30 November 2013

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 for me, assisted by her sisters, to keep her occupied.

No TV, but my house is destroyed/festooned and I'm blotto-exhausted.  Every single one of those activities still needs to be cleaned up and put away.  Turns out, creativity is messy, inefficient, loud and time-consuming.  And awesome.

At least we have started the long slow process of turning the TV-addiction ship around.    I predict I need to have 327 more mornings like this to truly break the habit.

And so, another epic battle begins: who will win???

* * *

29 November 2013

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.  Here, then, are 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Still Rocked, Even Though I Failed NaBloPoMo On That Day.

1.  Because I read this clip from The Colbert Report, and it made me laugh:
"It's time to gear up for Thanksgiving. I love it all. The food, the family, the laughing, the drinking, the 'No wonder your wife left you, Margaret,' the 'That's not the proper word for Asians, Nana,' the 'Everybody help clean up Mom's locked herself in the laundry room with a bottle of Chardonnay.' It's a special time."
2.  Because of baby cousins!

A 4 month old baby WHO IS NOT MINE fell asleep on my lap after dinner last night, and I got to snuggle with him, and love him, and kiss him, and all the good baby-stuff, and I didn't have to think about changing him, feeding him, or pacifying him, didn't have to worry about when he might sleep, what he should eat, or who he might spit up on, and DID get to hand him back to his mommy right when he woke up.

3.  Because of family.

Baby cousins are definitely the cutest, but seeing family of all ages, who we don't get to see nearly enough, was just plain great.  Watching all the kids, ranging in age from 3 to 15, run around together, and listening to the entirely predictable but completely wonderful exclamations from adults about how much all the kids have grown, commiserating with my niece who has a child a lot like Little T, and listening to Grandma tell my kids stories about their dad when he was little…all of it was priceless.

4.  Because of my youngest kid, who cracked us up on the drive to my sister-in-law's house:

Little T was in the way back of our Volvo station wagon, and apparently it was  a little hot back there.  Here is just one of the Little T gems that wafted up to us from the back of the car: "I'm dyin' back here!  You're gonna get there and have a little 7 year old dead body to deal with!  Water!  I need water!!"

5.  Because of family conversations.

A few blocks from our destination, Rick and I geared up for the "rules of good behavior" lecture.  Here's how it went:

Me: "OK, kids, who wants to tell us what the rules are going to be for today?"

Cenzo: "Don't act like ourselves?"

Lola: "Blah, blah, blah, be good, blah blah…"

Sam: "Pretend we like each other.  That's it.  OK, everyone, let's pretend to like each other."

Little T: "I love you, Sam.  That's a great hat!"

Mom and Dad: "Right.  Don't act like yourselves, pretend to like each other, and say please and thank you.  That covers it!"

6.  Because seriously?  The turkey.

My brother-in-law made the most delicious turkey I have ever tasted in my entire life.  It was so moist and juicy!  He used an electric roasting pan, like I've used for mine when we've hosted, but he made that thing sing, and he has now set the turkey bar extremely high.  Henceforth, all turkeys shall be judged against the 2013 Turkey That Changed Forever The Way I Think About Turkey.

It was that good.  It was that worth being so triptofanned-out that I slept through the last few hours of the day, when I should have been blogging.

7.  Because of PIE!

I may not have written a blog post yesterday, but I woke up to pie.  For breakfast, I had a heaping slice of pumpkin pie, covered in whipped cream, and suddenly, NaBloPoMo seemed just a little less important.  Further proof that:

I don't have NaBloPoMo bragging rights, but I have pie, so I think I win.

* * *

27 November 2013

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:

  1. NPR.  My life would be less than it is without everyone at NPR.  Thank you from the bottom of my well-informed heart.
  2. Coffee.  My children would be in danger without coffee.  Thank you for keeping me sane, which in turn, keeps them safe.
  3. 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.
  4. 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've enjoyed hosting in the past, but this year?  It's a blessing of monumental proportions that I don't have to do a damn thing.
  5. This blog.  Because I get to write about whatever I want, silly, fun, serious, thoughtful, boring, or sentimental, and it's MINE ALL MINE.  And I like it when people like what I've written.  That's pretty awesome.
  6. My awesome job.  I love my job.  I have a job I love, doing things I am good at, learning things that are helping me grow, with people I respect, in a family-friendly environment, for a good cause.  See?  Awesome.
  7. My kids.  Seriously, yes, even the kids.  They are impossible.  But I guess that's why I'm grateful, because they show me that the impossible is possible, every single day.  Sometimes, that runs more towards the "Is she REALLY going to refuse to put away the Rush Hour game, just to mess with me?  Is she REALLY going to take the smallest possible steps between here and the bathroom to brush her teeth, just to see my head spin around on top my neck???"  Sometimes, it's more of the heart-catching variety, where I see a child of mine do something good and generous, or I get to the end of the day and realize I did more good than harm (score!), or the questions they ask challenge and stretch me as I try to answer them and then the gift of a great conversation comes my way…all of it seems impossible.  All of it happens anyway.
  8. My husband.  Not because he makes delicious pizza, and delicious hot toddies, and awesome old-fashioneds; not because he vacuums like a maniac; not because he makes sure all the doors are locked and lights are off each night.  Because he is the other half of me and I know he's mine forever.   We are not a fairy-tale husband and wife; we annoy each other greatly pretty frequently and his snoring alone makes me want to rip my ears off my head and serve them to him for breakfast.  But he's not going anywhere, and I'm not going anywhere, and I'm grateful that he is my constant.  
  9. My mother and father.  Five days ago, we moved my mother into a board and care facility; it was one of the hardest days I've ever had with my parents, one of the hardest they've ever had themselves.  I am grateful for the privilege of being present to them both during the past several months of struggle.
  10. The ability to change the wi-fi password.  Because nothing says I love you to my sons like turning off the wi-fi in the middle of an Instagram post so they can get some sleep and keep growing strong and healthy.  

25 November 2013

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 then, not quite accurately.  I Googled it, just to figure it out and hopefully be done with it.

I found it, and read it, and it did something for me this time.  Not only did the words now leap off of the page and grab me by the heart, but they also made me grateful that I am getting older and have learned maybe just enough to appreciate this poem:

Trees, by Joyce Kilmer

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest 

Against the earth's sweet flowing breast; 

A tree that looks at God all day, 

And lifts her leafy arms to pray; 

A tree that may in summer wear 

A nest of robins in her hair; 

Upon whose bosom snow has lain; 

Who intimately lives with rain. 

Poems are made by fools like me, 

But only God can make a tree.

My younger self knew nothing about feeding a hungry mouth from her own body.  Nothing about needing to lift her arms to pray.  Nothing about striving to see God all around her.  She didn’t know about the miracle of birds’ nests, or have a clue about intimacy. 

She knew nothing, and that poem couldn’t touch her.

My today self knows a little bit about all of those things, and Joyce Kilmer’s words set off chords and tones and timbers that sort of swept me off my feet.  Bring on the days and weeks and years ahead.  If getting older means that I will have a day every now and then in which I am surprised by poems, by beauty I’ve never seen before, then let me grow older and grow stronger.   Let me be surprised by sudden flashes of understanding and gratitude. 

* * *

24 November 2013

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.

22 November 2013

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 be like.  Here's how I think it's going to go:

  • Really happy girl-child.
  • Compelling story.
  • Pretty good acting.
  • Decent emotional engagement.
  • Great atmosphere.  (couches…pizza…beer…movies…natch!)
  • Time well spent with the girl-child.

Verdict: Great night!  Great movie!  Grab you daughter and go see it!

Let's hope I'm not catching zzzz's before the credits roll.

* * *

Not a very exciting post, but a 11/22/13 post nonetheless.  Blame Jennifer Lawrence.

* * *

21 November 2013

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.  It's not fun."

Son, stunned silence.  If eyes could beg a person to stop talking, his would have been doing just that.

Me: "So get back in there and make it work with your sister."

Son: "OK OK OK OK OK Please don't ever tell me that ever again!  I'll be good I promise!"

It worked like a charm: no more bickering or hassling.

As I munched on my warm peanut butter cookie, I enjoyed the peace and quiet, and wondered to myself if I had used my arrow on a worthy target.  That particular arrow can’t be used very often. 

I hope I chose wisely.

20 November 2013

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 that much chaos, these loaves of bread have been thrown together in a distinctly haphazard fashion.  Measuring cups?  Not so much.  Thorough kneading?  Not so much.  No breeze?  Kinda breezy in that kitchen.  No order, no clean surfaces, no well-run kitchen.  Definitely not a Martha Stewart, Pinterest worthy evening; it was messy, loud, and stressful.  Just like my family.

It might taste terrible.  It might be delicious.  It was definitely exhausting.

* * *

30 minutes later:

Lady E's Loafs of Love

* * *

30 more minutes later, the verdict:  It was lumpy, lovely, warm and wonderful.  Just like my family.

* * *

19 November 2013

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 here is that we've shared some fantastic old movies with our kids, and they now love and cherish them as much as we do.  

As the Holidays approach, and the cold and rainy weather make movie nights even more appealing than usual, I present you with a list of movies my family loves, for you to watch with yours.  These movies are gems…as are the moments I've spent watching them with my children.  Get ready to watch some wonderfulness!
  1. Singing in the Rain 
  2. Annie Get Your Gun
  3. Apple Dumpling Gang
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird
  5. It's A Wonderful Life
  6. Some Like It Hot
  7. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  8. Carol Burnett DVDs--ALL OF THEM!
  9. Where the Red Fern Grows
What are some of your favorite old time movies to share with your kids?

* * *

I needed a night like this.

18 November 2013

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 wrong?

Perhaps the lesson of dementia is that what we are left with is what is at the core of every relationship we have.  What we are left with is learning that dignity is not ability, or composure, or mental quickness, or eloquence, or any of the things that we miss in the person we love who suffers from dementia.  What we are left with is simply and only being present, without any agenda or purpose or need.  

What would happen if we were present to everyone in our lives this way, not for any other purpose but to show the depth of love we feel?

I have no idea what I am talking about.  I am sad, and scared, and I want my mother.

* * *

17 November 2013


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
  1. Process butter, cream cheese, and cream in food processor or by hand (it takes longer by hand and it is harder to combine).
  2. Next add flour, process until just combined, and divide the dough into 2 equal balls. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  3. After the dough is chilled, roll out and cut into 5" discs (if you don't have cutters a top of a plastic tupperware, or bowl will work).
  4. Preheat oven 375 and make your filling.

Empanada Filling
Recipe Credit: PBS Kitchen Explorers

1 lb. ground beef, turkey, or vegetarian ground “meat”
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  1. In a large heavy skillet, brown the meat and onions over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the meat is browned (about 5 minutes) add the salt, garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and vinegar, and simmer it for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Remove it from the heat and let cool for awhile.
Assembling the empanadas
  1. Add stuffing to one half of each disc, and leave an edge.
  2. Wet the edge with water; fold over and press the edges with a fork. 
  3. Put on cookie sheet (parchment paper is optional but easy to clean up). 
  4. Make an egg wash (beat one egg with teaspoon of water) and brush all pastries before you put them into the oven. 
  5. Cook about 20-25 minutes (check for your taste of browning)
I think this makes about 14-16 smallish empanadas…maybe around 10 larger ones…I always double, triple or quadruple this recipe because of the numbers of mouths I have to feed.  No matter how many I make, I never get to eat as many as I would like.  So actually, the first step in this recipe should be amended to: 


After you have done all of the above, get ready for everyone at your office Thanksgiving Potluck -- well…everyone except the vegetarians and the gluten-free eaters -- to oooooh and aaaaah over your culinary impressiveness.

Bon appetite!

* * *

16 November 2013

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. 

* * * 

Whew!  Just made it for NaBloPoMo!  

* * * 

15 November 2013

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! Our little Batkid, along with Batman, is ready to answer the call. 
As part of his special day, Batkid is driving around San Francisco in his Batmobile, and his adventures include rescuing a damsel-in-distress from cable-car tracks, capturing the Riddler in the act of robbing a downtown vault, and rescuing the San Francisco mascot Lou Seal from the clutches of The Penguin. The day’s final stop is at City Hall where Mayor Ed Lee congratulates Miles on his daring feats of justice and presents him with a key to the city.
(Visit that website linked above.  Heck I'll link it here too.  Tons of additional info on Miles' milestone day, including a tweet from Obama.)

SF natives are falling all over themselves to express their pride and their jubilation over their gorgeous, big-hearted City making this happen.  I shall join them: Batkid stole my heart and left it in San Francisco, where it rightfully belongs.  I cannot rest my head on my pillow tonight without thanking first and foremost the Make A Wish Foundation, not only for granting that kid one hell of a wish but for giving the rest of us a gift we didn't even know we needed.  And there are more people and organizations to thank:

To the San Francisco Chronicle for printing the special edition newspaper…

To the lamborghini owner who let Batkid ride around in a real life Batmobile…

To the awesome Batman escort, who ushered Batkid around SF/Gotham for the entire day and who, among other things, helped Batkid catapult over a vault and do a complete flip into a waiting cushion...

To all of the members of the SFPD, for being Miles' official hosts, and specifically to the SF policeman who put a huge "KAPOW!" sign on the front of his motorcycle…

To the banks and hotels who adorned their Gotham City skyscrapers with Batman symbols…

To the Lou Seal and the San Francisco Giants…

To the wonderful souls who played the parts of the damsel in distress, the Riddler, and the Penguin...

To the thousands of people who cheered and wept and whooped and hollered, and watched SF Mayor Ed Lee thank Miles for saving Gotham…

All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my tear-soaked heart.  This has been a very, very, very good day for humankind.

It sounds so damn trite to say it, but there's no way around it: Wishes can come true.  And when they do for a little guy like Miles, it's just impossible not to feel the swelling joy, the sweet relief, the certain faith that all is right in this crazy, broken world.

Now we just need a Train tribute.  How about it, boys?

* * *

14 November 2013

Nitty Gritty Little Ditty

Tonight I cannot write a post
Because my brain has turned to toast.
The day has worn me to a nub,
I need to sink into the tub.
But can't because I'm too darn beat,
And find I cannot move my feet.

It's all their fault, this state of woe,
As every mom does surely know.
Theirs, the fault for my malaise.
Theirs, the fault for this dark haze.
For in the space past 5 o-clock,
My children hover and they stalk
Each other just to make me scream
So they can say YOU ARE SO MEAN.

Tonight the girls did cry and fight,
And test my patience with great might.
And bicker, bother, pick and poke
And hassle till my heart done broke.
They are nasty, brutish, short:
Hobbes was right, sad to report.

My spouse is out, I'm on my own.
Herding cats, all alone.
Then a toilet I had to fix.
And toss a dog into the mix.
(I found her on our dining table.
Chaos, people, is here enabled.)

And then I had to feed the crowd.
The complaints were both too many and loud.
Feeding ingrates ain't no fun,
Like bitterness inside a bun.
Breaking bread should be a blessing
But tonight, it wasn't, I'm just confessing.

The boys: no better were these two;
They made me want to eat my shoe.
Oh yes, they're teens, it's DE VEL OP MENTAL
It's hormones, or it's elemental
Call it what you must or will,
Then call me in from the window sill,
Because mothering teens might do me in
And send me to the looney bin.
I think that I am being clear:
Do your homework.  I think they hear.
But then they don't, and then they start
To make up ways to race my heart.
They obfuscate, evade, and lie
They manipulate, they plead and cry,
They make me crazy, sho' enough.
I have to leave them in a huff,
So that I do not scream and yell
Cuz them that do, don't parent that well.

I closed my door: time out I took.
And closed my eyes to take a look
Inside my heart, inside my brain
To find and sooth the place of pain
That comes from having angst and strife
With the ones for whom I'd give my life.
I made some vows, I shed some tears,
And then I reached across my fears.
I opened the door, back to the fray
And darned if I didn't hear myself say:
"What did you say, honey? What do you need?"
Cuz I gotta remember, they'll follow my lead.
Grace under pressure, and patience galore.
That's what I'll pray for, evermore.
I'll need a ton of both, for good,
If I plan to make it to grandparenthood.

They kicked my butt 10 ways to Sunday.
But I'll keep raisin' 'em up till someday,
When they have young ones of their own,
And the apologies pour in via text on my phone.

* * *

13 November 2013


Today, in 6th grade Science class, the esteemed Mr. Underwood had "Ask Anything Day."  I think he means ask anything about science.  But maybe it's really just ask him about anything.  Either way, it sounds fun.

Here's what my daughter did during the entire class: she wrote down the all words she heard.  She did not take notes.  She created:

She filled five sheets of paper with words.  Colorful, funny, gross, serious, silly, boring, nonsensical ("prrrt," apparently when the esteemed Mr. Underwood released a dismissive puff of air or some such) scatological, inspirational words.

I know she's my daughter and all, but I think this is genius.  Who knows what she will remember from the Ask Anything questions and answers, but there is something about the activity of listening to the words swirling around her and giving them life on paper that just tickles me to pieces.  It's like a mind map, a place for ideas to swirl around, a way for future ideas to incubate and multiply.

Or perhaps that's just a big rationalization, because I am a big-time doodler myself; my own notebook pages can look pretty disorganized, but it's the way I think.  My to-do lists are neat and tidy, but the pages that surround them are filled with drawings, slanted off the line writing, circles, arrows, and jumbles that look just a little nuts.  It works for me, in my little corner of the world.

But those pages my daughter filled?  I pretty much think they are proof positive that she is destined for greatness.

* * *

12 November 2013

A Refrigerator's Worth A Thousand Words

NaBloPoMo Writing Prompt for November 12, 2013: 
Name five things inside your refrigerator right now 
and how you feel about them.  

Hmmm…fridge contents are like a peek into a person's inner life, don't you think?  I mean, I don't let just anyone look inside my fridge.  But for the sake of NaBloMoPo, I shall share, selectively, a few things you would see were you in my kitchen right now whilst I pull out Item #1.

Item the first: Red Hook Longhammer Ale.  I feel very, very happy about this particular thing inside my refrigerator.  Relaxed and happy.

Item the second: Buttermilk.  I feel good about the buttermilk too, not because I like buttermilk, but because the only reason I have it is so my 9 year old daughter can make her dark chocolate cake pops from scratch, the recipe for which calls for said buttermilk.  These little morsels are dense and delicious, and I derive great pleasure from doing the bidding of a 9 year old who bakes.

Item the third: Applesauce.  I feel guilty about the applesauce.  Because it's a giant, practically full container and it's been in there for ages, since the kids abruptly decided to quit their apple-saucing binge, the same one that not long ago had me scrambling to keep enough sauced apples in the house to meet demand.  Kids.  Their whims are inexplicable.  I am guessing (although I still haven't found the courage to look) that this particular container of applesauce is sporting lots of pretty shades of mold.

Item the fourth: A very large bag of pepperoni.  I feel daunted by this bag of pepperoni.  It taunts me.  It mocks my ability to think of new ways to serve it.  It ridicules me for not freezing it when someone else (not me) brought its girth and heft into our happy home.  So yes, I feel challenged and daunted by a bag of meat.

Item the fifth: Two netted bags of small, yellow roasting potatoes.  I feel excited about these potatoes.  Here's where you learn that, much like my husband can turn any conversation into a soccer conversation, I can turn any topic into a reason to sing the praises of NPR.  And so:

I love roasted potatoes.  But for the longest time, I have been unable to make them as delicious as the ones I've had other places.  Total mystery.  This past August, while visiting friends in Portland OR, my dear friend Kari served the most scrumptious roasted potatoes ever.  I actually FB messaged her after the visit, to ask how she made them.  The answer?  Bite size chunks of potatoes…olive oil…garlic…salt…pepper…hot oven.  Exactly how I do mine.  So I tried roasting them for longer, since she said she just waits till they turn the right crispiness.  Still not as yummy.  I was flummoxed.

Until one day, when NPR came to my rescue, as she has done so many times before.  (Did you know NPR is a girl?  She is.)

My rescue came this past September in the form of an interview with Mollie Katzen, of Moosewood Cookbook fame, who happened upon the subject of roasting vegetables, and shared this gem: You should never salt your potatoes before you put them in the oven, because the salt draws out the moisture.  Voila!  That was my problem!  I had been salting my potates (not a typo) before roasting them, and creating a moist roasting environment instead of nice dry roasting environment.  After my little chemistry lesson, I went out that same day, bought more potatoes, and tried it that night.  Salted them on the back end instead of the front, and ended up in potato nirvana.  Now, I can make those little bits of heaven whenever I want, in confidence that they will be everything I dream of.

(Many people already know this.  I did not.  I needed NPR to tell me.  And like a BFF, she told me what I needed to hear.)

So yes: excited about the potatoes in my fridge.  And by turns happy, ashamed, and daunted by the other contents.

And no, you may not look in my linen closet.

* * *