through Twitter and have really enjoyed getting to know them, both through their blog posts and by communicating directly with them.

Although Avitable is not a daddy blogger, he has a great blog which is very funny and quite raunchy and because he has named his balls and includes s
tories and pictures of them, it's kind of like the daddy bloggers who share stories of their kids and post pictures of them online!


Luckily, there was room on the floor so I could sit in the very front for the great panel, that was packed, entitled Vaginally Challenged Bloggers: The Men of BlogHer. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the session. You'll have to head over to the BlogHer stie for the full transcript and live footage for more!!
Avitable: "I'm the only whore here."


BusyDadBlog:
"I thought I pioneered the idea of daddy blogging."

"I'd love to get a book contract."

"I'm here because my friends are here."

"I only exploited my kid once."



ChildsPlayX2: "
We're trying to break through the glass ceiling of parenting."

"I've always had more female friends."

Many great conversations were sparked in this session and the women who asked questions added much to the topic. We got to talking about the men of our generation being more involved as fathers and more willing to share their stories and talk about their experiences in a more open manner than our own dads may have. We talked about the husbands who do not blog - or share as openly - and understand that the reason that blogging has brought us all together (online and to Chicago this weekend) is because there is a passion and an understanding amongst all of us writers that extends beyond our title (mommy blogger, daddy blogger, humor blogger).

One of the reasons why the men on the panel are here is because they are such great writers. There are many great female writers here as well, of course, but it's great to see men bloggers represented and supported here in this community.

Miss Brit did a wonderful job moderating this panel and I was so very impressed and inspired by the three men "on stage" who were also very sincere, funny and oh yeah, pretty darn cute.

As one audience member stated, "There's nothing sexier than a good dad." Or a set of balls.

Friday, July 24, 2009

LIVE from Chicago

I'm sitting in a room full, I mean - FULL - of bloggers - women who are writers and who either get paid (0r not) for what they, I mean WE do all day!

We're just SECONDS away from the major announcement this year. They're just making us wait a few minutes before letting us know where BlogHer 2010 will take place and everyone here is bracing themselves and praying that it'll be in their hometown.

At my table are a few women from the Denver - based carpool are hoping that it'll be there and I have to admit that it would be a beautiful place for a conference.

OMG! They're making us WAIT....I swear. This is crazy. I'm getting text messages from my Blog Her Carpoolers ' roommate from somewhere in this room,
but where is she? Is she broadcasting LIVE as well?

THERE SHE IS!!

I can see her. She's at the next table and it looks like her coffee mug ...

NEW YORK CITY


Hilton New York

near Rockefeller Center
August 5 - 7, 2010


Woo-hoo!

Oh, and I'm going to head to the GM booth today so that they can set me up with another Test Drive with the 2010 Chevy Camaro.