Monday, November 12, 2012


Aeron: "Say 'mouse'!"

Claire: "Mouse!"

Aeron, singing: "Doctor..... Coconut!"

Aeron: "Say 'mice'!"

Claire: "Mice!"

Aeron, singing: "Doctor...... Coconut!"

Aeron: "Say 'ground squirrel'!"

Claire: "Ground squirrel!"

Aeron, singing: "Doctor..... Strawberry!"

I have a life?

Editor's note - It has been brought to my attention that this post makes it sorta sound like I'm not happy. This is most certainly not the case. So, please start with the premise that there is nowhere I'd rather be than right where I'm at. And then, read the stream-of-consciousness below. Thank you. Carry on.

Here's how it happens:

There you are, having wonderful times and then, BOOM! Babies.

Suddenly, you're completely consumed by middle-of-the-night feedings and changing diapers and the oh-my-god-I'm-so-tired litany running through your exhausted brain.

Things get better. The babies sleep through the night. You actually get out of the house. Grocery shopping alone feels like a freaking vacation.

Then, you send the little darlings off to daycare. Which costs money. (However, the husband was glad to have his wife back) 

Next comes pre-school. More costing of money. Much paper coming home with crayon scribbles and a lot of cut-and-paste.

On to kindergarten! No up-front costs! Scads of paper! But only 3 hours; just enough time for a nap and a cup of coffee. Oy...

First grade. 6 blissful, kid-free hours a day! Time to do the laundry and mop the floors and get back to baking the bread from scratch and....who am I kidding?! More napping and wallowing in solitude before the rampaging hordes come home.With homework. That you have to help with. (shoot me now...)

Now. By second grade, you should have caught up on your sleep. You probably are actually getting housework accomplished while the children are at school. Homework has become a familiar routine. Dinner gets on the table, kids get to their activities. You got this.

Then, without warning, a light breaks gently over the dark horizon. A concert of a favorite singer/songwriter is happening. Oh..... but, the husband has a prior commitment. Bummer....

Now, wait just a damn minute.

I'm going!

(alone? without my man? but....but.....) 

Yes, darn it!

I'm a big girl. I can arrange a babysitter and drive to South County all by myself! I don't want to miss this and I'm going to make it happen.


I guess I do have a life.

Editor's further note - We had a blast at SLO DOwn Pub in AG!  To see what you missed, I offer the following:

Goosed on the astral plane

I'd like to publicly and humbly apologize to my treasure of a husband for an incident a few days ago.

Imagine the scene - It's oh-dark-thirty. In a dark Boudoir, two lumps are buried under a fluffy comforter. One blonde and one brunette. It's cool and the only sound is the peaceful croaking of frogs wafting through the open window.

Suddenly, the blonde lump jerks violently and shrieks, "EeeeYAAAAAA!

The brown-haired lump wrenches awake, turns in the bed and says, "what the hell?!"

The blonde collapses back into the pillows and says, "Uh...sorry, hunny. I was dreaming and someone grabbed me from behind. Not in a good way."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Oh, thank Goddess!

Miles and I attended a concert tonight. An attempt to not focus on Election Night.

Didn't work.

We had a lovely dinner at Buona Tavola. Then we scurried over to BellaSera to see Harry Manx.

Harry was fabulous! My goodness, the guy can PLAY! So, so, so sexy......

Also, the folks I voted for won.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Moments at Disneyland

Just got back from a visit to the Happiest Place on Earth with some dear friends. Allow me to introduce the new characters:

The Bug - 4-year-old cute little girl

Shortstuff - 17-month-old cute little boy

The Reverend J - Father of the Bug & Shortstuff

The Reverend M - Mother of the Bug & Shortstuff


RJ, holding Shortstuff in his arms: "I need a new teeshirt."
Me: "We haven't even made it in the gate yet."
RJ: "I just got peed on."


The Bug, the Wee Lassies, Miles and I head over to Tarzan's Treehouse. The Lassies charge ahead and quickly disappear.  I'm holding the Bug's hand. Miles offers her a lift, but she wants to climb the stairs herself. The Bug solidly marches up the stairs, the grown ups before and behind. After about 3 flights, the kid is fine, but I'm sucking wind. Miles looks at me, grinning and puffing, and says, "Reminds me of Notre Dame in Paris. '400 steps. No lift.'"


The Bug, presented with a plate of pasta: "I need a fok!" (grabs fork and begins singing gayly) "Fok, fok, fok, fok!" 
RJ & Me: ...... (clamp mouths shut/completely lose our shit)


The Wee Lassies, the Bug and I are watching the parade from the dining patio at the Plaza restaurant. A small boy, maybe 4 years old, moves close to see past the hedge. 

I glance over at his grinning father to see if he's ok with this. I get the nod. "There's room for you, sweetheart," I tell him. "C'mere." I pull him in and keep my arm around him to make sure he doesn't slip off the short retaining wall all the kids are standing on. He is completely comfortable, leaning against me and talking with me about what we're seeing, like he's known me for years.

The parade is way cool and we are all yelling and pointing at The Genie from Aladdin, Mickey, and the Princesses, when I feel a tiny hand on my face, turning it. I look down at the small boy and he says, face serious, his huge brown eyes on mine, "I have to go and I wanted to say goodbye."


I'm waiting for RM and Shortstuff to catch up to me when a man 10 yards away suddenly pitches forward, head-first, towards the pavement. Another man catches him by the arm before he hits, and lowers his jerking body to the ground as an older woman comes running up, shrieking in abject panic, "Baby! BABY! He's seizing! BABY!!! MY BABY!!!"

We are rooted to the spot, horrified at the emergency unfolding.

RM: "We need to call 911."
Me: "The First Aid station is right there. They must have paramedics on duty."

Sure enough, Disney folks come a-runnin'. The woman continues her heart-rending screams. The paramedics hustle over. They wade in and the woman stops shrieking.

Not wanting to gawk, we moved on, rather shaken.


Mid-day, foot sore, we head out the gate to over to the Grand Californian Hotel. The lobby is gorgeous, very Arts and Crafts: huge fireplace, solid and comfortable oak sofas and chairs, stained glass chandeliers. We plunk ourselves down and send the men for refreshments. My girls make a beeline toward a large screen TV that has around 20 miniature upholstered wooden rocking chairs in front of it. Disney cartoons are playing in an endless loop. The Bug heads for a table staffed by eager young folks who offer coloring pages and have a big copper mailbox to send your picture to Mickey. Shortstuff demands to get out of his stroller and munches Cheerios while trying to escape. Miles and RJ return with a couple of Kir Royals for the womenfolk and we all put our feet up and rest. It was a major act of will to get my butt off that sofa.


Standing in line for It's A Small World. RJ has his son in his arms. We're chatting, pointing out all the moving stuffs on the front of the building to the kids, singing that infernal song.

RJ, holding Shortstuff at arm's length: "He got me again."


Standing in line at the Teacups. Just the girls, Miles and I, 'cause RM threatened to throw up if she got on.  A father and daughter in a pink teacup. Her dad was crouched over the wheel, spinning it with everything he had. The girl was splayed out on her side of the cup, clinging for dear life, long hair flying like a flag in a gale. They were both laughing like maniacs.

We were next. Aeron choose the teacup, we got in and when the ride started, Miles did his very best to spin that thing at 450 RPMs. We all laughed like maniacs.

RM was right; us grownups felt a bit green when we staggered off.


We leaving the park just as the fireworks start. We are all pooped out. Miles parks our rented stroller and begins grabbing the stuff we had stuffed in it.

Miles, holding up a baby bottle and a couple of diapers: "Um. This isn't ours.
Everyone else: "Oh, no!

It is discovered that Claire's new stuffie, a Cheshire Cat with a very long, fluffy tail, is gone. Blue eyes got huge and a lower lip began to tremble.

A nice young staffer, maybe all of 19, approaches us and asks if he can help.

Miles: "Somehow, we must have switched strollers some where and my daughter has lost her Cheshire Cat."
Disney Guy: "Lost and Found is right over here. Let me take you and see what we can find out."
Claire, trying not to whimper:  "Daddy.....?"

We all head to L&F. No sign of the Cheshire Cat. The nice Disney Guy whispers to me, "if it's not here, we'll get her a new one."  I give him a relieved smile.

Disney Guy, aloud: "Let me go check something. Do you have 10 minutes to wait?"

We all nod.

While he was gone, we watch the fireworks over the trees. Claire and Aeron both lay down on the bench next to me and rest their heads in my lap.

Disney Guy comes back, hands me a voucher to get a new stuffie. Going back into the park is not a very appealing prospect. Disney Guy said the World of Disney Store on the way out has everything and more that they have in the park. We go there.

They didn't have the exact same stuffie, but we found a (more expensive) pillow pet. The voucher covered it and I make a big fuss about how lucky she was that she got an even better Cheshire Cat. Lucky for me, she buys it. (Secretly, I was a little disappointed we didn't have the original) Claire handles it all very well. Not a single tear. I am proud of my girl.


We take the tram to get back to the cars. Two rows in front of me, I swear I see Richard Hatch.


Every child is asleep before we get out of the Mickey and Friends parking structure.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

"What Shall We Do With A Teenage Sluggard?"*

Previously, I've talked about heritable traits on my side of the family. But there are some things that run on the Clark side worth mentioning, too. In specific, with the Clark men.

Not one of 'em gets out of bed perky. To a man, they are pretty much useless until about 9am. Oh, they may get out of bed earlier, but they stagger around bumping into walls and nursing coffee for at least an hour before their brains wake up. Which has its comic moments, believe you me!

But the trait most difficult to live with is what I like to call the "foodle gene". (This one seems to have skipped a generation with my husband & brother-in-law. Either that, or they've learned to compensate for it; I can't really tell.) If a Clark with a Y chromosome needs to be someplace, or do something, they will be late or cannot get started promptly because they must foodle. They seem to be genuinely compelled to make a phone call, or find a pair of socks off the floor or take a trip to the potty. All the pleading, hollering or jumping up and down makes absolutely no difference whatsoever.

So, what shall we do with a kid who seems to think that "we are leaving in 10 minutes" means "go hide in the bathroom with your iPod"? Or "go to the car now" means "leisurely find your shoes in your disaster of a bedroom and refuse to come out"? 

This is a actual question. I've tried giving 10 minute, 5 minute warnings, I've begged, I've yelled, I've discussed the concept of consideration for others. None of that seems to have the slightest impact. So, yesterday, I left the kid and went on my way. Leaving him home alone, unsupervised, to watch useless TV and/or eat all the sugar in the house. Brer Rabbit comes to mind in that scenario....not really the extinguishing effect I'm going for, ya know?

Anybody got any ideas?!

* to the tune of "What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor?"

UPDATE: I got an apology today regarding this incident. Rapidly followed by an insistence that he cannot read cursive writing and therefore did not empty the dishwasher or pull up the bins as my note instructed.

I'm gonna go have a cocktail now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Not getting the point

Claire: "Oh, my God!"

Miles (frowning): "What?"

Claire: "Oh, my God!"

Miles (frowning more): "What?!"

Claire: "Oh, my Christ?!"

Miles and Jen: "NO!"

Saturday, August 18, 2012

In the middle of the night: Episode 18

Once again, Miles is out of town. This time, it's a two night camp-out with the Boy Scouts. And, as is normal, there is no cell service out in the boonies.

"I really miss Daddy!" wailed Miss Aeron at bed time. "I wanna call him!"

"Sweetie. His cell phone doesn't work where he's at."

My only reply? A trembling lip and tear-filled eyes.

I managed to get the girls in bed, soft music playing and read a story in soothing tones. They passed right out. Whew!

Then I went to bed and passed right out.


Aeron appeared at my bedside, hair on end, clutching a bouquet of stuffies to her tiny chest.

"Mama, can I snuggle with you?"

I patted the bed on Daddy's side and she climbed in, arranged all three of her animals, cuddled into my arm and passed back out.

After 10 minutes or so, I whispered, "Boo. Go back to bed."

She gathered up her stuffies and toddled off.

And peace reigned.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Concerned mother, or whackadoodle food-nazi: you be the judge!

School starts next Wednesday and I've spent the last couple of days reviewing my lunch ideas, baking and stocking up on healthy snacks, like almonds and homemade banana bread. Today, I'm making pizzas and whole-grain oatmeal cookies with walnuts and organic dried fruit. I also made Irish soda bread with dried strawberries for breakfasts. I want to get the freezer filled so the first couple of weeks are less hectic in the mornings.

I've also purchased re-usable snack and sandwich bags, so I can stop using all those ziplocks which end up in the landfill. The girls have stainless steel, BPA free water bottles and neoprene lunch bags that are machine washable and fold up when empty so a kid can stuff 'em into her backpack and not lose it. 

I don't let my kids eat the school lunches. They have a fresh salad bar with some veggies grown in the school gardens, but that's not what they eat, if given the option. They eat the chicken nuggets and tater tots. Have you heard of "spent hens"? Um.... eeeeeyuuuuw-wah!

I pack lunches, each and every morning. If I'm feeling really ambitious, I'll sometimes even pack lunches the night before.  I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about food. How we should eat less meat, more legumes and whole grains. How I can combine these things to make new and interesting meals the kids will actually eat, instead of swapping or throwing them in the trash.  For the most part, my kids (reportedly) eat what I pack. They even share their homemade cookies with their classmates. They brag to the lunch ladies when they have Mama's homemade bread in their lunch. I'm so proud!

Does this make me, as Number One Daughter once opined, a "food nazi"? One of those nutty-crunchy, stay-at-home-moms who should spend more time mopping the grungy floors and doing the mountains of dirty laundry instead of agonizing over meals or the yield of my organic fruit trees and veggie plants?

What do y'all think?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

GodMother Camp

What is GodMother Camp, I hear you ask? Well....

These two lovely people:

invite all of these girls:

to stay for a week, while their parents are all here: 

having gin & tonics.

A splendid time was had by all.

We also got to visit with these two: 

 and also with fellow blogger Jen: 

Tragically, Rob wasn't with her. But I did get to meet her short people.

No one wanted to come home.

Monday, July 30, 2012


Sometimes, this living in a rural setting gets a bit too real, ya know? I like Nature, really, but I prefer it to stay outside.

It was a quiet night. The girls were down, Miles was over a friends' house doing emergency tech support and I was in bed, engrossed in a big, chewy biography of Catherine the Great. The window was open, with delicious cool air pouring in, the sound of crickets singing. It was bucolic as all hell.

So, Catherine was about to depose her worthless husband in a bloodless coup, when from outside, weird bird sounds erupted. Sounded like something had surprised the heck out of some sleeping bird.

That was weird. Ah, well....

(Someday, I will learn that when something sounds "weird", I should investigate. That day was not this day.)

Shortly thereafter, Miles came home. He stuck his head into the Boudoir, and I asked, "So, did you go to Trader Joe's?" We were outta milk.

"Gaak! I forgot. It's 8:45; I still have time." He ducked back out and headed downstairs. I turned back to Catherine.

"Jen. C'mere."

You know that tone? It's sort of flat, un-inflected, the sound of not good things to come. Miles used that tone.

Oh, shit. I got out of bed, and took my glass of wine with me, for strength.

Miles was at the bottom of the stairs, looking at the floor. Scruffy was crouched on the stairs, lashing his tail back and forth, his whiskers full of feathers. On the floor,, was a bird, flopping around in it's mortal agonies, gasping it's final breaths, and squeaking.

Miles looked up, and said in a stricken voice, "I stepped on it."


Miles went for gloves to remove the victim, as I chased the cat away from his kill. Scruff was all excited; galloping around the living room and pouncing randomly. Clearly, he was very proud of himself. I eventually managed to scoop up the cat and toss him out the door. Meanwhile, Miles had found his leather work gloves and scooped up the casualty.

"We're gonna need the shop vac," I said, looking at all the feathers on the stairs.

"I still need to get to TJs. I have 10 minutes!" And with that, the man left.

I got the vacuum and started to suck up the evidence, when I noticed a gooey wet splotch on the stairs.



Yuck. Miles did say he stepped on the poor thing.


 I was back in bed, when suddenly, it occurred to me. Where was Scruffy going with that bird? He was heading up the stairs......


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Family traits

I inherited 3 things from my mother's side of my family. The "Kurth Curse" or the tenancy to get fat, hypoglycemia, and severe "jumpiness". It is the last which concerns us today.

My mother and all her sisters, and to the best of my knowledge, all their daughters, share this trait. Startle us, walk up behind us and then speak, and we hit the ever-loving ceiling. It seems to be an overenthusiastic adrenalin response; what would normally merely surprise a normal person scares the pants off of one of us. It's as disturbing as it is unchangeable. It also leaves the sufferer open to some rather pointed ridicule.

Today was a rough one. Little girls were being truculent. The Boy was a complete spaz. I had this headache I couldn't get rid of.

By 8:30, kids were outta my hair. I had a glass of wine and was deeply absorbed in a Wikipedia article at my desk, when without warning, Cameron spoke, directly behind me. I almost had a goddamn heart attack. I shrieked like a bedlamite, Cameron started laughing his ass off and Miles came to see what the hell. With what dignity I could muster, I took myself and my glass of wine to the shower, hoping the quiet and warmth would be soothing to my pounding heart.

So. There I was, rocking in the calming spray, far, far away in my own head. Warm water, so nice....

A few inches from my closed eyes, Miles spoke.

Again, there was the shrieking. Thank goodness I wasn't actually holding my wine glass at the time.

The moral of the story? Lock the damn door! 

That was a compliment, right?

T'other day, one of my kids said to me. "Your eyes look just like blueberries. I wanna pluck one out and eat it."

Monday, May 28, 2012


Kid: "Why do I have to make my bed?"
Me: "Because I told you to. Your sheets haven't been changed in recorded history."
Kid: "But it's MY bed. Why do I have to put on a top sheet?"
Me: "Because that's the way to make a bed."
Kid: "Why do I have to do it your way?"
Me: "Because parents are here to show you how it's supposed to be done. If it weren't for your parents, you'd be an illiterate, smelly boy with green teeth who ate ice cream with his hands."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Perpetrating, and totally getting away with it!

Aeron lost another tooth this Thursday. It was a long, exciting day and we totally forgot to Tooth Fairy. She was pretty disappointed the next morning. I opined that perhaps the Tooth Fairy had had a very busy night. Put the tooth back under the pillow, I suggested, and she'll mostly likely get to it tonight. Problem solved, life went on.

We forgot again.

This morning when we realized we'd blown it again, Miles started stressing; we didn't have a gold coin (the usual gift), the girls were awake, maybe we should give up this nonsense, etc. 

"Just find me a piece of paper and a buck."

"Claire is sitting in the family room."

"A buck and a piece of paper and I'll take care of it."

He found me a folded up piece of copy paper and a crisp one dollar bill, then he went for coffee.

I wrote a quick note, with a pencil in my fist to disguise my handwriting. I folded the buck into the paper and tucked it into the waistband of my jammies. I found both girls in the family room, eyes glued to "Curious George". Scruffy was out there, too.

"Morning, girls"

"Good morning, Mama!" they chorused.

"Looks like Scruffy wants to play. Where is the ribbon he was playing with last night?"

Luckily, it's not on the floor of the family room.

"Did you take into your room?" I ask as I wandered that way, looking around.  In their room, I quickly made the switch, and wandered back out.

"Let's find something for him to play with", I said. A string was found, and they played with the cat while keeping one eye on the tube.

I went downstairs and then called up, "Are you girls hungry? Turn off the TV and come downstairs for breakfast."

They came down and asked for toast. "Toast?" I asked. "Are you sure? Neither one of you has much to bite with." Both girls grinned, showing missing teeth. "Teeth! What about your tooth, Boo?"

"Oh!" she exclaimed, then scrambled back upstairs.


"Mama! Mama!" She came running back downstairs. "The Tooth Fairy left me a DOLLAR and a NOTE!!!"

"Really? What does it say?"

Wide-eyed, she held up the paper and read:




Aeron looked at me, over her note, and said with a huge, gap-toothed grin, "Mama! The Tooth Fairy knows how to spell my name!"

UPDATE: We took the girls to the Dollar Tree to spend their loot. Cameron had informed Claire that those gold coins were worth a dollar, so they both had money to spend. They bought themselves sunglasses and Claire, with her second gold coin, got herself a water bottle. Everyone was happy.

When vanity poops out on you

Recently, I saw a current photo of folks I knew when we were all young and slim. Well, younger and slimmer than we all are now, anyway. Just like me, these people were (more) plump and grey. Which, of course, sent me down the rabbit hole of pondering the mysteries of getting older and appearance.

OK. So, I've packed on some pounds and my hair is getting silver and I can't see fer shit. Looking in the mirror is a bit of a shock, because how I think of myself, and how I actually look, are two waaaaaay different animals. So, now what do I do?

I color my hair. It's time consuming and messy if you color at home and it's really time consuming and expensive if you go to the salon. I'd love to give it up. But the percentage of grey needs to be higher before I go "au natural". It's at about 35-40% right now. I think. I'm holding out for at least 75% before I reveal the real me.

I've got the progressive lenses in my glasses. That helps, but I still have problems. Very, very frustrating. I was starting to think lasik was the way to go. The price is coming down, too. I saw an ad this week for $1500 an eye. Not covered by insurance, of course. Which limits my options. It's hard to justify that kind of expense when the kids need new shoes every three months and summer camps and activities need paying for. Then I found out that even should I get the lasik surgery, I'd still need reading glasses. So, never mind.

Which brings us to tonnage. Sigh.... There have been some legit reason why I've put on weight over the last few years. But those reason have been corrected (hallelujah!) and I am, slowly.... very, very slowly, losing weight.

So, why I quit my bitching and do something about it, I hear you ask? Well, I am, sorta. It's Spring gardening season and I have kicked my activity up a notch. I've cut way back on my wine consumption and eat more healthy foods in smaller portions. But do I get on the elliptical trainer that so festively decorates my family room? Not very often or for very long, anyway.

Here's my question. 20 years ago, or even 10, I would have never allowed myself to get this over-weight or to go out looking less than put together. Why am I not motivated to improve matters? Why does a well-groomed, attractive appearance not matter very much to me anymore? I clean up when I have to (don't want to embarrass the family) but for the most part, I'm in jeans and a tee shirt, no makeup, hair in a pony tail. Housewife frump. And I'm kinda alright with that. Mostly.

Am I simply more comfortable in my skin? Happily married, comfortable life and feeling no need to fight against the passing of time? OK with aging? Or, has vanity deserted me and I've "let myself go"?

My grandma used to say, "You get married, you get happy, you get fat." So, it's not just me. Some of my comrades from my mis-spent youth aren't married. But we all seem to be in comfortable places, life-wise.

I guess my question really is... is this a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not really sure. I struggle with this a lot.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Workin' the little people

I just got an email from the COO of Obama For America, the Prez's online re-election campaign. You would not believe the bait those clever-boots are using to get donations!

If you throw our boy Barack a bone, your name goes in the hat to attend a party at George Clooney's house!!!

Let's just take a moment to admire the sheer genius of this little ploy. First, here's the bold copy in the email:

Think about it -- and chip in $3 or whatever you can today to be automatically entered

For a ridiculously minor campaign contribution, your are automatically entered into this brilliant drawing. (No donation is necessary, of course, I discovered by reading the fine print) But what a hook! Even us middle class, suffering-in-the-miserable-economy folks can afford $3! If your name is drawn, you get to fraternize with the glitterati, hob-nob with the rich and famous, hang with the beautiful people. How many folks in our shallow, celebrity-obsessed culture would pass on that?

This is the latest in a series of savvy plots to extract money from the Democratic rank-and-file. At first, it was dinner with the President. Now, as the election heats up in earnest, it's a party at George Clooney's house. Oh, and they spring for airfare and hotel. Ooooooo, and here's a question! Is the bash in Los Angeles, or at George's villa on Lake Como?!?

I can easily see major brass rolling in over this one. Hell, I'm certainly gonna donate. But not because of George. (now, if it were a chance to party with his aunt Rosemary, I'd be all a twitter...) But I'd love to have a drink and shoot the shit with Mr. Obama. Oooooo, wonder if Michele will be there? That would be a party!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's really a matter of perspective, isn't it?

We had dinner outdoors this evening. A warm afternoon, a beautiful breeze and a simple meal; very pleasant.

The Wee Lassies are actually quite civilized these days. They put their napkins in their laps, (mostly) keep their elbows off the table and only chew with their mouths open about 50% of the time.

As we enjoyed the moment, Claire offered up this conversation starter:

"I learned something in school today about the olden days."

"Really?" says her father. "What was that?" I'm thinking she's going to talk about feudalism, or something along those lines.

"That there used to be this stuff called Styrofoam. And it was really bad."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

After a pretty nasty fall off her bike, which caused respectable road rash, Aeron tearfully opined, "I'm not gonna do any extreme sports. Ever!"

Friday, March 23, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

Discussing "Bread and Jam for Frances". 

Me: "What is your favorite food that you would like to eat all the time?"

Claire: "Ice cream!"

Aeron: "Broccoli! And, cherries!"

Thursday, March 22, 2012

1st grade in the 21st Century

I know I'm probably whining a bit much on this topic. But I just cannot get over how different 1st grade is these days. Definitely not your Mama's 1st grade! 

For example, this week, the girls are starting a unit on geometry (plane and solid shapes) and fractions. Fractions. In 1st grade.

They've been doing public speaking for a while. This week, Claire will deliver a 3 minute speech she wrote on her favorite kind of weather. Aeron already gave her speech this month. Hers was on the different series of quarters issued by the US Mint since 1999. Complete with examples glued to a foam board.

It's not that I don't think they can handle the ideas. Clearly, a 6 year-old can grasp the concepts. But what they can't do is apply themselves to their homework without a parent standing over them. Here's how a typical school afternoon goes in my house.

2:45pm - pick girls up from school, after yelling for them to get off the play structure and git in the damn car.

3pm -  discuss the whys and wherefores of what's on the snack menu. Produce the agreed upon snack. Snack is consumed.

3:15pm - Begin the homework struggle. The twins must be separated. Preferably on different floors of the house. Reading is first. Generally, they bring home a short book from school. On day when this systems breaks down, they choose one from their collection. They must read it 3 times. For some reason, reading works better at full volume.

3:55-ish - Reading is over and homework folders are produced. The girls have the month's assignments and they choose with one they want to do each day. Examples: "Go stargazing with an adult in your family. Take turns thinking of words that describe stars." or "Draw a picture of your favorite breakfast foods." or "Count the windows, doorknobs and rooms in your home. Display your results in a chart."

While I salute the wide varieties of ways the school is attempting to get the kids to examine and interact with their environment, I just come back to... how in the hell do they expect me to get two 6-year-old girls to count f**king doorknobs w/o losing my shit?!?! Seriously. Try it. It ain't pretty.

Around about 5pm, things are either very bad or over. If I've been particularly persuasive, the girls are done and outside playing. If Mama hasn't performed her parental judo very well, there's a great deal of whining and complaining. Sometimes tears and stomping. But hey! It's 5pm, so I can always pour a glass of wine and surrender to the forces of chaos.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

A sheriff's deputy cruised by in his black-and-white on our way home from school.

Claire yells out, "I wish I was a police dog!"

Friday, March 9, 2012

In the middle of the night; Episodes 15, 16 & 17

Recently, Miles attended a conference, and thus was out of town for several days. This doesn't happen much, so it was an, um, interesting experience.

The first night he was gone, kid-wrangling was much more difficult; Miles & I usually tag-team 'em to get the girls through dinner and the bedtime routine. So not only was there just one parent to manage two squirrelly girls, the squirrelly girls made a fuss about missing Daddy. There were tears and a decided lack of cooperation with the solo, frazzled parent. Also, I was a bit nervous. The house seemed too big, noises were more startling, the dark was somehow darker. I didn't leave every light in the house on, just a whole lot more than usual. I checked the locks on all the doors and windows at least three times. It took me quite a while to get to sleep that night.

At 3am, Aeron came diving into the bed, gasping that "someone had touched her right here!" and gesturing at her chest. I cuddled the child, thinking, she's imagining things in her anxiety, 'cause Daddy's gone. Then my anxiety got the better of me, and I told her I was gonna go check on Claire.

I peeped out the door of my room. Nothin'. No movement. No sounds.  Scruffy had been sleeping in my desk chair at bedtime, but he was gone.

I scurried to the girls' room. Claire was out cold, limbs akimbo, covers on the floor and Scruffy curled up on her pillow, resting his chin on her forehead.

Ah. OK.  It was the cat.

I pulled Scruff off Claire's pillow, and put him on Aeron's bed. Then I went back to my room, where a little girl was hiding under the covers with her bear over her head.

"It was Scruffy, Boo" I told her as I got back in bed. "You wanna go back to bed?"

Frantic head shaking was the answer. I heaved a sigh and snuggled her close. Such is the power of a mama-snuggle, she was soon relaxed and breathing deeply. When I took her back to her room, Scruffy was waiting for her, sitting on the foot of her bed. I tucked Aeron in, the cat settled down and I left. Only to be unable to go back to sleep for hours.


The next night, things went better. My confidence in my ability to hold down the fort was restored, the girls were a bit more cooperative. We'd had dinner at the church, and I got them in a warm bath and fresh jammies and read a story in record time. Lights out, and they went promptly to sleep. I only checked all the doors and windows a couple of times and I even managed to get both cats in the house for the night.

I have no idea what time it was when Aeron came lunging into the bed. 

"I had a nightmare! A bad one!" I tucked the freaked-out child into my arms and covered her up. "There was a mean alligator! An evil alligator! In our house!"

"Really?" I murmured. "Was it a purple alligator or a green alligator?"

"Green! With purple spots." 

After a few moments I asked "did he come in the front door or back door?"

"Front door." she told me. "And Daddy got a shovel and broke his teeth!"


By day three, we had gotten into a routine. The only wrinkle was Aeron's inability to focus on the speech about quarters she needed to deliver then next day. I was trying to help her, but gave it up when I saw I was wasting my breath. Dinner was smooth, the bedtime ritual went like clock work. I was in bed with a mug of warm milk by 8:15pm. Lights were out at 9pm.

Sometime in the wee hours, Aeron flung herself into the bed, sobbing, incoherent. Nestling her close, I stroked her hair and sssh'd her.

"Take a deep breath, Boo," I whispered. "Ok. Now tell me what's wrong."

"My coin report is ruined!"

Monday, February 27, 2012

A California Sunday

Yesterday, we did what any California family does in mid-February. We went to the beach!

It was glorious; low 70's, sunny with a nice breeze. We played at the park for a bit, then watched the Wee Lassies fall down in the surf. Next we hunted for cool rocks and driftwood, and played in the sand. Then finished our playdate by getting ice cream and cruising the antique mall.

Just perfect.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mama is the name; nutrition is my game!

I really need to get out of the house more.

Yesterday, I ran to Trader Joe's for milk and fruit. Due to all three kids being in a growth spurt/eating frenzy, a gallon of milk, a bunch of bananas and a bowl full of apples lasts about 36 hours. A box of crackers is lucky to make it to sunset. Oy.

So, I'm in line at TJs with my milk and another 10 pounds of fruit. The sweet young clerk asks if I want my milk in my bag. "No thanks. I go through so much milk, if I put every one in a bag, a whole forest would be used up by now." She laughed and said, "I don't drink much milk myself. Not even when I was little."

That when the Mama possessed me and took control of my mouth.

"You know, you only have a certain window of opportunity to build the bone density you'll need for the rest of your life." "Really?" says the willowy girl with the long, rippling hair. "When does the window close?" "Around 20 or so, I seem to remember" says I. "Oh, good. I still have some time." she said, smiling. "I thought so." I answered.

Our transaction was done, but I needed to get in one more bit of advice. She was encouraging me, after all.

"Yes, you do. And since you are tall and slim and Caucasian, you are at higher risk of osteoporosis." "OK, then! More milk!" Then the girl smiled and wished me a good day as I left. 

Public service or pain in the ass? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


My darling Boo finally said what every kid eventually says. To be honest, I expected it long before now.

"Mama! I don't wanna go to school!"

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Did she *really* just say that?

A new series here at the Fab Sub Adventure!

"Mom! You never let us take a nap after school!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Best Valentine's Day

I know y'all think this is going to be some mushy diatribe on the romance of marriage. And marriage is romantic. But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Married people have Valentine's Day all locked up. I want to talk to those who don't have a sweetie on this festival of Love. That's a lonely place and I'm here to help.

The best Valentine's Day I ever had was at a time I was profoundly single. I was living in SF; not really a target-rich hunting ground for the single straight girl, ya know? I was lonesome in a big city, working quite a bit and had no plans and zero prospects for V Day. My roomie Clay was also tragically single and we decided, what the hell? We don't have plans, let's go do the prix-fixe dinner at my hotel.

We got a bit fancy and headed out. The lovely folks at Roti always rolled out the red carpet for me and my guests; blowing past the crowd waiting in the lobby, we were immediately shown to our reserved table and plied with champagne. The room was full of couples at candlelit tables, all foofed up, and many looked rather tense. In contrast, Clay and I were fabulously relaxed (talk about no pressure!) and being attentively looked after by friends. The manager stopped by to chat. The chef came out and had a glass of wine with us. By this time, we were beginning to be the recipients of glances and murmurs, many of the expressions  a bit puzzled. Clay and I put our head together and whispered to each other, "Who are they?" "Are they famous?" "Should we recognize them?" We actually started to feel a bit sorry for the couples on their nerve-wracking dates.

After a few hours of wallowing in superb food, excellent wine and decadent desserts, we made our way home in a glow of contentment with the universe.

Romantic? You bet it was.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A love letter to a great friend

Modern life is complicated, people. You need to figure out what you want to "do". You need to find a way to pay your bills and take care of yourself like a grownup. You need to negotiate the pitfalls of romance and social interaction. Add a family, with all the responsibilities that go along with them, into the mix, and, well! You may just need a doctorate in psychology to get through this obstacle course of life. Either that, or know one who will give you free advice.

Thank goodness I have one of these. A old friend who will talk me down from the tower when I'm ready to scream, go fetal and start eating my hair. This week, I sent a despairing email, and my friend promptly answered, explained that perhaps, I was looking at things from an inaccurate perspective, plus sent links to online resources. I don't think he really understands how much this means to me. So, I will try again to express myself.

Dear B,

It was 17 years ago, in the days of care-free youth, that we met in San Francisco. It has been a hoot from the git-go; sneaking vodka shots in the Castro, vast quantities of Chilean Cabernet by candlelight, freezing our asses off walking around the City in July, and more pork roasts than I could possible count.

You and I are in vastly different places now from the days of yore. You are doggedly pursuing your dreams in SoCal and I'm wearily pursuing a set of squirrelly twins on the Central Coast.

Through all my many tribulations, you have been a amazing source of unending support and much needed reality checks. When I landed a husband and a ready-made family, you were there to celebrate with me and gave me a book on step-parenting. When my kids are driving me up the goddamn wall, you patiently explain, again, how all this behavior is developmentally appropriate. And when the fecal matter really hit the fan, you offered your help and support anytime of the day or night, because "emotional crises do not always keep business hours".  When you manage to get the time to visit, my children jump on you with maniacal glee and you play with them, and chase them until they drop, then read 'em a story and tuck them in bed.

English doesn't seem to make the words to properly express gratitude for that kind of friendship. The best I can do is say, thank you, very, very much, my dear friend, for all you have done for me, and my family.

much love,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Banter at Oh-Dark-Thirty

It was very dark. Middle-of-the-night dark.

Miles woke up and got a drink from the water bottle he keeps by the bed.

Me, under the covers: "That for all the world sounded like you just pulled a cork out of a wine bottle."

Him, taking another swig: "Time to party!"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The Wee Lassies got new bikes for Christmas from their grandparents. They were very thrilled and promptly started agitating for a BIKE RIDE! with Daddy. Daddy, along with Uncle Trevor and one of the neighbor kids, organized an epic BIKE RIDE!, which took a couple of hours and involved a long stop at the park to work off all that sugar and excitement. Meanwhile, Mama and Gra-Maw had a nap and Papa collected all the wrapping paper that was flung all over Kingdom Come. So, you know, a win for everyone.

Daddy has been working from home all this week, which is fabulous. The commute alone makes it all worthwhile. Miles gets up, mainlines some dark roast java, puts on his Woobie and heads for the Bat Cave. One of the big pluses is Daddy's availability for BIKE RIDES! during the day. So, yesterday, Daddy AND Mama took the girls on a BIKE RIDE!

I haven't ridden a bike since approximately 2003, but it's true you never forget. I hopped on Cam's new mountain bike and we all set off for the park. As we wended our way through the neighborhood, we passed a house with a family hanging in the front yard. A dad, and a few kids just relaxing in the California sunshine. Then one little boy yells out a greeting, "Hi, Claire!"

Claire shrieks, "JOSE! Hi, Jose! Mama! That's my friend JOSE!!! Jose! I got a bike for Christmas!!!"

The whole family burst into smiles.