17 February 2016

Comedy Planet with Little T


Little T: "Daddy, we're learning all about the planets and the solar system!  Did you know that Pluto is not considered a planet anymore?"

Daddy: "No, I didn't know that.  What about Uranus?"

Little T: "Your anus is considered a moon."

She'll be here all night, folks!  Really.  Aaaaallll night.

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14 February 2016

An A+ on at least one thing

Not sure we've done much right as parents, but I take great comfort in knowing that my kids will forever find joy in brand new sketch books. 

29 January 2016

On Migraines and Laughter

OK folks, I come roaring back to the blogging world with two things.

Thing one: Yesterday, I got a migraine.  The kind that makes you weep and call for your mommy when you're pushing 50.  The kind that makes decapitation seem like a viable option.  The kind that makes you shake your fist and curse at whatever creature you were in a past life. 

Come to think of it, there is no another kind of migraine.  They are all like that.

My kids know what to do when I get one of these: keep the house quiet.  But knowing what to do and being good at doing it are two very, very different things.  They mean well, of course, but their execution needs a bit of work.  

Case in point.  This is a picture of the sign my daughter made for the rest of the family and propped up on my bedroom door last night:

She propped it up on my door.  On a hard wood floor.  Where it kept sliding down and clattering on the floor, banging into the door on the way down.  Not to be deterred, she kept putting it back.  Roughly.  Noisily.  Slamming it against the door in an effort to make. it. stay.

Then she would pound down the stairs.  And the damn thing would slide, bang and clatter.  And she would pound back up the stairs and slam it back into place.

I was, sad to say, sorely desterbed.

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Thing two: As of tomorrow, my parents have been married for fifty-one years.  FIFTY-ONE.  612 months.  2,652 weeks.  18,615 days.  That just boggles the mind.  My beloved and I haven't even made it to 20 yet, and there are days I'm amazed he hasn't woken up, realized what he really got himself into, and walked off hysterical.  (I mean, who could blame him, I'm kind of a nightmare.)   Here are Larry and Rose back in 1965:

I'm willing to bet that the thing that has helped them last so long, perhaps more than anything else, is their great big, generous senses of humor, and their complete joy in things that make each other laugh.  Just yesterday, my dad remarked on how wonderful it is to see my mom laugh at the Frasier re-runs they've been watching for weeks now.  And even in my mother's current situation -- struggling with a vague diagnosis of dementia and unable to live in the home she loves -- she is still "killin' it," as the saying goes.  I asked her if she had any words of wisdom about how they have stayed married for so long.  Her instant reply: "Nope.  Just a lack of imagination."

There aren't words to describe the breadth and depth of delight I felt when she said that.  It was delightful, joyful, hopeful, hilarious…and just so completely her and them.  The past few years, we've all struggled with her not being able to be more herself.  And in an instant, there she was.

There is no lack of imagination there whatsoever.  So I guess they must really love each other.  

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!  And thank you for all the laughter!  

* * *

(Hmmm, note to self: make Rick laugh more and maybe he'll see this thing through!)


Postscript: I had to edit this post after a dear friend and reader did the math. FIFTY ONE NOT SIXTY ONE!  I'd be embarrassed if I didn't have that migraine to blame...

25 November 2015

I Came From a Dry Creek Bed

my beloved creek, captured on a
rainy spring day in 2012
My sister and her family recently bought a house.  They moved in this past weekend, just in time for Thanksgiving 2015.  It must be a thing our family does: exactly forty years ago, my family moved at this same time of year from San Francisco to Sonoma.  We enjoyed our first "country" Thanksgiving -- pizza -- on paper plates, sitting on the dining room floor in our new-to-us (but built in 1918) home.

My sister's move prompted me to tell my kids about that Thanksgiving in 1975 and about moving when I was seven.  My daughter asked me if the new house was a lot nicer than the one we left behind in Bernal Heights.  No, I told her.  I loved our SF house, as much as I loved this new one. I loved the way our old house was actually two of those classic San Francisco houses, smashed up next to each other.  Ours was connected on the inside, with our bedrooms and living areas on one side, and my dad's pottery studio on the other.  I loved that we lived right across the street from Paul Revere School, and I loved the community mural on the street side of the school wall, where my dad had painted my brother and sister and me.  I loved that our house was perched on top of a great big hill.  I loved my bedroom and our kitchen.

I loved the new house too: it's old fashioned style was perfect for my Laura Ingalls-leaning imagination.  I really loved the attic room I would share with my sister for the next decade.  Both houses were wonderful.  But the SF house just couldn't compete with the single greatest thing that ever happened to my childhood: Nathanson Creek.  For a day-dreamy, reader of a girl like me, whose imaginary friends were far more plentiful than real life ones, there could be nothing better than moving in right next door to a creek, one that ran full and fast in the winter and dried out completely in the summer, providing the most amazing set for my elaborate and long-running imaginary dramas.  In the Spring, when enough rocks and "shoreline" emerged that I could play next to running water, I pretended to go fishing for my meals.  In the summer, I jumped from mossy rock to mossy rock, climbed under the bridge at the front of our property, conjured long drawn out stories that were part pioneer girl and part romance.

Our yard was also amazing.  To my fanciful imaginings, I could add feasts of blackberries, apples and plums.  Cherries, if the birds didn't beat me to them.  Figs and kumquats.  Persimmons in November.  Mind you, if I were given a chore by my parents to pick those apples and plums and whatnot, I complained like a champ, but if it happened to blend in with whatever narrative I was spinning at the time, then I could work for hours.

The entire property was magical, with just enough room to get lost and feel far from home, but close enough for lunch or dinner to be moments away.  When my parents put a small vineyard in the back forty, they provided me with yet another landscape for my silly and serious adventures.  Growing up on that land gave me many, many gifts that I didn't know I'd cherish until years later: the sound of gravel crunching under foot; the feel of hot, dirty, sweaty skin after playing outside all day; the sting of blackberry brambles scratching my skin.

But what I remember most about that creek -- the place I think I truly come from -- is the smell of a hot, dry summer day, down in the rocks.  It smelled like dirt and leaves, and utter freedom.  Today, that smell makes me feel like time has stopped, like there is all the time in the world for dreaming up stories and acting them out.  Like there are no burdens or demands on my time.  No place to be but there in the brambles and rocks and dry grasses of Sonoma.

Did you know that nostalgia causes actual physical pain?  Or is that just me?

Still, that pang, that stab of sweetness, is how I know that I come from Sonoma's Nathanson Creek.

I wonder where my children will say they come from, forty years from now when they look back on their childhood, a much more urban one than my own.  It feels like a loss to me, that they haven't grown up next to a creek.  I hope there is a good smell or a good memory that takes them back and makes them feel, in their very bones, who they are.  I have no idea what that might be, but I hope they feel that pang and then tell my grandchildren all about it.    

11 September 2015

Cupcake Dreams, Redux

In honor of this child's 9th birthday, I am reposting this gem, which, I must confess, I never tire of listening to.  Don't think I ever will.

* * *  

I want to be a kid again.  I want to tell stories the way my youngest daughter does.  I want to dream about cupcakes.  And I really, really want a Dream Teller of my very own.

During dinner last night, Little T was devouring my homemade spaghetti sauce and making me feel like Martha Stewart, Julia Child, and Ree Drummond, all rolled into one, and she mentioned that she knew she was going to have a good dinner tonight because her Dream Teller told her so.

Come again, daughter?

Your what?

That's right.  She has a Dream Teller.  Every morning, after a night of dreaming about cupcakes and unicorns and whatever other lovelies visit her while she is sleeping, her Dream Teller tells her what her dreams mean.  Here's last night's:

Actually, I don't want to be a kid again: I want to be THIS KID.

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09 September 2015

Kelly Corrigan, on illness

Kelly Corrigan has done it again: written something that resonates loudly and beautifully.

Take a moment to click through and read what she has to say about illness and what it wants from us.  She has indeed made herself useful with her words:

Thank you Kelly!

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08 September 2015

Cheapest, Best School Lunch EVER

Isn't it the greatest thing ever when you screw something up and have to settle for a really lame Plan B, only to be rewarded by a super awesome unforeseen consequence that basically makes you look brilliant?

That happened to me today! Yay!

We just came through one of the most soccer-packed, social-packed, traffic-packed, logistics-packed weekends of our lives, which is indeed saying something.  Before the weekend even started, I texted the following to my husband:

"Can you hear the circus music yet?  I CAN!"

My eldest saw that text in the car on the way home on Friday evening...he got a chuckle.

But I digress.  It's just that the weekend was so completely fricking insane that I couldn't manage to do any grocery shopping, so I had to settle for my last minute fall back: take the kids to Safeway in the morning on the way to school to get them breakfast and lunch.  But then, I was so sleep deprived, and in such a non-caffeine dither (no coffee in the house either!), that I completely forget to get off the freeway to go to Safeway.

No breakfast.  No lunch.  No plan.

My three oldest go to school in downtown Oakland, which is a lousy place for a person in search of groceries, especially at 7:45am.  So we made the very sad decision to get what we all call Gas Station Food.  We stopped at one of those food marts at a gas station and stared dismally at the selections before making some seriously depressing choices.  Off Lola went with her Cup Noodles, with a side of her mother's shame and guilt to chase it down.

That was my really lame Plan B.

But the brilliance!  The unforeseen brilliance!

When I picked her up after school, she happily announced that her buddy desperately wanted that Cup Noodles and gratefully traded her own lunch: a gourmet chicken caesar salad.  Lola was psyched.  I was relieved that she got to eat something besides a styrofoam cup full of sodium.  It was a win-win.

The best was yet to come, though.  Because then I came up with the BEST School Lunch Plan Ever, and the most Affordable.  I'm going to buy her a couple flats of those cup noodle things.  She'll be the most popular lunch trade in town, and all those other chumpy moms will buy the really good, organic, non-GMO, non-HFCS, locally sourced, locally grown, attractively packaged, liberal-heart-soothing lunches and their kids will trade with my kid.  Healthy lunch at processed food prices.


I just love that I learn something new every day, especially when it involves me being brilliant and not even knowing it.

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