Thursday, July 30, 2009

As much as I hate feet, you'd think I wouldn't stick them in my mouth so often

Updated to add: Teacher Tom, or anyone else who might have read this and gotten the wrong impression .... I did not at all think this young woman was "trashy" looking ... in fact, I wrote that very thing below. She was adorable .... just so much older looking than twelve that I was taken aback. And promptly stuck my foot in my mouth about it, which is about par for the course for me. :)


Tonight, I attended the second in a six-week series of classes I am taking at the local vo-tech to learn portrait photography. Tonight's session was about learning to use studio lights and the proper camera settings for traditional studio photography, as well as letting us "practice" posing a model. That's something I have struggled with every time I've ever taken photos for someone else .... we show up, I've got my camera, and they say something along the lines of, "So, tell me what you want me to do or where you want me to stand or sit and what should I do with my hands" and I look at them like they've grown a second head, or like they're speaking a foreign language because truly, I have no clue where to even begin.

Tonight, the instructor brought his daughter along to be our model. The first half of the class she helped him with the computer, viewing images we had all brought in to be critiqued ... then he had a photo session with her, to show us how he would do it as a professional if she came into his studio for portraits. Then we all got to practice with her.

When he was preparing to start his session, he told us how he likes to visit with his clients, especially if this is their first time in his studio, and develop at least a little bit of rapport to help them feel at ease. So while he was putting up the backdrop, and meter-testing each light, and syncing the strobes, he was sort of half-handedly asking her questions as if he didn't know her .... again, just to give us an example.

He started with the standard, "What's your name?" and then "How old are you?"

Now, she had been in the room over an hour already, and although she hadn't spoken much, I could clearly see she was in high school. Not very tall, but with a fairly-developed figure, nicely styled hair, and a full face of makeup. I wouldn't have *guessed* college, but definitely at least driving age. So when she replied, "Twelve", well, I about fell over.

"You're kidding," someone else in the room asked. "You're twelve?"

(Clearly, I wasn't the only one taken by surprise.)

"Yes," she said.

And I said, "Really? Twelve? Are you kidding?"

"No," she repeated, "I'm really twelve."

And then the thought that went through my brain was, "Holy cow, my daughter is twelve, but she doesn't look NEAR as ...." except unfortunately I realized, because everyone had turned to look at me, including the girl, that I wasn't actually thinking those thoughts in my brain, but that they were in fact coming out of my mouth. OUT LOUD. IN FRONT OF EVERYONE.

So I immediately started scrambling for an adjective I could use that wouldn't sound judgmental or mean-spirited. I mean, she was a cute girl, but what I was really thinking was, "My daughter doesn't look near as ......" What? Slutty? Trampy? Old? Developed? Mature? Because she didn't look slutty OR trampy ... she just looked so much more .... so much more ....

"Pretty!" I finally exclaimed. "My daughter is not near as pretty as you are."

And the lady sitting next to me turned and said, "That's not a very nice thing to say about your own kid!"

So I started back-pedaling, and trying to fix it, only it was clear I was just digging myself in deeper.

"No, I mean, she's pretty, too, it's just that she doesn't look so .... um ..... so .... grown up, is all" I finished weakly. Really, there is no good adjective to describe what I was thinking.

And her father, my INSTRUCTOR, heard the whole thing.

POSSIBLY she was so fixed up because she knew she would be having her picture taken twelve hundred times tonight.

POSSIBLY my daughter is a little behind the times, considering she is also twelve and wears no make up at all.

POSSIBLY I will soon be receiving a big fat "F" in Portrait Photography this year.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'll just sit over here in the corner while my uterus weeps

Although he had been talking about doing it for a few weeks, and definitely wanted it done before school started, I still wasn't quite ready. After the first football practice Monday night, his only reply to my "Did you have fun?" inquiry was a desperate, "I couldn't see the ball to catch the passes! I've got to get it cut!"

And so we did.

I don't really care, though. I mean, it's just hair, right?

So what if he's been growing it out for an entire year? So what if he hasn't had a short, typical-little-boys cut since he was two years old? Hey, I know girls who wear their hair like this on their wedding day!

So what that our friend Jennifer had, at this point, been cutting for ten minutes already and had only gotten him to the "bob" stage .... it's just hair, right?

"Hey, Kellen, the 1990's called. Joey from "Friends" wants his hair back."


Where the HELL did my little boy go??!!??!??

I mean, sure, there's enough hair there to make a concert wig for Hannah Montana, but I had NO IDEA it would change his appearance so much!!! Make him look so ..... so ..... so ..... grown up! ::sob::

Don't get me wrong. I love it. LOVE it. And he loves it, and everyone who has seen it loves it. It's just that .... well .... when we walked in the salon, he was my shaggy-headed elementary boy. Now, he's ..... he's .... he's (gulp!) big and grown up and going into middle school like a YOUNG MAN!!!

Excuse me while I find the phone number for that doctor who does vasectomy reversals.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whatever happened to ....

... the weekly self-portrait challenge that used to take place each Tuesday at Lelly's Musings? Well, I'm not sure either, but I know I sure miss it!

Lelly took a recent break from blogging, which I can certainly understand, because Lord knows I go through phases myself where I can't think of a darn thing to write and nothing amusing or exciting or interesting has happened and I wind up blogging about something stupid like dog poop. For me, though, normally I write something along the lines of, "Woe is me, nothing amusing or exciting or interesting has happened, whatever shall I blog about if not dog poop?" and then the next day someone in my family gets cancer. (PS. Thanks to those of you who have asked ... my mom is recovering nicely from her cancer treatment and the broken foot is healing well; my sister is 2/5th through her radiation, with clean margins on her lumpectomy, thank goodness; Blaine had all his oral implants removed yesterday as part of his ongoing prosthodontic work; and Kendrie, as I type this, is on the sofa with a friend, kicking Mario Cart's ass on her DS, as best I can tell from the giggles and shrieks coming from the living room.)

But I digress!

I was so happy to stumble upon the 2009 SPT Challenge and jumped in feet first back in January. Most weeks I didn't have a clue if I was doing it "right", but the important thing is that I was doing it, and I appreciated Lelly coordinating it for us. I even went out and bought all the supplies I needed to scrapbook the year and create an entire album around this ongoing process. Title ideas for the scrapbook: "A Glimpse of Me and Mine in 2009" ... no, that's stupid. "All about Me, with SPT!" ... no, even stupider. Well, I'll come up with something. I've still got five months to think about it, right?

Then, while I was on vacation, Lelly announced she was taking a break from blogging. By the time I got home, dug my way out from under the dirty-laundry mountain, realized what day it was, and looked at a real, live, calendar, well, an entire month had gone by and I hadn't posted a single self-portrait, nor had she updated the challenge portion of her site.

And my album and scrapbook supplies sat in the corner, mocking me.

So! This SPT Challenge is apparently something Lelly has done for at least the past two years, if not longer. Since I didn't take part last year, I decided to simply go back and do *those* challenges for myself for the second half of this year. If she decides to re-start the challenge this year, great! And if she doesn't, again, I certainly understand. As long as she doesn't challenge me to self-portrait about dog poop, I think I can still make it work.

Since I missed the entire month of July, here are those challenges, which dealt with SUMMER last year, in all its shades and nuances. It should come as no surprise that they are primarily vacation photos, since we were on vacation half of the month. Speaking of vacation .... (sigh) .... when do I get to go back???

July 7th SPT Challenge: Incorporate Sun

Brayden and I on the sunny deck of the cruise ship. Ironically, it started raining about two and a half minutes after we took this picture.

July 14th SPT Challenge: Incorporate Water

Well, I'm not sure I can get a much bigger body of water than the ocean. This is us on one of the formal nights on the ship, with the large porthole window behind our dining room table.

July 21st SPT Challenge: Incorporate Shade

Shade? Shade???? We were in the Caribbean, for pete's sake, the land of abundant sunshine. And since Blaine didn't offer to let me share his hammock that day under the trees in Haiti, this photo will have to do. Me, in my SHADES, on deck. What you don't see in the photo is that just a few seconds before this, the ship's horn blew, signaling departure. Have you ever HEARD one of those horns? They are deafening, and always guaranteed to startle people. Kendrie jumped so high she almost fell down, and I laughed so hard I almost wet my pants. Because I am an AWESOME mom.

July 28th Challenge: Incorporate Ice Cream

OK, I know, I know. I'm supposed to be watching my weight. So what am I doing eating ice cream? Well, um, it was a challenge. A direct challenge from Lelly. And I am nothing if not a rule follower. So, if we're being honest, I was simply following direction. Taking one for the team. Making a sacrifice. I mean ... it's clear .... it only makes sense ..... well, you know ..... oh, forget it. Chocolate almond, my favorite!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The beginning, middle and end. And by end, I mean END.

The beginning of summer, we spent our time sitting and watching this:

The middle of summer, we spent our time sitting and watching this:

And now, can you guess how we're going to spend our time the END of this summer?

(this was that jumping-and-rolling-over-your-teammate exercise, which as far as I'm concerned, they all looked a little like Tuck and Roll from the Bug's Life movie, if you ask me. Kellen is in the red shirt, and I can't decide if he's getting the hang of diving over his friend, or if he's having a seizure.)

I'm not complaining, I'm really not. Kellen is fit and healthy and happy and loves it. And to be completely truthful, I was born and raised in Oklahoma, where football reigns, and there is no better Friday night past-time. It's the sport I love most ... its the one sport where I actually understand all the rules. Quite frankly, I'm GLAD he's finally playing on a team, even if it means we do have to take a break from his beloved soccer. Football feels right ..... it feels like home.

Of course, I'm also fairly certain after all these months of sitting and watching my son play sports, although HE will be in great shape, I will probably acquire a wretched case of permanent chair-butt, and my END will have to be explained on my headstone some day .... as in, "Here lies Big-Butt Kristie Escoe, who needed two spaces in the graveyard just to fit her rear end ..... but by golly, she never missed a game."

Although ... wait. What's that? Do you see?

Do you see the one thing that might get me through the rest of this summer and fall ???? Ahhhhhhhhh, that's why I love my hometown. At least it will be easy to get my DDP fix while he's at practice.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

NOT all in the family

Thankfully, Kellen does not share my loathing, burning, hatred slight aversion to physical exercise. He enjoys playing sports, and doesn't mind sweating and running and jumping and all those other things that 11-yr old boys love to do.

He's been attending a wellness and conditioning program this summer sponsored by his school's phys. ed. department, and for the most part, loves it. They "warm up" by running a mile, in the heat. Seriously? That's a warm up?? For me, that would be "prelude to a heart attack" and I'd be done for the day, if not for the week. The kids, however, follow this with more running, and weight training, and calesthenics, calisthinics, push ups and sits up and other crap activities.

Kellen is tall, and he's fast, but he's not very strong. I mean, when you have so few muscles, and absolutely no fat, that your shadow puts off the image of a pencil at high noon, can you really expect to lift much weight?

But still, it bothered him that so many boys his age were stronger than him, so he came home and declared he wanted to start lifting weights. Before Blaine got sick, he worked out with weights almost every day, and loved it, so he was happy to help.

We provided Kellen with the ultimate in high-tech work out equipment. Nothing is too good for our son. Total pro work out clothing, and top of the line training gear. After all, we are NOTHING if not high class.

Try not to be too jealous.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Excuses, excuses

I know I joke and kid around a lot about my weight .... in a sort of, "the best defense is a good offense" kind of way. I'm partly kidding, because I'm healthy and happy and love me a good spoonful of chocolate chip cookie dough, and really, who on this planet besides ME gives a hoot how I look? .... and partly, I've always acknowledged, somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain, that possibly, maybe, there is a small, teeny tiny, minute chance I could stand to lose a few pounds, IF I'm being totally honest with myself. The fact that NONE of the clothes in my closet fit me anymore is another tiny clue.

Then, I saw the pictures Blaine took of me on the cruise, in a swimsuit. Photographers everywhere know that the problem with actually BEING the photographer is that you are rarely in the pictures. In my case, specifically, since I am the one who takes the kids to the pool and the lake, I am NEVER in pictures in a swimsuit. Until vacation, when Blaine so gallantly offered to take some photos so I could have photographic proof that I truly did go on vacation with my family.

After seeing those pictures, I think I shall have to burn the evidence. It would be less painful for me to trick my kids into believing I wasn't there, and have them endure years of therapy to reconcile their absentee mother, than to have to print those pictures out and ever look at them again. EVER.

All kidding aside, they were horrifying. According to the bathroom scale, I am at least forty pounds overweight, which in my mental image of myself, translated to "slightly chubby". In photos, well, it translated to something much, MUCH uglier than that. And really, it was the painful prompt I needed to do something about my weight.

So the week we returned from vacation, I started a serious, SERIOUS, no-procrastinating, no excuses, make like Nike and just DO IT NOW, diet and exercise program.

Which lasted for approximately twelve hours.

Because I had so much laundry to do, and I was really, really tired from the drive from Baltimore, and hadn't had a chance to go to the grocery store. So I had to resort to eating whatever was left in the pantry. And the older two kids were at church camp, and then I *still* hadn't gone to the store, so we were eating out quite a bit.

Then you look up and a week's gone by and you've actually (meaning *I've* actually) gained three more pounds. Damn you, brand-new Panera Bread, only ten minutes from my house ::shakes fist at sky::

I vowed THIS week would be it .... THIS is the week I would start. First day of the rest of my life, and all that crap.

Then, in the previous five days, this is the list of excuses I've used not to exercise:

1. Traveling with Blaine.

2. After returning home, tired from traveling with Blaine.

3. It's too early.

4. It's too late.

5. It's too hot.

6. I don't have time to take another shower later today.

7. Sun is too bright and makes my eyes squinty which causes wrinkles. I might be fat, but I don't want to look fat AND old.

8. After exercising one day, I deserve a day off.

9. Legs still hurt from actually exercising one day.

10. Forgot my ipod. Heaven forbid I walk and have to listen to myself THINK for an hour.

11. I have a rash on my ankle.

12. My shoes are squinchy.

13. In a nutshell, I hate it.

So then this morning, driving Kellen to the wellness and strength training/conditioning camp that his school puts on all summer, I saw a man out walking his dog.

Using crutches.

Because he only had ONE LEG.

God, I suck.

Survey Says ...

Kellen and I were driving down the road today and I saw a survey crew working. You know, those guys that stand on the side of the road in their orange vests with big fancy tri-pod-y cameras, doing whatever survey-y things they do to measure property lines and commercial easements and what have you. My brother-in-law, currently a partner in a surveying firm, started out doing that exact job, years ago, while he was finishing his degree.

As a back story, when we lived in both Alabama and Georgia, it is a common practice for probationers, and sometimes prisoners, to do roadside clean up. Picking up trash near the highway, mowing, weeding, etc. They regularly did the clean-up and maintenance for the entrance to our housing addition, and it was a familiar sight for us to drive home past men in striped jumpsuits, wielding weed eaters and leaf blowers, bus parked nearby with a "Prisoners Working" sign attached, and a gun-wearing warden keeping watch. Although really, if these guys were any kind of high flight-risk, I doubt they would have been allowed out to do the job, right? I always assumed it was the white collar criminals who were allowed out on lawn duty ... the tax evaders, embezzlers, and telemarketing scammers. Surely they wouldn't let rapists and murderers and drug dealers work in my neighborhood, close to me and my children ..... would they????

Anyway, back to my story .....

So I guess it makes sense that when I passed the survey crew, and said to Kellen, "Look, that's what Uncle Cliff used to do" he would naturally reply, with shock and horror in his voice, "Uncle Cliff was IN PRISON?!?!?!"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The experiment (insert evil laugh)

Thanks for the well wishes for our trip ..... Blaine's procedure went .... well ..... it sort of .... they sort of ..... the doctor ..... you know ..... well ..... it didn't happen. Long, boring story, but bottom line is it's Blaine, the person for whom nothing ever goes as planned, and really, what did you expect? So no "experimental" procedure for us, at least not this time.

The flip side is that he and I got to drive in a car together (NOKIDSNOKIDSNOKIDS) ten hours on Monday and nine hours on Tuesday and eat tons of junk food and talk and laugh and reminisce and talk some more and then eat at Cracker Barrel and order pizza and watch
"13 Going on 30" at the hotel together and did I mention talking and talking and talking and eating junk food and then talking some more and all because there were no kids?

Pretty much the best 36 hour date ever.

Except for the fact my butt had barely recovered from the Baltimore drive and now I fear the indentations from the driver's seat might be permanent.

Other than that, it was nice to be with him.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Layers of Crap

But thankfully, not bad crap. Just normal-life-crap, which is annoying and frustrating but not freak-out-worthy.

As you read this, Blaine and I are on our way to San Antonio, Texas, for him to have an experimental (experimental to *him*, but not experimental in nature) outpatient procedure, which his pain management doctor hopes will provide him some pain relief. It might, or might not, work, and if it does, there is no way to know in advance how long the relief will last ... hours, days, months. Personally, I'm rooting for "Years to Infinity" but I know Blaine would be happy with just about anything he could get.

Although, he's a little nervous because the first person he talked to said he would be put under IV sedation for the procedure (hence the reason I am going as the required "chaperone") and the second person he talked to said nope, just a local. Neither Blaine nor I believe there is any glory in suffering (which is why if you look up "epidural" in the dictionary, there is my big fat smiling face) so let's cross our fingers the first person was correct.

The bummer part of this procedure is that it is taking place away from home, which means I can't be with my sister for her lumpectomy on Monday. She has a great husband and mother in law and friends who will be there for her, so that's all good. I just hate that I won't be there. You know, what with my extensive oncology background and Honorary Doctorate from the University of This Sucks.

And Grandma Betty won't be with her because she is babysitting all seven grandkids.

With her broken foot.

Yep, good times here.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Winner of RAGE!

Wait, that doesn't sound right.

And then, because Blogger doesn't actually *number* the comments in the sidebar, I went through and counted .... three times .... because I am OCD wanted to be double-triple sure I got the correct commenter.

Congrats DeborahB!

Deb writes:

"Hmmm...what am I raging about this summer? Daughters with attitudes, bills and money (or lack thereof), probable layoffs at work, moving and leaving all my friends/work/church/family behind. Yeah, that's enough. I was planning on buying this book anyway, so it's ok if I don't win. I love Danny! His blog is one of the funniest out there, next to yours of course!"

Deb is actually a friend of mine (pinkie promise, the random generator was totally random!!) and fellow-surrogate. (Hmmmm. Hope she doesn't mind me putting that out there for the world to know....) She's also the lucky winner of the Dad Gone Mad author Danny Evan's debut memoir, "Rage Against the Meshuganuh".

Ironically, Deb works as some kind of editor/proofreader/copywriter person (I said we were friends, ok? Not identical twins and I know every single microscopic detail about her life!) so probably she would have been a smarter person to give the initial book review than me. But I'm certain she won't enjoy it any more than I did because That's. Just. Not. Possible.

Congrats, Deb!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Raging

Anyone who has followed this site for any length of time knows that I love to read. And anyone who knows me personally knows that even more than reading, I love to learn about other people's lives and experiences. Some might call that "being a interfering, nosy, busybody" .... I prefer to call it "being a people person" --- whatever. Just hush up about it.

So, when I got an invitation to review **this book**

written by Danny Evans of Dad Gone Mad,

I was all, "Score!! Both my favorite pastimes at once!! Reading, and being a meddlesome snoop!!" And, I might have felt just a wee bit smug and superior and sanctimonious that I was receiving an advance copy of the book before it was available to the rest of you peasants the world. You know, because I'm gracious and humble like that.

Regardless, the book showed up a few weeks ago, and I devoured it in one sitting. As in, I pretty much sat up one night after my kids went to bed so I could read it uninterrupted, from start to finish. And I laughed .... oh! How I laughed! Despite tackling a difficult subject matter, Danny managed to poke fun at himself the entire time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I knew my review would wait a few weeks, so I put the book up on my bookshelf, and continued to giggle whenever I thought of certain passages. Like "Coach Danny's T-Ball Rules" in chapter 34 --- seriously, funny stuff.

Then, as the time came closer for me to write my review, I read it again, more slowly, and paid closer attention. Really tried to absorb the experience Danny has so bravely shared of his struggle with "male" depression ... a topic not often discussed as candidly as it is here. I think I might have enjoyed it even more the second time around, because I was really, truly, "listening" .... if that even makes sense.

Regardless! It is a great book, and I highly recommend it to everyone.**

In an effort to help Danny promote it, I sent him a list of stupid questions that I wanted him to answer .... like pouring his blood, sweat and tears into the book wasn't enough, I wanted him to write more for ME personally. If nothing else, it will give you a great perspective on the attitude and personality that he shares with us in the book. One which I, personally, am happy I got to know. After the interview, continue reading for a fab give-away .....


1. You talk about your parent's desire to make you the ultimate Hebrew student and possibly even a rabbi .... I know very little about rabbis except that some of them have those long strands of hair above their ears and they seem to be very wise. One thing I *do* know for sure, however, is that all rabbis have super powers, like Batman and Superman. So had you ever become a rabbi, what would your superpower have been, and why?

I'm fairly certain I would have been able to summon the voice of God through my farts. I would also be able to turn invisible. My greatest trick would be combining these two gifts---farting and disappearing simultaneously, which would cause everyone in the congregation to assume that the blue-haired woman in the front row was the one of ass-blasted. Amen.

2. I also know very little about Jewish customs or food, and the concept of "keeping kosher" confuses me .... like this one time, some friends and I were in a deli, and apparently it was Jewish, because I asked for a ham and cheese sandwich and you would have thought I just spit on the floor or something, the way that women behind the counter looked at me, but then what was even more confusing to me was the waitress came up to our table while my friend was giving her baby a bottle and asked my friend if there was milk in the bottle and my friend (truthfully) said no, it was formula, and apparently that was allowed but I've always wondered what would have happened if it had been milk? Would they have made her put the bottle up? Made the baby go hungry? What if it had been breast-milk in the bottle? Does that count? Anyway, very confusing. So my question to you is, if you were inviting a goy like me to dinner and wanted to serve the best kosher meal ever, what would it be? Because clearly I can't have a ham and cheese sandwich and a glass of milk.

Breast milk.
Gefilte fish.
Matzo ball soup.
Corned beef sandwiches.
Breast milk sorbet.

3. What was the coolest, most innovative product you ever advertised at Outside the Box?

We had a start-up, dot-com client whose site was designed to blend golf with the caution-to-the-wind, money's-no-object attitude of the late 80s and early 90s. I don't remember specifically what the site actually sold, but I have a clear recollection that the senior management of this "company" were total marketing cowboys. They wanted to put their logo and URL on EVERYTHING. I remember very specifically a meeting during which we all discussed the merits of putting that logo on what those in the sanitation industry call "urinal burgers." For the uninitiated, those are the little, round, pink antiseptic discs placed in the middle of a urinal. We ultimately decided against the idea, given that the notion of having the company peed-on seemed a little...unbecoming.

4. As evidence by the list on page 120 of your book, you had a pretty dismal athletic career right from the get-go. But imagine if things had been different ... imagine if those Little League dreams of yours had come true, and had played out into high school ball, college ball, and beyond. Let me hear the abbreviated version of your Hall of Fame acceptance speech.

"Today (ay-ay-ay)...I feel (eel-eel-eel) the luckiest motherfucker (ucker-ucker-ucker)...on earth (rth-rth-rth). I would like to thank my friend Kristie (istie-istie-istie)...without whose demented brain and sick sense of irony I would just be sitting at home playing with my balls (alls-alls-alls). I would also like to thank my balls (alls-alls-alls)...for letting me play with them all the time (ime-ime-ime)."

And so forth.

5. Speaking of sports, you mention in the book that many Jewish athletes play baseball, but very few play basketball. Why do you think that is? Surely you're not the only tall Jewish man on the planet?

We're a pretty hairy lot of blokes in general and that has a really bad effect on our aerodynamics and athleticism. Only the shaved survive.

6. You talk openly about your habit of using humor as a shield and reflector for unpleasant experiences in your life. Imagine you had taken comedy a step farther and turned it into a career. What would your stage comedian name have been, and what professional comedian would you want to work with?

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage...Mister! Sheky! Goldfarb!

I would have wanted to work with Dad Gone Mad. He fucking rules

7. On page 180 of your book you claim at the end of 9th grade you were voted "Most Likely To Die Without Ever Having Kissed a Girl That Wasn't His Mom." If you were to go back to your next high school reunion, what do you think you would be voted now?

Most Likely To Offer A Perfect Stranger Hand Relief In Exchange For That Stranger Purchasing A Copy Of His Book, RAGE AGAINST THE MESHUGENAH, Which Will Be Released On August 4 And Is Available For Pre-Order On And Other Online Book Retailers.

8. On to the meat of the book, your struggle with depression. In the time since you were first diagnosed, until the release of your book, how do you believe the public opinion and acceptance of this issue has changed? What needs to happen in the future?

Sadly, I don't think a lot has changed. We've certainly seen an increase in the number of antidepressant medications advertised on television and in magazines, but I don't believe that does much to increase awareness of the disease itself. Mental health issues in general, and depression in particular, remain a dirty little secret for millions of Americans. I think an open, honest, direct discussion about depression needs to find its way into parts of the population -- in particular, men -- that haven't yet found the guts or the inclination to talk about it. That's part of what I hope to accomplish with RAGE. Whether we talk about it or not, it's there. And until we shine a light on it, it will remain under the dark cloud of stigma and ignorance.

9. You talk about the men in your life (friends, neighbors, co-workers) who you discovered had also struggled with depression. Have you had any experiences with total strangers coming up to you and relating their own occurrence with depression?

Not face-to-face, but certainly online. Interestingly, I've had quite a few women write to me with admissions that their husbands are depressed and they're at a loss in terms of how to help them. This same scenario played out in my own home, which I detail in the book. To those women, I say that the best thing they can do is to help their husbands get the help of a therapist and/or a psychiatrist as soon as possible. Depression is disorienting, and people don't always understand what's happening to themselves. As the spouse, you can play an active role in moving him (or her) in the direction of recovery.

10. What's your opinion of celebrities using their "celebrity-ness" either FOR the awareness of depression (Brooke Shields comes to mind) or AGAINST (I'm pretty sure we both know what couch-jumping freak I'm referring to ....)

I'm all for anyone who raises the public awareness of depression, and I'm certainly all for any dipshit movie star who tries to make a case AGAINST medical treatment by demonstrating his own dire need for anti-psychotic medication. I would really like to see a male celebrity who has suffered from depression -- and there are MANY -- come out and say, "I was depressed. I got help. So should you." Men need to see a normal guy come out of the shadows, even if some deem that to be uncool or career suicide.

11. Final question: A statement on page 228 of the book, discussing the birth of your daughter, really resonated with me: "Grace under pressure is not close to the top of Danny's Personal Strengths." I realize in context that statement was meant to be funny, but it got me to wondering. You've not only survived unemployment, serious depression, and addiction, but you've managed, with this amazing book, to share that journey in a way that is honest, touching, introspective, educational, and downright hysterical. Having arrived where you are today, what strengths would you say ARE near the top of the list?

I would say that I've become quite adept at pimping my book.


See? See why you should buy this book? Trust me, this is only a hint of the humor and honesty that is between the covers of RAGE.

I was so excited when I first heard about the book that I rushed over to and pre-ordered my own copy. Then Danny asked me to review the book and sent me an advance copy. (You see where this is going, right?) When the release date arrives (August 4th) I will receive my copy from Amazon, and while I freely confess to being a greedy little shrew, I don't neeeeeeeeeeed two copies of the book. So I'd like to offer my paid, Amazon copy to one (randomly drawn, of course) reader/winner who leaves a comment in the comment section here.

Simply leave a comment about your own RAGE, and what it is you're Raging against this summer. For me, it's the humidity that turns my hair into a dandelion, that some moron in Hollywood changed the movie ending to My Sister's Keeper, and the sad fact that it will be a while before I can read Danny's second book, whatever it is, and whenever he decides to write it. I realize my own "rages" are frivolous and lame when compared to the topic of serious depression, but it was the best idea I had this morning (and please no rude comments about how sadly, it might be the best idea I have all day, week, month, etc.)

Let me know what you're Raging against by leaving a comment -- entries closed by 9pm CST Saturday night. I'll draw a winner and announce it here on Sunday ... then once the second copy of my book comes in, I will send the copy to the winner.

In the meantime, head over to to pre-order your copy of "Rage" ... or look for it in bookstores after August 4th. If that link doesn't work, just go to Amazon and do a search for "Rage Against the Meshugenah" .... it pops up, I promise. Assuming you spell meshugenah correctly, which I did not the first two times I tried. Or just go to Danny's site and follow the prompts from there. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.

**OK, here's my teeny-tiny disclaimer. At times, the language in this book can be a little strong. Personally, I find it fucking hilarious and am not at all offended. Assuming you're one of the many who already follows Dad Gone Mad, you probably already know this. But I recommended a different book to someone earlier this year and she felt the language was bad and I was all, "Language? What language? Was there bad language in the book?" so perhaps I am just a little obscenity-obtuse and not the person who should be serving as Potty-Mouth Patrol Officer. So with that in mind ... just a little heads up here.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Parting Shots

Updated to add: Bob, I have to come to the room steward's defense and assure you she never went through our drawers ... I left that shirt out on the bed. And, us chubby girls wear long-sleeve shirts tied around our waists, even in the Caribbean, because we like to think it helps hide our tummies. Just don't ask me to turn around and see what it does to my behind. :)


Final photos from the cruise, then I'll hush up about it.

Although I would hardly call myself any kind of world traveler, I had still never seen this on a cruise ship before. Once I got over the creep factor, it made me laugh.

Still does.

The work of our room steward on the final night of the cruise:

Monday, July 13, 2009

Final Vacation Thoughts

We drove 23 straight hours from Baltimore to OKC to arrive home yesterday morning, so I could unpack, do eight loads of laundry (which sadly, wasn't all of it) and re-pack for church camp this morning.

My tailbone will never be the same.

And now, my house is missing two-thirds of its little people, and is way too quiet.

In the meantime, I think I shall finish the laundry. And nap. And wonder just where my personal waiter and cook and room steward have gone. Because although I certainly appreciate Blaine bringing home pizza last night, he most certainly did NOT put my napkin in my lap and quite frankly, I'm a little bitter.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Vacation Day Ten - Labadee, Haiti

Royal Caribbean advertises Labadee as their "private" island ... which is really a beach ... which I have no idea if its private or not. I just know that one day the ship pulled up, dropped anchor, and tendered a bunch of us off for a day of sunning, playing, eating, and dodging the unbelievably pushy and aggressive vendors in the local marketplace.

There is a water park you can play in, and a ginormous slide you can go down, which was sort of funny because its advertised as an "Aqua" Slide and according to the reservation information you must be able to swim to buy tickets which makes sense because according to the photo on the website the slide shoots you off into the ocean which would be AWESOME except it totally doesn't happen. It sits on sand and unless there's a possibility you will be knocked unconscious on the way down and then drown in the inch and a half of water at the bottom, I really don't see drowning as a possibility. Regardless, it was a blast and I went down it four times, so you know it had to be fun if I was willing to climb the damn stairs to top four separate times ....... really, would an elevator for those of us over the age of forty be too much to ask????

An overall view of the water park, which is really not too great a view because I haven't splurged for a wide-angle lens .....

They had teeter totters:

Humongous trampolines, close to ten feet high:

Slides, that really DID dump you into the ocean, which was awesome until you remembered you had your brand-new sunglasses on your face because you are a dumbass (oh wait, that would be ME):

A balance beam type obstacle, with a barrel roll in the middle, which was a hoot to watch because kids have no sense of pride when it comes to falling off something, over and over and over:

These bizarre float-y running mats, which the kids used for racing and sliding and jousting and all sorts of balanc-y nonsense:

An overall view of the "Aqua" slide, which did not involve water at all unless you count the water hose at the top, and the water hose at the bottom which the guy used to get the sand off your feet:

Kendrie, enjoying her trip down:

Kellen, who is clearly concerned with his overall form:

Brayden, getting the most of the spray at the end .... by this point in the day it was about one hundred and fifty degrees, so climbing the steps to get the cool water at the bottom was not unreasonable:

Blaine, trying to look as cool as possible while keeping water from shooting into his ear and out his nose:

And me. Hello, cleavage!

Primarily, I learned four very important lessons on this day.

1. To get up on the trampolines and slides and climbing, floating toys requires an inordinate amount of upper body strength.

2. I do not have an inordinate amount of upper body strength.

3. Sometimes resting at the top was required, before I could summon the energy to hurl my body towards the water and then swim to the next obstacle. While I was very "Survivor" in my mind, I'm afraid I was very "Wipe Out" in my actual performance.

4. That Blaine is probably the smartest one of us all.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day Nine of Vacation - Samana, Domican Republic

A few things that have interfered with my “photo and update a day while on vacation” plan:

1. Wi-fi access is limited to a few select locations on the cruise ship.
2. Only one of those places on the entire ship, the library, has electrical outlets.
3. My computer battery died twice in some of the other locations, an obvious clue that I was spending too much time reading the blogs I’m missing while gone and googling Toxic Audio.
4. Those obnoxious teenagers showed up twice more when I was in the library and I kept leaving, going to places without outlets, computer dying …. Clearly a vicious cycle.
5. I've spent all morning each day at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet.
6. I've spent the days doing fun water activities with my kids.
7. I've spent the late afternoons going through the photos Blaine has taken with the camera, aghast at my own image in a swimsuit, appalled at how much weight I've actually gained in the last year ..... the proof right there in pictures.
8. I've spent each night consoling myself at the all-you-can-eat dessert buffet.
9. Um………… I got lazy.

So, a few days late, but here is our day in Samana in pictures:

We took a speedboat (and having actually traveled in a speedboat previously, I use the term loosely ...) to take a cave and mangrove tour with our friends. After all, why did God make caves if not to have small tourists pay money to climb all over the rocks?

As the boat went nearer the caves, all I could think was that the roots on these trees creeped me the hell out. I got a little claustrophobic just looking at them and imagining being caught in them ....... ick.

We toured the caves looking at stalagtites and stalagmites (bonus points for me, I actually remember the difference from junior high) and cave carvings and paintings. This one is a pretty accurate depiction of how I feel most mornings before my first glass of chocolate milk.

These two have been friends since their mothers discovered one another at a Mother's Club in Ohio and put their six-month old butts on the same blanket to stare at one another and drool on each other's toys. Neither time nor distance seems to damper their friendship, and I hope nothing ever does .... Here's to the next eleven years, ok, J?

Then, of course, doing what we've done best this entire time .... eating.

The second half of the day was spent at Cayo Levantado Bay, playing in the water and "diving" for shells and treasures.

A view of the beach area.

My kids, having snorkeled for the first time ever the day before, were of course experts at this point and lamented the lack of marine wildlife to explore ..... but they certainly enjoyed collecting rocks and coral (?) and sea glass (?) I keep putting those question marks because for all I know they were digging up trash, but it made them happy, so I kept quiet.

And of course the most fun part of the day, pitting your 78-lb body against the force of Mother Nature, in the form of waves .... which constantly knock you over, forcing salt water up your nose and in your mouth because you are laughing, yet you just keep doing it over and over ....

And the true highlight of each cruise evening, seeing which towel animal our room steward has left for us before bed. We've had a bat, swan, scorpion, monkey, alligator, pig, and one which we are *pretty sure* was a turtle.