May 30 2012

End of Year

montibubbleI always feel weepy around this time of year (and no, it’s not entirely because I’m looking at a landslide o’ kids in the dirty grinning face). The end of the school year is a marker of passing time. Another grade under the belt. One step closer to being an adult. A reminder of just how quickly this is all going. And I can’t even begin to talk about the fact that my last and final kindergartner will soon be bound for first grade. FIRST GRADE! It’s all a white knuckle ride from here, friends. The first 5 years. Slow. The next five. Fast.

But this particular end of the year, I’m distracted by my impending 20th year college reunion. On Friday, Doctor Dash and I will go right from kindergarten graduation to the airport, where we will hop on a plane that will take us to Notre Dame circa 1992. I’ve been spending my time this week freaking out about all the randoms I’ll be seeing, making plans via vast email and text webs with our crew of friends, laughing with Doctor Dash every time he looks at the website and gives me an update of attendees and planning my outfits. Looking good is imperative. Obviously.

So this last week of school, the week of field days, year end parties and bags of school detritus coming in my back door, I sort of forgot to be sad. I forgot to be mindful and thankful and weepy and swollen hearted.

Until this morning.

I found a note from Devil Baby’s 8th grade buddy in her backpack and I sat down to read it out loud to her. One of the sweetest things our school does is to pair up each kinder with an 8th grader for special events and masses throughout the year. It’s a golden friendship for those babies starting out their school lives and to see a pair of 8th grade and kindergarten buddies holding hands is to look at bookends of childhood. Devil Baby’s 8th grade buddy looks like a woman next to her, but really, she’s a girl who still draws flowers and hearts on her envelopes. Here is what she wrote:

Dear M,

I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the sweetest, dearest, funniest and best kindergarten buddy ever! I loved getting to know you so much!!! This music box was a gift to me when I was your age and the knecklace (sic) is from Ireland. I think the crown will suit you perfectly as well. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Love always,


p.s. I’m so glad you came to my play and thank you for the flowers! Maybe I’ll see you on the stage one day!

My heart is officially bursting. Oh, me.

How do we even begin to bear this kind of loveliness?

And how do I tap back into this feeling in about four weeks from now?

May 29 2012

Music Monday: Bon Iver Covering Bonnie Raitt

YouTube Preview ImageAs you know, I’ve got it bad for Bon Iver. Not only does he make the prettiest music imaginable, music that makes you stop what you’re doing and listen, he can also blow you out of your seat live with his giant band. I think Justin Vernon is brilliant, I ‘m a sucker for a male falsetto and he’s got a good one. No one does this song better than Bonnie, but man, does Vernon bring a whole other level of yearning to it. I found myself holding my breath. I Can’t Make You Love Me.

May 25 2012

There’s a New Pie in Town

pearpizzaI wrote a post over at Simple Good and Tasty about a school dad who is following his passion and having a go at turning it into his livelihood. It’s courageous and inspiring, and it must feel good, because I’m not sure I’ve ever met a happier guy. Read up, as his pizza is phenomenal and it’ll be super easy to find all summer. Hint: Linden Hills Farmers Market.

May 23 2012

Stress Dreams

I used to have them all the time: driving uncontrollably fast around a curve, forgetting to study for a test, not being able to find my parents.

Last night I had a doozy – it involved trying to make an important flight with my kids, and not only was I wearing deliriously high heels, I ended up forgetting to get boarding passes, misplacing two of my three children, going to the wrong terminal and having to run back through the airport’s absurdly dense outside landscaping. I finally woke myself up after I discovered that my phone was out of batteries and there was no way to get through the topiaries in time to make my flight. Not to mention the small matter of two of my kids being somewhere other than with me. Also, I broke a strap on my heels.

What the hell?

This couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that we have NINE MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL, could it?

May 21 2012

Music Monday: Dancing Teachers

This is hilarious. It’s a video of some teachers at a Massachusetts high school shimmying and dancing behind unsuspecting students being interviewed about highs and lows from the school year. A few of these dudes have got some moves! And not for nothing, dancing behind innocent unsuspecting strangers without their knowledge is, in fact, one of my favorite things in life.

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May 14 2012

Mother’s Day and Music Monday: Waylon Jennings


When my guys were tiny, I felt they had me literally on my toes. Every eye in my head, and then some I didn’t have, were trained on whoever happened to be at the age most likely to stage dive off the top step or slip quietly unnoticed to the bottom of a pool. It’s exhausting work, being the mama of small children and I’m here to say that it does get better.

For about a nanosecond.

All is well and good until one day you wake up and realize you’ve got to find those extra eyes in the back of your head again. You’ve got to keep your ear to the ground and cultivate a nose for news. You’ve got to be available and aware because everything gets quieter and more subtle.

What’s more, in the midst of developing these heightened senses, this deeper awareness of what’s going on INSIDE the heads of your kids, you have to pretend to be totally chill. You have to hone your casual opener to the finest edge, so they don’t even hear the envelope tearing, don’t even realize the contents are spilling out.

And while on this tightrope of respectful, cool, hyper vigilant awareness, you need to juggle, like, twenty three different eggs in the air. Because just as things are starting to get tricky in this new way, the shit hits the fan and your family is busier than ever.

This is where I am right now. I am barely keeping it together, barely keeping up – which is frightening, because I suspect this has only just begun. But I dig it. These young people are getting VERY interesting. Curiously, I think I might be better at this than I was at that. Maybe it’s because I have a keen connection to my goofy, confused, scared, and overly imaginative 12-17 year old self. For some reason, that part of my life is really vivid for me, and for better or worse, it may just come in handy.

How about a little country croon for all the mamas out there, muddling through with grace and humor? And when I say grace, I mean tripping and falling and flubbing and sucking and brushing ourselves off and starting again. Because every day is a new day, and every day we get to try again. Thank heavens.

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May 11 2012

Foxy Brown Done Got Shorn

shornfoxAre we terrible dog parents? Let me rephrase that. We ARE terrible dog parents. Not only did we accidentally make Foxy obese for, like, two weeks, now our wild yeti looks like an exquisite rat. Poor little thing.

The beauty of a doodle, as everyone knows, is that they don’t shed. And without the shedding, there goes the motivation and (we thought) the necessity of brushing them. Every once in a while we would brush out the top of her head to give her an 80’s metal hair band coif in order to amuse ourselves, but serious brushing? Nah.

If she were a Muppet, she’d be Ralph the Dog’s uncouth country cousin – the one with the wild curls and the lopey run, who picks her teeth with a straw and snorts when she laughs. We like her rough around the edges – as far from those frou frou poodles as we can get her. And she obliged by growing thick, unruly, gorgeous curls that made her look three times her actual size and housed twigs, burrs, leaves and, on occasion, legos.

But it was time for a summer cut and her gentle trim turned into a full blown shearing because of the gnarled mats that had grown on her ears, behind her neck and on her bum. I knew it was bad because her stylist called to warn me that she needed to take her really short to get the mats out. She also warned me that Foxy was super sensitive and that I should try to act completely natural when I picked her up. Just pretend she looks the same as ever, she said.

I should win an Oscar for my performance because OHMYGOD!!!!! FOXY!!!!! What a shock. Turns out, she’s this tiny little dog with a tiny little head. Here we thought we had a BIG dog. She is so wee and so exposed. And I must say, this sheepish embarrassed Foxy who is slinking around as if she’s naked (because she is) touches my heart in ways the giant yeti Foxy had yet to do. Her tiny frame skittering under the coffee table as if to hide is enough to make me weep. She presses against my legs for warmth, to make sure I still love her, and I suspect, so that I won’t be able to get a good look at her.

I feel like we’re seeing the true inside Foxy – her dear, vulnerable little self – not because we wanted to and not because she wanted us to, but because she was shorn, because of the mats, because we didn’t brush her, because we’re terrible dog parents.

May 7 2012

Music Monday: The Beastie Boys

fb2d5d0d2866c09bde38f500b1814f0483ce170bOf course, a little Beasties in honor of Adam Yauch, MCA, who died of cancer last week at age 47. It’s sad. He’s but a bit older than us and his arc, represents our arc. It’s more than cliche at this point to say that the Beastie Boys brought hip hop to the white kids, but it’s true – the Beastie Boys brought hip hop to this white kid, via the boys at our inner city brother school, U of D. Imagine me, with wild perm and silver braces, bopping around to Fight for Your Right (to Party) before I had any real party experience under my sailor rope belt.

I never got sick of the Beastie Boys and their shaken up beer spraying mug in the camera antics because they grew up too. Their music evolved and so did they, while managing to stay cool and relevant. “They spent their career gently deflating their penis balloon” writes Sasha-Frere Jones in the New Yorker. How hilarious and how apt. It’s true. We grew up. They grew up.

I’ve been reading about Adam Yauch in the last days and I had no idea he directed many of their videos under the pseudonym Nathanial Hornblower and started a production company that produced, among many, the very cool movie about graffiti artist, Banksy, called Exit Thru the Gift Shop – which I loved. In addition to all his work in support of the Tibetan freedom cause, he was a dad and a husband.

So here’s a video Yauch directed for the song, Shadrach, where each frame was painted by hand. It’s gorgeous and was included in the 22nd International Tournee of Animation.

Rest in peace, MCA.

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May 4 2012


zA voyage never fails to stir everything up inside of me so that when I’m back home, everything has settled back into its place, but in a slightly shifted way. I suppose that’s a rather inartful way of saying that you come back and see things differently.

I went to Argentina with my mom and my official position was that of wingman. I was there to help with heavy burdens, both luggage-wise and emotional. You see, my uncle, her brother, has melanoma and she (we) needed to see him. To say hello and then goodbye.

Maybe it’s because I was traveling with my mother alone, or maybe it’s because I was back in Argentina where I was born, or maybe it’s because we were there to spend time with someone we might not see again, but the time I spent there has a dream-like quality to me now. It’s as if the days had fuzzy edges, one bleeding into the next and although the time passed quickly, I have the sense that I was acutely aware of each bittersweet moment.

Strangely for me, I went into a zen-like state where I felt completely content to sit for hours in my uncle and aunt’s kitchen, drinking tea and chatting. Various members of my giant tribe would stop in to visit and I would sit (always in the spot nearest to my uncle) and listen. I had no agenda. There was nowhere else I needed to be. Nothing I needed to do.

I was there as a wingman. My job was simple. I made sure I could scoop up sadness where I saw it and tuck it away. I made sure I basked in my uncle’s kindness. I made sure I got a few beautiful pictures of the four siblings together when they happened to be in the same room. I took pictures of old pictures at my uncle’s house – that’s him with my aunt when they were itty bitty. Aren’t they cute? They met when my aunt was 13. Their’s was a love for the ages.

Argentines don’t mess around when it comes to conversation. We talked of faith and death, of health, of blessings, of family, of distance, of voyages, of politics, of so and so who knocked up so and so and acted like he didn’t know it until an intermediary told him he needed to check out the kid because it looked just like him and he did and it knocked his socks off and then he fell in love with and got married to the knocked-upee. They needed to catch my mother up on all that good old fashion juicy small town stuff. Oh, the stories.

My relatives are story-tellers and there is a certain Latin drama that runs through their tales making everything sound just a little bit magical to my Americanized sensibilities. There is something about this place and these people that resonates deep in me and I feel simultaneously very at home and yet very foreign. Dash saw this picture of me with my two cousins and one of their daughters and he said You can tell these are your people. You look like them. You fit with them.

I do.girls

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