When in Rome?

This is a post that has been knocking around in my head for quite some time, but one of those I just never got around to writing. In light of recent political thangs, I was reminded of it...but suddenly a bit reluctant. I don't want this to come across as a post about a particular candidate, because it isn't. It is, however, about a phenomenon I've witnessed for years and it really makes me twist off. So here you go!

Let me start off by telling you a little bit about myself: I studied French for over eight years...all through high school and college. That's for a solid eight years, not intermittently during that time period. After I graduated from college, my roommate and I instituted "French Sundays" and we only spoke French on those days so that I wouldn't get too rusty.

That same roommate also taught me some of her native Portuguese. And a bit of Spanish.

In my twenties I also enrolled in German classes at a local community college.

When my son was of preschool age, he showed a strong interest in learning Spanish...so I enrolled him in a program for little kiddies and their mommies. It was great for both of us. All three of my children either have or will learn non-native languages...I firmly believe it is not only a wonderful academic exercise but also a key to understanding other cultures.

Plus I just LOVE how it feels to articulate myself in a new language. It is uniquely thrilling.

So with that caveat, I must say I take great offense of this notion that we Americans are backwards and unenlightened because so many of us don't speak a second or third language.

I've been extraordinarily fortunate to have spent a lot of time in Europe. As I looked forward to my first time in France, I was thrilled to be able to buck that stereotype I'd been taught all of us ugly Americans deserved. I was going to take my pretty damn good French vocabulary and accent and WOW them in those French-speaking countries. Plus I would use my rudimentary Spanish when I could! And maybe I'd just speak French all over Europe and be super awesome!!!

Guess how many times that happened? Let's see...once in Provence a B&B owner kindly indulged me. That's all I can remember. Oh, no wait...their was the bartender in Paris who totally mocked my accent. That's a funny story for another time. Remind me, 'kay?

Sure, there were other times that I got to flex my linguistic muscles, but what usually happened was as soon as the first French (or Spanish) syllables were out of my mouth, whomever I was talking to would wave their hand and say (usually with a polite smile or wink, sometimes with an impatient roll of their eyes), "That's okay, let's speak English." It was disappointing, but whatever. I got over it.

When two Europeans from countries with different languages get together, guess what they usually speak? English. Because, the thing is...English just happens to be, for whatever reason, the default language. On the internet and in real life.

If you live on the border of Italy and Austria, there's a geographic imperative that makes learning more than your family's native language tongue a highly valuable skill. We simply don't have that in the United States.

I would LOVE for there to be languages taught in our grade schools from Kindergarten on. For what it's worth, I'd also love for there to be art, music, and PE, to name a few. I'm supplementing my kid's education with foreign languages. And art and music and PE.

My point is that I'm sick of being told we should be ashamed of our ugly, unenlightened, and inferior nation because we travel abroad and speak English. I know there are those who fit that stereotype, but for the most part I think it is an unfair characterization.


First Annual Post-BlogHer Swag Giveaway (or give it away, give it away, give it away now...I can't tell if I'm a kingpin or a pauper!)

I've been sifting through my BlogHer swag (yes, there is so much that I'm not yet done...and I dumped a lot of it in the Zwaggle room)?

But I've come across a few things thus far that I just don't need.

So you, dear readers, are in luck! It's my first give-away evah!

What have I got?

A seven day pre-paid WiFi card from T Mobile HotSpot (19.99 value).


One free year of Picnik Premium (it's like Picnik, only awesomer).

There will be more...but this is a start, no?

Just leave a comment below letting me know which one you want! Tell all of your friends! All that good stuff!

I'll announce the winners this Friday, August 1st!

Good luck!

***Edited: How did I not know this was a big bloggy carnival giveaway week? Holy internet giveaway synchronicity, batman! For more giveaways, check out Bloggy Giveaways!

(Can I say giveaways like maybe ONE more time? Oh, I just did.)

***Edited again: I canNOT make that link for the carnival above work. The code is right but it's getting all misdirected. Try this button instead:

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

(See how I cleverly made it through this second edit without saying "giveaway?" Oh, damn.)


It's my blog and I'll be vain if I want to.

Way back in 1998 I was laying in bed, my newborn son in his bassinet within arm's reach. I put my hand lightly on his chest, feeling its reassuring rise and fall.

As if overwhelmed with love for my little boy, my heart starting beating faster and faster in the still of the night. It sounded like a train in my ears, or a marching band. It thumped against my chest wall and started to steal my ability to breath normally.

While my husband slept oblivious next to me, I struggled for a deep breath, tried to reassure myself that this was probably a normal experience to have in the days right after giving birth. I was probably dehydrated. Over-tired. Adjusting to the crazy hormonal shifts.

This feeling, however, would surface whenever it damned well pleased for quite some time. Three and a half years, to be exact.

There were some dark times in those years, but for the most part the anxiety was manageable. I knew the feeling would go away in a day or two; I just had to suffer through those hours. Eventually as the months progressed the "episodes" grew further and further apart, until one day I realized that it had been weeks since the last one.

They were gone.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I promised my husband that if I had another post-partum experience like that, I'd give up the stoicism and take some medication. I didn't want to live like that again, and I didn't want to put my family through it.

Happily, the second time around it wasn't as bad. Or, on second thought, maybe not happily. I lived with a low-grade anxiety that I kept pretty well hidden most of the time, but it would come out full-force when I was faced with an even mildly stressful situation.

When my daughter was just over a year old, I was faced with what turned out to be a big fat NOTHING, but at the time was a wee bit of a health scare for me. I crumpled. I stopped returning phone calls, hid in my home for weeks waiting for tests and biopsy results. I told no-one about it, just put everything on hold as much as I could.

When that was all over, I marched into my doctor's office and said, "It's time. Gimme some Zoloft." He did, and it worked miraculously. The anxiety that had taken over was gone.


At the time, I was training for a half marathon. I had less than a month to go, and was really ramping up my running.

Yet...as I watched my friends with whom I was training dropping pounds like crazy because of our running schedule, I started gaining weight.

I remember the day of the race, which went from Napa to Sonoma, feeling my belly jiggle a bit as I ran. I'd never had that before. Not ever. I had gained five pounds since starting Zoloft.

Whatever, it's worth it not to feel like that. I thought to myself. Five pounds is a small price to pay to feel normal.

I had no idea what was in store for me.

The small stomach jiggle grew and grew. I tucked away my size 4's and bought 6's. I can deal with a size 6 if it means I'm not dealing with anxiety.

The flab on my tummy started expanding northward. My rib cage became covered by a small layer of fat, then a thicker one.

Out with the 6's, in with the 8's.

This is getting tough, but still...worth it.

My hips started widening. My wedding rings got tight. Even bracelets didn't fit the same. AND MY SHOES.

Bought some size 10's.

In case you're wondering, I was still working out consistently. I enjoy exercise and don't feel right if I skip more than a day. In fact, until Zoloft I was one of those annoying people who occasionally had to diet to GAIN weight (okay, not so much after kids, but I didn't have one bit of problem losing weight EVER. Until Zoly).

I started pretty much living in yoga pants.

And I bought a size 12.

My weight reached the place where it was when I gave birth to each of my kids. I looked in the mirror and the bone structure that once allowed me to model (not a lot, mind you, but a bit) was gone.

Who is that fat woman in the mirror? Oh, right, me.



In three years I've gained thirty pounds. That's an increase of about twenty-five percent. Good times!

I'm going to wean myself off of Zoloft. It actually kind of started at BlogHer because I forgot to take my daily dose twice. I figured I'd run with it...

I'm going to document it for you here. The good, the bad, the whatever.

And maybe, just maybe, if I make it to BlogHer next year I won't hide from the cameras. Or look frantic in the photos that are taken because I dread seeing how fat my face has become.

Because this is me (days before starting Zoloft):

Not this (at BlogHer...thanks VDog for letting me steal the photo!)

Maybe I shouldn't be so vain. But, whatever, I am.

(I wonder when I started parting my hair on the opposite side? THAT has nothing to do with Zoloft, I'm pretty sure.)


I defect

So, as I mentioned, this li'l blog o' mine has been getting an overhaul. Thought it was time for her to look all perty.

I can't take credit for the look, though. The lovely and talented Karla of Fruition Designs was slaving away on it while I was whooping it up in San Franscisco.

Right now I'm trying to sport an uncluttered look. No worries, that'll change. I know some of the links don't work...that'll be taken care of eventually as well. Anyway, some of the blog bling is gone, some of it is back.

This, however, is back up:

Actually, "back up" isn't technically correct because the one I used to have up was this:

What isn't going back up is this:

Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

No, now...don't get me wrong. I DO still totally kick ass! And Guy Kawasaki is super nice and not only allowed me to park my blog at his site for the past few weeks, but also hosted an amazing partay at his home and graciously allowed me to attend. And drink wine. And eat. And pick up super swag.

It's not you, Guy, it's me.

Well, it's kinda someone else. Yes, classic love triangle.

My paramour AllMediocre. I cannot resist the siren call that is AllMediocre.

The thing is, AllMediocre became more than just a holding tank for those of us wanting to get to Alltop. It's a true community. I miss the community. I miss my friends at AllMediocre.

BUT dammit Meghan won't grant an exception to her rule for me (I KNOW!) which states very emphatically that you can't be a member of AllMediocre if you're on Alltop.

So, while Alltop and Guy were very good to me, I have no choice but to go back to AllMediocre...because while the bling and validation from AllTop were awesome, I'm here on the interwebs because of YOU. The community. The interwebs interaction and bloggy love.

Thus I must invoke the words of my beloved Steve Martin and say to AllTop,

"I break with thee. I break with thee. I break with thee."

~throwing dog poop on their shoes~


BlogHer recap #2: Or, the one about being got.

I have like five dozen different BlogHer posts banging around this head of mine...like one with funny anecdotes of drunk bloggers, others with reasons why you should go next year if you didn't this year, informational posts with the nuts and bolts of the conference itself (because despite all the posts and photos to the contrary, there actually was a serious conference going on), linky posts full of who I met and how fabulous they are. Giveaways of some swag I don't need. Oh, and juice on the Big Bloggers.

And I'll get to those, at least some of them. Later.

But for now, I just want to tell you one big HUGE reason why I loved the weekend, and how I've come away changed. Honestly, like it was some uber-spiritual revelatory retreat weekend or a summer camp where I lost my virginity (not that I experienced either of those, but I imagine they'd be similar).

I kept waiting to become overwhelmed with anxiety, or shyness, or vertigo, or something. What I ended up being overwhelmed with, right from the beginning, is a sense of being surrounded by kindred souls.

You know how in your "real" life if you start talking about your blog to a friend their eyes start to glaze over? Or they get a confused look on their face?

You know how in your "real" life you have to go through a bunch of verbal gymnastics when you try to explain to others how these people you know online are definitely not a bunch of big hairy perves? That they really are friends in the truest sense?

You know how in your "real" life NO ONE gets what twitter is all about?

At BlogHer, I was surrounded by 999 other people who got me. I got them. We got each other...and it was crazily liberating.

It was so flipping relaxing to be amongst people who not only didn't roll their eyes when the word "blog" was mentioned, but instead wanted to hear about it. And who had a blog of their own that you wanted to hear about. With whom you could exchange your bloggy greeting cards and just be yourself.

Where I could just be myself.

That thought really struck me for the first time on Thursday night as I rode a shuttle from the Westin to the Alltop/Kirsty party in Atherton (at Guy Kawasaki's house). Apparently the party was in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, because the shuttle drivers kept getting lost.

I was sitting next to VDog who knows the area well and kept saying,"Dudes, we're totally going the wrong way. We're heading away from Atherton towards Redwood City. Snap!" People (and by people I mean a shitload of big name bloggers) started whipping out iPhones and trying to locate the party and our shuttle location on google maps.

I was texting with Mrs. Flinger who was on the shuttle ahead of us...they were confirmed as definitely lost. Pretty soon we were, too.

Then the fun really started...the bus did about seventeen U-turns. It was a two lane highway, so really they were more like 72-point turns. Curb-hitting, cars honking, bloggers complaining turns.

After the third U-turn there was a collective groan followed by a silent split second, which was broken when Laid-Off Dad announced, "Let's all tweet this RIGHT NOW!"

Everyone burst out laughing...that's when I had my mini-epiphany. It's a rare crowd where someone could say that and everyone gets it.

It was so nice to be got.


BlogHer Recap

It was awesome.

So, onto other news.*

As you can tell, my blog is undergoing some reconstruction. This is nothing new here, but this time it's more than rearraging the furniture. THIS TIME it is a serious overhaul with an actual graphic designer (the amazing Fruition Designs...her cards were a huge hit at BlogHer) and not li'l old me playing around.

Bear with us...what with BlogHer and whatnot I haven't been on top of things. Watch me! No, watch me! will continue to improve over the following days.

*okay, of course there will be more later.

If I can bake bread, anyone can

This is the last guest poster while I am whooping it up at BlogHer. Actually, today I am packing up all of my swag and spending some much needed quality time with my family before we jump on a train and head East towards home.

Anyway, this wonderful blogger is Astacia from Life on the Run. Okay, I'm going to shut up now and let you read.

I read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food, this past winter. His words solidified my fears about conventional food. His rule on “If You Can't Say It Don't Eat” is my grocery mantra. We gave up packaged foods about two years ago. I should correct that and say most packaged foods.

We were eating a loaf every two days. I was buying 4-6 loaves every grocery shopping trip. I tried to stick with whole grain, no HFCS varieties. Then I looked at their ingredient labels. All of them had a long list of unpronounceable substances. There was no way I could remove bread from our diet. My kids would shrivel up before the end of the day. I needed a worthy substitute.

For years, I had been telling my friends “I cook but I don't bake.” To me, baking required precision and dedication. I could handles cookies but “baking from scratch” sent shivers down my spine. My soufflĂ©s collapsed, my pie crusts were dry, my cakes didn't rise.

Everytime I bought a loaf of bread at the store I cringed. I knew I could do better. I gave in to the nagging on my weekly trip to the Goodwill. There was a Mr. Coffee bread machine with instruction manual for $7.99. the directions seemed simple. The ingredient list was small. So I took it home.

My first loaf was a hit. It used the basic recipe and my husband and kids devoured it. The smell of baking bread is addicting. Not all of my loaves were successful. I have learned that baking bread is an art form much like cooking. It does not require the attention to detail that I thought I did. It turns out that baking one loaf at a time is simple. There are four ingredients for a basic loaf (flour, water, yeast and salt) and then you can experiment from there. No tiptoeing around the kitchen. No proofing of yeast or hours of kneading.

It has taken six months of baking two or three days per week for me to hit my stride. Now I have a solid routine. First, I put the ingredients in the machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Then I set it on he dough cycle. I have discovered than I like to finish my bread in the oven. I set my timer for one hour. That's 30 minutes of mixing and then a 30 minute rise in the machine. When the timer rings, I pull out the dough, knead out the large bubbles on a floured board. I place the dough into a large loaf pan and rise it on my preheated oven for 30 minutes and toss it in the oven. 25-30 minutes later we have fresh bread.

Yummm...thanks, Astacia! Tomorrow, I'll totally dish all about BlogHer for all of you!


Another Satisfied Customer

Good Morning Watch Me Readers! Chris is getting her blog on at BlogHer - WHATEVER - so you get to watch me today. Most days you can find me over at Rainy Day Diamonds chattering about whatever catches my eye, sometimes its books, sometimes its what goes on in my classroom or with my crazy Boxer Babes, or even the funny sight I'm sharing with you today. Whatever it is, my hope is that it encourages you to Find Joy in the Dewdrops and Downpours of Life.

I love me some Micky D’s! Where else can you get 42 ounces of ice cold Diet Coke for under a dollar? There’s nothing like that fizzy sting in your nose on a hot summer day.

Ooooh, pulling into the drive through lane of my neighborhood Golden Arches I anticipated that very sting – imagining it, in fact, when I choked on the fantasy nectar and spewed its carbonated goodness all over the dashboard of my beautiful new Santa Fe.

How about we call them Betty and Pebbles?

Now it looks to me like Betty was out shopping and, like any responsible pet owner, did not want to leave Pebbles alone in a sweltering vehicle, so she did the only reasonable thing. She chose the drive through. Wouldn’t you? Of course you would.

Like any respectful customer, she placed her order and patiently waited her turn in line.

Ahh…she’s a girl after my own heart - A Super-Sized Cup of Ambrosia.

Another satisfied customer!

Ruby promised me she kept a straight face, but I'm not buying it. Not for one minute!


Rental house mis-haps

Hey all! BlogHer sucks. It isn't any fun at all. Everyone here is dullsville, and all the shoes are ugly. So, since I have nothing fun to write about, my sweet friend Darla is taking the reigns for the day. Show her some love, wontcha!

Since Christine is moving here shortly I thought this would be an appropriate article (HA!) to help her feel FAB about her new home (not that she isn't already excited, but this outta top her off...just sayin....).

The last house we rented was for two months, a little over two years ago, while our current house was being built. Most people do not let you rent a house for two months but it's a small town, a lot of people know us and it worked out that this guy was going to put his mom's house on the market in a couple months because he had terrible renters in the past. We were lucky to find it....I think???

Well, first a friend and I went in to clean and I'll spare you the worst of the details, but let me just say, people who warm up bobby pins and clean their ears out, then leave the bobby pin in the medicine cabinet should be SHOT. Need I say more?

Ok, so the first day we move in I pull open the rolling blind and it all cracks into pieces and big holes. Okey doke. Replace that.

The kitchen was ok except it had 2 feet (and that's being generous) of counterspace. The cabinets on top were so tall we couldn't reach past the first shelf (all 3 of them that is LOL). I shouldn't complain really because even though there was no dishwasher there was a garbage disposal, however, we weren't aware that it spit the food up and out the other drain onto your freshly washed and currently drying dishes. And, this is ONLY funny if you are the one who didn't just DO the dishes (I was rolling in laughter, needless to say it wasn't my turn to do dishes).

The shower was great if you are 4 feet 9 inches tall. The shower head was at that level. That wouldn't have been SO BAD if the water had actually stayed warm longer than 7 minutes and 23 seconds. First it came out scolding hot and then BOOM FREEZING. Needless to say we had to stagger our showers and include enough time for the water heater to warm up to do the dishes. Timing was everyhing in that house.

Oh and the bathroom window? Straight shot into the neighbors livingroom. Now I'm used to living in areas where there's not many houses around and certainly not within 10 feet of each other so pulling the curtains was not even a consideration for me. ~blush~ I'm still apologizing for what they may or may not have had to endure in their view while we lived there.

Then there was the fact that we couldn't get our bed up the stairs to the second level where the bedrooms were, so we had to buy an air mattress. Well, one morning we woke up and....you know where this is going....we were drowning in the bed. Somehow there was a hole. So back to Wal-mart I went for another one.

The upstairs hall was so slanted, if you had to go potty at night you just naturally started falling into the wall. It was like a magnet.

The stackable washer and dryer worked great if you don't mind spending 2 hours getting your towels dry.

But the thing that really did it for me was the basement. First of all, I did NOT GO DOWN THERE ~ EVAH. ~creepy~ I did open the door several times a day and spray a dose of Lysol down there to try and control the mold smell. And, we (of course) had a LOT of rain that year and the water started to come up through the drain (my husband found this out, I had no part in this knowledge).

Well, we'd been having a problem with the drains in the house as it was (note: garbage disposal) so the owner had brought over some special drain cleaner (yeah it was special alright). So, my husband thought, he'd just pour some of that down the drain in the basement.....uhhhh....BAD IDEA. He barely made it back up the stairs the fumes were so bad (apparently there was something else in that drain that did not mix with that "special" drain cleaner). The fumes quickly started to take over the entire house, so started ripping open windows (it's February, thankyouverymuch) and that wasn't helping, so we grabbed the cats (they loved that), threw them in the SUV and drove around for TWO HOURS only to come home to a FREEZING COLD but pretty much ventalited house.

After that it was all rosey. Bwahaahhahha. Needless to say, we moved into our new house as quick as we could - even while living on subflooring. Yeah, we were R-E-A-D-Y to go.

Thanks for letting me share!

If I may interrrupt the guest posting for just a minute...

Let's give a big interwebs Happy Birthday to my husband!

As you read this, I am entrenched in BlogHerDom. He, however, is running around San Fransisco with our youngest two kiddies. No complaints from him that his birthday is all about me and my bloggy lovefest...how awesome is he?

Super awesome. He's my best friend, my ultimate confidante, my LUVV-ER, my bestest half. He's the father of my FBNOML (who might as well be of my loins, I love her so much), the Daddy to the two kiddies I birthed myself, my partner in crime and the one person who knows me better than anyone else.

So Happy Birthday, Mr. watch me! No, watch me!

I love you. Sorry I'm stumbling into the hotel room drunk tonight. It's those dang blogging beyotches. I'll try not to wake up the kids.

You, I'll wake up.


Hello to all Christine’s readers!

I’m Katja and I’m honored to guest blog here while your lovely blogger Christine is at BlogHer.

I blog about my crazy life with three kids and a helicopter pilot husband at Skimbaco Lifestyle Blog - and I’m also a founder of a store with a same name, Skimbaco.com.

You might know me as the lucky lady who sent Suri Cruise some shoes and her father Tom Cruise showed them to Oprah on Oprah show. You might have also read that my children have all born in three different countries while our world travels. I’m from far away too. I’m from Finland, from the North corner of Europe.

While I would love to tell you that my life is all glamorous, I confess: it’s not, unless I make it so! Like Christine, I believe that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade.

My life isn’t glamorous, I’m just making lemonade!

I have experienced amazing things in life not because I’ve never had any bitter lemons, but because I have had so many. While it such a clichĂ© to say that when one door closes, other one opens, not enough many people live it that way. I do.

Be adventurous, try new things, meet different people and don’t be afraid to do something that isn’t quite the norm. You never now what you find when you take the unkown route instead the safe old one.

I enjoy the little journey called life and I truly believe almost anything in life is possible and you can achieve any dream of yours.

Not saying that it’s easy, but it is possible.

I’ve always annoyed my sister by saying that sure she could buy her dream car, Porsche, if she really wanted to. She just has to want it bad enough. She keeps telling me she doesn’t have enough money, like most people would.

I say that even you or me could buy a Porsche, if we really wanted to.

It might mean selling a house. Taking a second job. Never going to movies nor eating at restaurants. No shoe shopping, no manicures or pedicures. Saving on groceries, and saying no to vacations. Driving a bicycle to work while saving money for the dream car. Selling the collectibles, designer handbags or expensive sporting equipment from your closets. It might take months or even years of saving money. But anyone can do it, if truly passionately motivated.

I met a man of my dreams in Germany. Month later he was gone, he flew back to United States. I was a penniless student in Germany, making very little money as a nanny. I saved money to buy a flight ticket back to Finland (where I’m from) and arrived with my bank account empty and a couple of bucks in my pocket.

I was determined to get a job and save enough money so I could come to the US and see the man of my dreams again.

I got a job bottling shampoo in a shampoo factory and I was there less than 48 hours after my flight had landed. This might not be as of a shocking job if you didn’t know my previous jobs, like being a runway model or a ”face” for a huge national company with pictures of me on billboards advertising their products.

I bottled shampoo for one week, then I got a job in a small hotel on the side of a highway. I worked 12-hour-days, 7 days a week. I had my receptionist shifts, and after 8 hours of that, I cleaned rooms and bartended during the weekends.

It was horrible.

But I did it for three months, while living in my grandmother’s house. And I saved enough money for the flight ticket and to stay here for three months.

My friends and family thought I had gone crazy. I was ”wasting my life” I heard. I should have been studying management books and dating lawyers-to-be, not foreign helicopter pilots.

But one week after I had arrived in the US (for the first time), the man of my dreams proposed me (and we spent the money to buy furniture to our first home together).

We just celebrated our tenth anniversary this month. We have three beautiful children, and right now when you are reading this we are moving from Colorado to New York, towards new adventures together.

It might all be crazy, but wasting my life? I don’t think so. I’m living my life.


California cell phone ban just makes oh so much sense!

I've tried to avoid this rant, but screw it...I'm pissed.

As of July first, California passed a law and now it is illegal to drive with a cell phone to your ear. It's not illegal to use a cell phone while driving mind you; you just can't have it to your ear. There have been ads and commercials galore here for months, "Get your hands-free device to comply with the law!"

Why is this? The person who wrote the bill was worried about people driving distracted by their cell phones. Never mind that there are already laws in place against driving distracted...we needed to have one specifically addressing cell phones, it seems.

Oh, and there aren't any studies indicating that driving distracted by a cell phone is somehow more dangerous than driving distracted by, oh I dunno...kids. Or CD changing. Or fast-food eating. Or make-up application.

Now, let's walk through this, shall we?

You're driving, and your cell phone rings. Since it's unlikely you have your little ear thingy in, you need to fumble around and find it. Distracting. You need to shove it in your ear. Distracting. After that you are as engaged in the conversation as you would be if you were holding the cell to your ear, right? Still distracted!

Let's say you want to make a call. You can. You can still dial your phone. Distracting!

And guess what! You can still text while driving. Because that's not at all distracting!

I can also still use the speaker phone function of my cell, and hold it up to my mouth so that the person to whom I am speaking can hear me. Right in front of my face. In my field of vision. No, not at all distracting.

Furthermore, if I so chose, I can hold a banana to my ear while I drive. That's not illegal. I can hold a latte to my ear, or a flashlight, or a stuffed animal. Just not a cell phone.

Because that would be too distracting.

Once more, our tax dollars hard at work!


Onto a happier topic...

BlogHer is just days away now. Like, count-on-one-hand-days away.

Do you think I can lose twenty pounds by Friday? No? I didn't think so.

So, if you are going to BlogHer and we meet and take a photo together, please make sure your camera has the "Shed Twenty Pounds Off Subject Filter," on, 'kay? Thanks!

While I am gone, all laptopless and cameraless (really, someone ought to just buy me this stuff so I stop complaining), my blog will be in great hands. As everyone wants a piece of Watch Me Christine, my inbox was not literally flooded with hundreds of requests to guest post while I'm at BlogHer.

There were enough, however, to grab a hat, throw in a handful of names, and draw some straws. Or, rather, names from a hat. Mixing metaphors is never a good idea.

And thus, without further ado...here are the keepers of my castle while I am away. These are some amazing women. It's hard to guest post; you are putting yourself out there in a whole different way. I'd love it if you gave them some comment love (this is a great time to de-lurk)!

We've got:

  • Darla, from Beauty Inside and Out, is a dear friend of mine. She has been nudging me along, ever so gently for months, to get my ass in gear and get my online store up and running. And by nudging, I mean sharing every last bit of information she's gained over the years, and her advice is full of pearls because her store has had phenomenal success. She is also very active in her 11-year-old's life and holding down the home front when her Chief-of-Police husband is working his long shifts.
  • And there is Katja, who has personally made me four degrees from Oprah. And three degrees from TomKat. She will be gracing us with her words. She is a beautiful soul (and, dangit, is beautiful outside, too...she used to be a model) and never fails to inspire. You can find her at Skimbaco.
  • Astacia, a tweeting friend of mine, blogs at Life on the Run will be doing me the honor of sharing some of her insights while I'm gone.
  • Kim, also a tweeting buddy, is from Rainy Day Diamonds, has a funny tale to tell about a recent expedition she took. Hilarious!


It takes a blogosphere

I haven't talked much about going to BlogHer, mostly because I don't have much to say about it (that I haven't already said on Twitter) other than I am mighty glad to be going.

Plus, I know what it feels like to not be going and faced with post after post of what you are missing out on. I wrote this last year (sparing you the click, you're welcome):

I feel like the little sister whose big sister just came home from a date and told me she DID IT. Lost her virginity. I'm thrilled and want to hear ALL ABOUT IT, but I am also envious.

You see, I didn't go to BlogHer. A lot of my bloggy friends did...and the photos and stories are trickling in. Dammit, some of them make me SAD because I am so bitterly jealous. I'm not too proud to admit it, even if I should be. I totally missed out on what was not only a fun time, but a great learning opportunity.

So I get it. I know how you feel. In fact, I think part of the reason I haven't talked much about going is that I'm still pinching myself, unsure that it's actually true.

Anyway, as you may recall, my laptop died. Beyond repair. So I'm a blogger without a laptop. You may also recall my camera has also gone to the great darkroom in the sky (or to be more current, perhaps I should say the great Photoshop CS2 in the sky). That means instead of bringing a laptop and camera to BlogHer, I'll have a notebook and sketchpad. Maybe I'll have some renderings of the Break-outs for you when I get back, like drawings from sealed courtrooms.

It occurred to me earlier today that if I don't have a laptop, I won't be posting (why it took me so long to put that together I'm not quite sure). I don't want my poor bloggy to be ignored for four days, so that brings me to the crux of the post.

If you aren't going to BlogHer this year, wanna guest post?

I'd love for some of you to take over the reigns for me while I'm away, which is Thursday-Sunday (that's July 17-20th). If you're interested, leave a comment or email (no dot watch dot me at gmail dot com) or DM me via Twitter or just send really strong telepathic signals.

But wait! There's more!

No, there isn't. I've just always wanted to say that.


Like Beck, only younger

Tonight was my son's viola recital.

He's a musician from waaaaaaay back in the day. Like, when he was three, nearly seven years ago (!!!), we bought him a miniature scale drum set. It's an exact replica of a "real" set, just sized down.

My boy's always had an amazing sense of rhythm and timing, even at that tender age. But I tell you what, it's something else to see a kid shy of his fourth birthday literally jamming with his dad (on guitar)...he would rock out, one hand doing one thing, the other another, one foot on kick drum, the other on high-hats. Each appendage doing it's own thing, and very well (come on, I rarely do the mama bragging thing here, so cut me some slack).

A couple of years later at his first Kindergarten parent-teacher meeting, it was suggested to us that we might consider enrolling him in piano lessons...his love for music combined with how much he liked learning about math and patterns made him a great candidate, we were told.

Five and a half years later, he still loves it.

Last fall he started fourth grade and was interested in starting the optional strings program; he could chose violin, viola, or cello. Viola it was!

Honestly, he's not as taken with this instrument as he is most others. He will pick up my husband's guitars and play with them for hours (and my husband is left-handed, my son isn't...he doesn't seem to care), plucking away and discovering how to play tunes that he either knows from another instrument, or has heard my hubby play. The viola, he practices once a week instead of the "suggested" *ahem* nightly. On his report card it said he did, "very well considering her rarely practiced." (Whatever. I'm not going to make music a chore for him).

On the Fourth of July, my husband's band had a gig. I brought the kids to hear him play & sing. As it turned out, they weren't the only band playing that evening; there was a surprise guest band as well; it was a trio of ten year-olds (one of them the son of the party host): two guitar players, and a drummer. They blew the crowd away...they even had a couple of original tunes.

They are looking for a bassist.

Guess what instrument my son has been begging for recently? Yup, a bass guitar. Drag is, I had one for years but wasn't really interested in learning it...I wanted to skip right to the part where I was the bassist for a chick band (because, seriously, who is cooler in a band than the bassist? No-one!). I ended up selling it when we moved here because I was sick of feeling guilty that I wasn't using it. My husband wasn't really using it either, so off it went.

Thus, I guess a bass guitar purchase is in our future.


I knew I kicked ass, I just KNEW it!

Have you heard about Alltop?

I started noticing their badges a while ago, like at Loralee's and Sarcastic Mom's and White Trash Mom's and The Bloggess'...they started creeping up on the sidebars of my favoritest blogs.

If you haven't checked them out, you should. Their pages are, as they say, like "digital magazine racks" and has feeds from recents posts/stories/whatever. It's a great place to find all the top stories/blogs/you get it.

Why am I telling you this? Well, if you go to Alltop, and scroll waaaaaaaaay down to the very bottom, guess what's there? That's right. This blog (don't know how I tricked them into thinking I'm worthy, but I'm not complaining).

And, also, they are giving away iPod Touches! Go here and vote and maybe you'll win. I'm planning on it. Winning, that is.



When we lived in our last home, every Fourth of July we'd go to a neighborhood adjacent to ours. They have an Independence day tradition that has been going on for thirty-some years, and since we have good friends who live there we were invited to join.

The festivities start at the end of one street which is shaped like an elongated C-shape. Folding tables are pulled out, and at nine in the morning people start arriving, heaping breakfast dishes onto them. There is always a ton of delicious food to choose from, along with coffee and juices.

Sometimes this is the only time these neighbors see each other; so some ways it feels like a yearly family reunion. Of course, best friends who see each other daily are there, too. Regardless, there is always a lot of hugging and exclaiming about how big the children have become, exchanging of life stories, both big and little. Newcomers to the neighborhood invariably express surprise at how welcoming and connected this community is. Throwback to the fifties is often expressed as a way to describe it.

After an hour and a half of mingling, the magic continues. Whhhhiiiiiirrrrr! Whoop! Whoop!

Around the corner comes a shiny red pumper engine.

"The firetruck is here! The firetruck is here!" children and adults alike exclaim.

The firefighters hop off the truck, the kids climb on. It's often the very same firefighters (they love this gig), and so people catch up with them as well, compare notes on how this year's weather compared to last year, marvel at this year's feast.

The crowd starts to gather behind the truck. Kids hop on their decorated bikes, strollers, skateboards, whatever, and The Parade has begun!

The firetruck rolls slowly down the street, a few dozen people behind it. The street is tree-lined, with a thick canopy of branches that did a great job of shielding us from the morning sunshine. Those with older kids are often sitting on their front lawns to wave and be waved at by the passing procession.

At the far end of the street, the engine hooks up to a hydrant and the kids take turns manning the hose and squirting water high into the air; ultimately, it rains down upon their friends who are dancing and laughing and generally enjoying getting doused from a fire hose.

When it's time for the firefighters to move on (laden with tons of foodstuffs as a gesture of thanks), the party continues all afternoon. There are games hosted in front yards, open BBQ's and swim parties.

Even though we aren't living within walking distance to this, we drove over this morning. We wouldn't miss it even if we had to drive an hour, or two. It's that special.

And you know what the best part of the day was?

When people hugged and greeted us this morning, they said this:

I am so excited that you're moving to our street next month!