Nov 19 2011

Yay or Nay?

So, tonight there’s a kindergarten party for the parents to get to know each other, hosted by a few families. It’ll be nice. You know, scratch out a name tag, grab a glass of wine, mingle and probably end up migrating toward the people I already know. Problem is, I don’t want to go. I just don’t feel like it. But I feel like I should. And this morning, as I contemplate doing something sweaty that’ll ruin the awesome blowout I got after my hair cut yesterday, I am truly of two minds on this. That, in and of itself is hardly interesting – I’m of two minds about lots of things. The thing is, I used to love these yearly gatherings. I used to organize and host these parent cocktail parties. What happened to me? Here are my two minds, going at it:

Mind 1: I don’t feel like getting gussied up.

Mind 2: Bullshit.

Mind 1: Doctor Dash can’t go. I don’t want to go.

Mind 2: Since when has being solo ever bothered you? You hate to miss a party.

Mind 1: I do hate to miss a party. But this isn’t really a party. It’s a school party.

Mind 2: You love school parties. You might meet some nice cool new people.

Mind 1: I know enough nice cool people. I don’t need anymore friends.

Mind 2: You can never know enough nice cool people and your future BEST friends might be hidden in this kindergarten class.

Mind 1: Doubtful.

Mind 2: You’re an ass.

Mind 1: Possibly.

Mind 2: You know what’s happening don’t you? You’re turning into one of those old parents – one of those old mommies who are just too cool for school.

Mind 1: Possibly.

Mind 2: You’re not that cool.

Mind 1: I’m a little cool.

Mind 2: It’s those young mommies, isn’t it.

Mind 1: Yes. They’re so . . . perky.

Mind 2: And clueless.

Mind 1: And wide-eyed.

Mind 2: And clueless.

Mind 1: And enthusiastic.

Mind 2: And clueless.

Mind 1: And young.

Mind 2: Perhaps this is your opportunity to take them under your wing – be their wise elder.

Mind 1: Comforting.

Mind 2: You can’t avoid them forever, you know.

Mind 1: I can certainly try.DownloadedFile

Sep 30 2011

Kids in Bars

girlsSometimes, when one goes dancing with one’s betties, and the music is really good and the beers are 2 for 1, one loses one wits – a bit – and one leaves without closing out the tab. On Thursday morning I woke with a start. Damn. I was going to have to drive back down to Clubhouse Jager to get my credit card. Big Red, Lunch Lady Rocker Chick and I had gone to Transmission for LLRC’s birthday. I can’t give any details, but fun was had.

Wednesday nights at Jager are, hands down, the happiest place to be in all of the land with DJ Jake Rudh spinning 80’s New Wave and all sorts of lovely music-heads of all ages and stripes geeking out and dancing with wild abandon. Seriously. The moves I can bust out in this environment are high school bedroom mirror material. It is the most free, chill, friendly, goofy scene. My favorites from Wednesday night: a pretty pale girl with a pompadour and a white polka dot dress who did not stop dancing for even one second – formidable!, a tall skinny Tim Burtonesque dude with plaid pants and freaky awesome moves, another tall skinny dude sporting something between a mullet and a rat tail who was way smoother than he should have been, and a foursome of pudgy, gender ambiguous, bespectacled girl/boys.

We don’t, can’t, go to this dance party every week, but once a month is turning into a doable, even dare I say, salutary occurrence. Despite the many PBRs, I wake up with enviable vim and vigor after a night of this. Except that driving back downtown to the scene of my shenanigans with my two little girls in tow to pick up my forgotten credit card seemed like a whole new kind of walk of shame. Unfortunately they don’t open until 4, so I had no choice but to wait until school got out. Damn. I picked Devil Baby and Supergirl up with Foxy Brown in the car, passed back some snacks and vaguely mentioned we had to drive downtown.

Supergirl: Wait. Why do we have to go downtown again?

Me: Forgot my credit card.

Supergirl: Where did you forget it?

Me: That place where I went dancing last night.

Supergirl: Is it a bar?

Me: Yes.

Supergirl: Was there a band?

Me: Nope. Just this great DJ.

Supergirl: How late were you there?

Me: Midnight. [small lie]

Supergirl: Was it fun?

Me: SO fun.

Supergirl: Do you want us to wait in the car?

Me: That would probably be good.

. . . a few moments pass . . .

Supergirl: You know, I’ve always wanted to see the inside of a bar.

. . .

Ten minutes later we’re all inside and I’m paying the tab, having been assured by the lovely redheaded bartender that I was NOT the only one to have forgotten my card last night. Jager looks downright homey in the light of day, with slanting sunlight and the smell of comfort food wafting out of the kitchen. I’m half tempted to stay there for an early dinner with the girls. Supergirl spins on her barstool cooly assessing the hipsters partaking in happy hour and appetizers.

Supergirl: Mom?

Me: Ya?

Supergirl: I just thought of the BEST name for my soccer team!

Me: What?


Me: . . .

We were most definitely NOT staying for dinner.

Aug 19 2011

Happy Birthday Saint James. Eleven.

santibroodingWoah. Eleven! When I look at him, I can totally believe he’s eleven. He looks eleven. What I can’t believe is my eyes, when I look at him. I also can’t believe my hand when he holds it. His hand is suddenly bigger, almost as big as mine. How many times do I have to let go for a moment to measure his fingers up against my own, clasping it again with a sigh. Not bigger than mine. Yet.

This big boy of mine – joyous, independent, curious, complicated and sweet – just keeps getting better. I failed to consider that this would happen. As certain things are lost to the past (wobbly first steps, chubby legs, toothless smiles, baby voices) other things, better things if that’s even possible, are taking their place. A sense of humor, an increasingly complex inner life, a point of view, his own personal taste. There is nothing better on earth than sharing a laugh – a true laugh – with your kid. He’s beyond only laughing at what’s HA HA funny and has a quick eye for the absurd, for the things are funny, but not in an obvious way.

On the threshold of middle school, Saint James is becoming a person with depth and ideas and a way of looking at things that is uniquely his. He’s getting moody and broody, like there’s much more going on than meets the eye. He’s quietly confident, rarely rattled by anything or anyone. What does he know that I don’t? As much as I thought I’d be panicking about this headlong jump in to big boyhood, I have to say that I am fascinated by the way he’s changing on the inside. And hey, I like this kid. Not just love, like. Here’s the litmus test: if we were the same age in college, say, would we have been friends? You tell me. A smart cutie with an easy laugh, a big heart and the confidence to pull off (and he does pull them off) hot pink shades? We would have been thick as thieves.

Happy Birthday, Saint James! I love you, sweetness. But you know that.shades

Jun 28 2011

Birthday Bagels for Doctor Dash

bagelsAdmittedly, this 41st birthday of yours was lost amidst your week of working nights and a whole hell of a lot of soccer. Just like last year. But also, just like last year, our amusing friends manage to contribute a little levity. Oh, Fox, you crack me up.securedownloadDearest Dash, my side kick and fave man on earth: Happy muted, tainted-by-work, birthday. We appreciate every thing you do for us and we love you, you sweet, sweet mofo.


Jun 26 2011

Pride, baby!

equalIn light of New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage a couple days ago, I was feeling extra frothy to get down to the Twin Cities Pride Parade today. As expected, it was an exuberant, silly, happy, naughty love fest. I saw all manner of fabulous drag queens working it out in their fanciest Sunday frippery, old lady lesbians dancing with fluttering fans, guys in black latex kilts and dog collars, a cute and burly rugby team, a group of marching gay Hmong teens, the Minnesota Roller Girls in the flesh, a couple dudes on stilts, rescued pitbulls in tutus and my favorite moment: the mayor, in his little aqua polo shirt, riding on the back of one bad-ass mama’s motorcycle, leading the Dykes on Bikes motorcade.

Devil Baby and I scored a primo spot right across from the Saloon where we got to shake it to the blaring dance music while we watched for Supergirl and Saint James to march by. Yes, they got to march – and I must say I got a little misty seeing them and their buddies bedecked in rainbow tie dye shirts (from Carondelet Catholic School, ironically) and sparkly beads, collecting candy and waving to the crowd like they’ve been supporting gay rights their whole lives.

In fact, they were completely flummoxed by the notion that gays aren’t allowed to get married in Minnesota. They just couldn’t understand why, and Saint James was all about  finding the loopholes, asking if a couple from Minnesota could go to New York on vacation, get married there and just come back here to live. They get it and if other kids their age get it, then there is hope that we are heading in the right direction.

As much as there is some serious flamboyance at this parade, I loved being there with my kids. It’s sort of a no-brainer from an entertainment standpoint, with the feathers and the glitter and the rainbows and the dancing! Those creaky old vets from the 4th of July parades ain’t got nothing on a marching band playing Born This Way. Afterwards, Supergirl was tittering into her hands as she told me about the guy who was naked but for a well-placed fig leaf. So she saw some buns, so what? Nothing wrong with an occasional bun sighting, I say.

It all boils down to this: different strokes for different folks – and the sooner we all understand and embrace that, the better off we’ll all be.

For some cool shots after the NY decision, check out this NY Times slideshow. And remember these gals? I wonder what they’re doing today?

Jun 13 2011

The Big FIVE!!! Happy Birthday Sweet Devil Baby!

montiDevil Baby is FIVE and I feel like I’ve been hit by a falling piano. I can’t believe it. I simply cannot believe it. My baby is five. I am now standing on a new shore, looking back at the other shore, panting, dripping, not sure how I actually made it here, and not quite ready to turn around and look at the new terrain that awaits me. This feels big.

Not only is she going from baby to full-on girl, but our family is stepping into a new phase altogether: all of our kids are now “school age.” Hell, this fall we’ll even have a middle schooler! Gasp! As a mother, and a mother of this particular girl, I feel like we have crossed hot deserts, climbed ragged mountains and forded angry rivers together. She was a tough one. She would not be named Devil Baby on this blog had she not been. We struggled, we cried, we ranted and railed but I am here to say that we made it. She is officially what I would characterize as a good little girl – made of sugar and spice and everything nice (and a large dose of sass).

She’s five, which is a truly magical age, but in keeping with her extreme nature, she has taken five to a new level even though she’s only been five for a couple days. Lately, when someone new is around or she knows she’s being watched, she goes into what I call “child actor mode”. She gets really perky and loud, like one of the orphans in the Broadway Musical, Annie. It’s like she’s the child actor version of being five – extra sweet, extra happy, extra chatty. But it’s the real deal with Devil Baby. She is feeling the five thing. Boy, is she feeling it. She is five with a vengeance. Five with style. Five with jazz hands and Charleston kicks.

She is thoughtful, helpful, curious and most of all, hilarious. Oh, how she makes us laugh. She is dramatic and girlie, free in her body and light on her feet. Her pre-school teachers tell me she’s unflaggingly polite (child actor mode?). Her legs have doubled in length in the last year and I can’t tear my eyes away from her lithe little frame when she dances or rides a scooter or climbs a fence or jumps off the diving board. She feels her emotions strongly and makes sure we do too. Like her sister, she chafes at having to be alone or hang around the house. Rest time is unnecessary, down time is a bore. She loves to be with people, to play, to be out in the world. This girl is ready to fly.

And me? I look at her and feel a crushing, panicky heartachey kind of love, because if she and I got to 5 and it felt this quick when I know it was that hard, then how is the rest going to go? How do I slow this down? Now that we’ve gotten to our sweet spot, how do I slow this down?

Sweet Devil Baby – my love, my greatest challenge to date. We’ve come a long way, baby. You are truly one of a kind. You have kept me on my toes, on the edge and in tune with every emotion in my grab bag for five years. At your core you are willful. At your core you are kind. You are a treasure and I cannot wait to see what you do, where you go, who you become.

My sweet, sweet baby. My sweet, sweet girl. Happy Birthday and thank you, my little Devil Baby, for being exactly as you are.

May 10 2011

Mama’s Day

mumI hope all my mommy friends out there had a fabulous day yesterday. Mine was busy, filled with my children, who, God bless their hearts, were trying really hard to be good. Doctor Dash is working nights right now, so most of the day, we were on our own. At one point in the morning, after the chitlins had loved me up with hugs and kisses and little wrapped presents of their own creation and I had whipped up blueberry pancakes and Canadian bacon for all to celebrate, the three of them sat down at the dining room table to draw and color. They were laughing and chatting, heads bent to their papers, passing each other markers with pleases and thank-yous. I’m not gonna lie, it was a little freaky. It was as if by some secret prior understanding, they had agreed to keep themselves busy AND get along and set to it right after breakfast. I passed by once. Passed by again. They didn’t seem to notice my stares of incredulity, so I grabbed a cup of coffee and the NY Times and high-tailed it to the sunroom where I got a rare and lovely half hour of paper time. The spell was broken when they barged in to show me their work, so the girls and I took a walk to the store to buy steaks for dinner (because what else would this mama want to eat on HER day?). We stopped by Red Vogue and Salt & Pepper’s for a long overdue chat on our way home.

By twelve thirty, it was time to head out to Supergirl’s soccer game. It  rained a warm rain, forcing Saint James and Devil Baby to huddle with me under the umbrella, so no complaints. As if on cue, to make me proud as a peacock, Supergirl scored three goals and got the MVP award from the other team’s coach. Man, her face as she jogged off the field towards us at the end of the game was priceless – all smiles and wet plastered hair – she looked like the happiest drowned rat in the history of drowned rats. Remember last year when she started traveling soccer and I was having my girl power moment? Well, it all still holds. I re-read those couple posts the other day and as I was watching her get carried around piggy-back style after the game by another girl, both of them wet, muddy and jubilant, I felt like all is as it should be. That messy, joyous, well-earned victory is exactly what these little girls need. And the mamas on the sidelines couldn’t have been happier after an hour in the pouring rain. It was the essence of vicarious happiness for us.

After a lazy afternoon and a yummy dinner, we all walked to the lake and hung out at the beach. The sun was back out, just in time to scatter its fading tangerine light over everything. Turns out our whole family can fit up on the lifeguard platform at the same time. I swear, every time I clamber up there, I feel like a teenager. The kids climbed trees, Dash and I watched the water and the planes. I don’t know what we talked about or whether we talked at all. It was just nice to sit together on a perch with our brood scampering around below. On the way home, Devil Baby spotted two owls in a tree, which is cause for major excitement in this family.

sIt occurs to me that Mother’s Day, like mothering, is an ever changing thing. As a family, we don’t have any established traditions, aside from being together and being outside (and apparently, Dash browbeating the kids not to fight). I like keeping it loose, deciding on a whim what feels like fun. On our walk in the morning I saw tons of dads out with babies and toddlers, no doubt giving their wives a badly needed break. I’m not saying I never need a break, but I think I’m past the years of needing a break on Mother’s Day. My kids no longer physically exhaust me. I’m not chasing and wiping and nursing anymore. I don’t have kids physically attached to me for a major portion of the day. They are most definitely and completely other.

Now, more than ever, I feel like I’m in the gravy years of parenting. My kids actually WANT to be with me and I with them. Soon that will change, and then, when they’re sullen teens, we will force them to be with me on Mother’s Day because it’s the right thing to do. And what of our mothers, I wonder? The mothers whose children are grown, whose children have families of their own? I wonder what it feels like for my mother and my mother-in-law on Mother’s Day. Many of their children don’t live near them and the most they can expect is a phone call on this day. And yet, without them, none of what we have would even exist. Do they feel longing, for the years gone by? Do they feel a bit of the vicarious happiness I felt at Supergirl’s soccer game – only deeper and more well-deserved? Bittersweet, I imagine.

We will all be there some day, on a different point of the arc of motherhood. Bittersweet, indeed.

So, happy happy Mother’s Day to the brand spanking new mamas (Delicious Apple, I’m looking at you!), to the seasoned mamas (all my dear friends, you know who you are) and especially to the mama who gave me Doctor Dash and the mama who gave me my life, my self, my know-how.  You both deserve all the love, gratitude and smooches in the world, because as you well know, and as I’m in the process of discovering, this motherhood gig – it ain’t easy!

Apr 23 2011

Crazy Hair Day

santiI never particularly thought I’d say this, but damn! my boy looks handsome in a mohawk! He reminds me of a British soccer hooligan, and I guess I have a thing for British soccer hooligans. Actually, any hooligans will do. We sprayed it hot pink and off to school he went for crazy hair day looking pretty rad, if you ask me. If my family tuned into this blog on a regular basis, you might hear eeking and gasping all the way from Florida right about now. My sister is getting married on Saturday and no, da hawk will not be in attendance. Saint James will be wearing searsucker and a hot pink bowtie (per his request), because he’s a bit of a dandy this one. Go figure. As unassuming as he is, he sure doesn’t mind being looked at. So we’re off to the airport now, freshly spiked and pinked, ready to freak out the grandmothers, get a little sun, meet our new bebe girl niece, kick it up with our families and hijack the DJ next Saturday night for some fresh dancin’. I’m one happy mama right about now. Catch you all on the flip side!

Apr 21 2011

Fairy Tale

palmsOnce upon a time there lived a girl who had never been to Vegas. She considered herself lucky at life, but unlucky at games of chance and was therefor uninterested in what Vegas had to offer.

And then one day she went.mandalay bay

She knew that going anywhere (even Siberia or Peoria) with her posse of 8 maidens would be a good time, yet she was still surprised. And. Yet. Still.coronas

She danced so much and laughed so hard that now she wants to move to Vegas, except for the fact that she’d be dead of exhaustion within the week.moroccanbride

Everywhere she went, day or night, she was wrapped up in the booming soundtrack of her favorite dance tunes, except for that one lounge by that one door where the Sinatra impersonator wooed them in with “My Way” and sent them off with “Free Bird”. Sinatra and Skynyrd? Is that even possible? Is that even legal?shoes

Part Oz, part Disney World, part heaven, part Hades, the town pulsed like some kind of organism. From time to time, it revealed bits of darkness and melancholy that made the girl turn and pause for but a moment, and then run to catch up with her friends. She marveled that a place could be so tacky and yet so gorgeous. One second she was oggling the sad sacks at the slot machines with fluoresent drinks growing warm in oversized beakers, or the showgirls making eyes at the wolves, wondering where their mothers were and the next her hands were itching to touch the art, plunge into the fountains, caress the Jurassic palm fronds – to see if they were real.

Was any of it real? She was intrigued by the poetic madness, the collective understanding, the endless, feckless revelry. What a slice of life, she kept muttering, not sure anymore if she was even saying it out loud.statue

But mostly, and most wonderfully, the girl felt that she and her maidens had finally met their match. As long, hard, loud, and wild as they wanted to rollick – as much as they wanted to dance and drink and laugh and carouse, Vegas rose up like a chivalrous and indulgent knight  (or cowboy) to make it happen. In this oasis of over-the-top, nothing they could do was over-the-top. There was no question of turning in early. There were dragons to be slayed. And slayed they were.

Or at least she thinks so.painted-hottie

Did any of that happen? Does Vegas even exist?pyramidOnly one way to find out.

Mar 17 2011

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

guinnessI’ve posted a recipe for Irish Rebel Stew over at Simple Good and Tasty. It’s made with beef and Guinness and it’s delicious. Of course. How could it not be? Beef? Beer? Come on. Speaking of beer, my plans for St. Paul shenanigans with da girls had to be cancelled for today – this glorious, sunny, warm, perfect St. Patrick’s Day. Alas. Doctor Dash is coming off a week of nights, so a few beers might be in order this evening. Hope you all get a little green today, in whatever form that takes!

Feb 15 2011


candy_heartsLast night Doctor Dash got home from work and the following conversation ensued:

DD: Saw your present!

Me: Oh ya! Do you like it?

DD: Well, is it printed on a thong or something?

Not only is that totally funny to me, I think it’s a fabulous idea. Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers! Hilarious.

Dash and I had a special Valentine’s din with our sweetie-pie brood. I made sure to stick to the big faves: rib eye steak with red chimichurri sauce, Caesar salad, potatoes roasted in olive oil and sea salt, a crispy baguette and brownies. That dinner, simply, is my way of saying to my family: I love you. I love to feed you. I want you to chow until your little bellies are distended. IloveyouIloveyouIloveyou.

Tonight is part two of our Valentine celebration (because why not milk it?) and the dashing Dash and I have gotten a sitter so we can go see the Illusionist and then (fingers crossed) grab a couple of seats at the bar at La Grassa for a late night bite. I’m really excited for this movie – it’s by Sylvain Chomet, the same guy who did The Triplets of Belleville which completely enchanted both us back in the day. Here’s to long, drawn-out and delicious Valentines plans. YouTube Preview Image

Feb 14 2011

Sweet Valentine


Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovers out there. And, of course, to mine. This will be my Valentine’s present to Doctor Dash. Unorthodox, admittedly, to post before purchasing, but what can I say? It gets the job done, no? What a cute print! And where to hang it? Mudroom? Bedroom? I suppose we’ll decide together.


Dec 25 2010

Happy Birthday, Supergirl!

loubdayI imagine most parents hope their kids will turn out to be better people than they are – that any weakness or shortfalls we see in ourselves will be smoothed over and overcome by our progeny. I never really thought about it until I had a kid who consistently blows me away with an optimism, a kindness, an energy, a fearlessness and an ease that I don’t recognize in myself. Many days, I am awestruck by my Supergirl. I think, how can this girl be mine? How can I take a page out of her book? I don’t know anyone who spends any amount of time with her, who doesn’t kinda sorta fall in love with her. She’s just a cool little chick – as cool as they come, but as sweet as the day is long which is why she’s so damn irresistible.

To my intrepid little tomboy, wise and confident and brimming with joy: Happy Eighth Birthday, my love. You will always and forever be my best Christmas present ever. I love you more than words can say.

Dec 24 2010

Merry Christmas

snowBy some miracle, I have found a few minutes to myself. And by a few minutes, I really do mean a few minutes. Soon Doctor Dash and the kids will stomp through the back door and I’ll jump up to find out how Dash fared on his first ski outing in 25 years. Devil Baby will inevitably yell I’m doooo oooone! from the toilet in her melodious husky voice. I don’t have time for this. I have presents to wrap and chimichuri to make. I could be setting the table for tonight or even folding the heaping basket of clean laundry lurking in the basement. But I’ve just got this glowy peaceful feeling in my chest and I want to catch it.

A few days ago a dear friend of mine handed me three knitted washcloths tied up with a ribbon when they came over for dinner. I clutched them to my chest because I knew exactly what they were. Her mother, suffering from severe memory loss, knits and knits, cranking out five washcloths every day. If my friend’s mom is anything like my friend, I know she must find much peace and comfort in the doing – allowing her fingers to be active and completing something tangible when every thing else might seem confusing or muted. They are so very beautiful and I’m touched and honored to have them since I know it’s not easy for my friend to give them up. The next morning I laid them out on the dining room table while the kids were having breakfast and I my coffee. I couldn’t help touching them, admiring the neat stitches and rereading the stunning Maya Angelou quote attached to the ribbon: . . . people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel . . .

My kids were very curious, wanting to know the story, if she could recognize anyone, who got her the yarn etc. and took turns checking out the washcloths, each handling them exactly as I might have expected them to. Saint James tossed it in the air and caught it a few times, like a pizza, Supergirl bent her head to study the stitching, Devil Baby rubbed it on her face and then put one on her head like a beret. Handmade objects have a special magic anyway, but so much more when they are an actual physical embodiment of a mind that has been plunged into mystery. They are little pieces of my friend’s mom and I can’t help thinking she is continuing her narrative, in her way, stitch by stitch, row by row, and sending it out into the world.

We all know sometimes things are so beautiful it hurts: a sunset, the face of a lover or a child in a certain light, snow coated branches, a song. I wonder if the opposite is true? That sometimes things hurt so much they become beautiful. I don’t know the answer to that. Perhaps that would be too convenient. But it is what I wonder as I look at my three perfect washcloths.

Merry Christmas, my friends. Hold your loved ones close and enjoy this beautiful holiday weekend.

Dec 10 2010

Empanadas, baby!

empanadaI posted an article over at Simple Good and Tasty which contains my super secret recipe for empanadas and a bit of insight into the Argentine psyche. Hope everyone is staying warm and dry – and most importantly, SANE!

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