Sunday, December 30, 2012

V is for volcano


He's not like his sister.

Temper is short with this one when he's sick.

Tolerance low.

He holds a grudge. Even against his own interests.

When he's like this I know bedtime will be a bear.

He growls and snarls and retreats into his cave.

I step into his lair, he tells me to leave through tears and recriminations.

He wanted me to read him a story ...

"But that moment's over," he snipes.

"Ok," I shrug. "Suit yourself."

I turn to go.

"WAIT! ... that moment's over, too. Here's my book. I'm up to 'volcanos.'"

Tuesday, December 18, 2012



Dear Ittybit,

At 7:15 this evening the house shook with cheers. Your brother, your father, an aunt, a grandfather, two grandmothers and I rattled the windows.

You didn't mind that we were fully one minute late. You knew we meant no harm. After all, we're not clock watchers.

Nor did you mind that you received only three gifts; though your grandfather had to be talked out of making a 40-minute round-trip to retrieve his overlooked packages.

The party will always be your gift.

The bringing of people together, even when they sometimes feel so very far apart, has always been your gift to us.

After dinner your Ama Linda told you the story of your birth as she experienced it -- in Minnesota, after excusing herself from giving a college lecture for a moment to take the important call.

"When I returned to the room all thirty college students we're just silent, waiting to know. ...

Her voice recreating the emotion she felt nine years ago as if it were yesterday: 'It's a girl!!!'"

We circled the table, regaling you with memories from the days before your memories attached.

Neither your father nor I could remember what the world was like outside on the day you was born.

I asked him if it had been snowing ... like it had been the day before. He didn't know.

He told you about how proud he was as the nurses made footprints. Not of what he'd made in you but in the mess you made of yourself the moment they loosened their grip and you inked each and every clean surface around you, including the hard to reach bits.

Definitely his child.

I told you how shocked I felt, sitting in the examining room nearly 10 months earlier as the doctor worked her magic with a plastic wheel and calculated your arrival a few days before Christmas.

A Christmas birthday? Only four weeks in and already I'm a horrible mom.

You didn't understand the joke. Your birthday has always made you happy ... Christmas 'round the corner or not. Extra presents or not. People singing off key and completely inaccurately about your domicile.

You do NOT live in a zoo.

Not literally, anyway.

The stories kept flowing.

The first time I saw you. The first time I held you. The first time I stared at your face from daybreak until dark. The first time my mother grabbed you away, saying "give me that baby." She never wanted to let you go.

"I had my best Christmas EVER that year!" I told you -- a declaration you couldn't quite believe.

"What did you get?"

"I got to be a mom."

Monday, December 17, 2012

'Surely we can do better ... '

righteous, man

I hadn't expected to bring my kids to school today. I'd planned to send them off with the bus just like any other Monday.

But it had been a long weekend filled with winter walks, neighborhood parties and a constant albeit quiet grief.  I wasn't surprised that we woke up late. I wanted to make sure they had breakfast ... and I wanted to make sure I didn't spend the last few minutes of our time together today yelling at them to get ready lest they miss their ride.

Not today. 

Today, I wanted to be mindful of the one thing I, and everyone on this planet, can do right now to begin the process of change -- we can spread kindness.  We can smile at each other more; we can kiss our kids and hug them just because they are amazing; and we can help someone who needs us. Especially a stranger.

Right now our schools need us.

And our kids need their schools. Because schools are the places where community truly becomes real to our children. 

I didn't hug my kids as they ran to their classrooms. I didn't follow them and speak to their teachers. I know them well, and know my kids are in excellent hands.

 I did speak to the former principal, though, a woman who is so devoted to the school that she has remained active there despite having to step down from her position as she battles lung cancer. I hugged her and told her I appreciated the time she took trying to comfort me.

As I left the building and headed to my car I was thankful for our president's words:

"There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other.  The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true.  The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters.  We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness.  We don’t go wrong when we do that."

Kindness is what we need. Kindness and community.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Flower shops and butcher paper 'specials'

It's end of the world as we know it.

But you can get your Apathy here ... only .50 cents

Monday, December 10, 2012

The irresponsible party

The irresponsible party.

And the criminal mastermind.

Slippery little suckers.

The two of them.

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Big H Hudson #shopping

I hate shopping.

More and more each year.

But shopping locally takes a little of the edge off.

Just. Sayin'.

Monday, December 03, 2012

When the cat's away ...

We made these last year for the 22 members of Annabel's Second Grade class.

Ours were a variation of Martha Stewart's no-sew candy cane mice.

Since I had lots and lots (and lots) of white, cotton felt and other fabric scraps (but no craft felt), I decided to double up the brushed cotton bodies and sew them together to make a pocket.

Ittybit glued on the features.

We made them to fit full-sized candy canes, but we could have just as easily made them to fit the tiny ones.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Kids ...


All ears ...

But only half listening.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What I learned today ...


You learn all kinds of things when visiting a kindergarten class.

For instance:

When practicing writing the alphabet, did you know that the line to which the tail of a lowercase g descends is called "The Worm Line"?

I sure didn't.

Now, I might have guessed that a d's belly is exactly the same as a b's belly, only it's facing backward ... but I had to think about it some.

And I sort of had a clue that my bellybutton is NOT screwed in with hardware of any kind, yet I kept silent.

It's true. 

I could have guessed that most of the students milling about the room were older (stronger ... and smarter) than they were the last time I saw them ...

But it's reassuring to have a definitive declaration to that effect.

However, I was dumbfounded when I discovered these in a bin against the chalkboard:

I have no idea what they are teaching in kindergarten but I have to admit it I think it will be helpful when the zombie minions take over.

Honestly? I have no idea what they're for but I suspect that when the zombie minions break through the worm line and take over, these kids will be ready.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

You, too, can be the life of the parody

silas style

Oh ... I love JibJab. 

Watch them dance around.

Like fools.

Who wouldn't love that?

I bet even Kim Jong Un gets a chuckle from this Gangnum Style craze.

Mitt Romney's probably not terribly amused, but ... 

Oh ... Who cares? Certainly not any among the 47 percent.

But Ittybit and The Champ are eating up K-Pop star Psy's cowboy dance moves.

Which, I have to admit, are helping fuel Ittybit's desire for a Dance Party Birthday next month.

Thanks to Jib Jab, she too can join the Parody.

Although, I'm wondering how it will look when the kids are all dancing to a soundtrack of Selena Gomez and One Direction.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Eat the Bird


Is it strange to wake up the day after Thanksgiving and realize you and nine or 10 of your friends and relatives sat across a table from one another to share a meal yet never once shared in conversation the things for which we are thankful?

Is it horrible that we never took the time to reflect on what it was that got us to this place?





Good or bad?


For a moment I felt a twinge of guilt ... as if the failure to verbally examine gratitude made me as ungrateful as if I'd spent the last Thursday in November greedily shopping for things I didn't need.

It didn't last long. I know what I am grateful for and for whom; and trying to put those thoughts into words doesn't give them any more weight.

I am grateful for everyone who has ever made me laugh ...


or smile  ...


or feel important.


And yet, perhaps more surprisingly, I'm just as grateful for everyone who has ever made me irritated or anxious or feel at loose ends. For all the things that have frightened me. Saddened me. Made me think about the world and all the parts of it I can't control.


As I sit there, looking over at my parents, it feels wrong to be thankful for things that just plain hurt.

Thankful for acceptance.

It just makes a speech about gratitude seem as awkward as the silence. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Stranger than strangers

Seriously! Who is this kid who got off the bus? #growingup

Did I mention that a certain person, who, for the first quarter of his kindergarten career has only worn a certain green shirt (we have four) and a certain style of jersey shorts (even as temperatures dipped into the low 20s), has finally been convinced to wear his "skinny jeans" to school?


Honestly, I feel like I don't know this new kid who gets off the bus at our house.

Although, when he gets in the house and strips off his jeans ... and his pajama bottoms ...  and his shorts ...  right down to his underoos, it all comes back to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rice and relaxation

Rice bag made to order. #sickday #earache

The little miss has been missing school, the result of some niggling, nefarious virus that's just enough to keep her temperature elevated and give her ear the occasional boxing, but not enough to keep her from eating, sleeping or being characteristically chatty.

It didn't affect her creativity either.

Her touch of ear ache -- and my impromptu fix: A pillow stuffed with basmati rice that can be heated in microwave and applied to affected area -- has given us an idea for teacher gifts this holiday season.

Rice and relaxation photo.JPG

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

44 for 4 more

Poor Silas. He'd hoped Mitt Romney would win. He was looking forward to a shorter school day. #myAlexKeaton

I *almost* feel bad for our Alex P. Keaton Silas.

His horse didn't win.

He had heard that Romney would cut education, and, under that impression, was excited for a Romney victory and a shorter school day.

We chatted though -- I told him about how people make all kinds of promises during elections they can't always keep. And sometimes they make promises that if they were to keep -- such as cutting spending on education and social programs -- might hurt the entire country in the years to come.

He's ok now.  And he saw enough of President Obama's acceptance speech to change his mind.

Although he's hoping he can have the dog Malia and Sasha won't be getting.

Poor deluded kid.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Defy the laws of tradition (not nature)

I hate when they have reporters on camera during active storms. My husband is probably why: He wants to see these folks get eaten by overgrown sewer gators.

I know there are so many more problems at stake in the world than first-day coverage of major natural disasters ... but as large swathes of the East Coast tuned in last night for information on Hurricane Sandy,  I had to ask (aloud ... to a roomful of husband and dog ... kids had already gone to bed) if it's finally time for major news organizations (like CNN) to get rid of (or at least diminish the presence of) people reporting live and on-camera from the storm surge.

I mean ...


Every time they cut to someone in a raincoat screaming against the wind about how eerily dark the city is or how high the waves are (or were, as the case may be), I was almost angry.

These guys were clinging to road signs and fighting gusts for the microphone, while telling viewers why no one should be traveling around (like they were). I was slack-jawed as one reporter recounted how many injuries his crew had suffered -- the result of blowing signs and debris -- even though they were "taking precautions" and being "safe" (while standing amid flood waters in hurricane-force winds).

And the news they delivered seemed ... well ... mighty unoriginal.

"What about the hospitals?"

"What about the fires?"

"What about climate change?"

"Why are we wasting time with some guy in front of a casino on a mostly deserted street?"

"Do people REALLY want to see this person swept away?"

My husband just shook his head ...

In abject disagreement ...

And chuckled:

"I'll tell you what I want to see. I want to see an alligator from the sewer swallow him up."

"Or a shark ... washed in from the river?" I offered in jest.

"Better yet."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Like riding a bike


Two wide tires and an oil-covered chain moving the heavy, blue frame forward. Kickstand up, helmet on, she and the bike held upright by the placement of pygmy wheels.

An ordinary rite of passage.

And it eluded us.

Tricycle. Bicycle. Scooter. Didn't matter.

She never wanted to ride any of them.

So I never pressed.

I told myself she'd learn ... eventually.

Honestly, though, I thought she'd drive a car before she learned to ride a bike.

And that haunted me more than the worries piling on about just growing up. The guilt of not taking advantage of the right advantages. Should we be doing this? Should be we doing that?

Magic 8-Ball says: "Reply hazy, try again"

"When I was her age I was riding all over the universe," I thought to myself, wondering all the while what good will really come of comparing childhoods three decades apart.

 Also wondering what she'd miss by never learning to ride a bike.

Independence? Freedom? Rush-hour traffic? Possible collision with a car?

"Maybe it's not the worst thing after all," I reason.

"Why grow up too fast?"

Magic 8-Ball says: "My Sources say no."  

And as these things go ... on a crisp, fall day ...  months after pretending to enjoy the twice-daily walks to and from the park, trailing behind her brother, who was careening down the sidewalk on his training bike as her bike leaned unused in the carport ... she popped the question:

"Will you take my training wheels off? I want to try riding the bike for real."

And within a few tries, she was off and riding.

Wobbly but balanced.

Mission accomplished.

Magic 8-Ball says: "It is decidely so."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Light and dark

Last week, on this day, I learned that a very dear friend had died. Unexpectedly.

I haven't been able to organize my thoughts about his loss. They are still scattered and obscured by disbelief.

But I feel so fortunate to have known him. So fortunate that he called me a friend. And so incredibly confused that every time I think of him -- not of his loss but of him -- I smile.

His wit. His complexity. His joy. His optimism. Even his sarcasm that was devoid of snark. All these and more are gifts he generously bestowed on friends. He made me understand how it's possible for someone to give you so much that it lifts you up instead of weighs you down.

And how leaving all of that behind is just unthinkable. 

There is no "moving on" from a person like him. 

No. Robert is someone you take along as you go forward.

Monday, October 08, 2012


logo instagrammed

"This is a very good scone. Where'd you get it?"

"Ahhhh ... a bakery."

"What bakery?"

"Ahhhh ... Starbucks."


"Starbucks isn't a bakery. ... It's a coffee shop. ... Like McDonald's."

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Pardon me ...


One hundred seventy five years of presidential history ... and a ringtone.

Monday, October 01, 2012

There's a reason Canada is at the top of North America


Annnnnnd it's not just geography.

Canada -- and countless other nations -- have a little bit of wonderful called Kinder Surprise, a huge (and I can't stress this enough - HUGE) plastic capsule containing a toy surprise (often parts and assembly instructions), which is then encased in a delicious, albeit thin, milk chocolate egg shell.

When the toy is assembled it might be a dinosaur with a waggly tail, a robot, a fist-sized spinning top, or even a hard plastic glider.

There are endless possibilities.

But the United States won't allow Kinder Surprise because of a 1938 law prohibiting the sale of candy with an embedded toy or trinket. In fact, the FDA recently re-issued its import alert on these delights because "non-nutritive objects in confectionary products pose a risk of choking."

To be sure, the law means well. People probably shouldn't bake small toys into candies, cakes and cookies without some kind of containing device that is too big to be ingested.

But if I were a kid today, I'd sharpen my pencil and write my representative to have this stupid law changed.

I'd much rather have easier access to toys and chocolate than guns and bullets.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Everyone's a critic

Needs a little more Wah for his Wah-Wah. #boys

He may have a little too much wah in his wah-wah.

But you didn't hear it from me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I learned in one hour ...

in my new role as a soccer mom ....

Kindergarteners follow each other around like a flock of geese ...

totally in his element

Even when the ball is nowhere in sight.

Third graders, on the other hand, look more like the Maytag Repairman.


Especially when they're in the goalie position.

Yet win ...


or lose ...


Everyone gets a pretty good feeling just playing the game.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Box boy

Box boy

Some toys you never outgrow.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Simple math

raspberryhatbw  icecreamgrimbw

8 + 5 = 10 p.m. Bedtime