Jul 23 2009

Saint James:1 – Adenoids:0

We ended up with some adenoid wrestling this summer as I imagined we might. Saint James had his surgery this morning and it went great, although he’s sleeping the deep blue-green sleep of fairy tales right now. I have brought my laptop to Saint James’ quiet, dimly lit room because this is where I want to be. As he snores softly beside me, I can scarcely keep my eyes off him. His lips are still stained purple from the popsicle he had in post-op. But here he is. On the other side of the surgery, the anesthesia. Tanned, relaxed, sleeping soundly under his plaid sheets. The moment I’ve been longing for all summer. 

There is nothing more humbling, more perspective focusing, than taking your child in for a minor surgery. When Saint James was two he had to have a small dermoid cyst removed from the delicate pillow of flesh between his eyebrow and the outside corner of his eye. We knew it was benign, but it was the type of cyst that could get messy if it ever got hit and burst. (Incidentally, he’s gotten bonked in that exact spot at least three times since the surgery, and every time, I thank my lucky stars we had it removed). I was mere weeks from giving birth to Supergirl and a basket case about sending my baby off to surgery. I was boohooing in the waiting room with Dash, indulging my fears and worries, wallowing in the drama, when I noticed a big family camped out in the corner. They had a cooler with a bunch of food and the grandma was doling out sandwiches while a few of them played cards. It was clear they’d come from far away and that this wasn’t their first visit Minneapolis Children’s Hospital. They had the look of veterans – comfortable, patient, resigned. They were upbeat and gracious when the doctor came out to give them a progress report. It sounded like the child in surgery had some sort of invasive growth in his face and neck and the surgery was so extensive, they had to keep him in a coma over night. At that point the doctor was pleased with how the surgery was going. They thanked the doctor, gave each other relieved hugs and pats on the back and resumed their cards, their lunches, their very long wait. You can imagine how quickly I got my shit together after seeing that. Within ten minutes, Saint James’ surgeon came to get us and as we left, I glanced over my shoulder at the family, silently wishing them well.

Today, six years later, I found myself in the same waiting room only this time Doctor Dash had stayed home with the girls. I kept myself in check and read my book, but couldn’t help overhearing the people behind me telling some other people about their eleven year old daughter who was diagnosed with leukemia last Wednesday. “We’ve been here a week!” the dad chortled as a conversation starter. When asked how they were doing with the news, he said “Oh, you know, better . . . better. Hey, when she does better, we do better. She plays soccer. She’s a fighter!” The words on the pages before me blurred and I held my breath. 

How many stories have been shared in the hush of that waiting room? How much suffering? How much hope? I closed my book and thought about that sporty eleven year old girl whose life changed a week and a day ago and how her parents’ lives had been reduced to one simple equation, both beautiful and frightening: when she does better, we do better.

And I thought about the lessons of the waiting room: hear the stories, count your blessings, and don’t forget to look over your shoulder and send out a silent prayer for the others if you’re lucky enough to be walking out of there first.

Jul 22 2009

So an Argentine and a French Canadian walk into a bar.

One thing leads to another and they end up with a couple of kids that look like this.

monti-and-louIf they hadn’t both triumphantly emerged from my very own personal cachoosha, I’d strongly suspect one of them wasn’t mine. Namely, the pasty little one on the left.

Jul 21 2009

Glad we had this little talk.

louSupergirl apropos of the wedding: “Soooo, when I’m a flower girl I get to just, like, chuck flowers at people?”

Jul 20 2009

Oh Nelly, hold me back! I hear wedding bells a chiming!

golden-deliciousMy little brother, Golden, is getting married in a couple weeks and I simply cannot wait. Golden’s girl, Delicious Apple, is a sweetheart and has felt like part of our family for years and years. The two of them are always laughing, which we old hands know to be the key to a successful marriage. (My secret mission is to lure the newly wed Golden Delicious Apples to Minneapolis to live. I know they’d love it here. And I know I’d love them being here).

To say that I adore weddings couldn’t be more of an understatement and I’m practically jumping out of my skin at the prospect of watching my baby brother take the plunge. I was twelve when he was born and from the moment I set eyes on him, all my affections for our Golden Retriever, Ginger, were transfered ten times over to the little boy with raven black hair and big brown eyes. He was my baby too! All his life he has been a funny, rule-breaking little imp who could charm the tail off a fox and now he’s all grown up, almost done with med school, responsible (yet ever the bonvivant) and getting married! Joy! Joy! Freaking joy!!!!!

I plan to look muy sexy Italian widow in my black Dolce and Gabbana corset dress. I am oldish. I have earned the right to work it, and work it I will. Unapologetically. (Although I’m sure my mother will make me cover my shoulders in church).

I also plan to drink many gin and tonics and dance up a storm with Doctor Dash and my little peeps. Golden turned over every burnt out brick and stone in the Detroit metro area to find the most insane funk/soul band and I trust he succeeded based on his gleeful comment that the keyboardist has no legs, surely the bi-product of some good hard livin’ and a touch of diabetes. Take that, Pine Lake Country Club! The Peevish Mama clan, from littlest to biggest, is ready to bust out in a web of loosely choreographed dancing genius, honed through many a winter dance party in our empty living room. We’ll be like the VonTraps, only super FLY.

I have a sitter on-call to come and get Devil Baby, but if everyone is happy and workin’ it, we plan to roll like the Argentines we are and let the kids enjoy the fun until the very last reveler has shimmied off the liquor-slick dance floor (that’ll probably be me). I would like nothing more than for Dash and I to woozily shepherd our sleepy brood into the back of my parents’ waiting car at the end of the night, ears ringing, feet throbbing, voices hoarse from laughing and talking, filled to the tippy tip top with Golden Delicious love.

Jul 18 2009

City camping.

tentThis is why I’m not a gamblin’ kinda gal. It is seven a.m. and all is quiet in our backyard. Unless a pack of dingos gnawed through the back of the tent and dragged them all away, I’d say a large percentage of the original campers actually made it through the night. I cannot believe it. They picked the coldest night of the summer. There are many noises outside in the dark. My children have nothing by way of a camping pedigree. I really didn’t think they’d make it. And I’m glad I didn’t put any money on this.


Post script: The unzipping this morning revealed three bleary-eyed, tousle-headed neighbors and none of my kids. As far as I can piece it together, this is how it went down:

10:00 p.m.: Devil Baby was removed against her will. We had to pull her out by her feet while she cursed a blue streak in three-year-oldese. I hated to do it, but there was no way she was going to fall asleep or let anyone else sleep.

10:45 p.m.: Supergirl slipped in the back door while Dash and I were playing with our new iPhones, muttered something about feeling safer inside, and retired upstairs with nary another peep. Knowing Supergirl to be prideful in manners of toughness and general cojones, we thought it better to refrain from any comment whatsoever.

The wee hours a.m.: Doctor Dash heard Saint James come inside to pee and then fall into his own bed.

Maybe I should have played those odds after all.

Jul 16 2009

The Hangover

the-hangover-stillI know that among the general populace this post would fall under the category of news as old as my grandmother’s oldest knickers. However, in MY populace (to wit: one of parents with young children at the height of hot, busy summers), it is completely possible that what I have to say may yet be relevant, even timely. And listen carefully, because this is important.

Go see The Hangover. Like, immediately. To all my mamas out there who tune in here, take my advice and set this shit up! Get a sitter and take your man. You will be goddess for the day and I guarantee you will both laugh your asses off. What could be better? Nothing. Nothing is better than laughing. And nothing nothing nothing is better than being the goddess, and all the favors that flow from said status, however short-lived.

Maybe I have an overdeveloped boy-brain, but The Hangover is as close to a perfect comedy as I have ever seen. It is about everything that is lovable and stupid about guys and guy friendships, told in a really creative way that just keeps upping the ante – that manages to be completely outrageous, raunchy and hysterical and yet salvage a bit of heart. The music is great, the cinematography is great, the acting is great, gah, the whole thing was such an intensely enjoyable escape. Dash and I were rolling in aisles, I was shrieking like a baboon, we were DYING! DYING, I tell you! We are thoroughly dead now, it was so funny.

Just GO.

Jul 14 2009

Farmers Market Love

I know I’m waxing annoyingly poetic about farmers markets, but I just LOVE them. I love love LOVE them. You certainly get your browsing and shopping fix, ogling all that colorful, shiny produce and snapping up bunches and baskets of beauty for but a song. You give your foodie-self a good little run around, ending up with buckets of beautiful ingredients for lovely salads and suppers. I love having a big monster bunch of scallions in the fridge, for example, and working my little chef’s brain to figure out how to use them up. You get to chat with people you know over the wholesome twangy din of a bluegrass band. You get to wear hats and sundresses and act all twee and romantic with kale and carrot tops exploding out of your woven bag. And it’s different every time. My supermarket, by contrast, is the same every time. I love farmers markets, and yesterday, I found two reasons more:

1. When is the last time you shelled peas? I can think of nothing as deeply soothing, meditative and delicious.peas2. If these oddly affecting carrots-in-love had come across the conveyor belt of a poorly paid worker at Dole or United Fruit Company, they surely would have been tossed in the rejects pile. Mother Nature is an artist who works loose and quick, with an abundance of joy and improvisation, wit and wonder. There is crushing beauty and soulfulness in her rare imperfections, if you are simply willing to look. 


Jul 11 2009

A Story of a Retarded Giant (and His Neurotic Mother)

There seems to be some law of nature that I mustn’t be allowed to sit on my laurels, wallow in any semblance of contentment, cruise along a highway of satisfaction or otherwise exist in a state devoid of neurotic self torture for too long. My last post about traveling soccer was what, two days ago? I was feeling good about sports. I was beaming at my boy’s skills. I was basking in the afterglow of a game well played by my really handsome son with great footwork and even better hair.

But along came Top Dog Hockey Camp to do me in. I was already feeling a bit sheepish and stupid about my kids’ over-scheduled lives. I try like the dickens to weed out extraneous activities and avoid chasing that elusive prize of having the most “well rounded” kid. But I have failed. Miserably. There is, quite literally, no end to all the things a kid can do these days if you have the time, money and inclination to sign’em up. There are wacky building laboratories for blossoming inventors. There are music, theater and dance programs at our top notch and beloved Children’s Theater. There are naturalist and biology classes at myriad nature centers where kids can learn to do field research, monitor and preserve ecosystems and generally muck around and take stewardship of our earth. There are rock camps, art studios, pottery studios and writers’ lofts. And that’s but a tip of the iceberg, not even touching sports!

I believe you can’t do it all. I believe you shouldn’t do it all. I believe kids need time to be bored so they are forced to seek out neighborhood friends, crack a book, climb a tree, color all over their bodies with face paint, make potions in buckets out of mud and sticks. I spent an entire summer concocting perfumes with my friend using petals from her mother’s garden. I believe in idle time, lazy time. I love myself a bit of leisure. I do.

Then how to explain the hour of cringing guilt I spent on the top bleacher of the Augsburg Ice Arena yesterday?

We didn’t put Saint James into “BIG HOCKEY” because that particular year, Devil Baby was a squawling, colicky newborn who had us on the run. As a couple, Dash and I were in total survival mode and taking on what we perceived to be a huge lifestyle commitment just wasn’t in the cards. Doctor Dash had played hockey and loved hockey, so we thoroughly tortured ourselves, but ultimately decided against it. Eventually we found out about  neighborhood park hockey where the kids play for a much shorter season, splitting their games between indoors and out. It seemed a perfect fit for us. hockeySaint James would still learn how to skate and we liked the “pond hockey” vibe of the whole thing. This year Supergirl played too and we had a blast. They’re cute, they look like they’re skating underwater, they score sometimes and when you don’t think about the kids in real hockey, they actually seem pretty good.

Last summer I signed Saint James up for Top Dog Hockey Camp because his buddies were doing it. As luck would have it, he broke his pinky and couldn’t go. So this year, I was determined to use our credit and signed him up again. On the first day I was a little shocked to see how small all the other players were, but it was on the last day, when we got to watch a scrimmage, that I realized what we were dealing with. A self selecting group of campers, these puny babies were skating circles around Saint James. I sat in the bleachers thinking he looked like a retarded giant compared to the rest of them. (Hush now, I said retarded giant, not giant retard – big dif). Saint James never looks like the retarded giant. But he did yesterday. These much younger kids possessed that fluidity and ease that comes from lots and lots of hockey. Beautiful to watch. As opposed to Saint James tripping onto the ice holding the bottom of his stick. Who holds their stick from the bottom?

As I watched with increasing dismay, I felt myself shrinking. Oh God, it’s my fault for being so lazy that I didn’t sign him up for hockey and now he sucks and it’s too late and he must feel so bad being lapped by midgets and why do I even care, this isn’t his sport, but I love hockey, I got the hots for Dash watching him play hockey and now Saint James will always be awkward on the ice which is blasphemous for a Minnesota boy and no one will get the hots for him and it’s all my fault and Devil Baby’s fault and I suck and he sucks and we all suck and oh God get me out of here. 

Sigh. Yes, I know. Psychotic much?

And after it ended Saint James did feel bad. He’s no fool. I didn’t even get to take a shot on goal, he grumped while I helped him get his gear off. I really didn’t know what to say – the kid was right. But as it tends to go with him, the clouds eventually lifted and in the quiet minutes before he went to sleep, he told Doctor Dash that he liked the camp, that it was good overall. Oh, my dear sweet little retarded giant, way to be a trooper.

So I guess I just need to chill out. Lesson learned: it’s OK to suck and play anyway. It’s OK to play for – dare I say it? FUN! As much as I fancy myself to be mellow about my kids “performance,” I suppose I’m not all that far removed from the mothers frantically rouging their daughters’ smooth cheeks for beauty pageants. I want to be mellow, but I am not mellow. I need to chill. The hell. Out.

Jul 9 2009

Traveling Soccer

soccerI had to drive to St. Croix last night for Saint James’ final soccer game of the season, and oh sweet patron saint of traveling soccer players, it was FAR! I know I’m spoiled by the fact that I don’t typically have to drive more than five or ten minutes for anything, but getting to this soccer field felt like an odyssey. And like Odysseus, I saw many things in the waning glow of the mid-summer sun.

The wheels on my minivan turned so many times that I saw a billboard of Rush Limbaugh’s gigantic porcine face. I saw silos. I saw signs for towns that I know to be in another state. I saw truck stops with huge semis lined up like hulking, sighing beasts. I saw two motorcycle dealerships, side by side, one for Harleys one for Indians. I saw the soft green hills that mark the terrain where Minnesota and Wisconsin melt into one another, never ceasing to remind me of the first time I drove here in 1995 with my friend Dave K – clueless, nervous, about to start my first job in a law firm, ready or not.

I also saw a group of kids who didn’t know each other a few months ago, play like a team. Individually they have improved beyond measure; as a team they have gelled almost to the point of poetry.

They are eight and nine years old. Magically suspended in that blink-of-an-eye between little boy and big boy, their bodies are starting to respond to the commands of their ambitious minds. They have shed all traces of baby fat and with it, the clumsiness, the hesitation, the pudding-like confusion of those first years of sports. Their skinny legs and knobby knees bely their speed, their finesse, their sense of space, position, strategy and fair play. Yet every once in a while, the little boys bubble to the surface in tears, tumbles, inelegant hiccups in an otherwise smooth stride. 

I also saw boys who played their hearts out and still lost. But they lost like gentlemen, already absorbing one of the great unsung lessons of sports: you can’t win everything in life. It is the game itself, the boys seem to understand implicitly, that is so worth it.

And, so I drive.

Jul 9 2009

What the hell kind of house do I live in?

Today, at the random hour of eleven o’clock a.m., Devil Baby demanded a shower.

Devil Baby: I wanta shower.

Me: No, you don’t need a shower.

DB: I wanta shower!

Me: No, it’s not time for a shower.


Me: No, we’re going swimming later. You don’t need a shower right now.


Me: No, you don’t need a shower. You are not stinky.


*curiously, she pronounces it Bootay, with the accent on the tay.

Jul 6 2009

Garden maven.

Why do I feel like this?28271763When all I’ve got is this?box

Jul 5 2009

You say vaaahse, I say instrument of death.

gunEvery moment is a teaching moment, if you’re a calamatizer. I bought this vase for Doctor Dash’s birthday, but let’s face it, it was one of those gifts that was really for me. I just used his birthday as an excuse to get it. What, after all, does a thirty-nine year old non-gay male need a vase for? I love it. I hate guns, but I love this.

When we took it out of the box, the first thing Supergirl did was point it at her face. No! I jumped. Never, ever, ever, EVER look down the barrel of a gun. EVER . . . Even if the gun is, um, ummmm, a vase.

Apropos of vases, get a load of this sweet thing. You know what it is, don’t you? The first flowers I put in wilted almost immediately. I suppose one can assume tequila is kinder to fauna than it is to flora. Remember to rinse well.patron-vase

Jul 2 2009


twittermatisDo you recognize this man? He is Hasidic Jew rapper reggae dancehall boy genius – Matisyahu. At the risk of sounding like a musical experience hyperbolizer, I will tell you that he put on a thoroughly soul satisfying, gut wrenching, sweaty crush of a show last night at First Ave.

I, for one, was on fire. I, for one, was ready to jump the fence. Good bye baby Jesus. Hello my sweet little juju bean.

We had thrown together a little light summer din and drinks on the patio for six or seven of our besty couples for a pre-show fest. I made Duddy’s (aka: Chief Big Voice) Latin Pork Pernil recipe and set out yummy fixins for tacos, including a little lime chipotle crema that is so delicious it could double as a nourishing facial mask should you wish to wake up as a bit of a Salma Hayek. And cilantro in everything of course – my favorite, coddled, golden child herb – cilantro can do no wrong in my eyes. The beers and vino blancos were going down cool and fast and, of course, there can be no patio revelry without the squat-bottled goodness of Señor Patrón. At nine thirty we piled into a couple cars and left in a flurry of rustling tickets and high spirited cackles (ok, maybe that was just me).

I must admit that for a long time, I poo-pooed Matisyahu. I thought the Hasidic Jew thing seemed gimmicky and I didn’t give him a shot until Tartare and her hubby Meester Panqueques put him on our iTunes before heading back to Seattle when they visited for Thanksgiving. I started listening. I started liking. A lot. Many a dinner has been prepared in the company of my silver tongued, honey toned, deeply soulful, peacefully bad-ass new friend.

I was jacked up for this show and Matisyahu did not disappoint. In fact, not in a million years did I consider that I would be swooning within the first minutes of watching him croon and beatbox in his hoodie. The guy’s got something. Aside from that angular, lankiness I’m drawn to like a moth to flame, he’s got a beautiful voice. A beautiful, pure voice, which actually matters more than you’d think in rap – to me, anyway. Like, I love Jay Z, he’s a great rapper and he’s got a good thing going with my girl Beyoncé and I love that they jet ski at Cannes in white bathing suits, but he just doesn’t have a pretty voice. No disrespect. Just iswhatitis.

And if the face, the voice, the lightening-quick blast of words, and the warm reggae dipped in cool hip hop weren’t enough, it turns out they’re a bit of a jam band. They rock. Hard. His guitarist was a superstar and had a white knuckled grip on my entrails every time he went off on his wizardly solos. Seriously, people, someone hand me a fan because I think I may faint. 

And if all that weren’t enough, local boy Yoni, joined him for a few songs and he ripped it up. Watching him, I couldn’t shake the feeling that at last, the chubby Jewish kid who carried his debate team to the championships, was getting a whole new day in the sun. He was incredible. That wit and those words could have landed him in law school, but instead it landed him in a whole lot of First Ave love last night.

The vibe was the happiest and mellowest I’ve ever experienced. First Ave is always great, everyone’s always psyched to be there, but honestly, not to sound hokey, last night was different. I didn’t really get a chance to survey the crowd as I was too busy busting out my finest moves, but any time I tried to get a little closer to the stage, people parted like the Red Sea. Normally you get elbows and an unyielding wide legged stance, but last night the crowd was fluid and happy. Oh holy Moses, was I feeling the love! At one point, I turned around to Doctor Dash, my hand on my heart and yelled This is really moving me! Like really really!  He just nodded at me indulgently, as I tend to get carried away in these situations. But that’s what makes me so lovable, right Dash?

Having said that, I would be running for the hills at the first whiff of sappy spirituality. I take my religion and my music separately, thank you very much, and never the twain shall meet. But maybe I don’t reject the idea of music carrying a spiritual message so much as the idea of crap music that’s simply there to carry the message. And not for nothing, those Christians who sway with their eyes closed and their arms up at mega Christian rock concerts give me the total creeps. Matisyahu manages to be uplifting, inspiring and spiritual, yes, admittedly, he is – but his music stands on its own and it has enough hard edges and darkness to fully satisfy. 

And I am fully satisfied. The music, the dancing, the drinking and my friends filled up my canteen and I am feeling good today. Really really good. I’m telling you, that boy has got something. He goes far, he goes deep, and he couldn’t possibly be more lovely.

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