Dec 21 2014

On Peevish


For a long time now, I’ve been thinking it may be time for me to wrap up Peevish Mama. But I need to wrap it with the tenderness and attention it deserves rather than let it snuff out in a whimper of neglect.

After all, this blog allowed me to keep my sanity through the toddler/little kid time of life – years which ironically hand you the most glorious volume of baby fat and kissable cheeks with a hearty side of monotony, busy-ness and loneliness. This blog gave me a place to think and create and breathe when my life was all about the doing. Wiping butts, reading cardboard books with less than five word on a page, ripping turkey slices into ragged pieces to be scooped up by fat little fingers off a plastic yellow highchair tray.

It allowed me to, quite literally, create a new identity for myself. Here I could tell the truth. I could vent. I could be utterly and unequivocally peevish. It was a secret for a long time, so I was free. Also, through many years and many more posts and even more words, I began to call myself a writer. At the beginning, talking about this blog brought a flush of mortification to my cheeks. How dare I presume? What a poser. Who the fuck cares what I’ve typed? And now I can say it with a straight face: I’m a writer. I’m a writer in my heart. I experience my life through words. I take things in and my brain starts to put letters together – in order to enjoy, to understand, to remember. When I think, when I write, I weave long strands that have their unique tempo and timber, they might be studded with profanity – hyperbolic and salty, cynical and romantic. Always wordy, much too wordy. But my wordy.

My words.

This blog got me friends. It got me writing jobs. Because of it I received some of the sweetest and most heartfelt tentacles of gratitude and support from people. When someone tells you they love your writing they are telling you they love your innards, your thoughts, your very soul. At least that’s what I hear. Because this blog is my innards. It is my thoughts and my soul. Hearing that something I write resonates, that it lingers or amuses, is the highest compliment. More humbling and beautiful than almost any other thing.

I’ve got some things left to say through Peevish Mama. For Peevish Mama.

Aug 25 2013

How to Eat an Elephant

skyOne bite at a time. Or so they say.

This poor neglected blog is feeling like an elephant lately. Every time I have the shimmer to write something down, it just feels unwieldy. So much time has gone by, too many things have happened. I just haven’t had time this summer, between the swims and drives and music and family and friends, to write about any of it. Or, more truthfully, I didn’t make time. I’ve been feeling like I don’t need this blog like I used to and so I grapple with what that means for peevish mama the blog as well as peevish mama the person.

For whatever reason, whether it be older kids, busier schedule, actual paying freelance writing, richer friendships or the instant gratification of sharing on instagram, I don’t have the yen to vent as much on these pages. And without the peevishness, what is there? Am I losing my edge? Shit, man, too much good stuff, too much nice and this is just another boring mommy blog that’ll make ya barf. Make me barf. I’m not necessarily feeling less peevish, but I’m generally feeling as if, maybe, good thoughts will give way to good words which in turn give way to good living. And if I had to sum up the very thing I’m after these days, it’s exactly that: good living.

Sometimes you just have to live without writing about it because that’s what feels right.

Also, as the kids get older I feel like I need to tread more carefully with respect to what I write about. They are people now. Real people. One of them is even a teenager as of four days ago, and with that I feel like he deserves some modicum of privacy. My peeps don’t need me publicly working out all that there is to work out as we wade into these very cool and interesting but potentially fraught and intense years. The stakes are higher now. The stuff we’re dealing with isn’t as simple as potty training, snacks and fiendishly stubborn toddlers. Now we deal in character and morality, life’s dreams and matters of the heart. All good, but it’s bigger – not something I can just toss off like I used to.

So how’s that for a whole steaming load of excuses? Pretty good, eh?

Last night, I got a bit of shizz for being such a blogger bum from my friends Lady Tabouli and Sporty Spice. But, ever the supporters of my words, they gently prodded me to pick up the thread and get back to it. I may not need this blog like I used to, but I love this blog as much as I ever have – simply because it turned me into a writer and is the place where I have chosen to stash many of our family memories over the last four-ish(!)  years. And honestly, enough of you have given enough of a damn to come back to roost from time to time, and that, my friends, makes it very very worth it.


I’ll start.

One bite at a time.

Oct 9 2012

Thank You Notes

I love this project by Leah Dieterich called thxthxthx. She calls it a daily exercise in gratitude and her ability to siphon out the smallest and most inconsequential things and moments worthy of thanks is just genius. I couldn’t stop reading. It’s funny, touching, silly, deep and honest all at once.


Lovely. And just too tempting to pipe in.

Dear Rain:

Thanks showing up and giving me permission to hole up inside without feeling guilty. Plus, you smell awesome.



Dear Coffee:

Even though I ignore you the rest of the day, you are consistently faithful to me in the morning and for that I thank you. You wake me up, you make me happy and most of all, you make me feel super industrious. Together we get the shit done that I would never have the motivation to do later in the day. You rock.



Dear Vino Blanco and iTunes:

I don’t think I could cook dinner night after night without you – especially you, iTunes. My kitchen would be a lonely place without you both.

Your friend,


Dear Devil Baby:

Thank you for being the first of my kids to indulge my love of Annie the Musical. Watching you concentrate with your ears to learn the words to Tomorrow almost made me cry. Hearing you riff and scat your own version while you put toothpaste on your toothbrush was even better. I hope you always find a way to make music.

All of my love,


Dear October:

Thank you for Halloween and harvest moons. Everyone loves September, but I love you because you are a little dark.



Dear Sugar Maple that I See Every Morning:

You are a stunner. Not sure if anyone has ever told you that, but oh.



Jul 4 2012

Embracing an Ordinary Life

facesSomewhere along the line, it seems, we all put bumper stickers on our minivans that say Extraordinary or Bust. At least, that’s what this NY Times article posits. As a society, we are so fixated on success and accolades, on concrete, external and preferably loud and bedazzled celebrations of our (and our children’s) accomplishments, that we’ve forgotten what it means to live an ordinary, magical life. Everyone is a genius who is destined for greatness. Except that’s not true. So why not step into that chasm and live there, and live there well?

As someone who started out fully outfitted in the trappings of success, including the trim little lawyer suits, and dropped out, I HAVE to believe that the small and ordinary things I do for my family mean something. This blog is an attempt to find weight and truth in the things that don’t end up on a resume, that don’t get me a pat on the back from a partner in my law office, that don’t bring me money.

But even I, who has every reason to try to redefine success for myself, fall short when I start to feel like I’ve fallen short. Even I, whose last shred of self worth is tied up in this, does not know how to answer this simple question: Does she live up to her potential? Depends who you ask, I suppose. But certainly, don’t ask me.

I love this article and that someone is saying hey, there’s more to life . . .

I love the idea that my soups and sauces and swims count for something. I love that my kids know that I do serious food shopping at the farmers market, that before age 12, they know about fresh eggs and delight at the sight of a bright orange yolk. That’s because of me and it is not nothing. I may not be closing multimillion dollar deals any more, but I have a brood of food lovers, readers, dancers, swimmers and laughers. And it’s because of me.

Right here, right now, riding this jittery wave of my morning coffee, I’m taking credit. In this moment, I’m not going to be shy about not “doing” anything in the conventional sense. I’m taking back the little stuff and holding it high in the air like a banner.

Because it matters. It has to.

Feb 16 2012

Poor Peevish

MontiPoor, poor peevish, I feel like I’ve been neglecting you in favor of writing about soup and more insultingly, your sexier, flashier cousin Spectacular Bitch.

It’s going to take me a little while to figure out this writing gig. Traditionally, I have not been a big computer person. I never got sucked into the hours of surfing the web that gripped so many of us in the early nineties and never let go. At work, I’d call my mom or a friend or page through a fashion magazine if I needed a break. I never turned on the computer at night unless I needed to check the movie times. I was blissfully free and I didn’t even know it.

How times have changed. I’m juggling just a few different writing projects, but I find myself on-line, or at least on-laptop for WAY more time than I’m used to. And it doesn’t feel good in my body. I feel cloudy, groggy and all around nasty. I don’t like sitting still. I don’t like staring at a screen. I don’t like feeling gross.

I suppose I should have thought about this before I started writing. But here’s the thing. I love to write. I love this little community of readers. And peevish mama is very, very special to me.

With your patient and willing ear, you helped me create a habit of writing things down. This is a place where I can stash my thoughts and the shiny pebbles that I happened to find scattered around in my real or virtual life. It’s a place where I can work through the highs and lows of parenting a young family and of being this very strange age that looks like adulthood but feels like adolescence.

I’ve hit rough patches and lean patches and cuckoo-in-my head patches with peevish mama before, and I was able to write myself through. Maybe I can do it one more time.

So hang with me while I figure myself out. Yet again.

Feb 12 2012

Psssst . . .

coachellaspectacularbitchesCat’s out of the bag!

Oct 13 2011

Ugly Ass Tomatoes

julietWhen someone asks me why I continue to write for Simple Good and Tasty, I’ve got lots of reasons, but one of the big ones is that my editors have always been awesome. I wrote a post about roasting ugly ass tomatoes for soup and I wasn’t sure whether that was going to fly. It flew and it makes me chuckle to have written what is by all other accounts a straight piece on using up late season tomatoes with the term ugly ass sprinkled throughout. Like a little kid who just got away with something, it just kind of makes me happy. I love all words equally, and sometimes those black sheep are just what you need to make a point.

Apr 5 2011

Ever feel like this?

YouTube Preview Image

Oh, this made me chuckle, but, then again, I have a serious weak spot for Stuey. I might consider having another child if I were guaranteed that he would emerge with a British accent, football shaped head and red overalls. I’m thinking with proper placement during labor, that head might actually be quite easy on the cashoosha.

Incidentally, I found this over here, where I had gone out of green-eyed curiousity because this lady has written a book called Got Milf? The Modern Mom’s Guide to Feeling Fabulous, Looking Great and Rocking a Minivan. Of course the title alone killed me because WHY WHY WHY didn’t I think of that first? GAH!!! I would hate her if she weren’t so absolutely adorable. And funny. Grrr.

Mar 28 2011

Introducing Lil’ Ziggy, G Dog and TNT

posseI am so amused. Just as I was fretting about my kids not knowing how to entertain themselves, Saint James and the neighbor boys went on a rap writing rampage. They’ve got 12 songs written and have recorded two. Of course I’m biased, but I think they’re quite good. To the extent rap is a medium for telling your story or a fantasy version of your story, I’d say this is exactly what Saint James, er, Lil’ Ziggy and his posse are doing. They have each written their share of songs, they feature each other and provide the hooks for each other. It’s all very funny and extremely cute. In his song, Mercy, Lil’ Ziggy goes through a long list of mahem caused by the boys, including letting loose, riding a moose, playing ping pong and getting a deuce, spraying graffiti on someone’s hood and stealing fire wood and then the refrain, sung in a high falsetto, imploring the cops: You see those storm clouds above, asking for bloooood, all we want it mercy. Just give us some mercy mercy mercy. Tonight Tonight.

The last verse:

Bring it down!

Officers came said we had one last chance

We don’t care, cuz it’s not fair

We’re not done, let’s have some fun

Up till three hours past one

We put foam in a jacoozi (sic) then everyone else went snoozy

We posted on youtube, got a million views

We were rude, but we don’t regret it cuz we got all the credit.

No one came to edit, they all just fed it.

See? That’s some story telling right there. No one came to edit, they all just fed it? I love that! If you don’t know my son, you’d probably be alarmed by this, but honestly, he’s a gentle guy. Last night we were lolling on his bed while Doctor Dash read the raps out loud and Saint James was just laughing and laughing. I have no doubt he knows the difference between right and wrong –  understands that there’s quite a bit of terrain between a yarn and the truth. And to me, that wild acreage is a pretty fun place to play.

Mar 11 2011

I do know how.

My HipstaPrint 0-1The Summer Day – Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan,  and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention,  how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me,  what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I love this poem. It’s so simple. I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. But I do know how to pay attention. I see a pink cheek, small freshly painted blue nails and the twist of  a braid on a late winter’s day and I know to pause and take note.

Is this what I’m supposed to be doing with my one wild and precious life?

I think so.

What will she do with her one wild and precious life?

To ponder that exquisite question too closely or for too long is like staring into the sun. Better, for now, to stick with my moments.

Mar 3 2011


buildingsI love it when Doctor Dash doodles. He never uses good paper – only wrinkled scraps and the backs of kids’ old worksheets. They’re intriguing to me – a peek into a part of his mind he doesn’t get to use very much. Sometimes in the daily grind, I forget that this person I live with is actually quite creative, fanciful and a bit of a dreamer. He seems drawn to magical floating cities with gravity defying citizenry and eccentric, vaguely Latin dudes with a story to tell. At least in his latest trail of paper crumbs. He’s probably going to be slightly embarrassed by this, but whatevs – it’s my blog. And I think they’re cool.

senor shakeitbandolerojumpers

Jan 8 2011

Six Word Stories

122810This is such a cool project! Basically, it’s a story in six words (really, that’s all it takes), which is then further brought to life by a designer. Van Horgen, a Saint Paul copywriter, and Anne Ulku, a Minneapolis graphic designer managed to do one story every day last year and they are just awesome. Some are funny, some are sad, some are the God awful truth, some are swoony and romantic. They were inspired by Ernest Hemingway, who, legend has it, considered his best six word story to be: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Stunning, right? Now they’ve started a new site inviting other writer designer teams to send in stories. Check them out. Man, does this get my juices flowing.

Pushes wheelchair, sometimes sits to rest. (If you live near me, you know who I’m talking about!)

A cardinal, blood splotch in snow. (Meh)

My children take my breath away.

You see the mood? Go away.

Local mother felled by a louse.

Sometimes, bad is good for you.

If looks could kill, I’d kill.

OK, so I need more practice.

It’s harder than it looks! Here are a few from Van and Anne’s site:



Aug 7 2010

All’s well in summerland

flowers2So, I’d say it took me until about mid-July to hit my stride this summer. It took that long to find a way to be at peace with the level of activity (high), to embrace the heat and sweatiness of summer (moderate), to figure out a way to carve out a wee bit of time on my own (low). I figured out a few things as I was racing around in the minivan or cooling my heels at the pool, just in time for hazy, lazy August.

First of all, I need to consolidate these kids next summer. Getting them each to their own separate activities is hair raising and severely taxing on my temporal and spacial reasoning skills. So next year, for one week, they’ll all be doing ONE camp in ONE place. Even if they all have to go to a My Little Pony camp at Southwest High, I will kill 3 birds with one stone if it’s the last thing I do.

I also realized I don’t always have to go somewhere. I’m an out-of-the-house kinda girl. I never ever ever ever manage to just hang at home (which, I think, goes a long way toward explaining why the syrup bottle is still on the dining room table at 5:00 in the evening.) Most of the time we’ve got somewhere to go, but just as often, the exodus, the springing forth into the world, it’s completely self imposed by the ants in the pants mother who pretends her kids have ants in their pants and that’s why she’s dragging them out of the house all the time when really, let’s be honest, she’s totally the one with the ants in her pants.

Rain is good. Rain forces us to stay put and catch our breath. It soothes our parched nerves and grass. I love rain in the summer – even if it does catch me with all my beach towels hanging out to dry (grrr).

Dinner can be bread and cheese. We have a strange air conditioning system that cools half the house – a Phantom of the Opera air conditioner, if you will (but hopefully you won’t because that is terrible. Apologies!) Fortunately the half with air includes Dash and my bedroom. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the kitchen. And most of the time, we don’t even bother with it during the day since we’re not home, so hanging out in my steamy kitchen is not high on the list of things I like to do. I really haven’t been cooking as much as assembling meals this summer and you know what? That works just fine.

famI can’t write for shit in the summer. I just have to accept it. It’s as if my words are stuck in a big pot of warm honey and pulling them out is too messy and laborious an endeavor to attempt. I’m busy, yes, but also, I may be getting my fill of words out in the world. Catching up with our families in Michigan and Massachusetts, talking, talking, chatting with neighbors at a block party, friends at the farmers market, bored ladies at the pool, people standing with their bikes waiting for the light to change, talking, talking, talking. We are out of hibernation for a few shimmering months and there is much doing to be done. Our heavy humid air is thick with words, more than usual, and that’s enough for me right now.

Summer is flying, just like I knew it would, just as it always does. Every day, I will notice something, really notice something, in an montiboots effort to slow it down. This morning. Devil Baby. Tousled swimming pool bed hair, eyes still puffy from a heavy summer sleep, puts on her rainboots and contemplates saving her forgotten stuffed dog and blankie from the rain. I watch her realize and accept. It’s too late.

May 13 2010

My very first profile!

allpresmenI wrote an article over at Simple Good and Tasty about local legend and veggie queen, Jenny Breen. It was my first interview and I got to do stuff like smack a tape recorder on the table with an arch MAY I? No, I didn’t really do that. But I did say, Relax, honey, we’re off the record. Actually, I didn’t say that either. But I did bang away on a type writer, squinting through the smoke roiling off the cigarette dangling from my mouth. OK, not that either. I didn’t get to protect my sources, wear a trench coat, meet anyone in a dark bar, or flirt with a handsome weathered detective who’s seen it all, yet maintains a heart of gold. I didn’t even get to roll up my shirt sleeves. I guess I’ve seen too many movies.

May 1 2010

Can we tawk?

I’m gonna level with you. I’m having some angst about this blog. I know. Again. Can you tell? Can you sense my floundering? Because I can sense you sensing my floundering – shaking your head and tsking sympathetically, murmuring poor, poor Peevish as you  x out of the site. I feel like it’s so obvious that I need to address it, lay my cards on the table.

It boils down to this: I’m just not feeling it. I’m not finding the desire or fodder for posting with any regularity anymore. And that would all be fine and good, except that it makes me sad and it makes me anxious. By some miracle, I seem to have cobbled together a real, true readership. You all. All you. You sexy beasts. Man oh man, would I love to collect all of you lovelies in a sunny field somewhere with beer and music and mushrooms and just talk and dance and play! Did I just write mushrooms? Heh, heh, er, ahem, cough, cough. See, that leads me to my next point which is the WHY of it all? Why the angst?

As usual, I have been cogitating on the subject for a long string of days and I have a few theories. First, my other food writing gig kind of forced me out of the closet with regard to this blog. I thought about keeping them separate, but the truth is, my only qualifications for getting that gig was this gig. Sadly, commercial real estate law does not a food writer make. Either does a loopy blog, but at least it’s closer. As much as I try not to think about it, there are all sorts of new people reading Peevish Mama, namely my lovely parents and in-laws and, possibly even some of their friends. Helloooo there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled to include them in what has become a much bigger piece of my life than I ever imagined when I began almost two years ago. The problem is that I find myself being more careful about what I write, more critical. And careful and critical are not, when all is said and done, a place from which I’m inspired to write.

Old habits die hard and even though I’m walking up the steps to 40’s front door, I still feel like a kid and I still, in an old knee-jerk visceral way, feel the need to please this generation of folks, hide things from them, skirt around the truth, reveal only the good part of myself. It’s silly. I’m not giving them enough credit for understanding that these are just words, that this is all just venting and processing, light entertainment, silliness. I’m also deceiving myself (especially in the case of my parents) if I pretend that they aren’t already deeply familiar with the mean, dark, naughty, irresponsible, lazy, cynical, ornery aspects of my personality. Who am I kidding, right? And my cursing? No one curses with as much panache as my mother, who at least has the decency to do it in Spanish. When my Peruvian friends blanched at the expletives flying out of that pretty lady’s mouth, I calmly handed them the official line: she grew up with five brothers. That is also the excuse I used to explain my swearing to Supergirl: Chuchi grew up with five brothers. Someday Supergirl will drop an F-bomb, her daughter will call her on it and she will say: Your great grandmother Chuchi grew up with five brothers. All this by way of saying, everyone can handle a little fucking swearing. Moreover, as sweet Nanook pointed out yesterday, most of this is good, happy, goofy stuff. My kids are wild and wonderful and exhausting and we’re all muddling through as best we can, using humor and honesty (and beer and wine and tequila and gin and vodka) as our balm. There’s nothing all that subversive here, as much as I love to believe I’m the picture of urban gansta sophistication. In the end, I’m kinda regular, if a little verbose and neurotic. No surprises here.

Another theory: at this time last year I had had knee surgery and was on crutches and this blog was my life line. For six weeks I wrote ferociously, running far and wide with my thoughts and words, since my legs couldn’t carry me. This spring, right now, I’m just in a moving and doing kind of mood. All the things I didn’t get to do last year, spring cleaning, weeding, cooking, yoga, the soccer jamboree, neighborhood festivals, bike riding, concerts, I want to do now. Sitting and writing just isn’t as appealing as it was when there was a foot of snow on the ground.

Yet another theory: I hate the internet. And by that I mean I love the internet but I don’t want to love the internet. I want to spend less time on my computer, not more, and yet it’s hypocritical to write, to expect others to read, when I don’t want to spend time reading all the other great stuff that is out there. There is some beautiful, funny, compelling writing happening every day and it’s disheartening to realize that most of it will go unread, at least by me. As per theory number 2, there are only so many hours of the day and as of yet, I am unwilling to shift my time and attention away from real books to cyber-prose. So I have to draw the line somewhere. I assume everyone else is feeling the same way, so I figure why keep adding to the noise?

And lastly, I had put a two year collar on this little endeavor, and I’m coming up on two years this Mother’s Day. I wonder if somehow I’m subconsciously letting it go, so it doesn’t feel so wrenching when and if I ultimately do. I had hoped to keep writing for at least two years, but I never thought about abruptly forcing myself to stop after two years. And the truth of the matter is, I’m not ready to stop, hence the angst. OK, scratch this theory. My subconscious is so heavily scrutinized that there’s nothing “sub” about it. It’s highly unlikely my writer’s block has anything to do with this. Yep, scratch this one.

So maybe I keep going, but in some new way that I have yet to figure out. Maybe I take more breaks, do more living with less writing. Maybe I have a little faith that you’ll still visit, even if I’m not doing flips and handstands all the time. Maybe I need a little time to acclimate to my new readers – forget about them a bit, find peace with the prospect of their scratching their chins and wondering: is she serious about wanting to give psychedelic mushrooms to a crowd of people in a field?

None of you will ever know, will you?

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