A Letter to the Drive Through Lady

Ah – my breaking point;
Without warning, it arrives.
Run! Hide! Save yourself!


Lady, you annoyed me today. It wasn’t your fault, per se. Frankly, you are one in a long line of people like you who bug me. But for some reason, today I just snapped. You were indeed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

You might be wondering what you did that was so egregious that I am now really aggravated at you… You don’t know, do you? You do this countless times a day. You probably encounter this yourself at least 2-3 times per week. Yet you remain oblivious to the annoying trait that I rant about now.

Please, for the love of God, stop handing me back my change ON TOP of my bills.

Do you have any idea what a pain in the ass it is to manage this? What am I supposed to do with the change on top while I am also clutching the bills? My other hand is busy holding my wallet… even if the change purse is unzipped, there is no way I can slide the change in there and have it actually go inside the pocket. Instead it slides off into “bill territory” or between the seats, but not before I desperately try to grasp for it. (One day I’ll just learn and let it fall without a second thought…) If you would just put the change in my palm, and then cover it with the bills, I could ever-so-easily clasp them all, deftly place the bills in my wallet, then attend to the change.

But noooOOOOOooooooo. For some reason, your training manual doesn’t address this. Perhaps you think that if the bills were on top they might get blown away?  I’m not sure how you could have possibly thought that thoroughly about my money, since in so many other factors, your attention to customer care is so slight. Have you noticed that I am getting hosed from the rain because your establishment has yet to figure out that a small roof over the drive through window might be a convenience worth installing?  Did you ever once notice that your cup carriers are so pathetically shallow that they have no hope of keeping the cups from toppling over as I gingerly hand them to the back seat occupants?  I know bottom lines are tight these days, but I’m tired of the brief cardiac arrest I go through each time the milk nearly wobbles out because I have yet to figure out how to bend my elbow backwards such that it would create stability ahead of my kids grabbing for the drinks.

So today I just snapped.  I wasn’t so rude as to yell at you. I simply made you hold the change while I dealt with the bills (taking my own sweet time, thank you very much).  You had to wait a few beats for me, didn’t you?  You had to hover there, half in, half out of your little window, not quite sure what to do once I said sternly “wait, just hold the change for a sec”.  When I returned my attention to you for said change, you looked at me as if I had a second head, and I’m quite sure you talked about me after you little auto-window whooshed closed. I don’t care. I’m done with the lack of consumer awareness that prevents you understanding what really matters to me.

Or is it really a lack of consumer awareness?  Perhaps it is a complicated, multi-player ploy to get me to tell you to “keep the change”. Damn you… Well, if you would give me the bills first, I would tell you to keep the change. Try me, ok?

By the way, my fries were cold too. Today totally sucked.

(Note: Change on top of bills never annoyed me until senior year, AP English, when Christy Deal pointed out what a hassle it was. I haven’t been able to handle it since then…)

Am I being replaced?

Sitting here jealous
of homework and puppy walks.
I don’t wanna work.


The change has been quite subtle… My daughter would run to Dad as much as me when she hurt herself and needed comfort. And then the kids would call me Dad (granted, they would call him Mom).  But a few weeks ago was the hardest blow… my stay-at-home-dad-husband did a very mom thing. He was thoughtful. As in “full of thought”. He thought ahead, planned and did something for one of the kids that officially granted him entry into mom-hood.

I was devastated.

I’m ok being called Dad. Hell, I go through a rolodex of names when I talk to my kids too. But I always saw myself as occupying unique space as “The Mom”. I thought ahead enough to buy the birthday gift before day of the party.  I realized that my girl was sad and needed comfort before the tears arrived.  I was sensitive, I was interpreting what was important and I was acting to avoid a problem. And dammit if he didn’t do just that.

If I were honest with myself, I’d admit that I was hoping this would happen. It can be exhausting being the only one who thought this way and I often bemoan (in my own petty little head) that he “just doesn’t get it”. But I’d be lying if I didn’t take some martyr like satisfaction from thinking no one could do this job but me; that no matter what, I am mom and therefore better. And slowly now I’ve had to get used to sharing the spot light.

When we both worked, no matter what, I was still the chief parent.  We only had the one kid then, and she preferred me; I made a lot of the rules; I made a lot of the kid decisions (yes, some exaggeration, but not a lot…I’m not a wench, it just mostly works out that way when you’re the mom, right?).  And then, he became chief parent, he was in charge most of the time – and I tumbled in stature.  It was very hard for me to get used to.  Still, I lived off the fact that both kids would prefer to hang out with me rather than with dad if given the choice.  And I was sure I still had a unique skill set that the Y chromosome was incapable of duplicating.

Snf snf. I was wrong. I’ll get over it.  Statistically speaking he was bound to do something like that at some point, and it hasn’t happened again since then so there’s still hope. But there’s no going back.  Right now, and likely for a while, this is the right choice for our family, all things considered. My life is blessed and I’m more settled right now then I’ve been in a while, much in part to how wonderfully this set up is working.  It’s just that the view is different from this position and I’m not sure I’ll ever be totally ok with that…

Old Women with Shovels

With a quiet strength
Old women with shovels can
Handle anything


This post is dedicated to all the old women with shovels I know.  I hope to be one of you someday. 

Did you see the article about the 85-year-old woman from Alaska whose husband was being trampled by a moose? She grabbed a shovel and used it to beat the moose until it took off. It was 30 below; they had been out walking their dogs.

I love this woman.  In fact, I know several old women with shovels who are amazing role models for me.

These are not “old ladies”. Old ladies carry handbags.  You give up your seat on the bus to old ladies because you fear for their hips.  Old women carry shovels, or the metaphorical equivalent. You give up your seat to them  in deference to their fortitude and the paths they have quietly walked for decades.

Here are a few of the old women with shovels I count myself lucky to know.

We used to live 2 doors down from my husband’s Aunt Sarah. Frank and I were doing a major house rehab — so much so we couldn’t live in it — and she would help us out. I remember one afternoon, my job (as unskilled labor) was to clear up all the shingles that had been stripped from the roof and now lay strewn all over the ground (where I swear they reproduced).  Aunt Sarah came over and we worked shoulder to shoulder loading the wheel barrow. Then she would wheel it to the dumpster (she wouldn’t let me push the wheelbarrow; I was relatively new to the family and still perceived as a city princess, I think. And it was true).  Once at the dumpster, she and I would get on either side of that wheel barrow, pick it up, hoist it over our heads, and empty it into the dumpster. We did this dozens upon dozens of times until all the shingles were cleaned up.  I was in my late 20’s. She was in her mid 60s. She worked me into the ground. I couldn’t keep up.

The Howard Sisters; Aunt Sarah is in the middle, in purple

Not too many months later, once we had moved in, I uncovered a snake under a bag of mulch. I have a real problem with snakes. Scare the bejebers out of me. Who did I go to? Actually, I ran… two houses down to Aunt Sarah. She grabbed her shovel and marched over to where the snake was, completely nonplussed.  The snake had already departed, but I was left with a feeling of deep astonishment and gratitude for this woman.  With nary a worry, she was ready and willing to chop up a snake to protect me.  There are 9 Howard sisters and 7 are still living.  All of them are amazing old women with shovels.

My mom is an old woman with a shovel, although her shovel is less literal.  First woman in my hometown in Georgia to do just about everything – from President of this to Chair of that, she has been a role model for many professional women, including me.  I spent many afternoons after school in her office (she and dad had their own CPA firm), listening to her counsel people not just on taxes, but on life. I watched her manage her staff — from the CPA’s to the bookkeepers to the secretaries to her daughters. She was always able to get the best out of each, and each felt important and vital to the running of this small business.   And 40 years after she arrived in that small city, she is still blazing trails. In her semi-retirement, she is working up an idea on how to help out women who find themselves, 20 years after shelving a college education to raise babies and keep a home, divorced and not quite sure how to proceed. She knows how to shepherd them. Her shovel is her brain.

Miss Atwater, my second grade teacher, passed away a few years ago. Major first class old woman with a shovel.  Second grade was a crucible year for me — I know that’s laughable, but it’s true: I tried to do just about everything wrong I could, all in the name of testing boundaries. Tried to cheat (got caught). Wrote on the bathroom wall (got caught). Was a jerk to another kid (I know, who isn’t at that age, but I still got caught).  She also introduced me to the woman who would be my piano teacher for the next 10 years, a gift I treasure still today.  Another gift she gave me was the Golden Rule – each day, someone would recite it in class, and that remains a primary guidepost for how I live my life today. Her shovel was an unwavering dedication that provided a type of guidance that was critical for me at that time.  I am a better person for her teachings.  And she did it for 30 years of students.

Women with shovels cultivate.  By digging in the earth to raise food to raise a family. By using words or actions or convictions to raise awareness or help grow the generations after them.

Women with shovels build things. They have “a lot of work in them” and want to stand side by side with the partners in their life – partners in business, in love, in friendship, in life. Their shovels topple things. They reshape things. They brings things into being.

Women with shovels protect what matters to them. They don’t pick a fight, but be warned if you come after one.  That isn’t a handbag, it is a shovel, and they know how to use it.

To the old women with shovels I have known and loved, thank you for helping me find my shovel and so gracefully wielding yours.

Puppy Pirates – the Art of Conversation with a 5 year old (Part 2)

There are no pit stops
On McTalker’s race track: just
Go fast and turn left.


Thanks for coming back to read part 2 of Puppy Pirates.  First, how have tactics one and two been working for you?  The Last Noun Volley and Big Muscle Maneuver can be quite helpful so I hope you give them a try.  And since it is fairly obvious from those first two tips that I’m not up for Mother of the Year again this year, I’ll continue with my final tactics, 3 and 4.

Tactic #3 – Character Acting

Pretty straight forward, this one is:  talk through the toys. AB got several Imaginext Dinos for Christmas (pause for a review – they are wonderful! Highly recommend). The velociraptor’s mouth opens and closes – the only one which does that. So when AB wants to talk and play and play and talk (and all I want to do is veg out, but realize I haven’t spent any time with the little guy), I grab this velociraptor and use him like a puppet.  Moving his mouth and talking at the same time can be highly entertaining.  I get to be someone else – kind of cranky and dino-like (sooo unlike my normal character) – and I get to amuse myself being witty. (Pathetic, I know…)

These types of conversations are never as funny or interesting in the retelling as in the moment itself, so instead, let me capture the critical elements:

image from Fisher-Price website

  1. Repeat to your kid something annoying they always say to you, in character. “No, I won’t wanna do that; I wanna do this! Stop touching me! Mine!”
  2. Build in an inside joke with your husband as you speak through the toys… engages the “trying to be clever-er than you” part of your brain, which likely needs some exercise anyway.   You can also try some double entendre (wow, what that hard to spell) with him, unbeknownst to the kids, and double the fun.
  3. Let your shadow side peek out. My velociraptor is part Eeyore.  He complains a lot. Doesn’t want to participate. Goes off in a huff sometimes.  Watching my son employ all the same approaches I try with him when he’s in a mood is great affirmation that he’s at least paying some attention.

I forgot to mention that tactic #3 is actually fun – way more so than just picking up a dino and moving it around… Taking over the character requires more adult brain, plus I get to mess with my kid, which is never bad.

Tactic #4 – Silent Treatment/Change the Subject

As the mothers of boys reading this know, our angels can sometimes be a little gruesome. The other day while in the drugstore (that place brings out the best in him), AB was singing about Frosty the Snowman… “with a button nose and two eyes made out of blood”. I’m not kidding. Where in the hell does he get this? I asked, and he said someone at school said it. (Yeah right, I’m thinking…). Anyway, after a polite request to not say that because it is gross, I was rewarded with higher volume during the next chorus.

Employ tactic #4: the silent treatment. Ignore him. We all know this, but I too often forget that this is such an easy way to move the conversation forward. Only takes about 30 seconds. And then you pop up enthusiastically about another topic: So, when are you going to play puppy pirates again?

And he’s off again…. Flapping and fluttering at 75 mph.  Truth be told, I’m happy to be along for the ride, even if it is exhausting.

A few last points.  If you are the mother of girls, you are probably frightened by all this. I’m sorry. I was too as my first is a girl and I was totally unprepared for mothering a boy. I promise you I will do my best to raise a wonderful man, but you have to get through the high energy, sometimes-gross boy to get there. Leave it to me…   Also, don’t tell anyone, but some of these same tactics (especially number one) work beautifully with the self-centered friend who always calls you to see how you are and then hogs the entire conversation.  Wait for the breath, repeat the last noun, and she’ll be off again, no worries; you can get back to the crossword.  And lastly a caution: I’ve also tried this same tactic with my husband (see this post) with less success because frankly he’s usually looking straight at me and able to read the visual clues, thus figuring out that I’m totally not engaged. Oh well, worth a try.

Puppy Pirates – the Art of Conversation with a 5 year old (Part 1)

Lightning McTalker
Speeds round the conversation
Leaving me in dust


I picked AB up from the gym child care one day last week. He was hunkered down in the far corner with the only other kids in there at that time – two girls. They weren’t visible when I first walked in, so it was with a little hesitation that I asked him what they were playing.

“Puppy pirates mom.”

Really? What’s that?

“Well, it’s when you have a pirate and then some pink puppies come along and after a while the boat isn’t going anymore because the sail is messed up, but a dinosaur came over and handed them apples so they had dinner, but then the snow monster came over and created a real problem until the puppy pirates melted him.”

Got that? Talking with him is like trying to watch a hummingbird fly. Just impossible to keep up. As such, I notice I employ a few tactics in my efforts to master the art of conversation with him.

Tactic #1: Last Noun Volley

This one is really easy to do, requires a minimal understanding of the actual flow of the conversation, but does mean you have to listen for the breath as that is when you can insert yourself into the conversation. Example:

AB: So I was pretending to be the yellow power ranger who is a cheetah and I was like pow but then he became a girl on another one and the table was heavy so it wouldn’t work anymore but the cheetah is really fast not as fast as a rocket but the movie wasn’t over yet so we went to the monkey book place where they were having snacks and some bananas. <pause for breath>

Me (quickly, before he gets started again): They had bananas? Really?

AB: yeah and then after that we blah blah blah blah blah blah……….. …………..blah …………………blah but they couldn’t wait until after the legos were picked up.

Me (again, with some immediacy): Did you like the legos?

AB: yeah and then we…

You get the idea. This tactic, also called the “last noun volley,” allows you to semi-listen to the stream of consciousness from your child and still seem engaged. You just wait for the breath and repeat the last noun he mentions in a question or statement (that’s the volley) — he then picks it right back up.  I’m not entirely proud of this tactic, but sometimes, after a day that starts with a 7am global call with a bad connection and ends with me forgetting an umbrella in a monsoon, it’s the best I got.

Tactic #2: Big Muscle Maneuver

This one requires not your brain to be engaged, but your body.   You see, every one of these conversations is coupled with an insane amount of body movement on the part of my 5-year-old. Remember the hummingbird reference? I wasn’t kidding.  What you do is simple: hold his hands in yours and get him to use big muscles.  He will continue to talk the whole time, but because your body is involved, he doesn’t need you to actually say anything.  Example:

What he says What his body does
So after the train sailed over the alligator pit…. While holding hands, does deep knee bends and then pushes up high in the air
The pterodactyl got caught in a tornado with some flowers and SnotRod… Dangles from your arms, pulling legs up to his chest using extraordinarily strong stomach muscles (on a separate posting I’ll describe his six-pack abs, not kidding…)
He’ll be alright through because Buzz Lightyear gave him that circle ball thing that let him fly… Flips head over tail while still holding your hands, falls down, manages to blurt “I’m alright mom” and is still able to return seamlessly to the plot (did I say plot?) of his story.

If you don’t have the muscle stamina to do this while standing, sit on a bed with him.  It will accomplish the same thing…

Position 1: sitting next to me, bouncing
Position 2: standing next to me, bouncing
Position 3: doing a seat drop onto the bed
Position 4: rolling off the bed by doing a forward roll
Position 5: picking up a stuffed animal and pushing it down my shirt
Position 6: leaning over to kiss me, while also grabbing the dog.

Again, all the while telling me about the new space car that uses poop for energy and how it likes to eat popcorn and applesauce…

In both scenarios, large muscles are used repeatedly, which in the case of my son, eliminates the need for me to respond verbally in any way to his story. I am merely a climbing frame that he happily ascends. This is a great one to do while on the phone (wireless headset required) or when talking with a friend, assuming the child’s volume is manageable. Some amount of agility and strength are required, but you might be able to count is as some resistance training for the day.

Stay tuned for the last two tactics.  I would share them here but frankly I’m clear that no one who has read this far has time to read any further (I count myself among this group!). A two parter seems prudent. In the meantime, practice these a little, but be gentle on yourself (remember stretching is important for tactic two). And please share any  approaches you’ve employed successfully – we are all in this together!

Making Choices – My 5 Roles

Embrace the choices:
They map your way forward and
Soothe the looks backward.


I learned something a few years ago from an executive at my company that has helped me with my work/life balance. He (yes, it was a he) hypothesized that each of us can reasonably have 5 roles in life that we are committed to. A role is something like wife or mother or tennis player or gardener.  If we decide to take on more than 5 roles, and want to fully commit to those roles (meaning we want to do them well), then he claimed something or someone will suffer.

I’ve been experimenting with this concept for a few years now and I think he is right.  Once I started thinking in these terms, I quit beating myself up for not “doing/having it all,” a self doubt-a-thon that I think many working moms engage in.  Instead, I decided that “having it all” was as simple as focusing on these 5 roles such that I was doing them well. Not perfectly, not full on all the time, but in a consistent way, with focus.  If I am able to do that, then I count myself successful, consider myself living the dream, and cut myself some slack on the things I’m not doing.  How powerful would it be if we could all see 5 reasonably well-executed roles as cause for celebration.

That isn’t to say that this is easy. Take a look at my current list of 5 roles.

  1. Wife (this is purposefully first, because it is too easy to make it last; I still struggle to give him as much time as I’d like)
  2. Mother (there may be a time when I won’t need to have this on the list, but not for a long time…)
  3. Employee (another “not really a choice” choice for our family, but still, have to acknowledge it is a role and it takes time)
  4. Healthy person (writing it down gives me permission to choose a work-out over coming home early)
  5. Writer/Blogger (new this year, yeah! Finally made it to the top 5)

These may seem obvious choices, to you, but to help dimensionalize how hard it is to pick the top 5, let’s list some of the things that didn’t make my list.

Daughter. Gasp! Really!?!? How can I do that? First, it doesn’t mean I don’t call my parents. It just means than I don’t focus time and attention on cultivating that role. Time and attention would probably mean more trips South to see them; a regularly scheduled phone call; more emails; home-made videos of the kids, etc. But I haven’t made this choice. So we talk about every 2 weeks while I’m driving home from work or on a random weekend when I get a moment. There may come a time in the future when their health drives “daughter” right back on the list, but I’ll clearly know it can’t be an incremental role, something will have to go.

Housekeeper.  If you ever visit me you will find dust. And likely a floor that needs to be swept assuming you can find it under the toys. If you are lucky enough to see upstairs, then you’ll see unmade beds and likely a dirty sock on the floor. Get over it. It isn’t a priority – I don’t put money or more than minimal time against this role. We don’t live in squalor (don’t worry, the kitchen and bathrooms are quite clean, the clothes are washed – even I have standards), and I do clean the house on a regular-ish basis, but I’m sure there are those out there who would frown if they visited.

House rehabber. This was a role last year (when writer wasn’t on the list). That’s because last year was our first full year in this amazing 86-year-old house which requires a lot of time and attention (not to mention money). Last year we focused on the house. This year, we don’t need to as much.

Sister.  Just like my daughter role, I don’t make this a priority.

Friend. There is an amazing women’s group that I get together with once a month. But I don’t have “girl friend” time the rest of the month for the most part.  Facebook keeps us connected, but I don’t foster the relationships like I see other people do.  I work with people I consider friends, and I like the moms of kids at school, so the itch gets scratched in those ways, but that’s it.  Sometimes I miss this…

Are there drawbacks to these choices? Sure there are. If it were painless, then it probably wouldn’t really be a choice.   But what keeps me committed to this concept is this:  when I think about how (even more) stretched I’d be if I also tried to put effort against more than 5, I realize none would be done well, and that is something I’m not willing to sacrifice.

Do I do some things outside of my roles? Of course, but I recognize that they will get less investment and thus lower returns. Or, I rethink my definition of it. For instance,  I’m a girl scout troop leader. Is that a new role or a “mother” role? I did it at my daughter’s request, so frankly I think of it as something special we do together – mother role, check.   I also keep a garden in the summer – is that another role? If you saw my garden you would agree it was NOT a focus area for me. Instead, I get the kids involved (harvesting carrots this year was a riot) or I treat it as exercise (healthy person role).  Again, you might see this as cheating, but I approach it holistically and it makes it easier. This doesn’t need to be any harder than it already is.

Lastly, you might ask “where are you on the list”? Healthy person – that is broadly defined to cover all the things I do to take care of my mental and physical health. Sleep in when I can, no work in the evenings when possible, Pilates class, etc.  Make sure you have you on your list too.

Brick House

Ow she’s a brick… house
She’s mighty mighty just let-
tin’ it all hang out
(copyrighted lyrics from the song Brick House by Lionel Richie, forced into a Haiku)


Ladies – we are cheating. We are deceiving each other and the men in this world.

How? With our bras and the external perception of fullness and symmetry they provide. We should be ashamed.

Why? Because these new bras with the foam padding and strategically placed wedges are hiding the truth. We should be stopped.

For the uninitiated, I categorize these new bras as “enhancing smoothers” and “push up”.  The first type is a bra with a thin layer of foam where a normal cup should be. This thin layer gives you the look of a perfectly perky, balanced and smooth bosom. The problem is on the inside, however:   I look down and see my breastfed-two-kids-lost-and-gained-weight-happily-lopsided breasts almost puddled inside this bra. Sure the bra looks good, and the sweater fits nice, but the girls seem defeated and sad in there, like they are only along for the ride but not allowed to get out of the car.

And the push up? Who wears this? I broke down and bought one a while back, but when I wear it, I get this boob-shelf thing going, where my cleavage starts just south of my clavicle and keeps going and going – this is attractive?!?!  It just becomes a place to catch crumbs.

In either case, if I were dating and wore one of these bras, I would be worried if my relationship progressed… he would know I was deceiving him from the start. What do you say in the bedroom?

“Oh, you look, er, um, different.”

                     “Ah…yes…I, um,  forgot about that.”

“Do you mind putting your bra back on again?”

Total humiliation.

But let’s assume that the bedroom wasn’t my issue. What would happen if an overly tight hug left me dented?  In my case would there be enough internal resistance to pop the dent out? I don’t know! And what does it feel like to hug someone with wonder woman breasts? Would they notice? I don’t know!!

I’ll stick with my normal bra – boring, lace, off white, functional. Far less anxiety.

I realize there are men reading this who vehemently disagree with me (my husband, who likes crumbs, is surely one of them).  And if all you are looking for is eye candy, then fine, enjoy the trend. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about them being deceitful. For the women out there who look good in these bras and fill them in nicely – more power to you. I salute you. But I’m going to stick with my original equipment for now.

Stop Driving Me Crazy – A Request to my Work Colleagues

My job would be great…
if I didn’t have to work
with any people


I work in a large company and have the pleasure of spending most of my days in meetings with other people. Sometimes those people (excluding those of you who happen to be reading this) drive me a little crazy. I’d like you to meet them:

  1. Mr. Fancy Words. He shows up at the meeting, sits back in his chair, and throws out words that none of us have ever heard. At the last meeting, he used the word “obviate”. Huh? Isn’t that what I do every 28 days? I cannot ever recall that word being used at work before (frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard it, ever), and I consider myself reasonably intelligent (don’t we all?). Put your “word-a-day” calendar away and talk normal, ok? Either that, or go hang out with the guy from Finance who keeps using the word ‘accretive’. You’ll get along famously.
  2.  Mr. Interrupter. He seems to only call into meetings, never manages to make it into the office. He therefore uses the handicap of being on the phone to talk over everyone else.  It’s not that he doesn’t know you are talking, he just decides what he has to say is more important AT THAT VERY MOMENT than anything anyone else can say. I have two words for him: shut up.
  3. Ms. Stand in front of the Projector. Do you realize what you look like? The velociraptor from Jurassic Park. You know the part when it raises its head and all the genetic codes are

    Image from the movie Jurassic Park

    projected onto its face.  This is what you look like. Do you not know how it makes your skin look? Dead. Do you not know your eyes get a demonic glint in them from the light? I beg you, take a step back – just 18 inches and you’ll be fine. Because otherwise I can’t stop imagining you eating the guy from Finance, or at least biting him every time he says accretive.

  4. Ms. Too Good to Stay for the Whole Meeting.  You know what? My next meeting started 10 minutes ago too. We are 2 freakin’ minutes from closing this topic for good. Please don’t go. You know you are a decision maker. If you leave, we have to start this all over again, and I’ll have to take my own life.
  5. Mr. Never Blinks. You, sir, are just creeping me out. I have watched you now for several minutes and I never, ever, see you blink. Now I can no longer concentrate on the topic being discussed because I can’t stop watching you. I live in fear you will catch me staring at you… but I also live in fear I’ll miss you blink. Blink, dammit, blink!
  6. Ms. Types on her BB and Talks in the Meeting Concurrently. Ok, so you are more talented than I am. I don’t care. Right now, you are giving neither me nor the poor schmuck you are emailing your full attention. No one is so special that she must multitask that way. I don’t mind you typing under the table – we all do it (she in glass houses…) – just pick one.
  7. Mr. Conversation Tick.  You know him, right? For some reason he needs confirmation that you agree with what he’s saying, right? And he tends to request this confirmation at the end of each sentence, know what I mean? This wouldn’t be so bad if his cadence and tone varied sentence to sentence, but it doesn’t, understand? Oh. My. God. Stop it. Go stand in front of the projector or something.
  8. I would be remiss in pointing out the pains of the workforce if I did not link you to this delightful video about global conference calls. Every time I watch it I laugh my ass off. It is a perfect representation of what 80% of my calls are like. I cannot add anything to it. Enjoy.

In closing, if you see yourself in these profiles, know that I do like you, but sometimes I just want to strangle you, understand?  Reading this and appropriately reacting would obviate your risk of committing these sins in the future.  I’m not expecting perfection – just try on some self awareness, please. If you lack that (which I’m fairly comfortable saying is probably true), I work in HR – ask me how you show up in meetings and I’m happy to give you a clue.

Deposits and Withdrawals

“Mom… I don’t feel good”
A ploy? A ruse? The truth? Ack!
Who can ever tell?!


There are days I seriously doubt my abilities as a mom, especially when my kids don’t feel well. I have this fantasy that in Little House on the Prairie days the mothers all had this 6th sense about their families.  A child would sniffle; the mother would go out back and find the root of the pine-prick bush and gently stew it with oaks leaves, dried herbs and tear drops to make a magic elixir that would cure the child.

Me?  My kid tells me her stomach hurts… her head hurts… his foot hurts… his eyes feel funny… what do I do? Two simple questions:

  1. Have you had enough water today?
  2. When was the last time you pooped?

That’s it. No magic elixir. No tear drop potion. I don’t even push on the offending body part to see if I can make the kid twinge.

Here’s the sad part. The kid in question usually drops his or her head and admits to either a lack of water or an under utilization of the toilet. He/She disappears and I never hear of the ailment again.

So, those MUST be the right questions, right?

I feel like the family in that movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding… “Put some Windex on it!”  Me? Make a deposit or a withdrawal… one will fix you. I’m sure this (among other reasons yet to be explored on this blog) is why I will never be mother of the year. Oh well.

In Defense of Poodles

Rip-snortin’ hound dog
flies ass over tea kettle
after the red ball.


There are standard poodles (click the link to see a magnificent one).  And then there is my standard poodle, Lily.

The linked poodle happens to be the father of my poodle.  He wasn’t near as famous when my poodle was spawned, thankfully, but as beautiful a specimen as he is, I’m afraid he does an injustice to the poodle in general.  Many people judge the breed by his looks and think that’s all they are about. What a shame.

My poodle is a hound dog with curls. She runs in giant arcs, circling the the backyard, crazed, after a bath. She chases Frisbees, tennis balls and deer.  She is home groomed and luckily doesn’t know where the mirror is. She sometimes craps in the house.

In other words, she is a normal dog.  Just last night, she treed a raccoon in our back yard. I am not kidding. Bolted from the backdoor, chased the varmint up a tree and had her paws on the trunk barking before my husband got out there.

Now, she does prance when she walks, I’ll admit it.  People comment on that: “My, that dog sure walks pretty” is what they say. But it’s genetic.  Just like my husband can’t help watching a good-looking woman walk by or an airplane fly over, Lily can’t help how she walks.

Some more myths to bust…

Poodle perception Poodle reality
They are prissy dogs. She would chew off your left hand for a piece of bacon.
They are aloof. She climbs on top of me and kids when we are stacked on the couch watching a movie… just one of the family.
They are dumb from years of breeding. I grew up with German Shepherds, an exceedingly smart breed. She is smarter. Some toy poodles, mind you, who have been bred down from the standard, are as dumb as a box of rocks with the smart rocks taken out. But not the standard.
They are high strung. Imagine this: you are 10 weeks old and you land yourself in a home with a 4-year-old boy. This boy likes you, a lot. He lies on you, he pulls your ears, thinks grabbing large handfuls of your fur and yanking is funny. Plus, the adults in the family fancy themselves more capable than the local groomer, so once a month for about 4 hours, you stand on a slippery table while they practice on you with scissors and clippers. No reaction. This is a chilled dog.

There is only one weird thing I’ve noticed about her… she won’t kiss your face. Since she regularly eats deer poop and her own vomit (she doesn’t do car rides well), I’m seriously ok with this, but I’ve never met a dog like this before. She will gladly lick your feet, even between the toes, for hours on end if given the chance (don’t do it, man, it’s creepy), but not your face. I’m not sure why…

So if you are in the market for a dog, consider the standard poodle.  I know there are a lot of xxx-oodles being bred nowadays. Labra-doodles, Golden-oodles. But to me, that’s like pouring ketchup over a top-notch tenderloin.  Don’t take a substitute – go for the original.

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