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Trying Not To Sound Like Doogie Howser, MD

You can tell yourself these people started out as exceptional.  You can tell yourself they had influence before they started.  You can tell yourself the conditions under which they achieved were different from yours. 

Or you can be like a woman I knew who sat at her kitchen window year after year and watched everyone else do it and then said to herself, “It’s my turn.”

I was  37 years old at the time— Erma Bombeck

So, I’m a year behind Erma, but starting a blog or two is something that has been on my mind for quite a while.  I’ve always been afraid it would wind up sounding like the final scenes of a Doogie Howser, MD, episode where we’d see the lesson learned appear letter by white letter on the blue  computer screen.  To be completely honest, the inspirational nineties music is blaring in my head right now…

As I said, I’m a year behind Erma, and forty is coming at me fast.  I’m in a different place than I imagined, not worse by any means, just different.  I’ve started this to chronicle me getting my ish together, as the kids say (I think they still say that? Anyone??) and as motivation to try things I haven’t before.  My goal is to close out my thirties strong, and enter my forties having tried some things that I have put off until now.  Strap on a helmet, it’s bound to get interesting…

 

 

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Bag of Hair Blues…

So, the last month has been pretty heavily consumed with moving stuff. I go back and forth between, “I’ve totally got this, it’s all manageable and under control” and “HOLY FORKING SHIRTBALLS THE MOVERS ARE COMING!” (This was the second most famous phrase by Paul Revere) I may also be watching The Good Place when I have a moment… (according to the wise sages who write BuzzFeed quizzes, I’m a combo of Chidi and Janet- in case anyone was wondering)

Okay, back on topic now. Moving means sorting and trying to purge. If I do say so myself, I’m doing a much better job than I have in past moves and have managed to get rid of a lot. I do not like purging. Some of it is I’m always convinced as soon as I get rid of something I’m going to need it. The fact that I’ve found some, um, interesting surprises while cleaning out in the past also significantly factors into my reluctance. However, Marie Kondo would totally give me a gold star right now… until she saw my dresser.

My dresser has a problem. It kind of looks like it could belong to a serial killer. You may be asking why right now…Is there a dark side to me that you never knew about? Are we about to learn about an ill-advised goth phase in my past?

No.

It’s just that my dresser happens to be home to a bag of hair and some teeth that are not mine.

I guess I need to explain more.

Let’s start with the bag of hair. When Big Ginger was about fifteen months old, we took him for his first hair cut. We were still living in Germany and I grabbed a Ziploc bag on my way out the door, thinking I might want to save a lock of hair from his first haircut. We got to the hairdressers and I explained (I thought) that I just wanted the first lock of hair to save. She gave me a strange look but said okay. BG was seated with Father of Gingers and the haircut started. I stood there clutching my sandwich baggie, possibly with a few tears welling up in my eyes, and she handed me the first lock of hair. I put it in the bag carefully, and got ready seal it up, and then, before I knew it, the hair dresser was handing me another lock of hair, I accepted it, and tucked it in next to the first.

Then she gave me another. And another. I kept on collecting locks of hair in my little Ziploc baggie while trying to figure out if there was a way to politely ask her to please stop giving me hair. I couldn’t come up with anything and resigned myself to being the weird American with the bag of hair. We brought it home and I couldn’t bring myself to reach in and pull out a chunk for safe keeping, so I put it in my dresser and didn’t think much more of it. I took BG to a different barber shop from then on so I wouldn’t have to be the “weird bag of hair chick” or worse, find myself with an ever-growing collection of bags of hair. That’s how you wind up on the news, and not in a good way.

The teeth were less of a cultural misunderstanding situation and more a “I’m not exactly sure what to do about this” scenario. BG started losing teeth a few years ago and I felt weird throwing out a piece of my kid. Also, FoG was traveling for work and I didn’t want him to miss out on the full experience. I should probably also mention at that time Little Ginger was still waking up twice a night and I was running on four-ish hours of sleep on a good night. My decision -making processes may not have been at their most coherent. So, I now have a little drawer full of teeth.

And my dresser has a creepy vibe.

I guess on the upside it’s not a shrunken head, right?

Maybe it’s time for me to look into Swedish death cleaning?

Your move, Marie Kondo.

Lamaze breathing, repurposed…

So, the gingers are safely with their grandparents and Father of Gingers and I are in England looking around at places to live/ having an early tenth anniversary trip.

FoG arrived early for work and I caught up with him yesterday. The flight over was so nice and peaceful, and I loved having some travel time to myself. As I might have mentioned before, I’m in one of my favorite countries, as I’m might have mentioned before, and I’m ready to start this adventure. Nowthat we’re all up to speed…

When I’m not dreaming of high school the other stress dream/ nightmare I’ve had for years, pretty much since I learned to drive- is that I’m trying to dive the car from the wrong seat and having to reach over to use the steering wheel. As we’ve discussed before, I REALLY like having things under control, so I think it’s safe to assume the dream is about my control freak tendencies has something to do with that.

Well, yesterday I was literally living the dream.

FoG picked me up from the train station, I hopped into my seat, looked for the steering wheel, noticed it was AWOL, and then remembered I was in England. In my defense, I didn’t sleep on the plane so I’d been up for about twenty-six hours at that point. I pulled myself together and got ready to get back on the road. I should probably mention that FoG was on day two of driving on the wrong (to us) side of the road.

Then I tried to grab the gear shift.

At that point I decided it was best to hold the phone in my right hand while watching the map to reduce the temptation to grab the gearshift. I sat on the left, looked out the window with a view unobstructed by steering wheel or dashboard instruments and quietly chanted, “It’s okay, it’s okay” to myself. I’d take breaks in chanting to assist with navigating and reassure FoG this was not editorializing on his driving. Fortunately he was totally understanding and had bigger fish to fry. Right hand turns have taken on a whole new meaning in his world, mine too.

We’ve now made several car trips without incident.

On a related note- both Gingers signed on to our organization via C-section so I always assumed those hours we spent in childbirth classes before Big Ginger were just a write off. Now I’m happy to report those breathing and relaxation techniques are excellent for working through learning to be on the wrong side of the car and/or feeing like you’re in a stress dream.

I don’t think I’ll be attempting to drive on this trip since it’s going to be a short one. Also, I have a feeling it’s going to take a while if my original leaning to drive experience is anything to go on. I’m also flirting with the idea of writing a book, this would definitely give me some serious material. I should probably brush up on my breathing techniques too..

But Does It Spark Joy?

So, I was chatting with my aunt the other day (I have been very lucky to have a ton of support from my family as I’ve started this whole blogging thing) and she reminded me of an escapade that I had written on a list of topics to write about but then forgotten about (or possibly suppressed, you’ll understand in a second)…

This all took place back before Father of Gingers and I started the whole Parents of Gingers circus act collaboration that is our life today. At the time we were living in Germany and had been married almost two years. It had been a very eventful two years, with a trans- Atlantic move, lots of travel, new jobs, and a guest room fire- just to name a few highlights.

It was summer time and we were headed back to the States to see friends and family. Due to the fact the trip wasn’t very long, we had decided to each go visit our grandparents separately. I went to see my Gran in Texas and future Father of Gingers (FFoG?) was off to Michigan.

I should take a minute here to explain my Gran. Honestly, there’s enough material for several posts but I want to keep this short today. We will be coming back to her, especially as I seem to have reincarnated her in Little Ginger, whom we frequently call ReGran. I guess the fastest way to sum up Gran for this post is- she was a red-headed army nurse in the Pacific during the Second World War, and there were combat boots involved. She was eighty-eight when this happened, living on her own with an aide that came in daily to help her with errands since Gran was no longer driving.

Gran was the original Ginger and my gingers often remind me of her. Big Ginger is named for that set of grandparents, and as I said before sometimes Little Ginger is just my Gran in a toddler body. I never feel Gran’s presence more strongly than I do when I’m trying to unload/reload the dishwasher and Little Ginger feels compelled to supervise.

Gran liked to stay busy, to the point where I was usually totally exhausted by the end of the visit. There was always something we could be doing, dusting off the top of kitchen cabinets, unloading a dishwasher, going through a closet or drawers to clean out any clutter. On this visit, she decided she would really like to go though some filing cabinets that had not been sorted since my grandfather had passed away. I agreed that we could do that (we were going to do it either way, if I’m being honest) so her aide and I got to work.

We got through the first few drawers of the filing cabinet fairly quickly and purged what needed to be purged. Then we got to the top of the filing cabinet, and it was one of those cabinets where the top drawer opened up towards you then slid in, kind of like a garage door, giving shelf space to store things. The key that opened the bottom drawers did not open the top drawer, and it was the only one we had. Fortunately my grandfather had decided that basic lock picking was a skill I should learn when I was a teenager. He was absolutely right and it has definitely come in handy more times than many other things I learned as a teenager- looking at you Trigonometry.

I told Gran and her aide that I thought I could probably get the lock open and got the go-ahead. A few minutes later-success! I lifted the drawer to slide it back, promptly shrieked and let the door slam shut. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’re probably wondering what kind of woodland creature I ran afoul of this time?You be justified in wondering that. Totally justified and completely wrong. Not every traumatic event in my life has been the fault of a woodland creature; although it does seem to be a bit disproportionate compared to other people I’ve talked to. Even without getting into the time a mouse died in my office at the retirement home…

Anyway- back to the filing cabinet.

I opened it again, convinced I couldn’t possibly have seen what I thought I saw, but the fact that Gran’s aide looked equally horrified gave me the sinking feeling I was right. And, yup, there it was, sitting in a display case; a freaking shrunken head! As I sat there, stunned, wondering how this was possibly my life, Gran peered over my shoulder to see what the fuss was about and matter of factly said:

“Oh, I wondered where that had gotten to… It used to be part of a set.”

Other families have salt and pepper shakers that are part of sets and handed down. Or vases, or heirloom quilts. You never hear about anyone fighting over who gets the shrunken heads. Maybe it does happen and it just doesn’t come up in conversation? I just don’t know.

I don’t remember much about what happened after that, I guess a surprise shrunken head when you’re expecting to find decades-old tax returns will do that to a person. I do remember Mexican food and beer were part of the afternoon. It was medicinal at that point. I talked to FoG on the phone that night. He was telling me about his very busy (but surplus head-free) day he had with his grandparents and said he was exhausted. I announced I’d picked a filing cabinet lock and found a shrunken head. I won the conversation/ who’s the most tired contest.

The rest of the visit with my Gran passed unremarkably, and I made a mental note to let my mother and her siblings know about the plus 1/4ish of a person hanging out in the filing cabinet.

I can’t help but wonder what Marie Kondo would have said about the whole situation.

***I should note here that later on after further discussion, it was determined that the shrunken head was not a real one but a souvenir that had been picked up during my grandparents’ time living in South America. So, the good news was I had not disturbed someone’s head. Be grateful for the small things in life, I always say. Whether it’s sunshine or the fact you didn’t get surprised by authentic human remains, just imitation.

The whereabouts of the other half of the set remain unknown.

Circle of Life (ish)

So this is a totally random post, but I felt like it was time for some more nature-based perspective.

A couple of years ago, when Little Ginger was really little and Big Ginger was in preschool we were careening through our days, one of us on less sleep than she thought humanly possible, one who slept whenever the mood struck her, and one who had probably taken a solemn vow against sleeping past sunup at birth.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was who.

One day after coming home from the preschool/ drive through mandatory caffeine Starbucks run, we pulled into the parking space.  I immediately told Big Ginger to stay right where he was and NOT get out of the car.  Most people would probably use the tone I used if there was a life-threatening emergency going on outside the car.  I opted to use it for a woodland creature-related crisis.  There was an enormous (I thought in my sleep deprived state) squirrel on our front stoop.  This thing was a monster.  It was the Godzilla of squirrels. It was terrifying.  It was proudly standing up on its hind legs as if to say,

“That’s right b*%$!, I LIVE HERE NOW!”

I was getting ready to carefully get out of the car and get a picture of this beast to have for later when I was explaining to Father of Gingers why I’d handed the keys to the house over to a woodland creature. I took another look, and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a groundhog or woodchuck.  It was still concerning as it did not look like it was going to back down and I was busily googling rabies and deciding if this was an emergency that warranted asking FoG to come come.

Big Ginger then announced he had to go potty in that special tone that preschoolers use when you have minus two minutes to make it to a bathroom or you’re going to be cleaning a car seat, at minimum.  The time for debate was over.  I took a deep breath, told my children Mommy loved them, and got out of the car to face my woodland demons.  I slammed the door and the behemoth turned to look my way.  I took a few steps closer, it took a closer look at me and practically flew under the front stoop.  I should mention that at this point I was getting maybe three (non-consecutive) hours of sleep a night and had elevated the messy bun concept to an art-form that was probably prize winning. (The prize would  be either more coffee or a dark room to sleep in, winner’s choice.)  Any makeup I was wearing had been applied in less than thirty seconds.   In short- I was a vision.

My ego took a hit at what I perceived as the not-a-squirrel’s judgement on my appearance, but I was just happy to make it in the house and avoid a potty-related disaster. I made a mental note to remember we had a new (most likely very traumatized) neighbor under the front stoop and to keep an eye out.  I also called FoG to announce that I hadn’t given the house away to wildlife, but it’d been close.

Fast forward a few months later.  I’d seen the not-a-squirrel a few times, but we seemed to have settled into a state of icy detente. I think it knew I  had no problem going full messy bun again, and it respected my dominance.

Then, FoG was going on his first business trip since Little Ginger had signed on to the organization.  She was still sleeping on a schedule that more closely resembled a newborn than a seven month old and we had recently found out that there were most likely food intolerance/allergy issues at play.  I was off dairy to help her and feeling a little delicate about the whole situation.

That morning FoG had some appointments and the Gingers and I had errands. I stepped out the front door and was hit by an unholy wall of stink. Something had definitely departed the land of the living. I was devoutly hoping my under the stoop friend hadn’t gotten the last word by dying under said front stoop. I was not equipped for corpse removal. I couldn’t help but think that Disney totally glossed over this aspect of all the Princesses having woodland friends.

Then I looked out over the parking lot. There was my former nemesis. It was definitely very dead and the source of the unfortunate stench. I shepherded the Gingers out to the car keeping my body between Big Ginger and the deceased as that was going to bring up a lot of questions I didn’t feel equipped to answer with ice cream being a non-option.

We accomplished our errands without further incident and returned home. I asked FoG if he’d noticed the stench and if there was someone we should call. He had noticed it too. I then said I was going out to do a few more errands and grab some lunch and would look up the number we needed to call. FoG then informed me in a carefully neutral voice that he didn’t think I would need to make the call. I said,

“Oh, great! One of the neighbors must be on it!”

He said, not in the way I was thinking and maybe I should take a peek out the front window. I looked and there was an entire flock of vultures gathered around the not-a-squirrel. I was upset for two reasons:

1. Not-a-squirrel and I may not have had the best interactions, but I felt bad he was becoming a buffet

2. I am deathly afraid of birds. My bird phobia makes my squirel phobia look completely rational and reasonableAt this point there was nothing to do but respect the impromptu sky burial going on in our parking lot. Nature would run its course, and I still needed to run errands. I got FoG to go out to the car with me in the event that the vultures decided I looked like a good second course. I went and did my errands and picked up my lunch, hoping it would all be over by the time I got back.

No such luck. More vultures had shown up and there was now a sort of line forming. And there I was with a bag of food. I was practically setting up for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds outside my front door. I gave myself a pep talk and explained to myself that there was no reason to be afraid. I could totally just get out of the car and march myself into the house. I’d just stare down any a-hole bird who dared to even look in my direction.

Then I called FoG from the car and requested an escort into the house. My need for my lunch not to get cold outweighed my need to overcome my bird phobia. I got inside safely and lived to tell the tale. Have I mentioned FoG is really patient and understanding?

A few hours later, it was all over and everyone had left the parking lot. It was almost like it had never happened except for a few tufts of fur. Which was both sad and disgusting.

The whole experience was very Circle of Life but with way less Elton John and more vultures. Unfortunately, there was no parting of the clouds with an accompanying delivery of a profound lesson. Maybe the lesson was I’d be a terrible Disney Princess given my track record with woodland creatures? For now, I’m just going to assume it was a sign to continue my “I’ll stay out of your house, you stay out of mine” pact with nature and leave it at that.

An Open (Slightly Sheepish) Letter to the Universe… Part Two

Hi Universe,

It’s me again. I know you’ve been REALLY busy, but you might remember I wrote you a letter a while back

So, we had a little chat about the whole bucket list confusion issue It felt great to get it off my chest- and, as I said, I get it- these things happen.

Well, I seriously have to thank you – a move to England MORE than makes up for the whole “I missed seeing Kate Middleton” thing. Like to the point where I don’t know what to say… I was thinking at most maybe one day I’d run into Jenny Lawson at the grocery store one day or something and we’d be totally cool. But here we are; you’ve gone above and beyond and I’m feeling a little sheepish. Thank you thank you thank you.

(I should note here we’re relocating to England for FoG’s job. It’s a really exciting time for us and he did a lot to make it happen, just so I don’t give all the credit to the universe. Good job FoG, or I guess I should now say well done)

Back to the letter. I know that you still have a lot of things to sort out, so I don’t want to mess up your work flow, but I thought I’d bring you up to date on where my head is at…

As you might or might not have noticed we’ve already taken the Gingers to get their passports. It may also have come to your attention that their passport photos look like mug shots for a very small pasty crime ring. Big Ginger looks prepared to deny everything while Little Ginger looks pissed that they were caught. It’ll be super fun to have those the next five years. Big Ginger’s first passsport photo was taken when he was about three and a half weeks old. It was an epic experience that involved me making an improvised baby poncho out of a green blanket due to an epic spit up situation that left us with only his white onesie. (I know you were there but I’m filling in everyone else) The man in the passport office said the baby couldn’t be in white for the picture because he’d blend into the background too much. I must have really looked like a woman on the edge because he then backtracked and said if I had a blanket that was not white we could probably work the problem. Boom. Baby poncho.

Now I think about it- Little Ginger is fairly new to the whole command of spoken language thing. I wonder if living in England is going to result in a toddler/preschooler who sounds like Madonna in the late 90s/ early 2000s or Sliding Doors era Gwyneth Paltrow? I guess we’ll find out!

It has also occurred to me that I’m going to have to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road. Hmmm. This might prove challenging for me. I almost failed my driving test because I swerved to avoid a squirrel. Obviously this was before I learned the truth about squirrels. My driving is definitely impaired by my tendency to overthink and that is on the regular side of the road. As we discussed before-I am a total Anglophile and can tea, crumpet, Harrods, Hobnob, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and BBC my way through anything. However, the driving on the wrong side of the road thing gives me pause. On the upside, thank you very much for a lot of guaranteed content for the blog- assuming I survive the learning curve. It’s time to summon my inner Dowager Countess.

So, I’ll let you go now, I know you have your hands full at the moment. I will just say thank you in advance for the amazing adventure. I’d probably be pushing my luck to inquire about a play date with Duchess Kate and the kids… I do feel like Little Ginger and Princess Charlotte have major BFF potential. Just gonna leave that here. Go big or go to England home, right?

Good luck with the other things you’ve got on your plate. I’m here if you need help

Hugs and Kisses,

Katie

Pain Spanx…

img_7693So, I guess we should start with the title of this post.  Pain Spanx is not the name of a metal band comprised of thirty and forty-something moms.  Although, how epic would that be? I feel like I could be on to something here, I’ll have to file that away for later…

Back to the explanation, I’ve be working on getting back into an exercise groove.  It’s absolutely never been my favorite thing, but I know it’s something I need to do.  Last week I took Little Ginger our regular Stroller Strides classes.  Stroller Strides for the uninitiated is an exercise class you do with your baby or toddler and the stroller.  They get to sit in the stroller and be entertained, you get to work out and be entertaining, everyone wins.  It’s a good fit for me as I don’t really find exercise relaxing and it’s not something I’m super jazzed about spending my limited time to myself on.  It also has the added benefit of socialization for Little Ginger.

The classes are also a lesson in humility, we often sing to the kids as we work through various exercises.  It is impossible to take yourself seriously as you’re working through a series of exercises that are challenging your already limited coordination AND sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” at the same time.  I’m currently working on a theory that requiring everyone to do something like that would help us work through a lot of societies ills – a few burpees while singing “B-I-N-G-O” will level any playing field pretty quickly.  Maybe Congress should give it a whirl, if nothing else the entertainment value would be totally worth it.

I decided this month I’d add the moms-only class that focuses on High Intensity Interval Training (which is exactly as much fun as it sounds like) to my routine as I am a realist.  If I pay to exercise, chances are I’m going to be better about attending.  So, I upgraded my Stroller Strides membership to include the Body Back class.  I had several reasons for being very hesitant, not the least being the name -I wasn’t exactly sure where my body had gone and why I needed to go get it back?

Nevertheless, last week was my first week of doing both classes and as expected; I. AM. SO. FREAKING. SORE! I feel like I have put on Spanx made of pure pain (upside- great post title).  Once again -totally expected.  I know I’m going to be crazy sore for a bit, but as in the past, if I keep at it, in time, it will get better.  Although, it does seem to take a longer and longer time each time I get back into this… (I see you standing over there, forty.)

What I AM trying to change this time I put on the pain Spanx is how I look at exercise as it relates to my body image.  In the past I’ve viewed the pain Spanx as a just punishment for being in possession of a body that will (as I’ve come to realize and sort of accept) never ever ever look like  what we as a society seem to see as an ideal body.  Even when I’ve been able to run three consecutive under ten minute miles I’ve never been anything approaching skinny or even trim.  So, I’ve viewed the soreness as only fair.  I obviously just didn’t work hard enough on diet or exercise so I should pay the price in discomfort physically as well as mentally.  Now, I’m trying to focus on the fact that while I will probably never feel comfortable wearing a bikini and that that’s just a life experience I’ll miss out on, this body has done some pretty amazing things.

This is the body that has carried me all around the world.  It carries my brain- with all the thoughts and knowledge I have- with it, it takes my eyes to see amazing  sights, it has taken my heart to dizzying heights and crushing lows.  It has soldiered on through joint pain that was not the result of my weight- despite what the doctors were determined to believe. This body has rallied after every surgery for torn cartilage and every bone broken in my ongoing fight with gravity. This is the body that grew my babies and then nourished them.  This is the body that rallied after losing a pregnancy and soldiered on long before my brain and heart caught up.  This is a body that has done absolutely everything I have asked of it and more. Except to be skinny.  Oh, and the splits, but I think I am going to have to let that one go.

So, here we are at me trying to change my attitude to diet and exercise.  A friend has being pointing me in the direction of  Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive Eating information that is well-researched and solid advice. I’m debating ditching the scale, because no matter how hard I try not to- I find myself drifting that way every day for a quantifiable measure of my progress.  I want to stop viewing exercise as something I do to me  as punishment but instead- as something I do for me; to help me be stronger, healthier, and keep some of my stabby tendencies in check. (Right now is a perfect example- spellcheck is determined that neither stabby or stabbier are words.  I’m embracing the total fatigue endorphins brought on by exercise and letting it go – for now. This isn’t over spellcheck.) I want to focus on eating healthy food that I enjoy and listening to signals from my body rather than constantly berating and second-guessing myself.  This is baggage I really don’t want to take into my next decade.  I want to leave it behind with the the self-consciousness I’ve felt, the memories of times doctors have immediately pointed to my size before even reading the chart, the times I’ve been told I’d be so pretty if I’d only lose the weight, and the belief that I’m somehow less than because my body is more than.

img_7689This picture is an excellent starting point for my attitude adjustment. This is a live action shot of one of the classes responsible for the pain Spanx. The instructors take pictures in each class and post them in the group Facebook page. My first instinct on this was to ask them to please for the love of all that’s holy not take and/or post my picture. I was not a fan, to say the least. I’m still not overwhelmed with joy by these pictures, but I am trying to walk the walk and change how I look at things. Instead of seeing a picture that is most certainly NOT my best angle (and I chose the most flattering option of the workout pictures) and seriously questioning the pattern on those pants- I’m trying to focus on the fact that picture is proof I’m getting stronger. It’s a reminder I did something healthy for my body and took some time for me. So, for the time being, I’m going to go with the flow and work on not cringing when I’m tagged. Yay. Growth.

As I’ve been thinking about my goals to meet by forty, the thought kept circling, JAWS-like, in the back of my mind that I should really have a weight goal in the mix. Instead, I’m going to focus on making sure this body, my body, that has done a great job getting me this far, is as healthy as possible as I head into the next decade. Continuing to be realistic, I realize this isn’t something that I can poof into existence.  In all honesty- it would be so much easier to set some arbitrary number goal for pounds to be lost and minutes to be exercised and sulk for a bit if I don’t hit those numbers.  But- it won’t be easier to haul all that baggage around for the rest of my life.  I’m sure there will be more to come about if I decide to ditch the scale, and how I approach the diet aspect this.

Right now, I’m off to approach some Advil and a hot bath with Espsom Salts.

An Exclusive Chat With Mama Bear (in my mind)…

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about a Facebook post I wrote about the Berenstain Bears a few weeks ago.  It’s a show that both Gingers will watch together and they love the books.  As I’ve reacquainted myself with Bear Country, I found I have A LOT of questions.  Like, if there was ever something from my childhood that I needed a VH1-esque “Where Are they Now?” show or a People Magazine cover story, this is it. This might mean I need to get out more and/or accept children’s literature and entertainment more at face value…. Something to think about…

Without further ado, here is how I’d like to imagine an interview with Mama Bear might go.

(I should probably preface this with I love The Berenstain Bears, I adored reading the books as a child and am enjoying sharing them with the Gingers.  I’m not just saying this bc I don’t want to get served by the Berenstain estate with a lawsuit that has a cute little rhyming poem at the beginning that nicely ties up the problem I’m facing…)

Mother of Gingers (MoG):  Mrs. Bear…hmm, I’m not sure what I should call you.  It seems like calling you Mama is wildly inappropriate, maybe that should be my first question? How do you like to be addressed?

Mama Bear (MB): I’m so glad you asked- I’ve been dying clear this up for ages, since the first time I came home to meet my husband’s family.  See, my actual name is Martha, and that is what I went by when we were dating.  His grandmother was there the day I went to meet everyone and misheard my name as Mama.   The woman was a literal effing grizzly, and she was of the old school…

MoG: By “of the old school” you mean…

MB: She still hibernated, and had just come out of hibernation that day.  She was crabby.  Once again- LITERAL grizzly bear.  Crabby in this case means, “will rip your face off if you attempt to correct her.” The woman was terrifying.  There were rumors she had finished off not one but two National Geographic writers.  So if she wanted to call me Mama, I was going to be Mama. Neither of my in-laws to be were about to argue with her, nor was Papa, who at the time was called Quincy.  Here we are forty-plus years later.  The lesson here is sometimes you should push back against family, otherwise you can find yourself going by the wrong name for decades… Just maybe make sure you have a tranquilizer dart handy first.

MoG:  Thank you so much for clearing that up! I’d always wondered what the odds were that your actual names were Mama and Papa.  So Mr. Bear’s actual name was Quincy?

MB: Oh, yes, but I felt like if I was going to have to go by my new name then I was going to call Quincy “Papa” to hopefully make a point about how ridiculously out of hand the whole thing had gotten.  I believe that’s called being passive-aggressive?  Then we got the book deals, and later the television shows, and at that  point we were best known as Mama and Papa Bear, and here we are…

MoG:  I should have said this at the outset, but I was so sorry to hear about Mr. Bear, you have my deepest sympathies.

MB: Oh, thank you so much dear.  We miss him terribly, he was a wonderful man, such a character.  However, we always felt that we were so very lucky to have him for as many years as we did.  The dear man was impossibly accident prone and had absolutely no common sense.  It is a little known fact that we briefly considered suing the show Home Improvement  for  possible infringement.  I mean, the father on that show was an absolute ringer for Papa. Woodworking shop/ Tool show… there’s not that much difference there, really. We didn’t peruse it because once again, the prevailing thought was it would be bad for our brand.

That being said- I know a lot as been written about us reflecting stereotypical bear parents in the wild, and frankly I find that offensive.  Ours was a great love story and we complimented each other, he brought a bit of unpredictability and fun to my life and I brought structure and security to his.  It’s not a story that could be summed up by a little rhyme or a children’s book devoted to solving a single problem!

MoG: Mrs. Bear, you’ve mentioned your brand a few times, would you want to add some more detail to that topic?

MB: Oh, yes I would.  Early on, there was a set idea of how we needed to present ourselves to be successful.  I was a mother with two young cubs and I wanted to ensure our family’s financial security.  So, I made everyone toe the line- opportunities like that didn’t come around all the time.  Come to think of it, I could probably teach Kris Jenner a thing or two if we’re being honest.

Speaking of being honest- do you seriously think any woman in her right mind would wear the same blue polka dotted muumuu and MOP HAT with her only alternative being an odd little flowered hat for going out for years on end? Even if she is a bear, that’s still concerning.

MoG: I do have to admit I have wondered about that from time to time…

MB:  I’d be worried if you didn’t.  Quincy and I were inexperienced when we wrote our first contract and somehow signed away wardrobe rights…Next thing you know, polka dotted muumuus, overalls, pink jumpers, and the same red shirt as far as the eye can see.  I will never wear polka dots again.  I understood the need for staying true to our brand in the early days, but we all felt like it was getting ridiculous in the later years when all of the other bears in the books and on the shows were wearing contemporary fashion.  Although, it DID help hide the fact we had to switch the cubs out every now and again..

MoG: Excuse me, switch the cubs out?!?!

MB: Oh dear, I wasn’t supposed to say that.  But I feel like it should be obvious.  The books and shows went on for years, but Brother and Sister never aged? How exactly would we have managed that?

MoG: Hmm… Now that you mention it, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner

MB: I can believe it, dear

(Interviewer note: Who knew there was such a biting wit under that sweet demeanor and mop hat for all those years?)

MoG:  Moving on, what are the actual Brother and Sister up to now? In light of the information you gave me about your and Mr Bear’s names; are those their real names?

MB: Oh heavens, no!  Once again, that was part of the branding.  For a show and book series that was meant to show the normal day-to-day life of a an average bear family, there certainly was a lot of managing going on behind the scenes.  I guess we really did pave the way for the Kardashians…

Back to your question: Brother’s real name was Steve, and Sister is Elisabeth.  The whole thing came about because Steve couldn’t say Elisabeth’s name and called her Sissy.  Then the good idea fairy visited someone and it was decided it would be cute if they were Brother and Sister.  Once again, if I’d known how long it would go on, I would not have gone along with that plan.  It did make it easier when we brought in replacement cubs and my cubs were able to go do their own thing.

MoG: And what are Steve and Elisabeth up to now?

MB: I don’t want to say too much, as they’ve worked very hard as adults to have their lives be private and separate from their early years. Steve lives in California and is a vegan (it’s very important to him I mention that, all the time) lawyer working in the industry.  His wife is a (vegan as well) yoga instructor who works with Goop.  They have three children Grandson, Grandson, and Granddaughter.

MoG: Ummmm…

MB: I’m joking again, dear.  Their names are Mulholland, Rodeo, and Sunset

MoG: Oh.

MB: I know, I think Grandson, Grandson, and Granddaughter may have been better.

As for Elisabeth.  She lives in New York and heads her own design firm “No Bows About It.” I’m sure even you could guess where the whole no bows thing comes from.  She’s doing quite well and travels frequently.

MoG: I realize I’ve taken up a lot of your time, If I could ask one last question- What are you up to these days? You’ve given us such insight to your past and I know we would all love to know about your life today.

MB: I’m very fortunate that our years in the books and on the screen have provided me with lots of opportunities and freedom in my golden years. I did truly love to quilt and insisted on that story line to give me a chance to break out of the rut I’d gotten into.  Now I have an Etsy shop that sells my quilts and I’ve branched out into some clothing lines.  I have high hopes for a collaboration deal sometime next year. I’m wearing one of my new pieces now.

(Mrs. Bear is wearing a very stylish flowing dress in blues and greens complimented by thick bangle bracelets and gold hoop earrings. There is not a frill, polka dot, or mop hat in sight. Her look is miles from what I am used to seeing her in.)

I split my time between a condo in Florida, an apartment in New York and the mother in-law suite at Steve’s.  Fortunately, there is a kitchen in the the suite, because I truly believe that bears are not meant to be vegan.  I’ve also gotten into cruising.  I attempted it once years ago with Quincy but had to spend so much time keeping him from falling over the side and other accidents that it wasn’t exactly a relaxing vacation!  I’m living every day to the fullest and the one upside to the whole Martha/ Mama thing is that I’m not immediately recognized.  Of course being a bear always means I get some curious looks, but what can you do?

MoG: Thank you so much for you time.  It has been an honor and a delight to hear your story.  I wish you all the best in your retirement!

Mrs. Bear chatted with me a bit more, stood to leave, and gave me (what else?) a bear hug.