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took back my yard today

June 17th, 2013

Purple cluster

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

oh, hallo, yard, how have you been?

you are very beautiful, yard, but I notice you’ve developed a weed problem. here, let me help. oh, hallo, asters. keep growing. hallo, snake, are you dead? no? just dehydrated, eh? here’s a saucer or 4 of water for you. you’re welcome.

Roses of Sharon! I was hoping to see you. clover, goodbye. transplanting Shasta daisies, deadheading the roses. pulling up more pop-ems and picking fresh blueberries, raspberries and strawberries.

hi, summer. i love you.

wm

and now, how about a little song?

best parenting quote ever

May 20th, 2013

“Life gets a little trickier as you get older; it just does…. When my first child was born, [director] Costa-Gavras said to me, ‘They break your heart every day,’ and I thought, ‘Oh,that’s just so perfectly European and negative and I love having this baby. He fills my heart every day.’ Cut to now — I’ve got three boys, from 4 to 14 — and they break your heart every f — -ing day. They break it because they fill it.” — Big Bad Love’s Debra Winger, on the pains and joys of parenthood, on Reel.com

love you, bub

March 18th, 2013

Coffee for my love

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

I got this note from my husband last week, as the kids and I were heading out to dinner and the movies:

love you back, see you later, enjoy the show and please keep hands and arms inside until the ride comes to a complete stop.

And that kind of sums up our whole marriage. (big smile.)

May 9th will be the 16th anniversary of our first date; one of our kids turns 11 (elevenyearsold!!!!) next month; the other one turns 14 (fourteen!!!) in September; 15 years of marriage for us right after her birthday; “the sun is up/the sun is shining/the yellow sun/is over the house” — Dr. Seuss; baby, it’s spring again; and love… love was long overdue, and I’m glad it showed up when it did.

xoxoxoxo

wm

ps that was a song my friend wrote, a long time ago: “Love is Long… Overdue.”

“welcome to autumn, cussheads”

October 5th, 2012

watermelon

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

(It’s a watermelon, not a gourd, but whatever.)

This one’s for 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)

oh that poor little sucker

May 17th, 2012

I’m speaking, of course, of the kid and his mom, whose picture ran on the cover of Time. I’m not giving Time a damn link — go look it up if you haven’t seen it yet. Talk about Ways to Traumatize Your Kid.

Here’s my problem with the cover: The kid is 3-going-on-4, or 4-going-on-5, who knows, but looks like he’s 8. Just call him Milkman. His mom has the most defiant look on her face, it’s a little creepy.

I call it “We Are the World/We Are the Parents.”

“If you can breastfeed at 4, why can’t you breastfeed at 36? The age I am?” — Russell Brand on the Ellen show, 5/17/12

The whole mess reminded me of this post, the aptly-titled, “Unless You Push It Doesn’t Count,” wherein I tell other mommies “get off your vaginal high horse and shut the f#!k up.” You know when you need to criticize another parent? Pretty much the only time? If you see them hitting their kid. Or if you see them forcing the kid to do meth or something. Seriously. Those are about the only times you should say something. Tell them to knock it off; intervene if you can; call a cop.

The end.

sometimes…

May 9th, 2012

I find a how-to parenting post that I just love, that makes me say “ouch” and “i can do better” at the same time. This is one of those. (Thanks, C, for calling this to my attention.)

– wm

reading this week: “11/22/63,” “The New Jim Crow” and finally finishing “Great Expectations”

May 3rd, 2012

Those of you who have been reading me for a while know how much i love Stephen and Tabitha King. They are gifted story tellers, funny people, and I just get a little pissed that they don’t get credit where credit is due.

Also, Stephen just published this over on the Daily Beast and it’s a good read. Hear, hear. I finished his latest, “11/22/63,” a couple of days ago. I read the last two chapters first thing in the morning, because I had read ’til late-late the night before and it killed me that I keep nodding off and couldn’t get to the last bit. (One more reason to get a Kindle: When you fall asleep and the Kindle slips out of your hands, it is not nearly as bad as beaning yourself in the head with an 800-pound, 800-page Stephen King book. Just sayin’.) I loved this book as much as “The Stand,” and there is hardly anything in life, with the exception of my husband and the kids, that I love as much as “The Stand.”

Then I got in a lousy mood for the rest of the day, because I didn’t want the book to end. Even though it was 800 pages long. It is not often that a book I love as much as I love “The Stand” comes along. In fact, this is probably it now, for the rest of my life.

When that realization hit me, then I got a little aggravated. Because I still have a few decades left, but really, what’s the point now? (Kidding. I might only have a few years left, who the hell knows when their time is going to come? Just ask the Kennedys.)

There you have it.

“The New Jim Crow” is excellent. Get a copy and please STFU about how we’re living in a “post-racial society” and how racism “isn’t a problem for me!” Yeah, maybe cuz you’re white and not in jail, didja ever consider that? The author worked very hard on this book and it is fantastic. I can only read a few chapters at a time — it’s a lot of stats and info to take in. But you need to read it, and buy copies to hand out to your friends and family, and your co-workers who need a clue.

Stupid things I’ve heard white people say:
“Race isn’t a problem anymore, is it?”
“Race isn’t a problem for me.”
“She takes the whole race thing a little too seriously.”
“They need to stop playing the race card.”
“Black babies are soooooo much cuter than white babies.”
“Maybe Pablo will bring us some more towels.”

And that was just members of my extended family I was quoting there, not the general public. Woooooooooooooooooot!

Now, on to Dickens, because why not? I am not even going with the segues, I’m in a hurry.

HOW I LEARNED TO GET OVER MYSELF AND START APPRECIATING CHARLES DICKENS

I’ve kind of never read Dickens, to be completely forthright with you. Yes, I was an English major, thanks for asking! (Focus on women’s fiction and contemporary writers. Also Shakespeare. The End.)

I kind of thought Dickens was a jerk. My ma was all “‘Tale of Two Cities,’ oh it’s the best book ever oh you have to read it!” etc. and throwing a copy of it at my head and knocking me unconscious. Parents, heed my words: It is generally the kiss of death for an author when a parent says, Best book evah! and recommends it to their kid.

(Duly noted.)

I loved that episode of “Cheers” where Frasier wants to educate the guys at the bar, and starts reading aloud to them, It was the best of times/it was the worst of times…

Cliffie is all, Boy, make up your mind, Dickens, which was it? And Norm is all, That Dickens, he really liked to cover his butt, didn’t he?

So Frasier gets creative and adds in “a bloodthirsty clown that rises out of the sewers” and the guys were all, You had me at bloodthirsty clown, fully engaged. And I was all, I (heart) Stephen King. (See: Review above.) My point…

It’s that damn Kindle. You can get Austen, Shakespeare, Dickens, and many, many others for free. Best of all? You don’t have to actually read the books. You can just look busy and important, oh yes, I downloaded “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” I believe I’ll tuck into those this weekend. Then I’ll polish off “War and Peace” after that. So. Who knows why, but I actually started reading “Great Expectations” a while back. I think I was feeling cocky cuz I finally got through “Anna Karenina.” (Brilliant, by the by.)

I tried reading “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” aloud to the kids. No go. They told me they saw the movies, and my son recited the entire plot of “A Christmas Carol,” complete with crazy accents and his own interpretive dance, to us in the kitchen and that was that.

Turns out, Charles Dickens was something else.
Turns out, I love “Great Expectations,” although it’s taking me a bit longer to get through it than I thought it would, due to the fact that…
Turns out, “Masterpiece Theater” did a slam-bang mini-series of “Great Expectations,” which I accidentally (season pass on my tivo — blame “Downton Abbey”) tivo’ed
Turns out, I had to watch the whole thing, thus creating a little bit of a spoiler for myself. Whatever, it was so worth it.

Peeps, I am now a Dickens fan. Also am eighty percent through the book, go me. Dickens does his own variations on the bloodthirsty clown, quite nicely. Lovely, really. Yeah, you start throwing around the English-speak, once you’re enthralled in Dickens World. Where I want to go, by the way.

Yeah, the kids know all about him. There is no hiding my newfound love. This was me, tonight, to my son, who was complaining cuz I took his videogames away:

me: “Yeah, try being Charles Dickens, how about?”

my kid, laughing: “Dickens, heh heh…”

me: “You don’t have it rough, he had it rough. You know why? Cuz his dad went to prison. Cuz he didn’t pay his bills. And guess who went with him? That’s right. Dickens’s mom. And his little brothers and sisters, oh yes they did. How would you like that? And Dickens had to go work in a factory, even though he was only 12…”

my kid (already down the stairs, going to bug his sister): “Uh-huh.”

xo happy reading xo

wm

learning about U.S. history

February 14th, 2012

Fed up with Lewis & Clark and Thomas Jefferson — it’s all my kids have learned about American history at school so far (grades 4 and 7). So we’re watching Roots.

all power to the people,

wm

conversations with my kid

February 3rd, 2012

It’s true, what people say. The best time to catch up with your kid is right after school.

My 4th grader, yesterday afternoon: “The school counselor came in and we learned about segregation. Usually we just learn about bullying. We talked about why it’s not good to leave somebody out just because of… something. Some of us got stickers” (holds up his hand and shows me the sticker that’s plastered to it).

“Yeah, they’re scratch n sniff, they smell like Play-Doh. Then the kids got asked, How did you feel about that? And they were all, Oh, it was really bad, it was unfair. But really, they were lying. They were glad they got stickers and the other kids didn’t.”

me: “Do you think the lesson was maybe because of Black History Month?”

kid: “Nope. And that’s how we got… Punxsutawney Phil!

And then we had a talk about Malcolm, and Dr. King.

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