Showing posts from 2012

A Little Something to Think About

Imagine what the world would be like if all of the thinkers, artists, creators, musicians, writers, poets, scientists, inventors and innovators who are currently spending their time and energy raising children, working 9-5 to pay the bills, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, driving freeways during rush hours, making meals, and finding socks for other people were instead spending their time creating wonderful, beautiful, life-transforming things for the rest of us. ...if the next great novel is trapped inside a guy who has to sit in a toll booth 8 hours a day. ...if the next great medical breakthrough is stuck inside the brain of a young woman who is working full time and still can't afford to go to medical school. ...if the most beautiful painting you've ever seen is hiding inside the fingers of a mom who uses those fingers to fold laundry instead. I saw a photo on Facebook the other day of a coffee bug emblazoned with the words ART BEFORE HOUSEWORK on it. I'

You know you have a big family when... are flooded with relief and gratitude by the realization that you no longer have to open a car door or fasten a seatbelt for anyone -- besides yourself. * * *

Pay Attention

"The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child."   -- Thomas A. Edison -- * * * I found this video on the internet today.  Everyone with a child should watch it.  Actually, everyone with a brain should watch it. Yes, that means you. Enjoy! Just one of the brilliant nuggets:  The connections we pay most attention to will be strengthened while the ones we use less will be pruned . * * *

Welcome the Wild

It's a dark and stormy night. These nights deliver my favorite sound, right to my doorstep.  Well, to my rooftop, actually.  When I was a child, my attic bedroom was a symphony on rainy nights, with a rushing creek right outside the window.  Now that sound of rain on the roof tells me that mine was a good childhood because whenever I hear it I feel safe and happy. The bittersweet thing about rainy nights is that they really mess up our garden, which means lots of yard work is in our future.  That would the royal "our," since I don't actually do most of that work, but suffice to say, bad weather means someone around here has to work his backside off to clean everything up. Today, I was sitting at an uncharacteristically clean table, making some notes about things I need to do, and I drew the curtain back to look out over the garden.  The rain was pouring out of the sky and the wind was mixing up the entire yard.  It was beautiful -- rainy, slopp

Let's Stop Kidding Ourselves

My son's entire school went to see the movie Bully this morning.  I highly recommend that you do two things: the first, which I did, is go see it.  The second, which I did not, is bring kleenex. When it comes to bullying, adults are letting kids down in this country.  We are giving ineffectual advice to victims and kidding ourselves that "this too shall pass."  Kids and families need and deserve more than wishful thinking and crossed fingers; they need their suffering to stop. I don't know what the answer is.  The first step, as in all such things, is awareness, so please, please see this movie.  Get your school or district to sponsor a screening.  Promote it on your social networks and blogs.  Get it out there.  Let people see what is happening in our schools and communities. This movie is not the answer; a whole lot of people have to be made very uncomfortable and highly inconvenienced before we have an answer.  Adults need to pull their heads from their ne

I Get It Now

I was 11 years old during the 1980 presidential election. My family went to an Election Night party, which I thought was great fun, until I saw -- and was utterly confused by -- adults crying over the result. It was a revelation then that grown up people could get emotional over something like an election. I get it now. I'm spending the day listening to non-stop no-news and choking back tears. I'm hoping for tears of joy instead of the despair my parents' friends felt all those years ago. * * *

Fun With Water Feature

We came across this picture last night as the girls and I were watching family slide shows.  I snapped this shot one lovely warm summer day; the artistry is Lady E's. I love it.  It makes me smile.  I hope it does the same for you. * * * And that is all for today, a day of deadlines and dashes. * * *

Beyond Me

She has done it again . * * * It would be hard for me to convey the contempt with which my oldest child treats my fourth born.   It is certainly hard for me to witness how hard he is on her, how hard all four of them are on her, actually.  She is the one: the one who bears the brunt of the mistreatment around here. And I've said it many times: it's a good thing it's her.  She handles it, almost always, with a detachment, a confidence, and a degree of spunk that means she thrives in spite of it. That alone would make her a marvel.  But then, she does things that just leave me speechless. This week, her oldest sibling is away on a school trip, an annual pilgrimage of our school's 8th grade class.  The trip meant missing Halloween.  Yes, he's 14, but he's got a sweet tooth the size of the Empire State building, and he would knock on Mitt Romney's door, if he thought he'd get some candy out of the deal.  So missing Halloween was damn near devastati

Dump the Unhappy!

I am delighted to help this video receive the widest viewership possible. Visit The Real Bears , watch what soda really does to those super cute polar bears, and then share the video widely, on your blog, via email, and with your Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn networks.  Or, just TELL someone about it!  Radical! * * *

A Little Perspective

This is how you know your kids are over-exposed to public radio. V: "Mom, this dinner would be a lot better if you didn't include the chicken." pause V: "With a perspective, I'm Vincenzo Alatorre." * * * This probably only makes sense to Bay Area readers.  Trust me, it means I've successfully indoctrinated him.  * * *

Remember the Butts, Mom?

When my oldest was small, probably around 3 or 4, we were at the family pub one afternoon, enjoying some live music and cold beverages. There was a sign next to a planter box on the patio that said: "Please, no cigarette butts." My little guy interpreted this to mean: "Please, no cigarette idiots may hang out here." So when he saw a man smoking on the patio, he said: "Mommy, that cigarette butt isn't supposed to be smoking out here!" * * * He's fourteen now, and just reminded me of this story last night.  I had forgotten it. And that is how I came to chuckle and smile on a day that was otherwise filled with a broken washing machine, a flooded garage, mountains of laundry, too much homework, too much chore-resistance, not nearly enough time, and a house strewn with debris from our kitchen garbage can, spread liberally about by a dog who apparently needs more exercise. * * * Take those moments where you find them, friends. * * *


Until about 20 minutes ago, I was not one of the millions of people around the world who had already seen this TED talk from 2006 by Sir Ken Robinson .  Now, thankfully, gratefully, I am. I want to start each day with Sir Ken's ideas on my mind and in my heart, in the words I speak to my family and in the words I reserve for myself. Join the millions: watch this TED talk. * * *

Meep Meep!

One sibling's obervation: "Mom, if you think about it, Little T is kind of like the Roadrunner, and the rest of us in the family are Wile E. Coyote." It's true: after a battle of wills, I often feel as if I've been smacked with an Acme anvil. Image source:   Prayers accepted. * * *

How Adolescents Learn Stuff

An actual conversation in my car yesterday: Mom, I know how to ride a bicycle down a staircase. Really?  How'd you learn to do that? By doing really stupid, not smart, dangerous things. pause That's how I learn most of my stuff, actually. * * * Sarah-Jayne was right!  This truly is a time of creativity and learning!  Here's hoping he lives long enough to benefit from all that creativity and learning. * * *

7 Quick Takes, Volume 57

7 things to make you laugh, think, and smile.  Visit the original .  Visit some others.  Leave some comments.  7 quick comments.  That's your goal. And now: ~1~ Great TAL show on education and what kids really need to be learning. ~2~ Notwithstanding the profanity, this pretty much sums up my life's philosophy.  Now, what's interesting, is that I see no conflict at all between this sentiment and my Catholic faith.  So I don't think I need to convert to the Church of the Latter Day Dude.  The RC's have got me covered. source: I originally saw this on Facebook, but traced its roots to this site: ~3~ Today is dress like a book character/donate a book day at school.  Which had me making stops at Target and Barnes and Noble last night far past dinnertime, with all five kids, spending too much cash to buy books to donate to the school and outfits for Atticus Finch, Ivy (of Ivy and Bean), Sally (of The Cat in the Hat), a

Survival Tip #3

Do. Not. Take. The Bait. * * * Let this be your mantra, your motto, your philosophy, your pillow. Let this be tattooed on your heart, your hands and the insides of your eyelids. Let this be the change you wish to see in the world. Whatever you do: don't take that bait, girlfriend.  It'll lead to a world of hurt. * * *

Survival Tip #2

Do not waste time on sentimentality.   Do not attempt to shield your young ones from distressing news.   Give it to 'em straight. * * * Apply this tip to a variety of ages and situations.  A few examples: When your littlest neeeeeeeeds her blanket, which happens to be in daddy's Volvo, not due to arrive for an hour and a half. When your kid's teacher sends you an email with some distressing news on the academic front, and you must confront said kid with this information. When Barcelona loses. When there are no more cookies. When someone didn't get a Jamba Juice and someone else did. When you forgot to pack the sharing item of the week. * * * Think of it like ripping off a bandaid.  These things go much better quickly and painfully.  The alternative is only slowly and painfully. * * * Not that I'm learning this lesson one more time or anything. * * *

Survival Tip #1

I'm starting a new feature at AIRY5. Mostly, I'm doing it because I seem to have lost the ability to blog of late (new full time job side effect, methinks), and I need a quick and breezy way to get back into it. And this idea -- Survival Tips -- is perfect because that's the way I am parenting these days.  With that new full time job, four kids playing soccer, being a Team Manager, and various other volunteer responsibilities, I pretty much cling to survival tips.  I have no time to ponder the deep truths about teenagers, or preteen girls, or little folks just starting Kindergarten.  No time for broader implications or logical and well-thought out foundations for parenting strategies.  Give me something to get through the next 5 minutes...and then the next 5...and then the next...and I'll make it to bedtime.  Which is my primary goal, each and every day. So without further ado, my first Survival Tip, this one for parents of teenagers: Ignore the rampant narcis

More on the Dangers of Creativity

Lady E, using her captive Daddy's phone, just texted me this photo. I'm guessing Daddy is too tired to care what's going on around him. Or at his feet. Or on his feet.

Absence Makes the Kid Grow Funnier

This past weekend, I traveled for work, and was gone from the crack o' early on Friday morning until very late on Sunday night.  I didn't see my babies for THREE WHOLE DAYS. It was a big three days. Four performances of Midsummer Nights Dream. Two soccer games. Dinners with extended family. Swimming with cousins. I missed quite a bit. This afternoon, I picked up Little T from Kindergarten, and as we walked hand in hand to the car, she told me all about how ready she is for her very first soccer practice ever for her very own team.  She listed the things she collected this morning: cleats, shorts, shin guards.  Then she put her hands out in front of her, cocked her hip to one side and said: "Officially, all I need now is matching socks!" It was adorable.  And it made me laugh.  I grabbed her and hugged her, and she said: "I got funnier while you were gone." It's true: she's hilarious. Soccer practice is still three hours away.  Hav


I am a list maker. I live and die by my lists.  I make them every morning, and use them like a religious zealot.  And while there are not many things about which I am obsessive or anal retentive, when it comes to my lists, I am both.  I need clean paper and good pens.  In a pinch, I'll go for a very sharp Ticonderoga pencil, but I'm bound to feel just a little resentment that I can't find one of my fine point pilots.   I don't need much. Clean paper.  Good pens. So when I sat down this morning to make my list, and found my nice new pad of yellow legal paper had been hijacked by a 5 year old, I was displeased.  Here is what I discovered: And it went on and on and on.  Every.  Single.  Page.  Of a brand new yellow legal pad.   Stupid creativity.  This is what happens when I don't let her watch TV.  I won't make THAT mistake twice. * * * * True confession : it was not that long ago that I had to turn to my

A Cautionary Tale

If you let your 13 year old ride his bike to Target and pick out his own clothes, you might end up having a conversation you wished you hadn't when he excitedly comes home with this, enthusiastic as he is about the new bike grandma and poppa bought him for his birthday this year: * * *

A Good Reminder

In the kitchen, getting ready for the first day of school, we had many things to remember. I told my 7 year old that I was going to need reminders to get them everything they needed. She popped off: " Mom.  I'm not a reminder.  I'm a kid ." OK then.  I'll get no help from her. * * *

Little T Low Rider

We went to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green today.  It inspired the following: That all by itself made the ticket price worth paying. * * *

Because the Laundry is Still Stupid

I would like to write a blog post today. I have a mountain of laundry taunting me from the garage. Ergo, I cannot write a blog post today. But I can, in honor of said laundry, post a rerun of a laundry inspired poem from two years ago. Sonnet to my F***ing Laundry How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height My arms can reach, when feeling out of sight For the ends of towels and underpants. I hate thee to the level of my family’s Most urgent need, all day and every night. I hate thee freely, as boys toss their socks about. I hate thee purely, as girls turn outfits into piles. I hate thee with a passion put to use In my former life, and with frightening strength. I hate thee with a hate I hope to lose When my small saints move out. I hate thee with the breath, Fibers, tears, of all my life!—and, so help me God, I shall put this hate to use to conquer you. * * * More of my Poetry Spoofs here .

One of These Things is Not Like the Other

A Little T tidbit for tonight: I know they're all cute and smiling, but one of them is tricking you. My other kids will tell you, about their youngest sibling, that she makes friends wherever she goes. It's true. Once, she went to the park for the afternoon and by the time she got home, I had an evite in my inbox, inviting her to the birthday party of a boy she had met that very same day. This past week, she went with Rick to the local swimming pool for the afternoon, and quickly buddied up with a bunch of kids who were all there from the same YMCA camp. She splashed around, giggled and played, and pretty much stayed with these kids for the whole time. During one of the breaks from the pool, she went with these campers over to where their counselors were gathering everyone to give them some instructions. She sat with the YMCA kids. And one of the counselors commenced a head count. Rick narrated the scene that followed. First counselor counted the group three times

If I Ever Need A Reason To Love YouTube...

...these two clips will suffice. Joss Whedon, of Avengers fame, takes on Birbiglia and Glass. And then, Birbiglia and Glass get all up in Whedon's face. How can you not love this?  I love this. " We should be nurturing corporate spectacle, like good Americans. " * * *

Sharing Something Awesome

I love NPR. Really, I love everything about it: the news...the reporters...the weekend shows...the information...the entertainment... Sadly, I harbor deep-seated jealously of people who work at NPR, because I'm sure they have more interesting lives than I do, and I'm pretty sure I could have been that interesting, had I known enough when I was younger to go into journalism or communications or some such field.  I did not.  Instead, in a not-clearly defined trajectory, I went into the baby-making field, and we all know how that turned out.  That turned out five people. Anyway, back to the issue at hand.  Peter Sagal has written a short piece on the wonderful Ira Glass.  I think everyone should read it, so I am sharing a link to Peter's site. Here is the link to Peter's "hats off" to Ira Glass . Since you have just returned after going over there and reading it, I can refer to the This American Life segment on the carnival game guy, and you will kno

On Gratitude

Life is too short to waste on bitterness.  Right? Life is too short to do anything but be grateful, and I have much to be grateful for. One wonderful husband. Five beautiful kids. A roof over our heads. Soccer balls at our feet. Work. This: Hearts full of love and gratitude. * * *

A Tale of Two Willies

OK, so the answer to the question I posed in my morning post is that I wallowed and sniffled most of the day.  But my kitchen and living room are both clean, so the day is not a total loss.  I guess. In my defense, I have a nasty cold today, so every time I tried to lift my self off of my pillow, I was soundly smacked back down by the pounding in my head. While I was neither productive nor efficient, I survived, so that's a good thing. And two Willies got me through the day.  I share those with you here. The First Willie My husband, in response to our FEMA level surroundings and our sound-barrier-breaking children, asked me today if we will ever have a clean, peaceful, comfortable home.  Today was his turn; sometimes it's me asking him.  But today it was his turn to ask me, and I gave him the usual unsatisfactory answer:   Yes.  Really.  I'm nearly certain.  Yes, we will.  I think.  Yeah.  Sure. Then, tonight, the better answer hit me, a la Willie Shakes: If th

What's It Going to Be?

Today, will I wallow and sniffle? Or will I pull up my big girl panties and get to work? Will I Facebook too much?  Obsessively check my blog stats?  Wait for emails to appear in my inbox? Or will I be proud of myself at the end of the day for fighting both the good fight and the laundry pile? When the day draws to a close, will I drown my troubles in a pathetic beer of sympathy? Or enjoy a celebratory ale, satisfied that I did my best and deserve a little reward? * * * We shall see. * * *

We've Got It All!

It's been a loud week here at Casa Alatorre.  Let's see...we've had: An ER visit, followed by all kinds of fun tests and scans High fevers (3 out of 5 kids) 1 barfer (so far)  A hacked checking account 8 straight days of rehearsals/performances Soccer camp: that we are running, not simply attending Lots of eating in the car, ergo, lots of spilling in the car Lots of getting places late Usually, when people say things to me like "I don't know how you do it," I kind of shrug it off.  Usually, my attitude is that everyone has their own version of normal, and this big ole family just happens to be mine.   But this week?  I don't know how I do it either.  I think I must be sleep walking through the sturm und drang, or traveling inside a protective bubble.  Or maybe that's just God.  Or denial.  Or the nightly cocktails I've had with my dad. Whatever.   I can't plan ahead more than 1 hour this week.  I'm hoping we don'

Bumpersticker Truth

Well-behaved children rarely make good blog posts. Went to Mass on Sunday and the children were positively -- boringly -- well-behaved.  Gone are days like these .   Have I done too good a job with them?  Are my blogging days numbered? * * *

7 Quick Takes: Volume 56

  It's Friday and I'm not at BlogHer '12.  I'm at BlobHer, on my couch.  But I've got a computer and an internet connection, so nothing's going to stop me from Quick Taking! Please visit our host , visit some of the other posters, and grace them with a comment or two or seven. ~1~ A Ridiculous Take .  I got a new toothbrush today.  I then had an argument with my youngest child, because she was upset that I would not let her have my old one.  Really? ~2~ A Promotional Take .  I really want to see this movie, and I really hope it comes to a theater near me. Doesn't it look great?  Today, I went on Facebook and posted on the FB walls of two local theaters to encourage them to screen this movie.  DO THE SAME.  Seriously: here's how . ~3~ A Cutie-Pie Take .  One of my daughters asked me the other day for a hug.  Then she said: "Do you ever run out of hugs?  Because I'm going to be needing lots of them."  I as

Motherhood Changes a Few Things

Such as, the meaning of the phrase "pick up line." These are the things I ponder while waiting for Claudius and Cordelia to be released from Shakespeare Camp. * * *

I Don't Need Parenting Books. I Have Friends.

This family boasts three daughters.  Three smart, funny, sweet, strong, wonderful girls. We are in for a world of hormonal hurt that I'm estimating will last for the next 12-14 years.  In the past few weeks, I've had my first glimpses into what that is going to be like.  In other words, I have seen the face of a girl teenager and it has struck fear into my heart. So I turned to some friends who have daughters older than mine, and I described the situation thusly:  “ I've seen her get more upset and indignant in the last week than I've ever seen in her entire life.  If you stacked all her tantrums from ages 0-10 in one pile,  combined  they wouldn't be as forceful as some of her reactions to things this week.  I'm experiencing cognitive dissonance: she is being difficult.” And their responses were golden, so I thought I'd share them here for any of you with pre-hormonal daughters, so you might benefit from their words of wisdom.   Friend the