All Hands on El Gato

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I’m not trying to brag when I say we have an exceptionally tolerant cat. My family certainly can’t take the credit, he was like that when we adopted him. I suspect he might have been smuggled into a frat house as a kitten…

Lucky for us, because we’re obnoxious pet owners:

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The only thing he doesn’t like is when I was pretend he’s an accordion and I sing “The Famous Person Polka.” He nips at my face and jumps out of my arms.

Allegedly.

Our cat also LOVES to be loved. I say that about all cats, whether it’s true or not. With this one, however, it’s really and truly true. He demands two hands petting, thank you, so don’t even think about that coffee. PUT IT DOWN.

This summer, when the kids have a disagreement – let me just say, I really don’t care if they have a disagreement, that’s fine. I’m talking about when they have a disagreement that goes on long enough to impact me – I simply say, “All Hands on El Gato.” We go and find El Gato (not too difficult, he’s usually right there) and everyone puts two hands on him and he’s in HEAVEN with this sudden and lavish attention.

Usually that’s enough to move everyone on with their lives, unless the cat insists we stay there for another hour of petting and he will let us know when our spiritual healing is complete. Since he’s smaller than your average cat, our hands have to overlap, and soon we’re laughing and everyone’s forgotten who killed whom with a platinum sword.

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“That’s right, I’m like freaking St. Francis over here. I’m an instrument of peace, yous guys.” (My cat starred in Welcome Back Kotter.)

Pets have one job. Your dog won’t plow a field. Your cat won’t deliver brandy to you in an avalanche. They’re stress relief. Pets are living fidget spinners –  Use em, I say!

At least, I’ll use our cat while I can. I might have three more kid-arguments, tops, before I have to come up with something else.

Moms can’t get too comfy.

Unlike cats… toocomfortable

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law on their new bundles of feline joy!

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Just the two – she didn’t adopt five cats… I mean, that’s too many cats, right…?

If you have a pathological love of cats, check out the Katzenworld blog.

Like cat fiction? My friend, Debbie Manber Kupfer can fix you up.

Help Today – Join TrialNet!

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Many studies have cured diabetes in mice – it’s time to find a cure for humans.

This morning, I woke up from a terrible dream. In it, my son’s blood sugar was going up. First his meter read 614, and then 700. (Healthy blood glucose levels are between 70 and 100 mg/dL.)

My eyes flew open. I turned off my alarm and said, “I’ve had enough.”

I’m not the first parent or person with Type 1 Diabetes who has said this. My son says it every day! But there’s something about today. Today has an urgency about it.

I recently saw a pediatric endocrinologist give a speech about clinical trials. She spoke in great detail about TrialNet, a worldwide research organization dedicated to pre-diabetes screening.

So what? I thought. There’s nothing that can prevent someone from developing Type 1 Diabetes. Once the beta cells start going rogue and the immune system steps up to attack them, Type 1 (the inability to create insulin) is not far behind. My kid already has diabetes. There was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

But, there’s something almost EVERYONE* can do to prevent future cases of Type 1. We can join TrialNet, give a blood sample, and follow up. TrialNet tracks people for the antibodies present in patients with diabetes before it develops. They study risk factors like genetics, the environment, and exposure to other illnesses. They research interventions and possibly vaccines that could prolong the onset of diabetes and hopefully one day prevent it.

They may even discover a way to treat or cure people who currently have the disease.

*Anyone under age 45 can enroll in TrialNet anywhere in the world. Please consider becoming part of this important project!

Follow this link to learn more. Please share this post. THANK YOU.

Wizard of Ahs

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2successOnce upon a time, there was Toastmasters. If you wanted to give speeches (for work; I could explain, but let’s just say it was the olden days) you could join a club in your area – sometimes even at your workplace – and practice your presentations. THEN, someone else would give a speech about your speech, and other people around the room had tasks like “Who used the Word of the Day,” and “Ah Counter.”

The Ah Counter, or as some clubs called them, the Wizard of Ahs, kept track of everyone who stood up to speak that meeting and humiliated them by sharing how many times they used fillers like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “okay,” prolonged “ands” and “sos,” aaaand, let me see, what else…?

Some people thought it was mean to have an Ah Counter because it was public shaming and negative reinforcement, but it certainly made people more aware. Tough love, we used to call it.

My Toastmaster days are over, and my YouTube days are in full swing. When I need to know how to pry the bumper off my phone, tie a gi belt, or suture my own wounds, I turn to the most trusted source on the internet.

 

The people in these videos are 84% helpful, but the AAAAHHHHHS! As I write this, my daughter is watching an origami tutorial. I keep hearing the word, “Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” And it’s only 4 minutes long!

Thank you very much, technology: everyone with an idea and a phone can make a video and upload it – and they do!

It’s enough to make a Toastmaster deviate from parliamentary procedure.

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Unprofessional! I’m out of here on my unnaturally long legs!

Lately, someone told me I need to stop writing a blog with all these wordy-words and switch to video. Well, I don’t want to! I like to read, and my readers like to read. I don’t usually have anything to “show,” and as a consumer of media, I’d rather read an opinion than watch someone bloviate for 12 minutes.

(If you see me in a video, brush up on your Morse code, because I will be trapped in a bunker.)

The next time you encounter a YouTuber or (even worse) a Facebook Live sort in real life, please, grind their phone under your heel for me. Or at least tell them practice and editing are their friends.

If you’re as old and croctchety as I am, find me on Facebook, twitter, or leave a note here!

Ender Yoga

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We begin with a gentle stretch. Inviting the breath. Coming to presence in this peaceful space. A space, and a time, that’s just for you.

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Ground the hands and the feet, lifting the hips toward the sky. Feel the lengthening. Warming shoulder muscles, warming calves…

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…and come up.

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Exhale deeper into dhanurasana. Remembering to breathe. Making space in the chest, opening the heart.

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If this is too much for you, modify the pose. Feeling strength and stability…

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… and releasing completely into savasana.

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…Namaste.

Starting Early

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“I am literally starving, but I have to hold up this wall.”

I live in a wonderful small town. It has one independent coffee shop, for which I am grateful because most of our town is choppers and mullets – we’re basically poor white trash, and before you get in a twist, I am in no way differentiating myself.

The coffee place gives you a nice discount if you bring your own cup, so I do (see above), and if it’s quiet, I stay there to drink it, but TODAY… I was behind two women who hadn’t seen each other in some time (long enough for one of them to bring a card and a cheerful bouquet, you know, when you want to embarrass the hell out of a so-called friend).

They were both in activewear (check out the video, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, but you DO) and they both had GIANT bags. They weren’t even hand bags, they were tents with handles. The bags were under their arms, jutting out in back, and they kept stepping back from the counter, and almost bludgeoning me with their GIANT-ASS bags. That was pretty annoying.

One of the employees started making sympathetic and then goofy faces at me at their expense, so I was NOT imagining their annoyingness.

Our beloved coffee shop in PWT’s-ville used to have regular and decaf, but now, in keeping with the times, they have regular, dark roast, and decaf.

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“Slow down – you’re blowing my mind.”

 

This was TOO MUCH for these women, who wanted to know the backstory of both regular coffees, and impart what they knew about the chemical processing of decaf. (Causes cancer, you say? Give me the whole pot!)

Once they heard the story of the coffees – “I vas born in var-torn Berlin…”  – they did NOT order coffee. NO! They wanted to hear all about the TEAS. What is this one? Optimus Prime?! OMG! Razzle-Dazzle?!?!?! Oh, gosh, IDK, what do you recommend?

I recommend you go ahead and order before I break my foot off in your ass.

At last, the woman behind the counter said, “Why don’t you give it some thought and come back when you decide,” which made them decide IMMEDIATELY on two iced mochas.

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Well, surprise, surprise, surprise!

They went looking for a table (out of the three that are in the tiny coffee place), and the one holding the flowers dropped the flowers… (passive-aggressive!) They both let up a wail that disturbed the one pot-bellied guy who sits there all day enough for him to flap his newspaper.

The server not making their mochas (my sister in impatience) came out with a broom and dustpan and assured them there was no damage, the place could take worse, and I think I even heard her say, “Calm down.” It was like having Elf and Ed Grimley together at last.

Once my coffee was ready (took 2 seconds!) in my reusable cup, I got the hell out of there, but now I wish I had stayed and collected more material. It’s episodes like these that feed my morbid creative instinct. Alas. Please comment if you have a snarky story to share. I’m a snark-fueled vehicle.

La Mom-Cierge

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It’s close to midnight. I’m dreaming about having a Twitter argument over Mr. Bubble with Mark Ruffalo, when I hear,

“Mom. There’s a big, fat, black spider in my pillowcase. Don’t kill it.”

Cold sweat rolling down my pits, I climb up the jiggly ladder to her loft bed. Sure enough, there it is. Its too big to kill. I’d have to roll it in a carpet and dig it a grave.

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Holy CHRIIIIIIIST!!!

I take the pillowcase to the tub and shake it out. There are some nice ants coming up through the bathroom tile this time of year. It’s an upgrade.

Meantime, she watches to make sure I don’t flush it.

“I’ll put it outside in the morning,” she decides. Then, she climbs back into her bed and is asleep again before I turn out the light.

As I fall asleep, my brain casts back to the most terrible thing I remember from childhood: the cartoon version of The Hobbit where Bilbo finds the trolls have been captured by the spider. Only, the trolls are my kids, and I get captured…

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One of many nightmares of St. Rita’s

I wake to the sound of plastic stuff clattering to the ground. The cat was excited by the spider episode and wants to play some more, so he’s knocking my son’s diabetes stuff off the dresser.

“Mom,” I hear him whisper. He’s still mostly asleep. When I walk into his room, I catch the cat’s glowing, guilty eyes in the light of my phone.

“Get out of here,” I nudge him off the dresser and pick up the lancet and test strips. Only he has another idea.

“As long as you’re up, my bowl is empty.”

“Nice try,” I tell him, but I wonder if he’ll let me get back to sleep. We sort of meet in the middle: he doesn’t jump up on the bed and step on my neck, but he continues to stalk my houseplants and knock over the Christmas cactus.

I just fall asleep, and it’s morning.

I hear the door slide open as my daughter steps out to free the spider. So, I smile and get up, still tired. My son’s awake, too. The routine commences: breakfast preparation, the shoving of the food down the throats, lunch packing, the pulling of the clothes upon the bodies, the horrific brushing of the teeth, the terrible wrangling into the car, and school drop-off.

There was a time I muttered curses at parents who turned the wrong way into the parking lot, and judged them for letting their kids go to school in flip-flops on a 30-degree day.

Now, I know someone was probably up holding hair away from a barf-bucket, rocking a new sibling for the fortieth time, or waiting for the dryer to finish because ALL the socks were in the wash.

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“It’s 11:30! NOW you’re building a Mayflower?!”

“Today is library,” my son says.

“Oh, that’s great,” I say.

“My library books are still in my room.”

“Put them in your backpack when you get home, you can return them tomorrow.”

I am happy to handle night-time duties, but can not be held responsible for forgotten library materials. One of these days, they will check out of Hôtel aux Parents, I will lose my job as mom-cierge, and maybe get a good night’s sleep…

And I won’t know there’s a spider in my pillowcase until it’s too late.

I have a book coming out soon! Click Follow on this blog for updates! 🙂

Two Children’s Books on Friendship

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If you don’t have school-aged kids, you might think all kids get along; they just want to play together. Maybe it takes some common interest, but once kids “connect,” they’re cool.

If you have school-aged kids, you know there’s more drama in grade school than on all the streaming services combined.

While you can’t force kids to be “nice,” to each other, you can teach them friendship is a choice, not an obligation. The earlier you teach them, the better, in my humble opinion.

We were once in the “everyone should be friends” camp. This might have been okay when the kids were closely supervised in a three-hour preschool program (even though sh*t still happened). Once in elementary school, however, they quickly had to learn to fend for themselves. Often, there are kids who know how to be “good” around adults and sheer evil when nobody’s looking.

That’s why I recommend two books, both classics by established authors, available in most public libraries: A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban and Timothy Goes to School by Rosemary Wells.

A Bargain for Frances is an “easy reader” book, but it’s worth reading to your child, especially if they’re having a bout of friendship trouble. Frances’s friend, Thelma, has a history of mistreating Frances. Despite her mother’s disapproval (hello!), Frances continues to play with her until Thelma plays a mean trick. Frances finally snaps and gets her revenge with the kind of calculation I wish I had as an adult!

The two of them come to a very evolved understanding. “We can be careful [continue to distrust each other], or we can be friends,” is the proposal Frances finally makes to Thelma, who chooses to be friends. Yes, it’s idealistic, but it’s true: two people can stay friends only if both friends treat each other with respect. Frances gives Thelma an ultimatum, Thelma agrees to change.

(This actually happened with my daughter who had a “bad” friend in kindergarten. She told the girl she noticed she was only mean to her, and not to the other girls, and she didn’t want to be friends anymore. Time has passed, and they now get along with no meanness or disrespect.)

The second book I like (moving a little closer to Defcon 1), is Rosemary Wells’s Timothy Goes to School. This is for the friendship that’s not going to happen, or needs to end immediately.

Timothy is a sweet, good-natured racoon. His teacher encourages him to befriend another racoon (*cough* profiling!), Claude, who turns out to be an arrogant SOB. Claude snubs Timothy, all the while playing the rest of the class (including the teacher) like a saxophone.

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Manipulative raccoons play people like saxophones.

Timothy is miserable, feels hopeless, and wants to give up on school. He even wishes bad things would happen to Claude. Now, before you go all “terrible message!” on me, this is a very astute book. Meanness hurts!! Who doesn’t want the a-hole in traffic to get pulled over by the cop? Who doesn’t want the co-worker who hates your ideas and then presents them in the meeting as his own to suffocate in his skinny pants?

But what’s this? Timothy finds another tormented soul in his class. They get together after school over cupcakes and snark about their tormentors. The end.

Wells’s lessons aren’t very “nice,” but they are realistic. First, your child is not alone. Finding someone who is going through the same thing can be an enormous relief. Second, there are some kids who will hurt your child no matter how well he or she treats them. Those kids aren’t worth it. Why not laugh about it, and move on?

Kids are always hearing; to have a friend you’ve got to be a friend, and kids who are mean to you just need patience and understanding – they’re actually suffering!, and once we all learn to get along, we can be happy ever after. That’s bull.

Do not teach them to placate and pacify people for the honor of a conditional friendship. They can and should wait for friends who are kind, loyal, and respectful.

These books alone won’t protect your child from bad friends (unless you roll them up into tight little batons…), but they’re a subtler starting point than parental outrage and disapproval. I hope our kids are blessed with the good friends they deserve.

Happy reading!

My books are available here.