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Literally, working my ASS off.

Yep. I’m going to the gym. SHIIIT. I have to admit, it’s the only thing to get my ass in these jeans. Cuz here’s the shiz, peeps. Why am I talking like Snoop Dogg, I have no idea.  I am on a very limited shopping budget. We are saving for a family trip to Europe this summer. I need to save my pennies and not buy new clothes. So in the effort of not looking like Mariah Carey stuffed in a sausage casing- I need to work out.

The fact is- I’ve tried vitamins, low calorie intake, the nap diet- (I made that up, it’s where you nap and burn calories sleeping. It beats eating a whole cake in one setting) and just casually walking the dog. I went up a size. Yep. So while a lot of you are saying, ‘yeah, no shit sherlock, doing nothing gains weight’, I thought if I just did like French women and nibbled a little here and there, I would fit into Chanel off the runway. Insert snort through nose disbelief sound here.

Not to sound like Dr. Oz, your mom, your doctor, or that damned annoying Jillian Michaels- working up a sweat helps you feel better. Period. Oh, and that reminds me, it helps your periods. It’s true. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling like a slug, not working out because you’re feeling like a slug, time of the month comes, you’re feeling like a slug, on and on it goes.

Exercise helps with migraines. I don’t know why, I just have less when I burn a sweat at the gym a few times a week. It lowers your blood pressure, helps your heart, helps your endorphins. And yes, endorphins are those little happy molecules that apparently all you sorry saps out there reading my blog, need more of. Including me.

I also read somewhere more exercise helps with better sex. I will spare comments on this subject. I think if James worked out too- there would be something to write here. Since I’m doing all the work…let’s just say…I’m doing all the work. Ba da bump.

Oh, what else? Cancer. Yes ladies, and gents, exercising reduces your risk of cancer. And if you’re having a glass of wine each night to help your heart, you’re upping your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I know, that sucks. So work out, and you can off-set that factoid.

AND, it helps build bone mass so we don’t end up looking like our grandmas all hunched over. Posture ladies- it’s true. We suck at it. If we were put in a time machine and transported to the 50s we’d be fat slobs slouching around with our muffin tops hanging over our pajama jeans. You know those women’s health and fashion magazines that say standing up straight makes you look 5 lbs lighter? Well, they’re right! It does. I can’t stand to see a pretty girl hunched over. Suck in your gut, squeeze your bottom and throw back your shoulders. What are you afraid of?? Okay, I’m scaring myself because I sound like Miss Minchin in A Little Princess.

I’m not preaching here, I’m just sharing. I’ve read all the articles, all the magazines and there’s no short cuts. So enjoy, don’t kill yourself, and work out for reasons that are more than skin deep- like your brain, your heart, your uterus, your boobs, your bones. Those are good reasons, right?

Remember this from “Friends”?

Hint- I’m Phoebe.

This will not be my form of working out. Not that James wouldn't mind.

Again, not me. Don't be intimidated. Just Do It.

Heartbreak and parenting. There is not one without the other.

Warning- this post gets preachy, sentimental, and down right tearful. Some sing through their sadness, paint or go running. I write. So read and bear with me. Get a latte, a cocktail, whatever- this is going to take awhile.

I gripe a lot about my children, and my poor husband. But the reality is, I could not live without them. And I hope I never have to. With that said, I have seen a lot of heartache from parents I know. Losing a child is THE most devastating part of life I can think of. And anyone who knows someone who has lost, thinks, “Gosh, I’m guilty of thinking, Glad it’s not my kid. But how horrible for them.”

I was originally going to write about the upcoming anniversary of our friends’ daughter’s passing, Siona Shah. She went to be an angel on New Years Day 2011. As a community and neighborhood we were heartbroken for this family’s loss. Siona bravely battled Leukemia and was only 6 when she died. Her parents, Nigam and Reshma and her older brother, Sohil, like to talk about her passion for purple, her love of princesses, unicorns, the color pink and butterflies. We climbed the Columbia Tower to raise money for LLS (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and dozens of people ran with Team Siona in the Rock n Roll marathon to raise money for LLS. I have a new found respect and admiration for the Be the Match Foundation and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Both organizations were there for Siona and her family. I know many lives have been touched and maybe saved because of her legacy. My heart is always with you Shahs.

But then this week of holiday happiness between Christmas and New Year’s, when kids are playing with their toys, parents are trying to gain headway on the mess, and looking forward to when school starts again- a sad stream of Facebook statuses was coming through my feed. A little 10 year old boy had accidentally strangled himself with a necktie and his family was praying for him to come through. For two days they kept a prayerful vigil at Harborview, our renowned trauma hospital in Seattle. Hundreds of people prayed for his recovery, there were rosaries, vigils and masses said for him. But to everyone’s dismay, he passed on Thursday to be with his Lord. Little 10 year old Anthony Strauss was now an angel. But what some of us knew, he is joining his sister Gloria, an angel who passed before him.

Little Gloria Strauss’ story was covered in our Seattle Times in the months before she died of a rare, incurable cancer. Many grew to be fond of Gloria, prayed for her and her parents, her then 6 siblings. She passed away at age 11 in 2007. Her family knew she was now an angel. No question. They set up a non-profit to help others going through grief and loss. To lift them in prayer, hope and faith. The way their family, church and friends did for them.

Now they face it all over again. To grieve over their child. What good could come of this? How could God let this happen?

I don’t know.

But this I do know. We have the power to reach each other. To send whatever we can, whether it’s money, prayers, sympathy. There is always death and sadness. There is always birth and joy. Without one, there isn’t another. So we cry, we comfort, we carry on.

And most importantly- we love our kids no matter how crazy they drive us. The night I found out Anthony died- (I didn’t know this boy, to be clear, but the power of Facebook makes you feel like you know perfect strangers.) I was ready to shake my kids and tell them to please go away to their rooms. Let me be and not bother me. I was exhausted, irritated and completely done for. It was about 10 pm. Then I went on Facebook and saw the tremendous grief a family was feeling over not having their boy to run, jump on the furniture, pester his sister, terrorize the cat and ask his mom a million different questions. And I thought- they would trade places with me in a heartbeat.

So I went upstairs, hugged my children, rubbed their backs while they lay in their beds. Kissed their mussed up, sweaty hair. And blessed them each for being there. I thanked God for this. And went downstairs and cried to James.

I have blog readers in Australia, the UK, Asia and of course, the US. If you’d like to reach out to the Strauss family, share their story or  help make a difference, I’ve included several links. And gosh darn, just hug and squeeze those crazy monkeys in your life!

Gloria’s Angels

Be the Match Foundation

St. Jude’s Hospital

St. Jude’s Fundraising page

Quick, just a few more days until the Apocalypse.

Or The Dog Days are Over… if you didn’t like 2011. Cue Florence  + The Machine. (Emma has given me permission to record and post her Florence  impersonation. It’s freakin’ awesome. But not yet, I haven’t had the chance to do all the techy stuff. But it will be good. I promise.)

It’s after Christmas and before New Year’s. That means, it’s time for a year in review. It’s already 2011. Gone. Unfreakinbelievable. Where has the time gone. Wasn’t it just 1999? Remember Y2K? Yeah. Ha, ha. That was a joke the size of Kim Kardashian’s wedding. Hardy har har.

You get enough countdowns, and Best Of lists in the media. This will be MY list. Because, it’s all about me really.

1. I started blogging. Yeah. It’s life changing. Not in a win the lottery type of way. In the oh-you-have-a-house-guest-that-sits-around-your-house-all-day-and-does-nothing-and-oh-wait-it’s-just-mom. Yeah. Like that. It’s like writing that Christmas newsletter about yourself and your family every day for people to read. Some hate it. Some hate it less. I save a lot on paper now.

2. I fell in love with giant metal chickens and and a blogger named The Bloggess. Not as in fall in love Daniel Craig style. Fall in love with a cool girl at school kind.

3. I started using the ‘F’ word more often. My children are horrified. I blame The Bloggess.

4. Emma started middle school and we survived. I will update this when she turns 16 and starts driving. Hopefully, with the same results.

5. I ran my 3rd 5k with Race for the Cure. No joke.

6. Emma and I climbed all 69 flights of  the Columbia Tower to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. Again, no joke.

7. I met Pitbull and he kissed me on the cheek. Okay, he kisses EVERYONE on the cheek.

8. My husband finally cleaned the garage. (This should be #1)

9. I got up early to watch the Royal Wedding.

10. Two of my friends conquered cancer. Oh wait. THIS should be #1. Best for last.

Happy Mayan Apocalypse Year!

Oh really, you’re too kind. No really, you shouldn’t have. Okay, yes you should.

How’s this for irony? Last night I was watching the Kennedy Center Honors. Meryl Streep was being honored. ‘Nuff said. She is the BOMB. It was fantastic and she looks fantastic and one day I will meet her. Oprah says if you put it out there in the universe then it will happen. So there.

I went to bed dreaming of Meryl, the Oscars and how I will congratulate her on her win, because the woman has been nominated 16 times and she’s bound to be nominated for the 17th time this year and they sure as hell better just give  her the damn thing. I also thought of Rooney Mara, because she is just really cool.

And then I woke up and saw that a fellow WordPress blogger had honored me with the 7 x 7 Award! Yay me!

This was bestowed upon me by The Dissemination of Thought. A clever guy that writes and feels I’m clever too. That, or it’s just a cruel joke, like in Little House on the Prairie when they nominated that one kid for class president only to make him do yucky, awful things.

I’m supposed to list 7 of my blog posts and what is so great about them. These are hand picked by me and not my mother. So they will probably have swear words, and Daniel Craig. Poor James.

Here goes:

Most Beautiful- My post to my dad on his 80th birthday. So sweet. Ode to My Dad

Most Helpful- I would like to say my post about surviving the holidays, or any of my product features, but in reality it was my post called Medicated and Proud of It. A lot of people related to my rants on how to survive the day to day and see through the bullshit.

Most Popular- My post for Ashley and her completion of chemo. I think her whole family read it, that’s why it was such a busy site day! Dedicated to Ashley

Most Controversial- Well, I’m guessing it was my post on the show Glee and teen sex. Go figure. Glee- Coming out, First Times, and More Parental Anxiety

Most Surprisingly Successful- This sounds like, ‘oh, I wrote this and thought it was crap, but apparently you’re either stupid or it was better than I thought’. It was my fantastic list on parenting. Things You’ll Do Because You Are Parents

Most Underrated- Definitely my post on Ben & Jerry’s Schweddy Balls. Dang I thought this one was superb! Dear Ben and Jerry’s

Most Pride-worthy- Only because it probably means more to me than anyone else. When Owen gushed his love for us at Thanksgiving. My Cup Runneth Over and My Heart Melteth and My Eyes Teareth

So there you have it. See for yourself what you think. I have like frickin’ 60 posts published, so there’s lots to choose from. Go ahead, waste your time and read all of them.

You’re welcome.

Here’s 7 blogs I enjoy too that I’ve bestowed the 7 x 7 Link Award. Like a chain letter sort of.

Never Done it That Way Before

Run DMT

Stay Out of My Head

On My Square

Becoming Cliche

Mixed Gems

Yummy Mummy

Holy nubbins Batman, they DO have Puberty Barbie.

Okay, normally I don’t post twice in one day. But I had to do a post script to my post Do Toy Execs Think Parents Are Idiots.

My friend Betsy pointed out that they did have Puberty Barbie. It was called Growing Up Skipper. It grew boobies when you spun her arm.

I wish I could grow my boobies just by spinning my arms.

And any of you folks out there that still own this baby from 1975 (in the box of course), it’s going for $300 on Amazon. I gotta get me one with my Cher Barbie!

Mattel's version of Puberty Barbie

Do toy execs think parents are idiots?

Have any of you seen the commercial for Squishy Baff? Yes, Baff. Not bath. No, that would be too grammatically correct.  I guess poor grammar sells things straight to our kiddos little hearts. It sounds cute that way, you know, more fun. Serious doesn’t sell. Obviously. Things need to be spelled like Play doh, Li’l instead of ‘little’, and ‘N instead of ‘and’.

I may be way out of line here. But isn’t that what people say that can’t or don’t say they’re ‘th’s. Like when you’re 3 and you say  ‘free’ when asked how old you are. Or you speak in Ebonics. Bill Cosby would not approve.

So this product is a powder that you put in your kids’ bath water for it to turn to a slushy. 7-11 style. It’s gross. I don’t want to bathe in squishy, slushy stuff, that comes in colors. The trick is that it turns back into water for you to rinse it down your drain.

I however am not brave enough (or stupid) to try it out and see if it really does in fact, NOT harm plumbing.

Here’s the commercial on their website:

Squishy Baff

Two aspects of this website crack me up:

1) It’s ONLY thirty bucks to make a hell of a mess up to 4 times for your kids.

2) If you wanted it guaranteed for Christmas delivery, you had to order by Dec. 11. If you want ‘likely’ Christmas delivery, the 15th is the best you can do. What does this company use, Pony Express?

I guess this product has been around for a few years. I saw the commercial last week on Nickelodeon.

I think this rates right up there with Moon Sand and a drum set in terms of nightmare toys for kids.

What’s next Puberty Barbie?

Things I learned this holiday

Christmas 2011 is in the books. It came and went without a migraine, sinus infection or tantrum. And the kids did well too. (Ba da bump) I was even CHEERFUL  on Christmas Eve. I think my criticism was at a minimum and I even sang in the shower. Christmas carols of course, Angela Lansbury style. What’s Angela Landsbury style you ask? Watch Beauty and the Beast and picture Mrs. Potts singing Christmas songs. THAT’s what I sounded like. It sounded really good to me. In the shower.

1. Mulled wine tastes better when you add lots of sugar.

2. 2 old fashions and a gin and tonic consumed in one afternoon at the in-laws really cuts through any worry or stress brought on by holiday visits.

3. I look 10 pounds heavier in pictures.

4. I look 15 pounds heavier in pictures that are taken of me sitting down.

5. 4 year olds and paint that’s not water soluble don’t mix.

6. When your children are 8 and 11, you don’t have those fucking zip ties on all their crap they get. That’s because they don’t get toys and shit, just expensive electronics.

7. Everything tastes better with half-n-half.

8. Having a dozen candles lit with the fireplace going in our living room sets off every smoke detector in our house.

9. The smoke detectors in our house stop beeping after about 30 seconds once you open some windows.

10. Everything tastes better with mascarpone in it.

11. The movie, The Grinch with Jim Carrey is way too long and annoying to watch with your kids at night when you’ve been up since 5 am. Just stick with the original animated 30 minute version.

12. I have the sweetest, most grateful children. We’ll see what the next 364 days bring.

13. Despite my griping and bitching this whole month, I really do love the holidays. (Shh, don’t tell anyone) AND, I get kind of mopey during January when there’s no holiday pressure to entertain me. I know. I’m just weird.

14. Blogging doesn’t burn as many calories as running on the treadmill. I tried it and my experiment failed. See #s 3 and 4.

15. The dog will eat the cookies you leave out for Santa.

Silently, the wondrous gift is given

Often with the stress of Christmas, the pressures of getting it all done, I forget what’s important. I know, I’ve probably griped about Christmas more than raved about it. And no, I’m not a Grinch. I just like complaining. (Ask James and see Pet Peeves) But really, remembering what’s important, is truly the reason for the season.  This sounds so cliche, I know. Blah, blah, blah the meaning of Christmas is more than presents. I get it. When disappointment sets in I remember this- I have my presents already.

They are, my two incredible children and my extremely tolerant, devoted husband.

The other day I dropped the kids off at the library entrance while I went to park the car. I watched them walk hand in hand inside the building, chatting kindly to each other. I practically burst into tears at the sight of this. For multiple reasons- first, they weren’t punching each other; second, they are the most incredible beings that have walked this planet. Yes, I’m biased.

Now for my husband:

When I was in college, before I met James, I used to pray every day for God to send me a husband. Does that sound a little too Doris Day for you? I know. But it’s true. So single ladies out there, light your candles and say your prayers and you too will get hitched to a swell guy like I did. Okay, just kidding. This isn’t a 1950′s article on how to land a husband.

This is my tome of gratitude. My testimony to all that is good in my life. And how I must not forget how much I waited and wanted it, and now I have it. MY family. I knew that one day, my prayers would be answered. That I would have the person in my life to share my tomorrows, my todays, my children, my everything.  It was my faith that told me that.

I get all weepy when I listen to my Sarah Maclachlan’s Christmas CD. I’ll be in the car by myself, singing along and always tear up with Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

If you’re a Christian, this is the part of Christmas you accept. If you’re not a Christian, then this is the part of Christmas you scratch your head at, or maybe just dismiss altogether. And I know my previous post on Christmas and the Winter Solstice makes this post seem like a paradox, or just plain hypocrisy since I explained the Romans were all about their toga party and the Puritans banned the whole thing. And I wrote that folks should celebrate how they want. I still believe that is true. But I am a Christian, and my reason for celebrating Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

I know that there’s a lot of cynics when it comes to Christmas. Back in the 60s even Charlie Brown was jaded by the whole true meaning of Christmas. This was 50 years ago! We haven’t improved at all since then.

So, I still cling to the belief that Christmas is silver bells, Jimmy Stewart, the Virgin Mary AND that little baby, lowly in a manger. It may be naive of me, childish, or just completely based on that thing called, FAITH.

So every Christmas Eve that I have the privilege of sitting under my tree, candles lit, children tucked in, presents under the tree, James sitting in the other room on his laptop (come on, what did you expect?) and the feeling that I get to do this all over again, my heart is truly full.  Thank you baby Jesus.

Silently, the wondrous gift is given

Often with the stress of Christmas, the pressures of getting it all done, I forget what’s important. I know, I’ve probably griped about Christmas more than raved about it. And no, I’m not a Grinch. I just like complaining. (Ask James and see Pet Peeves) But really, remembering what’s important, is truly the reason for the season.  This sounds so cliche, I know. Blah, blah, blah the meaning of Christmas is more than presents. I get it. When disappointment sets in I remember this- I have my presents already.

They are, my two incredible children and my extremely tolerant, devoted husband.

The other day I dropped the kids off at the library entrance while I went to park the car. I watched them walk hand in hand inside the building, chatting kindly to each other. I practically burst into tears at the sight of this. For multiple reasons- first, they weren’t punching each other; second, they are the most incredible beings that have walked this planet. Yes, I’m biased.

Now for my husband:

When I was in college, before I met James, I used to pray every day for God to send me a husband. Does that sound a little too Doris Day for you? I know. But it’s true. So single ladies out there, light your candles and say your prayers and you too will get hitched to a swell guy like I did. Okay, just kidding. This isn’t a 1950′s article on how to land a husband.

This is my tome of gratitude. My testimony to all that is good in my life. And how I must not forget how much I waited and wanted it, and now I have it. MY family. I knew that one day, my prayers would be answered. That I would have the person in my life to share my tomorrows, my todays, my children, my everything.  It was my faith that told me that.

I get all weepy when I listen to my Sarah Maclachlan’s Christmas CD. I’ll be in the car by myself, singing along and always tear up with Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given.
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

If you’re a Christian, this is the part of Christmas you accept. If you’re not a Christian, then this is the part of Christmas you scratch your head at, or maybe just dismiss altogether. And I know my previous post on Christmas and the Winter Solstice makes this post seem like a paradox, or just plain hypocrisy since I explained the Romans were all about their toga party and the Puritans banned the whole thing. And I wrote that folks should celebrate how they want. I still believe that is true. But I am a Christian, and my reason for celebrating Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.

I know that there’s a lot of cynics when it comes to Christmas. Back in the 60s even Charlie Brown was jaded by the whole true meaning of Christmas. This was 50 years ago! We haven’t improved at all since then.

So, I still cling to the belief that Christmas is silver bells, Jimmy Stewart, the Virgin Mary AND that little baby, lowly in a manger. It may be naive of me, childish, or just completely based on that thing called, FAITH.

So every Christmas Eve that I have the privilege of sitting under my tree, candles lit, children tucked in, presents under the tree, James sitting in the other room on his laptop (come on, what did you expect?) and the feeling that I get to do this all over again, my heart is truly full.  Thank you baby Jesus.

Toga, Toga, Toga

Well, that was weird. I’m watching the History channel; clearly I must have been confused and had it on by accident instead of the E! channel. It was strange since Kim Kardashian didn’t show up anywhere.

Anyway, this show on the origins of Christmas informed me that nobody knows what day Jesus was born on, the Romans only started celebrating His birthday in the 4th century, and they just lumped it in with their big end of year, winter solstice party that everyone wore their nicest toga to. WHAAT?? Oh that’s just marvelous. Instead of ugly Christmas sweaters, we should be wearing togas.  Why has this not been made clear all these years?

Then later on, the  medieval Christmas was all about rowdy groups going door to door singing Christmas hymns and getting a dip out of the household jug of ale. This would go bad if you didn’t give them a swig of whatever libation and they would threaten to throw rocks at your house or shank you the next day in the village square or something. So they just got drunker and drunker as they went through town. But at least they were singing church songs.

And THEN, the pilgrims got all pissed that Christmas was a Catholic invented holiday because they were Protestant, so they banned it all together. They didn’t want any of that drinking and singing stuff and I think the Roman’s Winter Solstice party to them seemed like a party at the Playboy Mansion so they put the kibosh on the whole holiday. Good grief.

Now I’m all confused.

But I’m going to go out on a limb and say, that those that want to celebrate in whatever way they will, seems to go along perfectly with history.

The importance of celebrating the Winter Solstice in those days is because folks didn’t have frequent flyer miles or points to redeem for a trip to Hawaii in January. Drinking, feasting, lighting candles were pretty much all that got them through the dark days of December. Hmm, sounds kind of familiar.

We can put whatever importance on this day we want to. If it’s Jesus’ birthday you celebrate, Hallelujah.  If it’s secular and pagan traditions, go for it. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Nothing wrong with some revelry, feasting and prayerful reflection, yes? All my non-Christian, Agnostic, Atheist friends are like, “Yeah, Rebecca come to the dark side with us!” and my Christian, conservative, religious friends are like, “Rebecca, Christmas is about Jesus and that is all.” And for me Christmas is still about Jesus. But, it’s interesting to hear where all this stuff got jumbled together. Let’s all be merry together.

So now I’m just thinking of how to bring the toga back for my next Christmas party, and if tights go with it because it does get chilly here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Winter Solstice and thank goodness those uptight pilgrims didn’t ruin the party for the rest of us.