Showing posts from April, 2010


My kids call homeless people hobos. This may or may not be sensitive, politically correct, or kind. I'm not sure. I used to work in homeless shelters, so it's important to me that my kids learn the whole story behind homelessness, and that they see people on the street as human beings with dignity who deserve compassion. And still, my kids call them hobos. I do not love this, but this whole teaching them compassion thing is a process, and I'm trying to place this in the larger context of how they see us, their parents, talk about and treat poor people. I'm working towards getting them to drop "hobo" from their lexicon. But they have taken things a step further. In one of those twists of language that is a hallmark of childhood, they think that the epithet "HO" is a shortened form of hobo . And to complicate matters, we have good friends who moved to Idaho. So, when we talk about our friends who moved, the kids invariably dissolve into

Preparing for Mother's Day

I am getting wistful about Mother's Day. I produce a monthly newsletter for a local parents group and for the May issue, a handful of mothers answered two questions: What is your favorite thing about being a mother? How do you keep sane while raising your children? I did my best to answer those questions, and the process really got me thinking. Sometimes, the annual Mothers Day platitudes leave me cold. Perhaps that's because nothing can truly describe being a parent. It just might be the most elusive activity on the planet, the most impossible to capture completely in words. Of course, I love cuddling with my kids, I love the messy handprint works of art, I love hearing them say "I love you, Mommy." And many, many times, those things are enough reward and enough fulfillment for a busy day spent raising children. And yet, it doesn't quite get there, does it? Am I the only one for whom those wonderful, warm things are not always enough? Here are my ans

Stop Searching For Elmo!

Last year, I wrote a silly post about Elmo, about how I had not realized how controversial Sesame Street actually is. Hadn't considered how Cookie Monster thwarts our every attempt to teach our children good nutrition habits. Hadn't recognized the "partnership" between Ernie and Bert. Hadn't realized that people actually hate Elmo. In the past few days, however, I've started feeling a certain antipathy towards him myself. Apparently, the image I grabbed and put on my blog for that post has moved into a position of prominence in the Google Images search. A gazillion and a half people have been clicking on that 6 month old post because they are searching for a picture of Elmo and they land on And I'll Raise You Five. My stat counter has been going bonkers. At first, I was elated. Wow! So many visitors! I must be even more eloquent than I imagine! I'm so impressed with myself! (Given another of my antipathies, this one for the exclamatio

The Fort That Love Built

A couple of days ago, I posted about my aversion to fort-fun in my living room. My friend Kerri's response deserves a post of its own. Here it is: Whew...thank you for posting this. I loathe the explosion that comes after cleaning a room. And the clean space begging for a fun mom to build a fort....I usually try to turn a blind eye and let 'em at it, but secretly I'm cringing while ignoring, wishing that I had the "fun-ness" to join them. A wise older friend told me a long time ago, when I was in a cleaning frenzy before some guests came, people don't come over to see your house, they come to see you. Have a big kitchen and plenty (food, wine, love, advice, stories) to share. So let the bomb drop in my living room....I've got cellar full and a fridge that's stocked. We can all hang out inside the fort that love built. Thank you, Kerri! And just in time for me to have the right attitude for getting the house ready for a First Communion party!

The Little Things

Rick took the four olders to school today. My job was to get the littlest muppet out the door and to daycare. Early this morning, I made a list of things I must accomplish today, this being one of the three days of the week I have no kids with me. That list is sitting on my dining room table growing fangs, hair and teeth. Pressure. Pressure to get things done, to do things well, to go out into the world with confidence. My response: " Ah, screw it. I think I'll read to Tallulah instead. " Well, that sounds more noble than what actually happened. What happened was my 3 year old TV addict was begging to watch "sumpin" before going to daycare, and I was standing firm: no TV before daycare. After 15 requests for TV, she switched to asking for a book. I tried to say no, I really did, because I was feeling rushed. But I figured, damn, I really should encourage the whole reading thing. So a little reluctantly, I sat down on the couch to read. One book

It is No Fun Being a Fun Mom

I just finished cleaning up -- at warp speed -- my kitchen, dining room, and living room. A clean space invites children to play. I should remind myself of this before being inspired to clean. That noble sage, Phyllis Diller, has spoken eloquently on this topic; see my side bar. I should know better than to ignore her wisdom. No sooner was the living room room clean than my three adorable daughters decided it was the perfect space to make forts. They all need a separate fort. There is much moving of chairs and dragging of blankets and propping up of cushions happening in my living room as I speak. I am waving a white flag. It was clean for less than five minutes. Why, oh why, do I bother????? * * * My oldest daughter was so excited to be making forts. She came to me all a-twitter. "Mom, can we make FORTS???" I groaned audibly and put my face in my hands. "Pleeeeeeeeeeeeze, mommy? I'll clean up right after! I promise! Pleeeeeeeeeze????" What

The Idiot's Guide to Knowing When You Are Really, Really Tired

You might think that being tired is fairly obvious. You might think that only an idiot would not be aware that she needs more sleep. Such is the nature of sleep deprivation, that those who suffer from it for long enough forget how important sleep is or how much they need it. But then, something usually happens to break that cycle and bring home the point that we mere mortals do need to sleep. Here's how it happened for me: My son goes to soccer practice in Alameda, a good half hour away from our home. Getting him there means hanging out in Alameda for two hours, rather than heading home only to turn around and go back when it's time to pick him up. Which is how I found myself last Friday afternoon in Alameda, toting my 5 and 3 year old daughters with me, after dropping Sam at practice. I was looking for a Chase Bank, so I spent the first 30 minutes or so driving around, passing several watering holes and watching with envy all the after-5-on-a-Friday revelers, talking

Patience, Patience.

It's Monday again . Sigh. * * *

How Exciting is YOUR Chicken Dinner?

Last night, I purchased a rotisserie chicken from Raley's for dinner. We've been working in the garden all weekend, and haven't had any time for, you know, cooking food. So I bought this chicken and brought it home to the troops. We also watched Up together as a family, a first time for me, a repeat performance for everyone else. It just might have been the first time EVER that we watched a movie without having to shush people every few minutes, or settle "her-feet-are-touching-me" disputes, or pause every 10 minutes for some annoying reason. We watched, we enjoyed, it was great. Mid-way through the movie, Lola whispered to me that she was still hungry and was there any more chicken? I told her to go help herself, and off she skittered. A few minutes later, she was back. In the dimly-lit living room, I could see the look of glee on her face. Smiling broadly, she showed me her plate, and pointed to the chicken she had served herself. The hole where the r

7 Quick Takes Friday: Volume 6

1. As I was leaving my daughters' room this evening after putting them to bed, my five year old yelled, " I don't like you! " and the three year old chimed in, " Neither do I! " What a lovely way to start the kid-free portion of my evening. I must be doing something right. OK, I did make them mad right before departing, but this was AFTER a good 10 minutes of kisses and cuddles and squeezes and I love yous and all manner of cute nonsense. It was also after my parting shot, which was: " You MUST stay in your beds tonight, I do NOT want to put you to bed multiple times! " * * * 2. I saw a sign today that said HAVE A GREAT DAY! IT'S UP TO YOU! I wanted to slam into it with my mini-van. I'm all for a positive outlook, but sometimes, there are forces out of my control, such as a three year old who picks the last possible minute before the family has to leave the house before filling her underwear with stuff that definitely shouldn&#


When I was a child, I did a lot of weeding. When I became an adult, I put away weeding-ish things. That lasted for over 20 years. But now, I have come full circle, and have become, to my surprise, a weeder. Dad, if you are reading this, I do apologize for not ensuring you were in a sitting position from the get-go. * * * I recently left my part-time job at a wonderful landscape architecture/design-build firm, primarily because it was too far away from my home and was therefore not proving to be worth the drive and being away from home and our home-based business two to three days per week. So hubby and I conferred: if I started doing some of the maintenance work for our clients (read: WEEDING), and if I had more time to devote to running the day to day office operations of our fledgling ( but shouldn't be fledgling because we've been at this for five years now ) business, then I could very likely help bring in at least the same amount of money as I had been making at thi

What Ails Me?

I have lost the ability to see my crazy life as humorous. Hopefully, this is temporary. I read other blogs, and laugh at the antics, or the craziness, or the stinkbugs , and I think: "Wow, my pink eye, barf, broken appliances, broken bones, flooded garage, and garden-that-needs-a-radical-transformation-before-our-annual-garden-tour-in-3-weeks could be funny too! Why can't I find the funny? Why, instead, do I feel the need to bury the details of this miserable happy life so far from view that they all might just disappear if I wish hard enough?" I think this is why I haven't been blogging. I start to write, and then I hit the delete button very hard about 200 times, curse at the computer, curse at the laundry, and go feed people instead. Because I can always count on someone needing to be fed, or wiped (as in as I type this right now). But as Spring Break limps to a close, and I'm both more than ready for the kids to go back to school AND not ready because

Good For What Ails Me

God, grant me the valium To put a happy face on the things I cannot change, The liquid courage (I prefer Guinness) to force the children to do what I want, And the wisdom to know when to put myself in a time out. * * *

Good For What Ails You

God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can And the wisdom to know the difference. * * *

What Has She Got Against Easter? And Other Thoughts on Spring Break

Last year, we had a very interesting Easter . This year, we're stretching the fun out over the entire week, it seems. Our washing machine broke on Friday, sending us into the weekend with no way to wash clothes or towels or peed upon sheets or socks. (Side note: Socks, I think, will be my final undoing. I hate socks. Socks hate me. We are locked in mutually assured destruction.) Not only did the machine break, but it spread water all over our garage as well. I do thank my friend Tina for pointing out that there is reason to be thankful that our laundry room is not in our house. On the other hand, I want to smack Tina and all her silver lining brethren, as I look at the boxes of books we have strewn about our garage, which are now soggy and soft. So the good news about the washer is that we have a friend who is a handyman, and he fixed the thing relatively easily and for very little money. So that's done. But I should know by now, having been through a few of the