Thursday, October 26, 2017

Summer of 2017: A scrapbook

This is late and incomplete, which actually makes it a pretty good metaphor for 2017, but here's a quick recap of the summer that was. As you may note from the photos below. It was a really fun summer, a welcome and restorative respite after a really lousy first five months of the early year.

In late May/early June I took an amazing vacation out West. I posted a detailed recounting of our awesome itinerary. The trip took us to South Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana. DH and I are working toward seeing all 50 states together before we turn 50, which is just around the corner.

The National Parks we visited were amazing. And exciting as you can see:

Father's Day fun.

An epic pie competition. I lost the contest at the farmer's market, but I won it on social media.
Impeach pie

Learned to make lots of cool stuff at mHUB. I got skillz!

See what I read this summer by clicking here.

Someone got his wisdom teeth removed.

Another someone lived in the city and was completely self-supporting (after mom took him on the most expensive mall trip of her life) for the summer. I'm super proud of him.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

(Im) Peach Pie Recipe

Im Peach Pie recipe
History has shown that I'm unlikely to win the pie contest at the local farmer's market, so I only enter if I have a reason that is compelling enough to help me ignore the sting of defeat. For example, one year I made a cricket flour crust. The sweet filling masked the Earthiness of the cricket flour (and it was blended with traditional flour, anyway).

I hadn't planned to enter this year, but then, inspiration struck when I wondered aloud on Facebook whether one could make a peach pie with nectarines. Duh! It occurred to me as many friends chimed in to remind me that, that would be a nectarine pie. I hadn't heard of such a thing. But that got me thinking about fake peach pies and fake orange things and fake presidents.

I had my 2017 pie! It didn't win the contest, but it won on social media, which is all I really wanted, anyway.

PEACH PIE description:

This pie is the BEST, probably better than any PIE that has been entered into this contest for the last TEN YEARS. I had to build a WALL around my kitchen last night to keep my family from eating the pie. That's how good it is. ENJOY!

The BEAUTIFUL bottom crust was made with oil, flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, and vinegar.

The TREMENDOUS filling was made from nectarines (#FAKEPEACHES) sugar, lemon juice, salt from dried up liberal tears (Kidding! Just the regular kind), cornstarch, covfefe (a proprietary blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom), and vanilla.

The flaky top crust was made with flour, butter, and salt and has an egg whitewash.

I neglected to mention that my recipe riffed off of a nectarine pie recipe that was supposedly a favorite of the Obama White House. (Its crust calls for butter, lard, AND cream. Can you imagine?)

Several people looked at the pie and clearly saw "I'm peach" and thought it was simply a cute declaration. Others picked up on my more subversive message, even without the description. #winning.

I'll save you the search. Here's my triple berry cricket pie from 2014.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Why I Can't Have Nice Things and BTW, There's a Folktale on My Face

Yeah, I thought this blog had outlived its usefulness, too. But it turns out there ain't no pity party like the one I can throw myself here, so let's get to it. I'm rapidly approaching 50 and my skin shows it. A few years ago when I pointed out various white spots (basal cell cancer!), dark spots (melanoma!), blotchiness and wrinkles, to my dermatologist she gamely described them as "signs of maturity." She also noted that I probably had a lot of fun in the sun when I was younger. You know, back in the olden days when tanning oil was in vogue and the term SPF hadn't been invented.

Anyhoo, I was overdue for a skin check. And now my skin is more. More freckly, more wrinkly, more discolored and as blotchy as ever.

But I recently learned a secret that apparently most women my age and older already know: getting work done. Work as in facial peels, laser treatments, chemical fills, Botox! Apparently, I missed this stop on the crazy train of life, the one that helps older women look younger and fresher.

So I was excited to see the dermatologist and learn about my treatment options.

Introducing the new Kim Moldofsky!


I was eager to clear up my skin. You know, make my outside reflect my inside and all that. In theory, at least. The truth is my inside is kind of a mess right now.

Which is essentially what the doctor told me. No fancy facial treatments for you, missy! He pointed out that my arthritis is flaring, my medication is still in flux, and anyway many immunosuppressants make the skin super sensitive to sunlight...and things like lasers. You're a candidate for complications, things going wrong. It could lead to trouble.

I look fine for a woman my age, he reassuredOr maybe he called my skin appropriate. He might have thrown me a bone and tossed out the word good-looking, but I think I'm making that up. Perhaps he used that most passive-aggressive of medical terms, unremarkable.

At any rate, either I have to apply a shit ton of makeup (and manage not to have it drip down my face during a sweaty hot flash) (aso, I'd have to buy the makeup and learn to use it) or I just have to deal.

But then, as my appointment was ending, I called his attention to a small red spot on the side of my nose. It kinda looks like a small sore, but it's not. Every now and again, it gets a small scab. It's been like that for years.

Suddenly, his eyes lit up*. He grabbed his liquid nitrogen and froze that motherf--ker into oblivion leaving me with dime-sized blister on the side of my nose. Not just a mark, but a thing with a bubbly three dimensions. Think about it. A dime is not small unless you compare it to, say, a silver dollar.

A week later the wound has flattened out but looks like a ginormous zit that has been obsessively picked over to the point of major skin damage. A bandage over the conspicuous area calls attention to it as much as the uncovered version does, though the bandage adds a sense of intrigue, I suppose.

Any day now it will turn into a more typical scab. Probably.

Because I hang out with a lot of middle-aged folks, they understand that it's an ugly dermatological intervention and not a disgustingly gross overpicked zit, but still. I feel worse than ever.

And then last night I recalled an old Yiddish folk tale.

A poor shtetl couple lives in a cramped, noisy, overcrowded house with their six children. The parents are at their wits' end. They consult the rebbe, who advises them to bring their dog into the house. They are confused, but do what the rebbe says.


The situation gets worse, so they consult him again. This time he advises them to bring in their goat. So they do. The unceasing bleating adds to the chaos.

Back to the rebbe they go.

This time he advises them to bring their cow into the house.

More mooing, more mess.

Back again to the rebbe, who suggests they bring in the sheep as well.

Finally, they can't stand the noisy, crowded messy hovel anymore. "Rebbe, help us! The situation is intolerable!"

This time he advises them to remove all the animals. They do. And it turns out that having only the noise and the mess of their children is not so bad after all.

So it is with my skin. Or put in modern terms:

Me: Doctor, my skin is a mess. Help me face the world with confidence.
Doctor: Hold my beer.

Once this festering very visible wound is gone (God willing, in a week or two assuming it heals normally and there is no potentially cancerous sign in its wake, which is the presumed outcome), I'll look at my uneven, blotchy face in the mirror and remind myself that it could be worse.

*I jest

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

An Unofficial Sneak Peek at Season 3 of Netflix's Grace and Frankie

Season 3 sneak peak of Grace and Frankie
This is your warning, when I say I'm going to publish an unofficial sneak peek at next year's season of Grace and Frankie, what I mean is I'm making sh*t up about what's ahead on the show. No behind-the-scenes tours or special blogger privileges here.

You see, I nearly lost it during the final moments of the season finale when Grace (Jane Fonda) put her arm around Frankie (Lily Tomlin) and boldly declared they were going into business together:

We're making vibrators for women with arthritis!

The whole scene is destined to be a classic.

Grace and Frankie aspire to make a vibrator with an ergonomic grip that does its job with out too much pressure or stress on delicate body parts. And the device will be accompanied by instructions large type print.

The bottom line is that the two of them are starting a company that will make a physical product. And I work in a business incubator for people who aspire to make physical products (as opposed to software).

A few weeks ago I read Disrupted (affiliate link) by Dan Lyons. Dan was a lifelong journalist who'd worked his way up to be the technology editor at Newsweek. Then, like so many of his peers, he received the boot. At age 50, he had to start over. After all, it's not easy to find well-paying jobs in journalism these days. 

Dan landed at a software start-up, where he was nearly twice the age of his co-workers. Hijinks ensued and he wrote a book about. And now he writes for my favorite show, HBO's Silicon Valley.

Though I lack a traditional career path, I have a Master's degree and I'm good at pivoting, as they say in the start-up world. I've been a dolphin trainer, social worker, team development leader, marketing consultant, freelancer writer, and social media darling. And let's not forget I'm also mom to two teenage boys.

Aside from parenting and marriage, this blog, which I started in 2005, represents one of my life's most sustained commitments. But even when it comes to blogging, I've reinvented myself over the years leaving a sprinkling of websites in my wake. I'm currently most active on The Maker Mom and STEM Kids Chicago, but even those have slowed down since I started my gig at the incubator. However much I slowed down on this site, I could just never bring myself to cut the chord and hit delete.

Past careers aside, I felt a certain kinship as I read Dan's book. I began to think of myself as his female counterpart: a career-changing mom who's worked out of her home (and pajamas) for most of the last 20 years takes a part-time job in a scrappy start-up incubator in the Chicago. Hijinks ensue.

They have, believe me.

Unlike Dan, however, I'm loving the job and have no plans to write a tell-all book. That said, when Grace announced that she and Frankie had an idea for a product that they want to bring to market...BINGO! 

I know that story. I live that story every day. Or at least twice a week when I'm at the incubator. 

I am the female version of Dan Lyons! I can write the story of Grace and Frankie as they develop their product.

Bonus: I'm also a bit like Grace. I have arthritis, wear a brace on my right wrist (due to typing, not masturbation), and have trouble deciphering tiny print.

In short, I felt called to write a storyline for Season 3.

To be clear, actual, paid Hollywood types are already writing the Season 3 scripts. Or perhaps they've already done so. "TV producers love it when you send them scripts on spec. Why don't you do that?" my husband advised me the other day (but only because he was annoyed with me).

I don't plan to write actual scripts and send them to Marta Kaufman, Jane, or Lily. This blog space will do fine. I'm just going to outline Grace and Frankie's story arc as they develop their product. I was compelled to jot out my thoughts the other day. Compelled! 

Admittedly, writing fan fiction for a show about two elderly women whose ex-husbands ran off and got married to each other sounds, well, lame. But, hey, someone has forged this path already. And anyway, the show's main theme is something that has been key in my life: reinvention.

So stay tuned for a completely fictional sneak peak at Season 3 of Grace and Frankie!

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A New Milestone

I remember walking into my New Mom's Group a bit frazzled, but triumphant, that my tiny infant and I had arrived on time! My celebration was short-lived. No one makes it to New Mom's Group on time. I'd misdirected my energy into meeting a false deadline. That might have been the last time I arrived anywhere on time.

Because we were, by default, early, I watched as the facilitator wrote out name tags for the group members.

Maddie's mom
Jason's mom
Max's mom

Ummm. "Don't we go by our first names?" I naively queried.

"No, you're Isaac's mom now," she replied.

"No, I'm still Kim," I thought, "but I do have an beautiful baby named Isaac. Do not strip me of my identity."

Ultimately I only remembered who was who in relation to their babies, so the name tags did make sense. And now that I'm a dog owner, it's the same thing at the dog park or in training classes. Yes, hi, I'm Tesla's mommy.

And let's me honest, kids do mess with your identity. How can living beings who reside in your house, eat your food, and make you drive them everywhere without paying a cent toward of rent or expenses not mess with your sense of self? Thank goodness they are cute and love you, and think you are the best person ever, at least for a few years.

During the preschool and early elementary years, I was tickled when kids who didn't know my last name would approach me as I volunteered in their classrooms, "Isaac's mom? Can you help me with this?" My heart would swell.

I thought those years were behind me. But just last week at work, I met a college-age intern that my son had worked on a project with. As the young man introduced himself to me, I realized who he was and then said, no doubt in an embarrassingly loud voice, "Oh my gosh! Hi! I'm Isaac's mom!"

He's developed a good reputation* for himself. If I stick around the Chicago tech scene, I feel like this is bound to happen again.

And again.

I'll try to keep my voice down in the future.

*He once so impressed his colleagues, that they mistakenly thought he must have amazing parents. There was some joking that maybe they should have me in to talk about parenting as part of their otherwise tech-focused speaker series. Maybe I had some tips to share? I nearly cried tears of joy, touched by the wonderful impression he was clearly making on his coworkers and that it was my doing, but mostly my husband and I had a good laugh over it.

Friday, May 20, 2016

This Made Me Sad

You know what cool businesses have in their restrooms? Tampons. Free tampons. And maybe pads, too.

I had a discussion on this very topic yesterday. I mentioned that at Cards Against Humanity HQ (yes, that Cards Against Humanity), they have a boxes of tampons in their gender-neutral bathrooms.

In fact, on a recent visit to CAH, before I left my meeting, I told my hosts I wanted to pop into one of the bathrooms to take a picture of the tampons. Because, you know, I'm cool like that. And so are they.

{Wait, I hear a certain teen's voice echoing in my head, "Mom, you're not using the term cool properly." I heard him say something similar a few months ago when we were hanging with the cousins and I suggested we all "Netflix and chill."}

Anyway, upon closer inspection there appear to be other feminine hygiene supplies instead of, or maybe in addition to, tampons. Either way it's a win for women.

Although let's be clear, it's a win in the same way that one might walk into any restroom and be like, "Yeah! This one has free toilet paper!"

If feminine hygiene supplies are unused there's no need to be squeamish about them, guys. And by guys, I do mean men. Boys, too. Male humans.

So anyway, related to my conversation yesterday, I was trying to find a personal essay I'd read on the topic. In my attempt find it, I'd guessed at a few keyword combos to Google. You know how Google serves up related keyword searches? Well, look at the list of related searches that came up when I Googled "Essay about not hiding tampons."

Eight alternate suggestions that are all about hiding tampons. Like it was opposite day for Google's* algorithms.


This made me sad. Not that I've ever whipped a tampon out of my purse and showed it off to everyone around me before heading to the restroom. But the fact that these are apparently oft-searched terms was a reminder of how shameful our society makes a natural, recurring biological act that affects roughly half of the human population.

And so I leave you with this decades-old essay from Gloria Steinem, If Men Could Menstruate.

*Despite what their algorithm might indicate, Google's Chicago office does provide free tampons in the women's restrooms.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

We hosted a Mother's Day brunch with my parents, in-laws, and 4/5 of my SIL's family today. We're horrible about taking pictures at such events. I wish we had snapped a few shots of our group. I gave the grandmas photos, but that's not the same.

I don't take it for granted how fortunate I am to have a wonderful mom and a great mother-in-law, to boot. It's nice that we can get both families together without any drama.

DH did most of the heavy lifting and one of my boys was especially helpful, so I just assisted with some of the food prep, which was nice. My Big Gift, was to head off to a coffee shop in the afternoon to develop a project I'm working on. I wasn't going to do client work or blog posts. I planned to make progress on a side project that's trying to develop.

I arrived at my preferred coffee shop at around 3:45. I saw that they'd only be open until 5:00, but figured that would get me to put my nose to the grindstone and work toward my goal without haste. After I walked in the door the barista told me they were closing early and would only be open another 15 minutes.

Sigh. I can't work that fast.

So I shuffled back to my car and headed to the more reliable neighborhood Starbucks. There was a long line (it's the Frappucino Happy Hour time of year), so I sat down with my computer, figuring I'd order after settling in. Only my computer started acting all wonky and I couldn't pick up the wifi. And all my work was in Google Docs.

This reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when I headed out for a quick dinner with Hubs and then planned to get myself a new pair of hiking shoes. I don't do hardcore hiking, but durable shoes with ankle support can come in handy when Tesla and I walk in the woods on the bridle trail instead of the paved bike path. At any rate, my current pair is three years old. They were purchased for our dream trip to Utah's National Parks back in 2013. (Thank you Google for making my memory look better than it is.) That dream trip was marred by the fact it happened to time out perfectly with Ted Cruz's government shut-down.

Anyhoodle, the Universe laughed at my plans to buy expensive shoes for myself so that I could walk my dog though mud and horse sh*t. (Yeah, this is the kind of shoe I "indulge" in.) Just as we'd finished dinner, we got a call that my younger teen might have broken his arm and my plans flew out the window.

(BTW, he indeed broke his wrist. He tripped over a tennis net. A surprisingly common cause for broken bones, the orthopaed assured me.)

So in two recent instances the Universe kind of sh*t on me and my selfish pursuits. I packed up my computer and headed back to my car only to find a fresh splotch of bird poop on my car. So there you have it.

I headed home and restarted the computer on our attached porch. It worked fine and didn't have any problems accessing our home network. I'm not sure what they deal was at Starbucks.

Because I hadn't entered the house proper, the dog was the only one who realized I was home. The dog asked to be let out on the porch (he's got a set of bells he rings to make his request). The porch has a doggie door that gives Tesla free access to the yard. But instead of going outside, he greeted me. He got up on his hind legs to give me Mother's Day kisses. He's usually not much of a licker.

His actions gave me an atypical look at the inner part of his front leg. His coat is dotted with black spots. But one of them looked odd. Maybe it stuck out like a sore or the color was off. Something about it caught my eye.

When I got a close look, I realized it was a tick. Tesla has never had a tick. We dutifully dispense a monthly dose of flea and tick medication (now in edible form after this happened). We walk in the woods often, but he's never attracted more than a couple of burrs.

A photo posted by Kim Moldofsky (@kimmoldofsky) on

After quickly calling all members of my family to report for duty, we assembled a rescue team. Younger son dispensed treats while Hubs held Tesla still and I used tweezers to pull that sucker off (while the older son was upstairs playing a computer game with headphones on).

The tick came right off. I'm not even sure if it had bitten Tesla. It was still alive and wriggling after we placed it in a plastic bag. (Is this normal?) It did not appear engorged. I'll call the vet this week to see if he wants me to bring it in.

In hindsight, my coffeehouse frustrations served a greater good. Who knows when we would have noticed the tick otherwise? But, gah, I feel like our wonderful walks in the woods just got a little less fun.

I hope you had a nice Mother's Day!

(Don't do a Google image search for "dog with ticks in ear." It's horrifying and you can't unsee it. We stumbled on this a year or two ago and it still haunts me. This seemed like a good time to warn you.)

(Let me know if you search it.)