May 31 2011

Anything boys can do, girls can do better.

So I was checking out Jay Z’s blog (I know, ridic that Jay Z even has a blog) and I stumbled upon this cool video of these three girls who longboard in NYC. They have formed a little pack and they are pretty bad ass, yet still total girls. I’m not saying I’d particularly want to see my daughters weaving around NYC traffic on skateboards with no helmets, but I do appreciate their moxie. They aren’t being groupies, they aren’t being posers, they are just being themselves – and in this day and age, that’s a lot.

May 19 2011

Girls Run the World

If you happened to have watched American Idol last night, you would have seen the premier of Beyonce’s newest video. Possibly, probably, you were completely entranced. Like me. I love Beyonce – she can kind of do no wrong in my book. This song sounds very M.I.A.esque and definitely gets you wanting to put on your fringe sandals and stomp your feet in the sand. And I covet the gold chainmail dress. Oh, and the cropped black fur vest. And the jewelry. I may need a tip-o-the-finger ring soon.

The video follows in the fine tradition of “rumble” songs – like Beat It, West Side Story and Love is a Battle Field. Seriously, wait for the part when Pat Benatar takes on the pimp and shakes her skinny bosom at him like an aggressive hen. It’s awesome. I love nothing more than a choreographed dance/fight scene. I think they are hilarious and a fine alternative to taking up arms, wouldn’t you say?

This has the makings of a girl anthem. Yes, das wat I said.

I’ve decided I’m going to pull up to Supergirl’s next soccer game against one of the giant blond suburban teams and blare this song out the back of the minivan (I may also plug a fan into my cigarette lighter to get the wildly blowing hair effect and lead the girls in a pre-game war dance). I was telling my family all of this this morning while I tried out some of the moves in the kitchen and Saint James just put his head in his hands and croaked MOM, how many times have you watched this?

Only once or twice. I swear.

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May 18 2011

Red Vogue’s Moving Pictures

Red Vogue is an amazing photographer and lately she’s been trying her hand at video (although the word video seems too banal for what she does). They really are moving photographs and to me they possess the same quiet, authentic, purity of her still photos. This video of Supergirl is such a snapshot in time – it captures her right now, age eight, suspended between being a little girl and a big girl. Actually, who am I kidding? She’s a big girl. You can see it in her eyes, her self-conscious laugh – she is no longer a naive baby, no longer an open book. She’s a girl – with all the complex feelings and  self-awareness that entails. Supergirl is as open a person as you’ll ever meet, yet in this, I see her safeguarding a little piece of herself. I guess this is what we do as we mature. We gain dimension. We develop an inner life, which, I suppose, by definition, makes us less visible, or rather, less readable to others. Sniff. It squeezes my heart. Oh, how it does.

May 17 2011

I reviewed a cookbook!

greenjuiceCheck out my article over at Simple Good and Tasty, if you’re so inclined. It was a “raw food” cookbook by Susan Powers and let’s just say I learned a thing or two.

And maybe murdered a coconut.

May 16 2011

Introducing: Foxy Brown!!!!

LouandFoxyWe did it. Yesterday Doctor Dash and I got a wild hair and we bought a dog. She’s a chocolate labradoodle and oh, Saint Francis, Patron Saint of Animals, is this girl ever sweet! Those of you who know me, know that I wasn’t looking to get a dog. Until all of the sudden, I was.

When Saint James’ second African dwarf frog died a few months ago, something big shifted in me. I realized I couldn’t take any more tears over fish and amphibians. I was done. He just wants something to love, I wailed at Dash. We can’t keep torturing them with fake animals! It’s cruel! It’s unfair! So we started by taking our hayfever guy to the allergist to make sure he wasn’t super allergic to dogs and started looking on-line, clearing our histories after every search so the kids wouldn’t get any ideas. All the labradoodle breeders were far away, so inertia took over and we figured maybe we’d start asking around. Maybe. But the psychic shift had happened and it seems when you open a door, someone is bound to walk through it.

Enter: Foxy Brown

Dash’s boyhood dog was a chocolate lab named Calvin, so when he saw this little girl’s picture in the paper this weekend, it was love at first sight. Still, we didn’t do anything for a day. And then all of a sudden, when we were at the Linden Hills Festival with the kids yesterday, I made Dash call – just to find out if she was even still there. She was. And something about it felt right. Nanook gave us a little prod and by the time we peeled ourselves off the sunny hill a couple hours later and gathered the kids, Dash and I had decided to drive out to St. Paul and meet her. I had heart palpitations on the way there and nausea on the way home. Somehow this felt like a bigger deal than having kids! What the hell were we doing? I must have transmitted my queasiness to Foxy, because she puked on me in the car. Poor little thing. Between the nerves and the motion, she didn’t stand a chance. With that first little accident and the doleful look that followed, however, she basically put her paw print right in my heart. I don’t know what that says about me, but she’s got me.

So far, she’s been a rock star. She slept all night, she hasn’t had an accident in the house (yet), but I’m under no illusions. This is going to be a ton of work, starting with the fact that we can’t leave everything lying around on the ground any more. We had about a nanosecond of peace and quiet as Devil Baby turned a corner and morphed into a chatty, funny, industrious, ready-for-kindergarten girlie girl. I guess that’s what allowed us to jump back into the fray.

Honestly, why did we jump back into the fray? I don’t know. As Nanook pointed out, some people are just open to a certain amount of chaos in their lives. Moreover, every time Devil Baby bravely approached perfect strangers and used her big voice to ask if she could pet their dogs, it used to tweak my heart a little. Watching Supergirl learn how to handle Red Vogue’s strong and spirited golden boy, Patrick, used to tweak my heart a little. And to say nothing of the deaths (R.I.P. Pearl, Pingo, Bubbles, Horace and Messi) – no one boy should be expected to endure so many frail non-mammals.

Needless to say, the kids are over the moon. Especially, Supergirl. Yesterday she said to Doctor Dash You made a good choice here, dad. You know, you won’t regret this. I hope that’s true. And in my heart, I know it is.

We are ready for you, Foxy. Welcome to the clan, sister.189599.1020.A

May 14 2011

Here Comes the Rain Again

The weather outside sent me looking for this song and boy does this hold up after all these years. So dreamy. Can you believe it was released in 1984? Damn, we’re old. And how gorgeous is Annie Lennox?

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May 12 2011

Boy on stage. Heart in throat.

sideOur school has a variety show every spring – only fifth through eighth graders are allowed to perform, but the whole school gets to watch. I’ve gone every year since I found out about it because it’s AWESOME. As is pretty typical for these types of things, the content and talent level is all over the map. But it’s always fun and sort of heartbreaking to watch these brave kids getting on a stage, in some cases at the most awkward point of their lives, to perform. Sometimes they are hammy. Sometimes they are adorable. Sometimes they are breathtaking. I always imagine the kids feel o.k. putting themselves out there because our school is a trusted little community and it warms my cockles – it really does.

Last year, I remember Crackerjack was a nervous nelly because her son was performing a song with a group of boys. She was totally the mama wringing her hands, hoping it would go ok. I remember being super blasé about it since I love all of it, always, year after year and have yet to see anything that makes me cringe.

Only this year . . . THIS YEAR, I’m singing a different tune altogether.

Saint James and his buddy, Birdie’s Boy, are doing a song and dance routine to Iyaz’ Replay. Apparently, they are singing, but since their “moves” are so complicated, they can’t stand behind a mic, so it’s more of a lip synch slash dance routine. (It’s a little known fact that lip synch slash dance routines were my speciality back in the day, so this amuses me. Only he’s in fifth grade and I was in twelfth. I know, I was so gay.) The two of them have been absolutely mum about the act, accepting no help, allowing no previews, asking for nothing (except for a pair of rapper glasses). When I suggested maybe they should hold their mics so we could hear them sing, I was totally blocked. I’m gathering this act is really more about the moves and the swaggah. Eeeep!

Needless to say, I’m fretting. It’s hard to watch your kid put himself in a position where he could potentially embarrass himself. I know he’ll be great, and even if he isn’t, it doesn’t matter because the two of them are so darn cute they could pretty much get away with anything. But yet – I fret. I am standing right in Crackerjack’s super sexy nervous wedges from last year. Right in them. And I’m sweating them all up.

Today I went to pick Saint James up from the dress rehearsal and realized they hadn’t gone yet, so when they took the stage, I ran out the side door. He has made it blatantly clear he wants to save the surprise, so I wanted to respect that. I could hear the music and see the audience, which was basically the kids in the show and a couple moms. A few girls in his class let out a little fan shriek when they came on stage and one was taping them on a small camera. I wish I had had my phone to tape the girls, taping the boys. Judging from their reaction, it can’t have been bad. In fact, it might have been good. The girlies were all smiles and giggles and clapping after they finished (no eye-rolling) and believe me, I had my x-ray vision trained on them, so I would have seen it.

Until tomorrow, Dash and I are keeping our jitters to ourselves because  Saint James seems to have zero qualms about doing this. He is cool as a cucumber. I keep pestering Dash to see if he remembers being more self-conscious as a kid, but he’s not giving up the goods. I know I would have been a little spinning top of nervous energy had I been doing a dance in front of the whole school as a ten year old.  But maybe that’s a girl thing.

We’ll see. Here’s to Saint James and Birdie’s Boy ‘breaking a leg’ as they say in showbiz, and their mamas keeping their shit together in the front row (because, you know, that’s where I plan to be!)

Until then, enjoy a little Iyaz:

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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!

May 5 2011

Damn squirrel eatin’ my flower and makin’ me feel all crappy.

Today I glanced out my kitchen window and saw a squirrel standing on its hind legs with its arms wrapped tenderly around my jonquil – only he wasn’t wooing the flower, or even making out with the flower, he was eating the flower. My only friggin’ jonquil in that part of the garden was being mauled and consumed in broad daylight. I burst through the back door and scared him away with all manner of screeches, hisses and wild hand gestures – I think I get very Latina all of the sudden when I’m trying to shoo something. Perhaps it’s the years of watching my mother scream and fling herself out of the house to scare Mallard ducks out of our pool so they wouldn’t get too comfy and make it their home for the summer.

I probably would have done the same thing had there been a hundred jonquils in my garden, but the fact that there is ONE just makes it so much worse. First of all, we work hard for our spring here in these parts – March and April are a bitch and the first crumbs of spring we get are these bulbs that start to crop up against all odds. This one flower, probably because there is just one flower, becomes a symbol of spring, of warmth, of hope, of change, of new beginnings. And by eating it, the squirrel is basically saying,You don’t even get to enjoy this one measly thing to the natural end of its short measly life, peevish mama. (Actually, the squirrel is probably saying something more like, Come closer my crumpet, I wish to ravish you, so ravenous am I after this long winter with nothing but a handful of bitter acorns for sustenance. But you know what? This blog is about me. Screw the squirrel.)

And as quick as the flick of a furry tail disappearing through the fence, this one flower also becomes a symbol of my failings. Do you remember this post? Just in case you ever read this blog and feel like, wowee, she’s real neato and thoughtful and motivated, rest assured that I’m not. I’m a lazy slacker. If I had simply followed through with my impulse to plant more – what were my words? “bulbs of joy” (insert eye-roll here), then I guess I wouldn’t be in my current predicament of hating on myself and hating on a squirrel. It makes me ornery that I’m so lackadaisical about every thing. Why didn’t I just plant some more damn bulbs like I said I would? Where is my follow through? What was I doing with my time? Honestly, I don’t even know. I really shouldn’t be this lazy. I come from very motivated, conscientious, busy-bee stock. What’s my excuse? I have no excuse.

And lest you think I’m being too hard on myself over a flower, rest assured that this is just one example of many. Look at my car, look at my house, look at my baby books. It’s all going to hell in a hand basket. But don’t worry, I’ll manage to forget about all of this by tomorrow and be back to my free wheelin’ lazy-ass ways in no time flat. In fact, I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to turn this into a business – there must be a market for someone who can lounge around and shoot the shit, drink wine, listen to hip hop, over-analyze everything, peruse fashion magazines and make pretty good chili. Someone hire me! Quick!

I think this is all percolating because of an article I read in the New Yorker last night. First of all, let me pause for a moment. The New Yorker. The first magazine I subscribed to after college. The only magazine to which I’ve had a consistent subscription since then. The magazine that makes me feel smart and entertained at the same time. The magazine that I share with Doctor Dash. The mother of all magazines – for me – my best me. OK, so I open it up in bed last night and there’s a huge article about this blogger who goes by the name Pioneer Woman. I’ve been to her blog a handful of times over the last few years, but I had no idea she had reached the level of being worthy of an article in the New Yorker. Basically, she was a city slicker who fell in love with a cattle rancher and it changed the trajectory of her life.

She seems sweet and engaging enough, but also, suspiciously, like one of those people with extra arms and hours in the day. She home schools her kids, cooks all sorts of fancy cowboy food, takes gorgeous pictures of all of it, teaches photography, oversees monster additions to her home and ranch, decorates it all, grows a garden, writes cookbooks, writes memoirs, writes children’s books and writes a blog. All of it with a wink and a smile. Which is fine. Obviously this is really compelling to a lot of women. I think her story and lifestyle are what people would consider aspirational. To me it’s kind of demoralizing. She makes Martha Stewart look like she’s in my league, which leaves me looking like I’m barely more animated than that piece of stucco that chipped off our house over the winter that I walk by every day and haven’t picked up.

I think you, my readers, are better served by hearing about how much I DON’T get done. My laziness is not only my gift, it is my gift to you. Tomorrow you can vacuum your cars with the satisfaction of knowing that I won’t be vacuuming my car. Or my house. What can I say, besides . . . you’re welcome.

May 2 2011

Sometimes one must take matters into one’s own hands

702lambsSince spring seems to be feeling a little sheepish this year (yes, the pun was completely and shamelessly, intended. You’ll see just how shameless in a moment), we hardy folk of the north must figure out ways to survive these last dregs of winter. I stumbled into one such coping mechanism last week and turned it into a little ditty for Simple Good and Tasty. Essentially, Doctor Dash and I conjured a lamb feast for ourselves at the lovely and kick-ass Barbette and biked away feeling oh, so much better. A long, indulgent lunch a deux was just what we needed on that particular day. Now, this many days later, after a week in Florida, I’m afraid I need more than a lunch. I need spring. Real spring. As in no more scarf spring. So let’s get on that, shall we?

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