Tuesday, May 31, 2011

8-1/2 Days Left of School

The holiday weekend was a big one for me, because I completed the final chapter of the book I've been working on for a year and a half (and had wanted to write for at least a couple of years before that, too). You know, the nonfiction "survival manual for the modern stay-at-home mom" partially based on this blog? Or maybe you don't know? Well, it's done--or, the first draft, at least. If you can hang on with me for a little bit longer, I'll (hopefully) be able to break my silence and fill you in on the details of what's going on with the book.

In the meantime, holla! It's almost the end of school. Julia has two more weeks, and, if I'm being totally honest, that's both good and bad. Mostly good (no 8 a.m. bus stop! no lunches to pack! no homework!), but the facts that a.) my baby is finishing first grade, and b.) she's leaving the best teacher in the entire world (no, I do not exaggerate) make me a wee bit sad.

Of course the most pressing concern of the week is her 7th birthday, and all that entails. I don't go overboard for birthdays--far, FAR from it--but as kids get older, birthdays do get a little more complicated, just by definition. For instance, there's the birthday treat for her classroom. And the fact that you can't just give a few toddlers a mini-cupcake and call it a birthday party anymore, not when the children are seven. But it will be fun; family coming to visit and all. I will be making two dozen cupcakes from scratch, and then decorating them to look like daisies, so pray for me.

And amidst all this, my daughters' new mattresses and beds are being delivered. (It's been seven years--and nearly five years for Genevieve--and we are, yes, finally dismantling and getting rid of the crib. We're not exactly overachievers in the big-girl-bed department.) They're coming sometime on Thursday evening, the day before Julia's birthday and before her grandparents arrive for the weekend. Because putting together new beds and washing/assembling new bedding sets and rearranging furniture to fit in a small bedroom is exactly what I should be doing during my daughters' bedtime, the night before a birthday, while I'm in the middle of baking cupcakes and planning a kid birthday party. Of course!

So much potential for hysteria, so little time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rain, Rain, Go Away

A lot of bloggers are silent this weekend because they're kicking off summer with family holiday getaways. More power to them, and I hope the sun is shining wherever they are. I'm not on a holiday getaway, but that's fine. For one thing, the price of gas means I would have to get another job to pay for it. And for another, I'm a homebody and if I have to be in charge of cooking, laundry, making beds and wiping bottoms, I'd rather do it in my own home where I have access to my king-sized bed and the leftover rhubarb crumble pie. I'm not saying I wouldn't love a real-life, bona fide vacation someday, one that involves sleeping and relaxation in a lovely locale with a beautiful view, but let's face it: when your kids are 4 and 6, you're not doing a whole lot of either. No matter where you are.

So we're at home, and although my pulled hip muscle means I'm still barred from running (not to mention the 30 Day Shred, of which I'm stuck at Day 27), the sun was out most of the day yesterday so I spent a lovely afternoon gardening with my girls. And by "gardening" I mean planting seedlings into outdoor pots and trimming bushes. So don't get any ideas about fancy flower beds or home-grown vegetables.

I also purchased nine small clay flowerpots and two six-packs of marigold seedlings for little girls to plant their own flowers during Julia's 7th birthday party next Saturday. We're having a flower garden theme, and though my best friend Kristi raised an eyebrow and said, "Too complicated. Hokey-pokey in the backyard and be done with it.", it seemed like a good idea at the time. Famous last words.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Slept on the Floor. In the Hallway. Until the Baby Stopped Crying.

The other day I was thinking about the time--long ago--when my older daughter outed me to my mother-in-law about how I once threw a board book to the floor in a fit of very-challenging-toddler-induced frustration, breaking the miniature ballerina doll off its cover. Did I ever tell you about that? I overheard her saying it, so matter-of-fact: "Mama threw this book once when she was mad and broke it." And then the grim silence that, even then, I had to sort of inwardly laugh about, because, of course, why wasn't she telling my mother-in-law about the fact that I SLEPT ON THE FLOOR OUTSIDE THE NURSERY FOR WEEKS AT A TIME? You know? Why wasn't she outing me about my dedication to from-scratch cooking or the way I did things like make homemade Play-Doh and nature collages with them, take them to the park every day, give them fruit-juice ice pops to eat in their swimsuits on the back patio? Oh, no. She had to tell about the one time I threw the board book. And broke it.

Do I even need to tell you that my mother-in-law and I have a very stereotypical mother-in-law-and-daughter-in-law relationship? Let that sink in for a moment. No, the throwing of the book story did not help matters.

Well, anyway, you get it, right? How life is a series of actions and events, some good, some bad, and what you remember isn't necessarily indicative of how things really were, most of the time? That's how I feel, now, often, when I see my daughters getting older and bigger and growing up so quickly, nearly seven and five now, and I think back to their baby and toddler years which now seem sort of quaint, simple, and fun. I sometimes catch myself thinking that I'd like to return to those past springs, the ones with toddlers, the ones with baby playgroups and stroller walks and naps. It seems like there were smaller things to worry about back then, and more opportunities for carefree fun, unencumbered by school and homework and learning to ride a bike, not to mention all the adult concerns and stresses that seem to multiply as the years go by.

But then of course, I realize I'm selectively remembering, and leaving out a lot of the truth--which actually involved an awful lot of crying, and hardly any sleeping.

Also throwing that book on the floor.

Let's just hope my girls remember the other stuff.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

First Post-Preschool Week

last day of preschool

First, let me just say that my heart goes out to the families in Missouri and Minneapolis whose homes were destroyed by tornadoes on Sunday, or, even worse, who lost loved ones in the storms. My family lives just one hour south of Minneapolis, and we get a lot of dramatic weather, but on Sunday the tornadoes didn't come close to us. Thank God. I can't even imagine what those affected are going through right now.

What I'm going through is a lot less horrible--not even on the chart of horrible, compared to having your home destroyed by a tornado or losing someone you love in one. I have a pulled hip muscle that is keeping me from running, doing the 30 Day Shred, or anything else that burns calories and keeps me sane. I'm pretty mad about it, if you want to know the truth. Doesn't my hip know that the pool opens soon, and I can't run off five pounds if I can't run? And what about my killer arm muscles from suffering through the Shred for 26 days? Are they going to disappear before I'm able to exercise again? Because that would be a shame.

In addition, Genevieve and I are going through nursery school withdrawal. Seriously, it blows. She's done with preschool a full three weeks before the elementary-school kids begin their summer vacation, so basically we're just sitting around being bored (her) and realizing there's no more kid-free time to do things like grocery shop or go to the doctor (me).

Like I said: not exactly complaint-worthy compared to tornadoes. But not exactly a good combination, either.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Thank Goodness the World Didn't End While I Was Enjoying the Peace and Quiet.


Last night I was on my own with the girls. Christopher left our house at 4:30 to drive to the city to meet an old friend for dinner and a concert, so I made a nice dinner for the girls and me, and we ate it in front of the open patio door as an unexpected flood of sunshine and fresh breezes drifted into the house.

They played trains while I cleaned up the dishes, and then I drew them a deep bath and scrubbed their grimy weekend bodies and hair and dried them with clean white towels. They calmly let me help them put on cool summer pj's and comb out their snarls. They played nicely while I took my own post-run shower and blew my hair dry. They let me brush and floss their teeth. They listened quietly to Mercy Watson Goes For a Ride, yawning with their bears and blankies.

Then I tucked them into bed, told them I was the only grown-up at home and I needed to work, so they should not fuss and call me back upstairs ten times. And then they went immediately to sleep at 7 p.m. while I sat downstairs and wrote, with a May wind sailing through the open windows and the TV broadcasting warnings of a storm on its way. No one cried. No one fussed, or yelled, or argued. All was peaceful.

I thought maybe it was the Rapture, but I think it was just parenthood.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Onward! But With Tears.

Just said goodbye to the teachers and walked away from the nursery school that has cared for my daughters for the past four years straight. Easily one of the saddest moments in my seven years of motherhood.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Assess This.


This morning Genevieve is scheduled for her kindergarten literacy assessment. That's when the soon-to-be kindergartners come to the elementary school to meet individually with a teacher for a brief session of assessment of their reading and writing skills, such as they are. Of course, most children cannot read yet, before kindergarten. They may recognize letters, and be able to write the alphabet, but probably not much more than that.

And then there's Genevieve.

The other day, she walked off to her little playroom desk, telling me, "I'm going to write chapter one of a book. My book is going to be called The Crown of Snow." She came back maybe 45 minutes later with an open blank-book and showed me the penciled pages she'd written. This is what they said:

1 Snowy Winter One day a little girl was playing outside in the snow when she heard her mom call: Lunchtime: And she ran in and stamped her boots on the splatmat and ate her lunch She was having a jelly sandwich and half a banana and raw sugar snap peas It was very yummy After she had her lunch she went outside to play some more It was very fun. Then it was morning snacktime Then it was naptime She was yawning and yawning She fell fast asleep right away Then she heard a shovling noise She hopped out of bed She tried to open the shades but she couldnet so she went out to the playroom and looked out the window Her mom was shoveling the snow She just went back to bed Very soon her mom woke her up OK she said

Later on she added another page:

The little girl was named Jessica She lived with her mom and dad which she called Mama and Papa and her big sister Arine It was time for Jessica's mom to go out and meet the bus Her mom made half an apple and almonds for their afternoon snack Then it was time to play outside Right then Jessica cried Look Arine Look There was a crown of snow! They ran to thier screen door and told thier mom and dad everything

OK, so she's not up on punctuation yet. And there's that whole part about morning snacktime coming after lunch. A couple of spelling mistakes. (I transcribed it as-is; she asked for spelling help once, for "shoveling," the second time.) And, by the way, "Arine" is "Erin."

Somehow I feel that Genevieve's kindergarten literacy assessment is going to be a bit...um...surprising to the sweet young kindergarten teacher. May the force be with her.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Images of Spring

It's spring! Oh, I know, it's probably been spring for two months or more where YOU live. But where I live, spring just came on Sunday. This entire week is predicted to be sunny, dry, and in the 60s and 70s--at last!--and yesterday on public radio the Minnesota state meteorologist reported that we haven't had weather this nice here for SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS.

Let me just say that again. SEVEN. AND A HALF. MONTHS.

At this point I stop feeling bad about all my constant complaining and moaning about winter, cold, snow, and rain, and start simply congratulating myself for actually living through it. Because: SEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS, PEOPLE! There are no words.

But now it is spring, and if there's anything that screams "spring," it's my Rhubarb Crumble Pie.


I know I often rave about recipes, but this one really is the best thing I've ever eaten. I could sit down with the plate and a spoon and eat the whole thing. I could make it every day. I could eat it for every meal. It's that good. I have this amazing friend Laura, and the other day she hand-delivered rhubarb straight to my door, thrilling me to no end because then I could make this pie. And she said I could have more rhubarb, anytime. Anytime! More pie!

Then there's another amazing friend, our neighbor Mary C., who recently--twice!--rang my doorbell, collected my girls, and took them across the street without me but with a scissors and a vase. And they came back with these:




And I died and went to heaven, with my tulips and daffodils and hyacinth and my pie.


And then there are new spring haircuts on little girls. (If you can't tell, it's about four inches shorter than it was before. I had skipped haircuts for Genevieve since before school started last fall.)

It really doesn't take much to make me happy: tulips, little-girl haircuts, pie. But I also need sunshine a few days in a row, without rain, subzero temperatures, snow, or 40 mph winds, more than once every 7-1/2 months. Does not seem like an unreasonable request.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Endings

Yesterday I happened to glance at the kitchen calendar to check on something, and my eyes fell on the box for this Friday, where I had written, "G.'s last day of preschool." And my eyes immediately filled with tears. It's going to be a hard week.

If I could stop time and just never live this week, I would. I can't bear the thought of being done at our co-op nursery school, where my daughters have gone for four consecutive years, where I met almost all of my current dear fellow-mom friends, where I volunteered as the president of the board of directors for a year and lost much of my hair and some of my mind in the process (no reflection on the school itself, which I love with all my heart, but on the sheer amount of work involved and the fact that right after I started, the very sketchy and seriously morally challenged previous director quit on us right before the school year began, skipped out on contracted work, and took our money. Uh, yeah, I could do without those memories).

And do you remember how wrenching the final day of preschool was the last time I had a child finishing preschool? OMG, do you remember how on that last day, the teachers read storybooks about starting kindergarten to the children, including one titled Will I Have a Friend? Gah! I can't take it. CANNOT. TAKE. IT.

Strangely, even though Julia's last day of preschool was two years ago, it seems like that day just happened. I remember the entire day vividly. I remember the wise words her teacher and school director told me--the same sentiment she reminded me of last week, at the year-end parent meeting, when I hugged her and thanked her for these years--how milestones never stop occurring, and there is ALWAYS more good around the corner, during the next stage, and how your purpose as a parent is to be as present as possible during each phase so that when it ends, you can bid it goodbye not just with tears but also with satisfaction over a job well done, and with happy anticipation of all that's ahead.

That was two whole years ago, and in two years my entire world has changed. I don't relish the idea of saying goodbye to the comforting familiarity of this major sphere of my mothering life. I'm not sure I'm ready to move on. But I'm taking the school director's words, above, to heart, and trying to be positive, be strong, and believe. That's what being a mom is all about.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Bet You Thought ALL Children Sleep in the Car.

Whew! Did you miss me? Blogger was down for three days, and I couldn't post anything here at all. I didn't lose any content, but I know some bloggers who did. I consider this blog a five-year baby book/memoir/chronicle of motherhood, and if its content suddenly disappeared I would be lost, as my friend Rita points out. Yikes. That is REALLY scary. Sometime let's talk about the Internet and how bizarre it really is, and how I will never truly understand it. Actually, let's not do that.

Moving on! I have a few disjointed thoughts for you this morning. You're welcome. (No, really, I'm sorry. I know disjointed blog posts can be boring and annoying. But I have been up late a lot recently and my tired brain is the very definition of "disjointed" right now.)

I don't think I ever properly, publicly thanked those of you who came to my book reading last week. Words can't fully express my appreciation for that. It was a weeknight, most of you have young kids at home, it's a busy time of year, and yet you took time out of your life to come downtown and help fill the room. You all are awesome! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Please let me know when I can return the kind gesture. If you have a book reading (or anything else), I will be there.

We have had approximately 3 hours of sunshine so far this week. OK, I didn't actually count, but believe me when I say it wasn't much. I used to think I could never live anywhere but Minnesota. (I have, in the past, but now that I'm back I always figured I'd stay.) Now I find myself seriously fantasizing about, say, Austin. NOT Austin, Minnesota, mind you (because there is one). Austin WHERE THE SUN SHINES.

I need a new job. I am really, really broke. Too bad jobs interfere terribly with pretty much everything else in my life. I have a kick-ass work ethic, so don't go thinking I mean that jobs interfere with, you know, lounging on the patio reading magazines. (I think I did that once in 2006.) I mean they interfere with raising children and sleeping. That sort of thing. But boy am I broke.

Genevieve fell asleep in the car last night for the first time in her 4-1/2+ years. We were about five miles from home, on an hour-long return drive from visiting friends, at about bedtime. The shock almost caused me to drive off the road. Five minutes later Julia exclaimed, "WHAT? Genevieve's ASLEEP?!" and woke her up.

Today Christopher is riding a 100-mile bike race in southeastern Minnesota. He left before the children woke up and will be home around bedtime. The sun is nowhere to be found and it's rainy and cold, so I don't know who to feel more sorry for--him, for riding a 100-mile bike race in the cold rainy drear, or the girls and me, for being stuck at home with no car alone for 12 hours on a Saturday in the cold rainy drear. Actually, I think riding 100 miles on a bike is worse.

And that's all I have for you, folks. Coming soon: something more profound and riveting than this.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

NEXT WEEK, People.

If the weather in Minnesota was always as atrocious as it has been so far in 2011, no one would ever live here. Seriously, I feel really bad for anyone who has moved here in the past five months, because they no doubt think they have stumbled into some previously unknown circle of hell where it snows until May and then mysteriously overnight becomes 93 degrees and crazy-humid, with tornado warnings, plus it's only sunny for a few hours every three weeks. It's not always this bad. The weather here is, shall we say, not for the weak, but it isn't generally this mind-blowing, sanity-threatening ridiculous. I swear.

I realize blog posts about the weather are more boring than...uh...talking about the weather. But I feel the need to blame the weather for something, and since I've already blamed the weather for my crappy mood, recent weight gain, decline in fitness, and wavering will to live (just kidding, by the way), I thought I'd add dementia to the list. Because the other day at preschool drop-off, two mom friends of mine mentioned that next week is the last week of preschool and I HONESTLY did not believe them. Here's me: "What? Not NEXT week, you mean. What?" And here's them: "Uh....yes....." (giving me odd looks). And then me: "WHAT? NOT NEXT WEEK!" And them: "Um....YES."

What? How is this possible? Yes, I know preschool ends on May 20th. I know it ends a full three weeks before the elementary schools. I just didn't know May 20th IS NEXT WEEK.

Before I had children, I could not understand why the moms I knew (co-workers, etc.) were always so frazzled toward the end of the school year. What could be so hard and busy about the last weeks of school? What, a picnic or two, a teacher gift, maybe some sort of concert or something? What's the big deal? As is always the case, now that I'm a mom, I chuckle at my former ignorant self. The end of the school year is BUSY, YOU ALL. A million things come up at the same time, and suddenly you're juggling field trips and parent meetings and talent shows and ice-cream socials and teacher-thank-you-gift shopping with all the other things you normally do. It can make your brain spin a little bit.

However, I don't blame end-of-school busy-ness for my lapse in mental acuity regarding the last day of preschool. I blame the fact that, since just over one week ago I was wearing A SCARF AND GLOVES AND THERE WERE SNOW FLURRIES IN THE AIR, I sort of lost track of the fact that it is indeed mid-May. And that next week is May 20th. Sob.

So, OK, OK, fellow preschool-moms. I believe you. Next week is the last week of preschool. (Forever.)

Monday, May 09, 2011

Recipes

In case you didn't know it, children's made-up recipes are HILARIOUS. No, really, they are. Even when the children in question aren't yours, reading a child's idea of a recipe is practically a guarantee that you'll laugh out loud.

I wish I could show you a photo of these two papers, but I can't right now, so please bear with me. Yesterday Julia and Genevieve each presented me with a recipe for cupcakes, complete with illustrations. Genevieve's is called "Mom Cupcakes" and the picture is a chocolate cupcake shape with blue frosting and a penciled stick-figure woman standing straight up on the top of the cupcake. The recipe reads:

How to Make it
Pink Blue Peach Black and Yellow Food Coloring
Sugar
Flour
Salt
Bake 20 minutes then make a mom with frosting
Put a candle on these cupcakes (for a birthday)
Genevieve 2011 (Age: 4)


OMG, are you dying? The part about "make a mom with frosting"??? OK, no problem! I'll just create a miniature statue of myself out of frosting! Getting right on that!

Julia's recipe is totally crazy. It is called "Our Favorite Grandma Cupcakes" (no details as to which grandma is their favorite). She said something about how grandmas like to knit so the cupcakes represent knitting. (???? cupcakes of knitting?) Her instructions read:

ingredients:
chocolate cupcakes
red frosting
blue colored sugar
black frosting
chocolate chips
pretzle sticks

Heat your oven 375 Fahrenheit.
For Twelve:
Step 1: Coat the top of the cupcakes with red frosting. (First bake the cupcakes.)
Step 2: Melt the chocolate chips
Step 3: Spread melted chocolate chips into squares.
Step 4: Coat the squares with blue colored sugar.
Step 5: Cut the pretzles into sticks the shape of knitting needles.
Step 6: Coat the knitting needles with black frosting.
Step 7: Arrange the chocolate chips to look like arm rests.
Step 8: Harden the squares of sugar.
Step 9: Apply the squares of sugar to the cupcakes.
Now they look like knitting! Enjoy!

OMG. Where to begin? Just...I don't know, people--that little offhand remark about oh yeah, bake the cupcakes first? The recipe is for cupcakes and the first ingredient is "cupcakes"? Dying. Then, what's with the ten million steps? How much time does she imagine anyone has? OMG, the pretzels (oh, excuse me, "pretzles") cut into the shape of knitting needles? First of all, um, aren't pretzel sticks already in the shape of knitting needles? I mean, basically? And then the part about coating the knitting needles in black frosting? What am I, the Cake Boss? Or, wait, even better--arranging chocolate chips to "look like arm rests"? WTF?

OMG. Laughing so, SO hard.

I am saving these forever, you all. (In case I ever need to make cupcakes that look like armchairs with knitting needles, or a mom made out of frosting.)

Could Be Better

Several weeks ago, Genevieve picked up our digital camera to take a picture of something and promptly dropped it, hard, on our kitchen floor. When I picked it up, the protruding lens was bent off to the side like a broken nose. And since I don't know how to operate or upload photos from my husband's "spare" camera, this is why I haven't put many photos up here in recent weeks.

Which is really too bad, because over the weekend my six-year-old lost her first upper tooth. She had lost two lower ones a few months ago, but it turns out that it's really those uppers that contribute to the adorable mithing-tooth lisp and jack-o'lantern appearance. Very adorable.

The big news here is that we had one full day of sun and warmth, last Friday. Woo-hoo! You would not believe what a great mood I was in last Friday. The weather has since returned to its gray, dreary, rainy state, so, I don't know, maybe that was spring? Or was it summer? Is it autumn again now? If so, kill me. Just get it over with. I can't survive another 7-month winter.

There's really nothing more to say.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Book Reading


So my book reading last night with fellow writer Katy Read went great. I live in a cute little college town, full of smart reader types, and the bookstore that hosted the reading is a cute little indie bookshop on the main street. By starting time, the place was filled, and I knew every single person there. Which just goes to show, a.) I live in a small town; and b.) I have great, sweet, supportive local friends and neighbors.

But the big moment of the night wasn't even at night. It was three hours before the start of the book reading, when I was at home with my family, and my parents, who live 300 miles away, suddenly and very unexpectedly came strolling up our front walk. They had driven all day to surprise me and come to the reading. Only my husband knew. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

So, the front couple of rows of chairs at the bookstore were filled with my husband, my parents, and my two little daughters--and how awesome is that? Never mind the fact that the reading began 30 minutes after my daughters' usual bedtime. Since Julia's first-grade teacher was there, at least she'll know why Julia is so sleepy at school today.

I didn't think I'd be nervous, because I didn't feel so beforehand, but when it came time to read to a roomful of BFFs, neighbors, fellow writers, my husband's colleagues, fellow preschool moms, old friends, new friends, and my daughter's teacher, well...I was. There's something about putting all your words out there to a bunch of people who've never heard them before, and may have their own ideas about you, that's a little nerve-wracking, it turns out. Plus the store was hot and I had a serious case of dry mouth.

And then when I read my last line about "a true friend," of course I glanced at my very best local fellow-mom friend, the one who's a sister to me, the one I talk to every day and who I could not live without, and so I almost cried. Um, oops? The essay is not supposed to be sad? In fact, it's not and I'm a total sap?

My girls were adorable and very proud, which was sweet and cute. But my essay is about how crazy and nonstop the life of a stay-at-home mom to young children is, and how there's never enough time for everything. How when they were toddlers, I was running a rat-race, one that required constant attention to their physical needs, one that left no time for an adult social life. It was worth--it IS worth--every second, and I say that in my essay. But it's still hard. And when the reading was over and I was signing books, Julia came and sat next to me and said, "Mama, your essay made it sound like your life is really hard."

And then I felt really, really bad.

I told her that some hard things are good, and some good things are hard. But really I want her to know that the hard part pales in comparison to how much joy I get from spending my days with my daughters.

I hope one day she understands.

Wednesday Night

Reading my essay in Torn at Monkey See Monkey Read bookstore, Wednesday, May 4th.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Updates

So by now I'm sure you're sick and tired of hearing about the book. Sorry about that, but it WAS released this week you know, so the publicity wheels are churning. The L.A. Times wrote about the book yesterday. You can read that here.

A little closer to home, I'm featured in a piece about local writers in my town's newspaper today. Click here to read.

But in case you were hoping to hear about something, anything, unrelated to book publishing from me anytime soon, a couple of updates for you:

  • I have done 16 straight days of the 30 Day Shred, and it's killing me. I reserve the right to skip it today, because I am giving a book reading tonight at the time I would normally be killing myself I mean doing the 30 Day Shred. No, I could not be doing it right now. I am busy drinking coffee and listening to NPR.
  • I tried on the swimsuits. Let's just say the swimsuits inspired the panicked beginning of a diet. In case you don't know me, "diet" means eating a little less ice cream and and maybe, I don't know, only one serving of cheese curls per day. However, after the swimsuit challenge, I may be moved to step it up a little bit. You know, do something radical like NOT EAT JUNK FOOD. Gasp!
  • My almost-7-year-old first-grader came home from school the other day upset because during a rain-cancelled recess, the children were shown part of Aladdin in the school gym, and she found it scary. My daughters, at almost 7 and almost 5, are still too scared to watch any Disney movies other than Cinderella (and even then, the evil stepmother makes them uneasy). But guess what? I'm glad. I think 4- and 6-year-olds--even 5- and 7-year-olds--are very little girls, and should be still doing things like playing dolls (baby dolls, not Bratz) and watching nothing more threatening than classic Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons. I'm old-fashioned that way.
  • Which is why I had to omit the "...the only good Indian is a dead Indian" line from the chapter in Little House on the Prairie I was reading to my daughters last night before bedtime. Yowza! Yes, I vaguely remembered that these books include sticky subjects like racism against Native Americans. And yes, that line could be a good entree into discussing racism with children. But not 4- and 6-year-old children, not in my house at least. I don't even want my sweet innocent babes to know yet that such sentiments exist. (Full disclosure: they have a Native American aunt and 3 part-Native American, part-Hispanic cousins.) When they're a little older, sure. But before bed when they're sitting there in their little lambie pajamas? No.
  • We had snow flurries here on May 2nd. And you wonder why I ate so many cheese curls this year. You have to drown your misery in something, you all. Minnesota is not for the faint of heart.
That all I've got for you, people! Come downtown tonight at 7:30 if you're local; I'll be reading at the bookstore and even my little daughters will be there.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Did You Miss Me On The Radio? You're in Luck.

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited on to Art Zany, an arts show on my town's local radio station, KYMN Northfield. Art Zany host Paula Granquist interviewed me about my writing, my life as an at-home mom of two, the new book I'm in that came out on Sunday, the book reading I'm doing this week in support of it, my blog, the book I'm writing about stay-at-home motherhood and self-care, and whatever else occurred to us at the time. It was super fun, and the 30 or so minutes I was on went by in a flash. I'd totally do it again! I love being on the radio, I've decided. It's awesome: you don't have to worry about what you're wearing or how your hair looks, as my friend Rita pointed out, and if you ignore the microphones, you can pretend you're just chatting with a friend. Awesome! I am super, super good at chatting with friends.

Oh, so anyway! In case you don't live around here and thus didn't hear the radio interview, and you're just dying to know what my voice sounds like, and if I have a Minnesotan accent, and how I really feel about mommy-blogs, my cumbersome last name, and always having company when I use the bathroom, click here to listen to the show. Make your kids be quiet, grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy.

Cover Girl Disappoints Me Again!

OK, this has nothing really to do with my mothering life, but I have to ask fellow moms: do you wear Cover Girl cosmetics, and if so, does the packaging ALWAYS BREAK on you? Listen, I know it's drugstore-quality makeup, it's economical, etc. But should that excuse the fact that pretty much every time I buy a Cover Girl makeup product, it breaks loooong before the product runs out (and often within weeks of purchase)? Currently I have a Cover Girl Lipslicks lip gloss with a broken cap--part of it is cracked right off--and this has happened with at least 3 of the past 4 Lipslicks I have purchased over the past 7 years. I also recently bought an Eye Enhancers 3-color eyeshadow compact, and both hinges on the cover have already broken. The same has happened many, many times with pressed powder compacts.

Listen, I'm not hard on or rough with my makeup. I almost never travel, I don't take my makeup bag to a gym, my children don't get into it, I don't drop it. I use it in the most unremarkable, totally mundane way possible. There is just no reason the cases and covers should break ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

So why do I keep buying Cover Girl cosmetics, you (reasonably) ask? Why don't I shell out some more dollars and buy some higher-quality department-store or boutique makeup that will stay in one piece? Well, I buy it because, despite their cheap and annoying packaging, I like Cover Girl products. I've ordered high-end stuff from Benefit and Sephora and whatnot, and I've yet to find anything there that its noticeably better, in my experience, that the Cover Girl products to which I am loyal. Their Olay-infused concealer pot is awesome. That eyeshadow kit I mentioned, above? The PERFECT shades of brown, beige, and pearl. Their pressed powder? I've used it for 20 years. My favorite eyeliner? Their Perfect Blend Eye Pencil. (But if you decide to go and try any of these products, be warned: they'll probably break.)

Also, I'm just a regular mom: I'm raising two kids on one income, I'm middle class if that, I'm trying to stretch a dollar when we can hardly afford the price of gas, and Cover Girl is reasonably priced. I can't afford to go to the Macy's counter and blow a hundred dollars on makeup.

So, if you're listening, Cover Girl, you've really let me down. I don't want to stop buying your products, because the makeup is good. But since it all ends up broken, I might have to be done with you.

Any other moms with me on this?

The Book Is Out!

Yesterday the nonfiction anthology of essays about motherhood Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, in which my essay "Is Never Good For You?" is published, was released by Coffeetown Press. It is now available for purchase--just in time for Mother's Day--so look for it on Amazon.com or at a bookstore near you!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

I Guess We're Skipping Spring This Year.

Since it is May Day, later today I am taking my daughters to deliver May baskets to a few friends and neighbors. Read here if you have no idea what May Day or May baskets are.

Of course, it would be nice if it wasn't cloudy, windy, cold, with a 24-degree windchill, and previous sightings of snow flurries.

SEEING AS HOW IT IS MAY AND ALL.

Kill me. Again.

Winter 2011: lasting until summer, apparently.