Showing posts from 2013

A Letter

Dear Child of Mine,

Amidst the Chaos

Just goes to show, if you fast forward everything and add a catchy soundtrack, life looks pretty darn great.

I jest.  Life is pretty darn great.  It's stressful and hard, noisy and (sometimes) scary, and there are lots of tears…

…but it's still great.

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Unprepared and Nostalgic

My daughters are dressed in their Holiday finery, and we are about to leave for the annual St. Jerome Christmas Concert.  
This has been a strange Advent.  More than ever before, it has snuck up on us, and we are unprepared in this season of preparing.  We don't even have our Christmas tree yet.

As the days whiz by, and I wake up each day farther behind than the day before, and I try like hell to hold on to the things that matter and let go of the things that don't, I find myself literally catching my breath.  I find myself confused by how fast time goes by.

For example, four years doesn't seem like a lifetime ago, but four years go, I wrote a reflection upon coming home from the 2009 Christmas Concert.  Reading it now, I almost feel like I'm reading about some other family instead of mine.  So much has happened since then.

One thing remains the same though: I am still finding, daily and in the midst of chaos and confusion, the things that make me call this a happy …

Giving Tuesday is Here!

Today is Giving Tuesday!

Yes, I know you've heard of Black Friday.  Maybe even Small Business Saturday.  Betcha know what Cyber Monday is.

All of those are designed to line the pockets of for profit enterprises.  For profit enterprises are wonderful: without them, I wouldn't have my Racer 5, my nice writing instruments, this computer I'm tapping away one, the hand-knit irish sweater I'm wearing…you get the idea.

But what about a day for non-profit enterprises?  They deserve some love too, right?  RIGHT!

That's what Giving Tuesday is, a new day for giving back and for celebrating our national generosity and good will.  Certainly you can think of a cause or two worth your time and money, yes?

And if not, I've got one for you!  Envision Education -- an amazing organization that transforms the lives of students, especially those who are the first in their families to go to college, by giving them great schools that will prepare them for success in college and in…

You know have a big family when...

…your daughter comes downstairs sleepy-headed, and the first words out of her mouth are: "Did my lemonade survive the night?"

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This Is What It Takes

I've created a monster.

Little T's fall back activity is watching TV, and it's all my fault.  When dad's not around to help out, TV is the quickest, most expedient way to get rid of her, so I can do all of the other things I have to do around here.  It's not as if I'm pawning off my kid so I can be lazy and have fun.  I'm not eating bon-bons, or catching up on Duck Dynasty, or internet shopping, or FB-chatting with Janelle.

Okay, some of the time, I'm FB-chatting with Janelle.

But mostly, I'm doing exciting things like sorting through piles of school papers, doing laundry, washing dishes, planning meals, and paying bills.  In order to do all of that and more, I've been letting her watch too much TV.  Only now, we are paying the price, in the form of tantrums when she hears the word 'NO.'  It's not a little horrifying.

So with my resolve steely and my hopes high, I decided NO TV for Little T this morning.  Here's what it took fo…

NaBloPoMo Fail

Blame the Thanksgiving food coma, and the long car ride home, and the multiple glasses of wine.  Blame the kids, just because that's always a good strategy.  Blame my husband, who didn't keep me from crashing on my pillows fully clothed last night.  Blame my two comfy pillows.

This is me, right after we arrived home from my sister-in-law's, just under 2 hours away, where we enjoyed an epic feast and tons of running-with-cousins time:

"I'll just lie here for a minute, until the bathroom is free, and  then after I use the bathroom, I'll blog…"
<. . . a few minutes later . . . >
And just like that.  My dreams of NaBloPoMo glory: all dashed.  No post for November 28, 2013.  So, so close to the finish line.  Thwarted by wine and children.  (Actually, maybe that could be the title for my memoirs!)

Since Thanksgiving proved to be my NaBloPoMo downfall, I feel the need to look back on the day and salvage it somehow.  He…

10 Things I Am Grateful For

I have only 16% power left on my laptop and I'm too tired and comfy to get up and find the power cord, so I better rip off a thankful list right quick.  And so:

NPR.  My life would be less than it is without everyone at NPR.  Thank you from the bottom of my well-informed heart.Coffee.  My children would be in danger without coffee.  Thank you for keeping me sane, which in turn, keeps them safe.Good pillows.  Nothing feels better than laying down my weary head to rest each night.  I usually sleep with two pillows, but one of them has been missing for weeks.  I finally found it in the dolly crib today, and I'm back to pillow bliss tonight.Friends who give pie.  Every Thanksgiving, some friends of our give us pumpkin pies from Bake Sale Betty.  This year, I am especially grateful for these pies because we are not hosting Thanksgiving, and I get to bring the pies to my sister-in-law's house tomorrow, meaning I did. not. bake. or. cook. a. single. thing.  I like to cook, and I&#…

She Sings, Too!

She's not all sass and tantrums, ya' know:

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Sudden Flashes of Understanding

I’m getting older, and sometimes, I get a little bummed about that.You know how you hear people talk about how life gets richer and more enjoyable as we age?Sometimes – usually – I have no idea what they are talking about.
Today, for some reason, a poem I have not read in years started rattling around in my head.I don’t know why.Perhaps because this past weekend, I took a picture of a lovely tree in my mother and father’s back yard: 

The poem didn’t arrive until two days later though, so maybe they’re not related.  Either way, the poem arrived, and was, honestly, a little annoying.  I didn’t particularly like this poem when I read it in college.  In fact, the first time I read it, I didn’t understand why it was considered a great poem.  It is sweet, and rhyme-y, and it’s about nature.  Like a kajillion other poems.  Other than that, it did nothing for me.
But there it was, rattling around in my noggin, kind of gnawing at me because I could only remember the first two lines and even t…

Neither Credit Nor Blame

I'd happily accept your praise For mothering on my bestest days. But if I do, then I also must Bear the brunt of your disgust When mommy's rules you do not like And you'd like to see me take a hike. You're a fickle bunch, you see, Shifting sands, your thoughts of me. So I'll eschew the credit and blame For the never-ending Parenting Game. Come to me in fifteen years: We'll work things out over well-poured beers.

Sonoma Album

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Blame Jennifer Lawrence

I'm taking my daughter to see Catching Fire tonight.  I have never, ever, in my entire life, gone to see a movie on the same day it comes out.  I kind of wish I were doing this Opening Night thing for something I really wanted to see, but it will be fun to share this experience with my daughter, who has read all the books and is wildly mad for all things Hunger Games.
My husband and I drew straws for who got to/had to go.  I won/lost.
I had intended to buy tickets for the 6:45 show.  At 1pm today, those tickets were sold out.  So like a complete crazy person, I went ahead and bought tickets for the 9:50 show.  
10pm show.  For a 2.5 hour movie.  With my 11 year old.  When I have to be up early tomorrow.
I've lost my mind.
I was going to have today's NaBloPoMo post be about spending a rare evening out with my oldest daughter, but just realized that if I wait until we get home, I will miss the midnight deadline.   Instead, I'll just have to guess what the evening will b…

Desperation Is the Mother of Effectiveness

My teenage son made cookies tonight, the kind you just break apart and put on a cooking tray.
It would have been great, except for the bothering his sister part.That part made it really NOT great.  She was in there making tea for the youngest one (nice, right?) and he was hassling every move she made.
Nothing I said got him to stop.  I tried attacking the problem from different angles.  I tried being creative.  I tried being stern.  Epic failures,every one.  All I could do was sit in the living room, wallowing in PMS and thrashing about with high, high levels of irritation.
I felt powerless to stop him.
And then, I realized I had a weapon!I had an arrow in my sling, and I was going to use it.I called him, calmly, into the living room.
Me: "Son.Do you know what PMS is?"
Son: horrified look
Me: "Do you???"
Son, with worried, horrified look intensifying: "Yeee-ee-ee-s?"
Me: "Well, that's what I'm suffering from right now. It's not pretty.I…

WHY did I agree to this?

Why oh why oh why, on a school night, with five players needing to do homework, with 9 to 5 work needing to be done outside of the 9 to 5 framework, with dishes multiplying, and laundry threatening world domination, and dinner barely manageable, and a 6th grader needing to find a missing school book, and a 1st grader needing to go to the SuperKids website to read or some such nonsense (a site where she always manages to do SOMETHING to the screen so that all the words and images get HUGE and I can't get them back down to normal size and I try and I try and then give up and she has to start all over), with too too much already going on…

…WHY did I agree to let my 9 year old make bread?

We're not talking bread-maker bread, here.

We're talking knead the dough, knead the dough, knead the dough, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise, no breeze, covered in cloth, warm place, up high, NO BREEZE MOM, b-r-e-a-d.

It's about to go in the oven.

We shall see what happens.

With th…

Family Classics

It's a rainy day here in the San Francisco Bay Area, the first one in ever so long.  We Bay Area folk have been packing sun hats and sun block to our soccer games even through this past weekend.  It's been crazy and wonderful and warmish.  
But the lovely grayness is wonderful too.  How could it not be wonderful to live near this?

It's pretty awesome.
But even more awesome?  That crazy confluence of events when no one (well, almost no one) has soccer practice, and all (ok, most) of the children finish their homework early, and someone asks to watch a movie, and then they all agree on a classic, and daddy builds a fire…

…and while daddy makes homemade pizza in the kitchen, we watch Singing in the Rain in a cozy house with raindrops dancing on the windows and car wheels swishing by on a rainy street.

Pure gold!
I screw up plenty as a mama.  I yell too much.  I don't have enough patience.  Or energy.  Or hutzpah.  Or clean socks.  But one thing we've done well around …

Simply and Only

I wrote a brief post not long ago about my mother's declining health.  Since then, she has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, or some other similar neurodegenerative condition.  It has been a difficult autumn for all of us, especially and of course, for my mother and father, for whom this suffering is a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute experience.

The utter unfairness of dementia takes my breath away.  The seeming annihilation of dignity and selfhood feels like a punch in the stomach.  The contradiction -- the desire to be present juxtaposed against the desire to run and hide -- is painful and confusing.

And everything is happening so fast.  We have no time to get used to any new normal, no time to make adjustments to our expectations.  There can be no expectations anymore.

What is left for us, in this moment, before things are as bad as they have the potential to get, while my mother is both suffering the effects of dementia and painfully aware that everything is going…


Goodness gracious, it's once again past 11pm and I have not yet posted anything in this month of NaBloPoMo madness.

I spent several hours tonight making a crazy amount of empanadas.  I made a large batch for my office Thanksgiving Feast/Potluck tomorrow…I made more for dinner tonight…I made more for school lunches tomorrow.  Hence: empanada-palooza.

So, since empanadas are the reason I have nothing more interesting or thought provoking to post, I will share my empanada pastry and filling recipes.  They are mouthwatering good.  Try them, and then come tell me what you think of them!

Cream Cheese Pastry
Recipe Credit: My friend Starr.  She's amazing.

8 tblsp (one stick) butter at room temp
4 oz cream cheese at room temp
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tblsp flour
Process butter, cream cheese, and cream in food processor or by hand (it takes longer by hand and it is harder to combine).Next add flour, process until just combined, and divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Wrap in pla…

So that I make it by midnight...

This photo doesn't tell the story of my day, which started at 7am and involved driving 200 miles for a State Cup soccer game (and victory), and had me doing everything from changing pee soaked sheets to laundering fancy clothes for my son to wear to a Quincenneara, and shopping for toilet paper, and getting stuck in massive traffic on my way to Gotham City...
...but it captures how it ended.  At Original Joe's in San Francisco, with my wonderful father, and many wonderful conversations. 
I don't need Thanksgiving on November 28. Just had mine. 
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Whew!  Just made it for NaBloPoMo!  
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You Saved Us, San Francisco

San Francisco, you saved us all.  You granted a wish, and gave an unfathomable gift to one little boy and to the thousands and thousands of people who watched his dream come true.

For anyone who may have been under a rock, or God forbid working, today, for anyone who missed the feel-good story of a lifetime, for anyone who blubbers like a giant size softie on a soggy waffle cone (because I fall in that latter category), this story is for you.

Text below shamelessly lifted from the SF Make A Wish Foundation's website:
Today, Miles is getting his wish of becoming Batkid! Miles may only be 5 years old but he is fighting a very adult battle. Miles has leukemia. He is a bright, positive, little boy who finds inspiration in super-heroes. Miles told Make-A-Wish he wanted to be Batkid, and today is his big day! The day begins with a breaking news story. San Francisco’s Police Chief asks if anyone knows the whereabouts of Batkid. The city needs his help to fight crime and capture villains!…