Saturday, December 06, 2014

Winter Froggyisms

Upon arriving at the Minneapolis airport on our way to Iowa, we walked past the Caribou Coffee, the Christmas decorations and little shops and Froggy said in total deadpan: "Why is Minneapolis so cozy?" It had been a long day (12 hours altogether) and that sent me into hysterics. 

We went ice skating last night at the outdoor rink in downtown Des Moines. And Froggy made this observation:

"Kids don't even have to say anything in order to race, we just have to look at each other. Watch." She then skated up to a little boy, gave him a glare and they were off. They continued to race for the next two hours. It was a serious affair the entire time. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Froggyisms Galore

If there are silly straws, does that mean there are serious straws?

The Wizard of Oz is boring. They just walk around and then add more people. That's it, that's the movie.

After watching a video online of a lady from New Zealand giving birth outside, Froggy said, "I hope a dingo eats that baby."

Froggy: What's that soup I like again? Oddball soup? 

Froggymama: Matzo ball soup.
Froggy: Yeah, that's it!

If the heart is alive, does that mean it has a heart inside of it?

Adele sounds like a dying elephant.

Froggy: Mom, the vest isn't working.
Froggymama: Oh, it came unplugged. (plugging it back in).
Froggy: I think your brain came unplugged.

If I were Jewish I'd be like, uhhhh when's the messiah gonna get here? 

This soap smells soaper good. 

Stay away from me, I'm mommy intolerant. 

I made up a joke: What kind of bath does a vampire take?  A blood bath! 

Friday, July 11, 2014

I Haven't Screwed Up Yet

I am a mom.
Every morning when I wake up, I repeat a familiar mantra passed from mother to mother, a rite of passage, or rather guilt of passage that goes something like this; “Well, you haven’t screwed up yet.” 
I know it isn’t very Zen or something Wayne Dyer would preach on a PBS telethon, and possibly I should be reciting a mantra like, “You are love, you are beautiful, you are wrapped in the warm light of God.”  

But, “You haven’t screwed up yet,” works for me. 

It gives me hope that at some point I’ll go a whole day without mucking it up, or an entire morning, or afternoon, or possibly just an hour without disappointing another living soul or myself. An hour would be good. Yeah, I’d settle for an hour.

“You haven’t screwed up yet,” is an affirmation for the realist. By the mere act of getting out of bed, I have not let anyone down. I have traveled from the bed to the door, possibly down the hall and through a tooth brushing, without major failure. 

Usually, I don’t even get this far. When I haven’t flossed (which is every morning), I visualize my dentist shaking his head in that uppity, exasperated way saying, “Cavities love that space between your teeth,” and then giving me his disappointed, fatherly look like I missed curfew and came home drunk on some miscreant’s motorcycle. So I promise to be better next time. I swear I’ll be a good girl. I swear. Someday I’ll floss and take a taxi. Even though I know I never will. Because let’s face it there is just something hot about motorcycles and not flossing.

Some mornings I make it to the living room, but never all the way to the kitchen. Because the cats are waiting in the dining room,  impatient and indignant that their food bowl has been empty for a entire 30 minutes. They look up at me like, “We were counting on you mom, and you let us down…again.” 

I can read the disappointment in their eyes as they look from bowl to me, bowl to me, bowl to me. They actually shake their heads in feline disgust. So I feed them, but it’s too late. They have lost all hope in my ability to be a responsible pet owner. They’ve called the ASPCA and Sarah McLachlan. I’m toast. By the time I’ve  crawled to the coffee pot, I have already let my dentist and my cats and PETA down. I’m feeling the blow of disappointment and it’s not even seven.

I pour four scoops into the coffee filter and hear my doctor saying, “Caffeine could be to blame for your anxiety, if I were you I’d switch to green tea.” So I look in the cupboard and stare down the herbal tea box that has a happy Buddha illustration and I slam the door. I hate you green tea. I hate you Buddha. I just want my coffee without the guilt. 

I put in another scoop and relish in the sound of that first bubbly chirp of percolation. At this point, I’ve pissed off my dentist, the cats, Sarah McLachlan, PETA, my doctor and now the Dalai Lama. 

It’s time to wake the child. I casually walk by her room saying, “Hey sweetheart, time to rise and shine.” She is comatose. Absolutely zero movement. I think maybe she’s dead, the cats having suffocated her during the night, pissed off by their lack of food, and seeking revenge by slowly smothering the one person who means the most to me.

Nope, she’s breathing. 

I don’t want to disturb her slumber just yet, so I make my bed. 

Who am I kidding? I’m afraid of her, my child who wakes up like pestilence unleashed from Pandora’s box with fiery brimstone upon the world. At 7:15am, my sweet baby, my angel, the love of my life is evil incarnate. With furled brow, she almost moos with hatred for the early hour, her head spinning round like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.  

I love her, yet she terrifies me. At least before 8am. 

So I stall, and make her lunch. “She needs her sleep,”  I convince myself, and I need another cup of coffee before rousing the Minotaur.

I open the  cupboard and all the fun snacks are gone, we’re down to unsalted almonds, raisins, and a squashed granola bar. I find a prepackaged lunch in the fridge. Score! I know it’s preservatives galore, that there isn’t an ounce of real food in there and her dad is picking her up today, Mr. Organic, grass fed, supplement man who doesn’t pay child support, but rather pays in red dye number 3 guilt.  I throw in a yogurt, some carrots, and fruit and know that if she’s survived the cat’s wrath, she’ll survive one bad lunch. 

Fifteen minutes later, I approach her doorway, “Babycakes, breakfast is ready.” She hisses like a baby rattler about to strike, releasing all her venom at once. I pull her legs off the bed, wrapping them around me and carry the dead wait of a 63 pound 8 year old into the living room. She is more than half my size and almost as tall as me, but a bad back is better than bartering with Baby Jane.

I turn on the cartoons while making breakfast. Another big parenting no-no. We watch educational programming, but first thing in the morning she needs her Spongebob like I need my coffee. She is in no mood to learn about the cosmos or bononos monkeys. I get it.

In the kitchen I flip bacon like crabby patties, throwing  some incredibly healthy Ezekiel bread into the toaster oven. That should make up for the plastic lunch, I tell myself. I add organic berries and yogurt, a glass of milk, and feel for the first moment of the day that I’m not such a bad mom after all. But like all things parental it’s short-lived. 

I look at the clock and realize we are already running a half hour behind. Which means we’ll have to sign “The Sheet!” The sheet is an admission before you are allowed to enter the school that states you are tardy, and basically that as a parent you totally suck. You are required to write the time, how sucky you are, sign it, then paste a Scarlett Letter badge to enter school grounds that has a giant V for  “visitor,” but might as well say, “VERY, bad, mom.” I wear the badge proud like a scar, and stare down the librarian as she gives me the “late again” look. Yeah, we’re late again. Go complain to Dewey Decimal, we got a lot on our plates. 

We walk into the classroom midway through a spelling test. We’ve missed the morning announcements, the singsongs, and are already into the nitty-gritty of second grade.  I pull out her homework folder and realize today is Egg Drop Day - a lesson in physics and architecture where students are required to construct a soft housing for an egg that can withstand a dramatic drop from the second story of the school. It is the equivalent of Elementary School prom and I dropped the ball and not the egg. 

“Please, go home and get an egg, please mommy!,” my child begs.

I look at my watch. I have a meeting in 15 minutes 25 minutes away. 

I have now let my dentist, the cats, Sarah McLachlan, Peta, the Dalai Lama, my doctor, my ex, school administrators, a second grade teacher, the Egg industry, Frank Lloyd Wright, Isaac Newton, the librarian, Mr. Dewey Decimal himself, and now my child down. It’s not even 9am.

I speed home, pissing off the neighborhood safety council, ignoring the signs that say, “Drive like your child lives here.”  That’s why I’m speeding, dammit! I grab an egg out of the fridge.  It’s expired, from our Easter egg dyeing two months ago. It’ll do. I search the garage for bubble wrap. There isn’t any, so I wrap toilet paper around the rotten egg and place it in a Victoria Secret box, because of course that’s the only structure I have for my child’s school project. I cross out Victoria and write my daughter’s name and rush back to the school. Rotten egg, wrapped in toilet paper, in a lingerie box that now says, “Addie’s Secret.” Voila! She’s thrilled. 

I am now very late for my meeting. 

“The egg drop was today,” sounds like the dog ate my homework, so I tell my boss, “I’m just running a bit behind.” 

He doesn’t have kids or egg drops or cats, and even though he says it’s okay I can hear the disappointment in his voice and that, “Let’s not make this a habit,” tone.

I arrive at work out of breath, looking like a haggard old lady who smells of bacon and rotten eggs, with cat hair on my pants and so hyped up from coffee and adrenaline, my hands are literally shaking like I’m in heroin withdrawal while taking notes.

It is now only 10:30am and I seriously consider going back to bed, crawling under the covers with my pissed off cats and calling it a day. So far I have let everyone down. Everyone, but myself. There’s still a chance.

I throw on some workout clothes and hike my flabby butt up a Los Angeles mountain, also known as a rather big hill. It is my favorite hiking spot in LA, because it is so not LA. People of all shapes, sizes and colors climb the 248 stone stairs that resemble an ancient ruin to a majestic look out. And on a clear smogless day, the view boasts a panoramic snapshot from the Pacific ocean to the San Bernardino mountains, with the Hollywood sign in-between. The traffic and graffiti covered walls are still visible below, but once you reach 150 stairs it’s snails and rabbits, lizards, hummingbirds, monkey bush flowers and sage. 

It’s not quite noon. As I look out over our lives, I cannot imagine how many people I will let down before I tuck my sweet girl into bed. I will lose my temper and yell. I will possibly honk at someone in traffic and then mutter the term "douche bag"  in front of my child. I will most likely burn dinner and forget to have my daughter brush her teeth and fall asleep on the sofa with dirty dishes in the sink.  I’ll lose the permission slip for a field trip and donate a library book to Goodwill.  I’ll only complete half of my work because we were out of milk and needed a new leotard for gymnastics. I won’t finish my book for book club or call the friend I promised to call. I won’t write those thank you notes for gifts for which I am truly thankful.

For the rest of the afternoon I will work and clean and run errands and make calls and put out the never ending fires of daily life. And no matter how many things I cross off my list, how many fires I extinguish, there will always be someone standing there with kindling and a spark. 

I know all of this standing at the top of a hill overlooking my life. And I think, as long as I can keep my head above water, my feet above sea level, looking out over a very big city knowing I am still above it, I am okay.

I pick up my daughter from school and she is elated. 

“Mommy, it worked. My egg didn’t break!” 

And her face, that look of, “We did it!” is all it takes. 

A rotten egg in a lingerie box full of toilet paper that didn’t break and suddenly I am super mom. Tomorrow who knows, but today I know I haven’t screwed up yet. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Enteral Love

It feeds her

mechanical bosom 
pumping rhythm from saxophone tubes 
at night.

I plug her in
I plug her out

like a fraud.

It has it’s own heartbeat,
duodenum, duodenum, duodenum.
This is not how it was supposed to be

her perfect baby body,
that sleek porpoise,
shiny belly that rose and fell
like the tide

jejunum, jejunum, jejunum.

For her own good
they cut a blow hole
so she can rise to the surface 
one day.

but there is still a space

where there shouldn’t be. 

by Froggymama

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Going to Hawaii has been on my bucket list for a long time. Since Froggy was born, we haven't traveled, other than trips to the Midwest to see family. I had built up this vacation in my head to the degree that anything less than perfect would have been disappointing. Maui was even better than I'd imagined. Clear, clean, warm ocean. We snorkeled and took a boat to Molokini, and snorkeled in a volcanic crater. I swam with a sea turtle! We herded cattle on horses, drove the beautiful Road to Hana, hiked and relaxed. It was paradise. Maui was the perfect antidote to stress.

The Amazing Grace of a Snake

When a snake moults, it not only sheds the skin over its entire body but also the transparent ocular scale covering its eyes. The once clear, darting brille turns cloudy, and a milky hue emerges as he embarks on this transformation. He is not only born of new body, but new vision.  A new way of seeing the world.

It's a lot like divorce.

I remember the exact moment when I shed my skin.  We were standing in the kitchen while our three year old daughter played in the other room.  The dog was tap dancing across the hardwood floor, from living room to kitchen, from our daughter to us. He filled the spaces,  policed the parameters.

For once we were together, his perfect audience. For once our child was distracted, pulling musical instruments off a shelf; blowing on kazoos, banging on bongos, getting lost in the moment.

We'd been miserable for a long time - even the dog knew it was over and expressed it with a frantic tap dance dirge. Tap tap tap tap. Tap tap tap tap.

I was crouching on the pink tile of the kitchen floor, putting a pan below the sink and when I stood up - a rush of blood to the brain and the impatience of promises made it clear. This was the moment. I was going to ask the question, for better or worse.

"Are you going to do whatever it takes?"

I thought there would be a pause, a long dramatic moment like in my mother's soap operas where it's almost uncomfortable and you start zeroing in on the star's facial pores. The music starts to play, and a melancholy cello pulls you to commercial; something exotic like a  Caribbean vacation or Pizza Hut.

But it was so fast.


It wasn't a dare or a protest. There was no challenge to meet, no argument to pursue, no commercial break or trip to Antigua. Because I was ready for dukes up. Whatever it takes. My gloves are on.  Give it what you got man!


It was a car horn announcing a green light. A short, polite, "go already." We've been sitting here too long.

It was lightning without thunder.

It was helium, escaping a balloon that fell quietly to the floor during the night and in the morning - a wilted piece of rubber with a string remained. The saddest thing ever. Parties over. Go home. Don't be that person who waits til the end, til every last car is out of the drive and the host gives you a nod and a yawn. Wellll, it's been fun, but...

I'd shed my skin. It was over. The person I was didn't exist anymore except in a skeletal casage, like a sausage, a cellophane history that was my life for ten years. Our families coming together, the birth of a child, holidays and heart attacks, biking through the Catalonian mountains,  sailing to Catalina, sitting on the bow and searching for blowholes on the horizon with our child, birthdays candles and hikes, sea shells on so many beaches, walking Iowa cornfields, and dunes of the Mojave desert. It was all gone, in a moment, a slough of skin. Shed. For better or worse.


And strangely, I could breathe again as if I'd been underwater expecting the sea to give me air. And the sea said, "Well, what did you expect?"

Most amphibians, birds, even dogs and cats who shed skin, feathers and fur, do not leave an entire replica of their former selves behind. But a snake, leaves a life-size fingerprint, a CSI story of all the twists and turns, scars and deep tales, the slidings through narrow escapes of  life in the desert, of digging holes and climbing in, of peeking out to eat, or catch a view of the harvest moon. He is a novelist, a ghost writer, taking no credit for the story left behind. 

After my  divorce I could relate to this metamorphosis. I was struggling to find a way out of a life I'd dug so hard to get in. I'd shed my skin, and was naked and new at everything. Now what?

Well, there was a beginning and an end, an exact moment to everything.

I remember the exact moment I looked into my daughter's eyes. Fresh out of my body like a wet porpoise on my belly. A smart little alien. Where am I? How did I get here? What's the purpose to it all? Mother, answer me.... all before lips met breast. Her eyes were clear, ready. Not cloudy at all.

I remember the exact moment when she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. On the phone, holding my crying babe. The doctor was busy, so I begged the nurse to give me the results.

She said, "The doc is supposed to do it, but I'm sure it's negative. Let me get the fax that just came in."

Long hold, very long hold, as my daughter fussed and I felt like not knowing was being set on fire but before I could stop, drop and roll the nurse came back.

"I better have the doctor read this to you honey."

The exact moment when our world fell apart.

I remember the exact moment when we said we would. My grandmother's church, folk music and dancing. Dreamy and dumb, unaware that life had very big teeth.

And in the kitchen putting away a pan, listening to the music of dog paws on hardwood, a kazoo song serenading from the living room, I remember the exact moment when our family fell apart. When I shed the final skin over my eyes.

I once was blind but now I see.

The brille is there to protect, as the snake slides through sand picking up the dust of life that collects and clouds. What was once shiny, after time,  becomes brittle, worn, and bald. Like an old man.  And finally when he can't see anymore, when he is almost blind from the life he's seen, when he can't go another inch in the life he's lived,  he is reborn. Same soul but new eyes. The wisdom without the weight.

And now, I too leave it in the sand as I slip into rocks and crevices, climbing in and then out again, every once in a while catching a glimpse of the harvest moon.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Secret's in the Ink

It creeps up on me like the boogey man or an octopus.

We have great days of playing at the park, dinner around the table where we talk of playground politics and discuss Ben and Jerry's greatest ice cream flavor. After homework and a game of animal rummy, we catch an hour of a Jack Black movie during respiratory treatment, guffaw at his cartoon facial expressions and settle in with a library book about octopuses, cuttlefish and squids, learning how cephalopods exist without skeletons; they are the shapeshifters of the sea, who cannot only change color but camouflage their bodies by the pattern of their surroundings.

The blue-ringed octopus transforms it's body to look exactly like the anemones beneath him, same color, same shape, even the same texture. How does he know how to do that, in an instant? How does he paint his pigment in those Van Gogh patterns, without a brush, without a cerebral cortex? How does he inherently know what will save him? 

Instead of fighting, he just fits in, meshes, like "hey dude, just hanging." In essence the octopus pretends the danger isn't actually there... And it works.

This has been a tough year. Addie's mickey/g-tube fell out and had to be replaced surgically, her stomach woes and blocked colon caused months of physical pain and missed school, activities and life. This cold that won't go away created a wet cough that sounds like heavy cement in her lungs. And now the antibiotics that fight the cement are causing diarrhea and night time tummy aches. Sometimes Cystic Fibrosis feels never-ending. Like we are fighting an invisible current, a secret enemy who is hiding in plain site, colored and textured like our daily surroundings, but always there. At the end of the day, even when it's lovely, the tentacles are showing.

This is a first, but tonight I was jealous of an octopus and his graceful ability to survive the depths of the sea without a weapon, except ink, writing his story in the ocean, saying "I WAS HERE."

Even if I was hidden when the dangers lurked above, I fought in my own way. I changed and worked to fit in to this environment that was always against me, that tried it's best to win. Because patients with CF struggle to breathe, as if air were the enemy, as if they were underwater and born without gills.  

Without the metaphors, I'm just sad tonight. I wish my kid could fall asleep without any pain or discomfort. I wish a cold was not something to be feared like a shark or a stingray. I wish I could kiss her goodnight and not think, "She's almost eight, how long do we have?"

I wish I could sink into the bottom of the sea and camouflage myself into pretending we are safe, that there is nothing wrong, that we are just the anemones beneath us. There are no enemies. And whatever haunts us from above will keep on swimming. Just keep on swimming and leave us alone. Safe and shapeless, but happy, under the waves and the sun that seems to always find a way to reach us, even in the darkest of places.