Oct 29 2012

Music Monday: Macklemore

vote_no_cartoonI was driving back from school with Saint James when this Macklemore song came on the radio. After listening for a bit he said: this is a song about voting no, right? I listened a little more and nodded. Sounds like it, bud. I could tell he liked it because he shazammed it, which is how I remembered to go back to it and give it another listen.

We were out to dinner with a couple families a few weeks ago and one of the things we talked about was how interested and vigilant all our kids are on the marriage equality issue. I’m not going to pretend that they aren’t swayed by what they hear from us, but I think to a large extent, the ideas of equality, of acceptance, of ‘live and let live’ are intuitive to little kids.

Saint James had a friend with two dads back when he was in daycare. The option of two dads has been in his world view since he was in diapers. If anything, he’s flummoxed that this is even an issue. To him, it’s a non-issue – or it should be.

I never really “got” the whole lawn sign thing before this. I know what I believe, but I didn’t particularly see the point in trumpeting it to the world. I suppose showing solidarity is worth something, but to me, it seemed unlikely someone would ever be swayed by a sign on my lawn. I guess you could say I was peevish about propaganda – even propaganda that I believed in.

But I’ve changed my mind. The Vote No signs one every other lawn in our neighborhood are the reason all our kids are so tuned in. Even Devil Baby knows what the issue is and what side of it we’re on. Because she can read and because she can wonder, she knows all about this. And she’s six. Seeing a Vote Yes sign is like spotting a yeti in these parts. There is one near their school and Supergirl reports on it when she gets off the bus (apparently, it has been spray painted – which is a great segue into talking about freedom of speech). The signs spark conversation and that is everything.

I’m going to go pick one up tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy a song. Share it with your kids.YouTube Preview Image

Oct 27 2012

Shine your lights, bright mamas.

mama1A couple years ago, when I was auditioning to write for Simple Good and Tasty, they asked for a picture. Of me. Jesus! I thought. What does my face have to do with anything?

I’ve got tons of pictures on my laptop, but as I scrolled through vacations, lazy days in the backyard, snowmen shots and birthdays, I realized I wasn’t actually in very many of them. My first reaction was to blame poor, hapless Doctor Dash. I swear, sometimes that guy does not know what dramas, unilateral brawls, injuries and slights have unfolded in the time it takes him to walk down stairs and say hello to me in the sunroom. He is a patient man. But also, there are a TON of pictures of him and he looks like a handsome devil in most of them. It’s totally unfair.

It’s like I don’t even exist! I railed.

What about this one?

UG! That’s hideous!

What about this one?

Humongous zit!

What about this one?


What about this one?

Could I look more olive green?

What about this one?

Double chin.

What about this one?


What about this one?

Horse face.

That is only a mild exaggeration. Turns out, there were actually some pictures of me, just none that I liked. And as I thought about it more, I realized I’m usually the one holding the camera, which makes it very hard to be in the picture. But if I am being completely honest with myself, there are also many times Dash might have offered to take my picture and I might have demurred. After all, I am far from picture ready most of the time. Make up, hair, outfit and mood rarely come together so that I’m jumping in front of the camera. I rarely put pictures of myself on this blog because it feels showy and self indulgent and also, post-worthy pics of moi are about as rare as hens teeth.

So when I read this LOVELY piece by Allison Tate over at the Huffington post, I thought Oh my god, she is SO right. She writes:

“I’m everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them. Someday I won’t be here — and I don’t know if that someday is tomorrow or thirty or forty or fifty years from now — but I want them to have pictures of me. I want them to see the way I looked at them, see how much I loved them. I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother.

When I look at pictures of my own mother, I don’t look at cellulite or hair debacles. I just see her — her kind eyes, her open-mouthed, joyful smile, her familiar clothes. That’s the mother I remember. My mother’s body is the vessel that carries all the memories of my childhood. I always loved that her stomach was soft, her skin freckled, her fingers long. I didn’t care that she didn’t look like a model. She was my mama.”

I just love that. The idea that your mama’s body is the vessel that carries the memories of childhood. The idea that our physical beings are beloved to someone, even if not to ourselves some of the time. I am all about women, mamas, being kinder and gentler to themselves and yet I’m not sure I practice what I preach.

So here’s a reminder, for you and for me – get in the picture, mama.

Oct 23 2012

Summer Nugget: Just Keep Dragging Your Kids to Stuff

astronautalisI was scrolling through pictures on my phone the other day and stumbled upon this one from the Bastille Day Block Party this summer. As is increasingly the case, we had a moody Saint James on our hands that day. He wasn’t digging the bands or the scene and he didn’t perk up until we ran into Creeper Bud and familia and he had someone to pal around with. Never underestimate the power of a peep.

We were happily ensconced to the left of the stage, kind of behind the speakers when the eagle-eyed Creeper Bud spotted Astronautalis milling around before his set. He is absolutely adorable, as you can see. As dapper a rapper as ever did rap. Supergirl grabbed my phone and walked over to him, we pushed the littles to follow and she got some girl to take this photo while we looked on with ridiculous grins on our mugs.

The best part of this little summer escapade, however, was Saint James’ turn around. Nothing I could have done or said would have changed his mind more than a musical connection. Having heard the song Dimitri Mendeleev on the radio earlier and talked about it with Dash (apparently, Mendeleev invented the periodic table – the kind of fact both Dash and Saint James are likely to know and me, not so much), he had his aha ! maybe this IS cool moment as soon as Astronautalis took the stage and started to sing in his inimitably intense way. He was hooked. I was happy. And more importantly, vindicated.

Because how can anyone stay moody listening to cool live music in a crowd of happy people on a perfect summer afternoon? I have to remember this episode because with the teen years fast approaching, my role as the official familial “dragger to things” is only going to become more and more challenging. I’ve got to keep dragging, but remain detached from the reactions. I need to keep in mind that it is not in my power to make anyone like anything. That maybe if I drag but I drag lightly, it’ll become more about the thing and less about the mother dragging to the thing. Right? Right.

Oct 22 2012

Music Monday: Bob Marley

YouTube Preview ImageDoctor Dash and I watched the documentary, Marley, this weekend and we were both blown away. We’ve long been fans of Bob Marley’s and reggae in general, but it turns out there’s A LOT we didn’t know.

Directed by Kevin Mac Donald (did you ever see The Last King of Scotland? Oof. Good.), the movie revealed a shy, complicated, charismatic, spiritual and talented man. I guess I knew about as much about Bob Marley as could be gleaned from a poster in a college dorm room: dreads, weed, great tunes. His short life was about so much more and this movie was not only a great way to learn about his message, Rastafarianism and Jamaica’s struggle for unity, but chocked full of awesome concert footage and photos – a complete joy to listen to and watch.

Stir it up, little darlin’.

And speaking of stirring it up . . . Supergirl and Little Red totally played me and Big Red yesterday. They came home from the park claiming that the other mother wanted to take one last dip in Lake Harriet. How well they understand their mothers. Supergirl knows how fixated I am on the “lasts” of each season – and I played right into her hand. Big Red is just always super game for an adventure, so she was an easy catch too.

It was a gorgeous night down at the lake, so unfortunately we had quite an audience as we cringed our way into the frigid water. The lake is low, making a quick and dramatic plunge impossible. With so many eyes on us, we couldn’t very well back out and we were left to awkwardly Nestea plunge into two feet of water. Of course there was no avoiding the guttural shrieks of pain, but it felt great – and the balmy 65 degree air felt like a warm blanket allowing us to sit on the beach wrapped in towels as the sun went down.

Those stinkers. It was perfect.

Let it be written. October 21st, baby.lake

Oct 20 2012


tumblr_m8p73pMUxK1rqpa8po1_500Words by Anaïs Nin hand lettered by artist Lisa Congdon via Explore.

Boy do I hope this to be true. If you had told me when I graduated from college, or on my wedding day, or when Saint James was born, that I would be “living the confusions” so vividly at age 42, I would have rolled my eyes. Or I would have opened my mouth to argue, then shut it for lack of words. Or I would have scoffed. Maybe I would have laughed. But I don’t think I would have believed you.

And yet, here I am. So confused. And confused about being confused. I thought that “settling down” through the various degrees of it that I went through (dating, law school, marriage, kids) might somehow settle the matter of what I was to do with myself. I thought my path and my life was set. What could be more time consuming and fulfilling, after all, than raising a family with your best friend? Shouldn’t I be content?

It turns out there’s that pesky matter of the self – that despite being consumed and used up and fully immersed and engaged, wrung out and sometimes completely exasperated – just keeps popping up and saying Hey, man! What about me?

Don’t hear me wrong. I am happy. But am I content? That’s what that wily, whiny, stubborn self keeps asking.

Fall has always felt like a time of new beginnings for me – surely a remnant from back-to-schools of yore. These days, it’s when I climb out of the messy sweaty frantic 24-7 sprint that is summer with my kids and get a chance to think about what I do, what I could do, what I should do. You know, besides being a mom.

I think all the time. I think when I’m shopping for food and cooking it in big pots. I think when I’m at yoga and driving my kids. I think in the shower and when I walk my dog. I think when I’m reading, when I’m writing. My brain feels like a beat up old tennis ball and I am just bouncing it, bouncing it, bouncing it against the garage. Over and over. And nothing changes. Nothing becomes clear.

Maybe this is part of the process. Part of the answer.

I fucking hope so.

Oct 15 2012

Music Monday: Queen for the Champs

2012Our boys did it again. They won the Fall State Championship. I gotta say, this little team is on fire right now – and I feel lucky to be part of it. A team is an organism – a living breathing thing, made up of living breathing things and as such, it can and will change over time. But right now, these guys are golden. And I’m not just talking about the wins.

They are good kids in a good place. They are kind to each other and they are gentlemen on the field. They work their tails off – they really do – but from the outside, it doesn’t even look like work because they love soccer. They are serious and they are goofballs – like 12 and 13 year olds should be. They are strong and fast and elegant – individually and together. They are, in short, a total joy to watch. And although I can only speak for the little guy below – a total joy to parent.

santiSo in honor of the champs, a little Queen. Freddy Mercury, in his chest-less black and white unitard is just beyond. What a voice. What a loss. And it’s interesting to note that there’s a biopic of his life in the works. Yay!

Happy Monday y’all. I can’t get this stupid grin off my face.

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Oct 9 2012

Thank You Notes

I love this project by Leah Dieterich called thxthxthx. She calls it a daily exercise in gratitude and her ability to siphon out the smallest and most inconsequential things and moments worthy of thanks is just genius. I couldn’t stop reading. It’s funny, touching, silly, deep and honest all at once.


Lovely. And just too tempting to pipe in.

Dear Rain:

Thanks showing up and giving me permission to hole up inside without feeling guilty. Plus, you smell awesome.



Dear Coffee:

Even though I ignore you the rest of the day, you are consistently faithful to me in the morning and for that I thank you. You wake me up, you make me happy and most of all, you make me feel super industrious. Together we get the shit done that I would never have the motivation to do later in the day. You rock.



Dear Vino Blanco and iTunes:

I don’t think I could cook dinner night after night without you – especially you, iTunes. My kitchen would be a lonely place without you both.

Your friend,


Dear Devil Baby:

Thank you for being the first of my kids to indulge my love of Annie the Musical. Watching you concentrate with your ears to learn the words to Tomorrow almost made me cry. Hearing you riff and scat your own version while you put toothpaste on your toothbrush was even better. I hope you always find a way to make music.

All of my love,


Dear October:

Thank you for Halloween and harvest moons. Everyone loves September, but I love you because you are a little dark.



Dear Sugar Maple that I See Every Morning:

You are a stunner. Not sure if anyone has ever told you that, but oh.



Oct 8 2012

Music Monday: Neil Young

fall_leaves_617Neil Young sounds like these Autumn days we’re having. He sounds like heartache and a slowly retreating sun distilled into music. I love him. Always have and always will. I listened to a lot of Neil Young when I was young and I feel like it let my heart glimpse what it would feel like to be older. It still works like that for me. There is no one like him.

In this video from 1971, Young plays Heart of Gold and tells the audience it’s a new song. Can you imagine? He also fusses around pulling different harmonicas out of various pockets, making small talk – just the stuff that makes a live performance so compelling.


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Oct 2 2012

A Love Letter to Minneapolis

bldgsYou all know how much I love this little city of ours. You only need peruse the Little Apple category to the right to see all my love posts about this place. We had an August stay-cation this year that seriously rivaled going away in terms of watery adventure, delicious and varied meals, utter relaxation, culture, outdoor music and good old fashion bushwhacking. If you’re motivated and you have some time to stay put and enjoy it, this city just blossoms for you. The photo above was taken on a beautiful night on the Stone Arch Bridge during that week.

Almost everyone I know who lives here, loves it. And loves the kind of people who choose to make this their home. As a transplant, I am acutely aware of why it’s good here and why we chose it – because we did choose it.

The Huffington Post is running a series of love letters to different places and Monica Nassif, the founder of Caldrea (who also happens to live on my street) contributed a love letter to Minneapolis. I loved reading it the way you love it when a teacher praises your child. Yes yes yes! you nod, bursting with pride, a little teary-eyed and wanting to hear more.


Oct 1 2012

Young Mommy/Old Mommy

mirrorsI’m not exactly sure when I became an old mommy, but I am sure that it has happened. Maybe it was when Saint James became a middle schooler. Maybe it was when my Devil Baby went off to kindergarten. Or was it even before that? When she was potty trained? Or when she refused to be carried around on my hip anymore? Surely, a fiendish toddler hell bent on running on her own juice shouldn’t eject one out of young mommy hood prematurely. Surely, all that chasing and cursing and eyes in the back of one’s head has to count for something.

The transition from one to the other happened without anybody noticing, including me. But now that I’ve noticed, I can’t help but wonder at it. The young mommies are the ones pushing strollers, anxiously waiting for their kindergartners to come streaking out of school while holding a baby on a hip, maybe a dog on a leash. They look tired, perhaps, but they can handle it. They are young.

The old mommies either do not bother to pick up their kids at school and let them take the bus, or more likely are waiting in the car ready to peel out to make it to soccer or violin or Irish step dancing on time. The old mommies don’t look tired unless they happen to be hung over. Which is good because they are old.

Also, the old mommies are assiduously trying to avoid any eye contact with the young mommies. It’s not because we don’t like the young mommies, it’s not because we don’t think their babies are cute. It’s because we are scarred from our memories of being young mommies. Not enough time has passed to soften the edges of those exhausting years with a golden patina.

The young mommies, mired so deep in relentless baby raising and toddler chasing, don’t even realize how hard it is. The old mommies didn’t either. But when one emerges from it and starts to feel a bit of relief from the constant physical hands-on work, one suffers a bit of PTSD. An old mommy shudders when she drives by a park and sees a young mommy pushing a baby on a swing, staring off in the distance or making desperate small talk with another young mommy. An old mommy can spot a “playgroup” from a mile away and it hurts her heart a little to remember how much she used to look forward to her playgroup. How polite and chipper everyone was. How relieved she was when someone told the truth about something.

You see, an old mommy remembers how monotonous it can be to be a young mommy – how isolating and lonely it is at times. And so we avert our gaze and concentrate on the business of being an old mommy, which is pretty fun because we get to rush around, being really busy getting our gigantic, smelly, interesting kids all the places they need to be. Old mommies are on the fly and relish the mobility after so many years of being stuck – by naps, schedules and the all around pain-in-the-ass-ness of having to buckle people into carseats.

We old mommies imagine that we look stylish and windblown as we rush through the hall to pluck a child for an orthodontist appointment. We have time to wash our hair, after all. We are experts at setting up complex multi-family carpools and smile knowingly at the van load of pre-pubescent boys rapping in back. Maybe we wave at the young mommies killing time after school at the playground, but we’re probably too busy typing the address of that soccer field in Chanhassen into our iPhones.

Obviously, this is a caricature of two stages of motherhood, but I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that time and hindsight expose those early years for what they were: tiring.

I wonder if the moms of high school and college age kids are looking at us right now, shaking their heads at our preposterous calendars and all our DRIVING. Maybe they’re laughing at us because we don’t know what it is to have to buy gallons upon gallons of milk every few days. Maybe we only think we’ve smelled smelly cleats. Maybe we have no clue what it is to deal with teenage angst, attitude, rage or euphoria. Try sex, drinking, drugs on for issues they may scoff at us. Try having your child hate you.

I bet I look quite the fool driving with my windows down and my music blasting and my car full of polite seventh graders. I bet I do.

Check back in 10 years.

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