When In Rome ... Er, Newport Beach

I live in THE beautiful capital of the world. It is THE place where you can have THE perfect body if you're willing to either a) spend the time in the gym or b) pay for it.

I learned a lot about beauty the weekend I moved into the rental house and first got together with my neighbors. They told me all about their Restylane, Botox, boob jobs, microdermabrasion, face peels, IPL Laser treatments, and teeth whitening. Oh, and that California is a 50/50 state if you stay married more than 10 years.

They take their doctors, their lawyers, and their referrals very seriously. When these ladies talked, I rolled my eyes listened.

So about 6 weeks ago I went to one of their recommended dermatologists to talk about something that has bothered me for years. YEARS! I went to discuss options to "cure" the Rosacea on my nose.

For as long as I can remember I have had a red nose. The redness of it ebbs and it flows, looking more prominent when it's cold outside or when I have a cocktail. I've tried every gel and cream since college. I've tried every home remedy, cosmeceutical, and new makeup on the market that claims it will hide the redness. Usually people tell me they don't notice it, but that's only because I cake-on the cover up and reapply it throughout the day so that I don't look like Rudolph. I have spent endless hours and dollars dealing with this and have hit the stage where I can finally say I'm just about done.

Enter my last resort. The v-beam laser. My panacea.

Today I began my 2, maybe 3 series laser treatment to reduce the redness on my nose. No more creams. No more gels. No more looking like a clown with the caked-on cover up on my nose. Today is the first day of the rest of my non-red nose life.

The only problem? I'm pain averse.

I usually have a very high pain threshold. Heck, I had Sheridan without an epidural. But the anticipation of today's procedure had me literally hyperventilating in the doctor's office. See, about 12 years ago I was a test dummy for a new laser on my spider veins. Without getting too graphic, let's just say it was one of the worst experiences. My legs were mangled, scabbed, and scarred. I didn't have a great outcome, and the pain was beyond horrific. Without the ability to use the Emla cream to numb my nose and based on my previous experiences, I just wasn't sure that I could handle it.

But I did. And honestly, the pain was quite minimal. The twenty'ish pulses didn't bother me one bit. That is until about ten minutes later when my nose started tingling. Which it's been mildly doing all day. Though it's not bad. Not bad at all.

I go back in mid-December for round two of treatment. If I'm feeling frisky, I may even let her turn up the intensity on the laser. No better time to actually look like one of Santa's reindeer....

The kind nurse took photos of me prior to the procedure.

The "bug eyed" AFTER photos.
With remnants of mascara from yesterday, just for good measure.


I Never Knew ...

... just how adorable he'd be today. How flipping cute I'd find him afterward. How that quick half-hour would change his entire look. His whole face. How I could manage to take 152 photos with less than 5 of him actually looking in the camera.

I never knew that at 17 months, I'd have to take Grady to get his first haircut.

I hadn't planned on getting his hair cut today. I really wanted to wait until Matt was here so we could take him together. But when his sweet little ringlet curls started becoming unruly and standing on end, and the girls were able to style his hair in mini ponytails, I knew it was time.

I took him to a children's salon just down the street. They put him in a little yellow car and made sure to tighten the seat belt. The stylist was recommended by my neighbor. She asked me what I wanted. I told her, "the usual?" And she began cutting ...

And all was fine until she took away his play toy. Which is exactly what it looked like.

Ahhhhh... much better now. Grady got his pink dildo pretend hair clippers back.
Um, sure... I guess it's a good toy to play with while sitting in a kids hair salon.

Before & After photos. What a difference twenty minutes makes.

And you can bet your sweet bippy that I tipped her well. Mostly for annoying her with the endless photos. And the dildo comments. I'm sure she'll look forward to having me back there again...


Lotsa Helping Hands

Ever since I wrote about my girlfriend's breast cancer diagnosis, I have been inundated with emails and comments from friends and strangers asking how they can help.

Not wanting to be any more of a buttinsky than I already was becoming, I had to wait until my girlfriend was ready for me to take the next step. It had to be on her terms.

After three weeks, endless doctor's appointments, and realizing that she too has limited hours in her day, she is finally accepting that a little help would go a long way.

And with that, I can now present ... Lotsa Helping Hands.

Lotsa Helping Hands is an online Caregiving Coordination Community that allows people to sign up to offer help to a person or family in need. It details exactly what the family needs on exactly which date. It has a place to offer well wishes. A section to post messages and to view pictures. And there's even a tab there to donate money for those people who really want to help but are unable due to geographic limitations.

In order to get onto this website, you need to click here.... Lotsa Helping Hands.

This link will take you to the login page, where you will enter your email address. Because this website is going out to thousands of people today, my only request when you sign up is to just write in the comment area how you heard of Jen. This is to keep out the lurkers. Each new member will be approved as soon as possible. One quick note ... the login page will ask you for your phone number and email. Don't worry, it is kept private and is NOT published anywhere on the website. I checked!

Please feel free to share this with anyone in the DC area and beyond. Jen will happily take all the help she can get.

p.s. thank you to bfiles who passed along this website.


One Whirlwind Weekend ...

16 hours in the car

900 miles driven

10 pit stops ... which include 3 gas stops, 4 potty breaks, 3 @$%&*#@? is wrong warnings

7 movies watched on the DVD player

17 times I begrudgingly listened to the Katy Perry song, California Girls

36 hours at my parents house

1 triple grande caramel macchiatto delivered to me in bed

2 mornings I got to sleep in past 7 am

3 kids fed breakfast that I didn't have to make

... all for 4 hours with them.

Simply priceless.


Thinking Pink

Did you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? A time to think pink... which is easy for us considering our house is bursting with the pepto colored stuff.

My sincerest thanks to all of you who visited my friend Jen, recently diagnosed with breast cancer just a few short weeks ago. Words can't express my appreciation to those who left wonderful notes of support on both my blog and hers. As a quick update ... her husband has been able to come back from Baghdad and will be with her through her upcoming surgeries and treatments.

As a tribute to her, and my relatives and friends who recently walked in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, today we all wear pink in your honor.


Where Does The Time Go?

Baby Grady is now 17 months old ...

Matt has been gone for over 13 weeks ...

The kids have been in school for exactly 6 weeks ...

We are gearing up for the kids 1st Halloween in the States ...

... And I am beginning to think that every day is Groundhog Day.

As a single mom of three kids, and a furry dog, I have made amends that there are clearly not enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished.

I no longer have a maid to clean the house. Or watch the kids. Or dare I say ... cook.

I no longer have a driver to run my errands. Or schlep me or the kids anywhere we need to go.

I don't have a responsive home owner who takes care of her house. Or fixes things that are in desperate need of repair.

So how am I supposed to keep the house tidy, go grocery shopping, do the laundry, schlep the girls to and from school, schlep Grady to and from his preschool, schedule play dates, cook dinner, do the dishes, do homework, read with the kids, play with the kids, walk the dog, take care of the dog, AND have a moment to myself?

No seriously, I'm actually asking the question. How do I do it?

Because right now it's just not happening. Scratch that. It IS happening, it's just not happening well...

I HAVE to vacuum the floor at least every three days because of the excessive amounts of dog hair. I NEED to make three meals a day. I ENJOY working in Sheridan's class every Monday, though I lose one of the three "free" mornings I have with Grady in preschool.

Last week I asked a question on Facebook as to whether or not I should purchase a crock pot or a Le Creuset dutch oven... completely aware that the two are not the same thing. An overwhelming number of people said that the Le Creuset completely changed their lives. So, Friday afternoon, I marched in to Williams Sonoma with all three kids in tow, and purchased a 5.5 quart round dutch oven.

Which hasn't exactly changed my life yet, but has certainly taken up space on my counter.

Just like the brand new Viking sewing machine, sitting on my sewing table in the room out back, that I haven't managed to take out of the box.

Or the oodles of emails that have piled up in my inbox.

And the messages that have tripled on my answering machine.

I don't reach out often. I rarely ask for advice. Que sera sera has usually been my motto. But this one time. I'm willing to see if there's a better way to do things. What time saving tips do you have for me? What stores do I need to check out? What new recipes do you have that are both quick AND tasty. What do YOU do to get through the day, without compromising on YOUR necessities, or blinking at 6 pm wondering where the time went?

More importantly, who do I bribe to get a 27 hour day?


Not Wanting To Be Outdone By Her Sister...

... today Riley started Girl Scouts as well. Brownies if you will.

But don't think I got a picture of her grinning and smiling like her sister. No WAY! See, Riley was surrounded by her friends. Who were all staring at her. And her geeky mom who was gushing and making her stand and smile at the iPhone camera were far too much for any seven year old to handle. Especially since she couldn't pose in her not-quite-purchased Brownie vest and beanie yet ...

So as of today, I have two VERY excited Girl Scouts. One of whom will be begging all of you to buy Girl Scout cookies from her in the spring. And yes, I will be asking. Because I'm annoying like that. Just ask my daughter.

The Newest Member

Can you feel the excitement?


Food Poisoning - 1* ... Jill - 0

I started feeling ill after dinner this evening. Not awful, but there was something. Something just didn't seem right. I laid on the couch while the girls ate their ice cream. They came and sat next to me while they read their library books. I kissed them goodnight and shooed them off to bed while the yukkiness slowly started to take over.

One hour ... two hours ... three hours pass ... and I know that it's not much longer before I'm going to be ill.

I keep the lights off in the bathroom, and I sit on the toilet. Praying for something to happen. I have a plastic bag in my hands and I bend over, breathing deeply. Waiting. It's not too long before my nether regions explode. Sorry. You chose to read this. You could have stopped when you saw the title.

I wash my hands. With soap. And shuffle into bed. My hair pulled back. Knowing that it needs to stay out of my face. Just in case.

I start to fall asleep and the hair clip bothers me. I take it out. Hoping that the vomitous urges either come quickly, or go away. Minutes pass. And neither... so I continue to lay there. I slowly doze off.

Until it hits. Hard. And fast. I charge into the bathroom like a bat out of hell. Like a four year old boy who can't aim straight into the ceramic bowl, I hit everything within a three foot radius. Again. And Again. And Again.

I don't think there's a single thing left in my stomach.

Breathing only through my nose with my mouth slightly ajar, I turn to the sink and begin cleaning myself up. It takes awhile ... because well ... I have LONG hair. And I'm grossed out. Five minutes later, after I brush my teeth, wash my face, wash sections of my hair, and change my shirt, I turned on the lights to assess the rest of the damage.


The glass of Cabernet Sauvignon I drank with dinner was NOT one of my finer ideas tonight. Nor was eating that second helping of rice pilaf.

The bathroom is now clean. There's an extra towel and a glass of water perched by the sink. Just in case. An hour and a half after I went to bed the first time and I'm ready to attempt to lay down again.

Or not. Round Two feels like it's about to begin. Maybe I should quickly chug a glass of white wine. You know, to balance out the coloring of the next clean up? And get a haircut.

* edited at 12:45 am to say that we're now preparing for Round Three.
** edited again at 3:50 am to say that we're now preparing for Round Four.
This has been a long night...


Have You Touched Yourself Lately?

A few days ago, after publishing this post about pulling Riley from Hebrew School, I had a long email chat with a girlfriend who was going through her own similar scheduling conflicts, and who ultimately, was the catalyst for me to make my decision. With both of our husbands working in Iraq, we communicate often, offering support during the highs and lows of single parenthood.

But this week's conversation wasn't as light hearted and sarcastic as usual. It had a far heavier tone to it, for she confided in me about having some medical tests done, and being scared to get the results. More specifically, she had a mammogram and a biopsy, and she was anxiously awaiting to hear the news.

Not knowing what to say, I made my usual attempts to be witty, to be positive, and to offer another angle for why she may have pain. Couldn't it just be a cyst? Maybe she strained herself picking up her two year old son? She's a healthy thirty-something year old girl. Nothing could be wrong. Right?

I kept in close contact with her over the next few days, sending text messages, and emailing when I could. But how do you continue to have a conversation about something that may or may not be happening? How do you talk about "the dreaded C word" with someone you know ... so young and vibrant ... without thinking about your own mortality? How do you make small talk with someone when there's clearly an elephant in the room?

As I drove home late yesterday afternoon from a birthday party with Sheridan, I sent my girlfriend a text message while at a stop light, asking her if she found out where her family had been posted next year. We had been assigned last week, and she was bound to find out any day where they were heading. Her response, "You don't want to know." Not sure what that meant, and only thinking that her husband didn't get one of his top choices for their next overseas assignment, at the next stop light I sent a follow up text asking, "why?"

Cancer. My girlfriend just found out she has breast cancer.

I pulled the car over and burst into tears. How? Why? What is she going to do? So many questions. So much to think about. So much support to lend.

The rest of the story isn't mine to tell. Only my friend can do that.

But what I can do is urge everyone who's reading this to touch themselves today. Feel your boobs. Grab your spouse's balls. Heck, grab your neighbors boobs. Or balls. I don't recommend giving anyone a rectal exam ... but I will stress that if something, anything doesn't feel right (no matter where that special place may be), please call your doctor.

I don't normally proselytize here ... but even remotely thinking about how my girlfriend, who also has 3 kids and a hubby in Iraq, is going to go through this on her own. Well ... it gives me chills. It could easily have been me.

Schedule your annual exam. Give yourself monthly breast exams. The life my friend saved by doing this was her own.

And if you'd like to offer your own support to her, I know she could use it.


Fun With Phonics

Every Monday, Sheridan has to turn in a paper about a particular topic they covered in the previous week's class. Here's what she had to say about apples ...

I think she summed it up perfectly.

Apples grow on trees. (she originally spelled it chrees)
Apples are different colors and tastes.
Apples are sweet and juicy.


Something's Gotta Give ... And It Isn't My Sanity

I made a very adult decision today. One that I had been contemplating for several weeks.

It was with a very heavy heart that I pulled Riley out of Religious School.

It's rare that I don't follow through with my commitments. In fact, I just don't obligate myself or my kids to activities and events that we know we can't attend. So why I agreed to enroll Riley into Hebrew School when I knew I didn't think it was going to work out from the very beginning is truly beyond me.

When we moved to the Orange County area, it was with the understanding that we'd join the same Synagogue as our cousins so the kids could all go to camp and Religious and Hebrew School together. Sure, it's a solid twenty five minute drive without any traffic, but what's a little distance to have the kids experiencing Judaism together, right? Or so I thought.

While I made this hour round trip, twice a day, every day, for four weeks this summer, I didn't put much thought into what it would be like on the weekdays for Riley when she started Hebrew School. I didn't have a plan for Sheridan and Grady as we waited the two and a half hours for Riley during her class. I certainly wasn't prepared for the class to end at 6:30 pm, and the struggle to get everyone home, fed, showered, homeworked, read, and in bed at a reasonable hour. Especially when, dare I admit it, Grady is in bed around 6:30 pm and the girls follow suit by 7:30 pm. At this rate on Tuesdays, nobody would be in bed before 8:30 pm ... maybe 9 pm.

I had been dreading Tuesdays as soon as school began. I stressed about the traffic. I worried about getting home way past the dog's dinnertime. I began sweating about how cranky the kids would be the next morning. As difficult as it was, I, ruler of the anal retentive universe, finally accepted that I needed to maintain this family's sanity.

Late this afternoon I spoke with the director of the Religious programs at our Synagogue and explained my familial situation. I disclosed our background. Our future direction. I mentioned the girls lack of Religious education, and their desire to "get their Jew on." I apologized (though I'm not sure why) ... for being honest about placing my sanity above my daughter's Hebrew School education.

You know what he said? He got it. Not only did he completely understand, but he told me that he thought I was making the right decision. The best decision. He supported it. And he would immediately refund me the tuition for the year. Which, even though it totally wasn't about the money, is an added benefit.

This wasn't a decision that was made lightly. Nor is it one that I'm sure will be accepted by all. But I don't care. I can't care. When someone starts walking in my shoes ... with their spouse gone for a year, schlepping here, there, and yonder, living in a rented house with somebody else's things and leading a 'temporary life' ... well, then they can judge me.

Until then, I'm pretty darn proud that I took care of myself while making a controversial decision. I know I'm doing the best I can...

And speaking of those who are proud of themselves ... this little one seems pretty sure of herself today too. Can't say the apple fell to far from the tree. *ahem*

Tooth number ten... but who's counting besides Riley?

p.s. I only pulled Riley out of Hebrew School. It's not going to harm her to start next year when we join a Synagogue near our new home. She and her sister are still enrolled in Sunday School.


Sometimes It's Just The Little Things ...

... that make it all worth living in the States.

We took the kids and their cousins to the pumpkin patch this past weekend. A first for everyone. It was hot. Way too hot to be traipsing around on the first weekend in October.

But it was worth it to see the dirty smiles on everyone's sweaty faces. Wasn't it?


Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

And it's finally official ...

Next summer, the Perlman family will be moving to the Washington, DC area where Matt will be the new Special Assistant to the Director of Diplomatic Security Service.

While most people parlay their Iraq tour into a premier overseas assignment, we decided to do the reverse commute. After being overseas for seven years (eight for Matt), we knew it was time to come "home". Matt wanted to reintroduced himself to the organization since a lot has changed from when he first went overseas, and this higher level headquarters position enables him to view the organization from the top, while looking at the big picture type of issues.

We are extremely excited for this new Stateside adventure, and for the opportunity for Matt to work with the Director, who we know well from our tour in Israel, once again.

All we can say now is ... we're almost home Perlman family ... we're almost home!

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