Jun 28 2011

Birthday Bagels for Doctor Dash

bagelsAdmittedly, this 41st birthday of yours was lost amidst your week of working nights and a whole hell of a lot of soccer. Just like last year. But also, just like last year, our amusing friends manage to contribute a little levity. Oh, Fox, you crack me up.securedownloadDearest Dash, my side kick and fave man on earth: Happy muted, tainted-by-work, birthday. We appreciate every thing you do for us and we love you, you sweet, sweet mofo.


Jun 26 2011

Pride, baby!

equalIn light of New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage a couple days ago, I was feeling extra frothy to get down to the Twin Cities Pride Parade today. As expected, it was an exuberant, silly, happy, naughty love fest. I saw all manner of fabulous drag queens working it out in their fanciest Sunday frippery, old lady lesbians dancing with fluttering fans, guys in black latex kilts and dog collars, a cute and burly rugby team, a group of marching gay Hmong teens, the Minnesota Roller Girls in the flesh, a couple dudes on stilts, rescued pitbulls in tutus and my favorite moment: the mayor, in his little aqua polo shirt, riding on the back of one bad-ass mama’s motorcycle, leading the Dykes on Bikes motorcade.

Devil Baby and I scored a primo spot right across from the Saloon where we got to shake it to the blaring dance music while we watched for Supergirl and Saint James to march by. Yes, they got to march – and I must say I got a little misty seeing them and their buddies bedecked in rainbow tie dye shirts (from Carondelet Catholic School, ironically) and sparkly beads, collecting candy and waving to the crowd like they’ve been supporting gay rights their whole lives.

In fact, they were completely flummoxed by the notion that gays aren’t allowed to get married in Minnesota. They just couldn’t understand why, and Saint James was all about  finding the loopholes, asking if a couple from Minnesota could go to New York on vacation, get married there and just come back here to live. They get it and if other kids their age get it, then there is hope that we are heading in the right direction.

As much as there is some serious flamboyance at this parade, I loved being there with my kids. It’s sort of a no-brainer from an entertainment standpoint, with the feathers and the glitter and the rainbows and the dancing! Those creaky old vets from the 4th of July parades ain’t got nothing on a marching band playing Born This Way. Afterwards, Supergirl was tittering into her hands as she told me about the guy who was naked but for a well-placed fig leaf. So she saw some buns, so what? Nothing wrong with an occasional bun sighting, I say.

It all boils down to this: different strokes for different folks – and the sooner we all understand and embrace that, the better off we’ll all be.

For some cool shots after the NY decision, check out this NY Times slideshow. And remember these gals? I wonder what they’re doing today?

Jun 25 2011

This is summer?

blurI found this picture on my phone – surely it was a drive-by shot taken by one of my kids – and it spoke to me. This is how I feel about summer so far. It has been nothing but a cloudy blur. I’m not sure what my deal is (aside from the WRETCHED weather), but I can’t seem to get my footing. I can’t seem to stop. Look. Focus. It is as if I’m wearing fuzzy glasses that are keeping me one step removed from the reality of what surely is.

The date is June 25. Surely, it is summer.

We’re going through the motions, running from one thing to the next, but I have yet to have that summer moment. It can happen at the bandshell, at the beach, at the pool, in the backyard. When you lose the distinction between your skin and the air and you feel permeable to the softness of the season. When the smell of a barbecue or a sparkler makes your nose prickle in recognition and pulls you back through layers of memory, to other hot nights and cool drinks. When you feel summer in your bones, as a fact and a gift.

What is it? Is it that I’m too busy? Or is it really as simple as the string of rainy cold days? Am I not looking in the right place? Am I not documenting it enough with words and pictures? Whatever it is, I need to get it together because when it comes to matters of summer, there’s no time to mess around here in Minnesota. It is a brief and heavenly season and to squander even one day feeling muted and half-assed seems a pity.

Time to get my groove on.

Jun 14 2011

Some people

peoniesare just – awesome.

Jun 13 2011

The Big FIVE!!! Happy Birthday Sweet Devil Baby!

montiDevil Baby is FIVE and I feel like I’ve been hit by a falling piano. I can’t believe it. I simply cannot believe it. My baby is five. I am now standing on a new shore, looking back at the other shore, panting, dripping, not sure how I actually made it here, and not quite ready to turn around and look at the new terrain that awaits me. This feels big.

Not only is she going from baby to full-on girl, but our family is stepping into a new phase altogether: all of our kids are now “school age.” Hell, this fall we’ll even have a middle schooler! Gasp! As a mother, and a mother of this particular girl, I feel like we have crossed hot deserts, climbed ragged mountains and forded angry rivers together. She was a tough one. She would not be named Devil Baby on this blog had she not been. We struggled, we cried, we ranted and railed but I am here to say that we made it. She is officially what I would characterize as a good little girl – made of sugar and spice and everything nice (and a large dose of sass).

She’s five, which is a truly magical age, but in keeping with her extreme nature, she has taken five to a new level even though she’s only been five for a couple days. Lately, when someone new is around or she knows she’s being watched, she goes into what I call “child actor mode”. She gets really perky and loud, like one of the orphans in the Broadway Musical, Annie. It’s like she’s the child actor version of being five – extra sweet, extra happy, extra chatty. But it’s the real deal with Devil Baby. She is feeling the five thing. Boy, is she feeling it. She is five with a vengeance. Five with style. Five with jazz hands and Charleston kicks.

She is thoughtful, helpful, curious and most of all, hilarious. Oh, how she makes us laugh. She is dramatic and girlie, free in her body and light on her feet. Her pre-school teachers tell me she’s unflaggingly polite (child actor mode?). Her legs have doubled in length in the last year and I can’t tear my eyes away from her lithe little frame when she dances or rides a scooter or climbs a fence or jumps off the diving board. She feels her emotions strongly and makes sure we do too. Like her sister, she chafes at having to be alone or hang around the house. Rest time is unnecessary, down time is a bore. She loves to be with people, to play, to be out in the world. This girl is ready to fly.

And me? I look at her and feel a crushing, panicky heartachey kind of love, because if she and I got to 5 and it felt this quick when I know it was that hard, then how is the rest going to go? How do I slow this down? Now that we’ve gotten to our sweet spot, how do I slow this down?

Sweet Devil Baby – my love, my greatest challenge to date. We’ve come a long way, baby. You are truly one of a kind. You have kept me on my toes, on the edge and in tune with every emotion in my grab bag for five years. At your core you are willful. At your core you are kind. You are a treasure and I cannot wait to see what you do, where you go, who you become.

My sweet, sweet baby. My sweet, sweet girl. Happy Birthday and thank you, my little Devil Baby, for being exactly as you are.

Jun 8 2011

A few of my favorite things . . .

The-Sound-of-Music-convert-photos-to-digitalHey,  yo! I’ve got a new post over at Simple Good and Tasty which includes all of my favorite things á la Julie Andrews. Sigh. I love her. I love spring. I love farmers markets. I love puttanesca sauce. And when you put it all together? Double, no – triple sigh. The recipe is a keeper, so scurry on over there to check it out!

Jun 3 2011

Cleanliness is next to godliness

mr-cleanI don’t really believe that. If I did then this mama would pretty much be heading to hell in a hand basket. For the life of me, I can’t seem to motivate to clean and straighten on a consistent basis (the only things I do well are cooking and laundry). Instead, I see the smudges, the fingerprints, the crumbs, the syrup stain and they bug me, but not enough to go after them right away. I like to tell myself that I’m fending off any OCD tendencies that may lie latent in me, but who am I kidding? Me? OCD? Have you seen my minivan?

I clean in flurries. Today I had a flurry. Not the kind of flurry that would be detectable to the book club ladies who came over last night. This was a flurry of unsung cleaning – behind the scenes, non-showy, back to the way it’s supposed to be cleaning. And during my flurry, I got to musing.

I cleaned walls and in doing so I discovered hand and FOOTprints in places that can only mean one thing: my children are secretly training to be ninjas.

I did laundry and there is no longer any point in denying the fact that my first born has reached the age where his dirty clothes stink. Like stink stink. Like sweaty locker room, cheese feet, body odor funk-a-nasty.  I’m afraid the innocuous biscuity sweat smell of a kid is a thing of the past. P.U., child!

It really does help to time yourself. It sounds silly, but Lady Tabouli turned me onto this little trick. You’d be amazed at how much you can get done in 10 minutes. If you had asked me how long it takes me to empty the dishwasher, I would have said 20 to 30 minutes. I HATE emptying the dishwasher. It is an exquisite torture to me. But when I looked at the clock I was shocked to discover it takes less than 5 minutes. If I’m flying, I can do it in 2. Two minutes! Sometimes I race the microwave heating a cup of tea. It seems I am not too smart for myself and quite susceptible to all manner of self-administered tricks and mind games.

I am a frustrated perfectionist – a  term I picked up from a birth order book that Gigi the Animal Whisperer lent me years ago. Being a first born, I have all the makings of a Type A personality. I have high standards, I like order and perfection. But I’m a titch lazy, so I don’t have the goods to back it up. I’d like every thing to be perfect and clean, but it’s just so boring to get it that way. Boring. BOOOORRRRRING! Ug. So boring. So I sort of wallow around in limbo, wishing it could be so, but dreading making it so. There are so many better things to do with my time, so I just do them.

And wait for a flurry.

Jun 1 2011

Foxy time.

dogSo, we’ve been on the Foxy Brown channel pretty much 24/7 here in our house. Every morning, I jolt out of bed, remembering the poor girl hasn’t peed all night. I have to withstand a half hour or so of her wild puppy energy, nipping at my ankles, pouncing on my slippers, until Supergirl wakes up and feeds her and takes her outside again. She can barely fit a tennis ball in her mouth, which doesn’t matter because she doesn’t seem to have the instinct for fetching. She’s always looking to be in physical contact with us. When I’m cooking, she’ll lie on my feet and when I move she gets up and lies on my feet again. I find myself stretching and reaching so as not to disturb her sweet little slumber. She’s still little enough to carry around like a baby and man, will I ever rue the day she gets too big to pick up.

I find myself outside with her at times I never used to be outside. Six a.m. when everything is dewey and fresh, I see a whole other breed of people out and about: early morning joggers, ladies doing boot camps in the park, dog people who are not in their pajama bottoms spilling coffee as they walk (note to self: get it together, because people talk to people on the other leash-end of a cute puppy). At night, after dark, I walk with senses awakened. The dark trees whisper and rustle down at the creek, the scent of the cherry blossoms seems to form transparent pink clouds, the houses look inviting and lived in, with glowing windows that signal the winding down of another day.

Doctor Dash has set the DVR to record The Dog Whisperer and I see him channeling Cesar Millan’s white toothed, Jedi mind tricks. Yesterday he was purportedly weeding in the garden, but every time I looked out the window he was using his say-everything-with-a-firm-touch touch on Foxy to keep her from chewing the rebounder net.  It cracks me up and reminds me of when Saint James was a baby. We were off-kilter, unsure of ourselves, learning how to do everything. We laughed a lot – probably due to a combination of nerves, the joy of discovery and our own ineptitude. Maybe we’ve been getting a little too savvy, too blasé – like, we’ve got this parenting thing down, mo fos. Tantrums, sleeping, potty training, swimming, reading, manners, moods – BRING IT!

Foxy has got us scrambling again – running to see what she’s up to in the next room before she pees or chews on something. She’s got us potty training again – waiting for poos with baited breath and cheering those little turds like they’re solid gold. She’s got us preening again, like proud peacock parents, we take her around, we show her off, we smile when people gush. She’s got us guessing again – Is she still hungry? Are we giving her enough food? Why does she keep going back to see what’s in her bowl? What did the pediatrician, I mean, vet say, again? Is her nose too wet? Too dry? Is that a tick? Can she see with all that hair in her eyes? What if she goes blind like those fancy chickens?

Time has slowed down. Foxy has forced us to slow down. We pay attention to half hour increments now for potty training. We have to remember to bring things for her when we take her to a soccer game (bags, water, leash, chew toy). We hang around our house more, sitting on the floor in the kitchen or in the backyard watching her romp in the grass and wreak havoc in the garden. It’s hard to blame her for using the tulips as her own personal screen to bust through because, well, for a pup, that’s quite an entrance. And she is Foxy Brown, after all.

It’s nice to go back. It ’s fun to remember what it’s like to welcome a new little being into our lives, to see one another anew, each of us suddenly shifted to a somewhat different position, cast in a slightly new light.

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