Thursday, December 31, 2009

a poem


On the very edge of darkness
I looked Death square in the eye, and smile.
He points two fingers at his eyes
and then at mine,
to say like a bad comedy gangster,
I’m watching you.
Then with those same two fingers,
he thumps my sternum,
tips me off the edge of the precipice.
I fall into the nothing, into the void,
and back home to my body.

I am home, I have been there
with Death a few times,
and somehow at that crucial moment,
something in me awakes,
shines the light back out
and says, I’m not done yet.

I fall like a meteor,
come back home
To earth
To my body
growing more achy
with the years
but still whole.

The vision doesn’t end
when I open my eyes.
I now know what to do.
I find the knot that stitches
my ribcage together, pull it,
and it comes apart -
an easy bow at the wrist of a boxing glove
the arch point of a sneaker
the back of a laced up wedding gown.
My chest opens like a robe,
and from in me
all the darkness of night
all the stars held in it
come pouring out.

I remain open,
a conduit to the infinite we.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Promises, Promises

It's that time of year. You know, the one having to do with quitting this, starting that, losing this, scrapping that.

So here's mine:

In 2010 I resolve:

to breathe first, yell later, and only if it's absolutely necessary.

to devote myself, my time and my gumption to finishing the edits and that one stubborn hole of a chapter in Felix the Comet.

to seriously rewrite the companion middle reader novel to Felix, starting with an outline. My fourth grade teacher, Mr. Cubelli would be so proud.

to hug my kids more, especially the big ones.

to get outside, even when it's cold and wet.

2009 lessons learned:

Southern fleas are uber SOBs.

Listen to my body. It's telling me important things.

I can do anything I set my mind to, when I don't get distracted.

Stop second guessing myself. I've been around long enough to know better.

NaNoWrimo is a gas, but needs a better engine for me to really accomplish something good with it, like an outline for starters, and for kids and self not to catch a flu from hell.

Here's to new and better things in 2010, and farewell 2009. What are your resolutions?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


To protect the innocent and not so innocent in my family, I have been using first initials. I was never keen on it, but at the time I started, I wasn't feeling very imaginative about the kids' names or anyone else's for that matter. We do have a bevy of nicknames around the house, but I knew those would just be embarassing, especially for the teen.

At times, it can get quite confusing what with my eldest child, both my brothers and most of eldest child's friends starting with K. I tried a numbers system K, K2, K3 for his closest friends, and then in some blog post, my brothers entered the picture, and I can't recall what I did with them. Oh yeah, I opted for the three inital mode for them, which never felt right as my older brother is definitely a K name and not a WKC. My wacky parents called him by his middle name. His official first name is his son's name, and... oh forget it!

And Baby C is hardly a Baby anymore. S as a name always fell flat. Honey, however will remain Honey, because he is my Honey, even on days when I am feeling less than sweet toward him.

So I have been considering the options that best suit each child's personality. When Baby C entered the world, S said, Hey Toots! upon meeting her, and it is safe to say that that nickname stuck from the sheer old fashioned, Speakeasy fun of it. My daughter, the toddler gangster's moll. We do call her Toots, among other things, around home. It is a fitting name for her here.

Therefore, may it be proclaimeth that Baby C shall henceforth be referred to and known as Toots. And sometimes I even call her Toots and the Maytals - a throwback to a reggae band I saw in the 80s. Ooooo, I just googled and they're apparently still touring!

But I digress.

Baby C is now Toots.

K has oft prided himself on his cynical nature, which I find extremely amusing, since he's been trying to be a cynical teen since he was about four years old, so he henceforth shall be known as Mr. Cynic.

Ya hear that, Mr. Cynic? yeah, that means you, dude.

(I just wanted to embarass him a little more anyway)

S is the toughie. He has an unabiding love of Godzilla and all things giant monster, especially ushered in from Toho Studios. He has recently declared his adult career of choice is comic book artist, and I've shown some examples here. I certainly do not want to caption him as his Asperger's Syndrome alone, because there is so much more to him than that. Maybe that's it: Captain Comic - to be used thusly as in The Further Adventures of Mr. Cynic and Captain Comic. Sure, that fits. Captain Comic it is. He is a very funny guy, too.

So that takes care of the kids. Mr Cynic, Captain Comic and Toots. They'd make a great alt comic gang, don't you think? But guess what, they're mine. And so is their particular mode of mayhem.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Inspiration deferred

Last night I was popping with Ideas. They were magical, they were inspirational, they were....last night and I didn't write them down.

During the night a stuffy Baby C had to cuddle. Through the night she began to resemble a hot water bottle..which slowly heated itself more and more until she was a wiggly fussy constantly nursing very hot water bottle.

Needless to say, I have not slept. I feel like a wad of cotton has replaced my brain. C's pediatric appointment is scheduled for later this afternoon and with the exhaustion I slipped my disc first thing this morning.

This is what happens when I complain that it is too quiet now that the boys are with their father for the rest of the school break until we get on the road for the long haul to retrieve them halfway up the East Coast from here next Saturday.

C'est la vie. Maybe she'll nap off of me long before her appointment. Though I won't count on it. At least the sense of writing remains. Maybe tomorrow, a poem, something to do with opening my ribcage to find the starry skies within pouring out.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Moms who blog

It sounds like a support group for mother's who can't help themselves from blogging, a twelve-step program.

But it's a growing population of those of us who need to tell our stories, lament the woes and record the triumphs of our day in and day out, a way to be creative when we feel we have no mental space for thinking more deeply in order to write our great american novels or capture the image of our masterpieces, like in the days before we had children and we still had brains capable of more than routine tasks and singing Old MacDonald for the 300,000th time, or reading Tikki-Tikki-Tembo until we are blue in the face.

It seems from where I sit anyway, that there are more of us in the blogosphere than most, and father's too, recording the amazing and most common thing humanity shares, the raising of our children.

Some of us are special needs moms, some are moms of teens, tweens or small children, some moms of blended families, some young moms, some who waited until later in life, and some of us are all of the above. And yes, I am talking about me in that last group. :)

We share a lot, with each other and of ourselves with the world at large. I think, besides the outlet for creativity, we do so to say, like the Whos on Horton's dustpeck, We are here! We are here! We are here! To say, we matter, I am doing something with my life, and it's important. We do it to say, I am not alone, are you out there, can you hear me? I want to hear your story, too!

The old trotted out line that it takes a village to raise a child is very true, and one of those reasons is to keep the mother who is caring for her kids from feelings of desperate isolation. It may be the mother who is running from work to home and racing to the store for dinner in between, who is lacking a serious connection with her friends she used to see all the time or stay up all night talking on the phone. It may be the mother who is going mental thinking the last time she had a conversation that didn't involve diapers and their contents in graphic detail was she can't remember when. It may be the mother who seems to have moments of sheer joy at the developmental milestone her child just sailed past, who wants to call out, Hey! Did you see that?! It may be the mother who found a moment of quiet and beauty with her child that cracked her open like an egg to the wonders of the universe.

Some people, even in this day and age, still have their coffee klatches and playdates, some of us don't. In the twenty-first century, we have our blogs. Our neighborhood is the whole world and whoever happens to click in and say hello, I see you, and that sounds just like me! Sometimes readers click in, and if you use a tracker on your blog, you can see them and know you've been visited from Brazil, Ireland, Russian, Japan, or across the the US or even from the next town. I feel validated when I see my tracker or when people, I still haven't met but who feel like friends comment. I feel like what I'm doing matters. That sometimes talking about the tougher stuff helps someone else, or sharing a joy lifts someone's spirit. But mostly I feel like the fact that I am parenting matters. That I'm not doing it in a void. That doing what I can for my kids is the best thing I can do.

I'll just write the great american novel later. When I've had some more sleep.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Collapse of Christmas Present.

I can't wait to figure out which part of our crazy christmas to involves candles at church, refused homemade lasagna by rude kids, several declarations of I hate church, and one pyromaniac...or possibly, two, one slippery dress on a wiggly toddler and lots of lovely singing peppered with chasing my family back into the sanctuary while in the choir...and a 5:45am visit from an overexcited kid.

This was a quick note I saved to try to encapsulate all the mayhem that was Christmas Eve and Christmas this year.

Then too much time went by with not enough Christmas Eve sleep, and plenty more mayhem, so for the moment I can't recall a darned thing to write about Christmas 2009 other than the blurr of slightly trying moments mingled with lots of joy.

Although, there was one moment, in church last night, when a few of the choir members were held back from getting to seats with their families, I among them. There we were, in front of the congregation of our little modern church, with my family in the back row by the light switches. The handheld candles were lit all around, the lights went out, and I listened to the other voices, all of my friends and peers, elders and children singing Silent Night, normally so accustomed to hearing my own voice during Sunday hymns or in a lifetime of choruses, and it filled me with presence and memories of my big old fancy church I grew up in, and the other big old fancy church in Harvard Square I was a member of when the boys were younger. I thought, our humble little modern fellowship carries on the same tradition as every church, and every family in a church that night and for many others going back into the past, and more into the future.

Yep, there is something to be said for traditions and the emotions they stir, and then I read e.beck's post and thought, wow, I was thinking the same thing. And though I wanted to write about falling asleep before getting presents wrapped and waking up to the ending once again of A Christmas Story, right about when he shoots his eye out, and how S pounced on us about four hours later and ran up and down the wooden stairs forty-seven times the one morning he actually put his shoes - usually lost before the bus - on, until he woke the whole house, and about how delicious Grandma's lasagna was and how I got to crank the handle of the pasta machine, and the yummy zappoli, and the cookies galore, and the sugar and flour and honey coating every surface of the kitchen and then some, and so much more besides, but I wrote about the candles, too.

And then there was a toddler dancing with the jingle bell rock Santa that cracked me up, which was after the present opening carnage and going to the wrong house on the wrong street because it was the same number in the same place on a street that was parallel to my friends' whose cats I was taking care of...

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas filled with joy. And that it's so fun, it ends somewhat like this:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

This is S's favorite part of Christmas:

Merry Christmas everyone!

May your gatherings be plentiful and your family be full of peace today and tomorrow. And if you are spending it quietly alone or just keeping it simple for your immediate family, enjoy the simplicity.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

holiday prep

Today is all about rolling out the cookie dough and making homemade pasta for the Christmas Eve lasagna. Yum.

I do love the traditions I grew up with, and the traditional foods, too, but I'm sure glad I married into a family that makes homemade lasagna for Christmas Eve and zeppoli for Christmas morning.

Don't worry, I'll still make eggs and grits for Christmas brunch, but who doesn't love lasagna and honey-soaked doughnuts?!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I love my son S

He is highly quotable. For instance yesterday he approached me for a hug and said:

(looks at me sweetly)

"You smell like daffodils....but only when I hug you...sniff sniff...but by your mouth you smell like snickerdoodles. (sniffs my knee) yep. daffodils."

Life is good.

Have you heard anything good lately from your kids?

Monday, December 21, 2009

quiet before the storm

There is quite a lot I could and should be doing right now, but this morning and much of this afternoon, already, it has become apparent that I seriously need more down time.

I'll start making cookies later.

My famous sugar cookies and gingerbread mini-men get doled out to neighbors and random people like teachers and bus drivers, and brought to my family up north every year. This year we're not heading north, and I do realize that if I make them in the next 36 hours, they'll be late for christmas if I send them, but I'm planning to do so anyway. Heck, I bought the tin.

S is pleading Santa's case for chocolate chip this year, insisting repeatedly that chocolate chip cookies are Santa's favorite. We've always given Santa the sugar and ginger cookies. Trust me, Santa loves those.

S has been informed in the past six months about the whole Santa business that shall go undivulged here in case my savvy toddler goes archival in the next five years or so. But he insists he still wants to believe even though he knows the deal.

He's eleven after all, and the magic of Christmas is in the believing, regardless. I believe, do you?

Do not be fooled into believing that I am a domestic goddess by this post, however. I mean, I am domestic, and I am a goddess, but by no means do I have a spotless house and an A-frame skirt covered by a contrapuntally colored apron. I just love to bake cookies.

Although, yesterday I handed the recipe book to K to make snickerdoodles for his Chorus class and Biology's 'spontaneous cultural gatherings' as holiday parties are forbidden at his high school. Don't you love how his teachers are teaching him to be subversive? I do. I also love that I passed off baking for his classes to him.

The age old question:

Is it art?

I sure as heck think so. Brilliant, even.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


It's snowing.

I've never been so happy in my life.

Oh wait. I gave birth three times and married the love of my life, but this is


Second time in three winters here. SNOW! Snow!


I love snow.

Friday, December 18, 2009

TMI, Mom-style

It's only a little TMI, but here's an opportunity to commisserate upon one of those universal truths of motherhood.

Sometimes, you need to pee so badly, but you don't move to do so because you finally got the little spaz of a toddler who refuses to nap to nap on your lap because that was the only thing that would work, and you need to get something done that requires both hands but she's warm, she's cuddly, she's snuggled up with one hand firmly planted in her mouth and the other gripping your muffin top because that is what she has chosen to be her ultimate comfort item, and oh to hell with it. I need to pee.

Now that is the sort of motherly sacrifice rarely discussed in open forums.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Proud Mama

My teen, K is a freshman in high school. Today I had a meeting with him and his guidance counselor to plot out his likely course load for the next few years until his graduation in 2013.

He'd already been tracked into the honors advanced classes in middle school, but now he'll be starting AP courses in his sophomore year.

The Virginia state tests are known as the SOLs, which I find highly ironic since if you don't pass you're basically, SOL.

Anyway, the guidance counselor just threw out there for K to hear, "You were one question away from a perfect score on last spring's test. I don't see any reason why we can't keep you going on the fast track to college credits."

Then he pointed out options for just how fast that track can be. It gave plenty of wiggle room for K to decide to take just above normal high school load, the medium setting or the Einstein setting. By the look on K's face, come springtime, I think he's pretty confident about the Einstein setting.

Then the guidance counselor suggested K start considering extracurricular activities. "Now, I'm the last guy to suggest you sign up for five or six activities, but you really should be involved in at least one thing." We ended up discussing K going into theater tech because, while all that brainiac stuff is great, having practical skills is even better. And it's fun with plenty of hang out time with plenty of friends. "They just held auditions for Grease. You should talk with Mrs. M about doing backstage work." K seemed receptive to this suggestion, as he had signed up for the theater tech class but was bumped to chorus because of lack of interest this year.

Tonight is his Chorus concert and he has seemed like he is really looking forward to it. That's a big improvement over his past interest expressed in things. I am a proud mama, indeed.

Just a side note here: in my freshman year in high school, I was in a production of Grease, and I really enjoyed Chorus all the way through college. Now wouldn't that be something if he followed my trail of bread crumbs? NOt that I'm counting on it our anything....but it would be fun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas is coming, the wallet's getting thin...

I bought a big box today. It's not subtle. I had to figure out a good hiding place as my closet is crammed and under my bed is too small.

I won't say what's in the box or where it's hidden because my kids are smart and may come looking here for hints.

HA-HA, boys! Gotcha!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Writing, oh yeah, that's what I do!

Since NaNoWriMo ended, and for me a wee bit prematurely, I really haven't written. Just like I really haven't written since my last writer's group meeting.

It was my turn to host today, and boy, did I cut fruit and clean house and make brownies. But write? Naaaaaah. It's the busiest time of year for everything to do with everything else but writing.

The good news is we had a lovely potluck and a lovely chat, and absolutely no critique. Because....guess what?

No one else had written since our last meeting, either.

Well, one finished NaNo, but didn't feel comfortable sharing the draft she had, and the rest just made me feel wonderfully communally human. None of us is perfect, and life happens, and writing tends to take a backseat for lack of concentration when so much else is happening.

So enjoy your holidays, whether Hannukah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year.

If you write, we'll talk about that after January first.

Monday, December 14, 2009

thoughts for the week

Toddlers and tree trimming, while cute, are a dangerous mix.*

Please be advised: Do not purchase a new star if you have an aspergian in your family. If you do, make certain he sees the new one lit and changing rainbow colors on the top of the tree before he gets his hands on the old star. This manuveur will save you a lot of loud grief.

The cynical teen may appear from his hovel bearing the greeting, (deeply inhaled squeal intro) "How dare you start decorating without me!"

*No toddlers were harmed in the making of this post. A christmas ball, however, is doomed.

Uberflea update: they are still in residence, though food grade diatomaceous earth has been purchased. Tree trimming took precedence.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Funny

This grows on me, very funny:

Seriously, watch through to the end. Then watch it again.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sneaky fleabag.

photocredit: S, cropped by mom.

We are still having trouble with the uberfleas.

S and K thought we should take a picture of Babette curled up napping with Baby C. I had been chasing that dang fleabag away from C the whole nap and had recently given up so that I might do something productive with the few minutes of non-toddler time I had left. I pray the fleas aren't hopping for baby flesh.

Caught in the act. Just look at her, smug little fleabag.

She used to sleep with the boys the same way when they were little, but she didn't have fleas back then. When we lived in condos, she was an indoor only kitty. And we didn't live in the land of uberfleas.

Poor cat and Lucy dog. The little fleabags just this week been doused, sprayed, powder rubbed, and herbal bathed on three different occasions. I know we had a freeze two nights ago, so the dang fleas should be gone outside. But these poor furry girls are still suffering. Anymore suggestions before we bring in the big poison guns?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Oh the weather outside is frightful....but not snowy. We're completedly surrounded on all sides but one by water, and sit at sea level on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. While it seems that the entire country is getting buried in piles of white, beautifying the dead landscapes in a quiet fluffy blanket, we are getting more rain and wind to flood the flood warning areas. Again, I am thankful that the major selling point of our house was that it sits in the middle of the high and dry zone of the tidal flood maps. But being former Miss New England, this no snow business is depressing. I have serious longing for snow, like I lost the love of my life.

3.1.2009, the one snow we've had in three winters here.

I love snow. I miss the bones of the earth and trees covered in a glistening, twinkling white. I love seeing the squirrels zip around and fluff their tails on the branches of empty trees, just laid over in winter white - a lady dressed for a holiday ball wearing a wrap over a sparkly dress. The comforting quiet of a dawn rising, muffled after an overnight snowfall. The way the whole word glows in shades of blue on a crisp night. My favorite playing with my kids is in the snow: the angels, the snowball warfare, the building of forts and castles and snow men and women. I even enjoyed the shoveling the car out or the walk depending upon my urban or suburban living arrangements. I grew up with the neighborhood sled hill as my backyard and we regularly went with a big group of families up to Vermont to ski. Snow just makes me giddy and lights me up.

When I lived my whole life in New England, every year on my birthday, it snowed. Sometimes it was a lot, a solid dumping, other times barely a flake. But each year, I felt it was my special present from the Great Spirit that yes, I should celebrate the day I arrived, that my life goes on. I guess people who are born in other seasons and other climates must find their special gift in a sunny sunny day of summer, a raining bloom filled promise of spring, or a bright leaf of Fall. I've begun to watch for snow reports in New England on my birthday, just to be sure that yes, it is snowing once again, just for me. Even if it can't where I live now, the beautiful hills and trees of Connecticut and Massachusetts still get a pretty dusting, and old Commonwealth Ave is blanketed in quiet over it's majestic trees and Victorian architecture in the city I love.

I know that all the lush and stark beauty of snow is temporal, and becomes muck and mud and sleet and freezing rain almost as soon as it comes, but that's exactly the reason I love it so much. It's beautiful and surprising, yes. It's also fleeting. Just like the blooms of spring, the bright hues of fall, the lazy heat of summer and the light in the sky shifting at sunrise and sunset and all day and night long.

I've never seen the same sky twice. Nor the same snow. I just wish I saw more of it here.

In the time since I started this post, I paused to give Baby C a bath, and by the time I returned to my desk to continue, that old song line I opened with is no longer applicable. The sun has broken through, the sky is blue, and now I may be able to at least go put the gardening tools away that I left out days ago, anticipating an attempt to finish putting to bed my plots which I should have finished last month.

It is 58 degrees Farenheit outside, and I should appreciate that here it is near mid-December, and I can go outside without gloves, hat, scarf and boots. I was never very fond of the cold.

But Christmas just isn't in the air for me without a nip in air to nibble my nose and a layer of white coating the ground and everything else.

My apologies to the Southern Hemisphere. You'll get yours in six months.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In need of some poetry, I found

Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches?

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives --
tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early morning, feel like?
Do you think this world was only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides
with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down on the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint
that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?
Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot
in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed
with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left --
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away
from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put on your coat, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is
the mystery, which is death as well as life, and
not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome
with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine
god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,
nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the
present hour,
to the song falling out of the mockingbird's pink mouth,
to the tippets of the honeysuckle, that have opened

in the night

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,

and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns and said
to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion.
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or tow of music, damp and rouge red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate watery bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters,
caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next
is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things,
upon the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daisies,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, I follow the ocean's edge.

I climb, I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Monday, December 7, 2009

tis the season

At the end of a far too busy overscheduled weekend, we attempted to take our Christmas card portrait. Honey set up his studio equipment in the livingroom. Baby C hated her dress and screamed and cried and pulled at it. K was fittingly teen angsty, barely tolerant at the prospect, and S was in rare form. Aspies can be very exaggerated and funny or crazy looking or deadpan in photos that aren't candid.
Here, C was still screaming, occupied with a cookie and wandering, K & S were starting to snipe because enough with the screaming baby already. I had the brilliant idea to tell them to pretend to strangle each other. Honey wouldn't let me use this for the card, though. Shucks. Both boys are really smiling in this one.
Near the end of the shoot, we did finally get a good shot of all of us, except my mother-in-law, who politedly declined to partake in the mayhem. We just need to fiddle with the light and cropping in Photoshop, then have the cards made.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Baby C has recently discovered the joys of kissing.

She wanders over to me at the computer, raises my shirt tail and kisses my hip repeatedly, giggling. Then wanders away chuckling to herself.

She stood in the corner of the room the other day and blew kisses to the maddening crowds. That would be Grandma and me. Tossed them through the air like an old Hollywood starlet.

She gets sudden urges to run up and plant one right on my mouth, Honey's or Grandma's. She tries to with the boys, too, but they run screaming. Well one does, the other says, "Nah." She just takes it from him as if she did sneak one in.

But don't try to kiss her. She just turns her head and runs, laughing and saying "No, no, no!"

Could any phase of development be better than this one?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

1st haircut


I brought K in for a haircut today and asked if someone was available to cut Baby C's.

She sat great for it, eventhough I've been running her around all morning on errands and even woke her mid-nap to take K in for his haircut. In general, she loves having her hair combed and put up in bands or barrettes. Of course she loves pulling them out, too. She has a headful of curls no one can seem to keep from touching.

Dumby mom forgot to save one. I still have both her brothers' first curls. But she loved having it cut. She sat very still, loved being fussed over and with. When she was done, but the other stylist was still working on K, she explored the salon only as a true girly girl can. Who knew? She loved the accessories shelves of jewelry, the little Santa with the bell hanging from his hat who was just about her height, and apparently the spa department. I couldn't keep her out of there. I'm in trouble when she's a teen aren't I?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

S, the horse expert

Today was the last day of S's class going to horse therapy at Dream Catchers. His school received a grant to send them. The parents were invited to attend and see what they accomplished. I am very proud of him, he did great.

There is very little that comes easily or naturally to S in this world, but when something does, he can do it or know it better than anyone. I was told today what a delight he was to have there in the program, how much he took to the horses and how to treat them from grooming to handling the reins. But the magnificent thing, and what has me in tears just thinking of it now, is they told me he has what is referred to as a natural seat: the instinct of how to ride and move with the horse the proper way. They didn't have to teach him that at all. Usually he rode a horse named Mr. Darcy, but today it was Winston.
My uncle has a ranch full of horses, my grandfather loved horses until the day he died, when I was very young. I've always loved horses but haven't had the interaction with them I've always wished for. Sure I've ridden a handful of times, but I could probably count them on one hand. I've always felt my love for horses and animals in general ran through my veins. Apparently it does through S's, too. If my grandfather is watching, he is at least as proud of S as I am.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Too Quiet, or What's that little noise?

Baby C is really a delight most of the time. But I have to remember, she's a toddler, and toddlers are generally up to no good even when it seems they are having a particularly trouble-free moment. That's when we mothers need to pay particular attention.

Take for instance, this morning, I was quietly reading over something I'm working on. She wandered over from watching Sesame Street and very sweetly climbed up into my lap and very nicely entertained herself while I continued to read. Then I heard some small sound in the background, not really concerned, I continued to read. Then I went to type something and discovered this:

I was so sure she had finished the crackers I gave her an hour before, but I was wrong. Last night was not a good one for sleep with her, so that's my excuse for not being aware of what was happening literally right under my nose.

Monday, November 30, 2009

War on Fleas

The great epic tale of ...

I know, it's just fleas, but this has been a horrible season of them. My poor dog and cat have been really suffering. We've flea bathed, sprayed, doused, you name it since May, and the suckers keep coming back. These fleas just laugh at Frontline, dip their mini shot glasses in it and toast to what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

So I did the next thing available before bombing our house full of poisons, and the dog and cat, too. I googled.

Borax is good for sprinkling on carpets and furniture, etc to get rid of eggs, larvae and fleas. But don't bathe your pet with it and don't leave it lying around for the kids to do the silly things kids do, like Baby C rolling around on everything for new perspectives and eating everything. Yet to kill them in your carpet, you're supposed to leave it on. But back to the suffering mammals.

Poor Lucy, the dog, has been so miserable and I hate to see her suffer like that: scratching to no avail, leaving little drops of blood wherever she curls up for a quiet minute or two. (Ew factor apologies). Babette, the cat, doesn't seem to be suffering so much, but I do occasionally spot a moving dot on her belly or catch the rhythmic fst-fst-fst of a cat scratching behind her ear.

So in my google searches of the morning, as if I have nothing better to do...I found one site that suggested a bath in Head & Shoulders shampoo. "Aha!" I exclaimed, and promptly ran up the stairs to grab the bottle from the shower.

Thank goodness for the big sink in my garage next to the washer and dryer. Yes, I was already into my third load shift of the Monday. I usually bathe Lucy in this sink anyway, she's about an eighteen pound little terrier mix. She saw me coming down the stairs excitedly carrying a bottle that suspiciously resembled her pet shampoo bottle and dodged away from her curl spot the living room sofa as I approached overly friendly-like which she knows even on lesser days, means a bath. Onto the next victim, who being a generally fastidious cat, is non-plussed by my approach.

Poor Babette. She is a beautiful fluffy long haired tabby who has lived a life of luxury, suffering only minor indignations at the hands of small children. She's tough and queenly, having been born on the porch of an abandoned building in a less desirable real estate market, back in my Boston days. She can stare down the best of them in a less insane version of "Are you looking at me?" popularized forever by Mr. DeNiro in Taxi Driver. Even if she met a real Travis Bickle down a dark alley, she would win that stand off without even lifting a claw.

And then I stuck her in the sink. And then I turned on the water in a steady gentle stream. And then I squirted the perfumy, toxic to fleas, I hope and pray, shampoo. Then the washing began, and she was not pleased. I was being Travis Bickled like nobody's business. She yowled, she clung to the edge of the sink and tried to escape. She looked like a skinny drowned rat. But she nobly suffered, and did not fight it so much as endure her fate. But I fear I have lost her trust forever. This was much worse than a trip to the vet when they, there's no nice way to say this, retrieved a poo sample from her.

She was horribly humbled. Although I don't believe it humbled her in the slightest. I sure hope she doesn't catch pneumonia since she will not allow me near her again with a towel and brush.

I think I am going to be Bickled for the rest of her kitty days.

Lucy, when I caught her because she was too busy laughing at Babette, was much easier, and gladly waited for K to come home from school to walk her. She's always extra frisky after she suffers through her baths, and this one was longer and scrubbier than most.

This better work. I'd feel even worse about putting Babette through that if it doesn't.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Whatcha Doin?

We took a lovely walk at Sandy Bottom Park two days after Thanksgiving. The sun finally came out to stay, the weather was crisp and autumnal, as it should be now that we've entered the Christmas season in full force. Can you tell after three plus years Down South, I'm still growing accustomed to the weather and time of year...well, timing?

"Hey guys."

"Whatcha doin?"


Otherwise, the rest of our hike was really lovely.

Here's Baby C and Honey on the fishing pier.

Can you see her little finger poking out her sleeve?


Sparkly lovely.

Crisp autumn day.

Friday, November 27, 2009

No Nanowrimo win here

I am happy to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. It put me into a good lead on a companion book to my first novel, and now both need some serious editing. I lost my momentum between lots of doctor appointments for my whole family, getting quite ill myself and caring for sick kids, then my back went out as we leaned toward Thanksgiving, and I got hung up in word count rather than having fun enjoying writing well.

That last part was what killed the project for me. Not the whole project, I am happy to continue work on this particular piece, but I want to go about it in the way that is familiar to me. I am an editing nightmare to some, but I'll tell you, that is what I really enjoy about writing as I write, the scribbles and rewording, the back-typing and rewording, the considering of the scene from an entirely different angle, etc. It's what I enjoy about the middle of breadmaking, too: the kneading, the punching it into form.

I have just a few days left to try to make it to 50,000 words. I am at 19, 201 and have my family home, no one at work, no one at school or at senior exercise programs until the thirtieth. I don't think reaching 50,000 is my personal goal anymore. A children's novel is typically about 30,000 and I don't want to just write crap for filler for a contest that has lost meaning for me in it's final goal. I've also lost my thread plotwise and feel like I'm wasting precious word count time doing what I actually love about writing and my process in it. That is indicative that it's time for me to move on and refocus without the contest looming.

For now, for me, this year 19,201 is a fantastic stopping point. Now I can sink my teeth back into the edits of the first novel and then run right into edits on the second I started because of Nano.

Does this then make me a loser if I am not a Nano winner? Certainly not. I have 19,201 words written that I didn't have before I started NaNoWriMo. That's a big win in my book. I've never written 19,000 words toward one thing in three weeks time in my whole life, nevermind with a houseful of sickies and also school days off throughout the month.

I may not have hit 50,000, but I did a lot more than I would have if I hadn't tried.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This year, in looking back to consider my blessings, I have to say, I am pretty grateful for a lot. I am grateful that both of my parents are still with us. We had a couple of moments we weren't too certain of that and as they age, it increasingly looms on the horizon, not nearly as distant as it used to be. Not that they are particularly old or infirm, but you know, the thought is now present when not so long ago, it wasn't.

I am grateful for the beauty I continually find in each of my days, in nature and in the randomness that is everything. I am grateful for a sense of wonder.

I am grateful that I took conscious steps to write more and more completely than I've written in any prior year. This makes me further grateful to my friends at Studio Mothers. Through their support, I completed one novel's first draft and started a second companion novel, wrote many poems and essays, branched out back into visual arts and started this blog.

I am grateful for connecting with new friends and reconnecting with old ones or making better friends with former acquaintances. Back to wonder: the wonder of the internet.

I am grateful for my children and the joy and aggravation they bring everyday. If not for the lows, would the highs be so good? ;) I am grateful that each brings their own miraculous selves to the table.

I am grateful for and to Honey and the home and life we share.

Happy Thanksgiving. May yours be spent with people you love, and lots of pie to share.

Monday, November 23, 2009

poem for today

I went looking for inspiration
and read so many poems,
each becoming a bit better than
the other before it,
that I thought I would die happy,
before I could ever finish
finding the moment.
then I realized I had
with each
while the rain kept
tapping on the window

Sunday, November 22, 2009

nutshell week

1. Boys' good report cards for first quarter, actually excellent, make me somewhat giddy as a mom.

2. Looks like autumn. almost feels like autumn, the leaves are falling and it's beautiful. I wore sweaters and jackets.

3. 19k. Not the goal for the end of the week, but I'm still writing it.

4. More medical. My family is supporting the industry well into the new year, too.

5. Lack of sleep intensified. Baby C is a true night owl. It is reasonable to assume some people are just born that way. I am not one of them, though I have posed as such in my earlier incarnation as someone without children.

6. S is a good guy, not just because he hugs more often and deeply than anyone I know, but I'm noticing he is finding his own ways to relate to us and others. Case in point: I've been writing so much lately, he sat at Honey's laptop next to me to "pretend to write a newspaper article for the Daily Moon, a parody of the Daily Planet, get it? Ninja Boy stops bank robbery...on [honey's] laptop - off of course." clickety-clickety click

7. Hungry and church are not an optimal combination - especially when you go in for first service because you're teaching for second service and there's a meeting after that. Make note to self to eat breakfast on Sunday morning.

8. Baby C meows at cats on tv.

9. I can talk with K like I'm an adult in my own right, not just his mother.

10. For the week ahead, a funny take on the difficult aspects of our history.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


S has been awfully quiet and keeping to himself lately, which is good considering it allows me a bit more focus on my nanonovel. Following are some examples of what he has been up to while cloistered in his room. I think he is very talented and original. I also think, maybe I should be just a tad worried.'s just comics, right?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nano so far

Want to read it? Good's the wordle of it.

glub, glub

We're okay in a high and dry zone, but all around us is wet, wet, and more wet. The wind is high and tidal flooding is a huge concern. In Norfolk, Ghent is under water, In Poquoson, the bridge to Hampton is out, likely through the coming weekend. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is closed.
No one seems to have an idea when this may end.
Mom had another impromptu visit to the ER yesterday, but I spoke with her this morning and she sounds great. Dad hurt himself on the ER door, and in checking him out, they found his blood pressure was too high, so they monitored him, too. Hallelujah, my big brother WKC was there for them both.
When it rains, it pours, indeed. School is cancelled, laundry needs to be done, and I really want to write my nanowrimo today.
Late yesterday afternoon, Baby C walked over to the slider, scolded the rain, "No, wain! No, no no!" slapped the window and stomped off with a pussface.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ever just feel like you want to go home?

I am home, but I feel that way. Diagnostic processes are no fun. They tend to open up new cans of worms with every specialist I see.

I now move from the rheumatologist to getting an echocardiogram. annually.

Can we get back to the original problem, please?

As for nanowrimo...right....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

an update on the progress or not of my nano novel

Life happens,
doctors happen,
and this past week, a lot of doctor appointments happened and other sundry bits of attending to sick self, sick kids, etc. So in the interest of pediatrics, Nanowrimo fell somewhat behind and has been having trouble catching back up. also, I really got walloped by news of Brother Blue passing away.

Nanowrimo is an excellent tool to get yourself writing if you call yourself a writer but don't find yourself doing much of it. It's an excellent jumpstart, you feel inspired, and even if you don't, you push to meet that 1667 words per diem minimum. But once you fall behind, it becomes really hard to scramble. but I figured out a a few little secrets today:

1. I don't have to write 1667 words per day.

2. But it works a heck of a lot better if I do. Otherwise I'm playing a deceitful game of catch-up - which is really very much like swimming against the riptide during hurricane season.

3. Nanowrimo becomes an obsession. Possibly a very unhealthy obsession. I sat in the pediatrics office for six hours on Wednesday thinking not so much of my kids and their various stages of this long, non-h1n1 flu we've had, but of how I could be writing instead of sitting in this waiting room, exam room, phlebotomy department, radiology department because when I took my daughter to the hospital the previous week, they didn't run all the tests they now had to run during Nanowrimo. The boys were with me, too for their wellness appointments, etc, vaccines, etc. I was barely concerned, except when C was crying from getting stuck with a needle for bloodwork or having a big loud machine shoot light boxes all over her leg and hips, while mommy wore a big lead apron. Nano becomes unhealthy when your spouse and you are sitting right next to each other all night long on separate computers not saying a word to each other until he does, and you get annoyed that he's interrupting your train of thought, but more importantly, your word count. It becomes an obsession when every time your toddler wanders over and whines and pulls to be on your lap, you act like it's the end of the world because you can't finish your train of thought or your word count. Same with the preteen mom-mom-momming in your ear and poking you in the arm or the teen mom-mom-momming you on the cellphone until you realize in a half-attention moment you allowed him to sleep over someone's dad's house and you don't even know where he lives, because you were still typing when he was asking and you just wanted him off the phone.

4. But Nanowrimo is important, because you will write a novel in thirty days, whether you make the word count or not, and you will have another manuscript to edit and eventually shop with the other one, because you now can market it to agents as a series of sorts....and you will have two books at the end of this! And at the end of this, you'll pay better attention to your spouse and your kids and yourself for that matter, and to the fact that maybe the sun is in fact shining outside and oh, yea, there's an outside.....

5. I don't have to write the parts in the order in which they come chronologically, but in the order in which they travel through my bleeding brain.

6. Ok that's more than a few things, but I also figured out it is much better to write about what you know than have to research about something for a novel you're trying to write in thirty days. Set it in a country you've been to, and forget about wildlife, unless of course, it has become a central theme in the book....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

RIP Brother Blue

From the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you....

Brother Blue was a huge figure in my life, he blessed my belly when I was pregnant with my boys, and blessed the boys after they were born. His wife Ruth is a rock and kept that balloon named Brother Blue tethered to the ground. When he spoke to a roomfull or a street corner full, you felt like you were something bigger and made from the universe itself. He was dynamic and full of unconditional love. He didn't just talk the talk, he walked the walk. He was a large part of my 20s-30s. When I was in a conversation with him one on one, he made me feel like there was nothing more important than that moment, and me in it, he cried when I read my poems around boston and cambridge, and always made the time to talk with me after and thank me for sharing them.
I feel so much for ruth right now, nevermind missing him. She was the perfect balance for him, their relationship was one to never take for granted. Where he was air and fire, she was - and is - earth and water.
The love for each other was always apparent, and when it was time to go home, no matter how he resisted, she always got him out of the venue and safely to the T.
The world is a smaller place without him, and heaven, the universe, whatever you want to call it has grown boundless for his presence among the stars.

I am stunned by this loss, though I haven't seen him in about 6 years. A world without Brother Blue in it is that unimaginable to me at the moment.

here is his Obituary. It leaves out so much that made him the wonder, the magic that was Brother Blue.

still writing, at least trying...

“The moment a man begins to talk about technique that’s proof that he is fresh out of ideas."
Raymond Chandler

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


sick kids
sick me, still
sound like Harvey Fierstein
trick or treating yes
writing new book yes
editing old book no
re-reading enjoyable book: The Secret Life of Bees
reconfirming it is an important book,
and should be read, don't think movie did it justice
snuggling fever toddler
home from cancelled appointment with rheumatologist
after driving all the way up there, hither and yon.
should start today's writing session,
but everyone is home because it's Election Day
and S has started slagging and coughing, too
glad all kids have pediatric appointment tomorrow
it's going to be a long day
where are those old gameboys?

voted, please vote, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Nanowrimo is Here

Therefore, you will be seeing much less from me here for the next thirty days. Wish me luck, and it's not too late to join me! 50,000, c'mon, I dare ya.
Yes, I am crazy. But it is all about quantity, not quality. I can tear it apart and build it up again when November ends.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday 2

I've been sick for two weeks, not terribly, but it's wearing me down. Kids have been sick, mil, Honey. Even had a trip to the ER with Baby C. I cancelled our overscheduled weekend and am currently up in the air about Trick or Treating.

Nano starts in 2 days, and I still haven't finished edits on book one. and I feel crappy and for two days I was just plain old useless...

Ok, I will stop whining now.

Here's a poem I wrote the other day because I love Fall:

the whole of the world
is right there
in the green to gold to red
of a single autumn leaf

Have a lovely and spirited All Hallows Eve.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thursday threes

Three days to Nanowrimo. Three kids for Halloween in two days. Two on the neighborhood loot journey, one to scare the the trick or treaters at home.

S has decided to be a classic cartoon criminal, complete with black and white striped shirt and swag bag with sharpie'd dollar sign. Should have seen what it took to find a black and white striped shirt.....

Honey's old nickname and costume of preference is El Diablo, so Baby C is going to be a little devil. Really, she is anyway of late, we're just dressing her for the part. Horns and all.

Another year, I'll get all woo-woo on you with my love of the Day of the Dead, All Hallows, Halloween, Samhain, and everything of the Crossroads. This year I'm too busy wrapping up book one edits in prep for book two in Nanowrimo.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Four days to Nanowrimo and part of me wants to run screaming. The other part is happy to have found a face to face writing group that is focused on children's literature. Who knew I lived among likemindeds? And one of them has signed up for the November torture device. So they are crazy like me, too.

How inspiring!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


5 days to Nanowrimo and I have just registered the impact of: on Nov. 1, I have 5, count 'em loud, 5 scheduled obligations, each lasting between 1.5- 3 hours, throughout the day and evening and out of the house. And two are potlucks.

I am not quitting before I even get started. This is a sign from the Universe of what a kick in the pants I need to give myself.

Okay, who is joining me? For Nanowrimo, that is, not for kicking me in the pants.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Write a 50K word novel in 30 days. Come on, I dare you. All the cool writers are doing it.

November 1st. It's only 3.3 double spaced pages per day in 12-point Times New Roman.
PS: I am still supposedly attempting to edit my first novel in the week prior to starting the second in Nanowrimo. Wish me luck, still on hiatus, still in the mayhem, too - sick kids, me, week of editing was hijacked due to scheduling difficulties...

Monday, October 19, 2009


I must listen to my creative instincts, which have been gathering, and take this week to write the part of my children's novel manuscript, that up until now has eluded me. All the research I did over the summer has finally digested and I feel the story coming on. The combination of the conversations on CC last week and my creative juices bubbling reached a crucial convergence.

At least that's what the voices in my head are telling me as I post this. ;)

see you when I'm done!
photo credit is unknown but I will gladly credit it to the it's creator if anyone knows.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Holy smokestacks of mom blogging controversy

The venerable Liz Hum of may have finally and appropriately settled the uproar.

My take on what has been going on at Creative Construction this week is that the reason we are even there is to figure out amongst ourselves how to negotiate our way through our lives and live them creatively as well as in the process maybe inspire, or console or give each other tips on how to do so when some of us may otherwise be pulling out our hair in a moment of drudgerous mayhem. And maybe together, we can find our way closer to the joys that feed us from our children, to our partners, to our arts. I like to think of us as a matriarchal tribe, who rather than beating our laundry out on rocks together by a river, are conversing on the internet because that is how we do it in the 21st Century. This is how we commiserate, negotiate, commune, get it off our chest, so that we can move forward.

After all, that's life. Saaaaan-yo!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poem for an Autumn Day

I should not be wandering the house aimlessly
When there is so much to do
And the toddler is napping.
But I don’t know where to start.
I’m too tired from cuddling
the little fusspot with the stuffy nose.
The fourteen year old is sick, too.
But I made him go to school today
Because yesterday, he lay listlessly,
chanted a mantra of
I’m booooored. Soooo bored.
Til I couldn’t take it anymore.
Then the middle child,
The one who presents
Very differently when he’s sick
Came home and announced
What a good day he had.
My immediate thought –
He must be coming down with it, too.

I wander aimlessly, wanting to write,
Looking at the spots on the kitchen floor,
The dog and cat hair collecting along the baseboards
And turn around to the room I won’t see them in,
Nor the dishes.

I look at the computer
And distinctly feel I cannot write.
I have no brain.
What is this stiff ache along the back of my neck
Moving up into my ears?

I can’t get sick.
They all need me.
The laundry needs me.
The baseboards need me.
The baby, the preteen, the teen
All need me.

I can’t get sick.
The writing needs me.
But I wander aimlessly,
My face feeling flush.
Maybe I’ll go walk the dog.

Or maybe I’ll just sit back down.
Through the window,
The sky is grey.
The leaves flutter in the wind.
The world is awash in lesser hues,
As the strong rains
Approach from the west
Just out of reach.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ah fall....

I took these at dusk last night. First I forgot to set the camera for no flash, but I kind of like the contrast and it makes the leaves stand out better.

No, it's not as brilliant as when I lived the majority of my life in New England, but here in the Coastal Plains of Virginia, I look for it in every little way I can. I am beginning to appreciate that autumn starts later and lasts longer here, too. Our first Thanksgiving, Honey wore shorts, and I didn't wear a sweater. Seemed like blasphemy then.
Now I find it's subtler beauties in little moments like this one. No, not a flaming tree full of yellow or red, but the slow dying of the leaves fluttering individually from the tree. A birch in my old Massachusetts town would be long bare by now. Not this one. And it's mine. This is home now.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

to write in the midst of it all

Creative Construction is a great site for mothers who are trying to juggle being an artist of any form with being a mother and the demands of working or SAHMing or wherever you are on that spectrum. It has been instrumental for me in getting started back to writing anything again after a huge dry spell period in which I had a myriad of other things going on. I realized that what I needed to do regardless of being in the midst of - you guessed it - Life, that what I needed more than anything was to write.

First I read and commented on others' posts . Then I started posting some blogs periodically there, then I found my way back to a huge old project, which is now a completed first draft of a middle reader novel with a scientific hole in the middle. Then I started writing this blog, because I was drained re: the novel, but recognized I still very much needed to stay in the habit of writing. I seriously suggest that if you feel even the slightest notion to be creative in the midst of everything, to go there, to do it, to let go of the things in life that will be there anyway regardless of whether or not you take an hour for yourself, or even ten minutes, and do what you love.

I am now feeling like I could go back in and take a look at what is missing and try to at least hobble something together out of the void, with all my little research materials. And what I don't know, I can fake well enough that I can send this out to agents, etc and if I get a contract out of it, I can ask for assistance from contacts they may have to clarify what I would like to have in better detail. I think I can do that now. It's been a good couple of months since I closed the last chapter and sent it out to a couple of trusted readers. They've returned it well-marked, but also with kudos that I wrote a good story that really should see print, and not just because they are friends of mine, but because they are serious readers and know a good story when they see it.

So, as soon as C goes down for her nap, and I get that next batch of laundry in, and something resembling a meal in front of me, I will creak open the slightly rusty manuscript and give it a go.

What is your dream of what you want to be doing outside of your daily norm? If you still don't know...hang out over at CC for a while. You will likely find it there.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Couples Retreat, the movie

Boy do I feel guilty. Saturday, Honey and I ran errands with the girl, and left the guys with Mil early in the afternoon, then I talked Honey into a dinner and movie date night. That takes a lot of convincing, believe you me. So we decided on an early dinner then the 7:30 showing of Couples Retreat. Of course this means, we dumped all the kids on Mil for the night, too. We left at 4:30, ate and got dessert. We haven't had a dinner date in so long we couldn't figure out where to sit without having to separate K and S, pin S into the booth and fit C in a high chair on the end and figure out who of the three adults gets stuck next to K or S to run interference. We got a glass of wine, a beer and dessert (beware the peanut butter cup at Uno's - it is pure evil incarnate and delish). Big money night. We had time left over to buy a tube of toothpaste at Kmart, look at toddler Halloween costumes and still had time left over to wait in the car outside the theater. So I feel guilty about dumping kids on Mil effectively all day. But it was worth it. And she got to cuddle with C at night for bedtime, which she really wants to do.

But if this is a movie review I have to get to it. And I want to because if you are married, especially with young children, you will LOVE this movie. It is hissafreakinsterical! I haven't laughed that much in a movie theater since I honestly can't remember. This is a pee your pants funny movie! And besides the humor, the movie is well written by Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn. Vince Vaughn is all over this movie, from production to acting. I'll tell you, it's a good thing I didn't meet him before I married Honey, because, that whole thing about making a girl laugh will make her fall in love with you definitely applies to me. I know, like I'd have a chance in a pig sty with Vince Vaughn.

I don't know how to tell you about the different couples and their relationships without giving too much away. Favreau and Kristin Davis were spot on for the married young - get me out of here couple. Faizon Love was so funny and sweet, and Kali Hawk as his little girlfriend was a hoot. Kristin Bell and Jason Bateman as the uptight couple nailed it so much I wanted to smack him in the head, which is saying a lot because I have such a crush for years on him, even though he tends to play the guy you want to smack upside the head in recent roles (Juno). Vince Vaughn and Malin Akerman renewed my faith in my own marriage. Sure we get on each other's nerves, fight, avoid each other, get too caught up in the everyday of life with kids, but when we stop and really see where we are and who is standing there with each other, it's all good.

And in there just for giggles is a duel so epic, it will remind you of every old Western and Bruce Lee movie. It's a laugh riot.

Keep an eye on the little blond kid and mark my words: we're going to see big things from him. He is a comedic natural. I am still laughing about his final scene. That kid has got It. Colin Baiocchi - remember that name.

Oh and keep your eye out for Papa Vernon Vaughn as Grandpa Jim Jim. You can see the humor tree from which Vince fell.

One note: don't take your kids. I saw what looked like an eight year old come in with his mother and teen sister. This movie is very risque for a PG-13. No nudity, but there's not much doubled about the entendre throughout. The theme is trying to make marriages work, and there is a lot of sexual content, very funny sexual content, but not for a kid. I wouldn't want to sit next to my kids for this one.

Go see it, it's a really good time. Parents, get the sitter, call grandma, whatever it takes, and have a date night to see this movie.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Old obsession

When I was a girl, I watched old movies with my mother, and was absolutely enthralled with certain icons of a more glamorous age. Marilyn Monroe was a particular obsession. Around age fifteen, I wanted to be her, or someone like her. I was skin and bones, she was voluptuous, sweet, enthralling. She was also dead. All through those movies where she seemed to find happiness, I always watched the sadness in her eyes. She was the ultimate incongruity of brazenness and vulnerability, Aphrodite incarnate and insecure little girl. I wanted to protect her in Some Like It Hot, in Seven Year Itch, and in How to Marry a Millionaire, Bus Stop and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I was in love with her/wanted to be her in those and all the rest of her movies.
There is something about Marilyn that still speaks to fifteen year old girls and it's in that inherent, awkward 'Do you like me? Oh, you do? How did that happen?' questioning of almost every young woman on the verge of sexuality and how will men react to her. Around that age, we fantasize being fairytale princesses and movie stars swept into the strong embrace of a square jawed prince or co-star. It's our tale we've been fed for centuries. And then we have our families (hopefully) doing everything they can to protect us from what wasn't seen on the screen in the old movies. All we wanted was to fall in love and slake our hormonal messes of pubescence.
As I grew older and studied film - making, art of and history around film - a bit in college, and as a film lover, Marilyn's vulnerability spoke to me in many different ways. Sometimes to the injustices of her neglected childhood and a how it drove her to relationships in which she was always vulnerable, how that played out in her life and on screen.
I am on the fence about whether she died from an accidental overdose or whether as the conspiracy theorists contend, she knew too much. I don't think she was at a point in her life when she would have willfully taken her own life. We've all repeatedly seen those last scene shots of her swimming in the pool for the ironically titled, Something's Gotta Give. I love watching that scene because, for once, she seems on the verge of something big, something good, swimming away from the expression that Richard Avedon caught so off-guard in the above photograph.
She's still among the most beautiful people that the world and I are still captivated by. I guess the mystery of her death and the incompleteness of what she left behind will always make us smile then make us want to cry.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

18 months and growing

How did she get so big so fast?

She's talking, she's walking, running, climbing, exploring, getting into absolutely everything. She knows everything we say to her and responds accordingly. She loves to throw her diapers in the garbage after a change. She walks over and says, "Poop" while reaching around behind, in a very matter of fact manner. Then she runs to the changing area, saying "Yenge!"

We had her check up yesterday, and she's small on the growth chart, but so was I, and she's following the basic curve appropriately.

She's such a big girl - with a curl right in the middle of her forehead. I feel nostalgic for the little squidge with a mohawk and two fingers stuffed in her mouth that could fit in crook of my arm. Her two fingers are generally still stuffed in her mouth.
Thank goodness for the little things, right? She's growing way too fast.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Next Big Thing

Why is it even when I have several projects I could be working on, narrowed to two that I am working on (read procrastinating) that I generally have at least part of my writer's eye on The Next Big Thing?

This is also true in the home improvement arena, you should see what I've come up with for the addition now that we are paying a mortgage and have a yard of our own rather than renting a condo.

I mean I could also be focusing on getting those wonderfully folded piles from last week into dressers before starting this week's loads. But I'm already a day late anyway, and have no earthly idea how it is that I wash the same five outfits per family member twice a week and there are still piles of folded and sorted laundry sitting from two weeks ago.

I'm planning next spring's gardens while the plots are currently filled and continuing to fill with weeds. I really need to buy more sand to add to my clay soil which needs to be turned and covered, with compost, too, before I start plotting next year.

I am also dreaming baby names, when I know, logistics and physicality have set in stone that C is the last of my progeny. I am thinking of new baby names instead of being present with the three kids I have now.

I can use the baby names for characters, but that is the only technical resolve I have for this dilemma I have that the next thing is better than the present. It's sparklier, it's as tempting as a dessert sitting on the counter while I'm preparing dinner.

Something about the new, the imagined, the dreamed is much easier because I can keep my hands clean thinking about it while the dirty work of the present is a constant.

Maybe I just have trouble with finishing, with letting go, with saying finally, for the last time, that this version of the poem, the children's novel, the article is good enough just the way it is.

I'm sure there is a psychological disorder with a big fancy name for this. It has conveniently slipped my mind.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

S sends a Letter

I often wonder how S occupies himself when I am at church with the other two kids, and Honey is mowing the lawn or taking care of other stuff around the house. S doesn't come with us because he gets too sensory overloaded and I would like to enjoy the service rather than attend to redirecting him when he doesn't want to be there. It makes for an unpleasant day all around. This is a battle I choose not to fight. I believe I have chosen well. Of course I rethink this decision every week, ask him again if he'd like to join us, then leave well enough alone.

I was pleasantly surprised by an excited attack from S when I returned this Sunday. He was sealing an envelope, readying to send it off to Toho Studios. Together, we looked up their address online, which took a bit more of a search than anticipated. He had typed it up and translated from English to Japanese using Babelfish (I wonder how legible that letter really is), drawn characters, given them bios, and basically given them the plot idea and story arc for his big monster movie idea. He has been bugging me to move to Japan so he can work at Toho Studios, the makers of Godzilla movies, and get them to make his movie since he was about four years old. He's eleven now. He is the living definition of persistence.

Well, being Sunday, of course the letter was not removed by the mail carrier. He kept checking the mailbox. At one point, he came back in carrying his prized letter, and demanded that we needed to get in the car right now and drive it to the post office. I did eventually get through to him, that whether it was in the blue box in front of the post office or in our mailbox, the letter was not going to start its journey to Japan until Monday afternoon.

Yesterday, he woke up, ran down the stairs at six a.m. per usual, but this time, out the front door to check and see, yes in fact, the letter was still in the mailbox.

By the time this posts, that letter will have started its journey to Tokyo, but it will not be soon enough for S. It's easy to see that he feels he is one step closer to truly making his own giant monster movie - in Japan.

Good luck, kiddo. It's a great idea.

I copied the letter and pictures he drew in the scanner, and sealed the original in another envelope, dated it, had him sign it and I signed it as a witness, just in case. It really is a good idea and very well thought out, as he's had many years to think about what he'd like to see on the big screen.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ho hum

No news is good news, right? So here's walking the dog on Sunday. S took the first photo. Sunday was beautiful. Not to rub it in, I was dressed a bit warmly for 78F. Happy October from Southeastern Virginia! We passed K hanging out with his friends. Of course, he ignored us. Honey, S and I walked the dog and sat by the fingerlake. C was napping. I should really hold in my pooch (not the dog) a bit more. Or lose weight.

By the lake, we saw this leaf....or is it?

Am I seeing things?

No! It's really a beautiful butterfly! I never saw this type before. Again, wish the photo weren't so blurry. This butterfly has a crisp stripe of clear sky blue along the outer rim of his wings.


Friday, October 2, 2009

To Conclude Banned Books Week

I would like to simply point you to a lovely letter written by a librarian to a patron regarding a book the patron wanted removed from the children's section. I believe it is well thought, well stated and in accordance with the the purpose of our founding fathers.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Should I be concerned?

Dinner conversation

S rats out Honey for giving him forbidden pepperoni pizza the other day when they were returning from their jaunt at the model train show.

K: Oh, you are so getting shanked in prison, snitch!
S: What's snitch?
Mom: It's tattling and you are not going to prison.
S (completely ignoring mom): What's shank?
K: Homemade prison weapons used for stabbing. They're made from sharpened plastic utensils, scraps of metal, usually sharpened screwdrivers, pens, pencils....

In the meantime, Honey is still sshhhhing and shaking his head. Then recounts the time S snitched on him teaching the boys to drive his car when they were five and eight, long before we got married....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

100 on Monday

Monday marked my one hundredth post. I anticipated doing something fun on 100 for it, but then I went to the Powwow and was generally blown away. Not sure I captured that in the first part, but maybe touched on it in yesterday's post.

Anyway, a while back, in February, inspired by artist Elizabeth Beck, I posted a 100 Happies list on Creative Construction. I think it's about time for another look at what makes me happy. Maybe it will inspire me to greater appreciation of what is right around me and motivate me toward making what isn't immediately accessible happen. I suggest doing one for yourself. It really got my creative juices flowing to mark down what truly gets my mojo working. And get the creativity flowing again. Please note that while these are numbered entries of happiness, the numbers in no way reflect a specific hierachy of happiness.

1. dark chocolate, creamy warm liquified, bite into nibble by nibble, velvety on my tongue in a mousse or pudding, dark, beautiful rich, not too sweet chocolate
2. Honey, mine, that stands about six feet tall, shoulders wide, belly growing, knees going, hair migrating, love him, love him, love him, man faults and all.
3. cookies
4. baking cookies
5. smelling cookies baking, you get the idea
6. oceanside
7. woods
8. fall - the promise of renewal
9. spring bursting forth in magical blooms
10. winter, snow especially - much missed in these parts.
11. summer, steamy, relaxed, with the kids.
12. getting up and going on a family adventure, any adventure, but one together
13. potatoes - mashed, french fried, baked, boiled, buttered, cheesed, plain...potatoes. I tell myself it's a much needed potassium fix.
14. sunlight through a window.
15. loving my kids
16. K's inquiring and justice seeking brain
17. S's hugs and need to make everyone laugh
18. C's incredible, ooo, what's that, and that, and can I climb this, and am I not the cutest thing ever expression that makes me want to hug her and laugh when iIshould be putting her in time out
19. being outside
20. gardening, growing things, I guess this goes for the kids, too.
21. animals, all varieties, but love having dogs and cats.
22. those moments I need to steal for myself, slow down and just take it all in no matter what, whether mayhem is ensuing or a blissful elusive slip of silence.
23. a moment that steals me, stuns me with beauty or surprise so unexpected, I can only make note of it, wish it a little longer
24. laughter - yours, mine, the kids, honey's...random people in the check out line....
25. the nature of relationship and the human need for interaction
26. springing for some fun - dinner, dq, a movie, I guess this falls under family adventure
27. individually set time with honey, no interruptions or possibility of interruptions. a vary rare commodity.
28. come to think of it, individual time with any of the kids, too.
29. come to think of it, individual time for me, for my writing, to curl up with a book and be left alone, not have to do anything for anyone for a day, maybe more.
30. apparently wishful thinking.
31. writing, when it's really chugging, can't stop, got the groove
32. any creative endeavor, to be honest, too infrequent
33. dancing, movement, motion, physical activity - again, not enough of that going on these days
34. knowing that in general I can see in my kids, that I'm a doing a pretty darn good job of parenting, even if I felt like I was faking for a handful of years there.
35. honesty in all things
36. deep conversation of the soul-searching variety, growth from painful experiences made tangible
37. grass between my toes
38. the shoreline breaking between my toes
39. tickling baby toes, sniffing stinky baby toes, eating them, playing piggies, counting them. what IS it about baby toes?
40. get down, get funky
41. transcendent music like listening to Gorectski's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs or singing Vivaldi's gloria in a chorus
42. a clear view of the the ever mutable sky
43. rain
44. sleep
45. sleeping with the sounds of rain on the windows...
46. laughing full out til I cry.
47. reading
48. poetry
49. losing myself in movies
50. walking hand in hand
51. just sitting with Honey without having to say a thing.
52. talking. I really love talking.
53. a good story - hearing one told well or telling one
54. listening. I know to those who know me, it may not seem like it, but I really do listen to the essence of what your are saying and it really matters.
55. scratching an itch
56. getting a haircut
57. ...a massage...
58. a campfire
59. stargazing
60. observing the transitory nature of everything.
61. cuddling
62. listening to the cat purr
63. watching the dog sleep. I wish I could sleep like that - out, upside down, my feet in the air.
64. not missing out on something
65. 64 was vague, but I like to be in the thick of it, whatever it is
66. being utterly alone
67. life
68. musing
69. mayhem
70. order. on the surface I look like a cluttered slob, but my drawers are all well organized.
71. travelling, again, not enough of this
72. a sense of security, home, a definite place for me.
73. knowing that my definitive place is really with my family and has nothing to do with a specific place.
74. monkeys
75. bunnies. but I would never own either.
76. butterflies, well interesting insects and spiders
77. frogs that say 'doh!'
78. my nephews and niece, whole family really
79. connecting with people of all stripes
80. I enjoy hanging out with old people. even when I was a kid, I played chess with Mrs. B next door with poodles, and cards with Mrs. F down the street who kept birds. she had a mynah bird.
81. birds - I'm a bit of a lay ornithologist
82. curiosity
83. puzzles
84. Scrabble
85. mexican train game
86. tap dancing in my kitchen
87. singing bad arias in the shower
88. smooth skin
89. leaves changing colors
90. green twilight
91. water
92. hugs
93. barefeet or in colder weather woolie socks
94. collecting seashells and intersting rocks and chestnuts, pine cones, birch strips...
95. eating a hot tomato from the garden on a sunny day.
96. my tomato thief
97. pride in s's accomplishments, all my kids, but especially s, because it is so hard for him.
98. the smell of horses
99. love and that we're all made of love, even when we fight.
100. spaghetti

Much more can be added to this list, and it's constantly changing, but some things remain constant, among them, chocolate.