Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Princesses Power Pack- Nay. (Part 1 in a series) -Kate writes

Once upon a time, in a time not so long ago, I would have been doing the cabbage patch for this picture here. The picture that shows a Disney Princesses set that includes 2 princesses of color. That was my main concern in the world I used to live in; in my studies of African American history, in my love for Asian Literature, in my world of a liberal arts college attracting women from all around the globe, and in my melting pot of life in NYC. Represent the people all around. Represent all the children who wish to see their dreams on the big screen, find their skin tone in a doll, find their eyes, beautifully mascara-ed starring back at them.
I think I find now that we are getting there- not perfect. Room for improvement, of course. But we are getting there. 
Now, my feelings have changed so that I want more from our Princess Packs. I want some of the more powerful, more modern and well thought out Princesses in the pack. And when I look at this picture I can clearly see that there is someone missing from this box.

Where the F is Mulan? 

Where is the bad-ass, cross dressing, gorgeous Asian woman in no need of make-up nor those damn jade hair clips (so stop giving them to her!!) Where is she? Off fighting a war? Get her ass in these boxes.

I was so miffed (yes, had a lil' time on my hands in Target one day to get miffed) that I took a picture. Threw it up on facebook and said, "Mulan got the boot!" And my friends chimed in sharing thoughts of how she was too good for the box. Or who cares? Or how it was because she took her drag show on the road....

Perhaps she was too good. And we already know I loves her something fierce. But then I got to thinking, "What made the others not good enough that they made it into this box?" I like some of the princesses in the box. Sure, Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty were, by today's standards, a little slow to join the woman's movement. 

OK, they didn't even get the memo that there was one. 

OK, they would have just passed on the pesky memo paper, with all those letters and writing on it, to their man....

But ok. They are old timers. They needed to be hated for their gorgeousness and sought after to be killed. They were busy cleaning in between the death threats or were so babied by their 3 godmother's that they could only sing and run away from thingies!! That was the time. They were playing a role that fell more in line with the year of their creation.

So who else do we have here to judge? 
Ahh, yes. Removing the 3 old timers we are left with the 4 more modern of the princesses. We have Jasmine and Ariel. Soooooooo defiant, those two. Not listening to their dad's forbidding this and that. 
Growing legs. Pretending to be a street beggar. Being all their own women and what not and getting their little (missing at least 6 ribs a piece) small waisted bodies into mortal danger, scaring the bejeezus out of their little animal side kicks, and needing to be saved by their princes.
So they are, in short, the Cinderella's and Snow Whites of yesteryear- but a bit more... mouthy. 

The last 2 in this set are Belle and Tiana. 
OK, I can get with them.
Tiana ignored her mom's dreams of her finding a good man to care for her and did allllllll she could to get her dad's dream restaurant open. How risky was that? Do you know how many restaurants fail within the first 5 years? My stars. She didn't care. She wanted what her daddy wanted and she would kiss a flippin' frog to get it. She would work various jobs simultaneously. The woman was to be self employed! She succeeded despite crazy ass voodoo goings on all around her! Yes, there was a prince. But she didn't need him. She just fell for him warts and all.

Oh and Belle. I am a fan of Belle. She ignored the brute, Gaston, and all his muscles and swagger. I will admit- thought I saw her eyeing the 3 blondes who were continuously swooning for Gaston, but I digress. That Belle was superbly educated. She stuck up for her father, sacrificed herself for him, and talked back to a beast who roared at her. She raised, maybe, half an eyebrow to a talking chifferobe. Took it all in stride. And Belle was so easy to please. Give her a room filled with books and she would make sweet love to a half bison, half bear whatsawhoosit. I am in a book club. I am an English major. I get this. She didn't need a pretty face, she needed a person who found out her likes and dislikes and made appropriate gestures and changes to woo.

Soon after my Facebook post my brain started it's own Princess Powerpack. It had Tiana and Belle in it. And then life went on and I forgot all about it.... until 6 months later when I saw ANOTHER Princess pack at Target. Picture taken, posted, and some womens gots vocal!

to be continued........

(bum bum buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Major League of Life

For once, I have nothing to say. 

Correction, I actually have so many thoughts whizzing around in my cranium that it is all in a cluster and nothing will come out.

My head hurts.  A swirling vortex.

These past two weeks have been filled with soaring highs and followed with weighted lows.  The All-Star pitcher of the Major League of Life knows how to throw some wicked curveballs.  You saw me post "RIP Mom" last week, so you know that smack dab in the middle of my beach frolicking and memory making with my family; my mom died.

SCREEEEECH.  Curveball.

We tidied up the remaining day of vacation and headed home to return to the dugout - to strategize the next moves, and what plays would be forthcoming in the pending innings of the Major League of Life.  My mother's oldest daughter, my half-sister, flew in less than ten hours after we arrived home and walked into our unpacked suitcases, dustbunnies and peeling skin.

I will not lie and say everything went smoothly with my sister here.  Cleaning up after a deceased relative is never on the top of anyone's bucket list.  Add some family dysfunction, some conflicted emotions, and SOMUCHSTUFFPACKEDINTOATWOROOMAPARTMENT.......and well, you find yourself trying to run the bases and get to home plate.  You run circles around each base and you still find yourself in circles with home plate no where to be found.  I find myself still trying to process some of the raw emotions of some of the things that transpired these past few days and since I cannot find a way to emulate them quite nicely, I will refrain from elaboration.

Expecting the absolute worst of the situation because my mother was not a planner, I was pleasantly surprised by two very small pieces that my mother did accomplish.

SCREEEEEECH.  Another curveball.
By day three of the insanity, I found myself wearing thin........my patience, my threshold, and with me nearly on the verge of tears from the diverse range of emotions coursing through my veins.  My phone rang and said, "Unknown".  I do not like to answer the phone when it does not tell me who it is, but this time I figured it was one of the upteen places that we had called for my mother's affairs.  However, the sweet voice on the other end of the line was calling about my father.

 SCREEEEEEEECH. Wait. What? Another curveball.

My father passed away two years ago on March 19, 2011.  Because my father donated his body to science, they took him immediately upon death and we did not have a formal service because we were told UMASS Anatomical would let us know when they were done with him and we could hold a service then.  We did a memorial ourselves in the meantime, but there was never that sense of closure. 

As I propped my elbow up on my mother's dusty television set amongst the hoarder chaos of her material things, my head starting to shake back and forth slowly.  No.  Not now.  Really. 

I listened as the lovely woman on the end of the line informed me that they are holding my father's memorial service in his honor, for the gift of his body to science, on May 4th (like NEXT WEEK MAY 4th!).

My parents were married just shy of 40 years.  With the multitude of illnesses and overall poor health they were in at the time, the four years they lived with me took its toll on everyone, including them.  My mother moved out, angry at me and even angier at my father.  Over the next year she proceeded to divorce him.  My father moved out a few months after my mother because he needed more care than I could afford to him at the time; as I was just diagnosed and thrown into the scary vortex of cancer treatments, surgeries and pre-natal care.

(SCREEEEECH.  Historical curveball back there!).

40 years of marriage, memories, and my childhood........somehow fell apart.  I chose not to focus on all of that because I have focused on MY healing these past four years.  After all, I have my own family now and they need me.  My husband, my three children.......they needed me more than my parents did.  I needed me the most.

I confidently thought I had grieved for the loss of my parents when they moved out; and again when they divorced.  I had an idea of what little grief there would be when they departed from the living. The reality is I had no idea of the actual range of emotions that flooded with the news of their deaths.

So, I sit here and try to digest; despite the turmoil and chaos of the past few years, both of my parents are now gone.  Even stranger, or ironic, or purely meant to be, is that I will really be saying my final good byes to them BOTH and within a couple of weeks of each other.

Taking that curveball and going to display it on my mantle.  Going to release the pressure of that massive swirling vortex over the next few days.

Another chapter to be closed in that Major League of Life.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Run, Walk or Crawl

Most of us have a bucket list of some sort. Some of y'all are adventurous and want to skydive, bungee jump or zipline. Some of ya want to lose 20 pounds, visit a foreign country or learn to cook a perfect boeuf bourguignon a la Julia.

Many of us want to be better friends, better wives and better mothers -- and we qualify these things in a million different ways when it comes to a task list. We dream big, we set the goals high and the bottom line is that the bucket list -- in the wake of all of the other humdrum duties in the midst of parenthood -- often falls deftly by the wayside.

If our gremlin barks loudly enough, we may just trick ourselves into believing that we never really wanted those things that much anyhoo.

But many of us, I know, want to complete a 5K. I know this because I see the look one peoples' faces when they cross the finish line. Complete and utter pride, not realizing that they were capable of having accomplished something so wonderful. We want that for ourselves, we want to feel it radiate off our spouses and children as they meet us at the finish line. Almost everyone has a fitness goal, however small or large, and the 5K is a perfect place to begin.

It's a simple enough bucket list item; attainable, accessible and socially acceptable. They are held in every city and town across the country, and even in the dead of winter you will find one.

My issues with races like 5Ks is that they cost money, and if I need to pay someone to let me run 3.1 miles, I may as well stash some cash in an envelope under my mattress every time I need a workout. So I am very particular when it comes to participating, because I am a cheap Yankee underneath all these Northern curves and I like to keep my money close to my person. Bazinga.

But I would implore those of you local to Central Mass to consider participating in one of 2 upcoming 5K events -- both of which are family friendly, vital to the Central Mass community -- and both of which celebrate you wherever you are at -- whether you walk, run or crawl across the finish line.


April 28th :: 5K/Family Fun Run to Benefit the Leominster Education Foundation
Because I love my kids and my community, and because my community loves its' schools, I will be among the masses this weekend at a 5K Family event to be held at Doyle Field in Leominster, with proceeds benefiting the Leominster Education Foundation.

Brief Description

Community school event supporting education, and promoting health and wellness. Proceeds to benefit the Leominster Education Foundation funding student scholarships and programs within the Leominster Public Schools. Food, beverages, fun, games, music, raffles, and baby sitting available to all participants.


Fun Run/800M - Participation Ribbons 
5K Run - 
Overall male and female winner - $100 
First place male and female in each age category - $25 
(Overall winners will not qualify for first place prizes)


8:00am - Registration 
9:00am - Fun Run (Non-School Age Children) 
9:30am - 800m - Grade 5 and under 
10:00am - 5K Walkers 
10:30am - 5K Runners 

Activities until 12:30pm

Additional Information

Rain or Shine! 

T-Shirts guaranteed for registrations received by April 13th.
Registrations received after April 13th will be $25.

May 5 :: Bosom or Bust 5K Run, Walk or Crawl

If the LEF 5K isn't for you or you are not available, consider signing up for Bosom or Bust. Now in its 3rd year, the event is dedicated to the memory of my friend Jo's mom, Gail, and funds will go to support PINK Revolution, a local non-profit dedicated to providing local women and families undergoing breast cancer treatment with hands-on help with whatever it is they need.


Start: Saturday, May 5, 2012


75 Felton St  
Marlborough, Massachusetts

Registration Closing Date

Thursday, May 03, 2012 @ 11:59 PM US/Eastern


Race starts at 10:30AM. Registration will open at 9AM
Yoga Stretch at 10!!!

The Bosom orBust 5K in Memory of Gail Rowe is a Pink Revolution Event.

What is the PINK Revolution?
PINK REVOLUTION is an alliance of dedicated individuals with a unified commitment to institute and advance fundamental change(s) in the lives of those touched by breast cancer. PINK REVOLUTIONS MISSION is to celebrate the lives of those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer; support those who currently battle breast cancer; to make pervasive change in the future of breast cancer by paving a path to living stronger. The mission will be accomplished by support of early detection and prevention strategies; by providing psychosocial care; by funding basic science and clinical research advancements, in conjunction with the UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center; the UMass Medical School; affiliates of UMass Memorial Healthcare; and with the promotion of survivorship programs in central Massachusetts.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What the NECK?!?! -Kate writes

"Oh, the necks. There are chicken necks. There are turkey gobbler necks. There are elephant necks. There are necks with wattles and necks with creases that are on the verge of becoming wattles. There are scrawny necks and fat necks, loose necks, crepey necks, banded necks, wrinkled necks, stringy necks, saggy necks, flabby necks, mottled necks. There are necks that are an amazing combination of all the above. According to my dermatologist, the neck starts to go at 43 and that's that...You have to cut open a red wood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn't if it had a neck." Nora Ephron from I feel Bad About My Neck.

I have a newish friend that I met when I was 5 or 6. I didn't remember her well since she was a year older and was a part of the mass playing that happened around the corner from where I grew up. But she remembered me. When Facebook came to be, she reached out to me from sunny CA. I was piecing her together as part of my memory- her dad was the soccer coach...and she had that horrid, horrid friend who I will call...Missy....(since that is her name) that I didn't even know who would 8 years later call me a name for absolutely no reason since my world diverged from theirs in 2nd grade when I went to a different school. But I digress....

This friend and I have the town of Eastham, MA in common where our parents live. We have gotten together twice since the reconnection on facebook and through the connection of having toddlers/kids. Last Summer we decided to meet at a delicious place called the Chocolate Sparrow and my second ever adult meeting with this woman started like this:

"HIIIIIII! How are you? Oh my GOD! Your neck still looks great!"


We talked about so much that morning. Politics and child rearing and dementia and marriage....but the whole time, I swear, I was touching my neck and was a split second behind the conversation since my inner dialogue was going on....

My neck looks good, still?
Whassthat mean? Whassthat?

"No, I voted for Obama! Agreeee to disagree."

Is my neck not going to look good?
Is it time to worry about my neck?
I can't believe it is time to worry about my neck.

"Have you tried Cry it Out yet? It isn't for everyone, but..."

Can she see me sneaking looks at her neck?
Her neck looks fine, too.
So we are good, yes?
Isn't neck stuff, like, for 50 and 60 year olds?

"You have to laugh or you'll cry. Or maybe you just have to do both."

I wonder how my neck looks right now?
Is it time to buy those creams?
That shit is expensive. I would like to hold off.

"He's great! Number 3 on the way. I know!"

Am I over touching my neck?
I bet I have left red splotches all over it now.
Did I seriously just check in with myself to see if I am over touching my neck?

"Do you get fried clams or oysters? I can't handle oysters- too pouchy."

OK, that woman's neck looks loose, but she is clearly 12 years older than me. 12-15 yr range for sure.
Wait! I felt my neck skin move a bit. A breeze perhaps?

It is insanity what this coffee date has brought into my life. Where I used to glance at classmates chests in 7th grade to see who was getting bigger and who had stalled at the mosquito bite stage (me, but I had fat on my side and looked fuller) I am now so curious about the neck of women my age! And not to assess it or judge it or anything negative. I am just SO fascinated by this change awaiting me in the wings. I always looked for grays and for lines. I get off the floor awkwardly and make noises when I sit. All of which I greeted with a chuckle. Ohhohohoo. I am getting old. hee hoo ha. 

But now this! 


And you can't hide it in jeans or under a hat. I think that is the runaway train of fear it is for some. Can't tuck it. Can't massage it away. Can't botox it into behaving. And it has so much genetics attached! 

It isn't like- 

Here are your lines and wrinkles. Can I get you anything else this year?

It is like- 

Your neck is going to look like Great Aunt Chickie's or Grandma Bart's!

So then you start looking at black and white or washed out colored pictures to check the necks of all the ladies who share your bloodlines.

Or maybe you don't. Maybe you give yourself a break since nothing CAN be done, and the Scottish in you (me) will never ever allow you to buy the damn creams that probably don't even work against time.

But I do take comfort in the thought that dear, bitch Missy's neck may someday look like that of a ripe and ready Thanksgiving turkey.

(not that I am bitter)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


So, I am on a vacation with my family - a rare treat, indeed.  We are relishing the days of no routine:  no work to race to, no after school pick ups, no soccer practices to run to, and more.  You know the feeling!  Waking up with no agenda, we get to the beach/pool when we can.  We pack our snacks and our hydrating beverages when we feel like it.  We wear nothing more than lycra bathing suits with mere cover ups as we transfer from beach to pool to condo.  It is a luxurious feeling.

And then you get THAT call.

Mid way through my vacation, I received a weird email transcribed by Comcast from a voicemail left for me.  I have not been checking my phone, but I have been following the Boston Marathon explosions closely because of my history with running.  I was going to blog about my feelings of the terrible event of April 15, 2013. But I got the call today, instead.

The doctor nervously asked me if I had heard about my mother yet.  Of course not.  What is going on?  He sadly and stoically pronounced that she had passed away earlier today.

I stood silently and awkwardly in the cabana pool room of vacation wondering what to feel.  My heart hurt, but my brain told me to not feel the pain.  My mother just died.  I felt conflicted.  My internal emotional radar was flashing all alerts red, but my rationale ruled - reminding me that my mother and I have not been close since my cancer diagnosis and that any emotions trying to rear their head were to be surfaced and quashed immediately.

If only that easy.

How would I tell my children that their grandma just died?

My mind raced.  I know she does not have a will.  She did not plan for stuff.  Ever.  She just went with it and if there was a mess, well, by gosh darn it, someone would clean it up.

My mind continued to race.  Of course.  My mother would pass while I am in the midst of a vacation with my family.  That would be the ultimate way she could get her negative attention.

My mind went on and on and on.  My heart ached with the reality that now both of my parents were gone.  I was an "orphan" so to speak.  My children, swimming happily in the pool, now questioned their own mother's whereabouts - who would she be speaking to on the phone for such an extended duration on their devoted vacation time.

My mother passed away today.  The woman she was today was not the woman who was my mother.  Despite a tumultuous upbringing with what I now know to be a bipolar woman, I did love my mother.  I grieved for the loss of my mother when she was living with me and I was her caretaker, along with caring for my father.

Despite a roller coaster childhood, filled with regular beatings and manipulative mind games, I still loved the woman who birthed me.  Are we not supposed to love our mother's unconditionally?

It was only during my own fight for my life - my cancer battle, that I realized that not all mothers are created equal.  The mother I longed for, the one who would nurture me and return me to health, along with that of my then unborn child, while we went through horrible bouts of chemotherapy and surgeries and more.....well, she was non-existent.

My mother-in-law stepped up and filled the void, but I would be lying if I said my own mother was one I longed for.  I am envious when friends have that nearly sisterly relationship with their moms.  However, a year and a half of therapy let me know that it is okay that not all of us have healthy moms - healthy relationships with moms or anything in the remote vicinity.

I was cordial with my mother these past few years.  We visited when necessary.  The children retained their relationship with her.  I kept a safe distance away because the reality of who my mother was to me hurt too much.

I have learned what NOT to be as a mother to MY children.  Unconditional love is all they will ever receive from me.  Good, bad, indifferent - I am their mother and I will be there for them.

Instead of focusing on the less than stellar memories, I have chosen to focus on the positive.  Yes, there are some positives in all of this.  Part of who I am today is because of my mother.  There are the "Oh, god, did I just say that?  I AM my mother!" moments.......and then there are the "Phew, I will never act like that - I am NOT my mother!" moments.

My mother, she struggled with loving herself - so I question her ability to truly and deeply love others.  However, I see that she loved my children.  I know that deep down inside her core, aside from her mental illness, she did, in fact, love me.  She had a very odd, and often times demeaning, way of showing it, but I know she did.

I will start to pick up the pieces and put them away neatly; after all, I am a care taker, I clean up messes, I like organization and stuff all tucked away tightly. I take care of stuff.

I will let the good memories surface, and I will store away the unsightly.

I will hug my children tightly and I will hope that my mother rests in peace on the other side.

Hope M. Pritchard
January 15, 1936-April 17, 2013


Today is a difficult day to write, with my natural inclination to hide away from this web page. My mind is racing with thoughts and feelings I would rather not share.

Here's why.

I am from the Boston area, I grew up here and I am raising my family here. Boston is our city.

I am a runner, having recently completed my first 10k with a passionate desire to do it again. I am associated with and often part of that community too.

I am an American, and while my interests do not lie in politics or global affairs, I care.

But that said, I want to break it all down, right back to the self. Because I am a blogger , and bloggers talk about themselves.

So here is what the incidents of the past few days mean to me, especially within this context of the Curvy Girl blog: Life. Is. Precious.

It's too precious to worry about your chubby thighs and crow's feet, or your annoying teenager or your husband who isn't perfect. It's time to hold these people tighter -- yes, even yourself -- and let go of this secondary plane of idealistic perfection, to accept what is and be amazingly grateful for it too.

When I turned 30, I had a little conversation with myself about body image and self-criticism. I told myself that I had spent 30 years being critical of myself and it needed to stop. I knew enough, at 30, to know that I can't have those years back, and that when I looked at old pictures I didn't see myself in retrospect the way I had seen myself in real time. I looked fine.

So does that mean I look fine now? I have made my best attempt at using my 30s as a training ground, trying to see the good in myself, trying to keep that critical voice at bay. Because life is an absolute gift -- this I have come to believe --  and this negative voice just isn't a track worth playing when there are so many beautiful and precious things to hold much, much closer.

This video came across my line of vision this morning and I want to share it. It reminds us that we see ourselves very differently than other people see us, and I think the message is very powerful. I hope you all out there is Curvy Girl reader land will watch it and take it to heart today, because if there were ever a day to change the way you think -- to really remember how beautiful you are -- today is the day.

Looking toward the future, and wanting to change the world, remember to start with yourself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Stages of WTF- Kate writes

What is it that grips you the moment you hear about an explosion or some act of terror? I wonder what the first thought people have after they get past the "what----?" of it all. 

I have been trained since 9/11. My first thoughts are "I can't get in touch" and "I can't get home." And I was home during yesterday's explosions. I was. It is just my gut response from living through a couple of somethings before.

And I don't turn to the news. How can I when false reports keep coming in? It isn't news anymore. It is rumors. This just in: rumor has it that this person assumes that perhaps maybe it could be that, at least sometimes I have heard... 
It won't be news until later when we can actually get facts. If someone REALLY is in custody. How many are truly injured or deceased. It just remains nightmarish.

Once the first grip has passed, I relax enough to feel. This go round I am...annoyed. 

I am annoyed that I need to keep explaining evil to my children. I wasn't even going to mention a thing to them except that the kids had their usual after school activities. I wanted to clarify and smooth out anything they were possibly about to hear outside of our womb. It just becomes such a snowball of a discussion because you need to tell them the "rarity" of it (and truly, compared to some countries, we are enormously fortunate). You need to explain why something like this might have happened. That can bring up such topics as politics, religion, sickness, stupidity, prejudice, safety, patriotism, dedication, science, and really, it doesn't stop. And then I have to build up how safe they are. 

They are safe. 




One does have to find the good in it instead of swimming in the bad. We have all seen Fred Roger's quote around through the past few nightmares. Look for the helpers. They are all around. Then you look at the pride developed around the sore spot- like so many white blood cells running to the rescue of a city in pain. F- Yeah! Way more people doing good than the very few that produce evil. So outnumbered are they. Homes offered for those who need a place to stay, blood being donated, people rushing towards the chaos to help and save. The core of human nature erupting from those in the crowds.

I remember a lot of eye contact on the subways post September 11th. 
Hello human I am sharing this city with. 
Be safe. 

It may not last forever, that intimacy of eye contact in city world, but it will surround Boston for a good amount of time. Helping. Humanizing. Healing.