Katie Couric in the House

Posted: August 8th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Cancer, Friends and Strangers, Mom, Other Mothers, Travel | 5 Comments »

On Sunday I got back from BlogHer, which was in New Yawk City this year. There were more than 5,000 attendees, nearly all gals. It’s a hen party extraordinaire. Picture men’s rooms reconfigured with curtains covering urinals, and hordes of card-swapping bloggers who probably all have synchronized periods now.

There’s also a lot of goofy dancing the parties, with women wearing unicorn horns, tiaras, and even McDonalds bags on their heads. It’s kinda like an eighth grade dance at a really big girls’ school where everyone wears name tags.

If you like that kinda thing.

After attending Erma and Mom 2.0 this spring, I realized was a bit maxed on standard blog conference fare. How many times can I hear how to increase site traffic while still never taking it to heart? The agenda felt like a menu packed with nothing I was in the mood to eat.

But you go to these events for the people. I bunked with Jill, and bowled with Tracey. It took a cross-country trip to lay eyes on five-and-dime homies Heather ‘n Whitney from Rookie Moms and 510 Families. I reconnected with sweet-as-can-be Jennifer from World Moms Blog. The Bearded Iris cheered me on when I got picked for the LTYM open mic (though instead of this I shoulda read the post I wrote for her). And I had great chats with some homeschoolin’ mamas, Daze of Adventure Jenn, joy-finding mother-of-seven Rachel, and queen bee Nicole. I’m hoping they can teach me math some day.

The keynotes were impressive too. This dude named Barack Obama addressed the conference via live video. Heard of him? With my great timing this took place while I was still on the train, cursing Amtrack’s crappy wi-fi.

Martha Stewart showed for lunch on Friday. She wore fab-u-LUSS orange platforms but otherwise didn’t set my heart a flutter. There was a lot of “we’ve made THOU-sands of products” and “thank GOD my driver was there” kinda talk. I think I prefer Prison Martha.

The gal who did have me swooning was Saturday’s keynote, the incomparably cute Katie Couric. You just wanted to go home with her to do pedicures and oatmeal facials, and to raid her closet. She’s like your old college roommate who hit the big time. During her talk Marinka tweeted, “It’s impossible not to adore her.” True dat.

Since I’ve been too busy hobnobbing with bloggers to actually blog, I’m sharing a post I wrote in June 2006, when Katie was leaving the Today show.

Read it and weep, peeps.

*  *  *

Farewell, Katie

Katie Couric, that is. For those sub-stone dwellers, Wednesday was Katie Couric’s last day after a 15-year stint on the Today show. And uncool as it is to admit, it kills me that she’s leaving. This is right up there with my despair over Judging Amy going off the air, though the Katie Couric thing is probably remotely more socially-acceptable to admit.

The thing is, I didn’t even watch the Today show very often. Still, it was somehow comforting knowing it was there. I’m one of those can’t-have-the-TV-on-when-it’s-sunny-out types. Or at least, I’m assuming there are others like me, and that collectively we make up a type. So the last time I really indulged in the show was during The Rains.

There’s truly something down-to-earth and likeable about Katie Couric. She’s articulate and all, but can be really goofy too. She shares a good deal of personal stuff on the show that makes her seem all normal, not like some rich celebrity. Not that I didn’t already know everything that there was to know about Katie from my mother.

My mother was a world-class Katie Couric fan. Aside from the more largely known facts of her husband’s death from colon cancer, my mother knew that Katie was one of four girls, and the youngest. (Starting to sound familiar?) She was the celeb daughter my mother never had. For all her accomplishments, my mother was bursting with maternal pride. She’d ruefully express concern over Katie’s bad haircuts or love-life exploits. It seemed that despite the fact that Mom was one of millions of other fans, my mother saw herself as having a unique connection to Katie Couric. I guess that’s the secret to her success.

For the record, my mother also adored Matt Lauer. “He got his start in Rhode Island, you know!” For anyone who might have thought he cut his teeth in some other market, my mother had a grass-roots campaign going to ensure she spread the word that he started on Evening Magazine in Providence—back when he even had hair!

So, once in an unusual twist of Bruno-family geo-positioning, my sister Ellen, my mother, and I were all in New York City at the same time. Mom was watching Ellen’s kids while she attended some film thing, and I was passing through to visit Mike and Lorin before a trip home to Bristol. The gods would never smile on us this way again, I thought. My mother was hardly one for jaunting off to NYC at the drop of a hat. I suggested I pick her up at a painfully early hour at her hotel, and we make ourselves part of the nuisance that gathers outside the Today show studio. My mother was thrilled with the idea. I think she got plenty of mileage out of the adventure before we even went.

Of course, that morning I woke up with the after-affects of a few glasses of wine throbbing through my skull. But I felt like a parent who’d promised an excited child something. I dragged myself awake and managed to shower and get from Brooklyn to Manhattan.

Tragically, Katie Couric was out that day. We were peering into the studio and didn’t see her. I thought my mother would be crushed, but she brushed it off and focused her attention on the dashing Matt Lauer. “Look at the cut of his suit. Those pants!”

Mark Tivoed the show that day, and in a pan of the crowd you can see Mom and I waving along with all the other camera-hungry fans. And I have some good photos too. Mom was wearing a blue scarf on her head babushka-style.

When she was sick she told me that day was one of her “highlights.” And in the days that I was home taking care of her, we would wake up every morning and tune into the show on the old kitchen TV with the rabbit-ears antenna. Even when she was in an ornery sick-of-being-sick mood, or I was stressed because she wasn’t eating the eggs I’d cooked her, we’d sit in front of the Today show and let the light and chipper mood of it all wash over us.

Of course, half the fun was making fun of things. “Celine Dion. What a puke,” she’d say. Or we’d ravage the culinary merits of the meal a guest chef had prepared.

So last night I finally tuned into my recording of Katie’s final show, and had a good bawl. With Mom gone, the show had provided me with some connection, some continuation with her. And not only does it kill me that she wasn’t around to call when the announcement was made that Katie was leaving, it just sucks that for me here now it won’t be the same any more.

As my sister Marie pointed out, Mom would’ve been happy at least that Meredith Viera was stepping in. She went to the Lincoln School in Providence, you know.


Mama Needs a New Pair of Boobs

Posted: May 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Discoveries, Friends and Strangers, Housewife Fashion Tips, My Body, My Temple, Other Mothers, Travel | 3 Comments »

Dear Readers:

Welcome to today’s post, which doesn’t happen to live here. But trust me, it’s so damn good you’ll want to track it down like it’s Osama bin Laden.

I’ll actually tell you where you can find it, but first, here’s the back story: I met a dazzlingly funny and friendly woman named Leslie at that Erma Bombeck workshop I went to and keep yacking about. She writes the fabulous, hilarious blog The Bearded Iris: A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All, which you probably already read since it seems like EVERYONE does, including The Huffington Post. (Not that I’m bitter.)

Anyway, she and I got to emailing since returning home from the conference, and now it turns out that… We’re getting married!!!

Okay, so not REALLY.

But nearly as intimate as that—at least in the blogosphere—which is to say that she asked if I’d write a guest post for her blog. And I’m the FIRST EVER guest blogger on The Bearded Iris. So I’m incredibly honored. And I’m pretty sure she’s having a commemorative tiara custom-crafted for me right now. Which I will wear to my grave. If it goes with whatever I’m wearing at the time. Hopefully she picks out something I can dress up or dress down…

Anyway, so the post is called Mama Needs a New Pair of Boobs. It’s about some, uh, physical concerns I was wrangling with before leaving for the Mom 2.0 conference in Miami (where I am right now). The post is up on her site today.

So then, please CLICK RIGHT HERE to read it, muse over how delightful it was, comment on it, and share the love.

And I’ll be back with a fresh new *motherload* post when I return from Miami on Monday.

Or Tuesday.

But right now I’ve got to re-apply some lipstick and get back into the mosh pit at the Versace Mansion. This town is wild.



Year in Review

Posted: December 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Milestones | 4 Comments »

Ah, 2011. We barely knew ya!

I mean, I think it’s an indication that I’m officially old since I’m still not used to writing 2011 on my checks and it’s already (almost) a new year. There’s also the fact that I still write checks…

Even though I’ve shared in lurid detail most everything that’s happened to me this past year, I thought you might enjoy a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of my highs and lows. So pour yourself that last cup of egg nog from the carton that’s hidden behind the leftover turkey in the back of the fridge and curl up here for a while. Tomorrow you can start your new work-out routine and burn off all that fat.

Best New Friend: Hands down this award goes to my gay work-husband. Read all about our celibate, incompatible-sexual-orientations love affair here.

Best Blog Experience: Attending BlogHer ’11 in keepin-it-classy, San Diego (In the immortal words of anchorman Ron Burgandy, “San Diego… Drink it in. It always goes down smooth.”)

Fave New Blogger Friends: Katrina from Working Moms Break and Nancy from Midlife Mixtape (even though she’s funnier than me).

Most Embarrassing Incident: When I emailed the moms in Kate’s class about getting together for a drink and the email was mistakenly forwarded on to the school staff. For several days any time one of the mothers responded with something like, “Hell ya, I need a drink!” the email went to every teacher and administrator. As if that wasn’t awkward enough, when the moms booze-buzz finally died down, the dads started up. Kate’s classroom is now referred to by the school staff as “The Drunk Tank.” Nice.

Favorite Video: The old tablecloth trick.

Favorite TV-Show-on-DVD Addiction: The Good Wife (and not just because Will Gardner is the super-rich immoral rep-tie-wearin’ TV-character version of my noble, journalist husband).

Best Concert I Never Attended: In early December we had tickets to Morrissey. The show was cancelled when his drummer suffered some sort of eye injury. Frankly Mr. Shankly any drummer worthy of playing with Morrissey should really be able to hold his own playing with one eye. Am I right, or am I right?

Best Thing Kate Learned How to Do: Read. Like, really pick up a book and wander off and read on her own. So incredibly cool.

Best Thing Paige Learned How to Do: Use the potty.

Thing I Will Not Miss from 2011: Diapers.

Thing I Will Miss from 2011: Having a child young enough to be in diapers.

Best Thing Mark Learned How to Do: Bake bread and make uh-mazing cocktails, thanks to these two books: Tartine Bread and The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. (I just found this cool video from the god of bread-breaking. Turns out he’s cute too!)

Best Thing I Learned How to Do: Nothing. I’ve never been one to relax. It’s just seemed like something lacking excitement. But this year the girls and I did a lot of reading in bed—as in me reading to them. And I LOVED it. We whiled away gloomy gray days this way, never getting out of our PJs. Turns out doing nothing IS fun—and I’m good at it! I also learned how to build excellent fires in the fireplace (something I’d always let the men-folk do) and make a delish roast chicken.

Best Thing Kate Taught Me: Summer camp songs. I suffered an entitled deprived childhood and never went to summer camp. At age 44, I’m finally making up for it.

Best Money We Spent: On a frighteningly-effective sleep specialist for our three-year-old night owl, Paige. If you ever need a kidney, Meg, I’m here for you.

Best Hand-Me-Down: My friends’ ellipitcal machine which I inherited when they paradoxically moved into a larger house where they didn’t have room for it.

Best Additions to our Family: Karen the male Siamese fighting fish, dearly-departed Carlos the shit-eating sea snail, and our newest snail, Slimy.

Crappiest Loss: The diamond necklace Mark gave me on our first anniversary. It went to Seattle with us and somehow never came back. I hope it’s set up a good life for itself up there, and that the rain doesn’t get to it. Maybe it’s playing in a band? Working at a coffee shop? Tossing fish at Pike Place Market? (Saint Anthony: It ain’t too late to return it to me.)

Worst Health Horror: My friend Lily getting cancer.

Best Parties I Attended: An ice cream social to celebrate the end of Lily’s chemo treatments, and an exceptionally fun and fruitful clothing swap.

Best Party I Threw: Mark’s surprise 40th birthday in Chicago. Thank you thank you to his wonderful college friends for being folks I’d want to be stuck on a desert island with. And that’s not only because two of them brew beer for a living.

Most-Often Repeated Sentence: “Mark just turned 40. Isn’t that so cute?”

Funniest Thing Said to Me: When I was wearing a long brown skirt, the work-husband said, “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman called. She wants her skirt back.” Then I laughed my latte out my nose.

Best Dinner Out: At Next in Chicago the day before Mark’s 40th. The theme was childhood, which was fitting. One of the courses came to us in 80′s-era lunchboxes, complete with hand-written notes from our parents. A witty, fun, and delish dinner.

Best Lunch Out: The next day at Kuma’s Corner, despite how tragically un-tattooed and square I seemed there. Amazing scene, beer, burgers.

Best Party Mark and I Threw: Our Fourth Annual Kid-Free Holiday Party. Something about it this year was extremely excellent, likely the perfect blend of awesome friends and deeply toxic bourbon punch.

Worst Geographical Re-Appointment: Our beloved gaybors moving out of the house next door. Thankfully, they’re just a half-mile away, and they still pop by to deliver fresh-baked treats.

Best Geographical Re-Appointment: My frienda Brenda from college moving to California. She’s now just an hour’s drive away, and when we get together we’re magically 19 again. (Though my hang-overs remind me we aren’t.)

Another Person I’m So Happy Moved Here: My friend Mike’s not-so-much-a-kid kid brother. It brings Mike and his mother around much more often, giving me more opportunities to pretend I’m part of their most-excellent family.

Most Frustrating Unsolved Mystery: My series of weird symptoms (numbness, joint pain, sarcasm) that cropped up this summer, which doctor’s have still not been able to diagnose.

Best Nature Encounter: Seeing two immense bald eagles on a dock near our friends’ house on Bainbridge Island.

Worst Nature Encounter: Mistakenly sticking my hand in a puddle of bald eagle poo. Or as I like to call it, “endangered feces.”

Best Clothing Purchase: My silver leather biker jacket I got from a vintage shop in Sacramento. I couldn’t decide whether it was ridiculous or the most bad-ass article of clothing I’d ever own. I got a thumbs up from my frienda Brenda, then three older well-dressed women who walked into the store essentially said they’d beat me up in the parking lot if I didn’t buy it. Thanks, ladies, for looking out for my fabulouslessness.

Saddest Hair Moment: Paige’s second-ever haircut which lopped off her baby curls.

Happiest Hair Moment: Connecting with my new hair diva, Jarrod, as a result of my former stylist selfishly moving to LA. I ADORE Jarrod. But beyond that, he’s given me an excellent hair year.

Best Freelance Gig: Working at Mamapedia, happily immersed in all things blog and mama-like.

Best Dumb-Ass Move: Taking out the side of my car in a parking garage.

Best Family Member I’ve Come to Know (and Love): Mark’s half-sis Ashley who moved to San Francisco. She’s a joy, and not just because she babysits.

Best Regularly-Scheduled Social Event: Does it mean I’m officially a middle-aged woman that I LOVE and look forward to my book group as much as I do?

Best Kids’ Books I Read: The Fairy Realm books (not to be confused with the atrocious and seemingly endless Rainbow Magic series) by Emily Rodda. Finally fairy-themed stories that are legit kid lit. The girls and I also loved Loveykins and Dahlia (which unfortunately appears to be out of print).

Longest—but Most Worthwhile—Book I Read: Anna Karenina. This is especially thrilling since I’m not always so good at finishing things. Check that off my bucket list! And I finished it yesterday, just in time for a fresh book in the new year.

Best New Tradition: Interviewing the girls on their birthdays.

Best Blog Post I Read (along with the rest of the universe): The Bloggess‘s metal chicken post.

Best motherload Blog Post: Hmmm. Not sure. I kinda liked the one about Karen the fish, and a lot of folks told me they liked Travel Don’ts. My gay husband was obsessed with my Principal Kate post.

Which brings me to…
Worst Travel Experience: My flight back from New York with the girls this summer. It’s a wonder I’ve left the house since.

Best Thing We Won: The raffle at the school auction which resulted in our kindergartener Kate being principal of her school for the day. (She was brilliant and clearly has a future in school administration. Or the presidency.)

Best Brush with Celebrity: Having Alyssa Milano follow me on Twitter. But it’s really on accounta the fact that she and Mark are Twitter geek buds. (Yes, I too was surprised that she is a geek.)

Worst Week of Parenting: When Mark was in Australia for work and Kate refused to change her underwear. Oh how I wish I was kidding about that.

Best Volunteer Work I Expected to Hate: Raising money for Kate’s school.

Most Interesting Dinner Companions: My sister Judy’s Egyptian student friends. Oh, and Mark’s new uber rich genius friend is also pretty fascinating, if you like hearing personal anecdotes about everyone from Stephen Hawking to Jane Fonda.

Best TV Extravaganza: The royal wedding, and the royal spread set out by my angophilic friend, Sacha. Special thanks to Beatrice for wearing that absurd hat.

Catch ya in the rear view, 2011. Onward and upward in 2012, a year that appeals to me in its even-number-ness, but moreover for its fresh, shiny newness.

And big love to my dazzling husband and not-always-exhausting daughters for making even the most mundane days adventures.

P.S. I forgot to say how proud I am of my sister for losing over 60 pounds this year! (I guess this means you want those jeans back.)

P.P.S. I just walked through my house before some guests arrive and decided on my New Year’s resolution: That my children learn how to flush the toilet in 2012.


Guest Blogger: Miss Paige

Posted: December 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Blogging, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Preschool | 3 Comments »

Once again I’ve let the indulgent act of living my life get in the way of recording it here. Apologies.

Yesterday as I grabbed Paige’s jacket at her preschool, I saw a row of poems the teachers had affixed above each child’s coat hook. And as I read Paige’s—my heart ablaze with pride and love—I had a maternal aha moment. A thought that rarely crosses my mind: I don’t have to do it all myself. Or more precisely, why do it all myself when I can enlist my child to do it for me?

I really think that child labor is under-utilized. It’s free! It’s there for the taking! And they don’t understand a thing about labor laws or minmum wage.

So then, to make up for my recent inability to cram blogging into my crazy-hectic days, I’ve enlisted the writerly stylings of my darling three year old, Paige. (She’s actually guest-blogged for me before.) Paige turns four next month, so I guess she’s really my three and eleven-twelfths year old. Whatever the case, at least I’m still not measuring her age in months. Am I the only one who hates hearing that someone’s child is 37 months old?

Whatever the case, you’re about to learn that Paige feels much older than her years anyway.

Here’s her above-her-coat-hook poem:

I am a flower.
I wonder if I can be a ballerina when I grow up.
I hear a snake hissing.
I see a baby tiger.
I want a treat from my Halloween candy.
I pretend I’m a baby tiger.
I feel like I’m a teenager.
I dream I’m purple.
I try to get my sister what she wants to do.
I am thankful for my big sister.
I am loving my big sister.
I am Paige.

If I get my act together in time for Christmas, I want to make a “sister” photo book for the girls with pictures of the two of them together. This poem screams out for inclusion in that book, don’t you think? Especially the part where submissive Little Sis Paigey tries “to get” her Big Sis “what she wants to do.”

I hope some day they’ll laugh about that, and not be processing it in a psychiatrist’s office.


Guest Blogger: Paigey

Posted: April 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Preschool, Working World | 4 Comments »

So I started a new job today.

Well—for now at least—it’s a part-time freelance thang. But I’m working in an office! In San Francisco! With other grown-ups!

I’m just like a big girl.

The gig is with a website for mamas. In fact, it’s called Mamapedia.com. So check it out, sister.

More on the work scene later. Right now I’m just fearful that actual paid employment could interfere with my ability to blog on a regular basis. But thankfully, I have back-up. In the form of a three-year-old. Specifically, my three-year-old.

Yes, today, for the first time in the esteemed five-year history of motherload, we have a guest blogger: Paigey.

Her post below, is actually a story she told to her preschool class. Paige has an eccentric yet wonderful teacher who carries around one of those geeky mini tape recorders to capture the cute crap the kids say. So this story—which she regaled upon the class at lunch recently—was captured verbatim.

And I don’t want to get all braggish, but the story just appeared in her classroom’s email newsletter. This is a publication that goes out to ALL the Huckleberry Room families. Which is something like 16 in all. So yes, Paige has been published. (Are you listening, Harvard?!)

Without further blather, I give you an original tale told by Miss Paige.

There’s a big giant pink castle with two princesses, who were both moms. And their child. And the cows went out, and picked flowers for their mom. And then they went back in and they were so happy. And then a farmer came in. And then, um, the farmer he…the end.

And they had good manners. And then the good manners said ‘Hey, what’s that game?’  And then they went walking along the bed. Walking along on its head.

Chapter One: “The Dragon.” The dragon was sleeping in his cave. The people were sleeping in their bed, too. And it was night and the dragon waked up and she was named Lindsey. She was the girl. She flied in the air and goed to her friend’s house. She said “Hi, friends, I’m named Lindsey.” She flew off to her grandma’s house.

Chapter Two: “The Guy.” The guy was sleeping in his coat. And they were stunning. Then there was a dragon coming. Then he closed his door. And then he went back to his house to take a (?).

Chapter One. “The Bird.” The bird was in her cage. And then the cave fox walked along with his… and then he was walking…”

And just like that, on the second Chapter One (which I find very innovative, don’t you?) the tale suddenly ends. Perhaps it’s Paige’s wish that we determine the outcome of it all ourselves—the fox, the bird, the lesbian princess moms, and let’s not forget the flower-picking cow or “the guy.”

A special hearty thank you to the masterful Paigey Wigs for graciously stepping in today as guest blogger. Now that I’m working again it’s reassuring knowing there’s someone else out there helping me carry the load.

As they say, it takes a village.