Sunday, September 30, 2007

i'll put it back when i'm done, promise.

I thought this seemed like a fun way to use my rainy Sunday afternoon...

1. Your rock star name: (first pet & current car)
Tuffy Odessy

2. Your gangsta name: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Pep-O-mint Waffer

3. Your fly guy/girl name: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. Your detective name: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Black Finch

5. Your soap opera name: (middle name, city where you were born)
Lynn Champagne-Urbana

6. Your Star Wars name: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. Your superhero name: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Orange Momosa

8. Your Nascar name: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Al Clarence

9. Your stripper name: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Lavender Taffy

10. Your witness protection name: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Lou Christian.
10/01 Oops. I mean Lou Allen. (See comments)

11. Your TV weather/anchor name: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Allen Austin

12. Your spy name: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Summer Hosta

13. Your cartoon name: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Peach Leggy

14. Your hippie name: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Latte' Red Pine

15. Your rock star tour name: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Felted Northern Lights Tour

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Grand Addictions

It's 10 minutes into fall and all I can think about is food. Chili and apple cider and pumpkin anything - you know, comfort food.
Well, today Fall has really hit St.Paul hard. It's raining and blustery. In an attempt to avoid baking or cooking or eating or binging or chewing my nails to the quick, I took a little trip out of the house. Yes. I should have walked. But it's wet. So I hopped in the suburban gold mini-van, and drove one block to the antique shop.

OK, antique shop is generous. It's just a stinky old store front full of old crap. It's the stuff that's left at the end of a 3 day rummage sale. The stuff that you can't even give away on the curb with a big FREE sign taped to it.

I kind of like this little shop of weird, crappy junk.

I have a relationship with this place.

A long, torrid relationship.

It's not really my fault, anyway. Who could shun the affections of a place called Grand Addictions?

You see, it used to be a vintage clothing store. A really, cool, funky vintage clothing store. Sometimes, as a young girl, I would stay with my aunt and uncle in St.Paul. I would save my money for weeks just so that I could shop at this store. I'd walk the 5 or so blocks from their house to this funky, hip store and I'd come home with my arms full of wool gabardine Hollywood waisted trousers like Katherine Hepburn and hand beaded cashmere cardigans like Donna Reed and impossibly tall red patent leather stilettos like Betty Page.

Now, I know that this doesn't sound like any big deal to the rational mind. Let me set the scene a little better:
I grew up in redneckville on the frozen lakes of Northern Minnesota. We had a JCPenney's and a Sears. K-Mart came MUCH later. Wal-Mart moved in 2 years ago. It's basically the end of the world and it's frozen.

So are the fashion views of most of it's residents.

I, on the other hand, led the life of a jet set child, if only in my mind. My father was a musician and my mother was one of the smarty-pants literary set. To try to fit into this life-style and escape my closed-minded neighbors, I read Vogue Magazine.

I was 12 years old, and I honestly thought the clothing those exotic women wore was wonderful. I was certain that this is what everyone who did NOT live in my stupid town wore. I saw myself on the glossy pages of that wonderful magazine.

Of course, most normal people know that Vogue magazine is a brash exaggeration of all things fashion and couture.

I took it to be my fashion Bible.

Therefor, upon returning to the Frozen Home of the North, I pulled all of my new/old clothing out of the crumpled paper store bag, and I proudly recreated my wardrobe. I know that I shouldn't brag, but I had it going on! I wore my Hollywood waisted trousers with a sparkling tube top and tiger sneakers. I wore my precious, little, hand beaded cashmere cardigan over my buffalo plaid wool shirt and denim gouchos with my striped toe socks and jazzy platformed sandals. I wore my red patent leather stilettos with my electric green cigarette legged jeans and my father's cardigan buttoned up the back, my hair teased up high.

I was gorgeous. And I was in 7th grade.

I wish that Grand Addictions still had vintage clothing.

They do not.

There are only piles and piles and piles of unwanted junk in a dusty old store that is run, coincidentally, by the same crazy vintage store lady who wears sunglasses inside and sits on a tilted folding chair with her startlingly skinny legs wrapped around each other. Old stuff that might never again see the sunlight outside of this store.

Instead. I bought this.

Now, I'm thinking about food. Again.


Friday, September 28, 2007

mom: don't read this

I want a tattoo.
I just can't make up my mind what I want.
I am afraid that my fickle heart would be dissatisfied with whatever I had permanently marked on my body.
And I'd be super critical of the artwork.
I am also afraid that I'd find someplace like the one in the google photo from above.
I want a tattoo.
something little.
no butterflies.
or fairies.
maybe a little fairy that one of my girls draws.
Time will tell.

Monday, September 24, 2007

a tina, by any other name...

Noni just walked into the kitchen with an earth worm clinging to a stick.

Note forced panic in her little girl voice.
"Mom. Can I have a jar. I need a home for my new best-worm-friend. Her name is Tina."
"Take. That. Worm. Outside. Now."
"But mom. I cant' just take her outside. She is my friend. And she has a name. You said that bugs without names live outside. My worm has a name. She is Tina."
"Ah. I see. This is different. Honey, Tina works in the garden and lives with the gnome... who will miss her very much if she doesn't come home for dinner?"

Noni reluctantly takes Tina outside.

"OK, but I'm not leaving her outside. She will miss me too much. We're just going out to play in the yard."

As I am writing this, Noni has reappeared in the kitchen with a now seriously drooping worm.

Note real panic in her little girl voice.

"Oh, mom. *sob* I think Tina's really sick."
"What is that poking out of the side of Tina?"
"Her skin. I think."
"What happened?"
"Via ran over my new best worm friend with her roller-skates. She is a worm-hater."
"I See. Take Tina outside. Now."
"I'm gonna have to bury her and dig a wormy grave. C'mon Tina. It's time to go back into the dirt. Can I have a plastic cup to bury her in? That way she won't get dirty now that she's dead."

"Can I use a big spoon to dig with?"

"Will you come outside with me and sing a hymn? She needs a service, you know. She's very special to me, you know."
"I'll be out in a minute."

"OK, maybe you could dress up. Wear something black, OK? It's very sad. I might cry. Bring a Kleenex. And some flowers. Could we go to the grocery story and buy some real flowers? I don't want plain, old garden flowers."

"Go out side with Tina. She's leaking on the floor."

"I'm sad, mom."

"I know, honey."

"I'm hungry. Can I have an Oreo?"

That's what's happening here. How's things where you are?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

two by noni

Fall is fun.
I jump in the leaves.
Then Mom and Dad say, "Come inside! You can have a cup
of apple cider."
I make chocolate chip cookies with Oma.
It is my birthday!
I am happy.

Winter is cold.
I slide down the snowy hill.
I build snowmen with my sisters.
Then Mom and Dad say, "Come inside! You can have a cup
of cocoa."
I am cold, but I am happy.

Friday, September 21, 2007

yoga: the musical

This sign should probably be posted on the front door to our home.
Maybe I should just staple it to my forehead so that anyone approaching me would know to run for the hills. Holy crap, I am a twisted discombobulated resemblance of my former self.
"Why am I feeling discombobulated?" You ask.
Well, since you asked, I will tell you. My brain won't slow down. And the stuff it comes up with is pure drivel. And it's all out of joint - like a "mom conversation:" Yes sweetie, you can have the.. well, K., I don't know if I would, (pause) just a minute. What is it sweetie? No, You can't have another cookie. Because you've had seven. K., I think that color is really - Seven is enough young lady! No, that color is really good in that room, I wouldn't change it. Fine. Have 8. I don't care. No, K., I really do care about the color of the towels... Sit down!
"Why do you suppose your lovely brain is behaving like that?" You ask. (You are so thoughtful.)
I am not completely certain, but I have a pretty good idea.

I started yoga classes a couple of weeks ago.

Normally, one does not associate yoga with chaos, but I think that it was the shock my body felt when it was thrust out of complete inertia to random, gentle movement - notice I didn't call it exercise. Who knows what THAT might do. I think that shock has caused a sort of overload on the grid, so to speak. (OK, you who are electrically or computer savvy might say that. Normally, I would not say that. But I did. Just this once.)
Now, I am not a complete yoga novice, but I am certainly not an expert. I don't even know if I have the right kind of mat. Can you have the wrong kind of mat? I might have the wrong kind of mat. I should probably get a new mat just in case. Do I have to go to the yoga store to get one? Can't I just get one at Target? They might not carry the right kind of mats at
Target. And Target is no longer the cheapest option, in my opinion. And I don't really like the Target on Midway. It's a new store - that's why it's not so cheap - but it draws a dicey crowd. I'd better go to the yoga store. What if I walk in and they know that I don't have a clue about yoga? I know, I'll just breath deeply and speak calmly and walk slowly and they will think that I am a yoga pro. Hell, that kind of acting got me through most of school.


I had hopes that yoga would help me find my calm, peaceful center. Instead, I think that I have created an internal mass of swirling chaos.
I never got a new mat to start this class with. I waited until the night of the first class to even look for my yoga mat. Actually, my daughter's yoga mat - she's 8. She got it from her groovy aunt in LA. The mat is much too small for me. I couldn't find it. I brought a crappy beach towel. Everyone in the class knew that I didn't have the first clue about yoga. But I am there. Sitting on a bleached out, sand worn beach towel. I am sitting with lots of sweaty, nervous women in this lovely peaceful darkened room on the evening of my yoga class. I am listening to the pan flute recording buzz and rattle out of the portable stereo system and I am covertly assessing the other gentle movers, thinking - "cool, I am not the fattest one here."
At that moment, I knew that The Zen had a hold of my soul and I was ready to rock this yoga class.
But it didn't rock, as I had hoped. As I tried to breathe deeply and audibly through my allergy plugged nose I kept thinking. And thinking. And thinking. If you know anything about yoga - and haven't I already demonstrated the sheer depth of my yoga knowledge - you know that you are not supposed to think.
You are supposed to breathe.
And be present in the moment.
Just Be and Breathe.

and when I kept trying to tell myself to stop thinking, I simple could not stop thinking. I apparently could only focus on one topic.
The entire score -music and lyrics - to INTO THE WOODS, by Stephen Sondheim. Apparently, I know all of them.

Imagine, the room is dark - thank God! Filled with middle-agish sweaty, nervous yoga virgins and the leader (I know that there is a fancy name for yoga leaders, but I don't think you can call them by that fancy name when they are teaching yoga in the church basement of a Lutheran Church in St.Paul, Minnesota!), the leader has a slightly nasal-y, high pitched, retired cheerleader voice that is working really fucking hard on demonstrating the importance of being grounded and calm and breathing audibly and deeply through one's nose...

We will begin in Gentle Resting Pose...
..."even now and then a sad one."
Let's all put our hands on the floor in front of us, and breathe. deeply.... ..."Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor:
Now we will gently step our feet out behind us, release our hips and press our heels into the floor. We are now in "Downward Dog."...
... "so it's your fault then? No. It isn't mine at all."
And breeeeeethe....
..."this is ridiculous. What am I doing here? I'm in the wrong story."

90 minutes of this... a stinky room in church basement full of sweating repressed Lutheran women who are trying desperately to "snap our belly buttons to our spines" (Only skinny women would think of THAT one!) and a ratty, old beach towel that has zero traction and the unending Sondheim lyrics and I am trying to breath the "right way" and stretch to the sun and hold it. hold it. hold that stretch. and breathe. and breathing and thinking thinking thinking all the time.

So. Now you know.

I am not calm.
I am not centered.
And I am apparently taking it out on everyone who crosses my path.

I'm going back to yoga.
Mostly, because I am curious to see what musical I will sing in my head this time.
I'll let you all know.

Monday, September 17, 2007

some old fun and happy kids, too

This is one old cover from several images available at Kiddie Records
This site is a fabulous and fun place to find all of those old albums we listened to as kids. Or our older brothers and sisters listened to... or we played for our kids...
Anyway, I am playing them all for our girls and they love them! You can stream them or download the files. Super fun and the stories are really wholesome. The only issue I have is that some of them are really out of date - culturally, that is. But so much fun to hear these again.

Write, Mama. Write. wrote about these on Sept. 15th. And someone commented that they'd seen it on another site last summer. If I am late to the party, too bad. If you've found something new - Hooray. I'm digging all of the old instruments stories, like the one narrated by Danny Kaye. What a great performer.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

it's a middle name anagram tag game

I was tagged by that lovely Galadriel at I Hate Laundry. You got me, girl.
Technically, I have two middle names since I added my husbands name to my own after marriage, thereby making my maiden name my second middle name.
My full name is Ahna Lynn Brandvik Logan -lucky you. So here goes:

L - laughter. I dig laughter. I think that laughter is probably how I judge everyone. Do you laugh? Do you make other people laugh? It's easy to get by in this life on good looks, but you've got to be one sharp cookie to make people laugh.
Y - Yellow. My bedroom when I was a little girl had lots and lots and lots of big pop-art-ish, Orla Kiely-esque yellow daisies climbing up the wall paper. We lived a house that my dad built in the great woods of pine trees in Northern Minnesota. (As I re-read this, I realize it sounds a little like Laura Ingalls Wilder. Not quite that idyllic, but rather quaint.) I didn't have shades on my windows, and my bedroom had a southeast facing window. Every sunny morning I was bathed in the early morning light. The sunshine would make my bedroom glow with funky yellow daisies. I still love to wake up in a puddle of sunshine - it's a very safe feeling.
N - Northern Minnesota. This is where I spent my formative years, which says a lot about me. I grew up in a part of the country that was so cold the schools actually built tunnels to connect the buildings, and the sun set by 4:00 PM for 5 months out of the year. There were also lots and lots of companies with strange names. For example, the D.Cease Funeral Home (D. is for David, Mr. Cease's first name) There was a hair salon called The Beaver Look (Why? Well, the college mascot was the Bemidji Beavers, of course. Who would really want the "beaver look" is beyond me.) There were many strange names, but did I make fun of them or mock them behind their backs...?
N - Nice. C'mon. I'm from Minnesota. I know how to be "nice."

B - Breakfast. One of my favorite memories of my entire life is having breakfast with my grandpa. I spent many lazy weeks at my mother's childhood home in the summertime. We'd start every day in my grandparents' warm, sun-bathed kitchen in the big old house in that little tiny town in the western-most corner of North Dakota. I was the first one through the swinging door that lead from the dining room to the kitchen, and Grandpa would already be there. His gray stubble was freshly shaved and he was wearing a white tank undershirt that showed his old man arms and he'd smile and he'd say to me, "good morning, pickle puss." The coffee smell filled up the kitchen. He'd cut my grapefruit with a little knife, carefully, yet swiftly separating each section from the rind. Then he'd cover that fresh, juicy pink grapefruit flesh with a huge mound of powdered sugar that he'd scoop out of a yellowing sugar bowl that rested next to the cookie jar on the counter under the window. He'd hand me a special little grapefruit spoon and we'd both dig in. I knew he'd been waiting for me. I felt important and loved. We'd tell each other stories and he'd make me laugh. My grandfather passed away many years ago. Still, on random, unimportant days, I walk into my kitchen and I am hit with the smell of my grandfather's aftershave and the smell of coffee that's already been brewed and the smell of that sweet, pink, fresh, juicy grapefruit that had been carefully shipped to the middle of the prairie in North Dakota just for my grandfather and me. And when I look again, I am alone. The first one through the swinging door that leads from my dining room into the kitchen.
R - radishes. I really hate radishes.
A - Anne. My Grandma Anne was really bossy. I prefer to think of her as knowing what she wanted out of life. I'm kind of like her. OK. I'm a lot like her. She was a big, round Norwegian farm girl who could swallow you whole in her fleshy arms when she gathered you to her heart. When I was little, we'd have private tea parties on her front porch. She'd take down her special cups - little Victorian tea cups that had belonged to her and my grandfather when they were children - and we'd put on our white gloves and she'd pour the tea. Then she'd serve the cookies. Wow. Could that woman bake. It was only 9:30 in the morning, and she'd be serving us frosted molasses cookies. I think this is sort of amazing because 1.) those cookies were fresh from the oven in the middle of the summer and 2.) she was feeding, no sneaking cookies to her 5 year old grand daughter at 9:30 in the morning. She'd wink and I'd know that we were part of a really important tea-time secret.
N - Nice. Ok, here's the truth about "Minnesota Nice." It's not really very nice. it's just a big smile and then we talk behind your back.
D - When I was a little girl, I thought I should be a dancer. I'd seen the ABT on tour and had watched some amazing dancers. I practiced standing in 5th position. I walked on the toes of my Chuck Taylor's like I was en pointe. I spent a great deal of time wearing a leotard everywhere I went. I knew I had what it took, even though at 12 I was a 4'8" chubby little blonde girl. It was shortly after this episode that I discovered the importance of laughter.
V - Vikings. I really don't like football. My husband loves it. He is first in his fantasy football league. Just ask him.
I - Ice cream. I'm not a huge fan of ice cream. It's a little too creamy. I like Breyer's Natural Vanilla Bean. It's a little 'ice milky' and the flecks of 'bean' are yummy.
K - Kids. My kids rock my world. My uncle told me that life would really begin after I had kids. Boy-oh-boy was he right. I had a great career before I had kids (I married later in life and I was 33-ish before I had my first daughter.) None of that seems nearly as important since I've had kids. Thank God.

That's it. You made it all the way through. So, now I'm it! I tag these lovely folks.
Chris & Rikki+E3
Inside Out
Puddle Wonderful
la vie en rose
Because I knew you...

date night

Daddyman and I had a DATE last night. Not an easy thing to do why you both work a variety of random jobs and have 3 little girls at home. We have a great babysitter (former teacher) who the girls love. She can get them all in the bathtub, wash hair, read books and lights out in 45 minutes. I am starting to believe in Mary Poppins. Then at the end of the night, she didn't want us to pay her. (We did. We want her to come back again and again.)
We had a great time!
That's not what this blog is about.
We went to the most wonderful restaurant. We feel like we've discovered a new country. Of course, the place was packed, so we didn't actually discover it... but we both have great imaginations so we can pretend we did.
Last night while searching for a place to eat we decided that we both wanted the same thing: To go someplace wonderful that everyone goes to, just not when they're all there.
So, here's where we went. YUMMY! Grown-up food. Great wine. Good prices. Locally grown/produced. Menu changes daily. (I tried to link it, but I couldn't do it... weird.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

sassy monkey

OK. So I think that I may win the daily award for Questionable Parenting Tactics. Last night, this gorgeous blue-eyed, blond-haired, five year old girl gave the performance of a life time.
Let me set the scene:
It was a warm, sunny summer's evening. The bird's were singing. The dog was sleeping in the kitchen. Daddyman and I were sitting at the big comfy dining room table have an ice cold beer and a happy little chat. From out of thin air, Noni slammed into the room and without a moment's hesitation, she announced her demands. I don't think I even heard what she wanted, and honesty, it doesn't really matter.
What happened then was this:
She had no intention of waiting for our response. She launched into what could best be called a teenage tantrum.
And I quote: You guys never listen to ME. Nobody in this house listens to ME. Nobody in this house loves me, I can tell. If you did love me, you'd listen to me. But NOBODY LISTENS TO ME. I hate you. I hate everyone in this house. You're all stupid!
Of course, the words themselves are not what will win her the Oscar. Anyone will tell you that the script is completely overused and somewhat manipulative. No, it was the dramatic stomping of the feet and flicking of the hair and squeezing out of real tears that will win the award.
This little tornado of emotions spun into the dining room and upturned her parents and bounced up the stairs and hurtled herself into her room and threw herself on the bed - missed the bed and landed on the floor, thus proving that "see, nobody loves me or I wouldn't have fallen off the bed. Stupid bed. It's all your fault, Via."
All Daddyman and I could do was sit with our mouths wide open, and when the storm had passed (This is the questionable parenting moment for those of you keeping track) We applauded.
We had to. It was a magnificent performance given by a 5 year old playing the part of an angsty teenage girl. We clapped and clapped and then chuckled a little to ourselves.
We assumed that the storm had passed, and we could finish our chat.
However, as the applause was dying down, who should appear in the dinning room but the sassy starlet herself - completely composed. Hair tidy. Not even the slightest trace of a tear.
"Yes? You wanted me?" (Note the slightly chipper tone in her voice.)
"What a wonderful performance you just gave."
"Oh, I thought that you wanted me to come back. Weren't you just clapping? I can do it again if you'd like...?"

The potential for this tropical storm to gain strength through adolescence is enormous, inevitably destroying all that dare to place themselves in her path. The potential for damage that is massive. I think that we will have a family action plan in place should the need arise. And we will rehearse it so everyone knows exactly what to do to keep themselves out of harms way - like a fire drill. From this day forward, we will all wear inflatable life jackets - the kind you get on the airlines, pull the chord and the vest fills with air - just in case it gets too deep in here to dig ourselves out. We will have a safe place to meet outside our homes if we have to all flee the danger. We will even practice the old nuclear bomb method of protection - duck and cover.
"Via! Yaya! She's coming! Everyone - on the floor. Duck and cover, girls. DUCK. AND. COVER!"

Preparation = good parenting, right?

My mother says that I am getting exactly what I deserve.
Maybe she just wasn't prepared.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 9, 2007

butterflies and boogers

Today, this lovely little Yaya looked up at me in church with a gooey, runny nose and said, "Someday, Mama, I am going to be a beautiful butterfly and I will use my wings to fly, fly, fly, fly to my butterfly mommy. I will miss you."
Good grief. What do you say to that?
Since my girls were born, I have know that part of my job as a mom is to teach my children to leave me. Then my littlest daughter talks about leaving and flying home to her butterfly mommy and my heart hurts a little.
I wanted to burst out into tears. (I am a little tired.) Instead, I got a grip and began to think about what it takes to become a butterfly. That little caterpillar must find the perfect spot and create the perfect cocoon, and then that caterpillar completely changes it's shape and form. It goes to goo. Then all of the caterpillar parts re-organize themselves into butterfly parts. When the butterfly pulls itself out of the cocoon, it must rest while their wings dry - patient lovely winged ones. It's not easy to become a butterfly.
I've decided that I have a new job. It is this: to help my sweet little caterpillar find the perfect spot and support her while she builds the perfect cocoon, then I need to be patient while this teen aged caterpillar goes to goo. I'll help her reorganize, if she wants me to do that (probably not). Then I will wait with her while her wings dry. I will be there when she takes flight. I will wave like mad. And I will wait until she returns home to me.
I will miss you, too, my butterfly girl.

not-so-fancy food

This weekend, we dined at our favorite establishment - The Cleveland Wok. It is this tiny store front Chinese Buffet that boast some of the best Chicken in Black Bean Sauce I've ever taste. The service is very friendly and the beer is cold.
Of course, that's not why we go to The Cleveland Wok. No, we go because it's a buffet. My husband and 3 young daughters need to eat when we arrive in a restaurant, not 25 minutes later. The girls love walking through the door, waving to our favorite waiter, sitting in "our" booth and serving themselves from the gigantic buffet.
It's kid paradise. Lot's of brightly colored dipping sauces and milk with a straw. It's parent heaven because they charge by age - a couple of bucks for the littlest kids, then they add a dollar for each year of age until 8 years old. The adult price is only $7.99 - what a deal! Speedy eats, cheery wait staff and kid pleasing dipping sauces... all of that and good food, too.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

here we go, 'round again...

These children all began a new school year this week. Each at a different school.
Via is a 3rd grade who love love loves school very much. Just ask her, if she'll take her head out of a book.
Noni is a full-day kindergartener who thought that the lunch line was pretty terrific because:
1.) She remembered her code, and
2.) They served PB&J and Yogurt on her first day. Cool.
Yaya starts her first day back to ECFE, but you'd think she'd been in school all summer to hear her talk about it. "At my Shkoooool..." Where does she get that little accent?
Life has returned to it's frantic, happy pace and all is right with the world.
The best part, you ask? How excited the girls are to see each other again at the end of the day.

back in the saddle again

This is my classroom. I teach theater to 350 kindergarten - 6th grade students every week in this room. This is one place in my life that I really feel like I make a difference.
Children come into my room everyday from all different places in this world. Some speak English. Some do not. Some have parents who love them and hold them and treat them as if they are precious gifts. Some do not. Some have homes to return to at the end of the day. Some do not. But in my room, they are all important and precious and capable.
This is where my best parenting skills become so important. I firmly encourage and I happily celebrate and I tie shoes and I listen and I praise and I scold and I feel the pain that they feel and I share the joy that they feel and - most importantly - I remind them that they are important in this world and what they do matter and what they say matters and how they feel matters.
And because of all of this, I know that what I do makes a difference in this world. Some people may ask "why do you bother to teach theater to little kids?" I say, "Because we have to."
The children think better because I teach them theater. They are kinder because of it. They see the world differently because of it. They are willing to take more risks because they believe that they can. They know that this whole small world is theirs. They know that their lives which stretch out before them can be wonderful.
They see each other in theater. They see their families in theater. They see themselves in theater. They see me in theater.
The children see the possibilities of this world in theater and that is why I have to teach theater to little kids.
I guess that it should then come as no surprise that I decided to ask to be released from my contract at the Children's Theater. How could I possibly jeopardize my teaching job when I see that I really do make a difference.

beach cake

On Monday, a whole slew of us headed to the beach for a last day of summer celebration. Mama Byrd and Sweet Baby Bird made this beach cake, complete with a sandy shore line, blue-ish water and swimming gummi fish. The cake was a wonderful treat, and the day at the beach was a great celebration. Now, we are back at it again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I have a dilemma of huge proportions! I am flummoxed. I am stymied. I don't know how to spell any of those words.
I have been teaching theater for a number of years at a wonderful elementary school in St. Paul. Getting to this point in my teaching career has not been easy. I came into my license in a backwards way - via a portfolio process that is designed to license professionals in their field of expertise. It's a bit like getting your PhD through correspondence courses - a lot of work and you don't know if you've done any of it right until it's all done.

I love my job. I love the kids. I really love that for the first time in some years I have a retirement fund and life insurance and health insurance.... all things that a working actor rarely has. I see my kids on a regular basis - which is what really makes me happy. It's a "normal" life with a pretty solid future.
But, I love the theater thing, too.
Normally, these worlds wouldn't collide and this wouldn't be an issue.

When the CTC called me for an audition, I thought "what the heck. I've got nothing to lose." I auditioned brilliantly because I had no fear, and got the role. Exciting to be back in that world again. Getting this role made me feel... like me again, creative, a risk taker, talented, more than just someone who is needed by lots of small people...
I thought that I could do both. I teach half time and I can leave the school by 11:15 am. Plenty of time in the day to do both the teaching and the acting.
Now I have learned that the CTC is starting rehearsals at 10:00 and if I can't be there then, I can't do the show.
Here's the kicker... I don't know if I care a whole lot. But maybe...
Do I ask my boss for the month of October off so I can rehearse this play? If he says "no," I've got my answer. Not doing the show would make life as we know it a whole lot easier.
I sort of feel like I am letting go of something that has been my dream for so long... I have this inkling that this show might lead to other, better, bigger things. Oh, patootey.
PS. That was sort of stream of consciousness... sorry for the crazy babble. I haven't got this sorted out in my head yet... any help would be great.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

funny man

When Daddyman dove into his 40's, he decided that his "mid-life crisis" would have less to do with fancy cars and fast women (Thank goodness, because I've lost a little speed in my old age.) and it would be more about doing the things that scared the pants off of him.
So, he decided that he would tackle stand-up comedy.
Now, those of you who know this man, know that he is an actor and an improviser - and he is really damned talented. It isn't really a far stretch to find him doing stand-up comedy. And, typical to his nature, he doesn't do anything that he doesn't love to do, but when he finds something that rocks his world he goes all out and gives %100.And so, for the past year or so, Daddyman has been writing like crazy and trying out his material at every damned open mike from here to Texas.
Then this summer, he entered a contest.
His initial foray into this competition was wildly successful. He even received a phone call from the promoters asking if he had really never been paid as a stand-up comedian. Apparently, his performances on their stage was so solid that they couldn't believe that he was a beginner in this torturous world of comedy.
He waited all summer to find out if he had made it into the semi-finals, and - no surprise - he had.
He practiced and worried and tried his material out on everyone in the family. multiple times.
The night came to compete. The original group of competing comics had been reduced from several hundred to 25. Over the course of 5 nights, these comics would compete in small groups. The idea was that the top person from each night would move on to the finals.
Daddyman called/emailed/sent up smoke signals to everyone he knew, and hegave away his all of his comps to fill the house with his friends and family. We cheered and laughed and he did a fantastic job.
But he didn't win his night and he isn't going on to the final round.
He is very sad.
He is still really funny.
I hope that tomorrow he will find his feet again and remember that he is really funny, and some stupid competition that gives a large, boring teenager top billing doesn't know what they've got when he walks onto their stage.
I know that this isn't the end of stand-up for him. I don't know whether I should cheer or cringe. I do know that I am so very proud of him for taking a chance on something that was outside of his box. He wanted to do this, and he did. And it was all him - his ideas, his words, him on stage making people laugh.
He's a great dad and a great husband. He's my best friend in the whole world. He will always make me laugh - even when I am really pissed off! And I love him T.M.D

Saturday, September 1, 2007


When we returned home from our vacation, we were greeted by a stack of catalogs and magazines. I don't know about you, but I honestly love sitting on the front porch and spending the afternoon working my way through each and every one of those periodicals. It's sort of my "re-entry" tradition. Apparently, that passion has worn off on Noni.
This morning, Noni bounced down the stairs and announced that in exactly 2 months it would be her birthday (She is right), and on that day, everyone would be required to wear costumes. (For those of you doing the math, her birthday is Nov 1. The day after Halloween.)
For the past week, she has been pouring through the multitude of costume catalogs that were waiting for us upon our return home. Last year, she was a lady bug. She was really cute. She loved her costume and wore it for several weeks. Since that time, she has declared that she will no longer wear anything pink or "cute." She was only interested in something that was "cool" or black. Currently, she prefers to be naked. (For example, I asked all of the girls to get dressed this morning before I sat down to write this, and she declared that she WAS dressed. She is wearing panties and a sparkling hair clip. Oh dear.)
So this year, after lots and lots of research, she has chosen the slutty wench, the teen prostitute, the sexy mermaid or the nurse.
Oh, for goodness sake. Where does she get the idea that these are appropriate costumes for a 5 year old?! OK don't answer that. I have a very good idea where she is getting that idea - and no, it's not me.
We subscribe to PBS and actually watch it. We don't buy Barbies. I try really hard to buy age appropriate clothing, which is not easy. Where does this come from?!
In our neighborhood, we are already known as the "loud" family and the "family with the naked kids." What will everyone think if I send my 5 year out into the world dressed as a barmaid?
OK, don't answer that either. I know exactly what they will think, and it's not good.