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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Author: toni

~ 02/03/11


A friend called me the other night. She was crying. She had just heard that another friend of hers was in the final days of his cancer battle. She said she wasn’t sure why she had called me. I had never even met her friend. Still, she said, she just wanted to hear my voice. Then she said she was sorry she called and bugged me.

To this I say… Friendship means never having to say you’re sorry. 


Yeah. I know  the REAL saying is “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”. But to me, friendship and love are the same.

There are few things in life that can’t be made better simply by the sound of a good friend’s voice. It’s not a cure-all. But it’s a balm. A salve for an aching soul.

Unlike family, we CHOOSE our friends. And if we choose carefully, these relationships can really help us traverse the rocky road of life. And as we all know, it can get pretty rocky at times.

My friends have helped me through some of the bigger bumps. Heck, in some cases they have held my hand as I crossed a tightrope over a bottomless crevasse. All the while encouraging me to not look down. To keep my eye on the light at the end of the tunnel. Even when that light was nothing but a pin dot.

They’ve been with me through good times too. That’s the easy part. Okay, maybe it’s not always so easy, like the times when I force ask my friends to karaoke on my birthday. But that’s just once a year. I’d do it for you!

The true test of friendship is when the difficult times come. Not everyone can handle those. Not everyone is true friend material. 

I hope that I am a true friend to my friends. I try to be. I try to give as good as I get. 

And offering up some soothing words or just listening is the least I can do. 

So NEVER apologize for taking my time in your time of need. Know why? Because…

Friendship (and by that I mean LOVE) means never having to say your sorry.

It DOES, however, mean that you will occasionally have to karaoke.

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Author: toni

~ 01/07/11



MOM #1: Want to go for a cup of coffee after drop-off?

MOM #2: Can’t. Got to get home and clean. My cleaning lady is coming today.


Bizarre but true. Most women I know who have someone come and clean their home feel compelled to actually CLEAN before the cleaning person comes. Why you ask?

Well, after talking to many moms and doing a little much-needed soul searching, I have found that there is more than one reason for this.  And sometimes, these reasons work in tandem to create this bizarre and, yes I’ll say it, ridiculous behavior.


1) We’re hard-wired to please.

2) We don’t want the cleaning person to think we’re dirty.

3) We have to get rid of the mess on top of the dirt so they can actually get to the dirt to clean it.

4) We don’t want to seem rude.

5) We live in mortal fear that they will discuss our personal dirt with one of our neighbors for whom they also do housework.


This strange pre-cleaning cleaning is not only exhibited in stay-at-home moms who, arguably, have a more flexible schedule that allows them to more easily engage in this baffling ritual. Nope, it is also a common phenomenon displayed in even the most haggard, overly-booked and stretched beyond her limits working mother who barely has time to shave her legs in the shower let alone pick up for someone whom she is specifically paying to pick up.

Even I, a working mom who works out of my home, have been guilty of this. Because it mortifies me to think that, while I am typing away at my computer, my cleaning person  is in the bathroom next to my office quietly judging the condition of my toilet. Or that she shares the details of my family’s personal hygiene with friends over margaritas. Ew.

I mean, how can I look her in the eye knowing that behind  her smile she is secretly replused by the little hair clippings I may have neglected to brush out of the corner of my countertop last time I got too impatient to wait for my next hair appointment and took my dull scissors to my bangs. (Sorry Patrice, but yes, you’re going to have to fix those….AGAIN.)

I don’t know what the solution is. Meditation. Xanax. Growing out my bangs.

Until I figure it out, I will continue my pre-cleaning cleaning compulsion. And continue to wish that the complusion manifested itself WITHOUT the impending visit from my cleaning person. It’d sure save me a few bucks. Sigh.

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Author: toni

~ 01/01/11


Well, here it is. Another year. And no matter how I try to stop time, it simply refuses to bend to my will. Everything around me is changing. Lines form around the eyes. Parents get older. My kid starts asking the difficult questions like “Where did the legend of Dracula start and why does garlic gross him out?”  

I kid you not. I spent a good part of yesterday while we were shopping/returning  telling her the history of Vlad the Impaler which then led to a whole discussion of how the fear of the atomic bomb influenced 1950s filmmaking resulting in movies about giant spiders and the like. She was shocked to learn that the original “duck and cover” was a safety drill in case of an A-Bomb attack  and not prep for the big earthquake.

Anyway, it’s little milestones like my kid asking me if the Egyptians believed in mummys coming to life or if it was more of a  20th century idea that makes me keenly aware of  the infernal passage of time.

Thing is. I don’t FEEL like I’m getting older. Well, except when I have to bend to get the tupperware out from under the cabinet where I put it when my knees where 6 years younger. And it’s not so much that my knees hurt or anything when I bend to get it. It’s more that I SIMPLY DON’T HAVE THE DESIRE to bend.

I think that’s where it starts. The whole aging thing. It affects the desire first. Then it moves on from there. I’m noticing I’m having a lot less desire for a lot of things I used to eagerly do. Like jumping out of bed and exercising first thing in the morning. Or cleaning out the crumbs from the corners of my kitchen drawers. Or lying on my back on the grass on a chilly night to watch a meteor shower. Or staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Yeah. I stayed up. But only because my kid did. It’s still a big deal to her. She’s only 8. SHE STILL HAS THE DESIRE.

Truth is. She’s what’s keeping me young. She’s the reason I stroll Disneyland for 14 hours at a pop. Heck, she’s the reason I go to Disneyland at all. She helps me to see things the way I used to. With the excitement and awe of a newbie. I owe a lot to her.

For the other things in my life for which she cannot inspire the DESIRE, I shall have to find it on my own. And that brings me to my New Year’s Resolution.

I resolve to rediscover my desire.

My desire to engage. To laugh. To enjoy. To see things in a fresh way. My desire to better myself. To continue to learn new things. My desire to see the glass half full instead of empty. My desire to work everyday to make everything around me better. My life. My marriage. My friendships. My earth.

The thing I know about desire. Is that while it may not be evident. It is there. Sometimes buried under a pile of work, or laundry or exhaustion. But if you make the effort to find it, it quickly reawakens. And then you wonder why you don’t make the effort more often. Because desire feels good! And so do its results.

So this year, more desire!

But first… a quick nap!


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Author: toni

~ 12/28/10



Okay. Last year we bought this advent calendar in the shape of a Santa at Target’s after Christmas clearance. And this year we began a “tradition”  where every night on the 25 days of December leading up to Christmas, the elves come and bring Julia a little something.

I know I know. Over-indulgence.  Believe you me, I wouldn’t have started this lovely tradition except my friend JENNIE does this every year with her two boys JAKE and ZACH. And last Christmas every day on the way to school Julia was privvy to their excited ramblings about what the elves brought them the night before. Naturally, she wanted to know why the heck the elves came to them but not to such a nice, well-behaved young lady as herself. Being a tale-spinner from way back, I tried to spin some tale about different families and different holiday traditions starting hundreds of years ago. But she wasn’t having any of it. And thus, a tradition was born.

As if I didn’t have enough to do prepping for the holidays. Now I also have to come up with something clever every night for 25 nights for the elves to bring! And since Julia is up at the crack of dawn and sometimes she falls asleep AFTER me, I’ve often had to tip-toe downstairs at 4 am to put something in the #$%@# calendar.

Anyway, one of the things the elves bring is money. Coins. Quarters, dimes, nickels. And since we have started this tradition (three weeks ago now)  Julia has been like a magpie and squirreled away everything she’s gotten from the elves in a shoebox that she calls her “trinket box”. Even the chocolates. Don’t ask me why. It’s probably that same gene that (when I was a kid) made my Halloween candy last from October until May (much to the dismay of my brothers who downed theirs in a day).

That was a whole big preface to what happened this weekend.

So we got back from errands and while I went to wrap gifts with my newly acquired wrapping paper, Julia made a beeline for the potty. Right on schedule as she’d had her Saturday morning donut and milk just an hour before. She’s nothing if not regular.

Anyway. suddenly, mid-wrap I hear a blood-curdling SCREAM come from the bathroom. My mommy mind immediately went to all manner of horrific scenarios including one in which she somehow managed to slip off the potty into the tub, cracking her head on the faucet. “I knew it was too soon to take the rubber polar bear faucet cover off!” I thought as I raced to the bathroom.

I FLUNG open the door. She stood there, bare butted, in front of the toilet SOBBING.

ME: Jules! What’s wrong?!

JULIA: My nickel. It fell in the toilet!

ME: What are you talking about? What nickel?

JULIA: My nickel from the elves!

Sure enough, she was holding her “trinket box” full of chocolates and coins and wind-up Santas.

TONI: What were you doing looking at your trinket box while you were going potty?

JULIA: I don’t know. I just was. Mom! You HAVE to get it!

ME: Honey. It’s just a nickel.

JULIA: No. The ELVES brought it! It’s special!

Ah yes. The “special” nickel. What have I wrought?

I looked down in the toilet. I saw a LOT of stuff but no nickel.

ME: Uh, I don’t see it. Maybe it didn’t fall in there.

JULIA: It did! It did! Get it mamma! Pleeeeeease!

I love my kid. And I’ll do almost anything for her. And I have gone through great lengths to impress upon her the importance of saving money and not being wasteful. But there’s waste and then there’s WASTE.

I drew the line. And by drawing the line, I mean I lied.

ME:  Julia. I’m sure you didn’t lose a nickel in there.  I’m sure it’s on the floor.

JULIA: (calming down) Really?

ME: I’m positive.

Knowing it probably wasn’t on the floor, I planned on planting a substitute somewhere on the floor when she wasn’t looking.

ME: Now pull up your pants and then I’ll help you look.

JULIA: Okay.

As she pulled up her pants, I flushed the toilet. And as I did… the loud CLINK CLINK CLINKING of metal being swished around the porcelain bowl could distinctly be heard. And we both saw a flash of silver just before the bowl emptied with a rush of water.


Sigh. Guess tomorrow calls for an extra  special gift from the elves. Maybe a Webkinz? Thanks a lot Jennie.

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Author: toni

~ 12/07/10


Have you ever been involved in a mommy carpool where you switch off with another mom for drop-off or pick up at school? And if so, have you ever been ONE BOOSTER SEAT SHORT because you forgot it in your husband’s car or forgot to switch back with the other mom?

If you’re like me, you HAVE at one time or another found yourself short on a car seat. And not only are the safety implications overwhelming. You are also faced with the horrific dilemma, pondering the most dreaded of all questions.


Oh yeah. You’ve been there. I know you have. And it’s a tough decision, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like the days when we were kids and we called dibs on riding shotgun at age 4. Or we battled over who got to lay down in the back of the station wagon while on that 400 mile car trip to Grandma’s. Heck, forget child safety seats. We didn’t even use seat belts! I don’t know about you but our seat belts were nothing but an space-consuming annoyance (we had 4 kids!) and pretty much ended up stuffed inside the crack of the seat only to emerge on the rare occasion when one of us rooted around in there in search of a lost quarter.

Nowadays we mommies know better. Because we have been bombarded with (and by “bombarded with” I mean we have obsessively GOOGLED) statistics about child survival rates in car accidents where a child WAS NOT in a child safety seat. So we’re pretty much horrified at the prospect of any child going without.

So what do you do when you’re one car seat short and you can’t get ahold of another mommy to bring you a spare?

If you are like me and every mommy I know, the answer, while not simple, is obvious.


It’s true, in the couple of instances it happened to me, my daughter went without. And I’m not the only one who has made this decision.

My MAMMAKAZE carpooling friend did the same recently. When she forgot to get the booster seat back from me after I did drop off, she put my daughter in the booster and her SON  went without! This is in spite of the fact that my kid is only 2 inches away from legally being without one and her son is more along the line of 6 inches away. And we’re not the only ones! I’ve polled other moms and they’ve made THE EXACT SAME DECISION!

Crazy, isn’t it? Despite the fact that nature has wired us to protect our children at all costs  (I mean who wouldn’t choose to give the seat on the lifeboat to their kid instead of taking it themselves?) this car seat situation is one instance in which all those millions of years of biological hard-wiring are COMPLETELY OVERRIDDEN.

Why is that? Why would a parent choose the safety of another’s child over theirs? Well the answer is simple.

We don’t want to seem rude.

No kidding. The horror of being whispered about in coffee klatches around town behind our backs – of being labelled “that selfish mom”, it’s enough to short-circuits the synapses. 

Okay. It’s not as simple as that.  The truth is, this choice is all about the question:  Could we live with ourselves if something happened to the precious child of a good friend entrusted to our care? On the flip side is: Could we live with ourselves if something happened to our own child? I mean, not since ABRAHAM has a parent had been faced with such a dilemma! Okay, I exaggerate. At the very least, it’s a maddening CATCH 22 with no good solution!

So in order to cope, in order to prevent being frozen in our tracks, incapable of doing anything, we simply BOIL IT DOWN to … not wanting to be RUDE.

After all rude behavior is well, RUDE! Plain. Simple. Easy.

And while Emily Post may have never written rules on the subject, in the unwritten book of Mommy Etiquette it is the appropriate thing to do. You know, like letting the mommy with the green light pull into the drop-off lane because SHE HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY instead of making that right turn on a red and cutting her off to get into that drop-off lane first! (Are you reading this mommy in the white Mercedes?!)

Anyway, I don’t know what the answer to the problem is. Hauling an extra car seat around seems extreme. But then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best on that 1.5 mile car ride home is pretty iffy. Especially if you’ve read the statistics stating that most car accidents happen within five miles of home – which I know you have because GOOGLE is a mommy’s worst best friend – next to WEBMD.

I can’t think about it right now. I need to hit the internet and try to self-diagnose this patchy area on my right forearm before pick-up. Wait. Where did I put the extra booster?


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Author: toni

~ 11/21/10


Okay, let’s dispense with the reality up front. Yes, of course I am most thankful for my family, our good health, the fortunate life we lead, yadda yadda yadda. That goes without saying, well except that I felt I had to say it. You know, to make sure you all know that I’m not a complete, superficial jerk.

However, I am woman enough to admit that there are some things, yes….some superficial things, for which I am also grateful.

Oh come on. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.  You have them too. Well, here are mine. Not in any particular order because, well, that takes too much thought.  And the holidays are coming and you’re lucky I’m posting anything at all!


1. Hair color.

2. Friends who are professional hair stylists and work out of their garage so they have no overhead and can therefore cover my grays add shine and shimmer to my locks at a discounted rate (thanks Patrice!)

3. Simply put… Coffee

4. Two-ply toilet paper that doesn’t pill – yeah, you ladies know what I’m talkin’ about.

5. The REMOVE button on Facebook

6. Trader Joes – healthy food, not much thinking, ‘nuf said.

7. Juice It Up Smoothies – the only way I can get fruit into my kid.  Thanks Terry and Zorka!

8. Digital cameras with endless memory so I can chronicle every second of my kid’s existence without paying the big $$$$$$$ on developing like we did the generation before us did in the stone ages.

9. Flip Flops – Like Linus on “Peanuts” who goes crazy when he becomes aware of his tongue, I LOATHE the “awareness” of my toes jammed into dark, cramped spaces.

10. All those studies that say dark chocolate is good for you.

11. Waxed dental floss

12. Molded bras – Man, the twins get cold! Also, a good solution for assymetry, uh, not that I need it.

13. Netflix on demand – A nice way to immediately satisfy my jones for “Zombieland” and “The Young Victoria” in one sitting!

14. Sting/ Sheryl Crow and that Train song about the lipstick stain on the front lobe of his left side brain.

15. The pitch shifter on the karaoke machine – my family and neighbors… also thankful.

16. Those Mr. Clean Magic sponges. They’re freaking magic!

17. Kids Eat Free coupons.

18. Caller ID… I won’t go into details on whom I am screening… in case they’re reading this…

19. A husband in the bedroom with bad eyesight… until he gets lasik in which case I am now grateful for….

20.  ….the lowest setting on the three-way bulb in the bedside table lamp.



And there you have it. And now you know what zombies and Queen Victoria have in common. Me!

Wishing all you MAMMAKAZES a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving filled with love and family and kids and all the good things in life.

And thank you for your continued support of my website.


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