May 31 2010

Well okay then.

bubbleOn the last day of preschool, the teachers give  you all the stuff that’s been hanging on the walls: the laminated balloon with your kid’s birthday, the froggy with your kid’s name, the self portraits with giant smiling heads and stick bodies with too many fingers, and, apparently, the conversation bubbles from their unit on “jobs.” How did I miss this? How did I not know that my youngest child aspires to be a truck driver and a hair stylist? How does she even know about these jobs? It actually makes sense – marrying the princess with the brute aspects of her personality. It’s also a good idea when you think about it. If you botch someone’s hair, well, that’s a good time to hit the open road, leaving the mullets, pink hair and fried perms behind you like so many broken hearts. And just think of all those truck drivers, slumped behind sludgy cups of coffee and gelatinous wedges of pie, who could use a fresh and sassy little trim. She may single handedly put an end to trucker caps! I’m so proud.

In other crumpled up paper news, I found a well worn and folded piece of loose leaf on the counter which is always intriguing to me. Sometimes it’s a spelling test, but just as often it’s the bylaws for a secret club, or drawings of aliens, or the beginnings of a story, or a menacing letter to a sibling (keep your pows (sic) of (sic) my things!) I opened it up to discover a score sheet for a “DANCE OFF” which listed nearly all of the kids in Saint James’ class. They had some tough judges, as no one got more than 10 out of 30 points, except for a couple of boys. Saint James was listed as a “bonus feature” and when I asked him about it he shrugged: I didn’t want to be judged. I just wanted to dance. If you ask me, truer words were never spoken. I’m so proud.

And finally, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for a certain shady character named Norm G. Don’t be fooled by the bow tie and the little stache – this dude is baaaad. Honestly, I cannot imagine how Supergirl comes up with this stuff, but it amuses me, it really does.


May 26 2010

Tis the season

MontihairWe’re just galloping towards the end of school and this most kick ass time of year is flying by. If you took a venn diagram with one circle being school and one circle being summer, we’re in the intersecting area that is defined by sunshine, staring out the window, sweatiness, rowdiness, popsicles, field day, and a general slide-on-into-home attitude. I love it. I’ve always loved it. I never went to a school with air conditioning and neither do my kids. Somehow their damp brows and flushed faces at the end of the school day are all part of the charm. You can practically hear the drum beats: Sum-mer! Sum-mer! Sum-mer!

Babeos minus Paul-3In the midst of all of this, I got to fly off on a secret mission last week: Operation Babe-o-matic, Part II, to be specific. Sunny turned 40 and her hilarious husband, Tax Man Italiano, managed to plan a giant surprise party without her knowing. Of course, the Babe-os shimmyied and shammyied and sashayed in the door about 40 minutes after Sunny’s first heart attack of the evening, sending her into a second surprised near-swoon. It was tremendously fun and a comforting reminder that somethings never change. When Sunny’s 180 friends had cleared out, the five of us were still standing, dancing around with beers, feeling like we were 20 again. (Actually, I should say 6 of us because Meester Panqueques was an honorary Babe-o for the night, kindly fetching Dolly and me at the airport, driving us to the party in amused near-silence while Tartare, Dolly and I shrieked and chatted and dove right in in that way that friends do when there is very little time.) I’m only including a small photo because . . . how can I put this delicately? There would be no reason to subject you to our shiny happy late-night-good-time faces. No reason at all. It was a lightening quick trip – less than 24 hours, but so much fun, so very very good for my soul. My only regret is that I’m always left feeling bereft that these soul sisters of mine scattered like seeds in the wind after college, and not a one of them managed to land near me.

gardenAnd speaking of seeds, yesterday time slowed down twice for me, and both times, it was in a garden. First, Doctor Dash and I had a really juicy hour with a “garden coach” from Bachmans Nursery named Suzanne. She showed up at our house and she didn’t waste any time in plunging into our perennial garden to give us the lay of the land. We found out all sorts of stuff. Now we know we have two horrid invasive buckthorn trees that need to be removed asap (actually, it’s already done – Doctor Dash could also aptly be renamed Doctor Bushwhacker). We also now know that we should be fawning over a beautiful lacy drapey Pagoda Dogwood because we are “lucky to have such a specimen.” We know where to move the hydrangea that is languishing in the shade and the bleeding heart that is getting the shit kicked out of it over in soccer terrain. We know which hostas are next for being divided and recolonized and what to do with the crazy rose bush that’s turned aggressive, hanging its thorny branches into the yard in the hopes of catching some tender child flesh. We now know what is weed and what is hearty native growth. We even know what to put in Melancholy Corner and that, my friends, is something that has eluded us since we moved into this house. Suzanne was knowledgeable, witty, and best of all, pragmatic. I feel like we can do this now. We can make our garden even more beautiful, piece by piece, plant by plant, season by season.

4kidsAs soon as I was finished with Suzanne, I raced off to school to drive Supergirl and a few of her friends to Waite House, the food shelf that our school collects food for all year long. The first graders were going to deliver and plant the vegetables they had grown from seed in the Waite House garden. The garden will be tended by the Waite House volunteers and the families who utilize the services. There were enough kids to do most of the planting so I mostly got to watch and listen and I have to say, it was lovely. We didn’t need “one more thing” to go do, but I’m so glad we did this. Not only did they plant tons of tomatoes, beans, peppers and herbs, they pretty much lined the perimeter of the chain link fence with sunflowers and other ornamentals. I am so grateful to their teachers for realizing that there is no end to the good that can come of this – the planting, the waiting, the giving, the digging, the beautifying. It’s all so good for our guys and hopefully there will be many families eating delicious tomatoes later this summer; tomatoes that started out as seeds in cups on an elementary school floor.

May 21 2010

I take it all back!

mluconcertLouconcertYou know what I said before? Like, yesterday? Well, fuggedaboutit. In the last twelve hours I’ve gone to Devil Baby’s spring concert and Supergirl’s spring concert and both were so dear, so sweet, so filled with chubby arms and tiny voices in the case of the former, boisterous joy and proud smiles in the case of the latter, that I take it all back about the too much. We can never have too much of this. This is what it’s all about. Some day, breathtakingly soon, we will have no more of these precious little concerts. So I drink it in, wishing there was some way to bottle the joy of children singing. Wouldn’t that be something!

May 20 2010

I’m just sayin’

sunshineI know I have a teensy little habit of taking something I’m experiencing and projecting it on the whole world, but something is definitely up. All my friends are feeling all freaky deaky, and quite frankly, so am I. We’re careening toward the end of the school year and I feel like we’re all driving runaway cars, pumping the breaks to no avail. Where did the time go? It feels like we were just wiping our brows after putting Christmas away and here we are in a deluge of end of the year obligations. Seriously, could we possibly pile on more stuff right now? End of the year masses, field day, plays, spring concerts, class picnics, graduations, class parties and on and on. On the one hand, it’s absolutely lovely. On the other hand, we may be getting too much of a good thing here. Everybody I know is racing around clutching camcorders with crazed smiles plastered on their faces which do nothing to hide the panic lurking in their eyes.

Yep, PANIC. Because in a few weeks we are ON, babies. ON. ON. ON. 24-7. Children all up in your business ALL THE TIME. No breaks, except for whatever camps and activities you’ve managed to sign them up for, which will require more running around with crazed smiles and more yelling hurry up, grab your waterbottleballracquetfishingrodclubscleatsclarinetloom.

I am really of two minds here. On the one hand, I love summer. I love the sun, the heat, the water and the not having to do anything. But then I went and filled us with activities because I’m no fool – the idle is not idyll. The quiet lazy afternoons never pan out the way I envision them. We don’t sit in the shade and eat popsicles and draw and fish and read. Possibly because of the frenetic pace we keep during the rest of the year, my kids want action and adventure. Or T.V. And honestly, we don’t even do that much. I suppose it’s relative, but I DO draw the line sometimes. For example, I drew the line at Irish step dancing earlier this year because of the wigs. I also draw the line at fencing, curling and golf. I don’t like golf. I’m not sure it’s an environmentally sustainable sport – especially in the driest areas of our country. It seems elitist and I will run the risk of subjecting my kids to forever being shitty golfers, but if they want to learn they can learn on their own time and their own dime. Plus the outfits are not cute. I pat myself on the back about golf, but then I signed up Supergirl for another run at Circus Camp, because obviously, the trapeze is a life skill that will serve her well. I signed Saint James up for a month long Junior Naturalist program and a drawing class. Why? Because this is their bliss and what can I do, but follow their bliss? And this is how I get myself in this pickle of the anti-Huck Finn summer.

It’s a paradox and I’m making a huge muddle of trying to explain it, but here it goes.

I sign them up for stuff because I don’t want them to be bored and drive me crazy, but in the end I’m crazy anyway and maybe even contributing to their being bored by keeping us on the run all the time. On the other hand, I only sign them up for stuff they love. These lucky, privileged children just happen to have a lot of interests. Take all that and dip it in guilt for not being 100% perky about all of this because a) I chose this life; and b) shouldn’t I want to be with my kids more more more? and c) I’m damn lucky to even have this to complain about, so I should just shut the hell up. Right? Right.

So I, like many others, spent the last few weeks with the calendar, various program catalogues and a furrowed brow, trying to figure out the right amount of stuff to put in our long summer days and how to physically get everyone where they need to go at the times they need to be there. I won’t know, until I’m neck deep in it, whether I got the right proportions of free time to camp time. And by then my freakydeakiness will have worn off, to be replaced with a numb exasperation with myself and my kids. The days will seem hot and endless and long and then all of a sudden it will be late August and I’ll get all freaky again, dreading the crush of school and all that entails, looking back longingly on our summer that seemed to stretch like taffy, and I’ll wish to be back here, right where I am right now.

May 19 2010

The Black Forest Inn

gutenGuten tag! I published another piece at Simple Good and Tasty about The Black Forest Inn. Check it out, babies! Maybe you’ve been going all this time, or maybe, like me, you used to go all the time and haven’t gone in years. Well, I’m telling you it’s time to start going again. It’s the perfect place to take kids (lots to look at, pleasantly loud din, terrific kid friendly food options) while feeling like a grown up (fabulous patio, sexy lighting, awesome beer, handmade hearty food made with tons of local ingredients). Seriously, hurry!

May 13 2010

Mama’s Day

mamaHappy belated Mother’s Day to all you sweet mamas out there, including my very own sweet mama, Chuchi. I don’t know about you, but I love Mother’s Day – more than my birthday, more than Christmas, more than Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. Being a mother is something I cherish (despite periodic appearances to the contrary) and it feels good to be fêted for something I’ve earned. I didn’t have much to do with being born and although I suppose we deserve to be congratulated for having survived another year, I don’t feel as comfortable wallowing in all the attention surrounding my birthday. But Mother’s Day is another story altogether. All those unseen and unappreciated things we do to keep our families healthy and happy and together, to keep our homes warm and bright and joyful, to keep ourselves sane and healthy and open, it all does deserve some recognition. We deserve to step out from behind the camera, stove and steering wheel for a day. I say, bring it on, lovies. Bring on the homemade breakfasts (delicious, Doctor Dash). Bring on the flowers and cards and little clay bowls and necklaces and paintings and all the dear dear things that little kids make for their mamas for Mother’s Day. I love it all. I even love the short story penned by Supergirl called “The Butt.” Last year, Saint James wrote me a song on the piano. This year, I get “The Butt.” It’s not about my butt, mind you, but riveting nonetheless.

And although I haven’t been able to spend Mother’s Day with my own mom for years, I think she knows, hope she knows, how much she means to me and how much my parenting mirrors hers. My house isn’t nearly as clean as hers, but in so many other ways, in ways that I can’t help, in ways that I don’t even notice, my mother colors the way I go through my days with my kids. I’m not a mirror image of her, but rather, of the same ilk. As if a painter did a series of paintings, variations on a theme, with obvious, superficial differences, but with a common thread – but what is the thread? Soul? Disposition? Habits? I’m not sure I can put a finger on it, but it’s there.

I’m not a mother who hides her emotions from the kids. For better or worse, they hear about the dark and the light. I’m a mother who thinks sitting down together for home cooked meals every single day that it’s remotely possible matters a lot. I’m a mother who’s indulgent, who believes in treats and pleasures and the beauty of saying yes some of the time. I’m impatient in so many ways, but I try, mostly unsuccessfully, to quell that in myself. I like plants and sun and watching my kids play sports. I don’t say the rosary in the car like my mom did for my brother’s nail biter tennis matches, but I gasp and eek and cover my eyes with the best of them. I don’t put a premium on my own perfection, but I do value solidity, reliability, warmth. I don’t let them touch my sunglasses, but I do let them play with my shoes. I’m not very subtle about trying to influence my kids to love the things I love: music, books, food. I leave sports to Doctor Dash. And technology. I’m bad at making my kids do chores; bad at taking money from them when they promise to pay me back. I’m a distracted mother a lot of the time, until those moments when I’m not. Be present is my mantra and my greatest seemingly insurmountable challenge.

I don’t like labels like “good” and “bad” as applied to mothering because I can be both within a span of moments. Motherhood is nuanced and complex and nothing short of a million words will do to describe any one particular mother. A million words. Or maybe just one.


Happy Mother’s Day to Chuchi and to all you other mamas in the trenches with me.

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 7 2010

When your heart goes away for a couple days.

santiHere’s St. James waiting anxiously to be scooped up for his very first ever weekend away. He’s beyond excited to be going to his oldest buddy’s cabin for a couple nights. I, on the other hand, wish I could have limbered up and climbed right into that little rolling suitcase. Instead I made him a sandwich to take with him.

I’m still in disbelief.

About the sandwich.

But I will say this:

It made me feel better.

May 6 2010

May Day

maytophatOne of my all time favorite things about this city is the May Day parade and festival at Powderhorn park. Even though the weather is usually cold, gusty, rainy and generally nasty, Minneapolitans give the final word to the date on the calendar and turn out in droves to frolic on the newly greened hills of the park. The Heart of the Beast puppet theater shows up with their giant freaky puppets and all the fringey, unwashed, dreadlocked, young, old, and in-betweens don their most sparkly, tattered, peculiar get-ups and come out to mill around, eat fair food, and watch the epic Tree of Life Ceremony from a riotous patchwork of quilts thrown up on the hills. It’s like a big roving carnival, with jugglers, stilt walkers, plumed ladies, fire breathers and musicians. As drumbeats, clapping and yelling grow in intensity, the Sun Flotilla gets paddled across the pond until it reaches the shore to wake the Tree of Life. It’s awesome. It’s colorful, pagean, freaky, and optimistic. It’s an excuse to collect in one spot with people from all walks of life. It’s a celebration. It’s a collective sigh of relief. It’s SPRING!


May 4 2010

Springtime guzungas.

On Sunday afternoon I heard Devil Baby shrieking, and I mean shrieking: “I found some boobs! I found some boobs!” Surely, I wasn’t hearing her correctly. I ran outside and sure enough, she had found some boobs.


May 4 2010

Rhubarbaritas and Stuffed Poblanos – Olé!

cinco02Hola! I wrote a post in honor of Cinqo de Mayo for Simple Good and Tasty. There are a couple of delicious recipes you’ll want to try, so check it out!

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?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...