Monday, December 31, 2007

huh. really? ok.

Today, Yaya my youngest, said this:
You can kiss me if you want to because I am your favorite. Remember?
You can kiss me, but I don't want you to hug me.
That would not be so good.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

duck: not a new year's resolution

OK, I've just check my "coolness factor" - I dipped the stick into the well, and came out severely deficient.
Dried up.

Could it be the hours and hours, weeks upon weeks of children's music and videos - that ridiculous Elmo or Max & Ruby?
Could it be the endless diet of Mac & Cheese and all things bland and tasteless?
Could it be that I am becoming that elementary teacher that I so seriously have been trying to avoid - you know, the one who wears outfits that match the seasons?
Could it be that I have no grasp on pop culture as I don't see a movie until it's out in video?
Could it be that the hippest clothing I own somehow ends up with graham cracker smudges?

Yes. It could. It could be all of these things and more.


I used to be a passionate artist type: a singer/actor/writer.
I was opinionated and bossy and driven and articulate.
I was a risk taker.
I was a flirt.

Now, I'm not so sure I want to hop in the suburban gold mini-van to drive downtown in a little bitty snow storm. You just never know what might happen... I'll send Daddyman. He'll drive into that den of danger and he'll. come. back. Our hero.


I am losing my grip on what's real and what's ridiculous. We have the turtle from the science room staying with us for the holidays. Yesterday, I called the turtle a DUCK. And I thought that was the right word. It was like the time I put the milk in the cupboard... Soon, I will be writing an incoherent blog from the mildly pleasant sun room of a home for the demented and infirm... When that happens, please, keep reading this blog. It might actually get interesting.

I used to talk about world issues and religion and politics and history and the future. Now, I talk about the merits of all-natural laundry detergents and organic grocery stores and school break.

I feel like the authentic, artistic me has been not-so-carefully wrapped in plastic and chucked down the back stairs, waiting for that time in life when someone has died and the poor widow/children/neighbors are cleaning out all of the crap - "can you believe how much stuff is in her basement? I am never going to let that happen to me!"

The tragedy? I am waiting for someone else to help me escape the sticky cling of this Saran-Wrap life that I've been making for myself.

When did I become a wait-er? I used to be a do-er! SHIT!

Why is it that everyone I know is content to sit and drink - coffee, beer, wine - and watch? I want to do. I want my kids to do.

I want to make chaos and be happy in it!

It's going to take more than learning to knit or joining a book club. I am seriously deprived of all things creative and wonderful. It's going to take more that season tickets to the opera or ballet or the theater. I need to DO not watch.

I know, I know. Start the game and others will join in. I just am too damned tired from cleaning up after the DUCK to be a flippin' cheerleader so others will think what I am doing is valid and then all of the cool kids will jump at the chance to come and play with me, thereby increasing my coolness factor.

I may be destined to become old and boring.
Not fat, though.
That's not going to happen.
I am going to become really thin in my old age.
A girl has to look forward to something in retirement.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

tampopo and qwirkle

Had a wonderful lunch out with my friend, Mama Byrd. (She's recently had her third baby.) We're both feeling a need to connect with good friends, so we've begun a monthly lunch outing - no kids & no husbands. It's fabulous! Ok, so this is our second month...
I adore Mrs. Byrd, and I feel so at ease in her presence. She is so positive and supportive. I love spending time with her. She laughs easily, and has a heart the size of Texas. I always feel so cared for and cared about when I am with her.
This month took us to the Tampopo Noodle Shop in the warehouse district of Downtown St. Paul - it's just around the corner from the Farmers Market. Yum yum yummy food. Perfect for a gray, snowy day like today. My favorite was the Edamame and the Miso soup. Such simple things, but so easy to take for granted and thus, neglect. The Miso soup had a rich goodness... We each had a sampling of good things, a beer and shared a chocolate pot of creme. (Not so good...) Then, we did a little shopping and bought perfume. Totally girlie afternoon and I LOVED it!

Tonight, after dinner, the Littles and I played an assortment of games: Qwirkle ( a cross between dominoes and Set), Shut the Box, and Colorforms (Anyone remember these?) Qwirkle is great! It moves fast, doesn't require reading - so anyone can play. And there really isn't a winner, from what I can ascertain. Lots of colored tiles to lay out in pretty designs. It's tricky to describe, but if you've ever played Set and Dominoes, then you've got the general idea.
Shut the Box is actually a bar game (that's what the box says. C'est la vie.) Each player takes a turn rolling the pair of dice and turning over the corresponding numbers. The object of the game is to turn over more numbers than your opponent - literally Shutting the Box. It's a good game for learning math facts for the Littles - there are lots of numbers that add up to 12, or 8, or 11.
Colorforms isn't really a game, but all about art and design. We made it a game by telling stories about the pictures that we had created. Again, no winner, but great stories. Lots of laughing, and a tiny bit of jealous grumping.

Yaya loved the Colorforms - she'll be a graphic designer, no doubt.

Via loves Quirkle, and Noni loves Shut the Box. I love the stories and the quiet, silly chatter that happens at a table full of busy little girls.
All are tucked into their beds with an American Girl or such...
Hope your house is full of happy chaos and laughter tonight.

a sneak peek

We've been working hard. Just thought I'd give you all a quick up date on what we did this day - Saturday!
Now, back to figuring out how to make a kitchen counter out of balsa wood. Hmmm.

Friday, December 28, 2007

this (little) old house

This is my current project.

When we lived in the Mac-Groveland neighborhood of St.Paul, we had the most wonderful neighbors. One in particular man stands out in my mind. Ernest Runyan. Tut was his nickname. When we moved into that neighborhood almost a dozen years ago, Tut was in his late 70's or early 80's, but you'd never know it. He worked out everyday and did 100 push-ups morning and evening. He was a solid ex-marine who had a joke and a smile for anyone who would stop and talk.
We called him the Mayor of the Neighborhood or the Governor of the Boulevard. He'd lived in the same little house since WW2. I remember him telling us that his mortgage was an astounding $70 per month, but he and his wife, Vi, had payed a little extra each month so that they could get out from under the debt. Imagine! $70.00 a month.
Tut sort of took care of everyone in the neighborhood. He was the enforcer of good manners efficient yard care("Chemicals kills that stuff every time! C'mon, I've got something in my garage that'll take care of creeping charlie.") Every young family could point to something in their homes that Tut had helped them fix. It wasn't always done correctly - or esthetically (lots of duct tape and 2" bolts) - but it was done with such a good heart that no one had the desire to ever change it.
Before Tut's wife was moved to an assisted living facility - dementia - Tut and Vi used to sit in their aluminum & webbing lawn chairs on their front porch and survey the goings on. The children were noisy and there was usually a pick-up game of touch football happening in the street... The stuff that great city neighborhoods are made of.
We'd all come outside after dinner in the summertime. Those of us with young babies were anxious to see adults, and those of us with grown children were eager to be part of the familial chaos once again. We'd talk and laugh and share a beer or two before heading inside for baths and bedtime.
One late summers evening, Tut beckoned me to join him in his garage. I followed obediently. There it was - the doll house. He told me that he'd made it for one of his daughters. He'd forgotten that it was in the attic. Did I think that my little girl would like to have it?

Via played with Tut's doll house the whole summer. It was on our front porch. I have the most delicious memories of her little body half way into the house, contentedly playing with her people as the warm breeze blew across the porch and the sun light changed as the leaves on the big oak shifted in the wind.

Via played with that doll house for two years.
Then Noni played with it.
Yaya played with it last summer, but it was pretty beaten up.

This year, Santa brought all of the girls a collection of Calico Critters - more little things with even smaller accessories. The Calico Critters came with the promise of a remodeled house.
So, Daddyman and I are up to our elbows in paint and epoxy and balsa wood. We're fixing and updating... we're upping the curb appeal.

Two winters ago, we buried Tut. I know that Tut would be thrilled that my girls are still using the doll house that he'd made for his girls. I hope that the restoration that we are doing will help the doll house last for a very long time. I hope that our girls will pass it on to their children.

(I'll share the make-over photos when the house is done. Keep checking!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

which is better...

the super yummy Christmas cookie baked with dear friends, or the fabulous new camera that can take a gorgeous photo of the yummy Christmas Cookie and making it look even better?

amazing peace: a christmas poem

By Dr. Maya Angelou

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

proof of santa

Proof that Santa does exist.
After creating an elaborately rigged photographic trigger - determined to capture on film the arrival of Santa at the Bungalogan, the Lovely Logan Family snuggled in for a long winter's nap. Not known for sharing their emotions with just anyone, the normally wooden Swedes show true surprise at the arrival of The Old Elf as he appears to enter the Bungalogan abode, thus tripping the trigger on the camera. The camera lens was apparently swiveled by the trusty family dog, Shadow, as he discovered a plate of well decorated sugar cookies and a glass of cold milk. It is uncertain at this time if Shadow or Santa ate said cookies. The empty cookie plate was discovered under the table and the glass was never found.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

fa la la la la la me meme

This is a meme for you! I regifted this lovely little treasure from Say La Vie, who regifted it from Joke and Poppy. It's a recycled Christmas.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I have dreams of using hand stamped, home made papers. I purchase them from the artists that make them, or save little snippets from my children's art work to use as cards and then I blow it. I shop way too late - panic shopping is truly an art that I have mastered. Then I delicately shove my well thought out panic gift into a grocery store gift bag. But still, in my mind, it's a lovely little package in hand stamped paper with intricate and delicate doo dads adorning the top. A girl can dream...

2. Real tree or artificial?
Totally fake. fake. fake. fake. Fake-A-Roo!
P-L-A-S-T-I-C. A poky little fellow that is an unearthly shade of green.
We call it our eco-friendly reusable tree.
We like to lie to ourselves.
We'd really like to go on the adventure of hunting a tree, but - like wrapping paper - we start the project far too late to be romantic or fun. Tree hunting is stressful and angry. Now we have a faux taunenbaum that we dust off and balance in the corner of the living room. Ahhh.

3. When do you put up the tree?
Let's see, what is the date today? Yep, we're late.
Again with the lies: "It's our reaction to the over commercialization of Christmas." We (LIE) wait until it is a little closer to the actual date so we are all (LIE LIE LIE) in the "spirit of the day."

4. When do you take the tree down?
People take the thing down?

5. Do you like eggnog?
You bet! Load it up with bourbon and I'll drink anything! Especially if it will help me survive the the L-o-n-g evening with family. I'll have two. Make them doubles!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

I don't really remember anything that I got as a child. Except the one that I looked at before it was wrapped. It was a silver-ish necklace with a kid etched into it, I think. I just remember how I felt when I looked. I was mortified. I didn't even like the necklace. But I sure pretended to LOVE it. I think my acting skills really came in handy on that particular festive night - right, mom?
OK the other gift I remember was the Barbie Make-up Head. I pulled the head off the pink plastic base as I tried to free her from her styrofoam constraints. From that moment on, her head was attached to the neck with silver duct tape. She'd occasionally tilt to the left - poor sad, depressed Make-up Head Barbie. When she'd reach this point, we'd send her to a hotel by herself for a couple of nights. She'd soak in the hot tub and drink wine and watch TV ALL BY HERSELF. This seemed to perk Make-up Head Barbie right up. For awhile. It really is a vicious cycle...
I seem to only remember the bad and not the good. I guess all of those years in therapy didn't really take.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
But of course. It is of Swedish design. Very sparse.
This year, the Littles have been bringing their Polly Pockets to the manger for a visit. Bus tour is probably the best description. The Pollys come in large groups and buy the quilts and take pictures of the baby and talk about the shepherds in hushed voices. Of course, the Swedish Mary and Joseph pretend not to notice. They smile and nod, smile and nod. Nice couple, those two. But the Kings, well, they're not from around here. They are not happy with the Polly Tours. They are going to have a word or two with the Tour Guide, Mrs. Potato Head, the next time the bus shows up.

8. Hardest person to buy for?

Daddyman. He always SAYS that he likes his gifts, but he doesn't. Not really. They are all in a drawer in the bottom of his closet... just waiting to be regifted in a moment of paniced "Oh-My-Gosh! I forgot a hostess gift! What are we going to do?." Then, he will be prepared. He'll pull out the hand-carved, oak nose trimmer and offer it up as the answers to the Hostess Gift Prayer.

9. Easiest person to buy for?

Oma - my mom. We either have similar taste, or she just wears what I buy her because I am her daughter. You know, she never wore what I made for her as a little girl. Perhaps she is just making up for lost time?

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
A flannel night gown from my mom and dad as a preteen. Lovely, L.L. Bean flannel from the chin to the floor edelweiss printed flannel night gown. God, I wish I still had that night gown. I am so cold.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?

"Happy Valentines Day from the Logan Clan."

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
Rudolph and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I really don't like any of the Charlie Brown themed specials. Daddyman loves them. I think they are depressing and dull. Could this signal something deeper that is wrong with our relationship? Love love love that theatric feat of magic - Eloise at Christmas, mostly because my kids love it. Really happy when I watch It's a Wonderful Life. In fact, we bought our house because it has a wonky banister thingy at the bottom, just like in the movie. We're such suckers. OK, that's not the only reason, but it was the romantic reason. I don't think the bank would have given us a loan based on a wonky banister thingy. Actually, I'm not sure why the bank gave us a loan. I'd better quite talking about it right now. It's going to jinx something. Weren't we talking about movies...?

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

See Question #1

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

See question #8.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
What's not to like? I'm telling you, after a couple of bourbon-eggnogs, everything is yum-yum-yummy!
My family is of Norwegian descent. For those of you to whom that means absolutely nothing, here's the deal: Lefse (think potato tortilla), Lutefisk (white fish soaked in lye until it become gelatinous. Yes. Lye is poisonous. Apparently, Norwegians are impervious.) Boiled potatoes, meat balls with a creamed gravy... are you sensing the theme yet? The food is all white. White and bland. That is the food of my people. Do I like it? Sure. Do I eat it? Mostly? Will I cook it for my children someday? You betcha. What's one meal? That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
I wanted white. Daddyman wanted colored. We compromised and put up colored. He's got to win at least one fight per year. Besides, it's Christmas and I am a giving person.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
My dad is a composer, and he writes a lot of things for Christmas - I love his stuff! Good memories of him writing while I was falling asleep at night. His studio was directly below my bedroom in my childhood home. I also love Lo, How A Rose. I like most Christmas music - I also really like Trailer Trash's Rockabilly Christmas Album

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
We used to drive 12 hours across the frozen North Dakota prairie to be with my mom's parents when I was a kid. I loved it. Now we stay home. I love it even more.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?
I can, but their all made up. I think this batch came from the suburbs: There's Randall and Thomas and Donald and Dixie, Carol and Esther and Vickie and Pudence, Omar and Ismail and DeAnte and Eugene and the most famous reindeer of all? Bruno, the wet nosed reindeer.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Star. Again, per Daddyman's request. (For those of you keeping score... like me, that's two for Daddyman, love and charity and giving gracefully many many times for moi. I'm just waitin' for the Kharma to catch up.)

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Who opens them on Christmas eve? I'm still shopping. They're lucky to be tucked neatly into their little gift bags before dawn.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?

My husband constantly admonishing me about stretching the truth on my blog.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
Every last stinkin' over-stressed, over-planned, over-bourboned, over-caroled moment of it. And I'd do it again next year. Wanna come over to my house?

Monday, December 17, 2007

and breathe...

So. I've been a little busy lately. Tired and blissfully busy. The two biggest Littles and I did a production of The Christmas Carol with the Actors Theater of Minnesota- The Christmas Carol Feast - it's my 11th year, Via's 4th year and Noni's 2nd year. They're old pros.

We did several performances of The Christmas Carol Feast at a smoky Casino (does anyone else see the irony?)...
We saw Santa and our dear friend, Albert the Elf and had a fancy lunch...
We played in the snow...
I was observed by my principal...
The girls sang in the Christmas program at church. They were lovely, the "Christmas Program," not so much...
Via played a piano recital brilliantly...
Via played her cello on stage with the Minnesota Orchestra for two sold out performances...
I've been working on some script ideas for a project with my brother, Uber Uncle...
We've celebrate birthdays...
We've shared a wonderful, annual Christmas dinner with good friends at a great restaurant in an old Victorian mansion that is thought to be haunted...
We've gone Christmas Caroling. Outside. In December. For cash...

I'm too tired to write more now, but please know that I am thinking of all of you and miss you tons - I'll catch you up soon. In the mean time, here are some pics to give you a peak into what we've been up to.

Yaya just gets prettier and prettier. Here, she is wearing a fabulous cashmere cap that was crocheted by my friend, Hillary. I love the hat, but can hardly keep it off my girl's head!

Here are the Littles, waiting for Santa and our friend, Albert the Elf. They got all fancied up for the event. We even had a lovely "fancy" lunch to cap off the whole Santa event. The best part? Santa didn't ask any of them what they wanted for Christmas!

Here is the man we've begun to fondly refer to as Red Papa. He and Oma came to see The Christmas Carol Feast. They were joined by Auntie Tata and Daddyman. They loved the Littles, and of course thought I did OK. (I performed both as Mrs. Fezziwig and Mrs. Crachit.) The Littles were on cloud nine that they had "fans." Papa and Oma are going to take the two Biggest Littles to see The Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. It's very good. Just different... like, oh, no food.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

sister winter winks

Daddyman has the big girls and the dog outside on the sled. It is snowing. Again.

But this time, it's that big, fluffy, theater snow - you know. The kind that you can see from the back row. The kind that some poor sap has to sweep up after the finale so he can dump it back into the drum so that it can fall again for the next performance.

It is as sultry and sensual as a snow fall can be. It is big and round as it lays itself heavily across the earth. It hides a multitude of secrets beneath the voluptuous white blanket that is laid across the lawn. It's gentle shoulder bends around the tree trunk and caresses the street lamp and teases the tufts of ornamental grasses that are still bristling through the drift, embarrassed to be lingering so long in such an unsavory locale. This seductive snow makes the false promise of fun and pleasure with a wink and a flutter, but she only gives a dangerous ride down the lane.

Hang on! Here comes Sister Winter. We'd better buckle up - we're in for a wild ride!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

that happy shiny weather guy

OK, it has happened. What of it?
"So?" I ask with the attitude of a sulky, sullen teenager. There will be no polls or pithy queries about this one, for I am merely despondent and disenchanted... my heart yearns for the certitude of those facts espoused by such as should know better.
What, you ask, has stirred such a blase' attitude in this writer? And for goodness sake, who does she think gave her the authority to sling such big, misspelled words about with so little passion or regard for accuracy? I will tell you.


For the past 3 days, the charming and attractive weather guys and gals on all of the local news stations have been talking about the Amazing Snow that we are going to experience together in the Great Northern state of Minnesota - like a big frozen love-in. "It's coming! And it's coming this Saturday. Now, we can't really predict when and how much, but we think that we are looking at 6 to 8 inches of that gorgeous, fluffy, white stuff." Even that big, round, chocolate lump of love on The Today Show chimed in with his big toothy grin - "It's gonna be a big one for the folks in that neck of the woods."

Like the flibertyjibit that I truly am, I believed them. I looked into the eyes of these well style weather professionals, and I trusted what they said to be the truth. I locked onto the words "gorgeous and fluffy" and stayed there, blissful in the promise of a Hallmark weekend.

And then, like a child awaiting Christmas, I counted the days.

Thursday - no snow. But that's OK. The cute guy in front of the blue screen on Chanel Five said it was coming. So I took a deep breath and continued my vigil.

Friday - no snow. I checked the calendar. Of course there wouldn't be any snow today. That sassy Belinda at Chanel 11 said "Saturday." I drank a glass of wine to help calm the nervous anticipation.

Lots of gorgeous, fluffy white stuff means plows and salt and slow driving and digging out and...
sledding and snow forts and hot chocolate and laughing and skating at the Depot and...
sore backs and bad driving and shoveling the side walk and salting the side walk and boots and mittens and...
cute new boots and hand made mittens and...

You can clearly understand why a glass of Marietta Old Vine Red was consumed for purely medicinal reasons. The second glass, well, that was for fun!

So today is Saturday.

Like a child looking for Santa, I hopped out of bed full of anticipation and curiosity. Today is the day. Today is the day. I struggled to wrap myself in my red knit robe while shoving my ice cold feet into my warm, woolly slippers. I hop/scuffled to the window, threw back the heavy, room darkening velvet curtain sending up a swirl of dust and dog hair and I gazed my first upon a field of Saturday's Promised...


Wait one stinking minute! This is not what those good looking, well groomed people had promised me. This is not "gorgeous" nor is it "fluffy." This is a hard, driving ice/snow. It tings against the glass of my original-to-the-house glass windows (Translation: these old panes could be shattered under the battery of relentless ice pellets) Those big, fat liars - weather guys are cute, but they can't be trusted. I'd learned my lesson.

Swathed in disappointment, I slunk back to bed. I didn't bother to remove my robe or slippers, I just shoved my wool wrapped body back into the flannel sheets of warmth and disbelief. I quickly became entangled in competing fabrics, so I stayed there another hour or so, until one of The Littles flung herself on top of me, bouncing out her excitement in a sort of toddler morse code - It's snowing! It's snowing! Dot dot dash! Dot dot dash!

Luckily, her bouncing released the flannel from the wool and set me free. After a quick trip to the window with the littlest Little, I realized her joy and together we bounced on the Daddyman. Dot dot dash! It's snowing! Dot dot dash.

"Let's get the sleds out."
"Can I have hot cocoa for breakfast?"
"Is it snowing on the other side of the house, too?"
"What time IS it?"

So, it is snowing. It's neither gorgeous nor fluffy, but it is "That white stuff" and that has to count for something. The weather folks get a B- for todays weather. Perhaps we'll venture out into this truly blinding ice/snow storm to play some winter games. Or, if mama gets her way, we'll gather 'round the family table and play board games whilst sipping tepid cocoa. Then we'll play that age old family favorite called "Let's put shrinking plastic up on the rest of the original-to-the-house-windows to baffle the wind and muffle the dangerous sound of ice hitting glass" game.

I hope that where ever you are you are warm and happy and surrounded by the people that you love and who love you back... and that your flannel doesn't grab your wool.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

this is where it begins.

Well, it has happened.
My little girl, my first born daughter is officially growing up.
And I am officially not prepared.

No, she has not gone boy crazy.
No she is not insisting on wearing cleavage bearing, butt sharing "clothing."
No, she has not begged to wear make-up, own a cell phone, have co-ed parties, drink beer or smoke pot.

No, my sweet, innocent 8 1/2 year old daughter is getting her period.

I'll give you a minute to let that sink in...

(Do you really need to ask how I know?)

You bet your sweet potato that I freaked out. I cried. I laughed like a crazed monkey. Then, I got on line and checked every source that I could think of.

Here's what I learned: most girls are getting their first period between the ages of 10 and 12 years old, and some as early as 7 years old or as late as 14 or 15 years old. Most sources think that the earlier onset of menses is due to the stress that more and more little girls are under today. When I asked Via's 3rd grade teacher if she was seeing this in school, she said that by the time the year ended last year, 5 girls had gotten their periods. That means five 8 and 9 year old girls had seriously started to become women.

Well, after the initial shock wore off, Via and I had a long talk - I explained as much as I thought an 8 year old would understand. I showed her the pictures from the human anatomy books so that she could get an idea of what her insides look like, and begin to understand why she had cramps. We went to the drugstore and bought pads. We bought some Jr. Motrin (She's not old enough for regular Motrin, but she is old enough to get her period. Huh.)
Then, we planned a date to get together with all of her special women and celebrate this right of passage.

So, now I need some help/thoughts/advice.

(As a girl, I remember getting my period and asking my mom what to do. She basically said, "figure it out." and walked the other way. I don't have the experience to know the best way to handle this, so I hope that you all have some ideas.)

When did you start your period? Do you remember-emotionally-how you felt? Did your mom step up the the plate and help you figure everything out? Did you help your own daughters? How much advice is to much to give to your daughter? A 8 year old? Anyone have thoughts on how to celebrate this milestone? I have heard that American Girl publishes a great book on the subject - anyone read it? Anyone know of any other good resources to help me? Via? our family?

I didn't think that this was a road that we would go down for several more years, but here we go. I just want to make the trip a good one. I don't want Via to feel embarrassed or ashamed in any way. This is such a wonderful change in her life - and I do mean 'wonderful.' She is on her way to becoming a woman, and I want to her to value her body and her self as much as she can.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

crazy wonderful

Today, like so many people in our country, I gathered with my extended family - both blood relatives and chosen family - to celebrate Thanksgiving.

As we stood together before our meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said. We took a moment to go around this multi-generational circle and share what we were thankful for this year. Health, friends, the return of children from Iraq, good food, laughter and forgiveness. All of those things were mentioned in our circle today.

Then, all together, we sang grace - our voices blending from years of singing the same grace together. Even my youngest child knows the words and the notes and can probably sing it in her sleep. There are always lots of interesting harmonies and improvised, competitive "Amens" at the end. I love it, and I couldn't imagine a family meal without this grace...

And as I looked around the room (from my vantage point at the CHILDREN'S TABLE!), I thought how thankful I am for this life I live.

I have parents who are healthy. They are friends and mentors to me now. They encourage me and laugh with me and play Christmas carols on the piano with me and, occasionally, scold me. They love my children and my husband. They celebrate our successes and mourn our pain. They are here for the littlest, most seemingly mundane moments of our lives. I am so very thankful.

I have cousins and aunties and uncles whom I adore. I can't remember a time in my life with out them. Their constant, unconditional love is beyond amazing. And, on top of all of that - I like them. They are smart and funny. My Uncle is a terrific cook, and has a wicked laugh when he shares a great joke. My Auntie is such a caring soul, and yet, isn't the slightest bit afraid to tell it as she sees it. My cousin - the only other girl cousin in the batch - is unbelievable awesome - smart and compassionate and good humored and brave. The best thing about all of them is that they love to laugh and talk about serious world issues and then laugh some more. They all seem to know how lucky we all are and how wonderful this world is. I am thankful that I was born into this crazy good family.

I have chosen family that I adore. There is a reason that they were chosen - they fit. And they bring a whole new look at life into this crazy group of people - my uncle's family, my mom's fourteenth cousins twice removed, the people that make the holiday so special.

I have children and a husband who, despite my best efforts, love me and need me. They smile when they see me. They kiss me goodnight at the end of the day. They leap into my arms when I return home from work - well the children leap, Daddyman just sort of collapses.

We don't have banquets, but we have more than enough food on our table. We don't have the fanciest, latest fashions, but we have all of the clothing we need to keep us warm. We don't live in splendor, but we have a comfortable home to shelter us from the elements. We have what we need and some of what we want. Most importantly, we have the love and respect of those around us.

I am so very thankful to be a part of this crazy wonderful world.
I wouldn't change a single thing about it, today. I'd like to hold onto this warm feeling forever, capture the moment for tomorrow when I feel lonely or forgotten.

And so, I wish for all of you, peace and a sense of belonging in your lives. I wish for you joy and laughter. I wish for you music and improvised "Amens." I wish for you happiness. And most of all, I wish this for you: That you have the time to look around at where you are and know that this world is a wonderful place because you are in it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

getting slightly stale and setting up

Sunday: What am I thankful for today? My husband's french toast.
It was the very first meal that he made for me when we were dating.
It is our go-to meal in a hurry.
It is the best comfort food ever.
The kids love it.

Today after church, Daddyman dropped us off at home before he ran to the grocery store to pick up some staples and the fixin's for this morning's meal. The littles "quickly" changed out of church clothes and into play clothes, then Daddyman returned and got crackin'.

The whole French Toast Process apparently involves a certain amount of wait time. The bread has to "get slightly stale." (Is that possible in 10-20 minutes?) Then, the egg batter has to "set up."
He throws those words around like a real chef. All it really means is this:

Getting Slightly Stale
Yes, I know this sounds like my biological clock. It's not. Nor is it the time it takes me to fall asleep after a couple of beers. This refers to the time it takes for Daddyman to put on lounging clothes and return to the kitchen.
The real time version of Getting Slightly Stale goes like this:
Daddyman takes the cheap brown bread out of it's plastic bag and slaps it on the cutting board, fanning the slices apart slightly. This both allows the air to circulate around each flimsy slice AND give the illusion that he actually bought a great loaf of bread that he has sliced himself.

Setting up
Yep. I know that it sounds like a sports term or perhaps what happens when one is getting ready for a blind date. No. This refers to the time it takes for Daddyman to go to the bathroom. This time is variable. Naturally.
The real time version of Setting Up goes like this:
Daddyman, now in comfortable clothes, realizes that
1.) his bladder has been loosened from the grip that his belt held.
2.) No one is actually in the bathroom (a rarity in a house of all girls.), and
3.) He just bought the Sunday paper, and he'd rather read it all before anyone else in his family pulls it apart, section by section, with sticky fingers.
And away he goes! Again, I say - the time it takes for Daddyman's French Toast to Set Up is variable and may depend more on the amount of beer consumed the night before than the amount of time the egg needs to combine with the milk and cinnamon.

Please know this. I am not complaining. Remember, I am thankful for Daddyman's French Toast. I am only mock him slightly - after all, I know a good thing when I see it. That, and it's the only meal that either one of us makes that the Littles are certain to eat.

And so, today I am thankful for Daddyman's French Toast.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

standard princess features

I am thankful that Yaya has found a new love - the pretty princess dress.
Ah, now simmer down there, ladies. Read on before you judge. This is not about creating the perfect little lady...

There isn't one favorite princess dress yet, but it must have a few standard princess features:
A bow that ties in the back.
A puffy skirt, preferably floor length.
Shiny fabric.

It doesn't matter if this dress is clean. It doesn't matter if it is a hand-me-down. What does matter is this: It must fit over whatever outfit Yaya is wearing at the time. (ie, pajamas, tights and a turtleneck, swimming suit, puffer coat...)

Given the chance, Yaya will add onto this gorgeous outfit with a pair of sparkly shoes as well as lots and lots of make-up. She loves to decorate her body and face with color. It's not a girly thing, it's a color thing.

Last night, Yaya climbed into the bottom bunk of the bed that she shares with Noni. She was wearing her zip-up, fuzzy, footed pajamas. Over which she wore, an amethist satin and black velvet holiday dress complete with beaded cumberbun/sash. On her tiny toddler feet, she crammed her silver sparkly shoes - over the footed jammies. She wore her hair piled high on her head, with several silver clips randomly squashed in her hair. She had applied a fresh coat of make-up - purple powder on her lips, glittery lip gloss on her cheeks and eyes and bright blue powder accenting her delicate eyebrows. As she fell asleep, I gazed over at her sweaty little self and fell in love all over again.

This morning, she refused to change clothes. She is child #3, and I have learned to pick my battles. This is not a fight I choose, so she is still wearing this whole ensemble... through playdough and oatmeal and applesauce and peter honey. Her clips are matted and her purple powdered lips are sticky and she is gorgeous!

I am thankful that my Yaya has not been met with the disdainful look that causes her self-doubt. I am thankful that she feels beautiful all on her own, she does not rely on the comments or approving looks of others. I am thankful that she boldly goes out into this world wearing something that she loves and feels so good in that she simply has to dance. And I am thankful to be able to dance that happy dance with her.

Yaya and mommy with beautiful lavender lips.

This is what Yaya thinks is appropriate travel attire. I understand it, somehow.

a month of thankfulness

November seems to be the month to write. A lot.
I could never keep up. I wish that I could. I applaud those of you who do.
Instead, I have given myself the challenge of writing about the things that I am thankful for.

It seems that life these days is filled up with more and faster and gimme gimme gimme and I want and it's not my fault and they started it - both at home and in the world at large...
To combat some of this, our family has started a tradition at dinner time of sharing
something about the day, and sharing something that we are thankful for. Usually, it's just the common things that we are thankful for: a lunch packed for school by dad who puts in a note. Or the beans that I don't have to eat because mom said I only have to eat as many beans as I am years old. I can get 5 in one bite!

Sometimes, it's a little more profound:
I am thankful for my sister who read Pinkalicious to me when I asked her to.
I am thankful for Coco and Zoe.
I am thankful for laughing.
I am thankful that my family loves me even when I shout. Alot.

So, what are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's my birthday!

It's my birthday! And I am doing a happy dance. I am off from school for 2 whole weeks - do I need to explain the sheer joy I feel in that simple thing along? My husband has planned a party for tonight - I think. I'm pretty certain. We're doing something. He won't tell me what it is. All of my friends have dropped off the face of the earth or are acting particularly odd. As long as it involves a martini, it's all good.
Then, after a night of wild behavior - which of course I will share with all of you. I have no shame - I am packing a suitcase for everyone in my family (because, apparently, only moms know how to pack suitcases), we're loadin' up the family vacation truckster and headin' off the the Wisconsin Dells. In November. A vacation destination for sunny midwestern summers. Lots of out door water parks and not much else. It's going to be very very quiet!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

guilt shmilt

I am sick and tired of feeling guilty.
About what? you ask.
Well, about everything.

It's pathetic. Really.

OK, fine. I'll list them for you, if you insist.

I am tired of feeling guilty about eating that last chocolate chip cookie. You know. The one I'd promised to save for Noni. The one that I will look into her little blue eyes and tell a bold faced lie to - Huh. No, honey, I guess that I don't know what cookie you are talking about. Maybe, your dad ate it...? - The cookie that I ate after 9:00 PM. After I'd already brushed my teeth. After I'd let the dog out and after told Daddyman that I was going up to bed because, Oh, I am so tired... The cookie that I was certain that he'd eat if I didn't get to it first. So, I got there first. And I ate it. In two bites.
Yea. That cookie.

I am tired of feeling guilty about not raking the leaves off of my lawn. I know that the leaves will give my grass some strange mold. I know that my neighbors think it looks trashy. I know that next spring it's going to be impossible to have a nice looking yard - but, heck, I've already got 3 kids and a dog who poops everywhere. The dog. Not the kids. That I know of - why should I even bother trying? So what if the kids would love to jump into the pile so mommy can rake them up again so they can jump in it again so mommy has to rake them up AGAIN. I don't really care. I call it yard art. Get used to it.

I am tired of feeling guilty for telling my girls to keep their rooms tidy, when all I've done is shove every piece of clothing I've ever owned into my closet and then wedged the door closed. You know, the 18 black sweaters that look exactly the same to Daddyman - How could you possibly need another black sweater? Don't you already have like, 20? - No. More like 18. But I can't seem to find one right now. So what if they are in a jumble in the bottom of the closet under the muddy boots that I wore to the pony ranch last weekend Yes, the same closet that I finally had to put a curtain on in place of a solid door because I couldn't lock the avalanche of black sweaters inside! Yes, the same mountain of clothes that the dog and cat sleep on. At the same time. Yes, I know that they hate each other. They can't even find each other once they've entered my closet. Yes, the same closet that the girls quit playing in because they'd get hurt falling over the 24 pairs of black shoes that never found their way into the boxes on the shelves again. I still think that the girls should keep their rooms tidy. It will help when they grow up and have to keep their own homes tidy (HAHAHAHAHA - what a stupid 'girl' thing to say. I promise, I would say the same thing if I had a son.) Can't you see what keeping my childhood bedroom neat and tidy has done for me as an adult?

I'm tired of feeling guilty about putting the milk in the cupboard. Instead of the fridge. Several times. I've obviously got other things to think about. Like all of these feelings of guilt.

I'm tire of feeling guilty about not taking my dog for a walk. Ever. Yes, the dog who looks at me with big, dopey eyes. The same dog that sleeps on my bed every night. Actually, he doesn't sleep as much as snore himself awake over and over and over again. That's how I know that he needs to go for a daily walk. He has sleep Apnea. How do I know that? you ask. Because he's fat. Because I don't take him for a walk. Because I don't own a pair of sneakers and thus, I am fat, too. So just one more thing to feel guilty about. I could just get the poor fat dog a Breathe Right Strip, but I don't think they come in Black Lab. I know they come in clear petite. It's the only think petite on me and I don't mind bragging. I use them every night. Did I mention I need to buy sneakers. But I can't just go out and buy myself a pair of sneakers because I feel the weight of so much guilt resting on my poor, tired shoulders that I can't hoist my big, fat ass off the couch to go an buy myself a pair of sneakers because who can justify $150 bucks on a pair of shoes just to walk the dog when I have 3 little kids who need to eat and I, obviously, need another black sweater to try to camouflage my fat ass.

Oh crap.

All of this guilt. I'm going to go hunt for another chocolate chip cookie.

Don't tell anyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

a complete guide to singin' the blues

My Dad sent this to me. Maybe you've seen it. Maybe not. Made me laugh out loud. Thought I'd share it with you. Hope you like it, too.


1. Most Blues begin with: "Woke up this morning..."

2. "I got a good woman" is a bad way to begin the Blues, unless you stick something nasty in the next line like, "I got a good woman, with the meanest face in town."

3. The Blues is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then find something that rhymes, "sort of":
"Got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town. Got teeth like Margaret Thatcher and she weighs 500 pound."

4. The Blues is not about choice. You stuck in a ditch, you stuck in a ditch... Ain't no way out.

5. Blues cars: Chevys, Fords, old Cadillacs and broken-down trucks. Blues don't travel in Volvos, BMWs, or sport utility vehicles. Most Blues transportation is a Greyhound bus or a southbound train. Jet aircraft ain't even in the running. Walkin' plays a major part in the Blues lifestyle. So does fixin' to die.

6. Teenagers can't sing the Blues; they ain't fixin' to die yet. Adults sing the Blues. In Blues, "adulthood" means being old enough to get the electric chair if you shot a man in Memphis.

7. Blues can take place in New York City but not in Hawaii or anywhere in Canada. Hard times in Minneapolis or Seattle is probably just clinical depression. Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City are still the best places to have the Blues. You cannot have the Blues in any place that doesn't get rain.

8. You can't have no Blues in an office or a shopping mall; the lighting is wrong. Go outside to the parking lot and sit by the dumpster.

9. Good places for the Blues:
a. Highway
b. Jailhouse
c. Empty bed
d. Bottom of a whiskey glass

10. Bad places for the Blues:
a. Nordstrom's.
b. Gallery openings.
c. Ivy League institutions.
d. Golf courses.

11. No one will believe it's the Blues if you wear a suit, 'less you happen to be an old guy - and you slept in it.

12. Do you have the right to sing the Blues?
Yes, if:
a. You're older than dirt.
b. You're blind.
c. You shot a man in Memphis.
d. You can't be satisfied.

No, if:
a. You have all your teeth.
b. You were once blind but now can see.
c. The man in Memphis lived.
d. You have a 401K or trust fund.

13. Blues is not a matter of color; it's a matter of bad luck. Tiger Woods cannot sing the Blues. Sonny Liston could have. Ugly white people also got a leg up on the Blues.

14. If you ask for water and your darlin' give you gasoline, it's the Blues. Other acceptable Blues beverages are:
a. Cheap wine.
b. Whiskey or bourbon.
c. Muddy water.
d. Black coffee.

The following are not Blues beverages:
a. Perrier.
b. Chardonnay.
c. Snapple.
d. Slim Fast.

15. If death occurs in a cheap motel or a shotgun shack, it's a Blues death. Stabbed in the back by a jealous lover is another Blues way to die. So are the electric chair, substance abuse and dying lonely on a broken-down cot. You can't have a Blues death if you die during a tennis match or while getting liposuction.

16. Some Blues names for women:
a. Alma.
b. Big Mama.
c. Bessie.
d. Fat River Dumpling.

17. Some Blues names for men:
a. Joe.
b. Willie.
c. Little Willie.
d. Big Willie.

18. Persons with names like Michelle, Amber, Jennifer, Debbie, and Heather can't sing the Blues, no matter how many men they shot in Memphis.

19. Make your own Blues name starter kit:
a. Name of physical infirmity (Blind, Cripple, Lame, Ugly, etc.)
b. First name (see above) plus name of fruit (Lemon, Lime, Kiwi, etc.)
c. Last name of a President (Jefferson, Johnson, Fillmore, etc.)

For example: Blind Lime Jefferson, Jakeleg Lemon Johnson or Cripple Kiwi Fillmore, etc. (Well, maybe not "Kiwi.")

20. I don't care how tragic your life: if you own a computer, you cannot sing the Blues.

I'd love to see what kind of blues you all come up with out there in Blog-Land. Of course, that's breaking a few of the Blues Rules... But aren't the blues all about broken rules anyway?

Monday, November 5, 2007

she got me!

I've been tagged by Nikki at i, wright and I promised to answer these 5 questions. Beware, there may be more information than you'd care to know about me...

1. I absolutely love… to laugh. My kids make me laugh. My husband makes me laugh. The brilliance of life and this world make me laugh! I am astounded at how wonderful things can be - what a tremendous gift! Basically, I just think that life is too short to be grumpy all of the time. Of course, I get fiercely crabby at times - just ask Daddyman - but I inevitably revert to my lazy state of happiness.

2. I don’t care if… things go wonky. There is not much in this world that can't be made right again. A last minute party, the minor dings and bumps of life, money woes... it all can be solved. I have found that whatever I need will be available when I need it. So, I take a deep breath and move forward.

3. I like to…
sing. Loudly. In the privacy of my own home or car. I sing pretty well, but I almost never know the lyrics to popular songs. I just make up my own. It drives most people absolutely bonkers, hence the "in the privacy of ..." My kids even tell me to stop singing.

4. I play…a mean game of poker. I don't know all of the games, but I am a pretty good gambler. Ha!

5. I have a horrible habit of… being late. I don't like being late, it just happens. I get busy doing something else, or that "one more thing before we go." I know that it is completely rude (certainly not my intention), but I get sort of distracted. I think that it's genetic. My parents were never the most timely people as I was growing-up... c'est la vie.

6. I will never… be a stripper. Oh, I kind of like the naughtiness of that idea, but - c'mon - I've got way too many clothes to take off and it sort of ruins the mystique. Besides, I'd get the giggles and ruin the mood.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

love and pandemonium

Well, we survived the blitz of a dozen or so smallish people that came to celebrate the birth of our dear, sweet Noni. She is six years old. She is a wonderful person - so full of emotion and tenderness and curiosity and humor and... She is simply amazing!

Big sigh.

The Cake:

I happened to mention that I was in search of a cake to fulfill my daughter's wish of having a birthday-wedding cake while I was in the lunchroom at work. I just happened to mention this in front of a woman who is in the process of starting her own catering business. She just happened to offer her services - for a fee. I just happen to think that having someone else bake a baby pink frosted cake with purple fairy dust and a mini-Noni on top, plus a ridiculously rich chocolate cake for the grown-ups AND that same someone will deliver it to my home is totally worth $50!
The kids loved the fairy dust and the mini-Noni. They hated the cake. It was super yummy. What do they know?

The crush:

This is the Fabulous August watching Noni open the present that he brought for her. He is so sweet. The crush is mutual. He smiled and told her that he'd picked out the present himself (a diary with a lock and a gigantic orange daisy ring.) He told his mom that he didn't care if there wasn't even one other boy at Noni's birthday party. (Turns out there were 4 other boys.) He would go to the party because he loves Noni and it was her birthday and she invited him.

Big sigh.

Is it possible to find your soul mate in Kindergarten? Is it too soon to wish that this nice, polite little boy would stay in Noni's life until she's ... 30, so they can get married and love each other forever?
These two just sort of stuck near to each other the whole day. They watched each other play, or played together. They ate cake together and brought each other juice boxes. They were gentle and kind and sort of spoke their own language. It was innocent and lovely. I am so glad that they feel the same thing for each other.

August, the Hero:

When Noni had to wait for her turn at the balloon rocket launcher, August took it upon himself to blow up her balloon with his own breath. Now, if any of you know the balloon rocket toy that I am referring to, you know that blowing up these super long, super skinny balloons is almost impossible for the average joe. Luckily, love knows no bounds. This kids is going to be an awesome trumpet player.


Noni said that the day was perfect. When we were lying in bed tonight, talking about the day - What was the best part of your day? - she said that she thought the day was almost perfect. She was wrapped in that sleepy warm happiness that comes at the end of a good day.
The only things that would have made the day a tiny bit better are
1.) she'd gotten a surprise in the "pass the parcel" game (She got one.) and,
2.) if I had given her another present today (she was gifted a pink Gameboy Advanced and a couple of games at the family party - plus, I think a party counts for something), and
3.) if August had been the first one at the party and the last one to leave.

Big sigh.

It was a great day. I can't believe that she is already 6 years old. It seems like yesterday that she was projectile vomiting across the living room of our haunted bungalow. Ohh, those days have gone by far too quickly.

Random Fabulous Kids at Noni's Fabulous Party:

Red Light, Green Light

Via the Spy


Cake, Yuck!

Singing the Song

Thursday, November 1, 2007

sugar candied violet

OK. So, Noni's Birthday Whirl has gone really well... so far. She is so positive and happy and exuberant! We had the family party tonight. Oma and Papa went out to eat with our family. Noni got to choose the restaurant. She choose Old Country Buffet. Yack. But it's her birthday, and in our house, you can choose the place to eat and no one can say no. So... I think her night was sent over the top when the O.C. Bee was there. She ran up to The Bee and hugged him/her. It was like a reunion of long lost soul mates. I thought it was slightly frightening, but I am afraid of people in masks and body puppet costumes. I kept my distance, smiling and waving from a good 10 feet away. Then I got the giggles thinking about The O.C.Bee with O.C.D. Poor bee gets hugged by sticky, messy little kids who step on his/her shoes - and then runs to the bathroom for an antenna washing ritual...

This weekend is the big cake bash with all of the buddies. August is coming, too. I'll post pictures. We'll all be as fancy as we can be, I guess. Anyone have any good games for Kindergarten parties? Remember, it's a co-ed party. And, no, it's not a sleep-over!

The day has gone great so far but Noni has had way too much sugar. All of my kids have had too much sugar. Every child in a 20 block radius is hopped up on sugar, so calm it is not. My head is buzzing, my heart is pounding - I am feelin' the stress, and the results of too much sugar. So, to escape and kind of talk myself down a little, I did a little blog gazing. (It's like virtual yoga!) I stumbled upon this at Hiccup's blog, and gave it a whirl. Totally self-indulgent on my daughters birthday, I know. But heck, I can celebrate the fact that I carried this child into the world and have managed not to wreck her - yet.

Here's a question to all of you out there that are dealing with children and Halloween Candy - do you let your kids be the boss of their own candy or do you ration it? Was it the candy policy the same when you were a child, or are you doing things differently than your parents did when it comes to the Halloween Candy Control?

you are violet

Your dominant hues are red and blue. You're confident and like showing people new ideas. You play well with others and can be very influential if you want to be.

Your saturation level is lower than average - You don't stress out over things and don't understand people who do. Finishing projects may sometimes be a challenge, but you schedule time as you see fit and the important things all happen in the end, even if not everyone sees your grand master plan.

Your outlook on life is bright. You see good things in situations where others may not be able to, and it frustrates you to see them get down on everything.
the html color quiz

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

what kind of cake would you like, noni?

When asked that question, Noni replied,

"Why, I'd like the kind of cake that they have at weddings. Only, on top, it should just be me."

And so begins my quest for a birthday-wedding-bride-only cake. Wish me luck.

And wish Noni a very happy birthday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ghost in the bungalow: final chapter

By now, I had gotten pretty used to having a few extra "people" in my house. I heard new noises and didn't think twice. I passed the guy on the attic steps and was no longer afraid that he was going to grab me by the ankles as I gingerly stepped past him. We were all working things out...

Then, one dark evening in November, I was out running errands with baby Via. I returned home to our tiny bungalow with my arms full of baby and groceries and bags of various size and weight. As I struggle with my key in the door, I knew - they were here.

When I walked into my dark home that night, it was like walking into a crowded party. I flicked the lights on. No one was there. No bride. No father-in-law. No man from the steps. But still, that feeling of crowding would not leave. I set down my bags and plucked Via from her baby seat. I stood in the middle of my living room floor with all of the lights blazing, and I said, out loud,

OK. If you've got something that you want me to know, tell me now. Please, don't scare me. If you are just here for a visit, well, some of you are going to have to go. It's just too crowded in this tiny house for all of us.

Then, every light in my house flickered on and off one time and the house was peaceful again.

I never saw the bride or the man on the stairs again. We moved to our new home shortly after this event.

The ghosts didn't follow us to our new house, but I still smell Joe's cigarette smoke occasionally. And I know when my grandparents have come for a visit because there is always a distinctive smell - baked chicken and cookies or grapefruit and aftershave.

To be honest, I kind of miss the excitement, but I'm glad to have my house to myself.
And I'm happy to know that I am still be watched over by my family.

Friday, October 26, 2007


I was tagged awhile ago by Bethany, and I've really put off answering. So, I finally decided that I needed to step up to the plate and let you all have it. Here's how it goes:

"Here's how you play, once you've been tagged. You have to write a blog with 10 weird, random things, facts or habits about yourself. At the end you choose 10 people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them to be tagged. Don't forget to leave them a comment "You're It!" and to read your blog. You can't tag the person who tagged you."


I had a fabulous gap in my front teeth until I was 12 years old. Then, the orthodontist stuck braces in my mouth, and now I have teeth that are unnaturally squashed together. I wish that I still had the gap in my front teeth. Instead I now have a wire that is holding my two front teeth together.

I don’t own tennis shoes.
Pathetic. I have a kicky pair of orange Chuck Taylor low tops, but that's it. I have a wide range of fabulous high heels...

I love to drink orange juice when I eat a chocolate chip cookie

I am afraid of the dark I used to vault from my bedroom door into the darkness of my childhood bedroom. Now, I must retain some sense of "mom's in control - there's no monsters in this house - blah blah blah." The dark totally freaks me out! I lay in bed solving random scenarios about escaping from the bad guys in my dark house. That's not just weird. I fear that might be nuts.

I see ghosts – and that freaks people out. I don't usually see ghosts in the darkness. I usually see them during the day. I kind of like it...

My high school boy friend sent me a ‘promise ring’ in the mail I did not marry him. I did keep the ring. Then I lost it. I wasn't sad. It was tiny.

I like the smell of old cars. I mean, I really love that dusty, old, warm smell that only comes from an old car. It's the combination of dust and pleather and warm sunny days. I like to close my eyes and imagine who bought the car and what they were like when they felt so proud to drive around in it. Old cars, old houses and grave yards - love 'em.

I have a Huck Finn talent for getting people to paint my house. I love redecorating. I hate painting. Luckily, my mom and my best friend can't sit around and watch me putz around with the color on the walls thing. They jump up and grab the brush and take over. We're all happy!

I took bowling for my P.E. credit in college. I barely passed. I'm not a great bowler. Actually, I'm not much of an athlete. I sure like to run around and play, however.

I truly believe that any kind of nut in any food totally ruins it – the food not the nut.
I seriously do not understand why people put nuts in cookies or brownies or sweet breads. Why, people, why? I sometimes fake a nut allergy just so I can get the stuff with out nuts. That, and people take pity on others with allergies. I don't have real allergies. Just fake ones.

I didn’t like Terms of Endearment – couldn’t even watch the whole thing one time.
I think this is one of the worst movies ever made. Sorry.

I have a reverse body image – I think I am thinner than I actually am, and I’m often surprised by my reflection in the mirror. This makes it really hard to go on any sort of diet - denial and ignorance. That's my newest mantra. Fat and happy. Has a nice ring to it.

I have deep, abiding love for Q-tips
Oh, my. Oh, my goodness. Oh. yeah. yes. oh, yes. yes. YES. YES!

So, now I have to tag some folks:
Sue @ Navel Gazing At Its Finest
Chris & Rikki @ Chris and Rikki + E3
The Rotten Correspondent @ Confessions of A Rotten Correspondent
emilyruth @ i wonder sometimes
Julia @ Because I Knew You...
Kelsey @ Our College Life

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ghosts in the bungalow: the bride returns

It was a dark and stormy night.
No, really. I WAS a dark and stormy night.
It was the perfect Halloween night - rainy and cold.
The moon was almost full, but not quite.
The trees were void of their leaves, and in the
moon light, they had a perfect Poe-like quality.
Like bony black fingers that were scratching at the
wispy clouds, never getting what they were reaching

As I got ready for bed, I thought,

"This would be a great nights for ghosts."

In our lovely little bungalow, our bed was situated in our room in such a way that I could look directly down the hallway if I lay on my left side.

That night, I lay on my left side.

It was well passed midnight when I woke up. I don't know why I woke up. There wasn't really a sound that woke me. It's just that suddenly I wasn't asleep anymore.

As I lay looking down the hallway, it began to rain. With a giant bang, the thunder struck. I realized that I couldn't see anything in the dark. The moon had been covered by the storm clouds.

There was a flash of lightening. And there she was.

The bride.

The woman that our little bungalow had been built for was standing in the hallway, and I was looking right at her.

I wasn't afraid.

She walked down the hall and into the bedroom.

She was beautiful. Not the scary, undead bride that some movies like to depict as ghosts. My bride was beautiful, pristine. White dress. Lace veil. Dark hair twisted up in a demure little bun at the base of her creamy neck.

She smiled at me patiently as she slowly leaned down to look me in the eye.

Her breathe was warm - surprisingly - She was now only a few inches from my face.
And she said to me,

"You should put a side board in the dining room. A side board and a mirror on the wall. That's what it was designed for."

"Ok," I said.

Then the thunder. A flash of lightening, and she was gone.

The storm ended shortly after she left. The moon shone brightly in our bedroom for most the night.

The bride never returned again.

I put a small table and a mirror against the wall in the dining room. I had to. That's what it was designed for.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

august for noni

Noni is in love.

It is true love.

She talks about him all of the time.

His name is August. His is 'beautiful' and he is 'her friend that is a special boy.'

Noni met August in Kindergarten. To her credit, he is a very hip and groovey young man. He is destined to be a rock star. Or a flight attendant. Or a lazy bum who mooches off of his mother for his entire life while he coaches mini-golf at the rec center.

He has shoulder length blonde hair and looks a lot like the boys in the Polo ads. And she loves him.

She came home from school the other day - oh, I feel like a traitor - and told me that she had a big secret. She told me that she had kissed August under the slide.
When I got over the suspicion that "under the slide" was a euphemism for something that it wasn't, I had myself a little sit down talk with my 5 year old daughter.

So. I said. You've been kissing boys on the play ground...?

Not just any boy, Mom. It was August.

Oh. I see. Where did you kiss him?

On the mouth.

No. Oh. No. Noni, I meant, where were you when you kissed him?

Oh, we were under the slide.

Under the slide. I see. Who's idea was this, this kissing ... thing?

I was pretty certain it was his. Boys can not be trusted, you know.

Oh, Mom.

Note tssk and huffy.

We both like each other. We talked about it. We decided now would be a good time to kiss.

Oh God. I am in trouble.

Should I be happy that we are talking about his sort of thing? Yes, I probably should be happy that we have open lines of communication. But right now, I am not happy. I am mortified.

I am also concerned that yesterday Noni brought a note home from August's parents. Could they please have Noni's phone number? August would like to call her to invite her for a sleep over.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

ghosts in the bungalow: the attic stairs

After my husband's dad came for his first "visit," I just couldn't shake the feeling of not being alone in my own home. I hadn't seen anyone, yet, but I checked out every window and door each time I passed, determined to prove to myself that nobody was really there. Soon, I relaxed and let it go. I chalked up the nervous feelings to being a new mom alone in a new house at night. It wasn't long until I'd forgotten all about that creepy feeling.

Then one night, when Daddyman was at work and I was home alone with Via, it happened.

I was trying to find the double boiler - I don't know why I thought I needed it to make dinner for myself and a 5 month old baby, but I was absolutely distracted with the search. While Via sat in her high chair in the middle of the kitchen, happily clanging spoons and cooing, I pulled everything out of the kitchen cupboards. No double boiler. I searched the shelves in the basement laundry room - no double boiler. Then, I remembered the box of kitchen stuff that was still in the attic.

I flung open the door that lead to the attic stairs. I wasn't paying attention to where I was going, and I was ready to bound up the steps when I looked up and saw him. I gasped and stopped dead in my tracks. He was just sitting on the attic steps, behind the closed door, listening to the lives of a young mom and her baby.

Just listening.

He was sitting about 5 steps up from the bottom, with his elbows on his knees. We were almost face to face before I realized that he was there. But, of course, he wasn't really there. I could see the steps right through him.

We stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Then, he smiled at me. A sort of sad, lonely smile. It was not an apology for being in my house or an excuse, just a smile.

When I finally caught my breath, I slammed the door closed. I pulled the dining room table in front of the door. I know that a table will not keep a ghost out of the main floor, but the idea of stopping this man from being present in my house was really important at the time.

I ran to the kitchen and scooped Via out of her high chair. I was holding her and crying and then I hear the lock on the front door click.

"Oh, God. Now what?"

It was Daddyman who walked through the door. Reasonable, calm, logical Daddyman. I fell into his giant man embrace and sobbed. When I told him the story of the man on the stairs, he didn't laugh. He didn't look at me like I'd lost my mind. He just held me.

We left the table where it was for a couple of days - in front of the door to the attic steps.

We left it in front of the attic door until one sunny Sunday in October.

I needed to find something that we hadn't yet unpacked, and I was certain that it was in the attic. Rick was raking leaves out side. The windows were open. I could hear him talking back to the game announcers on the portable radio. I knew that he could hear me, and would be inside in 10 seconds if I shouted to him for help.

I took a deep breath. I could do this. I am a grown up, after all. He probably wasn't there, anyway. I have such an over active imagination... I was so tired the night I saw him sitting on my attic steps... I'm certain I just imagined him being there...

I opened the door.

The man was there. Again. Just listening.

He looked at me. And smiled.

This time, I smiled back.

I took a deep breath and said, "Excuse me. I need to get something up there."

He leaned to one side to let me pass. (Of course, there wasn't any need for him to lean to one side. I could have simply walked right through him.)

We continued this sort of polite relationship of smiling and leaning and passing and saying "thank you" and "excuse me" until I moved out of that little Bungalow on Lincoln Avenue. As it turned out, I was sort of comforted by his presence. Knowing that someone else is home when you feel lonely late at night with a brand new baby when you're home all alone...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

leaves falling down

Written be Noni

"It is October with the leaves falling down.
They once were all scarlet, yellow and brown."

The wind smells wet and rainy.
When I walk to the bus, I spy my friend's house.
I like to walk by it and see it up close.
October is a good time to look into windows
because the leaves don't get in my way.

Monday, October 15, 2007

ghosts in the bungalow

With Halloween fast approaching, we are busily playing with ghosts and goblins at our bungalow in St.Paul. The Littles are scurrying about the house, making maps of the neighborhood with asterisks next to the houses that give out the GOOD treats and cobbling together intricate and imaginative costumes for their Halloween Adventure. I say "imaginative costumes" because I am not exactly clear as to what they are supposed to be - a dish towel and a jump rope and a teddy bear and a tutu and a pull-along phone all wrapped around yaya made her a pony...Hmmmm.

We are busily decorating and telling stories and listening to Loreena McKennit, and it made me think about all of the great ghost stories that I have heard. In fact, I heard a good one last night over at Death By Children.

Now, I have a tremendously overactive imagination. After reading this story - which by daylight is not remotely scary - I stood in my dark living room afraid to turn off the lights or look at my dog. And so I stood there. For a really long time. And then, I called my husband. Who was sound asleep. So I called him again. Luckily, after 10 years of marriage he is used to my overactive imagination, and he kept talking to me ... as I climbed the darkened staircase ... to our attic bedroom... mwahahahahha.

(OK, our bedroom isn't in the attic. I've never actually been in the attic of my home. It's a hole in the ceiling. And it's painted shut. I guess that I thought, why bother... I'm just trying to get you in the mood... mwahahahaha!)

Ghosts in the Bungalow: Joe Comes for a Visit

Shortly after Via was born, we moved into a charming bungalow in a quaint neighborhood in the MacGraveland neighborhood of St.Paul, MN. This house was lovely. There was a big Oak tree in the front yard that sheltered our little home and created a magical dappled effect on sunny days. There were built-ins and leaded glass and hardwood floors throughout and a walk-up attic that one day would be converted to the master suite. We loved this house.

One sunny spring afternoon, shortly after moving into our new bungalow, I was changing Baby Via on the old dresser that we'd commissioned as a changing station. I was home alone with the baby, and I'd left every window and the door to the porch wide open. Maybe that was a mistake? Do you know that feeling you have when someone is looking at you? You just know that someone is there? Well, I had that feeling, and it startled me a little bit.

I looked up - in the mirror - and saw, standing behind me, no leaning a bit on the door jam, a tall, dark haired man wearing a little hat and a cardigan sweater. I quickly turned around to confront him, and there simply was no one there. It was then that I smelled the cigarettes. (Neither Daddyman or I smoke.)

Strangely, I wasn't the least bit frightened. You see, while I had never met Daddyman's father, Joe - he'd passed away several years before I met him - I KNEW that he had been in our house. Joe had simply stopped in for a visit: To see his son's new home and to meet his new wife and baby.

When I remember that day, I think of it warmly. I wasn't afraid. As a matter of fact, I wish that he'd stayed longer. I wish that I'd met him when he was alive.
Still, to this day, I know when Joe comes for a visit because my house smells like cigarette smoke.