Mar 27 2012

Soupapalooza Week 4 – Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs

soupYep, I did it. Four new soups in my repertoire and they’re all keepers. Really truly. We all loved this one – it has meatballs, so ya, of course. Take a gander over at Simple Good and Tasty if you wish.

Mar 26 2012

Music Monday: Rome

Y’all don’t know this, but I’ve gotta a little thing for producer extraordinaire -Danger Mouse. He’s just one of those really talented, behind-the-scenes music people and everything he touches, turns to gold. Not necessarily in a commercial sense, though he has that touch too; rather, one simply knows that whatever he collaborates on and produces will be good.

He was one-half of Gnarls Barkley with Cee Lo Green, one-half of Broken Bells with James Mercer of the Shins and he’s worked with everyone from The Black Keys to Beck to Gorillaz. He’s everywhere.

This is a song off a new album called Rome, in which he collaborates with Italian movie composer, Daniele Luppi, featuring vocals by Jack White and Norah Jones. It’s a loving nod to classic Italian cinema, but with a modern sensibility. It’s a movie score without a movie and it sounds good to my ears, but then, when does Jack White not sound good to my ears?

Here’s a little warmth for low down in your gut on this dreary spring day.

Mar 21 2012


Saint James got a phone for Christmas because it was time. It’s a cheap little phone, not a smart phone. He can only use it to text and call. This way, when he roams, we can reach him and he can reach us. For the first couple months the phone was languishing somewhere in his room, usually out of batteries. Now it’s fully charged, in his pocket or in his hand at all times.

A few days ago, Dash heard it vibrating when he was saying good night to Saint James. Saint James played dumb and pretended it wasn’t his until Dash found it on his nightstand and saw that there were texts from a bunch of girls. They had a chuckle, Saint James was a little red-faced, but no biggie. I tried to look at the messages later that night, but he had deleted everything. Foiled.

Next came the talk about not deleting messages because we need to make sure everything is kosher, followed by the talk about being a gentleman and a good guy and a good friend in person, but especially in writing.

He seems reasonably open to our talks, although the texting is definitely on the upswing. Dash and I are doing the dance – all a’dither with each other about our kid texting with girls, but totally chill about it with Saint James, because it’s no big deal – you know, guys and girls should be friends. We’re trying to convey the rules and parameters, while giving him space and respect, while still letting him know we have an eagle eye on him, while allowing him to feel like his own person, while spying on him, without him feeling like we’re spying because we’re not really spying because everything we’ve read and heard says parents need to monitor this stuff, while not embarrassing him, while embarrassing him just enough. It’s a pickle and I, for one, am floundering.


This morning I picked up his phone to see if he had stopped erasing messages per our talk and I was horrified to find that the texting with many girls has jelled into an awful lot of texting with one girl. An AWFUL lot. And aside from the purposefully atrocious spelling and grammar, these texts were surprisingly substantive. They texted about books, movies, soccer, the new kid, homework and I had to stop reading because it just went on and on and on. Dash came home from work and I was in a state.

I don’t know how to feel. I know this is normal. I know this is good. I’m happy he’s able to have a seemingly normal friendship with a girl at the ripe old age of 11. I’m happy he’s a social creature. I’m happy someone else gets to see what a good kid he is. But but but . . .

I just feel like I’m standing on a cliff, the winds of change whipping fiercely around me. And I’m ill-prepared. This is my baby boy we’re talking about.

Mar 19 2012

Music Monday: Bruce on the Meaning of Music

Bruce+Springsteen+b7I just spent the morning carrying my laptop from room to room as I made pancakes, got the kids ready for school and tried to clean up for the painter. Do yourself a favor and watch or listen to Bruce Springteen’s keynote speech at SXSW when you can stay in one place. Make some meatballs and enjoy an hour of the funny and self-deprecating Boss dishing music history, anecdotes, jokes and adolescent angst all interspersed with a little illustrative singing and guitar. Bruce is a silver-tongued wordsmith and his drippy hot descriptions of doo-wop alone, are worth the listen. Hard work, grit and caring too much are what have made him a titan. But he sure doesn’t act like one. He’s easy and cool. BY FAR the most riveting hour of video I’ve seen all year. What a guy.

Mar 15 2012

Happy Birthday Foxy Brown (and a little pie action)

foxyLast night at dinner Saint James gasped, slapped his forehead and blurted out: Shoot! I forgot I was going to run to Kowalskis to buy a pie! He was so chagrined that we pressed  him about why he was so hot for pie and it turns out it was National Pie Day. To tell the truth, I’m surprised this got past me on Twitter and then, I too was sorry there was no pie. I think I actually snapped my fingers and hissed DAMN!

But how’s this for a silver lining? First of all, my kid likes pie. There was a time in his life when he would wrinkle his nose at all that mushy mush fruit in the middle. Secondly, and more importantly, I have passed on the yen to celebrate even the most obscure and tenuous things. My increasingly moody, tween boy had hatched a plan to surprise his family with pie and for that I am grateful. And a little proud. Usually that’s my job, but it’s a job I’m more than happy to share.

Which is why tonight we are celebrating Foxy Brown’s first birthday and a belated National Pie Day with a beautiful apple pie. Shhh. Don’t tell!

And Happy Birthday to our beautiful furry girl. It’s hard to remember life before her – my shadow, my pal, my sweet, sweet pooch.

We ♥ Foxy!

POST SCRIPT!!! It’s the morning after, and Doctor Dash came home from work and informed me that, by the way, it was National Pi Day, not National Pie Day. Oh, did we have a laugh. No WONDER I didn’t know about it! And no WONDER Saint James was rattling off enough of the trailing pi numbers (or whatever they’re called) to make your head spin. I thought that was the tangent. I guess I had my eye on the pie.

Mar 14 2012

Chores and Kids

kids-doing-choresThis article in the NYTimes was a good reminder to put my money where my mouth is, and force the chore issue in our house. I’ve been semi-decent at teaching my kids to “help themselves” mostly because I’m a worn out husk of a mother most days. I have long abandoned the notion that turning myself inside out to help with every little thing makes me a better mother.

Yes, I am lazy, but I do also believe we aren’t doing our kids any favors by rushing to help them at every turn. I still make their school lunches, but I haven’t put frozen waffles in the toaster for months. I’ll still pour the milk in the cereal for Devil Baby, but only if the carton is too full for her to do it herself. I only tie skates and cleats for the youngest. Unless it’s dangerously cold, I don’t even nag about wearing a coat anymore.

But I realize that teaching them to help themselves is actually a separate thing from teaching them to help me – and I’m failing miserably at the latter. Right now I’m staring at a muddy yard covered in the white fluff of a disemboweled stuffed lamb that Foxy went to town on. I sent the girls out to deal with it yesterday and frankly, they did a terrible job. Finger pointing, and so and so not doing her share ended up in exactly nada. They came into the house in a swirl of muddy shoes and loud recriminations and I let it drop. Because it was easier.

Earlier in the day, I had found myself picking up handfuls of disintegrating dog crap out of the garden because Saint James didn’t do it on the last cold day when I told him to. He had picked up a fair amount, but again, the complaints about it being stuck in the snow and impossible to pick up got him off. And it it got me elbow-deep in warm, wet dog shit. Was it easier than listening to Saint James gag and whine? Arguably.

How can I expect them to do anything for me if I don’t even make them finish the things I have specifically asked them to do for me? As the article points out, parents have no one to blame but themselves for this. I cannot expect that my kids would have any clue of what needs to be done around here, and even if they did, that they’d have any sense of responsibility to pitch in, if I’m not putting this into play in a more consistent way. Helping to set and clear the table just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Watch out, kids! Mama’s got a bee in her bonnet.

Mar 12 2012

Music Monday: Radiohead

radiohead-09Jan2012062224260000How could I not? Doctor Dash and I travelled to the ‘Lou for a quick 24 hour get-away to see Radiohead and dip our toes into the lives of our dear friends, Dolly and Soul Daddy. Radiohead is one of Dash’s favorite bands, and so, by virtue of exposure, proximity, osmosis and all the rest, one of mine too. He’s the one who spearheaded this adventure, however, and for that, I am grateful.

Not only did we get to have our minds blown by one of the best concerts I’ve ever seen, for realz, we got to do it as two little anonymous people in St. Louis, swallowed up in collective adoration of the band with their very cool, happy, energetic fans. And not only that – this complicated, heady, loud, bad-ass show was sandwiched between lots of beers and laughs and nibbles with Dolly and Soul Daddy. We got to love up their kids, peer around their cute house, perch at their kitchen island and listen to their tunes, while they kept us fed, hydrated, giggling and on-schedule for the show. It was a blast – as lightening quick of a frolic as is humanly possible, with as many words stuffed into 24 hours as humanly possible, but so very satisfying for every little corner of my heart. The shimmer lingers on. YouTube Preview Image (As you can imagine, I was swooning during the entire show, but I swooned particularly deeply when they played this song. I love it so.)

Mar 11 2012

Soupapalooza Week 3: A Luscious Cauliflower Soup

cauliflower soupNot for the picky eaters in my house, but man, oh, man, is this soup ever simple to make and tasty to eat. Creamy, divine and as white as that snow that seemed but a figment of our imaginations this winter. Check out my post over at Simple Good and Tasty!

Mar 7 2012

Love Ever After

loveeverafter3Oh, my friends, prepare for the prick of tears under the bridge of your noses.

This project by Lauren Fleishman is so beautiful. In Love Ever After, she documents Brooklyn couples who have been married more than 50 years. It’s the sweetest thing. The one that kills me is the little old man who says: Now I’m going on 88. My wife is 85 and I’m only wishing for another 5-6 years of life. That’s all we want.

I wonder – if you have lived a life so full of love, is it possible you are satisfied, filled up, complete, when you reach the end? Wahhhhhhh.

Mar 5 2012

Music Monday: A Little Stevie

I wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite Stevie Wonder song, but this one makes me want to groooooove. Looooooove. Happy Monday, people. All I do, is think about you. YouTube Preview Image

Mar 4 2012

A Good Reminder

dessaDessa wrote an insightful, smart op-ed piece in the Strib a few days ago, and though I’ve long known that she’s wise beyond her years, I have to admit I was chastened and a little humbled to read what she wrote.

Dessa takes on misogyny in rap – she challenges the pervasive attitude that disrespect to women is part of the genre and that if you don’t like it, you aren’t hip hop. She’s measured and reasonable, by her own admittance no girl scout in the profanity department, and she knows of what she speaks. She’s a rapper.

Reading, I realized that I have been way too cavalier about some of the music I let into my house and my excuses are vast.

1. My kids can’t really hear the lyrics and if they do, they don’t understand. This is ceasing to be the case, at a breathtaking clip. I know this.

2. The songs are “tall tales” – hyperbolic work that’s not meant to be taken seriously. Some of this stuff is so over the top, so gross, it’s funny. I’m not a prude (about words), I swear like a trucker, I appreciate a clever turn of phrase, a naughty line. Is this any different than some of the stuff Martin Amis writes? Charles BukowskiBret Eason Ellis? Norman Mailer? (This list really could be never-ending.) Just because you write it, does it mean you mean it? What of fiction in music? Well, arguably, if your audience is young and impressionable, it doesn’t matter if you really mean it. And in hip hop, it’s not really presented as fiction. Or is it?

3. The women being objectified aren’t real women – they’re somehow made-up women, hip-hop mannequins. So vastly different is their experience from mine, I was missing our basic glaring commonality: that we’re women. And more importantly, that my daughters will some day be women. And debasing any woman, debases all women.

4. The beats are just so good. That’s how they get me. Every. Time.

So am I going to stop listening to hip hop? No. Will I make my kids stop listening? No. Will I be more thoughtful about it? Yes. Will I point them in the direction of better, truer, hip hop – songs with stories and heart? I have and I will continue to do so. That’s easy, with neighbors like Doomtree and Rhymesayers.

Thanks Dessa, for the reminder. Nothing like learning from your minors.

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