July 2015

Done With the Dating Game

I am married. Although my blog’s title, Four Kids and a Dog doesn’t shout out, Hey! I’ve got a husband too…I indeed do. I spent treacherous years leading up to meeting my Mr. in the dating battlefield.

My teen years provided particularly tumultuous dating drama.

106 KMEL Jams, a popular Bay Area radio station, featured a boy selection. I guess as a young teenager it seemed like a good idea to call a radio station and win a boyfriend. After many tries, I finally got through.

I scored the dude’s digits via the radio station; weight (yes, weight!), height and name. To this day, I remember that he weighed 135 lbs. and was 6 foot something. I’d had to ask friends if that was really skinny or or not.

Turns out it is.

We set up a time and place to meet. I’ll never forget potential boyfriend asking me nervously, over the phone,

“do you party?”

Party balloons, birthday cake and presents flooded my naive little mind. “Yeah! I love to party!

“Cool. Me too.” He seemed stoked, maybe a little relieved that we had this common link.

I later decided he wasn’t talking that kind of party. But, I might’ve sounded cool, and like I knew what I was talking about anyway.

We set up a time and place to meet. Since I didn’t drive yet, I’d asked my older, driving friend, to take me to meet Long and Lanky “Larry”, I’ll call him.

I’d primped and prepped. My bangs were aquanetted into their rigid holding pattern; blue mascara, carefully applied. I was nervous. He could be the guy.

We rolled up to McDonald’s, which, at nightfall in sleepy little downtown Walnut Creek was the happenin’ location. I tried hard to look casual as I breathed in the warm aroma of grease and burgers. Loitering teens gathered in various parking lot groups, with nearby cars beat boxing “hella good” rap from their Circuit City car stereos.

I spotted Larry immediately. He loped over and laid his removable car stereo on the formica table between us. Our conversation was forced and uncomfortable. Larry was no looker. We left. I never called him or dial a dude, on KMEL, ever again.

There was the time, a few years later, that my date took me to a fancy dinner in San Francisco. Over dinner, he kept ordering alcoholic beverages using his fake ID. By the end of our meal, he was totally smashed.

I had to be the sober driver and get us back home. In those pre-GPS days, I got lost. A lot. Passed out date, was no help. He lay reclined in the passenger seat and I was on my own.
I became hopelessly lost. Instead of the Bay Bridge, I somehow managed to take the Benecia Bridge, heading the opposite direction.

Low on gas, and hope, I pulled over and decided to try let loser date sleep it off, then drive us both home. Like a hibernating bear, eventually he awoke. In the wee hours of the morning we made it back safely.


Then there was bonehead Navy guy. He claimed to be a Navy Seal, although I had serious doubts. The guy had the body of Hercules and the brains of a frog. Our conversations weren’t thought provoking, to be sure. I recall the night I broke up with him.

He pulled up to my house in his topless Jeep. It was pouring rain. I said what I’d rehearsed about needing to move on. He had no response during my speech. His parting words, as he walked out the door and into the storm, were “well, you still smell good”.

Ummm. I’ll keep that in mind. Thank you, Pear Glacé.

After years of no go relationships I’d seriously wondered if a) normal guys existed and b) if I’d ever find Mr. Right.

So, that night at the college party, when I’d literally stumbled into a guy with his friends, and offered him a shot of Popov in the weathered, beaten down college kid backyard, my hopes weren’t exactly soaring. I wasn’t even sure he was taller than I, a steadfast necessity on my list of dating criteria. At 5’11”, it could be a true stumbling block. I penned my name and phone number across his arm with an orange marker.


Paul called the next day. I liked his old fashioned name. He was tall enough. Taller, actually. I could wear my strappy black heels and not feel like a Sasquatch next to him. Things were looking up.image

Our first date was one week before Valentine’s Day. Nothing too fancy. Paul took me to Claim Jumper. We talked and talked and our conversation never faded. He was so normal. Nice. Smart. Handsome. As I gazed at him across from me, the thought occurred to me. I could totally see myself marrying this guy.

Paul stepped it up a few notches and took me to a schnazzy little place on Coronado for our first Valentine’s Day. In preparation for the big date, he’d spent the day detailing his red Ford Escort. He even presented me with beautiful flowers.image

That was nearly 20 years ago.

We’ve weathered many storms in our 15 years of marriage and four years of dating. It’s no easy gig. Life happens. Stuff can get complicated. After almost two decades together, we’ve learned that regular date nights are vital. When we can swing them, weekend getaways, sans kids, are even better.image

We’re opposites. But, we compliment each other. Recently Paul took a personality test at work. Not surprisingly, results said that his calm personality type ranked among only 10% of people in the world. He keeps me grounded; I keep him flying.

Four kids and one dog later, we’re happily married. Together nineteen years and counting.image

Fat: Why it’s a Bad Word in Our Home

Swimsuit season has arrived. Ready or not, thousands of nearly nude sunshine seekers, of all ages, are flocking to beaches and pools. As moms we must decide if we’ll partake, or watch from the sidelines.

I grew up skinny. Never thought twice about what I put in my mouth. Friends joked that I had a tape-worm, since I could eat anything I wanted and never gain an ounce. But, by high school, I’d developed an unhealthy relationship with food. I had to be skinnier. Smaller. Obsessed about the size of my newfound teen curves, I spent hours in front of the mirror, at the gym and pouring over weight loss literature.

As a kid, I remember my mom dieting constantly. Mom wasn’t obese, but wasn’t thin either. She was always trying to lose weight. Weight. Diet. Calories. Fat. These were all words that were common in my home growing up. While my mom didn’t force any of us kids to diet, she was careful to provide low fat food. Strangely enough, there was little or no emphasis placed on exercise.

To my whole hearted dismay, junk food rarely crossed the threshold of our childhood home. No sugar cereals, no chips or packaged cookies. The standard after school snack at our house in the 80’s was graham crackers and apples. Every single night we choked down dark, leafy green salad with chopped scallions and vinaigrette.

Thin is in. Just standing in line at the market, we are inundated with magazine covers telling us how to lose weight. Society seems to be dabbling in plus sized, curvier bodies; but slim still wins.

imageI realize the impact that we, as moms, have on our children. Kids are always watching; imitating us. As a mom, I’m extremely cautious about how and when I use that F word; especially around my daughters. In our house, fat is a word we try to avoid.

Gone are the days of endlessly obsessing over my weight and size. But, naturally I still have a few body image hang-ups. When I declare that I’m going to exercise, I explain that I exercise to stay healthy and strong. True. I do not add the other reasons. I also drag myself to the gym to sweat off those ever growing saddlebags, chisel the caboose, say goodbye to the unlovely love handles and melt that tummy and that really hasn’t fully recovered from birthing four offspring (and probably never will).

imageI don’t want any of my kids to develop unhealthy relationships with food, like I once had. I want them to eat nutritious foods and exercise to be fit. We talk about making good food choices and living active lives. When they want ice cream for breakfast, we discuss how that’s not a healthy choice for our bodies. My white carbohydrate loving daughter would eat only white rice or plain noodles for each meal, if I allowed it. I’m constantly fighting the battle of re-directing her choices. I’m careful about how I word my suggestions.

My personal battle of the bulge is daily fight. Every day I choose what food I put in my mouth. Fried versus baked. To butter or not to butter. Cheese, oh how I love thee. Chocolate, wine and everything fine. Portion control. And they’re watching. There are four impressionable young kids who are eyeballing me. The struggle is real.

imageOn our family vacation, I was quite aware that all of those 5:30 am cycle classes hadn’t quite done the trick. Instead of hiding out in a cover up, poolside, I got out there. My kids and I took full advantage of the hotel waterslides and pools. I was definitely self conscious about the bikini situation.  However, it was more important to make lifelong family memories, than worry about bulges and misplaced jiggle.

So, to the old man with whom I recently crossed paths at Costco, who slowly looked me up and down, then with squinty eyes proclaimed, “well, I can tell that you like to eat”, yes, yes…I do. Thank you for noticing.  And I shall continue to eat. I will model healthy food choices, exercise and bravely go where no mom in a bikini has gone before; all in the name of blazing positive trails for my kids.