Apr 29 2010

A bad idea.

monticupcakeMaybe when the only thing you’ve accomplished with your day is eating a bacon cheeseburger and a coconut cupcake, it isn’t wise to attempt to remedy said pathetic situation by trimming your child’s bangs.

And yet, I will.

Apr 28 2010

Dandy Lions

6a00e554503eee8833011168eff51e970c-800wiTo say that my relationship with dandelions is fraught would be an understatement. On a glorious spring day in the early seventies I was assiduously collecting them and using them for tickets to go down the slide when all of the sudden I was scooped up by a wild-eyed teacher, who rushed me inside and called my parents. My eyes were swollen to slits and I was taken to the hospital and given a gigantic shot in the ass. I slept for seemingly ever – kinda like Snow White – and woke up with a tacit understanding that there were things in the world that could make me itch. As I grew, my list of itchy things grew: pollen, grasses, molds, dogs, cats, weeds, dust mites, etcetera. I pretty much stayed clear of dandelions for the rest of my childhood, ubiquitous as they were on every school playground.

Fast forward to early 2000. I’m a young mom, with a house on a creek and a whole hell of a lot of dandelions. In my youth, I spent the summers pretty much bathing in the chemical mist of the white Chem Lawn truck. Usually, my mother would shoo us inside, but I can remember plenty of times the guy would spray under us as my friend and I perched a top the swingset and watched, breathing in that stinging sweetish chemical smell. Doctor Dash and I couldn’t, in good conscience, spray our lawn, even though the Chem Lawn truck had changed the letters to spell Tru Green - not with a crawling baby, not with a creek down the hill. So we began to pluck them, one by one and with numerous fancy implements. On by one. By one. And here it is, nine years later. And I’m still plucking. It’s what I do when I’m outside. Nothing is more satisfying than digging in with the weeding fork and pulling out a big nasty root, all wrinkly and hairy – squeeeeee they scream. But it’s downright Sisyphean, this trying to keep the dandelions at bay the old fashion way. Every time I turn around, there’s an army of bright little heads, sprung out of nowhere, mocking me in the grass. The theory, as I understand it, is that if you keep plucking, each year you get less and less dandelions. Well, I’ve been plucking for nine years and . . .

Good God.

So imagine my delight when I saw this op ed piece in the NY Times. The author basically challenges the notion that green golf course lawns are more beautiful, hence more desirable than weedy, natural ones. Dandelions, after all, look just like flowers. Isn’t the difference between a weed and a flower in the eye of the beholder? I’d say so given my annual bickering with Dash over what he’s allowed to bushwhack in the yard. What I see as healthy ground cover, he sees as invasive and aggressive weedage. He wants space between the “legitimate” plants. I tend to be more inclusive in my definition of who gets to stay in the yard. But I digress. The author writes: “. . . my eco-friendly ethos dovetails suspiciously with my laziness.” I love that. It is so my m.o.

Now if I could just convince everyone else, I’d be in business.

Apr 21 2010

Pure Joy

Some people walk around in rose tinted glasses. It’s enviable, really. I certainly do not and in some ways, this blog and the writing I do here is an attempt to stop, take notice, and really look. Really see. Pry my grimy tenacious thoughts off of myself and point them out at the beautiful world. Try on some rose tinted shades for a change. It’s so easy to forget. To ignore. To take for granted. But bulbs, man. Bulbs are magic. They lurk underground – frozen dead brown ugly nothings. Until out of nowhere, they split and soar, and out of earth that looks truly forsaken, they send riotous leggy beauties, just because and all for free. What a sight for sore eyes. What a gift. Pure joy. Here’s a promise to myself. I’m writing it here, so I don’t forget – so you hold me to it: I will plant more more more bulbs of joy this fall.

white dafdaftulipsyellowOh, and uh, Circus Lady? That app? It rocks.

Apr 19 2010

Ladies who lunch.

salut1salut23cutiesrobinSometimes the ladies who lunch get a little rowdy. So rowdy that people FROM THE RESTAURANT NEXT DOOR turn around to stare. It all started when the one in the burka yelled “TITS!”


God help us when our kids are all in school full time.

Apr 16 2010

The mind tangle of a three year old.

Elvis02alvin-chipmunks-screenshot1adam-lambert-feeling-good-videoWhat do the three, er, people pictured have in common besides being singers and fame whores to varying degrees? In the last couple days it has dawned on me that they are all inextricably bound together in Devil Baby’s mind. At best, she’s getting them confused. At even better, she thinks they’re the same person.

The funny thing about a baby mind tangle, is that you kind of want to leave it alone, it’s so cute. A few weeks ago we were all talking about Michael Jackson and how he died, which led to a discussion of how Elvis died. Supergirl added the tidbit about his having died on the toilet, the ignominy of which Dash tried to temper with the clarification that he was probably throwing up as opposed to pooping. As is the case with most familial conversations, they just sort of meander along, and I don’t really pay too much attention to whom is actually paying attention. It turns out that Devil Baby is always paying attention. She also tends to speak in non-sequitors from time to time, so I don’t know if I even responded when later she asked So, the chipmunk died in the toilet?

A couple nights ago we tuned into American Idol. This is the first season to which we’ve payed attention and it’s because Saint James and Supergirl are interested. After the Olympics, I must admit it’s kind of nice to have an excuse to plop on the couch with the kids and watch TV. Adam Lambert was the special guest slash mentor and the theme for the singers was Elvis tunes. We watched. We groaned. We listened to the judges and piped in with our two cents’ worth. We went to bed. The next day I was driving Devil Baby home from pre-school when she started in from the car seat behind me: I really did NOT know Elvis was a Lambert! If only.

Our ensuing conversation went as such:

Me: Do you know who Elvis is?

Devil Baby: He’s a chipmunk.

Me: But what about the singer?

DB: He IS a singer.

Me: What about the singer we saw on American Idol last night?

DB: Mo-om, he’s ELVIS LAMBERT.

Me: So he’s not dead.

DB: He’s not dead.

Me: So who died on the toilet?

DB: (guffaws) Oh, dat chipmunk was so sick.

Apr 14 2010

Spring Panzanella Salad!

panzI’ve been chefing up something tasty again. Read about how to get your asparagus fix over at Simple Good and Tasty. All hail tasty spring!

Apr 14 2010

At last. Tulum.

virginI seem to have tuckered myself out with my spring cleaning shenanigans. There’s an enviable pile of stuff on our front lawn for the ARC truck to take away, and yet the mess inside the house doesn’t seem in the least bit concerned. The micro-chaos, the day-to-day stuff, keeps on churning no matter what I swipe from under my kids’ noses to give away. The syrupy plates in the sink, the sweatshirts on the floor, the sidewalk chalk in the grass, the shower of tiny black pellets that spring out of St. James’ cleats and socks every time he has soccer practice, the mail, the pages and pages of drawings, scribbles, draft rap songs, and old homework that sprout like mushrooms wherever I look.

Our simple days in Tulum seem like a whole other life: one room, two beds and a cot, two suit cases, 2 stuffed animals per kid. Simple.

montinetsideWe had travelled to Mexico seeking warmth and sun as well as the chance to dip our toes in a different culture. We got those things in spades, but we also got a big dose of really pure family time. Simple. We stayed at Suenos, a lovely 12-room eco hotel that I can only describe as Swiss Family Robinson meets Frieda Kahlo. There were no paths between the thatch roof buildings – only soft, velvety sand, palm trees, bamboo groves and artfully placed hammocks and grinning skulls. I feel like I’ve been searching for a place like this my whole life. Everything, from the sturdy wooden beds, to the Mexican painted toilets and sinks, to the colorful woven bedspreads, to the multi-colored blown glass lamps in the gardens, seems to be handcrafted out of beautiful organic materials.

Our room was small, so small that Doctor Dash and I had doubts about surviving the week at first, but in a lesson about how much we don’t need (tons of space, giant piles of towels, a closet full of clothes, a pantry stocked with snacks, computers, toys, TVs) it turned out to be perfect. Our room was comfortable and chic and aside from nights, there were only a handful of times we were all in it together, lolling and chatting on the beds, taking a break from the sun and wind. Truly lovely.

Our pared down surroundings and the absence of TV allowed us to simply BE. Like everyone, we’re always busy running from one thing to the next. Even when we’re home, there’s noise – TV, music, youTube, neighbor kids. It was good to detoxLoucocoside from all of that stuff and just be. Be together. Dash remarked that it felt like camping since we were up with the sun in the mornings and falling into bed exhausted at night. A couple nights the kids went crab hunting on the beach with flashlights and we marveled at the star studded sky in the absence of urban light. Our stay felt low tech, low impact, low light (all solar energy), although we were hardly roughing it. It was abundant and indulgent in the things that mattered: warm ocean, big surf, soft sand, hot sun, gorgeous views, idle playtime and killer food.

And ay chihuaha cosita sabrosa we feasted like kings. Breakfast at Suenos was strong coffee, copious fruit platters, granola, yogurt and pastries in the gorgeous open air two-story palapa with a view of the sea. For lunch we’d either crawl back up there or stroll down the beach to one of the other open-air, shoes-optional, restaurants that dot the beach. The only time we put on sandals and flip-flops was when we got in the car to go to town or on a day trip. We ate tacos and tostadas and quesadillas with fresh fish, shrimp, beef and cheese. We never asked them to hold the pico de gallo, beans or guacamole, and the kids ate way out of their comfort zone – with gusto. Blame it on the big waves, the sea air, or, more likely, the lack of constant snacks, but they were hungry when mealtimes came and willing to eat green and red things they would never have eaten at home. At night we’d venture into town to walk around the crowded colorful streets and found three outstanding Italian restaurants, any one of which I would love to have here in Minneapolis. Again, meat sauce, tomato sauce, the kids gobbled it up. Could it be that butter noodles are a thing of the past for us? I can only hope.

daveandsantiroofOne of my favorite moments was coming up from the beach and finding my kids standing with a man weilding a machete. They were each clutching a coconut, waiting their turns and watching with wide eyes while Jorge hacked open coconuts for them to drink. They had scoured the beach for coconuts with their pals from San Fransisco and found a way to convey what they were after to the friendly owners.

As one day slid onto the next, our kids managed to do everything and nothing at the same time. They befriended the motley crew of Mexican dogs that guarded the place. They made a fort in the bamboo and buried each other in the sand. They snorkled, climbed Mayan ruins and tracked spider monkeys through the jungle in a nature preserve. They crashed their little bodies into the surf for hours at a time. Once a day, Saint James would get creamed by an especially harsh wave and emerge from the water sputtering and muttering that he’d had enough, only to be drawn back in within the hour. He stalked lizards and iquanas and played soccer on the beach, finding his legs in the slow slippery sand. Supergirl explored every nook and cranny of the property, collected coconuts and drew faces on them. Devil Baby remembered that she knows how to swim and ruled the pool. And Dash and I? We did everything and nothing too. But mostly nothing – if by nothing you mean watching and smiling and trying, trying so hard to remember every sound, every color, every moment of Tulum.

tulum 1

Apr 10 2010

We’re Back!

beaver1I’ve been dying to sit down and write a post about our trip to Tulum, but in the last couple days we’ve been home, I’ve been a whirling dervish of activity and I just don’t want to interrupt myself. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I started with the mountain of salty, sweaty laundry from the trip and that quickly snow-balled into washing and putting away the winter gear, cleaning out the fridge, washing kitchen windows, organizing the mudroom closet, and a trip to the garden store to see if it’s too soon to plant ground cover. This never happens to me. I tend to have fits of industriousness lasting no longer than the effects of my morning coffee, into which I must cram all of my household duties. Maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t had to cook or clean for eight days. Maybe it’s the fact that spring has arrived. Who knows? But it’s been two whole days of takin’ care of business and I’m going strong, babies. This must be what those meth-addicted housewives on Oprah feel like – knocking out chores as if they were bowling pins! I’m afraid this laptop is my anti-meth, so I’m going to forstall writing for a little longer and ride this wave of assiduousness as long as I possibly can. I’d better go. I can feel the diligence draining out of my fingers with every word I type. I’m off. But you know I’ll be back all too soon – lazy beast that I am.

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