Friday, December 30, 2011

To Lydia on HER Fortieth Birthday


I don't think you should be so upset about turning forty. After all, some really amazing women are forty. Like me and Maude. And, she has a face and I have hair, so that really is all that needs to be said about that.

You have a husband that loves you and pays for stuff and allows you to be friends with me and walks upright. And three children that I'm still not sure how your vagina made that hair color, because neither you or the Cap'n -- or really, anything that exists in the natural world or outside the Brady Bunch -- would seemingly have that particular DNA strand. But whatever, hooker. And I maybe shouldn't talk about your vajayjay, but I blame you for this, what with all the birthday talk about the pillow story.

So, this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you awesome stuff. Ready? I can't believe you told me your college roommate -- who is FAB by the way! I'm keeping her now, thanks -- was the uber-cook when you guys were in college, because you are the only person who can get me to, you know, eat food. You are the world's best cook, and if she's any better, we might have to kill her, because I don't like to be wrong. Also, I'm not prepared to eat at two people's houses.

I love love love that you drive the mommiest of all mommy cars, and yet blast the most profane rap music out the windows. I think sometimes, if we weren't friends, I'd stalk you. But in the kind, gentle way, not the bunny-and-stoves way. Mostly because I think you actually would shoot me.

You're way more funny than I could ever hope to be, you and when something really awesome happens, you do that double fist thing in the air and I'm pretty sure there's a David Lee Roth high kick coming my way.

I love that, collectively, your friends buy you "shirts for your boobies." Because, after all, they are deserving of special, special gifts all on their own. Between them and your back-pocket-button-repelling-jeans ass, there's a really good chance you can kill people just with your attire. And I mean that in the good way. No the PajamaJean kind of way, which really doesn't kill me, it just sucks away my will to live.

I love that you make that face every time we take a picture that makes it seem like you're all super innocent-y and really interested in something in the corner of your forehead. And that you loved your birthday present more than -- and let me make sure I get this right -- "anything in the world, and that includes my children..."

And, finally, I truly do think that you are magical. You always say that magical things happen to me when I go to Target, but none of that stuff ever happened until you showed up in my life. I think it was you all along. You're the first person I want to talk to, the only person who bursts into laughter when they answer the phone and all you hear is crying-laughing on the other end of the phone, and the reason that, after two years of the most insane writing project of my life, I still want to do it every single day. And, after this year's Christmas project, as much as I think it would be way easier, and less taxing, to actually become a hooker for three weeks, I can't wait to do it again next year.

That's what she said.

Don't fret turning forty, chica. You still totally only look thirty-nine. But really, you need to stop saying "But I really AM only thirty-nine!" That just makes you look...well, older. Fo' shizzle.

xoxo Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Story - Part Three

Kate, Guru Louise and I have read this first story about 14 times and I still cry ever time. It just makes my heart want to bust out of my already substantial cleavage. It also makes me brave enough to admit something to you hookers.

During this whole experiment, every time I sent an email matching hookers up (and I sent about a million of them), I said a prayer. You don't have to believe in God to be one of my b*tches, you know that already. But I believe, so every time I hit send - I prayed for the mom who gave and for her kids and the year to come. And I prayed for the mom who would receive, for her and her babies and for a year that would see her family thriving.

And I know I'm a corny old cry baby and I swear that is the last time I talk about this EVER. But I wanted you to know.

xo, Lydia


How A Hooker Saved My Son's First Christmas

I posted this to the Rants from Mommyland Facebook wall:

"Today I woke up after three hours of sleep with my newborn to my fiance telling me that the place that was supposed to be hiring him said that there is no work. Next, I received a phone call from DPSS to inform me that my application for food stamps has been denied, and that they don't care if we have more bills than we do money, we have to reapply when my fiance's unemployment runs out at the end of this month. So, I left the house feeling hopeless and in an awful mood to apply for WIC. I came home from my WIC appointment to an envelope on the counter. Inside, was a beautiful card and two giftcards worth $150 from a Hooker. The kicker? I had already received a Walmart gift card last week for $25 from a Hooker. What a marvelous, beautiful, incredible, amazing surprise. There is no return address. Please, if you read this, know how beyond grateful I am to you for your kindness. You don't know what you have done for my family. Thank you!"

Later that day, I received a notification that someone had commented. This is what they wrote:

"I wanted to stay anonymous, but I am in tears reading this. When I initially volunteered to send someone a card, I was excited to do something, but it would be dishonest if I didn't say that part of me was a little nervous at the same time. But I knew I wanted, no, NEEDED to do something for someone else. I needed to be reminded about blind trust. And what a reminder it has been for me. You see, when I was little, my Mom worked for WIC-she helped moms and their children receive services and offered support. My Mom spent her life working in child nutrition, and helping make sure families had not only food, but resources to help them improve their lives, and she taught them how to use those resources because she believed in their ability as Mothers to make a difference in their children's lives. My Mom died 2 years ago at age 59. I miss her everyday. But it was not until I had the opportunity to help someone out that I finally felt like she is with me again. And I KNOW she is smiling down at you and your new baby, believing in you every step of the way. Again, with gratitude I am the one who owes you thanks. And I'm honored to be able to help in some small way. Best wishes to you and your family."
I still cry randomly when I think of what this stranger has done for my family, and I still get chills. I was able to buy my little son Christmas presents. I was also able to buy enough yarn to crochet him plenty of warm hats and a blanket to keep him warm this winter season.
What you ladies have done... I just hope that you grasp the magnitude. Thank you so much, from this brand new Mama and her little baby.

And with that, we'll sign off for today. Mostly because we can't see, because of all the eye watering. xoxo Kate

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Story - Part Two

We'll confess something. About eight days into this Experiment, when Kate was buried in work and Lydia was buried in pre-Christmas events and her work and Guru was wondering just what in the name of Maude she had gotten herself into, we hit a wall. The wall comprised of "I've spent twelve hours today hooking [heh heh heh] and somehow there are MORE names in the inbox than when I started..." and "I've ignored my kids and my husband and I'm not going to get anything done in time for Christmas..." and "This isn't even my blog, bitches..." [Editor's Note: Nah, she didn't say that...right, Guru? -Kate] And -- as you all know -- our ratio started to change, and we weren't sure if we could help everyone and that is just an icky feeling to be all, "LET US HELP!" and then be like, "ooooohhhh, we're stupid..."
But, as fate would have it, right as that wall was giving us lovely flat faces, the letters from you guys started popping in our inbox. Letters that we didn't expect...and they said the most amazing things about each other, and the magical gifts that you were sending across the country. And we told you how we might not have enough hookers and you guys COWBOYED UP -- "Send me more!" and "I'll take TEN!" and "Hook me up again, hookers!" And, just like that, the wall vanished. And we read stories about moms who had next to nothing, but still wanted to send ten dollars to another mom. [Editor's Note: Kelly, I'm totally looking at you, girl. -Kate] and showed us this incredible display of generosity and hooker-attitude. And, it. was. awesome.
Every letter we've read had one thing in common. They all said thank you in some way to Lydia and Guru and me. But, really, we need to thank you. We had a goofy idea. An idea that was only going to be as good as you all made it. And, after some *very careful* math, over our three-week long experiment, you guys sent out nearly a hundred thousand freakin' dollars in gift cards. Are you kidding us? That's ah-may-zing.
We're waaaaay beyond the Julia Roberts hooking...we're like in the Heidi Fleiss, Elliott Spitzer hooking levels. And that's just crazy. And gross. BUT AWESOME!
So, thankyouthankyouthankyou...every single one of you hookers made this project a roaring success. We couldn't be more proud if we were riding around in a purple lowrider and wearing a felt fedora.
xoxo, Kate, Lydia and Louise
Now, on to your stories...


As I sit here, I try to think of the words to express my appreciation for all that has been done in the past week or so for me and my family, not by friends or extended family but by complete strangers. People who didn't know me or my kids. People who had no idea if they were sending these cards out to a person who was truly in need or someone who was deceiving them and taking advantage of their kindness. As I sit here thinking over the past month the tears are flowing down my face, a month ago these would be tears of sadness, that I couldn't provide for my children any Christmas, but today they are tears of pure happiness because a bunch of moms got together and made a difference in a lot of other moms lives.

I have always believed in miracles as I have three gorgeous miracles of my own. But to be completely honest with you my faith in humanity has long been strained to say the least. After what I have experianced this past week I see that humanity is still alive and well. Onto My Story:
I emailed the Helping Hookers campaign thinking that maybe just maybe there would be someone who would actually send a $20 gift card and I would be able to get my kids one gift each, all the while thinking this is never going to work. Then last Friday Dec. 16th we got hit hard, I was driving my hubs to work with two of my darling children in the van when all of the sudden it starts dying. I was about to lose my Schmidt. I got a jump and got it home but it was clear my alternator needed to be replaced. So now what little bit I had scraped up to try to get Christmas for my kids was going to have to buy an alternator. I went to my mailbox the next morning and found a red envelope...from someone in Alexandria, VA....
Me: Hun, you know anyone in Alexandria, VA
Hubs: No...but its addressed to you even though they spelled your name should open it.
So I did....inside I found a card with a note, "Hope this makes the Holiday brighter! xoxo Your Hooker! Heather......"
OH MY SCHMIDT!!!!! Is this really happening?!?!?!
Heather, yes it made my Holidays much much Brighter!
And had this story ended there it would have been still so great but it didn't...
Over the next few days, I continued to check my mailbox, mostly because I was making sure none of my pictures I had sent out to my family had been sent back. They didn't but what I found in my mailbox in the next few days was so shocking and amazing it has had me in tears for a week.
I received three more cards in the mail over the next few days, Natalie Mason and Her Boss Goose (at least I think that's what it says), Kristi Walker in Tacoma, WA, Jennifer Prout in Broken Arrow, OK....All of you are very very Helpful Hookers.
At this point I thought wow this is amazing, and I went Christmas Shopping....
But when I got home after ugly crying all the way through Target and Walmart and getting the gifts hid in the closet, I hear a knock on my door.
It's the UPS man....WHUCK!!!I have a delivery from Target he says.
I'm not expecting any deliveries I say.
You are Tiffiny Stewart aren't you?
Yes...I am.
Then its you I am looking for...Sign here.
I go back inside and open this envelope...Ellen Bolotin in Brooklyn, NY had sent me a gift card as well.
I came into this not believing thinking if it worked that maybe one person would send something to me, I am coming out of this with a whole new look on humanity, gifts for my children, and eight new people in my life to love because they really deserve it. Kate, Lydia, Heather, Natalie, Goose, Kristi, Jennifer and Ellen you all made a huge difference in my life and I will never forget this. All the other Hookers and hooked up know that many lives were touched by what was done here. With that said, Yes there is a Santa, sometimes its a mom, sometimes its a dad, sometimes its complete strangers, but yes there is a Santa.
The Stewart Family
P.S. A kind man fixed my van for half of what I thought it was going to cost us, He's a helping Hooker and didn't even know it *giggle fit*
Be Brave,
Be Strong,
Be There,
Wherever it may take you!!!!

Heya Hookers!

I'm sure you've heard this once or twice over the past few weeks, but you ladies rock. First you go and make me laugh on a regular basis (even on days when I think I'm too tired to even smile) and then you go and come up with the most amazing human experiment ever.

I signed up to be a Helping Hooker because I believed in what you were doing. I also had been feeling a bit underwhelmed about the holidays this year. There's just so much to do and it all felt like an obligation, rather than something fun and happy and wonderful. So when I read your post I saw it as a reminder of what this season is all about. I emailed you immediately and got a zing of giddiness when I received my match. I felt like I could make a difference in someone's Christmas, even just a tiny bit.

The moment I dropped that card in the mail was the best moment. I felt like I was sending Good out into the universe. Unfettered, Helping Hooker Good. There's no better holiday joy than that!

I really thought that mailing a gift card was as good as it would get (and, that was pretty darn good). I never expected to hear anything more about the card I mailed and I was okay with that. But, when I got home from work tonight there was a hand-addressed letter in the mail pile from an address I didn't recognize. I was totally curious. Juggling my toddler and our bags, I bent over to pick up the letter. It was from my Hooker match! And the envelope was thick. Before I even opened it I had chills. Slowly, I unfolded the pages and from the top of the first page an adorable young face looked up at me. The letter began, "See that adorable smiling face above? He is going to have a great Christmas now because of you." Cue the tears.

(Actually, I'm still a bit weepy typing this. Thankfully I don't have to see anyone other than family because the weepy look is not my best.)

My match and I have a lot in common: we both have toddlers, we both graduated college, we both work full-time in similar industries. I could be her if things were slightly different; if Hurricane Irene had hit a few miles east, if my husband or I lost our job, if our daughter needed major medical care. I've always been a big believer in offering help when you can, because you never know when you'll be the one needing help. This experiment has hammered that truth home.

Thank you for giving me the chance to make a difference. And thank you for reminding me that there are a lot of good people in the world.

A Helping Hooker in MA


The Grand Hooker Experiment was published on December 2nd. I wrote to you (Kate and Lydia) on December 6th. It is nearly three weeks later and my life has changed so much since then… My faith in humanity has been restored. And it was lacking in a major way.
But let’s back up for just a second…
RFML is my rock. I read you every day, finding something new to make me smile. Or cry, but in a good way ;) You inspired me to write my own blog, which as of today only has 2 entries… the first post I wrote was published on December 1st, the next day I read The Grand Hooker Experiment.... (what a fabulous title!) …It all seemed rather serendipitous!! Here it is:
“I need a miracle...
I remember the first time I said those words. I was 19 and it was at a Grateful Dead concert somewhere in Ohio or Michigan. I was standing barefoot in the parking lot - dirty, sweaty, surely on drugs, and hoping beyond all hope that someone had a ticket to the show for me. That's what a miracle used to be. I suppose my miracles morphed into the things that people who don't have a God pray for. Things like a new job, a car, a house. To not get pulled over by that cop you just sped by.
So does that mean that I am one of those non-spiritual people? Because I'm finding myself praying for things. Not patience. Not tolerance. Not kindness. I'm praying for a false miracle. So far the only miracles that have happened in my life are my two children and me getting sober. And staying sober.
I suppose I need to refresh myself on my situation. I am a sucker for the 'bad boy'. I have spent my life in one tumultuous relationship after another. One of those relationships granted me those first two miracles. My boys (I'll call my nearly 8 year-old 'Pie' and and my nearly 6 year-old 'Booby') have brought me more pain and pleasure than I thought humanly possible. I would die without them. But, man, did they change everything. I am no longer the 'free spirit' that I used to be. I am a mother. Motherhood = Responsibility. I have no regrets. I like the responsible me much better than the free-spirit me. Regardless, I'm different now. My priorities are my boys. Period. Full-stop. I have learned how to not need so many things for myself. I have learned how to wear hats on bad hair days. I have learned that shaving my legs once a month is OK. I have learned that peeing in private is a thing of the past - at least for the next 12 years. I have learned that the pure love I have for these children has turned me into a creature of protection. I want to shield them from everything uncomfortable, painful, bad and ugly.
Which very indirectly leads me to my needed miracle......
My life has taken so many twists and turns and I have tried to remain the strongest woman I can be through sheer will-power. Over the past 4 years I have also learned, not through my children, that will-power will get me nowhere. Fast. I can't will my rent to get paid. Nor can I will for a better a life. So, by that third miracle, I have found my higher power. I call it/he/she God. It makes it easy, although I suppose if I were to name my God, it's/his/her name might be something like "Ahhhhhhhhhh?". So I'll go with God. And in order to get the things that my boys and I need, not want, I actually have to work for them. That means no miracles. Just work. Work work work work work.
Being a single-mom in a foreign country, my opportunities are somewhat limited. My first, and biggest limitation, is language. I speak English. And only English. I can't have a 'normal' job like everyone else (people who live in their Mother tongue country). Even if I spoke the language of this country, it would not allow me to help my 2nd grader with his home-work. Or have a relationship with a speaker of that language.
Which very indirectly leads me to my needed miracle......”
When I wrote to you, I had no idea what to expect. And you said that giving information about me was not necessary. But I felt compelled. I’m not a somethin’ for nothin’ kinda gal. I’m also a Leo which means two things: 1 – I had to try to prove myself and 2 – I don’t have much humility. That has made all of this extremely difficult, painful, eye-opening and rewarding all at the same time… Here are a few excerpts from my letter… “I realize that I am probably not an ideal candidate for your Grand Hooker Experiment - I live in Prague, Czech Republic... But I am a desperate single mom. I have lived here for 11 years and have been raising my two boys alone since 2007... …my Slovak ex-husband is all wrapped up in his new life with his new, young, childless girlfriend… and only pays $225 a month for the boys and I have lost every appeal to increase my support. I can no longer afford to live here on my own... it's all just too much.
Most people think that I must live such an exotic, glamorous life because I live in Europe.... If y'all only knew ;) It's pretty much the same, just different :) I don't have a car, we use public transport… …On a typical day, I'm up at 6:00, get the boys and myself ready for the day - dressed, fed, pack lunches, teeth brushed, shoes, coats, backpacks, door – it’s our normal routine between 6-7:30. Get Pie to 2nd grade, get Booby to the kindergarten one block over, and head to work. Work all day, go directly to pick up the boys at their latch-key clubs before they close at 5:00, stop at the small market on the corner to pick up something for dinner, head home, get the boys fed, homework done, baths, books and bed. And that is my day most days. I can't complain, we are healthy, but I'm tired.
This holiday season has me panicking. I have never been so broke in all my life. In addition to Christmas coming, Pie turns 8 on December 20th and Booby turns 6 on January 31st. I have a pit in my stomach that keeps me from smiles and sleep.”
Then along came my Helping Hookers. You know who you are. You became my Angels. I received the Christmas miracle that I had been praying for. I couldn’t even believe it. I had Christmas for my boys. Santa (Hookers) came and left gifts under the tree. Even a box of goodies from my Italian Hooker (thank you again!!).
I can’t wait until next year, or the year after, or the year after that, when I get to be a Helping Hooker. I want to wear one of those booby grabbing tees :) I want to be the Angel, like the ones that helped me give the Christmas I had prayed for, that gives a Needy Hooker some help. Because if giving felt anything as good as receiving, sign me up for the Lifetime Hooker Program. [Editor's Note: *Snort.* Lifetime Hooker Program. Awesome. - Kate]
Thank you to my Helping Hookers. Thank you Kate and Lydia, for being there for me. Everyday. 24/7. Y'all have helped me more than you could ever know....
Much love,
Your Needy Hooker that got Helped.
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Monday, December 26, 2011

My Story, Part One

As promised, we've read every word of every sentence of Your Stories. And we have kept Ma Bell busy with our calling each other and crying over the phone and seriously there's not enough Kleenex in the house for all this excess facial watering. And now, we're sharing your stories...

Aunt Mary, in her infinite, awesome Aunt Mary wisdom, wrote us the other day and said we needed a bigger picture and clue to those posts that will make you wish you had a big handful of tissues in your hand rather than a dirty toddler sock and what might be the remains of a sparrow that the dog just coughed up. Good call, Aunt Mary.

So, we present the Ingrid Warning...because no one -- NO ONE -- cries more beautifully than she does when Humphrey Bogart sends her away. We wish we could cry like that...from now on, we'll classify them as such:

One Ingrid:
gives you the warm fuzzies; if you're Lydia, you might shed a pretty tear or two;
Two Ingrids: gives you that tickle in your nose that happens justbefore you might cry;
Three Ingrids: grab the box, especially if you're wearing mascara;
Four Ingrids: don't bother with the makeup, Lydia is a mess, and Kate is pinching herself to make the funny feeling stop; and...
FIVE Ingrids: embrace the tears, ladies...this is an ugly cry headed your way. Avoid mirrors.

Over the next five days, we'll be bringing you all varieties of Ingrids. Kate, as you know, is the quintessential Queen of the Fives. She's a mean hooker like that. But, these will most definitely hit your happy threes, probably fours. And, if you happen to see your Hookee on this, count on a Level Five Ingrid. might just wanna keep the tissues handy.

We love you all like cake. xoxo Kate and Lydia


Hello Fellow Hookers,
I wanted to write to thank my "Helpful Hooker." I wrote in asking for assistance. In September my not-so-wonderful husband decided that I had thrown myself too much into (his words not mine) "being super mom, a super professional and worrying too much about the house and kids." He has since decided to move in with his girlfriend (whom I'm yet to meet but willing to bet she's young and childless). He later explained that it was all my fault because I was "so worried about the house and kids" and I had "stopped trying and began to bore" him. Cest'la'vie I say! BUT, since he moved out he has yet to help me financially at all.
I am the proud mother of two wonderful boys, one who's 7 and one who's 19months. I explained to my 7 year old that Christmas would be tight this year but he is wonderful and understood 100% even offered to give up some of his toys to give to his little brother. Ok enough of the sob story...
My "Helpful Hooker" has allowed me to purchase a few things that my son wanted. In knowing that it was going to be a tight Christmas he and I went through the catalogs and found cheaper things. Luckily he's a typical 7 year old boy and really doesn't need much as we live in a wonderful neighborhood and he has many friends. A football, an angry birds stuffed animal, and of course he wanted to get his brother "a new toy that's all his." Explaining to my son what you did to help was a wonderful lesson and in turn, he has since cleaned his room and we will be donating toys he no longer uses to local charities. (And HIS ROOM IS CLEAN!!) Thank you ladies!!
My Hooker has allowed me to purchase a few things for my wonderful son but also to remind me, through him, that Christmas is about the people, not the things.
Kate, Lydia - Thank you.

Hi Kate and Lydia-
I am a single mom of four children. My awsomesauce 8 year old son, and my gravity defying 6 year old triplets. (No, no in vitro. Literally "Surprise! You're pregnant! oh and by the way, you will be having three babies at once!" Whuck?!?) Life for us is very fun...and interesting...and hard. All three of my triplets have autism, from low to high functioning. But, whatever. They are the coolest little people on earth. When my ex decided he didn't want to be a husband or a father and ran away to whereabouts unknown right after they were born, I pulled up my big girl panties and said "I can DO this."
Christmas is always pretty stressful here. Trying to keep in the spirit is hard sometimes when you worry about money a lot. This year, I started squirreling away a couple dollars here and there just to be safe. I was doing pretty well in not having to spend it. Though a whole lot of unusual expenses came up---van broke down, extra money needed for therapy, and all of the "stuff" that comes with daily life with four children.
A couple of weeks ago, I was watching my kids play together. In a house dominated by children with autism, this is HUGE progress. To see them so engaged with each other, and my oldest right in the thick of it being his goofy self, it was an awesome sight to behold. UNTIL---slow motion time---he tripped over his sister. Glasses----flying through the air---***SMASH***. On the floor. Itty bitty pieces. It must be told that he, well...he's a total clutz. He trips over his own feet constantly. His little face looked at me with big round eyes as I forced myself to say "It's ok honey, we'll have to go back to the eyeglass place for another pair" while trying not to FREAK RIGHT OUT. After I got them into bed, I just sobbed. It felt like no matter what I do, it just can't seem to work out. Big ugly cry.
The next morning after I got the kids off to school with a note to my oldests teacher that he wouldn't be able to see very well that day with his old prescription on, I cried again. Getting sick of myself, I popped on over to MommyLand for a pick me up. You see, you guys are totally my escape---you make me laugh, cry and feel connected with other mommies. And there it was--a porny sounding experiment. I had to debate with myself for a minute whether to email or not. It's HARD sometimes to ask for help, even when you desperately need it. So I sent you an e-mail "Hi.....really?" I kept it very short, didn't really share any of my story with you, because I knew you would be getting a LOT of emails.
The next few days at my house were crazier than usual, so when I check in with RFML again, I got to see all of the love pouring out from one Hooker to the next. It was making such a difference in everyone's holiday spirits. It was just the best thing ever.

The next day I went to my mailbox to find a padded envelope. Opening it up, there was a Target gift card for me, with the note" Hope this helps your family to have a slightly merrier Christmas! from one mama to another :)".Ugly crying, I look at the address and realize that it traveled from Prince George, British Columbia all the way here to Michigan.
I thank you, Kate and Lydia, for doing this. You have no idea how much you have helped this Hooker who is trying so hard to do the best for her kids. And to my Hooker Erin, from Canada, thank you soooooo much. Santa was a Hooker this year. ;)
Much love to Mommyland,
Stephanie J.


How has the Helping Hookers helped me?
I am a stay at home mom to 4 children (ages 10, 7, 3, 1) and a co-parent to my two nephews who are being raised by my parents next door (ages 7, 5). My husband is a police officer – not a lot of dough coming home. He is also a full time student working on his doctorate. In England. What that means is essentially I am a single parent of about 6 with help from my mom. My husband lives and works stateside. He works swing shifts so when he is home, there is no routine that I can count on him to do. He goes over to England for consults with his professor and for research help. He’ll be leaving in January for about 3 months. We don’t know where the money is going to come from, but God will provide. I will stay home and raise the kids, pay the bills, keep the house and yard, and go to school. Oh, yeah, I’m starting school full time in January. For a myriad of reasons, this is just the cards we’ve been dealt. We’re trying to make the most of it, but usually I feel like I’m pulled in 15 different directions. My temper gets short when kids are asking for help and the baby is crying for something to drink and my nephews (who have their own problems) are needing my attention and the phone rings and I have to sign papers for the kids’ school and I have to get lunches made and I could go on and on and on. It’s frustrating.
For Christmas this year, my children are getting homemade gifts. They’ll each get one store – bought gift. The rest are masks and capes, dry erase boards made from picture frames, a cute Angry Birds bowling set (made from painted soup cans and a painted ball), and a couple other little things. I’ve told them not to expect too much this year. My mom would tell us that from year to year, but we would always get more than we imagined. My little ones are truly going to have a small Christmas. But it will be huge in the amount of love and fun and blessings we’ll have received.
But when I went out to the mailbox and saw this Priority Mail envelope in there, I wasn’t sure what was going on. I thought maybe is was a bill collector serving me a summons or a notification of repo or something along those lines. I never in a million years thought what I would find in there would be anything remotely good. I knew about the Helping Hookers and was so excited that you ladies were doing this. I was thinking that maybe next year I would be able to participate as a Helper. My mom had submitted my name without my knowing. I opened the envelope and saw a Christmas card and a couple packages of stickers. I was thinking, “This is SOOOO totally a scam!” When I read my card, and what my Helping Hooker had written, my breath was taken away! Words cannot describe the wonder and humbleness I felt. To think that someone, a complete random stranger had taken from HER life to add to mine was . . . incredible! I immediately sat down and wrote a thank you note to my angel. I sent it as soon as I had finished. I hope she will see, despite my many errors and mistakes, just how amazing and grateful I am for her. Her monetary gift is wonderful, yes, but it is more that she could give without judging, but with a happy heart!
Thank you, Lydia and Kate, soooooo much for all you do. For sharing your lives with us and giving us glimpses into other peoples’ insanity! This blog is so much more than a blog, and it’s because of YOU!
this anonymous hooker

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Target is F**king Magical, Y'all

I had a plan. And a list. And, hello, lists are non-negotiable. So I'm still wondering how I wound up with $535 dollars worth of unnecessary extraneous crap-McLovin-is-gonna-kill-me awesome stuff from Target.
[Editor's Note: This was actually her entire holiday shopping. As much as it killed her to do it all at the last minute, she sort of had to because of her swanky new job and also a certain experiment that sort of kept her from doing anything holiday-related in her real life. xo, Lydia]

I should have known better than to go super early on a Saturday morning, because it defies the Target Rule. Which goes like this: The amount of time you spend in Target is inversely proportional to the number of people who are currently there. [Editor's Note: English please, Kate. Gah. Stop acting all science-y. Hooker. - Lydia]

Fine. If you walk into Target and there's thirty-eleven hundred people there, you quickly race to the kitty litter and toilet paper and ketchup and you get the hell out. However, when there are seven people there, by the time you leave, you can re-stock the shelves, because you've looked at everything. [Editor's Note Back: Duh. You're the hooker. -Kate]

I went right after it opened. By the time I got to the checkout, I was six days closer to Christmas, and the cart had stuff that I'm still not sure why I bought it. And Sharpies. A. LOT. OF. SHARPIES. I'm pretty sure I can recolor, ummm, Earth.

The dude at the checkout counter was sooo awesome. Right up until the end when he was all, "Here you go, Mrs. McLovin. Here's your ten dollar gift card!" And I was all, "SWEET! Wait. How much money do you have to spend to get a gift card?"

Target Guy: "You get one for spending seventy-five dollars. You're welcome!"
Me: "Uhhh, I just spent $535 dollars."
Target Guy: "Yeah. You qualify. Congratulations!"

Me: "You're cute. But I should get, like, twenty-seven of them."
Target Guy: [looks at ceiling - I think he was doing math. Math is hard.]

Me: "If you would have told me, I would have divided up the order into mini-seventy-five dollar purchases."
Target Guy: "But you didn't."
Me: "Because you didn't tell me about the gift cardiness."

Target Guy: "But you still get one! Congratulations! Thanks for shopping at Target!"
Me: [glares at Target Guy] "Can I use my ten dollar gift card."
Target Guy: "YES! The next time you come."
Me: "You're lucky it's Christmas and I'm all benevolent-y and stuff..."
Target Guy: "Benevolent-y. Yes, that's what I was thinking."

And then I sorta liked that he was mouthy, so despite being 26 giftcards short, I gave him McLovin's my credit card. And that's when the family in the next checkout lane caught my attention.

It was their son. He was bouncing around and throwing a ball and then fetching it because throwing is easy and catching is hard. So he was skidding all over the checkout aisles trying to retrieve a ball that went up in a fairly vertical way and then came down in a way that was as close as I can imagine to trying to catch an oiled pig. And he didn't have on shoes because he was using the built in feet in his pajamas as shoes, which is awesome because he had on a coat and a hat and even those little mittens poking out of the edges of his coat sleeves because the mittens are connected by a realllllllly long piece of yarn or whatever that makes it like potential kid handcuffs, which really let's face it, that's brilliant. And I can only imagine that his mom was trying to get out the door before the Target Rule kicked in and ruined her shopping trip and was like, "FINE! You have a coat and a hat and you even have mittens. Screw shoes." which totally makes her my kind of mom with the exception that I love shoes and basically start my outfit with footwear. Semantics.

So, errant ball...and I'm done and supposed to be leaving. But I waited, because I hear this.

Husband: "Please. Jennifer. Stop. It's not going to work."
Wife: "It will."
Husband: "Honey, I can't -- we can't afford this if..."

Wife: "It'll work. It has to work. Please work...please work."

And she opened her purse and took out an envelope and took out a gift card inside that envelope. And she paused and slid it through that little credit card machine.

And I couldn't move.

And for a moment, there was this -- nothingness. The cash register was quiet. The cashier was quiet. They were quiet. I think by this point I had forgotten to breathe.

And just like that the little receipt spit out like a streamer at a fourth of July parade. And she started crying and her husband wrapped his arm around her. And they started loading their bags in the cart.

Husband: "Show me the card again."

Wife: [handed him the envelope]
Husband: "Who is it?"
Wife: "I don't know.
Husband: "I still don't get it."

Wife: [smiled and shrugged her shoulders]
Husband: [kissed her on the forehead]

And right as they were finishing up and heading out, she looked up and saw me standing there.
"Oh my god. It's Kate."

And then the tears came. In public. I should also maybe point out at the moment that I had on no makeup, hadn't brushed my hair, and was wearing...sneakers. I was as un-Kate as I could be. I'd like to think I'd be unrecognizable.

Jennifer: "Hi."
Me: "Hi."
Jennifer: "I got Christmas stuff because of you."
Husband: "Who is this?"
Jennifer: "She's the reason we got the giftcard. [to me] I want to hug you, but you don't do that."
Me: "Yeah, no. I think I'll just stand right here, OK?"
Jennifer: "OK." [more tears] "Thank you for doing this."

Me: "No, please. You guys did this."

And I looked down at my cart full of random crap and too many Sharpies and maybe a T-box, and -- from all my mad spy skillzzzz -- knew that hers had socks and cereal and a big box of toilet paper and definitely Legos which made me happy and let's not forget the slippery ball in the hands of that sweet squishy boy and I wished more than anything there was a sweet elderly lady with the obligatory tissue tucked in her sleeve.

And that's when squishy snuggled up to his mama and asked to go to the bathroom...and I smiled and maybe laughed a little, and started to head out the door. And as I got to the car, I wished - more than even the Tissue Lady - that I could have peeked at that card, and seen what one of you had written to Jennifer. I hoped that it said something like "MERRY CHRISTMAS, HOOKER!" and had made her laugh and cry at the same time, and maybe even disbelieve just a little bit that it would actually work. Because who sends a gift card to a total stranger?

Lefty is right about the age when he starts doubting whether Santa exists. Last year, I read him "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" mostly because I'm not ready for my son to give up the beauty that comes from believing in something improbable. This year, I let him read your stories. He might not be sure about Santa, but this he knows:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.

So, thank you MommyLand. Thank you for showing us that love and generosity and devotion exist, even among strangers. Thank you for sharing that beauty and joy that comes when something magical and extraordinary happens.

And, for me especially, thank you for making it happen at Target. Oh how I love that store.

Oh, and I'm really sorry if you tried to buy Sharpies. I am trying to color the Earth, after all...

xoxo Kate

PS We'll be posting all of your "My Story" stories all next week as Lydia and I and all of MommyLand spend the week with our families. Merry Christmas, hookers.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Christmas Flu for Mommy

Today's post comes from our dear friend, Mrs. Darling. She has contributed many wonderful posts over time and this one is about how much fun it is to get the flu right before Christmas...


I’m going to wrap presents today. I’m also going to haul out a brick of cookie dough that’s been taking up space in the freezer since thanksgiving and make delicate confections of wondrous delight. I’m going to find the rest of the playmobile holy family so that the Baby Jesus will no longer be set upon by the three wise pirates. From this day on I am going to be a Christmas beast.

I will do this with confidence (if not any actual skill) because I have recently emerged from the dark side a wretched bout of seventy-two-hour-but-let’s-give-it-another-day-since-I-am-still-a-feverishly-damp-sight-to-see-and-no-one-will-want-me-to-volunteer-at-the-holiday-book-fair-looking-like-this-anyways-flu.

For me, the flu has always been a tidy kind of illness. I never feel the symptoms until I’m suddenly tackled with the three headed hydra of aching body, fever and nausea. It comes as an almost blessed kind of epiphany. One minute you’re in the parking lot of your local big box toy store emporium with a sense of jingle bell purpose in the air, and the next you are realizing the crusty juice box by your foot is emitting by far the most foul stench imaginable and that you need to get rid of that and the contents of your breakfast in short order.

I found my way home after that unfortunate incident by a combination of luck and I-shouldn’t –be-operating-machinery adrenaline. I then looked at the to do list of holiday what-have-you that I had smugly made the night before. Shopping? My burgeoning headache told me that I’d be lucky if I could even point and click online. Decorate? I looked at the storage boxes holding all things seasonal. Maybe the Darling children would like to do it if I unplugged the router and cable box. Making and freezing soup for next week’s potluck? Ha.

I waited for the Darling children to arrive from school. Once all assembled, I made the solemn announcement that their mother was sick. Not under the weather, not cranky, not (ye gods) going to have a baby…I was yucky flu sick and was now going to collapse into bed. Daddy would be home soon to fulfill all their pizza desires.

What followed that night and into the next was a full on series of fever hallucinations the likes that I know could never be replicated by mere pharmaceuticals. I wore a green elf costume and was trying to make homemade Hallmark ornaments for everyone I knew. I was doing this in an effort to quell the wrath of the crazy Target lady who had taken residence in the corner of my un-sorted sock basket. I tried to tell her if she would just be cool and revert back to Maria Bamford, I could make the damn things, but she was having none of it and soon brought her posse of Real Housewives to boss me around. (I tend to keep the TV on when I’m sick- can you tell?)

Every so often a Darling child would tiptoe in my room and ask if I was going to die and, if not, was I going to be able to bring the gingerbread snack for tomorrow and would I have time to hem the rest of the choir gown because the performance was in four days and did I ever get the gold glitter and not the glitter glue because those were two totally different things and did we have any milk because it’s cold enough for hot chocolate and…I ran back to the waiting arms of the Real target Housewives and promised to do better.

And I did. I was so blissed out happy once I could stand up out of bed without swaying or retching, that I knew I was really going to enjoy the holly jolliness of what was left of the next few weeks. I’ve kept the bar so very low during my mommy career, holiday –wise (everything left to last minute, cookies are forgotten, hoards for friends insulted that they never get cards) that I have nowhere to go but up. Even if the next few days allow me to only rise to the mediocre, it will be done sans sickness, and that will make it a very happy holiday for me.

Oh! Just in case anyone was still wondering: my flu, and all of the whining that came with it, was indeed one of those ever so popular ‘first world’ problems that everyone keeps talking about. I had friend and family to pick up slack if needed. Had I been seriously ill, I could have dug out my insurance card and crawled over to my doctor. If the Happy Holiday Hooker drive has taught me anything, it is that all too many families can be thrown into chaos if something as little as flu mucks up the plans for work, childcare, and anything else under the sun. I was blessed with help and support. Now that I am properly seasoned for the holidays, I plan to spread the blessings around. The crazy Target lady of my fever dreams will be proud of me.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011