The Bad Mommy

I work only to pay for his therapy later.

Location: Novato, California, United States

Friday, January 06, 2012

So Many Ways to Fail, So Little Time

1. Today is a minimum day. Completely forgot.
a. So, no need for that lunch I packed.
b. So, great need to have the child picked up shortly after noon. Fortunately, another carpool mom not only did so, but took him to lunch.
c. So, great need to have the child returned to school for wrestling practice at 3:45. Again, other carpool mom is totally on top things. Thank heavens.
d. I don't usually pick up on Fridays after practice, but this might be a good time to offer.
2. Very carefully locked all the doors before we left this morning. On a normal day, I would get home first, so no big deal. Today, however, this resulted in the child being required to break in between lunch and practice.
a. Very smart child - able to accomplish this far too easily.
b. Even smarter - he called me from outside while waiting till the neighbors were all inside their homes before breaking in so that no one would call the cops and/or learn how to break in.

So: Does it make better sense to make it harder to break in? Or do we need to maintain an alternate method of getting in, since I suspect this will happen more, rather than less, frequently?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Dear Macys Shoe Salesperson:

You're going to have better luck selling me shoes if you stop telling me how much your mom likes the kind I'm trying on. Especially since I'm guessing that you and I are about the same age.



Thursday, September 15, 2011

Parenting a Teenager

I had lunch with my wonderful parents yesterday.

I apologized for my teen years, and mused that in another ten years I'd probably be apologizing for my twenties as well.

Friday, September 02, 2011


It was one of those magical moments the other night. I happened to look out the window and see one deer lying down in the backyard, with another standing next to it. It was during the magic hour - that time in the early evening when the light is just gorgeous. Deer are so serene and beautiful anyway and the light just made them seem even more ethereal.

I called to Carter and Mark to come and see. They arrived just in time to see the deer who was lying down stand up, turn its back to us and take a huge, lengthy, runny poop.

Magical, I tell you.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Samaritan

While driving to work one day last week, Mark was stopped waiting for the light to change when a Mama duck paraded across the street, a dozen ducklings in her wake. All was well until she reached the curb on the other side. She hopped right up but the ducklings ended up like this:

Good fellow that he is, Mark put the truck in park, hopped out and started directing traffic around the situation. After taking a quick photo, and keeping his eye on the Mama duck in case she was inclined to nip, he scooped up two handsful of ducklings and deposited them on the curb. They and the Mama continued on their way.

As Mark headed back to his truck, a woman who had stopped to watch leaned out her window and called to him: "Are you married???"

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

Last year, I learned about this GREAT program called Cup of Joe for Joe offered by the Green Beans Coffee Company. You donate $2 to the program and it provides a deployed soldier with a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate or whatever).

Green Beans (which is headquartered just down the road from me in Larkspur, CA) operates cafes both here in the US and all over various war zones. When you donate a cup of Joe, Green Beans randomly gives a gift card to a soldier, along with - if you choose to write one - a note from you. You have the option of providing your email address in the event the soldier would like to thank you. I've had about an 80% response rate and it is SUCH A RUSH to hear from someone half way around the world whose day has been brightened by such a small act of kindness.

(On some level, I feel like the best good deeds are anonymous. In this case, I think it's more meaningful to have a "real" person doing the giving. Also, see above re SUCH A RUSH :-)

Regardless of how I feel about the US presence in other parts of the world, I do unequivocally support the men and women who are risking their lives each and every day to keep the rest of us safe. This is a wonderful, low key, personal way to say thank you.

The minimum donation is $2 - payable by credit/debit card or PayPal. If you're feeling flush, you can donate in any increment of $2.

Today I was feeling whiney about having to take public transit on such a rainy, soggy day. I realized I needed a little attitude adjustment -- our soldiers face extreme weather AND risk their lives on a daily basis. Then when I checked our bank account, I saw that the Franchise Tax Board had deposited our refund last night.

The confluence of those two events felt like the universe was sending me a message, so this afternoon I sent another batch of gift cards.

Next time you're feeling a little crabby, or generous, or both, please think about sending a Cup of Joe to a Joe. You can thank me later :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Note To Self....

Monday is a teacher work day. NO SCHOOL ON MONDAY.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It Kind of Says It All

Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 03, 2011

A New Low in Bad Parenting

So I got Carter up around 6:45 this morning. He showered and dressed and grabbed his backpack and I threw a bowl of oatmeal in his direction as we dashed for the car and I drove him over to the school.

We get there and the place is deserted. We drive slowly past the front of the building and read the notice board: WINTER BREAK: December 20-January 4. Huh. I guess I knew that in some deep recess of my brain.

Fortunately, Carter had a good sense of humor about the whole thing: "Well, aren't we just the most clever family ever?"

I felt terrible - terrible about getting him up so early, terrible about being so clueless but mostly terrible for this:

"Honey, I'm really sorry, but if I'm going to make it to the bus on time, I'm going to have to drop you at the end of the street and have you walk the rest of the way home...."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Broccoli Update

Carter's disdain for broccoli is well-documented. So his comments as Mom and I were getting ready to steam the vegetables for Christmas dinner should come as no surprise.

"Has anybody else noticed how closely the word 'broccoli' resembles 'e.Coli?'"

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Humility Is A Good Thing

The high point of my week these days is volunteering in my friend Anne's second grade classroom on Wednesday mornings. The kids are so genuine and funny (sometimes intentionally :-) and it's really fun to watch - and with any luck help - them learn and figure stuff out.

A couple of weeks ago, I leaned over to answer a question and the girl turned to me and said "you smell good!" I started to say thank you but then she followed up with "you smell like spaghetti!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

And Speaking of Text Messaging...

As I discovered during my recent stay in the hospital, text messaging is the absolute best way to communicate in those sorts of circumstances. I wasn't really up for talking to a lot of people, and it was a quick and easy way to keep family and friends posted on what was going on. (Probably too posted: I don't think my jello photos were particularly well-received.)

Some of my all-time favorite text messages came from a family member who had never ever texted before in her entire life. I won't mention any names, so that I won't embarrass or out her. Let's just say that she gave birth to me and leave it at that.

Here, verbatim, are the best messages ever:
  • Gqp great seeyou sooneqpr
  • I wikj o hell call me
  • Yerp yes easily
  • Moo ok

That last one is my favorite. I have no idea what it means. And I kind of think it's better that way.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't You Wish You Had a Brother Like This?

I recently got to spend 5 days and 4 nights in the hospital because I (used to) take Excedrin Migraine instead of my prescription migraine medication.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Excedrin is a lot cheaper and (I thought) has less dire side effects. Turns out that a steady diet of Excedrin can lead to bleeding ulcers.

I thought I was just having an extremely exhausting week. Then one morning I got out of bed and discovered that I couldn’t walk to the next room without having to sit down and put my head between my knees. I come from a long line of tough women. It takes a lot to get us to slow down.

So, off to the emergency room where they ran some tests and decided to transfuse me with four pints of blood. Seriously: four pints – as in about 1/3 the total amount of blood I would normally have. I told you we’re tough. The next day I had an endoscopy, during which 3 bleeding ulcers were discovered and clamped off.

(Let me digress for a moment and insert a public service announcement: If you’re able to donate blood, please do so! I’ve always been a little casual about my blood donations, seeing them as simply a good deed and nothing I spent much time thinking about. Having now been on the other side of the equation, I can tell you that blood donations literally SAVE LIVES – mine among them. So if you can, get yourself in to your local blood bank and do a good deed!)

Here’s the thing: As serious and scary as all this was, I wasn’t really in any pain. I couldn’t walk across a room or breathe normally, but I wasn’t hurting. And after the transfusion, I felt better than I had in weeks.

But at this point, nobody was taking my word for anything. The lab ran blood tests every 8 hours and while my numbers initially went back up, they then went back down a bit, and it just took awhile for my body to recalibrate.

During the recalibration period, I was limited to a clear liquid diet. Yes, maybe I was recalibrating but it was also possible that I was continuing to bleed. And if that was the case, I needed to be in a state of constant readiness for another endoscopy.

A clear liquid diet is bad enough when one feels like poop. But when one is feeling great, it genuinely sucks. By the final day in the hospital, I had reached the point of counting the minutes to the next blood draw because if the readings were good, I would not only get to go home, I’d get to eat real food, too.

Throughout all of this, I was communicating with my out-of-town family and friends via text messages. I thought you might enjoy this exchange with my brother David:

Me: still waiting for 10 am blood draw. more jello for breakfast

David: …how long to get stats after blood draw?

Me: once they finally come draw the damn blood the results come back in 20-60 mins

David: and how u doing this morning?

Me: feeling pretty crabby. can’t do anything else till the lab tech gets here. i want a shower and some real food. _)&(^#%(&

David: don’t hold back. tell me how u really feel

Me: srsly losing my sense of humor here

David: wanna pic of my foot?

Me: yes please!

David: here ya go!

Now don’t you wish YOU had somebody who would go to these kinds of lengths to cheer YOU up?

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Planning Ahead

The boy's Christmas wish list for this year:

1. a machete

2. donations to Heifer International.

Tell me he's not well rounded....

Sunday, August 08, 2010

A Good Bumper Sticker Can Make Sitting In Traffic Worthwhile

I saw this one the other day:

Buckle Up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you into their spaceships.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The Face of an Angel

Two years ago this coming October, we lost our cat Maggie to kidney disease. Completely true to her diva personality to the end, she survived two and a half years beyond the 6 month prognosis the vet gave her.

Maggie's death was particularly hard on Mark, who was the only one of us at home when it happened.

(Yes, I know this is old news. Hang in there - it all comes together at the end.)

So it was a bit of a surprise, perhaps six weeks later, when I noticed a flyer on the desk that Mark had brought home: "MAINE COON ADOPTIONS." He had seemed pretty adamant about not getting attached to any more cats any time soon. He claimed that he had just taken the flyer from a friend to be polite. Sure.

So the next thing you know, Carter was online, checking for Maine Coons available for adoption in Marin. As luck would have it, one was "in stock" at the Marin Humane Society. Clearly, it was a sign. Carter and I went by athe very next Saturday morning in November 2008 to check out the kitten. (Not entirely coincidentally, Mark was off on an all-day hike that day, and was unreachable.)

By noon, the kitten had taken up residence in our bathroom.

The Humane Society had given him the name Sami which was totally wrong for him. He had a great purr and big personality so in short order he became Hemi.

He was also incredibly loving, friendly and sociable. Our remaining older cat, Slick, hated him from day one.

After about six weeks of watching Slick rebuff Hemi's every effort to be friends, Carter and I decided that Hemi needed a friend closer to his own age - somebody who would play with him and keep him entertained while his three humans were at work and school. So the next Saturday, while Mark was again on a hike and unreachable, we headed back to the Humane Society.

How could we resist this?

The Humane Society had gotten it right this time. This little guy started out as Hank and Hank he has remained. Hank was jumpy and nervous but once he got used to us, he was a snuggler of the highest order. He liked nothing better than being picked up and held like a baby, front paws flung over our shoulders, so that he could rub his face up against ours.

Amazingly, Hank and Hemi took to each other immediately. Despite the fact that he's only about six weeks older than Hank, Hemi seemed to think that he was Hank's mother. He groomed him, came running if Hank cried and snuggled right up with him to sleep.The two of them have remained fast friends ever since. They race around the house together, eat out of the same bowl and continue to groom each other.

Since they arrived in the fall, we kept them inside until the following spring, when the weather got nicer and after we had all developed a certain comfort level about our house being their home. When spring rolled around this year, we got a big dowel fitted for the sliding glass door and as long as the weather has been nice, we've left that door open just enough for a cat to get in and out.

All was right with the world. Hank and Hemi could come and go as they pleased during the day and when we were all home together at night, they'd come in and we'd close the door and everybody was safe and sound.

Then Hank discovered his inner hunter. He may still be a nervous and jumpy cat around strangers but he's also incredibly stealthy and fast.

It started out simply enough. He'd catch a small mouse and very gently carry it into the house and drop it. The mouse would be in a state of shock, so it was easy to pick it up by the tail and take it back outside.

Then it got a little more complicated. Hank would catch a mouse and bring it inside when nobody was home. The mouse would get away from him and go into hiding until after we had all gone to bed. Hank would re-find the mouse, bring it underneath our bed and bat it around until either Mark or I would get up, grab the mouse by the tail and take it back outside.

Occasionally, Hank would show up at the door to be let in, head held curiously low. Closer examination would reveal a wiggling tail sticking out the side of his mouth. One hand on tail, one hand helping teeth to relax, another mouse returned to the wild.

Sometimes there would be two mice - apparently Hank felt Hemi should have one too.

Then one night we were sitting on the couch, watching tv, when a rat walked through the family room, followed closely by Hank. A bucket and a broom later, Mr. Rat was outside and Hank was obviously a little miffed about things.

Clearly both we and Hank were unhappy about the progression of events. He stopped bringing his friends back to the house to play and we breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that we had made it through this phase without any truly regrettable incidents.

I mean seriously: Is this the face of a killer?

Yes, denial is not just a river in Egypt.

Two nights ago, around 10:30, I called both cats in from the backyard. In they came, rodent-less. Perhaps ten minutes later, as I walked into the bedroom I came face to face with Hank who had a large, eviscerated rodent corpse in his mouth. I grabbed the bucket. Mark grabbed Hank and gently gave him a shake over the bucket. Corpse removed to the back porch.

When I left the next morning, I was very clear in my instructions to both Hank and Hemi: NO RODENTS TODAY.

But as Mark points out, they don't speak English very well and could just as well have interpreted my instruction as MO' RODENTS TODAY.

Let's just say that even though Hank has the face of an angel, I'm still stepping carefully and checking under the sheets before I get in.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Vacation

(First, thanks go to Rolf for the photos. I totally stole them from him.)

For the last year and a half, Carter has been preparing, along with 87 other boys (ages 12 to 17) and 10 adults, to go to the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Ft. A.P. Hill, Virginia. This is not an every year kind of thing - if only because the parents need a couple of years' head start to pay for the thing :-) The Troop met regularly beforehand to work on skills, develop camaraderie amongst the boys (many of whom had never met before), practice setting up their village within the Jamboree camp and generally prepare for living on their own for a couple of weeks.

Totally worth it. The kid is having the time of his life. The Jamboree itself is "only" eight days but the Marin Jamboree Troop spent a week beforehand and will spend a couple of days afterward touring the area, visiting everything from Gettysburg to Mt. Vernon, to the varioius Smithsonians to the Holocaust Museum to the Spy Museum. One of the adult leaders (Thanks again Rolf!) has been taking photos every day and posting them. Really smart - this enables the parents to see what's going on, get a feel for the various places the Troop has been, and undoubtedly cuts down on the number of parents calling to ask how their babies are doing. (Not that it would ever occur to any of us to do that. Uh uh.)

In pre-cell phone days, we probably wouldn't have heard from Carter at all. Even with a cell phone, it's hard - the kids can only use them when all the group responsibilities and activities are over for the day. And at that point, getting some down time and/or actual sleep is a much bigger priority than talking to the people that you have to live with the other 11 months of the year.

Nonetheless, we HAVE spoken to our boy a couple of times and gotten some great reports about the cool things the kids are doing - hosting a troop from the UK, participating in all kinds of games and events, making use of a big storm to put together an impromptu slip-and-slide, attending an Eagle Scout award ceremony and so on.

My favorite story though - mostly because it was told with such enthusiasm and awe - is this:

"Mom, last night there was a lot of opened Spam left over from dinner and nobody wanted to throw it away and WASTE it, so we had a Spam-eating contest. About six guys competed to see who could finish an entire can of it the fastest. One guy had previously participated in a wilderness survival thing where all they had to eat was Spam. He had kind of developed a fondness for it, so of course he won. But there was this other guy. He ate so much of it so fast that he PUKED. It was NASTY."

Good times!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


The school sent an email blast out last night: There have been credible reports of a mountain lion being spotted in an area very near the school Carter attends.

Mark read the email before he left for work this morning and he and I discussed it briefly - him bemoaning the fact that with all the hiking he does he's never spotted one and me joking that the mountain lions weren't stupid - they were hanging out where they can get a meal.

Mark goes off to work. I go back to sleep.

I get to work this morning and read the email for myself and remember that I meant to mention the mountain lion to Carter before he rode his bike to school this morning. Oops. Not getting Mother of the Year again this year, I'm thinking.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remembering Why I Married Him

Last night we dined at In'N'Out (yes, a big night out for us!). On the way out to the car after eating, Mark held the door open for me and as I walked by, I thanked him and gave him a big smooch.

A young woman was walking into the restaurant and Mark continued to hold the door open for her. As she passed him he said to her, "You don't have to do that, too."

Fortunately, she laughed.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This is what happens when you keep yelling "get out of bed and get into the shower!"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Breakfast of Champions

So Carter and I are at Starbucks one recent morning and he says he'd like a white hot chocolate.

Me: Ok, but how about if you have a little something that's reasonably healthy, too?

Carter: Like what? Why?

Me: Well, I just like you to start off your day with something resembling a healthy breakfast. How about a breakfast sandwich?

Carter: Right. Mom, what do you have for breakfast each and every morning?

I started to come back at him but was at a loss for words, since my standard breakfast for years now has been a nonfat hot chocolate, light on the chocolate. Twenty grams of protein, nonfat, only about 250 calories and very filling.

So I just stood there. Like an idiot.

Carter: Right. I'll stick with the white hot chocolate, then, ok?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

We’ve all got malapropisms that we love. Here are some of my faves – some created by my child and some by various other younger relatives –

  • Racamoni and cheese (Carter – but I don’t think anybody at our house has referred to it as macaroni and cheese for at least ten years)
  • Shampoo the Killer Whale (my nephew RJH – it didn’t matter how many times he was told it was actually Shamu – he was adamant that it was Shampoo)
  • Chunky Cheese (RJH again – and really, isn’t it a much more accurate description than Chuck E. Cheese?)
  • Clean ketchup (my brother PSH - for kleenex)
  • The cursive moon (another nephew, MCH – he knew it was a longish word that started with C but couldn’t come up with crescent)
  • Have a nice day without your underwear! (Not really a malapropism but it HAS become a saying we use a lot, ever since nephew TNH stood on the front porch yelling it at passers-by)
  • The Heimlich Remover (my child again – he knew as soon as he said it that something wasn’t quite right – and now we ALL have to stop and think about it every time we try to use it correctly in conversation)

We’ve all got them – what are some of your family’s?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Child Can Beat Up Your Honor Student

While other kids are out enjoying summer - swimming, riding bikes, reading good books - this is what my kid has been home designing:

Friday, June 19, 2009

School's Out for Summer...

The boy's report card came in the mail today (all good, thanks for asking) and as we were looking it over, I said "hey - this is great: no tardies at all."

His response?

"That's what you think. You'd be amazed at how far a dollar goes these days."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gotta Love Mondays

Even though the bus schedule shifted this morning, so that my departure is 14 minutes later than it was last week, I got up at the usual 6:30 so that I could drop C at camp on my way to the bus. In typical twelve year old fashion, he declined to cooperate when I sweetly asked him to get up and moving. In the process of gently prodding him, helping him find his shoes and reminding him to brush teeth and hair, I somehow lost track of the fact that I had failed to apply makeup.

There were many, many people dropping their kids at camp at the leisurely hour of 7:30 - It was a nice opportunity to run into a lot of people I know and leave them wondering why I looked vaguely washed out this morning.

After C declined to say goodbye or even acknowledge my existence (I know he was just trying to save me some time; it has nothing to do with being a hormonal preteen boy who would prefer to be raised by wolves), I drove at exactly the speed limit all the way to the park & ride, pulling in just behind my bus. No worries! It was a nice little bit of exercise to run across the lot, and very exciting to be the absolute last person to board. Also, the unexpected exertion made me warm enough that it really didn't matter that I forgot to grab my coat when I got out of the van.

After doing a little deep breathing exercise that I like to do to relax (usually I have to be at work for a few hours before this is necessary), I looked down and realized that when I decided to change my shirt this morning, I neglected to change my underclothing as well. No worries! Black underwear with a pink shirt is pretty standard attire for a downtown law firm and since I don't have my coat with me, everyone will be able to enjoy my fashion statement right along with me.

Gosh, so much happens in just a short time around here!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

My Siblings, In Particular, Should Appreciate This One ---

Voice message received the other day from my one and only child:

"Hi Mom. Favorite child here."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

In His Secret Heart....

In his secret heart, Hank believes he is Jackie Chan.

In fact, he is a ninja:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Great Bumper Sticker We Spotted This Weekend:

I may be dyslexic, but I can still kick your tub.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Dear Kittens....

Dear Kittens:

Thank you for being so clean and tidy and never using anything but the litter box when you have business to take care of. It's really nice of you to never, ever leave any presents anywhere else. (And Hemi? The other day when you had to throw up and you did it IN the litter box instead of on a carpet somewhere? That was brilliant.)

A favor, though: When I'm cleaning out the litter box (one good turn deserves another, after all), it would be very, very helpful if you would not jump in and try to re-bury everything before I can get it scooped out and thrown away. Just something to think about.



PS: Is it just me or does it make sense that when you're outside you can use the "facilities" there, without needing to run back inside to use the litterbox? Just checking....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Out of the Closet

Keeping things picked up around here is a constant struggle. I had finally had it a couple of weeks ago and dragged the kid by the ear into his room and said you have GOT to get this room picked up. It is NOT ok for you to just leave all those clothes all over your bed.

His response?

That's not a bed, Mom. It's a horizontal closet.


There have been a lot of conversations around our house in the last couple of weeks about what this coming summer will look like. The boy thinks this is a great summer for him to hang out by himself at home while Dad and I are at work. (Not going to happen.) I'm going to a lot of work trying go find fun, interesting, new, fabulous things for the boy to do this summer, as well as arrange some semi-down time at Camp Nana & Papa. (The boy isn't going to be happy, regardless - since he doesn't want to do anything that doesn't involve a lot of time on the computer.) It's been a little tense.

So tonight we're having ravioli for dinner and as I'm serving up the boy's I say, "I'm assuming you'd like yours with just a little butter and salt, right?"

And he says "Yes, thanks. And maybe with just a dash of independence."

Not Loving School This Year

Me, making dinnertime conversation: "You know, I thought I was having an allergic reaction to something growing this weekend but now I'm starting to think I'm just getting sick."

Carter: "Ooooh, Mom! Could you please go cough on my pillow?"

Loving the Tweens

Me: "Honey? When you use the last of the toilet paper, you need to put up another roll.

C: "I don't know. It seems like a lot of effort."

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