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August 30th, 2012


(Photo by Steve Rawley)

“Look! It’s a Hat!”

August 27th, 2012

You know how when you hear someone is expecting a baby, you feel compelled to share all your wisdom with them? Even if you haven’t actually had any babies? Uh, yeah. Most of us do it. Except the dog and cat people out there, who skip the advice and just chime in, I love my cats/dogs, they’re so much easier than babies.

No, they’re not.

For instance, our creaky, kind of kooky 15-year-old boy cat, Wacky Cat 2, (you may remember him from such blog posts as this one, or or this) decided to stay out all night last night and stressed Steve and me the hell out. “Stressed me the hell out” is a phrase I use way more often when talking about the cats than when I am discussing the kids, fyi. I went out on the back porch and called for him, and miaoooow!! There he was. Steve: “He never comes when I call him. I can’t believe all you have to do is call, Here, kitty, kitty, and he trots right up.” Me: “Yeah, after 2 1/2 hours!” Seriously. I was all, Woog! Woogie! Boogie! Here, kitty, kitty! starting at 6 a.m. Our poor neighbors. Miaooooow!! And he won’t tell us where he was. It’s maddening, really.

Next: Kids generally tell you before they throw up. Once they’re verbal, that is. Before that, all bets are off. You will not get that kind of notification from a pet.

My friends, a couple I’ve known since college, who are just adorable and yummy and live in the Bay area with their exciting life, have surprised us all by announcing they’re having a baby girl in a few weeks. I should have known, because they bought a house, and then they got a dog. Breeders. (Kidding. Congrats to the three of you, and blessings. You will both be great parents.)

They even posted pix of preggo mama on Facebook to prove it to us. Wow! Pretty woman. Love her. I promptly sent them a list of the top 5 items they shouldn’t forget to pack in the bag for the hospital (nail clippers for the baby, because the hospitals tell you because of “health codes” or something they won’t/can’t do it; sleeping/nursing bra, without underwire; the baby book, so they can put the footprints in that when they do the state birth certificate; a couple of sizes of clothes for baby; a couple of sizes of clothes for mom) (oh, and I told the dadd-o, for god’s sake don’t eat pizza or a peanut butter sandwich when she’s in labor. Just sayin’…), They promptly sent me back a note that said what they really need is 4 or 5 binders to gather up all the “helpful advice” they’re getting from everyone. My response to that was, Yeah, we’re all obnoxious, sorry. PS it usually takes about 3 weeks to get the hang of breastfeeding; it’s not exactly the most natural thing in the world.

Next time I hear a close friend is having a wee bebe, I’m going to keep my mouth shut. Because why shouldn’t they re-invent the wheel? We all want to. (Except me. I figure, that wheel looks good enough, I’ll use it.) Seriously, I like checking in with other parents, grandparents, nannies, bartenders… whoever… about child-rearing. I didn’t realize my first baby was teething until a mother of triplets pointed it out to me. (See: drool. See: cranky face. See: gnawing on hand.) I didn’t think babies started teething until… later. What the hell did I know? I was also surprised that she started scooting at 4 months and crawling at 6. Both of mine walked on their first birthdays, which was kind of hilarious. “Developmentally, you’re right on track!” were the first words out of my mouth. Kidding.

A friend’s husband also told me, worried, Well, be sure you don’t leave her on the table. (Cuz he did, and his girl went boom on her head.) Just… damn. Don’t leave them on the bed/couch/table/changing table/anywhere high up, unattended.

Some of them start rolling and flipping over from birth, it seems like. (It was three months and younger for our 2.)

“It’s just a matter of time before they’re locking you out of the house.” — my great-uncle to my great-aunt, when her kids were toddlers.

Truer words were never spoken. To wit: The time my kids locked me out. And the other time. And that one time when… Then there was the incident wherein my son smashed his Thomas the Tank Engine bang into my nose, stating calmly, after the fact: “Train coming.”

“It’s like those books, ‘You Never Know What to Expect…'” — my girlfriend Zip, when I was asking her for more advice. “That’s not even what they’re called! They’re called, ‘What to Expect…'” Her response: “Well, they should call it what I said, instead, it’s better.”

What is it, this desire to “share”? I think we all struggle with parenthood, especially that first year. Especially those first few months. Especially those first few weeks/days/hours/minutes. We want to make it easier for others than it was for us, maybe. Some people (Steve) take to it like a duck to water. Others (me) have to have the obvious pointed out to us. Some advice, however, is messed up.

* My granny, calling every few days while I was pregnant with Wacky Girl. She’d yell, Spina bifida, spina bifida! at me, then hang up. She was making me cry. So I finally said, Granny, I took my folic acid… I’m still taking it… My baby is not going to have spina bifida! “Oh, OK.” (click.) That was my granny, God rest her soul.

* The cow I worked with at Fred Meyer, who told me I really should have another baby right away (our daughter was 1 at the time) because what if something happened… And then she went off on it. Made me cry, just like my granny. I was hormonal at the time, due to the fact that I was already knocked up again and didn’t realize. Sheesh. One child can never replace another child, just fyi, cow-lady.

* You know what I told my friends who are soon-to-be parents? That I used to know so much about parenting. But what I know now, you could stick on the head of a pin and still have room left over for the Pledge of Allegiance.

* The only real advice you’ll need is what our ultrasound tech told us, excited, at the same time she was flipping out about my advanced maternal age 1) “Oh! My kid is 3. I’ll tell you everything I know about parenthood. It’s not the terrible 2’s, it’s the terrible 3’s. 2) Do you want to wear the green shirt? Or the blue one? 3) Do you want the yellow sippy cup? Or the red one? 4) After the baby comes, your dog… is just a dog.”

OK, I’ll add one more, cuz I can’t resist. If you want to make a baby or a little kid laugh, put something… anything… on your head and say, “Look! It’s a hat!”

The end.

“Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.” — Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)

on the nightstand this week: “Wild,” “Torch” & “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar” + 2 quotes

August 20th, 2012

“I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.” — Abraham Lincoln

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver, “The Summer Day”

I got those quotes from Cheryl Strayed. Aren’t they good?

Happy summer, everyone.

— wm

the Zombie Apocalypse, coming soon to a town near you

August 16th, 2012

My daughter to my husband: “During the Zombie Apocalypse, the item to your left will be your weapon of choice.”

Steve, puzzled: “My wife?”

Tuesday Recipe Club: Broiled Fruit Shakes, Lottie’s Peanut Butter Pie… and more on Granny’s Cookbook

August 14th, 2012

Broiled Fruit Shakes

Stay with me here. I know it sounds weird, but this is a chilled drink I tried a couple of weeks ago at that crazy New Seasons Market, and it is quite good. It tastes like a Fruit Crisp milkshake.

3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
2 cups coarse-chopped fruit (nectarines, plums, apples or whatever you would like)
2 cups ice cream or frozen yogurt (your choice of flavor)

Preheat broiler to high. Combine first five ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Add fruit; toss to coat. Spread the fruit in a single layer on a jelly roll pan lined with foil. Broil 5 minutes or until bubbly. Allow fruit mixture to cool. In a blender, mix 2 cups of ice cream or yogurt with a few scoops of the fruit mixture. Blend until smooth and enjoy.

Lottie’s Peanut Butter Pie
(This one is in Grandma’s handwriting, on a “Here’s What’s Cookin’” card that’s decorated with pictures of lemons. I’m writing it exactly as I found it. Lottie and her husband Darrell were dear friends to my grandparents for years – they met when they were young married couples, before their children were born.)

1 – 8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup crunchy p. butter
½ cup sugar
1 – 12 oz. Cool Whip

Blend in blender.

Pour into crust.

Choc. cookie crust,
Plain crust,
Graham cracker crust

Bon appetit, babies!

OK, back to writing now. Did I already mention that I was done with my Late, Dear Granny’s cookbook and memoir, and then I came across three more of her cookbooks?

Yes, I did.

Found the cookbooks, that is. As for already telling you this, who can remember?

My point is: They all had her handwritten recipes inside, and well. What is a girl to do? Of course I have to type them all up. Those of you who knew my Granny (i’m looking at you, Cuz 7), know that it was just her style, wasn’t it? To say, Wait, wait, looky here. No, looky. This is what you need/should do/want to take home with you. Do it!

That Nike motto, Just do it!? I think she invented that for them.

At first, I was a little stressed out. Because no offense but I am ready to be shut of this project. I have turned into my Granny’s Girl Friday. I can’t even find my desk anymore it’s so covered with scraps of paper, books and photos. But then I realized… it’s my Grandma.

OK. Back to work, and I’ll let you know when it’s done so you can buy a copy. (PS, I think I’m going to call it, “How Are You, Sugar?” You like that?) (PSS, If you still haven’t purchased a copy of my novel, well, what’s stopping you? lol.) I’m hoping today and tomorrow will be it for typing/writing. My mom is allegedly going over the photos and figuring out captions. Then Steve will do lay-out for it and we’ll be ready to roll it out.

I’ve loved working on this project, but I don’t want it to be the only project I do for the rest of my life, y’know? Besides, as my wise daughter put it: “Think how good it will feel to say, ‘Ah, my book is done!'” Only in this case, it will be “Ah, her book is done!”



photo of the day

August 14th, 2012

gone fishin'

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

Monday Book Review: “Chet the Architect,” “Chet the Architect Shows You New York City’s Museum Mile,” “The Day-Glo Brothers” and “Our House is Round”

August 13th, 2012

What happened to that book reviewer, Wacky Mommy? She must have taken the summer off or something…

Here I am, and Chet the Architect is first up on the review list. (“Chet the Architect” is a companion set from Butterfly Artistic Media, 2012. The learn-to-draw book is $14.95. The map and guide to nine New York City museums is $12.99. Unpaged. Both are written and illustrated by Kathryn Koller.)

Man, do I love New York. I haven’t been in many years now. This set of books makes me long to go back, and take the kids with me this time. “Chet” is a good introduction to art and museums, even if you don’t have a trip to New York scheduled in the near future. (The map is pocket-sized and handy to use.) You know what inspired my love of New York museums? Yep. “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.” Thank you, E.L. Konigsburg.

Chet McGraw loves to draw. Follow his lead in this built-in sketch book, and learn about NYC’s Museum Mile along the way: Museum for African Art, El Museo del Barrio, Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum, Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, National Academy Museum & School, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Neue Galerie New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Have some fun with these books! Your budding artists will enjoy them. The books are aimed at younger children, but I think would be useful for big kids, too.

I am a little enamored of “The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors” (written by Chris Barton, with illustrations by Tony Persiani, Charlesbridge, 2009, unpaged, $18.95). I came across this book a few years ago, when it was first released. Did you know that Day-Glo colors were created by two brothers, in their family’s basement, circa 1933? I love a good biography, and this one fits the bill. Brother Bob was destined for medical school, but had a bad injury that damaged his eyes and memory and gave him seizures. He had to heal in his family’s darkened basement. Brother Joe spent time with him, trying to figure out more about light and fluorescence, in the hopes of coming up with some new effects for his magic act. They built an ultraviolet lamp, started playing with chemicals (I feel the need to insert, Kids don’t try this at home… even though it worked for the Switzers…) and voila.

It’s a great story for kids — and creative scientists — of all ages.

“Our House is Round” (written by Yolanda Kondonassis, illustrated by the aptly-named Joan Brush, Sky Pony Press, 2012, $16.95, unpaged) arrived in time for Earth Day, but got covered by the litter on my desk.

Sad but true. Ms. Kondonassis, a Grammy-nominated harpist, has released 17 albums; proceeds from some of the records have gone to environmental groups. She is founder and director of Earth at Heart, which is a non-profit organization “devoted to increasing earth awareness through the arts.” “Our House is Round” is aimed at the 5- to 9-year-old crowd.

Wacky Boy’s review: “It’s a good book and it’s good for all types of kids, but especially little kids. It uses not-too-big words, and teaches them big words, too.” The glossary is helpful, and the list of things that people can do to make a difference right away.

Our guest reviewer says that the ideas for helping to protect Earth are “good sense, and not too big of things. They are things that kids will be able to do.”

Guest reviewer 2, Wacky Girl, says, “‘Our House is Round’ is a good book for little kids to learn about pollution and how it’s bad for the Earth. The illustration are nice.”

(My disclaimer.)

ahhhhh… Los Lobos

August 12th, 2012

We had fun.


August 8th, 2012


(Photo by Steve Rawley)

photo of the day

August 7th, 2012


(Photo by Steve Rawley)

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