Subscribe: HollywoodFlakes
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade B rated
Language: English
asked  back  cher  day  didn  dog  don  face  good  kids  line  much  pixie  school  spike  things  time  year  years 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: HollywoodFlakes

Hollywood Flakes

Updated: 2018-03-05T09:22:04.005-08:00


Finding a new mantra


Breath in: I am Special.Breath out: I am StrongBreath in: I am SpecialBreath out: I am StrongRepeated for about 5 minutes daily for meditation and mindfulness.I did this for years and this particular mantra always felt really exciting and energizing to me.  Until I realized I was poisoning my brain with these words.  As nice as it sounds to think "I'm special" it's a completely toxic mentality that implies that I'm somehow better than someone else.  And by repeating to myself "I'm strong" I was inadvertently reminding myself that weakness is to be avoided.  I was shocked to one day realize that my mantra had been making me sicker.  More disconnected, less willing to display vulnerability and less able to allow myself the human experience.I have a friend who is also a recovering binge eater and we were talking one day about how helpful mindfulness and meditation is for the process of overcoming toxic emotions.  We were comparing notes on how we practice mindfulness and I suggested that having a mantra while meditating is a great way to bring the mind to the present and unattach from stray thoughts that may pass through the consciousness.  I mentioned that I used to have a mantra but was now looking for a new one since the old one no longer served me.  She asked what the old one was and I explained how "special" and "strong" didn't fit my new life view.  "But Hollywood, of COURSE you're special" she exclaimed with horror.  No.  I'm not.  Special implies that I'm inherently better than someone else.  Special implies that there's something about me that I didn't have to earn.  That there's something "unusual" about me when the truth is, there is no usual.  There is no such thing as a "regular" person.  And to really think I was special was the most pompous, self-serving mentality a person could have. I will never forget the morning after I realized I wasn't special.  My initial reaction was one of shock.  I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that I was just a skin-bag.  Walking sawdust.  Nothing divine or elect about my existence.  I sobbed for hours and let myself grieve my specialness.  I looked in at my children, still sleeping in their beds.  Their soft bodies flushed from sleep and chests slowing rising and falling with breath.  I felt more daggers in my heart when I realized that they were no longer special either.  Just another metamorphosis of biology that could come and go through this world as their compositions infinitely changed into other forms.  I could barely bring myself to look at them in my shock.  But reality was impossible to deny.  It had been a long night of questions and tears and so that morning I went to Starbucks for a stiff shot of caffeine to get through the day.  I remember walking into the cafe, there was a long line of women in front of me in all shapes and sizes, all ages and races and this is when I realized the real implication of my discovery.  At the moment I walked in the most incredible feeling washed over me.  I wasn't special.  I was a part of this.  We were all connected.  We were all equally capable of accomplishing incredible things.  It hit me that the gift of this life isn't in  our uniqueness, but in our ability to relate and connect to those around us.  I stood in that line and a huge smile broke out on my face.  A few of the women noticed my grin and smiled back.  My being began to brim with excitement at the realization that I didn't need to be special anymore, I could just be.Realizing my non-specialiness was a burst of relief.  I'm a part of the human experience which is pretty incredible but on my own I'm nothing.  People may choose to do exceptional things, but it is because nobody is special that makes all of human accomplishment that much more grand.  If we were all superheros it wouldn't be surprising at all when amazing feats were accomplished or courage displ[...]

I don't know who I am and it's better that way


In fall 2014 I attended a personal development conference and learned about how our concept of "identity" can either hold us back or open us up to amazing growth.  The presenter, Robert Fritz, an expert on the creative process ( asked us to get out a pen and write down a list of "Who you think you are."  I happily started scribbling and came up with the following list:Mom, wife, Mormon, Health Coach, Flake, Benac, Sister, Artist, Creator, Texan, Writer, Speaker, Bookworm, Violinist, Night Owl, Sociologist, Peacemaker, Independent, DreamerFritz gave us all a moment and then said to the room of 250 people, "however you define yourself on the level of who you are is fiction.  Anyway you try to define yourself is fiction.  You don't know who you are."I was stunned.  I was certainly all those things!  How could that not be me? That list of happy words that summed up a life, hopes, roles and more.  Certainly that had to be me?  My face showed my anger. This man didn't know me.  How dare he try and wash away my well-worn identity.  "Everything on your list is just something you do, not something that you are," he explained.  "Many of the things on your list probably relate to your relationship to others indicative of possesion, not an identity."  I examined my list.  It was true, if I took away all those things there was no doubt I would still exist.  I would still be me. Fritz then told us to pair up with a partner and repeat over and over to them the following phrase for 2 minutes:   You don't know who you are.   You can't know who you are.   You don't need to know who you are.As shocked as I was after the first exercise, this second one had my stomach in knots.  How could I face my partner and tell them they didn't know who they are or that it wasn't important?  I sobbed through both the giving and the receiving of the phrases.   I was terrified, livid, confused, deeply heartbroken.  And I knew he was right.  All those things that I was letting define me weren't actually me.  The person I was wasn't contingent on me having kids, knowing how to play violin, attending meetings on Sunday, being kind, I simply was.  I exist.  If I woke up tomorrow with no memories, I would still be me.  If my entire family disappeared overnight, I would still be me.  Those things I'd written on the list were things I did or owned, not who I essentially was. Robert Fritz then gave me the gift.  He said, "Since you don't know who you are, you don't have to worry about what you're going to be.  You can just enjoy the experience."  And then I realized, losing my identities, breaking away from the roles I had shoved my existence into meant that I could instantly create total freedom in my life to create anything I wanted.  If I didn't need to be a creator, an artist, a mom, and just allowed myself to be there was no reason at all I couldn't create without limits.  I realized what I hadn't put on my list.  The identities I didn't see myself as.  Those were holding me back just as much as the identities that were written down.  My definitions of self stole from me the one essential truth, I am free every moment of every day to create the exact life I want now.After this exercise the group took a 15 minute break.  I was shell-shocked and went outside to think.  I found a spot by a creek next to the conference room and just sat, looking at the water running by processing what I had discovered.  Three of my friends passed by from the conference.  Dear friends who shared my religion and career.  I must have looked awful because one of them came up to me and gave me a huge hug then said with great love, "don't worry, Hollywood, we know who we are.  He got it all wrong.  You are a child of God."  I just looked up and gave her a weak smile.  I didn't feel like telling h[...]



The boys in my seventh grade gym class really liked watching me run.  I thought it was because I was fast.  I would see them pointing at me and smiling on the side of the track and I ran even faster with great pride.  I was strong and loved ending gym period with a shirt drenched through with sweat. What I didn’t know was that they had made up a nickname for me. “Jello.”  As a dessert, it’s kitschy and delightful.  As a metaphor for a developing 13 year old who doesn’t know enough to buy a bra, not so much.  I was vaguely aware that my body was going south on me but didn’t spend much time thinking about it and just threw a bulky maroon Harvard sweatshirt over my outfit every day that year.  Who had time to think about the triviality of boobs when there were Roxette tapes to memorize?  Trees to climb?  Poems to write?  I didn’t understand the enthusiasm of my friend Kelly who actually bragged to us at a slumber party about her pink lacey bra and showed us the exercises she’d been doing to increase her bust even more.  Gross.But as seventh grade was wrapping up, one of my friends sheepishly mentioned to me that she had overheard my cruel nickname being thrown around by the boys.  This was shame as I’d never felt it before.  Along with that shame came outrage and exposure.  With all the things I wanted to spend my mental energy on, I really had to worry about this now?  How could I ever face those boys again?  I went from being a wildly outgoing tomboy to barely being able to look anyone in the eye for the last few weeks of school.  How many of them were in on it?  I stopped trying to fun faster than everyone else.  I felt betrayed by my body.  What was wrong with the body I had?  Why the need for this ridiculous change?  But I was smart enough to know I’d been beat and I finally understood that the Harvard sweatshirt had to go.  I went to my mother in disgust.  Could she buy me a bra?  Even though I had five older sisters, I didn’t think to ask them for a loaner.  We were an amazingly private group, I can’t remember ever once seeing one of them change in front of me growing up.  Heaven forbid I ask them to share underwear with me.  My mother of course was fine to add yet another thing to her shopping list for her nine children and picked up a B-cup on her next run into town.  It fit perfectly.  The first time I put it on I was appalled at the constriction I felt.  How was I expected to take in carefree lungfulls of the fresh Connecticut air with these straps all around my chest?  I felt like the contraption was visible through anything I wore.  All my white shirts simply had to go.  Was this really how I was supposed to spend the rest of my life?  Shackles around my heart?  Terrified of a strap showing and evidencing my defeat?  But they had called me Jello.  So I wore it.My family moved to a different state over summer break.   I did not cry to leave the only place I’d known and loved since birth.  In my new school in Texas, I did indeed rack up lots of nicknames, but they were all good-hearted and ones I was proud of.  I ran fast.  And my chest was bound.A few months ago my second grader asked when she would need to wear a bra.  Twenty four hours later she had a fully stocked dresser drawer.  Bras with panda on them.  Bras with peace signs.  Bras in the technical sense only, those junior trainers don’t do any heavy duty.  My fourth grader was similarly equipped.   I made a big fuss over it and got excited for the new accessories they could add to their wardrobe.   I lied to them about how delightful it was for me to get my first bra.  They took it all in with excitement and now love to wear them to school, the neon straps making no efforts to hide on their shoulders.  [...]



We've been exploring the idea of getting seven year old Cher private help to deal with her speech impediment.  The speech therapist at the public school told us that since it's just her inablility to make the "R" sound, he won't be able to spend more than 5-10 minutes a month with her.  There are just too many other kids with bigger problems.  So Spike and I began exploring the idea of hiring a private therapist who would be able to spend as much time as we were willing to pay for. When we told Cher that we were thinking about getting another therapist, she got really excited.  "Oh thank you, Mom!  Mr. Smith [her public school therapist] makes me really uncomfortable.""What do you mean, "uncomfortable?" I asked?  Cher immediatly turned her head and said softly,"Oh nothing.  Forget about it."My mommy-radar went bezerk.  "Cher.  Tell me what he does that makes you uncomfortable.  I need to know."It's not a big deal, I don't want you to get mad at him!"  Her eyes started filling with tears and she shrank into the big armchair with fear on her face.I keep telling myself to stop, but I do indulge in local news on occasion and am far too aware of some of the the sickos that have infested our schools.  You hear about them all the time. There was one teacher in particular that sticks out from a radio story I heard a few years ago.  An elementary school teacher in California who would duct tape his students mouths closed, blindfold them, then place live, gigantic cockroaches on their faces and photograph them.  I wish that was all he did, but there's even more horrific details you don't even want to know about but I've been unable to purge from my brain.  So I was NOT going to let this go."Cher.  I know you're scared, and I promise everything is going to be all right."  I went and sat next to her in the arm chair and held her hand.  "Honey, I need to know what Mr. Smith is doing that makes you uncomfortable.  It can be very dangerous when kids keep secrets about adults.  Please tell me."She stared into my eyes and then cracked.  "Well, it's just that I really think he hates me.  Every time he comes to the class to pick me up, he gives me a look like this:"  She suddently screwed up her face and made the most terrifying expression of insanity I'd ever seen.  I can only equate it to that moment in the movie "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" when truck driver Large Marge goes nuts in the cab.  It was impossible to stifle my shriek. Cher hung her head and waited to see how I would respond.  "Don't worry, hon.  You don't have to go back," I said softly.  She gave a huge sigh of relief, gushed her thanks and skipped off to play piano.  As relieved as I am to know that Mr. Smith wasn't doing anything truly awful, it really was just the push I needed to get Cher that extra help. Later that day as I was setting up an appointment with the private therapist, she asked me if I had a referral.  I was tempted to tell her that Large Marge sent me.  (Haven't seen this classic movie?  First, hang your head in shame.  Then watch the "Large Marge" clip here!  [...]

Baby Blue-Prints: A Sibling Donor's View


 (pseudonyms used)In June 2013 I found myself scouring the internet nightly searching for terms like "sibling egg donation" and "psychological effects of gamete donorship" and "egg donor success stories."  There were precious few search results but I read through the content of each result multiple times.  I wished there was more.  I wanted to find stories of sisters who had teamed up for egg donorship to create a life despite the hand they were dealt.  There were a pair of chummy sisters in England.  And another cute sister team on the east coast who had been interviewed and shared their story with an accompanying photo of them standing triumphantly over a fluff-headed toddler.  And then vast amounts of clinical studies which discussed the various types of lab-assisted baby making and the potential impact but each study concluded that there simply wasn't enough data to analyze. I also found all sorts of infertility chat boards where hungry hearted women wished endlessly that they had a sibling willing or able to donate.  None did.  I couldn't find a single discussion board for potential donors, just potential moms. What I found was that sister-to-sister egg donorship is either very rare or people just weren't talking about it.  I definitely wasn't able to find an answer to my question:  Was giving my sister one of my eggs going to ruin everything?She hadn't asked for one.   I had been emotionally supportive of their long journey to conceive but it had been almost seven years and they had no dirty diapers to show for it. One afternoon while chatting with my dad on the phone, he had vaguely mentioned to me something about "a really big disappointment" with my big sister Maisy's latest invitro cycle.  I made up an excuse to end the call, stepped out into the backyard where Spike was mowing the lawn, motioned for him to cut the engine and yelled out, "can I offer Maisy one of my eggs?""Uh...if you want to.""K, thanks!"I stepped back inside, the door swung shut, and I texted Maisy and said I had something to run by her and would she please call me.  She called back the next morning on her way to work.  I'm not one for small talk so I just let her know I'd heard she'd hit another obstacle, and my eggs were farm fresh should she need any.  I was pretty surprised when she replied that they had actually just met with her doctor the day before and had discussed for the first time the option of finding an egg donor.  Three days later I was in a fertility clinic getting a sonogram to see just how good an offer I had made.  The results came back that I was plenty fertile and met the preliminary requirements for donorship.  I scheduled a trip to the east coast for more screening.After the initial appointments made and potential timeline laid out, I finally started really thinking about the offer I had made.  Spike and I have two beautiful, healthy, smart daughters but had hoped for more.  Between the two of us we make great fajitas, inappropriate jokes and campfires, but doctors agree that our baby making days are over.  I'd spent the first two years after we found out  moping around our house struggling to redefine my sense of purpose.  It took a while, but I'd truly come to peace with our reality.  I've jumped headfirst into a fulfilling career, indulged in my hobbies and soaked up all the time possible with my children.  I now know better than to take them for granted and our family time has increased dramatically in quality.  We are rich with the joy of our children.  Why ask for more?  But questions surrounding my offer began bubbling up faster and faster.What if going through this process brought back the feelings of loss I'd worked so hard to heal?What if I became angry seeing my sister with a baby I wished was mine and our relationship suffered?What if got too attached to the[...]

Tail Tucked


"So what exactly is the problem with the dog?""Well, she keeps pooping in the house, won't stop barking when she's outside, wants to lick our faces all the time and is super hyper.""So...she's acting like a dog?""Yes."We had to admit defeat today and report ourselves as bad dog owners.  Poor Pumpkin was returned to the animal shelter after a few months of frantic pooping, licking and loving us to insane amounts.  I admit I always thought I was a dog person.  I had grown up with a dog and still get weepy at the thought of her death.  That dog was my family as much as any of my other eight siblings.  So now that our kids are older, we decided to jump in last February and do the dog thing for the same great experience. But two attempts later, the problem is clear.This afternoon we scooped up sweet, adoring Pumpkin and took the drive of shame to the Henderson Animal Shelter.  When we stepped inside she was already trembling and her licking reflex in overdrive.  The hipster behind the counter gave me a dry look but I steeled myself and robotically walked forward.  I was doing a good thing.  I was getting a dog out of a home that didn't love her.   The girls and Spike had both begged me to return her. She would find a better home.  She would find people who's hearts melted at her gaze and let her sleep nestled into their bosoms during the night.  I could be giving her away on Craistlist or selling her to the Asian diner down the road, but I chose the responsible path of admitting defeat and leaving her in a safe harbor.  This is what I told myself as I walked up to the counter.Seven year old Cher insisted on coming with me.  I was hesitant at first because I didn't want her to break down sobbing like I did when we surrendered our first dog this past summer.  But she was adamant that she thought returning the dog was the right thing so I brought her along for moral support.  As I stood at the counter filling out the form with my reasons for surrendering Pumpkin, Cher sat behind me with her eyes getting bigger and wetter.  Her arms were latched around Pumpkins' neck and despite her best efforts to be strong, a fat tear plopped into the red fur.  I knew we had to get out quick before the wailing began but the hipster was in no hurry to let us escape our shame and wielded the exquisite torture mechanism of paperwork.The form asked for the reasons we were surrendering the dog.  There were all sorts of boxes about possible aggression, medical conditions, potty training, cooperation with kids and other pets, etc. There were no boxes I could check to admit that I was just a lousy human being who didn't want to spend any extra emotional energy cleaning poop off my guest room floor or wrestling dirty underwear from our dog's mouth.  No box where I could check that I got a sick feeling in my stomach when the dog tried to lick my face in affection.  And definitely not a line where I could describe how her big, unblinking eyes creeped me out when they stared at me through the gate every day when I came home from errands. So when he asked, "So...she's acting like a dog?" I answered, "Yes.  And we're just really bad owners and will be taking a break from pet-ownership for a while."  The hipster nodded his head curtly in agreement and tried his best not to look me in the eye, a grimace plain under his attractive facial hair. An eternity later, a woman came to escort Pumpkin back to the kennel.  Char was holding her breath trying not to lose it and turning a sickly shade of green. The minute Pumpkin was out of our jurisdiction, I grabbed Char and ran to the car.  Her wails began the instant her door slammed.  They renewed tonight when I brought out a treat for the kids before bed, homemade pumpkin bread.  Whoops.So if anyone has a Tamagotchi they are no longer able to care for[...]

Back for More!


For Christmas in 2014, I wrote poetry books for both my husband and my daughters and it just got me all itchy again to start writing more regularly.  I love my job as a private coach, but it definitely doesn't address my need for saying wildly strange things to large groups of anonymous humans and not knowing their reactions.  So for my 2015 New Year's resolution, my husband and I agreed it would be very good for my mental health (and possibly very bad for others!) if I made a commitment to blog at least twice a week on whatever tumbled off my brain.I have to admit, I've been occasionally writing blog posts for the past few years, but haven't been publishing them because since there has been so little content, the pressure for the post to be "good" or "worth it" was a little too much and I was hesitant to publish.  So just know this post will be neither and I'm setting a low bar so I can stick to my resolution! I'm not enabling comments for a while but probably will after a few more posts.  Just trying to get my sea-legs back for now.Today's topic, Cleanliness.  I had a feeling when I married Spike that he was a tidy boy.  Back in our courting-days, we had more than one date to the car wash where he fastidiously vacuumed his car for inappropriate periods of time.  Sexy, right? And I knew he'd had a job cleaning vacated apartments at BYU before we met and had mad cleaning skills.  Unfortunately for him, we met, fell in love almost instantly, and I proceeded to trash his world, his car, his house and his sense of dignity.  Fourteen years later, I find myself needing to lower my cleanliness level even more to keep up with his increased vigilance for neatness.  It is quite a chore to keep a messy kitchen when he's around but someone has got to do it. It wouldn't do for me to live in a tidy house.  A tidy house means there are no more projects to be done.  No amazing feats in progress.  No excuses why I can't volunteer at every PTA event.  It's not healthy or natural and I refuse to be a part of it.  Tonight while I was working on a project, he snuck off with the girls and vacuumed under the couch cushions of all things!  WHY?!  What's even the point of that?  Little Cher came and ratted him out to me like a good daughter should.  And now here I sit.  On a coach with no history, no hidden treasures, no ecosystem and no soul.  It's all I can do not to run to the pantry, grab a handful of potato chips, crush them up and stuff them under the cushions again along with some broken crayons.  But I won't.  I'll just sit here like a movie star on my perfect couch and think about all the women who deserve my guy more than I do.  So many.To close, here's one of the poems I wrote for my girls this Christmas based off their own misadventures in cleanliness:A Fresh StartOn Monday mother filled the bath, but I read a book instead.On Tuesday mother asked again, so I hid under the bed.Wednesday came, she asked once more, I went to play with chums.On Thursday Mother came to ask, she must so hate dry bums!On Friday when the order came I faked a violent chill.On Saturday she begged again, her tone had gotten shrill.But Sunday morn I had to say, the smell was quite obsceneSo Monday’s undies I did change, now I’m all fresh and clean![...]

What I'm Doing Lately


This is me 3 months prior to starting the program, and 2.5 months after starting.  Seriously.  I can't believe it either!
Hello, World!  Just my annual post on the now tenured Hollywood Flakes blog.  I've actually started a new site at  For those I'm not connected to on Facebook, I did want to let everyone know what I'm up to these days.  I got really fat, and then decided to lose the weight but couldn't manage it until I found an amazing lifestyle program.  It taught me how to manage portion control, stress eating, frequent meals, and offered lots of amazing support.  I went from a size 14 to a size 4 in less than three months and have never felt more amazing!  I've developed all kinds of habits and coping skills to help me keep the weight off and actually did so well on the program that I was trained and became a Certified Health Coach on the program myself!  I'm currently helping friends, family, and even a handful of total strangers across the country succeed on my same plan and am teaching them the skills I learned.  I'd love to help anyone out there who is struggling with their weight and looking for an end to yo-yo diets that leave you clueless after the weight comes off.

If you'd like more information, please visit my coaching website at  It's got a good overview of the plan and some great videos.  My coaching services are individualized, private and dedicated!  We can communicate over phone, email or text so it really doesn't matter where you live.  It's hard to do this kind of thing on your own and I've been through it and know how to get you there too.  I'm really excited about being a coach and am loving helping the people around me get healthier on the program.  And hey, what's better - reading daily posts on my blog or checking in with me individually all the time while you get your sexy back?  Spread the word to anyone you think is looking for support - it could literally save someone's life.

Live Well!!

Hollywood is on Kickstarter!


You know it's big news when I refer to myself in the third person in my post title!  My toys business is ridiculously busy and without giving up sleep altogether, I can't sew enough to meet demand.  Take a sec and watch my Kickstarter video here;

There are all kind of goodies you can get from participating in my project like custom toys, zines, stickers, web shout outs, and generally warm fuzzies all around when my brand is known throughout the entire universe.  And as a special incentive for my poor, postless blog followers, if this project gets funded, I'll post every day for a month right here on Hollywood Flakes about anything BUT toys.

A Musical Treat: tUnE yArDs


I like to listen to podcasts while I sew and yesterday I ran across an interview with Merrill Garbus, who created the musical act, tUnE yArDs.  My ears perked up since I was best buddies with a Merrill Garbus growing up who shared the same, milky voice and artistic sensibilities.  And it's not a common name so I ran to the internet, did an image search and there she was.  I hadn't seen her since 1992, but there was no doubt, my little friend had climbed the ranks and now was a famous indie queen.  I listened to her stuff online and fell in love.  So I just wanted to share some of it here for you guys.  I kind of think she's a genius.  What do you think?

For my other Connecticut buddies reading this, did you guys know about this?  I think she's only really gotten "famous" the last few years but I can't help but think she's going to be big.  Here's a little blurb about her from hipsterrunoff:

Yeah, I'm totally jealous.

A Room to Rent


It's blazing hot here in Vegas, so when I driving back from my errands this afternoon and saw a women trudging down the street carrying three huge bags, I stopped the car and asked if she needed a ride anywhere.  "I need a room," she said with a desperate tone in her voice.  "Do you know of anyone in this neighborhood with a room to rent?"

I didn't.  But I couldn't very well let her stay on the street so I said she could come back to my house and we'd make some calls to find her somewhere to stay.  She was beautiful by anyone's standards, wearing a super revealing outfit and jumpy as all get-out.  "Thank you so much," she said, "I don't want to talk about my situation, but I really need a place to stay right now.
"There's a local women's shelter close by," I offered.  They always have rooms available and I could drop you off right now."
"No, no," she said distractedly.  "I don't want to talk about my situation.  I just need a place to stay."

So I brought her back to my home.  As we walked through the door, I let her know that she was welcome to stay for the day and could have any food in my kitchen and use of my phone.  But she wasn't listening.  Instead, she was slowly looking around my home with wide eyes.  Then said to me with great concern, "has someone been in here?"
"What do you mean?"
"It looks like you've been robbed."
"Oh no, I just have little kids and haven't cleaned the house since Friday.  It's always a little messy," I assured her. Sure, my house was a little untidy, but I didn't feel like it was anything out of the ordinary.  My guest didn't look convinced.  She slowly reached for my hand.
"Are you okay?" she asked me?  "Are you in trouble?"  Her eyes were filled with terror.
"No, really, I'm just a little messy.  My family is out of town this weekend and I've been doing projects so the place is a mess."
"Do you need to hire someone to help you clean?  I know someone..."
"No thanks," I laughed.  "It's just part of having kids."  My casual attitude didn't calm her.
She looked at a the dishes strewed around the kitchen and then blurted out, "I have to go.  Something is wrong about this place.  I can't stay."
And so she picked up her three huge bags and high-tailed it for the door, casting terrified looks at my untidy house on the way back out into the 110 degree heat.
Now I'm no Martha Stewart, but I'd like to think that my home would be a very nice place for a drugged out gal to spend an afternoon.  Then again, I probably didn't want my home robbed so maybe it's for the best.  But it still smarts a bit that she'd pick the Vegas elements over my childrens' mess.  Maybe I'm the crazy one for living like this.  Anyone have a room I could rent?

The Runaway Bunny


Today was the day.  I had decided last night that this would be the day of my independence.  Fat Lawrence had got to go.  Of my three rabbits, he's the only one who manages to escape from his cage daily and engages me in hot blooded scrambling for hours around my back yard.  It's just not cool to play on a lawn covered in bunny poop all summer so today would be the last chase.  I woke up bright and early this morning and was ready for war. At 7:30 am, I put on my running shoes and went into the back yard.  There he was, under the honeysuckle lazily chewing a twig.  I ran, he ran.  As long as I didn't lose sight of him, I could always catch him eventually.  So when the sprinklers came on, I chose to continue the pursuit rather than go to the garage to turn them off.  Over an hour later, dripping wet, my hair full of twigs and leaves, and a heart full of hate, I was ready to end the war.  Fat Lawrence had evaded all my traps, slipped through my wet fingers and bounded out of captures too many times and I was ready for the coup de grace.  If I couldn't win the physical game, I could try to win the mental one.  He sat crouched under the pomegranate tree, ready to spring away at my first move.  Instead, I made the most horrific, hissing, growing noise I could conjure up.  Let there be no question, I was pissed.  Fat Lawrence shrank to the ground in horror and stayed perfectly still while I approached, slowly picked him up and put him in the brown cardboard box I'd prepared for the occasion.  I couldn't believe it had worked. I immediately called my kids and told them we were off to liberate Fat Lawrence.  I loaded the box and the barefoot kids in the car and drove.  They didn't understand.  "Why is there mud on your face, Mom?  Why are we getting rid of Lawrence, Mom?"  "But I LOVE him, Mom!"  I cheerfully explained that Fat Lawrence obviously didn't want to live in a cage and would be much happier at a large nearby park with all the ducks and grass.  How could we not bring him to his new home?  Fifteen minutes later, we arrived.  It was just as I'd imagined it.  A beautiful day, ducks swimming in the pond, a bunny in a box, my year long dream had finally come true.  I parked the car and took Fat Lawrence out of his box to give him the grand tour of his new home.  First off to the pond to show him where he'd be drinking.  I couldn't help but notice an unleashed Labrador Retriever across the water.  Then I looked around for some nice shady underbrush for his mid-day nap.  I didn't immediately see a good shady spot and upon looking up, saw a clear, Vegas sky with two hawks lazily circling above the park.I sat down with Lawrence on a bench.   We were both still soaked clean to the bone after our morning chase.  I picked a few twigs from my hair and he started grooming his wet fur.  Now was the part where I put him down and left.  A few months ago after a particularly long chase, I taught myself via YouTube the art of butchering and preparing a rabbit for stew.  I've begged my husband to take his shotgun and finish the little guy off but he refused.  And now was the day I would rid myself of this little beast.  This stubborn beast who I'd rescued from a shelter last year after he'd been returned twice due to bad behavior.  This crazy looking fluff ball who I'd tamed from a nasty, biting monster into a fast, fluffy genius.  The only thing Fat Lawrence loves more than playing chase, is being held afterward and stroked until he begins his deep, rum[...]

Bullets for Brains


"Ms. Flake, the principal would like to speak with you."

And suddenly I knew.  We'd been caught.

There isn't much that excites my husband these days so when his birthday came, my four year old and I brainstormed for a fun party theme.  I asked my daughter what boys like, she said guns, we went with it.

What gun themed party would be complete without shotgun shells at each dinner plate?  I dug through Spike's small arsenal in the closet and selected nine red and beautifully live shells to set on the table next to cards with each guest's name card.  I cut black guns from cardstock and put a bowl of loaded water guns on the middle of the table.  Every big boy's dream birthday.  After the party, I was caught up in a sugar and frosting haze and didn't notice who cleared up the table.

Two days later, I dug though Pixie's backpack after school looking for homework assignment and I saw a shotgun shell at the bottom of her bag.  She casually mentioned she had given a bunch out to her friends on the kindergarten playground.  Apparently she had taken them all off the dinner table.  Cue my panic.  Our elementary school does not give out class lists or phone numbers so I had no way to call the moms to warn them.  Not that they needed any warning.  By the next morning, five of them had called the school in a panic and one boy had been pulled off the school bus for waving the bullet around.  By the time I dropped Pixie off at the school yard gate, the other mothers were knit in tight groups and the gossip mill had decided she had actually brought a loaded gun to school.

And thus the call to see the principal. I never had to go as a kid,  but now both me and my daughter had to make the long walk towards the school office.  Pixie was white as chalk, and my head was racing with pleas to appease CPS.  It's bad enough knowing you're a screw up, but having to drag your poor kid into it as well just because you think live ammo is a cool decoration is just pathetic.  We were seated in a large, empty conference room with a plastic bag on the table containing three of the bullets.  My prints were all over them.

Spike had warned me to just tell the truth, but I couldn't think of a way to saying "I decorate with bullets" that would sound reasonable.  I could blame it on him.  I could blame it on an irresponsible guest.  I could blame it on an obscure medical condition.  I just couldn't imagine having to blame myself.  Luckily, the principle had apparently been in her position for a while and just handed me a form to sign saying that I had seen her and that was that.  No questions, no guilt, no admonitions, just a signature.  I thanks the heavens that the public schools are messed up enough that our small ammo slip was just another paper for the school to file away.  But I guess I'll have to reconsider my party theme for Spike's birthday next year - bombs.



I did it.  I exhibited at WonderCon.  For the vast majority of you who don't know what that is, it's the San Francisco version of ComicCon.  And for the rest of you, ComicCon is the biggest pop-culture convention in the US.  But back to WonderCon.  I decided last October to apply with my plush toy line.  It would mean a huge amount of money spent on the exhibitor fee, hotel fee, display fees, gas money, and innumerable other expenses. I had a small lump of dough built up in my business account and pretty much sank it all into this one show.  The question was would it pay off.I convinced my husband to take off work for a few days to come help me at the convention.  My sister agreed to drive down from Utah to watch my kids while we were gone.  Another friend agreed to manage the local craft event I was supposed to be running that weekend here in Vegas.  And I even sweet talked my sisters into helping me with some of the tedious sewing while we were supposed to be enjoying a relaxed beach vacation the week before the big event.  By the time the convention rolled around, I had sewn $13,000 worth of plush toys in 4 months.  Throw in my factory produced item, and I would be going to San Francisco with $18,000 worth of Flaky Friends (my toy line).  I had no doubt I'd sell it all.  I'd put in the work and there are required, rewarding consequences for hard work.  I'd sewn enough to be able to drive a nail with my finger tips so I knew I'd done my part.When the car broke down on the drive to the convention, I panicked a bit.  It set us back a few hours, but we got back on the road.  When we got miserably turned around in the traffic in San Francisco and couldn't find the unloading dock with the clock ticking on our unloading time, I almost passed out in the passenger seat.  But unload we did, and I set up in Moscone Convention Center with my toys flanking me with sewn on smiles.  I had made it.  Now just to sell $18,000 worth of plush in three days.How did it go?  This is where I give you the line about how it was invaluable for the contacts I made, how much fun the crowd was, and how I got a lot of business cards.  No, really, I did have a good time.  The other plush artists I met who have growing product lines were very helpful and will hopefully provide invaluable mentoring/advice to me in the future.  And today I got an email from a customer who bought from me at the show with a custom request.  But as far as the books go, after 4 months of non stop sewing, neglecting my kids, pizza dinners, and a ridiculous amount of money invested, I'm coming out pretty much exactly where I was last Christmas.  According to my bank account, all the work I've done this year never happened. So that's why I've decided to treat the small stack of business cards I accumulated at the event as my magic beans.  With all the blood, sweat and tears that went into getting them, they've got to have some magic in them.  Grow, beans, grow.  Because if you turn out to be duds, I'm going to kick myself in the face until I stop trying to do anything ever again.[...]

Viable Career Options


So it has already begun.  I wrote a post today, then ran it by Spike (as I usually do when I'm writing wild) and he deemed it WAY too off base for publication so I'm left trying to think of tepid, pleasant things to write instead.  But since I can't quite contain myself, I'll give you a teaser that it was an open letter to our nation's panhandlers about how to really stand out amidst their growing competition.  Something about powerpoint presentations and jazz hands...  Seriously, can't we all use some tips on how to get ahead?  But thank you Spike, for keeping me from self destructing online.  I'm a terrible person without you.So with that off the table, I guess I just have to tell you a little something that happened at the park by my house a bit ago.  After living in Vegas for two years now, I'm slowly acclimating to our local "culture." My three year old Cher was waiting to use the fireman pole at our local park but two tween girls were playing on it.  After waiting for about 10 minutes for her turn, little Cher came to me asking to intervene.  I walked towards the pole to ask the girls if Cher could slide down it once or twice.  As I got closer, however, I overheard their conversation."You really need a lot of arm strength for this trick," said one.  "Then just hold on and flip up your legs like this."  The smaller girl then demonstrated the upside-down splits on the fireman pole."Wow, I can't do that.""I'll  teach you how," her friend reassured her, "and it's even more fun to do on the real spinning pole.  And this is one is super easy too."  She then executed the perfect stripper floating spiral.  Really?  Pole dancing lessons at my kids' playground?  I hate to say it, but the chances of my kids' friends being strippers is much higher in this town.  I'm rethinking having put my girls into dance classes.  I'd hate to give them any practical job skills they might be tempted to use.  Another truth of Vegas is that if you meet a girl with incredible legs, she probably is or has been a showgirl.  Heck, they don't even have to be girls, but those long legs only mean one thing.  For the first time, I'm glad our Flake family has been endowed with overly long torsos and stumpy little legs.  One less Vegas career option.  Gambling being our main industry, the number of locals who are employed as card dealers or waitresses is quite high.  Some of the other moms who pick up their kids from kindergarten show up in their casino barmaid get ups.  That's a fun thing for all those 6 year old boys to see.  But hey, I respect an honest paycheck and people have to eat.  Since the chances of my kids working a casino at some point are pretty high, I just have to make sure I hand select their job.  I'm thinking they could be the people who sit inside the lion cage at the MGM casino, babysitting the lion pride all day.  They get to wear a full set of clothes, and if any handsy men try coming near them, the lions will eat their faces off.  Mama likes that.  Now if only they offered Lion Taming as one of the community courses available at our rec center... The five cokes I drank at dinner tonight have finally worn off so I'm going to bed.  Viva Las Vegas, Baby.[...]

Go To Hell


Remember all those half truths your parents told you to make you behave?  Cross your eyes and they'll stay that way.  Misbehave and Santa won't come this year.  Boys have cooties.  We all use them.  Easy lies to avoid the bigger conversation.  I'm as guilty as the next mom.  I tried recycling a half-truth the other day on my six year old Pixie.  

At a stop light, a man crossed the street in front of our waiting car.  "Mom," Pixie said slowly, "that man is kind of chubby."  
"You can't say stuff like that, honey." I replied.  "Did you know that once you get to heaven, everyone will know everything you've ever said or done, including that man?"
Pixie turned pale.  "I'm so sorry!" she stammered.  "Will he know that I'm sorry?"
"Yes.  But remember to always speak nicely."

So that was that.  I'd used an old lie (or maybe it's true?) that had worked on me as a kid to keep my own spawn in check.  With only the minimum required amount of guilt, I put the incident out of my mind.

The next day I was working in my sewing room when Pixie came in.  "Remember that guy yesterday... who was a little... you know..."

"The man at the crosswalk?"

"What about him?" I asked.
Pixie gave me a wistful look then said softly,  "I hope he goes to hell."

And there it was.  Rather than have to face all the people who she'd ever said anything less than flattering about, Pixie had begun damning them all to hell instead to save face.  Just another tick mark on the score card of my awesome parenting.  Go, me.

A Cacophony of Words: Aging through Vasoline


I just finished watching the movie "Julie and Julia" and for the first time in a long time (think 2008) actually remember why blogging is essential for my expression. What a great movie and a sweet reminder that for some of us, writing is what ensures we maintain a firm grip on our identity. Rather than wax too poetic, let it just be said that I've had words bottling up in me ever since moving to Vegas two years ago and the bottle has finally spilled over. So after tossing in bed for about an hour, I had to get up and post back on ye old blog. There's no way I can play catch up. Just imagine the same old me, except with rock hard callused fingers from sewing thousands of stuffed animals since January 2007. Oh, and I found some grey hair last year. On my head.

The grey hair thing was fun at first. I've worked hard, played hard, and been up way too many late nights with deadlines so I was proud of the grey. The badge of a good woman who has done her share of work. My three year old has repeatedly offered to pull out the new hairs but I can't let her. I just have worked too hard for them. I'd always thought the signs of age can be beautiful and admired the older women around me who don't try to hide their years. But that was before I began noticing the wrinkles around my mouth. The stringiness of my neck. The furrow that somehow isn't smoothing out of my brow. While aging can certainly be respected, it's hard when it's literally on your face.

We had some extra airline miles and got one of those offers to redeem your miles for magazines. The magazine choices were limited but I ticked off the Vogue box among many others. I got my first copy two weeks ago. I haven't looked at a fashion magazine since high school and 15 years gives me a whole new perspective on the genre. I was suddenly and ferociously interested in reading the anti-wrinkle cream ads. Of holding the magazine under bright lights so I could detect photo shopping on Cate Blanchette's up close photo shoot. One page was hastily ripped from the magazine and tucked in my purse to give me an idea of a younger looking hairstyle I could try to make me look "hip."

When I hadn't been able to walk by a mirror for a week without pulling my skin back to see what a facelift could do for me, I realized what had happened. The magazine went into the recycle bin (I'm sorry to the 1,000 trees that went into the making of that massive piece of crap) and I called to cancel the subscription. Any publication that makes me sad to be me can't live in my home.

Side Note - I also ordered Spike the ESPN magazine from the same offer. It arrived with a Godly muscled baseball player in a lunging stance on the cover. No sign of Spike wanting to take up pro sports or steroids yet. I'll keep my eye on him.

So back to my mid life crisis. For now, it is averted. My contact lens prescription is a bit out of date, so rather than get a new one, I'll just keep the face in the mirror fuzzy. Sort of like those old movies where every time the leading lady was on screen, they'd rub vasoline on the camera lens to give her a heavenly glow. I plan on carrying on as a modern Elizabeth Taylor (minus 7 of the husbands) and keeping my chin up, no matter how far down it stretches. I, Hollywood, am after all only 31 years old, and not a bit dramatic.  Bring on the grey.

In Your Face, Life!


Who is going to be watching the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing Competition in Oahu, Hawaii in a couple of days?

Who is going to lend her practiced eye to the dancers at the 18th International Hula Dance Competition at the concert shell on Waikiki beach on Saturday evening?

Who is going to be skimming over the seas in a 40 foot catamaran while the steam of whale spouts float into her face while you are stuck in your cubicle?

That's right, kids. Hollywood has finally earned her long-yearned for trip to Hawaii. And it won't be pretty. After 30 years, I'm getting mine and the fallout is going to be thick. Don't think this is going to be an easy week for you. Just when your boss walks by at five minutes till 5pm and casually drops that thick file on your desk, think of me, sipping whipped pineapple slushy off my fingers on a white beach.

And that treadmill you exercise on? You're not even going to be able to make it to your second mile without stumbling while imagining me simultaneously swimming in the crystal clear Pacific with the bottlenose dolphins. Life is rough. I know, I've been there. But not this week. This week is payback. Spike and I are going to come back from our week in paradise (sans kids!) looking like this:

(image) And yes, we'll finally be too cool for you.


Sugardaddies, Fine China and Concrete Slippers


A brief summary of Halloween - Cher wanted to be a Lionhead bunny just like the ones we have as pets so I tricked her out with some fur:And that about sums it up. When you can dress your two year old as a fluffy pink Lionhead bunny, what's not to love? Halloween was good.And my mobster from the last post? Frank has turned out to be quite the fun friend. We had him over for dinner last week and found out he moved from Staten Island to Vegas for "health reasons." I guess it's not very healthy to find yourself at the bottom of the Hudson River wearing concrete slippers.But the real highlight of the week was from the day I spent about 8 hours hitting up thrift stores in my area for mismatched china. You really get a good idea of who is in your community when you spend a day bottomfeeding.Stop One: GoodwillI was paying for some items. My girls were with me and we saw a woman in the store (think Roseanne Barr) with a tiny chihuahua snuggled into a bed of blankets in the child seat portion of her shopping cart. Of course, my girls ran up to her and asked if they could pet her tiny yapping dog. She sneered at them and pushed the cart aside. "No. This is a service dog." I looked at the cashier and raised my eyebrows skeptically. The cashier rolled her eyes and scowled. I'm guessing this wasn't the first time someone had tried to cheat the system by passing off a luxury pet as a disability crutch.Stop Two: The Charleston Outlet Thrift StoreThis particular store lacked a certain credibility with their storefront signage. On my way in, I noticed an official sign that read, "Please do no leave your children unattended in our store. Any parents not attending to their children in this store will be reported to Clark County Child Protective Services." I called their bluff and asked the cashier if they had ever really reported a parent to CPS before. "No," she said, "but we're supposed to..." Yeah right. But you can bet your bootie I kept my two girls glued to my side in that place.Stop Three: A Second Chance Thrift Store:This place had some really upscale items, mostly from estate sales, at jaw-droppingly low prices. After spending way too much time looking around a picking up some great vintage items, I went to check out. Ahead of me in line was a young black man. He was engaged in sincere conversation with the store proprietor. The proprietor, another black gentleman was saying in a very calm voice, "just remember that once you walk out that door today, I don't ever want you coming back.""Man, I wouldn't steal from you! I don't steal from my own people!""All I'm saying is that you are not welcome in this store.""You think I'm stealing from you? I never steal from you.""I don't want to get into that. Just walk out that door and don't come back in here ever.""You're my people, man! I wouldn't steal from my people!""Next please," said the proprietor with a warm smile. I sheepishly laid my items on the counter while the young man sulked off towards the door.Stop Four: Martin's Mart Thrift StoreThis place only had one teacup I wanted. I brought it to the counter and asked the price. "Thirty five cents," said the cashier. I reached for my wallet to get the money but just then an older man walked into the store, carrying a large trash bag and looking like the definition of homeless."I got it," he said with a grin and flipped a couple coins on the counter. At that moment, he was Daddy Warbucks. The girls and I thanked him up and down and left the store with a light heart. Everybody loves a sugardaddy.And in case you're wonde[...]

My Friendly Neighborhood Mafia


(image) Last month my bunny, Stu, escaped from our yard. I posted on Craigslist, put in a report at the animal shelter and searched the neighborhood but came up empty. I could only assume that one of the many pitbulls living in my neighborhood had finished him off. But yesterday my next door neighbor popped her head over the wall and informed me that Stu was in her front yard. I ran over but he bolted as soon as I approached.

I chased him three doors down where he mysteriously disappeared in an overgrown backyard. After some poking around, I saw evidence that Stu had been living in this yard for quite some time (read between the lines, a month's worth of poop in a corner). The owner of the house saw me poking around in his yard and came out to see what I thought I was doing trespassing. He was a short guy, probably 55ish, and his voice sounded exactly like Marlon Brando's Godfather. After I told him about Stu, he verified that yes, he'd seen Stu eating his flowers and defecating all over his property for about a month. He introduced himself as Frank told me I could do anything necessary to catch the little guy and gave me free reign of his yard.

I borrowed a rabbit trap from Animal Control came back the next day to set it up. Frank saw me and came out to oversee the operation. Pointing to Stu's poop pile and promised I would clean it up. He waved me off and said there was no need. "It's no problem," I said, "I don't want my rabbit stinking up your yard." In an instant, Frank grabbed my face with one had and popped a light smack across my cheek. Still holding my face, my cheeks squeezed between his thumb and forefinger, he said in a low voice, "you clean up that poop and I'll come to your house and throw dirt all over your front yard." He released my face.

"Got it," I laughed. Anybody willing to slap a total stranger probably wouldn't make an empty threat like that. The poop would stay. "So you're from the East Coast?" I asked, his accent sounded Brooklyn to me.

"Yeah, sumpin' like that," he replied.

"I grew up in Connecticut," I said.

"Well that makes us just like family," he said happily.

"Sounds good to me. I don't have any family in the area. How about you?"

"I've got some family living in the casinos," said Frank.

"Sounds like fun."

"Depends on who's winnin'," he said with a shrug.

I think it's safe to assume that this guy has got some sort of Mafia running through his blood. We finished up talking and I turned to leave. I'd gotten some leaves and dirt all over my backside from sitting down to set the trap. "Eh, you're a mess!" said Frank. Without so much as a dinner invitation, he brushed my legs and rear end clean. After the smack, I knew better to protest. After he judged me sufficiently brushed off, I thanked him and took off. Maybe I'll catch Stu, maybe I won't but at least I can sleep easy knowing that my neighborhood mobster likes me.

Flu Vaccine Fright Fest


On Monday, the H1N1 vaccine has hit the streets of Vegas and local moms are wasting no time getting their dose. Currently, the vaccine is only being offered at one location in the Vegas Area, and only to the highest at-risk group (child caretakers and children under 5 years old). I saw the lines out the door on the news yesterday and even though it didn't look at exciting as an American Idol casting call, I decided to grab a place in line this morning. It was going to be a long morning of waiting and I didn't want my kids to know what was going on until the last possible minute."Come on, kids. Get in the car. I've got an errand to run.""Where are we going?" asked the ever vigilant Pixie."We've just got to drop by an office for a minute.""What for?""I need to get some stuff.""What kind of stuff?""Who wants a cookie?"That distracted them until we got to the Public Health Department. A long line of grim looking mothers pushing strollers was already spilling out the doors and trying to fill out medical forms in the high wind. I took my place in line.None of the kids seemed to know they were the intended targets and stood around with bored expressions. One mother had brought a portable DVD player and had distracted my section of the line with a cartoon. The line inched slowly forward. We finally made it inside, around the reception desk, and towards a greeter. At this point, the line was siphoned down a thin hall. An attendant in scrubs made her way down the line talking to each mother. My time was running out. Pixie caught sight of the woman's clothes and turned to me with apprehension. "Mom... what is this place?"The jig was up. No sooner were the words "flu shot" out of my mouth that my two children began screaming and scrambling for an escape. Luckily, I'd had the foresight to buckle them into the stroller. "I DON'T WANT A SHOT! I DON'T WANT A SHOT!" they screamed, and in seconds, the children waiting in the hall with us had caught the whiff of terror. All around us, the pleading, screaming and whimpering began in earnest. The woman with the DVD player glared at me. The line inched forward.After a quick consultation with the nurse, I was relieved to hear my kids could simply get the flu mist squirted up their nose instead of a shot. With this information, I was finally able to calm them down. We were approaching the end of the hall when we noticed the noise coming out of The Room. A high-pitched tremor of not fear, but absolute terror. Apparently, we were approaching out final destination. I pushed the stroller in.I was now lined up against the back of a large conference room with about 20 other moms, waiting our turn at one of the vaccination stations. There were about 15 women administering shots and each one faced a blue-faced, apoplectic child. We had to stand there with our kids and watch our fate play out in deafening reality. At this point, the waiting children were too terrified to cry, they just stood with wide, wet eyes, as the children at the vaccination stations demonstrated their best Halloween night screams while being stuck full of needles.It was our turn. I got my shot, then brought Pixie to sit in my lap to get her nasal spray. "No shot, right Mom?" she asked with confidence."Right."So when the nurse pulled out a long, skinny device with a pointed tip and brought it towards Pixie's face, all hell broke loose. It sure looked like a shot to me. In order to administer the spray, the nurse had to stick the mister up both nostrils and sq[...]

The Football Widow


True, Peyton Manning looks better in spandex than I do, but is this really what I've earned?

Most people would agree that men are simple creatures. They like things will barbecue grill marks on them. They like remotes. They like naps. They say what they mean. Simple, right? So could someone please explain to me why the majority of men are obsessed with one of the most time consuming, complex endeavors ever? Football isn't simple. It isn't devoid of emotion. It keeps men awake when they would otherwise be napping away a perfectly good Saturday afternoon. I've got to think there is more than cheerleaders in hot pants behind this aberration of nature.

College football began at the end of August. During the first quarter of the first game I turned to Spike and asked, "So when does the season end?"

"Honey, this is the first game of the season."

"Right. When does it end?"

It's not that I begrudge him a little sports (note to self - I totally begrudge him all sports) but football in particular gets me going. Here I am, the faithful little wife of ten years, married and accustomed to the ups and downs of matrimony, but come Saturday, all I can think about is how I want to bomb every college football field in America.

True, I can't run a five minute mile like most wide receivers. I can't hit a fly off the wall across the room with a perfect spiral football throw. I've never tackled a grown man to the ground or gotten a grass stain on my forehead. There will be no younger, fresher second string replacement for me when I'm tired, crabby or creaky. I shouldn't be surprised to be a football widow at the age of 30. Maybe I should make a better effort to compete in the field.

There are the "Ty Detmer" wives who are fun for a few years but then fizzle out. But I want to be a "Brett Favre" wife, getting better and sexier every year. Who is to say my time to shine is up? In order to regain my husband's admiration and affection on Saturdays, I need to get my butt to training camp and make myself a competitor.

(image) A couple of possible training goals for myself:

  • Buy calf-length spandex and practice putting them on without vomiting.
  • Perfect my diaper toss so that I can hit the garbage can with a loaded diaper from 60 yards.
  • Don't shower after working out
  • Stop using multisyllabic words
  • Practicing bulging my neck muscles in the mirror to perfect the intimidating look
  • Trash a hotel room
  • Pray for Obama to criminalize college sports

That's all I've got for you today. Pray for Mojo.

Please Stop Being So Nice


I can't go anywhere without my kids complimenting people. It's driving me nuts. True, it's probably my fault. I've tried to teach them to be nice to everyone and look for the good but things are getting out of control.

At first, they would just tell friends stuff like, "I like your shoes" or "cool necklace" but now it's gotten to the point where they roll down their windows in the car and shout out to strangers on the sidewalk stuff like, "YOU HAVE PRETTY HAIR" or "I LOVE YOUR DOG." We were at Costco the other day and my friend came up to say hello. Immediately, the girls started in.

"Nice watch."
"I love your bracelet."
"Your nail polish is beautiful."
"You have a pretty smile."
"I like your groceries."

I interrupted and said, "I'm sorry, my kids are compulsive complimenters." Her smile dimmed somewhat. I immediately knew I'd erred. Maybe my children's robotic compliments were the only ones she'd gotten that day. Had I just burst her bubble? Perhaps she was feeling insecure about her grocery choice that day. I tried to redeem myself, "not that you don't have nice fingernails... it's just that... they complement every..." I rolled to a stop, positive that anything that came out of my mouth after that would only do more damage.

So I've decided just to grit my teeth and bear it. Today we passed an elderly woman with shockingly blue hair in the parking lot of Walmart. My two year old ran up to her and went on and on about how great her hair was. I kept my mouth shut. Later in the store, they harassed some other poor woman complimenting her automatic wheelchair. Pixie, the four year old, is obsessed with men's belt buckles and any time we see a guy rockin' a Texas sized buckle on his belt, she gets all handsy and effusive and it's all I can do to keep her from pulling their pants down to get the buckle off. That one always ends up a little awkward.

I need to get over my issue with this. I can't stand an empty compliment but just because my kids are full of them, doesn't necessarily mean that they don't mean every word. So what do you think - do I need to become more like them or should I try and teach them a little more restraint? It's a weird issue. And it seems like there is an obvious answer - I just don't know what it is.(image)

Happy Birthday Hollywood


This is Spike. Today is Hollywood's birthday. Feel free to leave a comment saying something you like about her, if you're so inclined.

How to Clear a Blocked Toilet


(image) Now that I'm a homeowner, when something goes wrong in my house, I've got a rather scary decision to make. Call a professional, or become a professional. Due to my unflinching cheapness, I went ahead and bought the book published by Black&Decker, "Complete Home Repair." The empowerment began immediately.

So when my two year old flushed both a aluminum Capri Sun pouch and a large building block down her toilet, I took a deep breath and prepared for my curtain call. After consulting with my father over the phone who assured me he'd fixed clogged toilets millions of times, I plunged in.

Step one: Plunge in. Plunger had no effect.

Step two: Purchase a drum auger (snake) for $28 to try and weasel the blockage out. I got a few small pieces of the Capri Sun bag, but no sign of the wooden block.

Step three: Call my dad again and get itemized instructions on lifting off and replacing the toilet.

Step four: Remove toilet, clear blockage in no time and call father in victory. Bask in father's assurances that I am indeed, Wonderwoman. Hang up.

Step 5: Turn on the water supply to perform a test flush. Notice leak coming from a small crack I've accidentally made in water supply line behind toilet. Decide not to call Dad for further guidance since he's just finished telling me how great I am and I don't want to burst his bubble.

Step 6: Accidentally destroy old water supply line and valve while trying to remove it and go to hardware store for a $12 water supply value and line replacement.

Step 7: Install new supply line and valve. Turn on water supply and spot two minor leaks. Readjust the nuts to tighten the seal.

Step 8: Turn nuts the wrong way, have valve burst off. Have face placed strategically in front of water pipe so the blast of water pushes your contacts behind your eyeballs and then run soaking wet though the house, blinded, screaming, "TURN OFF THE WATER!" to a husband who I'm praying can hear me.

Step 9: Turn off water, utilize 15 towels to soak up the flood. Have husband use mystical Man Muscles" to screw nuts on tight enough.

Step 10: Try not to notice as I slog through the bathroom that my book, "Complete Home Repair" that I kept by my side through the entire operation has now become a waterlogged mess and will need replacement for an additional $25.

Total cost: $65. But hey, my Dad is proud of me - at least until he reads this post. No professional plumber can ever take that away from me.