Jan 30 2012

Father Daughter Cuteness

fatherdaughterThey had a photo booth at that Father Daughter dance they went to. Looking at this picture makes me want to die of sheer joy. In another time and place, the two of them could’ve made an unstoppable mime duo, don’t you think?

Jan 30 2012

Music Monday – Gotye and Kimbra

This music monday is a long distance hug for my little brother, Maestro de Bife, who just left for a year in Australia to do a hepatobiliary fellowship. Spell check does NOT recognize that word, but it’s for real – something about livers and such. The other day my mother was telling me what times to call him and kept illustrating different 15 hour time differences for me to try. My two thoughts were 1. ya ya ya, I can do math and 2. damn, he’s far away.

I love this song by Australian/Belgian Gotye. The whole thing is beautiful, but it sort of explodes around minute 3 and swallows you up. And it turns out Devil Baby really loves body paint, because she kept asking to watch this video over and over. YouTube Preview Image

Through the rabbit hole that is youTube, I discovered the awesome Kimbra. She’s from New Zealand but based in Australia and it’s hard to pinpoint her genre, except to say she’s a little soul, a little pop, a little jazz, and a lot catchy. There are moments when she kind of sounds like Santigold to me, in that she has a unique, silvery, slippery sound that’s hard to categorize but impossible to resist. Don’t let the fact that she looks a bit like Katy Perry fool you. This girl is legit. And also, possibly, has THE BEST collection of dresses ever. The pink in Cameo Lover and the black in Settle Down are to DIE for. And if you too find yourself going down the rabbit hole, don’t miss the Live at Sing Sing Studios sessions. There’s yet another dynamite dress in it for you – as well as a stripped down, soulful Kimbra. YouTube Preview Image

Jan 26 2012

Mad Hungry

bookI’m kind of the queen of buying gifts for people that I really want for myself. This Saturday night we’re going to an overnight dinner party at Gigi the Animal Whisperer and Ten Gallon’s “farm” with two other families. In addition to bringing fixings for the fanciest salad I can come up with (I’m thinking arugula with shaved fennel and apple, slivers of proscuitto and a champagne vinaigrette), I wanted to give Gigi and Ten Gallon a little token of thanks for hosting so many teens and children when what they were really after was us grown-ups! As they are the parents of three hungry adolescent boys, I stopped in my tracks when I spotted this book at Cooks of Crocus Hill. I couldn’t resist paging through it when I got home and the recipes look abso fabu. Big on flavor, big on heartiness, low on fuss. My kind of cooking. I love what Lucinda Scala Quinn says in her introduction about feeding the men and boys in her life.

Boys and men who grow up eating flavorful home-cooked food are more likely to cook for themselves. A man who knows how to cook is more self-sufficient, is a better roommate, boyfriend, father, and son. And as any wife knows, a husband who can cook is like one who can dance – the deluxe package. Huzzah!!!

Obviously, this holds true for girls too and like this author, feeding my family is one of my life’s great pleasures. It’s a way to be busy with my hands so I can listen to music and think. It’s a way to feel productive when I may be procrastinating figuring out what I’m going to be when I grow up. It’s a way to nourish and teach and share. It’s a way to show my love. And it’s a way for me to stack the deck in favor of ending up with a brood who will enjoy eating the way I do. If it is something we have always done together, it is something we can always do together. As my mother-in-law would say, bon appetit!

Jan 24 2012

First Feasts

green-eggs-and-hamSome families are really good at planning special alone time with one parent and one kid. We are not. We’re kind of an all-for-one-and-one-for-all crew. Several times a year, I get a bee in my bonnet about planning something alone with one of my kids, but then I never do it. As a result, my M.O. is to slap a “special time” sticker on an outing should I ever happen to find myself alone with one of my kids. A few weeks ago I dragged Devil Baby to a downright frigid farmers market and when we stopped for hot chocolate at French Meadow on the way back, I tried to act like it was some fabulous special time. She responded with barely more than a skeptical look while she ate her whip cream with a spoon. Apparently, it’ll take more than an errand and a hot beverage to get her attention.

This past Saturday, however, the stars aligned (or rather Doctor Dash decided, against all odds, to take the girls to a daddy daughter dance at our club) and I had Saint James to myself for the night. After watching him order the lobster poached in butter on New Years Eve in Florida and then meticulously inhale every morsel, crumb, drizzle, micro-green, bit and bite of a five course dinner, I knew what I wanted to do with him. I wanted to eat. Somewhere special. He was ready. Ready for Bar La Grassa.

securedownloadAfter his hockey game, we scooted downtown and without too much delay, scored a seat at the kitchen bar, so we could watch the action. Sitting shoulder to shoulder we watched while Isaac Becker checked plate after plate of gorgeous food coming off the line. We marveled at the pretty young girl in chefs whites working the salad station. We giggled at the server with the waxed curly cue mustache. We talked about books, movies, middle school and high school. We perused the whole menu, savoring the choosing almost as much as the choices. I sipped my Lambrusco Rose, he sipped his Shirley Temple. And we feasted. Plate after plate, passing before us, forks crossing, words murmured. Saint James was intrepid and curious and a joy to eat with. Here’s what we had.

Belgian Endive, Apple and Orange salad.

Calamarata with Raw Tuna (this is my must have – I dream about this dish)

Pappardelle with Veal Ragu

Crab Ravioli

Pork Ribs

Braised Greens with Ham Hock

I’ve had many memorable and happy meals at Bar La Grassa, but this one, the one with my boy, is my absolute favorite. There is nothing I love more than watching a ravenous kid eat, but watching a ravenous kid eat while his mind is being blown by new foods and flavors is a whole other kind of awesome. One kid down, two to go.

Jan 23 2012

Music Monday – The White Stripes

YouTube Preview Image Last week I had the pleasure of curling up on the couch to watch Under the Great White Northern Lights with Dash in the middle of the afternoon. There are some real perks to having a husband who works nights. His first day off after a week of work is a cobwebby affair for him – a day best spent having long lunches and catching a movie. Nothing too taxing, but entertaining enough to keep him awake during the hours he’s usually in a deep sleep. It felt indulgent, almost unseemly to be so firmly ensconced in our basement on a blustery January day, but hey, someone’s got to keep him company.

I loved this movie. If you like the White Stripes, you will love it too. And if you don’t and somehow I can convince you to watch it anyway, I can’t see how you won’t fall head over heels for this band (which is sort of a cruel thing to do to you considering they are no longer a band). No matter, this documentary is cool to look at, gorgeous to listen to and Jack White gives us a generous look into his creative process, which is impressive, fascinating and completely humbling What he does looks effortless, but as we learn, it is anything but.

Jan 21 2012

Chronos vs. Kairos Time

kidsThank you to Nanook who sent me this blog post by Glennon Melton, a mommy blogger who blogs for the Huffington Post. She takes a stand against the carpe diem ethos we live in. She holds up a stop sign to all those well meaning people who tell us to enjoy every minute with our children, that it all goes so fast. But my favorite thing about this post is that she reminds us of chronos time and kairos time.

Somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain, back from the époque of Birkenstocks, flannel shirts and Liberal Arts, I felt a little shudder of recognition. The ancient Greeks had two words for time and the distinction between the two is just so beautiful and true. Chronos time is chronological time, schleppy time, regular, minute-by-minute make the lunches, find the mittens, check the backpacks, drive to soccer time. Kairos time describes those moments outside of time, or in between time, when time stands still, something special happens and we see it – really see it.

We can’t live in kairos time all the time – that’s our lot as humans. But the striving for it, well, I think that’s our lot too. And our blessing. Sometimes we are bowled over by the kairos moments because they are huge and life changing. Take the first time you see your baby. Time stands still and every fiber of your being is attuned to that moment. Your focus is absolute, unwavering and yet effortless. But what about the quiet, small, maybe even imperceptible moments? Perhaps, by holding these two concepts of time lightly in my palms as I go about my day, it’ll help me to make sure I don’t miss those sneaky kairos moments that could so easily slouch by hooded by annoyance, inattention or concentration. Perhaps, the more limber we can be by moving between the two types of time, the more we will see with our hearts. And maybe it isn’t even about seeing the kairos moments, but about recognizing them when they happen.

This morning in chronos time:

7:30-9:30 I worked the concession stand for the school basketball teams. Friendly chatter with the other mom, busy hands making popcorn, coffee, setting out the chips and candy and Gatorade. Sneaking sips of my own coffee to try to shake off the tiredness. Dash arrives with the rest of the brood in time for Saint James’ game and I join them on the bleachers barely noticing that Supergirl has taken a seat behind the concessions table, ready to sell.

This morning in kairos time:

I glance out of the gym toward the concessions table and Supergirl is sitting with her hands on the box of money. She is wearing a fox hat, Carondelet tie-dye shirt, green jeans and snow boots. The second shift of concession workers has arrived and as some mother whom I don’t know is taking her coat off in the kitchen, Supergirl, with her hand still on the money box, quite literally, gives her the total stink eye. You see, my girl has always loved commerce. Ever since she was tiny, there was nothing more exciting to her than using real money to buy a real item. Shifts be damned – there was no way anyone was going to take her seat. I chuckled to myself, turned back to the game, and slipped back into chronos time with barely the flutter of an eye.

Jan 17 2012

And just like that

I became the mother of a boy who went snowboarding wearing nothing but a short sleeved t-shirt under his coat. I used to see these boys in the chalet, with their wind burnt faces and bare arms, slurping giant sodas, ravenously bent over trays of food or guffawing with their buddies. I used to see these boys and wonder about their mothers. Surely, a thermal under that t-shirt wouldn’t have been too much to ask for. A fleece neck warmer perhaps?

I don’t wonder about those mothers anymore. I’m just happy he’ll wear a coat at all. What’s next, snowboarding in a hoody? Over my dead body.

Then again, that’s how I used to feel about neck warmers.

Jan 16 2012

Music Monday – Nina Simone

YouTube Preview Image Resplendent in yellow, I love Nina singing Ain’t Got No – I’ve Got Life. This version is almost downright kicky, a perfect dose of sunshine and self-love for this Martin Luther King Day. And that dress? I want it. Enjoy. She’s incredible, isn’t she?

Jan 14 2012

Forever Young? We can certainly try.

I love this lady. I aspire to be this lady. Bring on the pink Mary Janes and culottes. Last weekend My Little Spring Roll talked me into going to what is basically a spinning class at our yoga studio. I had seen this class on the schedule, but truth be told, I probably wouldn’t have tried it but for the dangling carrot of some time with my friend. As I huffed and puffed and giggled at her attempts to tilt her bike with her tiny little body, I thought to myself: how lucky am I? At this point in my life and where I live, I am absolutely surrounded by women who love to move, who love to try new things, who love to laugh and break a sweat. I’m a yoga girl, and usually a solo one at that, but lately I feel as if not a week goes by without a text or email from someone enticing me to go for a walk, go to a hip hop class, go snowboarding, go to a dog park, go dancing. (Oh, the dancing. Fountain of youth, right there). Lady Tabouli has even taken me for a steam with the Jewish old ladies a couple times. Divine! I’m friends with more than a few crazy triathlon gals, but they know not to come a knockin’.

As I grapple with what it means to be over forty, I can’t help but think about the state of my body. Not necessarily because of how it looks, but because of how it feels. Or how I want it to feel. Those days of college dieting and forcing myself to the gym are a distant memory and shit, good riddance. Now, I’m grateful to have the time, the means and mostly, the health to be able to move my ass. We exercise for ourselves, and for the selves we will be in 10, 20, 30, 40 years. We exercise to figure ourselves out, whether it be a piss-ass mood or an eternally tight shoulder. We exercise to find our bliss.

My friends, I’ve been trumpeting this for a while, but I’m officially putting it out there: I am all about the limber. Limber body = limber mind = limber heart. See an adventure with your eye, say yes with your mind, chase it with your body.

What are the chances Pinky Tuscadero up there isn’t one happy old biddy?

Much thanks to all you movers and shakers. You inspire me.

Jan 13 2012

Wes Anderson – Moonrise Kingdom

Wasn’t I just talking about Wes Anderson last weekend? I swear, I was. Gushing, yes, a bit, perhaps.  Probably a shade defensive about the fact that I fall, unabashedly, hook line sinker and anything else he cares to put on the screen for his “hipster aesthetic.” I know it’s a thing, I know it’s supposed to appeal to people like me and you know what? It DOES. It so very much does. I love and adore everything he has done – Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Funny, sad, odd, and atmospheric, his movies are just a feast to me. They are all so beautiful, with such a distinctive visual feel, and yet they manage to take such a tender view of their flawed heroes and heroines. This one looks to be on par. I simply CANNOT wait.

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Jan 9 2012

Music Monday – Happy Birthday David Bowie

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David Bowie turned freaking SIXTY FIVE yesterday. He is like no other. He is spectacular. J’adore, like, for realz. Oh man. ANY Bowie song, ANY time, ANY where will send my hand to my chest in a dramatic I may swoon gesture. It’s Pavlovian. I love. I love. Lovelovelovelovelove! Check out this collection of 65 iconic images of the Thin White Duke and see if it doesn’t make you want to tape your boobs down and put on a tuxedo, or if you’re a boy, you know, the opposite. Hats off to you, Mr. Bowie.

Jan 6 2012

Music Monday – Howler, Florida and some sadness

seaWhere have I been people? I’ve been in Florida visiting my parents with the kids. I got to see Maestro de Bife before he goes to Australia for a year and got to meet his very sweet, very cool lady love. An extremely enthusiastic thumbs up from the peanut gallery on her! We had warm days and cool days, but the sun was always out and we got our injection of family and Vitamin D. Despite the long walks, the great meals, the beach with its constant source of peace and treasures, it was an odd week for me.

My heart kept flying back to Minneapolis. I would be squinting up into palm fronds dancing beneath a blazing blue sky, but my thoughts were with the people in the dark and muddy north. For starters, Dash and Foxy were at home, so there was that feeling of being slightly off kilter that comes from the family not being whole. Then there was the fact that Lady Tabouli and Lady Doctor Poodle’s mom died in the wee hours of the new year after a very long, hard battle with ovarian cancer. As I got to enjoy my mother, bustling around, doing the things she does, I wondered about my girls and how they were faring in Chicago at the end, but in some ways at the beginning, of a very hard journey. On top of that, I heard of Jack Jablonski’s spinal cord injury almost immediately after it happened through the Carondelet grapevine. A sophomore in high school, an alum of our little grade school, he was horrifically injured during a hockey game and will likely never walk again. It seems he may not even have use of his arms. It is heart breaking. It is a tragedy. There aren’t words for this. Again, thoughts of Jack’s parents, their utter agony, kept my thoughts pinned to Minneapolis. I still cannot stop thinking about this boy.

So for this belated Music Monday, a little something from home, from the place that preoccupied my mind when I was far away. Howler is a young band from the hood whom I had heard on the radio but was hugely surprised to see featured on Rolling Stone’s website. Go little dudes! They are darling and, in my opinion, quite good. A couple days before we went to Florida we had a small dance party with some families and after the tornado of goodness had passed, Saint James and I were lolling on the couch thinking about all the songs we wished we had played. It was late, we were tired, but there we lingered, luxuriating in the glow of the Christmas lights and the silently spinning disco ball. Can you find that song by those kids from our neighborhood? he asked, apropos of nothing. Ah, he had heard rumors. I grabbed the laptop and we watched it together, his head on my shoulder – a perfect ending to a perfect night.

Here’s a small reminder that at any one time, in any one place, there are myriad stories unfurling: endings, beginnings, heart break, triumphs and everything in between; a reminder that, for better or worse, the world just keeps on spinning. Enjoy. (And notice the basement of Java Jacks.)

It feels specious to say Happy New Year. But, what else is there left to say?

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