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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

Tuesday Book Review: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” “The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” and “Bunnies, Crocodiles, And Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings”

April 24th, 2012

Hey. I started writing this book review several days ago, and it just is not going to write itself now, is it? Wait. I need another cup of coffee…

OK, I’m back. First up…

Presenting: “Bug Off! Creepy, Crawly Poems,” by Jane Yolen, with photographs by Jason Stemple ($16.95, WordSong, 2012, 30 pages). Do you know Jane Yolen’s work? Yes, you do. She writes the “How Do Dinosaurs…” series (“How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms?” “How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You?” etc.) and has published a whole bunch of other books, too. As far as I’m concerned, those guys making the big bucks in the NBA are nothing.

Jane Yolen is the rock star you should be worshipping.

She’s the author of “Owl Moon,” one of my favorite read-alouds when I do library work, and one of the best Young Adult books I’ve ever read about the Holocaust: “The Devil’s Arithmetic.” Jason Stemple? Yes, another unsung hero. His photos are spectacular and no, I am not using that word lightly. Go take a look. Visit their websites at Jane Yolen and Jason Stemple.

This is a fun poetry/science book wrapped into one. Twelve different bugs, plus a swarm, are profiled. Each gets a lovely poem, a cool photo, and a science fact box. My favorite is the honey bee. The poem begins like this:

“O Bee mine,
O blossom, please,
you are the best,
the true Bee’s knees.”

Ahhhhhh!

“The Pirate Girl’s Treasure: An Origami Adventure” was written by Peyton Leung and illustrated by Hilary Leung. ($16.95, Kids Can Press, 2012.) A pirate girl receives an unusual letter from her pirate grandpa and sets off on an adventure. What will happen along the way? This one is allegedly for the little kids, but my big kids had fun making the different origami designs illustrated in the back of the book. You can try your hand at making a hat, boat, or shirt, or all three. (The author was inspired by an origami model called “The Captain’s Shirt.)

“Bunnies, Crocodiles, and Me: Stories of Baby Beginnings,” is one of the sweetest, kookiest kid books I have ever come across. It was edited by Frederic Houssin and Cedric Ramadier, and is a compilation of works by nine different artists, including Peter Allen, Anne Brouillard and Katja Gehrmann. I do not know how this book came into my possession. I think it was in a box of goodies I was given when I was teaching.

Inside, you’ll find monsters giving birth to a new baby; bunnies upside down in a sonogram; and “A New Day,” by Bruno Gilbert:

“Sun is sleeping
peacefully
in his starry bed.”

It’s art, it’s poetry, it’s quirky and I think your kids will like it. Keep an open mind, and happy reading!

(I received two of these books as review copies. See disclaimer here.)

some random thoughts

February 24th, 2012

* watching General Hospital. I’ve never really liked Patrick all that much. OK, I’ve never really liked him one bit. But now, I’m kind of hating his guts because He Is Wuss. Also, where’s the hospital chaplain?

* why didn’t Sonny just shoot Anthony when he had the chance?

* I don’t like Kate much (Sonny’s old/new girlfriend). Or Maxie (the new one or the old one), Spinelli/Spicoli, who else?? I like Monica, Tracy, Luke. Dante, when he’s not w/ Lulu; Olivia, but not Steve Hardy; Lizzie, but only when she’s an artist not a nurse; Carly, Sean, Sean, Carly… I think that’s it for now.

* had a nice lunch with Steve — Indian buffet. oh, yum. i like having a little time alone with my husband, it’s cool. In May, it will be fifteen years since our first date. We went out for… Indian food! I dropped my naan in my water glass, I was so nervous ;)

* I’m trying to ease up on the coffee (one cup a day, #canshedoit) and switch to tea. Trying… trying… I do love my tea. Didn’t used to love coffee this much, but I’ve become quite the little addict over the years.

* speaking of giving things up… booze. It’s been ten months since I stopped drinking. Feels good every day. Clear-headed. The writing is going well, too.

* It’s hard for me to read the blogs and Facebook now, when everyone’s all, Is it cocktail hour? Is 10 a.m. too early for a drinkie? Moms’ Night, Wine, wooooooooooo-hooooooooooooooooo!!! Mommy Wants Booze, etc. Then they’re dissin’ on Whitney for being weak. Are you diabetic, or bordering on, but you still drink alcohol? Are you on anti-depressants and you drink with them? Are you depressed and you drink to feel better? (Alcohol is a depressant, keep that in mind, would ya?) Do you “need” that drink or do you just want one? Are you having a couple of drinks (or more) and then driving? Yeah, let’s not talk about addiction, America. I’d rather not have that conversation with you.

* All for now. Oh, yeah… I love this picture. Happy Friday, everyone.

– wm

"that tree"

(Photo by Steve)

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.

dang.

January 20th, 2012

what a difference two years makes.

Baby sez, I’ll bite ya! (photo by Steve Rawley)

Hello, Kitty

from Zoot and Sarah and others…

December 30th, 2011

King Woogie takes a nap
(photo by Steve Rawley)

thanks for the writing prompt, y’all.

1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before? Started working out every day.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I always pledge to get more writing done, and this year I did.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My girlfriend C! She had a little girl. Happy mama of four now. And K’s mommy had a little boy. Sweet babies.

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes.

5. What countries did you visit? USA and that’s it. Would like to travel to Canada next year and check out Butchart Gardens.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011? World peace. Again.

7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? Hmmm — the kids’ birthdays, probably. And Steve’s and mine, too.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Getting my first novel published. Also I quit drinking. Christmas Eve made eight months for me. It feels really good, and we’re saving a load of money, too.

9. What was your biggest failure? Not going there.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? No, knock wood.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Food.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My kids’. They make me proud every day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? People who are in charge who should not be.

14. Where did most of your money go? House and food and utility bills. And gas.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Planting our first garden at the new house.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011? Probably “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier, for sure.
b) thinner or fatter? Thinner.
c) richer or poorer? More content, that’s all I care about.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? Played.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? Cleaned house.

20. How did you spend Christmas? At home. It was peaceful and good, and we had good food to eat (in spite of a broken stove). For New Year’s Eve, we told the kids to invite their friends over for a kids-only party. Should be lively.

21. Did you fall in love in 2011? Man, I fall in love with Steve all over again every day. Thank God, cuz otherwise we’d throttle each other.

22. What were your favorite TV programs? Revenge, New Girl, Raising Hope, Glee

23. What was the best book you read? Whatever one I’m reading right now. Today, it’s Ruth Reichl’s memoir, “Garlic and Sapphires.” Funny and wicked.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? Pop music! The kids have established full and complete musical domination over us.

25. What did you want and get? Love and time with Steve and the kids.

26. What did you want and not get? For all of my friends (and for me, too) to get (and keep) jobs. Also for everyone to stay healthy and for no one to die.

27. What was your favorite film of this year? The final Harry Potter.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 47. My family made me homemade ravioli and cake poppers, it was awesome. We celebrated at home, and we celebrated after the fact, but for some reason, this just made it more special. Awww…

29. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? If it had worked out at my last job. But it didn’t. Next!

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011? Work-out attire, 101.

31. What kept you sane? Walking on my treadmill daily, doing yoga, meditating.

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Occupy protesters.

33. What political issue stirred you the most? Occupy and everything they’re doing to give our country a shove in the right direction.

34. Who did you miss? (Same answer as Zoot’s) As always: My Dad. My friend Frank. And, for our entire community cuz we’re all missing him, Rob. Frank and Rob’s families are in my thoughts daily.

35. Who was the best new person you met? My friend A, who I hope to spend more time with in 2012.

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011. Drinking makes you depressed. Who knew? hahaha.

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year you can’t get out of your head.

“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks you’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet.”

Cheerful, no? Music is a sign of the times, that’s all.

Happy Year of the Dragon, everyone.

– wm

Thursday Thirteen, Ed.#69: A Christmas Celebration, In Thirteen Parts

December 24th, 2011

Our Sorrowful Mother

(Photo by Steve Rawley)

(this originally ran Nov. 30, 2006. happy reading :) wm)

And now, for the Thursday Thirteen you’ve been waiting for: A CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION, IN THIRTEEN PARTS:

1. Mom and I decide to take the kids to the Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, for the 18th annual Festival of Lights. Petting zoo! Puppet show! Strolling carolers and people dressed like olden times, who ask you, “Do you know the way to Bethlehem?” (No, I don’t. But if you figure it out will you take me?)

2. I tell Mom I’ll buy her dinner first, c’mon, it’ll be fun. She is game. She tells me she’s never been to the upper level of the Grotto. I am floored by this. “IT IS SO COOL UP THERE!” I tell her. The kids: “CAN WE SEE IT? NOW, CAN WE? CAN WE TAKE THE ELEVATOR?” Me: “No, it’s dark. And there are cliffs. But next summer!” Also, I forget to bring donations for the food drive. Mom brought some stuff from her cupboard. And she insisted on buying us dinner. Wouldn’t let me pay for tickets to the festival, either. Moms are like this.

3. Both kids, shouting: “LOOK AT ALL THOSE LIGHTS! AND THE ANGELS, LIT UP! THERE ARE PEOPLE SINGING!” Followed by, “What are all those candles for?”

4. We go to the petting zoo, at Wacky Boy’s request. The volunteer gives us warnings: Don’t let the goats grab the whole ice cream cone full of feed out of our hands. Spin around if they try to. And around and around and around. Don’t give any to the alpaca. Or the horse. Or the rabbits. I lose track of all the instructions. We spin and spin. We are mauled by goats, anyway.

5. Wacky Girl: “HEY! I do remember this place!” (Good, since it’s the seventh time she’s been.) She and mom head off for the puppet show. She is the only one to call out the answer when the puppeteer asks the audience: “What does Feliz Navidad mean?” She is proud of this. She and Mom like the puppet show. Mom is wearing a cute hat, and her warm jacket. It’s not raining. Or snowing.

(more…)

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